Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"Beauty" and Melanoma: Only Skin Deep

This is your square friend Joy here, reminding you that when someone says, "Wow, you look really tan," the proper response is not, "Thanks, you look great, too." (Unless that's how you would respond if someone said, "Wow, your skin looks irreversibly damaged on account of either your vanity or carelessness.")

You would think that tanning would be as out of fashion as smoking by now (actually, in the real fashion world, it's completely out of vogue), but I still hear things like,
"I don't need sunscreen because my skin doesn't burn."

"Storing up my Vitamin D for the winter!"

"My shrink suggested that I try a tanning bed for my SADS."

(And my personal favorite)

"I'm going on vacation in a couple weeks, so I'm getting a base tan. To be safe."

- Everyone needs SPF 15 or higher with UVA/UVB protection whenever he or she goes into the sun (even if it's winter or a cloudy summer day), regardless of race, skin type or skin tone.

- Vitamin D: Get it before 10 am. Otherwise it's like drinking a 1,500 calorie shake for the calcium.

- Your shrink is not a dermatologist.

- There is no such thing as a safe base tan, regardless of what the girl at the tanning salon (who is, interestingly enough, also not a dermatologist) says. Tan skin is damaged skin, even if it's in preparation for a vacation somewhere where "the sun is different than it is here." When you go on vacation, you should be applying sunscreen every two hours, staying out of the sun during the hottest part of the day, and wearing thin, long sleeve shirts and a hat when the sun is unavoidable.
We all know why, right? 1 in 5 Americans... most preventable kind of cancer... melanoma, squamous cell... basal cell... this 32 year old woman. Okay. I thought so. Just making sure. Renew your committment to protect your health and preserve your beautiful skin! Suntans are not a cute way to express your cool retro style.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Home Plate Advantage

The sheer volume of decisions that you have to make before you have a baby is on par with planning a wedding. Wedding planning is simply making decision after decision, day after day, until suddenly you're naked in a hotel room wondering what you've gotten yourself into.

Right now I'm baby planning. Thankfully I have nine months instead of the five short months of my engagement, but the decisions feel a little more weighty. I could probably list 65 decisions that I've made in the last five weeks, some of them without a second thought, but many of them in consultation with my mother, a friend, and at least three reference books.
One of the decisions that I'll have to make soon is whether I want to give birth in a hospital or at home. I met with both the home birth and the hospital-based midwife last week; I liked both of them, and I don't feel any closer to making the decision. It feels like it should be obvious, but I don't think I've been quiet for long enough to know what I really want.

My mom had two babies in the hospital and three at home, and I attended the final two. I remember them feeling so natural and comfortable. With the last one, my mom made blueberry pie ahead of time, which she set it out with whip cream after the contractions started. I remember checking in on my mom, eating some pie with my dad in the kitchen, reading my novel in the living room, watching Isaiah emerge into the world, and then eating some more pie. The midwives were there the whole time, but everything seemed to go according to my mom's timetable. No one told her what to do or when to do it; she just disappeared into another world inside herself and had a baby.

I liked the whole experience, but I always assumed that I would have my babies in hospitals. I admired my mother's hippie, granola ways, but back then I also found them odd. Well, I still think she's a tad odd. Not only did my mom have her babies at home... she wants us to host her wake at home. "Everyone goes other places to do everything," she lamented to me once. "They go someplace else to eat dinner, they go someplace else to worship, they go someplace else to have babies, they go someplace else to be dead in a room. When I die, just put my casket on the kitchen table and invite people over." My mom is by no means a hermit--she just thinks your home should be where you live, not a place for you crash after you do your living somewhere else.

So that's my mom, and maybe it's me too, minus the notion of my casket on the kitchen table. I think I've come to terms with all of the really important things to consider with home births and hospital births, and as I quiet myself to figure out what I really want, I'm left to consider these items on each pro list:

- If I have the baby at the hospital, I'll get to press a little button when I need something.

- If I have the baby at home, there will be pie.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Stirrups and Sonograms

Today Pete saw more of me than I have ever seen of myself. Today Pete watched me get a Pap Smear. I knew he would. I knew there was no way he was going to stand by my head or blur his eyes and make nervous conversation. I told him exactly what was going to happen while we were waiting for the midwife.

"Guess where this metal beak looking thing goes," I challenged him, raising one eyebrow. Pete rolled his eyes. "It's pretty obvious where that goes."

"Well, I bet you don't know what that does," I said, pointing to a large machine-type object. "What does that do?" Pete asked solemnly. I readjusted myself on the butcher paper and smoothed out my gown. "Oh, oh you just wait." I had no idea what that did.

Amy came in and introduced herself; we chatted for about twenty minutes before she put the gloves on. I told her that Pete has a curious nature, and she offered to give him a front row show.

"See that?" I heard her say to Pete after the metal thing went where it obviously goes. "That's the cervix. That's what's going to dilate to ten centimeters." She made a wide gesture and I said, "Really? That big?" She looked at her hands and said, "Well, no, more like this," and shortened her hands to indicate a space that looked wide enough for a Grade A jumbo egg to fit through.
Pete's head disappeared for a moment. "That's it, right there?" He had no idea what he was looking at, I'm sure. As soon as the exam was over Amy said, "Now I'm just going to feel around a little..." and suddenly her gloved hand was up there. Up, up, up there. "Yeah, I'd say that's about a ten week uterus," she said. Pete swallowed. It echoed.

Amy finished and left the room and I got dressed. "What did you think?" I asked Pete. He nodded a few times. "Fascinating," he said. "It was something." His eyes were a little wider than normal and he didn't seem to be blinking.

A few minutes later we followed Amy to a larger room with dim lighting and impressive machinery. Amy hadn't been able to find the heartbeat with the Doppler, so she wanted to get a quick peek with the sonogram. She put some jelly on my tummy, pressed something cold against my skin; my heart flickered with the screen. There was my baby's head resting in a cradle of shadows; there were my baby's arms and legs flailing in liquid, computerized motion. "I see it!" Pete said, marveling at its head and appendages. I tried to hold still, but every time the little bean on the screen waved, I giggled. "It's a beautiful baby," Amy said, satisfied with the heartbeat and the measurements.

I forgot all of my reservations about high frequency waves--I wished that I could just sit there with my beautiful baby all evening, waving and giggling. I see you, I told the baby through telepathic powers that I've developed over the last ten weeks. You don't know it, but I see you, and even before I saw you, I loved you.

"Okay, I'm convinced," Pete said proudly, and the screen went dark.

(This is just a stock picture--I haven't scanned mine yet. Picture something like this, only 100x cuter.)