Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bedtime Story #2

Freshly bathed by Daddy, we settle our little one for bed. He's not quite ready to nurse himself to sleep, so I grab a cloth book to read him a story. For the first time, he is interested in the book and grabs the cloth animals with his fat fists and explores the book, turning it this way and that, putting the edges into his mouth. Eventually he tires and begins to ease into sleep. Not the most exciting of new year's eve plans, but at this point, I'll choose a calm, peaceful evening to an eventful one with an overtired baby.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Bedtime Story #1

Holding him in my arms, my cheek pressed against his cheek, all soft baby skin and pillowy baby fat, while bouncing on a yoga ball. He finally falls asleep for (hopefully) the night, nearly three hours after what we had hoped would be his bedtime.

But, how many chances will I have again for him to be still and allow me to rest my cheek against that sweet baby cheek?

Monday, December 21, 2009

A silver lining

My favorite part of night feedings (I know, you must wonder how there could possibly be anything pleasant about those mandatory nightly sleep disruptions) is the expression my little guy makes as I burp him. You see, the little fellow is tired and wants to go back to sleep, but he also knows he's gassy. So as he's sitting on my lap getting burped, he keeps his eyes shut and pouts. It's so cute! Alas, with both hands needed to prop him up, I'm not able to photograph it. And, as his digestion has matured, I rarely burp him at night. It is a moment of his babyhood that is gradually fading away along with his sweet newborn scent.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Every night, my little guy needs me to cuddle him to fall asleep. I used to feel constrained; there are so many things I could get done in the 45-60 minutes it takes for him to go into a deep sleep state so that I can sneak away. But I look at his chubby cheeks and pouty lips, and I feel his tummy rise and fall with each breath as it is pressed up against mine. And I cherish this short time of when he is still small and needs to nestle into me to sleep. All too soon, I am told, he will grow up.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Adventures in EC

I caught my first poo yesterday. Actually, it was by accident; I was trying to catch a pee after his nap and he pooped instead. This is a good thing; wiping his butt is much easier when he's pooped in a potty instead of a diaper.

Alas, I didn't change his diaper last night in an attempt to get him to sleep longer. While it was luxurious to have 2 (TWO!) 3-hour (THREE vs 1 or 2) sleep sessions, I felt like a bad mom when I woke up to diaper rash.

So in an attempt to clear the rash, I've tried to keep him diaper-free today. This has been a good chance to observe his patterns and learn his signals. Needless to say, there have been lots of misses and lots of laundry generated. Caught two more poops (again by accident) and got pooped on - the latter was while nursing and I didn't sense it until he'd already started. It's so challenging trying to instill good sleep habits while also dealing with diaper rash and getting our home ready for my parents' arrival tomorrow. I really hope the rash clears up ASAP.

I love my baby's...

...feet, with toes like Tic Tacs. So yummilicious!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Before I forget...

In the past couple of weeks, my baby:
  • can lift his head and feet up when on his tummy
  • discovered his hands and has started sucking on his fists
  • smiles throughout the day, not just in the morning
  • smiles with delight and turns his head with relish when I read his hungry signals early and offer him a chance to nurse
  • prefers to nurse himself to sleep when tired

Also a big plus:
he's spitting up less and less gassy as his digestive system matures.

His nicknames:
Sweetie, Mommy's Sunshine, Cutie Pie, Little Guy, Mr. Needy

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It's hard to believe...

..that in just over two months, I went from this:

to this:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Mommy's sunshine

The thick fog of fatigue was pierced by a ray of sunshine as I woke up for an early morning feeding to find my son giving his mommy a big smile for the first time.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Preggo Tip #1: Stuff that helped me through pregnancy

So this is a long overdue post. Since I've found a lot of helpful tips from mommy blogs and online forums, and I know a number of ladies expecting this year, I have long wanted to do a series of posts on stuff I've learned along the way. Here's my must-have list of items to make pregnancy easier, with a focus on money-saving tips since I'm a bargain shopper who loves a good deal:
  • Belly bands - a knit band of fabric. In early pregnancy, you can use belly bands to wear your regular clothes longer - just unbutton and unzip your jeans and wear the belly band over so that it looks like a fitted tank top. Sure, you can loop a hair elastic around your jeans' button and just make sure to wear a longer top, but the idea of an elastic digging into my belly was never very appealing.
       Later, when you've outgrown your regular clothes but your maternity pants are still too loose, you can fold the band in half and wear it over the maternity pant's belly panel as a sort of soft belt.
       Even later, when your bump has filled out your maternity pants very well, you can still use the bands! I wear them as a kind of "bra" for my bump when I sleep at night, especially when you are supposed to sleep on your side during your third trimester. I feel like it helps support my belly and takes some pressure off of my side abdominal muscles.
       The most well-known belly band in the U.S. is the Bellaband, which unfortunately retails for close to $30. I found this great Australian eBay seller, a WAHM (Work At Home Mom) who calls her belly bands 4MumsTums. She ships internationally, and even with shipping to Taiwan, I was able to get 3 bands for about $7 each (given then currency exchange rates). This is the best purchase I've made throughout my entire pregnancy.
  • Comfortable shoes - I've already raved about my Dansko Mirabelle sandals. It's essential to have supportive, comfortable, safe, and easy-to-wear shoes during pregnancy (I'm having trouble now bending over to tie the laces on my sneakers when I go to the gym - with the Danskos, I just slide my feet into them). Even better if the style is versatile!
  • Prenatal vitamins - I take Trader Joe's Prenatal Once Daily Multivitamin & Mineral Supplement. They're about $8 for a 60 tablet bottle (so inexpensive in the realm of prenatals), vegan, and have all the necessary levels of vitamins and minerals one is supposed to have during pregnancy (i.e. folic acid, not too high with Vitamin A, 15mg of Vitamin B6, which a doctor has recommend to combat nausea).
       In addition to vitamins and minerals, the TJ's prenatal vitamin also has what it calls the "Gentle Prenatal Blend," which includes red raspberry leaf extract, ginger, spirulina, a bunch of different digestive enzymes, and the probiotic Lactobacillus sporogenes. So the red raspberry leaf apparently tones the uterine muscles (to make birthing easier), ginger helps with nausea, spirulina is regarded as a superfood, and the enzymes and probiotics are to help with digestion.
       I haven't had any pregnancy side effects like morning sickness or constipation. I'm not sure if it can be attributed to the prenatal vitamins, even though I did start taking them a few months before we started trying to conceive, but I definitely am a satisfied customer.
  • Maternity underwear - I got this tip from my friend Shan. Instead of spending big bucks on underwear you only wear for a few months, what I did was get the low-rise cotton bikinis one size larger than my usual size from Victoria's Secret. Of course, Victoria's Secret has their 5 for $25 deal. When my mom went to get them for me, she asked them how business was. No surprise, retail has been suffering this past year, so my mom asked the saleslady if she bought another 5, if she could have one for free. So I ended up with 11 for $54.12, including tax. Sweet!
  • Nursing bras - instead of buying maternity bras when the girls started growing, I bought nursing bras which I am hoping to continue to use after the baby comes. These were a life saver because I needed good support early on!
       Based on friends' recommendations, I've bought the Bravado Seamless Nursing Bra (because the sizing is more flexible) and the Bravado Nursing Tank. Both are very supportive, although I think the coverage of the nursing tank runs small, so if you're in between sizes, I would definitely order up a cup size. Although expensive, the quality is very high and I'd recommend signing up for their mailing list - they usually have a sale about every three months.
       The other bra that I like is a local brand, Mamaway, which also sells in the UK. They have a sleep bra (model #06884) that's made out of a very breathable fabric. There is enough support so that I can also wear it during the day if I'm not going to be too active, and it cost me about NT$600 each (less than $20).
       I did buy another a bra by another local brand, Mammy Village, which I HATE. The lining, while supposedly cotton, makes my boobs itch. It also has lace on the outside, which underneath my tops just looks lumpy.
       So when looking for nursing bras, my advice is to consider the kind of tops you wear, and pay special attention to the lining and seams of the bra - your skin will be sensitive enough!
  • Maternity clothes - I have friends that say, "I don't want to buy clothes I'm only going to wear a few months - I'll just buy larger sized clothes." Here are my four reasons why it makes sense to buy maternity clothes: 1) when you're pregnant, pretty much only one area grows - the proportions are different; 2) nowadays it's relatively easy to buy inexpensive maternity clothes for the same price you'd pay for regular clothes; 3) if you buy larger sized clothes, after the baby is born it can be too easy to slip into the mindset of "oh this fits and is comfy," instead of "these are larger clothes for a temporary situation" - so you lose a motivator to return to your pre-pregnancy size; and 4) eventually, regular clothes aren't going to cut it. At around 8 months, I started wondering when my loose, flowy baby doll tops became form-fitting.
       It's better to start shopping early (by that, I mean monitor sales and buy when the price is right) so that you have something when all of a sudden, nothing else fits. I didn't go crazy with maternity wear - I bought one pair of jeans, one pair of tan capris, one pair of brown guachos, and one pair of denim capris. I also bought four maternity tops. This does mean I have to do laundry more frequently, so that I have something clean to wear, but I've been able to get by with these items and my looser pre-pregnancy tops (e.g., the aforementioned baby doll tops that were so popular these past few seasons). I think the key is to have enough versatile bottoms that you can alternate with various tops.
My next post in this series will be on my favorite bargain maternity retailers!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

36/37 weeks: trapezoidal tummy

For about the past two weeks, the little guy has taken a liking to morning stretches, usually commencing at 7 a.m. However, this is not so fun for mommy because her tummy ends up being (painfully) stretched into a trapezoid, often a parallelogram.

Note that I'm taking the photo straight down. I have a big bump above my left hip and below my belly button, and usually a smaller bump above the belly button below my right ribcage. At first I thought the big bump was his head and the little bump was his butt, but at my last checkup the doctor told me his head is already in my pelvis so now I'm not sure - perhaps the big bump is his back and the little bump are his feet?

I take heart in the fact that this must mean the little guy is getting bigger and trying to get more comfortable, even though it certainly isn't comfortable to be woken up from a deep sleep when someone decides to rest his foot in between your ribs!

Do you see a difference between Week 36 (on the left) and Week 37 (on the right)?
My weight basically hasn't changed in the past 4-5 weeks. Since the little guy has been getting bigger, logic says that mommy has been losing weight.

Recap of the past couple of weeks: I caught a cold (just a cold! not the H1N1 flu virus) and even though my sniffles and sneezing were gone in 3 days, it wasn't until this past Sunday that I woke up feeling normal, instead of slightly-tired-slightly-congested-in-the-head. That definitely affected progress on my to-do list, since all I wanted to do was nap.

However, I was really grateful to have a long weekend filled with visiting friends, making presentations, attending an arts event to benefit the victims of Typhoon Morakot, and taking a class on breastfeeding and newborn care. I even got to visit the weekend flea market/fair in Tienmu!

Here's Sophie next to her painting, which ended up selling for NT$30,000 (yay! all proceeds to Morakot relief). They say that the sounds a baby hears while in the womb is what they find comforting as newborns, and as much as I enjoyed listening to this band, I really hope the little guy doesn't come out with a preference for Macedonian drinking songs as his lullabies.

I'm really lucky to have so many girlfriends with children, and that have had their babies this past year. In a one week period, I got to see a 6 year old, a 4 year old, a 2 year old, a 3 month old, and a 6 week old in person. It really does give perspective on what's to be expected in child development. Plus, of course, advice and support from moms who've already been there!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

35 weeks: top of Taipei 101

Even though Taipei 101 was completed in 2004, I've yet to go to the observatory at the top. Well, on Tuesday, I went up to the top.

Thankfully, the wind damper is much larger than the bump.

Last Saturday, we went to the pool and the beach (I got plenty of Vitamin D for the little guy) and on Sunday, Jen organized a baby shower for us.

We had a great time catching up with friends - thanks for attending, all! With the generosity and kindness of our family and friends, I think we're pretty much all set for the arrival of our little guy.

Of course, I could not resist baking cupcakes for the occasion. I baked mini and regular-sized Devil's Food cupcakes with blue-tinted cream cheese frosting.

I tried the King Arthur recipe for the first time, mostly because I was too lazy to bake my favorite (but much more involved) chocolate cake recipe, Old-fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake, and I didn't have any soy milk on hand to bake my alternate easy go to recipe for vegan chocolate cupcakes. While the cake was tasty, the Cook's Illustrated recipe is far superior. And if you want to be able to whip up yummy cupcakes in a flash, keep some soy milk on hand.

Friday, August 21, 2009

33/34 weeks: busy busy bee

Been busy running about town, taking care of errands, and catching up with old friends. Last week I finally set up my iSight (it was really very easy; I don't know why I took so long to get around to it) and caught up with friends far and wide - some remotely via Skype, some over the phone, and the old-fashioned way: in person. Angela was visiting from Singapore, so there was dinner with her Friday night and a last-minute baby shower for her on Sunday afternoon:

In the photo, I'm at 33 weeks and she's about 6 weeks behind me. I'm looking forward to when our boys can play with each other.

Saturday was also another checkup - my ninth so far! Check-ups are now going to be 2 weeks apart. From my last visit to this, I haven't gained any weight but the baby has gained an estimated 400g (woo-hoo! I hope that means I've lost 400g! ).

Afterwards, we took a pre-natal class on positioning techniques during birthing. Of all the courses offered by our birth center, I thought this was the most important one and I had to sign up for it two months in advance. Nevertheless, at least the first half was lecture. "When are we going to get some real practice?" I thought to myself. Finally we got to practice, and I was selected as the instructor's demo model, so I got to practice twice.

We learned how to:
  1. use a birth ball: including sitting, squatting, kneeling while leaning forward on it for support (aka fit ball - this I already know how to do from my years at the gym)
  2. sit astride a chair while the hubs applies pressure on various parts of my hips and lower back to release the back muscles and open the pelvis
  3. Lie flat on the floor above a shawl at waist level - the hubs can then stand astride me and hold both ends of the shawl to just slightly lift it (and me!) a centimeter or two above the ground. This was my favorite - it really relieved a lot of lower back pain!
  4. One not-so-cool thing that happened last week was that I got two telemarketing calls from formula companies - on the same day! The first woman actually introduced herself as someone from the prenatal course, so at first I was confused as to why she was speaking in that classic too-fast-I'm-doing-a-sales-pitch tone while being very obscure as to who she exactly was and who she represented. When I could finally get a word in, I politely asked her to take me off their call lists.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

32 weeks: Typhoon Morakot brings cooler weather

Typhoon Morakot has come and gone, leaving behind cooler weather. Thank goodness! The time before a typhoon comes is always hot and muggy, and there's nothing like swampy steamy weather to make one feel particularly pregnant.

Thankfully we suffered no damage, although I saw on the TV news today that a hotel (mostly due to shoddy construction) in the Jhihben (知本) Hot Springs area of Taitung County (台東縣) had collapsed into the swollen river. I believe it was Jhihben that I visited as a child on a trip to Taiwan; back then it wasn't so developed and you could just play in the river and lie on a stone as warm water gurgled over you. Perhaps we'll take our little boy there someday - not during typhoon season, of course!

jhih-ben (zhiben) hot springs
No one was hurt as the hotel had already been evacuated. (Photo source: Taitung Government Department of Culture and Tourism)

So what do we do when there is a typhoon? Stay inside and relax, of course! I hope our baby doesn't mind Mommy poking around as she tries to figure out what is the head and what is the butt, and which way he is facing. Just checking to make sure he's in the right position.

I'm sure he thought beach time was more fun:

(photo taken on July 26)

here's a video of the hotel collapsing into an overflowing river.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Blog recommendation: Rural Doctoring

It's a typhoon day today, and for the past couple of days I've been utterly hooked into reading Rural Doctoring, a great blog about a family physician working in rural Northern California. She is a great writer, and although I was initially drawn in by her birth stories series, her other stories about practicing medicine are equally thoughtful and thought-provoking about the decision-making behind providing care. Highly recommended.

Monday, August 03, 2009

31 weeks: simple acts of kindness

Friday was my last day of work—one of my co-workers at the parent company waited for me to finish packing up my stuff and kindly helped me carry it to my car. Now we've exchanged pleasantries by the water cooler, but I don't know her well so I was really touched by her kindness. It's acts of kindness like this that makes up for others' passive-aggressive immaturity (I know, almost every workplace has at least one of those, but it's these acts of kindness that re-inspires one's faith in humanity).

Saturday night Neil got some practice (and did a great job!) playing with little Effie at Emily's farewell dinner.

It's been hot, hot, hot - steamy hot. I feel like all I do is sweat all day. Air conditioning is nice, but then there's a huge contrast when you finally step outside that just makes you feel even hotter. And I can't bring myself to turn it on at home for environmental reasons. Thankfully we've been getting a good breeze up in the mountains.

Sometimes I do feel a bit unwieldy, especially in this heat, and I'm definitely finding myself short of breath more easily these days, but I wouldn't trade the privilege of being able to carry my little boy for anything else. I love feeling him kick and roll and get the hiccups.

We've been cooking lots of cooling foods and other foods (trying to utilize the oven all at once to keep cool and save energy): mung bean and job's tear soup (cooling), pesto with whole-grain linguine, baba ganoush, whole wheat bread, and cheesecake. Yum!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

30 weeks: simple summer salads

Actually a few days late, as I'm not at 31 weeks, but this photo was taken at 30 weeks.

The bump has definitely gotten bigger. These past couple of weeks we've been making lots of summer salads. Two weekends ago we went to Camp Taiwan, courtesy of our friend Jenn, who is a counselor there.

While there, the hubs and I made a broccoli slaw that was really well-received: lightly steamed broccoli and red cabbage tossed in a vinaigrette of rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, and finely diced onion (salad inspired by Leanne Ely).

Unlike last year, I didn't climb, and all of us did not hike, river trace, or use the zip line. We mostly lounged around, napped, had many interesting conversations, and enjoyed nature.

This past weekend we went to the beach house and were in charge of the vegetables - a perfect opportunity to try the salads Mark Bittman mentioned in his timely article, "101 Simple Salads for the Season." We made #1, #3, and #30, all vegan, and all delicious.

Everyone raved about #3, the watermelon, tomato, and basil salad. I went all 70s and used the melon baller to scoop out the watermelon, and then made a watermelon bowl to serve the salad in. Of course, I didn't remember to take a photo until the salad was gone.

The potato salad (#30) is basically the same as the one listed in his cookbook, How to Cook Everything, but with the addition of capers. The capers are key. We'd made the same salad minus the capers the week before at Camp Taiwan, and the revised version is much, much better.

I also baked a Chocolate Stout Cake for the hub's birthday, except I baked it in a 12-cup bundt pan and was absolutely thrilled that it came out of the pan neatly - my first success with a bundt pan! It's definitely a special-occasion cake, as its very dense and rich.

Monday, July 13, 2009

28 weeks: swelling

The biggest change this week was swelling. I first noticed my swollen feet last Saturday night but chalked it up to sitting and eating for several hours at my cousin's wedding dinner. After we went back to our hotel room, I put my feet up and the hubs rubbed my feet and it was a lot better. The swelling came back a little the next day, but I attributed that to flying back to Taipei.

The, Monday after lunch I looked down, and woah! Cankles! I put on my compression leg warmers (or footless stockings) and it helped a bit. But being the vain person that I am, I only put them on in the afternoon since they didn't "go" with my outfit. Besides the swelling my feet felt like they were burning.

By Thursday night, I was determined to spend at least an hour in the pool. That helped a lot! Apparently being in the pool is like wearing a giant full body compression stocking. The water pressure of the pool pushes the water from your extremities to your core and then your kidneys, which you then pee out. According to one of my pregnancy books, 1 hour in the pool can provide 48 hours of relief.

On Friday, I put my vanity aside and wore the compression stockings all day. I didn't wear them at all this weekend, but since I was at home, I figured being active (instead of sitting at my desk) would help with the circulation. Saturday evening, as I went to get a foot massage, the masseuse even said, "wow, your feet aren't swollen at all!" I am so going to be living in the pool!

Foot soak prior to foot massage.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Cultural differences

I bumped into my saleslady tonight at the gym. She congratulated me in my obviously pregnant state and reminded me to make an appointment with her soon to put my membership on hold since I wouldn't want to be working out late in my pregnancy.

Actually, I told her, in my current swollen state and facing an already sweltering Taiwan summer with my own personal heater residing in my bump, the thought of bouncing around in a cool swimming pool every day sounds mighty appealing.

Is he kicking, she asked? He's very active, I replied. Oh, you must tell him to be a good boy and not bother you while you're doing stuff like getting ready for work, she said. That way he'll be well-behaved after he's born. I do talk to him every day, I told her, except that the hubs and I say things like, "Mommy and Daddy love you very much," and encourage him when he's active because we take it as a sign that he's healthy.

"Don't bother your mommy and be a good boy!" she called out as I got my locker key and headed into the gym. O_o

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

27 weeks: fun & sun on the Great Barrier Reef

Sunday we left Melbourne for Hamilton Island, part of the Whitsunday Islands near the Great Barrier Reef. Hamilton Island is probably best known as the islands featured in Tourism Queensland's Best Job in the World campaign.

(on Catseye Beach on Hamilton Island)

Alas, we're not being paid $110,000 to explore the islands, swim, and snorkel. Nevertheless, we did manage to enjoy our trip to Whitehaven Beach today, apparently one of the world's top beaches.

The sand is 98% pure silica - since it reflects a lot of sunlight, it's cool to walk on and it squeaks!

Friday, June 26, 2009

26 weeks: bump on a log, bump on me

We're in Oz now for a wedding. Thursday we went on the Great Ocean Road for some sightseeing and what sights did we see! We saw koalas (furry grey balls), parrots, cockatoos, and magpies. We also did some short walks around the Erskine Falls and Aireys Inlet Lighthouse.

Monday, June 22, 2009

25 weeks: discoveries

Recent discoveries:
  • my innie is now best described as a shallow indentation.
  • it's getting harder to bend over, especially while sitting
  • my bump gets in the way while on the recumbent bike
  • it's really hard to be on my feet for extended periods of time, including while washing the dishes
  • in the past couple of weeks, my abdominal muscles feel like they're stretching - this is even when I'm not moving at all. I got a tummy supporter this past Saturday - seems to be working well. And I've slept with my belly band on for the past 3-4 weeks - that really helps.
  • baby is most active when I'm going to sleep, waking up, and in the late afternoon-early evening from about 3-6:30pm.

Leaving for Australia in a couple of days - going to attend a wedding there and one in Hong Kong. This trip will be our babymoon - looking forward to it!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

product review: Dansko Mirabelle sandals

I love my Dansko Mirabelle sandals! Since I got them in late March, I've worn them every day. Danskos are known for their ergonomic molded foot beds and their "rocker bottom" soles - basically it's easy to walk in them. I even wore these sandals on my trip to Taroko Gorge, when we hiked over 5km, and my feet were fine.

I think Danskos are great for travel and maternity, because they are so comfortable and can be dressed up or down. For travel - nothing screams tourist more than sneakers and a fanny pack. I mean, people outside the U.S. just don't wear sneakers around town. It just attracts unwanted attention. Some of my co-workers on the Taroko trip thought they were high heels and were impressed I could hike in them - they didn't realize how comfortable they were!

And for maternity - I see so many women in Taiwan waddling around in Teva-like sandles, which just makes them look bloated and uncomfortable. Plus, the Mirabelles have an ankle strap for added stability, a breathable leather top sole, and a non-skid sole—which is especially reassuring now that I'm pregnant. I have another pair of Dansko clogs that I've worn in icy conditions and I've always felt secure walking around in them. And, I like the thicker sole because there is less of a chance for icky runoff and puddles to seep into my toes when rains during the summer in Taiwan.

I also have wide feet, so it's great to find a shoe company that fits so well and comfortably. Danskos come in a lot of cute styles. The Mirabelles are my third pair. The only thing to keep in mind is the sizing - my first pair of Danskos (bought 7 years ago!) was a 38 and fit fine even though according to their size charts I should actually be a 39 or 40. My Dansko clogs, which are a 39, are a bit tight around the arch - there's not enough room. The Mirabelles, also a 39, fit perfectly, but then they're sandals so there's a bit more give in case my feet swell. So I would recommend to try them on in person to find the right size, if that is possible. (My last two pairs of Danskos were ordered online so it was a bit of a gamble!)

Anyways, I loved my Mirabelles so much I ordered another pair in black and I'm really looking forward to getting them when my mom's friend brings them to me in Taiwan.

p.s. There's a great little movie about the company on their corporate website. I thought they were a Danish company, but they're actually an American company with Danish roots.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Lamborghini caravan

Today during my morning commute there was a caravan of about nine to ten Lamborghinis that drove by. I know this because they too were stuck going 10kph in traffic and so I had plenty of time to read the labels...and even get out a camera to take a photo or two.

Honestly, why would you ever want to drive a sports car in Taiwan? It's not Germany. It's stop-and-go traffic, scooters & buses weaving about, and where there are open roads, they're usually in the countryside and full of potholes.

Yes, that's the same car now stuck behind me - ha!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

conversation with myself

bump: grumble
me: you hungry?
bump: rumble
me: already? we've already eaten our afternoon snack of mango and banana!
bump: growl
me: oh man! I don't really want to go out and get a snack...wait! I brought in last night's leftovers: a quarter of a chicken burrito and roasted tomatoes - we'll have that.
bump: purrr
me: I'm so smart!

(I have to hide my snacks in my little lunchbox out of sight...otherwise I tend to eat them by lunchtime, but I often forget I've brought them!)

Thoughts on labor and delivery

A common comment here in Taiwan (usually from those who have never given birth) is that having a caesarean section is "easier" because you're knocked out under anesthesia and when you wake up the baby is there.

Um...the thought of a c-section has always scared me because you're cutting through and making a hole where there wasn't one before. First you have the uterus, which is at least an inch thick. And then connective tissue, abdominal muscles, fat, skin, etc. A c-section is major surgery, folks!
Says the Canadian Medical Association Journal: Women who undergo elective caesarean sections suffer more than three times the number of cardiac arrests, blood clots and major infections than those who deliver vaginally. (Source)
I've had moms tell me that recovery from a c-section is really painful. One mom tells me she still sometimes feels pain around her wound nine years after the birth of her son.

Yes there are times when c-sections are medically necessary. I'm all for that. In fact, the WHO says a c-section rate of about 5-10% of all births is ideal. However, in the U.S. and Taiwan, the rate is well over 30% and rising.

Part of the reason why is an increasing rate of labor interventions, including inductions, epidurals given early in labor, and continuous electronic fetal monitoring. Canadian pregnancy specialists are now recommending doctors to not consider inductions before the end of the 41st week.

If you're interested in learning more, Childbirth Connection is a good resource.

Friday, June 12, 2009

23 weeks: company trip to Hualien & Taroko Gorge

This past weekend we went on my company trip to Hualien and Taroko Gorge. I was afraid it might be one of those Taiwanese-sit-on-the-bus-hop-out-for-photo-ops affairs, but it was actually quite fun and active. We got up at an ungodly (for us) hour to catch a 7am train to Hualien. Then we got on a tour bus and went to Rui Sui Farm 瑞穗牧場 (which was pretty but rather small and boring - you can buy stuff to feed the koi fish, cows, and ostriches and buy snacks made from their farm's milk), and then a visit to the awkwardly named Lin Tian Shan Culture Studio 林田山文物展示館. Now this was very interesting - it is a restored former paper milling company village that dates back to the Japanese colonial period.

Lin Tian Shan Japanese-style home

Many of the buildings feature Japanese architectural touches, and there is a village theater that is made of aromatic wood with the original early 20th century movie projectors on display.

We bought homemade mulberry juice from a grandma that was absolutely delicious and refreshing.

Afterwards, we went to Carp Lake 鯉魚潭. Many co-workers were encouraged to participate in a company 5,000-meter race or a relay. Carp Lake is very scenic - you can rent bikes, paddle boats, and kayaks. We opted to do a short nature hike - there are many well-marked trails to choose from. I'd definitely return - it's a great recreational area for families.

On Sunday, we went to Taroko National Park 太魯閣國家公園. It was a beautiful day and we did two hikes, the 1km Swallow Grotto Trail and the 4km Baiyang Waterfall Trail. Unfortunately, my camera battery ran out and I haven't gotten photos downloaded from the hub's iPhone. I'll post them up soon!

In the meantime, here's a classic pic of Taroko from Monad (Falling Spirit)'s Flickr stream: