Monthly Archives: September 2017

Shadows Moving In and Out

“Never fear shadows. They simply mean there’s a light shining somewhere nearby.” (Ruth E. Renkel). No one can exist without shadows. I can guess what your life shadows are, what makes the corners of your mouth turn down, adds a lump to your stomach and a hole to your heart. I have similar shadows because we are both human. No one escapes sad difficult times; relationship issues, job loss, abuse, death, disease, betrayal and on and on. The shadows can become so dark we find it very hard to believe there is “light somewhere nearby.”Where can we find the light Ms. Renkel faithfully suggests? Nobel Prize winner for literary excellence, Francois Muriac, sheds a little ‘light’ with this quote: “No love, no friendship can cross the path of our destiny without leaving some mark on it forever.” Let’s take the quote a little further to proclaim that difficult outcomes leave marks too but if we decide to look for the positive in our difficult situation, it very well can lead us to the light we need to move from the shadow. We then find we have become stronger and more equipped to heal ourselves. When we experience healing we find within ourselves a deeper compassion toward others.

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“I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, but only more love.” Mother Teresa’s quote sounds confusing but when we examine it more closely we find that she is describing God’s perfect love. As we grow in relationship with him, as did Mother Teresa, God’s indwelling spirit enables us to find supernatural forgiveness and joy. The journey out of the shadow can be long and torturous filled with doubt and anger. But if we persist, we find ourselves forgiving the offender and often moving toward a deeper love as Mother Teresa suggests.It seems to me when faced with difficulties we have two options: 1-to think of ourselves as a victim or 2-to use the circumstance for growth. William A. Ward, author of Fountains of Faith states, “Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records.” I had the opportunity to come alongside people whose world seemed to end when tragedy hit; a teenage son died by suicide, three family members died in a fatal plane crash, a toddler was run over accidentally by his own father, four pregnancies in a row all ending in stillbirth, a baby murdered by a boyfriend, a child hit by a train are certainly circumstances that could cause men and women to break.In my capacity as Bereavement Coordinator, we developed a team of caregivers that came along side these families and followed them up for years afterward. The ones who refused to become bitter found that the upward climb actually made them better people, more compassionate, willing to help others in need. Some even develop organizations like Candy Lightner, who founded Mothers against drunk drivers. Those who chose not to move in their grief ended up lonely, isolated, angry and bitter.

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In my experience, I noticed that those who became more wise and tender hosted similar belief systems i.e. they all believed there was purpose in their suffering, they all believed in a personal God who would help them, they all faced their feelings and brought them out to look at them honestly, they all looked and found a support system, they all found exercising important, they all courageously found ways to teach others about their grieving thoughts and feelings. They all looked for ways to help others, they all found comfort in their memories; they all found a way to use the energy of grieving to help others and celebrate the life of their loved one. They all lived a life of gratitude. Of course, their lives still have bumps and shadows and always will that’s the nature of this world. But watching them, interacting with them and having relationship with them prove to me that it is possible to move in and out of shadows growing stronger and more equipped after each one.

How To Prevent Pregnancy Stretch Marks

How to prevent pregnancy stretch marks is one of the biggest concerns for pregnant women everywhere. These concerns can often even over shadow the backache and morning sickness worries that women have. This article gives tips and useful advice on how you can prevent stretch marks in the first place.To begin with, stretch marks normally look like red or purple streaks on your skin (depending on your skin pigmentation). Overtime these streaks become less prominent and look silver or white. Stretch marks are most visibly around the abdomen but can also be seen around the hips, thighs, buttocks, breasts and arms. Some statistics show that between 75-90 percent of all pregnant women develop stretch at some point during their pregnancy.
So how then do you prevent pregnancy stretch marks?
The most common way to try to prevent stretch marks is to apply a suitable cream. It is important to understand that you should not just buy any old moisturizing cream off the shelf and expect that to do the job for you. What you really need is a specialist product that can go deeper than the average moisturizing cream, one that can get past the epidermis (the top layer of skin). Look for ones with high amounts of vitamin A, vitamin E, collagen, elastin, glycolic acid, and emu oil, liposomes and aloe vera gel. These sorts of products are able to get really deep into the skin and even penetrate the dermis (the second layer of skin). This is crucial as the dermis is the layer where the stretch marks will begin to occur, unseen to begin with. These products are also great for replacing skin cells that have been damaged and also in reinvigorating the renewal of new healthy skin cells.

Drink an adequate amount of water. Most people don’t drink enough water to keep their bodies hydrated. It is essential for healthy skin to make sure you have enough. However, don’t drown yourself in water, also aim to eat lots of water rich foods like salads to give your body a healthy balance. Drinking water all day while eating junk food will not mean you are being healthy. Focus on a balanced water rich diet instead.

Focus on eating foods that enhance healthy skin. Foods that are rich in vitamin A,B,C,D and E. Other ingredients to look for are zinc, silica and protein. Foods that contain these sorts of ingredients are fish, nuts, citrus fruits and vegetables (especially leafy greens). It is essential that you eat the correct foods and drink the correct liquids (that means avoiding coffee, tea and other caffeine drinks). This will help keep your skin clear and help it to stretch better and bounce back to its original shape after birth.

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Whether you get stretch marks or not is influenced by many different factors and even by following the tips above and any others you might read, this does not guarantee that you will not get stretch marks. Things such as:

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Genetics, if your mother or sister suffered from stretch marks you are more likely to suffer from it yourself.

Skin condition, dry skin is by its very nature less elastic and therefore more prone to stretch marks.

Your skin tone and ethnicity, is also a factor, the fairer your skin the more likely it is that you will suffer from visible stretch marks.

If you have had a baby before or if you are carrying a large baby or more than one, then you are more prone to develop stretch marks.
In conclusion, by following the tips above you can drastically reduce your chances of getting stretch marks. However, no tips or products can guarantee 100% that you will not get them. But by drastically reducing the possibility of getting them you also increase the chances of if you do get them that over time they will become less and less visible.

5 Early Signs of Pregnancy

Extremely early signs of pregnancy- are there any? Yes no doubt there are the signs which very early indicate that one is pregnant. The fertilized egg implants itself after about seven days of conception. The moment implantation happens, the early pregnancy signs begin to appear. The hormone level start to change and the body start reacting to these new hormonal levels.The initial anxieties of pregnancy are completely over shadowed by the overwhelming and unpleasant symptoms known as morning sickness.The term ‘morning’ can be misleading as the symptoms often continue throughout the day. Morning sickness can, of course, start before you know you are pregnant, almost as soon as conception has occurred. It may be what alerts you to the fact that you have conceived.These early pregnancy symptoms can be quite distressing especially if you are still reeling from the discovery that you are pregnant. Where there are mixed feelings about the pregnancy and thoughts of possible termination, this can be intensely distressing as the sickness brings a constant reminder of the reality of the pregnancy.

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The onset of morning sickness can be very sudden. It is not unusual to go to bed wondering why you don’t feel any different yet and to wake up feeling like you’ve been hit by a bus. All manner of symptoms, physical and emotional, can occur in early pregnancy and are explained by the umbrella term ‘morning sickness’. The list below features a range of experiences women report:TirednessTiredness/exhaustion: the tiredness of early pregnancy can be worse than the sleepless nights after the baby is born. Women may find themselves wanting to sleep much longer or more often than usual and yet sleeping may have little impact on the feelings of tiredness and lethargy. It’s not unusual to spend a whole day in bed and still feel tired! This can be very disabling and the early weeks of pregnancy can seem unending. You may begin to worry: how will I cope with a baby if I can’t cope with feeling tired now? Fortunately this malaise does lift as the pregnancy progresses.NauseaNausea and vomiting: along with tiredness, the persistent sickness that some women experience can be the most debilitating part of pregnancy. It can affect all aspects of your life, making carrying on with everyday life almost impossible. Despite its debilitating effects it is only in extreme circumstances that vomiting leads to medical intervention or hospitalization. There is in fact little that can be done to stop vomiting in pregnancy and most women simply try to endure it and adapt their lives as much as possible, hoping that the symptom will soon pass.Food CravingsStrange tastes, going ‘off’ foods or cravings. Many women report a metallic taste in their mouths. Classically women reject certain foods or develop preoccupations with particular foods. There may be good adaptive reasons why women ‘crave’ certain foods, perhaps their bodies are identifying their nutritional needs. However, the preoccupation often with one item makes this seem unlikely. In extreme cases non-food items such as coal have been the object of cravings, which would be hard to explain in physiological terms.

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HeadachesHeadaches, general aches and pains.Mood SwingsTearfulness, angry outbursts, anxiety symptoms. Nevertheless at the time these feelings can be confusing for both parents-to-be especially in a planned and wanted pregnancy.Remember to take care of yourself even before becoming pregnant. Avoid drinking and quit smoking. Eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. Besides the above mentioned 5 early pregnancy signs try to learn as much as you can because only with proper knowledge you can assure a healthy pregnancy thus a healthy baby.

Pregnancy Facts And Fallacies – Making Sure You Act On The Right Information

Don’t worry – I’m not going to fill anyone’s head with frightening pregnancy facts that could over-shadow what is one of the truly wonderful times in most women’s lives.But it’s natural to be apprehensive maybe, even if it’s not your first pregnancy. And it can be easy to get confused by all the myths associated with pregnancy – facts and fallacies soon become intermingled, making it difficult to know what is going to be best for your babyOK, pregnancy can be tinged with fear of the unknown even, if it’s your first pregnancy, but for most women the excitement and anticipation of coming face to face with a little baby who is going to be the most wonderful and important little person you’ve ever met in your life so far (and that includes your partner!) is always going to outweigh any temporary issues you may have.So, what I’d like to do is to put a few pregnancy facts and figures in front of you that are meant to reassure in some cases and to act as gentle warnings in others.

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Once you know the facts, it’s amazingly simple to relax and just get into a routine of doing the ‘right’ things and avoiding doing the ‘wrong’ things.But hardly anything can be worse than suddenly realising, maybe too late on in your pregnancy, that smoking for example doesn’t only harm you but also can seriously harm your precious unborn baby. Unfortunately, you don’t have to be a smoker yourself to suffer from cigarette smoke! Passive smoking can be just as bad for you and your baby.This is one of the inescapable pregnancy facts that I really must stress!Whilst I’m not medically qualified, I am a trained scientist and I can evaluate research findings with an experienced eye. I can therefore say that there is no doubting the research which has gone into smoking and health in recent decades.So I can most definitely say that one of the most potentially disturbing pregnancy facts for smokers is that giving up smoking before you even become pregnant is essential!OK, I know it’s difficult – I went through the bad times of giving up many times myself but in the end I managed it.However, I genuinely think it would have been easier for me personally if we’d been planning on starting a family because I’m sure we’re all going to think much more about our baby’s wellbeing than our own.Anyway, hopefully I’ve made my point so let’s move on to some less heavy pregnancy facts!How about taking sufficient rest and avoiding stress? Sounds good to me, but giving up smoking can be pretty stressful so if you’re planning to become pregnant, the sooner you start the better so you can have lots of lovely stress-free rest!One aspect of pregnancy that particularly appeals to me is eating healthy high fibre foods including plenty of vegetables and fruits and taking low-fat milk, yogurt and other dairy produce in moderation but sufficient to keep your calcium levels good!

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On the subject of food, one of the real problems is that it can be difficult to distinguish pregnancy facts from fallacies as the situation is so often surrounded with superstition or misconceptions (no puns intended!).Like, the ‘wise’ old saying “you’re eating for two now”.This could hardly be worse advice in our modern society where many of us (me included) are eating at least partly for someone else already.It is without doubt that one of the most important pregnancy facts is that overeating is not only bad for you, but also for your baby.In fact, research data released only this year (2011) has shown that obesity in pregnancy can lead to the baby’s DNA becoming altered so that he or she becomes much more prone to being obese in later life.However, it is not only inevitable that you gain weight during your pregnancy but it is also essential to do so in a controlled and well-informed way.

Can You Reuse A Digital or Home Pregnancy Test?

Can you reuse a pregnancy test is a question many women, surprisingly, ask. Perhaps the test you used this morning didn’t give you the answer you wanted. Perhaps you’re asking this question because you think you used a pregnancy test incorrectly and did not receive the correct result because of your mistakes. There are an infinite number of reasons a woman might ask if you can reuse a test, but the answer is always the same.Will A Used Pregnancy Test Work?In short, the answer is no. A used test will not work at any time, even if the result on the test is negative. Pregnancy tests are very specific and very scientific, even if they seem like nothing more than a stick that ends up covered in your urine responsible for your tears of either heartbreak or happiness.Pregnancy tests are used to detect the pregnancy hormone that is present in your urine when you become pregnant. How does it do this? It does this with the absorbent tip on the end of your test. You might not think this small part of your test is all that important, but it is. This small part is actually more than a piece of test on which you urinate. It’s medically designed so that it can detect a very specific chemical in your urine. If that chemical is present, then you are pregnant. There are test strips and chemicals inside every test designed to look for this pregnancy hormone. For this reason, you cannot use a test a second time. Once it’s been used, the chemicals have been compromised and the chances of your test working a second time are not good.

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Can You Reuse A Home Pregnancy Test?
No, you cannot reuse a home pregnancy test. Once it has been used one time it is no longer capable of detecting pregnancy hormones in your urine. Those little lines you look for in hopes of seeing a second one appear are equipped with dye that changes color when it is met with the pregnancy hormone. If you are not pregnant and you use that test, you might think that you can reuse it because the dye was not used.However, even though the dye was not used does not make this a test worth using again. This is an invalid test you should immediately discard. One of the main reasons for this is something called an evaporation line. Once you use a test, the lines are only valid for a short period of time. After this time, the urine inside the test and on top of the lines begins to evaporate. This leads to evaporation lines. These are lines that show the shadow of the actual test strip because it’s been contaminated with urine. By reusing a home test, you might actually cause evaporation lines to appear darker, which can be easily mistaken for a positive pregnancy test result.Can You Reuse A Digital Pregnancy Test?Much like any other test, you cannot reuse a digital test. There are so many reasons why you cannot. For one, it is highly unsanitary to play with a used pregnancy test that is covered in urine. It’s filthy. Secondly, the test is now invalid. And invalid test, no matter for which reason it is considered invalid, is not going to provide you with an accurate pregnancy result.Invalid digital tests are not going to provide you with an answer. Once the dye in the test is met with urine and the digital test says that you are not pregnant, the “not” in front of pregnant is not going to disappear. Using the test a second time, even if you do have enough of the pregnancy hormone in your urine to detect on the test, is not going to magically make the not in front of pregnant disappear. It’s simply an invalid test.What you can do with a used digital pregnancy test, however, is get rid of it immediately after you use it and see the results. You no longer need it. There is no reason to hold onto a test like this in hopes that you will get a different result later. Even if you are pregnant enough to detect at a later date, it’s not going to show up on this particular test. Throw it away and buy a new pregnancy test.All Pregnancy Tests Can Only Be Used OnceThere’s a lot you might not know about home tests. They seem like sticks that you urinate on. That can’t be overly important, can it? How can something you use the restroom on be important? Well, it is. There are chemicals and scientifically designed traits in each pregnancy test that are used to detect pregnancy using the hCG levels in a woman’s urine. When those levels are high enough to detect, a test will issue a positive result. When they are not high enough to detect or they simply are not there, no test will detect them.

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Despite seeming like simple objects, pregnancy tests are complicated. They will not work a second time. Once they have been exposed to your urine, they no longer possess the chemical needed to react to the hCG in your urine. If your test can’t detect it, it won’t appear.If you want to take another pregnancy test, consider simply buying a new one. If you want to reuse a test because you’ve already taken so many and spent so much money on them, head to your nearest pregnancy resource center or health department. They will issue a test free of charge. It’s a brand new test that’s never been used. You can count on those results. Just remember, pregnancy tests are only 99 percent accurate when you use them on or after the first day of your missed period. Otherwise, they are less accurate based on the fact that hCG levels in all women’s bodies are uniquely different. Can you reuse a pregnancy test? No, you cannot reuse a pregnancy test.

Mid-Life Pregnancy – Mother Over 40, Delight Or Doom?

What do Geena Davis, Marcia Cross and Mariska Hargitay have in common? Well, besides being television stars, all three became first-time mothers after the age of 40. Mention a woman is pregnant and see people beam. Include the detail that she’s above forty and watch the same beaming people frown and shake their heads. What is it about being over forty and pregnant that brings out such reactions in people?By being a mom over 40, you are taking a risk. But so are you if you decide to go skydiving or parachute-jumping. There are risks in everything. From something as simple as crossing a road, risks are involved. However, doctors are always warning against ‘older motherhood’. What are these risks? Here is a list which features a collaboration of the many and usual health scares that warn against becoming a mother too late.Pregnant moms will have an increased risk of getting high blood pressure and gestational diabetes.Birth defects in the child – Down syndrome usually takes the lead here. A combination of mental retardation and physical abnormalities that are caused by the presence of an extra chromosome. Women usually have a 1-in-100 chance at age 40 and a 1-in-30 chance of having a child born with Down syndrome.

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Miscarriage – 25% risk for women at 40Placenta Previa – This causes extreme bleeding during delivery.Foetal Distress – Increases if this is a woman’s first labour.Low Birth Weight – A preterm birth (less than 37 weeks of pregnancy) can be reduced by not smoking during pregnancyCaesarean Birth – Usually a C-section will be advised when a woman is 40 and over.Moment of fearAlright don’t despair just ’cause you read that and already are pregnant and over 40. Sure complications may arise due to age. But think about it. Complications could also arise from the habit of smoking you had as an impulsive teenager or when you were in your twenties, drowning your weekends in flavoured martinis. Age certainly is a component in the production of a healthy baby; however, it is not the main determining factor. Many people over 40, all over the world, have given birth to babies, regardless of whether it’s their first or second or third (think: Jane Seymour, Emma Thompson, Susan Sarandon). How did they do it and continue to? You have to do your part to improve your pregnancy. Quell your fears with these tips!Get a good amount of exercise before, during and after your pregnancy. Consult your doctor on what type of exercise you can do during the different terms of your pregnancy.Follow a healthy diet. It’s good for you and your baby.Optimal prenatal care – Ladies, I can’t stress enough on the importance of this.What about after the kid has been born? Mid-life crisis VS Parenting duties?Come on ladies. Having a child is an indication by itself, regardless of age, that you have reached mid-life and a crisis will soon happen, isn’t it. We kid, we kid (no pun intended).But what is the real problem here? Creaking knees and popping ankles sounding off as you chase after your little one? Mid-life Mom, those problems pop up all the time due to lack of exercise. Think of the positive issues involved with you being an ‘older’ mom.

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Goodbye isolation – While most of your friends are having long-distance chats with their kids or wondering how university life is going for their children, you are having fun discovering new things with your itty bitty baby.Career’s made – Most young mothers would be busy juggling career and baby but you…you’ve already made your career mark!Wisdom – With age, come wisdom (we hope!) so wiser decisions regarding you, your child and your family may be made.Being a mother is a blessing. Being a mother at an older age is an even bigger blessing. Don’t let the worries and concerns shadow the most beautiful time of parenthood. Take it in stride and who knows, pretty soon you might out beat the younger moms and be the ‘cool mom’ on the block!