Converting back to a green life, one week (and nap time) at a time

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The End is Not the End

April 2016

I know I said I wouldn’t do this, but here is one more blog post.

I was sitting here wasting time on Facebook (it’s amazing how much time I can lose just clicking on the garbage that comes up on my newsfeed) when I could be doing something more productive. Like writing. Or like not using electricity at all. Like reading.

While I’ve been on mat leave I’ve been reading a lot. I recently read the Mitch Albom book “The First Phone call from Heaven”. In the story, one of the characters mentions the phrase “The End is not the End” in reference to heaven, and is also apparently a House of Heros song.


I’ve also been trying to wean LM. I’ve decided I’m just done. He’s almost 9 months. It’s ok. I did my best. He’s going to be ok either way. Just when I think we’re done, we’re not. He asks for me (he does a little bobbing bird on my chest when he wants the boob. It’s kind of sweet. 🙂  When he’s really hungry he doesn’t care where the food comes from as long as it comes fast!). And I can’t believe I only have three months of mat leave left  😦

It’s time I put this blog to bed and move on. The amount of electricity I’ve used researching and writing this blog is not lost on me. My family needs me. I need me. And as much as I love blogging, it’s taking up more time than I can put into it to make it the way I want it. I’m too hard on myself for not posting or tweeting regularly, or making timely posts related to current events. I often feel rushed when doing a post and I make mistakes.

My plan was to go back to each post, add tags, edit grammar and spelling, add links for interesting things I’ve found out since I wrote the original post, update my progress, etc.  But lets be realistic – as they say “ain’t no one got time for that”!

And I’ve realized, just like I’m not perfect, just like we don’t parent perfectly or the way we might like too, this blog isn’t going to be perfect. So what if it’s not written like a Pulitzer Prize winning novel. Just like parenthood, it’s raw and its real. So why change it now?

I started this blog for New Year’s 2014. Today, my 35th birthday, seems like a good day to finish it off.

So as a final post, here are some things I wanted to write about. I’ve been trying to clean out my e-mail accounts, where I e-mail my blog ideas to myself, and I just seem to have so many green ideas I want to write about while incorporating them into events in my life.  I didn’t want to be one of those websites that just lists a bunch of tips without actually trying them myself. But I want to share them for my readers anyway. Who knows, maybe some day I will try them. I guess I can always go back to this list. And some of them just made me laugh.

For each of you who reads this blog, try out a green challenge from the list below. In this way, the blog has no end.

Here they are, by category/topic/tag:

Waste Reduction

How did a sea turtle get a straw up its nose?

Worms could help reduce waste

101 uses for Mason Jars! (well actually just 18, but who’s counting;-) )

The Destiny of Restaurant Crayons

The Unintended Consequences of Banning Bottled Water

Waste Reduction on Campus


Repurposing an Old Toothbrush


Food Security/Waste

Tax Break for businesses that donate food

Just Eat it Restaurant Waste Video

Use it don’t lose it!

denHaan Greenhouses – local source for tomatoes and cucumbers

Fair Trade Recipes

French Law Bans Food Waste

Ugly Food!


I was going to participate in the National Geographic Hashtag challenge, but as with a great many things I ran out of time. So here’s the photo




Sustainable Seafood – Loblaws


Infant Feeding

Breastfeeding Dairy Free

Lactose Overload

Breastfeeding & Alcohol Consumption

Formula FYI

Pump & Dump


Sustainable Diapering

The Diaper Divide

7th Generation Training Pants


Environmentally Friendly Sanitary Pads

Now that Aunt Flo is back in my life I’ve been thinking about this a little more.

The Honest Company

Goodbye Diva Cup


Environmentally Friendly Funerals/Burials/Estate Planning (not that I plan on trying these any time soon – for all the right reasons!)


Burial Pods



Our kitty has recently had some health problems, which got me thinking about this even more

Ethically Sourced Pet Food

Crystal Cat Litter

Silica Cat Litter

Ecofriendly Cat Litter

Homemade Cat Litter

Homemade Cat food

More Homemade Cat Litter



Natural Pest/Weed Control



Water Conservation/Pollution

Drugs in Drinking Water

The Surfrider Foundation

Gold in Sewage

Water used to grow favourite foods

Microbeads Banned


Eco-friendly Shopping

The True Cost of Clothing

Germs in Cloth Bags

The Green Mom Review

Toxic Items at Dollar Stores

Chemicals in Dollar Store Products

Dollar Store Product Contaminants



Advice to Fathers

The Most Expensive 2-hour Nap

A Day at Home with a Newborn

10 things kids should see their parents doing

Journey from Anti-Vaxx to Science

Please don’t visit my Newborn

10 ways to really help someone with a new baby


As I’ve said before, through this blog, I’ve learned that as with every thing in life, we have to make decisions. Just like we can’t always be that perfect parent, we can’t be the perfect environmentalist. But we try. We try and we hope it’s enough.

And then there’s this guy. Am I him? I don’t think I want to be him. If you can’t follow my blog, follow the frog.




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A Look Back in the Box

December 2015

Christmas will soon be upon us, and I’ve been thinking a lot about where I was last December and the December before that. What a difference a couple of years makes.

Christmas, for me, also brings anxiety. While the Christmases of the recent past have been joyous occasions for the most part, and I try to conjure that joy, I am also reminded of past Christmases which brought stress instead of happiness, disappointment instead of gratitude. Arguments over what gifts to buy family members, duplicate gifts, spending too much money or not enough. Frustration displayed as anger over outside decorations not working or being put up to early. Drama over Christmas dinner not getting cooked enough due to a power outage or a stove malfunction, or overdone due to the unexpected arrival of a neighbour or family member. Someone’s drink invariably gets spilled or plate of food dropped on the floor. Finding a last minute gift tucked away in a closet that needs a midnight wrap job. Be being too young to understand why my parents were annoyed I was off school. A lot of “normal” things that I think most families experience, except always with seriousness. National Lampoons, without the humor.

But as I said, I am trying to remember the happy times and not dwell on the not so happy times, move onwards and upwards. And again this Christmas I am struggling to buy local, simply for logistical reasons. I have been making a lot of charitable donations for family instead of material items, as per usual.

There is one gift I am proud of, and that is a shoebox. Not just any shoebox. A shoebox given from one woman to another. A shoebox filled with personal care items and yummy treats for a woman at a local women’s shelter. A woman whom I will never meet, but that I hope can benefit from the items inside. It’s all part of The Shoebox Project. So in lieu of a large gift for my mom, I’m giving another woman a shoebox. And I know they’ll both appreciate it.

I have also been thinking about where I’m going to go with this blog. Last year brought me to a fork in the road, and I kept going. As I mentioned then, there’s still so much I want to write about, so many challenges I want to try. But now I can see an end in sight. Let’s face it – with two children now, one of which will be starting school around the same time I go back to work, at this point I can’t see how I can possibly continue. This doesn’t mean I’m going to stop being an environmentalist overnight. I am going to keep trying to keep up with the green challenges. I just won’t have time to write about them. But I know I probably will. I know myself well enough to know I need a creative outlet, and for me writing is usually that outlet.

And this blog needs some work. I was new to blogging what I started this blog, as can be seen by the layout. A number of the posts are missing references, contain grammatical errors, and could use some general “sprucing up”. I would like to take a look back to see what challenges I stuck to, which I had to let go, and tie up any lose ends with “progress updates”. This process will bring me closure, and allow me to take pride in what I have accomplished over the last two and a half-ish years.

So that will be my focus over the next few months until I go back to work. I may have the odd post if something really gets me going, and I would like to have the odd “guest post” on topics I know little about and don’t have time to research or try myself.

For those of you following my blog (and I hope you’re still out there), follow me on Twitter @mommyonthegreen to see what I’m up to.  Tweet you later!


For local gift ideas check out The Local Wishlist 

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Born Hungry: Part I

September/October 2015

There are days I just want someone to look at my boobs and tell me I’m not crazy.

This post has been nearly five years in the making. I’ve thought a lot about what I want to say, and sat down to write it a couple of times and stopped because it gives me a headache, and a heart ache. And because I just have a lot to say, so its going to take me a while to get it all down.

And I need to get it down, to help me heal and move on, to reassure other women who have gone through the same thing that they are not alone, and to hopefully help pregnant mommas out there not go through what I went through. I hope the following is both good reading and a good resource.

But let me start at the beginning. If you’re sitting down to read this, grab yourself a cup of coffee or whatever and hang on.

Even before I met my partner in life and conceived a child, I had always intended to breastfeed my children. For me, it seemed like the most biologically logical and environmentally friendly thing to do. I couldn’t understand why people didn’t breastfeed. I had this idea that everyone should breastfeed, and that formula should be by prescription only. I really had no idea what I was talking about.

Once we became pregnant with our first child and started the provincial public health prenatal classes, we were provided with lots of information about breastfeeding. Very little information was provided about formula feeding, aside from one or two slides about supplementation methods. When someone asked about formula feeding, the nurse teaching the class basically said they weren’t allowed to talk about it, but we could e-mail her after class with specific questions. I was ok with that, because I was going to breastfeed for a year and had no intentions of using formula. We were sent home with brochure upon brochure with breastfeeding tips and support groups to attend, outlining why we should breastfeed and why our baby doesn’t need formula. We were also taught to look for physical gestures or cues our baby might give for hunger or other needs, and that if they cried we had missed the cue. They also taught to respond to cries immediately to avoid causing undue stress to our baby.

When my parents visited a few weeks before our first child was due, they asked whether I had any bottles ready or formula on hand. I was confused – why would I need that; I was going to breastfeed. I didn’t know then that I wouldn’t end up having much of a say in the matter.

I was due February 25th and finished work on February 4th. We were basically ready, but I was looking forward to having a few weeks off to rest up, make some freezer meals, and do some reading about parenting and newborns in general. We knew nothing about little babies, having not even so much as changed a diaper.  I was lucky in the sense that I’d had a very healthy pregnancy, though I felt horrible the whole time, between the nausea and fatigue. I was looking forward to not being physically pregnant, but was in no hurry to be a mom just yet.

But my cervix had other plans. February 12 at 6am my water broke. Earlier that week I’d been having the odd cramp and pain in my back, and had lost my mucous plug, so I figured things would happen soon. We got checked out at the hospital, and were sent home as I wasn’t having any contractions.

All day I tried to eat well, rest up, and wait. We waited, and waited. Nothing. Until about suppertime I started feeling a bit nauseated. Around 7pm I started having some mild cramps. By 9:30 pm I was on hands and knees in the worst pain I’d ever experienced, on the phone to the hospital wondering what to do. They were timing my contractions, and indicated that I could stay home a bit longer as the contractions were still to erratic to warrant coming in. My husband in his wisdom decided we should go in anyway. By 11pm we were at the hospital, and when I was checked I was fully dilated. An hour and a half of pushing later, and our little girl arrived in the world. It was love at first sight.


The passage of time after this point is a bit of a blur, but sometime while in the recovery room I indicated that I wanted to try breastfeeding my daughter (MD). The nurse and Dr. were 100% on board. The nurse grabbed my breast and expressed some colostrum, waving it under our little girl’s nose. I held back a shriek. I wanted to tell the nurse to stop being so rough, she was squeezing too hard. Then the baby latched on. I couldn’t believe how much it hurt. I didn’t say anything, I thought, “my God I just got through labour with out drugs, what’s wrong with me?” The nurse watched me breastfeed my baby girl for a few moments, and proclaimed that we were naturals. With an unmedicated delivery, we shouldn’t have any problems breastfeeding. I was relieved, but I bit my lip and carried on.I was so proud to finally be breastfeeding. As much as it hurt, it was a dream come true.

Eventually we were brought to our room, where I was looking forward to MD having that long post-labor sleep all the books talk about, and getting some rest myself. I had now been awake nearly 27 hours. I wasn’t expecting to be woken every hour for the next three hours by nurses to check me and my parts. When my OBGYN came in to examine me the next day she asked whether the bleeding had slowed down any. I wasn’t really sure, but I certainly wasn’t filling a pad every hour like they had told us to watch for. Then she mentioned that I had lost a lot of blood. At the time I wasn’t aware of the significance of this statement. I carried on trying to get rest and learning about how to care for my new baby, who seemed to want to nurse constantly (so much for that long sleep). I would attempt to feed her (through the pain), which seemed to take about twenty minutes, put her down, and she’d wake up, or one of the nurses would come in and say “she’s hungry”. “But didn’t I just feed her?” I had no idea this was to be expected, to some extent.

We struggled with the latch and with breastfeeding positions. Nothing felt right or natural. Each nurse that came in had a different opinion as to how I should be positioning her. All I knew was that I was in pain, far more than I thought I should be. The nurses said, “oh yes, when they first latch it can be a bit painful, but no more than a toe curl”.  Whatever that meant. I seemed to have lots of colostrum, which I ended up manually expressing and feeding her drop by drop. When I did manage to get her to latch properly, she seemed to drink and swallow for a time, then the suck-swallow would slow down, as we had been taught. We recorded it on the chart we were provided with. I thought when she fell asleep she was done, as we had been taught. I had no idea that the suck-swallow I was observing was not coordinated or sustained enough to obtain much milk.

By her weigh-in that night, her weight had dropped from 6lbs 6 oz to 6 lbs. I wasn’t alarmed. We had been told, all babies lose weight at first.

The second day we got no rest either, as we were greeted by no less than 22 people, either family, audiologists, my OBGYN, public health, and someone giving out books. I was still high from the love of my new baby and relief of no longer being pregnant, so I was excited and eager to speak with everyone.

When my OB asked whether I was feeling any tingling in my breasts yet, I responded affirmatively. I had no idea the pain I felt was from my soon to be cracked and bleeding nipples.

The second night MD cried all night. We took turns holding her and trying to sooth her, alternating with me trying to feed her. I had now been awake nearly 72 hours (minus the odd catnap) and was becoming beside myself with fatigue and hormones.

When we asked one of the nurses for advice, she suggested using a soother. Great idea! we thought, and asked if they could provide one. We hadn’t brought any with us, as we were instructed not to use them in prental classes, as soothers can cause nipple confusion and “screw up” breastfeeding. The nurse replied that they didn’t have any either, we would have had to bring one with us. Our second experience with conflicting parenting advice, from health care professionals no less.  I was discouraged, and she must have sensed this because she followed up by saying that she would check with the NICU. Until then, one of the other nurses offered to hold MD in some warm blankets for a while so we could rest. We got maybe 45 minutes when the nurse returned her to us, as she was done her shift.

When the nurses did the second weigh-in, MD was now 5 lbs 12 oz. I was concerned, but not alarmed. Mostly because I was just excited to bring home our first child, where I was sure I would be able to get some rest, and because I didn’t feel like being in the hospital was doing any good.

The next morning, we waited with baited breath to find out whether we would be able to go home. In two spots in the room was a big sign that stated “Discharge is at 11am each day” as if it were some kind of hotel that had a check-out time. 10:30 came and my OB still hadn’t been in to check us. We felt in the dark. I asked the nurse if she knew if I would be going home. She said she would call the Dr. I said no, you don’t have to call her, I just wanted to know if we would be able to go home or when the Dr. would be in. She called her anyway.

Not too long afterwards the Dr. showed up.  “Someone in a hurry to go home” she said. I was embarrassed. No, I replied, we just wanted to know what was happening. One of the nurses had mentioned the night before that based on MD’s weight loss we might have to stay. The Dr. replied that as long as breastfeeding was going well it shouldn’t be a problem. The baby was healthy, I was healthy, and according to the chart we had been filling out MD was nursing well (or so we thought) so we were discharged. A nurse checked the car seat as we left. And that was it – we were off.

Once we got home I did get some rest, and tried to nurse every two to three hours or on demand as needed, forcing her to nurse a half hour on each side, as we had been taught. I had no idea this method was tiring MD out. That night we didn’t get a lot of rest, as she seemed to want to nurse all the time. My parents were staying with us, and took turns holding her.

The following day we had our first visit from a Public Health Nurse (PNH). MD’s weight had continued to drop, now 5 lbs 8 oz. She also hadn’t had a BM, though she was peeing. I was concerned, but was so excited to have her home I wasn’t alarmed. My understanding from what we had been taught was that it is normal for babies to lose weight in the first few days, and just to keep nursing.  My milk still hadn’t come in. The nurse watched me breastfeed, and indicated that she wasn’t “seeing a whole lot of milk transfer”. Whatever that meant.  She said to keep working on the latch and she would come visit again in a few days.

The nurse followed up with a phone call later, indicating that the weight loss was now past 10% and asked me what she thought I would do about breastfeeding in the next 24 hours. I mentioned something about pumping. I didn’t understand that this would be useless for my baby if there was nothing there to pump. She mentioned trying formula. I indicated that I didn’t want to use formula because I didn’t want to “screw up” breastfeeding, as we had been taught, and we had a family history of dairy allergies. She just said ok, and reminded us if we saw any signs of lethargy to have her seen by a Dr. Of course I replied. I hadn’t connected the weight loss to what she was saying. Why would they have told us in class to keep breastfeeding and not to give formula if the colostrum couldn’t sustain them until our milk came in?

I continued to practise breastfeeding. I put her down at one point to check her diaper, and noticed that she didn’t have the walking reflex on the change table that new babies all exhibit. Taking this as a sign of the lethargy we had been cautioned about, we took her straight to the ER.

The ER doctor, along with a team of nurses, residents and others in scrubs, looked her over, ran blood work, gave her some sugar water (which she devoured) and observed her for a couple of hours. Their conclusion – she needed a good meal and a nap.

The resident said we could take her home, but asked me what I would like to do next. Why are you asking me, I thought, aren’t you the Dr.? Aren’t you supposed to be giving me recommendations for what to do?

They sent me home with the bottle of sugar water. No instructions on how to store it (it should have been refrigerated), how to feed it, or how or where to get more.

The next morning, when she still seemed sleepy and still hadn’t had a BM we had her checked by my OBGYN (my GP was on vacation). She said our baby was perfectly healthy, just needed to fatten up. I told her my milk still wasn’t in and that I was still having trouble with the latch, and asked if she wanted to look at my breasts. She pulled back as if shocked, and said no, the she’d leave that to the nurses. She then gave me a prescription for domperidone to help my milk supply, and mentioned fenugreek. She agreed with me about not using formula just yet, and suggested that we keep using the sugar water for now. This would help provide calories MD needed to breastfeed. I asked where we could get more or how to make it, and she said to check with the pharmacist. Then she recommended we have her seen again in a few days.

When we returned home I tried to get some rest while a family member took in the prescription. What we didn’t know then was that the Dr. hadn’t written on the Rx that it was for breastfeeding, so I was given the wrong dose instructions by the pharmacist. The pharmacist wasn’t that knowledgeable of sugar water (they certainly didn’t have any in stock) but between him and a family member whose background was in health care they cobbled together a recipe, which my husband made when they got back. The pharmacy also didn’t carry fenugreek, nor did they know where I could get it.

That afternoon family arrived, who each were thrilled to take turns holding the new arrival. I suggested a couple of times that I take the baby upstairs to feed her, which was met by “if she was hungry she’d let you know, just relax and enjoy her”.

By the time everyone left that afternoon, day four or five, both my husband and I were spent. We were excited to be new parents, but exhausted and overwhelmed. We just didn’t know it yet.

That night was the roughest. Again, MD was awake all night wanting to eat. I was in pain from severely cracked and bleeding nipples. Every time she latched on I screamed and sobbed. I knew I needed help, but where was I going to get help at 3 o’clock in the morning? Public Health was only open 8am-4pm.

I kept going back to the “Breastfeeding Basics” book Public Health given us, which stated  “don’t let anyone tell you to give your baby formula”.

Talk about brainwashing. In my exhaustion and hormonal state, I still hadn’t put the pieces together. It wasn’t sinking in that because my baby wasn’t getting enough breastmilk from me she needed something else to sustain her.

Every three days we were going back to the clinic to have her weighted and see a Dr. MD’s weight was basically the same. I had tried pumping too, but wasn’t getting very much.

Finally one Dr. said we better try formula. I explained my misgivings, especially concerning allergies. He suggested just putting a bit of formula on her lips; if there is any swelling, stop and have her seen. If not, proceed with offering a bottle. I wish someone had told us this sooner.

Later that day, we did the “test”. She had no reaction, so we offered a bottle after nursing. She’d only take about a quarter of an ounce before falling asleep.

The whole feeding process became exhausting (as if we weren’t already exhausted enough). Every couple of hours I would keep MD awake to nurse 30 minutes on each side, offer as much formula as she would take, and pump whenever I had time. And every three days we were going to the Dr’s office to have her weighted. I was basically getting no rest, and neither was she. There literally weren’t enough hours in the day.

Three weeks in I finally got  to see my own GP. MDs weight was still low. (I don’t remember how much, because they weighted in grams and I didn’t do the conversion to pounds). My GP immediately asked if we were supplementing. I explained we had only recently started and why. She seemed mad. “It takes six weeks not six days”. I didn’t know what she meant. I didn’t learn until later that it takes six weeks to build your supply. And that “the first six weeks” campaign by Public Health was connected to this point, not that it took six weeks to decide if you liked breastfeeding or not. But I’ll get back to this later.

She asked about labour and delivery, I gave her the whole story. She suggested that it had been so fast my body just hadn’t caught up. And not to have her nurse 30 mins at a time – there wasn’t enough milk there yet and I was just tiring MD out.

My GP also corrected the domperidone dosage – two pills four times day. Feed MD 10 minutes on each side and follow up with 1 ounce of formula, every 2-3 hours or on demand. Stay home and rest. And best of all, have public health come in a couple of days. Finally some sensible advice! I thought.

And in a couple of days her weight was finally up, significantly.

Her weight gain continued and she started sleeping better, and so was I. This system worked for a couple of weeks. I was finally starting to enjoy motherhood when three things happened: MD started staying awake longer, she had a growth spurt, and the period of purple crying kicked in. All of these things are normal at 4-8 weeks, but for some reason I didn’t know about them.

It seemed like my beautiful, sweet, helpless little baby cried all the time. No one in my support circle knew about purple crying, and even though she was now steadily gaining weight she was still the smallest baby ever in our family, so everyone assumed she must be hungry.  I was trying to follow what the Dr. had told me, but it was beyond challenging. I felt like all I did was breastfeed. I couldn’t even get dressed or get proper meals because every time I put MD down she cried. She’d also started spitting up what seemed like excessive amounts. And she was still too small for the baby sling/carrier that I had. I wish I’d read My Baby Won’t Stop Crying People suggested getting out. First of all, it was March and rainy and cold. Second, how could I go to a parenting support group when I couldn’t even get dressed?!

At her one month check up I asked the Dr. about both the crying and the spit up, and the Dr. said MD probably just needed a burp or a distraction. Distract her how? I had no idea what toys or games would be appropriate for this age, and everything I tried didn’t work. But I didn’t tell my Dr. this. And if she’s just had a good meal then she probably just wants to suck so try a soother. But she wouldn’t take a soother. And if I didn’t know how much breastmilk she was getting from me, how did I know if she’d just had a good meal? And that the reflux means I’m feeding her too much. What I didn’t know was that there are treatments for reflux suitable for babies. And that excessive crying can cause reflux by swallowing air.

At six weeks I literally felt like I’d hit a wall. I stayed in bed most of the day, except when I had to go downstairs to make a bottle or to try pumping. MD still cried all the time, and wouldn’t take a soother. I didn’t know then that this is also a symptom of tongue tie – but I’ll get back to that later.

When I pumped, I’d only get about an ounce from both sides. I had no idea this was normal at this stage. I couldn’t pump after every feeding. Who was going to wash and sterilize the equipment while I was holding a baby who wouldn’t sleep any other way? I was spiralling into a depression. And I officially hated breastfeeding. At my six week check up I tried to maintain my composure as best I could and stick to health related questions about my baby. She’s doing fine the Dr. said. But I’m not I thought. I didn’t know how to articulate this to my Dr.

My Dr. asked what I wanted to do. I thought I had to make an either or decision. I didn’t know doing both was an “acceptable” option. I decided to stop breastfeeding. The Dr. replied with “well, you gave it the six weeks, I’ll let you know if she gets too fat”. These words will forever be embedded in my mind.

I asked how much formula to give her; the Dr. said 3 ½ ounces every four hours should be fine. I had no idea formula was based on body weight. I asked her what kind, she said “I don’t know, I never had to buy it”. Seriously?! if you go to a male gynecologist looking for an IUD, they don’t say “I don’t know I never had to use one”.

That evening before trying to put MD down for the night, I gave her a full bottle. She was content after the feeding and promptly fell asleep. She then slept for about five hours straight, and so did I.

When she woke a little after midnight, I was engorged. Ahhh, so this is what it’s supposed to feel like, I thought. I needed MD to nurse, and badly. I gave her an ounce of formula first, then let her nurse to her fill. She had a classic suck-swallow rhythm, and after a few minutes abruptly pulled herself of the breast and contentedly fell back asleep.

In hindsight I probably didn’t need to give her formula, my breastmilk would have likely been enough at that point. But again, I had no one to call for help at that hour. And I was torn – hadn’t I already decided to stop breastfeeding? I was always the type of person that once I made a decision I stuck to it, I didn’t flip-flop on issues. I thought that by changing my mind again I was showing weakness of character.

If only breastfeeding had felt like that from the beginning, I would have felt differently about it. Over the next couple of weeks, I attempted to wean MD, nursing when it was convenient and gave formula the rest of the time. A small part of me quietly longed to repeat that midnight feeding.

Despite MDs satisfaction at the end of feedings, she still seemed to cry all the time, and wanted to comfort nurse. I had no idea she was really trying to nurse herself to sleep. I didn’t know babies needed to suck to fall asleep.

The PHN came to see me again one day, and reassured me that even if I stopped breastfeeding I had given my baby everything, the best possible start. I asked about the “comfort nursing”, and the nurse replied that babies have no self-soothing skills yet. Whatever that meant.

She also asked me if I experienced any breast changes during pregnancy, or if we’d had any difficulty conceiving. I thought about it – I had certainly gotten bigger around, but my cup size hadn’t changed, and it had taken us about eight months to conceive. I didn’t understand the significance of this question until later.

She also said if that had been her child she’d have given them formula the second night home from the hospital. I was appalled. I just starred at her. I couldn’t even respond. I didn’t know how to respond. How could she say that?! Why didn’t she say it earlier?! But she did. But I had already been brainwashed and was exhausted to the point I couldn’t receive and process the new information.

I moved on, and tried to make my way through the fog of new parenthood. Slowly MDs temperament seemed to improve and I started to find my way. I wish I’d read 100 Days of Darkness , so that I’d known most of what I had experienced was within the normal range of motherhood experiences.

When MD was about three months old I ran into a friend at the mall one day. She was pregnant with her second child at the time, and was excited to see my baby and chat to me about new motherhood. We ventured into the topic of breastfeeding, and I mentioned that unfortunately I had to supplement. Her eyes darted from side to side and she replied under her breath “Don’t worry, everyone does it”, as if we were members of some club chaired by Lance Armstrong.

Over the next few months, I started going to mom and baby groups, speaking with many other moms, and reading online forums. I learned that my experience, my difficulties breastfeeding, was not unique. Not by a long shot.

There was a good friend, whose daughter would not open her mouth to breastfeed in the first 48 hours and was diagnosed with reflux. She was tube-fed formula once, and my friend pumped every three hours and tube fed breastmilk. Finally, at seven weeks her baby latched, and she was able to breastfeed for nearly eighteen months. (In fact, no one told her she could stop pumping, so she pumped every three hours for three months). Her daughter was given medication for reflux. Why wasn’t mine?

A coworker of my husband’s had been breastfeeding successfully until around three months. Her daughter had stopped gaining weight. She was advised to just “keep breastfeeding” and her body would catch up. Except it never did. One night, showing signs of lethargy, she ended up rushing her daughter to the ER. They were advised to put her on formula.

One of the moms at a parent’s group I went to told me her story. Her daughter was in the six pound range at birth, but due to a poor latch dropped below six pounds within a couple of days. She was sent home from the hospital with formula (why wasn’t I?), but the baby started projectile vomiting. A dairy allergy was diagnosed and she was advised to take the highest dose of domperidone and pump. She pumped exclusively for one year.

Another mom at that same group ended up putting her baby on 100% formula when her milk failed to come in.

Yet another had problems with latch, the baby failed to gain weight and the mom developed a bad case of mastitis. They only nursed a few weeks.

Another’s little guy had such a hard time latching that he tore part of her nipple off.

And yet another, a nurse herself, tried everything for six weeks and finally concluded that she had no milk and switched entirely to formula.

A colleague from work told me her sister’s story of breastfeeding her first child – like me she had struggled with early low milk supply, and had tried pumping, various pills, everything she could to no avail. Her second child she didn’t even try nursing and went straight to formula.

There were also multitudes of stories in the online community, one in particular “Fearless Formula Feeder” really hit home.

Sometime during this period, I also heard a CBC White Coat, Black Art episode, describing similar experiences across the country.



While it was somewhat reassuring to know I wasn’t alone, I was furious at the health care system for not only allowing this to happen, but also for not telling new moms what could happen. I’ll get back to this point later.

La Leche League was surprisingly supportive when I reached out to them and told them my story. “You gotta do what you gotta do to keep your child alive” was their perspective. They also questioned why I hadn’t been advised to give MD formula first then breastfeed, suggesting that the extra calories upfront would have allowed her to breastfeed better. Great advice! But a few months too late.

I finally encountered a sympathetic Public Health Nurse who, after hearing my story, told me that there are about 1% of women who don’t make enough milk, and just maybe I’m in that 1%. Finally, someone from the health care community admitted that it might be my biology, and not my apparent lack of determination, that contributed to my breastfeeding difficulties.

I eventually found some information that reassured me that there were likely physiological problems surrounding pregnancy, labor and delivery that let to my low milk supply:

  • Blood loss. Remember when I said the Dr. said I lost a lot of blood? Well, for a Dr. to say this there must have been a lot. I didn’t need a transfusion, but I remembered later that they had given me an injection of oxytocin to help my uterus contract, because apparently my own body wasn’t doing its job. Blood loss during delivery is one of the main reasons for lack of or delayed milk production, as it affects pituitary hormones and prolactin production.


  • Lack of glandular tissue. Remember when I said that my boobs didn’t really change in size during pregnancy – apparently they should have increased in size significantly. This is a sign of lack of sufficient glandular tissue to generate the milk. I’ll talk about this more later. But every woman is different, and with everything else that went wrong (see below) it was hard to say for sure. So I didn’t read too much into this at first.


  • IV fluids – I was given IV fluids for several hours during and after delivery. I don’t know if this is standard practise or not, but it can lead to edema and reduced milk supply (see Low Milk Supply causes).


  • Thyroid problemsThyroid hormone levels can inhibit effective breastfeeding. My thyroid levels were never tested, so I have no idea if this was a problem or not. I certainly remember having some of the symptoms (dry, itchy skin; cold all the time; post-partum weight gain; excessive fatigue). But not all cases are symptomatic.


All the while I still longed to repeat that midnight feeding. I ended up trying “relactation” around 4 months – nursing every two to three hours plus taking domperidone and fenugreek to build my supply back up.

I still had misgivings about formula feeding. We had been taught that it would make our children overweight, due to the composition of the formula itself and because small babies have such a strong sucking reflex they don’t know enough to stop when they’re full, setting them up for a lifetime overeating. I wish I’d seen this doula’s website. Having struggled with my weight all my life I knew I didn’t want this for my child. The “rules” say so many ounces every four hours, but she always seemed hungry more frequently than that. I was obsessed with not over feeding her. I looked for help online, but the internet being the internet, there was lots of conflicting information.

The following websites provided some good tips and reassurances:



Healthy Children

What to Expect

Fearless Formula Feeder


In the end, I breastfed to some extent for about seven months. MD weaned herself not long after the introduction of solids. While I never fully repeated the “midnight feeding” experience and always had to supplement some, as MD got older and more efficient (and finally latched without causing me pain) I finally experienced the beauty of breastfeeding.

Nevertheless, for months, even years after, I felt frustration, bitterness, anger, sadness, guilt. I was frustrated, bitter and angry with the public health care system and my own biology for being denied the opportunity to breastfeed, and sadness and guilt for not being able to provide the best for MD.

To add insult to injury, when I told some health care practitioners my story after the fact, I wasn’t met with a “wow, it’s amazing you lasted that long”. Instead I heard a “oh, that’s too bad. Most babies don’t wean themselves until between 1 and 2”.  Furthermore, because I didn’t breastfeed very much, I had a very hard time losing weight.  Double-whammy.

What went wrong here?

I’ll admit there was a hell of a lot I didn’t know. On top of that, a hell of a lot went wrong: fast labour and delivery didn’t give my boobs a chance to catch up with my body (high cortisol, produced during stress, can delay milk production), blood loss during delivery, poor latch, well meaning family members sabotaging attempts to breastfeed (misinformation, lack of rest), and general new parent or “performance” anxiety. I had most of the so-called “booby traps”.

But there was a lot that went wrong that could have been prevented by a more functional health care system.

  • Lack of rest. As far as I’m concerned, my health care providers, including Public Health, did not emphasize or adequately define “rest”. I thought I was getting sufficient rest, but in hindsight I know it wasn’t nearly enough.

Prior to getting pregnant and having a baby, I had a very busy life. A typical Saturday might look like this: wake up, go for a run and/or clean something in the house; get cleaned up and have breakfast; go to the farmer’s market and/or get groceries; do some baking or other hobby; have lunch; have friends over, go to a public talk at the library, work on a home renovation project or do volunteer work; make dinner; go to a friend’s house or out to a movie or club. Yes, all of that in one day. So going from this to doing nothing but look after myself and my baby was a HUGE adjustment that we were in no way prepared for.

What they meant by “rest” was not laying on the couch surfing the internet or having visitors (although that would have previously been considered a “restful” activity to me. They meant being horizontal, in bed, trying to sleep.


  • My health care providers, including Public Health, did not provide adequate or timely information about formula feeding, including when it might be medically indicated. I firmly believe that if I’d been able to give MD formula in the first week it would have given my body a chance to catch up, and her body the calories she needed to breastfeed effectively.


  • Public health also brainwashed us about crying. We were made to feel that if our baby was crying, we had missed some all important cue and weren’t doing or jobs as mothers. This caused undo stress and anxiety, which likely inhibited the letdown reflex and let to a high strung baby, creating a vicious cycle. (Cortisol from the stress of the whole situation likely further inhibited milk production).


  • Discharge procedure from hospital. I should not have been let out of the hospital when I was. We needed at least another day. There was a total lack of communication regarding discharge, which left us feeling lost and in the dark about our own health.


  • Conflicting advice and miscommunication between health care professionals. Why didn’t anyone else mention the “allergy test”? Why weren’t my reflux concerns taken more seriously? Why wasn’t the pharmacist told that the prescription was for breast feeding? Why did  each nurse have their own “opinion” about positioning and the latch?  I’ll admit sometimes you need to try different things, but the fact that nothing was working should have been a clue that something was wrong.


But where do we draw the line as to when, what and how we should be educating ourselves, and what information the health care professionals should provide? I’ll get back to that later.

Would this experience with my first child forever taint my view of breastfeeding? The story continues.


Read more about The Fourth Trimester here.

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July 28, 2015

The kitchen is clean, the dining room is clean, the bathrooms are clean, we’ve rearranged, purged, decorated. And it’s hot. My cheeks are hot, my ankles are hot, I could go on. Well, not actually that hot, but at the risk of sounding cliché, “it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity”. I have some flowers planted (yes I actually managed to contort myself into a position that allowed planting of things, though they’re probably molding in the dirt with all the rain we’ve received), and I’ve read and read and read. So I thought I’d do one more blog post because I just don’t know what else to do with myself.

Lately I’ve been reading about natural methods of inducing labour. I’ve been trying long walks, Thai food, pineapple, other things that my husband can help with . . . nothing yet. (Baby Centre has some great suggestions). We had a false alarm last week – the couple of days before I’d been feeling nauseous and generally how I feel before I start my period. Thursday morning I started having contractions every ten minutes for about two hours, and they seemed to be getting stronger and weren’t going away when I changed position. So we got everyone up and dressed, got breakfast (because I was suddenly starving!), and the contractions suddenly stopped. Nothing. Zilch. Nada. Nothing for the rest of the day (until suppertime I had one – that’s all). And nothing since.

I am getting frustrated because I’m just tired of being pregnant. I know that sounds selfish – this little being needs the time it needs to grow and be healthy. I was all psyched up to give birth and now  I just feel like it’s never going to end. My daughter was two weeks early (38 weeks 2 days) and based on the size and position of my belly, everyone around me has been saying all along “there’s no way you’re making it to August”. My actual due date is August 8th. My own prediction (the little feeling I got about midway through) was July 28th – today. I was two days off with my daughter (predicted February 15th – she was born February 13th). All of our friends and family are anxiously awaiting any news, and my husband is anxious to have it over with. But you know what they say, “a watched pot never boils”.

Speaking of cooking, as we purge various items in the house we decided our frying pans were toast, so they’ve gone into the yard sale pile. (Admittedly it might have been my cooking spray (Week 33) and “spaghetti scrubber” experiments that did them in, but we won’t go there right now 😉 ).


My brilliant husband managed to find a frying pan at Superstore made from recycled metal (pictured above). Which made me happy 🙂

For more ideas for things to do while waiting for baby, check out this post by fellow WordPress blogger:  and Growing Slower:

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Calculated Risk

January 2015

Recently had my first round of blood work for maternal serum screening. While the results won`t change what we do, at least we can be prepared.

As I struggle with my own immunity problems this winter (still catching every cold going), and with all the hype and news surrounding vaccines in the media lately, I guess it’s my turn to weigh-in on the debate.

If I ever actually get around to putting thought to screen – I have a whole blog post written in my head – it’s just finding the time and energy to actually get it down. So stay tuned for that. As far as the green challenge goes, I`ve decided to start being more careful about purchasing items with micro beads. More about that another day.

Meanwhile, the blog goes on . . .


So as I said I had this beautifully  blog post constructed in my head, and didn’t actually write anything down. That’s the problem with me and writing. I write things in my head constantly, but don’t take (or have) the time to record them properly. Very frustrating for me. Sometimes it’s useful to let things ferment before publishing them – sometimes it makes the writing better, or you might change your mind about going public with the ideas.

This particular post was going to focus around how having children is a bit of a calculated risk. And the chances of having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy child has statistics associated with it. And that there are some things we can do to keep our children healthier. Like vaccinate.

I do vaccinate, but not for the reasons you might think. When it comes down to it, I would prefer that immunity be gained naturally than through a shot. Not that I believe in purposefully exposing my child to illness either (a la “chicken pox party”). I worry about the risks associated with vaccines. I worry about how well regulated they actually are, about the contents of the shot, about whether she’ll have an allergic reaction. About how their release and distribution might be influenced by “Big Pharma”. And about autism. I know, I know, the whole autism connection has been disproven. But.

As parents we always have those little voices, those little doubts. The “what ifs” and “buts” and little things that we try to control because it’s our job to protect our children but there are some things we can’t control. I have friends who are educated medical professionals, who noticed a marked change in their children’s personalities and behaviour after receiving vaccines. There has also been some research to show that it is not the vaccine itself that causes problems, but the inflammation triggered in the body in response to the vaccine.

Here’s where things get interesting. I recently read a book called Brain on Fire. The author shared her own experiences tracing the cause of some unusual and debilitating symptoms. She ended up being diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease. She also makes an interesting case to indicate that the root cause of all mental illness is actually inflammation in the body. This inflammation may be due to an autoimmune disease, and that immune response could be triggered by bacteria. Other researchers have been looking into this as well – see

Of course, there would have to be a genetic component. So maybe in a very small percentage of children, their bodies are genetically predisposed to respond to inflammation through what appears to us as autism spectrum disorder(s) – and it is really an autoimmune disease, that just happened to be triggered by a vaccine early in life, but could have just as easily been triggered by being infected by an actual virus or bacteria later in life. See I suppose we’ll never know.

So back to why I vaccinate. Some childhood illnesses can make children very, very sick, and cause permanent neurological damage. And for some, like diphtheria, there is a treatment but no cure. And no one wants their child to die.

More importantly, I vaccinate myself and my child to ramp up herd immunity. Because herd immunity only works when greater than something like 85-90% of the population is vaccinated. And herd immunity protects those who cannot be vaccinated for various reasons. Like my Mom.

My Mom has an autoimmune disease which makes her immune system attack healthy body tissues. This means that she can’t be vaccinated for certain things. And because she is on immunosuppressing drugs, if she were to get sick she could get very sick. Luckily (in some ways) she is in a demographic that has already been exposed and/or had many childhood illnesses that my daughter could bring home from daycare. (Ironically, her disease was first detected after having a cold. Her brother was also recently diagnosed with the same, supposedly rare disease, after having a flu shot. The specialist had never seen two cases in one family. Would be interesting to further study this potential genetic link).

I also vaccinate for the sake of other people’s children, those who are too young to be vaccinated or cannot medically receive vaccines due to allergies to the contents or the autoimmune diseases I mentioned above. Pregnant women, such as myself also can’t receive some vaccines, such as chicken pox (and while I’ve been exposed several times, I’ve never actually had chicken pox).

So while there may be a risk associated with vaccines, to me, the risk associated with not vaccinating is much higher. Not just to myself and my own child, but to other children. And I will not have their blood on my hands.

Not my best writing, but that’s the jest of it. Speaking of hands . . . washing your hands and other proper hygiene is still the best way to prevent getting sick. But I recently learned that many cleansing products contain microbeads. Toothpaste, body scrubs, all kinds of things I never thought of. Pretty sure my Tom’s of Maine toothpaste is microbead free (see Week 6). I can’t tell from the label on my body scrubs. So one of these days I am going to try making my own, using some of these recipes:

And for some ideas to dispose of what you already have:

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Week # 52-1 – Where Do We Go from Here?

A new year brings new adventures. My daughter is at swimming lessons with my husband right now, something she hasn’t done since she was a baby and I did a parent and tot class with her. She loves the water so I’m sure she’ll be fine. It’s hard to believe she’s the same little girl that four years ago I could hold in one arm up against me in the water , and now I can barely lift her at all.

My bulging belly doesn’t help that, though. While the nausea and fatigue have started to fade (this is the first week I’ve really felt like myself in a long time), I am starting to put on weight; I’m afraid we may have to start telling folks earlier than we’d hoped.

Husband is starting to get used to the idea of having another little one pitter-pattering around the house. We’ve had a number of tete-à-tetes in the past couple of weeks to try to sort out or feelings about the changes that will be coming. I know he’s scared and is having “buyers remorse” so to speak. I think neither of us really thought it would happen again.

And I’m terrified too. Terrified of balancing it all, terrified that I’ll experience post-partum depression and do something to harm one or both of my children. Or that something will happen during the pregnancy, or labor and delivery that will change all of our lives forever.

But I am by nature an optimist, and I can’t dwell on the negative. I also feel contentment. I longed to again feel what it is to bring life to another human being, to feel them grow and move inside me, and to clutch them to my breast and provide nourishment. I long to give another grandchild to my parents and my parents-in law – we may be their only chance at another. And I long to give my daughter something I never had – a sibling. So when my wonderful yet terrified husband asks for the umpteenth time, are we sure we really want this baby, I can unequivocally say yes.

I am also a realist this time. The first time around I was surrounded by moms who insisted that being pregnant, having children, breastfeeding was the most wonderful thing they had ever experienced. That they loved being pregnant, loved being a mom, couldn’t wait to do it again. That they found time to spend with their partners when the baby slept. That there’s lots of support for new moms. That their mom and mom-in law came and stayed with them. That I would love being a mom too.

But they didn’t have morning sickness (which isn’t just in the morning) throughout their pregnancy, fainting, nosebleeds, leg cramps, or gain nearly sixty pounds. Their placenta was where it was supposed to be, they breastfed without difficulties, they had family close by, and they had babies that slept.

They didn’t know my friend who’s husband lost his job when her son was five and her daughter was 6 months and she had to go back to work. Or my other friend, who’s daughter, her second child, was born with an extra “pseudo” kidney and one of her “normal” kidneys was non-functional.

Now I know how hard it can be. I know it will mean sleepless nights (which isn’t all that different from what we experience now) and less time to myself. But I also know that I the learning curve won’t be as steep, that I don’t have to– and won’t- put as much pressure on myself, that we won’t balance it all all the time,  and that the proportion of time that it’s really hard is so small compared to the proportion of time they are in our lives, learning new things every day, pitter-pattering into our room hugging us and kissing us and saying “I love you Mommy” – driving us to our wits end all the while because it’s probably 4am – but loving us all the same.

Speaking of time to myself, for now the blog goes on.

And I deserve to take a moment (while I can!) to celebrate this accomplishment. Because I made it! I actually made it! Here I am, one year later, still blogging! According to Statistics Brain only 8% of Americans keep New Year’s resolutions. Even I had my doubts about whether I would keep this up, and it was more challenging than I thought it would be at times, but I was determined to finish what I started.

I definitely didn’t blog as regularly as I had hoped. I just didn’t have time. My daughter stopped having naps about two months into the project, I got sick a lot more than I thought I would, and the technology didn’t always cooperate (as you’ll see about half way through I switched blogging sites). I was disappointed and frustrated at times, mostly at myself. Frustrated that I wasn’t blogging as much as I wanted, or wasn’t posting the blog posts to correspond with news and events. As us Moms often do to ourselves, I was putting way too much pressure on myself. This was supposed to be a fun activity to challenge myself and hopefully help the planet too, not to get famous. It was also therapeutic for me to have an outlet to write again.

And I did learn a lot. I learned that it really isn’t easy being green. Lifestyle changes and consumer habits that should be easy, really aren’t as easy as they should be. Green products really are more expensive, and sometimes that extra expense isn’t worth the extra trouble to find or maintain a product, or the green benefits really don’t outweigh the extra cost where a bigger change might have more of an impact. And I learned what my limits are- what changes we are willing to make as a family and bring us together, and which push us apart.

I was able to make some legitimate changes that I have stuck with, such as taking the bus to work as often as possible, using hankies, having more vegetarian meals, and purchasing clothing only at thrift stores, among others.

There were some changes I made that I didn’t blog about specifically, such as”

  • Using a reusable dish scrubber instead of SOS pads
  • Switching out handsoap around the house and my daughters bath soap for more natural, hand-made and/or environmentally friendly products.

There were some changes that I just couldn’t keep up:

  • Facebook-free Friday rarely happened, if at all – but I did go tech-free for most of Christmas week, so that was an accomplishment;
  • Taking the stairs at work stopped when my office moved to the 17th Although I did try getting off the elevator on a lower floor and taking the stairs the rest of the way, and taking the stairs down whenever I can;
  • The olive-oil dispenser instead of cooking spray didn’t really work all that well, so back to the drawing board there;
  • I definitely didn’t volunteer as much as I would have liked to;
  • And my rock-star showers haven’t changed. But I hope our other water conservation measures – such as using pasta and veggie water to water houseplants, shaving my legs with bathwater, doing less laundry by re-wearing clothes, and sponge-baths instead of tub-baths – help offset that somewhat.

And I attained two of my major goals – getting a new job, and getting pregnant.

I have lots of ideas for other challenges I would like to try, such as:

  • Making our own kitty litter, from sand and saw dust;
  • Using environmentally-friendly driveway “salt” in winter;
  • Making my own insect repellant;
  • purchasing locally milled grains;
  • Find a more sustainable option for menstrual pads.

So where do I go from here?

Do I keep up adding new green challenges to my weekly routine? Or do I work on improving on the challenges I’ve already identified, while improving previous blog posts and adding photos? And how will adding another member to our family (and yes, I know, adding another resource-consuming body to an already over-populated planet) change things?

Or do I take some time to work on projects around the house (something I’ve been putting off in favor of spending time on the blog). Do I stop blogging altogether? IS THIS MY LAST BLOG POST?

You’ll have to keep reading to find out!

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Week # 32 – New Beginnings

September 6, 2014

It is a season for fresh starts. The job offer finally came through, and after several years of trying I can finally say I have a job that relates to both what I studied in school and my on-the-job training. It’s a job that while not directly related to the environment, I do provide administrative support to environmental monitoring programs. So I’d call that a green job . Horray 🙂

The location of this job also allows me to take the bus to work as often as I want! But realistically I am aiming for two days a week until I’m more settled-in. I can also visit the Farmer’s Market on my lunch break, and visit Feeding Others of Dartmouth to drop off containers.

As for my personal life, the only baby news is that there is no baby news. Now feels like the right time to take a hiatus from this particular goal, and rethink whether it’s what we really want. The timing wouldn’t be great, having just started a new job. Speaking of time, I’m more confident we still have lots of time, if in a few months we decide we do want it after all.

Now that the weather is cooler, days are shorter, and we’ll be spending less and less time outside, I’ll likely be spending more time blogging. Expect to see more regular posts from me in the coming weeks about tree planting, garbage pick-ups, and more ways I am trying to live a healthier, more environmentally friendly lifestyle – without completely losing my sanity.