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 :)