Simon Says “Let’s Stop Climate Change”

Looking for a way to teach kids about global warming? We just came across this new DVD for kids 4+ that helps them understand what’s going on and how they can help. Cute animation and story lines: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tod62DS0E68

Cast of characters: Simon, the good-natured red hippo; Peep, a passionate environmentalist; Suzanne the Crystal Goddess, a bird with magical powers; and Bob, a skeptical rodent; children are taught through a direct, yet light-hearted narrative, about everything from the Greenhouse Effect and global warming to the food chain.

The official tagline: The DVD educates children not only about the causes and effects of climate change but also offers solutions for which children can take an active role (and even track by checking off and coloring each solution on the DVD’s fold-out poster). Among the solutions are the “Three Rs,” (reducing, reusing, recycling), composting, and carbon offsetting.

Official site is: http://www.hippoworks.com/

Life After Miscarriage: Time for an intervention

“We need to get you pregnant.” That’s how my doctor opened our last appointment. She knocked on the door, sat down across from the examining table, put her hands on her knees, leaned forward and said “I can help with that.”

So there I was, sitting with a paper gown around my naked lower half and thinking, ‘Woah. What just happened here?’

Yes, I do want to get pregnant…but how about a little “Hi, how are you? How have you been sleeping? How are your emotions?” My desire for emotional coddling was quickly overridden by the straight-forward approach though. After all, the whole reason I was at the doctor, was to find out what’s going on with my body and to figure out how to correct it as quickly as possible.

After recapping every blow-by-heartbreaking blow, including the fact that I was now on cycle day 44 with no sign of what I’m now calling ‘the second coming,’ the doctor and I agreed that there were at least a few things we could do right away.

First item on the agenda: blood work. “I’m going to test your thyroid function and your prolactin — both hormones can interfere with your body enough to stop menstruation.”

Second: Prometrium, a progesterone pill. “You’re going to take two a day for 10 days. Then you’ll get your period.”

Third: Cycle Day 21 blood work. “Come back on day 21 of your cycle. We’re going to test your progesterone to see if you’re ovulating.”

“And if I’m not ovulating?” I asked.  “I can give you something to help with that as long as you’re OK with a slightly increased risk of having twins,” she replied with a smile on her face.

So that’s the action plan. I’m still waiting on results of the initial blood work (much like I’m still waiting on my second post-miscarriage period) but I did pick up my prescription for the progesterone supplement. I don’t know when I’m going to start taking it though. I’m going overseas for the next week and I don’t want to be on hormone pills while I’m in a different country. The last thing I need now is to find myself hospitalized while traveling. No–that wouldn’t be good. So I think I’ll wait until I return. What’s one more week in the grand scheme of things?

Life After Miscarriage: One Step Forward and Two Steps Back

For as many steps as I’ve taken toward moving on, there are still days where I feel like I’m caught in quicksand.

No matter how much I work, or how many weekend trips I plan, or how many runs I do in the morning, no matter how much I fill my day planner, I cannot escape the miscarriage. I’ve tried my best to fill my life with work, and friends, and church, and books, and magazines, and exercise. I’ve tried not to leave any room for grief. But somehow, it keeps finding its way in.

If I’m quiet for one moment, I slip into a daydream where I imagine myself six months pregnant or decorating a nursery.  I catch myself imagining my husband rolling over in the morning and kissing my big belly, whispering to our son or daughter.

I fall into pockets of sadness in the mundane moments of my life – just today, in the simplest act of wiping down the sink after rinsing dishes.  I had to turn away from my husband because I didn’t want him to see the tears in my eyes.  I know he could sense something was wrong but there’s nothing I can say that will help him, or anyone understand.

Taking care of baby’s skin

It is true, there is nothing more sweet smelling than that of your baby’s soft skin.  It’s almost edible!  Doesn’t it seem crazy, then, that the baby-care industry topped $815 million dollars in 2007 and is continuing to climb at an aggressive rate?  Speeding this sector right along is the trend towards “natural baby care,” which began in the more natural and co-op type markets but has quickly come mainstream with major manufacturers joining in (think Huggies, Johnson & Johnson, etc.) 

Last year, independent testing found that more than 60% of all baby skin care products tested contained ingredients that had links to skin allergies and cancer.  According to the group that conducted the research, the Environmental Working Group, some of the chemicals are banned in Europe, such as 1,4-Dioxane.  However, the U.S. has no federal limits on how much of this ingredient can be present in personal care products, even when marketed for use on babies!

There is some good news.  According to pediatrician Alan Greene, M.D., author of Raising Baby Green, you can skip products all together during your baby’s infant stage.  ” A gentle sponsge bath with warm water works fine for baby’s sensitive skin.”  When your baby is ready to graduate into baths that require a little bit more “cleaning” or “elbow grease,” there is hope.  Following his advice, look for brands that have organic ingredients.  A rule of thumb is that anything you can’t pronounce probably shouldn’t go on your baby’s skin.  Another couple of ingredients to avoid are paraben preservatives which include sodium lauryl and laureth sulfates and lastly, mineral oil.    Lastly, babies sense of smell is ultra sensitive at birth, partly because they are programmed to decipher the familiar scents of mom, dad and siblings; so skip the fragrance!

Life After Miscarriage: A Frustrating Existence

This month,  we should have been buying nursery furniture. We should have been painting the bedroom, transforming it from gift wrapping room to soft, comfortable space with a crib, and a rocking chair and tiny hangers in the closet. Instead we’re wondering when, or even if, we’re going to be able to conceive again.

If I had to pick one word to sum up the past four months of my life it would be “frustration.”

  • On March 22, I was frustrated that my doctor couldn’t tell me anything more hopeful than there was a 50 percent chance that I would miscarry.
  • On March 29, I was frustrated that the child I dreamed about holding at Thanksgiving was gone.
  • On April 8, I was frustrated because my body continued to hold on to the remains of the baby.
  • On April 9, I was frustrated because the Misoprostal didn’t work and I had to take another dose.
  • On April 13, I was frustrated because I was caught off-guard at work with the brunt of the miscarriage.
  • On April 23, I was frustrated because it was supposed to be the end of my first trimester.
  • On April 27, I was frustrated because there was still a significant amount of HCG in my blood stream.
  • On May 16, I was frustrated that a month worth of days had passed and I still hadn’t had a period. (It finally arrived on June 16).
  • On July 16, I was frustrated because my second cycle had not yet arrived.
  • On July 20, I was frustrated because I had a negative pregnancy test but still no period.

And on July 22, I called my doctor. “Uhh. Hi Betty. It’s Emily. I’m on Cycle Day 38. I’m really frustrated. How am I supposed to conceive again if I’m not having regular periods?”

I have a doctor’s appointment in a few days.

U.S. to Ban Drop-Side Cribs

Pottery Barn Recalled Crib

Pottery Barn Recalled Crib

Heads up, mommies and mommies-to-be! After 153 baby deaths in the past four years, and 9 million drop-side crib recalls over the last five, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has voted to ban them. This move was inspired by today’s recall of 82,000 Pottery Barn Kids cribs after seven babies were hurt when the drop sides detached or otherwise malfunctioned.

Even if you don’t have a drop-side crib, lots of daycares have them, as well as hotel chains, so this ban is important to note. If you have a drop-side crib, contact the crib’s manufacturer for more info.

Sharing the Love with your Pets

When my friend was eight months pregnant, she looked at her Beagle-mix Bailey and said that she was worried her new baby would take away her love from her older, fuzzier, four-legged baby.  Her relationship with Bailey is a healthy and normal human-dog relationship, where she takes him for walks and he joins her on the couch for TV time.  This is by no means one of those you-are-the-child-I-never-had-so-I’ll-treat-you-like-my-real-child kind of relationship.  But she feared Bailey would become more of a nuisance after Henry was born, and less of her furry best friend.

Your future relationship with your pet, after the baby is born, will depend on your particular situation as a pet-lover and new mother.  Certainly, you won’t have quite as much time for it with a new baby in the house, but that doesn’t mean your friendship is caput.  You may have a different result if it’s a cat, or dog.  Dogs tend to be more sensitive, while cats, more independent.  This means that your dog may require more affection during this changing time to remind him or her that they are still your favorite thing on four legs.  With a cat, they may act as though nothing in the world has changed.  You may ultimately find after Baby is born that your relationship hasn’t changed a smidge with your pet, or you may find that you have little use for them, now that you have a real baby to take care of.  It’s harsh, but it happens.  Before we have a baby, our pet is the closest thing we have to one.  So when you have a baby of your own, you don’t need the pet in the same way.  All of this means that the bond you had with your dog/cat/iguana is going to find a new rhythm.

If you’re worried about the safety of having a baby around the lovely beast of your home, consult your pediatrician.  But for the most part, house pets are respectful of our new babies (whether they do it because of love, or fear, or indifference).  It’s when your little one starts chasing them around the house, yanking on innocent tails, that you may need to fear the safety of your Bailey.

Pregnancy Forums: Good or Evil?

Back in the old days, preggies were surrounded by their sisters, mothers, aunts, grannies, and other women who had been pregnant before.  These women could share their experience, guiding the young preggies into the pre-natal world of so many before them.  But today, many of us are alone.  Either our families live far away, we are the first of our friends to have a baby, or we are still seeking more camaraderie for this difficult and wonderful time.  Enter the Internet!  Hooray for the Internet!  It has solved all of our problems, answered all of our questions, and offered us hours of procrastination.  The Internet is also a great resource for preggies to learn about their bodies, their soon-to-be babies, and commiserate about everything in between.  Or is it?  Who are these people from who we’re learning everything we need to know about pregnancy?  Are these new cyber-friendships good for us, or eeeeevil?

 

If you go onto any pregnancy forum right now, you’ll find one woman asking “if it’s normal if…”, while another woman demands everyone share their “belly pics”, and another titles her post, “My Worst Nightmare Come True”.  Here’s where the forum can be helpful – the “Is It Normal” woman is probably asking a serious question, like “is it normal if I’m bleeding out my ears”, or “is it normal if my butt fell off?”  All is probably well and good if every woman responds with “yes, my butt falls off every day!”  If every woman is not experiencing this, perhaps our ab-normal woman should call the doc. 

 

What’s wrong with the belly pics?  Not much – except sometimes they’re not terribly flattering photos, but that’s neither here, nor there.  However, women go onto these forums are there to be one of the following:

 

Altruistic (there to help)

Pros: they’re helpful!

Cons: they sometimes do it to feel better about themselves by being superior

 

Selfish (there to get help)

Pros: they post questions that end up being helpful to others

Cons: they frequently sit on the sidelines, feeling less-than

 

If you’re the altruist, you might post your pic, because it’s fun.  If you’re the selfish type, you’ll probably just check to see what other people post, so you can feel bad about how big, or small, your belly looks.  So if you’re in love with your belly, no matter how it looks, you’ll be happy to see all the other bellies.  But if you’re worried that you’re too big, or too small, you may feel worse after checking out everyone else’s. 

 

And what’s wrong with the “My Worst Nightmare” woman?  Oh, everything.  If you’re the altruist, it’s a perfect opportunity for you to feel proud of yourself and how you don’t have the same terrible problem “Nightmare” lady has.  But worse, if you’re the selfish type, you’ll use this post as the perfect opportunity to freak out about something that’ll probably never happen to you.  After all, pregnancy is an excellent time to contract hypochondria. 

 

So what’s good about a Pregnancy forum? It’ll give you a bunch of ladies you can talk about the nitty-gritty with, the yucky-mucky with, and the sticky-icky with.  You can ask questions for your own wonderfully selfish reasons, or be a supporter for those who are dealing with the ups, or the downs.

 

But if you end up feeling like your days aren’t fulfilled, unless you receive a cyber hug from “Mama-to-Be from Mississippi”, then it’s probably time to sign off.

Questions After Miscarriage: Where Do I Find Support?

Between social mediums like Facebook and Twitter and websites like Craigslist and MeetUp, connecting with people who have similar interests and experiences has never been easier. Don’t believe me? Head on over to Meetup.com and try this experiment. Search for “working moms.” There are more than 3000 groups worldwide that meet under that topic. Now try “stay at home moms.” More than 4000 groups meeting!

Try this same experiment with “pregnancy loss” and you’ll likely receive the same message I did: “Sorry, no matches found for ‘pregnancy loss’ within 100 miles of your zip code.” Well I’ll be darned.

Not having luck with finding local support groups, I decided to head to a bookstore to look for books about coping with pregnancy loss.

The woman at the service desk in Barnes and Noble looked nice enough and I thought I could trust her with my secret so I said, “I’m looking for books about miscarriage.” I waited for her to grimace or flinch under the weight of that awful word. I had imagined her look of pity. Instead, I got nothing. I might as well have asked her where I could find the dictionary section.

She led me to the back, far corner of the bookstore. I followed her thinking, “How appropriate. A corner where I can browse through my tears for the perfect book on how to cope with the loss of my unborn child.”

The section also had books about other taboo subjects like menopause and anxiety. We were able to find exactly one book. One. “Really?” I asked. “There’s no other section? Maybe near the family planning area?” She offered to go check the inventory while I stood there and scoured the shelf thinking maybe she missed it.

For all of the information on conception and pregnancy, there is a fraction of information available on the topic of miscarriage. A search for pregnancy books on Amazon yielded nearly 24,000 results. A search for miscarriage books yielded 901.

The woman came back and said, “I can order one for you.” I declined.

At home I logged into my local library website, something I was avoiding because I have overdue fines from the prenatal yoga DVDs I checked out and was late returning. The library carried a small selection of books (more than I thought they would considering it’s not a well-funded or large library). “Oh good,” I thought, clicking on the first title.

“Due on May 13,” flashed on the screen.

“What? Whaaaat?” I clicked on the next title. “Due on May 13.” The third title: “Due on May 13.”

The library had 3 books and they were checked out! There was a woman, somewhere in my locality, who had checked out these books. Where is she? Who is she? Will she be my friend?

Desperate for a connection, to hear from other women who have been through this experience, I continue to search for local support groups and to lurk on online pregnancy loss boards. I have what seems like thousands of questions. When? What did you do? How long did you? What did your doctor say? What were your HCG levels? How long did it take you to? How did you? Who did you? What did she say? What about?

I don’t know where I’ll find my answers, or my comfort for that matter. It just seems that I shouldn’t have to look so hard.

After Miscarriage: The Big Follow Up

I’m convinced that the universe is conspiring against me. The day I first found there was a problem with my pregnancy my doctor was delivering babies. The day I didn’t see a heartbeat on the ultrasound screen, my doctor was on vacation and my husband was en route to San Francisco for a business event. The day I actually had the miscarriage, my hubby was in Washington, DC.  When the nurse called to schedule my two-week follow up appointment, it made sense that she said, ‘Ohhh. Gosh. The week we need to get you in is the week the doctor is scheduled for jury duty.” Come on universe! Really?

I digress, however. Today, I want to share my follow-up appointment saga.

Because my doctor was out fulfilling her civic responsibilities (and for the record, “I have to deliver babies” is not a valid reason to be excused from jury duty in the great State of Ohio), I had to select, from among more than a dozen, another doctor in the practice. “Do you have a preference?” the scheduling nurse asked.

I requested the doctor a friend recommended and didn’t hold my breath for anything special. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised by the women who walked in the room and said, “It’s hard coming to our offices and seeing so many pregnant women and babies, isn’t it?”  

Let me be really honest here. Her compassion wasn’t unprovoked. The nurse who called me in from the waiting room had the gall to ask “How are you?”

Well, after sitting in a waiting room full of glowing women in various stages of pregnancy, I was undeniably not OK. Through gritted teeth, I basically told the nurse about how sucky my life is right now.  She was lucky to walk away without bruised shins.

I guess my reaction was a bit startling because she led me to a room right away and the doctor was knocking on my door within a matter of seconds. I can only imagine what the nurse must have said. Probably something along the lines of “We’ve got a situation in Room 2. Take your tranq gun.”

Wiping my eyes with the back of my hand and uncurling my lower lip, I nodded in acknowledgement of the doctor’s question and thought about apologizing for my emotional behavior. I decided against it and let her make the next move.

The doctor was blessedly calm. She’s what my friend would call ‘granola.’ You know. The type of person to wear Birkenstocks with socks and play an acoustic guitar after dinner and before reading Organic Gardening on her soy sheet set.  In other words, exactly what I needed. (By the way, I have no idea if this doctor wears Birkenstocks or gardens organically but I would be willing to bet yes.)

We chatted for a bit and she jotted down notes as I recounted the events that landed me in that room on that day. She answered all of my questions, did an internal exam, ordered blood work and said, “There’s no reason to wait if you want to try again. You can start with your next cycle.”

“Let me clarify,” I said. “You mean, as soon as I get my period, I can stop using protection?”

Nodding, she said, “Yes. Your next cycle.”

For the first time in weeks I smiled. I was overjoyed. “Thank you. Thank you for your time and your patience.” I hurried out of the room nearly knocking over the nurse I initially almost knocked out. I went to the lab to have my HCG (the pregnancy hormone) draw and then made the good news call to my husband.

The excitement of that visit lasted just over 24 hours. I got a call the next day from my doctor’s nurse. “Your HCG is still at 13. We need to make sure it gets to zero. Can you come back for more blood work in two weeks?”

I was devastated. I am devastated. How can this be? I’m not pregnant but the pregnancy hormone is still in my blood?

“It can take some women a long time to drop to zero,” the nurse explained over the phone.

“Well, what if it doesn’t drop?” I asked.

“We have no reason to believe it won’t,” she said. “We just like to make sure it gets to zero.”

Through more probing I was able to find out that some women require an “intervention” if the numbers don’t continue to fall. The nurse didn’t care to elaborate on what exactly an intervention entails. Left to my own imagination, I pictured a cold hospital room and machines that beep. I hope I don’t have to find out.