Thursday, June 30, 2011

Alone..but hopefully not lonely!

My little baby (or, pardon me, my young daughter) has gone away for almost four days. My hubby has taken her to visit family, and left me here to rattle around in this big 'ol house. I could have joined them, obviously, but this was a short notice trip, and I had a lot of plans this weekend that I didn't want to cancel. As a doula, I already cancel enough on friends, and I'm worried that my social life may soon be non-existent if I don't take some quality "me" time.

My fun plans this weekend do not erase the anxiety I feel over my travelling daughter. Some of you may be thinking "is she crazy!? I'd give my left foot for a weekend alone!" And yes, I do have some of those feelings - evenings to myself to read all I want; time for major house cleaning that never seems to get done; and maybe even some time for exercise! So sure, I'm excited, as any Mommy might be.

But I'm also a bit scared, because....well....I just don't like being alone! I've always had a tough time being by myself - I envy those people who can go camping in the wilderness ALL BY THEMSELVES, or live in a big house ALL BY THEMSELVES. I get terrified camping, even if someone's with me!

I guess part of the problem is my imagination. In the city, I imagine rapists and murderers who break in to my house to get me. I'll wake up a couple of times a night just to check the locks on the doors, and if I hear a strange noise, there is no sleep to be had! In the country/wilderness, I am spooked by wildlife, and maybe even a ghost or two. There's just something so empty and desperate about a place without people, and I don't feel at all comfortable venturing there.

I'm probably also a bit nervous about A, and hoping that she's braver than Mommy. Maybe she'll be the kid who doesn't mind travelling, or sleepovers, or camp. Maybe she'll be able to leave me and not become homesick (like I used to do at camp when I was young). But she's not even two years old yet, and so I hope she can handle four days with Daddy and no Mommy. I've been told "she'll be fine," and so I am hoping that will be the case.

While I conquer my fear of loneliness and catch up on some much needed sleep, I'll also be venturing downtown to catch a glimse of William and Kate, and be participating in a big cook-off with a group of friends, in an effort to fill our freezers full of ready-made meals. Have a lovely Canada Day weekend everyone, and see you back here in a few days!

Monday, June 27, 2011


Let's talk money. Money, money, money (must be funny, in a rich man's world!) In my culture, money is not talked about. Our parents would never announce their salaries (even to their own parents), or discuss household debt. My Mom still gets squirmy if she hears people chatting money, and warns me never to disclose specific details to other people - and she has a point! Sometimes when people know how much you make (and if it's a good salary), they automatically assume that you can afford to pitch in more than your share, or pick up the tab at family/friend social events. If not that, then snide remarks about your purchases can often be heard behind closed doors.

Times they are a changin' though and slowly people are talking more about money and its significance in our lives. Why? The recent economical meltdown has been a catalyst for change, and families are starting to realize that out-of-control spending and debt does not lead to a better life. Sure, we may have the cars, the house, the best clothes and the best toys for our children, but what happens when the money no longer trickles in and the debt we have gathered explodes in our faces? Bankruptcy, defaults, shame and despair is what tends to happen. And divorce! (check out this story on financial infidelity)

Did you know that Canadian families are now carrying more debt than they ever have before? We're buying things we can't afford, and using credit cards to meet our regular expenses such as gas and groceries. It's scary to think about, and to know that we're not immune to the financial crisis that took place down in the U.S. (and to a lesser extent, here as well).

Hearing these stories, and reviewing all of our income, bills and expenses, I've realized that our family is not immune to this national trend. Yes, we pay our credit card bills each and every month, but why are we charging things like groceries anyway? Shouldn't our budget include a set amount of cash for these types of necessary expenditures? In addition to credit cards, we also carry a small line-of-credit and a much heavier OSAP debt.

I read an inspiring story in Today's Parent the other day about a family who paid off their mortgage by the time they were in their 40s! And you know what? It really didn't sound that hard! (keep in mind that they have one child - much easier to allocate spare cash to debt when you don't have 2, 3, or 4 mouths to feed and bodies to clothe!)

When I think about how much extra cash there would be each month when we no longer have line-of-credit and OSAP payments, I get really excited! That extra chunk could be going towards our mortgage, which will help us to pay it off faster than the 25 years we have allocated ourselves. I'm not one to base all my decisions around our far-off retirement (I do like to enjoy life right now!), but I think my frugal Grandpa Hall would be smiling down on me if our family started to work towards financial stability.

And so, the first line of business is to begin using all "extra" cash (e.g. doula fees, surprise government payments like the HST rebate, and monthly child tax benefits) to pay off debt. I'm confident that we could have everything paid off in 2-3 years, which would then allow us to focus solely on our mortgage and long-term savings.

I'm ready for the about you? Will you join me?

Rollin' rollin' rollin'

Side of the road, in the ditch you rust
A mouthful of mud from a fistful of dust
A heart full of hurt from a head full of wine
I'll call you back some other time

No way I'm picking up my phone
I'm tired of talking, leave me alone
I can't run and I can't write
And I can't make it home tonight

Rollin, rollin, rollin
Gathering no moss
I don't know where I'm goin
But I know what I've lost

Talk is cheap but music's cheaper
Deep in debt and getting deeper
The price is steep and getting steeper
I'm yours to keep, won't you keep me?
I'm a keeper

Rollin, rollin, rollin
Gathering no moss
I don't know where I'm goin
But I know what it cost



Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A lesson in uncool

I'm the first to admit that I am not cool - I never have been. I used to wear t-shirts with pugs and other animals on them, and still don't really know how to dress myself. I say stupid things, and I'm sometimes too honest for my own good. I also spend a lot of time daydreaming, so people find me to be a little bit flighty at times.

But when you're young and insecure, the only thing you ever wish for is to be cool - to be accepted by a crowd of people you perceive to be god-like; beautiful, eloquent, smooth, funny, aloof and untouchable. You end up finding out later that many of them are Grade A Bumholes, but that fact doesn't really occur to you in the throws of adolescent angst.

Like poor William Miller in the film Almost Famous, I was most certainly not a cool kid, and strived to achieve a popularity that was always out of reach. I met a lot of good friends in the process, but ended up losing many others.

My biggest crime in high school was the fact that I played in the orchestra. I realized from an early age that playing an instrument did not lead one to a life of fame and glamour. You could often see me darting furtively from school, viola case in hand, praying to the lord above that no one would spot me. Many of my friends didn't even know I played an instrument until years later. I would often tell my parents to lie to current boyfriends who called if I was out at practice.

I wouldn't have admitted it at the time, but I really loved to play music. There's something about finally "getting" a song that causes me to break out in goosebumps all over my arms - it's the same sensation I feel at an amazing concert or Broadway musical - the music swells to a crescendo, and all of a sudden you get a rush of something...spiritual people might describe it as touching God, but I think it's just the witnessing of true beauty. And as a group, when you're finally all in tune and playing in perfect unison, you can sense that you have done it - perfection!

At the time I fancied myself to be a decent musician - I played the piano, was in the high school orchestra and choir, and also played in a cross-town youth orchestra. I had dreams of going to university to get a degree in music, and perhaps playing in the "pit" orchestras I loved listening to so much during musical theatre productions.

But the bid for popularity got in my way, and I was soon skipping choir practice for cheerleading practice, and hanging out with boyfriends who didn't give a damn about joining anything (let alone a BAND). And so I lost the attention of my music teacher, lost some other friends I cared a lot about, and essentially, lost my way entirely. I went to university for business!! (granted, I found my way back to something I was passionate about, but it wasn't music)

I don't have any regrets and definitely look back on a lot of fun times, but sometimes wonder what might have happened if I'd embraced my uncoolness and followed my passions? Like William Miller, would I have realized that the "industry of cool" was just one big sham, run by people who lacked any substance whatsoever? As I navigate my way through motherhood, I often look at my daughter and wonder what her experience will be like. I'm smart enough to know that I cannot shield her from any hurt or mistakes, but I do hope she'll be confident enough to do that herself and follow whatever path she chooses to go down.

And as for me, well, my pug t-shirt still sits in the bottom of one of my drawers....maybe today...nahhh. I think I'll stick with what I'm wearing.

The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we're uncool

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Up we go!

A's fav. thing to do - be upside down!

Curly Sue

Daddy and daughter

My hubby owns a very fancy camera that I rarely use. I'm actually allergic to learning things that are very technological, so I usually tune him out when he tries to give me a tutorial. Up until now, I've enjoyed using my easy point-and-click camera to capture special moments.

Now that I'm a doula, though, I have a newfound desire to help parents capture their births in a beautiful way - one that I can't do well with my easy-to-use camera. At two previous births I've attended, I've surprised myself by taking several amazing shots using my client's cameras.

So this past weekend I had my first try at using one of the manual functions on Tom's camera (don't ask me what the function was called; I can't remember). He showed me how to adjust the lighting, but I actually liked when the lighting was off - it makes the last picture look so neat. I have a lot of work to do on setting up the frame (as you'll see, I cut off Tom's legs in both top pictures), but I'm quite proud of my beginnings.

There are so many wonderful moments to capture during a birth, and women sometimes surprise themselves by wishing they had their photographer (who is usually the partner, doula or other close family member - although you can hire professional photographers) take some shots from the bottom of the bed. The whole event passes by in such a blur for the labouring woman, that even if she was squeamish about the whole process, she later wishes she could go back and see how it all went down.

The good news about digital cameras is that things can be easily deleted - my suggestion is to allow your photographer complete access (within reason of course - no one enjoys a camera being shoved in their face during a contraction). You can always go back and delete the ones you find gross or scary. But give youself a few weeks before you go and delete them - you might find the ones of your baby entering the world the most poignant of them all!

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Day at the Races

A is not too sure of things at first

Cheering for Grandpa as he races by

My brother attempting to keep my Dad cool while they wait for the start

My Dad - Racer Extraordinaire
Every year on Father's Day weekend VARAC (Vintage Automobile Racing Association of Canada) holds the International Vintage Racing Festival at Mosport. Mosport Raceway is a course located north of Bowmanville, and has been around for over 40 years, welcoming cars from Formula One, Indy, Can-Am, Stock and many, many more.

Even though we're not watching Formula One, this is still exciting racing! This was A's first time joining her "boompah" (as she likes to call him), not counting the races I watched while she kicked away in my belly. She seemed overwhelmed by the noises of the cars at first, but soon became totally comfortable, and cheered her boompah on at the sidelines.

Given her obessession with all things mechanical, we are speculating that we have a female driver in the making...I think a Mini Cooper S would suit her quite well!

Happy Father's Day Dad!

New Posts Coming!

I keep saying that I'm too busy, and resolve to blog more, but another week goes by and I've got a handful of half-written posts waiting to be finished!

This week you may see a whole bunch of new posts as I hurry to catch up...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Pitocin linked to ADHD

A recent study shows a link between perinatal pitocin exposure and ADHD in children. Pitocin is a drug used to induce a woman's labour, or to make her contractions stronger. It is a synthetic version of our own hormone, oxytocin.

Keep in mind any conclusion such as this one needs to be investigated in a clinical trial, in order to reduce the effect of confounding factors.

(Confounding variables in statistics can have an impact on the conclusions we make - for example, I could say that eating cheese leads to a higher risk of heart attack. But have I taken into account confouding variables such as age, gender, and the fact that my research subjects also drink a lot, smoke and eat a lot of fried foods? So, I cannot conclude that eating cheese leads to heart attack, as I have not properly controlled for confounding variables)

This hypothesis should be investigated in a randomized controlled trial, which include ways to control confounding variables, such as blinding participants and using placebos. (I do wonder how this could work - would you recruit women who had just found out they were going to be induced, blind them to the drug used, and then recruit a set of "normal" volunteers who were not going to be induced? Hmmm....this would make an excellent PhD project!!! But the amount of funding you would need to follow these babies into childhood/adolescence would be staggering!!)

However, it is still disconcerting to see such a strong correlation between pitocin exposure and ADHD, and is something we should be keeping an eye on in the birthing community. Medical science can be a thing of wonder, but it is not immune to horrible mistakes (we all remember the Hormone Replacement Therapy scandal!) There are side effects of Pitocin that we do know about, and this study just adds to the suspicion that routine obstetrical interventions may not be all they're cut out to be.

If you're reading this, and your child was exposed to Pitcoin (or you are pregnant and terrified of receiving it), please don't panic when reading this post!! Keep in mind that sometimes the benefits associated with a drug/intervention can outweigh the risks, especially when it comes to your health or the health of your baby. Rest assured that nothing has been proven, and that this is all speculation.

What is important is that you feel informed when making a decision to use Pitocin during labour. Always question your doctor/midwife about the risks and benefits, and ask whether a "wait and see" approach may be best. And when in doubt, hire a doula, because we'll make it clear for you and help you with your decisions!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Big Baby, Healthy Body

My theme this week on my Twitter account (@chickadeedoula) is Big Babies. I find this topic relevant to discuss, as the incidence of macrosomic babies (macrosomia is arbitrarily defined as babies weighing more than 8lbs, 13 ounces) is on the rise.

You might be wondering why this is a problem. We hear about a lot of babies being born bigger than 8lbs, 13 oz., and they seem to be fine!

With a big baby, there's a greater chance for labour complications. Moms of big babies can have significant perineal tearing, blood loss and potential damage to their tailbone. Big babies can also get stuck on the way out (called Shoulder Dystocia), which can result in severe injury or death. I have attended a birth such as this, but luckily everything turned out fine in the end. However, you can imagine the distress parents must feel when going through such an experience.

Research shows that bigger babies are on the rise - not surprising, given that our society as a whole is getting bigger. There are certainly risk factors - a higher prepregnancy weight, excessive weight gain during pregnancy and gestational diabetes. And keep in mind it can be entirely possible to have a big baby who is healthy and the "perfect" weight  in relation to you and your partner's genetics.

Instead of focusing on the medical side of macrosomia I'd like to discuss what this mean for the pregnant woman in relation to body image.
As always, I try to see this from the woman's point of view, and understand how her personality, genetics, and socio-economic status might have an impact on her pregnancy experience. We all know from our current struggle with overweight/obesity that sitting a patient down and telling her to lose weight doesn't work, and often increases an individual's anxiety about their weight and body image.

However, a pregnant woman is different, in that she may not be obese - weight gain during pregnancy is variable, and depends on many different factors. Women who experience a lot of morning sickness tend to eat a lot during the day, as an empty stomach can lead to nausea and vomiting. Other women seem to have increased cravings for sugar or fatty foods. Some women who begin pregnancy at a completely normal weight will be surprised at their weight gain, despite all their efforts to exercise and eat well.

Perhaps we need to start at the beginning in our approach to prenatal education. I don't think weight gain "limits" are helpful at all, as we don't want pregnant women worrying about that number on the scale. However, the widespread belief that we are "eating for two" is also not helpful. Pregnant women actually don't need many extra calories, and a better approach to take is to eat when you're hungry and stop when you're full. And as well all know, avoiding excessive sugar and fat intake is something we should do regularly, even when we're not pregnant! (and just so you don't think that I'm a saint here, I once went to a midwifery appointment with a large Slushie in hand - I was duly scolded by my midwife for eating empty calories. Sometimes though, you just need that special something to settle an upset tummy!!)

Many women find that they are much more accepting of their bodies during pregnancy, as there is no societal pressure for pregnant women to be thin. For once in our lives, we are not judged by our body shape (in fact, everyone celebrates the beauty of a pregnant body!) Suddenly we find ourselves "letting loose" and eating things we never dared to eat prepregnancy, as we feel we deserve a break.

So instead of focusing so much on the food, perhaps we need to focus on healing our relationship to our bodies. The hormones that are flowing during pregnancy make us especially receptive to new ideas - here's a chance for us as women to work towards a better body image. Things such as yoga, meditation or other healing practices can go a long way in building self confidence that may spill over into the postpartum period. In fact, women with serious eating disorders who become pregnant tend to have 9 months of "recovery" - symptoms will return after they give birth, but suddenly they have a base from which to move forward.

If we enter pregnancy with a healthy relationship to our bodies, we will be much more likely to treat ourselves well, and feed ourselves and our babies with nourishing, wholesome food. But women who begin pregnancy with a distorted body image will only struggle with weight gain, either restricting too much or going overboard. It's time for health care providers to approach weight from a different perspective - one that takes into account women's ongoing struggles with body shape and food.

Any thoughts on this topic? Leave a comment here, or tweet me @chickadeedoula

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunday summary

Not much time for blogging recently, so thought I'd summarize some interesting things that have been going on in my life this past week:

1) I had an article published in a local paper that comes with our weekly flyers. I'm hoping this helps to raise the profile of doulas in our community, and am looking forward to approaching bigger media organizations who may bring this type of story to a wider audience: The Wrap

2) Attended my longest birth yet - 24 hours! Discovered that the floor of the hospital labour/delivery rooms are quite comfortable when you are exhausted. Just spread out some linens that you have stolen from the linen closet, grab a sweater to scrunch up as a pillow and you're good to go! The nurses seemed quite amused by my makeshift bed.

3) Must recommend a great book for all you foodies out there. Although I enjoyed Julie and Julia (the movie), I was quite disappointed with Julie Powell's published blog/memoir. I found her very crass and pretty boring!! However, I did recently discover another foodie memoir called Spoon Fed by Kim Severson. Where Powell is crass, Severson is quite eloquent, and certainly touched me much more with her story of how eight famous female cooks helped her turn her life around. The story is perfect for anyone who loves cooking and eating!!

4) Checked out the Orleans Festival here in East Ottawa, although was not quite conscious, as I'd had about 2 hours of sleep. However, I think little A appreciated some Mommy time before I passed out for the afternoon. Looking forward to attending this festival next year when we have more time, as there seemed to be many things to do for both parents and children. I'm always happy to support local businesses and events!

That's about it for my week, and hope to get back to some more regular blog posts in the coming days.