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If you like this blog, please consider following our Facebook page!  I post interesting articles and fun links to resources regularly.  It’s a great place for interaction with the Rocking Homestead.

Also, feel free to follow me (Jessica) on Pinterest, where I pin a wide variety of really cool stuff.  I keep my boards very meticulously organized, if a board gets too big, I divide it up into sub categories (In the process of reorganizing my board “Garden and Homestead” into about 8 subsections right now).  You can find resources and inspiration for gardening, raising food producing animals, DIY and craft projects, holiday decor (my Halloween boards are EPIC), paleo cooking, size acceptance, feminism, natural parenting, bicycling, pregnancy and birth, and even fashion.

You can also follow Jeremy on Pintrest.  This is literally the only social networking he does.  His boards are much more woodworking, DIY, and Halloween focused than anything else.

Finally, you can connect with me on Instagram.

We look forward to connecting with all of you!

Surrogacy Update: Baby Kennan

  

Its been a long time since I’ve posted, and even a longer time since I posted a surrogacy update, and I think it’s high time for one.

Baby was born last Friday!

His name is Kennan, he was 8 lbs, 13 oz (my smallest baby ever!), and he is doing just awesome. I also am doing awesome, and everyone is very happy.

His birth was an adventure, let me tell you. We actually tried inducing about two weeks before he was born, when I was just over 39 weeks pregnant. Induction was not something I had ever considered in my previous pregnancies, both of which ended in completely unmedicated births (Freja was a home birth, even), but given how different a surrogacy is, I wanted something different from this birth. I planned to get an epidural, for one thing, and the idea of being able to schedule the birth date so as to be able to plan child care and time off work was pretty appealing to me. There were a couple of other reasons but that was my primary motivation. My cervix seemed favorable, so I decided to go for it.

My body and the baby, however, were not on the same page with my desires. Baby never came down enough for it to be safe to break my water, and the only dilation my cervix ever did was what we forced with a foley bulb, despite getting some decent contractions. After 18 hours of pitocin, it was clear it was going nowhere, so my midwife decided to call it quits and send me home. It was a shock to all of us, my midwife said she had never seen a failed induction in someone with two uncomplicated vaginal births, but I know my body likes to be unpredictable sometimes. I am grateful that my midwife wasn’t the type to push it until we were on a crash course to a cesarean. 

I think we all expected me to go into labor on my own shortly after that, but I didn’t, dragging on two more weeks. Periodically I would stop and think “I can’t believe I am still pregnant!” My cervix even closed back up! But after two weeks the baby dropped low enough to engage with my cervix, and my cervix came forward more, and we decided to try induction again at 41 weeks, 1 day, which also happened to be Jeremy’s birthday.

This induction worked much better, though it was still pretty slow. I got my epidural about 11 hours after pitocin started. The epidural caused my blood pressure, which is pretty low to begin with, to drop to levels that made me feel pretty sick, and I had to get a bunch of anti nausea and blood pressure meds to feel okay again. Towards the end of transition it started wearing off, and I wanted to find a balance where I would still feel as little pain as possible, but be able to feel enough sensation to be able to push when I needed to. I did not find that balance, and ended up feeling way more pain than I had wanted. It was okay, I’ve done totally unmedicated births, obviously, but it did leave me wondering what the point even was if I were still going to feel that much pain. That and the nausea leads me to believe that future episurals are not for me.

Sarah, baby’s mom, was able to catch him and that was awesome. When she lifted him up and I saw his little penis I was pretty excited. I had had a feeling this baby was a boy and it was cool to see my intuition was good. It’s been spot on for all my pregnancies so far. Watch me be wrong on the next one now, my body likes to trick me when I get too arrogant.

But not thirty seconds after his birth, in a rush to stimulate him, one of the nurses yanked him too hard and tore the cord in half. This was a disappointment to me, I was supposed to be the one to cut the cord, which to me was going to be symbolic of me officially handing him back to his mom. At the time, though, all I really notice was the blood spraying everywhere (it looked scarier than it actually was) and him turning purple afterwards. I was horrified, I thought something I had done caused it to happen. I’ve re watched the video a dozen times now though, and it’s pretty clear that he was just pulled too far, too hard, too soon after the birth, before the whartons jelly in the cord had a chance to thicken and make the cord tough.

As if that bloody situation weren’t enough, then I had a post partum hemorrhage. I really didn’t even know it was happening, I felt great. You would think I wouldn’t. I knew they were giving me anti hemorrhage drugs, but I figured it was just precautionary hospital stuff to avoid liability. My midwife was very calm and reassuring. It wasn’t until after she called in an OB to look at me that I started to realize I might actually be experiencing a legitimate complication. I had never had one before. But the bleeding slowed shortly after the OB checked me, and the cause was still a mystery. It was likely just because I had been on pitocin so long, and I’m a redhead. Redheads are more prone to bleeding. The next day I still felt great, and really even now it’s hard to believe I lost a significant amount of blood. It wasn’t enough to need a transfusion or anything, so it must not have been too bad.

All in all, the birth went very well, though I have jokingly described it as a blood bath (seriously, that cord tearing was no joke!). Sarah and Eric named baby Kennan, and he is just adorable. I think he looks mostly like his dad, but a lot like his brother Oscar as well. As for his birthdate, I was really thinking he would share a birthday with Jeremy, but it was not to be. Kennan was born 6 minutes after midnight the next day. He wanted his own birthday! It turned out to be an even more special day for him, though. That same day, the French Supreme Court decided that French babies born of surrogacy outside of France should be able to obtain French citizenship. This is a really big deal for their family, and hopefully will mean all their kids can get citizenship in their home country soon!

I am also doing fantastically! Recovery from birth is much easier without a baby. While I am tired and sore sometimes, it really has not been as much as in previous births. The after cramps are gone and it hasn’t even been a week, and I had some back pain after the epidural, but I think that is mostly gone now too. My bleeding has been much lighter than after previous births, and I’ve been doing very well producing milk for Kennan.

People have asked me if I feel sad now that it’s all over, but I don’t feel sad at all. In the first place, it’s not all over. I expect to be a part of Kennan’s life forever, as well as his whole family’s life. I feel as though I have gained another sister in Sarah, and really in the other two surrogates that carried Sarah and Eric’s other two children as well. We have gotten to know Sarah’s family here in town and become close with them as well, Elijah especially has hit it off with Sarah’s nephews. This family is part of our family now, and I don’t see it ever being all over.

As for the pregnancy itself, I feel mostly relief that it’s over. I am so happy to see Kennan with his family, this has always been my end goal. Being pregnant without expecting a baby is a very different experience than a normal pregnancy, and honestly it’s just nice to be able to sleep and walk without hip pain, and to see my body go back to the way it was before. I’m looking forward to resuming my old athletic pursuits (I am practically literally holding myself back from going roller skating, my body does still need some rest period) and I really enjoyed having a beer for the first time in ten months, even if it did make me feel really light headed and dehydrated (must have been the blood loss) and it will probably be a while before I indulge in another. I do love Kennan, I love when I get to see him, when his mom posts pictures on Facebook, but it’s much the way I feel about my neice. It’s very different than the love I feel for my kids. It’s a strong, excited, joyous love, but Kennan isn’t my baby. 

All of that being said, I suspect I will feel a little sad when they go home to Paris. I’m going to miss them, of course! But I know they come here to Colorado pretty often, and they have invited us to go visit them for a few weeks next year! In the mean time, we will keep in touch through Facebook, email, and face time just like we did during the pregnancy. 

This has been an amazing journey and I am so glad I did it. I have been so blessed to have been able to forge these relationships with everyone in this family, and I cannot express how grateful I am for all of it.

Burning my diet books

  

Recently my cousin’s mom was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. She is self employed and has no health insurance, and the road ahead for her is shaping up to be very costly, so my cousin put together a few means of raising funds for her mom’s care. 

One of these was a charity garage sale. I had a number of things waiting patiently in a pile to go to Goodwill that I decided would be just as well being sold at her charity garage sale, but I also found myself prompted to go through some other things to find items to donate/purge out of my home. I had been wanting to go through my book shelves for some time, most notably to get rid of my diet books.

I had accumulated quite a little pile of these books over the years, ranging from the main stream (South Beach Diet) to the weird and woo (The Raw Milk Diet). I used to think their presence on my book shelf stood as some kind of proof that I had tried dieting, I had tried even more than what my book shelf displayed. But more and more lately I was beginning to think fuck that. I don’t need my dining room book shelf to demonstrate to the world that I am a Good Fatty. Also, I really needed the space for new books. Into the donation pile they went!

I posted a picture of my pile a few places online, declaring with glee that I was finally getting rid of this useless junk. If other people wanted to give someone money for books that told them to drink cow colostrum or eat low fat string cheese with carrots for every snack, they might as well give that money to my cousin for her mom’s medical care. But soon people started suggesting that I should simply destroy or recycle the books. Don’t perpetuate the diet industry, they said. End the cycle now. They had a point. But my cousin’s fund raiser! That was important too!

It was then that people started offering a dollar a book if I would throw them away instead of donating them to sell. After three people offered (including Marilyn Wann, the author of Fat!So?, which made me feel instantly star struck) I had to admit that getting three bucks a piece for these books was more than my cousin would ever get for them at a garage sale. I agreed to destroy the books in exchange for donations to my cousin’s crowd funding page.

It occurred to me that in exchange for these generous donations I ought to destroy the books in some dramatic, entertaining fashion, and then video tape it to share with those who donated. I thought about throwing them all in a full bath, but that would be sort of boring, really, and a heavy mess in our recycling bin. Several people suggested burning them bon fire style, but book burning seems so Nazi-ish, and I hear it really stinks thanks to glue in the binding and stuff. My mom suggested getting a wood chipper to run them through, but then the paper would not be recyclable, and it also turns out that I don’t know anyone with a wood chipper. Jeremy and I thought about it, and eventually decided a slight torching with our weed torch, followed by a spray of the hose, would probably do the trick. It would destroy the books, look dramatic on video, and still leave them intact enough to go for recycling.

Today after some yard work I torched the books. Honestly, I felt bad burning books, even if they do contain information that does real, physical harm to people. It didn’t help any that Elijah kept jokingly calling me a Nazi, which I don’t think he fully understood the meaning of, he just knew it got a reaction from me. It also felt kind of wasteful. Some of the books were nice hard covers. Maybe I’m too much of a book nerd, the content of the book should matter more than the covers and bindings. I don’t know.

What does feel good is knowing the books aren’t on my shelves anymore. I feel good knowing I raised a bit of money for a good cause. I feel good knowing these books won’t hurt anyone else. And I feel good knowing my video of the book burning was entertaining to other body positive, anti dieting people. Here is my video of the torching, if you are interested in seeing it. We did it at the end of a day of yard work, and I feel a little silly about how my non maternity t shirt rode up to expose the maternity panel on my shorts, but whatever. Jeremy and I had just chopped down and cut up a tree.

Five foods never to eat

Some foods are bad for you. You should never eat anything that is bad for you. Everything you eat should provide nothing but nutritional excellence. Sadly, our system makes it really hard to tell which foods provide nutritional excellence and which ones will cause you to suffer a slow and painful death, followed by an eternity writhing in the bowels of hell as punishment for your poor food choices. That’s where I, a person with next to no medical training (I did do a few years studying pre health care in undergrad before determining I don’t want to work in the medical field, though) come in to tell you what is and isn’t safe to eat, so that you might live for eternity and look like a supermodel the whole time, because everyone knows that if you just eat perfectly nothing bad can ever happen to you, and you will always look super hot. Like a vampire.

So I won’t make you wait any longer. Here are five foods you should never, under any circumstances, ever eat.

  

Rat Poison

You might not be aware, because the cult of conventional nutrition refuses to look at any evidence that isn’t directly funded by the rat poison industry, but rat poison will kill you. Literally. Like, within minutes of consuming it. Don’t eat rat poison.

  

Poop

I know what you are thinking. Poop has been around for thousands of years, and has been a part of every traditional culture. How can it be unsafe to eat? Well, this will likely come as a shock, but did you know very few people in traditional cultures actually ate poop? It’s true! The actual traditional use of poop is to compost it a while and put it on your fields to return nitrogen to the soil and improve crop production, but big nutra doesn’t want you to know that! Follow the money!

  

Newspaper

Although high in fiber, newspaper provides little else to meet your nutritional needs. It’s pretty much just empty calories. And, the jury is still out on whether or not the inks used to print the news stories cause cancer. Do you want to risk it? If you must indulge in newspaper, eat only the lifestyle section. Eating the politics section is known to jack up your aura and give you bad vibes. Science.

  

Human Flesh

If cows get mad cow disease from eating cow flesh, it stands to reason that humans will get mad human disease from eating human flesh. Just don’t do it. Also it’s illegal or something.

  

Gravel

If it’s good for chickens, it’s good for you, right? WRONG! Humans are not designed to eat gravel, no matter what your high school biology teacher may have told you. Though some people would have you believe that humans and chickens once shared a “common ancestor”, I don’t see any feathers sprouting out of me, do you? There! The proof is in the pudding! We don’t even have the same organs as chickens, which is why chickens need to eat gravel to help them digest, and we do not. Gravel will actually make you sick, and is probably the cause of gluten sensitivity. Don’t believe the hype about evolution, AND DON’T EAT GRAVEL!

  

MIA

I have not been posting much because I have been super busy with school, the surrogacy, spring, and general life stuff. Also, I have been horribly sick. But I am learning so much in school and have big plans to put that knowledge to good use around the Rocking Homestead, so stay tuned! I actually do have a lot to write about.

Boycott Dolce and Gabbanna

Apparrently two rich fashion dudes said some really offensive stuff about IVF, LGBTQ parenting, and surrogacy, and understandably a lot of people are pissed. Elton John has called for a boycott of all their products, which I would gladly join in on (as one of the so called “rented uteruses” they referred to), but I cannot afford Dolce and Gabbanna stuff anyhow. 

Here’s what I can do. I notice a lot of celebrities saying they are going to burn or throw away their D&G stuff, so that no one ever wears them. I get that, if they donate the clothes, other people will wear them and anyone wearing the clothes is a walking advertisement for them. But please, don’t take this opportunity to waste resources, further stuff our landfills, and create air pollution. Instead, send your old D&G items to me! I will cut them up and make rag rugs out of them! And possibly Halloween decorations. And maybe some other crafty stuff. The point is, I will make sure they never get worn again, without contributing to waste. Huzzah!

Anyone who wants to send me their junk D&G clothes (and whatever other products they make, I don’t know, shoes? Purses? We can destroy those too in fun, non wasteful ways. My kids are very creative.) drop me a line. I will gladly take that stuff off your hands and repurpose it into something that is actually nice. 

Weather Rant

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Colorado weather forecasters are calling for somewhere in the neighborhood of 8″ this weekend, and everyone is flipping out. I don’t totally get it, having lived in this state almost 30 years (my parents took me to live in St. Louis for a few years as a small child, and I spent a couple years elsewhere in the Army, but other than that it’s all been here, and I’m third generation native), I remember a time when an 8″ accumulation was considered on the high side of modest snowfall. I remember having to drag my ass to middle school after the blizzard of ’97 with 3 feet of accumulated snow on the ground. Now when not even a foot is called for, everyone calls it #snowmageddon and clears out the grocery stores (I snapped the above photo of the line I had to wait in at the grocery store when I went to get diapers yesterday). We’ve gone soft in this state I’m afraid.

It probably shouldn’t be surprising, we just don’t get snows like we used to anymore. The last really big blizzard we got was in ’03, 4 – 6 feet of accumulation depending on where you were (it’s worth noting that the light rails were still running for the first few feet of that, I took one). That sort of snow wasn’t super common growing up here, but it did happen. My kids will probably never see snow like that. They get that on the east coast now. Everything is topsy turvy, it seems. When it’s been almost a decade since we last had a real blizzard, and in that time the main population growth has come from people moving here from places where, yeah, a few inches of snow is a disaster, then I guess it should be no surprise that we’ve gone a little soft. On top of that, I am pretty convinced we’ve cut funding for snow removal or something because I also remember driving in the blizzard of ’03, and there are times now that the roads are worse at 3″ of snow than they were then at 72″. The only explanation for that is that snow removal was better then than it is now (and maybe there were fewer idiots freaking out on the roads back then, I don’t know).

But hey, I don’t like cold and snow either, so I’m just as willing to stay the hell away from it as everyone else. Luckily this snow fall (sorry, this is not a blizzard, it’s not a blizzard until we’re measuring in feet, not inches) is happening on a weekend and most of us won’t have to go out in it. And considering how everyone was preparing to baton down the hatches like a fucking hurricane was coming yesterday, I doubt there will be much in the way of commerce going on so I hope the staff at retail establishments is minimal (having worked as a pizza delivery driver, however, I know those poor souls are doomed, I’ve delivered pizzas in far worse snow than this, in a Ford Focus, no less. No one cares what the roads are like when they want pizza delivered hot to their doorstep). You won’t find me out there making snow angels and building snow forts, no way. I hibernate when this shit falls. But I also get really pissed off when I hear people complaining about it.

1. This is nothing, so shut your wimpy hole. There are plenty of people in New England right now, not to mention those of us here who remember what real winter used to look like in Colorado, playing the worlds smallest violin for you and your forecasted eight inches.
2. What the hell is there to complain about? We’ve hardly gotten any cold and snow all winter. We had several weeks of 60 and 70 degree weather back there, for Christ’s sake! My tulips started growing!! It’s not like this is the hundredth snow of the season, it’s not even the tenth! This has been a fucking easy and gentle winter (like last winter, and the winter before that) in which cold and snow didn’t even really start until mid February (it used to be February and March were the snowiest months of winter, not the only months of winter), so please STFU.
3. We need snow and cold!!! We need it for our ecosystem to function properly. And not just our ecosystem, but the ecosystem of pretty much the entire mid to south west portion of North America (yes, the whole continent) depends in a large part on cold and snow in the Rocky Mountain region. People all over this continent face massive drought and ecological disaster when we in the Rocky Mountain corridor don’t get enough winter, which means fires, food shortages, and death. We know what it looks like when we don’t get enough winter. We have seen it, over the last decade. It is not pretty. It looks like ever more numerous and massive forest fires. It looks like whole forests wiped out by pine beetle kill. It looks like increased pesticide usage, crop failures, and drought. It looks like rising rates of insect borne diseases. We have seen it, and I guess I kind of feel like, since we know what not enough winter looks like, we should be grateful for what little winter we are still getting. We should be down on our knees praising the heavens for whatever amount of snow we’ve been blessed with, which is, I’m sorry, not nearly enough this year. I’m not saying we should all be skipping outside singing songs from Frozen, but at the very least, could we refrain from whining about how unfair it is that we should have to suffer through a tiny fraction of a season we actually desperately need for our ecosystem to function properly? How out of touch could we possibly be?

In my frustration, I posted the following rant on Facebook.

I’m going to be that asshole again and say it, this snow is good. We need snow. We need it for agriculture, fire protection, drinking water, and for our ecosystems not to get all fucked up. And not just here, in Colorado. Thirteen states, several tribal nations, and many parts of Mexico are to some degree dependent on the snowfall we get here in Colorado for their water supply, including California, you know, THE STATE THAT MOST OF THE NATION’S FOOD COMES FROM. Food needs water to grow, yo. And it’s not just water we need, we also need cold temperatures. Cold temperatures kill off insect larva so that there are fewer insects in the summer time. Insects like pine beetles, Mosquitos, and various pests that kill our crops. Warmer winters mean greater pesticide usage, more dead forests, and more West Nile and Lyme disease, just to name a few consequences of not having enough cold and snow. If you like eating, not having insect borne diseases, and not breathing ash all summer, you should be grateful for this snow. I don’t like snow and cold any more than anyone else, but our ecosystem has it for a reason. So maybe instead of bitching that our weather is finally supplying us and much of the western part of North America with this much needed weather, get comfy in your home, drink some hot chocolate, spend time with your loved ones, and enjoy getting a hibernation break. If you have to go out in this for work, bitch about your cruel corporate overlords who force that upon you, not the weather. And the next time it’s unseasonably warm in the winter, instead of skipping around chirping about how beautiful it is, get pissed, because it is not normal and it is not okay and something can and should be done about it. Take it from this third generation native, February and March are normally our snowiest months, not our only snowy months. At the very least, if you can’t handle one or two 8″ snowfalls at the very end of what used to be winter, be grateful you didn’t live here back when we used to get real winters, and no one freaked out unless we were calling for more than 12″. This state has gone soft.

(Note; we did get what I would call a medium blizzard in ’07. I forgot about that, which is weird because the National Guard was called up and I was a part of it. Granted, we were called up to help cattle ranchers in Lamar, primarily. Denver was expected to for the most part handle its own shit during that, but it was a blizzard. Still, it’s been 8 years since then, almost a decade, and I don’t think we’ve had anything I’d consider to be a blizzard since then. We used to get at least one blizzard a year. I’d say we need at least 2 feet of accumulation from a single storm to call it a blizzard.)

(Another note; if you are going to order pizza in this kind of weather, for the love of humanity and all things good and holy, please turn on your porch lights, shovel your driveway and sidewalks, and tip appropriately. That’s at least 20% or $5, whichever is more. If delivery to your door in a snow storm is not worth that, get off your lazy ass and you drive to pick up your freaking pizza. All delivery places also offer carry out. I have seen people seriously injured on icy sidewalks and had their cars totaled in the effort to get you a lousy pizza during a snow storm. Show some gratitude. No one owes you a pizza.)

Where the leaders are

Bill McKibben, marching in the Forward on Climate rally in Washington DC, Feb 2013.  Photo obtained at 350.org.

Bill McKibben, marching in the Forward on Climate rally in Washington DC, Feb 2013. Photo obtained at 350.org.

What the climate movement needs, I am often told, is a single, strong leader, like Martin Luther King Jr. or Ghandi.  Then it will be a force to be reckoned with, but until then it can’t really do much.

This sentiment frustrates me to no end, and often I just write it off as the person saying it’s excuse not to get involved and take any real action. Certainly, this belief does prevent people from getting involved, but whether or not it is spoken in a conscious attempt to avoid action is debatable. A cop out isn’t always conscious, sometimes it is based on beliefs that have been instilled in us from outside sources.  And these are beliefs, not facts.  Social movements do not need, nor do they always have, a single, strong leader. Continue reading

How to make friends outside of school

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This is what socializing via Facebook is like.

There is a common complaint amongst 20 and 30 something moms in my circles. “How do I make friends?” They ask. “How do you meet and connect with people now that we’re no longer in high school / college?” Many of us (and probably not just moms) feel a lack of connection, companionship, and intimacy in our lives. The online interest groups we join to discuss our hobbies are a poor replacement for actual community with real, human interaction. We know this, and yet we feel utterly ignorant to what we can do about it. We have no idea how to meet and interact with real people in real life. I have a few ideas though.

Continue reading

Worst Super Bowl commercials ever

It likely comes as no surprise to most people that I’m not that big into sports. I guess I don’t really take issue with them (I can’t say the same about some sports fans …), but it’s just not my cup of tea. I’m also not that big on advertising, and more often than not Super Bowl commercials leave me underwhelmed. Still, people keep saying it’s worth watching just for the commercials, and some of them can be funny, so I tend to watch. Continue reading

Don’t worry dude, 10 women who don’t want to marry you

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No, dude. The answer is a big, fat no.

This gem of a blog post has been making the rounds and offending women with at least half a brain the world over. I personally don’t see what’s to get so up in arms about. I thought I could compile a very similar list myself. Continue reading