28 week maternity pics

Since I have a maternity photoshoot for an acquaintance scheduled for this weekend, I thought I better take out my trusted camera and get some good practicing in yesterday while Ava napped. Seeing how I have a baby belly myself and a desire to document my pregnancy as well, I figured I’d try my hand at some self-portraits. Eeep! It was a lot harder than I thought. First of all, it’s NOT easy to get the focus right when you are using a timer and have nobody to stand in for you. Secondly, it’s a lot of work going back and forth from the camera to the backdrop (in a house without A/C) in between each picture. I took probably 40 pictures and have about 8 that I’m sort of happy with, and 2 that I will share here. :)

Here I am – one day shy of 28 weeks:

I saw my midwife on Tuesday and everything is going well. I got to hear baby boy’s heartbeat through the stethescope which was really amazing since it was just pure heartbeat and not all the ambient noise you hear when you listen with a doppler. She felt him a lot (and could feel limbs, his butt, his back) and he is head down, though his head is off to the side. She gently reminded him where the exit is. ;)
My blood pressure is great and no protein in my urine.
She got my records from Ava’s birth so we went over those a bit and talked about what signs they saw that lead up to them admitting me, inducing and deciding I had HELLP syndrome. From what she could tell, I either had a very mild case of HELLP or they caught it VERY early. Either way, it’s reassuring, though it makes me wonder if there really was the urgency to induce as quickly as they did. Ah well, it’s water under the bridge and there’s no undoing it now. The good news is that I’m not showing any indication that I may develop HELLP this time around. :) *Knock wood*

I had my second acupuncture appointment today and it went well. I began to feel relaxed as soon as she started putting the needles in. I think someone on my blog inquired as to if I’ve noticed any difference since starting the acupuncture and I’ve read that it usually takes 4-6 visits to see a difference. My heartburn has lessened a lot though lately but I don’t know if that’s from the acupuncture or the changes I’ve made to my diet (like not drinking liquids with meals and avoiding some trigger foods) or it could be a combination. Obviously, with her treating my internal organs (liver and kidneys primarily), I’m not going to notice any difference. But she is also doing some work on some upper back pain I’ve been having, so we’ll see if that gets better.

I need to set aside time to do more relaxation work to help me prepare for the birth. In fact, since the kiddo is napping, I think I’ll go do that now.

Oh, one last pregnancy-related thing…the great book I’m currently reading – Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. It’s a wonderful, inspirational read. I HIGHLY recommend it to all pregnant women or those who plan on having children someday.

“Drawing upon her thirty-plus years of experience, Ina May Gaskin, the nation’s leading midwife, shares the benefits and joys of natural childbirth by showing women how to trust in the ancient wisdom of their bodies for a healthy and fulfilling birthing experience. Based on the female-centered Midwifery Model of Care, Ina May’s Guide to Natural Childbirth gives expectant mothers comprehensive information on everything from the all-important mind-body connection to how to give birth without technological intervention.

Filled with inspiring birth stories and practical advice, this invaluable resource includes:
• Reducing the pain of labor without drugs–and the miraculous roles touch and massage play
• What really happens during labor
• Orgasmic birth–making birth pleasurable
• Episiotomy–is it really necessary?
• Common methods of inducing labor–and which to avoid at all costs
• Tips for maximizing your chances of an unmedicated labor and birth
• How to avoid postpartum bleeding–and depression
• The risks of anesthesia and cesareans–what your doctor
doesn’t necessarily tell you
• The best ways to work with doctors and/or birth care providers
• How to create a safe, comfortable environment for
birth in any setting, including a hospital
• And much more

Ina May’s Guide to Natural Childbirth takes the fear out of childbirth by restoring women’s faith in their own natural power to give birth with more ease, less pain, and less medical intervention.”

NY Times article about Hypnobirthing

You may or may not know that Jody and I took five weeks of Hypnobirthing classes in preparation for Ava’s birth. The techniques learned in the class, along with the relaxation cd and book, helped me tremendously during my labor with Ava. I have several friends who have taken the classes as well and have gone on to have wonderful birth experiences.

The Hypnobirthing method does not promise you your birth will be without discomfort, but it does help you learn how to relax your body which “can help bring about a shorter, easier, and more joyful birthing, free of harmful drugs for you and your baby.” “The method teaches you that in the absence of fear and tension, severe pain does not have to be an accompaniment of labor.”

We plan to take a refresher course as it gets closer to baby’s guess date and use Hypnobirthing once again. :)

It’s exciting to see a paper such as the NY Times recognize Hypnobirthing, and in a positive light too! :) (Fox News did a story about Hypnobirthing while I was pregnant with Ava [Jody and I were in the segment] and they made it sound like we were all a bunch of quacks for pursuing it. )

I’ve copied the entire article below (sorry it’s so long) because it is no longer available on the NY Times’ website without registering and logging in.

You’re in Labor, and Getting Sleeeeepy

Published: April 27, 2006


My parents definitely thought I was a bit crazy when I mentioned a hypnobirth,” Adrienne Pratt said. Ms. Pratt, eight months pregnant, and her husband, Armando Guato, gathered with two other expectant couples on Easter Sunday afternoon to learn a newly popular technique for helping women remain serene during childbirth.

For many, the word “hypnosis” conjures up an image of a swinging pendant lulling a hapless woman into a trance. But hypnobirth is not about inducing a trance; it is a combination of relaxation, breathing and visualization techniques to control labor and birthing pain, said Linette Landa, the hypnobirth teacher.

Slow, smooth breathing counteracts what Ms. Landa called “the fear-tension-pain syndrome,” the notion that women fear birth, so their muscles tense up, resulting in pain.

“We’re all about the subconscious mind,” said Ms. Landa, a tall, tranquil woman who teaches yoga. “The conscious mind is out of the picture.”

Move over, Lamaze. Today, many women are reaching out to a variety of other drug-free childbirth alternatives, including aromatherapy and birthing pools, according to experts on gynecology and obstetrics.

They are inspired by Web sites like Urbanbaby.com, reality birth television shows like “House of Babies” on the Discovery Health Channel and celebrities like Angelina Jolie, whose sojourn with Brad Pitt in Namibia spurred speculation that they would have their baby using water birthing. Tom Cruise caused a stir when he said Katie Holmes would give birth in silence. (He later explained that she could make noise, but that others had to be quiet for a calm delivery of their baby, a girl, born on April 18.)

While “silent birth” raised eyebrows, even the more widely practiced hypnobirth, with more than 2,000 instructors nationwide, still draws its share of skepticism.

“When you hear ‘hypno,’ you think weird, hippy, earthy type stuff,” said Kelly Yeiser, 31, of Ashville, N.C., who had her first baby last August using the technique. “But it’s really more about meditation and getting yourself into a calm, relaxed state.”

Byron Bailey, a government worker in Washington who attended the hypnobirth class with his wife, Jaylin, said, “The idea of someone swinging a pendant — that’s the sideshow aspect.” The couple are expecting their first child in May.

The women attending the class said a big appeal of hypnobirth is that it builds confidence. Mothers-to-be complain that people are quick to share their worst childbirth stories, in excruciating detail, at the first sight of someone else’s pregnancy, feeding worries about labor and delivery.

Ms. Pratt, 36, a project specialist with the Inter-American Development Bank, in Washington, said hypnobirth helps banish such fears because it focuses on the positive.

She was practicing its deep, distinctive breathing — no Lamaze-style panting. The mother “breathes the baby down” and out instead of pushing, according to the tenets of HypnoBirthing. (The name was trademarked in 2000.) During sessions over several weeks, and daily home exercises, the mother also practices visualizing the baby easily descending and leaving her body so often that the image becomes imprinted in her mind; a CD is available for practice and for last-minute guidance. A birthing companion — husband or midwife — tries to keep the mother in a positive, totally relaxed state of mind.

HypnoBirthing mothers even use a different vocabulary. For example, a contraction is a uterine surge or wave, pushing is birth breathing, and false labor is practice labor.

Getting used to all this takes practice, admitted Jennifer Stanton-Brand, 38, who was attending the class with her husband, Stephan, a sales manager in Baltimore. They are expecting their first child next month.

Ms. Stanton-Brand has not yet developed a routine that is second nature, as the method recommends, but said the exercises “have helped me become more inward.”

“When something gets tense, I breathe and go inward to a place I can control,” she said.

Obstetricians interviewed said that expectant mothers are more focused on finding new ways to reduce, or even eliminate, labor and birth pain.

At one end of the spectrum, women are opting for Caesareans in record numbers. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the combined percentage of women who had C-sections or used drugs to induce labor was about half of the 4.1 million childbirths in 2004.

Of the remaining women, many fear that drugs will hurt their newborns and want a way to avoid them as well as to control the pain.

Some of the alternatives they are selecting include water birthing, in which the woman immerses herself in a tub or pool to reduce labor discomfort, and sometimes for the birth. Another technique is for the woman to change positions so she is not always lying down, but is sitting on a giant ball, for example. Some women have acupuncture, and others use aromatherapy to create a soothing environment.

The trend is toward nonmedical methods, said Dr. William Camann, associate professor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and co-author of the recently released “Easy Labor, Every Woman’s Guide to Choosing Less Pain and More Joy During Childbirth” (Random House).

Once, he said, “there was no overlap, and there tended to be animosity and distrust” between those who espoused natural childbirth and advocates of medical procedures. But that has changed, he added, because women are researching alternatives and finding them on the Internet.

Hospitals today are also more accepting of a woman’s desire to be in control during labor and delivery, Dr. Camann said. “There’s been a gradual trend toward acceptance of alternative methods, even though five years ago, asking for a hypnobirth was almost unheard of. Now it’s much more common.”

SO, does it work? In 2004, The British Journal of Anesthesia said studies involving 8,000 women found that those who used hypnosis techniques during childbirth rated their pain as less severe than those who did not.

Jennifer Macris, 38, of Annapolis, Md., said that during the three-hour labor for her baby, born on March 26, she listened to a HypnoBirthing CD through headphones. She was so calm that nurses asked her husband, Jeff, if she was sleeping.

“There was no pain,” she said. “I felt a bit of pressure, and the baby was out. There was only a little tear that required one stitch.”

Still, Dr. Camann and other doctors warned mothers against rigidly adhering to any single alternative.

Ideally HypnoBirthing allows a woman to remain so relaxed through contractions that there is no screaming to tire the mother or alarm the baby, and labor is shorter.

It doesn’t work for everyone: Jennifer Richards, 29, said she gained self-confidence from hypnobirth methods, but had an epidural because of the intense back pain during her 30-hour labor.

“I used some of the things I learned,” she said, “but not as many as I would have liked.”

In contrast, Ms. Yeiser of Asheville, whose baby was born after only two and a half hours of labor, said, “I was so relaxed that I slept through the first stage of labor.”

That’s what Marie F. Mongan was seeking when she set up HypnoBirthing after her first two deliveries, the first in 1954, when women were routinely strapped down and given ether, and their legs tied to stirrups.

The first birth using her program, which is based on her training in hypnosis, was that of her grandson, Kyle, in 1990.

The number of those taking HypnoBirthing’s four-day instructors’ course has doubled in recent years and has increasingly included nurses, she said. Her 1992 book, “HypnoBirthing, the Mongan Method” (Health Communications) is in its third printing.

Her HypnoBirthing Institute, outside Concord, N.H., is just starting to keep statistics on how many women deliver using her techniques, something hard to measure because women who take the classes may later find that a medical necessity calls for drugs. The course is usually a series of five classes, which in Bethesda cost $200.

Ms. Mongan said natural childbirth has been derailed by medical intervention. When Queen Victoria insisted on chloroform during the deliveries of her nine children, she set the precedent for ceding control of birthing to doctors, Ms. Mongan writes in her book.

While many hospitals now permit hypnobirth, doctors are wary because they fear litigation. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists leaves it up to the individual doctor’s judgment.

Such techniques are not a surefire way to avoid pain, but rather “adjuncts and not the end-all to birth,” said Dr. Jeffrey M. Segil, an obstetrician who offers the HypnoBirthing option to every patient in his practice in Dover, N.H.

“Women should not be set up to feel that they’ve failed if they can’t follow through to a totally natural delivery,” he said.

Excited about my new cookbooks

I’ve felt like I’ve been stuck in a rut lately as far as cooking is concerned. Sure, I come up with a few new interesting things to make here and there, but it takes time and thought, both of which I don’t feel like I have a lot of lately. I feel like I need more direction. While it’s fun for me to invent new recipes, lately I’d rather just flip open a book, find something with the ingredients I have, and go at it. Which is why I’m so excited about two new cookbooks I recently ordered off Amazon. :)

The first is “Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home: Fast and Easy Recipes for Any Day” which I found used for $5.72. Here’s a bit about it:

“The Moosewood Collective has had big vegetarian cookbook success with other collections. The main aim of this addition to their list is to offer much-needed help to those who need recipes for speedy preparation. Most take less than 30 minutes preparation. Recipes include stir-fries, salads, sandwiches, bean dips, soups, scones, pancakes and desserts. Almost all are vegan, with dairy products offered only as optional extras, though there is a separate section on fish and eggs. Winner of the 1995 James Beard Award for vegetarian cookbooks.”

It comes widely reviewed and recommended and I’ve heard only good things about the Moosewood collection as a whole. I’m especially interested in the recipes that don’t take long to prepare. ;)

The second book I got is “The Vegetarian Mother’s Cookbook: Whole Foods To Nourish Pregnant And Breastfeeding Women – And Their Families” which I found used for $14.24. This book comes highly recommended as well. A bit about it:

“The Vegetarian Mother’s Cookbook is a cookbook especially designed to nourish vegetarian pregnant and lactating women, though the delicious meals are also excellent for serving one’s whole family. Over 300 vegetarian and vegan recipes with nutrient analysis (vitamins and minerals as well as proteins, carbohydrates, fats, fiber, and sodim) along with vegan recipes, “quick fix” meals and freezable entrees, wheat-free, soy-free, dairy-free, and egg-free options,” and more.

The reviews all seem to indicate that this cookbook will be very useful to the whole family beyond pregnancy and lactation and I’m looking forward to it.

I already checked the mail today and no books yet, but hopefully they will be here by the weekend so I can check them out and get cookin’. :)

Feeling a bit frustrated – Ava food stuff

I’m very pleased that we’ve been eating vegetarian meals around here for the past week without a problem. I’ve found several new recipes to try and have been enjoying eating new, delicious foods. (Will post some recipes I’ve tried recently soon.)

The problem is, Ava is not as excited about all of mommy’s new recipes as mommy is. ;)

I don’t think being vegetarian is bothering her – the only meat she was fond of in the past anyway was fish. The problem is, I think, the dishes I am making are too “exotic,” for lack of a better word, for her.

Here I am all excited that I’m making these tasty and very nutritious meals, but she doesn’t want anything to do with them. (Although she does like hummus and that’s something.) So I’m banging my head on the wall.

I don’t want to become a short-order cook. I’d like her to eat what the rest of the family eats. However, I do realize some foods might just be too spicy for her (even though I don’t get too crazy with the spices because I’m a wimp myself when it comes to spicy foods).

So I guess I’m now on the lookout for vegetarian recipes that are more kid-friendly so that she can enjoy our meals too.

Part of this might be due to the fact that many toddlers get picky about their eating habits regardless of if they are carnivorous or not. It’s hard to say. Even before this began, she would have her days of not wanting to eat much of anything.

I have made some Morningstar Farms® Chik’n Nuggets for her and she liked those, but with drinking some soy milk (also rice milk) and having tofu and tempeh in meals, I start to worry about how much soy is too much. I’ve also made her organic mac and cheese with pumpkin mixed in. She does ok with that. Her favorite food – that she would eat any time of the day or night if granted permission – is cheese (string cheese, slices of cheese, whatever) but mama is trying to cut back a bit on that.

I got the book “Raising Vegetarian Children : A Guide to Good Health and Family Harmony” in the mail today and need to give it a look. I think there are supposed to be recipes in there and I’m sure there will be other information to calm me a bit.

I’m probably worrying unneccessarily. I’ve been known to do this in the past when she didn’t want to eat. It seems as soon as I vent about it somewhere, she gets back to normal, so here’s hoping that’s the case now as well. ;)

Thanks for listening. And if you have any links to kid-friendly veggie recipes, I’d love them. :)

Excited for writing opps

I was looking at my blog yesterday and decided to click on the next blog in the “blogging mommies” sequence I have at the bottom of this page. Up popped Ann Douglas’s blog – The Mother of All Blogs. For those not familiar with her, she’s the author of “The mother of all baby books,” “The mother of all pregnancy books” and many others.
Well, she’s currently working on two new books – one on sleep solutions and one on food solutions – and is in need of parents to interview for both books. I e-mailed her that I was interested in participating in the sleep solutions book and she wrote me back and said it would be great to have me participate and that she thinks I will have a lot of insight to share, etc. :) She’s sending out the first set of questions in mid-May.
I’m really excited to be a part of the study. :) Oh, and I’ll also get a free copy of the book for my participation. Nice. :)

Another writing opportunity I had was to write a paragraph on my birth experience – specifically feelings involved on becoming a new mother – for a book that’s being published to help reassure first-time moms, reduce her fears and help her look forward to a wonderful birth experience.
Here’s what I wrote:

It may sound cliché to say there’s no greater joy than
having a baby, but for me that is absolutely true.As my husband Jody placed our first-born child – a
daughter named Ava (meaning “life”) – onto my chest, I
was overcome with emotion. At long last, here was our
baby! Having had a difficult time getting pregnant, I
dreamt about the day of my child’s birth for a long
time. Though nothing could have prepared me for the
events of that day, the first moment I held her and
gazed onto her beautiful face, everything was right in
the world. Ava was perfection. When she began rooting
around and nursed me for the first time, I felt like
the circle of life had been completed. She looked up
at me with her big dark brown eyes and I felt so
blessed to have her in my life. Yes, Ava had arrived
here on earth and I – finally a mother – was in

I’m also considering writing an essay for the “This I Believe” essay project that NPR is doing. I still need to read more about it, but a friend sent me the link and encouraged me to write something, so we’ll see. I think it would be very cool to do, especially if they used my essay on the radio.

So that’s a little of what I’ve been up to lately. I’m excited to find some ways to share my thoughts and experiences with others.

And here’s my quote for today, which I rather like quite a bit.
“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”
— Ray Bradbury

AP-friendly comic strip

I came across this comic strip Greystone Inn the other day. There are several storylines, but one involves a couple that practices Attachment Parenting with their newborn son. The author explores such topics as natural childbirth using a midwife, breastfeeding and co-sleeping.

I wrote to the author – Brad Guigar – to let him know how excited I was to learn of his comic strip and to find out if he’s published in any newspapers (as I’d never heard of it before I saw a link on a message board). He said he’s only in a couple newspapers – one being the Philadelphia Daily News and then a few college newspapers, but recommended I write to the editor of my local one if I wanted to see it published here. I told him about my connections with the paper (that I used to work there) and said I’d drop them an email to see if they’d be interested in picking it up. I wrote to two of the guys there – one of whom I know is pro-AP – so we’ll see if anything comes from that. I also wrote to some people at the Boulder newspaper, since this comic strip seems right up their alley.

This one in particular really hit home for me because there were many nights that Jody would come to bed after Ava and I and he’d stand there watching over both of us to make sure we were still breathing. Thankfully he never rattled the bed, like the character did (and the author admits to doing to his son ;) ), but I thought it was cute. I’m sure many dads can identify with that.

I’d love to see AP get more recognition as an acceptable way to raise children. Maybe this comic strip can help do that. :)