My Baby Valentine

I am just getting back into blogging again after a long break. My baby boy  finally arrived on Valentine’s Day and will be 5 months old this week. My husband will have a hard time topping this sweet Valentine’s Day gift. Miles was born after two very short hours of labor (if you don’t count the month of easy prelabor), weighing 9 lbs 2 oz (my biggest baby of the five) and having a head full of thick, downy, dark brown hair.

He was in such a hurry to get here that he came out without bursting his bag of water first and stuck his head through the looped umbilical cord. No worries though, our doctor is awesome and took care of it quickly. Since Miles came so fast, I didn’t get to experience the full benefits of having a doula but I am so glad that I had one. Christy, with A Balanced Birth, was very knowledgeable and supportive. I highly recommend a doula, whether you are having your first baby or your fifth.

Daddy got to meet Miles, by way of webcam, immediately after he was born. He was in the process of redeployment and was able to get home four days later. Miles took right to nursing without any difficulty and reached 16 lbs before he was 4 months old. Now, instead of hearing “Look at that hair!”, we hear “Look at those thighs!”


Getting Ready for Baby

As I am expecting child #5, I figured out a long time ago that most of the things that you think you need with your first child are really not necessary. I have whittled my baby needs list down to mostly essentials with a few “nice to have, but don’t really need” items.

Of course, by breastfeeding exclusively we won’t need any of the bottle-feeding paraphenalia, but I would like to make my own nursing coverburp cloths, and bibs. A nursing pillow, like a Boppy, is great to have too. Nursing also requires a few good nursing bras and a stack of nursing pads (store-bought or home-made). By not starting solids until at least 6-8 months, I can get by with a booster seat at the table. And I love my Vita-Mix for making my own healthy baby food.

Since we co-sleep, we don’t need any nursery decor or furniture, just our Arm’s Reach mini co-sleeper and some waterproof pads for our bed. A changing table just seems like a waste of money and precious space in our full house, especially when it’s so easy to change baby on the bed or floor. I have made each boy their own baby blanket and this time I’m going to make a flannel rag quilt.

I absolutely love wearing my babies because it makes my life so much easier and is good for them, so I definitely have to have my Maya Wrap baby sling. I also have found it fairly simple to make my own pouch carrier and have considered making a wrap carrier. If I get carried away, I may even attempt a mei tai carrier. My husband and I both prefer using a baby sling carrier over a plastic infant carrier/car seat, so we went for an infant-to-toddler Britax car seat.

For baby’s bottom, I use Seventh Generation diapers because they are chlorine-free. I use the subscription through to get an extra 15% off and they deliver them to my door! I have tried a few different cloth diapers before but I am really interested in trying the all-in-one, one-size cloth diapers this time. Of course, by going the cloth route, we would also need a diaper pail, liner, wet bag for outings, and (not necessary, but handy) a diaper sprayer. But in the end, it would still save us money over using disposables exclusively for 2-3 years. But if I don’t jump on the cloth diaper train, I won’t beat myself up over it. For the occasional diaper rash, I depend on Earth Mama Angel Baby Bottom Balm. It is awesome!

As for dressing babies, I prefer simple cotton onesies and sleepers for the first several months. The little 2-3 piece outfits in the stores are adorable but just don’t look practical or comfortable for tiny babies. I did develop a fondness for the soft-soled leather shoes like Robeez and ShooShoos and I recently ran across Bugaloos, which are only $15. But I’ve already started working on making similar cloth baby shoes using this pattern. They are easy to make, inexpensive, and I can make them in an unlimited variety of colors and patterns.

I do like to use a bouncy seat for keeping baby close and entertained while I’m busy cooking or doing chores. And some type of baby bath tub is necessary, along with a natural baby wash, like Burt’s Bees or California Baby. For play time, we like simple wooden or cloth toys and try to avoid unsafe plastics and battery-operated things. Babies usually prefer a lap, a smiling face, and whatever big people “toy” is handy anyway.

Babies only need a fraction of what the baby product marketers would have you believe. Fill their bellies, keep them clean and cover their bottoms, hold them safe in your arms, and babies will be happy (most of the time!).

Confidence in Childbirth

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Labor  n.  Physical or mental exertion, particularly for some useful or desired end; toil; work.  — v.i. To suffer the pains of childbirth; be in travail.

To date, I have had two medicated births and two natural births. There is definitely a difference during and after for mother and baby. What I learned from experience and research is that how you think about labor and birth will largely determine the outcome. If you listen to every birth horror story and believe the drama you see on television, then you will probably be filled with anxiety and fear when you think about your little one’s impending birthday. Most women in our culture have been led to believe that childbirth is something horrible and is best managed with drugs. Although you will experience pain during labor, it can be more easily handled if you are prepared for the stages and understand what your body is doing at those times. Fear and anxiety will increase your level of pain by working against your own body. Your body was designed for carrying and giving birth to babies. Women all over the world have been having babies for thousands of years and most have done it without medication. They have relied on the wisdom and teaching of other women who have had experience in giving birth and have learned to be aware of the natural rhythms of their bodies during labor. Having confidence in your body’s ability and being mentally prepared will help you to have a more positive birth experience.

That being said, there are no guarantees that you will have the birth you planned. Complications can arise on occasion and when they do, it is a blessing to have trained professionals available to help. But by being informed, you can be aware of your options and make informed decisions about the situation.

There is a lot to be covered regarding natural childbirth, so much that I couldn’t do it justice in a short blog post. So I’ll just give you some places to start for your own research. And I’ll leave you with my favorite advice: Be informed, be informed, be informed. Trust your God-given motherly instincts. Ignore negative comments and stories from people who have never had a natural birth. And remember that “birth is a natural process, not a medical procedure.”


Myth #783 – Birth is Scary

The Confidence Factor

Birthing Naturally – Is It for Me? – Benefits of natural childbirth

How to Have Natural Childbirth in the Hospital


Birthing Naturally

Giving Birth Naturally – “Natural childbirth empowers women.  It instills self-confidence.  But this is not why women choose it.  They are not trying to prove their worth or be martyrs.  It’s not about them at all.  It’s about making the safest, gentlest choices for the well-being of their child.” (from website) 

The Natural Family Site

Recommended Reading:

Active Birth: The New Approach to Giving Birth Naturally

The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth

Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way

The Christian Childbirth Handbook

The Birth Partner: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, & All Other Labor Companions

The Business of Being Born (DVD)

Wear your baby and other advice

While shopping tonight, I shared an aisle with a couple that appeared to be shopping for baby stuff. So, of course, being the sociable person that I am (read: introvert turned extrovert when it comes to talking about things I’m passionate about, like babies, homeschooling, etc.), I struck up a conversation with them. They are expecting their adopted daughter to be born next month and were getting ideas. Needless to say, I did what any experienced mom of four would do…I gave them advice. I’m sure that they have had no shortage of advice, but maybe mine was different than the rest.

My first recommendation was to get a baby sling and wear that baby. The man asked if they should get one like on the shelf nearby and I quickly said no, that they are mass-produced and the manufacturer seems to think that parents have to have all kinds of buckles to carry a baby safely. They also are not the most comfortable and the baby grows out of them too soon. I mentioned briefly a few of the benefits of babywearing such as content babies, babies who sleep through shopping trips, bonding, especially with adopted babies, and social development. I also said that riding in a baby sling was better for baby than hanging around in a bucket-style car seat and that they could save money by skipping the bucket altogether.

Even celebrities wear their babies.

Even celebrities wear their babies.

That turned the conversation to car seats, so I walked them over to that aisle and told them about the highly rated, infant-to-toddler Britax Marathon, which we have. Yes, it costs more, but I think it is worth it since you only buy one seat instead of two or three by the time they are four years old. It claims to hold a child up to 65 lbs, but in reality, by the time your child reaches four, they probably won’t want to sit in the “baby seat” anymore. That is just my opinion, of course.

Levi has the safest place in the van.

Levi has the safest place in the van.

After that, my introverted nature compelled me to apologize for being so forward as to offer advice to strangers, but they were appreciative and said they were tempted to put me to work making their wish list. I smiled politely and waved goodbye because if I hung around, I would probably end up telling them about chlorine-free diapers, making their own organic baby food, soft-soled shoes, co-sleeping, homeschooling….

What baby needs

Babies have very basic, yet specific needs that are best met by the simplest means.  Unfortunately, today’s society is technologically-driven and fast-moving. Parents are easily caught up in the quest for convenience, the trendiest new baby device, or the hippest parenting advice.

Babies need warm arms to hold them.

Babies need warm arms to hold them.

Your baby needs your warm, comforting touch. He needs to hear your voice to learn language and see your face to learn emotion. She needs for you to respond to her cries and coos to learn trust and how to communicate. He needs you to stay close and pay attention to give him confidence and to keep him safe. Your baby needs you. Not a stimulating mobile to stare up at from a lonely crib. Not a plastic control center with 20 activity stations. Not a bucket seat that takes them from house to car to store and back without ever being unbuckled. Not even a Super Baby Genius video that teaches them Greek.

Quite often, we are the ones attracted to the bright lights, busy colors, and happy music of all the baby contraptions and we think that they will make our baby happier, smarter, safer, sleep better, etc. Or that they will make things easier, more convenient for us. But, truth be told, they probably just make the big companies richer, make our homes seem smaller, and weaken the bond between parent and child. Don’t misunderstand, some of them are useful in moderation, but it’s very easy to let those plastic things get too much quality time with your little one. Nothing can replace you. If you were stranded on a desert island with your baby and there wasn’t a toy in sight, your child wouldn’t miss them because you are his “favorite thing”.