Thursday, January 5, 2012

From Supporting Families to Supporting My Husband's Dream

            It is with a heavy heart, but great pride, that I share with all of you that I will be taking a hiatus from being a doula. 

            My husband, who has been endlessly supportive of my pursuit of my dream to become a doula, was given the opportunity to follow his dream.  The schedule that we must keep to facilitate this endeavor will make it impossible for me to juggle my full-time working schedule and balance family life.

            It has been both an honor and a privilege to serve families in Southwest Florida.  Every step on this path has taught me so much already.  When the time comes, hopefully not too far from now, when I may resume helping Southwest Florida families grow, I will do so with great joy.  During my time away, I will continue to further my education and growth as a birth professional. 

            I am blessed to have a husband who encouraged me along the way and I am so happy to have the chance to repay him for the support he gave to me.

            In edition to thanking my husband, to whom I could never thank enough, I’d also like to thank Samantha (of Baby Love Birth Center) for her support and mentorship. Nancy, who became my acquaintance borne of similar interests and who became a friend through shared faith. Kaliah, who is as dear a friend as I could hope to have who supported me in the beginning of my own birth journey and continued her support as those events shaped my path as a doula. Chris, who introduced me to the Southwest Florida birthing community and serves as an inspiration for her sheer faith in the birthing process. And finally, to countless other friend too many to list by name, who have encouraged me along the way.

            My hope is to find other ways to serve Southwest Florida families during this time and I will gladly direct interested clients to the other wonderful doulas who continue to serve our community.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Importance of Preserving Home Birth

     Not too long ago, I used to think "home birth is a nice option.  An option women should have” but beyond that, not much more.  Recent events have made home birth so much more to me than “just a nice option.”

     Just over a year ago, my grandfather passed away.  Death, like birth, can affect us more profoundly than the surface would indicate.  My grandfather’s final wish was to die at home.  He was born at home more than 97 years ago, in a simple farmhouse in rural Georgia, and he wanted to leave this earth the same way.  It made me happy to be able to fulfill this wish.  I believe he held on long enough to be brought home from the hospital so he could sleep one final night in his own bed surrounded by his family.  He was called home to heaven the next morning.

     Reflecting upon this simple request made me think about the way we do things today.  You are born in the hospital, among strangers and the unfamiliar.  So too you die, surrounded by the same.  Sadly, my grandfather’s generation may be the last to have the simple gift of being both brought into this world and leaving it behind surrounded by love, family and kindness.  My mother’s generation and my own, for the most part, will not be afforded such a blessing. 

     For too long birth and death has been looked upon by the medical establishment as events that belong behind sterile hospital walls.  We must seek to preserve what has been all but lost.  It is my hope that my daughter’s generation and those after have the same opportunity to be brought into this world into gentle hands and loving hearts and that, when they are called heavenward, they go surrounded by the faces of the people who love them the most… feeling no fear, only gratitude and peace.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Product Review: Sunshine Kids RadianXTSL Convertible Car Seat



RadianXTSL is a convertible car seat for rear-facing children 5 - 45 lbs and forward-facing children 20-80 lbs in a 5-point harness. NCAP crash tested makes it the strongest car seat in the world.

Save up... It's worth it!
5out of 5
Pros: Sturdy, Easy to Adjust, Easy to install, Comfortable, Stylish, Safe
Cons: heavy but SAFE
Best Uses: Newborn, Toddlers, Infants
Describe Yourself: First Time Parent, Birth Doula
This car seat has been better than I even hoped it would be. I had read reviews about children that hated their infant car seats but love this one. I thought they were exaggerating, but my daughter does it too. She squeals with delight whenever I got to buckle her in, she even tries to help fasten it.

Okay, now to what really matters: SAFETY! This car seat is solidly constructed and has amazing stats. Sunshine Kids has a youtube channel that shows their NCAP testing, which is much higher than the industry standard that most car seats use. (As a side note: they also have helpful videos about installation and properly fitting it on your child.) It is also rear-facing up to 45 pound which should easily meet the current AAP recommendation that all children under 2 should rear-face.

We have a Buick Rendezvous and we could easily fit 3 in the backseat. I've heard people say that it didn't fit in their smaller cars, but as long as you can get the proper 45 degree angle the NTSB says a car seat can touch the front seats and be effective (as of 2011). When we have baby #2, I'll probably buy this seat outright and skip the infant seat. Time will tell.

Sunshine Kids strives to use ecologically-friendly materials and production methods and is chemical-free.

All this being said, the best car seat for your child is a car seat that fits in your car and your child and that you'll both enjoy using.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Got Cloth?

     As previously mentioned, in an effort to be more eco-friendly one of the changes I decided to attempt was adding cloth diapering to our daily routine.

     It's been a week since I ordered my PUL and prefolds and today it arrived.  While I was researching how to launder them for the first (and subsequent) times I stumbled upon a "Flats and Handwashing Challenge."  It begins May 23 - May 30.  Maybe I'm crazy being a cloth diapering novice, but I'm up to the challenge--even if it means no one shares diapering duty with me, though I hope I can get my family on board.

Here's how it works:

  • You MUST use Flats.
  • You MUST handwash them.  How is up to you.  (bathtub, sink, large wash tub, portable non electronic washing machine, or camp style washer (bucket and plunger- think churning butter)
  • You MUST air dry them.  (indoors or outdoors, makes no difference)
  • You MUST limit your number of covers in rotation to 5 or less.
  • You can use any detergent you want.  (Keep in mind that you still want cloth safe detergents)
  • You can still use your nighttime diapers but I ask that you try to make flats work.  Maybe try a prefold wrapped in a flat.
  • You can use disposable liners.
  • You CAN’T use a diaper sprayer.  I thought long and hard about this one, but at an average cost of 40.00 this is one diaper accessory that is out of range for many families.  Dunk, swish, flush, or scrape!
  • You MUST start the morning of May 23 and end the evening of May 30.
  • You MUST fill out a completion survey about your experience.  Results will be published here and can be republished on your own blog.
   So there you have it!  My simple plan to try cloth (see below) has taken on a new mission.  Between now and May 23, I shall try my hand at the endeavor below, but come May 23 it's full-steam ahead into this challenge.  If you are interested in taking this challenge yourself, pop on over to "The Flats and Handwashing Challenge" and fill out the form they have available.

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Challenge aside, back to where this all started--trying modern cloth for the first time. 

I decided to try the Sprout Change 1-size fits all (in Sweet Pea for those of you wondering.)  I also ordered 6 prefolds in organic hemp with a microfiber top layer.
 
     Here's the plan:
  • Start out using only cloth on days I have Juliet by myself. 
  • I can still use disposables for naptime until I've met the learning curve
  • Eventually expand to using only cloth for the 3 days my husband and I watch our daughter (I don't feel like I can make my mother-in-law, who generously watches her while we work, participate.)
     I plan to give a full report and review of this product and am eager to see what I come up with.  I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Eat, Drink and Be Healthy

     For some time now, in an effort to save money and eat more healthfully, my husband and I have changed our "take-out ways" and have been cooking much more at home.  This is timely because our daughter is phasing out baby food and we're being forced to prepare healthy options instead of junk with filler.

     Shortly before I began 'Through Counting to 10' I discovered blogs.  Yes, I knew of there existence, but never paid any attention to them until recently.  Food blogs are among my favorites.  Many of my favorite recipes are from bloggers who, like me, are busy moms trying to cook nutritious meals for their families while juggling work, babies and managing a household--all on a budget (because, let's face it--everyone is on a budget these days.)

   In addition to looking for ways to save money and eat more healthfully, this endeavor is another way my family can try to live in a more eco-friendly/sustainable way.  We try to buy local and organic whenever we can--not always easy to do on a budget--but it's worth making the effort. (Side note:  It's always frustrating to me that, living in Florida, citrus is hard to find that's locally grown.  Every store in my area carries California citrus.  I asked one of the produce managers why local-grown oranges and the like weren't available--he said he really didn't know but that was a really good question.  He truly did seem puzzled, not patronizing or annoyed.)

     So far we've had lots of luck cooking a variety of yummy, healthy food.  We have been less than lucky saving money.  We're having a hard time using our produce before it goes bad, thus we are wasting food and money.

     Still, I encourage all of you to join me in this challenge.  Eat, drink and be healthy (and maybe save money and the world.)  Bon appetit!

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If you are interested in checking out my favorite food blogs, check out my blog roll for that and other great resources.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Trying to be More Eco-Friendly: My Brief Game Plan

     I've been thinking of ways to more environmentally friendly and live up to the manta reduce, reuse, recycle.

     My husband I are already avid recyclers and buy the most eco-friendly products we can.  Still, I feel like we can do more.

Here's a short list of practices I hope to incorporate into our daily lives:

  • Stop using paper plates and plastic ware (this may mean bringing our own reusable stuff with us when we go somewhere people plan to use disposables)
  • Switch from paper towels to dish rags/cloth napkins (I really love paper towels so this will be a biggie!)
  • Install a clothesline and take advantage of the Florida sunshine (rainy season aside)
     I hope that, whenever we have another baby, we'll be able to use cloth diapers.  I feel SO guilty every time we empty the diaper pail and I see all of those diapers containing chemicals, plastic and poo. I just don't think I could talk Mike into switching our daughter over now.  I have, however, thought about buying her 1 cloth diaper and some pre-folds to use on the day I have her and he's at work.  It may not be much, but it's something!

     TMI Alert:  On a much more personal note, I've been looking into reusable feminine care items.  I recently purchased a cloth pantyliner to try out and bought a Diva Cup (reusable menstrual cup).  I am optimistic and hope they work out well.  My only fear about the Diva Cup is that I'll have problems because of my IUD.  I think if I'm really careful, I should be fine.

Busy, Busy

     It's been a while since I've posted so here's a quick update:

     I received my DONA paperwork.  I have completed all of the requirements leading up to attending a doula workshop.  I've had a hard time finding one in my area and can't attend one that has Thursday/Friday hours until my time off at work re-cycles.  Other than that, I've read all of the required literature and have my first letter of recommendation.  I've been compiling the resource list for my area and only have about half of it left to write.

     I feel like so much of my time goes to thinking about maternity issues and childbirth.  It's been a very consuming process.  I guess it comes with the territory when you're always doing research and it's all you read about.

      I have 3 co-workers who are expecting babies.  One who just entered her 2nd trimester, another due in July and one who's wife is due is 8-10 weeks.  I should be thrilled for all of them but I feel torn about it because I don't want them to head down a path of misinformation.  Who am I to assume that they haven't been doing extensive research, weighing options and arming themselves with the best information out there?  I have a feeling that they are doing what so many people do (heck, I did it!).  You get pregnant, you go to your OB/GYN and you get put on the maternity conveyor belt with millions of other American women.  I'm sure that their doctor's are feeding them the same misinformation that a lot of women get.  My fear is that they will be victims of the same system that failed my daughter and I.
   
     I like to think of myself as an advocate for natural childbirth, but when faced with people for whom my message would be most timely, I freeze.  I can talk for hours about our broken maternity system to anyone else, but stick a pregnant woman in front of me (or expecting father) and it's like I'm stopped dead in my tracks.  I think it's because I'm afraid that I'll be sticking my nose into a very personal situation.  How you decide to give birth is deeply personal matter.  I'm afraid that they would see it as me butting in where I'm not wanted.  Besides, who wants to hear that the people you put all of your trust in (doctors, medical establishment, hospitals) are not giving you the full story and, as a result, could (and likely may) be putting your life at risk?

     I broke down and asked one of the women, Katie, where she was having the baby.  (I figured it was a good starter question and would get the ball rolling.)  She told be that she was seeing a doctor who was in practice with several other doctors, any of whom could be the one to actually deliver her baby.  She likes them all except for one.  She plans to give birth at HealthPark (which has an excellent NICU.)  I asked her if she was nervous and she said she wasn't.  She then asked me if I had gotten an epidural.  I told her I had not nor did I need one.  She looked at me like I was a little crazy and then said she was "scared to death".  (I'm not sure how she went from not being nervous to being scared to death, but my guess is that the latter was the more honest answer.)  She asked if it hurt with an epidural and I told her, honestly, that it didn't really hurt until the last couple centimeters, that it was mostly discomfort.  I told her that, knowing a little about her medical history, I thought she could deliver without pain medication and she would find it so much more rewarding.  I let her know that I believed in her and knew her body was made perfectly to have her baby and that I was more worried about her husband than her... she could take! he might pass out.  Then I made the mistake of using the term "ring of fire."  I'm pretty sure that once she heard that term it was all she took away from our conversation.  There was no way to her that it's just a sensation that serves a physiological purpose.  Nope, I tried to chime in but she just hung on to the image of her vagina lit on fire.

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     On the home front, Juliet turned 16 months old a couple days ago.  I can't get over how fast she is growing.  We just took her to have pictures taken.  Boy, do those photo studios know who to get you!

     Her personality has changed so much from the super-laid back baby she was.  I'm certainly not saying she's difficult, she's just very strong-willed and opinionated.  She's so funny.  She'll flail and squirm her way out of your arms and the second you put her down she wails until you pick her back up.  My poor baby.  It can't be easy to have such conflicting emotions (all which she feels legitimately and intensely.)