Saturday, February 26, 2011

Diaper Free Baby! Elimination Communication

I'm potty training, or potty learning my 8 month old.  Sounds absurd, right?  Trying to get an infant to be diaper free?  How does it work?? 

It's actually pretty common outside the Western world, as diapers are either considered a luxury or  something that is more work in the long run.

I'm more aware of her bathroom habits now that she is a bit older and not going to the bathroom 24/7. I try to read her cues, and I know when she goes to the bathroom: right after she wakes up, and about every 45 minutes thereafter.  When it's time to go, I set her on her potty or the big toilet, make a potty sound, sign 'potty' and then tell her to go potty.

On average, she uses the potty about 85% of the time I put her on it.  She also pees about 75% of the time when I change her diaper, so if we're not in a hurry, I'll set her on her potty and she goes.  She doesn't like to wet herself (who does, right?) so she will 'save it' for diaper changes when she is diaper free.

I normally set her on her little Bjorn potty about twice a day.  I do let her go diaper free for periods of time during the day, but that is more for her enjoyment than practicing elimination communication.

I've been pretty lazy about it, and we keep our house at a frigid temperature, and India is normally pretty bundled up.  Also, the busier I am, the less she uses the potty.  In December, we had several days where she didn't wet her diaper once while she was awake!  Mommy was very vigilant those days!

I don't have any specific goals as far as when I would like to see India diaper free, but I know that elimination communication does work and we are just enjoying it casually right now! 

She is SO proud of herself when she uses the potty!   And I am proud of her whether she uses her potty or she soils her pants.  I just love her that much!
Not even 5 months old, and practicing elimination communication! December 2010


Friday, February 25, 2011


Every day, when the school bus dropped my sister and I off at home after school, we made a mad dash into the house to stake our claim on the best TV in the house: the living room TV.  The other TV, in my parent's bedroom, was small and wasn't near the kitchen and all the activities of the house.

I normally won, because I would get off the bus first, I was faster than her, and I was (am) meaner and bossier as the oldest.  She wanted to watch this show:

If I remember right, this segment of dancing sheep actually scared my sister. ;-)

OK, I confess that I watched more than my share of Sesame Street too when I was younger. 

Anyone remember Ladybug Picnic?

As I got older, this is the show that got me racing off the bus, to claim the 'good' TV.

I loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Especially the Party Dude, Michaelangelo.

I know, I thought I was half boy. 

As far as Saturday morning cartoons, I enjoyed Garfield, but I LOVED this guy:

Until my Mom banned him from the house after I walked around for weeks, maybe months or years saying "I know you are but what am I?" in Pee Wee's obnoxious voice, which was very different than his nasal voice or his serious voice or his whiny voice.

Quite the charming kid I was.  And it didn't end there.  In High School, I got Pee Wee's Big Adventure on VHS and memorized most of it.  I can't wait to watch it with India someday.

I grew up in the TGIF era.  Friday nights had THE BEST TV shows!  At the pinnacle of TGIF was the ever-popular....... Full House.
Every girl had a crush on Uncle Jesse, cheered for D.J. and all her teen angst, laughed at Stephanie's quips and had their hearts melted at Michelle's cuteness.  We even enjoyed Kimmy Gibbler. 

I also watched some Perfect Strangers, Family Matters, Step By Step and Home Improvement

But one of my favorite TV characters, and I don't mean TV show, but character, was on this show.

Boy Meets World.
Does anyone remember that show?
I only watched this show for the first season or two, and I LOVED this girl .... Topanga.

She was a hippie, very unique and had a weirder name than I.  I could identify with her.  After a season or two, she became too normal, the show got filled with teenage-ery love crap, and I was finished.  Remember, I was a tomboy??

What TV shows did you enjoy as a kid?  Have you ever watched re-runs of them now?

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Why I think it's OK to be an older mom

I'm an old (er) mom.  Not that old, but for the community I live in, to have your first child when you're 28 is a pretty rare thing (I'm 29 now). Most in our small town get married and have children at a young age.

I planned on doing that too as I thought "that's just what happens next"!  I got married a month shy of my 20th birthday, and purposed to start having babies about two years after we were married. 

Right before our two year anniversary, we moved away and joined a mission organization, and all plans for kids went WAY on the back burner.  When we'd visit home some people couldn't believe that we didn't have kids.  When we were back in the city, people couldn't believe that we knew people who were married and done having kids by the time they were 25.  Both parties could not understand the other.

When we were on the mission field, we were surrounded by dozens of other couples our age, who put parenthood on a stop to finish their education, enjoy time as a couple and most often, to engage in mission work.  With the work we were doing, it would've been tough to have kids, and our role of service would've drastically changed and surely lessened. 

There are many great things about being a younger mom, I don't mean to discount those, but I want to highlight some of the reasons I like being an older mom.

1. My husband and I enjoyed each other and the world.  For over 7 years, we got to do things that you  read about in National Geographic magazine.  We were young, ambitious, no health problems, nothing holding us down, no debt, no house, and had willing hearts.  To say we thoroughly enjoyed those years of full time ministry together would be an understatement. Yes, there were times when we wanted to have kids, and when we would come home we faced a lot of pressure.  But there were also times when we seriously considered not having children and spending our lives in uninhibited service instead.

 Of course, kids play a valid role in ministry, but we couldn't have done all that we did with children.  Would I be happy if I had just had kids right away?  Probably, because I wouldn't have known any different. We have seen and been a part of some incredible things, and it has greatly formed how we see the world and how we will raise our daughter. 

2. I had time to think about how we want to raise our children.  I was the first of my friends to get married, and they got to watch and learn about marriage through my failures and successes.  Now, being one of the last to have kids, I have learned from them.   

We also have met thousands of children along the way, and watching how they respond to people, their parents and God, influenced our decision to parent the way we do.  Dallas and I would look for kids who responded not out of obedience, because lots of Christian kids respond in obedience out of fear of consequences or judgment, but for those who responded from the overflow of their heart and when no one was watching. We saw great fruit from families who practiced natural or attachment parenting and seek to emulate how we have seen our friends interact their children. 

3. I try to enjoy every moment and try not to stress. :-)  Several friends told me that I don't seem stressed when things don't go as planned with India (ha, they don't see me when she poops her diaper, her pants, her shirt, her socks, her shoes, right as we are leaving for church).  Someone else mentioned that it's nice to see that I don't treat India as an inconvenience or something that 'needs to be quickly taken care of' so I can go off and do my thing.  That's very easy for me to do, as I had plenty of time to go off and do my own thing and I'm happy in Momville, surrounded by my baby 24 hours a day.  :-)  That may be harder for an unwed mother to say or hard for the young married couple working minimum wage with bills surpassing their income.  I don't pass judgment on those situations; they have burdens to carry that I know nothing of, but I think "being ready" does make a difference.  I have watched friends struggle with infertility and some lose their children, all experiences which make me thankful for every screaming moment.  For us, after 8 years of marriage we decided we were ready to have a baby.  We were at a good spot in our lives to introduce a child and are cherishing every moment. 

Are you an older or younger mom?  Do you sometimes wish that you were the opposite or are you happy with your decision?

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: My Little Snow Bunny

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

That dreaded pregnancy ailment

You might be wondering what I'm gong to write about.

Swollen sausage feet?  Good one, but nope.

Overactive bladder?  Nah.

Hormonal crazy mama?  That is bad, but nopers.

Nausea?  Not that one either!

I'm talking about and documenting in hopes of helping others, one of the worst symptoms I experienced during my pregnancy.  It was worse than my edema, more horrible than the crazy preggo hormones and believe it or not, worse than the 10 months of daily nausea. 

Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy, also known as PUPPP, or hell.  It's not that common, but once you're had it, you know how ridiculous it is.

I started getting PUPPP about a week before my daughter India was born.  The best way I can describe it is an incredible urge to tear off your skin, as you scratch yourself silly hoping that the scratching will stop the itching, but in reality, you are only making it worse.
PUPPP.  Ouch.
Several people have said that if you can survive PUPPP, you can survive natural childbirth.

Most of it's victims are first time moms, pregnant with boys and many are pregnant with multiples.  (In case you didn't know, I only had one baby, and it was a girl.)  No one has a for sure cause of this miserable condition, although threre is a lot of talk about the liver and cleansing. 

Another sad part about PUPPP is that there isn't really a cure in the medical realm (stay tuned to read about the cure I found), except delivery.  Childbirth works for most people, but some initially develop PUPPP in the postpartum period, or continue to feel it's effects for several weeks after delivery (like me).

The onset of PUPPP was quick; I went from a tiny little itch on my belly, to crying on my bed, having hot flashes as I writhed and rocked to prevent myself from scratching.  I took several yards of fabric and wrapped them super tight around my belly, hoping to cut off some of the feeling.  I was also hoping that when I gave into the urge to scratch all the layers of fabric would prevent me from clawing so hard.  I scratched until I bled anyway.  It was awful. 

I tried Benadryl and calamine lotion, hot showers and cold showers and good old sun therapy.  Clothing irritated me to no end.  I worked so hard to not scratch.  My body was sending signals to my brain to "scratch! scratch!" and if I ignored those signals I felt like I was going insane.  I was ignoring this constant, nagging instinct and was starting to become emotionally and mentally unstable, fighting all day long to stop the pain.  My sweet husband even took time off of work because he was very concerned.

I googled and read in between itching and crying, and wrapping myself up so I wouldn't scratch.  I became more and more depressed as I read horror stories of women dealing with this for weeks, sometimes months, with nothing but an antihistamine and some anti-itch gel from their doctor, which got them relief for a few minutes.  Some woman had permanent scars from tearing their skin as they scratched.  One woman took a steel brush to it until she was raw.  I understood that.  I wanted to cut my skin off.

Many women I read about convinced doctors to induce labor or do a c-section to relieve the PUPPP.  I also did some calling around, and received the same answers: delivery is the only cure.  I was stuck in my miserable state.

But I won't take no for an answer, and as I started looking for a natural remedy for PUPPP, I heard of Grandpa's Pine Tar Soap, which most people have good results with, but I didn't want to wait for it to be shipped to me.  Then I found something that everyone praised, not just as a suppressor of symptoms, but as something that would take away the PUPPP: dandelion root. 

*cue Hallelujah chorus*

I found out that dandelion root is safe to take during pregnancy and how much to take and quickly got in my car and purchased dandelion root in capsule form from my local health food store.  I took 1000mg, three times a day.  It took two days for it to kick in, but OH.THE.BLISS!!!  I cannot describe how good it felt!  It took a full week for it to get to the point where I barely noticed it.  I also upped my daily drinking of nettle leaf tea.
Starting to get better!
You could say that I am a lover of dandelion root! :-) 

I struggled with PUPPP somewhat after India was born, and I had stopped taking the dandelion root, but it was nothing compared to what I had dealt with before.

If you or someone you know is struggling with PUPPP, don't hesitate to get some dandelion root.  You'll be very glad that you did!

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

I think we've got it all backwards

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"

And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 

"Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven".

Matthew 18:1-4

Before you begin reading, go and read those verses up above.  I know you skipped them, because you've probably read them 100 times, as have I.  But go read them again. ;-)

I've been thinking of what it means to become like a child and to have faith like a child.  I don't know all of the theology about it, but here is what I do know, based on watching my daughter interact with both animate and inanimate objects.

- She trusts.  She has no reason not to.  We answer her cries and listen when she needs something.  Not like I, who has learned not to trust.  She hasn't really been let down.
- Her favorite toys are the simple things that bore me; the light, the wooden spoon, the empty bottle, her shadow.  She doesn't need fancy, she doesn't need to be impressed. She is in awe of all creation. 
- She communicates clearly.  Anyone who knows my daughter knows what she wants and when.  
- She is truthful, and doesn't manipulate.  She doesn't mince words like I do, either to pad things up or to tear down viciously.
- She loves to be nekkid and loves to be loud.  And nekkid AND loud, that is her dream come true! She is proud of who she is, not embarrassed. She is so proud of everything about herself.
- Nothing is too dangerous for her.  She isn't bound by fear and full of 'what if' questions, like I.
- She doesn't judge the outside.  If you are dirty, smelly, or wear the 'wrong' clothes, she doesn't care.  She sees a real person.  She has no prejudice. 
- She takes time to do what she wants to do, or what she thinks needs to be done.  She isn't confined by a clock or a to-do list.
- She laughs and smiles at herself, at her toys, at us, at strangers.  Joy and confidence ooze from her.
- She is dependent on us for everything and isn't embarrassed to cry for help.  Different cries mean different things; hunger, boredom, curiosity, tired, scared. 
- She isn't afraid to cry, to break down, or let people see the 'ugly' side of her.  I hide all of those aspects of me as I'm ashamed.

I often think that I have things right spiritually.  Or I look at people I respect and admire and wish for their faith. 

No doubt, my daughter has a sin nature, I'm not disputing that fact, but I think we have it all wrong. Even backwards. 

"Grow up!"
"Stop acting like such a baby."
"Quit your crying or I'll give you something to cry about."
"You're such a child!"
"When are you going to act your age?"
"Children should be seen and not heard."
"Stop being such a foolish child!"

I think it's time for me to consciously enjoy the little things, be bold, laugh at fear, smile at strangers, trust, communicate honestly, ask for help from others, be dependent on God, and be not afraid of who I was created to be.

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

You're going where? Afghanistan?!?! Part 1

This was the response from a lot of people when we told everyone that we were going to Afghanistan in the fall of 2004.  We didn't think it was that strange of a thing, being that we had many friends who had been there, and several other countries that are deemed even worse than Afghanistan.

When people hear how many countries we've been to, and what sort of work we used to do, they often ask what our favorite country is.  Without a doubt, my favorite country that we've ever been to is Afghanistan. 

It is raw, it is the ugly truth, it is corrupt, it is 'backwards', it is abusive, it is destitute, it is full of lies, it is full of death.  Those are all the things we 'know' about Afghanistan. 

I would move there in a heartbeat. I love this country.

But I also know a different side.

Afghanistan is also beautiful. Full of life. 

We also have a lot to learn from Afghanistan; mostly her people. It's full of loyal people, who want to dance, express themselves and are curious. 
There is hope.  I love the slowness of life, the community, the fierce protection of customs, the simplicity.
 The value of relationship and focus on person and not your own schedule or agenda is precious.  The Afghans believe God has something to do with every aspect of their life.

I want to share just a small bit about Afghanistan and my love for this country and her people.  My heart is overwhelmed with love for this land. 

There are nights when I can't sleep because memories and questions about people that I love that live there, play through my head.  I want to know how they are doing.

Dallas' days were filled with teaching English at the United Nations.  I spent my days teaching computer courses to Afghan women, learning Dari, teaching English, and doing some data entry.  We all spent our nights in our homes, bound by a 5:00pm curfew, stricenforced for our safety.

War has ripped this land to shreds. 
Decades of war have left fields full of abandoned tanks, that children use as playgrounds.

Every single person has lost at the very least one family member because of the war.  Every single person. 

Kidnapped by the Taliban.   
Stepped on a land mine. 
'Lost' on a trip to a nearby city. 
Killed by a US bomb or missile.
Every single person has lost at the very least one family member, not war-related.  Every single person.

Unclean drinking water. 
A woman burns herself alive to commit suicide. 
A child has a simple disease that eventually kills him. 
She only needed a c-section.
My pregnant friend.  Her baby died girl while we were there, and according to what I could translate it was shoulder distochia. The hospital was atrocious and it broke my heart to watch her mourn, while no one else was upset because 'it was only a girl' and amidst other women giving birth in that hospital.
Every single person has someone in their family that is dealing with a major physical ailment.

Fistula after childbirth.
Loss of limbs from a land mine.
Burn scars.
A limp from an abusive husband.
Every single person has experienced major trauma.

Loss of a child.
Bride stealing.
Loss of basic dignity that every person deserves.

 Every single person is affected by many of these tragedies.  When I think my life is rough, I remember theirs.
 I didn't write the stories down when I was in Afghanistan because I was so used to hearing them. From every person.

It can be harrowing and disheartening listening to the stories.  But you do learn how to let it empower you, but yet not control your emotions.

Sometimes.  But sometimes not.
My husband's friend, Jaweed, told us the story of his first wife.  They were betrothed in marriage when she was around 8 and he was maybe 12 (people don't often know their age in Afghanistan as they don't keep track of birthdays).  When she was about 10 they were officially married.  We met her when she was 14 or so and he was maybe 18 or 19.  He was very unhappy with his wife.  When we asked him why, he said it was because she had killed their firstborn child, a son. 

To be continued ....
*the story of Jaweed's wife
*the suicide bomb and safety
*the average woman's life in Afghanistan

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Baby led apples and sweet potatoes!

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Monday, February 14, 2011

Jealous on Valentine's Day

It's easy to be jealous on Valentine's Day.  I know I am finding myself wanting every holiday.

Whether you are single, dating, married or widowed, it's very easy to succumb to our human tendency towards covetousness.

When you hear about the billions of dollars Americans spend annually on Valentine's Day and hear how a man spends on average over $100 on this day, sometimes it's hard not to ask "Why not me?" and "Don't I deserve the best?"

I even found myself wishing selfishly for something today, momentarily forgetting that my husband and I don't normally buy each other gifts (let's admit, most Valentine's gifts are frivolous) in order to bless others and live not in excess.  We try to follow those rules mostly, but don't worry, we aren't legalistic about it.

But there is something in me that still wants things and at the same time battles with my convictions. 

It's not that I'm not worth celebrating; it's just that we've seen too many atrocities. People dying of starvation, kids that have been maimed by their own parents, boys held as sexual slaves in monasteries, girls exploited by foreign tourists, families digging through trash and landfills to feed their children, girls as young as six years old being married off, and people devastated by the dirty water that wreaks calamity in their community. 

And these things aren't just abroad, they are right next door to us.

After seeing all that, it's still hard, all these years later to justify fancy chocolate and flowers.

I've decided that today, instead of desiring things, I will choose to be grateful, for a husband, who loves me no matter how many days I forgo shaving my legs in the winter, and who exhibits gracious love to me every day of the year.  I will be thankful he is the same behind closed doors and encourages me to live for a greater purpose that will last longer than any gift.  I will be grateful that he chooses to give to those who really need gifts, and couldn't care less about earthly possessions.  I will be grateful that he doesn't raise his voice at me ever and he respects me. 

Tonight we'll eat leftover pizza and celebrate our love with gratefulness and will hopefully be able to bless others, not out of obligation or guilt, but out of genuine belief and love. 

Isn't that the reason for it all anyway?

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Saturday, February 12, 2011

We use cloth everything (almost)!

We don't use paper and/or disposable products in our house.  *gasp!*  Paper napkins, paper towels, paper plates, disposable diapers, disposable pads ad tampons, disposable wipes are some of the things that haven't been added to my grocery list in a while.

For me as a Christian, it is a conviction that I have to take care of God's creation, which includes my body and the environment, and avoid frivolous spending as much as possible.

Most of us spend more money on items that literally become garbage than we donate to stopping sex trafficking, landfills are overflowing, and some of the chemicals used to make these products cause not only a lot of waste, but are not good for our bodies.

My journey with cloth began when I sewed cloth napkins out of remnants at the fabric store for us to use about 3 years ago.  We have about 20 cloth napkins that we use regularly, and still look brand new.  From there I decided it was time to eliminate paper towels.  Last year at this time, my goal was to use 1 roll of paper towels a year.  It's been one year, and I still have about a half roll left! 

It was around that time that I heard of Mama Cloth and ended up making my own.  My friend Annalise blogged about it perfectly from her postpartum perspective using them on Day 1 and then again on Day 5.  I used disposable pads the hospital provided for the first few days after having India because I was nervous about having more laundry, but the disposable pads left me very uncomfortable, and I quickly switched to cloth once I was home.  Relief is all I will say!

I blogged about my journey with cloth diapers and wipes (mostly homemade from scraps and remnants) here and we don't use disposable plates, silverware, cups, etc if we can help it.  Of course, when we are guests with other people we use (and eat) whatever is set before us! :-)

We don't use family cloth, although I know a lot of people absolutely love it.  My husband asked me when and if we are switching to family cloth, but I think we're going to let that one be for a while.  :-)

We are saving hundreds of dollars right now by using cloth as much as possible.  It's not all about saving money, we are lessening our trash and using products with less chemical residues.

I'm not sharing all this to pat myself on the back.  I mention this to share how easy it really is. I know it is intimidating.  I remember wanting to grab a paper towel when I spilled something or to clean something because I was intimidated.

I never would have guessed that years ago I would use so much cloth, as I was all about convenience, but my perspectives have changed greatly over the years as I've read and researched.  I've also seen way too many people who would love to have what we call garbage, making it very hard for me to waste.

What do you use cloth for?  Have you ever considered using more cloth items?  What worries you about cloth products?

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Blog Changes (I'm quite proud)!

I've spent most of today doing some changes with my blog.  Lots of new fonts, some editing, a new header (took a picture of Little Miss India holding a notebook page I had written on), a SIGNATURE and even a 'Grab my Button' button!  And a ways back, I bought my own URL, so I'm officially! I'm very proud of myself for figuring it all out today! You should see me smiling right now! Haha, but maybe you didn't even notice that anything changed. :-)

It was a lot to do in one day, for me, as I am NOT proficient in HTML, but thank God for tutorials, patience and a little fire under me.  I plan to make and add more things in the time to come, as some of the waiting lists for custom blog designs are months long! 

I was sick of my other header, and I have an opportunity to be a part of blog network in the upcoming months, or maybe year.  I submitted my blog a ways back on this popular site, never guessing I would be picked.  Some people wait years and apply and re-apply to be a part of this blog network, but to my surprise, they accepted me, and I am now on the waiting list!  I'm very excited!

I also hope to venture into the world of ....

... wait for it ....

... product reviews and giveaways!

I'm excited for what is next for my blog!  Thanks for reading and encouraging me!  Oh, and don't forget to share my button on your blog!

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: 1 Sunday + 3 Grandmas = FUN

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

India Josephine's birth story

How I WISH I was one of those women who go to the hospital, talking and joking and having light contractions every 10 minutes and find out they are 6 cm dilated. I hate women like that. Maybe not hate. Maybe hate. They talk about how labor wasn’t that bad, how it didn’t hurt until they were 7 or 8cm. How I WISH I was one of those women that went to a doctor appointment and found out that I was dilated to a full 4cm! How I WISH that I was one of those women that only have to suffer through 4 hours of intense contractions, and then they have a baby in their arms. How I WISH I was one of those women who have light contractions, and then suddenly, they are 3cm dilated. I am not one of those women. I am the very opposite of that.

This is my story of the birth of my daughter, India Josephine.

I wanted my baby to be born on July 7, 2010, so it would have the birth date of 7/7/10. I come from a long line of females for labor intensively for over 24 hours with their first child, so when July 6th arrived, I knew that wasn’t probably going to happen.

On Wednesday, July 7th, I was pretty down, hot, could barely walk as my hips were literally turning out of socket and in lots of pain from that. I had been having contractions. I decided to go to church and help my husband with youth group that evening in spite of feeling awful. We knew it was going to be a small group, so we were going to take it easy and take the kids to a local ice cream joint. While we were there, I felt it.

It. My water started leaking.

At about 7pm, I went to the bathroom, walking slowly, because I was petrified there was going to be an explosive gush, like in the movies, and I would permanently scar all the youth group kids. I even brought my water bottle with me to the bathroom, in case I needed to ‘accidently’ drop it if there was the gush I was so fearful of. When I got things under control in the bathroom, I texted Dallas from there, knowing I couldn’t talk to him with all the kids around. As I walked back to the table they were sitting at, he calmly told everyone we should head back to the church and finish talking there.

Several girls rode in my car on the way back to the church. We sang the song on the radio, and I couldn’t even sing the right words because I was so preoccupied! The girls laughed pretty hard.

Soon after I dropped the girls off at church, I went home and began packing. I had been having contractions all day, but that wasn’t anything that spectacular. As soon as my water broke I started cramping and contractions were about 4-5 minutes apart.

I started installing the baby’s car seat in between contractions, while I was fuming mad that it hadn’t been installed weeks earlier like I had been asking. Suddenly, some neighbors stopped on their leisurely stroll, wanting to chat. I was in no mood, and as kindly as I could, ended the conversation and went back to wrestling with the car seat, in the heat, in between contractions, cussing under my breath.

Dallas soon joined me at home, cleaning the house, packing and doing all the things I had asked him to do the weeks before but he had procrastinated on. :-) I smile about it now, but I was not happy about it.

At 9:30pm, I began lightly shaking in between contractions at this point. I texted my doula, Crystal telling her what was happening and that if she had time, she could call me back. No biggie. She called me back, and I spent most of the conversation trying to tell her that it was probably nothing and that quite often a woman’s water will break, but she won’t go into labor for days.

I was sure that was me. I was also in denial of all the contractions I was experiencing.

I finally showered, and around 11:00 or 11:30pm, decided to go to bed, “just in case”. I couldn’t rest because the contractions were starting to get painful. At this point I was kicking myself for not going to bed at 8pm.

By 2am, I could no longer be quiet during contractions, and woke Dallas up with my moaning and pacing. Contractions were averaging about 3 minutes apart and about 1 minute long at this point. I also started vomiting and shaking in between contractions. And once the vomiting was done, it turned to dry heaves. I kept trying to drink water to stay hydrated, but if I took a little sip, I paid for it violently. I wasn’t resting at all in between contractions because I was either vomiting or shaking. I barely talked much from this point on.

At 3:45am, I texted my doula Crystal (it took me several contractions to just get a little text out) and told her my current status. Crystal called me and I remember trying to fake it through a contraction, but ended up throwing my phone down on my bed and walking into another room and moaning through it so she wouldn’t hear me. I was trying to be very tough. I didn’t want anyone to know that I was in pain, already. We decided I would contact her in 20 minutes and update her. Contractions were about 2 minutes apart, and almost 1 minute long.

I don’t remember a lot of details very clearly after this, so the rest of this is a compilation of my memories, my doula’s account and my husband’s memory and notes.

At 4:20am, Dallas called Crystal and told her that I was requesting her. Crystal said that when she arrived I was moaning through contractions, but my appearance was strong and powerful. She noticed the shaking and unfortunately, she saw and heard a lot of the puking.

We decided to head to the hospital, which was about 45 minutes away. It took me a while to even get up and even longer to go down the two steps outside my house. My goal was to labor at home as long as I could, and head to the hospital when things were getting close.

Little did I know, I was nowhere near close, even though my contractions were 1 and a half minutes apart and about 1 minute long. I was dreading the ride to the hospital, and rightfully so.

Dallas drove 80 mph, according to my doula, and I breathed and puked and shook and prayed the whole way there. Since I felt better stretching and being upright during contractions, at one point I had thoughts of opening the car door so I could stretch my legs out. I think I even tried to do it and Dallas stopped me. Good thing, because I would’ve probably jumped out of our fast-moving car; I was desperate to stretch and relax.

Puking at home, in the car, in the parking lot and outside the emergency room door, left me exhausted and delirious.

Had I been exhibiting signs of transition?  Nausea, vomiting, shaking, hot/cold changes, fatigue, restless, unable to communicate, contractions less than 2-3 minutes apart, and I had also had to back-to-back contractions.

You can imagine my surprise when I arrived at the hospital around 6am, and was checked for dilation.

Not even at 2cm. I kept my head about me, and didn’t let it get to me too much. When they briefly hooked me up to the contraction monitor, my contractions were nice and hot, and we had only just begun.

The first nurse I had I wanted to punch in the face.  Or the vagina or something.  She was in my face and insistent that I shouldn't close my eyes through contractions and needed to pick a focal point.  "I have my damn focal point and it's getting you and your stanky breath out of my face!" I thought. Thankfully, her shift ended and I got a calm, respectful, quiet nurse that just sat and let me labor.

The nurse offered me a relaxant, I said no, even though I would’ve killed for any relief at that point. I considered myself well-suited for natural childbirth. I've had several abscessed teeth, and had a tooth that broke in half while I was eating and exposed the nerve and we couldn’t afford to fix it so I lived in delirious amounts of pain for 2 weeks. I also had an illness where parts of my skin had died, fallen off, yes fallen OFF and developed wet gangrene. Very painful. They say childbirth is the most painful experience in the world, and I would have to agree.  But it was also AMAZING.

My midwife would appear silently, supporting me with her quiet strength, letting me labor in peace. I also had a great nurse (once the night shift nurse left – Praise God!) who just let me be. At some point, someone suggested I go in the bathtub because I asked about pain meds. I agreed, but was out within a couple of contractions because I felt too confined and I couldn’t stand during my contractions. I later went into the big birthing tub, but for some reason at that point I didn’t enjoy that either.

They checked me again at 9:10am, and I was finally at two centimeters. The next bit of time I remember very clearly because I had a LOT of emotion packed into it! I was upset that after 3 intense hours of contractions, puking and constant shaking, I hadn’t really progressed. Everyone kept telling me to just relax and let my body work, and I was getting pissed. I was as excited about this as I could be: I had been anticipating labor and birth – all of it – for a long time. I had memorized verses, was praying constantly, and watch so many videos on natural childbirth. If anyone wanted to relax and enjoy this, it was me. I was as relaxed as I could be for being in labor. I had a great husband, doula, and midwife and was in a hospital with my midwife who is well-known for little to no interventions. I didn’t appreciate these comments, because I was doing all I could, it’s just that my body had taken over. I had been envisioning all the things you are supposed to – your cervix gently opening, your new baby, but nothing would stop the involuntary shaking.

For about 12 hours, nearly every muscle in my body was tight and tense, and I couldn’t do a dang thing about it.

God gave women breaks in between contractions to catch their breath, to rest and maybe to help keep their sanity. I didn’t have breaks because as soon as a contraction would peak, the shaking would start, followed by vomiting. The shaking would slow down, just as the next contraction would hit me. It was my warning sign that I was about to get hit with a wave again.  My body would not relax no matter how much I told it to or used mental imagery or prayer. I was clearly remembering the muscle relaxant that the nurse had offered me initially.

I asked my midwife if I should take the relaxant, and she thought I should consider because I wasn’t able to rest in between contractions, and that was when my cervix was supposed to be opening.

Dallas, who was such a great and supportive partner, was trying every distraction technique to keep me away from that muscle relaxant. Before going into labor, I had made him promise that he wouldn’t let me take anything during labor. I could barely talk, because I couldn’t catch my breath, but I told Dallas VERY FIRMLY that I was deciding, and that I was going to take that relaxant!

I argued with him that maybe I was like the long lineage of females in my family, who just don’t dilate until over 30 hours of labor, and then they finally do because of taking pain medications. I remembered my sister didn’t have any strength to push after laboring for so long, and was threatened with a c-section if she didn’t take medication. I didn’t know how long the hospital would let me labor for and if they would push a c-section, something that I greatly dreaded.

I took the muscle relaxant at 9:30am. They told me that in 10 minutes I’ll notice it. I don’t know what I was supposed to notice, because after 20 minutes, I was still shaking. But slowly, the shaking and vomiting stopped!!! I was able to relax and catch my breath in between contractions!! It was amazing!  Labor was now manageable because I could finally breathe!

Stupidly, I thought that because I took it, I would feel less pain. That didn’t happen. At all. Just when I thought my body was going to get a break, things got worse. My contractions went full force now, making up for lost time, because my body was able to relax and begin to dilate.

By 10am I was dilated to 3cm! Dallas and I cheered! I was actually resting in between contractions! That was a miracle and my resolve was strengthened, even if I couldn’t outwardly show it! I remember thinking how unfair it was that some women were dilated this far without even knowing, and I had painstakingly worked for this for many hours.

My contractions intensified as I dilated quickly, and spent time rubbing my lower back, but those contractions as tough as they were, so painful you can’t even breathe or make any noise, I would take 10 hours of those over 1 hour of the previous contractions I had been having! Dallas cried through several of my contractions. I was in too much pain to cry, but SO thankful to have a break between contractions.

By the next exam, around 11:30am, I was dilated to 8cm, and ready to go back in the big tub to give birth, in a little over 2 hours! That was the last time I was checked. We were so excited, and the contractions were still coming. I guess I did mention an epidural, but then said I didn’t really want it and I wanted to get in the tub!  I had been wearing a wrap skirt that I bought in India (little did I know I was about to give birth to a little girl and name her India) and quickly exchanged it for a hospital gown for my walk to the birthing tub.

The tub room was peaceful, quiet, dimly lit, worship music played, and Dallas fanned me with a Chinese fan as I entered at 11:50am. My midwife, doula, Dallas and a nurse all waited quietly and patiently as I moaned through contractions and tried to breathe. The water was so tranquil. I asked my midwife if I was doing it right. She encouraged me that I was doing everything perfect. Her presence gave me immense peace. I could feel her looking at me, and in some strange way, could feel her supporting me, without saying anything.

I also kept apologizing to everyone for yelling during contractions. I remember they had confused looks on their faces and then all told me that I wasn’t yelling, I was quietly moaning and I was doing great and full of peace. In my mind, it felt loud, although I felt very peaceful in my heart.

I remember saying “oh shit” twice as I braced for contractions and I’m surprised I didn’t say it more! :-) I had no idea when transition started, because many of the contractions had the same intensity and I had been exhibiting signs of transition since I checked into the hospital!  Nothing felt different from 2cm to 8cm.

I started pushing as soon as I was in the tub, kneeling on my knees, with my hands bearing down on the sides of the tub. The desire to push was a relief!!! After every contraction, I’d sink forward or lay back and fall asleep, for a bit, until the next contraction would jolt me awake. I never understood hearing stories of women who fell asleep in between contractions, and how that must mean that labor isn’t that tough, but I now understand what a blessing those few seconds are and they are there because labor is SO tough!

I started telling them that the baby was coming, so the nurse took a peek and said the baby’s head would soon start to crown. I felt with my own hand, a little squishy head. I can still imagine what that little head felt like!

After another contraction or two, Dallas left the room to get a notebook to continue to write down details. I had a contraction while he was gone. I remember jolting awake, looking for him in his spot right next to me, saw he wasn’t there, but my body was taking over.

The next thing I remember is feeling my baby’s head in my hands underneath the water. In a split second, I closed my eyes and continued pushing until I had my whole baby, in my hands, under the water. I caught my own baby!

“I have the baby!” I said.  My nurse, midwife and doula stirred quickly in disbelief.  “She has the baby!” “WHAT?” “Get Dad in here!”  The nurse went to leave the room, just as Dallas was entering.  I remember keeping the baby under the water, because I didn’t want to bring the baby up without him there.  Just as he was walking in, I pulled the baby out of the water.  My gentle midwife forcefully told me VERY loudly, “Give me the baby, the cord’s around its neck!!”  I held the baby for her (no one even had gloves on because she came SO quickly!!), and she unwrapped the cord quickly and started handing the baby to me. 

My midwife, Jeanne, unwrapping the umbilical cord
Someone asked the sex of the baby while my midwife was handing me the baby, and I looked at Dallas for the answer, and through tears he said, “Genny, it’s a girl!” just as I was bringing her to my chest to kiss her and adore her. We stayed in the tub for a bit, and she nursed right away, while Daddy cried and touched both of us. We just stared at her. I don’t even know what else happened because we just kept our eyes on our baby girl. We were beaming!

About 10 mintues after birth

She scored great on her apgars, weighing in at 7lbs, 8oz and 20 inches long. She was born at 12:37pm on July 8, after over 17 hours of labor (I know I was having contractions all day on the 7th, but I just count from the point of when my water broke). I was incredibly proud of myself for giving birth, feeling like I had just joined the ranks of other super women, billions of us, spanning the course of time.

I felt so blessed to have gone through the labor process, feeling every minute of it and laboring with supportive people around me. I was ready to go through it all over again instantly as I sat in the tub with India, and I knew what other mothers meant when they said that once you hold that baby it will be so worth it – she was and is!

We made our way back to my hospital room, where we spent the afternoon (and every day since) adoring and kissing our little girl – God’s marvelous, precious, perfect creation. I’m thankful for every minute of my labor and I’d do it all over again for her, every day. She is worth all that and more.

Beautiful girl.  By birthing skirt, from India, is in the background

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Monday, February 7, 2011

I Sprout!

A little ways back my status update on Facebook said something like "eating sprouted hummus".  And the witty jokes began about how I shouldn't eat things that are sprouting. :-)

Well, my hummus itself wasn't actually sprouting, but the garbanzo beans I used to make the hummus had been sprouted. 

I've been growing my own sprouts for probably over 3 years.  It's very easy, cheaper than buying sprouts in the  grocery store, and it's way healthier as you can buy organic seeds or legumes and sprout them yourself, with no chemicals.  Sprouts are nutritionally excellent too!

I have used everything from various mixes of seeds to wheatgrass (a cheap way to make your own smoothies) to larger legumes, but my favorite thing to sprout is lentils!  I have made this recipe for Snack Sprouts, and every single person that has tried it has been in love with it and want to know what it is.  They are quite surprised when I tell them they are lentil sprouts!!

You can find a lot of recipes for sprouts, but I mostly just eat mine fresh on a sandwich or in a salad. 

Sprout People is one of the most knowledgeable sites on sprouting. 

I have been using the jar and cover method (this video explains the process), which is very easy, but I would LOVE to win this large sprouter from The Urban Homemaker!

I hope this encourages you to maybe venture out and begin growing your own sprouts! :-)

Do you like sprouts?  Have you ever grown your own sprouts? 

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Yes! I do wear my baby!

One of the things I get asked about a lot is cloth diapering, and I posted about that here.

Another question I get asked a lot is about baby carriers/slings/wraps (for ease, I will generally call them carriers for the rest of this blog post), so I decided to do a post about the different carriers I own!

I 'wear' India almost every day. Sounds kind of creepy, doesn't it?

I LOVE baby wearing, and the hippie in me has known I would do it before it was even "cool" or even knew there was such a term as baby wearing!  I firmly believe that the first several months of a babies life, it's just easier and best to keep your baby close.  Without a carrier, that is nearly impossible as you have many other tasks to complete in a day! 

Enter, the baby carrier!  Da da dummm!

India does laundry with me, cleans, washes dishes, cooks, gardens, pays bills, nurses, goes on walks with me, goes to the bathroom with me, goes to work with me, and even showers by means of a carrier.  I'm not the type to set my baby down for an hour, to be mindlessly entertained by a TV or flashing toy.  India joins me and gathers information from the world around her.  She loves to "be worn" and I love wearing her.

About 2 months old. <3
Babies want to be close.  They want affection. They want interaction.  When India tires of all the movement, and over stimulation when we are at social gatherings, she can easily snuggle closer and fall asleep.

I am, by no means, an expert, but I am a learning mommy, willing to share with you what has helped in my life!

I have six baby carriers, and I intend to go through and review each of them, in the order that I got them.

1. Traditional Chinese Mei Tai carrier (I paid about $9 in China.  Regularly around $80) - I bought this carrier when I was in China two years ago, knowing that someday we would want children.  I have used this the least, so I don't have much more to say on this!

2. Hotslings (I won this. Normally priced around  $30-$40, depending on the brand.  Hotslings is now out of business, but a very similar sling would be Seven Slings)

    Trying to keep her awake a little longer! 4 months
  • Pros - Packs small, very quick to put on, cheap, India is comfortable in it
  • Cons - Uneven weight distribution can hurt your back, it's cheap for a reason, if not properly used it could easily suffocate a newborn, sized for the individual
I use my Hotsling when I need a sling quickly, like for 15 minutes or less.  I also use it when India is in a bunting bag.  This is one of my least favorite slings, but yet it is valuable for the reasons stated above.  You get what you pay for with this sling.  It is cheap, and doesn't do the job very well.

3. Lillebaby (I received this as a gift, normally around $100)
About 2 months old!

  • Pros - Lightweight, is smaller than an Ergo, can face out on a front carry, adjustable seat area so little ones can fit better, carry all directions, isn't as hot in the summer (compared to a Moby or Ergo).
  • Cons - Straps twist easily, doesn't distribute weight as nicely as an Ergo
I really like this carrier.  India is over 16  pounds right now, but apparently this carrier lasts up to 42 pounds.  My favorite feature (right now) is the adjustable seat area for different sized babies.  If we are going somewhere, and don't have much room for stuff, I pack the Lillebaby.  It was especially nice to have a breathable sling in the summer. 

4. Moby Wrap (I received this as a gift, normally around $40)

About 1 week old, taking her out of the Moby

  • Pros - The most comfortable and natural feeling, baby stays incredibly close, best for napping, can face all directions, one size fits all
  • Cons - All the fabric can be intimidating, it's warm
I used my Moby all the time when India was little!  She loved it!  We still use it, and it's especially nice when we were outside this fall in the cooler weather or when I want India to sleep instantly. This is an excellent carrier.  I loved the simplicity of a wrap-style carrier - feels very basic and crunchy.

5. Ring Sling (mine is mesh for the water $48 - I paid $40)

    Tired, 3 month old baby!
  • Pros - Incredibly lightweight, very breathable, one size fits all, packs up and dries great
  • Cons - Have to wear this correctly or else it would be easy to have an accident
Since India doesn't takes baths, she showers with me in this. I wish, wish, wish that I would've had this last summer because it's so cool and lightweight and I would've loved to take India swimming in it!  I purchased this from a great Etsy mama's store, BabyEtte!

6. Ergo Baby Carrier ($105 to $138 - I got a new organic one for $80!!)

    About to take a nap while I make Split Pea Soup - 6 months
  • Pros - Incredible weight distribution, very sturdy, keeps baby close, good up to 40 pounds, fits all body types, hood included, easiest to use of all my carriers
  • Cons - Baby can't face out (I understand why they do this, but it would be a nice option), very warm, back only goes up to India's shoulders so when she sleeps her head isn't as secure (although this hasn't been a problem yet)
When you dig into the babywearing world, Ergos and Becos are the top soft structure carriers you will hear about.  Many people wonder what the difference is between the Ergo and the Beco, but honestly, it depends on which model you are talking about.  They are both excellent.  When my niece was born 3 and a half years ago, I wore her in an Ergo and a Beco.  For some reason, I liked the Ergo better - it seemed to fit me better.  The Ergo is amazing and I absolutely love it!

Am I missing any?  Not to be covetous, but yes!  I would love some sort of woven wrap for back carries since the Moby isn't safe for that!  :-)  Someday!

In summary - I have spent about $140 on baby carriers, which isn't very much at all, but I would easily spend triple that as these are invaluable to me!  I have all these carriers and use them all for different purposes and reasons and seasons and since several of mine were gifts, I have kept them.

If you are on a tighter budget, I would get a Moby wrap, and a soft structure carrier, like an Ergo or Beco.  If you are really, really, really saving dimes, just get the soft structure carrier.

But remember, as is the case with most things, and is also true with carriers, you get what you pay for! 

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