Monday, December 8, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
© Ewa Walicka - Fotolia.com
One of my passions is stationery. This, naturally, runs counter to my goal of trying to reduce my overall paper consumption but I cannot resist a beautifully handwritten card or thank you note (don't get me started on my penchant for writing utensils).
So I was thrilled to learn that my friend/designer Tori Higa has incorporated recycled paper into her vintage line. Tori's inspiration comes from a bounty of vintage fabric she inherited, which she uses deftly to highlight her whimsical sketches - such a creative way to "reuse" if you ask me.
Tori has a great ability to capture personality as well so I asked her to design a custom set of thank you notes for my sister-in-laws recent birthday. I think they turned out great!
Congrats to Tori and her team for going completely green! All THS vintage fabric cards are now printed on recycled paper - even the envelopes!
Friday, October 24, 2008
Countless people have literally stopped me in the street to tell me to cherish each moment because it goes so fast. Somehow it didn't resonate. Then all of a sudden here I am. It went SO fast.
The Babe will be attending daycare. This is not something I ever imagined I'd do either. We contemplated hiring a nanny but I wanted to be able to work from home, and if you've been reading this blog at all you can only imagine how impossible it would be to get anything done with the Babe and a nanny hanging out in my makeshift office.
I went to the Babe's daycare today to mentally and emotionally prepare myself for his first day. His teachers are delightful. His playroom cheerful. His crib already waiting for him. I still cried the whole walk home.
I realized my sadness is not from fear or worry - he will be well cared for. I'm simply nostalgic. I want those first few weeks back when it was all new, scary, overwhelming and exhilarating. I wish I was sitting in the cab on our first ride home from the hospital when he was so small he wobbled around in his car seat. The special outfit we bought him to come home in was actually loose. It seems like an eternity ago.
Just another lesson in why it's so important to live in the moment and relish the small things I guess. So with that, I'm signing off to enjoy a few quiet moments with the Babe on our last precious day together.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
My favorite thing about bathtime is how good the Babe smells afterwards. We've been using Kiehl's Baby Gentle Foaming Hair & Body Wash for weeks. It smells, in a word, delicious. I had the good conscience to check out the ingredients today, a bit afraid of what I might find. Yep. You guessed it. Parabens, PEG and a few other multi-syllable chemicals I can't pronounce. Yikes.
I decided to check out the Skin Deep website to see what I could find out about the product. "Skin Deep is a safety guide to cosmetics and personal care products brought to you by researchers at the Environmental Working Group. Skin Deep pairs ingredients in more than 37,000 products against 50 definitive toxicity and regulatory databases, making it the largest integrated data resource of its kind. Why did a small nonprofit take on such a big project? Because the FDA doesn't require companies to test their own products for safety."
Turns out, nothing. Kiehl's baby products aren't (yet) in the database. But I was able to see the results of 33 other Kiehl's products and many received a hazardous rating, which does not bode well for my baby wash.
Skin Deep features a full section on baby care, which I found useful to identify some other options for bathtime. Here are my results for baby shampoos, ranked in order of toxicity.
I also had some Aveeno Baby on hand so checked to see if this product was better/worse for the Babe. Despite the "natural oat formula" this product receives a rating of 4 (out of 10). Full results are here.
I haven't decided whether I'll toss both bottles or what. I'll probably finish the Kiehl's until I can get a rating for it. The Aveeno hasn't been opened yet so perhaps I will donate to a women's shelter. If you have ideas for me, let me know.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
These days he is preoccupied with his fingers. He interlaces them only to unwind them again. He spends minutes staring in contemplation at his thumb before plunging it into his mouth to rub against his funny little gums. I figured I could put him down on his mat to conduct this investigative work, and I could free my arms for a blessed 15 minutes. This worked for a couple of days but when he grew wise to my plan he started to fuss. I thought maybe he just wanted to be upright so I sat him in his bouncer. This worked for just one day and he started to squirm and wriggle his way out of it. To save him from his contortionist ways, I unbuckled him and propped him up in the Boppy on my bed. Ahh...now he had full view of the goings on in the Pod, and he could even see out of our big window.
Still, he squirmed and fussed.
In part frustration, part exhaustion I collapsed onto the bed beside him, my face just a few inches from his. He began to babble melodiously. He rolled part way over to face me and grabbed my chin with one hand and graized my cheek with the other. I guess he just wanted my full attention, the type of interaction that doesn't come in a box. We laid there for about 20 minutes chit-chatting. Then I sat him upright against my knees and slid them up and down - he gave him a wide, toothless, drooly grin each time I raised him up. Such easy entertainment!
I've worked these little games into our routine, along with a few renditions of Itsy Bitsy Spider (full disclosure: I had to google the words and stumbled on this slide show on BabyCenter) and Wheels on the Bus. We even invented a game of stare down the closet doorknobs in which he stares at the shiny silver knobs for a few seconds and then lets out a screech. Priceless. Literally.
Mommyhood is an intensely humbling experience if you ask me. I thought by reading books and having stuff that I'd be able to take care of the Babe well. I didn't realize that I could give him more joy with so much less.
I've found a few helpful resources on the web that describe "games" to play with babies:
BabyCenter's weekly list of games
HUGGIES Happy Baby
My friend Andrea just introduced me to a great online community called CityMommy.com. What I love about CityMommy is that it's a local network. Currently, CityMommy has networks for LA, Miami, etc. Each market has its own directory, groups, message board and a ton of other great information. I'm currently lurking in the LA community until the NYC community starts.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
Blame it on St. Vincent: At the hospital
The nurses at St. Vincent's used Huggies - no doubt through an effective marketing arrangement with the manufacturer to get samples into the hands of unwitting new mothers. During my hospital stay, I don't recall changing more than one diaper. And the one time I did change the meconium filled bomb, my older brother (bless him) was there guiding me. Who was I to argue?
Learning the ropes: Week 1
Changing the Babe was like a NASCAR pitstop. I don't actually watch NASCAR so I'm not sure if those cars even stop but whatever the case, we moved swiftly while hollering commands back and forth. Huggies was still the brand of choice. We used the Gentle Care style. I vowed that once his umbilical cord dropped off we'd try something different.
Trying to break the habit: Weeks 2-5
Umbilical cord dropped off. Huggies stayed on.
During week three, I upgraded to a bigger version of Huggies. The guilt started to set in. Maybe I could just use them at night, I thought. Or maybe just on outings when we knew we couldn't manage a mess.
At some point during this period I bought Seventh Generation diapers for newborns. They are the shade of cardboard so they make you feel better about your decision. But (there is always a but), they were rectangle, not at all the shape of the Babe and they continually drooped in the back. I changed so many outfits while he was wearing those that I gave up and gave the rest away.
I then tried Nature Babycare on the recommendation of a friend. I must have been optimistic because I ordered two big bags of diapers and a case of wipes. Here is what I like about this product: "It has an exclusive 100% chlorine free absorbent material and the material against the baby's skin is based on corn instead of plastic like traditional diapers, 100% compostable, breathable and extremely kind for the baby. The packaging is 100% compostable and based on corn." Marketing speak aside, I cannot attest to the efficacy of the product. The diapers are also shaped like rectangles. The marketing team at Kimberly Clark got it right when they created the HUGGIES Brick Baby ad.
(A side note on Seventh Generation and Nature Babycare wipes: I really liked both products. They are both fragrance free and chlorine free. They are also not as wet as conventional wipes which seemed to give the Babe diaper rash. We continue to use the Seventh Generation wipes. In fact, I just bought a massive case from Diapers.com.)
Have diaper, will travel: Weeks 6-8
We went to Orlando and Miami on two separate trips. How could I possibly start a new diaper routine? I rationalized
Last Spring I wrote about gDiapers , which is a pretty revolutionary concept in diapering. "Little g's" are rewearable pants (think Pull-Ups) and a flushable, compostable insert that can also be tossed after each use because it decomposes in a few hundred days as opposed to 500 years. They are made of 92% cotton, 8% spandex and no elemental chlorine, perfumes or latex. I'd read tons of online conversations between moms who were buzzing that these were a great alternative to disposables. When I was just six months pregnant, I proudly bought a starter kit.
Right around week nine I finally gave the little g's a try. The first few uses were great - no mess. I can't say I used the little swisher stick to flush the insert; I just popped the soiled insert in the garbage. On about the fourth night the Babe had a massive blowout and I promptly gave up. I think the Babe had just outgrown the newborn size which fit up to 12lbs. I found this frustrating because it meant having to buy new little g pants.
My husband asked me the other day what happened to the little g's. Guilt officially set in. I decided I would not purchase another case of disposables until I really gave this a shot. In case you are wondering, I decided not to cloth diaper before I had the Babe. If I had more space and a place to keep the soiled diapers, I probably would have tried, but with a changing table in the living room and no circulation in our bathroom, this is one compromise I just couldn't bring myself to make.
So now that the Pampers and Huggies have run out, I'm vowing (publicly this time) to give the g's another shot. I just jumped onto the gDiapers site and see they have some very cool new colors. I guess if the environment isn't motivation enough, consumerism may get the better of me.
If you've got ideas for me, or if you've tried other products you think I ought to know of, please drop me a line!
Thursday, October 16, 2008
The Babe has received some pretty fabulous gifts in his short life. Two of my dear friends gave us eco-friendly baby clothes from babysoy and Hanna Andersson.
"Babysoy is the 1st company in the world to create baby's newborn wardrobe using soybean protein fiber." In case you were wondering, soybean protein fiber is the leftover pulp from tofu, soymilk and other soy products. You can instantly tell from the site that it's an environmentally conscious marketer. The mantra STYLE + NATURE'S SOFTNESS seems to say it all.
Over at Hanna Andersson, the green story is a bit harder to find. Because I'm a nut and I read everything on every label of every product that enters this house (um, studio), I was intrigued by the Hanna Andersson tags claiming 100% pure organic cotton. The company, which has Swedish roots, embraces a European ecological certification process called Öko-Tex (sounds like echo-tex) Standard 100. In order for a garment to receive certification "every fabric, button, thread and zipper must pass rigorous tests for over 100 potentially harmful substances."
Suprisingly the website doesn't have any content about this on the home page. Given all the green marketing today, AND the fact that mommies are increasingly discerning about the products they purchase for their families, I'd say Hanna Andersson has a pretty good story to tell. It took me a few clicks to find it in the About Us section. You can read more about the process here: Öko-Tex.
One mother, who lives with her family in what is described as an over-sized one bedroom, is quoted as saying that they can still have a little bit of a life in their cramped quarters: "All you have to do is walk out the door.” It's so true. I know on days when the Pod is a total tip, I haven't showered, there are stacks of unopened mail...whatever...I instantly feel better if I can get out, circle the block and breathe in that oh-so-fresh New York City air.
Storey's article makes another important sociological point about just how hospitable Manhattan has become for parents like us: “Big cities have become a series of neighborhoods that can and often do approximate small towns,” said Kathleen Gerson, a professor of sociology at New York University.
Read it: Move Up? Move Out? Families Squeeze In
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
This is the first trip, however, that I am taking on my own. I have rehearsed collapsing the Bugaboo countless times. I've even done it with the Baby Bjorn on to simulate how I will collapse the stroller while wearing the Babe. I'm still a tad nervous that I'm going to be one stressed out mama standing in line futzing with her oversized stroller and irritating a bunch of hostile New Yorkers. But I'll survive.
What is perhaps more worrisome is the boatload of stuff I am bringing with us in addition to the stroller. I managed to cram it all into one large suitcase but it is far too much for a six day trip. I'll blame it on the Medela pump that is taking up half of my suitcase.
The only "green" aspect of this trip is the Babe. He's wearing it.
Monday, October 6, 2008
The Pod these days resembles an obstacle of sorts. Before the Babe was born, we vowed not to become a slave to baby stuff. We don't have all that much. In addition to our furniture, we have a Tiny Love Gymini, a Maclaren rocker, and an old workout mat that we put blankets on for tummy time. Between that and the stroller that is parked by the door, there is virtually no square footage left to walk. Couple that with the fact that I am often holding the Babe and left to maneuver one-handed, and it is not a pretty sight. We're cramped. And we're wondering how much longer we can live like this. (Already, I know!)
While laying beside the mat this morning during tummy time, I whacked my elbow on the corner of our glass coffee table. Ding. While scooting the Bugaboo out of the entry way so I could drag in the laundry bag (one-handed - man that thing was heavy!), my knee collided with the side of the closet. Ding Ding. Then, while reading to the Babe in a our lounge chair, I cracked my head on the side of his dresser. Ding ding ding.
By 4 o'clock, the Babe and I are both exhausted. I pop him up over my left shoulder (which is also suffering from three months of carrying), and head to the front of the room to the narrow path between our two closets. This is the one place in our studio that is dark and removed from any visual distractions. At least that is what I think. The Babe, who was droopy-eyed just a moment ago, is now screeching like a cross-between ostrich-monkey at the closet door knobs. I cannot fathom what is so interesting about the small, shiny, silver knobs. Baby bling, I guess? Perhaps he was switched at birth with one of J. Lo's twins.
Clearly the Babe doesn't appear to mind the crowded space we're living in. My patience is tested but if he's happy then I guess I can learn to manage.
The Babe chillin in his crib.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
At the Consumer Electronics Show last year, green was the word on the street. Manufacturers of all stripes introduced energy efficient technologies for the home, the car and in personal electronics. Not much of a techie myself, I'm finding it a bit hard to research laptops that might have some green credentials.
This past June, Greenpeace released their annual electronics guide.
The guide "ranks leading mobile phone, game console, TV and PC manufacturers on their global policies and practice on eliminating harmful chemicals, taking responsibility for their products once they are discarded by consumers, and their impact on the climate. Companies are ranked on information that is publicly available and clarifications and communications with the companies." Sony and Sony Ericsson score the highest among dozens rated, making me feel a little sentimental about my Vaio again.
If you happen to find yourself hunting around online for new electronics or home/office supplies and want to consider a green(er) purchase, I've found that Super Warehouse features hundreds of products with EPA Energy Star certification. For many of us today, we're trying to find simple solutions to cut down on our overall energy consumption. I remember back in the day when Mom's washing machine had the gleaming blue star on it. I was floored by the wide range of electronics that now feature the seal. Buying products with the Energy Star is the easiest way to feel good about your purchases.
I performed two searches against Super Warehouse's vast inventory: one using the term "environmentally friendly" and another with just the acronym "EPA". Both searches called up hundreds of products: color laser printers from dozens of manufacturers including Brothers, whose products feature a reduced size and smaller footprint; HP scanners for all those pics of the Babe; Apple laptops and yes, even the newer Sony Vaios.
For a list of categories that feature the Energy Star go to: EnergyStar.gov
I broke down about three weeks ago and hired a cleaning service I found in Real Simple magazine called Maid Brigade. I was dubious that the Pod would get as clean as I could make it. The steep price of $80 an hour also didn't seem recession-friendly. The Maid Brigade claims to be the "ONLY national house cleaning service that is Green Clean Certified™," a certification process the company has devised. I've found from my own research that consumers tend to be dubious as I about a company's own certification or rating process and prefer to have a third party (think Green Seal, Fair Trade, LEED, etc.) rate goods and services. Nevertheless, I was intrigued by the promise of a home that was friendly to my family and the environment and scheduled a visit.
And boy was it a brigade that arrived! The Maid Brigade has a policy of sending two housecleaners per job "for safey precautions and efficiency" I was told by the sales manager on the phone. They also arrived with two huge bags of equipment and "green" supplies. They were extremely professional (they came with a binder detailing the particulars of my job: 525 sq ft; hard wood floors; big 'ol mess in the kitchen; icky bathroom). I made a few small requests, gave a brief tour (how long does a "tour" of a studio take anyway?) and left with the Babe in tow. Ninety minutes later we arrived back home to find a sparkling version of the scrubby Pod I'd left behind. I took a deep breath - not a wiff of any toxic fumes either.
In September, Green Seal announced that it is working on a green standard for house cleaning services, to be titled GS-49. Green Seal sought out Maid Brigade to help them write their standards - a huge pat on the back for the Brigade.
I just discovered the Brigade's website also features Green TV with videos on green cleaning tips, featuring expert Annie Bond.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Last night we ate dinner in the dark. No, this was not my way of saving on electricity, as green as that may have been. No, this was our way of not waking the Babe. Ridiculous? Read on.
When we first brought the Babe home he was a champion sleeper. I thought he simply took after my husband who can sleep at any time, at any place and through any amount of not-so-ambient noise (vacuuming, frying food, jack hammers, you name it). Everyone told me babies sleep a lot but ours slept a LOT and I figured he was special - every new mothers right. Then, when all the relatives left and my husband went back to work, the Babe stopped sleeping. Rocking a 10-lber to sleep everyday took all of my patience and about an hour for a precious 15 minutes of down time.
Over the last few weeks the Babe's daytime naps have improved. By that I mean, he takes them! Now, I can gently rock the Babe a bit, put him in his crib and he will slowly put himself to sleep for a good 2 hour stretch. Trouble is, he's a tremendously light sleeper. Last night, when we finally sat down to dinner at 9 pm after a leisurely walk in Central Park, a bath and a story. I had dimmed the lights by his crib (and our coffee table where my healthy dinner awaited) to soothe him. Looking forward to a quiet evening, we clicked on the TV.
And then ...
A wimper. I scrambled for the mute button ... Another wimper. I guess the flickering from the TV was flashing into his crib.
So there we sat. Barely talking. In the dark (ok it wasn't pitch black but still). I keep asking my friends when the Babe will finally sleep through the night but in a way I'm dreading the moment he drops off at 6pm not to wake until morning. I'll turn into a librarian or something - constantly shushing people. Will I be able to cook dinner? Talk on the phone? Type?
Who knows. For now, I'm too sleep deprived to worry about it.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
10:00 pm, Friday night: We had just finished dinner with my older brother downtown at the Viceroy in Chelsea. I started feeling more intense contractions than what I'd experienced the past month. We high-tailed it back uptown.
I think at some point before active labor, every pregnant woman must think they are going to be pregnant forever and that the baby will never come. I remember thinking the contractions would probably subside again. I certainly didn't think that in 10 hours I would actually be holding my baby.
We got home and I took a shower. I remember now that I never actually dried or brushed my hair (which explains the bedhead look in our hospital pictures). The contractions continued to intensify.
11:46 pm: My husband started to keep time time on his stopwatch and began jotting down the intervals in a little spiral reporters notebook that will now live among the baby's keepsakes. He called my brother to say something to the effect of "I think we're going to the hospital tonight." Then he called our doula to give her a heads up. We didn't ask her to come right away because it was Friday night after all and I was sure I'd jinx myself and she'd come all the way to the Upper East Side for nothing. She said to call her back in 20 minutes.
12:20 am: The contractions kept coming harder. We knew this was it. Andy called our doula and she got on her way.
1:15 am: Our doula arrives. At this point I am lurched over our bed, swaying, which was the only position I found comfortable. I think I attempted a few yoga poses - the idea of which seemed so cool in my prenatal yoga classes but at the time felt ridiculous. She washed her hands and surveyed the room. I should pause here to say that my husband was supportive but dubious about what a doula actually is hired to do. When our doula starting spritzing scents around our living room while his wife was hunched over the bed mid-contraction, I'm certain he was even more skeptical. But then she put her hands on my back. She applied pressure to my lower back in a downward circular motion almost to the rhythym of each contraction and it was if the pain melted away. It was unbelievable to me how manageable each contraction became, and I was able to just breathe through the pain.
The next few hours went quickly. At several junctures our doula engaged my husband to help massage my back. As much as I wanted him to be involved, it wasn't the same as what I began to call her "magic hands." I couldn't tolerate the contractions without them. I only realized after the baby was born a good 7 hours later that I probably owe her a few hundred dollars for physical theraphy - I'm sure she has carpal tunnel now.
She did two other crucial things that made a huge difference to our whole experience. First, she kept me hydrated. She must have brought bendy straws with her because every time I lifted my head, she was there with a fresh glass of cold water and a bendy straw positioned just before my lips. She also got me to rest. In between a few of the harder contractions she encouraged me to lie down and try to take a nap. Taking a nap didn't seem like it was on the menu but the second my head hit the pillow I crashed. I realized later how much I needed this extra energy.
I don't know if I valued her massage technique or her aura more. She was wearing a colorful top, long flowing skirt and a fuscia flower in her hair. I just loved that. The whole reason for having a doula was to create a comfortable environment in which to labor as long as possible without medical intervention. Several things happened that, had she not been there to explain that they were completely normal, I'm sure we would have bolted for the hospital much sooner. For one, I vaccilated between freezing and overheating. I would shiver and then break out into a cold sweat. Apparently this was really just a rush of adrenaline. Who knew? I certainly never read that in "What to Expect When You're Expecting."
The big question became when to go to the hospital. Our doula suggested we should stay home as long as we felt comfortable, and that she would listen to me for a cue. A cue? I wasn't sure if I was supposed to flash some sort of secret sign or what, but she assured me I would sense when it was time. Well, I had sensed it was time for the last week but clearly the Babe had other intentions.
She was entirely right though. At one point, I just wanted to get going. A few minutes later, with the bag that had been packed for a month, in toe, we headed downstairs. Our night doorman could not have looked more horrified as he wished us good luck.
4:00 am: We got in the taxi and start heading downtown in the LOOOOONGEST cab ride I have ever taken. We arrived at the hospital at about 4:20. The guard in the lobby asked if I wanted a wheelchair but since I couldn't see one in sight, I opted to keep walking. Up the elevator and down the hall, the next thing I knew I was in a delivery room. It was surreal. You spend months mentally preparing for this moment, and then it is here and you realize you are woefully unprepared. Thank God for our doula. I just looked at her and (this sounds cheesy but true) looked in her eyes and felt calm again.
[Another thing doulas are good for: As soon as we arrived she surveyed the room, stashed a few supplies in my overnight bag and got me set up with water. Always with the water ... I felt like a camel. But it did give me the energy I needed to push later on. She then guided my husband to ask the nurses if I could forgo the IV. While they protested a bit, he reasoned that I was well-hydrated and asked if we could wait 30 minutes before they gave me anything. Although I had the bruises to prove I had the heplock, I never did need or get an IV.]
5:00 am: After they finally inserted the heplock (Heplock: worst and most painful part of the whole birth. Although I did know to expect it, I didn't think they would have to three times to find a cooperative vein), I was checked and was 7 centimeters. The nurses got us settled and I prepared to go on laboring. They told us they'd called the doctor and to expect him around 8 am.
5:40 am (ish): I remember the sun rising outside of my window. I couldn't see the sun, only its reflection on the building next door. I also remember thinking "today is the day my son will be born. Saturday the 18th." (I still have to remind myself that his birthday was the 19th not the 18th.)
6:00 am: Dr. M arrived. Dr. M is not my doctor. My doctor was away that weekend, which he had told us about earlier in the week. He asked if I had any requests or questions and I told him that I didn't want an epidural or pain medication unless I got to the point that I asked for it.
The time gets really fuzzy here. All I remember is that at one point it felt like all of a sudden the baby was coming. It must have been about 7:30 am. They checked me again and I was 10 centimeters dilated. My water still hadn't broken. Dr. M broke my water. The contractions after were absolutely the worst pain I have ever experienced. If I would have had my water broken at 4 centimeters earlier in the week to induce labor, there is no way on earth I could have had a natural childbirth. No way.
Then with a football coach of a nurse, my husband, my doula and the doctor encouraging me along, I delivered the Babe into the world at 8:12.
I have never felt an adrenaline rush quite like what I experienced that morning. We have recounted the experience over and over again and I know I wouldn't have had the same wonderfully profound experience without our doula. At all the right times she reminded me why we had made this decision, both she and my husband encouraged me and gave me strength. What a profession! There are precious few people in our lives that are there at such life-changing moments.
It wasn't pretty and certainly by way of being in a hospital it wasn't the most natural setting, but it was amazing and miraculous and we wouldn't have done it any other way.
A big thanks to our doula and Power of Birth for matching her with us.
Doula is an ancient Greek word that means "woman's servant". Today, doulas are trained to provide continuous physical, emotional and informational support to women in labor. The doula cooperates with and encourages the partner's role in labor.
DONA International: http://www.dona.org/.
I just reread my last post from that other world of pre-newborn-hood (sleep deprivation grants me permission to make up words) and am stunned at how much my life has changed. I have been completely remiss about blogging about our experiences but frankly was just too overwhelmed to shower or eat, much less type. The Babe and I just hit a stride though and I'm looking forward to sharing about our ups and downs in this increasingly shrinking apartment of ours.
I'm going to hit the rewind button and start by sharing a bit of our birth story and what we learned in the early weeks. Stay tuned...
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
We made a really important decision this week. Or rather I should say we didn't make one.
For the past three weeks I've been 2 cm dilated. This was all good news until my due date came and went. Now I feel like a ticking clock. I'm also a somewhat impatient person by nature so walking around feeling like I should be doing this really HUGE life-changing thing without being able to actually DO anything about it has been beyond weird.
I have been incredibly blessed to have enjoyed a healthy, happy pregnancy. All along I've been blissfully out of control - just letting my body doing its thing naturally. On Wednesday we had our first opportunity to take things into our own hands.
During my exam the doctor told me that I am now 4 cm dilated. He gave us the option to break my water to hopefully get things going (too much information?). At first it seemed a simple decision but on reflection, talking to my doula, family and a few trusted friends, I realized there was no reason for us to do anything. I'm not miserable. It's perfectly normal to be late (my mom had her three babies 8-10 days after her due date). And most importantly, the baby is still healthy.
Medical advances have given us resplendent information (after an exam on Thursday I know the approximate weight of the Babe, the circumference of his head, how he reacts to my contractions...), but it's almost too much information. For me, being able to affect the way you bring your child into the world was overwhelming - akin to playing God. (I suspect I'm overanalyzing this a bit, but hey, I'm hormonal.) Plus we felt inducing labor would force us to forgo our desire to have a natural childbirth.
It is now officialy one week past my due date and I'm antsy. But we're happy we've decided to wait it out.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
There was a great article in The New York Times last week about the rise of CSAs (community supported agriculture) across the nation and specifically in NYC.
If you want to know more and that doesn't satiate you, a great link about sustainable food in the New York region is Just Food.
Local Harvest is a great online tool to find local farms in your neck of the woods. Check out this awesome map of farmers market across the country. (Green dots are farmers markets; orange dots are CSAs)
Monday, July 14, 2008
In my professional life, I research Sustainability trends so I'm constantly trying to understand what people are doing (recycling, taking shorter showers, taking public transportation) to try to lessen their environmental impact. Moms specifically are increasingly attuned to the toxins that seem to infect our homes - from the plastic tupperware we store our food in and the baby bottles we nourish our children from to the cleaning supplies we rely on. It's enough to make your head spin. I'm always encouraged when our research affirms that consumers are trying to make significant changes within their homes to improve their personal and environmental health and wellness. But I'm often dismayed at the cost it takes some households to "go green."
Fortunately, there are sites like Let's Go Green Biz that makes the daunting task of becoming more sustainable easier and cheaper. The site features a host of everyday household products, including recycled toilet and tissue paper, non-toxic, biodegradable all-purpose cleaners and detergents, and BPA-free plastic water bottles.
They also have Green Home Starter Kits that make really unique housewarming gifts!!
I highly encourage you to check out the site. Also, use the coupon code FRIEND during checkout to save an additional 25% off your order! You can thank me later.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Today is our due date ... and the Babe is not here yet. But in honor of this important date I thought I would jot a few things I will and will not miss about being pregnant.
I will miss...
-Random people smiling at me on the street
-An excuse to buy new clothes
-Nice people giving me their seat on the subway
-Generous servings of ice cream
-Having a sweet little baby cruising around with me all the time
-The exciting feeling like we're on the cusp of a thoroughly new life
I will not miss...
-Weird people pretending not to notice me so as not to have to give me their seat on the subway
-Forgoing sushi and wine
-Flats every day of the week
-The same three outfits I've been wearing for the last three weeks
I'm most excited about...
Well, lots of things really, but today I'm pretty excited to see the tiny little heels of the sweet little feet that have been kicking me lately.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
I first wrote these words precisely one month ago today. It feels even more accurate now - literally days away from my due date (Friday July 11th for anyone keeping track). For the last 9 months I've been working out consistently - weight training, walking, running or practicing yoga. At first I did so because I didn't feel any different and thankfully I didn't have morning sickness to contend with. As the weeks passed, my motivation became more about keeping my energy levels up. And to be completely honest, I was increasingly wary of my changing shape. But somewhere at around the six month mark, working out became akin to training - training for the marathon that is birth. Whether you have a two hour delivery or a 24 hour labor, it is still a distance (mental and physical) that women travel.
I decided several months ago I wanted to have as natural a birth as possible. I have managed expectations that everything will go exactly as I've envisioned it, but nevertheless this is my training goal (my marathon goal is 4:15 and I've got managed expectations about that too!). I need my body to be in optimal condition to get me through. Each visit to the gym feels like a deposit into an account that I will draw from later. As I look back on the last few months, I also have pretty awesome memories of the activities the Babe and I have done together. We have:
1. completed the 4-mile Midnight Run on New Years Eve in Central Park
2. logged over 60 visits to my local New York Sports Club, where I...
3. must have clocked at least 40 hours on the eliptical machine
4. lapped the reservoir in Central Park more times than I can fathom
5. made lots of new mommy friends at YogaWorks in some of the most challenging and rewarding yoga classes I've ever taken
So, with that, I'm off to the gym ...
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
We got totally kitted out, thanks to all my friends who are moms and knew what I needed (even though I didn't), right down to the diaper rash cream!
Amazingly, I found room in the hallway closet for everything, including a stroller! One of the sweetest gifts was my friend's hand-me-down Snap-n-Go and Graco car seat, which is going to be great to get us through the first few months and for taxi rides in the big city!
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
First, the crib: Last weekend the Sorelle Sophia crib was delivered and assembled. It looks fabulous and fits snugly in its Nook. (The Nook is basically the left hand side of our wall.)
After much deliberating, we also invested in the Naturepedic No-Compromise Organic mattress, which is recommended by Healthy Child, Healthy World, and endorsed by several other organizations. At twice the price of a traditional mattress, we weren't sure if it was worth the investment, but we figured if we are taking pains to keep the Babe away from toxic chemicals, it was the right decision. While dark greenies would probably cringe at the food-grade polyethylene waterproof cover, we thought this was a good, well, compromise.
I joined a CSA! As of today, I'm an official member of the Carnegie Hill Yorkville CSA. I just picked up my first share of veggies.
Look at all these beautiful leafy greens:
You may recognize the rhubarb and bok choy. Some of the other greens are brand new to me. The second shot is red vein mizuna, which I'd never heard of before an hour ago.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
This is an aside, but I'm curious to hear from those of you who Twitter. I work in social media but was fairly content to let this trend pass me by until I kept discovering bloggers who I adore are on Twitter and wanted to know what they were up to.
I signed up, uploaded a photo (a union jack in honor of my half-English heritage) and began tweeting away. I even linked it to my Facebook profile and to SustainaBabe in case anyone wanted to follow me.
I've been pondering the value of the tool. What's it worth for me to know where my friends, colleagues and favorite bloggers are located, that they are having lunch, sitting on a plane, meeting with a client ...? Not to mention that at least twice a day you can't log into the site or you log in to find a message that says too many people are tweeting. Ugh!
This morning I logged into SustainaBabe and was horrified to find that my link to Twitter had been crossed with another user with a very similar name (my fault bc I must have typed it in wrong) who was up to no good. If anyone happened to see my blog in the last three days, my Twitter said I was "f***ing around." Charming.
I do apologize for my obviously elementary understanding of technology (and poor typing skills). For the record (and seeing as though I haven't updated MY Twitter recently) during the last three days I was: at work (Friday); at a rooftop wedding (Friday evening); at yoga (Saturday morning) and visiting a friend's newborn (Saturday evening). For all those of you who do Twitter, I'd love to hear what you get out if it.
While The Complete Organic Pregnancy initially kind of freaked me out, I consulted it this week. In the nursery section the authors adivse how to treat nursery furniture that is constructed of plywood, using AFM's Safecoat Safe Seal product. It seems easy enough except for they don't sell the product anywhere in the city that I can see. Apparently, AFM has a Brooklyn location but didn't actually have the product listed on their website. Before I make the pilgrimage out there, I decided to test their commitment to "providing the best customer service in the industry" and sent an email inquiry.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
You can tell that the decreasing square footage of the Pod is weighing heavily on my mind this weekend because the first product in the store I gravitated to was the UBI changing table. Not only is it petite and portable, it also has a spring-loaded disposable diaper dispenser with velco tabs to hold the diaper in place while the Babe is wriggling around. This won't work if we end up using gDiapers but UBI also has a basic table without the diaper feature that will suffice.
Another option I just discovered on Babesta's site Ouef gliding changing station that latches onto the top rail of a crib. At $235 it's a little steep but it does include a changing pad.
Ahh...now that I know there are some options out there the Pod is feeling a bit livable again.
The Babe's (solid oak, espresso finish) chest of drawers was delivered from Straight from the Crate on Friday. The downside of ordering from a store like this is that you don't get that warm, fuzzy feeling like when you are in the upscale baby boutique lining Madison Avenue. The upshot is that the dresser was delivered in less than 5 business days and isn't the equivalent of a year of private school. The dresser is a 5 drawer piece, which stands about 47 inches high and 18 inches wide. Thankfully, it tucks into the wall pretty neatly. The drawers are 5 inches deep - plenty of space to load up the hand-me-downs and new clothes we bought for the Babe.
Suddenly the Pod looks much smaller. I'd be lying if I didn't say that I spent the better part of Friday night reconsidering this whole small living idea. The crib isn't even here yet!
We now have no room for the small bookshelf (that we were going to use as a changing table, so we thought we'd have to change the Babe on the bed.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Sometime around January I started thinking about my birth plan. It was with a mix of trepidation, fear and excitement that I began to envision what it would all be like. It didn't really occur to me not to have a baby in a hospital. I sort of thought that is just what you did.
A couple of events took place in February that altered the course of my thinking. I attended a women's retreat where I met a labor support doula. Within minutes of our introduction, we were talking about the increasing rates of cesareans and pain medication during birth, and potentially what this meant for the mother and baby in the long run. I felt a little paralyzed with all this new information and all the choices I had to make. A small part of me thought I wasn't ready for motherhood at all because I didn't have strong opinions about the child birth process.
Not long after, I heard about the Ricki Lake's The Business of Being Born documentary, which profiles a few births and endeavors to reveal what's behind the changing nature of childbirth in the U.S. today. My husband and I were able to view the film shortly thereafter. It was, in a word, eye-opening, and not just for seeing Ricki Lake delivering her baby in the bathtub! (My husband, being perhaps the only guy in the audience, took this all in stride.) That feeling of paralysis gave way to empowerment and a pretty intense desire to know more. I read everything I could get my hands on - stats on the national rate of c-sections, stats on NYC hospital c-section rates, and on, until I was resolute to have a midwife. With my husband on board, I set out to find our PLA (personal labor assistant).
I called every midwifery practice in Manhattan. By this time (early April), many of the reputable midwives in the city were committed to delivering other healthy babies. I paid $100 for one midwife to tell me that my idea of a completely natural birth in a hospital setting (this was what we decided we wanted) was idealized and unrealistic. And while she was probably right, I hated her patronizing tone. We talked about having a home birth but the prospect of situating a birthing tub in our living area and not having space to move around seemed more stressful than being in a hospital bed.
I felt like I'd already failed and I hadn't even starting having Braxton Hicks. I ultimately let go and focused on being thankful that at least I could now make decisions from an informed standpoint.
Over the next few visits with my OB/GYN who I've been to for over 7 years, I realized that he was relatively accommodating to my requests (mainly no paid meds and to let me labor as long as medically feasible). In late April, we took a tour of the hospital where we are delivering and found the nurses very au natural, tremendous advocates of breastfeeding - seemingly just what we had hoped for.
Now it's practically June and as the Babe kicks harder and as the Pod is increasingly filled with pastel colored onesies, I'm realizing that in order to have my close-to-natural-as-possible child birth I'm going to need some serious help. My husband will be there every step of the way, but I really want a doula.
I found myself back in that place of paralysis where there is far too much information and far too many choices. DONA International lists some 20 different doulas in the city alone. So I did what any web 2.0 mother-to-be would do - I googled. I started googling every doula in New York City to see what reviews I could find (plenty in fact!). I also searched on Facebook and found several doulas in the city who I could connect with online.
While I haven't found our perfect PLA yet, I do feel one step closer and more sure of my opinions about child birth in general. And that, in and of itself, makes me feel slightly more ready for motherhood. At least for today.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Author Jennifer Taggart, writes: "Formaldehyde in cribs and changing tables shouldn’t be a surprise. It is common for composite wood products – like particle board and medium density fiberboard (MDF) – are held together with formaldehyde based resins. Unfortunately, the formaldehyde escapes from these products, polluting indoor air. And formaldehyde can be released for many years. But, you might not have thought that a crib or changing table could contribute significantly to formaldehyde emissions in the home. Unfortunately, Environment California’s testing shows that cribs and changing tables can be significant sources. And when you consider that your baby spends a lot of time in that nursery, you might want to look for alternatives. A bit of good news? The California Air Resources Board has enacted a regulation that will start to limit formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products beginning in 2009."
The full blog post, which I highly encourage you to read, lists some of the most offending products. None of the Sorelle products were listed but how can I be sure my quality wood crib isn't fashioned with composite wood. The catalog says simply it is made of pine, but somehow I need more reassurance.
Googling "Sorelle Sophia" doesn't get me very far. I first click on a link for BabyCribsPlus.com which tells me that Sorelle products are "custom crafted with European designs using solid wood and veneers." Solid wood. Sounds promising. But this is not the bullet-proof affirmation I now find myself at 6:45 on a Sunday morning looking for.
After scrolling through a few pages of useless information, I return to my best friend, the Google search box. I punch in "Sorelle Crib Materials." (Kudos to NexTag for the good search placement; all I'm seeing on the first page is a bunch of product offerings. The only thing I learned so far is that we actually got a very good deal on our crib.) I see a few product reviews claiming that Sorelle cribs feature non-toxic finishes but the marketing speak makes me dubious.
Looks like I'm going to have to call the manufacturer on Tuesday, which means I now get to spend the rest of my weekend worrying about it.
On the wall are two Leroy Neiman serigraphs from two of our favorite pasttimes (the Met Opera at Lincoln center, left) and running (Olympic Games, right). As colorful as Neiman's work is, is this a little mature for an infant? Maybe we'll swap them out for some wall art like these wall stickers that they sell at Giggle.
Here is a filled to the brim before shot:
Here is the after shot. We'll store diapers (gDiapers I think) on the top shelf, and other assorted baby bounty on the fourth (you can see we've already got a Boppy and some blankets ready and waiting. Even made room for the yoga mat!
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Monday, May 19, 2008
Here is a very compelling article in today's New York Times on Similac's organic formula. Similac's rising sales appear to be fueled in part by a growing consumer group who are attuned to the benefits of anything bearing the organic label. This may be one case where shoppers need to re-think their purchases. Similac's formula is formulated with sucrose (cane sugar), which is sweeter than other sugars. No direct health risks have been cited yet but according to the article, some pediatricians suggest this may link to overeating, which in turn may lead to obesity.
As part of our approach to sustainability and overall health, we're coming down on the side of "breast is best" (but SERIOUSLY need to come up with another term for it), especially in the early stages. This new information will definitely force me to scrutinize product labels of formula if we find ourselves having to supplement.
The article also reports that competitive products like Earth's Best use lactose instead of sucrose, despite the fact that the costs of organic lactose has risen in recent years. A closer look at Earth's Best product information cites its use of organic lactose.
10. Mocktails - if I can't really drink, at least I can pretend
9. BCM always fills gift bags with samples galore and goodies that Sustainababe would never pony up the cash for
8. Dr. William Sears ("America's Pediatrician") is speaking
7. Dr. Sears' wife Martha is also attending - I'm possibly more interested to meet her since she was the one who birthed 7 of their 8 children!
6. Free Books! (I'm a closeted librarian)
5. Meeting other expectant moms
4. Stoneyfield is sponsoring the event - a truly authentic, eco-friendly company
3. BCM is giving away prizes from Skip*Hop, Bugaboo, Baby Legs and many other brands
2. Did I mention the free swag?
1. I'm not sure if Tenjune is still considered a hot spot, but I'm pretty sure this is the only way I'll ever get in.
For more information click on the invite below:
Friday, May 16, 2008
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
No, today, I'm deliberating on whether or not to have a baby shower. I know it seems trivial as families in China are suffering after the massive earthquake and families here in the States are struggling to pay for groceries as the cost of gas and food rises. Trust me, I recognize my problems are petty in comparison. But I literally woke up at 4 a.m. the other night in a panic that I might be missing out on one of the more ceremonial aspects of a first-time pregnancy. (Readers, I don't think I've shared that I'm currently 32 weeks pregnant and about 8 weeks away from my due date, so I don't have bundles of time left.)
My family lives 3,000 miles away and my closest friends live in Florida, California and a host of states sandwiched in between, so there was not an obvious person to throw one for us.
Plus my newbie mama friends keep telling me that they received tons of stuff they couldn't use.
Plus I thought anyone reading this blog might think it a little counterintuitive.
But I digress. Two of my dear NYC friends offered to throw the Babe and I a little soiree. While at first I couldn't get the visions of onesies and blankets out of my head, I acquiesced. Who said a shower has to be about the stuff at all? It should just be a time to be surrounded by those that you care about most. And I'll take a dose of that any day.
Monday, May 12, 2008
I have not been so overwhelmed by a shopping experience since I bought a prom dress. We started in the stroller section because we figured this was the car buying experience we never have in the city. A nice enough guy tried to help us but everytime I asked him to show us some options he kept directing us to the Quinny. I didn't recognize the name among the sea of Maclarens that are peddled around the Upper East Side, and they clearly weren't as cool as the Bugaboos because they weren't as expensive as a real car. All we knew we wanted was something compact (could it fold up and fit in the closet?), something that would survive our marathon walks around the city (big wheels? suspension?) AND light enough to take on the subway (taxis be damned!). Oh and something safe (of course). Nothing seemed to work. I suspect that most Manhattanites have the same needs, but I've heard that many have multiple strollers for different purposes. This was never going to work in our little pod of an apartment.
After much consideration, we're considering the following options:
1. Breaking down a buying a Bugaboo Frog (we tested out a friend's and the smooth ride through Central Park terrain was impressive)
2. Just using a Baby Jogger (advice welcome on this one)
3. Not buying one at all! (another friend offered us her very gently used Snap n' Go and car seat to get us few the first couple of months. Our most sustainable option yet!)
Expect frequent updates to this section of the blog because we are completely on the fence about this.
Now originally this post was supposed to be about the whole Babies R Us experience but clearly it was too overwhelming for one text box. To be continued ...
First, work got crazy and I realized that I couldn't both work and be really pregnant. So I sort of ignored being pregnant for a few days, told myself I really should blog but I don't have time. I still took my prenatal vitamins and all that, but I wasn't consumed by pregnancy every waking second. Then I got so ragged from work that I realized I couldn't really learn how to be a mother in the next few months and be so consumed by work. It's a perennial question, but I have been wrestling with how to do it all. (Ugh, it sounds more cliche reading it in my own words!) Not even do it ALL but to have these two lives.
From the time I was a little girl I wanted to be a stay at home mom (we call then SAHMs in the web 2.0 world right?) and have lots of babies. Then I got a bit deeper into my career and loved it and thought maybe I'm too selfish to have kids at all. Then my husband started talking about kids and I couldn't picture him not having them, and I found that person inside. It was like discovering an old friend.
But now I'm in this place where I have one foot in both lives and finding it really precarious. I got too scared to write. As much as I've been enjoying watching my belly grow, I was a bit too eager to get to the next phase of all this so I could see how my life had worked itself out.
Then my friend said something this weekend that I've been thinking about. She said that people should just be happy with what they have, not always be wanting the next best thing. She was talking about material things, but it struck me that I am constantly fixated on the next chapter that I forget to live in the moment. (How is that for another cliche?)
I hope I can learn to embrace this scary, joyous part of being a little bit in two worlds instead of worry about figuring it all out. I'm working on it.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
I'm currently 5 months pregnant and live in a ~525 square foot Manhattan studio. The moment I found out I was pregnant the first thought that occurred to me was not what kind of parent will I be? but where the heck am I going to put all that stuff??? I looked around at our serene, unadorned little corner of the Upper East Side and got myself on the next train to Westchester in search of more space.
You learn a lot about yourself and your spouse as you prepare to bring a new life into the world. So far I've learned I'm actually happier with less. Living in a small home seems (to me, at least) to make life a little less complicated.
This blog hopes to be an exploration of this new reality in which we'll attempt to do more with less, or at least be more mindful of the things we do acquire.
Big plastic toys? No thank you. Hello, biodegradable diapers!