Saturday, March 8, 2014

Cloth Diapering a Newborn - Baby is on the way!

On Friday morning, January 11th, I woke at 5:30 am to some strong contractions 5-10 minutes apart.  Thinking it may have been warm-up contractions that I had similarly experienced on Thursday morning, I tried to ignore them by taking a warm shower to wash off the Henna design I had re-decorated on my belly the night before since it was starting to fade.  After my shower, I got back in bed feeling refreshed, but continued to feel contractions.  At about 7 a.m. my daughter woke up and came into our room for her morning nursing session.  She latched on as usual and…WHOA.  Two very strong contractions just a few minutes apart caused me to yank her off painfully.  “I think this is it,” I said to my husband, “I think we are going to have a baby today.”  He got my daughter a cup of soy milk as I called the midwife.  Learning of my situation, she told me it would be wise to call my cousin and her wife to take my daughter for the day, as was the plan for labor.   She advised me that often labor will not progress until other children are away because the caretaking position often interferes with birthing to protect moms from doing both at once.  She told me to call when my cousin arrives and she would be at my home shortly thereafter. 
I hung up and got to work packing my daughter’s overnight bag and getting my house set up with my husband’s support in-between contractions.  He was running around like a chicken with his head cut off…starting one thing but not finishing, then wondering what to do next.  He was so excited and nervous that he even forgot to look at the detailed list telling him EXACTLY what to do, step-by-step, before the midwives arrived.  On a side note, I might mention to the midwives that an MP3 to play as soon as labor starts, repeating each step about ten times before moving on to the next would be useful for husbands such as mine who lose all sense of organization when a baby is on its way!
By 11am, my cousin was at my house helping me through the somewhat stronger contractions, my daughter had left with my cousin’s wife to a family birthday party, my midwife had arrived, and my husband was STILL running around aimlessly trying to figure out what to do next.  The midwife got to work promptly, setting up the supplies and calmly requesting items and information from my husband to keep him on task.  Slowly, he began to relax, and we all settled down for some butternut squash soup I had prepared the night before during my extreme nesting session.  Every few minutes, in-between slurps of soup, I’d have to stop and get on my elbows and knees to get through a contraction, while my husband or cousin massaged my lower back.  The poofy ottoman and the birthing ball were my best friends during early labor.  Enya played soothingly in the background.
At about 1:00, 7 ½ hours in, we found I was 3cm dilated and 90% effaced, baby’s head at +2 station, meaning it was REALLY low and my cervix was very far behind it.  To help things along, the midwife pulled the cervix gently forward during two contractions, and within 30 minutes, I was in active labor.  Although it was a bit uncomfortable, I was very glad she had made the effort to help speed things along, as my legs and arms were already starting to give! 
By 3:15pm, I was exhausted already, but had the extreme determination to keep going.  I continued to prefer being on my elbows and knees on the floor, having a much harder time getting out of the position even though my knees and elbows were getting very sore.  However, when the birth tub was mentioned, I moved to my bedroom to labor on my chest and knees while they set up the tub in the living room.  At this point, I was 5 cm dilated, and things were progressing well.  I couldn’t get comfortable anymore!  I switched positions on the bed numerous times feeling like a train had hit me every time I moved into another position.  I concentrated on my breath and meditated through the time between contractions.  Everything I had trained for went out the window during contractions except a bunch of low and loud moaning noises to keep me focused.  It felt very animalistic at this point, and I had to keep reminding myself that my body was meant to do this.  Women have been doing this since the beginning of humankind, and I kept reminding myself that no matter how intense it got, it would never be more than I could handle.  My “Mindful Birthing” class had trained me to be “non-striving” which helped a lot at this point.  In other words, I focused on the here and now, getting through each one and not concentrating on when the next contraction would come or how much longer this process would take.  I just made my way through, one step at a time, and continued thinking this way through the whole labor.
At 4:30 I was reclining at the end of the bed when I experienced some awful heartburn.  At this point, I was down to one-word sentences, and upon mentioning heartburn, my now-very-coherent husband got me some coconut shavings in milk (my go-to cure for pregnancy heartburn).  Ahh.  At 4:40pm I was guided to the birthing tub.  Double, triple, quadruple ahhhh!  Upon hitting that warm, soothing water, all my muscles sighed in instant relief and pleasure.  It was as if suddenly I was returned to the womb myself.  The horse-trough tub (never used by horses, FYI) had foam insulating pads wrapped around the rim for comfort, and the water was the perfect soothing temperature.  All my aching muscles suddenly felt numb and relieved and I soon realized why laboring in a tub is so wonderful, especially after many hours tensing up my arms and legs and rug-burning my knees and elbows!  As Yanni played in the background, my cousin turned on all the electric flickering candles and placed them around the room as the sun began to go down.  As my husband braced himself on a stool behind me, I would grab his arms and pull at every strong contraction, which were getting even more painful.  However, in-between contractions during which my husband stated, I “pulled his arms off,” I would concentrate on slowing my breath and meditating, often drifting into dreamland between contractions for a few minutes at a time.  Amidst the pressure waves, there was peace and tranquility.
At 4:50 I felt the need for something sweet, so the midwife brought me a spoonful of honey, and 3 minutes later, it all came up!  Luckily, my cousin was super-fast with a bowl and managed to catch everything I ate that morning before it hit the water.  I was very thankful for her fast reaction time!  At 5:40 p.m., my cousin relieved my husband from his own back-breaking and arm-twisting labor of holding me up during contractions, and as my cousin endured my wrath, my husband did some yoga.  It was still very peaceful in the room.  At this point, I was very happy to be doing all this in the comfort of my own home. 
At 6:00 p.m. things started getting stronger, and I had a slight urge to push the baby out, but not extremely strong, so I mentioned quietly, “I kinda feel like pushing.”  Apparently that was the cue to see if we could get things moving again, and since I hadn’t urinated in many hours, they helped me out of the tub to the bathroom to see if that would help.  Upon entrance to the bathroom another strong contraction brought me to my hands and knees.  I wasn’t able to pee no matter how hard I tried.  The midwives helped me take my wet bra off and helped me to the bed to try something new.  Again, train wreck after train wreck trying to get into a comfortable position, but the contractions began to get very close together and even stronger.  Just when I thought it couldn’t get any more intense, it did! 
At 7:25 I found my most comfortable and successful position on my back with my husband holding one leg and my cousin holding the other, both giving me loving, supporting words of encouragement each step of the way.  I never had imagined I would give birth in the traditional on-the-back manner, but it was honestly the only position I could withstand after already spending 14 hours laboring on my hands, elbows, knees, side, etc.  I began pushing, concentrating on sending the baby down and squeezing my husband’s and cousin’s hands with all my strength even when I wanted to give them a break!  At 7:39 p.m. my water broke with a strong “pop” and gush, and everything started happening quickly after that.  At 8pm I kneeled at the edge of the bed, supported by my husband as I grasped and pulled on his neck.  They could see the baby’s head!  And I could see that this position was awfully uncomfortable for both my husband and me, so I got back to the back position on the bed.  At 8:40 I was making great progress at each push, and it felt satisfying and liberating to be pushing.  Honestly, the pushing was my favorite part of the whole experience.  It felt good to bear down and give every inch of every bit of strength I had left in my body to birth my baby.  At 8:53, the baby’s head was born and he immediately started crying before being fully born!  Everyone was in awe and my husband was obviously ecstatic and so amazed by the whole experience.  At 8:55, one of the midwives guided my hands under my baby’s arms and instructed me to give one last liberating push, and the baby was born into my own arms as I lifted the new being to my chest.  It was a moment I will never forget.  The pain instantly made way for pleasure, love, and happiness.  The room was suddenly filled with an otherworldly ecstatic joy emitting from every being in the room.  It was indescribable, the feeling I could tell we all had at that moment. 
After I had calmed the baby’s cries, I asked if it was a boy or girl.  I had already made a guess based on the baby’s face, but wasn’t certain, since as soon as I lifted the baby, the midwife had covered it with a receiving blanket.  They looked around at each other and one of the midwives said, “We don’t know yet.  Why don’t you find out yourself?”  How satisfying it was to be able to reach down myself and say, “I feel balls!  It’s a BOY!”
After the placenta was born, my daughter came back with my cousin’s wife and mother-in-law to meet the baby.  She was so happy.  She kept saying, “baby” and pointing to all his features, naming them in turn.  “Ears, nose, mouth, eyes…”  She couldn’t stop looking at him.  It was very sweet!  We then had a toast with champagne and sparkling cider (my husband even put sparkling cider in my daughter’s sippy cup so she could toast, too…her first bubbly drink ever) to a healthy baby boy and a wonderful home birth, and my midwives came in with a plate filled with bananas, cheese and crackers, and chocolate chips with a candle in the middle as they sang Happy Birth-day to me and my new son.  It was the most joyous moment of my life. 
After the umbilical cord was cut by my husband at 9:40 p.m., we put him in his first diaper…a Rock-A-Bums diaper in bright red, of course!  After that, he was weighed, and the newborn exam was given.  He was perfect in every way.  A ten on all apgars, 8 pounds even, and 19 5/8” long.  Throughout my labor, my midwives monitored his heartbeat and were pleased to find that throughout the entire process, there were never any decels, which can be common during pushing.  The little man is big and strong! 
Within an hour he was nursing well, and when my milk came in a few days later, he was nursing like a champ.  My daughter adjusted very well to the new baby, often wanting to hold him and share nursing time with him, patting him on the head or holding his hand while they both nursed.  Such a loving experience for both of my kids, and for me as well!  The midwives visited me again at day 1, day 3, day 5, and every week thereafter, checking on me and the baby and answering any and all questions, taking care of things such as the newborn exam and birth records for the state, and getting some lovely footprints on a home-birth certificate as a keepsake.  He has yet to visit a doctor’s office and I am happy to not have to take him to one yet.   The home-birth experience is by far one of the best decisions I have ever made. 
 
CLOTH DIAPERING A NEWBORN FROM THE START:  MUCH MORE CONVENIENT AND ECONOMICAL
With a newborn, we go through way more diapers than a toddler, as expected. We have found that a wash every morning, and hang-drying diapers on our Ikea rack on the patio to be dry by evening, is the best situation for us.  My husband’s new daily morning job is starting a load of diapers and emptying the dishwasher, which makes the rest of my day go by smoothly while he is at school.  My daughter loves to help me unload the washer and hang the laundry each morning.  Since we have had the washer, our utility cost have gone up…bear with me here…TWO dollars!!!  That’s less than the cost of a single wash at the laundry room!  It has cost only two dollars for probably about 5-7 loads of diapers a week and 3 loads of laundry a week for the past 3 weeks.  The portable washer was such a great gift!  Now, compare washing a load daily IN MY OWN APARTMENT to the hassle of going to the store to buy disposables every week and that’s reason in itself to cloth diaper.  When my daughter was born, buying diapers weekly was such a hassle.  And then add new daddy with baby to the mix, and you get the credit card left at the store and an extra trip back to the store to get it (yes, this really happened)!  If that’s not enough reason to cloth diaper, add the cost of disposables and your own LARGE corner of the landfill and you will see my point.  Diapers should be changed as soon as they are wet if possible, to prevent irritation and rashes for baby.  This means at least 10-12 diapers (or more) each day for a while.  That’s a whole trash can of diapers OR a small load of laundry each day.  Which would you prefer?



 
With Rock-A-Bums diapers, we also have the ease of quick changes of diaper inserts at night-time (so easy and simple so we can get to sleep again faster), and the ability to use them on both our newborn and our toddler.  Here’s a little photo-shoot of my kids rockin’ their one-size Rock-A-Bums diapers!  It is amazing how well the same diaper will fit an 8-pounder and an almost 30-pounder!

I am happy to announce that everything is going phenomenally so far, and that my daughter is well on her way to being completely out of diapers, thanks to the cloth experience.  It’s all gone quite smoothly, aside from the first day on my own with two kiddos, but any mother of two will have those days, right?!  Here’s a glimpse into that first interesting day:

First I hear the all-too-common squirts coming from my son’s bottom. I wait about 5 minutes before changing him and then bring him to the changing table. As I am changing him, my daughter runs to go to her own potty to pee. As soon as I get his diaper off, my son surprises me with projectile breast-milk poo, squirting yellow goo all over the front of my shirt, himself, and the floor while spitting up milk all over his shirt at the same time. I get him in a new diaper and cleaned up and then help my daughter pour her pee in the big potty. Then the doorbell rings and I answer, with my poop stained tank top on of course...it's the maintenance man and some other guy to check the fire sprinklers. I ask him to wait a couple minutes while I put undies on my daughter. Oh man, talk about an intense 10 minutes!!!

Ah, the joys of being a mother of two!  Let the adventures begin!