Check out some prenatal workouts and nutrition tips.

The Birth Story

There was one massive reason that I was so looking forward to November 18th- it was the day I was supposed to be getting my hair cut and streaked… you know how it is when you’ve let your hair go just a bit longer than you should, and then you’re just desperate for that haircut?

Well, I was timing the hair appointment for two days before my due date since my hairdresser had pointed out that I’d want good hair for all the post-birth pics.  Good point.  I agreed, and booked the appointment especially for that day, fully knowing that I was cutting it really close to the birth.

Well, that haircut never happened because something a little more important came up… or should I say a little someone?

HugoI had been praying that when I went into labour it would start in the morning, not at night, so that I’d be well rested for the adventure.  Looks like my prayers were answered, because on Sunday morning, November 17th, I woke up at 6am with some strange, uncomfortable feelings… kinda like I was getting my period, but quite infrequently.

Not knowing if these were actually contractions or not, I went about my day… Andrew made a special request for pancakes for breakfast, which we hadn’t had in ages, so I got busy concocting those while he kept working on applying for jobs for next year.  (He had just found out that his contract from this year wouldn’t be continuing, so he was working hard on finding a new job).

After the pancakes, the pains were coming a little closer together, but I still didn’t know if they were contractions or not… how are you supposed to know your first time around what they feel like?  I quickly Googled “best contraction timer app” and downloaded one on my phone, just in case they were contractions.  I started timing the pains, but they were about 10-12 minutes apart, so I kept puttering around the house, doing my nesting stuff, and trying not to disturb Andrew’s job search.

I remember pestering him to walk with me to Mooloolaba (a town 20 minutes walk away) to exchange these two t-shirts I’d bought him the day before.  They ended up not fitting him quite right, and were bugging me lying on the kitchen table.  I knew that if we didn’t take care of it soon, I’d have the baby, and the shirts would sit there forever, past the date you could exchange them.  Clutter drives me absolutely crazy, so I was super keen to get rid of them, but Andrew was busy with job applications (how dare he ;))

The pains were coming closer together, like 5 minutes apart at around 3pm, but I still wasn’t sure if they were truly contractions.  My biggest fear was going to the hospital only to be told they weren’t contractions, and to have the midwives think I was a big fat liar, so I decided to call some people who’d had babies before to ask them what contractions felt like.

First up on the call list was my Mom, who was driving up the coast from Sydney with my Dad to come visit us.  Unfortunately, her phone was off, so I left her a vague message, asking her to call me back asap.  Next was my friend Adri, but she’d just moved to the sticks where there’s barely any phone coverage, so I had to leave a cryptic message on her phone too.

By this time, I figured that if these pains were not contractions, then there must be something else majorly wrong since they were getting pretty painful.  I was trying all the tricks I’d read in the Active Birthing Book, which mainly included doing a lot of moving.  I must have looked pretty silly marching around the apartment, doing squats and horsey kicks off the kitchen table.  Good thing Andrew was in the other room, otherwise he’d have had quite a good laugh at me.

Nambour General HospitalFinally, I called the hospital, where the midwife told me to wait until the contractions were consistently 3-4 minutes apart, and then call again.  This happened quite quickly, and by 4:30pm I was calling her again, telling her I needed to come into the hospital NOW.  She said she’d get my room ready and see me soon.

The next half hour was a flurry of activity.  Andrew emailed in his last job application and called church to cancel him playing on worship team that night, I threw the last few things into my hospital suitcase, and Andrew packed his backpack.  I remember being in a lot of pain, Andrew throwing the baby carseat into the car, and then him grabbing me in a big hug in the kitchen and praying for us before getting into the car.

I grabbed my purse, and we headed down the three flights of stairs from our apartment into the car.  By 5:30pm we’d arrived at the hospital, and things were well underway.  The midwife, Alanna, checked me out and told me I was 5cm dilated.  The contractions were coming closer together, which is when I asked Andrew to grab my lime essential oil out of my hospital suitcase, which I thought was beside the bed, so I could use it to calm down and massage my legs.

Andrew was like, “Oh, did you leave your suitcase in the trunk?”  I was like, “You put the suitcase in the trunk?”  He was like, “No, did you?”

At this point, we figured out that we’d forgotten my suitcase at home… I thought I’d asked him to grab it, and he assumed I’d taken it myself, when really it was only my purse that I’d grabbed.  I started freaking out a little, upset that my lime oil was MIA, and sad that we’d have a naked baby since all his cute little outfits, blankets, and diapers were in that suitcase.  Also missing was the carefully typed up and highlighted birth-plan, which I’d worked on for weeks, and which outlined all of Andrew’s and my instructions for the various stages of labour… slightly important.

Andrew offered to drive home to get the suitcase for me, but the round trip would take nearly an hour, at which point the midwife commanded him to just stay put.  She said we wouldn’t need a thing for the next several hours and that the baby could borrow some clothes from the hospital.  So Andrew stayed, and I got over the lime oil thing and hopped in the shower for some water therapy.

What happened from then on in is a bit of a blur.  I remember vomiting, being in and out of the shower, bouncing around on an exercise ball, leaning on Andrew during contractions, and squatting ungracefully on a sparkly purple birthing stool.  A few hours later I was 8cm dilated, but my water still hadn’t broken, so Alanna pulled out these tools that looked like long chopsticks and broke my water for me.  This intensified the contractions, but there was still no baby in sight.  I was in a world of pain, and still had quite a ways to go.

Alanna’s shift was over at 11pm, so she took off and was replaced by not one, but three other midwives, since I was the only one giving birth there that night, and I guess they all wanted in on the action.  Helen was British, Sylvia was German, Stacey was Australian, and we had a Nepalese doctor pop in on us every once in a while.  Talk about an international experience  🙂

Throughout the whole thing I never once had the urge to push, so the midwives had to tell me when exactly I was meant to do that, which was a totally weird sensation.  They put me in a kind of kneeling position on the transformer bed with handles to hold onto up top, and a mirror between my knees down below so I could watch the baby’s head slowly make its appearance with each push, which was a really cool experience.

post-birthMidnight came and went, and finally at 2:22am on November 18th, our little Hugo Martin was born.  Right away the midwives passed him up between my legs to my chest so I could cuddle him to my chest while kneeling there… it was such a surreal moment, mainly because I was so tired and my lady parts had just been stretched to epicly painful proportions.

We hung out like that for a while before they flipped me over onto my back and I cut the umbilical cord.  Andrew wasn’t too keen on doing it, so I figured it would be a memorable life experience for me to do.  In the end, it wasn’t a huge deal- just felt like I was cutting the gristle off a chicken breast in the kitchen.  Speaking of no huge deals, I was completely non-emotional when Hugo came out.  I always figured I’d be bawling my eyes out at the birth of my firstborn child, but that just wasn’t the case for some reason.

After that, they took Hugo over to the little baby station in the room where they weighed him and did whatever other medical stuff they do.  Stacey the midwife asked me to guess how much he weighed… I said 7lbs, and she told me he was actually 7lbs 14oz- so nearly 8lbs.

Next it was placenta time.  They asked me if I’d like the injection to make it come out right away, but since I’d been drug-free up until then, I said I’d rather wait for it to come naturally, which it’s meant to do in about half an hour.  At one hour and 20 minutes, it was still inside me with no signs of exiting, so they gave me the shot and out it came.

Since the placenta had taken so long, they hadn’t had a good look at what damages I’d incurred during the birth, but when they examined me, it turned out I had a hematoma (burst blood vessel) on one side of my perineum that had swollen to the size of an orange, plus a second-degree tear on the other side… I was in rough shape, and was immediately wheeled down to the operating room for surgery.

Compared to giving birth, going for surgery felt like a day at the spa.  It all went well, and I was back up in the maternity ward a couple hours later, feeling much better, but drugged to the hilt.

From there they handed me my sweet baby boy, and life with little Hugo began.

We ended up staying in the hospital for four days, which is a bit longer than the average two days that the other chicks in my room seemed to be being processed through the place, but let’s just say that breastfeeding wasn’t quite as easy as it looked, and I was still healing up from surgery and on a lot of painkillers, so it worked out for the best for us stay in a bit longer.


The Name

We had plenty of girls names up our sleeves, but when we found out it was a boy at our 20-week scan, we were at a total loss for names.  Eventually we gathered a few, but nothing that particularly wowed us.

Then one day I posted my rollerblades for sale online, mainly to clear up precious closet space for the baby, and also because I didn’t think I’d be rollerblading too much throughout my pregnancy and early mom days.  The lady who came to buy them brought her two little girls along, and when I told her we were expecting a boy, she shared her top names for if she’d had boys.  Hugo was one of them, which we hadn’t even thought of before, but grew on us from that day onwards.

When we looked up the meaning, we liked the name even more.  Hugo means “brightness of mind, spirit, and heart,” which we pray will be true for him as he grows up.

His middle name, Martin, is in honour and memory of my little brother who died of cancer when we were young.


ps– A HUGE shout out to my parents who came all the way from Canada to help out after Hugo was born- I seriously could NOT have done it without them.  Meals, laundry, dishes, shopping- nothing was too much for them, and they did it all with great generosity and joy.  Plus they took us to the zoo, the markets, the beach, and heaps of other fun stuff.

heading home

Heading home from the hospital

Also, I have to mention that Andrew has been such a star throughout this whole thing… if I were writing him a report card on the last couple months, I’d give him an “exceeds expectations” in all areas- even the diaper changing  🙂

pps– A massive public thank you to the wonderful midwives at Nambour General Hospital who helped me through the birth: Alanna, Helen, Stacey, and Sylvia, and also the midwives who cared for me afterwards: Haley, Helen, Claudia, Suzie, and Tracey.  I could never in a million years have done it without them, and if/when I have another baby, I would want those exact ladies to be there again- that’s how good they were.

ppps– I got my haircut the next week- all good again.

pppps– please expect NOT to read any more posts on this site for a little while now- just found out we are moving (since Andrew got a new job), plus this post has taken me about 5 weeks to write, typing one-handed while nursing little Hugo.  Insane.


Pregnancy Update – 39 Weeks

Hey Guys,

Well, here we are at 39 weeks… Andrew and I are so pumped to welcome this little beach baby into our lives next week sometime, assuming everything goes according to plan, which it very well may NOT, but we’re not too worried about that.  If he’s late, he’s late, and that means we get more pre-baby time with my parents who have just flown all the way from Canada to Australia to meet their first grandchild.

39 weeks pregnant

39 Weeks

Everything with the pregnancy is going super well, apart from the usual little things that I guess are bound to happen somewhere along the way… sausage fingers, chubby cheeks, and swollen feet.  I’m thinking I may never be able to remove my wedding rings again, but that’s okay- I like ’em.

I was gonna show you a pic of the baby’s room, but then changed my mind since there’s not really that much to see… it doubles as Andrew’s office, so half of it is a desk, filing cabinet, etc.  Pretty boring.  We hung up a few flags and lanterns, etc, but I’m guessing once we hit our heads on them one too many times we’ll tear them down and go for something a little simpler.   😉

My official due date is November 20th, and I’m working till the 19th, which is fine with me since I think I might go a little stir crazy if I were just sitting at home for the next week.  On my days off though, I’ve been going hard trying to get heaps done at home… mainly nesting-type stuff.

nesting before baby comes

Nesting- organizing the drawers

For example, yesterday I cleaned out some drawers and got everything in there organized, went through the filing cabinet and got rid of old papers, printed my birth plan, put together my parents’ welcome to Australia folder, bought, washed, and labelled a bunch of new Tupperware, and packed my hospital bag.

Last week I washed and vacuumed the car, dusted and vacuumed the house, cleaned out the fridge, did a bunch of baby clothes laundry, bought a car that fits the baby’s carseat and stroller, baked and froze four extra batches of chocolate chick cookies, and ordered some last-minute baby stuff on Amazon.  Definite nesting in progress.

See that blue kneeling pad in the nesting pic on the right?  I just bought that for kneeling on while bathing the baby, but so far it’s come in knee-saving handy for tons of other kneeling projects.  The midwives have said that it’s good to get into the all-fours position, go swimming, etc, as it gets the baby into the right position for birthing, so kneel and crawl around I will.

computer desktop

Digital Nesting- a clean desktop at last

The biggest nesting project, however, has been what I’d call “digital nesting.”  You know how it is when your computer desktop is all cluttered with files that need to go somewhere, but you don’t really know where, and don’t have time to deal with it?

Well, it was finally time to do something about it since I don’t know when I’ll ever have a chance after the baby is born.  So I’ve spent a number of weeks organizing files, deleting old documents, and then backing up my computer every couple weeks.

The other big digital thing has been unsubscribing from those pesky daily emails you sign up for but never actually have the chance to read, so they just pile up in your inbox and annoy you.  That and deleting “friends” from Facebook who you’re not really friends with anyways, and who end up cluttering up your newsfeed with stuff that doesn’t really interest you.

I know that might sound a bit harsh, but I just want everything to be calm, uncluttered, organized, and uncomplicated when the baby comes so that I can focus 100% on being there for him, rather than my Facebook non-friends.

Fitness-wise, things are going okay.  Pretty much the only thing I’m doing is walking lots, plus being on my feet all day at work, which definitely takes it out of you at this stage of the game.  Still throwing in a few squats, butt kicks, lunges, etc, but I’m getting pretty tired, so just trying to do the best I can and not worry about it too much.

Let’s see… what else is new?  Well, today my grade 9s threw me a surprise baby shower… sneaky kids trying to get out of doing their assignments 🙂  It was so lovely of them, though.  They told me I couldn’t come into the classroom, which was kind of a dead give-away, but a few minutes later they came to collect me and yelled “surprise” when I walked through the door.  They had balloons and streamers all over the place, plus a big fruit platter, games, and presents… not too shabby.  Gonna miss those guys.

pregnancy annoucement poemOkay, one more thing… a bit of a throwback to how I told Andrew I was pregnant many moons ago.

The story is that he knew my period was late so kept on asking if I was pregnant.  I suspected I was, but wanted to surprise him if I was, so I took a pregnancy test while he was away one day, and bingo- I was up the duff.

Our 6-year anniversary was coming up that weekend, and I thought it would be so fun to surprise him with the news, so even though it was killing me not to tell him all week, I kept on concocting reasons for him that I might not be pregnant just to throw him off, and he totally fell for it.

Then, on our anniversary we went out for a nice dinner, and, after ordering, I told him I had a present for him and gave him this little envelope from Starbucks (our fav coffee place around here) with the start of a poem on the outside (first pic on the right).  He began reading it with NO idea what it might even remotely be about.

pregnancy announcement poem 2When he got to the bottom of the poem it said to open the envelope to read the rest of it, which of course filled him in on the big news (second pic on the right).

He was sooo happy and couldn’t believe it at first, which was funny since I’d already had a few days to process it all myself.

From then on we didn’t really tell anyone for a couple of months because we wanted to surprise our families and tell them over Skype on Mother’s Day, which was the end of my first trimester.

Good timing all around, first with our anniversary, and then Mother’s Day.

By the way, I totally can’t take credit for writing the poem… my friend Katie wrote it for her husband when she was pregnant with her first, and I asked her if she could resurrect it so I could borrow it.  So I guess, technically, Katie knew I was pregnant before Andrew did… oops.

Anyways, that’s the tale of telling Andrew.

I’m guessing this will be the last pregnancy update post… hopefully the next post will have a pic of a cute little bundle in it.  Soooo excited for that.


ps- I’d love to hear your thoughts on birth photography… did you have it done, are you glad, do you regret NOT having it, etc?  I’m looking into it right now, and the first quote I’ve received starts at $1200, which just isn’t gonna happen, people.  Craziness.


Pregnancy Books Not to be Missed

A few people have been asking me what books I’ve been reading to prepare for the baby (which is due in 12 days, by the way- ahhhhhh), and in looking back, I guess it’s been quite a few.  In case it’s helpful to you, here they are:


Up The Duff book
Up the Duff: the real guide to pregnancy by Kaz Cooke

This one is just for a bit of a laugh and was lent to me by my neighbor, TJ… it follows a woman’s diary who kinda does it a bit messed up… drinks a little on the side, gains 100 pounds, lazes around, etc.  I think it definitely makes the average woman feel a lot better about herself, plus giving some good tips in a Week 1-42 format.










Save Our Sleep book
Save Our Sleep: Helping Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night from Birth to Two Years

by Tizzie Hall

This book was recommended to me by our friend Drew, whose wife Jodie just had their first baby.  Drew said that they followed the sleep/feeding schedule in this book to the letter, which had their baby sleeping through the night by 3 weeks old, so of course he totally recommended it.

Turns out it’s pretty popular since I had to wait on the library reserve list for it for ages.  After reading it, I decided this is one of those books you just HAVE to actually own if you’re gonna follow it, since it’s got a bunch of by-the-minute schedules in it for the baby.  Wouldn’t want to be stuck without it.

I ended up buying it online at which ships for free all over the world.






What to Expect When You're Expecting book cover What to Expect When You’re Expecting, 4th Edition by Heidi Murkoff & Sharon Mazel

Honestly, I haven’t read this one too thoroughly yet, mainly because it seems like more of a reference book that you looks up things topic-by-topic in, rather than something you’d read cover to cover like a novel.

Lots of great info, though.  Definitely a keeper.










The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child (Sears Parenting Library)

by Dr. Sears (I forgot to take a pic of this one before returning it to the library, so click on the above link if you want to see what it looks like)

I’ve already covered this book pretty extensively in my post about baby vaccinations, so go there to check it out if you’re curious and wondering.  Basically this book goes through all the various baby vaccinations and explains what’s in them and what the risks and advantages are.  Super important info to have in order to make informed choices on vaccines.

Reading these kinds of books can be super boring, especially compared to shopping for cute baby stuff which is waaaaay more fun.  I thought it would be an important one to read though, so if you’re in the same boat but short on time, definitely check out the post I did, since I summed up the book chapter by chapter- will save you heaps of time.



The Natural Way to a Better Pregnancy book cover The Natural Way to a Better Pregnancy (Better Babies) by Francesca Naish & Janette Roberts

The naturopath at Flannerys (the health food store I shop at) highly recommended this one, so I went on a chase to find it… wasn’t easy, but finally found a used copy online.

It pretty much tells you how to have a really natural pregnancy, which is good stuff to know, but a lot of it I’d say, is common sense.

Personally, I think it went a bit overboard in some respects… like advising you not to eat too much fruit, getting your partner to stop drinking during your pregnancy (since you can’t and he should be supporting you in this way), etc.

Definitely one of those books to take a few good nuggets from and not worry excessively about the rest.






Praying Circles Around your Children book coverPraying Circles around Your Children by Mark Batterson

Got this in the mail from my Oma a few months ago, and would certainly recommend it.  Short and sweet, it makes a lot of solid points, and backs them up with examples from Mark’s own life with kids.  Andrew and I have both read it, and I think we’ll do a re-read of it next year.












Active Birth book coverActive Birth: The New Approach to Giving Birth Naturally (Non) by Janet Balaskas

If this book about giving birth could be summed up in a few words, it would be: keep upright, and keep moving.  That’s pretty much all I took from it, but it also gave a ton of background information and science on why this birthing method is better than lying on your back in a bed.











Birth Skills with Sarah Murdoch book coverJuju Sundin’s Birth Skills: Proven Pain-Management Techniques for Your Labour and Birth   by Juju Sundin and Sarah Murdoch

Like the previous book, this one is a huge advocate of birthing in an upright position, and keeping active during labor.

This book is much better though, as it gives you heaps of examples on things to do during labor to take your mind off the pain.  Basically, if you focus on the non-painful parts of your body and direct stimulus to them, it can nearly override the pain stimulus being sent to your brain from your contracting uterus.

Sounds a bit new-agey in a way, but not really, since scientifically it makes a lot of sense.  I took heaps of notes, and will definitely be trying out all of Juju’s little tricks and suggestions during my own labor and delivery sometime in the next couple weeks.  Anything to avoid that epidural (hopefully… although I’m not 100% opposed to it if I’m in crazy amounts of pain… we’ll see).



Congratulations Sunshine Coast Hospital booklet cover“Congratulations” booklet from the hospital

… a must-read so I know what time the meals will be brought by and how many maxi pads to pack in my hospital bag 😉









There you have it… hope that helps.


Pregnancy Update – 34 Weeks

Hey Guys, I just realized it’s been 7 weeks since the last official Beach Baby pregnancy update, so it’s high time I fill you in on what’s happened between then and now.  First, a pic from last week:

Busy & Fit @ 33 weeks pregnant

33 Weeks

Generally, things are still going super well… the baby is moving around TONS, and responds especially well to Andrew’s voice, guitar, and singing, which of course Andrew is thrilled about 🙂

I’m finally feeling more “pregnant”… the way I thought I’d feel all along: big, round, and bumpy.  The first half of my pregnancy when I wasn’t really showing much, I wondered if everything was alright in there… if there was actually a baby growing inside me, but now I definitely don’t doubt it.

Here are a few more details:


The Symptoms:

No matter how well a pregnancy is going, I guess there will always be a few “side effects.”  Recently mine have included getting up about 3 times a night to go to the loo, insomnia, puffy cheeks, and heartburn.

With the heartburn, a very smart friend of mine on Facebook suggested a little trick of drinking the juice of half a fresh-squeezed lemon (mixed with water) 20 minutes before eating breakfast.  I totally doubted her at first, since lemon juice is acidic, just like the lovely acid rising from my stomach to my throat, putting me in pain.  How could one type of acid possibly cancel out another?

I looked at my other options first, which included milk (hate it), health food store remedies (didn’t work), and ant-acids (didn’t want un-natural stuff in my body), and finally decided to give the lemon juice a shot, and to my surprise, it totally worked.  Not 100%, but probably 80-90%.  And I knew it wasn’t just a coincidence, because a couple times I forgot to drink it in the morning, and suffered badly that same night.

So there you have it… the lemon juice trick to solving pregnancy heartburn.

That’s about it for symptoms… thankfully there are no signs of cankles just yet, and my rings still fit.  🙂


The Baby Shower

baby shower diaper game

The finished product: suspender-style diapers

A couple weeks ago, our good friends Monica and Graeme put on a super sweet Beach Baby-themed shower for us beside the pool and palm trees of their place.  The love and effort they put into the afternoon was amazing, and we were so thankful for everyone’s generosity.

Of course with every shower comes a few games, and this was no exception.  I think the best one was the “create a diaper” game… Andrew and I were each the “model” for a team, who had to wrap us in toilet paper to create a diaper.  Needless to say, it was a teensy bit awkward repeatedly spreading our legs for our friends to pass a roll of toilet paper between, but at the same time it was a super good laugh…

… and somehow we both ended up with suspender-style diapers 🙂

There was also the “taste the baby food and guess which flavour” game, and another clever one where we had to match baby names with their country of origin, which is a lot harder than it sounds.

At the end of each game, the winner got a prize that they had to hand over to us… so more presents for the baby – yay.


The Stroller

Ahhh, the stroller.  Who knew it would be like shopping for a new car?  But I kid you not, there are a LOT of features to consider, none of which I had any CLUE about even a few months ago.

Phil & Teds Vibe stroller

This is the one we ended up getting – the Phil & Teds Vibe stroller

I never used to notice these things, but now, I could pretty much walk down the street and tell you the name-brand and style of any stroller that passes by.

A couple weeks ago I set myself the goal of purchasing a stroller by the end of the school holidays, since after that I’ll be working another six weeks, and then the baby will be born.  This was pretty much my last chance to put some thorough thought and research into it before the clock really started ticking.

Another thing is that I really wanted to buy it second-hand, since these contraptions can run well over $1000 when bought new (once you add in all the attachments, etc that you need/want).  So that threw another wrench into things as I was scouring websites looking for the perfect product, and then driving all over creation examining them at people’s houses, only to not really love any of them.

Then, to make things even a little more crazy, I posted a simple question on Facebook about which stroller to get (already having a pretty good idea in mind, but just wanting to double-check with people in-the-know).  I thought one or two people might reply, but the response was huge and probably left me with more questions than answers.

The overwhelming majority of my friends said to go with the BOB Revolution over the Phil & Teds.  So off I went to the baby store to test-drive some of these lean machines, and the people were right, the BOB is amazing.  It turns on a dime, has incredible suspension for running, and looks pretty sleek.

However, the BOB didn’t have some of the major features I was after (that the Phil & Teds did had), most importantly, the ability to attach a second seat for another child/baby (since we’re thinking of having two kids within not too long of each other), and thereby not having to buy another stroller when #2 comes along.

Also, the BOB is soooo expensive, and although I understand that a stroller is an investment in your lifestyle, it was looking like it was going to cost us about twice as much to do the BOB thing, especially since I could not find a single BOB for sale second-hand.  Weird, I know, but true.

So in the end it was looking more like a Phil & Teds, which is still good for keeping fit, but just not to the extreme running level that the BOB would offer.  So the search continued, and in the end we were able to pick up a second-hand Phil & Teds Vibe stroller that came with pretty much every attachment I was after and more: a second seat, a baby carseat/capsule that clips into the stroller and car, seat liners, a travel bag for taking the stroller on airplanes, a little carry-bed that fits into the stroller, covers for both sun and rain, and a base to make the second seat into a baby bouncy chair.

All of this for less than a third of what the chick paid for it all new, plus it’s only been used for a short while.  I was sooo happy with the purchase, and totally feel like taking the stroller for a bunch of test-drives along the beach, but am thinking that might look a little strange without there actually being a baby inside.  We’ll see… 😉

(ps- fun fact: Here in Australia they call a stroller a “pram,” which in my mind is an old British word for the same thing, so I just kept using the word stroller.  However, a “stroller” here refers to one of those cheapy umbrella strollers that you can get from Kmart for $20, so I’m having to shift my vocabulary a bit here to be understood.)


The Fitness Regimen

Pregnancy Fitness Lunges

Poolside Lunges

To be perfectly honest, the fitness side of things is slowing down a bit for me.  It seems the bigger I get, the more tired and less motivated I am.

That being said, I know I can’t quit altogether, so I’m trying to incorporate fitness into my life as much as possible, but not necessarily in the form of long workouts.

I try to sneak it in, so for example, doing squats and butt kicks while I brush my teeth, lifting some weights in between cooking dinner, doing lunges on our balcony while I wait for Andrew (if we’re going out and I’m ready first), and most recently, poolside exercises.

Now that the weather is getting a bit toastier again, the pool is the perfect place to work out, because when I get hot, I can jump in for a quick cool-off.  Plus, doing all the moves on the edge of the pool encourages good form and balance, because if I lose it, I’m in the drink 🙂

The fence behind me (in the picture) is also good for holding onto to do standing wall push-ups and butt kicks.

I wonder what the neighbors must think when they look out their windows… but whatever, in the end I don’t really care that much.

So there you have it… the full update on the pregnancy so far.  Only about six weeks to go now until Andrew and I are parents… so exciting.  Totally can’t wait.


Baby Vaccinations – Do or Die?

This post may seem slightly off-topic for a health & fitness blog, but when you think about it, vaccinations are part of health, so in case you’re interested, and in case you’re a parent (or about to become one), read on.


Conversation between Andrew and I a couple months ago:

baby vaccinations

Us at the beach, talking about the baby most likely

me: Our baby is gonna be born all precious and pure; I’m not sure I want him pumped full of chemicals (vaccinations) right away, and every couple months after that

Andrew: But don’t baby vaccinations save the kid from getting life-threatening diseases?

me: Ya, but apparently not all the ingredients in the vaccines are that healthy, and can have other side-effects

Andrew: So what are we gonna do?

me: I’m gonna RESEARCH. 

…and research I did.

It soon became glaringly obvious that there are two very strong sides to the debate, namely, pro-vaccination and anti-vaccination, and in everything they publish, they demonize the other side.

The pro-vaccine people say your child could die a horrible death of some rare disease if you don’t vaccinate (and show scary pics to back up their point), and then the anti-vaccine people say your child might develop autism, etc, if you do vaccinate.  And on and on it goes.

This makes it really tough; who do you believe?  How do you know the difference?  It was getting frustrating.

That’s when my friend Esther recommended I check out The Vaccine Book by Dr. Robert Sears, who is a pediatrician in California.  The excellent thing about this book is that it’s written by someone who’s super qualified (he sees hundreds of kids in his practice every year), and he gives both the pros and the cons of each vaccine, as well as the likelihood that your kid might actually catch the disease.

So I grabbed the book from the library (actually, I had to line up for months as it’s quite popular and always on reserve), and read the heck out of it.  Not like casual lounging by the pool reading, but sitting at my computer taking notes reading.  I wanted whatever decisions I made based on reading this book to be well-documented, so that if I ever doubt these decisions, I could go back and check my rationale without having to read the whole massive book over again.

And now, lucky for you, I’m gonna share my notes with you… just in case you’re also having the same internal debate and don’t feel like reading the whole thing.  These are the Coles Notes/Cliffs Notes, if you will.

In the book, the first 12 chapters go through the 12 most common baby vaccinations (and the diseases against which they vaccinate).  The rest of the book talks about special cases such as vaccinations for travel, etc.

If you’re just curious on what we’ve decided to do with our kid, skip to the bottom of this post where it says “What We’re Gonna Do.”

Here we go with the notes:




1. HIB (Haemophilus Infulenzae Type B); HIB Vaccine

What is this disease? 
A bacterium that can cause meningitis, blood infections, bone infections, severe throat infections, and pneumonia

Can it be treated?
Yes, most people recover well from it, but there can be some lasting after-effects

Is the disease common?
No; it is extremely rare.

When is the vaccine given?
2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 15 months

What brands of this vaccine exist?
ActHIB, PedVaxHIB, and Hiberix

Any controversial ingredients?
Yes.  Aluminum in the PedVaxHIB, and formaldehyde in the other two.  Aluminum is toxic if too much is given at once (such as in getting multiple vaccines containing it).  Formaldehyde is a carcinogen, but there is only a tiny amount of it in these vaccines.

What are the side effects?
Common ones: 25% of kids experience redness, swelling, and pain at the site of the injection, and fever occurs in about 5%
There are no known severe reactions.

PROS of getting this vaccine:
-protection from the rare chance of getting the disease
-has one of the safest side effect profiles of all vaccines
-the ingredients are purer than those in most other vaccines

CONS of getting this vaccine:
-severe cases of this disease are now extremely rare (about 25 cases per year in the US in kids under 5 years old)
-if you breastfeed your baby and it doesn’t go to group daycare, it has an even lower chance of catching this disease
-there are many other forms of Haemophilus bacteria (not type-B), which this vaccine doesn’t protect against.  Vaccinating against HIB has made the other forms increase.  This is called “strain replacement.”

Other things to consider:
-try to go for an aluminum-free brand of this vac, or at least make sure no more than ONE aluminium-containing vaccine is given in the same month
-try not to go for the Comvax or Pentacel brands


2. Pneumococcal Disease (Pc Vaccine)

What is this disease? 
Streptococcus pneumonia can cause mild colds, ear infections, pneumonia, blood-stream infections, and meningitis.  It’s transmitted like the common cold, and affects more young kids and old people.  In rare cases if it gets really severe, it can result in hearing loss or brain damage.

Is the disease common?
Yes.  However, the vaccine for it doesn’t cover the multitude of strains.  They keep coming up with new versions of the vaccine to cover new or prominent-at-the-time strains, but they can never cover all the strains.

When is the vaccine given?
2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 15 months

Any controversial ingredients?
Yes.  125 micrograms of aluminium.  Aluminum is toxic if too much is given at once (such as in getting multiple vaccines containing it).

What are the side effects?
Common ones: 25% of kids experience redness, swelling, and pain at the site of the injection, and fever occurs in about 5%.  There is also a high rate of irritability.
Severe reactions: less than 1% of children

PROS of getting this vaccine:
-protection from the fairly common chance of getting the disease (however seriously your child happens to be effected by it)
-the ingredients are comparatively safe

CONS of getting this vaccine: 
-it may add to the problem of emerging Pc strains like 19A (the vaccine created this problem in the first place)
-if you breastfeed your baby and it doesn’t go to group daycare, it has an even lower chance of catching this disease
-it doesn’t protect against 1/3 of the strains of Pc that are going around

Other things to consider:
-there is no aluminium-free brand of this vaccine yet
-make sure no more than ONE aluminium-containing vaccine is given in the same month


3. Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (DTaP Vaccine)

What are these 3 diseases? 
Diphtheria is a very serious throat infection, irritating the throat and upper lungs, causing severe coughing and breathing difficulty.  Often caught after traveling to a developing nation.

Tetanus is an infectious disease caused by bacterium that lives in soil, dirty rusty metal, unsterile needles, intestines of animals, and in their stool.  You can get it from deep and dirty wounds, surgery, burns, crush wounds, dental infections, animal bites, minor wounds, scrapes, self-piercing, and tattoos.  It can either be local (in one area) or general (spread to the rest of the body), and can range from minor to extremely severe.

Pertussis (aka whooping cough) is a bacterium that infects the upper lungs.  It seems like a common cold for the first few weeks, then worsens into severe coughing (30 seconds to 2 minute spells) with breathing difficulty.

Is the disease common?
Diphtheria- no.  Last reported case in the US was in 2003.
Tetanus- no.  Only about 1 case in kids under 5 in the US per year.
Pertussis- yes.  There are thousands of cases each year, but the numbers rise and fall in about a 5-year cycle.  The vaccine is only about 85% protective, so pertussis cannot be eradicated like some other diseases in the world have been.

When is the vaccine given?
2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 18 months, 4-6 years, and 12 years.  New moms and dads can get it too (Tdap) so they won’t catch Pertussis they won’t pass it along to their baby.

Any controversial ingredients?
Yes.  Aluminum, which is toxic if too much is given at once (such as in getting multiple vaccines containing it).  Formaldehyde, which is toxic and a carcinogen, but there is only a tiny amount of it in these vaccines.  Polysorbate 80, glutaraldehyde, and 2-phenoxyethanol, which are toxic in large amounts, but probably harmless in this vaccine.  Mercury in the Tetanus (alone) vaccine and the DT vaccine.  Make sure your doc uses the low-mercury single-dose vials and not the 15-dose vial with 25 micrograms of mercury.

What are the side effects?
Mild side effects in about 25% of children.  One in a million have severe allergic reactions.  The older version of this vaccine, the whole-cell DTP had much more severe reactions (like brain injury).  This has been replaced by DTaP in the mid-1990s is much safer.

PROS of getting this vaccine:
-Pertussis is a common disease, and is most serious in the first 6 months of life
-Diptheria is a very dangerous disease, although it is extremely rare in the developed world.  It is, however, a potential hazard during international travel
-Tetanus is very serious when, in a rare case, it occurs in a child (although it is not a disease of infancy)

CONS of getting this vaccine: 
-there is no vaccine for just the P part of the DTaP vaccine (Pertussis), which is the most likely threat to children (much more-so than the D and T (diphtheria and tetanus)
-the child could however skip the DTaP at birth, and then just get the DT series prior to age 7, or the dT series as a teenager before traveling the world

Other things to consider:
-try not to go for the Pediarix or Kinrix combo vaccines due to their higher aluminium content
-Petnacel and TriHIBit are good combo choices
-use a brand with a lower amount of aluminium.  Tripedia, who made this lower-aluminum-content vaccine recently stopped making it, though
-the actual amounts of the chemicals are like a drop in a bucket


4. Hepatitis B (Hep B Vaccine)

What is this disease? 
Hep B is an STD that causes liver damage and can be fatal.  You can get it thru sex, accidental needle sticking, or unclean tattoo needles.   You can also get it from blood transfusions, although this is extremely rare as all donated blood is tested.

Is the disease common?
No, not among infants and young children, and most who do get it, get it at birth from their undiagnosed Hep B-postivie mother (during delivery).

When is the vaccine given?
At birth, 1 month, and 6 months.  Unless the baby is born to a Hep B-postive mother, the baby really doesn’t need this vaccine at birth, so be sure to tell the hospital your wishes beforehand.

Any controversial ingredients?
Yes.  250 micrograms of aluminium per dose, and a small amount of formaldehyde in the REcombivax HB/Merck brand.

What are the side effects?
Local injection site reactions occur in under 10% of people.  Fever, headache, and fatigue occur in up to 10% of kids.  More bothersome reactions occur in less than 1% of babies.  Severe reactions are one in a million.
Overall this vaccine is generally safe, but reactions in newborns are more worrisome.
Lots of post-marketing surveillance reactions (see the book for the full list, but they’re not good)

PROS of getting this vaccine:
-the ingredients don’t include any animal tissues
-recommended for any teens or adults who have various sexual partners, and for any health care or emergency workers who will come into contact with patients’ blood

CONS of getting this vaccine: 
-most babies and children are at very low risk of catching Hep B
-can be delayed in the first few months while other, more important, vaccines are being given (pertussis and meningitis)
-teenagers who choose abstinence until marriage could skip this vaccine completely


5. Rotavirus (Rotavirus Vaccine)

What is this disease? 
Rotavirus is an intestinal virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea.  You get it by coming in contact with stools or saliva of an infected person.  It is resistant to disinfectant cleaning solutions and antibacterial hand soap.  Only strong antiseptic or alcohol solution kills the germ (such as hand sanitizer).  Cases vary a lot in severity, but can get very severe.

Is the disease common?
Yes.  By 3, most kids will have caught rotavirus at least once, especially during fall and winter weather, and they are much more susceptible if they are in group daycare.  About 2 million people around the world get it each year.

When is the vaccine given?
2 months, 4 months, and 6 months, and is given by mouth as a liquid.

Any controversial ingredients?
Yes.  Monkey kidney cells, feral cow blood, Polysorbate 80, and pig virus contaminants.

What are the side effects?
Fever in about 20% of infants, vomiting and diarrhoea in 10%, and poor feeding in 25%.  Also, temporary intestinal symptoms can occur.  Severe reactions are rare, and this vaccine is very safe overall.
It is a live-virus vaccine.

PROS of getting this vaccine:
It’s not a question of if, but of when your baby will catch this disease, and how severe they will get it.  It can be a very serious disease for infants in their first year of life.

CONS of getting this vaccine: 
-infants who are breastfed and not in group daycare have a fairly low chance of catching Rotavirus in the first year of their life
-fatalities from this disease are rare in developed countries
-the animal products used to make the vaccine may concern some parents (but they are most likely nothing to worry about)
-it’s a live-virus vaccine, so it can cause a bit of a reaction
-babies with SCID (severe combined immunodeficiency disease) should not get this vaccine as it can cause severe reactions


6. Polio (Polio Vaccine)

What is this disease? 
Polio is a virus that is transmitted like the common cold or flu.  Some people just get a sore throat and fever without knowing they’ve got the virus, and it goes away.  However, if the virus invades the nervous system, it causes muscle weakness and paralysis.

Is the disease common?
No.  There have been no cases of polio in the USA since 1985.  There are a couple thousand cases per year in parts of Asia and Africa.

When is the vaccine given?
2 months, 4 months, and 18 months, and 5 years

Any controversial ingredients?
Yes.  Baby cow blood serum, human albumin (blood proteins), glutamate (component of MSG), formaldehyde (100 micrograms), 2-phenoxyethanol, and monkey kidney cells

Combo Vaccines
You can get the polio vaccine combined with DTaP and either HIB or Hep B.  Pentacel brand is okay.  Pediarix and Kinrix have more aluminium in them than most, so not as good a choice.

What are the side effects?
Redness or swelling in less than 10% of kids.  No severe reactions reported (as happened occasionally in older versions of this vaccine).  However, the safety study size was extremely small (1300 infants).

PROS of getting this vaccine:
-although polio has been eradicated in North America, Europe, and South America, it has resurged in some Asian countries in recent years, and there is always a chance of it popping up again in the developed world (through immigration, etc)
-one of the safest vaccines in terms of side effects

CONS of getting this vaccine: 
-the use of animal products may make some parents hesitant on this vaccine
-polio no longer exists in the developed world (however, consider overseas travel before not getting this vaccine)


7. Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR Vaccine)

What are these 3 diseases? 
Measles is a virus that is transmitted like the common cold.  It causes a fever, rash (red, round bumps all over the body), red eyes, runny nose, and cough.  About 1 in 1000 cases is fatal, with complications including encephalitis (brain inflammation), and severe pneumonia

Mumps is a virus that causes fever and swelling of the saliva gland in the cheeks (right in front of the ears).  It is usually quite mild in kids, but can be moderate or severe, which involves fever, body aches, swelling of the testicles or ovaries that can sometimes result in fertility problems down the road.

Rubella is similar to measles and mumps in that it gives you fever and a rash, and can also cause aching joints and swollen glands.  It is transmitted like the common cold, and and is generally really mild.  If a pregnant woman catches rubella, it can cause birth defects in her fetes.

Is the disease common?
Measles– No, not anymore.  About 50-100 cases in the USA reported per year.

Mumps– No.  Only about 250 cases in the last 10 years in the USA.  However, random and large outbreaks can and have occurred.  The childhood vaccine wears off by adulthood, so it’s important to get booster shots for it.

Rubella– No.  Only about 250 cases per year, universally.

When is the vaccine given?
12 months and 5 years (booster).  It is a live-virus vaccine… in this case, a triple live-virus vaccine.

Any controversial ingredients?
Yes.  Cow fetes serum, chick embryo proteins, DNA and protein fragments from human feral cells, and glutamate

Combo Vaccines available
ProQuad combines MMR and chickenpox vaccines, but not recommended due to higher rates of seizure reactions

What are the side effects?
Common side effects: Fever in 20%, and mild rash in 5%
Severe reactions: there are quite a few, but the most serious are arthritis and neurological reactions, which are quite rare.

PROS of getting this vaccine:
-there are some possibly serious effects to the 3 diseases if you get them
-getting it is important for general public health- so others don’t get these 3 diseases
-if you delay the vaccine, the potential for severe side effects increases once a child enters puberty, so getting the vaccine no later than age 10 is recommended

CONS of getting this vaccine: 
-the diseases are mild and rare
-the potential side effects, although rare, can be serious, and this vaccine has the longs and most serious list of reported reactions
-it is the most controversial of all the vaccines when it comes to possible side effect, as the product insert doesn’t list how common or how rare many of these reactions are, or how many children were involved in the safety research
-in very rare cases, the measles virus (live vaccine) can cause an infectious and/or autoimmune reactions that severely affects the brain
-the cow blood products and human and animal tissues in this vaccine can be a concern to parents
-since they are live-virus vaccines, they don’t mimic nature, as you’d never catch all 3 of these diseases at once, and this can increase the risk of side effects
-although it’s not been proven, many parents see a link between the MMR vaccine and autism, as many children seem “normal” before one, but then develop autism in their second year of life (after their 12-month shots)

Other things to consider:
-you could choose to get only one dose of this vaccine instead of also having the booster at age 5, since one dose works perfectly fine in 95% of children (the booster is just to ensure immunity in the 5% of kids who didn’t respond to the first dose)
-the 3 vaccines used to be available separately, but they stopped manufacturing them.  Worth checking into where you live, though
-consider delaying this vaccine until after the time susceptible for autism (after 2?… see page 265)


8. Chickenpox (Varicella Vaccine)

What is this disease? 
Chickenpox is a virus that causes fever and spots all over the body, and is easily recognised by the pattern of these spots.  It is transmitted like the common cold.  Severe complications are rare.

Is the disease common?
No, not anymore.  There’s been about a 75% decrease since the vaccination began.

When is the vaccine given?
12 months and 5 years (booster).  It is a live-virus vaccine.

Any controversial ingredients?
Yes.  MSG (0.5 milligrams), DNA and proteins from human cells, and cow fetes serum and animal cells.

Combo Vaccines available
ProQuad combines MMR and varicella vaccines, but is not recommended due to higher rate of seizure reactions.

What are the side effects?
Common side effects: injection site reactions in 20% of kids, fever in 15%, and mild rash in about 4%.
Severe reactions: severe inflammation of the lungs in 1 in 100-1000 kids, and seizures due to fever in fewer than 1 in 1000.
Also, lots of possible post-marketing side effects have been reported.

PROS of getting this vaccine:
-chickenpox sucks
-if you’re vaccinated and still get it, at least it will be milder
-if your kid gets it, they’ll have to miss school for a week, which means you’ll have to miss work for a week ($ issue)
-public health benefit- if your kid is vaccinated, along with most other kids, the occurrence of disease will be much lower

CONS of getting this vaccine: 
-chickenpox is usually harmless in the long run
-catching this disease provides better immunity (not to catch it again) than the vaccine provides
-some parents are sketched out by the ingredients in the vaccine, and how it’s made

Other things to consider:
-1 dose is usually enough to develop immunity (don’t necessarily need 2 doses)
-good idea to get this vaccine at a separate time than other live-virus vaccines (eg- MMR)
-many parents view this as an optional vaccine
-acyclovir treatment is available if your child does catch chickenpox


9. Hepatitis A (Hep A Vaccine)

What is this disease? 
Hep A is a virus that attacks the liver and causes temporary liver inflammation, which result in symptoms similar to the stomach flu, and often jaundice (yellow skin and eyes).  It is transmitted through stools (poo), such as when a daycare worker doesn’t wash their hands after changing an infected child’s diaper, and then touches other kids, food, etc.  Also, if you don’t wash your hands after using a washroom that an infected person has used, and then go eat your lunch, etc.  Beaches can spread Hep A by sewage runoff.  In developing countries, water supplies are often infected with this virus because of poor sewage treatment.  Can also be passed through blood transfusions (very rarely) or sharing drug needles.

Is the disease common?
Sort of.  About 10,000 cases in the US each year, mainly in kids between 5-14.

When is the vaccine given?
12 months, and 18-24 months (booster).

Any controversial ingredients?
Yes.  Aluminum (225-250 micrograms), formaldehyde, cow blood proteins (in the Vaqta brand by Merck), human cell proteins and DNA, and 2-phenoxyethanol and polysorbate 20 in the Havrix brand by GlaxoSmithKline)

What are the side effects?
Common side effects: 15% have local reactions at the site of injection, and fever, fatigue, and loss of appetite occur in about 10%
Severe reactions: seizures in 1% of infants
Also, numerous post-marketing reactions

PROS of getting this vaccine:
-it is well-tolerated by most people
-the disease can be very challenging to go thru as a teenager or adult
-provides protection for traveling to developing countries where Hep A is more common
-especially good for people with chronic liver diseases as catching Hep A would be ultra serious for them

CONS of getting this vaccine: 
-the seizure rate is higher in infants, so good to postpone this vaccine until at least 2 years old
-Hep A is virtually harmless for kids
-some parents may be concerned by the chemical ingredients, human cells, and cow blood proteins in this vaccine

Other things to consider:
-since it contains aluminium, it might be a good idea to get it at a separate time than other aluminium-containing vaccines
-as the seizure rate was higher in infants (in the safety study), it might be a good idea to wait until at least age 2 to get this vaccine


10. Influenza Disease (Flu Vaccine)

What is this disease? 
The flu is a virus which has many different strains.  It is transmitted like the common cold and causes fever, headache, body ache, are throat, vomiting, diarrhoea, stuffiness, coughing, etc.  It is uncomfortable, but passes, usually without further complications.

Is the disease common?
Yes.  It is the most common illness that we have a vaccination for, and there are millions of cases each year.

When is the vaccine given?
6 months (2 doses), 18 months, 2-18 years (given each year at the start of flu season).

Any controversial ingredients?
Yes.  Mercury in most brands (25 micrograms), formaldehyde (small amount so probably harmless), and many other chemical in small amounts that are generally regarded as safe.
Fluarix and Agriflu brands are mercury-free.  FluLaval brand has a full mercury dose in it.  With the other brands (Fluzone, Fluvirin, and Afluria), it depends on the formulation.  The nasal spray vaccine never has mercury in it.

What are the side effects?
Common side effects: typical flu symptoms can happen after the vaccine, and injection site reactions occur in about 1/3 of people.  About half of infants show irritability, and 20% show fever, drowsiness, loss of appetite, vomiting, or diarrhoea.
Severe reactions: Febrile seizures can occur, but the risk is low enough that this vaccine continues to be recommended
Post-marketing reactions: there are tons of bad reactions that could happen/have been reported, but are very rare.

PROS of getting this vaccine:
-high-risk groups (such as the elderly, and those with chronic medical problems) really benefit from the flu vaccine since catching the flu will effect them a lot more than the average person
-if you live with someone with poor health, getting the vaccine will protect you, and in turn, protect them
-missing work due to the flu (or staying home with your child who has the flu) can be hard, financially
-preventing the flu decreases the chance of ear infections

CONS of getting this vaccine: 
-the high incidence of flu-like symptoms after getting the shot
-babies who are breastfed and not in group daycare are less susceptible to catching the flu (and other illnesses)
-the number of infant deaths due to the flu is very low
-the flu vaccine has more chemicals (apart from mercury) than most other vaccines
-one large study shows that this vaccine doesn’t work for kids under 2 anyways, so better to wait until age 2 to start (if at all)
-mercury isn’t healthy for anyone’s brain, especially in a developing one (like a baby’s)
-not all brands of the vaccine have been properly safety-tested (only tested for creating antibodies)
-there are several strains of the flu each year, so being vaccinated against one strain doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get another strain of the flu (which you weren’t vaccinated against)


11. Meningococcal Disease (Meningococcal Vaccine)

What is this disease? 
This bacterium causes an infection that runs through the bloodstream to body organs and can spread to the brain, causing meningitis.  It is transmitted like the common cold, and is always very serious.  There are several strains, the most common one being Type B, against which an effective vaccine has not been developed.

Is the disease common?
Around 3000 cases per year in the US.  Most cases are in kids aged 6 months – 2 years, and are mostly Type B (no vaccine for this type).

When is the vaccine given?
At age 11 or 12, with a booster vaccine 5 years later.

Any controversial ingredients?
Yes.  Formaldehyde, but only 0.3 micrograms of it, which is harmless.  Apart from that, this is one of the purest vaccines available.

What are the side effects?
Common side effects: injection site reactions in about 50% of people, headaches in 35%, ill feelings in 25%, joint aches in 20%, drowsiness, irritability, or loss of appetite in about 10% of kids, and fever in 5% (rare).
Severe reactions: possible association with temporary muscle weakness or paralysis

PROS of getting this vaccine:
-this disease is devastating, and the vaccine protects you
-there are about 250 teenage and college-age cases per year
-the ingredients are very pure and simple

CONS of getting this vaccine: 
-the unclear association with temporary paralysis
-the standard side effects are more common with this vaccine than with many others
-the disease isn’t very common
-you can delay this shot (and then only get one dose) until high school (instead of age 11 or 12) as high school and college are the riskiest years for this disease to occur, and many teens lose their immunity from the first dose (age 11-12) anyways, so why bother?
-kids as young as 9 months can now get this vaccine, however it’s not recommended as much more safety research needs to be done


12. Human Papillomavirus Disease (HPV Vaccine)

What is this disease? 
This virus has many strains, and can cause genital warts and cervical cancer.  It is transmitted through unprotected sex.

Is the disease common?
Most sexually active people carry this virus by the time they’re in their early 20s; it is the most common STD in the US, with about 20 million people becoming infected with it each year.

When is the vaccine given?
11-12 years old, with two more doses given within 8 months of the first dose.

Any controversial ingredients?
Yes, aluminium (225 micrograms), but since the child is not a baby when receiving this vaccine, it shouldn’t effect them.

What are the side effects?
Common side effects: injection site reactions are common- 80% experience pain at the injection site for several hours, 50% show redness, swelling, headache, fatigue, muscles aches, and joint pain, and 25% experience nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
Severe reactions: severe injection site reactions occur in about 10% of kids, which is much more common than with any other vaccine, but usually pass without problems.  There are numerous other severe and post-marketing reactions listed in the book, such as autoimmune reactions.

PROS of getting this vaccine:
-it decreases the risk of cervical cancer and prevents genital warts
-even for people who don’t have sex before marriage, it can protect them from contracting HPV if their spouse didn’t wait until marriage and carries this virus

CONS of getting this vaccine: 
-it is a fairly new vaccine
-no one is sure how long the immunity from the vaccine actually lasts
-this vaccine only protects against the most common strains of HPV, and does not protect against other STDs, and teens could develop a false sense of security from getting this vaccine, thinking they are immune to all STDs now
-the vaccine is not without risk

Other things to consider:
-go for the Gardasil brand over the Cervarix brand as it protects against more strains of the HPV virus


Vaccines for Travel

-you don’t need to be vaccinated to fly within North America
-you don’t need to be vaccinated to fly on an airplane at all (even with sick people aboard)
-if you are traveling internationally, especially to Africa, Asia, and South America, and if you’ll be staying for a longer period of time and your kids will be interacting with local kids, you should always check the CDC’s recommendations at

-the life-threatening diseases that your kids should be vaccinated against when doing this kind of overseas travel are:
-meningococcal disease

-non-life-threatening diseases overseas which are a good idea to be vaccinated against are:
-Hep B
-Hep A


Special Vaccines for Travel

Yellow Fever– this occurs mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, and tropical parts of South America.  Babies 9 months and older can get this vaccine, but it can have serious side-effects since it’s a live vaccine (so it can cause an actual infection).

Typhoid Fever– this is contracted through contaminated water and food in developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Central/South America.  It is treatable with antibiotics.  Babies can get the vaccine at 2 years and up.  The vaccine is only 50-80% effective in preventing this disease, so many people choose not to get it.

Japanese Encephalitis– this is spread by mosquitoes in Southeast Asia, China, India, and eastern Russia.  Most people who catch it don’t notice any symptoms, but those who do suffer severe neurological problems, and about 1 in 3 people will die.  Good idea to get this shot if you’re traveling to these countries and doing a lot of outdoorsy stuff like camping during mosquito season, however, it can have quite unpleasant side effects (in about 1 in 200 people who get the vaccine).


Vaccines and Autism

-many parents are concerned that vaccines (especially those containing mercury, and the MMR vaccine) cause autism
-there are several studies to show that this isn’t true, and several that show it’s quite likely.  However, none of these studies are perfect as they are often funded by groups that have a vested interest (ie- money), or are not published in peer-reviewed journals
-so really, the jury is still out on this issue, but Dr. Sears believes that “the majority of mainstream research does not show a link between vaccines and autism”


Aluminum in Vaccines

-direct quote from the book:  “There is good evidence that large amounts of aluminium are harmful to humans.  There is no solid evidence that the amount of aluminium in vaccines is harmful to human infants and children.  There is considerable animal research that shows it may be harmful.  No one has actually studied vaccine amounts of aluminium in healthy human infants to make sure it is safe.”
-he goes on to say that to be safe, ask your Dr. for vaccines that don’t contain/are low in aluminium.  If they don’t have them, ask them to order them in.  Be a pain.


Mercury in Vaccines

-mercury (aka thimerosal) used to be in several vaccines, and around 2000, it was discovered that the amount in the routine vaccine schedule exceed known safety limits (there was 87 times too much mercury in vaccines)
-now, most vaccines do not contain mercury, apart from some brands of the flu shot, and also some multi-dose forms of tetanus, DT, and Td vaccines (but are rarely used)


Formaldehyde in Vaccines

-is used as a preservative in several vaccines (just like it was for the animals/eyeballs you dissected in Biology) 🙂
-used in very small amounts in vaccines, so is probably okay
-the only research really available is about inhaled formaldehyde, not injected


What We’re Gonna Do

Here is what we are leaning towards… nothing is set in stone yet, but this is what we are comfortable with, based on the above facts/research:


Vaccines our baby WILL get:

DTaP, but will not to go for the Pediarix or Kinrix combo vaccines due to their higher aluminium content (Petnacel and TriHIBit are good combo choices, but that means we’d be vaccinating against DTaP and HIB as well, which I don’t think we will (see the “no” list below), so we’ll probably just go for the DTaP vaccine on its own)

Meningococcal (but this isn’t a baby vaccine, so will wait till 11-12 years old)

Vit K (but this isn’t technically a vaccine)


Vaccines our baby WON’T get:

(if we put him in daycare before age 2, or can’t breastfeed for some reason, these will definitely be re-thought)

HIB (If we travel to a lot of developing countries, we might change our mind on this one, and if we do, it will have to be an aluminium-free brand of this vaccine)

Pc (if we do, we will make sure no more than ONE aluminium-containing vaccine is given in the same month)

Hep B (if we do, it can be delayed in the first few months while other, more important, vaccines are being given (pertussis and meningitis)

Rotavirus (unless we put him into daycare in the first couple years… then we’ll probably change our mind)

Polio (unless we decide to travel to Asia and Africa quite a lot… then we’ll think about it)

MMR (if we do, we could choose to get only one dose of this vaccine instead of also having the booster at age 5, since one dose works perfectly fine in 95% of children (the booster is just to ensure immunity in the 5% of kids who didn’t respond to the first dose).  We would also consider delaying this vaccine until after the time susceptible for autism (after age 2), and also in time for going to school, so probably just one dose around age 4 or 5.  Also, if we are traveling overseas to developing countries a lot, we might go for this one)

Chickenpox (and if we do, 1 dose is usually enough to develop immunity (don’t necessarily need 2 doses), and it’s a good idea to get this vaccine at a separate time than other live-virus vaccines (eg- MMR, which is on our “no list” anyways)

Hep A (and if we do, we’ll do it when the kid is at least 2 years old, and probably only if we travel to developing countries with him.  Also, since this vaccine contains aluminium, it might be a good idea to get it at a separate time than other aluminium-containing vaccines, most of which we won’t get anyways, so moot point there)


HPV (and if we do, we’ll go for the Gardasil brand over the Cervarix brand as it protects against more strains of the HPV virus)


Vaccines we’re not quite sure about yet:

-Rotavirus (I’ve put it down as a “no” above, but not for sure)


Precautions to take if you don’t vaccinate

To help your kids stay ultra-healthy and minimize their risk of catching these diseases…

-feed them natural, whole foods (try for organic), limit junk food and sugar, get plenty of exercise and outdoor play, and take immune-boosting supplements such as Vit D, fish oil, and fruit-veg-berry supplements

-breastfeed for at least one year (two years is even better)

-don’t put them in daycare and nurseries for the first 2 years, and avoid large playgroups

-keep your kids home if they’re sick so they don’t spread it around (in case they’ve got a sickness they’ve not been vaccinated against.  Take them to the Dr. right away for a diagnosis)


Any thoughts on baby vaccinations?  Leave them in the comments below- I’d love to hear what you think.


Pregnancy Update – 27 weeks

Heaps of people have been asking how the pregnancy is going, so I thought I’d do a quick post on it, seeing as a lot of my friends and family are overseas… always good to keep everyone in the loop.

27 weeks pregnant

The last few weeks

So… here’s the the main news: Everything has been bobbing along just fine.

The only thing that has been not so great is acid reflux, which I think is called “heartburn” in pregnancy.  In actuality, it’s not exactly my heart that’s burning, but higher up- like in my esophagus and throat region, especially when I lie down.

The closest thing I can compare it to is when you have a shot of hard alcohol and you get that warm, burning sensation as it goes down… except this is really unpleasant, and it’s on its way up, not down.

The midwife said to drink some milk for it, but I hate milk, so that’s a no-go.  The naturopath said to try slippery elm bark powder and apple cider vinegar (not mixed together), both of which haven’t helped so far.

At 27 weeks I’m finally showing… actually have been for the past 3 or 4 weeks, so that’s good.

We haven’t bought anything for the baby yet, mainly because we don’t have a lot of space to store stuff… we’ll have to do a major closet clean-out and organize stuff soon.

Let’s see, what else?  Well, I’ve been thinking a lot about baby vaccinations and whether or not they’re all necessary and healthy, so I’ve been committing a LOT of time to researching that.  I know it’s a contentious issue, so I’ve been taking lots of notes and will post my findings here, if that would be helpful to anyone.

I’ve been working out still, but definitely not to the level I was at before the pregnancy… not that I’m slack, but I just can’t.  Running is out, and so is doing most abs exercises (which you’re not supposed to do in your 2nd and 3 trimester anyways).  You can see a bit more about that on the last pregnancy workout video I did.

So, fitness-wise it’s been a lot of power-walking and some weight training for my arms and legs using the free weights I have at home, plus my snazzy new yellow Equalizer.  I definitely feel and sleep a lot better when I work out, just like before, so trying to keep it up as much as possible, but it’s hard when you’re working lots plus feeling tired from being 6 months pregnant.  Still, no excuses, right?  Well, not quite, but that’s what I’ve been telling myself.  😉

I read a really encouraging interview with Jamie Eason, a fitness model and fitness writer, who just gave birth to her first child a couple weeks ago.  She was talking about what she did during her pregnancy, and basically how she kept pretty fit, but didn’t over-do it either.  It made me feel like I’m somewhat on the right track.  If you’re interested, you can read it here.

Two more things…

The first is a bit of a rant, which has to do with people (and by that I mean pretty much EVERYONE) asking “have you thought of any names yet?”  What the heck am I supposed to say to that?  “Yes.”?  (end of conversation, which is lame).  Or “Ya, here’s a list of our top 10.”?  Seriously people, PRIVATE.  As in none-of-your-business.

I know people are probably just excited and don’t know what else to ask about a pregnancy, so I’m not getting all bent out of shape about it, but it just gets me every time someone asks.

So now you’re probably wondering if we have thought of any names?  😉  The answer is yes, we’ve spent lots of time looking online, and almost every name is either a) weird,  b) the name of a bad boy we’ve taught, or c) a good name for a dog.  We’ve got a shortlist of about 5 names that are possibilities, but nothing concrete, and probably won’t be till we get a good look at him after he’s born.

The other thing… and this is minor, is that I’m sorta mourning the loss of my cute iny belly button.  It’s now sticking half-out as my stomach gets bigger… hoping that’ll all fold itself back in after he’s born.

Anyways, there you have it… 27 weeks down, 13 to go.  Kind of scary how fast it’ll go when you think of it like that.  Super excited though.

Pregnancy Workouts for Legs, Butt, and Lower Body

Alrighty… get yourself ready for Pregnancy Workouts #2.  (In case you missed #1 for Arms & Upper Body, you can find it at Pregnancy Exercises #1).

Today’s workout focuses on getting your legs and lower body strong and ready for delivery, plus tones up your little tushy.  Watch the video for a quick intro and the correct form, and then do the 8 exercises 12 times each (and repeat the list 3x).  See the list below the video.



Pregnancy Workouts – Today’s 8 moves:

1) pelvic lifts

2) squats (with fitball between you and wall for support if needed)

3) forward-walking lunges

4) can-can legs in crab-walk position (keep legs very straight in the air)

5) step back, kick forward lunges

6) kick the sky

7) donkey kicks

8) mountain climbers (slow and light)

(Remember, NO high impact stuff like jumping jacks, skipping, etc from 2nd trimester on)


More News…

23 weeks pregnant

Last week- 23 weeks pregnant

Just to keep you updated on my own pregnancy, I’m about 5 months along now (24 weeks), and feeling great.  Still not massively huge, but getting a little bigger week by week.

I can totally feel Little Mr. kicking up a storm in there, especially today.  Feels so cool.

The only real pregnancy “symptom” I’m experiencing is some heartburn when I lie down, so I paid a visit to my local health food store today to see what they could wheel & deal me that would help.  I came back with a pouch of slippery elm powder and some apple cider vinegar… hopefully those’ll do the trick.

Last night I gave my skinny jeans a bit of a “farewell tour.”  Not that they buttoned up anymore, but no one had to know that since I was wearing a long shirt over top.  It’s all lyrca from here on in, though.

Good thing I get to wear stretchy shorts and track pants to work (teaching PE) every day.  Would not want to be going out and dropping a fortune on stacks of dressy work clothes that I’m only gonna be wearing for a few more months.

So that’s me for now… any questions or comments- go nuts in the comment section below 🙂


Lebert Equalizer Total Body Strengthener

Pregnancy Exercises for Arms & Upper Body

So I promised to start posting some pregnancy exercises / workout videos a few weeks ago… and have finally gotten around to filming the first one, which is for your arms and upper body.  Stay tuned for the next videos on Legs, Butt, and Lower Body, Core Workouts for Pregnancy, and Total Body Workouts.

By the way, these videos will be good for you even if you’re not pregnant since they’re pretty low-impact.  If you’re looking for more of a sweat/challenge (because you’re not pregnant), check out my previous videos free workout videos.



As always, make sure you’ve got clearance from your doctor before exercising while pregnant, and if something doesn’t “feel right,” stop immediately.  For me it’s sometimes a tightness or “pulling” kind of feeling in my uterus/abdomen when I’m engaging my core too much.  This is my sign to stop, but yours might be something different, so remember listen to your body.

Also, remember that pregnancy is not a time to get super fit.  You should definitely keep exercising and make healthy choices, but don’t be signing up for the next marathon or Cross Fit competition.  Put your baby first.

Here are the pregnancy exercises in today’s video.  Do each exercise 12x, and go thru the list 3x in total.  Watch the video for the correct form.

1) bicep curls (with weights)
2) arm T-raises (lateral raises)
3) tricep extensions (bent over, and pushing back behind you)
4) bent over row with overhand grip (not underhand)
5) push-ups (and then on your knees later on in pregnancy so you don’t bump your bump), or using the Equalizer
6) triceps dips off of floor, chair or Equalizer

Lebert Equalizer

Gender Reveal Party

So I know we said we weren’t gonna reveal the baby’s gender (and weren’t even sure if we were gonna find out ourselves)… but in a rapid turn of events, both have happened.  If you’re curious, check out this video clip from our gender reveal party yesterday.  Fun times.



Thanks to everyone who was there for all your support and laughter.


Big Announcement

Well, I guess it’s finally time to come clean and officially announce that I’m pregnant 🙂

13-week ultrasound pic

13-week ultrasound pic

We’ve been a bit slow in telling everyone just because we wanted to wait to get thru that first trimester to make sure everything was cooking alright in there (which it was/is), and then we wanted to tell our families in Canada over Skype, and then I had to tell my work… so internet-land is pretty much the last to find out.

It’s amazing how human-ish it already looks at 13 weeks, eh?  I’m 17 weeks now, and I can’t wait for the next scan (around 20 weeks) to see how much it’s grown.

7 weeks

7 weeks… bikini time

The funny this is that I’m not really showing much, like no obvious baby bump (unless I’m naked), so sometimes I’m afraid people totally won’t believe me when I tell them I’m pregnant, especially since I’m nearly half-way through.

The pic on the right is of me at 7 weeks… in the more recent one I have some nasty bed-head going on, so that’s NOT going online anytime soon.  I’ll post a 17 or 18-week one when I get around to it.

The due date is November 20th, so it will work out almost perfectly with the school year ending here in Australia… it means I can teach almost right up until the end of the year, and then Andrew will be off and have the summer holidays off to hang out for 6 weeks.

We’re definitely hoping that some family, especially my mom, can come down when the baby is first born to help us out and show us the ropes.  She’s done it 6 times before, so she would know all the tricks of the trade.

So what does this mean for fitness, and for this website?

Well, I’m still gonna keep it fitness-focused (as per the name of the site), and not change it into some mommy-blog (nothing against them; that’s just not what this is).  Of course I’ll be posting some workouts for pregnant chicks, as I’ve been doing a lot of research in this area lately.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be filming anymore high impact interval training workouts for the rest of this year, as it’s not agreeing with my body during my 2nd trimester, but I’ll still be posting healthy recipes, etc.  If you need a high intensity workout, check out some of my previous free workout videos to keep you going for the time being.

On another note, Andrew and I feel like this is the perfect timing for us… we’ve been married for over 6 years now, have had heaps of time to travel together and get to know each other super well, and have had a good stab at our careers.  Also, Andrew finishes his Masters next week, so will have a lot more free time then.

Even though we’d still like to travel way more, we thought now would be a good time to start a family because if we wait any longer, we’ll be grandparent-aged.  Oh well, this kid will have to be content with being traipsed around the world, because that’s probably what will end up happening.

Any questions or comments, I’d be happy to hear from you.  🙂


pregnancy questions and answers