About Me

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I am a new parent. My interests are secularism, learning, parenting, religion, career planning, and adult education.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Nursery Completed!

Just put the finishing touches on the nursery - here's how it looks! I wish I were a better photographer - the walls are a warmer beige - not white.

Sooooooooooo excited! Four weeks till D-Day!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Remembering a Loss doesn't always go as planned. Surprise, surprise right?

Nothing makes us realize this more than experiencing an unexpected loss. Last year, I experienced a loss that I wasn't expecting - it was a pregnancy loss - an early one - but a loss all the same. Just a few weeks after celebrating becoming pregnant, I had an early miscarriage. I never thought it would happen to me - even though the odds of it happening to anyone are basically a 1 in 4 shot. Think about that for a second - miscarriages are so common that they happen in 1 in 4 pregnancies - not to 1 in 4 women - but in 1 of 4 pregnancies. And yet, we hear about them so little. I missed National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day earlier this month, but today is my own remembrance day.

One year ago, I lost my first pregnancy. I was devastated, and rightfully so. I have always wanted to have children, and I was sooooooooo excited to be pregnant. However, once I got through the first week of tears and sadness, I started trying to feel better and tried to take comfort in the fact that I would still have children one day. I would still experience moments of sadness, sometimes very unexpectedly, but I thought I was handling things fine and was "getting over it". About three months later, after a couple of bad days, unexplained tears, and what I wanted to chalk up to hormonal issues, I called the number of a Pregnancy Bereavement Counsellor to see if I was "normal". It was honestly one of the best things I have ever done.

So I went to speak with a woman at the hospital about how these unexpected feelings kept creeping up on me and surprising me at inopportune moments. I explained that every time I thought I was "done" mourning my loss, a few days later a new wave of grief or anger would sweep over me - even when I wasn't thinking about the pregnancy or anything baby-related. The counsellor explained to me that because we live in a relatively healthy culture and have just long life-expectancies that many people do not experience loss very often and are very unfamiliar is the impact that grief and loss can have on them over the long term. This is even more true of pregnancy loss because the loss is more ambiguous than the death of someone we have already met and loved - like a mother, father, grandfather, etc. Also, when people in our lives die, we have rituals and ceremonies to share our grief as part of a community. Families who experience early pregnancy loss often don't have these and are left to grieve without the comforts of ritual, ceremony, and community - unless they create their own.

My experience is that mourning doesn't have a beginning and an ending, we never really forget the people who leave us, but the separation does become less painful with time, and eventually we can forget the pain and just remember the joy that person brought to our lives. Once I realized that I might never be "done" greiving my lost pregnancy and I wouldn't "just get over it", I didn't get as many unexpected attacks of grief or anger. When my mind or heart wanders across the memory of my first pregnancy,  I welcome whatever feelings are still there - they honour the excitement and attachment I had towards impending motherhood, but they also honour that I loved that developing embryo and all the hope and excitement it provided me - if only for a short time. And although I am excited about the impending arrival of my first child - hopefully the result of a successful/happy completion of my second pregnancy in just a few weeks, I will always remember the dream that was created and dashed with my first. My first pregnancy experience has left a mark on my heart and soul - one I will always remember.

If you have experienced a pregnancy loss and need help coping with your loss, please check with your local hospital to see if they can refer you to someone to talk to - it helped me immensely.

If you know someone who has recently experienced a pregnancy loss - here are a few helpful tips for how to help.

  • Let the greiving mom express her feelings without comment and without trying to make her feel better. A shoulder to cry on, a hug, or a ear to vent into is all she needs.
  • Say you are sorry for their loss - and leave it at that.
  • Do not say any of the following - however well-intentioned - they are tough to hear:
"You can always try again." - Many women can go on to try again after a miscarriage, and indeed many find comfort in that idea after time. However, for someone grieving a recent loss, one baby does not replace another. Each loss needs to be dealt with individually and the woman needs to think about trying again on her own time when she is ready.
"You wouldn't want a deformed or disabled baby anyway" or "It was for the best"  - Never speculate that a miscarriage was for the best. Many women feel that they would have wanted their baby no matter what. After all, when a deformed or disabled child is born, no one says “boy, I bet you wished you had miscarried.”
"Everything will be fine next time." - Everyone hopes that everything will be fine in the next pregnancy, but sometimes it isn't. And no one can predict who will go on to have recurrent miscarriages. Plus, you cannot stop a women from worrying that it will happen again, even when she does concieve again. I know that even at 36 weeks pregnant, I am still worried something will go wrong.
"It happened because _______." - Please avoid speculating over what caused the miscarriage. No one really knows. Unless the woman pursues medical testing, which usually happens only after recurrent miscarriages, no one can say what caused the loss. And often, regardless of the reason, it doesn’t matter because the loss has already happened and we can’t change the past.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What skepticism means to me...

Image by Image Editor

Recently, a commenter said that:

"The very definition of being a skeptic is questioning the majority, not questioning the skeptic with so called skepticism."

This is not what I am when I say I am a skeptic. So perhaps I should clarify.

While questioning is an incredibly important part of skepticism, I don't think that it only applies to questioning the majority - why shouldn't we also question the fringe? A wise person once said, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." The burden of proof or evidence lies with the person making the extraordinary claim. Who is to say what we can and can't be skeptical about? Why shouldn't I question "the skeptic"? I can question anything I want to - including skeptics who disagree with me.

Questioning is an important component of critical thinking but there are a couple of other key components to skepticism and critical thinking. For myself, the definition provided by the Skeptics Society works best and is what I mean when I say I am a skeptic:

Skepticism is a provisional approach to claims. It is the application of reason to any and all ideas — no sacred cows allowed. In other words, skepticism is a method, not a position. Ideally, skeptics do not go into an investigation closed to the possibility that a phenomenon might be real or that a claim might be true. When we say we are “skeptical,” we mean that we must see compelling evidence before we believe.

Modern skepticism is embodied in the scientific method, which involves gathering data to formulate and test naturalistic explanations for natural phenomena. A claim becomes factual when it is confirmed to such an extent it would be reasonable to offer temporary agreement. But all facts in science are provisional and subject to challenge, and therefore skepticism is a method leading to provisional conclusions. Some claims, such as water dowsing, ESP, and creationism, have been tested (and failed the tests) often enough that we can provisionally conclude that they are not valid. Other claims, such as hypnosis, the origins of language, and black holes, have been tested but results are inconclusive so we must continue formulating and testing hypotheses and theories until we can reach a provisional conclusion.
The key to skepticism is to continuously and vigorously apply the methods of science to navigate the treacherous straits between “know nothing” skepticism and “anything goes” credulity.

I am not saying that the mainstream shouldn't be questioned. There have been those in our history who have questioned the mainstream and by providing evidence and answering directly the criticism of naysayers have changed the way we view the world - therefore becoming mainstream.

One example would be Galileo who championed the theory of Copernicanism and through his observations of the solar systems came to promote the idea that the earth moves around the sun - not the other way around. Although he was forced by the Catholic Church to recant, other scientists continued to investigate the solar system and found that he was right - evidence supported his views and eventually it became mainstream to believe that the Sun is the center of our solar system and the planets, including earth, move around it. Science and skepticism is a method for learning about the world around us in a provisional, changing sense. I am open to new ideas - but before I provisionally accept them as true - I would like to see evidence.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pregnancy/Life Update

Things have been very busy lately. The first half of October has been such a blurr with being a bridesmaid in an out-of-town wedding, putting a nursery together, shopping for baby, and being 8 months pregnant, tired, uncomfortable, emotional, and cranky - there hasn't been much time for time for writing.

The Nursery

We are not quite done the nursery yet - we plan on adding a wall shelf, some type of storage area for books/toys, and curtains, but so far things are coming together nicely. We've gone for neutral colours and an understated jungle theme. Here are some progress pics:

The rocking chair was handed down from my dad -
who bought this to rock me to sleep when I was a baby.

The Wedding

Dear friends of ours got married recently at the beautiful Banff Springs Hotel and I had the priviledge of standing up for a dear friend as her matron of honor. It was well worth the trip, as the wedding was beautiful, romantic, fun, and elegant - everything my friend wanted and it was great to be part of her day. Even with the swollen feet and aching abdominal muscles. Sitting in a car for long periods, eating out for almost every meal, late nights, and taking care of a husband who had waayyyyyy too much fun is not recommended this late in pregnancy - but it was worth it and I loved every minute of it. Here are some pics:

The Pregnancy

So far, so good. My right hip has been bothering me along with a searing pain just under my belly button has made walking and standing for long periods very uncomfortable. I have seen my Dr. about the searing pain and apparently my abdominal muscles are being stretched by my growing uterus/baby which could result in muscle separation/gap and/or a hernia - I'm hoping neither of these things happen so I have decided to take some vacation days prior to start my mat. leave which means I'll have three weeks at home prior to my due date. Only 13 work days left - whoo hoo!

The gestational diabetes is going okay, although without my daily walks (due to the pain) its getting harder to control my blood sugars. I have to be stricter with my diet than I would like, but so far I am avoiding insulin. We'll see if that lasts. I have taken up going to the pool for exercise but I can't make it every day - walking was so much more convenient.

I am really starting to resent watching other people eat sweets and dessert. I had two birthdays to attend in September, my husband brought home a lemon mergueine pie (my favourite) a couple of weeks ago, at the wedding they served what looked like fantastic chocolate cheese cake, I've missed out on pumpkin and apple pies at family dinners, and oh - I'm just feeling a little sorry for myself. On the bright side, I'm staying within the recommended weight gain range for pregnant ladies - so I guess I should just focus on the positive.

And finally - I think pregnancy hormones are seriously messing with my emotional state. I am sooooooooo sensitive and weepy lately. I feel snappy/sad/annoyed lately for the silliest things - a small comment, a conversation that I brought up myself, stewing over something I read online or in the newspaper, bawling during last episode of Glee. It's just crazy! I mean, don't get me wrong, I am normally a pretty sensitive person, but let's just say that personality trait feels a little intensified lately. I'm hoping now that I don't have any major events or project looming that this might settle down - it could be the combination of stress, busy schedule, and pregnancy. The stress and busy schedule has eased up now.
Me and my bump!