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Life of a New Mom Part 1- Due Day

I am not going to lie, this is much harder than anticipated. When pregnant I somehow never envisioned how my life with baby would be. I was aware of potential challenges but had no idea of their extend. First comes Due-day. The day of my delivery. Leading up to my due date I experienced a lot of anxiety to flat out fear of the pain and if I would be able to handle it. I had dreams coping with that anxiety and the more days passed and the heavier of a body I had to haul around, the more panic was building up inside of me. I was in my 37th week and by that time I was ready to have the baby already in my arms. I started to get fainting episodes in the New York subway on my way to work, when the L train was overflowing at rush hour and people wouldn’t notice my protruding belly since we were all packed like sardines in a can. And even if they did notice there was no guarantee I would get a seat. This is New York after all. Everyone for himself. Noses buried in novels or Candy Crush, no one is looking up. Ever. Thirty-five pounds heavier I literally crawled up the stairs at Union Square and opted to walk to work rather than switch to the six train heading uptown. Thankfully it was winter and the fresh air always barely saved me from fainting. Don’t get me wrong; I am not an overweight, out of shape person, but the extra pounds surely wore me down. By the end of my pregnancy I was tired all the time. At work I had to take a walk around the cubicles to not fall asleep. I was short of locking myself away in the pumping room for an hour to get some shut eye. At home I planted myself on the couch and almost instantly fell asleep. I was 37 weeks and a few days into my pregnancy when at 5:30am on Superbowl Sunday I felt this trickle in my underwear, which continued into a stream. It quickly dawned on me that this must be it; due day came early! Leaving a steady stream of liquid behind in the bathroom it turned into a gush. Partly panicking, partly relieved I inspected the water on our brown tiles and saw tiny little speckles of blood in there. I then went into the shower and the liquid looked clear with a tinge of yellow and a few speckles. Inside I was as nervous as I had ever been calling the answering service of my OBYN. The doctor on call was calm and matter of factly with an empathetic demeanor, telling me that I have a window of 6 hours to come to the hospital. My plan was to labor at home as much as I could, so when she insisted because of the heightened risk of infection after membrane rupture, I was afraid that my birthplan was shattered and I would have to endure all sorts of interventions in the hospital as I soon will be in pain and not able to communicate clearly what I had planned…At home I rested, drank coconut water and stayed hydrated as much as possible. We started counting the contractions which still were far apart and rather mild. Like light period cramps.

At noon we were at the triage area of New York Presbyterian Hospital, where my vitals were checked and my soaked sanitary napkin was inspected to check if it was indeed a membrane rupture. I was nervous but we were the only ones in triage and I was pleasantly surprised on how clean and welcoming it all was. Nothing like the harsh, cold hospital neon lights I had envisioned. After an IV was placed in my right arm bend to ensure hydration we were led to the labor room, which was a massive room, similar to a hotel room, with a few comfortable lounge chairs, a flat screen playing soothing images of nature with calming music and the labor bed taking center stage. The IV was something I was refusing to have done, but when the contractions got stronger I was glad I took it as I wouldn’t have had the energy or mindset to drink as much water as I needed for the ordeal. And even though I was connected to the IV drip, I could move around enough to bend over a birth ball etc. After 10 hours of active labor and the feeling of my hips being torn apart and the feeling of wanting to vomit and faint at the same time I reluctantly gave in to the epidural. Two nurses cleaned my back and inserted the catheter that would inject the numbing drugs that I would have control over with a push of a button. Setting the catheter was uncomfortable and a bit painful, but I can’t distinguish if it was because of the contractions or the act of setting the catheter, in the end you won’t care in outlook of that sweet pain relief you’re desperately hoping for. Soon after I was in bliss compared to what I was going through before. I thought to myself, jeez I should have done this from the beginning! One side effect was that my teeth were chattering and I was shivering uncontrollably even though I wasn’t cold. Every time my eyes met the analog clock on the wall in front of me, an hour had passed. It’s like someone moved the clock hand around to amuse me. Time definitely was flying while my mind was intensely focused on how to best manage the pain of the contractions. I could still feel them coming, but much duller, and most importantly much more manageable; as if someone had dialed down the volume. The doctor came in to check how far along I was, and I was at 6 centimeters at 4 o’clock and around 8:00 the team of nurses told me to start pushing, while having some easy going conversations and even joking in between! Who would have thought that this time of pushing would have been easier than what was yet to await me after the baby was born. I pushed and pushed as much as I could muster, given the fact that I was rather numb down there…and then I hear the doctor say “STOP”. And I stopped. My eyes still closed I felt a wet bundle being placed on my stomach, when I opened my eyes I stared into 2 curious eyes looking right at mine – both shocked to meet finally outside the womb – and I was in love! I barely noticed when the placenta arrived, or so I heard in the backdrop. My baby was wrapped in a swaddle, and taken to another area to be weight while the doctor stitched up my second degree tear, which I must say hurt quite a bit – even after everything was said and done. I was so relieved that my baby was healthy and on top super cute! I was so glad this aspect was over with…They rolled in a wheelchair and placed my baby in my lab, rolling me into my post partum room. It was a shared room, divided by some curtains, me taking the area by the bathroom, away from the window. I immediately had to go to the bathroom – and asked my husband to help me manage as I could barely walk. I was in a lot of pain and super weak. After I peed a good few liters it seemed, I almost collapsed, so the nurses came in with smelling salt which definitely got me up on my feet again. Regardless, it was embarrassing, there was a lot of human fluids in that diaper of mine and for them to see it and clean it up was degrading…

I carefully crawled into bed with an aching body, just to be awoken every 2 hours to breastfeed the baby which they rolled in from the nursery. I could barely move, every muscle was sore to the bone. They put the baby to my breast and showed me how to breastfeed. The little guy latched on wrong and snapped at the right nipple like a turtle, leaving me traumatized on that breast. I could barely hold him comfortably due to the IV placed inconveniently in my right arm bend and my sore bum after those evil stitches just a few hours ago. My diaper was filling up with blood, urine and cellular matter due to straining when lifting up with baby in my arms to place it back in its vitreous bassinet. Back I crawled, even more bruised than before thinking it can’t get any worse than this. How have women been dealing with this sort of pain all over the world. In more primitive countries! When the nurses finally left me at peace for an hour, my roommate’s baby started crying behind the curtains. Her nipples were cracked and bleeding but she was one determined woman when trying to breastfeeding her child after a c-section. Next thing I see is my innocent little baby boy, starring at me quietly through the bassinet…Nurse:”He is hungry again”. Sigh. Can someone please induce a coma so I can get some shut eye here? The left breast went well. A few drops of colostrum and off he rolled into the nursery. Doors open, nurses and doctors come in and out. Check vitals, draw blood, check diaper, help me onto the toilet and off. Clean up the mess I leave behind. What an invidious job. Every time I ask to remove the IV, which has been making my situation even more uncomfortable. I open my eyes and there is breakfast. All I care about are the high-dosed pain killers which I am allowed to take every 6 hours and the stool softener. I wolf down the yoghurt and try to sleep. It’s this weird state of drug induced sleepiness, where you are alert and know what’s going on but you’re in an in-between zone. One more day and night of constant terrorism and I shall go home and rest. Noise, people chatting, doctors visiting, nurses drawing blood, removing IV, giving immunizations, bringing in baby to feed, an endless cycle wit no sleep in between. I can’t sit, I can’t bend my arm, yet I have to nurse  and burp the baby. I am utterly exhausted. The day of discharge I can barely walk. My back bent forward they roll in the wheelchair which will get us out of this place. My 6 pound son disappears in the carseat on the way home. I slip on the ice left behind from the snow storm a night ago and moan in agony while holding the carseat in front of our home. The baby is crying and needs to be fed. Mom just wants to pass out and never awake. Everything is a haze. My body is so unbelievably tired. It feels as if I haven’t slept for a year. I try to get comfortable with the baby, but it’s impossible. No pillow constellation is right. I am hunched over, my shoulders and neck in knots I feed the hungry little catarpillar. His little round face smaller than my boob is content. His little ears moving while swallowing the collostrum. His halfmoon shaped eyes with no lashes completely shut. He is so small. Like a little wiggly worm. I am afraid to pad him on the back to coax a burp out of him as he might break into pieces. That night I had a horrible nightmare. I was in bed inside this dark cold villa and the door opened. My sister steps into the door frame and holds my baby with his tiny head split in two. I couldn’t breathe in terror until realizing that it had just been a dream. I never felt so much love for anyone. I know I would give my life for him in a second. The days following were just a haze of pain, suffering and lack of sleep. The baby was feeding every 2-3 hours. Hours mom slept: 0. This endless cycle…will I ever sleep again?! ON day 3 after delivery I woke up in more pain than usual. Now my boobs have decided to blow up like fully inflated balloons. Did someone gave me a boobjob when I was sleeping?! They were hard as soccer balls and heavy. My husbands eyes couldn’t believe the transformation to a pornstar over night. I was crying. Again, I had no idea what engorgement even was and was trying to desperately figure out how on earth I could reduce the pressure…Baby didn’t like to latch on to a balloon, so it was a challenge to squeeze a tight ball into a flattened shape so the little mouth could hold on to it. As they days went by and the sleep deprivation continued, so did the problems in breastfeeding by not being able to find a comfortable position to nurse. I started to hear voices and hallucinate and felt like I was walking in a dream, that was when I realized deep down underneath the hazy mind I needed to sleep more than anything or I’ll pass out. I ordered my husband to get me a breastpump and I started pumping after one or two weeks so that someone else can take care of the baby while I am resting. Since then the nursing from the breast became few and far between. Eventually I developed forceful let-down, meaning my breast was spraying milk into my baby’s throat, due to all the milk I was producing by pumping every 3 hours. At first he was trying to figure it out and master the flow. He gulped to keep up, he choked, he coughed, he clamped down the nipple to slow the flow, and then he cried. I tried to latch him on quickly and then lean back to battle gravity which worked a few times but ultimately he screamed if I even put him down in my lap, thinking he would get to endure the Chinese water torture again. And that was the end of breastfeeding for me. I beat myself up about this fiasko and am still sad about it. I loved having the privilege of nursing him and creating this bond, but after consulting with a lactation specialist and partaking in a breastfeeding support group I can surely say that I have failed in this department. It’s heartbreaking, but it will frustrate both of us if I continue to force him which ended in the loudest most excruciating screams I have ever heard from a baby.

Shampoos Causing Skin Irritation & Chemical Burns

I have always had sensitive skin to start off with, however I only recently experienced the dirty secret conglomerates like Procter & Gamble and company don’t warn you about. After going through a time of very oily hair due to a hormonal change, I had to wash my hair every day in order to look presentable. After a while I noticed my scalp looking a bit flaky and immediately Head & Shoulders came to mind thanks to persistent advertising throughout the years. I grabbed a bottle in the store and applied a small amount on my scalp, massaged it in for a minute and showered it off. One thing I definitely noticed was the intense chemical scent that gave me a very faint hint of nausea. After the shower my face had red splotches that I didn’t give much attention until the area around my eyes stayed red and I developed what looked like eczema. It was an itching sensation that also felt like a bur and was sensitive to the touch. My eyes started itching intensely for almost 2 weeks which drove me crazy. I took antihistamine, applied eye drops, shea butter, virgin coconut oil (which ironically made it worse) and prescription eye cream, all to no relief. Over the course of the night my eyelid started swelling and the eye irritation wouldn’t go away until 2 months passed and I visited an eye doctor (after the dermatologist was no help) who treated me with another prescription cortisone/antibiotic cream specific to the eye area, which I applied for one week. It finally got better, however my body is now over-sensitized to even the smell of Head and Shoulders or any other of the widely common shampoos on the market – which to my surprise are being sold without a warning, despite the fact that they contain harmful chemicals.

Apparently I am not the only one experiencing the issue with other regular products with household names.

I started researching this issue further and opened a can of worms. How could I have been fooled for so long?!I came across SKIN DEEP, the database by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) – that makes safety profiles for cosmetics and personal care products accessible to the public. As their website clarifies, “companies are allowed to use almost any ingredient they wish.”What a scary thought! Further:”The U.S. government doesn’t review the safety of products before they’re sold. Our staff scientists compare the ingredients on personal care product labels and websites to information in nearly 60 toxicity and regulatory databases. Now in its eighth year, EWG’s Skin Deep database provides you with easy-to-navigate safety ratings for a wide range of products and ingredients on the market. At about one million page views per month, EWG’s Skin Deep is the world’s largest personal care product safety guide.”

Let’s take Head & Shoulders Classic Clean Dandruff Shampoo as an example:

Active Ingredients: Pyrithione Zinc (1%)

Inactive Ingredients: Water, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Glycol Distearate, Zinc Carbonate, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Xylenesulfonate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Fragrance, Dimethicone, Sodium Benzoate, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Magnesium Carbonate Hydroxide, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Blue 1, Red 33

And here some of the ingredients and adverse effects:

Sodium laureth sulphate (SLES)

Purpose: Detergent
Adverse effects: Skin dryness, eye irritation, penetration enhancer. Laureth compounds can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a carcinogen linked to breast cancer.  Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive).

Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS)

Purpose: Detergent and foaming agent
Adverse effects: SLS is a harsh cleanser often used as an engine de-greaser. It’s added to toothpaste to make it foam, but is not necessary to clean your teeth. Irritating to the mucous membranes in the mouth, can cause mouth ulcers, canker sores and contact eczema. Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive).

Cocamidopropyl Betaine:

Purpose: Synthetic surfactant
Adverse effects: Skin, eye and lung irritation, contact allergies. Animal studies show damage to immune system and organs. Has been associated with irritation and allergic contact dermatitis, reactions that could be due to the ingredient itself or to impurities present in it, such as 3-dimethylaminopropylamine.

Zinc pyrithione

Purpose: Antidandruff Agent; Cosmetic Biocide; Hair Conditioning Agent; Preservative; ANTISEBORRHOEIC
Adverse effects: Skin irritant. Animal studies show damage to immune system and organs. Persistent and bioaccumulative in the environment.


Purpose: Conditioner, film-former
Adverse effects: Skin irritant. Film-formers coat the hair to make it feel smooth, but confer no real moisturising properties.

Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride

Purpose: Antistatic Agent; Hair Conditioning Agent; Viscosity Increasing Agent – Aqueous; Film Forming; Skin Conditioning; Viscosity Controlling
Adverse effects: Unknown. Low hazard.


Purpose: Fragrance compound
Adverse effects: The word “fragrance” or “parfum” on the product label represents an undisclosed mixture of various scent chemicals and ingredients used as fragrance dispersants such as diethyl phthalate. Fragrance mixes have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system.
Some perfume ingredients, such as artificial musks and phthalates, are hormone-disrupting. High hazard.

Needless to say, I spent a good amount of time researching the products in my bathroom cabinets which later ended piled up in the trash. It is not acceptable. With all the lobbyists for these mega companies one can’t help but feel disappointed and angry. This also applies to the food and drug administration – but that is a whole topic in itself.

RESEARCH your own products, toss the toxins and start fresh, with all natural ingredients. Be mindful to your body, your family’s body and the environment.

Be mindful


Cocamydolpropylbetaine and contact dermatitis

The Effects Of Getting Off Birth Control

After 19 years on birth control I decided to give my body a break and leave pregnancy with my beloved and dedicated partner up to chance.The pill has served me well I must say. I neither gained weight nor did I have other side effects. It was all pretty wonderful actually: beautiful, clear skin, lots of hair (even-though fine strands of it), super light – almost non existent periods – and a pretty level mood. I did develop cellulite on my legs despite healthy eating and exercise, even though I am naturally thin. However, in my late 20s, my body decided to store more fat cells in form of cellulite, which later turned out to be a side effect of the constant hormone input. Soon after being depleted of the extra estrogen, my cellulite vanished and I was in high spirits. I decided that all the reading about hair falling out and pimple attacks on the internet were just a few individual experiences until my testosterone went into overdrive about 1 month after – and my hair came out in bushels any time I ran my fingers through it. One of my biggest nightmares started to unfold – the other one was about my teeth falling out – and I was under the impression that this would have to stop SOON! Wrong. The shedding took about 3-4 months until it finally subsided and I now I can see brand new baby hairs popping out of my skull, framing my head like soft feathers. To make things worse, 4 months in, my skin started to produce a lot more oil in areas were more oil was uncalled for: my once flawless back and forehead turned into a red pimple landscape while my scalp was producing so much oil I would have to wash my hair twice in a day sometimes in order to be able to face the world without a baseball cap. I was devastated. My once full head of hair was only a half-full head of hair and in addition I also had to deal with unexpected skin issues as a result of the hormonal change. One does under estimate the power of hormones. It’s been a little over 5 months since I stopped taking artificial hormones and a lot more hair is growing back. Summertime will allow me to look like a Hippy again at that rate it’s growing back!

One other thing I have noticed was that I have been much more prone to infections. Colds, flues, skin infections. It’s like I just get over one thing, the next problem arises. Let’s see, since that August I had cellulites as in bacterial skin infection, which developed after playing tennis on a very hot summer day. A blister turned into a very painful red, swollen foot, with a red line quickly traveling upward to my heart, indicating a blood infection..After that I often felt extremely tired and exhausted. Only with utter willpower I mustered to pull myself up and out of bed, zombie-walking to the subway station. The timeframe from then until now was interspersed with cold symptoms, eczema outbreaks, extremely itchy eyes, blepharitis, contact dermatitis etc. In short, my immune system was squashed. Despite frantic “googleing” I could make a rhyme on why exactly that was. Was my body really so inept to adapt to it’s own hormones? I still have to find the answer. And feel free to submit your thoughts. I am curious! Really!

Here a few things I have found helped in the transition from synthetic to natural hormones:

For the skin (I have naturally very dry skin)
• Vitamin B complex
• Omega 3 / Due to my eczema I up the dose, so I am taking – 1,000 mg 3 times a day, but if you’re just taking it for skin maintenance, 1000mg a day should be good, however ask your nutritionist for advise, and don’t take my word for it
• Lots of veggies, quinoa, brown rice, flax seeds, hemps seeds, chia seeds, nuts – basically anything that humankind has been eating all the thousand of years BEFORE the industrial revolution – a no brainer
• Drink tons of water/tea (green, white, oolong)
• Olive Leaf Extract came quite recommended to me because of its benefits, it’s a great antifungal and antibacterial and supposed to combat athlete’s foot, mycotic nails, yeast infections, etc.

• An absolute dirt-cheap and highly effective skin peeling for face & body:
- Mix a half a spoon of light-brown sugar with a dollop of Cetaphil cleanser and you got yourself a luxurious, creamy peeling, that is coarse enough to get rid of old skin cells, yet mild enough to not irritate your skin. Only a few ingredients and it really works great! Try not to massage to hard, the sugar will do the job even if you just lightly massage your skin (face).

Eucerin Daily Replenishing Lotion works wonders for me, as it’s very moisturizing without leaving a sticky film

• Use a non-comedogenic skincare lotion without fragrances and alcohol (which tends to be drying and force the skin to produce more oil), I like Caudalie’s skincare line and Physiogel Hyperallergenic (which you have to order from Amazon unfortunately) as I cant find it being sold in stores in the states

I hope I could be of help and will definitely post an update in a few months, or when things appear to balance themselves out. Until then – be good to your mind & body!

Obama vs Romney

I am not one to follow politics on a regular basis. I figure I leave the decision-making up to the ones I trust to be the most knowledgeable in this field, while following any actions and progress with a healthy skepticism. But when election times draw near I start paying attention. It’s hard to sift through the lies and who knows what the true facts and figures are in this big theater they call politics, but one thing I know for sure: I will always trust the one whose interest lies in supporting the greater good, and not the one whose goal is to enrich the most privileged. It’s the notion of freedom of choice, versus the limitation of choice. It’s about narrow-mindedness versus an open attitude towards various topics in life. Be it gay relationships, renewable energy, social security, or upcoming technologies that bring about their own set of challenges. Who do you believe would veer into the direction that is closest to your own beliefs? Judah Mahay used the popular social image sharing site pinterest to illustrate the accomplishments and ideas of both candidates in a useful way, so you can make an informed choice when hitting the voting booths. You will find another great comparison of both candidate’s positions here.

NYC Stuck In Internet Stone Age

TimeWarner (TW) must have marked me on their red list of people they don’t want to talk to after I have tried about a dozen times to get my service issues resolved. I signed up for their STANDARD Internet Service for $34.99/mo + $5.95 Wifi feature, expecting that this would allow me to watch Netflix movies without mood-killing buffering incidences. At first it was the modem – which TW exchanged. Then it was the fact that the cable was forked. Then it was the signal strength, so they refreshed the signal. Then it was wireless interference due to all the wifi-networks in our area. Then the reason was that we were using too many devices, since using devices sharing the same wifi connection will ultimately slow down each device’s speed. But I thought we would be able to use up to 5 devices without straining our connection?! I would think that for $40/mo you would be able to expect a well functioning internet connection, with decent download speeds. TW’s advertisement of services is misleading at its best.The STANDARD Internet Plan for $34.99 will hardly provide you with the 10Mbps, that’s why they like to boost the promise with “up to”. Why not just say up to 3Mbps — as that would be closer to the truth — but that would obviously force them to lower the price and get rid of the the BASIC package – God knows if that even let’s you load a search engine.

How is it, that in New York City — one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world — internet service is horribly lacking? In July 2012, the New America Foundation has released a study in which they compared high-speed internet offers in 22 cities around the world by price, download and upload speed, and bundled services. Not surprisingly NYC’s available internet offerings are embarrassing: Bucharest can supply it’s citizens 100Mbps for $28 while NYC can barely make 10Mbps for $34.99?

This quote from the article says it all: “The erosion in competition is also likely to reduce incentives for cable providers to upgrade their infrastructure to offer higher speeds, despite the fact that the data show how far the U.S. lags behind other countries. In 2006, even when DSL was more competitive, cable executives from the largest U.S. providers killed an upgrade to cable broadband technology that would have increased cable download speeds to at least 70 Mbps. As a cable executive revealed in a round-table discussion a year later, “there [wasn’t] any market pressure” to upgrade sooner.