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Baby

Babies, babies, babies: I have a lot of friend having babies. It’s wonderful! Some are first-time-moms, others have 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 little ones, others are having their first in many years. Some are immersed in a eco-minded lifestyle, others are curious about some of the options. As a naturally-minded mom, the two things that I get asked the most about are babywearing and cloth diapering.  So, today I thought I’d explain a little bit about cloth diapers. We have used a lot of cloth diapers over the years: not every brand (though many), but every category.  At the most basic level, a cloth diaper is two parts: a layer (or more) of absorbency and a layer of moisture-proofing. In other words, it is  a layer to soak up wetness and a layer to keep that wetness (or more) from leaking out. There are many combinations of these two things, so let’s take a look at the options.

Types of Cloth Diapers

 

Cost Guide: $ is cheapest, $$$$$ is most expensive. Cost rating is based on price as well as longevity in terms of the months that a baby can use it and how well it will endure through multiple children.
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As part of the two-under-two club, it was important to me that I allow V. to be a baby for as long as he needed. Rather than accelerating the end of nursing, bedsharing, or babywearing because another baby was coming, we let him set the pace for these things. E. was born just days after V. hit 19-months and both boys needed lots of touch from mommy and daddy. So, what’s a person to do with two littles who both want “ups”? Tandem wearing! At times, I felt like a human clown car, but the emotional and practical benefit was worth it.
Tandem Babywearing

So, what should you know about tandem wearing? Read more…

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V’s Birth Story Part 4 — Delivery

Continued from Part 3: Labor Intensifies (or start at the beginning).

It was around 11:30 AM. Doula K and Doula J stepped out, as they were not allowed in the room while the anesthesiologist was there, per hospital policy. As it turns out, the anesthesiologist didn’t care if they were in there, but I let them stay away so they could grab some lunch. Realizing that I was selling out the vision of a med-free birth that I’d had since I was a teen, I started crying before the epidural was placed. The anesthesiologist was trying to be nice but made some sort of jerky comment about how lots of women think they can do it on their own and then he gets called in. It was so demeaning because in my heart, I felt this was a medically advantageous decision and not one that was about eliminating labor and delivery pain. I had made it through 50+ hours of labor without meds, a true ultra-marathon—triple the length of an average first-time mom’s labor—and now I was reduced in someone’s eyes to just another  compromising woman who couldn’t actually hack it. It felt like just lonely me against the world to the point that I still have no recollection of Dave being there (though he assures me he was).

After that team left, I worked toward getting in the side-laying position. Dr. M had said that even with the epidural it would be uncomfortable and most women could only manage a few minutes. I was resolved to make it work, no matter how long it took. We put on relaxation music, darkened the room, Dave and the doulas were quiet, and I focused on my breathing for as long as I could bear the pressure in my belly. I made it lying on my side for an hour, much longer than Dr. M had ever had a patient do before.

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Continued from Part 2: The Hard Work of Progress or start at Part 1

I went home physically and emotionally exhausted. It was at this point that fear and anxiety set in. I had always—well, from my late teen years when I heard about the Bradley Method through a family I babysat for— truly believed in my body’s ability to birth a baby of its own accord. But here I was, feeling that I’d read my body’s signs wrong, or that they had misguided me, and it was emotionally draining.  The length of the labor wasn’t the bad part—I had just told nurse that we’d waited 2.5 years for this baby, we surely could wait a few more days—but the beginnings of the realization that my body might not just make this work had set it. Thankfully, I was still largely a believer, just a believer with some innocence lost. And, I kept on going. I called my Bradley instructor and she was encouraging. At about 3 PM, I started having contractions again. They continued to be painful back labor contractions. I sat in the living room on the ball and watched Netflix to pass the time.

Friend Kelly brought us California Tortilla for dinner around 6. Nachos for me! I was sitting backward on a folding chair in the living room processing through regular, intense contractions again about 5 min apart. Later she shared she could have sworn from my contractions and my reactions that baby was coming very soon, like concerned-we-were-still-at-home-soon.

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Continued from Part 1.

For Baby E’s half-birthday birthday, I shared the story of his amazing, empowering birth (plus gorgeous pictures). Writing big brother V’s story has been harder.  At first, I was afraid to face my own story, but I moved beyond that and wrote and wrote. Then, I moved into being afraid of others hearing my story, that they would judge it: that was your traumatic birth? That was nothing or If you would’ve just gone along with X like everyone else does, you wouldn’t have been so upset. Ultimately, I decided that others judging it is ok. I’d rather share it and let a few people glean something helpful than not share it out of fear.

So, what’s the deal with birth trauma anyway? Some people say ‘healthy baby, healthy mama’ is enough when it comes to a birth. For me—logical to you or not— it is not. Yes, the “destination” is imperative, but the journey matters, too. It is possible to both celebrate an amazing new life and mourn the journey it took to get there at the same time.

For example, if you completed a marathon, but got injured on the way, no one would say, “All that matters is that you crossed the finish line”. No, people would care about your twisted ankle, they’d want to hear your story, maybe they’d even commend your endurance. They would know that the medal is great, but the journey also matters.

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After a challenging first birth, I joined a birth trauma support group called Mothers Healing Together to help me move to a place of greater peace. Our final exercise was to write a birth story for our child at his current age. V was one at the time. As he turns a big three today, this version is still how I tell it to him.

40 weeks pregnant
1 week post-partum

 

Birth Story for V

Mama and Daddy had so much love for each other that we wanted our family to get bigger so we could share even more love. We tried for a very long time to get pregnant with you and were very lucky to finally find a doctor that helped us.

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Nursing In A Woven Wrap

Happy World Breastfeeding Week!

I am grateful to have nursed V for 18 months, at which point my milk turned fully to colostrum (at 37 weeks of pregnancy with baby E) and he gently weaned. E is now one year old (today!) and still going strong. I credit babywearing with making on-cue nursing possible with both my boys through vacations, work, and everyday life.

10-month-old V is ready to touch a lizard and then get rehydrated in the hot Caribbean sun

As a Volunteer Babywearing Educator for Babywearing International (BWI), I am frequently asked about nursing in a carrier. Here’s a bit about my story…

When V was born, we had trouble latching which meant feeding was slow and frequent. I felt like I was nursing every hour of every 1.5 hours. Intense! I searched You Tube for videos on how to nurse a newborn in a wrap, but everything I came across used a cradle carry, which just didn’t work for my anatomy, V’s latching issues, or my back issues.

When V was five weeks old, I decided it was time to get some help. I attempted to take him to the local BWI meeting, but I drove us to the wrong location. When I realized that I had missed by chance for help,  I got back in my car and totally lost it. I was the crazy lady crying and screaming in my car. Yeah, the nursing intensity and back pain was that bad (plus the post-partum traumatic stress disorder that I didn’t yet know I had). Once I calmed down, I made it to the correct location where several understanding moms welcomed me though I was late. They cheered me on and showed me some tricks. What I learned that day was gold and it has stuck with me as my favorite nursing carry.

What is this magic? The front wrap cross carry (FWCC). It is a great carry for nursing because baby sits in a pocket that can be easily lowed to get to the proper height for nursing and then heightened  back to the proper, “head is high enough to kiss” position when finished. This so revolutionized my life that I made a video when V was six months old, and I was still a novice, so I could pass on the love to others who might be feeling just as desperate.

Getting baby in a FWCC:

 
 
Nursing while in a FWCC:

 

Recently, I did a new version with tying the carry and nursing the baby all together:

 

These days, I can nurse in a wrap hands-free and do just about anything, but the day I learned it, I used my hands to go home and eat my lunch while my baby had sipped at his is lunch. I actually cried tears of joy at that accomplishment. Hands for eating was a big, big deal!

Breastfeeding can be hard work and require incredible determination, but–for me–after the rough newborn days (ok, ten weeks of blisters and struggles with my first baby), it led to being able to feed baby anywhere and anytime. Plus, when baby E came along, we were able to get to nursing in a carrier from day 1. It is a joy to pass the magic on to other mamas, now.

Baby E naps after nursing on his birth day.
(Disclaimer: a wrap should not have this much slack while standing)

Are you looking for information on breastfeeding and babywearing and local to Northern Virginia? If so, join me at Great Beginnings in Chantilly on Saturday, August 10. I’ll be part of the panel on Supporting the Breastfeeding Mom from 12:30-1:15. Learn more about the event here.

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Why Green Inside & Out? All of This Fun!

Cost and environmental impact are among the reasons why I switched to green greening our house inside and out, but as a parent I’ve discovered an added benefit: even the tiniest tot can get in on the action!

Inside, I feel comfortable with the kids being around our cleaners.. At 2.5, V is eager to spray and wipe everything he possibly can. While sometimes we just go with plain water, it is nice to really benefit from his eagerness. Baby E is still too oral to help that way (even green cleaners shouldn’t be eaten), but I can tote him around on my back while I work without worrying about dangerous fumes.

 
Scrubbing the tub with green cleaners
The same holds true outside of the house. With a pesticide-free yard, our kids can go free-range: Baby E can explore on his own and eat a handful—or three—of clover or chickweed. Toddler V can play dump truck with grass clippings with his bare hands for an hour while I use the quiet reel-push mower right next to him.

 

Mowing Helper
Getting used to the feel of grass

Digging in the dirt pile in the backyard
With organic gardening, we get the fun of watering, digging, catching slugs, and eating veggies together. Everyone can lend a hand!
Square Foot Gardeners
 
Little Helper
 
Green cleaning looks different: things are clean, but not perfectly spotless. Green yards look different: we have more clover, plantain, dandelions, and chickweed than actual grass. But, the payoff is that we can enjoy them as a whole family more fully.

V & Dave 2012
E & Dave, 2013
Babywearing helps keep baby in on the outdoor action

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Using Glass For Expressed Milk

We have a minimal-plastic home, so when it came to pumping milk for our little ones, I wanted to find a minimal-plastic option. Ultimately, we decided to go with Ball’s quilted canning jars in the 4 ounce size. These are also called jelly jars.

This little 4 oz size was a good fit for our occasional bottle usage, but the 8 oz size would be great for higher-volume needs. (Locally, check Ace Hardware and Wegmans any time and Walmart during canning season.)

 Quilted jars are different than other glass because they are designed to be freezer-safe. Other glass can get microscopic cracks through freezing and defrosting or even completely shatter. Many folks are fine with freezing food or drink any kind of glass jars, but I wasn’t comfortable with that for breast milk, especially.
I pump into the plastic bottles that came with my Ameda Purely Yours pump and then immediately transfer the milk to a quilted canning jar. (I do have some small glass bottles that fit on my pump, but it makes it too heavy for my super-amazing Made By Moms Pumping Band to support comfortably.)

Once the milk is in the jar, I top it with the typical canning band and lid paired with a piece of unbleached parchment paper or a BPA-free plastic lid, also made by Ball. (Yes, it is plastic. Yes, they are worth it.)

With either kind of lid, it is easy to write the date on the top with a grease pencil or put the date on a piece of tape.

The milk defrosts at a reasonable speed in the fridge or quite quickly when placed in a bowl of hot water.

Best of all, when our nursing days our over, we’re left with something perfectly usable. These little jars are great for packing dry snacks (like nuts or trail mix) or something wet, like yogurt dip for raw veggies.

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As much as I love using baby carriers to wear my boys, I also appreciate that they can be used for other things. For example, when a wiggly toddler doesn’t want to be worn and every cart has broken safety straps, I can tie him in.

Wrap as a shopping cart strap

Or, when you go to a fancy anniversary brunch and it turns out the restaurant doesn’t actually have high-chairs, you can create a baby-safe seat, instantly.

Mei Tai as a high chair

I also discovered that carriers can help support the belly during pregnancy. With baby E., I wrapped my belly starting at 20 weeks to help with my chronic pelvic instability. (Pregnant women may also know this as symphysis pubis dysfunction or pelvic girdle pain. The difference with mine is that it may never go away).  I decided to use a woven wrap to lift and support it and give some compression to my back. I wore the wrap for half the day and a Prenatal Cradle Plus, leftover from my pregnancy with V., for the other half of the day.

A woven wrap is like the  sophisticated older brother of the Moby. They both are long pieces of fabric designed to wear a baby, but a woven wrap only stretches on the diagonal which means it gives a much more supportive fit than a stretchy Moby can. Woven wraps are often made by hand or with intricate designs. They have a higher price point, but also have a longer, more versatile life.
Kokadi Forest Birds 4.2m

Kokadi Forest Birds 4.2m

Verdict: the wrap was more breathable and comfortable than the Prenatal Cradle Plus. Sometimes I felt rather bold wearing my support outside of my clothes rather than underneath, but it was worth it!

Zara Black 4.6

Zara Black 4.6

After this Zara picture, I decided to get the tail around me one more time. Since Zara has long tapers, the top layer ended up creating a panel of fabric that I just pulled down to cover the rest. It lost the pretty, intricate look, but it look more like part of my shirt.

Want to see how I do this? Here I am 38.5 weeks pregnant, using a Neobulle Simon 4.6m:

Some women like to do the same kind of thing with a ring sling. Personally, I found that the ring sling could not actually lift the belly or stabilize my pelvis and hips, but it could give some compression to the belly.  At the end of my pregnancy, I wanted to coax baby to flip face-down, and out of that pesky occiput posterior position, so I used a ring sling to apply gentle-but-firm pressure my belly. It didn’t persuade my little guy to turn, but maybe it will work for some other mama out there:

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