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.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

KMG's First Two Weeks on the Boob

Breastfeeding is hard. I'm sure there are some moms out there who enjoyed breastfeeding from day one, but I was not one of them. Two weeks in and we seem to have gotten in the groove. I did everything I could to prepare myself for this "beautiful" experience. I read books, I attended breastfeeding classes, I bought comfortable nursing clothes, I was ready! What I wasn't ready for was pain worse than anything I had experienced in my pregnancy (other than labor, but we'll save that story for another time).

Kitty latched on fifteen minutes after she was born. She seemed to have the hang of it right away and I was extremely grateful for this, I had heard several stories about babies showing little interest in nursing or having difficulty latching on. She did not have this problem, at all. That first day all she wanted to do was nurse, but since she never seemed to stop, I was convinced she wasn't getting anything. I called my midwife certain something was wrong, there was nothing wrong. By the second night of her life she was nursing up to three hours straight, I felt like someone was rubbing sandpaper on my nipples. I sat on my couch and sobbed while Kitty continued to nurse contentedly. At two in the morning I called one of the midwives, she told me her latch must be off, it wasn't. I had done everything I was taught to do, baby led breastfeeding, changing positions, checking to see if her mouth was in the right position. Everything was right, but after two days straight, anyones nipples would be hurting, At my midwifes suggestion, I ended up sticking a finger in Kitty's mouth and we both fell asleep. She was using me as a pacifier as much as anything else. The next day my milk came in, it was a full day and a half earlier than I was told to expect it. I am convinced it was all that overtime work my insatiable daughter put in.

In all honesty, now that I am not sobbing at the thought of her latching on, it is rather beautiful. I love looking down at her sweet little face while she nurses and stares back up at me. She still clusterfeeds and I can look forward to at least one three hour marathon feeding every twenty four hours, but now it is a mere annoyance rather than a torture sentence.

I'm sharing this story because I am really saddened by how many people I hear have given up on breastfeeding in the first couple of weeks. I don't know if they aren't getting the information they need or if after ten long months of pregnancy added to a crying newborn with a heaping pile of crazy hormones on top, the struggle of breastfeeding is just too much. But this is how I look at it. You just spent ten (although probably closer to nine unless you knew the minute you got pregnant) months making bodily sacrifices for this baby. You gave up alcohol, you gained a ton of weight, you had backaches and crappy sleep. What's a couple more weeks of discomfort for the health of your baby?

The biggest thing I think new moms need to be aware of is, it gets easier, less frustrating and much less painful after a week or two. Please don't give up! There are so many resources out there, take advantage of them, even if it means calling someone at two in the morning. Everyone told me how painful labor was going to be, but nobody warned me about breastfeeding. I was already bound and determined to EBF for at least six months no matter what, but I can see how someone who wasn't quite so gung ho would give up after such a difficult start. Be stubborn! Stick it out because it does get better and formula just can't compare to natures perfect food for your little one. I'm not going to get into the BF vs. FF debate right now, just wanted to share my experience of these first couple of weeks while it's fresh in my mind and to really encourage new moms to stick it out. Babies were born to be breastfed!

Why I Created this Blog

Granola was a food I lived off of while doing Weight Watchers in high school. Every day my lunch was a cup of non-fat yogurt & a handful of granola. To this day, I do not enjoy granola. It wasn't until my junior year of college that I was informed granola had another meaning. Specifically, a guy that I had a crush on said I wasn't "granola" enough for his liking. In truth, I was quite granola, I just happen to rarely look the part. Up until my pregnancy I had been vegetarian as well as on again off again vegan for over twelve years. I believe in living a sustainable and green lifestyle. I consume mostly organic foods and try to buy locaally as often as possible. I am conscious of what I put in my body and conscious of what I put out into the world. The fact that I shower and shave daily as well as dress more or less like someone in a teen clothing store advertisement (which I should probably outgrow one of these days...) seems to overshadow how I live the rest of my life. Which is why I wanted to create this blog.

The name Perfectly Crunchy is how I live my life, which in my opinion is just crunchy enough (for me). The new granola mom speaks to the fact that I am a new mom, but also that there might be another type of granola mom out there. The type of mom that many of my friends are. We cloth diaper, breastfeed, co-sleep and love our little granola babies, but we don't necessarily believe this means we have to sacrifice looking good and enjoying a bag of doritos once in a blue moon!

I don't feel that it's my place to tell other moms how to raise thier children nor do I believe that in my two whole weeks of motherhood do I have all the answers. Far from it! I wanted to create a space to share the things I learn along the way (like why I'm currently in love with my diapering method!) and also for other moms to chime in on what has or has not worked for them.

I hope you enjoy sharing in my journey and take something postive from it!