Sunday Surf – Adjusting to a New Normal

Sunday Surf with Authentic Parenting and Hobo MamaI’m joining Authentic Parenting and Hobo Mama for Sunday Surf. Share your best reading of the week, and link up your post at either blog!

For more great reading, visit Hobo Mama or Authentic Parenting for the latest Sunday Surf and linky.

Happy Surfing!

Banana is 3 weeks and 3 days old! Wow time is flying. He’s already looking and acting less like a newborn and more like a baby.

And as a family we’re getting back into our routines. Every morning my husband drops Peanut off at school (after either I get her ready or he does if I’ve had a rough night with Banana and need to sleep more). Banana usually sleeps all morning, either on me or in the swing, and I play with Twig and get her ready. Then at 11am we go pick up Peanut from school, spend some time at the park or running errands or just hanging out at home. Lunch around 1-1:30, then naptime (thankfully Twig started napping again) and quiet time for the girls, Banana usually naps here too (even sometimes in the bed with Twig for a while). Usually Peanut gets some mama time after she finishes quiet time (an hour) and before Twig wakes up from her nap (usually 2 hours) and we read books, play games, and do her homework. Then more playing and daddy comes home at five, we eat dinner and hang out and/or watch a show as a family. Obviously weekends are different, but it still follows the general formula.

The adjustment is going much better this time than when Twig was born. I’m sure that’s in large part my lack of postpartum depression, which is still baffling to me. I’ve had a lot better support this time around, especially from my husband and in-laws. I’ve still felt a little bit overwhelmed and a few times I’ve gotten that barely keeping my head above water feeling, but I think that’s normal for this time period. I’ve also been getting a decent amount of sleep most nights (yay for breastfeeding and co-sleeping!), though Banana having a minor cold through a wrench in the works for the last few days. Even then it hasn’t been terrible. Anyway, on to the surf!

The magic way I get crabby evening baby to sleep.

I got bangs!

Peanut just adores him.

25 Ways To Ask Your Kids “So how was school today?” Without Asking them “So how was school today?” at Simple Simon and Company. We’ve been using some of these and it’s working really well. I’m still getting used to Peanut being in a school that doesn’t have a one way mirror window. We especially like to use #1 thus far.

13 Great Things to Say to a Sleep Deprived Parent at Belly Baby. This list is great! I love that it has so many positive reinforcement messages for the parents. When parents, especially first time parents, are constantly told that their baby shouldn’t need to be held so much/needs to stop using mom as a pacifier/should already be sleeping through the night it undermines the parents’ natural instincts. Telling someone how wonderful and happy their baby is and how they’re doing a great job can make all the difference.

5 Things Not To Say To A Woman With Postpartum Depression — And What To Say Instead at The Huffington Post. Like I said, I’m not suffering from postpartum depression this time (yet. knock on wood), but this is great information to have for anyone who is around a mom who does have PPD (which is likely you, as something like 10% of moms have it). I especially like the one about how your symptoms are not you, but just your symptoms. I think it would have been nice to hear some of these things after Twig was born (and thankfully I didn’t hear any of the bad ones!).

And a funny little video Things You Can’t Do When You’re Not a Toddler.

Observing Fertility Signs to Conceive

Today’s post is a Guest Post from Novelette Simonds, who runs a site called Fertility Haven. If you’re looking to get pregnant, or just learn more about your fertility, I’d definitely check it out! 

Scrambled EggI was sitting enjoying a nice breakfast of scrambled eggs, when a strange thought suddenly hit me, I thought, I wish we women were like hens. Why would something like that occur to me? Probably because I had yet again heard another woman express disbelief at learning that women do not constantly produce fresh eggs and that we are born as little girls with all the eggs we will ever have and there’s no chance of making a fresh batch, absolutely no chance. That means your eggs are always as old as you are. I remembered that seven years ago when I started studying fertility, this one left me reeling. I hadn’t found Mr. Right yet and was in my mid-twenties and busy doing my second degree and working. I didn’t have motherhood in mind for at least another five years, it certainly was not the happiest fertility fact I had encountered. The truth is we have limited eggs and they age with us, by the age of thirty about ninety percent of them will have been used up or deteriorated. Fortunately in the early thirties most women still have a good set even if there are ten percent left, so they have babies just fine but it becomes harder as you get further on into the thirties. It is difficult to believe that with all the advances in modern science, they still haven’t figured out how to prevent our eggs from deteriorating.

On a happier note, here is an interesting fact, all of us were once inside our grandmother’s tummy. How is that possible? Well your mother had all her eggs in her ovaries while she was in-utero, which means half of you was inside her, while she was inside your grandmother. Amazing!

I think it’s time though that we dispel one fertility myth that still exists today about when women ovulate. Many people still believe that a woman can ovulate at anytime in her cycle and that women are constantly ovulating and popping eggs out, this is simply not the case, ovulation happens once per cycle and that’s it, if you don’t catch the fertile window then you have missed your opportunity to conceive that cycle. The fertile window begins about five days before ovulation and lasts about one day after ovulation has occurred.

I remember the first time I told my cousin that I was trying to get pregnant, she told me that I should get an ovulation predictor kit. I never did buy one, I have always preferred more natural methods. I began watching my cervical mucus instead. I will confess here, that I don’t consider it to be the most pleasant of activities to perform on a daily basis but I did it anyway because it is the best way to find out whether or not it is baby making time. A check of the seat of the underwear usually does the trick or using a piece of tissue to check whenever you use the bathroom is always better or if you are brave enough, trim your nails, squat and just reach in with two fingers and see what’s happening by pulling some fluid off the cervix. Cervical mucus is of course the natural fluid that your cervix begins to excrete after your period ends, it usually starts off sticky or pasty, a bit like paper glue then moves on to being lotiony or milky, in the final phase it becomes eggwhite, this is prime baby making fluid. I remember running out of the bathroom and screaming, “Eggwhite! Eggwhite! Eggwhite!” to my spouse and he would say, “That’s so gross, could you just say it’s babymaking time, please.” The key to getting pregnant then is recognizing the fertile window, once you see lotiony or milky fluid it time to start trying to conceive and when egg white hits then you know that an egg is about to pop. The reason that you should start even before you notice eggwhite mucus is because sperm can survive for up to five days, so in case you miss your eggwhite days you still have a chance at conceiving. You should always keep in mind though that there is only a twenty five percent chance to conceive every month, so don’t let those negative tests turn you off, unless you have been trying for a year, then medical intervention should be sought but otherwise, just keep at it! After a baby making session try lying flat on your back for at least fifteen minutes, it has been found to help women having artificial insemination conceive, so I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t help those of us going about it the natural way as well.

Remember too to look out for secondary fertility signs, such as dull achiness in the area of the ovary as well as a sharp pain, this is often a sign of impending ovulation and serves as a backup for confirming cervical mucus changes.

Whether you are trying to conceive that first, second, third or whichever number child. Cervical mucus observation as well as observation of secondary fertility signs is always the most effective and most reliable method of predicting ovulation, so you have the best chance of conceiving.

Site logoNovelette Simmonds is the founder of Fertility Haven, the website provides comprehensive information about fertility, as well as your pregnancy and childbirth visit the site and take control of your reproductive health today.

Too Big to Be Born

My big newborn. 9 lbs 8 oz

My big newborn. 9 lbs 8 oz

As you all know, Twig was a big baby. Along with the other myriad of questions that are asked about a new baby, of course, was “How big was she?” Before Twig was born, I didn’t know that my answer of “Nine and a half pounds.” would open a whole new can of worms. The initial shock and awe was followed by “Was it natural?” (in this case meaning vaginally, as opposed to drug-free) and I’d follow with “Yeah, she was born at home.”

Cue dropped jaw.

As if I hadn’t already shocked them enough with my ability to push an above-average-sized child out of my loins. Now I’ve blow their mind with the fact that I not only did it without pain medication, but outside of a hospital.

I remember my husband saying, within a day of Twig’s birth, that we were proof that big babies can still be born vaginally. And we’re not the only ones. Shortly before Twig was born, I found my midwife’s office on Facebook and followed them. They post cute little birth announcements (anonymous of course) with something special about that baby or situation. Congratulating a mom who had a rough labor, adoring a full head of hair, that sort of thing. Often, especially with big babies, the weight is mentioned. And the shocker for me is that they catch big babies pretty frequently. Looking over the past few months on their page, it seems to be about 2 a month on average. Presuming they’re not the only people in the world who deliver babies, that makes for a lot of big babies! Or does it?

Why is it such a rare thing for big babies to be born when it’s not that rare at my midwife’s office? One could make an argument that by random chance, they have a lot of big babies born. Seems unlikely. Maybe it’s more in their ability to leave a baby alone. Most moms that I know start talking induction the second they hit 37 weeks and their doctors are the same. Even with the hospital midwives I had while I was pregnant with Peanut, they told me they wouldn’t let me go past 41 weeks, even though 42 is considered “safe” by most and beyond that is even safe so long as baby is still thriving. This study calls 42+ weeks “post-term” (rather than the 40 weeks that people seem to think) and says that 5-10% of all pregnancies continue to that point. Yes, risks increase at that point, but monitoring a pregnancy is often all that’s necessary.

So let’s assume you have a baby who is ready to be born at 41 weeks, which is actually pretty average (41 weeks 1 day for first time moms, 40 weeks 5 days for further pregnancies). You don’t know that, of course, and are induced at 39 weeks, which is also pretty normal. That’s two full weeks before that baby was ready to come out. Since babies gain about a half of a pound a week, that’s a full pound bigger than they would have been if they would have been allowed to choose their own birthday, not to mention all of the other development they would have gotten in the womb. So maybe it’s not that uncommon to have a big baby, we’re just not giving them the time they need to get that big.

Then there’s the story I’ve heard from multiple moms that their doctor tells them, after an ultrasound late in the pregnancy, that they’re going to have to have a c-section because their baby is too big. First, ultrasounds can be off by as much as 2 lbs at the end of pregnancy, so that supposed 10 lb baby could really be 8 or 12. There’s no way to tell.

And let’s say that baby really is a 10 pounder. Or even a 12 pounder. Baring medical complications like gestational diabetes, why would your body make a baby that was too big to actually exit? The answer is that it wouldn’t. If this was something that routinely happened, as many doctors seem to think that it does, we would not have survived as a species.

So is there such thing as a baby that’s too big to be born? Under normal circumstances, I firmly believe that there is not. So if you need to have an ultrasound at the end of pregnancy, try to ignore comments about weight in general. You can do this. You can birth a baby. Trust me, your body was made for it. 

Is it a boy or a girl?

Walking around with a big pregnant belly, the two questions you’re guaranteed to be asked are 1. When you’re due, and 2. The sex of the baby. I know that I disappointed many-a stranger by giving such a generalized answer as “January” to the first question and I baffled many-a stranger by saying that we weren’t finding out the sex. Heck, I probably baffled many non-strangers too.

Some would simply be amazed. In awe that I could just let a baby cook in me without figuring out which type of genitalia it possessed. Some told me that they wish they could have not found out, but they were too weak or too interested or someone around them really, really, really wanted to know. Though really, it’s the passive position to not find out since you take action to find out. Some told me that they just had to know the sex of their babies so they could prepare or connect or Just. Know.

Personally, I’ve been on both sides of the coin. With Peanut, I found out around 19 weeks that she was a girl, even though my husband didn’t want to find out. He said he’d prefer not and I agreed, but then when it came down to the ultrasound I made a quick decision to know. With Twig, I knew right off the bat that I just didn’t want to know at all. Even if we’d had an ultrasound, I would have been very clear that they were not to tell us the sex of the baby.

So why was I so adamant about it this time around? Put simply: expectations.

When you find out what sex your baby is, you’re likely going to tell those around you. As I stated above, even strangers are dying to know whether that little bundle of joy is full of ovaries or testes. Sure, some people can keep that kind of secret, but being the person I am and absolutely dying that I couldn’t shout to the world that we were pregnant before the grandparents even knew (since one set was on vacation and we wanted to tell them all at the same time), I know I wouldn’t be that type of person. When you tell people you’re having a boy/girl, you immediately start hearing stories that you’re going to have to get rid of breakable things in your house before they hit 3/lock them in a room once they hit their teenage years. You’ll spend all your money replacing large, broken furniture/buying 5,001 hair bows. They’ll be difficult potty training/disciplining. In short, by telling someone the sex of your baby, you’re opening yourself up to every sexual stereotype known to mankind and projecting the weight of all that bias onto someone who hasn’t even taken their first breath.

In my case, a question that often followed the discussion about how absolutely crazy I am for not finding out the sex of my baby was whether I wanted it to be a boy or a girl. Generally, my answer would be to say, in a joking tone, that I want it to be a baby. Everyone would laugh. Some would prod further and I would say that I honestly didn’t care, so long as it’s happy and healthy. With good friends we’d go onto a discussion of my trepidations of having my second baby be one sex or the other, generally along the lines of boys have scary parts that I don’t have or understand, but we’d like to spread the family name, so I continued to be on the fence about the penis versus vagina thing.

Though when I was pregnant with Peanut, it was a very different story.

From somewhere nearing the moment that I found out I was pregnant, I was convinced the baby was a boy. It came to me in a dream, I believe, some blur of me eating ice cream with a little boy. I blame having recently read the Twilight novels. Regardless, in my mind, I was having a boy. In my body though, I was having a girl.

When I found out, I was actually sad, honestly sad. Sad that I had a perfect, healthy, beautiful little girl in me. Sad to be carrying this wonderful little girl who people often comment might as well be my clone. Sure, it was a fleeting sadness, but it was sadness nonetheless. And four years down the road, what does that sadness equate to? Guilt. Yeah, moms need another thing to feel guilty about.

When you don’t know the sex of your baby until they’re born, it’s not something you really get sad over, or at least I’d imagine. I’m not really the best person to comment on this since I was happy either way the second time around. Regardless of your expectation, you’re a tad bit tied up with other matters when you find out the baby’s sex at the birth. Honestly, I forgot to even check until my mother reminded me, and even at that I asked Peanut what the sex was, to which she proudly exclaimed that it was a girl. Sure, if I would have known the sex of the baby ahead of time I could have screamed “Get her out of me!” instead of “Get it out of me!” (Yeah, you try pushing out a 9.5 lb baby in less than 3 hours), but honestly, does it make the statement any better in the end?

Really though, let’s get to the thick of the matter. I hate pink. That’s reason enough to not let anyone know when I’m having a girl, rightRight? 

Did you find out the sex of your baby? Why or why not? 

Preparing for Birth Series

A Little Bit of All of It Preparing for Birth Series

Hello and happy Memorial Day! I hope all of you are busy having fun with family and celebrating those who have served our country, along with others who have passed. I often think of my aunt and grandma and how much they’d love to know the girls. I’ll be sharing pictures I have of them with Peanut today to help her to remember those we’ve lost.

When you’re not busy with your family on this lovely holiday, please take a look at this wonderful series on birth created by Julia at A Little Bit of All of It. Every week, she’s sharing links to blogs on certain topics related to birth. It’s such a wonderful resource if you’re expecting!

I’ve submitted quite a few links that you’ll recognize if you were keeping up with my Granola Head’s Guide to a Natural Pregnancy. I’m hoping to write some more for future weeks too. I hope you all enjoy the series and find it as wonderfully informative as I have. If you have any posts you think will work for the upcoming weeks, please submit them! I’d love to read all of your stories.

Planning a Water Birth

Today’s guest post is from Maria, one of my readers. I’m always happy when someone enjoys my blog and even happier when I read their work and find I enjoy theirs too! This topics is near and dear to me because, while I never said I was “planning” a water birth, I knew I wanted it as an option and now that I’ve had one, I’ll never go back!

Water births are constantly gaining popularity and it’s no surprise why; they are known to reduce pain and stress for the mother and to give the baby a relaxing entry into the world. The warm water is supposed to be a similar environment to the amniotic sac so that when the baby is delivered they don’t feel the transition to be too stressful.

The Opinion of Others!

When you’re planning for a water birth, you may notice people trying to put you off the idea or scoffing at it. This is most likely because during a water birth you cannot have an epidural or anaesthetic. However, don’t let others influence your decision. If you have decided you wish to experience a pain-relief free labour then a water birth could be perfect for you as it is known to naturally reduce pain. It’s also known to reduce the chance of tearing the perineum therefore lessening the chances of the mother needing an episiotomy. If you do decide to have a water birth, remember you can always change your mind and leave the pool if you decide you want an epidural.

Where To Do It?

When you’ve made your decision that you want a water birth, perhaps you’ve been considering it since your first pregnancy symptoms, the first thing to do is to decide where you wish to give birth. If it’s at hospital, you need to speak to them to make sure they support water birth, will have a birthing pool available or whether they will let you bring your own birthing pool into the hospital. The hospital may charge an extra fee for use of the birthing pool so look around to see if you can purchase your own for cheaper. The alternative is to give birth at home. For this you will need to find a midwife who is experienced in home water births and you’ll need to buy your own pool.

Secondly you’ll need to find an obstetrician or midwife who is happy with your decision. Some may not feel comfortable with your decision to water birth so make sure in advance you will not face any pressure to change your mind unless there is a medical emergency.

Keeping an Open Mind

Throughout the pregnancy and labor you will need to keep an open mind about the birth. Sometimes it will not be safe to have a water birth and you will be recommended against it. As long as there are medical reasons for you not to water birth you should listen to your midwife or obstetrician and be ready to change your plans. It is not recommended that you water birth if you: have had any bleeding in late pregnancy; your baby is in distress; you’re going into labor early; you have herpes or other health problems such as diabetes, kidney disease and heart disease; you have high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia; your labor was induced; you’re having multiple births, your baby is in the breech position or your baby is very small.

Lastly, you should try to labor in the water else you may not have time to get into the pool before your baby comes. It is advisable not to get into the water too soon otherwise the warm water may stop your contractions in early labor. Before you go into labor you will want to find a birthing tub, a midwife or obstetrician who is willing to assist with your water birth and a fetoscope.

Maria loves writing and researching about pregnancy and helping other people to learn about the different options they have. She is a keen blogger and loves hearing stories about everyone’s birth experiences.

All About Books — You’re Going to Be a Big Sister!

Today’s guest post is from Gretchen at That Mama Gretchen. Not only does she have an awesome name, but her blog is fantastic! I got hooked on her a while back during her Wool Week and I’m so happy I found her blog! Now she’s expecting her second and I’m excited to hear her journey into being a mother of two. 

I’m so excited to pop in while Miss Meredith gets extra snuggles from her mama!

I blog over at That Mama Gretchen about life with my toddler and our new little baby on the way. To celebrate our latest little blessing Jemma and I trekked to the library to find some books about becoming a big sister.

Jemma is a total book girl. Most days she forgoes toys to flip through books and magazines. She “ooos” and “ahhhs” at animals, families, nature scenes, and goes crazy for books with touch ‘n feel features :) So, although she is just 16 months, I figured books would be the best way to begin talking about the new baby that will be moving in this August.

We found 4 fabulous books that each took a different spin on welcoming a baby …

Of course, Jemma adored Where Did That Baby Come From? since it featured kitties. I loved the illustrations in There’s Going to Be a Baby and What Baby Needswas very attachment friendly as it showcased babywearing by both parents, nursing, and cosleeping. But, best of all was Pecan Pie Baby! I won’t ruin the story, but will tell you that I appreciated the way the mama responded to her child’s concerns about a new baby. This mama found a common ground for the three of them (mama, toddler, and baby) to connect is a special way. It was super sweet and I hope to find a similar way for Jemma and I to envelope a new baby into our special bond.

I’m sure this isn’t our first round of big sister books and I’d love to hear your recommendations! Please share your favorites – our library card is waiting to be put to use again!

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If you are interested in other blog posts about welcoming new siblings, these are a few of my recent read:

Mama to my sweet girl, Jemma, and another expected to arrive this summer! I share about our days over at That Mama Gretchen sprinkled with memos about our attachment parenting experience, thrifty finds, crafty projects, and our goal of becoming more green. Stop by for a visit, we’d love to have you! You can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and my favorite, PINTEREST!