Thank you for coming back today to share in our “Happy, Healthy & Loved. Stop the Mommy Wars!” series. It was so fun to unveil our photo project this week in Happy, Healthy & Loved. Stop the Mommy Wars! Part I. With each corresponding image, we are excited to describe the very personal choices we have made. Also, this is the way we are choosing to address “Mommy Wars” and we are honored to share in this process with you. We hope our images, coupled with the reasons we made these decisions, help to invoke fresh ideas and acceptance for mothers everywhere. We each do things a little differently, but our kiddos still turn out to be happy, healthy, and loved!
“Natural” – Chelse
I never second-guessed my intention for an all natural, drug free birth. My extended family members included an OBGYN and nurses and, therefore, I grew up hearing about and discussing birth. After these impressionable conversations and doing research of my own, I was able to put solid “reasons” behind my desire for an unmedicated birth. I wasn’t willing to take on the increased chance of a C-Section; I wanted immediate and total control of my own body during and after labor as opposed to being confined to a bed; and suffering the possible physical consequences of an epidural was unappealing to me. I also knew about the impact an epidural may have on our baby so I decided not to risk delivering a “drugged newborn” and possibly having a harder time with immediate nursing. Lastly, I fully believed in my own capacity and capability to deliver our baby the way I was designed to. I was convinced that I didn’t need medication to navigate my first birth and even after our birth classes, I never considered changing this viewpoint.
“Epidural” – Kerstin
From the moment I began to think about having a baby, I knew I wanted an epidural during childbirth. Some women had birth plans; I had an epidural plan. My wishes for my birth experience were minimal and pretty much included an epidural, having my husband and our moms there, and a delayed cord cutting. I never had a strong need to know that I could conquer natural childbirth or to experience the pain associated with it. I believe modern medicine and the freedom to choose are amazing things. And, in my experience, I feel blessed to have had access to both. Certainly, an epidural isn’t right for everyone and just like all things, there are benefits, risks, upsides, and downsides. After a discussion with my doctor, it was clear my preference was definitely an epidural. Luckily, everything worked out (you can read about it here and here) and I was able to get an epidural. In hindsight, I feel like I remember so many small details about my labor because I was relaxed and it was mostly pain free. My experience was more calm and peaceful (at least prior to the moments when our little bundle started to make his appearance and a complete pandemonium of excitement broke loose) than I imagined and I believe that’s partly in credit to my epidural.
“C-Section” – Chelse
As you have already read in The Start of a Movement: Baby A’s Birth Story Part I and Part II, my first birth experience went in the complete opposite direction of my dreams, wishes, and desires. I had only planned for an all natural, unmedicated, vaginal birth. The outcome of my cesarean section was nothing short of devastating and I have had to work extremely hard to recover mentally, physically, and emotionally. The “silver lining blessings” to my “gray birth cloud” include a baby I endlessly adore; a journey which has made my marriage stronger; information that has empowered me; hope for a healing VBAC; and the start of a movement where I have been able to offer my voice for other women and make a difference in the way babies are born in my own hometown. (For more information on this movement, VBAC Casper, click here.)
“Vaginal” – Kerstin
As I described in N’s Birth Story Part I and II, I fully prepared for and expected a vaginal delivery and that was exactly my experience. I don’t credit this to anything other than a patient doctor who let me labor for nearly 24 hours and a God that had a plan for me. When it comes to this, I feel like I was just along for the ride.
“Exclusive Breastfeeding” – Chelse
In 10 Essentials for Nursing Moms I explained, “Nursing our son was one of the most wonderful experiences I encountered during his first days and months on this earth. Many things contributed to our nursing success including a supportive husband and raw dedication. I highly encourage every mom to breastfeed. Along with supporting the health of our babies, there is a magical emotional state we can experience as mommies through this bonding process.” I sincerely believe this and was able to exclusively breastfeed our son through the first six months of his life. I carefully monitored my diet and he was a wonderful nurser. Once we found a solid routine, we had a very successful nursing experience even when we reached the point of pumping and bottle feeding in between breastfeeding sessions. We did not supplement his nutrition in anyway and he always maintained a healthy weight.
“Supplementing Breastfeeding with Formula” – Kerstin
One thing being a mom has taught me is I’m not always in control. In some instances, choices I planned on making myself, have from necessity, been made for me. As you can read here Hold Your Tongue – Literally!!!, N struggled to gain weight solely from my breastmilk. Working with our pediatrician, we were able to come up with a feeding plan that included my breast milk as N’s primary food source with supplemental formula following each feeding. Using Enfamil A.R., we were able to keep both the breastmilk and formula down and give N additional, needed calories. I hope to write an independent post about this eventually because I struggled to be okay with the need to supplement. It hurt my feelings that I couldn’t provide him what I was designed to give him to keep him healthy and growing. I was, however, grateful that our pediatrician was supportive of me continuing to breastfeed and have this bonding opportunity with my new son.
“No Nipple Shield” – Chelse
If there is any area in which I feel completely blessed and capable as a mom, it is nursing. Even though the staff at our local hospital had no intention of bringing our baby to me in the recovery room after my traumatic c-section, my husband insisted. Our son latched onto my breast immediately after being rejoined with me and as I described in The Start of a Movement: Baby A’s Birth Story Part II, “There was something beautiful in that moment as a small sense of peace was restored to me. I knew that I would be able to do something according to plan. Just as had happened while he was growing inside of me, I could nourish his body. I could sustain his life outside of my womb and provide for him in a way that no one else could. I found hope in each suck and thanked my god for our beautiful new baby.” I am blessed to record nursing as a small mommy victory. As you probably remember reading in Bitter Sweet Separation: Weaning Our 14 Month Old, however, weaning was much more challenging for our family!
“Nipple Shield” – Kerstin
Yet, another experience and decision out of my control. You can read about N’s tongue tie here. This was the primary reason for the need to use a nipple shield. We used the nipple shield from the day he was born until the day after his tongue was clipped. We were mostly successful using it and it allowed me to keep nursing when other factors threatened our feeding plan. Is it something I would have used if it wouldn’t have been necessary? No, there’s just really no need under normal circumstances. But I’m thankful we had access to it at the time we did (I plan to write a more lengthy and informational post at some point).
“Caffeine Free” – Chelse
From the moment Daddy D and I started trying to conceive, I gave up caffeine and coffee entirely. Late in my 3rd trimester I did give into my cravings for chocolate and would indulge when I wanted. In Bitter Sweet Separation: Weaning Our 14 Month Old, I reflected on the time when I reintroduced coffee into my diet after weaning. It had been nearly TWO YEARS and I’ll tell you that the first sip was wonderful! (That first cup made me a little jittery, even.) I’m seriously dreading giving up coffee for future pregnancies and breastfeeding times. It has become a diet staple in my life as I live life with the Energizer Bunny (also known as a toddler). I’m not sure how I will make it through my mornings and days without that extra jolt. What I do know is that it will be worth the sacrifice, once again, to help keep a healthy heart for the baby and to enjoy smooth nursing and sleeping patterns when I’m learning to be the mom of two precious children.
“One Cup Of Coffee A Day” – Kerstin
I’m not a huge soda drinker so coffee was the only thing I needed to cut. As I mentioned, when I was pregnant with N, I was pretty sick those first few months so coffee didn’t even sound good. The smell and idea of it alone made me nauseous. So, I stayed away from coffee throughout my pregnancy. Once N was born, after consulting with my doctor I chose to have one cup of coffee a day. My love for it quickly bounced back and, boy, did I need it during those early days. I always tried to have it right after our morning nursing session so that it was mostly out of my system by the time I nursed again.
Part III…here we come!
So, here we will end Part II of our “Happy, Healthy & Loved. Stop the Mommy Wars!” series. We had intended on wrapping up today. There is too much to share, however! We don’t mean to string this series along, but we will wrap everything up in our final post next Tuesday, we promise! Please join us then and share your thoughts with us in the interim!