Monday, December 8

Oh Christmas Tree












 









I have some great memories of annual Christmas Tree hunting.  I hope we'll always be able to do this as a family so Molly and Kate can have these memories, too.  It's not a big task, not a far drive, not much effort really.  But it's always so special.  When we got to the tree farm this year, Molly said "I remember this, they have a BIG bridge!"  And they do.  There's a little creek, bordering the property, so you have to cross a foot bridge to get to the trees.   That girl.  It really is the little things.


I've vowed recently to get in some more pictures, especially now that I have two girls.  Two beautiful souls to nurture.  Two self esteems to uplift.  Two wives in training.  Two mothers to be.  Being female is so wonderful, but I've felt the tough parts too.  And I hope these girls always have acceptance of the beautiful women that God made them to be.   But I realize that has to start with me.  And because I think I never look good enough to be in a picture, or my hair isn't done, or I'm too sleep deprived, I haven't lost the baby weight yet.  There's always something.

But I want to capture now.  The sleepless nights painted on my face.  The baby weight left on my midsection and thighs.  The hair that never was done.   Because I'm home with them these days.  And these really are the good ones.  All too soon, I'll be back to work and long for these days. 

So you'll be seeing some more of me around here :)

Let's hope the Christmas Season is beautiful and slow.

Wednesday, December 3

On Cloth Diapering

 


 My firstborn had a diaper rash for the first 2 years of her life, and even now that she's potty trained, she still manages to develop a rash now and again.  It was a long and frustrating battle with diapers, wipes, diaper creams, prescription strength concoctions, you name it.

So one of the first thoughts when I found out I was pregnant with baby Kate- "what can I do to prevent diaper rash with this one?"   Seriously.  I spent hours researching, and kept stumbling upon post after post detailing the decreased incidence of diaper rash in cloth diapered babies.  I will admit, I ignored these posts at first.  The thought of cloth diapering was so foreign and well, disgusting.  But after some more research, I discovered the new, hybrid method of cloth diapering, and I was more and more interested.  I could go on and on about the cost savings and environmental benefits of cloth diapering.  But I was more interested in rash prevention.  So I'll leave you some links if you're into cloth diapering for those reasons, here and here.

And then, once I finally settled on the idea of cloth diapering, I was submerged into a land of hundreds of types of diapers, and was completely overwhelmed.  But I wanted to keep things as simple as possible.  Dozens of reviews later, I settled on an all-in-one newborn cloth diaper, and thought I would see how those went before deciding on the bigger size.  I did use this post as the majority of my guidance and inspiration, plus I love that blog, so it was a win-win.  I read that the only change they would make in cloth diapering would be to add newborn diapers, as an average sized newborn won't fit into Bumgenius cloth until at least a month.  So that's where I started.  All-in-one newborns as a trial and error process, and move forward from there.

 

 Here's Kate, hanging out at our downstairs diaper changing station (a pack and play), while I'm sunning/air drying her newborn Bumgenius cloth diapers, hoping they're ready when needed ;)

The other big learning curve with cloth diapering- how to take care of the diapers.  As in, only using cloth-diaper approved soaps/detergents, how to strip diapers if needed, and which diaper creams are "cloth diaper safe".  I read as many reviews on Amazon as I could stand, and started our diaper cream collection with these two creams:  CJ's Butter and Earth Mama Angel brand.  The verdict?  I've only been using them for a little over a week, but I love them both.  CJ's Butter is thick, and I bought the unscented kind, so I love that I can use it anywhere on Kate- and on Molly or myself!  The Earth Angel balm is a thinner texture, and has an herbal scent (which initially worried me).  The smell isn't overpowering, and so far, it's actually the one I'm using after each change and her little bottom is completely rash free.



Since I decided to use cloth diapers, I went with cloth wipes, too.  Laundry is laundry, right?!  
So I started by just wetting each wipe with warm water prior to use.  But let's get real:  a breastfed baby poops every 1-2 hours, even at night.  That's a big step when you've got a terribly impatient two week old screaming furiously on the changing table.   So I got this wipe warmer.  And I love it.  Love it, love it, love it.  All this coming from the person who laughed when I saw a wipe warmer on someone's baby registry.  I'm converted.  This thing is nice.



We use distilled water (since we have a well) and lightly wet the wipes before placing them in the warmer, which takes about 2 hours to completely warm.  We fit about 12-15 wipes at a time, so it's a daily chore, but again- so worth it. 
 I'm not sure if this wipes warmer is made for cloth wipes, but the reviews suggested it because of the thickness of the opening.  I tried to get a picture, but it's poor iphone quality.  Either way, with a good tug, those wipes fit right through the opening.



And onto the dirty stuff.  What do you do with the poop?
Well, here's the good news:  breastfed baby poop is completely water soluble.  Which means it washes right out of the diapers, no need to scrape or spray the poo away (this is a different story when baby starts eating real food though...).
Here's what works for us:
I keep a big bucket half filled with cold water (just our well water) sitting in the washer (so it doesn't completely disturb visitors!) at all times.  When I'm done with a changing, I throw the diaper and wipe into the bucket, and let them soak all day.  
At the end of each day, we load some soap into the machine, dump the bucket and turn the washer on (heavy wash, extra rinse, cold water).  Thankfully, I have a super helper in my husband.  He makes sure the load is started each night, and also sets them out to dry in the morning.
Because we have well water, I bought this soap.  So far, I don't even have a stain to speak of.  And I was worried, because that mustard yellow poo looks like it's going to STAIN.  But nope, fresh and clean each time.




And from all I've read, even if there is a little stain on the diaper, a good sunning should take care of it.  Hence the drying spot- nice natural light.





And the last thing to report: the success!  So far, no diaper rash since starting cloth diapers.  She had a rash the day we came home from the hospital- I blame regular wipes/diapers, because that's when it started with Molly.  Thankfully, that rash has quickly cleared, and we're rash free. 

Plus, I'm pleasantly surprised with the ease (so far) of cloth diapering.  It's one extra load of laundry, and since babies and toddlers need a load each day anyway, it's no big deal.

Ps.  I bought my first stash of diapers from ebay- it was a sale of opened and washed, but unused diapers ( I really believed them, too), and I got 12 Bumgenius newborn, 1 Blueberry Simplex newborn, and 1 grovia newborn for around $50.  So far, Bumgenius are my favorite.  So soft, and since they're all-in-one, they're so easy to use and take care of.  I just bought Kate a lovely Christmas gift of Bumgenius 4.0 during the Black Friday sale at cottonbabies.com, so I'll be posting more as she grows and as the poo changes!

Back to Christmas decorating, (because Jesse is home to help) because I can't believe it's December and I'm still having trouble believing I've got TWO daughters!  Seriously.  I may not have showered yet today, but I've managed to feed, change, and hug/kiss two sweet little girls.  So I must say, I'm doing well :)






Monday, November 24

Baby Kate: A Birth Story



I've felt God's presence in my life before.  But nothing like November 17, 2014-- the day we welcomed baby Kate into our lives.

A little background before I share this story.  Molly was born at 36 weeks, 2 days weighing in at 7 pounds and perfectly healthy.  Thus, I had myself convinced this baby would be just as early, maybe earlier.   The joke was on me.  I spent the weeks from 36 through 38 wondering if this baby would ever come.  And I feel so silly writing this, because I know women deliver weeks past their due date, but I felt some major impatience those last days.  And I did a lot of questioning.  How big is this baby going to be?  8 lbs? 9 lbs?!  

Turns out, at my 38 week appointment, I was barely dilated, and my OB told me I was "not inducible".  Though a truly natural labor and delivery is all I had prayed for, I felt a lot of pressure and anxiety after hearing those words.  I was terrified of induction, but I think the thought of a really big baby was worse.

To add some insult, I had some really good Braxton Hicks contractions for the weeks prior, some would last most of the day.  There were a lot of days I thought labor was starting.  But it wasn't.

So on Monday, 11/17/14, when I woke up from Braxton Hicks contractions around 6am, I really thought nothing of them.  I decided to go into work for at least half of the day, but my office manager said it wasn't too busy, and since we had really cold temperatures, it wasn't worth my trip in.   So Molly and I hung out at home most of the day, with a trip to the library around noon.

I noticed, while playing farm in the children's library, that the contractions I had been ignoring were kind of regular, and actually a little more painful that my previous ones.  Still, I wasn't competely convinced.  I did time a few after we got home, around 2pm-- they were 10-11 minutes apart.  Still not sure if this was real, I caught up on some housework.  Around 3pm I had to stop the vacuum to breathe through a contraction.  I figured it was time to tell Jesse.  This is where I went wrong.   He's a farmer, and naturally, he's late for everything.   I told him to get home "within the hour".  So, as you can imagine, when he pulled in at 5:15, I was a nervous wreck.  By then, my contractions were 4 minutes apart, I was having really consistent spotting, and had developed a lot more pelvic pressure.  Shoot.

My Mom took Molly around 5:30, after gasping "you better get going, your belly is so low!"  I had a few good contractions in the car (the worst place to labor, by the way), just enough to get Jesse driving a bit faster.  We arrived at the hospital just before 6pm, and I was greeted by one of my favorite nurses, seriously a Godsend.  And I was only 4cm.  I almost got discouraged, but after walking from OB triage to the delivery suite, my contractions jumped to every 2-3 minutes, and I knew something was changing.  Enter another of my favorite OB nurses, and another and another.  I was surrounded by the most empowering women, all OB nurses, all completely on board with my non-medicated delivery plan.  They positioned me through contractions (and I ended up laboring on my hands and knees- just as I did with Molly), encouraged me during the breaks, and taught Jesse some counter pressure points (on my hips/pelvis) that seriously made contractions so much more bearable.  This is where I start to tear up, just thinking through the people God sent that night.  Because my OB stopped in around check-in to wish me luck (though he wasn't on call), and I briefly met the on-call OB.  But as I progressed, things fell into place even more. 

I was checked around 6:30, 6cm, bulging bag of fluids.  It wasn't 3 more contractions when the on-call OB stopped by to say that he was doing a c-section and would see me after.  Immediately after, probably around 7:30 pm, my water broke during a contraction.  A contraction or so later, I felt pressure, and I was 10cm.  A local midwife happened to be on the unit, and walked in to quickly introduce herself, and guide me into pushing.  Seriously, how perfect.  I wanted the most natural delivery possible, but I feared induction, meds, episiotomy.  I'm telling you, I think I heard one of the nurses say "the stars aligned" when the midwife came in the room, and I couldn't agree more.

She positioned me on my side and sat on the side of the bed (which is in complete contradiction to the typical stirrups/push on your back only medical pose allowed in a hospital).  The women in the room, along with my husband (whose poor hand I squeezed really hard), coached me through what felt like a few seconds, though I'm sure it was minutes, of pushing.  The best example of support, is in my last push.  I was having a really painful contraction at the time the baby was crowning.  I was completely engulfed in pain, and I started to panic.  I heard the sweetest voice reassure me and say "Lisa, push into that pain", she just knew.  And that was it, one last push.  And just less than two hours after we walked into the hospital, our sweet midwife announced "it's a girl" though the first screams of our new baby.  The room erupted in cheers as she handed me our sweet baby Kate.  She was born at 7:50pm, at 38 weeks and 4 days, weighing 7lb 1 oz, 20 inches long.

I can't say this enough, but God definitely had a hand in November 17.  The fact that I was called off work, a labor that started and ended naturally, the nurses who just happened to be there when we got to the hospital, the c-section that excused the OB and graced us with a midwife, the delivery without any tears/lacerations, and that she was here before Molly's bedtime, so sisters could meet within minutes of her birth.   It was perfect.   The first thought I had when I heard her:  "I have to do this again".

It didn't feel like a medical procedure.  It felt like a life event, the birth of a child.  I was surrounded by the most encouraging people, and I truly can't thank them enough.  I'm forever grateful for that room of women, my husband, and God's grace.  It could not have been more beautiful.

(and a special thanks for the pictures snapped by one of the nurses with my phone- I purposely omitted the more graphic ones, though I'm so thankful I have them!)