Book Review: Calm the F*ck Down

This is a real book entitled “Calm the F*ck Down: The Only Parenting Technique You’ll Ever Need” and it is written by a real person named David Vienna. This was gifted to me by my son’s godmother. I’m blessed beyond reason to have godparents that send me and my child gifts monthly, and this particular month I had called with some catastrophe. I don’t actually remember which catastrophe this was – life with a toddler involves a lot of them. But I think it was when he got his finger caught in the pedal of our kitchen trash can.

He pushed the pedal down with his hand, and when he stopped his finger was caught and the mechanism and got sliced open. We got him out and his hand was gushing blood and he was screaming and I was surprised to find my mind was blank. What… what do I do? One does not simply put a band-aid on a toddler. He’d pull it right off. And that’s a lot of blood, why is there so much blood? How can you tell if he needs stitches? Oh man there’s blood on everything, uh, quick, lets put him in the bathtub. Of course, a bath on the best day makes our son scream, so this upset him quite a bit more than he already was, and he was still bleeding, and my mind was still drawing a blank on what to do. So I called and his godmother said put pressure on the wound to stop the bleeding. A piece of knowledge that did, in fact, reside somewhere in my brain, but that I was unable to call forth in the heat of the moment.

Anyway the moral of this story is that often, new parents aren’t under-educated or uninformed. Often, our questions and need for advice stem from simply being freaked out. Dear godmother had not actually read this book before sending it and prefaced it with “this might suck” but the title had grabbed her attention and it alone was very good advice. So let’s take a look!

Like many parenting books that I’ve reviewed before, this one seems to not be intended as a cover to cover read. Rather, it’s split up into topics like “my child does not understand consequences” or “I’m not the kind of parent I thought I’d be.” However, there’s no reason not to go ahead and read this one cover-to-cover. Why?

  1. It’s REALLY short. I read it in one sitting while I was having my hair done.
  2. Each topic listed has 1-2 pages devoted to it – that’s it. And there’s pictures.
  3. It’s really funny. Even if a topic isn’t specific to your situation, you’ll probably get a chuckle out of what it has to say.

I mean I basically don’t have anything bad to say about this book. It’s an entertaining, light read. It would actually make a pretty good bathroom book. It’s broken up into short, sweet reads, and maybe it’ll make you not want to hide in the bathroom to escape your kid(s). Maybe. No promises.

You can probably guess from the title alone that the book’s advice for most of the topics is to “calm the f-ck down” (abbreviated in the boot as the CTFD method). So you know when you flip to “my boy likes girl toys” or “my baby ate something off the floor,” you’re going to be told not to worry about it. But it’s more than that. A lot of this book is about empathy, and understanding that these things happen and usually have no long term effects. But it’s also empathetic about the fact that you’ll still worry anyway, because you’re a parent and that’s your job. It validates your feelings. And it also taps in to the fact that even if you’re not worried about a topic, someone you encounter probably will be. Your mother in law will be appalled you let your son have a Barbie, your aunt will act like you need to call 911 when she sees your baby eat a dust bunny they happened upon. People freak out, you freak out, but we all need to practice the CTFD method.

This is not to say that every section is just things not to worry about. One that caught me by surprise was this one pictured: “I haven’t kept up with CPR training”. I’ve taken CPR classes a few times over the years, most recently when I had my son. But before that I had taken it for being a babysitter, a camp counselor, a life guard, I think we even did it in girl scouts once. I have not been worried about it. Can I recall exactly what to do, and the numbers, and every step? Uhh… I dunno. No? Not really? But I’ve taken the class several times, I know basically what to do. So imagine my surprise when this laid-back book took the hard stance that you MUST take this class EVERY YEAR. It never uses scare tactics like some other parenting books (I’m looking at YOU, What-To-Expect!), but it just says hey, go take these classes. I hope you never need them, but you’re going to want that info fresh in your mind if you need it. That’s a good point, book. So I’ll be heading back to class soon. Well, yeah, it’s partially because I’m pregnant and they make you. But next year? It’ll be of my own volition.

Another thing that caught me by surprise is that this book is for dads! I guess the language might should have tipped me off, as moms are, generally speaking, a little more fluffy touchy feely in their diction when talking about babies. But what’s strange is that I never got the inkling that this book was specifically for dads until the second to last section, titled “Parenthood.” Which is still gender-neutral. But here there were topics like “I don’t feel like a dad,” and “I don’t plan on taking paternity leave.” The advice here is, of course, applicable to both moms and dads, but the language only specifies dads and paternity. Again, the entire rest of the book didn’t specify one way or the other really, and it’s not a bad thing. I was just surprised when I got to the very end and it was suddenly talking to dads so specifically. Still, both moms and dads should give this a read. Even the paternity-specific topics apply to both.

That about covers it! Like I said, I read this cover-to-cover in one sitting, and it was a very enjoyable read. Good for a gag gift that doubles as a whoa this is actually useful gift. If you’re a stressed out new parent who loves to read but doesn’t really have time to get through a traditional chapter without interruption, this is a light, interrupt-able read that will make you smile and leave you better equipped to handle those moments your mind goes blank. Buy it by clicking here. Give it a read and remember to CTFD.

Advertisements

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.

air purifier for allergies

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!

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.

king of the hill quote funny childless lonely soiled underwear like bill

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.”

4d7a73dbe72cc32ba27da79d8c44e5b8e751c25a56597508cd9699753ab0dc7c

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.

hank hill done fast or right

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.

hank hill ladybird infertility pregnant paws

“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.”

puppy king of the hill pregnant paws ladybird baby

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.

peggy hill crazy eyes angry

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.

king of the hill pregnant paws

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. 🙂 And love each other.

Guest Post: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Breastpumping

Hey everyone! Today I want to welcome Natalie from MaternityAtHome.com! She’s got some great info here on breast pumping, which is great general health info but especially important for chronically ill mothers who may need to pump in order to stay on a medication schedule or accommodate a sick day or hospital stay. Check it out, and be sure to visit her blog and show her some love!

babywithbottle-gifc200

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Breastpumping

Motherhood is a perplexing but otherwise extraordinary experience for most women. There are so many things you need to do, and attaining the knowledge for each and every thing is just something that will elude you.

One scenario that almost always plays out after giving birth is the choice between breastfeeding or breastpumping. They both have their pros and cons, but there are some hidden gems within pumping that most new mother’s don’t know about and that might just push you towards making that decision much easier.

With that said, let’s take a look at 5 things that you likely don’t know about breast pumping and how they affect your daily life as a new mother.

  1. You have more time to rest: Breast pumping is not just for the on-the-go mother who is limited by a career. Stay-at-home mothers can also reap the benefits of breast pumping too. New mothers need their me-time, and a breast pump can be the perfect solution for racking in those extra minutes of sleep, or chores around the home.

    By using a breast pump that is actually good, stay-at-home mothers can rely on their stock of breast milk to ensure a well-fed newborn. Having a supply of breast milk is also especially important for premature babies or multiples, who may require extra attention in the home.

  2. Others can connect with your baby too: Using a breast pump can give your loved ones a chance to connect with your baby as well. Breast pumping can give you the rest you need, but can also be a way for your significant other, or other family members to develop a healthy relationship with your little one.

    You will appreciate the small acts of kindness others show by helping you with feeding! Imagine the happiness your baby will be bringing to yourself, and those around you. Your bundle of joy can bring happiness to everyone.

  3. You can monitor a baby’s eating habits: This is another major benefit of breast pumping that you may not have known. Every baby is different, including your soon-to-be newborn. It’s important to keep track of how often and how much your baby is eating and growing on a daily basis. The amount of milk each mother can store varies from woman to woman. By using a breast pump, you can actually monitor the intake of your baby’s feeding frenzies to their smaller snack times.

    Breast pumping and feeding your baby this way will give you the most insight on how your little one is doing. Don’t become frustrated if eating patterns you have found begin to change, this could be a good sign your baby is growing and on track to start solid foods.

  4. An emergency supply can be a savior: In rare instances, after surgery, while taking medications, or during illness, you may not be able to breastfeed. You should find out all of the information you can from your doctor, to continue to breastfeed when you or your baby is sick. Having expressed milk saved in the freezer for unforeseen circumstances will help you and your baby immensely.

    While this may not be a common occurrence, having a mother’s breastmilk on hand can be more nutritionally beneficial than relying on formula in times of need. Breast milk can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

  5. Breast milk is healthier than formula: Breast milk vs. Formula…many new mothers struggle with the idea of giving their baby breast milk versus formula. While formula is a quick fix for those who may be unable to produce enough breast milk, using a breast pump can build up a supply of vitamins, nutrients, and antibodies your baby needs from your breast milk!

    There’s a long list of benefits your baby can receive from your own breast milk, and as a mother you have a unique formula perfect for your growing baby. Nothing can compare to the beautiful benefits of a mother’s own breast milk, and a breast pump can be the perfect solution for having all your baby needs right at your fingertips right when your baby needs it.

There you have it. These 5 things really make breast pumping an appealing option for new mothers over breastfeeding and formula. When it comes to your baby’s health, it is better to stay natural and give them that has worked for thousands of years, so breast pumping is the ideal in between option that takes advantage of both breastfeeding and using formula.