Category Archives: Motherhood

The Flood

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The Flood ( Summer 2016)

 

Wellfleet

 

It is there.

There I must go before returning. Before tending to responsibilites.

There I must go.

There I must see.

It becomes clear as I round the bend that there is simply no more road.

Cars that traveled before me have submitted to their fate, their unfinished plan and pulled over to park.

I decide I must do the same.

It’s gleeful to change course.

To be forced to stop.

To surrender.

To be gently reminded of my smallness

What insignificant monarchs we are. inconsolable children who must have their way.

Nothing and everything, divinity in the smallest, but humble acts.

Magic in washing dishes, tending to children, cooking meals.

No longer will we seek out what can be found within

pilgrimage not to a holy site, but to the corner store for milk and eggs.

Basic duties are holy.

Magic everywhere. ruin everywhere. despair everywhere.

Hope bleeds out of our eyes like open wounds.

How beautiful destruction can be.

The road, now two feet under water is still hot from the sun under my submerged bare feet, but the water passing over it is cold.

Bay water that spilled its banks like an over full tub.

The sea birds seem to not have noticed.
I feel relived that the earth, the storms, the flooding, mirrored what I felt, what we have been going through.

so much pushing and pulling, plotting and planning-arguing and counter-arguing- when I should be surrendering instead.

Heart

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Unknown

 

A new study suggests that women almost always acquire fetal cells each time they are pregnant. They have been detected as early as seven weeks into a pregnancy. In later years, the cells may disappear, but sometimes, the cells settle in for a lifetime.  The research group investigating this possibility followed the activity of fetal microchimeric cells in a mother rat after the maternal heart was injured: they discovered that the fetal cells migrated to the maternal heart and differentiated into heart cells helping to repair the damage. This astounding discovery indicates that fetal stem cells are capable of differentiating into a variety of heart cell types, including “beating cardiomyocytes,” which may heal the mother’s physical heart.

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Heart

Heart,  Blood,  Tissue,  Skin

Deep in the dark waters it begins

cells divide rapidly, form and reform

Movement always

Formation of organs, muscle, bone

and heart

Quickening

Intelligence

Consciousness

Knowing

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I saw his aura, she says, fluttering around yours

months before the seed

He has been waiting for this

They nourish each other, a two-way street

share oxygen rich blood, nutrients, and dreams

heartbeats overlapping, layering

composing a unique song

whether he is destined to take root or float on

the smallest, most potent parts of him become her firmament

her protection

the very valves and ventricles of her ever-beating heart

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The waters churn, form waves

Hips heaving

her soul grips tight, almost follows as his passes through

Sharp sounds, warm skin, familiar voice

even after a lifetime pieces remain

stay behind to keep watch

Shapeshifters

Guarding the beating drum

The rhythm at the core of all beginnings

Never resting

Rush towards the weakest chambers, build new walls, grow new vessels

Age old mysteries reveal themselves slowly

but I always knew

you were my Heart

 

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The Climb

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da boys

I am home with the kids and revising all the time what that means to me.  I am not gonna lie; at first, I  had every intention of going back to teaching in September, when my youngest was six months old. After all, teaching and being a working person has  forever been part of my identity.  But… the economy had different plans and after several job applications and interviews took me nowhere, my partner and I revisited our family budget and realized that it more than works for me to stay home.

Budgeting aside, it’s been far from easy.  This baby was not a regular sleeper and there is still the older child to think about… its much different from just having the one kid…in many ways it would be easier to be work outside the home because at least I would get some mental space, some time with adults, even just an opportunity to complete a thought.  ( If this blog is any example, I’ve been drafting this and several other posts on and off for several months!)  But, as with everything, we’ve learned to adapt and adjust. With the support of my partner I take self-care and me-time very seriously. This support is not something I take for granted since I know and (and feel myself) how very strong the current of “status quo” is on mothers and women in general in terms of caretaking and valuing what we do.  As much as I understand and want to change gendered roles and the effects of patriarchy, that shit is so deeply woven even in the most “woke” of us that I often stumble.  So, no, I could not do this at all if my co-parent wasn’t the determined badass that he is.

With that said, once I get over the ever-present mom-guilt, I try to get writing time in at least one evening a week, go to excercise classes at the local YMCA a couple of times a week, and get together with other moms and in general, grown-ups as often as I can.  Winter time feels isolating enough as it is, but not getting out and about while taking care of young children felt extra isolating. Now that the baby turned one and with Spring around the corner, the care taking load feels much lighter and life, less overwhelming.  I encourage all moms new and seasoned to find their tribe.  We were never meant to go at this alone. That is why I decided to include this lovely comic by Bill Watterson, the creator of Calvin and Hobbes.  This hit me right in the feels:  “To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy … but it’s still allowed.”  

So while my “life’s meaning” might have been defined in one way when I was a 22-year-old new teacher, I am allowed to revise what that means to me know that I am 32-year old mother and always in the future.

You’ll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing…and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you are doing…

Yes, yes, and yes!  Oh my goodness does this ring true in a million ways!  I needed this reminder that self-care, self-love and just being in the moment is a revolutionary act. After all, these kids will grow up in a blink and the work world will still be there waiting for me…

o-WATTERSON-900

 

Thanks for the reminder;)

Horizon

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Etymology of Hoizon is listed as: bound, limit, divide, separate and limit of view.

 

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I am trying to stay positive in the face of uncertainty,

stay clear headed and patient in the face of parenting responsibilities.

Creative in the face of harsh realities

 

And then there’s Meena.

There is no question that child was wrought out of pure love.

I am so grateful for him. For his presence.

 For his warm squishy body next to mine at night

for his big goofy giggles,

for his squels at Ali or cuddles with Chris.

 

Life is not this or that, not black or white.

 It’s energy, light, flow

and always, always movement.

 

I will long for a snapshot of this feeling, this love long after it might pass

Long after I get grey and achy

Long after he outgrows my lap and his chubby cheeks.

The bittersweet passage of time.

How hard I tug and pull to get to the next horizon only to look back and remember what I forgot.

 

How is it some of us can hold so much love, so much light, while others simply can not?

 

Water on Mars. Plastic in oceans.

Families huddled along borders, waiting.

Pushing and pulling against tides, against horizons

 

Can we evolve to something different? Something we have never experienced before?

How much can our container hold?  

 

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Lessons in Waiting : Meena’s Birth Story

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“… a woman must go to the place between this world and the next, to that thin membrane between here and there. To the place where life comes from, to the mystery, in order to reach over to bring forth the child that is hers. The heroic tales of Odysseus are with us, each ordinary day. This round woman is not going into battle, but she is going to the edge of her being where every resource she has will be called on to assist in this journey…We are not a culture that waits for anything, nor are we believers in normal birth; waiting for a baby can feel like insanity.”

"Labor" Selfie!

“Labor” Selfie!

Labor:noun
1.  work, especially hard physical work.

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When I was still pregnant, I had a conversation with my best friend about past labor experiences, namely how our mental state affected the outcome.  Our hopes and fears all manipulated our sense of control. We reflected on all the ways our thoughts are interconnected with how our bodies functioned in labor… So having “been there, done that”, I thought I knew what I was getting into the second time around.

My water broke a week after my due date.  We went into the hospital around 2am on a snowy Sunday night.   I thought it was going to be really fast process since my 1st birth was about 6 hours from start to finish.  With this one, I was disappointed to find out that an hour after my water broke I was only around 2 centimeters.  Although I was contracting (not very strong contractions though), this led me to feel like I should have stayed home longer, (which was too late a this point since being Strep B positive, I needed to get hooked up to an IV for antibiotics.)

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Upon arrival, I was greeted by lovely nurses who were joking around and in a good moods.  It was confirmed that I had some meconium (baby poop) in my waters, but not enough to be concerned about.   Then I was checked by a young resident, who was nice but inexperienced.  He said something to me about offering me a “special medicine” in the morning if I hadn’t “progressed”.  Poor dude didn’t know who he was talking to and I am sure he was surprised when I said I am NOT interested in taking pitocin  (I know that names of your “special medicine”!) … Interventions have their time and place when needed, but I trusted my body to do its thing in its own time.

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Little did I know how much this trust in myself and in biology was going to be tested during this labor.

As the hours sped by and soon turned into a full day and night,  it was becoming clear that no amount of walking, squatting, or birth ball bouncing was enough to get active labor started!   My nerves were getting raw. My labor started so quickly last time it felt like I was being carried away by a strong stormy current- no amount of resistance could hold it back- with my last labor, as in my previous relationship to myself and others-life just happened and I simply reacted and went along for the ride. This labor was different. It wasn’t going to just do the work for me.  There needed to be more give from me, but I needed to figure that out…

I was disappointed that due to the meconium in my water I had to be continually monitored.  This was already a trigger from my first pregnancy (even though that was 6 years ago)- because I associated that belly monitor with giving medical staff the reason for starting unnecessary interventions.  Luckly, this hospital and my new Dr. didn’t come in and bother with me at all.  I was waiting for the ground to be pulled up from underneath me, but other than checking my vitals and putting in my IV I wasn’t being pressured about my progress. I was upset that I could barely walk around with the monitor without it somehow slipping off, making the heart rate unreadable…  I thought “If I couldn’t walk around then this baby was never coming out!”  My doula and nurses kept trying though, and eventually – after several hours- got the monitor to stay working long enough for me to walk and that helped get a few strong contractions going.

I know they say not to go into childbirth with any expectations, but I had already broken that rule.  I not only expected my labor to have started already (I mean, my water broke!)  I also passed that judgment on to my doula and husband, who I feared were some how disappointed things were taking so long.  I said no thanks to suggestions of nipple stimulation at first especially via a breast pump- because I assumed it was more trouble than it was worth- I was gonna start hard labor anyyyyyy minute right now, right?- but also because of some deeper fears that I didn’t realize I felt.  I finally said yes to the pump late that night cause we had to keep trying everything we could.  I assumed that I was on that “24 hours of breaking water” deadline before I’ld be forced some sort of intervention. After talking of the Doctor’s assistant, I was assured that there was no rush, they knew the baby was fine since it was constantly monitored and that I was guarded against infection due to the antibiotic IV drip.  It really was just up to me.

The pump was a surprising trigger that reminded me of the last time I used one- when I was worn out, depleted physically and emotionally, in pain, lacking support from my partner and others… All these years and this new life later, and I was still triggered? Clearly I had some internal work to do before this baby could come out… about 24 hours in, I decided I needed some rest.  We turned the lights low and I ended up sleeping for a couple of hours.

That must have been all I needed to get my mind right cause at about 3:30 am, I was stirred awake by some stronger than usual contractions.  At first I didn’t pay them any mind and tried to go back to sleep, but after a few I realized there was a pattern developing.  This was it!

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I was so thankful for every contraction, moving me closer to meeting this baby! I welcomed the pressure that was moving downward and I squatted with every contraction.  As they got stronger, I was reminded of the massive rush the last time.  This was different. The waves moved slower and I had more control. I imagined myself reaching for “that thin membrane between here and there”.  This child, I felt, was increasingly within reach, in that place between worlds.  I still feared all the waiting though. I was worried that this wasn’t really it.

In a moment of clarity I looked at the time, it was about 5am. Dawn. Fajr.

Growing up I was lucky enough to live with my extended family including my Teta (grandma).  She was widowed fairly young and as a result become more devout.  She wore the hyjab, studied the Quran and prayed five times a day, never missing her call to prayer, even that very early Fajr.  She was the one who was home when I came home from school each day.  Who made sure I ate and prayed and did my homework.  She retaught me how to read Arabic after we immigrated to the states- after my new language pushed the Arabic to the back of my mind.  Being a natural storyteller, she shared descriptions of Palestine so vividly that I felt like I’ld actually tasted the salty Yaffa air, smelled my ancestors orange groves after a rain, and felt the roar of the rockets as they flew over her house in ’48.  Teta is 85 now and is remembering her words less and less. Whatever gender this baby was going to be, we already decided they were going to have her name- Ismat-a turkish name from the time of the Ottoman occupation of Palestine meaning Protector.  

 I remember what Teta said to me about Fajr- about it being the most important of all the prayer times.  She said when you ring in the dawn with the Fajr prayer, you set the right path for your entire day because Allah will be with you through it all.  I always considered how simply witnessing a sunrise felt magical. Watching a new day unfold in quiet stillness held the promise of so many possibilities, it made sense to me that she would call Fajr the most important time for prayer.  As the pressure and tighting of my contractions increased, I remembered her words. I remembered the patience and power of a brightening sky.  I remembered the role of stillness and was reminded to let go of any fears.

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  For only the second time since I was admitted to the hospital, my progress was checked. “8 centimeters”.  I was so giddy! Finally!  This was happening! That’s when I also realized that oh 8 centimeters!  I am entering transition…!  Just then, a nurse came in and asked if I wanted to move to  room 4… aka: first class labor suite, aka; the shower!! Knowing what I knew about transtion being fast yet very intense I said lets go! As soon as we moved in there it was non-stop close together contractions that thankfully had the edge knocked out of them in the shower. It got to a point where even the water wasn’t much of a relief and I knew that it was time.  I alternated holding on to the bed, my doula and my partner during each rush.  I was getting so tired that I was literally falling asleep between contractions! Soon I was feeling the urge the push and again-thankfully was only directed by the medical staff to do what my body was telling me to do. This was hard at first since I never felt the urge to push with my first child and it took me some time to assimilate to the new sensation.  At this point my doula was my lifesaver- she guided and urged me to focus my energy downward instead of out- to use the rush of the contraction to move the baby down.  She helped me focus on my breathing, to direct it downward and use it to my advantage. Every woman should have a doula! Without a doubt, I wouldn’t have gotten through it without her!

At around 8am, my Dr. came in to check me after a few spontaneous pushes and said, “you are at 10 and the head is at 0”.

I asked, “What’s the number we’re going for again?”

“0!  Go ahead and push all you want.  What position do you want to be in?”

“Ummm?” Being asked mid-contraction was a bit challenging…

“You seem to be doing great right there squatting on the bed, go for it!”

…So, I did. I again focused my energy downward and pushed when I felt the urge.  As the head moved down, I paused to take in the new sensations.  It was uncomfortable but so much better than still being in transition! At least now it felt like all that hard work my body was doing was getting somewhere to pushing!  After about 20 minutes of pushing, I was asked to put my hand down to touch the head. I was terrified! Why would I want to do that? After more coaxing I finally put my hand down and was surprised how soft and spongy the baby’s head was.  With renewed energy and purpose I kept pushing. The baby plopped out all slippery! How funny and gross! And then he promptly sprayed baby poop on everyone! He cried all on his own,  got wiped up then was placed on me… where he then peed on me…lovely!

 

A big thank you to the good folks at Memorial Hospital, my doula Jessica, my friends and family that came through with gifts and goodies and my husband Christopher!

Introducing baby boy Meena Ismat Samih-Rotondo!

 A few hours old!

A few hours old!

 

 

the bros!

the bros!

The Final Days: 40 Week Update!

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40 Weeks!

So with Valentine’s Day now behind us the month of February is quickly drawing to a close.

so this came home in my son's vday treat bag from school...

sooooo… this came home in my son’s vday treat bag from school…?

In our house, that means we are approaching The-Flood-of-Birthdays… EVERYONE is born in March! And now that I am passing my due date of Feb 23rd, I am starting to think maybe this baby doesn’t want to feel left out…? Come on child!! Let do this!

40 weeks!

40 weeks!

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Pros:

– Having time for Nesting/ Cleaning/ Baking

-Trying out DIY recipes for lotions/ cleansers. ect…

such as:

homemade facewash: http://www.diynatural.com/homemade-natural-facial-cleanser/

homemade sleepytime lotion: http://thepaleomama.com/2014/07/whipped-sleepytime-rub/

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-Got to try acupuncture for the 1st time! (It was great and I am looking forward to doing it more in the future!)

– Being ALMOST THERE!!!

AND almost spring??!!

spring?

spring?

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Cons:

-Back aches by the end of the day…

-My. Belly. Is. So. Itchy… I am constantly slathering something on my skin.  The combination of winter dryness, showering with hot water ( cuz its been so cold!) and stretching skin has made my skin NOT happy…

– Being this pregnant during this cray-cray winter= freak out about ice/snow

he doesnt mind this snow...

he doesnt mind this snow…

– and WAAAAIIITING!

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What we’re doing:  (Besides Waaaaiting!)

-Installing carseats, visiting friends, collecting diapers…

– Figuring out our moby wrap ( with help from rainbow rasta-lion)

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-filing taxes ( ’tis the season!) and other modern world errands that will be harder to do with a newborn!

-surviving the RI winter ( fingers crossed its almost over!)

-Watching Dr. Who and Sherlock…

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Well, I for one am eager to exchange the discomforts of late pregnancy with that of early breastfeeding and newborn care! Hopefully by this time next week I will be drafting my first postpartum post!

Onward!

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I am not all impatience and disgruntled irritation.  I am embracing this moment for what it is.  A special place of in-between…

Inspiration:

“I believe that this is more than biological. It is spiritual… a woman must go to the place between this world and the next, to that thin membrane between here and there. To the place where life comes from, to the mystery, in order to reach over to bring forth the child that is hers. The heroic tales of Odysseus are with us, each ordinary day. This round woman is not going into battle, but she is going to the edge of her being where every resource she has will be called on to assist in this journey…We are not a culture that waits for anything, nor are we believers in normal birth; waiting for a baby can feel like insanity.”

– Read more at: http://www.mothering.com/articles/the-last-days-of-pregnancy-a-place-of-in-between/#sthash.YgAtDYvV.dpuf

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My Pregnancy Timeline:

1st Trimester

1st Trimester

1st Trimester!

1st Trimester!

Entering 2nd Trimester

Entering 2nd Trimester

about 27 weeks

about 27 weeks

 

32 weeks and counting...

32 weeks and counting…

 

Holidays 2014- 3rd Trimester

Holidays 2014- 3rd Trimester

 

 37 weeks and dropping!

37 weeks and dropping!

 

40 weeks!

40 weeks!

Pregnancy Update: Nesting and Baby Gear!

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Even with my pregnancy quickly getting down to the last moments ( 38 weeks and counting!) it feels like the longest couple weeks of my life. But, being in nesting mode has kept me pretty occupied.   I am super grateful for the amazing hand-me downs, hand-made and bought gifts we are getting. Baby’s don’t need much and I for one hate carrying extra crap around that barely gets used. But there are some needed essentials for a winter baby.

Getting prepared for a winter baby...

Getting prepared for a winter baby…

This time around I encouraged hand-me downs as opposed to brand new items. As a second time around mom, I know how quick kiddies grow and what might or might not be worth the purchase.  And since we left the gender a surprise, we really don’t care about color or style of baby clothes… after all, a baby is a baby (and no I don’t care about a boy wearing pink!) Also… everything can’t be gray or yellow!

As a matter of fact, not finding out the gender has been interesting.  Here I was thinking it was about me and my partner wanting a surprise, but it quickly became clear that it was really about making others around us uncomfortable with the unknown. Like, oh you can’t already assign a personality and life goals to my unborn child? Sorry about the inconvenience of not confirming that said child might be a “mama’s boy” or “daddy’s little princess”…

gawd, I  just hate that shit!

gawd, I just hate that shit!

So waiting to find out the gender really became about shielding myself from those annoying conversations and frustrating assumptions… which I appreciate given my easily annoyed state of mind…

Nope.  Aint nobody got time for rigid gender norms in 2015...

Nope. Aint nobody got time for rigid gender norms in 2015…

Getting essentials from friends like infant car seats, clothes, and cloth diapers is totally amazing, and so are items like baby blankets, changing pads, and burp cloths. Since it’s been nearly six years since child #1- I’ve since given away most baby and toddler items to friends or charity.  The only things I kept and stashed away were my son’s crib and his high chair.  It’s pretty amazing how quickly folks are ready to clean out and give away baby gear (probably cause it tends to take up lots of space and babies grow out of it super fast!)  So, hit me up in a few months and we’ll keep the hand-me down party going!

Here are some items that I consider to be “must-haves”

~~Newborn Must-Haves~~

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1. Infant (or convertible) car seat ( unless you don’t drive or use public transit)
2. A swing or bouncer

this item is pretty needed I think...

this item is pretty needed I think…

3. An infant tub and some baby soap (I love burts bees)

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along with other baby grooming items ( the most important is the tiny nail clipper for those killer sharp claws)

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Grooming your cat or baby? ah, its pretty much the same...

Grooming your cat or baby? ah, its pretty much the same…

4. A place to sleep ( we scored a totally free hand-me down bassinet which is sweeeeet!)

5. Bundle me -or outdoor cold protection: ( Which I found for cheap at a local consignment shop!)

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This helps avoid over bundling the poor child in a million layers- a bundle me serves as a baby coat- super useful since we are having a winter baby and this is what it looks like in Rhode Island right now:

 

is it spring yet?

is it spring yet?

ewwwww.

ewwwww.

5. Blankets- again, winter baby… plus they are just so darn cute!

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6. Diaper time stuff: Whether using reusable cloth, disposable or both you will need-

-diapers & wipes

– waterproof/ changing pads or cover or some kind

Baby changing pad

Baby changing pad

-diaper pail and/or Cloth diaper wet bag

Cloth diaper wet bag

Cloth diaper wet bag

 

*More on our 1st time cloth diapering experience in a future post!

7.  Wipe Warmer-I know this is not a “need” for everyone, but with my first baby I found that there was nothing worse than using a cold wipe on my baby’s bum in the middle of night.  Also, this time we are using the wipe warmer as a way to keep our homemade cloth wipes moist.

wipe warmer for cold baby bums

wipe warmer for cold baby bums

 

8. Feeding time:  Whether bottle or boob, baby will need bottles.  I got a couple of the 4 oz glass bottles ( I was able to stay home and nurse most of the time) last time I didn’t really use more than two.

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Also, breast milk storage bags, hand and/or electric breast pump (dont forget to wash/ sanitize before use)

9. Nursing moms also need nursing bras, nursing pads ( one side would leak will feeding on the other side!), nipple cream and support ( I love the Boppy!)

 

ah the useful Boppy!

ah the useful Boppy!

-nursing pads- ( this time I am trying these out:)

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I like these nursing bras for overnight/ hanging out at home:

Somehow I doubt this woman is lactating… those nursing bras are great though.

Somehow I doubt this woman is lactating… those nursing bras are great though.

10. Baby clothes: We loaded up on sizes starting 3-6 months, I skipped the newborn size since my last child started out at 9 lbs! Also hats, socks ( or footed pants) and those baby mittens are useful.

Bonus item:

** Baby carrier/ sling!  Thanks to aunty Megan we can try this one out:

 

Moby Wrap!

Moby Wrap!

And for items that we don’t need now, but will need later:

– Stroller ( wont need this for a couple of months in the northeast!)

-Back carrier (for hikes and lugging around bigger children)

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*Optional: Baby bag ( I am known for just throwing my child’s stuff in my regular purse!)

 

What do you think are needed baby items? Any baby gear recommendations?

The Pregnant Herbalist: What’s in my Hospital Bag

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Here we go! About 37 weeks along now!

the countdown is on!

the countdown is on!

With my first pregnancy, I worked at a school till the very end (which at the time was a welcome distraction!), and as a result, I didn’t really have time to think about what went into my hospital bag.  I remember that my water broke after dinner time and twenty minuates later I was at the hospital with contractions about 2 minuates apart.  I had a bag, but don’t remember what I stuck in it in those few short moments I had to prepare at home. I don’t think I had a change of clothes for myself or the baby! Luckly I got lots of free supplies from the hospital!

So this time I plan to be much better prepared.

View from the side! 37 weeks and dropping!

View from the side! 37 weeks and dropping! And ugh! Are those what my feel look like?!

Clothes:

-comfy ( aka: granny underwear my hospital thankfully gives moms disposable underwear too!)

-nursing bras and nursing pads

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-light robe ( I got this great one here: http://www.amazon.com/Jockey-Womens-Robe-Eggplant-Medium/dp/B00E1ZOUM4/ref=sr_1_2?s=apparel&ie=UTF8&qid=1422561500&sr=1-2&keywords=jockey+womens+robe)

– pj or yoga pants, maternity tights, undershirt, maternity sweater ( its is still winter after all and I am ALWAYS cold!)

-warm socks and/ or slippers

– clothes (and swim shorts for the labor tub) for my husband

Baby gear:

– a couple outfits ( the white one was actually my husband’s coming home outfit when he was just a wee one! I am so glad my mother-in-law saved this! Circa 1987!!)

baby clothes are so tiny!

baby clothes are so tiny!

 

-Hat/blanket/socks/mittens

– pre-installed car seat ( gotta get on that soon!)

-nipple cream (my homemade kind!)

-nursing pillow (boppy or breastfriend)

 

Other:

-print out copy of birth plan

-Ipod with speaker dock

– Our phones and chargers

-Cooler ( yes, a cooler.)  For taking home placenta for encapsulation

-Camera/ charger

 

Toiletries: ( this is becoming more of a ‘note to self’!)

-toothbrushes/ toothpaste

-deodorant

-hair ties/ head bands

– contacts/ glasses

– shampoo/ conditioner/ cleanser/ lotion

-plastic bag for laundry

 

Labor Support:

-labor-aide/ coconut water

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Gonna try out these recipes:  http://www.naturalbirthandbabycare.com/laborade

-snacks ( honey sticks/ nuts)

-Raspberry Leaf Tea— drink to your heart’s content. Used to help organize contractions and tone the muscles of the uterus.

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Natural medicine:

-Blue Cohosh

Blue Cohosh

Blue Cohosh

Blue Cohosh is used to help women unwind during childbirth as well as to alleviate labor pain. You may use blue cohosh individually or together with different preparations, for about two weeks before the expected date of childbirth, thrice daily. Caution: Never use blue cohosh during pregnancy, except just for a couple of weeks before delivery.

IMPORANT NOTE* very strong as a tincture or tea, better to try in homeopathic form first! For Blue Cohosh the homeopathic remedy is Caulophyllum (200X)

-Bach’s stress remedy. It’s safe and  always a go-to in times of need, which lets face it, birth can be one of those times! They gently restore the balance between mind and body by casting out negative emotions such as fear, worry, hatred and indecision which interfere with the equilibrium of the being as a whole. They work with the body on an energetic level.

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These are the 5 Bach Flower Remedies in Rescue Remedy:

Star of Bethlehem – Orithogalum umbellatum
Rock Rose – Helianthemum
Cherry Plum – Prunus cerasifera
Impatiens – Impatiens gladulifera
Clematis – Clematis vitalba

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Week 37 updates

Pros: Light at the end of tunnel, almost gonna meet this new human, finally!

– I am not teaching middle school full time anymore…

– When in the pool, I feel great!

Y can't I just live in the water till this thing comes out…?

Y can’t I just live in the water till this thing comes out…?

Cons: Where are my feet?

– Falling asleep and staying asleep can be challenging… but my body is getting used to it’s soon to be reality…

-Peeing is constant

-easily annoyed ( I try to stay off the roads…!)

– When I am not in a pool- I feel like a huge whale…

that about sums it up...

that about sums it up…

Activities:

– Packing:  ( besides the hospital bag and such…) essentials such as starter diapers and wipes, disposable and re-usable, although we intend to use reusable and / or get on a diaper service for the 1st few months, I remember how often newborns tend to poo and pee, so we stocked up on some disposable options as well.  *For the reusable wipes I got some Thirsties and some Bum genius and I plan on making my own bum/ wipe spray ( more on that in a future blog post!)

– Preparing: Sleeping, resting… snow days are okay by me!  Knocking off the books on my reading list for the first time since grad school!  Also, washing lots of baby stuff, sorting and putting things away- reading positive birth stories, swimming and yoga.

getting in the zone for baby-time

getting in the zone for baby-time

-Dr apts: are more often now in the last month ( weekly) I declined an ultra-sound to determine (or not so accurately) guess the baby’s size/ weight cause I didn’t see a need for it- especially considering it’s not very accurate AND given my recent experience with the glucose tests showing false positives in my 1 hr blood exam (with that nasty sugar drink), while the fasting 3-hour test showed I had normal blood sugar (TWICE!!! Yes I am doubl-ly normal!!).

In other words, I am going with my gut and declining what I feel are unnecessary tests again!

–  Weekly Pelvic Floor Physical therapy helping make sure my back and pelvis stay aligned for birth time.  Also, working on stretching out my perineal scar from those 3rd degree lacerations (almost 6 yrs ago now…) I am confident this time will be much better and much less damaging to my pelvic floor! For one thing, I am pretty sure this baby will be smaller than 9lbs, 9 oz!

And more importantly, I feel much more confident in my support system and birth team this time around…

go team go!

go team go!

Next time:   Sibling prep, baby gear, herbal support for the labor and postpartum period, final weeks updates and more!

Homemade Nipple Butter aka: My Boob-Milk Manifesto

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The countdown is on and baby-time is drawing near. This is about the time I find myself nesting, preparing our space for a new tiny human and that includes getting the boobs ready for constant feedings.

My homemade Nipple Butter!

My homemade Nipple Butter!

I remember what it was like the 1st time ( geez over 5 yrs ago now!)  trying to figure out that latch and it was NOT fun to say the least. It totally sucked!  I didn’t realize it at the time, but due to my son’s shoulder dystocia and the stress associated with being separated for the first 8 hours, we had a very hard time getting the nursing thing down.  For one thing, my milk took 4 days to come in and the poor little guy was clenching his jaw tight when trying to latch those first few weeks, offering everyone around me free lessons in epic-pirate quality cuss-outs.  I tend to cuss like a sailor in normal daily conversations, but with the added element of aching breast and sore nipples,  I could probably make black-beard blush.

I know DJ, I know...

I know DJ, I know…

I remember thinking that the pain my breasts endured was worse than the actual birth    (and due to certain hormones kicking in, that was probably true!)  Once things got really bad and I was dealing with like ALL the things…. All that stuff they tell you to watch out for on those well-meaning but shallow nursing pamphlets:  engorgement, clogged milk ducts, bloody nipples and a fever… yeah, I had that.   I sought out and received support from a lactation consultant (totally covered by insurance which my broke-self was very thankful for!) and after a couple sessions, nipple cream, and just putting my boob milk on the boo-boo nips, everything was in much better shape and we nursed mostly pain-free for several years.

I am not one to force or even talk up long-term nursing. I didn’t exactly plan it to nurse that long myself, it just sort of happened and it wasn’t stressful for either us so I went with it.   I am also not one to that can be easily embarrassed about most things in general and I am not one to look away when someone (and most of the time it was other women!) gave me dirty looks while nursing in public.

Let my boobmilk go!

Let my boobmilk go!

I remember returning the look right back- with a “dont make me squirt ya in the eye with my boobmilk” stare-which btw should totally be an emoticon…

yeah, kinda like that...

yeah, kinda like that…

Over time I cared less and less about pulling the boob out for feedings. I found it particularly interesting that after months of encouraging my son to say “num-num” as a way to nonchalantly request boob-milk when in public that he would instead shout “Boob!” While also tugging at my shirt.

Well done child.

Whatever decorum was left had surely deteriorated at that point so f**k it!

BOOB it is.

I strongly feel that nursing should happen for as long or short as mom and baby deem right…But that lady on the Times cover ain’t got nothing on me.

who cares what this lady does with her boobs, get over it America...

who cares what this lady does or doesn’t do with her boob? Get over it America…

People thought that was controversial? Hows about putting a Palestinian mom nursing her Black pre-schooler on the cover…?!  What then…?!

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oh man, shit's getting real...

oh man, shit’s getting real…

Aaahh, but I digress…

So I am a boob-milk believer.  I loved learning about it, the health and emotional impacts on both mom and baby. The unique chemical makeup.  I became a boob-milk scholar, learning everything I could and sharing it with others.  I could write a book on the differences between whale and human milk and everything in-between… I was a lacto-scholar. It was super interesting to me… then again so are things like glacial deposits, historical cemeteries, post-industrial rivers, and birding…We all have our ticks.

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Why Nipple Butter?

Issues with Lanolin:  A study published in the September 1992 issue of the “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry” found that lanolin samples contained several types of pesticide residues, and the contamination level varied significantly among batches. Also, I just wasn’t really feeling the texture of it, it didn’t feel very good on my skin.  I decided to hit up the mighty Pinterest and low and behold there are various homemade nipple butter/cream recipes to try out!

This recipe is a combo of couple different ones I eventually settled on:

Ingredients:

2 parts coconut oil

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2 parts shea butter

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1 part beeswax

beeswax

beeswax

2 drops lavender essential oil

lavender

lavender

2 tablespoons of Calendula infused olive oil

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Where you can order ingredients:

mountain rose herbs: https://www.mountainroseherbs.com

or, if your a local: Farmacy Herbs: http://farmacyherbs.com

images-8 How to:

step 1: Melt the coconut oil, shea butter and beeswax in a small sauce pan over low heat

* It is best to shred/ cut up the beeswax before adding in, which melts it down easier.

step 2: pour in the lavender and olive oil

step 3: pour the entire mixture into 4 oz jars (any desired container would do, but I prefer glass)

step 4: let in cool from anywhere between 1 hour to overnight!

My completed Nip Buttah

My completed Nip Buttah

Uses and benefits:

beeswax: protective to skin, wound healing, antibacterial, humectant (moisture retaining)

shea butter: anti-inflammatory, chemical-free moisturizer, healing

coconut oil: skin-softener, absorbable fatty acids, the lauric acid can kill bacteria, viruses and fungi

lavender essential oilimages-4

Calendula:

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* So many possibilities! It’s exciting to try out new variations for next time including using coco-butter or different essential oils.  I plan on branching out and trying a whipped all over body butter  (among other goodies) for next time!  Check out my growing Pinterest board on all things DIY: http://www.pinterest.com/nsamih84/health-and-beauty-diys/

Next time: My version of “necessary” baby gear and what I am packing in my labor/hospital bag and who knows what other nonsense!

Almost There: 3rd Trimester Pregnancy Update

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Happy Winter Solstice!

Happy Solstice!

Happy Solstice!

 

3rd Trimester: only about 8 weeks to go and the days are flying by!

 

32 weeks and counting...

32 weeks and counting…

 

Happy Holidays!

The fam at Christmas!

The fam at Christmas!

Pros/Cons:

Pros: Not as emotional, feeling “settled”, love feeling the baby’s movements, energy level is still pretty good.

Cons: still peeing alllll the time! Sleep is sometimes a challenge, I am carrying high so my lungs and stomach feel a bit compressed…

How I’ve tried to cope:

-cutting caffeine

-going to bed at roughly the same time most nights- easy to do when I am in my teaching routine, not so much when I am on holiday break and want to stay up to watch netflix!

-regular excercise.  Hands down the best thing for me to fall asleep and stay asleep.

-journaling, routine of writing- getting my to-do lists and rants out of the way via the written word is a good way to clear my mind in time for bed- no need to have drama or a busy day follow me into bedtime!

 

opening gifts! Baby already has so much cute stuff!

opening gifts! Baby already has so much cute stuff!

 

Third Trimester’s Activities:

Meeting with Doula: Jessica Fuss is our doula and I couldn’t be happier! She is everything I needed and so much more and I have learned so much from her already.  Also a cloth diapering expert, she will help us transition to using more cloth diapers this time around. Learn more about her services here: http://www.softtouchdoula.com

Switching Dr’s:  Have you ever had a lingering feeling that something was just off or missing from your birth plans? (or anything for that matter?)  In my 2nd Trimester, I found myself regretting not having enough time to research other places to birth (besides our monolith Woman and Infants Hospital here in Providence).  Although it’s a great place, I was disappointed that I “risked out” of being about to use their Alternative Birthing Center at the hospital (because my son was born after a pretty rough shoulder dystochi- he was 9 lbs, 9 oz!

I had a gut feeling that I wasn’t going to get the type of birth experience I was comfortable with in the regular hospital even though over the past 5 years Woman and Infants has undergone major culture shifts.  Now they allow rooming-in, encouraging skin to skin contact and breastfeeding to name a few. I still recall the days of my son’s birth when a  fetal monitoring belt was attached to me, making it hard to move around.  After the drama of calling all the nurses on that floor to try to get his shoulder unstuck, I didn’t get to see Ali till after he was checked, washed and swaddled.  I didn’t even get to hold him till about 8 hours after, and I feel that as a result, breastfeeding was a huge learning curve for us.   I realize there were many factors at play around his birth that didn’t all have to do with the hospital ( like his size for one!)  and thankfully we both came out of that experience alright-but I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I had been in a different environment things would have felt, and maybe even turned out, differently.

After talking to Jessica about my options, I learned that a smaller, local hospital ( only a couple of miles down the street from us) is known as being a woman centered birthing option. One that views birth as a natural, highly evolved process, not a disaster waiting to happen.  That foundational cultural difference is exactly what I was looking for.  The more I thought about it, the more I knew it was time for a change.  I have met my new Dr. and so far have been really happy and have felt a difference in communication styles and perspective.  Even though I was working with a midwife group before, it didn’t feel like the best fit due to the fact that they work out of Women and Infants.  I loved the midwives, but couldn’t say the say about that massive hospital. I am glad I listened to my gut on this one and feel much more comfortable about my birth plan. Since then, I have had conversations with other moms who have had either birthed at Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket or had my Dr., and everyone has been speaking very positively about their experiences.

 

Drafting my Birth Plan:  I Drafted this birth plan with the help of my doula:)

Some of the highlights of the plan are below (short and to the point!)

Labor/Birth-

-would like to labor in pool/tub or have a room with a shower

-self directed pushing

-Dad would like to be part of birth/ help catch baby/ would like to cut cord

After Birth:

-skin to skin with baby immediately after delivery

-delayed cord clamping

-Save placenta (will be encapsulated)

-I would like to breastfeed as soon as possible after delivery

 

super excited about his flippy hat!

super excited about his flippy hat!

Preparing for new human!

-hospital bag – I didn’t do this till the last moment with my first!  (another post on that coming up soon)

-assembling family/friend support, organizing roles for childcare, meal prep, errands…

– stocking up on needed baby gear (will also be featured in more detail in a future blog post)

what will I really need?!

what will I really need?!

Herbal Support: What’s in my prego herbal blend:

*for iron: Dandelion

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* for calcium and for its calming effects: Oatstraw

Unknown-4 *overall tonic: Nettle

stinging nettles!

stinging nettles!

* digestive, immune, and emotional support: Tulsi/ Holy Basil

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*rock star uterus- Red Raspberry

anything to do with this plant is awesome for pregy peoples!

anything to do with this plant is awesome for pregy peoples!

*digestive support- Peppermint

Peppermint

Peppermint

Best activity so far this Trimester: Being on Holiday Vacaaaation! Sleeping in!!! Chilling oooutt! Whoop!!

Excercise accommodations: Walking, swimming, yoga with room for belly- gentle Yoga at my local YMCA and dailyburn prego yoga-  and  twerking on the Birth ball. Cause yay! Baby is already head down!

 

Twerk that birthball!

going around in circles and doing figure 8’s on an exercise ball…just like twerking…sorta

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What I learned the 2nd time around

-dont sweat the small stuff

-hand me downs for baby gear are awesome and better than new stuff!

– Its important to speak up when unsure or uncomfortable about anything related to medical care- most of the time there are other options!

-getting a doula is very worth it

-self-care, self-care, self-care!   For me, that means finally using a body work massage gift certificate I got way back in the summer, making time to get my hair done, checking in with friends, keeping up with my “want to read” pile, making time for my writing, and crafting… speaking of which:

Next Post:  The How to Edition:  I try to make all natural nipple butter! Also, what’s in my hospital bag and must have baby gear!

" your making nipple wha…"?

” your making nipple wha…”?

Want to share helpful pregy or baby advice? What did you pack in your hospital bag? What has been your experience using herbs?