Tag Archives: baby

Be careful what you wish for!

tree

It was just before Christmas in 2006 and my daughter, Elora, had fully realized the meaning of this holiday. The stockings were hung by the chimney with the care (Kind of, I mean she was 3), the tree was up and we were ready for Santa to bring us all our dreams wrapped in shiny sparkly paper with big splendid bows.

Elora had made her list, filled with dolls and Disney princesses and this Mrs. Clause was ready! So when I arrived to pick her up after spending the afternoon with Grandma making Christmas cookies, her newest addition to her wish list was quite a surprise. I had barely made it across the threshold when she blurted out “I want a baby brother for Christmas!” Continue reading

From Iranian Prisoner to Fatherhood – Welcome to the World Baby Isaiah

Yesterday, my sister Mallika and I both got the coolest email from our friend Laura Fattal.

Quick rewind: About four years ago, Laura’s son Josh and his friends Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd were taken into custody by Iranian border guards and accused of illegally crossing into Iran while hiking along the border. Over the subsequent two years, the three Americans became part of a high stakes international drama that resulted in their being charged with illegal entry and Josh and Shane convicted of espionage and sentenced to eight years of imprisonment. Sarah was released after 14 months on ‘humanitarian grounds’ while Shane and Josh’s terrifying ordeal lasted another year and finally came to an end in September of 2011 when they too were released after paying substantial fines.

Josh, Shane, and Sarah’s arrest was of course covered by the media, but as weeks stretched to months, and months eventually to years, their plight threatened to fade from public consciousness except for the efforts of Laura and an army of social media users she recruited and mobilized to keep her son and his friends’ struggle for freedom in the news. Mallika and I – and the Intent community on which we blogged – joined the effort as well and over the course of months worth of correspondence with Laura, formed a friendship and strong bond with her and her family. They inspired us with their relentless determination to use the power of information and technology to demand justice and the safe return of their loved ones. When Josh and Shane finally returned home bringing their long ordeal to a happy end, our entire family felt an emotional relief and pride for playing some tiny part in their safe redemption.

Which brings me back to yesterday and the email from Laura with the attached picture (which Laura and Josh approved our placing here) announcing the happy and healthy birth of Isaiah Azad Fattal to Josh and Jenny Fattal. Azad means “freedom” in Farsi, which to my mind is the most appropriate moniker baby Isaiah could possibly have.

Birth Announcement_080413_1pm-1

The great Indian Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Rabindranath Tagore once said that “every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man.” I’ve looked at baby Isaiah’s picture several times today and smiled because to me too, his bright eyes are a reminder of the potential we yet have to remedy the world’s ills – in Iran, in the US, and everywhere else where human rights are abused, silence, or limited. So to Josh and Jenny and the entire Fattal Family – thank you from all the Chopras and the Intent family for the gift you have given all of us in your little miracle Isaiah. We feel pride and joy in seeing his precious being and know the world will be a better place simply because of his existence.

Please share your congratulations and warm thoughts with the family in the comments below!

Amazing Timelapse Makes Pregnancy Look Like a Breeze

Screen Shot 2013-07-24 at 11.49.31 AMNine months of pregnancy condensed into a minute and a half – with a healthy baby at the end!

Anyone who has ever gone through pregnancy, whether as a mom or a partner, knows that the process is a lot more tiring and involved than a timelapse can convey. Then again, sometimes we’re so preoccupied by every ache, pain, and subtle change that we forget the amazing, holistic arc that pregnancy truly is.

Knowing that the process would demand plenty of focus on the micro level, this creative couple decided to document their pregnancy so that in the aftermath they could enjoy the entire journey from start to finish. In their whimsical representation of child-bearing, both the pregnancy and the baby’s birth come about with just a kiss to the belly. Take a look!

If only it were that easy! And what a happy, healthy baby little Amelie Amaya is. Congrats to the happy family!

Did you document your pregnancy (or your partner’s/sister’s/friend’s) in any special way? Tell us about it in the comments section below!

Why Kate Middleton’s Natural Childbirth Should Inspire Us All

grid-cell-11924-1373657822-26Kate had natural childbirth!

Kate had natural childbirth!

Kate had natural childbirth!

I’m not sure how reliable the reporting on Access Hollywood is, but I flipped on the TV last night to get the latest royal baby update and heard that Kate had natural childbirth.

After a Google search I quickly learned that Princess Kate was taking steps to prepare herself for a drug-free experience; and if Mario Lopez’s man on the scene is correct, doulas, midwives, and natural childbirth advocates around the United States are jumping for joy.

The US ranks among the countries with the highest rates of epidural use and Cesarian section. It’s hard to decipher exact numbers as some hospitals report childbirth stats and some don’t, but on average well over 60% of vaginal births in America employ an epidural. Some hospitals report 95% epidural use for vaginal births. 32% of births overall are Cesarian, many of which are scheduled and elective.

We Americans tend to learn lessons the hard way. We think we can create answers to life’s problems and pains by outdoing Mother Nature. (Ahem, GMOs, ahem.) And then we spend generations trying to figure out how to dig ourselves out of the holes we’ve trenched. I place childbirth in this category.

We’ve created a “new normal” in America. Over the past several decades, there’s been a shift from using chemical pain relief only when labor is not progressing to using chemical pain relief before active labor has even started. This is not the case in the rest of the world. This the numbing of America. How deep will we get before having to dig out from this one?

I’m a mom of three naturally born babies. I get it completely. Birth is painful, it’s challenging, it pushes us to our limits – the perfect introduction to motherhood. From a spiritual perspective natural childbirth is an incredible opportunity to awaken. From a confidence perspective, it’s downright empowering.

After I had my first baby, there was a procession of nurses stopping by my recovery room to congratulate me on nixing the epi. I was like a celebrity that evening. One nurse even stopped in and told me she heard me growling and screaming down the hall and felt a thrill.

Really? Just for having a baby like billions of women have before me? Really really?

I can’t count how many birth stories I’ve heard over the past 10 years. The number of natural stories are far and few, but a surprisingly high number of friends have opted for the epidural and not benefited from its effects, still feeling the intensity of labor and the pain of delivery. The epidural is not always a ticket out of the torment.

That said, I encourage OBs to encourage patients to at least try a drug-free experience. The anesthesiologist will be lingering nearby in case she needs to needle up. What I always suggest to pregnant ladies who ask for advice is this – Keep the pain in perspective. It won’t last forever. Focus on the breaks between the contractions. And just when you think you can’t take another minute of pain, have the nurse check you. You’re probably fully dilated and ready to push. Pushing will hurt, but it will be way faster without the epi.

But don’t take my word for it. There are a gazillion moms out there who have forgone that big fat needle in the spine and lived to tell about it. We need more high profile examples like Kate Middleton to let women know that natural is the norm worldwide and to inspire American women to look at the anesthesiologist and say, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

In the end, the most important part of childbirth is healthy baby, healthy Momma.  Modern medicine is a blessing. And we are doubly blessed here in America to have top notch services to provide new mothers and infants with excellent care.

A woman needs to do what is best for her and her baby and take advantage of the resources available to her during this intense time.

That might include chemical pain relief, emergency C-section, or it might include a drug-free-screaming-banshee-spiritually-uplifting-celebrity-in-the-maternity-wing delivery. No matter how that baby comes out, he’s a miracle nonetheless. As is his Momma.

 

Image via Buzzfeed

Baby Stories: A Guide to Pregnancy Journaling

Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 4.23.38 PMBy Zoë Colette Etkin

As a Los Angeles-based birth and postpartum doula, my goal is to bridge the gaps in care for mothers, babies, and families through the perinatal period by providing physical and emotional support, education and resources. My other life’s passion is writing, and a year ago I earned my MFA in poetry. However, the main type of writing I’ve done throughout my life is journaling. My first journal dates back to my 5th or 6th year of life! Journaling has always allowed me to explore my thoughts and feelings, or jot down a strange dream, or even complain. Now that I work with mamas, I see how important it is for them navigate the complex waves of emotion that come with pregnancy, birth, and new motherhood.

Sometimes it’s difficult for new moms to express those feelings out loud. Writing and journaling through our ups and downs can relieve stress, help center and focus the mind, and force us to carve out a little “me time” in our busy lives. Keeping a pregnancy-specific journal is beneficial in several ways: it helps you focus on and connect to the baby growing inside, keeps a log of your emotions and physical sensations, and helps you work through fears and anxieties. Depending on your relationship to writing, you may journal with ease. For women who need prompts, I recommend the following as a guide.

Pregnancy Journal

Today’s Date:

Emotional Landscape: Today I am feeling….

Physical Sensations: (Examples: hunger, morning sickness, kicks or flutters of baby, tiredness, belly is growing, I see the pregnancy glow, etc.)

Today I want to tell the baby….

Today’s affirmation: My body is strong and capable of birthing my baby.

Today’s question: (Here you can talk about things you aren’t sure about. Fears, concerns, questions, etc.)

Today I am planning for you by doing…. (Here you can talk about prenatal check ups, classes you may be taking, buying things for the nursery, hiring a doula, making a list of people who will help out once baby is here, etc.)

Birth Stories

The topic of birth stories is actually one where people have varying schools of thought. Many doulas write birth stories for their clients. Some take a practical approach, chronicling the various times and events that took place, others take a more narrative approach and make it into more of a story. Either way it can be nice to have someone else’s perspective on how the birth went, since time is experienced much differently by the birthing woman. However, it can be important and cathartic for the woman herself to write the experience down as it was to her. If you had a traumatic birth or an ideal birth, writing through the experience can help release feelings you may be having or can affirm and celebrate positive experiences.

Another angle on the birth story is to write it for your child. Some write it as a children’s book for a young child, others write it for when their child is an adult. Either way, it can be a beautiful way to share that experience with your child.

Postpartum Journaling

There will be much less time to write once the baby has arrived, but I still encourage postpartum moms to journal when they can. Just like the pregnancy journal, it’s a nice way to chronicle your emotional landscape, as well as record all the baby milestones. Certainly a baby book makes room for that sort of thing, but it doesn’t give the mother the opportunity to write through her changes and her experiences. I find that postpartum moms can often feel ignored in the bustle of the new baby. Friends and family are constantly visiting and doting on the baby and moms can kind of feel like, “Hey, what about me?” It’s important that the mom have certain support persons who are there to concentrate on her. Postpartum doulas do this job well. Journaling, too, can help moms to take a few minutes to turn inward and focus on themselves and their feelings. It’s so important that postpartum women feel supported and also have an outlet for their feelings. I want to say, though, that if you see a postpartum mom who seems disengaged, or showing extreme emotions, she might need to talk to a professional, as she might be displaying signs of a postpartum mood disorder. Emotions certainly run high for new moms, but it’s important that she have people who are supporting her and have an eye out for behavior that might need further attention.

Allowing some time to journal during the perinatal period can give a woman the opportunity to think through and connect to her experiences in a special way. It also creates a record of her experiences that she may choose to go back to in the future. The process of journaling encourages growth in that it affords the ability to go back and read about yourself at different moments of your life, through different patterns of thought, different approaches to situations. You learn from your past, reflect on your present, and dream about your future all in one space that you can return to when you want, or not when you don’t. Mamas, I encourage you to grab a pen and paper and begin your writing journey today!

* * *

76773_582146197395_8154608_nZoe Etkin is an LA-based CAPPA trained birth and postpartum doula, poet, and teacher. She earned her MFA in Writing from CalArts, where she earned the Beutner Award for Excellence in the Arts. She is the editor of Red Sky: A Literary Journal, and her own poetry can be found in many print and web publications. She is committed to educating and empowering women, supporting families, and promoting good writing.

Photo credit: Gabi Menashe

Can Birth Be a Spiritual Experience?

Pain, bloating, and nausea aside, birth can be a truly spiritual experience. For those who have witnessed the phenomenon, or been present in the precious moments after, the experience may rank in the holiest, most magical moments of their lives. Sure, for some it may include fear, anxiety, pain and adrenaline, but the cry of new life can usually dispel even the sharpest of concerns.

In this week’s episode of “Holy Facts” on The Chopra Well, Gotham Chopra explores the spiritual sides to birthing, from fertility rituals, to belly dancing, to placenta burial. With fertility rites and deities dating back to ancient times, reproduction has likely played a prominent role in religious traditions throughout human history.

Before the wisdom of midwives and modern science became the mainstream, pregnancy and birth were nothing short of miracles, explained only by the mystery of the universe. This same mystery made the sun rise, the rain fall, and the earth bear food to sustain life. But even knowing how the sperm fertilizes the egg, the fetus grows, and eventually the cervix dilates and the baby is born, does it change the magical quality of birth?

Harshitha...my angel..i love you...Many mothers, partners, midwives and other birth workers speak of the sacred atmosphere of the birthing room. For an unmedicated mother, the high levels of oxytocin and endorphins naturally secreted during labor can induce an almost ecstatic high (evolutionarily crafted, of course, to help her withstand the strain of contractions.) And for all in the room, regardless of medical intervention, witnessing a tiny human where previously there was only a big belly…well it’s something you just have to experience.

It is no wonder people have developed such elaborate rituals surrounding birth. Gotham describes some particularly interesting ones in the episode. Did you know belly dancing originated as a method for women to ease the pain of labor? That’s right, it wasn’t intended to be a sexy dance women do in front of men… Kind of puts things into perspective. And cultures around the world find fascinating uses for the placenta, or “afterbirth”, believed by many to hold both spiritual and nutritional properties. Some bury the placenta with a fruit tree, while others grind it up and put it in capsules as post-labor supplements for the mother. Do you know what your parents did with your placenta?

They don’t call it “the miracle of life” for nothing, and clichéd at it may sound, we heartily agree with the sentiment. The human body can do some extraordinary things, and birth and reproduction certainly rank at the top of the list.

Was your child’s birth a holy experience? Tell us about it in the comments section below!

Subscribe to The Chopra Well for more “Holy Facts” every Monday!

Extreme Devotion: Does baby tossing ritual cross the line?

What is the most “extreme” thing you’ve done for your faith?

If, for example, you alter your body in some way or fast for days on end, that’s one thing. Once you involve someone else in your devotion, though, things start to get fuzzy. In this week’s episode of “Holy Facts” on The Chopra Well, Gotham Chopra explores some of more extreme spiritual practices around the world, including a particularly alarming festival involving babies.

In this 700 year old tradition, practiced every year in Karnataka, India by Hindus and Muslims alike, parents hand their infants over to priests, who swing the youngsters back and forth before dropping them 30 feet off of a balcony. Men standing below hold a blanket taut in which to catch the screaming babies before returning them to their mothers. Devotees believe the ritual to bring the babies prosperity and good health, though children’s rights organizations around the world decry the practice as “barbaric.” And it seems a rather life-threatening thing to do for the sake of “health.”

Screen Shot 2013-02-15 at 11.37.36 AMApart from the perhaps obvious problem with dropping babies off of balconies, there’s also the issue of forcing one’s devotion on another person. Is it okay for one person to engage another in their extreme and dangerous act of devotion, particularly if that other person is an innocent baby with no autonomy and no way of consenting? Maybe parents know what’s best for their children, physically and spiritually, but it would be interesting to get the baby’s perspective, especially when his or her life depends on a bunch of men with a blanket 30 feet below.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments section below!

Subscribe to The Chopra Well to stay posted on more strange and amazing episodes on “Holy Facts”!

Pregnancy, Birth and Babies: 5 Articles We Love

We love babies. And women. And women who have babies. Here are some articles that touch on several aspects of pregnancy and birthing. Some stories, some tips, and a video that will melt your heart. Enjoy!

Imagine if one day all types of female bodies – including the pregnant ones – were respected enough to be featured regularly in the fashion world?

Raffaella Fico Pregnant On The Runway: Empowering Move or Publicity Stunt? (Blisstree)

Here are some pregnancy tips – take from them what you will. We’d add: do what feels right and be compassionate with yourself!

Healthy Mama, Healthy Baby: 6 Ways to Stay Strong & Sane During Pregnancy (MindBodyGreen)

This volleyball player competed in the Olympics while she was five weeks pregnant. She won. And now she’s 11 weeks pregnant. True story.

Gold Medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings was Pregnant During Olympics. Still Beat Everyone (Yahoo! Shine)

Ina May Gaskin, the country’s leading midwife, argues that a woman’s choice goes far beyond the right to choose an abortion or not. Many have to fight for their right to labor, too.

When Delivering an Infant, Women Deserve Choice (Care2)

And for some extra baby love, watch this video. Please. You won’t regret it.

Life: Captured in 5 Minutes (Positively Positive)

The Secrets to Cooking Italian (with recipe)

Squash Pasta NoodlesItaly has 20 regions, each with its own specialty dishes and cooking styles. A common factor across every region is the use of fresh products. From the far north regions to the southern shores, fresh food is the key to great tasting dishes. Italian recipes are handed down from grandmothers to the next generations.  Many recipes are surprisingly simple, so you do not need to be a culinary expert to cook up great Italian dishes at home.

Traditionally, the preparation of Italian food is as much of a part of the feast as the actual meal. Kids can join in on the cooking fun by washing produce, measuring ingredients, stirring and more.  Children who get involved in preparing their food are more likely to eat it.

The basic ingredients to keep on hand for preparing healthy Italian dishes are:

Olive oil

Olives and capers

Whole Grains

Tomatoes (fresh and canned)

Garlic

Parmesan cheese or other hard cheese

Mozzarella cheese

Common Herbs and Spices in Italian foods:

In addition to fresh basil and Italian parsley (flat-leafed variety), oregano, thyme and marjoram are commonly used in Italian dishes. Lemons grow throughout Italy and are also used to enhance many Italian dishes.

Italian Cheeses:

Cheese is a great source of calcium which is an important mineral for healthy teeth and bones.  Italy produces more than 400 varieties of cheese. The most well-known Italian cheeses are mozzarella and parmesan.  Here are some of the lesser known but equally delicious Italian cheeses to look for in your local market:

Asiago – made from cow’s milk and available fresh or aged. Fresh Asiago has a smooth texture and can be melted on sandwiches. Aged Asiago has a texture and flavor that is similar to parmesan and can be used in soups, sauces, salads and pastas.

Gorgonzola -made from cow’s milk and aged in a process much like blue cheese.  Gorgonzola can be purchased in block form or crumbles. It makes a great addition to pasta and pizza.  It also works well as an appetizer or snack with sliced apples and pears.

Mascarpone- Mascarpone is a rich, creamy cheese made from cow’s milk. It is the main ingredient in the dessert, Tiramisu.

Pecorino Romano – a hard, salty cheese made from sheep’s milk. It has a sharp flavor and is used to flavor sauces and pastas.

Provolone – a semi-hard cheese made from cow’s milk. The flavor can range from mild to sharp depending on aging.  Provolone is a great cheese for sandwiches and melts.

Ricotta – Although commonly known as a cheese, Ricotta is made from the whey of sheep, cow, goat or buffalo milk and is not produced in the same way as cheese. It does not contain casein and can be eaten by people with casein sensitivity.  Ricotta is used in lasagna, stuffed shells and many Italian desserts.

Creamy Pesto Sauce 

Pesto is a staple in Italian cooking. Traditionally made with basil, olive oil, crushed garlic, pine nuts and parmesan cheese. Variations include sundried tomatoes, red bell peppers and nut-free options. The word “pesto” means to crush or pound using a mortar and pestle. The flavor of Pesto may be a little too strong for tiny taste buds. This recipe is the perfect way to begin the introduction of this delicious sauce.

Ingredients:

1 cup milk

1 cup mascarpone or cream cheese

2 Tbsp. pesto sauce (store bought or homemade)

 Directions:

In a small sauce pan over medium heat add all the ingredients. Stir frequently and do not let the mixture boil. After 2-3 minutes mixture will become smooth. Remove from heat and pour sauce into a 2-cup measuring cup. Let cool for 10 minutes. Pour the creamy pesto sauce into your So Easy Baby Food Trays, cover and freeze until ready to use.

Serving:

Remove a sauce cube from the freezer, defrost and add it to mashed or pureed foods. Here are a few suggestions for delicious creamy pesto meals:

 

  • Mashed potatoes with pureed cauliflower, peas and white beans with creamy pesto sauce
  • Pasta with chopped chicken and broccoli with creamy pesto sauce
  • Flaked whitefish (such and tilapia or catfish) and mashed rice with creamy pesto sauce

 

 

Toddler Treat: Italian Wedding Soup

Italian Wedding Soup is a classic Italian-American dish with a great mix of vegetables, pasta and tiny meatballs. Its name comes from the fact the meat and vegetable taste great together – they are a perfect marriage!

 

Ingredients:

2 quarts (64 oz.) Chicken Stock

1 carrot, diced

1 celery stalk, diced

½ cup Ditalini pasta (or small-shaped pasta)

1 pound ground pork

½ tsp salt and pepper

¼ cup Italian-style bread crumbs

¼ cup parmesan cheese

1 cup cut green beans (fresh or frozen)

1 (15 oz.) can chick peas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained

 

Directions:

In a large pot, bring chicken stock, carrot, celery and pasta to a boil. Turn heat down to medium and simmer for 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the meatballs. Combine ground pork, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and salt and pepper in a bowl. Form mixture into ½-1-inch meatballs. Drop the meatballs into the simmering soup and cook for 5 minutes. Add the green beans and chick peas and cook an additional 5 minutes.

Serve with bread or homemade muffins. Italian Wedding Soup can be frozen in small portions for terrific warm-up lunches or after school snacks.

Creative Commons License photo credit: SummerTomato

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...