Hello and welcome to my blog! This blog is as much of an experiment for me as attempting a natural childbirth is. I'll be posting reviews on books I read, experiences I have while attempting to green our lives a bit more, and sometimes, general nonsense I come up with! Please feel free to comment and share information!

I look forward to hopefully making it through this experience with my own interesting story about giving birth naturally!


Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way: A Book Review

If it were possible for two books to be complete polar opposites, that is what Your Best Birth and Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way would be. 

I just finished reading Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon. The best thing I can say about it, is the picture on the cover is cute. 

Let's just start with the format. Not only is printing a landscape orientated book more expensive, but reading it is more annoying. Especially if you are a mass transit commuter used to be stuffed in between two other people with no elbow room. Sure, this may not seem like an important reason not to read a book, and it isn't, but I just wanted to mention how annoying it was. 

My main problem with this book, it is severely out of date--as anyone who skims through it and looks at the pictures can tell you. It doesn't really matter that the pictures were obviously taken in the 70's, but some of the information is from then as well... and frankly, things have changed in the last 35 years!There is actually a section regarding the dangers of X-Rays for pregnant women. If anyone has been to get an X-Ray in the last 20 years, and the technician didn't ask you, "Are you, or is there a possibility that you may be, pregnant?" you should have turned around and walked out. 

There is an entire chapter bashing Lamaze. Now, I am not a childbirth method expert, so I don't know if Lamaze is any good, or better or worse than other methods, but why the mud slinging? 

Sexuality and Birth--that is all I am going to say about that. 

Now, this isn't really an important thing either, but one I felt needed to be mentioned. Why are the "best coaches" husbands? What if you aren't married, but your coach is your partner--same sex or otherwise. Just because you don't have a husband, doesn't mean you need to HIRE a coach! 

There is information on "prepping" as well. I'm sorry, but I know many people who have had babies, and the only ones who were prepped in any way had c-sections, so naturally they were swabbed with antiseptic to make sure any germs were not near the incision site. 

So, was there anything good about the book?
Yes, it did have some interesting information. 

I liked the "Emotional Roadmap of Labor." While the author had previously broken down the stages of labor, which you can read about in any book and will learn about in any class, there was an additional section which mapped our the different stages of labor based on what most women would be feeling in that stage. I found it a very interesting way to look at labor--from the point of view of the woman and not what her body was doing or "where she was."

Some of the breathing and relaxation exercises were good as well. Definitely something that can be added to my repertoire of skills to take with me into the delivery room. Although, the author was very rigid about their implementation, when and where and how. 

All in all, I found the book to be overly preachy about natural childbirth, completely out of date in much of its information and thought process, and yes, the out of date images of naked women in labor...not needed. I found myself trying to cover them in the subway from the nosy gaze of my neighbors. 

While there was some interesting information--most of what was useful could be found in any book on labor and delivery. If you still want to check it out, try the library and save yourself the $20 (see... landscape printing is more expensive so the list price is as well).  


Your Best Birth: a Book Review

So, now that I have dedicated myself to this path of a natural and intervention free birth, I have started reading books like a maniac. 

There is one book I was trying not to read. Naturally, it ended up being the best one I have read so far. But really, who would have though Rikki Lake could write a fabulous, motivational and educational book about childbirth. I mean really!!

When I was pregnant with Silas, I had heard in my "Enriched Lamaze" class (pause to laugh at the memory of what a joke that class was) at the hospital that Rikki Lake had made a movie about childbirth and it was a MUST see. Some of the women were talking about The Business of Being Born, and I just cynically rolled my eyes at them and said, "where do I sign up for an epidural? is it possible to get 2, you know, just in case?"

I still haven't seen it. But, after reading their book, Your Best Birth, am seriously considering doing the one thing I said I would never do, and watch a movie about childbirth. Of course, I also said I would never do a natural childbirth either, and here I am training and preparing for that as well. 

What else will I end up doing I said I never would? Hmm...

But, I digress. 

Your Best Birth is thus far, the best book I have read on natural childbirth. It starts out with a foreword (which I normally don't read but did this time), by the head of obstetrics at St.Luke's Roosevelt Hospital in NYC. Which, just so happens to be the very same hospital where I had Silas and where I will be giving birth, hopefully in the birthing center, again this time around.  Then it continued on with the authors, Rikki Lake (yeah, I still kind of laugh at that, but if Dolly Parton is an intelligent woman, a trashy talk show host can be as well, right?) and Abby Epstein share their birth stories. In detail. 

I think the fact that they are not doctors, they are not people who came up with the "next best" childbirth method. They are just two women, who had birth experiences that made them believe that all women need to be better informed regarding their choices in childbirth. Do they advocate more for a natural, intervention free birth. Yes, absolutely. Are they preachy about it? Nope, not at all!

They say that for some women, epidurals and c-sections are needed and wanted and that does not make them worse mothers than those who labor and birth naturally. They really do drive home the point that this is about knowledge. The better informed you are about your choices, the better your birth experience will be. Because lets face it, sometimes interventions are necessary, but if you are informed about your choices ahead of time, you can still maintain some control over what is happening to you. 

They give lists of great questions to ask your doctor, midwife, the teacher at your birth class, the hospital staff during your tour, etc. And, these are great questions--that made me think of even more on my own. And, the book also gave me the confidence to ask all of these questions.

Their sections of "Birth Goddesses", were so inspiring without being annoyingly inspirational. Huh? I just mean that these were real women, just telling their birth stories, not some inspirational or motivational poster with a picture of a humpback whale and some cheesy quote. You could feel their emotions as the stories were being told. It was just... real.

Plus, and I have to emphasize this, they keep it light. There were lines that made me laugh out loud. Not in the same way I did when I read "Belly Laughs" by Jenny McCarthy, but in a way that still solicited a few glances in my direction on the subway!

Now, scare tactics works both ways. Doctors and hospital try to scare us with fancy language we don't understand saying it will be better for baby and us if... and natural childbirth advocates scare you with statistics about how much more dangerous c-sections are than vaginal deliveries, etc. But, this book provides both. They give you the statistics and reasons for natural childbirth, while also giving you the very valid reasons why one might want or need an epidural or c-section.  It is fairly well balanced in that sense. 

Bottom line: If you are expecting, even if this isn't your first, read this book. If you know someone who is expecting, don't buy them "The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy", but them this book. 

I read so many books about pregnancy when I was pregnant with Silas, and they all basically said the same thing in different words. And every single one of them glossed over the actual labor and delivery portion of the program, which, isn't that what pregnancy is all leading to and about?? This time around, I am making smarter decision and reading about labor and delivery instead of pregnancy. 

Now, I need to run and add The Business of Being Born to my Netflix queue.


Gro Baby Cloth and Hybrid Diapers...

I have been experimenting with cloth and hybrid diapers lately. I used to use gDiapers, with the flushable inserts, not cloth, and we just had too many leaks after awhile. Poops were messy to clean up and always got on the liner if not the cloth gPant. Basically, we gave it over a year, but in the end, they just failed for us. It could have been us, not the diapers--so if you are thinking of trying gDiapers, don't let this discourage you. Lots of people love them. 

I bought a stash of Gro Baby diapers recently. I planned on mostly using the Biosoakers--Gro Baby's flushable/compostable insert--but bought some of the organic cotton soaker pads and boosters as well. I really would like to give cloth diapering a try, especially for this new baby on the way. 

We have had really good success with the biosoakers. A couple of leaks--usually caused by a long period of time in between diaper changes--3 hours or so. Silas is, as I mentioned, a camel and drinks a lot of fluids... so he is a heavy and frequent wetter. Even more traditional disposables have not held up to my little man. 

The cloth experiment isn't going so well and if there is anyone out there with Gro Baby experience, I could use some suggestions. The main problem seems to be that the Soaker pad gets so scrunched up in between his legs, that even if it could contain more, it won't because he is basically urinating on the cover. I did have a few successful diaper changes, but I watched him closely. How much water has he been drinking? How long has it been since I put this diaper on? 

In terms of actually changing them--well--they are super easy! Whether with the biosoaker or the cloth soaker pad. When the diaper doesn't leak--I am in love! I don't mind handling the used soaker pads to put them in the wet bag at all. Since Silas is a little older, his bowel movements are a bit more regular. So, I have been sure to either use a biosoaker or put a flushable liner over the cloth soaker pad to save me the trouble of having to spray the poopy off the cloth before putting it in the wet bag. 

I guess my biggest concern is that I am going to have to change or check his diaper every hour because of the scrunching issue. I really really want the Gro Baby diapers to work (I mean the cloth inserts), because it would be great to save some $$ on diapers with baby #2. We are hoping Silas is ready to potty train soon. So, please please, if you have Gro Baby Cloth diapering experience and had this same issue and resolved it, drop me a comment! Or, even if you didn't have the issue but think you know how I can resolve it, drop me a comment!


A foray into cloth diapering

When I was pregnant with Silas in 2008, I started to make lots of changes in our lives. I got rid of all of our chemical cleaners--not only were they not safe for me to use during pregnancy, when my husband used them, the fumes made me so sick, I had to sit in our bedroom with the door closed and the window open for hours until I couldn't smell it anymore. I replaced them with non-toxic all natural cleaners. 

I registered for 7th Generation diapers (or "wheat diapers" as my sister "lovingly" refers to them) . I bought an assortment of organic clothes and other organic baby items and started buying organic food.

My biggest obsession, and serious leap into "greendom", was my desire to try out gDiapers. My husband looked at me like I was crazy, then lovingly said, "OK honey, if you want to try them, I will give them a try". My sister just told me I was crazy and I should just use the pampers that she does--they hold hours worth of urine! She told me--and I was thinking... and why is that a good thing?

See, the thing is, when I was in high school I was basically a "dirty crunchy hippie". I wore my birks in the winter with wool socks (much to my mother's chagrin), had looong, unruly curly hair (actually, that hasn't changed), listened to the Dead and Phish (also hasn't changed). But, somewhere between heading up north to the College of the Holy Cross (holy conservative for a little hippy like me), moving to NYC and discovering you could shop online, I lost my way a bit. I lost... myself a little. I mean, I was green before green was a saying... but then I bowed to pressures and conformed and all that other jazz.

The minute that little stick had two lines though, it was like I was sucked into a time machine and everything I used to care about came rushing back to me.

Ok so... off topic there a bit.

gDiapers were basically a failed experiment. We had a good run, I tried to continue using them for over a year and they just weren't working for us. I don't know if it was human error in putting them on, or the diapers themselves, (though most people love them), but we had a TON of leaks and Silas was being diapered in sposies more and more often. Sure, I bought as earth friendly a sposie as possible. We also left 7th Gen in the dust--hubby wasn't a fan--and switched to Huggies Pure and Natural. We've been using those for a while now and they have been great. But, even they are starting to fail the leak tests! Silas is like a camel with his water--takes after me in that respect--so he is a very heavy wetter.

Recently, a friend of mine sent me a link to Babysteals.com, their steal of the day was Gro baby diapers. A Hybrid and Cloth diaper in one. Huh. Interesting... tell me more.

The outer shell is water proof and has a quick dry mesh lining. Nice, only one piece! gDiapers had two pieces (not including the actual absorbent part). You could buy either a flushable/compostable/biodegradable insert that had sticky tabs so it stayed in place in the liner, or a snap in Organic Cotton "Soaker" Pad. I was incredibly intrigued. I missed the steal on babysteals.com, but continued googling my little heart out regarding Gro Babies. Logging into the gDiapers group on yahoo and asking those fabulous ladies for their opinions.

I finally took the plunge and ordered some. It was the perfect time, the company was changing its branding from Gro Baby to Gro Via... so everything Gro baby was on sale everywhere!

So far, I am in love. They go on just like disposables, and the outer shell is soft and comfortable for Silas plus super trim (for a Cloth Diaper). You can't even tell the difference when he has one on as opposed to a sposie. The biosoakers really contain a LOT without leaking. and the Shells, if they don't get saturated, can be used more than once!

Yesterday I received my second shipment of Gro Baby diapers from Bumrite Diapers. This time I ordered the "Try it" cloth diapering kits instead of the biosoakers. (Quick aside, I love Bumrite Diapers! They have awesome customer service and are incredibly helpful!). So, I have a couple more washes to do, since you need to wash and dry the cloth soaker several times before using them... and then I experiment with cloth diapering. My husband doesn't technically know I am doing this yet. I figure I will try it out before springing it on him.

Although I have technically used cloth diapers before, it was only ever at night, under a gDiaper flushie to create extra absorbency for my little camel. Of course, they still leak, but not as much! But, the cloth insert and flushie were not meant to be used with any of the diaper covers I had used... so I think I will have much more "leak proof" success with a diaper system created to work together!

I will definitely post again regarding my success and experiences with the Gro baby system. Of course, now that they have changed to Gro-Via, perhaps I should have waited and bought the new ones... they actually sound pretty cool. The new cloth soakers has a water resistant back to prevent moisture from seeping from the back of the cloth soaker to the shell... which helps create less laundering of the shells which extends their life. I am sure I will break down and buy some of those as well if my Gro Baby experiments are successful.

Hey Gro-Via--sending out any trial packages for us willing to review and blog about your new product??? If so... I'll be a guinea pig reviewer!

Alex, the trainer Goddess

Last night was my first night at the gym since Friday. This past weekend I went to my parents with Silas for Mother's Day so didn't really get any exercise in. Monday and Tuesday this week, hubby had to work late, so I didn't wake him up until 7:30 and by then, it isn't worth getting to the gym.

But, last night, I had my weekly training appointment with Alex, and I hate to miss those. Luckily, hubby didn't have to work late or anything so, even though he wasn't feeling well--why are all men such wimps when they have a little sniffle--he got up when I got home from work so I could head to the gym.

Even though I was rushing to get to the gym because I got home a little later than usual and had some things to take care of before heading out, I managed to get in an excellent run on the treadmill. Pushed it to 40 minutes, which I normally don't do on training night, but since I hadn't exercised since Friday night, I wanted to get a little extra in.

After that, training with Alex.
Alex is awesome. I love her. People can say that seeing a personal trainer is a waste of money all they want, but it is definitely not true. Especially since I am pregnant, seeing a trainer is even more important to make sure I am doing the right types of exercise and doing them properly! I have become so strong in the last couple of months since I started seeing Alex... I haven't felt this good in a long time--and to feel this way when I am 27 weeks pregnant... well... it just says a lot for the whole "personal trainer" profession. I rarely even have back pain--which I used to have chronically (even when I wasn't pregnant!)

Last night was an "upper body" fiesta apparently! But, good old Alex will NOT let me escape without plenty of lower body as well... she certainly likes to spice up my life!
  • Hip bends with a full arm raise using one of the pully machine things (and yes, that is its technical name), on 10 lbs. 3 sets each side; 15 reps, 12 reps, 10 reps
  • Side lunges with a 5 lb weight in opposite hand. 3 sets each side; 15 reps, 12 reps, 10 reps
  • Squats with a front arm raise, 3 lb weights. 3 sets; 15 reps, 12 reps, 12 reps
  • Sitting on a stability ball, arm pulls (using the pully machine things) set at 10 lbs, arms fully extended up, brought down and straight back...wowzer! 3 sets; 15 reps, 12 reps, 10 reps

I wish I actually knew what those machines are called, but they are great! You can do so many different exercises with one machine and the motion is so fluid, you almost don't feel like you are pulling weights at all.

Still, I am a bit sore today, but not too bad. It is a good thing anyway since I don't know when I will be able to make it to the gym again. Hubby has to work late again tonight, tomorrow night I have my class at the hospital--I have to take 2 Birthing Center classes (which are given back to back on one night, yay!) and the weekend, as always, is jam-packed with a million things to be done. I have NO idea how I am going to get it all in. Somehow, I always manage...


"Training" for Natural Childbirth

I said yesterday that I was in training. Some people get what I mean when I say that, others look at me like I just landed from Mars, or my head spun around and they are waiting for me to spew split-pea soup.

I personally, don't think it is that difficult to comprehend.

Would you, if you were not a regular long distance runner, go out and run a Marathon without training? What about an Iron Man or a Triathlon? Probably not. I mean, technically, you may be able to do the Marathon, but you would most likely end up with some serious injuries and take days if not weeks to recover.

Anyone who has been through childbirth, no matter what type of birth you had, knows that childbirth is a Marathon. Actually, for some people, childbirth ends up being more like a Marathon, Iron Man and Triathlon combined. Even if you wind up with a Cesarean Delivery, it still takes awhile to recover (not including the time it takes for your stitches to heal).

And yet, many women go out and give birth without being physically ready for the challenge. Yes, our bodies are MADE to birth babies. That is not what I am talking about. Our bodies will give and do all they are supposed to do, but it doesn't mean they are strong enough or you are strong enough to not be completely exhausted and knackered and worn out and beat after 24 hours of labor--and wait... then its time to push!!!

That was me when I gave birth to Silas. I was a good 30lbs overweight and hadn't step foot in a gym in about 10 or 15 years. I also didn't do anything else to keep myself physically fit. Subway steps were a daily torture for me. Guess what? Delivering Silas was incredibly difficult for me. My mother confessed to me recently that she was ready to bust into the delivery room and demand they give me a C-section! She had been with me basically since I got to the hospital, but she and my father were ushered out into the hall when it came time to push... and 2 1/2 hours later, my father was probably holding her back. I could actually hear her out in the hallway encouraging me when I was screaming that I couldn't do it anymore. Yes, I had an epidural. But I was exhausted! I had a 100.6 degree fever, I hadn't slept since the night BEFORE I went into labor (so in oh 36-48 hours)...

I actually started my journey to get fit and lose the extra 35 lbs last summer. I wasn't even thinking about getting pregnant. I was just sick of hating the way I looked and really did not want to go up yet another size in clothes. With the help of a fabulous free website called Spark People, I managed to lose 25 lbs and gain the knowledge and confidence that I could be healthy and fit.

So, here I am now, 27 weeks pregnant, and training for my own personal Iron Man.

My training schedule? Well, it has a lot of flexibility in it. My husband works nights and I have a 2 yr old at home who I want to spend time with... so sometimes, I need to rearrange things.

My goal every week is to:
1. Get in some Cardio every day. Even if it is just the 1 mile walk home from the subway.
2. Make it to my training appointment every week at the gym
3. Do my Strength Training exercises at least one other time each week
4. Try to run 3 Miles at least twice a week

Recently I have been trying to extend my runs, but like I said, my time is limited. I consider myself lucky if I manage to make it to the gym more than twice a week... I try to be grateful for what time I get in.

But, I feel stronger, and more able. My trainer has stepped up our workouts and I am feeling it in my muscles again. I find I am able to run much longer than 30 minutes on the treadmill without even realizing I have done it.

I know that in 13 weeks or so... my body will be more than ready for natural childbirth. I just need to remember to work on getting my mind and emotions ready as well!


I have a confession to make...

I have a confession to make. I am a wimp. Seriously. It is almost a joke in my family. I will do just about anything to avoid pain; like, not opening the mail by hand in case I get a paper cut.

When I found out I was pregnant with my son, Silas, I started interviewing doctors. My "lady doctor" at the time wasn't an OB, so I had to find someone new. When I finally found, through the recommendation of a friend, the wonderful and fabulous Dr. Wong, the first thing I said to her in our first meeting was: "I want as many epidurals as you can give me." As if there is an option for more than one.

Any woman who has ever been pregnant has faced a number of fears the minute she sees those two pink lines on the stick she just peed on. Are we really ready for this? Will I be a good mother? Are we financially stable enough to have kids? While I had any number of those regular fears, I had two looming over me that seriously weighed me down. PAIN and SURGERY! I did not want to deal with the pain of childbirth, and I really really did not want to end up with a C-section.

Well, needless to say since I was expecting something terrible and painful, that is exactly what I experienced. I didn't end up with a C-section, probably only because I begged my doctor constantly and repeatedly throughout our 9 months of together not to give me a C-section unless the life of the baby depended on it. So, even after pushing for 2 1/2 hours, I managed to finally birth my beautiful son through the most traditional route.

When I found out I was pregnant again right before Christmas, I naturally assumed I would be getting an epidural again. It wasn't even a conscious decision, just a given. This time around though, I wasn't overweight and out of shape, hopefully, labor and delivery would be easier.

I joined a gym and started seeing a personal trainer once a week. Several weeks into our training sessions, we were talking about my goals and what I really wanted to accomplish and I blurted out, "I want to be ready for a natural childbirth."

HUH? Where the hell did that come from? Seriously. I had not for one moment before that considered natural childbirth as an option for me. Pain. oh no. Why the hell would I do that to myself?!! But, there it was. The big fat pink elephant in the room that had landed squarely on my head.

Alex, my trainer, looked at me and said, "That is so amazing. And if you keep doing everything you're doing, you will be as strong enough for anything."

After that, I mentioned it to my husband. He choked on a bite of whatever it was he was eating and looked at me like I was an evil doppelganger.

"Um, ok. I think you can do it babe; if you think you can, we'll do this in the birthing center."

Here I am now, 27 weeks pregnant, and in training for natural childbirth in a birthing center.

What do I mean by "in training"? Stay tuned... that is what this experiment is all about.

first you decide what you've gotta do then you go out and do it" Hour follows Hour; Ani DiFranco