I posted this article on my personal Facebook yesterday, with this statement, "Such a healing article. I have a difficult time in allowing myself any credit, but this was so validating to read. The mere minutes I had to make the decision, I was the bravest I have ever been. Since then, I have had to become the strongest I have ever been. And I can also say that I am now the most blessed I have ever been. Happy 10 months, Bean!"
A distant friend, who is/was a nurse (and who I don't think knows my story), responded with this, "It doesn't matter how a baby is born. My rule is always healthy mom healthy baby. I love birth plan mamas. They just have to remember I'm not the enemy!"
At first, it hurt and I jumped on the defensive. Of course it matters! I was absolutely not healthy! I was in excruciating pain and drugged so hard I barely remember the first week of my son's life! I have PTSD and post-partum anxiety!
But then, I thought... She has a point. I can see her side. Her job is to make sure that both mom and baby stay alive. Her, and the other nurses and doctors, have that responsibility to the mothers and babies. The issue that I am trying to work against is when their convenience becomes a hindrance to birthing mothers, such has restricted movement, birthing on the back, unnecessarily scheduled inductions/cesareans etc. But OBs and nurses are not automatically evil. In fact, I’ve met the OB that I plan to have a hospital birth with once I’m pregnant with #2. She is incredibly supportive of VBaCs (vaginal birth after cesarean), and even gave me statistics supporting VBACs at our initial meeting! Several of my mama friends have or are planning to birth with her, and have given her the highest praise. I feel comfortable with the thought of her providing my prenatal care and assisting me in the birth of my next child.
To me, it did matter how Bean was born. Imagine telling a girl who has planned her dream wedding all her life, has all the vendors paid for, and is getting ready to walk down the aisle, that she has to go to the courthouse and give up everything she has dreamed of, planned on, and paid for. In the end, she is still marrying the love of her life, but what was planned to be a pivotal day in her life has been reduced to almost nothing, comparatively, with none of the memories that she hoped for. For anyone who has not had a similar experience, this is the closest analogy I was able to come up with. In the end, though, we did both come out alive, and for that I am eternally grateful for.
Her statement, “I love birth plan mamas,” got me thinking a lot, though. I was a birth plan mama. Most of my friends are birth plan mamas. In fact, I sat on a pretty high horse with my birth plan. I was literally so set in my birth plan that I scoffed and rolled my eyes while filling out the paperwork required in case of a transfer. I whined to Bear about having to fill it out, and put it off as long as possible. I had a healthy pregnancy, why shouldn’t I have a healthy, normal, natural birth, like women have been having for eons? Isn’t that what the natural birth community preaches, that we were made for this? My mantra, like so many others, was, “I grew this baby, I can birth this baby.” Until I couldn’t.
Coming off of my high horse, the fall was hard. It left me breathless, bruised, and sore. I am grateful, in a way, though, because it opened my eyes. Namely, if I had not been so set on having a home birth, if my mind and heart had been more open to the possibility of something ending up differently, maybe I wouldn’t have suffered so much when plans did change. Perhaps my PTSD/anxiety would have been less, or even non-existent. If the Natural Birthing Community was more open to necessary medical interventions (as my midwife was), perhaps my friends who have had to have them in order to birth vaginally would not be so ashamed to admit so. Is there a chance that the natural birth community and modern medicine could live in harmony, rather than pitted against each other? Working together, maybe an outcome of “healthy mama, healthy baby” would become more often a reality, rather than a distant dream, as it is for so many. To the doctors and nurses and midwives and doulas who really do care about that, thank you. I appreciate you beyond what words can express.
On Facebook, my response was that I was not healthy, I had PTSD and anxiety due to my birth experience, which was met kindly by my nurse friend, but spurred another response which nearly broke my heart and has left me crying all morning.
A distant family member, who I doubt knows the story of Bean’s birth, made the joke that knowing birth could bring on “the same PTSD that soldiers come home from war with” was good birth control.
Oh. My. Heart.
I have PTSD, not because of birth, and, I think, even very little has to do with it ending in a c-section over a vaginal birth. It is from the situation surrounding Bean’s birth. To quote a previous blog post,
"In a matter of minutes, we went from our midwife telling Bear to get ready to catch his baby to our baby being born in a room full of strangers, with the only person in the room who loved him out cold on the table. If that is not traumatic, I don't know what is.”
My experience is rare, and shared in the hopes of 1) finding and offering solidarity with and to other women who have been through similar experiences and 2) to educate people who have not been. The last thing I want is for my experience to be used as something to scare women away from having children. Even though it was said in jest, I have been in tears over that statement since I logged into Facebook this morning. I will be honest and say that statements like these are what make me not want to share anything about my experience, but also spur me to do it. I would not change what I have been through for the world, and I am grateful every day that such a great blessing as Bean came out of what occurred. Despite this “joke”, I will continue to share and be vulnerable, even if I only reach one other person for the good with my experience.
Quick update on all of the goings-on in the Den.
Since my last Bean update, he has had his 9-month check up, and the physician’s assistant asked if he was waving or clapping yet. We told her no. What does he do two days later within 20 minutes? Claps and waves. Aha. And he does both all of the time now, but only for Bear and me.
He is crawling like a speed demon now. Remember the last update? About how he was Lieutenant Dan-ing it? Well, that stopped like maybe a week after I posted the update. Kinda like how he started clapping and waving. Goose. He now crawls like a pro on all fours, generally with a sock in his mouth. Don’t ask me why, he just loves socks. They’re all over the house.
He is a super cruiser now, too, pulling himself up on everything he can. Couch, table, chairs, his toy chest, me, Bear. We bought him a wooden walker toy, and at first he wasn’t sure of it. Within a week he was pulling himself up on it, and now he regularly walks with it. He is also standing himself up and standing unassisted for 5+ seconds at a time. His reach is getting longer, which means I can no longer work on my laptop on the couch, because he wants to play with it, too!
Bean's newest game is pulling everything down if it's up, and out if it's in. That includes, but is not limited to, the coffee table, the couch, the bed, his toy box, and laundry baskets (clean or dirty). Our house is the constant state of Tornado Bean Disaster now!
No words yet, but his vocabulary has expanded to saying, "Mmmmmmm" any time he wants something. And he's the Master of Raspberries now.
We all came down with a stomach bug, nasty thing. First, Bean got it, and since it was 24 hours after his shots, I thought it was a reaction to them. Until Bear, who rarely gets sick, got it a few days later. I was about 12 hours behind Bear. Ugh. It was pitiful, the two of us curled up on the couch watching Bean (who felt fine at that point) playing on the floor, trying to figure out who was able to move enough to change the next diaper. Haha! We all made it through, though, and no worse for wear.
I have been expanding my shop to include baby summer shoes and drool/suck pads for baby carriers! I’ve also been catching up on orders for these and other items, leaving me little time to stay up with the blog. I missed last month’s home decorating project, but I have several swirling around my crazy brain, and plan to do two this month to catch up.
I managed to finally finish “The Giver” quartet. I’ve been a huge fan of dystopian books since I read “Fahrenheit 451” in high school. I think the series is one of my favorites, now.
Bear has been working, working, working. We love having him home, though, and I love watching him play with Bean and marvel alongside me how quickly he is growing. Bear has also become obsessed with finding us a new family vehicle. Right now, he’s driving his well-loved truck to work, and we have a little neon for the 3 of us. He spends hours researching all of the different SUV’s and crossovers (he wants something that can haul a motorcycle trailer), and stops at a car lot at least every 2-3 days to check out what they have. If you have any suggestions on a good family vehicle that can last a growing family, please tell me in the comments! I’d love to know what has (or hasn’t) worked for you.
Holy cow, it’s been a long time since I’ve updated about Bean. He’s going to be 8 months this Saturday (Valentine’s Day!).
Why didn’t anyone tell me that he would grow up this fast?! J/k, j/k. Plenty of people did, I just didn’t believe them. It’s been a good 3 months since I last posted an update. I actually had to read what I wrote to see how far he’s come, and it’s far!
Bean now sits up on his own. In fact, he can now get himself up into the sitting position from being on his back or belly. He still scooches more than crawls, and since my friend called him Lieutenant Dan, I giggle every time he drags himself around with his arms, his little legs dragging behind him.
He went within days from being able to pull himself up to his knees to pulling himself into a fully standing position. He loves to stand up, but he’s not sure what to do from there!
Bean has also started eating from the table – well, his high chair. So far he has tried (and liked!), in no particular order:
He is still mainly breastfed, and I hope we continue through at least a year or longer! He’s mastered pinching with his thumb and finger, which is great for him eating, but not so good when it’s Mama or Papa’s skin.
Bean cut both bottom front teeth on Christmas Eve! I guess that’s all he wanted for Christmas. Haha! He’s also still a babbler. No words yet, but he understands “milk” and “more” in sign language, and has recently begun to sign “milk” when he gets hungry. Yay for communication!
He has become increasingly independent in his play, and he now loves Veggie Tales and Baby Einstein. He takes fewer naps (cries to self) and is sleeping longer periods through the night.
Bean loves when Bear or I blow raspberries on his belly, and he’s recently begun blowing raspberries on my belly! It is the funniest thing! If I lay down on the floor with him, he will pull himself to standing next to me, pull my shirt up, and start blowing at my belly. Sometimes he actually manages to get his face on my belly, and comes up with a grin of satisfaction after hearing the funny sounds he makes.
Bean loves being around other children, though we’ve had to limit his exposure due to the height of RSV and Flu season. He is usually gentle with other children, doesn’t get overwhelmed with having several others around, and likes to smile and laugh at them.
We got to visit our sweet friend in the hospital the day she gave birth to her second son. Bean was very curious, and not the least bit jealous when Mama held the new baby. I was so proud of him! It’s hard to believe that Bean was ever that itty bitty, and yet it seems like yesterday. I’m not gonna lie, I’m pretty sure I have the fever again… Baby fever!
Since posting a few times about my experience with cloth diapering, I have had several friends ask how to get into it. I'll admit it, when I was pregnant I tried and tried to research, but pregnancy brain got the better of me. There are a ton of great resources out there, and I'll probably only be repeating pretty much anything else you can read out there. However, I'll be writing this as if to myself a year ago, when I had no idea what anything meant.
My sweet sister, author of Fantastic Actuality blog, has agreed to help me co-author this series. She was the one who broke everything down to me in "For Dummies" style, which was when everything finally made sense. She has even sent pictures to help the visually inclined (like myself).
In this post, we'll be covering the basic of the basics: old-school cloth diapers (like what your grandmother would likely have used), and different cover options.
Prefolds, Flats, and Fitteds – These are the absorbent options to go inside a cover. Prefolds and flats are your "grandmother’s cloth diapers.” A prefold is a piece of fabric that has been tri-folded and sewn together, generally with extra padding in the middle. They can be wrapped around a baby and held in place using a snappi (a silicone "T" with shallow teeth at each end to hold the diaper together), diaper pin, or other fastener. They can also just be folded and placed in a PUL cover. A flat is similar, but it is not pre-folded so you need to do all the folding to either wrap around baby or put in cover. A simple and inexpensive flat option is a flour sack towel from Wal Mart (I used them on Bean along with a prefold for overnight).
A fitted is an absorbent diaper with no waterproof layer. It generally closes with snaps or aplix (hook and loop, like Velcro), though you may need to use another fastener, like a snappi. It is already fitted to the baby with a diaper shape and elastics for a tight fit. Prefolds, flats, and fitteds all require a cover of some sort. You can buy them from most cloth diaper realtors.
There are also hybrid fitteds which include a layer of fleece either on the outside of the diaper or as a hidden layer. These diapers are not completely waterproof or resistant and will leak if not changed quickly but provide a good option for a breathable diaper to wear at home or at night. Hybrid fitteds are WAHM made and do not require a cover in most circumstances.
Covers - There are 3 styles of covers. The most common is PUL or polyurethane, which is a waterproof plastic-like material. Generally they snap or aplix (hook and loop, like velcro) closed. Common cover brands are Blueberry Coveralls or Thirsties Covers. Unless the diaper cover is soiled, you can wipe it out and reuse it 3-4 times before needing a new cover. They require some sort of insert to go in the cover, such as a fitted, prefold, or flat, to absorb waste.
Fleece covers are made from fleece and usually pull-on rather than have snaps or aplix. While not waterproof, fleece is water resistant. It is also very breathable. Many people use fleece at night either over a heavy-duty fitted or another PUL style diaper for added protection from night leaks. Fleece is generally WAHM (work at home mom) made.
Wool is similar to fleece but is more natural and requires a little more work. Wool is also water resistant instead of waterproof, but many people use wool and fleece with no issues. Wool is naturally antibacterial and absorbs order. You can purchase wool covers from companies such as Sbish or from WAHMs (like me!). Unlike PUL covers, wool and fleece can be made in pants, shorts, footies, and skirt versions so no other bottoms are required!
Part 2, "Not Yo' Grandma's Cloth Diapers", coming soon!
Last week, I with dealing with almost constant anxiety, as several women I knew were being induced or having c-sections scheduled to get babies here before Christmas, and I was reminded every time I logged onto Facebook. This article was the catalyst for a very serious thinking session. Then I realized something very important for myself.
It was my choice to have a cesarean.
Absolutely my choice. Just like it was my choice to labor at home, to limit the number of tests run, to limit the number of ultrasounds done. Just like it is my choice (and Bear’s) to have Bean on a selective/delayed vaccination schedule, to take him everywhere with us instead of having a babysitter, to use homeopathic and natural remedies for ourselves and Bean unless we need something more, to cloth diaper.
I had (and have) complete faith and trust in our midwife, but I could have told her, “no,” when she told her assistant to call 9-1-1. I could have refused to allow the paramedics to take me into the ambulance. I could have denied consent to the operation by not signing the papers presented to me at the hospital. I could have said, “no,” until the very moment the anesthesiologist injected the stuff to knock me out.
I am one of the very lucky women in this country to have an emergency cesarean section without being bullied or forced into it. I agreed to this decision because it was the best choice for my baby and me. I made the choice based on the sound advice of my trusted practitioner, who actually had nearly the same exact thing happen to her.
While the whole experience was very surreal and seemed to happen in both an instant and an eternity, I was still completely aware of what was going on. Even though I wasn’t in control of how my baby acted during the birthing process, I was in control of my reaction to his actions.
I have known this, to an extent, since it happened. I guess the PTSD is blinding in a way, and that this is another step in my healing process. I still hate that I had to have a c-section, but I’m hating it less. My scar is less of a painful reminder and more of a source of amazement (my kid came out of that?!). I even managed a trip the other day to the maternity ward we lived on for a week after his birth, to bring cookies to a friend who just had her baby, and left without a panic attack.
I’m still dealing with a lot of “what-if”s and anxiety, panic attacks, hard feelings against the OB who performed the c-section for threatening me afterwards, and frustration at memory loss from moments I was hoping to cherish forever. I still have a long way to go, but I’m so grateful to have gotten this far.
My dear, sweet Bean,
Right now, you are asleep in my arms. You are the picture of perfection, with those chubby cheeks and eyelashes the ladies would all die for.
I want to always remember this, the way your hand rests on my chest and your little feet dangle off my lap. It's hard to believe that just 6 months ago you were placed in my arms. I can't imagine life before you, without you. Yet, 6 months have flown too quickly. The first time I held you, you curled up perfectly on my chest. I try to hold you that way now, and your head rests on my shoulder and your feet reach my lap. The baby swing you used to drown in barely contains you anymore.
You light my days with smiles and my nights with cuddles. I get a (not so) secret thrill when you only want me or daddy.
I'm so blessed to get to watch you grow, though sometimes it gets frustrating for both of us. Not just cutting teeth - though mama hates to see you in that pain, too - but in learning how to do things yourself. Rolling over, sitting up, now crawling. You're so close, and you get so angry when you've almost reached your toy but it is still out of reach. I hope we both learn from this; you, to not give up when you set your mind on something, and me, to encourage you and support you but not do it for you.
In one short week, we will celebrate our first Christmas together. A year ago, papa was laughing at me for staring at the lights. Now he's so excited to have them up so you can stare, and stare you do. I hope you never lose that joy of innocence and wonder (and staring at a lit Christmas tree).
If I could pause time, I'd almost want to right now. But not quite. I look forward to coming Christmases, to teaching you about the birth of Christ, to seeing your eyes light up at the presents under the tree, to listening to your little voice sing carols and hymns, and hearing your little feet patter around way too early.
But, for this moment, I will wonder and awe over you the way you wonder and awe over the Christmas lights.
With all the love in my heart, and all that overflows from it,
These cookies... where do I start?! Yes, the entire first row is gone... straight out of the oven. They're that good. I promise.
I first discovered this recipe a few months ago, after I had seen something about flourless peanut butter cookies on Facebook. I was hoping to find something with just a little more than the traditional flourless peanut butter cookie, which generally consists of peanut butter, eggs, and sugar. I found this recipe on Ambitious Kitchen, which ended up being my inspiration!
My goal with these cookies was to have something that I could grab and eat with one hand, without any sort of heating or prepping beyond the initial baking. It also needed to be something lower in sugar and higher in protein, so that I wouldn't have a sugar crash shortly after eating. Additionally, I was looking for something flourless, since gluten-free flours tend to be expensive, and most have a gritty texture that I'm still trying to get used to after nearly 2 years.
These cookies taste and feel like cookies should taste and feel! Thankfully, they aren't overly sweet so no tummy ache if I eat 4 (or 5... or 10...). But they are sweet enough to satisfy any sweet-tooth, including Bear's!
Here are the changes I made to the recipe:
I hope you enjoy these cookies as much as I do! Make sure you get a BIG jar of peanut butter, though, because these won't last long and you'll definitely be wanting to make more!
I spent years in customer service, 6 of those years in call centers alone. (No, I’m not one that called during dinner to ask you if you wanted to upgrade your cable.) Being in the “professional communication” business for so long, I’ve heard a lot; lots of funny things, silly things, smart things, and downright stupid things. Believe it or not, there is such a thing as a stupid question. However, nothing could have prepared me for some of the stupid crap people would start spouting at my offspring once he made his arrival. *insert facepalm here* Here are some of my (least) favorite.
Did she pinch you?
Yes. Because I enjoy torturing my child. (Hint: that's sarcasm.)
Is she starving you?/Mama’s starving you to death!
This was said – nay, repeated – at my most vulnerable. Bean was not even a month old yet, and we were still working on the whole breastfeeding thing. Even though he was weighing in well and gaining to his pediatrician's delight, I was still terrified that I wasn't doing it right. While I knew that the family member saying it was obviously joking, it still felt like a sucker punch to the gut every time either phrase left her mouth. It's something you don't ever say to a parent of a new baby. Just don't.
I'm not native to this area. I'm still learning the local dialect. For example, where I'm from, to "wear someone out" means to make a person tired. Here, it means a good spanking. So if I told my mom I was taking my sisters to the park to wear them out, it would make sense to her, but if I told my neighbor the same thing, they'd be worried for my sisters.
I believe "isyewagooboi" means "are you a good boy," but I'm not entirely sure. However, and I say this with no disrespect, I cannot talk to my child like that and expect him to learn to speak properly. So don’t be surprised if you use baby talk with my Bean and see me visibly cringe.
Isn't your mama so mean?
Again, yes, I just loooooove to make my child cry.
This has been said to him multiple times when I’ve needed to lay Bean down for some reason, typically for a diaper change in a public restroom. I would think that being a mean mama would be to make him sit in his own filth for extended periods of time, not removing him from it. Of course he’s going to cry, he’d much rather be held. But the sooner you get out of his face telling him that I’m being mean to him, the sooner I can get him back in my arms.
You’re too pretty to be a boy!
Why does being a pretty baby negate his gender? Of course he’s gorgeous, he takes after his daddy! But being pretty isn’t simply a feminine quality, just as handsome is not a strictly masculine quality. I can understand this one a little better, though. I’m totally jealous of his eyelashes, too.
As the non-confrontational passive aggressive person that I am, I generally smile and nod while avoiding eye contact, and then write about it. What are some of the craziest/silliest/weirdest things people have said to your infant/child? What was your response, and what do you wish you had said?
Today marks 5 months of breastfeeding for me and Bean. I cannot believe how quickly the time has gone! As the saying goes, the days are so long and the years are so short. I mean, seriously, he was just born yesterday (right?), and it'll be Christmas in a few weeks.
I'm sure I was told plenty about breastfeeding while I was pregnant. Honestly, I don't know how much went in one ear and out the other. Here are 5 things that nobody told me about breastfeeding (or maybe they did and I just don't remember):
5 Things Nobody Told Me About Breastfeeding
1. Nobody told me that it would suck my brain dry.
I mean it. I'd been in the professional communication field for almost a decade prior to Bean's birth. I had a great vocabulary and was a great articulator. Now I can't remember my name half the time. Or how old I am. I'll get stuck in the middle of a story and not be able to finish because my mind can't remember a simple word. Instead, I'll spend an hour trying to explain the word I'm looking for.
2. Nobody told me how soon nursling gymnastics (a.k.a. Gymnurstics) would start.
About a month ago, Bean started rolling around in my arms into completely contorted positions while nursing. And heaven forbid I try to move him into what I think would be a more comfortable position. He MUST stay in his desired contortion until he's done.
3. Nobody told me how exhausting it would be.
Especially when he is going through a growth spurt. He stays attached at the boob. All. Day. Long. And now we think he's teething, because he's been super fussy and clingy. I'm grateful that we co-sleep, because I can't imagine having to get up multiple times a night to get him out of a crib. Even still, he's gone from sleeping 4 hours through the night back to being up every 2 hours. I'm a sleepy mama.
4. Nobody told me how much it would annoy me.
Not all the time, but sometimes. Sometimes, I just need to pee. Or eat. Or take a 5 minute shower instead of a 2 minute shower. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Mamas with babies (especially breastfed) should have a pass to wear Depends.
5. Nobody told me how much I would love it.
This is all of the time. I'm constantly in awe of how my body continues to grow this amazing tiny human. He is alive and thriving because of me. It's incredible. I am excited for him to start exploring the world of solid foods, but I'm already dreading when this part of our relationship ends. When our eyes connect, I know that he loves me. When he smiles and makes happy noises when he's full, I know that he's saying, "Thank you, mama." When he falls asleep with his hand on my chest, I know that he feels comfortable and well taken care of.
In celebration of reaching our 5 month mark, I am giving away a box of Lanisol Disposable Nursing Pads and a weighted nursing cover. The nursing pads were amazing and I used them constantly while we were in the hospital our first couple weeks home. I have since switched to washable, but I still keep some as back-up.
Since this is not a sponsored giveaway, simply leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite, least favorite, or craziest thing about breastfeeding, or what you're most looking forward to about it. I'll be doing a good ole fashioned drawing Monday morning. Drawing will be closed Monday, 11.17.14, at 10am EDT. Good luck!
In one week from today, Bean will be 5 months old.
Where does the time go?! My baby is no longer a squish. More and more often, I'm catching glimpses of the little boy that he is growing into. I beg him at least once a day to stay a baby just a little while longer...
He is now rolling over for realsies. Like, all over the place. He's been able to roll over for a while now, but usually needed encouragement. Now he's a pro, and we can't keep him in one place if we lay him down. Seriously, he'll roll from one side of the living room to the other! Diaper changes are becoming quite a challenge now that he has discovered his new talent.
In addition to rolling, he's also scooching around while on his back, although I'm not sure how he's doing it. It's always when I look away for a second. I'll lay him on a blanket or his play mat, with his head in the middle, and, a minute later, his head will be off the blanket/mat and on the floor.
He's mastered pushing himself up while on his belly. When he was smaller, he hated tummy time. I felt like the meanest mommy putting him on his belly. It would last maybe 15 seconds, and the whole time I tried to convince him (and myself) that it was necessary and good for him. Turns out it actually wasn't, because we wear him, and babies that are worn don't need tummy time. But now I can't keep him off his tummy. Half the time we lay him on his back, he's on his tummy in seconds, doing the half-body push up. In yoga, it's called the cobra pose.
Bean is getting better at grabbing and holding onto things, including his feet. He still likes to pat/smack me and Bear, but he's nicer to his toys. He's been able to grab the hanging toys on his play mat and pull them down to his mouth. He even managed to get a toe in his mouth yesterday!
He's babbling away; and, since discovering his tongue, likes to do so with his tongue stuck out. Adorbs. His favorite sounds are: "dadada" and "lalalala" and "weoisakdfjoiwlekng". Yeah, I can't even hope to replicate some of the sounds he makes. I don't understand how he does it. But he is very vocal and loves to talk to us, his toys, and his reflection in the mirror. We haven't counted anything he's said as his first word, since he's not associating the sounds he makes with anything yet. I'm still holding out for that word to be "mama." :P
Mama Bear of one Baby Bear, Bean, who both love Papa Bear, and live in a crafty, gluten-free cozy den.