Monday, May 30, 2011

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

We have purchased a museum pass here in Ottawa that includes The Museum of Science and Technology, The Aviation Museum and The Agricultural Museum. For a little girl who delights in all things mechanical, it's the ultimate in fun!

A's a blur as she spins merrily through the Aviation Museum

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high unsurpassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.
Gillespie Magee
No 412 squadron, RCAF
Killed 11 December 1941

Friday, May 27, 2011

The tweet is tweeting (...or twittering?)

I have caved. I signed up for a Twitter account - yet another social media outlet for my already tired brain. Why, you ask? I was finally prompted to do so by my husband, who has, before yesterday, refused to conform and get a facebook account. He likes to sign onto my account and spy on my friends, but he's never bothered to get his own. And yet, here's my socially challenged husand - twittering!

And truly, what would the Chickadee Tweet be without a well established Twitter account? Indeed, what would Chickadee Childbirth Services do without a proper podium upon which one can expound on various topics? Such as, what I ate for breakfast. Or perhaps, the cutest things that A says. No wait! I've got it! I can tweet about A's bowel movements - form, consistency, smell...parents will love it!

In 140 words or less, everyone in the whole world (well, ok, everyone on Twitter) will have access to my most deepest thoughts. This may change the world folks! Soon people will learn that I calculate gas mileage by multiplying the number of kilometres I drive by the price of gas. Or that I forget simple words such as fork, spoon, and watchamacallit? Mommy brain is a thing of wonder and beauty, and will be on display for all to see.

So check me out twittering my days away:


Signing off,
Tweetie McTweeterson

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


While I was pregnant, we had the pleasure of attending a childbirth class with Julie Keon over at The Letter Writing Revolution. This was a class geared towards clients of midwives, and for some reason, I had an image of Julie as a hippie-woman, with long curly hair and birkenstocks, burning incense while we filed into the room. I guess I just assumed that anyone associated with midwives were radical people, and that the childbirth class would consist of meditation, deep breathing and using our mental powers to get through pain.

This couldn't have been further from the truth! The class was down-to-earth and very honest, and prepared me to have an unmedicated birth (oh, and Julie does not have long curly hair, and I don't think she wears birkenstocks).

But the best part of the class (apart from the solid information and support!) was the friends we met. Our group of 12 (6 couples) seemed to hit it off really well, and by the second class, we were already making future plans. One by one, we all had our babies, and excitedly shared all the details with each other. Some of us had planned hospital births that turned into home births, but all of us got through natural chilbirth without any major snags.

Since then, we have continued our friendship, meeting at least once a month for potlucks, which we take turns hosting. This past weekend, Tom and I hosted the  potluck, and as usual, we ended up with way too much food! The kids (no longer babies!) thoroughly enjoyed our muddy, messy yard, which we have been re-landscaping.

Holding hands

Our eco-kiddies composting!

Friends forever

Having your first baby is such a special time in your life, but let's be honest, it can also be stressful and scary. These friends have been a wonderful support for us, and we enjoy sharing stories, tips and even childcare! Every time we meet, we marvel at how fast our "babies" are growing, and share in the special knowledge that time is so very fleeting. Because wasn't it just yesterday that we sat in a circle, big bellies and swollen ankles, excitedly planning how we might bring our babies into the world?

Cheers to good food, good friends and muddy backyards!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The lowdown on "The Stuff"

In the doula world (or the midwifery world, or the childbirth education world) we present non-baised information about childbirth to our clients. All the options are laid out, and we support our clients 100% in their decisions.

We truly believe that birth can be transformative for a woman - it can increase self esteem, and can have lasting effects on confidence years down the road. We also believe that birth can be natural and normal, and that the pain you feel is not necessarily a bad thing.

On occasion, though, the drugs offered to women in childbirth can be a good thing. Even with a doula around, women can enter labour with significant fears/concerns that inhibit the cervix from dilating at a normal rate. This leads to exhaustion and discouragement, and sometimes the assistance of pain medications can help the Mom to relax and progress more quickly.

As well, some women are unable to handle the pain associated with childbirth. We teach our clients that the pain we feel in labour is NOT suffering - we have not been shot, or stabbed or involved in a horrific accident. In other words, there is no pychological trauma associated with the pain. Labour pains are welcome, because they deliver our baby! And who's not excited to see their baby?

Sometimes, though, pain can turn into suffering in labour - when a woman is no longer coping well she will become afraid, angry, or sad. If nothing is helping (comfort measures, a doula or partner's support) then often an epidural is the right choice. Women can alleviate their pain/suffering, and go on to have a normal vaginal birth.

Unfortunately, many women are not approaching the option of pain medication with enough information or thought. They see the epidural as their "saviour" and demand to have it right away. This is where doulas and childbirth educators need to take the lead, in informing first-timers about both the benefits and risks of an epidural. This will hopefully prevent some of the disappointment that women feel after their births have not gone according to plan.

I've already talked about the benefits of an epidural. It can alleviate suffering, as well as give women a much-needed rest when they have been labouring for a very long time. Listed below are some of the risks (there are more that the anesthesiologist will discuss with you at the time the epidural is administered). It's best to know the risks BEFORE you go into labour, as you won't be able to think clearly when you are in labour.

The following is what some childbirth educators call THE PACKAGE (all the things that will/might go along with an epidural)

  • Blood pressure cuff is on all the time (a lowered blood pressure is common after an epidural).
  • You are checked continually by nurses, so rest may be difficult
  • IV fluids will be administered
  • Pitocin drip (a synthetic form of your natural hormone), as labour contractions often slow down after an epidural
  • Swollen hands, feet and breasts is a side effect of the IV fluids and Pitocin. This can sometimes affect breastfeeding, as the baby may have trouble latching
  • Catheterization (it's hard to get up and pee when you can't feel your legs!). This can lead to infection.
  • Baby's heart rate may get a bit wonky, which will require you to change positions frequently
  • Vaccum or forceps assisted delivery if baby's heart rate does not recover
  • Cesarean (again, if heart rate is not doing well)
  • Epidural fever - Mom's temperature goes up, which could impact baby, which leads to invasive tests and procedures after birth
  • Some babies have trouble latching, and are irritable for several days after the birth
As I mentioned, all of these things may not happen to you, but there is a pretty good chance that some of them will.

So the moral of the story - do your research, and feel confident the this is the best choice for you!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


That's it! It's done!

I have spent the past 5 months attending births, chasing down nurses and OBs for my evaluation forms, writing essays, reading pregnancy/childbirth/breastfeeding books, taking childbirth education and lactation courses and creating a massive resource list for my clients - all in the name of becoming certified as a doula.

What does certification really mean? It's essentially a guarantee that I am a qualified doula - I maintain a membership with a governing organization ( and abide by their rules of conduct, ethics and scope of practice.

For clients, it gives them that extra bit of reassurance that I'm pretty serious about my job. I've spent the time (and A LOT of money!) learning about my profession and being evaluated on my progress.

That's not to say that we can't be a good doula if we aren't certified (I know many wonderful doulas who are not certified), but in terms of building a solid client base, it's definitely a "plus." There isn't a huge amount of competition out there, as there are probably more people looking for doulas than there are doulas, but it may give me that extra edge when I'm being compared to another interviewee.

And so, now I just wait, and anticipate the day I get the letter telling me that I am officially certified. I don't have any doubts that I've missed anything, as I went over my papers about one thousand times. But until that day, I'll be nervously awaiting word from DONA.

So this is Misty, signing off as "soon-to-be":

Misty Pratt, CD(DONA)

(funny how I'm more excited about this designation than I was about my Masters!!)

Saturday, May 14, 2011


I thrive on change. Although it can often stress me out, I really enjoy meeting with new challenges as often as I can.

Sometimes, though, I find myself wishing for a little stability. I think back to my parent's generation - they got out of high school (with or without a diploma), maybe did one year of college/university, bummed around for a while in other countries, and then found a steady job that they kept until retirement. They had health benefits, perks (like sick days!), and now have a pension coming in.

My husband and I, on the other hand, work either contract or hourly-wage jobs, with no benefits, no sick days, no top-ups for maternity leave....and a pension? You must be dreaming!

I have not stayed in a job longer than 2 years, and each time my contract comes up for renewal, I feel a sense of panic. In exactly 3.5 months, I'm not sure if I'll have steady income coming in. At one point in my life, this was no problem. The worst that can happen when you don't pay your rent is that you get a notice of eviction and might need to find another place to live.

Now we have a house, mortgage, debt payments, life insurance, health coverage, RRSP monthly savings, RESP monthly savings...the number of transactions that are debited at the start of each month are staggering. And it would be nice to know that we will always have the ability to pay them.

I don't think I'm the only one feeling this kind of pressure, as more and more positions are contracts with no guarantee for renewal. Especially in my field, when I'm looking for jobs in non-profit organizations who don't have the means to offer their employees added benefits.

But I often wonder how the economy might be transformed if we started valuing our employees. Would absenteesim drop? Would innovation be encouraged? Would people be truly loyal to their organization, and make all efforts to do a good job? It's hard to get motivated when you don't ever feel appreciated for the work that you do. And as women, we are even more vulnerable, because we're sometimes forced to choose between a career and motherhood. Unless we're really lucky, many employers are not willing to support women in finding a balance between child rearing and dedication to the job.

This is why so many Moms find self-employment to be a viable option (though you have even less security than you would in a contract position). At least we know that we're doing a good job...because our lives depend on it! Although there is no accountability to a manager, you essentially learn to become accountable to yourself. And this is the decision I must make - do I venture into the world of full-time self employment and somehow create my own stability?

Friday, May 13, 2011


I wonder who thought up the word for the noise we make when we're frustrated? Who thought of argh? Or perhaps grrrrr? A simple "sigh" can be quite effective as well.

I wrote a very nice post yesterday (if I may say so myself!) and the stupid thing has disappeared off the face of the virtual web. What happened to it? Is it floating around there somewhere in cyber space for anyone to discover?


I will attempt to rewrite my post this weekend, but sometimes lightening just doesn't strike twice in the same spot ;o)

Happy weekend fellow bloggers and blog followers

Thursday, May 12, 2011

10,000 Steps

My hubby came home the other night with a special little gift for me (he actually got it for free at a seminar, but hey, I'll take what I can get!) - a pedometer. I have been wanting one of those little gadgets for a while, because I'm very curious to see how much time I'm making for the exercise my body needs.

I'm not normally one for gadgets. While training for my half marathon in 2008, I was always baffled by people's obsession with their Garmin watches. I thought it would take away from the experience of running to be constantly checking my time, distance and calories burned. I thought it a much better idea to concentrate on my breathing and rhythm, and it seemed to work - I finished the half in just over 2 hours. Not to mention the fact that the Garmins (and other devices) are so expensive!

However, a little pedometer can cost around $20 (less if you find a sale!). We all know how unhealthy we are as a society, and even us skinny people are at a higher risk for things like heart disease due to a lack of exercise. Many of our children are getting less than half the time of physical activity that they would have 50 years ago. So, sometimes a pedometer can give us a fun little push towards achieving a goal.

In my case, the goal is 10,000 steps per day. It sounds like a lot, but it only works out to be about a five mile walk. There is not much scientific evidence behind the number 10,000, but it does seem to be the magic number amongst people who promote this kind of regime.

So far I have been achieving the 10,000 steps, but I have to make a conscious effort to get out for one longer walk per day, or I don't even come close. It's also serving as a reminder to me to get up and move around during the day - it's surprising how much we find ourselves sitting on our butts.

In the spirit of my new project, here is 500 miles by The Proclaimers (except I'm only walking 5 miles...and I'm not a man):

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Week of Celebrations

It's an important week for honouring women in our community! This month (May) is International Doula Month. As well, May 5th was the International Day of the Midwife, and today is Mother's Day!

So for all the women out there doing wonderful work and/or mothering, I raise a glass to you!

A beautiful photo of Mrs. Trudeau
On the topic of wonderful women, I have been engrossed in a book all weekend - Margaret Trudeau's Changing My Mind. I don't normally like reading memoirs, as I find them poorly written, but this one had me hooked due to the subject matter. As much as I like to think that I'm well educated, I had no idea that Margaret suffered from bipolar and was the ridicule of the Canadian media during her stint as our First Lady. I think the only thing I remember about her was the fact that she was almost 30 years younger than Pierre!

It's certainly not a literary jem, but the stories she tells are enough to keep you reading, for their inside look at political life in the 70s and 80s. But more importantly, it's the honesty in her telling of events related to her biopolar illness that makes the book so interesting.

There is certainly stigma associated with mental illness, but not to the degree that there was in the 1970s. I can only imagine what it might have been like to suffer through depression or mania, while leading your life in the public eye. Margaret Trudeau rubbed shoulders with some of the most famous political leaders of the 20th century, and to keep up a good face despite her illness must have been an incredible feat!

If you have been personally touched by mental illness (especially bipolar, or what used to be called "manic depression"), then you will most certainly relate to the stories in this book.

Get thee to the library!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

raw food rethink

Okay, I know what you're going to say. Raw food is good for me. It's a gift from our Earth in the most natural form, ripe with nutrients.

But let's admit it: raw food is hard to prepare and hard to eat ALL DAY LONG. Personally, I have a lot of things on my mind throughout the day, and I can't spend every waking moment planning and preparing my meals and snacks. Maybe if it were my life's work to be a chef, or I was a cave woman who had the time to spend on such things, I might give it a better try.

The thing is, I like warm food. It tastes wonderful and it fills me up. Eating cold meals all day long would be torture! Oh, and my husband and daughter would certainly divorce me if that's what I tried to serve.

I've given it a good go - I pick up various recipes in magazines and newspapers, and I enthusiastically prepare and serve them to my family. Usually, however, I get sad looks, or worse, plates of food thrown on the floor.

But the other night probably marked the end of my foray into raw food. I attempted to make a recipe from Gillian McKeith's You Are What You Eat cookbook. I used to enjoy this British woman's take on food when I watched her show on the Women's Network. I soon discovered she was quite loony (looking at people's poo, and commenting on the form and smell of it....yuck!), but her desire for Britain's citizens to eat better certainly seemed heartfelt [on a side note, she seems to have had a nervous breakdown on a British celebrity reality show that aired in 2010 - one too many nuts, perhaps?]

I bought the cookbook years back in an attempt to clean up my eating a bit, and I've certainly found a few winners in there (Aduki Bean Stew is fantastic!). But I recently tried making her "brownies" which are essentially a paste of dates, raisins, nuts and carob powder. First off, I used real cocoa instead of carob, because what the heck's wrong with a bit of chocolate?

My brownies did not look like this
What I wasn't warned about is that when you put a bunch of sticky dates, hard brazil nuts and a cup of water into a food processor, you might not get the smooth paste you're looking for. Instead, you end up with the counter, walls and floors (as well as your face and shirt) covered in a splatter of chocolatey water. It looked like a "death by chocolate" crime scene in our kitchen. I then had to painstainkingly grind tiny batches of the stuff one at a time before I had my "paste." And now, it has to stay frozen in the freezer in order to be "brownies" or it will essentially turn into a big gooey mess.

Being a past employee of an organization that supports individuals with eating disorders, I'm not a huge fan of diets or "lifestyle plans" that advocate only one way to eat. If you're able to stick to a diet that works well for you, hoorah! But the majority of us just end up feeling cranky, bitter and lonely, because really, who wants to invite a food nazi to their dinner party? They wouldn't eat anything!

The best "plan" any of us can ever hope to achieve is to eat a balanced, healthy diet that leaves us feeling energetic and satisfied. This will help us avoid all the disordered eating patterns we've come to adopt because of our obsession with skinny body types and holier-than-thou diets (like when the day after your cleanse...or maybe the day of your cleanse! rush out to the local Dairy Queen and down a monster-size brownie Blizzard). Achieving this lifestyle will take more than a book of recipes - it will require mindful eating, stress-busting techniques and lots of physical activity. Because food is really only one part of the picture.

I will enjoy my frozen brownies this week, but I think I'll stick to cooked brownies in the future.