Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Bucket Full of Nerves!

The only time I have been away from Buddy since he was born was for 1 night when I went to Ohio State to run the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) on some samples for my research. I was nursing him 2-3 times a day at the time so I pumped once and brought home just a couple of ounces. I missed him terribly despite being incredibly busy the entire time in the lab.

I applied for a spot in a program in Alabama in June that would last 10 days. That would be 10 days away from Buddy (and The Hubs too, but I've been away for conferences before so he's fine). 10 days without nursing, which we still do before bed, usually 1-2 times during the night and again in the morning. Although it can be frustrating at times, I'm not ready for Buddy to ween and I don't think he is either.

It is a competitive program so who knows if I'll even get in, but I'm a little nervous about it if I do. I've never been away from Buddy for that long and I'm afraid I'm going to miss him so much that I won't have fun at the workshop. I'm afraid my milk is going to dry up and won't have anything for him when I return. I'm afraid he's going to want to ween because he won't have the option of nursing for a whole week and a half. I'm also a little nervous about being there on Shabbat. I can't work on Shabbat; no driving in cars, turning on lights, writing. Saturday is the day they designate as the free day so I am really hoping they allow me to go to a local place to spend Friday night through Saturday. I assume there is a Chabad or Orthodox shul close by, it is Birmingham, Alabama. All of that makes me sad to be away and nervous that my little guy will be all grown up and not want our bonding time any more.

There are so many positives to this program. It's about carbon capture, utilization and storage, the topic of my dissertation. I would learn so much about the industry, the economics, health and safety concerns, mineralization, geochemistry, public awareness, technical aspects of the technology, etc. So many amazing people from the field are in charge of it. Knowing them, having them there to ask questions and have discussions with would be absolutely amazing. Seeing a rig and how they plan on injecting the CO2 into the ground would be an awesome opportunity.  Learning about careers in the field and where the field is going, here and abroad, would be incredible.

I write about the subject and it ignites this passion inside of me. I love learning and discovering and I want to help the planet. I really want to go! I just wish I could take my guys with me. They'd allow me to put Buddy in my Boba and carry him along, right?

What About the Partner After Childbirth?

I had a pretty uneventful pregnancy and childbirth (I'll write that post eventually). Labor was long, really long. Contractions started in the middle of the day Saturday, were consistently about 3-4 minutes apart by early Sunday morning and I didn't give birth until Monday evening. All without a single drug of any kind, little sleep and not much to eat. At least not that stayed where it was supposed to stay. The Hubs was there the whole time. Making sure I had food if I needed it. Making sure I was comfortable and remembered my breathing techniques. I think he watched some baseball, but you'd have to ask him. There may have well not been a TV in my room because I was focused and don't remember that. He has his own side of the story.

I asked The Hubs how he was doing. During my labor he kept saying he was fine, just tired. At some point he got a headache and wasn't feeling great, which I was vaguely aware of, but he stayed by my side. I think he mentioned a couple of times that he didn't like to see me in pain. Frankly, I didn't feel that much pain during most of my labor. My amazing Hypnobirthing instructor Joyce made sure I had the tools to get through it.

But what about The Hubs? A recent study out of the University of Oxford suggests partners need some support too. At least after difficult births. It was a small study, just 10 participants, but it highlights something that almost no one asks. How does the partner fair after watching the mother in pain or the new baby going through so much stress to make it out healthy and alive? Reading a few websites that have commented on this study, many people complain it's ridiculous. "Make them go into combat and see what it feels like to really have something to develop PTSD!" "This is why men shouldn't be in the delivery room and don't have babies!" "Anything to over diagnose the real issue of PTSD!" They say the woman often doesn't have the same issue during complicated childbirth because she is often drugged or unconscious. So should we pay attention to the father or just tell him to suck it up and get over himself?

My labor was fairly uneventful. The nurses and midwives (yeah, I went through 2 shifts) didn't even know when I had a contraction because I went deep into my head, relaxed and didn't make a sound. But still, The Hubs was so worried about me being in pain and going through this event where I pushed out a living human being. For me it was one of the most amazing times of my life. That's how I felt then and that's how I feel now. But I knew how I felt, he didn't really. I knew that my body was doing what it needed to do. The Hubs felt helpless and scared and wished he could do more than just be there for moral support. So what about the husbands and dads and partners who have to watch the mother of their child go through very scary emergency procedures? I can only imagine what they must feel.

Let's give those dads a break. While attending to the new mother, ask the partner how he is feeling. Maybe they need a little support too. And this is coming from a mom so I can say how much support I need after actually giving birth and can let some of that go to make sure my partner gets what he needs too. Having 2 healthy parents is much better for the new baby than having one close off his feelings.

My Baby is a Big Boy!

I knew potty learning, especially this young, is a moving target, but last week I thought Buddy was done with all of it. He had been getting so good at using the potty at home and at daycare. He started coming home with just 1 miss all day. Then last week he came home with all misses. He would sit on the potty for 15 minutes, singing and talking to his teacher, but wouldn't go. Then he'd come back to the classroom and 5 minutes later peed in his pants. After about a week of this I thought maybe he wanted a break and started thinking about bringing back out the diapers. I tried my best over the weekend to be diligent about taking him to the potty and making him comfortable. He did ok. I was so proud of him after walking to shul on Shabbat after not going for well over an hour, we made it there dry! After hanging up our coats, I took him directly to the bathroom and he used the potty without a fuss! The rest of the day at home didn't go as well.

Monday was much the same, but then Buddy decided he wanted to continue and came home Tuesday with just 1 miss and Wednesday didn't miss all day! Now a miss is a better way of saying accident. An accident applies that the child did something wrong. A miss just means they didn't get it in the place we were aiming. It may seem like a slight difference, but for some kids, using nicer language helps them not feel badly about not doing what they otherwise may feel like they are supposed to do. Using the kindest language possible means we take all the pressure off and Buddy can learn at his pace.

So we're doing pretty well with potty learning. Some days Buddy tells us more often and others we just have to take him and ask him to go. It's still progress and The Hubs and I are so proud of Buddy for sticking with it. We're also really enjoying the fact that it no longer hurts Buddy to urinate.

Being Vegan Isn't All That Bad

While life is always crazy with a toddler and PhD research, things are finally getting back to the normal kind of crazy so I think it is about time I give some updates!

Going vegan has not been the hardest thing I've ever done. I do miss cheese and chocolate (even my cheap dark chocolate was dairy... I think. I was too afraid to look at the ingredients to know if I could buy any or not. I left it alone and will assume that little kosher designation with a "D" for dairy means I can't have it during my vegan days. Don't tell me otherwise.) Since the first few days started in the middle of the week after Passover and I was crazy getting everything ready for the last 2 days, I didn't plan well. I took my vegan friend's menu for the week and had vegan mac 'n' cheese one night and creamy broccoli soup with garlic bread for Shabbat.

Vegan mac 'n' "cheese" was not a big hit with my family. The Hubs walked in the house and announced something smells really bad! Little did he know, that was dinner...

Nutritional yeast does not go well with my family. The Hubs ate it to be nice, Buddy ate 1 noodle and was done with it. We do have an honesty policy with my cooking, so The Hubs did tell me he really did not like it and didn't want me to make it ever again. Fine. I wasn't a big fan either.

My creamy broccoli soup is always a hit. It always has been vegan (shhhh, The Hubs has always known it as non-dairy/pareve) so that didn't need any substitutes. I was short on time so made a very quick bread that was decent, but needed more flavor. 

That week and the next I had horrible headaches and was constantly hungry. I didn't plan well enough and just didn't have enough of the right foods to sustain me. I thought about eating the cheese and chocolate chip granola bars and other currently forbidden foods, but I refrained and stuck it out. Here we are, about 3 weeks in and I'm doing pretty well now.

This week's menu:
Sunday: Split pea soup - YUM!
Monday: Baked potatoes with scallions (and cheese for the boys) and creamy garlic broccoli made with my homemade chummos. - YUM!
Tuesday: Oat waffles - Decent, but needed the syrup and fresh blueberries to make it good.
Wednesday: Taco salad with brown rice, tomato, red bell pepper, corn, black beans with chili powder, onion, scallions, salsa, olives for The Hubs and Buddy, who forgot to put his cheese on and still loved dinner! and tomato for Buddy and me. - YUM!
Thursday: Veggie pot pie - We'll see how this turns out. The Hubs has asked for pot pie since we got married and I have never made it. Hopefully this one is a hit!
Friday: Veggie stir fry (broccoli, corn, bell pepper, onion and whatever other veggies I find) and egg rolls with chocolate zucchini bread for dessert.

I take leftovers for lunch the next day.

I have also been working on getting to bed earlier. So instead of midnight, I've gotten to bed before 11 on most nights. I don't know if it's the sleep or the diet, but I do have more energy on most days.

I only have a few more weeks of this and am thinking about the changes I want to keep. I'll most likely add cheese back into my diet, but I'm thinking I'll stick to only once a week. I am also going to keep away from the snacky food The Hubs brings home - granola bars, chips, cookies (that he has so kindly started taking straight to work for a few months now, sometimes I don't even know he bought them!) and other pre-packaged junk. This does mean I'll have to stick with doing the grocery shopping since I make sure to bring home enough produce to last the week, but it'll be worth it to feel better.

As for weight loss? Nothing has changed at all.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sour Lemon Face!

There are so many pictures out there of kids giving funny faces after their parents offer them sour foods - lemons, limes, etc. I didn't want to do that to my little Buddy, so I resisted the temptation of that adorable picture.

The other day Buddy was on the chair next to me while I was drinking of cup of tea (it had gotten cold of course, does any mother get a hot cup of anything with a toddler around?) with a slice of lemon. Buddy insisted on trying my lemon, so I grabbed the camera and let him eat it. He did ask ever so nicely, over and over. This is the best he gave:

 And then he ate more. Several more bites and slurps, actually. Yes, my child likes lemons. I don't know why that surprises me, since he'll also chew a raw onion on occasion.

Monday, April 8, 2013

When Teaching a Necessary Skill Backfires

Kids don't know how to brush their teeth. It takes years of practice and then probably more years of actually realizing why they need to do it in order to get it done well. The Hubs and I are doing our best to instill this good habit in Buddy. We brush our teeth with him. We leave his toothbrush where he can reach it so he can brush whenever he feels like it. We even let him use our toothbrushes if he'd rather do that (which grosses me out and I always sterilize it afterward). We try to get in there and help him brush. But despite our best efforts, Buddy hates to get his teeth brushed. We'll continue on this path of encouragement, eventually teaching why it is so important to keep up with dental hygiene and hopefully Buddy won't have to spend too much time in a dentist's chair.

Neither of those are Buddy's toothbrush. 
He has 2 of his own but insists on using mommy's and daddy's.

Until then, I try to brush my teeth with Buddy as often as possible. I even taught him how to spit because he thinks it's funny. It's a necessary skill. When he actually does get toothpaste in a couple of years, he needs to know how to spit it out and not swallow it. Now Buddy is a proficient spitter. He climbs up on the toilet and watches me spit out my toothpaste and then I hold him over the sink so he can spit out his toothpaste water. He also spits in his hand. And spits on his food. And spits on my face. And spits on his toys. He thinks it's funny. I do not.

So how do I teach Buddy that he should spit out his toothpaste or the dirt he ate playing outside, but he shouldn't just spit because he thinks it's funny? That's a good question. So far I have been talking to him about how I don't like it when he spits on me. If he continues, I tell him I don't like it when he spits on me and I don't want to cuddle/wrestle/whatever with him if he is going to spit on me. It's his food so if he wants to spit on it and will still eat it, I'm not going to force that one to change right now. I do ask him if he likes to eat his food with spit on it. Maybe one of these days he will see that it's a little gross to eat food with spit on it, or maybe he'll always like it.

I want Buddy to have this skill for good dental hygiene later on, but for now, this little skill has been thrown back on my face. Literally.

The Strongest Woman I Know: My Mummum

My Mummum, my mom's mom and last remaining grandparent, fell and hit her head nearly 2 weeks ago. We were preparing to go see her in the middle of the week, but she started getting better so decided to wait until the weekend so we didn't have to miss work. The plan was to leave first thing Sunday morning, spend the day with her, possibly saying our last goodbye. But after Shabbat, I frantically called my sister after seeing multiple missed calls on my cell and 2 on the home phone. My Mummum had passed away during the day, a day before we were supposed to go see her.

 I never got to say goodbye. I didn't get to ask her what it was like to grow up during the Great Depression, to watch her brothers and husband go off to war, to raise 3 daughters and then 2 grandchildren. I only just started our conversations about cloth diapering, then and now. About my mom as a little girl. About raising her own chickens and growing their own food.

 She never received one of Buddy's really big hugs that he only gives to those he really cares about. She never heard him put 2 words together, let alone a 3-word sentence. She didn't get to see Buddy defy his parents, calculating his every move, get into her cabinets and make the messes I think she missed with her kids. They never got to sit and stare out the window, waiting for the bunnies, groundhog, squirrels, birds, deer and possibly the turkey or bears that would wander into her yard. Buddy loves watching for animals now. She'll never see him pee in the big potty or throw a ball in the backyard.

She'll never see her new great grandchild.

But I did get to share my childhood with her. To play badminton over her clothes line. To pick apples from her trees. To take a walk on her farm. To see her with her 3rd great grandchild. I got to see her yell at her daughter, my mom, for not letting us have pie before dinner.

Mummum was an amazing woman. She started taking college classes in her 70s. She learned how to paint, how to draw. She used water colors, acrylics and made 3D paintings with beads, layers of paint and other items she found around her house. She made a stained glass window, picked up making mosaics and wire work. She loved picking out precious gems to use in her latest jewelry. She had a health scare, started going to exercise classes and lost a bunch of weight. She felt amazing, her mind was sharp. She was driving at 90 and lived alone in the house she brought up her children in. She wanted to die in that house. And I guess she did. That house was her home and she said she wouldn't leave unless you dragged her out in a body bag. Her mind was sharp until the very end. She put everyone in their place and ruled like she knew she was the matriarch of the family. Because she was. And she did it better than anyone else could.

I'll miss my Mummum, but I am so glad I have my memories with her. Buddy will know her through the few pictures we have of them. Mummum's memory is a blessing, for all who knew this amazing woman.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

I'm Going Vegan!

I have always struggled with my weight. Ever since I can remember, I was one of the chubby kids. Not fat, by any means, but always a bit more round and curvy than my friends and others at school. The first time I remember really feeling bad about my body was at girl scout camp after 4th or 5th grade. One of the teen counselors was talking about cellulite and how gross it is. I seemed to be the only one there with the fat dimples on my thighs. At 9 or 10 I was already thinking about how gross my body is.

Throughout middle and high school I was compared to my older sister, the pretty one. By family, older classmates, people in school and youth group. That just made me feel worse about myself, starting a spiral of self consciousness, all of those comments making me feel fat and ugly.

Coming to college, getting away from the state in which I grew up, was supposed to be a fresh start. I had a rough beginning, but things got better quickly. A so-called friend from my high school youth group attended the same university. I had lunch with him and a friend of his one day, only to be compared to my pretty sister again and degraded like I was a piece of meat. Luckily, that friend of his saw what a jerk he was being and payed no attention. Over the next year, that friend of his started hanging out with me and my new friends more and more, building up my confidence, making me see how amazing I can be. That friend later became my husband and my biggest supporter.

Even though The Hubs is amazing and makes me feel like I'm priceless, I can't just shake those feelings that were ingrained in me from the time I was 10. I'm still working on being me and loving me. In the mean time, I work hard to make sure I eat well and exercise to make sure my physical well-being is taken care of while I continue to work on my emotional well-being. I am doing my best to instill feelings of self-worth in my son and want to make sure I am a great role model for any daughters and sons we have in the future. I want this cycle of self hate to end with me.

There is probably something else at work because I spent 2 years eating only good things, rarely a processed food had passed my lips, I walked the mile to and from university, sometimes the 5+ miles to the other side of campus to my lab and worked out 3-5 times a week. For 2 years! I lost about 3 pounds. That is extremely frustrating and takes away any motivation. Plus, I never get that feeling of accomplishment after a good workout. I never feel great that I've worked out that day. I never feel like I want to do it again to get that workout high that never comes. I'm a little jealous of the people who do get those feel-good feelings because it would help motivate me to get them again. Nope, the only way I get those feel-good feelings is when I eat chocolate. And those feelings last all day, despite what all of those workout gurus say. My body just prefers a good piece of dark chocolate, or two, over that awful feeling of working out.

Now I'm working on my PhD, I have a toddler, my funding is running out, my research isn't working, there are sick family members on both sides, I'm getting fed up with people still telling me I'm not good enough. I'm stressed! My good diet comes and goes. My good exercise habits come and go. I finally had someone pushing me to stick with it all while I pushed her and then I injured myself. First my calf felt like it popped while I was running and hasn't been the same since and then I re-injured my shoulder and have a pinched nerve. I've gained too much weight since starting my PhD and I am tired of not being able to find clothes that look good. I'm tired of being tired all the time (again, there is probably something else going on there too since I can't remember a time when I wasn't tired, it's just getting worse). I can keep up with my toddler now, but I don't want to get to a point where I can't. He is a very active little boy and I'm hoping will stay this way. I love his energy and curiosity and want to make it flourish!

 After searching and searching, I finally found a picture that shows more than just my shoulders and above. I prefer to be the one behind the camera and want to make myself feel good enough to be in front of it too, looking healthy and energized, not just there. I am not exactly sure what it will take since I can't remember when I didn't feel tired, but I will get there for my son, my husband, myself.

So today, the day after Passover, until Shavuot, the next holiday coming up in 42 days, I am committing to a vegan diet. It can be a very healthy lifestyle if one chooses to eat right, which is my plan. It won't be a huge change for me since I eat a plant-based diet anyway, so I'll just have to make some minor adjustments. However, it will force me to really pay attention to what I'm eating. To read labels just to make sure there aren't any animal products in my food. To make sure I am getting enough vitamins and minerals. I'm hoping that this careful attention to food will force me to eat better for life.

So there it is. I'm laying it all out there so there is no turning back. It's on the internet so I have to hold myself accountable, hopefully with some pushing from my readers. Feel free to share your favorite vegan meals and snacks or your story of weight loss and healthy eating success and struggles in the comments!