What Can We Learn from the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918?

In my recent post, Pandemics in History, I, naturally, included the 1918 Flu Pandemic (also called the “Spanish Flu”) on the list. I want to expand on that part of our history for one very obvious reason; there are many parallels between the flu pandemic and the nightmare we have been living for the last 17 months.

First, allow me to be very clear; Covid-19 and the flu ARE NOT the same thing. Yes, I made sure to underline, italicize, bold, and color the “are not” because this is a crucial point. The “flu,” as we know it today, is hardly comparable to covid, but you’ll find that there are a not-so-shocking number of commonalities in government and public response.

Let’s dig a little deeper into the 1918 Flu Pandemic. How did it start and finish? What parallels can you pinpoint between this pandemic and ours? Maybe it can give us a little hope about the future…

a brief summary of the 1918 flu pandemic

Emergency hospital during influenza epidemic, Camp Funston, Kansas (1918). Original image from National Museum of Health and Medicine. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel.

As many as 50 million people died globally when influenza type A (subtype H1N1) hit western Europe in March 1918. It spread rapidly, and by August 1918, a second wave arrived. By then, it had mutated into a more contagious and deadly variant.

“For example, at Camp Devens, Massachusetts, U.S., six days after the first case of influenza was reported, there were 6,674 cases.”1

It reached every country in the world from the crowded train routes of Asia to the more secluded islands, like New Zealand and Samoa. India lost 12.5 million people in total; the United States lost 675,000. The majority of deaths occurred during the second and third waves of the pandemic, when the virus began to hit what was thought to be the most unlikely age groups the hardest.1

Healthy young adults were taken by the virus at unprecedented rates, and this was just one of many firsts in the flu pandemic. To date, historians and scientists continue to debate over the origins and consequences. As a result, there are many misconceptions and falsehoods surrounding the pandemic, including:

  • The flu originated in Spain. This is simply incorrect, and the name “Spanish flu” is largely misleading. The most likely explanation for this name is that it was a consequence of the First World War. The key countries involved in the conflict had every reason to downplay the effects of the pandemic in their countries. Spain, being neutral in the war, did not. As such, the pandemic appeared to be worse there; in reality, it was no worse than the majority of countries.
  • Treatments were just as lethal as the disease. Some argue that the death rate was exacerbated by the large doses of aspirin prescribed by doctors to treat the symptoms of the flu. It is certainly possible that aspirin poisoning was present (doctors were prescribing doses nearly eight times the safe daily amount); however, death rates in parts of the world without easy access to aspirin were just as high.
  • No one knows what made it so deadly. The virus was replicated in 2007 and studied in monkeys. They now know that the leading cause of death in healthy, young people was an overreaction of the immune system. They named it the “cytokine storm.”2

In all the precariousness, you may wonder how public officials handled this pandemic. Does it compare to how our leadership has handled covid?

Official response to the 1918 flu pandemic

“Public health officials, law enforcement officers and politicians had reasons to underplay the severity of the 1918 flu, which resulted in less coverage in the press.”2

The American Soldiers in Presence of Gas suring World War I (1918). Original image from National Museum of Health and Medicine. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel.

With the war in full swing, officials in the United States deemed it necessary to downplay the pandemic’s severity. They feared that acknowledging it globally would weaken their position in the war and embolden their enemies. They did, however, taken action.

Without proper treatment or vaccinations available, officials had to resort to preventative measures to stop the spread of the virus. Many of these will sound very familiar:

  • They pushed the use of disinfectants and regular sterilization.
  • Cities with larger outbreaks were placed under quarantine.
  • In some areas, public places were closed for extended periods of time.
  • They wrote legislation to stop the use of common cups and utensils in public places.
  • Masks were mandated nationally.
  • Schools shut down, but often opened too soon.
  • Committees were formed to canvas rural areas for unreported cases.
  • Health Departments released posters and imagery to educate the community on the importance of hand-washing and personal hygiene.

Hospitals also had to adjust their practices to accommodate the influx of patients and contain the spread within the facilities. In keeping with the preventative measures for any contagious, airborne disease, they tried to utilize well-ventilated spaces, like large rooms with high ceilings and even outdoor areas.

Of course, just as we are seeing right now with covid, they experienced massive overflow in hospitals. Historical photographs show nurses attending to patients in rows of beds inside gymnasiums and on balconies. They practiced continuous disinfection and sterilization and “utilized scientific ideas of germ theory to reduce transmission.”3

Walter Reed Hospital flu ward (ca. 1910–1920). Original from Library of Congress. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel.

how did it end?

In fact, there was no definitive end to the 1918 pandemic, which is a significant bummer. Given that I spent nearly all of 2020 pregnant and worried and now all of 2021 a new mother and worried, a part of me is holding out hope for some miraculous day when I will walk out of my house without an N-95 and a bottle of Purell and just feel safe. I won’t hold my breath.

In 1919, they thought the pandemic had ended. Cases dissipated in the summer season when people were spending more time outside, but they shot back up in the winter when everyone was indoors again. Once so much of the world population had been infected and so many lives had been lost, there simply weren’t enough susceptible people left to create another pandemic. Of course, that does not mean there weren’t epidemics.4

Today we have the vaccine, and we simply live with the flu. It is what it is. You go to the grocery store for a gallon of milk and stop by the pharmacy for a flu shot. Easy as pie. We have much bigger fish to fry these days.

what can we learn from the flu pandemic?

Women wearing surgical masks during the influenza epidemic, Brisbane (1919). Original image from State Library of Queensland. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel.

One key difference between the flu pandemic and the covid pandemic is the faith that the population had in science. In 1918, there was much more of it. When people were asked to put on masks, they did. When they were asked not to get too close to each other, they didn’t. When they were quarantined, they complied, and when kids didn’t go to school, parents understood.

The most important difference is the vaccine. It took several years to develop the flu vaccine, and even though we have it now, it did not play a role in the end of the pandemic. Now, more than 100 years later, medicine did what it always does; it improved. We can develop a vaccine more quickly because we have been developing vaccine technology for over a century. Vaccines eradicate infectious diseases. The proof is in our history.

Lastly, one key similarity is that people were shaken in the beginning and gradually started to break the rules. Without preventative measures and in the absence of a vaccine, of course the spread continued, and the flu came back in deadly waves because…surprise, surprise…”a pandemic isn’t over just because we’re over it.”

click below to read more from pandemic-reset.com…

Sources:

  1. Britannica. “Influenza pandemic of 1918-19.”
  2. Healthline. “1918 flu pandemic facts.”
  3. Stanford University. “The Public Health Response.”
  4. Time Magazine. “How Does a Pandemic End? Here’s What We Can Learn from the 1918 Flu.”

25 Interesting Hurricane Facts You May Want Not Know

Hurricane Ida is upon, so here are some facts about hurricanes that you may not have known.

Within a single second, a large hurricane will release the same amount of energy as ten atomic bombs.

  • Nearly half of the hurricanes that hit the United States, hit Florida.
  • Most deaths caused by hurricanes are the result of towering walls of water covering land.
  • Hurricanes can also produce tornados.
  • A hurricane can dump 2.4 trillion gallons of rain water in a single day.
  • Water must be at least 150 feet and over 80° for a hurricane to form.
Photo by hitesh choudhary on Pexels.com
  • More than 1/3 of pet owners do not have a disaster relief plan for their cats and dogs.
  • Hurricanes are made up of storm clouds that rotate counter clockwise around the eye. The storm clouds create the eye wall and produce high winds and precipitation. The eye, on the other hand, can be relatively calm with light winds and no precipitation.
  • From 1953-1978, hurricanes were given only female names (*eye roll*).
  • Hurricane Katrina was the most expensive hurricane, costing $108 billion in damages.
  • Hurricanes do not combine when they run into each other, but they will spin around one another.
  • Since 1944, four planes have been lost while flying over hurricanes (new fear unlocked).
Photo by NASA on Unsplash

The largest hurricane ever recorded was called Typhoon Tip. It happened in 1979 and was roughly the size of half of the United States.

  • The difference between a tropical storm and a hurricane is wind speed. Tropical storms typically have 36 to 47 mph winds; whereas, hurricanes are around 74 mph.
  • The most dangerous part of a hurricane is the eye wall, which is typically made of clouds and thunderstorms.
  • The point when a hurricane reaches land is called a storm surge. As water levels rise, the force creates waves that can reach 20 feet high.
  • More people die from hurricanes than any other type of weather disaster.
  • One hundred fifty-eight hurricanes hit the United States in the 20th century.
Photo by Ray Bilcliff on Pexels.com

The deadliest weather disaster in American history happened in 1900 when a hurricane hit Texas and killed 8000 people, but the deadliest hurricane ever recorded hit Bangladesh in 1970 and killed more than one quarter of a million people.

  • Despite their bad reputations, hurricanes are a necessary part of the Earth’s weather system. They carry warm air from the tropics to the poles and create temperature balance.
  • The average hurricane is about 2000 times wider than the largest tornado.
  • Hurricane Andrew in 1992 created 62 tornadoes. Hurricane Beulah in 1967 created 141.
  • Hurricane season is from May to November, but the busiest month is September. August comes in second.
  • Lists of hurricane names are repeated each year. Those that created the most death and destruction are retired, like Andrew and Katrina.
  • CLICK HERE to see the list of hurricane names from now until 2026. See if you’re on the list!

click below to read more from pandemic-reset.com…

Sources:

Does the “Cry It Out” Method Cause Psychological Damage?

If you simply type “cry it out method” into Google, the results are overwhelmingly contradictory and confusing. I’ve scrolled through social media and seen posts from child psychologists proclaiming, “the cry it out method is torture!” I’ve also seen articles online from pediatric neurologists saying that there’s no physical evidence suggesting that the cry it out method causes any damage, at least not the updated versions of it.

Who do we believe? Is the cry it out method damaging? Is it safe? Has it been improved upon, maybe? Do doctors against the cry it out method have an alternative suggestion for getting our kids to sleep independently? These are the questions I asked myself before researching this topic.

Photo by Lisa on Pexels.com

I’ve been very fortunate to have a baby that is a fairly good sleeper. From the time he was born, I stuck religiously to a nighttime routine and never tried co-sleeping (out of pure fear and anxiety). I’ve shared my nighttime routine in this blog. You can read it here. Thankfully, he has slept well most nights without needing the cry it out method or any method for that matter.

However, we’re moving into toddlerhood very soon. Things can change and sleeping habits can regress. I’m not out of the woods yet, and mama needs her sleep. As such, I looked into this “cry it out method” question and tried to decipher some train of reason within all the disagreements. Most importantly, I wanted to avoid the really bad choices.

This is what I found. I hope it helps someone…

origins of the cry it out method

Buckle up, because part is kind of sad. We can trace the notion of letting babies just “cry it out” all the way back to the 1880s. The medical community was adamant about protecting infants from germs and advised against touching them too much.

In the early 1900s, a behaviorist named John Watson argued strongly his opinion on “the dangers of too much affection,” particularly too much motherly love. He suggested that a child with an affectionate mother would turn into a useless, dependent person with nothing to offer society. Of course, now we know that to be entirely false.

Around that same time, mothers were encouraged to hold their babies only when absolutely necessary and train them to sit silently in a crib by the middle of their first year…because, according to Watson, parents shouldn’t be constantly inconvenienced by the simple existence of an infant.

We hear that more often than we realize, even today. We’re encouraged to let them cry in order to teach them independence so that we can get our lives back. It’s natural, but I would argue, as I hope most would, that John Watson was a little extreme.

Finally, the cry it out method as we know it was made popular by Dr. Luther Emmett Holt over 100 years ago. His book, The Care and Feeding of Children, was the pinnacle of childrearing education. Of course, much has changed in 100 years.2

Two types of cry it out method

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I was surprised to learn that there are actually two different types of the “cry it out” method. The extinction method and the graduated extinction method differ in the amount of attention you provide to the crying baby.

  1. Extinction: This is the most common CIO. This method instructs you to put your baby to bed and ignore his or her cries. The outcome is simple; the baby will cry until he or she literally can’t anymore. They typically give up out of shear exhaustion.
  2. Graduated Extinction: This version is more controlled. It’s sometimes called “sleep training” and is a gentler variation of CIO. Once the baby is put to bed and crying begins, you reenter to comfort your baby only every other time you hear cries, increasing the crying time with each interval.

The graduated extinction method has been adjusted in various ways over time to lighten the harshness of simply closing the door and letting your child just deal.

what are the arguments against cry it out?

Dr. Margot Sunderland, child psychotherapist with decades of experience, said:

“I would be very surprised if any parent continued to use ‘cry it out if they knew the full extent of what’s happening to their infant’s brain. The infant’s brain is so vulnerable to stress. After birth, it’s not yet finished! In the first year of life, cells are still moving to where they need to be. This is a process known as migration, and it’s hugely influenced by uncomforted stress.”

excerpt from interview by BellyBelly (CLICK HERE to read more)

This is a common argument against the cry it out method. Some research does suggest that excessive, prolonged crying caused by stress could be linked to changes in the brain during a period of vitally important growth.

Dr. Darcia F. Narvaez, professor of psychology at the University of notre dame, said:

“One strangely popular notion still around today is to let babies ‘cry it out’ when they are left alone, isolated in cribs, or in other devices. This comes from a misunderstanding of child brain development.”

“Babies grow from being held. Their bodies get deregulated when they are physically separated from caregivers.”

“The brain is developing quickly. When the baby is greatly distressed, it creates conditions for damage to synapses, the network construction which is ongoing in the infant brain. The hormone cortisol is released. In excess, it’s a neuron killer but its consequences may not be apparent immediately.”

excerpt from Dr. Narvaez’s article in Psychology Today (CLICK HERE to read the article)

what are the arguments for cry it out?

The opposing opinions on the cry it out method tend to center around the variations of graduated extinction. Most doctors agree that putting your child in the crib and letting them scream until they fall asleep is not a good idea. However, they have differing opinions on alternative forms of sleep training.

Dr. Sujay Kansagra, pediatric neurologist at Duke University, said:

“Most of the debate around sleep training stems from the process of allowing an infant to cry. For those that are adamantly opposed to letting a child cry, but are frustrated by the lack of consistent sleep, there are other sleep training techniques that don’t involve simply leaving an infant in the crib to cry endlessly. Two examples of such methods are fading and scheduled awakenings.”

excerpt from article at Duke University of Medicine website (CLICK HERE to read more)

This is the general consensus from doctors that support sleep training methods. There are other ways to help your child sleep. “Sleep training” does not refer to the cry it out method. In fact, it is an umbrella term that encompasses an array of techniques that parents may try, most of which are approved by doctors.

The approach is much gentler. Here are some examples:

  • Place the baby in the crib and soothe him by rubbing or patting his back until he falls asleep. You then leave the room and come back only to soothe again when the baby cries, allowing them to crying a little more each time.
  • Another method, called camping out, involves sleeping next to the baby’s crib until they become increasingly more sleep independent.

If you are currently trying to get your infant or toddler on a better sleep schedule, talk to your doctor. Find out what options you have. You would be very surprised to learn that there are a plethora of techniques proven to be gentler and more effective than “cry it out.”

my thoughts on the subject…

Photo by Laura Garcia on Pexels.com

As a parent to an infant, I just can’t get on board with crying it out in basically any form. My gut tells me to get up and hold my son when he cries. Of course, there have been many times that he has awoken me from a dead sleep in the middle of the night, and I would say that most of those times, my dazed reaction is frustration. However, I can’t fight the instinct. The science seems to back that instinct, so I’ll continue to lead with that.

Overall, the general consensus in the medical community seems to be that the antiquated method of just “cry it out” is just that, antiquated. It’s time to bury it. “This is how we used to do it” can be a dangerous game to play. Progress is necessary, and behavioral science is booming with progress everyday. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we, as a society, need a harsh lesson in behavioral studies.

click below to read more from pandemic-reset.com…

Sources:

  1. Belly Belly. “Cry It Out Method | 6 Baby Experts Who Advise Against It”
  2. Michaeleen Doucleff, NPR. “Sleep Training Truths: What Science Can (and Can’t) Tell Us About Crying It Out.”
  3. Sunjay Kansagra, MD, Duke School of Medicine. “Sleep training your child: myths and facts every parent should know.”
  4. Darcia F. Narvaez, Ph.D., Psychology Today. “Dangers of ‘Crying It Out'”

Blood Types and Covid: Does Your Blood Type Make You Less Vulnerable to Covid?

Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

There are rumors floating around in the ocean of covid information and misinformation about the connection between COVID-19 and blood types. You may have heard that blood type O is less likely to catch covid. It certainly piqued my interest when I heard it. So, what’s true? What’s the science behind blood types and covid? Is type O safer? Says who? What about severity? Are any blood types more susceptible? I looked into it with all these questions about covid and blood types in mind, starting with…

What even are blood types?

To be honest, I didn’t know my own blood type until I had a baby last year. I’m O positive, by the way. Until recently, I never bothered to look up what that means. Fun fact for my fellow O positives, we are popular. Apparently, 37.4% of the population is O positive, making us the majority. If you’re curious about your blood type, here are the population stats:

Blood TypeOccurrence in PeopleFrequency
O+1 in 337.4%
O-1 in 15 6.6%
A+1 in 335.7%
A-1 in 16 6.3%
Source: Stanford Blood Center
Blood TypeOccurrence in PeopleFrequency
B+1 in 12 8.5%
B-1 in 671.5%
AB+1 in 293.4%
AB-1 in 1670.6%
Source: Stanford Blood Center

This chart does not provide any information about a connection between blood types and covid. However, it does speak to all the rare blood types out there, and it’s saying “please donate!” All you O negatives, you’re the most in demand because you are the only universal donor.

Speaking from personal experience...I lost one fourth of my body's entire blood content at once when I gave birth. I'm forever grateful to whomever donated that bag of blood used for my transfusion.

so, How do blood types relate to covid?

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in late 2019, researchers have administered many population-based studies on the standard risk factors, including age, obesity, preexisting medical conditions, race, ethnicity, and sex. They have even investigated blood types as risk factors for covid.

This is not a new hypothesis to test, and blood type has been determined a valid risk factor in several disease processes, including infectious diseases. Blood types have been linked to bacterial and viral infections before; therefore, it’s not a stretch to assume that it might be a risk factor for covid as well.

What are people saying about blood types and covid, and what is true?

As everyone knows, social media platforms like Facebook and TikTok have algorithms, and those algorithms know what you like and how to show it to you. If, like me, you’re impatient and a fan of instant gratification, TikTok is the app for you. In 2020, the algorithm picked up, pretty quickly, that I was consuming covid news like chocolate cake.

For quite some time now, I have seen several posts, both serious and satire, talking about the link between covid and blood types. Overwhelmingly, the consensus was that type O blood is significantly less likely to catch covid than the other blood types. Of course, there were a few posts, often from the POV of a hospital bed with captions like, “I’m type O, and I got covid” that stated the contrary. Now we should ask the very vital question, “where is the thin line of truth in the nonsense?”

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) published a study on July 18, 2021 from the Elsevier Public Health Emergency Collection about the relationship between blood type and covid infection (CLICK HERE to read). The question addressed was the same I’ve been discussing, the conclusion was (surprise, surprise!) significantly more convoluted than the videos on TikTok.

What do the studies say about blood types and covid?

What I learned is that there have been nine large studies on the correlation between blood type and covid-related illness, and most of them report that there is an association between the two. Eight of them reported association. Four of them found some blood types to be more severely affected by covid while five of them did not.

You may be asking, “what does that mean?” Well, it means that the studies were inconsistent. However, what they did find is plenty of very important information about covid and some overlapping trends. For example, several studies showed that type A might be more susceptible of infection while type O and Rh-negative groups may not be. Ultimately, the studies as a collective came to one important conclusion for now…

“At this point in time, there does not appear to be any relationship between blood type and COVID-19-related severity of illness or mortality. Current literature does not support blood type as a part of a predictive model of viral illness or mortality…”

PMCID: PMC8286549

is your blood type more or less vulnerable to covid?

Is type O less vulnerable to covid? The answer for now is no, and I think there is a valuable lesson to be learned here. If I placed all my trust in TikTok trends and shackled it to my mental vault as fact, I’d have assumed my husband, my son, and myself were all safe from covid because we all have O blood types, but I’d be wrong.

If you’re out there thinking you are covid-proof because you have a variation of the O blood type, please be careful. There is not yet nearly enough information on the blood types as a risk factor for covid, and no one is invincible.

Disclaimer: All the information in this article comes from a reputable, peer-reviewed source published by a medical journal. Nothing has been interpreted by myself or anyone other than medical professionals.

Click below to read more from pandemic-reset.com…

Source:

  • Kim Y, Latz CA, DeCarlo CS, et al. Relationship between blood type and outcomes following COVID-19 infection [published online ahead of print, 2021 Jul 18]. Semin Vasc Surg. 2021;doi:10.1053/j.semvascsurg.2021.05.005

Pandemics in History

Did you know there have only been a few actual pandemics in history? Epidemics and endemics, yes, there have been plenty, but there is just a small number of recorded pandemics in human history, and it’s hard to believe sometimes that we are actually living through one right now. In modern history, this is the worst, but take a look at some pandemics of the past and how we got through them…

Here are some other pandemics in history…

The plague of justinian

(541-750 CE). Multiple bubonic plagues occurred throughout history, but scholars refer to the Plague of Justinian as the first pandemic. It’s origins have not been identified, but what we do know it is that it wiped out nearly half of the population during the rule of Roman Emperor Justinian from present day Turkey to what we now know as England. Today, we know that bubonic plague refers to a deadly bacterium called Yersinia pestis that travels through infected fleas and lice found on rats and humans alike. (If you’ve read “8 Nasty Historical Facts You Probably Didn’t Know,” you’re aware that people have historically struggled with proper hygiene.) First hand accounts of the disease describe fever, chills, and lymph nodes that are swollen and even oozing. It spread so rapidly that families were often unable to properly bury their loved ones. In Constantinople, the ruling government assisted in collecting bodies and burying them in mass graves outside city walls. Today, bacterial infections are relatively easily cured thanks to modern medicine and antibiotics. 1

the black death pandemic

1347-1352. The bubonic plague returned centuries later. It traveled from Asia Minor to the Crimean Peninsula via Tartar armies attacking a city called Kaffa on the shores of the Black Sea in present day Ukraine. The Tartars successfully sieged the city, and first hand accounts tell the tale of soldiers using a catapult to hurl the dead bodies of plague victims over the sides of the city walls. Traders fled the city during the siege and carried the plague with them to present day Turkey and across the Mediterranean to the shores of Sicily, which became ground zero of the mass spread across Europe. The Tartar soldiers made their way through eastern European countries and into India, leaving a trail of death along the way. Accounts of symptoms mimic those of the first bubonic plague. They spoke of “tumours in the groin or armpits,” which we now know to be swollen lymph nodes. Today we call this pandemic “The Black Death.” In the mid 14th century, they referred to it as “the pestilence.”2

the flu pandemic

1918-1919. Before COVID made its debut, the 1918 influenza outbreak was the worse pandemic in modern history. Five hundred million people were infected, 50 million of them died, nearly 700,000 of those were in the United States. Studies of the virus showed genes of avian origin, and with no vaccine or antibiotics to treat the bacterial infections common with the flu, the death toll was devastating. The only means of control available might sound familiar: “isolation, quarantine, good personal hygiene, use of disinfectants, and limitations of public gatherings, which were applied unevenly.”3 U.S. citizens were ordered to wear masks. Schools, churches, and other public places were shut down, but another wave of the pandemic hit when soldiers started to come home from war. Pressure to appear patriotic and censored media downplaying the severity of the disease led to many wrong turns. By the summer of 1919, the pandemic finally ended. The reason: so many were infected that nearly enough of the population either died or survived with immunity.4

the aids pandemic

1981-Present. It is very likely that HIV and AIDS debuted before the 1980s; however, with no obvious signs or symptoms, many may have died without ever knowing they were infected. Many believe it started in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the early 20th century and originated in chimpanzees, then transmitted to humans. By 1980, HIV, which can develop into AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome), had reached Africa, the Americas, Europe, and Australia, reaching pandemic status. It was first recorded as severe cases of pneumonia and thought to predominantly affect the gay community until reports of transmission in heterosexual relations emerged in 1983.5 Initial infection of HIV can manifest as flu-like symptoms, but for the most part, it is asymptomatic until it develops into AIDS. AIDS symptoms include weight loss, fatigue, night sweats, and reoccurring infections. To date there is no known cure, but treatment has come a long way. Because HIV and AIDS are not airborne diseases, awareness and prevention techniques are the best strategies to protect yourself from contraction.

swine flu pandemic

2009. In 1976, a subtype of H1N1 known as the Swine Flu emerged in Fort Dix, NJ where one young man died and 13 were infected. The U.S. government, fearing a pandemic, hurried to create a mass immunization program. Just a under a decade before, a new strand of the flu had caused the death of over one million people globally. The immunization program was rushed and the swine flu pandemic of 1976 never happened, but a similar virus did make a global impact some 33 years later. The first occurrence of swine flu was in America during April 2009. It was not the same combination of flu viruses detected in Fort Dix in 1976, and it spread very quickly on a global scale. By June, it was declared a pandemic, and one year later, it resulted in “60.8 million illnesses, 273,304 hospitalizations and 12,469 deaths in the U.S.” Vaccinations were made available in October 2009, and the World Health Organization declared an end to the spread in August 2010. Global estimates are scattered, but anywhere from 150,000 to 575,000 people died during the swine flu pandemic.6

Stay safe out there everyone. It’s not over, and we’re relying solely on the compassion and empathy of others at this point.

Click below to read more from pandemic-reset.com…

Sources:

  1. Kristina Sessa, The Ohio State University, Origins. “The Justinianic Plague.”
  2. John Frith, JMVH. “The History of Plague – Part 1. The Three Great Pandemics.”
  3. CDC. “History of 1918 Flu Pandemic.”
  4. History.com. “Spanish Flu.”
  5. Avert. “History of HIV and AIDS Overview.”
  6. Becker’s Hospital Review. “A look back at swine flu: 8 facts about the world’s last pandemic in 2009.”

Learning Expressions: What Infants Learn by Looking at Us

During one of my son’s early checkups, his doctor asked me if he smiles and laughs at home. I replied, “yes, all the time.” At the next checkup, she asked the same question. And then again at the next…until I started to wonder, why does she keep asking me this? What would it mean if he didn’t? Does she think I’m lying?

The next time she asked, the conversation went something like this…

Doctor: Does he smile and laugh?

Me: Yes, all the time. Out of curiosity, why do you always ask me that?

Doctor: He’s typically very somber here; so, I need to know if he smiles and laughs at home.

Me: Well, he’s a pandemic baby. He’s been around no one but myself and my husband since birth. He doesn’t go anywhere with the exception of this office, which isn’t often. He’s probably super confused by these masks, and nothing here is familiar.

Doctor: Right, that makes sense.

Then she told me something that really sparked my curiosity about the correlation between infant emotional development and facial expression. She said that doctors often smile at babies to see if they will smile back because children that smile do it because someone at home smiles at them.

At home, where he has been with me since he was born, my son smiles when I or my husband smile; if we laugh, he will even start laughing with us. He knows our faces. He recognizes our smiles. The lady in the white coat that he has only seen for 10 minutes a handful of times in his life is likely not very familiar to him.

After this, I started to think about my behavior. When my son, Zain, was about four or five months old, we started to notice that he watches us. When my husband and I spoke to each other, he would look back and forth, watching everything we did. Sometimes, he would just stare.

I started to think about how my reactions and tone of voice must have a major affect on him. How does he process this? If I’m upset, does he know? Then I decided to dig a little deeper…

learning expressions begins at birth

Studies have shown that newborns can distinguish between the face of their mother and the faces of others within hours or even minutes after being born. It’s likely they pair her voice, which they recognize from their in utero days, with her face. I was surprised to learn that it only takes a few days for them to tell the difference between expressions like happy, sad, angry, etc.

Roughly half way through the first year, infants can match emotions depicted through facial expression with its vocal equivalent. Has a child ever turned to look at you abruptly when you say something in a more assertive or angry tone? They are likely expecting a certain facial expression when they look at you. They recognize tonal changes and look for verification in physical expression.

By the age of five, children can typically read and process facial expressions with the same understanding as adults. How they pick this up so quickly is still unknown. There are theories that children are simply born with it; others say they just learn what they see all the time. 1

Why is learning expressions important for children?

Facial expressions become a vital part of their learning process starting as early as six months. As babies begin to explore, they run into obstacles that instinctively make them cautious. How do they weigh that caution? Typically, they look at mom and read her facial expression.

Zain is almost 10 months old. He’s not crawling, but he reaches for anything and everything in sight. He has fallen over and bumped his head a couple of times. It has always been very minor, and when he does, I try to smile and keep my tone calm. I’ve noticed that if I jump up and react with distress, so does he because he always looks for me first. My reaction directly influences his.

Of course, if it hurts, he still cries, but he gets over it much more quickly if I’m calm and smiling.

what does this mean for parents?

In truth, it means we have an even bigger responsibility than simply keeping our children alive. Our interactions with them in the first months and years of their lives play a vital role in forming who they become.

“The foundations for attention, perception, language abilities and social development are built in the first year of life.”

Lisa Scott, BOLD

To be honest, when I first read this I had flashbacks of every time I turned on Storybots and put Zain in the activity table so I could get something done. The “mom guilt” is always lurking around the corner, just waiting to undo all the hard work I’ve putting into feeling like I’m doing my best. Occasionally, I have to slap her back in her corner and keep on.

In reality, we all have lives and things that keep us busy. Two working parents is not at all uncommon here. Not having every waking moment to spend with your child is absolutely normal. To be honest, it’s necessary; we all need time for ourselves. What’s important is what we do with the time we have with our children.

Studies show…

Photo by MART PRODUCTION on Pexels.com

I’m going to link a few articles from academic studies on the importance of those first few years. Parents living in the United States should make note of this and pressure their policymakers.

I certainly do not want to step on a soapbox, but the reality is that the U.S. does not properly care for new parents. Our standards for maternity and paternity leave are rudimentary and negligent at best. We pale in comparison to every other developed country because our policymakers do not consider the science behind these formative years.

If you’d like to learn more, check out this study from the National Library of Medicine. More related studies are linked below the abstract in that link.

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Sources:

  1. The Conversation. “Face time: here’s how infants learn from facial expressions.”
  2. BOLD. “The importance of faces for infants’ learning.”

Montessori Toys: What’s the Hype and Is It Worth the Price?

I was first exposed to the word Montessori in my early twenties. I worked for a large bookstore chain roughly an hour away from the single-stoplight town where I spent the majority of my life. One of my co-workers, a smart, kind, talented, well-adjusted girl named Elizabeth, told me she had gone to a Montessori elementary school.

I graduated with a class of 35 students and had never even heard the word Montessori before that day. To this day, my mind goes right back to Elizabeth when I hear it, and if you have small children, you see or hear it anytime you’re looking at toys with developmental benefits.

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

If you’re considering going the strictly Montessori route with your child, you may be curious about the benefits. Is it worth it? What’s makes it so expensive? What does Montessori even mean?! I asked myself all these questions and put my research chops to the test. I also tried it with my son to see how it went.

Here’s what I learned and the conclusion that I’ve drawn…

The montessori experience

Montessori toys are a product of the Montessori education system created by Dr. Maria Montessori. If you are a fan of the “all inclusive,” you will no doubt appreciate this child-focused approach to learning.

Montessori schools nurture the “cognitive, emotional, social, and physical” areas of child development.1 The key is self-motivation. The learning process is guided but self-paced, and kids are in classrooms with students of varying ages.

“Within the community of multi-age classroom – designed to create natural opportunities for independence, citizenship, and accountability – children embrace multi-sensory learning and passionate inquiry.”

-American Montessori Society

This concept was then taken from the private school sector and turned into a commercial toy venture. Now, people that cannot afford to send their children to private Montessori schools can bring the experience into their homes.

How does this translate in montessori toys?

What makes a toy Montessori? First and foremost, they should stimulate learning. In essence children learn to use the object in a way that develops fine motor skills.

Do they have to be wooden? Realistically, no, they do not have to be made of wood. In theory, Legos are Montessori, but there is a reason for the use of natural materials beyond the pleasing aesthetic. Using natural materials is obviously healthier, but it also has developmental benefits. Wooden toys provide a sensory experience that plastic does not.

Wooden Montessori toys are also better for the environment. If you are environmentally conscious, this is the best option for your family. Also, we all know that babies put EVERYTHING straight into their mouths. Toys made of natural materials are non-toxic.

Montessori toys you find for home are the same toys you would find in a Montessori classroom. They promote the same cognitive, emotional, and physical development.

why are montessori toys so expensive?

Everyone knows that top quality costs more. High priced Montessori toys are built to last. Most are made with sustainably harvested wood, nontoxic paint, safe plastics, and organic cotton. In terms of quality, they typically are the best.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that less can be more. Montessori toys are simple. Kids do not need much to entertain themselves. I love the bells and whistles. I want the elaborate kitchen toys that I can play with too, but my son is happy with an abacus and some cups.

If we limit what we buy and focus on quality over quantity, Montessori will not break the bank.

who sells montessori toys?

Thanks to the boom of the Montessori trend, there are so many companies specializing in these toys. Each of them offer something different. I’ve narrowed down my favorites based on what they offer that makes them unique:

Lovevery: montessori kits

Lovevery makes the Montessori experience so easy. You can go to their website and navigate through their entire collection, or you can sign up for Play Kits.

Play Kits are designed to do all the research for you. You received a box every two months with everything your child needs to enhance development at their stage. Everything is safe and sustainable.

fat brain toys: great selection for every age

Fat Brain Toys has a huge selection of Montessori toys for every age. You can search by age, which go all the way to teens and adults. They have great quality products at a range of prices. For someone new to the Montessori world, this is a great place to start. Also, it works well for control freaks (like myself) that want to make all the choices.

melissa & doug: affordable montessori

In all likelihood, we have all heard of Melissa & Doug. You can find their products at every major department store (Target, Walmart, etc.). They do not market themselves as strictly Montessori, but they sell many Montessori-approved products.

My son has a ridiculous amount of toys, but the Melissa & Doug activity table, gifted to him by wonderful friends, is his favorite. Everything on it teaches him important developmental skills like dexterity and object permanence.

here are a few of my favorite toys…

click for more info

is montessori better?

To be honest, I understand the appeal, and I love the aesthetic. Visually pleasing, developmentally beneficial, environmentally friendly, affordable substitutes available…what’s not to love? With that said, there is absolutely no shame in throwing a Fisher Price toy in your cart. I have combination of everything in my house.

My son has a Skip Hop push walker simply because I thought it was really cute, and I didn’t have $150 to drop on a wooden one. I will say that I do buy Melissa & Doug more often than not, and they have some great toys for older children.

All in all, do what feels right for you and your kid! No one knows your baby better than you. 🙂

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Source:

  1. American Montessori Society. “What is Montessori Education?”

The Mausoleum of Mohammed V: Where Morocco’s Famous King Lies

Two kings and a prince were laid to rest in the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, and although Rabat, Morocco’s capitol city, has so much to offer, this remains one of my favorite places to visit. Just knowing what this dynasty means to Morocco creates a unique atmosphere; you can feel the presence of royalty and historical significance when you step inside.

It took nine years and over 400 men to complete this extravagant monument in honor of one of Morocco’s most important leaders. Every inch of the structure, from the perimeter gate to the brass installations, is carved with intricate precision. It is a true testament to Morocco’s distinguished style.

On either side of the entry are signature Moroccan fountains. Vibrantly colored mosaics behind porcelain pools of water display the attention to detail that Moroccan architecture does so well.

When King Hassan II commissioned the mausoleum’s construction for his father, Mohammed V, in 1962, he positioned it inside Yacoub Al Mansour Square, where Abu Yusuf Yaqub al-Mansur’s unfinished mosque and minaret (later named Hassan Tower) sat, incomplete, for nearly 800 years.

hassan Tower and the unfinished masjid

Construction on Hassan Tower began in 1191 and halted abruptly in 1199 when al-Mansur died. At only 144 feet, the tower never reached al-Mansur’s goal, but it remains an important monument in Moroccan history.

Minaret’s serve a purpose. They are connected to mosques and used for the adhan (call for prayer). Like the tower, the mosque was never completed. Today, 348 columns still stand where the mosque would have been, directly across from the mausoleum.

If you are familiar with the minaret of Kaoutoubia Mosque in Marrakesh (photos here in Visit Morocco: Marrakesh), you’ll recognize the design of Hassan Tower. Although, it never came to fruition, it would have been significantly taller and wider than the minaret of Kaoutoubia.

The tomb of kings

Sultan Mohammed V was king of Morocco from 1927 to 1953 and again from 1957 to 1961. He played a vital role in gaining Morocco’s independence in 1956, removing them from French colonial rule.

The French appointed Mohammed in 1927, assuming he would be a compliant puppet leader. He proved to be difficult when he actively pushed Moroccan nationalist sentiments and policy during his leadership; they exiled him in 1953. He returned in 1957 to rule over a free, autonomous Morocco.

When Mohammed’s son, Hassan II, began construction on his father’s mausoleum, he wanted to create an elaborate space that allowed for Moroccan’s to visit his tomb; it was always meant to be more than a grave.

The tomb itself is square. Beautiful Moroccan doors and arches allow entrance from every side, and young men dressed in uniforms reminicient of The Queen’s Guard at Buckingham Palace stand alert at every entrance.

You enter onto a 360° balcony overlooking the tombs of Mohammed V, his son King Hassan II, and Prince Abdullah, Hassan’s son. Mohammed is placed in the middle, directly under the stunning, domed ceiling. Their coffins are surprisingly understated.

A masjid for kings

Beside the King’s final resting place is a mosque. Just days before our visit, we saw news footage of the current king praying inside with his court. Rabat is the home of kings, and Morocco’s current king proudly displays a chart tracing his lineage from the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), Islam’s beloved prophet, in the square.

Entrance to the mosque next to the mausoleum (feat. my husband)

I never stepped foot inside the mosque. I watched as tourists and Moroccans alike lined up to take photos in front of the giant brass doors with traditional arches and carvings to match the mausoleums. If there is one thing I learned for sure, it’s that Moroccans know how to lay the dead to rest in style.

You can see more people places in Morocco is you check out my “Visit Morocco” blog.

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Visit Morocco: Mausoleum of Mohammed V

Two kings and a prince were laid to rest in the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, and although Rabat, Morocco’s capitol city, has so much to offer, this remains one of my favorite places to visit. Just knowing what this dynasty means to Morocco creates a unique atmosphere; you can feel the presence of royalty and historical significance when you step inside.

It took nine years and over 400 men to complete this extravagant monument in honor of one of Morocco’s most important leaders. Every inch of the structure, from the perimeter gate to the brass installations, is carved with intricate precision. It is a true testament to Morocco’s distinguished style.

On either side of the entry are signature Moroccan fountains. Vibrantly colored mosaics behind porcelain pools of water display the attention to detail that Moroccan architecture does so well.

When King Hassan II commissioned the mausoleum’s construction for his father, Mohammed V, in 1962, he positioned it inside Yacoub Al Mansour Square, where Abu Yusuf Yaqub al-Mansur’s unfinished mosque and minaret (later named Hassan Tower) sat, incomplete, for nearly 800 years.

hassan Tower and the unfinished masjid

Construction on Hassan Tower began in 1191 and halted abruptly in 1199 when al-Mansur died. At only 144 feet, the tower never reached al-Mansur’s goal, but it remains an important monument in Moroccan history.

Minaret’s serve a purpose. They are connected to mosques and used for the adhan (call for prayer). Like the tower, the mosque was never completed. Today, 348 columns still stand where the mosque would have been, directly across from the mausoleum.

If you are familiar with the minaret of Kaoutoubia Mosque in Marrakesh (photos here in Visit Morocco: Marrakesh), you’ll recognize the design of Hassan Tower. Although, it never came to fruition, it would have been significantly taller and wider than the minaret of Kaoutoubia.

The tomb of kings

Sultan Mohammed V was king of Morocco from 1927 to 1953 and again from 1957 to 1961. He played a vital role in gaining Morocco’s independence in 1956, removing them from French colonial rule.

The French appointed Mohammed in 1927, assuming he would be a compliant puppet leader. He proved to be difficult when he actively pushed Moroccan nationalist sentiments and policy during his leadership; they exiled him in 1953. He returned in 1957 to rule over a free, autonomous Morocco.

When Mohammed’s son, Hassan II, began construction on his father’s mausoleum, he wanted to create an elaborate space that allowed for Moroccan’s to visit his tomb; it was always meant to be more than a grave.

The tomb itself is square. Beautiful Moroccan doors and arches allow entrance from every side, and young men dressed in uniforms reminicient of The Queen’s Guard at Buckingham Palace stand alert at every entrance.

You enter onto a 360° balcony overlooking the tombs of Mohammed V, his son King Hassan II, and Prince Abdullah, Hassan’s son. Mohammed is placed in the middle, directly under the stunning, domed ceiling. Their coffins are surprisingly understated.

A masjid for kings

Beside the King’s final resting place is a mosque. Just days before our visit, we saw news footage of the current king praying inside with his court. Rabat is the home of kings, and Morocco’s current king proudly displays a chart tracing his lineage from the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), Islam’s beloved prophet, in the square.

Entrance to the mosque next to the mausoleum (feat. my husband)

I never stepped foot inside the mosque. I watched as tourists and Moroccans alike lined up to take photos in front of the giant brass doors with traditional arches and carvings to match the mausoleums. If there is one thing I learned for sure, it’s that Moroccans know how to lay the dead to rest in style.

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How I Easily Got My Baby to Sleep Safely Through the Night and Regained My Sanity

To be honest, I’m the not the person that leapt right into motherhood with optimism. 2020 beat me down, and I was white-knuckling my way through most of those first few months of motherhood.

I was 32 years old when I married and 35 when I had my son last year. I had all those years to live for no one but myself. Going from that to a wife and mother was an adjustment to say the least.

Photo by David Veksler on Unsplash

Something as simple as getting my baby to sleep through the night did wonders for my mental health. I felt accomplished and was finally able to find time for me again.

wade through the noise on the internet

Swaddle…don’t swaddle. Get a Doc-A-Tot…do not get a Doc-A-Tot. Make sure you have a jumparoo…never buy a jumparoo! For your own sanity, do yourself a favor and don’t turn to Google for answers. Every search turns up thousands of pages. Every page will tell you to do something that the previous page told you was dangerous and neglectful.

If there’s one sure fire way to feel like you’re failing as a parent in your most vulnerable state, it’s by listening to parenting advice on this internet.

Photo by Victoria Heath on Unsplash

I’ll give you an example. I bought my son a crib when he grew out of his bassinet. One night, he got his foot stuck between the bars. I went online to look for a crib bumper to line the inside, and this is what I saw…

Crib bumpers cause suffocation!

Crib bumpers save lives!”

Don’t get a crib bumper, your baby will get fingers caught in the ties!

Get a mesh crib bumper so they won’t suffocate!

No crib bumper is safe!

I didn’t get a crib bumper, and my baby lost a leg…

Not a single baby item exists that hasn’t been discredited or disapproved. You’ll go crazy trying to figure it out. I assure you, this is not that kind of blog. As a new mom, I would never give another mother unsolicited advice, and I am certainly in no position to judge.

Look, let’s be honest, four house plants died under my watch in less than a year before I had my child. I’m just grateful that I’ve kept him alive and overjoyed that he’s healthy. I’m no expert in childcare, but I’m an eager learner. I also was able to get my son to sleep through the night, safely, and I’m happy to share how. I hope that it helps some other parent currently desperate for sleep.

first, I tried the owlet for peace of mind

When I was pregnant and anxiety-ridden, I was sure I had to have an Owlet Smart Sock for my baby. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a tiny monitor that wraps around your baby’s foot and sends readings of baby’s vitals to your phone. It monitors heart rate, oxygen levels, etc…the important stuff.

It also has a base that you put in your room. The base will sound an alarm to wake you if the baby’s vitals dropped. It sounds great; I thought I would sleep more soundly. My internet connection had other plans.

It turns out that if the base loses its wifi connection…you guessed it…the alarm goes off. After a couple of lost connections and short-lived panic attacks, I gave the Owlet to my pregnant sister and became obsessed with safe sleep practices.

Disclaimer: This was not the fault of the Owlet. It is an amazing product! My sister has loved it. The problem was my terrible internet service (a problem that has since been remedied).

sleeping through the night starts with routine

Those first couple of weeks that we were home, routine seemed impossible. Once we were able to get our bearings, we started to remember what day it was and how it felt to be human again. At that point, we started working on a routine.

We called it BSBB:

  • BATH. Every night at 7:30, we gave him a bath. Sometimes, it felt impossible. I was exhausted and just wanted to skip it, but I just felt that if I didn’t stick to the routine, all my hard work would be for naught.
  • SWADDLE. I said “no thanks” to the manual swaddle and got myself a couple of Swaddle Me Baby Wraps. LIFESAVER!
  • BOTTLE. We made sure to space his feedings so that we did not feed him too close to bedtime. That way we could give him a full bottle right before bed.
  • BED. Into the bassinet he went, alone. No pillows, toys, or blankets.

He did not sleep straight through the night immediately, but slowly he started to wake up less and less. By the time he was three months old, he was sleeping six to eight solid hours without waking up. It was a HUGE relief.

reap all the benefits…

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

Nighttime routine not only helped him sleep soundly through the night, it gave me much needed alone time. I would put him to bed by 8:00 and have time to relax, watch tv uninterrupted, make myself something to eat (uninterrupted), eat (uninterrupted)…you get the point.

Ultimately, getting my child on a routine, where he was sleeping alone at the same time every night, did wonders for us both. Those few precious hours at night when I got to be Kristan, not just Zain’s mom, are still so important and beneficial for me. I would argue that every parent needs them…

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