Desultory Discourse of a Spasmodic Spaz-Matron… Who happens to be a mom…

I posted this originally 3 years ago, but it was incomplete. I really thought I had taken ownership of myself, my parenting, my children, and my happiness but while I made a solid effort, it would be inaccurate for me to leave this post dated 3 years ago. I had a lot of learning, a lot of growing, and still had some old insecurities to beat out. So here is an updated repost with love and honesty. Happy New Year!

I have finally faced that imaginary wall we place up in the moment we become parents. It’s littered with comically inaccurate specters aimed at haunting us with the unwritten codes to “parenting correctly”. They advise us on the “dos” and “don’ts”, “acceptable” and “misguided”, “rights and wrongs” at the complete refusal of the INNATE urges we feel as parents towards our children. They are the voices that tell me that homeschooling Corwin is going to ruin him forever, that if I have a glass of wine I will poison my nursing 5 month old, that missing my former self in her former life makes me a bad parent because being a mother is ALWAYS wonderful and why on Earth would I need company or activities that don’t involve my children…

I have felt a deep, ceaseless guilt for my self perceived incompetency as a parent. I place ridiculously high (and at most times unachievable) goals for myself. Corwin didn’t spend enough time with me as a baby, I didn’t have my natural birth with him (instead I had a 21 hr long labor, 14 of which drug free before I succumbed to the epidural), and didn’t breastfeed him as I was 18 yrs old, my mother didn’t breastfeed me, and I didn’t even know what a lactation consultant was. I have been plagued by these decisions ever since they happened, every single day, and have made myself my own harshest critic. I was not the parent I wanted to be. I was not the mother I dreamed of being. I had failed…. before I had even gotten started.

These feelings never let up. As Corwin’s problems progressed, I blamed myself for not having enough foresight, for not being educated enough, for not being “there” enough. How dare I have taken a night off every now and then when he was a baby, how dare I have fed him nonorganic baby food, and OMG DID I CAUSE HIM TO HAVE AUTISM (gasp). The voices continued through other people… People who told me I didn’t care enough about him, that I needed to suck it up and finish school, that I needed to be MORE selfless, try harder, work harder, WHAT was I doing out drinking on a weekend (shock!). I also fought the conflicting voices telling me that it was okay to take a backseat to parenting, as I was only [blank] years old!

And then I told all those voices to fuck off.

That’s right. I’ve reached that point. The only voices of value in this world are my own (when they aren’t teaming with the angry and insecure remnants of others opinions of myself) and those of my beautifully flawed children. It has been a long, hard road. I have made numerous mistakes, ones I can never take back. But I have learned that your role as a parent is never fixed, just like your identity as a person  is never truly set. I am constantly evolving, maturing, and learning and dammit if I have to live in the shadow of my poor decisions forever. Dammit if I spell “Damn it” wrong. Fuck me if my grammar isn’t perfect. Because I do what I want, I follow what I feel, and I love what I love and do what I do so imperfectly in a perfect way for me because it’s MINE.

Dig it?

Because I do.

I am a fearless lover of my children. I follow my instincts and trust my gut, better than I ever have, and it has yielded the best rewards an “uneducated”, “uncultured” girl like myself could ever hope for. I ultimately succeeded in my previously failed parenting goals with my daughter (3 and a half years old) and youngest son (6 months old). I breastfeed because it is a challenge I loved succeeding in. I do natural births because I wanted to enjoy the birth of my children rather than live in a drug induced nightmare that was my oldest sons’ birth. I learned from experience. Which brings me to my next critical realization…

Until you have walked in my shoes, or at the very least have birthed a baby,  you are NOT entitled to an opinion. This has been one of the hardest lessons for me. I am a self admitted people pleaser. Others opinions of me MATTER, to an ABSURD degree, especially on things as important to me as my success (or perceived lack thereof)  in parenting. I can’t count how many times I have had advice thrown at me, or judgment placed on me, by people who weren’t even parents, or people who were parents but in drastically different situations. I can honestly with 100% accuracy say I am finally over it.

And finally I have come to the realization with the help of reading a POWERFUL blog post on Renegade Mothering that I *am* a different person than I was 8 years ago. I was struggling with my mothering role in regards to my son. Torn. I was a very good mother, even by my own standards for the most part, but I was at an identity crisis. I wanted friends. I wanted a community. I wanted to be “liked”. And it all placed me in some very uncomfortable positions where I made some very poor choices that have affected who I have become today. I have realized that I am who I am… I believe what I believe and having no other friends than my children really isn’t so bad on most days. For the most part, I thoroughly ENJOY my life. And I don’t relate to other people around my age because other people around my age can’t relate to me being a parent and THAT IS OK. I don’t need to fit in.

Here is my New Year- I have grown to love myself in a more real way than I ever have. I have done it by becoming a mother that *I* am comfortable being. I have done it by finding and staying true to the voices in my head that make sense (in a non psychotic way). I value my voice because it is mine, and I am posting on here because IT is mine. I made this blog mostly for my own benefit, and if it isn’t valued by others that is ok with me. I’m not an expert on parenting, autism, or babies… but I am damn good at handling all three in my own way. So go me.

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YEARS ago, when I first dabbled into the oft-confusing world of cloth diapering, I made a well-intentioned blog post about the best cloth diaper “stash” on a budget. Years later, and beating out some bad advice, I’d like to update some of my original ideas.

First of all, a lot of cloth diapering preferences come down to ethics so I will try to keep it simple and unbiased. The following will be a collection of cost friendly options, and great quality options.

Cost Friendly Options-

Your best, most cost friendly option are covers and prefolds/flats. Covers come in a variety of different patterns, colors, and brands. If you opt for this option, I *strongly* encourage you to spend the extra couple bucks on some good covers. My personal favorites are Rumparooz and Thirsties (I’verumparooz heard Flips are great too). You can get cheap covers off Amazon ($8 Bububibi covers are what I started with) but the difference in quality is very apparent. My original covers did not last in the least. It is much better (in my opinion) to shell out the extra few bucks per cover to get good ones that will last you. I love OS (onesize) covers. You can save money for good covers by forgetting about getting expensive “brand name” prefolds. Flour sack towels (here on referred to as FSTs) are FANTASTIC!!! They are cheap, super absorbent, and work great as flats or padfolded in a cover. Another great option is to use flannel receiving blankets. The exact same blankets you get about 100 of at a baby shower… they are very absorbent and versatile. In this category, if you are just starting out and want some basics, I’d suggest a pack of Mainstays FSTs and 6 Rumparooz covers. You can get a 6 pack of solid colored OS covers on Amazon for $84.99, and FSTs on sale from Walmart for roughly a buck a piece at $24. This puts your total investment in cloth diapers (aside from detergent, which we are getting to) at about $110. Not too shabby.

Another budget alvafriendly option is to go for “China Cheapies”. Common brands are Alva, Sunbaby, and Kawaii. Some people love them, some people hate them… personally, I am on the fence. I *hate* China Cheapie pockets (I thought I hated all pockets, but no, it’s just the lower quality ones). They leak like crazy and are poorly constructed. The stitching and the snaps just popped right off. This was an LBB brand off of eBay… However, I have tried an all-in-one style that I ended up liking… it was super trim and did not leak. I was a little concerned with the way it was constructed that it would be harder for the absorbent layers to really get a good clean (contributing to “stink” and worse problems later on), but with a solid wash routine and proper care it should hold up fine. I say give it a go…. don’t get an entire system, but if you are open to it, buy 1 to try. You may end up liking them.

Fancier Stuffs-

freetimeI’ll be honest, after cloth diapering 2 kiddos now I definitely see the value in having just a *few* of the pricier ones on hand. I have come to love BumGenius freetimes- they are about $20.00 a diaper but they make a great over night diaper. I love my covers and FSTs/receiving blankets during the day, but at night when I am not interested in folding and want a quick change these are perfect. I can change the diaper in the dark and with no “parts”. They are also great for babysitters as they are the most similar to disposables.

Also, my boy has an issue with moisture. Cloth diapering is a great way to reduce/prevent rashes in most babies, but for some, having wet natural fibers flat against their skin for any period of time causes the skin to become agitated and red. This was a really easy fix for me.. I just cut up a microfleece blanket to use over a padfolded FST. Why? Microfleece is a “wicking” material- it draws moisture through it, acting as a “stay dry” layer between my little guys’ butt and the cotton material. It may not seem like a tiny piece of cloth would make such a difference, but it became the reason we were able to continue cloth when we discovered he had a sensitivity to prolongsnappied moisture.

Snappis are a great alternative to diaper pins. Personally, I never saw the value in complicated diaper folds… I always just folded my flats in half long-ways, in half side-ways, and then in 3’s (padfolded, to look like a long rectangle as shown below) and set it in a cover. That worked just fine for me. But if you’re a “folder”, Snappis can be a life saver.fst

Now, let’s talk detergent issues….

When I first started cloth diapering, it was a 50/50 split between cloth and disposables on my little girl when she was about 5 months old or so. At first things were dandy, but then I started to notice her butt would get red. She never acted like it bothered her, but it was noticeable. I assumed her skin was a little sensitive (she has eczema) but thought as long as it wasn’t bothering her we were fine to continue with what we were doing. Looking back, the redness was likely caused by my typically recommended but HIGHLY inadequate wash routine. I was using Molly’s Cloth Diaper Detergent (plant based), only about 2 tablespoons per load (which is what was recommended), and was not at all taking into account our hard water. Fast forward, and this was DISASTROUS on my poor little guys’ 100% clothed bum as a newborn. Here is why that is a problem… Plant based detergents lack enzymes to properly wash diapers. Cloth diapers are HEAVILY soiled… a tablespoon, no matter WHAT the manufacturer of the diaper or the detergent says, IS NOT strong enough to tackle the job. So I changed my system… I now use Tide Powder (HE) line 2 on my “Quickwash” (for a prewash) with equal part of Borax, and then do a “Whites” wash with line 5 of Tide and Borax. I have not had a stink or rash issue since. Note- I have VERY hard water. I highly recommend Fluff Love University for anyone looking to properly care for their cloth and protect their littles’ bum!

Here’s my notes for now! I will likely to come back to edit this as time allows, but the baby is hungry 😉 WE DON’T WANT HIM ANGRY!

Ok, Lovelies…

It has been a while and I felt like doing something different. So this time around, I am getting down to the nitty gritty of a not-so-often discussed but very real topic for working mothers like myself… Pumping.

You hear it as I type it, don’t you? The loud “grrrrrrroan…… grrrrrrroan” of the automatic machine awkwardly attached to your nipples as it mechanically, coldly, sucks out that liquid gold in a way that you can only imagine is similar to Ol’ Bessie the cow. Yup, you’re the milk machine… You hate it. I know you hate it. I hate it. It can be frustrating, and time consuming, and inconvenient, and even (heaven forbid if this is you!) painful… but it is a fact of life of many of us who make the choice to continue nursing past our (usually pathetically short) maternity leaves. It’s a cold, hard, often lonely world in this hushed practice of break-room/bathroom/hidden cubicle pumping. The good news is that it doesn’t have to go unrewarded!

I have tried many-a-pump through my 3 kid tenure of attempted breastfeeding. My first was a Medela Pump In Style 8 yrs old that left my nipples broken, bleeding, and excruciating. We had a rough go at nursing and I decided to reach for the pump in a desperate attempt to save our breastfeeding relationship (a pumping mother is still a breastfeeding mother to me, FYI). Unfortunately, lack of education on proper fitting flanges and appropriate pumping techniques coupled with oversupply led to disastrous infections and agony. I had an old version of the Medela manual pump that, while less painful, produced less results and leaked like all get out. The next time around I opted to change from the traditional favorite and tried a few more budget friendly options… the Playtex double electric (NO), Lansinoh (still NO), Evenflo manual (surprisingly effective), and the Ameda Purely Yours. The Ameda was GREAT. Because of the comfort fit kit, I was able to discover the importance of flange fit and comfortably and effectively pumped for 9 months before having issues with the motor. I continued pumping a full 12 months past birth, but the last 3 were a combination of manually expressing and using the pump to stimulate a let down. I was tight on cash and replacing the pump was not an option at the time. This time around I wanted the results of the Ameda but the longevity of the Medela brand (without the discomfort), and wasn’t turned off by the idea of once again trying something completely different.

spectras2

Enter… The Spectra S2. It came highly recommended to me by an EPing (exclusively pumping) mom who claimed she saw better results with it than the Medela Symphony. A lofty claim! I had my doubts, but the reviews for it on Amazon were amazing and the price was incredibly appealing in the world of electric breast pumps, much less ones that claimed to be “Hospital Grade” (and while there are no specific requirements to make such claims, it’s still ballsy!). I bought it with a gift card I received from my mother in law and figured “What the hey!”. And let me say, shipping from Amazon was incredibly fast considering it wasn’t on Prime. I paid roughly $130 for the pump all together.

Pros about the Spectra S2:

  1. Comfort. While it doesn’t come with a multiple size flange assortment like the Ameda (it comes with a standard 24mm flange, though you can purchase multiple sizes), I find the flanges far more comfortable than the Medela ones are. The actual “suckling” of the pump is also way more comfortable. It has a gentle vibration build up with each “suck” and feels a lot more natural than other electric breast pumps that just feel like “tugging”… you obviously have a “tug” but it feels closer to an infant suckling than other breast pumps I have tried and is hardly noticeable after a few minutes to me. Also, the level of suction and cycle speed is adjustable (I like the lowest speed and level 4 suction after my first let down, personally).
  2. Discreet. While it doesn’t come with a super hip pumping bag, I bought a very inexpensive insulated beach bag that works just fine. The pump is only 3.3lbs. And it is SO QUIET…. The most quiet pump I’ve ever tried.
  3. Output. I’ve had amazing output with this pump. To be fair I have had oversupply with all 3 kiddos and I haven’t tried another electric pump this time around, but my output has been incredible. I can pump out in 10 minutes what would take me 20 before easy, and have a letdown as quick as 30 seconds into it. Which leads me to..
  4. “Massage” feature to stimulate a letdown. It works, seriously, SO WELL. Once a let down occurs, you press the wavy button again and it remembers your pumping preferences from the last session. So I don’t have to adjust my pump every time I pump. It’s so nice!
  5. LED display brings pumping into the 21st century. It’s very clear, and has a timer function as well that counts how many minutes/seconds you have been pumping and the pump automatically shuts off after 30 minutes (in case you fall asleep/drift off into sleep deprived zombiehood, to prevent nipple damage).
  6. Night light feature makes pumping in the dark, or in a dim office, a breeze.
  7. It is a closed system (like the Ameda). Unlike the Medela PISA, it implements backflow protectors into the design of the pump that prevent milk from entering the tubing and ultimately the motor of the pump. This prevents which issues that ultimately lead to damaging the motor. Also, this makes the pump giftable/sellable to other moms once you no longer need it (though, for hygenic reasons, it is often recommended they purchase their own flanges and valves/membranes).
  8. Let’s be vane.. It’s frikkin’ cute! I love the soft pink and round design. It looks very modern and sleek!

Cons:

  1. This is the big one… there is no place locally to pick up replacement parts. You have to order them online as the pump is still gaining in popularity to be sold at the big baby stores like BuyBuyBaby or BabiesRus. However, I have read (no personal experience here) that the parts come in super fast. Also, Medela valves/membranes are compatible with this pump. I have also been told that if you need new tubing, you can take yours to Home Depot and get tubing that will work (for MUCH cheaper than the Spectra tubing replacement!)
  2. Wide neck flange. There is an option to purchase an adapter to pump into standard sized bottles (like your Medela/Ameda/cheap ol’ Gerber bottles) but it seemed a bit pricey to me at $15. You can either order additional 5 oz Spectra bottles or they are compatible with Avent wide neck bottles or Dr Browns wide neck bottles (glass ones not included in that!).
  3. Cheap collection kit. To be fair, this is an issue with most breast pumps. But the lettering on one of my bottles has definitely rubbed off in several spots.
  4. This model DOES NOT have a battery option, though you can purchase the Spectra S1 for that option. It’s exactly the same except it has a battery and is light blue where this model is pale pink.

Over all, I am incredibly happy with this pump. It’s comfortable, cute, light weight, and sports a lot of unique features. The pump has been used daily, often multiple times a day, for 3 months and it is going strong. I have no doubt it will last through our need for it. Spectra customer service is also highly rated on replacing the pump if the motor gives out within the first year (online reviews state). So on that note, I leave you this image taken at 1 week post partum AFTER feeding my grumpy, HANGRY newborn…

happypumping

Happy Pumping!

If I could sum up my day in one photo, it would be this one…
ScreamingJude

Aint he beautiful?!

I wont lie to you, there’s been some tough moments. At the 2 week mark my anxiety started to creep up on me in those deliriously tired moments, and I began to get frustrated at the mysteriously absent memories of Corwin’s and Layla’s first weeks after birth…

When did Layla start sleeping through the night? Was she still eating every two hours? When were their growth spurts? Did Corwin spit up this much?

At 3 weeks I realized my maternity leave was half over and I started to panic. I was (am) still a messy, squirty milk machine. I was (am) still getting no more than 2 hours of sleep at a time on the regular. I was (am) still trying to get the hang of this little guy… you’d think after 2 kids, you have it down but NOPE. I either blissfully blocked out how difficult Layla’s first few weeks were or she was the easiest newborn in the universe. Except breastfeeding, Layla (to my memory) was a fantastic newborn, almost too easy. I got worried with her that she slept TOO much. Jude’s sleep patterns both day and night resemble Corwin’s, and the best way to describe it would be “WTF?!?!?!!” There’s almost no pattern, and lots and lots of spit up and gas. When I made that connection, I got paranoid…

Is it reflux? Corwin had such bad reflux… should I call the doctor? Is he going to end up with scarring on his throat too? Am I not burping him enough?! I need to burp him more… And his rash hasn’t gone away. Is it yeast? I bet it’s yeast. Layla had thrush. Do I change him enough? Is it my fault? 

It amazes me how much I still question myself the 3rd time around.

And the SLEEP… this is the first time I am going back to work FULL TIME at 6 weeks. With the first 2 it was only 4-5 shifts a week, and this time I am going back to 45 hours right off the bat. To say it is intimidating is an understatement. With him not sleeping and the presence of all these questions with still unknown answers, the only thing I knew for sure was this…

I don’t know how I can do this. 

I’m the google queen. I’m a know it all. I research everything. I study everything. But I could not figure out how I could possibly be ready to go back to work and do it well so quickly after birth. No lead up, no preparation, just throwing me in. I became constantly anxious… I kept asking myself what I could do to make the transition easier, what could I do to make sure I could pump enough at work (I have 400 ounces of breastmilk in my freezer, for goodness sakes!), and the biggest fear of all… Will he even know me any more? And the thought of that would make me start to cry.

It is really kind of funny… I was so afraid of having postpartum depression that I caused my anxiety to fly through the roof thinking of ways to prevent becoming anxious and depressed when I returned to work, INSTEAD of just enjoying the time I had with my newborn. I’d say weeks 2-4 were pretty difficult for me but, as always, I was too proud to discuss it with any one.

About half way through week 4, I realized I was being ridiculous. I can definitely do this. I don’t need to have a routine DOWN just a few weeks after birth in order for Jude and I to be ok when I need to go back to work. Going back this early sucks, and it’s already emotionally draining, and I do worry about how me working so much will affect our relationship but those things are fixed and unchangeable. The best I can do for myself and my beautiful baby is to STOP STRESSING. Is it reflux? We’ll ask at the next doctors appointment. When did Layla start sleeping longer stretches? Irrelevant, because Jude is a completely different baby. When were their growth spurts? When they ate more, nuff said. Can I do this?….

Yes. Yes I can

I have a few compulsions I have noticed. I have nightmares about someone dropping Jude, or him accidentally getting hurt some other way. I have a hard time getting to sleep after he has, because I’m preoccupied thinking about other things. And worrying. I find myself constantly checking the buckles of his car seat, his bouncer, the swing, etc, because I’m afraid I forgot to do it. All of it I know is anxiety related, and I have found just talking to Grant about my true fears related to me going back to work helps. So while I can sum up my days with a picture of Jude screaming, I can sum up my over all postpartum experience so far with this one..

beautifulkids

because, over all, these are the images that my shitty brain will remember. Not time between feedings. Not sleep schedules. Not worrying about whatever medical ailments my baby *might* have… Not whether or not I could do it, but that I *did* do it. When I look back the main thing I’m going to remember is DAMN do I make some pretty babies :-).

Jude is here!

FirstBreathe

Or more accurately, he arrived about 2.5 weeks ago on July 28th.

I had been having contractions off and on all day at work. In hindsight, I probably took more “sit down” breaks that day but really didn’t take any signs of my early labor seriously. The only sign I observed and attributed to impending labor was actually the day before I went into labor, and it was that all of the edema I had been experiencing vanished. Absolutely no swelling in my feet or hands. I figured this was a pretty significant shift likely caused by hormones related to me starting labor, but figured I had at least a week left. I experienced an increase in what I thought were Braxton Hicks contractions, but Layla teased me relentlessly for weeks before arriving just 1 day shy of her due date. As Jude was 2 weeks from his due date, I assumed he would come some time that last week. Over the course of the day I noticed the contractions felt mildly different, and questioned whether or not they were “productive” because I felt a definite downward pressure as opposed to just abdominal tightening. But again, this was how I was with Layla, so I once again blamed it on being in “labor prep” mode. I contemplated whether or not I was maybe dilating a little bit more, but surely “true labor” was just wishful thinking.

My ride home from work at 6 o’clock was uneventful except me noticing that the contractions hadn’t stopped all together no matter what position I was in. I began to question whether I was wishing for labor signs or actually experiencing them. Grant and I discussed whether or not it was necessary to start timing my contractions over dinner, but I decided not to tease myself and to just take a shower. “It’s not like it will happen without me knowing it anyway” I said dismissively. Grant went to bed early that night and I laid down with Layla at around 9:30. I noticed right after laying down my contractions changed. I felt a strong downward “pull” and a familiar sharpness in my spine. I quietly wished for Layla to fall asleep quickly so I could tell Grant the news, but after only 3 of these contractions my water broke. Then things began to happen very, very fast.

As I felt warmth begin to trickle down my legs, I jumped up and waddled to the bathroom saying “babe…babe…babe…babe…BABE!!!” When he finally heard me, I called back “My water just broke!” He jumped out of bed as if someone fed him 6 espresso shots intravenously. He called out “WHAT?!” sounding half shocked, half confused. When I pointed at the puddle of water beneath my feet in the middle of another painful contraction he tried (and failed) to hold back a smile while saying “Wow, ok… are you ready?”

“NO!”

From here things get a little bit blurryish. I sat on the toilet waiting for Grant to bring up my yoga ball (and call my mom, and every one else). I began to panic…. this was not at all what I remembered. In my previous labors, contractions came on slowly and the build up in intensity was gradual. Once my water broke, however, labor was painful. It felt like I was thrown into it. In the phone call to Dinah, she dismissively asked me to try and get some rest if I could and keep her updated. But my panic feeling didn’t go away…. I knew intuitively that this was going to happen faster than expected. After waiting only 30 minutes, we called back and told her we were on the way. I questioned my ability to stay on top of the painful peaks, even telling Grant “if she tells me I’m at 4 cm, I really don’t think I can do this!” The drive was a nervous mix of attempts to distract me and rushedly trying to get there fast. Grant joked as we passed Mimosa Dr “Just think, Babe! You can have a bunch of mimosas soon”. I acknowledged his attempt at humor.

We arrived at the birth center around 11 o’clock. I waddled in and tried to regain control of my fracturing self confidence. My spine felt as if it were on fire and I knew from previous experience that I was head to head with my biggest fear…… back labor. Dinah examined me and told me my second biggest fear… I was only at 4 cm. I almost started to cry.

Here is Corwin’s labor all over again! I thought as I began cursing myself and my body (which I prematurely credited for failing me). Dinah and Grant came to the rescue…. she recommended turning me over and began massaging my lower back during the next few contractions. They were incredibly intense, and I was terrified of what to expect as labor progressed. Was I just lucky with Layla? I thought. What if I can’t handle it again.. Grant continued what Dinah started without a word or any prompting and I really appreciated it. I briefly let myself get distracted by what I can only describe as performance anxiety… I was worried about disappointing Grant, Dinah, and myself. Then, unexpectedly, I felt Jude move and steadily the agony in my tailbone lessened to an ache. I turned on my side, clutched Grant’s hand, and continued to labor.

I was very surprised at how vocal I was this time around. I moaned through contractions, and found the vocalizations (while they must’ve been annoying) really helped me breathe appropriately through them and keep my composure. I had removed my glasses and was focusing very hard on staying completely relaxed in between contractions (nearly falling asleep between a few of them). Time kind of escaped me here, and combined with not being able to see, I felt somewhat disoriented. So I just kept my eyes closed. Eventually they got strong enough that I felt a need to change positions. I briefly sat on the ball, but before long it was recommended that I go in to the shower. Initially the idea of standing up felt terrible, but I remembered how much the water helped with Layla and jumped in. It took several minutes for the shower to get comfortable, though (once I found myself able to relax) it made all the difference. I focused on tuning out everything else going on externally and just visualized my hips opening up, silently chanting relax… open…. breathe… I concentrated on allowing myself to feel the baby move down. At the peek of each one I reminded myself that I was feeling pressure and not pain, because the contractions had a purpose. I remembered and held in my head on repeat what became my mantra for this labor- “The contractions can not be stronger than you, because the contractions ARE you”. That all REALLY helped me. I fell into a rhythm and instead of fighting the contractions, I really started to go with them. The more I repeated that quote, along with visualizing and making sense of the sensations I was feeling, the more comfortable I got with this very intense labor.

Then, just when I began to feel a rhythm in the shower, my transition to third stage hit me like a ton of bricks…. things got serious, and the shower didn’t seem as comforting. I felt weakness in my hips with every one of them. Soon standing up didn’t seem possible any more. I began to lower myself to the ground and immediately Dinah said “Well that’s a great sign! How about we get that tub ready”. She said something about calling the other midwife, that the bath would take a while to be ready, and offered for me to lay on the bed while she worked. I knew I wouldn’t be able to wait for her…

I could no longer talk myself out of describing the contractions as anything but very painful, and I knew I was very, very close to delivering Jude. My hips felt spread, awkward, and I felt Jude’s head turn inside of me in a very, very low place. I had only just made it to the bed and buried my face in the pillows when my body took over. There was absolutely zero possibility of me controlling my pushing (a terrifying realization as I was very paranoid with the idea of tearing). In my first contraction, Jude was crowning. Dinah realized what was happening and, rather flustered, exclaimed “Oh, well, ok, we’re doing this then!” and shut off the water for the tub (hint, I never made it in…)

One push, he’s crowning. Two push, his head is out. The third push, I delivered my beautiful baby boy. I reached beneath my legs and cradled my son closely to me in a sort of post birth euphoria/confused state. It all happened very, very quickly. I tried to put words to what I felt, but quickly gave up. I was in awe, both of myself and of him. Dinah even made the comment “well, that was fun!” and I asked her, distractedly, “what was?” as if she must’ve been talking about an experience miles away because I had hardly even taken notice that she was a spectator to mine.

And that’s pretty much it. We laid skin to skin with Jude for what seemed like a very long time, examining fingers and toes and trying to decide whose features he developed (we still can’t decide that one). After several minutes, the cord was clamped and Daddy cut it.  Jude was weighed and measured. We diapered him and got him dressed, I took a shower, and soon after we left. It was simple, and beautiful, and absolutely everything I hoped it would be (minus the water birth and Grant being able to “catch” him; delivery happened too fast to allow either).

I loved, LOVED going home so early. Jude was born at 12:25, less than 3 hours after my first painful contraction, and we were home by 3 am. I loved that the room was quiet, very dimly lit, and that I was allowed to labor however was comfortable. Grant was holding my hand the entire time (except when I was in the shower). One of my favorite parts of labor was laying in the bed cuddling with him during some of the most painful moments. It really felt like an intimate moment between the two of us as husband and wife, as opposed some cold medical event. By far it was my favorite delivery even if quite a bit more painful than I remember Layla’s being. And being able to see the look on Grant’s face completely clear headed as he held his son for the first time, and us both snuggling on the bed with him after, was priceless.

I’m at 2.5 weeks out and I feel great. Due to what I am sure is a combination of factors, this is my first postpartum period where I do not feel constantly pressured, overwhelmed, and weepy. Breastfeeding has been going beautifully, except my usual overproduction issue. I have learned my tricks for it though, and it has aided in me having 200+ oz of breastmilk in my freezer already for my return to work. Grant has been so incredibly supportive and having him home a full week after Jude’s birth was tremendous. My parents were sweet enough to stay a few days when we discovered Layla had hand, foot, and mouth disease (yeah, the day Jude was born she had 102 temp… go figure). I also have to credit my good friend for encapsulating for me at a huge discount. I see a huge difference when I forget a dose and I know I have benefited mood wise from taking them regularly. As a person who has struggled in the past with postpartum depression, the value I place on how I feel right now in comparison is priceless really… My biggest gripe is how I look, as silly as that sounds. I am the heaviest I have ever been not pregnant and it is doing a lot to me mentally in my weaker moments. However, I’ve had 3 beautiful children. I was also heavier at the start of my pregnancy with Jude than I was with my other 2 kids. I know I need to be patient, it’s just hard when I was already unhappy with my weight before the pregnancy began… baby steps :-).

mobyHere is a picture that pretty much sums up how my maternity leave is going…. Jude is a beautiful but gassy little thing, so I’ve definitely gotten my use out of the Moby so far. The house is a disaster, but I keep trying to remind myself that stressing myself out about things like that is part of what made my postpartum experience with my other 2 children so rough…. I’m supposed to be focusing on nursing my baby, taking care of my other 2 babies, and resting. So I’m just going to do that. I’m not a super mom, I don’t need to be a super mom, I’m just Mom. And that is totally okay 🙂

corwinjude laylajude

Hello there!

Life has been a jumbled busy mess of “WTF” lately, but mostly in a good way :).

At this point in time I am 29 weeks pregnant with baby Jude, Layla is just over a month away from her 3rd birthday, and Corwin is finishing up 2nd grade. Grant is back in the workforce training as a GM at Jamba Juice. I’M SO JEALOUS. What I wouldn’t give to be around fruit and veggies all day… I’m becoming increasingly more irritated with the lack of healthy options at my present company, but what can ya do? I’ve taken to packing my lunch or just biting the bullet and ordering food from surrounding restaurants… not free, but WAY better for you.

This pregnancy has been a very different experience from the first two. Other than being married, I’m also feeling much calmer and (dare I say?) health conscious-ish. I’m no expert by any stretch, but I have definitely been trying to stay healthy this time around. I also feel far more “centered”. Perhaps it’s because it’s my third, or the stability of our relationship, or just that I’m taking better care of myself, but I feel very “at peace” lately. I complain about my preggo body at times but over all I feel less insecure. I have a confidence this time around that I haven’t ever felt before, not just pregnancy related…. maybe I’m finally growing up? But let’s not hold our breath ;-). Other than quite a bit of pelvic issues (third pregnancy), I’m not doing too bad at all. Energy level is good. Stretching more recently to help out the hip issues and waiting for our new insurance to kick in so I can start seeing a chiropractor. Weight gain is right at about 25 lbs, so not too shabby at all. I feel like I’m carrying this baby much like I did Corwin…. weight gain is pretty much entirely boobs and belly, whereas with Layla I looked like I swallowed a whale.

A typical day involves waking up at 6(ish) to get the kids up and ready for school/day care. Mornings are slightly rushed, but I wouldn’t have it any other way… I love squeezing in 10-15 minutes of cuddles with the kids as they lazily open their eyes. Then it’s lunch packing, cramming some breakfast down Corwin’s throat, and dropping them off at their respective places. Layla has started at a wonderful home daycare, and has even made her first non-male friend (she’s surrounded by boys). Corwin goes to school, and I start my day at work (usually about an hour early, but I like the extra time). The restaurant is business as usual…. at times stressful, understaffed, but doable. Grant picks up the kids after he gets off work and somehow manages the hectic rush of getting Corwin from Ken’s to martial arts right after getting Layla, coming home, and getting dinner started by the time I get off at 6 (he’s a gem). Then we do dinner as a family, goof around for about an hour, and it’s the mad rush of baths, tooth brushing, rushed tucking in, just to repeat it the next day…. Some days it’s exhausting, but it’s routine, and I’ve learned to really love that. Life has finally settled into a manageable rhythm. I’m very interested to see how Jude coming into the picture will just throw a wrench in it all in just 2 and a half months 🙂

My heart wears a little heavy at the thought of my maternity leave… the original plan was always that once Grant and I had our third child, I would stay home with the kids. But when I began to process that, I realized how little I felt ready to leave my job… I had worked so hard to get where I am after all, and it seemed kind of like a waste to just leave it. But once I really weighed the pros and cons and decided I wanted to focus on being a mother to my kids, the finances just never seemed in place…. so it’s looking like I will be going back to work, but I’m not exactly thrilled about it. I like my job but I just didn’t ever picture myself raising 3 kids with daycare as a crutch. Not to mention, daycare is going to take a full paycheck every month. So it’s hard to come away from it without thinking “GEEEEZ what’s the point?!” Unfortunately there’s nothing that can be done about it at this time. Maybe some day we will be in a better standing, that way I wont have to depend on strangers to raise my children (which is the hardest pill to swallow).

I suppose that’s all there really is the update on. I have a wonderful relationship with my son’s paternal side of the family. Layla’s father is…. doing what he’s always done, let’s put it that way. It’s difficult to pull yourself away from booze and young, naive bar sluts apparently 🙂 That’s what ended it all in the first place I guess… But it is a little frustrating to show up and wait for hours in a court room for a perpetual man child that’ll never accept ownership for his failures or responsibility for anything, least of all the ONLY thing in his life worth a damn (his beautiful daughter). But once again, I digress. For sure his loss… sobriety was my only request. And she’s a fantastic little girl.

I suppose that’s all I have for now. I can’t wait to meet my son! We are all very excited… Layla regularly kisses my belly and says “Hi baby Jude!” Corwin is excited to have a baby brother. Of course, Grant is thrilled to become a dad….. he’s making a fantastic step one 😉

I really can’t sing that guys praises enough… I don’t just love him either, I love the person that he brings out in me. I’m…. HAPPY. Genuinely happy. He radiates positive energy. He’s an amazing partner… I love that word for him, “partner”. He’s not “hubby”, “sweetie”, “babe”, etc…. he’s my true other half. I love how we tackle everything we do as a team. We’ve had so many stresses in our relatively short but intense relationship, but rather than it causing tension in our relationship, more often than not we just look to each other to come up with solutions. I can say that for the first time about a relationship of mine with honesty…. we really HELP each other. It’s an almost alien-like feeling, but I’m getting used to it more and more every day for sure ;). I love the life we share. I can’t wait to meet our son because if he’s anything like his father, he’s going to make a remarkable human being.

Have you ever noticed that pregnancies seem to happen all at once among a group of friends? The kind of patterns that make you question if there is any validity in the statement “she must’ve drank the water!” (and simultaneously prompt you to wonder where that water is so you can avoid it at all costs…) I can count 6 women off the top of my head that are either friends or I work with that are all due/have had babies this year. It is CRAZY.

WELP include me in the water gulpers club! 🙂

sono

That’s right! I’m sitting right at 20 weeks. I have survived the most emotional first trimester I have had yet (and hopefully my last at this point). Right now, I am feeling fantastic. My energy level is awesome, I have my appetite back (and then some), and I am probably handling this pregnancy healthier than my last two combined. I am eating very, very well and am sitting at a modest weight gain of 10 lbs (not too shabby for being at the half way point!). My support this pregnancy has been AMAZING… my gorgeous and wonderful husband has done an unbelievable job of making me feel safe and comfortable this time around. It has become more apparent with this pregnancy than either of the other ones (as I didn’t have nearly the same amount of support) just how important being around POSITIVE PEOPLE is. I have had some minor insecurities, especially in the beginning (related to being cheated on weeks after my daughters birth by my oh-so-charming ex-asshole), and Grant has been so exceptionally patient in helping me cope with the reality that this time is different. I can’t express my gratitude towards him. I am 20 weeks pregnant and am getting my basketball belly, but in many ways I have never felt more loved, appreciated, and beautiful. He should give a class on “how to treat your pregnant spouse”. I’m such a lucky lady 😉

Well, although there are MANY things different this time around (financial support, being married, handling things as a team, and a want to be involved by the other person), some things haven’t changed…. like my hatred of maternity care at modern hospitals and my love of doing things differently. I have had a traditional pitocin-induced, epidural-created nightmare of a birth and a much gentler, Bradley educated natural hospital birth (read about those experiences here). Between the two obviously I loved the Bradley birth for reasons you can read about in the linked post. However, even though I labored at home and arrived at the hospital at 9 cm, I still couldn’t stand hospital procedures. For starters:

  1. Making me wait for 30 minutes at registration to answer questions that had already been answered when I PREGISTERED ONLINE during active labor. Nope, not kidding. I could barely talk.
  2. CONSTANT interruptions during “recovery” by the hospital staff. “We need to check the baby for this, the pediatrician needs to check on something, oh you guys were already asleep? Well I wanted to see if you wanted us to take the baby for a while so you could get some rest..” Seriously! If I need you, I’ll ask for you. At one point I had just gotten Layla to sleep after cluster feeding for TWO HOURS in the middle of the night, I was exhausted, and sore, and right when I got her to sleep the FREAKING NURSE popped in unannounced to take her for a “check”. I was livid!
  3. Attempting to persuade me to allow my daughter to take a bottle of formula to get more rest, though her chart clearly said “BREASTFED BABY”, and the whole reason I was tired was because of the nurses in the first place!

I really could go on and on but what’s the point… you get the drift. I understand they are just following their routine and making sure everything is ok, but I highly doubt Layla or me would die if they gave me or Layla more than an hour of sleep at a time rather than waking us up to “check” on us every time they got bored. How the hell are you supposed to heal when the staff wont let you sleep?!

We thought initially we would just switch up my OBGYN (who was awesome, I just hated the hospital he delivered at), but through sheer luck I got a great recommendation for a birth center that was covered by my insurance. It’s called Lover’s Lane Birth Center, and so far, I am SO excited with our choice! On top of being highly recommended and Dinah, our midwife, just being so COOL, her back up OBGYN (because shit happens) is the same OBGYN I had with the first two.

So here is some info that guided my decision: C-Section rates, complications of typically administered drugs that augment labor, and the trust that my body was designed by nature for this process. For starters, the doctor is just there to catch the baby and handle any complications. Let it be known that ACTUAL complications (complications not caused by pitocin, the epidural, other painkillers, etc) are FAR less common than what you would be led to believe by most mothers who have had “typical” hospital deliveries (I count Corwin’s birth in this category). Let’s look at commonly administered drugs and their side affects:

Pitocin: Oh my absolute favorite. Could you tell that was sarcastic? I hope so…. I love calling pitocin the devil drug of modern medicine. It was preached to me, after not contracting 4 hours after my water broke, as a drug that would only aid in the natural progression of my labor. It would cause me to get stronger contractions. Let me tell you… this is the biggest lie I was told my entire labor with Corwin, also the most damaging to my birth plan, and the most painful. I know from having experienced both pitocin contractions and true labor contractions that pitocin contractions are NOTHING LIKE real labor. You see the women screaming during labor on TV and threatening to kill people? Those are pitocin contractions. Common side affects of pitocin are:

  • fast, slow, or uneven heart rate;
  • excessive bleeding long after childbirth;
  • headache, confusion, slurred speech, hallucinations, severe vomiting, severe weakness, muscle cramps, loss of coordination, feeling unsteady, seizure (convulsions), fainting, shallow breathing or breathing that stops; or
  • dangerously high blood pressure (severe headache, blurred vision, buzzing in your ears, anxiety, confusion, chest pain, shortness of breath, uneven heartbeats, seizure).

Less serious side effects may include:

  • nausea, vomiting;
  • runny nose, sinus pain or irritation;
  • memory problems; or
  • more intense or more frequent contractions (this is an expected effect of oxytocin).

This list is admittedly incomplete. But are you warned of this before they administer the drug? No. Why? Because the hospital just wants you to have that baby as fast as possible- it makes THEIR job easier. And if you have the more severe reactions (high blood pressure, etc) how do they combat it? Rush you in for an emergency c-section. Which only perpetuates the fear amongst Americans of birth to begin with, which is what causes this cycle of just accepting medications from hospitals regardless of whether or not knowledge of the side affects have been not only expressed but fully understood by the mother to be. It’s a sick, twisted cycle. I know with Corwin it affected his heart rate negatively, my blood pressure, and I had horrible headaches and body aches (MUCH worse than the beginning stages of labor with Layla) all by giving me a drug before there was ANY medical need for it. I am looking and can’t find the link, but I believe my childbirth educator said up to 48 hours can be considered a reasonable amount of time after water breaking to expect labor to start. Hospitals put you on a timeline of 24 hours from the time your water broke (not from the time of admitting you) because they fear the slight increase of infection (in short, to save their asses). Now of course, some women need to be induced… if you are 2 weeks past your due date, obviously the baby needs to come out. But a) your due date is an estimate, and is often wrong and b) I don’t know about you, but me “being tired” just doesn’t seem like a reasonable excuse to put so much stress on my body and my baby (I say that at the risk of sounding judgy, that’s just my personal opinion). If induction is necessary (and some times it surely is!) just a personal tidbit of advice- look into alternatives. Pitocin is really, really awful in my experience.

Epidural: Most women don’t even question it, but there’s a FEW reasons why you may consider postponing or even foregoing the epidural. Common side affects include high blood pressure, depressed heart rate in the baby, difficulty breathing, fever, among others (wait… aren’t these all reasons they give for you to need an emergency c-section too? HMMMMMM). It can also give you one hell of a migraine… I experienced the migraine, only numbing one half of my body, Corwins heart rate dropped, and high blood pressure. They did threaten me with a c-section. I had no idea any of these were possible complications before accepting the epidural. Other obvious side affects include you being confined to the bed (which will DRAMATICALLY slow down your labor, again increasing your risk of c section) and you not being allowed to eat (because it’s anesthesia). Labor is hard work, your labor already gets slowed down, and now you need to wait even longer until you can give your body nourishment to complete/recover from the process? No thanks. It also affects your ability to push effectively since you can’t feel the muscles, increasing your risks of tearing or being told you need an episiotomy (neither of which are pleasant, and prolong your recovery time).

Narcotics: Also got a nice dose of this in order to avoid the epidural. My biggest bitch about narcotics during labor is both drowsiness in mom and drowsiness in baby. After getting my first dose, I was falling asleep inbetween the nightmare pitocin contractions and waking up to the next one, with absolutely no ability to prepare. That’s why I call it a nightmare. It is like waking up to feel your body being ripped apart. Also, obviously everything that happens to you happens to baby. So baby is getting the drugs, which may cause significant problems from the onset of breastfeeding (definitely my case). Latch issues, poor suckling, etc I experienced personally and attribute at least partly to the pain medication I received during labor.

There are, of course, many more drugs and procedures that are “routine” in hospitals that I have some issues with (artificial rupture of membranes, IV’s, unecessary episiotomies, constant monitoring, etc), but these are the 3 main ones that seem to incorporate all the negative side of affects of the others combined. I’m by no means saying they are not at all necessary, but making them ROUTINE, especially without adequately educating the patient, is just plain immoral to me.

One last thing- The nurses/hospital are the ones that guide you through labor. Not your doctor. Your doctor may be wonderful, but if the hospital staff is not on the same page as you it is a recipe for disaster and an unwanted outcome. The doctor is really just there to catch the baby. It’s one of the reasons I wanted a midwife. The midwife is with you during most or all of your active labor, helping both you and your partner through the process while at the same time maintaining a respectful distance. Being pregnant isn’t a disease, and having a baby isn’t some unnatural medical procedure- so why would you go to a place where sick people go to complete the process? You aren’t sick. Having a baby is something your body was MADE for. Of course complications happen, but if 35-40% of people really needed c-sections there’s no way the human race would’ve survived to take over the world as it has now. BTW, that c-section rate is not pulled out of my butt- Medical Center of Plano has a c-section rate in that range and you can call them yourself to ask. Natural birth is NOT for everyone, my only wish is that mothers to be are able to make INFORMED decisions about their care and unfortunately, that doesn’t happen often.

So there’s my rant :-). Life is good, I am SO excited to be having my baby at Lover’s Lane Birth Center, SO excited to have the relentless support of my husband, and life is just over all fantastic right now :-). Kudos to you for making it this far through my ramblings, and I wish you a positive and peaceful day!

[Edit] I feel the need to clarify… of course c-sections at times are necesary. I don’t dispute that at all, c-sections have DEFINITELY saved MANY lives. And some times even natural labor doesn’t go as planned… mother doesn’t dilate, baby doesn’t drop, baby gets stuck, etc. C-sections can be VERY necessary… I’m just of the opinion they usually aren’t AS necessary, or wouldn’t be, if we let the body do what it was supposed to do. Hope I didn’t offend!

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