Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Chiropracty is the new black

"That's definitely a foot," the doctor laughs as she pushes on the left side of my abdomen. "And I think he's moved into position," she muses. "I would say his head is definitely engaged now."

Last time I was here -- a week ago -- she wasn't sure which end was up: the rump end or the head end.

She pushes on my side ligaments and pelvic bones, rocking them back and forth. I struggle to keep from laughing.

"Oh my, that tickles."

Curled up like a pretzel, she cracks my back from each side.

"O.K. That's it for today. You're good to go."

I hand over my co-payment check and head for the car, feeling an inch taller.

It's official: Chiropracty is the new black.

As the daughter of a nurse, there’s always been something about "the alternative" medical practices that I’ve never really trusted.

"I don't care if there's three million years of ancient wisdom behind it, there is no way in this lifetime anyone is going to stick pins in me."

I've listened, and tried to keep my eyes from rolling upward, as friends and family have told me all about the amazing results they've experienced with acupuncture, acupressure, aromatherapy, biofeedback, botanicals, kinesiology, chiropracty, massage therapy, reflexology and even primal scream therapy until I've wanted to scream.

It also didn't help that I once went to a chiropractor at the insistence of my husband, who has chronic low back pain and apparently wanted me to share in the joy of adjustment. I'll admit, the mobility I experienced after the visit was more than I'd thought possible. But the next day I woke up in the worst pain EVER. EVER!

Pain is bad: very, very bad. Avoid. Avoid. Avoid.

"Your body always wants to go back to where it's been," the doctor assured me as I walked back into the office sideways, like a crab, with my chin seemingly cemented to my shoulder.

In a few more visits, I was back to where I started: standing upright, pain free and feeling fine.

No more alternatives for me, I decided. Even though I've since experienced massage therapy and reiki with pleasing results, I will not be converted. I grudgingly get a massage, feel great for three days and never make another appointment. Reiki was the same. It just relaxed me to the point of not caring whether I ever made another appointment again.

Feeling good is one thing … having to make an appointment to feel even better seems, I don’t know, overly self-indulgent maybe?

So when I got up from my desk one day and felt my right hip slide over in protest, shooting sharp pain around the region like a pinball, I called the obstetrician.
"Unfortunately, it's a normal part of pregnancy, especially when you start to 'pop' out," she said. "Your center of gravity gets all out of whack. Very common in second pregnancies," she says, offering only time as a cure. "Once the baby comes you'll feel better."

Now I've put up with heartburn, leg cramps, pregnancy rashes, the dreaded tired and the indignities of having "cankles" connecting my feet to my legs, but another six weeks of near debilitating pain would not do. I was going to have to seek an alternative.

I swallowed hard and called a chiropractor who specializes in pregnancy adjustments, justifying it in my head the whole time.

All my friends are doing it, and insurance kind of covers it so it can't REALLY be all THAT alternative right?

After only one visit I was feeling better but still worried about the dreaded "snap back." I walked around that whole weekend like an octogenarian on ice. The discomfort gradually moved back to the neighborhood during the course of the week, but only now it seemed to be a new and more agreeable tenant.

A few visits later, however, and I'm feeling so fine I'd considering naming the kid after her.

I know I'll probably revert to my old "I'd-like-massage-therapy-if-they-didn't-have-to-touch-me" self, but I've got to say I'm so glad there are alternatives, even if I'm usually to pig-headed to try them.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

A magician for all seasons

The conjurer was cunning. Dressed in khaki slacks and a checked shirt, he didn’t much look like a magician at all.

His act was missing all the glitz and glam of a David Copperfield extravaganza not to mention the over-the-top theatrics of David Blaine's protracted feats of strength. Instead he had only comedy store props — like the wonky wands he generously handed out to every pint-sized assistant in the room.

To the initiated there was nothing special about the resort entertainer’s talents.
But to the uninitiated there was nothing but enchantment in his dime store tricks and sleight of hand.

"Who will assist me with this next trick?" he asked as all the chubby little hands in the audience stood at attention. One by one each junior conjurer took turns holding a wand, saying a magic word and pulling something unexpected out of some container previously shown to be empty.

When it was Ittybit's turn, the magic man produced two foam rabbits and held them up for all to see. He squished them into his hands and transferred them to hers. She looked so serious as he said the magic words … "Ipso, Upso, Grandilillyposo!!!" She dutifully tossed out the foam die-cuts to reveal a bunch of tiny bunnies had miraculously taken the place of the two original yellow silhouettes.

"WOW!!" she exclaimed, proud of her own happenstance talent. "Could there be more?" she wondered.

"Come closer, children. I have something to show you," the magician called.

As the kids crowded around he pulled a red kerchief from his shirt pocket. With a flourish, he juggled the tissue-y gauze from hand to hand before he began stowing the little prize precisely into a closed fist. The room was silent as he wiggled his fingers and opened his hands to show the hanky’s disappearance.

A second later he pulls the red cloth from the previously emptied hand.
And that’s when the magician steered off course ... "Let me show you how it's done."

I could feel my own eyes bulge. Was he REALLY going to reveal the "magic?"
The adults scooted closer to the edge of their chairs.

Sure we all thought we knew where this was going. We had all seen this trick dozens if not hundreds of times, but we’d all simply accepted that there WAS a trick to it and let it go without detailed explanation.

And that's when he took off his thumb. ...

"If you will direct your attention to my left thumb you will see that it is slightly longer than my right. Inside is where I've hidden the handkerchief. Holding the false finger in one hand, you put the cloth in with the other. Once you are done stuffing the cloth into it, you push your own thumb into it and just keep your hands moving ..."

You would think that such a revelation would be a let down. It would turn magic into a cheap parlor trick and the enchantment would be lost.

And yet, each kid took a turn at the sleight of hand. And each kid made magic happen.

Of course, that was his point: Anyone can make magic.

Later that evening, on our way to the resort's dining room, I noticed a man tuning a distinctive wood piano, getting ready to play a little dinner music. It was the magician.

As his fingers closed around the tools of the trade and he gave the wire a little turn, he let me in on another little secret.

"Hey, I saw that you signed up for the 7 a.m. yoga class ... I teach that group, so I'll see you tomorrow."

Magic indeed.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

How to tell if you need retail therapy

Repeat after me: Don't get attached to things. Let things attach to you. Say it again with me.

You can't go to Target and swing a cat without hitting a pregnant woman.
The red and white bulls-eye, I suppose, just reels them in with their funky finds for new moms.

So it seems a little strange that I should be avoiding the place. It has to be pregnancy related.

I’ll admit that during the 15-month pregnancy drought, which finally ended in September, I'd tried to steer clear of the Midwest-Mecca of multi-department merchandising for just that reason. All those burgeoning bellies just made me feel down in the dumps.

Whatever incidental hunk of junk I sought could probably be found on the Internet, I told myself. "Shipping schmipping, at least I'd never have to bump into a baby bump again."

But recently I've felt its aisles, filled with brightly colored merchandise, closing in on me again.

With only a month to go, I feel as if Newton’s third law of motion -- For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction – is guiding me into a quagmire of retail inertia. I feel as if I'm in the scope of the bulls-eye, surrounded by other women staking claim to the aisle's precious real estate, happily stocking up for their own impeding arrivals.

Do I clean the old carseat or buy a new one?

If a buy a new one, will it help me avoid tennis elbow I suffered through most of 2004 and 2005?

But standing in the happy glow of Target’s offerings, all I see is more stuff. ... More stuff to add to the stuff I’ve already acquired and can't manage. More stuff to be unpackaged, stored, repackaged and recycled. More stuff that will wind up abandoned in closets.

I need to snap out of it. I have to get retail therapy.

So I let my fingers do the clicking and decide I am going to fling the old baby pack and buy a sling.

For Ittybit, we used an adjustable front pack, similar to the much touted BABY BJÖRN, but half the price. It was wonderful for about four or five months, until she doubled her birth weight and caused my back to protest. It was also cumbersome to put on. Straps and buckles had to be adjusted and readjusted every time.

This time I knew I wanted something that I could just put on and go. Something that seemed fool proof. Something that wouldn't make me want to throw the baby out with the proverbial bathwater. But here I am balking at the median $60 price tag. So as is my way, I found an agreeable alternative -- a Peanut Shell baby sling from a company called Goo-Ga Style, Inc. in the clearance/discontinued item page of its online shop.

When it came in the mail I was so excited I practically chewed through the weather resistant mailing pouch to get at it. In the process I unfolded the precisely folded sling and stood in the kitchen with what resembled a brightly colored, gigantic fabric Cheerio.

"I am never going to figure this out," I lamented as I remembered the ALL SALES FINAL deal that made the price so attractive.

"I found a pocket! ... NO, the baby is DEFINITELY NOT fitting in there."

I looked at the picture on the brochure ... "how do they ..."

I folded it up, put it back in the bag and walked away.

"Maybe it's too small. It looks to small. What was I thinking? I am not that small."

I returned to the table a few minutes later -- unable to give up on the puzzle -- and I extract the sling again. This time I tried folding it in and slipping it over my shoulder. ... "Ahhhh. Maybe? ... Nope. It's upside-down."

I turn it inside out and try again. "There! That's IT! I've got it."

But then I wonder: "OK, I've got it on, but how to I get the baby in there? Maybe I should test this on a doll."

So off I go, looking for the most baby-like toy in Ittybit's collection. I settle for Elmo.

"Mama? What are you doing?"

"I'm just testing the new baby gear out on the little monster."

"Does it fit?"

"Yes, I think it does."

"Well ... daddy can be pretty, too."

"What do you mean?"

"If daddy wore that he'd be pretty, too."

I've no doubt he'd look mighty purdy in this, but I have a confession: The Peanut Sling so comfee I may just wear Elmo around the house until there's a suitable replacement. And by then, who knows, maybe my aversion to Target will have gone the way of sciatica and heartburn. Maybe I’ll throw caution to the wind and buy the new carseat after all.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day! How about a contest?

BUT FIRST ... A word from our sponsors ...

DEAR EXILED IN TOYLAND READERS ... In case you weren't aware, Exiled in Toyland is a place where I've been personally archiving a column I write for a local newspaper, The Record. Up until recently it has been corporate policy to upload only a few items to our official web presence. Since that edict has changed, my columns will now be published every week here.

I hope you will come on over and visit at my "day job," where you can enter the "official" baby-naming contest and browse around.


Desperation can make you do strange things.

Like many women in my condition, I've been on the lookout for the perfect baby name.

Not the name that will go on the birth certificate, mind you. Miraculously the selection of the official designation has been relatively easy. It actually took up residence in my head the moment the ultrasound technician clued me in that Thing 2 was a boy.

No, I'm looking for something to use as a nom de plume here in these pages (and over at Ittybit's & Pieces).

You know, 'cause I have my priorities: A name is just a name but a nickname out in cyberspace lasts forever. So here I am obsessing over a name that fits well with "Ittybit" but doesn't make the kid seem as if he was an afterthought, affixed into the masthead with Scotch tape.

Ittybit and ...

I've got nothing.

Up until now I've stolen rather unabashedly from Theodor Geisel and his "Cat in the Hat" classic when referring to the kidlet swimming around in my gene pool. But when push comes to caesarian section sometime mid-June, I know a real fake name will have to be substituted.

But still, with the pressure on and the heat moving to the front burner, a suitable silly subtitle hasn't been forthcoming.

What's a mother to do?

Well, this mother consulted baby name books and Web sites, and watched movie credits roll past with more concentration than she spent on the movie’s plot. Unsuccessful, I waded through countless children's stories, looking for literary characters that would make snappy names. I started looking a products in stores, wondering if perhaps a name would jump out at me.

Hmmmmm. How about Ittybit and Tums? Nope. 'Not gonna do it.'

Then I took the passive approach. I waited for suggestions, hoping for intervention. When none showed up in my inbox, I wandered onto the Internet.

There I was, Googling for pet names when I stumbled across Pet Name Finder.
"This is promising," I thought as I typed my answers into the pop-up menus, pausing just before I clicked the send button. "Maybe an actual name for a pet will be the ticket."

To my surprise, though, the name that the computer came up with for my fictional fido was the EXACT one I'd had my heart set on for the child's given name.

So, OK, I have a name suitable for a child (or a pet), but I still don't have a pet name that rolls off the tongue and plays nicely with Ittbit. (Let’s face it, making sure the kidlets play nice is what it's all, right?)

With all my options running out, I'm doing what I should have done in the first place. Begging.

And that's where you come in, dear readers. I need your collective expertise, your naming acumen and most of all your At-least-I'm-sleeping-eight-hours-per-night minds.

I don't care how you do it. You can consult tea leaves or the stars or your loveable (but not so with-it) Aunt Marge, but send me your entries for Thing 2's nom de plume and a completely biased and arbitrary decision could make you a winner.

What you win will be determined, but I promise you won't be asked to change diapers.

To submit a entry: Write to me at The Record, 501 Broadway, Troy NY, 12108; email or fax 518.270.1202. Include your name, address and phone number with your submission. The deadline for entries is June 15. A winner will be announced when Thing 2 arrives.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

What light through yonder window breaks?

My daughter comes into our bedroom almost every morning at 6 a.m., stands by MY side of the bed and claps her hands twice.

I startle awake. Gone are the days when she’d stand there and stare at me until my eyes would open without the added joy of my heart jumping into my throat.

Now she’s become The Clapper.

Of course, it won't surprise me in the least if one of these mornings her usual routine causes the lights to blaze, the television to roar to life and the coffee maker to start perking. It's just the way the house is wired now that my husband — a gadget and techno-geek — has been doing home repairs.

Slowly, (emphasis on S-L-O-W) my husband is transforming our barn into a home. In the years we've lived in this rambling abode, he's rebuilt rotted decks, replaced some old doors and windows, reconstructed entire rooms, installed wood floors and new kitchen cabinets. He's even framed out an area for a luxury spa bathroom and purchased the decadent air-jet tub, where, once installed, I plan on moving all of my Earthly possessions.

Although the overall appearance is one of little progress since none of the projects started HAS in fact BEEN completed hitherto, the list of changes made during the last seven years is nothing short of impressive nevertheless.

Of course I tell him the work he does is appreciated, but I'm careful not to gush. After all, I do want moldings someday so I can't have him resting on his laurels. I also like to reserve the right to gloat on his jack-of-all-trades shortcomings just for kicks.

For instance take the aforementioned lighting. In most homes you don’t have to think about turning on the bathroom or bedroom lights. You flip a switch and the room comes into focus under the glare of energy-saving compact florescent luminosity.

Not in our house. Some folks find programming their VCR impossible? I have trouble working our lights.

Whenever we have guests I practically have to hand them a manual on how to work the lights:

"Ok. If you need to use the bathroom, remember to turn on the track lights in the dining room first. They are on the same circuit and the bathroom lights won’t turn on without the dining room lights on. … And if you turn on the hall lights and they go off by themselves don't worry, it's nothing. Just turn them back on, making sure the switch that is all the way to the left is turned on first. Oh. ... and the light over the bed works on a remote control. If you can't get it to come on you'll have to go to the main panel on the wall and see that the switch is pressed DOWN then press the sensor to the right seven times until the little green lights on the left side of the switch glow."

Even my husband's bedside table has a contraption that allows his lowly lamp to be transformed into a resplendent "natural alarm clock," which, unfortunately, I haven't learned how to operate. I often curse his name as I struggle to turn the thing off a half hour after the light fooled him into thinking being awakened at 4 a.m. is actually "natural."

After I pull myself out of bed and grope around for the plug and end my suffering, all I can think about is Shakespeare ... "so this is what he meant by 'But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?' I bet some grumpy wife threw her husband's 'natural light' alarm clock out of the window when she couldn't figure out how to turn it off.