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

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Baby's First World Record - Reflections of The Great Cloth Diaper Change Event

Nunu Baby ready for his diaper change at the Great Cloth Diaper Change Event!

Today, Nunu baby and I participated in his first Guiness World Record Event!! We attended the Great Cloth Diaper Change and MAN it was fun! I absolutely LOVED the vibe of being surrounded by like-minded parents! I loved all the babywearing mamas and papas, the other moms who were nursing right along with me, the babies crawling and toddling around with their amber necklaces on while wearing their cute fluffy colorful cloth diapers! Nunu baby (who usually stands out like a neon sign with all his "weird natural hippy baby stuff") was right in his element and absoluetly basking in all of the love and attention and fun! We won an awesome Babee Greens Organic Cotton/Hemp one-size fitted cloth diaper, a Boobie beanie, and that swag bag was awesome!  I could not believe how many moms and babies showed up to the event! From what I hear, there were 11 times more parents this year than the number that showed last year at that location!

I think back to when I first started cloth diapering my older son 4 years ago, and I literally did not know a single other cloth diapering parent. I felt "strange" and alone, with so many unanswered questions. Luckily, there was a wonderful online community, but it was definitely a headache sifting for hours through webpages trying to find the answers. The modern cloth diapering community seemed 'underground' and foreign to almost everyone I knew. But I loved it and I continued cloth diapering despite the odds. I made my share of mistakes and "cloth diapering no-nos" but learned and grew. I knew that I would be cloth diapering all of my children from that point on.

Today, as I am cloth diapering my youngest, I am so proud to say that I know MANY other cloth diapering parents, and the cloth diaper industry has absolutely BOOMED!

I feel geeky when I say this, but I get SO much joy from cloth diapering. It's more than just knowing that I'm keeping my baby healthy and away from harmful chemicals, or keeping 8,000 non-biodegradable and harmful diapers per YEAR out of the landfill, or saving $1500 a year on something that would literally be thrown in the trash...

To me, it's more of a collection! It's having the cutest fluff that absolutely makes me happy when I see my baby toddling around in them. It's not dreading diaper changes, but instead being excited to find cute diapers to match his outfits. It's trying out different brands and different types and experimenting with different combinations and washing routines, and acquiring as much info as I can so that I can pass my knowledge onto other moms who may feel lost and overwhelmed with the massive amounts of choices that modern cloth diapers offer today! Yes, I have a huge cloth diaper stash, and plenty of $ has been invested in our cloth diaper collection, but (unlike disposables, which literally turn $ into trash), I can continue to use these diapers through multiple children (I've already used some of the diapers in our stash through 2 children from birth to potty training) and even still get $ back when I am done cloth diapering babies, by reselling them! And years from now, once the cloth diapers have absolutely been used to their very last of their abilities, some of them can once again be reused around the house as rags!

I guess what I'm trying to say through all of this rambling is that it warms my heart to know that mother-by-mother, inspiration and information has been kindly spread so that an entire movement has grown to make healthier choices for our babies and toddlers, planting the seeds to seek healthier options in every aspect of our family's lives. I am absolutely thrilled that I no longer feel "alone" in this decision that I believe is one of the best decisions I've made as a parent. It is my hopes that within a few years, disposable diapers will be almost history, and cloth diapering will be the norm!

Boheme Mom

This is a picture of my "Rookie Stash" about a year ago. Many have been bought, and plenty sold and traded since this pic.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Safe, Natural, Cheap, Simple DIY deodorant

One of the biggest struggles of natural living can be finding a good, safe natural deodorant that actually WORKS! (If you choose to wear deodorant, that is lol) 
I've probably tried a dozen different brands of natural deodorant and ended up swearing I would never buy that brand again, usually because it would fail to work and end up leaving me smelling like a faintly-lavender smelling onion, but in some cases, I would smell worse after putting it on than I would if I wore no deodorant at all.
It has really been a struggle for my husband, who is a welder and spends long hours working in the heat. At times he would get so tempted to go out and buy "regular" deodorant. Luckily, he's a smart man and he knows the dangers of "regular" deodorants. Not only that, but even some of the natural deodorants we would buy had questionable ingredients in them.

What are the dangers of mainstream deodorants?
Well, first there are the dangerous chemicals such as Parabens, Aluminum, and Propylene Glycol.
Parabens are used as an anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and preservative.  However, Parabens in deodorant are also known to be directly associated with breast cancer due to the fact that parabens mimic the hormone estrogen and begin to accumulate within the human body without being broken down. Parabens can also disrupt the functions of your endocrine system and lead to early puberty, and fertility problems for both men and women.
Aluminum is used as an antiperspirant and can cause a variety of health problems such as neurological damage linked to Alzheimers disease, Parkinsons disease, glucose intolerance, osteomalacia, anemia, and others. Also, anti-perspirants prevent your body from sweating. Sweating, especially from under the arms, is naturally our body's way of releasing toxins and wastes. If you are preventing that, then the toxins will begin to accumulate into your body.
Propylene Glycol is found in not only mainstream deodorants, but can be found in natural deodorants as well. This mineral oil is the ingredient found in antifreeze. It can disrupt metabolic function and cause abnormalities in the heart, liver and kidneys, and lead to various diseases. It enters the skin very quickly and can cause irritation and dryness.

Obviously these are dangers that you would want to avoid.
There's no question that body odor is usually unpleasant, but I would say that the cancers and diseases caused by mainstream deodorants would be much more unpleasant in the long run.
Now before heading out to Whole Foods and spending way too much on overpriced natural deodorants that will probably make you smell like Woodstock, consider this cheap, easy, quick, safe and natural deodorant recipe that my family and I have been using.

Here are the ingredients... go ahead...get a pen and paper and write this down because you won't want to forget....

-Coconut Oil
-Baking Soda

That's right. Those are the only 2 ingredients. Just one jar of coconut oil (priced at about $5-$10, depending on where and what kind you buy) and one box of baking soda (about 50 cents) will be enough EFFECTIVE natural deodorant to last your family for several months!

How does this work??

Among it's many benefits and uses, Coconut oil is an anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. It also soothes and softens the skin. This makes Coconut oil a perfect candidate for use as a deodorant. Virgin coconut oil has it's own pleasant naturally tropical scent, but you can also buy refined coconut oil, which does not have a scent. Many people use coconut oil on it's own as a deodorant. However,  I've found that adding baking soda, which is a known stink-killer, can keep you smelling fresh all day with no hint of odor!
My husband, the big manly welder who works all day sweating in the sun, came home after his first time of using the coconut oil/ baking soda recipe which he applied the night before and he could not believe how well it worked! There was absolutely no hint of body odor. That is the ultimate test that affirmed that this recipe really works!

What I usually do is scoop out a little bit of coconut oil and put it into the palm of my hand, sprinkle a bit of baking soda on top, mix it with a finger and apply. But here's another idea to make it easier to apply your deodorant:

DIY Deodorant Stick:

-Coconut oil is usually a solid at room temperate, so you'll want to first melt the coconut oil. You can do this by leaving it outside if the weather is warm, or running the jar (with a closed lid!) under warm water. I don't advise putting it on the stove or microwave as high heat can make it less effective.
-Pre-mix your coconut oil with the baking soda in a cup or bowl.
-You can re-use an empty deodorant container. Just screw down the plastic part to the bottom.
-Pour the coconut oil mixture into the deodorant container.
-Put it in the fridge or a cool dry place to harden.

Now you have a home-made stick of deodorant!!

If you want, while mixing, you can add 2 more optional ingredients:
-Cornstarch or Arrowroot powder (to make firmer)
-Essential Oils of your choice (for scent)

Now you can be Natural AND stink-free! While saving $! Does it get any better than that?

Note: When making the switch from mainstream commercial deodorants to natural deodorant, your body MAY respond by producing excess sweat and/or odor. This is because your body is used to trying to overproduce these reactions that were being blocked by the antiperspirant. Don't worry, this is only a transition period. The longer you use it, the better it will work for you. Within a few days your body will get back into the swing of things and will begin to perspire less and naturally create less odor.  Do not give up on natural deodorants in the first few days. Just remember that it's all worth it!

Boheme Mom