Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Guest Post: "Overcoming Fear in Order to Heal"

The Fear of the past…
Is something that came to light when I decided to get pregnant again. I never really thought about my first labor experience, until I started thinking about having another baby. I would just look at the pictures of my daughter’s birth, and recall my baby girl being born healthy and becoming a mother for the first time. But when I got pregnant for a second time, all the memories of the labor came rushing back. The physical pain of an unnecessary pitocin induction just because I was 3 days "over due" coupled with a half way working epidural and no preparation on how to cope with contraction pain that was intense with pitocin , had created a negative and traumatic memory. The feeling that really hit me was I went against my one and only instinct I had during my labor, I took intravenous narcotic pain medicines twice, which hardly helped anyways. I had not prepared. I just thought well I will just go to the hospital and have my baby like everyone else. I had known nothing of labor, medications, inductions, and delivery methods. I should have known something before I had my first baby, but I was scared of the pain, had fear of the unknown and the whole experience of labor and delivery at 20 years of age. That first birth was out of control chaos that I didn't want to repeat.
I chose to have a birth without fear…
because this time it HAD to be different. You learn from experience and don’t repeat mistakes, right? I started researching everything I could and gathered knowledge. Most of my research was through the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the American Pregnancy Association. My research confirmed why my instinct told me not to take the pain meds. It also told me why my unnecessary induction experience was so painful and just overall negative, besides my daughter being born well. And I was lucky for my baby to have done well through labor and be born healthy and alert. I suffered a very painful 1st or 2nd degree episiotomy as well. I discovered that I was now personally uncomfortable with unnecessary inductions because it can easily lead to unnecessary risk and suffering for baby and mother. I asked myself, why can't labor and delivery be a happy experience? Why has everyone I known got induced, are we unable to go into labor anymore, or is just inconvenient? Is it possible to look back on your labor and think wow what a great memory? Why not? Why can't labor be a positive memory? Why not? I am a bit of a control freak and perfectionist and the thought of my negative, painful, and out of control first labor was upsetting. I needed to control my body and my labor. This was likely to be my last baby, so I wanted a positive and healing memory this time. So I decided I wanted to try to have a natural unmedicated natural child birth, but I never had full trust in myself to make it without the epidural, although it had only worked on half my stomach last time. I couldn’t let go all the way of my harbored fears from my first labor, my fear of the pain making me want an epidural, fear of getting repeat episiotomy due to scar tissue, and fear of something happening to my baby drove me to a hospital birth again. I was on a budget and read a book called Birth Made Easy by Paola Bagnall and listened to the hypnobirth Mp3 from it every night during my last trimester. I practiced positive affirmations and hypnosis with breathing to counts of four, all in hopes that I could labor all naturally. All the while I was learning to trust my instinct and trust my body, and letting go of all my harbored fears.
Then some problems arose…
At just 24 weeks of pregnancy my OB diagnosed me with low amniotic fluid and monitored me weekly with ridiculously expensive bio physical profiles. I didn't worry after finding out my levels (6-9) weren't worrisome if the baby was healthy. She did tell me to work part time and take it easy the rest of my pregnancy. I started to drink a gallon of water a day and the only caffeine I had was 1-2 sodas per week. Then I found out I was positive for group B strep. So I was glad that I chose a natural hospital birth so I could get the antibiotics for my baby. At my 38 week appointment my blood pressure went up to 130’s/85-95s, which was a little bit high for me considering I had been having low blood pressure (80/45 to 100/70) with symptoms. My doctor told me I was soft and 1-2cm dilated with baby up high, so not much going on. It started looking like an induction was in my future, because my OB was pressuring me already with the three reasons I stated above as her basis. I told her No, I am not inducing until 41 weeks, although she had tried to set up my elective induction for me for 39 weeks. Those three reasons started tricking me into thinking an induction may be needed to. I desperately wanted to labor naturally. For my baby’s health. For my perfect birth experience.
Early labor starts…
At 36.5 weeks I had started walking an hour and bouncing on a yoga ball half an hour, both every night. During these activities I would practice techniques I had learned on my hypnobirth mp3 to relax my muscles so my pelvic floor would not be tense and the walking and bouncing would actually produce progress. I also took evening primrose oil and ate pineapples. I was due with my son November 21st, 2012. On Wednesday evening November 14th after my walk and ball bouncing, I started urinating very frequently with several Braxton hicks contractions. Then I had a sharp uncomfortable contraction, then another 2 minutes later. The contractions continued at 2 mins apart lasting 30sec each. I hopped in the bath tub and relaxed to my hypnobirth mp3 while excitedly pondering if this was it! My Husband packed our hospital bags and timed my contractions…and then they quit after an hour. The next day, Thursday November 15th, I felt like I was having a menstrual period. I had continual dull uterus cramps and low back ache all day with the occasional Braxton hicks contraction. Then the next morning at work, Friday November 16th, I passed bloody mucous. I knew it, I was in early labor! I was excited. I monitored my blood pressure and when I was up and about it was 135/95. It made me nervous because I knew my OB would put the pressure on at my upcoming appointment Tuesday/due date day. So I took out my book Birth Made Easy and looked up natural induction methods in the book to get those wonderful contractions going again. I had already been doing what it said. The ball bouncing, walking, sex, primrose oil, and eating pineapple daily. I continued to read and there it was, castor oil. It said for past due babies though. So I hopped on my birth club online and found the posts about girls taking castor oil. I started counting because I am a number and statistical person and found a success rate of about 30 out of 45 girls who had tried it. With no negative outcomes from any of the girls and baby’s. I had read several birth stories previously that week in which castor oil had been used and actually recommended by midwives and their babies were born healthy. I googled castor oil and came across many blogs with opinions on it and even midwives chiming in on the discussions. I found that it wasn’t studied and the common risk was meconium waters, and most of those cases were over due babies so it was hard to blame that occurrence on the castor oil alone since over due babies tend to have a risk of meconium waters anyways. I needed to have a bowel movement anyways so I decided what the heck, why not try it? It's all natural and I bet its way better than dreadful pitocin as far as the babies and my health is concerned, escpecially since I found it in my hypnobirth book and it had been used by midwifes. So I did it. I took the max recommended dosage around 2pm and did everything else I possibly could to get my contractions started. I walked, ball bounced, etc….And I waited, and got nothing but a few runny bowel movements that were not uncomfortable. I drank a gallon of water (over a couple hours time) and started sweeping the floor. I got in a foul mood suddenly and snapped at everyone around me which was my husband, brother, mother, and daughter. I started crying suddenly. I realized this may be the hormone let down before labor and yet I couldn’t control my level of simultaneous madness and sadness. So my mother and brother took my daughter to my grandmothers for dinner and I went on another long walk alone in the dark and cleared my mind . I thought about my labor and envisioned it all going as planned. I had a feeling this would be one of my last moments alone with myself and my mind and peace. And I was correct. I came in around 8pm, kissed my daughter good night and pondered looking at her as an only child one last time. I went to sleep at 10pm

At 12am Friday November 17th at 39 weeks & 3 days I was awoke by a sharp uncomfortable contraction, 2 minutes later another came. I woke up my husband who had just laid down a few minutes prior and he began to track the contractions with a handy android app called contraction calculator. I started playing my hypnobirth mp3 by Paola Bagnall and went into my deep meditative state, while controlling my breathing to a 4 count. In hypnosis, you do not think. This is a reason why it is so effective and why I mastered it with her book and mp3 my last trimester of pregnancy. The only thing your mind is focusing on is the voice of your hypnosis guide, your breathing techniques, and the occasional check that your muscles are relaxed. Without thinking, negativity and tenseness cannot creep into your mind. I could feel right before the contraction was coming and catch it by starting my breathing. I would visualize it coming in like a wave because it actually felt like that. When I breathed in, I would push out my stomach using my diaphragm and it would naturally stretch my uterus making the contraction feel better. When I would breathe out I would drop my shoulders for deeper relaxation and release any tense feeling in my pelvic floor. My mp3 track gave me positive affirmations and visualizations of my cervix easily opening like a flower bud. The contractions were strong and 2 mins apart every time and lasting a minute every time. After an hour, we called my parents and the hospital. I took a shower and did my hair and make-up in a quiet and peaceful state of mind. My dad was to stay with my daughter at my house because she was asleep, and my mom was coming with me and my husband to hospital to video tape the birth. I gave my husband and mother specific instructions on maintaining a quiet peaceful environment and how to be my birth coach a few weeks prior. We were not telling anyone I was in labor to keep it that way, peaceful and quiet with no break in my concentration of hypnosis. I paced the house and listened to my Mp3, I was so excited because with each contraction I was getting closer to meeting my baby! I was so happy I was in control of my body and handling everything so well and went into labor naturally. I called the hospital and told them the about my contractions being regular for an hour and half at 2 mins apart and they told me to come in to get me and Christians IV antibiotics before he arrived because they take a few hours to administer. I would of labored longer at home if I had not had the group b strep.
We arrived to hospital….
around 3am with contractions steadily 2 mins apart still and strong. I never turned off my mp3 but for a few minutes. They hooked me to the dreadful outer monitors and told me I was a -2 station and 2.5cm. Baby Christian was happy as a clam in my belly on the monitors. I rocked back and forth on the edge of the bed for a while then laid down since it was almost 4am and I was with no sleep. I was in deep meditation which allowed me to doze off between the contractions for a whole 2 mins at a time! My mom and husband took turns dozing off, mainly my husband. They checked me again in an hour and I was the same. This brought me out of my deep meditation and I started pacing back in forth in a 6 foot line and got a little tense. Was this a false alarm? Or do I need to get to walking and relaxing again? They came back in an hour and half and I was the same again, and offered pain meds which I of course said no to easily. So I told the nurse, “I need to get off these monitors so I can walk.” She told my Dr, who hadn’t even popped her head in yet and but was there, and the nurse came back and said “We are going to let you go home.” I thought well ok that is what I want, but I am in about 8/10 pain with the contraction, they are lasting one minute each and two minutes apart, and I am positive for group B and have been in labor almost 7 hours now with consistent contractions, so is this a good idea, to go home like this? My mind answered yes it is, because if you stay hooked up to the monitors you won’t dilate and they will give you the awful pitocin which is bad for baby. If I want to progress naturally, I need to get out of here.

We headed back home…
around 7am. The only time I ever looked at the clocks was when I went into labor at midnight and these two times in the car. In my state of hypnosis there was basically no time. The car ride intensified my contractions. When I got home I was exhausted without having slept and my contractions were very hard so I had to lie down. I was nauseous with every contraction. I had drunk another half gallon of water and was hungry, but couldn’t eat the chicken broth soup and toast my mom brought me. My husband went back to sleep and my mom sat right by my side as I laid in the bed. I was hypnotized to my hypnobirth mp3. Paola Bagnall's voice carried me through every single contraction. I visualized napping in the sun on the beach at Lake Tahoe, and I fell asleep for 2 minutes, then a wave was rolling into the shore, it was the contractions which I woke up for the duration of 1 minute to handle. This process of sleeping on the beach and then waking up to a wave continued for almost 2 hours. I was curled up in the fetal position as best as a full term pregnancy woman could. My mother eventually left when my daughter woke up to feed her breakfast. It was just me and Christian now, my son, working together. A quiet mind will wander, but a focused one will not. All my thinking mind needed to shut off was that constant soothing voice of hypnosis. I didn’t fight the contractions, I never tensed up. I breathed through every contraction to a 4 count, sleeping in between, so relaxed , it was an out of body experience. After those 2 hours in bed, I started moaning quietly through the contractions and I had to get up because the pain was very sharp in my uterus now. My heart raced and I had butterflies. I wanted to get in the bath tub instinctively. Half way there, a contraction came and I fell to my hands and knees. I remained like that till it passed. Falling down like that broke me out of hypnosis for a second and the pain was intense. I yelled for my husband and he helped me get in the bath tub. I knew getting in the bath would help me relax and relieve some pain. It was just me and him now and he kicked in to birth partner gear. He gave me positive affirmations and followed my lead. I noticed during the contractions I was peeing a little in the bath tub. I repeated the contraction section on my mp3, over and over again to concentrate on getting through just the next contraction. Just keep breathing. During this labor my life had taken on a different meaning, to just get through the next contraction. The bath was like a haze as the contractions got stronger and I started losing control of my 4 count breathing. I would exhale by blowing out a long whimper so I wouldn’t have to breathe in very much. My husband was timing it all and said the contractions were now nearly 2 minutes long. I said “Well when should we go back to hospital, it’s from an 8/10 to 9/10 pain, is that good enough to go back to hospital? Do you think it’s time, or maybe I haven’t made any progress? ” The next contraction I felt a sudden heavy pressure press down on my pelvic floor and anus. I peed a little more. I had my husband help me out of the bath tub. I sat down in a squatting position on the edge of a chair and had another contraction with intense pressure , it felt like my anus was turning inside out it was so intense. I got a spurt of nervous energy and paced the room before the next contraction and when it hit I sat down in a spread legged position again on the toilet this time and peed a little more in spurts, and I totally relaxed my muscles and let the pressure press down with all it had. I said “Ok it’s time to go back to the hospital because there is intense pressure coming down and seemingly out of my anus.” It was 10:30am (my husband later told me), only 3 ½ hours after we had first returned home. So my husband dressed me because I suddenly started feeling weak, limp, and shaky. He helped me to the car. The drive was horrible, I moaned loudly with very long exhales and a bucket in my lap in case I got sick. I could feel every little bump in the road. I never opened my eyes. My mp3 finally was off for the first time. I started thinking finally, previously I had only had thought when I was at the hospital and when I was in the bath tub. I was still (barely!) in control of myself. I started thinking out loud to my husband. “What if I still haven’t made any progress? If I haven’t made any progress then I will get the epidural because I am losing control! This hurts. What if this pressure and intense pain is transition? I am shaking and weak and nauseous, I think this is transition…I am scared to do this without an epidural. I understand how those girls on I didn’t know I was pregnant thought they were having a bowel movement because this pressure is all coming out of my anus” In that car ride, I became one with my body. Although I was not in hypnosis, I was still relaxing and meditating. When the contraction would hit, my breathing would become shallow and my body would become completely limp. It was like my body would take every ounce of energy from every other muscle and give it all to my uterus, and I didn’t fight it. My legs were rubber and flopped open. When the pressure would start coming down all I could feel were my lungs trying to breath correctly and the muscles of my pelvic floor, uterus and anus, and I would feel them all try to tense up and fight the pressures pain. I focused in on those muscles and I released them, I let the pressure come down as far as it wanted to without resistance. I was truly becoming one with my body and letting it do what it was designed to do. It was amazing. It was empowering. I was strong.
We got back to the hospital
Around 11am (my husband told me later) Here is the scene: Me in my red pajama pants with black dogs on them, pink and silver tennis shoes, belly hard as a rock In a tight black tee shirt, huge black sunglasses on, messy hair, moaning out loud but quietly, whispering when I spoke, my poor husband helping me into a wheel chair in front of the emergency room. He left me with the check in attendant to park the car, my mom was parking her car at the same time. The ER attendant rudely said “What’s your name and date of birth mam?” I just quietly moaned/whimpered through another contraction and ignored her. My husband came running up and answered all her check in questions. They wheeled me up the elevator and to a labor room. My nurse and husband had to put me in the bed and take my clothes off. I felt too weak to stand and the bath tub and bed had been my best friends this labor (and my hypnotherapist of course) so I happily obliged to the bed. The nurse strapped on the monitors and Christian was still performing excellent on them. The nurse tried to check me immediately and I slammed my legs shut saying “Wait till my contractions over.” She said “Well I have to check you hunny!” I said ”I know just wait”. The contraction was so intense and the pressure made me shake uncontrollably. The nurse checked me for a long uncomfortable time in which her hand was almost going in a circle and I said “What is that? Ouch! What are you doing? Please stop.” And she said “That is your baby’s head , you are fully dilated and ready to go. You already lost your bag of waters?” I said “I don’t know.” I must have left it in the bath tub and toilet right before I left and had close to none since I had low amniotic fluid throughout pregnancy. It was 11 am just 4 hours from when I left the hospital earlier. In 4 hours at home and in the car I went from 2.5cm to 10cm. But here comes the fear in my mind; is my baby going get strep? Well I can’t control that. Onto the next fear, something I can control, my previous episiotomy hurt like crazy after my epidural wore off with my first daughter, I mean I cried it was so horrible. That fear hit me like a ton of bricks. And the fear of a ring of fire during crowning my best friend had described to me as a blowtorch after her natural birth. I said to the nurse “Ok I need an epidural first because I don’t want to feel that ring of fire thing or any cutting or tearing. It’s gonna hurt.” And she said “Oh no hunny I am so sorry it is too late for that.” and she ran out of the room. I yelled after her “But no I really need an epidural first!” My beloved mp3 was gone, my meditation was gone now, and the chaos started. My husband held my hand tight, looked me in the eyes, smiling with a tear in the corner of his eye and said “You are gonna be ok baby you can do it. I love you.” I said “Where is my mom?” She had been told to go in the waiting room while they checked me I later learned. I started to panic; I let the fear come over me like a wave as the wave of nurses started running into the room and another wave of a contraction hit me. I moaned loudly in a low pitch. I said again “Seriously I need an epidural. I drank a lot of water I promise.” They said no again. My mind told me it would hurt, but I didn’t know that for sure. It was fear of the unknown and fear of the past gripping my mind. I said “Ok, well what about some pain meds, I had those with my daughter and she was perfectly fine. I really don’t want to feel that ring of fire thing.” And a nursery nurse with her back turned to me and my husband said while unfolding the babies blanket, “We can’t give you that this late or your baby would have to be resuscitated.” My husband said no out loud and I said no in my mind. I shook my head back In forth as a response and went into my mind Why did you even ask for that, you were adamantly against that anyways because of that very fact, sedated babies and hardly any pain relief. People swarmed about the room setting up the delivery table and baby table. My nurse came over and said “I’m sorry hunny, but look you have made it through the hardest part already, all the labor!” That sentence started to settle, and started stirring something up inside me, my strength. A male Dr came in and said my Dr was delivering another baby right now and he introduced himself. I introduced myself and looked straight at him and said, “Is there anything you can do to help me?” He said “I am going to give you a local anesthetic over your scar here and start your antibiotics” I watched his hands draw the needle and felt the sting on my old scar. The Dr said “You’ll feel this sting. Ok it’s almost time, just 2 good pushes and we’ll have this baby!” My mom had just entered a few minutes ago and excitedly and nervously said “You hear that Melanie, just 2 good pushes and you’re gonna let er rip! When should she start pushing?” The room was very quiet and my eyes were closed, head tilted back. I heard people saying “You’re doing great” Then, another contraction came over me and as I moaned I felt an uncontrolled push happening with a whole lot of shaking and crazy breathing, thinking no I can’t I can’t , but my body was trying to push. The nurse told me hold my breath and started to count out loud for me. I didn’t do it like I should of, I said “I can’t”. Everyone said, "You can do it, just push hard" When that contraction stopped the room got quiet again. I felt a sharp unnatural feeling on my urethra and said “What is that?” The Dr said “I’m sorry but I have to drain your bladder real quick with this catheter because your urethra is beginning to tear from your pushing so hard” He did it fast and took it out within his 2 minute window before I was to push again. The sentences of encouragement where still stirring around inside of my mind , I had done it? I had done it. I labored naturally and controlled my pain up until this crazy transition pressure pain, anyways, just when I thought I couldn’t take anymore, it was delivery time. The nurse had said the hardest part was over already, was she right? Pushing with my daughter was a piece of cake, so this should be easy too right? My perineum was numb so I won’t feel it if its injured again. I turned to the nurse and said “But what about that ring of fire? I’m starting to feel a burning sensation.” Her and the Dr replied “Just push through the pain when you feel it” I said ok, and I thought I’m going to do this this time, I am strong. I got what I wanted, a natural child birth. The sentence reawakened the strength that had only gone away momentarily. I said “Here it comes” and there it was, a huge contraction with a huge amount of pain and pressure. The nurse started her instructions. I breathed in, held it, and pushed as hard as I could, and as soon as I started to push, that contraction pain completely vanished. Like magic. So I pushed harder, and there was absolutely no pain. My mind was relieved, it was like a breath of fresh air as I only felt a huge amount of pressure and a slight burning sensation now and not the contraction anymore. When I got to the count of 6 I started moaning out my held breath, like a relief moan, I knew I probably shouldn’t have but it felt right. I felt my baby moving through the birth canal and it didn’t hurt. The feedback of feeling successful movement of my baby helped me focus on my pushing. I took another breath and I pushed again two more times for long 10 counts and then the contraction ended. The Dr said the head was nearly out and with the next contraction I could meet my baby. This statement, coupled with a nonexistent ring of fire, a numbed perineum, and the super awesome newly discovered fact that when I pushed my pain actually went away, gave me so much excitement! A huge smile came across my face. I asked the nurse “Can we let my bed up higher?” , so I’d be like sitting and she said no, and before I could argue here came my contraction. I took that huge breath in and held it and pushed as hard as I could, I really used every ounce of strength I had in my pushing. I started to moan as I exhaled again through the last couple of seconds of each breath, I thought about that nurse telling me no and my moan got loud. The Dr said “Ok stop, his head is out” I excitedly demanded “I want to hold him!” They said hold on, and ok now push again, and I did with a higher pitch moan, and whooosh, out he came! The Dr put my son on stomach and I was over taken with emotion and joy crying “My baby, my baby! " My baby boy quietly opened his eyes and squinted up trying to find me and my voice, I was in awe as he looked at me. I don’t know if he had started to breath yet, I don’t think he had, but the Dr gave him a little rub and he started to cry. I said “He's so little! It’s ok sweet baby ” Dr clamped the cord and daddy cut it while he was on my chest still. I was so overtaken with emotion! Then they took him to his little bed a few feet away and cleaned him up and weighed him and he stopped crying and started looking around calmly. The Dr said he did have to give me a very small episiotomy, just a few stitches, because the scar tissue was not stretching although he had was trying to stretch the perineum for me. The Dr massaged out my placenta and sutured me quickly; he kept saying that I had done a great job, and an amazing job pushing. I closed my eyes and sighed in relief. I said “It really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be” My son was born Saturday November 21st 2012 at 11:26 am, only 26 minutes after arriving to the hospital at 11am. I labored 4.5hrs at the hospital and 6.5hrs at home. I lost control and let that fear creep in right before delivery for about 10 minutes during my 11 and half hour long labor. Christian Lee Willis was perfectly healthy and was 7lbs 2oz and 21 inches in length at 39weeks and 3days gestation. He had no cone head shaping at all and no puffy eye lids and was born fairly clean. After about 20 minutes of cleaning him up and measuring him in the same room as me, they gave him back to me and left us all alone. He nursed for 20 minutes with ease, just quietly staring with squinty eyes at me and his new food source, just like my daughter did after her birth. My brother and daughter came in and I let my husband and daughter hold our baby boy. Then I fed him again. I hoped up with ease a little less than an hour after delivery. Recovery was so much easier than the first time, although my urethra and bladder were sore for months from being stretched. The contractions were much easier to handle because I could catch them as they came on like wave, building up to a peak, and they were focused on my uterus, with a max total of 9/10 pain in transition. Compared to 10/10 pain with pitocin contractions for several hours with my first birth and they were so hard to handle because they took over my entire stomach and came on out of nowhere immediately strong. My body created a natural epidural due to adrenaline and other hormones that were left undisturbed throughout labor also due to the vagina being stretched so much after crowning that it just goes numb from nerve compression, I started to reflect on what just happened. I had my healing experience that I so desperately needed after my first birth experience. I trusted my body and just let go. I just gave birth without fear. I am strong.
After my experience I discovered Birth Without Fear blog and decided to write my story so I wouldn't forget the details, to inspire women, and to show my children when their first children are one the way. I also found this quote that spoke to me, and it is my hopes that my story and this quote will find someone who is pregnant and inspire them to believe that they are strong.

“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face... we must do that which we think we cannot” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Please follow Melanie on Instagram @Mama_Mel_Mel to learn more about her and her family!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Guest Post: "Nursing in Public at the House of Mouse"

Now that summertime is here, vacations are on everyone’s minds.  And if you are living in Florida with children, Disney World is probably on your radar.  If you’re planning to visit Disney with a nursing child, here is my experience on our first trip there with a toddler.

Nursing for us hasn’t always been a walk in the park, but it has been the single best thing for my relationship with my son, now 19 months.   Nursing in public has been something that I have had to grow into doing.  The first couple of outings when he was still a newborn, I was nervous and hesitant to nurse while out, fearful of someone making a comment or gawking.  I came prepared with a blanket that I could cover him with, but found that I rarely felt the need to use it.  As I became more and more comfortable with nursing in general, nursing in public came easier to us both.  Now I have no qualms about where I nurse him or who may be watching.  I am being a parent the best way I know how by meeting my child’s needs and if anything, I hope that NIP will bring some normalcy to breastfeeding in our culture.  Luckily. I have never experienced any negativity while NIP, though I always am thinking of a few one-liners in case I need to keep any naysayers in check ;)

We decided, spur of the moment, do take a trip to Disney World for a few days in early June.   A few things you should know about my son; one, he doesn’t like long car rides, two, he doesn’t like sitting in a stroller and three, though he is eating solids, he nurses frequently (5-6 times a day).  We were most nervous about the car ride, how many stops we’d have to make to accommodate him, how to keep him entertained, etc.  But surprisingly, he did very well.  We packed some new toys to keep his interest and only found the need to stop once at Ft. Pierce for a snack and a diaper change.  He did get very cranky towards the end of the ride, probably because he needed a nap but rarely will fall asleep in the car.  For babies that don’t like car rides, I would just advise to keep a very lax schedule and agenda.  We didn’t have any time expectations and even anticipated making many stops along the way.  Don’t stress yourself out with strict deadlines if you don’t need to.  During our trip, we also didn’t put the pressure of time lines on ourselves.  We stayed at one of the resorts, so transportation in and out of the parks was easy by bus.  We had hoped he would take some sort of mini nap while being worn in a carrier, but it didn’t turn out as planned (like everything else with children!)  So around 3pm every day, we would return to our hotel room for naptime.  This actually worked in our favor, because since he took a later nap than usual, we were able to stay out later than his at-home schedule.  It’s vacation after all; try not to worry about keeping a rigid schedule (unless the baby needs that, of course).  We found it easier to just run by his cues, rather than making plans.

I also mentioned that my son does not like being in a stroller.  Since we baby wear regularly and he likes walking a lot, we decided not to bring ours.  In hindsight, we probably could have used it, if only to hold our bags, had he decided not to sit in it.  I carried a medium sized purse and my husband carried a backpack, so between those, we fit everything we needed. We carried him for the majority of the time, which was a definite workout.  We used our Tula soft structured carrier, making the frequent up and downs easy.  If your baby will sit in a stroller, by all means bring one.  If they don’t, I would suggest bringing or renting anyways.  The only challenge we saw to families that had strollers was the frequent closing and opening of it to get on buses, trolleys, etc.  With that being said, almost every family there had a stroller, so for the most part Disney World accommodates them in all other settings.

Now onto the nursing.  It was definitely not anything that I saw other mothers doing.  In fact, I can’t remember ever noticing another mama nursing her child (not to say it wasn’t happening, just that I didn’t witness it).  However, we had no problems nursing in the park, and did it frequently.  Disney World is definitely a sensory overload for little ones, with gigantic sights and sounds around every turn.  My son was able to find comfort at my breast whenever he felt overwhelmed.  I nursed primarily while wearing him and no one around knew the wiser.  It was very discreet, so if you have a carrier and are hesitant to NIP, I would recommend using one.  It will make your life easier.  On some of the rides, It’s A Small World in Magic Kingdom, and The Great Movie Tour in Hollywood Studios, I nursed him during the ride on my lap as well.  He eats most of the food that we eat, so we didn’t pack any additional snacks for him, but I did see some other families who had packed foods for their kids without problem.  Another obvious perk to breastfeeding is no need to pack any bottles!
After we returned from our trip, I heard that all the theme parks actually have baby centers, which even have nursing rooms with rocking chairs.  I didn’t have the opportunity to experience these facilities, but what a great idea to take a breather and relax with your baby amidst all wonderful new chaos.  I would definitely recommend looking up those locations on your map during your next trip to Disney World.

Overall, our experience was great and we had no problems with any staff or other vacationers.   My son loved his time there and was able to experience many new things, all while still having the comfort of having his “milky” whenever he needed it.

Christine a mother of one from Florida. She is also a consultant with Ava Anderson Non-Toxic, please check out her business page here.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Guest Post: "Adoptive Breastfeeding is Possible!!!"

From a very young age I knew that my heart, my home, and my family were in Africa. Two years ago I found my heart and home in Uganda and shortly after that I found my family in my (at that time) 12 year old daughter Eva and at the beginning of this year my second daughter Lilly who was just 10 days old. Lilly was abandoned by her birth mother and fed milk straight from a cow for the first 10 (we are guessing) days of her life, this caused her to be severely lactose intolerant and give her severe GI issues. So I began giving her lactose free formula, this helps but she has major tummy issues. I began researching and asking questions and found out the coolest thing ever, adoptive breastfeeding is possible!!!

 So I crazy researched and talked to some awesome moms and decided that Dr. Jack Newman's protocol would be the best for us. I started really tightening up my diet to eat mostly foods that help make milk!

At first baby girl was not interested in trying the breast and got super frustrated every time I tried to nurse her. I would put her to the breast and and she would fuss and cry. This was a hard hit for me, I was feeling rejected and discouraged and some one shared with me something beautiful that honestly may be the only reason I continued trying she said "that is where a baby belongs and is supposed to feel safest, I think it is just where she feels most at peace to let her frustration out" and I thought how true that is and it gave me the strength to keep trying! 

I was told eating garlic encourages babies to latch so I thought why not give it a shot and so I made some super garlic hummus ate it for a snack that afternoon and that night she latched!!!
About 8 days after I started the protocol me and baby girl were getting in the shower I looked down and realized I had milk!!! It was more of a clear milky looking stuff but I knew this was a great sign that this is working!

We still have issues with her latching, my milk is very small but we are learning and loving it and the bond and getting to give my baby amazing nutrition is worth not having my coffee in the morning (I am and addict) and worth every hard moment and every feeling of rejection and every weird look! Mamas you can do this, mamas with low milk supply and mamas of babies that came to them in ways other than from their belly, you have got this! I am in your corner and your biggest cheerleader! Love your babies well!!!

Now here is the logistics of making this work!
 *I am in no way endorsing these particular brands or products they are just what is working for us! Also I am by no means a professional this is just all from personal research and trial and error. 

As previously stated we live in Uganda so we are waiting on our Medela pump and SNS to get here. I highly recommend these two products if you have low milk supply or are re-lactating or inducing lactation. The SNS is a bottle with a small tube that attaches to your breast you fill bottle with formula/donated milk so baby is getting everything she needs right at your breast even if you can not provide it your self, and you are stimulating your body to tell it to make more milk all at the same time!

I would recommend renting a hospital grade pump, that was not an option for us but will be your best bet! Pump at least every 3 hours and once during 1-5 am as that is when your milk production is at its highest, and power pump at least once a day. 

How to power pump:
Pump 20 min
Rest 10 min
Pump 10 
Rest 10
Pump 10

I am also going to be doing the following supplements
Blessed Thistle 
Motherslove More Milk Special Blend
Mothers Milk Tea

The following diet is my personal one and excludes a lot of good things because we don't have access to them here. But you can search Pinterest "breastfeeding food" and find some awesome stuff!

What I try to include in my daily diet: 
~Non-instant oatmeal with either honey, banana, or apples and cinnamon. Keep it interesting as oatmeal is your best friend right now and you don't want to get sick of it! 
~We have a very strong ginger ale here so I try to drink a few a week as ginger is great for supply!
~LOTS of water!!!! Hydration is you bestest best friend! Love the water!!
~Half of a dark beer (I hate it but they say it helps...)
~Lots of carrots as they are one of the few milk helpers available here and I love them! 
~Hummus with LOTS of garlic and cumin as chick peas and cumin are good for milk and garlic encourages her to latch! 
~Green Papaya
~I add garlic to everything! Cause we are all about the latch!
~Rice (we live in Africa so this is a given!)

-Strong herbs or seasonings
-Antihistamines as they are meant to dry you up and this can also effect your 

Like I said I am no professional this is just one mommy to another. Good luck! Ask questions, don't be ashamed, love your babies! Know that at least one person is out there supporting you and cheering you on! 
Much much love, Emily

Emily is the 22 year old mama of 2 beautiful daughters through the blessing of adoption and foster mommy to two more. She is originally from South Carolina but now lives in Uganda, East Africa where she is the founder and executive director of Salvation Ministries and Kwagala Baby Home. She also serves in the local hospital as a midwife and is in the process of opening a birthing center and maternity home. You can read more about Emily, her daughters and their ministry at http://salvationinuganda.blogspot.com/ and find out more about the ministry at http://www.salvationministriesinuganda.com/

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Guest Post: "Our Cannot-Live-Withouts"

I asked mommas on Instagram to tell me what their day-to-day must haves are in their home...here I share Katia's response. What are some of the things you and your little ones simply can't be without on a daily basis? Email me at MommaFriendly@gmail.com to #ShareYourStory! -MommaFriendly

  Motherhood can be quite overwhelming. These days there are so many products out there that can make it even more challenging. You just never know what to expect. As a mom of two there are definitely things that I thought I would need with my first that I didn't care to use with my second. Every child is also different. What one child enjoyed may not be what another enjoys.

  These days I cant possibly function without three things:
-our carrier
-our stroller 
-lavender essential oil

  Our carrier and stroller are lifesavers. We have an Infantino sash meitai carrier. It can be used front, back and hip carry until 35lbs. At the time of purchase it was $30, and it has worked so well for us that I always recommend it. Considering Infantino's not so great carrier reputation this is a good option for parent who cant afford the fancy Baby Hawk meitai for example. Because of the carrier we didn't start using a stroller until recently. We were blessed with a Chicco lightweight aluminum stroller. Its is so easy to maneuver and our son is very comfortable in it. It holds children from 6 months until they reach 3 years old or 50lbs. As our son becomes heavier out carrier gets used for short trips or to help me get things done around the house. Our stroller especially because of the 3 year old gets used for longer family outings or family grocery trips because the 3 year old always wants the cart.

  Essential oils are miracle workers as is. Lavender really showed me the power of them. When we first were given lavender I was skeptical. Our 18 month old was about 15 months at the time and still not sleeping through the night. From the first night we used lavender he slept through the night. It is also so great for teething. To help with sleeping we apply 2 drops to the bottom of each foot before bedtime and put socks on him, and for teething we apply 2 drops to each cheek near the jaw line or area where the teething are cutting. We've also noticed that applying it to the forehead helps to relax even ourselves when we are on edge. 

  As a second time mom there are definitely things I can do without. I see so many pointless things being sold these days. Money goes to waste because you just never get around to using them. The pack and play being one of those. While functional for some moms  and their littles it never really worked for us past 3 months. My boys wanted to be all over the place from really young and hated being enclosed in that thing. I thought they would outgrow it, but it is still just a place to throw things into or make a clubhouse with. 

  While there are things I thought I needed and didn't use; there are also things I never thought I would use, but considered. I was the mom who judged the moms using the harness on their children. Mostly because they called them leashes and dragged their children around like puppies. My first may not have been as mischievous as my second is, but the second time around I am seriously wanting to get one. My 18 month old now is very sneaky. He disappears in
2.5 and won't respond to you calling him. He's already been lost once in a store while we were getting pictures taken. I looked away for one second literally just blinked, and he was gone. Thankfully, he was found safe and sound behind the dressing rooms playing with the mirrors, but it could have been bad. 

  When it comes down to baby items at this age or any age really my advice would be to keep it to a minimum. Buy things as you need them. Don't overwhelm yourself with items that your baby may not even like. Give yourself enough room to try things and see if baby adjusts to them enough to like them. 

My name is Katia, I am 23 years old, and a mom of two boys. The boys are 3 and 18 months. We currently live in the Orlando, FL area, but are from the state of Connecticut. We love it down here as it is so family oriented. Our days are spent swimming, playing at the park, or watching turtles at the pond. That's when we're not working of course. I created my blog as a way to cope with how overwhelmed I was having two under 2 years old. Its not based on anything except my real life, thoughts and feelings. Sometimes I brag about the good days and others I rant about a bad day. You can follow me on Instagram under @katiaxo__0601 or follow my blog.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Guest Post: "How I Met My Littlest Valentine"

At 41 weeks and 1 day pregnant around 6:30pm on Thursday February 13 I changed positions on the sofa and felt some type of liquid come out of me. Assuming that I peed myself I headed into the bathroom but there wasn’t the smell of pee. I sat back down and went onto my online pregnancy support group asking if they thought it was pee or amniotic fluid. I called my doula and she said to call the midwife and figure out what to do. I put another pair of underwear on to see if I was still leaking and sure enough I was. I woke up Evan and said “My water broke. I think this is it. I think we’re having a baby today.” Evan shot right up and got out of bed in a total panic. He had to shower, his bag wasn’t totally packed, the house was a mess. I called the midwife and she said to head to the hospital. My plan was the birth center so I was a bit panicked. I was terrified of not laboring fast enough, being pumped with drugs, and getting forced into a cesarean. Evan kept telling me everything would be okay and we were probably just going to the hospital because the birth center had closed that day due to the snow and the parking lot was most likely not plowed. I called my Mom and told her I thought my water broke and I needed to go in to get the fluid tested. 

My parents came over as quickly as they could. Fitting the four of us, our bags, and my birth ball in my Dad’s truck was not an easy task. On top of that my mother thought I would be cold so she had the heat up. I was sweating my butt off and asked them to open the windows. There was some where between 6 to 12 inches of snow on the ground and it was still snowing when we were on the road.  We got to the hospital and I totally forgot how to get to the maternity ward so I waited in line at the front desk and got directions. We got checked in and Evan sat with me in a room waiting for someone to come in to check me. The woman who came in was very ill mannered and seemed annoyed that I had questions. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen because I didn’t have a hospital birth in my mind and I was confused about being Group B Strep positive and having my water break before labor. The woman told me I needed to be checked in and that it was amniotic fluid and we had to start an induction. Tears immediately began for the fear of needles, air bubbles in the line, medical interventions leading to cesarean. I felt so rushed from the doctor, nurses, the millions of questions my parents had, and the amount of emotions I was feeling on top of worrying about how Evan was. After arriving in the delivery room the nurses came in for the antibiotic IV and pitocin. My midwife was in the room and told the nurses that my veins are hard to find and they would need the IV team but the nurse was convinced she could do it herself. She couldn’t. It hurt quite a bit while she wiggled the needle around in my arm trying to figure out where it needed to go. She finally gave up and called the IV team. Another nurse catalogued my belongings and asked if all my jewelry could be easily removed in case there was a cause for a cesarean. That made my mind race even more than it already was. During all this time I was crying and trying to remember to stay calm and breathe. After being hooked up to everything the midwife checked me for dilation and I was about one and a half centimeters. 

Once everything settled I called my doula who was upset that she wasn’t able to be there from the very beginning of everything. She arrived sometime around midnight and told me what to expect. She suggested I try to get some sleep but since Evan works nights I was sort of on his schedule and he was wide awake. We watched Mob Wives and Couples Therapy and then the local news. Evan and my doula eventually fell asleep and I tried to sleep as well. I was hooked up to a blood pressure cuff that had to go off every 15 minutes. Because I’m fat I need an adult thigh cuff for an accurate reading. I was constantly woken up from the machine going off on top of the fact that the cuff didn’t fit and made my arm twitch and go numb. A nurse periodically came in because the readings were off and I tried to explain what size cuff I needed. The nurse told me that size didn’t exist and moved the cuff to my forearm which didn’t really make a difference. I’m not sure how much sleep I got but I did sleep a little bit. 

On Friday February 14 we woke up sometime around 7:00am. At 9:00am I was checked and was 4 centimeters dilated. Evan left to get breakfast while I was with my doula. I sat on a birth ball bouncing up and down waiting for a nurse to come in so I could get on wireless monitoring. After being on wireless monitoring I was able to walk around the room, sit in different positions on the bed, lean against the wall, and do whatever I needed to manage the pain. Evan came back from breakfast with some juice and a rose for Valentine’s Day. He must have spent a fortune in the gift shop but he didn’t want Valentine’s Day to pass without giving me a rose. Laboring was much different than I hoped it would be. The IV was annoying and the wireless monitors kept moving plus I had to get my blood pressure checked every half hour. Luckily the nurses that came with the shift change were so much more pleasant than the ones from overnight. They let me go longer in-between blood pressure checks to not stop my concentration and stopped readjusting the wireless monitors as often as they should have. They even informed every one of my birth plan and wrote a note on my door specifying quiet voices, natural lighting, and to keep the door shut at all times. The midwife came in I think around lunch time and asked if I wanted to be checked. I told her no because I was worried if I wasn’t as far as I had imagined that labor would stall due to my mental state. During breaks between contractions I read birth affirmations and listened to a hip hop play list, I had a classical music playlist but it didn’t distract me enough. My doula told me to turn on whatever music I normally listened to or else I wouldn’t be able to block out the pain. Evan stood behind me massaging my lower back while I was on the birth ball, then my doula would fill in with different massages and suggest other positions. I decided I wanted to walk the hallway. Walking was terrible. I had to stop walking during contractions so I gave up that idea and headed back to my room. 

At 4:00pm I asked to be checked. At that point I was on my birth ball and in a world of pain. I wasn’t sure how much longer I could do it. When the midwife came in and checked she told me I was at 7 centimeters. I laid on the bed thinking there was no way in hell I would have been able to stay at home until this point like I had planned. I had wanted to labor at home for as long as possible and head to the birth center around 7 or 8 centimeters. I think I would have panicked long before this point if I had been at home. I remember telling anyone in the room that would listen that I couldn’t do it much longer. I repeatedly said that it hurt really badly and I couldn’t do it. Evan was behind me in a chair and I was on the birth ball. I leaned back onto him during each contraction. I don’t know if I looked like I was having a difficult time or if it was because I kept saying I couldn’t do it but with every lean back he would whisper in my ear and tell me how strong I was. Hearing him tell me I was doing well was what I needed. It was still awful but I thought if Evan believed in me then I must be able to do it. I asked how long they thought I would be in labor and my doula told me at least two more hours. I looked up at the clock and cried. Contractions came and went and I looked at the clock again. It had only been ten minutes. I thought  to myself “Shit. It’s been ten minutes how the hell can I do this for two more hours?!.”  

After spending almost two hours on the birth ball I decided to go on my hands and knees on the hospital bed. The hospital bed had a setting where the bottom part dropped down and you could sit on the top part with your feet on the bottom part sort of like a chair if that makes sense. So on all fours my knees were on the lower part of the bed while I leaned over the top. I asked Evan for the ultrasound picture of our daughter. I laid that picture on the pillow in front of me and with every contraction I kept telling myself this was all for her. If I could just make it through this contraction I would be one step closer to meeting the sweet baby in the picture. I’m not sure how long I was in this position before I told them I felt like I had to push. My doula told me to wait for the midwife. There was a shift change. I heard them whispering the name of the midwife that was on her way. The second I heard her name I felt so defeated. I knew I was going to end up getting a cesarean. This midwife was the only one during my pregnancy who brought up complications that were going to happen because of my weight. She never spoke to me as though they could happen, it was always they will happen. I had proven her to be wrong up until this point. I was so worried that with the first little thing to go wrong she would tell me I was done and I would have to go to surgery. After those fleeting negative thoughts I remembered the picture on my desk top. It said “Wake up every morning and tell yourself you’re a bad ass bitch from hell and no one can fuck with you. And then don’t let anyone fuck with you.” I pushed all the negativity out and said to myself “You are a bad ass bitch from hell. Do not let her fuck with you. You can do this. Suck it up and do it.” When the midwife came in she checked me and told me I wasn’t ready to push but I told her I had to. She asked me to wait and I was there on the bed wondering how to stop myself from pushing without totally screwing up the labor process. I didn’t understand and I still don’t understand. I don’t get how you can just hold in a baby as if you’re holding in your pee. I pushed. I said it again “I seriously have to push. I can’t not do it.” I heard my doula say “Okay then push.” With her support I started pushing with each contraction. I looked at the clock and it was 6:00pm. I was mad. They told me it would be at least two hours. I had it in my head that by this time I would be holding my baby. I pushed as hard as I possibly could and my God did it hurt. I was pushing, and pushing, and pushing and I finally started yelling at everyone. I yelled “CUT HER OUR OF ME.” I screamed. I screamed and my doula told me to focus. She said “Bring it back in. Control it.” Evan remembered something I had researched. I read that loud noises contract everything tight and low noises open everything up. I heard him say “Growl, Felicia. Get low.” So I did. I made super weird low growling sounds I have never made in my life. I tried to practice these sounds a few weeks earlier but I felt stupid so I gave up on it. I took a deep breath as I felt the contraction growing and as it peaked I pushed my body toward the midwife and growled. I heard the nurses sounding happy with their chatter and my doula said “Yes!! Get mad at it. That’s it.” I continued growling and pushing for what seemed like an eternity.  Evan left to get me more water and when he left I started screaming again. He told me he could hear me from the nurses station, which was pretty far from our room. Again and at least twenty other times I yelled “JUST CUT HER OUT!!” I kept telling them I couldn’t do it and every time I said “This really hurts!” the midwife would say “Well yeah Felicia, it does hurt.” When Evan came back I told him I needed medication and that I couldn’t do it any more. He and my doula both told me I had to be the one to ask. I didn’t want to ask. I didn’t want to be the one to give up. I told them again that it hurt and I couldn’t do it. My doula said “You’re scared. Stop being scared. Stop fighting it. You can do it, you’re just scared.” I realized she was right. I was scared. I was never in labor before. I never felt contractions before. I never pushed out a baby before. I prepared myself for every part of labor and delivery. I researched terminology and knew almost every procedure they would try to do. I remembered I had a right to say no and that they were not in charge of my birth. It was MY birth. What I didn’t prepare for was the pain. But how do you even prepare for something you can’t even begin to comprehend? I had never even broken a bone before. I had no idea how badly labor would hurt. I was scared and I had a right to be. I thought back to my desk top. “You’re a bad ass bitch from hell. You are a bad ass. You can do this.” The growling continued and I got back into my groove. I was doing well but I was totally exhausted. I fell asleep between every contraction and I only opened my eyes to look at Evan. I remember I looked over at him because I couldn’t take it anymore. Evan must have seen in my eyes that I was ready to give up. He grabbed my face and said “You are so strong. You can do this. I’m so proud of you.”

I was doing well until I thought I was going to poop. The midwife told me it was fine and all the nurses said it wasn’t a big deal but I was on all fours and I thought if I pooped it was going to go everywhere. Worrying about pooping hindered me and I needed to switch positions. I layed on my left side while Evan held my right leg up. When I was in this position the midwife told me she had to move my cervix because it was in the way. She told me it would feel like being checked for dilation and that she had to wait for a contraction. With the next contraction she put her hand inside me and moved my cervix. It hurt a lot worse than being checked for dilation. I remember looking at her straight in the eye and saying “OW!” as if my whining would make her stop. I laid there on my side and continued to push like that for an unknown amount of time until I heard the midwife say “I can see a head and there’s a lot of hair.” I yelled “WHAT?! You see the baby?! Am I seriously about to have a baby?!” I looked at Evan and he was crying. Later he told me that once someone could actually see her he realized it was real. You know that saying that women become mothers the moment they are pregnant but men don’t become dads until they hold their child. Evan became a Dad at that moment. He was so happy. I don’t think I have ever seen him that happy. The nurse on my left told me I could reach down to touch the head. This was in my birth plan and I was glad she asked but I said no. She said this was my only chance and I could do it but it grossed me out too much to actually feel a baby down there. I pushed so many times . I was sick of waiting to have my baby in my arms. I felt the burning and I knew it was almost time. I knew the burning was her head coming out and I knew that the moment I felt like I couldn’t continue was the moment she would be out. I have no clue how many more times I pushed but eventually she was lifted out and placed on my stomach. She was perfect. I asked if it was a girl and once they said yes I counted her fingers and toes and told her happy birthday. I kissed her on the head and said “We did it, baby girl. We did it.” Coraline Paige was born at 8:14pm on Valentine’s Day. I was in the hospital and had to have antibiotics and pitocin but I didn’t get anything for the pain and it was an overall positive experience. Pushing for two hours sucked but in the end I got my Valentine’s baby.

The rest was a total blur. Evan cut the cord, my doula took pictures, I was in complete shock. I remember that they said my body had taken over and I wasn’t on pitocin but they turned it back on to deliver the placenta. I told them to make sure no one took the placenta because I was taking it home to be encapsulated. At some point they took my baby to be measured and weighed and I think that’s when I was getting stitched up. They gave her back to me and covered us up. I think they tried to clean the floor a little bit while Evan went out to tell our family that she was here.

Things that happened but I don’t know where they fit in:
-At some point during labor the wireless monitors were not picking anything up and there was trouble with my daughter’s heart beat. I was asked if I wanted internal monitoring and I had remembered that I didn’t but I couldn’t remember why so I just agreed because I thought a cord inside me would be much more tolerable than those annoying plastic circles and a huge piece of gauze around my stomach. I think this was when I was on all fours but I don’t quite remember the time line of everything.
-I threw up twice once I was on my side pushing but I don’t know if it was towards the beginning or end.
-The antibiotics for GBS burned so badly I was in tears until my arm was covered with a wet wash cloth. 
-When it was all over I opened my eyes and realized how many people were in the room. I think there was Evan, the midwife, Doula, and three nurses. I said hello to all of them and apologized for not paying attention to them during the labor process.
-The entire time I was in labor I asked Evan if he was okay and if he needed anything. I was worried about him passing out or not being able to take seeing me in pain. He surpassed every expectation and was completely amazing. 
-The first set of numbing shots before getting stitched up didn’t work and I felt the first few stitches. After telling her to stop and trying to wiggle away the midwife gave me three more shots of numbing stuff and then continued.
-I didn’t realize how warm the amniotic fluid would be or how much there was. My water breaking was a little trickle so as it gushed down my legs during labor I was completely disgusted. I remember the nurses laughing at me because I sat there saying “Ew” over and over again. 

There it is. My birth story. The hospital wasn’t what I wanted but it wasn't the total hell I had imagined. After being in a delivery room in the birth center for my postpartum check up I realized I probably wouldn’t have been able to deliver there. With my anxiety I think I would have panicked and needed the hospital because my pessimist mind wouldn’t have felt safe. I think for our next child, if we’re blessed to have another baby, I will plan on a hospital birth from the begging. I think having the midwives and a doula helped me get the birth I wanted. I’m about 90% sure that if I had an OB there’s no way I would have been allowed to labor and push for as long as I did. 

Written by Felicia T., momma of a beautiful little girl from Reading, Pennsylvania. She is a Domestic Goddess for a living and a human rights activist. Today, Coraline Paige is 5 months old!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Autism, ABA and Gentle Parenting

The first of (hopefully weekly) progress videos for Bu...

I probably won't be posting the weekly videos here unless they deal specifically with a parenting issue, so if you'd like to follow these updates, please join the All For Bu facebook page or subscribe to my YouTube channel.

This vlog is about how ABA (behavior therapy) conflicts with my gentle parenting instincts and how I'm struggling with that...I'd love some input from like-minded parents!

If you can't see the video posted above, you can watch it HERE on YouTube.

Also, if you aren't already, please follow @MommaFriendly on Instagram, where I'm posting about guest post contributions and other random daily tips and funnies as related to pregnancy and parenting.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Autism Vlog - Goals for July through December 2014

Just a little personal update on my son's diagnosis and what it means for the next 6 months of our lives ;)

I'd love to hear from any other parents in a similar position, or even ABA/OT/Speech professionals. Any and all advice is appreciated!

If you're having a hard time seeing the video above, you can click here to see it on YouTube.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Special Needs Homeschooling?

A question regarding special needs homeschooling...

I'm a SAHM of one. We always planned to homeschool even before ASD was in our vernacular...I'm even more passionate about it now because I believe one-on-one teaching is the most effective way to make sure a special child gets exactly what he needs academically, at his own pace.

My 2 year old son is currently receiving therapies through his local Early Intervention office. I have a meeting tomorrow with the school district rep because soon he'll turn 3 and he'll be getting therapies from the school district instead of Early Steps.

Can anyone tell me what my options are as far as homeschooling AND getting therapy from the public school district? I may not be opposed to a half day program a few times a week for socialization, but frankly, I'm terrified of how inept most people in my city are in general, so trusting my special needs child to a stranger that will most certainly not have the patience or understanding of him that I do scares me.

They want to push me into enrolling him in school, and I don't want him to miss out on something that could potentially benefit him, so I'm trying to keep an open mind. At the same time, I don't want to be bullied or feel like I have no choice.

So, anyone else homeschool their special needs child and still receive services/therapies from their public school district? How does that work? Any advice for things I should ask at the meeting or anything I should insist upon?

Thank you in advance, I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

At Home Therapy?

Firstly, a huge thank you to everyone that has contributed in any way to the #AllForBu campaign, and a special shoutout to Jose Marti School in Little Havana, Miami, FL for their outstanding support.

We're setting up a therapy room/learning space in our home for Bu, and we're hoping for any advice or suggestions we can get from other parents or even from professionals that have experience working with special needs kids or kids on the spectrum.

If you can't see the video above, you can watch it directly on YouTube here.

Click here to contribute!
Click here for progress updates!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

My First Kombucha Brew

As part of #TotalDetox2014, one of my goals this year was to successfully brew my own kombucha.

Why kombucha? What is kombucha?

Kombucha tea is made by fermenting sweetened black tea with a flat, pancake-like culture of yeasts and bacteria called the "Kombucha mushroom" or SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). It is not actually a mushroom, but is called one because of the shape and color of the sac that forms on top of the tea after it ferments. The result is a tangy, usually fizzy drink that has numerous health benefits. 

One of kombucha’s greatest health benefits is its ability to detox the body. It is rich in many of the enzymes and bacterial acids your body produces and/or uses to detox your system, thus reducing your pancreatic load and easing the burden on your liver. Because it’s naturally fermented with a living colony of bacteria and yeast, kombucha is a probiotic beverage. This has a myriad of benefits such as improved digestion, fighting candida (harmful yeast) overgrowth, mental clarity, and mood stability. It also has antioxidants that support energy and mood.

Truth be told, I was incredibly intimidated to begin this process. Aspects of it are pretty gross until you wrap your brain around them, and then there's the whole "purposely ingesting bacteria" thing...

This whole process took a little over a month from beginning to end...I started growing my SCOBY from store-bought kombucha on April 14, 2014, and finished recording this video on May 21, with the first batch fully ready to drink and a second batch almost ready for bottling and flavoring!

If the video above doesn't work, you can view the video directly on YouTube here.

Hope you enjoy watching the process, and forgive the shaky camera, ridiculous family moments and sometimes not-family-friendly language ;)

Sources: 1, 2

Saturday, May 17, 2014

I can’t believe some people are DEFENDING this.

Fifteen out of 105 of ob-gyns the Sentinel surveyed have set weight limits for patients, which usually start around 200 pounds or are based on BMI levels.

Most of the doctors said that their equipment and examining tables couldn’t hold larger woman (which smells oddly like bullshit), but some said that obesity comes with more complications that the doctors would rather avoid.

“People don’t realize the risk we’re taking by taking care of these patients,” Dr. Albert Triana, who practices in South Miami, tells the paper. “There’s more risk of something going wrong and more risk of getting sued. Everything is more complicated with an obese patient in GYN surgeries and in [pregnancies].”

Unsurprisingly, many of the doctors who have enacted the weight cut-off also have a history of being sued for malpractice or cover high malpractice insurance premiums.

While doctors can not turn down patients based on race, gender, or sexual orientation they are free to turn away patients based on weight. Though not everyone agrees with the policy.

“This completely goes against the principles of being a doctor,” James Zervios, a spokesman for the Obesity Action Commission said to the paper. “Health care professionals are there to help individuals improve their quality of health, not stigmatize them according to their weight.”

Source: Miami New Times Blog

I weighed about 280 when I conceived. I am having absolutely NO complications. I’m expected to have a perfectly healthy pregnancy and birth. To have turned me away simply due to weight would be discrimination, plain and simple, because weight has nothing to do with health or possible complications. Not all thin people are healthy and not all fat people are lazy diseased slobs.

I argued this point on my facebook earlier. You know what I was met with? A MAN I don’t know defending the article saying, and I quote, “if you care so much about your baby, why are you not in the healthiest condition you could be?”

My response?

ideally I would have weighed less when I conceived, but it was unplanned. Seeing as losing 150 pounds overnight by sheer will and love for my child is impossible, suggesting I don’t care about my baby by not being “at my healthiest” (which actually, I am in spite of me weight) is remarkably fucked up and ignorant. My two cents.”

I saw the article earlier and was already pissed off, so to see a couple of MEN argue that fat women don’t love their kids simply because they’re fat kind of REALLY set me off. WTF do men know about being a woman, about being pregnant, about losing or gaining weight as a woman (because men and woman metabolize differently, in case I needed to point that out)? Answer: NOTHING.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but if the topic is over your head and is something you could never and will never understand, you will only sound ignorant and/or like an asshole by sharing your opinion. Not to mention that owning up to discrimination of any type isn’t exactly an attractive quality.

 I’ve always been considered overweight, obese, or even morbidly obese. I’ve NEVER had a problem with BP, cholesterol, etc whereas several of my thinner friends who don’t take care of themselves have had such problems. I’m not saying I’m the picture of health despite my weight, but I AM of the very strong opinion that simply LOOKING at me shouldn’t be enough to decide I’m not healthy. ssumptions are dangerous, regardless of what they’re based on. Turning someone away based simply on weight is no different then turning them away simply because they’re black, catholic, or gay. NONE of these things mean anything definitely about someone’s health, even if statistics might suggest differently. 

The point I am maki ng is that obesity in and of itself should NOT be reason enough to turn anyone away for treatment. And in this particular case, the insurance companies are applying pressure to doctors that based on their own histories of malpractice, are high-risk doctors, not necessarily because they deal with high-risk patients. 

 I’m willing to repeat my stance til my fingers fall off. Living an unhealthy lifestyle and being overweight are not synonymous. I haven’t had a problem with a doctor, thankyouverymuch but I don’t think anyone else in my position should.  

:EDIT: I juts want to add that just today, I went to the endocrinologist, a specialist that I am supposed to see every 6 weeks throughout my pregnancy simply due to my weight and nothing else…he looked over my blood work and was impressed with how good everything looked. “Beyond perfection!”, he said. He also told me he wished he could give me some suggestions or pointers, but, and I quote “You can’t argue with success!”

So there. 

NOTE: This post was originally dated May 17, 2011...this is the post from my pregnancy blog that lead to the NBC feature on Sizism in OB/GYN offices in Miami. I thought it'd be fun to post it here to show what my perspective on fat-shaming and being a plus size preggo was while I was actually pregnant ;)

Friday, May 9, 2014

Guest Post: "Mother's Day French Toast"

I asked first time moms to share how this Mother's Day would be different for them...This was submitted by Felicia T., momma of a beautiful little girl from Reading, Pennsylvania. She is a Domestic Goddess for a living and a human rights activist.


Mother's Day has been an important part of my life ever since I understood what it was all about. My father left my mother and I around 1996 which created a bond between her and I that we would have never had. I remember thinking for months in advance what I should do to show her how much I appreciate her. Growing up, when my Mom would cook for me, she'd take a bite out of something and tell me there was a mouse in the house. Almost every Mother's Day, I got up extra early to make her breakfast in bed. I made sure to let her know that I too saw that mouse. (In case you're wondering stolen bites of french toast taste better than your own.) Getting up early to cook simple breakfast doesn't compare to the sacrifices my Mom made to take care of me, but each year I tried my best to let her know how much she's loved.
Now that I'm a mother myself, this one Sunday is more exciting than it ever was. The flowers and cards aren't what I am excited about. I'm happy about the title. I am a Mother and I'm now included in this exclusive club of women. When my daughter is old enough to make her own decisions on how to celebrate the day with me, I won't be looking forward to the gifts, I'll be looking forward to spending time with her. I realize now that french toast wasn't the special part of the day. The special part of Mother's Day is celebrating the bond you have with your children. This is a love like no other. This Sunday I will be cuddling my sweet baby and raising up the relationship that she and I will never have with anyone else.