Monday, December 20, 2010

So much for writing a birth plan...

Well I never did get around to writing that birth plan, because our beautiful baby boy was born 10 days early!  Turns out I didn't need a birth plan, as everything went wonderfully :-)

When I showed up at my yoga class 38.4 weeks pregnant the teacher looked at me and said: "Is your baby going to make it through the class?"  She was joking of course, but as it turns out she wasn't that far off!  Halfway through the class I felt a little pop and then a trickle... I discretely slipped into the bathroom and confirmed that I hadn't just peed in my pants... my waters had broken!  That was about 7pm.  I calmly drove home... I hadn't had any contractions so I was sure that I had plenty of time.  My wonderful husband had just cooked a lovely dinner, so I sat down and ate with him and our 4 year old.  Little did I know that our baby would be born less than 3 hours later!

By about 8pm the contractions had started, and I tried to time them but they never really stopped, just went straight from one to another, so my husband started packing things into the car and I laid down on the bed and listed to my hypnobirthing cd, with the calm, soothing voice of our dear friend Sue who is a midwife and runs calmbirth classes in Melbourne. We had arranged for Sue to come with us for the birth to help look after our son who really wanted to be present.  Who better to explain to him what was going on in a way that respects his intelligence and desire to see his baby sibling being born?  We called our amazing midwife Robyn and asked her to let the hospital know that we were on the way and could they please fill up the tub?  We met her at the hospital just after 9pm... after a quick check of my vitals (no internal exam thank god) and a brief listen to the baby's heartbeat I hopped in the tub.  The warm water brought instant relief from the non-stop contractions.

I quickly transitioned into stage 2 (pushing) and some serious screaming, or "vocalization" as I like to call it.  Our son was just across the hall in the birthing room with Sue, and he peeked in periodically to see if I was ok but he handled the screaming very well and calmly went back to watching his Wolverine DVD.  If I hadn't know he was in earshot I would have let some pretty severe obscenities loose at top volume, (apparently I did actually, but I was trying not to).  I paused occasionally to assure my husband that I was actually fine... I just had an uncontrollable need to scream at the top of my lungs... it helps the baby come out, it really does.

Conscious of how quickly it was all happening, I wanted to make sure that I had time to stretch adequately before the baby's head popped out... so I tried to slow things down a little bit and it helped.  The midwife was keeping an eye on things via a mirror on the bottom of the tub and a flashlight.    I didn't see much since I had my eyes tightly closed most of the time, but I could feel with my hand where the baby's head was, and I was able to wait and not push too much until the head circumference matched the exit circumference...apparently I didn't tear until the shoulders came out, but by that point I didn't even notice and it was just a little tear, so no stitches :-)

I pulled our beautiful baby out of the water and held him to my chest.  The midwifes covered us in hot towels and we relaxed in the water while with my husband while our son came in to say hello to his new Baby Brother :-)

We are all doing wonderfully at home, I'll write more soon, but for now... time to cuddle up with this adorable little fellow!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

'tis the season for giveaways and reviews...

I'm 37 weeks pregnant today, which means I'm all wrapped up in trying to get ready for a baby and get ready for xmas, and trying to do both in the most ecological and economical way possible... which is doing my head in!  In between researching advances in eco-diaper technology in the 5 years since I last looked at the issue, and trying to find non-toxic presents for my son, nieces and nephews, I'm trying to write a birth plan (which I will post once I've finished) and figure out who is going to look after our 4 year old when I go into labor!

I'm excited to tell you though, that I have some giveaways planned through 29 Diapers (I'm one of the 29 Days of Christmas giveaways that have already started...)  On day 19 (14 Dec)  I'm going to be giving away two of my favorite Miessence Certified Organic baby skin care products - a baby bottom cleansing gel and baby bottom mist, so check back here or at 29 Diapers for the details.  There are lots of other cool giveaways happening at 29 Diapers every day until Christmas.


I'm also planning product reviews of organic baby slings, organic diaper bags, organic eco-diapers, and much more, as I actually start using them, and I'll review some of my favorite baby books, such as Wonder Weeks, and  Ecofrugal Baby. [Can someone please tell me why I keep getting these white boxes when I link to books on Amazon?]


Better go work on that birth plan and starting packing a bag for the hospital... (or maybe I'll just watch an episode of Mad Men and feel good about myself because I'm not drinking and smoking my way through the pregnancy....)

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

When is stressing about toxins more toxic than the toxins you're trying to avoid?

There is a new book out called Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives by Annie Murphy Paul. Now I haven't actually gotten my hands on the book itself yet, but just reading this review, titled "Panic Womb" by Judith Woods was enough to get me thinking...

According to Woods' review, the book is all about "how babies are susceptible to stress and household chemicals, pollution that their mother breathes and the range of emotions she feels".  Now this is of course not news to me, since the whole point of me starting this blog was to share information about how eliminating toxins during the pre-conception period can help you get pregnant easier, faster and have a healthier pregnancy and child. But the interesting point that this raises for me is... if the toxins are bad, and the stress is bad, then what happens when we are stressing about toxins?

Having been mindful of my emotional environment as well as my ecological environment while pregnant, I've been trying to minimize stress through yoga and meditation, and generally just not giving a sh*t about stuff wherever possible. But sometimes I do find myself losing sleep over thoughts such as: "should I be wearing gloves while doing my taxes because there's BPA in most of my receipts?" or "how long should I let the new car seat off-gas before it's going to be safe enough?" and "I know oily fish like sardines and salmon are good for the baby's brain, but the cans are probably lined with BPA, so should I eat them or not?!".

At what point does all this stressing (especially when it's unproductive stressing) cause more harm to the fetus that the BPA, VOCs etc that I'm trying to avoid?

I'm also curious to find out more about the idea that "moderate stress accelerates the development of the baby's nervous system; women who report modest anxiety and daily stress have children with better motor and mental development scores at the age of two" (from Woods' review).

I guess I better buy the book, or maybe I shouldn't, if it's just going to give me more things to stress about... what do you think?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Why I love Miessence Organic Products - as recommended by the Good Guide


I am so excited about this Newsweek article on how to choose the greenest products listing Miessence as the best Shampoo and Toothpaste in the whole world (or at least of those brands available in the US).

The Newsweek article was actually about the Good Guide website that helps you choose products based on three criteria: health, environment and society. Not surprisingly, Miessence rated very well in every category that it has products, and was rated the #1 brand for shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, makeup, lip balm, diaper cream, air freshener, baby powder, skin care, hand dish-washing liquid, and many others too I'm sure.

Another reason to love them is that after being one of the first companies in Australia to go carbon neutral, Miessence is now carbon negative :-)

Interestingly, the Newsweek article mentioned the top brands for shampoo and toothpaste, but chose to focus on the top brands for Men's deodorant, as opposed to deodorant overall, thus cutting out all the top ranked products (which happened to be from natural/organic brands like Miessence, Burt's Bees, Aubrey Organics, Tom's, Weleda etc) in favor of the conventional brands such as Fa, AXE, Degree, Mitchum and Ban.

I can't help but wonder if any of those brands (or their parent companies, such as Henkel KGaA, Unilever, Revlon, and Kao) are regular advertisers with Newsweek... I can't get the US version of Newsweek in Australia, so perhaps some of my readers could have a look and let me know?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Help me win a year's supply of eco-friendly diapers and you can win a $100 Miessence Certified Organics Voucher

I've never done a giveaway before, but I've finally found something to inspire me...

My favorite brand of eco-disposable diapers/nappies Nature Babycare has an Ambassador's program where you can receive discounts, win prizes etc. It's a product I'm happy to stand by (I used them for four years with my son) and by referring others to sign up I can win a year's supply of diapers :-)

So, if you would like to help me along and also go in the running to win a $100 Miessence Certified Organic Skincare voucher, then it's easy, just send me a quick message via this link, letting me know that you want to enter the contest. I will then have a link sent to you which will come from "Naty Ambassadors" and say that I have: "invited you to join Naty Ambassador Program to have the chance to earn points and rewards while you help us bring to market healthier products for your baby and the environment. Please click on the link below to validate your email so that your friend can earn 2 points." All you have to do is click the link and then you will go into the draw for the $100 Miessence voucher.

Once I have at least 50 people enter the contest I will randomly pick one person to receive the voucher, which is good for online purchases of Miessence which can be delivered almost anywhere in the world with free shipping on orders over $100.

If you'd like to speed things along then please feel free to forward this post to friends who might be interested via the email icon below :-)

Thanks for your support!
xx
Annie

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I'm feeling overwhelmed...

I had a bit of a breakdown the other night. You know when something little starts you off crying and you can't figure it out because it's not really such a big deal, so you know there must be something deeper going on? Well that happened and when I scratched the surface (while blubbering away to my DH) I realized that I was feeling overwhelmed by all of the decisions that I need to make about purchases for our family and how to make the safest possible choices...

Just to give you an example, since we have a 4 year old boy and a baby due in three months we need:

-new shoes and socks for the 4 year old who's feet just keep growing and growing - the problem is, I can't seem to find organic cotton socks in the 4-6 sizes... they all seem to be for babies and toddlers or bigger kids and adults... any suggestions??? Also, my osteopath just told me that you have to be careful with kids shoes because the leather often has excess chromium in it that gets released when kids sweat and then gets absorbed through their feet... Ack!

- A booster seat for the four year old and a baby capsule - I want to make sure they are safe crash-wise but also chemical-wise, ie not filled with flame retardants, formaldehyde, off-gassing foams, heavy metals etc... we would like to get a newer (ie safer, more efficient) car too, but that's a whole 'nother topic!

- I'd like to use more cloth nappies (Australian for diaper) this time around, but there are so many to choose from!

- I'm thinking about replacing all of our mattresses with organic cotton ones.

- you get the idea... each of these decisions requires careful research, to make sure that they are safe and affordable. In the US there are lots of great websites that do a lot of the background work for you, but sadly most of the recommended brands aren't available in Australia ... which leaves me with basically a full time job evaluating the safest options.

Soooo... please fill out the poll I've added in the top right corner of the blog and let me know what you want to hear about most, and please leave any suggestions for brands/websites/ideas that you love/trust.

Thanks :-)
Annie

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

I'm curious...

I recently came across this article from Reuters which states that the average UK woman wears 515 chemicals a day. Whilst this is scary, it does not surprise me at all. What did surprise me however, was the bit where it says that:
"More than 70 percent of the women polled said they were not concerned about the number of chemicals they put on their skin and only one in 10 opted for chemical-free toiletries when shopping."

I'm curious... if you're one of the 70% who is not concerned about the chemicals you put on your skin, and you happen to be reading my blog, can you please leave a comment and let me know why you're not concerned? Is it because you've never really thought about it? Because you've always assumed that the government wouldn't let the products be sold if they weren't safe? Because you're not eating the products the chemicals won't be absorbed into your body? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

And if you are in the sub-category of people who are concerned about the chemicals you are putting on your skin, but you are still not opting for natural or organic toiletries then I'd also love to hear from you... is it too hard? Too expensive? Don't know where to find safe products? Don't know which products are safe?

I spend so much time preaching to the converted, I'd love to engage with people who aren't necessarily looking for the certified organic logo on everything they buy. What do you care about? What's important to you? What would you like to know more about?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

More stuff to watch...



I've just figured out how easy it is to embed videos in my blog... can you tell?

Anyway, this one really touched me. I knew that workers in the beauty industry, especially nail salons and hairdressers had higher rates of cancer, but I hadn't really put names and faces and stories to the statistics. When they talk about a woman who lost her baby while she was pregnant and working in a nail salon I totally lost it. This video made me cry, but also made me extraordinarily angry.

Please watch, and then if you are American please sign the petition to Congress asking them to support nail salon worker health by passing safe cosmetics legislation!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Watch This!



And then tell me what you think... what products will you stop buying so that THEY will stop making them?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Top 10 signs you are pregnant with your second child...


This pregnancy has been so different from my first - I've been much sicker, more tired and I feel like my belly popped out straight away and I couldn't wear any of my regular pants after only a few weeks. I'm not sure how much of this is because I'm also looking after a 4 year old, or because I'm almost 5 years older, or because I've actually just blocked out most of the unpleasantness from my memory, but it certainly feels different. I've also wondered whether I might be feeling different because it's a girl this time (don't know, won't find out) or because it's twins (also don't know, but haven't had a scan yet - more on that later). Anyway, I'm having such a classic "blame it on the pregnancy" day I thought I'd share some of my foibles with you.

Top 10 signs you are pregnant (and also trying to keep amused (and fed and safe) an under-5 year old):

1. You pull out your maternity clothes from 5 years ago and gag over the pink velour maternity track suit that somehow seemed like a good idea at the time, but you still wear it, and although you consider changing out of it before leaving the house you decide that it's actually pretty comfy and you don't really care who you run into at the supermarket. [Please note, this is not a picture of me, but it is a close approximation of what I am wearing right now.]

2. You go to the supermarket to buy (rice) milk and end up with a jar of dill pickles, a jar of mayonnaise and some granola bars.

3. You're craving all the comfort foods from your childhood (most of which your mother rarely let you eat) such as: tuna salad (which you shouldn't eat because of the mercury), kraft macaroni & cheese (which you shouldn't eat for so many reasons it would take a Phd thesis to cover them all), cinnamon toast crunch (which they don't sell in Australia, but you find something close enough made by Uncle Toby's until you discover it is owned by Nestle - another Phd topic) and Nature Valley Granola Bars which thankfully are pretty healthy (although not organic) and available in Australia, and they still taste exactly the same as they did 25 years ago!!

4. You forget the pin number on not one, but two of your credit cards.

5. You forget to pay not one, but three of your credit cards on time and get embarrassing phone calls while you are on the train.

6. You actually buy the crappy celebrity gossip magazine that you would not normally buy (but will always happily read at a friend's house).

7. You have a craving for Phở (vietnamese noodle soup) and decide you want it not only for lunch, but for breakfast and dinner as well.

8. You don't bother reading any pregnancy books or even looking stuff up online, you just ask a friend who is pregnant for the first time whether those shooting pains in your groin are normal.

9. You think that maybe it would be a good time to start doing those pelvic floor exercises, but then think, what's the point, I'm just going to have to do them all over again after giving birth.

10. You are so behind in your laundry that you decide that wearing mismatched socks, or even socks with big holes in the soles is ok. And certainly easier than actually doing laundry or buying new organic socks.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Help! Any suggestions?

I'm really suffered here with the 24-hour morning sickness... have tried everything, but am hoping that there's something you can suggest? Am 11 weeks now so hopefully it will get better soon...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I still feel like I'm going to throw up...

Many apologies for not posting an update sooner... I have a good excuse: I feel dreadful! I am pregnant though, so that's good :-)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

could I be pregnant?

So... after seemingly endless months of detoxing - a six month stint that kept getting extended because hubby and I both had to travel overseas (and one of the things we were detoxing from is cosmic radiation) - we have finally started TTC (trying to conceive for those of you who don't regularly frequent online mommy clubs and infertility forums).

Our first time round we got preggers straight away, but I'm conscious of the fact that we are both now 5 years older and things might not happen as quickly. So we have started "trying" and while we have another week or so to wait for an official pee on a stick test, there are some early signs that may or may not mean I am pregnant... as the lovely people at the Mayo Clinic say:

"Unfortunately, these symptoms aren't unique to pregnancy. Some can indicate that you're getting sick or that your period is about to start. Likewise, you can be pregnant without experiencing any of these symptoms." But I do have almost all of the symptoms of pregnancy that they mention, so fingers crossed!

1. The first thing I noticed was that the smell/sight/thought of meat made me want to throw up. I thought I might have a stomach bug, since I was feeling poorly in other ways too, but the thought did cross my mind... could this be morning sickness? I didn't realise it could start so soon, and last time around it didn't kick in until I was about 8 weeks pregnant, so I didn't think much of it, until I started getting other signs, and googled morning sickness and found out it can start within days of conception...

2. My breasts became very sore. I was pretty sad when this happened actually, since it can also be a sign that you are getting your period, and again, I didn't get sore breasts until I was at least 4 weeks pregnant with my son... so I didn't think it was likely to be a sign of pregnancy, but a short trip down google lane and yes... you can get sore breasts within days of conception. If I am pregnant then it just goes to show how different each pregnancy can be.

3. I am really really tired. There could be many explanations for this... most of them involving chasing around a four year old jedi and three chickens, but still, it's another one of those symptoms of early pregnancy.

4. I felt like I was getting sick. This went with the feeling nauseous and being really tired, but it still seemed strange because I don't get sick very often, and no one around me was sick... but apparently when you are pregnant, especially in the early stages, your body lowers the immune response to make sure that you don't reject the new fetus. This is a good thing, but it also means you get sick more easily. I kept very good notes on my first pregnancy (back when I had a life and time for such things) and I noticed that the same thing happened then... I got sick around now. This lowered immunity has been put forward as one possible theory for morning sickness... we feel sick at the thought of any food that might contain parasites or pathogenic bacteria to make sure we only eat innocuous things like saltines and chocolate that are not going to make us sick, since our immune systems can't protect us like they usually do.

5. I started spotting. As in noticing very small amounts of blood in my (organic cotton) undies. I was pretty depressed at this one, since I thought it meant that my period was on its way (and early, to add insult to injury), but when it stopped after two days I realized that it could be implantation bleeding. This happens when a fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus — about 10 to 14 days after fertilization, and the burrowing into the lining causes a very small amount of bleeding. The timing was right, based on when I thought I had ovulated... so I started feeling better. I hadn't noticed this with my first pregnancy, so it definitely doesn't always happen.

6. Raised body temperature. I have been taking my temperature for months now, using it as way to chart when I'm ovulating, and instead of going down in the second half of the cycle, my temp has stayed up. Again, this could be because I'm sick (which would also explain the nausea and fatigue) but still, it's one more sign...

7. Mood swings. I have been a bit quick to bite my hubby's head off this week...I think he'll forgive me if we discover the cause.

8. Feeling light headed and dizzy. I get this a lot anyway since I have very low blood pressure.

9. My hair is falling out. I haven't actually been able to find any conclusive evidence that hair falling out in the first few weeks after ovulation is a sign of pregnancy, but I'm pretty sure that it's a hormonal thing, so it would make sense. When I washed my hair yesterday I was left with a fistful of hair. Also, my hair has been greasier than normal the last few weeks, which is also hormonal I think... and it means I have to wash it almost every day, which is a pain, since who has time for that?!

10. Lastly, but certainly not least, I have a feeling I am pregnant. I've had this feeling since as soon as we started trying, but I had no proof... so I didn't give it much thought. We don't pay enough attention to our intuition and instincts, but they are powerful forces and when we do listen to them they make us much better mothers and people. I hope I'm right about this one :-)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

why I love working from home


I'm having one of those weeks that makes me really appreciate my decision to work mostly from home. Firstly, my 4 year old has been sick for the last 5 days and counting :-( Nothing too serious, but enough that he hasn't been able to go to preschool. I love that I can keep him home with me, and let him recover in his own time, without having to pump him full of antibiotics to make sure he can get back to school and I can get back to work. Instead he is doing nicely with homeopathy and home-made (organic of course) chicken broth...

Although I must admit, I'm feeling a little funny about the chicken broth since we are now the proud owners of 3 chickens... another reason I'm glad to be working from home. It's been so nice being able to wander outside throughout the day, checking to see if the hens have laid any more eggs in their nest hidden away in the corner of our veggie garden... collecting the brown and speckled eggs while they are still warm, and eating them fresh the day they were laid. I love this life! I'm also saving about $20/week that I was spending on organic eggs.

The other half of why I love working from home is the nature of what I do... I love my "job" so much it hardly seems fair to call it a "job"... it's more of a lifestyle that happens to bring me an income. I am an Independent Representative of ONE Group, the makers of miessence certified organic products. This means I have my own website where people can choose from over 100 certified organic skin, hair, body, health, household and baby products and have them shipped directly to their door almost anywhere in the world. (And I don't have to do the shipping which is great).

The best part is that I get to train and support a team of like-minded reps around the world who have their own reasons for wanting to create an ethical and sustainable income from home and to help increase the availability of certified organic alternatives to toxic everyday products. I spend most of my "working" time talking, skyping, emailing and meeting with wonderful people who are passionate about health, the environment and making the world a better place.

Just this week my team has grown to include a Pharmacist in Ireland who ordered certified organic baby powder to sell in his Pharmacy in County Cavan, a massage therapist in West Virginia, and a raw food enthusiast in Phoenix Arizona. And all this while spending time looking after my son, making sure he is getting sunshine and rest and fresh organic food while he's home sick.

If I was still a lawyer I would have been stressed about taking time off work, stressed about clients who needed me and stressed about letting down my colleagues. Instead I am grateful that I can be there for my family when they need me and still support a team of reps who have ended up becoming dear friends while we are trying to make the world a safer and better place. I really am very lucky :-)