December 5, 2013
As I’m writing this post, I’m exactly one month out postpartum and enjoying every moment I spend with my darling daughter. Not every day is smooth sailing. This week we struggled with a bought of diarrhea. However, I must say that my cloth diapers (CD’s) performed brilliantly. We had no “blowouts” and very little skin irritation (due to so much diarrhea rather than the diapers themselves).CDing has not been as difficult as I thought it might be. The greatest work requires my washing them every day or two, and getting out of bed in the middle of the night when my eyelids refuse to unglue themselves. I suppose that if these are trials, I am a very lucky woman.
I’m looking forward to seeing how we fare on our travels back East. I’m not certain what the husband wants to do, or how we will diaper on our journey. I will post on this when I return in an addendum.
For the time being, however, I’m really enjoying being a mother and haven’t found the slightly more labor-intensive approach to diapering a baby unbearable. They are virtually as quick as a disposable. Even the husband says that he really has come to terms with it. (I knew he would.) He even tells his friends who much poop he’s had to touch, namely none. I’m the one that’s gotten pooped on (twice)! Ah, well. Live and learn and keep on loving your babies!
ADDENDUM (12-4-2013): We just returned from our trip, with great results. The grandparents got to meet their granddaughter, we got a lot of Christmas shopping accomplished, and the diapers did fabulously on the trip. We did use a few disposables for the daylight hours while driving for convenience purposes (we were on the road 44 hours each way and didn’t have any laundry facilities with which to wash the CDs), but always switched to cloth at night and used them exclusively while staying with the in-laws. I can state without a doubt that our daughter loves cloth over disposables! She was far happier in them, so I sometimes used them while driving anyway! It got us further along.
November 28, 2013
Wishing you all the blessings and fun times with family and friends this day. Today, as we get caught up in the spirit and tasks of the holiday, lets not forget to take a moment to be grateful for all the wonders we have in our lives. Mine, to be with family and friends that I have not seen in two years with a fabulous husband and beautiful little girl.
First off, I’ll come out and state that I try to support products labeled as the following (not a complete list):
- fair trade
- certified by a reputable organization
I will also say that leading such a lifestyle is very, very difficult. My husband is the breadwinner in the house. We live off his income. Military income isn’t much. It covers the necessities, which are far more often our bills than our wants, but our needs are met. Yet it gets very disheartening when I see so many others out there able to buy–and get a hold of (another shortcoming of the military lifestyle)!–the products I really want to incorporate into my family’s healthy lifestyles. These seem to have become even more important to me now that I’m a mother.
There are some reading this that have just nodded. This sounds familiar to a lot of people, especially in these hard economic times. I don’t think that anyone wants to buy foods and other products that are unorganic, non-fair trade, GMO-filled mysteries. I honestly don’t. Sometimes, they just don’t have another option–their reasons are their own.
Besides GMO’s, which I’ll touch on in a moment, I think that fair trade products are top on my list to buy when I can. Why? Well, I don’t agree with oppressing other people, which happens a lot when big cash crops like coffee, tea and chocolate (to name a few) are produced and harvested. I don’t agree with how the laborers are treated and how these labor practices affect the local economy. That’s why I try to buy fair trade.
According to the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO):
Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seek greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers–especially in the South. Fair Trade Organizations, backed by consumers, are engaged actively in supporting producers, awareness raising and in campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of conventional international trade.
Of course, I also care about how food is cultivated and grown. I don’t pretend to think that science has not aided the starving populations in our world. It has by making crops grow faster and in greater quantities than ever before. However, how the DNA of the plants and animals produced is transmuted bothers me for several reasons:
- There’s a lack of transparency on what and how it goes on during the manufacturing of genetically modified organisms (GMO’s)
- Lobbyists pay into big government, and big government protects lobbyists from the justice system
- I’m not keen on remaking what already comes naturally in this world–I think it’s risky at best and more likely dangerous for us, our kids, our health and our planet
I think the steps Washington State is taking are pretty awesome. I also think that it’s high time people get to know what’s in their food. I won’t go so far as to say that those companies who manufacture GMO’s shouldn’t be able to sell their products. However, I think foods with GMO’s in them should be labeled. Let the customer decide, in my opinion…and if the customer decides that GMO’s are out, then the companies should listen and not be forcing their products upon the buyer through sneaky lawmaking. With so many countries restricting or outright banning GMO’s for scientifically-backed health concerns, I think the multi-national corporations should take the concerns raised into consideration.
But, let’s face it, we cannot live toxin-free. There’s no possible way. We can do our best to eliminate fluoride from our water supplies, get rid of GMO’s from our diet, stop eating sugar, buy only locally, stop using products that have questionable chemicals in them, and so forth but the reality is, we’ll still come into contact with them. Every single day. They are everywhere, but that’s no reason to become an alarmist.
(I follow quite a few natural living blogs, and while I highly respect all the bloggers who write the articles, there are days when I think that they are perhaps taking things a bit too far. It seems that they worry about everything. We simply cannot avoid everything.)
The wonderful thing is that our bodies are wonderful miracles. Most often, they can handle those chemicals we come into contact with. It flushes them out, aided by our conscientious attempts to down those 8-10 glasses of water each day and eat the right amount of nutrients to boost our immune system, drain our lymph system, strengthen our musculoskeletal system, nourish our nervous system, etc. We have the capability to cleanse ourselves through diet and exercise–one of the many reasons so many people turn to old traditions like yoga (and with it Ayurveda).
So, with all of this said, how can we lead healthy lifestyles and maintain a modicum of sanity? The first thing, I think, is that we have to stop being apathetic about these and other issues. We have to start caring. We have to do our own research. Yes, while I do the best I can with mine, it’s not foolproof. Always, always read up on the topics that interest or concern you yourself. Don’t just trust what’s out there. Read, and then talk with experts, doctors, friends who are in that professional field or well-read on the subject.
Secondly, we need to take back the power. We need to do things ourselves. Yes, that means it requires more time and energy on our part, but healthy living is worth it. We only get one body and one chance at staying healthy.
Here are a few ideas on how to DIY a healthy lifestyle:
- Grow your own garden
- Make your own beauty products
- Buy skin-friendly fabrics and sew your own clothing
- Make food from scratch
- Subscribe to healthy DIY newsletters for endless ideas
- Make your own Christmas gifts
- Let some things that are affecting your life go
- Find gratitude for those things which you already have
There are countless ways of changing simple behaviors to promote healthy living. Some people will do more than others, but even just one change will better your health and your quality of life. The idea isn’t to become super-health nut, or to become so ashamed you think ill of yourself and your habits. It’s merely to live as well as we individually can.
October 31, 2013
Carica papaya, a melonlike fruit, was discovered by Spanish explorers in Central America in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and quickly became a favorite fruit, nicknamed “the fruit of the angels.” They spread it across the world to other subtropical regions, including the Philippines and India. It has rich orange flesh with pinkish or yellowish hues and can grow up to 20 inches and weigh more than a pound. Fully ripe, it has a soft consistency and sweet, musky taste. The black seeds found at its center are surrounded by a gelatinous substance and are edible though bitter.
Nutritional highlights and health benefits include:
- Excellent source of antioxidant nutrients–carotenes, vitamin C, and flavonoids
- Good source of folic acid, vitamin E, vitamin A, potassium, and fiber
- Contains papain, an enzyme that helps digest proteins; it is more concentrated in unripened papaya, and is used similarly to bromalain (in pineapple) to treat conditions like indigestion, hay fever, and allergies
- Provides protective benefits against cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses associated with free-radical damage
Select a papaya that has a reddish-orange skin and is slightly soft to the touch for immediate consumption. Those with yellow patches need a few extra days to ripen at room temperature. Ripe papayas stored in the refrigerator should be consumed withing 1-2 days for maximum flavor and enjoyment. No known allergies or safety concerns are associated with this yummy fruit. Below are a few tips for serving:
- Eat papayas whole or in fruit salad
- Juice them
- Sprinkle with fresh lime juice before eating
- Fill a seedless half of a papaya with fruit salad
- For a unique salsa, combine papaya with cilantro, jalapeno peppers and ginger, and serve with seafood like shellfish or white fish
- Combine in blender with strawberries and yogurt for a cold soup
- Add to skewers and barbecue
- Serve wedges with thinly sliced smoked turkey
- Rather than discarding them, use the seeds in cooking as a garnish (atop a salad) or like whole peppercorns (dried and ground in a blender) as they have a spicy, pepperlike taste
- Cut in half, de-seed, and sprinkle cavities with cinnamon and nutmeg and bake like you would apples
- Unripe papaya can be treated like a vegetable (i.e. add to stews)
Fruit from a papaya tree, which can grow upwards of 20 feet, will start appearing about 18 months after planting. Its fruit is spherical or oblong in shape. Hybrids include Babaco (Ecuadoran and yellow, but can get mushy if cooked too long), Mexican (can reach up to two feet in length and weigh up to 10 pounds, and come in red and yellow varieties!), and Solo (most commonly seen in supermarkets, grown in Hawaii, and come in “Sunrise” and “Strawberry” varieties).
For more about this luscious fruit, check out this article from Dr. Oz!
Murray, Michael N.D., Pizzorno, Joseph N.D., and Pizzorno, Lara M.A., L.M.T. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. Atria Books, New York, NY, 2005; p. 299-301.
Margen, Sheldon M.D. and the editors of UC Berkeley Wellness Letter. Wellness Foods A-Z: An Indispensable Guide for Health-conscious Food Lovers. Rebus, Inc, New York, NY, 2002; p. 438-439, 524.
October 10, 2013
Several months ago, I wrote a post about pregnancy (here) explaining my experience (thus far) and encouraging women that it was okay not to be the chipper, happy-go-lucky preggo lady society things we need to be. Frankly, pregnancy is hard, and harder on some than others. If you had an easy pregnancy, I envy you but am happy you didn’t have to experience mine. I vomited most of then 9+ months.
Last Tuesday, October 1, at 0834 our baby girl, Natalia Elizabeth, finally arrived! I labored for about 13 hours, pushing about one total, under the supervision of a very skilled, hilarious midwife and naval captain. The birthing team on deck that day was fabulous; in fact, everyone in Labor & Delivery (and the Multi-service Ward thereafter, where we stayed until discharged) were top notch. I feel very blessed to have delivered in a baby-friendly facility (and highly recommend finding one, if possible).
With regards to the labor and delivery, and subsequent stay thereafter, several rather amusing but eye-opening thoughts did pass through my head. I thought I’d share them with you. (Note: this may be too much information for some, but as I spent hours combing Google and baby forums for anything that would help me determine what the heck was going on, it might also be valuable.)
- First and foremost, figuring out whether or not you’re in labor is confusing. There are so many indicators that may not indicate anything. Vaginal mucus discharge is one. It can be so thick and viscous, you aren’t sure whether or not you’ve lost your plug. (Note: heavy bleeding that soaks more than one pad an hour, or a discharge that is tan or green (or some other worrisome color), contact your doctor immediately.) I never quite figured out if I lost my plug. I merely kept waiting for labor to begin because, as I thought at the time, worrying about this kind of thing doesn’t help your body to relax in preparation for the approaching work.
- You just might explode. Quite literally. I experienced a strong, somewhat painful popping sensation as the husband and I were driving back into town. I liken it to a fist suddenly punching through a latex balloon. A gush of fluid came next…and it turned out that it wasn’t my water breaking.
- Husbands do panic, even combat veterans. Mine stepped on the accelerator the moment he realized I might have started going into labor. I had to calm him down in order to take some lead out of his food (and keep us from getting a ticket). Therefore, also remember that keeping your head despite whatever might happen is good for the both of you.
- While 14 hours from start to finish is the average for labor, it can go faster than that. It can also go slower. And you might end up having to go to the hospital more than once. I did; twice, in fact, within five hours’ time. The second time, thankfully, they didn’t send me home though I wasn’t dilated enough (initially). As there was another labor in progress when I arrived, they forgot about me for a bit. By the time they checked on me again, I was halfway there!
- Know what you want going into the birth. If you want to do it naturally, you MUST go into it with the mindset that you’ll see it through to the end, regardless of the pain (oh, the pain!), unless you and/or the baby are in distress. (Don’t be hardheaded if something does happen. It’s not your fault that you might need emergency care, and it will safe one or both lives.)
- Somewhere in the middle of labor, you will reconsider having all those children.
- Somewhere in the transitional phase of labor, you’ll realize that you’re almost there.
- You know when you’re ready to push because your body will start doing it for you. Don’t hesitate. Get the nurse, doctor, midwife, whomever and go for it.
- You will believe that the baby will never come out.
- You will believe that the baby will get stuck permanently as it crowns.
- You will believe that you sound like a dying cow, or worse.
- Your husband may crack jokes with the hospital staff while you’re pushing. Try not to kill them. Laughter still is the best medicine for the soul, even if you’re not the one doing it. And God knows they need to laugh after the stress of watching you go through intense labor pains.
- Your midwife or doctor may tell you afterwards that you push “like a gorilla.” (I’ll take that as a compliment, thanks.)
- It is highly uncomfortable to wait for them to cut the cord. Their pressing on your belly feels even worse.
- However, no matter how it looks when it arrives, the alien that had inhabited your body for nine-plus months will no longer gross you out (unlike in the birthing videos). You’ll be more than happy to hold him/her skin-to-skin, still slimy and all.
- No matter how uncool it is, your husband may consider skipping around the room for joy. He may also take charge and do sponge baths, change poop diapers, and generally try to hold the baby as much as he possibly can, all the while wearing a cross between the goofiest teenage grin you’ve ever seen and a look of tenderness that melts the heart.
- You will be known as “the Boob,” according to baby. Best get used to it.
- You’ll have never realized that, as happy as you were before the baby was born, you could be many times happier until the moment your baby arrives. Smile and immerse yourself in the joy.
- Take advantage of the wisdom of those who have gone before you, including fun lactation consultants who are considering dressing up as the Milk Fairy for Halloween.
- Remember: pregnancy was preparation; birth is the beginning of an amazing, blessed journey.
And when they finally release you from the hospital? You can hardly believe they’re letting you take this precious bundle of joy home. You’re a bit fearful of driving away. One of you will end up in the back seat, just to watch…in case. Their little heads bob around. They make faces, cry, or fall asleep. And then they sleep a lot…and eat a lot…and make messy diapers…and then do it all again, around the clock.
And you’ll still find your love for them growing…