Friday, December 21, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
By JOHN SCHWARTZ
Published: December 12, 2007 (NY Times)
Pregnant women do not tip over, and researchers say an evolutionary curve has a lot to do with the reason why.
Anthropologists studying the human spine have found that women’s lower vertebrae evolved in ways that reduce back pressure during pregnancy, when the mass of the abdomen grows by nearly one-third and the center of mass shifts forward considerably. That increases pressure on the spinal column, strains the muscles and generally reduces stability.
Even without the benefit of advanced study in biomechanics, women tend to deal with the shift — and avoid tumbling over like a bowling pin — by leaning back. But the solution to one problem creates another, since it puts even more pressure on the spine and muscles.
And that, report researchers from Harvard University and the University of Texas in the current issue of the journal Nature, is where evolution enters the story.
The lower spine in humans had already developed a unique forward curve that helps compensate for the extra pressures that arose when the primate ancestors went from moving around on four limbs to walking upright. Researchers looked for an additional mechanism that might have compensated for the increased strain of pregnancy as well.
What they found, said Katherine K. Whitcome, a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard and the lead author of the paper, was evidence that evolution had produced a stronger and more flexible lower spine for women. After studying 19 pregnant subjects, Ms. Whitcome found that the lumbar, or lower back, curve in women extends across three vertebrae, as opposed to just two in men. And the connecting points between vertebrae are relatively larger in women, and shaped differently in ways that make the stack more stable and less prone to the bones shifting out of alignment or breaking.
Since the engine of evolution runs on the passage of genes from one generation to the next, pregnancy is a critical moment. Without that adaptation, Dr. Whitcome said, females would have been in considerably greater pain during pregnancy and might not have been able to forage effectively or escape predators, ending the pregnancy and the genetic line as well.
Working at the University of Texas with Liza Shapiro, an associate professor of anthropology who studies the primate spine, Dr. Whitcome found that the differences between male and female spines do not show up in chimpanzees. That suggested that the changes occurred in response to the problems caused by walking upright.
When she moved on to Harvard and started working with Daniel Lieberman, an anthropologist with expertise in primate fossils, she was able to examine two sets of fossilized vertebrae for the telltale signs of evolved flexibility. Of the two samples, she found the three-vertebra arrangement in one and not in the other. As it happened, separate evidence from those skeletons suggested strongly that the extra-curvy spine belonged to a female and the other belonged to a male. “It was very exciting” to have the fossilized pieces of the puzzle fall into place, Ms. Whitcome said.
As solutions go, the forward spine is only partly successful, Prof. Shaprio said, since women still commonly complain of back trouble and pain during pregnancy. Even the basic forward curve that promotes balance in upright walking is “not a structurally ideal solution,” she said, since it can lead to instability and even fractured vertebrae.
And that is the difference between the way that evolution works and the way that actual designers do their job, Ms. Whitcome said: nature tinkers. “A designer wouldn’t build something that has a tendency to fracture your vertebrae,” she said. For natural selection to favor one feature over another, “It doesn’t have to be an ideal solution,” she said. “It just has to be better.” In any case, she noted, “Without these adaptations, there would be more problems.”
If evolution provided relief for women in pregnancy, one might ask, what about the equally awkward morphology of men with beer guts? “You’re not the first one to ask this,” Prof. Shapiro said with a laugh, and said that their research shows that “men would not be as well adapted to a beer gut than a woman.”
Dr. Whitcome noted that in terms of the time that the evolutionary shift occurred, some two million years ago, “finding extra calories wasn’t likely,” so an early hominid primate with a potbelly would have been quite a rarity.
Anthropology has extensively explored the evolution of the female hip bones, which expanded over time to accommodate the evolutionary growth of the heads of human babies. But Prof. Shapiro said that pregnancy and the lower spine constituted new ground for evolutionary biology.
“Katherine was a genius for thinking of that,” she said. “And you go, ‘Hey — why didn’t we think of that before? It seems so obvious now.’ ”
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
9. Eating or drinking without spilling
8. Getting out of things like bed or the car or off things like the couch
7. Sneezing or laughing without piddling
6. Eating large meals (darn it- there's just no room)
5. Traveling in Boston, or really anywhere i have to schlep things and go multiple places
4. Sleeping through the nite (and i hear this will get tougher once the baby comes...huh...sleep has always been one of my skills)
3. Drinking enough water ("enough" is such a relative term)
2. Tying my shoes (i really thought pregnant ladies were joking when they said they couldn't tie their shoes--and my husband still thinks i'm joking when i employ his help)
1. shaving my bikini line, or for that matter seeing it at all...
Top 10 Things that are Wonderful about Being Pregnant:
10. We're having a baby!
9. Feeling him move (it's really bizarre, and a bit uncomfortable, but really wonderful too)
8. I've gained over 20lbs and my husband keeps saying how cute i am
7. There's always a conversational piece for friends, strangers, and everyone in between
6. We keep getting loot (though we don't know what to do with it all yet, it's pretty amazing how generous people are)
5. People want to rub my belly, and it's actually a good thing
4. I get to take the lil' guy to work with me, actually...he gets to go everywhere i go at this point
3. I get to take naps after work and don't feel guilty
2. My husband has been cooking dinner and doing all kinds of other stuff around the house
1. We're having a baby!
me: (thinking to my self) my back kind of hurts, and my suitcase is too heavy...while making light hearted small talk to jenni.
jenni: "i think we should go this way"
boston: abrupt torrential downpour as jenni and i are on the street corner.
jenni: "i'm glad i brought my rain coat"
me: "darn, this umbrella wasn't broken before" (wind howling, me and my luggage soaked)
jenni: "lets run for it"
boston: walk sign read "don't walk" ...horns honking as jenni and i ran across the street
me: not really running, rather hobbling, my suitcase spiraling around & splashing thru puddles, my umbrella in hand but flapping in the wind.
boston street corner: friendly business men pointed us in the opposite direction to the convention center we had just walked away from vs. towards.
jenni and i: laughing at ourselves, a bit wet, and a bit disgruntled (at the pregnant one of us was).
...despite boston's inconveniences, her multiple subways and buses to get between my hotel and the convention center, her large convention center with sparse bathrooms for pregnant ladies, her long cab lines and expensive cab fares, her bone chilling wind and wet air, and her crazy drivers (our bus did a 6 point turn one day), it was a good time. my talk went well (though i did get winded after talking for 2 hrs and having a baby up in my ribs- jeez). i saw some amazing talks and was inspired all over again, and i got to see great friends (see laura below). ...and now i have funny stories (seems that i collect these without much trouble), and good memories.
...until next time boston...
anyway...i thought i'd post a picture of lil' pearson's first nite of gambling. we had a poker nite for chad's birthday, and although our friend lisa took money from the birthday boy and most everyone else (go lisa!), lil' pearson's mom ended up breaking even. ...maybe she had some pity for the pregnant lady who stayed up until 1 am (way past my bedtime these days).
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Saturday, November 10, 2007
The following just occurred as I went through security, after a long line, at Denver International Airport:
TSA official: Ma'm, what is in this bag?
Me: A breast pump
TSA: Is there breast milk in here?
Me: Not yet – I just left home. There are ice packs.
TSA: I need to get a supervisor.
5 minutes later…
TSA supervisor ("Elvia"): If there is no breast milk, you can't take the ice packs.
Me: So you're telling me that if I had a half an ounce of milk in the bag the ice packs would be fine?
TSA: Yes ma'm.
Me: Well hand over the pump and I'll get you your half ounce.
TSA: I can't do that ma'm. That would be indecent exposure.
Me: Oh, I assure you I can be very discreet.
TSA: No ma'm. If you want to pump, you need to go back out of security with all your bags and then come back through the line.
Me: (increasingly annoyed, of course) I will miss my flight if I do that. Just hand me the pump and I will be 3 minutes.
Me: (unbuttoning my shirt) Fine. I don't need a pump, I will just squirt a little into a bottle.
TSA: I am going to call security if you continue.
Me: Boy, you guys are really keeping the homeland safe, aren't you? You should be very proud.
TSA: If you say that again, I am going to call security.
Me: So if I say that again, you'll call security and if I try to pump, you'll call security. All because of two ice packs. Brilliant.
Needless to say, I gave up the ice packs. And to think that these guys are trying to unionize? God help us all.
Friday, November 2, 2007
despite chad's utter lack of experience (no offense honey), i have no doubt he'll become a quick study (he does have his phd after all- that's got to be worth something doesn't it?!). i decided for his 34th birthday that a diaper changing suit would be just perfect. it's breathable, water proof, footed, and pretty easy to take on and off- right over his clothes. it can even be sprayed down on the fly.
...the best part about it (for him) is that when he's not on diaper duty (that's a diaper in his hand), it'll work in the creeks and rivers around town when he's off fly fishing.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
anyway...a friend of mine jen recently introduced me to a weight loss plan that i could actually participate in, while being pregnant. ...imagine that, weight loss while pregnant (and i'm not talking about the first trimester weight loss plan that involved eating saltines, and throwing up on a regular basis, as that weight loss plan pretty much sucked)...i'm talking about an actual healthy weight loss plan for pregnant folks (or anyone for that matter). the only problem with doing it now, is that i wont be able to join during the post baby period of trying to cut down the pounds. oh well...what the heck....i joined in yesterday...and my husband noticed right away (well acutally when i picked him up, he got in the car and it took him about 2-3 minutes to notice, but that's 'right away' for him...)
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
on my way to work i get a call from 'leslie's boutique' telling me that my order for the cloth diapers can't be shipped b/c the zip code doesn't match. she thought maybe it was a typo, but actually i had somehow given her the totally wrong zip code...that of my parents in charlotte, nc. (no real idea why i gave that one, but just did--- maybe it was kind of like when i was giving someone my name the other day and they asked for the spelling, and i replied "j-u-l-i-e" ...first of all they were asking about my last name, and second of all i don't spell my first name that way---or maybe it was kind of like the waitress that asked me if i knew whether or not the baby was a boy or girl, and after i said "boy" i automatically asked her "what about yours" (she was NOT pregnant at all, and wasn't a bit amused, but my absentminded question).
anyway...so on my way to work, i was warming up with the heat, and then went to turn the radio down...about 60 sec later i realized i was getting cold and the radio was still loud. come to find out i turned the heat down to 'cool' and never adjusted the volume. it was 45 degrees out and i was driving to work with the a.c. on and the music blasting.
i sneezed a few times and piddled my pants.
i went to do an observation of an evaluation session. it was the set up where there was an observation room outside of the evaluation room with a mirror that you could see through from the observation room. a baby monitor was set up so that you could hear what was happening from the observation room. i turned on the monitor and couldn't believe how quite the sound was. so quite, that i had to put the receiver right up to my ear and sit close to the window so as to also read lips. this proceeded for about 10 minutes, until someone came into the observation room and suggested i turn up the volume. "...oh ...yeah...right...that's much better"
i know i've been accused of being a little ditsy in the past, but i really don't think it was this freakin' bad...or was it?!
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Friday, October 5, 2007
anyway, this is our annual 'beaver dam reunion' in which the girls get together. it's mostly girls from college, and jolene who is an 'honary' beaver. we've been doing it in some capacity since 1999, and although we don't all make it every year, we do our best to get together somewhere. none of us have quite struck it rich yet, so we still try to do it on a tight budget, with the goal of getting together for the sake of being together regardless of what we do. this year we're going to emily's place in chicago.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
wonder if lil' egg of a pearson is standing on his head, or his rump.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
don't worry lil' pearson, we won't name you sue.
'Tis but thy name that is my enemy.
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? !
don't worry lil' pearson, we won't name you Montague...
don't worry lil' pearson, we won't name you "Who"...or "What"...or "I Don't Know."
the one thing we can quite figure out is what in the world are we going to name you????
Friday, September 21, 2007
i've been thinking not only about my friend and his family and feeling sympathy for their grief of such a sudden loss, but it's also made me think about family in general ...about the bond between parents and children. early on in life it's such an open connection, such a dependence between child and parent-- a relationship i'm beginning to enter into, but on the other side. the dependence fades, but the bond is still there. it will be always in the debths of our souls. none of us is invincable. the one thing in life that is "known" is that some day, at some time we will all 'pass on.' we will leave and we will be left, to pass on to whatever or who ever is next. the one 'known' in life, and yet when are we ever prepared?
as i embrace new life, i want to embrace all that life brings. i work with patients every day who have experienced huge trauma in life; they and their families teach me persistance & love through such significant challenge. my hope for myself is to be a parent who can keep focused on the day at hand, and the love at hand, and to try to instill this in my child. not to fear what is next, but embrace life as it is...full of energy that is never created or distroyed, but is altered over time. family and community...will grow and change over time, but energy created by these bonds should continue to always keep us strong. i'm so glad to have you all as part of my family and my community.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
we couldn't get our flowers at the market, we had to head straight home. jeez.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
speaking of clumsy, i had a presentation in denver last week. i was rushing off (i've always been a little late, so i can't blame that on the pregnancy...or at least i haven't tried to yet) to beat rush hour and stopped off at the bathroom on the way. it was the patient bathroom that is often used for showers that time of day. i had my purse on and was concentrating on not letting it fall in the toilet, while in the meantime my pants are 1/2 way down and 'blurp,' there falls my pager into the toilet drain. i immediately went for the grab, and just then realized i'd forgotten to lock the door. pants, 1/2 way down, toilet water on my hands, slippery pager going deeper in the drain, and there's the unlocked door. i'm reaching to and fro and trying not to drip on my nice new pants (maternity pants at mimi maternity are $78 freakin dollars- good thing these were on sale, but still...)....just envisioning a well intentioned nurses aide opening the door with a patient awaiting their shower. luckily, i acted quick and got the lock engaged before my mishap was discovered. it took a while to sanitize the toilet water out of my pager. poor pager wouldn't stop vibrating my whole way out of the hospital and took a break for about 24 hrs. now it's back working, but i wouldn't be surprised if i hear a little 'blurp' next time i get 'beeped'...
jed on the other hand...oh poor little jed...he's been the baby for 5 years now. i'm already feeling sad for him as his little world will change. no matter how much we promise him it won't, it will. the pay off will come 6 mos later when table food begins. hope he can hold off that long. oh, sweet little jed...
Sunday, September 9, 2007
so i've also learned to accept it and fall back asleep.
the dreams come about once a month, but have been more prevalent ever since we found out about lil' pearson to be. it started at the beginning with chad's dream state being convinced that we were having triplets. he'd wake up in the middle of the night and stack the books from the night-stand into piles of three, making sure there was the same amt for each of the babies. he'd rearrange some of the artwork on the wall and one nite i awoke to find him carrying around the wrought iron candle stick looking for the right place to put it so it wouldn't fall on the babies.
some mornings i'd wake up wondering where my books were, or where our framed artwork had gone. we began to wonder if these dreams continued when we actually had the baby, we may wake to find him outside of the crib, who knows where. we decided maybe we should register for a "baby locator" vs. a "baby monitor." luckily, now that we've found out for sure that there is only one little fetus in there and no chance of triplets, the dreams subsided...at least for a little while.
they restarted a few weeks ago, as chad was embracing his "care taking" roles during sleep. we were having a heat wave and it barely got below 80 degrees at nite, but chad would awaken to find me a bit uncovered and felt convinced that it was part of his care taking role to keep me covered. he'd cover me and whisper "i think you're all right now"...or "stay covered up in case 'they' come in"...i'd try to convince him that the down comforter was a bit too warm, and he'd "shhhush" me back to sleep saying "it will be allright"..."it will be allright"...
good think we're having the lil' guy in the winter, at least he'll stay warm at nite...even if we don't know exactly where in the house he is....
Saturday, September 8, 2007
we' had friends in town right around my birthday. the cake was decorated, possibly by someone new to the cake decorating position, but with the best of intentions it read:
Friday, September 7, 2007
this whole pregnancy was such a romantic notion...that is when it was happening to someone else. the first few months i spent a bit weepy, pukey and sleepy. while i was either sleeping or puking, chad was wondering what happened to his wife, and we both were thinking...is this what we really signed up for?! the weeks have passed, and there's been some pay off along the way. chad listened to the baby grow with my stethoscope from work. we'd oooh and ahhh when he could hear "the baby move" and would spend a bit of time each evening, just listening away. it was one of our last dr. appts that we confessed to our efforts, only to be told that chad was not really becoming intimately involved with the baby, rather was just getting to know my g.i. tract really really well. who knew that you cant really hear the baby?! ...just all of the extra flatulence that pregnancy brings on. boy is it something. i have always blamed it on the altitude (at least in the last 3 years, living at high altitude and all), now i can blame it on being "pregnant in altitude." we've been anxiously awaiting to be able to feel the little guy kicking, and he's started to become more and more active. i keep grabbing chad's hand having him try to feel the little guy kick. He thought he felt him kick once, but now that i think of it, it may have just been some gas.