Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Good, bad, irredeemable

My favourite movie is "Crash." I never get tired of watching it, which is fortunate since we own it. The main theme of the movie is that none of us can be fully defined by our best or worst moments, and that redemption exists.

I had one of those worst moments today, as well as one of those best. The worst moment came first, when we were running late for school, Riley pooped on my shirt and arm, and Matthew lied to me. Simultaneously. I threw Matthew's pants at him and yelled, and I *may* have even called him a name. Bad parenting moment. I had to apologize, pretty much right away, and endure about 5 minutes of Matthew scuttling to get out of my way because he was afraid I was still mad.

My good moment came later, after school was finished and all the boys and the dog and myself were back home. Matthew was beside himself upset about a locked door--sobbing, hysterical, moaning, throwing toys at anyone who tried to help him out. Instead of getting sucked into the emotional vortex (a weakness of mine), or ignoring him (a good coping strategy when tempted by vortices), I drew him into the activity I was doing. In the midst of his wailing and moaning I asked him politely to wash his hands so he could help me set the table. He likes helping me set the table, so he moped upstairs, all the while moaning and sobbing, washed his hands, and came back to hep me. He cried the whole time, but he helped. I didn't comment on the crying, and by the end of helping me set the table, he had stopped and was cheerfully chatting. No vortex, no ignoring, no commenting, just the old fashioned distraction technique executed in a manner that helped him feel important and integral to me and in our family. Good parenting moment. Supper was awesome and cheerful as a result.

Good days and bad days happen to everyone, I guess. It's just so freaking hard for me to remember that in the midst of a particularly bad moment, because I feel like everyone else has it together and is always patient and kind and ALWAYS ON TIME. Being late for things is an anxiety trigger for me. As is being pooped on. The germ factor, you know.

Riley's latest trick was executed last Saturday while I was at work, and I saw it for the first time on Sunday at church. He can now walk down the stairs unassisted, without holding on to anything. Holy jeepers are we in for it now. He has also discovered the light switch, and I can entertain him for a good ten to fifteen minutes just by placing him on a stool under the light switch. On, off, on, off, onoffonoffonoffonoffonoffonoffonoff, for fifteen minutes. Then he gets off the stool and turns it upside down and gets in and plays with IT for another five to ten minutes, so I'm buying myself some serious minutes here! Enough time to fold laundry! Or blog instead of folding laundry!!
[my light is going onoffonoffonoffonoffonoffonoff RIGHT NOW!]

Here's to those good, bad, and ugly moments....all of which are redeemable....all of which are covered by God's love. Thank goodness they are.

Monday, September 28, 2009


This morning I went for a long walk with my friend Kim and her 2 year old daughter. I brought along Riley, the Bob, and Simon, and we walked for over two hours in the warm sunshine at the river's edge. It was gorgeous. Yesterday the water park was on, though we didn't play in it. Just drove past. Then, this afternoon some clouds rolled in, and by boot camp this evening it was pouring rain and FREEZING! I think fall is officially here. I'm so grateful we had such a sunny September, it was like an extension on summer. So tonight I put some candles on the windowsill in our bedroom and lit them. They look so cozy next to the dark window. It makes them more cozy knowing it is cold and rainy outside. I hear a forecast of hail tonight! What a sudden turn over.

I love autumn, but I love spring better. I hate the march towards winter that fall represents.

I have to say, I love my kids. They are all three sparkly and smart and fun and energetic and hilarious. I'm so glad I have them in my life, and I feel very very satisfied with my three. Which doesn't rule out having more in the future, but just notes that I am happy and fulfilled with what I have.

Remember on Thursday night when I posted that I had to work the next morning but I was up at midnight canning applesauce? So I got 4 hours of sleep that night, but figured I would make up for it the next night. We had a work crossover that next night so I picked the kids up at Brent's parents' place and by the time I got everyone settled in bed after work, I only got 7 hours of sleep. I figured the next night I could make up for it for sure. Well, the next night rolled around and Riley decided to wake up at 1:30 and roll around the bed for a few hours, climbing on us and talking and kicking us in the face and biting me every time I tried to breastfeed him. Rock on. Eventually I left the room and climbed in the spare bunk bed in the playroom. I could hear Riley slapping his palms against our bedroom door from the inside, and crying to follow me. Brent snuggled him in his arms and he fell asleep within a minute and a half. So that night I got about 5 or 6 hours of sleep. Holy keerap, this is looking a lot like last fall when I never slept more than 4 or 5 hours per night and about once a week stayed up all night long because I had insomnia from my anxiety disorder. Only back then I at least had high levels of adrenaline in my system all the time, so it wasn't hard to get through the day on very little sleep. Now I am more 'normal' in my sleep habits and daytime adrenaline levels so a sleep shortage really slams me. So. Last night, for sure, right? Riley didn't go to sleep until midnight. Holy jeepers.
My theory is that he is stressed about me working and being gone 2 days in a row every week, and is experiencing sleep disturbances as a result. [yes, it's always all my fault]. Barring that, it could be a normal aberration. Maybe I need to fiddle with his naps or something. Hm.

But I am TIRED. Dudes, so TIRED! I have yet to recover from my 17 hour day on Saturday (15 hrs work time, 2 hours travel time), which overtime I willingly agreed to because it was an extra $150 for me to stay for only 3 extra hours (!!), but which of course made me quite tired.

I got my schedule for October, and I work an average of ONE day a week, and have the first two weeks off. Hooray!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Word of Advice

Today I saw an unrestrained passenger in a car who had been partially ejected through the sun roof. A witness reported seeing her head break through the glass and her head hit the edge of the metal window frame. She was effectively scalped, and there was a dent in the metal sunroof frame from her skull. She is ten years old.

I know you all do, all the time, but BUCKLE UP YOUR KIDS.
Fortunately, she survived and the doctor was able to sew her scalp back to her head, but I have to tell you, she should not be alive based on the damage done to that car by her head.

I got to work and immediately at 6:00 a.m. the pager went off: "BEEPBEEPBEEPBEEP chhhhhhhhhhhhhh [radio static] 06 Fox, code 3 call; 06 Fox, code 3." Cardiac arrest, FIRST thing in the morning, he-llo, wake UP people! What a way to start the day, with a dead guy.

Then a hypertensive emergency [as in, a blood pressure of freaking 260/120--dude should be DEAD, but isn't], five SECONDS after clearing from dead guy.

And an 8 month old baby with pneumonia and acute respiratory distress.

And chest pain.
And short of breath.
And car crash.
And a very broken arm.

I worked 15 hours today with very few breaks, and drove almost 2 hours to and from work.
Tired. So, so tired.

night all

Friday, September 25, 2009

Broken Pump

Another busy day at work. I've actually composed a song about the town I work in, and I would like to share it with you;

Oh Chilliwack, Oh Chilliwack, Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
Every day I drive to work in the early morn,
and when I pass Number 3 Road I hit
a wall, a wall, a wall of POOP SMELL
Ohhhhhhhhhhh, oh, oh, oh, pooooooooooop smell!

Music industry, STEP ASIDE. My name is talent.
So I'm working my ass off in a city that smells like poop, and I only had a very few minutes to pump milk, and my PUMP IS BROKEN. Aughhhhhhhhhhh.....
The milk I pump at work goes to both Matthew and Riley. My boobs need to remember to make milk always, even when I'm at work. But you know what? I'm okay. I got about an ounce out of my broken pump after 15 minutes of fiddling, and I'll feed Riley and pump some more with my other pump (it's nice to be the daughter of a lactation consultant; copious pumps, some of them for free!) when I get home. Isn't that SO UNLIKE ME? I'm the ANXIOUS WOMAN who is always STRESSED OUT ABOUT MILK SUPPLY, and here I am rolling with life's hiccups. Pumpless at work. You know what? It's one day, and I'll be home in a few hours, where Riley will be more than happy to unload me.

Look at me go.

I ordered three books from Amazon the other day (one really must spend enough to get free shipping, right?). Childbirth Without Fear by Grantly Dick-Read, Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin, and It Sucked and Then I Cried: How I Had a Baby, a Breakdown, and a Much Needed Margarita by Heather B Armstrong. Amazon has sent me an email to let me know that my order has been shipped! Woohoo! I love books, I love books, I LOVE BOOKS! This is like Christmas Day for me, knowing a parcel with BIRTH BOOKS and a POSTPARTUM MOOD DISORDER BOOK is coming to my door very soon! Wow, am I a nerd or what?
Did I tell you I started the application process for UBC's School of Midwifery? I'm applying for next fall. I'm not sure at ALL that I will get in the first year I apply, but I'm giving it a shot. Wish me good luck! I also have a doula client for October and I'm planning on signing up for the breastfeeding counsellor's course at Douglas College in January.

Feels good, people. I'm planning my exit from the world of paramedicine.....

Suicide by Cop

So last night I made applesauce. I took a little less than 40 lbs of apples (because we had eaten some of the apples while they waited for me to sauce them), cored, peeled, cooked, mashed, and canned them, and it only took me 9 1/2 hours. Jeepers. Amongst the saucing I did cook dinner, eat, put my kids to bed, and entertain a friend for an hour, so I suppose the process could have been shorter. Oh, for the days when sisters and mothers and aunts and grandmas would convene together in a kitchen and SAUCE APPLES! Or make jam, or can tomatoes, or what have you. Canning alone is tough, especially when people also need to be fed and the canning must be orchestrated around daily life, and all the work must be done by one person. Sometimes living in our nuclear family pods really sucks.

The applesauce is delicious, though. I used my grandma Kadie's canner, which made me think of her and smile.

Then I went to bed and got up four hours later to go to work. Four hours used to be normal for me before work, back when I was fraught with anxiety surrounding work and couldn't sleep. This time it was just the apples that kept me up. [p.s. 40 lbs of apples and 9 hours of work=10 quart jars of applesauce. So much work. So little yeild!] I got to work by the grace of God and a mug of tea, since I kept trying to fall asleep at the wheel, lulled by car vibration and horrific radio music, which is always more horrific at 5 a.m., take my word for it. I've been listening to early early morning radio for YEARS. And it SUCKS.
Our first call is to the RCMP station, where a man has walked into the parking lot and up to a cop and asked, "What would I have to do to get you to shoot me?" Fortunately instead of telling him, the cop called us. We call this suicide by cop. Well, I guess not really because he didn't actually succeed, so this would maybe be attempted suicide by cop? But not really because what he actually wanted was help, which he got, and not death.
I've heard of suicide by ambulance before, also. It involves opening the door of a moving ambulance and exiting, and yes, it has been done before [not in front of me].

Sometimes life boggles my mind. On the one hand, there is applesauce. On the other, people are dying of heartache. And my cell phone died in the wash, and still seems important to me, despite all the heartache in the world. Isn't that weird?

I also wanted to mention that I am underimpressed with this season's rendition of So You Think You Can Dance Canada. Hootchie grinding on a stage to music is porn, not dance. Disappointing.
But Riley and I are still famous, so there's that.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Look out Angelina Jolie

Riley and I are famous! Check us out here!

I love her philosophy, which I have to quote for you;

I believe:
...birth is a sacred right of passage for the mother and baby that should be respected and honored at all times. The way women give birth and how they are cared for during this important time has a profound and long lasting impact on the way they perceive themselves as mothers, women and members of society.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Some questions, some answers

Some good questions regarding me and my life and my crazy work sprung out of the last post, so I thought I'd answer for everyone to see. Sometimes I answer in the comments section, and sometimes I answer out here.

So, first off, Brent works 48 hours every 8 days. Two 12 hour days, two 12 hour nights, and four days off. In August and September, I worked 24 hours every 8 days, generally two day shifts in a row. My hope for October is to work 12 hours every 8 days, though it may work out to be a little more often.

Here is me and WHY I work:
Because I like the work that I do
Because I find the intellectual challenge involved in my work to be an easy and interesting way of meeting my intellectual needs (which we all have and find various ways of fililng)
Because I like the small breaks from family and domestic life
Because I find I appreciate and cope better with family and domestic life if I work (part time: full time is way too overwhelming for me, especially when I have kids)
Because I live in a country that has a good maternity leave
Because I work in a job that is flexible and works around my schedule, and in which I can work part time
I find I can manage my mental illness better when my mommying is compartmentalized, or book ended, or in segments, rather than neverending cycles of sameness and grunt work.

Here is what I wrestle with in regards to me working:
How many hours is a good balance at any given time, based on the size and needs of my family
The risks involved in my job, either to me or to my family if I were to catch or carry an illness home from work
SHOULD I work; some people seem to think it unethical for a mom to work outside the home--are they right? Are they wrong? Is a middle ground possible?
Saying goodbye to my kids, especially when they are still quite little and cry when I leave
The increased burden on Brent when I work, because he works full time and then has fewer days off when I work, plus the household runs less smoothly when we are both working; groceries don't get bought, laundry doesn't get done, and school notices go missing...Not because he can't manage, but because it's tough to do that type of neverending, cyclical work efficiently when you don't do it regularly, and when one person isn't in charge of it.

Here is how I feel about money:
I don't want to HAVE to work, financially. Finances are about choice. If I choose to have a house and two cars and I HAVE to work for us to afford it, the price of having a house and two cars is too high to me. Kids don't have to be as expensive as people think they do, and I would rather have a townhouse and be around for more hours, than have a big house and NEED to work more hours than I am comfortable with.
I work because it fulfills an intellectual need; which is fortunate, because it took 4 years in my career before I made ANY money. As in, the first four years I made approximately $6,000 dollars a year. Yikes.
However, more recently I've been finding it is more important to me that I contribute financially to our family in a significant way. Not huge, but more significant than $6,000. If I don't, my self esteem suffers.

I used to feel more guilt about working and being a mom, but then I read a book called Feministing (I have a link on my sidebar to this girl's blog, feministing.com--fairly liberal feminism, but engaging and reasonable nevertheless, and a fine balance to the conservative rhetoric I often find myself surrounded by) where the author points out that the debate over whether to work or not to work is a luxury of the upper and middle classes. For centuries women have been doing smut jobs for smut pay to support their families out of necessity. Are they any 'less' women, or good mothers, because they work? No. A need exists, and they fill it as best they can. That perspective alleviated a ton of guilt for me, because it made me feel that the debate itself; to work or not to work, is arrogant. It presumes certain economic conditions that are not a reality for most of the women in the world, and which we are perhaps not even designed for, you know? Instead of debating ignorantly in our affluence, perhaps we can focus our energies on making working conditions BETTER and more egalitarian for working women, which in turn benefits their families and society as a whole. [mini rant]
So i don't feel guilty anymore, but I am quite careful to balance work and family based on how well I function and how well my family functions when i work a certain amount of hours. I try and strike the perfect balance FOR ME, and presume nothing about the perfect balance for other women.

Anyways, that is some answers to some questions!
I have to disclaim that I fully support and endorse stay at home moms, and work from home moms, and homeschool moms, and work out of home moms. So many of us do parenting thoughtfully and well, whether we work outside the home or not, and I think it's wonderful.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Okay, Friday evening the overtime ban took effect at work, and I worked Saturday during the day. We were down about 30% provincewide, which means that non-emergency calls waited up to 2 hours for an ambulance, but most emergency calls did not wait long. The other 70% of the provinces ambulances were WORKING OUR ASSES OFF!!!!! Wow, was it ever crazy. Not only were we down 30%, but it was an insane day with 3 rollover car crashes, a car submerged in a river, an airplane crash in Mission, a fresh cardiac arrest (meaning the person was alive and talking one minute and died while on the phone with 9-1-1, so we know if we get there quickly enough there is a very good chance of resuscitation. Which he was. Resuscitated. Though not by me). Rarely does the shit hit the fan so thoroughly as it did on Saturday. It's Murphy's Law.
Ambulances were in the Fraser Valley from Boston Bar and Lytton, and there were ambulances from Whistler and Squamish doing calls in Vancouver. It was wild. The Supreme Court of BC held an emergency sitting on a Saturday to hear from both sides of our dispute in a bid to decide whether or not to legislate us back to working overtime. I'd say we got the government's attention, all right, which was mainly the point.
I haven't heard if we have been legislated, nor the union's response. I'm sure I'll hear soon.

Sunday was Matthew's 5th birthday! I have some awesome photos but can't locate my camera cord, but when I do I will do a post devoted to his fifth birthday. What a sweetie!

An honest review of this past 6 weeks of me being back at work has revealed that it's not really working that well for us. Both Brent and I have felt that we didn't have any rest time in the past month and a half, because one of us always seems to be working or recovering or gearing up to go back to work, and it just is too crazy. I miss my kids more than I have ever before, I miss Brent, and I have NO DOWNTIME. The money is good, but it's not worth it to me if I don't want to be at work while I'm there. I have to enjoy what I'm doing for it to be worth it, unless I'm working more often for a short period of time, like when Brent was at RCMP depot. So, too crazy. If we still had daycare as an option it might work better, because we could both be at work at the same time, but as it stands now we only have family to ask for a favor every once in awhile. No one in our family minds looking after our kids, but they all work so we don't have unlimited access to that family connection.
So I think what we'll do is scale back the amount of work I'm doing to one day a week instead of two, and hopefully that will be a more realistic scenario. If Brent works an overtime shift here and there, it will more than make up for me working less. I just hate to do that to him, you know? And I hate to have HIM work to save up for MY midwifery school (for some reason that irks me), but it is more efficient. If he works one overtime shift it equals two and a half of my shifts. That's quite a difference!

Besides, there is no point in having more money in the bank if you have no friggin time to go to the grocery store and purchase the groceries that the money is meant to buy!!!!!!
I've requested fewer shifts for October, so we will see how the revised plan goes. I'm so glad my work is so flexible, and I'm not tied in or committed to two shifts a week.

xo, all

Saturday, September 19, 2009

howdy II

Nothing new or fascinating to report. Fortunately, I'm not working transfer car today. Woot, woot! My dog has a serious rain phobia. Bow wow. Awesome that we live in a rain forest and my dog is afraid of the rain! He is doing better these days; only poops outside mostly, and holds his pee all night (hooray for the crate, dudes! LOVE that thing). He is filling out and his hip bones are not so prominent anymore. He eats a lot. He walks a lot. His turds are small, but they STINK like big turds.
My baby nursed nonstop from 11pm to 4am, so I am pretty tired. On the upside, it means I went to work with empty breasts, which means I can wait longer before I have to find myself a hot bathroom to pump in :D BIG bonus. And today I'm on emerg car so I can use the station bathroom. Cleaner and more familiar but no less hot and stuffy.
This a.m. we went to a call so far in the middle of nowhere that it was OFF OUR MAP. Fortunately, my partner has an iphone so he googled the address on google earth and voila, a map! No, we don't have GPS navigation systems on car. Yes, this is stupid. Anyways, this was a typical IR call. Most reservations don't have proper house numbering, or half the houses don't display their numbers. Roads are unmarked and don't follow a grid system, and houses are hodgepodged, hiding behind other houses, bushes, trees, barns, and etc. Well managed reservations rarely call us, but poorly managed or poverty stricken ones call us LOTS. This is so normal that it doesn't register for us anymore, and we know we are in the right neigbourhood intuitively because it looks like the above description. Our house this morning had its house number displayed, in jiffy marker on the front door. "I'm afraid I'm going to die from the flu. I heard people are dying from the H1N1 flu." Well I can tell you that you're not dying today, Ms. And don't mind that it took us an hour to get here; you live in a very unmarked, rural community. Oh yes, and we come from 2 cities over because there are no staff in the ambulance station in the city closest to you (short staffed because of job action, not because of aforementioned in my previous post staffing shortages province wide PER SE. Indirectly, yes. Directly, no). Dehydrated. Off we go to the hospital!

At book club the other night the girls were asking for weird stories. I don't know why but my book club loves to hear my work stories, and my favourite gross-them-out story is the crochet hook in the penis story, which they ask for repeatedly. Inevitably, someone says "But really, that is sad. How sad that someone got themesleves into that situation, you know? I mean, how aweful must he have felt."
STOP. RIGHT. THERE. I've said it before, I'll say it again:
Sad: babies with flesh eating disease. Toddlers dead in ponds. Innocent people of any age hit by drunk drivers or stoned drivers. 30 year olds with strokes.
Not sad: anything you bring on yourSELF, including crochet hooks lost in the urethra. What is it, if it is not sad?? F**ING FUNNY!

Heartless, I know. Too many years mopping up messes.
Yes, I have empathy and compassion in spades, and even for people who bring things on themselves I have a soft side and a desire to protect their dignity. But sad? No. FUNNY! HAHA!

I took a course on the H1N1 flu the day before yesterday. It was informative and clarifying, and a good source of information. But it is uniquely interesting to be at a course for H1N1 and how to navigate pre hospital care and the flu, and have an anxiety disorder that is triggered by germs. He. llo. I managed. Interesting though, to note that as per usual those recommended to get the flu vaccine are the following: children under 2, the elderly, health care workers, and those with suppressed or compromised immune systems, but the H1N1 flu actually MOSTLY kills healthy individuals aged 18 to 35. It doesn't kill most people who get infected in that age range, but most of the people who do die of this strain of the flu are healthy and aged 18 to 35. Pregnant women are especially at risk, presumably because they are often in that age range and have slightly depressed immune systems to prevent rejection of the fetus as a foreign body. Maybe we should push for the flu shot in the age range of 18-35, instead of simply the very young, old, or sick. Anyways, most people with the flu recover well. A small percentage get really sick. A small percentage of the really sick die. So, to worry or not to worry? A little of both, I reckon.

To immunize or not to immunize? That I cannot answer. I get the flu shot, but I work with the sickest people and I mostly get it to protect THEM. If I get the flu and spread it to them, I'm not much good as an avenue towards better health or quality of life, now am I?

The guys I work with are hilarious. One just told a true story about a farmyard of passed out DRUNK CHICKENS who had gotten into the fermented silage, were mistaken for dead and had their feathers plucked. Holy crap. Embelleshed? Probably. Funny? Yup.

I know I'm boring these days, as far as blogging goes. Sorry guys.

I've been wanting to post about the SOGCs reversal of cesarean section recommendation for all breech births in Canada for months. Ayden was a breech cesarean, which is why this is close to my heart, and why I want to post about it. But I keep shying away from it. I'll get to it. Soon, I hope. Stay tuned! And play safe. And if your house numbers fall off your house, you can buy new ones at Home Depot (no jiffy markers, please).

Friday, September 18, 2009


Okay, my blog post titles are getting pretty bad. Howdy? What am I, a waitress at Montana's or something? A rancher? Jeepers. I'll tell you what I'm NOT: a smart person--I JUST DISCOVERED that i washed my cell phone! It was in the pocket of my shorts and i WASHED THEM! I heard something banging around in the washer but was too busy to investigate until the cycle was over, and now I have me a very soggy, very dead phone.
Matthew has been assessed by the school speech pathologist and deemed eligible for free speech therapy through the school. VERY COOL, since our [very wonderful] private speech pathologist costs us $100 for one session. Brent's benefits cover $500 per year. We go twice a month, so that covers two and a half months of the year. Yikes! The school pathologist is free. FREE! Yahoo! Great news, people!
Matthew also LOVES KINDERGARTEN! And turns five on Sunday [we are having a pirate themed birthday party. Yes, this was Ayden's theme, yes, Ayden is Matthew's hero]. Unbelievable.

Ayden has his first soccer game tomorrow morning. He is in a league this year, which is pretty fun, and totally cute. He's a Timbit, in an orange and black uniform, and his team's name is Crush! Super cool.

Riley surprised me the other day by looking uncannily like his great grandmother for a few seconds. It wasn't just the dark eyes and long lashes and dimples, but the expression on his face and the angle of his head, but it creeped me out how totally a likeness he looked in that moment. And since then I've seen it more often.
It's fortunate he's so pretty.

Brent is working an overtime night shift. We pass the relay baton/kid duty these days. It's getting ridiculous.

I worked transfer car again today. Shoot me. Please. Just put me out of my misery. I'm trying REALLY HARD to have a good attitude about transfer car these days, and I am managing to have an okay time of it when I'm out there, making the best of things and really only complaining a tiny bit in order to make you laugh, about pumping milk in tiny, hot bathrooms in random hospitals and hiding it from everyone [today was no exception, and I had to dodge a direct question about what I needed to do with my little black bag on my own for ten minutes...]
I'm trying. And it is working, because I am having minimal to no anxiety, and I'm having good days at work, and I'm able to sleep SO WELL!
I had book club again last night, after all summer with no meetings! I LOVE MY BOOK CLUB!!!!!! Smart, diverse, interesting women who get together once a month to discuss BOOKS. What could be better? Seriously.
Tonight at 6 pm marked the beginning of increased job action for the BC Ambulance Paramedics. The union has declared an overtime ban and secondary restriction ['working secondary' means a part time paramedic working at a station that is not their designated one: the only way remote station paramedics make a paycheque is by working secondary at busier stations, but during the ban they are not allowed]. This will result in ambulance shortages all over the province. All over. If you need an ambulance in the coming weeks, consider catching a ride to the hospital because there will be waits. Of six ambulances in Chilliwack tonight, only two were staffed because everyone else was either overtime or secondary and had to go home. The people who answer the phone when you call 9-1-1 are paramedics and are on strike also, so there are a shortage of them too, because they work massive amounts of overtime to fill all the empty positions and/or holiday relief. The purpose of this [illegal] job action is twofold, as I understand it. First, to get some attention. We have public support for the most part, but the government does NOT CARE that we are not even at the table discussing the remotest possibility of how to resolve our differences and come up with a contract we both are interested in signing. Even the NDP opposition party has made absolutely no mention of us in the legislative assembly, and we are on no MLAs top agenda. There is so much that is wrong with the ambulance service in BC it is hard to know where to start....job action like this will hopefully put us back on the agenda as far as the provincial government is concerned.
Second, to point out that staff shortages are one of the major weaknesses in our current system, and need to be addressed quickly.

Here are the main differences as I understand them between the two sides: employer and union.
offered 0% wage increase and 0% benefits increase, a one year contract, and a signing bonus of $4100 per full time paramedic and $1800 per part time paramedic.
asked for a 3.9% wage increase for the first year and 1.2% wage increase the following six months, a three year contract, benefits increases, and an independent mediator to help keep contract negotiations moving in a positive direction.

This first discussion deteriorated so badly and so quickly that there have been no attempts to negotiate, discuss, or arbitrate AT ALL since APRIL.

In April a crew was doing their start of shift safety and equipment check, which is something we ALL do that is considered NON NEGOTIABLE, and was dispatched on a code 3 call. The crew refused to start the call until their safety check was completed and was severely disciplined by management for delaying a code 3 call. This caused massive uproar amongst paramedics and many stations walked off the job and set up protests around the province. This got lots of press coverage, and the employer backed down and rescinded the disciplinary action and conceded that safety comes first, and no crew will be required to respond to any calls at the start of shift until that safety check is complete [takes all of 10 minutes]. A factor in this entire scenario is the fact that we ALWAYS used to do these safety checks before the start of shift, but since our contract expired and we have been 'on strike,' we don't do early shift relief anymore, so we don't start our safety check until we are actually being paid to work.
Such minor details, but so important to the discussion.
Should we work for free for ten minutes before our shift starts? Should we hit the street without knowing if our flashing lights are all in working order, if there is blood in the back of the ambulance that the previous crew didn't/wouldn't/forgot to clean up? Should we do calls without knowing if our jump kit is properly stocked with unexpired medications, or whether our oxygen tanks are empty?
Is it professional to wear strike t-shirts instead of uniform issue? Is it politicizing peoples' crises to wear "On Strike" pins to work, and have "On Strike" decals on our ambulances?
Is it ethical to have an overtime ban? Won't people die waiting for ambulances that never come?
People already die in this province waiting for ambulances that never come, because we have severe staffing shortages, massive mismanagement of our budgets, and a ridiculous workload. In the last 7 years the ambulance service budget has MORE THAN DOUBLED from 130 million in 2002 to 350 million in 2008. And not a single extra ambulance has been put on the road. NOT. A. SINGLE. ONE. The number of paramedics working in the province has fluctuated slightly, but remains at approximately 3600, the same as it was 7 years ago. The province no longer pays for paramedic training school; people interested in becoming paramedics must pay tuition fees of around $6000, when this used to be covered by the province. So where is all that money going? Well, lots and lots of beaurocracy, to start. A lot of new managerial positions have sprung up. Every manager needs a vehicle and an office and an assistant and a credit card...And lots of other money is shuttled around plugging leaky holes instead of anyone doing a review of the entire system and redesigning it to be more efficient.

I don't have the answers. But ignoring a bunch of overworked, unfairly paid, stressed out, striking paramedics is not really prudent on the part of the government, if you ask me. Is it ethical to have an overtime/secondary ban? Is it ethical for a broken system to keep on limping along, surviving at the expense of people who work too much? People are dying waiting for ambulances because rural areas of this province cannot recruit nor retain staff because THEY CAN ONLY OFFER TO PAY THEM $2 AN HOUR TO BE ON CALL. Rural nurses and doctors get paid MORE, rural RCMP get paid the SAME, [and rural fire departments make pittance, because they are almost exclusively volunteer based....municipal vs. federal/provincial systems], and paramedics make LESS. There are areas of the province where vehicle crash victims wait between 2 and 4 hours for an air ambulance to fly to their crash site FROM VANCOUVER because there are no land ambulances with staff that can drive to the site faster than the helicopter can stage and fly. This is only one example of the province wide ramifications of staffing shortages in the ambulance service.
So, in response to IS IT ETHICAL to have an overtime ban, I would venture to state that it IS NOT ETHICAL that people are dying and the government does not see fit to address the current staffing shortages in this province. This job action simply highlights that weakness very clearly. If you cannot FUNCTION without overtime and secondary workers, you need to address some serious staffing shortages. Two wrongs don't make a right, I know. But how is the union supposed to recapture the attention of the provincial government, otherwise?

Rock. Paramedics. Hard place.

You can imagine there is much heated discussion and debate going on in our station these days. It is a pretty negative environment to be in, I can tell you. I just want to HIDE under the aforementioned rock, but as you can see, despite myself I've been forming opinions....

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I've chopped off my arm and left it somewhere....

It FEELS like I've left an arm somewhere. Or a pancrease. Or a lung. Something really important that I should have kept track of but didn't, you know? I've left my oldest kid in a grade one class and my middle kid in a kindergarten class and my youngest is sleeping. WHAT do people DO with themselves when they have HOURS AND HOURS to themselves in the middle of the day? I've completely forgotten. I feel so FREEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!

I dropped Matthew off for his first full day of real kindergarten (yesterday was a mini session with half the class) at noon. Oh my goodness, was he ever CUTE! So official! So serious! So enthusiastic about having his backpack and reading his name and giving his teacher his homework--a drawing of what he did over the summer!! It was amazing. I didn't anticipate being emotional at all today--after all, yesterday was his very very first day of kindergarten, but for some reason today was less rushed and more peaceful, and it was just Matthew and I, and after I dropped him off I peeked in the window of his class and watched him happily run to the circle and sit down to listen attentively to the teacher he already loves, and I started BAWLING. Like cover your mouth with your hand, snot pouring, making noise BAWLING. I had to sit in the car with my forehead on the steering wheel for awhile before I could see well enough to drive myself home afterwards. All I could think was, "I did it. I accomplished a huge feat. I've done a good thing. I can't believe I got here." It has been almost four years since we adopted Matthew, and for so long I never thought the day would come when a happy, well adjusted, normal, joyful, good little boy would go off to kindergarten ready for the next stage in his life. Kindergarten is a big year. Those first five years are supposed to be a literal foundation for the rest of their emotional, social, intellectual, and spiritual lives, and I've DONE IT! I survived it. I did it, and I did it well. Not perfectly, by ANY stretch of the imagination, but WELL. I know I've done it well because Matthew is JOYFUL, and happy, and authentic, and well adjusted, and normal, and good, and cooperative, and enthusiastic about life. I just couldn't see this day ever coming, but it did. I did it, I did it, I did it. He's not killing neighbourhood cats or burning peoples' gardens or torturing squirrels or bullying other kids or massively unhappy. He's a normal, happy, well adjusted boy. Holy cow.

Last November when I went to see a counsellor for my anxiety, Matthew came up. Matthew always comes up. I described a bit of how spirited he is and how difficult to parent sometimes, and my very mixed up feelings about him--lots of guilt, anxiety, remorse, and frustration--and in particular I described worrying about his future. She asked me, "Do you ever picture him growing up to be a normal, happy man who goes to school, gets a job, gets married, and has lovely children? Maybe even adopted children, since his experience of being adopted was a positive one?" I was stunned. The answer was absolutely no. Never once in three years of being Matthew's momma had I pictured anything in his future but identity crises, anger, drugs, homelessness, violence, alcoholism, estrangement from family, and possible deep ramifications like him raping or murdering someone. Yes, seriously. This is what raged in my head. I can't believe I lived like that for so long. No wonder our relationship was difficult! I was fighting an inevitably unhappy and violent future that would be at once beyond my control and yet all my fault.
That day I stopped. I put my foot down. No more torture. I started to see Matthew as he really is: a happy, well adjusted, NORMAL BOY, and I started to picture him as an interesting and smart and entertaining teenager, and a happy, well adjusted, funny, employed, married, normal adult. I dropped the weight of the world from my shoulders that day, I tell you. Never once since then have I pictured his future as anything but normal. He'll have some ups and downs, and maybe some identity issues surrounding being adopted and a racial minority in his own home, and he will sometimes be happy and sometimes be sad. But in all, he will figure out his own path through it all, like we all do, and God will go with him, and in the end he will be happy. And normal. And interesting to talk to. And incredibly rewarding to have in my life.

Today marked that 5 year line; one of many imaginary lines in the sand that we mark as parents as goals reached or accomplishments met, which we either anticipate or which sneak up on us. He's five in a few days. He is in kindergarten. He is happy. He is normal. He is good. I made it, I made it, I made it.
For so many years when I struggled to get through the next hour let alone day let alone week parenting a baby and toddler Matthew I NEVER THOUGHT today would EVER COME.
I did it, I did it, I did it, I did it, I did it, I did it.....with Grace and Love and Compassion and Friendship and Family and Support and GOD and YOU and my counsellor and some really great books and my church and MY HUSBAND and my other children, I did it.

Thank you Jesus, thank you friends, and thank you universe. I'm done the first five years with Matthew, and I've done them well. Holy crap, I can't believe it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Breast cancer run

Our whole family is running in CIBC's Run for the Cure, to kick some breast cancer ASS! Donate in our names and help us fundraise here. Please donate soon! The run is almost here!!!

in honor of the run and my family members who have fought and won, BOBBI, LYNNE, and EDNA, and for my good friend Elaine's mom GLORIA and Brent's aunt who fought and lost I've changed the color scheme until the day of the run. Donate, my friends!! Help kick some more cancer ass!


Also, I've decided to get a tattoo. Will keep you posted. I've been thinking about this one for YEARS, and have finally decided on a design and location......

New Development

Ayden can now read silently! He has been an avid reader for awhile, but until recently he always read to himself out loud. It was super cute, because we would have the baby monitor on in his bedroom in case Riley woke up, and we would often hear him reading to himself quietly in his bed. No more!
I reserved the first of the Harry Potter series at the library, thinking I could read it to him, and it would be a great mommy-son bonding experience! But on the drive home from the library when it came in, he started reading the first chapter, and read the whole thing himself. I think Brent read a chapter or two, but he read the vast majority of it himself, silently. Okay, how is my baby reading Harry Potter to himself? We just bought him book #2 and 3 from a second hand store today, because he loved #1 so much.

You go, baby.

Monday, September 14, 2009

13 months!!

Today Riley is thirteen months old. I have two newsy bits regarding him to tell you before we get to the usual stats; first of all, yesterday he tried to climb our neighbour kid's bike and it fell over on him and he busted up his toe. The toenail was all black and hanging off, and the toe was red and swollen, and he wouldn't/couldn't walk on it yesterday evening. Poor baby! Today at boot camp he was visibly limping. Then at some point, I noticed the blood that was trapped under the toenail came out, and he seemed MUCH more comfortable, so maybe the pressure was the main problem. He still complains if it gets bumped, but he was running around at Ayden's soccer practice with no limp, so that is good! It was VERY cute this morning; I was showing my friend Rowenna his toe and he pointed at it, looked all sad and pathetic, and said "goo-woo, ba ba" in this very pathetic voice (obviously to elicit sympathy, which worked). SO CUUUUUTE!!!
The other bit of news is that tonight Riley did some sign language for the first time totally unprompted! He heard an airplane, looked at the sky, and moved his fist in the correct way for 'airplane,' while making the sound of a motor with his mouth. I LOVE this stage, where they use sign language to initiate conversation about things they notice or are interested in. It is awesome to see him communicate what he's interested in. We did baby sign language with our other two kids too, and found it very helpful in reducing frustration surrounding communication for that developmental period where they understand much more than they can say. And it is fun to be able to 'talk' before they can talk!

blackberry picking by the river

So. Today Riley is thirteen months old.
Weight, STILL 20.5 lbs (I wish he would hit 22 lbs already, so we could turn his carseat around!)
Height, 2 feet 5 inches

his brothers
momma milk
small dogs
other babies
hockey sticks
pine cones
sushi, including the seaweed
(I told you this kid loves food)
opening the shower door while you are in it
hot tubs
running water in sinks and tubs
creek water
dog's water dish
tickle monster
dropping food on the floor for the dog
climbing on the oven drawer to get to the stovetop
pulling hair
scratching people

diaper changes
getting dressed (except for his shoes and socks, which he loves)
lying down on his back in the water
carseat, though he is getting better at longer trips
large dogs
being put in the stroller
kisses from mommy (too busy for that business!)
feeling left behind

now can walk down stairs if holding someone's hand
communicates with sign language
makes proper car, truck, and airplane noises
uses ride on toys
can operate screw off/on tops if loose
climbs like an orangutan
can hit a ball with a hockey stick
remembers where he hid objects even a few days later (sometimes)
has invented a whole new level of 'switch nursing'--he prefers to breastfeed by having both breasts available and switching from side to side every 3 or 4 sucks, which helps me to develop better flexibility in my back ;)
can balance on one foot for 3 or 4 seconds
can walk backwards
can run forwards
dances any time he hears music
blows to cool down his food
learning to use a fork
knows how to use a spoon
waves 'bye bye' and 'hello'
sleeps well between 8:30 pm and 4:30 am--wakes to nurse about two or three times between 4:30 and 7:00, on average
orients his entire existence around trying to escape out the front or back door and running out onto the street. Where he's going, nobody knows, but he's determined to get there. Maybe he figures God sent him to the wrong family? THESE PEOPLE ARE KOOKS, YOU CAN'T BE SERIOUS?! I'M NOT STAYING HERE ANOTHER MINUTE!

We love, love, LOVE you, baby Einstein!
I'm so glad you're mine.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Boo for misinformation

When I switched to metal water containers for my kids, it was to avoid BPA in plastics. BPA mimics estrogens in the body and can cause many ill health effects, including breast cancer. SO. I was a careful shopper, or so I thought. I bought some Klean Kanteens, which you already know about, but when Ayden hit kindergarten I figured the sippy cup top was too babyish for him, but couldn't find a store that carried the more grown up looking sport tops only. So Riley inherited Ayden's old klean kanteens, and we bought Ayden some fun Lakens, which I emailed the company about and was informed are lined with plastic, 'some' of which older models contain BPA, though I was assured it was non leaching and low levels (my ass...how am I supposed to measure or believe that?). So I returned those and found some Siggs at another store, asked the store clerk what they were lined with, and was assured they are lined with ceramic. Ceramic is a really hard type of glass so I was comfortable with that. We have used Siggs happily for about a year. Well, it turns out Sigg actually lines their aluminum bottles with PLASTIC CONTAINING BPA, so here we invested money in metal water bottles when we may as well have bought plastic (cheaper! way cheaper!) because they are lined with BPA anyways. Grrrr. I should have emailed the company instead of asking the store clerk and trusting him. Sigg is now taking back any older model Siggs and replacing them with a BPA free plastic lined water bottle, until the end of the month, free of charge.
I'm pissed.
I don't want another plastic lined bottle, I want my money back.
We bought Ayden another Klean Kanteen with a sport top, and have found a website online that sells the sport tops for $4, so we have ordered two of those for Matthew's old sippy cups. Klean Kanteen is the way to go, I've decided. No more farting around with friggin Siggs or Lakens. Stainless is the way to go. I have a fun Sigg that says "Make Love Not Landfill." It's the new, BPA free model, but what other toxins are lurking around in the plastic liner that we don't know about? Jeepers.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

How many body fluids are there???

Okay, this post has TMI, just so you can consider yourselves forewarned. But I'm looking for straight up sympathy here, so I'm going to share too much information. Yesterday I worked transfer car. I'm discovering that a major issue when working transfer car happens to be breastmilk. How, you ask? First of all, there is the lack of refridgeration. In the station I just put my black bag in the fridge, but if we're in the car all day I have to use ice, or ice packs. Also, when I'm working the emerg cars of course there is the unpredictability of the pager--more than a few times I've had to stop the flow of milk with a paper towel and rapidly put myself back together in time to toss my milk in the fridge and run downstairs to hop in the ambulance for a code 3 call. But in those cases I can generally get back to pump again within an hour or two with minimal problems. I pump twice in a 12 hour shift, and feed Riley before and after work to keep my body making enough milk, and to keep a supply in the freezer for Riley while I'm gone. When working transfer car there are literally no breaks. There is a half hour lunch break, but otherwise we carve out our own coffee or food or smoke or what have you after dropping a patient off and before we contact dispatch for our next call, as needed. Most of the time, we work straight through unless we need a quick snack. My dilemma is mostly that I need to 'disappear' into the bathroom at some hospital somewhere with my black bag for 15 minutes, twice a day, without anyone knowing what I'm doing. I wouldn't care if your average female knew what I was up to, but there is no way I want any of the guys I work with knowing/thinking about/considering/imagining anything to do with my boobs and what they excrete. So I disappear for 15 minutes into the bathroom with my little black bag and no one asks me any questions (so far). Twice a day. Do you know how scroty hospital bathrooms can be? Ick. But I find one with only one toilet so I don't have to hide in a stall, and I lock the door and stand against it on the other side. Not ideal. In fact, legally my employer is required to provide me with breaks and a room to pump in. But how am I supposed to make that happen without causing a stink? Part of my goal is to have no one know what I'm doing. It did occur to me that I could contact the maternity ward in each hospital and ask them to find me a room for the days I'll be pumping. But it may take most of the 15 or so minutes that we can squeeze out of the drop off/clear with dispatch time for me to get to the maternity ward in most hospitals. And we never know which hospitals or which direction we'll be going in on a given day on the transfer car (or any emerg car either, of course).
Here I am, in a small, one toilet only, handicapped and baby change table bathroom on the ground floor in Vancouver General Hospital. I have to pee, so I do that. My boobs are bursting, so I pump four ounces of milk out of them. Pumping makes me sweat, always, but especially at work because I'm always standing in a small, hot, non well ventilated bathroom wearing heavy work pants and boots and the necessary 2 shirts (our work shirts are too thin to wear without an undershirt). So sweat is dripping down my face and making my hair frizzy. I dump the milk out of my pump and into its storage bottle, and then I have to go to the bathroom (not pee). I did that, and realized that I had to wash out my Diva Cup (here's where the TMI really kicks in). Which I SPILL ALL OVER THE FLOOR. Oh. My. Gosh. I look at the time and my 15 minutes is up, and there is blood everywhere. EVERYWHERE. The toilet, the floor, my boots, and my pants. And my hands. Ah, ladies, you can all sympathize I'm sure. Thankfully we wear navy blue pants, so no one can see after I've scrubbed what I can from the fabric, and with some paper towel and water I did a pretty good job cleaning up. Which cleaning made me sweat EVEN MORE!
You would think I would be close to tears, but in actual fact I was just mad.
My partner said nothing about the 25 minute disappearance in the direction of the bathroom. Thankfully!
When I drove home it was close to 30 degrees and I was in the non air conditioned car, so there was some more sweat. And as Brent was giving me the lowdown on his day, including a massive dog poop incident with poopy dog footprints and a crusty dog, I could feel more blood trickling down my leg and pooling in my sock, while a frantic Riley grabs at my shirt and whines for milk.
Good gravy, friends, does it NEVER END?!
A shower was in HIGH ORDER.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A few observations

We bought our dog a coat. Not once while I was growing up did we buy one of our dogs any clothing. Unless a dog collar counts as clothing! But our puppy gets cold and wet--he's skinny as stink, and our walks are long. So we bought him a waterproof jacket with a fleece lining and a reflective strip. Hilarious, but it gets the job done. At least he's not running around in my purse, people!

The long walks wear him out. And lately Riley has been wanting to walk, so if we have time we let him out and the long walks wear HIM out, too. At a snail's pace, of course! He's so cute running around on the forest path with his Einstein hairdo and his cute little Nike runners and his drunken sailor run! At least once per trip he falls and doesn't get his hands out in time and bounces his forehead off the pavement. He has a permanent rash of scabs on his forehead from these types of falls. At my mom's place last week we were out by the pool and he was making me nervous so I put his life jacket on in case he fell in the water. He climbed on the diving board and then fell off onto the cement, but the life jacket slowed his arms down so he broke his fall with his forehead. That was awesome. I think I cried. Then he fell into the hot tub while we were RIGHT there but not actually looking (he was no more than three feet away from my mom, but behind her). I heard a splash but assumed it was Matthew, who loves to jump in and out of the hot tub and is perfectly capable of doing so without an adult. Within about 3 seconds Matthew started yelling "Riley! Riley! Uh, oh, Riley!!" and my mom turned around and scooped him out of the tub, where he was submerged over his head. It's wild how easily they can get into trouble even when you are RIGHT THERE. Literally. TWO adults were right there! He sputtered a bit and cried for a minute, halfheartedly, and then wanted back in the hot tub.
I had to write chart out my thoughts in my journal on that one, to get my after-the-fact anxiety under control enough to sleep that night.

It has been difficult emotionally to leave Ayden at school for a full day, two days in a row now! He feels fine, but I have separation anxiety!! :) Logistically though, I have to admit it simplifies our lives to have him fully taken care of by the school for 6 hours. Suddenly going anywhere is simplified by 20%! Errands are done 20% faster! The house is 20% quieter! I miss him so much, but it is nice to have an easier time for a few hours. However, Matthew has a gradual entry to kindergarten going on, so he is still with us 24/7, and without Ayden he is BORED!!! When he is bored he motormouths about NOTHING: "Mommy? Mommy? Mommy?" [each time I answer him but he's not paying attention so he doesn't hear me] "Mommy, tan I hab a snack? I hungry." I prompt him to remember the verb 'to be.' "I am hungry." The answer is no. "Why mommy?" Because it is not snack time. "Mommy? Mommy? Mommy?" WHAT, Matthew. "How more, how more, how many more days?" Until what. "How more, how more, how many more days my birthday?" Ten. "Wahoo! Mommy? Mommy? Mommy? I tarving. Tan I hab snack?" No. "Why not?" It is not snack time. "Mommy? Mommy? Where we doing? What we doing?" I prompt him. "Where are we doing?" The store. "It time Ayden be done now?" No. "Were we doing, mommy?" The store. "Why?" To buy stuff! "Why?" Because we need some things from the store! "Mommy? Where my water? I tarving. Tan we go to McDonald's?"
Oh. My. Gosh. Shoot. Me. Now.
The great thing about this dialogue is that it is just filler. He doesn't really care about what we're talking about, so long as he's moving his mouth and I'm interacting with him. He doesn't listen to my answers. He doesn't even really listen to his own questions. He just talks because he's bored. Holy crap, WHEN DOES HE GO TO KINDERGARTEN?????????? He's driving me crazy. We met with his teacher yesterday, and he loved her. She is GREAT; she has a wonderful reputation, and Ayden had her last year and loved her. I'm very glad he seems positive about kindergarten and that he will have such an amazing teacher to introduce him to 'real school,' and to build upon his positive preschool experience. I just want him to START already! He's driving me nuts.
In good news regarding Matthew, he has been quite good about toileting lately, and is very kind, and sleeps like a dream. And has stopped lying (there was a phase), and has stopped stealing food (there has been an ongoing battle since the day we adopted him--not rooted in anything adoption/hunger/starvation/survival method, but rather rooted in second child syndrome, being an early riser when the rest of us are sleep-in-ers, poor impulse control, and a particular knack for climbing and foraging), and has come incredibly far in his speech and language therapy. His therapist says that he is now at the point where, if we had not flagged him on his kindergarten application form, his speech issues may not have been flagged for assessment by the school's pathologist. What a distance he has come in one year of therapy. Wow. I would say his speech and intelligibility has improved at least 3 years in the past 12 months. Amazing!
And he's a kick ass swimmer. And climber. And soccer player. And jumper. And he is enthusiastic about anything physical, fun, or masculine.

I'm working tomorrow. Transfer car.
Pray for my sanity.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Lamaze International

I blatently stole this from Rixa's blog, as I thought it important information to share (and she credits Lamaze's website):

Launched in 2004 to summarize the evidence for a healthy, safe, and natural approach to labor and birth care, Lamaze’s Care Practice Papers, have just undergone their second update. Now referred to as The Six Lamaze Healthy Birth Practices, the latest update incorporates current evidence as well as more clear language that we know will resonate with women more effectively. These papers supplement the video series and handouts launched earlier this summer in partnership with InJoy Birth & Parenting Videos, and are trustworthy resources for women as well as childbirth educators and other birth professionals.

Each of the Healthy Birth Practices is supported by decades of high quality research. I like to think of the practices as “the basic needs of childbearing women.” Some women will need high tech monitoring and intervention to birth safely, but the standard should be care that supports and facilitates the normal physiologic processes, intervening with the safest, most effective, and least disruptive approach only when a medical need arises and with fully informed consent.

Routinely depriving women of The Healthy Birth Practices makes birth unnecessarily difficult, and complications more likely. Got it? Good.

So here they are! Drumroll, please…

1. Let labor begin on its own - lead author Debby Amis, RN, BSN, CD(DONA), LCCE, FACCE
2. Walk, move around, and change positions throughout labor - lead author Teri Shilling, MS, CD(DONA), IBCLC, LCCE, FACCE
3. Bring a loved one, friend, or doula for continuous support - lead authors Jeanne Green, MT, CD(DONA), LCCE, FACCE, and Barbara A. Hotelling, MSN, CD(DONA), LCCE, FACCE
4. Avoid interventions that are not medically necessary - lead author Judith A. Lothian, RN, PhD, LCCE, FACCE
5. Avoid giving birth on the back and follow the body’s urges to push - lead author Joyce DiFranco, RN, BSN, LCCE, FACCE
6. Keep mother and baby together - it’s best for mother, baby, and breastfeeding - lead author Jeannette Crenshaw, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, IBCLC, LCCE, FACCE

Monday, September 7, 2009

Spaghetti sauce (and stuff)

I'm canning sauce right now, as we speak--I have 6 jars in the canner bubbling away, which means some downtime for me for about half an hour. So here I am! I wanted to update you from last week, and maybe post some pics if I have time. Last Sunday we packed up the kids and drove across our new bridge to Maple Ridge, and went hiking at Golden Ears Park. It was Simon's first big walk, and he did wonderfully! It was a perfect day for hiking; sunny but not too warm. I was very surprised that Simon walked the entire distance (about an hour), and that he did well on the leash. He has zero experience. He's such a great dog. He is SO easygoing! I did step in his poop on the lawn about an hour ago, though. I was chasing him from the backyard to the front, trying to catch a black dog in the dark before he ran onto the road, and I slid on some poop. AWESOME! He also spends a good portion of the day sleeping, is too skinny (basset hounds are prone to being overweight, so we'll see if that lasts--right now he's either too sleepy or too busy to eat, generally!), and loves to antagonize the cat. It drives her crazy.

Last Tuesday we drove up to my parents' place and spent our four days off running around the farm. So fun! There were electrical storms and firefighting helicopters and all kinds of cool stuff to see and talk about. This trip for the first time, we let the big boys go down to the shop (barn) by themselves and play. What a milestone to not have to visually supervise them every minute! I think it is SO important for kids to have wild, unsupervised playtime. It helps them develop a sense of identity that is more true, I think, because it is not simply a reflection of who those around them tell them they are. I hope that makes sense! It also extends their imagination far beyond supervised play, because there are really no limits, and there is no audience save themselves. Because there are two of them, and because we know them well, we DON'T trust them NOT to get into trouble, but we DO trust them to either improvise a way out of trouble, or to access help if they need it. I spent echelons of my childhood playing in nature, and I think it was VERY valuable. I'm so glad that my kids can have some chances to do the same. It sure is a sign they are growing up though. Ayden starts grade one TOMORROW! Yikes! And Matthew starts kindergarten on Wednesday or Thursday (I can't find the paper that tells me which is his first day...tomorrow we'll start a manhunt for it!!). They are so grown up! It's sad!
And Riley is running around, throwing fits and putting his forehead on the floor and WAILING when he doesn't get his way about something. Gosh, it's hilarious. I sure am glad he's my third (I like to call him 'my turd'--Irish accented 'third,' with some obvious connotations). I've decided that the absolute best position to have in the sibling birth order is third. The first is a wild animal testing experiment, with both parents learning on the fly and the kid breaking new ground every time he reaches a new developmental stage. The second further tests the parents, as they are now required to staple their lives to their kids pretty thoroughly, and everything is more of a production. Also, anything the parents learned in parenting their first kid seems NOT TO APPLY to their second kid, which makes for another steep learning curve and some major head butting. By the third kid, nothing fazes parents anymore, all developmental stages seem shorter and more manageable, and the parenting philosophy has pretty well been hammered out, so the 'turd' is not subjected to quite so many experiments and does not confound his parents quite so much. At this point, I am very confident I could do 4. Absolutely, bring it on, tuck him right into the fabric of our family, no problem [whether or not we actually want to go there is an entirely other matter, but I'm just saying I have no doubts about my emotional well being or the state or rhythm of our family being disturbed whatsoever by the addition of a fourth child]. When they are teenagers and a weekly trip to Costco costs me $600, we may be singing a different tune, here. But for now. Also, as a third child, there are plenty of people to play with, and plenty of people to offer hugs, kisses, condolences, and head pats when you fall and scrape your knees.
Yes, 'turd' is best.
I'm an oldest child. Brent is an oldest child. Ayden, of course, is an oldest child. So Matthew pretty much was an anomoly in our family until Riley came along! And I have to say, Matthew has always, always been kind, patient, gentle, and empathetic with Riley. I have never seen him act in an unkind brotherly way towards his baby brother, which I kind of expected would happen every once in awhile. Well, Matthew will steal toys and food right out of Riley's hands, but he would do that with anyone he felt like he could get away with doing it to....like grandmas....but I mean, he's not ever malicious. Ever. It's wonderful. And he frequently asks me when I'm going to give him a sister. I guess he was made for a big family.

So I'm canning spaghetti sauce tonight, and I have a slightly funny story to tell of my last canning venture. It was the night before we went up to my mom's last week, and Brent was working night shift. I had purchased 60 lbs of blueberries that afternoon for freezing and jamming and pie. I made the pie for dessert after supper but my supper was pronounced SO GOOD by my kids (and moi) that the pie was only half eaten! We had maple burbon salmon on my blue cheese and pear salad, which is to DIE FOR, fresh corn, and artisan bread. I'm dying of hunger just thinking about it. I am SO GOOD :p

Here's my salad recipe;
1 head leafy lettuce
3 handfuls spinach
2 radiccio
1 pear
3 handfuls of chopped, oven roasted pecans
1 handful of craisins (optional)

wash all the lettuces and combine, slice the pear thinly and add, roast and chop the pecans and add, and toss with 3 Tbsp of blue cheese dressing. A super added touch is crumbled blue cheese which is in my top 3 favourite foods, especially combined with radiccio. If blue cheese is NOT in your top 3 favourite foods, and is rather in your bottom 3, you could do without the crumbled blue cheese on top. You could even replace the dressing with ranch or something, but in my opinion you would DESTROY THE SALAD [a sin worthy of BURNING IN HELL, if you ask me, which you didn't, but still...I'm a serious food lover].
I digress.

So, we had so much good supper we had hardly any room for dessert. I took some pics of my blueberry pie so I'll have to post those sometime. Yummmmmm...
So I tuck my three boys in bed and decide that, as a result of some minor mumbling about liking blueberry jam and wishing I could make him some blueberry jam and gosh some blueberry jam would be nice on this toast OH MY GOSH I'LL MAKE YOU SOME JAM TONIGHT. Jeepers! My kitchen is ready, my ingredients assembled, my time is my own, my kids are in bed, and I'm pumped. But then I realize I DON'T HAVE ANY PECTIN! Ack! Kids are sleeping, we're leaving tomorrow morning for four days, the jam HAS to be made tonight or not at all. And this is the last of the season for blueberries, so there is no hope for next week. I hemmed and I hawwwed (not really, but I love that expression, it seems so down home farm hillbilly), because I knew that it is possible to make jam without pectin; our great great grandmas all did it that way before it was possible to buy convenient little paper packets of pectin (wowsa, look at that alliteration, Peter Piper PICKED!). So, I decided to give it a shot. I knew it took longer and was more finicky, but there is a first time for everything, right? How hard can it be?
Holy fucking cow, THAT's how hard it can be! It took me two hours of stirring to get the crushed blueberries to the gelatinish point, and about half an hour before it reached that point I was stirring and I noticed something prickly on my arm. Huh. That hasn't happened so far, I wonder what that is? Then there it was again. It hurt! A couple of minutes later it wasn't so prickly anymore, it was BIG GLOBS OF BURNING BLUEBERRY JAM plopping out of the boiling pot onto my arms! And then they got so ferocious and huge as the jam got thicker (but not thick enough!) that they attacked my neck, my cheeks, my forehead, even behind my glasses a couple of times, very close to my eyes! There were splatters of jam all over my stovetop, the counter, the wall behind my stove, the microwave above my stove, within a three foot radius of my oven ON THE FLOOR, and ALL OVER ME. It even burned my toes. I had to stir the jam with a towel wrapped around my arm and hand to even be able to stir it. HOW DID GREAT GREAT GRANDMA DO THIS???? I thought, as I swore *F* and *FF* and *FFF* every time another freaking glob leapt out and got me (I'm so glad the kids are sleeping at this point, or their ears would be traumatized. No seriously they would--I don't swear in front of them anymore like I used to!). Ack.
All that for eight little jars of a type of jam that I don't even like.

I am pretty proud of all my jars of food though. This year so far I've made rasperry, raspberry-blueberry, cherry cinnamon, peach, and blueberry jam, I've canned tomatoes and pasta sauce, and I've frozen hundreds of pounds of raspberries and blueberries for winter. I also have 40 lbs of apples sitting in my kitchen waiting to be sauced. That's up next. Look at me! Domestic Diva. My mom always preserved food because the homemade stuff always tastes so much better. I do it because it is so much healthier, and I can guarantee my glass jars have no BPA in them. Also, my spaghetti sauce reduces my overall glass jar use drastically (I mean the recyclable glass jars I usually buy my pasta sauce in, and then have to guiltily recycle) without having to switch to plastic. Yippee!

My kids are so cute. I just had to say that.

Here's Riley's birthday pics to prove it;

Don't you LOOOOVE my cake? I filled a dump truck with chocolate pudding, oreo cookie crumbs, and gummy worms and voila: dirt and worms in a truck. It was a very big hit. AND the truck was Riley's birthday present, and is big enough to be a ride on toy. Awesome!

Good night!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

just another day at the office

I know you have all walked much of my emotional journey with me this past year, so much so that you must be sick of it. Yeah, yeah, Melissa; you're crazy, we all know it, now you feel tons better but still struggle sometimes, we get it!
But I have to say AGAIN how much I lived in the grip of anxiety before, and how much I notice it in contrast to the freedom I live in now. Not total freedom. Not effortless freedom, either. But glorious, nevertheless. I slept again last night before a day shift, without anxiety. The only things stealing sleep from me were Riley's little fish mouth hunting around for milk in the dark, and the fact that we got back late last night from my mom's place.
Before, I had these common fear themes, neurological loops that had been travelled like well loved paths in my brain so many times as to be effortless, familiar, and comforting. Germs, social awkwardness, confrontation, loss, trauma, death, car crashes, SIDS, fires, disappointing people, being late, being dirty, losing a kid in a crowded or public place, sexual assault, ecological collapse, worsening of my mental illness, death of a child, maiming of a child, or somehow, someway, getting it wrong and feeling I should have known better. Just to name a few. Since I have noticed these themes, I have been able to combat them with more balanced thoughts, and suddenly, after several hours of writing and sorting out one theme, and several days of practicing thinking in the new pattern, I am free from that neurological loop. I am free from that fear. Or guilt.
The energy I used to put into anticipation, prevention, worry, anxiety, and just plain old mental imagery of what death, loss, trauma, and etc would look like, I can now redirect. To SLEEP, to myself, to my kids, to my husband, to some fun hobbies like crochet and painting. Seriously, I feel so free. And I am very, very grateful. I feel happier now than I can remember, unencumbered. Thank you, post partum anxiety and depression treatment group, thank you, friends and family, thank you summertime, thank you Jesus.

Oh yes, and work was fine.


I found this at Gloria Lemay's blog and found it very powerful.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Yesterday my friend Dana gave birth to her third baby, a gorgeous boy!!! He weighs 9 lbs, 10 oz, was born at home, in the water, and Dana caught him herself. He's beautiful and perfect. CONGRATULATIONS to Dana, Andrew, Eva, and Micah. Welcome to the world, Joshua Wilms!!!

kisses and hugs Auhsoj, from the Esov Team.

Introducing Simon

Here are photos of our sweet puppy! So far he's adorable, pees everywhere, affectionate, and sleeps most of the time.

The kids LOOOOVE him, and we are smitten too