mommyonthegreen

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.

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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

Upcycling

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!

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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

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#UglyFoodIsBeautiful

 

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!)

Refound!

Burial Pods

 

Pets

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

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Natural Pest/Weed Control

Ants

 

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

 

Parenthood

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.

http://www.upworthy.com/never-before-have-i-laughed-so-hard-at-one-guys-non-attempt-to-save-the-planet?g=2&c=ufb1

 

THE END

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Born Hungry: Part II

September/October 2015-March/April 2016

What does breastfeeding have to do with going green, you might wonder. Primarily the waste reduction aspect – no formula containers to recycle, no bottles to wash. Additionally, the nutritional benefits of a “natural” food.

In my first post (Born Hungry Part I) I described my struggle to breastfeed my daughter (MD). There have been many days when I wished I could do it all over again, and do it right.

When we became pregnant with our second child, I knew I wanted to try breastfeeding again.  But this time I was ready. I purchased a breast pump, had bottles and formula ready, and purchased a bottle of fenugreek from The Healthy Bug health food store down the road.

Most importantly, I was armed with information. I knew what breastfeeding was supposed to feel like, and how beautiful it could be. I went in with the opinion that as no two pregnancies or no two babies were the same, there was no reason to believe my breastfeeding experience would be repeated.

I had a relatively healthy and uneventful pregnancy (noticed breast changes right away, which continued throughout the pregnancy), and LM was born the day before his due date (see And Finally). Labor and delivery again were very fast but without any complications, and he was a healthy weight.

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When he latched on in the delivery room and immediately started the now familiar suck-swallow, I was so relieved it was almost orgasmic.

I continued to nurse on demand (trying to wake him every three to four hours the first day), and it just felt so much better than it had with MD. It felt natural. I was experiencing some pain in the left breast when he first latched on, but I expected that would improve in a few days. The lactation consultant that came to see us in the hospital (wow so the health care system had learned something in the last four years!), she commented that my nipples seemed large but otherwise everything seemed ok.

So when after day two when LM and I had been up all night, his weight was still dropping, he was jaundiced, and he still wasn’t peeing as much as he should have been, I was disappointed but still determined. I knew that all of this except the peeing part was normal, and he was still well above seven pounds so he had a little more weight to work with than MD.

After much discussion with the nurses and the OBGYN at the hospital, we decided to supplement. I didn’t want to go through what we’d gone through with MD. I could feel that my breasts were getting bigger and that my milk was on its way in. But I knew a little bit of formula now would help flush his system and make sure he could pee, give him calories to breastfeed effectively, and give me some much needed rest. This time the health care practitioners were very supportive of formula.

Within an hour he had a pee. He also only took a little bit of formula before settling down for a long sleep, which the nurse said was encouraging, as it indicated he was likely full of colostrum and transitional milk.

That afternoon we were discharged, and we brought LM home. I fed him on demand, every two to three hours during the day and every three to four at night.  There were a couple of nights he slept nearly six hours. I wasn’t going to set an alarm, as I knew we both needed rest, but I woke him as soon as I woke.

I started taking fenugreek the day after we got home. We also supplemented a couple of times, as it was August and very hot, and I felt I had nursed him with all that I had but he was still screeching for more.

On day five I woke at midnight to full, leaking breasts. Hallelujah! My milk was in! I nursed him until he wouldn’t take any more and he drifted off to sleep. He drained one side and part of the other, and I pumped off what was left.

PHN came in the next afternoon he had gained weight – horray! She suggested we stop supplementing. I asked her about the painful latch on the left side. She said, oh that’s ok, it should clear up in a few days.

I was relived and happy to be breastfeeding my baby, and did not anticipate any problems. But then . . .

Over the next day or two he still wasn’t peeing as much as he should have been. I was concerned about both the jaundice (which seemed to be getting worse, not better) and dehydration since it was so hot. I wanted to have the PHN come two days later to have him weighted again, but she wasn’t available. So at one week I was out and about to take him to a mom and tot group to have him weighed. Sure enough, he had lost two ounces. The PHN was stumped.

He was pooping regularly and it was the right consistency, he was sucking and swallowing at the breast, he was latched deeply (on the right side anyway), I could see milk in his mouth, I could notice a difference in my breasts before and after nursing, he was now waking every three hours on his own most of the time to eat, and was taking anywhere from 10 minutes to 25 minutes to empty a breast. He was alert and not lethargic. He was falling asleep while nursing, but most newborns often do this. He was still jaundiced though (the other nurse told me not to worry about the jaundice. How could I not worry when my whole family was worried!) It was also still very painful when he latched on the left side. Something just wasn’t adding up.

“Do you mind if I look in his mouth?” the PHN asked. Of course, go ahead I replied. “Aha”, she exclaimed, “he’s tongue tied, and lip-tied. He can’t get a proper latch to empty the breast or stimulate the breasts to make more, and he’s tiring himself out trying. Keep supplementing him for now and speak to your GP at your next visit to have it clipped.” After telling her about the experience we had with MD, she said chances are my daughter was tongue tied too. (That would certainly explain why I had such a hard time with her).

At two weeks of age he had the tongue tie clipped (they wouldn’t cut the lip tie). The Dr. said to have the PHN check the latch and have him weighted in a few days. Oh, and by the way there are these exercises you should do to keep the tongue tie from growing back, but you can see them on Youtube. Really? A Dr. is directing me to YouTube for medical information? Oh my postpartum nerves!

Within a few days I noticed that he was no longer falling asleep as easily at the breast. Now that he was staying awake to empty my breasts, it seemed like he was rarely satisfied at the end of a feeding. It was like I was playing catch up all the time. I continued supplementing when it seemed necessary.

At one month check up he was gaining weight, but just barely, and he was rarely content at the end of a feeding, even after giving formula. I asked the Dr. for domperidone again, and she provided a prescription. In hindsight I probably should have asked for this at one week, but my Dr. is hesitant to prescribe medications that aren’t needed and I don’t know if she would have considered this “necessary” at that time.

At two months it was the same story – the domperidone and fenugreek had helped, and most of the time I could feed him (usually between midnight and noon) and just supplement a few times a day (usually afternoon and early evening). I felt like I was just about there.

But my Dr. still wasn’t happy with the weight gain. She suggested that maybe I made “skim milk”.  That is, that my milk does not have a high enough fat content to satisfy him or help him gain weight faster. She agreed that based on genetic endowment (he comes from a family on the large size on all sides) and activity level (holding his head up at 45-90deg at 2 months of age) I should continue supplementing him whenever he needs it, and that he would stop when he had enough (something we were concerned about with MD).

When I pumped I took note – sure enough, about 2 ounces of foremilk, toped with a skim of hindmilk (much like gasoline on a puddle). I also noticed how much slower the hindmilk came out: the foremilk sprayed out forcefully, while the hindmilk was more like a “drip drip drip” resembling a leaking faucet. At this point I’m thinking I would love to have my breastmilk analyzed by the Dal Food Sciences group, for example. Do we really know that all breastmilk is the same?

Of course, when I mentioned this to the PNH, she said that “skim breastmilk” was a myth. Oh why can’t all health care practioners have the same information? See KellyMom for a really good article explaining human milk production and fat content. See BalanceBreastfeeding for a more balanced perspective, that leads me to believe I had impatient babies who wouldn’t wait for the “drip drip drip”!

At one Parent & Tot drop in session I did a before feeding and after feeding weight, with the PHN. The difference was about two ounces. The PHN seemed alarmed at this, but really couldn’t explain it or offer any other suggestions.

I am drinking lots of fluids, getting lots of rest, nursing every 2-3 hours during the day and 3-4 at night, pumping when I have time, taking the highest dose possible of domperidone and fenugreek, even drinking mother’s milk tea. I continue to offer the same breast until I can’t express any more, doing breast compressions, and nursing in different positions to make sure he’s emptied each breast (as much as possible, acknowledging that milk is constantly produced). If I feel another let down I put him back on the boob before I resort to bringing out the bottle. And yet . . . I still don’t seem to have enough milk (based on baby’s behaviour, diaper ouput, and weight gain).

When I have spare moments (when LM is napping on my chest but I can’t seem to sleep myself), I’ve been doing some research.  I came across some information I’d found when I had MD but decided to take a closer look – IGT.

Insufficient glandular tissue (IGT) means that some women, for whatever reason, just don’t have enough glandular tissue in their breasts to make enough milk. And not just for a hungry child, but for any child. It is hard to diagnose, because it usually only becomes apparent when a woman first tries to breastfeed.

Some of the signs are listed in this article by La Leache League and Best for Babes.

Breast asymmetry (one higher and slightly larger than the other), wide spacing (lack of cleavage), lack of changes during pregnancy, and downward pointing breasts with “empty sack” appearance are a few of the traits that I have.

It would explain why when I look at photos of myself, it always looks like I’m not wearing a bra even when I am. It would explain why I find bra shopping difficult; why my breasts are barely a B-cup, small in proportion to my 5’7” 170 lb frame and 38-40 bra diameter, or why no matter how I adjusted the shoulder straps I couldn’t get enough lift. It would explain the proportionately large nipples the lactation consultant in the hospital noticed. It might also explain why, even though my babies weren’t latching properly, I never developed mastitis.  It’s like aspects of my life were finally starting to make sense.

The scientist in me craved more information. I wanted to see a photograph or other image demonstrating these traits. I finally found some, and I was floored. I held the iPad in front of me while I stood in a mirror. It’s like the illustrator was looking at me when he drew the picture. I couldn’t believe it. “It’s not you it’s your boobs” I thought to myself.

One day I finally broke out the ruler and measured – one inch. One inch between my breasts. So not technically IGT. So I decided to ask for another opinion.

When I mention the possibility of IGT to PHN, I’m met with “oh, I doubt it, that’s pretty rare”. I feel like saying, “well, how many clients have you had? Maybe I’m your first.” I wish I could track down that one PHN that I spoke with months after having MD.

This is where I just want someone to look at my boobs (something no one, for either child, has done, except for that one lactation consultant who noticed my nipples while looking at the latch) and tell me I’m not imagining things.

I’m not trying to come up with an excuse to quit. I just want to be reassured that I’ve done everything I can and that it’s not my fault.

I’m not the only one having trouble getting health care practitioners to acknowledge this.  Many others have written about their own experiences and the struggle of others:

Little Help from Doctors

Diary of Lactation Failure

Why I don’t breastfeed

The Manly Art of Breastfeeding

 

And others go a step further, questioning some of the benefits of breastmilk and breastfeeding culture altogether, and the lack of science behind some claims:

Breastfeeding Conspiracy

Breastmilk not a pure food

Tyranny of Breastfeeding

The Case Against Breastfeeding

Lactivist Crusade

Meanwhile, there are some helpful resources on the internet that further explain IGT and what you can do to help yourself and your baby, even if the health care system won’t:

Kelly Mom – IGT

When Breastfeeding doesn’t work out as planned

Dr. Sears – Getting Enough Milk

Hidden Cause of Feeding Problems- IGT

Nipple Size & Breastfeeding

Not everyone can breastfeed

Delayed or lack of lactation success – Insulin & DNA

The Booby Traps

Yes you can breastfeed

Baby Centre – Underdeveloped Breasts

How to supplement if you have low milk

Domperidone

Fussy Babies – it doesn’t necessarily mean you have low milk (but sometimes it does)

Pros and Cons of Breastfeeding

10 things I wish I’d known about breastfeeding

Markers of Lactation Insufficiency

 

Another resource I’ve found helpful is the book A Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk.

This book describes numerous possible problems that can affect breastfeeding success. There are a couple that might have affected me:

  • Hormone receptor generation period – for some women there is a small window of time when the body has to be cued to produce milk (through frequent nursing), and once this window is past milk production stabilizes;
  • Delayed letdown – I thought there was no milk there when there really was, it just took a few more minutes than usual to let down. As I waited, LM grew more frustrated which made me tense which further inhibited the let down;
  • Milk “withdrawal” – in some women when the baby unlatches, milk draws back up into the breast, and it can take a minute to come back down when they latch back on. Again, the baby might get frustrated, thinking there is no milk there.

 

While I may never get LM off the bottle completely (which is ok – he could still go to med school after all 😉 and his weight will more likely be linked to his activity level and our eating habits (MD is perfectly fine at age 5 🙂 ), I think I’ve finally made peace with it. I am still breastfeeding, even if not exclusively. I know in my heart it’s not my fault even if the health care system doesn’t.

And who cares – he’s eating and growing and getting the best of both worlds. When you think about it, back in the day, if a woman had difficulty making enough milk, there would have been other women around to help – wet nurses, and cross nursing. There was sugar water, there was boiled cows milk and corn syrup. Or the child would have died. Infant mortality rates were high, and who knows why some babies “failed to thrive”.

In all my discussions with breastfeeding moms, I have run across just as many moms who had “too much” milk. They regularly developed multiple cases of mastitis in the beginning, and had to pump at all hours just to feel comfortable, because it never seemed like their babies were taking enough.

What would have happened to these women back in the day? They would have offered their breasts to nurse babies of other women who were struggling or had died in childbirth. When you think about it, we didn’t evolve as individuals. We evolved living together in caves, huts, etc., cooking and hunting together and rearing our children together. Women with good milk supplies would have passed on their genes through their female children. But the genes of women with low milk would have also been passed on, if their babes were nursed by other women.

Cross nursing doesn’t get nearly enough attention, and is generally considered socially unacceptable. Of course, there are also some legitimate medical concerns. La Leche League has a very interesting article documenting concerns and history of cross-nursing and wet nursing. See also this ABC story and this Babble blog post about one woman’s experience cross-nursing.

The closest we have is donated human milk, such as through the Human Milk Bank and Northern Star in Alberta,  available to premature babies through which is a great start. This health magazine article provides an interesting summary of the breast milk banking process.

It makes me wonder whether receiving breastmilk, full of antibodies and proteins from another mother, would reduce a baby’s chances of developing allergies, for example. I wonder if this has ever been studied? Of course, premature babies receiving milk would already be compromised . . . Anyway, it does get me thinking.

 

So what went wrong this time? In some ways, nothing, because, after all, I am breastfeeding.

This time around, I may have been a bit too quick to supplement, and maybe I am one of those women who has a very short window for generating receptors (not enough milk removal while LM was still tongue tied or maybe I let him sleep too long). Or maybe I do have IGT. Who knows if I’ll ever know.

But this is what still frustrates me. Are we doing enough to help women who want to breastfeed? Sure there’s lots of support out there to “keep trying”. But telling them to “keep doing it” or “try harder” doesn’t answer why she’s having the problem. And you need to know the root cause of a problem to fix it.

What if IGT is more prevalent that we thought? (And it’s likely to be, based on some info I’ll get to later) What if its closer to 5% rather than 1%. Well, out of approximately 8500 births in Nova Scotia last year (so approximately 8500 potentially breastfeeding moms), 5% is 425.  Four hundred twenty-five women who might not generate enough milk for their babies. 425 too many not to help as far as I’m concerned.

Even for the women who don’t have IGT, society as a whole is still not providing the support we need. There are the women who breastfeed exclusively very successfully, who due to work and/or travel obligations end up having to wean prematurely or “pump and dump”, for example.

In the words of a fellow blogger, we are set up for failure. But what if we set them up for success?

If governments, health care professionals, families and society were serious about breastfeeding:

  • Prenatal education would include all available information about both breastfeeding and formula feeding, including when formula may be medically indicated;
  • Prenatal messaging would include potential breastfeeding difficulties and what to do, along with the message that “everyone can breastfeed, not everyone can breastfeed exclusively”;
  • Prenatal education would include information sessions for families and secondary caregivers, to educate about any breastfeeding myths or outdated information and allow families to provide the support new moms need (because you can’t be arguing with your family when you’re looking after an infant);
  • New mothers who have decided to breastfeed, and who are experiencing difficulties breastfeeding, would be permitted to stay in the hospital for three to four days or until their milk comes in;
  • Newborns would be examined for tongue tie and have it treated in the delivery room;
  • New moms with breastfeeding difficulties would have their thyroid levels tested as standard procedure;
  • Public Health would work with 811 to provide 24-hour breastfeeding support hotline;
  • could provide a prescription for domperidone to pregnant woman who have struggled to breastfeed previous babies. Alternatively, to avoid long waits to see Drs. Nurses would be authorized to prescribe domperidone for women who have had difficulty breastfeeding previous children, so moms have access to it as soon as possible after delivery;
  • Pharmacies would stock fenugreek and blessed thisle and have scales available for weighing newborns;
  • Public Health Nurses, OBGYNs, Pharmacists, and GPs and other health care professionals would be required to attend breastfeeding workshops as part of their licencing and continuing education, to ensure all health care professionals are providing new mothers with consistent information;
  • A team approach would be applied for new mothers experiencing difficulty breastfeeding, involving the OBGYN, GP, Public Health and other relevant practitioners, to ensure everyone is on the same page for treatment (and the new mom isn’t constantly relaying messages between the groups);
  • OBGYNs and PHNs should be trained in recognizing IGT, and women should be screened during pregnancy;
  • The breastfeeding support team should help a woman set breastfeeding goals. Six months is a long time; goal setting needs to be broken up into smaller increments, much like weight loss or preparing to run a marathon. SMART objectives might also work here as they do in project management. While many women do breastfeed six months and beyond, when you’re struggling that length of time is overwhelming and feels like an eternity.
  • Breastfeeding physiology would be taught in high school biology and home economics classes, in an effort to both educate on and normalize breastfeeding.
  • Governments would work with the airlines and the TSA/CASA to ensure no breastfeeding mother has to “pump and dump”.

I know, it’s a tall order, especially considering the stresses the health care system is already under. And not being a health care practitioner myself, maybe I’m completely out of my tree. Either way, maybe it doesn’t have to be that hard. Maybe the breastfeeding community of practise, a few interested health care practitioners, support groups like La Leche League, and a few moms like myself can work together to turn these ideas into reality.

It’s also a tall order considering women who breastfeed without difficulty are shunned by society for doing so in public. But that’s a blog post for another day . . .

I don’t know how much longer I’ll keep breastfeeding. I keep telling myself every ounce he gets from me is golden, and is one less container of formula in the recycling. But its just as much effort to wash a bottle that’s had one or two ounces in it vs. four or five. I just don’t know how much longer I’ll keep going. But I’ll let you know.

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Update March 2016

It’s 7 ½ months and counting and yes I’m still breastfeeding. The six-month mark was rather anticlimactic – there was no medal presented or confetti thrown at the Dr.’s office at LMs six month check up. A little pat on the back or “good job” from my GP would have been nice. But I guess that’s what Facebook is for, right?

Think again. When I asked a simple question looking for ideas to get LM to stop biting, it almost started a riot. I know this is a passionate topic, but the “Mommy Wars” have got to stop.

 

I don’t know how much longer I’ll keep going. The love-hate relationship I have with breastfeeding continues, and as with anything there are good days and bad days. I definitely see light at the end of the tunnel.  I’m offering less, he’s asking less. I don’t think I’ll miss it in the end, but I am satisfied I stuck it out as long as I have. By breastfeeding at all, I am confident I provided the best possible start to life that I could for both of my babies.

The Australian Breastfeeding Association has a great article explaining the benefits no matter the length of time you are able to breastfeed.

For anyone who wanted to breastfeed and struggled, I salute you.

For anyone who didn’t want to breastfeed and struggled with being shamed or made to feel guilty, I salute you.

For anyone who was able to meet their breastfeeding goals, I salute you.

Because we are all in this together.

 

A letter to breastfeeding moms who struggled: Dear Mom Who Breastfed

Read about how one mom broke up with her breast pump.


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February

February 2016

I come to you today from my dining room table. And no I’m not writing about food, I just needed to relocate my writing space while we have some renovations going on in our home office. Renovations which will hopefully create a warmer, cozier space for me to be creative, and save some energy as well. I’ve been hungry for this space for a while.

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And that’s not the only thing I’ve been hungry for. According to one of my favourite authors, Barbara Kingsolver (or her sources at least), the word for February in Cherokee (and other Native American languages) is “hungry”.*

Not that I’m starving by any means, but my weight loss struggle continues. One week I’m down three or four pounds, only to gain one or two back the next week, then stay the same for two or three weeks before dropping another five. I’m sure there’s a physiological explanation for this, but I’m not inclined to look it up.

I’ve been trying to be really diligent and careful about what I eat, and even my husband is noticing. I’m also frustrated at the lack of healthy options this time of year. Local produce, other than root vegetables, is hard to come by this time of year. In the words of Ms. Kingsolver, the time to think about eating local is in August, not January or February. After the spring and summer we had this year, I of course had very little put away in the freezer. And the grocery store isn’t much help either. All produce is ridiculously expensive, organic or not, and the winter has been full of recalls – spinach one week, cantaloupe the next.

I’ve also decided to stop buying almonds. We had been eating almonds regularly, but was recently reminded of how fattening they can be (though good fats I know). More importantly, they require a lot of water to grow and are often imported from California. Not the most eco-friendly nut choice.

Nevertheless, I am trying not to let this all get me down and I keep plugging away. In the back of my mind I know my weight loss goals may have been unrealistic (the timeframe in which I wanted to lose the weight, not the overall weight loss) and I should be proud of how far I’ve come. In fact, at the 6.5 month mark I am back in the 180s (only a few pounds above my weight when we moved into this house nearly ten years ago), and only have twenty pounds to go. This is cause for celebration, allowing myself the occasional beer- local of course (and no, the irony of consuming beer over almonds while trying to lose the baby belly is not lost on me. And yes I’m still breastfeeding I’m being careful. Just give me a break;-) ).

Garrison Brewery makes a lovely Nut Brown which both my husband and I have been enjoying in place of a Stella or other import. I don’t usually like dark ales, but this particular brew has a milder flavor, is not as thick or bitter as some others I’ve tried and leaves almost no aftertaste. I’ve also had a chance to test their geekier flavours at Hal-Con – The Klingon War Nog and The Vulcan Ale – both of which are potent but excellent.

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I’ve been in a happier place lately too (and no not due to the beer). We’ve made it through the darkness of January and are almost through February. Longer days, milder, damper weather and the sweet songs of birds mean spring is just around the corner. While we’ve had our fair share of snow, so far it pales in comparison to the Snowmageddon of last winter I still feel traumatized by.

Whenever possible, I’ve been feeding my soul with good books. I hope to post my mat leave reading list here on the blog when nap schedules allow. Recently I read Margaret Trudeau’s book Changing my Mind; probably one of the best I’ve read this year so far. Her story is encouraging to anyone suffering from mental illness, and a good education for the rest of us. I’ve learned a lot from her, and Wil Wheaton, who I’ve recently started following on my Facebook page and twitter. From both of them I’ve been reminded that it’s ok, and “normal” to feel sad and down sometimes. That it happens to all of us, and you just can’t let it consume your whole being.

With spring on the horizon I’ve also been doing lots of spring cleaning. I’m still using “green” cleaning products as much as possible, a challenge I started back in Week 34. Lately I’ve been doing less actual cleaning and more just “purging” of stuff. We have too much stuff, stuff that other people could probably use. Closets and storage spaces are getting a thorough inspection by me. And there’s a lot to go through. I had no idea how much stuff we held on to.

It all started after LM arrived. With an extra person, even if a mini-person, our house is feeling smaller day by day. Also, everything we had held on to from MD that we now knew we weren’t going to use (mostly clothing) was given away to friends of mine with little girls. And as LM keeps growing we’re continually giving things away. A good friend of mine just had a little boy too so lots of stuff went to her, and my sister in law is due any day and she doesn’t know the gender.

Other items, baby and non baby alike, are going on Kijiji and HRMGiveaway or to the Fairview Family Resource Centre.

Anything that we don’t think can be used by anyone but may have a purpose are going to Value Village. I was encouraged to learn that they have a textiles recycling program. Horray for the three Rs!

The basement reno also has encouraged the purging process. We had a lot of rearranging to do to make room for the contractor. And I just have the time. Between feedings (including trying new solid foods) the inevitable diaper changes and household chores, on days we can’t get outside because of the weather and now that LM is finally sitting on his own and content to play with toys in a semicircle around him, I have a little extra time to sort and get rid of things.

And one of these days I’ll open what I’ve started calling our Pandora’s box. An unlabelled cardboard box that’s been sitting on the same shelf in our basement since the day we moved into this house nearly ten years ago. I have no idea what’s in it. For a long time I was afraid. Very afraid. But not curiosity is getting the better of me, and plus I just want the shelf space.

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Well, here goes . . .

Cheers!

If you don’t have a Value Village in your area, use this nifty textile recycling search tool.

*Animal Vegetable Miracle

List of CFIA recalls 

Harder to loose weight breastfeeding

Losing weight after baby #2 

 

 

 


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The Home Stretch

June/July 2015

This is likely my last blog post for some time: expecting the arrival of Number 2 in the next few weeks. Then again, who knows, maybe we will be blessed with a mellower child and I’ll be able to post a few lines here and there. At my last Dr.’s appointment she says to me “that belly is filing out nicely isn’t it”. I felt like responding with “really, I hadn’t noticed”. If I don’t have this kid soon I’ll need to go shopping again – my clothes are starting to reach their maximum stretch point! Almost muumuu time! ( I wonder if I could find one of those at Value Village . . . ).

June has been a frustrating month. I have a giant to do list, but I am feeling frustrated at the level of helplessness pregnancy imposes on me. Physically I either just can’t move my body the way I need to do what needs doing around the house, or I just don’t have the energy level. My amazing husband is doing all that he can, but we’re going to have to find some help elsewhere. I’m tempted to research some green house cleaners in the city, but as with many of my projects it ends up ballooning into something I don’t have the time or energy to handle. Hoping the neighbours kids come through and can help with the yard work at least.

Physical limitations aside, June was also been a very busy month for us:

  • 100 in 1 day went off without a hitch (except for the rain). We exceeded our goal of 100 interventions, and collected over 60kg of food. There were lots of great environmentally-oriented projects too, such as The Wave of Waste.
  • Went to physiotherapy to treat my hip/foot problems and it was successful. Tried to do some gardening but ended up twisting my knee (which heeled after a week or two, but I don’t want to tempt fate a second time). Trying to do battle with the Japanese Knotweed which returns with a vengeance every year (see Week 20 and here for more information on this awful, awful invasive plant).
  • My Dad had to have surgery, which while he knew he would have to have some day and was not life-threatening, the health care system made it seem like it was nothing more than a tooth extraction, when in reality the recovery period has been a lot more uncomfortable and long than expected.
  • I taught a three day course at work, which I love doing and am thankful I was able to get through without having to boil water.
  • And completed my French oral exam – which at the time I thought I hadn’t done well at all (I had studied, but I hadn’t been in a French class since February, and with everything else going on I just couldn’t get into the right head space). I am thankful that I achieved the mark I need to keep my competitive edge in the workplace.
  • And with all of this going on, our daughter is experiencing a bit of regression toilet-training-wise, wetting herself at nap time. So at her request back to pull ups for a little while 😦

Needless to say, while blogging has been on my mind and very much something I’ve been looking forward to wrapping up before Number 2’s arrival, it hasn’t exactly made the To Do list each weekend.

Now that June is past, I’ve pretty much got things wrapped up at work (only three days left!), and the baby’s room is ready to go, I’ve been trying to maximize mommy-daughter time. Last week we spent the morning at the farmer’s market (which we also hadn’t done in several months) and yesterday we went to the beach.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to not get upset with myself for all of the driving and take-out packaging that seems to have re-entered my lifestyle – I keep telling myself it’s only temporary.

What “green things” have I been doing (when I have the mental, emotional and physical energy to even think about it):

  • Buy local – it is growing season – finally! – and speaking of Farmer’s Markets, I found a lovely little fruit and veggie stall in our neighbourhood. All they need is a fish truck, an artist and a few musicians and they’d be a full fledged market! Which connects nicely with one of my 100 in 1 day projects related to community building (read about it here);
  • Reuse baby gear – we’d kept just about everything, so it all came out of the closet and got cleaned up;
  • Purchase used baby gear instead of new – for things that we needed to replace or add to the collection. It is yard sale season after all so I was able to find a couple of things, like an infant seat (for the house, not a car seat). When I was pregnant with my daughter I didn’t think we needed all of the “extra” stuff that went with a baby (like swings, infant seats, breast-feeding pillows, exersaucers etc) and that it was materialistic – but learned very quickly that it wasn’t a capitalist ploy at all but a matter of survival, as I’m sure anyone reading this who’s a parent can appreciate. We did purchase a new stroller, because they take such a beating (and we got a good deal)!
  • Speaking of reused baby gear – my husband and I finally reached a compromise on the diaper front. We spoke with some apartment-dwelling friends who also used cloth diapers both children and learned of some tricks that will hopefully make cloth diapering less work than before. So the cloth diapers we used for our daughter are freshened up and ready to go. I’ve also agreed to use disposable – if we can use “environmentally-friendly” brands.

There are basically three brands available at our local grocery store:

PC Green – materials are 50% recycled and/or sourced from sustainable sources; fragrance, latex and petroleum free (including no bleaching). Stage 1 (8-14 lbs) $15.99 per pkg of 66 (~24 cents ea.). The President’s Choice company offers a number of other “green” products, and has a number of other sustainable programs on the go, such as Sustainable Seafood. Nevertheless, “greenwashing” is always in the back of my mind (see Week xx).

Seventh Generation– Another company offering a variety of green products. Diapers are fragrance free and unbleached. However I have read and heard from reputable sources that they dye their diapers the light-brownish colour to make them appear more natural. This marketing technique, if true, kind of defeats the purpose if you ask me. Stage 1 $14.99 per pkg of 40 (~37 cents ea.)

Naty– Made by a Swedish company that offers a number of other eco-friendly products. Made from biodegradable materials, unbleached, and latex and fragrance free. Stage 2 (6-13 lbs) $ 12.99 per pkg of 34 (~38 cents ea.). Not sure if they’re made in Sweden and shipped over.

So it looks like the PC Green might be the best option, and it is also the option that Nurtured once recommended to me.

Depending on what you have access to, here are some other options that might work. Cloth are still thought to be the best option, especially when reused for a second child – all of the water and electricity usage that goes into making and cleaning them is apparently still less than what goes into repeatedly making disposables. For some other options, read here and here.

Once the baby powder settles we’ll experiment and see what works best for us in our “new normal”.

  • I’ve also been collecting links related various environmental issues that I have blogged about. I’ll share a few on the blog and via Twitter. One is “plastic free July”. A good challenge for some day, but not for me today.

Until next time, have a great summer! (And yes, I will post baby news!).


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Waist-not

May 2015

So I’ve been worried that I might have gestational diabetes. As with my previous pregnancy, being pregnant has completely changed my relationship with food. Cravings, aversions, seemingly needing to eat higher calorie foods to avoid the nausea that is always lurking just under the surface of my pyloric sphincter. It didn’t help that we had the winter of our discontent and I couldn’t be as active as I was before, or the foot injury early on (an injury that came back to haunt me from Week 31), or the weekly lemon Sanpelligrino with 33 grams of sugar each! This time I’ve put on a lot more weight at a faster rate than before, and my doctor is monitoring it. I recently had the glucose tolerance test done, and it all came back normal, as is my blood pressure. A lot of the extra weight is likely fluid retention in my legs and feet, which seems to improve as I increase my activity level and keep them elevated when I’m not on them.IMG_0249

I was pleased I was able to be active for our recent adventure to Montreal. Yes, we took a “baby-moon” (1 ½ hour flight with carbon emissions and all), leaving our daughter with her grandparents for a week while we took a pre-baby # 2 escape. While the weather was dampish for the most part, it is a beautiful city with lots of history, friendly people, and man do they know their food! I don’t think we had a bad meal the entire time we were there.

I felt incredibly guilty after one particularly good meal that I just couldn’t finish, leaving behind what for some in developing nations would equate to a week’s worth of food. As I mentioned above, my relationship with food as totally changed during pregnancy, and I find I end up wasting a lot more than I normally do. Often this is because I’ll have a craving for something and want to eat it every day for several days, so I’ll buy a batch of whatever it is in bulk, then suddenly I can’t look at it any more without feeling nauseous. And often it is something that no one else in the house wants to eat either. So we end up throwing it out 😦 I hate food waste knowing that so many people go without. My goal for the remainder of the pregnancy is to try to keep food portions in perspective and not waste as much food.

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I’ve been continuing to drop off yoghurt containers at Feeding Others of Dartmouth, so they can send leftovers home with their clients, thereby reducing their food waste (see Week 13). This is also why my intervention for 100 in 1 day – Feed 100 Families – is so important to me. I’ve been putting a lot of effort into it this year, which is why I’ve had less time for blogging. The blog is also going to take a back seat to other more important matters very soon.

Speaking of waste, we bought metro day passes one of our days in Montreal. Instead of throwing mine away at the end of the day, I passed it on to a homeless person who was hanging out in a bus shelter near our hotel. Hopefully he was able to make some use of it.

  • Read more about food waste in North America here.
  • And one woman’s story of how she strives to live a waste-free life here.


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Week # 43 – Give Piece a Chance

I feel for the families of the soldiers that were slain so senselessly, and my heart breaks especially for the children. The events of this week left me rattled enough that it has taken me some time to even think about writing a blog post for this week. What I’m doing seems so trivial compared with world events, that my impetus to keep going is waning.

Whenever acts of terrorism occur, I am often reminded of a post-September 11th lecture by our environmental ecology prof on the environmental impacts of warfare, which makes me even more depressed. Although we might destroy ourselves one day the planet will keep going. Which makes me wonder, if it’s really the planet I care about, why am I doing this “year of green”? Without our interventions screwing it up, the planet would heal itself, eventually. Maybe my motivations are anthropocentric after all?

Of course they are. I want to be healthy to see my daughter grow up healthy, and leave something for her and her children. When the world gets crazy, it’s my daughter that keeps me going. And while I am still getting used to the idea that I can’t protect her from everything, evolution has programmed me to try.

As with everything else in life, we can’t let our fears and anxiety of what a select group of crazies might do interrupt our daily activities, for then they have won.

So I move on to this week’s challenge. In continuing with this week’s theme of waste reduction, I thought I would finally write up a little research I did last winter when I first started this blog.

One of our favourite foods is pizza, and every Thursday night in our house is pizza night. A little celebration that the week is almost over, and that at least one meal is taken care of. Every week we try a different pizza, or enjoy one of our favourites (Hawaiian).

Last winter I started experimenting with different kinds of pizza crust and toppings, both for this blog and as a little activity to do with my daughter (she loves to cook and to be my helper). We usually buy the pre-prepared frozen pizzas, and I wondered if there was another way to make them that was both fast and cost effective and also reduced packaging.

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The pre-prepared frozen pizzas cost between $5-7 and take 15-25 minutes to cook. They come in a cardboard box, wrapped in plastic shrink wrap and a cardboard base.While we had been putting the cardboard bits in the compost, I recently learned that we probably shouldn’t be doing that because of the waxy layer on most frozen food boxes. We also put the plastic in recycling, which is also questionable because it isn’t really a “bag”. The cardboard base is corrugated so recycling should be ok. (See HRM What goes Where) This doesn’t even include the carbon emissions from shipping the pizzas in refrigerated trucks, or the source of the toppings. So overall probably not the best option.

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Pre-baked crusts, cost around $3, with about 10-15 mins of prep time (depending on how fancy your toppings are) and about 20 mins of cook time. The benefits of this option are that the crusts are shelf-stable, and allow you to select local toppings like mushrooms. There is also less packaging – plastic shrink wrap (which may be able to be recycled with plastic bags?) and a thin piece of cardboard which could be shredded with recycled paper. The downside is the extra prep time. Also, some of them came with a plastic packet of tomato sauce- the used packet would have to go in the garbage. (I also wonder what they do to the tomato sauce to make it shelf-stable and not have to be refrigerated, but I’m not sure I really want to know). I also thought this option was the tastiest, and two crusts in the package means we’re actually getting more bang for our buck (and less packaging per pizza overall).

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Pillsbury-style crusts also cost around $3, and also have about 15 mins of prep time and 20-25 mins of cook time. (Unrolling the dough and because the dough is a bit thicker adds to the prep/cook time.) But they also have the advantage of choosing your own toppings. The packaging consists of metal ends (which I have been recycling) and the cardboard tube. The paper from the outside of the tube I put in the compost, which I think is fine. But the inside of the cardboard is covered in a foil layer, which must go in the garbage. Also, there is the refrigeration-factor to consider. But I also thought this option was one of the tastiest, and was easier for my daughter to help spread the crust and add toppings.

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Finally, there are the powdered dough mixes that you just add water to. This option has the least packaging, is shelf stable, allows you to pick your own toppings, and costs the least (around $1-2). But the prep time and cook time added an extra 20 mins to the whole production. This option is fine if you have lots of time, but not for our usual

Thursday night. The dough is also harder to work with, so the crust was not consistent from one end of the pizza to the other, so the fussier members of the family didn’t like this option as well either.

One other obvious option isn’t presented here – and that is making the dough from scratch, with locally sourced flower, eggs etc. This option should reduce packaging and carbon emissions (though I haven’t done the full life-cycle analysis), but would significantly increase prep time and cook time. When I envisioned myself as a Mom, this is what I envisioned myself doing. Unfortunately, being mom who works outside the home makes this option unpractical.

Of course, this leads to the argument about whether women’s returning to the workforce has lead to a throw-away society – but I’m not going to go there. Not today, anyway.

Ok, so I can’t leave it at that without getting myself in trouble. For the record, I am 100% supportive of women being in the workforce, but I also believe someone should be home to make dinners from scratch and hang laundry on a clothesline. And here I said I wasn’t going to go there . . . so for now I’ll leave it at that.


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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.