Monthly Archives: June 2011

Family

When I posted the other day about finding beauty in tattooed brides, I phrased it as the “juxtaposition of opposites”. Candy called me on that saying that was a negative connotation, which made me think (in a good way!). I guess what I meant is, lately I’m more aware of myself finding beauty in things that a lot of society does not appreciate. Heavily tattooed brides (or just tattooed women) often get labeled as trashy or rough, but those brides were simply gorgeous — not in spite of their tattoos, but because of their tattoos. Because they were confident & not trying to hide those parts of themselves. I admire that.

Body modifications don’t change one’s character. When my mother found out about my septum piercing, she said “I didn’t think you were that kind of person” which … stung. I told her I was the same person, I was still her daughter, & that the piercing was over a year old (I keep it flipped up most of the time). We haven’t talked about it since, & that was a couple years ago.  A lot of people without modifications judge those with to be so different from themselves; like the modded are all heathen criminals & the two groups couldn’t possibly have anything in common.

So when I came across a lot of photos of heavily tattooed parents & families, I thought I’d share them here. This is family.

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Philly

Andrés & I spent Memorial Day weekend visiting Philly, one of our favorite cities. We had tons of delicious food &, of course, lots of liquor.

On Friday night after checking into the hotel, we turned right around & headed to Jim’s to grab some steaks. Andrés says they’re the best drunk food because they’re greasy & delicious, especially at 3AM. I loved seeing huge cans of whiz as we headed up stairs to chow down.

Saturday morning we had brunch at the Morning Glory Diner. I had the Breakfast Pizza which was layered with potatoes, caramelized onions, mozzarella & scrambled egg & Andrés had the Grilled Ribeye Steak-n-Two Eggs. We really loved the extra little touches, like the homemade ketchup & the apricot jam. We shared an amazing slice of creamy coconut cream pie for dessert.

After brunch, we walked a couple blocks to explore the Italian Market. We bought a bunch of teas from the Spice Corner & Andrés got a handkerchief. On our way back to the car, we stopped in a Whole Foods for some cold drinks & then toured the Magic Garden, a house, patio, & garden covered in an oddly beautiful mosaic of broken tiles & glass.

I’m really into ships lately, so we tried to go see the Philly Navy Yard, but it was closed & we couldn’t see much from the street. We headed to Ruby Tuesday (a tradition of ours) for some drinks & then we went back to the hotel to relax before dinner.

At night we headed to Lolita, a contemporary Mexican restaurant on 13th Street owned by Chef Marcie Turney & Valerie Safran. The food was delicious, but what we really got us, was the BYOT.

Bring your own tequila.

We got a pitcher of the Naranja de Sangria (fresh squeezed margarita mix, blood orange puree, wild mint, sugared rim) & mixed in the tequila & orange liquor we brought from home. Fucking delicious.

We ordered the Guacamole con Totopos Mixtos (guacamole, jicama, mixed chips of Malanga de Coco, plantain & corn) for our appetizer. For my entrée, I had the Carne Asada a la Lolita (morita-cumin grilled beef tenderloin, smoky plantain crema, fried yucca, poblano rajas, avocado-tomatillo salsa) & Andrés had the Pechuga de Pato (hazelnut crusted duck breast, sweet plantains, sour cherry salsita, jicama-orange slaw).

For dessert we shared the Tiramisu a la Mexicana (Kahlua-espresso soaked lady fingers, canela-praline mascarpone, toasted hazelnuts, whipped cream).

It was one of the most amazing meals we’ve ever had. We even got to see Marcie & Valerie (the owners) sitting outside before we left.

I should also note that we left the restaurant with more tequila than we came with because the table next to ours had some kind of fight & when they left, they forgot their bottle of Patrón! We had no shame in snatching that up!

On Sunday we slept in & skipped breakfast so we headed right over to Tony Luke’s after checking out of the hotel. We stuffed ourselves with steaks & cheese fries. After eating at Tony’s, Geno’s, & Jim’s, Tony’s is still our favorite. I want to try Pat’s next time we’re up there, though.

On our way to Tony’s, we saw an Ikea, & decided to spend the afternoon picking up a few things for the house.

This was our haul: a Malm dresser, 2 sets of Anita curtains (charcoal & white), two Beskada curtain rods (ours don’t have the finials) with the double wall hardware, two floating Lack shelves (that are too long for where we want to put them, but will probably be used elsewhere), & a Mysa Stra lightweight comforter (mentioned previously). All for around $230.

We also picked up three of those huge blue reusable Ikea bags for grocery shopping, now that we’re bona fide Costco members! Fuck yeah, bitches. We now have the privilege of buying five gallons of mayonnaise from an exclusive warehouse.

Somehow all of this fit in Andrés’ Audi & we headed back to Virginia, but not before stopping to look at the S.S. United States that’s docked in the Delaware River, right across the street from Ikea. I got to see some huge ships, after all. Our next visit, we might have a fancy dinner overlooking the river.

Why I Love Doulas

by Alisa Y. Harrison, The Juggling Matriarch, July 19, 2010

I had dinner on Friday night at a friend’s place where, entirely by chance, half of the women were trained birth doulas. I was thrilled. I love doulas. So much.

There is a ton of research showing how beneficial it is for women to have doula support during labour and birth, and yet most women still don’t hire them and, from the sound of it, many prenatal health care providers still aren’t recommending them to their clients. I don’t feel like I’m exaggerating when I say that this is a terrible situation. I try not to reduce every situation to my own experience, but then again, I also care about this particular issue because of my own experience, so…

I had a doula with my first birth. I first learned about doulas soon after I got pregnant, although I can’t remember where, when or from whom. At the time, an old friend of my husband’s was in midwifery school, and the plan was for her to attend our birth and act as my doula. Since she was commuting a long distance for school, she also arranged a back-up doula for us (another friend of hers, who had been a doula for some years by then) just in case she wasn’t able to get to us in time. In the last few weeks of my pregnancy, both our friend and her back-up came to my house a number of times to talk, to help me write my birth plan, to give me massages, to help me cope as my EDD passed and day after day after day after day I remained pregnant.

When I was finally in labour, as luck would have it, our friend was busy attending the labour of her sister-in-law, so her back-up came into play.

13 and a half years later, Lolli still holds a special place in my heart. When I think about my labour with Clea, her image comes to mind every time. It’s not that I think she made the birth a good birth—it had its own path and its own energy, and it was just good in and of itself. But she helped me, a first-time mother, to experience it in the most positive way.

That was no mean feat. My labour with Clea was induced with Cervidil at 41 weeks 3 days. There was no medical indication for the induction; I was just done with being pregnant. Leaving aside the problems with that line of decision making (of which I was not aware at the time and I’m grateful didn’t materialize), inductions tend to stimulate harder contractions. Many women are not able to manage labour unmedicated after an induction for exactly this reason. Sure enough, for much of my labour, the contractions were hard and strong, piggy-backing one on top of the other for three or four hours.

I remember sitting on the kitchen floor when I realized it was time to call Lolli. (My doctor gave me a dose of Cervidil and then sent me home to labour in peace.) My mum and dad were there, with my husband. When Lolli arrived I was just drifting into that labour zone where time no longer has any meaning and the whole world kind of disappears. I remember being on the couch, feeling mildly anxious, when she came in the door sometime around 10 or 11 pm. The first thing she did was send my mum and dad home (“time for everyone to go now”) and walk around turning off lights and closing curtains. “It’s night time,” she explained to me, simply.

I have no idea about chronology after that point, what happened when, in what order. All I know is that Lolli was there. She ran me a bath and sat quietly beside the tub as I slept between contractions, and she was ready and waiting to pour water over me when each contraction crested. Out of the tub, at some point, I remember that she took my hands, put her face close to mine and said firmly, “Open your eyes. Look at me. Don’t let the contractions swallow you up. Keep your eyes open and look at me.” I remember that moment like it was a lifeline, locking eyes, re-centering myself. I remember her tucking Paul and I into bed at some point, telling us to try to rest—again, “It’s night time.” And I remember being woken by the “pop” of my water breaking, having no idea what the sound was, and Lolli laughing gently, and explaining to me with a smile what had happened.

Of course, that was the point at which the piggy-back contractions began. Transition—those last few centimeters of dilation, which most women experience as the most intense part of labour—came soon afterward, and I really went far into the alternate realm that is hard labour. Lolli wiped the toilet seat lid when I barfed on it, unable to wait till—frankly, not caring if—it was open. She helped me down the front stairs to the car when it was time to go to the hospital. She instructed my husband to run the red light at the intersection of 25th and Oak as there was no traffic anywhere in sight, and the backseat of a car is not the best place to manage transition contractions.

She laughed with the labour and delivery nurses about my choice of music to play at the hospital—a mixed tape (please—this was 1997) that included everything from Duran Duran to The Smiths to the soundtrack to Evita (London cast). She didn’t laugh at me when I requested an epidural, even though she knew it was way too late for that, and she saved the waiver that I signed during a contraction—my signature drifting up and off the top right hand corner of the page—and gave it to me the next day to tuck into Clea’s baby book.

She called my mother when I decided, at the last minute, that I wanted her there. During the pushing stage, I was absolutely focused, totally unaware of anything outside of my own body. Lolli was conscious for me. At one point, she poked me in the shoulder hard enough to jar me to reality, just long enough for me to hear her say, “Your doctor is going to cut you. Your birth plan says you don’t want an episiotomy.” In that brief moment of clarity, I sat straight up, told my doctor, “Do not cut me.” And she didn’t.

Lolli helped me nurse Clea right after she was born. She made sure that the hospital kept us together. “But,” the nurse said, “we have no free beds in postpartum yet—we’ll take the baby to the nursery until we can find a bed.” “No,” Lolli told her, “keep them together.” “But we have no diapers!” “It doesn’ t matter. Keep them together.”

She stayed with me while Paul went home to shower and change. She stayed until I fell asleep, snuggled up with my newborn. She came to my house the next day when I was home again, to talk about my labour, to go through it all with me, to make sure Clea was nursing well. She returned a few days later to check in again. I remember sitting on the living room couch with her—the couch where I’d been sitting when she first came in the door—and the way she gazed at my baby and put her arm around my shoulders, and just feeling like she was this incredible gift.

I still feel that way now. I didn’t hire a doula for my second birth, as I didn’t think it was necessary. I was planning a homebirth, and would have two midwives there; a doula would be redundant, right? Wrong. So wrong. I can’t say that a doula could have prevented the complications that arose or the surgery that resulted. And our midwife (since the labour/delivery ended up being at the hospital only one midwife was there) was incredibly attentive not only throughout the day, but through the stress-filled, complicated week that led up to it.

But I could have used a doula. I could have really used someone who was there only for me—not for my baby, just for me. Who had nothing more invested in the scenario than to support and help me. Who wasn’t watching monitors or checking dilation or recommending any procedures, but who would have been watching my face and hearing my voice, doing laps around the hospital with me and my husband, or maybe urging me to stop doing laps, stop trying so hard to make things happen and instead just look me in the eye and help me experience each moment for the moment it was. Who knows what a doula might have been able to help me do?

Doulas are indispensable. Hospital birth, home birth, birth centre, midwife, doctor…doesn’t matter. Hire a doula. If I could do my second birth over, that’s the first thing I would do differently. I can’t say with any certainty it would have made a difference to the progression or outcome, but I am pretty sure it would have made a difference to me.

Hire a doula.


This was originally posted by Alisa Y. Harrison to her blog, The Juggling Matriarch, in July of 2010. I love how perfectly it explains what a doula is for, & more importantly who they are for. For the last few years I’ve been reading bits here & there about “natural” (physiological) birth, informed choice, & about how important it is that women feel powerful & strong throughout pregnancy, birth & new motherhood. I’m going to share some of the things I find here.

Pups

Andrés & I are both “dog” people. Neither of us like cats… at all. Please don’t take that personally, we don’t hate your cat, we hate all cats equally. We are equal opportunity cat haters.

My hatred of cats stems from my aunt’s cats being fucking psychos when we visited her house. One would sneak up on the back of the couch & claw my ears when I was sitting down. Also, cat litter stinks. Also, the dander irritates me & half my family. Also, cats are kind of bitchy & I’m a shallow attention whore so being greeted by an ecstatic dog who thinks you shit rainbows every time you walk in the house feels pretty awesome.

We both like bigger dogs, mostly. Sometimes I think those little rat-dogs are cute, but Andrés thinks it’d be constantly underfoot & he’d crush its rib cage by accident. Fair enough. I don’t want to clean up exploded chihuahua, either. Also, its guts would probably look a lot like Taco Bell in a blender. No thanks. Don’t want my Cheesy Gordita Crunches ruined 4 lyfe. I have an affinity for terriers & hounds. This one reminds me of my stuffed animal, Scraps, that I got for my fourth birthday from my oldest sister, A.

We were thinking about Doberman Pinschers because they look like badasses. Manchester Terriers look just like them but come in the convenient sizes of medium & small. I’m against the ear cropping & tail docking of the puppies, but we would adopt from a pound, so it would probably already be done. I guess it’s analogues to buying a fur coat from a thrift store – our money wouldn’t be going towards the perpetrators, but to a good cause. I’m not so keen on the Dobermans/Manchesters anymore because I want a thicker, more beefy dog.

We also love American Pit Bull Terriers. There are two guys in Andrés’ building who have Pit Bulls – one is blue, the other has tiger stripes. They are beautiful & super friendly. We’re of the school of thought that you have to teach your dog that you are the leader of the pack so the dog takes cues from you. Any breed can get dangerous & unruly when it’s not properly disciplined. My parents have the bitchiest little terrier (that I call Willis) that thinks she rules everything & refuses to listen sometimes. She tries to fight dogs three times her size for no reason. Crazy bitch, that one.

We also love black labs & chocolate labs. Well, I love black labs & Andrés loves chocolate labs. I want only girl dogs because I had a boy dog try to get to third base with me when I was on the rag once. We aren’t getting a dog anytime soon & we still have to settle on a sex & breed. Oh yeah, & get a bigger a house.

Maybe I can get some rats in the mean time?

Tomato, Mozzarella & Basil

Andrés & I ate variations of this all weekend.

We had Caprese sandwiches – tomato, mozzarella & basil with a drizzle of olive oil on toasted ciabatta bread. We had Caprese salad – the same thing, just without the bread. & we had amazing margherita pizza that comes premade, but not frozen, from Costco.

Overall, quite delicious. This is one of our favorite flavor combinations – it’s so fresh & light for summer.