Preparing for my home birth

It’s finally hitting me the past couple weeks:  I’m going to have another baby.  It only took 38 weeks to figure it out, but at least I didn’t wait until the day of.  I guess I’ve been so busy with Asher and our house that I’ve just put off preparing for the day of Silas’ birth.  No matter, I’m here now and busy mentally and physically preparing for laboring and delivering.  Since this is my second go around, I’ve really felt I don’t really need to prepare like I did with Asher and have to catch up on everything.

Asher and me after his birth less than two years ago...my how we've changed!

Asher and me after his birth less than two years ago…my how we’ve changed!

My husband and I took HypnoBirthing class while we lived in Alabama, which I attribute to my ease of labor and confidence going in.  My only regret with my first delivery was that I couldn’t have Asher at home with a midwife—something I could’ve done illegally, but we chose to use our insurance to pay for an OB-GYN (plus, I didn’t really know a lot about home birthing when we chose our doctor).  I believe the one complication I’m still dealing with from my first delivery would not have happened had I been with my current midwife.  Unfortunately, it’s illegal to have a home birth with a midwife in the state of Alabama (along with the sale of raw milk for human consumption—another topic altogether), but of course, you can do things such as buy and consume all the raw meat you can handle even though there’s a chance you could die from it.  But I digress…

I’m incredibly excited to have this opportunity to [make the decision to] deliver at home with a Certified Nurse Midwife, Brenda Abercrombie.  The difference between my care with my OB-GYN and her is total night and day.  I was essentially ushered around and treated like a pregnant cow.  There was some attempt at making things personal, but I didn’t realize how weak an attempt this was until I started seeing Brenda.  I saw a practice of midwives in Georgia for the first trimester while we were still living in Alabama with Silas, but these women were truly “OB-GYN-lite”.  I would have had a hospital birth (potentially a water birth) just as before except one of the midwives would have stayed with me without leaving my side during the entire labor and delivery.  Ugh, my nightmare!  I like to be left alone with I’m going through contractions or “surges” as HypnoBirthers refer to it.

HypnoBirthing taught me so much about our bodies’ abilities to give birth, the history of childbirth, and the unnecessary fear that plagues expectant mothers in the United States and other westernized countries.  It was truly liberating to learn about how perfectly our bodies are made to create and deliver healthy babies even though the medical community has essentially destroyed women’s confidence in doing so.  God created us yet somehow we’ve turned a natural process into something that necessitates medical intervention.  Of course, medical intervention can be necessary and life-saving, but most of the time it is not.  Women should be well-screened and the midwives they see should be certified as any doctor is.  There was an incident in our area where an uncertified and uncertified midwife caused the death of an infant.  Tragic incidents like this should never happen with an experienced and certified midwife and only fuel the fear out there.

I have read countless statistics out there on the safety of home birth versus hospital births.  The results vary depending on where the study took place and what group conducted it, so ultimately, any decision a woman makes should be done through her own research, experience and prayer.  I listed some links to some of the statistics I’ve read below this post.  I’m confident and comfortable with my decision and hope every woman has the opportunity to have the birth of her choice without doctors, midwives and others negatively influencing their decision.

Since I’m on the subject of empowering women, I think it’s imperative for those of us who have given birth to not discourage women who haven’t with negative birth stories.  I’ve been guilty of unwittingly doing this I’m sure because it is easy to share any life-changing event you’ve experienced without realizing it could be hurting a woman’s confidence.  I’m also incredibly passionate about empowering women’s birthing experiences, which has caused me to get a little “preachy” with women (sorry for those who’ve experienced this).  Unfortunately, childbirth is an unnecessarily delicate situation to talk about that has come about due to decades of women going through overly “medicalized” births as HypnoBirthing taught me…and of course, Hollywood tends to dramatize it a little as well. 😉  We really need to get back to encouraging women and sharing our experiences as necessary without dramatizing some of the less pleasurable portions of labor and delivery or getting “preachy”.

Scary!

Scary Hollywood dramatization!

The people I’ve found to be the least supportive were sadly nurses and assistants involved in first pregnancy.  Numerous nurses and assistants rolled their eyes at me when told them at various stages of my pregnancy that I did not plan on or want any “pain management” methods they offered such as epidurals or drugs of any kind.  This didn’t affect me too badly (and pretty much furthered my determination to have a “natural” birth), but I know every woman is different and this could be a total confidence killer.  I’m sure many women say they’re planning on doing it naturally and don’t, but have any of these women who roll their eyes consider they were one of the knocks on the armor of pregnant women they’re treating that prevented them from having the births they planned on by reacting this way?

As I’m preparing for my second labor and delivery, I’m not dealing with the mystery of it.  Women can’t affect my confidence because I know what to expect.  I’m “in the club” already. 😉  Granted, every pregnancy is different, but the mystery of it all is no longer there.  I had a wonderful birth with Asher, but there’s always a chance of something going wrong no matter where I deliver Silas.  My pride gets me in trouble way too much, and I’m worried it’ll do so in this situation.  Yes, I delivered a 9.5-pound baby in a short amount of time without the use of drugs or medical intervention, but it was by the grace of God.  I played no part in the creation of the heavens and earth.  I’m not special, I was blessed with confidence and determination.  I’m praying God continues to extend His grace in Silas’ birth and gives me an uncomplicated birth and most importantly a healthy baby boy.  I can’t wait to meet the [big] little guy I’ve grown to know and love while inside me!  Blessings to the women out there who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant!

Blessings,

Michelle

Home birth and hospital birth statistics sources:

http://pregnancy.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Home_Birth_Statistics

http://www.webmd.com/baby/news/20100702/home-births-linked-higher-newborn-death-rate?page=2

http://www.uptodate.com/contents/planned-home-birth

Cloth Diapering: Our Reality

We made the decision to use cloth diapers with our son from jump a few months before he was born and after I researched and convinced my husband they were the most economical and practical diapering route we could take. Period. Although I had done the research and came to my conclusions, my husband was a complete skeptic at first, believing we would be using the old school “nappies” complete with safety pins and stains. After having used them the past 19+ months, I think he would even be open to even those now, though.

Our newly folded "stash"

Our newly folded “stash”

At first, we tried a newborn size diaper, but they leaked terribly. I felt like such a failure but never had the urge to give up on them. We tried some normal size diapers (8-35 pounds or birth-potty training size), which made us realize our 9 ½ pound son was simply too big for the newborn diapers. We now have about a dozen newborn diapers that I’m praying our next son will be able to wear for a spell. I’m actually going to attempt to some degree Elimination Communication (EC) or going “diaper-free” with the next babe. This will depend on how much time and energy I have to devote to it, but it would be the absolute most ideal method. You can find more information about this at www.diaperfreebaby.org.

Reason and rationale

Our primary reasons for taking a particular route for our children and family are health and money. Thankfully, cloth diapering gets an A+ on both of these. Along with these two, there is a myriad of rationale behind cloth diapering your baby. Here’s some reasons for our decision on cloth diapering:

  1. Costs. According to the Real Diaper Association, cloth diapering costs a tenth the cost of disposables. The average child costs about $1,600 to diaper for two years according to the site, but I’ve read articles on this being $2,700. We’ve spent less than $1,000 on cloth diapers and cloth wipes for our son. We will use the same diapers on our other children (replacing any overused as necessary, of course), thus increasing our savings for every child we’re blessed with. Cloth wipes offer additional savings, particularly if you make your own wash as I do (with a cup of water, a tablespoon of baking soda and [optional] some essential oils). Instead of having a traditional baby shower (complete with a lot of things any crunchy momma like me won’t use), have a cloth diaper shower where you invite guests to buy one cloth diaper. 24 guests who bring one each could cover all your diapering needs for your baby’s lifetime! Cha-ching! Cloth diapered babies also potty train sooner than babies in disposables, which translates to saving some green and time in diapers. Lastly, so many people are struggling to provide for their families in our country now more than ever—breastfeeding and cloth diapering could help in so many situations!
  2. Health. Disposable diapers contain traces of Dioxin, an extremely toxic by-product of paper-bleaching process that is a carcinogenic chemical and banned in most countries outside the US, and Tributyl-tin, which is a toxic pollutant known to cause hormonal problems in humans and animals. (1) These chemicals can cause rashes and allergic reactions, which typically force a mother to switch to cloth diapers—why not start out with cloth diapers and not go through the trial period?? The Dioxin chemical can cause cancer, birth defects, liver damage, skin diseases, and genetic disorders. (2)
  3. Convenience. Yes, that’s right, cloth diapers are more convenient in many ways. We never run out of diapers. We don’t have to budget for them. If we forget to wash them, which we only have to do every 2-3 days, we can make impromptu diapers with pretty much any cloth while the others are being washed. The notion that cloth diapers are a hassle would stem from the fact you do have to wash and dry them. Good news on this front is you grow completely accustomed to it, or if you’re like me and you’ve never dealt with disposables, you really are clueless to the “convenience” of disposable diapers anyways. As far as time goes, we’ve cloth diapered through my husband and I worked full-time jobs, and now we both go to school full-time and my husband works nearly full-time while we’re completely renovating our house. I’m pretty sure anyone can cloth diaper no matter what their situation is. I’ve heard women complain of the idea of having to deal with poo. If you have a baby, there’s no way around this no matter what diapers you use for one, so welcome to reality. 😉 An exclusively breastfed baby’s dirty diapers can go straight into the wash with scraping any poo off in the toilet anyways, so you get the first 4-6 months easy! Cloth diapers can get smelly, but there are so many cheap and natural cleaning methods to combat this issue. You wouldn’t be able to tell we cloth diaper based on our son’s smell—although he didn’t smell like a baby ever when he was first born because apparently those chemicals in disposables make the babies I’ve been around “smell like babies”. I hadn’t been around enough cloth diapered babies to tell the difference before our son.
  4. Environment. I’m not an environmentalist, but I believe we have a responsibility to take care of what God’s given us. Disposable diapers are horrible for our planet and babies in so many ways. Over 300 pounds of wood, 50 pounds of petroleum feedstocks and 20 pounds of chlorine are used to produce disposable diapers for a single baby each years. (1) 92% of the approximate 27.4 billion disposables consumed yearly in America end up in a landfill, and each diaper can take an estimate 250-500 years to decompose. (1) Ironically, I’ve got cloth diapers that decompose in a landfill in 5 years that I will continue to use for multiple children! Speaking of irony, many people assume cloth diapers waste water; however, the manufacture and use of disposable diapers amounts to 2.3 times more water wasted than cloth. (1)

Our favorite diaper

Last note I’ll make is about the brand of cloth diaper. Everyone has their own opinion on which brands and types work best, so it’s really up to you to decide. We’ve tried 15 different brands of cloth diapers, and our absolute favorite is Tots Bots Easy Fit All-In-One diapers. They are incredible in pretty much every way, but my favorite things about them are the fact they are slim-fitting, soft, absorbent and durable. I highly recommend Velcro over snaps because they’re more customizable; however, the only brand we’ve found that has a durable Velcro is Tots Bots. They cost slightly more than most, but they’ve been worth every penny. Also, if you buy the six-pack I have linked above, they’re about the same as most cloth diapers. Total, we’ve paid around $20-25 each for all our diapers other than the newborn sized ones and those we received at the baby shower. Oh, and did I mention they’re cute??

My favorite Tots Bots pattern: Chicken Little

My favorite Tots Bots pattern: Chicken Little

Blessings,

Michelle

Sources:

  1. http://www.realdiaperassociation.org/diaperfacts.php
  2. http://www.diaperjungle.com/advantages-of-cloth-diapers.html

I’m wholly nuts about Soap Nuts!

Similar to so many cloth diapering mommas, I have attempted pretty much every method of laundering to remove the “stinky” from Asher’s diapers (and cloth wipes, though they hardly take the beating diapers do) since his birth when Jesse and I started the cloth diapering.  I’ll go into our rationale for using cloth diapers in lieu of disposables in another post.  I have found success with several methods of cleaning; however, these methods required numerous washings and rinsing—a big no-no for a house lady on a budget.  Cue the soap nut and angelic ‘ahhh’…

Soap nuts by Greener Living Products LTD

My soap nuts voyage

My soap nuts journey began with a former [male] coworker with whom I spent a lot of time chatting amid work—in particular about parenting philosophies, breastfeeding, cloth diapering…and how best to keep them clean.  Side note:  my very manly coworker is a very involved father of his two wonderful children to say the least and was a tremendous blessing to me since I learned a lot from him and his wife.  We discussed soap nuts several times, but I wasn’t convinced of my need to try them until he and his wife heard the owner of a local cloth diaper store in Columbus, Georgia swears by them.  Of course, this secondhand information prompted an investigation that led me to believe soap nuts are truly God’s gift to the frugal homemaker!

Naturally, my next step was to hype them up to my husband and sister—eh, maybe a little trial should come about before for next super product?  Next I scoured the web for the cheapest soap nuts, which led me to putting a bag in my ever-filling Amazon shopping cart.  There they sat for months until I found a 1.1-pound box by Greener Living Products LTD for about $8 less at MaMa Jean’s Market.  BO-nus because I wholly support local stores, especially this one, and I didn’t have to wait for shipping!

Theory tested…and approved!

The following day I entered my trial period for my glorious soap nuts.  I threw about five nuts in a provided muslin bag and ran them through a fairly heavy wash cycle using the extra water feature on warm (or was it cold?) then dried them in the dryer as usual.  When I threw them in the dryer, I did my typical sniffing for stinkies and they smelled remarkably clean—better than ever before even with my hypersensitive smeller (thank you, pregnancy hormones)!  Wow, I must be dreaming!  After they finished drying, I discovered I had actually been dreaming…they smelled awful!  Ugh!  All my touting and fantasizing of the soap nuts was down the drain with that load.

After four uses, they're still going strong!

After four uses, they’re still going strong!

As my husband could testify, I’m not one to easily give up on things like this—I did give up on homemade dishwasher detergent after a few attempts while I was still working full-time (and only a part-time homemaker), but now that I’m a newly commissioned, full-time homemaker, I will try, try again someday…when we get a dishwasher.  I digress.  Instead of giving up on my soap nuts, I added a couple more nuts to the bag and threw them back in the wash for a second, heavier washing.  After finishing drying this time, they smelled great—not as great as they’ve been in the past with a different washing method, but a whole lot better than the first attempt.

My final trial-and-error session concluded the next washing, which now includes the soap nuts and occasionally a few drops of tea tree oil in the wash.  Ba-zing!  Our cloth diapers are cleaner and smell better than ever at a fraction of the cost.  I’m convinced my first run was a fluke and caused by build-up in the diapers—I also might have washed them on cold, which is a soap nuts no-no.  Apparently there’s a soap nut soak out there you can use to wash in cold, but I haven’t tried it.

Some quick info on soap nuts

–   They come from the berry-like fruit of the Sapindus Mukorrosi tree (yes, I’m looking into growing my own—wholly money saving potential!)
–   They produce Saponin, a natural soap compound found in soap nuts which I like to refer to as God’s soap
–   You do not need a fabric softener when you use them
–   You use 4-6 per bag in the wash, remove the bag before drying and reuse the soap nuts until they run out of soap and turn gray and mushy (4-6 times)—you can test their soapiness by shaking them in water in a glass jar to see if they produce suds still
–   If you accidentally dry them with the clothes, you can still reuse them
–   They’re the most natural detergent on the planet and are safe for everyone and everything
–   You can use them to make a multitude of other cleaning such as a mosquito repellent, shampoo, liquid laundry detergent, an all-purpose cleaner, a window & glass cleaner and in the dishwasher, which I will do…as soon as I get my dishwasher[1]

–   There is a ton of skepticism out there (I certainly was), but I’ve yet to read anything other than reviews from people like me who are entirely blown away by the efficacy of the soap nut

I have yet to use them on our normal laundry since I’ve still got some of my pricier detergent, but they’ll work…if they can clean the crap out of a diaper (sorry, I had to use the pun), they can certainly clean anything!  I think the key is to not give up if they don’t initially work and just find the right combination of wash cycles and essential oils as necessary.  Hopefully, you’ll find the soap nuts to be as much a blessing to your frugal homemaking as they are to mine!

Blessings,

Michelle

Sources:

Matt Johnson, G. L. (2013). How to Use Them. Retrieved February 5, 2013, from http://www.buysoapnuts.com: http://www.buysoapnuts.com/how-to-use-them/