Leah Love

Infinite Chocolate Illusion

I just looooooove chocolate. So why not pretend that we never have to run out?

Maybe this is me being silly.
I mean, obviously you can’t keep repeating the process to the same bar of chocolate and never see it diminish. But it’s the whimsy of the illusion of it that I admire.

I’m going to learn how to do this chocolate magic trick if only to see that glitter of amazement in my kid’s faces. As if s’mores could get any cooler, right?

Here’s a video that best explains the process via visual aid.

Scuba Diving Wheelchair

Artist creating art with wheelchairOne woman’s story that will change your perception of people in wheelchairs.

Sue Austin lost her ability to walk through a long illness. When she was well enough to re-join society via wheelchair, she described it as ‘exhilarating’. She was so excited to be able to interact with the world again.

Her happiness was somewhat tempered by other people’s responses to her chair. She found that other people did not see it as a gateway to freedom and joy.

Sue began to find ways to make the world see her chair as she did. As a medium of self-expression and adventure.

She modified parts of her chair, turning her wheels into dual paintbrushes! So just by traveling down the sidewalk, or across the park, she leaves a trail of artistry. Expressing herself and changing the way people see her.

She started learning to scuba dive when it occurred to her that scuba diving was to most people what her wheelchair had always been to her.

It seemed the perfect opportunity to make a statement and bring the two worlds together. Thus was born the underwater wheelchair!

This gave her the same feeling of exhilaration as first getting the chair; now with the extra added benefit of moving, literally, in all directions at will.

Bravo to her for finding a way to change people’s perspectives.

Watch her talk about the process that brought her to creating the underwater wheelchair in her Ted Talk below.

A Supportive Husband Understands Pregnant Wife’s Need to Sleep

Pregnant Sleep

Sleep is always an issue for everybody.  I haven’t met a person who gets the rest they want, and I’ll bet you haven’t either.  And the lack of sleeping goes double for pregnant women.  I don’t need to tell you this unless you’re a man.  Or a clueless husband.

I’m pretty lucky though since my husband seems to be more sensitive than I would have expected him to be in an instance like this.  I mean, in the past I’ve tried several times to explain to him the physical inconveniences of menstruation, cramps especially.  He nods and insists he gets it, but I can tell by the boredom behind his eyes that he thinks I’m overreacting.  That’s when I punch him in the gut.

But he pays attention to my sleeping habits now, if he didn’t before.  Of course, it’s not hard to spot the changes, er… increases, rather.  For one, I need an extra hour a night on average.  In addition to that I am now prone to taking sporadic naps at all hours of the day.  Often if I don’t get the nap (lasting anywhere from 1 to 3 hours) I find myself doing that drowsy head-bobbing thing while I drive to work; which is quite disconcerting wouldn’t you say?

Anyway, back to the husband.

Sometimes I wake up in the morning to find out that he’s been sleeping on the couch.  This in itself isn’t weird because he actually enjoys sleeping on the sofa from time to time, but now he’ll say things he never said before like, “well, did you sleep better last night?” This leads me to think that he’s genuinely interested in making sure that, in addition to securing his sleep, I get the sleep I need.

He’ll even stop shoving furniture around (we’re still in the process of unpacking from our move) when I come out of the bedroom and snap “G*d Da*n it Jason!  I don’t make this much noise when you’re taking a nap!”  He replies with something sensible like ‘Sorry sweetheart, I didn’t know you were sleeping.”  And when I wake up later he’ll be sitting quietly, again on the couch, waiting for me to finish my nap.  Ain’t he sweet?

At first when we got pregnant I may have felt he was backing off ever so slightly, being a bit cool about the pregnancy.  But below I’ve added some links for websites where other pregnant women share their unsupportive husband stories.  Truly unsupportive, I mean… wow.  My husband hasn’t been at all unsupportive, by any measure of the word.  I think now that he just needed to see me with a belly before he could let the baby become exciting.




When to call the Doctor for a new born


My husband and I are compiling the last of our ‘bare bones’ baby needs shopping list. He looks at it and goes ‘a thermometer? We don’t need that right away do we?’ His thought being, the temperature taken with our hands would be just as telling as that which was taken digitally.

I made him understand ‘no!’ It’s not remotely good enough to use the sense of touch alone. And yes, you should have one of these from the start as you never ever know when your child will get sick. But then I wondered… so I have the thermometer, what do I do next?

Here are some danger signs that indicate the need for a doctor’s visit…

  • A temperature of 100.4° F (38° C) or higher in babies smaller than two months.
  • Dehydration (crying without tears, sunken eyes, a depression in the fontanel, no urination in 6 to 8 hours).
  • Dry mouth and tongue.
  • Cold or clammy skin, temperatures lower than 98.6°.
  • If the fontanel bulges when your baby’s quiet and upright.
  • Lethargy.
  • Has a stiff neck.
  • Rapid or labored breathing (call 911 if your baby has breathing difficulty and begins turning blue or purplish around the lips or mouth).
  • Unusual vomiting, forceful or excessive, or unable to keep fluids down.
  • Bloody vomit or excrement.
  • More than eight diarrhea stools in 8 hours.
  • If he/she complains of tingling, or extreme discomfort in a specific body part.

If you see something alarming or out of the ordinary, don’t be hesitant to contact your doctor first, as opposed to rushing to the emergency room. If you go straight to the ER, you can run the risk of unnecessary tests and treatments.

I know I’m not a baby anymore, but I remember going to the emergency room when I was just 16 years old, throwing up from debilitating (level 10) kind of pain. Later on it turned out that I had gallstones, but the ER idiots, once I was done with my ‘episode’ prescribed me Prilosec. For acid reflux.

They treated a potentially deadly case of gallstones with antacids. It’s easy for me to see why it’d be better to talk to your primary caregiver.
If symptoms seem relatively ‘normal’ to your pediatrician, you may avoid the unnecessary trouble/worry. But lest you should think I’m one sided remember, it’s like the old adage states, better safe than sorry.

Have the following information written down and handy before you speak to your baby’s doctor.

  • Your child’s temperature and when the fever began.
  • Medications you’ve given him/her, what time it was administered first, last and in between.
  • When and what he last ate and drank.
  • Time of his last wet diaper.
  • How much and how often is he/she vomiting and/or experiencing diarrhea.
  • Any other relevant symptoms you noticed.

Interview with an Insurance Company

Insurance is something my husband and I were anxious about when we first learned about my pregnancy. What will they cover? What won’t they cover? Will we be left with enormous debt if something unforeseen happens?

We were very nervous, but everything worked out. We had a few things come up, but with good communication with our insurance company we were able to survive financially the childbirth.

With that in mind, we went out and contacted an insurance company to answer some common questions woman have related to insurance while pregnant.

In today’s post, we took the time to interview Nisha Rk of navixmarketplace.com.

1. Are Midwife and/or Dula covered by insurance?

It depends. Midwives that practice in hospitals, if they are legally licensed to practice in your area, are probably covered by insurance. It is much more difficult to find an insurance company that will cover home birth midwives, and if you can, it’s very likely that the midwife will be “out of network,” which usually means that your deductible and out of pocket expenses will be higher. However, since many home birth midwives have been practicing in this environment for many years, many of them have very reasonable cash prices they can quote you, which may be less than the out of pocket expenses for a hospital birth. To find out what would be covered under your plan, call your insurance company, but also read your plan documents. When I wanted to get a home birth covered, my plan documents said it could be, but the insurance company initially stated that it would not be. I had to speak to several people to get the misunderstanding clarified, and I did eventually get about half of the costs covered by my insurance company.

Doulas are much less likely to be covered by your insurance, but again, it’s worth asking your insurance company.

2. Are birthing centers covered?

Very possibly. Many people view birthing centers as the middle ground between home birth and hospital birth, and many insurance companies do cover the cost of delivering at one of the centers. Start by asking your insurance company if they will cover the cost, and then ask which centers are in-network for your plan.

3. I am Trying To Conceive, how do I know if I’m covered for maternity with my current policy?  If not, what do I have to do?

If you have an insurance policy through a group (like your employer) or through one of the new ACA Marketplaces, your policy almost certainly includes maternity benefits. To be sure, review your plan documents, or call your insurance company to ask.

If your plan does not cover maternity care, you still have options. Many states offer expanded Medicaid income limits to pregnant women, so contact your state’s health insurance line to find out if you might qualify. If you are over income for the program, talk to your provider to see if you can arrange a cash price up front, which you can budget for over your pregnancy, so that you’re not trying to pay for it all at once. Also, consider looking for care through a birthing center or a midwife; since these providers often work with patients who do not have insurance coverage for their services, they often have a lower cash price than an OB in a hospital.

4. If I get insurance after conception is my pregnancy considered a pre-existing condition?  What does that mean?

As of January 1st, 2014, the answer is no. Before the Affordable Care Act, this was a possibility; pre-existing conditions meant that a person could be denied coverage for any illness or condition that they knew of before they applied for health insurance. After the ACA was passed, insurance companies were no longer allowed to deny children benefits due to pre-existing conditions; in 2014, this will be true for all plans, other than certain individual plans that you purchase on your own. If you are going through a Marketplace or insurance through an employer, pregnancy will not be considered a pre-existing condition.

5. Am I allowed a limited number of ultrasounds & blood tests?

It depends. In general, maternity care is considered an Essential Health Benefit under the ACA, so if your plan is not grandfathered, all medically necessary care during pregnancy should be covered under your plan. Where this can get sticky is the definition of medically necessary. During my first pregnancy, for example, my OB preferred to check the baby’s heartbeat with an ultrasound instead of a doppler. All of the visits were covered, but my copays were higher when the ultrasound was used.

6. Is Anesthesia and/or epidurals included?

Almost certainly, but call your plan to be sure. That said, so many women request epidurals that they are almost always covered, though they will increase the cost of your bill for the birth (more providers = more fees = more coinsurance to pay).

7. What is a deductible?

A deductible is an amount of money that you have to pay out of pocket before your insurance pays anything. You might have a $500 deductible for maternity care, for example; the first $500 your OB bills would still be sent to the insurance company, so they can keep track of it, but you’ll be expected to pay for it out of pocket.

8. If I give birth in a new year do I have to start paying the deductible all over again?

Probably, but call your plan to see if they make an exception for situations like this.

9. How long a hospital stay will be covered for vaginal vs. cesarean birth and how is the time determined?  Hours or days?

It depends on your plan, but most will cover two days after a vaginal birth, and four after a c-section. Depending on how you recover, and how you feel, you may be able to leave earlier, though hospitals usually want you to say at least over night, to make sure that no sudden complications (like a postpartum hemorrhage or pre-eclampsia) arise.

10. If I have to have a cesarean birth, what is and is not covered?

I know it’s frustrating to hear over and over again, but it depends on your insurance. What shocked me when I had my c-section was how very many bills I got; each department of the hospital (the general hospital care, the anesthesiologists, the NICU team that evaluated my daughter immediately after her birth) all billed separately, and then I also got separate bills from my OB’s office for her fees as the surgeon, as well as the remaining balance from my prenatal care. Some of those things applied to different deductibles as well, which shocked me, and we ended up owning more than we budgeted for. More insurance companies now have cost estimators on their websites; use them. I cannot recommend it enough.

11. How long after giving birth do I have to add the baby to my insurance?

Having a baby (adding a dependent to your household, so adoption counts too) is a qualifying life event, and you have 30 days from the date of the event (your child’s birth) to make changes. It sounds like this will be plenty of time, but remember that you’ll be trying to do paperwork with a newborn in the house. Get the paperwork from your employer before your baby is born, and do it as soon as possible, to make sure it won’t get forgotten. Most insurance plans cover babies for their first 30 days of life, as long as Mom was insured when the baby was born, but if you miss that QLE period, you’ll be waiting for open enrollment to get the baby covered, and that’s a real problem with a newborn.

12. Do all your plans cover well-child care visits?

Well-child visits are Essential Health Benefits, so all non-grandfathered health care plans must cover them, usually at no cost (since they’re preventative medicine).

13. I like my current OB/GYN, can I keep him/her?

It’s definitely possible. Call your OB/GYN and see if they’ll accept your current insurance plan.

14. Will I need a referral to an OB from my primary care physician?

Some plans are called HMOs, and require referrals; some plans are PPOs, and do not. To find out which you have, contact your plan.

Final Words

I can not thank  Nisha Rk enough for all the great information. I hope you found it as useful as I did.

Remember that it is important to read over your insurance paper work and to take the time to call your insurance provider to make sure they are up-to-date, and you have all your questions answered.

What a Doula is NOT

A Doula giving a massage.Doulas are an integral part of the Birth Team. With all the benefits that come with having a doula, it is worth stating what is not in their scope of work so that one’s expectations can be reset. Here is a list of tasks your doula cannot perform:

  1. Perform clinical tasks (blood pressure, fetal heart checks, or vaginal exams). The doula will help with breathing, relaxation and other comfort techniques, and make suggestions for progress.
  2. Make decisions for you. The doula will help client get the information necessary to make informed decisions. She will also remind you if there is a departure from your expectations and wishes. The doula shall support your
  3. Speak to clinical staff on your behalf. The doula will discuss your concerns with you and suggest options, so that you or your partner can speak to clinical
  4. Deliver Babies. A doula is not licensed to deliver your baby. Should you have an unexpected delivery at home, please call 911 emergency line and stay calm. See my article about the unexpected delivery.

Your doula does not displace your primary Birth Partner nor is she part of your medical team. Instead think of your doula as part of your intimate Birth Team whose main job is to add comfort and ease to both you and your birth partner while you navigate through the unknown terrain of childbirth. She is surely a valuable asset.

About the Author:

Patricia GrubePatricia Grube is a certified Pre/Post-Natal Yoga instructor who teaches classes at Yoga Works in Los Angeles.  Patricia has a thriving birth doula practice and has guided hundreds of couples through their childbirth experience (www.serenitybirth.com).  Additionally, she is a published author and recently co-authored a new book called, “Posh Push: Modern Girls Reveal Secrets to a More Natural Birth” now available on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009LQS32G.

You can visit Patricia’s website at www.serenitybirth.com

Bottle Feeding a Breastfed Baby

Okay, a lot of us know breast is best, sure.  But I also know that an exclusively breastfed baby is a pain in the f#@%$ ass!  I’m still traumatized by memories of babysitting my nephew, Jake.  I love him like crazy, but I can now understand the urge some babysitters get just to lock the baby in a closet until the parents come back. ( Don’t get angry, I’ve never done that!)  He cried.  For hours.  Because his mother’s breasts were not in the immediate area.  Nothing would stop the crying, he wanted those breasts and would take nothing as a substitute.

I swore right then and there that I would never ever breastfeed exclusively.  It’s hell for other people.  Also my sister, who breastfed for all the sweetest reasons, could not escape her child for the span of a dinner out!

So when can I start switching between breast and bottle?

The directions on my soon-to-be-born child’s pacifiers state that I should not use it in my baby’s mouth until he/she is four weeks old.  So probably I shouldn’t start on the bottle before then though I’m sure it has more to do with encouraging proper feeding and latching.

Here is a handy list of bottle feeding tips.

Babies should be bottle-fed:

  1. When their cues indicate hunger, rather than on a schedule.
  2. Held in an upright position; it is especially important to avoid letting the baby drink from a bottle when lying down. Such a position is associated with bottle caries and an increased frequency of ear infections.
    Note also that babies should often be held at times when they are not being fed, to avoid the baby being trained to eat in order to be held.
  3. With a switch from one side to the other side midway through a feed; this provides for eye stimulation and development and thwarts the development of a side preference which could impact the breastfeeding mother.
  4. For 10-20 minutes at a time, to mimic the usual breastfeeding experience. Care providers should be encouraged to make appropriate quantities last the average length of a feeding, rather than trying to feed as much as they can in as short a time as possible. This time element is significant because the infant’s system needs time to recognize satiety, long before the stomach has a chance to get over-filled.
  5. Gently, allowing the infant to draw the nipple into the mouth rather than pushing the nipple into the infant’s mouth so that baby controls when the feed begins. Stroke baby’s lips from top to bottom with the nipple to illicit a rooting response of a wide open mouth, and then allow the baby to “accept” the nipple rather than poking it in.
  6. Consistent with a breastfed rhythm; the caregiver should encourage frequent pauses while the baby drinks from the bottle to mimic the breastfeeding mother’s let-down patterns. This discourages the baby from guzzling the bottle and can mitigate nipple confusion or preference.

To satiation, so that baby is not aggressively encouraged to finish the last bit of milk in the bottle by such measures as forcing the nipple into the mouth, massaging the infant’s jaw or throat, or rattling the nipple around in the infant’s mouth. If baby is drowsing off and releasing the bottle nipple before the bottle is empty that means baby is done; don’t reawaken the baby to “finish.”