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A Wake-Up Call to Slow Down

Today I am 34 weeks preggers. I am also 37 years old and 30 pounds heavier than I was 34 weeks ago. Last pregnancy, if my mommy/pregnancy brain serves me correctly, I was pretty much able to keep going about my business as usual. I’m a massage therapist by trade and I continued to work at the same pace I always had. I work in a three-story spa and I always took the stairs like I usually do. When my Bradley teacher instructed me to do squats throughout my day, I did them like a champ. I am a very fast-paced A-type personality kind of gal and I kept scooting along like always.

Fast forward seven years. I now have a second-grader to keep up with, the same three-story spa and now a two-story house. But pre-pregnancy I was in about the same overall physical condition. So I figured I could treat this pregnancy the same as the previous. I was blessed with a very easy pregnancy the first time. No morning sickness, I was sleeping fine, no terrible aches or pains, minimal swelling only towards the very end.

I was hoping I would be so lucky the second time and generally I was. I was super tired in the afternoons of my first trimester- I have never been a napper, but I basically could not keep my eyes open around 2 pm most days. Little afternoon catnap, no big deal. I was also more aware of needing to eat on the regular. I very distinctly would feel myself fade if I didn’t have meals at regular intervals. Keeping up with food is not one of my fortes but I had to stay on top of it, what with the additional human I’m growing.

But other than that, I was keeping up my speedy ways. I would always take the stairs, squat at every opportunity, power through feeling tired, keep up with working my regular massage shifts, stay on top of my business plans, keep the house tidy, plan family outings… on and on it goes. Nothing crazy though, just mom life.

Until one day, I was sitting at the table working on my laptop, planning my week and crossing things off my to-do list. I felt my belly tighten uncomfortably like it has been doing all throughout this pregnancy. I remember getting Braxton Hicks contractions in my last pregnancy at least from about the sixth or seventh month. This pregnancy I feel like they’ve been happening all along. From about the second month or so. But this particular day they felt like they were happening a lot.

The day before, I had been clearing the baby’s room and moving things around all over the house, up and down the stairs. I had felt a little tired, but again, had just powered through. This day, I was just sitting down, working on my computer, multitasking away but sitting still. Another Braxton. And another, and another.

That afternoon, my daughter had Open House at school. The Braxtons kept happening and happening so I started timing them. It felt like as soon as one stopped, the next was getting ready to start. We got home from Open House and the contractions were really getting on my nerves now. I made a plan to take a bath and have a little glass of red wine. I had heard this recommendation was fine to help my body relax. I felt uneasy about the wine though and called my midwife just to kind of get her blessing on it.

I explained everything that had happened that day. I was 29 weeks pregnant at the time. The Braxtons had been happening all day and by now it was 6 pm. The contractions I was timing had been 7 two hours ago and 10 in the last hour. She immediately told me to go to the hospital. I felt like the wind had totally been taken out of my sails. Really? Yes, really really. I don’t like hospitals. I don’t trust them. That’s why I chose a birthing center. I asked if this is something they could deal with and she said no. It’s out of their scope before 37 weeks along. I asked if there was something I could do, I was planning to take a bath and chill out at home. She said if I really wanted to try and take care of it myself, I could try a bath and drinking lots of electrolytes, but that her recommendation was to go to the hospital.

I figured if I had waited this long, I could wait a couple more hours to see if I could get my uterus to chill out on my own. My husband promptly took away my laptop, tv, and phone. He put on some chill meditation music and made me some “home-made Gatorade”, as we call it. It’s roughly 1 cup water, 1 cup orange juice and a teaspoon of sea salt. He went to go get my bath ready while I chilled out with my eyes closed and sipped on my drink.

I snuck a peek at my phone and texted my closest Reiki girlfriends to ask them to send me healing light. (They all did and kept checking up on me as the night went on.) I kept timing the contractions and in the following 30 minutes I had another five.

When my bath was ready, I slipped in and went back to eyes closed, meditating on calming my body and listening to the soft droning music. My hubby gently ran his hand down my forehead and hair. As soon as I went in the water, the Braxtons spaced to about 20 minutes apart. I stayed in the tub for about an hour, then tip-toed into bed and laid on my side. At that point the contractions basically stopped.

I heard my phone ding and sleepily checked the notification. It was something about my upcoming baby shower. I thought to myself that I would just send a quick response and as soon as I started typing, I felt another contraction starting. Ugh, fine! I stopped typing and went back to just quietly laying on my side. The Braxtons went away for the rest of the night. My midwife confirmed at my next visit that I was most likely dehydrated.

Ever since that day, I have set aside the idea of powering through and keeping up my usual speedy pace. My body quite clearly wanted me to slow down. Feeling tired isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign that you need to recharge. I’ve been drinking lots more water and my DIY Gatorade if I’m feeling particularly parched or if I start noticing a string of, as my daughter called them, “Braxton Hiccups”. I’ve given myself permission to be lazy. I still have my to-do lists, but they’re much shorter and I take time in between to relax and do a little bit of nothing. I am still working, but shorter shifts and not as many per week.

It clicked a couple weeks ago that my husband is not a quick-paced kind of guy at all. It’s part of why we balance each other so well. I saw him walking and I mentioned that he will mosy along where I usually scurry. He reminds me of how the Pink Panther walks, just strolling through. This baby, his baby, did not like my scurrying. Not only physically, but mentally! The day all the Braxtons happened I wasn’t even moving around. But my brain was running a mile a minute. Baby did not like this.

Now I don’t scurry. I waddle. I embraced the waddle, something I was very reluctant to do. In the picture below I’m sitting, with my feet up because I sit a lot now. I really wanted to be the pregnant mom that can go on doing it all, but now I look for a spot to rest quite regularly.

Chilling out, feet up, silicone band on.

Also, I have my silicone wedding band on full time. (In the picture too.) I got it to wear to work, since I didn’t want to risk taking my real rings on and off every time I did a massage. But yesterday, my band felt really tight both when I put it on in the morning and when I took it off in the evening, when it’s usually looser. I listened to my body right away this time, and made the switch to the roomier squishy band.

All in all, being in tune to your body is always important. Your body speaks. And the more you listen, the more you hear and the easier it becomes. If there is ever a time to do this, it’s when you’re pregnant. So I’m listening. I’m doing my best to anyway. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to refill my water, grab a snack and put my feet up.

Lilly in a cloth diaper

What’s Stopping You From Cloth Diapering?

Is it the laundry?  Is it the money? Is it the poop?!?!  

When my daughter was a tiny little thing, I knew I wanted to try cloth diapering.  I wanted to do it mostly because I wanted to do something positive for the earth instead of creating waste that will sit around for the next 500 years or so.

Two Years of Disposables vs Two Years of Cloth

But what stopped me was the research.  I had read (briefly) that to cloth diaper, you would invest a few hundred dollars for everything you need.  I felt guilty spending the money on something that I didn’t know if I would be able to do successfully or not.  But mostly, I felt like I was shooting in the dark as far as what brands to buy, how to wash them, what would work and what wouldn’t.  I knew there was lots (loads, endless amounts) of information out there, but I didn’t have the energy to sift through it all. I had no clue what brand to try and I had no good way of seeing and touching different ones to get a feel for what I wanted.

Of my many new mommy friends, I only had two friends who cloth diapered and they both had completely different approaches, which confused me even more.  And one of them lives in another state so it wasn’t easy to get advice from her.

I checked Babies R Us and they carried gDiapers.  They looked so cute but I thought they were kind of pricey.  I felt like I was already spending so much money on diapers that I didn’t feel justified spending even more on something that might not work for me.  They had nothing at Target and the only other baby store near me had one other brand that I was not familiar with.

I decided to try gDiapers.  They were the ones I constantly saw (since I was in Babies R Us multiple times a week at this point) but I bought one single pre-loved diaper on eBay.  This mitigated my guilt over spending the money and it was a way of testing the waters without a huge investment.

My little Birdy in her cute little gDiaper at 3.5 months old

I was so proud of myself for having tried this out!  I’m not much of an eBayer so it was an ordeal for me to find what I wanted, stalk the price, make the lowest bid and win!  Finally when I tried the diaper, I loved how it looked, but it leaked every time I tried to use it. Looking back, even just from looking at the picture above, I can see why!  It was not put on properly, but I hadn’t stopped to see how you put on a cloth diaper. It actually hadn’t even occurred to me at the time that there was such a thing between a “right” and “wrong” way to put one on.

I didn’t stop to do research or join cloth diapering facebook groups (nor did I even think this was a thing at the time).  So I quickly gave up and sold the diaper back to the next eBayer and went back to disposables. I felt somewhat better for having tried at all, but I knew it was a feeble attempt.

Fast forward about six years when I decided to take the plunge and start this business.  One of my biggest motivations is being the resource for someone else that I didn’t have back then.  There IS a lot of information out there, but once you understand it, it’s not complicated at all! Especially if you have someone that can explain it to you in person.  Plus, now I know the different ways to cloth diaper and I can help you choose the one that will fit best with your life and your family!

For a lot of the moms I talk to, what stops them is the laundry.  This is a legitimate concern.  After all, there’s no way around it.  Cloth diapers have to be washed. But the good news is, this can be made simple too!  Step one: throw dirty diapers in the wash for a short cycle using some soap. Step two: start a second long cycle using full recommended amount of soap.  Step three: toss in dryer on low heat. That’s it! I mean, there can be more to it than that (this is a link to a post all about How to Wash Cloth Diapers) but that’s it in a nutshell. The easiest way to fit cloth diaper laundry into your routine is to wash your baby clothes with your cloth diapers.  This solution isn’t for everyone, but it is a way to make it even easier for you.

I know for some moms, they hesitate because it can be a big investment.  I mean, this was also a big part of what stopped me.  I had read that you need to spend hundreds of dollars to cloth diaper and I just couldn’t spend that kind of money on something I was unsure of.  But what I didn’t realize then was that cloth diapering can save you SO much money! Like hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

Impactful to see not just the trash but the spending!

When I thought I couldn’t afford to cloth diaper, I should have thought that I couldn’t afford not to!  Yes you can spend hundreds of dollars on a cloth diaper stash. (It’s kind of like shoes.. How many pairs do you REALLY need vs how many do you have) But you can also diaper full time with as little as $200.  You can also try just a couple brands and types for $40 or so to find what you like. To me, when you have someone explain what you’re ACTUALLY buying and the difference between one product and another, it makes me more comfortable and confident in what I’m choosing to invest my money on.  Once again, that’s what I’m here for!

And let’s not forget, the dreaded poop.  I don’t know if many parents would actually come out and say this is what keeps them from cloth diapering, but I think it’s definitely something that crosses everyone’s mind as well as a reality for all parents.  With disposables, you wrap up the stinky mess and toss in it a diaper genie or something similar and hope for the most airtight seal you can have. If you’ve been there, you know it doesn’t always end up being a stink-free situation.  But what you might not know is you’re not supposed to throw poop away in the trash like that! It’s actually a public safety concern (see here per the American Health Association). Human waste is meant to be properly disposed of in the toilet. That’s my PSA on that.  But I digress…

With cloth diapers you have the inevitable task of dealing with your baby’s poop in a more up close and personal way.  But you have several options, some a lot less hands-on than others. The first option, if your baby is exclusively breast fed, is to do nothing!  Breastmilk poop is water soluble and you can toss the dirty diaper right in the wash with no problems. However, if formula or solids are involved, or if you’re just not comfortable throwing a poopy diaper in with your non-poopy laundry, you have to get the poop off before you wash the diaper.

Poop Removal Assistants

The easiest choice is a flushable liner (pictured, top right).  This is a thin sheet that sits on top of your diaper’s absorbent inner pieces.  When baby poops, it keeps the mess away from the diaper pieces that you wash. You just take the sheet and the poop and flush it all away.  Easy peasy. And the ones I carry are bamboo, so they’re still a natural, soft material against baby’s skin.

The next option is a diaper sprayer (pictured, left side).  This attaches to your toilet and you spray the poop off the diaper and into the toilet.  This will also leave your diaper poop free and wash-ready. Along with this option, you can use a washable liner (pictured, bottom right).  This is just a way to keep you from having to rinse the whole inner diaper piece. It’s a thin layer that sits in baby’s diaper (just like the flushable liner) and leaves you with just that small piece of fabric to get the poop off of.

There are other methods if you want to be low-tech or creative.  Some people keep a designated spatula in their bathroom to scrape the poop off with or whatever.  Honestly, once baby gets into solids and out of blowouts, you can just kind of roll it off into the potty and that’s that.

So what’s your reason?  Or more importantly, what’s your reason to WANT to cloth diaper?  Is it the environmental impact?  The savings? The natural materials vs chemicals being on your baby’s skin 24 hours a day for years of their life?  The cuteness of the darn diapers?! The benefits can greatly outweigh the effort, especially if you have help pointing you in the right direction.  Remember that cloth diapering doesn’t have to be an all or nothing proposition and as with most things, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. And as always, I’m here to help in any way I can to make it simple and worthwhile for you and your family!

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My Start as a Hippie Mommy

I want to take a moment and share why I consider myself to be a hippie mommy.  And I think it appropriate to start at my “graduation date” aka the day my daughter was born!  And speaking of appropriate, seven years ago TODAY, was the day it all happened!

When I was pregnant, I wanted to have a natural birth.  I was reading several pregnancy books and I stumbled across the Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth (http://www.bradleybirth.com/).  I’m going to pause and say that finding Bradley changed my life.  Big statement, I know, but it was really the start of a new perspective on pregnancy, birth, and all things parenting.  The Bradley Method was a 12 week course and it made me realize that natural birth is nothing to take lightly. As my instructor put it, you don’t decide to run a marathon and just buy the shoes, go for a couple runs, and then run the whole race.  You train! You prepare yourself. Bradley was that preparation. It educated me and daddy to really know what to expect during labor and delivery. What was going on, and how to best adapt to the current situation.

Me at 7 months pregnant on the beach in my homeland of Costa Rica.

When we first sat with our instructor, she asked where we were planning for me to give birth.  We told her at a local hospital. She said ok, but just keep your minds open because after you learn what you are going to learn, you may change your choice.  Ok, well you know, you never know what will happen so to play it safe we’d feel more comfortable at a hospital. We continue our classes and learn of all the things we do and don’t want as part of my birth.  We write a birth plan. It includes things like no continuous electronic fetal monitoring, no internal checks every hour, no pitosin, no episiotomy. I also wanted a water birth, and the hospital had a bathtub in the room, but you can’t go in it after your water breaks.  You know, when you need it most, but anyways, risk of infection and all that. We sit with our ObGyn to let him know all the things we do and don’t want and he very kindly explains that for mommy and baby’s safety, they can’t honor those wishes because their top priority is making sure everyone is safe and that’s just what they need to do.  Hmm, well now we knew enough to know that, in a healthy pregnancy, that’s just not necessarily true.

So we decided to go tour a birthing center, just to compare.  Every point that we said “we want to do this” the answer was “sure, no problem”.  I mean, within reason. If it comes down to a true emergency, they will do whatever they need to do to make sure everyone is safe.  But they respected the kind of birth I wanted to have and were able to provide that experience for me. I want to save my whole birthing story for another post (spoiler alert, perfectly healthy baby born in a birthing center, and I am SO glad that we made the switch!)  But suffice to say, choosing a birthing center was totally the first flower in my hippie crown.

Inspiration Family Birth Center where my daughter was born.
(Sorry I couldn’t fix the formatting but I figured a not-cropped picture was better than none!)

During our Bradley classes, our instructor also talked to us about co-sleeping, babywearing, Elimination Communication, amber teething necklaces and Baby-Led Weaning.  See why she changed my life? Again, stay tuned for blog posts on each of those practices, but it was so eye-opening to even know these things were out there! I did each of these things with my daughter and each one brought us closer together and more in touch with each other.

Something I loved about Dr. Bradley is that he grew up on a farm.  He watched animals do their thing when it came time to give birth. Fast forward and he becomes a doctor and watches how “modern” women give birth in a hospital.  There was a huge disconnect in these two birthing ways! Yes science and medicine have come a long way and no I have no desire to crawl into a barn and give birth in a pile of hay.  But there IS a lot of wisdom in nature and I think the closer we can get to the way things are naturally done, the better off we are.

I think trusting our instincts goes a long way too.  When your baby cries, it sucks. When you pick them up and comfort them, it feels awesome.  Their soft little skin on your face as you give them kisses and cuddles feels great. Then a study comes out saying it actually is scientifically proven that there are therapeutic benefits of touch!  But you didn’t need a published article to tell you that. Follow your instincts, in your gut and your heart it feels right.

Me and my little Bird on my 30th birthday. She was 11 days old.

There are lots of mainstream parenting practices that are really easy to just do because it’s what you do.  I mean look at any baby shower decorations and you’ll see cute pictures of baby bottles, pacifiers, diapers… all of these are actually optional.  There is so much room for reducing waste and using natural products. This of course spins out beyond parenting into everyday life. Now that my daughter is older, it’s not about the baby stuff.  It’s about composting, recycling and reducing waste wherever we can. It’s about spending less time indoors and more time outdoors. It’s about eating clean and remembering to stretch. I do still live in an All-American suburb and drive an SUV.  But I do try to turn off the AC and open the windows when I can. It’s all about balance and striving to do just a little bit more every day.

So that’s my origin story, so to speak.  As I go on, I’ll share my experience with each of these practices in more detail and I hope to inspire you to trust your instincts, live a little greener, and celebrate your inner hippie.

Namaste,

Andrea