Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dear Placenta

Dear Placenta,

Thank you for all the hard work that you are doing and the care that you are taking of Baby Peterson. I really appreciate it, and think that you are doing a truly fantastic job.
However, I think that we need to keep our long term goal of delivering a healthy baby naturally in sight. Having said that, it would be most appreciated if you could move a little higher up in the uterus (and away from the cervix) in the next few weeks.

Thanks very much.
Your loving host,

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I'm A Holiday Behind

Probably time to talk about Thanksgiving, on the eve of Christmas Eve. Oops.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. Food, Florida, and family; I couldn't be happier.

We arrived to perfect November weather in Florida. Warm during the day and cool at night. Wednesday night we had dinner at my Aunt Cathy and Uncle Ray's house in Land O' Lakes and then jetted off to the store to get the ingredients for the dishes we were responsible for on the big day. All the "kids" stayed at Casey and T.C.'s house again this year.

Food assembly was a completely different experience this year....now that their kitchen is well equipped (that's what happens when you get married).
Thursday morning we finished all our cooking and headed back to Cathy and Ray's to begin the festivities. The kitchen was buzzing, and family started arriving. The Schers and Goldings always join us for Thanksgiving and it's always a pleasure to see them.
We spent plenty of time outdoors enjoying the gorgeous weather and watching Ray's masterful handling of the deep-fried turkey!

After completely stuffing our faces (of course!),
the boys played football and we played some cards.
The Armstrongs and Days (T.C.'s family) arrived after a while and joined us for a gigantic bonfire in the backyard.
Dad picked Ali's new mandolin, and we attempted to roast some marshmallows. Of course the night wouldn't be complete without a rousing game of Catchphrase!
And then we were spent....
Friday we went to our family's condo in Clearwater.

We also enjoyed one of our favorite Clearwater traditions, lunch at Crabby Bill's.

The family ventured out on the boat on Saturday, while Baby Peterson and I enjoyed some relaxing downtime. Apparently it was very bumpy, so it's a good thing we opted out. Saturday night we had dinner at Cathy and Ray's again and then went to the movies.

On Sunday we all suited up in Tampa Bay Buccaneers gear and headed to the game against the New Orleans Saints. It was great fun as always and I'm so thankful to Casey for supplying us all with tickets to the game. Although it rained for much of the game, we had lots of fun. And then we were off the airport and on our way home.
It was a wonderful wonderful weekend. Thank you to my Florida family for being such wonderful hosts! I love you so much!!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

So Much to Learn

My perspective on so many things has changed during this pregnancy. Thoughts about religion, family, community, country, the environment, and politics have all been swirling inside my mind even more than usual as I grow this baby. It's amazing how aware you become of your environment when you are pregnant.

One of the very first things I found myself becoming more concerned about is the chemical environment in which we all live. Our days are full of chemicals: from the air we breathe, the food we eat, the materials in our homes, to the beauty products we as women slather ourselves with every morning and evening. As soon as I knew I was pregnant I started taking a very hard look at the products in my "beauty regimen", and was frankly shocked by what I found. This is a great website that allows you to enter the name of a product and it will rate it on a "hazard scale", based on the ingredients within that product. Skin Deep: Cosmetic Safety Database (http://www.cosmeticdatabase.com/)

It's easy to get bogged down in the research and details of all of this. But I think the best advise I've heard on this idea is that if you can eat a product that you put on your skin or hair, it's probably not that harmful. Not that I'd want to start taking shots of my shampoo, but if I did, I'd be fine, as would my baby. I've been thrilled with the shampoo and facial care products I've been using from Goddess Garden, a Colorado small business. (http://www.goddessgarden.com/) I love knowing that I'm not passing on any harmful chemicals to my baby while I wash my hair and face, and that I'm treating my own body more gently by using all natural and organic ingredients.

As I examined my daily and weekly rituals and started thinking more carefully about what effect products may have on my health, I also took a hard look at the cleaning supplies I use in my home. It's been so much fun for me to start using non-toxic cleaning products. I used the guidelines on this website (http://www.care2.com/greenliving/make-your-own-non-toxic-cleaning-kit.html) to make my own cleaning kit. The only ingredients in my cleaning supplies now include: baking soda, mild soap, washing soda, white vinegar, water, and tea tree oil. Making your own cleaning supplies in reuseable bottles is so much more affordable than buying bottle after bottle of the 409 and Windex I used to use.

As I've made these small changes, and realized how easy they have been to make, I'm committed to continuing to reduce my impact through the products I use, as well as to make my home a healthier place for myself and my family. Along those lines, Brian and I have decided to cloth diaper Baby Peterson when she arrives in February.

We've conducted a lot of research and even taken some classes about the benefits of cloth diapering, and after acquiring all the available information, it was a very easy decision for us to make. Information that we considered while making this choice:

  • 18 billion disposables end up in American landfills each year

  • those billions of disposable diapers use 3.5 billion gallons of oil to produce

  • by making the choice to use cotton diapers we will help to prevent one ton of non-biodegradable waste from ever reaching a landfill

  • a single disposable diaper can take up to 500 years to decompose

  • disposable diapers contain gel beads which absorb the urine. These gel beds are made of sodium polyacryslate which is the same material banned from women's tampons in 1985 because it caused toxic shock syndrome

  • disposable diapers will cost us around $2,500 between birth and potty training. Cloth diapers will cost us between $600-$1,200 from birth to potty training, and we can use them for subsequent children!

And they're cute!!! Cloth diapers have come a long way. We'll no longer have to struggle with folding flat diapers and use sharp safety pins with a squiggling baby.

Thirsties (http://www.thirstiesbaby.com/) is a Colorado company that makes the cloth diapers we plan to use. I can't wait to get started!

I've also been trying very hard to be aware of what we're bringing into our baby's environment as I register for and buy toys, clothes, and bedding. This has proved to be quite an undertaking, and has taken a lot of my time, but I feel like it's time worth spending. Brian and I recognize that we have some personal decisions to make and research to do about the toys and other products we want in our baby's life from a consumption/commercialism standpoint, from an environmental standpoint, from a health standpoint, and in terms of what message the toys send.

We love the idea of having wooden and natural fiber toys, as long as those are entertaining to her. These are some great sites I've found for more "natural" toy choices:




I know that the production and transport of commercial plastic toys has a significant environmental impact.

I worry about the messages that will be sent to our daughter by commercial culture, and aim to limit her exposure to commercialism through the choices we make about what toys she plays with and by limiting her exposure to television as long as possible.

I've learned that in the past several decades, production of plastic toys has changed as manufacturing of these toys has been outsourced to overseas locations. In 2007, for instance, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued 90 recalls affecting more than 14 million children's products containing lead.

So, it can all be rather scary, but I also recognize that we cannot overthink every single purchase we, and others, make for Baby Peterson. However, I feel that by doing some research and being aware of some of these issues, we will automatically be more inclined to make smarter, more responsible choices as parenting consumers.

Friday, December 5, 2008

I Love My New Camera!

For my 30th birthday, (back in September), my husband gave me a new camera. Well, he didn't actually give me a camera, but instead had a pop-out paper camera in my birthday card and lovingly told me to pick out a new camera of my choosing. I've been using his old camera since we met, and it has served me very well.

However, I did find that its zoom capabilities weren't quite what I needed for taking pictures at festivals and concerts (which I love to do). I also thought that the impending arrival of Baby Peterson is a good excuse to get a better camera.

So, after putting off the task for several months, I finally settled on a Panasonic Lumix digital camera. The extremely helpful salesman at Mikes Camera assured me that this is the best digital camera you can buy without getting into the large super-zoom and SLR models.

It has 9.1-megapixel resolution and 10x optical zoom capabilities, and seems just about perfect for everything I will use it for. It's bigger that some of the compact digital cameras out there (because of the higher zoom), but still small enough to conveniently fit in my purse.

I've been a bit overwhelmed by all the cool things this camera can do, and haven't been able to make much sense of the instructions manual. But I used our recent Thanksgiving trip to Florida to familiarize myself with some of the camera's features. We spent Thanksgiving Day at my Aunt Cathy's house in Land O' Lakes, Florida. I took advantage of Cathy's amazing flowers and garden art to play with my new toy.

I also took some pictures at our family's beach condo in Clearwater. Here are some of my favorite shots!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Mine doesn't need protecting, thanks

Copy the above sentence into your blog if you’re in a heterosexual marriage, and you don’t want it “protected” by those who think that gay marriage hurts it somehow.

The media has been full of discussions about gay marriage since constitutional amendments defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman only were approved in California, Arizona, and Florida on November 7, 2008. This issue has been on my mind a lot and I'm feeling saddened. I can't believe that although this country passed a major milestone in electing our first African American president, a majority of Americans are threatened by the right of two consenting adults to enter into a loving commitment that will be recognized by their government. Why should discrimination be up for a majority vote? What does any of this have to do with me and the sanctity of my own marriage? Of course two people who love each other and are committed to each other should be afforded the same rights that I am as a heterosexual married woman.

I saw this in the blogosphere today and thought I would repost it. It sums up how ridiculous arguments against gay marriage have always seemed to me.

10 Reasons Why Gay Marriage is Wrong:

01) Being gay is not natural. And real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.

02) Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.

03) Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.

04) Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn’t changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can’t marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.

05) Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Britney Spears’ 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.

06) Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn’t be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren’t full yet, and the world needs more children.

07) Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.

08) Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That’s why we have only one religion in America.

09) Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That’s why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.

10) Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven’t adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans.

Re-post this if you believe love makes a marriage.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Baby Peterson Preparation: Part 1

As you can imagine, much of my time and mental energy these days are devoted to the impending birth of Baby Peterson. In an effort to share some of what I'm learning with friends and family, but mostly in the hopes of solidifying my opinions by writing them out, this is the first of several blog entries I hope to post which will outline some of the big decisions we've been making in the Peterson household during the past 6 months.
It didn't take long for me to decide that I want a natural (drug and intervention-free) childbirth in February. My decision came after reading lots and lots of childbirth books and online articles, as well as conversations with my husband and also friends who have had amazing, empowering natural childbirths.

Before I go any further, let me say that although I'm discussing my family's personal decisions here, my opinions about what I want for my own childbirth are by no means a reflection of how I feel about other women's childbirth choices and experiences. Childbirth is a deeply personal event between a woman and her partner, and I wholeheartedly support each woman's right to make her own choices about her body and her baby during pregnancy and childbirth.

Some of the reasons I've chosen to pursue a natural childbirth:
  • Most importantly, I believe that my body is made to give birth, and can successfully birth my child on its own without the various interventions and pain medications which have become the norm in American maternal care. Natural childbirth will allow me to experience labor the way nature intended it.
  • I feel that giving birth naturally will be one of the most amazing, empowering, and potentially spiritual experiences I'll have the opportunity for in this life.
  • Interventions such as epidurals, pitocin (labor induction drug) and other pain medications do have risks and can often lead to a cesarean section, which can also be risky for mother and baby. Choosing natural childbirth means choosing not to add unnecessary risk for myself or my baby. I do not consider the benefit of less pain during childbirth to outweigh the potential risks associated with interventions
  • I understand that the pain I will feel during labor is "pain with a purpose". It is different from other pains - it happens in order to exit the baby from my body in the most safe and healthy way. The pain I experience will send signals to my brain, which will then release natural birthing hormones including oxytocin and endorphins, which in turn fuel labor and increase dilation, and the cycle will continue this way. This feedback mechanism will be interrupted by drugs and interventions. My baby and I will work together in a natural hormonal system that will build in intensity until the baby is born. I understand that by working with my body in response to the pain I feel, I will also be helping my baby to get into the proper position for birth.
  • A cesarean is major abdominal surgery and may make it difficult to care for my baby in the first few weeks postpartum. After a vaginal birth with medications your body needs to recover from the birth and clean the medication out of your system. Depending on the timing of your medications, your baby may also need to clear some of the medications out of her system. A natural childbirth gives us both the best chances for a speedy recovery.

I also recognize that the birth I have may very well be very different than the birth I am wishing and preparing for. While I am preparing for a natural childbirth, I am also preparing to be open to each moment and to do what needs to be done for my own health and the health of my baby. I recognize that there may be situations in which I may have to be open to drugs and other interventions, such as: exhaustion, failure to progress in a timely manner (once I've tried every effort to augment it naturally), or fetal distress. If my labor is abnormal and the benefits of drugs or an epidural outweigh the risks, I will welcome them. I will accept that I did the best I could and will stay present and involved in my birth.

Factors which I believe will help me achieve the birth experience I want:

1. support team

2. choice of a birth place

3. privacy, warmth and darkness

4. water

5. preparation and education

6. freedom of movement (intermittent rather than continuous fetal monitoring allows you to move around the room and position yourself in ways to cope with pain and move the baby into position for birth)

7. ability to eat and drink during labor (Makes sense that you need nourishment during the most athletic event of your life! Many hospitals do not allow food or drink other than ice chips during labor)

8. alternative pain techniques (aromatherapy, massage, music, chanting/vocalizations, breathing and meditation, etc...)

So, with all this in mind, this is what we've been busy with:

1. We've been hard at work assembling my birth team:

Brian Of course my husband is the most important part of my support team. Brian has been so wonderfully supportive of me since the moment we started discussing having children, and even more so since the day we got that positive pregnancy test!

Brian has been 100% behind my wishes for a medication and intervention-free childbirth, and has defended our decision to anyone and everyone who asks about it. He and I have chosen the midwives, hospital, and other support people together. He's happily read every article and book I've put in front of him and we've had so many exciting conversations about what we want for the birth of our first child.

Midwives: The Midwives Model of Care is based on the fact that pregnancy and birth are normal life processes (rather than medical emergencies that need to be handled by obstetricians, anesthesiologists, and surgeons). The Midwives Model of Care includes: Monitoring the physical, psychological, and social well-being of the mother throughout the childbearing cycle; Providing the mother with individualized education, counseling, and prenatal care, continuous hands-on assistance during labor and delivery, and postpartum support; Minimizing technological interventions; and Identifying and referring women who require obstetrical attention.

The application of this woman-centered model of care has been proven to reduce the incidence of birth injury, trauma, and cesarean sections.

We looked long and hard (for the first 4 months of this pregnancy) for a midwife or midwife group that we felt excited about. We visited a free-standing birth center and talked about the idea of homebirth. While neither of those options appealed to us (at least not for our first birth), we knew that many hospitals have midwives on staff for healthy, low-risk pregnancies. After speaking with several midwife groups and visiting a couple hospitals, we were so happy to find the Center for Midwifery at University of Colorado Hospital. http://www.uch.edu/conditions/pregnancy/midwifery/index.aspx

After touring the in-hospital birth center and meeting one of the four midwives in the group, we knew we had finally found the place where our baby will be born and the caregiver group who we'll be seeing throughout the pregnancy and during the birth.

As long as my pregnancy stays low risk and I don't develop any complications now or during the birth, we will not be seeing an obstetrician at all and will work exclusively with our midwives.

Doula: The word "doula" comes from the ancient Greek meaning "a woman who serves" and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.

Numerous clinical studies have found that a doula’s presence at birth tends to reduce negative feelings about one’s childbirth experience and results in shorter labors with fewer complications, namely:
  • 50% reduction in the cesarean rate

  • 25% shorter labor

  • 60% reduction in epidural requests

  • 40% reduction in pitocin (a labor-inducing drug) use

  • 30% reduction in analgesia (pain medication) use

  • 40% reduction in forceps and vacuum extraction delivery

Doulas also offer support to the husband or partner during labor and have been shown to strengthen family relationships after birth.

We spent a lot of time looking for a doula who will be just right for us, and were so pleased to find her in our own neighborhood. Brandy Segin, at Aspen Leaf Birth Services http://www.aspenleafbirthservices.com/ is a mother of three who lives just a mile from our house. As soon as we met her, we could tell that she was the right person to bring into one of the most intimate, private experiences of our lives. Her demeanor is comforting and reassuring, yet assertive at the same time. I can tell that she'll be able to offer me the support and strength that I'll need to help me have a positive birth experience.

2. Choice of Birth Place
I believe that the birth environment will be personally one of the most important factors in achieving the birth I want. I plan to stay at home, where I am most comfortable, for as long as possible before going to the hospital. Although we have decided to have this baby in a hospital, I wanted to find a hospital that feels comfortable, safe, quiet, and peaceful.

After narrowing down the hospitals in the Denver area that have midwifery groups, and visiting one hospital that definitely did not meet the above description, we were thrilled with the birth center at University of Colorado hospital. The hospital is new and clean and doesn't smell like a hospital. The labor and delivery rooms are HUGE and have two bathrooms (one with a shower and one with a bathtub), lots of natural light, rocking chairs, birth balls, and plenty of room to MOVE! The nurses we met during our tour were helpful and calm. I feel really excited about having my baby at this hospital.

3. Privacy, Warmth, and Darkness

Someone wise once said that the same environment that gets the baby inside of you is the best environment for getting that baby out of you. :)

My husband and doula have agreed to be the protectors of my birth environment. Important factors to me are minimal interruptions and strangers in the room, no fluorescent lighting (we plan to bring our own lighting), quiet, music of our choice, and no television or cell phones)

4. Water, water, and more water The University of Colorado hospital is the only hospital in the state of Colorado and one of very few in the country to allow waterbirths!

Birthing in water is one of the most beneficial things that can be offered to a woman in labor. Women report that they enjoy their labors and find that the water allows complete freedom of movement and deep concentration.

I've always been drawn to warm water...I take at least one bath a week and find that when I am stressed out, frustrated, or sad, nothing helps like some quiet time in a hot bathtub. It makes perfect sense to me that laboring and possibly birthing my baby in water will make my birth experience more enjoyable.
Known benefits of water labor and waterbirth (http://www.waterbirth.org/)
  • Facilitates mobility and enables the mother to assume any position which is comfortable for labor and birth. No one has to help the mother get into a new position. She moves as her body and the position of the baby dictate. Movement helps open the pelvis, allowing the baby to descend.
  • Speeds up labor
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Gives mother more feelings of control
  • Provides significant pain relief
  • Promotes relaxation
  • Conserves her energy
  • Reduces the need for drugs and interventions
  • Gives mother a private protected space
  • Reduces perineal trauma and eliminates episiotomies
  • Reduces cesarean section rates
  • Is highly rated by mothers - typically stating they would consider giving birth in water again
  • Is highly rated by experienced providers
  • Encourages an easier birth for mother and a gentler welcome for baby

Our midwives and doula are extremely supportive of waterbirth, and Brian and I are carefully and seriously considering this option.

5. Childbirth Classes

Our doula, Brandy, will also be our childbirth educator. She'll be doing a series of private childbirth classes for us in the privacy of our own home. I am so excited to start this phase of our birth preparation. Having private classes will allow Brandy to design the classes specifically for us. We'll have complete freedom to spend extra time on topics of special interest to us. The classes will cover all the basics of childbirth education including: nutrition, the stages of labor, interventions, birth plan preparation, basic newborn procedures and breastfeeding. In addition to the basics, our classes will focus on relaxation, position changes, comfort measures and coping practices Brandy has found to really work for women in her practice as a doula and during her midwife training. Brandy teaches from a variety of natural birth techniques including Lamaze, Bradley, Hynobirthing, and Birthing from Within.

As you can see, we've been hard at work preparing for Baby Peterson's birth in an effort to give her the healthiest, most gentle welcome into this world and to start us off on the right foot as parents and as a family.

Topics for Baby Peterson Preparation: Part 2, Green Pregnancy and Parenting:
  • choices in beauty products

  • how to make a non-toxic cleaning kit

  • cloth diapering

  • natural toys

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pumpkin Patch

It's that time of year again, when the Ingersolls and Petersons head up to Boulder County to get our pumpkins. It's a tradition we've had in my family since I was a baby, and we keep it up every year. It's funny to be the only group at the pumpkin patch without a kid...just six adults wandering around and being completely entertained by the corn maze and the goats.

Adam and Mari picking out their pumpkins...

Two and a half Petersons....

Here are mom and dad, Adam and Mari, getting ready to enter the corn maze. This maze has stumped us every year....but we were determined to make it through this time.

And here we are after successfully finding our way out of the corn maze!!! Finally!! (through the exit I might add...there have been years when I have just bushwhacked out of the maze in a claustrophobic freak-out...that doesn't count).

We finished off a beautiful fall Saturday in Colorado with homemade spaghetti at the Blue Parrot in Louisville, and a wander through the farmers market and guitar store. A perfect day with the family....and we came out of it with some pretty handsome pumpkins too.