Archive for March, 2016

My Pregnancy: Week 33

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

Week 33Birth plans often conjure up images of doulas and skin-to-skin contact and other simple hopes of families-to-be. After a C-section, birth plans often point to VBACs with undertones of hoping to be redeemed from the original cesarean never wanted. I have nothing against VBACs and all the beautiful ways a baby can be birthed. I am here to include in that list of beauty the planned cesarean. For all first-time moms to be, I always encourage learning about a C-section and planning what one wants from that experience. My first birth cesarean experience was less ideal than my second, and I attribute partly to the hospital and also not being prepared for the possibility of a C-section with my first.

A cesarean often seems defined as something to come back from as opposed to something that simply is. My first was an emergency, and the remaining two are medically necessary. Many C-section moms feel need to give reason for another “medical birth,” as if they need to justify the wonderful entrance of their children into the world. Some mamas still feel the wounds related to what brought about that first cesarean. I hope that in thinking about a birth plan for a planned C-section mothers and families can feel joy, excitement, and peace with having a voice in the details of their child’s arrival.

I see terms like “family-centered” or “gentle” birth in reference to C-section births. Some hospitals and doctors do a better job than others. First, simply speak with your doctor (and possibly hospital) about what a cesarean birth can look like. In all honesty, most of mine isn’t written but communicated with my doctor in the weeks leading up to birth and in discussion with the nurses in the couple hours before I enter the operating room. In case of an emergency hospital staff likely aren’t reading paperwork, but having thought through these things allows my husband and me to advocate for our family.

Before birth and during surgery

Spell out your preference for drugs that won’t hinder breastfeeding (if you plan to nurse). For me this included explicitly saying I did not want a sedative as they gave me during the first birth. I was very drowsy and hazy in many memories after the birth of babe. I spoke with my doctor and anesthesiologist beforehand to let them know I wanted conversation about what they were doing. Some moms may prefer staying in the dark about all that “medical” stuff, but I found comfort in having that open line of communication during the procedure. You may want silence so baby only hears you and hubby, as far as possible. The ambiance of the room may include lighting and music, so let your preferences be known in your birth plan and with the medical staff beforehand. My hands were restrained for my first birth but I requested them not for my second.

You may even want to research types of stitching and other details of your cesarean related to your health and safety. The placement of your IV (hand or arm, left or right) might be of concern to you as you plan to nurse and hold your babe in the coming day(s). For this third and final birth, my plan also includes plans on tubal ligation and circumstances in which I would not want that to occur.


Many of these things may be the same as a vaginal birth, like keeping the cord attached for a longer period, no K or Hep related medicines administered, delayed bath, and more. Skin-to-skin allowances will vary by hospital, but consider if it can occur immediately with you, with daddy, in the operating room or as soon as in recovery. Make note for dad to cut cord if interested. For me, the biggest hope in my plan (aside from the “healthy birth” we all hope for) is to see my baby in all its gooey glory. First babe was taken immediately to the NICU and second came out a concerning shade of blue so I didn’t see him for several minutes.

Lowering the screen just before delivery is what I’ve most strongly discussed with my doctor. Remember to know what is allowed in terms of photography and ask if anyone is the room is able to assist with taking photos of baby and family immediately after birth.


We wanted baby with me or hubby at all times and wanted left alone as much as possible in those first few hours after birth for nursing and bonding without family, friends, or unnecessary medical interruption. Others may want to have a mother, sister, friend, or other significant person visit during this recovery time as only one person is usually allowed in surgery. I immediately wanted warm blankets as I uncomfortably shivered with both recoveries. After the immediate recovery and into the first full day, I also consider keeping the catheter in for the first night a big convenience and safety reassurance (we had evening births), but then I wanted to move forward in recovery to have it removed early so I could begin getting up and around in the light with assistance. Your plans for feeding, from formula to nursing on demand, can be outlined as well.

Consider scenarios that could occur, like baby in NICU for a short or extended stay, and how you will respond to meet your plan. For example, immediate access to pumping might help should baby be moved to the NICU. If baby is separated, consider outlining your stance on the use of pacifiers, other people holding baby, and other preferences you may have.

Annie is a mom of two boys, ages two and four. She enjoys the finer things in life, like compression socks and a full night’s rest.

Natural Toothpaste Options for Kids

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

Fluoride seems to be a really hot topic nowadays with so many people taking a very firm stance on whether you really need it or whether you should stay as far away from it as possible.

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There’s a lot of information out there about fluoride! According to an article by Dr. Mercola swallowing fluoride can have an adverse effect of children’s neurodevelopment and can cause damage to the brain. Personally, we have stayed away from it and have stuck with xylitol-based toothpastes.

We started using Spry toothpaste on a little finger brush when my daughter got her first teeth and the fabulous thing about it is that you don’t have to rinse it out, so you can completely avoid the battle of rinsing and spitting.

I’ve used fluoride-free toothpastes for myself for years but had never heard about xylitol until I bought that first toothpaste for my daughter. If you’re not familiar with it, here’s a quick little overview. Xylitol is a low-calorie, naturally occurring sugar substitute that actually has anticariogenic properties and some studies have shown that it can reduce the occurrence in children but it is still a pretty controversial ingredient- as is fluoride.

If you take a minute to look at what’s in most toothpastes, you’ll find a very long list including some things you probably can’t even pronounce. Just like with ingredients on the food I eat, I try to stay away from ingredients that I don’t recognize and can’t pronounce.

Another one of the ingredients I would keep my eye out for and stay away from is sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). According to the Natural Health Information Centre once SLS is absorbed into the skin it can mimic a hormone called oestrogen which may be responsible for many health problems, including menopausal symptoms, dropping male fertility, and evenfemale cancers such as breast cancer.

If you want to stay really natural you can even try making your own homemade toothpaste! Wellness Mama has several toothpaste recipes on her blog, including one that you can put into a squeezable container, which would be a great way to introduce homemade toothpaste since it’s in a familiar container!

Jacqueline Banks is a certified Holistic Health Counselor and online fitness coach. She works with women in all stages of motherhood, from mothers struggling with conception to those trying to get their grove back after pregnancy to ensure the best health and nutrition for both mom and baby.

Melissa and Doug Toys

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 6.00.18 PMI wish I was the genius who created the Melissa and Doug toy brand. I mean, moms, these toys are the cutest things ever. My children have numerous items and we have yet to be disappointed. The creative art toys, food play toys, and stackable snowman toy are by far my favorite Melissa and Doug items. Prepare to say, “Wow!” Here are some reviews of my favorite products.

  1. On the Go: Color Blast: My daughter is 3 and loves to color. She of course prefers markers over crayons. These coloring books come with the fun, magic markers. The color only appears on the paper pad provided. This means, no messy hands and no coloring on the walls. We have had the fairy design, and Johanna loved it. It kept her busy on long car rides and in restaurants while waiting.
  2. On the Go: Water WOW: These are also magical coloring pads. The trick here is that the markers only show color when water is added. Once the child has colored the picture with the magical pen, let it dry. Then, when dry the color disappears and your little one can color again. The only down side of these toys is the pens do leak a little, so be careful to not put too much water inside.
  3. Wooden Play Food: Moms, I can’t say enough about these sets. We started out with the slice and bake cookie set. Even my 1-year-old likes to play with the cookies. It comes with a hot pad, cookie sheet with velcro, play knife, play spatula, cookies, and sprinkle toppings. My kids can play with this for hours. Then, we got the Brew and Serve coffee set for Christmas. My daughter loves going with me to Starbucks, so now she feels like a big deal making me coffee with her own toy wooden Keurig. Recently, we purchased the Flip and Serve pancake set. Another cute food toy complete with a toy burner, plenty of toppings, and utensils. My only complaint about any of these toys is some parts are small, so be sure to check the ages. I don’t let my son play with the pancakes, due to the size of the toppings. I plan on purchasing more of these in the future. They provide hours of creative play for my kids.
  4. Snowman Stacker: My son loved the donut ring toys as a younger baby. Now that he’s a toddler, he’s moved on to this snowman. It is adorable. It still teaches little ones to put the rings on in order, but also it creates an adorable picture of a snowman in a scarf when placed on correctly. This toy is super sturdy and made of wood, as well.

So, as you can see, I could go on and on about how much I love Melissa and Doug toys. I am continually amazed with a new product I find. What products have you found that you love, moms?

Karyn Meyerhoff lives and writes in Northeast Indiana where she drinks pretend coffee and eats pretend cookies almost daily.

Dressing Your Post-Baby Body

Monday, March 28th, 2016

Dressing your post-baby bodyClothes shopping after baby is just…different. No matter if you still have baby weight or you already lost it all, your body is just different. I didn’t notice it as much after my first as I am aware of it after my third, and I realize part of that is age and time. But some of it is strictly baby-related.

For example, my feet are slightly bigger, by about a half-size. They are slightly wider at the forefoot. Not enough to change my shoe size, but enough to make some of my flats not nearly as comfortable or roomy as they once were. My shoulders are slightly broader, although my hips (?!?) don’t seem to have changed.

All these small changes have definitely changed how I shop for clothes. Not because I’m ashamed of my body, but simply because it’s different than what it used to be. Here’s how I have adapted.

  • Get a good bra. Seriously. If your bra sucks, nothing is going to look good on you. I am loving Coobie bras right now. They’re $20, washable, one-size, and don’t have underwire. If you need to start from square-one on bras, go to a professional fitting. Nothing is the same after baby, and that goes quadruple for The Girls.
  • Try everything on. I used to be able to eyeball items in my size and determine if it would suit me. Not anymore. Try everything on, unless you can afford to just never wear it.
  • Alter your clothes when possible. I just don’t fit into one ready-to-wear size neatly anymore. My bust is over in this size column, while my waist is waaaay over there, and then my hips are over here. I already knew how to sew, so I began to alter my clothes myself for a more tailored fit. It makes me feel better about how I look in the clothes I already have. If you don’t have access to a sewing machine, ask a friend who sews or ask your local dry cleaner. Alterations generally don’t cost much, and they are certainly cheaper than buying all-new clothing.
  • When you find something you like, buy a few. I used to like way more variety in my closet, but these days I find putting together a new outfit everyday kind of taxing. After dressing three little girls each morning, it’s no wonder why! So now, when I find something I like, I buy a few in different colors. It saves time (and usually money) and then I have things in my closet I know fit well and look good, instead of the one shirt I want to wear over and over because it’s the only thing I feel confident in.

Fashion-wise, I understand I am kind of in a rut. But I also understand that this a season. There will be a time when my three girls are only TOO HAPPY to pick out and shop for their own clothes and will not want my help at all, and then I’ll have that tiny bit of mental energy it takes to have fun shopping for and dressing myself once again. But until then, I’m making do just fine.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three. She lives and writes in Oklahoma City. 

My Pregnancy: Week 32

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

my pregnancy week 32Dear Woman in Target who looked at me but didn’t say anything,

This morning I woke to a deep anxiety that is wholly unlike me. I felt the anxiety shaking beneath my skin. It started small, almost unnoticeable. With every move of my preschooler wanting to sit near me, on me, and with every call from my toddler to “help” or “get,” I felt the trembling of my spirit. I already needed space and quiet. I took a deep breath to get ready, 3 whole minutes alone, and that’s when the little one inside me decided to kick and hiccup. I am never alone these days and yet the isolation was palpable in this moment.

Pregnancy effort is setting in; I find myself getting a little tired and worn more easily. I bundled up our boys for two simple errands. We trudged to the car after all the effort entailed in getting a toddler and preschooler ready for a cold morning out. Then my toddler fell backward out of the minivan and hit his head. After consoling and cuddles in the backseat of the minivan we decided to trudge forward. In focusing on my toddler I forgot the way my preschooler will take on other people’s pain sometimes.

I thought we were ok at the barber until tears returned to our toddler and came new to my preschooler. The sweet face of my toddler getting his hair cut, looking in the mirror and visibly trying to calm his quivering lip touched my trembling heart. I was too distracted in coping myself that I struggled to be patient with my preschooler who was also upset—upset because he worried about his “long” hair getting cut and sad that his brother was sad. The barber worked steady and quick. I took great appreciation that no one else was at the salon so early in the day.

So when we made it to Target and I had to go into the toy area for birthday gifts, I was nervous. My kids do a great job in this arena usually but today we’re all on edge and buying toys for other children. As we walked through the video section I eyed you, one row over. As my boys pointed out dinosaurs and cars and “what’s that mommy” with continued, endless conversation I saw you watch us and smile. We even came near you and I was waiting, anxiety in my throat, for you to make a comment about how fast time goes or how I must cherish it now as if this sweet moment didn’t come with the sustained efforts of the rest of the day.

Your had a nostalgic look for your little ones, or the ones you wish you had, or your grandkids near and far away. I even made eye contact with you for a moment. You smiled, looked again at the boys, and moved on. In your kind silence you offered me your perspective that I could imagine. More importantly you offered me space. You probably saw cute. I saw the anxiety shaking beneath my skin, the sore spot on my son’s head, and the tender edge in my preschooler’s voice calling for nap. It’s been a long morning.

All day I tried to identify it. The best I came up with is the recent sense of overwhelming around me. I’m pregnant which, I’m told, involves all sorts of hormones. We’re painting and re-organizing closets in preparation for baby and spring which will immediately follow. I’m also processing last year’s photos and videos before I fall behind once baby comes. And there are those 400+ links I’ve “saved” on Facebook that I really do want to get to even if they are from two years ago. Don’t forget the recent deluge of celebrations and parties and tasks to accomplish and commitments to meet. All these sorts of things sit like a cloud close above me or under my skin today it seems.

Thank you for not asking me to cherish today. While I cherish every day, reality looks a little different than a Hallmark movie sometimes.

Annie is a mom of two boys, ages two and four. She enjoys the finer things in life, like compression socks and a full night’s rest.