Monday, June 10, 2013

Kitty's Birth, a journal entry on the day she was born

Here is the entry I put in the journal I keep for Kitty, recalling her birth.

June 16th 2012 

You were born on Monday, June 11th at 6:13 in the morning 6lbs 17 1/2 inches, you are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen my Kitty Marlene. I had contractions starting Saturday at 7 in the morning, I was dreaming and woke up from the pain. Sunday all day I had contractions, I went for a walk early in the morning with your daddy, then a couple more throughout the day with your grandma. We ordered a pizza, I ate two pieces, then went into active labor. Your daddy and I went and lay down, he gave me a back rub and then my water broke around 11:30. I took a shower, then we headed down to the birth center. It was the hardest work I have ever done. Your daddy was so amazing. I remember thinking while we were still home that even though I was in so much pain, I was the happiest I had ever been in my life, there was so much love in the room and we were so so excited to meet you. When I was in the tub at the birth center, I thought about your grandpa Mellich and how bad I wished he was still here to meet you. I asked him and your great grandma Mellich for their strength. I can't describe the energy in the room, looking back I remember the pain, but I also remember this warm amazing feeling and the memory is nothing but good. Your head was turned a little funny and I got discouraged at one point, but then you moved down and my midwife, who was wonderful said, "baby has daddy's hair." That made me so happy and I got this burst of energy and laughed and then the sun was coming up through the windows and I pushed and pushed and your head and shoulders came out and they told me to reach down and take you and that moment, oh that moment Kitty, was the best moment of my entire life. Your daddy and I just laughed and laughed and cried. Then your daddy announced that you were a girl and my heart soared because in my heart I had known all along that you were and now I was meeting you and you were real and beautiful and perfect! I want to just stare at you all the time, hold you, smell you, kiss your little face, stroke your silky hair. Even now when you are sleeping in your daddy's arms, I miss you. We love you so so much, everyone always told me what this would feel like, but actually feeling it is something indescribable until you are there in that moment. Someday me sweet Kitty, you will be there too. And I am so grateful someday you will know what this feels like.

Happy 1st Birthday Kitty Marlene, you are my world and so much more than I ever dreamed.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sweet Dreams

My family cosleeps. The first five weeks of Kitty's life I slept on our couch in the living room with her on my chest. Well, mostly she slept and I spent my nights staring at her and watching every little breath she took. That time seems like such a blur now. I remember several episodes of The Golden Girls and a late night viewing of South Pacific all while breathing in and out with my new perfect baby. 

At around six weeks I moved back into our king sized bed and I took Kitty with me. I was nervous about this, I never planned on cosleeping, we had purchased a very lovely, very fancy bassinet and I fully intended to use it.

Once we moved into the bed our nights became even easier. Kitty wouldn't even wake up enough to cry, I would feel her nudge me when she needed to nurse and all I had to do was pop a boob into her mouth and we both drifted back off to sleep. Up until about a month ago she would sleep in the crook of my arm, I didn't move, roll or change my position in my sleep. I would wake up in the same position that I had fallen asleep in, Kitty nestled near me, always on her back. I took care to tuck the sheet in at the bottom of our bed so that it couldn't creep any further up than my waist so that she wouldn't become tangled in it. I bought a special room thermometer to keep her at the right temperature and we also bought a room fan to keep the air circulating and cool. I kept only one pillow on the bed and made sure it was far from her head. 

One night, I attempted to put Kitty in her bassinet. After about one minute I began to feel panicked, I couldn't see her, I couldn't feel her breathe, it felt wrong. I almost immediately picked her up and snuggled in with her for the night.

I do not care how other parents or their children sleep. It in no way affects me or my family. I don't believe that cosleeping is the best way or that I am in any way a better parent for cosleeping. I just know that it works for us. Kitty nearly always sleeps at least 9 hours a night and is down to about 1 nursing session in the middle. 

Having her in our bed does not bother us. For some reason though, it seems to bother other people. The look on peoples faces when I tell them that she has never slept on her own is a mix of pity and horror. I often hear that I "will never be able to get her out of my bed" or "don't I want her to sleep on her own?" I feel judged. I feel judged in a lot of the things I chose to do while raising my daughter, but that is for another time. What I want to say when people say these things is, "She is not in your bed, so don't worry about it." I think the biggest misconception is that I must feel trapped with her in my bed, on the contrary, I will miss it when she is in her own. At night she has already begun nursing, then unlatching and turning away from me. She doesn't even need me to snuggle her all night, I have full faith that when she is ready for her own bed, she will be perfectly content there.

The concept of "sleep training" is bizarre to me. I don't see my child as a being who needs to be trained, I instead want to encourage her in her decisions and guide her as she grows. I feel that parents who have "sleep trained" consider themselves superior in some way, because they have detached their child from their bed, because they are "strong enough" to let their baby cry, they are better than me. Cosleeping or "sleep training" does not make you a better parent, it doesn't make you a better person, it simply means we chose to parent differently. Everyone is my family is happy, everyone is healthy and I respect other parents means to come to this in their own way. So I would appreciate it if my way were respected as well.

I have no issue being there for my daughter when she wakes, I have no issue with cuddling her all night long and falling asleep while I breathe in the sweet smell of her hair, her milky breath. I know this time will not last forever. Someday she won't want to snuggle with me, someday she will probably slam a door in my face and tell me she hates me. I do not need a shocked look, I do not need your pity that I share my bed, that I fall asleep next to the two people I love most on this earth. For now I want to hold my daughter while she dreams and I want to wake up to her sweet delighted smile. If that means that she takes longer to transition to sleeping on her own, well, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it, just like everything else we have done since becoming a family.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Crying for Dreams

I promised I wouldn't change. I promised I would be the same person, that I wouldn't become the woman who talked about her child constantly, the woman who wouldn't long to be home holding my baby after being out for only an hour, the woman who became nothing but a mother. Most of all, I promised I wouldn't become that woman who told her childless friends that they just couldn't understand because they aren't a mom. I hated those women, I couldn't stand how they seemed to look at my life like it wasn't as serious as theirs, that as much as I could be sympathetic and understanding, I just didn't get it. 

I didn't get it.

I didn't understand that when I became a mother, I would also be putting to rest a part of myself. I knew I would change, I knew that my life was changing in the most dramatic and intense way, I suppose I failed to understand the magnitude of that change.  A part of me died when such a larger part of me came alive to bloom. I don't know if it's the same for other women, I just know what happened to me. I hate the pretentiousness I feel when I look at my friends who don't have children and think, "they just don't get it." But they don't, I didn't and I think that's the hardest part. That I despised the women like me, those mothers who looked at each other with knowing, with a secret language that only mothers know. Giving birth is like receiving the Rosetta Stone to this secret language. All of these parts in your brain that you never knew existed come alive and ignite and you realize how much you didn't know before that moment.

Shortly after Kitty was born I took her with me to the co-op to pick up some groceries. I was wandering among the produce when a woman approached me. She looked at Kitty sleeping in her wrap and said the usual things that women say about new babies and then she looked at me and said something I will never forget, "I can still see it on you, you've been there, you've been to the other side haven't you?" It struck me, I had never thought of it before, but in those hours before Kitty was born, it was other worldly. I went to another place, a place where I went deep into something ancient and timeless and when I exited, I was forever changed.

I have heard of Native Americans going on vision quests or crying for dreams. They are pushed to physical limits, often fasting, they come to a deep understanding of themselves to show their purpose in life, it is a right of passage leaving your life as a child and beginning a new life as an adult. It is a birth in itself. It is also a death.

And so I changed, more than I expected, more than I maybe wanted to. Part of me died when I was on the other side, I wasn't prepared for that, I don't think it's something I considered. I knew I would have a son or a daughter, I knew I would be a mother, but I didn't think about the person I would be leaving behind. There is no official title for a childless woman. I left her there on the other side. I came back from my quest, with my daughter, my dream.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Why I Am Proud to EBF

I shouldn't go on any kind of parenting forum, it's kind of like knowing that I shouldn't eat cake or read Cosmo magazines, but I just can't help it. I signed up for Baby Center right after I got pregnant and in some sort of plan from above, my account became inaccessible through my phone. All I was able to do was read postings from other members, I couldn't actually contribute. Thank God. I probably would have been kicked off after day two. If you want a good time, just log onto an online community of 17,000 hormonal pregnant/postpartum women. There are many topics that make me want to reach out and lovingly slap some sense into my fellow mothers, but the breastfeeding debate is one that will never be won because women are the masters of excuses. 

When it comes down to it, I don't care much how you feed your child, but I do think that I have a right to be proud of how I have chosen to feed mine. A woman on Baby Center had posted about how she was proud to have made it to bronze boobies. For those who don't know, "bronze" means that you have made it to three months exclusively breast feeding your child. There are also diamond, ruby and platinum boobies, etc. each for extended breastfeeding. Several of the formula feeding moms decided to go off on how they thought this was ridiculous, how they believed that there shouldn't be any reward for breastfeeding, that breastfeeding mothers should get off their high horses. Basically telling this woman and all other EBF mothers that by being proud of breastfeeding she was putting down formula feeders.

I am proud to breastfeed, that is not something that I will ever hide.

There is something wrong with our society. There is something wrong with the fact that people, especially women are expected to not be proud of their accomplishments, of their hard work. I believe in being humble, I do not think we need to flash about something to make someone else feel bad, but I also believe that we should not be ashamed to take pride in something we work for. I liken this to people downplaying or talking negatively about someone who has worked hard to look physically attractive. I remember in high school after I had lost twenty five pounds on Weight Watchers, I felt very proud of myself, I had worked hard, very hard, to have the body that I wanted. I also remember being made to feel bad about being proud of my new figure by friends who were heavier than me. So when I should have been feeling great about my accomplishments, I was instead spending all my time being considerate of someone else's feelings.

 As I said before, I could care less how you feed your child, but I went through months of pain and work to give my daughter the food that I believe is best for her. Am I proud? Absolutely. This is not an entry about the benefits of breastfeeding, this is an entry about being entitled to the pride that I feel knowing that I am giving my daughter a healthy start, that I continue to nourish her with my own body past the ten months that I carried her in me. So no, I will not tiptoe around the fact that I feel like I am doing what is right to make my daughters first food, her best food.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Right Wipe, giving cloth wipes a try!

The first week of Kitty’s life I went through nearly three packs of diaper wipes. I was a little shocked and horrified, it seemed so wasteful; a good sized bowel movement took at least four wipes. A pack of Seventh Generation wipes runs about $4.00, which was at least an extra $25.00 I would literally be throwing in the garbage each month, this seemed beyond ridiculous.
I had never considered reusable wipes; I didn’t even know they existed in fact until I went to Babies R Us to do my final shop to get everything we needed before Kitty’s debut. I had registered for your basic run of the mill wipes warmer and when I reached for it the cloth wipes caught my eye. It made so much sense to me. We were already planning on cloth diapering, why wouldn’t we use cloth wipes as well? It wouldn’t be adding any extra laundry as they could just be thrown in with the diapers; in fact, it made me feel a little better knowing that the loads would be a bit fuller. So I put the Prince Lionheart Wipes Warmer in my basket along with a box of Warmies Reusable Wipes.
The Warmer cost $29.99 and the wipes were $9.99, the warmer also came with 12 wipes.  So yes, just like cloth diapers your initial investment is a bit much, but then that’s it. The wipes are 100% rayon made from bamboo, bleach and dye free.  Chemicals commonly found in your average baby wipes include: chlorine, alcohol, petroleum by products, Phthalates, Methylisothiazolino, and Formaldehyde-based preservatives, just to name a few. Do you even know what some of those are? Can you even pronounce some of them? I can tell you one thing; I certainly don’t want them touching my daughter’s most delicate body parts! With cloth wipes the only thing touching my little girl’s lady bits are cloth and whatever wipes solution I put together.
The warmer is easy to use, it has an absorbent anti-microbial pad that you soak in water and lay in the bottom of the warmer. I then fold the wipes in half, roll them and lay them in the warmer. I pour a bit of solution over them, getting them damp, but not soaking, add another layer and repeat. The warmer can hold about 15 wipes which is three layers.  For my solution I take two cups of water, two tablespoons of Dr. Bronner’s baby soap and two tablespoons of almond oil. I keep it in a water bottle and give it a couple shakes before I pour it over the wipes as it tends to separate. One bottle lasts me about two rounds of wipes. You can add other oils to your solution as your baby’s skincare call for. Tea tree oil is anti-bacterial, lavender oil which is also antibacterial and has a soothing smell, get creative but make sure that the oils you are using are gentle enough for your baby’s delicate skin!
A wipes warmer is a total luxury item, definitely not needed and you certainly don’t need to buy specific premade wipes. I love it because the warmer keeps the wipes a bit more moist and I like to think Kitty appreciates not having a chilly wipe on her bum. You can make your own wipes or just cut up old towels. I have a friend who purchased some microfiber cloths at a dollar store and those are what she uses. She also keeps her solution in a spray bottle and just spritzes it on her son, then wipes. So it doesn’t need to be a huge extra cost to you!
And the best news about cloth wipes? They can handle anything! I can clean up just about anything with one and at the very most two wipes. I also feel much more confident going in to a disaster area with more than just a flimsy little disposable wipe. Because the wipes solution is so gentle, on days that Kitty doesn’t get a shower I will just give her a little wipe down with one, they work great to get in those little creases where milk likes to hide.
For our times when we are out and about I use Seventh Generation Wipes, I’m sure cloth wipes are doable, but I already feel like my diaper bag is overflowing as it is. It was pointed out to me by my fellow cloth wipes using friend that Seventh Generation Wipes can actually be washed up to two times in the machine as well. I gave it a try and they certainly do, they come out soft and thicker than I would expect for a disposable wipe to come through after a run in the washer. So if you are really hardcore into recycling, go ahead and give this a try!
Oftentimes parents of children who are sensitive to disposable diapers are also going to be sensitive to disposable wipes. Kitty has yet to have a diaper rash and I think the combination of cloth diapers and cloth wipes has a lot to do with it. So go ahead and take the next step in your cloth diapering adventures and give reusable wipes a try!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Adventures in Newborn Cloth Diapering!

Today was Kitty's one month birthday and all of my newborn size diaper covers were on the line drying when she had a nice poop. I had a few of the next size up ready to go for that far off day when she would fit into them and figured a too big diaper was better than no diaper. Much to my surprise and dismay, the diaper was not too big. My little bean is growing so quickly *sigh*. As we now exit the newborn diaper size I thought I would share our experience of the first month of cloth diapering.
Most if not all of my friends who cloth diaper didn't start out on them. They started out with disposables either because they thought cloth would be too challenging for the first couple of months or they realized after the first couple of months how awesome cloth diapering might be. Kitty has never been in a disposable diaper and I don't ever intend her to be. I can't even compare disposables to cloth because I can't really remember the last time I changed a diaper before her. I can say this, cloth diapering is easy peasy.
When picking cloth diapers I went about it in a rather silly way, I picked the little g pants pretty much for the sole reason that Kitty's last name starts with G and these diapers had a g on the butt. Little g pants for baby G. I also registered for some Gro Via diapers and added a few others to our collection from other cloth diapering friends. As I haven't yet used these though, I will only be sharing my newborn diaper experience for now.
We purchased the gBaby bundle from Babies R Us, this can also be purchased at the g diapers website  . It includes 12 tiny g pants and 6 small little g pants, 80 small biodegradable inserts and a swishstick (I will get to the swishstick later). I also received several of the cloth inserts as baby shower gifts. I washed everything in warm water for three cycles in a row to get the desired absorbency; they get softer and more absorbent with each wash.
For the first two weeks we used the tiny g pants with the biodegradable inserts. At first when I was putting a couple together to take to the birth center I was certain I had purchased the wrong size insert, so I double checked the pack that had come with my started kit, they were the right size. Once you stretch the diaper to its full length the insert fits, I just had to take into account that the diaper was all scrunched up to fit the baby. We choose to use the biodegradable inserts for the first couple weeks for two reasons. My midwife suggested waiting on cloth until Kitty was done passing the meconium. Thank goodness we listened because I think we would have ruined several inserts with that black sticky mess. I was a little taken aback by how much there was, I was expecting tiny poops, not completely full diapers of dark goo. After a couple days we were passed that stage, but I still hesitated to use the cloth inserts, I guess I was intimidated by them. So we stuck with the biodegradables for a bit.
The biodegradable inserts can be disposed of in three ways. You can remove the outer cover and flush the inside, here is where the swishstick comes in, once they are in the toilet bowl you can break them up with this little plastic stick and they will flush easily. If they are pee only diapers you can compost them, or you can simply throw them away and as they are biodegradable this is guilt free! I encourage you to visit the website and watch a time lapse video of a g diaper and a regular disposable in what would be a landfill , it is a great example of why we should consider a more earth friendly alternative to the everyday disposable! After I had gone through two packages of the biodegradables I decided I needed to face my fears because those inserts are not cheap and I really wanted to save them for the times that I needed them.
As I had mentioned before, I had received some of the cloth inserts as baby shower gifts, I had also been given twelve newborn sized prefolds. Prefolds are your basic cloth diapers, the kind you are probably most familiar with. They look like a rectangle of fabric, with thicker layered fabric in the middle. They are often fastened with pins and then used with a diaper cover. I will go into more depth on types of cloth diapers at a later date once I have more experience with them. Prefolds right now, are my absolute favorites and I discovered an even easier way to use them, no pins necessary. I simply folded the sides face down and inserted the prefold into the tiny g pants. I was amazed by how well this worked. I didn't have a single leak when I used this method unless she managed to pee twice before I got her changed (at night if we both fell asleep during or right after a feeding). While the g diaper cloth inserts worked ok, they couldn't compare to the prefolds which held up great against the biggest poops. The cloth inserts left gaps on the sides and if she pooped it leaked in the cover, The tiny g pants hold everything very well however and I still haven't had a leak or blowout.
I truly believe that if everyone knew how easy cloth diapering can be, almost everyone would do it. I have one load of laundry each day and now that it’s nice out I hang my diapers on the line where they can be naturally bleached by the sun. There is something pleasant about hanging your diapers on the line, collecting them and folding them in your baby’s room; it becomes a rather sweet ritual. Many people seem horrified by the poop, but honestly it doesn’t even faze me anymore. Breast milk poop is barely poop in my opinion and it doesn’t have much of a smell either. I just pop the cloth diaper into my washer, turn the cover inside out and fasten the Velcro so that the tabs don’t catch on my bamboo reusable wipes (topic for another time). I do a quick wash on warm and the diapers come out practically like new.
So if you’re considering cloth diapering, I say absolutely go for it! You add about 5 minutes to your day, but save money and resources. You can also feel good about cutting back on a huge negative impact on our environment. Another plus I hadn’t considered is that very few cloth diapered babies ever have diaper rash issues, that alone is a reason to consider cloth diapering, your babies comfort! Give it a try, it will soon become a part of your everyday routine that you enjoy and you will feel good about the positive impact on the environment, your wallet and your baby! Happy cloth diapering!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Thunder Thighs

I always had nice legs, even when I was heavier, my legs still looked great. I relied on my legs as my winning body part. My tummy has never been flat, my arms are chubby and my boobs are a mere b cup, but my legs were nicely toned and always smooth. Until I got pregnant.

Suddenly I had great boobs, but something started happening from my hips down, I got huge. I honestly think half of my weight gain was in my belly and the other half was in my poor legs. One afternoon about seven months in, I made mistake of wearing a skirt on my daily walk. It was warm out and I hadn't thought of the consequences. I wasn't used to my thights making out as I walked and by the time I reached my house they were chaffed,  large raised angry red streaks that burned like crazy. Lucky me, I had experienced this on a particularly chubby summer when I was dragged around Boston by my mother who was looking for Paul Revere or something, so I knew what to do. I applied some baby butt paste to the raw skin and and it was healed by morning. My self esteem however, was still pretty chaffed.

It got worse once I bought a full length mirror. My once smooth brown shapely legs were now pasty lumpy limbs that looked like they had been squeezed into too small sausage casings. They weren't even white, they were a sickly oatmeal color speckled with purple. My knees disappeared into my plump thighs and I had a large vericose vein to the left of the right kneecap. Spider veins showed in whispy little patches on my shins and calves. My legs, were ugly.

I feel like I need to point out that I had an extremely easy pregnancy, I should be grateful that I just had ugly legs instead of unbearable morning sickness or gestational diabetes. Now that the weight is slowly coming off, my legs have begun to shrink. They still look pretty gross though. I recently went through all my non maternity clothes and gazed
longingly at all my mini skirts. I fear they are doomed to stay in the bottom drawer for the next couple years until I decide to give them away to someone younger with nice tan toned legs. Maybe I'm too old for them anyway.

On top of now being unattractive, my legs hurt. They ached from being swollen and supporting my growing belly. If you happen to be in the same boat, here are a couple of things that gave me relief.

Long relaxing soaks in the tub with a cup of epsom salt added to the water, the salt is supposed to reduce swelling and baths are supposed to help draw out retained water in your body. I also added about two tablespoons of almond oil to the bathwater as well, it moisturized my skin and just made bathtime feel a little more luxurious. You can get an eight ounce bottle for about three dollars at most natural food stores.

Pedicures are amazing, although my feet and ankles never became swollen it was still heavenly to have them massaged and pampered. Most places also give calf massages and that alone was worth the money. I have never been one to pay someone to paint my toenails, but this was my one indulgance during my pregnancy. Now that Kitty is here, I fantasize about pedicures, it's going to be awhile before I get another one I'm sure.

Something I wish I had discovered while pregnant is Burts Bees Mama Bee Leg & Foot Creme. I used some recently and it is extremely relieving on my still swollen limbs. It has peppermint oil and rosemary leaf extract and is delightfully tingly and cool about five minutes after it is applied. The only downside is that it smells how I imagine a hospital in the 1920's must have smelled. I can't explain it better than that, go buy a tube, you'll get what I'm saying. It might also be irritating to you if you are sensitive to peppermint oil. I was surprised by how intense it was, my eyes stung a bit for just a minute, then I was totally paranoid about getting any on Kitty...but still worth it just for how refreshing it is.

As the weather has become warmer and warmer I am still suffering from the chubby chaffing, I have been told I will get used to it. My reply to that was, "I better not get used to it." So here's hoping my legs someday return to their former loveliness, preferably by Septemeber because I have two weddings to attend and the dresses I purchased for the occasions are on the shorter side. That is, if I even fit into the dresses by then, but that is another blog entirely.