Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Baby Girl's Birth

This is long winded and slightly graphic, so really only geared towards my birth junkie friends out there ;) Happy reading!

Blogging is clearly not a top priority these days. I'm getting by with our beautiful newborn, aided by hot cups of tea, chocolate and lots of support from family and friends. That said, I'm excited to write down all the details of our daughter's birth, as I've now had four weeks to reflect on the events of October 17th, 2012.

The final weeks of this pregnancy were really tough for me. Which was surprising, given that I had no problem going over 40 weeks with my first pregnancy - in fact, I enjoyed all the "me" time spent at the movies, getting pedicures and prenatal massages.

For some reason, this time around, I really struggled to remain patient. Some physical challenges made it impossible for me to do much of anything except lie around on the couch moaning for Tom to fetch me what I needed. Tom had to take his parental leave early, because it got too hard for me to chase the 3 year old around.

So despite my misgivings about "messing" with nature, I was adament that I wanted a stretch and sweep at my 40 week appointment (if you want to know what a S&S does, check this out). My house was ready, my body felt ready, and I was desperate not to be pregnant for one more day.

The afternoon of October 16th, I visited my midwife and had the procedure done. I also had a really good cry in the clinic, and was reassured by my lovely caregiver that I would indeed go into labour, and no, I would not be pregnant forever. I think the emotional release paired with the membrane sweep helped to kick start things.

I immediately began having contractions on the drive home, and by dinner time, I was up and pacing the dining room while hubby and A ate their dinner. I knew something was up when my stomach told me to avoid the fettucine alfredo and opt for toast and yogurt instead. I still managed to lie down with A before bedtime, and her nighttime nursing brought on a whole new set of painful contractions.

By 8pm, contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and about 30 seconds long. They were painful enough that I had to get up and move through them, but I could still talk through some of the weaker ones. I texted my doula, and also my midwife. I wasn't sure what to do, as I knew that second labours could be quick, and I was already in a regular contraction pattern. My midwife advised me to get into the bath and see what happened. Sure enough, my contractions stopped the minute I began soaking in the warm water. Crestfallen, I made my way to bed, almost positive I was going to wake up the next morning still pregnant.

Hubby got to sleep quickly, and I made my way to the spare bedroom, as I still felt restless. As soon as I lied down, contractions began coming every 10 minutes, moving quickly to every 9, 8 and 7 minutes. Finally, I couldn't stand lying down anymore and decided to get out of bed. It was about 10:30pm.

The second my feet hit the floor, contractions were on top of me, about every 2 minutes. My endorphins hadn't kicked in yet, so this was probably the only time during the entire labour that I felt I wasn't coping well. I was alone in the basement (where we were going to labour, hoping to avoid waking A up), moaning loudly, and panicking slightly. I yelled for Tom to wake up, and he sleepily joined me downstairs while I cursed and complained. I called my doula and asked her what she thought - she asked me what I wanted to do, and worried it was still too early, I told her I'd call her back in half an hour. As soon as I hung up the phone I had a giant contraction. I called her right back and told her to come as soon as possible! Meanwhile, Tom phoned my midwife and let her know that things were progressing.

By midnight my support team had arrived and I was feeling much calmer. I managed contractions without too much difficulty, and still had time for a smile and a joke or two. Tom was busy filling up the birth pool, and my doula was providing wonderful hands-on support.

I soon decided it was time to get into the birth pool, only to realize we'd drained the hot water tank and cold water had been pumping into the pool. It was lukewarm at best, and Tom had to drain some of the water out and  head up to the kitchen to boil some pots. I stayed in there anyway, and within about an hour, we had it back to a temperature that would be sufficient for the baby (should she be born in the water).

Somwhere around 1am I had my first urge to push. It wasn't strong, and when I began to try pushing, I had intense pain in my back and lower abdomen. My midwife checked me in the pool, and we realized I still had cervix left. We suspected baby was sunny-side up, which usually causes a premature urge to push, and also leads to pretty intense back pain. My midwife suggested I get out of the tub and try some different positions to help baby turn.

At this point I was going through transition and dry heaving into a bucket. The transfer out of the tub was super hard, and I remember repeating "I can do it" over and over in my head. After a while, and a bunch of position changes later, I finally had an uncontrollable urge to push, and knew that baby girl was finally on her way. I had been expecting my second stage this labour to be really quick, and I remember yelling "who told me this was going to happen in two pushes?!!" It certainly wasn't two pushes, but it also wasn't the epic 2 hour, 45 minute second stage I'd had with A.

By this time my second midwife had arrived, and my incredible photographer had been snapping shots for the past 2 hours. My midwives convinced me to move out of the bathroom (I was about to give birth on the bathroom floor, only because I didn't want to get up!), and I ended up side lying next to the fire. How romantic!!

My midwife asked my permission to break the bag of water when baby girl's head was crowning. As fascinating as it would have been to see her born in the caul, I was more than ready to have her born, and knew that the slippery bag of water was making pushing slightly longer. I gave my OK, and within minutes she was born. She cried before I even pushed her shoulders out, and it was the sweetest sound! Finally, at 2:44am, there she was on my chest.

The difference between this labour and my first was huge. I was entirely aware of my body this time around, and felt every little pain and discomfort (as well as every little joy!) I was also aware of my "doula-ing" everybody else, as in between contractions I was asking Tom to make coffee and defrost muffins. It was hard to ignore my desire to make everyone else happy, and I remember thinking (after the delay in my pushing and baby girl's OP position) "oh no! everyone is waiting for me to push her out so they can go home and get some sleep!" Silly, I know, but hard to ignore when you're a doula :)

In some ways, this birth was ten times easier than my last, and yet a lot harder. Because I was so aware of what was going on this time, I felt I had a lot of mental hurdles to get over as I progressed. I forgot how much it really, really hurts! Despite the pain, we were over the moon with our experience - the care we received from my midwives, our doula, and our fantastic photographer made this a night we will never forget.

Welcome to the world baby girl.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Zen: 37 Weeks and Counting

Dearest Baby,

I would love to say that I have been this "zen" throughout the months you have been growing in my belly. I wish I could tell you that I only thought happy thoughts - that I meditated and did yoga every day, and ate only organic fruits and vegetables.

Alas, I have not been this good.

I have leaned over the toilet bowl more times than I care to remember.

I have eaten boxes of macaroni and cheese, bacon sandwiches and fruit sprayed with pesticides.

I have stumbled into the house after a day's work, only to head to bed with a blinding, debilitating migraine.

I have cried into my pillow, wishing that I could just have my body and my energy back.

I have burst into tears over silly things, slammed doors and yelled at your big sister (and your poor Daddy).

I melted in the summer heat, and found short walks to be the only exercise I could tolerate.

BUT....yes, my sweet baby girl, there is a "but."

I have put my hand on my belly in awe of your kicks and tumbles. I have rolled and bounced on the exercise ball. I have gone to yoga classes, and reconnected with you on a spiritual level. I have already imagined what your tiny hands and feet will look like. I have held other newborns, and excitedly pictured myself holding you. I have shared my love for you with your big sister, and together we sing songs to you before bed each night.

No, the pregnancy has not been bliss. It has not been zen. But it has been special in more ways than I could have ever imagined, and I am cherishing this - the last time I will grow a baby - with all my might.

I spent 28 years becoming "me" - growing from a child to a woman, falling in and out of love, and meeting and marrying my life partner, your Daddy. For the past 4 years, I have conceived and raised your big sister. By the time I am 37 years old, both you and your sister will be in school - needing me less, and releasing me from these "early years." Around the age of 50, I will have another 35 (if I'm lucky) years as an empty-nester, where I will rediscover the "me" without my children around.

These early years of childbearing and child rearing are just a teeny, weeny slice in the pie of life. On many days they feel as though they will never end, but I think I'm smart enough to recognize they will end. And that I will miss them.

And so we wait for you in joy and anticipation, and on rare occasions - in the dead of the night when I am pacing the floors, or in the morning when I feel you wake, or during the day when you kick and roll - I can say that I almost....almost...feel zen about it all.

Love Mommy

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

There's Onwy Two Fings I Yike

This is what my daughter says to me now at every bedtime:

"There's only two things I like" (or see the cuter version of this above in the title).

She holds up two stubby little fingers, and says,

"Mama's milk. And suckie."

When I ask her if those are the only two things she likes in the whole world, she thinks for a little while and then says,

"There's onwy five fings I yike. Mama's milk, suckie, water, flashlights and stuffed animals."

Apparently, there are quite a few things a 3 year-old needs to fall asleep!

And yes, you heard right. My 3 year-old continues to breastfeed AND still has a pacifier. Move over Jamie Grumet. I'm the next in line to be on the cover of Time!! Imagine it - my daughter standing on a chair, breastfeeding, with my 9 month pregnant belly hanging out for all to see. AND, the floor could be littered with pacifiers. They might hire a famous dentist to tell the world about how my child's teeth will be forever damaged by my "mom enough" parenting techniques.

Here's the thing....I really don't feel extreme. And I think any other Mom who is doing extended breastfeeding would tell you the same thing. When I first started breastfeeding, I really, really hated it. In fact, I hated it so much that I was only going to continue utnil 6 months and then quit (I almost quit several times along the way, but had a lot of supportive people backing me up). All of a sudden though, when I got to 6 months of age, breastfeeding became easy. I actually liked it, and not in some weird, perverse kind of way that some men (and some women) seem to imagine. I liked it because it was convenient, it helped me to bond with my daughter (who had screamed and cried for the first 6 months of her life), and it was the only thing that calmed her down when she was experiencing symptoms of reflux.

Somehow time flew by, and we got to 2 years of age. And I thought, wow, I'm really unique. Hardly anyone I know breastfeeds their 2 year old. And because I like being unique and "different," I was quite proud of this fact. Now, I'm just in a whole new category of unique. Even the majority of my parenting friends who identify with an attachment parenting philosophy are no longer breastfeeding at 3 years (to be clear, this has to do with the fact that many children wean themselves before age three - not that AP parents are somehow failing if they don't do extended breastfeeding. And of course, you can still be an AP parent and give up breastfeeding at some point because of various reasons!!)

It's not like I got here on purpose. I didn't give birth, and immediately exclaim to the world "I shall breastfeed my daughter until she is a preschooler!!" In fact, I'm embarrassed to admit that I thought people who breastfed toddlers and preschoolers were really, really weird (this was due to my lack of experience and understanding of my child and my body....clearly I'm much more informed and MUCH less inclined to judge any parenting decision now)

But what is important to know about extended breastfeeding is that it really, really works for some families. And you just can't judge something that works, can you? Those of you who know my child know that she is a fully functioning, independent and sunny little girl. She is not strangely attached to me, and I wouldn't consider myself even close to a helicopter parent. I'm just a regular 'ol mama, doing something that helps my daughter get to sleep at night. I will cherish these memories forever.

I thought I would share a few other notes about our experience, just in case you were curious and had some questions:

  • I do not breastfeed my daughter in public. I feel uncomfortable doing it, not because I think that extended breastfeeding is wrong, but because I know others do, and I want to avoid the judgement.
  • She breastfeeds about two times per day - once first thing in the morning, and once right before bed. If she asks for it at other times, it's because she's tired (i.e. just woke up from a nap) or because she's getting sick
  • Yes, it did hurt quite a bit throughout my pregnancy. The worst was from about 3-6 months, when my milk basically dried up. We actually thought she had weaned herself (she started to ask for it every 3-4 days), but suddenly my milk showed up again, and she was back to daily breastfeeding.
  • I do plan on tandem nursing. I believe that it will help my daughter adjust to the new baby, and will probably also be a fantastic tool to use to calm the jealous monster. Tandem nursing doesn't necessarily mean I will have two kids hanging off my boobs - it just means that if my daughter wants "mama's milk" she will be able to get some! She's a little too busy to be sitting in my lap for extended periods of time.
  • When people tell me she doesn't "need" to breastfeed, I feel inclined to ask them whether they "need" to drink that glass of milk with dinner. Perhaps it's time you weaned yourself from the cow's teet. Don't try to pretend the middle man (or machine) who milks the cow makes it any different.
  • I will be honest in saying that husband is not 100% supportive of breastfeeding daughter. He's about 90% supportive - I think part of him wishes I were slightly more "normal" sometimes :) But given that it has absolutely no impact on our relationship, he really doesn't care very much.
  • When will I stop? When will my daughter stop? I don't know - truly, I don't. I feel strongly that breastfeeding is a relationship - I'm not into child-led weaning, because I would certainly encourage her to stop if it was bothering me. But I also wouldn't just quit on her and refuse to do it if I felt that she wasn't ready. I think we will take things month-by-month. I have a feeling that once she knows she has access to "mama's milk" whenever she needs it after the baby is born, she will probably identify it more with what the baby does
Oh, and as for the pacifiers? We know that those DO need to go - we're waiting until the new baby adjustment period is over, and will encourage her to give them up at some point in the new year. Our dentist friends will be proud :)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Making Mistakes

When I first started my doula training, I gave no thought to the business side of my work. The extraordinarily wise Susan Martensen (our doula training teacher) warned about some of the challenges of owning your own business, but I never paid heed. I was too caught up in the heady aspects of pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding. I naively thought I'd be someone's saviour - doula to the rescue!! Little did I know that "business" would take up more than half the time I spend doing my job.

I've already written a bit about my doula journey, but I find as time passes by (I will soon be marking my 35th birth!), I have become that much more reflective.

And the truth is, I keep reflecting on the mistakes I've made. Maybe it's that time of year - the end of summer, the start of school, and the planning for hibernation that comes with Fall. It's a time for self reflection. Or maybe it's because I'm nine months pregnant and slightly emotional.

Whatever the case may be, these mistakes I've made on my business path are niggling away at me. And really, they can't be labelled "business mistakes" - when it comes down to it, I screwed up with a couple of clients I worked for, and I'm feeling guilty about it.

Part of the yucky feelings I have when reflecting on these births have to do with the fact that there are people out in the world who think badly of me. I have a hard time with this. I am a people pleaser - the comments written in school reports by my teachers in Kindergarten straight through to Grade 6 were that I was always smiling, and always eager to please.

I go out of my way to avoid conflict in my life, but that usually ends up in me creating or causing conflict, as I'm rarely clear about my personal boundaries and intentions. I tend to say "yes!" all the time, and if I think that I've hurt someone's feelings or haven't followed through on something, I use the avoidance strategy. Juvenile, and not at all particularly helpful, this strategy allows me to avoid confrontation.

To be a successful entrepreneur, one must first recognize that

a) You will have dissatisfied customers. Someone, somewhere down the road, will not be happy with your product or services; and

b) You must have measures in place to recognize mistakes and learn from them

And learn I have! I feel ten times more comfortable as a doula now than I did back when I wrote this post. I recognize that the stress of the job requires me to limit the number of clients I take (no matter how many times I've been contacted by someone who sounds SO interesting and lovely, or have been called to help out at a unique birth...frank breech presentation anyone??). I also recognize the importance of time off, and scheduling in a month or two where I am taking a break from the crazy on-call schedule.

I have learned to be grown-up, and face confrontation. The mistakes that I have made are due to a number of variables, and I realize that much of it can be chalked up to a lack of communication (both on my part and theirs), and basic inexperience. I also recognize that no matter how much I "try" and have my best doula hat on, sometimes I just won't be overly helpful at births. Maybe the mother is amazingly calm and able to handle her labour with little support. Maybe she has too many support people at her birth, which means that I don't have a whole lot to do. Or maybe the birth becomes so medically complicated that my role is overshadowed by a whole lot of doctors, residents and nurses.

Don't get me wrong - I do believe I've been a good doula, and perhaps even a great doula for the majority of my clients. But it doesn't stop the yucky, sad feelings that pop up occasionally when I bump into the one or two clients who are unsatisfied with my services (Ottawa is a tiny place!).

Doula work is messy - it's based in emotions, which can be difficult to navigate at the best of times. Throw in being awake for 24 hours or attending two back-to-back births, and you've sometimes got a problem on your hands!

Despite the challenges, the past year as a doula has brought me so much joy and satisfaction, and the experience I've gained overshadows the earlier mistakes I made. But I think my planned sabbatical is causing me to become reflective and I occasionally wish for a time machine to go back and change some of the things I've done.

I'm curious to hear from my doula friends or fellow entrepreneurs. How do you handle your mistakes?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


What? Whoa, wait a minute. Where did August go?

Life has gotten a little crazy around here! I have about a half dozen unfinished blog posts that I just can't be bothered to complete. I think there's something important that happens in the final stages of pregnancy - women seem to turn inward, and go into their own little third trimester bubble. The things we normally focus on and stress about don't seem important when a 4-5 lb human being is doing soccer practice in our belly.

And so it should be! Birth is an event that requires a lot of inward-ness. I find the last two months are an important time for me to slow down and take care of myself. I try to make time for things like yoga, meditation, pedicures, nights out alone, long baths....

Or at least I did the first time around.

This time, I've been a bit of a busy bee. I attended a record FOUR births in July (keeping in mind I still have a 3 day/week job), and tending to postpartum families has kept me busy. In mid-August, we said goodbye to our beloved childcare provider and began our family vacation.

We kicked off vacation time with a much needed haircut!

Then off to Achray Campground for a week!

Beautiful full moon

A loving the "big rocks"

View over the Barron Canyon (that's my belly there...can you see it?)

And finally, A's big Birthday Bash

There's my belly again! Hiding!

My prego belly is not featured very prominently in any of our pictures this summer. Some of it is that I really don't like many pictures taken of me, and most of it is that my belly is just not that big. People seem to think this is a very good thing, and like to comment on it a lot (oh my god, you're so SMALL!!). But it's all relative, because I certainly don't FEEL small. I feel a bit more like a whale - especially at night. A whale who has gotten stuck on her back, and can't seem to roll over without a lot of maybe one of those big nets, or a crane.

Anyway, that's us for now. I'm sure blogging will pick up again soon, but for now, I'm simply enjoying reading other people's amazing blogs!

I look forward to sharing the professional shots that my friend Sara McConnell will be taking of us in a couple of weeks!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Stream of Consciousness

It's rainy here. The drizzly kind of rain we've been waiting for.

The crunchy brown grass has perked up, and looks skyward, lapping up every drop.

This week has been quiet, filled with steady work and lazy days - I've avoided the commute to work, and have rolled the exercise ball into my home office. For some reason, I can't stand going in to work these days. The fluorescent lighting and stale air drives me nuts. The home office is quiet, and sometimes lonely, but the drone of Olympic coverage in the background keeps me company.

Big changes are coming our way, and my homebody-ness is probably a symptom of the anxiety I feel. A has already moved into her "big girl" room without a hitch. Next week we say goodbye to our long-time care provider. We'll be enjoying a two-week family vacation this month before I send my little girl off to her first day of school.

I'm conscious that my due date is fast approaching, and panicky that nothing is "ready." The baby room is in a state of disrepair, and I have yet to pull out and sort through all the newborn stuff. There are no frozen meals in the freezer, and the list of rooms that need a thorough cleaning grows every day. Despite the mild panic, I know that my baby needs very little - some sleepers, diapers, milk and a warm body.

This little monkey I'm growing continues to kick me down below, and I know that her head rests close to my heart. While this conjures up a sweet image, I will be glad for the day she flips. At almost 31 weeks, we are wondering what's taking her so long. A visit to a chiropractor next week may help, and I'm starting to use some of the exercises and tips from this wonderful site.

For now, I can finally enjoy hot tea, stew and freshly baked bread, as the rain keeps the house cool and damp. The oven has come back to life!

Have a wonderful, wet weekend.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Recipe Week Post #3: Lentils, lentils and more lentils

Okay, okay, so I'm slightly obsessed with lentils - if you can't already tell from my first and second post this week. And I JUST discovered an organization called Canadian Lentils, which (although they're not very clear about their mandate on the website) I believe supports Canadian lentil growers.

But I realize not everyone is overly fond of the little bean. I'm married to one of those people *SOB* I remain convinced that I can convert the wayward lad, and bring him over to the land of plentiful little lentils.

Here's why I love lentils:

  • I just can't get over how easy lentils are to cook - no soaking necessary! They take on the flavour of any sauce/soup you put them in, and can be ground down to make fantastic dips. They're also lovely in salads!
  • A huge package of lentils will cost me $1.50, compared to the $10-15 (sometimes more!) I spend on a meal that includes chicken, pork or beef.
  • They're packed with fibre and protein and all sorts of healthy vitamins/minerals. If you pair lentils with a grain or cheese, you end up with a complete protein, something which is really important if you're eating vegetarian while pregnant.

This is called Curried Red Lentil and Kale Soup, and was adapted from Living Without

2 tbsp veggie oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 large carrot, diced
2 medium potatoes, diced
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp curry powder
1 cup red lentils
1 cup chopped kale
4 cups veggie stock (I mixed 2 cups water, 2 cups veggie stock to cut down)
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp ground cumin
2 tsps lemon juice
1/4 cup coconut milk

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for several minutes. Add the celery, carrot and potato and cook for 5 minutes until tender.

Add the tomato paste and curry powder, and cook for 30 seconds while stirring. Add the red lentils, stock, coriander and cumin. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium low. Cover the pot and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the kale and cook for another 5 minutes.

Garnish with lemon juice and coconut milk and enjoy! Serve with freshly baked whole grain bread or naan bread.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Recipe Week Post #2: When Two Tastes Collide

When I first met my husband, I thought he was an adventurous eater. He happily accompanied me to Indian and Thai restaurants, and suffered through my disastrous first attempts at cooking (anything other than boxed Mac & Cheese and chicken nuggets). We started dating soon after I was back from a trip to Thailand, and I was eager to expand my somewhat limited repertoire of teenage recipes (by the way, I STILL use my Clueless in the Kitchen cookbook on a regular basis. It's amazing for simple, go-to recipes).

However, I later discovered that my husband was, in fact, just trying to woo me, and really had little interest in the alternatives. He was raised on meat, potatoes and veggies, and his favourite meal is still barbecued chicken breast with some kind of sugar-laden sauce gooped all over it. Over the years, he has had to endure my commitment to buying only humanely-raised local meat, sourcing a cow for raw milk (and attempting to make my own cheese, yogurt and butter), and cooking with copious amounts of legumes. And he has been very supportive...truly.

It's tough, however, to spend a lot of time on recipes and meals that are not enjoyed by the whole family. Hubby eats my forays into vegetarianism and veganism to be polite, but darling daughter doesn't even bother.  While I'm moaning and oohing over the tasty things I throw together, husband is blandly picking away at his plate, and daughter is throwing hers at the wall.

It's been a REAL struggle trying to find recipes that please us all, and most of the time I just fail - I often end up making my own dish, and pairing it with a hunka meat (local, pasture-raised) that's been thrown on the bbq. However, there is one dish so far that's been a winner for the whole family. Every time I make this, we all gobble it up!

Warning: You must be open to eating lotsa butta if you want to try this recipe. I strongly feel that, unless you have dairy allergies, butter should be part of a well-rounded diet. It's silly to shun all saturated fats, especially in favour of chemically-laden margarines (ick!!). However, if you DO need an alternative, check out Earth Balance. They don't work as well in this dish, but it could certainly be a substitute!

Pasta with Red Lentils and Spinach
(taken from Didi Emmons Vegetarian Planet)

1 lb whole wheat pasta (or your fav gluten free variety)
8 tbsp of butter or butter alternative - don't even think about skimping here!!
2 garlic cloves, smooshed
2 inches of ginger, cut into thin strips (hubby detests big pieces of ginger, so I've sometimes resorted to using 1 tsp of dried ginger or pre-processed mashed ginger)
1/2 tsp dried sage
3/4 cup red lentils
1 cup water
3 cups spinach, packed
salt and pepper to taste (I personally find I need at least 1/2 tsp salt for this dish)

Cook pasta, and set aside. In large skillet, melt butter over medium heat, just until it begins to brown. Add ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant. Next, add sage, lentils, water and salt. Bring to a boil, and then lower the heat and simmer (covered) for 10 minutes or until lentils are just tender (they can still be slightly crunchy).  Stir in spinach and cook until wilted. Add pasta, and cook until heated through. Season with pepper and watch with pleasure as your family devours it.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Recipe Week: Eating for Two

Clearly, I'm not a food photographer, because if you head over to Oh She Glows (where I got this recipe), you will see a much prettier picture of the dish above. My friend and fellow blogger Jayda Siggers, has inspired my choices of recipes this week!

This week I'll be sharing the meals that I'm cooking up, to feed my babies' demand for more protein and iron (and my own demand for more fibre!!) My goal with all the meals this week will be to add:

- more greens
- a rainbow of colours
- as much fibre as I can take (pregnant gals, you know what I'm talking about!)
- non-dairy, non-meat sources of protein

Today's dish - which was eaten for dinner last night - is called the Lightened Up Protein Power Goddess Bowl (lightened up because the blogger has adapted this recipe to include less fat). Gotta love that name! I made some adjustments to the recipe, based on what I had in the veggie drawer:

1 cup green lentils, cooked ahead of time
1 cup quinoa, cooked ahead of time
1/2 tbsp veggie oil
1/2 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 head of purple cabbage, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
3 cups kale, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced
1 batch Tahini-Lemon Dressing (see below)
salt and pepper to taste
squeeze of lemon juice

Make dressing, and cook lentils and quinoa in advance. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic for 5 minutes, and then add cabbage and tomato. Saute for another 7-8 minutes. Stir in chopped kale and cook just until tender. Add the tahini-lemon dressing, lentils and quinoa. Remove from heat and stir in parsley. Serve warm with a squirt of lemon juice on top (Makes 6 cupes - I cut the recipe in half last night!)

Tahini-Lemon Dressing

1/4 cup tahini
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (had no idea what this was, but found it at Bulk Barn!)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tbsp of water (or as much as needed to achieve desired consistency)

In a food processor, combine all ingredients. Makes about 1 cup of dressing.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Postpartum Adjustment: My Plan of Attack

In my last post, I talked a bit about our plan to keep A in preschool/daycare while I'm on maternity leave.

This may seem like a crazy decision for a couple as cash-strapped as we are, but both my husband and I agree that it may save our collective sanity.

When you are pregnant, levels of the female hormone estrogen and progesterone increase greatly. For some of you, this may lead to shiny hair, clear skin and that pregnant "glow" everyone talks about (unfortunately for me, the clear skin is nowhere to be found). But in the days following the birth of your child, your hormones take a bit of a nosedive:

Image Source
That's right - they go back to their pre-pregnancy state in a jiffy, even though you had a good 10 months to adjust to their increased levels. Nature likes to play cruel tricks on us women.

It is thought that these drastic hormonal changes are what cause women to experience the baby blues; and, if you happen to be extra sensitive to all this bodily chaos, you may go on to develop postpartum depression or anxiety.

I knew all of this in theory when I was pregnant with my first child, but unrealistic expectations and lack of experience set me up for some serious postpartum adjustment in the days following A’s birth. So for this pregnancy, we’ve thought a lot about how to avoid some of the issues we (and I say “we” because my partner had to go through this change with me) faced the first time around. I like to call this my postpartum plan of attack or Plan Red. Because truly, I do sometimes feel that I’m going to battle with my emotions:

Zones of Operation
We will be planning for a home birth again. We toyed with idea of going to the hospital this time (just to avoid having A wake up in the night or be disturbed by the birth), but when I brought up the idea, my husband looked at me, aghast, and said “don’t make me go there” in a little boy voice.

So we are staying home, because apparently my husband needs it more than I do.

It is imperative to have decent help on hand following the birth of a baby, even more so when there are other children that need taking care of.

These have to be helpful people, though. Don’t invite anyone you feel slightly uncomfortable around (as they will be seeing you in your most vulnerable state), and make sure they’re there to cook and clean. Holding the baby is only an option when I am tired and would like a break to take a shower or a snooze. I will be calling in the troops, in the form of my mother, mother-in-law, and sisters-in-law (if they can spare the time). The hope is to have someone staying with us for the entire first month.

I am also hiring a postpartum doula, who will be there as an objective support person. She will support me with breastfeeding, suggest resources/tips I might need, and basically be a good listener (someone that is not scared of listening to me cry or blubber).

Yep, I’m taking the plunge, and doing something that even the crunchiest of crunchy finds slightly repulsive. I am going to eat my placenta. I have a doula friend who will be taking my baby's hunka meat, drying it in a dehydrator, grinding it down, and then putting it into capsules for me to consume. I’ve written about this before, but never thought I’d actually do it. I’m desperate enough to see if it makes any difference in my emotions/mood following the birth – I would probably eat fried monkey if someone told me it could help.

It’s always best to have a contingency plan in place in case something unexpected comes up. Although we’re hoping that this little baby does not have reflux, we’re open to the idea that it may happen. Which is where preschool comes in – taking care of a child who cries all day (and night) and does not sleep is difficult in the best of times. We want our older daughter to have some sense of structure and routine, just in case we are hit once again with the “reflux blues.”

We’ve also thought about what might happen if I have to transfer to hospital or have a baby who is sick. Again, we’re counting on our “allies” to pitch in and help. The past three years in Ottawa has given me time to meet many wonderful parents, some of whom have become great friends. So although we’re planning for the worst, we’re also hoping for the best – this time, we have reinforcements!

Thursday, July 19, 2012


It's official! A. has been registered in preschool.

This may not sound like anything newsworthy to you, but for our family, it's a big step.

A's reflux troubles forced me to look for childcare that offered her a lot of one-on-one time. I needed a childcare provider who believed in attachment parenting, because my daughter did not respond to anything else. At one year of age (when I was preparing to head back to work), she still could not put herself to sleep for a nap, and had to be rocked. Her reflux issues had gotten better, but she was on a restricted diet, with no soy or dairy products.

We ruled out a large daycare centre immediately. A was sensitive to everything - loud noises, too many children and bright lights would have been difficult for her to manage at such a young age. So we began to look into private (licensed and unlicensed) daycare providers in our area.

I thought the search would take months, but we found someone almost immediately. I knew right away over the phone that she was the right childcare provider for us - her voice was kind, and she sympathized with A's constant crying and fussing. Although I'm sure she was wondering what she'd gotten herself into, she took on my daughter like another child in her family!

Lately, however, there are clear signs that A needs a different environment. First of all, she's a very spirited little girl, and like most first-born children, she requires a lot of guidance with activities. Playing by herself is not something she does very often. In a home environment, there is always time needed to prepare activities and clean up messes. Daycare centres are better equipped to deal with all the painting, claying, crafting and toys, as lessons/activities are planned well in advance.

As much as I wish I had the energy to be a crafty, homeschooling Mom, I know that it's not in my nature. I'm a bookworm, I like a lot of quiet, and my idea of a fun time is to listen to music, strum away on my guitar or try a new recipe. I'm definitely not cut out for exciting, daily craft ideas or inventive/educational games. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy playing with my daughter, but I certainly don't feel capable of providing her with an enriching educational environment, day-in and day-out.

So, with maternity leave approaching, we decided it was time to transition A to a preschool centre, where she will stay until it's time for Kindergarten. Financially, it's a little silly to keep your children in daycare when you are at home and perfectly able to care for them. But mentally and emotionally, I think it makes a lot of sense. I have been saving money for over a year now, just to be able to pay to have A in part-time preschool while I'm on maternity leave (and maybe I'll explain more the reasoning behind this decision in another post!)

Like any mother, I am anxious about the transition, and fretting over how she will fit in. Will she get along with the other kids? Will she scream and cry when I drop her off? Will she learn how to nap in a roomful of children? These are all unknowns, and right now, I'm trying to tell myself that things will find their own way of working out. Until then, we are talking about "school" a lot, and discussing how things will be different in September.

How did your child transition to daycare/preschool? Did anything make it easier on you or them?

Friday, July 13, 2012

{this moment} Gatineau Hike

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Visit SouleMama to link your "moment"

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Conserving Water in a Drought

We Canadians don't think about water very much. Despite the fact that we use incredible amounts of water to groom, clean and wash, most of us don't give it a second thought. We have natural sources of water all around us, and the technology needed to purify this water for our consumption. Unless you're a farmer or live on a well, you likely consume water as though it were an infinite resource.

Currently, however, we have entered Level 2 drought conditions. Which basically means, water is NOT abundant in our region. Our city has received 19.6mm of rain since June 8th, which is barely 20% of the normal level.

The recommendations for a Level 2 drought (which will be confirmed this Friday), is that residents voluntarily reduce water consumption. By-law officials won't be patrolling your neighbourhoods to hand out tickets, but they're hoping that you will restrict water usage out of the goodness of your heart.

Do you know what a Level 3 drought means? It indicates the failure of the water supply to meet the demand, resulting in progressively more severe and widespread socioeconomic effects.

"Resulting in more severe and widespread socioeconomic effects" - does this mean we're already experiencing some severe widespread socioeconomic effects? If so, I have a hard time accepting voluntary restrictions on water usage. How about plans to prevent the Level 3 by putting some clear rules in place? Naw, clearly this is not what our society is about - we like to wait until disaster has struck before we jump to action.

As an environmentalist, I find this rather frustrating, so I wanted to share how our family plans on voluntarily reducing water consumption (note: we do a lot of these already, drought or no drought):

1) Brushing Teeth: water should NOT be running while you're brushing your teeth. What are you using it for? Here's an idea - fill a small cup with water. Dip your toothbrush in it, put your toothpaste on, and merrily go about your business. Rinse your toothbrush in the cup, and then use the same water to rinse your mouth out. It's all your own germs in there anyway, so what are you worried about?

2) If it's brown, flush it down. If it's yellow, let it mellow. Our family practices this almost all of the time. Does it mean I clean the toilets more often? You bet! But I don't see the necessity of flushing a pee, when I'm just going to need to go again in 1-2 hours (I am pregnant, after all!) If the idea of this really bothers you neat freaks out there, just put the toilet seat down - you won't notice a thing!

3) Lawns are stupid. I wish we didn't have a lawn. It's a western invention that highlights our unhealthy need to control nature. We demand bright green, weed-free lawns, at the expense of our ecosystems. When I take a walk in the evening, it's all I can do to not scream stop watering your damned lawns!!! to my sweet old neighbours. I realize it's a cultural/generational thing, and they probably don't even realize what they're doing. But our generation? We DO know what we're doing, and watering our lawn is wasteful. If you must water something, make sure it's the vegetables and fruit that are growing in your gardens! Our food clearly takes priority over manicured grass.

4) Laundry - ah, laundry. The bane of all parents' existence. During this drought, we are committed to washing only very soiled laundry. If I don't see a visible stain, it's going back in the drawer (underwear being the exception). If you wear some nice deodorant, there's no need for you to wash a shirt that's only been worn once.

5) Dishes - this is where I get stumped. Clearly, we have to wash dishes. We own a dishwasher, and we'll stack that with all of our breakables. Pots, pans and any plastic gets washed in the sink. Is it better to hand wash all dishes, or do dishwashers actually save water? Maybe you can help me out here.

6) Showers/baths - again, most of us have an unhealthy attitude towards bathing. We believe it must be done every single day, and it's incredible how long some people will stand in the shower. When we re-did the bathroom last year, we purchased a small claw foot bathtub. I bathe every 2-3 days, and fill this up about half way. My husband showers downstairs, and he's out in under 5 minutes. Showers and baths are a GREAT place to start reducing water consumption.

So what are your tips for conserving water? Could you try any of the above?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

There's Always Indian

Today was a day that is hard to describe, because it was just so awful.

Not awful because someone died. Not awful because of a major disaster or community tragedy. And not awful, because we could still afford to feed ourselves and enjoy the comfort of our home.

However, in the land of motherhood, this day could have been called "doomsday" - a day where I honestly wondered if I may be threatening the future of the human race. Could my mothering skills somehow be contributing to a younger generation that will destroy our earth through their sheer lack of discipline and sanity?

Yes, I'm being overly dramatic. But I can't help it. I'm pregnant, and pregnant mothers of toddlers feel slightly more desperate than other pregnant or non-pregnant women.

Our day was a day of non-stop screaming and temper tantrums (save for the blissful hour or so I spent at the splash pad with some wonderful friends). Today our dog was attacked by a rampaging toddler. Today I was hit repeatedly and screamed at until my ear drums hurt. Today all attempts at discipline failed, although to give her her due, she did apologize to the dog. Today involved a Mommy who barricaded herself in the office (we have no locks on our doors) and repeatedly chanted "Om" until the risk of murdering her child passed.

And when I couldn't stand it any longer - when 5 p.m. rolled around and no dinner had been prepped, and dishes were still stacked up on the counter, I caved.

"A., get your shoes on, we're going out for dinner!"

Tears dried up in an instant. She opened her eyes, and closed her screaming mouth and said:

"Do they have mango drinks there?"

A Mango Lassi and a shit load of Indian food saved the day.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

{Ottawa Doula} Fat Chance: Being Pregnant and "Overweight"

I wrote this post a long time ago - like, 8 months ago. This was inspired by a client of mine, but I've used no identifying information and have the ultimate respect for confidentiality. This is a rant/story about an issue more of us need to be talking about - and not just for pregnant women, but for all women who dare to surpass the dreaded BMI cutoff point.

I'm angry over a policy (or perhaps a subtle tactic) by which overweight and/or obese women are routinely treated in a disrespectful and unfair way by the birthing community - I say "community" because I don't know how far this form of treatment extends. Suffice it to say, I've only heard bad experiences with OBs. But I'm sure there are nurses, midwives and even doulas out there who have crossed the line of ethical behaviour.

Picture this: you are excited for your 20 week ultrasound appointment, at which point most women will meet their obstetrician for the first time (prior to this, you have been cared for by your family doctor, who may also exhibit similar biases, but with whom you most likely have a good working relationship).

The doc walks in, sits down, and begins rattling off alarming statistics about weight and pregnancy. They advise you not only to "gain 0 pounds," but say it may be beneficial for you to lose weight over the next several months. "Don't worry, they say, "your baby will just eat you." They begin to lecture you on diet and exercise, all the while strapping the blood pressure cuff to your arm. Your blood pressure reads high (no surprise, given Dr. Destructor has just crushed you like you were an annoying bug flying around the room).

At no point in this discussion are you:

a) congratulated on your pregnancy

b) asked how you are feeling

c) probed further for evidence of your lifestyle (do you exercise, eat well, and try to lower stress?)

d) asked about your preferences, knowledge or opinions

Based on your (false) blood pressure reading and BMI, you are automatically referred to a high-risk obstetrician, who treats other women with dangerous medical conditions which can potentially put the lives of their babies and themselves at risk. Your baby, on the other hand, is thriving and by all accounts growing well.

You're out the door in 15 minutes.

The following appointments are all the same - they always begin with, "because your BMI is high, you are at a much greater risk for stillbirth. You will most likely have a c-section. You will need to speak to the anesthesiologist prior to labour so that he can tell you all about the epidural you'll be getting."

This is the part of the post where all the swearing came in, but I've done some rewriting and tried to tone it down. Hubby wants me to keep my positive outlook on life intact. I'm also reiterating here that this is all my opinion, based on anecdotal evidence. Maybe you've had a different experience - I'm happy for you. But at a hospital not-to-be-named here in Ottawa, lots of women with higher BMI's are having a shitty experience. Oops, I swore - sorry.

At NO point in anyone's care should they ever be treated as a patient without a right to respect and evidence-based information. And yes, I realize there is evidence out there that more weight on a woman can complicate a pregnancy. But is this the case for every woman? And should that evidence cloud our vision enough to lose sight of the fact that individuals deserve a shared decision-making model of care? (where a patients' values and preferences are of utmost importance - read more here)

We as a society have some serious work to do in our treatment of the "epidemic" of overweight/obese individuals. Every strategy our government and health care providers have adopted treat weight as some form of disease that needs to be eradicated. In all my work I have done with eating disorders, I know three things to be true: Weight is NOT the problem. Willpower is NOT the problem. Fat people are NOT lazy.

The problem is how we function as a community; how we market food to individuals; how the food industry prepares the crap we can buy anywhere, anytime; how our fast-paced world allows for little or no time to reconnect with our bodies and our minds. I could go on and on (and perhaps I will in another post!) about the TRUE reason for weight issues, and none of the "solutions" we have implemented come even close to dealing with the root cause.

News flash: fat women can be healthy. I will be the first to admit that I'm skinny and slightly unhealthy. I don't exercise enough, I eat a lot of junk (at least lately!), and I fail miserably at coping with stress. And yet I have met women 50 lbs (or more) heavier than me who regularly participate in activites, have ample reserves for coping with day-to-day life, and eat as well as anyone can in an environment where industrial food is available at every corner.

If you are overweight and thinking about getting pregnant, be prepared to get stuck with a care provider who will treat you for your weight, and not for who you are as a whole person. Be prepared to meet with resistance at every corner. Every decision you make will be assessed against your BMI, and you may not be "allowed" to do some of the things you want to do.

Does this mean that you are stuck in your situation? Absolutely not! Despite the fact that we live in a country with universal health care, you still have the right to shop around. You are paying for this out of your taxes, and in no way do you need to settle for prejudiced care. Make sure to find a doctor that seems to be about the "whole package" rather than the number on the scale. The last thing you need during labour and birth is to be at the whim of a doctor who is blinded by your fat. I advocate midwifery care whenever I can, but especially in these cases - you will have a much greater chance of receiving positive direction rather than negative attention. Midwives can do a "shared-care" approach in these cases, where you continue to see your high-risk team at the same time.

Listen Up: This is not just an issue for overweight individuals to deal with on their own. This is an issue we all need to face.

Women are not numbers, and many doctors have a hard time remembering that fact. Our healthcare is suffering in this country because we put all of our faith in the numbers, with little regard for individual's feelings and preferences. Doctors (and other care providers) seem bewildered by any pregnant woman who doesn't heed their unwelcome advice - they label them "problem" patients, and throw up their hands in frustration. If you think practicing obstetrics is about "saving" someone, you need to find yourself another job. Women having babies don't need to be saved - they need to be heard.

As with any prejudice, fat bias hides away in the closet, peeking its nasty head out from time-to-time. Well, it's peaked out one too many times...

Enough is enough! Open your closet doors, air out your dirty laundry and give fat a chance.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Correction! (and My Experience with Prenatal Classes)

First Off, I missed some important classes offered in Ottawa in my last post and also wanted to make a correction - Mothercraft offers a fee-based class tailored to all expectant couples in Ottawa. According to Mothercraft staff, their content is similar to that which is offered through the Ottawa Childbirth Education Association. My apologies for confusing this with their Birth and Parent Companion Program, which is designed for families with little or no support. I blame my pregnancy brain for this mistake :)

And thanks to all my readers for pointing out other great classes in the city - how lucky we are to have so many choices!

Birth to Breastfeeding
Healthy Beginnings (the Bradley method)
Journey Into Life (Hypnobirthing)
Mother Nurture Childbirth Services (Ottawa Valley)
Ottawa Prenatal Services (Riverside South)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Ottawa Hospital Cancels Prenatal Classes

So as you may have already heard from Facebook and other social media, The Ottawa Hospital (TOH) has announced plans to cancel their entire prenatal education program:

The Ottawa Citizen
CBC Ottawa

For months, rumours have been circulating throughout the community that the classes would be cancelled by September 2012. A group of community organizations with a keen interest in childbirth education got together, with the intent to draft a letter of inquiry to TOH.

Before we could send our letter, prenatal instructors at TOH received a curt letter from hospital staff, informing them that classes were indeed to be cancelled, and that their services were no longer required. Our group quickly realized we needed to do something other than just a letter, and we sent out a press release first thing Monday morning. Which resulted in my phone ringing off the hook for about 5 hours.

But this was good! We now had people's attention, and would hopefully get an official response out of TOH.

Despite the helpfulness of the media, there are still a number of issues that need to be addressed and things that the community needs to understand. Please keep in mind, any opinions I give here are my own. I'm not writing this on behalf of any community partners. So don't blame them if I say something stupid.

1) Get Your Stats Right: several of our (extremely smart, talented) doulas/educators have pointed out that TOH's stats are flawed (or rather, they have been reported in a way to sway the public to see their side of the argument). They claim that about 10% of couples - 600 or so - take prenatal classes. However, they didn't point out that over 40% of birthing women at the hospital are first-time mothers, and that the classes are geared to these women - about 2560 or so. Therefore, 600/2560 is actually 23% - this is close to the Ontario average of 28% of couples who partake in prenatal classes.

2) Duplication: Ann Mitchell claims they are cancelling classes because they "did not want to duplicate a service that was already being provided in the community." How, exactly, are our classes a duplication? We offer education from a wide variety of perspectives. Yes, some of our classes are very similar in content to those at TOH, but not all. And many women want to take classes at the hospital - where they will be giving birth, and where they feel safest. 

3) Books and YouTube are acceptable forms of education: um, NO!! If you think reading some books and watching a few videos on youtube will prepare you for birth, you are in a sad state. I would love to be the fly on the wall at the hospital when you show up at triage - chances are, you will be sent home multiple times (because you don't recognize the signs of active labour), you will receive more interventions (because you don't know about the alternatives or the risks/benefits of these procedures), you will have trouble breastfeeding (because, ya know, apparently this just comes naturally to us), and you may have a higher risk of postpartum depression (because your expectations of parenthood are being shaped by popular movies and television)

4) The City of Ottawa provides great classes (ahem): I almost choked on my coffee this morning when I saw a comment from someone describing these classes as "great." First of all, the City classes are run by Ottawa Public Health. Their primary goal is to spout all the health and safety information they live and breathe by - don't smoke, don't drink, don't do drugs, don't sleep with multiple partners during pregnancy (what???), and don't, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, sleep in the same bed with your baby. You might as well just throw your bundle of joy out the window if you plan to do that!! [My apologies to Public Health Nurses - you truly did help me out by doing home visits after I had my daughter. But in terms of preparing couples for labour and birth? I think they'd be best to stick to public health issues].

5) People are losing their jobs: In the Ottawa Citizen article, Mitchell claimed that "the program...[is] taught by nurses and social workers outside of their regular hospital duties. For that reason, no staff would lose their jobs once the program ended..." This is false information. Most of the prenatal educators at TOH are private instructors, and WILL be losing their jobs. The coordinator of the program, who has been there for 20 years, is also losing her job.

I'm sure there were other claims made that require clarification, but these are the few that have been brought to my attention.

My wish is for ALL expectant parents in the Ottawa area to have access to classes they want and need. The City of Ottawa classes may be beneficial to you if you are looking for more of a "prenatal health" program.

For couples hoping to get a comprehensive class that encourages women/partners to learn about all the options and make informed choices, check out the Ottawa Childbirth Education Association or Mothercraft Ottawa. Strapped for time? No worries, Birthcare offers a 1-day condensed course! Need all the help you can get because you're hoping for a natural or home birth? Try some of the alternatives, such as Birthing from Within, Nesting in Ottawa or Lamaze.

Have I missed any? Who did you take your classes with, and what was your experience?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Top 10 Innovative Ways to Stay Cool During Pregnancy

10) Eat lots of ice cream and/or popsicles. Even if you gain 50lbs during pregnancy, it's OK.

9) Have a cold shower, and then run naked to your bed. Let evaporation do its job.

8) Run through the splash pad with your toddler (bonus points if you try to splash the other parents)

7) Put your head under the water sprays in the produce aisle of the grocery store (bonus points if you then toss your wet hair in a very sexy way, attracting the eyes of the produce boys)

6) Buy a Japanese Ice Bra!

5) Drink hot tea (the British in India swore by this)

4) Bathe your feet in ice water (bonus points if you do this at the office)

3) Crunch loudly on ice cubes (again, the cubicle is a great place for this - especially to annoy your insufferable cube-mate)

2) Always expose your stretch-marked belly at the beach by wearing a bikini (bonus points if your bum is eating your bikini bottom)

1) Go skinny dipping (bonus points if you do this in a public pool)

Thursday, June 14, 2012


I've borrowed the idea for this post from my friend Sara over at My Points of View

Today, I am 32 years old. Is it cliche to say that I still feel like I'm 22? That I'll probably always feel 22, even when I'm hobbling around with a cane and wearing Depends?

I started writing a big sentimental post about birthdays and ageing, but then I realized I'm only being sentimental because I'm pregnant. Much better to be practical.

So for a fun post, I decided to share 32 things about me....

1. I once wrote and recorded my own CD

2. I busked on the streets of Huntsville, ON, a la Hawksley Workman

3. I worked one summer at Billie Bear Resort in Northern Ontario

4. I convinced a group of students I was travelling with to go skinny dipping in Thailand

5. I have eaten bugs (some type of fried worm, to be exact)

6. I've visited England, Ireland, France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Thailand, Japan and many parts of North America

7. If given the time, I can read a novel in a matter of hours

8. I'm a crappy housekeeper

9. I like big ideas, but struggle with the small details

10. I  have attended 3 universities, and completed 7 years of post secondary education

11. One day, I hope to do 4 more years of graduate school, and get my PhD

12. When I was little I wanted to be a musician in a "pit band" for broadway musicals

13. We had our wedding reception in a 100-year old barn

14. At that same reception, I may have been the first woman to pee in a port-o-potty in my wedding dress

15. I once caught a baby in a car

16. I've birthed at home, and plan to do it again for my second

17. I once got a job bottling mosquitos for testing in Northern Ontario...I later chickened out

18. I'm scared of bugs, but I don't mind snakes or rodents

19. I can't sew, knit or craft

20. But I can make a mean sweet potato pie

21. In 2008 I ran my first (and last) half marathon

22. I hate my smile, because I think my teeth stick out

23. I like my curly hair

24. I don't own a scale, and rarely weigh myself

25. The first CD I ever owned was "Five Days in July" by Blue Rodeo

26. The first concert I ever went to see (unless you count Sharon, Lois and Braham when I was 5) was U2 in Toronto. It was during their "Pop" tour

27. I was a cheerleader in high school

28. I hate shopping, I hate shoes and I hate clothes

29. I do like purses and bags

30. Our 10-yr plan is to own a small piece of land, build a strawbale home, and raise Nubian goats and chickens (ok, my husband doesn't know about the goats yet...shhhh, don't tell him!)

31. My "when I'm grown up" dreams used to be that I would own a Pug and an old Mini Cooper S. I have the pug, but no mini yet.

32. This morning at 1am, I welcomed a beautiful baby girl into the world (someone else's, not my own!) Clearly, she was born on the coolest day of the year

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Spring Fling

Is anyone else finding this spring excessively hot? These high 20/low 30 days are getting to this pregnant gal, and I feel a little slow. I'm scared to see what July brings!

The warm weather hasn't stopped Daddy and A. They've been out biking...

And picking the radishes from the garden...

Our peas seem to have been eaten by the rabbits, but the tomatoes, peppers, squash and carrots are growing well.

I heard awful news yesterday that we may have lost up to 90% of our tender fruit in Ontario, due to the late spring frost. No local apples this year?? Sob!

What's growing well in your garden this spring?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Why The Office is Bad for Pregnancy

Image Source
Everyone  knows that our sedentary lifestyle is slowly killing us. When we work 8-9 hours a day sitting at a desk, come home, and plop ourselves down in front of the TV, we know we're doing our body a disservice. But what choice do we have? Money needs to be made, and our jobs are sometimes stressful (hence why we zone out in front of the TV every night).

But all the risks associated with our choices seem so far off in the distance. It's hard to take cardiovascular disease seriously when there's a "chance" that we'll develop problems. The payoffs we get now (money, power, job satisfaction) outweigh the negative impacts we may experience years down the road. That's why it's so hard to change - getting more exercise, eating better, and lowering stress have long-term benefits. Our brains are hard-wired to want what we want RIGHT NOW.

However, pregnancy is a short time in our lives. Long enough that we can appreciate what our bodies are putting us through, but short enough that we can see the outcome. And office life can have some detrimental effects on pregnancy and birth. But the good news is that short-term positive changes can be made to facilitate a healthier and less stressful pregnancy. And when we can see the benefits (i.e. a healthier mommy and a healthier baby), then we're much more motivated to make changes.

I've worked in an office for many years, and have never had an issue with sitting for long periods of time, typing all day long, and working under fluorescent lighting. Never, that is, until I got pregnant. Pregnancy changed my body, and made it hard to handle the demands of office life.

So here are some tips/tricks I have learned along the way, in both my first pregnancy and this pregnancy:

1) If possible, try to work from home or negotiate "flex hours" with your manager. Even 2-3 days a week at home can give you a much needed break from the fake lighting and lack of fresh air. Plus, you'll save time on your commute, which will give you the opportunity to get a bit of housework done or go for a walk.

2) Drink lots and lots of water. Office buildings have recirculated air, which can make them stuffy and dry. Keeping yourself well hydrated is a must.

3) Get up frequently - every 10 minutes. Go to the bathroom (not hard when your bladder is getting squished); take a quick trip to the water cooler; go for a walk around the building; or just do some stretching by your chair.

4) Sitting - we have an epidemic of malpositioned babies here in Ottawa. Some suspect it's because most of us are government/office workers, and we spent a lot of time reclined back in our chairs. This encourages our babies to take the "sunny side up" position, which can make labour and birth long and difficult (usually resulting in more interventions). One way to fix this is to buy an exercise ball to sit on instead of your office chair. This encourages you to arch your back, open your legs up wide and strengthens your core muscles.

5) Activate your commute. I park my car a 15 minute walk from work, which forces me to get 30 minutes of physical activity each day (I try to do a power walk). On the days I take the bus, I get off at a stop further away from the office, which again helps me to get short bursts of activity.

6) TV at night is still OK - just remember what I said above about posture and positioning. If you're watching TV at night with your hubby, bust out your yoga mat, and do some stretches. Or sit on your exercise ball instead of the couch. Even better? Turn off the TV and sign up for a yoga class!

Have you learned any special tricks/tips for being pregnant in the office?

Monday, June 4, 2012

2 Years Old: Blogiversary!

It took me a while to become interested in reading blogs. I've always been a novel reader. I love long books and epic tales. Short stories have never really interested me, and if I wanted to get the news, I could always read the newspaper.

But a blog is something entirely different. A way to engage and connect with like-minded people. When we read a post that touches us, we can say "hey, that sounds like me!" And for new mothers, this is essential. When we are missing actual people in our lives to give us advice (good advice!) and tell us stories, then we must turn to the virtual world for comfort and support.

And although I have many wonderful people in my life offering me support and advice, I didn't have as much of that several years ago. I was pregnant and scared, and didn't have many mommy friends to turn to. So I turned to blogs instead, and read about the adventures of other mamas - stay-at-home, work-at-home, working outside/inside/upside down :)

I launched my own blog as a personal journal. But when I started to actually like my writing and my posts, I began to share them with the rest of the world. Although this blog will never be famous, it is something near and dear to my heart. Regardless of when I move on from here, the evidence will remain - I thought, I wrote and I had fun!

But I'm not going anywhere right now, so it's time to take a look back and celebrate some of the milestones along the way. I never did this for my one-year blogiversary, so looking back at two years worth of posts has been a trip down memory lane.

Soon after I posted about becoming a doula, my blog took a bit of a turn. I began to write a lot about midwifery, birth, and breastfeeding. I got my DONA certification, started tweeting (yes, it's tweeting, not twittering), and was soon stepping up on my soap box regularly to discuss issues in maternity care.

But I always like to point out that my blog is more than just birth and babies. I do occasionally feel compelled to write about big news stories, and the post I am most proud of deals with the issue of bullying. I also tend to get emotional on here, and will occasional spill my guts about something personal, or dabble in some poetry. I've been slacking lately in this department, but for a while, I was posting pics of my own photography (as amateur as it is!) Sometimes I think I'm a bit of a humorist, and will try to be funny to get a point across.

And of course, my journey towards pregnancy #2 has been documented here, with this and this post about my misgivings. Of course, I somehow justified it all in this post.

Through it all, you have been there, reading and commenting. I never thought I would feel proud of other people enjoying my writing, but I guess it's like any creative outlet we artists have - our paintings, songs, poems and stories are put out into the world so that they may be enjoyed. So thank YOU dear readers! I'm excited for what the next two years may bring.

Signing off for another year,
The Chickadee Tweet (tweet! tweet!)

Sunday, June 3, 2012


The technician gave this "personalized" picture to A

It's official. Although I've long suspected it, our ultrasound confirmed it - we will be welcoming another little girl into our family.

The first time was a surprise (although I also suspected I was having a girl). It was a wonderful surprise to have at the moment of birth. I would have done the same again this time, if it were not for the 15 boxes of girls clothes we have packed away in our tiny storage area in the basement. I absolutely refused to worry about reorganizing/packing clothes if we ended up having a boy, as most of the stuff we have is not gender neutral.

This pregnancy seemed different from the start. I began having cravings almost immediately, in the form of lots of red, salty meat. Most people who know me know that I enjoy eating mostly vegetarian (although I'm not strict about this in the least - I also really enjoy fish and humanely-raised chicken). However, within days after conception, I was craving big steaks, meat pies and yes.....I'll admit it.....even a McDonald's hamburger (yuck, I hope I never have to write that again!)

So hubby and I started suspecting it might be a boy. Although we both desired a healthy baby, regardless of sex, I think hubby had a secret wish for a boy - who can blame him, growing up with two older sisters? Even our dog is a girl!

But when the midwife first heard the heartbeat at 9 weeks, I knew immediately it was another girl. I totally believe in the midwives' tale of determining sex by the heart rate - girls have higher heart rates, and boys have lower heart rates. This is, obviously, not always the norm (and if you have a baby in the middle, say around 135-140 beats/min, it's hard to tell!); but in a lot of the cases it can be a good predictor of sex.

So appointment after appointment, the heart beat has been a steady 150 beats/min. And I slowly realized that my daughter would have a younger sister. Plus, after the first inital cravings passed, my pregnancy has followed the same pattern as my first - lots of nausea, vomiting and headaches!

I don't have a sister - a super awesome brother, but no sister. Almost everyone I know who has sisters seem to have close relationships with them. Yes, I know, most of the time they fight like cats and dogs in childhood, but as adults, wonderful friendships can develop! (and if you have experienced otherwise, don't burst my bubble!)

Both hubby and I left the ultrasound very excited, and since then, we've been brainstorming names and talking to A about her new role as Big Sister. And although we've decided to reveal the sex of the baby, we will be keeping our name choices close to our hearts - no pregnant mama needs any opinions on her name choices!

I'll be back here again soon to post a belly pic and celebrate my 2-year blogiversary, so stay tuned!

Did you grow up with sisters? Tell me about the good experiences, and gloss over the bad :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

When you marry a golfer...

I met my husband at university - a time when we were both figuring out what to do with our lives. Exploring. Learning. Growing.

I wanted to get my PhD, and then teach at a well-respected university. I am now a doula, and I work in a hospital.

Hubby knew he wanted to work in golf - no, not playing golf. Actually working in the golf industry. And he had already worked for several years each summer at a local golf course back home. He is now an assistant manager at a very nice golf course.

I thought this was great. After all, I had a handsome boyfriend who could play a wicked round of golf. This would mean weekends on the green. Golf vacations in all parts of the world.

Too bad I couldn't play golf.

But in all seriousness, I admired him for knowing exactly what he wanted to do with his life. He was passionate about something, and was able to make a living from it.

The first place he whisked me off to was good 'ol Hunstville, Ontario. Home of Deerhurst Resort, and one of the best golf courses in the province. He had a blast! Met lots of great people, worked all day in the sun, and played all the free golf he wanted.

But I slowly began to realize that having a partner working in golf (and not just playing it) had some drawbacks:

1) People who golf are crazy. They get up at ungodly hours, just to see whether they can be the first jackass out on the green. This means very early hours, and an alarm clock that wakes up poor Misty as well.

2) People who golf are crazy. They golf until the sun has gone down (and if they're drunk enough, after the sun has gone down). This means Misty is without a partner in the evenings as well.

3) People who golf are crazy (do I hear an echo in the room?) I will be very stereotypical here, but there are 2 types of golfers - the young guys, and the old guys. The young ones tend to be very full of themselves. They drink a lot, and say stupid things. The old ones tend to be very full of themselves. They drink a lot, and say stupid things.
[My heartfelt apologies to all the women golfers...I know you're out there, and you kick ass. But unfortunately the industry is slow to change. It's still mainly about the "boys" and their "toys." Oh, and my apologies if you are a golfer and you do not drink and say stupid things. Thank you.]

I could handle all these things as a young, single gal. I just brushed off the rude behaviour from the men, and since we had no children, no mortgage, and basically no responsibility, it didn't bother me much that Tom was gone all day long.

But enter children. And mortgages. And house repairs. And my own life - with all of its crazy on-call schedule and frequent evening appointments.

All of this gives you the perfect recipe for a grumpy woman - from May to October, that is. With the first light dusting of snow, I breathe a sigh of relief. Finally, my partner in crime is back!

So as I posted on my Facebook page earlier, I want to publicly apologize to all people who come into contact with me over the next several months. Not only am I pregnant and grumpy, but I'm also unreliable. Any plans we make are dictated by tee times and weather patterns!

Disclaimer: my husband is awesome. He works really hard, and I know he enjoys his job. It might sound like I hate golf, but I really don't. In fact, I love it so much, I'm offering to let a golf Pro teach me how to play....for free! And no, my husband cannot teach me. We already tried that. The divorce papers were written up. Luckily, they were later destroyed.