Saturday, March 29, 2014

Ironman and childbirth - the same thing?

Let me precede this by acknowledging the fact I do not have a competitive bone in my body.  The likelihood of me ever even wanting to do an Ironman event is pretty much zilch.  Not even pretty much, it is just none.

Let me also say that I have the utmost respect for those men and women who do choose to undertake an Ironman event.  All of the training followed by the event itself just blow my mind.  My non-competitive self cannot fathom the desire to swim 3.8kms, ride a bike for 180km and run a marathon (42km), when there are perfectly good functioning cars and boats available to take you these distances in a fraction of the time!  

My husband is currently in training for this years Cairns Ironman in June.  I always try to relate to what people are going through, however as mentioned in the preceding paragraphs, I'm unable to fully empathise with what he is undertaking....or can I? 

It occurred to me that my version of an Ironman - in which case I have completed two - is pregnancy and childbirth. 

No, no, seriously, let's think about this for a second.  A triathlete trains for months beforehand swimming, running and riding in preparation for 'race' day.  Whilst mothers grow a child for months beforehand in preparation for 'delivery' day, our training also consists of three legs: reading books, ante-natal classes and pregnancy yoga!  We do this, only to realise the only real training of any benefit was the yoga because no book or class prepares you for the truth of parenthood adequately enough!  

Nutrition is of the utmost importance in both camps.  Both triathletes and mothers are mindful of what we put into our bodies because of the job at hand: we are preparing bodies - the triathletes their own, the mothers their childs.  I do admit, whilst the triathlete may consume protein smoothies, my equivalent was the chocolate milkshake! Gaining a good amount of sleep and having 'rest' days are on the agenda as well.  A triathletes sleep is shortened by the early training sessions, a mothers by her growing (and perpetually moving) bump and seemingly smaller bladder. 

Then comes race day.

Labour can last just as long, if not longer, than the duration of an Ironman event.  Both triathletes and mothers allow their bodies to be tested like never before, pushing ourselves beyond normal everyday limits.  We convince ourselves to keep going even when we want to give up (a harder prospect for the mother of course), swearing we will never do it again (and then we do), to finally cross that longed for finish line.  

We are both congratulated at the end with our prize: the Ironman medal or baby (don't confuse your event and take the wrong one home!)  We kept our eye on the prize the whole time we undertook the event and it was knowing we would accomplish that prize that kept us going.  That, and remembering our why.  The 'why' for completing an Ironman is different for everyone.  Suffice to say though that for many, it is something on their bucket list.  Many women long to become mothers, though the why surrounding this is often questioned during the process of labour and on occasion in the years following!

I do confess that both of my births were by caesarian section.  I did however endure labour with my first child for a period of time.  I take my hat off to women who 'do' labour, and especially mothers who I then see doing an actual Ironman event.  Wow!  I cannot contemplate their threshold for pain.  My only pacifying thought is that they have the benchmark of childbirth and figure they can get through anything!  

As for my husband and his lead up to Cairns, I get it.  I've done two Ironman events.  My prizes talk to me everyday.  I love it.  They have been worth everything that you give up and sacrifice in order to say "I did it" come race day!

Monday, March 10, 2014

My Natural Remedy For Hot Spots On Dogs

I have mentioned previously that I prefer a more natural approach for remedies where possible.  I apply the same approach to my dogs.

Of course I take my dogs to the vet, and give prescribed medication when required. When one of my dogs however had a run of hot spots, the constant application of cortisone cream caused him a lot of pain on such a raw wound.

It was time to look elsewhere.

I came up with the following recipe which has worked an absolute treat:-

Always use a carrier oil - I use olive oil.  You could use any other vegetable oil.

1/4 cup olive oil
2 drops lavender essential oil
2 drops German chamomile essential oil
2 drops tea tree oil (you could use eucalyptus oil as well)

Pour a small amount (about the size of a 10c piece/dime) into your hands and rub into the affected area, twice daily, until a scab has formed over the area.  Continue to apply on the scab if your dog begins licking the area again. (Scabs are itchy as they heal).  

The German chamomile soothes the wound, the tea tree oil begins the healing process (if applied at night the wound will be noticeabley dryer in the morning) and the lavender allows your dog to relax and have a well earned rest after all that licking that caused the wound in the first place!  

This is all I use on their hot spots now.  The hot spots never get that bad that I have to take them to the vet for medication anymore.  I keep some of this remedy made up in the cupboard so that when it is required, I have it on hand.  I find that after approximately two days, if that, the wound is well on its way to healing and can be left alone.

If your pooch suffers from the occasional hot spot, give this a go next time.  This is one of those secrets that is too good not to share!

What are your favourite natural remedies?  I'd love to hear them.

Please note I am not a medical professional or natural therapies practitioner. This remedy recipe has been derived from information sourced on the internet regarding natural remedies suitable for dogs.

Photo credit:

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Taking My Hat Off To Persistency

Mary Coustas shows off her long-awaited baby girlFilled with anticipation I eagerly watched the 60 Minutes update story on Mary Coustas and her husband George Betsis and their quest to become parents.  If you hadn't seen or heard, I won't keep you in suspense.  It happened, healthily, on November 25, 2013 when their beautiful daughter Jamie was born.  I was and still am absolutely thrilled for them that their dream really has finally come true.

If memory serves me, Mary had said she lost count at how many IVF attempts they underwent, but calls it at least 20.  Twenty! 

My husband and I underwent one IVF cycle.  Just one.  It is a big ask of a woman's body with all of the injections, ultrasounds and monitoring.  Walking with ovaries full of eggs is no mean feat I can tell you.  Egg retrieval is uncomfortable and painful.  Like many things, unless you have done it, it can be hard to comprehend just what is required and what your body goes through.  Personally, I think with IVF it is mandatory to keep your eye on the prize.

I can distinctly remember discussing a 'Plan B' with my husband.  If our first IVF cycle was unsuccessful, what was our Plan B?  I knew I would need another focus, quickly, if Plan A went pear-shaped.  Our Plan B was simple.  We had two embryos stored.  If our first attempt was unsuccessful, we would allow ourselves the sadness and disappointment that is only natural with not being told the magic words of 'you're pregnant', then we would dust ourselves off and get ready for attempt number two.  

Emotionally though, I really didn't know if I could take it.  I have only described the physical toll IVF preparation takes in the earlier paragraph.  The emotional toll is almost overwhelming.  Desire is what gets you to the IVF clinic and is what keeps you going. What is overwhelming is knowing damn well IVF is your last resort to fall pregnant.  If this doesn't work, there is nothing else.  Nothing.  Nahda. Zip.  

We were fortunate that our one and only IVF attempt resulted in my pregnancy and delivery of our healthy first born son.

To repeat that process twenty times?  Wow.  My heart breaks and I literally shed tears to think of the sheer disappointment Mary and George faced time and time again.  The questions they must have asked - of themselves, of their specialists.  I take my hat off to Mary and George. That is one hell of a commitment to their desire: a desire to become parents and a desire to exhaust ALL avenues.  Giving up just wasn't on the cards for them.  

Jamie Betsis sure does have some awesome parents. I'd like to be a fly on the wall the very first (and I am sure only) time she says "I can't, it's too hard."  Now that will be an interesting discussion!

At Not So Secret Women's Business, it's about giving credit where credit is due.  It is definitely due on this occasion.  Congratulations to the Betsis family.  With persistency came reward.

Photo credit: 60 Minutes