To Purell or Not to Purell

Yesterday I took the kids to Panera for lunch.  While we were sitting there eating and watching it rain outside, I hear a Mom shouting at her child as her child tore out of the bathroom, “Don’t touch anything until you’ve had your hand sanitizer!!”  There was a sense of urgency in her voice.  It was evident that hand sanitizer is a DIRE priority in her opinion.

I realized how silly she sounded when I think back to my childhood.  We didn’t have hand sanitizer.  What we did have was good old soap and water.  Sometimes just water!  I survived.  We all did.  However, I’m JUST as guilty as this anonymous mother is of slathering that stuff all over my kids’ hands as well as my own.  It’s almost as if we believe that it puts a magical barrier around our children and ourselves to protect us from what evil lurks on doorknobs, tabletops and handrails.

I’m sure you’ve all heard the conflicting information about hand sanitizers.  Does it really work?  Does it subject us to any “superbugs”?  It’s up to you to decide what and who you believe.  Here’s a few links to check out:

The Myths vs. The Facts
Hand Sanitizers vs. Soap and Water

Last but not least, here’s what the CDC has to say about clean hands and how to get them:  Handwashing 

It would seem that good old soap and water is good enough!

P.S. Hey, if you like this post…Click HERE to vote for me @Top Mommy Blogs 


It takes one to know one

I feel like there is a certain stigma attached to women who are non-custodial moms.  Before I fell into this category, I used to wonder quietly…”I wonder what she did to lose her kids?”  Are non-custodial moms all bad?  Of course not!  Before I became one, I assumed that moms who didn’t have custody of their children either didn’t want their children, or had their children stolen by fathers who just vanished into thin air with the kids.

Now I know the difference.  Since I lost custody of my three older children, I have learned that there are THOUSANDS of women who have lost custody of their children at the hands of an imperfect family court system.  Justice was supposed to be about, well, Justice!  These days, Justice might still be blind, but her vision gets miraculously clear when money is shoved in her face.  He who has the most expensive attorney wins!  Money can’t buy you happiness, but it sure as heck can buy you a judge…and a guardian ad litem if you so choose.  Unfortunately for me, and my kids, I couldn’t afford to bankroll either of them.  But, I digress.

I’ve found myself fibbing out in public, more so lately than ever.  People will see me with Tristan and ask, “Is he your first?” I proudly say, “No, he’s my FOURTH!”  Usually I get an “Oh my, you don’t look old enough to have four!”, followed by a, “How did you get a kitchen pass to leave the others at home?”  Sometimes I tell them they’re with their dad, and they will assume that means at home, where I live.  Sometimes I just tell them that the other three are in school all day.  (Which isn’t a lie at all…they really are in school all day…just in school 900 miles away).  I just don’t like to get into the story of how it all happened.  Because trust me, it would take a while to explain it.  One day I will put it all in my memoir, but for now…I just really don’t like to get into the details.  Especially with people I hardly know.  On more than one occasion, I have mentioned that I have three older children who live out of state with their dad.  That remark usually earns me the slot of “deadbeat mom” and I’m dismissed from that person’s realm of friendship.  I assure you, I’m no deadbeat.  I pay child support like any absent parent should.  I see my kids regularly, often more than what the custody arrangement calls for.  I even chaperon field trips with them from time to time.  Yet, still, it is assumed by most people who don’t know me, or my situation, that I’m a bad mom because I moved away from my children.

The truth is, the courts actually do NOT favor the mother.  Perhaps the next time you come across a mom who doesn’t have custody of her children you’ll pause before rushing to judge.  In all likelihood, that choice was made by an imperfect court who knew neither her or her children, not by the mom herself.  In the meantime, I’ve come to realize that it doesn’t really matter what other people think, and not everybody I meet needs to hear the whole story.  So, for now, the little white lies to the strangers don’t really matter.  Those who are closest to me know what happened, and the struggle I went through with my choice to relocate.  Those who were my true friends stood behind me and supported me through it.  My children will one day learn the circumstances of it all as well, when they’re old enough to understand.  Until then, I have to continue to ensure that they know how much I love them and that my doors are always open, whenever they are able to decide for themselves in front of the courts just where they want to live, and with whom.  It may not happen until they’re 18.  It could happen sooner.  Who knows?

Tristan’s Amazing Home Birth Story

This post is soooooo long overdue.  My handsome little man will be 4 months old in just a few hours.  I can’t believe how fast the time has gone!  It all began about 2:30 a.m. on October 8th.  I was fast approaching two weeks past my “due” date, and growing increasingly anxious with each day.  Then something started to happen.  It all began about 2:30 a.m. on October 8th.  I woke up to run to the bathroom in the middle of the night for probably the 9 gazillionth time during this pregnancy.  When I laid back down, I thought I felt a slight twinge of a contraction.  I figured I was probably just imagining things again, so I forced myself to go back to sleep.  When I woke up early the next morning, I was still feeling the same type of twinge…and thinking it might be just a little bit stronger.  Hmmm…Is today going to be the day??  I wondered.
I ate some breakfast and went about my day.  I tried to work, but I remember being VERY easily distracted.  I had some homework that needed to get done, but again…distracted!  So, I decided to run out and do a few errands with my mom who was in town, awaiting Tristan’s arrival with me and Tommy.  I drove us to Kohl’s and we walked around and did some shopping.  I picked up a bunch of stuff for Tommy’s future new home in Afghanistan–sheets, towels, etc.  I found a couple of adorable baby outfits that I just had to have for Tristan.  Mom picked out a couple of tops for herself.  Oh, and I found a great robe that would be awesome for right after the birth.   While we were walking around the store I found myself having to pause to breathe a little bit through the contractions.  At this point I was sure I was having contractions, but I was still thinking that it was going to stop and not progress.

When we got home, I was putting everything away, and Mom had already volunteered to make dinner-beef and broccoli out of the Weight Watchers cookbook.  Tommy had been checking in with me all day via telephone and was home for the day from work.  I went into my office to finish up the last assignments for the week for school, all the while having to stop and breathe through those contractions.  I don’t remember exactly what I was working on, but I DO remember that I felt a lot of pressure to get it done!  I finally finished up the assignment and shut down my laptop for the evening.  Mom finished dinner and I was REALLY interested in eating…until I walked into the kitchen.  All of a sudden I decided it might NOT be such a great idea to chow down at dinner.  So, I retreated to my bedroom and called my midwife instead.

Birth Bed all prepped

Pam was wonderful.  When I called her, she at first told me to call her back when they ( contractions ) got really hard.  She was out running errands herself.  Then she called me back within the hour (I’d say it was around 7 pm by now) to tell me she could come whenever I was ready.  I told her we would call her in a little while.   I started to really time my contractions at this point.  I was feeling very anxious, not really knowing what to expect.  Even though I had three other children, never had I attempted to give birth at home, without an epidural or any other “modern” medical treatments.  Tommy was starting to get really attentive towards me and help me through the contractions.  Then around 9 pm I asked Tommy to call Pam and let her know I needed her.  She was at my house with her daughter and assistant, Muraiha, within 15 minutes.  They brought all their equipment in, with Tommy’s help, and began to set up shop in the bedroom.  I continued to bounce away on my exercise ball, whilst wearing my snuggie.  What a sight I was!

Laboring on the ball with my snuggie

Pam came out and was sitting in the living room, watching me work through the contractions.  I remember her telling me to try to relax during the contraction and not tense up so much.  Boy, that was really tough to do!  I had to put all of my effort and concentration into that task.  Pam decided it would probably be a while, and she had forgotten her book at home, so she asked if I minded if she ran home to get her book.  I was fine with that, and she left Muraiha there to keep an eye on things.

Soon after Pam left, I asked Muraiha to check me.  I was really curious as to how far I had come, and how much further I would have to go.  By now it was around 10 pm.  Muraiha checked me and she said I was around 3-4 cm.  Bummer!  I decided I needed a good soak in the bath to help get me through the contractions.

Relaxing in the bath

Tommy was amazing.  He held my hand through the contractions, even through my “death grip”.  He heated the water up when I asked, ran and got the fan for me when I got too warm, kept me covered with a warm towel when I got the chills, and continued to time the contractions for me.  At this point, timing wasn’t really necessary, but it was helping me to stay in a rhythm and pass the time quickly.  Before I knew it, it was 1 am. I had been in that bath for nearly 3 hours!  During that time, Pam had come back and was continuing to check the baby’s heartbeat and check in on Tommy and I to see how we were doing.  I was feeling a lot of pressure, and the jets were starting to really irritate me during the contractions–both the pressure of them and the noise of them.  I decided I was ready to get out!  Tommy helped me out and helped me to get dressed.  I decided I wanted to bounce on the ball, so he rolled up his mechanic’s stool behind me and applied lots of pressure to my hips and lower back, and was constantly massaging my neck and back in between contractions.

Some of the hardest work I've ever done

While he and I were in our bedroom “laboring”, my mom, Pam and Muraiha were out in the living room chatting and hanging out.  It was so peaceful here at home.  There were no intrusions, no loud noises…it was awesome.  I wouldn’t have known they were out there if Pam and Muraiha hadn’t been checking in on me every now and again.

Pam, Muraiha, and Mom (L to R)

I bounced away for quite some time and was getting zero relief between contractions.  I was starting to feel a ton of pressure and told Tommy to tell them that it was time to push.  Pam and Muraiha came back in to check me.  I was at 9 cm finally!  Pushing was just around the corner…I was exhausted, but excited at the same time.  I started out trying to push on my back, just because that is the only way I knew how.

First stages of pushing

This was clearly not going to work.  Gravity was working against me.  I asked Pam if I could change positions.  Muraiha suggested hands and knees, kind of like a squat.  Tommy supported the front side of me, while Pam and Muraiha applied counter pressure warm compresses with a little EVOO to help me out.  That felt AMAZING!  I pushed, and pushed, and pushed.  It didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere except tired, and fast.

I was getting lots of encouragement from Tommy…”you’re doing great babe…come on, push a little harder…you can do it…”  Oh my goodness it was driving me NUTS!  I just shushed him…”SSSHHHHHHHHHHH” I kept repeating.  He was like, “What?”.  I told him to be quiet.  He got the picture.  I was trying to be as nice as possible.  I didn’t want to be the mean, screaming lunatic that is so often portrayed in film and television in birth scenes.  And I CERTAINLY didn’t want to remake the scene from The Backup Plan with Jennifer Lopez.

I continued to push and finally felt like I was getting somewhere.  I dug my grips into Tommy’s shirt (and apparently his bladder, so he told me later) and pushed with everything I had left.  Finally!  Tristan was being born!!  Tristan entered this world at 3:50 am on October 9th, 2010!

The first picture ever taken of Tristan

Tommy was still in front of me, and I got myself turned around so he was sitting behind me, supporting me (as he had been throughout this entire labor…heck the entire pregnancy!).  Apparently he was snapping pictures too…one of the few men I know who can multi-task!

Daddy's first glimpses

What a joyous occasion!  Every ounce of tired left my body.  I was feeling such a rush!  I couldn’t believe at the amazing feat my body has just accomplished!

Looking stunned....definitely not stunning!

Tommy did his daddy duty and cut the cord…what a beautiful moment.

Tommy cutting the cord-so happy to give him this opportunity

I delivered the placenta, and in the meantime was attempting to nurse this beautiful little boy.

Tristan's first nursing session

Afterwards, Muraiha helped me into the shower so I could get cleaned up while Pam, Mom and Tommy got the bedroom cleaned up, bed stripped down and put back together and the laundry started.  When I got out of the shower, my room looked like nothing had ever happened.  All of Pam’s equipment was even packed up, with the exception of the few items they would need for Tristan’s exam.  Muraiha started to do Tristan’s exam once I got myself settled back into my cozy bed.

Tristan's Newborn Exam

The exam wasn’t rushed at all…it was so cool to experience birth from my favorite place…my bedroom.  I was so excited to find out how big my little man was.

Preparing for the weigh in

Oh my goodness…my little guy weighed in at 9 pounds!  I couldn’t believe it!  9 pounds and not a single solitary tear!  Thanks to Pam and Muraiha!!

9 pounds...does that really say 9 pounds??

Once the exam was done, Tommy and I were left to enjoy our new little family, in the peace and comfort of our home.  I honestly can’t compare this experience to anything else I’ve ever done.  This was Tommy’s first ever birth experience and I have to say he is definitely a home birth advocate now.  I would never do this any other way (unless medically necessary, of course) again.  I feel somewhat empowered by the whole experience, and I really feel that it brought Tommy and I even closer than we were before.  He was my rock during the labor, and I was so impressed with how he was there for me.

So in love with our new little guy

Tristan Davis Bowling
Born October 9, 2010 at home
3:50 am
9 lbs, 22 inches

I am special...I was born at home

Yes, I’m STILL pregnant!

Made with Love

When I found out I was pregnant, I couldn’t contain my excitement!  I wanted to tell everyone that I was expecting, and whenever anyone would ask me when I was due, I’d gladly tell them…September 25th!  I never thought I’d make it to my actual due date, as I hadn’t with any of my prior three children.  They all came at least a little early.  My daughter, who was my first, came 9 days early.  My second child came three days early.  My third child arrived two days early.  Ok, so I see the trend…they were getting closer and closer to my due date with each baby.  So I figured this little man would maybe be at least a day early.


Here I am, 3 days past my official “due date” and still no baby.  I keep telling myself that the due date is actually just a 4 week window that can be anywhere from 38-42 weeks, so I still have another week and a half until he’s “really” overdue.  However, when multiple phone calls and Facebook comments are coming in each day, sometimes by the hour, asking me if I’ve had the baby yet…it can start to get kind of annoying!  I’m wondering…what is wrong with me?  Why won’t this baby come out?  Do people really think that I would keep his birth all to myself and NOT tell them?

Then, there are the other people who ask me when I’m being induced since I’m overdue.  Ummm…there will be no induction unless there is some sort of medical necessity for it.  You know, as in, my life or his life is in jeopardy.  Certainly lack of patience is NOT seen as a medical reason for induction?

So, until he decides to make his appearance, I’m going to sit back and pretend to be calm, cool, collected and patient.  Even though I’m really none of those things.  I think my body knows that this will be my last baby and is trying to help me “savor” these last few days of pregnancy.  Honestly, I’ve really had enough…I have gained 40 pounds, I can’t eat certain things because of the heartburn, my hips ache at night so I have to change positions frequently…then when I do get comfortable I end up having to get up to pee for the 50th time that day, my stomach literally sits on my lap when I sit up in a chair, and my dog has decided that it’s fun to lick all the places I’ve been sitting in so that I return to a giant wet spot.  It’s getting a little old at this point!

Still, I feel a little guilty for feeling this way…as I know there are so many women that never make it this far and have babies that are born before they can survive, or are born so early that they spend months in the NICU, then months trying to play catch up at home.  I’m praying my little guy is healthy and since he’s calling the shots, I’m sure there is a reason whey he’s just not ready to meet his mommy and daddy yet.

Organic Parenting?

Finally, along with the anticipation of my 4th child, I have noticed that I have become what some people would refer to as “crunchy”.  Or you can just call me a granola gal.  But, please, please do not call me a tree-hugger.  I would like to reserve that name for the protesting hippies that live in Berkley, CA.  No offense.

No, I’m not a hippie.  I do not wear tie-dye shirts.  I do wash my hair daily.  I do not drive a VW Bus.  Nor do I smoke weed.  However, I do many things to help reduce my environmental impact.  We recycle.  Religiously.  If there is any chance it can be recycled, we throw it in the bin.

We also use reusable grocery bags.  They are AWESOME.  No longer do I have eight million plastic grocery bags piling up in my pantry.

We’re not perfect, because we do use paper towels and paper plates, and even plastic cups on occasion.  We’re working on it though.

One of the steps we have decided to take is to cloth diaper this baby we’re expecting.  I had a local business owner from Earth Angels Diaper Co. come by my home to give me a demo.  She brought several different brands of the diapers she carries with her and explained to me the benefits and downsides of each.  I was really impressed!  So was my husband.  I have never been so excited about diapering before!

The next thing I’ve contemplated is making our own baby food, when the time comes.  Williams-Sonoma carries this contraption that will steam the fruits/veggies and puree it afterwards.  Sweet!

We’ve also looked into buying an organic crib mattress.  Ok, maybe that’s taking it a bit far.  Or not.

Regardless, the husband and I are finding ways to honor our mother earth, starting with this Earth Day appropriate blog.

Happy Earth Day World!