Friday, June 22, 2012
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Why does it feel like I've just stepped behind a podium and am about to confess the last time I had a solid night’s sleep? Probably because I'm addicted to chubby cheeks, wiggly toes, huge grins, and various other wonderful baby attributes - even the less cute ones.
Aaaand speaking of poop. Seriously, you must be baby junky if you go so far as to share stories about the colour and consistency of your baby's poop, while chatting leisurely over brunch with a child-free friend, like my husband did on a recent Sunday.
Figuring out how we were going to harness our baby's waste was a topic of much discussion in the latter days of my pregnancy. We knew we wanted to cloth diaper in order to save money and to partially make up for inflicting another rampant consumer on the world. What we didn't know was where to start. Engaging a diaper service in the early days was the easiest way to get used to cloth diapering. That way, we wouldn’t have to worry about the laundry learning curve on top of all the other new parent adjustments. The downside was, if we have a second child, we would have to either re-engage a diaper service or get newborn diapering supplies for a newborn. Our work around was to buy...time. That way we saved a bit on the diaper service and had covers to use for any future children.
Here are the things we did in our first eight weeks of cloth diapering:
We engaged Sweet Peach for a four weeks of diaper service and purchased 8 diaper covers, rather than renting them. Their diaper service offer two types of diapers: fitted and prefold as well as wipes and soakers - for overnight. We opted to try out both types to give us an idea of what works best for us and for baby, before going out and investing in them ourselves.
We bought a wipes warmer, in spite of making fun of such a concept only a few months prior. When you’ve got a baby who abhors the cold, and an old home who’s pipes are slow to deliver warm water, you do what you have to in order to solve the problem.
We bought four more covers three weeks in, so that we didn't have to do laundry every day. Who knew newborns needed so many diaper changes, not me!
After our four weeks of service were up, we bought in for an additional three. Sleep deprivation meant we weren't ready to make a decision about what kind of diapers we were going to invest in yet and it really is very convenient to have someone else taking care of that laundry.
When it started getting close to go it on our own, we decided to go with seven bumGenius pocket diapers at night for their wicking properties, 12 bamboo squares for day time and a few Sweet Peach Side-Snapping Fitteds for their trim fit and adorable prints. This should be enough diapers so that we only have to wash them every other day. We also invested in a diaper pail, two waterproof laundry bags, and a small travel wet bag for our diaper bag, along with a stash of cloth wipes and two snappis to help fasten the squares.
Ultimately we transitioned to washing our own diapers mid-way through the last week of diaper service to test everything out and make sure we were ready to go it alone.
All in all we're set for the rest of our daughter's diapered life, except for needing to invest in a half dozen more covers when she grows out of the first size.
Stay tuned for future posts on diapering options and costs, frequently asked questions, and detailed information on cloth diaper types and accessories.
Next up: What I'd do differently during the early days if I could have a 'do over'.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Fiona Karen Fournier was born at home in Perth. I wrote the following note last year about her birth. My memory was very foggy, as most mother’s are from natural birth. I ran it by a few people who were there, and changed very little, as this is my memory of it.
November 14, 2008 is a day I will never forget - our oldest daughter was born on that brisk fall afternoon. Jason (my partner) took parental leave a couple weeks before my due date (Nov 21) and wasn’t at work. The weeks prior to my actual labour were filled with days of pre-labour - we’re talkin’ contractions every ten minutes for hours on end. I was at work when Jason ran home to get his equipment for Friday afternoon hockey. I waddled upstairs to do some paperwork and after five minutes, I was floored with a wicked contraction. It was 12:49. Another one came at 12:54 and another at 12:58. Focusing during contractions was out the window so I figured this might be it. Downstairs I went. I told Sheila and she called Jason, who thought it was a joke to get him out of playing hockey. He showed up, saw a contraction and panicked. Haha. “Oh my god, we have to call the midwives, fill up the birth pool. Are you okay? What can I do? Is it really coming? How long will it be?” I was totally lucid between contractions which helped him a bit.
We drove home (in the van with stinky hockey equipment) talking about how excited we were. “I’m going to have a BABY.” When we got there, I paged Christy (the student at our midwive‘s practise) and got a phone call back. I told her I was doing okay. Contractions were coming every 4 minutes or so and I was feeling them in my lower back. I got relief from leaning over tables, swaying my hips and moaning deeply, but quietly to relieve some pressure. Jason and Stacey (my sister-in-law) had inflated the birth pool and were filling it up with a little help from me. My mother-in-law thought I was nuts.
Karen (my amazing midwife) and Christy called when they were in Westport (coming from Kingston) to see if they should call Anita, the second midwife. I told them not to bother her and that this baby wasn’t coming in a huge rush. They called and told her to get a move on anyways (definitely a smart idea.)
When they got there Christy checked my dilation and I was 6 cm. An 8 would have been a nice number, but Karen reminded me that there wasn’t another midwife here and a 6 was good. The birth pool was topped up so I hopped in. I was offered anti-biotics for group B strep a few times and I repeatedly said ask me later, until I said “No, don’t ask me again.”
At some point between getting into the tub and giving birth, I mentioned something strange that happened on Tuesday night (this was Friday) - my belly was almost vibrating. I was sitting at the kitchen table playing cards with Jason and his parents when my belly basically started convulsing. It happened on and off for about 20 seconds at a time for an hour or so. After that night, it happened another couple times. I can’t remember if there was a vibration, then I mentioned something or if it happened after I explained it. But everyone saw my belly shaking. I remember Karen going “Hmm,” with a very concerned, puzzled look. She didn’t think it was nothing, but she didn’t know what it could be.
Within 10 minutes of that conversation, I started to get the urge to push. I was in the pool so Karen asked me to reach down to see if I could feel any cervix and all I could feel were bulging membranes - I was fully dilated. Jason actually got to feel the membranes too - he wasn’t as impressed as I was. Karen told me to go ahead and push for some relief and calmly reminded me that there wasn’t another midwife present - not as a threat, not as a “don’t push,” just so I understood the situation. Everything was going to be fine so I opted to get this baby out. Four contractions, 20 minutes and about 6 pushes later, Fiona was born into her father’s hands. Karen and Christy talked Jason through the catching process. I was on my hands and knees and when my water broke while pushing, I nearly shot Jason out of the pool (contraction 2.) During contraction three, they told Jason he would see her face when her head was born, but the beautiful back of her head was presented to him. To this day he still doesn’t remember - “there was so much going on, I didn’t even notice.” I flipped over and the rest of her body was born into his hands and mine at 3:50. We brought her to the surface and submerged her body (not her head) back under, and turn her around to unwrap the very long cord that was snugly wrapped around her neck and chest.
Karen mentioned that water-born babies often take an extra couple moments to take their first breath, as their bodies are still under water. I was so hopped up on natural oxytocin that her tiny limp, blue body just seemed wonderful. Everyone around me was waiting for her to wail. After a few seconds we were rubbing her to stimulate her lungs to work. I remember yellow gloves, a white towel and tears in Jason’s eyes. Karen found the cord and said “Casey, I have to take your baby. She isn’t breathing and it’s been a long time.” I reminded her that her cord was still pulsing and she was still getting oxygen. She very kindly said “Yes, she is. The blood she is getting will slow down very soon and we need to get her breathing now.” She gave Jason the scissors and “Jason, cut it quickly.” I have no idea how he did it while shaking and with flooded eyes. He doesn’t remember what it felt like, it was all just a fog.
Karen took Fiona to the resuscitation table (yes, they have those at home with suction, oxygen and all sorts of different things,) to work on her. I was still in my own little “Oh this is totally common and she’ll turn pink any second now” world. Karen and Christy worked on her for what seemed like a mere moment to me. They were rubbing her, trying to stimulate blood flow and breathing, but it wasn’t working. She was given oxygen and was suctioned to get any mucous out of her lungs, nothing. I vividly remember Karen saying in a calm, but stern voice “Casey, come talk to your daughter. She needs you.” I got out of the tub with much help from everyone, drying me off and holding bowls under me to catch the blood I was losing. I took the three steps to her little limp body and it clicked in. This is not normal and it is not okay. Still calm though, I gently rubbed her shoulder, told her I loved her and needed her to breathe. “You need to breathe and your heart has to work honey. Just take a breath. You can do it. I love you. Take a breath.” Who knew a kid would actually listen to her mother? Breaths came slow but they came. They stopped stimulating her, I started talking and touching her and she started to breathe. She was very mucousy. They wrapped her up in a receiving blanket and threw us both into bed, gave me some drugs to help me birth the placenta and we cuddled. She wasn’t crying or trying to get the gunk out of her airway, but she was breathing. The paramedics left and we enjoyed our beautiful little girl. We had a little girl.
We unwrapped her a little so we could enjoy some skin to skin while the midwives made sure nothing was majorly wrong with me. I lost a litre or so of blood (which is fairly significant) so I wasn’t getting out of bed. I had to adjust positions so Daddy took his new little girl for a cuddle. After a few minutes, he said she didn’t look so good. After a quick peek, Karen gave her back to me for more skin to skin and see if we wanted to nurse. Twenty minutes after she was born, when we were more or less settle, Anita, graced us with her presence. “The Baby Midwife” is what she is known as by her colleagues. She observed our attempt to breastfeed - something wasn’t right; she was pushing my nipple out of her mouth, not sucking it in. After a few more attempts and a moment to cuddle, Anita took her for a longer look. Within a few minutes she was dusky and wasn’t breathing. She still had the gurgle and still had not cried. It was like she couldn’t cough it up. Anita attempted to stimulate her, nothing. “Call the ambulance, something isn’t right.” She gave her back to me, and pink again. My skin, my warmth, my voice, my heartbeat was keeping her alive. As long as she was with me, she was fine.
Everything after that was blurry. I had to get clothes on and clean myself up a bit. Standing was a huge issue, as my blood pressure plummeted every time. I had to bend over to not pass out, so that is how I was walking. The paramedics were getting Fiona, who wasn’t breathing, into a damn car seat, a CAR SEAT. “For heaven’s sake, the itty bitty little baby is dying and you think she needs to get in a bloody car seat? Take her. Take her now.” I was still the optimist that I am, thinking “everything will be fine, but take her now.” While they were getting her ready, I was walking to the bedroom door ready to go when I was stopped in my tracks. “You can’t go,” Karen said to me. I lost my mind right then and there. “What? I have to.” “You’ve lost too much blood. If you need to go, I will call another ambulance for you.” Then it clicked in that I would have to send Jason with Fiona and I’d be alone (yet totally surrounded by people that love me - my entire immediate family was there, with the exception of my mother.) I started panicking, Jason started panicking. “Jason, you have to go with your daughter. Now.” A quick kiss and they were gone together. Jason left in the ambulance with Fiona and his mom. I collapsed into Karen’s arms begging for her to say “she will be fine.”
I quickly got myself back together (panicking is not something I do - ever,) told myself she was going to be okay, took a few breaths and said I had to go. I have no idea how long it was between the time they left until the time I walked out the door. I think I walked downstairs backwards, bent over with people on either side of me so I wouldn’t pass out. Karen drove me to the hospital. I remember getting in, turning the car around and getting out. Karen told me I was not allowed to pass out. Into the Great War Memorial Hospital I went.
I got into the trauma room (you know, the big room in the corner) and saw Jason and Nancy holding each other, looking at the crowd of people around our daughter. I was shocked - all she needed was a bit of suction (or so I thought) but she was intubated and there were things stuck to her everywhere - they even had a tube coming out of her umbilical cord - our connection.
A haze. I remember very few things. I remember being in the waiting room, with my head between my knees. I remember Karen and Anita discussing going to the car to get an IV started for me. I remember going in and out of that trauma room, wondering what to do next and when we could go home. I remember discussing what her name would be - looking to the future.
More may come in the next few days or weeks...
Sunday, July 31, 2011
Ok, Diaper Inserts Part 2. Here’s where things get interesting. There are so many different makes and types of inserts on the market these days that it would be overwhelming to try and discuss them all. Hopefully, though, I can give you an idea of some different styles of inserts and diapering systems that use inserts.
Pocket diapers are usually sold with an insert tailor made to fit in that diaper. Each brand has a slightly unique shape or design of insert and diaper in an attempt to stand out above the others. For example Rumparooz has their 6r system in which the two microfiber or hemp inserts can be snapped together in various ways to accommodate different sizes of babies or to customize the absorbency of the diaper. Bum Genius One Size (OS) diapers come with one pocket cover and a microfiber insert that can snap down for smaller babies, as well as a newborn microfiber insert that can either be used on its own or in combination with the regular insert for greater absorbency.
There is even more variation in the all in two system (AI2) of diapering (a cover and insert). Most companies create covers and inserts to be u
sed together, but for the most part either could be used with another brand. The Flip system by Cotton Babies includes covers and either stay-dry or organic inserts. The stay dry inserts are the same microfiber inserts used in their bumGenius pocket diapers, but with a layer of suedecloth to keep baby’s skin dry. The organic inserts are basically prefolds made of organic cotton and are extremely buttery soft and super absorbent. The covers are designed to fit either insert, but could also be used with a variety of other inserts. Conversely, the Flip inserts can also be used with other covers.
The AI2 diapering system is designed so that the covers can be reused and just the inserts changed as needed. This makes it an ideal system to customize. Many people take what they like from one system, either the cover or insert, and combine it with the cover or insert from a different system to create a customized diapering set up.
This is one of the many great things about cloth diapering; you can completely customize your cloth diapering experience to suit you and your baby’s individual needs.
Sometimes a little extra absorbency is needed and so smaller inserts called soakers or boosters are used. Bamboo, hemp and zorb are usually used for these inserts. They’re thinner and often smaller than regular inserts. The advantage of using a
soaker/booster rather than an extra insert is that you add absorbency without adding bulk. While using two Flip organic inserts would give amazing absorbency for Emma overnight, the diaper would be so thick and bulky she wouldn’t be able to get comfortable (not all babies have issue with their diaper being too bulky, but many do). Instead I use a bamboo insert behind the Flip organic to give added absorbency without making her legs so far apart she has to waddle.
There are so many inserts on the diapering market today and the only way to know for sure what will work for you and your baby is to try a few different ones. Although I believe there are some inserts that stand above the others (such as Flip Organics- really these inserts are awesome!!), many are fairly interchangeable and do a great job. Have fun trying different ones and creating the perfect diapering stash that works for you!
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Well, I think it’s time to dust off the old typewriter and what better way to start than with a brief overview of diaper inserts. Besides the different varieties of diapers, the types of inserts might be the most confusing decision when cloth diapering. My goal here is to keep it as simple as I can and provide a basic summary of different types of fabrics used in inserts and different types/makes of inserts.
Before we begin, let me just mention that like types of diapers, inserts are very much a personal preference. What works for one baby might not work for another or might not work for that same baby down the road. Conversely, what doesn’t work at the newborn stage may be ideal for a bigger baby or toddler. I really believe you have to try out a variety of inserts and diapers to see what works best for you.
Ok, that said, let’s get to it. In this first section I’ll briefly mention the different materials or fabrics most widely used in diaper inserts.
Cotton: Cotton is a natural fiber, soft (though can be stiff when line dried and gets rougher over time), inexpensive and easy to care for. Depending on the insert, cotton can add bulk to a diaper.
Hemp: Hemp is also natural (most often organic,) very absorbent, trim, but there can be the potential for odor problems. Hemp is generally more expensive than cotton and can get stiff and rough over time (this is actually why hemps inserts tend to be a cotton/hemp blend- the cotton helps keep the inserts soft and supple).
Bamboo: Bamboo is an environmentally friendly, natural fiber that is silky and soft (and stays that way after washing!), and naturally antibacterial. Bamboo doesn’t hold up to repeated washing and drying the way cotton does.
Microfiber: Microfiber is a manufactured fiber (a polyester/polyamide blend), very absorbent, inexpensive and fast drying. Microfiber should never be in direct contact with baby’s skin so these inserts are generally used in pocket diapers or with a liner. Microfiber also has the potential for odor problems if not washed and rinsed well.
Zorb: Zorb is one of the newest players to the diapering game. It’s a mixture of fibers from bamboo/cotton/viscose and poly microfiber. It’s a non-allergenic, very absorbent and trim material that absorbs much faster than other diaper fabrics.
Wool: Wool is highly breathable, waterproof and absorbent. It does require special care, but also has natural antibacterial properties so does not need to be washed as often as other fabrics.
Microfleece: Microfleece is a 100% polyester fabric that is ideal as a moisture wicking diaper layer. When used next to baby’s skin it keeps baby’s skin dry, even in a wet diaper. It’s easy to clean and does not hold stains like many other fabrics.
Suedecloth: Similar in function to microfleece, suedecloth does not pill the way microfleece does.
Microchamois: Also similar to fleece in its stay dry properties, but stays extremely soft and doesn’t pill.
Wicking Jersey: An athletic fabric used in golf shirts, it is often used as a layer to help keep baby’s skin dry, but holds up better than suedecloth. This is the stay dry layer used in our diaper service diapers.
Many inserts are actually a combination of these fabrics to get the benefits of more than one material. For example the Flip stay dry inserts are a microfiber insert for great absorbency and trimness, with a suedecloth layer to keep baby’s skin soft and dry. More on these and other various types of inserts next time…
Friday, November 26, 2010
1. Diaper changes: This is probably my favourite and most often use for a BeQuick. I can fit a cover, insert (usually a prefold), Ju-Ju-Be BeLight change pad, cream, wipes and a wetbag in a quick. That way when I’m away from home and need to change Emma’s diaper I can just grab the BeQuick and it has everything I might need. It’s also very handy if someone else takes Emma out for a trip; they know they can just take the diaper BeQuick and it has everything they’ll need.
2. Spare clothes: I always have a BeQuick in my purse with spare clothes in it. I can easily fit a pair of pants, shirt, onesie, sweater, socks and bib in a BeQuick with room to spare.
3. Car toys: I keep a BeQuick with toys especially for the car. That way Emma isn’t bored of the toys and when we’re going out I can just grab the BeQuick. Of course, half the fun for her is taking all the toys out, but at the end of the car trip I can put them all back in and it’s ready for the next time.
4. Breast pump: A BeQuick is the perfect size to hold my Medela Harmony breast pump and two spare medela bottles. It keeps everything together and because the BeQuick is machine washable (like all Ju-Ju-Be) I can make sure it stays clean.
5. Sling/wrap: Okay, I can’t get my ergo in a BeQuick (though I’ve tried), but I can get my ring sling or a woven wrap in one. I got tired of either packing my sling at the bottom of my diaper bag and then having to unpack everything to get it, or packing it on top and having to take it out to get at everything else. It’s so handy to be able to pack my sling in a BeQuick and then I can clip it onto my purse or other bag.
6. Nighttime diaper/clothes: Whenever we’re going to be out in the evening and I know we’ll be putting the girls in pj’s before we drive home I bring a BeQuick for each of them with everything they need for bed. That way when it’s time to get ready for bed, it’s easy to find what the girls need.
7. Mini purse: Kaitlyn has caught the “Ju-Ju-Be” bug (though not as severely, yet…) and so I gave her a BeQuick to use for some of her small dolls. She proudly carries it as her purse, telling anyone who will listen that she has her very own Ju-Ju-Be.
8. Restaurant toys: I’ll admit I haven’t actually been to a restaurant in a really, really long time, but I know other mamas who have used their BeQuick as restaurant sanity-savers. You can easily pack crayons, small colouring book, puzzles, toys, etc into a BeQuick to keep kids busy while you’re waiting for your food.
9. Snacks: BeQuick make great pouches for snacks as well. Throw in a couple of granola bars, a juice container, a package or two of Mum-mums and you’re all set. And again, because they’re completely washable you don’t have to worry about them getting messy.
10. Puzzle pieces: For some reason our puzzle boxes seem to end up squished or eaten (between the puppy and Emma) and I’ve discovered that a BeQuick makes a great holder for puzzle pieces. They take up less space that way as well and so far Emma hasn’t been able to mangle or damage them.
Cosmetic bag, first aid kit, pencil case- there really are countless other ways to use Ju-Ju-Be BeQuick and at only $16 each, you really can’t go wrong with them.
Oh, and did I mention they’d make great stocking stuffers! Hint, hint, Santa…
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
I’ve realized, lately, that I’m not so bothered by change. The changing of seasons has always been really hard, (not ideal when you live in the Ottawa Valley). Normally this time of year is especially difficult for me. The transition from summer to fall to the pre-winter gloom has always unsettled me. I’m usually dragged through winter’s pregame show kicking and screaming, refusing to wear socks or close my windows, until I surrender to the inevitability of winter and collapse into a human hibernation of gloomy thoughts, carb overload and pale, dry skin. I’ve never enjoyed fall, despite its unmatched beauty and crisp, clean days, because I would anxiously anticipate the inevitable cold, dark days that unfailingly followed.
Last year I never went through this turmoil, but instead rolled through the transition from summer to winter light-heartedly, thoroughly enjoying my walks through the woods as the leaves changed and then fell. At the time I chalked it up to being pregnant, figuring my early January due date was giving me momentum to ride through the fall.
This year, though, I’m not pregnant, and yet I still feel content and again, I really enjoyed the fall, viewing each crisp, sunny day as a gift. Even now that we’re in that awkward in between time when the leaves are gone and Halloween is done, but the stores are not yet totally overrun with Christmas (I do love Christmas) and the first snow hasn’t yet come to lay down a fresh blanket over the soaked, muddy earth, I still feel happy.
I have nothing in particular to feel happy about. In fact, most people who know me would say it’s been a rather difficult fall and yet at this, my most dreaded time of year, I feel happy. I feel content and blessed. I think it’s because at the ripe old age of 29 I’ve come to realize that change is inevitable. While previously I dreaded change and resisted it in all forms, (almost always in futility I might add) I now recognize that aligning my sail with the wind, rather than against it makes for a far more enjoyable ride. Accepting that my life and the people in it will change frees me to totally and freely embrace all that is good right now.
I think I’ve also realized that not only is change inevitable, it is necessary. As much as I sometimes wish I could stop time, to prolong those moments when the world seems just right, (sometimes as I’m snuggling and nursing Emma, sometimes when I’m with the horses in the barn or the dogs in the woods), I know that those moment will pass, but new, precious moments wait. After all, if I keep my hand clenched around the moments of today, how will I embrace those of tomorrow?
So while I still curse the mud and the early dusk as I yet again hose off my horses muddy legs I also feel content and thankful that right now, at this moment in my life I have a wonderful horse. And as I grumble about having to convince Emma to leave her hat on, to stop biting her mittens or quit arching her back as I try to put her fleece suit on, I am overwhelmed by how much I love that little girl and how blessed I am to share these days with her. And as I grudgingly start carrying Kleenex in my pocket for the seemingly endless task of wiping little runny noses I feel grateful that we are healthy in mind and body. Of course it’s not all rainbows and sunshine in my world, far from it, but I know enough now, or maybe I just have accepted, that the rain, the snow, and especially the storms are inevitable, so it’s worth my while to soak up the sun every day I can.