Author: hotairballoons87

Cloth Diapers 101

Here is some information on cloth diapering to help you get started.

First of all, even if you plan on cloth diapering, it’s nice to have some disposables. I personally like Seventh Generation. They have cute prints on them now but are still off white. When they’re wet, they don’t have a gross gel in them, so they actually feel kind of wet, more like a cloth diaper. In spite of that, they’re still trim like disposables.

I’m quite on the cautious side of parenting decisions, so I try to avoid questionable chemicals when I can. I know plenty of people who like the Target brand. But the boys both got Justin’s sensitive skin, and I read way too many articles about the chemicals in conventional diapers. Seventh Generation makes the best disposable diaper I have ever used. You might want a pack of Newborn while you’re getting the hang of things, and I use them sometimes for traveling so I don’t have to do laundry the whole time.

Um. Diapers could have their own book, so lets see here…

Dirty Diaper Necessities 

  1. First off, you’re going to need somewhere to put dirty diapers. We used to use a big 5 gallon pail with a lid from Walmart. A lidded trashcan would work too. The main thing you want to look for is something that is easily washed. You might also want something with a hands-free way of opening. Here are some options….Eventually, though, we decided that it took up too much space. Our house is very small. So we switched to hanging giant wet bags. We have one for the bathroom and one for the livingroom. We also have a smaller wet bag for the diaper bag. In a pinch, you can use walmart bags, but if you have 2 small wet bags to alternate in the diaper bag, that should be enough.
  2. You want a diaper sprayer. They make poop removal way easier. Plus you can use it as a bidet. Win/win. They make contraptions that are supposed to hold the diaper for you and allow less contact with the diaper, but in my opinion, that’s just more stuff to wash and store. FYI, though, they do exist, so if you or baby daddy are trying to avoid contact with poop, there are options!
  3. Laundry detergent. Tide Free and Clear is what a lot of people use, I think. Right now we’re using Charlie’s Soap, but I later read that it’s not the best, so once it’s gone we’re going to switch to something else. You can ask around and google recommendations, but you don’t necessarily have to splurge on a special detergent. I would avoid scents and dyes, and I’ve read that diapers should be in contact with detergent for at least 45 minutes. In my case, I often have to stop my washer and turn back the dial because even the long load is not that long.

Types of Diapers

  1. Pocket Diapers are great. When you buy them, they always come with their own inserts. It’s a cover with a stay-dry layer and an opening where you put in an insert (or two at night, if you need it.) Pros:  They’re nice for babysitters and people who don’t know how to use cloth diapers, because as long as you pre-stuff them, they aren’t confusing to use. I like to use them at night because Bash hates getting his diaper changed and he wiggles a lot and ends up kicking the the stuffing out of other diapers. Cons:  Once it’s wet/dirty, you have to pull the insert out and put both pieces in the wet bag. We have one set of these, but we have a combination of different types of diapers. I would say a good collection would be 2 sets of pocket diapers, a few covers and a pack or 2 of prefolds.
  2. Diaper junction makes my favorite one-size diaper cover. This is just a water proof cover that you put on top of an absorbent pre-fold cloth diaper. You have to buy the pre-fold diapers seperately. You can use snappi’s  to secure the diaper on the baby (more on that later. They’re modern diaper pins, basically), but you don’t need them. You can just tuck the diaper into the pockets they have. Pros: You can re-use the covers. You don’t have to wash them after every change. On a good day, you can use the same cover all day. Just wipe it with a wet cloth, put in a new prefold, and go one with your life. Sometimes babies get poop on them, but for pee at least, you can use it quite a few times.Cons: The covers aren’t attached to the diapers, so if you have a wiggly baby, it can be tough to get the diaper on. Here is a good pack of prefolds.
  3. Gdiapers are awesome. Pros: they’re really nice, cute, soft cotton on the outside, so if you come across a design that you love, you can buy one and use it along with your other diaper covers. Prefolds fit in it just fine. You don’t necessarily have to buy g-diaper inserts. Cons: their sizes are very specific. You have to buy NB, S, M, and L. It would get expensive having to buy a whole new set of diapers every 3-6 months. But, as I said, you can always get like one cute one per size. And they do have a good newborn set.
  4. All-in-ones are diapers that don’t come apart at all. Pros: They’re just like disposables, in that you don’t have to take an insert out, or anything like that. You just take it off and throw the whole thing in the pail. I don’t have any of these, but I imagine they might be good for a dad who doesn’t like messing with diapers, because he won’t have to touch the diaper as much as the others. Cons: You can only use it once before you have to wash it again. That is the same as the pocket diapers, so you could conceivably get these instead of pocket diapers, and still get some covers/pre-folds. I like having the option to re-use.

Newborns are special

You will need to have a plan for the newborn weeks. At most, you might use newborn size on a normal baby for like 3 months, but even the one-size-fit-all diapers don’t fit newborns. These are newborn options. You’ll probably go through 6-7 diapers a day, so I would recommend maybe 2 sets of pocket diapers, OR just get a box of the Seventh Generation Newborn diapers. OR you can get Gdiapers newborn bundle. I think we mostly used A newborn diaper cover and small prefold diapers. But those look big and awkward because newborns are tiny and absorbent diapers are fat. Although you could try a bamboo diaper insert inside of a diaper cover. Those are thin so they might work really well…. So to recap, you can use (A) newborn pocket diapers, (B) Disposables, (C) newborn Gdiapers, or (D) a few newborn covers and prefold diapers.

So, for doing laundry every 2 or 3 days, I recommend: 12-14 pocket diapers or AIO’s (you could get away with 6-7 but you might end up wanting more), 3-4 diaper covers, and 12-24 prefolds. Give or take a g-diaper cover or 2 because they’re cute. If they seem expensive, just remember that its WAY cheaper than disposables, you just have to pay for them all at once. Technically, you could even buy a little bit at a time until you have a full collection and are no longer dependent on disposables.-

Baby Wipes

We used disposable wipes for a little while, until we realized that we had an entire trash can full of poopy wipes, and it seemed silly since we were washing diapers anyway. So cloth wipes are better. They save you money and you can just throw them in with the rest of the diaper laundry. Flannel cloth wipes are great. You might want a few packs of them. And then you need some sort of solution. Here are some different ways you can do that.

  1. You can buy solution like this one. These dissolve in warm water. You can put the solution in a wipes warmer and put wipes in the warmer. Or you can put the solution in a spray bottle or squirt bottle and spray the wipes each time.
  2. You can make your own wipe solution. I make a very simple solution with olive oil, water, and castile soap.
  3. You can use this creme product. I keep wanting to try this out.

 

Rash prevention and treatment

I use Babyganics diaper cream. I don’t use it enough to justify making my own, and their version is good. But, don’t buy baby powder. It has some not-so-great ingredients in it, and it costs more because it’s a baby product…All you need is cornstarch. Or arrowroot starch, which is what I use. I put it an an empty spice container and voila 🙂

 

I hope this is helpful! I can update this if you guys have any questions about things I might have missed 🙂 I’m also taking pictures as I do my laundry right now, in case you need some visual aids.

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Baby Stuff 101

 

This is everything I learned about baby stuff after having two kids. I tried to make this easily navigable so that you don’t have to read the whole long thing if you don’t want to. You may not need a whole book about just one category of baby item ;P If you want to just skip to diapers, I’m going to put them at the end.

————-Baby Furniture —————————–

If I could only have two pieces of new furniture for a baby, I would get a crib and a swing (or vibrating rock n play sleeper.) Cribs that convert to toddler beds are awesome.

High Chair– high chairs are awesome. I wouldn’t skip this one. What type you get is really dependent on your lifestyle, though. Here’s my advice on choosing one: 1. The huge bulky plastic ones are annoying on so many levels. Remember that food is going to get all over the place, so you either want an easily removable cover, or no cover at all, with a very simple construction (like the Ikea high chair or the type that they have at restaurants.) 2. Keep in mind that you may not want to feed the child strictly in one room at every meal, so having something that is easy to move or fold up is nice. 3. If you travel a lot, you may need something portable. A lot of people like the types that buckle onto dining chairs. The annoying thing about having these at home is that food gets all over the dining chair and you have to clean that out every once in a while. If you always travel to the same place, like mom and dads, you can just have a feeding solution that’s always there, and play it by ear when you go anywhere else. 4. If you have a high table, it’s helpful to have a high chair that can be used with a 2-4 year old later.

Bassinet- Bassinets are awesome. I’m all for skipping furniture for simplicity’s sake, but, unless you have a way to put a crib in your bedroom, a bed in the nursery, or the nursery is basically your closet, it is crucial to have somewhere to stick the baby without traveling too far in the middle of the night. They make some that can be removed from a stand and put in your bed. They make some with wheels. Alternatively, you can get something like a Moses basket. It’s just a safe little space for the baby to sleep anywhere. I liked having a bassinet that we could easily keep in any room we wanted so that the baby could sleep wherever I was. BUT, on the other hand, there are other pieces of furniture that can accommodate multi-room sleeping..

 Rock n Play Sleepers and Swings- Both are amazing, but I’m on the fence as to whether both are necessary. We were under cost restrictions, so we had both a rock-n-play AND a swing, as the swing was second hand. But there are swings that can basically do it all. I liked the rock n play for a couple reasons. 1. For one, it lasted a little longer than the swing. Some swings have a high weight limit, but ours did not. 2. Also, the rock n play allowed the boys to sleep in an inclined position, instead of flat on their back. They both had reflux (very common), and got colds pretty frequently. While long-term sleeping is recommended flat on their back, sleeping at an angle is helpful for reflux and congestion. I like to think that the boys avoided any kind of misshapen heads by sleeping in many different positions in different types of furniture. Plus I wore them a lot. More on that later.

Rocking Chair- This is a really nice thing. Having a specific chair for you to sit and read and do a bedtime routine and nurse and all that, it’s fantastic. It’s one that can be skipped, but I loved having a glider. Make sure it’s comfortable, though.

Changing table- This is optional. You can make anything into a changing table. Having had one kid with one and one without, I can say it is really nice having one. But it isn’t necessary.


—————- Baby Transportation ———-

Car Seat- Some people skip the infant car seat in favor of a forever car seat. They make some that can hold a newborn, and then eventually can hold a rear-facing 50 lb child. Pro: You don’t have to keep replacing the car seat. Cons: It’s a bigger investment up front. You can’t remove the whole car seat from the car and allow the baby to continue sleeping while you shop or run or whatever.

Strollers- Baby Trend makes a jogging stroller with an infant car seat that attaches to it. That is awesome. I used the jogging stroller for everything. I would have gone forever only using that stroller if I hadn’t had Bash. A cheap umbrella stroller is nice too, but I just bought one when I needed it. Those big strollers with 4 wheels are stupid. I don’t really understand why people get those.

Baby Wearing- Baby wearing is a hobby in and of itself. An expensive hobby. I don’t recommend getting too crazy with it, haha. I’m a moderationist. Not quite minimalist, but I don’t condone spending $2,000 on baby wraps and structured carriers…Here is what I recommend: 1 wrap, and 1 Soft Structured Carrier. They make stretchy wraps and woven wraps.

*The stretchy wraps only work for under 6 months, but they’re really convenient, especially for breastfeeding. You can wrap it onto you (shirt optional!) And the baby can easily slip in and out without you having to take it off and put it back on.I actually have one of these, and you can have it.

*Alternatively, woven wraps are strong enough to attach an adult to your back, BUT, you have to re-wrap it every time. You can’t just keep it on and put the baby in, take the baby out. You have to set it up, put the baby in, finish wrapping, then they’re there forever. lol. It takes a long time, and I’ve never liked to wear long enough to justify the installation time.

*SSC’s are where it’s at. I can use it for 5 minutes or 5 hours, but it has to be a good one. Tula is my favorite. They make awesome prints. I’m pretty sure there’s a unicorn one..

Here is the link to the Tula website. They have all of the things that I mentioned. Including ring slings, which I didn’t mention. Those are awesome. I have one of those I can give you too, actually.

Baby wearing exceptions- The only exceptions would be 1. if you want to buy a separate carrier for daddy. 2. If you want to wear in the water. They make specific carriers for that. 3. If you want to carry your 3-4 year old, you can sell the others and buy a toddler Tula.


—————- Baby Clothes ——————-

Don’t go overboard. Return any gifted clothes that are not your style. Ask for clothes in future sizes. Do not get a billion 0-3 sized clothes, and you barely want ANY newborn clothes. If the baby turns out to be super tiny, you can always run out and buy a few extra NB clothes. But we had a bunch of NB clothes, and Westley NEVER fit into them. Sebastian did, for 2 weeks. If you cloth diaper, you don’t need to worry about blow outs. They will be rare or non-existent, so you won’t be changing the baby’s clothes 4 times a day. Remember seasons. Remember that the baby will be in a different size every 3 months. This is typically what is needed for 3 months and under:

Onesies: 7-10 per size. If you buy too many of ANYTHING, though, buy too many of these. Onesies are essential, and compact. Girl or boy, a onesie can be accessorized around, and you can strategically only change the onesie if there is a wardrobe malfunction. I would carry a couple of these in the diaper bag just in case. I would invest in some onesies for 3-6 months as well. 6-9 and 9-12 really depends on the child.

Shirts and/or dresses: optional. For the first 3 months, regular shirts aren’t super practical, so I wouldn’t seek those out unless you see one that is amazing, or if you want to be super crunchy and potty the baby from birth. I pottied Sebastian from birth, and shirts were nice for that. Actually, if you cloth diaper, it’s not a big deal. A t-shirt and cloth diaper combination is adorable. So ignore that 😉 If the baby is a girl, DRESSES ARE AWESOME. They’re less awesome once the baby starts crawling, so 5-10 dresses would be appropriate for (0-3 months) and (3-6 months), but 6-12 months you would want only short dresses or none at all. Again, though, if you potty early, dresses for life, lol.

Gowns: 3-5. I love gowns. There’s elastic on the bottom; the sleeves usually fold over, so no need for mittens; and many of them are good for more than one size. Usually the sleeves become too short to use the fold-over parts, but the gown continues to fit fine, and they don’t need the mittens anymore at that point. These things make diaper changes easy and they’re super cute.

Swaddles: 2. These are the best swaddlers on the planet.  Sebastian slept like a rock in this thing. I bought one at first, and then bought a second one because some nights his diaper would leak and we would be scrambling. Once we started him sleeping with this thing it was CRUCIAL to the sleep routine. It has a little hole so you can buckle the baby into the swing, though I didn’t always bother with that.

Swaddle blankets: not as many as you would think. Aiden + Anais makes the best swaddle blankets. They’re good for use as a nursing cover, a swaddle, and a light blanket for warm weather. They come in packs of 4, which is weird because that seemed like too many for us, especially considering how expensive they are. They do make more affordable versions.

Socks and booties: one pack, just a few. Babies don’t need shoes until they start to walk, so go with socks and booties, but in the summer you probably won’t use them every day.

Hats: depends on the season. In the summer, you only need those little caps in really air conditioned environments, so 1-2 will do. Then a sunhat or bonnet is good to have for the sun, though you’ll often have them in some sort of shade-providing seat like a stroller, so that’s optional.

Sweaters and Hoodies– There’s no special trick to these, I just wanted it to be on the list so that you knew that you want them ;P Once the cold weather kicks in, obviously you’ll want to invest in things to keep the baby warm. But with both boys before they were walking, I mostly just bundled them up in blankets.

Leg-warmers. Leg warmers are great. They often look less awkward on a cloth-butt than pants do and they’re versatile. They have these here for good deals, but you can also buy them in packs on Amazon.

Leggings/stretchy pants. I kept all the pants to our pajama sets because these are my favorite pants for kids under 2. I rarely put Bash in jeans. I like soft pants that I know they can move around in. Plus, boots and slippers fit less awkwardly.

Blankets. Blankets basically multiply, like rabbits, and stuffed animals. Everyone likes buying and making blankets. You can register for one that you want, but you’ll probably get a ton without even asking. Spoilers, Aunt Rachel will definitely make you one, so if you have any special requests, get them in now!

—————-Shoes —————————-

You don’t need shoes until they can walk. If you want them for cuteness purposes, always go with soft and comfy, like bedtime slippers.

But when the baby does start walking, you still want soft and flexible shoes. We have monster slippers that Sebastian loves. They keep his feet warm too, so, bonus. But for serious walking practice, you really want soft soles, so that they can use their toes to balance.

  1. These are expensive but nice.
  2. Amazon has a good selection, though, when you search “leather sole baby shoes”
  3. Skidders is also a great brand

 

—————- Bottles and feeding —————-

I don’t like plastic. There are studies that even BPA free plastic has chemicals in it that could be as, if not more, dangerous than BPA. It’s not something that will kill anyone on the spot, but it’s the kind of thing that could lower their risk for things later down the road. It’s a personal preference, but here’s the thing about bottles: I don’t need 8 plastic bottles. All I need is 2 bottles. Assuming you go back to work, you might want a bit more than 2, depending on how many feedings are happening while you’re gone. But these are my two favorite bottles, plus a sweet product for people who love mason jars.

Bottles. 

  1. These are made of glass. You can get a whole starter pack, and you can also get protective sleeves. I didn’t get sleeves for mine. Also, you only need 8 oz bottles if you formula feed. A breastfed baby rarely ever needs more than 4 oz at a time. Mine never did.
  2. Bonus. Life Factory makes glass bottles too, but I didn’t get them because I don’t like the skinny nipples. They’re too different from a real life nipple, and Westley wouldn’t take that kind.
  3. These are made of silicone. Glass made Justin nervous at first, so I got one of these so that he had options. He likes this one because you can squeeze a little milk out to get the baby started if they’re being uncooperative.
  4. This is definitely a thing if you are a lover of mason jars. The cool thing, too, is that I store my milk in the refrigerator in mason jars. It is a cheap, safe storage option, and if I had these it would make fewer dishes. So that’s pretty cool.

Milk Storage. A lot of people use bags and stuff, but I didn’t want to use plastic at all, haha. So I found alternatives. Also, I used to store milk in the fridge in plastic baby bottles, but later I discovered that mason jars are better. They’re glass, they’re cheap, and you can get the kind with the number of ounces on the side. Something like this is what I use to store milk in the freezer. You CAN freeze them in mason jars but I don’t recommend it, as glass can break when frozen or thawed, and then you’ve wasted 5 oz of milk 😦 . These silicone trays are great because when you’re done storing milk, you can do other things with them. You can make giant ice cubes or popsicles. If you do any baby food purees, you can use it to freeze those.

Baby Feeding. My official recommendation is not to buy any special equipment for making baby food. I spent a lot of time making purees for Westley, and looking back I think I could have saved the time. We didn’t make purees for Sebastian. We used a method called Baby Led Weaning. He didn’t take to solids until he was 8-10 months old, but it was much less work. We didn’t go ALL out; we did give him a few mashed up foods with a spoon to see if he liked it. At 6 months, we offered him foods that we could easily mash with a fork. But he wouldn’t take any of it. We didn’t want to waste a bunch of food that he wouldn’t eat. So, we would mash something up: steamed carrots, avocado, banana. And give him a bite. When he refused it, we would give him a few chunks on his tray to play with. That way he is learning and has the opportunity to start eating any time. Anyway, all you really need if you do that is a few small bowls and spoons. I recommend wood or silicone, because babies do like to throw.

  1. These are good.
  2. Suction cups are cool too!
  3. Wood is nice.
  4. These are great for toddlers.
  5. Spoons. There are a lot of silicone spoon options. Go with silicone, it’s magical.
  6. Another spoon.
  7. Here’s just all the best spoons.
  8. Silicone BIBS. Great because you can just wash them off.
  9. But I would get a couple of cloth bibs, too, just in case. Sebastian hated his silicone bib at first, lol.
  10. These are my favorite toddler forks. You won’t need them until a year old or so, but they’re under-appreciated. Sebastian already knows how to use a fork, and it makes french toast with peanut butter 100% less messy.

—————— Toys ———————–

Rattles/teethers- Babies love rattles. Pretty much anything that makes noise is a winner. They like lights, too, but don’t get 1,000 toys. You’ll thank me later. Something to chew on, something to shake, something that lights up. That’s about all they need until they start crawling. (Then they don’t need any toys at all because they’d rather just destroy everything in your house that is nice and expensive.)

here’s some stuff (somewhere in here there is a cow rattle)

Here’s some more stuff

Random note, Sebastian has this seahorse and he loves it. It’s a bath toy but is good to chew on too. In hindsight I think it’s similar to Sophie the giraffe.

Play mat- They’re lovely. Endless fun for tiny babies. There is definitely a unicorn one.  This one is also super cool. It’s always nice to have things with multiple functions. I also like the ones with walls. There are so many possibilities with this one.

Here is a bunch of unicorn baby stuff. You’re welcome.

White noise machine- 

—————–  Diapers ———————

First of all, even if you plan on cloth diapering, it’s nice to have some disposables. I personally like Seventh Generation. If I haven’t already mentioned, I’m quite a bit on the cautious side of parenting decisions, lol. I know plenty of people who like the Target brand. But the boys both got Justin’s sensitive skin, and I read way too many articles about the chemicals in conventional diapers. Seventh Generation makes the best disposable diaper I have ever used. You might want a pack of Newborn while you’re getting the hang of things, and I use them sometimes for traveling so I don’t have to do laundry the whole time.

Um. Diapers could have their own book, so lets see here…

Dirty Diaper Necessities 

  1. First off, you’re going to need somewhere to put dirty diapers. We used to use a big 5 gallon pail with a lid from Walmart. A lidded trashcan would work too. The main thing you want to look for is something that is easily washed.  Here are some options….Eventually, though, we decided that it took up too much space. So we switched to hanging giant wet bags. We have one for the bathroom and one for the livingroom. We also have a smaller wet bag for the diaper bag. In a pinch, you can use walmart bags.
  2. You want a diaper sprayer. They make poop removal way easier. Plus you can use it as a bidet. Win/win.
  3. Laundry detergent. Tide Free and Clear is what a lot of people use, I think. Right now we’re using Charlie’s Soap, but I later read that it’s not the best so once it’s gone we’re going to switch to something else.

 

Types of Diapers

There are 3 types of diapers that I would recommend. I’ll list them and then I’ll say a few more things.

  1. You will need to have a plan for the newborn weeks. Even the one-size-fit-all diapers don’t fit newborns. These are newborn options. You’ll probably go through 6-7 diapers a day, so I would recommend maybe 2 sets of pocket diapers, OR just get a box of the Seventh Generation Newborn diapers. OR you can get Gdiapers newborn bundle. I think we mostly used A newborn diaper cover and small prefold diapers. So to recap, you can use (1) pocket diapers, (2) Disposables, (3) Gdiapers, or (4) a few newborn covers and prefold diapers.
  2. Pocket Diapers are great. They’re especially nice for babysitters and people who don’t know how to use cloth diapers. You have to wash them several times for them to be as absorbent as you want them. You can put one insert inside, or 2 for night time if you need it. Once it’s wet/dirty, you have to pull the insert out and put both pieces in the wet bag. We have one set of these, but we have a combination of different types of diapers. I would say a good collection would be 2 sets of pocket diapers, a few covers and a pack or 2 of prefolds.
  3. Diaper junction makes my favorite one-size diaper cover. You can use snappi’s but you don’t need them. You can just tuck the diaper into the pockets they have. The reason I love these and suggest that you get these AND pocket diapers is that you can reuse the cover. On a good day, you can use the same cover all day. Just wipe it with a wet cloth, put in a new prefold, and go one with your life. It is nice to have. Sometimes babies get poop on them, but for pee at least, you can use it quite a few times. Here is a good pack of prefolds.
  4. Gdiapers are awesome, but their sizes are pretty specific, so you have to buy NB, S, M and L for one baby. So they’re not my absolute favorite. However, they’re really nice, cute, soft cotton on the outside, so if you come across a design that you love, you can buy one and use it along with your other diaper covers. Prefolds fit in it just fine.

So, for doing laundry every 2 or 3 days, I recommend: 12-14 pocket diapers (you could get away with 6-7 but you might end up wanting more), 3-4 diaper covers, and 12-24 prefolds. Give or take a g-diaper cover or 2 because they’re cute. If they seem expensive, just remember that its WAY cheaper than disposables, you just have to pay for them all at once. Technically, you could even buy a little bit at a time until you have a full collection and are no longer dependent on disposables.

 

 

Westley Reese Amadeus Turns 4

Story time!

Four years ago, my spirited, determined little boy was born. I was going to just re-post his birth story, as usual, but I decided to do something different. I can share his birth story any time, but after 4 years, I have gained some perspective and experienced so many other interesting things besides his insane birth.

So about his birth. Once upon a time, 4 years ago to be exact, I had grown a 9 lb 6 oz child in my body, and somehow he had to get out. He was ready one day later than expected, and then he came into this world in the manner that he does just about everything: quickly, loudly, and with just a bit of violence. I mean, it’s true.

At 2am, my water broke, and my body preceded to go into active labor immediately. We made it to the hospital in time, but it did happen a lot more like the movies than I thought it would. 6 hours, no drugs, no sleep, lots of screaming. And that’s how we have spent the last 4 years, coincidentally! 😉

So here’s a little bit about my little man, the little 4 year old that he has become.

Westley Reese Amadeus likes to do things himself. He likes to make the decisions himself. If he can’t do it himself, it can’t happen. But over this last year I’ve figured out how to work with this, and it has been awesome. Over this last year, he has become a really good big brother, and actually offers kisses and lego-building lessons instead of pure jealous rage (but they still get into banshee screaming battles, because, 1 and 4…). He has decided that he loves things. All of the things!

He loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, of course. And he says his favorite vegetable is a tomato, but I think it’s actually bell peppers. His favorite fruits are watermelon and grapes. And his favorite sweet is dark chocolate. Chocolate chocolate chocolate.

His favorite movie is Star Wars, and his favorite book is Darth Vader and Son…..His favorite super hero is Batman…vs Superman. Apparently. That’s what he said.

His favorite transformers are Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, and Grimlock.

His favorite color is “Red and pink and stuff.”

His favorite songs are Blackbird and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

His favorite ship is the x-wing and the Millennium Falcon. He told me to ask that question; I didn’t come up with it.

He likes to watch Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, and Rescue Bots, and Dinotrucks, and this Batman cartoon that is probably a little too grown up for him. His favorite toys are Lego and dinosaurs. He loves playing outside, going on treasure hunts and going for a run, and kicking the soccer ball, and playing basketball (though, not a lot of basket is actually involved) and roller blading (though, it’s really more like walking.)

He loved playing the drums when he was little, but lately he is a little more interested in the guitar. Over the last couple of years he has started hating loud noise, which is ironic because he makes SO MUCH of it.

So, here’s to another year!

(and here are some more pictures for your viewing pleasure)

 

Your vote counts 

The third party candidate Gary Johnson has been gaining support from both democratic and republican voters. He’s been growing in popularity and it’s starting to look like he has a real chance at the presidency. 

I know this because, just when it was looking to be the most true, there was a scattering of speeches subtly aimed at discouraging third-party voting, and an explosion of social media. “Don’t do it,” they say “Bernie Sanders says don’t vote third party,” “Third party can’t win.” “Gary Johnson can’t win,” “Third party is a throw away vote.” Not because those things are true, but because that’s how politics works. The major parties are scared the third party voting is going to mess up their predictable model and ruin their plans. 

I know many people who truly believe those statements; that voting third party is political suicide. And if you truly believe that Clinton is the best vote for America, then vote for her. Awesome. Go for it. But stay out of other peoples’ head. Stop spreading that brain-washing crap. Yes, I say brain-washing because it’s propaganda, at its root, even if it’s a non-partisan blog or something silly like that. The only okay way to sway your friend’s vote is to tell them the merits (or even the flaws) of a candidate. Telling people not to vote for Johnson because he can’t win and is going to cause an undesirable candidate to win, is not okay. I can’t believe I even have to say that. It’s fear mongering, and the best part is: it’s not even true. I’ll break it down a little, but I’m not going to get crazy because if you can vote, you’re a grown up and you can put on your own big kid underwear. 

1. Stop looking at polls. First of all, let’s get this straight, polls are mostly useless. They are used to manipulate things and play with your mind. They’re not accurate. I could post some links to polls, and they may make my opinion look legit. But if you look at more than one source, they’re never consistent. Think about it: did you get polled? Did anyone you know get polled? Unless there’s someone out there who can read our hearts, minds, and certain futures, there’s no accurate way to predict exactly who’s in the lead at any given moment. This isn’t a NASCAAR race. We can’t get a play-by-play. They didn’t ask you about your vote. Your vote counts. 

2. Don’t mind the threats. I’ve read that if you vote for Johnson, Trump will win. They say, Johnson will split Clinton’s vote and Trump will come out on top. Listen, that has been the case before. But. Johnson is getting support from both sides. There’s no way of knowing which mainstream candidate would be on top in this three-candidate scenario. Experts can make plenty of guesses, but they’re still just guesses. Your vote counts. 

3. Use your rational mind. My red flag goes up every time some form of media is trying to appeal to my primitive mindset to sway my vote. Both of the major parties do it a lot. It’s how the game is played. If your rational mind finds a major candidate appealing, great! Vote for them! But letting your primitive mind be swayed is what makes the election instable. Guard your emotions so that you know you’re making your own decision. Your vote counts. 

4. Make your own decision. Everything coming out to discourage third party voting is making use of the fact that many people don’t think too hard about who they vote for. All they have to do is make you unsure. If you are voting for third party because it’s either that or–say–Clinton (whom you don’t like, but she’s better than Trump) then all the Democrats have to do is make you hesitate. Make you think that the choice isn’t Clinton vs Johnson, but Clinton vs the trash can. Johnson might be a threat, but the trashcan? She can probably beat the trashcan. You might wake up Tuesday morning, hear one positive thing about Clinton, and decide that that would be better than throwing away your vote. Mission accomplished. All it takes is enough third party voters to chicken out, and then it falls apart. 

So here’s the deal: no one can tell you what is important to you. Find out what is important to you; find out where each candidate’s stand; do you trust the information? Choose a candidate for your own reasons so that no one can talk you out of it with a single Facebook post. Trust your own convictions. Your vote counts. 

5. What about the electoral college? I even re-educated myself on how the electoral college works, just to be sure. I’m not discouraged. It is absolutely possible for a third party to win. Not easy, but possible. Don’t take my word for it, look it up yourself. Your vote counts. 

6.  This is not a first. You know what I kept reading the other day? Third party can’t win, third party can’t win, third party can’t win. The facts were weak. It was Facebook logic, honestly. When I started doing focused google searches, it wasn’t so bleak…This is not the first time a third party candidate competed for president in earnest. It’s not this black and white picture where we’ve been republican vs democrat  all throughout history. Look up Abraham Lincoln. I never realized, but he was technically a third party candidate, and his story is fascinating. Lincoln, people! And then you have Ross Perot. Here is a decent explanation of precedence. A third party win is possible. Don’t let people act like it’s never even been close. It has. Your vote counts. 
Okay, so, moral of the story. I’m not telling you who to vote for. If you truly believe that one of the mainstream candidates will be the president you want, then vote for them. But if you happen to like Gary Johnson, I just wanted to tell you, don’t be discouraged. You’re not throwing away your vote. Your vote counts. 👍

10 Reasons to just never start your baby on solid foods

I have a 3 year old and a 9 month old. So I’ve done the solid foods switch once, and my youngest is officially old enough and not very interested in food…Honestly, I’ve been dragging my feet. You see, I learned with my first that these are the best of times. Feeding is easy now. We’re confident in our ability to breastfeed, and I don’t need accessories. I can walk out the door with nothing but an extra diaper and be reasonably sure that we can survive. It only gets harder as they get older. 

   
 And it doesn’t help that my son, the mouth explorer, inexplicably hates food. I’ve tried mashed and I’ve tried whole, but he doesn’t like it. He spits medicine in my face, he gags on mashed sweet potato. TODAY was the first time he accepted a spoon of apple sauce and didn’t act like it was dog poop. He smiled! And wanted more! So, I just haven’t been trying hard, but I guess it’s time. Here are the reasons I’m in no hurry (but obviously we’ll make it happen eventually). 

1. Breastfeeding doesn’t require accessories. I don’t need spoons, bowls, bibs, high chairs, mashers, whatever. Just sit down and let the feeding commence. Say what you will about the challenges of breast feeding, but it’s free and simple once you have it down. 

2. Breastfeeding doesn’t require cooking. Again, simple. You can just sit on your butt and feed the kid. No cooking, no planning, no cooking required. 

3. You can sit on your butt. Breastfeeding is an excuse to sit on the couch and stare at your baby, or your tablet, or you know, crochet something…Once you start them on solids, you have to feed them or help them eat. Cut up their food, blow on it (because somewhere down the road they apparently lose the ability to do that themselves), clean it out of their hair…

4. You don’t have to worry about allergies. Okay, you kind of do. When you’re breastfeeding, you have to change what YOU eat, so that’s kind of like torture. But usually it’s to do with the majors–dairy, gluten, soy–and it’s usually temporary. When you start solids, the possibilities are endless. Each new food you start is a possible allergen, and you have to really pay attention. Even foods that people are rarely allergic to! My son was randomly allergic to eggplant for a couple months–the months in which he LOVED eggplant–and now he isn’t. But, for some reason, he refused to eat it last week. 😒 which brings me to my next point. 

5. Picky eaters are the worst. When you first start a baby on solids, food is interesting, and optional! They might like it, they might not. But it’s not the end of the world if they don’t eat much. There’s a sweet age in there where they’ll eat things that surprise you…but then it happens. They learn that cookies are delicious. And everything else. Everything. Is disgusting. Yes, even that chicken that he devoured last week. Ugh! The fights over food! It’s exhausting. I find myself making questionable decisions just so that I know he’s eaten something. 

6. Breastmilk has it all. It’s once they’re mostly on solids that you have to make sure they ate enough veggies, and drank all their probiotic shake, and got enough water. Considering the negotiation required to get anything eaten, that’s obviously a blast. 

7. Solid food is a mess. If I had a dollar for every time I had to clean peanut butter or yogurt or syrup or tomato sauce off of something…my couch, my floor, his hair, my hair, his clothes, my clothes, the chairs, the table, the floor. 

8. Solid food is inconvenient. If I want to bring the baby somewhere, I can grab an extra diaper and walk out the door. If I want to bring the preschooler somewhere, I have to bring a snack, or a whole meal. I don’t feed him convenience food, so before I head out, I’m bustling in the kitchen, trying to plan the day. 

9. You have control over diet. With breastfeeding, what makes breastmilk healthy is what YOU eat. Even if you don’t eat great, breastmilk can make up for some of it. But once they hit a certain age, all bets are off. I can’t force my son to eat healthy foods. Some days, any food that isn’t a cookie triggers a huge tantrum. And I raised my son on a non-processed diet, no sugar except fruit until he was 2 years old. So it’s not like you can prevent the crazy. 

10. The stomach flu isn’t so bad on a liquid diet.

11. Toddlers waste so much food. Well, if they’re super picky, they leave food uneaten. And they’re a mess, so there’s already a ton on the floor. Some of it has probably been put in their mouth, and then spit into your hand. “There are starving children in China!” will be your new favorite phrase. 

Save your breath. Just stick to the liquid diet forever. 
*As a side note, just days away from being 9 months old, my kid finally made a face that didn’t say “what is this crap, get it out of my face!” 

To the mom who just can’t even

Dear mom who just can’t even…I can’t either. 

So, here I am, in the kitchen, wearing my 6 month old on my back, half-heartedly cooking dinner (I never cook dinner) and wanting to break something. Wanting to sleep. Or cry. Wanting my babies to sleep. And stop crying. My three year old is sitting at the kitchen table, probably destroying something. The 6 month old keeps arching his back, trying to escape. The living room floor is carpeted with Lego land mines. 

  
I am losing my mind. 

My husband has been at work since 5 am, and it’s now 6:30 pm. I can’t handle being alone with my two kids for that log, apparently. It doesn’t help that I am sick and I have a sinus headache. I don’t have any energy whatsoever. My house is a total disaster, which is both a cause and an effect of the stress. My 6 month old hasn’t let me put him down for longer than 10 minutes at a time. I’ve had to let him scream 5 times now in order to accomplish simple things, like peeing. My three year old has thrown three tantrums. He doesn’t wake from naps well. He’s not allowed to open presents until Christmas. He can’t eat cookies for breakfast, lunch and dinner. He has hit me, twice on purpose, two on accident. I have lost my cool twice. I mean, I have thrown almost as many tantrums today as my preschooler. 

And now my husband is late coming home, so I have to make dinner. 
On top of the actual stress and possible depression that I’m dealing with, there’s one more problem. I feel like I’m alone. I feel like, this shouldn’t be this hard. There are other moms who show up at church on Sunday morning with make up on, wearing heels and talking in complete sentences. There are moms all over Facebook who seem like they’ve got it together and they’re enjoying life. Moms with two kids are having a third, so apparently procreation is still possible after the first two, for some people. 

So what’s wrong with me? Why am I the mom who can’t get through this day without crying beside my children? Why have I gone three days without a shower, when I see other moms who seem to get a shower every day? Why am I the one with the questionable fashion sense, no make up, neglected hair? Not to mention my house that looks like a child actually designed the whole decor.  Why is it such a struggle for me to get out of pajamas in the morning, let alone dress my children, when I see photos of infants dressed to SHOES just to hang out at home? 

Why can I not even, when everyone else can? 

Because they can’t. There are some that can, but sometimes looks are deceiving. Just as I feel like my cries of help aren’t being heard or properly translated, theirs aren’t either. Sometimes my cries of help aren’t being answered because the ones that noticed them could only respond with “I know. Me too.” 

I’ve been feeling inadequate. I’ve been feeling like I’m just not strong enough to raise two children.  But I realized today that there are probably others who feel that way. And it’s important to know: you are not alone. 

There are others. They aren’t hanging out with you because they can’t even, either. But, as a post from a parenting blog recently reminded me, this is just a season. It will pass. Your kids will one day, oh too quickly, pull some of their own weight. One day, even if they aren’t sleeping through the night, at least you won’t have to be up with them. One day they might even take care of you. 

 

But until then, enjoy those rare nights when you’re actually able to keep your eyes open for an hour of wine and Netflix at the end of the night.  And send those other parents a quick note. I know you’re busy; just send a quick Facebook message while you’re hiding in the bathroom, or while you’re stuck on the couch nursing a baby for the second time in the last hour. Ask them how they’re really doing. Tell them they’re not alone. Knowing you’re having a “can I cage my little monsters?” kind of day can be encouraging to some people. Positive statuses on Facebook are great, but it’s nice to know when you feel like you’re drowning, that there are others up to their neck too. I know people who only post the positive stuff. I know people who only want to read the positive stuff. But sometimes I post the bad things (usually in a funny way, apparently) because sarcasm and hyperbole are therapeutic for me. And because I know others feel a little better when they see that this hippie, cloth diapering, organic cooking, chemical-free mama is losing her **** too. 

So this is just my way of telling you, if you feel like you’re alone and you’re the worst mom, and you’re failing at life, you’re not alone. My house is a mess, my kids are screaming, and I’m holding onto my sanity by a thread. If you happen to see a cute, set up photo of my kid, or a status about a movie I went out to see…I guarantee you, that was a great moment wrapped in a storm of chaos and strife. So, reach out, or don’t. But hang in there, either way. 

If you need practical tips to feeling better, This recently spoke to me. And if you want some humor about it, This is my favorite explanation of parenting

Made of Clay: my post birth story

My labor experience bringing my son Sebastian into the world was every mama’s dream. Almost entirely free of fear, anxiety and pain. Relaxing and full of love. Slow, but enjoyable. No drugs,no interventions, no complications. Just nature doing its thing. It was perfect. (You can read that story here)

 


But we can’t have it all. Complications do happen, and it’s not always something avoidable. Sometimes, you can do everything “right” and things still take a left turn.

As I mentioned in my birth story, labor was so low in pain and so peaceful, that the idea of lidocaine and stitches sounded awful. Fortunately, my midwife said that I hadn’t torn, except for a small abrasion that wouldn’t need stitches!  I was lying peacefully on the bed with my baby, thinking about how nursing and bonding was going to go. This was my second baby without any drugs or medical intervention whatsoever, and it went better than my first. My first was healthy and natural; it was just a bit more fast and stressful than my second.

 

 

And yet, shortly after birthing the baby, lying in bed, I thought it odd how much pain I was in. It wasn’t the pain I’d expected. It started in my butt cheek and thigh, throbbing. And it wasn’t long before it became so unbearable, I was crying. Sobbing even. What was happening!? I was confused, scared, and in pain. “It hurts so bad, just make it stop!” I remember saying. The great thing, though, is that it seemed like mere minutes before my midwife and the doctor were there taking care of me and making the pain stop.

They said it was a hematoma. They don’t know why it happened. Hematomas are associated with trauma. Lacerations, car accidents, stressful labor, forced pushing, surgery, or at least tearing. And if you read my birth story, you’ll know, there was no trauma. And hematomas are rare as it is.

But however it happened, they handled the crap out of it. I was a bit delirious, and it all happened very fast. Justin took the baby, the nurse got IV’s into me and gave me a pain killer, and there was something about inflating a balloon to apply pressure and stop the bleeding. They said the hematoma was the size of a cantaloupe.

 


A lot of the details are vague, because I was on drugs and everything was already a big blur. After things had calmed down, they carted me off to get a CT scan. Somehow, a vein AND an artery had been damaged and were leaking blood into tissue, causing the hematoma. For it to have been the size of a cantaloupe, I obviously was losing quite a bit of blood.

So, then they sent me to Interventional radiology. This is how I know I chose the right hospital. They have all kinds of resources and they’ve been able to provide services for me that I didn’t even know I needed.

They gave me a drug that would supposedly make me sleepy but not knock me out completely…but i knocked out completely. It might have been my exhausted and hurting body just shutting down. But, no complaints. I woke up and they were done! They said the bleeding had actually stopped, so they didn’t need to do as much as they’d planned; they just plugged up the damaged parts and the job was done. The trouble was, I heard them arguing on the phone with labor and delivery. They said that the surgery went very well, and I should be good to go to my room to recover. I guess L&D disagreed, and thought that, because of the damaged artery, I should spend the night in the ICU, just in case. You know who can’t spend the night in the ICU? Newborn babies.
Sebastian hadn’t nursed since right after his birth. They’d already given him formula while I was in surgery. I’d been in a chaotic dance of drugs and hospital beds for hours. I couldn’t spend a night without my baby; this was NOT how it was supposed to go! After what seemed like an eternity, I believe justin came to meet us, and they told me they were definitely taking me to the ICU, and I started crying.

I needed to feed and hold my baby. It’s my biological imperative! I’m sure it’s common sense: after a mom has carried a baby for 9 months, then gone through the physically and emotionally vigorous task of bringing the baby into the world, her only thought is on that baby. I had already been away from my first born all day; not to mention, I had a traumatizingly scary and painful experience. I did not want to spend the night alone with a nurse and a bunch of machines. I felt like everything was out of control. I was supposed to be in a room snuggling with my boys, listening to music, and relaxing. This wasn’t part of the plan!

But, yet again, we were in the right place. They brought me a breast pump at one point, since I hadn’t been able to nurse. Then, as it turns out, they’d put me in the room closest to the door, which made it less risky for the wonderful L&D nurse to bring me my Sebastian! She would bring him in every few hours just so I could feed him, then take him back to the nursery. I hated that he couldn’t just stay with me, but how amazing it was that they let me at least nurse him! I was 100% happier being able to hold my baby in my arms, even for a little while. Of course I didn’t sleep well. I kept getting woken by my robot friend, automatically taking my blood pressure. A nurse would come in to check this and that, and then another nurse would bring Bast in to breastfeed.

 

Justin ended up going home and snuggling with Westley, and they both came to see me first thing in the morning.

I was afraid Westley would freak out about all the tubes and wires all over me, but he just called me Robot Mommy and he seemed okay with it! He was very sweet. It made me feel better seeing him ❤️

 


The next day, I got to move into my recovery room, finally. And here I discovered the joys of bed rest. Not. Ugh! I had to lay flat on my back most if the time in ICU. Next day I was at least allowed to sit up…not that that was any more comfortable! Sitting had been uncomfortable after having my first child, with “normal” labor injuries. This time was even less uncomfortable, except that I couldn’t get up periodically to get some relief and get blood flowing. No, this time my only options were: left side, right side, 45 degrees, 180 degrees.

I don’t remember much, except feeling concerned about my anatomy; and worried about my two year old being away from us for so long; and disconnected from my new baby because our first days together weren’t what I’d hoped. And lonely because I was trapped in a hospital bed. Helpless, because unless I had my mom, brother, husband, nurse or only visiting friend there to be my butler, I couldn’t do a single thing. (Though, at least I had that many people in the rotation!) Frustrated because I couldn’t do things the way I wanted.
Meanwhile, it turned out Sebastian had a tongue and lip tie. Well guess what! Just so happens, there is a plastic surgeon at De Paul who corrects these types of things as early as birth. Most other hospitals don’t even tell the parents about tongue and lip ties! None of them will clip one at birth, and I see parents talk about the pain their baby is in. After the surgery. . This plastic surgeon clipped Westley’s tongue at birth, and he clipped Sebastian’s for us, too. No apparent pain. Both boys came to me afterward, hungry and with a perfect latch.

And then there’s my doctor, who was fantastic. I’d only seen her twice my entire pregnancy. Yet as soon as the hematoma appeared, she was there. And on day 3 of my hospital stay she told me we should do a second surgery. She’d had a hematoma after having one of her children. So she knew what I was going through, and really cared about  how this turned out. The second surgery was to drain the hematoma. They’d put me under IV sedation, drain the hematoma, and hopefully after that recovery will be speedier, since I wouldn’t have to wait on it to shrink by itself.

So I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink after 10 pm -______________-

The next morning they took me to this tiny room where I sat forever answering questions, then they told me I actually had to go under general anesthesia (which generally terrifies me, though I’ve been under before), and that I had to pump. So that was annoying. But I was eventually wheeled into the operating room where I was awaited by my doctor and her boss, and then I was asleep. I woke up some time later to the periodic reminders to take deep breaths. I hope someone tells those people how great they are, because I had the vague impression that they were really nice and took good care of me, but…we patients never remember them because we’re in a fog of anesthesia and pain killers! That was the case with one of my L&D nurses, too. She got us through a really tough time, but none of us remember her name. I should have planned better for my post-birth trauma and brought a notebook fir notes 😉

Anyway, after my second surgery, they took me back to my room and took my catheter out! Then I took a very slow assisted walk to the bathroom, where I peed for the first time in three days, and then nearly passed out trying to get back. Now that I was off bed rest, I was a bit more frustrated because now I was allowed to move around, but I was still extremely limited. That night, I kept ending up with the baby in my arms, and somehow I had to get him back into his bassinet. I didn’t want to yell at justin to wake up or push the call button just for that…one time I had to push the call button because Bash’s hat was on the floor across the room and it was cold. They brought a new hat instead of bringing me the old one, and it was too small for his head for some reason. 😑

It’s such a frustrating feeling when you’re supposed to be taking care of a newborn, and there’s a two year old waiting on you to start caring for him again, and you can’t. When you can’t even get up and go to the bathroom on your own, let alone change your baby’s diaper. I can’t imagine how i would have taken care of my boys  if we hadn’t drained the hematoma. It might have taken months to shrink. And bonding…bonding is much more difficult when your too busy with all the survival necessities to just hold your baby and look at him.

On the fifth day, we got to pack up and go home ❤️ That’s when it got serious. My mom thought it would be good to bring Westley home to us so we can have a nice bonding night as a family……..

No one slept.

Apparently, the first night home is impossibly hard, no matter how experienced you are. It’s ridiculous.

The Blessings

Westley has been hurting himself a lot lately and, being a 3 year old, he’s been freaking out at the thought of band-aids or ice or medicine or any doctoring whatsoever. We try to reason with him and tell him he’ll feel so much better if he just sits still and lets us do what’s necessary. But we always end up holding him down while he kicks and screams and makes it so much worse than it has to be.

It’s funny how we do that to ourselves.

And we do, all the time. In my birth story, I mention how fear and resistance make childbirth more painful and difficult. In life, it’s the same thing.  God allows us to experience things and promises to use them for the good of those who love Him.

I am so grateful that we had such a good hospital to take care of me. And it is such a community. As I mentioned, we had a plastic surgeon when we needed him; Baby Bella photography came and helped me see the beauty in the room; a HARPIST came in and played for us. By the grace of God, I was able to see the positives the whole time. I only lost my cool like, twice, which for me is pretty good!

It’s disappointing to me that I prepared for my son’s birth, had a successfully beautiful labor, and still had to go through this ordeal. I felt a little ripped off. At times, I wonder what it would have been like if I’d not had the blood vessel damage. I wonder how quickly I could have bounced back, how easy recovery could have been. But in the end, the fruit would have been, what, bragging rights? Certainly a few weeks of pleasantness instead of struggle. I’d probably be running and working out at my full capacity already. But aren’t there women out there who struggle? Could my struggle give me a perspective that helps others?

I already feel an empathy toward mothers with birth complications that I didn’t have before. God gave me the birth I wanted, and yet I am able to relate to moms who had longer stays at the hospital. it can be easy for someone who’s had natural births to have a narrow view; to not be able to relate with those who have struggled. A lot of people, when they hear my birth stories, seem to think, “Well I’m glad that worked out for you, but we can’t all be super heroes.” And it’s easy to feel like we can control all our circumstances and just go natural. It’s a powerful thing to have a baby without medical intervention.

But the truth is, you can do everything right and still have complications. I think women who have complications need emotional support, and I’m now more capable of that than I was before.

I still struggle. there’s exhaustion and depression. We’ve been getting pretty hefty hospital bills. Sebatian was conceived a bit earlier than we’d planned, so the timing meant that insurance wouldn’t cover the birth. That would have been fine, if not for the complications. With every bill, I’ve been feeling guilty and depressed. Until I realized a few days ago that those bills are a low price for my life! There were times when things could have gone bad, worse than they did. I’m fortunate to have been at the hospital, and that they were able to stop the bleeding. I didn’t end up needing a blood transfusion, which is a huge blessing. Every once in a while I see a new angle and realize all the ways God has been using this experience to make me better, stronger, more kind, more patient.

And on the days I don’t see it, I just hide in bathroom and eat more chocolate. That’s okay too, sometimes.

 

The Peaceful, Wonderful birth of Sebastian Novak 

  
Westley had just turned two years old, and I recall wanting to space my children two years apart, like my brother and I were…But come August, I wasn’t ready. Westley has been a handful, and honestly, I still hadn’t completely gotten over his birth. So when I found out I was pregnant a second time, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to the big day. I spent several months worrying about it being too quick, or too slow, I worried that my baby would be gigantic, and I assumed that I would tear. I really wasn’t ready for all that. I was still in the “pregnancy sucks” phase of motherhood. My first birth story was about as good as you could expect–or so I thought–and I still had a horror story to contend with the best of them. It hurt and it was scary and crazy and the only consolation was basically the baby at the end (and the fact that it was so short). I won “bragging rights” for doing it naturally and drug-free, but it wasn’t something I was excited about repeating! 

  

Until I managed to get ahold of a book called Hypnobirthing: the Mongan Method  by Marie Mongan. Then, at 8 months pregnant, I took charge of how well it was going to go and stopped worrying. People knew I was the kind of “brave crazy person” to have a natural birth, because I’d already had one. But I couldn’t convince anyone that this time I was going for a painless, enjoyable birth. I might as well have told them faeries were acting as my midwives. 

But wow! As it turns out, labor really doesn’t have to be the boogie man under every mom’s bed. It doesn’t have to be this big, loud, dramatic event. Or difficult and painful. Or long, slow, and overall frustrating. Pain, intensity, trauma; these are not inevitabilities. But we have heard it all our lives; doctors have cozied into their interventional procedures, and it has become a self-fulfilling prophesy of sorts. Don’t get me wrong, every birth is different, and there are SOME special cases, but not as many as we think. Womankind uses it as this proof that women are strong and can endure more pain than men. But how much greater would it be if we could brag about bringing life into the world without all the screaming and drugs? I am fairly certain it’s not a coincidence that I read that book and had this labor story. I’m not going to outline any of the book, for brevity’s sake. I’m just going to tell my story, and if you are or will be pregnant, maybe it will inspire you to pick up the book 🙂  So here’s my story!  

The doctors set my due date at May 21…However, my original guess was May 27. I won!😜 On May 28, I was sitting on the couch with Westley when what had been Braxton Hicks contractions suddenly started presenting themselves more in my back than my belly. As they started occurring pretty regularly, I had a hunch I’d gone into early labor. Luckily West was in a rare snuggly mood, so we sat on the couch and watched Tinkerbell and the Neverbeast while I tried to time contractions. Daddy got home and I still couldn’t fully tell, but it just felt right. My mom and little brother came over just in case. 

   
  

  

Quick note: An important Hypnobirthing tool is music, plus recordings of certain relaxation, breathing, visualization and affirmation techniques. I had some quiet worship music, tracks from an album called The Comfort Zone, and some with an Australian woman talking me through the relaxation I needed to help my muscles work efficiently. I called it my Hippo Birthing playlist  😁

  

Contractions were coming roughly twenty minutes apart. I walked around the house getting things ready. I sat on an exercise ball and watched Game of Thrones. I sat on my couch listening to my hippo birthing playlist. These tracks are fantastic. I’d practiced them for a couple of weeks. By the time labor came along, my brain was trained to relax simply upon hearing any of the music in that collection. But the soothing voice was also quite helpful. So on Thursday night, I was going about my life, noting when a “surge” came (surge = contraction) and slowing down to breathe through and let it do its work. Again, it didn’t really hurt. Though some were more intense than others, it was never more than a tightening sensation, with a slight crampy feeling in my back. I went to bed around midnight and slept soundly through them. I thought it odd that my water hadn’t broken–my first labor started that way and went by quickly–so I was hesitant to stand everyone down, just in case. But, we needed rest while we could get it. 

Friday morning, I had my “week late” appointment at 10:00 am. I was awake around 5:30, aware of the contractions. Justin made us breakfast. I took a shower, and Westley kept asking to join. Finally I switched to a bath and let him get in! So I sat in a bath with my two year old for a while. He stuck his foam letters on my back and thought it was hilarious 😊 

At one point, everyone was in our main room, living life, while I lay comfortably in my bedroom, sleeping and/or relaxing through what were now obviously contractions about 10 minutes apart. But it didn’t seem urgent. I listened to my relaxation tracks, reading, pushing a button on an app with every surge, until I fell asleep. My husband found my timer going on 80 minutes, as I’d fallen asleep in the middle of a contraction! The contractions weren’t even so bad as a stomach ache. I was feeling them come on, and it almost felt like I was moving them through my body with my controlled breathing. I was so relaxed!

Eventually I had to drag myself out of bed to go to the hospital, even though I was perfectly content to labor the rest of the day on my bed. 

Good call. 

Justin and I got to the hospital, sat around for over an hour. I have to say, sitting in that stupid waiting room was definitely on my list of three worst parts of my labor. So here I am, in this hard chair, apart from Justin, in a small hallway filled with women. Pregnant women and new mothers, dressed in their maternity best, with flowers and matching stripes and solids hugging their beautiful bellies, and looking expectant and hopeful. …I was basically in a t-shirt dress with no bra on, no make up, hair wet and stringy from the bath. I was getting a little irritable. It’s like when you’re trying to concentrate on something important, and people keep barging into the room and making noise, oblivious to your important work. Arg! I was in there for like an hour.   

But, when I eventually saw the doctor, she checked my cervix and announced I was 6 cm ( the midwife later said 5) with a bulging bag! 😖 Sounds disgusting, but it meant my water could release at any time. So they brought me a wheel chair and my husband, and we made our way to our birthing room in the midwifery center. I got several comments about how it didn’t seem like I was in labor. But every time a surge started, I simply relaxed! 

 

[My mom and brother in their labor team outfits. Justin didn’t have a matching shirt 😉]

Such great timing! We got comfortable, my labor team converged, and Sebastian continued his journey! 
I had a lot of freedom here. I liked to lie on my side with a pillow between my legs, but to encourage my water to break, I kept being gently reminded to move. Sitting on the birthing ball while Justin lightly massaged my back was divine. I sat in different positions, walked the room, took a shower. At 7 cm, I  got out of the shower, rummaged around for my robe tie, and had a completely coherent conversation with my team about whether or not we should break my water. 
At 7 cm, I was chilling. We were laughing and talking. This was not the 7cm I had with Westley! In hind sight, the way I responded to the contractions was definitely a part of it. 

   
      

    
     
We decided to break my water. I’d been in labor for 24 hours and, while it had been pleasant, it had been long. I hadn’t eaten–not in case of c-section–but because I’d planned on a water birth, and pooping or vomiting in the tub wasn’t in my birth plan! Everyone agreed that I could handle the sudden speed that would come. So, we broke my water, which felt fabulous. Then I went ahead and got in the tub. 

Transition began pretty much immediately. My hippo birthing playlist wasn’t where I wanted it, so I asked for my Australian lady when it started getting serious 😉 Instead of feeling like a sporting event, with words of encouragement and instruction shouted around me, it was more like a spa. I was being gently prompted to envision a rainbow mist, surrounding me one color at a time. I was thinking about my baby. Justin talked about how he’ll be here soon and we’ll get to hold him. 

And the neat thing is that last time, I knew it was transition because, more pain, more intensity, big waves. This time, I knew it was transition because I could feel a distinct difference in how the surges made my muscles move. They were longer and I could basically feel them waving up and down. This called for long, slow breaths, and I started moaning. Not screaming. It was a big feeling, but it wasn’t painful in the same way as my first labor. I knew that my baby was almost here. I was able to participate in my contractions, work with them, use them. It started getting intense so I felt the urge to move to the middle of the tub so I could kind of float. 

Then I felt it. 

How do I describe it? The baby’s head bore down and I lurched a bit and said “I think he’s coming.” I mean he might as well have been like “Heeeere’s Bastian!” And, though the Hypnobirthing book doesn’t fully describe the third breathing technique, it came to me naturally. Suddenly the slow breaths didn’t feel quite right. And I can’t explain it, but the book describes it as “breathing your baby down.” 

So my midwife had to work to get me where she needed me. This is the ONE part that is just, really tough. I can’t claim the crowning to be totally painless. Maybe it’s that I couldn’t get deep enough into relaxation. I think I could have prepared more for it. Maybe it’s just pure physics. But I can say it was still much, MUCH better than last time. Last time, I was screaming. Last time, I felt like I was being stabbed to death. Last time, I was trying to force my son out, which did not seem to be doing my muscles any favors. 

But this time I could feel my baby’s head. This time I knew how far we’d come and how far we had left. I reached down to feel it so I could grasp what my body was doing. It was difficult staying focused through this part. I wanted to lose it, but it wasn’t like “the pain is too much!” kind of lose it. It was more like holding a really heavy weight, and you’re getting to the point where you can’t hold it anymore. And your dumb trainer won’t let you drop it, so the rest of your body wants to flop around like a fish. Truly, was there pain? A little; more than there had been the whole labor. But it was nothing compared to what I went through later. Heck, I’d had my toe nail removed a month earlier, and that had more actual pain. This was more intense, but not technically as painful. 

So I would get a little wobbly there for a second! But my midwife got me back on track, and had me calling the baby out, talking to him, which calmed me down. I wasn’t pushing really, not in the same way as with my first son. I was breathing, and then I did give a bit of something there at the end, but I was trying to let the contraction do the work. Finally, our little Bash got his head through and the rest of him spiraled out like a baby torpedo. I could tell he was smaller than Westley. Not complaining! I now had my boy in my arms, and we loved on him for a minute. The whole tub part of labor hadn’t lasted very long, but I couldn’t tell you the exact timing. It felt like ten minutes. Definitely no more than twenty. There aren’t any pictures of that part, so that should tell you something. 

   
  

 We got out of the tub–slightly tricky with a newborn literally attached to me–then moved to the bed for all my postpartum things and our bonding time. I anxiously awaited my midwife’s report: I hadn’t torn! Just a small abrasion that wouldn’t need stitches. I was so excited. The birth was so low in pain that the thought of lidocaine and stitches sounded terrible. No tearing! Woo! 

  

 
We nursed for the first time, I delivered the placenta, we cut the cord after it stopped pulsing. And that is the end of my beautiful birth story. Looking at my beautiful baby boy: 

Sebastian Elodin Tolkien Novak. 8 lb 1 oz, 20.5 in 

  

And that brings us to part 2, which will be a separate post. I wanted to do this in two parts because this was exactly the birth I wanted. I want to remember every detail of my actual birth story. It was incredible, and I want everyone to know that it is possible to have a labor that is smooth and relaxing and comfortable. I think this part of the story deserves its own spot light. When asked about the birth of my second child, this is what I want to remember, and what I will always tell first time moms. 

 
Through this experience, I’ve learned that birth can be a TRULY enjoyable experience! It doesn’t have to be a horror story. It can be a wonderful gift, something to look forward to. I also learned that we need to be careful with our horror stories. A birth story is a powerful thing– word choice is a powerful thing. I think positivity made all the difference. That doesn’t mean we should lie, but maybe we should look back and think about what we LIKED about labor. And when someone expresses the desire for a natural birth, we definitely should not look at them like they said “I want to give birth while levitating in a forest of light while magical imps chant well wishes around me.” We shouldn’t scoff or act like what they want is impossible or insane. It isn’t. It’s natural and wonderful! 

We’ve been told our whole lives that labor has to hurt, and so we look to all these drugs and man-made interventions. But, God was involved in Sebastian’s birth and it didn’t feel like He wanted me to suffer. It felt as though He was bringing the baby into the world as lovingly as He’d created him in my body. It was special. The baby wasn’t the consolation prize for hours of suffering. His labor fit his birth. It didn’t feel painful and chaotic; it all just felt big and important. It should always be like that. 

  

At least it’s healthy

I go through the following scenarios pretty often:

  • I’m checking out at the grocery store and I have to keep pulling Westley’s hands away from the carton of dates because he wants some.
  • I’m checking out at the grocery store and Westley takes a bite of a pear before I have time to scan it.
  • Westley is eating raisins, I decide it’s time  to cut him off, and he gets upset.
  • Etc…

 

Every time this happens, the typical comment from passersby and grocery clerks is something like, “Well, at least it’s the healthy stuff he wants!”

Now, I’m not picking on small talk. They don’t know me or my son, and they’re right; better that he’s begging for a pear than a candy bar. But, it brings to my attention the complacency that our society has settled into. It has become commonplace to be at a grocery store and see kids begging their parents for a candy bar or some skittles.

But in the old days, dates and pears and raisins WERE candy! You know what makes fruit sweet? SUGAR. Natural sugar, with nutrients still intact, but sugar nonetheless. Fruit is nature’s candy. When our family is eating the way we should, especially after some sort of detox period, fruit is plenty sweet enough to answer our bodies’ call for something sweet.

My son loves fruit. We fill his Christmas stocking with fresh fruit, dried fruit and fruit chips, and he is THRILLED. I even threw in a bar of organic soy-free dark chocolate, and he loved it. DARK chocolate! He loves it….He is a two year old, so we do still have to explain that he can’t just eat fruit all day long. But he doesn’t wish he could have a Milky Way instead, or some laffy taffy. He is every bit as happy to get an apple or some organic popcorn as he is to get any kind of junk food. In fact, sometimes when he does get a bit of the junk, I think he turns into a little ugly gremlin. More on this in a different post; but if a screaming fit is the most memorable result of giving my tot processed sugar, then WHY does everyone keep pressuring me to give it to him!?

The way I see it, he is perfectly fine without the processed stuff. And I sleep better knowing that even on an indulgent day, he IS getting some nutrients and he is NOT getting potentially harmful colors and flavors and additives. But, he still has to eat his meat and vegetables.

Please Do Not Feed the [children]

I’m sure you’ve seen this sign before, at a zoo or a park or whatnot…The sign is there for a reason. Animals can get sick. Or they will stop eating the food they’re SUPPOSED to eat, and only want the junk you’re giving them.

And this is a touchy subject I think, but this same rule should apply to human children. Why is it socially acceptable to feed someone else’s child, without so much as a “by your leave”? My son is two years old, and people think it’s just so great to give him things to eat. If I don’t want them giving him animal crackers or goldflish crackers, or Oreos, or banana pudding, or cupcakes, I have to remember to approach every adult or teenager that he will encounter and request that they not feed my child. And if I do this, I am known as a health nut or a control freak, unless I have a “good” reason for this request. But even if I DID have a “good reason”…..no one ASKS if they can feed my child! Generally, people will just give food to kids and consider it a favor…

–Legitimate Reasons to Not Feed someone’s Child, especially without asking–

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