Parenting 1
valdalyn
I figure there will be a lot of entries on this topic as time passes, so let this be the first one and hopefully it isn't too repetitive.

Hazel is now 7 weeks old, and holding her head up pretty well. Our poor baby rolled bad luck in a couple ways. She has hyper-mobility from her father, this affects about 5% of all females. She was also positioned breech in utero (about 3-4% of babies are) and she never moved which has led to a couple other difficulties: She has a brachial plexus injury to her right arm, probably from how she was positioned in utero. We also just learned that she has hip displasia for the same reason. Her arm is the bigger problem, the injury makes it very difficult for her to move her arm, a condition known as Erb's Palsy. The arm will probably take several years of PT, which we have already begun, and possibly surgery. The hips on the other hand will require a Velcro brace for a few months for a complete recovery.

Mostly Hazel is a happy baby, so far she enjoys looking into the eyes of her parents, or whoever is holding her. She also likes looking into her mirror. She hasn't really started reaching for things yet and is working more on kicking and wiggling. She eats well, and sometimes too well. When she overeats it leads to the dreaded "baby fountain" and one of the parents inevitably ends up wearing the partially-processed stomach-temperature milk. Yum.

Not much really to say past this, just keeping something of a record so I can look back and wish it was still this easy.
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Baby
valdalyn
So just before raid time Tuesday 10 days ago (March 9th 2010) my water broke. It was about 5pm.

At first I was a bit embarrassed thinking I might have lost bladder control, but it soon became clear that the time had come.

So my hubby and I finished packing my half-packed overnight bag and calmly headed off to labor and delivery.

Yes, calmly: there were no contractions yet and no reason to be worried. I knew it was going to be a c-section, and wanted to be sure to pack all the things I would need afterward. So we departed about 6pm.

So we arrived and I opted to stand in the waiting area (to keep their seats dry) while a nurse was called. They took me back to the observation area where I got to lie on a nice bed on a dry absorbent pad while a nurse hooked me up to a belly monitor so we could be sure the baby was doing well. They also gave me an IV and started filling me up with fluid so I would be well hydrated. They also did an ultrasound to see if the baby was still breech and wasn't going to let me have a safe vaginal delivery.

Since I had stopped leaking for a bit they weren't sure it was amniotic fluid (not urine). She asked a lot of questions but it wasn't until the nurse left the room to ask about doing a different test on me when the next gush showed up. I told her about it when she came back in, she took one look and started filling out the admission paperwork.

One problem was that I had eaten a late lunch around 3:30 pm. For surgery they want an empty stomach, usually at least 6 hours...so I got to wait a bit. They also had another person in the OR ahead of me.

I ended up sitting in a puddle of fluid several times over the next three hours. The nurses were nice enough to change the bed pads for me each time I went to the restroom (thanks to being really well hydrated by 2 bags of IV fluid). At around 9pm we headed to the OR.

The OR was cold. Really really cold. Especially since all I was wearing was a flimsy little gown. The spinal block was not fun. I ended up crying a bit before that was in, and the first one didn't work well enough. I could still feel it when they tested by pinching the skin of my belly with calipers. So I got a second one...but that wasn't nearly as bad as the first since I was already pretty numb. The second one worked great though I started shivering like I was in the north pole. They put some heated blankets on me, tilted the bed a few times, tested again and when I was completely numb and completely awake they covered me up and began the operation.

I could see myself in the reflection from the glass in the lights, and watching them cut and cauterize my belly (smelling it too) was fascinating. Marty stayed with me the whole time holding my hand or arm whenever possible. I will admit I was pretty scared initially but by this point I think the worst part was over.

They pulled the baby out and she cried beautifully. Her first APGAR score was an 8, second was a 9. Hands and feet were a bit blue but otherwise everything was perfect. They kept her a bit longer than I expected getting her weighed and cleaned and all, at one point I even sent Marty over to see what they were doing. Meanwhile I watched the doctors (Nudelman and Anton) sewing me up.

After they finished up I started shivering really hard (from the anesthetic) again. When they went to move the cart I got nauseus. I puked pretty much continuously from the OR to my room. It was a rough ride. Normally nothing makes me vomit, but those drugs did the trick. Blah. The itching started right after that. Gotta say the spinal block worked great, but the side effects were really unpleasant.

Hazel weighed 5 lbs 11 oz. at birth. Within a couple days she had dropped 10% and was a bit jaundiced. now she is putting weight back on nicely, gaining about an ounce a day and keeping Marty and I on our toes.

Unfortunately I can't breastfeed yet. She was 2.5 weeks early and I had no milk at all when she was delivered. Even though I have been pumping and pumping I still have nothing but colostrum for her. I pump into a bottle and she sucks it down like it's candy. Definitely prefers it to the formula...but she still needs a lot more than I can produce.

Hopefully when my milk comes in she will be able to learn to take it from the source. Technically she isn't due until March 27th. We will see.
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What we learned from Avatar
valdalyn
I have a group of friends who comes over every monday evening to watch something on the TV.  We started with Heroes, moved on to all of Buffy and Angel in the correct order, and then we proceeded to watch Avatar.

For those who are not familiar with Avatar, it is an animated children's series set in a fantasy world with 4 kingdoms that are represented by the 4 elements (earth, fire, air, water).   For more info click here.   It is made by nickelodeon and done in the Japanese anime style.  I highly recommend it.

Anyway, getting to the point...while we were watching it, we realized that there were a number of messages included that may not have been completely intended by Nikelodeon.  So, we grabbed a white board and started writing down:

What we learned from Avatar:

It is O.K. to steal - from pirates.

If your father abuses you it is your fault and you must make amends.

You may also substitute a smaller cooler kid for your father to abuse.

Lying is O.K.

Anything is O.K. if everyone does it.

Sucking on frogs is medicinal.

Optimist = Liar.

Never underestimate the power of stink.

In the military it doesn't matter if orders make sense, do it anyway.

The only way women get equal rights is if they have balls.

  • Or hot grandma's.

Weapons make good toys for babies.

Problems?  Do Nothing!

Sentient natural disasters are Totally Normal.

Give it up with honor! (Or explode).

Strange old men that you meet on the road have the best tea. 

Falling and crushing damage are harmless and funny.

The white lotus opens wide for those who know her secrets - if you know what I mean.

Drugs lead to incest.

Beaches are like shaving for the soul.

Acne is not a concern for you if you are a victim of child abuse.

Septuplets will do Anything.

All old people look alike. 

Scamming cheaters is ok.

It is ok a LOT OF TIMES.

Orphans lust after their moms - that's not a bad thing.

And most importantly:
You must look within yourself to save yourself from your other self.  Only then will your inner self reveal itself.



The Problem With 'Science'
valdalyn
From a layman's point of view (that's most of us) the media is loaded with science.
Watch a few hours of TV and you will see dozens of bespectacled lab-coat-wearing 'experts' who agree that this product is the best.
Turn on a talk show and get a parade of experts telling you what to wear, how to live, even how to think (thanks Dr. Phil).
Evening TV will get you a pile of medical commercials both for prescription drugs and 'natural' herbal products.
(Here's one hint, if nature had intended it to come concentrated in capsule form it would have grown that way).
Those experts will tell you that it has been scientifically proven to reduce your fat, increase your metabolism, whatever.
They use statistics and sleight-of-hand to say things that aren't exactly lies, but are actually worse.
That is the problem.
The layman hears scientific studies day and night telling one thing and another and most of them are untruthful.
Then an expert says something like "Vaccinations may be linked to Autism".
The media (smelling blood in the water) screams the news from the rooftops.
Now people are scared.
Once people are afraid it is very very difficult to make them unafraid.
Science is not fast.
It took 10 minutes for people to start writing up lawsuits against the FDA, Drug Companies, USA, and Dr. Bob the pediatrician.
It took 10 days for oppurtunists to jump on the bandwagon writing books filled with misleading statistics.
It took 10 years to satisfy real scientists that the thermisol used in vaccines was not the cause of autism.
The fear had a huge running start and a decade to build.
Now people don't want to get their children vaccinated even though the thermisol isn't even in the vaccinations anymore and it was shown to be not guilty in the first place.
One kid not vaccinated in a school full of vaccinated kids is no problem.
Half the kids not being vaccinated is an open invitation for trouble.
Vaccinate your kids.
Seriously.

P.S.  The day after I wrote this Cheerios got slammed by the FDA for making unsubstantiated claims about it's ability to treat high-cholesterol and heart-disease.  There is no such thing as truth in advertising.

Victory Garden
valdalyn
I surf the web a lot and the idea of the victory-gardens seems to be very popular right now.
Even the White House is in on it.
The concept is great.
It also gives a sense of nostalgia for the days of the world wars.
Ok, so I am really not old enough to be nostalgic, but I did watch a lot of Bugs Bunny when I was little.  :)
I also spent a lot of time with my great grandmother.
She taught me about rationing, and even showed me some of her old ration stamps.

Now there are scientists saying that the human population is growing too large to feed itself off the available land.
Hard to believe looking at big fields of unused land as I drive around.
Thing is, if the climate is changing (and I do believe it is for whatever reason) then there is probably real cause for concern.
Where does our food really come from?
I think a large portion of mine comes from Brazil, at least that's what it says on the sign in the grocery store.

What happens to my food when Brazil has a drought?  
Are we really doing enough to prevent another dust-bowl here?

A lot of people are advocating growing vegtables at home to supplement the food supply.
Apparently Americans managed to grow quite a large amout of food in their backyards in the 1940s.
This seems to be a pretty logical idea to me just on general principles.
For a few packets of seeds (currently about $1.25 a packet) I can get enough for a couple thousand plants.
Not that I have that much space, but they usually keep a couple years.
I plant a variety of plants and even though they need to be thinned and some die to bugs or whatever I can still get way more than my money's worth in vegtables.

Sure, spending an hour or four in the garden each week is probably not worth it to a lot of people.  
If my time was worth lawyer-money I would be able to buy a daily supply of the really upscale organic veggies at the whole-foods for less than what my couple of hours of gardening a week would be worth.
There's something nice about not going to the store though.  
My favorite time is the period in the summer when I can just go outside and get those tomatoes I need for my salad.
Or dig up an extra portion of veggies for an unexpected guest.
It is very convenient.
They taste better too.  
A lot of them never make it out of the garden.
Still, there are definitely pros and cons.
The weather last year killing my baby plants was a big con.
I don't know if I am making a point or just rambling.
It seems clear enough to me now though....

Victory gardening: probably more pro than con.  
Most of the time.
 


Martial arts
valdalyn
Long long ago in a galaxy far far away....
I was a very avid martial artist for a number of years.  
Started with Taekwondo, moved, did some Wing-Chun.
Then I went off to college and the demands of work and school left me with very little time or energy so I pretty much fizzled out.
For several years I continued to practice sporadically with friends.
I tried getting back into a workout routine several times.  Both in martial arts and just in the school gym.
Work was sedentary, classwork was sedentary.
Predictably my weight began increasing as my activity decreased.  :(
Now my weight is pretty bad, and for once my time demands are relatively good.
It only takes a few flights of stairs for me to get winded.
I seriously need to get started again.

Unfortunately I can't just take up where I left off, I forgot a lot, and I would probably die of a heart attack if I tried to work out like I used to.
I tried a Tai-Chi class in Seattle, but it was too far (and too bad traffic) for me to make it a regular thing.
I heard there was a wing-chun teacher in Seattle somewhere but I am afraid that I would have the same problem again.
In the Bellevue area there isn't much, but I was actually considering heading back to my roots with the Taekwondo.

The question would be: where do I start?

I am fairly certain that even out of shape and out of practice the white-belt material would not be challenging enough.
Relearning is a lot faster than learning.
The lower belt material would come back to me easily within a month.  
The higher-belt material should come back fairly fast as well.
It would just be a matter of doing it.
Maybe I should go check out the local school and see what the instructor recommends.
If I like the instructor I can try out a few classes.
It may be a start.




Psychology
valdalyn
What is science?
I looked at Webster's Dictionary to try to answer that question and it actually confused me.
Wikipedia had a much better entry which included this sentence "science refers to a system of acquiring knowledge based on scientific method, as well as to the organized body of knowledge gained through such research."
That pretty much sums it up, though it is the narrow definition.  The broad definition is much better.
Why did I ask such a simple question?
 Apparently a lot of people (including yours truly at one point) do not consider psychology to be a science.
This has put a lot of pressure on  psychological researchers, in some ways more pressure than on other branches of science, to adhere to very rigorous scientific practices.  
Psychology is the field that studies a black-box as unpenetrable as the darkest matter of the universe.  The human mind.
Sure, we can take pictures of the brain.  Now we can even take sugar-coated color-coded pictures (PET scan).
These pictures give us as much information on the psyche as a land-based telescope gives us on other galaxies.  
A lot, but not enough.  They can show what is happening, but the why is still almost as much an art as a science.
The brain is a complex thing.  Most of the time it works like a computer, it takes in information and puts out  a predictable behavior based on that information.  But what about when it doesn't?
Computers don't just decide to stop being logical because they are expected to be logical, but people certainly can and do...sometimes.
Or sometimes through accident, disease or injury a brain just does unpredictable things.
Give 100 random people the exact same stimulus and you will get 100 slightly different responses.
Raise 100 people from infancy in the exact same way in identical environments and then give all 100 the exact same stimulus and you will still have significant variation in your responses.
Perform 100 identical chemical science experiments and you will get (in theory) 100 identical reactions.
Do variation and unpredictability in results make psychology less of a science?
Or just a more challenging one?



 

New Diet Philosophy
valdalyn
So really, I need to exercise.  I need to eat less bad food and more good food.  
Doesn't everyone?
Maybe not.  My mom sent me this:

1. The Japanese eat very little fat
and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat
and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

3. T he Chinese drink very little red wine
and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine
and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

5. The Germans drink a lot of beers and eat lots of sausages and fats
and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

CONCLUSION

Eat and drink what you like.
Speaking English is apparently what kills you. 

Maybe that's why all the internet kiddies sp34k l33t these days.  English is a killer.


Should auld acquaintance be forgot?
valdalyn
With instant messages, cell phones, social networking sites and email all readily availble there really is no excuse for getting out-of-touch with good friends.  
However, regardless of my intentions I have managed to let a lot of people slip out of my life.  
I have been thinking about them more and more lately and finally got off my ass and started making some calls.
I am glad I did it, and determined to do it more.  
I miss my old friends.
It turns out they are spread out all over now and have tons of stories.  
We have a lot of catching up to do.
At least one of my old friends has a kid now.
Others are engaged, married, divorced.
I am looking forward to getting more contact information from each contact I make.
I will see about getting the hang of this whole social networking thing yet!

And there’s a hand my trusty friend !
And give us a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.

Exercise
valdalyn
The days are becoming much nicer outside.
We have weights and a treadmill for when it isn't nice outside.
We even have a Wii Fit.
But aside from gardening I just haven't been motivated.
Weight is up.
Energy is down.
Need to get off my ass and do something about it.
Tomorrow....