Category Archives: Mothering

Cloth Diapering

Cloth Diapering

We are committed to cloth diapering the babe, until he is completely ready to use the potty. Since coming home from the hospital, he has worn cotton prefolds with PUL or wool covers (we prefer wool, now). We decided to use cloth diapers for many reasons including our desire to lessen our impact on the planet by reducing our waste contribution.

Dioxin, which in various forms has been shown to cause cancer, birth defects, liver damage, and skin diseases, is a by-product of the paper-bleaching process used in manufacturing disposable diapers, and trace quantities may exist in the diapers themselves.

Disposable diaper manufacturers would like us to believe that their diapers prevent diaper rash, because the “pull the wetness away from the skin”. The reality is that a variety of factors cause diapers rash; reactions to chemicals in the diapers, wipes, detergents, foods, etc…Frequent changes and plenty of air with careful attention to chemical exposure greatly reduce the risk of rashes. Babes diapered in disposables typically are changed less because the diapers feel dry. The outer plastic shell of a disposable diaper prevents the little bum from being able to “breathe”.

Super absorbent disposable diapers contain sodium polyacrylate gel, which absorbs up to 100 times its weight in water. Sodium polyacrylate is the same substance that was removed from tampons in 1985 because of its link to toxic shock syndrome. No studies have been done on the long-term effects of this chemical being in contact with a baby’s reproductive organs 24 hours a day for upwards of two years.

If water usage is a concern, consider that 18 billion disposable diapers are thrown in landfills each year, taking as many as 500 years to decompose. Disposable diapers make up the third largest source of solid waste in landfills. It takes upwards of 82,000 tons of plastic and 1.3 million tons of wood pulp, or a quarter-million trees, to manufacture the disposable diapers that cover the bottoms of 90 percent of the babies born in the US.

Many people question whether or not cloth diapers are sanitary. It is the handling of diapers and the diaper changing process that requires attention, in the area of sanitation. Hand washing and proper storage of dirty diapers (both cloth and disposable) are paramount in maintaining a safe diaper changing process. The disposal of human waste in public landfills is prohibited, so the instructions provided by the disposable diaper manufacturers is to scrape any solid waste into the toilet, before disposing of the diaper. Have you ever seen anyone do that?

Another concern that people are express is that a cloth diaper pail smells. Ours does not. We keep the pails clean, and experience no foul odors. The smell of waste in a disposable diaper is truly nasty.

What about the time that it takes? It takes less time to dump a load of cloth diapers into the washing machine and transfer them to the dryer than it does to shop for disposables, load them into the car, unload them at home, and take garbage out to the transfer station (stinking all the way).

We have tried many different washing methods and combinations of soaps. What currently works for us is to keep two pails. One dry with a reusable dry bag and on wet. All wet diapers go straight into the dry pail. All poopy diapers get the poop sprayed off into the toilet then put into a pail of cold water and either Bi-O-Kleen Bac-Out or borax. This pail is kept right in the bathroom, in the cabinet under the sink. Then, every other day all dirty diapers go into the washer. I rinse them with old water. Then wash with hot water, adding soapnuts and oxygen bleach. One warm rinse it usually enough, but sometimes an additional cold or warm rinse is necessary. Then, I sniff test the diapers, they should smell fresh and clean and kind of spicy. Then they get dried. My preference is to dry on the line, in the sun. But, since the sun is hard to come but in the winter in New England, the dryer is sufficing.

That’s it. We had trouble finding the right soap to work with our hard water. We used everything from Charlie’s Soap (which we loved before moving to this house and well) to Sun and Earth to Arm and Hammer Essentials. The step to soapnuts has been a great move, so far. With the other soaps, I was having to boil the diapers on a regular basis to remove soap build up and the post-pee stinkiness that is causes. For our water conidtions it is best for us to not use white vinegar or baking soda, although they work great for many people. If some disinfection is required, we use grapefruit seed extract.

The babe has that classic baby look about him, with a sweet, padded, white bottom. He loves to help  fold his diapers and wipes. He climbs in and out of the laundry basket, “helping”.

There are many more expensive (really cute and tempting) cloth diapering options (All-In-Ones, fitteds, minkies, etc…) but, like so many things, I find the simpler I keep it, the better. So, it remains all cotton diaper service quality prefolds, fastened with a snappi and a cover. We are not buying any more PUL covers, we are going all wool. But that is a subject for another post!

Signing

Signing

Marshall has been signing to us, regularly, for about 3 weeks. He signs when he wants to nurse (gigi), by using the ASL sign for milk (created by opening and closing the right hand, in a milking motion). He will continue to make the sign, as he is breastfeeding. So sweet. His sign for “more” is similar, but he uses both hands, palms up. You will see this sign most often at mealtimes. Especially meals involving blueberries.

We sign while singing the alphabet, so he does too. I love watching his chubby fingers move, as he bobs along. He cannot yet form the letters, but he has plenty of time.

While at the grocery a couple of weeks ago, the baby is in his sling, furiously singing “gigi, gigi, more, more”, when an older gentleman asked, “Is he signing? My son is teaching his son sign language”. Loved it!

While we have no plans for our child to replace verbal communication with its silent partner, it is a real joy for all of us to have this additional layer or communication. We will continue to show him signs and to learn his signs, as we go along.

Speaking

Speaking

Cubby is speaking to us! He has been saying “ahdun” when he is finished eating, getting a change, taking a bath, or just ready to move on to something else. He says “Dadadadada” to Adam and when Adam is around and yesterday started saying “Mum Ma”. Today, the babe is really trying out the effect that “Mum Ma” has on me.

Marshall has made dadada and mamama sounds for a while now, but the words seem discriminate, now. And isn’t that what speech really is? Sounds made at relevant times that resonate with the listener? Wait. If that is the definition, then I know many people who do not speak, they just babble.

Toothy

Toothy

The babe’s forth tooth (left top primary incisor) is completely in! And the fifth (top right secondary incisor) is beginning to poke through the gums. He is funny about his new teeth, like the are private or something. He does not like it when you try to look in his mouth. You can see them when he laughs (which he does often) and when is cries, but it is very hard to to capture any photos of these sweet elusive little pearls. I will keep trying, though.

Scooting

Scooting

Marshall is becoming increasingly mobile. He gets around very quickly by scooting on his belly (like he’s in boot camp), propelling himself with with his right foot. The left foot is either dragged or sticking up in the air. It is very cute to watch him!
Because of this increased mobility and his ability to sit up so well now, Adam turned the cosleeper into a ball pit, by converting it into it’s play yard form and filling it with 300 brightly colored balls! The baby plays in it a little bit, but is still a little unsure. We took our bed off of it’s risers, losing some storage. But, we wanted it to be closer to the floor so that the risk of injury from falling off would be lessened. Then, we side-carred a twin bed between the wall and our queen-sized family bed. This is a great way to sleep! So much more room now.

Clapping

Clapping

Marshall was watching football with his Grampy, this evening. The Jets fumbled and the Seahawks scored, so Grampy (die-hard Pats fan that he is) clapped his little, dimpled hands together. Marshall clapped, too! 1-2-3 little claps in succession. Then, he clapped whenever someone else did. He clapped with Daddy, Grammy, and Mama.

Dancing

Dancing

Marshall was standing on the couch, holding onto the window sill, looking out at the falling snow, yesterday. I sat next to him with my hand on his back. When I began absentmindedly humming Sarasponda, he started to dance! Bobbing his soft, fuzzy little head up and down. It was not coincidental, because it was reproducible. If you play music, sing, hum, or drum a rhythm, he will dance. No one else has to be moving.

I love Marsh’s growing abilities. He is so much fun, even on his crabbier teething days. He has three teeth coming in; the bottom central incisors and the top right central incisor. The poor babe is most uncomfortable at night, when there are less distractions. He loves to bite; elbows, chins, cheeks, fabric. He is not really into any of his designated teething toys. Teething tabs provide him with some comfort so that he can rest.

While breastfeeding, he has clamped down very hard a few times (growling), startling me. Twice I hooted loudly, “Ouch!” This brought him to tears, but after calming him down and letting him re-latch he did it again. So, I are trying to pay close attention and catch him before he bites.

Delighted

Delighted

This morning, the babe pulled his right foot into his mouth. He was delighted! Once I got the camera, he stopped and was just interested in interacting with me, instead of showing off his new skill. He tried it again after his diaper was on, but cannot quite reach. All the more reason for him to go diaperless, when possible. I am going  to learn more about natural infant hygiene/ elimination communication.

On a Hero's Journey

On a Hero's Journey

Our birth experience was truly beautiful. Adam and I have considered ourselves parents from the moment that we found out about Marshall’s conception. Here is our story. I had been experiencing prodromal labor for weeks. But, on Sunday, May 18th, I felt different. I felt ready. I sensed that the baby within me was ready.

Strong contractions began in the afternoon and I wanted to keep them going. So, I prepared for labor by applying oil of evening primrose to my cervix, having wonderful loving, deeply meditating, performing steady labor inducing acupressure on my hands and feet, rocking on my trusty exercise ball, cooking and eating some lovely high-protein salmon, spinach and quinoa, drinking copious amounts of water with Emergen-C , eating lots of juicy pineapple that My Love prepared, cleaning, dancing, taking Rescue Remedy and trying to rest. Adam and I watched The Kite Runner and had a good cry (Well, I cried. Adam’s eyes looked suspiciously moist. Perhaps it was just our allergies…).

I had no concept of time, during our birth experience. It was only afterward, during discussions, that Adam filled in the times and details. As is true in the other aspects of our life together, he was always there. Holding me, reminding me of lovely places that we have been to together, inspiring me, and keeping me hydrated. He was my birth guardian and his gorgeous eyes my focal point.

At around 10:00 pm, my contractions were very strong and regular, coming in 3-5 minute intervals. Adam packed up the car and we headed out for our 45 minute drive to the birthing center at Dartmouth Hitchcock. When we first got there I was examined by a nurse and then the on-call midwife (not the one I really wanted). My contractions had slowed to between 5-10 intervals, so the midwife told us that we should go home to rest. I was deep into Laborland territory, so I had to rely on Adam to be reasonable. He told the midwife that we would like to stay, due to our 45 minute drive home. So, I was given a warm blanket and told to try to rest, as much as possible. I could not rest. I felt the strongest urge to move, but I tried to conserve energy.

The intensity of the contractions made me feel sick to my stomach, so Adam helped me to the toilet. To our surprise, my water broke! I took a shower and Adam helped by cleaning up and walking back to bed with me. When the nurse came in to check on us, we told her that the bag of waters had burst. She seemed unsure, so she went and looked into the toilet and saw little flakes of the baby’s vernix suspended in the water. That confirmed in their minds that this was real labor!

We were transferred to a birthing suite, right next to one of the deep labor tubs. Adam suggested that we get into the tub. We spent the next two hours in that wonderful water. The lighting was soft, the walls were painted with wispy, Maxfield Parrish-like clouds. We were left alone to labor in privacy with only occasional visits from the nurse to check the baby’s heart rate. We listened to some soothing ambient/trance and Adam held me as we rocked in the tub. When I got too hot to stay in any longer, we got out.

During the two hours in the tub (I thought that we had been in for 20 minutes), my cervix had gone from 3 to 9 cm dilation and was now 100% effaced. I labored on the toilet, the rocking chair, the shower, the exercise ball, walking, swaying, squatting. I hummed and vocalized the whole time, finding that deep thrumming, hmmms, and ohms, were the most productive.

When I was ready to push, I tried the squat bar and then being on all fours. I was not comfortable with either of those options as I felt unstable on the bed. I was beginning to feels worn down. When the midwife left the room, the well-meaning nurse directed me to a supine position, with my feet supported by her and Adam and me pulling back on my knees. Classic movie labor position. I shut down completely, thinking “This is the opposite of what I feel like doing”. I knew that the birth outlet was now 30% smaller than when I was squatting. She asked if I was afraid of something and I began to cry. Adam said, “This is not how we envisioned it. She does not want to push while laying down.”

I had been attracted to the simplicity of the birthing stool and asked if I could use it. That was so much better. I felt secure and grounded. Ready to push, with gravity as my aid.

After pushing quietly for some time, the midwife told me that while this had been a lovely, tranquil experience so far, but that this was a big baby and I was really going to need to dig deep and PUSH with each urge. Adam held me under the arms, whispering in my ear and giving me encouragement.

Our midwife guided my hand to feel our baby’s silky little head, crowning. I found stores of energy and was anxious to hold my child in my arms. The midwife encouraged me to get louder, to grunt and growl. She placed her fingers on my perineum and told me to focus my pushing into her hands. I felt our baby really begin to descend. And with one long grunt and push, I felt the baby leave my body.

I reached for the slippery, blinking baby and pulled the baby up on to my chest. The midwife said, “See what your body can do! You have a perfect vagina.” I love that woman!

I looked down into the very face of pureness. The baby’s silky, dark hair swirled around a somewhat conical (I thanked the babe for adapting so much) head. Little cowlicks swept the hair. Tiny hands wrapped around my fingers as I pulled the baby to my breast, and said to this new, yet familiar face, “Hello, mini Adam.” The hairline and little face was so very much like my dearest husband’s. The nurse asked us if we had looked “to see what it” was. A perfect little penis indicated that we had a little son.

We welcomed Marshall Leif into the “outside” world. When his cord stopped pulsing and all the blood returned to his little body, Adam cut the umbilical cord that connected us. He brought the baby to a warm, lit area of the room to check him all out and recut the umbilical cord, it was very long.

While cuddling our little son, I delivered the placenta, our shared organ. It did not want to leave my body, but after pitocin, and coaxing from the midwife, it was expelled. She spread it out on a little table beside the bed and showed all the parts to us. What a fascinating thing!

Marshall was alert and interested in the world around him, right from the start. Lifting his head off of my chest and turning his tiny head toward Adam’s voice.

I am so thankful that we had the opportunity to birth in such a natural, holistic way. Childbirth is a profound rite of passage, not a medical event (even when medical care is part of the experience). I hope that sharing our story will encourage other women and their loving partners to explore all the possibilities, to take charge of their healthcare, to question the “norms”, and ultimately, to birth in their own way.

Goddess