Saturday, December 31, 2011

A simple Christmas?

I follow a few design blogs (Little Green Notebook and more recently Centsational Girl, after I found her board and batten tutorial). I saw CG's home tour a few weeks ago and laughed at how she described her holiday decorating:
I’m keeping it simple, my decor this year is mostly garland for scent, poinsettias scattered here and there, ornaments in various vessels, and always branches ~ simple touches since I want to spend most of the next week enjoying the twinkle lights, the baked goodies, the traditions, and our family.
Beautiful and magazine-worthy? Yes. Simple? No. 

My definition of simple Christmas decorating goes like this:
1. Buy a tree (but only on years when we'll be at home for Christmas)
2. Decorate the tree with hand-me-down ornaments from my own childhood. Nothing matches and I love it that way. 
3. Put up a nativity set and felted wool stockings for the kids
4. Done!
Now I don't think there's anything wrong with elaborate holiday decorating. But there's also no need for false modesty. If you do something that you're proud of, own it. It won't spoil the effect if you are upfront about how much effort it really took.

While my decorating is definitely simple, my family's style of get-togethers is definitely not. We hosted my entire immediate family. With 17 people staying in our house and 19 people total, it was chaotic (in a good way) and busy and productive. We ate amazing food, spent lots of time reading and talking and playing games, and worked on several projects. My dad made wooden marble runs for the grandkids and helped me with several electrical/wiring projects. Pictures coming once I get around to it!

I'll end 2011 with a picture taken on Christmas day after church and before we opened presents.
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Friday, December 23, 2011

Birthingown giveaway winner...

is the commenter known as "University of Utah Student Midwives"!

I need you to contact me ASAP with your mailing address. If I don't hear from you, I'll select a new winner on Monday.
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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Birthingown Giveaway!

When I was at the Lamaze conference this fall, I met the creators of the Birthingown. Finally, a maternity gown that's as beautiful as it is functional! Designed by a L&D nurse, this dress makes the laboring woman feel beautiful and works with any kind of birth--from active & unmedicated to high-intervention.

The Birthingown is an Empire-waist wraparound dress in a soft, curve-hugging rayon/lycra jersey. It crosses over in the back, rather than the front, allowing for anesthesia access without requiring the woman to disrobe. Unlike typical hospital gowns, which don't even come close to covering a woman's backside--especially when she's walking and swaying--the Birthingown's generous knee-length wraparound design keeps everything fully covered. Each shoulder flap opens to allow easy access for skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding, as well as IV/BP lines. The top of the gown is fully lined.

Just imagine if you arrived at L&D and the nurse greeted you with your choice of Birthingown, rather than those frumpy hospital gowns!

coco & pink Birthingown

Where to buy:
Birthingowns are sold at several brick-and-mortar stores around the US and Canada. Online vendors include BellaBlu Maternity and Stella Maternity. 

Cost: retails around $65. Deep discounts available for bulk orders. Custom fabric colors available. Please inquire for details.

Now for the fun part...

I am thrilled to offer this coco & blue Birthingown to a lucky winner! If you're an expecting mom, you get an extra chance to enter the giveaway. You can also earn an extra entry by creating a funny caption for the hospital gown photo below.

 Giveaway rules:
  • To enter, visit the Birthingown website and leave a comment about what you like best about the gown
  • Open to US or Canada residents
  • Expecting moms get an extra entry--leave another comment, please
  • Contest ends at sundown on Winter Solstice (aka 5 pm EST on December 22nd)
  • Extra entry to anyone who submits a caption for this photo and makes me laugh out loud:
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Monday, December 12, 2011

Robin Lim named CNN Hero of the Year

Robin Lim, a midwife in Indonesia, was just named the CNN Hero of the Year! She was well-known among many midwives in Iowa (where I did my PhD work), where she practiced before moving to Bali. Here are some excerpts:
Robin Lim, an American woman who has helped thousands of poor Indonesian women have a healthy pregnancy and birth, was named the 2011 CNN Hero of the Year on Sunday night.

Through her Yayasan Bumi Sehat health clinics, "Mother Robin," or "Ibu Robin" as she is called by the locals, offers free prenatal care, birthing services and medical aid in Indonesia, where many families cannot afford care.

"Every baby's first breath on Earth could be one of peace and love. Every mother should be healthy and strong. Every birth could be safe and loving. But our world is not there yet," Lim said during "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute," which took place at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles and recognized Lim and the other top 10 CNN Heroes of 2011....

[Christy] Turlington Burns introduced Lim's video tribute during Sunday's show, before the Hero of the Year announcement. As founder of Every Mother Counts, she is also a passionate advocate for maternal health around the world.

"Eight years ago, after giving birth to my first child Grace, I felt what could have been a life-threatening complication," she told the audience of nearly 5,000. "It suddenly got very scary, very fast. If I hadn't received the expert care in the hospital birthing center I was in, then I may have not been so fortunate.

"My wish is that every mother all over the world has the same chance surviving childbirth I had. My friend Robin Lim shares that wish and she spends her days and nights making it so."
Read the rest here.

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

It was just a dream

Last night at 1am Zari burst out of her room yelling at the top of her lungs. Think 5-year-old girl imitating Braveheart. She yelled all the way down the hall and ran into our room. Once Eric got her calmed down enough to talk, this is what came out:

"Papa, papa, il y a un oiseau dans ma chambre!" Dad, dad, there's a bird in my room!

Of course we knew that was totally silly and that she'd had a nightmare. Eric assured her,

"Je crois pas qu'il y a un oiseau dans ta chambre. C'etait un cauchemar. Viens, je vais voir." I doubt there is a bird in your room. You just had a nightmare. Come, I'll take a look.

He found a bat flying around in her room.

This called for my superior bat-catching abilities; I've caught at least 6 bats in the past few years. Here's how you catch a bat:
1. Get a medium-sized bath towel.
2. Close the doors to the room if possible.
3. Swat at the bat every time it flies by you. Bats tend to fly in circles when they're trapped indoors, so it's pretty easy to swat them down. You have to really snap the towel quickly. Once it falls to the floor, throw the towel over the bat and gently pick it up.
4. Release outdoors.
Eric settled Zari down, then came back to bed. About a half hour later, he woke up convinced that there was a bat in our bed. (He does this fairly regularly. Over the years I've had to fend off attacks when he thought some creature was on top of me and assure him that no, there really wasn't a giant lobster-sized centipede trying to attack me.)

I told him, "There's not a bat in the bed. You're just having a dream." I used my best mother-telling-her-child-she-had-a-nightmare voice.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes. It was just a dream. Go to bed."
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Friday, December 09, 2011

White Paper on Cesarean Deliveries & Opportunities for Improvement‏

The California Maternal Quality Care Collaorative (CMQCC) has just released a White Paper: Cesarean Deliveries, Outcomes, and Opportunities for Change in California: Toward a Public Agenda for Maternity Care Safety and Quality. More information below:

For immediate release
December 8, 2011

In California, surgical delivery of babies, also known as cesarean delivery, has jumped 50% over the last decade with no demonstrated improvement in outcomes over normal vaginal childbirth, according to a new study released today.

Cesarean deliveries now account for 32% of births in California, raising the potential for increased rates of surgical complications, infections, risks in future pregnancies, and much higher costs to patients and society, the report said.

While cesarean deliveries are often performed for medically necessary reasons, the report from the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative (CMQCC) identified dramatic geographic variation with rates ranging from 9% to 51% among low-risk women having their first baby. This large variation among California regions and hospitals cannot be explained by medical factors alone and therefore suggests that labor management practices and local attitudes help drive the use of cesareans during labor.

Reasons for the increase also include: physicians' concerns about medical liability and avoidance of risk, as well as specific labor practices such as the increased reliance on labor induction, early labor admission, lack of patience in labor, and the virtual disappearance of vaginal birth after a prior cesarean, the report found.

"Over the last 15 years, cesarean deliveries have become so common that in some hospitals and communities they are considered 'normal births' despite the increased risks," said Dr. Elliott Main, medical director of the CMQCC and a practicing obstetrician.

"The most serious and often overlooked risk for a woman having a first cesarean is the increased likelihood of having a cesarean delivery in subsequent pregnancies. Currently, in California, if a woman has her first birth by cesarean, over 90% of all her subsequent births will also be by cesarean, each with escalating risks," said Dr. Main.

Undergoing multiple cesarean deliveries markedly increases the chances for complications, such as life-threatening hemorrhage due to placental implantation problems.

There is also strong evidence that babies born by cesarean delivery without the contractions of labor (i.e., scheduled), have significantly higher rates of neonatal respiratory problems than those born vaginally.

The cost of a cesarean is nearly double that of a vaginal birth — $24,700 compared to $14,500. The Pacific Business Group on Health (PBGH), a co-author of the study, estimates that these additional cesareans cost public and private payers in California at least $240 million in 2011 alone. An effort to reduce cesareans could save California between $80 million and $441.5 million a year depending on the number of cesareans prevented.

However, the study says that reducing cesarean deliveries will not be easy and a multi-pronged set of strategies will be required. The study recommends that hospitals, doctors, and insurance companies (including Medi-Cal, which pays for over half of the births in California) band together to develop quality improvement efforts to reduce first-birth cesareans among low-risk women.

The program would need to include sharing best practices with real-time benchmarking; public reporting on a balanced set of quality measures; payment reforms to eliminate incentives for cesarean delivery; and broad-based, statewide educational outreach to foster a balanced view of cesarean delivery and its short- and long-term consequences.

With planning grant funds from the California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF), which also funded this report, CMQCC is leading an effort to develop a California Maternal Data Center to achieve these goals. The project has recently received major funding for statewide implementation from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Reproductive Health.

"To help hospitals and doctors in their efforts to improve pregnancy outcomes, we need a robust source of timely maternity care data," said Dr. Main. "And once the data is vetted we will want to share the results with women so they can make informed decisions."

The report, Cesarean Deliveries, Outcomes, and Opportunities for Change in California: Toward a Public Agenda for Maternity Care Safety and Quality, is available for free download from the CMQCC website
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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Sleep miracle

Four nights ago, we put Inga's crib in a separate bedroom in the hope that she would sleep better. The bedroom is very dark, we moved the white noise machine over, and no one else is sleeping there. Turns out that was the perfect combination: Inga has slept like a champion the past 4 nights! She wakes up once around 3 am to nurse but otherwise sleeps a full 12 hours. Wow.

She hasn't once stood up in her crib; I think the pitch-dark room keeps her more interested in sleeping than in trying to see what's happening. I haven't slept this well for a long time, probably since halfway through my pregnancy. I stayed in her room after she nursed on the first night, since I didn't know what to expect. But now I'm coming back to my bed after I nurse her, since I can expect she'll be asleep until at least 8 am.

I sleep so much better when my newborns are right next to me in bed. Even when they're in a nearby crib, I can't relax as well. Then the months pass and all of a sudden neither of us sleep as well when we're together. Zari has always been a sound sleeper, but she became more and more wiggly as she got older; she went into her own room around 20 months. Dio and Inga were both more sensitive to our noises and movements and left our bed around 5-6 months of age. So yes, I love co-sleeping until it stops working for one or both of us!

I probably could have moved her out of our room a month or two earlier, when she started to have longer and longer sleep stretches and before all of her developmental milestones caused her to wake up so often. But I'm just happy that we're both sleeping so soundly. Here's hoping the trend continues!
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Monday, December 05, 2011

You're Doing It Wrong: Nursing Cover Edition

Thanks for your witty submissions for my nursing cover caption!

This one scored highest on my laugh-o-meter:

Close runner-up:

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Saturday, December 03, 2011

9 month pictures

Curious girl
Showing off her teeth
3 siblings
Zari took this picture...
...and this one
We like to make animals out of bread
And then we eat them!
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Friday, December 02, 2011

9 months old!

Inga developed so many new skills between 7 and 9 months. She started crawling right around 7 months and learned how to pull herself up to standing at 8 months. Now she's cruising the furniture, sometimes using only one hand. She's also mastered a speed crawl. This past month, Inga got two more teeth, so now she has a matched set of top & bottom teeth. The fourth popped through this morning.

Maybe those teeth explain why her nighttime sleep has completely deteriorated. It's a good thing that Inga is so cute and content during the day, because her sleep has gone down the toilet over the past month. Ever since she started standing up, she wants to do it all the time, even at 3 am. Instead of squirming and fussing when she wakes up at night, she immediately pulls herself up to standing in her crib. This, of course, wakes her up completely and then I have a wired baby on my hands who won't fall back asleep for 1-2 hours. (She'll stand in her crib, jump up and down, point and babble at the windows or light fixtures. If I bring her into bed with me, she crawls around and plays with our faces. Anything but sleep.) She's also been waking very frequently all night long--often every sleep cycle. The best stretches I've been getting this past month is 2 hours at a time. So between the frequent waking and the night "parties," I am totally wiped out.

When people joke about how parents of newborns are sleep-deprived, I just laugh. For me, the first 6 months are so much more restful than the next 6 months. Newborns just nurse and sleep, nurse and sleep. It's when they start rolling around and crawling and standing up that their sleep--and consequently mine--goes to pot. Give me a newborn any day!

I've mulled over possible strategies with my friends, my sister, and my husband. But honestly, now that I have 3 kids I have learned that I know nothing about raising babies. It's SO easy to think you know it all with your first. Then you have more kids and everything gets blown out of the water. So my strategy is to wait it out. Her sleep will eventually get better, right? RIGHT?!?

We did take one fairly drastic measure today: we moved Inga's crib out of our room and into an empty bedroom down the hall. (She's been sleeping predominantly in her crib for the past 2 months; she has become more sensitive to our noises and movements and sleeps better in a crib than with us.) Maybe this will help? I have a feeling I'll be sleeping in that bedroom a lot for the next few months, but at least I can have my own bedroom back. It will so fun to actually turn the lights on and not have to creep around in the dark. I can even flush the toilet and brush my teeth and not worry about waking Inga up! The things you think are awesome when you are a parent...

So onto another parenting topic: solids. I'm still withholding solids but Inga is quite adept at picking up every crumb that falls off the dinner table. She's as good as a dog! Her diet lately consists of peas, Cheerios, pomegranate seeds, and popcorn kernels. I've also let her gnaw on apples and sugar snap peas. Between Inga's frequent night nursing and delayed solids, my cycles still haven't come back and I am quite happy with that.

Pictures coming soon!
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