Sunday, August 31, 2008

Dragonfly weighs how much?

I went to the Obstetrician on Friday for an ultrasound to check Dragonfly's weight. We had hoped to do a VBAC, and since I meet all the criteria (no major health issues, no gestational diabetes, no pre-eclampsia or high blood pressure), the next two steps are to check the weight and then hope the baby descends into my pelvis on his own. My doctor suspected that he was big, but wasn't sure how much, and this has a big impact on if he'll descend and if I can do a VBAC.

Boy, was the doctor right to have concerns about his weight! Dragonfly weighs 7 pounds, 4 ounces as of Friday, which would put him around 9 pounds, 4 ounces at birth. The doctor says now that we'll have to wait and see. If he descends on his own, then there is still hope for a VBAC- it's successful about 40% - 50% of the time with this criteria. If Dragonfly doesn't descend, then it's less than 5%. So, with that said, if nothing happens on it's own, we'll do another c-section. This isn't what I wanted, but the goal is to minimize risks, which is why I wanted a VBAC in the first place. While a c-section is generally riskier, an emergency c-section carries a lot more risks than one that is planned.

A friend told me to just push for it, if I really want a VBAC. But I just don't think that's safe, given the info I have. What do you all think?.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Haven Swap Show-and-Tell

I was so excited to be part of this swap... and it's much easier now that I'm temporarily living in the United States! I had a great swap partner, Danielle, and she gave me so many goodies.

(My pictures won't load for some reason, so please go to visit Danielle, where she has posted pictures of everything I got her first, then pictures of all the wonderful things she got me!)

First, she got a Love Bug puppet and a Dragonfly teether for my kids- it was so nice of her to think of them!

She also got me chocolate and hand lotion as a special treat for me. The hand lotion has already found a special place in my diaper bag to replace some old lotion that was getting oily. I've had some of the chocolate in this past week, and all I can say is that it's so good!

My favorite things were for my porch, which is my haven at home. There is a plant charm... with some beads strung down from a stake, and the blue beads will look so pretty in my flower boxes with all the colorful flowers. She also made a gorgeous
set of candles with our initials and pictures of a Love Bug and Dragonfly. It was so thoughtful of her and will have a special place on our terrace in Rome.

Thanks to Danielle for being such a great swap partner, and to Carrie and Monica for organizing it- Carrie has a great link system set up for all the show-and-tells. What fun!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Our Mindset...

I found this article a few weeks ago, about the Bel.oit College Mind.set List. It started as a list to help college professors understand what cultural references their students would and would not understand. Now, it's become sort of a interesting glimpse, for anyone who reads it, into the minds of those starting college this year. Read the whole article if you can, it's really fascinating.

I went to the Be.loit College website and found the list here. The main page is this year's list for the Class of 2012, entering college this fall, but you can also use the pull down menu right under the title to find any other year they've created.

I was tickled to find that they actually go all the way back to 2002, for freshman starting in 1998, since I graduated from college in 2001, and started in 1997. This meant that the list would actually be close to my own mindset at the time, since I was starting college just one year earlier. I checked it out and while I agree with some of it, I'm also insulted that they think we were so clueless as kids. Here is the list, with some of my own recollections in italics:

1. The people starting college this fall across the nation were born in 1980, 1979 in my case.

2. They have no meaningful recollection of the Reagan era, and did not know he had ever been shot. I knew Reagan was shot.

3. They were prepubescent when the Persian Gulf War was waged.

4. Black Monday 1987 is as significant to them as the Great Depression. I took history and had grandparents- I know the Great Depression was much more significant.

5. There has only been one Pope. They can only remember one other president.

6. They were 11 when the Soviet Union broke apart, and do not remember the Cold War.

7. They have never feared a nuclear war. "The Day After" is a pill to them—not a movie.

8. They are too young to remember the Space Shuttle Challenger blowing up. I had just turned seven, and sadly, I remember it very vividly.

9. Their lifetime has always included AIDS.

10. They never had a polio shot, and likely, do not know what it is. I think they mean smallpox, since polio is still given today.

11. Bottle caps have not always been screw off, but have always been plastic. They have no idea what a pull top can looks like.

12. Atari pre-dates them, as do vinyl albums. See 14

13. The expression "you sound like a broken record" means nothing to them. See 14

14. They have never owned a record player. I had this record player actually! Fisher Price made similar ones (just more blue toned) until 1989, when I was ten.

15. They have likely never played Pac Man, and have never heard of "Pong." I've played both.

16. Star Wars looks very fake to them, and the special effects are pathetic.

17. There have always been red M&Ms, and blue ones are not new. What do you mean there used to be beige ones? I remember the beige ones, and when red M & Ms were reintroduced and how there were fears over red dye still being poison!

18. They may never have heard of an 8-track, and chances are they've never heard or seen one. A high school friend had an 8-track in his 1980 Vo.lvo, complete with one 8-track of the "All.man Brothers".

19. The compact disc was introduced when they were one year old.

20. As far as they know, stamps have always cost about 32 cents. I remember when they were 25 cents and I remember when gas was 99 cents.

21. They have always had an answering machine. I remember getting one.

22. Most have never seen a TV set with only 13 channels, nor have they seen a black & white TV. I've seen both and when we were first married we didn't have cable, so we only had 9 channels!

23. They have always had cable.

24. There have always been VCRs, but they have no idea what Beta is. We always had VHS, but I knew people who had Beta.

25. They cannot fathom what it was like not having a remote control.

26. They were born the year Walkmen were introduced by Sony.

27. Roller-skating has always meant in-line for them. My grade-school friends and I roller skated on real roller skates all the time!

28. "The Tonight Show" has always been with Jay Leno. I remember Johnny Carson.

29. They have no idea when or why Jordache jeans were cool.

30. Popcorn has always been cooked in the microwave.

31. They have never seen Larry Bird play, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a football player. What?... Larry Bird retired when I was 13.

32. They never took a swim and thought about Jaws.

33. The Vietnam War is as ancient history to them as WWI and WWII or even the Civil War.

34. They have no idea that Americans were ever held hostage in Iran. I don't know much about it, but I know it happened.

35. They can't imagine what hard contact lenses are. My Mom had them until she had laser eye surgery a few years ago.

36. They don't know who Mork was, or where he was from.

37. They never heard the terms "Where's the Beef?", "I'd walk a mile for a Camel" or "De plane, de plane!"

38. They do not care who shot J.R. and have no idea who J.R. is.

39. The Titanic was found? I thought we always knew where it was.

40. Michael Jackson has always been white. The scariest thing about Michael Jackson to me will always be "Thriller".

41. Kansas, Boston, Chicago, America, and Alabama are all places—not music groups. Good music, especially Chicago and Boston, is always in style.

42. McDonald's never came in Styrofoam containers. Big Macs were in Styrofoam until just a few years ago, weren't they?

43. There has always been MTV, and it has always included non-musical shows. I remember when they actually showed music videos!

Go check it out and see if you have any observations of your own. Make sure to check the list for the year you were supposed to graduate from college. Have fun!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Thanks!

I'm glad that so many people like the new blog design! Thank you. I got the tip from Leah at South Breeze Farm, and we got our blog designs from The Cutest Blog on the Block. Please though, use a different design from either of us, to keep it fun!

I picked this one because I love fall (it's my favorite season!) and it just looks like me! I love it. I've been wanting something different from what blogger offers for a long time.

Thank you also, to everyone who replied to my last post about vaccines. Just a few replies to some of the comments:

- I, like many of you, didn't think that the chicken pox vaccine was that important. In the end we gave it to Love Bug and will definitely give it to Dragonfly because of the risk of sterility in men who contract chicken pox as adults. I'm just more sensitive about things like that, because it took so long for us to conceive LB. Also, Cheri brought up the risk of open sores and MRSA... very smart and something I've never thought of before. Either way, it's not vital, just make sure all the adult men in your life know the risk of sterility if they catch it as adults.

- I also agree with Kathleen about how many vaccines they get at once. We also were able to spread ours out and once she showed no signs of problems with any of them, we went forward full steam ahead. And as an interesting note, Kathleen said she was branded after refusing the Hepatitis B shot at birth. In France, they don't give it at birth at all. You get the first three doses later. We did get all her doses of Hepatitis A & B because it's very common in Europe, just later.

- Danielle asked about my reference to not being able to take Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwiches to school. Yes, this is true in many places, included the Elementary School near the house we own (and rent out for now) in Washington, DC. It's to control peanut allergy reactions in kids with allergies. I understand this, especially if you've had an incident or many kids have allergies. But then letting unvaccinated kids walk around the school is no problem? That seems like a problem with priorities to me!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Back to Blogging... with a Vaccination Question

I'm back! My blog break was kinda unofficial, since I never announced it here, but with so many other people taking a break, it seemed like it would be okay. I had a horrible cold, which turned into a sinus infection, which further fueled my Olympic Obsession of sitting on the couch and watching TV.

Due to the possible conflicts that the post below brings up, please read the whole thing before commenting! Thank you.

So, on my first day back I have a big question. There has been an outbreak of measles in the US, and it's due to vaccination rates in the US dropping in recent years. I just don't understand the problem with vaccines, but I'm trying to understand. I consider myself a very educated, careful mother, and I find it almost insulting that some friends think I've made a bad choice by vaccinating. Here are my reasons for giving Love Bug vaccines:

1. The link between autism and the MMR vaccine is completely unfounded, as stated in this article. I actually know a few children from my years in education who were NOT vaccinated, due to family history of autism, but they still were diagnosed with it later.

2. Vaccination is important to us since we live overseas and we've travelled to countries in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, where vaccination rates are lower. From teaching in an economic disadvantaged area, I have seen what measles or diphtheria can do to babies who are too young to be vaccinated or those who can't be vaccinated, due to serious illnesses. Here is a direct quote from this article:

"In the decade before the measles vaccination program began, an estimated 3 to 4 million persons in the United States were infected each year. Of these, 400 to 500 died, 48,000 were hospitalized, and another 1,000 developed chronic disability from measles encephalitis."

Compare this to the measles vaccine, which only causes serious complications in 3 out of a million vaccines given, and has hardly ever been a cause of death in the millions upon millions of shots given.

3. I want to protect my children from problems later in life. Rubella (the R in MMR, also called German Measles) is fatal to unborn children when you're pregnant. If it doesn't kill the baby or cause a miscarriage, it can cause birth defects. I found out during my pregnancy that I'm not immune to Rubella, even though I was vaccinated twice. My doctor said that immunity can wane, but it's uncommon, and that I just need to get another MMR shot after I deliver. Most mothers she tests are immune. It's made my pregnancy very stressful, having to avoid situations where people may be unvaccinated. Immunity weakening (as in my case) is very rare, but if I don't get Love Bug vaccinated, then she will always have to worry during her child-bearing years. I've also heard the vaccine for Varicella (chicken pox) called unnecessary, but both my children will be vaccinated. Love Bug could give it to her adult husband, or Dragonfly could get it as an adult, which can cause sterility in over half of the reported cases.

So I want to know why people don't do it. I stated my reasons pretty clearly above, and I'm definitely willing to listen to MOST arguements for not vaccinating. If you have good reasons, then please tell me (nicely), so I can understand this better. I've been given these reasons listed below from friends of mine, but I don't think they're valid, so please come up with something else:

1. "If your children are vaccinated, it will be mine who gets sick, so why do you care?" I care because I'm at risk for catching Rubella, which could cause miscarriage or fetal death during my pregnancy. Losing your immunity is rare, but vaccines only work about 95 - 99% of the time, so we rely on each other to confere herd immunity. What about newborn babies who are too young to get vaccines? What about the elderly, or the sick who didn't get vaccines? What about HIV/AIDS patients, or cancer patients on chemotherapy, who could still contract the diseases no matter what vaccines they had, because their immune systems are so weak? That's why I care.

2. "I'm not putting my children at risk just for the good of everyone else." Vaccines carry much lower risk than the actual diseases themselves. And if someone really feels this way, then shouldn't they go live in the country, away from eveyone else? We live in a society and we have to live by rules for the good of everyone sometimes, and this includes public health issues, like vaccines. If this is the logic, then should people be able to drive fast, and potentially cause fatal car accidents, just because they have a good reason for being in a hurry?

3. "They put terrible stuff in vaccines, like aborted fetuses." This isn't true, but yes, there are human compounds in vaccines, but they are only used as a host for the infection, so the tissues can fight the disease and the defeated virus can be injected as a vaccine. The compound they use is produced by the human liver, and it should be noted, that only a living, breathing person has a productive enough liver to make this compound.


So what do you think? The playgroup I'm involved in here is thinking of not allowing unvaccinated children to attend. I don't know what to think. Most playgroups I've been involved in overseas have been through my husband's job, and they have a strict vaccination policy for everyone in the family. If you don't get all your shots, you don't move overseas. But it may come up at some point during my childrens' lives, if outbreaks continue. I think if someone could give me a good reason, I would be more understanding. But for the time being, I can't understand it. I can't understand why children aren't allowed to bring PB & J sandwiches to school because of children with allergies, but they can come unvaccinated and possibly spread it around to the newborn siblings, or immune compromised people who live with their classmates.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Slight Olympic Obsession...

So, I forgot to tell you all that I have a slight obsession with the Olympics. Such an obsession, in fact, that apparently I cannot blog. I really can't. I tried. I just start thinking about the Olympics every time I try to write a post about bilingualism. I CAN, however, comment on a few things so far in these Olympic games:

1. Opening ceremony was the coolest thing I've ever seen. And no, I don't care that some 7-year-old sang one of the songs, instead of the 9 year old that was on TV.

2. Love that our Men's 4 x 100 relay beat the French after their trash talking. I love that country, but boy can they be arrogant sometimes!

3. Syncronized diving is one of my favorite things to watch, but only for about 5 minutes. After that, it gets boring.

4. Love Bug apparently has Olympic fever too. She watched gymnastics with a blank stare I've never seen before. We never let her watch TV, and usually she's not interested, but wow... does she love some gymnastics.

5. Mich.ael Phe.lps is so impressive. I love that his Mom cries for every medal ceremony.

That's all I have this late at night. Any other observations?

In the meantime, I'll work on the bilingual post, but I can't promise anything!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Flying with a Toddler... while 7 months pregnant

First, I'll start by saying bravo to Ame.rican, because they were so good to us. We called a few weeks before the flight to request bulkhead seats and they were able to put some on hold for us, provided no one else on board needed them for serious medical reasons. We did end up getting those seats and it was so helpful! We were actually at the front of the economy section, which meant we had to only walk a few feet from the door to get to our seats.

They also were so helpful after we landed. All of the assistants were helping other people so one of the pilots grabbed Love Bug's car seat and a flight attendant grabbed a bag, so that I only had to push her in the stroller and carry a few personal items. It was wonderful. Once I got to passport control, they helped me get my bags through and get a cart... once I had a cart for all our bags, it was smooth sailing.

The real trouble was in the beginning, when I was just getting to the plane, before take-off. Most of Europe has special passport readers and people to check your bags before you get to the ticket counter. Fortunately in Paris (as in most airports), they were together, so you could still have family with you until you got your tickets and got to security. But in Rome? No, you do this in a separate front entrance, before moving into the ticketing area in the next space. They first told B that he couldn't come with me. But they also didn't want to try to find anyone to help me. Yes, me and a toddler with a small stroller, carseat, 3 bags, and two small carry-ons, could get there alone according to them. My wonderful husband just argued and finally a security guard agreed that he could come in with me, but had to leave just afterwards... because, oh yes, he loves just sitting by the ticket counter all day.

Once we got inside, again what a great experience with Amer.ican, because they knew according to the manifest, that a pregnant woman was travelling with a toddler. They called us forward and we got taken care of right away. Finally, we said our tearful goodbyes to Daddy and we were on our way! Security was a little daunting, because I had my stroller to fold, a toddler to chase and I had to get my laptop out of my one carry-on. I thought all was well until I tried to get my carseat through and realised that it wouldn't fit (we've never had that happen before and the opening looked small). They proceeded to make me walk with Love Bug, over to the special large x-ray machine. I tried to explain that my purse was sitting there alone with my tickets and passports, since it had already gone through the security line. No, I couldn't go get just my purse, I had to follow them, was their reply. They worked for five minutes at the computer next to the large x-ray and surprise, surprise... it didn't work!

They took me back to the original x-ray and just manually searched the chair and used the wand on it. LB and I got through the x-ray and of course, my bags and purse were sitting unattended as I had feared. I also was searching around for my bungee cords that held the carseat to the rolling carry-on. After I explained, they told me that they had thrown them away because they were a security risk. (The flight attendants who I told this story to later couldn't believe it, since they were the really flimsy plastic ones that they see passangers with all the time in the US.) I can see what they're saying, but of course, this caused me some concern because those cords kept all my stuff together in a way I could manage. I had a carseat, toddler in a stroller, and a few other bags. They told me they couldn't help me, but if I wanted assistance I could go back to the ticket counter. With all this stuff weighing me down, I laughed at this idea, and asked if they could call. The response... no.

By this point I had lost it. I was crying, dragging my bags and carseat behind me with one hand, while pushing LB in the stroller with the other. An American woman who saw me arguing with them took pity on me and carried the car seat. Once we walked around the corner, I saw a shuttle bus instead of gates... what was going on? I found out that this was just a special ticketing area they built due to overcrowding at the main airport, but actual flights don't take off. We had to take a shuttle to the main airport! We got on the shuttle and they dropped us off in front of a door with a huge escalator and elevator in front of it. Once we got to the top, there was another escalator and elevator to take again. Once I got to my gate, got checked in and walked towards the plane, what did I find here? Another escalator and elevator, but down this time. Does this seem ridiculous to anyone else? What idiot designed this place?

Finally, we got on the plane, called Daddy before turning off our phone, and sat in our seats. We were finally loaded and I had buckled LB in her carseat, per their request. This is when the captain came on and said that since we were not finished loading our bags until 2 minutes after they had planned, they gave away our take-off spot. We were now scheduled to be an hour later. You could hear the pilot's aggrevation with the air traffic control and could tell when he said, "I'm working to get this changed", that he meant he WOULD get it changed. He did and we finally took off a half hour late.

The flight itself was pretty difficult, since LB didn't want to sit in her seat for most of it. So I held her and chased her and got out every toy we had, and even resorted to a few things that weren't toys. Meals were especially difficult since I HAD TO eat and so did LB; being pregnant and being a toddler require lots of nourishment over a 10 hour flight. She hated eating in her carseat, and I hated balancing both meals on my tray. We did make it, but I think I almost started crying in frustration about 48 times. The rest of the passangers were sweet and played with her and gave her treats and so did the flight attendants, and I'm convinced that these kind, wonderful people were the only reason I made it in one piece.

Not to sound insensitive, but if you're worried about flying as a family (meaning your spouse will be with you too)... I have no pity for you! ;-) We've done it many times as a family and having another adult to take turns with is a lifesaver. If you will be alone (especially pregnant or not feeling well in any way), you have my complete pity! But either way, here is my advice:

1. Make friends with the flight attendants, by being an easy passenger in every way except having a toddler with you.
2. Pack favorite toys, books, one drink, some small snacks, and a few diapers/wipes all in one smallish bag. It's easier to kick around (and pass back and forth with your spouse) than a big bag. Put the change of clothes, baby tylen.ol, and other non-essentials in the larger bag in the overhead bin.
3. Buy another seat if you can afford it or get a discount. Having a seat for Love Bug, even though she only used it about half the time, was so helpful for meals and naps. It's also much safer in the event of major turbulence or a rough landing.
4. If you're alone, get assistance in anyway you can. Ask when you purchase your flight, ask the ticket agent, ask the flight attendants, and even ask other passangers. I even had the wonderful US passport officer finding someone to bring me a cart.
5. Be creative- find other ways to entertain your child... anything you can find. We got a styrofoam cup from a flight attendant and it so much fun for about a half hour.
6. Bring regular, over the head earphones if you can find some or buy some cheaply. LB didn't like the ear buds they provided on the place, but I had regular earphones since my iP.od ear buds broke a few months ago. She was able to watch the movie. I usually don't let her watch TV so this was a real treat!
7. Walk the aisles every hour if the seat belt sign is off. It's good for the kids to walk and it's good to prevent blood clots in adults too. (I had my lovely compression stockings on and was looking just bee-uuu-tiful!)

Oh, and since I have to tease a little... here are my other two pieces of advice:

8. Don't fly with a toddler.
9. Don't fly through or from Rome.

If I think of anything else, I'll let you know. Good luck to everyone travelling, even if your spouse will be with you. It's stressful and hard no matter what. I wish you no delays, little turbulance, and a nice long nap for everyone!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

We're here!

We have been here for almost a week, but it's been exhausting! Lots of unpacking, including the boxes I mailed ahead of time. We've been to the pool, to the beach (Lake Michigan), shopping, and to a wondeful Chicago Symphony Concert of Broadway tunes at this awesome location! It's a drive for us, but well worth it. We sat on the lawn and had a picnic... scroll down on the webpage for a photo of the lawn fun.

I've spent time with my Mom, my brother and we'll see all my extended family this weekend! I feel so blessed to be home.

The only thing missing is my sweet husband, B! He's doing a special work assignment for 5 and a half weeks away from home (which is good since I'd freak out if he needed to take a 5 week trip next Spring and left me home with two kids). Being able to come home has made the timing good, but it's still hard! When Love Bug saw a picture of all of us yesterday and pointed to him saying "Da-da", it broke my heart. He has reassured me that this trip is a one time thing to help move him up to management. Thank God he isn't in the military. We'd be terrible at it (how strong you all are who do this. I pray for you everyday!) I'm crying every day and not hungry, and he's not sleeping well and is a little depressed. We've only been apart a few times since we got married. The year and a half before that when we were dating, we saw each other every day. It's not the work load... I can handle Love Bug alone (add Dragonfly and we'll see), but I just miss him and his wondeful company. It makes my heart ache even more for my Mom, after we lost my Dad two years ago. He was healthy, only 52... I can't imagine knowing the love of your life is gone forever.

I'll be posting about our flight home this Wednesday. It was so much worse than I expecting- maybe because I'm seven months pregnant and chasing a toddler. But really... it... was... awful! I've learned a few things, so I'll post about my story and give my advice (I'll try to say more than "Don't do it!"). Also, I'm doing my bilingual post on Friday, so if you have any questions or ideas for what to include, let me know! We've just had a big jump in language recently, so it's good timing!

Glad to be back to blogging and to the good old USA!