my labor beads

My favorite part of my shower for FJ was when my friends and family each selected a bead, wrote me a wish for my upcoming, unmedicated labor, and strung it on a necklace for me to hold or wear during labor.  During the time those wishes were shared I laughed and cried, and knew something very special and sacred had been created for my birth.

Birth blessings

During my short labor, I held my necklace almost the entire time, focusing largely on the strength of women who have come before me and who will come after me, as well as those who directly offered me the wishes and hopes for my labor. I remembered my friends’ and family’s words of wisdom, encouragement, and love — and was comforted.  I took this idea from the ideas of mother blessings or blessingways, and I think for our next child I’ll focus even more heavily on the idea of a mother/father/baby blessing, rather than on traditional gifts.

After my shower, I put the cards the wishes were written on into a scrapbook, and looked at them in the days leading up to FJ’s birth. Now I’m looking over them again and sharing them with you:

I wish for peace to surround you and to enter your heart as you bring Miss ___ into the world

I hope that you can remember your strength during labor and that you feel empowered and loved as you give birth to your baby girl. Wishing you a very memorable and magical moment.

I hope for you and Baby ____ a peaceful, healthy delivery. At the end of your labor will be the most amazing miracle and moment of your life. You will be amazing and strong. Lots of love!

I hope you have a fast and smooth delivery of baby ___. I wish you the best…and a healthy baby.

I wish for you that your birthing plan can be fulfilled and that things progress smoothly and peacefully. I also wish for you that [Hubby] doesn’t pass out…haha…just kidding!

My wish for you is strength and focus.

My wish for you is to have a safe and healthy birth. I hope it comes easy for you with the least stress possible.

My prayer is that your delivery will be quick.

My wish for you and the baby is health. Lots of love!

My wish for you is bravery. [*Note: This one was from my nine-year-old niece — how AMAZING and insightful is she!!?!?]

My wish for you is to remember that the pain has a purpose. As soon as your eyes meet hers — it’s a magical moment and you realize all good things in life take hard work.

I wish you a calm and speedy delivery. Let go of stress and just breathe (and push, push, push!) I picked a textured bead that will help distract you from any pain. [*Note: I remembered that this friend did this, and it did help!]

This may (or may not) sound strange, but I found labor to be very empowering. It’s pretty amazing what our bodies are capable of doing in order to bring a new life into the world. We are women, hear us roar!!!

I pray that you will have the strength of all the women who have gone before you, the courage of a thousand warriors, and the peace that comes from knowing the love to come will be greater than any before. Love you!

I love you sweetheart and know everything will go well during your labor and birth.

I love you so much and am very proud of all you’ve done with your life. Cherish all the memories of your preganncy, labor, and birth because when they hand you that beautiful life you’ve created, it will have been worth it!!

I am so happy to say all these prayers and wishes did come true.


take 98 of 365 days of breastfeeding…featuring yours truly!

Hey guys! I’m happy to share that I’m today’s guest photo on the 365 Days of Breastfeeding. Check it out here! Guest spots are posted every Monday, but the blog author’s daily photos of her breastfeeding her cutie pie are super adorable and I enjoy seeing them in my blog feeder every day. Enjoy!

and so begins my great cloth diaper experiment

Today I got a much anticipated package in the mail from Green Mountain Diapers — my first foray into the world of cloth diapering! Coincidentally, this Saturday is Earth Day…truly a coincidence. So why now, you may ask? I have just been doing a lot of thinking about how much waste we generate from our disposable diapers…it is truly SO much non (or barely??!?) biodegradable waste that it makes me sad to throw it down our trash chute every couple days! Not to mention the high cost of disposable diapering; I think in the end we will actually save money (over the long run) if we switch fully (or mostly) to cloth diapering — especially, as my friend reminded me, since cloth diapers can usually be passed down to your next or another child.

For now we are trying what appeared to be one of the most economical of the seemingly endless cloth diapering choices — prefolds paired with covers. I bought a couple types of Bummis covers as I read they are good for chubby little legs (which FJ most certainly has.) In fact, I just posted a photo of the covers we bought on our Tumblr site — if you check it out close to when I publish this post it should be one of the most recent if not the most recent photo there. 🙂 Right now I have my prefolds washing and drying (and washing and drying and washing and drying and…you get the picture) so they are absorbent and ready to use.

As I am TRULY a newbie in the cloth diapering world, I thought I’d share with you some resources I used to get started, and some interesting articles and pointers I’ve found along the way:

  • Natural Parents Network did a good round-up/summary of cloth diapering here.
  • For all its horrible webpage formatting, I found Green Mountain Diapers a good resource. In particular, check out their new to cloth page.
  • Some of the lingo is different (if you’re from the US like me) but Alternative Mama wrote a beginner’s guide to “cloth nappies” that’s full of helpful information.
  • The Subfertile Frugalista is doing a Cloth Diapering 101 week in celebration of Earth Week. Check out her first post here.
  • Jillian’s Drawers offers what looks to me like a pretty cool cloth diapering trial program. Have you ever done one of these trials??? I’d love to hear from you if so! I love the idea of trying a lot of kinds to see what works best for us (alhough knowing me I’d fall in love with the most expensive option. ;))
  • Already an expert at cloth diapering? Write for Natural Parents Network’s cloth diapering book.

Do you cloth diaper? What do you find to be the best kind of cloth diaper solution for you and your family? I keep hearing great things about AIO or AI2s (forgive me if I’m writing the acronyms incorrectly — All in Ones and All in Twos are what I mean :)) but to me that seems to be substantially more expensive as in most cases for those you have to wash the entire thing each time (except in the case of snap-in liners instead of pockets.) I do like the idea of something wicking the moisture away from FJ’s bum instead of sitting closer to it, like it will with the prefolds. Whatcha think?

what surprised me about childbirth

At my two-week postpartum visit (yes, my midwife practice has both a two-week visit and an eight-week; the two-week is just for a verbal “how ya doin’?”) I ran into my fabulous childbirth class instructor, who is (was? maybe she had her baby already??) pregnant. She asked Hubby and I that day what surprised us about childbirth, a question I hadn’t until that point considered.

We told her how fast everything went was what surprised us, and that’s true. I was expecting to have to use tons of coping techniques and be laboring for hours and hours, especially as a first time mom. Instead, my water broke at 7:15 pm and FJ joined us at 12:37, just after midnight — and I only had to use my slow paced breathing.

But after reflecting on the question later, I realized another thing that surprised me about that night was the complication we ran into after labor. I think I went into my labor with such an uber-healthy outlook on things that I hadn’t even considered that anything “scary” could happen, and when it kinda did, I was really thrown for a loop…especially because it happened a couple hours after FJ was born. At that point I felt like I was on top of the world — I had just birthed a BABY out of my BODY. (Roarrrr, right??? ;)) She was healthy and I did it…what could possibly be wrong in the world?

But looking back I wouldn’t change a thing about my preparation for our experience, and I won’t go into the second childbirth with more fear in my heart. The situation was handled and it could be handled again, if necessary. I think my healthy outlook on things played a key role in how everything went. Also I still trust my body to bring life into the world, and I am still open to considering a home birth next time around. I’m not so sure if hubby is on board, but we’ll see.

What surprised you about childbirth?

Water baby

Our birth was so fast we didn't get our water birth -- but the water got all over the floor!

adjusting to life with a new baby

I’ll admit it — adjusting to life with our precious FJ has been hard. I always knew I would mourn the loss of my former self, who of course is still there but has undoubtedly been eclipsed by the needs of this little, helpless person.  She is so innocent and so dependant — she needs me almost 24/7 to stay warm, dry, and fed. I’ve had to lose all selfishness and devote myself almost entirely to her. The first month and a half were the hardest. I kept wondering…when will it get better? I loved our baby since day one and don’t think I was technically experiencing postpartum depression, but I was definitely having some blue days. So here are my tip to adjusting as gracefully as possible to life with a new baby:

FJ breastfeeding at 2 days old

And find ways to get comfy, because you'll be doing this a LOT.

  1. Get help. Whether it’s your husband, your mom, or a postpartum doula, have as much help as possible in the week or two following your child’s birth. I thought (naively) that I would be up and running around, ready to take on the world; that was not the case. Instead I was healing and learning how to breastfeed. Let someone else take care of all the rest. And when that person goes home/goes back to work/their job is over? Don’t feel guilty about the things that don’t get done around the house. I’m still not cleaning like I want to.
  2. Trust your instincts. It’ll amaze you how accurate your instincts are when it comes to taking care of your baby. Each time we took a list of questions and concerns to the pediatrician, I was amazed at how often we were simply reassured, like we knew the answers already. Now I don’t mean to say that we know the things a doctor knows, but we do have instincts when it comes to continuing the species. Listen to yours.
  3. Ask an expert. When you’re not sure about something, ask an expert. A medical question? Ask your pediatrician. Breastfeeding question? Ask a La Leche League leader or your friend who has been breastfeeding for the past nine months. Something your mom knows a lot about? Ask her. And find what each person in your life is an expert on. For example, your mom may want to give you advice on breastfeeding that you don’t like (“you want to be an organized feeder!” ummm, no, that’s actually not my goal — I actually want to feed with love and respect) so if that’s the case don’t consider her the expert on that topic but find out what she is an expert on and get her help in that area.
  4. Start trying to get out. Take a walk, go to the drugstore to pick up a few things, just get on your patio for a minute. And on the days when you don’t get out, don’t feel guilty about it.
  5. Nap at least one time a day with your baby. Your body will thank you.
  6. Let go of all your expectations of when they’ll eat, sleep, etc. Let go of wanting to be supermom and superwife at first, if that’s getting to you. Your baby will fall asleep when she’s tired at this age, and you can’t force her to sleep otherwise. She might want to eat all the time — let her. She’s getting what she needs. The more you roll with it the less you’ll be frustrated. Also let go of wanting things to be the way they were…as much as you might have thought you could, you simply won’t be able to just pop in the car and head out on the town anymore. Yes, you can get out…there are just a few more steps involved. You might have to stop and breastfeed so you don’t have to put a screaming, hungry baby in the car. Your trip might be pushed back half an hour. Roll with it and you will be a much happier camper.
  7. It’s okay to be exhilarated/sad/scared/overwhelmed/joyous. Whatever you are feeling is normal. If you are feeling really down in the dumps and you are more than a couple weeks postpartum though, talk to someone about it. And of course talk to someone if you are feeling violent. Otherwise, give yourself permission to just be, and like my friend told me when we were about six weeks after her birth, “you’re in the thick of things. It’ll get better.” And it will.

our baby “essentials” and non essentials

As a rookie mom of a baby just under two months old, I thought it was about time I share my list of items we have loved over the past couple months. I’ve separated this list into two sections, one for things we already had and one for things we didn’t realize we’d want or need but that we quickly (and happily) accumulated over the first couple weeks after our baby was born. Here they all are in no particular order:
  1. Diapers — gotta have ’em! We tried a few kinds and are sticking (for now) with Pampers Sensitive Swaddlers (I know, I know — we don’t cloth diaper! But natural parenting isn’t all or nothing. :))
  2. Wipes — Again, we tried a few kinds and love our Seventh Generation wipes.
  3. Burp cloths — We go through a ton of these and have one at about four or five different “stations ” around the house. I’d say about a dozen burp cloths is not too many to have, especially if you have a baby who spits up a good amount like we do.
  4. Bibs — Again, about a dozen (or maybe a little less) will do you well if you have a baby who spits up a lot, like us. We go through maybe 3-4 a day.
  5. Blankets — Especially in the early weeks, we used these a lot. I still like to have a couple around to lay over her whenever she falls asleep, or to lay underneath her when we play on the floor.
  6. Basic clothing — Cute outfits are certainly fun, but the most practical outfits have been onesies. They’re the easiest for dirty diapers checks and changes. While we love all the clothes we received, we probably have an overabundance. We do laundry so much that even when we change her clothes (out of necessity) three or four times a day, we still couldn’t possible need all the clothes we have. One thing I wish we’d had were more kimono-style tops or onesies for the teeny tiny newborn phase — it’s so scary to put clothes on them at that point! But we worked it out regardless.
  7. Fisher Price Zen infant seat— this vibrating infant seat has been helpful to have for a place to sit FJ for a moment or sometimes when she falls asleep. If I were to recommend one to a new parent, however, I might suggest getting a chair you can actually rock with your foot.
  8. The glider — I’m so glad we got this. If I had to breastfeed on our low, very modern couch ALL the time I would be an unhappy camper. It provides a nice way to mix it up.
  9. The Boppy pillow — I didn’t originally want one but turns out a contoured pillow is easier to rest around your body/rest a baby on than couch or bed pillows. It helps as a way to not wear myself out during evening cluster feeding times, and also is a way I can eat dinner while FJ eats hers too!
  10. A changing pad — not a changing table! Our changing pad sits in the middle of our master bathroom counter and is a GREAT solution for a diaper changing station. Since she sleeps in our room, it’s in the perfect place for middle of the night diaper changes too. We change all our diapers there.
  11. Our sling! (and other carriers) — Since I got some help with my Maya Wrap ring sling at the local LLL meeting last month, I’ve used it every day except for maybe one or two! It is GREAT for getting things done (still slower than normal) around the house and is essential for running errands as we don’t have an infant car seat. FJ also likes napping in it. We also use our BabyHawk mei tai sometimes too and that is working well, especially now that she’s a little taller and can see over the top — she likes that. At this month’s LLL meeting I’m going to get help with nursing her while she’s in the sling, as I haven’t yet been able to master that — once I do I think the Boppy will be used less for sure…and it’ll just be so convenient when we’re out!
  12. Our stroller — I didn’t think I’d use it much but I love our Bumbleride Flyer stroller when I do use it. It can face forward and backward, is lightweight, and is easy to open and close. It’s really cute too. Although I thought I wouldn’t use the stroller much it’s nice for a change of pace, and as much as I love to wear FJ, sometimes my back needs a break.
  13. Our convertible car seat — I’m very happy with our decision to skip the infant car seat and get a Britax convertible seat. I don’t want to carry my baby in a seat anyway, and she goes in and out of it just fine, even when sleeping.
  14. The Puj tub — Love it. It folds flat, which is great for our small place, and fits in the sink so I don’t have to lean over into the tub and strain my back. But we also take lots of baths together in our bathtub, which FJ loves too.
Trying out the forward-facing position in the sling

Trying out the forward-facing position in the sling

  1. Lap pads! I don’t know what I was thinking — that FJ could just sleep on our bed and I wouldn’t have to change the sheets constantly? Ha! Lap pads saved us there. My SIL gave us a few that we use on our changing pad too (another lifesaver) and I bought a couple quilted ones for the bed.
  2. Guard rail — Because we are bed sharing, we decided to go ahead and get a guard rail for my side of the bed, where FJ sleeps. While she clings to me like a heat-seeking missile, this just makes me feel safer, even now while she can’t roll over. Good investment, in my opinion, if you are going to bed share.
  3. Infant swing — We borrowed an infant swing from my friend and it has been very helpful for some naptimes. (I know, I know — I’m not nearly as minimalist as I wanted to be!)
  4. Activity mat — Again, we borrowed an activity mat from my friend. While we’re trying to be minimalist with things, and could have made our own if we were more enterprising, this has been helpful now that FJ is starting to play and explore a litle more. I interact with her during most of her playtimes, but the mat gives me one or two 15-minute periods a day where she will lie calmly there and play/watch herself in the mirrors I put next to her. (Sometimes I even play with her there too — gah, can you tell I feel guilty for putting her down? lol.)
  5. A floor mirror — FJ loves her reflection so much that we decided to get this Sassy floor mirror. She loves it. I love that the reflection is not distorted, too.
  6. A monitor — We haven’t used it much yet because FJ normally naps with me or in the same room as me, but when she starts going to bed earlier and we shut the door to our room, I think it will be (for us) essential. Although we have a small house I realized after she was born that with the door shut I still wouldn’t be able to really hear her until she screamed, and I don’t want her to get to that point.
  7. A car mirror — I thought this was excessive…before she was born. 🙂 Now I want to be able to see my baby when I’m driving!
  8. Boudreaux’s Butt Paste — I wanted to go all natural and crunchy, but the spray I bought was not working on little one’s slightly irritated hiney. My friend recommended this and it works like a charm.
  9. Disposable breast pads — My letdown is like a geyser and the cloth pads I wanted to use (go green me ;)) just weren’t cutting it. At night I’m starting trying to use these Bamboobies reusable pads. They are very soft and absorbant, although I think I may have to double up. Hopefully soon I can go back to all cloth, but in these early weeks when my flow is heavy and my letdowns are intense, I’m going disposable.
  10. The Bumbo seat — This is another one of those baby items that I thought was excessive and I’d pass over, but then we got a gift card and I decided to grab it because I didn’t know what else to buy. Now I think it’ll be fun to sit at dinner together even before she can enjoy dinner with us.
  1. Swaddling blankets — Other than the first night in the hospital, FJ hasn’t been swaddled a day in her life. We never learned how to do it and don’t really want to. Plus, she sleep with us at night and it’s not safe to swaddle a baby who sleeps in her parents’ bed.
  2. The Snuggle Nest — this co-sleeping device is like a mini bed for the baby that you set on your bed. We used this the first night we were home, but didn’t use it again.
  3. Any of my clothes/top that don’t work for easy nursing. They’re all packed away. I didn’t realize it before FJ was here, but now I do — anything that can’t easily access the boob makes no sense to wear.
  1. A crib
  2. An infant car seat
  3. A pacifier
My list may be very similar or very, very different from yours. Obviously many people will use some of the items I don’t (a crib, a pacifier, swaddling blankets) and others may think some things we use are excessive or unecessary (the Bumbo, the stroller, the activity mat.) But this is the list of items that is working well for us right now. In the end, all baby really needs is a safe place to sleep, warm clothes, milk, and love…and a car seat (if you’re driving) — of course. 🙂