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It’s been awhile since I’ve posted new content on the blog. Something about having three jobs, a husband and a toddler makes that difficult to do. As I was making pancakes Sunday morning, I decided this would be a good recipe to share with y’all. Please read instructions all the way through before starting.

How To Make Blueberry Banana Nut Pancakes With a Toddler

Set out ingredients: Coconut oil, unsweetened applesauce, banana, 2 eggs, vanilla, cashew (or other) milk, spelt (or GF) flour, almond meal, chopped pecans, himalayan pink sea salt (or other sea salt), cinnamon, ground flaxseed, frozen blueberries.

Tend to toddler who is politely demanding a pear. Peel the pear, because otherwise toddler chews and spits out all the skin and you find it all over the house. Ask him to please sit on the rug and eat it.

Take ~ 2 Tablespoons of coconut oil and melt it in a pan. You don’t have time to measure, so just “ballpark” all of your ingredients.

Toddler is requesting the pear be washed because it fell on the ground. Wash toddler’s pear, and ensure him all is right with the world.

Add to melted coconut oil: a bunch of applesauce (~1 cup), 2 eggs, a little vanilla (~1 tsp), and some milk (~½ cup).

Tend to whining toddler because the dog did something toddler did not approve of.

Where were we? Oh, right, we added wet stuff to a big bowl. Go ahead and add the dry stuff to a bowl. Mix it all together. Then add the blueberries, and mix just until combined.

Make sure pan is hot, and dump heaping spoonfuls of batter onto pan.

Realize you forgot to add the banana to the “Blueberry Banana Nut Pancakes.” Add banana to remaining batter, mashing it with a fork.

Keep an eye on the pancakes and your toddler, flipping over when lightly browned. The pancakes, not your toddler. Meanwhile, stop your toddler from dumping a box of plastic straws into the trash. Pull out a tupperware container so that he can practice putting the straws into container. Give him a blanket to sit on because that rug really needs to be washed.

Remove pancakes when done and put on a plate.

Tend to toddler who is banging on the door to the garage crying “daddy daddy daddy daddy daddy!” Take toddler outside to see that Daddy is busy building a nice wooden garden box. Then calm crying toddler because the sound of the screwdriver is terrifying. Explain how the screw goes into the wood to hold it together and then politely ask toddler to come back inside to eat pancakes.

React quickly to catch toddler who has catapulted himself backwards to initiate full-blown tantrum because he wants to do the opposite of what you’re asking. Calmly explain to toddler that he is hungry and that eating breakfast will solve his problem. Carry toddler who is now screaming, crying and kicking you into the house under one arm, keeping your composure.

Explain the ingredients in the pancakes and how healthy and delicious they will be. Give toddler applesauce to dip pancakes in because ain’t nobody got time for a toddler with a headache from the sugar in syrup (yes, even if it’s the good organic, Grade B kind, I ain’t ready for that).

Sit with your toddler while he eats pancakes because he asked you to “sit sit” and it’s absolutely adorable. Hopefully somewhere in the process you’ve put new batter on the stove and are flipping the new pancakes, because you have to remember to eat too.

After toddler is finished eating, clean him up and send him on his merry way. Finish cooking the rest of your batter, while noticing items being thrown downstairs from the top of the stair, over the banister. Ask yourself if he’s really tall enough to be able to do this already? Notice that the items he’s bending and throwing downstairs are the nice family photos you had printed to frame and hang.

Have a couple pancakes, pat yourself on the back, and consider pancake breakfast a success. Now it’s time to get dressed and get ready to leave.

But first, feed toddler, who is now demanding a pear…no, make that an orange… yes, an orange… right. this. second.

 

Peace, love, and sanity with children,

Melissa

 

I’ve had so much to say on this topic for the past year, but as soon as I sit down to write this post, I find myself staring at a blank screen. I’ve experienced such a huge range of emotions throughout this journey, I truly don’t know where to begin.

Before my son was born, I assumed I would breastfeed him for one year. Well aware of the benefits of breastfeeding and the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation of one year, I thought nothing of it—until he nursed for the very first time, and I immediately wanted to retract my statement. Holy…painful…experience! All I could think of was, “I just gave birth and now I have to endure MORE pain?! This is SO not fair!” After a few days of raw, bleeding nipples and toe-curling pain, I wasn’t sure I would make it another feeding let alone 12 months!

To make matters worse, I was dealing with D-MER, short for Dysmorphic Milk Ejection Reflex. It sounds weird, but what it actually means is that I experienced extreme depression before my milk let down, which then lasted most of the feeding session. As soon as he was finished it would disappear, but it made nursing him very difficult and made pumping almost impossible. I’m extremely thankful that milk supply was never an issue for me, but then of course there are side effects of having plenty of milk. Goodbye morning workouts, or ANY workout for that matter, until baby was fed!

Even with a broken tailbone, I took only 5 weeks off from training, and 6 weeks off from my full time gig at the office. I had this twisted idea in my head that I would have a baby and then go right back to my “normal” life. Unfortunately it took about 8 months, 3 doctors, 1 husband (haha) and an extreme amount of stress before I really understood that I couldn’t continue on the way I was. I would nurse him most of the night (he wasn’t a fan of sleeping through the night at ALL), then teach camp, work my full time job, then train again in the evening. It was easily a 20 hour day, and with an infant and breastfeeding on demand exclusively, it was too much.

Incredibly stressed, suffering both mentally and physically, I needed to reassess my goal. I was at 3 months of breastfeeding, and knew if I had any chance of making it one more day (let alone 12 months), I would have to create a more attainable goal. With the support of my husband and friends and decided I wanted to get to the 6 month mark and then I could quit breastfeeding.

Luckily, reestablishing a smaller goal did the trick! I was able to reach the 6 month mark and after that, I started to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Don’t get me wrong, it was never “easy” by any means. It just got “manageable”. In fact I heard a quote recently that describes breastfeeding quite perfectly,

“Breastfeeding is incredibly difficult, except for when it’s easy.”

Last week officially marked 12 months of breastfeeding and I feel like the most accomplished woman on the planet. I am still working 2 jobs (more than that, actually), and am still breastfeeding without ever having to supplement with formula. I actually worked my tail off to build up a nice supply in the first 4-5 months to ensure my LO would be able to be breastfed as long as possible regardless of how long I made it. With that supply, I was able to help a friend out by donating some breastmilk for her sweet baby. This donation actually helped me in meeting my goal. Knowing that I was blessed with a very generous milk supply and that there are other women who aren’t as fortunate, I felt it was my responsibility to keep going.

This entire journey has been incredibly difficult, yet enjoyable and memorable at the same time. As I look back, I remember crying when nursing, having to do anything to distract myself (lots of squats, usually, because the wave of depression was so intense I did anything to keep my mind off of it), and wanting to quit on a daily basis. I am finally “here” and want to jump up and down and throw my pump off of a tall building, but I can’t. I can’t because I am doing the most beautiful thing for my child. (Also that pump is freakin’ expensive and that would be a totally idiotic move.) I know I have the support of my friends and family if I do decide to stop, and a few doctors have gently suggested I consider it (for my own health reasons), but they are also incredibly supportive of my decision to continue.

I can’t describe the emotions that come over me when I contemplate ending this, and I know that most Mommas understand what I mean by this. I should be ecstatic that I have hit my goal and I should now be able to give myself permission to stop breastfeeding. But I can’t. But I want to. But I don’t want to. I feel selfish. I need to stop. Or do I? I do realize that my full physical and mental wellbeing will not be restored until I stop—but I can’t yet. The mix of emotions and hormones is overwhelming. One second I feel like I could breastfeed forever, and the next I feel like I cannot go on one more day. The amount of hours I have spent sitting still in a chair while my LO eats is insane. Those are hours I will never get back and for a Type A workaholic like myself, that was very difficult for a very long time. However, I thankfully grew to love that time together and as the end draws nearer, I cherish our moments together more and more. Thankfully, Honey Brown Photography was able to capture some of these beautiful moments on film. I will treasure them forever.

For now, I will continue breastfeeding. I no longer have a goal, now the plan is to continue on as long as I feel I can. I think part of my reward for hitting my 12-month goal is to no longer have a goal. There’s something really “freeing” about having hit the mark. I feel like every day I continue on is an extra special bonus for my little angel.

A very special thank you goes out to my husband, friends, doula and family for being so supportive. I’ve called you in tears plenty of times this past year asking for reassurance that if I quit before my goal I was still a good Mother. Thank you for all you have done to help me hit this milestone, I couldn’t have done this without you.

Peace, love, and breastmilk,

Melissa

 

Oh my goodness…guess who’s teething?! Yes, our little bundle of joy has just about every tooth possible coming in at once. Between the teething and the virus he picked up, he’s been a mess and consequently, so is Mom. But that’s another story.

As far as the teething goes, I have been lucky to talk to some very smart, natural people about how to handle this. There’s also some great information online, if you can sort through the mess of information (some true and some not) on the internet. Here is an article I found extremely helpful as I matched my son’s symptoms with the appropriate homeopathic remedy. Mommypotamous also has some great information on the subject. It is very important to watch your baby’s symptoms and to use the appropriate remedy for the best chance of success.

Dosage For Homeopathic Remedies:

Select the remedy that most closely matches the symptoms. In conditions where self-treatment is appropriate, unless otherwise directed by a physician, a lower potency (6X, 6C, 12X, 12C, 30X, or 30C) should be used. In addition, instructions for use are usually printed on the label.

Many homeopathic physicians suggest that remedies be used as follows: Take one dose and wait for a response. If improvement is seen, continue to wait and let the remedy work. If improvement lags significantly or has clearly stopped, another dose may be taken. The frequency of dosage varies with the condition and the individual. Sometimes a dose may be required several times an hour; other times a dose may be indicated several times a day; and in some situations, one dose per day (or less) can be sufficient.

If no response is seen within a reasonable amount of time, select a different remedy.

Truestar Health

So far Hyland’s teething tablets have not worked, but Camilia has worked like a charm! I am also experimenting with Pulsatilla and a homemade remedy made with Clove Bud Oil. I will keep you updated on what works best via the Facebook page.

Baltic Amber Necklaces

I also picked up an amber necklace for him. Baltic amber is a natural analgesic (pain reliever) that can have a soothing and calming effect on teething babies and toddlers. When amber is worn on the skin, (the necklace is not meant to be chewed), the skin’s warmth releases small amounts of succinic acid from the amber which are then absorbed into the bloodstream. (Note: consider for a moment the various soaps, lotions and fragrances you put on your skin. Toxins from the beauty products you put on your skin also make their way into your bloodstream). Amber’s anti-inflammatory and therapeutic properties are also recognized by allopathic medicine.

I picked up our amber necklace from The Nappy Shoppe in Plano, Texas, but you can also find them online. Be sure to buy your amber from a reputable source, as the amber must be real amber to work as explained above. Raw, unpolished, light amber is supposed to work the best, but be sure that the necklace you get for your child is safety knotted! Try searching “The Art of Cure” on Amazon.com if you prefer to purchase online.

Amber also has many benefits for adults as well. Natural healing amber necklaces can relieve pain in the head, neck and throat areas, and are good for congestion. They are also highly effective for controlling the pain of rheumatism, arthritis, and aching muscles and joints. Baltic amber is an anti-anxiety remedy that rids fatigue and weariness, fights chronic inflammation and restores energy. So of course,I had to try it for myself! Stay tuned for how that’s working for me.

Be sure that the amber necklace is in contact with your child’s skin. Also, the necklace should not be worn while sleeping. Instead, double wrap the necklace around the ankle. I alternate ankles each night.

What have you used to help your teething child deal with side effects of teething?

Peace, love and homeopathy,

Melissa

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. Please contact your doctor (preferably a Functional Medicine Specialist or Homeopath) for instructions on how to treat your child. The post above is just my personal opinion on the matter.

 

Being a new mom, I’m terrified of many things, mostly of things I can’t control. That’s why when it comes to things that I CAN control, I’m taking extra care to be sure I give my son the very best. This leads me to a discussion on diaper rash. Prior to our baby’s birth, I researched all I could on remedies to prevent and—if necessary—treat diaper rash.

Here’s what I’ve done so far. Please note that I am by no means an expert—I’ve only been a mom for 4 weeks. But so far, this is working for our baby! UPDATE: Our little one is 11 months now, and this process/products below are still our GOLD standard in diaper rash prevention/treatment!

The Process:

Most importantly, change the diaper regularly. We are currently using Earth’s Best Diapers. (Update 8/2014: We switched to Honest diapers during the day, and cloth overnight). As soon as the diaper is wet, be sure to change it. There’s nothing bacteria like more than a warm, wet environment! Also, use all-natural laundry detergent, natural diapers and natural wipes to avoid allergic reactions. Organic clothing on newborns is also helpful.

  1. Wipe down baby with Earth’s Best Wipes. This removes stool and urine that can contain substances like bacteria, yeast, parasites and other toxins that can cause diaper rash.
  2. Wipe down baby with water using a wet washcloth (we’re currently using GroVia wipes).
  3. Pat dry with a dry washcloth.
  4. From this point, I’ve been alternating treatments. I alternate between just putting him in a diaper, with no special “treatments”, using an Organic Coconut/Arrowroot Powder mix and using an Organic Oil Treatment. The Organic Oil Treatment should only be used every 3 diaper changes (or 2-3x a day), and the Powder Treatment should be used whenever you feel necessary, especially when there is moisture present.

Organic Coconut/Arrowroot Powder

First and foremost, this powder does NOT contain talc, which is a common carcinogen and has been proven dangerous to a child’s lungs. I apply it by shaking a small amount into the diaper, then spreading it across the diaper with clean hands. I apply the powder to the diaper away from my baby’s face so that he does not inhale any of the powder. The ingredients in the powder have anti-microbial properties and help absorb moisture. You can easily make your own powder mix at home, or you can purchase it online. Check Amazon for cheaper prices. If baby experiences a reaction, discontinue use.

Organic Oil Treatment

The oils moisturize baby’s skin as well as protect and disinfect without disrupting the skin’s natural protective properties. I have used this since my son was born for diaper rash prevention AND treatment! Buy online from my Etsy shop! 

Baking Soda Bath

To help neutralize acidity of diarrhea/diaper rash on baby’s skin, pour baking soda in a warm bath and have baby soak in it. Works wonders!

 

Peace, love and healthy baby skin,

Melissa

 

As I sit down to write this, my sweet baby boy is 5 days old (posting at 3 weeks). It has taken me this long to be able to process and come to terms with everything that happened during the last few days of my pregnancy, labor and delivery and the first few days postpartum. Now that I have, I want to share that journey with you, in hopes that I can help other Mommas and Mommas-to-be.

When my husband and I found out we were pregnant, I was dead-set on having an epidural during labor. After a tailbone injury many years ago and a spine doctor telling me it was going to break again during labor, I hadn’t really given it a second thought. That and labor terrified me, so if I had the choice of whether or not I could experience it with less pain, I was going to opt for less pain. Or so I thought.

The Bradley Method

My LWBF partner in crime, Holly Alexander, had highly recommended my husband and I take the Bradley Method childbirth classes. Bradley Method classes are also known as Husband-Coached Childbirth classes and focus on natural childbirth. I spent a few months debating on whether or not to take the classes, because I knew that if I did, I would end up wanting to go natural. After much discussion—and a conversation with the instructor where I explained that me taking these classes was in no way me committing to actually going sans epidural in the end—we ended up deciding to go forward with them. I knew that they would teach us what I would experience during labor and delivery, and being so health-conscious and Type A, it was important to me that I know what was happening to my body in order to best handle the situation.

We went to our first class, and it was awful. I cried the entire way home. It was overwhelming and uncomfortable. The lady’s house smelled like cat pee. I couldn’t breathe. When the instructor asked the class (approximately 8 couples) who was going to go natural, every woman raised their hand. Except for me. I talked to a coworker whose wife was a Bradley Instructor for years. He strongly encouraged me to find a different instructor, one that would be a better fit for me. Now in panic mode because most classes were full, I called an instructor closer to our home and during a time slot that was a better fit for us too. She had one opening.

We went to our first class and it was a completely different experience. It was fantastic. The instructor was personable, down to earth, and also happened to be a Group X instructor, so we immediately had things in common. The other couples in the class were warm and welcoming. This was a much better fit.

The Process

When we discovered I had a bun in the oven, I was actually without an OB-GYN. I had fired my last one because he rudely told me that I probably wouldn’t be able to conceive without medical intervention. You can read that story here. So I called friends, got recommendations and interviewed SEVERAL doctors trying to find the right one. I ended up switching care providers twice before finally deciding on who would deliver our baby. Or so I thought. (Are you seeing the pattern here?)

In the Bradley Method classes, many topics are covered, some of which discuss the chain of events (also referred to as the domino effect) that tend to occur when delivering at a hospital. There are so many rules, regulations, hand-tying and other things that happen in hospitals that make having a natural childbirth there nearly impossible. Typically, once you get to the hospital, you’re on the clock. Not progressing fast enough or Doctors are ready for shift change? You get pitocin. Got pitocin? Well, in a hospital they don’t start you on a slow drip, they’ll crank your dosage up to get you contracting and get that baby out. Good luck enduring that sans epidural. So now you have an epidural. But wait, they’ll need to insert a catheter first. un-anesthetized. Baby is posterior? You get a c-section. Oh did you want a say in this? Sorry about your luck.

All this sounded awful to me, and I wanted no part of it. The problem is, if you ask your care provider if they are “okay” with you going natural, they will probably tell you that they are. What happens in the delivery room, however, is another story. I was so appalled by the lip service I got when talking to care providers. It wasn’t until I dove much deeper that I found out that the likelihood of my care provider being on board with me going natural was slim to none. So it was time to switch care providers AGAIN. I was now 7 months pregnant and again, in panic mode. Fortunately, my doula (a doula is a birth coach, also our Bradley instructor), pointed me in the direction of a midwife. Midwives believe that pregnancy and birth are normal life processes and they seek to eliminate or minimize unnecessary interventions. Well, shoot, this is right up my alley!

The Birth Plan

My husband and I met with the recommended midwife and she was fabulous. We were perfectly happy with her and felt confident in our decision. She also had two doctors who backed her up, should anything “go wrong” and she had privileges to deliver at a natural-friendly hospital, which we wanted. Despite the risks we were taking delivering at a hospital (domino effect of medical interventions), this was our first birth, and we didn’t feel comfortable at a birthing center, which is where most midwives deliver. The hospital we selected was unlike others in that they are very “natural-friendly”, so we felt confident that our birth plan would be followed barring any medical emergencies.

During one Bradley class, we all created a generalized birth plan. We had little yellow strips of laminated paper that each had a short phrase on it. Things like “the use of pitocin”, “use of forceps/vacuum” and “access to water” were all things that were discussed, and we ranked them in order from most to least important. Our class’ birth plan looked something like this.  It was strange discussing the order of things like the use of pitocin because I knew I REALLY didn’t want that, I just assumed I wouldn’t have to cross that bridge. My husband and I then went home and wrote up our own birth plan that we would share with our midwife and the nurse staff at the hospital. It looked something like this:

Melissa Villamizar Birth Plan

Thank you so much for your help with the birth of our first child! We are extremely grateful! Please direct all questions to my husband, Juan, so that I can focus solely on my labor.

Before/During Birth:
• Water Birth—Would like access to the tub.

• No intervention—Would like a drug-free birth, please do not offer me pain medication. I would like to progress naturally, without the use of pitocin.

• No mention of visitors—Visitors will be welcome a few hours after birth so that we may bond with our new child.

• No separation—At least Juan or Melissa with baby at all times.

• Delay cord clamping

• Dark/dimly lit and quiet room—Please refrain from conversation.

• Bath—Use patient’s bath products on baby, be cautious of eyes, product is NOT tear-free.

• Save Placenta—We will be having a funeral home pick up our placenta, as we would like to encapsulate it.

After Birth:
• Minimal interruption—from nurse staff and visitors. Only enter room when Melissa is awake.

For Baby:
• No Vitamin K, No Hep B, No Circumcision

Thank you all so very much! 🙂

 

Ready For Baby

We had everything ready to go by about 37/38 weeks. The birth plan was complete, bags were packed, we had been practicing our relaxation techniques as much as possible, etc. I was ready for the baby…sort of. A baby’s normal gestation period is anywhere from 37-42 weeks. I hadn’t really thought about carrying to 42 weeks, I figured our perfect little angel would come at or around his due date. Our midwife estimated that would be the case, so we had no reason to think otherwise. I was quite disappointed when my estimated due date, August 27th, came and went. But hey, that’s okay—first time moms tend to carry until 41 weeks. Especially those with boys. Then 41 weeks come and went. Once again, I’m entering panic mode.

My midwife would only let me carry until 42 weeks. At this point, I was scheduled for an induction at 5am on September 10th. An induction. With the use of PITOCIN. I had devoted so much time and energy to these Bradley Classes and to preparing myself mentally and physically for a natural labor. To think that I might be robbed of the opportunity to experience spontaneous labor and a natural childbirth was making me sick to my stomach. I had a healthy pregnancy. I have a healthy baby. What is wrong with my body? I had a meltdown on Saturday afternoon. This wasn’t fair. Why is this happening to me? I cried to my husband and told him that at this point I couldn’t remain positive that our son would come prior to the induction date. Mentally, I needed to start shifting my mindset and preparing myself for the induction. I needed to be okay with the way my baby was going to enter this world, and this shift in thinking was going to take a lot of work.

Where is This Baby?

I tried everything possible to induce labor. On Saturday afternoon I saw a massage therapist for a CST massage (cranial sacral therapy). She was totally awesome and a little strange, making it even better. She had seen me for all of 20 seconds before asking me if I had ever had an injury to my sacrum. Crap. She did some feeling around, some energy work, etc. and spoke to the baby a bit. She said the baby is having trouble engaging because my tailbone was in the way. As weird as all of it was, I believed every word. I tried not to stress. She moved my tailbone with firm pressure, and I could feel the baby snuggle down lower and begin to engage, which was pretty cool. It was a great session but unfortunately, by Sunday, my tailbone had shifted back to it’s incorrect position and the baby was once again posterior. Ugh. Sunday I went for my second round of acupuncture, which went well. The acupuncturist told me it was a great session, that my body was much more open and receptive to the treatment. He felt the baby was ready and that I was right around the corner. However, I didn’t get too excited, as I had been hearing this for weeks now.

I took a bath that night, the first bath the entire pregnancy. I lit some candles and I prayed. I knew that God had a plan for me and for the baby’s arrival, I just didn’t know what it was. I told him that whatever the plan was, I was okay with it, and I trusted that he would bring the baby here safely. I went to bed in tears, clutching one of my old stuffed animals and one of the baby’s onesies.

Is This It?

After everything we tried to induce labor, I think all God and the baby really needed me to do was let go. I woke up at 2:15am Monday morning with what felt like terrible menstrual cramps. Was this it? I attempted to go back to sleep, but it was impossible. I knew it had the potential to be a long day, so I grabbed a banana to help get my energy up. I waited a few hours and texted my doula and midwife. The midwife was not going to be able to make the birth due to a family emergency. I wasn’t panicking, but my doula expressed her concern. She asked me about getting a back up midwife to do the delivery instead of the back up doctors. I wasn’t really sure how to handle the situation, so I didn’t do anything. I was really focused on the strong contractions I was having. Knowing my husband would need as much sleep as possible, I waited a few more hours until my his alarm went off. I walked into the bedroom and let him know he wasn’t going to make it to work today. Gosh I’ve been waiting for this moment for so long—to be able to tell him I was in labor! Needless to say, he was excited!

And So It Begins…

The contractions started off lasting about 45 seconds with 5-7 minutes in between them. They quickly jumped to 2 minutes apart, or anytime I tried to change positions. By 8:30am, I started throwing up (I never vomit, so this was a huge indication that this was for real), and we decided it was time to go to the hospital. My doula met us there, and assumed I was in transition. I figured I was too. Sadly, I was only dilated to a 1.5. Oh dear, this is going to be a LONG day (and night…)!

I believe I was on all fours on the hospital bed when one of the back up doctors came into the room. I think I scared him. He mentioned to my birth team that I was definitely a “midwife’s patient” and that he was going to call in a back up midwife for me. THANK HEAVENS. The back-up midwife was truly the most amazing midwife ever. I felt very blessed. Everything does happen for a reason!

My Sneaky Birth Team

I labored in and out of the tub (a small indoor pool looking thing that was set up for a water birth), in various positions and places throughout the hospital. Nothing was providing any relief at all. I was having terrible back pain and it was absolutely unbearable. I think it was about 2 pm when I asked for an epidural. I couldn’t believe I was asking for it, but I also knew I couldn’t continue like this. This pain was unimaginable and I just couldn’t fathom it getting any worse and actually pushing a child out. My birth team put me off, asking me if I could go another 20 minutes. I said yes, and it turned into an hour. We repeated this for several hours. However, a few hours later, I was deadly serious when asking for the epidural. I was in so much pain I would have rather have been dead. At this point this whole birth thing meant nothing to me any more and I just wanted it to be over. I was so severely dehydrated, in so much pain and so defeated, that I just didn’t care. Please give me the epidural. My birth team said I would need two bags of IV fluids prior to the epidural. Fine, hook me up, let’s go.

My oh-so-tricky birth team apparently set the IV drip to the slowest possible setting. It took hours to get two bags of fluids in me. I found out later that they could have given them to me in as little as 20 minutes, but again, were trying to stall me from getting the epidural. Have I mentioned yet what a fantastic team I had? Even if I didn’t feel that way at the time. Thankfully, I didn’t have enough energy to put up a real fight, so they got their way. I was on only a few hours of sleep, no food (so much for that banana) and we’re 15 hours into labor with a posterior baby who is not at all interested in making his grand entrance into this world.

My Husband, My Rock

The IV finally finishes and I ask again for the epidural. Each time I ask for it, they look at my husband to make the final call. Thank God he knows me so well. He knew that I was serious in asking for it, but that deep down that’s not what I really wanted. I am so incredibly proud of him for being able to do this and to be by my side this entire time. I couldn’t have done this without him. Still asking for the epidural, they tell me the anesthesiologist is stuck in traffic. Seriously? Fine. But let’s discuss other options because I cannot go on like this. They say they can give me a low dose of pain meds to take the edge off, or I can wait for the epidural. As natural and anti-medicine as I am, it was tough for me to decide that I wanted pain meds at that point. Luckily they would wear off before the baby’s arrival, and this was one of those cases where the benefits outweighed the risks. I decided to go for it. It was a good thing I did.

I ended up taking a 3 hour nap, waking up for the contractions and falling back to sleep. During some of the contractions, my midwife would shake my hips back and forth trying to get the baby down. Talk about painful! Eventually, the pain meds wore off and once again I was back to asking for the epidural. The team kept telling me the pain meds needed to wear off and I kept asking. My doula finally looked me in the eyes and said, “Melissa, if you get an epidural, they will catheterize you. They will likely need to use pitocin since the epidural will slow things down. Do you still want an epidural?” I reply, “Can they give me the epidural before they cath me?” My doula: “You don’t get a choice, it’s whoever shows up first.” Having had a catheter once, about 25 years ago and being scarred for life, I knew I did not want a catheter. Fine. No epidural. This sucks.

Time For Some Exercise

After the nap, the team got me up and wanted me to walk laps around the hospital to help use gravity to get things moving again. Walking through contractions = not fun. I was complaining about how much my back hurt during our super fun walk, when my doula looked at me and asked me why my back hurt. Confused, I answered, “Um, because of my baby?” She told me to start repeating “that’s my baby” instead of “my back hurts.” Apparently shifting my focus on something positive, like my almost-born child, was instrumental in my labor progress. I walked for about an hour before I tell them I will walk no more. We get back to the room and we check my dilation progress. I’m at a 6.

The team has me in various positions, and finally while squatting, some of my water breaks. (My apologies if this is too much information. If that’s the case you should have stopped reading a while ago!) In an effort not to alarm me, the birth team hides the fact that there is meconium present when the first bag of water breaks. The team kicks it into high gear to get this baby out. I get checked again and I’m at an 8, with a really soft cervix. The midwife asks if I mind if she manually breaks my second bag of water and dilates me to a 10. I couldn’t care less what she does at this point, please let’s just end this! I get to a 10 and they want me to change positions again. We head to the bathroom, which I’m dreading, because my contractions seem so much more painful when I’m in there! I’m sitting on the toilet and pushing with everything I’ve got. It’s so scary, because you’re being coached to push as hard as you can, but it hurts, and you’re scared about how much more it is going to hurt. They tell me it won’t hurt anymore, and I admit they were right. At some point you just “max out” on pain! I’m pushing for what seems like forever, I don’t understand why this baby hasn’t arrived yet. So many people filled my head with unrealistic expectations the entire pregnancy, one of which was “you’re so fit, you’re only going to have to push twice and he’ll be out!”. Um, yeah, for the record, that’s total crap. Being fit has nothing to do with how many times you’re going to have to push until your baby arrives. Especially a POSTERIOR baby with an inverted/deviated tailbone in the way. I’m pushing with everything I have, trying to remember that I stayed fit during pregnancy and that should pay off at some point, but I’m nervous, wondering how much longer I will have to push, because I don’t have much or any fuel left in the tank.

This Is Finally It

I kept asking my birth team how much longer this would take (as if they knew). My Type A personality needed some sort of tool to measure this whole process by. They keep telling me “I’m close.” After what I’ve experienced the last 22 hours, I don’t believe anything they say at this point. They are pretty intent on me getting this baby out quickly, and I hear someone mention that they’re going to call NICU. I try to stay focused but can’t comprehend why they would have to call the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in! What’s wrong with my baby?! They tell me that there’s meconium present, so when I push him out, they’re going to have to cut the cord right away and take him so that they can suction the meconium out of his lungs, ears, etc. That makes me want to cry but I have no energy or fluids for that matter, to even produce tears at this point.

My husband had been holding me from behind, so he came around the front side of me to watch our son being born. It wasn’t until I was able to see my husband’s face light up with excitement that I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. I reached down and could feel the baby’s head. Finally! I stood up, pushed a few more times, and then…it was…indeed…FINALLY OVER!

The Aftermath

After a brutal 22 hours of labor, our beautiful baby boy was here. I was in a complete state of shock. He was perfectly healthy and I actually did survive. I can say with 100% certainty that it is because of my husband, doula, midwife and nurse staff at Baylor McKinney that I was able to deliver this baby without an epidural.

As I sit here and tell this story, I feel proud. But it took me several days and several long conversations with my birth team in order to see myself as strong. I was traumatized by the experience and all I could focus on was the fact that I quit, asking for an epidural. I felt like I let myself and my team down. I felt the energy in the room shift when I asked for the epidural and I imagined everyone throwing in the towel. But they didn’t, and for that I am so grateful. My team reminded me that one of the most important steps in this whole process is putting the people in place that will help you be successful. Fortunately, a combination of my husband and I actively searching out care providers that would help us have the birth we wanted and of course, God being on our side, made that possible.

Had the back-up Doctors delivered our baby, I most likely would have ended up with a c-section. Thinking about that now scares me, but it also makes me incredibly happy, because we were able to change things.

I’ve been asked over and over if I would do it again. At 3 weeks postpartum, I can finally say yeah, I probably will. It’s a conditional yes, however. If my tailbone gets fixed, I will do it again. And I will pray my butt off for an easier labor! And definitely, no more than 2 kids. 🙂

Thank You

If you made it to the end of this post, congratulations, I know it was lengthy. I want to thank everyone that supported me throughout this pregnancy, labor and delivery and let my husband know just how much he means to me. He completed me in a way I never knew was possible. I’m documenting this journey because I want to help other people that might have questions about natural childbirth. Even after a tough labor, I still highly recommend everyone aspire to do it. Natural childbirth is a woman’s birth right and too many times it is taken away from us. We are all capable of doing it and medical interventions should be saved for when they are really, truly necessary.

For those women that weren’t able to have the birth they wanted, I am praying for you. I pray that you can find peace and find comfort in the fact that your beautiful child is here on Earth, just the way he/she was meant to be. People say it doesn’t matter how your baby gets here, as long as he/she is healthy. But to those that worked hard for a birth they wanted, it is still a traumatizing experience, and I pray for peace for all of the Moms out there.

Peace, love and strength,

Melissa

After about 3 days of research, we finally figured out what kind of mattress and mattress cover our little angel will be sleeping on. I think my husband and I have done more research on baby stuff in the past 7 months than either of us did in four years of college! The good news is, I’m going to share all this good stuff with you! Even if you don’t have children, this is an important read in order to keep chemicals and toxins from harming you while you sleep.

Studies have shown that crib mattresses contribute to one of the highest causes of chemical poisoning among babies. Regular (and sheepskin) mattresses contain phosphorous, arsenic and antimony. These elements are naturally occurring in some sheepskins and are added in via the manufacturing process of regular mattresses. Arsenic and antimony are used as preservatives in mandatory flame retardants and phosphorous is a plasticizer used in matters covers. Most baby mattresses contain filling material called polyurethane foam, which is made from petroleum and contains chemical catalysts, surfactants, emulsifiers, pigments and more. Manufacturers listed on the material safety data sheet (MSDS) that exposure to polyurethane foam can cause: possible cardiac arrhythmias, breathlessness, chest discomfort, irritation of mucous membranes, headache, coughing dizziness, fatigue, blurred vision and more. Considering infants spend an incredible amount of time sleeping, this is a huge concern for me.

Adding to that, a common household fungus known as Scopularioupsis Brevicaulis gets established in the mattress from the baby’s sweating, spitting up, urinating, etc. Once it’s there, the fungus feeds off of the phosphorous, arsenic and antimony. The result is a production of three nerve gasses: phosphine, arsine and stibine, all of which can be very deadly, especially to infants. Enter SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). It has also been proven that the risk of SIDS increases with the birth of each child, potentially because mattresses are re-used, allowing the fungus to become more established with the addition of each child.

Although it is not 100% scientifically proven, many scientists believe that toxic gases released from crib mattresses can cause SIDS when inhaled or absorbed by the baby. A large study in New Zealand had a 100% success rate in crib death prevention for the past 13 years. Parents were strongly advised to wrap their mattresses with a specially formulated polyethylene cover. Out of 170,000 (22%) New Zealand babies, not one single SIDS death was reported, compared to 860 reports of crib death prior to this study. To be clear, scientists agree that low density, food-grade polyethylene is the safest plastic available for waterproofing a crib mattress, since it does not contain phthalates or other unsafe additives.

So how do you make sure nerve gasses aren’t reaching your baby?

Well, you either buy an organic mattress or you cover the one you have with a low-density food-grade polyethylene sheeting. It is the safest plastic available for waterproofing a mattress. It has a simple molecular structure and does not contain phthalates or other unsafe additives. Unlike the production of vinyl, dioxins and other toxic chemicals are not released into the environment during the production of low-density polyethylene.

If you’re buying a new, organic mattress, make sure it’s actually organic (as opposed to it having just one organic material and abusing the term “organic”). It depends on all materials used. Even an organic cotton filled mattress can be filled with a vinyl covering, which then likely adds in chemical fire retardants. Check out company ratings in this buying guide. Once you’ve decided on a couple you’re interested in, check them against the tips above to see if any red flags come up. There’s also a very helpful chart and key included in that guide.

A few comments about the buying guide’s recommendations:

Though boric acid is considered by some to have a low toxicity rating, it’s also a roach killer. Also, antimony is listed as a “chemical of concern” but arsenic and phosphorous are not. Double check with manufacturers on whether they contain these two compounds before making a final decision on a purchase. Also, avoid any mattresses that have an un-waterproofed surface. Wool/latex as the surface material is okay, un-waterproofed cotton is no good, because it can get wet and mildew. (Enter S. Brevicaulis). Removable cotton pads/wool pads that can be washed are fine, but make sure they aren’t too cushy, especially if your baby is going to sleep on his/her stomach, as this can interfere with breathing. On that note, a firm mattress is a must-have if you are buying for an infant.

If you are going to continue using the mattress you have, be sure to cover it properly.

  • Cover the top, all sides and most of the underside of the mattress with a polyethylene sheeting that is at least 5 mil thick and free of phosphorus, arsenic and antimony. Leave several venting holes on the underside of the mattress cover so that the gas can escape.
  • Use fleecy pure cotton mattress cover over the polyethylene sheeting and tuck it in securely.
  • Make the bed using pure cotton sheets.
  • Do not use any of the following as baby bedding: sheepskin, moisture-resistant mattress protector, acrylic under blanket, sleeping bag or duvet.
  • Clean mattress covers by wiping with pure soap and water. Do not use chemical bleaches or sterilizers.

If you made it through that entire post, congratulations. If you didn’t, I don’t blame you. Regardless, here’s a quick recap:

Buying for Baby:

Mattress: Should have waterproofed cotton or wool/latex as the surface material. Mattress should be firm.
Cover: Use a low density food grade polyethylene mattress cover or a pure cotton cover if the top of the mattress is waterproofed.
Sheets: Pure cotton sheets. Organic is great, but make sure they’re at least 100% cotton.

For Adults:

These same nerve gasses that could harm an infant could harm you too. Although we have a mattress that is just 6 months old, I do not know what it is made out of and don’t want to take any chances. Especially knowing that if it is emitting nerve gasses, I will absorb them and they will be passed through my breastmilk to my child. Needless to say, we just bought an adult-size low density food grade polyethylene mattress cover here. Although it makes a plastic-y sound when you get into bed, I don’t mind! A small price to pay for better health and my child’s safety.

And lastly, if you’re wondering what mattress and mattress cover we went with for our baby, we went with Naturepedic. Here is the mattress we purchased (or will be purchasing) and here is the mattress pad (waterproof).

Sources:
http://www.cleanhealthyny.org/2011/11/mattress-matters-report.html#more
http://www.cleanhealthyny.org/MattressMattersReport-Jan2012.pdf
http://www.mommypotamus.com/do-sheepskins-cause-sids/
http://www.mommypotamus.com/how-to-buy-a-non-toxic-mattress/
http://www.midwiferytoday.com/articles/bedding.asp
http://www.simplybabybedding.com/safety-facts-dangers-crib-mattresses.html