Wednesday, August 31, 2011

It does a body good

  Lately i've been having this major issue with finding body wash, shampoo and conditioner that I like that is also organic. The problem is that the stuff that makes your hair and skin feel good (i.e. Pantene, Garnier Fructis, Olay...) has some major chemical irritants, which may be fine for people without sensitive skin, but for those of us with baby skin, its a NO-NO. Actually, even if you don't have sensitive skin, you still shouldn't use that stuff. If you really knew what the chemicals were and how they can affect your body, you wouldn't want to. And you would be surprised how those chemicals are in everything you use. Here's a short list of some of the main ingredients in most things and a little breakdown of what they are. (I'm not providing specific links for each chemical. If you don't believe the info, research it for yourself!)

Parabens- Low cost synthetic preservative that has been linked to be a possible carcinogen (has high levels of estrogen. Anything absorbed through the skin may be as high as 10 times the concentration of an oral dose, and it is a known medical fact that estrogen causes breast cancer) There have been no successful studies to show that repeated and prolonged use of paraben is safe. Parabens are used in many personal product such as face and body moisturizers, body wash, and cleansers.

Petrochemicals (petroleum based)- Studies have found that oral and topical application of petrochemicals in rodents resulted in anemia, kidney degeneration, and nerve damage to the brain and spinal cord. Even more disturbing was that several animals died before the study ended! Many of our household cleaning products, home furnishings and our food supply is loaded with petrochemicals.

Phthalates- Dibutylphthalate and diethylphthalate (DBP, DEP, also butyl ester) helps lotions absorb into skin. DEHP has been classified as a "probable human carcinogen" by the EPA. The Department of Health and Human Services has also classified DEHP as a potential carcinogen. L'Oreal is the only major cosmetic company to discontinue the use of this chemical in Europe only due to severe allergic reactions. L'Oreal in the United States, as well as many other cosmetic companies continue to sell and use this harmful chemical.

Cosmetic Fragrance- Petroleum or coal based synthetic fragrances that have been known to cause skin irritation. These same aromas already exist in nature, but it is cheaper to use the synthetic versions.

Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate- This is the second most concentrated ingredient in shampoos. The FDA requires that label ingredients are listed in the order of highest concentrations - meaning that the highest level of ingredients are listed first. It is used in concrete floor cleaners, engine degreasers, car wash detergents, and just about every soap and shampoo on the market. In the same way as it dissolves the grease on car engines, sodium lauryl sulfate also dissolves the oils on your skin, which can cause a drying effect. It has been used in studies to induce mutations in bacteria. It denatures protein, impairs proper structural formation of young eyes, creating permanent damage. SLS can damage the immune system. It can cause separation of skin layers and cause inflammation to the skin.

Here is a good website with info on chemicals and common irritants found in the things we use everyday.

  Someone once told me that if you can't pronounce the words on the ingredient list, than put it back. Did you know that it only takes about 26 seconds for what's put on your skin to absorb into your bloodstream? Another safe rule to play by is that if it's not safe to use during pregnancy, than don't use it at all. You would be surprised what cutting out harmful chemicals will do for you. Maybe not now, but definitely in the long run. And if you won't or don't want to do it for yourself, than at least read the labels of the things you use on your children. Children are more susceptible to these damaging chemicals and long term usage may lead to severe problems. Even if it is not guaranteed, why take the chance? There are plenty of organic alternatives available on the market today. They may cost a bit more money, but to me, it's worth the price.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Aubrey's Big Day

  I've been meaning to share my birth story for some time now, and since Aubrey is asleep, now seems perfect. I'll need a lot of time..

 I had been having braxton hicks contractions since very early in my pregnancy. I was working 5 days a week at Duffy's as a lunch closer, which meant LOTS of walking and not a lot of time to keep hydrated. At about 30 weeks, the contractions kept coming and nothing I did could stop them. So into the hospital I went where I received fluids and medications to stop my very early labor. I went home the next day, and all was well. I continued having braxton hicks all the way to the very end, so I thought that by my 38 week check up, I would be dilated and about ready to go. Well, I was dilated, but only 1cm. Needless to say, I went home thinking I was never going to have my baby. At my 39 week check up, my doctor decided to sweep my membranes to get things going. We were trying to avoid a c-section since I was planning on having a natural birth. I'm not sure if it was the membrane sweeping or the full moon, but that night (May 16th), I went into labor. At first they were about 20-30 minutes apart. I slept in between, and all was well. I was ready.
  The next morning, Todd went off to work and my mom stayed home with me. We ran a few errands and walked around Babies R Us. At this point (11am), my contractions were about 4-6 minutes apart and getting stronger. We got home around 2, and into the pool I went. At about 4, I called Todd and told him to make his way home. We were going to be having our baby soon, and all was well. I was ready.
  I wanted to spend as much time at home as possible, but since the hospital was about 40 minutes away, we decided to head down when the contractions were about 2 minutes apart. Despite what I was headed into, I was very calm. The hypnobirthing techniques really helped at first, and I thought to myself, this isn't so bad!  We got there around 7 when they checked me and proceeded to tell me I was only about 2cm. I was very disappointed. The first few hours went by without any news. I ate some chicken nuggets (even though I was told not to), played some angry birds (really helped to take out any aggression ;]) and waited for things to progress. All was well. I was ready.
  Finally, at about 1:30am, my water started to leak. The contractions were definitely stronger, but still manageable. I honestly think that breathing and remaining calm got me that far. However, sleep was out of the question. I was too anxious and kept thinking it would be any time now.. Little did I know. It was about 6am when my OB decided to come in and check me once again. 3cm. She made the decision to break my water, even though I wanted to progress without any help. I wish she would have listened. After my water broke, the contractions started coming every 30-45 seconds and moved to my lower back. I cannot even describe to you the pain I felt. My wonderful husband was doing all he could to help make me more comfortable, but it wasn't enough. I had him, my mother, and my mother in law, all reminding me to breath. The hypnobirthing went out the window, along with all perception of time. I was walking, kneeling, laying, bending, trying to relieve the pressure. I thought, this has got to be it. Get the nurse to check me again! 4cm. I was devastated. All was not well. I was beyond ready.
  I was starving and physically and emotionally exhausted. I couldn't stop crying because I knew that after the contraction I was going through, another would follow about 30 seconds later. I felt like there was no light at the end of the tunnel. Begrudgingly, I agreed to an epidural. The nurse explained that because my body was so tense, there was no way I could progress. At 1pm, we called the anesthesiologist. He didn't show up until about 1:30, and kicked everyone out. I was all alone. He stuck me about 4 times, and told me that the 5th time would be his last try, and if it didn't work, I was on my own. Thank God it worked. I don't know what I would have done. At 2:30, everyone came back in just to get kicked out again. Todd and I needed sleep after being up for more than 24 hours. I woke up 1 1/2 hours later, and was about 9cm. At 5, I started to push. The epidural didn't take at all to my left side, and I could still move my legs and feel EVERYTHING. Finally, finally, at 7:01pm on May 18th, my little Aubrey Lucas Wyckoff came into this world weighing 6lbs 14oz. They put him on my chest and I remember thinking how warm and foreign he felt. His sweet little cry melted my heart, and I knew that life would never be the same. He was so alert and trying already to hold his head. My little baby. All was beyond well. I was ready to go home.
  We didn't get to leave for 2 more days because of the fever I acquired towards the end of my labor. But when we finally did get to leave, I was ecstatic. Looking back, I wonder if things could have been different had I had a home birth like I originally wanted. I know that next time (if there ever is a next time) I'm staying at home.
after the epidural (there are no before pictures, lol)

My mommies

My little alien


Going home!
Well, there it is. It only took me a couple months to be able to revisit.. :)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

It's a crying shame

  Having a baby usually means years and years of sleepless nights, right? Well, after just one month Aubrey was only waking up once in the middle of the night to eat. By two months, he was sleeping from 10pm until about 6am. I was ecstatic, and knew I was lucky, and I was afraid it was too good to be true. But night after night, he slept soundly. The trick was letting him sleep on his tummy. Yes, yes, I know the "back to sleep" rule, but my sanity was slipping away with my lack of sleep and moody mommy means moody baby. Well, just a few weeks ago, he learned to roll over. How excited I was to look at the monitor and see his little feet in the air, even though it was 4am. I quietly went it, turned him over, and back to sleep he went. It didn't happen again for a while and I was beginning to wonder if it was just an accident.
  Then, just four nights ago, he rolled over again. I quietly went in, turned him over, and walked away. I got back in bed, and looked at the monitor. And there they were, his little feet in the air. I decided to leave him be and see if he would go back to sleep. About 10 minutes later, he was screaming. Thus began the sleepless nights. If I put him down on his tummy, within a few hours he would be on his back, screaming. If I put him down on his back, he would scream until he got his pacifier and then wake up a few hours later. I decided I had a problem and that it was time to do some research on sleep training methods.
  From what I've read, there are basically two ways to "sleep train" your baby. There's the CIO (cry it out) method and the No-Tears method. One requires a lot of tears and the other requires a lot of time. People like Dr. Sears, who is against the CIO method, says that by letting your child cry and not coming to them, you are developing life long issues of trust and abandonment. But Ferber, who is a strong advocate of the CIO method, says that developing good sleeping habits makes for a more well rested and happy baby. So I'm left trying to decide what will be best for my baby and I. Since I know what may work for others may not work for me, I'm going to try both methods. I hope it's not too hard and doesn't take too long, but I know that in the long run it will make things better. I guess i'll update you when i've made some progress.. Assuming we make progress..  ;)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Social Network

Today I caught myself on Facebook more than a handful of times without meaning to be on Facebook. I click on my Safari browser to research (how surprising) something specific and get caught up in the new statuses and the little red number on the top of my page. By the time I realize that I didn't mean to get on Facebook, I've forgotten what I was going to research. So I keep perusing the contents of the newsfeed page. You have NO idea how many times this happens. And while I find it frustrating that I'm always forgetting what I wanted to research (the "mommy brain" is partly to blame, I'm sure) I find it somewhat pathetic that I'm always. on. Facebook. It's my homepage, it's on my phone.. it's EVERYWHERE. And it's so addicting. After all, who doesn't like to know what's going on in the lives of their friends? So it got me thinking, how many people have Facebook (and the internet) and end up doing the same thing I'm doing?
Facebook is available in 70 different translations. There are more than 750 million active users worldwide, and about 50 percent of those users sign on EVERYDAY. The average american spends 32 hours online each month with 22 percent of the usage spent on social networks. Of course, the internet is also used for work and education purposes, which surpasses leisurely use. What kind of priority has the internet taken in our world? It seems as though every country has access to the web, therefore meaning that the people in those countries have the means to a computer/laptop. For instance, my cousin who lives in Peru was telling me that she can go to a house and pay hourly for the use of a computer. There is a program whose main goal is to provide one laptop for every child in the world. Even though there are ongoing issues of famine and contaminated water, there are funds being used to provide technology to children who don't even have access to proper clothing. While I'm sure their intentions are admirable, the reality is that the priorities have been confused.
Not only has money been spent unnecessarily on increasing access to the internet, but our society has become withdrawn and disconnected. Ironic since things like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Friendster, etc, is meant to CONNECT us. Now, instead of calling a friend or family member, we chat them, write on their wall, or tag them in a post/picture. We share private information on pages where we have no idea who can access them. We post videos and pictures of our friends, family, and of ourselves, and we pour the contents of our hearts into the status updates we so desperately hope people comment on. I'm not judging, because I'm one of them. We all are. And we're all to blame for the disconnecting of today's "community."
Oh, BTW, you should totally HMU on FB. IJS.... ;)

Monday, August 22, 2011

You're a natural

  Do you wake up in the mornings with crazy, unmanageable hair? Do you wish you could have that "just got back from the beach" look everyday? Well, now you can!
  I may sound like an infomercial but I am about to give you the secret to sexy, tousled, beach hair. And best of all, it's a completely NATURAL solution. One you can make with ingredients from your very own kitchen. All you will need is:
1. A 6-8 oz. spray bottle
2. Sea salt
3. Olive Oil (Cocounot oil works as well but requires melting before use each time)
3. Essential oil of your choice (I prefer vanilla to give that subtle "beach" smell.)
  Start out by filling the bottle halfway with warm water. Add one tbsp of salt, and one tbsp of olive oil. Shake it well, and then fill it up the rest of the way. Add on or two drops of essential oil and you're good to go! You can vary the measurements depending on how you would like your hair to feel. More salt makes it drier and stiffer, while adding more oil will give it a wet look. Also, I've found that spraying the solution on DAMP hair rather then wet or dry hair works better. Don't be afraid to experiment, after all, it's all natural!

Friday, August 19, 2011

It's just a rebound

  After I had the baby, I could not wait for the go ahead to work out. I planned on being back to my pre-pregnancy, size two in a matter of weeks. I don't know what I was thinking. Once the time came where I was able to workout, it was the last thing I wanted to do. And on top of that, I was STARVING all the time. Apparently breastfeeding makes you hungry.
  So there I was, eight weeks after baby, 17 pounds away from my pre-preg weight, and no motivation to lose the rest. I even bought a cute, little dress to hang on my closet door as a sort of inspiration. It didn't work. It's not that I didn't want to lose the weight, its that I wanted it to come off magically, while I ate whatever I wanted and didn't work out. Of course I realized that it just wasn't possible. While I may have been able to get away with it before, things were different now. I put my foot down and decided to find a fun, new work out that I could stick with, and where else to look than the internet? That's when I found rebound exercising. It combined my need to exercise and my want to detox in one 30 minute, cardio routine.
  It's still hard to find the motivation, but the convenience of popping in a DVD and jumping on a mini trampoline makes it a whoooole lot easier. That, combined with my new vegetarian diet, and I'm already down five pounds. Only 12 more to go. My plan is to look like her one day.

  Not too unrealistic, right? I know that if I don't get there, that it's okay. What my body went through was a miracle, and as long as I'm healthy, and more importantly, my baby is healthy, then I'm okay with that.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Babies are us

No one can prepare you for the miracle that is childbirth. 
No on can prepare you for the journey that is motherhood.

  A large portion of my life has been spent babysitting, working in nurseries, and loving on sweet little babies. Most of my pregnant days were spent doing research, reading birthing stories, and practicing my hypnobirthing techniques. If anyone felt ready to bring a baby into this world, it was me. My labor was going to be smooth and short. My baby boy was planned to come into a peaceful environment with little 'bearing down' and even less interventions. Boy, was I in for a surprise. After 36 hours of labor, and 2 hours of PUSHING, Aubrey Lucas finally decided to make his appearance. It felt like a miracle to just be DONE. But that's a whole other story.
  The days and weeks that followed would become the most unexpected experience of my very short life. My precious sleep went out the window along with my beloved sanity. I was now entrusted with this little life, whom I knew nothing about. To be honest, I cried. A lot. And so did he. I was tired, confused and in pain. I kept telling my husband, "I want things back to normal." But this was now my normal and I eventually came to embrace that. I thank God everyday, because he is such a great baby. At just three weeks old, he melted my heart with a laugh in his sleep. It might have been completely unintentional, but it made my day. At just four weeks old, he melted my heart with his very first smile. It might have been gas, but it made my day. And at just two months old, he slept his first whole night in his crib. It turned out to be an every night thing, and I began to treasure my sleep once again. 
  Every single day that goes by brings more joy and love then I thought was possible. It may have taken a few weeks to get to where we are, but I realized something major. Our baby, is us. Not only is he physically half me and half my husband, but the things we do and the things he sees will make him who he will become. We will be his role models and one day he will be just like US. What a great responsibility and awesome privilege. 

Happy 3 month birthday! :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Vaccination nation; What's you're station?

To vaccinate, or not to vaccinate? That is the question!
   While my husband and I decided to immunize our son, it was not a decision made lightly. With all the controversy surrounding this topic, we made it a point to do our research and ultimately split up the vaccines and deny a few altogether. Hepatitis B vaccine at just 2 weeks old?? No thank you. Of course the doctor did not approve of our decision. He told us that the information regarding vaccines found on the internet cannot be trusted and the few sources we should listen to he would provide for us. Convenient.
   My question is, how are we as parents supposed to make such an important decision based on the little information provided? The CDC and APA both promise that what they publish is one hundred percent accurate and that their vaccine schedule is completely harmless. While there may be no hard evidence linking vaccines to things such as Autism and Multiple Sclerosis, one cannot deny the fact that the ingredients themselves contained in these immunizations are harmful to a person's body, especially to a tiny baby. One of the main ingredients found in almost every vaccine is Aluminum. Have you ever heard of Alzheimer's disease? High levels of Aluminum have been linked to Alzheimer's and other neurological diseases. When an infant gets their two month shots, they get up to five vaccines at one time. Just ONE vaccine contains more Aluminum than any one person should be exposed to at any given time, and babies receive this many vaccines numerous times. This is just one of the websites I found about the toxicity of Aluminum, and this is a list of the ingredients in vaccines provided by the CDC.
   All I can say is, do your research. You are ultimately expected to do what you feel is best for your child, but the least you can do is make an informed decision for yourself. Don't let the very high paid doctors scare you. Knowledge is power.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Mirror mirror on the wall..

 Who has the clearest skin of all?
  Not me (or is it 'not I?') that's for sure. I've been struggling with severe acne for years and I've tried everything from OTC (over the counter) products, to injections from the dermatologist, to natural remedies such as a honey mask. Some of the OTC products worked for as long as it took my skin to become used to them, and others made things worse right off the bat. The dermatologist injections KILL and only work for one problem area at a time. The honey mask sort of worked by bringing everything to the surface, but I had nothing to kill it all once it reared it's ugly head. Needless to say, I was left feeling frustrated and depressed. Who wants to have awful skin all through their teens and twenties?! Not me( or I) that's for sure.
  So one day while digging through google to find a remedy, I came across a website that suggested washing your face with cold water rather than warm water. The idea is that since cold water closes your pores, you're not allowing the day's dirt and grime to enter them. After your face is clean, rinsing it a few times with warm water will allow your pores to open and release any bacteria that remains. I've been doing this for about 2 weeks, and so far I've had some noticeable improvement. Here's my regimen;

-Wash my face (with cold water) for at least 60 seconds (I use .Vanicream It's paraben free, sulfate free, fragrance free, dye free...)
-Rinse it with warm water a few times
-Apply toner gently to my entire face (I use The Body Shop tea tree toner.. It has antifungal properties and healing agents)
-I apply a spot treatment when necessary (Tea Tree Oil)
-Lastly, I apply a night cream to seal it all (I use Arbonne RE9 Night Cream. Its pricey but amazing.)

  If you're like me and have tried everything to no avail, try this out. It's quick, easy and cheap (a little goes a long way.) Sometimes, less really IS more.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Goodbye meat...

    There are tons of reasons why people choose to go vegetarian. Whether it's because you're an animal lover, or a chemically altered food hater, it is a life changing decision and no one can tell you if it's wrong or right. In a house where red meat is the primary food group, it is definitely an unpopular choice. But nevertheless, Im going to give it a shot. Im going to start out by cutting out all meats except for fish (once to twice a week) and eggs (egg whites only since I don't like yolk.) Today was day one and so far so good. Here's a breakdown of my meals;

Breakfast- Fried egg whites and grits
Snack- Banana
Lunch- Grilled zucchini, spaghetti squash, baked mac n' cheese, and a salad (Ruby Tuesday's veggie trio... delicious!)
Dinner- Salad to start (with chick peas, carrots, cucumbers, raisins, almonds...) Rice and kidney beans
Dessert- Fresh strawberries with a dash of sugar

  I know a lot of people don't like veggies, but you'd be surprised what some garlic, various seasonings, and a skillet can do. Since today was my first day, I know it can get a lot tougher from here. I just bought some books to help me out.. Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin and The Teen's Vegetarian Cookbook by Judy Krizmanic (cheap and easy recipes.) Im hoping I can stick to it for at least 30 days. And if it doesn't end up working out for me, then so be it. But why not try, right?! I've got nothing to lose, except a few pounds.