Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mind Your Own Birth

No two births are the same. This is true if you are comparing your birth to previous births or to those of other moms. And guess what? That’s OK. There are many different choices to be made when giving birth and (this may come as a surprise) there is not one superior “best” way to labor and deliver a baby. Choices such as whether to choose an OBGYN or midwife, whether to get an epidural or not, or even whether or not to have a vaginal delivery or C-section should be made by the people who they affect the most.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sometimes, another Mom is what you need

Friends for life: Nadia and Jeremiah Bowman, Ann and Austin Kopp, Rosa and Jonathan Juarez
When Ann Kopp was six months pregnant, her doctor noticed little Austin was measuring about 4 weeks behind. She was shocked to learn that her blood pressure was sky high and that he wasn’t moving around as much as he was supposed to be.

“This was our first pregnancy so we didn’t know much about what to expect and how much he should be moving,” Ann, a Burleson resident, said.

She was admitted to Texas Health Harris Methodist Fort Worth and placed on bed rest. Everything seemed to move so quickly after that, she said. Further testing showed high levels of protein in her urine which meant her kidneys were shutting down. Staying pregnant meant big risks for both Mom and baby, so four days after being admitted she was scheduled for a C-section delivery.  

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Baby Years are Over

As I write this, my daughter H. is in her last week of daycare. She is on her way to camp in a couple of weeks and then on to kindergarten.

My friends are concerned. "It must be so sad to see her grow up!"

Um. No.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Cherishing milestones

Recently, my daughter made her First Holy Communion, a major milestone in the Catholic faith and like many other Catholic families, we witnessed a beautiful church ceremony and then went home to celebrate with all of our family members and close friends. 

After everyone had gone home, I sat (for the first time that day) and reviewed all the moments that had made the day so special. My thoughts repeatedly led me back to my own mother and how this day would not have been as special without her. Going through this process, as a parent this time, really opened my eyes to all the sacrifices my mom made for me and my siblings to ensure that we were properly prepared for this milestone.

Friday, May 25, 2012

From Baby John to Mr. Independent

I'm not sure where my baby went, but I have it on good authority from several of my friends that the small toddler-type person roaming my house this day is NOT a baby, and therefore can't possibly be mine.

It just seems like a few days - not an actual 14 months - that we brought this little guy home who needed us for everything.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The best gifts

I love surprises, and I love gifts.  According to the book "The Five Love Languages" by Dr. Gary Chapman, admittedly I must say that “receiving gifts” is very high on my love language list.  It’s not about the expense, though.  It’s truly about the creativity and the thought that goes behind the gift.  Frankly, gifts from kids are the absolute best!

Not only do I like to get gifts, but I love to give them.  Since the birth of my children, my goal has been to create something special from them to Daddy for every occasion:  birthday, Father’s Day, Christmas, etc.  I generally give a store-bought from me, but the kids always make or do something special.  And for a husband whose love language is not "receiving gifts," the homemade kind absolutely melt his heart.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Motherhood and migraines

I have long looked forward to being a mom – for so many reasons – one of which, I must admit, is quite selfish.

I have battled migraines for 25 years.  Several years ago, my primary care physician told me that almost all of his female patients who suffered from migraines stopped having them altogether after having babies.  It had something to do, he hypothesized, with the hormonal changes during and after pregnancy.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Gender and medicine

Mrs. Z. N. had been having a very difficult year. She had lost her son and was feeling lonely and very anxious. One Saturday afternoon, she became extremely short of breath and tired.

She was having severe chest pains to the point she thought she was having a heart attack. Her family took her to the hospital. After many tests, she was diagnosed with stress cardiomyopathy, or broken heart syndrome.

Broken heart syndrome has been increasingly recognized in the U.S. and the rest of the world as a condition affecting mostly women. Patients present with symptoms of a heart attack, in spite of having normal coronary arteries. This condition is usually brought on by intense physical or emotional stress. It is possible that a sudden surge in adrenaline causes spasm in the smallest blood vessels supplying the heart. However, most patients will recover completely if given appropriate medical care.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The 'ear tube' conversation

I feel like more than half of my blog entries have had something to do with germs or sickness. I promise that parenting has been a more rewarding experience for me that this, but for some reason when time rolls around for me to write we are always dealing with a new health issue.

We are just a few days removed from the eradication of ear infection number five. And, as I’m sure many new parents are aware, that fifth ear infection holds special power. After that one you get to have the infamous “ear tube” conversation with your doctor.  Following the formula of a Tarantino movie I have now partially revealed the end of this story, so let’s go back.

Friday, May 18, 2012

No more junk drawer!

Ever get the feeling like there's not enough time to do everything you want or need to do? When you look around your house, are there piles of piles of piles? (Purposefully arranged, of course!) As busy, hard-working, fun-loving people, it's easy to put organizing your home on the back burner. But when I realized that life could feel more at peace when our home was more orderly, my husband and I decided to team up to tackle one project at a time. This week? The Junk Drawer...

I admit, as much as I was dreading this task, it was a lot less cumbersome than I thought. After sorting all the items in the drawer (old birthday candles, employment pins from when Matt was an entertainer at a local amusement park, a rainbow of highlighters and markers...even an unused cigar in a wrapper that my Dad gave me for my 21st birthday!), I pitched about half its contents and salvaged a myriad of useable writing utensils and notepads. I even found some treasures I didn't know we had!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Can I skip the rice cereal?

At Jake’s four month doctor appointment, our family physician asked a question that caught me off guard: “have you started feeding him solids yet?”

Uh…what? I was operating under the assumption that exclusively feeding breast milk for six months was okay, even recommended. (Turns out it’s anytime between four and six months of age, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics).

My doctor said we could start trying to introduce solid foods any time after four months of age, starting with rice cereal mixed with breast milk or formula.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

One-on-one is the way to go

One evening my husband and I were having dinner with a colleague and his wife and we were talking about parenting. This colleague (a father of two) told me that the best advice he could give me as a parent was to date my child. At the time it was a little surprising to me. Here in front of me sat a senior level executive telling me he has scheduled weekly one-on-one dates with his teenage daughter.  I sat in awe as he described his dates of clothes shopping, museum viewing, and hunting at the farmers’ market. Awesome, I thought!  As my children grow, I now see the importance of this myself. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Mother's love

On May 12, 2012, Herbert Marx turned 78 years old. Had it not been for his mother, Selma Marx, Herbert may not have lived past the age of 6.

That’s how old he was when German soldiers came to the house in Karlsruhe, Germany, where he lived with his mother, three aunts and grandmother. The soldiers took them from their home with only the clothes that they were wearing and packed them into a dark train compartment with other Jews.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Thank you, Mom!

When I was a little girl, my Mom was my hero. We played "elephant" in the yard, using leaves picked from our Elephant Ear plants. While she made clothes for my little brother and me, she taught me how to sew clothes for my dolls. I also remember that her nose was often in a book - and therefore she instilled a love of reading within me, which she nurtures still today.

As an adult, my Mom is still my hero. And she's my best girlfriend and confidant - someone I can always turn to for advice and to laugh with. She's a talented artist, an excellent cook and an eloquent writer. (Recently, she wrote a children's book that was inspired by my son, Dylan!)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Being Mom on Mother's Day

Being Mom comes in so many different forms. For me, it’s being Stepmom to a sweet 12-year-old and now, this Mother's Day, also being Mom to a 6-month-old son.

Adding a new baby has stirred up my life in so many ways – there’s more chaos, more joy, more responsibility, more love, more self-imposed expectations and more laughs than ever before. And the days rush by in the blink of an eye.

To me, Mother’s Day means stopping and freezing for a moment in time, hitting the pause button on our hectic lives and appreciating and cherishing one another exactly as we are today -- because we will never, ever be 29, 12, and 6 months old again. For me it's about celebrating the whole family, with Mom as a lynchpin.

We asked some Moms to talk about what Mother's Day means to them or what their best Mother's Day was like, and here's what they said:

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Babies do some quirky things

When it comes to parents describing their children and those similarities to themselves, some use the phrase, “spitting image.” I’m waiting for the day when I can proudly say that about my baby girl. But until then, I’ll just embrace some of her quirky habits, because she gets a lot of them from me.

Our little munchkin is such a little lady; at least that’s how my husband sometimes describes her. Mostly, she’s simply, “Daddy’s little angel,” no matter how she’s acting. In any case, every time she eats her meals (and sometimes while she’s nestled in our laps), she’ll cross her lower legs together. I do the exact same thing, and didn’t even realize it until my husband pointed it out to me. And then when she really likes a meal, she’ll start humming and moving her foot (or feet) up and down, left to right. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I do the exact same thing when I eat a scrumptious meal.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What a difference a vacation makes

Too often I put vacations on the back burner. But after my recent trip to Spain I’m thinking that a middle ground is needed.

Let me give a bit of background for why I hoard my days. My work doesn’t give set vacation days each year – it’s all done by accumulated paid time off. And that PTO covers everything so I’m stingy with its usage, much more than I ever was at previous jobs with benefits that were less pooled. At first it was building up time off for our wedding. Then it was rebuilding time to hopefully someday soon take a reasonable maternity leave. I work holidays most Texans have off to try to build a solid bank of time.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Healthy Cereals for Kids

Do you get confused when cruising down the cereal aisle? One cereal package carries the claim "helps prevent heart disease" and another flaunts a "low sugar" claim loud and clear. But reading the fine print to discover which is best can literally take all day. To save you time, money (and sanity), here is easy nutrition criteria to keep in mind when choosing the right cereal for you and your family.

Each serving should contain:
At least 16 g whole grains (16g equals one serving of whole grains) or at least have a whole grain as the first ingredient
Low in sugar (10g or less)
Be a good source of fiber (3g per serving)
Free of artificial colors and dyes.

Monday, May 7, 2012

13 Weeks and Baby is it Hot Outside!

I am officially in my second trimester…woo hoo!  Well, let’s hold off on the hoo for now.  My nausea is much better, but not completely gone.  The slightest thing can get it going; from bad breath (my own), to just thinking about eating chicken, beef, or pork.  It is the grain of the actual meat that sends me heaving.  Shred it up or grind it up and we have a party!

Now let’s talk about this heat.  I do realize I am not the first pregnant person to go through this heat, but it certainly feels like it!  You see, my son plays for a local sport’s youth team, and wanted anything more than to have his birthday party at one of their games this year.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The best laid plans

We all make plans for our days off…get laundry done, run errands, play soccer. I planned on going to an outdoor movie this weekend. I packed a picnic dinner and a blanket and walked over to the park. I sat for a while, enjoying the weather, watching the rain clouds in the distance, and waiting for the movie to start… it never did. The recorded message alerted me “Cancelled due to the weather.”

When I was a little girl, I planned to become a professional softball player, an astronaut, and the first woman president. To this day my mother loves to remind me how adamant I was that I would make this happen. Life has a funny way of molding and re-adjusting the plans we have in childhood…playing high school softball and bossing my little brother around is as close as I got to those plans.

Birth is another part of life that people plan for. Informally, couples whisper about what they will name their baby, who they might look like, who will hold him/her first, who will cut the umbilical cord. Over the years, a formal tool has been developed for couples planning their birth… the “Birth Plan.” By simply Googling these two words, over 90,000,000 results pop up. There are websites, and templates, and suggestions for phrases to be included. The resources for birth plans seem endless. And just as every member of my family had a suggestion (and theirs was the best suggestion) about what I should be when I grew up, there is an endless supply of “experts” ready and willing to tell you what your birth should be like.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Lawn mower safety

There’s an old saying: the grass may be greener on the other side of the fence, but you still have to mow it!  I remember as a kid, when Daddy was out mowing the yard, everyone was out in the yard doing something…it was like a lawn party!  That is, until one of my school mates got an eye put out while in the yard with HIS Dad mowing.  The lawn party was over!

Lawn mower accidents are quite common at this time of year, and account for a large percentage of accidental partial or complete amputations.  The energy transferred by a lawn mower blade is equivalent to being shot in the hand with a .357 Magnum pistol – dirt and bacteria can be embedded in a wound creating a high risk for infection.  Also, metal and wood can be ejected up to 100 mph, making debris a flying missile.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Experiences through your child

This past weekend I experienced something new and AMAZING as my daughter, Morgan, participated in her first ballet/dance performance.

A little history: my husband and I were blessed with a sweet and true girly girl in the fall of 2007.  Already at four years old she is of all things pink, dresses, sparkles, glitter and nail polish which is unfamiliar territory to this Mommy as I was a tomboy who would have rather been building mud pies and trying to climb a tree.

Morgan has been in ballet/dance class for about a year and a half and this past weekend was the spring performance recital where her class (the youngest group of girls) performed in front of large audience at the Eisemann Center. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

It's all about perspective

When my OB/GYN said, "maybe we should refer you to a fertility specialist," I was devastated. I made it out of the office without sobbing, but it's not an easy thing to hear.

I'd felt for a while that the conversation was coming, and it was a sensitive topic for me. Recently, I went to dinner with a friend, who knew we’d been trying. After some small talk, she bombarded me with questions. “Aren’t you worried? OMG! What if something is wrong? Have you been checked out? Do you think you’re infertile?”