Thursday, November 8, 2012

My Husband's Restoration Journey Part I

NOTE: I hesistated to write this article for a while now, because of the very personal nature of it. But a few days ago, I asked my husband how he would feel about me blogging about his restoration progress, and surprisingly, he told me to go for it! It means a lot to me that my husband is working towards a goal that is so important to him, and the fact that he is allowing me to share his story, really goes to show his desire to reach out to others who may be able to relate, or use his experiences to make an important decision for themselves regarding circumcision or restoration. If anything can be taken from this, please take note that what is done to a baby boy will eventually turn into what has been done to a man...a man who has the ability to think for himself, gather facts, and decide that he may not be happy with having no choice over an alteration that occured to his own body. If you take anything from this, take advantage of the links and resources that I've provided, and see for yourself the things that we have learned over the years. Of all things to take from this, please do not take offense. As you will see, I am certainly not 'perfect'. I've made my own mistakes and learned from them. My only hope is that you may see this issue from my husband's point of view. For his perspective is not uncommon at all among modern men today. Thank you!

Part I - How It All Began
It all started when I got pregnant with our son nearly 3 years ago. I asked my husband "If he's a boy, would you want him to be circumcised?" My husband honestly didn't know. My husband is a smart man with a very independent and critical way of thinking. He doesn't follow trends or jump to any conclusions without the facts. This is something that I admire about him so much!

At the time, I was venturing into the world of the all-natural. My first son (who is now almost 5) had been circumcised a few years earlier against my better judgement, only because his dad (my ex) insisted upon it. I'll never forget the regret I felt when they brought him back to me from the nursery that day. Something stung in my gut, I knew what had been done was wrong, but I didn't know why. All I knew was that every time I changed his diaper, I wished that I could turn back the hands of time and not allow anyone to change him! I knew he had been perfect the way he was born, and seeing him altered, reduced, and in pain was nearly unbearable. I tried to believe what the people around me were telling me, that it's "for the best" for various reasons (that I now know to be false). Afterall, every male in our family, and nearly every male that I knew, was circumcised.

When my husband and I got pregnant with my second son, I didn't know the facts yet, but I did have a longing to make a knowledgable fact-based decision, as did my husband. We decided to look into it.

On our journey towards knowledge we stumbled across some amazing sites such as Circumcision Information and Resource Pages and National Organization of Circumcision Resource Centers which helped us to make our quick and final decision. Upon researching, that stinging-gut feeling that I had with my first son made perfect sense.  It was the feeling of guilt, regret, and sadness, for allowing a functional, healthy part of my son's sexual anatomy to be taken away without his consent. It was so interesting to learn about the various functions of the foreskin, the truth about what is really involved in the procedure, what is really taken away with circumcision, and the many complications that are likely to arise because of it.

I'll always remember my husband's voice shaking with sadness and anger as we read that information, when he declared, "I've been ROBBED!".  Yes, the facts and evidence were very convincing to help us make "our decision", and it became very clear to us that circumcising our son was not an option... But honestly, Nothing could have possibly made me feel more hatred towards this procedure than seeing the grown man that I love most in this world hurting and realizing the injustice that had been done to him when he was only a helpless baby. From that moment on, my husband became anti-circumcision, and I stood right by his side. My husband went through months of anger and resentment that he not only had NO say in what happened to his own sexual organ, but that his parents paid someone to take away his rights and bodily autonomy, and rob him of a normal, natural sex-life the way that nature intended it to be. We also discovered that some of the many complications that are common among circumcised men, were things that my husband was experiencing. He just never knew that they were not "normal".

For instance, whoever the jerk was who circumcised my husband, circumcised him so tightly that it left him absolutely NO slack skin whatsoever. Because of this, when he became erect, he would feel a tightness, a stretching, a strange pain, and some of the skin from his scrotum would have to be "borrowed" to help accomodate the erection. His penis would appear shiny from the stretching. This lack of slack has also resulted in several instances of painful intercourse, for both of us. Oftentimes, I would be very sore for hours, sometimes days after we would have sex, despite a generous amount of natural lubrication (which we've come to learn is actually drawn out by a circumcised penis, making it less effective in function.) (Click here for more info on how circumcised sex harms women). There were even a few instances, especially in the beginning of our intimate relationship when we were discovering our "groove" together, that parts of my husband's shaft had been literally rubbed raw from the friction. From what I can tell, this was very painful to him, and something no man would want to go through. If I remember correctly it would take over a week to heal.
My husband also suffers from very bad scarring from his circumcision. He is of decent average size, but literally half of his shaft is scarring. This was something that he had always found embarassing in the past, and he would attempt to hide the scars from his previous girlfriends. The scarring is also very apparent on his glans (the head of the penis), and you can practically see the process where the doctor had to tear and pry away my husband's foreskin that was fused to his newborn glans. Because of this scarring (and the keratinization due what is supposed to be an internal body part being constantly exposed to the elements and brushed against his clothes) he admitted to having a very de-sensitized glans. He would even sometimes get sensations that were somewhat painful to him in that area.
Sadly, his frenulum (which is supposed to be the most sensitive part of the penis, the "male g-spot" it's called) is now non-existent, as it was completely amputated during his circumcision.
On top of that, throughout his entire life, my husband has had to deal with meatal stenosis (a narrowing of the opening of the urethra, seen primarily in circumcised boys, that requires surgery to correct), which sometimes makes it difficult or painful for him to urinate, especially after intercourse, which causes him much frustration.
There are a few more things that I won't go into. However, I will say that all of these complications I just mentioned (and many many others) are, sadly, very common among circumcised men.
I will also say that I don't, in any way, think any less of my husband's "member", or our sex life because of these things. He's a wonderful man, with an amazing skill of keeping his wife pleased. He also had absolutely no say in his circumcision, he is a victim of another's choice; so it would be ridiculous for me to "look down on him" because of it. (I have to mention this because I literally had someone accuse me of "looking down on my husband" because WE are both against the practice of circumcision....yeah...) I love my husband, I love our intimacy, I love everything about him. But the point here is that once my husband learned that these complications could have been prevented, that his and our sexual experience could be even better than what it is, he found it quite upsetting. He simply couldn't live with the fact that his parents made a decision about HIS body and HIS sexuality that now only HE and WE (as a couple) have to live with.

Throughout my entire pregnancy with our son, we gathered more and more information, and enthusiastically shared our newfound knowledge with one another. It was during this time that we discovered the amazing process of "Foreskin Restoration", the amazing Ron Low and the TLC Tugger.

Finally, there was a remedy. We were thrilled! As I mentioned before, we already had a great sex life together, so imagine our joy when we found out that there was a way to make something AWESOME... even MORE AWESOME! Although restoring his foreskin would NOT bring back his 20,000+ pleasurable nerve endings that were amputated, his "ridged band", his frenulum, fix his meatal stenosis or reverse his scarring.....It WOULD allow for him to regain the "gliding motion" of a foreskin, conceal his glans and reverse the keritinization that occured, allowing for more sensitivity and pleasure. It would also give him a sense of control over his own body and sexuality, which is so important to him after these past few years of feeling robbed of his own bodily integrity.


In Part II, I will describe my husband's first attempts at foreskin restoration, and the progress he has experienced so far.
Thank you so much for being a part of this healing journey for my husband! If you have anything to offer, please give him your greatest words of encouragement, advice, experiences, or anything else that may help him throughout this time. It would be much appreciated!

I ask that if you find this article offensive or feel the need to give pro-circumcision information that contradicts the facts that I have presented here, please just choose to pass. I promise you, we have heard it all. Every argument, every contradiction, it will not be new to us. We have been constantly researching this subject for 3 years now. We have literally spent hundreds of hours gathering information that has helped form our views. We have been a part of more debates on this subject than can be counted. We are very confident in our perspective about circumcision, and feel that restoration is the right choice for my husband. Please keep any negativity to yourself.

Boheme Mom & BluJay

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Becoming a Teen Mother

8 years ago today I became a mother for the first time. I'll never forget how profoundly my life changed when I looked at the face of the most beautiful baby I had ever seen in my life. Everything that I ever cared about before seemed insignificant. My petty teenage problems melted away. I was now a mother, and the only thing in this world that mattered was nurturing and caring for this helpless and precious little girl.
I was only 17 when I had my baby girl, and I nursed her for 15 months before she self-weaned. People, especially peers, seemed really weirded out and questioned why I would ever want to breastfeed. Older people made me feel like I was too young and incapable to breastfeed, and suggested repeatedly that formula would be easier for me, especially since I was a single mom working full time to pay for my apartment, bills, and my little girl's necessities. But those judgements and opinions never stopped me from giving my daughter the best that I could offer. All I could afford at the time was a secondhand single manual pump, but I used it diligently and even grew to love it. I had never tried any other kind of pump, so to me, that was as good as it gets. Whenever my daughter was with me, she nursed from my breast. I remember nursing in front of anyone and everyone who came into my home. I would joke to my friends that "once you become a mother, you lose all modesty".
Back then, I had no idea what "attachment parenting" was, but I followed my instincts and I co-slept, breastfed, responded to her every sound, kept her in my arms and attached at the hip. She grew to be such a bright and happy little girl, and despite that I was a single, low-income, working mother, I never felt like she lacked anything, and it didn't quite feel like the big struggle that everyone warned me of. Motherhood was the greatest thing that had ever happened to me. I felt complete.
By the time my daughter turned a year old, I was able to get into University and continue my education.
8 years later, I am now the proud mother of a beautiful, smart, compassionate, talented, artistic, funny, and all around wonderful little 8 year old girl, as well as two other little ones, and one on the way. My daughter is the BEST big sister! She is so loving and nurturing to her little brothers, it absolutely amazes me. It touches my heart to the point of tears (of joy) when I think about how loving and helpful my daughter was when my second child came along. My daughter is like an angel in disguise.
Although I was only a teen, my daughter wasn't planned, and I went through a hell of a difficult time during my pregnancy in a way that seemed hopeless and impossible, I stuck it out and am so incredibly thankful for the experience I was able to have, becoming a mother to my daughter. Everything just gradually fell into place, exactly when it needed to. It was meant to be.

If there are any teen mamas reading this blog, know that you were made to be a mother, and you are every bit of a mother, regardless of your age.

Never let anyone tell you otherwise. ♥

Boheme Mom

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Vegan Avocado No-Bake Chocolate Pie

Whether you are vegan or not, this pie is DELICIOUS! Often times, I'll give guests a slice of this chocolate pie, and it isn't until they are completely done with it that I ask them "I bet you can't guess what that pie is made of." When I tell them that the pie they just ate is almost completely avocado, the looks of disbelief are priceless!

There are various "avocado chocolate mousse" recipes online, and other similar chocolate/avocado treats, and nothing quite hid that avocado taste to my satisfaction. See, other than this pie (and on rare occassions, home made guacamole), I usually HATE avocados and can't stand the taste! However, I do realize the amazing health benefits of avocados, so I decided to come up with my own little recipe for Vegan Chocolate/Avocado Pie. I love to make this pie to give me a good, healthy reason to indulge! (I'm actually eating a slice as I write this! Mmm!!)  The best things about this pie (besides the indescribably amazing taste) is that it's simple, quick and requires no baking! Here's how to get started:


-Graham cracker crust
-3 regular sized (or 2 large) ripe (and squishy!) avocados
-1 package of vegan chocolate chips
-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-1/4 cup vanilla almond milk
-1 tbs lemon juice
-1/2 cup raw organic sugar


1. Peel and slice the avocados, put the avocado slices into a mixing bowl
2. I prefer to use a hand blender to puree the avocados (this gives the best texture), but I've also just used a fork to squish the avocados into a puree and it has turned out fine. Set aside.
3. In a saucepan on a stove, empty about 3/4 of the package of vegan chocolate chips, and melt the chocolate chips slowly over low heat, stirring the entire time. (if you're a chocolate fiend, go ahead and use the whole package!)
4. Once all of the chocolate chips are melted, spoon all of the melted chocolate into the mixing bowl with the pureed avocado and stir until there is no green color to be seen
5. Add the vanilla extract, vanilla almond milk, lemon juice and sugar to the mixing bowl, and stir until it is all combined
6. Pour the mixture into the graham cracker crust and spread evenly
7. Cover the top of the pie and place the pie in the fridge to chill for several hours
8. Within a few hours, the pie will 'harden' and should be about the consistency of a pumpkin pie.

Has this recipe made you want to hit up the kitchen and make a pie? Feel free to post the pictures of your avocado pies on my Facebook wall! I'd love to see them!

Now, I'm about to get myself another slice! (Hey, don't judge, I'm eating for 3!)


Boheme Mom <3

Monday, August 27, 2012

How to Cloth Diaper on a Budget

One of the reasons many parents feel that they can not cloth diaper is because they are on a very strict budget, and in order to effectively cloth diaper, there is usually a pretty hefty start up cost.

Of course, the overall savings that cloth diapering allows is significant, considering that parents end up spending a total of $2000-$3000 per child on disposable diapers, while on average, a typical cloth diaper stash and accessories usually costs around $300 (more or less). Yet, many parents who are living paycheck-to-paycheck simply find it easier or more affordable to pay $5-$10 for a "jumbo" pack of diapers, or around $40 for a box of disposables at a time, rather than going outside of the budget to put forth hundreds of dollars on cloth diapers.

That is why I am writing this post, because I believe that it is important for ALL parents who are considering cloth diapers to know, that it does NOT have to break the bank! There are ways to cloth diaper your child for much much less than what you may think! Also keep in mind, that when you cloth diaper, you can use your diapers on multiple children, and even Re-sell them when you are done!

Something that is important to keep in mind when considering how to stick to the strictest cloth diaper budget is that your baby's age affects how many diapers your baby will need.

If you plan to wash every 2 days, this is how many diapers you will need:

NB-6 months: 20-24 diapers
6-12 months: 16-20 diapers
12-24 months: 12-16 diapers
Potty learning: 4-8 diapers

In this post I will be describing to you the various ways that you can cloth diaper affordably, and I will be linking some sources to use as an example. I am in no way affiliated with the companies or brands that I am recommending. It is only my passion to spread awareness that babies can be diapered in a more healthy and eco-friendly way, whether or not you are on a strict budget!

Flats and Covers:

Flats and covers are probably one of the most cost-efficient methods of cloth diapering on the market! Flats are wonderful because not only are they completely inexpensive, but they are usually made of cotton or other natural fibers (such as hemp or bamboo) which is healthier for your baby and the environment, and because of their design they dry very quickly, even when hung to air-dry! They are very low-maintenance and do not require much "special care" as most cloth diapers do. Flats are a very good starting point for a "rookie". There are many interesting folds that you can learn, but honestly, my favorite way to use a flat diaper is in the "pad fold", where basically the entire thing is just folded into an insert-shaped rectangle and placed into a cover. Flats are very versatile, and even the largest size flat can be folded down to accomodate a very small baby.

You can usually buy a Dozen flat cloth diapers for around $20.
Some very popular and good-quality Flat cloth diaper brands are:
Imagine Birdseye Flat cloth diapers - $14.99/dozen
Diaper Rite One-size Flat cloth diapers - $17.50/dozen
Cotton Babies One-Size Flat cloth diapers - $19/dozen
Cloth-eez One-Size Flat cloth diapers - $22/dozen
OsoCozy Unbleached One-Size Flats - $22.95/dozen

For every 4-6 cloth diapers, you will need one diaper cover.
Some of the most affordable cloth diaper covers on the market are:

Green Bees one-size diaper covers - $5
ProRap sized diaper covers - $8
Lite-Wrap sized diaper covers - $8
Econobum one-size diaper cover - $8.95
Bummis Super Lite sized diaper cover - $10

Of course, by buying one-size covers, you are saving yourself the expense and trouble of having to buy larger sizes when your baby grows. .

So, on average, to cloth diaper a baby from Birth-Potty training, you could accomplish this by spending a total of at least $50 for 2 dozen Imagine birdseye flats and 4 Green Bees Covers. Even less if you have an older baby, who requires less diapers.

Just $50 (which is just a few dollars more than a box of disposables usually costs) to cloth diaper your baby and any future babies from birth-potty learning is NOT too shabby! Also consider that when your last child is potty trained, you can also resell your diapers and covers and recover a good portion of what you spent for the diapers!

Prefolds and Covers:

Prefolds and covers are wonderful because they are inexpensive, simple, and natural. Prefolds can be folded in various ways (which are much more simple and less time consuming than the Flats folding) and can simply be Tri-folded and placed into a cover.

Before I go on about the various prefold brands, I first would like to introduce my absolute favorite budget cloth diapering kit: the Econobum Full Kit.
The Econobum system is AMAZING because both the prefolds AND the cover are One-Size (which means no extra $ spent on upsizing) and their "Full Kit" includes:
a Dozen 100% unbleached cotton one-size prefolds, 3 white one-size covers, and even a wetbag for storing dirty diapers, all for only $48.95!! This means that you could completely cloth diaper one or more children from birth-potty learning for LESS than $100!  Econobum diapers are designed to be tri-folded and placed in the cover, so there is no need to learn any "fancy folds".

Some other popular prefolds brands are:

Cotton Babies Indian Prefolds - $1-$2/ea, depending on size
Cloth-eez 100% cotton prefold - $1.25-$3.25/ea, depending on size
Imagine Indian Prefold diapers - $1.75-$2.75/ea, depending on size
Osocozy Indian Prefold diapers - $1.75-$4.25/ea, depending on size
Diaper Rite Prefold diapers - $1.99-$2.89/ea, depending on size
Econobum One-Size prefolds - $2/ea, sold in packs of 3 or more.

With prefolds (as with flats), you will need one diaper cover for every 4-6 cloth diapers. (See the "Diaper Cover" recommendations, in the "Flats" section above.)

Now, using the cheapest sources listed, you could diaper your newborn for only $44 using Cotton Babies prefolds and Green Bees one-size covers. The cost would be around $24 or so when upsizing, considering that you would need less diapers for every larger size you get. It is also nice to know that prefolds are very popular in "Diaper Swap" boards and usually sell VERY quickly, for almost as much as you paid for them!
Also, don't forget the very convenient EconoBum one-size prefold and cover kit! For less than $100, you can cloth diaper from birth to potty learning! If you start cloth diapering your older baby, you could get by with just one kit, at only $48.95!

"China Cheapies"

If you prefer convenience, but are still looking for a bargain, you may want to consider the various "made in China" brands, that are endearingly called "China Cheapies" within the cloth diapering community. (note: "China Cheapies" is NOT the name of the brand) If you are not morally or ethically opposed to products that are manufactured in China, then these brands are a good place to start.

These "China Cheapies" are usually one-size pocket diapers, with stay-dry inner fabric and microfiber inserts, and they somewhat resemble the more popular brands that you may know of, but for a fraction of the cost. Some of the more popular "China Cheapies" brands are:

ALVA Baby diapers - $4-$6/ea (they also provide discounts for buying "bundles", such as 20 diapers for $96)
Green Bees diapers - $6/ea for solid-colors (discount for buying in "bundles", such as $65/dozen, and $100 for 20)
Kawaii cloth diapers- $6.99 and up (bundles are also available for a discount)
Sun Baby diapers - $60/dozen with inserts, or can be found elsewhere for around $7-$8/ea

The brands above are the most popular China brands that I am aware of. While you may come across some even cheaper China brands out there, I cannot recommend them. (I have seen some of those other brands myself, and they are not quality, and not something that I would recommend to parents.) But the brands listed above are actually very good quality, especially for the price! They offer very cute colors and prints, and some of them even have natural options, such as bamboo inner fabric, and bamboo inserts.

Fitteds and Contour Diapers

There are also some very decent fitted diapers and contour diapers that are very inexpensive. Fitteds and contours also require a cover. You will need one diaper cover for every 4-6 cloth diapers.

Pooter's One-Size Contour Diapers - made of organic cotton, $5.40-$6.00/ea
Cloth-eez Workhorse Fitteds - very popular and VERY affordable! At only $5/ea for newborn size ($3/ea when purchased in packs of 6) and $9.95/ea for sizes S-XL ($7.95/ea when purchased in packs of 6)
GMD Infant Fitted Diapers - for smaller babies, these are a very convenient and affordable option, at $7.95-$8.95/ea
Tiny Tush Organic Cotton Contour Diapers - $8.95/ea, these are by far, some of the softest diapers I have ever felt. They come in 2 sizes, which will last from birth-potty training.
Osocozy Fitted Diaper - Made from the same great cotton that their prefolds and flats are made of, this fitted makes diapering very simple! $9.95/ea

Get to Sewin'!

Got scrap fabric? You can make your own diapers! There are tutorials galore online! Often times, you can find materials that can be used for cloth diapers for sale or on clearance at a fabric store. It's definitely worth checking into!


Another great way to get a budget-friendly start on cloth diapering, is to cruise the "Clearance" sections of various cloth diaper online shops. You can often get popular brands that are overstocked, discontinued, or being cleared from the store for whatever reason. Almost every cloth diaper store has a Clearance section, and the deals are usually amazing!


Many diaper companies and online stores offer "seconds" sales, where diapers that have very slight "abnormalities" that do not affect function (such as a crooked tag, uneven stitching, snaps closer than usual,or sometimes, you can't even tell what is wrong with it) are sold for much less than retail. Seeking out "seconds" sales is a great way to buy popular cloth diaper brands for much less.

Coupon Codes

This is one of my favorite money-saving methods! Almost every cloth diaper retailer offers a coupon code, and each coupon code is different. Many times, if you sign up for an e-mail list for a store, you are usually given a coupon code just for signing up, plus you'll be informed of clearances and seconds sales! Also, a great way to get the latest couponcodes, is to "Like" your favorite cloth diaper shops on Facebook.

I've seen coupon codes offer 5%-25% off, BOGO, free shipping, free samples, free diapers or accessories with purchase, etc. Coupon codes are especially useful when stocking up on cloth diaper accessories, such as Wetbags, liners, rash creams, cloth wipes, and other things that make cloth diapering easier. I would recommend that when you choose which retailer you would like to make your diaper purchase, do a search (try for a coupon code for that particular store. You might be able to cloth diaper the cheapest way, for even less!!

Contests and Giveaways

Contests and Giveaways are constantly occuring on the blogs and facebook pages of your favorite Cloth Diaper retailers, and you might get lucky and win some free diapers or accessories! Many times, new bloggers and new retailers try to gain popularity by attracting attention with a giveaway. These are the times that you have the highest odds to win, because the number of participants is most likely very much lower than a giveaway on a more popular site. There are some facebook pages and websites that are dedicated to keeping you informed of the most recent contests and giveaways.

Buying Secondhand

You can find just about any brand you've ever wanted to try by shopping second-hand. Usually, the diapers that you find sold secondhand are usually used (sometimes barely used), but I've been lucky several times to find brand new diapers sold for much less simply because it is no longer in the package, or no longer has the tags. Some of the most popular ways to buy second-hand cloth diapers:

Craigslist - a very good option, since it is likely local and does not require shipping. Search "cloth diapers" to see what the local folk are offering for sale.
Diaperswappers - a forum that has a very expansive "for sale" section, requires a free membership
Spot's Corner - an online marketplace where gently used children's items, especially cloth diapers, are listed. - a great source to buy, sell and trade cloth diapers.
Ebay - a great source for buying new or used cloth diapers, just search "cloth diapers" or whatever brand you may be searching for.
Consignment Shops - many children's consignment shops are now offering new and used cloth diapers for sale, usually through local consigners.
Facebook Diaper Swap Groups - There is an entire community of cloth diaper swapping on facebook, with several different groups and pages that allow people to buy, sell and trade cloth diapers. Be sure to read up on the Rules and FAQs of the particular groups that you join!

Cloth Diaper Organizations

If you truly cannot afford to invest in cloth diapers, there are some very wonderful cloth diaper organizations available for those who qualify. These are generally non-profit, volunteer-run organizations that accept donations of new, "seconds", or used cloth diapers from companies, parents, and anyone who wishes to donate. Usually, you are required to fill out an application, provide proof of income and other requirements, and once approved,  you will receive everything you need to diaper your baby, free of charge. Usually, all that they ask is that when you are done, that you return them to the organization.

(Note: I am summarizing the general idea of the various cloth diaper organizations, from what I understand them to be. Each organization is different and has different guidelines. Please check with the individual organization's requirements and rules).

My absolute favorite Non-Profit cloth diaper lending organization, is:
The Rebecca Foundation's Cloth Diaper Closet

What I love about The Rebecca Foundation, is that not only do they provide the cloth diapers to families in need at ZERO cost to the family, but they also provide hands-on cloth diaper education classes, full support, troubleshooting, mentoring, and community outreach. There is a local Chapter of TRFCDC in various cities, each run by volunteers who are happy to do what they can to make your cloth diapering experience a success! I highly recommend TRFCDC!

Using Alternative Products

Yes, cloth diapering can be pricey when you get the "top of the line" products and all accessories involved. But really, how much of those fancy things are actually necessary?? Here are some ideas for saving some money while cloth diapering:

Diapers - It's sometimes not totally necessary to go out and buy a big new stash of diapers.
*Do you have a ton of old receiving blankets laying around that you no longer use? Did you know that those are PERFECT for cloth diapering?! Receiving blankets just happen to be the perfect size to be used as a flat, and is actually a very popular method of cloth diapering for less!
*Do you happen to have a bunch of old kitchen tea towels, or flour sack towels? These are relatively cheap and are also the perfect size to be used as a flat cloth diaper!
*Did you know that you can make a cloth diaper by folding an old t-shirt?! Look up how, they can actually be pretty cute!

Covers- If you happen to have some fleece pants around the house, they can also double as a diaper cover! Fleece is commonly used to make diaper covers, soakers, and longies, and really, any pair of regular fleece pants that you can find at a store or thrift shop will make a perfect cloth diaper cover!
*If you have sewing skills, you can also hit up your local thrift store and stock up on wool or fleece sweaters, and upcycle them into cloth diaper covers, soakers, or longies! =)

Wetbags- Although convenient, fancy wetbags are not entirely necessary. Before I ever purchased a wetbag, I re-used plastic grocery store bags, and simply threw the bag away after emptying the cloth diapers into the washer. This is definitely not the most eco-friendly way to store your diapers, but if you happen to already have a stockpile of plastic grocery bags, it is definitely a great way to put them to re-use until you can afford a reusable wetbag.
I also used to have one of those large zippered bags that my bed comforter came in, and I used and re-used that as a wetbag for several months! I would just spray and rinse it out between uses.
Dollar Tree also carries "Waterproof laundry bags" for only $1 each. However, I have used a few, and they are not very sturdy, so don't try to put too much diaper laundry in it at once, or it will tear. But it is a great reusable alternative to a wetbag.

Diaper Pail - Got an extra trashcan lying around? Sanitize it really well and it will make the perfect cloth diaper pail! Most people prefer to use the trashcans that have pop-up lids, as it helps contain the diaper smell inside the can. If you don't have an extra trashcan, they are very inexpensive to buy at a dollar store or thrift store.

Cloth Wipes - Cloth wipes can help cut down your diapering costs a LOT, since they are reusable, and are washed right along with your diapers. It's not always necessary to make a special purchase of cloth wipes when there are many different things laying around your house that you could use for cloth wipes.
*Baby washcloths - many parents get TONS of these at baby showers or with baby gifts. Baby washcloths make PERFECT cloth wipes! They are the perfect size and thickness, and when folded in half, they fit nicely inside of a wipe container.
*Flannel - if you have old flannel blankets laying around, or even flannel fabric, you can cut several squares (about the size of a baby washcloth) and these make perfect cloth wipes! Since flannel does not fray, there is no need to sew or serge the edges.
*Old Towels - many households have that pile of old towels that no one really wants to use anymore. Cut them up into squares or rectangles and make them into cloth wipes!
*There is rarely a fabric that can't be used for making cloth wipes. If you've got old clothes or scrap fabric and nothing to do with them, cut them up and make cloth wipes with them!

Wipe Solutions - While most wipe solutions are very cool, smell pretty, and can be super convenient, they simply are not necessary. Good old fashioned water works perfectly well to wet your cloth wipes. If you MUST have something more, just add a squirt of baby wash, and maybe a few drops of baby oil into a jar, squirt bottle, or spray bottle and fill it with water. There you go, easy, cheap wipe solution!

Diaper Liners - Diaper liners may or may not be necessary. They certainly help protect your diapers from diaper rash creams, and can be very useful in cleaning up messy diapers, but they can also be pretty pricey! The most cost-efficient option would be to make your own reusable diaper liners from old receiving blankets or clearance flannel fabric. If you are needing a stay-dry liner, you can cut up fleece rectangles to place inside your diapers. Almost every fabric store will have "scrap fabric", usually with a good amount of flannel or fleece in the mix, and this is usually very cheap, and more than enough to make liners!

Doublers - Need extra absorbency, but dont want to dish out the extra dough? There are options for doubling the absorbency in your diapers:
*Fold up a washcloth and place it in your diaper as an addition
*Many parents receive those Gerber "cloth diapers"/burp cloths at baby showers or as gifts. Although these make awful diapers, they do make wonderful doublers, when tri-folded and added as an addition to your diaper.
*Microfiber towels are VERY cheap to buy, and can be folded up and placed inside of a diaper to make a very effective doubler. Make sure that the microfiber DOES NOT touch baby's skin. Microfiber is to be used inside of a pocket diaper, or hidden within a prefold or flat.
*If you bought the newborn sized prefolds, these make very excellent doublers for your cloth diapers. It is worth it to hang onto a few of them for that purpose.

Diaper Sprayer - One of the most awesome inventions in the cloth diaper world, yet I still have never owned one in the 4 and a half years that I've cloth diapered.
What I usually do is I shake the poop into the toilet, and I rinse off the stains/leftovers in the bathroom sink, while making the faucet "spray" with my hand. I've mastered it so that I don't spray the water anywhere outside of the sink. Please note that it's very important that you sanitize the sink after each time you do this!

Cloth Diaper Detergent - You most likely have heard of those fancy special "cloth diaper detergents" that are really pricey and must be ordered. While detergent is one of the most important factors of your cloth diapering success, it is not usually necessary to get the fancy expensive detergents. There are many brands of inexpensive cloth-diaper-safe detergents that are reasonably priced and can be found at your local grocery store. My favorite is Tide. Other popular cloth-friendly store-bought brands are: Country Save, Planet, Ecos, All Free and Clear, Arm and Hammer Essentials Free, Allen's Naturally, and others. If you're really pressed for cash, there are some very good cloth diaper detegernt recipes online that you can make yourself from inexpensive ingredients such as Baking Soda, Borax, etc.

Diaper Fasteners - While I truly think that Snappi's are SO convenient, and completely worth the $3.95...if you truly cannot swing that cost, there are always diaper pins. These can usually be found near the Gerber "cloth diapers"/burp cloths, and you can usually buy a pack of them for around $1 or so. They're also great to keep on hand and in the diaper bag just in case. You never know when your Snappi may break or get lost, or when you might need to make a makeshift diaper from a receiving blanket in a pinch. It's always a good idea to keep some diaper pins around.

Take it Slow

Even if you truly cannot afford to put down even $50-$100 for a cloth diaper stash, it is so worth it to at least try to get one or two cloth diapers at a time, and slowly build your stash when you can. Every little bit counts. Just think, if you replaced only 2 cloth diapers per day, you are saving at least 60 disposable diapers per month from being in the landfill, and saving yourself the cost of TWO jumbo packs of disposable diapers! What a difference it can make to even use cloth diapers part-time! And just think, with that $20 you saved from not buying those two jumbo packs of diapers, you can use that to buy an entire stash of Flat cloth diapers!


I hope that this post has helped someone who may be on the fence about whether or not to cloth diaper realize that it does not always have to be a costly investment. There are options to begin cloth diapering for a very low start-up cost, options to use things that may just be lying around the house, and even options for those who are low-income and cannot afford diapers. When there's a will, there's a way.

Happy Cloth Diapering!!

Boheme Mom <3

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Halfway Through this Pregnancy Journey

Yesterday I hit the "halfway mark" of this preganancy as my baby bump is now 20 weeks gestation!
It's so hard to believe that time has flown SO fast and this pregnancy is already halfway over!

I haven't blogged much throughout this pregnancy. Not long after I found out about this little miracle, my morning sickness and first trimester fatigue kicked in FULL force and lasted until about 15 weeks or so! Around that time, we moved and I've been super busy dealing with other matters of great importance... so unfortunately, my blogging got put on the back burner.

Luckily, my energy is back! I'm now getting a start on planning this pregnancy and all of this preparation is getting me so excited and anxious to meet the little one inside who we now call "Baby Gummy Bears", thanks to little Nuni (he came up with that sweet nickname).

Things are going according to plan so far, and I couldn't be more thrilled!
I've picked out a wonderful midwife, and she will be assisting in my homebirth! This will be my first home birth and I am SO excited and SO ready to birth peacefully and naturally. The sense of relief that I get, knowing that I will (ideally) not have to endure the hospital environment and all that is involved, is a feeling that is indescribable.

I've also picked out a Doula, and I believe she will be assisting my midwife as well. I am thrilled about that, because one of my few anxieties about having a homebirth was that I was afraid that too many people in too small a space might throw off my focus during the birth. With my doula doubling as a midwife's assistant that is one less person, which is good news to me! I'm so excited about getting this birth team together! I'm still on the fence about whether or not to hire a birth photographer. On one hand, it would mean so much to me to have my first home birth documented with pictures, on the other hand, that is one more person, and I'm afraid that if someone who I am not familiar with is taking photos of the process, it might throw off my focus or the "energy" that I would like to accomplish.

We've stuck to our plan to keep the gender of Baby Gummy Bears a mystery until the day he or she is born! It makes me THAT much more excited for the day I get to meet this little one, and learn if I've been carrying a boy or a girl this whole time! Almost everything we've bought for this baby is gender neutral. We have a lot of green, yellow, white, and "natural" colors. We also got a few blue things, but we plan to back them up with a few blue headbands/bows just in case!

So far every single thing that we've bought for this baby is organic! We planned to go 100% organic with this baby, and I can't believe it, but we've actually stuck to the plan! So far we have an entire lot of organic newborn cloth diapers and diaper covers, organic blankets, clothes, towels, baby products, and toys! We still have much more left to buy, but I feel like we're not doing too bad for 20 weeks.
I still have most of my baby stuff from my previous kids, but by now (after going through at least 2 kids, some things have gone through 3 kids) they're ready to be replaced, so we figured, what better way to start over than to get everything organic? We're trying to buy as much secondhand organic things as possible (and have been really lucky with some finds!), but when we must buy something new, we fund it by selling something that we already own and giving it a new life for someone else. It's our goal to leave as small a footprint as possible.

My mind is filled with hopes and dreams for the perfect healing birth. I know it's not likely that 100% of these dreams will come true, but this is how I imagine my IDEAL birth...

When I picture my home birth, I imagine it starting out happy and lighthearted in the early stages. I would like to laugh with my husband while watching a movie, eat something delicious, bounce on the birthing ball and even let Nuni bounce with me! When the labor picks up and it's time to call in the midwife and doula... I imagine the lights being minimal, candles placed throughout the room that I am birthing in, herbs in the tub, aromatherapy around me, floating candles in the birthing tub, incense in a nearby room, my huge mandala tapestry in front of me as a focal point, and very soothing music that I am familiar with. I will have a birthing pool, but I'm not quite sure yet if I picture myself actually giving birth in the water, or just laboring in the water. (I guess I'll have to follow the lead of my labor and see where it takes me.) I want my husband in the pool with me, arms wrapped around me, moving with however my body feels the need to move during labor. I want him there with me through every step of my labor. I want him just as much a part of the labor process as he was involved in creating this life. I imagine the doula advising my husband on ways to assist the labor process and ways to comfort me. I want to sing during labor. I want to nurse Nuni during labor. I want to kiss my husband during contractions. I want to even dance (if I can). If Nuni can handle the situation well, I would love him there for every minute of it. If he gets overwhelming or scared, it would be nice to know that he is playing happily in the next room with someone he loves and trusts. I would love to have wrapped presents for Nuni saved for the day that I give birth, so that he can have something new and interersting to entertain him throughout the hours. I want to hum during transition, almost meditatively. I would love gentle reminders that my body is meant to do this, that I will not be given more pain than I can handle. I want to embrace the rushes, and listen to my body, moving in whatever position my body is telling me. As my baby is descending, I want to reach down and feel my baby coming out of me. I want to catch my baby, and with the help of my husband, bring him or her directly to my chest, as we discover whether we will forever have a new son or a new daughter in our lives. I want to nurse my baby almost immediately. I want to smell the sweet natural scent of my freshly born child. I want to keep my baby's cord attached until it has turned white and no longer pulsating, before my husband cuts it; a symbol of him seperating the physical bodily attachment between mother and child. I want my husband to assist with anything that must be done with the baby as I prepare to birth the placenta. I would love to have a small slice of placenta placed under my tongue to help prevent hemorrage. (Maybe even take a bite if I'm feeling brave and animalistic!) I would love Nuni to see his Baby Gummy Bears go from being a "baby tummy" (as he calls it) to becoming his new brother or sister! I would love for Nuni to be one of the first people to hold our baby, besides Daddy. I want to keep my baby to my bare skin and rarely ever put him or her down unless I absolutely must (to be weighed and such) for at least the first 24 hours. I would love to be able to shower away the sweat of labor, get into the comfiest of clothes, maybe eat something, and go right to bed with my family for some much needed rest.

One may notice that the vast majority of my dreams for this birth directly involve my family. I realize that my midwife, doula, and everyone else on my birth team will play a very active and wonderful role in my birth. I'm not quite positive yet what to expect, since this will be my first home birth, but I can't wait to incorporate the wonderful women on my birth team into this "dream scene" when the big day comes! Who knows if, 20 weeks from now, my birth will be anything like this? Birth is so unpredictable and so instinctual! I'm so excited to see how the real birth story will pan out! One day I may look back on this "vision" for my home birth and laugh! Who knows?

All I know is that I feel as though I am ready. This time, I'm ready to experience birth as naturally, as beautifully, as memorably as possible. My dream is for this experience to be the healing birth that my soul has longed for all of this time.


Boheme Mom

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

My Diaper Laundry Routine

I've been asked TONS of times about my cloth diaper/mama cloth washing routine and I can't even begin to count the number of times I've had to sit down and write it all out! To me, it is very worth it to spell out the specifics of a cloth diaper washing routine, because it can be the difference between perfect, stain-free, fresh-smelling, new-looking diapers VS dingy, worn out, stinky, stained, and repulsive diapers.
I've been cloth diapering for over 4 and a half years now (with many more years to come once this new baby arrives!) and TRUST ME, I have been through my various washing routines, I've made my mistakes, I did all the "don'ts", and through this time I've figured out the perfect cloth diaper washing routine that has kept my diapers looking PERFECT! In fact, I've even bought some used diapers before which looked very hopeless (super dark stains, totally dingy, stinky) and today, you would never guess that I didn't buy them brand new!

Keep in mind that this very same wash routine can be used with mama cloth (aka cloth "feminine items") to keep them looking nice!

The #1 rule for keeping your cloth diapers nice is DETERGENT!

Some of the best detergents on the market to use for cloth diapers are Charlie's Soap, Rockin' Green, Tiny Bubbles and similar "Cloth Diaper Specific" laundry detergents. There are also some detergents that you can buy at the grocery store or health food store that are safe to use. Some of the ones I can think of are ECOS, Planet, Country Save, and believe it or not TIDE Original powder (must be original, no added scents or softeners etc) works VERY well with cloth diapers. I've also heard that Tide Free and Clear works just as well. Be sure to get the powder version of any detergent, it's known to work best for diapers. Also, here's a link that goes over all the detergents and their compatibility with cloth diapers. 4 stars means it works great and is safe to use, 1 and 2 stars means DONT use, it could ruin your diapers or cause issues..3 stars means its not the best but it wouldnt hurt it too much. I prefer to stick with the 4 stars, thats how i keep my diapers looking brand new.

Now personally, I use Tide. I've been a long-time Country Save and Rockin' Green user myself, until I moved to a place where we had REALLY hard water! Tide worked the best for me with hard water, and now that we live in the countryside where we have Well Water, Tide is literally now the ONLY thing that works to keep my diapers perfect. I've heard only great things and awesome results from parents who use Tide for their diapers, and it's also locally available, which is a plus! (Please note that the Harder your water is, the more you will want to use a 4-star (from the list) detergent, and not risk using anything less. Also, it helps to use a little bit more detergent than what is recommended for cloth diapers if you have hard water.)

It helps a lot to ask around and find out what type of water you are using: Hard water, Soft water, etc.
Generally, the harder the water, the more carefully you must consider your washing routine.

Pre-Washing Routine - What to do Right After a Diaper Change

- Right after, use, I always rinse my diapers with warm water, even if it was just pee. If I'm using a pocket diaper, I remove the insert from the pocket and rinse both the insert and the pocket cover. I rinse the pee out as best as I can, usually until the water runs clear. (By rinsing out the pee I am helping to prevent ammonia build up in the fibers.) If the diaper is poopy, I pay special attention to try to spray off every bit of poo and brown-ness that I can. This makes it much easier for the diaper to get thoroughly cleaned on wash day.

- For poopy diapers, I spray them with BioKleen Bac-out or Charlie's pre-spray (its not necessary, but it helps to prevent staining from Poop on diapers, and keeps them from getting stinky with use.) and then I put the diaper in the diaper pail or wetbag.

- I never go more than 2 days before the next diaper load (that way it wont get ammonia build-up from the urine, which is possible if you go many days without washing.)


**Please note that this washing routine is best for those using a top-loading washing machine. I do not have experience with washing diapers in a Front-loading or HE machine.**

 -1 cold pre-rinse with no detergent (to get out the "nasties")

After the rinse:
-Add around 2 tbs cloth-diaper safe detergent (slightly more for hard water)

-Start the 2nd rinse

-Followed by a Hot wash

-There will usually be another cold rinse that automatically occurs after the wash

-Do a final cold rinse to get out all traces of detergent (this prevents soap residue buildup, and keeps them looking new)
NOTE: Do NOT use liquid fabric softener in your diaper laundry, specifically in the diapers that are synthetic fabrics (like fleece, PUL, microfiber, etc)! Fabric Softener can cause some major build-up issues, as well as cause the diapers to repel (or lose their absorbency).


**Please NOTE that it's best to air-dry any fabrics that are waterproofed with PUL or TPU (which is the glossy-looking fabric under the polyester that you will usually see as the shell of a pocket diaper, AIO, AI2, or cover. Excessive heat to these waterproof fabrics may cause delamination which may result in leaks.**

-Most diapers are safe to put in the dryer. I typically dryer-dry all of my natural fibers diapers and inserts, my microfiber inserts, and cloth wipes.

-Be sure to set the dryer on low heat/tumble dry. This is the most gentle dryer setting and will assist in your diapers lasting longer and looking great!

-For a boost of softness and also to help reduce drying time, I always add 8 (or you can add more!) Wool Dryer Balls to the dryer for my diaper laundry.

NOTE: NEVER EVER use fabric softener sheets in your diaper laundry of any kind! Fabric Softener Sheets/Dryer Sheets cause major build-up issues, as well as cause the diapers to repel.

Air Drying your diapers is a great way to preserve the life of your cloth diapers, while being super Eco-Friendly! 
I always hang-dry my pockets and diaper covers to keep the lamination in perfect condition. However, some parents air-dry or line-dry all of their cloth diapers! Some great ways to air dry diapers are:
-Outside on a clothesline
-Using a Drying Rack
-Hanging over a rod, or over coat hangers which are then hung from a rod
-Placed just about anywhere around the house (over the backs of chairs, over the side of the crib, the hand-rail on the stairs, over a balcony, Ive done it all!)

If your diapers (especially the natural fabrics) ever feel "crunchy" or stiff after air-drying them, give them a good wild shaking, they'll usually soften up. If that doesn't work, toss them in the dryer for 5 minutes, and they'll fluff right up!

 Note: even if you air-dry every time, it's good to toss your laminate fabrics in the dryer to dry at least once every few months or so. The heat of the dryer will "re-seal" the laminate on the waterproof fabric, keeping it leak-proof.

Using these general "rules of thumb" you can keep your cloth diaper stash (and your mama cloth!) looking nice and new, and smelling fresh!

Well, I just heard the dryer go off! Time for me to go fold some nice fluffy diaper laundry! =)

Boheme Mom

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Fake plastic beach

Today we were off-roading to the beach in my hubby's truck. It was a nice time, feeling the bumps in the sand, breathing in the salty sea air and feeling the cool breeze through the windows. We were excitedly pointing out little sand crabs and watching them hide, by the hundreds, back into their little sand holes.
Then we started to notice a very sad sight as we looked to our far right, in the direction of the water. Our joy quickly turned to silence as we observed soooooo much human garbage tangled in the seaweed and sand. Nearly every few inches there was trash, as far as the eye could see...99% of what we saw was plastic. Cracked, broken, faded, large pieces of plastic. Most were completely recognizable: milk jugs, shoe soles, hard hats, soda bottles (seemed to be the most popular), butter containers, plastic fishing buckets. We could see very vintage looking 7up and Dr Pepper blttles almlpt chlpletehy hhta`p, mijps smhd dadihg hd th` prhnp* Qmh`$qk`qp``!uiec`w%repa'po$l`a&d`d%cfvtroyed they just stuck out of the sand like big brightly colored jagged teeth. What a sick, sad sight.
All of this, done by humans.
Just think, just a little over 100 yrs ago, people would go to that beach and only see beach.. I tried to imagine this, as I watched the seagulls playing in the wind, the crabs scurrying about, and the cranes stretching their graceful necks in our direction through the reeds, how beautiful and simple it must have been before people found ways to pollute the world with no regard for other forms of life or the planet.
Human beings are the only species on Earth that are literally destroying our own planet. While the gulls, the fish, the flies and the many other marvelous creatures on land and sea are working overtime trying to clean up our mess, we are finding that we're killing them in the process. We find fish bodies with plastic IN them, buried between their bones. Birds with stomachs full of plastic washing up on shore.
What is wrong with us as a species that we are so adamant to ignore the distress we are causing our own environment?? Why are those who care labeled as extremists and radicals??
Wouldn't it be common sense to look out for one another? To protect our one and only planet? The damage that has been done to our environment and our collective health since the dawning of the industrial revolution is undeniable.
We can choose to do something about it, or we can continue to be lied to by television, distracted with petty entertainment, while throwing our money away (literally) on plastic products which will continue to unendingly pile up in our oceans, roads, and landfills.

In the Boheme household we do the best we can to avoid plastic. Not only for environmental reasons, but mainly to avoid the toxic chemicals found in common household plastic. However, today's beach trip gave us much more incentive to continue to do the best we can to be a plastic-free household.

Boheme Mom

Picture Courtesy of Forbes, I did not take the above picture, I do not own it.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

My Thoughts on Expecting my Fourth

Well, I put up my handmade CycleBeads the other day, not long after my two pregnancy tests came up positive. My husband got his anniversary wish, after only one try! According to my LMP, our conception date was ON our anniversary! What a little miracle! Our "EDD" is in January.

I wake up every day with a different feeling about this pregnancy. Most days, I feel excitement and hopes for the future. Some days, I wake with a nervous, anxious feeling as my mind goes through every last thing I've done the past few weeks ("WHY did I let Nuni bounce on my belly?!... WHY did I jump on the bed?! ...WHY did I order that margarita at Chilis? I never drink!! ....WHY did I eat those gumballs with all those artificial colors!!.." etc). Some days I feel like trying not to get too attached to the baby just yet....afterall, it's still so early...  But mainly, I've been excited and planning away!

I love all of my children, they are all amazing! My pregnancies were beautiful and special. But this pregnancy is special in it's own way. This is the very first pregnancy where I have NOTHING to feel 'ashamed' about...

With Pregnancy #1, I was a teenager, I was unmarried, still in highschool, unprepared, jobless, homeless, and no longer with the father. While my highschool friends were experiencing life to the fullest over the summer, I was taking belly pics, and applying for maternity homes for unwed mothers. It took me a few days, and assistance from my older sister to muster up the courage to break the news of my pregnancy to my mom. My dad did not find out until I was about 7 or 8 months along.

With Pregnancy #2, although I was in my very early 20's, it was still definitely an unfavorable time since I was right smack in the middle of college, working as a waitress, unmarried, the father was an absolute nightmare, and I was already supporting a toddler. It was so hard for me to tell my family that I was pregnant, that I waited about 2 months after I found out.

With Pregnancy #3, although we loved each other deeply and we married a few months into our pregnancy, I was still unmarried when we got pregnant. Blujay wanted to be a father and even admits that he planned our baby, but for me it was a harder situation. Having already two kids and being in a transitional state in my life, made it impossible to confront my family with the possibility of bringing another child into the world. My family found out about my pregnancy from a Doctor one night when I was rushed to the E.R., lethargic with an unexplained sickness. By then, I was already about 4 months. It was actually quite a relief to have my pregnancy confirmed and out in the open. After that, it was smooth sailing. However, financially, we were not at all prepared for another baby. We spent much of our marriage being VERY frugal, as it was our only choice since we were living in financial poverty.

I am very happy to say that this pregnancy, Lucky #4, is 100% guilt-free. We are married! This baby was planned and dreamed about! I am able to be a stay-at-home mom, and care for my little ones without financial stress. My husband has a wonderful job that pays very well, so for the first time Ever, this pregnancy will not be a burden on our finances! I sent my older sister a picture of the BFP the day we took the test, and I told my mom the next morning! They both seemed happy for us. Blujay told his mom the day we found out as well.

So far, we're planning a home birth! I look so forward to having a beautiful, relaxed birth in the comfort of my own home. I've lined up a few amazing midwives, and I can not wait to meet with them and pick the perfect match! I've also been searching for a doula and a birth photographer, and even (yes, I'm thinking waaayyy ahead here) lining up someone to perform a Blessingway! My husband assures me every day that this will be the birth I've always wanted.

Blujay has been so loving and wonderful! His reaction when he first saw the positive pregnancy test was a big smile and a hug! We were both in such disbelief that it only took us ONE try to get pregnant! Especially while I'm still nursing Nuni. (Supposedly, it's harder to get pregnant while still lactating and nursing regularly). It's all happened so quickly, and I couldn't be happier to have such an amazing husband by my side! Every morning, he gives my belly a kiss, while he's saying goodbye to us before work.

We've decided that we do NOT want to find out the sex of the baby this time around! (I've wanted the gender to be a mystery with #2 and #3, but someone told me without my permission both times!) This time, it WILL be a mystery until the day he or she is born! We've picked out a gender-neutral name, a name that we've had in mind for our next baby for about a year now!

For the purposes of my blog, we'll call this baby Juju Bean. =)


Boheme Mom

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Best Things About My Births

My last blog post focused on the negativity experienced during my hospital births. Venting those emotions out is something that is necessary for all moms who may feel frustrated or traumatized as a result of their birth experience. Despite all of the things that made me feel awful that occured during my births, there is no denying that birth in any way, shape, or form, is an absolutely beautiful and sacred process.
Today, I would like to focus more on the positive aspects of my births.

Baby #1: Tutu Head

I spontaneously went into labor on a day that her father was visiting. Her father, who I was no longer in a relationship with (but still very much friends) lived 4 hours away and would visit on weekends. We were thrilled that my labor began good and strong on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Autumn! It was a beautiful day to have a baby!
I was lucky to be surrounded by friends and family! Tutu's dad was a great sport, telling me I was doing wonderfully, and holding my hand through contractions.
I will never forget the first time I saw my little baby girl. She was sucking on her bottom lip and she looked right at my face. I had never seen anything so beautiful in my life.
Her father began to cry. I had never seen him so happy or proud.
Within the first few minutes of holding her, my mother instructed me to nurse her. Feeling timid and awkward at first, I began to help my baby girl get a latch. She caught on immediately, and I knew that breastfeeding is exactly what babies were designed to do. I was only 17 at the time, and during my pregnancy I was very doubtful that I would even nurse. But those first few minutes after her birth changed my life forever.
I went on to nurse my baby girl for almost 15 months.

Baby #2: Bubu Man

I described in my previous post the nightmare of anxiety and fear that I endured during Bubu's birth. The greatest thing about my birth of Bubu was the incredibly beautiful baby that resulted. Imagine that entire storm of emotion simply melting away at the sight of that most perfect little boy.
I was able to breastfeed him immediately as well, and although he took a little while to get his latch, he nursed beautifully. I was so proud that this time, I really felt like I knew what I was doing. It didn't matter to me anymore that I was doing it alone.
I was alone in the recovery room after his birth, and I spent endless hours just gazing at his beautiful face. His father's threats and curses no longer mattered. They vanished away in my mind, and all that mattered to me were my children. Bubu man had perfectly formed eyebrows, short dark hair, a precious little upturned nose, and perfect full lips that pouted out when he would cry.
My best friend Bear visited during his birth, and even though he had to soon leave as I was going into transition and getting ready to push, just those few minutes that he stood there holding my hand meant the world to me! He visited me again soon after I gave birth, and he gave me a very meaningful gift.
The next day, Tutu Head was able to meet her new baby brother for the first time. She was in awe, and absolutely could not keep her hands off of him! All she wanted to do from then on was to kiss him and rub his angel soft hair. She proved herself to be the sweetest, most caring sister.

Baby #3: Nunu Baby

The night I went into labor, my husband and I took a nice, long walk on the beach. It had been a nice, relaxing day. My birth began so naturally and serenely. I am so thankful that I was able to birth at home for half of it. As my contractions were coming on strong every few minutes, I happily bounced away on my birthing ball, while browsing online and entertaining myself as Blujay slept beside me.
I went into hard labor and had to lay down and focus for a while. I tried to get some sleep, but the contractions were keeping me up. Blujay would wake to rub my back through the contractions.
I am so incredibly grateful to have had such a loving, supportive husband during that experience at the hospital. Things were going wrong left and right, but Blujay was always there beside me, making things better. It was his first time to be present during a birth, and he stuck it out like a pro! He was kissing me during contractions, he rubbed my back down with a big sea sponge in the shower while I was hitting transition. He held onto me while I leaned on him, and let me squeeze the crap out of his arms or hands if I needed to.
During Nuni's birth, I moaned without hesitation. I felt every single contraction, every bit of pressure, every urge to push. Visions of giant eyes with pupils dialating flashed before me, and I focused on them as my body opened up to allow the passage of my baby. Upon his crowning, I roared in the most animalistic and primitive way, a sound I did not even know I was capable of making. My soul felt connected to the thousands of generations of women before me who had given birth.
Blujay saw every moment of our son's labor and birth. I love to hear him describe that the very first thing he saw was our son's long dark hair poking out like a little mohawk, and his face came out looking like a little boss.
It was so wonderful to see how incredibly protective and loving Blujay was towards his son. He followed our Nuni to the hospital nursery and got to help with his first bath, all the while, sending me pictures on my phone and keeping me updated so that I wouldn't feel left out. He stood up for our beliefs and requests. Blujay was helpful in every imaginable way during my post-partum period.
I'll never forget the complete shock and surprise at what an incredibly gorgeous baby we had made! I knew I would think my baby was adorable, but I was not prepared for the massive amounts of cuteness I was about to experience! The minute I laid eyes on Nuni, he owned my heart. He had such long black hair and deep, dark eyes. His lips looked exactly like daddy's, and his nose looked like a mixture of us both. He had the Native American "serious look" that runs in my family, and from the day he was born, he was dubbed "the little boss".  We gave him a name that means "The Sun", which fits him well, because he is the sunshine in all of our lives.
Nunu baby breastfed wonderfully, and wanted to be breastfed constantly, but I did not mind.
Nuni wore his first cloth diaper on his first day of life there in that hospital! I was so excited to be able to cloth diaper from birth! (I started cloth diapering Bubu Man at 4 months)
Tutu got to meet Nuni in the hospital. She felt like such a pro at being a sister! She scooped him up out of my arms, and rocked him and held him without a doubt in her mind. The first time Bubu met Nuni was a little later. Bubu instantly turned into a Big Brother, I could see it in his overjoyed eyes. He softly stroked Nuni's delicate skin, and kissed him ever so gently. Bubu gladly handed over the mantle of "baby of the family" to Nuni, and he became a wonderful big brother.

These are the memories that will last forever in my mind.
These are the irreplacable moments that make life worth living. Not all births go the way that we dream, or plan, or hope. Some births can be all-out traumatizing and require time to heal both physically, and emotionally. It is very important to express the way that we may have been mistreated during labor and birth. Without confronting these anxieties, one will only make the emotional wreckage even worse.
However, it is equally important to never forget the beautiful aspects of those very births. Every birth is a rite of passage. It is the sacred arrival of a soul being brought Earthside. Whether a baby was born naturally, via C-section, at home, at a hospital, in the backseat of a is birth, and it is beautiful.


Boheme Mom

Monday, April 30, 2012

How my traumatic births have affected our future

**Please note that this blog entry could be a Trigger for those who have experienced traumatic birth or child loss.**

Note: I wrote this blogpost several days ago, but have just now mustered up the bravery to share it. Any words of encouragement or insight are welcome with open arms.

Last week Blujay and I celebrated another wonderful year of marriage on our anniversary this April. Usually, we get each other little gifts and spend good quality time together after our littlest one goes to bed. This year was a little bit different. The day before our anniversary, my husband broke the news to me what he TRULY wanted for an anniversary gift...
Another baby.

I've had an idea the past few months that he has been ready for another. He has been hinting at it, joking about it, and even tried a few times, but I felt that I had been successfully delaying the idea. "Let's wait until Nuni is out of diapers.", or "Let's wait until Nuni is old enough to understand the idea of a new baby", or "Let's wait until I've had a few years of having my body to myself". I mean, afterall, since I'm still breastfeeding Nuni, who is now almost 20 months old, I have not had my body 'to myself' for 30 straight months!! I stayed up late that night, thinking over my husband's request. It began to dawn on me some of the reasons why I may really be fearing TTC another..

I figured out that I absolutely FEAR birth!
Now, I completely understand that Birth is a normal, natural process. I trust that my body knows what to do, when and how to do it, and that it can be simple, uncomplicated, and serene. I've read the books by Ina May Gaskin, Laura Caplan Shanley, Dr. Grantley Dick-Read, Elizabeth Davis, Mongan and all of those infamous names in the natural childbirth world. It is not the idea of birth itself that I fear. It is MY births that I fear. I have given birth already, 3 times. All 3 times were hospital births and all 3 times were traumatic in their own way.

Birth #1, I was 17 years old, and although I was well-researched, I was treated like an ignorant child, and basically was not offered the right to care for my birth and child the way that I wished. Even though I had gone into spontaneous natural labor right on time, I was still given Pitocin upon admission to the hospital, and shot up with every kind of medicine and painkiller on the market for laboring women. Once my beautiful baby girl arrived, I had been breastfeeding her, only to find out that my daughter was continuously being given formula while in the nursery, and I was told that she "needed" it. (Luckily, she went on to nurse for almost 15 months!) I was disrespected and treated like a child the entire hospital stay. I also felt like a trainwreck after all of the drugs they shot me up with while I was having a normal, healthy naturally progressing labor.

My second birth was all around a complete nightmire. I was 21 and induced a little past 41 weeks. I endured the powerful pitocin-induced contractions without pain medicine (I hated the way pain meds made me feel during my first birth, so I refused to go that route again), and laboring alone, with no friends or family by my side until the very end, when I was getting ready to push. My family was at work that day for most of the day, and would come and go to check on me, and the father of baby #2 and I were no longer together; I had a restraining order against him. While in hard labor, I was getting awful and cruel text messages from my absent ex-boyfriend and told I was lying and that I wasnt really in labor, he called me just so I could hear him cuss me out and  tell me "Have fun raising that baby alone", and I hear his parents in the background saying that I was a liar and not in labor (all while I'm standing in the hospital bathroom, over the toilet as my water is breaking) even though I was Overdue and Induced by appointment that he knew about a week in advance! He even sent his grandparents to go to the hospital to make sure I was really there. They popped their head in, saw me there hooked up to machines like a robot, but managed to make him think I wasn't really in labor. A few hours later, after only a 5 hour labor, I was ready to push out Bubu man, all while the hospital staff was yelling (yes, YELLING) at me NOT to push! His head was coming out, while I'm halfway standing/leaning across the bed, and my mom's obnoxious pop music ringtone was loudly going off incessantly. I was screaming and crying, and nobody would even hold my hand... It was the worst most terrible experience of my life. To this day, I experience anxiety just thinking about it.

Birth #3, we had planned to have a homebirth, but due to finances at the time, and also a few health risks I was experiencing back then, I was forced into a hospital birth. Nunu baby's labor was pleasant at first. I labored quietly and calmly at home for 6 hours while Blujay slept next to me. I bounced on the birthing ball, listened to music, focused on affirmations, it was nice. Finally the pressure in my abdomen increased until I could hardly stand or speak, so I woke Blujay up, and we decided to go to the hospital. My contractions were 3 to 4 minutes apart. Nuni was arriving right on time. THIS was going to be the perfect birth, or so I thought. I had a written up birth plan signed and notorized, ready for my file. I had read up on all the popular natural birth books. I had my affirmations in mind. It wasn't until we made it to the hospital that things took a turn for the worse. While in the hospital exam room, we were so excited that I was really finally in labor after nearly 2 weeks of prodromal labor! We were chatting and laughing together and then a sour-puss nurse decided to speak up about it, almost making me feel ridiculous for being so cheerful and not being the dead-serious-scared-shitless stereotype that you see in movies. As soon as that happened, my labor got harder and more painful. Then I decided to give the nurses and nurse-midwife (all whom I had never once met before) my birth plan. They didn't even look at it. They just explained that my birth would PROBABLY not go as planned, so I explained that there were some things that MUST go as planned, such as my right to refuse the shots that are given RIGHT after baby is born. I explained (and had it written) that I DO NOT CONSENT to pitocin being used during my labor, that I would prefer my baby's cord to stop pulsating before being clamped and cut, and that I wished to breastfeed him right after birth. That's when it all just hit the fan. Right there, while in hard labor, so hard that I could barely speak, I began to mercilessly be bullied by the hospital staff. When I first expressed my desires, there was one nurse and the midwife in the room. A few minutes later, my reasonable requests drew so much controversy that I was literally front and center in a room FULL of nurses and midwives who were arguing with my requests, pressing me on WHY (even though my reasons were plainly articulated in my signed and notorized birthplan) and they even illegally pressed me to tell them my religious beliefs, and went on to tell me that OTHERS in my religion have chosen to do the things I was refusing. I felt insulted, bullied, stressed, terrified, and to top it off, I was transitioning, and I had not yet even gotten into a birthing room, because they were too busy arguing with me in the exam room. All the while I was experiencing contractions on top of one another, throwing up on myself, and they did not even so much as offer a pan. My husband, who was a nervous first-timer with birth (this was my third birth, but his first) at first was too timid to say anything (my painful contractions had him pretty freaked out!), but he finally had enough. He told them to get me a pan, and get me into a room. All the while, while getting ready to move into a room, the midwives are telling me my baby will DIE without the post-birth injections (those of us in the natural birth community know this is absolutely a false generalization). I finally compromise with, "If I have a normal, healthy, uncomplicated labor, I prefer to let the cord pulsate and I refuse the Vit-K. However, on the offchance that my baby's life may be at risk, I will consent to the vit-k at birth, but I prefer the oral drops. I do not consent to the Hep-B."
From that point on, there was no going back. My labor was intense, painful, unbearable, and the entire time I felt as though I was experiencing panic. I would ask to go into the shower (no tub was available) to help relieve the pain, and we would have to fight tooth and nail just for THAT! They would argue that epidurals and IV meds were available for pain. =/ I was forced through several painful vaginal checks, and when I would ask to pass on them, I was guilted into the exam anyway. Luckily, my husband was there, and he was wonderful. He was coaching me through contractions, holding my hand, comforting me, massaging my back with dusting powder, kissing me through contractions. Finally, when it was time to push, I was forced onto my back, legs up and spread eagle with my most intimate parts in the faces of total strangers and student-nurses...and within minutes I was told (against all evidence) that my baby was at risk, and they began to threaten me with a c-section! THAT was not going to happen, so I pushed with all of my might, until veins were bursting in my face! I got my baby out literally seconds after they mentioned the c-word! I heard his cry, and before I even got to see his face, they told Blujay to immediately cut the cord, and they rushed my baby out the door to clean him, weigh him, and BATHE HIM, and I literally had to wait in agony and helplessness for 2 HOURS without even knowing what the face of my new baby looked like. They brought him to me finally, after waiting 2 hours, and let me hold him for 2 minutes, all the while, a room FULL of staff is STARING at me, so that I felt completely awkward and uncomfortable and they picked him up and told me they had to take him back for monitoring because he was "breathing funny" (don't worry, nothing was wrong and he was perfectly fine), so I never got to nurse him until a few more hours had passed. I was absoluetly beaten to the ground emotionally and mentally by this hospital staff. I forgot to mention, they pulled out the placenta (ouch!) as soon as my baby came out and when (surprise surprise! I started bleeding heavily, they ordered that they "Turn UP THE PITOCIN" that apparently was already connected to my IV!!! Yes, the pitocin that I said clearly, and put in signed and notorized writing that I did NOT consent to! I felt robbed, angry, vulnerable, anxious and in despair. The next day I asked if we could check out, and they forced us to stay an extra 2 days, their excuse being that they had to monitor my baby because he was "too big" (apparently 8 lbs 9 oz at almost 41 weeks is "dangerously big" and requires monitoring?!?!) So during those 3 days at the hospital, we had to fight to keep our baby with us (and sometimes being bullied into them taking him to the nursery against our will), CONTINOUSLY remind them that we did NOT want him circumcised when they would ask us about it everyday, we were reprimanded like children because I would let my baby sleep on me while nursing, instead of the plastic bassinet, and once or twice my husband had to chew them out for bathing and covering our baby in Johnson's Crap after we specifically told them that WE would bathe him, and that we brought our own Organic baby soap. If it weren't for my amazing husband and gorgeous little baby, it would have been a complete and total nightmare. After all of the dreaming and promising myself that birth #3 would be the ideal birth, I felt like a failure, as if a perfect, natural birth is beyond my reach.

Now, don't get me wrong. I LOVE birth! I am a natural birth advocate and I could give advice all day long to expectant mothers about natural birth. The idea of having another baby someday definitely makes me happy, and I hope to someday experience that beautiful birth that I have been so robbed of. But the anxiety that rises within me just at the very idea of my previous births is enough to make me want to shun the idea altogether. My husband has been wanting another baby the past few months, but two recent experiences have made me not even want to try.. I feel that my fear of birth goes beyond just an emotional or mental fear...

---TRIGGER ALERT--- *graphic details below*

Last summer, I experienced spotting, followed by a late period. We did not take a pregnancy test because we wanted to find out "naturally" if we were pregnant, and we were pretty sure we were. We didn't plan on it, yet we somewhat expected it, due to a "heat of the moment" occurance during a fertile day. We didn't entirely feel ready at the time since my husband had just started school and we were paying tuition, but we began to accept the idea, although we had not yet told anyone. Then one night, 2 weeks after my period was expected to come, my Blujay and I were cuddled on the couch watching a movie, and I started to experience labor-like cramping. It lasted for a while and it was very uncomfortable. Instinctually, I felt the sudden urge to run to the bathroom. Right as I got to the toilet, I suddenly began to bleed very heavily. I felt weak and dizzy and even felt like vomiting. I don't remember if I vomited or not, as everything was pretty much a blur. But within the next few hours of heavy bleeding, I felt a huge cramp and expelled a large blood clot. My mother in law happened to be visiting that day, and she expressed to me that she was sure I was having a miscarriage. Although we were not yet ready for another baby at that time, we had still begun to adjust to the idea, and it was still very painful to think that a baby of ours had died. I was bleeding quite heavily for a few hours, but just as we decided I should probably go to the hospital, the bleeding began to lighten. That July, we decided to name that baby Tye, since it was a gender-neutral name.
Then, a few months ago, in December, we had another very similar experience. Except this time, we took a pregnancy test which showed a very faint positive, and I stayed pregnant for about a week longer than the last time. We weren't trying to another, but we also weren't opposed to it. It was welcome news..  Then one afternoon, I felt the familiar cramping and began to bleed and feel dizzy and nauseus like the time beford. This time, when I expelled a large clot, there was a tiny flesh-colored (what we think to me an embryo) nestled within it, with a thin fleshy string ( what may have been an umbilical cord) attached. We said goodbye to the baby, and named him/her Skye.
I felt quite mournful after that last experience and felt incapable and hopeless. It was then we agreed not to try for a while for another baby. This felt like such a relief. No more opportunities to fail or to have broken dreams.

So you could see why I felt very reluctant when my husband began expressing once again that he wanted to get me pregnant. We practice the FAM method of birth control, meaning that I chart and track my fertility, and take special precautions during my fertile days. This means he knows exactly when I am fertile and ovulating. The past few months he had been asking 'permission' to make a baby, and I would remind him that we are waiting...

But something about his sincerity when he asked me for another baby as an anniversary gift, changed everything. This time, he wasn't being playful, it wasn't a hint. It was a genuine desire to create another life within the woman he loves.
My hubby is the perfect father and husband and I have no doubt at all that he is ready.
This year, our financial situation has dramatically improved, so we could afford to have the homebirth or birth center birth that I've always dreamed of, complete with whatever gentle-spoken midwife I choose, a doula, and a birth photographer. He promised me the perfect birth, a prepared and well-thought out birth. A 100% organic nursery. A nanny to help me out with housework and with Nuni. All of the newborn cloth diapers I can get my hands on. But still, I stayed up all night thinking about his request.

The day before our anniversary, my husband and I sat on the stairs, and he just held me while I cried in his arms about my fears and anxieties from my past experiences. He was completely understanding, and calmed my fears with his amazing comforting voice and his incomparable ability to say the perfect words to make everything better.

Our anniversary arrived, and so did my answer to him.
"We can try this month. If it doesn't happen, we will wait a little while."

My sweet hubby is so excited, and so hopeful that we've conceived again. In a few days we'll find out if his dream has come true. Every day he's been putting his hands on my tummy to send "love vibes" to the little soul that may or may not be nestled within me, the same way he did right before we found out about Nuni, and he so very much wanted to become a father.

As for me, I must admit that all of this baby talk with my husband has given me quite the case of baby fever. We are not officially TTC, but not TNTC. We're just going to let nature take it's course. We'll take precautions if we feel like it, and be less cautious if we feel like it.  But, I do feel that I have many hurdles to jump before I feel 100% prepared to give birth again. Whether we conceived or not, either way I will be completely happy.

OK, Signing off, as Nunu Baby is requesting my attention <3


Boheme Mom