Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Nursing Bathing Suit

The pool opened this weekend and when I went to try on my bathing suit, it was seriously lacking in coverage and support. There will be no bikinis this summer, either. I went online to look for a nursing swimsuit. Horrors! The choices are very limited.

There are the super matronly floral mom-suits:

Then the mostly black, shapeless, sporty mom suits:

This one manages to be both girlie and matronly at the same time:

They had some that were too maternity looking. I can't get the image to copy, but trust me.

This one, was o.k., but a little too sporty for my taste and not very forgiving on the tummy:

Finally, I found this one and this is what I ordered:

This suit has a little style/shape and looks like some coverage and hopefully some support and is the right price. But, can this really be the best there is?

There is definitely an empty niche in the market. The other thing is that it is often hard to find a size small. I ordered a suit from Motherwear in medium (the smallest size) and it was more flattering than it looks, but the colors were a bit too bright and it was too big so I passed it onto a slightly bustier friend who could fill it out better. At least I got it on summer clearance so I didn't pay that much for it. But, I am trying to make better purchases now.

I supposed I don't really need a dedicated nursing suit, but most bathing suits either don't have enough support or have underwire. They seem to either have zero butt coverage or too much so that it is saggy or matronly.
Just have to hope my swimsuit gets here soon. My order was placed almost 6 weeks ago. Very annoying. I need that California Baby Sunscreen!

Equal Exchange Fundraiser

I hate fundraising. I would much rather write a check than ask friends, family, acquaintances and strangers to buy crap they don't need. However, my mom just sent me my order for Ian's last Montessori fundraiser and the chocolate is truly delicious. Not only delicious, but fair-trade and organic through Equal Exchange. They also sell coffee, tea and more. The coffee was good, but the chocolate was stellar!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Capturing the Elusive Smile

Eva smiles, but when I get out the camera, I get looks like this:

Or this:

Or this:

And then when I get close, the camera slips like this:

And finally, I catch it:

Monday, May 25, 2009

Time for a Serious Purge

Moving is always a good time to purge, no sense in moving stuff you don't need. I went to look for a bathing suit in my things and found a whole lot of clothes that I had forgotten about. Most don't fit now and most of those I haven't worn in years anyway. Time to admit a few things:

1. The nursing clothing I got on clearance for "great deals" does not fit. Time to pass it on. It is never going to fit, but could be very useful to someone else.

2. I cannot wear underwire bras while I am nursing. In September, I will have been nursing for three years and I anticipate nursing until at least March of 2011. I hope to be pregnant with baby number three by then which would mean another two years of nursing. Who knows what size I will be at the end of all that? Many of the bras are from college when I was a bigger size than my current pre-pregnancy size.

3. Some of the clothing items are either dated or just never fit right. It is not going to change.

4. Other things are costume-type or special occasion things that I may keep, but need to keep separately so I can find my useful everyday items easier and find the specialty items on the rare occasion that I need them.

5. Some of the clothing is not wearable during nursing. I did just order a strapless nursing bra which could expand possibilities, but somethings just need to be relegated to my youth. Time to move on.

6. I have some business suits that were purchased when I thought I was going to law school 4 years ago. I thought I might have occasion to wear them, but I never did. Not once. I think I will let my sister (in med school) try them when she comes to visit and she can them if she wants. Otherwise: donation pile. If I ever go to law school or return to a business/school environment where suits are needed, I will need new suits since those will be too far out of date. Playgroups and yoga school, do not require business suits.

7. Sock and underwear: out with the old and in with the new! I will probably not report how many pairs I pitch (too embarrassing), but at least they are old and have been acquired over time.

Since I am going to try to start sewing Eva's clothes, I may keep some things to use for fabric, but if I don't use them within a year, I will pitch* those, too.

*Except for socks and underwear, I will donate or pass the rest of the clothing.

For my own knowledge, I will sort everything and count the number of pieces I have to get rid of. I may not be brave enough to share, but I think that will help me from making purchasing mistakes in the first place like:

1. Buying things that aren't quite right but are a really "great deal".

2. Failure to return: I hate dealing with returns so in the past I would convince myself that it would be alright and then never wear the item or be unhappy when I wore the item.

3. Waiting until the last minute to buy what I need and then having to get whatever was available even if it wasn't quite right.

Luckily, one of my mom-to-be friends is planning to have a "Naked Lady Party" this summer where everyone brings the things that aren't quite right. Anything that isn't taken by another guest is donated. Good deal.

Anyone else have this problem? Are you disgusted with yourself for over-consumption and STILL having "nothing" to wear?

Our Real Estate Agent Hates Us

That's how I felt after apartment/house hunting today. We saw one house that was perfect. It is in Hannam and the kitchen and bathrooms have been redone. They aren't as nice as the highrise apartment buildings, but they are nice enough. The floor plan is open enough for our things and the way we live. It is partially furnished which solves our lack of livingroom furniture issue and it is walking distance to several schools for Ian. The problem, the reason we can afford it, is that the garage is short. In fact, it is too short for our Hyundai Tucson. The guy owns the house above ours and we could park up there, but then it is a steep walk down through the top property to get to our property. Our 1991 Kia Pride (Curt's car) will fit in the garage, but I like my Hyundai. I don't want to drive the hooptie. I think we are going to have to wait. My friend Sarah, suggested a complex and when I asked the real estate agent she said,"Ah, yes. Very, very big. You cannot afford." We may end up looking in Sungbokdong or the dong next to it that begins with a P. It would be more of a trip for Curt, but we can get more space for less. There is also a new complex opening on the other side of the river that we will look at soon, so maybe that will be the answer.

We'll be in the next place for two years so we really need to make a good choice. All I want is lots of pyeong, open floor plan, place for my American large appliances, easy driving access, easy parking within the LQA. Is that too much to ask?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Yoga Teacher Training in Seoul

Magic Pond is gearing up for another Yoga Teacher Training Course. Details:
Teachers Course (Level 1) (2009-2)
Starting Date: Sunday, 23 August, 2010
Finishing Date: Sunday. 23 January, 2010
Day/time: Every Sunday, 2 Sessions
(Total of 40 Sessions, each 3 hours, totaling 120 hours)
- Morning Session : 10:00~13:00 (3 hours)
- Lunch break : 13:00~14:00 (1 hours)
- Afternoon Session : 14:00~17:00 (3 hours)
Contents: Exercises (Asanas), Energy control (Pranayama), Detachment, Concentration/Meditation
Fee: 1,090,000 won (10% V.A.T. included)
- Registration fee: 300,000 won to be paid at registration during/after open day or before 15 August, 2009))
- Remainder of 790,000 won to be paid in full before the start of the first class.
Application before: 15 August, 2009 (Sat)

Open day: at the Lotus Room
1st: Sunday, 28 June, 2009 from 14:00~15:30
2nd: Sunday, 9 August, 2009 from 14:00~15:30
Contact : E-mail( or
Phone 010-3689-1799(English), 02-798-1799(Korean)

Motivated student can be hired as a regular program instructor upon finishing the course.
Completion of Teachers course level I results in a 200 hour certificate which allows for international registration (200 hr IRYT = Internationally Registered Yoga Teacher). International Registration at IYF after verbal and written approval from Ron and is at the initiative and cost of the student. Registration is granted when student proves to understand the nature and goal of Yoga and shows to have undergone a transformation as a result of regular training and study. When after registration students repeatedly do not uphold the principles of Yoga or defile the science of Yoga in any way registration can and will be canceled.
Class will be taught in English. Study materials will be supplied before class.

Check out Magic Pond's website for more information on the course and style of yoga taught.

I think Sundays will work for me and since Eva will be almost 6 months old, it will be easier to leave her. Curt will be able to be there most of the time on Sundays which makes things easier on me than thinking of leaving her with someone else. Need to start practicing with the bottle again.

Basketball Hoop

We just bought a Little Tikes Basketball Hoop to give him something to do indoors on yellow sand and rainy days. He loves it! It adjusts up to 6 feet tall so it should last. It is not electronic and does not require batteries or make noise. It is just a simple hoop. Curt did have to tape the net on so it would stay, but it is pretty stable and Ian is having lots of fun.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Celebrate Blacktating's Blogiversary!

It's Elita's 1-year anniversary of running the Blacktating Blog and she's celebrating with a giveaway. Click here to congratulate her and enter to win.

Elita puts great breastfeeding news, product reviews and information that is relevant to all nursing mothers, but has a special focus to report issues that concern black women and to promote nursing in the black community. Here is a great post with images of athletes who were either breastfed by their mothers or breastfed their own babies.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hypnobabies/Hypnobirthing Alternative: Natural Birth Download

This site has free mp3's for birth relaxation and other issues: Birth Download
It has a downloadable hypnosis program for birth for a fee. The Psychology of Giving Birth Program. I did the Hypnobabies Home Study Course. Some of the tracks are available as downloads, but not all. If you are overseas in a country with unreliable mail service, the Psychology of Birth Program might be a good alternative for you. Again, I haven't tried the program. but it sounds like it is somewhere between Hypnobirthing and Hypnobabies.

Eva, the Easy Baby

Eva has been very easy so far. She sleeps a lot. She eats a lot. She doesn't ask for much, just to be held (while she sleeps) and to eat when she wants. I try to accommodate both these requests and am fairly successful except that she's been waking up in the car while we are on the way to the base. She has been smiling a lot more and even laughed in her sleep recently. She also loves to float in the bathtub with me and this weekend w ewill try out the pool. I tried her bathing suit and swim diaper on her the other day and they fit so she is ready. I am going to wear the Baby Bjorn in the pool to keep her secure and get some use out of it.

Potty Break Through!

Ian has been great with potty training. We've been following my strategy and it seems to be working. After mastering being out in public and staying dry, Ian stopped pooping in the potty and started pooping in his pants. He went to the hourly daycare center for 3 hours and pooped in his pants twice! Then, they finally put a Pull-Up on him (I don't use Pull-Ups) and when he got home, he pooped in the Pull-Up and said,"It's ok this is a diaper (the reason I don't use Pull-Ups)."

It was really hard not to react or bribe or threaten. It was frustrating because he pooped on the potty before he peed. As we went to the bathroom to clean up he would laugh and say,"I'm not supposed to poop in my underwear, I 'm supposed to poop on the potty."

All I said was,"You will just keep practicing and you will get it."

When he asks about going to school, I say,"You have to be able to go on the potty before you go to school. We'll keep practicing and you will get it."

That way it is his choice with no pressure. I don't hang it over his head. He needs to have control over his body. I can't ask him if he wants to go or just take him to the potty because he will refuse. I deal with getting him to go by incorporating potty time into our routines: first thing you do when you get up, last thing you do before bed, last thing you do before you leave the house, first thing you do when you get to your destination. He likes knowing what he is supposed to do and if I give a reason for the potty time and go myself, he doesn't feel controlled or pressured. The rest of the time, I try to wait for him to say he has to go unless I see a pee pee dance happening. It is hard not to keep asking, but I really try to restrain myself and if he says he doesn't have to go, I don't force him to out of the routine times.

So, I am surviving potty training quite well. Almost makes me want to explore Elimination Communication. I've always said that it isn't for me and I still don't think I'd want to do it full time, but it might work well for Eva because she seems to be bothered by being wet or dirty. Ian never cared. My friend, Caroline, is pregnant with her first and planning on doing it.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Breech Delivery in Korea & VBAC in Korea

Though mainstream Korean obstetrics is EXTREMELY CONSERVATIVE, with an over 40% c-section rate, there are pockets of natural birthing practitioners. Midwives will do breech and VBAC deliveries. They often deliver at home and may not speak much English, but if you have a Korean speaking doula you can overcome that. Also at Women's hospitals, they are much more natural childbirth friendly.The wome's hospitals will do External Cephaliv Versions as well to try to get the baby from breech to vertex if you want to try that as well. If you are doing a breech or VBAC birth, this is a good option because they will have the emergency c-section option available in case things start to go wrong. Again, the English communication maybe limited, but there are several doulas around who speak both English and Korean.

Doula/childbirth educator, Lisa Fincaryk, is still building her Birthing in Korea website, but if you have questions or want contacts, e-mailing her at birthinginkorea at gmail dot com and she will help you research your options.

You have choices, even in Korea.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

English Language Radio in Seoul and English Language Radio in Korea

There are three English language radio stations in Korea that I know about: AFN (AM and FM) and TBS-EFM. There may be more, but these are the ones I've found.

AFN is American Forces Network. They operate television stations as well, but those are only available to US SOFA status personnel with a decoder. The radio can be received by anyone. From the website:

We only have one FM and one AM channel (unless you lease DTH). We attempt to program for the majority of our audience. Most of the music broadcast features a mix of current hits, classic rock, Top 40, urban and rock music. Our AM channel features news, sports, talk, oldies, and country music.

Location AM FM

Chinhae (Chinhae Naval Base) 1512 88.5
Daegu (USAG Walker) 1080 88.5
Dongducheon (USAG Casey) 1197 88.3
Gunsan (Kunsan Air Base) 1440 88.5
Gwangju (Gwangju Air Base) None 88.5
Pohang (Camp Mujuk) 1512 None
Pyongtaek (USAG Humphrey) 1440 88.3
Seoul (USAG Yongsan) 1530 102.7
Songtan (Osan Air Base) 1359 88.5
Uijongbu (USAG Red Cloud) 1161 88.5
Waegwan (USAG Carroll) 1080 88.5
Wonju (USAG Long) 1440 88.3

TBS EFM 101.3 This radio station is fairly new and plays lots of requests from both Western music and Korean music. It has lots of great information for the expat. Segments such as how the buses work to current festivals. Today, they talked about a dating services that targets expats. Sarah and Sejin did a quiz on this radio station. So check them out.

Birthing in Korea Website

Doula/Childbirth Educator, Lisa Fincaryk, has a website called Birthing in Korea. She is still building the site, but it is already a great resource for anything childbirth-related in Seoul and surrounding areas. If you have anything to add, please let Lisa know.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


The Expat Moms Club Korea has 48 members with several more set to join.

You just need one friend to make living in another country fun. One friend to go for coffee with or to lunch. One person who calls you besides your husband. This group has given that by being a source of online support and connecting people to others near them. I am so proud that we've helped women find natural childbirth friendly providers and hospitals, including the options to have a doula and homebirth. I am proud that we have introduced women to the ideas of Hypnobirthing/Hypnobabies which show that labor can be beautiful and peaceful. We've given pregnancy, parenting, and breastfeeding support to each other. We given "living-in-Korea" support to each other.

My next goal for this group is to gather the information that we have pieced together and put it in a document and distribute it to groups like the American Women's Club, The Seoul International Womens Association and The Armed Forces Spouses Club so that pregnant expats don't have to struggle to find options and support.

Thanks, moms!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Birth Centers in Seoul

***********Updated from original post. I've been informed that some of these birth centers are no longer operating. For a more current list, go to doula/childbirth educator, Lisa Fincaryk's blog, Birthing in Korea.

If you've birthed at any of these birth centers, please leave additional comments/info/recommendations in the comment section. Thanks to Rachel B. for gathering this together:

View Larger Map

Hey guys,

I checked out the birth center in Bucheon that Sarah posted about and met the head midwife there. Actually, she does understand and speak a bit of English (maybe not enough for everyone's comfort level but thats for each to decide). That got me thinking that probably many Korean midwives speak at least some English, like many Korean doctors and dentists do. Since I know what 'birth center' is in Korean now, 조산원, I went ahead and found this google map showing 10 locations in the Seoul area. If you follow the link, you'll see a list of the birth centers with their contact information, too. Hopefully, we can collect more info about these places as interested people check them out . . .

Friday, May 8, 2009

Eva & Grace Hanging Out

Grace at 4 months and Eva at 2 months. They are just over two months apart.

New Furniture

When we were in Egypt, the US Embassy provided all furniture. Here, we are under the Army and they don't. You get loaner furniture for 90 days, until your shipment comes. Many people told me that they had government furniture for years, that you could keep it as long as you want it. Well, we finally got the request to return it a few months ago. We got an official extension because we were in the States and/or traveling. We have beds, Egyptian end tables, exercise equipment and a large, blue recliner (an unauthorized purchase by C) that belong to us, but no dining or living room furniture. We've been looking, but the things they have on post are uninspiring as are what you can order from the catalog. What we've seen off post, is small. Mostly 4 person tables. I found a nice teak table in an antique store (it wasn't an antique) but it was just too much money. They wanted $2000 for the table and more for the chairs.

Finally, we found two tables on post at the gift shop. The gift shop imports things from all over Asia. The big dining table came with 6 chairs and is mango wood, a sustainable hardwood. It has a built-in leaf. It is sturdy and the design is simple, but with just enough style. It will be easy to find additional chairs to match if we want to in the future.

The other table came with two benches and has a carved top covered in glass. We have it in the kitchen right now, but we could use it for other purposes like a fun computer work station for both of us at once. We'll have to see how our new place is laid out.

Next, we need to find livingroom furniture. The furniture store on post has big, bulky couches. Anything remotely plain either has ultrasuede fabric (which I hate because of the constant butt prints)*, loose pillow backs (they look like crap after a few months of use) or weird colors. Off post, we found lots of low, leather sectionals in black or brown and extremely weird, loud or dated printed fabric couches. Of these options, I think we will look to buy low, leather off post.

*This fabric is always touted as "great for families" because it is so durable and you can just brush out the lines. Well, you have to CONSTANTLY brush out the butt and ball prints that are left on the couch every time someone sits on them. I can't stand this fabric.

Pyeong Envy

Just got back from seeing places with the real estate agent and I have pyeong envy (for myself in my current place!). I didn't realize how big my place was compared to most others. We decided to look in Hannam because it is a good place for foreigners and close to the base, but we can't afford the big, modern places in Hannam. Inside, the places were nice, but something was missing. What? At least 20 pyeong. Other problematic things: roads are very narrow and hard to get to the place; garage entrance was short for our car (Hyundai Tuscan); 3rd floor with no elevator; no vent for American dryer; no room for American refrigerator; many small rooms instead of open floor plan. We have a good housing allowance, but not as high as the foreigners who are here with corporations.

We did see one place that was two levels. The elevator was bity and the layout was a bit odd, but we could have made the second floor the master bedroom, exercise room and storage. We need room for a king-sized bed, two night tables and a crib in our master. The second floor would fit. But, the bathrooms and kitchen aren't the greatest.

I hope we can just stay in our current complex.

There are other areas to look in as were suggested in the comments. Just overwhelming to think about.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

My Exercise Plan

I am one of the lucky women who can get rid of all pregnancy weight by nursing alone. I don't even have to watch what I eat. I generally don't snack a lot, but I do eat big portions. but your abs never really get back to the way they were and I want to be healthier so I am going to exercise this time.

My feet are killing me because they are readjusting to being barefoot on marble and wood floors. Also, I think I was injured during a vigorous massage after a manicure and pedicure that I got with friend, M, right before she left Seoul to get treatment for breast cancer. If those aren't the causes, I may have sever sudden onset arthritis. Anyway, due to that, I am going to wait on the treadmill and instead, start with Bounce Back Fast! Post Natal Core Conditioning with Helene Byrne. I did this dvd after Ian, but not many times. It is slow and exact, not my style, but necessary. I am going to try to do this dvd for 30 days and re-evaluate. I do have abdominal separation so it is important to correct that in the proper way to avoid bulging belly.

Then, I will add in post-natal exercise dvds and treadmill and finally the regular workout dvds that I have. It is easier to get into Hourly Care at the CDC in the summer because people are transitioning, but I can't put Eva in there because they don't have an Infant Hourly Care room right now. I don't want to leave her with anyone other than family (over here that means Curt) until she is older. With Curt's schedule, it is hard to coordinate going to classes, so if I want to exercise, that means dvds and the treadmill in our house.

I will give progress updates. I am more confident in my ability to exercise consistently now because I was able to do it for a good portion of my pregnancy.

My Puppy Girl in Georgia

Highrise living in a dog un-friendly country was not going well so I took Roxxy to live with my sister and her dog (Roxxy's nephew) in Georgia before I came back to Korea. Roxxy has a big yard to play in as well as a friend to play with and my sister looks cool walking two boxers through the neighborhood. The neighbors have dogs. There are dog parks in the city and the yard is huge.

Beyond the coolness factor, my sister is in medical school and Roxxy helps keep her dog, Teddy, entertained and exercised. The dogs were already bonded to each other from the time they spent together over holidays at my parents' house. This is good because there may come a point in my sister's education/career when we have to take both dogs.

She just sent pictures today to show how happy the dogs are together.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Before and After: Part III

Right after Eva was born, the only "after" I focused on was the baby. But, the baby haze is lifting and reality is setting in:

Before, Beautiful Belly:

After, Beautiful Baby &:

Saggy Belly:

Time to start exercising. Maybe tomorrow...

Maternity photos by Colleen Rhodes Photography in Erie, PA.

Doula in Dongducheon

For those of you in or around Dongducheon:

Amy Fuller
DONA trained birth doula

She lives in Dongducheon (an hour and a half north of Seoul) and will generally travel (by train) up to two hours. She is a military spouse so she has base access but has doula'd in and is comfortable with the Korean hospitals. She is also training as a childbirth educator with Lamaze.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Official Start of Potty Training

Last week, we officially started potty training. We started talking about the potty last year by pointing out when we used the potty and telling him that he would use the potty someday and could try to go on the potty whenever he wanted to go. We bought the Boon Potty Bench last summer and he liked to sit on it, but didn't really do much. After some random acts of potty that were far apart, he went on the potty twice after seeing another little girl do it at two playdates. Since he was 2.5 and the baby was born and he was showing signs of readiness, I took the next step of buying underwear. We didn't start seriously training at that point because we were going to be traveling back to Korea, but he did go on the potty a few times. In the week before we left, we talked about how he was going to wear underwear when we returned to Korea. Then, we started.

He got up in the morning and instead of changing his diaper, I took him to a drawer in the bathroom to pick out underwear. I explained that he was going to practice wearing underwear and going on the potty. We set up the Boon Potty Bench in the livingroom and put the padded potty seat in one of the bathrooms so he could chose where he wanted to go.

Before we left Erie, the Montessori teachers sent home a potty training guide. We are following a lot of the advice such as having the child help clean up accidents and being calm about the process. We are using diapers for naps, at night and when we go out. That is against the advice of the teachers who say that switching sends the message that diapers are more convenient. Well, diapers are more convenient. Ian is doing great when he is in underwear or naked, but he is having accidents in pants. We went out the first day of training and he had peed his pants before we hit the corner. I told him that this week, we are practicing at home and next week, we will wear underwear out. Yesterday, he wore his shorts for about 20 minutes until I put a diaper on. He is getting it. Next week, I will bring lots of underwear and shorts with us and deal with accidents out.

Here are some things that are working with Ian:

1. He has control. I do not ask him if he needs to go unless he is standing funny, etc. Even, then, I am trying to resist. He does much better when he is in control. If you nag about the potty, it might turn into a power struggle and take longer.

2. He helps clean up the messes to help promote the idea that he is responsible for his bodily functions. He enjoys cleaning, so I let him clean out the pot when he goes successfully as well.

3. At home, in this early practice, I let him choose his underwear or choose to go naked. Sometimes he wants to change his underwear when it is still clean. My adult instinct is to say,"No. It is still clean." But, this is an example of a time when I feel I need say "yes" instead. If I say "no", I will have a battle. If I say, "yes" and put those underwear back in the drawer and let him change, he is still in underwear, which is what I want. The novelty will wear off if I don't make a big deal out of it.

4. I have a the Potty Bench in the livingroom and a padded potty seat in the bathroom. It gives him variety and having the potty in the livingroom keeps it in his mind. I will eventually move the potty bench into the bathroom as well, but for the first few weeks, I think it is good to have it out in full view.

5. I don't reward or punish for potty success/failure. Many methods involve giving small candies like M&Ms or stickers on a chart, etc. That works for some people, but I wanted a more child-led method. He needs to do it to take care of his body, not for a treat. I did give reward incentives a few times, but then I stopped because it was counter to what I was trying to accomplish. As for punishing failures, that is the old school way and you may be advised to do that, but you'll just be creating more problems in the long run. You might think,"he knows what to do,", but little kids get distracted and have accidents. If he has an accident we talk about the need to do it on the potty and then we clean up. I don't get hysterical, we just take care of business.

Knock on wood, but this is pretty easy so far. Not perfect, not accident-free, but not painful and actually, fun! Like everything in parenting, I have found that you can either fight nature and/or your child, or ride the wave and try to steer a bit. It is so much easier on both parent and child, if you do the latter.

Update, next week, when we venture out with underwear.....

Eva is 2 Months Old


Eva turned two months old today. Her favorite hobbies remain sleeping (while being held or, recently, in a swing) and eating. She is awake more now and seems to enjoy music and listening to stories. (Ian did not like to be read to until he was almost 2). She is very strong and likes to stand. She has rolled over from her back to her stomach a few times (the first time was when she was about 2 days old), but doesn't do it a lot. During tummy time, she scooches forward. She made it about 6 inches the other day. She doesn't spit up much, but when she does, she projectile vomits in tidal wave fashion (usually on me or my things). I am enjoying this cuddly baby stage.

We had a coffee (and pretzel) date with L and her baby K at Tom & Tom in Itaewon. Ian was not very cooperative, but it was still fun for me. K is a very smiley baby and it was fun to see him in person for the first time. Eva slept through most of it. I did get a picture at the end. Ian was crying, L was laughing and K and Eva were looking at her. Unfortunately, my card got corrupted so I think the pictures are lost.

Afterwards, we had lunch with Curt. It is Children's Day in Korea, so most of the Koreans were off and he was the only one n the office. Eva slept through most of lunch as well.

Then, we went for Eva's two month check up: rude awakening! She got two shots today and she hurts. She has redness and swelling around one of the injection sites. I gave her a bit of Baby Tylenol and she is sleeping again. We are going to go for a 3 month shot-only visit to get 2 other vaccines. I wonder if I should have spaced things even more because the one shot was a combo vaccine and had several things in one. We don't have a family history of autism or bad reactions to vaccines, but I worry about these things. I had forgotten my Dr. Sears' Vaccine Book at home so I couldn't ask the brand, but when I got home, I realized that the shot she got had a lot of aluminum. Aluminum toxicity due to aluminum in ivs and injectable meds has been studied (mostly in premies), but it has not been studied in vaccines at the levels you get it with these combo shots. There is no evidence that it causes a problem (but maybe because it hasn't been studied), but I still worry. Now I feel especially bad because she is hurting. She was so upset she wouldn't nurse. That never happened to Ian.

Since we are overseas and will be traveling to China soon (hopefully in July) the risk of exposure to a lot of these things are a lot higher than in the US.

Everything else looked good. She has a preference for leaning her head to one side, but she can turn to the other side and the doctor felt her muscles and there was no evidence of torticollis. She was 5.2 kg (11 lbs 4 oz) and 22 inches.

Ian got to go to the playground after the doctor. He got very sweaty and had lots of fun. Eva slept through the playground. It wasn't until we got home that she cried and the swelling appeared in her leg. Poor baby.

*From Eva's newborn photoshoot taken by Brooke Bass. If you are in Erie, PA, check her out.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

May Carnival of Breastfeeding Submissions

Reposting Elita's post:

It's time for the May Carnival of Breastfeeding! This month's theme is "Share a story!" Please share with the Carnival readers any great stories you have related to breastfeeding. It can be about your overall breastfeeding experience or anything funny, sad or poignant that has happened during your nursing relationship with your little ones. Please send your submissions to blacktating at gmail dot com by May 18th. The Carnival will go live on May 25th. As always, we are looking for posts that are:

– Well-written and grammatically correct
– Thoughtful and directly on point for the carnival subject
– Submitted by blogs that pertain to subjects of interest to our readers (breastfeeding, parenting, etc.)

If your post is selected for inclusion, you will be asked on the day of the carnival to edit your post to link back to each of the other participants in the carnival. Examples of past carnivals can be found here.

Homebirth in Korea, Homebirth in Seoul, Homebirth in Bucheon, Homebirth in Incheon

Yes, there are homebirth options in Korea. I currently have contacts for an English-speaking homebirth OB in Seoul, an English-speaking midwife near Incheon and a non-English-speaking birth center in Bucheon that also does homebirths. Also, the OB in Seoul has contacts throughout the country, so if your area is not listed, contact him and ask.

If you know of anyone else, anywhere else, please leave a comment.

Dr. Chung. His clinic is in Gangnam and he will deliver at SoonChunHyung or your home. I've heard his homebirth fees are 3 million won, but you should double check that. I know several women currently with Dr. Chung and have heard of three women having great homebirths with him.

Ansan, 20 km South of Incheon (this section was written by one of the moms in the Expat Moms Club Korea who lives in Incheon and is using Rosa as her midwife:

Lisa (Canadian doula/childbirth educator) and Keunhae (English-speaking doula and childbirth educator and lactation consultant)explained that there ARE formally-educated midwives in Korea. In fact, they are often working as nurses in maternity wards. Keunhae said that she did know of a very experienced midwife with her own clinic to birth at and the midwife even assists breech births. However, Keunhae didn't usually mention her to foreigners because she doesn't speak English (but does speak Japanese) and her facility might be considered too Spartan (basically "a room and a stool"). My husband was weary and still skeptical, to say the least, that midwife colleges even exist.

Well, with some more web surfing, I found that to be a midwife in Korea, one must complete a 3-4 year nursing program and take an exam to become a registered nurse. After which, one must complete a one-year midwife training program offered at just a few hospitals. Then the student must pass a national exam and be licensed to be a midwife by the government.

Lisa said she had some contacts with midwives in hospitals and would check if they attend home births. In the mean time, she met a Korean midwife who has her own office in Ansan (20 km south of Incheon), speaks English and attends births in homes and her clinic. Here is her contact information:

Kim Okjin aka "Rosa" (all in Korean)
TEL 031-410-8597 HP 019-447-8231
Ansan, Danwon-gu, Gojan-dong 541-1
Dongseo Core 420 ho

So, I met Rosa at her clinic inside of an older shopping center a week ago. Her English is good enough for me but not very high. She spoke much more to my husband in Korean but partially because I wanted her to explain to him more about natural birth and reassure him of its normalcy.

I think that Rosa is humble about her position, too because she told my husband that if I birth a second child, he could be the midwife! While I may have the confidence of a newbie, Rosa says she has attended 7,000 births over her 25 years of practice, so I do value her attendance.

Her clinic is cozy and you take your shoes off as you come in. It includes a front room for office work, a home-like room for exams, sonograms and birthing, a toilet room and a room with a nice claw foot tub. I would be comfortable birthing there but since there doesn't appear to be any emergency medical setup I feel I might as well birth at home. The only medical intervention I would want, if necessary, would be a c-section anyway, so a hospital would be best for that.

I asked Rosa under what circumstances does she transfer her birthing clients to a hospital. She said she uses a Doppler to monitor fetal heart rate and if the heart rate becomes too high or low she would transfer her client. Once at the nearest hospital, mothers are under the care of the hospital staff, not Rosa.

Rosa's fee is 800,000. I'm not sure if this includes prenatal care, as I am already 35 weeks along. She can give you sutures if you have a tear, make birth certificates in Korean and English and administer vaccinations to your newborn if you request them (most of her clients don't want them). She will also visit you five days after the birth for a check-up.

Rosa also has natural childbirth information meetings at her clinic (in Korean). The next one is on May 23rd.

She said that I could have a vaginal exam that day, too (at about 38 weeks). I asked her why I should have an exam. I told her that I understand she could check my cervical effacement and dilation but that information would only be relevant to that day and wouldn't reveal anything about my birthing time. She said I didn't have to have an exam if I didn't want to. So I asked if there was any other reason why a vaginal exam would be useful and she said she would check the size of my pelvis and birth canal to see if my birthing would be prolonged. Sure, just as long as you tell me its beautifully spacious in there!

She is also familiar with Hypnobirthing.

One of the EMCK moms got this info from a couple (wife was Korean) who birthed at this Birth Center.
There is a birth center with midwives, but no one speaks much English. They have prenatal exercise classes and really involve the husband and will do homebirths if you want.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Product Review: Bumbo Baby Seat

At first glance, the Bumbo doesn't look that special. It is a seat. For babies. So they can sit. OK. Why do you need this? If you read the reviews you'll notice that they tend to be split into "loved it" or "hated it" camps. At nearly $40 for the seat and $50 for the seat with tray, you really want to be confident that your child will use it before you purchase it.

Let's start with what makes it special. Here is the explanation from the website:

The Bumbo Baby Sitter's key feature is that the seat is at a lower level than the leg openings. This provides correct support for the lumber area of the vertebral column.

- Bumbo has a favorable orthopedic effect that is important to assist in the correct spinal development of an infant.
- The Bumbo Sitters' raised leg spaces result in an increased flexibility of the baby's hip and knee joints, which has the benefit of decreasing stress on the baby's spine.
- The front support won't push against baby's groin but prevents baby sliding forward.

Well, I won't keep you in suspense, we are in the "loved it" camp at this house. I bought it for Ian when he was about 6 weeks old because he always wanted to be upright. I held him a lot, but sometimes I wanted to put him down so I could eat. If I tried to put him in the carseat carrier or swing, he was not amused. He demanded to be upright and in the middle of the action. I thought the Bumbo could potentially be the perfect solution but I wanted to try it before I bought it. I took him to the store, removed it from the box and set him down in it. He loved it. I bought it. We used it quite a bit when he was little and as you can see in the picture, at 2.5, he still likes to sit in it.

Eva, though so far mellower than Ian, still has the same strong desire to be upright and in the action. She has been testing it out the past few days and seems to love it as well. I wear her a lot and she loves the swing, but it is nice to have another option for her, especially during these months before she can crawl or do much of anything on her own.

Even though, I really like the Bumbo seat and have found it useful (especially for taking photos of little ones), it is not a product that I would recommend for everyone and I definitely would not put it on a baby registry. Your baby's personality and your lifestyle factor into every purchase, but the with the Bumbo seat, the personality factor is much stronger. If your baby is very active and always straining to sit or stand, baby will probably like this. If your baby is laid back, baby will probably be happier in a bouncer or carseat carrier or swing. I've also noticed a correlation with baby size: skinny babies tend to like it more than cubby babies.

My only complaint about the Bumbo is that I think it is overpriced. In my opinion, it should be about $20 instead of $40. Also, I would skip the accessories like the carry bag and the tray. If you find yourself eating out a lot and taking the Bumbo to the restaurant, you can buy the tray later. I never took the Bumbo to restaurants, but I had a friend who did. I don't think that is something you know until you are living it. Also, for home use, by the time they are old enough to eat, they can go in a highchair and the age that they are in the Bumbo, they can't snack unsupervised. An older child who could snack with less supervision, won't snack by sitting in the Bumbo and using the tray. My son has snack bowls that he carries around.

Eva's First Bottle

With Ian, I bought an Ameda Purely Yours pump. It is a high quality, double electric pump, but cheaper than the much loved Medela Pump in Style.I wanted a good quality pump, because cheap pumps often hurt and take longer. However, as a stay-at-home-mom, I do not need to pump very often and I discovered that I don't like to pump, so I really didn't use it much. In fact, I don;t think I used it at all after Ian was 6 months old. I used it more in the beginning because we had nursing problems for the first 10 weeks and I needed the break. I introduced the bottle at 6 weeks and gave him one bottle a day (either pumped milk or formula) until 12 weeks. After that, it was sporadic because I was with him most of the time. My mom gave him the bottle and he took it very easily.

With Eva, she had a perfect latch from birth so I was not in a hurry to get her to try the bottle. Still, I want her to take it so that I CAN leave her for a few hours if I want to do something without her. So, yesterday, I broke out the pump and pumped an ounce out of one breast while she nursed on the other (so she wouldn't be too hungry or frustrated when we tried the bottle). We tried the Adiri Natural Nurser. I bought two Adiris to replace my BPA-containing Dr. Brown's bottles that I used with Ian. Curt gave her the bottle and she happily took it for a few minutes. Then, she lost interest.

This morning, Ian tried to give her the rest. She chewed the nipple, but wasn't really drinking. I thought it might be the angle, so I took her and tried to give her the rest. Her response: projectile vomit! And she is not a spitter. Gross. OK we'll try again another time. I dumped the rest of the milk in a cup and gave it to Ian. Not wasting a drop. Pumpers understand this.

For Sunday Dinner

While we were in Erie living with my parents, my grandparents always came over for Sunday dinner. Now that we are gone, they will check the blog on Sundays and they expect pictures. Here is a picture of Eva and Gigi (Great-Grandma) at the last Saturday (we left early Sunday morning) dinner.

Ian always "helped" Grandma do dishes

They instructed me to have new Ian and Eva photos on the blog every Sunday. So here are a few: