Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
My Pain is Not Your Pain
Reading the new book Birth Day by the ironically-named Dr. Mark Sloan (“Paging Dr. McSteamy from Gray’s Anatomy”), I was fascinated by the chapter on the history of the epidural and pain relief in child birth. The descriptions of old-timey remedies for labor pain were shocking. I can just picture one of my beleaguered ancestors screaming at her midwife 200 hundred years ago, “Where’s the damn viper fat!!!? I can’t take it anymore!”
We just finished reading the book for Silicon Valley Moms Book Club. Birth Day brought back my own vivid memories of childbirth and the judgment made by a complete stranger about my choices. As I learned, the last 400 years or so are full of episodes where men decided whether or not women should experience the full pain of childbirth or be knocked unconscious for it.
When I was pregnant with Rainman and living in New York, I experienced my first taste of Pregnancy Rage. The husband of a woman in my birthing class raised his hand to speak during our group discussion. “I don’t understand why any woman would not want drugs during labor”, he said belligerently. Why was he voicing an opinion on what other women (besides his heavily face-lifted second wife) chose to do about pain management? I had just told the group that I was doing Hypno-Birthing and hoped for a calm and drug-free delivery (I know, I know. Famous last words). Another woman had just admitted that she did not want drugs during labor because she had experienced some bad reactions to prescriptions painkillers. And that’s when Mr. Buttinsky decided to add his two cents.
Our nurse handled it beautifully, saying she thought that women who delivered without drugs were courageous, and that some women preferred avoiding the side effects for them and their babies. She made it clear that this was a big decision and described some of the pros and cons.
New research shows that redheads feel pain more strongly than others and require on average 20% more anesthetic than other-heads to block pain in dental procedures. My daughter, Red, may have to deal with this throughout her life. Mercifully, she will have choices when it comes to her own pain management if she has children, and I assume viper fat will not be one of them. I will do my best to prepare her for the waves of agonizing pain I experienced when my Pitocin-induced contractions began. I’ll also tell her what a blessing the epidural was for me and what a relief it was when the doctors told me we had to stop laboring and have a C-Section to get my giant 10-lb baby out.
I’ve decided to save my copy of Birth Day for Red because of its enlightening explanation of how difficult it is for our too-big human babies to pass through our too-small birth canals. I only wish I had read it before I had children. Reading the clinical description of a C-Section would have eased my fears about the surgery and put it all in context. Although there are many risks and a Cesarian is no walk in the park, the one thing I’m sure of is that it was right for me. After all, my pain is not your pain and my labor is not your labor.
Friday, July 31, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
"Mama, I don't want to listen to any boring talks!" proclaimed my five-year old, Rainman. "Mama, where's da popcorn?" asked my two year old, Red. Welcome to Saturday morning and my kids getting antsy just before Bill Nye the Science Guy gave his presentation at San Jose's Tech Museum of Innovation.
Wrangling a two and five-year old by myself at a museum was not exactly what I had in mind for Saturday. This was supposed to be a family outing with Daddy solidly at the center of our group. Instead, he stayed home -- sidelined by the one-two punch of strep throat and pinkeye.
After a week of Daddy being ill while my mother-in-law visited us from Canada and my own Dad's chronic illness took a turn for the worse, I was desperate for an outing. So I packed up the kids, remembered to pack some Goldfish to quell any whining or hunger pangs, and off we went. Despite the rocky start ("No, there's no popcorn here. It's not a movie." and "Don't worry, it will be fun!"), the kids and I loved our day.
This was an event for SVMoms sponsored by a company that makes a green cleaning product called the ActiveIon Pro. The real lure for me was not the swag bag with science-y gifts for my kids and my own $300 water-based cleaning system (though that turned out to be an AMAZING perk), but the chance to see Bill Nye, the Science Guy. He was witty, smart and lively and managed to make all the science concepts he taught us about soap, fluid dynamics and how to make rings of air "poof" out of a modified garbage can fun. Rainman laughed at all of Nye's jokes and probably didn't get much of the science. Red sat on my lap and had a successful potty-training session at the museum (yay!).
An unexpected highlight of the day turned out to be exploring the Tech Museum. I had only been there to see IMAX films and didn't realize how many interesting interactive exhibits they have. I would never have thought to take my preschoolers there (alone! while pottytraining!) but they had a ball and would have stayed all day.
I walked away from the outing with three great takeaway lessons:
1. Taking the kids on excursions by myself on a Saturday is not nearly as lonely or difficult when you have all your blogging friends there to play with.
2. We should rent Bill Nye the Science Guy DVD's so my kids can continue learning and thinking science is fun.
3. Giving my five-year old our new ActiveIon Pro and turning him loose to spray and wipe all the hard surfaces in our house (with magically electrified water and no cleaning chemicals) is his idea of a rocking good time. And any free child labor I can get to clean my house is just the icing on the cake!
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
As a busy Mom and a Northern California gal who just can’t be bothered with a lot of make-up and hassle about my appearance, I feel like I have a pretty sensible attitude about my looks. But then I remember the teenage years and my early twenties. That was a time of extreme insecurity about looks as well as an unhealthy focus on my weight and my appearance. I wonder if there is any way to help my own daughter (and even my son) avoid the pitfalls I fell into in those years? Or is this something all adolescents and young adults have to go through?
Reading the book “It Started with Poptarts” by Lori Hanson (for the SVMoms Book Club) was a dark detour into the mind of a bulemic, albeit a recovered one. Some of the passages where she wrote about bingeing on junk food and then falling into a cycle of regretting it and berating herself afterward brought back painful memories of my own struggles. If I close my eyes, I can remember exactly how it felt to notice my body changing as a teen. It seems as though it only took a few months to morph from a long skinny beanpole who could eat anything she wanted to an overly sensitive 16-year old who frantically dieted on baked potatoes and cottage cheese to fit into my Size 4 prom dress.
Lori Hanson’s solution to her bulimia and alcoholism lay in self-help books, tapes, exercise regimes and a full range of alternative medical programs, healing massage therapy, unusual diets, and the like. My own struggles with weight and body image somehow sorted themselves out over time without any major interventions. My problems were not extreme, and for that I am grateful.
But the Mom in me wonders if there’s a way to pass on healthy notions about fitness, physique and diet to my kids and spare them the agony of yo-yo dieting and mental recriminations for gaining a few pounds here and there? So far, the best I can come up with is to encourage my kids to be as active as possible and to take an interest in sports. And maybe one of these days, I’ll even stop glancing in the mirror before I leave the house.
Monday, February 16, 2009
The 4 grandparents who live in Canada come to visit once or twice a year. When they're here, I downshift into low gear and live life at about half my usual speed. At first, it's a hard adjustment. I find myself flying through the house practically knocking them down in my rush to get somewhere. I have to stop myself from yelling, "Come on, we've got to go! My hair's on fire!" Once I get used to it though, we all coast along in the slow lane together and just relax.
Some days, we do a whole lot of nothing. Other days, we rouse them out of bed and make them go on long family excursions. But when we're on those excursions, we eat leisurely lunches, stop for coffee, take lots of pictures and never hurry. When we're at home, I'm amazed (and sometimes jealous) by their ability to sit still, read the paper, sip a glass of wine and shoot the breeze.
My frame of reference is all wrong at first too. When Grandpa says "I had my eyes done", I think: "Wow -- laser eye surgery!" Then I realize he means cataracts. When we decide to go for a walk before picking the kids up at school, I realize the GP's don't want to walk at my "Let's-burn-as-many-calories-as-we-can" pace and that I need to re-think how many things we can cram in before the next thing on our schedule.
All of the grandparents in our lives are GREAT with the kids, and I feel truly blessed when I see how much they love each other. They're also very patient with me and have learned to try to get out of my way when my hair is on fire. And I've learned to ratchet things down -- at least for a little while -- and just enjoy life in the slow lane.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
So what will happen to my $25? We'll be getting email updates about the women we helped fund. Once they repay their loan (C'mon ladies! I'm pulling for you!), we can lend our money to another entrepreneur that we find on kiva's site.
I need to give a shout-out to my neighbor Paul Hoekstra, whose birthday we're celebrating today. It was his idea to make a micro-loan in lieu of a gift. Way to go Paul! This donation was in your honor and it is getting credited to "Team Europe" on kiva.
I can feel myself getting carried away with this one already. The kiva site is addictive -- reading about entrepreneurs all over the world who just need a little bit of money so they can grow their small businesses and prosper. If I do get dangerously hooked on Kiva, at least the only thing that will suffer is my bank account. There's an addiction we can probably live with.
Monday, January 26, 2009
I just finished reading the fictional novel "Who by Fire" for the my bloggers book club with SVMoms. I had a hard time putting it down and stayed up way past my bedtime for more nights than I should have. The book has complicated, sarcastic, funny-yet-empathetic characters and a brisk plot. It also touches on themes that strike a chord with me right now: religion, loss, parenting, sexuality, and growing up. It made me ask myself a lot of questions like how would we cope with the loss of a child? What if our little girl got into a stranger's car one day and we never saw her again? What is an appropriate role for religion in our lives? When does fervent religious belief cross the line and become a cult?
Interestingly, the story begins about fifteen years after the tragic kidnapping of the family's youngest daughter. So the horror of that day, and of the months and years that immediately followed are not seen by the reader but they are felt. They have scarred the family members in ways that surprised me. If I think about what would become of me if my own child was kidnapped, I draw a blank. I see a void. I can't begin to imagine how I would carry on or how it would scar, deform or ruin the lives of the rest of my family.
In the book, Ash, the older brother, ends up becoming a devout Jew and joining a Yeshiva in Israel. His sister, Bits, loses herself in risky sex with strangers. The parents divorce. The book moves back and forth between Israel and the United States as well as between the web of relations between the characters, who seem at first to have grown surprisingly distant from each other as they cope in their own unhealthy ways with their loss.
Reading this book reminded me of some important lessons that I seem to learn, and learn and then learn again in my own life. Not to judge. Not to be complacent or take relationships for granted. Get help when you need it. Find the balance between vigilance with your kids and letting them grow up and away from you. In the end, I got a lot more out of this book than mere bedtime reading.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
A friend and her sister told me about their new plan to get in shape and lose the last blobs of baby weight. It's called "From Couch Potato to 5K". It's a beginner's training program that has you walk and jog in slow intervals and takes you from doing no exercise to being able to run 3 miles in about 2 months. You can find it on coolrunning.com, but even better, you can download a podcast of it on ITunes. I somehow got my better half to agree to try this with me. Luckily, he did the hard technical stuff, like unearthing our Ipod, charging it up again and downloading the Podcasts. A warning to those of you hitting the gym again after a long break: It turns out the Ipod Shuffle is not machine washable! Left mine clipped to my gym clothes and it came out of my washing machine looking shiny, new and totally broken.
The great thing about doing a training program with a podcast playing in your ears is how little you have to think or even wear a watch. Needing a watch to time my workout intervals is tricky since I can never find it. The digital running watch I've had for years recently became part of Boy Wonder's superhero costumes. Ever since he began strapping it onto his wrist to talk to Commission Gordon, I can't find it.
I turn on the Ipod and there's Robert, my mellow 43-year old friend who decided to take up running again on his birthday. Go Robert! He has selected all sorts of dubious techno music snippets that he plays for the right length of time while I run. He usually ends the running intervals with little encouraging words about how great I'm doing. Really? I am? All right then. This all may sound cheezy and simplistic, but you won't know until you try it. It's refreshingly mindless to have someone talking you through a workout, and it even saves me from my own bad workout music mixes. An example: I ended up running Wharf to Wharf alternating between Madonna and the 8 Mile soundtrack.
Time will tell if I can stick to this program. But for ease of use and the slow build-up from lazybones to running wonder, it's hard to beat the couch potato to 5K plan.