Sunday, January 31, 2016

The best of times. The worst of times. (Life with 3-year olds)

I don't know about your 3-year old, but with our 3-year old, everything is either the BEST or the WORST.  There is no middle of the road.  

For example

We didn't light the pink Advent candle.  The WORST  (yes, I started writing this in December and am just finishing it now). 

Mom and I are both wearing pink shirts. The BEST

I didn't get milk in the pink cup.  The WORST

I found my favorite kitty sweater. The BEST

My banana broke. THE WORST

My favorite pink dress is out of the wash.  The BEST

Mom won't let me watch any more episodes of Daniel Tiger's Neighbhorhood.  The WORST

I get to go on a walk and sit in the stroller in the freezing cold. The BEST

There is one itsy bitsy, teensy, weensy, tiny brown spot on my banana.  The WORST

The hair on the top of my head is brown. The BEST 

See brown!  How exciting!!

Someone is looking at me. The WORST

I'm wearing my fancy pink dress.  THE BEST.

Mommy went downstairs withtout me.  That's mean.  THE ABSOLUTE WORST

I get to close the door.  THE BEST

Mommy went to the bathroom without me.  I've been abandanoned.  Any minute wild wolves may come get me.  THE WORST OF THE WORST

We get ice cream.  THE BEST OF THE BEST

No one is doing what I want them to this VERY SECOND.  THE WORST, WORST, WORST, WORST, WORST THING EVER. 

That's a picture of me!!  THE BEST, BEST, BEST. 

Do you have numerous bests and worsts in your days?  Do share!

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Friday, January 22, 2016

7 Pregnancy Rules to Keep and Break

I've been thinking lately about pregnancy rules to keep or break. 

This is a stock photo.  Not me. I have never had long, blond hair.

Some moms seem to obsessively keep all the rules and worry about everything.  No deli meat, no brie, no alcohol, no roller coasters, no medicine, no herbs, no heavy exercise, no hot tubs, no cat care, etc., etc.

Other moms seems to throw caution to the wind and continue on their normal life.

Me...I'm somewhere in the middle.

Here is a list of the rules of rules I do or do not keep during pregnancy.  I try to look at everything with a risk/benefit analysis and understand the reason behind the recommendation and then make a decision going from there. 

1). Rollarcoasters:  I don't ride them...ever.  I wouldn't ride a rollarcoaster non-pregnant, so, I never really worried about that rule.  Plus, I think the last time I was at an amusement park was back in 2010, there are not places I frequent with any sort of frequency.    The concern with rollarcoasters is that jarring and sudden movements could cause placental abruption (which is very serious).   From what I have read, there haven't really been studies showing that rollarcoasters cause harm, but also no studies showing they are safe.  The concern is more theoretical.  That said....placental abruption can occur with hard jolts or stops (such as in a car accident).   Personally, I never gave much thought to them because I hate them anyway. So, I'm not sure what I would do if I actually liked the things and actually went to amusement parks. 

2.) Deli Meat, Unpasteurized Cheese, Raw Eggs:    The concern here is the risk of food poisoning, which can be very serious while pregnant.  If the bacteria gets into the bloodstream and crosses the placenta, it can cause miscarriage, stillbirth and other horrible things.   Personally, I don't risk it.  I don't eat those foods with any sort of frequency anyway and I don't find it that difficult to avoid them.  And I do think the risk is great enough to take some precautions.   I actually think food poisoning is more common than we think, it's just that most of the time it's pretty mild...maybe a slight stomach-ache, mild diarrhea, just a slight disturbance but nothing we really notice or realize that is food poisoning.  So, I do try to take some care, although I have been known to still eat a tiny bit of raw cookie dough. That's a hard habit to break!

3). Alcohol and Caffeine:  Pregnant or non-pregnant, I only drink the occasional glass of wine (like once every few months).  So I continue drinking the occasional glass of wine.  Alcohol is one of those things that has to have a cumulative effect to be harmful.  You have to drink A LOT of it to have any harmful effects. 

I rarely drink anything with caffeine anyway, so I never worried about avoiding it while pregnant.  I definitely think it is one of those things where the effect is cumulative, so I only drink it occasionally, I still only drink it occasionally.  I do eat chocolate however on a more than occasional basis.  So, I do get some caffeine that way. 

4). Cat Care:  The concern with cat care is the risk of toxoplasmosis which can be transferred from cats to human via their feces.   You can also pick it up from gardening or working with dirt, so it's not just cats.  I have read that about 1/3 of all American woman are immune to this, after having previous exposure.  If you have previous exposure, you wouldn't really know as it generally doesn't cause symptoms.   I've been around cats most of my life, have worked at farms and vet's offices, so I figure I have a good chance of already being immune.

Furthermore, indoor cats that don't go outside also have a low risk of toxoplasmosis.  Unlike our old bad cat that used to sneak out all the time, our new, good cat never tries to go outside.

Even furthermore, it takes 1-5 days for the bacteria in the feces to become infectious, so daily cleaning reduces the risk even more.  

So with all that in mind,  I clean my cat's litter box with careless abandon.  Well, not careless abandon, I do take care to wash my hands, but also if I didn't clean it, I don't think anyone else would.  

5). Hot Tubs: The concern here is if the body temperature is raised above 102 degrees, it could be dangerous. That actually makes sense.  And I have no idea why anyone would want to get hot enough to actually experience hyperthermia.  That just doesn't seem like fun to me.  This is quite different from a hot bath.  A hot bath you take at home isn't going to be nearly as hot as an actual hot tub and isn't going to actually raise your core body temperature.  

6). Exercise/Hard Work:   From everything I've read, most healthy women should remain active during pregnancy and keep up their normal level of activity as much as they can.  So, I do.  I basically do everything physically I did before pregnancy.   It's really not that easy to hurt a baby from physical activity.  It would take actual hard, jarring movement (like in a car crash or severe fall), not just regular activity like running, jumping, carrying a toddler, shoveling snow or mowing the lawn.  That whole Scarlet O'Hara fall scene.  That's fiction.   Probably one shouldn't try to lift up cars or do anything they wouldn't normally do, but I do believe regular activity is beneficial and good.  So, I still do interval training, ab exercise, core exercise, strength training.  Nothing crazy...just moderate exercises to comfort.   I'm not one of those people who is always pushing themselves or likes to feel like they are dead after exercising, but I do like to remain active.   I'm a firm believer in the importance of regular exercise throughout pregnancy. I definitely think it makes for an easier labor and birth.  My hardest birth was definitely the one I was least active during that pregnancy and my easiest one was the one where I was regularly walking about 6 miles a day up to delivery. 

7) Herbs/Vitamins/Nutritional Supplements/Medications:  If I think a nutritional supplement, herb or vitamin will be helpful, I don't automatically discount taking it just because the bottle says to consult your doctor if you are pregnant.   Instead I do research, read up on it and talk with a doctor or midwife, but I don't automatically discount something just because it hasn't been extensively tested on pregnant woman.  Of course its a risk/ benefit analysis, just like everything.

Medications: For the most part, I avoid taking medications (like Tylenol, cold medications) pregnant or not.   IF I do occasionally take something, I just consult that handy little list I got from the OB/midwife office.   But, I also think you need to use common sense.  There is a difference between taking one dose of Tylenol every few months and taking frequently it twice a week.

Bonus:   Cell Phones/Microwaves/Computers/Paint/Cleaning Supplies:   I think this is one where you need to use common sense.  Pregnant or not, I don't keep cell phones on my body, always off my body, like in a purse.  Which is why if you call me, I might not hear it.  Sorry.  I don't use a laptop on my lap.  Pregnant or not, I avoid exposure to paint and toxic cleaning supplies.  I don't spray Lysol all over the house, I'm certainly not about to paint and I usually clean with just water and vinegar (or just water).   Germ-a-phobe I am not.   I don't do anything special while pregnant to avoid toxic chemicals/radiation, etc.  I just try to avoid it all the time.  I definitely do not think that small exposure is harmful......I think this is more a dose-dependent thing.  Occasional painting is completely different than if you have a job painting houses. 

So, reading through this list, I guess the summary is that about the only thing I do different while pregnant is I do avoid certain foods with an increased risk of food poisoning.   Otherwise I do pretty much the same as usual....take care of the cat, workout, and avoid too many chemicals. 

Linking up for 7QTF
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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Natural Ways to Increase Fertility and an Announcement

So, the reason this blog has been so quiet lately is apparently the same reason all Catholic moms blogs go quiet.  It's hard to blog when you can barely stay awake past 8 PM.  I don't really get morning sickness...just occasional mild nausea (don't hate me...I know it's terrible for people who have it), but I do feel quite a bit more tired. 

EDD Aug. 7, 2016.
Seeing as how my youngest is over 3....I think everyone was a bit surprised. 

I'm not a doctor or anything (obviously) but in my experience, fertility seems to run on a scale.  One the one end, you have people who are known as hyperfertile, people who seem to get pregnant super, super easily.  On the other end, you have people who are infertile. 

And then you have everyone else in the middle.  And lots of times people move on the scale....between fertility and infertility or subfertility. 

Lots of mothers (myself included) experience some form of breastfeeding infertility, which is completely normal and doesn't require anything more than time and patience because all babies cut back on their breastfeeding and wean....eventually.

However, even outside of breastfeeding infertility, many couples seem to experience something called subfertilty.   They don't get pregnant easily, but sometimes with a few changes, pregnancy is possible.  There may just one or two easily correctable issues preventing pregnancy.

I'm not a doctor, and a lot of these issues probably need a doctor's diagnosis (preferably one trained in NFP who can read charts).  However, I can share things I have read about or that have worked for me.   

Maybe they will help someone else. 

1.  Perfect Timing. This should be obvious to anyone using NFP, but timing really is everything.  EVERYTHING.  And the easiest and most accurate way to achieve perfect timing is to use an ovulation predictor test and when it's positive...THAT's the day. You can find them very inexpensively online..  I've been married 15 years, and have never had a viable pregnancy result from any relations outside of that one day (or possibly the day after). Which means that I really only have a 1-2 day window each month.  That's short, so if you don't want to miss it, an ovulation prediction test is key.  

They are also really useful is you are trying to avoid pregnancy as they can pinpoint when ovulation occurred.  Personally, I think cheap ovulation predictor tests are an important tool for anyone looking to chart or track their fertility closely. 

2. Evening Primose Oil.  Evening primrose oil is said to increase the quantity and quality of  mucous.  This is important because if there isn't enough mucous or if it is too hostile, the sperm can't survive.  The dose is 3-4 grams/day taken from day 1 though ovulation day of the cycle.  You aren't supposed to take it after ovulation has already occurred.   It does seem to work and for anyone having trouble conceiving, it seems like a simple enough thing to try.  

3. Vitex.  Also known as chasteberry.  This helps balance your hormones....especially estrogen and progesterone.  It does not contain hormones itself, it simply helps balance them.  Even outside of trying to conceive, vitex is frequently taken to help with things like PMS or irregular cycles. 

4. Zinc This is something that both the man and woman need to take.  Zinc is important for sperm quality and mobility and for egg quality.  It is said that zinc can help prevent miscarriages....I believe this is because zinc deficiency can cause low quality sperm/egg which can lead to miscarriage.  Also, it is said that zinc helps balance hormones.  Of course with zinc supplementation you need to be careful to balance it with copper since zinc depletes the body of copper, it's something you don't want to take too much of, so consult your doctor. 

5. Astaxanthin. This is a very powerful antioxidant and one study showed that men who take this had improved sperm motility and morphology. 

6. I also recommend the book Fertility, Cycles and Nutrition., written by Marilyn Shannon (who I know personally and have been to her house. :).  It's a good book with lots of very helpful information. 

I'm not a doctor and this is not medical advice. Please do your own research and consult your physician.  I'm hoping this post can merely start as a jumping point and give you some ideas of maybe things to research and consider.

There are obviously lots of issues that can cause infertility and subfertility and these suggestions only touch on on a few, but I thought I would share, because maybe someone else will find this information useful. 

*This post contains affiliate links. If you buy through my links (anything) I get a few pennies. 
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Saturday, January 2, 2016

Favorite Posts of 2015

One of my "goals" for the New Year is to blog just a tad more regularly.  I'd call it a resolution but my only resolution is not to make New Years's resolutions.  So I'm calling it a goal instead.

Enter the super easy-peasy, most popular/favorite posts of 2015 post.  Linking up with Like Mother, Like Daughter for this one and 7 Quick Takes Friday. 

So, here are my 7 favorite posts of 2015 in no particular order.

(Sorry no picture.  You have to click to see the video). 

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