Book Review: The Mayo Clinic Guide to Your Baby’s First Year

If you saw my review of The Mayo Clinic’s Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, you know how excited I was to read this. But this review will probably be much shorter and less glowing than that one. In a nutshell, this book is a bit superfluous. And coming from me, that’s saying something. I love reading and researching and will jump on just about any chance to do so, but in this case? Well, let’s jump right in.

There’s nothing really wrong with this book, it’s just kind of boring. Most of the information in it is a retread of info found in The Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, and I would recommend reading that over this. Once you get past the first few months of having a newborn, there’s a lot less to worry about. Or at least, there’s different things to worry about. But you’re no longer in that stage where sleeping, eating, and falling are life or death situations. Once your little one’s a bit older, you rely more on common sense than needing to look up what to do.

The Pregnancy Guide’s chapters on the first few months offer great coverage of breastfeeding, immunizations, sleep training, and all those things. This guide really just elaborates, and I found the elaboration to not really be necessary.

One thing I did really enjoy about this book were the parts on what it’s like to be a new parent emotionally. It’s very cathartic to read that your feelings, especially negative ones and “baby blues” ones, are common and normal. And it offers good ways to cope. But again, rather than recommending this book, I’d lean more towards suggesting finding a book that exclusively focuses on parenting and feelings.

The more utilitarian information is all stuff that you’re gonna hear from your pediatrician. Developmental milestones, when to get immunizations, introducing solid foods, these are all going to be covered if you’re seeing a pediatrician regularly. Don’t replace that with a book, babies need all those checkups each month. Your pediatrician will tell you when your little one can start table food, and you can judge if you want to go ahead or wait on it.

If you don’t have a communicative pediatrician and can’t switch, or if you don’t have other mom friends or your own parents around to talk to, then maybe this book would be helpful to you, but honestly, once the baby is out and growing, you’re going to get floods of information from everywhere. From programs like WIC where you have to attend occasional classes, to alarmist facebook posts from well-meaning in-laws, you’re going to hear about most everything. Plus, that first year goes by so fast, you’ll hardly have time to research each step (or read a book, for that matter).

So yeah. My consensus is basically “meh.” There’s nothing bad or wrong about this book, it’s just kind of dull and an extra thing that you don’t really need to be fussing with in your child’s first year.

Sorry this wasn’t more exciting to read, haha. Meh reviews are hard. I’ve got a few more parenting/pregnancy books to read since I’m unexpectedly pregnant with #2 on the way. Stay tuned!

Official Enviroklenz Affiliate! MCS-approved Cleaning Products

Hey guys! I’ve talked before about how much I love Enviroklenz, and I’m still using their laundry products and air filters every day. You can read my thoughts in-depth by clicking here.

If you’re interested in getting some of these environmental protection products for yourself, and supporting this blog at the same time, I now have a handy button at the bottom of every page on this site! When you order using that button, I get a little commission and every little bit helps me keep this blog up for you guys. Plus you get some great, safe cleaning products for yourself. Using stuff like this helps lighten the day to day chemical load you put on your body, which lowers your chances of MCS and other chemical reactions and helps keep you healthy.

I’m also going to put a couple of big banners in this post since we’re here and they’re cool.

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Ya need to clean anyway right? Plus, you know that I wouldn’t put a permanent button on this website for any product I didn’t believe in and use myself. I’m not going to sell out on you guys – this button is really here for you. I hate shopping for cleaning stuff. I read the labels to try and be informed and usually can’t find a single thing with little to no harmful chemicals and fragrances. I don’t have MCS or eczema (if you do then you probably already use things like these) but I’ve always been sensitive to fragrances products, especially laundry stuff. So yes, I really am using this and it really has helped me.

I promise to stop talking your ear off about it now! Just know that handy button will always be down there just for you the next time you need cleaners or air purifier stuff.

Love you all! And OF COURSE don’t forget to make a rage comic and enter the #spoonieragecomiccontest! It’s free and there’s prizes! Go go go!

Invisible Illness Rage Comic Contest!!!

You don’t see rage comics around as much these days, and that makes me sad. I love a good rage comic.

What’s a rage comic, you ask?

It’s a comic strip made from a series of pre-drawn expressions of various emotions– oh nevermind. I’ll just show you!

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So yes. These little characters can be strung together with doodles to convey little weird slices of life. So I thought WE NEED INVISIBLE ILLNESS RAGE COMICS.

SO LET’S HAVE A CONTEST!!!

You can make your very own rage comics by clicking here!

There’s only one rule: your comic must be about living with invisible/chronic illness.

You can submit as many times as you like!

Just make your comic, save it, and post it on instagram or twitter using the hashtag #SpoonieRageComicContest by March 20th! You have ONE MONTH! Use it well!

What will you win? Your pick of any item from the Official DoILookSick Store!

So hop to it!

Here’s my chronic illness rage comic for inspiration:

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I can’t wait to see what you guys come up with!

Doing What You Can Even When It Seems Too Small

There’s all kinds of things wrong with the world, and everyone has some issue that they get fired up about. Recently, the Women’s March made waves around the world.

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And lots of women were out there marching for lots of different issues. Pro-choice, Pro-life, women demanding equal pay, women demanding a safer world, women standing with Standing Rock, women who won’t tolerate being talked about they way certain Presidents talk… almost any issue you can think of.

BEN GARVER — THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE  A sign carried in the Washington DC Women's March was delivered by Paul Johansen to the Shire  City Sanctuary for Febuary exhibit of art from the women's marches.

This was a march for like…everything. It seemed like every issue that people get fired up about was represented, even both sides of arguments showed up. Pro-lifers were marching right along with pro-choicers. Yet there were still some who just couldn’t find an issue to cheer for, so they protested protesting!

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But all of these people all over the world with all these views have something in common. They all went through a series of universally human steps:

  1. They felt a fire in their belly about something.
  2. They made up their mind to take action towards real change.
  3. They took whatever action they could think of.

Take me, for instance. I was diagnosed with endometriosis as a high school senior, but it wasn’t until my senior year of college that I started feeling the fire in my belly for health activism. At the time, I didn’t know a word for it, but it was health activism. I saw the discrimination of myself and others who don’t “look” sick, and were written off as liars, party girls, drug addicts, or attention-seekers.

Once the fire in my belly got hot enough, I reached step two: I NEED TO DO SOMETHING.

I cannot accept the way things are. I know that people can learn. I want to teach them. I want them to learn the science of these illnesses and health in general! Health education is so, so lacking in America. I can tell you exactly how a plant uses water and sunlight to create energy and grow and what makes a plant healthy or unhealthy, but I graduated without even knowing what all my lady parts are even for and how diet can drastically affect how your body functions. As Trump would say, “SAD!”

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But here’s the kicker. Everyone everywhere has gone through steps one and two, but so many people give up before step three. Why? It’s not because the fire has gone out. It’s because any action we can think to take often seems too small. I’m just one person. I’m not a politician, I can’t control laws. I’m not an educator, I can’t change what people learn in school. I’m not a doctor, I can’t cure people. I’m just one sick person. There’s nothing I can do.

Either that, or we reject the ideas we do have. I could start a fundraiser, but it would annoy my friends and family. I could protest, but what if I’m alone? I could donate money, but where does it go and what does it do? I could write things on the internet, but literally everyone does that and it would be a drop in the ocean.

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I decided to go for it. What could I think to do? Well, I was a creative writing major. I could write something – what? A blog. Because it’s free and (in theory) the whole world could read it. Could. Probably wouldn’t, but it was possible. And what about my school? The discrimination that put a fire in my belly all happened at my university. I needed those students, specifically, to read what I had to say.

How? I decided to make posters. Just black and white, 8 1/2 by 11, self-printed posters.

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Aww look at my old url. Anyway, I posted these all over campus, occasionally getting scolded, and feeling quite sure no one would ever read them or my blog but whatever. Like I said, I had to do something.

I got an email from an anonymous person thanking me for bringing this issue forward, but it was one out of the dozen or so emails I got telling me to please stop so it seemed like not a lot. But then a really crazy thing happened – a girl stopped me on campus and said “I recognize you… you’re on those posters!”

We ended up having a seat on a bench and talking for upwards of thirty minutes. She had a bone marrow disease (I wish I could remember exactly what) and had struggled so much with faculty and other students not believing how sick she was. She was vibrant and full of life and of course, didn’t look sick. She told me that seeing the posters made her feel less alone. And she thanked me.

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So this one little thing that I was sure would make no difference… made a difference. This dumb thing that was the only thing I could think to do actually did something. What I thought would be too small to notice was noticed.

I did what I could and it made a small difference.

I did what I could and it was worth doing.

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Nowadays, I’m still pretty sure everything I do for this fire in my belly is too small. Womens’ healthcare costs remain high (LORDT that is always on my mind) and we have some lawmakers now making things harder. People still post hateful notes on cars parked in the handicapped spot if they’re driven by a healthy-looking individual. This blog has won some awards, but I get about 50 views a day, post super irregularly, and still get a lot of hits from people looking for info on David Bowie.

Most days, this feels too small to be worth doing.

But occasionally I get someone thanking me and telling me how much it’s meant. And I have to think that for every person who says something, there must be more people who don’t speak up, but who glean something from this. And hey, I even had the head of the UNT disability office call me to chat and make sure they were doing all they could for their students.

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So just know that even if it seems too small, do it. Do it for the fire in your belly, do it for yourself, and do it for the world. Think of how much better a place the world would be if everyone did what they could!

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The Spoonie Experiment Reviews: Pregnant Paws

That’s right, it’s time for more King of the Hill!

Today I want to talk about an episode called “Pregnant Paws” that I watched while I was struggling with PCOS and infertility, so it hit close to home. It’s an adorable episode that you can watch right here:

And here are my thoughts on what this episode has to say about invisible illness and in particular, PCOS and infertility.

The episode opens with Peggy walking the family dog, Ladybird, in Hank’s old underwear because she’s in heat and they’re out of doggie diapers. Much to Hank’s mortification, of course. But Peggy has a ready defense- she wouldn’t need to wear anything if Hank would get her spayed! Hank says he’s going to breed her…someday. After all, she’s a pure bread bloodhound! Peggy points out that Ladybird is 13 years old, probably past her puppy prime.

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Then a lot of nonsense happens concerning Dale becoming a bounty hunter and Hank propositioning his boss for dog breeding. But we get a glimpse of the deeper, more emotional story beneath the surface when we see Bobby and Luann getting Ladybird ready for her “big date.”

“I can’t believe it. Ladybird’s gonna be a mommy. Seems like only yesterday mom and dad brought her home for me, on account of not having any brothers or sisters to play with. If I’d been old enough to talk, I’d have asked for a monkey.”

So Bobby got Ladybird in lieu of siblings when he was still not old enough to talk? That seems odd, doesn’t it? Most families wouldn’t be replacing the hope of siblings with pets when a child was still so young…

Moving on. Ladybird “does the deed,” and Dale gets certified to be a bounty hunter. Hank and Peggy take Ladybird to the vets office to get a doggie pregnancy test and Peggy says the office “gives her the deja vus” and reminds her of when they were trying to get pregnant.

Flashback…

Hank: “So Doctor, is she going to be a mommy?”
Doctor: “How do I say this without breaking your hearts? … No.” Peggy: (crying) “Oh God…”
Doctor: “Damn.”

Ah, doctors. Amirite? Anyway, Peggy reacts in a very familiar way: What’s wrong with me? And Hank and the Doctor assure her it’s not her fault. Then the Doctor throws Hank under the bus and says its his fault. Here was have Hank’s famous narrow urethra – an ongoing reference in the series usually played for laughs because it’s just funny to hear Hank Hill say “narrow urethra.”

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But this episode, we’re going to see the serious toll it’s taken on their lives. This is one of my favorite things about this show. It can speak very candidly about these darker things, like infertility. It can show the devastation and heartbreak, but still embraces the humor in the situation. Anyone who’s gone through anything like this can agree that laughing to keep from crying is a real thing, and an effective one. Comedy has always been tragedy. But I’m waxing poetic a bit.

A side bit of humor and truth for anyone who frequents doctors: Hank’s doctor points out that he had his suspicions of Hank’s condition when it took him 30 minutes to produce a urine sample.

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I have always been a nervous pee-er. I hate doing urine samples. SO MUCH PRESSURE.

Anywho. So the doctor tells them a few things they can do. For one, Hank needs to relax more, because the stress is making it worse. This applies to basically every form of infertility. Between hearing the doctors say that stress is bad for your overall health and hearing others say “relax and it will happen!” stress simply can’t be talked away.

The doctor also suggests Hank wear boxer shorts – if you’ve ever tried to conceive you know that one. And offers to recommend “a series of sexual techniques.” To which Hank responds “A SERIES?!”

Peggy then brings up something she saw on the news called “in-vitro fertilization,” which I (and pretty much everyone else) will shorten to IVF. She tearfully explains that Hank’s “boys” are mixed with one of her “girls” in a test tube. Hank will have none of this, calling it “science run amok.”

Peggy begs Hank to try it and Hank remains firmly against it, despite Peggy crying. Of course, in an actual infertility journey, there are things to try between unassisted conception and IVF, but of course we’ve only got 30 minutes so that seems like the end of that.

Back in present day, we find out that Ladybird won’t be getting pregnant either, as she has a narrow uterus (what are the odds). This seems silly, but once again King of the Hill takes it into a surprisingly emotional scene. Hank sits on a bench at the dog park talking to Ladybird about his feelings.

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“I know it hurts, Ladybird. I’ve been there myself. I just wish I could scoop up your pain in a little plastic bag and throw it out.”

I don’t care who you are, that’s one of the most touching things I’ve ever heard. Log that away for the next time you need to comfort a friend during hard times. In all seriousness, it’s a beautiful picture of empathy.

After another dog…ahem…expresses interest in Ladybird, Hank talks to the owners about their plight. As it turns out, they got their dog from a breeder with a dog they thought couldn’t have puppies. They inform Hank that there’s all sorts of stuff you can do – diet, hormones, body work, surgery. Hank excitedly invites the “brothers” (they’re not brothers) for a beer to hear all they know.

We cut back to Dale’s antics for a bit, then see Hank and Bobby taking Ladybird’s basal body temperature. Ah yes, nothing quite like logging your temperature every day and trying to make something of the tiniest changes. Anyway, this is understandably upsetting to Peggy. After all, when her doctor told her she couldn’t have babies, Hank was completely unwilling to hear about anything they could do about it. But some strangers convinced him the effort was worth it for a dog?

Wives have long competed with dogs for their husbands’ love and affection. It’s not uncommon for a man to come home after a long day of work, greet his wife, and sit down to pet and cuddle with the family dog. That can be pretty hurtful. But this is a whole new level.

The next morning Peggy wakes up alone and shivering with no blanket. She finds Ladybird wrapped up in the blanket while Hank gives her a “body awareness” fertility massage. Damn it, Hank. You’re being a gigantic butthole. I’m mad just watching this again. And remember, THIS IS A CARTOON. How are you doin me all these feels?

Anywho. Bobby comes into the backyard with a hormone dog biscuit looking for Ladybird and finds Bill. He explains to Bill that Ladybird is going to be a mommy and he’ll have a puppy again, just like when he was one year old. Bill laughs and says Bobby’s got it all wrong. Hank and Peggy got Ladybird a whole year before Bobby was born.

“As I recall your mama was having trouble getting pregnant on account of your daddy’s narrow doohickey and eventually they just gave up on ever having a child of their own so they did the next best thing.”

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And now I’m crying like a baby, because in the big middle of me working through infertility, I found a kitten on my doorstep and took it in. And gahhh EMOTIONS OVER HERE.

But this is still a comedy show. So Bobby asks Bill if that means he’s adopted. Bill, meanwhile, has begun munching on the hormone biscuit and says he’ll only talk if Bobby bikes to the store to get more of them.

But back to things that are infuriating: Hank tells Peggy that Ladybird has been accepted to an IVF program out of state. But remember, back in the day Hank said IVF was “wrong.” Oh shit. Peggy just about looses it and murders him. I mean that’s what I would have done. But Peggy threatens to leave, which I guess is an ok reaction. I’m still pulling for murder.

And now back to antics (this is an emotional rollercoaster). Dale steals Ladybird for a while to do his bounty hunter thing.

Peggy heads out with a golf club and I’m like “OH SHIT HERE WE GO” but she’s planning on beating the mower with it, not Hank’s skull. Pretty good, though. Hank does love that mower. But Hank is still there and tells her Ladybird is missing. Peggy is genuinely worried because of course she loves that dog too. Her beef isn’t with Ladybird.

So they jump in the car. Peggy is navigating using an address Dale left. Hank muses “I wish Ladybird was here. She doesn’t need a map.”

Oh no you didn’t, Hank. Here comes the crazy eyes.

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She accuses Hank of acting like he loves the dog more than his human wife when they find Ladybird locked in Dale’s truck in the Texas sun. Moreover, the truck is surrounded by attack dogs. Hank prepares to go save her.

“Are you loco? As soon as you step foot out there those attack dogs will attack you to shreds. I bet if I were stuck in a truck, you would leave me there!… all week I have watched you jump through hoops to get Ladybird pregnant, and you never jumped through any hoops for me.”

Oh Peggy. I want to bring you a tub of ice cream and share it. I’m sure in any infertility journey, it feels one-sided at some point. I know it did for us sometimes.

So Hank explains that the reason he never put a thermometer in Peggy’s ear is because it would kill the romance. With Ladybird it doesn’t matter because she’s just a dog. In my opinion? That’s some weak shit, Hank. But Peggy is happy to hear Hank say he loves her more and tells him sometimes she needs to hear it. Then Hank continues in his ignorance and asks if she wants to get pregnant. She says she doesn’t know, but she’d rather have another baby than another puppy. To her confusion, Hank agrees.

We then flash back again to see young Hank and Peggy playing with the puppy together, laughing and kissing, and Hank explains that he believes that playing with that puppy relaxed him enough to eventually get Peggy pregnant. This really wins present Peggy over because let’s face it, if a guy brings up wanting babies it usually ends an argument.

Maternal instinct awakened, Peggy takes the wheel and backs their truck up close to Dale’s. Hank prepares to open the door and snag Ladybird. With both his and Dale’s door open, he creates a small, fenced off square for Ladybird to pass safely from one car to the other.

“Be careful, Hank. Nine times out of ten they go straight for the crotch– and I see ten dogs out there.”

Ladybird gets across and they “get the hell out of there.”

So we have a happy ending. Bobby wasn’t adopted after all, and Peggy and Hank are happy again. They play with Ladybird and still giggle and kiss each other like they used to. While Hank’s “apology” or explanation wouldn’t have made me personally feel better, everyone experiences infertility differently, and that’s what this episode was all about.

I think that doing the medical side of infertility can still be romantic- supporting each other, helping log temperatures, people can bond over that. But it’s not for everyone. Peggy would have liked the thoughtfulness of it, but Hank expressed thoughtfulness in another way: by bringing her a puppy. Really that’s no small thing, it’s a huge investment of time and money. Just like IVF is.

This is just one story of infertility, and it’s a sweet one with a happy ending. Peggy and Hank don’t end up having another baby, but they overcame infertility the first time and rekindled their relationship the second time. Each member of a couple will experience infertility, grieving, and hope in their own way. But it’s important to bridge the gap and support each other on your individual journeys.

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I hope you enjoyed this episode as much as I did! And if you’re currently in the big middle of infertility diagnosis and treatment, know that I wish I could scoop up your pain in a little plastic baggie and throw it away. It’s hard, and I’m so sorry. But find the things you can laugh at. đŸ™‚ And love each other.