Friday, April 27, 2012

Potty Potty Potty

  Okay let me give updates on everything.

Ceaghan is his undies!
    Ceaghan is doing great with potty training. We introduced these cute little underwear with his favorite characters. We assumed that this would be a good idea and that he would do even better due to not wanting to pee on them. However it slightly backfired. He was holding his urine for a very long time until he uncontrollably leaked some out and then would try and run to the potty. We would ask him if he had to go and he would get really angry and yell "NO!" We had to make him realize that if he took them off to go potty that he COULD put them back on. He doesn't wet while napping or sleeping at night and is getting somewhat used to the underwear. We still have accidents but not often. He really surprised us last night while taking a bath. He asked twice to get out of the tub to go pee on the toilet! I just assumed he would pee in the tub if he had to go, but he really understands now that the toilet/potty is where you go.
Tummy time!
  As far as how EC is going, it's even surprising me how well its going! Last time I was talking about how we were just learning her cues and patterns and that it was barely part time at that point. Well now it is definitely a full time thing. I just cant go back to letting her sit in a diaper. Sure we do have misses sometimes but I am still aware of her needs and making a conscious effort, so I say that is full time. If I was putting her in a diaper part of the day and just ignoring her cues and letting her "fill" it up then I would say that is part time. I have even been changing her out during nighttime. She doesn't usually pee while sleeping. She will wake up to nurse and have a full bladder. She fusses a lot and then releases it. I am trying to figure out the best way to catch it. Right now I will have her in prefolds and a belt and change them out. Its pretty easy because she only wakes up every 4 hours or so and after latching back on, goes right back to sleep. The biggest problem is that I dont usually wake up all the way, so then I forget to change it out. I just switch boob sides and drift back to sleep. I have found that during the day she really has a toilet preference. I have also noticed that usually when I have to go, she has to go. We sit on the toilet together ( I sit in the back of it and have her sitting between my legs) and as soon as I go, it cues her to go. She will go in our little potty bowl but doesn't seem to like it as much as the regular toilet. I think because its not as comfortable. Her potty bowl has a plastic edge that must be bothering her. We seem to have gotten into a rhythm and we dont have many misses now. It is really annoying having to snap on and off her diapers, so I have ordered some trainers and in the mean time I like to have her in a prefold/belt or I use those bloomers that you get with dresses with a cotton doubler inside to catch 1 miss if it happens. My mindset has changed so much that I dont think I could go back to doing diapers full time. This is going so well and its awesome!
Hey you!
  I have been doing the vitamin D regimen for 3 weeks now. I take my pill every morning and I feel alert and normal. I have noticed a few pounds of weight loss but nothing significant yet. At least I am not gaining anymore! The biggest thing I have noticed is that I have a normal appetite now and I actually am satisfied for a duration of time after eating. It wasn't like this at all before, I could eat large amounts, constantly throughout the day and never feel full or satisfied. I always felt hungry and constantly thought about food. I knew this was happening but could not control it. I hope this normal appetite stays after I am done with the supplement regimen.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Our first time going out while practicing EC

Cesilee wearing a receiving blanket flat and headband belt
   I wanted to write out a little update on how EC is going. We ventured out of the house for the first time since we started and I am still amazed at how it went.  Cesilee and I went to our local ICAN (international cesarean awareness network) chapters April meeting. She was asleep on daddy while I got things ready to leave and then woke up when we needed to leave. I offered her the potty but she did not go. We put a diaper on her and I assumed that she would pee in it on the way to the meeting. She got upset in the car and was fussing and I thought, "Yep, she just went" but when I got to the meeting (late but I got out of the house!) her diaper was dry. I set down my bag, said "Hi" and took her to the restroom. She was doing the pee dance. (its like a wiggle and a certain fuss) so I took her in the stall, removed her dry diaper and put her on the toilet, the opposite direction so her feet were planted towards the back. I cue'd her and she immediately went poop and pee! Then she smiled and I wiped her and put her dry diaper back on and headed into the meeting. She was nursing but then started fussing again after about 20 minutes or so. I took her back to the restroom and she peed again! I was so surprised at how much faster and easier it seemed using the toilet like this. Then we headed back and 30 minutes later she made the poop face and I was in the middle of a conversation and missed it. She loudly pooped in her diaper and everyone laughed. Oops! But despite this miss, I am so happy with how it went being out for our first time. She really does seem to have control and waits for her "potty opportunity" to eliminate. I was completely skeptical before and now that I am experiencing  this for myself, I am amazed!
Ceaghan "reading" Cesilee a story while on the potty!
  This morning I realized that she can sit on the on toilet potty seat if I hold her up. My timing was off though and although we sat there for awhile, she ended up eliminating into a prefold on my lap 2 minutes later. But I will continue to offer it upon waking up. Ceaghan is really interested in her potty time. I think it is helping him with his potty training as well. It was very cute this morning while holding her on the potty, he got a book and insisted on "reading" it to her while she sat there.
  Diapers are getting annoying to take on and off and since she doesn't wet at all while napping during the day I am thinking that switching to just using prefolds/belt and trainers would work for us for most of the time. I will keep the diapers on hand though and for nighttime. I have been using prefolds/ receiving blanket flats with a "headband belt" (using a headband as a prefold belt works great!) and I simply take the front portion out to potty her and then tuck it back in. If we miss, they are really easy to change out. I am selling some diapers right now to fund some tiny training pants for her. These will be good for naps and going out. When I need that waterproof security. I also really need to get her a tiny floor potty, so we can potty easier while in the living room.
  Overall this is going better than I ever expected. My thoughts have changed so much. I view diapering differently now and I feel like this makes more sense, for us. I am still learning all of her cues and timing but that will almost constantly be changing as she grows anyway. I am sure challenges will come along the way but I dont see us going back to our full time cloth diapering days.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Natural infant hygiene (EC)

   I've mentioned previously that we are practicing natural infant hygiene or as some also call "elimination communication ( EC ). We only are doing this part-time and lately its been more observing and learning than anything.  It seems like a lot of people don't understand that EC is not the same as Potty Training. With EC the parents are given cues by the baby that its time to go and the parents are helping the baby eliminate in the right spot/timing. With Potty Training the parents are teaching a diaper dependent child that they must now eliminate on the potty after being trained to go in a diaper.
  After learning about EC I have really started questioning the use of diapers. Let's really think about this for a moment; you are a baby and you have a choice to go to the bathroom all over yourself in a diaper multiple times and sit in it until its changed or simply cue someone and have them help you sit on a potty to go (you don't sit in your waste for any amount of time) which would you choose? Its pretty obvious right? After thinking about it, it seems so unnatural to allow a baby to fill up a diaper. In many countries they don't use diapers at all and caregivers are just aware of their baby's needs. In these countries the babies are independently potty trained much early than here in America. There babies are usually trained by 1 year and whereas ours 3 or 4 years! Anyway, it just sort of seemed like it would be better for my baby girl. I see Ceaghan potty training right now at 2 1/2 years and he is doing well, but its still a process for him to learn. He was trained to go in a diaper for 2 1/2 years so it makes sense that its work to undo this.
  I am going to continue to help Cesilee eliminate on the potty as much as I can and I believe she will be doing it herself earlier. Not because she is forced to, but because its a more comfortable and instinctual way than going in a diaper. We will be using backup diapers and I am not sure yet how to go about EC at night.  I have been observing her patterns and looking for cues lately. I noticed that when she wakes up suddenly from a nap she will fuss a bit. I noticed that her diaper was dry when she woke up and then she would do this fussing and then pee. So I put a prefold down (I don't have a potty bowl yet for her) and held her in a squat while making a long "sssssss" sound. You do this so they know its okay for them to release and associate it for timing in the future. And she did!! She smiled and seemed happy after this. I haven't caught a poop yet though or even had the chance because she poops only every 48 hours or so. (This is normal in exclusively breastfed babies) However we have noticed in the past that prior to pooping she will make this "poop face" where she makes a tight circle with her lips and kind of stares off into space. This is her "poop cue".
   I might be crazy, especially this early in the game but I am seriously considering selling some of my giant diaper stash so I can buy tiny training pants, some prefolds/prefold belt, and a potty for her. All of these things aren't "necessary" but make things a bit easier. I've been changing her after every pee during the day anyway, so what is the point of super absorbent diapers? All of this seems so crazy to friends. Especially those who know I have a huge cloth diaper stash and loved them so much. But as a parent who practices Attachment/Instinctual parenting, EC is feeling more instinctual than using diapers, seems to deepen the attachment, and I believe that my baby is happier this way/better off in the long run.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Healing From Birth Trauma - Forgiveness

   I tuned into Oprah's life class tonight as I nursed my baby girl to sleep. This particular shows topic was forgiveness. The entire show was profound and contained many "aha" moments. There was one thing that was said that really stuck out in my mind. She said "Forgiveness is letting go of what could have been." This was such a strong moment for me. I thought wow isn't that the truth. It can be true for so many things in our lives.
   Of course my birth obsessed mind is filled with so many thoughts surrounding birth. I thought about the births of my children and felt the trauma from them. There are many things that happened that I must forgive. Things that others did, society did and decisions I made myself. I find that the more I learn about birth, the more I poison my mind with "what ifs." What if my water didn't break early, what if I would have done "insert various coping measures", what if I made a different choice and on and on. I realize now that by doing this I can't move on. I have to let go of what could have been and accept what did.
   There are reasons in which things go the way they do that we do not understand at the time and may never understand. My children were birthed this way for a reason. I want to focus on what positives these experiences have given me. Maybe it makes me a better Doula as I have experienced things first hand that many women who birth in hospitals do. I have experienced the fear of the unknown that comes with having a premature baby and know what its like to go through the harsh unnaturally strong contractions that pitocin provides. Finally I know what its like to feel unsupported and helpless during birth. I can use these experiences to be a better support to others while having empathy and understanding.
We can move on after birth trauma. Yes we will remember our births forever but we can find the positive, learn from the experience, forgive and move on.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Family is lifes greatest blessing

Today is day 4 on the vitamin d regimen. I am feeling pretty good. I take a single 5,000 iu veggie capsule every morning. It gives me a good burst of energy and no bad side effects so far. I also have noticed that it is definitely already helping to control my appetite. I actually get to the point of feeling full. I am excited that this might help me get this weight off. I dont feel like myself and I dont feel healthy at this weight. This is the heaviest I have ever been.
  Okay to completely change the subject now  I want to update on everything else. Ceaghan is doing great still with the potty training. We have started putting him in training pants and are trying to teach him to communicate with us when he needs to go. We are keeping track of when he goes and when he has an accident so we can keep track of his progress. It has been hard the past two days because my parents came to visit from Chicago. We don't get to visit often so the excitement was at peak level. I could tell that it distracted him very much. I do not think it will take him long to get back into a rhythm though. I hope he starts doing better while wearing the trainers as he can't be naked all the time.
  It was great seeing my parents. I miss then so much and it's so important that the kids see them on a regular basis. Its very emotional for me, as my mother has some health problems and it causes her much pain to travel. We plan to visit them as soon as we can. Gas money is what inhibits us from visiting more often. This weekend my mother saw Cesilee for the first time since she was coming home from the hospital 2 days after her birth. It was beautiful to see her reaction to how big she has gotten. She has gained 9lbs since them and its very chunky and beautiful. My sister also came with my nephew who is only 6 months younger than Ceaghan and they have so much fun together.
Here are some photos from our weekend:

Nana and Cesilee

Papa and Cesilee

Papa and Ceaghan

Ceaghan and Cesilee
Ceaghan and I 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Adventures in potty training

  Ceaghan is 2 1/2 now and he is starting to potty train. I will be honest, this makes me extremely excited.  For a while it didn't seem like he "got it" and by that I mean that he didnt understand that you are supposed to go on the potty. That isn't his fault of course because when we choose to use diapers instead of practicing EC "elimination communication", we are in a sense teaching our babies that the diaper is their potty. Then once we feel they are old enough, we have to shake up their entire world and reteach them where is the right spot to potty. Also when practicing elimination communication your baby learns to communicate their needs unlike a diaper trained baby who must learn when they need to go and how to express that. Now that I am just learning about elimination communication I am starting to question my GIANT cloth diaper stash and wishing I would have practiced this with Ceaghan. Because of that I am going to do it part of the time for Cesilee.(that's a whole other blog post)
   Anyway we have started potty training by having him be completely naked while at home. We put a little potty in the living room and he goes and sits on it when he feels the need to. When he pee'd for the first time in the little potty we made it a huge deal. We gave high fives, hugs and kisses and praised him. He now uses the potty every time he has to go while naked at home and every time he does we celebrate. He also suddenly is holding his urine at night and during naps! We put a diaper on him anyway just in case, but we usually wake up to a dry diaper and he unloads it all in the potty.
  The next step will be testing out how he does with undies on or training underwear. I am concerned that having something close to his skin will make him think its okay to go, since he was trained that way with the diapers. Also he doesn't tell me right now when he has to go. He finds the potty himself and goes. Obviously this is an issue because he will need to let me know when he has to go when he isn't naked and at home, so that I can get him to a toilet. I actually have been surprised how much easier this has been than what we had thought. I am optimistic that he will be potty trained completely in around a month from now. We plan to keep night trainers on him for awhile though to combat any accidents. Also I still am facing many unknowns, like how he will do while we are out, if he will still hold his bladder while wearing underwear and how fast he can learn to tell me when he has to go. I will be honest, I am dreaming about half the diapers to wash and not spraying toddler poop for awhile!  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I am deficient in sunlight.

 I am deficient in the sunshine vitamin; Vitamin D. I first found out about it during my pregnancy with Cesilee. I was feeling extremely tired and just not right. My search led me to articles explaining how vitamin d deficiencies were a serious problem among pregnant/breastfeeding mothers. I was doing both. I researched more about it and realized that being a vegetarian and not getting  outside enough (it was winter in the midwest) put me at high risk. I discussed my concern with my midwife at the time and she ordered a blood test to check my levels. The results came back at 34 and normal is between 30-100 or 35-100 depending on your source. She blew it off as not a big deal but knowing that having this deficiency during pregnancy can lead to complications, I decided to take a supplement. I wasn't very researched on it and the midwife told me not to take more than 1,000 ius, I decided to start taking 800ius thinking that would help.
   Now lets fast forward a bit to my current situation. I gave birth to my beautiful girl Cesilee 4 weeks premature (due to pPROM) on December 29th, 2011. She is perfect and healthy and doing great. I however have been feeling progressively worse since the birth. I have frequent headaches, fatigue, and weakness. The biggest thing I noticed is that I didn't lose ANY of the pregnancy weight (30lbs) and I even started gaining more weight rapidly. I was eating pretty well, exercising, and nursing two babies; how was I not losing weight?  I just dont feel like myself and my intuition tells me that something is off. I discussed how I was feeling with my doctor at my postpartum checkup but at the time she just assumed it was from the stress of having two young kids and being postpartum. When things got worse and I developed depression, I started questioning that. My friends and family were picking up on things and encouraged me to make another appointment. You see at the time I was thinking that my vitamin d problem was getting better and wasn't thinking that was the issue.  My symptoms seemed like those experienced by friends and family who have thyroid diseases. Since I have a strong family history I decided to ask for some blood testing to see if mine was off. Many postpartum women experience that.
 At my appointment with my doctor I explained all of the symptoms and why I wanted to have my thyroid tested. She thought it sounded probable and was going to get the testing done but also saw I was taking some vitamin d and wanted to check how my levels were doing. Well yesterday a nurse from the doctors office called me to let me know that my thyroid was functioning fine but my vitamin D level was even lower. It was 20; down 14 since last check. They suggested I take a very high dose of a vitamin D supplement for 8 weeks and then come back to recheck my level. The doctor wanted to prescribe a supplement of 50,000 ius to take once a week however it was not available in a vegan form so I told them I would find it on my own, over the counter. I am taking a vegetarian capsule that supplies me 5,000 ius everyday. If that midwife would have treated my issue right away, it wouldn't be so bad now.
 So here I am not about to start the supplementation in hopes that soon I start to feel a whole lot better and start dropping this excess weight. Apparently you need to have sufficient vitamin D levels to lose weight. I am also supplementing the kids with some baby vitamin D drops. Cesilee needs it most since I am deficient (and breastfeeding her exclusively) and she was premature.
 I will keep updating on how I am feeling during this supplementing process. I encourage everyone to get their level tested. It is a simple blood test and vitamin D is so crucial to your health. I read that 40-60% of the entire US population is deficient. In most places spending time outdoors and eating fortified foods is not enough. Its recommended that everyone take a supplement to maintain healthy levels of vitamin D.
Here are some more links to learn about vitamin D deficiency and how to prevent it:
Women to Women; Vitamin D and your health
WebMD: Vitamin D Deficiency Overview
Low Vitamin D Levels Linked to Pregnancy Complication
Vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy: clinical trial
World Health Orginization: Vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy to prevent pre-eclampsia/eclampsia
Optimum levels of vitamin D during pregnancy
About Vitamin D
Vitamin D news

The expected introduction

  My name is Mandee and I confess it, I have got a lot of crunch! I am married to an awesome guy name  Chris (who happens to be the worlds best father) and we have 2 crunchy attached kids; Ceaghan, 2 1/2 years old and Cesilee; 3 months old. They are really the center of my world. I also have a serious obsession (maybe passion is a classier way to put it) with all things BIRTH!
  I am a doula, breastfeeding counselor and soon to be Dancing for Birth class instructor. Basically I support women and their partners throughout pregnancy, birth, and postpartum with informational, physical and emotional support. Its good stuff and it feeds my soul. I believe we all have a purpose and I am so happy to have found mine so young. My passion and purpose is not only to raise up strong crunchy children but also to support and empower women. This blog will be filled with a mish-mash of everything in our life. The crunchy, attachment parenting, vegetarian, barefoot goodness that it is!