Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Preparations for Baby, Food and Drink

Now that I finished with the herbal preparations for birth, I've been focusing on the food piece. I'm making lots of goodies to enjoy during labor and just after, and I've also prepared a grocery list to make sure the house is well stocked to feed the birth team. 

Labor Ade

Labor and birth are hard work, and it's silly to think a woman can stay healthy without eating or drinking during labor. Last time, I wasn't able to eat without vomiting (thankyouverymuch, castor oil), and I think I stayed hydrated on watered down GatorAde (gross).

I came across these recipes for electrolyte balancing drinks on -of course- Pinterest, and most are very similar. I made a big batch of the base, and then split them up and made two separate flavors. The base contains: coconut water, fresh squeezed orange and lemon juices, local honey, organic maple syrup, and essential oils (lemon and grapefruit). After mixing all that in the blender, I took out about 3/4 of the batch, and added a cup of frozen berries to the rest. Now they can just hang out in the freezer until labor begins, and they should thaw pretty quickly on the counter top.

Protein Power Balls

I used my basic raw lactation bar recipe for these, because it's an old reliable. They contain oatmeal, peanut butter, honey, coconut oil (which I leave out when the bars will be at room temp, it makes them a little floppy), dried fruit (I used dates because they are supposed to be really good in the last few weeks of pregnancy), shredded coconut, flax seed, nutritional yeast, wheat germ, chia seed, cocoa powder, and a bit of vanilla. Usually I just blend all that up and then press them into a pan, but I wanted to have something "pop-able," so I rolled them into balls and then rolled them in granola. I tossed them in the freezer to firm up, and then I'll store them in the refrigerator for a quick snack! (And E loves these as well, so it's a quick and healthy snack for him!)

Protein Banana Muffins

I love muffins when we are camping and other times when I feel like I never get enough protein, so I knew I'd want to have some for a healthy snack in the days after baby arrives. This recipe has banana, yogurt, flax seed, and chia seed. I was so pleased with how beautiful they are, and they taste delicious!

Bone broth 

Bone broth is chock full of highly available minerals and nutrients, making it a perfect during and after labor food. I made a strong stock of grass fed buffalo bones with vegetable scraps, then simmered it down by about a third. It became a thick, gelatin-like broth, which will be the base for my after birth stew as well as a possible food option in labor. 

Smoothie Mixes

A fair number of crunchy mamas prepare placenta smoothies after birth to start getting the enormous benefits of placenta immediately. I'm not certain I'm hard core enough for that, so I've prepped a few smoothie blends to use with or without placenta. These little bags are full of protein powder, greens, berries, and all kinds of smoothie goodness. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Preparations for Baby, Herbs and Oils

It's been hard to truly concentrate on my holiday crafting, knowing that I want everything to be just right for this birth. In all likelihood, we have a month or more before baby comes, but this one could be the exact opposite of big brother, and show up in a surprisingly early manner. The nesting instinct combined with Pinterest has led me to develop quite a huge list of projects I want to have for the birth. Right now I'm focusing on the herbs and the essential oils - anything on my list that contains these two items is getting knocked out this week.

Red Raspberry Leaf Ice Cubes

Red Raspberry leaf is an herb quite admired for its toning qualities. I've been drinking a tea of RRL and other herbs throughout my pregnancy, but in the last few weeks it's recommended that you increase the amount to help get the uterus prepped for hard work. I ran across this recipe for RRL ice cubes that contain honey. I'm an ice chewer all the time, and especially when I'm pregnant, so I figured having these in my arsenal for labor would be an excellent idea - a strong dose of the herb, plus the energy from local honey.

Frozen Pads

Search "Padsicle" on Pinterest, and a million pins will pop up for these herb soaked, witch hazel doused, frozen pads. I had these in the freezer last time, and even though my perineum was intact and not birth-battered, they were a big comfort.

Perineal Crock Pot

A warm compress for the perineum during labor? A mix of essential oils to help protect the skin and promote stretching? YES PLEASE. My crock pot is all ready, just needs water added!

And speaking of the perineum...

Perineal Massage Oil

Many midwives (and mamas I respect) recommend perineal massage in the last few weeks of pregnancy. There are quite a few recipes out there, so I decided to go with oils I know are good for skin - lavender, frankincense, and helichrysum. I've added some vitamin E oil, and put them all in a high quality carrier oil. 

Smoker's Basket

Over half of my birth support team smokes, and I can't stand the smell of cigarette smoke. I'm putting together this little basket of happiness to help me stay in my fantasy world where no one I know ever smells like smoke.

Smoke Away Spray - a little recipe I found on Pinterest (of course) with melaleuca, rosemary, and eucalyptus oils. 

Cinnamon and Clove Toothpicks - Another Pinterest find, I remember men in my family chewing those cinnamon toothpicks, and they always smelled so good. I've been loving cinnamon essential oil lately, so it was an obvious choice!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Grateful and Humbled, and Ready to Pay it Forward

The past few days DH has been the recipient of some wonderful gifts. I will simply repeat his words here, since I can't do much better than this:

Feeling very grateful and humbled. Some very special people in this world. Thank you Doug! You guys have truly inspired me and gave me a huge boost of confidence. I will do my best not to disappoint.

An amazing gift that means he is one step closer to achieving his dream, to become a songwriter. For that, our family can never truly be grateful enough.

It never ceases to amaze me how many hands will reach out and offer what they can, and we must always remember to do the same.

Nursing Through Pregnancy

I read a blog a few weeks ago about one woman's journey of breastfeeding through pregnancy, and found it so inspiring that I wanted to write down my own thoughts and experience.

E was still nursing once or twice a day when I got pregnant, but we had already talked about cutting that back to just bedtime when we got back from our trip to Alaska. I knew he would need extra nursing time while we were travelling, and when I found out I was pregnant the day after we got back, it seemed to line up perfectly.

The first few weeks were fairly easy - he was used to having limits about nursing, and he was well prepared for this new limit, so it wasn't really a big deal for either of us. Around eight or nine weeks in, though, nursing started to get really painful for me; so bad at times that I actually had to ask him to stop, which was tough for both of us. We hadn't shared the news of the baby with him yet, so he didn't understand what had changed. I remember one instance when I asked him to stop because it was hurting me, and he looked up with tears in his eyes and said, "Mama, I don't want to hurt you! I'm sorry!" I was overcome with sadness - my first experience of having to balance the needs of two children.

Within a few weeks, I was unable to express any milk, and E had dropped down to nursing for just a few minutes every evening, and sometimes not at all. He kept telling me there was milk, except a handful of times when he would look up and say, "I don't want this nurse because there's no more milk in there!"

As I came out of the first trimester, E slowed down his nursing frequency even further, without any encouragement from me. For a month or two, I suspected he might wean during the pregnancy. He averaged four times a week for a few weeks, then three, then slowly dwindled down to about once or twice a week. It was a very gradual and natural process, and every few days he'd say with surprise, "Mama! I forgot to nurse. Can I nurse today?" At nearly 30 weeks pregnant, he nursed about once a week, and still seemed surprised that he could possibly not remember to nurse everyday. In the final part of my pregnancy, his nursing frequency has dropped even further - I think he's nursing about once a week, always in the mornings, and rarely for more than thirty seconds. Nursing has been so much a part of his life, his whole life, that he seems bewildered that he doesn't get the urge daily, and is often so busy with his preschooler life that he doesn't think about it.

Frankly, I feel the same. It seems like no time ago that I thought he might never slow down, that I may have to take firm action and set strong limits to wean him. I'm so joyful that it seems to be happening very naturally, and it looks very much like I'll be tandem nursing for at least a little while.

I have no trepidation about tandem nursing. So many friends have told me how much it helps with the sibling transition, and I know it will be quality time for the three of us. I'm certain it will have its challenges, but what nursing relationship doesn't?

We Don't Need Much

This post has been a bit of a challenge to write. I have strong feelings about this topic, and it's been hard to come past that and recognize the generosity of spirit that should be my focus. I've finally trimmed and honed and written as tastefully as I can, so here it is. 

For several months now, people have been asking what we need for this baby. I answer truthfully, "We don't need much at all." When we had E, we planned well for subsequent children. I kept most of his clothes, and we used cloth diapers and breastfed. We bought car seats that would hold up well in gender neutral patterns. And we were truly blessed with a showering of handmade, beautiful and meaningful gifts from our friends and family. So when people ask what we need, the truth is the baby needs very little. 

Our family, however, does have some needs. As we plan and prepare for our healing, magical, and transformative birth experience, I discover we have a few things in our list. 

First, we need everyone's positive energy. In the form of prayers, intentions, messages to the universe, your positive energy as we enter this new season of our life is so appreciated. I've been so pleasantly surprised by the support we've gotten in our plans to home birth - quite different from our experience just four years ago. We were blessed with an abundance of support from our family and friends, but the general public was less open minded. This time, strangers are open and accepting, asking thought provoking and sensitive questions, without the same veil of fear, without making me feel like we are crazy. 

Second, we need to tell everyone thank you for the showering of gifts and support with our first child, and to express that we understand that gifting to a new baby is a tradition, and is heartwarming to the gift giver. Having a baby is a low "things" event in our life, but like everything in life, it does have costs. To that end, we've created a small registry to help our family diffuse the costs associated with creating our perfect birth experience. 

Other offerings we would be delighted to receive: 

Honey sticks (a favorite snack for mama and big brother)
Local honey, fruit, bulk ingredients for making labor snacks
Freezer meals, meats, snacks, etc
Entertainment for big brother In the weeks after the birth, E will certainly suffer from cabin fever, and he would love to take a trip to the local park with some of his favorite grown ups (and kids)! He also enjoys creating with scissors, glue, and paper, so he'd love for you to sit down and create something with him! He also loves to snuggle down and read a book. 
Your thoughtful gift - I'm sure there are people out there who will think of things we may need that I never dreamed of, and we appreciate every gesture from every one of you. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Preparations for Baby, Birth Kit

It's hard for me to remember back to preparing for E's birth. I know I ordered a birth kit and organized the supplies. I remember sterilizing bedding and clothing and towels, stacking those bags neatly in the corner. I remember those birth supplies staring at me from the corner of the room for weeks after his birth, still untouched and perfectly organized and labeled. I remember shedding tears I went through the bags and boxes, mourning the birth I didn't get to have. And I remember how healing and hopeful it felt to pull those bags and boxes out of the attic early in this pregnancy.

In the past few weeks, I've been assembling our kit for this birth - what promises to be a beautiful, perfect, healing birth in the comfort of our home. I've gotten to visit with my old supplies, and merge them with my new supplies. I've noticed differences in the supplies each midwife recommends, and I've found ways to move away from a lot of the waste generally associated with birth - my supplies are full of reusables!

We have our home visit with the midwife and her assistant this week - a kind of orientation and final check of all the supplies. We will show her where the various supplies are, and where to find other important things in our house. As I started to assemble the supplies, I decided to organize things into the order in which they will likely be needed. I know I will appreciate this method, and I hope it makes sense to my birth team.

Each drawer is labeled and they are organized according to
 when we will likely need the supplies

Several people have asked me what is contained in a birth kit. You can find many exhaustive lists out there, but basically we have:

materials to create a perfect atmosphere:  candles, birth affirmations, twinkle lights, essential oils, incense, etc

(I recently saw a beautiful quote about birth environment - "For birthing, create the sort of atmosphere that you would like for a romantic night in... you can romance your baby out!" ~Melissa Spilsted)
Some of the "ambiance" materials.
I'll be posting more on this
 as we get the birth space fully prepared.
materials for the birth tub: liner, water hose, a fish net for getting rid of floating debris (although E thinks there may be a fish in the birth tub), and a few scoops and pitchers for pouring water

materials for mama: pads -both cloth and disposable, peri bottles, herbs, straws, during and after birth clothes, comfort measures such as rice socks, massaging tools, placenta bowl
I found this absolutely beautiful bowl locally,
 and it will be perfect for a placenta bowl!
One of the few things that went as planned in my labor
and birth last time was my labor socks.
 I spun this yarn, dyed it, and knit these socks
with the intention of wearing them from start to finish.
I've darned the holes, and I intend to wear them
 start to finish again this time!
materials for baby: umbilical cord supplies, clothes, hats, thermometer, blankets
Cord materials - E hasn't decided between cutting and
burning the cord yet, so we have supplies to do both
Baby's blanket, ready to wrap my newborn love.
materials to contain the messy part of birth: under pads, gauze, trash bags, gloves, paper towel, heaps of towels and wash cloths, vinyl table cloths, etc

Although we plan to birth in the tub, I figured it was a wise idea to have the bed prepared for birth. I've made what is commonly called (in the homebirth community) a "bed sandwich." Making a bed at eight months pregnant is a tough job, and making a bed TWICE is challenging.
Step 1: Make the bed
Step 2: Add waterproof cover
Step 3: Make the bed again