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Pregnancy

The Home Birth of Baby T

Baby 3 is here. It’s a boy, and he is now eight weeks old!
Baby T 8 weeks

 

Baby T was born on Father’s Day and is a dream come true in every way. To be a mother to three (three!) children is such a mind-blowing thing after a road to parenthood that involved loss and infertility. We are so grateful for our sons. They teach us and grow us every day. Baby T’s birth was also a dream come true in another way: he was born at home. This had been a dream of mine since I was a teenager when I babysat for a mom of three who was a lawyer, Bradley Birth instructor, homebirther, and later went on to be a midwife. When the kids were asleep, I would peruse her educational bookshelf. These readings left a deep impression on me. I learned that birth need not be a unbearably painful, drama-filled thing like in movies. I learned that birth is a process that harnesses the amazing design of the female body and our incredible hormones (the classic Childbirth Without Fear <affiliate hyperlink> is a good read on this).

Fast-forward many years: for V’s birth, we finally settled on a hospital birth versus home birth in the 3rd trimester for financial reasons.** The hospital, even with a doula, ample preparation, and self-advocacy, was not a fit for me.  For E’s birth, we knew we’d find a way to make the money work, as certified professional midwife (CPM) care was a vastly better fit for processing birth trauma as well as pregnancy with pelvic instability. But, with pending construction at our house, we opted to deliver at a freestanding birth center rather than home. It was an amazing home-away-from-home birth, with all the same (lack of) equipment as home, but we still had to load up, drive to get there, drive home, etc. So, for the third time around, we knew we wanted to be at home for the whole thing. Provided baby and I were healthy, it was time for the dream to come true! Now, here’s the story.

*Check out this irony: a hospital birth cost $11K-$30k+ but our part is $0 with insurance. In contrast, non-hospital pre-natal care and the birth is about $4k, but our insurance covers none of it.

 

The Birth of Baby T

Disclaimer:  this is a birth story. It involves bodily functions. I have not shared anything here that I am not comfortable saying aloud to you face-to-face. But, if you aren’t interested in such details, stop reading now. Read more…

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Protein for Morning Sickness

I’m almost in my third trimester with Baby 3, and this pregnancy is flying by! This time around, some things are easier because I have a base of knowledge about my body, I have a midwife I adore, etc. But, other things are just as hard: fatigue, nausea, intense back pain.  The good news is that at least now I have some strategies.

With V, I threw up until 37 weeks of pregnancy (thanks to acid reflux from new, unbeknownst-at-that-point lactose intolerance). With E, throwing up wrapped up at 16 weeks. This time, things were mostly settled by 16 weeks, but certain smells will still set me off and I cannot drink plain water without intense reflux or vomiting (same held true with the other two pregnancies as well).

So, what is a natural-minded pregnant lady supposed to do to combat these icky (but for a lovely reason) feelings? Eat protein! Every single time you start to feel nausea, eat something with protein in it. Crackers and carbs are for the birds. I followed the not-so-helpful Saltine advice in my first pregnancy. But, for babies two and three, I knew about the benefit of protein. If you are like me, the idea of protein meat might sound just horrible for a couple of months in there, but there are other options. Instead, try: Read more…

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I was 24 weeks pregnant with my oldest son (I’ll refer to this as PG1) when I woke up one morning and felt like someone had kicked me between my legs. I felt bruised from the inside and outside. It was painful to walk but also painful to lay down on my side. I made an appointment with my OB practice and I was diagnosed with diastasis of the pubis symphysis, a more extreme version of the symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) that many women experience late in pregnancy. Diastasis symphysis pubis (DSP) is such an extreme separation of pubic bones that they are considered dislocated.  For simplicity, I am going to refer to all of these as SPD in this post, but for the record: SPD can also be referred to as pelvic girdle pain (or PGP), pubis symphysis pain, and a few other names that may refer to the same specific issue or some broader ones, like pelvic instability, which may also refer to issues with the sacroiliac joint (naturally, when the front of your pelvis spreads the rear pelvic joint is impacted, too). The pelvis naturally widens during pregnancy, especially in late pregnancy, to accommodate for delivery. This increased pelvic girth and flexibility is part of a woman’s amazing ability to birth a baby. But for me, it happened too much and too soon. The obstetrician (OB) I met with at the time told me that my diastasis was the most extreme case he’d seen in over twenty years of practice, but there was nothing to be done save for taking pain medication and making some small comfort measures. Getting a second OB opinion didn’t yield me any additional hope. From a physiological standpoint, the doctors were correct— the gap wasn’t going to close itself during pregnancy. But, there is more to health and healing than mainstream western medicine’s focus on medication, surgery, or bust. For my next pregnancy, where SPD became intensely painful at just 20 weeks, I knew better and utilized many strategies to make the pregnancy considerably healthier and happier. So, here’s what I know now through two pregnancies and four years* of pelvic instability.

Symphysis Pubis

Location of the symphysis pubis

Read more…

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10 Ten Things Newborns Really Need

If you want to live simply with baby, consider skipping the baby towels in lieu of a clean adult towel; instead of a baby bath tub use the sink or cobathe (you can even use a water carrier, if desired); if your house is small or baby will sleep near you, you may need only a very simple baby monitor, or none at all.  There are loads of baby products out there: some are adorable, others seem like they’ll solve whatever baby-related issue you may have, some are just plain clever or fun. But, what do you really truly NEED for your newborn?  Here’s my list for baby gear minimalists.

For a newborn, you need: Read more…

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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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I was in Taco Bell a couple of weeks ago—hey, some days I just embrace my pregnancy cravings—and put my 18-month old son up on my back to ease his temper tantrum when I noticed the eyes of every person in the place on me. Awkward! I was trying really hard to make us not a spectacle, but apparently failed miserably. It was only later that I realized that maybe a 9-month pregnant lady strapping a toddler to her back actually might be spectacle-worthy. I suppose that it isn’t something people see very often in our culture. After all, at 37 weeks of pregnancy most women are feeling big, moving is hard, and aches are abundant. Why and how would a very pregnant mom even do such a thing?

As a mom about to enter the world of two-under-two parenting, the reality is that I am a mom of two babies. Yes, my son walks. But, he still needs lots of cuddles, holding, comforting, etc. My lap is pretty full of belly these days and playing on the floor isn’t the most comfortable thing. So, if we can get in snuggles while I am standing—great! And, all the better if I can do that while on-the go, since I have a busy toddler who wants to go, go, go while being close to mama. Babywearing allows my son to still be the baby that he is while allowing me to do the things I need to do even with a big belly (and soon with a newborn).

Double Hammock Above a Second Trimester Belly

Wearing throughout the pregnancy has allowed me to build my strength gradually which means I can wear both now in the late third trimester and will have the strength to tandem wear both kids when after new baby is born. It’s like how when you lift weights, you start small and then get stronger and stronger. Nature and time have increased the poundage of my two precious “weights” over the past nine months allowing me to grow stronger.


Walking is one of my favorite ways to stay in shape, is well suited to pregnancy, and is the perfect babywearing activity. As with all exercise during pregnancy—heed what your body says and expect to only do about 80% for what you could pre-pregnancy, at most. I wear my son much less than I could two months ago. He weighs more each passing week and my body is working harder each passing week.

Now let’s move on to the how of wearing with a belly. I only wear using woven wraps—pregnant or not— and what I’ve learned about which carries work during pregnancy is that heeding the cues of my body is better than any particular rules. If it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it. Your body will tell you when a front carries are no longer a fit and it is time for just back carries. That might be four months in for some women, seven months for others, and sooner or later for still others.

 
 
Rucksack in the Early Third Trimester

Here are some of my preferences for back wrapping: a rucksack carry works well because it means there is no fabric across my belly, save for the knot, which I like to tie above my bump. I don’t find tying tietbetan comfortable, but other moms find that a great way to avoid uncomfortable pressure across the belly and to keep the knot away from the belly. I go with trying in the back or on the side to keep the knot from irritating me. Jordan’s Back Carry is another one that has ruck straps and avoids any pressure on the belly. My feelings on the double-hammock (DH) have varied. When I was nauseous, I couldn’t stand the pass that comes across the front and I stopped using the DH. At other times, I loved the supportiveness of the DH for my back, but loathed the way it felt across my belly, so I would place the front pass just across my chest versus over my whole torso. Very late in pregnancy, some days I really like for that front pass to go spread from top of my chest to bottom of my belly because it gives the belly a bit of snug support.
 
Each day, each wear, I go into wrapping ready to listen to my body—that goes for both picking a way to carry plus how long I will keep my son wrapped. Now that I am mere days from 40 weeks of pregnancy, I can only manage wearing my son for a few minutes at a time. But, I love that my months of “endurance training” have rendered me strong enough to respond when he asks to get on mommy’s back. He may not be the youngest baby anymore, but he is still my baby. Through these moments, I can keep relating to my son in a way that has been treasured by us both since he was born.

Almost there!

 

 

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