Monday, February 11, 2013

Busy Mom Hair Regimen

I'm the first person to admit. My hair regimen is not perfect. Far from it. But I have to do what works for me and my lifestyle. Even if it is not the most optimal routine. It works for me. And as you can see, my hair is pretty healthy. And my sanity is intact. Here are my tips for maintaining healthy hair, while juggling a busy life:

  • K.I.S.S.  - No really. Keep it simple.  The more you complicate things, the more time it takes. Above are pictures on the day of my youngest daughter's baptism. In the past, I would still be fighting with my hair the day of the event. I would try to have freshly washed hair. Or try to do a roller set  -- and it wouldn't dry. This time around, I twisted my hair a few days prior. I wore twists all week that were very easy to maintain.When my husband asked with a scowl, "How long is your hair going to take?". I smiled and said, "All I have to do is untwist!"  It took 10 minutes. Tops.
  • Don't let your hair get tangled. The biggest time warp for natural hair is detangling. For me, wash and go's are an absolute no-no. I'm being more adamant about not letting my hair shrink (and tangle),because the long detanglng sessions are just not worth it.  For the remainder of winter, I'm doing the twists  - twistout -updo rotation.  Boring, but it works.
  • Trim your ends. I know. There is a lot of debate on this. Some people say every 8 weeks, some say twice a year, others say not at all.  I say... whenever they need to be trimmed. How do I know? I see split ends and/or knots. Or my hair gets tangled at the ends. (Of course, if you don't want to trim often then take extra care of your ends.) But for me, fresh ends cut down on my styling time. And since I don't have lofty hair length goals, I pull out the scissor without giving it a second thought. #dontjudgeme
  • Find a wash regimen that works for you, your hair's needs, and your lifestyle. Some swear by co-washing, while others swear by shampoo or even clay washes. Some wash every week, while others wash every two weeks. Do what works for you!  I wash every other week. I co-wash and/or ACV rinse as needed in-between. If I don't see product buildup, I'm not washing my hair just because someone TOLD me I'm supposed to. It saves me from a major headache.  Because I don't wash as often, I'm weary of using products that cause a lot of buildup.  Listen to your hair and figure out a wash routine that works for you.
  • Come up with your own tricks! It's easy to get caught up on what the web gurus or hairdressers say, but take the time to become the expert on YOUR hair. You are the person who takes care of your hair on a daily basis. Take the time to learn your hair. You'd be surprised by how much you already know.
What are your tips and tricks to save time on your hair?

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Natural Hair Movement: Putting it Into Perspective

It's February. Black History Month. So it's only seems fitting that we discuss the "Natural Hair Movement".  Well, first I provide a disclaimer.   I don't ascribe to the "Natural Hair Movement". Nor do I believe in the "Natural Hair Community" and here's why...

Natural hair can be empowering. To wear the hair you were born with after years of altering its texture changes how you see yourself -- both literally and figuratively. But for some,they take it too far. They deem themselves better than those who don't relax. Come up with rules on what it means to truly be "natural".  They judge. They assume. They create division. They hurt.. far more than they help.

Let that marinate.

Now digest.

Natural hair does not make you progressive. Relaxed hair does not make you complacent. They are not mutally exclusive. The "movement" and "community" should be about the sharing of information and healthy discussion. But it's not. And it's sad.

Moving forward, I hope to see a change in the "natural hair community". One that does not judge or have pre-conceived notions about others based upon how they wear their hair. One whose bickering does not turn away the very people they want to help.

What are your thoughts? Let's discuss.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Finish Line (A Baby Story: Part 3)

I was finally upstairs. It took long enough!  My sense of time was off, but it had to be almost two hours of waiting.  And you know the first question I asked was, " Can I have my epidural now?"  The nurse told me that I had to have an IV for 15 minutes first.  (And while we are on the topic of IVs. If you ever wonder why mom and baby look swollen after birth. IV fluid is the culprit.)  She checked me. I was still four centimeters dilated.

Fifteen minutes labor it was time for my epidural. Ahhhhhh!  The anesthesiologist numbed my back.  My hubby braced me from the front.  The needle started to go in. I flinched.  They both were alarmed, "You can't move!"

My response, "I felt that!" I was numbed some more.  "Wait, I'm having another contraction." Had contraction. "Ok. I'm ready"  The second time around everything went fine.  (If you are wondering. I was not the least bit concerned about the needle. Getting the IV was worse.)   Then came the chills.  Why am I shivering?!  The nurse told me they were normal. They subsided within 15 minutes.  (FYI: I got the chills again when they removed the catheter after labor as well.)

And it was all easy breezy from there folks.   My mom-in-law, sis-in-law, mom, and sis joined me after the epidural.  (My sister later had to leave due to the four person limit.)  I explained my birth plan to the nurses.  Gave them copies. ( I had about 5 copies.)  I found the tv/internet and distracted myself.  I checked out facebook. And no, I did not announce my birth.  I felt that those closest to me should have the honor of knowing first.  I then checked my work e-mail. I forwarded some e-mails.  And the pomp'n circumstance... I posted my extended out of office message. Ahhhh! That felt good.

An epidural is one helluva drug.  I was chilling. Laughing.  The only bad side effect is that you can't really feel your legs. They felt like dead weight. I had to move them with my arms.  I could still feel the pressure of contractions, but no pain. I also watched them on the monitor, which was very helpful when it was time to push.

And while we are on that topic.  At midnight, the nurse came to check me.  Everyone started to guess how far I had progressed.  (Remember, my water broke around 6 p.m.)  My sis-in-law guessed, "I think 7 centimeters."  The nurse replied, "Not quite. She is actually nine centimeters."  (For the record, I was in a bit of shock at how quickly my labor was progressing.) It was about then I lost track of time.  Somewhere between noon and 1 p.m. I started to push.

The nurse asked, "Have you taken a labor and delivery course?" 

I replied, "No, I took prenatal yoga and watched shows like 'One Born Every Minute' though."  The nurse taught me how to breath.  I took a deep breath, held it, and pushed.  For each contraction, I pushed three times for about 8 seconds each.  My coaches (my sis-in-law and hubby) helped.  I even coached myself at times when I felt (and/or saw a contraction on the monitor) and pushed through them.  The doctor said, "You're doing great!  You don't need any help do you?"  (For the record, please note that nurses are there for you throughout the labor.  Doctors only show up for the finale.) 

Her head started to show.  The doctor said, "She has a lot of hair." He proceeded to touch her hair.  Eww. They asked me if I wanted to look in the mirror. Ewww! No! But since I figured I might regret the decision I said, "Ok. Really quickly."  I looked.  "Ok. That's enough. Please take the mirror away."  For a while her head would pop out and then she would slide back in.  Grrr.

Finally, I'd had enough.  I took a break.  I took some deep calming breaths. (I learned that from prenatal yoga and pilates. FYI: Yoga, pilates, and exercise are your best resource for getting through labor.  You mainly need strength and stamina to do well in labor.)  I said a really good, long prayer. I prayed for strength. I prayed for her health and mine.  I prayed that this would be my last set of pushes. 

I felt pressure. I saw the contraction on the screen. I took a deep breath and I pushed.  She plopped onto the table. The doctor said that if he wasn't there to catch her, she would have flown across the room.  She cried.  It felt surreal.

Hubby cut the cord. They laid her on my chest.  They delivered my placenta. Sewed me up. (I tore. I didn't even feel it.) And then they took her to the other side of the room for her screening.

April 20, 2011 1:38 a.m.
6 lbs. 5.56 oz.
19 inches

How's that for a sprint?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Waiting Game (A Baby Story : Part 2)

As I was walked back to my office, I saw my husband walking toward me.

"Why aren't you answering your phone?" he asked.

"I left it in my office. I needed to get a towel.  See!" I pointed to my pants that were soaking wet.

We gathered my things and headed to his car.  But before he would let me sit down, he got his work jacket so that I wouldn't get his seat wet. Really?! I gave him the sideeye.

Twenty minutes later, we arrived at the hospital.  We checked in at the front desk. They gave me a "wet pad" for my seat and we walked to the maternity triage waiting room. (This was all too familiar since I had been there two weeks prior.) And there we waited along with a few other pregnant women. One woman looked like she was having serious contractions, but she was waiting there too.  This is not like on TV. I thought when I checked in someone would bring me a wheelchair or something. Boy was I wrong.

So we waited. Finally, about 20 minutes later they called me back for screening. They checked my blood pressure. It was fine. They asked me the usual intake questions. Then they sent me back to the front to complete my admissions paperwork.  Since my water broke, they were going to admit me. I already knew that! So the hubby and I walked to the front picked up another wet pad and waited to be called. We completed the admission paperwork and then they sent us back to the waiting room.  Oh, did you think they were going to send me upstairs? Nope.  Remember the post is entitled, "The Waiting Game".  So we waited.

My mom snuck back to the maternity triage waiting room. (I was only allowed one visitor while downstairs.)  My contractions started to get more intense and closer together. I breathed through them. And we waited. Apparently, everyone was having babies or thought they were having babies. There were no beds. I gushed again... and again.  How much fluid is in there?!  I'm so uncomfortable. I just want to change out of these wet clothes.   At this point, the black jeggings I wore were glistening. That is how wet they were.  About an hour had passed. I was still not admitted. I was LIVID.

They finally called me back to a bed in the triage area where I.....wait for it.... waited for a bed upstairs. The nurse checked me. I was already four centimeters dilated. They hooked me up to the monitors.  My contractions got even more intense.  I made a few work phone calls to touch base with my co-workers.  (I only had a major event with over 4,000 attendees the following week.)  But the phone calls had to stop as my contractions intensified. They hurt more when I laid down so I sat up.  That didn't do the trick so I straddled the bed.  My feet hung under the curtain of the adjacent patient.  My neighbor debated whether they would send her back home. And then she commented, " She is definitely in labor." She was talking about me.

I really wanted an epidural at this point. But I couldn't get one until I went upstairs. And there were no beds. So I waited... in pain.  I know some people feel that natural labor is beautiful.  Well, that's NOT me.  I used to suffer from painful cramps.  The kind of pains that had me screaming, in tears, saying prayers, and one time in an ambulance.  Been there. Done that. I wanted my drugs.  Now.

"I want to go to sit on the toilet." What they say is right. I don't know why, but sitting on a toilet eases contractions.  I hung over my husband as I sat.  Finally, transport arrived. Thank God.

Monday, January 28, 2013

"I have a feeling that she's coming today..." (A Baby Story: Part 1)

I recently came across the story of my first born, Mariah. So I figured I'd share her birth story.  While I'm at it, I'll work on Ava's birth story as well. It's still fresh in my mind although it was almost 8 months ago...

It was Tuesday, April 19th. My hubby and I were talking during our daily midday phone call and he said, "I have a feeling that she's coming today".  Why would my hubby would say such a thing when I wasn't due until May 12th?  Well, we had known for a while that I would go into early labor.  In fact, for two weeks I had been walking around a centimeter dilated (no big deal) and fully effaced (big deal).  Every day my husband would ask jokingly, "Are you ready to go to the hospital?"  But that day was different. Instead he said, " I have a feeling that she's coming today."

Fast forward to approximately 3 p.m.  I started to feel contractions. I walked from my office to the main office to sit with my co-worker. ( I didn't want to be by myself. ) I sat and breathed.  They were coming about 5 minutes apart. But I always feel contractions. I'm just overreacting. This is another false alarm.  I returned to my office.  They either subsided or I ignored them.  I proceeded to work on my numerous projects.  Not knowing when I would go into labor was nerve wracking. I have to tie up as many loose ends as possible.  I decided to stay late to get as much work done as I possibly could.

It was approaching 6 p.m. when I suddenly felt a wave of exhaustion. I leaned back in my chair and GUSH.  Did my water just break or did I just pee on myself?!  No, I couldn't be in labor. I went to the bathroom to pee. I peed. Then another GUSH. Ok. I'm definitely in labor.  I walked back to my office and called my doctor's after hours line.  They told me the doctor on duty would return my call. I proceeded to call my mom, my hubby, and my sister.  My mom said she would meet me at the hospital. My hubby had just gotten home so he would pick me up with my hospital bag.  My sister would meet me at my office since I work at her college. 

The doctor returned my phone call. He asked, "How do you know you are in labor?"

I replied, "Well I was sitting here and I felt water gushing.  Then I went to the bathroom and I gushed again. And as I am talking to you, I'm gushing AGAIN."

The doctor responded,  "Sounds like you are in labor." Duh.  "Clean yourself up, change your clothes, and then head to the hospital." Right... I'm at work. Great.

What now?  ( I was suprised by my calm temperament.)

I started to organize my desk based upon my various projects so that my co-workers could pick up where I left off.  (I knew I would not be back the next day. Once your water breaks, you MUST have the baby due to risk of infection.) I packed up my laptop and packed my work bag.

My sister arrived.  I asked her to walk down the hall with me to our work closet.  I was soaking wet and uncomfortable. I decided to get one of the beach towels that we award our seniors. In our common area, one of my students asked jokingly, "Hi Latoya! Have that baby yet?" Boy was he suprised by my answer.

 "Actually I'm in labor right now. My water just broke."


Friday, January 25, 2013

Do what you love, love what you do (Part 2)

At age 21 with only a few bills (car insurance and cell phone), no rent, no responsibilities...why not?  Why not take the time to figure out what I REALLY wanted to do, rather than thrust myself into a career I would hate?

For three months, I did temp. work and took the time to figure it all out.  I looked back at my college years and I realized that I had suprisingly fallen in love with my job as a tour guide --- which was originally just a resume builder. (Go figure.) I applied for so many jobs I lost count. I landed an interview in the NY area, didn't get it. I was offered a job in Laurel, MD. My mom opposed to the move, so I took a job at the local Enterprise. (Worst decision ever!) After three months of customers telling me I was too smart for the job and grinding down my favorite pair of BCBG shoes, I had enough.  Just as I was about to send out applications for jobs and grad school, I got the call... from an admissions job I applied to in June.  A few interviews later, I was hired. 

A career as a college administrator is definitely not a job that rakes in the big bucks, but I know that as I progress in my career the money will come.  I have tons of apartment horror stories and Ramen Noodle tales to prove that it isn't easy.  But despite it all, I've fallen in love with my career.  Each day is different. Each day is a challenge.  And each day I learn more about myself.

Do what you love, love what you do.
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