pregnancy-miscarriage-support

Let’s Talk About Miscarriage

This story has a happy ending, I promise!

After suffering a miscarriage myself at the end of 2013 (accursed year), I am currently happily expecting our first baby. Fingers crossed that all continues to go well.

This topic, though, is something that needs to be talked about. So, here goes.

pregnancy-miscarriage-support
Image sourced from BabyCenter.ca

(For the record, I am not a doctor and I am using my personal experience and trustworthy online resources and written materials to compile the information for this article. If you suspect you might be having a miscarriage, contact your doctor immediately.)

My Miscarriage

I was probably 8 weeks pregnant last December when my pregnancy ended, but I didn’t know about it until about a week later.

That’s called a sceptic miscarriage, or when your pregnancy stops but your body does not expel the fetus. You eventually develop an infection in the uterus, the symptoms of which can be fever (yup, had that), body aches (yup), chills (yup) and other unpleasantness.

After a trip to the emergency room and a night in hospital, the doctor performed a D&C (a suction dilation and curettage) and within 24 hours I was ready to go home. Heartbroken.

What is a Miscarriage?

A miscarriage is when a pregnancy ends before the 20th week. According to the Mayo Clinic online resources, this happens in about 15 to 20 per cent of pregnancies.

Basically, that’s why you hear you’re not supposed to announce a pregnancy until you’ve made it through the first trimester (or 14 weeks). The risk of miscarriage drops dramatically after that point.

In addition to a sceptic miscarriage mentioned above, there are several kinds of miscarriages:

  • Threatened miscarriage: Where you’re bleeding but your cervix hasn’t dilated. With rest, these often don’t actually result in a full miscarriage.
  • Inevitable miscarriage: You’re bleeding, contracting, the cervix is dilated and there’s no way it’s not happening. Bummer.
  • Incomplete miscarriage: You’ve lost some of the tissue, but some is left behind in the uterus.
  • Missed miscarriage: Placental and embryonic tissue is still in the uterus but the embryo has died (or never actually existed).
  • Complete miscarriage: You’ve passed all the pregnancy tissues and everything is cleared out of the uterus.

Source: Harms, Roger, M.D. & Wick, Myra, M.D., Ph.D (eds) 2011, Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, Good Books, Intercourse, PA.

Your Choices of Treatment

In my case, I was offered two choices: I could do the D&C (as mentioned above) in the hospital, or I could take a pill at home that would cause my body to expel the fetus at home.

For the D&C, you are put under general anesthetic and uses a machine to gently suction the pregnancy tissue out of the uterus.

The medical treatment may involve an oral pill that will cause you to expel the pregnancy tissue later (probably at home). I had heard of people choosing this option and it sounded absolutely horrifying to me. That’s why I opted for the surgical procedure.

Normally, your care provider will outline the risks of each procedure to help you make your decision.

Miscarriage is NOT. YOUR. FAULT.

Yes, there are certain risk factors that increase the likelihood of miscarriage. These are:

  • Age: If you’re older than 35, you have a higher risk of miscarriage. Apparently, the age of the father can also influence the likelihood of miscarriage.
  • More than two previous miscarriages. If you’ve had two or more miscarriages, your chances of having another increase.
  • Smoking, drinking and doing drugs. This one is pretty obvious, I should think.

Source: Idem.

What is important to remember, though, is that unless you are abusing your body horribly with drugs and alcohol, having a miscarriage is absolutely not your fault.

Usually, pregnancies end in miscarriage because the fetus is simply not viable. It’s not caused by having sex, exercising, or lifting heavy items. And, unless it’s a case of toxoplasmosis, it’s probably not caused by anything you eat (even those “forbidden foods”).

Remember, too, that unless there are other physical issues, most women who have a miscarriage go on to have healthy pregnancies and babies.

Seeking Support

BabyCenter.com and .ca offers resources for expectant mothers who have suffered a miscarriage. You will find any number of online forums where women (and their partners) share their experiences and offer words of support and comfort.

Chances are, too, that you know someone who has had a miscarriage. Talking about it with family and friends helped me to grieve, but also to understand that what I had experienced is (sadly) quite normal. Surrounding me were women of all ages who had had the same experience (for some, it was more than once).

They shared their stories of heartbreak, but also encouraged me with their stories of joy about how a healthy baby almost always followed a miscarriage.

Your healthcare provider can also recommend resources for you. If you find you are deeply grieving, you may want to speak with a mental health professional. There is no shame in this, and it is, in fact, a smart and proactive move to seek out assistance.

You’re Not Alone

The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. Your partner is likely suffering and grieving along with you. Grieve together, and give each other all the time and support you can.

  • Don’t be afraid to cry, even in front of or with your partner
  • Plan something you can look forward to: for my Chico and me it was our honeymoon
  • Seek counseling together

However you cope, try to give yourselves something to look forward to together as a couple. Eventually, as the grief and disappointment fade, hope and optimism will return and you may feel ready to try again.

Feel free to contact me on the About TheBrainInJane page if you have questions, or to write in the comments below.

easy-way-to-polish-shoes

4 Household Tricks to Make Life Easier

I’ve recently learned a few household tricks that have made life so much easier for me. Here are my 4 favorite life hacks:

1. Fruit Fly Trap

Summertime, and the living is easy. Unless, of course, you’re a fruit fly. Then you’ve got about a day of mature adult life and it’s a mad scramble to reproduce.

No one wants fruit flies reproducing on their produce, though! Here’s a great trick I learned for trapping the nasty little buggers so they don’t swarm your fruit.

homemade-fruit-fly-trap
A simple trap for those pesky fruit flies.

What you’ll need:

  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Dish soap
  • Piece of paper
  • Jar (preferably larger than the one pictured here)

Pour about half a cup of apple cider vinegar into your jar, then squeeze a couple squirts of dish soap into it and stir it up. Yum! Then, fold your piece of paper into a cone shape and stick it into the jar so that it’s not touching the liquid.

The apple cider vinegar will attract the nasty little fruit flies and the dish soap will ENTRAP them when they try to take a drink of the forbidden liquid! Then, even if they do manage to fly out of vinegar, the cone-shaped paper will make it harder for them to escape the jar.

Voilà, no more fruit flies.

2. The Lazy Woman’s Shoe Polish

My dad has this amazing shoe polishing kit, full of different-colored polishes for all their pairs of shoes. He’ll pull it out on a Saturday afternoon, set down some newspaper, put on an old apron, sit on a stool, and get to work polishing and buffing his and my mother’s shoes to a gorgeous shine.

I’m far too lazy for that. Plus, it’s hard to find the right color of polish these days.

When my Chico bought me a leather bag for Christmas (yes, you can be jealous), he asked for some care tips from the guy at the store.

The gentleman said the best way to both clean and polish leather is to buff it with a plain old moisturizer.

easy-way-to-polish-shoes
My favorite boots always shine! This Norwegian stuff seems to do the trick.

I find it works about as well as polishing, and my shoes are always bright and shiny.

Note: I would always re-waterproof your shoes after you buff them with moisturizer.

3. Use Boiling Water on Berry Stains

This is a classic old household trick that so many people have forgotten!

Berry stains come out with boiling water. Berries include blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, mulberries… Whatever! But, most importantly, this also includes the killer: red wine.

Spilled some red wine on your white shirt? No problem! Boil up some water in your electric kettle (because everyone has one of those, right??), place a pyrex measuring cup inside the shirt under the stain (because you don’t want to pour the wine stain through one side of the shirt to the other) and simply pour boiling water over it.

It’ll turn a kind of gray color at first, but if you keep pouring it on it will fade slowly. Be sure not to let your pyrex cup overflow, though! And don’t burn yourself!

Bonus: Bloodstains come out with a good soak in ice water. If you cut yourself shaving, gentlemen, just grab some ice cubes from the freezer and place the shirt in a container. Soak it with the ice cubes and very cold water and the blood stain should come out in a cold water wash.

4. Water Stains on a Wood Table

Now, to be honest I haven’t tried this one. But my grandmother has and she said it worked like a charm.

Take water stains out of your wood table with a drop of mayonnaise. Yes, mayonnaise!

Just put some on a paper towel and rub in a circular motion over the water stains. My grandmother said you’ll have to switch out for a clean paper towel to dry up the mayonnaise, but it should take out a relatively fresh water stain.

I doubt it’s very effective on old water rings. That’s what coasters are for, people.

Share Your Household Tricks!

Call ’em what you want: tricks, tips, life hacks. But share them! I’m curious to know, for instance, if an aspirin at the bottom of a vase of flowers really helps keep them fresh. Tell me!

 

 

Homemade_Nutella_Recipe

Homemade Nutella Recipe: Say Good-Bye to Palm Oil

Homemade_Nutella_RecipeDo you love Nutella but feel guilty about consuming such obscene amounts of palm oil?

OF COURSE YOU DO. Everyone does. How can you not love Nutella?

This week I discovered this homemade Nutella recipe by Lollie Rock posted on mamansquidechirent.com (loose translation: momswhorock.com). Since it is in French, and since I discovered a helpful trick to make this recipe easier, I thought I’d share with you guys.

Homemade Nutella Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of hazelnuts, skinned and toasted (see below for a great trick!)
  • 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup of powdered sugar
  • 3/4 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 3 tbsp of hazelnut oil

Directions:

After skinning and toasting your hazelnuts, toss them in your mixer. You’ll want a good mixer to be sure that you get a nice, smooth consistency (unlike mine which resulted in a somewhat granular–but not unpleasant!–Nutella). Blend them until they have a smooth, buttery consistency. (Alternatively, save yourself some time and find hazelnut butter at the store).

Next, add the rest of your ingredients one by one, mixing each in thoroughly before adding the next. Starting with the hazelnut oil will help keep things nice and moist.

Mix thoroughly. If you find your Nutella is too dry or grainy, add a touch more hazelnut oil until it gets the consistency you want. Don’t worry about the amount of oil: you’ll never get as much in there as in the real thing.

How to skin and toast hazelnuts like Julia Child

I read somewhere that the best way to skin and roast hazelnuts is to put them in the oven at 175°C (350°F) for 15 minutes, then rub them in a tea towel to get the skins off.

I also read that this technique is only partially effective. So I did some googling and found this article from mybakingaddiction.com that revealed a secret shown to Julia Child: boil the hazelnuts in 2 cups of water and 3 tablespoons (you read that right!) of baking soda.

Here’s how it works:

Boil: 2 cups of water. Add: 3 tbsp of baking soda. Pour in your hazelnuts. The water will turn black and will foam up. Boil for 3 minutes (or thereabouts). In the meantime, prepare a bowl of ice water.

Pick out one hazelnut to test. Drop it in ice water and if the skin slips off easily, drop the rest in. Then simply slip the skins off the rest of the hazelnuts one by one, and place them on a tea towel to pat dry.

Toast in the oven at 175°C (or 350°F) for 15 minutes. Your kitchen will smell lovely.

Here is a video of Alice Medrich showing this technique to Julia Child (with a great hazelnut biscotti recipe to boot!):

Bonus info: Why you should avoid palm oil

The production of palm oil is linked to the destruction of rainforest in Indonesia, further endangering species like the orangutan. Visit the World Wildlife Fund’s website for more information about palm oil and why you should avoid it.