Friday, April 30, 2010

this moment

{this moment} - from SouleMama - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

'tis the month of UFOs!

Now that Spring has finally arrived, I have dedicated the month of April to my unfinished craft and home projects. I have been a very busy little bird, too--especially considering we went to Racine to visit family for five days at the beginning of the month. The weather around here has been absolutely perfect, thanks to dear Mother Nature. On April 1, we took a day trip to the Cincinnati Zoo for their spring blooms and to meet the new manatees. The daffodils were lovely and the animals were absolutely energetic. Here are the girls, who wouldn't sit still long enough for a posed picture:

When we were in Racine, we gathered for brunch on Easter Sunday at David's sister's house, and all four children had a very exstensive egg hunt. Evelyn helped Max (almost 4) find his eggs. They made a great team together! Here is Evelyn, showing off her collection:

And this is Esme, who had more eggs then Eva because she went to a part of the yard where no one else was hunting for eggs:

When we were in Wisconsin, we got some mega thrifting done. I got three sweaters ($2 each), a pair of jeans ($3), two pairs of nice knit socks ($0.50 each), and a TON of metal knitting needles ($0.50/set)--three sets of straight needles and two sets of double-pointed needles. If I'd had more time, I would have spent it sorting through the rest of the box of needles to make more DPN sets to bring home. They also had a bunch of yarn, which I unfortunately did not look at (though I wanted to!). I also got my summer handbag; it's another hula bag! Here's a picture:

We also found two nifty hats, one for each of the girls ($1 each) and a lovely like-new crochet toddler blanket ($3)! David found a BUNCH of stuff, too, but I just cannot keep track of what he got. Racine thrift shops are better than any other thrift shops anywhere!

David gave me my birthday present early since he picked it up when we were in Racine. I needed to despretly make space for it since it was a new flat TV! That is what spurred me to purge and complete unfinished projects. We moved out the old TV and the beautiful wooden armoire (which will soon be repurposed as a new cage for our snake). I put the new TV over the fireplace mantle, where it is absolutely perfect. We moved the piano into the entry way near the front door and David put his Jade Buddha on it with several of his own sculptures. It looks great!

I have a shelf to hang above the piano to put up more drums and a mirror for over the bookcase. Hopefully I will get to those this week.

I have been going through old cloths and toys and everything else that has piled up lately. I got rid of three bags of cloths and linens and two boxes of old appliances and other kitchen do-dads that we do not use anymore. I have two or three bags of books and movies to take to work. I weeded the garden and cleaned up the yard, David pruned the trees and shrubs, we planted seeds and picked out a new selection of shells for Luna, our hermit crab, to choose from. We are painting the trim and soffit on the outside of our house this week. Our daffodils were in full bloom at the beginning of the month, now the tulips are out.

The holly and blueberries are blooming, too.

Knitting has been keeping me busy. I have so many hibernating knitting projects, it is honestly ridiculous! I am also participating in four swaps in the next month (two of which I have almost all done), and the girls each have a swap, too. The girls always get very excited when they receive something in the mail, and another mother contacted me in the hopes of having a swap partner for her nine year old daughter. As a result, I thought it would be wonderful to organize a swap with a bunch of participants of all ages, o I started a Mother-Chid Craft Swap on Ravelry! The swap is not just for knitting, but for crafts in general. The sign-up deadline for the Spring swap is April 21--feel free to join us if you are interested!

So far, I have completed several knitting projects this month. I knit five cloths, two for my mother-in-law, three for my washcloth swap group. I also finished a knit hat for David in Hogwarts theme so that he can officially show his support of the Gryffindor House Quidditch Team! Project 42/52 for my 52 Project Challenge.

I finally finished the pair of socks that have been in hibernation for over six months. I really hated socks until I found the right pattern, Basic Ribbed Socks by Kate Atherley. Let me tell you, I tore out the beginning of this project so many times. I also changed patterns three times because I didn’t like how things were turning out. My gauge was off, too, every time! I was frustrated beyond words. I finally set the project in the bottom of my knitting basket until I dug it out last week. I diligently worked on them. Now, I can finally say that I’m done! I love these socks! Love them! I love the pattern! The yarn, Bamboo & Ewe, was very nice, too! Project 41/52 for my 52 Project Challenge.

And because it seems like nearly everyone in my life must procreate, I am in the process of knitting oodles of baby goodies. Since they are gifts, I will not post pictures quite yet, but I promise you there is some serious cuteness lined up!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

modern midwifery

In the United States, less than 1% of births take place at home. It is difficult for the other 99% of Americans to make the transition from believing that technology is the benchmark for establishing worldwide leadership to the understanding that, in reality, the human body is designed to give birth. Our bodies are generous and amazing in their abilities to give birth naturally.

The rates of surgical birth and birth intervention in the US have soared beyond those of other developed countries around the world. The rate of maternal and infant mortality is not only significantly higher in the US than that of other developed nations, but also has not improved in nearly thirty years. Despite a significant improvement in the US maternal mortality ratio since the early 1900s, it still represents a substantial and frustrating burden, particularly given the fact that essentially no progress has been made in most of the US since 1982. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that most cases of maternal mortality are probably preventable. Among the causal deaths that could be prevented were those that involve both underlying health issues such as poor nutrition and high blood pressure as well as those that are physician-caused, including infection and hemorrhage.

There are many preventable risks of placing birth in a hospital environment. To begin with, bacteria can be introduced, first by the mother arriving in an environment where diseases are being treated, as well as from
infiltrating the natural barriers we have against infection through vaginal exams and, of course, surgical delivery. Additionally, there are higher incidences of hemorrhage from forced delivery of the placenta (when a care provider intentionally pulls on an umbilical cord). Furthermore, injuries and deaths related to the physician’s care range from the off-label use of medicine for the induction of labor as well as the sanctified use of surgical delivery, which is one of the leading causes of maternal mortality and a risk directly associated with cesareans and hospital births.

It is important to remember that pregnancy is a normal, low-risk, significant time in a woman's life. With knowledge of her body, a woman can interpret her body’s signals and maintain her own health. She can educate herself about care options and make good choices based on impartial and complete information because she knows her own body. Modern midwifery care is based on many concepts which are proven to reduce maternal and infant mortality rates and increase a mother’s joy in her birth experience.

Pregnancy effects and is effected by all aspects of a woman’s life: social, economic, professional, familial. A woman who knows about her body and how she gives birth is less likely to need medical interventions. An experienced midwife spends time with her clients. She gets to know them, teaches them and helps them think through their options to make reasoned decisions. She spends time with the client’s partner, observing the dynamics and providing holistic support. She helps identify how best to prepare the chosen space for labor and birth. Under a midwife's care, a typical prenatal visit lasts 30-60 minutes, labor accompaniment is consistent through the active labor and birth, and postnatal care includes several follow-up visits. It is estimated that midwives spend 10-15 times as many hours with a client as doctors spend--at about half the price! Midwives still do 70% of the births in the world and are experts not only at “normal” birth but at keeping infants normal around the birthing process. Midwifery care makes sense for normal pregnancies because midwives are skilled at keeping the pregnancy normal.

Women deserve knowledge to care for themselves before conceiving and during pregnancy and birth. Women gain the best birth knowledge from other women who have chosen natural childbirth with supportive birth care. Women are naturally intuitive and need not accept the negative images of labor that the media portrays. Women, their partners and their advocates can differentiate between normal birth and situations that may require medical guidance. Women want to choose important aspects of their birth experience based on credible information, not fear of litigation. The most favorable physical, mental and emotional birth outcomes for mothers and their babies are best supported by midwifery care.

Women have the right to choose a care provider and with whom and where to give birth. Every woman, and her family, must be recognized as being an individual with her own unique expectations for hers and her baby’s birth. It is a myth that women who seek a homebirth are willfully putting themselves at risk. Women are fully capable of considering their options and choosing how to care for themselves.  It is not rational to say homebirth is never safe; saying so is the product of hysteria. All birth information providers must create a more personable environment for the woman to learn about birth, her body and her birth options.  Protecting choice, not limiting choice, is good, no, GREAT health care.

Artwork: Music by Katie M. Berggren

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

a hell of a shawl

My father was born and raised in Germany, and his side of the family still lives over there. We make a trip or two every year or so to visit. This Easter, my parents are making a visit. I always like to make something special for my Oma (grandmother) and she has really gotten used to getting knitting from me. Well, two weeks before they left for their vacation, my Dad called Oma and asked her what she wanted them to bring for her. She said that she wanted me to knit a blue and white shawl for her.

When he told me, I was hesitant--I was not sure I would have time to complete such a major project in two weeks. But I figured I couldn’t give up without a fight! I went to the yarn shop and picked up three skeins of my favorite yarn, Malabrigo Merino Worsted, in a lovely blueish color. I couldn’t get my hands on any white (my Oma is very particular about her whites--anything even remotely off-white and she is convinced it is “dirty”--LOL), so I figured I would stick with solid blue. The following is a photo of the yarn, which is Jewel Blue:

I wanted to do lace, but since I would be hurrying to complete the project on time, I did not want anything too complex. The pattern that I settled on, Julianne Nyberg's Little Black Stole, is lovely and I am very pleased with it.

For this particular shawl, I cast on a total of 90 stitches to make the final project a bit wider then what the pattern called for--more substantial. I went with Malabrigo so that my grandmother would stay warm and cozy! After knitting approxamitely three feet, I blocked and stretched, blocked and stretched, until the shawl was over five feet long. I added a good eight inches of fringe on every other ridge.

This is project 43/52.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

follow your instincts

When someone, usually a pregnant mama, asks me for my best parenting advice, I like to say, with complete honesty, "Follow Your Instincts." I could say many, many other things, but my mothering instincts have been strong since before I could even put a name to my parenting style. Attachment parenting, natural parenting, respectful parenting: for me, it all comes down to instinct.

I suppose the most important aspects of instinctual parenting for me started during childbirth. When both Eva and Esme were born, gently and naturally, both babies were placed directly on my abdomen, wet and warm, for optimum bonding. We had the wonderful opportunity to cuddle and touch and meet for the first time. We began our nursing relationship immediately, within the minutes following birth.

Breastfeeding, luckily, came naturally for me with both girls, perhaps because we started nursing within the suggested twenty minutes after birth, perhaps because labor and childbirth was unmediated, perhaps because I did my research beforehand and knew good positions and correct latch, perhaps because I absolutely knew I would breastfeed. Breast-milk's unique mixture of nutrients and immunities is made perfectly by mother for each individual baby's needs and ages. It comes at the right temperature and the perfect amount. Breastfeeding also stimulates a mother's body to produce prolactin and oxytocin, which are two important mother-instinct boosting hormones. All of these necessary aspects contributed to the unique instinct to feed my babies on demand, as soon as they showed signs of hunger.

Another super necessary (for me) aspect of instinctual parenting is the family bed. When sleep-sharing, baby naturally learns and mimics mother's sleep cycle, is more likely to "sleep through the night," and is at a significantly less of a risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Sleep-sharing also allows for a more successful nursing relationship. Additionally, it helps a mother to become familiar with her baby's cues--before the baby even needs to cry out. I was always close to my babies, was able to feed them without having to fully awake from a comfortable sleep, and I sensed everything about them.

Then there is babywearing. It has been proven countless times that carried babies fuss less and spend much more time in the awake state of quiet alertness, which is the optimum state for learning (boosting brain power). Again, like bedsharing, since your baby is close to you, you know your baby better, you become more sensitive to her needs and you can meet those needs before crying is even necessary.

There is a very fine line between each aspect of instinctual parenting, and in most cases, it is difficult to tell where one leaves off and another begins. The benefits of instinctual parenting are far too complex to fully describe. It contributes to a level of communication far beyond words. However, I could instinctively tell when my baby was hungry, needed a diaper, wanted to be put down, etc. by being close to her and learning her cues (rather than using her cry to let me know she needs something). I knew because I followed each of their silent signals and their body language, which I still know so well from years of dedicated breastfeeding, sleep-sharing, and babywearing.

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