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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Newtown, Connecticut Tribute 12/14/12

The names and birth dates of the victims:
Charlotte Bacon (2/22/06), 6 years old, female
Daniel Barden (9/25/05), 7 years old, male
Rachel Davino (7/17/83), Staff member, 29 years old, female
Olivia Engel (7/18/06), 6 years old, female
Josephine Gay (12/11/05), 7 years old, female
Ana M. Marquez-Greene (4/4/06), 6 years old, female
Dylan Hockley (3/8/06), 6 years old, male
Dawn Hochsprung (6/28/65), Principal, 47 years old, female
Madeleine F. Hsu (7/10/06), 6 years old, female
Catherine V. Hubbard (6/8/06), 6 years old, female
Chase Kowalski (10/31/05), 7 years old, male
Nancy Lanza, 52 years old, female (mother of shooter Adam Lanza)
Jesse Lewis (6/30/06), 6 years old, male
James Mattioli (03/22/06), 6 years old, male
Grace McDonnell (11/4/05), 7 years old, female
Anne Marie Murphy (7/25/60), Staff member, 52 years old, female
Emilie Parker (05/12/06), 6 years old, female
Jack Pinto (05/05/06), 6 years old, male
Noah Pozner (11/20/06), 6 years old, male
Caroline Previdi (9/07/06), 6 years old, female
Jessica Rekos (5/10/06), 6 years old, female
Avielle Richman (11/17/06) 6 years old, female
Lauren Rousseau (June 1982), Staff member, 30 years old, female
Mary Sherlach (2/11/56), Staff member, 56 years old, female
Victoria Soto (11/04/85), Staff member, 27 years old, female
Benjamin Wheeler (09/12/06), 6 years old, male
Allison N. Wyatt (07/03/06), 6 years old, female

Thursday, December 6, 2012

GUEST POST!!! That Mama Gretchen ~ "Why We Will Be Waiving the Hepatitis B Vaccine"

"This post was originally published at That Mama Gretchen"


As soon as most American babies are earth side they are poked with their first vaccination - Hepatitis B in accordance with the CDC recommendation. This at-birth vaccination is the first of three shots for Hepatitis B. Some resources claim that the three shots provide a lifetime of protection, others believe the immunity provided by vaccination is short-lived stating that, "Between 30-50% of vaccinated individuals may lose their antibodies within 7 years."  

So why is this seemingly controversial vaccine routine for newborns? The CDC website simply states, "to protect against Hepatitis B". But are the majority of newborn babies truly at risk of contracting Hepatitis B?

Often times, the answer is a resounding, "No!" Of course, as with all vaccine decisions choosing to waive the Hepatitis B vaccine is a case by case scenario. Each family must research and determine their individual risk before coming to their own conclusion. In our case, neither Jemma or baby brother will be vaccinated for Hepatitis B as newborns.

Here's why ...

Hepatitis B is an awful virus which plagues many people around the world, many of whom are children. Hepatitis B is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). The virus interferes with the functions of the liver and activates the immune system, which produces a specific reaction to combat the virus. As a consequence of pathological damage, the liver becomes inflamed. A small percentage of infected people cannot get rid of the virus and become chronically infected – these people are at high risk of death from cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.

Most people who contract Hepatitis B experience flu-like symptoms and recover on their own without medical intervention. It is a small percentage who experience chronic issues.

For us, this information was the biggest contributor to our decision. Hepatitis B can be contracted from:
  • Prenatally, from mama to baby - if mama has it, baby may get it too
  • Unsafe needle use - drugs, unsterilized needle use, blood transfusions, etc.
  • Unprotected sexual contact
  • Sharing personal products (razors, etc.) with an infected person
Our family doesn't fall into any of these risks, and therefore, the risk of the vaccine is greater than the risk of contracting the Hepatitis B virus.

  • In 1996 only 54 cases of the disease were reported to the CDC in the 0-1 age group.
  • That year there were 3.9 million births, making the infected percentage just 0.001.
  • That same year the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) logged 1,080 negative reports for the 0-1 age group, 47 of which were death.
Simply, for every child with Hepatitis B there were 20 that were reported to have severe complications. And, in most cases, only 10% of adverse reactions are reported to VAERS which means ... Traditional medicine is harming 200 children to protect one from Hepatitis B. 

Adverse reactions range from diarrhea to nausea to allergic reactions to seizures.  All of which can be life threatening to a tiny newborn.

I hope this information is helpful for new parents as they evaluate their family's personal vaccine plan. It is amazing to me that someone somewhere thought it would be a good idea to vaccinate all newborns for what is commonly known as an STD. I'm thankful such a vaccine exists, some people do need it! Who knows, my children may need it someday based on circumstances, mistakes, or travel, but at birth, they surely do not. As a parent, it is my job to research and screen what my children come in contact with whether it be something influential like particular TV shows or something potentially harmful or unnecessary like vaccinations. It takes time and energy to research these details. It even takes a little bit of guts to share my findings and decision with you! But I'm happy to do it, for my children's sake and for the benefit of sharing knowledge amongst parents striving to do the very best in caring for their children.

For us, the Hepatitis B vaccine will definitely be waived, verbally with our care providers and in writing on my birth plan. What are your thoughts on the Hepatitis B vaccine?

iv class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> Gretchen is the mama of two little ones, Jemma and Max, and the wife to one fabulous husband. Almost 3 years ago she started blogging at That Mama Gretchen when she was expecting her first baby and working full-time in marketing and sales. Since, she has become a stay at home mama who blogs all about her passion for birth and natural parenting … all while chasing a toddler, snuggling a newborn, whipping up simple meals, and trying to get dressed everyday.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

GUEST POST!!! That Mama Gretchen ~ "The Placenta Report"

This post was originally published at "That Mama Gretchen"

Check out this rad button?

I'm going to give you all fair warning on this post. If you aren't feeling the placenta love - read no further. I know I have some family and friend readers who might think twice about our relationship after the placenta report. Then again, I know I have some super crunchy mama friends who will be utterly fascinated like me.

And now, the report ...
I'm three weeks into my placenta consumption and feeling great! I'm not going to give all the credit to my placenta, but I'm givin' her alot. Yes, I've determined that my placenta is female. The non-placenta credit goes to Dominic and my Mama who have been super supporters of my transition from pregnancy to postpartum - lots of yummy food, hugs, and help with the wee ones.

Here's how it all went down ...
After birthing my placenta a solid 40 minutes after Max was born on the bathroom floor, we moved the bowl and placenta into the bath tub. I got stitched up, settled into bed, and then midwife Kat gave Dominic and I a placenta tour. This not only allowed her to make sure everything was fully intact, but it gave us a chance to check out the amazing organ that nourished Max for so long. Luckily, Christine was there to capture the tour in photographs.

Kat wrapped my placenta up in plastic, took it home, and proceeded to encapsulate it. Encapsulating is a process similar to drying and curing meat, so when it is done, it's almost like beef jerky. Then, Kat diced, minced, and pulverized my placenta into a dust and poured the dust into tiny pills. She delivered them to me Friday evening (Max was born Thursday morning) so I could start taking them right away. In the beginning I took 25-30 pills each day; now I'm down to 5-10 each day. I was taking so many because Kat special ordered mini pills for me (size 2s instead of the normal size 0 or 00). I stink at taking larger pills - like, I tragically gag and Dominic can't stop laughing at how pathetic I am. Kat found them through Super Supplements for mamas like me who are interested in encapsulating, but have pill gagging issues.

My jar of pills
I'll definitely encapsulate with future pregnancies. The benefits can't be beat and for $150 it is a worthwhile investment in my sanity. I've found my mood to be quite normal. Whatever that means :) I'm not very teary - I think I've only cried three or four times compared to multiple times each day with my first postpartum experience. I feel overwhelmed, but positive. My milk came in at 36 hours compared to 3 days with Jemma. And, when it came in, it was much calmer and more gradual ... not the painful experience I had with Jem where I was bawling in the shower. I think the biggest clincher was my when my Mom told me that she feels I'm doing really well. She sees a difference which makes me think I'm not making up the placenta awesomeness :)

Here's my first post on placentas for those that missed it. I opted to skip the smoothie and go straight for the pills; more due to timing and respect for my Mom's Vitamix than anything else :)

And, some additional resources that I've enjoyed reading:

Gretchen is the mama of two little ones, Jemma and Max, and the wife to one fabulous husband. Almost 3 years ago she started blogging at That Mama Gretchen when she was expecting her first baby and working full-time in marketing and sales. Since, she has become a stay at home mama who blogs all about her passion for birth and natural parenting … all while chasing a toddler, snuggling a newborn, whipping up simple meals, and trying to get dressed everyday.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


This post was originally published at "That Mama Gretchen"

I bet your britches you're asking WHY create a birth plan in the first place. Well, here are my initial thoughts:
  • First off, call it a birth guide (or birth preferences), because that's what it is. A birth guide outlines your hopes and wishes for the best possible birth while taking into account potential rabbit trails.
  • A birth guide gives mamas control in an often unknown journey.
  • It ensures that your "most importants" are explicitly communicated.
  • It gives your partner a quick reference. Lord knows Dominic doesn't want to memorize all my hopes and wishes :)
With all that in mind, here are a few tips for creating a birth guide:

When you sit down to write your birth guide, travel back to college and go with the rough draft/work in progress mentality. The first round shouldn't be the last. Once you punch out your initial thoughts have your partner review it. Make adjustments and plan to discuss what you've come up with at your next prenatal appointment. Many times your care provider will ask thought provoking questions and add necessary details. Once you develop your final guide, present a copy to your provider for your file and their reference. It doesn't hurt to ask them to sign it as well! Then there is no doubt you are on the same page.

Yes, I'm the one who could write a novel with helpful graphs and photos as my birth guide. But, I'm sticking to one page using bullets and simple sentences. I also plan to write a "In Case of Transfer/Hospital Birth Guide", but that is a separate document.

Attitude and tone are super important in a birth guide. You're not the expert (that's why you are partnering with your care provider), but you are an informed parent who is responsible for the final decisions made for mama and baby's health. Birth plans are becoming increasingly popular and I'm assuming many care providers see the same thing day in and day out. Don't be afraid to make your guide personal - fun and witty or add a picture or two. If it stands out to them, I think there is a higher likelihood that they'll pay attention to your requests.

Consider including the following categories in your guide:
  • Environment - lighting, temperature, music, number of people in the room
  • Labor - procedure preferences, eating/drinking plan, comfort methods
  • Birth - preferred position, access to a mirror, who will be present, cord clamping, skin-to-skin, placenta plan
  • Postpartum Recovery - breastfeeding, duration of stay, rooming in, baby bathing, visitors
  • In Case of Emergency or Cesarean - who stays with mom and who goes with baby, reuniting

You may or may not need this little tidbit. But, some of my birth guide requests are less common and I want to remove the crazy factor for those who might be more mainstream. This especially applies to my hospital guide. It will go something like this:
If the situation becomes life-threatening for Gretchen or our baby, we will of course yield to any request for life-saving intervention, upon the briefest of consultation. In the strong likelihood that we have the normal birth that we are expecting, we ask that you refrain from any routine interventions or measures that we have not previously agreed upon. 
Thanks to Hypnobabies for the eloquent wording!

Birth guides aren't just for parents and care providers. It is important to include your support team so they are informed of your wishes too. Share your plan with family and friends who will be intimately involved in the birth of your baby. Especially those who will be visiting shortly after. You want them to know that some of your wishes extend through your recovery. A birth guide is a great communication tool that allows everyone to be on the same page.

There is quite a bit of commotion after baby's arrival. If newborn procedures don't fit into your one page birth guide, don't hesitate to have a newborn procedure guide. Having an outline of preferences and procedures specific to this time is key to continuing the vibe you hope to establish for your birth.

Have you written a birth guide? 
What were some of your key points? I'd love to hear!
Still questioning whether or not a birth guide is for you? Read Adriel from The Mommyhood Memos post, 4 Reasons to Write a Birth Plan. It's excellent! 

Gretchen is the mama of two little ones, Jemma and Max, and the wife to one fabulous husband. Almost 3 years ago she started blogging at That Mama Gretchen when she was expecting her first baby and working full-time in marketing and sales. Since, she has become a stay at home mama who blogs all about her passion for birth and natural parenting … all while chasing a toddler, snuggling a newborn, whipping up simple meals, and trying to get dressed everyday.