Saturday, June 30, 2012

7 Quick Takes: Volume 7: Baby Edition

Thanks to Jen for hosting! If I needed an excuse for my blogging absence the past ten days, the following should suffice.

--- 1 ---
First things first: we welcomed our baby girls Emily and Erin on June 19th at 9:01 and 9:02 pm!
--- 2 ---
I still can't believe we get to keep them. They are so perfect and beautiful.
Erin and Emily, 1 day old.

--- 3 ---
I love being a mom more than I could have imagined.
--- 4 ---
It feels very strange not to be pregnant anymore. Wearing normal clothes (and shoes!) will definitely take some getting used to. As of the last couple of days, I move around a lot more easily too, which is making all of our lives easier.
--- 5 ---
Although I was induced at 38 weeks with a plan for a regular delivery, the girls were born by Caesarean section after 15 hours of labor with almost no progress. I was terrified the half-hour leading up to the surgery, but my doctor did a fantastic job and I am recovering well. We were in the hospital from Tuesday morning until Saturday afternoon, which gave all three of us time to recover and figure out what we were supposed to be doing. Dan did literally everything while we were there, since I couldn't really walk around without hunching over and holding my belly. These babies have the most awesome dad ever! He has easily changed three times as many diapers as I have already.
--- 6 ---
It has occurred to us that everything you do with a baby is a "first." So far, the twins have had their first diaper change, first meal, first bath, first outfits, first photo shoot, first car trip, first music on the radio, first stroller ride, first doctor's visit, first walk outdoors . . . and we've been home just barely a week. I can't wait to show them more of everything!                      
--- 7 ---
The last ten days have been the beginning of the most amazing experience I've ever had. I really can't wait for more. Did I mention I love being a mom?

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

7 Quick Takes: Volume 6

Thanks to Jen for hosting!

--- 1 ---

So . . . I guess we'll start with the big news first . . . we have a date! Unless I go into labor before then, we have an induction scheduled on Tuesday, June 19th at 6 am! I'm so excited to hold our babies and see what they look like. Here's hoping they can be coaxed out!

--- 2 ---

I decided to look up saints for that day, and according to Catholic Online, two of the saints who have their feast day on June 19th are twin martyrs: St. Gervase and St. Protase, d. 165. What are the chances?! I love how God leads me right to these things, because I only read a few of the saints listed before discovering these two. The date had more to do with when my OB was on call and when I'd be 38 weeks along (she scheduled it for us) but I'm convinced it isn't a coincidence. . .

--- 3 ---

Tuesday was National Peanut Butter Cookie Day, and I saw Four Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies on Pinterest. I looked up the actual recipe on and made them (didn't get around to it until Thursday, but still) and they were good! I don't think I'd use the stir-up kind of peanut butter next time, because the cookies were a little on the crumbly side from all the oil, but they tasted great and were really easy to make, especially with the stand mixer!

--- 4 ---

I've had this insane urge to clean our apartment the last couple of days, and I even spent my rest time the other day making a list of household jobs organized by daily, 2-3 times weekly, weekly, and monthly tasks. My next plan was to organize them by length of time to complete the task and whose responsibility each task would be, but . . .

--- 5 ---

. . . I worked on the twins' scrapbook instead. I had gone through their ultrasound pictures a few weeks ago, since I could pretty easily sort and clip pictures while lying down, but actually cutting paper, arranging the page elements, and gluing the whole thing together is really difficult to do unless you can be above the book. I'm pretty pleased with how they came out! I'd like to add some pictures of the nursery and pictures of Dan and I, but one step at a time.

--- 6 ---

Two blog posts I really enjoyed this week: Caitlin's on "practical atheism" (believing in God, but living daily life without including Him) and Elizabeth's on how we might view modesty differently if men always said what was on their minds in regards to our clothing. The women of #cathsorority are constantly inspiring me to live my life "with faith ever in my mind", which is wonderful!

--- 7 ---

It's Father's Day this weekend, and this will be Dan's first one! I'm constantly giving thanks for him, since he does such a wonderful job taking care of me (all of us, really) and making me happy every day. So my final quick take is dedicated to my wonderful husband, the best anyone could ask for! Our daughters don't yet know how lucky they are to have you as a daddy, so I'll speak for them too. We love you! Happy Father's Day!!

That's all for this week! Next week, there will be . . . BABY PICTURES!! Hope you all have a great weekend! Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there, especially mine! I love you, Dad!


For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Our twin pregnancy journal: Third Trimester, Months 8 & 9

Month 8:
I started off the month still horizontal, trying as hard as I could to stay relaxed and keep our babies healthy and growing. Every time I went to the doctor, I was re-evaluated and told whether or not I'd need to have steroids for the babies' lung development. The steroid shots, I was told, had to be administered by 34 weeks, but were best given in the week before delivery. So each week, the doctor tried to determine if I was likely to give birth over the next 7 days. Finally, right around 34 weeks, my doctor and the maternal-fetal medicine specialist decided it was time for the injections. The first one was   very uncomfortable. For the rest of the evening, my leg felt as though it was running an intense stair workout, all by itself! In hindsight, I think the injection must have gone into a muscle group. Luckily, the second injection was much more comfortable, the only side effect being that I was very thirsty the rest of the weekend. I think I drank almost 2 gallons of water and Gatorade a day! My body seemed to be making it clear that this foreign substance was entirely unwelcome.

The following appointment included a growth scan, a detailed ultrasound to check the babies' progress and estimate their size. They were estimated to be 5 lbs, 5 oz and 5 lbs, 8 oz, which is a great size for 34 weeks! Everything else looked great as well, and the doctor seemed very happy. With the good ultrasound results and the fact that I'd had the steroid injections, she even said I could get up and do more - go out and have coffee if I'd like, or go out to dinner with Dan. We were thrilled, since it had been a long time since we'd been out anywhere other than the doctor together, and took advantage of my new freedom a few times over the next week. Since it was still hard for me to walk for a long time, I got to ride in scooter carts when we went to the store. It was fun the first few times, but the novelty quickly wore off!

One of my first outings - after Mass, 35 weeks pregnant

Month 9:
Thus began the waiting. We continued to see the doctor weekly, although I no longer needed to have an ultrasound every time. Each visit, the doctor would say that I probably would be having the babies soon. At 36 weeks, we had another growth scan, and this time the twins' weights were estimated at 7 lbs, 2 oz (Emily) and 6 lbs, 13 oz (Erin). Although those would be great weights for single babies and put the twins in a very healthy position for birth, they still didn't seem interested in entering the outside world. After all the weeks spent patiently resting in bed or on the couch, it seemed very strange to be waiting to go into labor!

In the nursery, 35-36 weeks pregnant

I was even more surprised to hear talk of being induced when I went in for my normal weekly appointment at 36.5 weeks. My doctor was out of the office, so I saw one of her colleagues. She checked to see if I was dilated, said I was at 2 cm, and then said it was likely I would have the babies very soon, within the next week or 10 days. She then asked if we planned on a C-section or vaginal delivery. I said I had planned on a vaginal delivery since both of the girls presented head down, but didn't want too much intervention. I added that since every intervention, as I understood it, would increase my likelihood of needing a C-section, I could see the logic in simply having one if that was what I was likely to need. She explained that there was still a significant amount of risk in having a C-section, especially since we are young and could have more children, and that this was something to consider. She finished by saying that most likely I would go into labor soon on my own, but once I reached 38 weeks I would either be induced or have a C-section because of the risk to the babies.

My 37 week checkup went much the same, except that I saw my doctor and she monitored the babies' heartbeats and my contractions. I'd been in to Labor and Delivery the night before, but sent home because I wasn't really making any progress and wasn't very far dilated. She checked me again to see if she could "get things started", said I'd made progress since the night before, and scheduled me for an appointment two days later, when she'd be on call and I could be admitted if I'd continued to progress.

Up until 36 weeks, I'd felt fairly comfortable. Although my belly was huge, and I had between 13 and 15 pounds of babies inside at any given time, I didn't feel too much other than being tired and hot. At 36 weeks, swelling kicked in. My right leg would daily swell to four times the size of my left. In a panic, I went to the doctor the first day this happened, but was reassured it was completely normal. After I knew it was normal, I found it funny! We took another belly picture just prior to 37 weeks, since it had been a while since I'd looked at myself from the side. I was amazed to see how far my belly stuck out - it explained the stares we got when I went somewhere (other than the doctor) with Dan!

Me, 36-37 weeks pregnant

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Our twin pregnancy journal: Third Trimester, Month 7

Month 7:
We started off the third trimester by heading out to the beach to spend the weekend with Dan's dad's side of the family. We got married the same summer as most of his cousins, so we're all at somewhat the same stage of life although we're different ages. His older cousins already have kids, so it was great for us to spend a weekend hanging out with them and interacting with little ones. The family had rented out a guest house for the weekend, attached to a motel where his family has been coming for generations. Some people stayed in the house, and others rented rooms. We rented a room because I sleep so restlessly and have to get up so much, but we spent most of our time in the living area of the house, catching up with his grandparents, aunts and uncles and hanging out with the kids. The drive both ways was long, but it was still nice and relaxing to get out of town for a few days. Overall, we had a really fun time and I'm glad we got to go!

I was even more glad we'd gone once we got back. Once I got back to work, I knew my time was limited as far as getting ready for maternity leave. Officially, I had a little over three weeks left, but there was so much I needed to do and teach, it felt like I'd be gone in a few days! Needless to say, my stress level peaked, and with it the number of contractions I'd been having. On April 18th, I went to work in the morning, planning to leave around 11. Dan's boss had surreptitiously planned a surprise baby shower for him at work during her visit to his office. Since she lives in the Midwest and only comes out here once a year or so, it was a pretty big deal. I had known about the shower for a few weeks, and had managed to keep it a complete secret. I also managed to leave right on time and get to his office before anyone would see me and give away the surprise (phew!). He was shocked when he came downstairs and saw me standing with all his coworkers! We had a great time and received lovely gifts.

After the shower, I realized I still had some things to take care of at work, since I had the following day off. I could either go back and finish or come in on my day off. I decided to go back and finish, although it would mean a very long day when I was already tired. I compromised by taking a short nap before driving back. I finished my tasks at work in about 3 hours, and was exhausted but very relieved that I would have a whole day off to recover.

The contractions had intensified throughout the afternoon, but I'd been too busy to really pay attention. Once I got home and sat down, however, it was clear that they were coming regularly and often. By 9:30, about 2 hours after I'd gotten home, they had been coming every 8 minutes for over an hour. I called my doctor's office to see what I needed to do. As luck would have it, my doctor was on call, and she said that if I couldn't get them to stop, I needed to go to the hospital and get evaluated.

Water, a warm shower, changing position, and distracting myself made no difference. I continued to contract every 8-10 minutes, so regularly that I could watch the clock and know when a contraction was coming. They were uncomfortable enough that I couldn't sleep. All I could think about was my friend's preterm labor with her twins, and how it had started so similarly. About 11:40, I woke Dan up and told him we needed to go to the hospital. We drove out, checked in, and I got admitted.

Lying on the bed in the triage room, the contractions continued, though they weren't getting longer or stronger as I'd heard they should when you were in labor. I knew, however, that there was still danger that I could become prematurely dilated from the contractions. Most importantly, I was only 29 weeks pregnant, and was nowhere near ready to go into labor!  Hooked up to a machine that measured both of the girls' heartbeats as well as my contractions, I worried with Dan about whether or not I'd get to go home. Around 2 am, the nurse said my contractions had spaced far enough apart that she was going to call my doctor and find out if I could leave. I was released and we were allowed to go home. By the time we got there, it was almost 3 am. Poor Dan had to drag himself out of bed just four hours later to go to work. I got to sleep for most of the day, luckily. The contractions had subsided some (clearly I needed the rest) but still picked up whenever I got up. I called my doctor's office and the nurse on duty said I needed to stay on bed rest and not go back to work until I'd been seen by my doctor, who wouldn't be there until Monday. I confidently called my boss and told him I'd be back Tuesday. He sounded a bit skeptical, but said he'd wait to hear from me.

On Monday, I drove out to the doctor's office and was seen by my doctor. Again, I was hooked up to the monitor and checked for dilation. I also had an ultrasound to check my cervical length. When my doctor discovered it was just about 2 cm, she said I was done with work. She called the hospital to confer with a maternal-fetal medicine specialist, who recommended that I be given steroid injections if it got any shorter. My fears of preterm labor were evidently justified.

I called my boss to tell him I wouldn't be coming back, and began my second round of bed rest. This time was more difficult than the first time. I was supposed to spend as much time as I could lying on my side, and my belly had gotten big enough that I couldn't stay comfortable for too long. I alternated my time between reading and watching TV. Some days I stayed in bed all day, others I would switch between the bed and the couch. My mom spent a lot of time helping us grocery shop and cook, which was a wonderful blessing. Dan did a great job keeping up with housework along with working all the time. Weekly doctor's appointments assured that I at least got to be outside one day a week. The rest of the month passed without much excitement, although I did get a reprieve to attend my baby showers (very fun!). Every day I was able to spend without a lot of contractions was another day the twins got to keep growing, so I focused on eating lots of protein to help them grow and drinking as much as I could to stay well-hydrated and lessen the contractions.
30 weeks pregnant

Monday, June 11, 2012

Our twin pregnancy journal: Second Trimester

Month 4:
We started off my fourth month of pregnancy by picking up where we'd left off before Christmas. I was thrilled to go in for an appointment at 16 weeks and get to hear the babies' heartbeats with the Doppler! Up until then, I'd had an ultrasound at every appointment. I joked that I had graduated from being a trauma case. We made an appointment for 20 weeks, where we would have an ultrasound and we'd get to learn our babies' genders! It was around this time that my belly started growing noticeably. I had started to notice a difference in how my clothes fit around 9 weeks, but I didn't start to really show until I was around 15 weeks. By 17 weeks, I felt as though I did a good job filling out my maternity tops (little did I know!) and by 19 weeks, I was very obviously pregnant. It seemed to happen almost overnight.
Me, 19 weeks pregnant (with curly hair!)
We went on a trip around the time this picture was taken, to celebrate the end of morning sickness and the fact that I hadn't yet gotten uncomfortable enough to be unable to ride in the car for a long time. It was a nice weekend, spent partly in Portland and partly in Astoria. We got to spend time walking around, one of the last times I remember going for a walk of any significant length other than at work! I don't remember much else about this month, except that I felt much more like myself than I had for a long time. I was so energetic a few of the days that I even made an effort to try and get some exercise!
Month 5:
We had our ultrasound the week after our trip, right after I was 20 weeks. We were so nervous about getting all the things we needed to have the ultrasound recorded "right" that we were late! I apologized profusely to the sonographer, who assured us that she'd only worried because most couples are very excited and can't wait another minute to find out. People had been asking for months what we "thought" we were having, and at first I'd had a dream where there were two babies: one boy and one girl. After that, however, I didn't have any more dreams where I could tell the gender of both babies. I just had a very strong feeling that both were girls, as did Dan. When we started choosing names, I was convinced! It took us almost no time to agree on a second boy's name (we'd already picked one boy and one girl name before I found out I was pregnant) but the second girl's name took weeks. This was obviously a very important decision. So when I laid down on the table and she asked what we thought we were having, we told her girls. I added that this was only logical, since on my dad's side of the family, the oldest child seems to be a girl almost every time. My dad is the second oldest of 5 kids and the only boy. All of his sisters who had kids have a girl for their oldest. When it comes to us cousins having kids, so far it's been an even split, but the odds are still overwhelmingly in favor of girls, historically.

The sonographer appeared skeptical, and continued with the ultrasound, saying something about how that was impossible because there is no link between the mother's genealogy and the gender of a baby. Several minutes passed while she measured various parts of the babies, who complicated matters by squirming and kicking all over the place. Finally, she pronounced that we did, indeed, have two baby girls! She gave us a long strip of pictures, including adorable profile shots of both girls.

We were very excited to share the news with our families, although we kept it to ourselves for the rest of the day. We'd invited our parents to meet us at our favorite Mexican restaurant so that we could share the ultrasound results with them. Someone had suggested to me that wrapping up something with the "answer" on it was a fun way to share, and we'd decided to have one box for each of our moms to open. At the mall, after much deliberation, we finally settled on a little pink onesie and a little yellow onesie. Adding something with their names turned out to be significantly more difficult - apparently, it's not usually a spur-of-the-moment decision to personalize something for your child. Finally, we settled on the little tricycle license plates sold at the toy store. When we explained our idea to the sales clerk at Gymboree, she was happy to provide decorative gift boxes. A scrapbook kit at Target completed my purchases, and I spent the afternoon crafting the first pages for each girl.

We handed our moms the identical boxes and let them unwrap. Although the yellow onesie created momentary confusion, the license plates cleared it up. Both sets of parents were delighted with the news and the names, and we were excited to have shared it in a creative way.

After starting off so eventfully, the rest of the month passed in relative calm as I started a new position at work and spent most of my time and energy trying to do my best. We were able to shop and plan, knowing we were having two baby girls, and adorable pink outfits started filling the closet in our nursery.
First scrapbook page: Erin Maureen

First scrapbook page: Emily Grace

Month 6:
Although everyone I know who's had a baby tells me that the second trimester was the most comfortable, I don't believe this is the case for twins. Now I've only been pregnant with twins, and I have found it to be an enjoyable experience, but your belly grows so much faster with two babies that third trimester discomforts kick in a little early. In other words, if you'd like to know what to expect, you need to skip ahead a chapter or two!

When I was between 24 and 25 weeks pregnant, I started having such strong Braxton-Hicks contractions that breathing became difficult. My doctor said this was understandable and didn't concern her too much, but the fact that I was still working 10 hour days did. I started working 6-7 hour days and came home for a nap in the afternoon. This seemed to help, although the contractions continued. However, since I wasn't exhausted all the time, I began to feel better and was able to actually do things after work, like cook dinner and enjoy spending time with my husband. At this point, we set a date that I would start my maternity leave, deciding on 33 weeks since my job is almost entirely standing and walking. With this date set, shorter hours, and a more relaxed day-to-day life, we planned to head over to the coast for a family reunion right as my second trimester ended. . .
Me, 25 weeks pregnant

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Guest Post!

I have a guest post today over at Catholic Cookie Jar. Caitlin has one of the most adorable blogs I've ever seen - so many cute pictures of her husband and her! Plus she is a fantastic writer with some great posts about faith and married life. She's doing a series on Catholic marriage right now, and I wrote about our experience. Check it out here, and also check out the other posts in the series! Hope you're having a great weekend!

Friday, June 8, 2012

7 Quick Takes: Volume 5

Thanks to Jen for hosting!

--- 1 ---

So here we are - June 8. Will this day be our girls' birthday? Will it be tomorrow? According to the doctor, it could be "any day now!" I think my patience is being tested, because I really want to know. I'm excited for them to be born, obviously, but I'm more excited to just know the date. We do have some idea of when it will be, or at least when it won't be - I was told this week I'll be induced by 38 weeks (so before June 20th, as far as I can figure. I'll get confirmation from my doctor next week). I guess I need to pray for patience . . .

I'm starting to see why I attract so much attention in public now - I hadn't looked at myself in the context of my other "belly shots" until yesterday!

--- 2 ---

As I'm sure any expectant mama does, I have a long(ish) list of things I'd like to get done before the girls arrive. As I mentioned yesterday, one of those is getting some lists and charts made that I imagine will be helpful in our new life as four. Meal planning and grocery shopping, chores, and (most importantly) baby records for the pediatrician. I think I may end up designing these myself, but again, if anyone has links or ideas, I'd love to see/hear about them!

--- 3 ---

Even though our Oregon weather hasn't looked like it this week, it's almost summer! One of my favorite things about summer is the bounty of fresh fruit and vegetables. I have a few dishes that I love to make this time of year, like fresh raspberry pie and Italian zucchini. What's your favorite summer dish?

--- 4 ---

It was Dan's birthday this week, and we had fun celebrating with his family and also at home. He's a big fan of vanilla cake (as a kid, he couldn't have chocolate) so his sister made him a big batch of vanilla cupcakes for the party and I made him a cake for home. Well, I should say my mom and the mixer helped me make a cake. Either way, it looked pretty awesome and tasted even better! Did I mention there were sprinkles on the inside, too?

--- 5 ---

I had a guest post this week over at Reflections of a Catholic in Formation. In case you missed it, check it out here! And while you're over there, don't miss the rest of the You Are Beautiful posts so far - Christina is running this series through the whole month of June, with a different talented blogger sharing her views on beauty each day. Check it out!

--- 6 ---

I finished reading Bringing up Bébé this week, and I enjoyed it. My mom is enjoying it now that I'm done! Overall, the author brings up some good points about how American parents can tend towards overdoing it when it comes to taking care of their kids, trying too hard to make everything perfect and forgetting to just let kids be kids. The environments, however, are so vastly different that it would be difficult to replicate many of the things the author points out as being beneficial. State-run daycare and preschools certainly would improve the behavior of many children in America today, providing a consistent source of nutritious food and a more stable disciplinary environment, at least as described in the book. They also offer peace of mind to parents, who know that there is a rigorous certification course needed to work in one of these daycare centers or preschools. Overall, I'd recommend reading this book, even if you don't have kids yet or yours are grown up. I still think there are some ideas that would be worth trying in there, and like I said last week, it's an entertaining read either way.

--- 7 ---

Last but not least, I got new running shoes this week! I'm super excited about this, perhaps overly so. They were on sale, which is always nice. Apparently this week was an in-between time where the store was trying to clear out last year's styles and colors, so our selection was a little limited, but I found a pair I liked and so did Dan. (His birthday present from his family was gift cards to pick out new running shoes). He's already taken his out for their first few runs, but mine are still sitting with their tags on. All the more motivation to get out there and get to it this summer! They look pretty nice right now: I know that I'll get plenty of chances to run in them, although their first few weeks will likely be as walking, not running shoes. From what I've read, it's important to wait for a few weeks post-partum (I'll have to ask my doctor exactly how many) before running, as your body has to put itself back together, so to speak. If you're like me and didn't run during pregnancy at all, that's even more important. It will be worth it though - I can't wait to take our babies out in their new jogging stroller!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Just an update . . .

I wanted to share a little of what's been going on here this week. We went for what will most likely be our last ultrasound earlier this week, at least until we are in the hospital. It was bittersweet for sure. While I'm excited to meet our girls in person this month, it's been so much fun watching them grow and interact on that screen for the last 29 weeks. I really love how detailed ultrasounds are - you can even see baby hair on their heads!

We were really hoping that they'd kept growing and putting on weight since the last ultrasound, which had been done right around 34 weeks. They'd been estimated at 5 lbs 5 oz and 5 lbs 8 oz at that time, which is a nice size for twins! Since they were so large then, we wondered if they would have gained much weight by the next ultrasound. My belly kept growing, though, so we figured they were too. And grow they had! The sonographer estimated their weight right around 7 lbs each. All of their movement and activity was right on target as well. The doctor was very pleased and said she hoped to see us in the hospital soon, and if I made it that far, next Tuesday would be my last doctor's appointment! Because of the babies' size, they don't want me to go any farther than 38 weeks. So right around June 19th, at the very latest, our baby girls will come out to meet us! I have mixed feelings about being induced, but I'd like them to come out healthy. If they decide to come on their own between now and then, I'd be a happy mama (but I will be either way!)

Other than that, it's been pretty quiet around here. We celebrated Dan's birthday on Monday. I made him a cake and my mom was nice enough to help me frost it, since I can't really get close enough to the counter to do a nice job. I contributed some sprinkle decorating, though. It turned out pretty well, I think! I didn't get a chance to take a picture before it got cut and covered up, but here is the uncut side:
Our yummy cake (the foil wanted a piece too!)

I'm working on getting organized before the babies come, trying to come up with charts and lists we can use to make sure things are getting done and tracked like they should. I know I won't be too worried about keeping the apartment clean at first, as long as it's basically sanitary, but it seems like as the weeks go on, a chore chart will help us keep track of what needs doing without trying to do it all on one day. A list of easy-to-prep meals that we like, along with the ingredients needed to make them, will help us shop and cook as efficiently as possible. The most important chart will be the one to keep track of feedings, diapers, and sleep patterns. This is pretty much non-negotiable, because I don't know how else we'd be able to remember any of that for the pediatrician. It's important, too. If anybody has a good link to charts like these or any experience with them, please let me know! I'd love to hear about it.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Guest Post!

I'm guest posting today over at Reflections of a Catholic in Formation as part of Christina's You Are Beautiful series. I wrote about how our ideas of beauty get mixed up these days with how we appear to others, and whether that's really how God wants us to appear to the world. Go check it out, and keep reading, because this series goes through the entire month of June! Don't forget to read the first few posts too.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

7 Quick Takes: Volume 4

Thanks to Jen for hosting! I'm a day late to the party this week, and I apologize. See below for my ummm . . . possibly acceptable excuse:

--- 1 ---

I had high hopes for getting these written on Thursday, but it was 89 degrees and very humid. Miserable weather for a pregnant one. Same with Friday. When it finally started to rain last night, I was one happy girl. We had all our windows open (well, all the ones that open) as well as our patio door, and left them open all night. So please, forgive me for the fact that it's Saturday. Today was much better, so I got some writing done! I know it's June, but the rain can hang around for a few days as far as I'm concerned. It's Oregon. That's what it does here :)

--- 2 ---

We really look like parents now! Our backseat is sporting - you guessed it - two very cute, securely fastened baby car-seats. How do we know they're securely fastened, you ask? Well, this morning we went and had them inspected by the police department at their annual child safety seat check. The inspector spent almost an hour showing us how to install the seats correctly, how to install a baby (well, a baby doll) in the seat correctly, and how to adjust every feature on the seat so it could be used safely for a variety of purposes. If you have kids or are expecting a baby, I strongly recommend seeing if there is an event like this in your area! Here we have one each month through the fire department and one yearly through the police department.

--- 3 ---

Remembering the original intent of my blog, I spent some time this week polishing up a journal entry which covers the first trimester of my pregnancy. Check it out! I had fun remembering all the details and I'm definitely planning to finish the last two entries ASAP! I don't know how much more of these leisurely, relaxing days I'm going to have . . .

--- 4 ---

Speaking of finishing things ASAP, I'm feeling the push to have everything clean and organized and ready for our baby girls! The weather this week definitely squashed any energy I had to actually do much with the push, but now that it's cooler, the doctor did say I was okay to be even a little bit more active. Yesterday was Friday, June 1st. I've had that day circled in my mind for most of my pregnancy, ever since we found out we were having twins and they are (on average) born at 36 weeks. Well, we made it! As of right this minute, there have been a few signs that they might be thinking about coming out soon, but nothing very definitive. If they have tomorrow in mind as their birthday, they can share it with their lovely Aunt Sarah. If they wait until Monday, they can share with their daddy! Maybe they'll wait until Tuesday to have it all to themselves . . . who knows!

--- 5 ---

I've read a lot of parenting books while I've been pregnant. Considering I've been home for most of my third trimester and on bed rest in some form for a total of 9 weeks during my pregnancy, I'm surprised I didn't read more. Most of them have focused on the aspects of parenting that most interested me: raising twins and being a greener parent. I started reading one this week, however, that doesn't really deal with either so far. It's called Bringing Up Bebe: The Wisdom of French Parenting, written by Pamela Druckerman. I heard about it on NPR a few months back and liked the premise. So far, I really like what I've read of it. The author is American and lives in Paris, and wrote about her observations of French parents as she raised her daughters. When she had questions about their methods, she went to the experts. I love the idea that parents can be authority figures in their kids' lives, and I'm excited to try some of the things she talks about! It's a really fast read so far, and pretty funny.

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In the spirit of not having all the time in the world to get ready anymore, I'm trying to speed up my morning routine. I can usually shower, get dressed, do makeup and dry my hair in about 20 minutes, which might be as fast as it gets. Anybody got any good suggestions?

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Last but not least, I'm so proud of Dan and how wonderful a dad he's going to be. It's been wonderful seeing him read the parenting books I've read, taking parenting and childbirth classes with me, and preparing for the next stage of this journey together. I thank God every day for bringing us together - I love you, babe!

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Friday, June 1, 2012

Is this really a "sweet" solution?

First thing yesterday morning, I saw this link pop up in my Facebook news feed. I recommend reading the article, but essentially, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is moving to ban the sale of sweetened drinks in any size larger than 16 ounces. He believes this will help to slow the obesity epidemic that is sweeping our nation, basing this conclusion on data from the city's health commissioner linking higher rates of obesity to neighborhoods where more soft drinks are consumed. The author of the article emphasizes that Mayor Bloomberg has tried twice to restrict the sale of soft drinks, failing once in the State Legislature and once with the FDA. It's clear he's convinced that New Yorkers stand to gain, though not in the traditional sense, from consuming fewer sweetened drinks.
This topic is near and dear to my heart because I spent a term researching the same issue for my Information Gathering (more commonly known as Info Hell) journalism class at the University of Oregon. To digress for a moment, the class requires students to annotate 35 sources on both sides of a divisive issue and then use these sources to write a 30-page paper. Each annotation went into great detail and had to be at least 2 pages, picking apart the source and examining its rationale and bias. For the math whizzes out there, yes, that is a 100-page paper! Mine was about soda machines in schools. I've been fascinated by child nutrition and child obesity ever since.
It's always interesting to hear people argue that junk food is not the cause of obesity. When I first starting researching who would be in favor of soda machines in schools, I found to my surprise that it was school organizations (sports teams, for example) who depended on revenue from the machines. Ironic, indeed, considering that coaches normally encourage healthy eating for their players, including drinking water as opposed to soda. Beverage companies, of course, are also on board with their product, denying that they are to blame for the rampant obesity in America and seeing no reason why their drinks should not be available in schools.
Let's join the naysayers for a moment and consider the issue at hand. There's no denying it, Americans have a weight problem. We, as a nation, need to get healthy. How exactly to accomplish this is a matter for debate, mainly because there are a lot of causes that need to be addressed. Certainly, it's possible to become overweight solely by taking in too many calories. Sugary drinks, such as soda, "juice" drinks, sweetened tea, fancy coffees, sports drinks, and even fruit juice, offer an easy way to do this without even noticing. In fact, studies have been done showing that people who consumed caloric beverages with their meals did not reduce their food intake to account for the extra calories. They ate the same amount as subjects who drank water. I even read one for my paper that had done the same experiment with preschoolers, finding the same results.
This underscores an important point, though: extra calories generally equal extra weight only if the total calories are more than the body requires. There are exceptions, but I don't think we can completely blame the consumption of such drinks for our expanding waistlines. For one thing, these drinks aren't exactly new. They have undergone some major recipe changes in the last few decades with the addition of high-fructose corn syrup, but since I majored in journalism, not chemistry, I'll leave that one for the scientists.
For our purposes, we'll consider the "original" version of most mainstream soft drinks. Even with just sugar as a sweetener, we're not talking about a healthy beverage. It's sugar, water, flavoring, and bubbles. In the past, however, a bottle of soda pop was a special treat. It wouldn't have been consumed daily, perhaps not even weekly. It certainly wouldn't have replaced healthier beverages such as milk or water at a meal. And - most importantly of all, in my opinion - it came in a 12-ounce bottle or glass at a soda fountain. Overconsumption probably happened anyway, but it certainly wasn't as easy. The obesity level was undoubtably lower, but that could simply be the result of a more active society in previous decades.
This brings us back to Mayor Bloomberg and his campaign against giant sweetened drinks. Will shrinking serving sizes really help New York slim down? It's hard to say. The factors that have led to the current obesity issues are much more complex than that. As a nation, we eat too much, drink too much, consume far too many calories, and don't get enough exercise. Fresh fruit and vegetables aren't easily accessible, especially in inner-city neighborhoods. Cheap corn and soy have led to a overabundance of high-calorie, low-nutrient "foods" that take the place of more nutritious edibles. Limiting soda and other sweetened drinks could help, but it's only one answer to a multifaceted question. Until we can find a few more answers and implement solutions that use these answers, sadly, we won't be any closer to ending the obesity epidemic.