Thank you so much to all of my readers that have reached out to me with support! It has been a great blessing to know that there are prayers being said for our family and our health.
We are now halfway through the pregnancy – give or take depending on how late the baby arrives 😉 – and things are going well. We had our anatomy scan a couple of weeks ago, and the baby is actually measuring a little bit ahead of where it should be but they didn’t change my due date at all. But the baby is doing great! Ten fingers, ten toes, a healthy heartbeat and moving like crazy! We’ve decided NOT to find out if the baby is a boy or a girl – some surprises are just too good to get early! We actually didn’t find out what our first was until his birth day either and I loved having that to look forward to.
I have continued to have hypothyroid symptoms during the pregnancy – and let’s face it a lot of pregnancy symptoms and hypothyroid symptoms are the same. But I have been getting my labs drawn and kept in touch with my Endocrinologist. I have started to have some concerns with how much experience she has treating patients during pregnancy with Thyroid Cancer though. So I have reached out to a couple of other doctors in the area to get second opinions. I think it’s especially important to use as many resources as possible to make sure that I am getting the best care that I can to keep both me and the baby healthy. My days of not advocating for better care are behind me!
I also had a midwife appointment about two weeks ago, and she said everything is looking great. Every time I go for an appointment I feel more and more secure and at peace with my decision of care providers for birthing. I haven’t met a midwife in the practice yet that has not been supportive of our plans for VBAC.
It seems amazing that I have already made it to 20 weeks! It seems like just yesterday that we found out we were expecting again! I am excited to see what the rest of the pregnancy will hold for us as we wait to welcome the next member of our family.
I have been struggling with a condition called Hypothyroidism since 2005. This happens when your Thyroid gland, located in the lower front of your neck, does not produce enough thyroid hormones. This can cause symptoms including fatigue, muscle pain, weight gain or difficulty losing weight, constipation, dry skin and scalp, decreased libido, irregular menstrual cycle and more. Thyroid hormone is essential for the optimal function of every system in the body.
Over the past few years, I had been receiving treatment from the military hospital system, but the majority of my symptoms were dismissed because my lab test for Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) fell within the normal range whether I was on thyroid medication or not. After I had my son, they dismissed my symptoms as Post Partum Depression (PPD) and refused to give me thyroid medication at all. For the next year and a half I struggled to stay ahead of the exhaustion and the weight gain – even while training for my first full marathon.
Since moving to our current duty station, I have been able to see a new Primary Care Provider who has been supportive and thorough. During my first appointment with her she patiently listened to me and my concerns. She ordered a complete set of Thyroid labs to include not only TSH, but also the Thyroid hormones T3 and T4, thyroid antibodies, and even a cortisol test, to get a complete picture of my thyroid function. More importantly though, she also ordered a Thyroid Ultrasound to check for nodules, cysts, or tumors. She said that there was probably no issue, but “shame on me if I miss it!”
On June 2, I went for the ultrasound and they discovered a large growth on the right lobe of my Thyroid. It measured 2.6 cm long and 1.5 cm wide with coarse calcification. Based on those markers of size and the calcification, she refered me to an Endocrinologist to get a Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA) Biopsy. I immediately called the Endo and set up the first available appointment that they had – July 10!
It was hard waiting a month to get more answers. Especially when researching more about Thyroid nodules and cancer.
After the long wait, my husband and I made the hour drive to the specialist in the hopes if getting more answers.The Endo went over my family history including all relatives with Thyroid dysfunction. She then explained more about the biopsy process. There are three results that can come from a Thyroid FNA. Malignancy, benign, or inconclusive. Malignancy indicates Thyroid cancer and the standard of care is either a full or partial thyroidectomy followed by radiation treatment. Inconclusive results would warrant additional FNA to try to get a better tissue sample, and monitoring the growth of the nodule. It can lead to a partial or full thyroidectomy. A benign result would mean that they would watch the growth every six months to a year to ensure that it isn’t growing rapidly or changing. After explaining all of this, she went on to explain that she was in a new office and did not have the equipment there to do an FNA. So after a month of waiting, I had to call and make an appointment at a different branch of the practice to get the biopsy. The soonest that they can see me is August 14, over two and a half months after they originally found the growth.
As we continue to wait for answers, the endocrinologist is keeping a close eye on all of my Thyroid hormone levels.
For as upset and scared as I was when the nodule was discovered, it was also very validating to me. After years of having doctors dismiss my concerns regarding my health, there was finally proof that there was a source of my symptoms and they could no longer be dismissed and ignored.
We are staying as optimistic as possible and we are praying for healing every day. I will continue to post updates as we find out more.
Most mothers in the US chose to use a Obstetritian or Midwife in a hospital setting, especially mothers who are attempting a Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC). While the choice between OB or midwife is important, it is also important to consider if you would like additional support by a doula or a monitrice. Here, I will talk about both doula and monitrice options and compare the benefits of both.
What is a Doula?
According to the DONA International, an international non-profit organization that certifies Doulas, a Doula is “a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.” Studies have shown that when doulas attend birth, labors are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily. Doulas assist women in preparing for and carrying out her plans for birth, which includes staying with the woman throughout the labor, facilitating communication between the laboring woman, her partner and her clinical care providers. Perhaps the most important aspect is helping the woman get the information she needs to make informed decisions during labor.
Doula services can be sought through individuals, but there are also Doula groups in many cities. The cost of a doula varies based on location, according to costhelper.com, prices can range from $250 in low price areas to as high as $1500. The national average is $600-700.
What is a Monitrice?
According to CHOICE, the Center for Humane Options in Childbirth Experiences, a Monitrice is a woman trained to provide support not only during childbirth but also throughout the course of your pregnancy. A monitrice is similar to a doula, but there are some added benefits. A monitrice does clinical skills for you at home before going to the hospital. She is able to listen to fetal heart tones, check your dilation, and take your blood pressure.
There are no national averages of cost available online, but because of the increased level of care associated with a Monitrice, I assume the cost would be more than a Doula.
How do I know what is right for me?
Both a Doula and a Monitrice provide supportive, mother centered care during labor and delivery. However, if you are a first time mom planning a hospital birth or pursuing a Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC), you may want to consider a Monitrice, as their additional skills will give you peace of mind to stay at home to labor for as long as possible before going to the hospital.
How do I find a Doula or Monitrice?
To find a Doula, you can go to websites like Doula Match or DONA to find a list of providers near you. It can be a bit more challenging to find a Monitrice. There is no overall certification process for Monitrice services, and many of them are either Midwives who sometimes offer those services, or apprentice Midwives who have already learned some clinical skills. Home birth midwives in your area would be the best place to start in finding a Monitrice.
What should I ask?
Once you have found a list of providers in your area, read their biographies and see if you think they might be a good fit. Narrow your list down to three or four providers if you can. Then, meet with them to talk about your expectations, what kind of birth you would like to have, and ask them questions about their experience. It is important to ask them for referrals, not only from clients that they know had a good birth experience, but also from clients that had things that went unexpectedly. Other questions to ask include:
What training have you had? (If a doula is certified, you might consider checking with the organization.)
Do you have one or more backup doulas for times when you are not available? May we meet her/them?
What is your fee, what does it include and what are your refund policies?
What experience do you have as a Doula/Monitrice?
What is your philosophy about birth and supporting women and their partners through labor?
May we meet to discuss our birth plans and the role you will play in supporting me through birth?
May we call you with questions or concerns before and after the birth?
When do you try to join women in labor? Do you come to our home or meet us at the place of birth?
Do you meet with us after the birth to review the labor and answer questions?
It’s YOUR birth.
Remember that you have the power to plan for the birth that you envision for yourself. Although that doesn’t always mean that it will all go according to that plan, having the right support present can make a significant difference.
Happy National Physical Fitness and Sports Month!
May is a great time to get more active and get outside. I know a lot of people set new goals for these things back in January, and nowis another great opportunity to get off the couch and get active! The weather is warming up, sports teams are forming at your local gym or YMCA for leagues, and the race season is really starting to open up!
This time last year, I was just starting out on my goal of running my first Full Marathon. Signing up for a big race that I had never done before was a big boost to my motivation! It was a catalyst for me as I worked to recover from Traumatic Birth and improve my overall health. I knew that if I could run a marathon, I could do anything! I know without a doubt that I am healthier and happier now than when I started, and I want that for all of you too!
If you are on the fence right now about getting more active and getting healthier, I challenge you to go and sign up for a race near you! Whether it is a Marathon, Half Marathon 10K or even a 5K, having a goal on your calendar that you’re working towards is a great way to push yourself to get out there and run.
Since running the Disney World Marathon in January, I’ll be honest that it has been hard to keep up with working out and running. Excuses that I’ve used to avoid running since moving to the great white north in February include:
- It’s too cold out to run
- I don’t have anyone to run with
- I don’t have anyone to watch my toddler
- I don’t have a jogging stroller
All of this changes this month! My husband has been on a great transformation the past few months and we have decided to start training for our Fastest 5K goal together! He blessed me with an awesome Baby Jogger stroller for Valentine’s Day this winter (so romantic, eh?) so there’s no reason why we can’t go out and enjoy the evening as a family and get healthier. We have registered for a 5K on the 4th of July to run as a family and our goal is to run it in 30 minutes or less!
I am so excited to start this goal with him. He had struggled since getting out the Army with staying healthy and active, and since January he has been kicking butt and taking names – as well as losing a significant amount of weight! He is so supportive and encouraging, and I have no doubt that we are going to crush this goal together. I am also feeling so blessed that we can start to set this example for our toddler so that as he grows he knows how awesome it is to stay in shape and be active.
What goals are you going to set for this summer? Let me know below, and we can help keep each other motivated!
For more information on National Physical Fitness and Sports month visit http://healthfinder.gov/NHO/PDFs/MayNHOToolkit.pdf
Recently there was a video that went viral regarding a job posting for “The Toughest Job in the World,” spoiler alert: it was for being a Mom. It was specifically for those Moms who dedicate every waking moment (apparently without any breaks, sleep or designated meals) to being the care giver to their children, aka the Stay at Home Mom. But what about all those amazing men out there who do all of those things? Yes, I realize that this video – designed as an advertisement for a greeting card company – was for Mother’s Day, but I think that it perpetuates the stereotype that women will be the primary care giver, and not men. And this is simply not the case. It excludes an entire segment of an occupation based on gender alone.
I don’t think that a lot of people realize how much prejudice there can be surrounding Stay at Home Dads compared to Stay at Home Moms. I have seen my husband face this time and time again. More than once he has been treated as a second rate parent by strangers and had people say and do incredibly rude and demeaning things. Many people probably don’t even realize that they are perpetuating the stereotype that men aren’t good parents and that women have to do all of the care giving. It is so ingrained in our society, that many don’t know how many priviledges are given to women compared to men in regards to daily parenting activities.
Here is a short (not all inclusive) list of things that SAHM are privileged to have that many SAHD do not have, simply because they are male.
As a SAHM:
1. I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of other Stay at Home Parents of my gender most of the time.
2. I can go shopping alone with my child most of the time without strangers assuming I have kidnapped said child.
3. I can turn on the television or open the most recent parenting magazine and find other Stay at Home Parents of my gender represented.
4. I can attend events designed for parents and children to attend together and know that there will be another Stay at Home Parent of my gender in attendance (ie Toddler and Me Music, Story Time at the Library, Tumble Time for Toddlers, Swim Lessons, etc)
5. I can let my child fuss in public without strangers making comments about my genders lack of parenting instinct.
6. I can change a diaper without being called a credit to my gender.
7. I can spend time with and play with my child without being called a credit to my gender.
8. I can arrange for a play date with other parents without people questioning my relationship fidelity or motives.
9. I am not asked to speak for all the people of my gender in the Stay at Home Parenting role.
10. I can come home from most parent organization meetings I belong to feeling somewhat tied in, rather than isolated, out-of-place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance, or feared.
11. I can be assured that there will be a diaper changing station in the restroom for my gender at the restaurant.
12. I can find and join a social media support group for parents of my gender in my city, usually there are multiple to choose from.
13. I can answer questions regarding my childs preferences for foods, clothes, toys and more without my answer being second guessed due to my gender.
14. I can complain about how insanely crabby my kid was all day to other parents without it being attributed to my lack of experience because of my gender.
15. I can find a diaper bag/baby carrier etc that reflects my personal style with ease at most baby stores or large box stores.
16. I can care for my child while my co-parent is at work and not have people joke that I am babysitting.
17. I can slack off on my parenting duties without the risk of being labled a dead beat.
Think about how your life as a parent would be effected if you couldn’t do all of those things. How supported would you feel? How included would you feel in the parenting community? Have you ever treated a SAHD like a second rate parent – even if unintentional? What can we do to change this mindset in our lives?
*edited to add #16 and 17.
And today, for your inspiration, I present to you some fanfare. A speech given by President Ronald Reagan.
“Now let’s set the record straight. There’s no argument over the choice between peace and war, but there’s only one guaranteed way you can have peace — and you can have it in the next second — surrender.
Admittedly, there’s a risk in any course we follow other than this, but every lesson of history tells us that the greater risk lies in appeasement, and this is the specter our well-meaning liberal friends refuse to face — that their policy of acc…ommodation is appeasement, and it gives no choice between peace and war, only between fight or surrender. If we continue to accommodate, continue to back and retreat, eventually we have to face the final demand — the ultimatum. And what then — when Nikita Khrushchev has told his people he knows what our answer will be? He has told them that we’re retreating under the pressure of the Cold War, and someday when the time comes to deliver the final ultimatum, our surrender will be voluntary, because by that time we will have been weakened from within spiritually, morally, and economically. He believes this because from our side he’s heard voices pleading for “peace at any price” or “better Red than dead,” or as one commentator put it, he’d rather “live on his knees than die on his feet.” And therein lies the road to war, because those voices don’t speak for the rest of us.
You and I know and do not believe that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. If nothing in life is worth dying for, when did this begin — just in the face of this enemy? Or should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery under the pharaohs? Should Christ have refused the cross? Should the patriots at Concord Bridge have thrown down their guns and refused to fire the shot heard ’round the world? The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honored dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis didn’t die in vain. Where, then, is the road to peace? Well it’s a simple answer after all.
You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, “There is a price we will not pay.” “There is a point beyond which they must not advance.” And this — this is the meaning in the phrase of Barry Goldwater’s “peace through strength.” Winston Churchill said, “The destiny of man is not measured by material computations. When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we’re spirits — not animals.” And he said, “There’s something going on in time and space, and beyond time and space, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty.”
You and I have a rendezvous with destiny.
We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness” – Ronald Reagan
Critical thinking is a big topic in the military community. We are educating our leaders on what critical thinking is, how to apply it, and how it can improve our decision making processes. It was during one of these sessions this week that my mind began to wander a bit, and wonder how I could apply these skills to other areas of my life. Especially as a parent, critical thinking skills can be a valuable tool to discern the information that is given to us from others, as well as to ensure that we are making educated choices about our families.
“Critical thinking is the disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.” -Dr. Richard Paul
In other words, we need to question information that was given to us in order to make better decisions.
There are three things that can help increase our critical thinking skills including self-awareness, critical reasoning, and reflective thinking. First, self-awareness is knowing your own biases, strengths and weaknesses and how these might effect your decision making process. Knowing that I am biased in favor natural remedies, and what many people call attachment parenting, and how that bias effects my interpretation of parenting advice is an important tool in researching additional topics to ensure that I broaden my knowledge. Second, critical reasoning is the process of solving problems, finding the causes to problems, and making good judgements. Critical reasoning includes making sure that we investigate the information that is given to us to ensure that we are getting a well rounded picture of the information, and not taking the presented data as Truth without investigation. Third, reflective thinking is learning from our past experiences. By learning from our own experiences we are able to improve our futures by not making the same mistakes twice. Using these three concepts can help us to approach different parenting decisions in a rational and logical way to make the best decisions for our families.
Another aspect of critical thinking is being able to recognize the fallacies in arguments that are used to try to persuade us to make a decision. There are many types of fallacies including:
- Hasty judgement – Making assumptions about a whole group or range of cases based on a sample that is inadequate
- Missing the point – The premises of an argument do support a particular conclusion—but not the conclusion that the arguer actually draws.
- Post Hoc or False Cause – Assuming that because B comes after A, A caused B.
- Slippery Slope – The arguer claims that a sort of chain reaction, usually ending in some dire consequence, will take place, but there’s really not enough evidence for that assumption.
- Weak Analogy – two things that are being compared aren’t really alike in the relevant respects,
- Appeal to Authority – get readers to agree with us simply by impressing them with a famous name or by appealing to a supposed authority who really isn’t much of an expert,
- Ad Populum or Speaking for Everyone – the arguer takes advantage of the desire most people have to be liked and to fit in with others
- Ad Hominem and Tu quoque (personal attacks) – focus our attention on people rather than on arguments or evidence
- Appeal to Pity – tries to get people to accept a conclusion by making them feel sorry for someone
- Appeal to Ignorance – the arguer basically says, “Look, there’s no conclusive evidence on the issue at hand. Therefore, you should accept my conclusion on this issue.”
- Straw Man – the arguer sets up a wimpy version of the opponent’s position and tries to score points by knocking it down.
- Red Herring – Partway through an argument, the arguer goes off on a tangent, raising a side issue that distracts the audience from what’s really at stake.
- False Dichotomy – the arguer sets up the situation so it looks like there are only two choices. The arguer then eliminates one of the choices, so it seems that we are left with only one option: the one the arguer wanted us to pick in the first place.
- Begging the Question – relies on a premise that says the same thing as the conclusion (which you might hear referred to as “being circular” or “circular reasoning”)
- Equivocation – sliding between two or more different meanings of a single word or phrase that is important to the argument
I realize that this isn’t an in depth explanation of each, but a few of these caught my eye as being used by parents to try to convince others to make the same decisions that they did. Appeal to ignorance is used by vaccine advocates by saying that they haven’t proved vaccines to be unsafe, so therefore they must be safe. Ad Hominem and tuquoque fallacies have been prevalent recently regarding the hiring of Jenny McCarthy on the television show The View. An appeal to pity might be used to try to tell you to forward face your child’s car seat sooner despite research proving that rear facing to the age of four is absolutely safer, “well, they must be so bored facing backwards, they’d be much happier forward facing!” Ad Populum fallacies are used to encourage routine infant circumcision in that “he wouldn’t want to look different, he’ll be made fun of.”
And even as I write those examples, I realize that I have used the same types of fallacies in my arguments for natural living and advocating different topics. It has been eye opening this week to hear about these concepts. I hope to grow more in my critical thinking skills and also in my research skills to ensure that I can make logical decisions based upon reliable research.
Here are some general tips for finding fallacies in your own arguments:
- Pretend you disagree with the conclusion you’re defending. What parts of the argument would now seem fishy to you? What parts would seem easiest to attack? Give special attention to strengthening those parts.
- List your main points; under each one, list the evidence you have for it. Seeing your claims and evidence laid out this way may make you realize that you have no good evidence for a particular claim, or it may help you look more critically at the evidence you’re using.
- Learn which types of fallacies you’re especially prone to, and be careful to check for them in your work. Some writers make lots of appeals to authority; others are more likely to rely on weak analogies or set up straw men. Read over some of your old papers to see if there’s a particular kind of fallacy you need to watch out for.
- Be aware that broad claims need more proof than narrow ones. Claims that use sweeping words like “all,” “no,” “none,” “every,” “always,” “never,” “no one,” and “everyone” are sometimes appropriate—but they require a lot more proof than less- sweeping claims that use words like “some,” “many,” “few,” “sometimes,” “usually,” and so forth.
- Double check your characterizations of others, especially your opponents, to be sure they are accurate and fair.
I hope to apply these to my writing in the future to be a well balanced and well researched advocate as well. Have you caught yourself using a fallacy when giving parenting advice to others? How have you changed your parenting approach to avoid fallacies in the past?