Monthly Archives: August 2009

Thinking about Babies

Be prepared: This post combines my experiences from growing up on the farm with my experiences studying Biology, in which I have both a B.S. and M.S.  You will probably think I’m a gigantic weirdo by the end.  If you didn’t already.  Also note: I do not intend to turn this into a baby blog, but I can’t help that it’s on my mind a lot lately.

Growing up, I was fortunate to know that birth is a natural part of life (as is death, but that’s another topic for another time).  Spring was always filled with excitement, wondering when our Nanny goat would have her kid, when the sheep would have a lamb, when we could go visit the first new calf at my mom’s family’s dairy farm, and even when the llama would have her baby (is there a name for a baby llama?).  It seems somehow fitting now that our baby is due in springtime.  While we mostly didn’t witness births, since animals seem to prefer to labor and give birth away from human onlookers, it was always exciting.  Most recently, I was amazed when our Shire Annabelle gave birth to her foal, Isabelle, overnight, totally unassisted, and with no complications.  When my dad found Isabelle, she and Annabelle were both clean and dry, and the afterbirth was buried.  Annabelle is a wonderful mom.

But it wasn’t always picturesque.  My dad tells of wrapping a rope around a calf’s feet and pulling it out, when the cow had trouble giving birth.  There was a time when a lamb was stillborn and the mother sheep died shortly after.  I wasn’t a witness, but I heard what happened.  And of course there were eggs that didn’t hatch.  Things go wrong.

In college, I had the opportunity to take a course in Human and Medical Genetics, in which we covered both common and obscure genetic abnormalities.  These genetic disorders led to physical and/or mental defects, and while I knew they were rare for the most part, the knowledge of their possibility scared me.  The number of disorders tested in prenatal screening is amazingly minute compared to the number of known genetic disorders.  However, the vast majority of them do not have treatments or simple dietary guidelines like phenylketonuria (PKU), so they’re not tested for before or after birth.  In fact, a genetic disorder may not be identified until a child exhibits developmental delays.

I’ve also visited a little room in Yale Medical School that’s filled with jars of preserved human fetuses, showing the vast number of structural abnormalities.  Of course these babies were preserved many years ago, before ethics would prohibit such treatment of miscarried fetuses.  Walking through the room, looking at structural abnormalities from microcephaly to conjoined twins to deformities that I don’t care to remember, is a surreal, macabre experience.  While I’m aware that these deformities are rare, and that today they would mostly be identified in an ultrasound, the images stay with me.

It seems I’ve had much more experience with genetic abnormalities and birth defects than the average pregnant woman.  And while I don’t expect my baby to have any of these rare disorders, the possibility still lingers in the back of my mind.

These are all issues I consider when I think about where I want to deliver my baby.  I am totally confident in my body’s own ability to deliver our child.  Ideally, I would like to labor naturally without interventions like an IV, epidural, catheter or episiotomy.  But I also want to be in a hospital.  I’ve heard a lot of negativity about hospitals in the eco-blogosphere, and I’ve heard of successful home births.  However, away from the internet, I’ve heard many positive stories of hospital birth, from women like my mom and mother-in-law, family members, friends, and colleagues.  I don’t believe that a hospital birth is always as negative as the horror stories I read on the internet.  I believe I can have the birth experience I want, and be in a hospital, too.

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Why I did not enjoy shopping for maternity clothes…

In my opinion, they were mostly ugly.  I was annoyed by the small selection of mostly strange prints.  We started at a maternity/children’s consignment shop that had almost no maternity clothes at all.  However, I did enjoy looking at the kid’s Halloween costumes.

Next, we went to Target.  I heard a rumor that Target had some nice maternity clothes.  It was a lie.  I complained rather loudly about the lack of selection.  They had ONE style of maternity jeans, which I didn’t like.  They had ONE style of polyester dress pants.  The shirts were hideous.  I’m a jeans and T-shirt kind of gal, and I was looking for some simple, plain tops.  It was pretty frustrating, since I need to buy clothes but hated pretty much everything there.  Then, my mom decided to take out her camera, and we had fun.  Here were some of the choices at Target.

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Who doesn’t like purple flannel? Or a black ruffled dress?

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I really need a practical, belly-showing faux leather motorcycle jacket.

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How about a crazy printed tunic?

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What maternity wardrobe would be complete without a mumu? Or perhaps the correct spelling is moo-moo.

I left Target feeling pretty ticked off, but my mom convinced me to go to Kohls.  As we were walking in, I said, “If they ask me if I want a Kohl’s charge card, I’m going to punch them in the face.”  Two seconds later, we walked through the door and a lady asked me if I wanted a Kohl’s charge card.  As you probably guessed, I didn’t punch her in the face.

Kohls had a small maternity section, with normal-looking clothes.  I ended up getting a pair of jeans, khakis, black pants, and three solid tops.  Everything was on sale, too.  My only concern is that I now have to wear pants with this kind of waist-band:

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My mom has told me that I should realize how lucky I am, since maternity clothes have come a long way since I was born.  However, I still don’t like feeling as if I have to buy something I hate, just because I will soon outgrow my old stand-bys.

Moms and moms-to-be out there, what’s been your experience? I’m thinking shopping online is going to be the way to go here.  Can you point me to a good website or store? My mom would appreciate it, since she told me I embarrassed her in the stores today.  At least I’m learning the motherly art of embarrassing people.

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We’re Expecting!

I hope you’ll forgive me for the cliff-hanging last post. I wrote that post weeks ago when I was dying to tell people about my pregnancy.  

We found out we were expecting on July 5, 2009.  I’m due on March 14.  Everything is good, all the tests results have come back favorable, and everyone is excited about this first grandchild on each side of the family.  If you want to know more details, I started a new blog: Our Country Baby.  Here’s the ultrasound from yesterday!

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Perfect Timing

Our Love Story continues…

“When are you going to have a baby?” That’s the question all newlyweds dread hearing, and the question people have no shame asking. Our token answer after our wedding was always “Oh, about five years.”

The truth was, we had so many goals and dreams, and having children was somewhere in the distant future for us. We both knew we wanted to have children, but not yet. Not for a long time.

The short list of thing I wanted to accomplish included getting my masters degree and tenure, and saving for a home. I didn’t want to raise a family in the apartment over my parents’ garage. Ed was focused on saving money and having our own home as well, and getting settled in once we moved there.

As a couple, we wanted to have fun, enjoy being young, and build our relationship. For us, a strong marriage is the foundation of a family. Since we both grew up in families where our parents loved each other, we knew we wanted to be able to provide the same two-parent environment for our children.

And so in those early years of marriage, we had fun together, taking trips to Maine, Vermont, and even Alaska to walk with Brown Bears. I furthered my career by completing my masters degree, obtaining tenure, becoming a teacher-mentor, and traveling to the Bahamas for a workshop in place-based learning. Ed continued to learn and work at stairbuilding, and was able to help his brother start up the aquaculture business from scratch. We also saved quite a bit of money for two young people, and Ed threw himself into building our dream home. When we finally completed our home with the help of our families, we realized it was one of the hardest things we would ever do, and we were so happy to be in a home where we could raise a family. All of these were accomplishments we knew would be delayed if we had children.

As time went on and we settled into our new home, finishing up little projects here and there, our minds started thinking about expanding our family. After months of discussion, we decided it was time to start a family in June of 2009, the same month we would celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary.

To be continued…

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Imaginary Dinner Party

I saw this meme over at Rob’s World, and I just had to join in.  What fun!

1.  You are having a dinner party, and you can invite any four couples.  Who would you invite?

Jena and I had joked around about being related because we’re so similar.  However, when we discovered we have the same maiden name, we realized we actually might be distant cousins! Also, I think Brian and Ed would get along because they have a shared interest in tractors and equipment. 

(I won’t steal one of her photos, since I’m pretty sure they’re copyrighted.)

I’d really just like to meet them and hear stories about their ranch.  I think we’d get along well, if they’d be willing to travel this far.  Maybe Ree could give me some tips on, oh, cooking, photography or blogging.  Plus I think they’d get along well with Brian and Jena, too.  We’d let them bring their cutie-pie “punks” as well.

  • My Mom and Dad

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You can bet that if I had both Jena and PW here, my mom would be crashing, so I may as well invite her.  My mom would love to talk to Jena and PW about anything and everything.  Plus, my dad, Brian and MM could talk about their farms.

  • My brothers

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Do they count as a couple?  Well, Jon and Nate would also crash the dinner party, so I’m using them as my last couple.  They wouldn’t miss the chance to discuss tractor pulling with Brian and MM, and they also think both Jena and PW are hot (Well, PW for an old married lady.  Their words, not mine).

2.  What would you serve?

  • Appetizers: I’d go with some fresh seafood as a treat for the land-locked visitors: grilled clams, mini crabcakes, sea scallops wrapped in bacon.
  • Main Course: Well, we’ve got some meat-eaters here.  I’m thinking I might have to just pull out all the stops and cook up some Prime Rib, mashed potatoes, roasted carrots, creamed spinach, and a wedge salad with homemade ranch dressing.

3.  What wine would you serve?

  • We’re not wine-drinkers here.  I’d be sure to have plenty of beer on hand, some lemonade and iced tea.

4.  What’s for dessert?

Your turn!

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End of Summer

Sunday Stroll

Today is my last Sunday of the summer, before I go back to school on Thursday.  The sunflowers are finally open, after a rainy start, and they’re looking so cheery!

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I just love the look of a yellow sunflower against a blue sky.  How’s your garden growing?

To see who else is strolling today, visit the Quiet Country House.

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Check it out!

My former student, Kayla, has a guest post at Fake Plastic Fish about how she’s reduced her plastic consumption!

Kayla blogs at My Polychrome Life and is currently tallying her plastic waste on a road trip from her home in Texas to college in New York.  Check it out!

And if you need to be inspired even more, check out Kayla’s senior project (back when she was in high school): the eco-friendly fashion show!

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Me and Kayla at the “Women Taking the Lead to Save Our Planet” award ceremony.

Kayla, you make me a proud teacher!

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