Prepping for what?

Prepping is a word that comes with a little bit a skepticism from a lot of people. It starts with people getting visions of old men building bunkers in the countryside and soon they see a compound with people cleaning their M4’s. Well not all prepping is done to these extremes, some are as simple as stocking up on some extra food and supplies (such as extra batteries, flashlights, blankets, food, Bug out bag or B.O.B. in the car, etc.). There are a lot of reasons to stock up on some extras around the house, many of which are uncontrollable and very common. Later I will show you what I like to do for my preparedness but first heres a little list of things that could happen.

1. Natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, or floods-Say that you hunker down for a patch of bad weather, your not going to go get food and supplies that you need during the storm now are you. And would you really want to brave Wal-Mart when everybody is going there to grab every extra can of spam they can fit in a cart? The answer is no if you were actually thinking about it.

2. Power outages-In college we got hit with a hurricane that knocked the power out for 3 days.  What did we do you ask? We went on with life because I like to prep. We had food that didn’t need to be kept in a fridge, and we had some extra supplies to get us through until the power came on. We did however make a trip to the store for important things such as Monopoly and some cards..

3. Job loss-In today’s economy with unemployment at 8% not many have job security anymore. Think about what would happen if you lost your job and had to live off what you had right now. Wouldn’t you feel a little bit better if you have a little bit of stockpile at the house?

4. Car trouble-Stuck on the side of the road for a little bit? Do you need a power bar or a flashlight? Grab it out of your B.O.B. if you were prepared..

5. Sorry to harp on the B.O.B. but back to the natural disasters and you have to evacuate, just grab the bag and go.  Now you’re ahead of the traffic.

6. Unexpected Guests-You’ve ruled out all the things above because none of them could happen to you, well it happened to your family member and now they need a place to crash. With a little bit of prepping you can say, “Sure you can stay at our place, we’ve got plenty”.

These are just a few of the things that could happen to anyone of us on a normal basis. There’s also the very extreme cases that people who watch too much tv buy into such as the global economic meltdown sending us back to the stone age, or the viral epidemic a.k.a. zombie apocalypse.  Now I know that some people can go a little far with prepping but that is when it becomes an addiction.  I’m just saying that every other week you pick up a few extra can goods, batteries, or medical supplies when you are at the grocery store. If a common occurrence comes along such as some of the ones listed above you will be better off than you would have been had you not read this blog.

What are your thoughts on prepping? What do you do to prepare yourself for emergencies?

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Thanksgiving year round!

Earlier this week I got in to our car to go to work as I normally do. I started our silent world and pocket saver (we drive a Prius) and drove off.  When I got to the highway I realized that I had more tension in my hands than usual (normally I am a little stressed because I’m driving in Houston traffic… who isn’t?).  I was very stressed out for some reason… I searched my mind for everything that normally stresses me out. Was it the bills? No those were paid last week. So it must be family life? No I have an amazing wife and a beautiful baby boy.  I kept thinking only to finally find that I had nothing that should be stressing me out.  I should be happy go lucky. So in light of this observation I wanted to write this post.  I know that Thanksgiving is a few months away yet, but I would like you to humor me. This evening when you eat dinner, think about what is stressing you out and forget about it for five minutes and replace it with all the things that you have to be thankful for.  Here are a few that I am thankful for: my baby boy Phoenix, my beautiful wife Jenn, a roof over my head, my goofy dogs, a job that pays the bills, my family, a group of friends who I miss so much, working transportation, there are just so many things that I have to be thankful for. Think about what you have going in your life that you don’t really give full credit to on a normal basis.

I think the key to remembering to be thankful for things is being present. I’ve been trying recently to stay focused on what I am doing at the moment and not start to think about what I could or should be doing, or what needs to be done for the future.  Just be right where you are and appreciate every moment of it, because it will soon be a memory.

What are some of the things that you take for granted in this life?  What is something that you are thankful for?

Phoenix’s Birth Story- part two

So last I left you Kris and I had just found out we were pregnant (me more so than him) and I was trying to pick my jaw up off of the floor…and remain somewhat composed.  The next few months went by in a blur- we began telling our family and of course everyone was so excited for us (I think my mom was a little alarmed and counting the days from our wedding to our due date…but she came around and got excited too). I however, decided to take the healthiest approach and went into complete denial. That’s right…I just pretended I wasn’t. I Didn’t tell anyone at my job, didn’t announce it on facebook. I still went on my monthly doctor appointments, but that was about it. It was relatively easy since I wasn’t showing. At all. Seriously, if anyone noticed anything they might have just thought I ate a large lunch. After living in our hole one month too long we decided to move out at the end of December, we knew we were moving out ASAP anyway, but the baby gave us even more of an incentive to get the H out of there. Being two minutes away from my job just didn’t make up for the fact that we hated it. We originally started looking at rental houses, but good sense took over and we decided to get an apartment instead…this time we did a bit more research, decided to get one we both loved (we didn’t rush into it this time), and moved a little further outside of town closer to my parents. I knew we would be grateful for them being 15 minutes away once the baby got here. It was a longer commute, but would ultimately be worth it.

So I stayed in denial until mid-February, I was about four months (still not showing) and I finally decided to slowly come out of my denial and thought it might help if Kris and I took a birthing class. My mom had been suggesting The Bradley Method since that is what she used to have me completely naturally and drug-free… I had spent the better part of December and January ignoring her helpful advice, but I knew my fifth month was approaching and I would surely start showing then right? I figured it was probably time…and the little hippie Jenn that sits on my shoulder really liked the sound of a natural birth. ooo maybe even a water birth would be cool. I didn’t know much at this point, but I was finally to a point where I was ready to pull my head out of the sand and start coming up with a game plan. To be clear- I never planned to become a hard-core natural and home birth advocate… but that’s exactly what was about to happen.

Once we started our Bradley class the reading began…the more I read the more educated about birth I became and the less scary the whole thing sounded. I started getting really passionate about natural birth and I realized that finding a health care practitioner who was just as passionate about natural birth as I am was crucial. I didn’t want to have to fight off unsupportive doctors and nurses. My mom’s experience of giving birth to me in the hospital was a shining example of what I didn’t want. My dad had to fight off nurses the entire time, her doctor wasn’t there and the on call doctor was so rude- very skeptical that she would be able to pull off a natural birth and even made several snide remarks. She pulled it off, but it was a battle of epic proportions (think Luke Skywalker vs. Darth Vader). Isn’t labor hard enough without having to fight the people who are supposed to be helping you? I did not want to have to deal with that.

I had also heard stories of women going to the hospital with requests of a natural childbirth, even found a doctor who had seemed supportive of the idea at their appointments, but when their body didn’t meet the standards of dilating 1cm per hour (which I honestly believe is an unrealistic standard, especially for a first time mom) the doctor who had once been in support of a natural childbirth would rush things along with Pitocin or demand an emergency c-section. I found out that if I were to go to a hospital there was 1 in 3 chance I would have a c-section…some hospitals in Houston upped this to a 50% chance. The World Health Organization says that the best outcomes for women and babies occur with c-section rates of 5% to 10%. Rates above 15% seem to do more harm than good. 30-50%… yeesh!

Now I understand that there are some legitimate reasons to get c-sections and I’m very thankful that the procedure exists for those that need it, but unfortunately I think the procedure is being over-used for doctor’s convenience. I was also extremely concerned with the induction rates out there…a lot of doctors have now made it their routine to induce women on their due date or shortly after…well what does a due date even mean really? It’s only a guess…it’s like saying that all children will weigh 40 pounds exactly on their fifth birthday. Some will. Some won’t. All children are different and babies are no exception. 40 weeks of gestation time is an average- some babies will come earlier and some will come later…and there is nothing wrong with that. Yes, there are a few risks associated with going overdue, but with careful daily observation after going overdue a doctor would easily be able to detect if something was wrong. I think induction is kind of like throwing your kid in the deep end of the pool before they are ready…wouldn’t you rather wait until they are ready and willing to jump in on their own? I understand it’s hard to wait…even harder when your doctor is recommending it. I get it. But for me, the thought of being cohersed into an early induction was something I didn’t want. There were a lot of things I didn’t want. There were a lot of things I did want and figuring out exactly what I wanted in my birth was extremely important to me.

After looking into doctors that were pro-natural I was still worried about the rituals and routines at hospitals that I didn’t agree with…as well as there being a “time-clock” set on my birth. Most hospitals have taken it upon themselves to deem childbirth a twelve-hour affair…any longer and they are ready to slice and dice…yikes! It only seemed fitting to start looking for a midwife who had the potential of taking us out of the hospital scene all together. Now I feel like midwives have gotten a bad rap and I’m not sure why. When I started telling my mom I was looking at interviewing some midwives I’m pretty sure she was picturing some earth momma from bible times who watched women give birth while singing kumbaya and shaking a rain stick…it took awhile to convince her (and other people) that this wasn’t the case.

The first midwife we went to go visit was at Bay Area birthing center. I originally thought the idea of a birthing center sounded safer than a home birth, I (wrongly) assumed that they had additional equipment and could deal with more emergency situations. And while we really liked this birthing center as well as the head midwife we felt that their hospital transfer rate was a little too high. My thinking was that if we were going to do this we wanted to get exactly what we wanted, a peaceful water birth in a home-like atmosphere. It wasn’t until we met with Pat Jones that we realized home birth was the right decision for us. Pat was extremely qualified- having years of nursing and midwifery experience and attending over 1,700 births…I knew I would be in good hands. She also had extremely low c-section, induction, and hospital transfer rates. We also found out that she actually brings all of the equipment that a birthing center housed right to our apartment, so it was really no different than a birthing center other than the fact that we wouldn’t have to go anywhere- she not only would come to us for the birth, but also for all of our pre-natal appointments. No waiting ridiculously long hours in a doctor’s office (which I had already done for the first half of my pregnancy), score!

We loved Pat, our pre-natal appointments usually lasted well over an hour and truly gave us a chance to get to know each other. I feel that hiring Pat was like gaining a family member. She truly cared about us and concentrated on things in our appointments that none of the OB/GYNs I visited ever cared about. She wanted me to have the best possible nutrition which can prevent a lot of pregnancy health problems (preeclampsia and toxemia to name a few) and made me start really watching my weight gain (I gained 48 pounds too so who knows where I would have been without her!). She provided me with book after book to read and I soaked them up like a sponge…I wanted to learn everything I could…and reading positive birth stories helped too. I steered clear of those dramatic and scary birth stories, because after reading all of my childbirth books I knew what could really go wrong and how rare those situations actually were.

Choosing Pat as our healthcare provider did however come with strings. Unfortunately, most people believe that home birth is unsafe and we were constantly bombarded with questions like “why wouldn’t you want to be in a hospital?” and “what if something goes wrong?” These were valid questions and I had already answered them for myself, but I was now in a position to defend our decision to anybody and everybody. There were two main statistics that helped build my case 1) home birth has lower infant and maternal mortality rates than hospitals  and 2) the US has the highest infant and maternal mortality rate of all the industrialized countries…you know who has the lowest? Countries that use midwives as their primary birth care and only utilize OB/GYNs in high-risk pregnancies and emergency situations. Several people told me that I needed to find the best possible OB/GYN out there…well the truth is that OB/GYNs are trained surgeons. For a natural, normal birth, it’s kind of like hiring a brain surgeon to take care of your mild headache. It hurts yes, but if you wait long enough it will go away. OB/GYNs are trained and experienced in handling emergency situations…so while they have the best intentions they just might turn your normal childbirth into an emergency medical situation because that is what they are most comfortable dealing with.

Now, this isn’t to say that everyone should have a homebirth. A good home birth candidate is having a normal and healthy pregnancy (which could easily account for the great home birth statistics that were mentioned above)- midwives aren’t seeing the high-risk patients. But I could also make the argument that because of their emphasis on nutrition they are able to prevent most of their patients from becoming high risk. A planned, home birth is in fact safe…and it’s definitely not for the lazy pregnant women. First of all, the research I did to come to the conclusion that I wanted a home birth was time consuming in itself, but once the decision was made we did additional research, attended classes with our midwife, make an emergency transport plan (which included choosing a hospital as well as a backup hospital, finding out where the closest ambulance came from, and making sure all of our options would take our insurance should we need to go there), and even had to prep our apartment for a birth (I’ll get into that later). If we were more than thirty minutes away from a hospital, we probably woulndn’t have opted for a home birth, but since we live in Houston and the closest hospital is about two minutes away I felt extremely comfortable knowing that in the case of an emergency situation (which is in itself is extremely rare) we could be at the hospital in about 5 minutes. Needless to say we did our homework.

For some reason birth has become a scary event in our country…whether it’s all of the unnecessary “emergency” c-sections doctors perform or the sensationalism of birth on TV… it’s not a good thing. Birth doesn’t have to be scary and it doesn’t have to be an emergency. I had never been admitted to a hospital in my entire life and being pregnant is not a sickness…so I didn’t see why I needed to change my track record. I was hell bent on staying out of the hospital.

In one of our childbirth classes with Pat, she went around the room and asked all of us what our biggest fear was- several people said that they were afraid that something would go wrong, I said I’m afraid of going to the hospital. I was serious. I did NOT want to go there. I think I was most scared of giving up control. Being at home with Pat and with Kris I would be in charge- getting into comfortable positions, not being tied to an EFM (only a few minutes each hour), and my dogs would be there (sounds silly, but they really are like my kids with fur). I had a birth vision in mind and I wanted everything to go a certain way…

once again to be continued…

Come and knock on our door

Welcome to our humble abode!  Yes, it’s a little more humble than we would like but come on we are in a recession!  I figured that a tour of the place should be in order, maybe it will help you picture some of the things we tell you about in our later blogs. Plus- Jenn and I have some ideas of sprucing up the place to maximize the usage of our smaller space.

So it all begins with the living room. Jenn’s background is in interior design so there is no question who does the decorating in this family, although I throw my opinion in every once in awhile.  The tables were hand made by yours truly, and Jenn contributed the painting, the dragon pillow (rawr), and organized the book case (that will be getting a face lift soon).

Make your way into the dining area where you will see no lack of jobs to be completed. Jenn needs an office area desperately, table refinished, decorating the wall, and Jenn has an idea for a new light.  We will get to all of that later, just come back and see.

Now turn and you will be in our kitchen (which is a step up from our last place, yeesh). It has a really neat mirror back splash (hmmm) and plenty of room for all of Jenn’s cake stands (Not sure why she has so many cake stands when she doesn’t bake).  The pantry leaves me wanting but only because I like to do something called prepping… more on that later.

The bathroom has gotten a few upgrades already (shower head installation) and a shower curtain we grabbed at Target with some store credit. This bathroom has a great vanity with a huge draw back in the form of one sink…  Side note: any of the men reading this with one bathroom and a female living with them, please comment and tell me how you manage to get ready at the same time.

The bedroom is quite literally that, the room taken up by a bed. In college Jenn and I got used to a king bed so it kind of stuck. With the bed taking up 80% and the TV taking up 10% we are left with the walkway around the bed.  I know-“Kris where do you put all your stuff?” we have had to find ways to conserve space…spoiler alert: it’s under the bed. Plus, the room has two closets with a good amount of space.

10 points if you can spot our photobomber.

We went back and forth on getting a one bedroom or two, but since we knew we would be so-sleeping for at least a year, we figured we could save the extra money (those student loans aren’t going to pay themselves). Well that’s our place guys! I hope getting a picture of the apartment can help you picture things a little better and we also wanted to document the state it’s in now so when we start making some upgrades we can look back and feel good about our progress. In fact, Jenn has been working on a little upgrade that she’s planning for Wednesday that is going to help out that empty space syndrome going on in the living room…stay tuned!