Cool Finds

May 30, 2008 § Leave a comment

I know I´ve been absent lately. I´ve got a very good reason. I´ve been getting ready for travel and am currently blogging from my homeland; my home city of Cali. It´s warm and humid and noisy and wonderful. I don´t eat quite what I used to eat so what I´ve tried food-wise has been very limited. But it´s a choice, right? Not complaining, just reporting.

We were at the Librería Nacional at the Centro Comercial (Mall) Palmetto (a new one since my last visit) and were looking for some books in Spanish for the kids. We found a couple of translations from the French Kididoc series that I can´t find on amazon. One is about children of the world while the other is about music. They´re intricate pop-up books that promise a lot of fun. Sorry my description is so weak.

The true find was a translation of a book that I had read about in Mothering Magazine, titled Welcome Baby (also known as Hello Baby; translated to Hola Bebé). This book from Australia tells the story of a family having a home birth. It shows the head coming out of the mother and the placenta lying in a bowl. Two features that I think are very cool for a children´s book. Especially a book that a child of a home birthing family will read.

We also picked up a book of translated short stories by Raymond Carver. It should serve our bilingual book club well.

That´s it for now.

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Phasing-in organics: Part II

May 15, 2008 § 3 Comments

… continued from yesterday…

Okay. Now that I’m done with that I can share with you what’s on my mind now. Let me tell you the story of how I’ve come to this new position on organics in our home, in steps:

1. Back in December, I wanted to make some money by having a job. I also wanted this job to allow me to bring bilingual baby to work with me. The purpose was to have a little more income, even if it was just for miscellaneous things like an outing to the coffee shop or a skein of yarn or a yard of fabric.

2. I did some searching for what other moms were doing who were in my situation- what kind of jobs did they have? I found moms saying that having a job doesn’t always mean you’ll make money. Some of them said that staying at home can save you money. These moms talked about finding sales on clothes and other needed items, making whatever they needed themselves. For some reason, this didn’t really click until recently.

3. Recently, I found myself doing searches for organic cotton/organic wool mattresses (as our current bed isn’t fit for four) and the issues surrounding conventional mattresses. I wept at the $4,000 price tag but was soon after relieved to hear more people complain that their organic mattresses weren’t very comfortable (though I’m curious to hear from anyone who thinks their organic mattress is comfortable). I then found a reasonable option: buy an organic wool topper, which is like a really thick mattress pad; buy organic sheets and find some other blanket to replace the one we currently have (though that’s lower on my priority list.

4. After finding peace with the mattress thing, I found myself wanting to use organic cotton for the kids (I’m using plurals already, yay!): diapers (though that’s also a phasing project as we have enough diapers right now for baby 2.0) and underwear. We’ve been using conventional cotton receiving blankets on top of the wool puddle pad on our bed and now I want to find a way to switch that over, too. Add to that pajamas, since they’re in those for long periods of time.

5. I realized that with the high price of all these items I had to find an economic (without cheating people) way to make this happen. My priorities for our second phase of organic introduction was pretty set (the first phase was the fruits and veggies). It consisted of four things:

Diapers/Underwear, pajamas, sheets and towels. First, for the kids. Then, for us (maybe even years down the road). It’s all happening in phases.

6. Then, it dawned on me that I could make some of these things. The sheets, because of sizing, I would try to find on sale, mismatched, and/or seconds- my priority is organic cotton and don’t care about things not matching. Underwear I’ve made for bilingual baby and can make more. Pajamas aren’t hard to make, either. Last, towels. As I searched Near Sea Naturals online fabric store, I found toweling fabric. Brilliant! I could make organic towels, too. Now, I was set. I had even done some price checking to see if it was worth it. Luckily, I love crafty projects. So, in effect, this would double as a crafty project for me AND a needed project for our phasing-in organic cotton. I could also make some organic diapers…

This phasing-in project may take some time and that’s the most economic way to go about it as far as I’m concerned. We won’t be starting a spending spree just to have organics in place today. It’ll take time. Not only to phase in products and phase out the conventional, but to get used to choosing organic over conventionally grown cotton.

Here are some resources you might want to consider if you’re interested in adding some organic cotton to your home:

Gaiam’s Outlet Sale

Under the Nile : organic underwear for kids

Hanna Andersson : organic underwear for kids (and some other organic clothes)

Don’t forget to do searches for coupon codes. I just got an organic flannel sheet (just the flat) for our soon-to-be new king size bed and searched for a coupon code and came up with this.

Here’s my new favorite diaper for bilingual baby:

Sandy’s Organic cotton fitted diaper (and I love that it’s unbleached!) Scroll down to find the organic option. We’ve only bought two so far (cos I wanted to try them out before going whole hog) and as much as I really like them I’m not sure I want to buy any more seeing that bilingual baby’s using the toilet more and more now. (I am thinking of getting rid of some of the diapers we’ve used on her this past year- i.e. Fuzzibunz and Kissaluvs. I’ll explain in another post.)

New favorite wool cover for summer:

Swaddlebees Merino Wool Cover – It even fits over her toddler-sized flat diapers, which are huge. It’s not organic merino like the Disana wool cover my mom bought her but it’s a nice (thinner and trimmer) summer option.

Phasing-in organics: Part I

May 14, 2008 § Leave a comment

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how far I want to take our entry into the organic world. It’s expensive… but I keep finding myself reading reports that talk about the amount of pesticides and other chemicals that are used on fruits, veggies and especially cotton. It’s amazing and depressing. It’s not quite a “keep my baby safe” thing. I know there are battles I can’t possibly fight- but I also feel like every little bit that I can do to keep toxins a little further will help. There are a lot of chemicals and toxins that I will never be able to keep my family from but it seems obvious that there are routes I can take to lessen exposure. This computer I’m on is emitting who knows what… and don’t even bring up our wireless router. It’s all emitting stuff… and nobody knows the potential long-term effect of all of this. We’re just blissfully blogging, emailing and ordering online. Well, we are, at least. Sometimes I do turn off the router and sometimes I don’t. With that I’m not consistent. There are other avenues where I try to be more consistent in making my little effort. For instance, food. That’s probably the first thing that we started going organic on. There are a number of fruits and veggies that absorb way more pesticides than others, so we buy those organic. Other things like bananas and mangoes, to name a few, we buy conventionally grown.

Another effort we’ve started is our family earth hour. Most nights, around sundown, we avoid using lights (and most electricity) for an hour. It usually coincides with dinner and bath time/bed time. It’s a real relaxer for bilingual baby. The artificial lights sometimes wind her up so having candles or no/little lighting (as the sun sets) is a nice gentle way to remind her body that it’s nearing bed time. She also enjoys having the candles lit and it’s a nice relaxer for all of us. It helps us slow down. Our daily earth hour started after the yearly earth hour. I started using candles at night when bilingual papi was at work late and little by little we added earth hour days to the week. Now, we’re pretty accustomed to it and do it almost without thinking- much like we used to turn on the lights the second the sun edged toward the horizon.

I’m also happy to report that with all the warmth in the last month or so, I’ve enjoyed hanging the diaper laundry to dry outside in the sun. One of the perks is that the sun bleaches and removes foul odors the wash couldn’t manage. And, of course, the avoidance of the dryer is the enviro-perk we all know about. We have also been using reusable bags for every trip to the grocery store (and sometimes we remember them for other stores, too)- that took some time to really get the hang of.

Before I get to what has been on my mind I want to preface it by saying that I’m not trying to be boastful. I’m really being sincere in my efforts and telling you about our successes is not my way of saying that I’m better than you are or more conscientious. This is all really new to us and I hope that what we’re trying will be more of a reach out in solidarity than anything. We’re all in this together and we’re all learning from each other. The moment we place ourselves above anyone based on our life choices (I am a hippie, I know) we have lost sight of how connected we are. Honestly, though, we could all use a reminder (obviously, I mean I could use a reminder) of what’s going on in the world so to better balance out our world view.

… to be continued tomorrow…

Childbirth humor

May 13, 2008 § Leave a comment

Reflecting on the past prepares me for the future

May 10, 2008 § Leave a comment

My last post made me think more about the need to reflect on labor. In the current mainstream birthing culture there is the desire to paint over labor with broad strokes of “well, at least you had a healthy baby” and while that’s every mother’s concern I don’t think this thinking is valuable to the mother. The more well adjusted women are in their transition to motherhood, the more seamless the bond with mom and baby. It’s amazing how much labor can affect a woman, even way past their full-time mothering years. This stays with us. And I get the feeling it can haunt us. It can also give us strength- that feeling that once you’ve given birth in a supportive environment without intervention you can do anything!

I’m writing another post on the postpartum doula that we’re hiring for a couple of weeks after the baby is born. This is going to be really needed. While some postpartum doulas come and will do light housework this doula will be focused on feeding me, giving me tea, massaging me and talking with me. It sounds like a lot of pampering- a luxury, I would have thought before. But now that I’ve been through a rough postpartum that rushed into the real world too soon, this is going to be absolutely needed. Last time around, it was suggested that all I do was eat.sleep.nurse. And I did. But there was something missing. While I shared my birth story with anyone with ears, until now (with our midwife) have I started to understand some of it.

I’m thinking that it’s just that important to be able to reflect on labor with someone who knows the process who can guide you through understanding what happened and why. One of the reasons I wanted a homebirth was because I didn’t want to fight anyone on anything. I wanted a provider who would be open to a birth plan but who, in actuality, would practice the way I wanted to birth. I didn’t want to have to have a power struggle as I was experiencing one of the most amazing things I’d ever experience. Not then. I wanted to be there for it. I wanted to just close my eyes and let my body do the work. Not my brain. That’s probably why I was so confused about pushing from a semi-reclined position. I couldn’t understand why they would have given me the care I wanted (the one that was normal for this practice) and yet have me in an unfavorable position.

Now I know. And it does make a huge difference in how I’m viewing my upcoming labor. It’s freed me in some ways. It’s getting me more prepared to be open for this labor. For this baby. I feel more at ease.

I had read in Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth as well as in her Spiritual Midwifery that the thinking brain can make your labor stall or even stop. There are a number of examples in the birth stories. But, since Ina May (and the other midwives at the Farm) have known about this for years, they can spot it right away and help out. One particular story brings me to tears every time. We read this story when I was pregnant with bilingual baby and it really helped us prepare me for labor. The story told was of this couple. The woman was in labor and she was stalled. Ina May knew them well enough (through prenatals) that she knew that one of them had never said “I love you” to the other. Just as the labor stalled, Ina May suggested that the one that had never said “it” say “it”. As if witnessing a miracle (though they were used to these things happening on the Farm), the laboring woman’s labor started up again and within a very short time her baby was born.

So, the mind is very powerful. But the body is more capable of pushing out a baby. I knew this going into labor the first time so I focused a lot of my preparation on calming the mind and focusing on the body. This time around I’ve got more expectations, maybe even more fears. Luckily, they are being gently cared for by our midwife. I’m glad we’ll be meeting every fortnight soon. This will give us a chance to get more stuff out on the table. Who knows what could be stuck in me…

Prenatal visit helps me find more closure

May 9, 2008 § 3 Comments

Surprisingly, our latest prenatal visit helped me see that yet another part of my labor with bilingual baby was indeed warranted. During one of our earlier prenatals, I remember asking our midwife if 2 hours of pushing is considered long- as that was what the home birth doctor (a family doc) told me after bilingual baby was born. She said it was actually considered normal for a first timer. She also said that she was with a woman who pushed for 5 hours and while that is considered longer, nobody was harmed by a longer pushing phase. What we came to is that the doctor we were with was probably making a commentary on the current birth climate. In fact, in most mainstream hospitals (of course, there are wonderful exceptions) it is my understand that a woman would never be allowed to push for 2 hours. There’s fear and they all begin to think about liability.

At this prenatal visit, I handed over copies of the notes that the nurse took during my labor with bilingual baby. They are very detailed. As our midwife was looking them over I said, “If I don’t have to push semi-reclined I don’t want to.” She looked at me and scanned the notes again. She asked us how it went in the end and the fog cleared a little as we tried to piece it together for her. Then she said, “Oh, it was because you had light meconium” and I remembered that the doctor had to Delee bilingual baby’s nose just in case she had inhaled some meconium on the way out. Here’s a very small picture of the delee I’m talking about. It’s a small object that the caregiver inserts into the nose of the newborn to then suck out meconium or mucous, though I don’t believe it’s normally used unless there has been meconium when the water breaks.

Anyway, back to the point. It all made sense. All of a sudden I burst into tears. I was so happy that this piece of the puzzle had been sorted out. Can you believe it? 17 months later and I’m still on about my labor? And I had a normal labor at home! There’s still so much to process. I don’t know how women do it when they’ve had labors that have really gone a direction they didn’t want- and for everyone it’s different.

Then, as she looked more at these labor notes she reminded me that I labored for about 7 hours and I should put it all in perspective. What she said next was really intriguing. She said that with baby 2.0 I could have a shorter labor (how quick can she get to my house? hehe) or I could have the labor I was supposed to have the first time.

What?

This blew my mind. You mean you can sorta relive the first labor with a second experience? What do you think of that?

my first sweater!… for myself.

May 8, 2008 § Leave a comment

About 5 years ago, I started knitting a sweater (does this sound familiar to any knitters out there?) and just last week I finished it. One of the reasons why I couldn’t work on it was that I was the creator of the pattern. In other words, I didn’t have a pattern and I was just kinda winging it as I went. Also, the yarn is silk denim (I don’t really know what that means… cotton?) and is a bear to knit with. Since I started knitting it so long ago, the measurements are for a pre-pregnant Leila. A me who had not been through labor, had nursed nor was pregnant again. Regardless, it still kinda works. It works because where my waist was back when I designed the sweater you now find pure belly. It’s short enough that it won’t look like I’m trying too hard to wear a sweater that doesn’t fit (although I can tell) and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to use it after my childbearing years. Here’s the sweater. Notice that the collar is very wide. For this, I added a clasp I got at JoAnn’s. Seems to work just fine.

I’d be happy to share the pattern I came up with for anyone who wants it- I just haven’t come up with other sizes besides the one I made. The final measurements are 38″ around (that’s both fronts plus the back) and 17″ length (shoulder to bottom edge). You could even install a zipper, but since baby 2.0 didn’t want me to I didn’t bother.

I’m so excited about this being my first original sweater. It’s the first successful sweater I’ve made for myself! And I’ve been knitting for 8 years. Yikes. I started out with scarves- as you should, then moved on to hats (in the round), then socks, then cooler scarves. Finally, I wanted to make sweaters but I thought I should knit baby sweaters to get an idea for the construction and all that before hitting adult sweaterland. I did make an adult sweater but I ended up giving to a good friend. I also recall making a cute tank top but also gave it away, as it didn’t turn out to look very nice on me. It looked beautiful on her! Time went on and more and more babies were born and more and more sweaters were knit for them. When I had bilingual baby, I slowed down considerably on the sweater making… until now. I owe a couple of friends’ babies hand made sweaters, but that’ll come. I did mention I’ve got a ton of new babies to knit for… and with my own on the way I can’t help but want to knit solely for baby 2.0- which reminds me. I need to get off the computer.

Scratch this sweater off my list. I should admit (though I know I’m not obligated to) that I am making another fit-for-pregnancy-and-beyond knit garment. Something that I’ve been meaning to do with this yarn for a while. Well, I’m not putting it off.

Off to knit.

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