Valerie's blog about stuff

The Crossing

Today was the 10th annual Crossing. It is a mile long, human power commute across Lake Gaston. My mother in law and I decided to give it a go, so this morning we woke up at the crack of dawn and drove to the lake. The air temp was in the 60′s with a cold rain, but the water was toasty and in the 80′s.

The first wave of participants to hit the water were boaters, like these lovely ladies:


Margarita Mamas

Then they loaded all the swimmers into a World War II era barge, a la the ones that stormed the beaches of Normandy. We were carted to the starting line and dove into the water in groups of 5 or so. Lennice and I were in the last group out of the barge- and had to wait about 30-40 minutes before we were let off. That was, by far, the worst part of the whole thing, standing bare foot on the wet and cold metal deck of a boat that no one really ever wants to be on… But anyways. Here are some pics taken by Early:

The finish line

The finish line

Apparently the fastest swimmer did the distance in about 19 minutes- meaning they were in and out of the water practically before Lennice and I even jumped off the boat as we didn’t get let off till minute 12.

I, however, took my time and came in at 47 minutes- swimming the mile swim in about 35 minutes.  (The clock says 49 something, but I had to track down Early. Apparently he thought I’d take much longer and missed my triumphant exit from the water.)



As for Lennice, she made it across the lake in an hour flat!


Overall it was a lot of fun and I look forward to doing it again next year- although it hopefully won’t rain.

Ultrasound Part Two…

So after that long lengthy post I made about how my husband and I decided, after a bit of research and a lot of back and forth banter, to not have an ultrasound: Today we went to the hospital for an anatomy scan.

Why the change of heart?

We had to.

Well, okay, we didn’t have to, but we did if we wanted to give birth with a midwife instead of an OB. Apparently, the midwifery practice we are going to had a string of bad luck in the form of two recent births where the parents had declined all ultrasound and things did not go well for the babies in the delivery room. This made the hospital where the midwives have admitting privileges nervous and wala! New rule: you want to birth with the midwives- then you have to get an anatomy scan.

All in all, both Early and I had a good time. The ultrasound tech knew we really weren’t too keen on getting it done and was super quick. The whole scan took less than 10 minutes and she talked us through the whole thing:

  • Brain in cranium: Check!
  • Two kidneys: Check!
  • Four chambers of the heart and all the proper blood vessels to and from: Check!
  • And so on.

Early definitely enjoyed learning that everything was intact and functioning and said that doing the ultrasound and seeing Figgy made the whole, “You’re having a baby” thing feel more real.

I don’t feel any more pregnant after the ultrasound- I think being pregnant has felt pretty real for a while. But I did learn a bit from the scan: apparently I have an anterior placenta and that’s why I haven’t felt any kicks across my belly- only groin shots. We also learned the gender. The tech pulled up Figgy’s groin and said, “You want to know what it is?” And I knew just by looking.

It’s a girl!

Figgy the Fetus.

Figgy the Fetus.

Afterward they gave us a run off of some photos of Figgy the Female Fetus- most of which look like alien blobs to me. Early is pretending he knows what they are, but I think he’s kidding himself. But there is this one of Figgy’s feet:

Figgy the Female Fetus's Feet

Figgy the Female Fetus’s Feet

My thoughts: Seriously, Figgy, before you’re born, you need to work on your toe point. Whatever you are trying to do above: it’s a lackluster effort. You’ll never make a good gymnast with toe point like that, and dancing is out of the question.

Things I don’t really want to do list: July 20th 2014 edition

  • Laundry
  • Mopping the kitchen floor
  • Folding laundry
  • Cleaning my desk (which also includes paying bills…)
  • Putting folded laundry in the dresser
  • Unloading the dishwasher
  • Putting pillows in the pillow cases

Seriously, I just want to go to sleep! But I know that I can do all of the above in 2 hours and will feel so much better about myself and the state my house if I just… stop…. procrastinating…

Let’s talk about ultrasound…

**used with permission

**used with permission

Being pregnant, I undergo the following conversation several times a week:
- Stranger: Are you pregnant?
- Me: Yup!
- Stranger: Oh, that’s wonderful. When are you due?
- Me: Early October.
- Stranger: Boy or girl?
- Me: We’re finding out when it comes out.

The responses after that tend to vary. I either get an, “Oh, I could never wait!” or a, “That’s wonderful!” or something else that seems to suggest that I have awesome will power.

So I just kinda don’t mention the real reason I’m not finding out- I mean, I’d much rather be that cool pregnant chick than that paranoid pregnant chick. Because, the real reason I’m not finding out is not because I love surprises. I hate surprises. I’m not  finding out because I don’t want to have an ultrasound.

The whole ultrasound issue is one that can be polarizing. Some think it’s silly to not get an ultrasound. I mean, why would you not want to find out if there is something wrong with your baby? Others think it is negligent to not have an ultrasound- you could very well be putting your life and the life of your baby in jeopardy! Then there are the people who think you’d be crazy to have an ultrasound, I mean, they probably cause autism, ADHD, schizophrenia… the list goes on.

There is a lot of fear mongering on both sides of the issue- and I hate when that happens because fear mongering is not rational and I like rational.

So, I’m going to spend the rest of this post being rational:

The benefits of ultrasound in obstetrics:

  • You get to peek in and see your future little baby and parents to be find this to be a great emotional and rewarding experience. Oh! And you can find out gender. And you get pictures of your baby IN THE WOMB! I mean, this is totally awesome. Technology is super cool (and I’m not being snarky here, I really think ultrasound is super badass on this point.)
  • Doctor’s and midwives can check the little one’s size, location, heart beat and other routine things. In general, health care professionals love to have as much data as possible and ultrasound can give them excellent data to write about in their encounter notes.
  • Ultrasound can detect abnormalities such as heart defects, growth restrictions, trisomies, twins, placental location and many other things. This information can then be used to make medical decisions for both the mother and baby.

The limitations of ultrasound: (data gathered from a Swiss study published in 2009)

  • The detection rate of fetal abnormalities using ultrasound is 68%. That means  about 32% of abnormalities are missed.
  • Ultrasound isn’t very good at detecting chromosomal abnormalities with a detection rate of only 46%.
  • The rate of false positive diagnosis (ie: you are told your baby has a heart defect that it does not really have) is about 12%.

The negatives of ultrasound:

  • Sometimes babies just aren’t cooperative and an ultrasound may have to be repeated at a later date.
  • A false positive diagnosis usually results in unnecessary procedures that may be risky for the mother, baby or both including: amniocentesis, induction of early labor, Cesarean section, additional ultrasounds or, after birth, x-rays, treatment with antibiotics or a plethora of other un-needed medical interventions. And, don’t forget that false positives also add stress to an already stress-inducing situation.
  • Ultrasound causes an increase in tissue temperature and can create small pockets of gas in tissue/ body fluid called cavitations. The long term effects of these physiological changes to a developing baby are unknown.

For me, I looked at all of the positives and negatives associated with ultrasound and decided that the benefit doesn’t outweigh the potential risk. After all, before ultrasound came around there were other ways for doctors to tell if something was amiss with a pregnancy:

  • They listened to fetal heart sounds with a fetoscope.
  • They measured growth with a tape measure.
  • They checked fetal positioning using their hands.

These old fashioned procedures have zero side effects for the mother and baby. The way I see it, there is no reason why I can’t turn down all ultrasounds and just use the older methods of monitoring a pregnancy. So, after talking it over with my husband, we said, “No thanks, ultrasound!”

So that is that! But, if you want to continue thinking I’m awesome for waiting till birth to find out Baby Figgy’s sex, I’m not going to stop you.

If you wonder where I got my information, it was from my schooling (thanks ODU DPT program!) and reviews of the literature. Here are some links to get you started in your own research that are not biased Pro or Con:

UPDATE: A post about how we ended up getting an ultrasound, even after deciding not to. I still feel like we would have been fine without an ultrasound, but I don’t regret getting the scan done, either.


**Photo property of Brenda Landis used under the Creative Commons License,


In which Valerie explains why there is a 100 pound dog chilling in her car…

Quinn, snubbing cheese in lieu of the "safety" of the backseat.

Quinn, snubbing cheese in lieu of the “safety” of the backseat.

Today, when leaving to go to the store, I found my dog, Quinn, hanging out in the middle of the street. Very calmly, I opened the back door of my car and called him over. Quinn was a total champ, hopped right in and enjoyed the ride home.

I took off his collar, and he hopped out of the car, walked to the door and sat while I put the collar back on.

Then I freaked and called Early.

Quinn the dog has never, ever not obeyed our radio fence. Early, calmly informed me that all dogs “bronk” from time to time.

“Bronking” being the act of a normally good and obedient dog running past the radio fence, getting shocked and then discovering they can’t return home without getting another shock.

He said not to worry, that there was probably a wild turkey or some such that Quinn decided to chase and it probably won’t happen again.

So I gave the dog a final hug and scratch on the head and drove away to Walli-World.

I then spent entirely too much time in Walmart deciding what kind of power bars to buy my brother-in-law for a care package (I went with Cliff because they weighed the most.)

And then I came home to find the dog no where in site.

I spent a good 20 minutes calling for the dog and tromping through the woods to trace the radio-fence, only to come full circle and find the dog sitting by the mail box.

I took off his collar and tried to get him to walk back to the house.

No dice.

So I got the car, pulled it out of the drive 15 feet and opened the back door.

He hopped in.

I closed the door, pulled the car forward 15 feet and opened the back door.

The dog laid down on the back seat.

10 more minutes of petting, calling, and bribery later and the dog wasn’t budging. So I tried pulling him out.

He absolutely freaked.

So I shut the door and went inside to pee, because, that’s what you do when you’re pregnant.

Quinn was content to stay in the car indefinitely. In fact, he seems to love the backseat. Take that people who complain about animals being left in vehicles! He wouldn’t even come out for cheese, and Quinn values cheese above all else.

Long story short, it took about 20 more minutes to get the damn dog out of the car and into the house.

Early thinks that the dog’s collar must be malfunctioning for him to bronk twice in one day.

All I know is I’m at home with a dog that appears to be suffering from PTSD. He’s not eating, anything, and he’s super jumpy. I move, he jumps, a car drives by and he hides in the bathroom, the timer on the toaster-oven goes off and he freaks.


I’m wondering if Quinn is having flashbacks to when he was a stray dog on the run. All I know is that he’s not acting like the normal happy go lucky labradane I’ve come to know.

Right now, he’s curled up by my feet looking pitiful.

Anyone know of a good veterinarian psychiatrist we can call?