Tuesday, January 28, 2014

My Concerns Once Baby Arrives

Now that Jack will be coming in about 2 months, I've had to start getting more things ready---including myself. I knew I wanted to be a mother since I was little girl. I am naturally good with most kids and have babysat since I was about 12. I love kids so much that I considered being a neonatal or an OB/GYN nurse. I am one of those naturally maternal women, I guess.

However, I am still terrified about having a baby sometimes. Unlike babysitting, I cannot give the baby back to its mom when something goes wrong---because I will be the mom! My husband and I will be responsible for another person for the rest our lives now. Our lives will change dramatically once he arrives too. And our family's lives. And you never know---maybe our son will grow up and change the world! So, in a sense, the choices we make might affect EVERYTHING. How can I not be terrified sometimes?

I know things will work out and life unfolds the way it's supposed to in the end. So I am still very excited to have a baby. These are just normal concerns that every parent has in the beginning. I wanted to read how other moms dealt with these fears, but could not find much on it. So I decided to share my concerns so some other mom can relate and relax.

How am I supposed to have a baby when
these two already think they are my babies?
 Lucky girls got to come in the house that day
because it was so cold...spoiled. 
  • Not knowing what to do: I just said I have good natural maternal instincts, but that doesn't mean they are correct or will prevail every time. There is not one specific thing I am afraid I will do wrong, more like everything. The basics like nursing, bathing, dressing, sleeping, and playing. And complex things like discipline, morals, and education. Also, arbitrary things like what if his hair isn't curly like Michael's like I want or he isn't interested in science like us? What can I do to calm these fears? Get educated so I can make informed decisions, first of all. I can also ask for help from my family or a professional anytime I am overwhelmed. Other than that, there is nothing much I can do besides stay calm and wait them out.  
  • Postpartum Depression: I have had some depression problems in the past, and worry if I will have depression again after Jack is born. I know that some baby blues after birth is normal because rapidly changing hormones. I know all the signs and will seek out help right away if feel it is more than the normal baby blues. But I worry how it will affect my ability to be a good mother. My friend from High School recently did a post on her blog Oregon Domesticated about her experience with postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis. I remember her as very bright and bubbly person. And her daughters are both beautiful. So I was shocked when I read the story, I would have never guessed it would happen to her. She is an example of how someone can look so happy but is actually struggling on the inside. I really applaud her getting help and sharing her story for other moms. 
  • How My Cats Will React: Before I started dating Michael, I was pretty lonely. So what does a lonely single girl do? Get cats! They are both my babies. When I brought them from Hawaii after graduation, I had to leave them in Oregon for a year while I got settled in California. The day I left I told them the great Lilo and Stitch quote, "Ohana means family, and family means no one gets left behind or forgotten." I meant that for life. I chose to take-in these cats, and that means I need to care for them no matter what. These girls are pretty spoiled and get a lot of snuggles every day. I know this will change when Jack comes. And for awhile, they might not get much attention at all while I establish a routine. I already feel bad about that :-( And I worry how they will treat Jack. When I bring him home, I will show him to them so they know what that weird smell/sound is, but after than I plan to keep them pretty separate for awhile for his safety (not a problem because they live in a back room not attached to the main house). They are both nice cats, but you never know how an animal will react to a new person. Let alone one that is taking all their mommy's attention. I will just have to keep on eye on them and see how they behave. And the picture above, that is actually how I woke-up from a nap, paw on my face and all. 
  • Junk Food: I mentioned in my Will Your Baby Be Vegan? post that Michael and I compromised on what the baby will eat. In order to respect each other's wishes, the baby will be allowed to try all types of healthy foods and make his own choice when he is old enough. I know Michael respects me and if I say do not feed our child that meat/dairy today, he will comply. And I will not get upset if Michael asks if Jack can share some of his ice cream cone on occasion. But I am worried about other people feeding him things I do not want. Like either grandma giving him non-vegan cookies on a day when I want all vegan food. Then them telling me something like "It's just a treat, I hardly ever to see him. Do not deprive me of loving my grandson!" I don't want to fight with them over it, but I need people to respect my wishes too. I don't want him to get used to eating junk and turn into a picky eater. My husband and his sisters were, and his mom admits that she wishes she did not cave into their demands so easily. I will not let Jack become a picky eater, but it will be harder if people undermine me all the time. There is not much I can do to stop this (other than tell the grandmas they can't see Jack if they only feed him junk, which is very mean). I will just have to be open and direct (while still polite) with people. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Maternity Leave Plans

Two Fridays ago I met with the real OB/GYN , not just the practitioner, because I am in my third trimester now (27 weeks at the time). She said everything is fine and Jack is doing great. Then she started going over signs of preterm labor and how I need to go straight to the hospital if I something doesn't feel right. Then I suddenly remembered that Tuesday night I woke up feeling like I REALLY had to pee. And no matter how many times I went to the bathroom, it was not go away. Jack was still moving normally and I could tell it was only urine was coming out, not amniotic fluid(urine smells like ammonia and you can stop the flow easily, amniotic fluid usually smells sweet and cannot be stopped). I was concerned, but decided not to the hospital. It went away by noontime so I was not that worried. My doctor immediately said I should always go when I feel weird pressure. Then decided I need to have an ultrasound and a cervical checked. 

She asked me to have a seat in the waiting room while they squeezed me in between other patients. Forty-five minutes later and several text from my boss wondering where I was, I was called in. Jack was fine (he was in a weird position so we didn't get a good look at his face) and I had plenty of fluid. Then they did a vaginal ultrasound for my cervix. It was long and closed, so everything was fine. She said he was probably just sitting on my bladder that day. 

However, while they were checking his anatomy, I caught phrases like, "Measuring at 29 weeks", "About plus 2 weeks" , and "Early April." They also asked when my due date was and if it had ever been changed. I have heard thing like this all along, even at my pregnancy confirmation ultrasound. But no one had ever actually changed my due date directly. So I asked the ultrasound tech. She said that yes, he was measuring 2 weeks ahead. But an estimated due date is based on your last period plus or minus two weeks. Since he is not off by more than two weeks, they will not officially change it. 

I asked the OB/GYN when she came back in. She agreed with the ultrasound tech. She said she will not officially change my due date, but unofficially I should not be surprised if he came at 38 weeks. And to not be upset if I am told I need a c-section because he is big and I am petite. 

I am already getting really uncomfortable so I would not mind at all if he came reasonably early. And as much as I want to do it all naturally, I would not be upset if I had to get a c-section. I just want a healthy baby. However, my mom said they told her the same thing and she had two healthy babies vaginally that were pretty close to the actual due dates. I am pretty much her carbon copy, so if she can do it, so can I.

This week I started thinking about all the stuff I need to do before Jack arrives, including finalizing maternity leave.When my husband got me a job at his work, I was 16 weeks already. My boss asked during the interview how much leave I would take and when I would take it. I told him I wanted all the 12 weeks Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles me to and I will try to work up to my due date. He said no problem. He also kept asking every once and awhile if my plans have changed once I was hired, just so he knows when to start training my replacement while I'm gone.

 I realized that maybe it is for the best I start my maternity leave at 38 weeks instead of working until I go into labor. I am already pretty uncomfortable, and it's only going to get worse. It's probably for the best if I give myself a break. And if he does come early, I wont have to be faxing in my leave forms to work and my disability forms to the state with a screaming newborn in my arms. My mom is also coming to stay for a month around that time. We can finish getting everything ready and have some nice bonding time together.

I wish I was tough enough to be one of those women who works right up until her water breaks, but I am not. I need to do what is right for my baby and myself. Like I said, I totally would not mind--if he is ready--to come early. I am already over being pregnant and just want to kiss his sweet little face already.

And yes, I already thought about what to do if he comes late, when I would have used up several weeks of my 12 week maternity leave. I have Paid Time Off that my boss said I can use if I need to once my leave is up. I will just need to let him know two weeks before I want to take it.
Before you finalize or take your maternity leave, make sure you talk to your boss and HR director. Also check out FMLA. It has some very specific wording that might disqualify you if just started your job or work for a small company. It can be confusing to figure out and you might need to think about your options for awhile if you do not qualify under FMLA. And see if your state offers disability pay for pregnancy and bonding time. California offers up to 4 weeks before birth and 6 weeks after of  disability pay for mothers. Dads get 6 weeks unpaid after the birth. Both of which are beyond awesome!

Michael is going to wait to take his until after my mom leaves and might use some PTO instead. My boss approved my leave to start the Monday I am 38 weeks. All I had to do was fill out an Absence Request Form. I see my pregnancy counselor in a few days, she will help me fill out the disability forms then. And I know that 6 weeks pay will not cover the full 12 weeks I plan to take off, so we will need to plan accordingly. That is why you should start getting this stuff in order before the baby comes!

Here are some important links to help you finalize maternity leave:.
Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
California Family Rights Act (CAFRA)
Maternity Leave: The Basics, Baby Center
Maternity Leave, American Pregnancy Association

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Why I Got A Flu Shot And Things to Consider Before You Get One

There is a lot of controversy when it comes to vaccines. I don't want to get into the whole debate, but I wanted to put some information out there so you can make your own informed decision about how to prevent the flu.

I never got the flu shot until I was 22-years-old and I was a pretty healthy kid. I did get sick a lot in college, but not with the flu. I had a lot of tonsil/sinus/ear infections (and yes all the thee at the same time) starting my sophomore year at Oregon. After 2 years of some horrible infection every 3 months, I had to get my tonsils out. A few months after I got a very bad cold. The doctor told me I most likely got sick again because all these infections slightly damaged my immune system. He recommended I get the flu shot every year from now on. 

After that I started to take more preventive measures to avoid getting sick and it worked pretty well for awhile (which proves to me that your body can fight off germs if you give it a chance). Then I started dating my now husband, and the week before finals our last term at UHH, he caught the flu....and gave it to me. I did get the flu shot that year, but that particular shot did not inoculate against the strand we caught. It was a strand effecting Japan and they did not think it was hit America that flu season (or so the urgent care doctor told me)....guess they didn't realize that Hawaii is not really near the mainland and would get the virus sooner...

The flu was awful. Ten days of us both squished in front the AC in my apartment trying to keep our fevers down. Coughing all over each other and barely being able to move. Needless to say, I NEVER want the flu again. EVER. It was the worse sickness I have had in my life. I honestly think childbirth will be more pleasant. 

So, I have been trying to not take unnecessary medications since I found out I was pregnant. I took a few Tylenol (for aches and pains) and Benedryl (for sleep and nausea) on occasion, but only when I really really needed it. When it came time to get the flu shot, I had to think about it. I did not want to get the flu again, especially when there can be a lot more serve complications when pregnant (including death of the mother and fetus). But I did not want to harm my baby and there is some nasty junk in flu shots.

Then one day my mom called me one day to say that Dr. Oz says all pregnant women should get preservative-free flu shots. My response, "Do you have to do everything Dr. Oz tells you?" She told me it's my choice, but to think of how awful the flu was last time. So I did some research first (I linked the articles I read below). Then I talked to my doctor. She said they did have preservative-free shots and it was safe. I also asked my husband, who agreed I should get one because I get sick so easily. 

I was still not convinced I should get it right away since I had got the shot year I got the flu---what if I inject all this stuff into my baby and I still ended up getting very sick? But then I remembered I live on the mainland now, and odds are the shot will be for the correct virus this time. Then I read the CDC's criteria for who should definitely get the flu shot and realized I fit into 3 of them: pregnant, compromised immune system, and blood disorders (Anemia). I realized, for me personally, the benefits outweighed the risks. 

I am glad I got the flu shot now. As of this morning, 15 deaths and 13 hospitalizations in the Bay Area alone for the flu. Three of them in my county. And yeah, I know the media hypes things---I did go to a very good Journalism School and know how the news works---but those are still 15 innocent people who lost their lives.

Like I said, it is your personal choice on whether to get a flu shot or not. You need to do what is right for yourself and your baby. But please make an informed decision above all else. 

Articles I read about the flu shot:

Key Facts, Center for Disease Control

Pregnancy and the Flu, March of Dimes

Five Reasons Why I'll Never Get A Flu Shot, The Organic Prepper (Blogger)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

My Second Trimester

I am officially done with my second trimester. I am both happy and sad about it. Happy because it means I am closer to kissing my son sweet little face. Sad because I know that my pregnancy is going to get more uncomfortable now.

Overall my second trimester went well. Just some mild drama and discomfort. I love feeling him kick and move all the time now. And I am in love with my gorgeous, thick beauty queen hair! However I am not a fan of the nightly heartburn. Or the horrible round ligament pain every time I cough, laugh, or stretch. And the thing I hate the most? Having to wear a panty liner all the time now because my bladder leaks slightly. Did I mention that peed myself a few weeks ago when I sneezed? Yeah, that seriously happened.

So I thought I would do a similar post to my First Trimester one. The things I would again and the things I would do differently.

Things I would do again:
  • Prenatal Massage: My husband bought me a prenatal massage from Massage Envy when I was 22 weeks. I cannot even begin to explain how grateful I am for it. It felt amazing and helped my sore back. And the massage therapists advice helped me lessen my discomfort over all (see my Fluid Retention and Weight Gain post). 
  • Support Wedge/ Maternity Pillow: Around 19 weeks, it started to get very uncomfortable to sleep. I was annoyed I couldn't sleep on my stomach or back. I didn't like sleeping on my sides. My belly was in the way, my back hurt, painful heartburn, and leg cramps. I woke up crying one night because my back hurt so much. I got very little sleep each night, and all my tossing and turning woke Michael up. I bought a maternity pillow first. I could hug it and place it between my knees, which supported my belly and lower back. But I was still uncomfortable, I want to be propped up more to alleviate heartburn and relax my upper back. I wanted a big wedge pillow, but the ones we could find were insanely expensive. Michael brought me to two smaller ones instead. They helped tremendously. With all these pillows, I am now supported and cradled all around. 
  • Not Giving in to Insane Cravings: I have been lucky so far with no really ridiculously cravings (my mom told me she craved raw zucchini with peanut butter, ick). And I have not wanted to eat an insane quantity of food either really (and my stomach feels so squished I am not sure I could). I do get cravings for some pretty unhealthy foods though, mainly carbs. I indulge a little bit, but don't over do it. I wanted a big burger Red Robin a few weeks ago. I got my fave burger with a vegan Boca patty, no cheese, no mayo and side salad instead. It was very nice, but responsible treat. I do have one craving I will not indulge in no matter what: a Baskin Robins ice cream cake. I don't even care which flavor, I just keep thinking of one in general. And I do not want just one slice---I want the whole thing. It's not vegan or even remotely healthy, so it is not happening. There is a difference between a nice treat and insanity. 
  • Stretch Mark Cream:  I refuse to have insane stretch marks. I know some are inevitable, but I do not want to be one of those women with the permanent, deep purple marks all over their stomach. I slather myself daily---and I mean slather---in hopes of preventing them. I had few existing ones that got a little more defined, but nothing else so far. I switch between two products, Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Lotion and Bio-Oil. I try to massage it in well all over my belly, sides, boobs, thighs, and butt. It's nice bonding time with my son, plus I smell great and feel very soft after. Michael says I smell like a doughnut after the Cocoa Butter. 
Things I would do differently:
  • Drink More Water All Along: If you didn't check out my Fluid Retention and Weight Gain post yet, please do. Drinking more water really helped me not only feel more comfortable, but also helped me control my weight gain. I know the recommended 8-12 glass a day during pregnancy seems like a lot, but trust me it is worth it. I wish I did this from the start. Next baby, even if I throw it up, I am going to make myself drink tons of water. 
  • Getting My Husband More Informed: You know that blank look men give you ask them a question? The one that says "I have no idea what you are talking about, but I love you so please don't get mad at me when I say something stupid." I was getting a lot of those looks in recent weeks. For example, his sister brought up that we should get a car seat that is also a carrier. I said we don't need one. Michael then says we probably should get one, and my blood instantly boiled. I told him weeks ago that it is better for the baby's spine and head to be held in your arms or in a sling facing towards you. Later that night I had a hormonal crying fit about it. He comforted me, but didn't understand why I was upset. He then reminded me that I have cared for babies before, and he hasn't. He is very excited to be a dad, but has no idea what to do. It isn't fair for me to get mad at him like that. When I told him about the spine and head stuff, he had no idea why I mentioned it. I calmed down and explained that I do not want the car seat carrier because of the spine and head concerns. He understood and agreed. So from now, when it comes to making any decision,  I make sure he understands the background information and why I feel the way I do about it, then we discuss it openly. I am also looking in to parenting classes or DVD's for the both of us. 
  • Buy Comfy Shoes Sooner: I have a desk job, but I do get up to look for things often. Plus my 10 trips to the bathroom a day. I quickly ditched my heels (though I wear them for special occasions still). My flats do not have enough support for me right now either. And my sneakers do not match my work clothes. I have a comfy pair of no-slip shoes from when I was waitress, but they are open on the top so my feet get cold. I wanted something comfy, warm, and easy to get on (getting harder to bend down easily). Michael bought me a pair of slide-on sneakers from H&M that work great. And my mom got me vegan UGG-like boots for Christmas. Both are great and I wish I had them all along. When your feet hurt, you get grumpy. And being pregnant makes you a little grumpy anyways. No ones like an extra grumpy pregnant lady! 
  • Taking a Fiber Supplement Everyday: There is no polite way to discuss this, but it's vital. You will probably get constipated while pregnant at some point. All the hormones and the baby pushing on your intestines, bound to back you up. And if you develop anemia and have to take iron supplements, it will only get worse. And to quote my best friend about the subject "It's funny how people get so irritated when they can't poo." You feel so bloated and uncomfortable that you just want to punch everyone. I had no issues with it until about 2 weeks after starting my iron pills. After about 3 days of nothing, I began to panic. I ended up trying a whole bunch of different things, but at that point I was so backed up that it took a few more days for it all to start working. I wish I just took a basic fiber supplement all along like Metamucil to keep it from ever becoming a problem. 
Things I am not sure about:
  • Getting the Nursery Together So Soon: It is a relief to know that if Jack came early, that the nursery is mostly together. The walls are painted and the crib is together. We have some clothes, diapers, and other stuff too. I want everything as perfect as can be for him, so I started planning stuff early. But I realized recently that it pretty much just going to sit there empty for 4 more months. And I still have my baby shower coming up, so there is no point in planning on getting much more stuff right now. Plus my mom told me she already bought stuff and so did my sister-in-law. It's a relief for a first time mom, but not sure it was worth the hassle so soon. 
  • Preliminary Birth Plan: I was once thinking about being a neonatal or OB/GYN nurse, so I knew some stuff about giving birth before. I decided to make a preliminary birth plan, just in case I went into labor early. All these options came up on that I did not know about. Do you want to try a birthing stool? Do you want to be constantly monitored or intermittently? Do you want an epidural or to try other pain management techniques. Do you want a mirror to see the baby come out? Do you want your partner to catch the baby? Do you want to tear naturally? Do you want skin-to-skin contact immediately? I had no idea! I began researching all this and more, and sharing the info with Michael. We slowly started to make informed decisions and came up with a preliminary birth plan. But we still need to take the hospital tour and some baby classes, so thing may change. Though it's nice to know we have a plan, it was overwhelming to work on by ourselves. It might have been nice to have waited till we had the tour and the classes. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Low Blood Pressure: So That's Why I Keep Almost Fainting....

I went to my nutritionist the day after my whole embarrassing Labor & Delivery ordeal. I had a much better experience this time, no crying in my car afterwards!

I explained how I got dizzy during my counseling appointment and that was not the first time that has happened. I explained how my doctor thought it was low blood sugar, and the doctor at L&D thinks my anemia was a factor too. She took the time to actually listen to me and look over all my lab work. Yes, my blood sugar was lower when I felt dizzy, but not actually out of the normal range. And yes, my blood work from my glucose screening 3 weeks ago said I had anemic iron levels, but the ones taken the at the hospital yesterday were within normal (meaning my iron supplements are working). So she was not convinced either one was the reason for feeling so faint.

Then she say my blood pressure readings and asked if I had naturally low blood pressure. The last pre-pregnancy blood pressure I can remember was from last May, and it was something like 104/75. It's normal but on the lower side (here to learn how to read blood pressure). At the appointment to confirm my pregnancy, it was something like 102/80, still lower but normal. I couldn't see the rest of the numbers on my chart, but the one from almost fainting was 91/71 and at L&D it went up to 94/75.

It's normal for your blood pressure to drop in the first and second trimester, which is normally not a that big of a deal, just some minor dizziness. However, since I have blood pressure naturally, dropping 10+ points in just a few weeks makes it's worse. I am do not have hypotension because I am still in the normal range though. And since my baby is doing fine and I have no other complaints, she does not think I have an underlying condition causing it.

She loved my diet and said there is no reason why I cannot continue being vegan. My weight gain is perfect, she said I could have one more snack a day if I wanted actually. She loved that my husband and I go for walks daily on our break. Her only suggest was maybe a few extra walks a week to help increase my blood pressure. She made a note for my doctor to follow up on it at my appointment on Friday too.

So I am going to keep doing what I am doing, take a few extra walks, and be grateful that I do not have hypertension or preeclampsia. Between high blood pressure that runs the risk of needing an emergency c-section before I have a stroke and low blood pressure that makes me almost faint, I'll take the slight inconvenience of being faint.

Anyways, here is a recent pic of my bump. Twenty-six weeks and 2 days here.

Go Niners!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Dizziness and a Trip to the Hospital

It's well known that pregnancy makes you constipated. Iron supplements also make you constipated. When you are constipated you don't really want to eat much. And you get dizzy when you don't eat much. So what do you think happens when you add being pregnant on top of all that? A lovely trip to Labor and Delivery.

Jack and I are both fine, it was just a precaution. I had a counselor appointment yesterday morning . I had a light breakfast because my stomach hurt from being constipated. I also had a light dinner the night before for the same reason. My appointment was going well when all the sudden I felt hot and dizzy (nothing new, it's happened a bunch and it not that uncommon of a pregnancy symptom). I asked for a glass of water, but it did not improve. So the counselor altered the front desk, who much to my embarrassment called a code blue. That usually means all medical staff drop what they are doing and rush to help a critical patient. Everyone came to me instantly. They checked my blood pressure and decided to have me lay down because it was very low. They took my blood sugar next, which was low too. All my other vitals were fine though. Jack's heart rate was fine, but the doctor urged me to go to the hospital just to be safe.

Michael luckily came with me to this appointment. The poor guy was was shoved into the hall way while they checked on me, but he quickly came in to comfort me when they finished. He brought the car the to front of the clinic and they brought me out in a wheelchair (straight through the waiting room, which was also kind of embarrassing) as a precaution. 

Because I am over 20 weeks, I had to go to Labor and Delivery. They checked my vitals and compared them to ones reported earlier at the clinic. They also hooked me up to a fetal heart rate monitor and said Jack was perfectly fine. No signs of labor or distress. They determined that I had low blood sugar, causing my blood pressure to drop and made me dizzy. Plus being anemic on top of it didn't help. They brought me juice and some snacks to munch on.  After an hour, they discharged me with orders to rest and prescription for Colace to help ease my constipation.

So what did I learn from this slightly embarrassing ordeal? I am not quiet sure. All the things they told me about  nutrition and anemia I already knew. They said it's not my fault I am anemic, it's a chronic condition that is being exacerbated by pregnancy. I talked to Michael about how frustrating all this is. At first I was told I was gaining too much weight so I started really watching what I ate (while still ensuring I was eating the required calories and nutrients). Now I am being told I need to eat more and more often!

People keep telling me I should eat meat, and I know they mean well, but it's really pissing me off. I do not believe that meat is going to magically cure my anemia. It's a chronic problem, my body does not know how to maintain iron in the long run. Not to mention I really hate the taste and texture of meat. 

I admit I should being eating more frequently, and I am going to talk to my doctor about increasing my iron. But other than that, I do not think I am doing anything wrong. I eat very healthy, exercise daily, and drink tons of water.  My husband reminded me that our son is growing fine and overall my pregnancy has no major complications. Pregnant women get dizzy, they get anemic, and they need to eat more. I just need to keeping doing what my body is telling me to do and stay calm.

On the plus side, we know we can get to the hospital in 15 minutes if there is no traffic. And we know where to park and where Labor & Delivery is now. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Will You Let Your Son Join a Fraternity?

I am a proud member of the Gamma Phi Beta Sorority. I was initiated at Nu Chapter at the University of Oregon my freshman year and I am the current Chapter Advisor for Epsilon Omicron Chapter at the University of California Santa Cruz.
Aren't I a cute little sophomore? 
Joining was one of the best decisions I made in my life and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I honestly would have dropped out of school entirely if it had not been for the support of the women of Nu Chapter.
Nu Chapter's class of 2010, I would not have graduated if it wasn't for these ladies.
Gamma Phi taught me to hold myself to a higher standard, respect people from different backgrounds and circumstances, and how to contribute to the greater good. During my collegiate time, all members had to maintain a GPA of 2.75 (B-'s or better). In addition, you had to do community service each term. And, you had to attend social issues ( a guest speaker on campus who presents a relevant topic such a human trafficking or alcoholism). There were mandatory attendance events like weekly chapter meetings and philanthropies. You can also hold officer positions too, and I held several over the years.

Flipping pancakes for our annual philanthropy, Pancake Breakfast.
 We raise money for our national philanthropy Campfire USA. I loved being Philanthropy Chair.
And yes, I went to some wild parties that I will never tell my mother about. But you cannot attend parties if you do not meet all these requirements and follow all the rules. If you violate the rules, we have our own disciplinary system in place so we can hold our sisters accountable for their poor choices. It teaches that you must earn the things you want in life. Greek Life is nothing like Animal House (which happened to be filmed at Oregon).

Despite being filmed on my campus, this was SO NOT my experience.
Though I love this movies and it's funny say
partied in Omega House during college.
I also love being an Advisor. Over the past year and a half, I have seen the members of Epsilon Omicron grow into strong women and outstanding leaders.

So, this begs the questions: Will I let my children join a fraternity or sorority? The answer is yes and no....let me explain...

First of all, the sad truth that not everyone is meant to be Greek. Some people will never like the structure and ritual---and there is nothing wrong with that. And they wouldn't be secret societies if everyone was in them! My husband is amazing man, but he is so not a fraternity man. He is what we call an independent. If my son (or maybe my daughter one day) takes after his dad with that independent spirit, I would never pressure him into joining.

Second, there is the issue of non-conformity in the some Greek Systems. While some states/universities do an amazing job of ensuring the safety of all students, other do not. The State of Oregon has very strict hazing laws (zero tolerance actually) and Gamma Phi Beta has very strict housing/membership requirements (in addition to a zero tolerance hazing rule). So pretty much it is impossible for any Chapter to last in the State of Oregon if they try to be Animal House (and I did see two bad chapters get shut down during my collegiate time--and trust me they deserved it). A lot of other states have just as high of standard for nationally recognized Greek houses (see California's here). So if my child went to school in a state with these regulations, I would most likely approve.

Nothing like this ever happened to me, and should never happen to anybody.
Third, there is the issue of local chapters, ones that are not affiliated with a nationally recognized Greek organization. Local chapter usually consist of a few college students who come together to form a small, localized house. Some do this in order to establish Greek life on their campus, in hopes of one day be colonized and accepted into a national organization. Some do this to start a new national organization one day. But there are some (but not all) that do not want to ever be a national organization and want to follow their own rules---meaning they can haze and not have to worry about grades.

My wonderful Epsilon Omicron Chapter collegiates at Fall 2013 recruitment.
I took this picture because I was so proud of them. No Delta House here.
An example of such a local organization actually comes from UCSC and was featured on MTV back in 2004. The bad reputation this behavior left on the campus is still effecting Greek life today! When I tried to introduce myself to some key people on campus last year, the first thing most of them said was "Why are you contacting me? Did your members get in trouble?" Now there are rumors that all of Greek Life are wild drunks, which is making it harder for me to start the process of getting them a Chapter house. No child of mine will ever be allowed to join an unstructured organization. I will never allow my child to haze or harass people (or barbecue a beloved campus animal). I will not spend good money on a education if they just want to goof off all day. As a side note, my current collegiates do not act this either nor would anyone in Gamma Phi Beta allow them to.

And lastly, there is the issue of why they want to join. I have been through several recruitment processes now---as potential member hoping to be selected by a chapter, a initiated member trying to select new sisters, and as an Advisor overseeing the process. I have heard practically every reason for wanting to join a sorority there is. Everything from "I want friends for life!" to "I want to kiss a lot of frat boys." I personally went through recruitment because I felt lost in life and hoped to find some guidance. If my child wanted to join for a similar positive reason, I would absolutely support it. But if I hear the words party, beer, sex, drugs, slacking off, or hazing I will bring their butt home instantly and figure out where I went wrong.

Epsilon Omicron Chapter's Spring Recruitment 2013.
I'm a sister for life. I would be proud if my son or daughter
wanted to carry on my Greek legacy. 
I would be very proud if my son joined a Fraternity one day and matured into one of the outstanding gentlemen that I had the privilege to meet during college. And if I have a daughter one day, I would be more than proud to place my Gamma Phi Beta pin on her one day and call me my sister (I could not type that without tearing up). But only if it right for them, right for the organization, and helps them become a better person.