Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Abandon Biases All Ye Who Enter Here

I'm generally not one for touchy-feely medicine. I'm well familiar with it, having grown up in the Pacific Northwest, where there's no ailment that can't be cured in a sweatlodge or with pot and ginseng tea, but it's not really my bag. Give a me good old-fashioned medical doctor, complete with white coat and stethoscope and grouchy bedside manner.

So although I was open-minded about Body, Soul and Baby, I have to admit to a wee bit of scepticism. Oh sure, I thought. "Integrative Medicine." It's gonna tell me to drink wheatgrass juice and get acupuncture and 'journal.' But the credentials of the author, Tracy Gaudet, were impressive - bona fide doctor! from Duke University's School of Medicine! - and so because these things matterto me, I decided to give it a chance. If a real doctor - that is, not a graduate of the West Coast School of Alternative Hemp Therapies - can make a case for touchy-feely medicine, I'll be sold.

My interest was specifically in the TTC (trying to conceive) material, so after the reading the introduction (which confirmed my suspicions that this would the sort of book that uses nouns as verbs - 'journalling,' 'dialoguing,' argh) I headed straight to the section on preconception. Here, Dr. Gaudet promotes what she calls 'conscious conception,' which, not surprisingly, pushed my anti-woo-woo buttons. 'Conscious,' 'intentional,' meh. Gazillions of women get pregnant every year without the slightest bit of conscious intention.

However, however... upon reflection, I realized that there was something important to this idea. My husband and I have been 'trying to conceive,' but not very hard. It's been a matter of simply throwing caution to the wind and not paying attention. Which means, really, that we haven't been trying. Should this tell us something?

I don't know that our lackadaisical approach means that deep down we don't want another child. But it certainly points to some ambivalence, and Dr. Gaudet is right to urge women to be as conscious as possible of any ambivalence, not least because it will certainly colour one's experience of pregnancy and of the post-partum period. As someone who struggled with a bad case of post-partum depression that actually started pre-partum, I learned the hard way that staying aware of my feelings - no matter how negative they seemed - was absolutely necessary for pulling myself out of the darkness. Gaudet calls this staying conscious, and she's right to emphasize its importance. If I'm to make it through - make it happily through - another pregnancy and birth, I do need to remain conscious.

She's also right to promote things like journal-keeping and engaging in dialogue. I avoided both of these in the late stages of my pregnancy and during the early post-partum weeks, against the advice of my psychiatrist, and definitely suffered for it. It wasn't until I discovered blogging - an exercise in 'journalling' and 'dialoguing' if there every was one - that I was able to begin bringing about a sort of consciousness, and so pull myself out of the dark.

All of which is to say - I might have been much better off had I read this book before my first pregnancy. The problem is, I might have avoided this book for all of the silly reasons that I note above. Which really is a shame.

So - for all you skeptics and anti-woo-woo types out there - take the advice of this Bad Mother: in pregnancy and motherhood, more than any other experience you've ever had, you need all of the gentle, loving help that you can get. And you need to set aside your biases in accepting that help. This is like nothing that you've done before, so abandon all your preconceptions and embrace this adventure, body and soul.

And a good first step in this would be to read this book.

Part of the Parent Bloggers Network review series on 'Body, Soul and Baby' by Tracy W. Gaudet, M.D.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Pharmacists Need Love, Too

In case you hadn't noticed, I'm not a professional product reviewer. Hell, I'm barely an amateur - I don't so much review things as tell silly stories about them. Still, I do strive for some balance. I try to be critical. I try to point out negatives and positives. I try to provide useful information, at least some of the time.

Hence my difficulty with writing about The 24-Hour Pharmacist. I can find nothing negative to say about it. I love it. I want to marry it. I am absolutely biased about it. It can do no wrong. So I cannot pretend to have any critical perception here. All that I can do is share my love. To wit, this letter, that I wrote to my beloved last week:

Dear Pharmy:

Oh, 24-Hour Pharmacist! How do I love thee? Let me count the ways! You have brought light to my days and sleep to my nights; you have taught me about Vitamin D and calcium and B12 and melatonin! You have brought a glow to my skin and a twinkle to my dark-circle-free eyes with your coy introduction to Vitamin E and lipoic acids and fish oils! (Oh, the fish oils, the lovely, glow-bestowing fish oils, hitherto ignored as stinky! How wrong I was! How little I understood before you came into my life!)

You have enlightened me about low acid, and calmed my gastrointestinal tract!

You have steered me away from unnecessary pharmaceuticals, except for Botox, which I didn't quite understand, but which I happily overlook because your other virtues are so many!

You have saved me from the drug muggers, who were covertly stealing my folic acid and my joy.

I carry you close to my heart - or at least in my handbag - at all times, so that I might bask in the light of your wisdom as I stroll the colourful but confusing aisles of the pharmacy, the Market, Sephora!

I love you, 24-Hour Pharmacist. I love you to the breadth and depth and height my soul can reach. We will never, ever be parted. Even though your soft white cover may get tatty and stained, and even though your pages might tear and become defaced by toddler graffiti - I will carry you with me. I will lovingly bind you with tape and wrap you in brown paper like a much-loved English textbook and carry you with me. Always.


Her Bad Mother

PS - I have been told that I must share you, which would pain me deeply but that I know too well the magnitude of your wonderfulness and know that sharing you in no way diminishes the light that you have given me. Go, help others, but know that I am your first true love, and make certain that when your wisdom blossoms into a sequel I get an advance copy.

Leave a comment on the campaign launch post or mid-campaign post at PBN - you'll be entered to win a $50 CVS gift card and a copy of the book and can enjoy your own forbidden pharmaceutical love.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Easy Rider

This? Is awesome:

No, not the husband, although he is pretty awesome, if a bit girly riding my bicycle.

It's a Wee-Ride: a front-mounted child's bicycle seat. Toss your kid in and go!

I can't even find the words to express how awesome this is. WonderBaby took to it like she was born to ride: she didn't squeal, she didn't scream, she just smiled contentedly as we sped down our street and through alleys and across parks. This - she seemed to be saying - is how we're supposed to roll.

And roll we did. Freed from the bulk of the stroller (even the feather-light Maclaren Volo, which I love, is just one more thing to push around) we zipped casually around our neighbourhood, exploring side-streets and alleyways and mysterious dead-ends. It was fun, and it was exercise (fun exercise!), and it renewed my love for my sweet little buttercup bicycle, which has been languishing in our shed since my pregnancy. The Wee-Ride seat lets me include WonderBaby in what used to be one of my favourite activities.

Ah, summer. So much the better when viewed from between the handlebars.

(For what it's worth, we purchased the Wee-Ride ourselves - it was not sent to us for review.)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

A Nicer Shade Of Fairy Tale

WonderBaby is a little young for fairy tales and folk tales, but I stockpile them anyway. I still have all of my old collections of Grimm's fairy tales, and Hans Christian Andersen, and some collections of Italian folk tales and Chinese folk tales and at least one copy of Isaac Bashevis Singer's Gimpel The Fool. I loved fairy tales when I was young - the darker the better - and I'm hoping that WonderBaby will love them, too. So I want to be ready - books all lined up on the shelf, ready to go - when she is.

The fairy tales that I received in the mail last month are not in the vein of the Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Andersen. If there is any hint of darkness to The Fairy Chronicles, it's the sort of darkness that just creeps in at the edges, only to be shooed away, quickly and efficiently, by sweetness and light. So I was not disposed to like these stories, preferring, as I do, dark morality tales featuring witches and trolls and other forces of evil that come perilously close to prevailing every time.

The thing is, I'm no longer a child - I'm a thirty-something curmudgeon - and so I'm probably not the best person to evaluate fairy stories aimed at the pre-tween girl market. At the least, I'd need to set aside my curmudgeon cap and consider the stories on their own merits. Which is exactly what I tried to do.

And I can say this: The Fairy Chronicles - a collection of fairy stories that hold in common the conceit that real girls might themselves be fairies - provide an interesting twist on the fairy genre. The main characters are young girls who discover that they have special fairy powers like speed and agility and 'ferocity in defense of others' - good, solid grrl-power stuff - and who embark upon a variety of fairy adventures in which they have use their special powers to resolve some problem or address some threat (in one case, a Web of Dreams has been broken, allowing nightmares to enter childrens' sleep too easily, and needs to be repaired.)

As I've already said, these threats do not stir any real fear (and, for the record, I AM as easy to scare as a nine year old girl) but end of the day, there's really nothing wrong with that. I shared one of the books with my sister, who has a daughter who is close in age to the target audience here, and she commented that her daughter would appreciate an adventure story that could be read at bedtime with no worry of nightmares. (Point well taken.) She also said that her daughter would love the premise that quote-unquote ordinary girls might be fairies - a welcome change from the usual run of Disney stories that feature princesses.

The stories told in these books are very much of the ilk that my mother told my sister and I at bedtime and around campfires: all the adventure and colour of a classic fairy tale, with none of the death and dark evil. The adolescent me might have loved the darkness of Grimm and Andersen while curled up in the bright comfort of our family sofa, but I recall well that I preferred the sweet security of the fairylands that my mother conjured for us when it came time for bed.

My sister (as always) absconded with The Fairy Chronicles, and this is, as I've said before, probably the highest praise that she could offer (thievery being the sincerest form of flattery.) When WonderBaby comes of fairy tale age, I'll probably still start with the classics. But if she starts crawling into bed with HBF and I after night-time readings of The Snow Queen or The Tinder Box, I'll ask my light-fingered sister to send those books right back.

Read more about The Fairy Chronicles here.