Friday, February 26, 2010

Rainbow Chip Frosting.... My beloved....

The good

The bad


-Or- Prepare to be discusted ;-)

What is Kombucha:

Kombucha is a sweetened tea that is fermented using a "visible mass" culture of bacteria and yeast. It's known as a SCOBY: Simbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. A SCOBY looks something like a floppy gelantinous pancake blob. It is also (falsely) called a "mushroom."

Benefits of Kombucha:

There are many health claims about Kombucha. The first use mentioned is almost always that it's used to detoxify and energize. Personally, I notice an energy rush while drinking it. Between Jericho and I, we are always dealing with Candida overgrowth (causing many yeast infections and yeast rashes) and I've noticed a HUGE improvement in the month that I've been drinking Kombucha. And, as crazy as it sounds I actually realllly like the taste of it! Here's a link with benefits other people have noticed. It ranges from awesome (helped heal bladder infections) to possibly far fetched (helped heal cancer) to humorous (Great conversation piece)!

What Kombucha tastes like:

The first time I took a sip I was almost overwhelmed by the vinegar-iness of it! It is like drinking fizzy apple cidar vinegar. For some reason I decided to take another sip and it was almost good. By sip three I was hooked! It's kind of an acquired taste. I've heard it described as tasting like "apple juice that's been sitting out too long". Somehow it does taste apple-y. Now that I'm used to it I hardly notice the vinegar-iness and find it really refreshing.

How to prepare Kombucha:

Items Needed:

A "mother" SCOBY (basically a starter SCOBY. If you live near me and are interested I can give you one)

1/2 cup of already prepared Kombucha

3 quarts of water

1 cup of sugar

4 black tea bags (I use 5. Also, you can use green tea)

The blog is my original SCOBY on the day I got it. The SCOBY is sticking up out of the leftover Kombucha from the last batch.

Close up of my SCOBY

Boil the 3 quarts of water. Add the cup of sugar and tea bags. Let it sit until the sweet tea is at room tempurature.

Pour the sweet tea into a clean (very CLEAN) gallon jar.

Add the 1/2 cup of Kombucha and toss the "mother" SCOBY in.

I cover my jar with a paper towel and then put a rubber band around the jar (don't use cheesecloth, apparently the weave is wide enough to allow fruit flies to lay eggs in the tea. BLECH!)

Let the mixure hang out in a dark, warm place. The warmer it is, the quicker it'll brew! It can be as short as 3 days but since my house is usually pretty cool it takes around 5-7 days. You know it's finished when it tastes right! Usually it'll form it's own SCOBY on the top by the time it is finished. Here is my SCOBY two days later. The SCOBY is just starting to form as you can see by the goo on the top.

Here is a side view: The danglies are "spent yeast" and harmless although they still freak me out when they get in my cup!

Oh, and one more thing: you may either want to keep your Kombucha colony a secret or prepare to be teased! :-) Especially when you have a husband like mine who's favorite and ONLY effervenscent, energizing drink is Mountain Dew!

My confession!!!

OK, I so didn't stick with the honey treatment for acne. In fact, *don't judge me* but I even stopped washing my face altogether. Now it's even worse!!! In my defense Jericho caught Pneumonia and then I went away on vacation with the babes by myself. My mind was occupied and if I had to choose between washing my face and sleep, I always choose sleep :-) I will start again hopefully soon! Oh, I have started taking Cod Liver Oil supplements so I'm hoping that will help a bit from the inside! :-)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Have you watched Food, Inc, yet?

If not, check it out!!!

'Poo Free *updated!*

Is there anything baking soda can't do?

I started out by saying that I am going "Shampoo free" but after many skeptical looks and after the suggestion of a friend, I've now chosen to call it, "I make my own shampoo and conditioner." Yes, it economical but for most women who care about the condition of her hair, "economical" is a bit farther down on the list of important hair product qualities. I'd venture to say 8 or 10 notches down the list behind, "Makes my hair look shiny," "Smells good," and "Is good for my hair". Believe it or not, the recipe I'm going to share here attains (and even exceeds) all of these qualities for mere pennies.


1 Tbs of Baking Soda

1 Cup of water

A few drops of essential oil (optional)


1 Tbs Apple Cider Vinegar

1 Cup of Water

The Method:

Mix the shampoo and conditioner ingredients in two separate containers (I use cheapo water bottles from Wal-Mart). Bring into the shower with you and pour the "shampoo" over your scalp until you hair is covered. Rinse. Repeat with the "conditioner". Rinse in cool water. Use once or twice a week.

Important: Did you know that your scalp only produces as much oil as it needs? Meaning, if you shampoo everyday, you'll have to shampoo everyday. Since the baking soda mixture is such an intense "cleanser" you really should only "shampoo" only once or twice a week. In fact, even if you use normal shampoo, you don't need to shampoo every day! The oils on your scalp are great for you hair. Over cleansing strips your hair of beneficial oils causing frizz and dry hair.

Detox Period:

When you switch to going "poo free" there will be a detox period your hair has to go through to adjust it's need for scalp oil. I hear it usually lasts 2-3 weeks but for me it was close to 4 1/2 or 5 weeks. My "shampoo" days are Saturdays and this week is the first week my hair wasn't a total grease ball by Wednesday. By Saturday, it was about as greasy as day 3 with my old shampoo habits.

Does this really work? When I told the last sylist that cut my hair what I use for shampoo, she informed me that they use Baking Soda the strip the hair of build up caused by product. Yes, the baking soda mixture works. It's pretty powerful stuff which is why you only "shampoo" once a week. The vinegar works great as a "conditioner," also. If you rinse well enough, the salad smell will dissapate from your hair in seconds.

I've heard a lot of raves about the condition of people's hair when switching! Most people say their hair is softer, less flakey, less itchy, shinier and healthier. I even read one report of a woman whose hair lightened! I switched over after my last bottle of shampoo ran out and the beginning of January. For me, I do notice my hair is softer and healthier but not necessarily shinier. Yet, anyway. My last gourmet shampoo I purchased from a high-end salon was almost $50 a bottle (YES, you read that right) and my hair is definitely healthier now than ever, even while I used that shampoo!

*Update from 2011, one year after going 'poo free': I think I am now seeing hair that is actually shinier, softer and more healthy. My hair is FINALLY growing and getting pretty long. I had about a 3.5 year streak there where my hair just didn't grow. This benefit can probably be attributed to my change in diet, though.

I did end up coloring my hair in November of this year and that was somewhat of a nightmare! A month later I could still scratch my fingernail over my scalp and end up with dye until my nail. I think if I were to color my hair again I would shampoo using Dr. Bronner Castile Soap, however. A month and a half later the dye is completely gone.

Did I ever fully 'detox'? No. My hair is still crazy greasy the day before I wash it. I probably should wash every 5 or 6 days but that would be a lot harder than washing on the same day every week. Honestly, I just don't care!!

I still LOVE going 'poo free' and plan on continuing. You can't beat the price, that's for sure! :-)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Birth Story of the Week~

Ok, this story had me on the edge of my seat like 4 times!!! I love it!

This story actually starts off with the birth of my nephew. I was in Labor & Delivery at Hayward Kaiser on 6/9 (my due date) with my brother & Felicia who had been there for at least 40 hours and she was not progressing at all on her own, I think the most she dilated was 2-3 cm after hours upon hours of Pitocin. The dr’s were going back & forth on just doing a c-section when I decided that I was tired and went home at midnight. I got the call at 3 am that my nephew, Matthew Jacob was born.

I was still awake lying in bed, wondering when it would be my turn, and then I felt my first contraction at 3:30 am. I wasn’t sure if it was a little cramp from the baby laying the wrong way or what. 15 minutes later I had another one that was clear as day. Within a half hour I was having them every 7 minutes and decided to go downstairs and sit on my ball and start really timing them. By 5:30 am I woke Joe up and told him to get up too because I was in pain. He asked to sleep for another half hour, not realizing what I just told him. It took him a minute and then he jumped up and was getting everything ready to go. At this time they were 5 minutes apart and sometimes 3 minutes. If I got up to walk, I would have another one immediately. They were tolerable and I wasn’t sure if it would be considered ACTIVE labor since I was handling them so well. I was using my TENS unit and I must say that if you are planning on delivering naturally, you should get one of these. It really helped me with the pain throughout the entire labor. Anyways….we were trying to wait until 7:15 to go to the hospital because the earliest that we could drop Jonathan off at daycare is 7:30 and we really didn’t know what to do with him at that point. We were planning on calling my dad, but he just got home from the hospital after being there for 2 nights with my brother and on no sleep!

At 7:15 we left the house, dropped Jonathan off at daycare and headed to the hospital. They admitted me right away and started me on the Penicillin for the GBS. They wanted to do a regular IV, but I insisted on a hep-lock so that I was not tethered to the IV pole for the whole time. When they checked me I was at 3 MAYBE 4 cm. I was hoping for a little more since I knew is was at 2 cm from my dr’s visit the day before. Oh well though, it was still better than what I was at before and all you can really ask for is progress.

My regular midwife that I was seeing was working at that time which was pretty nice because she and I discussed all of my plans for a natural birth and knew my history. She brought the anesthesiologist in so that he could get a background on my back surgeries in case of the unlikely event of an emergency c-section. I’m not able to get the epidural without a huge risk because of the bone fusion and scar tissue. He said that he would do a spinal if needed in an emergency, which has a smaller risk than the epidural. Now that we were done with the formalities, it was time to get down to business. I was expecting everything to go pretty quickly and was ready to roll.

Around 10:30 or 11:00 I wanted to get in the bath, but my midwife wanted to wait until I was a solid 5 cm so the bath didn’t slow down my progress. So I sat on my ball and changed positions as much as possible. I went for a walk down the hall and saw my nephew for the first time. He is so cute!! Any movement, especially walking, made me get contractions immediately so it was hard to move around. I wanted to keep things moving so it was kind of a struggle because I knew that by walking it was going to bring on the pain. By noon I had another cervical check and she said I was at a 5 maybe 6 and the bath would be a good idea. Contractions were really intense at this point so walking down the hall to the bath was pretty pain inducing. Once I got there though the bath felt great. They were only going to let me be in the bath for an hour though because I was due for my next round of Penicillin at 1:30. I think I would have stayed in there the whole time if I could have.

So here I am hooked up to the IV again and on the fetal monitor going through the motions and taking it one contraction at a time. I believe she checked me again and I was still the same, but it was ok at this point. There was a little issue with the baby’s heart rate not accelerating as much as they’d like during contractions, but it didn’t seem pressing. As far as I was concerned this labor was going perfect (minus the IV) and we were going to have natural birth as planned. I was able to stay clam during the contractions with my TENS unit, breathing and resting in between by closing my eyes and taking nice relaxing breaths.

By 3:30 it was time to be checked again and I was still at 5 cm. She didn’t even say maybe 6 this time so I think this is when I lost the peacefulness that I thought I had. I was having some really intense contractions that I would have rated a 10 on the pain scale so I thought I was so close, but I was only halfway there. They wanted my contractions to be lasting at least a minute and they were only at 45-50 seconds at this point. I had lost it. I couldn’t do it anymore. They were discussing Pitocin, which I knew I didn’t want, but I couldn’t go on like this forever.

I asked for Fentanyl and wanted to speak to anesthesiologist to see if there was ANY way an epidural or spinal was possible. I was willing to take on some of the risk in order to get relief. I was practically begging him. He consulted with the other anesthesiologists in the hospital and they all advised against it. I was devastated. I thought, “how am I going to do this?” The Fentanyl gave me a moment’s relief at the first 2 contractions, but really did nothing. They were starting to come pretty quickly at this point. I saw no end in sight and only felt pain.

Joe was great and gave me a little pep talk and I was able to kind of talk myself back into it. Really though, what other choice did I have?

It was just about 5:00 and it was Pitocin time. I swore I’d kill the person who gave me Pitocin, but I was only halfway dilated and needed to move this along. I had no more energy left. Not a second after they hooked it up I got a strange urge to push. The nurse in the room checked me quickly and said I was at a 7. I guess I was progressing on my own. This urge to push became overwhelming with the next contraction and I knew I shouldn’t be pushing at a 7, but I was screaming trying to control my body when it was doing it’s own thing and pushing this baby out. The nurse said to push and I said, “REALLY??” I thought it was dangerous to push before 10, so I was hesitant but she was ready so I pushed on the next contraction. It was hurting so bad and my body sort of took over and I was not in control anymore. She told me to stop because she probably didn’t think that he was going to come so quickly but his head started coming out.

I’m not sure these people understand what it’s like to stop pushing (or to not push when you have the urge). I thought something was wrong, but she just needed to call the dr in and get everything ready. SERIOUSLY??? You need me to wait for YOU to get ready. This really annoyed me. Luckily it was a long break between this and my next contraction. With this one, I gave it all I had and it hurt like hell so I closed my legs and they were prying me open because he was coming out. I only had to push one more time and again they told me to stop because his head was out, but the chord was around his neck and they needed to cut it quickly before I could get his body out. Again my reaction was to want to close my legs. I had that “ring of fire” burning sensation this whole time and intense pain. I didn’t have this pain when pushing Jonathan out. They were able to cut the chord and I’m able to push out his body. This is 5:14 pm.

They put him on top of me, but he was not moving. They start rubbing him pretty vigorously on me trying to get him to cry, but nothing came out. They took him away and gave him oxygen, frantically rubbing him and trying to stimulate him. I asked them if he was ok and they said he had a good pulse, but were just waiting for him to cry. I look over at Joe and he is looking concerned, so I get a little concerned too. It felt like an eternity of silence, but I’m sure it was only seconds. Then we heard the cry. We were SO overjoyed. I’m not sure I can explain the feeling to hear his cry at this point.

They were working on me getting the placenta out when I asked about it being ok to push at 7cm. The dr checked me again and said I was still at a 7. I must have stretched to a 10 to push him out, but I’m sure that was why it was so much more painful than what I remembered. I still don’t think you are supposed to push at a 7, but Max had other plans and needed to get out. Only a couple minor stitches later and I was good to go. I now had my baby and both Joe and I were in heaven. I think you always wonder what you’re family is going to be like or consist of and now we know: it’s us 4. Holding Max at this point, I looked at Joe and told him that I was never doing that again. He grabbed the camera quickly and made me say it on tape. So, not only did I get a beautiful son on this day, but I also got a little nephew. What an amazing thing to be sharing with my brother.

Maxton Joseph Kozocas was born on 6/10/09 at 5:14 pm. He weighed 7lbs, 15oz and was 20.5" long.

Up until this moment (typing this story), the birth seemed like a pretty traumatic experience for me. I had actually even had some nightmares about it. I think writing this down and getting it out made me see the beauty in it. I know that without Joe and the great staff that we had, I would have fell apart. I’m truly amazed at us women, and what our bodies are capable of.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


After one day of using topical raw honey on my face. Essentially a "before" picture!

I accidently deleted the picture of the other side of my face! Oh, well, this is my "bad side" anyway. Believe it or not, this is actually an improvement from last night. I am almost embarrased to post this. Don't make fun of me!

Getting rid of acne... Naturally....

OK, I just yesterday read that raw (meaning unpasterized) honey can be used to get rid of pimples. I'm trying it to see how this works. I bought the honey at my local food Co-op (it's expensive! $7 or 8 for a tiny jar! But, acne meds are a lot more expensive than that) and rubbed into my face after washing it with Dr.Bronners Peppermint Castile soap (awesome stuff. I bought a tiny travel bottle of this for maybe $4 at Fred Meyer). Then I went to bed. It was a bit sticky but it wasn't gooey at all. There is no honey residue on my pillow, either. This AM I woke up to a bit of a clearer face, but that could have been because I actually washed it last night!

(A side note: since having Jericho I haven't bothered washing my face except for when I shower. My skin is no worse or no better since ditching my chemical-laden Clearasil acne wash).

Our skin is highly effected by what we eat and drink. I personally believe that things such as acne, some mood disorders and even cavities are symptoms of deficiencies in our diets. I've had GREAT, noticable results before just by upping my water intake and popping a "hair, skin and nails" vitamin. Cod-liver oil is supposed to be EXCELLENT for your skin and numerous systems in our bodies. It's high in vitamins A and D and provides Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s support your nervous system, brain and hormone systems. Just make sure you get "naturally produced, unheated, fermented, high vitamin cod liver oil" ( such as that made by Twin Labs or Now (I think you can buy both of these brands at Fred Meyer or Safeway).

Since I have to world's worst diet right now and our budget is too tight to afford my prized Cod-liver oil, I'm sticking with the raw honey. I guess it takes around 2 weeks to see results. I'll keep ya posted. I bet a "before" pic would be good. Ok, I'll take one and post it in a bit (unless Jericho wakes up!!)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Ways to make Cloth diapers more absorbant

Let's face it. Disposable diapers have ONE distinct advantage to cloth. They hold a LOT more moisture, although one could argue as to whether or not that's actually good for the baby. This makes creativity a virture when it comes to nighttime or other times when you need to go longer between changes.

I used to use my BumGenius 3.0 pocket diapers for nighttime use. Well.... I washed them with Tide (no-no #1), used diaper cream in them (no-no #2) and washed them with my cloth wipes that had olive oil in them (no-no #3). I'm currently working on trying to get those up and running again. Here's what we've resorted to:

There is a LOT you could do, but this is what I do:

Supplies needed:

Cheap microfiber (such as a Sham-Wow!)

I got this stuff at Target for super cheap and then cut it into 5x12'' pieces. I would recommend skinnier pieces. Maybe 3.5x10. Don't let this touch your wee-one's skin directly. I recommend two strips on the outside of the prefold and inside the diaper cover


Fleece is an AWESOME material to have on hand. Have you ever washed a fleece blanket and noticed how it felt when you took it out of the wash to put into the dryer? It feels dry even when it's wet. Fleece makes an awesome 'stay dry liner'. It's also great for when you need to use a barrier cream of some sort on a rashy bum. It protects your diaper from absorbing the cream and having a moisture barrier of it's own (also called repelling). I need to test my theory but I almost think Jericho sleeps for longer night stretches when I use fleece.

Old, outgrown Pre-Fold diapers

This is the progression of Jericho's prefolds. He started off in the newborn size on the top of the pile. He is now somewhere inbetween the red-edged diapers and the bottom blue edged diapers (although neither of these is wide enough for my stocky little guy). We mostly use the newborn size as a diaper "doubler" at night.

Here is how Jericho's butt looks at night:

Baby butt
Normal prefold diaper, snappied
2 sham-wows folded up into a newborn sized prefold
Diaper cover

When we're done with our handiwork, our son looks like a "Who". I will have to get some pictures before we go back to our BumGenius!

Other stuff you could do (that I have no expierence with)

*Buy Hemp or Cotton premade Diaper Doublers
*Silk Liners. I hear these have natural healing properties and feel wonderful on a red baby butt.
*Flushable liners (these are great for baby poop)

You can find all of this stuff at

Home made all-purpose disinfectant

fill up spray bottle with vinegar

add 20 drops of tea tree oil

annihilate organisms

Cloth Diaper Wash Routine

*New and Improved!!*

Now that I have my new detergent, I have revamped my routine. No more soaking or additives. Only three steps. Awesome.

1. Cold wash with 1 tbs of Charlie's soap.

2. Hot wash with another tbs Charlie's soap

3. Dry

See? I am so relieved to have simplified my routine! I will still add Tea Tree Oil every week or two for disinfectant purposes.

Oh, another fun fact: Today I asked Jaden how much our water bill has gone up since we've been cloth diapering. His response, "About a dollar." :-)

Here's the link to my original wash routine post with LOTS of other info:

Charlie's Soap!

OK, the UPS man finally delivered my Charlie's Soap laundry detergent. I am in LOVE! For 15.49 plus shipping you get 80 loads of laundry out of one bag. I'm not sure of the math here, but my Planet detergent was like 9.50 for 20 loads. For 80 loads of Tide, it's around $28.
All you need is ONE tablespoon of detergent. Really. I tested it. I am one of those who try to pack as much as humanly possible into my wash. "Super load" barely scratches the surface of what I cram in there. I still only needed one tablespoon. Even Jaden's dingy grease-soaked mechanic clothes came out clean. The baby's burp rags were so soft I used one as a blanket for a nap or two. It is completely non-toxic, has no harsh enzymes, toxic brighteners, fragrances, whiteners, softeners or any other additives. It's cloth diaper friendly (and EFFECTIVE!!) and you can even use it for baby clothes. I like that I can just toss in dirty bibs and slobbered on onsies with our grown-up cloths.
One word of caution: when using an enzyme free detergent, it is NOT wise to switch back and forth between enzyme-containing detergents. It will cause re-depositing (enzymes, I think, I have to double check my sources) on your clothes. This can wreak havoc on cloth diapers. When switching to Charlie's Soap (or Planet, Country Save or any other non-enzyme detergent), simple run an empty load (some say it's better to toss in some old rags) with the new detergent prior to actual use.
I have yet to find a flaw with Charlie's Soap. It's CHEAP, gentle and gets my stuff clean.
"If you want flowers, go pick some."

Friday, February 5, 2010

It has been brought to my attention....

That my cloth diaper wash routine is an information overload! Never fear, readers, I am going to simplify it! I think I'll do a basic wash routine in one blog and a troubleshooting one in another. As I mention toward the end of the overload, here is the best way to start with washing:

Cold Wash w/no detergent
Hot Wash w/ 1/2 the manufacter's recommended amount of detergent*

*It's best to use a detergent free of dyes, fragrance, enzymes and brighteners such as Planet or Charlies soap. Lots of people get away with Tide free and clear or All Free and clear with no problems

Thursday, February 4, 2010

"I ended up with an unplanned and unnecessary c-section..."

By Emily Dickey

Ryan Tyler was born on December 27, 2009, and he’s the love of our lives! A pretty adorable one, too I ended up with an unplanned and unnecessary c-section… You can find our entire birth story here:

Going into labor
I’d say slight contractions started the night of Christmas Eve. Of course, I’d been having contractions for the past 2 months so when I say “slight contractions started,” I mean different contractions… stronger contractions, just enough to make me uncomfortable. And just enough to make us all sure I’d be at the hospital on Christmas day.
Christmas baby? Nope. Steve and I spent the entire day at home because my contractions were stronger and I was super uncomfortable. But they never progressed into something closer, stronger, longer. That night… they got worse and quite painful. We both tried to get some sleep around midnight. I woke up at 2:30am from the contractions, which were about 4 minutes apart and I couldn’t talk or walk through them. So I woke up Steve and we got ready to go. Maybe it was too early, but after being in early labor for an entire day, I was probably just wishing it was time to go so much that I told myself it was time to go.
So how did we start labor?? There are so many ways to attempt inducing labor on your own and I had made a list:

Honestly, I think it was just time and we didn’t do anything that actually worked. We may have done things, however, to help push it along AFTER it had started.
Christmas Eve:
*I started taking Evening Primrose Oil (orally and topically)
*Steve’s brother yelled at my belly, telling the baby to come out (this is probably what did it! lol)*Sex (using evening primrose oil)
*Nipple stimulation (warm pad)

Christmas Day:
*Continued the evening primrose oil orally and topically
*Relaxation–slept on the couch a LOT, took a couple warm showers
*Nipple stimulation (warm pad)
*Massage (we used a DVD: how to massage your pregnant partner–and fyi, the “pelvic rock” made ctx pain less, but only for awhile)

Anyway… Steve called the OB on call, who replied “is she the one who was supposed to be induced today?” Yes, I was, but it was moved to Tuesday. Steve got off the phone and said “great, they all know who you are.” – haha.

We loaded the car with our bags, boppy and birthing ball. I called my mom and texted some friends. It was baby time! We got to the hospital around 4am
pain meds

We arrived around 4am and got right into a room (the entire place was empty!) where they hooked me up to the heartbeat and contraction monitor. The nurse was asking all these questions and every time I had a contraction, I’d have to concentrate and not talk–she seemed almost annoyed or impatient with that, which made me feel rushed. That was surprising because… isn’t that their job? Don’t all women in labor get quiet during a contraction? Anyway, she checked my dilation and I was only at 2-3 cm. After being in early labor the entire previous 24 hours?! And for being in so much pain? I nearly started crying when she left the room and turned to Steve and kept saying, “I can’t do this, I can’t do this.” He told me I could.

The nurse said they’d wait an hour and check me again. The hour actually went pretty fast, except during the minutes I decided to stare at the second hand on the clock–they really should remove those from rooms, haha. SO, my next check was around 6.. I was STILL at 2-3 cm with contractions 3-4 min apart. I cried. The nurse told us she’d call the doctor and update her and that we may be sent home. I said- how will I know when to come back if my contractions are currently 3-4 min apart and really painful? and she said – they’ll get much worse and will make you cry. Come back then. AHH! I was already wanting to cry!

The doctor was gone delivering another baby so it took her another hour and a half to come. She checked me (7:45 am) and by then I had reached 4cm! So we were going to stay… they moved us to the labor and delivery room.

Looking back at this timeline (accurate, thanks to my twitter updates), I’m AMAZED it was 4 hours we sat there while I dilated to 4cm. I would have guessed it was like 1 hour. The pain was BAD and I can’t believe I actually sat through 4 hours of it… it makes me think I could have made it, I could have gone longer. But moving to L&D, they told us to expect 1 cm per hour… meaning, on average, it would take another 6 hours. I couldn’t handle hearing that…. I caved and asked for an epidural (8am).

Before I asked, I discussed it with Steve. For the past 9 months he has been hearing how I want a natural birth and how important it is to me and how he MUST talk me out of an epidural if I ask for one at the hospital because I don’t really mean it. So he was in a hard spot and didn’t know what to do. He DID try to talk me out of it, in the nicest way possible, and I appreciate that. He was so nervous to tell me it was OK to get the epidural because he didn’t want me to regret it later. I finally told him that I wouldn’t blame him, that I wouldn’t regret it, and at this point I needed him to back me up. So he did.

And I don’t regret it. I mean, I regret the way things ended up and I do believe it all started with the epidural… but we’ll get to that later. What I mean is, I really couldn’t handle the pain and I don’t know how some women do it. I was miserable, hating labor, dreading every passing minute. Once I had the epidural, I could actually smile and think about our lil baby boy who was coming soon.. I could ENJOY it. And I don’t regret that.

The anesthesiologist was amazing–the nurse said he was the best and he was SO nice. I was really nervous to get the epidural, but it was really easy and I don’t really remember any pain, just some pinches. It started working really fast.

My legs felt numb, but I could still feel touch–I could still feel Steve rubbing my feet, etc. The meds reached a “peak” during which I couldn’t really move my legs at all. The nurse came in to check me and told me to lift my knees–I laughed. I can’t! But once that peak passed, I could actually move just fine. If I concentrated, I would notice the contractions, but only as very slight pressure.

Steve and I slept… a lot. I woke up around 11am and they checked me: 5cm, 0 station. The nurse asked if they could give me pitocin or break my water. I said I didn’t want either. The nurse told me that the doctor recommended pitocin over breaking my water… I said let’s wait longer. I was having contractions just fine on my own, every 3-4 minutes, and the baby was doing great. The concern (according to the nurse): the contractions aren’t doing enough, fast enough, which is a worry because I was late at 41 weeks.

Hmm my tweets show the nurse came in and checked again at 11:30… that would be a half hour after the previous check. Funny I didn’t notice that while at the hospital… it wasn’t the hour they said they’d give me. Wow. Anyway… I was still at 5cm. Nurse brought up pitocin and water breaking again and I again said no. She asked me why, what did I have against doing those things? I said… I don’t want to force my body to do something it’s not ready to do. She said ok.
I sat straight up in bed, indian style, hoping to help the baby move down.

Alright, it’s now about 12:30pm. They pulled out the big guns–they sent the OB in to talk to me instead of the nurse. She told me my white blood cell count was low and they were worried about an infection. Again, she checked me and I was still at 5cm (another worry). Looking at my tweets, the doctor said that at this point I was stuck at 5cm for 3 hours, but it would appear I was only there for 2 hours. She said we could tell if I had an infection or not by breaking my water. Clear = OK. So… I said yes. How could I not? I didn’t want an infection to put risk to baby (& I thought I was at 5 cm for the last 3 hours).

Water was clear = no infection.
1pm: Steve wakes up, we watch TV.
1:30-2:30pm: I took a nap.

They checked me (2:30pm) and I was STILL at 5cm. Again, the doctor was sent in to talk to me about it (because it was much easier for me to say no to the nurse… harder to say no to the doctor). So what happened? I ended up with pitocin.

epidural to pitocin

The reasons I think I ended up getting pitocin (when I went in not wanting it AT ALL):

1) when you’re asked 4 times if it can be given to you, each time wears you down
2) I was told I should be dilating 1 cm every hour, on average, but that I was “stuck” at 5 cm for 4 hours
3) A huge reason I never wanted pitocin was because of the more painful contractions it causes. But because I ended up getting the epidural and could feel no pain, I figured… why not?
4) With the nurse and OB pushing the idea of pitocin every time they entered the room and for the reasons above, I forgot my grounds of not wanting to force my body to do something it wasn’t ready for. Yes, I’m frustrated by this.

We started at 1 ml/hr of pitocin and the nurse said she’d raise it by 1 every hour.

Tweet at 3:04pm:
"I can’t believe I’m on pit. But dr very convincing. Said it shouldn’t take much as I’m having own contractions and that it has very short half life…. so if we decide to stop it’ll be out of system quickly."

Too bad that wasn’t true. I stayed on pit until we were at 24 ml/hr….

Twitter friends kept suggesting I get up and walk, but I was on an epidural and they wouldn’t let me. I asked I could get up and they said no. (I know, I shouldn’t have asked, I should have just done it.) At 4pm I was having contractions every 2-3 minutes and with the pit, I could feel them–just pressure, no pain. At 4:40pm my contractions slowed to about every 5-6 minutes… then I slept for an hour.

Checked at 6pm: 6-7 cm. Pitocin working and I was starting to feel lower back pain… really low. Baby’s head? Anyway, I fell back asleep! I was sooo tired. Slept for another 2 hours and woke up around 8pm. They checked me and I was still at 6-7 cm and still at 0 station New symptom: shaking. Like, teeth-chattering-shaking. The nurse was excited like it was a sign of labor, but the doctor said it was an effect of the epidural. Hmpf.

At this point I was at pit level of 10 ml. As dilation wasn’t moving, they started upping the pit by 2 every half hour.

At 7:30-8pm I got the night nurse. I loved the day nurse, she had great personality and was really friendly. The night nurse? Awful. She never smiled, she’d turn up my pit without telling me so I’d have to ask every time, and when I asked her if I could at least just stand up next to the bed with Steve’s help, she said “absolutely not.”

9pm check: a “good 7″ and still 0 station. Pit level: 12. I started to feel pain through the epidural so they made me lay down and they upped the epidural. They wanted me to lay down because the epi works with gravity… so sitting straight up as I was (trying to help baby move down) was concentrating the epi more in butt area, than helping with uterine pain.

10pm check: dilated to a “soft 8″ meaning a bit more than 7, stretchable to an 8. Around 10:45, I wrote on twitter that the back pain was worse, stronger with contractions. Almost like needing to go to the bathroom (urge to push), but not quite… dr said it was baby’s head.

11pm check: still at 8cm. +1 station. Moving along! But still sooo tired, couldn’t keep eyes open… went back to sleep.

My next tweet didn’t come until 1am so I’m guessing I slept till about midnight and then they checked me and I was still at an 8. So they put in a catheter to measure the strength of contractions (I shouldn’t have let them and I wish I hadn’t. But… when you’re in the moment, it’s like you don’t know what’s going on and you just want things to go well and you figure what’s the harm in looking at contraction strength?) We waited awhile… the nurse came in at one point and I asked about the strength and she said it looked like they were NOT strong enough, which would mean I need a c-section because the pit isn’t working. I couldn’t stop crying. But.. we still hasn’t heard from the doctor.. now 1:20am and they’re still upping the pitocin: 22 ml.

Keep in mind the MAX level of pitocin is 20ml. The day nurse said that and it said it all over the IV machine. With the doctor’s orders, they can administer more. I ended up going up to 24 ml, which finally was my doctor’s personally set max level. In this time, the pain came through the epi full strength and I thought I’d die. The pain came back suddenly and brought tears to my eyes–people say to concentrate and distract yourself–the pain was so bad that doing anything else was impossible. I asked for more epidural, but the nurse said that if I was progressing and IF it was time to push soon, I couldn’t get more epi…. so we had to wait for the doctor to check me. (Why couldn’t the nurse check me? I don’t know). It took the doctor like 45 min to check me and I was STILL at 8cm. So I got more epidural. I asked the nurse later if the doctor had other patients and the nurse said no. Hmmm… why did it take her 45 min to come then, when I was writhing in pain?

3am: doctor came in, still at 8cm and she said the contractions WERE strong enough to be doing something so the worry is why they weren’t doing anything. The reason she said: the baby is too big to fit out vaginally and I should get a c-section. Her little speech went something like: we could wait forever to eventually make it to 10cm, who knows how long or how much pain at 24 ml of pitocin, and after all of that, we could get to pushing and it may not even work if he really is too big to get out.

Wow. That sounded like pure misery. I started sobbing – and this emotionless doctor and nurse just stared at me. Not a word of comfort or understanding. So Steve asked if we could have a few minutes to talk about it and they left the room. I honestly felt like we didn’t have a choice. I really thought we’d go through all the time and pain and have delivery not even work (by what the doctor told us). She came back in the room like 5 minutes later wanting to know our decision. I told her I felt like we had no choice and she said we do, but she recommends the c-section and that although that may not have been part of our “plan,” a healthy baby was part of our plan so let’s focus on that.

OK. Time for a c-section. 3:30am. The next post will be a bit harder to write–why I ended up with the c-section and what I think of it now.
pitocin to c-section

After writing the pitocin post yesterday, I cried for awhile. Just one of those nights. I talked about it for awhile on twitter (actually, I more just read what other people had to say and didn’t do much talking). Two things I noticed:

1) An incredible amount of people have a similar story. Why is it so “normal” to receive a c-section these days, especially unnecessary and most likely unwanted ones? What is wrong with medical staff that this is what it has come to? Everyone just wants to get home and when someone arrives who is moving too slowly (like myself, who was at the hospital for 24 hours before the c-section), the surgery is pushed rather than waiting for the natural, magical experience of birth. And it’s sick.

2) People keep telling me I’m amazing and strong and I don’t get it. I didn’t do anything… I sat on a delivery bed for 24 hours before being strapped down and having a baby pulled out of me. I didn’t do a thing. It’s part of what hurts the most–that I’m disappointed in myself–but thank you for the comments.

Anyway…. we had the c-section around 3am. They took me in first and about 5 people surrounded me to get everything ready–it was quick and confusing. They strapped down my legs, laid my arms out crucifix-style, and numbed nearly my entire body. I kept asking when they’d let Steve in and finally, he was there.
I NEVER in a million years thought I’d end up with a c-section so I had no idea what to expect, I hadn’t read anything about them. When they were sure I was good and numb, they started. I could feel everything, but no pain. They cut through 5 layers of skin and muscle, at one point tearing through with their hands (I read about it after I got home) until reaching the uterus. They were moving so quickly, my entire body was jerking around on the table and I was squeezing Steve’s hand. To get the baby out they had to press on my upper abdomen (I don’t know why)–1 push, pull out the baby’s head… 2nd push, pull out the baby’s body. Yes, the pushes hurt–intense pressure, but only for a second.

When the baby was fully out, it was a crazy feeling… my back arched upward, I made some sort of groaning sound, and it was a huge weight lifted, pressure removed, sort of sensation. So hard to explain. I liken it to the feeling a woman must have when the baby is pushed out during a natural birth… and I hold on to having that.

They took Ryan over to a table to clean him off and everything–I couldn’t see a thing, but Steve could. I kept asking him if Ryan was ok and if he was cute and I was wondering why there was no crying, but I didn’t want to ask. I could tell Steve wondered too–his face was full of fear. Steve later said they were rubbing him/dropping him and the nurse was getting frustrated or something, shaking his head. But no worries, a short bit later we heard him cry and all was fine APGAR scores of 6 and 9.

They called Steve over to cut the cord and get some pictures, etc. then they brought baby over to me so I could see him. I was so happy and so excited, but I didn’t cry. Every time I thought of this moment for the last 9 months, I’d cry. But when it actually happened… I think I was so doped up I couldn’t. But no matter, I was happy. They took him away and Steve went with. The anesthesiologist suggested I take a nap. I tried, I sure felt like it, but they were putting me back together with more pulling and it wasn’t much of a napping environment lol. It took a half hour? Then they rolled me to recovery… Steve came to check on me and brought me ice chips because my mouth was SO dry and I had a terrible taste in my mouth. I was also shaking uncontrollably–from the morphine they gave for the pain. It was awful. I kept telling Steve to go back to the baby, but he was so worried about me, he was reluctant. But, of course, he went back to baby.

I think I stayed there for about an hour. I couldn’t sleep because of the shaking and I was trying SO hard to not shake every time the nurse came by because I thought they were waiting for that to stop before letting me go to the Mother/Baby unit. Fianlly, I went. I breastfed and we all fell asleep. It was probably about 5am by this point

C-Section thoughts and advice


I do believe I ended up with a c-section because of my decision to get an epidural. As I said in my first birth story post, I don’t regret the epidural. I can’t. The pain was unbearable. So in that sense, I guess I should be ok with the ending c-section. But I also strongly feel that I was talked into it. I was worn down. And… after sitting in the hospital for 24 hours, I was exhausted.

For some women, an epidural helps labor progress because it takes away pain/tension and allows contractions to do their job. For probably the majority of women, an epidural slows labor down, and that’s where I fall. This led to breaking my water… then pitocin… then c-section. Why did I agree to pitocin? I’d rather have that work than end up in a c-section. Sadly, for me, it didn’t work.

A few months ago I was reading a story about how hospital nurses were starting to come forward and talk about how doctors were administering pitocin in high doses to purposely cause distress in the baby (“pit to distress”). Yes, I wonder about my OB… she had no idea who I was, we had no connection, she had no emotion. Plus, she upped my pitocin to a level of 24 when the max is supposed to be 20. Luckily, our baby never went into distress. His heart rate did rise from around 140 to around 160, but they never said anything about it.

What do I wish? I wish I had denied the c-section, at least at that time. I wish we had waited to see if I could get to 10cm and if I could have pushed this baby out. Too big to fit? Please, have you seen him?! 7 lb, 9 oz. I don’t think your body makes a baby it can’t fit.

But… no woulda, shoulda, coulda games. Right? It is very hard when people tell me that I got a healthy and happy baby and that’s all that matters. Of course it matters. And of course I’m deeply in love with Ryan. But it’s not the ONLY thing that matters… it doesn’t change the fact that I missed out on giving birth… one of the most incredible, natural, amazing experiences of life. I missed it. And when they were prepping me for the c-section and I asked the nurse what my chances were of ever having a vaginal birth, she said I most likely never would.
I know that’s not true. But I’m pretty terrified of it. Just a few weeks ago I overheard the receptionist at my clinic say a woman had just died when her uterus ruptured during a VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section) and that my clinic doesn’t even take VBAC patients (no loss there, I hate my clinic).

Yes, I’ve heard of ICAN and I’ve visited their site. They have no chapters where I live… I need to look into it more, just haven’t had time.

Yes, I’m disappointed in myself. And my advice for others??? If you’re completely serious about having an all natural birth, I’d look at a birthing center (or homebirth).

But, if you’re planning on getting an epidural and going to the hospital… I’d recommend a doula. I feel like if we had one there, she would have been able to remember for me what we originally wanted. She would have been able to stand ground for us when we were exhausted and confused. Who knows, I could have denied the c-section and still ended up needing one later. But at least I would have tried. I was at 8cm.. so close.. and I didn’t try.

Also.. just know what to expect. Know how things work these days and that it’s very possible you end up in a c-section or end up trying to be talked into one. Know what pitocin is and what it does. Know what you want and write it down to have it by your side–in the heat of the moment, I basically forgot what I wanted or why. Have an open mind.

I researched so much.. I knew exactly what I wanted and didn’t want… and this is how it turned out. Anything can happen. I wish I had known that.

Some of you mentioned you had questions for me… I’d love for you to ask. Anything, really. It will help me to help you. If you’d prefer to ask privately, email me erdickey(at)gmail(dot)com
Thanks again for all the wonderful support, it’s greatly appreciated and extremely helpful.

My crazy idea

OK, I'll be the first to admit that I SUCK at keeping up with my blog! It goes right there with answering my phone, checking my email and... Shaving my legs. Sorry, readers. Anyhoo, I thought that since I'm getting such great resonse with my request for birth stories, I'd start host a birth story a week! I'm actually super excited about this so hopefully I'll be extra diligent to keep up! If you have a birth story you would like to share, please feel free to email it to me at Please include pictures!!! OH! And, I'm getting ready to try to change the color of my font! I've had a ton of people tell me that it doesn't show up well on their monitors. It will happen... Hopefully soon.... :-)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes...depression and anxiety???

Jericho at 3 days old. Me... Not exactly in baby bliss...

"God, please give me strength in what I know will be the most difficult, trying but glorious summer of my life..." -Excerpt from my notebook, June 1, 2009

Before I got pregnant, I knew I'd be a likely candidate for Postpartum Depression. Call it a hunch, feeling or just knowing myself really well. I am sort of a depressive, anxious person as is and change TOTALLY freaks me out. As a child, I had been known to become depressed over seemingly 'frivilous' changes. School ending. School starting. A new house being built in my neighorhoood. Switching bedrooms with my sisters.

I figured having a baby would be the perfect storm.

I felt as though I was pretty darn prepared for the arrival of Jericho. We knew so much about birth that I almost felt like I practically could have had Jaden be my midwife (midhusband?). I researched how to best physcially recuperate from birth. I knew depression could stem from lack of rest so I tried to simplify while pregnant. Looking back, I can think of 80 different things I should have done, but how the heck could I have known? I had my nursing station stocked with gliding rocking chair, water, books, breast pads and boppy pillow. I had my temporary diaper station set up on our dresser with disposables and a garbage sack for easy disposal. I had a VERY detailed postpartum plan (though I basically threw it out the window after Jericho was born) that included limited visitors for 2 weeks, pampering myself and basically hiding out in bed until I was ready to emerge from my cozy cocoon. My mom would stay for the first week. Jaden's mom would stay for the second. I had a giant Le Leche League magnet with their emergency phone number on my fridge.

For some reason, I never realized that there was a difference between "baby blues" and "postpartum depression". Baby blues effects about 80% of women right about the time our mature milk comes in and subsides around 2-3 weeks postpartum. It is believed to be triggered by the sudden drop in hormones. We get weepy. Emotional. Irritable. Feel trapped, anxious, terrified, nervous. They may feel little emotion when it comes to their new bundle of joy. Even apathy. Even though I had read about emotional turbulance after childbirth, I didn't realize this was such a normal occurance.

What baby blues looked like for me:

It happened less than 24 hours after Jericho was born. It was 10:10pm on Tuesday night. "Well, Jericho is just about one whole day old," my mom beamed. "Ugh. I don't even want to think about that baby..." I thought.

I felt nothing for Jericho except EXTREME paranoia that something awful was going to happen to him. I couldn't change his diaper because the sight of his unbilical cord dangling made me PANIC that he was in pain every time it moved (it wasn't). I couldn't stand the thought of him being hoisted up by his fragile legs to wipe his butt. I was so petrified and yet I felt no emotion for my precious baby. I was overwhelmed with the CONSTANT nursing on scabbed nipples that felt like they had went down a sand-paper slide (Jericho had a faulty latch), nightwaking and just the suffocating thought that I was responsible for this tiny, needy, helpless thing. My pelvis, thigh bones and back all ached from no sleep (and probably labor). I hated my life. I hated having to be the sole provider for my baby's food. I felt endlessly alone.

One thing I never came across in my research: The physical response a mama has to her fretting baby. His cries did something to every molecule of my body. I wish I could say it was a loving urge to hold and soothe my baby. Nope. It was more like every fiber within me yelling, "SHUT THAT THING UP!" I was petrified with every little sound that came from Jericho. I was afraid random grunts were going to turn into fusses and eventually cries which lasted for hours. Colic terrified me and I had no way of knowing how much a baby would cry. (Thank you, Lord, for the world's most relaxed baby. When I say cry, I should say fussed because to this day I think Jericho has only actually "cried" maybe 10 times. He's a mellow man!)

Suffocating is actually a great way to describe how I felt. I was suffocating. Stuck. Stuck in the dark with no conceivable way to even begin looking for the light at the end of the tunnel. I've heard it described as eating so much that you're absolutly stuffed and someone handing you a piece of cheesecake. You're so overwhelmed and overfull that the glory of the delicious cheesecake is lost on you.

"What a beautiful baby! You must be so happy!"
"Well if you like him so much, why don't you take him home?"

Because I tore from birth and my stitches came undone 3 days postpartum, I took a sitz bath every day to aid in the healing. Jaden would undress my war-ravaged, sagging, stretch marked, bloody, exhausted body, I would shuffle to the edge of the bath tub and figure out a way to step over the bathtub ledge and sit without letting my legs spread. I felt pitiful, devasted and broken. Finally alone, I sobbed desparetly every time I got into the bath. I wanted to die.

I have to tell you that even with all of the horror I felt, these feelings are considered 'normal' for a new mama. It's when they don't let up after 2-3 weeks where it starts to seep into full-blown post-partum depression.

Fleeting feelings of hope:

Around the middle of week 2 I was visiting Jaden at work when Jericho started to get hungry. By this time I was nearing being a nursing pro. I found a private area and started nursing. It was a decent day and for the first time I was taking a bit of joy in Jericho; talking and singing to him as I prepared to latch him on.

After maybe a half hour of solitude, I started to feel a bit lonely and got lost in my dark thoughts, again. Luckily, Jericho finished nursing. I burped him, changed him, put him up on my shoulder and was eager to get back in the company of people. HA! Jericho began squirming. That turned into fussing which turned into full blown crying. He was rooting around my shoulder. Hungry AGAIN?! "Are you flippin kidding me?!" I wanted to scream. I repeated the whipping out the boob (no song this time), latched him on and grudgingly kicked back for another half hour. Burped, changed, and got ready to emerge into people-hood. Nope! Jericho spit up down my front, apparently creating a gigantic void in his tummy and wanted to nurse again. This time for an hour. I was devasted. I didn't have my phone or even a book with me. I sat there feeling used and hopeless. I didn't feel as though I had what it took to live my life as a walking boob. I didn't even want what it took. I was broken all over again.

The INTENSITY of the horror I felt did, thankfully, let up. I think about week 3, right around the 4th of July. I still felt close to nothing for my baby. I still felt as though my life was over. The hopelessness and overwhelming exhaustion still governed my days. But my hormones seemed to level out and I was in, for the most part, stable condition.

With the help of my lactation consultant, nursing was starting to hurt less and I learned the proper use of a pacifier. And it was only after a good, full feeding. She showed me that when Jericho was full ("milk drunk" Haha), he arms dangled and his eyes were droopy. He was one satisfied boy! He still had a high desire to SUCK, however. So, we started giving Jericho a pacifier and it was a HUGE relief! (I lost the resolve to ONLY use it after a full feeding and I currently have an 9 month old who is hopelessly in love with him paci. Next baby will be different. I like to think so, anyway;-)

Postpartum depression and anxiety:

After the first few weeks my fears escalated. I kept seeing myself dropping him. Or lifting him so high his head would hit the blades of the fan. My dogs eating him. I could see horrible and gruesome things SO vividly. A friend who also battled PPD told me that she had this with her baby, too. She would pray and know that these visions were not of God. She would just let them go instead of obsessing about them. This worked beautifully for me. I am eternally thankful for this friend's support.

I felt a dullness and emptiness with my daily life. I still wanted OUT. I desparatly did NOT want to be left alone with Jericho. I felt no joy. No thankfulness. I had to sleep with the Office or Monk playing on my laptop to escape my thoughts and have company during the night nursings. I hated my house and being home. I felt as though a gruesome thing had happened there and being home brought a flood of sorrow. We went to stay with Jaden's parents for a couple of weeks when Jericho was a month old. I just had to get out. When I told my friend I felt this way, she empathically told me it was because a gruesome thing HAD happened in my house: my horrid feelings and emotions. My mind had linked them to my house and specifically, my bed. Just realizing that made a difference. She told me that to put an end to these thoughts, she had to rearrange her bedroom to make it seem new and uplifting again. I planned on doing that but just by planning and becoming aware I started to be ok being home again.

A new normal

After about two months, I realized that we needed to establish some sort of a pattern in our day. I wanted to be home and establish a good nap routine and perhaps some normalcy to my life. I started staying home for much of the day. My feelings of dread started to subside. At two months old, Jericho started sleep 7 (!) hour stretches. Nursing was beginning to be a breeze. My bones stopped hurting and I bannished my friends from The Office: Jim, Pam, Michael and Dwight from our bedroom :-). I still felt little for Jericho and had moments of sheer panic and terror, but things were definetly looking up. I was able to sing and talk to him. He started giggling and 'telling stories'. We had a trip to Arizona planned for the next month and I was ready to be somewhere else.

Nope. We're back to square one

Things got progressively better leading up to our vacation. But, two days before we left, Jericho woke up after 4 hours instead of 7. I thought it was just a crappy fluke but he did it the next night. And the next. In fact, 4 hour stretches became his LONGEST stretch. He rebelled against sleep the entire Arizona trip. All had gone to crap. I broke down again. I felt like I was under a dark cloud with the rain coming down like in the comics. I was hopeless. I became consumed with the "WHY?! Won't he sleep? and HOW?! Can I make him sleep?" After returning home, I POURED over every baby sleep book I could get my hands on. I was obsessed. Consumed with "baby sleep". I started keeping a "sleep journal" which essentially governed my life. I jotted down every nap, night waking, what I had eaten that day in a desparate attempt to find answers.

Meanwhile, Jericho's night stretches were decreasing. By the middle of October (he was 4 months old) he was sometimes waking up every 1.5 hours. He stopped sleeping during the day. He quit nursing to sleep. It took a forever long "Jig" of bouncing, twitching, butt patting and shushing to get that boy to sleep. Jaden, in a very kind attempt to give me a night off, let me sleep in the other room while he attended the baby. Jericho woke up 2 hours after being put down and Jaden tried for another 2 hours to get him back to sleep. He gave him baby tylenol and tried every rocking proceedure in our repetoire but nothing worked. That was all my mild mannered but emotinally and physically exhausted husband couldn't take it anymore. He ended up punching a hole in the wall.

I went ahead and nursed him back down and with my teeth tightly clenched, I took over my duties as nightwatch again. Alone. Since I didn't want to move my stuff out of the other room but had to be with the baby, I moved Jericho's cradle swing out of the living room into the room where I was. He slept 6 hours straight but it was lost on me. My nerves were so fried from the obsession, anger at my husband and resentment of my baby that I developed horrid insomnia. Night after night I watched the clock move in warped speed. I was so desparate for sleep that I couldn't sleep. I usually went to bed around 10,woke up at 1 or 1:30 and didn't fall back asleep until 7 or 8. The baby woke up at 8:30. The worst was when I had 8 solid hours of insomnia. I was a walking zombie. I was jittery and all my bones hurt. When I closed my eyes, the image of what I was just looking at was so burned into my retina that my eyes might as well have been open. I didn't have energy or care to eat. Somedays my 5 shot mocha would be all I would ingest until dinner.

We ended up moving Jericho to his own room because I was convinced his little noises were keeping me awake. It didn't work because then I became GLUED to the baby monitor. I had to turn the monitor all the way down, turn our fan on the highest speed for white-noise and make sure I went to bed before Jaden so I could fall asleep without the monitor. It may not have cured my insomnia but it felt good to not have to tip-toe in our own bedroom and panic over every snore out of Jaden. Jericho kept his own room.

And I kept reading those sleep books. "Let him cry-it-out" "babies should always go to sleep feeling as though everything's right in the world" "break the baby of pacifier and nursing to sleep" "babies are born with an innart need to suck. let them suck to sleep" " 4-6 month old babies need 12-14 hours of sleep" "4-6 month old babies need about 18 hours of sleep" Every book contradicted the last books. I was a mess.

I also became obsessed with "later". When he was born, "later" meant 3 months old. When Jericho's 3 months, life will be better! When he was 3 months, it was 6 months. I just wanted to fast forward through baby-prison and get to better. I obsessed with numbers. I had to know his exact age and where we were on the "later" scale.

I couldn't handle Jaden being gone. EVER. I wanted to beg him not to leave me alone. He didn't get it. Every Thursday he got home super late because he traded out mechanic work with a local tattoo artist. There I was absolutely miserble, not even getting my share of the necessity of sleep there he was all gung-ho about satisfieing his "tattoo itch". I seethed with resentment. Life stopped when he went to work and I wouldn't start breathing again until he got home. It wasn't fair. He resented my intense need for him. We got into many fights. He felt helpless and confused as to help me. He was overwhelmed and burdened.

Looking Up

Finally, by the grace of God, three breakthroughs happened right before Jericho turned 5 months. I had Bowen therapy done to ease "Anxiety and Insomnia," I realized Jericho DOUBLED his consecutive sleep hours when he slept in his cradle swing and I finally got my hands on the right book, "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby". Oh, and I started taking Motherwart for maternal anxiety and sleeplessness.

If you have read my birth story, you know I believe Bowen is highly responsible for my smooth delivery. This is the true testament to the amazingness of Bowen therapy: after one one hour session, BOTH Jericho and I slept 12 hours STRAIGHT. It was a turning point. My insomnia has never returned.

Even though I DO NOT agree with the Cry-it-out parts of "Healthy Sleep Habits..." I love this book. The author, a sleep scientist, beats the dead horse with, "DO NOT ever(!) let your baby become overtired!" After reading that book, I realized, that at precisely the same we traveled to Arizona, he became too alert and aware of the world to put himself to sleep for a nap! He went from sleeping anytime and anywhere to hardly napping at all. In fact, there were days where he simply did not nap. Or he would nap for 40 minutes only to be kept up for another 7 hours. He was horribly overtired. The extra cortisol running through his body made for turbulent nightsleep, as well. A nap routine and letting him sleep in his swing got immediate, amazing results!

After the Bowen, I felt restored and more peaceful. I still had days where I felt hopeless. I still felt a bit of a disconnect with my baby. I wanted to be thankful for him and love him the way parents do but he kind of just seemed like a pet to me.

This kind of brings me to where I am today. Jericho is 9 months and a week and a half old. I am okay. I am FINALLY madly in love with my little boy. I am finally thankful and feel as though my life is better with him in it. I think this happened when he was 6 months old. I just threw out my "sleep journal". His nighttime sleep habits have been hit-or-miss. We had a night a week ago where he woke up at 2am and just plain didn't go back to sleep. I feel like I can handle it now, though. I know it will end and I have a new perspective: time flies!!! He will be a year before I know it and I will honestly miss these days.

I still have a hard time being without Jaden. I still have anxiety. I'm starting to mellow out a bit ever since a few diet changes. I now take 2 tbs of cod liver oil daily. I'm also drinking Kefir and Kombucha and trying my best to avoid white sugar. Life has become 'normal' again.

Oh, I have days where I feel as though I am being held together by a thinning thread but I know myself well enough to know it will be OK again soon. And I know I have God's promise of joy as long as I'm looking up!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Cloth Diaper Wash Routine

OK, NOW the cloth diaperin' fun begins!

It's been 2 days since you pulled your freshly washed diapers out of the dryer and guess what? It's time again to empty the diaper pail! Here's how it looks in our house.

After a diaper change (yes, it is normal for Prefolds to feel heavy and WET.) we toss the diaper into a cheapo trash can with lid that we line with a Costco garbage bag. This 'diaper pail' sits right next to my changing station in Jericho's room.Very simple. Also, occasionally very stinky!

I try to wash diapers when the pail gets full, so every 2-3 days. This roughly coincides with running dangerously low on diapers but I still lose motivation occasionally (OK, a LOT. Right now I'm on day... Hmm.... 5? Don't follow suit! Your nose will thank you!).

After tossing each diaper into the wash (making certain I close any velcro and keep my dirty diaper covers out) I fill up the washer with cold water. It's better to have too few diapers than too many otherwise not everything will come out clean. OK, so, here is my wash routine in a nice, simply listed format:

*Cold wash with a small amount of detergent (about 1/2 manufacterer recomandations), 10 drops of Tea Tree Oil and about 1 Tbs of BioKleen Bac Out (an enzyme cleaner that helps eat the pee and poo)

*Hot wash with normal amount of detergent (at this point I toss in my diaper covers)

*Cold wash (no matter the load size, I select 'small' and 'light wash') with about 1/4- 1/2 cup of vinegar. This wash is to basically rinse out every last detergent sud. The PH of vinegar breaks up any lingering detergent. Before this wash, I pull out my diaper covers and line dry them.


*Open the dryer. Take a big whiff. If I smell anything (ANYTHING!) remotely stinky (usually a very faint ammonia smell), I know I failed miserably have to either add more detergent next time or add more vinegar to break up suds because I added too MUCH detergent! I still use the diapers as is but watch for rashing on Jericho's delicate behind.

OK. I will be the first to admit that finding a correct wash routine with the correct detergent has been a nightmare for me. It's like fitting pieces together in the world's smelliest puzzle. Jericho tends to get a lot of rashes so I have to be extra careful. Here are some pointers I've come across along the way.

*Do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT use ANY barrier cream without using a diaper liner. The cream is so good at creating a barrier on your baby's butt that it will also create a barrier causing your diaper to repell liquid. Not good. For a liner, I simple use cut up pieces of fleece. It also keeps your baby feeling nice and dry. (For a cheap, natural, lovely barrier cream, I use Lansinoh lanolin cream. Works better than Butt Paste and Desitin combined!! Also works great as chapstick although you'll probably want to buy separate tubes for butt/lips).

*Sun is your friend! If there is any staining or stinking, the sun will neutralize that. You will definetly want to find out what's causing your stinking, though.

*It is NOT normal for your baby's diaper to stink when fresh pee hit it. Fresh pee is sterile. The most likely culprit is too much detergent. Either use less next time or add and extra wash with or without vinegar.

*Do not use a detergent with dye, fragrance, "brighteners" or enzymes. OK, some people get away with using detergents with this stuff in them. There are hordes of CDing mamas who get away with using simple, old Tide. Some even claim that nothing has worked better. I tried Tide and it caused rashing. Right now I use Planet (about $9 at Fred Meyer) but am just waiting for the UPS guy to drop off my Charlie's Soap detergent. It's supposed to be the best for cloth and have amazing cleaning powers for your everyday laundry. And guess what? It's by far the cheapest detergent per load. I'll let you know how I like it!

*I hear water softness/hardness, water mineral count, chlorine additives (city water) and PH can all effect diaper washing. This is why each household has their own wash technique.

*Bleach. Some use it, some don't. I've used it once but after hearing about the carcinogen effect of it, vowed to never again. For disinfectant I use Tea Tree Oil combined with the Enzyme cleaner in my initial wash. I will freely admit that one wash with a tiny bit of bleach can cure a multitude of stink/rash problems. Go with your gut.

*To find out if you need the third wash as I do, during the last rinse during your hot cycle, open the washer lid and see if there's any visible soap suds. If there are, you either need to lessen the amount of detergent or add the third wash. I suppose you could always just add vineger to the last rinse of your hot cycle but you'd really be having to pay attention to your washer then to see when it starts it's last rinse. I'm too lazy.

*If you are truely considereing cloth diapering and find all of this info overwhelming (as I did) start with the simplest wash routine possible. You can trouble shoot from there. Here is how I started:

*Cold wash w/NO detergent
*Hot wash w/1/2 the amount of Planet

Once my Charlie's Soap gets here, I'm going to go back to my simple routine and work from there. If the diapers stink, the first thing I would do is add a bit more detergent to the hot wash. After that, perhaps TTO/enzyme cleaner or else just more detergent in the cold wash. I'll also be the first to admit that I'm sort of a novice at this wash thing. For some reason it confuses me. I guess it could be that too much detergent causes the same stink/rash issues as too little detergent and it's troublesome to narrow it down.

Now that I've made things sound sooo complicated, I want you to know that I actually ENJOY washing my diapers! I don't know what it is, it's just... fun!

Here's a great link to how other mom's wash their cloth diapers: