Sunday, December 18, 2011


Since becoming a mama, I have thought a lot about the traditions I want to pass along to Hannah.  After moving out of my parents house I didn't really do much to mark the passing of the seasons or the various holidays mainstream North America chooses to celebrate.  I don't consider myself a Christian, or a member of any particular faith really.  It seems to me that most of the "Christian" holidays we celebrate have become fairly removed from their original meanings anyway.  If I am going to celebrate something, I want it to have a purpose.  I want it to have meaning.  I do not want to celebrate consumerism and capitalism.  I don't want to feel pressured into buying things or giving things to show people I care about them.  But I would like to celebrate some things.  I would like to pass along traditions to the next generation.  One thing I would like to do is recognize the winter solstice.  Light returning is a good thing.  I attended a solstice celebration a few years back at a friends place.  We gathered for a pot luck and then walked a candle lit labrynth.  Everyone wrote down things they wanted to bring into their lives with the returning light, and also things they wanted to let go of.  Then we had a bonfire and those who wanted, put their papers into the fire.  It was a really simple, yet meaningful way to mark the day.  We sang and shared each others company, ate good food and set intentions.  This year we are in the middle of moving so the holidays have sort of been put on the back burner.  However, I intend to mark the solstice, even if it is only me, Hannah and a small fire.      
It's hard to believe, but Hannah is two!!  Nothing shows the passing of time quite like a growing baby.  She is very talkative now, currently sitting beside me showing me pictures of potties in a magazine and telling me about them.  "Oh my god, it's a duck potty mama!"  Oh my god mama, you need to check your language! 
Speaking of potties though, Hannah is totally down with the potty!  She hasn't been wearing diapers at all since about 14 months.  However, we still had the occasional accident, usually when we were travelling or if I wasn't there to make sure she had the opportunity to use the potty.  But for the last couple months she has been really good about telling me when she needs to go.  So now that I am on the other side of all this potty training/elimination communication/diaper free business, I am able to look back on the experience and I must say, it was totally worth the extra effort!!  I was thinking about it the other day and I think I only changed about 20 or 30 poopy diapers in Hannah's whole life!  I honestly can't imagine having done things any other way.  It seemed daunting in the beginning, trying to be diaper free with a new born, but I am so glad I stuck with it.  The awareness that you develop bonds you with your baby in a more complete way.  I see other mama's really struggling with potty training their 2 and 3 year olds while for us it was such a natural transition, Hannah had been potty training since birth.  So to any mama's out there who are considering going diaper free, or who are feeling overwhelmed by it....flow with it.  Things get easier.  Don't put too much pressure on yourself if you have accidents.  Remember you are doing this for your baby and it is such a gift to them...and in the long run, you too! 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Birth Stories

When I was pregnant, reading other women's birth stories was very empowering for me.  Reading about their experiences with child birth helped me mentally prepare myself and build up confidence for my own labour.  I was having my baby at home so I especially appreciated stories from other women who chose homebirth.  Their words helped confirm that having a baby at home was the gentlest, most mother/baby friendly way to welcome a child into the world.  And safe, and normal!  After Hannah was born I wrote down her birth story.  By writing it out I was able to reflect on the experience and preserve it for myself and Hannah so as she gets older I will be able to share it with her.  I also hope that by sharing it with others, it will help empower labouing mama's the same way all those birth stories I read helped me. 

Hannah Luna's Birth Story
On Halloween morning I woke up feeling a little different.  I was having mild contractions and they were immediately pretty close together.  The contractions weren't too intense and I remember at the time thinking perhaps I would be one of those lucky women with a quick easy labour.  I'm tough, if mild mannered ladies can have babies I could do it no sweat!  I called our midwife Lori at around 2pm.  We were pretty far out in the country and Lori was a good couple hours drive from our place.  Plus the weather was crazy!  It had been super windy and rainy all morning.  In the afternoon we had had a couple of breaks in the weather though and we had seen two rainbows, one on the other side of the lake, and the other in the field just across the road from the house.  Cheshire and I thought these must be good omens, the baby was approaching.  Lori said she saw a rainbow on her drive up to the farm too.  My contractions continued and were becoming stronger and stronger.  I decided to take a bath and that's when Lori arrived.  The first time Lori checked, I was about 1 1/2-2 cm dialated.  Hours later, I was still only 2 cm dialated.  That was incredibly frustrating!  I was getting tired and all I wanted to do was call a time out and lie down and take a break.  But my body wouldn't let me.  At some point I came to terms with the fact that I was not able to control the situation.  The baby was coming and I had to just be present and focus on getting me body to open up so the baby could come out.  Once the baby was born, I'd be able to rest.  Cheshire had blown up the birthing pool and it was set up in the living room.  We had a nice fire going in the woodstove.  I spent some time in the birthpool and it felt nice for a while.   But mostly, I wanted to be standing and moving around.  Gravity was making a lot of sense to me...I wanted to get that baby to move down and out.  Cheshire was with me pretty much the whole time supporting me emotionally and physically.  I leaned on him a lot and found his presence and touch helped me feel grounded.  He was supportive but stayed fairly quiet and just held space with me.  This worked really well for me.  We had agreed to have a midwifery student come and be present at the birth.  Her name was Leanne and she was great.  She was very calm, gentle and supportive.  I really appreciated how the midwives handled the whole labour.  They monitored me and the baby to make sure everything was progressing well and otherwise, they allowed me my space and just kept encouraging me through the whole labour.  Finally, after hours of intense contractions, something shifted and I began feeling a strong urge to push.  It amazed me how my body really took over and it felt like I was just along for the ride.  By this time I was 8 cm dialated so that was encouraging...finally some progress.  My water broke while I was sitting on the toilet, which was convenient!  There was some baby poop in it so the midwives were a little concerned, but the baby's heart rate was still slow and she didn't seem distressed.  Plus she was already sitting really low so Lori didn't think it would take too long for me to push her out.  Pushing was incredibly intense but finally, after all that waiting, it was nice to have something moving fairly quickly.  It took about an hour to get Hannah's head out.  I think I had my eyes closed for most of it, just trying to stay in it and focusing on opening up and the baby coming out.  When her head came out I reached down and could feel her, which was totally surreal.  Leanne said that when her head came out, one of her shoulders came out at the same time.  And all of the sudden there she was, a little person.  I couldn't really believe it.  Hannah started to cry on her own right away, really loud and clear.  My dad (who was downstairs with my mom) said when they heard the baby's first cry he had looked out the window and the sky had totally cleared and there was a big bright moon and all the stars shining brightly.    The placenta came out easily and was nice and healthy, about the size of our little baby.  Cheshire got to cut the umbillical cord and Hannah immediatley started searching for food.  After I had held her for a bit, Sarah, our second midwife, took Hannah to check her out.  She was 7lbs. 10oz, with 10 fingers, 10 toes and everything in its right place.  As it turned out, Hannah was a Halloween trick, and she was born November 1st at around 5am.  The whole birth experience gave me a much greater respect for women!  I learned that our bodies, no matter how much we think we have control over them, are programmed to perform incredible feats.  Letting go and allowing hundreds of thousands of years of evolution guide the way is incredibly humbling and gave me a greater appreciation for the miracle of life.  Being able to be home for my birth and able to labour in my own way was also something that I continue to be grateful for.  And I continue to be thankful for the lovely little lady who made me into a mama.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Carrying your baby

The thing about babies is...they can't walk.  At least not right away.  This means all the upwardly mobile people in the baby's life will be providing them with transportation.  I'm not opposed to strollers, I just knew that for me, carrying Hannah would be much easier.

While I was pregnant I read a great book that I highly recommend (even if you aren't pregnant or planning on having kids) called "The Continuum Concept" by Jean Liedloff.  Liedloff is an advocate of attachment parenting and through her studies arrived at the theory that when a baby is born it has certain expectations based on how we have evolved as a species.  One of these "expectations" is that it will be carried by its primary caregivers.  Strollers and fancy baby carriers and baby "gear" in general, haven't been around for all that long.  For thousands of years, mothers have been carrying babies.  Carrying your baby allows you to experience a closeness with them that you won't have if they are out of reach.   In my experience, there are lots of benefits to baby carrying.

Where Jean Liedloff enthusiasts may reccommend carrying your baby "in arms", there are lots of different baby carriers that allow you to keep baby close and have your hands free.  A few friends of mine reccommended the Ergo Baby Carrier ( to me and although it was one of the more expensive options, it has been well worth it!  My mom and my aunt bought it for me and I recieved it about a week after Hannah was born.  Hannah was one of those little babies who didn't like to be put down.  She always wanted to be held and I was starting to get frustrated that I wasn't able to get anything done cause every time I put the baby down she would get upset.  Well, who can blame them really?  They don't know what's going on!  When you put the baby down they don't know you're coming back.  Plus, they have so much to learn, what better way than watching mama go about her day, safely nestled up against her.  Being able to carry Hannah around with me as I made dinner or washed laundry, or went on a walk made life flow very nicely.  We'd talk about the veggies as I cut them, and she'd quietly stare up at me...lovely times.  When she got tired she would lay her head against my chest and sleep.  I found that going out, whether it was to a party or grocery shopping, Hannah was often the most calm, at home baby when she was in her carrier.  The other moms in the grocery store would be trying to push shopping carts or bulky strollers down the isles with crying babies and Hannah and I would glide right through.  And again, when she got tired, she could just take a little nap.  When she got a bit bigger I was able to nurse her in the carrier as well.  This was great for periods where we had trouble napping.  I would take her for a walk and nurse her to sleep and bring her home and put her to bed.

Of course not all babies will like being carried.  Do what is right for you and your baby.  Also, try different styles of carriers.  I tried a sling first and neither Hannah nor I were comfortable using it.  I also think that if you use a carrier earlier on it helps so the baby gets comfortable and feels safe and secure in it.  Try using it for short periods around the house first.  The more practice you and the baby get with it the better.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Cozy baby feet...naturally!

I recently made a pair of sweet little felted alpaca baby booties.  They are so soft and warm I wish I had a giant bootie to crawl into and hibernate!  The soles are made with sheepskin scraps my mom picked up for me on a trip a while back.  The felted alpaca wool comes from some friends in St. Catharines who have a small family farm.  Alpaca fibers are hollow I'm told, making them extra warm.  Wool helps to regulate baby's temperature and wicks away moisture so feet stay dry and cozy.  Soft soled baby shoes help with natural walking development and healthy foot growth.  Seems to me, when it comes to baby footware, the choice is natural!

The design for these is really simple and they can be made with felt for the bottoms too.  I just cut out 4 sides and 2 bottoms and blaket stitched them all together.  With the seams all on the outside, they should be extra comfy on sensitive little feet.  There are tons of other great, all natural, wool baby booties on Etsy (my fave handmade site online).  Here are a few others I thought were pretty cute!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Never Ending Teething Marathon

So Hannah is almost 15 months old now.  She got her first teeth right as she turned 4 months.  I've been told when you get your teeth is determined by genetics.  If you were an early teether, chances are your baby will be too.  My mom says I cut my first teeth at 3 months!  Anyway, we are now awaiting the arrival of Hannah's first year molars....all 4 at once!  And she has literally been teething for MONTHS!  One finally came all the way through last week but the other three are just cutting.  As with everytime she gets a new tooth, we've had all kinds of teething "side effects":
runny nose
mild fever
loss of appetite
increase in sleeping and nursing
super clingy
We have our good days and our not so good days.  Sometimes it's like my happy silly little baby has turned into a monsterous mega brat and I wonder if she will ever turn back to her sweet self.  I have to remind myself that she is dealing with something new and difficult and she is not trying to drive her mama crazy.  Here are a few natural teething suggestions that I have heard.  Some I have tried, others I just am passing on...
Homeopathic teething medicine-I'm not sure how well the medicine actually works, but the disraction of giving it to Hannah helps for sure
Clove Oil-rub a little on baby's gums to help numb them
Vanilla Extract-also a distractor and supposed to help numb gums if you rub a little on them
Frozen Beans-We tried this recently and she seemed to enjoy chewing on the beans, she really likes beans in general.  Make sure to supervise of course!
Center of a pineapple or Mango-Haven't tried this but would give baby a sweet, hard thing to chew on.
Pita bread-I've given Hannah a smaller peice of chewy pita bread and she gummed it up for quite a while.  And I have heard niacin (which is in bread) helps with teething.  Has anybody else heard this?  Couldn't find any info about it.
Amber teething necklace-Haven't tried it but apparently, amber is a natural analgesic and if worn in close contact with the baby's skin, the natural oils from the amber have a calming effect.  Has anybody had any luck with these?

Anybody got any others to add??  What has worked for you?

It takes a grow a baby

So you're gonna have a baby...

Having a baby is a unique experience for each family and individual.  Some people plan every aspect from conception to possible universities their child will attend.  Others, not so much.  I had always thought that someday I might have kids, but had never really planned when.  So when I found out I was pregnant, there was a certain period of adjustment that I had to go through in order to get used to the idea of "someday" coming so soon.  Although my pregnancy was unplanned, it was not unwanted.  I decided right away that if I was going to welcome a child into my life I would make it a positive experience from the start.  I also decided that I would make the most of my last nine months of baby-free life.  I would visit friends, go to festivals and parties, and treat myself to delicious, healthy food to nourish my body and the little life it was growing.  It was great!  I was lucky to have an easy pregnancy which made all of these things possible.  My belly was like having a special V.I.P. pass.  People offered me seats, insisted I move ahead of them in line ups, brought me food and drinks, and were eager to share well wishes and pass on love for the baby.  I know some people prefer to maintain a certain bubble of personal space around them through pregnancy, and this should be respected.  However, if you are open to recieving attention (sometimes of the hands on variety) from friends and even strangers, go for it.  For me, the positive encouragement I recieved helped me get more excited about welcoming the baby.  And honestly, I think Hannah felt all the love that was passed onto her in utero because she was such a gentle mellow soul when she arrived.  I believe children don't just belong to their immediate family.  There's the old saying, "It takes a village to raise a child."  All of us, the greater human family, play a part in each others lives.  If you are lucky enough to be in the role of a mother or a father you have the special task of caring for, and guiding a new soul to find their own place in the world.  Of course you should respect parents and their wishes for their children, but as parents, we should recognize the important role others play in our children's lives.  And this role can begin before a child is born by welcoming the sharing of love and positive energy from others.