Sunday, July 22, 2012

Joshua's Birth Story

          Joshua was due on April 17th, 2012 and his birth story begins in March, about a month before he was born. I had been having very strong Braxton-Hicks contractions since around 28 weeks and was taking Calm, a magnesium supplement recommended by my midwife, to prevent pre-term labor. I was told the strong contractions were likely due to my breastfeeding my firstborn, Daniel, and were probably nothing to worry about. Well, about a month before my due date, I suddenly had these contractions 10 minutes or less apart and they seemed stronger than normal. The midwife on call advised me to take extra Calm, a warm bath and to get some rest and call her if anything changed or to call her in the morning if things remained the same. The next morning, everything was the same and she had me come in to be checked. I was 1 cm dilated and partially effaced so she had me go on bed rest for the weekend and had me taking tons of Calm, plus Emergen-C, calcium, and nettle and alfalfa tea. I made it through the weekend and nothing changed so she checked me again. I had made very minimal progress and, by one due date, I was considered to be 37 weeks and full term so I was taken off bed rest. It was now safe for me to deliver and it was legal to have Joshua at the birth center. I resumed my normal activities and became even more active, trying to have fun with Daniel alone before his brother was born.

          Days and weeks went by and I continued to have the contractions, always regular and 10 minutes or less apart. Sometimes they got stronger and closer together, only to spread out or get less intense after an hour or two. At 39 weeks, I was at 2 cm dilated but not very effaced. It was all driving me a little crazy. About a week before my official and latest due date I visited the chiropractor. When he tried to adjust my back, it wasn't moving but something he did in the process must have gotten things started because I then started feeling a lot of pelvic pressure and the baby moved down lower but still no labor.

         My due date came and went with no labor. At 40 weeks and 4 days (Saturday 4/21/12), my parents were preaching at an event and asked my husband, Dan, to help them with the sound equipment. My back was hurting pretty bad that day and I considered not going but went anyway. At the event, which was in Spanish, my parents asked me to translate for the non-Spanish speakers but I didn't feel well enough to stand for such a long time so they had someone else do it. My dad and his friend who is also a preacher announced that they had stood in agreement and that the baby would be born the next day. They said that Sunday afternoon, I'd be in labor and that is exactly what happened.

          Sunday afternoon, around 4pm, we were sitting at home and Daniel fell asleep. I was having back pain and strong contractions and was debating whether I should pack the stuff I'd need for the birth or take a nap. Dan wanted to watch a movie and was about to watch it without me so I decided to watch that instead. When the movie started, Dan commented that my contractions seemed really close together so we decided to time them. I think they were about 5-7 minutes apart at this time. Daniel woke up about 30 minutes into the movie and we decided we should all bathe/shower,eat, and pack our stuff just in case I was really in labor. We alerted the midwife on call as well as my doula and back-up doula. I also made sure to brew my extra strong red raspberry tea to drink throughout the labor.

          My contractions got stronger and Dan started to get impatient about heading to the birth center but I wanted to labor at home as long as possible. Dan took a bath with Daniel while I showered and washed my hair. Then he made us a late lunch and made some sandwiches to take to the birth center and we got to work on packing everything. When, everything was packed, I told Dan I wanted him to get everything to the car and that I wanted to go for a walk and time the contractions to determine whether we should leave yet or not. At this point, Daniel asked for some goldfish crackers and spilled some on the floor. I squatted to help him and felt something pop but thought nothing of it. I walked to my bedroom to get something and then, whoosh, I felt warm fluid run down my legs, my water had broken! It was only enough to wet my pants so I told Dan either my water broke or I just peed myself. A quick look confirmed that it was amniotic fluid stained green with meconium. It was 8:30 pm when my water broke. I changed my pants and put on a pad while Dan packed up the car in a rush and then we headed to the birth center.

          Dan called my parents and asked them to meet us at the birth center and we called his mom to let her know as well. She wanted to be here for the birth and had a flight booked for the next day and was unable to make it. Dan was pretty nervous, thinking I'd have the baby on the side of the road so I had to have his mom talk to him on speaker phone to calm him down on the way there. He even considered taking me to the nearby hospital! The contractions in the car were horrible and with each contraction I felt a gush of fluid. We had forgotten to get pads for the car but, luckily, I grabbed a big blanket on the way out the door and sat on that in the car or our new car would need some serious cleaning. Lucky for me, Daniel slept the whole way there.

          When we arrived at the birth center, a midwife and birth assistant were waiting for me outside.They helped me inside while Dan carried Daniel in. I was pleased to find out that Andrea would be our midwife and Karla our birth assistant again, the same team who was there when Daniel was born. When Andrea checked me, I was 6-7cm dilated and, for some reason, I expected to be further along at this point. It was around 9:30pm or so by then. Daniel woke up and he and Dan hung out while I labored on the ball with a rice sock and Karla massaging my back. The contractions were pretty strong and I was only able to tolerate that for a short while. Karla informed me that the tub was ready for me and I quickly agreed to get in. My doula, Nancy, arrived shortly after that. Then my parents arrived. We realized we had forgotten the sandwiches and some other stuff at home and Daniel needed to eat so we sent him to Walmart with my dad and sister to buy some food.

         I was having so much trouble relaxing during contractions at this point, it was all so intense, much more intense than Daniel's birth. I was so glad Dan was able to come in the tub with me but I still could not relax. To my surprise, I soon felt the urge to push during contractions. I assumed it would take much longer to fully dilate so I held back the first few times. It felt better to push so I decided to follow my body's lead. Andrea decided to check me and determined that I still had a little lip of cervix. She informed me that she'd have to push it back with her fingers while I pushed until the baby's head got past it. That hurt like crazy. I remember I kept telling her not to do it but she said my choices were either that or breathing through the contractions until I dilated all the way. I wanted Joshua to be born already and could not imagine not pushing. It definitely made me feel much better when I felt his head with my hand. I was telling Joshua to come out the whole time and feeling him so close showed me I was making progress and motivated me to push harder.

          I pushed for about an hour and eventually felt an intense burning sensation, Joshua was crowning. I asked that someone bring Daniel in and my mom held him so he could see his brother be born. After a push or two, at 11:41 pm on Sunday April 22nd, 2012, my beautiful baby boy, Joshua, was born in the water. Andrea placed him on my chest and I was so happy. I finally had my baby boy in my arms and my other precious baby was able to see his brother born. Daniel exclaimed "baby!" when he saw his brother and my heart just melted. But all the happiness faded when Joshua would not breathe. For a few minutes he just lay there, limp, pale, and not breathing. I was overcome with fear as the midwife tried to give him oxygen with a tube.I asked my dad to pray for him and don't even remember now if he did or not. It seemed like forever to me but was really only a few minutes and then Joshua began to breathe. It was such a relief to know that my baby was okay! Shortly afterward, I delivered the placenta and Dan cut the cord. I was then helped out of the tub and onto the bed and Joshua nursed like a pro soon after. Andrea discovered that I had a 2nd degree tear that would need stitching up but I would not have to go to the hospital like I did with Daniel.

           Andrea got called in to a home visit so Bea, the owner of the birth center, came to stitch me up and do the newborn exam. I was in shock to find out that Joshua was a whopping 10lbs 3oz and 22.5 inches long! He was in perfect health and very alert. After we were both cleared to go home, we received our discharge instructions, installed the car seat, and went to my parents' house to sleep for a while. My mother in law met us there that afternoon and we headed home to begin our new lives as a family of four. My mother in law stayed with us about 2 weeks and then we stayed at my parents' house for about a month for some extra help. Once home for good, I had a friend come over for play dates and lunch a few times as well to ease the transition. Joshua was a non-stop nurser from day one and barely slept. Like his brother, he was a very alert, active, and intelligent baby. He did not cry much at all. He has since settled down to sleeping longer periods of time at night and having several naps during the day. We had some latch issues at first but, with some help from some lactation counselor friends, we corrected it and we are doing great now. I am so blessed to have such a special little person in my life and I am completely in love with my little Joshua.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Moringa Source Moringa Oil Review and Giveaway

          I was recently contacted about trying out Moringa Source Moringa Oil. This wasn't something I'd ever heard of and, since I'm very cautious about what products I use, I did some research to find out what moringa is. I was very pleased to find out that moringa oleifera is a plant whose leaves, seeds, seed oil, and roots have been used to improve health for centuries. Parts of the moringa plant, such as the immature seed pods (also known as drumsticks), the leaves, the mature seeds, seed oil, and roots are eaten in man countries such as the Philippines, Cambodia and in Africa. Moringa contains four times the vitamin A available in carrots, seven times the vitamin C in oranges, four times the calcium and twice the protein available in milk, and three times the potassium in bananas. It also highly recommended as a nutrition source for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. The plant is so nutritious that there are even organizations that use it to try to combat malnutrition in tropical areas such as certain regions in Africa.

          Moringa has been used in folk and ayurvedic medicine for centuries and the leaves are even said to increase lactation. Here are some of the uses for moringa oleifera:

     - Diabetes relief
     - Healthy Skin
     - Nutrition
     - Improving sensory perception
     - Improving sleep
     - Decreasing depression and anxiety

          I was sent a 2 oz bottle of Moringa Source Moringa Oil to try out. This is a topical preparation and not for oral consumption. The oil was sent to me free of charge and i received no compensation for this review. The opinions here are solely my own and based on my experience with the oil. The oil didn't have specific instructions other than apply sparingly to skin. It stated that it is good for energy and rejuvenation, skin and hair rejuvenation, relaxation, and emotional well being and that it can be used as a massage oil. I had just had Joshua when I received it and the skin on my stomach was feeling very dry and rough. It was also looking a little darker than normal and was full of stretch marks, of course. I decided to use the moringa oil on there and see if it helped. I figured I'd give it about a month and then write about the results.

          I applied the oil to the skin on my stomach once a day, usually after I showered. After about a week or two, I could already notice a difference. It's been about a month now and the skin on my stomach now feels soft, smooth, and moisturized. It is now back to my normal skin tone and the stretch marks have faded significantly. There is no proven way to remove stretch marks except via laser surgery but the oil has made them blend in to my skin more.They are still visible but some are a little darker and some are a little lighter than the rest of my skin. I honestly didn't expect this as I know that stretch marks can't be removed with lotions and oils. I just figured I'd use the oil to moisturize the rough, dry skin since my regular lotion wasn't working. Now my stretch marks are subtle reminders of the work my body did to grow and birth both of my boys and are no longer angry looking red gashes. I wish I had thought to take before and after pictures to post with this review.

          The Moringa Source Moringa Oil is $12 for a 2 oz bottle, $20 for 4 oz, and $38 for 8 oz and a little goes a long way. I still have most of my 2oz bottle a whole month later. Moringa Source also carries moringa tea, protein shakes, capsules, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, lip balm and other moringa based products. You can view their website and make a purchase here.

         Moringa Source has been kind enough to offer my readers the chance to win a 2 oz bottle of Moringa Source Moringa Oil. To enter, follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter form below. The winner will be chosen and announced here and on the Diary of a Natural Mom Facebook page next Tuesday, July 24th, 2012.
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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Birdie Bakes Lactation Cookie Review and Giveaway

          A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to try Birdie Bakes lactation cookies. The timing was perfect as Daniel had just started nursing again after not doing so for a while (I will be writing about this later) and I really needed the extra support while my body adjusted to making milk for two. Birdie Bakes is a home bakery in the Tampa, Florida area ran by Melanie Anselmo-Stevens. She operates under the Florida Cottage Law and bakes cookies, cupcakes, cake pops, pie pops and more.

          I will start by saying that the cookies taste great. They were definitely a treat I looked forward to eating every day. It is also pretty convenient that they are already baked and ready to eat. As a sleep deprived nursing mom of two, I could definitely appreciate not having to find time to bake them myself.  As far as boosting supply, I'll start by saying that Daniel is nursing like crazy now. He still sleeps through the night but nurses to sleep and then wakes up for an early morning nursing around 6 am. During the day, he nurses about as much as his baby brother, Joshua, does. Since Daniel hadn't nursed since before Joshua was born and suddenly started nursing like a newborn, I was concerned about Joshua not getting enough milk during the period of time it would take my supply to adjust. I ate my cookies faithfully (it was such hard work!) and, aside from a few times Daniel complained about milk not coming out (yet I could hand express some milk if I tried), I had no problems. My supply quickly adjusted to feeding two boys full-time and I was even able to pump anywhere from 4 to 6 ounces in between feedings on those days when I had the time!

           I believe the cookies helped and would definitely recommend them to those of you in need of a supply boost. Birdie Bakes lactation cookies are made with mostly organic ingredients. Flavors available are oatmeal chocolate chip ($19 for a two week supply), chocolate and peanut butter chip ($20), white chocolate chip ($19), and cranberry ($22). There is no additional charge for dietary restrictions such as vegan cookies, just let Melanie know when you place an order. The cookies are delivered for free up to an hour outside of New Tampa and there is a delivery charge of $1-3 after that depending on where you are located. Due to restrictions of the Florida Cottage Law, Melanie is currently unable to ship cookies to other areas. To place an order, email Melanie at Check her out on Facebook at Birdie Bakes.

          Here's the good news: One lucky reader will win a week's worth of lactation cokies, courtesy of Birdie Bakes! Due to shipping restrictions, the contest is only open to readers in or near the Tampa Bay Area. For ways to enter, lease see the Rafflecopter form below. The contest begins today and ends next Tuesday, July 17th, 2012. The winner will be announced on the Diary of a Natural Mom Facebook page as well as on here.

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