Thursday, January 23, 2014

Cloth Diapering a Newborn From Day One- Getting Prepared...

In case you missed the first post from Emma, you can get all caught up here :-)

BIG Changes: Less Stress and Home-based Prenatal Care

I can honestly say that this pregnancy has been so much easier and better than my first. It really has been a fantastic pregnancy. The lack of stress and hours on my feet has honestly made all the difference. You would think that with a toddler it would be harder, but I can spend hours reading her books, singing, going for walks to the park, and countless other activities that I feel helped my womb baby adjust to the sounds and activities of our daily life, while giving me the exercise I need to stay fit for an un-medicated home birth. Yes, the budget has been tight, but family time has been plentiful. I have enjoyed almost every moment of it (I have to say “almost” because yes, there are always toddler meltdowns and refusal-to-nap days, and finals week in which my husband has to be MIA all week long). 

Another benefit with this pregnancy has been the prenatal home-visits of my midwives. Unlike seeing an OB or a midwife in a doctor’s office or
clinic, my home birth midwives schedule to see me in my own home. My toddler can play with her own toys, help take my blood pressure, and even gets the chance to listen to the baby with the fetoscope. The midwives also let her lie down and pretend to do what mommy does, such as get her belly listened to. I don’t have to worry about being exposed to icky germs in a doctor’s office. If my daughter needs a diaper change, I don’t have to lug my cloth diapers around with me and can change her in the middle of a visit, or sit her on the potty to try on her own. The visits often last over an hour as we chat about questions and concerns and anything else on my mind at a leisurely pace, unlike traditional doctor’s visits in which I get 5 minutes to try to remember all the questions I have while trying to keep my daughter from opening all the drawers, ripping the paper off the exam table, and climbing the furniture. I can discuss my natural options without being judged, and get advice on tandem nursing for when baby is born. The midwives keep a prenatal record and provide information packets to read at my leisure, and all records are kept with me so I can browse them at any time (unlike a doctor’s office at which you must request them and often do not get copies until weeks later). I can honestly say I have been extremely happy with my choice of home birth this time around, and the reassurance and copies of research studies they have given me have helped me feel even more comfortable with my choice of VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section) at home. Often I am told of the risks and danger of home birth by friends and relatives, but being within a 10-15 minute drive to a hospital and midwives with plenty of experience transporting to hospitals in emergency, I feel perfectly safe. 

Placentas and Poop…Not the Best Combination

Have you ever been in an odd location and suddenly, a smell wafts through the air and you know you are doomed? That happened to me during our “Catch Class” for the home birth. It is a class for the daddies who need to know how to prepare for and “catch” the baby should the midwives arrive too late. This is another great benefit to home birth over standard OB care. If you should happen to push out that baby before they can arrive, your husband is trained and prepared with all the knowledge and supplies he needs to do the job himself! If my aunt’s husband were to have that type of training, unheard of in most standard care, my cousin would have been born safely at home instead of alongside the road in a car on the way to the hospital. I can’t imagine how uncomfortable it must have been for my aunt to try to get in the car with the water bag already starting to come out! Yikes! 

Anyway, back to the story…

Our “catch class” was held at one of the midwives’ homes with my family and another couple who had a toddler at about the same age as mine. I sat in the back with the two kids while my husband joined the other couple up front to get all the information without distraction. The kids played well together and the meeting went smoothly for all, until the placenta came out. No, don’t worry, I didn’t suddenly have my baby right then and there! The midwife took a placenta out of the fridge to show us how it looks and what to look for to make sure it all comes out intact. As she was showing us the parts of the placenta, I began to smell an awful, familiar scent. Yes, my daughter decided to blow out her diaper right then and there, staining and soaking through her pants in the process. As I frantically tried to contain it, the smell hit the front of the room, and I could tell that the observation of the placenta was a lot less bearable with the smell of me mopping up a giant mess behind them. I thought to myself at that very moment how I had wished I had put her in a Rock-A-Bums diaper that evening, because even though I had heard so much about this particular brand of diaper that she was wearing, I have constantly had problems with them leaking around the legs. I have found that the Rock-A-Bums diapers have wider area between the legs and with all those extra snaps, can be adjusted to
be tighter around my daughter’s skinny legs, making them pretty much leak-proof for poop explosions! So, lesson learned, and I survived with a great apology about the smell and an extra diaper and pants to put on my stinky child. Oh the trials and tribulations of motherhood. And on top of that, when I got home to rinse the diaper with my diaper sprayer, there was so much poop everywhere that half of it ended up IN the pocket. If she were to be wearing a Rock-A-Bums diaper, that would have been no problem, because unlike all my other pocket diapers that only open on one side, the Rock-A-Bums diaper has an opening on both sides, so the nasty mess gets rinsed all the way through and can’t possibly get stuck in the bottom. Again, lesson learned! That night, after cleaning up the awful poop-splosion, I put her in the Rock-A-Bums diaper for the first time and realized how nicely they fit. She was rockin’ that diaper! I became excited to try one on my newborn after the birth!

The Surprise Gift 

One day, just a week before Christmas, a UPS driver knocked on my door unexpectedly and said, “Oh good. Just wanted to make sure you were here before I brought the heavy box up the stairs.”
No more washing diapers in the tub!
With a confused look on my face, I told him he could bring it up. A few minutes later, here he comes, holding a box half his size and teetering slowly up to our 2nd floor apartment.
Poor guy, I was so shocked I forgot to even think of giving him some kind of tip for his extra efforts! Once it was in my house and the UPS man was gone, I glanced at the label. OMG. My mother-in-law had bought us the compact portable washer I had learned about through Ruby from her Rock-A-Bums blog as a great option for apartments in which there are no washer/dryer hookups! I was so excited I literally jumped for joy. My husband and I proceeded to hook it up with ease and wash our first load of diapers without having to use tons of quarters. A few weeks later, we got a 4-tier drying rack from Ikea for $25 to sun-dry our diapers on our patio. Finally, cloth diapering with very little cost and much less effort…and just in time for our newborn to arrive! Yippee!!! 

Next up: Blog #3: The Big Day: A Home Birth to Remember Forever

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Cloth Diapering a Newborn From Day One- Meet Emma

Read on to get to know Emma as she gets ready to add another little Rock Star to her family. She will be sharing with us her experiences cloth diapering a newborn.

Meet Emma

Cloth Diapering a Newborn From Day One

Guess who's pregnant!?!
Welcome to my fascinating 2nd birth story!  My name is Emma, and I am planning a home birth this time around, and to do many things quite differently than I did with my first child.  With my first baby, now a walking, talking toddler at 20 months old, I did not start cloth diapering until about her 2nd or 3rd month of life.  This time, we are preparing to cloth diaper from the very beginning, with very low income and coin-operated laundry!  It has been a fantastic adventure so far and there have already been some great (and some not so great) surprises along the way.  Let me begin by explaining a bit about my first experiences as a pregnant and new mom, and how with the 2nd baby, we have shifted our thinking and situations to have an entirely different experience the second time through.  Just goes to show how much you can grow and learn from the first baby and how quickly you can change a difficult situation to a positive and easier one.

My first pregnancy was in Hawaii. Just before I got pregnant, I was a teacher in a low-income school and I loved it.  I had taught 3 years of kindergarten by then and had developed a solid curriculum. My husband and I (newlywed that summer after 4 years together) planned to get pregnant at the beginning of the school year, so I had prepped all those little shape cut-outs, holiday prep, etc. for the coming year to make my pregnant teaching year the easiest possible.  That summer before school started, we had a fabulous wedding and were on the way to our honeymoon when I got the call that, unfortunately, the Families for Real program had been cut and since both teachers teaching it had 30+ years of experience, I was bumped from my position, regardless of how much they wanted to keep me (union protocol).  I was to be relocated to another school a few miles away and to teach 5th grade.  Upon returning and entering my new classroom, I found it gutted.  No curriculum.  Minimum supplies.  And on top of that, on the second floor with no AC in 85 to 90 degree year-round weather.  I went home crying.  All the work I had done to make my pregnancy easy was thrown out the window.  This was going to be a very stressful year.  But I had the drive, energy, and the determination to make it happen.  Until first trimester morning-sickness kicked in.

By the time I hit 3rd trimester, I was a wreck.  I was sweating nonstop through all my clothes.  I needed a fellow teacher to watch my classroom while I peed every hour.  I starved through the morning block and then scarfed down my food and collapsed during my break on my classroom floor for a nap and to relieve the elephant ankles that were forming due to standing too long on my feet.   Every night I would stay up way too late creating the next day’s curriculum or grading papers.  Or, I would fall asleep doing them and then wake up to finish at around 3am when the heartburn woke me up again.  It was a nightmare.  But I did survive.  However, my pregnancy was anything but easy.  My placenta started calcifying for unknown reasons, my fluid levels were extremely low, and my baby turned breech just when things started getting more hectic at school.  And then, at 28 weeks, I had preterm contractions.  I had to go on unexpected bed rest, and for a teacher, this is even more stressful than teaching to the end.  My OB got me on meds to stop contractions and I begged to go back to school to prep for my long term sub and get my students’ affairs in order once the meds started doing their job and after a week of bed rest.  It was the wrong decision to make.  At 32 weeks the contractions came back, and I was on bed rest again.  Then, at 35.5 weeks pregnant, the combination of low fluid and strong contractions caused my daughter’s heart rate to drop, thus resulting in an emergency c-section, when all I had wanted was a natural drug-free birth.  Although I ended up with a wonderful healthy daughter, it was not the experience I had hoped for.  I had decided that I would not go back to teaching, to the stress that may have likely caused my daughter’s premature birth, until after my 2nd child was born.  I did not want to go through that again.  We, as a family, decided that it would be best for all of us if I took time off to raise our daughter with a good start at home, and live on minimal income until I was ready to go back to teaching. 

My husband transferred to California to finish his PhD and by the time my daughter was 2 months old, we flew back to the mainland.  Due to all the changes, we used disposables her first few months of life.  Every day we cringed at how much waste they created and how much money we were wasting on something that would be used for a few hours or less and then thrown away.  We couldn’t wait to switch to cloth, and when we finally settled down, at 3 months old, my daughter was in cloth diapers we were given or bought used from friends.  We have never regretted our decision to switch to cloth.  Now at 20 months old, my daughter is getting very close to being potty trained (one benefit of cloth: early potty training!), but we are still using cloth diapers about ½ the time.  Due to my need for teaching and the extensive research I have done on caring for different kinds of cloth diapers, I started teaching a monthly “Cloth Diapering 101” class downtown last year to help mommas of all kinds get to know their cloth diapers, or to try out different types in our “lending library” of donated cloth diapers.  There are so many options out there, and every baby seems to have different needs!  I have found it interesting how much you need to know to cloth diaper.  And then I found Rock-A-Bums diapers, which seemed to make it easy to cloth diaper without all the how-to and mumbo-jumbo that takes almost 2 hours of explaining in my class.  New moms need easy, not complicated.  Especially with a newborn!  So I had 4 diapers shipped to me to test out on my toddler, and to try as the first diaper on my soon-to-be newborn.  I can use the same diapers for both my toddler and my newborn!  How easy and simple is that?!

Stay tuned for “The Adventures of Professor X: Mom’s experiences during Baby #2’s life in the womb and immediately upon exiting!”  I will continue with the changes we have made during my 2nd pregnancy, the differences between home birth midwifery and standard OB care, a few funny stories along the way, a surprise gift, a trial run of my new diapers on my 20 month old, and ending with the birth story of my new baby, named “Professor X” until born!  Will it be a boy?  A girl?  Will I get the home birth I planned for?  Only time will tell!