Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What I Wish I had Known About Pregnancy

I think that one of these days, this will turn into a series of posts, but the best place to start is the beginning.

When I started this journey I didn't know what I didn't know. I have this annoying habit of questioning things, though. I'm sure it drives people crazy, but whatever.

When I first got pregnant, I chose my care provider based on distance from my house and distance from my husband's workplace. To be fair, I did look up some ratings, I think, but basically that was it. I didn't know what birth preferences were, so I didn't bother to choose a doctor based on my philosophies (I didn't have philosophies about birth yet!). I realized after I had The Baby Fish how lucky I was that I ended up with a doctor who cooperated with me. Most people who share my obnoxious/obstinate/nitpicky ideas about pregnancy and birth choose a midwife/birthing center/home birth. I lucked out, but it makes me a little anxious about next time (if there is a next time) because my current doctor is moving out of state.

So here's what I wish I had known. Let me preface this by saying, I'm not a doctor and I don't care how anyone else births their babies. My only caveat is that you should decide how you want to do things through your own research rather than just bobbing along and letting someone else determine what your experience will be. We are fortunate to live in a time where medical interventions are available and in some cases they are necessary. They just aren't necessary nearly as often as they occur. Do your research. Your body. Your baby. Your birth experience. You have to take responsibility for your care.

1. If you have any crunchy tendencies, read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth the minute the second line shows up on the pee stick.

2. Research your care provider's/hospital's Cesarean rate. I hate to tell you this, but there are some doctors that will try to convince you that you need a C-Section so that they can be home in time for dinner, or so you won't interrupt their day off. They won't tell you that's why you need one. They'll probably say something along the lines of "the baby is just too big" or "failure to progress" or "your bag of water has been ruptured for too long." Again, in some cases that's true. Not always, though.

This is a great article about the rise in the number of C-sections amongst low risk women. You might think, "Oh, but all of those surgeries were necessary to save lives." Not so much. The rate of "bad maternal/fetal outcomes" has not decreased with the increase of C-sections. Seriously. Do your research. The rate of poor maternal/fetal outcomes is super low in the US, but it is still higher than the rate in some undeveloped countries. Isn't that baffling?! Here's another great article.

3. Your doctor will probably mention an induction. You probably don't need one.

If you are low risk and haven't exceeded 42 weeks gestation and you don't want to be induced, do your research, figure out what you want to do, and fight for it. You cannot be forced to consent to any medical procedure. You have a choice. You may have to sign some sort of waiver, but find out what your options are. You are not "overdue" until you exceed 42 weeks. From 40-42 weeks, you are "postdate."

Ask what your Bishop Score is. If you are induced with a low Bishop's score, the probability that your induction will lead to a C-Section skyrockets.

The average gestation for a first time pregnancy is 41 weeks 1 day. My doctor would have happily induced me at 40 weeks. Not because of any complications or concern about the health of my baby or me. It's just kind of what they do. I declined a 40 week induction and the baby came out anyway! He didn't come out at 40 weeks, but he came out when he was ready. Crazy how our bodies and our babies know what to do! :)

4. Research Evidence Based Birth. If your doctor suggests an intervention that you don't want, ask questions about why it's necessary in your particular pregnancy. You are the consumer. You are paying for a service. Don't fail to ask questions because you don't want to "bother" your doctor. A good doctor won't mind answering your questions and putting your mind at ease.

5. Figure out what your birth preferences are well ahead of your due date so you can discuss them with your doctor and get his or her input. You don't want to find out that you're not on the same page in the delivery room. If your doctor isn't supportive of your wishes, find out why and decide if he or she is directing your care from the standpoint of standard protocol or if your particular medical needs are being taken into consideration.

I could go on and on, but the main point is this: Learn as much as you can about what kind of care you want and what kind of care your doctor is going to provide. Be informed. Know your options.

Resources for more info:

Amnesty International
The Business of Being Born
Ina May Gaskin
Evidence Based Birth Blog
International Cesarean Awareness Network

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Demystified Diaper Dilemma

The funk came back. I thought it was a goner, but the funk came back...

I discussed my particular issues with my local diaper experts and they said they thought that my diapers just weren't getting enough water in the rinse to get all of the detergent out. When you don't get all of the detergent out, you get ammonia buildup in diapers = stink! This is a common problem with high efficiency washing machines. The usual "fix" is to throw a wet towel in with the diapers to add weight to the machine and trick it into adding more water.

I had tried doing that (along with nixing the "spin" in my prerinse cycle), but I was still having trouble.

Not only that, but some of my diapers have kind of yellowish brown patches on them that particularly seem to stink. And no, it's not poop. That was a little more mystifying than the smell. Not even the experts were sure of what that was. You can kind of see what I'm talking about on the diaper on the right.

I also picked up some Rockin Green detergent. It's maybe the most popular detergent amongst cloth diaper users because it rinses clean, is all natural, gentle, smells great, and it has cute little gimmicky scent names (Motley Clean, Smashing Watermelons, Barenaked Babies), etc. I thought that since my detergent wasn't rinsing out, maybe a more clean rinsing version would do better.

Then my washing machine died. Lovely, but it might be the best thing that has happened to my diaper routine because I think I've figured out the problem.

The machine wasn't letting enough water in. Even for an HE machine, it wasn't letting enough water in. And it was cutting off in the middle of the rinse cycle. Not only that, but when the repair guy came, he detached the hose that lets water into the machine to check the water pressure, and the clean water that was going into the machine was BROWN! (Umm...hello brown patches on diapers!) Ah the joys of well water! They are supposed to repair it today and I will be anxious to see what kind of difference it makes.

In the meantime we have been back in disposables and back to leaky nighttime ("12 hour"...yeah right!) diapers. Not only that, but I've had dirty diapers sitting in the pail for 3 days now and that is driving me absolutely nuts. I can't wait for it to be fixed!

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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Teething Schmeething

A certain little someone is working on tooth #3 this week and though he looks and grabs at the bottle of teething tablets like some kind of crack fiend, they just don't seem to be totally taking care of the pain.  I think tooth #4 is right around the corner too (seriously?!  He's not even 6 months old!).

Anybody have any experience with Baltic amber teething necklaces? I haven't seen a single review of them that isn't positive, but I don't know if any of my "real life" friends have any experience with them.  I would prefer to use something natural than to dope him up.

Don't let this sweet face fool you...he bites!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Ever notice how much vanilla extract costs and how quickly it disappears?  Maybe it only disappears so quickly here because I'm married to the world's best waffle maker, but it seems like there's only enough in one of those little bottles to make a few desserts.

As it turns out, it's really simple to make your own.

See exhibit A:

What you need:

  • Some sort of bottle that seals (we got ours at Hobby Lobby, isn't it cute?)
  • Cheap vodka (we used a couple of cups)
  • Whole vanilla beans (we used 5)
Now in order to do this, you are going to have to get over your fear of running into some of your fellow church members at the liquor store.  Some of y'all know what I'm talking about!

Vanilla beans can be pricey, so you might want to find a place that sells them in bulk or order them online.  If you're wondering why they're so expensive, it's because all of the growing and harvesting of the beans has to be done by hand.  Isn't it strange to think that in this day and age, there are still crops that are handled without the use of machinery?

I digress.

  1. Wrangle your vanilla beans onto a cutting board and cut a slit all the way down the bean.
  2. Drop the beans into your cute little bottle.
  3. Pour in enough vodka to cover the beans.
  4. Close the bottle and shake it up.
  5. Store in a dark cupboard and take it out to shake it up every now and then.
  6. As you use it, top it off every now and then with more vodka.  You can reuse the same beans in this way for awhile.
Within a couple of weeks, it should be ready to use!  When we first made it, the color was a light brown,but the picture was taken after about 2 weeks and you can see how dark it had gotten.  It has been about a month now and it's even better.

If you look around on Pinterest, you can find some variations on doing this, and some free printable labels for the bottle (very cute ones!).

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The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

Friday, March 1, 2013

In Which I Conquer my Fear of Diaper Stripping

You may recall that I'm terrified of having to strip diapers. Well you know what happens when you announce something like that publicly? Yep. I had to strip diapers last week.

Apparently you're supposed to strip diapers from time to time to help get rid of any mineral/ammonia/detergent that has built up in the diapers over time. We were over five months in and I had never stripped them. It was a good run.

If you Google stripping diapers, you will see that there are a million different ways it can be done. What works for one person may yield dismal results for another person. There are many factors to consider when figuring out how best to strip your diapers. Do you have hard or soft water? A traditional or HE washing machine? Do your diapers smell funny straight out of the wash? Do they smell poopy/fishy/ammonia-y?

I mean they're diapers. A care routine shouldn't be this complicated.

I wasn't really sure what I was dealing with, but The Baby Fish was starting to get some red patches in his diaper area, there was a weird smell that I just couldn't put my finger on (not poopy, not ammonia-y, just kind of moldy) when I took the diapers out of the washer, and his first diapers in the morning could fell a horse. I figured the morning diaper thing was just because he sleeps for 12 hours at night (please don't let me jinx myself) and nothing about 12 hour old warm pee SHOULD smell good, but the other issues were nagging at me.

I called my trusty diaper store and they suggested these two products:

The Bac-Out has live enzymes that eat up organic matter that is in the diaper and the Funk Rock is a natural ammonia bouncer.

Before I used those things, I attempted stripping them with blue Dawn dish soap. I was a little scared that I would come back to suds cascading out of the machine and down the stairs, so I didn't use very much.

I didn't notice any difference in the diapers after using it.

Then I tried the Funk Rock. Still no difference.

Then I tried the Bac-Out. I tried it once in the washer and didn't notice a difference. Then I dumped all of the diapers in the bathtub and soaked them in hot water with a good amount of Bac-Out overnight. In the morning, I washed them as usual (you really want to make sure you've rinsed all of the Bac-Out from the diapers before putting them on the baby so the enzymes don't attack the baby's skin). Still stinky.

So I did what I've heard you're never supposed to do.

I used bleach.

Bleach will void some diaper warranties, so I don't necessarily suggest it, but I did remove all of my diapers that have PUL before using bleach, so I was left with prefolds and a few fitteds. Then I rinsed, rinsed, rinsed.

It did the trick! Even that strong early morning pee smell is GONE. (I seriously stuck my head in the diaper pail the other morning to make sure and I couldn't smell anything! Ha!)

I've since read that using up to 1/4 cup of bleach in the wash once a month or so will not void most warranties, so I may do it every now and then just to keep them fresh.

In the meantime, I am going to try using the Bac-Out and the Funk Rock occasionally to try to keep buildup down.

I will say that we turned to disposables for a few days while I experimented with all of these stripping techniques and I was so glad to be back in cloth when it was all over. If you've only ever used 'sposies, you probably don't notice the chemical + pee smell, but I challenge you to use cloth for a little bit and then go back to disposables. It really is a strong chemical odor. The little trashbag of wet disposables that had only been sitting for one day was almost nauseating. His newly stripped diapers could sit wet in his room for two days and you wouldn't even know they were there.

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