Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Griffin's Birth Story - Part 4

As I mentioned in Griffin's Birth Story - Part 3, Oliver was able to deliver Griffin, and he placed our little son on my chest, amidst tears and loads of emotions.  I reached down and held my vernix-covered boy and laughed with joy.  I simply could not believe he had just come out of me!  It's hard to describe the emotions that wash over you when you deliver your first child...I remember thinking that it felt surreal, like a dream in slow-motion.  He was born at 1:56am on December 27th, 2009...just a little under two hours after my dad's 50th birthday!

Since I was on my back and the umbilical cord was still pulsing, I could only see the top of Griffin's head and his little arms.  I rubbed the vernix into his skin (it's supposed to be an amazing moisturizer for them) and attempted to soak it all in.  Soaking it all in is, in fact, impossible, as I found.  It is one of those moments in life where you wish you could grasp it all fully...  C.S. Lewis describes this overwhelming state as "joy," and he says that these moments are like little tastes of heaven that we won't fully be able to grasp or consummate until we are there with the Lord.  Isn't it amazing to know that the birth of your first child is only a teeny, tiny glimmer of the fullness and consummation of joy we will have in heaven?!  Soon, I was able to see my little son's face for the first time, and I had/have never laid eyes on anything so beautiful...so perfect.  All my life, I've dreamed and wondered about what my child would look like, and finally, I knew.  The bond was absolutely instantaneous...Well, I suppose it was just an increase of the already established bond I had developed with him in my womb.  I kept thinking of what a gift, a precious blessing, we had been given, and I was so thankful to finally have him in my arms.  I was also quite thankful that I didn't die during labor like I felt I would :)

Oliver cut the cord, and I delivered the placenta quickly and easily.  I must say, that sucker was HUGE!  The midwives showed it and all its parts to me, and it was fascinating.  It's just the craziest thing to think that my body was capable of growing a baby and a whole new organ on top of it!  Apparently, the umbilical cord was the longest many of the ladies had ever seen, and they said we were blessed that it didn't cause any complications during the delivery.  It was wrapped around his neck, but there were no issues with that because it was so long.

Immediately after the delivery of the placenta, the ladies got to work checking me for tears.  I had a 2 degree internal tear from Griffin's fists being under his neck during the delivery, and I had the choice whether to be stitched or not.  I chose not to because the skin was laying together nicely and would heal well on its own.  The only stipulation was that I needed to be extra conscientious about keeping my knees together and not sitting straight up for 2 weeks.

After that was determined, Lisa and the ladies got the bed changed, an ice back between my legs, and helped me get set up for nursing Griffin for the first time.  This was more difficult than I imagined.  He had a hard time latching on, and it was quite a fiasco.  Later, we hired a lactation consultant to come out to our house and help me with nursing, and she was a great help.

It wasn't long (around 3 or 3:30), and all the relatives arrived to meet the baby.  My dad, step-mom, and brother and Oliver's mom and brother came into the room to meet our little one.
My dad with his first grandchild:
My step-mom with her first grandchild:
Oliver's mom with her first grandchild:

It was just pure giddiness in the air, and they were all able to watch as Lisa did the newborn exam, including the big weigh in.  Griffin weighed 8 lbs, 14 oz, 22 inches long, and got a 10 on the Apgar score.  He was just absolutely perfect.  I could not believe how beautiful he was!!!  Three months later, I still am not sick of staring at him all day.  Maybe that'll never end!

After a while, the family headed home to get to bed, and we were thinking that way as well.  I have never, EVER been so completely and thoroughly exhausted spiritually, emotionally, and physically.  We attempted to nurse some more, and I did the necessary trip to the toilet.  Whoa is that the weirdest feeling in the universe!  After 9 months of having all my internal organs completely displaced and my diaphram being pushed way, way up into my ribcage, standing up with a sudden, enormous void made me feel like my organs were going to fall out onto the floor!  I felt like I had been punched repeatedly in the stomach, and I could hardly breathe.  Shuffling to the toilet was tough between that and the light-headedness!

At about 5 or 5:30am, Reilynn took our first family photo and headed home herself.

We got settled into our king-sized bed, all together, and feel into a much, much needed sleep.  The next morning, Oliver went out and got us Atlanta Bread Company breakfast, and we were ready to head home by about 1pm that day!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

3 Months Old Today!

Our sweet boy is 3 months old today, and he is loving life, as you can see!  Here are some shots that show his growth over the past few months from an 8 lb 14 oz, 22 inch newborn to a 17 lb, 26 inch boy:
First Week:
1 Month:
2 Months:
3 Months:

A Man and His Son

New Diaper Stash

They've arrived!  I never imagined I would be so excited to open a package full of cloth diapering supplies!  Here is the new stash:
After I get some experience with each of these brands/styles, I will be sure to write reviews on each.  Starting from the top left, there are Bummis organic, unbleached prefolds with Bummis wipeable, velcro diaper covers, FuzziBunz one-size pocket diapers, Bum Genius one-size pocket diapers, one Bum Genius medium all-in-one diaper (got that for free with a coupon!...am already not so much of a fan because it takes SO LONG to dry without the insert being removable), Flip wipeable, snap diaper covers with microterry inserts, and Thirsties wipeable, snap diaper covers.  I also got a Snappi (prefold diaper fastener, which takes the place of pins [thankfully!  I've stabbed myself WAY too many times already]), 4 extra Bum Genius inserts to be used in the different diaper covers, and a Planet Wise wet/dry bag for diaper changes on the go.

From my experience today, I am having some difficulty figuring out the right fit with the FuzziBunz one-size snap diapers.  I can't quite figure out how to get it tight enough so it doesn't gape but not so tight it leaves red marks on his skin.  The Bum Genius' are SUPER easy, and the Flip covers and inserts have the potential to be my favorite for great fit, ease of use, and ability to reuse the cover because of its "wipeabiliy."  

I put Griffin to bed in a cloth diaper for the first time tonight, and I used the Bum Genius with an additional insert (called a "doubler").  We'll see how it works out!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Griffin's Birth Story - Part 3

As I mentioned in my last post, Griffin's Birth Story - Part 2, I began to feel the urge to push at 10pm, while in the tub.  I decided to get out and get walking again to get things going and get this baby out!  Like I said, I wasn't sure what I was supposed to feel when I was fully dilated and ready to push.  Looking back, hindsight being 20/20, I probably should have had Lisa, my midwife, check me when I first started feeling the urge to push; however, I was near exhaustion and getting quite delirious, and I can say that I wasn't thinking quite clearly at that point.  I remember walking around and giving long, longing glances at the comfy, king-sized bed, wishing I could just lie down, stretch out, and take a quick nap.  The room, the hallway, the bathroom...pretty much everything...was spinning and felt dreamlike.  So, as I walked and walked and walked, feeling the urge to push about every other contraction, I would try to breathe through the urge rather than let Lisa check me!  This seems crazy, and probably because it was...But I was terribly afraid that if I did let Lisa check my progress, she would say something like, "Oh, honey...You're only 8 cm."  I felt that I couldn't handle hearing how much further I might have to go, so I kept declining a check.

The next several hours were extremely rough.  I remember thinking things like, "I will never, ever do this again," and, "I think I might actually die before this baby gets here!"  Rational thoughts were beginning to be quite rare, and I was feeling almost completely asleep as I walked between contractions. It's hard to explain, but the labor gets so intense that your mind begins to look for any possible way of escape.  Many women go through the "self-doubt" phase at this point in labor, expressing that they "can't do this."  I had made up my mind before labor not to voice these types of feelings, and it was a good call.  If I had allowed myself to proclaim doubt or fear, it would have been like an all-consuming tidal wave, which would have weakened my resolve to finish what I started.  Who knows...I might have called up an ambulance and had myself shipped to the hospital for an epidural for all I know!  A major, MAJOR help was my friend, Reilynn, who was acting as my doula.  As she prayed for me through each contraction and massaged my back, I heard her pray things like, "Thank you for this contraction, Lord," and "Give her the strength to make it through this contraction."  These prayers acted like reminders for me to put my weakening, feeble, exhausted self into God's hands and to be strengthened, mentally and physically by Him.  Each time I looked at Reilynn, with pleading, fearful eyes, she would encourage me, telling me how great I was doing and how impressed she was with my progress and focus.  So, even when I felt like I was failing or being a huge wimp, she was there to support and focus me on the reality of the quick and relatively easy labor I was having.

At about 1:00am, my water still had not broken, and I was still feeling much like I had at 10pm, with the irresistible urge to push about every other contraction.  Finally, I decided that it was time to be checked.  I laid down on the bed, and I remember how wonderful it felt to lay on my back!  It felt so good to rest and stretch my back that I almost forgot about being in labor!  Anyway, Lisa checked me and said, "Oh, hun, you are ready to go!  How long have you felt this way?"  I said, "Since about 10 o'clock!"  She explored more and found that the only thing holding the baby back from being born was this one edge of my cervix that needed to be pulled to the side to allow the baby's head to descend!!!  So, she explained the I needed to allow her to pull the cervix aside as I pushed through the next several contractions.  She also prepared the bed and herself with chuck pads for the inevitable bursting of my amniotic sac.  She said, "Don't think I haven't been splashed before!"  Well, no amount of chuck pads could have protected her enough...In about two or three pushes, my water burst with so much force (and water) that it flooded the entire king-sized bed, her shirt, her pants, and everyone else that was anywhere near me!  It washed up my back (not that I cared at that point), and I felt an incredible sense of relief of pressure.  Although the amniotic sac being in tact saved the baby from any stress from labor, it made the intense parts of my labor feel much more "pressurized," if that makes sense.

After my water broke, we were off and running.  That nagging little edge of my cervix was out of the way, and the baby's head was working its way down the birth canal.  I pushed for a little under an hour.  After talking to lots of women and reading lots of books, I had commonly heard that by the point the baby is crowning, you are basically numb down there from the pressure.  They say that dilating from 8-10cm is the worst of it.  Well, I am here to say that is SO NOT TRUE!  Wowsers...  Yes, pushing did feel different and natural, but whoa, boy...It hurt!  Each push was more intense than the last.  All the ladies were thrilled with how quickly he was coming down, and they expressed that they were very impressed with how I was pushing like I'd done it before (which was so encouraging for me).  As the intensity increased, I remember looking around with "wild eyes," thinking, "oh my goodness...how am I going to get through this?!"  When the ladies saw this look, they would remind me that this was the hardest thing I was ever going to do and that I needed to push aside my fear and focus on pushing through the pain.  These reminders were exactly what I needed to hear.  I needed them to acknowledge what I was going through and motivate me to do what needed to be done, and they did exactly that.  Regularly, Lisa offered the mirror so that I could see the progress.  Strangely enough, I was reluctant to look every time because of the pain; however, I'm so glad I did.  I touched him for the first time as his little head started to poke out, and I felt and saw a head quite full of dark looking hair!  I didn't have the strength to look during crowning, but Reilynn was taking pictures for me to look back on.

As the baby was crowning, Lisa was pouring oil on my "area" and instructing me to push with short, softer pushes until his head was out.  This was the pinnacle of the pain of childbirth.  I've heard people call this the "ring of fire," where you feel so stretched that it feels as though you're on fire.  Lisa commented, "You're stretching beautifully.  No tears!"  What she didn't know was that Griffin was descending through the birth canal with his fists under his chin.  So, when his head came out, I tore internally with the unusual pressure/friction of those little arms and fists.  In other words, there was no resting point at the neck.  Also, the cord was wrapped around his neck once, but it didn't cause any issues during the birth.  Lisa instructed Oliver to get ready, because she knew that he wanted to deliver Griffin if possible.  I'm not sure if it was the delirium or what, but I had no clue how close we were to having our little baby in the world!  On the next push, Oliver reached down, with the midwives' help, and pulled Griffin out!  I watched him cry as he put our son on my chest/belly, and I laughed and laughed with joy.

I'll have to wrap up this story in the 4th (and final) installment a bit later...but here are some pictures to tide you over :)  [WARNING:  These are, in fact, pictures of labor and the birth of a baby; however, there are no private parts shown.  Things shown:  a brand new baby covered with vernix, blood, and non-private parts like legs and my belly][SECOND WARNING:  These are also THE most unflattering pictures ever taken of me...But, I suppose that's the nature of giving birth-You aren't exactly concerned about looking your best at the greatest moment of your life.]

More to come...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Continuing in Cloth

A while ago, I blogged on starting out in cloth diapering. By way of update, the past couple weeks of cloth diapering Griffin have gone great! We have had less leaks and less diaper rash, and both mama and baby are quite happy with the switch. As I mentioned in my last post on the topic, I invested about $30 or so on the cheapest, old-fashioned bare essentials to get my feet wet and see if I could handle the extra work. I decided that if I could make it with the old-fashioned prefold diapers with pins and pull-over plastic pants, I could invest in some nicer cloth pocket diapers, velcro covers, and supplies. After a couple relatively easy weeks, I've determined that the switch to cloth is much easier than I imagined and have used a bit of our tax return money to purchase some diapers from kellyscloset.com. The package should arrive tomorrow or Friday, and I never imagined I would be so excited to get a bunch of diapers in the mail!

The routine goes as follows: I change Griffin at least every two hours. During the change, I pull off the plastic pants, turning them inside out, and then hang them to dry if there is no poo on them. Then, I put the diaper on top of the "diaper pail" (a small, plastic trash can with a pop-up lid) to take care of post-diaper change. After wiping off my babe's bottom, I clean it with California Baby's Diaper Area Wash and wipe it clean with a cotton pad. Once his little bottom air dries, I either put on the diaper or put a little California Baby Diaper Cream if there is a bit of pinkness. As for folding the diaper, I've tried several different folds and have found one that has contained every major poop blowout Griffin can throw at it. It's the twist fold: http://www.thediaperhyena.com/twist_fold.htm , and it creates a sort of pocket at the rear to contain messes. Once I pin it up, I put on the plastic pants, making sure no cloth is sticking out, and away we go!

As for the dirty diapers... I spray each poopy diaper with a mix of white vinegar and water and place it in the diaper pail, which I've lined with a pillowcase that I toss in the wash with the diapers. I wash the diapers every other day and begin with a cold rinse cycle with a smidge of Oxyclean. Then, I put them through a hot wash with 1/4 the normal amount of detergent and two rinse cycles. Normally, I then put them in the dryer, and they're done; however, today I noticed quite a few of the diapers had quite a bit of yellow staining from his breastfed baby poo. So, I did a bit of research, and determined that bleach was not the ideal solution due to bleach being a major skin irritant (and I know Griffin has pretty sensitive skin). I read on several websites that sun is the best remedy, and I hung the diapers out on the line to dry. I must say, I was shocked to walk out and collect all perfectly white diapers from the line after a couple hours basking in the sun!!! This is not only easy, but it saves the extra energy and water it would take to wash and wash and wash them white!

At this point, Griffin is cloth diapered all day and still wears a disposable at night. I plan to switch his nighttime diaper to cloth when the package of nicer, more absorbent diapers arrives. I'm sure I will blog about these new diapers after they arrive. I've ordered several different kinds...some BumGenius one-size pocket diapers, some FuzziBunz one-size pocket diapers, some Thirsties, Bummis Super Brite, and Flip diaper covers, some Bummis prefold diapers, some Flip inserts, and some BumGenius inserts. We'll see how each of these systems work out, and I'll let you know!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Griffin's Birth Story - Part 2

[If you would like to read Part 1 of Griffin's Birth Story first, click here.]

As I said, Christmas came and went with no baby.  I was beginning to get very, very tired from six to eight hour blocks of contractions during the day and contractions every ten to fifteen minutes through the night.  Needless to say, I wasn't getting much sleep during the night or rest during the day, and I was concerned that I was expending precious energy before my active labor even began.  For those who are unfamiliar with labor lingo, "active labor" begins when you are 4 cm dilated and beyond.  Most women spend the bulk of their labor dilating from 0-4 cm for their first birth (not sure about subsequent births for this statistic).

The day after Christmas is my dad's birthday, and he was celebrating the big 5-0 this year.  We all thought it would be great to have little Griffin born exactly 50 years to the day after his Grandpa Brian, and I was exhausted from a week of on-again-off-again contractions.  On a long walk with Oliver through the neighborhood, I gave my midwife, Lisa, a call.  I shared my concerns about exhaustion, stress on the baby, etc., and she recommended we come in that day for an exam and to discuss our options.

At about 1 or so that day, we met Lisa at the birth center.  During her exam, she found that I was 1 cm dilated and completely effaced (meaning my cervix was thinned out in preparation for birth).  Then, as she was checking me, I dilated to 3 cm!  Can I tell you, it is so nice to dilate 2 cm without having to work for it!  She said that my body was right on the precipice of active labor, but that we had the option for her to strip my membranes to get things going.  "Stripping the membranes" refers to a procedure where the midwife/OB-GYN will insert her finger into the cervix, bend her finger, and rotate it around the top of the cervix to separate the cervix from the amniotic sac.  This released the natural hormone that is primarily responsible for starting labor.  This only works if your body is ready to go into labor, so the risks are very minimal.  We decided this would be best in our situation, and she performed the procedure.  I've heard other people talk about how painful this is, but I experienced no pain, no cramping, no nothing!  Yay!  So, she sent us home with directions to have a glass of wine and take a nap because we were going to have a baby tonight!

I cannot tell you how completely overwhelmed and nervous I was on that drive home.  I remember shaking in the car from the fear of the unknown, fear of the pain, fear of becoming a mom, etc. etc.  Fear was beginning to really take ahold of me at that point.  We did as directed, and I took a great nap from 4-5pm.

I woke up in a noticeably different condition...full-fledged active labor.  The contractions were definitely more intense and coming quite close together.  My goal was to labor as long as possible in the comfort of my own home, so I set to work.  As I mentioned in my last post, my dad, step-mom, and 14 year old brother were staying with us for the holidays, so they were here to witness this part of the labor.  I remember my dad watching me going through contraction after contraction, and he eventually said, "Why don't you try to get on your hands and knees.  Maybe that'll take some of the pressure off."  I laugh at this suggestion now, but at that time I was willing to try anything!  So, I lumbered down onto all fours and immediately found that it was the wrong position for me...ouch!  Immediately after that realization, I realized that I was unable to get up!!  If you have seen pictures of my last trimester, you know that my belly got bigger than almost any woman I've ever seen carrying just one baby.  Anyway, Oliver and my step-mom helped me to my feet.  At this point, I was trying to stay in denial that things were really happening so that I didn't freak out and trying to find what the most comfortable positions were for me to labor in, but it became increasingly clear that I had to confront that the time had come to go to the birth center.  First, I was unable to speak or listen during contractions.  Second, I began to bleed, which happens with the dilation of the cervix.  Third, it became difficult for me to think about anything at all...getting the birth bag and supplies together, etc.  Good thing I had that bag packed ahead of time...There is NO way I was coherent enough to do that during that time.  As I held onto my step-mom's shoulders through a contraction, she said, "Katie, it's time to go now."  I knew she was right, and at 6pm, Oliver and I got ourselves together and drove to the birth center, calling our midwife and my friend, Reilynn (who was acting as my doula [aka. birth assistant]) on the way.

The time had finally come.  We were making our final drive as a family of two.  On the way there, Oliver and I prayed together for the safe and quick delivery of our son, and God brought a verse to mind to remind us that He has not given us a spirit of fear.  He has given us a spirit of power, of love, and of a sound mind.  Though I struggled with fear throughout the rest of the labor, God gave me the strength to say "no" to it, to turn away from it with confidence in Him.

When we arrived, I changed into the clothes I had chosen to labor in.  I chose a sports bra and a sort of tank top dress.  I highly recommend this combo, although next time I would go with a nursing sports bra for easy nursing post-birth.  The birth center atmosphere was just amazing.  Our room was very homey, with king-sized bed, rocking chair, couch, paintings on the wall, a water fountain, and various birth stools, balls, etc.  Our bathroom was nice and big, with a jacuzzi tub with jets (and handles!).  They kept the lights low, the candles lit, the water fountain bubbling, and the mood very relaxed and confident.  Lisa checked my progress shortly after we arrived and found that I was already at 6 cm.

[Sidenote:  Just minutes after we arrived at the birth center, our friends John and Cora Arenz arrived to have their baby!  Since we were both very busy giving birth, we didn't see one another during our time there; however, their sweet baby girl was born almost exactly 24 hours after Griffin was born.]

I spent the majority of my labor walking around the room and around the hallway loop in the birth center.  This was the most "comfortable" position for me, and it has the added benefit of speeding up labor.  When a contraction would hit (and boy did they HIT), I would put my hands around Oliver's neck, lean my head down onto his chest, squat and swing my hips, and BREATHE!  Oliver was so involved in the labor and delivery, and he was wonderful.  I've heard so many women talk about how annoyed they were by their spouse during labor, but I had the opposite experience.  Oliver was the perfect mix of attentive, concerned, encouraging, strong, confident, emotionally available, and yet not smothering.  He either held me up (literally) or held my hand through almost every contraction, and, as I'll write about later, he was able to deliver Griffin and place him on my chest.

During every contraction, Reilynn was there to massage my lower back and hips, and every woman who has ever given birth knows that lower back/hip massage is invaluable and so very helpful to get through the increasing pain of contractions.  Rei also prayed for me through every, single contraction, thanking the Lord for another contraction, for progress in the labor, and for strength and endurance for me.  She wasn't obnoxious or annoying about it, and I knew that she understood what I was going through, having had 5 naturally herself.  She kept me sane during the process, and her presence was so comforting.  I turned to her many times for encouragement, and she was excellent at giving it.  There were plenty of times where I was so delirious with exhaustion and pain that the notion that I could not do it began to crop up; however, it was Reilynn's prayers that reminded me to focus on the Lord, to draw my strength from Him, to recognize my own short-comings and accept His help, and most of all, to give Him thanks for progress.

People ask what a contraction feels like, and I have heard many different answers.  Severe diarrhea cramps/menstrual cramps is one I've heard and can agree this is what the very, very early ones feel similar to; however, active labor/transition contractions are surreal and like nothing I've ever experienced.  [Note:  "Transition" is the stage of labor where you dilate from 8-10 cm, and it is the most intense stage of contractions.  Many people say this is the most painful part of labor, but I disagree.  Pushing hurts worse.]  I do not want to write a horrifying birthing story here that would scare other women, especially soon-to-be-moms.  That is the LAST thing I want to do.  Labor is not horrifying or insurmountable...It is just different than any other experience that there is really no way to conceptualize it before you experience it for yourself.  I must be honest and say that it was harder and more painful than I imagined, but that is only because I had never done it before and was unable to imagine it.  There just is nothing else in life that is similar to the feelings you feel when you are giving birth.  When you're doing it for the first time, there is also that nagging fear of the unknown.  The key for me was NOT to entertain those fears and NOT to allow thoughts in my head or words out of my mouth like "I can't" or "I don't want to."  Keeping those kinds of thoughts out helped me to grit my teeth and get down to business with having that baby instead of torturing myself with my weaknesses.

I did spend a couple of hours in the jacuzzi/birthing tub.  They turned the jets on, and I just laid back and tried to relax.  Oliver poured water on my belly and offered me water and smoothies to drink.  I must say, the tub was amazing.  The pain did not go away or lessen much, but I was able to relax so fully between contractions that I actually would fall asleep!  ...And the contractions couldn't have been more than 2 minutes apart or so!

At about 10pm, after being in the tub for quite a while, I began feeling the urge to push.  At times, I was unable to stop myself.  However, my water had not yet broken and I was unsure of what exactly I was looking for that would indicate it was time to push...having never given birth before.  There were contractions I could breath through and not push, and there were other contractions that I could not stop my body from pushing on.  I decided to get out of the tub and walk some more to "get things going."  I was ready to get that baby out!

To be continued...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Griffin's Birth Story - Part 1

Since December 27th, I’ve been wanting to write Griffin’s birth story.  Well, nearly 3 months later, I’m finally getting around to it.  Not only do I want to record the details of the most wonderful day of my life for memory’s sake (I happen to have one of the worst memories on the planet), but I also hope that this story will inspire other soon-to-be parents out there to consider natural birth.  I am not going to say that birthing Griffin naturally was painless or easy, but I will say that there are some beautiful benefits to taking that road...the road less traveled in today's western world.

Before I begin, I would like to mention that, yes, I am writing about labor and delivery, and, yes, this will include details and tastefully chosen pictures of my labor and delivery.  No private parts will be shown...hence the "private" part (pun intended).  

I do not seek out tests of endurance.  I am no marathon runner or mountain climber.  Most of my life's tests of perseverance have not had happy endings.  Like most human beings on the planet, I am a great starter and a pretty terrible finisher.  There is nothing special about me in this endurance department, although it is an area of my life I recognize needs work.  After much research and strong personal conviction, Oliver and I chose to have our son naturally, without drugs or any other interventions, in a birthing center with a midwife.  I've blogged about this decision for natural birth in the past, if you would like to read about our journey in that department.  We found Lisa Byrd at Covenant Birth Center in Lexington, SC, and she helped empower and prepare us physically, mentally, and emotionally for the big day throughout the course of our prenatal care.  However, nothing can fully prepare you for the massive, life-changing test of endurance that is birthing a baby.  I asked my friend, Reilynn (who, herself, birthed 5 babies naturally) to be my doula, and she had stressed several times that birth is like a marathon, taking loads of endurance and focused pacing.  She is the kind of person who loves finding the "runners high" of a long race, and I wondered how I, a pretty "wimpy" person in comparison, could climb the proverbial mountain of birthing a baby.

Griffin was due a few days after I completed my last semester of college on December 18th.  From the way I felt (and looked!), I thought there was no way I would make it to my due date.  So, I made arrangements with my professors for the possibility of an early birth.  Somehow, I made it through those last exams and papers in a special desk with a separate seat, being too enormous for a regular desk, and I completed my semester with my GPA not too much damaged...although, at that point, I did not care an iota about my GPA!  My dad, step-mom, and brother were due to arrive on the 21st to stay for the birth of Griffin and Christmas.  We were hoping his birth would precede Christmas by quite a bit, but our little guy deemed it necessary to stay in the cooker a bit longer than any of us thought was physically possible.    

I began the week of Christmas with pretty mild contractions that would stay pretty regular for several hours and then dissipate.  This pattern continued throughout Christmas week, and the contraction severity and blocks of time increased as time went by.  Several days before Christmas and Christmas Eve day brought regular enough contractions to warrant phone calls to my midwife, asking for advice and giving her a head's up.  None of these bouts of contractions amounted to active labor, and my family and I went about having a good time together, doing all kinds of things we all knew I wouldn't be doing for a while after Griffin was born.  We went out to eat (although I was bracing through contractions for many a meal), went out to see Avatar in 3-D, and went on long, strenuous walks, hoping to get things going so we could have a baby before Christmas.  Well, Christmas came and went, and all Griffin's "First Christmas" outfits had to be returned or shelved for the next baby.  

Looks like I'll have to post this story in installments...More to come!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Embarking on a Cloth Journey

First, I apologize for my absence from the world of blogging for the past months.  In setting up this blog, my intention was to keep my family and friends, many of whom live 1000 miles away, updated; however, many of said family members and friends have joined the Facebook world, and it has been much quicker and easier to upload the gazillion photos I take of Griffin there.  That being said, I do realize that blogging has its perks...storytelling, thought sharing, etc.  So, I would like to begin blogging once more with the intention of sharing the bulk of my photos on Facebook and the bulk of my thoughts and stories from our family on this blog.

Second, I would like to kick off this fresh attempt at blogging with the story of our first day using cloth diapers.  Before Griffin was born, I had hopes of cloth diapering.  I never got around to actually purchasing any, and being a first-time mom of a newborn made me wonder if I could even do it!  So, I started my little lad off on disposables with the intention of switching to cloth down the road when things started "calming down" a bit.  Here I am, 2 1/2 months later, ready to get my foot in the door with cloth.

Several people have asked me why I would even consider the mess and hassle of cloth diapering.  After doing a bit of research, I must admit that my motive is not predominately environmental.  Sure, cloth diapers don't fill up landfills; however, they do take much more energy, water, and detergent bottles that I normally would not need to use.  My aunt also did this research, and found that the environmental benefit is still there, but it is not substantial when you weigh in these other factors.  My motivations are primarily financial and for the physical well-being of Griffin.  Of course, there is an initial investment in cloth.  This is why I've chosen to use gift cards to purchase the cheapo Gerber white cloth diapers, plastic diaper covers, and pins to get started.  If I determine that I am willing and able to handle the cheaper (and tougher) old fashioned method, I will invest in better quality prefolds, diaper covers, and even in 12 or so nice one-size all-in-one diapers (like BumGenius or FuzziBunz).  I also mentioned the physical benefit for Griffin.  I'm not super big on the idea of the bajillion chemicals and whatnot in the disposables, and I'm constantly having to use diaper rash ointment to keep the diaper rash at bay...even though I change his diaper at least ever 2 hours, let his bottom air dry, and use the Pampers "Sensitive" Swaddlers.  He's only gotten bad diaper rash once, but why should I have to constantly use the ointment to keep the rash at bay?  I've read and heard many testimonies about babies who struggled with diaper rash with disposables and did not when switched to cloth.  So, it's definitely worth a try.

Today, after doing a bunch of reading and researching online, I began with a hilarious 20 minutes of trying to get the diaper on and pinned correctly without stabbing Griffin.  I wound up stabbing myself instead and bled all over the diaper...hence the blood on the picture below.
After I finally got things under control and went to have breakfast, Griffin proceeded to promptly fill his diaper beyond capacity.  It was less than 10 minutes and poop was literally soaking the entire back of Griffin's outfit...all the way up to his shoulders!  This, of course, meant a bath.  The second time around, I made sure to pull the plastic diaper cover completely over the entire diaper...especially on the back.  I'm assuming it was sticking out before and the wetness just soaked into his clothing.  Since that minor adjustment, there have been no more leaks!  I believe we went through 10 diapers today.  Griffin is in bed (in a disposable...I'm not that brave yet!), and the diapers just finished their cold rinse cycle in the washer (thank the Lord for washing machines!!!).  They are completely stained yellow, and I'm wondering if that'll come out in the hot wash cycle.  

So, here's the setup:
I have 12 6 ply prefold Gerber diapers, 12 3 ply prefold Gerber diapers, 6 pins, 6 plastic Gerber diaper covers, a trash can with a touch pop-up lid, and 2 pillow protector cases which I use as liners in the trash can (so I can just empty the bag into the wash and toss the bag in as well).

They say to keep your pins in a bar of soap to help them slide through the diaper fabric.  SO true!  I'm looking forward to getting better at this.  I welcome any suggestions or opinions on good brands of prefolds, diaper covers, and all-in-ones. 

I guess Griffin doesn't know the difference between the two now, but he looks awful cute in them!  I've also heard that it is easier to potty train when using cloth because they can actually feel that they are wet (unlike the almost bizarre lack of wetness in a disposable).