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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Back To School...

First day back to teaching... sans students. Will report tomorrow. Cannot compute. ennnneeerrrrgggyyyyyy Waaannnnniiiinnnnnnnnnnggg. stop.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Why Do Some People Radiate?

Last evening I spoke of Bacterial Vaginosis. Exciting stuff. This evening I considered researching something else that causes discomfort during pregnancy to enlighten you. Informative, yes... The more I read about the "things" that can occur during pregnancy that may be exacerbating my pelvic discomfort, the more I realized the REAL problem;
I need an attitude adjustment ...a new focus. I was sinking into depression, simply by lingering over the stagnating cesspool of negativity. It's the Law of Attraction that I have spoken about so many times; what we focus on becomes our reality, right?
(Read About the Law of Attraction on Kindle... also available in book format)

A simple message from my cousin Jenifer changed my perspective today and shook me out of my doldrums. In response to a message from me (where I told her that I couldn't attend her beautiful son Nathaniel's first Birthday Party tomorrow, much to my chagrin... because I feel so lousy) she said, in so many words... kick back in the sun, relax, and FOCUS ON THE MIRACLE THAT IS TAKING PLACE INSIDE OF YOU RIGHT NOW! Thank you Jenxoxoxoxoxoxox!

So that is exactly what I am going to do, and I feel better... already.

Although I should be preparing for teaching in less than a week (shoulda coulda woulda), my affinity for music and witnessing a wonderful interview on Fox News this evening has lead me to want to escape into some reading about music from the old dead days beyond recall, instead.

Sam Cutler, a jovial, beautifully-seasoned marketing mastermind of British descent managed both The Rolling Stones and The Grateful Dead during the 60's, 70's and perhaps beyond. He was interviewing to promote his new book that swims through his experience. What a trip!

Mr. Cutler's positivity radiated during his interview, and I can safely assume that his vast success and experience has much to do with this aspect of his persona, alone. First thing tomorrow, I will go to the local bookstore (Clinton BookShop in Clinton, NJ -to be precise-) to see if I can procure a copy of his work to enjoy. truly practicing what I preach -
Amanda xo

Don't Forget to check out what is happening in Ana's World at

(Download of the Day... appropriately "19th Nervous Breakdown" by The Rolling Stones.. available for you to purchase, top right)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bacterial Vaginosis... yuck, yuck, double yuck...

Before I begin, I would like to thank Shannon and Nicole for their maternity clothes recommendations... awesome. Old navy... here I come! Although... it may have to wait a few days. I have been delinquent in writing for two days, for I have been contending with horrific cramping in the pelvic region, coupled with contractions. Last evening, in fact... I thought "Elizabeth... it's the big one"... the pollywog was sure to arrive... VERY early!

I started to have contractions at about 7 pm, and they patterned and didn't cease until about 2 am, coupled with unceasing pelvic cramps. The reason that my doctor didn't have me sprint (okay... waddle quickly) to the hospital is because I had been into her office on tuesday on an emergency basis because of the same (on a much smaller scale) symptoms.

After being monitored, prodded and poked (the pollywog is fine, thankfully) my OB decided that I may have Bacterial Vaginosis, which could possibly be causing the side effects. After a highly unpleasant culture (youch), she found two cells that confirmed her diagnosis, and sent me home with a prescription for Flagyl a.k.a. metronidazole, an oral antiprotozoal and antibacterial antibiotic that fights infections caused by bacteria or amoeba in your body.

Nowhere have I found evidence that Flagyl causes contractions and/or pelvic pain, and I have had none of the symptoms that are associated with Bacterial Vaginosis, but I am thinking that there must be some kind of correlation. Who knows. Perhaps you have any insight? If you do, please write and share your ideas, experiences. In the interim... here is a little ditty that will tell you all about Bacterial Vaginosis, provided by Something to file under easy listening, perhaps?

"Approximately 10% - 30% of pregnant women will experience Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) during their pregnancy. Bacterial Vaginosis is caused by an imbalance in the normal bacteria that exists in a woman’s vagina. It is not transmitted sexually, but is associated with having vaginal intercourse. You may or may not experience symptoms.

How do I know if I have Bacterial Vaginosis?
One of the symptoms of BV is a gray or whitish discharge that has a foul fishy odor. However some women do not experience any symptoms. Diagnosis is made through a pelvic exam. Vaginal discharge is tested through a wet mount (microscopic slide test), pH test (BV often causes a pH level of 4.5 or higher), KOH slide (microscopic slide test) or a whiff test (a mixture that causes a strong fishy odor).

What causes Bacterial Vaginosis?
Bacterial Vaginosis is an imbalance of bacteria which leads to an over growth of bacterial species. The cause has not clearly been identified. It is not transmitted sexually but it is associated with having vaginal sex and therefore may be listed under sexually transmitted diseases when you look it up.

How can Bacterial Vaginosis affect my pregnancy?
There is significant evidence that links Bacterial Vaginosis with preterm labor. There have been many recent studies that have been conducted to verify this information and find a method of prevention. Other studies have also shown a possible link to miscarriages, low birth weight and premature rupture of membranes.

If I am pregnant, will I be screened for Bacterial Vaginosis?
It is not necessary to screen non-symptomatic pregnant women for BV. When obtaining your prenatal care, Bacterial Vaginosis is not routinely screened. It is important that you discuss any concerns you may have about BV with your health care provider.

Why am I being screened for Bacterial Vaginosis?
The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that all pregnant women with symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis be screened and treated. The CDC also supports screening women who have had a previous preterm labor. Screening for BV is left up to your healthcare provider to decide.

What treatments are available for pregnant women with Bacterial Vaginosis?
Treatment is highly recommended to avoid any chance of preterm labor. There are various treatments which include:

Oral medications – Clindamycin 300 mg or Metronidazole 500 mg twice daily for 7 days

Topical medications – Clindamycin 5 g or Metronidazole at bedtime for 5 days (this treatment may give symptomatic relief but is insufficient in preventing pregnancy complications)

Research done in 2004 by McDonald H, Brococklehurst P and Parsons J, suggests that antibiotic treatment may reduce the risk of premature rupture of membranes and low birth weight for women with a history of preterm labor, who have BV. This study did not find any significant evidence that treatment reduces premature labor."

So there you have it! Recommended Kindle Reading:

(You can also pick it up as a traditional read, too... if it floats your boat.)

Good Evening...
Amanda xo

Please don't forget to check out Ana's current mental state...
Please download the Song of the Day, top right... in fact, check out the band "Beirut" in general... good stuff.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Clothing the Bump This Seven Month......

There is a reason that I don't own a full-length mirror, and it was confirmed this evening. With less than one week until I have to return the world of education, I took the opportunity today to go through my closet to find clothing that will fit over my seven month baby bump... to no avail. Granted, I am a creative dresser... and have alot of interesting pieces that can "work" if finnageled properly, but the majority of the baby-doll type dresses that I have lived in this summer will not, shall we say...suffice, even with the most creative accessorizing.

It is the first time that I had to actually think about venturing into the maternity section for essentials, and the prospect was, well, exciting (who doesn't like to buy a few new pieces for school?)... until I actually fingered through the racks. Oh boy. It was bleak, at best.

After a good hour of trying on some of the most god-awful fabrics, coupled with some of the most souless designs I have ever experienced, I moved into a non-maternity section of the store; I was confident that if I bought a larger size, I could simply style the clothing myself to look less... tent-like.

There was only one word to describe that 1/2 of hour of painful grimacing in the dressing room mirror: humbling. I walked out with a pile of clothing for the attendant, and one, really hideous, but comfortable bra to take with me (emphasis on 'really'). Don't they make pencil skirts for bulbous bellies? (sigh)I left the store with my tail between my ligs, and waddled aimlessly into a drugstore to buy a new mascara; one size fits all. Refreshing.

As I stood on line, I eyed the VOGUE Fall Fashion Issue that I love to peruse every August. A true masochist, I was well aware that I was simply setting myself up for horrific body dysmorphic nightmares, but shamelessly picked one up to go home and look through anyway. It was the perfect melted peanut butter and ice cream accompaniment.

Much to my delight... 1/3 of my way through the pages of stunning boots coupled with fantastic wool mini skirts and tailored fall jackets, there was a gorgeous image of a pregnant woman donned in noneother than a navy pencil skirt and an interesting top, tailored to fit. No tent. No Moo Moo. "A Pea In The Pod" ... Their selection fits every budget from outlandishly priced designer goodies, to clothing comparable to "The Gap" prices, and the like.

I will venture there, and report my findings.

Amanda xo

Download the song of the day... top right.
...and don't forget to check out Ana's World at

Friday, August 20, 2010

Shhhhh... just listen.

On this Friday evening, I leave you with some words to ponder that will most certainly apply to you whether you are a parent-to-be, someone's child or someone's parent. In my humble opinion, this excerpt from Eckhart Tolle' "A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose" is something we can all relate to, regardless. Before I quote him for you, please check out his books if you haven't already. He is a true survivor, overcame depression and found enlightenment. His words resonate goodness and sincerity!

Conscious Parenting - Page 103

"Many children harbor hidden anger and resentment toward their parents and often the cause is inauthenticity in the relationship. The child has a deep longing for the parent to be there as a human being, not as a role, no matter how conscientiously that role is being played. You may be doing all the right things and the best you can for your child, but even doing the best you can is not enough. In fact, doing is never enough if you neglect BEING. The ego knows nothing of Being but believes you will eventually be saved by doing. If you are in the grip of the ego, you believe that by doing more and more you will eventually accumulate enough 'doings' to make yourself feel complete at some point in the future. You won't. You will only lose yourself in doing. The entire civilization is losing itself in doing that is not rooted in Being and thus becomes futile.

How do you bring Being into the life of a busy family, into the relationship with your child? The key is to give your child attention. There are two kinds of attention. One we might call form-based attention. The other is formless attention. Form-based attention is always connected in some way with doing or evaluating. 'Have you done your homework? Eat your dinner. Tidy up your room. Brush your teeth. Do this. Stop doing that. Hurry up, get ready.'

What's the next thing we have to do? This question pretty much summarizes what family life is like in many homes. Form-based attention is ofcourse necessary and has its place, but if that's all there is in the relationship with your child, then the most vital dimension is missing and Being becomes completely obscured by doing, by 'the cares of the world,' as Jesus puts it. Formless attention is inseperable from the dimension of Being. How does it work?

As you look at, listen to, touch, or help your child with this or that, you are alert, still, completely present, not wanting anything other than that moment as it is. In this way, you make room for Being. In that moment, if you are present, you are not a father or mother. You are the alertness, the stillness, the Presence that is listening, looking, touching, even speaking. You are the Being behind the doing."

I think this is a universal truth that can be applied not only to parent/child relationships... but to ALL relationships.

Something to ponder...
Amanda xo

Dont forget to check out what is happening in Ana's world...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

BREAAATTTHHHEEEE DEEEP... and keep your eyes on the pendulum... tick..tock...tick...tock...

After all that talk about cerclage... my appointment for the procedure is not until the 27th... a week from tomorrow. Typical. Punctuality and agenda planning have never truly been my strongest suit (stop giggling at me jen).

In this event, may I enlighten you with some interesting reading that
I have done as of late... now that I am officially in my 7th month of pregnancy. The clock is ticking, and apparently many women actually have a birthing "plan." A plan... a novel concept for me as previously mentioned, but something I must do. Vaginal birth? C-Section? Epidural? Drug Free? The options are MANY. My favorite option is to get the little pollywog to this realm, unscathed, regardless of the method. But I must say, having read up on the many options that we women have, the most attractive to me right now is a natural childbirth, using self-hypnosis as the predominant tool to assuage labor pains. Undoubtedly this could very well change ... hence the pendulum. But today, this is what I have researched, and it sounds...well... "alright alright alright" (to quote Matthew McConaughey in "Dazed and Confused").

Great Read on the subject matter:

Here is information about hypnobirthing that I feel is very well-versed, provided by

I hope this will inspire comments, questions, and your experiences with childbirth -

"Imagine - you are in labor. You are feeling calm, serene, attuned to the contractions that gently open your body. Your labor is peaceful and pain free and you are feeling overjoyed, knowing that you will soon be holding your newborn child. This type of birth can be yours. The use of hypnosis is quickly becoming popular because it is so effective. Once thought to be a type of bizarre ritual, hypnosis has increasingly become accepted as a legitimate form of therapy by the public and also within the medical community.

Hypnotherapy has been found to be very successful in helping people deal with a variety of emotional and personal problems. Using self-hypnosis techniques, many women have managed to experience a pain free labor without medication or drugs. Hypnosis has also been successful in turning posterior and breech babies.

What Is Hypnosis?

Simply put, hypnosis is a deep state of relaxation. But it is not a state of unconsciousness. In fact, you’ve probably been hypnotized a few times without realizing it. If you’ve ever been so deeply engrossed in a book that you weren’t aware someone was talking to you, then you’ve been under hypnosis.

Hypnosis allows you to shut off the active, conscious part of your brain and tune into your subconscious for a little while. The subconscious is the area of your brain that makes a lot of decisions that you don’t realize. As a result, hypnosis allows you to gain more control over your life since you are dealing directly with the subconscious mind. In a way, you are reprogramming your mind to act in a way that you find more beneficial.

What Is Hypnotherapy?

Hypnotherapy employs hypnosis to help people deal with a variety of problems and issues. Hypnosis has been used to treat everything from low self-esteem and confidence to smoking and over eating, as well as bed wetting in children. Hypnosis has even been used as an alternative to anesthesia for people who are undergoing surgery.

Aided by a guide or instructor, hypnotherapy helps you relax and enter your subconscious. However, all hypnosis is considered to be self-hypnosis. Even though you have a guide giving you instructions, you are the one doing all the work.

Worried that you’ll end up squawking like a chicken? Contrary to what most people have been led to believe, you cannot do anything in a hypnotic state that you have a serious moral or ethical objection to. You actually do have control over your actions and what you say while under hypnosis. There is also no reason why you cannot remember what you have said or done unless your mind has decided to "forget" about it. While your subconscious mind will always be aware of what happened, your conscious mind may not.

Hypnosis and Childbirth

More and more, pregnant women are deciding to use hypnosis to deal with labor pain rather than using conventional medications. Through hypnotherapy classes, you learn self hypnosis techniques that will help you better deal with the pain. Hypnosis allows you to provide yourself with a natural anesthesia that won’t cause any harm to you or your baby. Plus, you’re completely in control of your pain management.

How Is the Pain Eliminated?

Many women are terrified by the prospect of labor pain. Hypnotherapy will help you dismiss any of your negative preconceptions about pain. Pain is usually produced by a combination of fear and tension. When we are afraid, we react by closing up. This tightness causes our uterine muscles to contract and we feel acute pain. And the more pain we feel, the tenser we become. Hypnotherapy teaches women to relax. As a result, their bodies open easier. The hypnobirth is often faster than regular births, it is less exhausting and the labor can actually be pain free! Women who use this technique report feeling little or no pain – just a tightening sensation and a feeling of pressure.

There are many hypnosis classes that aim to teach future parents that childbirth is nothing to be afraid of. Parents end up losing their fear and thoughts over the immense pain they have been led to believe comes with childbirth. In place of the negative thoughts are positive ones that evaluate childbirth as a wonderful and natural process that a woman’s body is able to do with ease and comfort.

Mind Over Matter

While it certainly sounds easy to give birth if you’re self-hypnotized, it is important to learn hypnosis properly in order for it to work. Parents need to be realistic with the expectations they have about hypnotherapy. Be aware that it does take some work to be effective at self-hypnosis.

The type of hypnosis class you take can greatly affect the outcome and success rate of your therapy. Attending a childbirth hypnosis class is different from learning self-hypnosis techniques from a privately practicing hypnotherapist. Childbirth hypnosis classes are geared specifically around teaching coping methods for childbirth and can be a lot more involved.

Choosing A Hypnotherapist

Make sure you find someone who is experienced in dealing with childbirth. A regular hypnotherapist may have experience with pain management skills in general, but she may not have experience with childbirth coping methods. There are women who are trained in both hypnotherapy and childbirth education.

It is important to do some research on all your options before you finally decide on one. If it is at all possible, then interview a potential hypnotherapist or instructor first. A good hypnotherapist will do at least four sessions with you, although six to seven sessions are the ideal. The last session should take place a week before your expected due date. You should also receive some self hypnosis tapes or CDs that you can use at home to keep practicing your techniques.

Taking Hypnotherapy Classes

If childbirth hypnosis classes are available in your area, then look for one that offers at least 15 hours of instructions. Again, you should receive some tapes or CDs that you can use at home to practice. Before you sign up, inquire about how much experience your instructor has with childbirth hypnosis. Obviously, the more experienced the instructor, the more confident you can feel about your classes.

You and your partner will attend classes together so that you can both learn the technique. Classes can be taken in a group or privately. Four to seven sessions are recommended, including that last important visit one week before your due date. If there are no classes available nearby, you can also take a home-study course.

Empower Yourself

Giving birth is one of life’s most incredible moments. When you feel calm and confident during your labor, you will enjoy it and will remember it as a joyous and positive experience. In fact, hypnotherapy will also give you a sense of peace throughout your pregnancy. And once you master self-hypnosis, you can continue to use the technique to help you through many of life’s stressful moments."

So... what do you think? Please write and let me know! I'm very curious!

Breathe Deep.
Amanda xo

Don't forget to check out what is on Ana's mind today...

Please download the ethereal sounds of "Grizzly Bear"...upper right -

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

... a stitch in time...

Ten years ago, I was diagnosed with cervical dysplasia, a.k.a precancerous cells inundating the cervix caused, in my case, by the HPV (Human Papilloma Virus)... a very common (be careful!!!) sexually transmitted disease that can wreak havoc on the female reproductive organs. According to a July 7, 2010 report by (The Center for Disease Control), "Human Papillomavirus (pap-ah-LO-mah-VYE-rus) (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States. At least 50% of sexually active people will have genital HPV at some time in their lives." As a result, I had two invasive, but successful surgeries that left my cervix markedly smaller, but functional... until now.

In order to return to teaching on August 31st... as previously mentioned... I will have a procedure that will, essentially, keep the pollywog from falling out through the compromised cervix. This is a common procedure, and can be a lifesaver, literally, for many pregnant women. Read about it below:

"When a woman’s cervix is weak (sometimes called an incompetent cervix) she is more likely to have a baby born prematurely because the cervix shortens or opens too early. In order to prevent premature labor, a woman’s doctor may recommend a cervical cerclage. A cerclage is used to prevent these early changes in a woman’s cervix, thus preventing premature labor. A closed cervix helps a developing baby stay inside the uterus until the mother reaches 37-38 weeks of pregnancy.

What is cervical cerclage?

Treatment for cervical incompetence is a surgical procedure called cervical cerclage, in which the cervix is sewn closed during pregnancy. The cervix is the lowest part of the uterus and extends into the vagina.

Why is cervical cerclage used?

A cervical cerclage procedure may be used if a woman’s cervix is at risk of opening under the pressure of the growing pregnancy. A weak cervix may be the result of:
History of second-trimester micarriages

A previous “cone biospy” or a “LEEP” procedure

Damaged cervix by pregnancy termination

When is a cervical cerclage used?

The best time for the cervical cerclage procedure is in the third month (12-14 weeks) of pregnancy. However, some women may need a cerclage placed later in pregnancy; this is known as an emergent cerclage and is necessary after changes such as opening or shortening of the cervix have already begun. If an emergent cerclage is required, future pregnancies will probably also require a cervical cerclage.

What are alternatives to the cervical cerclage procedure?

If changes in the cervix are found very late in pregnancy, or if the cervix has already opened up significantly, bed rest may be the best alternative.

What are the benefits of a cerclage?

Cervical cerclage helps prevent miscarriage or premature labor caused by cervical incompetence. The procedure is successful in 85% to 90% of cases. Cervical cerclage appears to be effective when true cervical incompetence exists, but unfortunately the diagnosis of cervical incompetence is very difficult and can be inaccurate.

Why doesn’t every woman who has had a preterm baby need a cerclage?

Only women with an abnormal or “incompetent” cervix can be helped by a cerclage. However, even with the help of a cerclage, other problems can cause labor to begin too early. Women who have a cerclage placed will need to be checked routinely for other complications such as infection and preterm labor.

What should I expect before my cervical cerclage is placed?

Your medical history will be reviewed and a thorough exam of your cervix including a transvaginal ultrasound performed by a doctor who specializes in high risk pregnancies

Your doctor will discuss pain control options for the procedure

Write down any questions or concerns you may want to discuss with your health care provider

What happens during the cervical cerclage procedure?

Most women have general, spinal, or epidural anesthesia for pain control during the procedure. A doctor will stitch a band of strong thread around the cervix, and the thread will be tightened to hold the cervix firmly closed.

What can I expect after the procedure?

You may stay in the hospital for a few hours or overnight to be monitored for premature contractions or labor.

Immediately after the procedure you may experience light bleeding and mild cramping, which should stop after a few days. This may be followed by an increased thick vaginal discharge, which may continue for the remainder of the pregnancy.

You may receive medication to prevent infection or preterm labor.

For 2-3 days after the procedure, plan to relax at home; avoid any unnecessary physical activity.

Your doctor will discuss with you when would be the appropriate time to resume regular activites.

Abstinence from sexual intercourse is often recommended for one week before and at least one week after the procedure.

How long is the cerclage stitch left in?

Generally the thread is removed at the 37th week of pregnancy, but it can be removed before if a woman’s water breaks or contractions start. Most stitches are removed in the doctor’s office without any problems. The procedure is similar to having a pap smear and may cause some light bleeding.

What are the risks of having a cerclage placed?

The likelihood of risks occuring is very minimal, and most health professionals feel a cerclage is a life saving procedure that outweighs the possible risks involved. Possible risks could include:

Premature contractions
Cervical dystocia (inability of the cervix to dilate normally in the course of labor)
Rupture of membranes
Cervical infection
Cervical laceration if labor happens before the cerclage is removed
Some risks associated with general anesthesia include vomiting and nausea

Are there signs I should look for after the cerclage is placed that indicate a problem?

It is important to contact your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms after your cerclage is placed:

Contractions or cramping
Lower abdominal or back pain that comes and goes like labor pain
Vaginal bleeding
A fever over 100 F or 37.8 C, or chills
Nausea and vomiting
Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
Your water breaking or leaking

So... there you have it! For more information... check out the website above.
Album of the Day - this album!
don't forget to check out Ana's World at
Download the Song of the Day(top right) -

Amanda xo

Monday, August 16, 2010

Harvest Moon... Feeling the Effects?

Cerclage... I still cannot bring myself to bore you with the details of a boring cervical stitch... so forget it! Let's talk about fun and interesting stuff that will make you forget about the mundane, boring cervical stitches we call life stuff. There is always tomorrow.

In this event... can I interest you in something much more interesting? It is harvest time, the moon is bright and halved... and there is a wonderful, Celtic, neo-pagan ritual holiday called Lughnassad (Lammas, Grain Festival, SportsFest). The pagan calendar says it is August 1st... but like the summer solstice or any other holiday based on seasons, growth, and crops... why not celebrate throughout the "dog days" of summer, to bridge the gap between summer and autumn? I tend to find this idea refreshing, as the onset of autumn has historically been synonymous with a serious case of the blues ...for me, anyway.

According to (
Lughnassad (one pronunciation of this Sabbat loo-na-sa) is the fourth and final fire festival of the Pagan year. The God and Goddess have entered into later adulthood (ages 30-50). The child of the union is grown and independent. This is the time that the God and Goddess enjoy their time together. Each are growing older and beginning to prepare for the decent into old age. The God's powers are waning greatly as winter approaches and the sun dies out.

Agriculturally, Lughnassad is the time of the first harvest of the season. Each day's work is backbreaking, as ancient farmers did not have technological equipment such as tractors. When the last of the first harvest is reaped and stored for the winter months, the men spent Lughnassad in sport and leisure. The threshold time was noon, when a magnificent feast was prepared by the womenfolk while the men relaxed.

In modern traditions, the day is spent playing games such as soccer, rugby, softball, or volleyball. The woman traditionally cook meals with wine, breads, fruits, and vegetables that are enjoyed by all. Tables are decorated with corn stalks, fall flowers, red, blue, and orange candles, Corn dollies are another traditional favorite. Dolls representing the God and the Goddess were often crafted from dried corn stocks. This can be a creative activity for children. Lughnassad is also a wonderful time to can some fresh fruits for the coming winter months.

Strangely, during this period trial marriages were arranged. Trial marriages lasted from a day to a year and reflected partnership, not sexuality. Trial marriages were excellent for male and female friends who were otherwise not attached in a relationship.

Traditionally, it also represents the period in life when the children have grown and a husband and wife can enjoy the remainder of their marriage together without distraction of young children. Although children are always revered above all, this is the time that mother and father cut the proverbial umbilical cord and allow their adult children to seek independence. For the first time since the conception of their children, husband and wife share each other's company as partners as opposed to parents.

In addition, Lughnassad is also a time that marriages can be dissolved. (Divorce is not a bad word to Pagans)The pagan tradition believes that all humans grow and change, and respect the free will to move on and support divorce decisions. Most handfasts include a section that states if both parties wish, they simply go their seperate ways. If the handfast was legal, legal divorce procedures must be met in the accordance of the law if one of the divorees wishes to remarry.

To harbor the good energy of Lughnassad, burning incense is recommended:
Marigold, sunflower, golden pipes, rye, garlic, onion, marigold, mugwort.

Want to read more about this and other really great traditions? I highly recommend purchasing and reading this:

Happy Harvesting...
Amanda xo

p.s don't forget to check out what's happening in Ana's World...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Think Good Thoughts...

I was going to talk about the specifics of a prospective surgery called cervical cerclage for those of you who are interested... but I've decided to save that for another rainy day, and talk about something important, uplifting... and perhaps, enlightening!

“Life lesson # 26: You must show more respect for the invisible world. Because often what you don’t see is what you get. And look at harmonic resonance – which you can look at, on any two guitars. When an “E” string is plucked on one, it will resonate on the other. You believe harmonic resonance works with people, too. When you speak openly from your heart, the hearts of others seem to open. This is because you are helping the people around you to vibrate at your same higher harmonic level. You’ve heard this called ‘companion energy.’ And you believe that in the same way the invisible germs of a cold can be contagious, the invisible energy of thoughts are contagious.”

That comes from a fantastic read entitled "How to Be Happy Dammit: A Cynic's Guide to Spiritual Happiness" by Karen Salmansohn

Read It! Good Stuff -

In my humble opinion, this IS a universal truth; thoughts are contagious and DO resonate. We can feel them... universally... and so can others. Energy. Good Vibes. Bad Vibes. You know what I am talking about.

Thoughts can be felt in any language, translated into energy fields around the body and manifest through action and emotion. I also think that they transcend time and space. For instance, if we send thoughts out to or about a person who has passed, they (or their soul) WILL experience the energy ... and we will feel the repercussions of our own energy that cradles our thoughts as a result. I have experienced this countless times in my life, and I am sure that you have, too. It is just a constant reminder that regardless of time, space, proximity... we are all in this together.

Here is a savvy quip from that broaches this topic. Enjoy it!

"As the song says, 'Don’t worry! Be happy!' Was this just a catchy little slogan or was the reason millions were attracted to this song because we all instinctively realize that just being happy may be one of life’s answers? As a matter of fact, most of the research into the connection between mind and body has uncovered a direct relationship between happy thoughts and a healthy body.

The knowledge that our thoughts influence our bodies has been around for a long time. Even in the Bible it is written, 'As a man thinketh in his heart so is he.' Today most would agree that what we think is connected to how we feel. But it goes much further than that. All the evidence gathered throughout the centuries indicates that our thoughts influence every aspect of the body, down to the health and functioning of every cell.

You might say our bodies are but a mirror of what and how we think. This can be best explained if we take the vantage point that science, especially quantum physicals, may offer. From this perspective, everything is considered to be energy. This naturally would include our thoughts. As energy, the thoughts we create can be measured by their vibrational frequency. This energy generated in the brain can then travel via the nervous system to the rest of the body. There is actually a nerve fiber going to every cell.

The body mirrors our thoughts. An interesting phenomenon occurs when energies come together. First of all, energies of similar frequencies attract each other and if frequencies that are slightly different are brought together one begins to change to match the other. An example of this would be in a room full of pianos. When a key is struck on one of the pianos it has been found that all the other pianos begin to resonate with the same note. In the body, this would mean that the original healthy frequencies of the cells will begin to resonate with the frequencies of our thoughts that are being carried to the cells by the nerves. Hence the body mirrors our thoughts.

Thus, research has shown that happy thoughts resonate with cellular frequencies that are a match for health, whereas unhappy thoughts resonate with vibrational patterns found in disease, illness, degeneration, and decay.

Unfortunately, knowing that positive thoughts enhance and negative thoughts detract doesn’t automatically result in a change of thinking for most of us. We have learned how to think from the moment of our very first breath and thus have developed a rather strong habit of thinking in a certain pattern. And as our society has a tendency to support this pattern of thinking we have developed, as most of us have found out, changing our ways isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to accomplish.

But it can be done! Thinking thoughts that feel good will have an amazing impact upon your health and life. The power of a positive thought, regardless of origin and duration, has been documented. This means that thinking thoughts that feel good, either by using your imagination or memory for a few moments a day, will have an amazing impact upon your health and life. In addition, it also begins to develop a habit pattern that eventually, without stress, pain or resistance, allows you to exchange any habits of negative thinking with this practiced positive pattern."

In addition, I also recommend checking out this website, for more interesting reading about The Law of Resonance:

Sweet Dreams...
Amanda xo
(Don't forget to check out what's happening in Ana's World at
also... download the song of the day! Upper Right Margin)

Braxton Hicks...Shopping...Cerclage... Just Plain Weird.

I'm not sure if it is because I have such profoundly anti-social tendencies that make the idea of a "shower" of any kind, whether it be about as appealing to me as removing my own eyeball with a spoon, or if I truly believe what I say is my reason of opposition; no one should be obligated to buy a gift for the pollywog because she received an invitation. A gift should be just that... a gift. Frankly, it is probably a combination of both of these, right wrong, or indifferent.

In that event, I spent the afternoon today with my mom (Linderloo), my niece (Hannah) and my sister (Amy) shopping for essentials for the pollywog, and was "showered" with their gifts, and Hannah's excitement. When I arrived at Amy's home, Hannah ... who is eight, presented me with a true gift from the heart; she went to "Build-A-Bear" two days ago and created a bunny, clad in a jumper for the pollywog... and proceeded to tell me that she slept with it for two nights to give it love. So sweet!

So where does Braxton Hicks come in? Well... it is the only reason that I can come up with for constant upper abdominal tightening for the past few days, and today... it came in waves while we sauntered through "Baby's R Us" and a WONDERFUL second hand store that I highly recommend in Allentown, PA called "Rock A Bye Baby." You can look them up on FACEBOOK. Not only was it ideal for deals on essentials, but they had wonderful children's clothing and books, too... AND the ladies who were running the show there were a delight and VERY accomodating!

So... back to Braxton Hicks. Weird stuff, and if it doesn't subside, perhaps I will give the obstetrician a call tomorrow. What does it feel like? It feels like something is trying desperately to push through my abdominal cavity, and is suppressing my lungs in the process...intermittently. Franks thinks that I am just stretching and making room, but I don't know. Breathing is labored, and I feel...well...for lack of a better description...weird.

According to

"You may have heard this funny phrase before you were pregnant, but now you really want to know what it means. It all started in 1872 when an English doctor, John Braxton Hicks, described the contractions that occur before real labor. Can you imagine constantly thinking,'This must be it,' and then it wasn't. Doctors and pregnant women have Dr. Hicks to thank for clearing up all the confusion. The following information will help you determine when you are having 'the real thing' or Braxton Hicks contractions.

What are Braxton Hicks contractions?

Braxton Hicks contractions can begin as early as the second trimester, however they are most common in the third trimester. The muscles of your uterus tighten for approximately 30 to 60 seconds or as long as 2 minutes. Braxton Hicks are also called “practice contractions” because they will prepare you for the real thing and you can practice the breathing exercises you are learning in your childbirth classes.

Braxton Hicks are described as:

Irregular in intensity
More uncomfortable than painful
They do not increase in intensity, or frequency
They taper off and then disappear altogether
If your contractions are easing up in any way, they are most likely Braxton Hicks.

What causes Braxton Hicks contractions?

There are a few speculations for why women have these contractions. Some physicians and midwives think they may play a part in toning the uterine muscle and promoting the flow of blood to the placenta. They are not believed to have any connection with dilating the cervix, but may have some effect on the softening of the cervix. However, as Braxton Hicks contractions become more intense closer to the time of delivery, the contractions are considered false labor, which can help in the dilation and effacement process.

What triggers Braxton Hicks contractions?

The following are triggers of Braxton Hicks:

When you or the baby are very active
If someone touches your belly
When your bladder is full
After sex

What can I do to alleviate Braxton Hicks contractions?
Change positions; lie down if you have been standing or go for a walk if you have been sitting or laying
Take a warm bath for 30 minutes or less
Drink a couple of glasses of water, because contractions may be brought on by dehydration
Drink a warm cup of herbal tea or milk

If doing any of these does not alleviate your contractions, you should contact your health care provider."

Perhaps it has something to do with 100 degree temperatures? This is a TRUE test of patience.

...stay tuned for tomorrow's exciting installment... where I will tell you all about an impending surgery that I may have to partake in... so that I CAN go back to teaching before taking maternity leave! Cervical Cerclage (which would also make a GREAT band name).

Please don't forget to check out what is going on in Ana's world at:

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

When the Stars Align...Happy Birthday Leo Cats!

My "take it easy" officially started today, not by choice. My energy level was at an all time low, and a horrific, chest rattling cough that
I have had for about eight days prompted me to FINALLY seek medical attention. Honestly, all the talk about a shrinking cervix and the like gave me ghastly delusions of the possibility of a cough-induced projectile pollywog; I will leave out the sordid details.

Alas, medical attention was the right outlet; bronchitis had settled into my chest days ago... and had moved into the upper cavity, wreaking havoc and requiring antibiotics. So, in my energy lull and deluded state,
I ventured into one of my favorite reading subjects... Astrology. I was thinking that if I were to accidentally give birth today, the pollywog would be a Leo, and that Leo's are some of my favorite people; lion-like and larger than life whether it be in action or in expectation. Leo's are super interesting, super self-absorbed, and grandiose.. in my eyes.
My dear friend Jerilyn who is all of these things and more is an August 1st Baby, my dear friend Brian had a birthday yesterday, August 8... and my dear friend Sean has a birthday today, August 9. They all share 37 years, are all Leo babies, and are all GRAND... lion-like... in completely different ways. Jerilyn is a Queen, workaholic and born actress who will NOT settle for second best...rightfully so! Brian is Driven by beauty and aesthetics ... a born artist who demands perfection, and works tirelessly to achieve it. Sean is a brooding artist whose self-deprecating behavior is simply a defense mechanism that protects him from being disappointed with himself; he is afraid of success because of the possibility of failure (in my very humble opinion).

And I, Amanda the very fickle Gemini, personality fluctuations from one moment to the next, am very heady... and enjoy thinking about these things, for whatever that is worth.

Perhaps you are interested in some good, Astrological reading. I have
a GREAT recommendation for you:

I am very fond of this book, and I'm sure that you will be to. It is
a great read to get you through these sweltering days. Mindless, yet mindful... if that is possible. Enjoy!

I leave you with something very interesting that I realized is pertinent to 8/8 and 8/9. The following is a letter taken from my debut novel "Dear Prudence" that focuses on those specific dates, is very insightful as far as experience with mental illness is concerned, and is loosely based on some Leo comrades that I speak of above. Perhaps it will make you think, commiserate... or simply entertain you. In any case, enjoy!

3/23- Sink

Dear Briar -

Did you know that the day of your 22nd birthday, Jerry Garcia died?
I remember it so well; it was the evening between 8/8 and 8/9, 1995. He died at a drug rehabilitation center. I swear that my heart sunk for all of the forty and fifty-something burn-outs who did nothing for twenty years but get wasted, follow The Grateful Dead, and live day to day off of their cash crops and kitchen LSD. Their demi-god had passed, not to mention the innovator of the jam band, talented musician and a seemingly downright jolly guy. That was the first thing that I heard when I woke on 8/9, Seth's 22nd birthday, and let me tell you, it foreshadowed one of the weirdest days of my three decade existence.

I remember that I spoke with Seth, and we planned a birthday night of anything goes, which I thought consisted of booze, pot, perhaps a line of coke, and a birthday cake. I remember I had dinner with Jesse, and Nana, my sister, my parents and my friend Anj, who read our palms after dinner. I then ventured off to Seth’s, only to find booze, a joint, a birthday cupcake, and two chalky yellow lines waiting for me on the kitchen counter. “That doesn’t look like coke,” I said to Seth, who I knew had been dabbling all too much in this new world. “It’s not. Try it,” he said. “You snort it up just like coke. You’ll love it.”

I polished off my beer that I was drinking, pulled my hair back into
a ponytail, and snorted up both lines, feeling it burn and drip into the back of my throat. It tasted different than coke. It tasted chalky yellow like it looked, it didn’t numb my teeth and my nostrils, and it didn’t give my saliva that familiar metallic taste. But I was immediately drawn to the denim couch in the soft light of Seth’s cedar den, sunk down into its blue cushioning, and fell into the most overwhelming euphoria that I had ever known. I felt like Alice, in control of my speed as I drifted down the rabbit hole. I was wrapped in chemical warmth, and I was frightened for a moment; not by the sensations, but by how good they felt. For a split second, I understood addiction. All my crazy feelings, insecurities and inhibitions melted, and I didn’t hurt. I was wrapped in a cloud.

Later, the nightmare set in. When I was coming down I felt like a child, lost in a public place, panicking and screaming for my mother. All
I wanted was to be comforted, and all Seth wanted was to be alone. I have memory clips of me crying, then laughing and shivering, and walking up the picture-lined stairs to Seth’s bedroom, looking at him and his brother's childhood photo memories, wondering where it all went wrong for Seth;
I didn’t see it in his young face. I made my way into his dark bedroom, and climbed into bed with him, searching for a blanket, comfort, anything. I kept curling up closer and closer, and he would just move away.

I lay there, Heroin fading, and my reality started to creep back into my mind: your birthday, waiting tables, Jesse’s smile, my parent’s snoring, the blue light of the Yankee’s game dancing on Nanny’s face, Violet’s advice, and I just wanted to be in my bed snuggling with my cat, Henry ... safe.
Love, Ana

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A New Challenge! Frustration solved only by melted peanut butter, spooned onto ice cream (remember our discovery, Jen?) ;)

So my plans have changed... drastically. My zealous approach to the work world and teaching has been placed on pause because of an obstetric discovery; a shrinking cervix. Hmmmmm. Sounds personal, doesn't it? Well the medical fear with this new discovery (everything else is okay with the pollywog) is a condition referred to as an incompetent cervix. According to, during pregnancy, as the baby grows and gets heavier, it presses on the cervix. This pressure may cause the cervix to start to open before the baby is ready to be born. This condition is called incompetent cervix or weakened cervix, and it may lead to a miscarriage or premature delivery. However, an incompetent cervix happens in only about 1 out of 100 pregnancies.

I am considered high risk because of this, and have to watch for creepy signs of pre-term labor. Exciting stuff. Hence, my plan to go back to teaching in September for the first marking period...maternity leave the second... teach third and fourth has been altered. I have to "take it easy" which is a challenge for me. I think that I would prefer removing my eyeball with a spoon over being placed on bed rest or something in that realm.

So, for the first time in my life... I am going to take the "take it easy"...seriously. The Pollywog has three more months to do her thing before entering this new realm; I'm certain that she wants to hang a while longer and enjoy melted peanut butter spooned over ice cream in utero (that is for you, jen). In essence, a new challenge has been placed in my lap (literally) and monetarily it will be taxing to wait to return to work until half year, but like everything else... this ,too, shall pass.

In researching, this is what I have learned, and things to be aware of for those of you who are expecting and are not familiar with this bizarro condition:

According to

"What causes an incompetent or weakened cervix?

A weakened cervix can be caused by one or more of the following conditions:
Previous surgery on the cervix
Damage during a difficult birth
Malformed cervix or uterus from a birth defect
Previous trauma to the cervix, such as a D&C (dilation and curettage) from a termination or a miscarriage
DES (Diethylstilbestrol) exposure

How will I know if I have an incompetent cervix?

Incompetent cervix is not routinely checked for during pregnancy and therefore is not usually diagnosed until after a second or third trimester miscarriage has occurred.

Women can be evaluated before pregnancy, or in early pregnancy by ultrasound, if they have any of the factors that are potential causes of incompetent cervix. Diagnosis can be made by your physician though a pelvic exam or by an ultrasound. The ultrasound would be used to measure the cervical opening or the length of the cervix.

How often does an incompetent cervix happen?

An incompetent or weakened cervix happens in about 1-2% of pregnancies. Almost 25% of babies miscarried in the second trimester are due to incompetent cervix.

What is the treatment for a weakened cervix?

The treatment for an incompetent or weakened cervix is a procedure that sews the cervix closed to reinforce the weak cervix. This procedure is called a cerclage and is usually performed between week 14-16 of pregnancy. These sutures will be removed between 36-38 weeks to prevent any problems when you go into labor. Removal of the cerclage does not result in spontaneous delivery of the baby. A woman would not be eligible for a cerclage if:

There is increased irritation of the cervix
The cervix has dilated 4cm
Membranes have ruptured
Possible complications of cervical cerclage include uterine rupture, maternal hemorrhage, bladder rupture, cervical laceration, preterm labor and premature rupture of the membranes. The likelihood of these risks is very minimal, and most health care providers feel that a cerclage is a life saving procedure that is worth the possible risks involved."

In the interim, which feels like an eternity (I am sure you can relate)...
I will think positive thoughts, read lots of great books, listen to amazing music, write plenty, and eat copious amounts of melted peanut butter... and whatever else tickles the pollywogs fancy.

xo Amanda

Download of the Day (GREAT Band)!!! A sensory treat!

Please Check Out The Song of the Day and Read of the right! And while you are at it, don't forget to peek into Ana's Secret World:

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Dear Grammy...Secrets

Initially, I meant to post this on the other BLOG...

It is MOST interesting, pertinent... and perhaps it will entice you to read the other BlOG too! Insightful... it will stay for this eve -
xo Amanda

Evening of 3/12 -Secret
Dear Grammy-

... or should I refer to you as the beautiful Katharina from Holland. Oh no I have not forgotten about you, except I am sure that you have reincarnated into my Niece, Jane. I can see it in her eyes. Jane loves her Bop; my dad; your son. It is you, and I am apprehensive about telling my sister this; she doesn’t take kindly to anything suggested outside her realm of understanding. Who am I kidding; she already knows that I am nuts. But I like to protect her from upsetting things; I cannot stand to see her suffer. You were one of seven siblings so I know that you can relate. I always wished that my sister and I would have been close growing up like you and your sister Annie. I remember you used to tell me stories about how you and Annie used to go to the beach, meet boys and double date. You were so beautiful, the two of you. Real 1920's and 1930's sirens! I can just picture you laughing, smoking, and deliciously flirting in the rumble seat of your flavor-of-the day’s car.

Amber and I were so different growing up, not to mention she was 5 years older than me. Poor Amber … she was forced to be my surrogate mother because I was such an unruly sister, and because my parents both had their own businesses to attend to. Amber called the shots, therefore we constantly fought. It wasn’t until later that we were able to fall in love again, like small children.

Luckily, she hasn’t been afflicted with this mental yuck. Neither were you, thank God. Heaven knows you had enough to contend with: a brain tumor and experimental surgery in the 1950's, and a husband who died in a jail cell in Mexico while on a business trip, because the police wouldn’t give him his heart medication. That love affair is a novel unto itself; Katharina and Harry: Martinis and Mayhem. You managed to live thirty more years after Harry died in 1969. My mom told me that she asked you whether or not you would marry again, and you placed your manicured hand down on her lap and smiled, “Peg ... I will never be subservient to a man, again.”

I found it very interesting that mental illness did run in your husband’s side of the family. I never knew that Harry’s mom, a beautiful young woman from Sweden, was swept off her feet by Harry’s father, who was a French/German sea captain (who knows- they were descendants of Alseiz-Lorraine in France, on the border of Germany). Because of his nomadic lifestyle, he took her away from everything she knew, including her language, and they lived from port to port. He left her for months at a time, and on his brief visits at home they had two children: my grandfather Harry, and my great Aunt, Hazel. Sadly, I never met either of them. She raised them alone, and she felt abandoned, and terribly depressed. When she became pregnant for a third time, out of desperation, she attempted to abort the fetus herself, and hemorrhaged to death; a successful suicide.

Some might say, “how could a woman take her life when she has children to love and raise?” That is where mental illness sadly prevails. Someone who is suffering is consumed with thoughts of nothing but her or himself. It is the most selfish disease: dear me, woe is me, are they looking at me, why me, and why not me. You really can suffocate beneath Sylvia Plath’s “Bell Jar.” It exists, and it is all-encompassing.

Love, Ana

Ana's Read of the Day

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Diapers for the Pollywog? What about Me?

Undoubtedly one of THE crowning moments in Saturday Night Live History, in my humble opinion, is their "Oops... I Crapped My Pants" skit. Do You remember it? "Oops I Crapped My Pants" was an adult diaper product... hence a "Depends" parody. It was good, old fashioned gutteral potty humor that knows no boundaries; I love it... and I feel no shame! I guarantee if you are not well-versed in this parody skit, you can find it on Go ahead... tickle your intellect.

Alas, I will be foregoing looking up the skit because as of late, I find, if I may unabashedly admit, that I am living it and cannot afford a good belly laugh without it! I'm afraid that none of the pregnancy reads have alerted me to the fact that a deep belly chuckle, a cough, a sneeze or the like would lead to peeing in my pants! And with the dry cough that has been keeping me awake the past few nights... well, need I explain?

All the Kegels in the world are not improving this affliction, so I decided to research the incontinence experts (incontinence experts - great band name or t-shirt slogan). I'm simply trying to find the humor in all of this below-the-belt mayhem.

First of all, we (assuming I am not the alone one with this affliction) are not alone in our growing need for "Oops I Crapped My Pants." Web MD states the following: "During pregnancy, many women experience at least some degree of urinary incontinence, which is the involuntary loss of urine. The incontinence may be mild and infrequent for some pregnant women. But it can be more severe for others. Incontinence can continue after pregnancy and may not be present right after childbirth. Some women do not have bladder problems until they reach their 40s."

Oh Goody.

The August 5, 2010 Web MD edition continues:

"What Types of Incontinence Are Experienced During and After Pregnancy?

The kind of incontinence experienced during pregnancy is usually stress incontinence. Stress incontinence is the loss of urine caused by increased pressure on the bladder. In stress incontinence, the bladder sphincter does not function well enough to hold in urine.

What Causes Incontinence During and After Pregnancy?

Urinary incontinence during pregnancy can also be the result of an overactive bladder. Women who have an overactive bladder need to urinate more than usual because their bladders have uncontrollable spasms. In addition, the muscles surrounding the urethra -- the tube through which urine passes from the bladder -- can be affected. These muscles are meant to prevent urine from leaving the body, but they may be "overridden" if the bladder has a strong contraction.

The bladder sphincter is a muscular valve that lies at the bottom of the bladder. It works to control the flow of urine. In pregnancy, the expanding uterus puts pressure on the bladder. The muscles in the bladder sphincter and in the pelvic floor can be overwhelmed by the extra stress or pressure on the bladder. Urine may leak out of the bladder when there is additional pressure exerted -- for example, when a pregnant woman coughs or sneezes."

Well, that explains that! So what happens next, and is there anything we can do to quell these leaks?

Web MD states:

"After pregnancy, incontinence problems may continue because childbirth weakens the pelvic floor muscles, which can cause an overactive bladder. Pregnancy and childbirth also may contribute to bladder control problems because of the following conditions:

* Damage to the nerves that control the bladder
* The fact that the urethra and bladder have moved during pregnancy
* An episiotomy, a cut made in the pelvic floor muscle during delivery
of a baby to allow the fetus to come out more easily

How Is Urinary Incontinence During Pregnancy Treated?
Behavioral methods such as timed voiding and bladder training can be helpful in treating urinary incontinence during and after pregnancy. These techniques are often used first and can be done at home. The changes in habits that behavioral methods involve do not have serious side effects.

To practice timed voiding, you use a chart or diary to record the times that you urinate and when you leak urine. This will give you an idea of your leakage "patterns" so that you can avoid leaking in the future by going to the bathroom at those times.

In bladder training, you "stretch out" the intervals at which you go to the bathroom by waiting a little longer before you go. For instance, to start, you can plan to go to the bathroom once an hour. You follow this pattern for a period of time. Then you change the schedule to going to the bathroom every 90 minutes. Eventually you change it to every two hours and continue to lengthen the time until you are up to three or four hours between bathroom visits.

Another method is to try to postpone a visit to the bathroom for 15 minutes with the first urge. Do this for two weeks and then increase the amount of time to 30 minutes and so on.

In certain cases, devices can be used to block the urethra or to strengthen the pelvic muscles. In addition, medications also can be helpful in controlling muscle spasms in the bladder or strengthening the muscles in the urethra. Some drugs can help to relax an overactive bladder.

What Are Kegel Exercises?
Kegel exercises are another method that can be used to help control urinary incontinence. These exercises help tighten and strengthen the muscles in the pelvic floor. Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles can improve the function of the urethra and rectal sphincter.

One way to find the Kegel muscles is to sit on the toilet and begin urinating. Then stop urinating mid-stream. The muscles that you use to stop the flow of urine are the Kegel muscles. Another way to help locate the Kegel muscles is to insert a finger into the vagina and try to make the muscles around your finger tighter.

To perform Kegel exercises, you should:

Keep your abdominal, thigh, and buttocks muscles relaxed
Tighten the pelvic floor muscles
Hold the muscles until you count to 10
Relax the pelvic floor muscles until you count to 10
Do 10 Kegel exercises in the morning, afternoon, and at night. They can be done anytime -- while driving or sitting at your desk. Women who do Kegel exercises tend to see results in four to six weeks."

Of all of the books that I have perused, the one that seemed the most helpful, pregnant and incontinent, or simply suffering from incontinence for other medical reasons, this is the best thus far. Check it out! It comes with a coupon for a months supply of "Oops I crapped My Pants"... bad joke. But good read:

Humbly, Amanda xo

Download of the Day - "Hunky Dory" - David Bowie ENJOY IT ... and play it loud!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Doldrums... Just "Dig A Pony"

Some days are just dark; I've learned to accept this, but I still don't understand it. That is part of the great mystery; that is part of this mental affliction. Even if there is sunshine... even if there is a breeze, birds chirping, clouds billowing, water to jump into... it still happens. I guess I could just say "such is life," and "this too shall pass" because it will, inevitably. But the reality of it is this; unjustifiable sadness hurts, and the frustration that goes along with trying to rationalize it, even when we know this cannot be done, is profound. How could I possibly feel darkness when things are, in the large scheme of things, positive? Talk about guilt... the vicious cycle.

I am writing this because today was that kind of day... for no reason. People's words, kind or simply indifferent, were like daggers in my brain, the sky was claustrophobic, the breeze was on another team, and touch felt cold... almost lifeless. I know that if you are reading this, are pregnant, suffer from depression or are simply HUMAN you can empathize with this on some level, and will appreciate an interesting article that I found published by ""

It is comforting to know that perhaps there is some sort of reason for this indescribably oppressive emotional state. Is it appropriate to point out that misery loves company? better days-
Amanda xo

"Depression is more than just feeling 'blue' or 'down in the dumps' for a few days. It’s a serious illness that involves the brain. With depression, sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings don’t go away and interfere with day-to-day life and routines. These feelings can be mild to severe. The good news is that most people with depression get better with treatment.

How common is depression during and after pregnancy?
Depression is a common problem during and after pregnancy. About 13 percent of pregnant women and new mothers have depression.

How do I know if I have depression?
When you are pregnant or after you have a baby, you may be depressed and not know it. Some normal changes during and after pregnancy can cause symptoms similar to those of depression. But if you have any of the following symptoms of depression for more than 2 weeks, call your doctor:

Feeling restless or moody
Feeling sad, hopeless, and overwhelmed
Crying a lot
Having no energy or motivation
Eating too little or too much
Sleeping too little or too much
Having trouble focusing or making decisions
Having memory problems
Feeling worthless and guilty
Losing interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
Withdrawing from friends and family
Having headaches, aches and pains, or stomach problems that don’t go away
Your doctor can figure out if your symptoms are caused by depression or something else.

What causes depression? What about postpartum depression?
There is no single cause. Rather, depression likely results from a combination of factors:

Depression is a mental illness that tends to run in families. Women with a family history of depression are more likely to have depression.
Changes in brain chemistry or structure are believed to play a big role in depression.
Stressful life events, such as death of a loved one, caring for an aging family member, abuse, and poverty, can trigger depression.
Hormonal factors unique to women may contribute to depression in some women. We know that hormones directly affect the brain chemistry that controls emotions and mood. We also know that women are at greater risk of depression at certain times in their lives, such as puberty, during and after pregnancy, and during perimenopause. Some women also have depressive symptoms right before their period.

Depression after childbirth is called postpartum depression. Hormonal changes may trigger symptoms of postpartum depression. When you are pregnant, levels of the female hormones estrogen (ESS-truh-jen) and progesterone (proh-JESS-tur-ohn) increase greatly. In the first 24 hours after childbirth, hormone levels quickly return to normal. Researchers think the big change in hormone levels may lead to depression. This is much like the way smaller hormone changes can affect a woman’s moods before she gets her period.

Levels of thyroid hormones may also drop after giving birth. The thyroid is a small gland in the neck that helps regulate how your body uses and stores energy from food. Low levels of thyroid hormones can cause symptoms of depression. A simple blood test can tell if this condition is causing your symptoms. If so, your doctor can prescribe thyroid medicine.

Other factors may play a role in postpartum depression. You may feel:

Tired after delivery
Tired from a lack of sleep or broken sleep
Overwhelmed with a new baby
Doubts about your ability to be a good mother
Stress from changes in work and home routines
An unrealistic need to be a perfect mom
Loss of who you were before having the baby
Less attractive
A lack of free time

Are some women more at risk for depression during and after pregnancy?
Certain factors may increase your risk of depression during and after pregnancy:

A personal history of depression or another mental illness
A family history of depression or another mental illness
A lack of support from family and friends
Anxiety or negative feelings about the pregnancy
Problems with a previous pregnancy or birth
Marriage or money problems
Stressful life events
Young age
Substance abuse
Women who are depressed during pregnancy have a greater risk of depression after giving birth.

If you take medicine for depression, stopping your medicine when you become pregnant can cause your depression to come back. Do not stop any prescribed medicines without first talking to your doctor. Not using medicine that you need may be harmful to you or your baby.

What is the difference between “baby blues,” postpartum depression, and postpartum psychosis?
Many women have the baby blues in the days after childbirth. If you have the baby blues, you may:

Have mood swings
Feel sad, anxious, or overwhelmed
Have crying spells
Lose your appetite
Have trouble sleeping
The baby blues most often go away within a few days or a week. The symptoms are not severe and do not need treatment.

The symptoms of postpartum depression last longer and are more severe. Postpartum depression can begin anytime within the first year after childbirth. If you have postpartum depression, you may have any of the symptoms of depression listed above. Symptoms may also include:

Thoughts of hurting the baby
Thoughts of hurting yourself
Not having any interest in the baby
Postpartum depression needs to be treated by a doctor.

Postpartum psychosis (seye-KOH-suhss) is rare. It occurs in about 1 to 4 out of every 1,000 births. It usually begins in the first 2 weeks after childbirth. Women who have bipolar disorder or another mental health problem called schizoaffective (SKIT-soh-uh-FEK-tiv) disorder have a higher risk for postpartum psychosis. Symptoms may include:

Seeing things that aren’t there
Feeling confused
Having rapid mood swings
Trying to hurt yourself or your baby

What should I do if I have symptoms of depression during or after pregnancy?
Call your doctor if:

Your baby blues don’t go away after 2 weeks
Symptoms of depression get more and more intense
Symptoms of depression begin any time after delivery, even many months later
It is hard for you to perform tasks at work or at home
You cannot care for yourself or your baby
You have thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
Your doctor can ask you questions to test for depression. Your doctor can also refer you to a mental health professional who specializes in treating depression.

Some women don’t tell anyone about their symptoms. They feel embarrassed, ashamed, or guilty about feeling depressed when they are supposed to be happy. They worry they will be viewed as unfit parents.

Any woman may become depressed during pregnancy or after having a baby. It doesn’t mean you are a bad or “not together” mom. You and your baby don’t have to suffer. There is help.

Here are some other helpful tips:

Rest as much as you can. Sleep when the baby is sleeping.
Don’t try to do too much or try to be perfect.
Ask your partner, family, and friends for help.
Make time to go out, visit friends, or spend time alone with your partner.
Discuss your feelings with your partner, family, and friends.
Talk with other mothers so you can learn from their experiences.
Join a support group. Ask your doctor about groups in your area.
Don’t make any major life changes during pregnancy or right after giving birth. Major changes can cause unneeded stress. Sometimes big changes can’t be avoided. When that happens, try to arrange support and help in your new situation ahead of time.

How is depression treated?
The two common types of treatment for depression are:

Talk therapy. This involves talking to a therapist, psychologist, or social worker to learn to change how depression makes you think, feel, and act.
Medicine. Your doctor can prescribe an antidepressant medicine. These medicines can help relieve symptoms of depression.
These treatment methods can be used alone or together. If you are depressed, your depression can affect your baby. Getting treatment is important for you and your baby. Talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks of taking medicine to treat depression when you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

What can happen if depression is not treated?
Untreated depression can hurt you and your baby. Some women with depression have a hard time caring for themselves during pregnancy. They may:

Eat poorly
Not gain enough weight
Have trouble sleeping
Miss prenatal visits
Not follow medical instructions
Use harmful substances, like tobacco, alcohol, or illegal drugs
Depression during pregnancy can raise the risk of:

Problems during pregnancy or delivery
Having a low-birth-weight baby
Premature birth
Untreated postpartum depression can affect your ability to parent. You may:

Lack energy
Have trouble focusing
Feel moody
Not be able to meet your child’s needs
As a result, you may feel guilty and lose confidence in yourself as a mother. These feelings can make your depression worse.

Researchers believe postpartum depression in a mother can affect her baby. It can cause the baby to have:

Delays in language development
Problems with mother-child bonding
Behavior problems
Increased crying
It helps if your partner or another caregiver can help meet the baby’s needs while you are depressed.

All children deserve the chance to have a healthy mom. And all moms deserve the chance to enjoy their life and their children. If you are feeling depressed during pregnancy or after having a baby, don’t suffer alone. Please tell a loved one and call your doctor right away."

For more information on depression during and after pregnancy, call at 1-800-994-9662 or contact the following organizations.

National Institute of Mental Health, NIH, HHS
Phone: (301) 496-9576
Internet Address:

National Mental Health Information Center, SAMHSA, HHS
Phone: (800) 789-2647
Internet Address:

American Psychological Association
Phone: (800) 374-2721
Internet Address:

National Mental Health Association
Phone: (800) 969-NMHA
Internet Address:

Postpartum Education for Parents
Phone: (805) 564-3888
Internet Address:

Postpartum Support International
Phone: (800) 944-4PPD, (800) 944-4773
Internet Address:

Check out this book:

P.S. - "The Beatles" always cheer me up... check out the song of the day and download it...In fact... it would be in your best interest to download all of the "Let It Be" album because it is perfect. (upper right hand margin)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Are You Lacking Vitamin "S"?

Two evenings ago after writing about my remarkable experience in Asbury Park, NJ... I settled in next to Franks and a couple of dogs for a long summer's nap. The fan blew... the curtains waved, the dogs snored... and
I stared at a windchime dance on the ceiling, feeling the pollywog swim about in my growing belly. It was all very pleasant until the cramps kicked in - and I mean cramps. They came on like a wave, and settled in like they were staying for a while. I snuck to the refrigerator for a gulp of Pedialyte, thinking perhaps it was just a dehydration issue, to no avail. I curled up on the couch and took deep breaths and surmised after analyzing the aches that it was...alas...intestinal pain. Not pleasant, but more welcome than an unhappy pollywog issue. Ugggh. I wasn't aware at that point that this "episode" of extreme unpleasantness would lead to 24 hours of complete exhaustion; dry heaves coupled with a sore throat/headache and a cough that required major kegels and/or an adult diaper. I had officially caught a tenacious, gratefully fast-slithering bug; a germ-infested intestinal millipede of sorts.

So here is where the Vitamin "S," comes in; the kind respite in my otherwise ill-fated evening. Before the diabolical storm set in and I was mearly awake with stomach cramps, settled slightly with some San Pellegrino, I decided to raid the cabinet for something sweet, thinking that is the only thing that I hadn't ingested as of late. The pollywog kept waving a chocolate flag in my mind and EUREKA! I found the mother load; hidden between a loaf of bread and a bag of tostado chips was a half-eaten package of Oreo Double Stuff... a VERY rare find in my household. While other children brought Devil Dogs and Twinkies to school for snack time as a child, my exotic sweet treat consisted of carrots with peanut butter and a handful of raisins. Catch my drift?

So in the darkness of the kitchen, the pollywog and I sat down with a monstrous glass of cold milk and half a package of Oreos and had a midnight, achy stomach suoiree; it was heaven. And the most remarkable part, within minutes my belly was sated, the cramps were gone, and the pollywog and I climbed comfortably into bed and slept soundly... until the intestinal storm set in, a few hours later. But in the interim, it was blissful and I can only attribute it to one thing; I must have been deficient in Vitamin "S," (sugar).

Post intestinal mayhem, I decided to research the medical benefits of sugar, to justify my theory that the half a package of Oreos really DID help my stomach cramps. As you have guessed, there are no medical journals to speak of that claim that my theory is beneficial to your health. Boo hiss. I thought I was on to something. But in my reading,
I did find some interesting facts about Vitamin S that may interest you, and assist you. The combination of Ginger and Honey or Raw, unprocessed sugar (never the white stuff or artificial sweeteners -bad bad bad for you) is remarkably good for an upset tummy, caused by indigestion, pregnancy, stress, anxiety, etc.

An article written by Jennifer Brett, N.D. for Discovery Health outlines the benefits of Ginger as follows:

Ginger is high in volatile oils, also known as essential oils. Volatile oils are the aromatic part of the plants that lend the flavor and aroma we associate with most culinary herbs. They are called "volatile" because as unstable molecules, they are given off freely into the atmosphere. But ginger isn't just a tasty meal addition. Its root is a popular herbal remedy for easing upset stomachs, bloating and more.

Uses for Ginger

Ginger root is effective in reducing nausea and also may be useful in reducing the pain, stiffness, and immobility of arthritis. Dosages of approximately 3 or 4 grams of ginger powder daily appear most effective for long-standing arthritis. But powder may not be the only effective form of ginger root: One study demonstrated a response from the ingestion of lightly cooked ginger.

Ginger has also has a long history of use as an antinausea herb recommended for morning sickness, motion sickness, and nausea that accompanies gastroenteritis (more commonly called stomach flu). As a stomach-calming agent, ginger also reduces gas, bloating, and indigestion, and aids in the body's use and absorption of other nutrients and medicines. It is also a valuable deterrent to intestinal worms, particularly roundworms.

Ginger may even improve some cases of constant severe dizziness and vertigo. It may also be useful for some migraine headaches. Ginger also prevents platelets from clumping together in the bloodstream. This serves to thin the blood and reduce your risk of atherosclerosis and blood clots.

A warming herb, ginger can promote perspiration when ingested in large amounts. It stimulates circulation, particularly in the abdominal and pelvic regions, and occasionally can promote menstrual flow. If you are often cold, you can use warm ginger to help raise your body temperature. When used topically, ginger stimulates circulation in the skin, and the volatile oils travel into underlying tissues.

Try ginger root poultices on the chest for lung congestion or on the abdomen for gas and nausea. Powdered ginger and essential oils are the strongest form of ginger for topical use.

As with anything else, EVERYTHING IN MODERATION (even Oreos... I guess).

I will leave you with a delicious recipe that I have been sipping on as of late, which includes Vitamin S... if you are deficient.I got the resipe from a terrific website that you should check out!

Ginger tea recipe
1-2 teaspoons of freshly grated ginger
2 cups water
Herbal tea leaves (chamomile and peppermint combine well with ginger)

Put the ginger and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
Simmer for 3-4 minutes.
Add herbal tea (if desired).
Cover with a lid and leave to stand for 5 minutes.
Sweeten with honey and/or raw, unprocessed sugar (if desired.)
Strain and drink, cold or hot.

( As with everything...) Cautions -
It is possible to have an allergic reaction to ginger, so increase your servings or dosages gradually.
Use only in low doses during pregnancy and check with your medical practitioner before using ginger.
If you are taking anti-coagulant (anti-clotting) medications, do not take ginger without your doctor’s permission.

Sip 'till Your Heart's Content -
Amanda xo

Two Book Recommendations:

Sunday, August 1, 2010

...then it falls away.

Do you contemplate the existence of soulmates? Do you ponder fate? Did the little pollywog swimming in my belly choose Frank(s) and me to raise her? Did you choose your parents as a lesson for you and for them? Have you ever met someone... even if it was for a few short moments and felt a connection so immediate and so profound that you are SURE on some level that you have known that person before... somehow, in some capacity?

Universe, as I like to refer to the beautiful energy that I pray to that manifests itself/herself/himself as an entity in every organized religion, works in mysterious ways, and I'd like to share a most remarkable moment with you that I experienced two evenings ago. I may not know much, but one thing I am sure of the Power of Love. It truly knows no bounds, and it manifests itself in innumerable ways and scenarios. We all feel it... we all have felt it... we all yearn for it. And if you have truly loved, then you have truly lost, too. Like any other beautiful thing, we cannot fully understand it without experiencing its polar opposite.

And to lose Love is the undoubtedly the worst pain in existence. I am sure that you concur, no matter what the relationship: parent, child, friend, pet, lover, spouse. It hurts. Beyond description. And after the grieving process wanes, and life seems to go on... there is always a flicker, a glimmer of that love that remains in our soul, easily reignited by our senses for one sweet moment... then it falls away, no matter how much time passes.

You see a face in a crowd, you smell a scent, you hear a song, taste rain... something. That soul is there, and touches you for a moment, good, bad or indifferent. And in my humble opinion, I think those are our souls communicating above and beyond the trivialities of everyday life: arguments, sadness, jealousy, anger. They (our souls) communicate in
a realm beyond the existence we live, to remind one another that we are soulmates, there are more than one, and life is a series of lessons that we are instumental in teaching each other; we will meet again beyond all of this with a new understanding.

I'm not sure if you are familiar with the boardwalk in Asbury Park, but
I have quite an affinity for it, and as of late, many fine folk have dumped large quantities of money into the region to rekindle it, aesthetically and culturally. And it has worked! It is beautiful, and
a great place to go out and about. On Thursday evening, my dear friend Jerilyn dragged me to the beach to visit her... to join the world of the living, and treated us to a wonderful evening out with two of her friends to an AIDS/HIV/Cancer benefit in the old Howard Johnson's on the boardwalk that is now a bi-level upscale restaurant. It was a dinner cabaret and it was a BLAST! The talent was incredible, and the predominantly gay male cast, with a smattering of gay female talent (volunteers) put on
a Broadway caliber show that was vastly entertaining! It was GREAT to be out, as I have spent much of my time this summer pregnant and reclusive. I guess that is my excuse.

Historically, the cabaret would just be the beginning of a raucous evening for Jerilyn and me, and simply a "happy hour" to prepare us for a night on the town in Asbury Park. There are always killer bands playing at "The Stone Pony," or "The Wonder Bar"... right off of the boardwalk... not to mention countless other venues that are in walking distance. Alas... times have changed, and we needed to get my sleepy bulbous belly home to bed, and jerilyn home to catch some zzz's; she had an early Friday start in the real estate world.

Around 11 PM, we sauntered out to the sidewalk to say our goodbyes to her friends, and I stared across the street at "The Wonder Bar," and listened to the sound of voices, glasses clanging, and the familiar sound of music equipment being plugged in and tuned over the subtle evening ocean behind us. My left ear was listening to the three of them chat, but my right ear was lost in the moment across the street; I had spent the majority of the last decade on Friday and Saturday evenings with Joe... who is a soulmate, was a love and friendship that was indescribably painful to let go on countless levels, and who will always be in my heart.

In bars, drinking beer and whiskey, anticipating his performance, I would wait for him to perform, and would nurture his talent. Music is an extension of him, and he is most remarkable. He plays with two soulmates of his, Eric and Trevor, in a band called "Only Living Boy" and they are FANTASTIC! (They were my download of the day yesterday).

Feeling a nostalgic energy, I was about to turn to Jerilyn, Chuck and Michelle and suggest we prolonged the evening just a little bit and go across the street to check out the band that was about to play for a bit... when my right ear caught something, and I stopped. On the air, in my ears, I heard a very familiar bass sound that tugged at me, stepping out of the amp. "That's Eric playing bass," I thought I said.

"What are you mumbling?" Jerilyn exhaled her cigarette and spoke to me.

"Nothing." I half joined their conversation again, but my ear strayed again when I heard the guitar tune up. My knees shook and I started to shiver.

"Are you okay?" Michelle looked at me and touched my shoulder.

I tuned right into the familiar beauty that is Joe playing the guitar. "Holy shit Jerilyn... Joe is playing across the street."

She said "No! Impossible! What are the odds?" As she strutted across to peer in, I knew. I felt his energy in every cell. His soul was communicating with me... not the person... the soul. And regardless of the differences that drove us to part, Universe, somehow, in her divinest wisdom connected our souls for one sweet moment in a strange place that was away from what either of us knew as home.

As Jerilyn walked back toward us, saying "It IS him... I can't believe it..." I understood...something. "Do you want to go say hello... I mean should we say something?"

They began their set. I listened and stared in awe at a faint reflection of Eric playing the bass in the window, but couldn't see Joe or Trevor.
I could only hear their perfect braid of music, energy, and his voice cradled by the ocean, passing cars, and the rise and fall of other people's lives. "Let's go home." I smiled, closed my eyes, thanked Universe for the fact that he was living his dream, that I had reconnected with Franks (another soulmate), and that I could walk away knowing that we are both okay. Jerilyn and I silently listened to them fade into the salt air on our walk back to the car.

There is kindness in closure, and comfort in knowing that we ARE infinite... and not alone.

Amanda xo

Download of the Day

Perfect! Please Check Out "Black Star" and "Bulletproof" (both off of "The Bends" and both soooooo appropriate) downloads in upper right hand margin.