Archive for the ‘ Must Read ’ Category

Giving in to Pregnancy Cravings, One Gummy Bear at a Time

Monday, October 17th, 2011

My first pregnancy, it was sausages. Which was not only uncomfortably literal, but kind of gross to a recovering vegetarian like me. But the pregnant lady wants what the pregnant lady wants, so we made regular runs to the local butcher, the nearest Chicago dog place and our favorite German restaurant. But that wasn’t all. I craved milk, especially warm, with honey, as well as sweets of all kinds. Normally, I’m not a sweets person, but suddenly I got twitchy when the house wasn’t stocked in gummy bears and mochi ice cream.

This time around, I’m having a hard time with meat in general, yet the sweets cravings are back full-force. For awhile it was Dilly bars, then snack-sized Salted Nut Rolls, and now, I’m into pastries in general. And I absolutely must end the day with a large bowl of Raisin Bran. It’s just how it is.

Did you see the new study published in Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine that says that a healthy diet, both before you get pregnant and while you are, reduces your child’s risk of neural tube defects? Some are interpreting this to mean that giving into pregnancy cravings is bad.

While I’m not going to sit here and say that upping my sugar or sausage intake is a good thing, or that it doesn’t make me sometimes feel a tad guilty, I certainly don’t believe that it’s endangering my child. Even those early days, especially in my first pregnancy, when I was so sick that I survived on cereal, Saltines and ginger ale, making it out of the first trimester five pounds lighter than I entered it, I was doing what I could. I always managed to keep my prenatal vitamin down, and continue to do so. I eat lots of fruits and veggies and maintain a pretty well-rounded diet, and I try and listen to what my body needs. Sometimes, it needs cheese enchiladas. Other times, it’s a massive bowl of broccoli. More often than not, it’s pear-ginger streusel and a cup of decaf Earl Grey with plenty of milk.

To me, the study confirms it’s right to eat healthy—which of course you should do before you’re pregnant, while you’re pregnant and after you’re pregnant, right?—not that any non-broccoli indulgence means your child will suffer terribly. That interpretation seems not only alarmist but actually kind of mean. We preggo ladies put enough pressure on ourselves. No need to unnecessarily heap it on. Please, let’s just listen to Suzan Carmichael, an associate professor at Stanford University’s Child Health Research Institute who worked on the study, according to Reuters Health:

“The bottom line for women who are pregnant or may get pregnant, she told Reuters Health, is to “eat a variety of foods, including a lot of fruits and vegetables and grains in your diet, and take a vitamin supplement that contains folic acid.”

I say indulge in those pregnancy cravings. They certainly can be all-consuming, can’t they? So strange, to be going about your day and then suddenly, out of nowhere, the urge for a donut is so strong you literally can’t focus on conversations or emails or, you know, anything that doesn’t involve sprinkles. Just make sure you’re indulging in plenty of healthy foods and that prenatal vitamin as well.

Ok, now I need a handful of peanuts and candy corn. Pregnant or not, I really hope you’ve experienced this magnificent combo. It’s like a DIY free-form Salted Nut Roll. Do it.

Gummy bear image credit: Flickr user DOH4

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Baby Boy’s Long, Flowing Locks: Gone

Monday, October 10th, 2011

toddler boy haircutWe decided it was time. It wasn’t so much that the pronoun “she” was used one too many times—though it was—but poor Roy was having a hard time seeing. For a while, his hair tucked neatly behind his ears, but not so anymore. You could try, but it would stubbornly spring back to its preferred position, hanging straight down the middle of his forehead. Finally, we gave in to the unavoidable no-fail solution: A haircut.

We took him to a barber. A real, honest-to-goodness barber, the kind with a red, white and blue pole outside, muscle car magazines littering the waiting area, and westerns playing on the giant old TV in the corner. We found this gem, Nate’s, in the small town where Papa and Grandma live. The pro wielding the scissors was not named Nate and seemed a little, well, young for the ambiance, but when I heard him tell the white-haired gentleman occupying the chair as we waited that, “Nowadays, you see guys more dressed up walking into the bar than walking into church,” my worries about his qualifications faded. With lines like that rolling off his tongue, clearly the guy had been at this awhile.

When it was Roy’s turn, Barber Scott whipped out a wooden board, on hand to set on top of the chair’s arms for just such an occasion. Little guy wasn’t too fond of the giant blue cape and immediately asked to see his shoes, to ensure they still existed under there, I suppose. Clint kept him stocked in crackers, while Grandma Nancy and I took photos paparazzi-style. In the end there were zero tears, as well as minimal whining and lots and lots of fine blonde hair shed.

Behold, before:

And after:

For a day or so, I kept forgetting about the cut, so his short hair was a surprise every time I saw him. Who was this child in front of me in my little baby’s clothes? Time to face facts. It’s my big boy. Luckily, he’s just as snuggleable as the long-haired baby version I’d grown accustomed to.

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Placenta Pills: Might Presentation Change Your Mind?

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

Last week, my awesome doula, Dawn, posted this on Facebook:

“Yes, I turn placentas into capsules for new moms. It’s not as crazy as it sounds, moms feel sooo much better! They have less fatigue, postpartum depression, increased milk supply and many more wonderful results.”


When that spate of placenta-eating stories hit a few weeks back, I admit: I couldn’t get past the pictures. I didn’t care what the touted “benefits” were, no way was I even considering eating anything that looked like that. I didn’t read one word.

Then Dawn, whom I trust completely, brings up the subject. And look at that photo. Nice, neat little pills! Surrounded by pink flowers! Oh so pleasantly palatable. OK, I thought. Let’s talk.

I opened my mind and dug into the topic a bit. My main questions:

1) Seriously. Why?

Answer: Apparently one of the main benefit claims is that it helps cure postpartum depression connected to a drop in hormone levels. (When the placenta is inside you, it supplies you with those hormones, like Oxytocin, which disappear abruptly when it does.) Other purported benefits include more energy and increased milk supply, as Dawn outlined above, and decreased postpartum hemorrhaging and pain.

2) Have people been doing this for centuries? Meaning, is it one of those “natural” things that industrialized society hastily dropped?

Answer: No. Other cultures do revere it, though. After all, your body produced the placenta, its very own temporary organ, solely to nourish your developing child. It’s often given a ceremony and proper burial. Most other land mammals, however, do practice placentophagy, as it’s called, possibly to evade predators by destroying this evidence of birth. To paraphrase KJ Antonia at, most other mammals also eat their own poo. Folks don’t seem too eager to jump on that bandwagon.

3) How does one turn a placenta into pills?

Answer: Well, Dawn rinses, steams, dehydrates then grinds the placenta, in your home or hers. She then puts the powder into those neat little capsules, then puts the capsules into a tidy bottle, labeled with instructions. Her charge: A very reasonable, in my book, $125 (Gerbera daisies not included).

4) C’mon. Does it really work?

Answer: There doesn’t seem to be any medical proof that it does. On the other hand, plenty of mamas who’ve done it and doulas like Dawn swear by its benefits.

My conclusion? If I were at risk for postpartum depression, I would do it in a heartbeat. No doubt. And I do see why others who are not at risk might as well. To each her own. But as it stands, at this very moment, I think I’ll skip the placentophagy, even in pill form. Maybe I’ll bury it instead? Or not. I’m giving birth in the dead of winter, and I’m not sure how respectful it’d be to wedge a life-sustaining organ between the Tombstones and frozen peas for a few months.


Image courtesy

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Family Photo Session: Take Two

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

A couple of months ago, we had our first real family photo session. We’re not going to count that initial attempt, at a Target Portrait Studio. I don’t know if it was the pressure of the brief time allotment, the airbrushed background choices or the idea of creating a family milestone in the same place where I buy 24-packs of toilet paper, but even as we arrived for our appointment, I had a nagging feeling that this situation would not be a fit for us. You’d think that by the age of almost-40 I’d know to always, always pay attention to that nagging feeling.

The photographer was late, cutting into our 10-minute session. Not good when the goal is to make two unphotogenic adults and one teething toddler look good at the same time. She was crabby, too. Not ideal in any photo session, especially one involving kids. Lady took all of five family photos. Five.

At Target, directly after your session, they hand you off to a salesperson who shows you the photos on a little kiosk screen, then places your order that very moment. Sure, you can choose to think about it for a day, or even a few hours, but then the price will go up by a zillion percent. I’m certain the idea is that the pressure will cause you to order a shitload of photos because they are so inexpensive, comparatively, and also so. Darn. Cute.

This tactic did not work in our situation because in four out of the precious five photos, Clint looked greasy, heavy-lidded and slightly lecherous. Like Roy and I had spotted his late-model windowless van tailing us and decided, what the hell? Let’s see if that dude wants to join our little photo party!

So as Clint’s chasing Roy around, I’m settling into the photo pitch, and of course a little laugh sneaks out the moment this very sweet, upbeat salesperson pulls up the first family photo. It’s quite obvious why I am laughing, so she quickly moves on to the second, which happens to be worse than the first. And by “worse,” of course I mean “better at being awesomely terrible.” My little laugh blossoms. So she tries a third, which leaves me doubled over, tears streaming down my face, legs crossed to keep from peeing. “He just looks so creepy!” I muster. “Like some greasy, lurking stranger!”

You know what Sweet Salesperson did then? She suppressed her own little laugh and agreed with me. It was that bad.

I called over poor Clint—my truly handsome and totally not-sleazy husband—and he just rolled his eyes, clearly not expecting anything better. We left without placing an order. Part of me wishes we had. For the record, if I were the one with the serious case of photo-creepies, I likely would have.

Then, in a happy twist of fate, a fabulous photographer that my friends have used advertised a package special on Facebook. We jumped on it, and some of the results of our outdoor session with Yeng Lor are what you see above and after the break below.


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Going Public with Pregnancy

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

newborn baby feetI’ve got news I’ve been wanting to share with you for a while: I’m knocked up! Expecting. In a family way. Call it what you will, I’ve been busy gestating for over 14 weeks now. The due date is January 29th, just three days after Roy’s second birthday. I probably don’t even need to add that Clint and I are both absolutely thrilled.

We’ve been telling friends and family over the past week, so I will now anticipate and answer your first question: I’ve been feeling monumentally crappy, thanks for asking. More on that later. I’ll keep this focused on the positive, good news. Baby!

I’ve been scared to embrace this pregnancy, not allowing myself to plan or get excited or really even think about it that much. Even when we went in to the doctor’s office at 9 weeks and he picked up the heartbeat with the doppler. Even when he told me what a great sign it was to hear that little thump-thump so early, making my chances of miscarriage very, very low. I was hesitant.

When we went in for an ultrasound at 12 weeks, I prayed that little heart would still be beating. And it was. We told our amazing tech, Koua, whom we also had for my first pregnancy, that if he could tell the sex, we’d like to know. Early, I know, but Koua is an ultrasound guru of sorts; a superstar who also teaches the art/skill. Mere moments later, he paused the wand, locking in a steady, real-time full-body side shot. Wee arms and legs wriggled about. It was surreal. That was happening inside me right at that moment. I was breathless. Transfixed. Then Koua said: “There’s your little baby girl.”

Those five words released three months’ worth of bottled-up reality. I started bawling, and I couldn’t stop. The sobbing continued through the drive home, during which Clint finally asked, “You’re happy, right?” Through tears, I nodded vigorously. Only now, nearly two weeks later, am I able to relay the news without losing it again. Well, sometimes.

Honestly? I’m still worried. That probably won’t end until the baby—she!—is here. Ah, who am I kidding? I already have one kid, so I’m beginning to realize it’s never going to end.

And I couldn’t be happier.

Image © Nevit Dilmen

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