Friday, July 31, 2009

Like mother, like daughter?

Since she was an hour old, people have been comparing my Peanut to her daddy. If you could see his baby pictures, you would know why.

My mom uncovered a couple baby pictures of me this week that I actually think may cause some people to reconsider.

Am I right?

I'm throwing this one in just for good measure. How much do you love that droopy, saggy cloth diaper?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Shoe sale!

Quick post here...

Remember these shoes that I was raving about awhile back?

Well, I just have to share that Vincent Shoes is having a huge 75% summer sale. And, get this - from now until the end of the month, Vincent is offering a sale code to get an ADDITIONAL 15% off. In case you stink at math, I'll help you out - that's 90% off! Just use the code SUMSALE15 at checkout.

I no longer have an excuse not to snap up these adorable frog rain boots.

VINCENT Summer Sale

You're welcome.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Cloth diapers: All about wool

For the first time ever, I'm participating in a blog carnival. A cloth diaper blog carnival. Yup, I'm talking about diapers again. This carnival is being hosted by Kim from Dirty Diaper Laundry and some of my favorite cloth diapering moms are participating. So you should totally check out their posts - they'll be listed at the end of this post.

17 months ago, when I first started cloth diapering, I had a very basic knowledge of diapers. I knew just enough to get by. It would be impossible for me to try to list everything I've learned in the past year and 5 months, so I'm just going to talk about one particular topic that I'm still learning about.

Most people (including me) have never given a thought to what mothers used to cover their babies diapers before in the invention of plastic covers. Those pioneer woman had to have a way to control wet nappies, right? The solution? Wool.

Wool is extremely absorbent. It can hold a ton (well, not really a ton, but you know) of liquid. Additionally, wool contains a natural lanolin, which makes it fairly waterproof. For use as a diaper cover, wool can be lanolized to be practically bulletproof to leaks.

Because it's a natural fiber, it's extremely breathable which means it's actually cooler for your baby than a plastic cover. To sweeten the deal even more, get this: You don't have to wash a wool cover after each use.

What? Won't it get all stinky and nasty? Isn't that unsanitary?

Actually, the lanolin that natural exists in wool is also anti-bacterial. No bacteria means - no smell. You will need to hand wash your wool occasionally, and obviously if your sweet child gets some not-so-sweet poo on them, but otherwise they only need a few hours to air out between uses.

After learning all this, I decided I wanted to give wool a try. I'm a decent crocheter, so I worked up a pair of shorts for Peanut to wear over her fitted diapers.

I used a pair of the Peanut child's regular shorts as a size model and just kind of made up the pattern as I went. I lanolized them using a leftover bottle of Lansinoh (t's 100% lanolin!) by dissolving a pea sized amount in hot, hot water and then added that and the shorts to a sink full of tepid water. Soaked them for about 10 minutes, rolled out the excess moisture with a towel and then laid them flat to dry.

So. Anyway. I pretty much love them. We tried them out this afternoon for the first time and I was so impressed with the absorbancy. Peanut adores them and threw a fit when I took them off her. I'll definitely be picking up some more wool yarn this week. I can't wait to try a pair of longies for the fall and winter months! I'm sad that I didn't discover wool before Peanut was born. She was a February baby and I'm just imagining all the adorable teeny, tiny, newborn pants I could have made her!

Over the weekend, I was talking to my sister about cloth diapering and explaining to her how wool works. She was understandable skeptical - especially when I mentioned the part about not washing in between wearing. I felt the need to defend myself.

Me: "You know, I'm just mildly obessesed with cloth diapering if you compare me to some other cloth diapering moms. They are just crazy about diapers."

Sister: "You mean, crazier than crocheting a pair of wool shorts in the middle of July?"

Well, folks - she may have a point. I may be a wee bit obsessed with my diapers.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Roasted garlic hummus

Aside from green beans and guacomole, there are few things that the Peanut and I enjoy more than hummus. I just recently discovered that you can make black bean hummus by substituing the chickpeas beans. Oh, it is SO yum!

Roasted Garlic Hummus

1 head of garlic

2 cans chickpeas or black beans

Juice from 1 lemon

1 TBSP. Tahini (sesame paste)

2 TBSP. Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

To roast your garlic - chop off the top of the head, coat with olive oil and wrap in tin foil. Bake at 400 degrees for about an hour. Your house is going to smell soooo good. Promise. When it's done, it will look something like this:

After it has cooled, squeeze the soft garlic out of the head directly into your food processor. Toss in the rest of the ingredients.

You will need some of the liquid from the canned chickpeas, but probably not all of it. If you do dump all the juice in, it will be too thin and you'll have to add more chickpeas. Then you'll end up with enough hummus to feed a not-so-small army. Trust me. So, start out with just a couple ounces and add more as needed. Blend until smooth.

Peanut and I are enjoying a lazy summer Saturday afternoon and for lunch we just devoured this roasted garlic black bean hummus slathered on pita bread. Perfection!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Freezing fresh green beans

Peanut and I L-O-V-E us some fresh green beans. We eat 'em raw, we eat 'em steamed...we really aren't too picky.

Even though we don't have a garden this year, we've been incredibly blessed with fresh produce from family and friends who do. Since I had all these green beans sitting on my counter,

I figured I'd better freeze some. Turns out properly freezing vegtables isn't all that hard.

First, rinse your beans and drain. Chop off all the ends and cut them into whatever size you'd like.

This may take awhile, so it might not be a bad idea to occupy your toddler on the back porch with a bucket of soapy water and a spoon.

Boil a large pot of water and throw the beans in when the water is at a nice rolling boil.

Time them for 3 minutes exactly.

In the meantime, refill the bowl of water and soap for your now soaking wet toddler fill a large pot or bucket with ice water.

Drain the beans after the 3 minutes has expired and immediately submerge them in the ice water. (You may have to add some ice!)

Let them sit in the ice water for 3 minutes. Drain and place on a towel to pat dry.

For our little family, I used quart sized freezer bags to store them. Throw them in the freezer and they're good for a year!

Yay for fresh green beans!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Fuzzibunz diaper review and giveaway - 7/30

And the winner is....commenter #1, Slee! Congrats! I'll be mailing out your diapers soon.


One of the very first pocket diapers that I put on my little tiny baby girl was a red XS FuzziBunz. It was one of my favorites! I was recently given the opportunity to try the new and updated version of the FuzziBunz perfect fit diaper. It was no surprise that I love this diaper just as much now as I did then.

Peanut was rockin' her bubblegum FuzziBunz yesterday afternoon and I was very impressed with the absorbency of the microterry insert. I have no doubt that this diaper is going to make a great addition to our overnight diaper collection.

My cloth diaper stash is currently split about 50/50 between diapers fastened with velcro and those fastened with snaps. For a crafty toddler, the snaps are definitely my friend lately. Another reason to love FuzziBunz! The snaps are super easy to get the hang of and allow each size to be generous on the weight limits. At 18 lbs, Peanut still has plenty of room in her size Medium.

Buy one: Head on over to the FuzziBunz Store and check out what they have to offer. In addition to the popular perfect fit diapers, they just recently started production of the one size diaper, designed to fit your baby from 7-35 lbs. At just $17.95 including the insert, these diapers are about the best value you will find in cloth diapers.

Win one: The great folks over at FuzziBunz sent me a lovely lavender perfect fit diaper in size large. It's just sitting on my counter, waiting for a home! Want to win it? Thought so!

To enter: Visit the FuzziBunz website and post a comment telling me what your favorite feature of the perfect fit diaper is. Is it the great colors? The snap system? This entry is mandatory and must be made for additional entries to be considered.

For additional entries:

(1) Become a follower of this blog and then leave a comment.
(2) Become a subscriber and then leave a comment.
(3) Follow me on twitter and tweet about this giveaway (make sure you come back and leave a comment with your tweet link!).
(4) You can tweet about this giveaway once daily - just be sure to come back here and leave another comment letting me know that you did!
(5) Blog about this giveaway and then leave me a comment with the URL.

I will be reviewing each entry, so make sure you follow the rules!

I will close the comments on this post at midnight on July 30th and announce the winner sometime the following day.

Happy Entering!

"Not my child!" Monday

This week, in a twist on her weekly blog carnival, Not Me! Monday, Mckmama is hosting Not my child! Monday. At the tender young age of 17 months, you would think that I would struggle to come up with material for this challenge. Not so, my friends! Read on...

Yesterday at church, in typical fashion, I had forgotten to apply my mascara before walking in the door. So I scurried into the ladies room with Peanut, set her down and proceeded to preen in front of the mirror. Being the perfect little angel that she is, she did not immediately run to an empty stall and begin splashing in an open toilet. Not my child!

After I'd cleaned her up after that didn't happen, I set her down again. She did not promptly run to the only occupied stall, stick her entire head under the door and say "Hi!" Nope, not my child!

Last week (while I was not blogging in our bedroom!) Peanut did not invade our master bathroom, procure a full box of tampons and tear open each and every one of them. Nope, not my child!

A couple days ago, I did not find her strategically picking raisins and cracker bits out of the pile of dirt I had just swept up. And she was certainly not eating them! Nope, not my child!

What has your child not done lately? I'd love to hear!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Future cat lady

Yesterday morning I had a moment of panic when I couldn't find Peanut.

I could hear her making little cooing and kissing noises, like she does to her baby doll. I followed the sound and found her under our kitchen table giving our cat, Casper, some love.

Remember these photos? I think I may have a future cat lady on my hands.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Virginia's Birth Story: Part Two

Click here to read "part one" of Mary's story

by Mary Kury

Two weeks later my entire family, sisters included, were in town. It was the night before Father's Day and everyone was eating hamburgers and hot dogs and talking about the trip to North Carolina planned for the next morning after church. I could only eat about half my hamburger, and was too tired to join in on the festivities, so Todd and I went home. I felt different. I was only 38 weeks a few days, but I knew something was happening. We went to bed.

At 2am I was awoken by a tentative contraction. I had to wait another few minutes to figure out what had just happened and then experienced another one. I got up and went to the bathroom and then returned to bed, not waking Todd, and trying not to get excited. I had learned in my class that too much adrenaline would stall or stop labor completely. I had also learned to sleep when I could. So, I lied back down and fell back asleep. At 4am, another stronger contraction disturbed my slumber. I woke up, again went to the bathroom, and a tree in the backyard caught my attention from the bathroom window. It was brilliantly lit like a Christmas tree, twinkling in the barely perceptible morning dawn... full of fireflies. I had to wake Todd to show him such a beautiful sight. He stirred, looked out the window, said it was nice and fell back asleep. I shook him again, and said, “And Honey? I think I'm in labor. I just wanted to let you know.” He shot straight up out of bed and started sweating. “Really? I mean, really in labor?!?” I told him that I thought so, but that we should conserve our energy and go back to sleep. We did until a little after 8am. I woke up frantically trying to find my camera and after a few moments realized that it was at our old house, which we had not finished packing up, all the way on the opposite side of town. It was a good 25 minute drive there and back, plus the time needed to find it. I asked Todd to go ahead and go, and I would hang out here and deal with the contractions. With a little bit of an argument, he agreed, got in his truck and left. I was alone to absorb the realization that I would most likely have a baby by the day's end.

Todd returned home around 10am, and by then my contractions were following a regular pattern. They were approximately 45 seconds long and about 8 minutes apart. Over the hour, they got longer and stronger, but no closer together. We decided to call Linda and let her know that this was it. We would need her soon. She arrived a little after noon, and her co-midwife, Amy, got there with lunch a little after 1pm. My contractions were much closer together and I was really working with them, concentrating on my breathing and relaxing, and experiencing one of the active labor emotional signs- seriousness. I could no longer speak in complete sentences between contractions, only one word grunts here and there, letting them all know what I needed. I switched into a nightgown and underwear. I walked in between contractions and got into an overstuffed chair on my knees with my head resting on the back of it during the contractions. And finally I decided that I needed to lie down. As soon as I was on my side, the intensity of the discomfort was overwhelming and I was having trouble dealing with it. Linda suggested that I go and sit on the toilet and see if the upright position would help. I did, and it helped tremendously. Over the next three hours, I labored quietly there... sometimes moaning softly with the contraction, sometimes visualizing through it, sometimes fading softly away into a dream-like trance. I leaned into Todd's lap- he had pulled a stool in front of the toilet and he tenderly rubbed my back and shoulders, head and hands. Linda and Amy stayed in the main room of the house and left us to labor on our own, proclaiming that we were “laboring beautifully together.” It gave us confidence to know that we were doing well together, working hard and smoothly toward this new goal.

A new phase of the labor hit as waves upon waves of nausea forced me to lose the entirety of my stomach's contents. I remember Amy taking away the trash can, and then bringing it back. I thought, “Ugh, the smell is going to make me vomit again.” So I prepared myself and went ahead and took a nice, deep breath with my face in the can. I was overwhelmed with the soothing scent of peppermint. Amy has thoughtfully and lovingly put some peppermint oil in it to help with the nausea and it worked. I didn't get sick again. Linda suggested that we move to the shower and I just couldn't bring myself to move. It was too hard and I was so uncomfortable that I couldn't imagine trying to stand up. I wanted to give up. I remember saying, “I can't do this anymore. I just can't!” And Linda kneeled down in front of me and said, “But you are doing it. You're doing wonderfully!” I closed my eyes and was reminded of a story from the Bible. God told Sarah and Abraham that they would have a child- and Sarah laughed because she was 90 years old. Nine months later, Isaac was born. What is nonchalantly skipped over was that Sarah had to give birth to this baby. I told myself, “If Sarah, at 90, could give birth to her baby, I can too. I'm only 28.”

Shortly, the peaks of the contractions turned into little grunts. I hardly even noticed the change, but what I did notice was that all of the sudden Linda and Amy were moving light lightning around my bedroom. I was still on the toilet and looked questioningly at Todd. He just told me that I was doing great. And with the next contraction, I said, “I think I feel like I need to push.” Linda told me to listen to my body and do what it was telling me to do. I pushed a little, but then backed off because of an intense pain somewhere in the depths of my body. Linda checked me and explained that I had a cervical lip, a little bit of cervix had not dilated. We moved to the bed and she and Amy and Todd helped me to perform a “rotisserie”. I layed on my right side for two contractions, then got on all fours for two, then went to my left side for two, and finally on my back for two. It took about thirty minutes and each contraction was telling me to push, but instead I breathed through them. Those working together helped resolve the lip and I was cleared to push.

They brought out the birth stool and placed blue and white chux pads on it and underneath. I squatted down on the stool and was relieved to finally push confidently. Each contraction felt as if I needed to have a bowel movement, but I remembered from class that it was only the Ferguson Reflex, and I would probably not actually go to the bathroom then. I remember as Linda sat on the floor in front of me, and said, “Your bag of water is still intact and is bulging. Do you mind if I shield myself in the event that it breaks?” I told her that I didn't mind and she covered herself with a pad just in time to prevent herself from being soaked in amniotic fluid. With the next push the baby's head was visible. “Reach down at feel your baby's head.” Expecting to feel more, I was mildly disappointed to have to spread my labia in order to touch the baby's head. But it gave me a renewed drive. I was actually pushing out a baby!! Two more pushes resulted in the baby's head crowning. I was prepared for the burning and tingling sensation and took a few deep breaths to allow my perineum to stretch instead of tear. And then, remembering what my Bradley teacher had told me, I finally pushed through the pain, and birthed my daughter's head. With the next contraction, her body separated from mine and I was holding this new person that I had grown with vigilance inside me for nine months. I was overwhelmed with love for this tiny child whose name we had not decided upon. I just called her “Baby.” And for the next few hours I cooed to her as I nursed her, still not believing that she was mine... all mine. At the end of this experience I found that I had a new understanding of my relationship with my Heavenly Father. I knew how much I loved this baby- something that I had never experienced before, and I knew that He loved me more. Finally, an honest understanding of grace and mercy!! It was truly a magnificent day. And what a Happy Father's Day it was!

Molly's Note: That was worth waiting for, don't you think? If you haven't already, make sure you check out Mary's Website and Blog, Upstate Natural Birth. Thanks for sharing your story with us, Mary!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cleanin' house

I don't like housework. Actually, I hate housework. You could even say that I hate housework with a passion usually reserved for mice and other rodents (and that's really saying something, because I flippin' hate mice).

Okay, so you get the idea.

The thing is, when you hate doing something that much, you sometimes tend to not do it. Which can lead to a messy, dirty house. It bothers me, yes, but not enough to get my rear in gear and start cleaning. It's a conundrum, I tell you.

There are three things that I've found that actually help me keep my house relatively clean and tidy in spite of the fact that I'm obviously domestically challenged.

One. Work in 15 minute blocks. It totally depresses me to think about spending hours on end doing laundry, tidying the living room or mopping the floors. So I walk into a room, literally set a timer, and work as hard as I can for 15 minutes in that room. I'm telling you, you can get a lot accomplished in 15 minutes! I reason with myself before I get started too. "Spend 15 minutes tackling that mountain of laundry and then you can make yourself a cup of coffee." It totally works. Most of the time, I end up going over my 15 minutes or moving to the next room and resetting the timer. It helps me to focus on one room and one task at a time, it's too overwhelming to think of everything that must get done.

Two. Clean up messes as you make them. I'm still working on this one, but it's a good habit to get into. I love to cook and bake, but I'm notorious for leaving the dinner dishes, and the mess from the creation of dinner, until the next morning late at night to clean up. Another reason that I'm trying to implement this one is that I really want to send a message to my daughter that we take care of our things. It's okay to play and make a big mess, but when we are done, we take the time to put everything back in it's place.

Three. Invite people over. Nothing, and I mean nothing, motivates me to really clean my house like the knowledge that people will soon be invading my home and inspecting my housekeeping abilities. So I invite them over. Knowing that my house is unkept. Because I know that once the invitation is accepted, I'll move heaven and earth to get my house in order. And we all know that there is a difference between "clean" and "company clean".

I'm sure there are at least three or four people who are laughing right now at the absurdity of me writing a post with housekeeping tips. Go ahead, have a good laugh. I'm the first to admit that if you show up at my house unannounced, there is a good chance I won't let you in the door. But I think it's important that we acknowledge and accept our weaknesses and then work towards improving them.

So let's talk housework, shall we? What's your #1 housekeeping tip?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Spinach sandwich

More specifically - baby spinach, onion, cheese and roasted garlic hummus sandwich. But a spinach sandwich has more of a ring to it, dontcha think?

This is super easy!

Spread some hummus on your bread - any 'ole kind will do, but I used roasted garlic - slap on a big handful of baby spinach, some sliced onions (I sauted mine for a bit, but raw would be great too!), and top it off with some freshly grated cheddar cheese.

I can not even explain to you how delicious this is. It's like, really good.

In honor of the Body After Baby Challenge, which Samantha over at Mama Notes is sponsoring, you'll be seeing a whole lot more healthy recipes and food ideas over here.

...and I'm really into creative sandwiches right now, so brace yourself.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Virginia's Birth Story: Part One

by Mary Kury

When I was seven years old someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. “A surgeon,” was my response. Asked what a surgeon does I replied, “They surge on people.” Fast forward three years. “Mary, what do you want to be when you grow up?” And my now firm reply was, “I want to be a mommy,” though my resolve was shaken a little when my mother explained to me precisely how that baby would get into my belly. Too much information, Mom, too much information.

At the age of 27, I was married to the man of my dreams... and apparently of other women's dreams as well. Turns out a huge majority of women are attracted to hard working, blue collar workers- and my husband is definitely one of those. He's a tree surgeon, or arborist to be exact... and he spends his days outside working on maintaining and improving the urban forest. He's strong, and muscular, and rugged, and well... he's HOT. So, it was no surprise to anyone that after three months of marriage (and nine years of birth control) we were pregnant. I'm not so sure that any method of “birth control” works to harness that type of loving. ;)

Well, I was working full time and so was Todd. The position I had been hired for had been recently vacated due to a woman going on maternity leave and never coming back. I was gently instructed by my new boss (and old friend) “not to get pregnant, please” and I assured her that there was no way we were ready any time soon. In fact, we had discussed it before the wedding- we would wait for 3 years, until I turned 30, to try.

In October of 2006, I was on my way back from my new belly dancing class and it dawned on me that my period was 4 days late. Hmm. I called Todd and asked him to go and pick up a pregnancy test, not because I was concerned, but just for fun. In the recent months before the wedding, our company had encouraged everyone to switch from brand name to generic drugs to help save on our health care costs, and being one of the company's accountants, I was happily willing to cut costs wherever I could- and the only drug I was purchasing was my birth control. Turns out that generics can have a 15% margin of error from the brand names... When I got home, I grabbed the pack and saw that it was the grocery store brand. “Todd! It's a generic!! It won't be accurate! If I'm pregnant, it's because we used generic birth control. Why would you get a generic pregnancy test?!?!” He was a little confused and I went to the bathroom. I peed on the stick. And then, according to the directions I would wait for 2 minutes for a second line to appear. Within SECONDS the second line appeared. I stepped out of the bathroom and handed him the stick and said, “We're pregnant. Oh my gosh. We are pregnant. Oh well, there goes our trip to Italy.” He looked at the stick and then snatched the instructions away from me and said, “You didn't do it right.” I said, “You didn't get a brand name pregnancy test!” He took the next twenty minutes to read every single instruction, and then told me how to pee on the stick. I did it again. And it came back positive again. Then we called my best friend and asked her to bring me an EPT. She did... still pregnant. Wow.

I originally wanted to have a birth the “easy” way- elective c-section with a tummy tuck afterwards. But then I started doing research and found out that as flippantly as c-sections are seemingly done, they are in fact major abdominal surgery and women die each year due to complications of that surgery. I found that in the United States we have some of the highest maternal intervention rates in the world and also the highest mother and infant mortality rates of the industrialized nations. It didn't make sense to me. If our intervention rates were increasing, our mortality rates should be decreasing... but they weren't. And that scared me.

A few weeks into my pregnancy I was talking to a coworker who had twins. His wife actually carried both babies to term (past 40 weeks) and went into spontaneous labor (unheard of for twins these days) and had them both vaginally (I hadn't realized that was an option) with, get this, no medication. I asked how she performed such a feat and he said, “We took Bradley Method classes.” I immediately went to the computer and began searching for our nearest Bradley instructor and signed up for her next series of classes. My husband and I attended each class and took meticulous notes. We created a detailed birth plan and then began discussing when we would present it to our OB team.

I am an extremely non-confrontational person, so I was thrilled when I asked my primary OB what he thought about natural childbirth. He said, “I don't see the purpose, but if that's what you want, I'll do what I can.” I asked him how many natural births he had seen. He told me that he didn't know a specific number, but said that it was “less than 5 per cent of his deliveries.” Hmm. Interesting. I made another appointment with my primary for my 32 week check, and this time something was wrong. He wasn't there. Instead, the female OB with whom I had clashed earlier in my pregnancy at the mention of natural childbirth was there. I had my birth plan all drawn up and decided to show it to her. She looked it over and had a few generic “hmmms” and “hrrumps” and then she just stared at me. She looked back down at my plan and took her red pen and sent me straight back to elementary school- systematically marking off all of my goals and telling me that my decisions were against hospital policy and would kill either me or my baby anyway. For example, I had requested intermittent electronic fetal monitoring and the right to walk if I wanted to during labor. She told me that intermittent monitoring was against hospital policy (even though my primary had okayed it) and then said that if I wanted to walk, I could but I would be attached to the monitor which was attached to the wall, and would give me about a 3 foot radius to pace and was therefore pointless and I would just be better off staying in bed. She explained that the shot of pitocin after the baby was born was mandatory because I would either bleed to death or require a blood transfusion. And I HAD to have IV fluids because they wanted me to keep my strength up. I began shedding the first tears of my entire pregnancy and she told me that I looked like I was upset. I just stared at her as she handed me back my plan to sign approval on all the changes she had made. I refused and left, making an appointment to speak with my primary OB the following week.

In the meantime, I went to church and met a girl who had had a home birth. Let me tell you, this girl couldn't have been 120 pounds soaking wet and was over 5'8” with narrow hips and a tiny waist. I looked at her, and then confided to Todd, “If she can push a baby through those hips, I'm positive that these birthing hips will not have a problem at all!” Then I spent an hour asking her questions. I didn't want to have a home birth, but I was becoming more and more convinced that this was the route I would have to take if I wanted to have a normal birth. She sent me the information for her midwife and I made an appointment with Linda Weaver.

As I pulled up to her house, I expected to meet an old woman with long white frizzy hair, wearing enormous spectacles and a long skirt to cover her rotund body. Instead, I met a beautiful (and thin) young woman- somewhere in her late 30s or early 40s, with cute brown hair cut and stylish jeans. Hmmm. I was liking this midwifery idea more and more. She looked like I hoped to look in the next 10 years. I sat down with her and my husband and over the next two and a half hours we covered the 6 typed pages of questions I had written out (92 questions in all), and covered things like “had she ever lost a baby” (No.) and “how do you handle a shoulder dystocia?” (I didn't even know what a shoulder dystocia was...) I wrote down all of her answers and we left to discuss our next course of action.

Then next week or so was spent devouring as much information about the safety and efficacy of homebirth. We read Henci Goer's The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth and Marsden Wagner's Born in the USA- How a Broken Maternity System Must Be Fixed to Put Women and Children First. We read articles like Outcomes of Planned Home Births with Certified Professionals: A Large Prospective Study from 1992 and learned that women who have births in their homes with licensed midwives have the same or better birth outcomes that those who choose obstetric care and the hospital system. After much thought and prayerful consideration our decision was made.

My dad is a medical doctor- a specialist in internal medicine to be exact. And we grew up taking antibiotics every time we had a cough and never wasting time in a doctor's waiting room. We were spoiled by medical society and a little na├»ve of the risks associated with medication in general. Todd and I decided to go ahead and hire Linda as our primary care provider and with that decision we embraced the realization that I would have to somehow tell my father, the patriarch, about having a baby at home. I was utterly terrified. In fact, I waited until after I had spoken with my primary OB one last time. I made an appointment for my Group B Strep test (a fun one, indeed) and then asked him if he had a moment to talk to me. He obliged and I asked him if he could make a promise to me. He just looked at me with a perplexed look on his face, and I asked, “Can you promise that you will be the doctor that delivers my baby... even if you are not the doctor on call?” He shook his head no, and I said, “Okay, well, then I have to tell you something. I'm not going to have this baby at the hospital. I'm going to have her at home.” He asked me why I had made this decision and I told him, “Because Dr. X will bend over backwards to find a reason to induce a mom at 37 weeks, create a medical diagnosis for an elective cesearean, but refuses to leave me alone during my labor. And I'm not okay with the 80% chance that I will get her or one of the other doctors at my birth.” He looked at me in amazement and said, “We have a staff meeting at lunch today. I'll be sure to thank her for losing me a patient. In fact, if you want to be completely honest, this is a business and she just lost me thousands of dollars.” I appreciated his willingness to be honest and then said, “How do we change this system, Dr. P? When can I trust that you will make decisions based on what is best for me and my family instead of your fear of litigation?” He considered this and said that he could not stop being afraid of being sued as long as the statute of limitations for OBs was 18 years- effectively ensuring that he would be sued by a family whose child didn't get into the college of his choice due to the way that he was born. It is all very ludicrous. I left the practice feeling sad, but optimistic. I was 34 weeks... only 6-8 weeks to go!

At 36 weeks I finally found the courage to tell my father that we were anticipating a home birth with two midwives. After I set him up to believe that I had something awful to tell him (ie. We were going to give the baby up for adoption or something along those lines) I dropped the bombshell. “Todd and I have made the decision to have our baby with midwives. At home.” The fork he was holding fell from his fingers and clanked loudly on his plate. He pushed himself away from the table as my mother stared at us, raised himself out of his chair and said, “Just make sure she washes her hands” and left the room. I looked at Todd and then to my mom and said, “I think that went well!”. be continued

Molly's Note: I know, I know! It's horrible that I'm going to make you wait another week for the rest of the story! In the meantime, go check out Mary's Website and Blog, Upstate Natural Birth. Mary is a childbirth educator and mother of two beautiful girls. I truly believe that birth is a journey and I think this is illustrated beautifully in Mary's story. The second half is just as good as the first. Promise.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A perfect day

You know those days when everything seems right in the world? The kind of day when you are stuck in a blissful little moment in time when everything is just about perfect? Yesterday was one of those days.

It was our first beach trip of the year and I we couldn't have asked for more beautiful weather. Peanut woke up and moved to our bed around 5am and then we both slept in until around 8am and lazily woke up and snacked on cold pizza while I got everything together for our beach trip. We packed up the car and took the "back way" to the beach - a scenic 45 minute drive through small towns and farmland. We saw a couple ponies after we made our way over the bridge to the island and Peanut was enthralled to see them so close to our car.

We met up with six of my sisters, my mom, my grandparents and my aunt and uncle in the parking lot and made our way up to the beach and claimed a large portion of sand close to the water.

Peanut's first reaction to the water was just to stare in wonder. Then she really, really got into it. She parked herself right near the water and let the water wash up around her. She was absolutely fearless, running into the waves, throwing and eating sand and generally having a ball.

I tried to narrow it down to just a few photos to share, but I couldn't chose!

First wipe out! Didn't phase her one bit...

Aunt "La-La" was her buddy for the day.

And my favorite image of the day...

After a couple hours of playtime, we took a long walk with Peanut in the sling...

...and she promptly fell asleep!

I think it's safe to say that Peanut loved the beach. What do you think?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Eating healthy on the go

Eating healthy when you are not in your own home can be a challenge. We've been to our fair share of picnics, get-togethers and outings over the last couple weeks and while I normally don't sweat a few cake and ice cream nights in row for myself, I'm not so thrilled to see my pint-sized little toddler with her third cookie of the day firmly in her grasp.

Here are a few tips to successfully keeping your kids (mostly) sugar free when you're not close to your own personal stash of healthy foods:

1. Be realistic. Let's be honest, if our kids are offered the choice between a banana and a lollipop, they'll chose the lollipop every time. So be realistic. If you know there are going to be treats at an event or outing that you don't want your kids to eat, bring a healthy alternative that is also a treat to your kids, like fruit leather or a low-sugar cookie. Don't expect them to joyously accept an apple when all the other kids are sucking on Popsicles.

2. Prepare and plan ahead. This ties right in with my previous point. Prepare foods that can travel and will appeal to your kids in the shadow of candy and ice cream. My sister recently brought a bag of homemade oatmeal raisin cookies with her to a family party. They were low sugar, whole wheat, yummy goodness that had all the kids happily munching. What a brilliant idea! I always try to keep snacky foods in my diaper bag. Raisins, dried fruit, dry Kashi cereal, Wasa crackers, fruit leather, just to name a few. When we were kids, mom always brought Rice Dream with her to family birthday parties so we could still have a treat when everyone else was having ice cream.

3. Bring a healthy contribution. Don't just leave things to chance and hope they'll be something you and your kids can eat - especially if you or your child have food allergies. If you show up unprepared, your kids will eat junk food. Bring something healthy to contribute to a picnic, pot luck or party. Other parents will thank you too!

4. Speak up. It's okay if other people think you are an ogre who won't let your kids have treats. You are the one that's going to have to deal with them when they wake up sick and cranky the next day. Last Sunday Peanut was given treat after treat by well meaning family members...and while I don't normally mind little tastes here and there, they all add up. Think of it this way: For her 18 lb. body, two cookies is the equivalent of about 15 cookies for me. I would probably never eat 15 cookies at a time! Sure enough, she woke up grouchy the next morning with a snotty nose. Next time, I'll be the bad guy who polices everything she puts in her mouth.

5. Give your kids options. For toddlers, this doesn't work so well, but older children can be reasoned with. Growing up, Mom always had very strict dietary guidelines for us. Before we left for a party, she'd let us know exactly how many treats we would be allowed and then let us chose what we'd eat and when we'd eat them. Be specific and be reasonable.

6. Chill out. Do the best you can, but don't let your quest for healthy eating suck the fun out of events. So your kid got three helpings of cake from three different people - certainly not ideal, but no one is going to die from it. On Saturday, I realized that the juice box that Peanut was drinking was not 100% juice (Hello, HFCS!). Normally, that's a huge no-no, but I evaluated the situation and realized that it was going to cause World War III if I attempted to pry it from her little hands. Instead, I opted to ask her for a sip and then attempted to suck down most of the juice before handing it back.

I'd love to hear your tips for staying healthy at parties and get-togethers. What works for you?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Back to Back Births

Molly's note: Another week, another great birth story! This week it's a double treat as Tania shares the "back to back" births of her two beautiful children. Enjoy!

I'm not one of those mother's that knew they wanted children their whole lives.

I grew up in an alternative environment - I knew if I ever did have children I was not having a home birth and about the drugs? Sign me up! So, how did I go from there to having two drug free births? Good question.

As my now husband - then boyfriend - and I got more serious. Wanting a family together became a natural progression and we planned to start trying for a baby soon after our wedding. During our engagement I researched OBGYN's carefully - knowing that this would be the doctor who would one day deliver our baby.

We were very fortunate - 6 months after our wedding we conceived. I waited 8 weeks until my doctor would see me - not believing the wouldn't see me right away to confirm the pregnancy - they wanted to wait 12 weeks!

My sofa and I developed a close bond during the first few months and much of my pregnancy. Sometimes my husband would to to work and come home to find me in the same spot. Flat on the sofa.

A few months in I was ready to think about the inevitable. This thing growing inside of me was going to come out. It was time to figure out how. Being a research junkie - I set to work.

My mother had delivered my two sisters and I drug free - I thought she was crazy. Yet, as a medical massage therapist I had heard her tell countless stories of mom's suffering from chronic low back pain following their epidural. Low back pain didn't sound good - and drug free was optimum for the baby. I decided to give it a try. I figured I was delivering in a hospital - so if I needed the drugs - I'd only need to ask.

I was supported throughout my pregnancy by one of my best friends, Eden, who - lucky for me - was a birthing doula. She was such an amazing resource for me.

I ultimately decided I was going to try hypnobirthing and found a local instructor - Alisha Tamburri.

Her Hypnobirthing class is more than just a class on hypnosis, it's a full birthing class and all I needed to prepare for the actual delivery. It was amazingly empowering and full of information that enabled me to take charge of our birth. Hubby went to class with me once, I didn't feel the need to torture him - knowing that he would be bored silly. One of my motto's for a happy marriage - don't push your husband into things he just isn't into - everyone will end up miserable.

It was in my birthing class that I started to realize I was not with the right doctor, or more accurately the large group practice that she was a part of wasn't right for me. It meant the odds of my doctor actually attending my birth were pretty low. I had also had incidents of phone calls not being returned and messages that never made it to the doctor. Nothing that was urgent - I was not a high maintenance patient - but it was still time to make a switch.

I was 6 months pregnant - looking for a new OBGYN. This time I had real help.

Tania's Tip - If you are pregnant and want a natural birth, don't ask your friends if they liked their doctor. Most women who have given birth will say they loved their doctor and they were the best. Instead ask an expert in natural childbirth - they will steer you to practices that really support natural childbirth and have higher rates of success.

So I turned to Alisha for her advice. She repeatedly recommended Debbie Franks. The trouble was, Debbie was a Certified Nurse Midwife and I needed a Doctor. She did work with two Doctors, but the trouble was they were both male - I needed a female doctor. I knew I didn't want a midwife - my mother had a midwife and I wasn't planning on following in her footsteps.

In hindsight I was also very misinformed as to what a midwife was and how much training they are required to have. Knowing what I know today I would urge any woman having a normal pregnancy to consider a CNM. The degree of personal care you receive is amazing.

Somehow, I decide to meet with Debbie. I left our meeting trying to figure out how I was going to talk my husband into allowing a CNM to deliver our baby. He flipped - why would we have a "witch doctor" when we could have a real doctor.

Never mind her 20 years experience, Yale Degree, ability to prescribe medication, hospital privileges, and to top it all off, if I went into labor in the middle of the night she would come to our home.

Fortunately - his mother was visiting and she told him that I was the one who had to deliver the baby - I should have whomever I wanted. He reluctantly gave in - but to this day still calls her the witch doctor! Thank you MIL!

The pregnancy continued along, nausea, dizziness, an unplanned move and renovation. Days after having the same hardwood floors refinished for the second time (longer story) with no ceiling in my kitchen I went into labor.

My mother was visiting - we were on baby watch. My water broke just before midnight. I had been in to the doctors office the week prior with braxton hicks contractions... so I figured it could very easily be nothing - I wanted to wait and see.

My mom talked me into having a bath and was timing my contractions. By the time I finished my bath they were 4-5 minutes apart. I called Debbie & Eden and started getting things together. Then I figured I should wake my husband before he woke up to a houseful of women and a laboring wife.

I also began to listen to my hypnobirthing CD on my ipod. It was around 2AM. There was a few problems. I couldn't figure out how to make my ipod work, my husband was stomping around and people kept coming to my front door. Debbie arrived and checked my progress I was around 4 cm dilated and 90% effaced. I never really felt like I made it to a relaxed state of mind. I paced around my living room trying to get comfortable and listen to the ipod. Not too long passed before they decided to check me out again - it may have had something to do with me dropping to my knees saying I didn't think I could do this - it was close to 5AM. I was 8 cm.

I had progressed 4 cm in an hour - time to get to the hospital. We arrived, checked in. They asked if this was my first baby.... they looked a little surprised as I told them my stats and that Debbie was right behind us. They moved a little faster.

I wouldn't take a wheelchair - I didn't want to sit - I don't think they liked that very much. Every time another contraction - oops I mean "surge" - came I would actually try to climb the hospital walls! On the elevator I discovered that I didn't like my husband's cologne. I think it took about 5 contractions to get us to the room where the nurse checks you - I was 10 cm. No wonder I was climbing the walls.

Every birthing room in the hospital was full so we used the surgical room which was very.... well... surgical. To be honest I barely noticed. Had we arrived a little earlier I might have gone with my plan B - but I was fully committed now. I think it was less than an hour before Julia was born. It was an intense hour, at one point her heart rate dropped down and they didn't think that I was going to be able to push hard enough on my own, they called for a vacuum, did an episiotomy (that was fun without the drugs! Ouch!) They didn't end up needing the vacuum, with the episiotomy I was able to push enough to get her out and presto baby! Julia was born around 6AM.

I wouldn't let her out of my arms - hubby was a little upset because he was making phone calls and couldn't t give out her vitals because I wouldn't let her go!

She was perfect and healthy. I on the other hand had no voice left - I think I gave my vocal chords a little work out - and may have fainted once or twice following labor and delivery. They wanted to give me an IV for fluids and I begged them to let me drink juice - I mean I had already gotten this far without needing a needle - surely I could drink enough fluids on my own to get me back to normal. After an hour or so I wasn't feeling woozy. No need for the IV. The vocal chords needed a bit more time.

All in all it was a pretty intense night. Funnily - whenever I tell the story - it just makes me laugh. Other "medical" experience that have been a fraction of that intensity have slightly traumatized me. I honestly believe the endorphins, hormones something in the experience alters our perspective on birth. It made everything seem very amusing.

Hubby was convinced the experience set me straight and couldn't imagine that I would want to deliver the same way again. So imagine his surprise 6 months later when I assembled the same team. I figured I did it once - I could do it again.

This time my in laws came out for the expected due date, much to the relief of my mother - who despite having three natural childbirth's of her own was quite traumatized by Julia's birth.
Preparing for Ben's birth - I was hoping that I wouldn't have to be in the hospital for the holidays. We were off to a good start when he obliged. Once the holiday was over, the pressure was on. We gave it a couple of days, then we thought we'd try the "what gets the baby in - gets the baby out" technique. Nothing.

We went to bed. At around 4 AM I woke up, wondered if I was in labor and started timing contractions. As I timed the contractions I set up the iPod and listened to my hypnobirthing, my contractions were consistently 5 minutes apart. I went downstairs, drank a full bottle of (recharge - natural gatorade - I wasn't going to get dehydrated this time), sat down on my exercise ball, and called the team. Debbie and Eden were on their way. I happened to notice while I was on the phone, that I really liked the way I could roll on the ball when the contractions came, it was very soothing - I decided to bring the ball with me.

A few minutes later Debbie called, it was raining and monday morning approaching rush hour in LA. My first birth progressed so quickly, she thought we should meet at the hospital.

We arrive, get checked in and moved to our birthing room, - a nice one this time. They examine me and I believe I was between 6-8 cm's. Hubby came back from moving the car, bringing with him a cup of coffee that I immediately banned from the room. I think I get smell sensitive when I'm in active labor.

The ball ended up being a godsend. I used it to support my head during contractions - on all fours. I would kneel in between and roll up onto the ball as the contractions intensified. They were like waves. The addition of a cool cloth for my face felt good to and also really helped.
We progressed like this for almost an hour. I remember Debbie telling me we could keep things as they were and it might be another hour or she thought if I gave one or two strong pushes I would break my water and Ben would be here in a few minutes. Things were going really well, but finishing in few minutes sounded great!

Before I forget - another thing I loved about the ball - the ball and myself ended up on top of the bed. Hubby was able to stand in front of the bed, hold my hands, and stabilized me, and he didn't have to be in the deep end - if you know what I mean.

The last couple of pushes did hurt. However, in many ways Ben's birth looked like one of the videos from my hypnobirthing class that I'd reluctantly watched with one eye open. The room was calm, I was calm, I had enough time to recover between contractions - which really helped in my ability to cope with each new one and most importantly, Ben was calm.

Ben's birth was remarkable. The first few day of his life we were tempted to call him Chill - he was such a relaxed, easy and calm baby.

Ben's almost 3 and he is still pretty chill and Miss Julia is absolutely precocious and delicious.

I've come a long way from the woman that wasn't sure she wanted to be a mother. I can't believe how difficult and challenging parenting is. However, the amount of joy and love they have brought into my life is unlike anything I've ever known. I wouldn't trade it for the world, but I would take one or two weekends off a year if anyone was offering!

Tania is a wife and mother living in Los Angeles CA. She spends her days chasing her children, nights being chased by her husband and blogs about whole living with style @ Pure Natural Diva in all her spare time.