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I’m always grateful that my child doesn’t have anaphylactic, “true” food allergies (true only means that they are not IgE food allergies that provoke anaphylactic shock, not that they are not really serious in other ways).

I’ve always been grateful for that for many reasons. A slip up doesn’t have the potential to end her life quickly. I don’t have to learn about how to use an epi-pen. I’ve never felt the panic that a parent must feel when their child is in the same room as a particular, harmless-to-everyone-else-around food. I’ve never seen her lips turn red and swell. I’ve never endured a night while she tries to sleep covered in itchy hives.

Perhaps now I’m even more grateful for that fact after the place where my child is supposed to be kept safe suddenly had a breakdown in the system.

A breakdown so simple it’s aggravating. At the beginning of the school year, when I filled out my first-grader’s student health form along with parents across the country, I wrote in the section about food allergies that she cannot have dairy, artificial colors or wheat. I met with the teacher. I discussed sending her safe treats.
Last year, kindergarten, I never had an issue.

But then the past few weeks my child had been acting different. We are all the way in March… just one quarter left to the school year. She went from getting “greens” for her behavior every day to getting yellows and reds. She went from getting all 7 of her spelling words correct at the end of the week to getting 2 out of 7 correct.
She came home, unwilling to eat, emotionally fragile all the time—one night clutching her stomach and going to bed around 6:30. She missed 4 or 5 days of school in a 3 week period.

Then we got a call from the school telling us we owed a cafeteria balance, because our daughter had been eating breakfast at school for the past two weeks.

We both noticed something was off with her. We both wondered… am I giving her too much sugar? Chocolate? Not getting her to bed on time? Not spending enough time with her after the recent baby was born?

Nope. She’d simply been eating all three of the things that screw her body all up. Artificials being the worst. Dairy next. And wheat being tolerable in small amounts when she is otherwise healthy, but a bad idea when she isn’t.
She figured out, just being outgoing and curious as she always is— that if she goes to the cafeteria on her way to class in the morning she gets given a second breakfast. The teacher doesn’t know she’s there and the cafeteria seemed unaware of the fact that she can’t eat there. And they were most definitely supposed to know.

We both felt a little in shock as she listed the things she’d been eating. More than enough to make her sick, make her unable to concentrate on her school work and cranky and tummy-achy at home. First I went to her teacher.
She felt awful. The look on her face when I explained the change in her behavior let me know she did.
“Maybe I should have called you when she came in with breakfast,” she’d said.

Well, yes, she should have. She didn’t connect the dots about her not being able to eat lunch carrying over into unsafe food at breakfast. Yet, I’m not really upset at her. I hate my kid being sick being an example or anything, but I’m willing to bet it was a learning experience for this teacher that might be helpful to a mom and child in the future.

That’s not even the major breakdown in the system. Maybe that’s why I’m not that perturbed with her. One teacher can only do so much when she has 20 other kids to look after. So one kid comes in after breakfast that has some food allergies—she isn’t going to automatically realize and that sucks but I get it.

It was *really* affirming to me that I am doing the right thing with my kid’s diet when a person who knows probably next to nothing about food intolerance says “That explains so much!” If the teacher saw the difference in her too, well, that makes me feel good about how I feed her.

After the teacher, I had to go and speak with the cafeteria manager and front office. That was the real breakdown.
Apparently, my child’s student health form was never sent to the cafeteria. Her name was never added to the manager’s binder. Her intolerances were never added to her name when they pulled it up and rang up the food that makes her sick.

I’m not sure whose job that is. Was it the teacher’s? Was it the front office’s job when they got the student health form and it had food allergies listed?

I mean, really, whose fault would this be if a kid went into shock? Now– if she had that type of allergy the school would probably have an epi-pen and this mistake probably wouldn’t have happened. But probably is way too large a margin for the child that you nurture and spend your life loving and raising. What if the epi-pen stayed with the teacher, and the child, like mine, bopped on into the cafeteria in the morning before class officially started?
The system to keep her healthy and safe broke down along the way in that the cafeteria never got the forms I filled out.

The cafeteria manager took me seriously, apologized a few times, entered her allergies right on the spot, and then asked me to pay the $6 for the food my kid ate. The front office ladies seemed much less concerned. I will probably write a letter about this to the principal.

What’s unfortunate is that the food she was fed is not good food for *any* human. It has no place in a building that’s sole purpose is to foster the development of the next generation of minds that will shape our world. I have no doubt my kid is not the only one that can’t focus and has tummy aches after eating Trix and Cocoa pebbles.

What’s done is done and my kid is still recovering from the effects of two weeks of bad eating. She gets a near addictive response. She’s stolen candy at the store—snuck candy at two other houses and tried to hide it—fed her little sister something with gluten that she snuck (so now I have *two* sick children).

I think a lot of parents think that if they give their kid just a “little” of the junk—in “moderation”—then they won’t pine for it. But in actuality, for many of us, it just makes us want it more. There are biological reasons for that— that I’m not going to write about now. But I hope this saga is over. And I hope my kid gets back to herself quickly.

Not only for her, but for us as parents. Her behavior is really hard to cope with. Why on earth parents thing it’s harder to eat free of artificial stuff and anything else their kid is allergic/intolerant than to deal with regular colds, tummy aches and tantrums is truly beyond my comprehension. And it’s not like I’m a good cook. I’m not. I’ve just figured out fast ways to always make homemade food and keep us healthy. It’s just easier that way.

As I walked into a restaurant the other day, the lady greeting me asked “Don’t you have a car seat to bring in?”

“No, I prefer to hold him,” I answered, and she smiled.

It’s so funny to me that these detachable car seats have become a part of the developed world’s parenting culture.

Even at our first trip out to the store when the baby was two weeks old, my husband just assumed we’d take in the car seat and put it in the cart– which I hate doing– while I made sure to have my wrap with us. If I’m going to be somewhere for an hour and a half, I want the baby with me, smelling me, feeling close to me– not enveloped in a plasticky, impersonal car seat, and– at least in my mind– more likely to need to be held when I’m at home and may want to put him down for a minute.

I don’t have a huge objection to detachable infant car seats, and our car seat does detach, though I could take it or leave it more than most people. My husband definitely wanted the detachable car seat, but we use it mostly for the advantage of bringing it in the house when it is cold outside and taking him to the car from our house to a warmed car than anything else. I don’t really cart the baby around stores or restaurants in it at all.

I think people tend to think this is convenient, especially if the baby is sleeping, but I’d rather babywear. It’s more convenient to me. The car seats are heavy and cumbersome to me. And then you have to take them out to feed them or change them anyway. I always put the baby in a wrap and keep him next to my chest while we are out. It keeps me in tune with him– I know when he needs to eat before he fully wakes up and gets upset, and I know if he needs to be changed.

Part of it is the paranoia that this baby will be how his older sister Ada was in the car seat. She had so much tummy trouble and “colicky” behavior because of her then undiscovered gluten-intolerance that car drives were hell. Literally. I’d put her in at the very, and I mean *very*, last instant and drive as quickly as was safe because she’d scream for far more car drives than she didn’t. We switched her from the detachable one to a Britax convertible car seat at 6 months old anyway. It may have help but that’s also the time we started figuring out her stomach problems, so who knows.

Either way, I think I’m becoming more entrenched in the baby wearing subculture with each baby. I wore my first in a ring sling, and would nurse her that way because it helped with my over-active milk ducts– nursing upright and while walking. I wore the second in the wrap because it would soothe her to sleep with her tummy pain and my first was only 2 at the time. It was much easier to keep track of them both at a store and to get work done at the house with one strapped to my chest.

This time I’ve been wearing the baby just about anytime I get up to do anything. Clean the kitchen, do some work for my business, vaccuum. He’s been in the wrap a better part of today so far, and is still there now, which is why I decided to go ahead and write a blog post. He’s snoozing away.

I still make a lot of milk– too much again, for the third time around, to have a baby that can effectively comfort nurse. Often, as a baby nurses off to sleep the milk flow tapers down and they drift off well. My breasts will continue to bring more and more milk until the baby is overfull and hurting and sometimes gagging. He’ll either spit it all up, or cry until he falls asleep and the food can digest, or come off to burp and I can put him in the wrap and walk around. This soothes him to sleep without getting such a full, painful tummy. Thank goodness. Usually when he does spit it all up it’s because it’s nighttime and I’m tired and therefore let him continue to nurse b/c I don’t want to get back up again!

Between working at home, trying to get housework done and having two other kids to keep track of, I think he’ll spend a good part of his first year in the wrap. I still put him in a swing or bouncer some, but I’ve just never succesfully had a baby that will sleep that way– not next to someone– though he will sit there for a bit. He’s the most easy-going baby I’ve had. I obviously missed the mommy class on how to have a child sleep without me being close, b/c it does seem that other people accomplish that. It is beyond me.

What baby doesn’t want to be snuggled up on their mother anyway? With my first I always wanted to put her down. She slept well in the car seat or co-sleeper, and mildly tolerated a bouncer or swing, and was mostly in the wrap at stores or if I really wanted to get something done. Now fast forward to the third, and I no longer care about anyone’s assertions or advice that I should put him down, and it doesn’t bother me as much either to have a baby that wants me just about 24-7. He gets to be held all the time just because it’s easier. And he’s still quite good about going to my husband at nighttime when I put our 4-year-old to bed and give her some one-on-one attention.

My oldest truly has the position of oldest. More responsible. She had to share me at age 2– and with a colicky sister, she cried to sleep with her father b/c she wanted me so much. The second one is 4 with an easy going little brother that I hold all day and is happy to go to his father at bedtime. Both the younger ones hugely benefit from the experience we learned from having the first one. It seriously makes me want to go snuggle with her and tell her she’s the most amazing 6-year-old there is.

It seems each child I have gets more of me because I get better at taking care of babies and know already which tools– like the baby wrap or sling– I plan to utilize.

Even the eldest’s attitude towards the baby benefits him, because my 4-year-old mimics her. If she didn’t have such a sweet example to follow, I’m not sure that she would be quite as positive to the new baby. But so far there have been no hard feelings at all. There is a little insecurity and both older girls have needed some time with me, alone, that I’ve tried to give them. Baby wearing does make that easier.

It honestly makes everything easier. On the one hand, sure, it’s easier to clean the kitchen without a baby tied on my chest, but if having him there makes him happier to be put down when my older girls need me, or when I need to do something for me— you know, like, *shower*, then baby wearing makes life better.

Yesterday Darius and I left the house for the first time, aside from picking up my oldest from school one day but not getting out of the car.

We had our 2-week appointments at the birth center where he was born.  He’s gained over a pound which is pretty cool, and I’m doing fine too.  The drive is over an hour away and I was nervous about it.

I’ve been content to just Babymoon,since it’s my third time doing this and I’m at a place in my life as a mother where I can just enjoy the baby stuff and not really want to rush it, even though feeding and holding a baby 24/7 can still be overwhelming at times.

But being nervous about the drive is part of the reason I haven’t gone anywhere.  Ada had such a hard start in life and a difficult time in cars even up to 18 months or 2 years old, though it got a lot better after she turned a year.

I told the midwife yesterday that in some ways it’s like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I doubt I’m the only parent that has had a colicky– difficult– high needs– food allergic/in pain– whatever phrase you want to use– I doubt I’m the only parent that is holding their breath waiting for the next baby to get fussy and cry all the time too.

But Darius nurses well, and sleeps well (in my arms mostly, at this point) and is mostly content, most of the time.  

I’d say that this time I feel like a ‘seasoned’ mother.  I’ve had the lack of sleep, the nursing all the time, the holding all the time.  And I’m okay with it.

When you have a child in first grade, sleeping on their own, able to get their own snacks, able to ask you abstract questions about the world— holding a baby all day for three months or so and feeding him 12 times a day really *doesn’t* seem like such a big deal.

Yesterday when we drove home, it took two hours.  We had to stop twice because he was crying.  But eventually he nursed twice and wore himself out (and filled a few diapers!) and slept and we got home.

With my first kid I would have thought this was just totally exhausting.  But with him my husband and I both are simply just willing to stop, take care of him, and be patient as we make our way home.

The little rascal nursed for two solid hours when we got home and protested if he thought I was setting him down for a second.  I would have found that overwhelming with my oldest, but now it doesn’t bother me.  And I plan on holding him all day today too, to make up for his upset yesterday.

At a group I run for nursing and working mothers, I see a lot of new moms.

Many come in with the common concerns, the worries about the things they’ve been told.

“If I don’t put him down now he’ll never want to be put down.”

“My mom says I’m spoiling him.”

“I *can’t* nurse him this many times in a day!”

“I HAVE to put him down while he sleeps but he just wakes up!”

It’s true that I found those things hard the first time.  And it’s true that when people told me holding my first and nursing her and letting her co-sleep will not make her need me more I wasn’t sure I believed them, but I followed my heart on how I wanted to mother her. 

It’s true that when people told me children are young for such a short time and to try to cherish it, it didn’t help me at all.  It didn’t help me not feel exhausted and overwhelmed.

And now I know that’s very true, and yet when I say it to new moms I meet, I can tell they feel like I did back then.  So I’m not sure what the perfect thing to say to the new mom is, but I know now as an experienced mother none of this baby stuff bothers me at all.  He can need me all he wants and I won’t care.  With my first her needs were very very overwhelming.

At the same time, I knew where I stood in my attitude about how I wanted to mother without needing to read any books or anything.  When people told me *not* to hold her so much, or co-sleep, or that if I nurse past a year she’ll “never” stop (which is a ridiculous exaggeration seeing as humans live for, oh, 70 years or so) I knew that wasn’t how I saw it, whether or not having a baby for the first time was tough.

In two weeks my husband is going back to work and Darius will have to get in the car on his older sister’s school schedule, I’ll have to start working at my business and deliver cupcakes a few times a week again soon and he will have to adjust.  Fortunately he’ll naturally want to be put down more as he gets more involved in the world, but either way, life is going to keep moving along.

I do wish those first-time moms I see that don’t want to hold or nurse their babies as much as their babies want it could see it–how fast the time will go– but I couldn’t either.  

And you can certainly read all the reasons why caring for a baby this way is beneficial to both mom and baby, and that helped me some when I was a younger mom.

The research about how stress hormones are released when a baby is left to cry that makes the baby react poorly to stress even as an adult, or how a baby left to cry cries much more often than a baby whose needs are met (so basically, leaving the baby to cry for long periods is like making the cycle worse and shooting yourself in the foot).

Understanding the mechanics of breastfeeding helped me too– that babies will nurse more during growth spurts and milestones and regulate the mother’s supply for all kinds of beneficial reasons, so feeding on demand and not on a schedule is also good for both.

Now I just don’t need any of the knowledge to be happy just holding him and feeding him.

As far as waiting for the other shoe to drop– waiting for an awful night of crying and pacing the halls until 3 a.m. or something, I figure if that happens it happens and I can’t change it now!

You never know what curveballs babies (and life) will throw you.  I certainly didn’t know anything about gluten or colicky babies before my middle child.  Or over-active milk ducts before my first. So I’m sure that whatever little Darius throws at me to make the next year or two tough is something I can’t even predict anyway!

Another safe birth and healthy baby are miracles that not many people take for granted. Maybe that’s why so many of us want to hear each other’s birth stories and so many of us are happy to share them. I’ve had a few people ask for Darius’ birth story and I’ve always written them down for me to look back at anyway.

This year in particular I feel especially grateful. I’ve had 4 friends in the past few years lose children before, during and after birth, in the first year of life. I don’t think anyone can understand that pain unless you’ve lived it– I certainly can’t– but to have a third guy here, born, healthy while I recover quickly– it’s nothing short of the best thing that can happen to a family, really and truly. We can never underestimate what a gift it is.

Darius’ birth was indeed quite different from my first two. Births are so similar in some ways, and yet all the little details make them different.

You can never believe you aren’t going to have to face a birth again (at least I never can!) and then after you’ve done it… after you’ve faced the pain and pushed a 7 pound human being out of your body– you can hardly believe that you did do it.

My oldest was born in a very typical hospital setting, the only thing saving me from many of the interventions I didn’t want being my educating myself, having a doula and the big one— having a complete surprise of a super fast labor and having her 20 minutes after I arrive. It was the exact mad dash rush to the hospital that I assured my husband only happens in the movies, and not to worry.

The second, I knew I wanted another natural birth and I knew I didn’t want it to be at a hospital, so I traveled about an hour and a half to a birth center in Chapel Hill, NC, staffed by midwives and yet five minutes away from UNC-Chapel Hill’s hospital– my impression being that it is a much baby friendlier place than the hospital where I live.

That baby was *also* born 20 minutes after I arrived. Sheesh.

So this time our hope was for me not to be in transition– right in the throes of serious labor pain that will lead to pushing– in a car. Nearly identical to my second birth, I woke up on a Sunday morning having contractions, timed a few, and just knew I was going into labor. Unlike that birth though, my labor all but stopped while I was in the car. That birth it progressed and progressed and that ride I was coping with contractions the entire time.

This third birth my contractions slowed but were expected to pick up once we arrived. When a mother is in an unnatural or unsafe place to give birth, her labor will either speed up or slow down, according to what her body thinks is safest.

If my water hadn’t broken on its own, we probably would have gone home and called it a false start. After 3 hours and about three miles of walking around the birth center, the midwife advised I either go somewhere and rest and see if labor kicks in or augment the labor with black and blue cohosh and belly binding. I want to find more information on belly binding to share with you all, but so far preliminary searching comes up with postpartum belling binding.

It was en entirely different experience for me… the walking around, the attempting to make labor keep going. It wasn’t anything I had ever, ever, ever had to consider with my other births– the births that started like freight trains and kind of left me dazed and pushing as fast as my husband could get me to the right place!

I decided to send my kids home with my mother and “augment” the labor. Of course, if I were at a hospital with a doctor that would be done with Pitocin, a synthetic form of the hormone oxytocin, which will indeed interfere with a woman’s natural oxytocin after birth and doesn’t allow for breaks for the mother and the rhythm of natural labor. Sarah J. Buckley’s research on how pitocin affects our natural hormones is pretty interesting– I saw her speak on it several years ago at a birth conference.

But belly binding, though I’d only vaguely heard of it, seemed like an acceptable thing, and since my water was broken, I really had no desire to go and rest. At least my desire to go and rest was overshadowed by my desire to have the labor start for real. I kind of just wanted to have him! I can see now why women do choose harmful interventions because once your water is broken its a tad frustrating that labor isn’t really kicking in. Had I had a homebirth, I bet my body would have acted differently, or at least, taking a nap wouldn’t have mattered. Either way, the belly binding seemed natural enough to fit into my comfort level of letting nature take it’s course while in labor. The contractions and water breaking happened spontaneously– when the little boy was ready.

They tied a sheet around my tummy as I lifted it, which pushes the baby downward and increases the pressure on my pelvis and thus the contractions. We decided to go to Whole Foods and pick up some gluten-free meals for me to eat after the birth, since it had become apparent that he would be born at night and not in the morning when we arrived– it was about 4 p.m. at this point, and we’d arrived at the birth center at 11:30 a.m.

First we went upstairs to the Birth Center’s boutique where I bought a nice nursing bra with a gift card that a guy who fell off his motorcycle in front of my house gave me. I’ll be he had no idea what I’d spend it on! Labor was picking up again directly after the belly wrapping. We then started to Whole Foods and by the time we got there I knew– it was going to happen soon.

I may have started to cry a bit and asked my husband why my body seems to think I have to be in a car or at a public store when labor starts to get painful??? Labor picked up for me or continued at Wal-Mart, a restaurant getting Azita food with the second, and now at Whole Foods. He ran in and got the food and I continued to freak out and tell him to get me back to the birth center ASAP. It was only 5 minutes away.

We got back and I told the midwife I was officially in pain. She checked me and I’d moved to 5 cm dilated, which is about what I felt like. She wanted to start the bath so that I could finally make it in time for a water birth, and with my history of fast labors, I’m glad she did– though at the time I– once again, even being the one in the middle of painful contractions– didn’t seem to realize just how close I was.

She put me in the shower, which always helps the pain, while she filled the bath.

I was in the bath for about an hour before he was born. In all I went from 5 cm to birth in about an hour and a half. He was born at 6:20.

It was an entirely different thing this time, being at the birth center, focusing on labor, letting it come while not at my house. The last hour of his birth was incredibly serene, actually, though during contractions my insides and head felt pretty tumultuous.

In between contractions I just soaked in the tub, holding my husband’s hands and almost… sleeping? Zoning out? I’m not sure but it was very, very quiet and the lights were low. During contractions I breathed very heavily, stared at my husband while he tried to keep me from hyper-ventilating, wished that my hands and legs hadn’t gone numb and wondered how many more of these contractions I could take.

About 45 minutes in the tub and the midwife told my husband that my contractions were about 3-4 minutes apart when he asked, and yet she told me it could be any contraction now that he descends down and my body starts to naturally push.

I freaked out inside— thinking that my contractions needed to be every 1-2 minutes… and yet, just a few contractions later, down he went and the huge climax that is birth was happening. Lord have mercy, what woman experience with a natural birth. Oy, how it felt when he descended into the birth canal. It’s indescribable. I started flailing around and trying to change positions, I don’t know what I was trying to do. Squat, maybe. But between the midwife and my husband I just did what they said– somehow willing myself that if I’d just calm down and push the pain would stop.

I screamed through a huge push, and through another, and out he came. It was the only birth where no one told me to stop screaming— perhaps this was because I was yelling while pushing, not stagnating. I’ve never screamed the “f” word and pushed out a baby at the same time. First time for everything.

When they handed him to me I was in disbelief– more than the girls, I don’t know why— that he was out. I kept repeating “I don’t believe it.” I guess because this time it was an all day process, and also because I’d again convinced myself that it was going to be several more hours when the midwife said my contractions were 3-4 minutes.

But I finally got my calm, peaceful water birth. I didn’t tear at all this time and am recovering well… a world of difference from my first birth, which included third degree tears and passing out from blood loss several hours after the birth.

The funniest thing this time I was that I wrenched my calf and thigh muscle flailing around when he descended down, and that hurt about as much this week as the birth-recovery part!

I got out of the tub, made it into the bed, and have pretty much been nursing or holding him ever since. We got home that night about 2 a.m.

Darius’ First Week

Sometimes you know as you tell people things over and over that you may end up being wrong. I was totally sure that our third kiddo, Darius, was going to come around his due date.

I was already the weight I was when I delivered my older girls at 38 weeks but I thought that was because Darius was going to be bigger. I felt overly exhausted the last few weeks and kept getting lots of false little labor starts where I’d time contractions but with this third pregnancy, I felt every twinge and ache and pain more and that is supposed to be normal as your ab muscles get tired of being stretched yet again. He was measuring spot on for the amount of weeks he was, and fortunately he wasn’t really “early”, he was just born at 38 weeks and not 40. My other two kids went to 40 weeks so I thought he would too.

I’m happy he didn’t. It’s so much more fun getting all the birth-recovery stuff and engorgement out of the way while staring at a newborn little baby than being pregnant this week. And to know that labor pain and another natural birth and all the “what ifs” that not knowing how labor will go are behind me, I’m quite happy he’s already here.

Every time I said to someone “Oh I’ve still got a few weeks, he’s going to way until his due date” I kind of thought maybe he’d prove me wrong.

I can hardly compare this first week with him to the first week with my other girls. My husband is home this time. He knows how to handle babies. *I* know how to handle babies. My first few weeks with my first were entirely overwhelming and incredibly difficult, but this time I’ve been through the sleeping in two hour blocks, the breastfeeding stuff, the after birth stuff. And there are parts of it that are still pretty miserable, but this time I am just hanging out, nursing through the worst engorgement of all three kids, resting as my husband is home and cooking and cleaning (sort of!) and I have, since my first kid, acquired the ability to nurse and change a baby and go right on back to sleep.

What’s amazing is I have a great situation this time and I’m still pretty exhausted, so I know from previous babies how good this week has been.

I’m afraid to jinx anything of course, but Darius is a very laid back kid so far. I have over-active milk ducts, and make lots and lots and lots of milk, and my other girls did not handle it well– projectile spit-up is loads of fun.

But he is a nursing champ, and has only lost 2 ounces of his birth weight. Because he seems to handle the high volume of milk, I think he will gain weight quite differently from the girls that struggled for several months with my supply.

Being gluten-free may be helping that too. Ada’s vomiting was always related to gluten in *addition* to the fire-hydrant-boob syndrome. I don’t want to mess up the sleep I’m getting, and he’s starting to spit up a bit more, so I’m staying dairy and coffee free along with the gluten for now.

Either way, it’s been a good first week. Darius sleeps, and eats. And sleeps and eats. And with his dad around he’s been sleeping on him as well as me. We kind of hope since he’s able to be home with us this time, Darius won’t be so rigid in his sleeping needs as the girls, who pretty much had to have me. Of course, I’m never not there for him either, but it just can’t hurt that he’s got us both around for a bit.

He’s stayed awake for tiny little amounts of time more this week than last, but the girls can’t wait for him to just be awake and be someone they can play with. Azita is always overjoyed when his eyes are actually open! It’s kind of funny.

How much Halloween?

Each holiday season I am faced with considering how much of a certain holiday I want my kids to participate in.  I have friends whose involvement in ever-pervasive Halloween, Easter or Christmas American traditions ranges from none at all to full acceptance of every bit of it all– candy, stories that have not much to do with the origins or religion of the holiday, etc.

I guess I end up analyzing things each year for a few different reasons.

Some of it has to do with the fact that these holidays are incredibly secularized… Americanized… materialistic… and have little to do with any religion origins, whereas I have religious Holy Days and holidays that I want to emphasize to my children that do differ from the majority of holidays we celebrate here in the U.S. that are/were determined by Christianity.

If I celebrate something, I want to give respect to the religious tradition is sprang forth from.  I’m pretty inclusionary, however, so it doesn’t bother me for my children to participate and learn about the traditions of many different religions– it’s just that the hardest part of that is emphasizing the virtues and Baha’i celebrations when their friends and school overwhelmingly emphasize and celebrate other hoildays.

So part of me feels torn b/c I feel the need to explain to my kids the origin of what we are doing… not just send them off on an Easter egg hunt with no understanding of Christianity or springtime pagan rituals.

But right now it’s Halloween time and I also have do deal with the emphasis of candy and food.  And some people think even thinking about not doing it is being way too serious and depriving your kids.  But it’s different for people that are either in the food allergy/intolerance world or simply don’t eat fake stuff.  

We kind of do trick or treating just because everyone else does and its fun and the kids want to do fun stuff that everyone else will be doing.  It’s fun to dress up.  It’s certainly fun to get “treats”.  I haven’t delved into the All Hallow’s Eve, or Celtic and Pagan traditions with them.

I’m somewhere between wanting to teach my kids the holidays I deem more important and accepting that some things have evolved into American traditions, and we participate in them because of that, not so much because of religious reasons.  Certainly fall and harvest and pumpkins and spices are fun to celebrate.  

As far as the fact that our kids don’t each gluten, dairy or artificial colors and flavors, they think the Switch Witch is super cool.  I don’t know if that evolved in the food allergy world or not (but I’d bet that it did) but my kids totally accept that the Switch Witch switches out the candy that is not good for their bodies with good stuff.  I know some people switch it out with toys instead… we’ve done safe candies/treats in much more moderate amounts.  

It would be hard for me to not participate in Halloween at all— children are just so adorable all dressed up. And as much as I don’t like a religious holiday being diluted or the fact that all this candy is just such pure artificial GMO’d junk— I like that the kids walk around and see their neighbors.  Americans have lost so much community.  Fall festivals and traditions can and should be neighborly.  That’s what I like about it, so we just work around the food and other objections, I guess!

The third time around

I’m going to try to start blogging a bit more again. I started this blog around this time of the year when I was pregnant with Ada, so maybe it’s fitting if I write a bit more again at this time of year when I am pregnant with our third. He will be born sometime around 4-6 weeks before our second, in November instead of December.

I feel like motherhood has been a collection of joining new clubs, so to speak. First you are pregnant or with a young child, and you can kind of automatically have a new sentence or two to speak with other moms you see in a check out line. It took me about a year to realize that socializing with other moms was something I needed more than at random moments (I was in college and knew NO other mothers for a while).

So I joined the pregnancy club. Then the I-want-a-natural-birth club and had a doula. Then the breastfeeding club. The cloth diapering club. The babywearing club. Then with my second, I was even more bowled over to join the food allergy/intolerance club. And here I am again, realizing that I’ve joined a whole new club that I never saw coming. It just feels *different* having a third. Going from a four person family to a five person family just feels like you are graduating up to that next level of familyhood again. We had to get a bigger car– we will have a baby at the same time as a first grader. I have two kids at completely different stages of development… whereas when I had a 2 year old and a baby and a small car it didn’t seem that different going from one to two. And at restaurants the four person table would do just fine.

But now I’ll have three. I guess I’ll also join the I-have-a-boy club. Which I don’t believe, at this point, will be *nearly* as different as people want me to believe, but sure it’s still different. In respect to birth/babyhood, the decision to circumcise or not is probably the most different thing, but people already want to impose so many personality traits, assigned by gender, on the kid even though he isn’t even born yet. But our girls play with tools, love robots and have clothes that are not pink, so I’m not that convinced that it will be “a totally different world” as everyone wants me to believe.

Things have been different for me personally, the third time around, something I never knew to expect. As a third pregnancy, apparently— my body has enlightened me and all my mother friends and midwives have confirmed— you feel every single stretch and loosening and pregnancy symptom (related to getting bigger at least) quite a bit more. Oh, I feel *everything*. I have one strip of ab muscle that has hurt from 2-3 months pregnant… before I was showing at all. I get contractions all the time. I get the cervical pains all the time. The midwives say that the body simply has a harder time each pregnancy getting those ab muscles to stretch and the ligaments to loosen. I also have worse pains after birth as the uterus clamps back down to look forward to. I do remember it was quite a bit worse with Ada, each time she’d nurse I get cramps, and that is supposed to happen more so the third time.

It’s all worth it of course, but like all those other clubs, expecting a third kid introduced me to differences I’d never considered.

Some things this time around have been better. I’ve gained weight easier, been able to control the ridiculous heartburn easier through diet changes (knowledge afforded me by being in the food intolerance club and learning to understand how food affects me better— kids teach us so much!), no longer have low iron (probably from being gluten-free). I wish I could say the morning sickness was different but I was still sick for months, and months, and months. Having a boy didn’t seem to help that.

I’ve been in labor twice and it’s daunting to think of the third time around. But I tell myself it will happen, I can’t stop it, and soon it will be three years later and all this pregnancy/labor pain will be a memory and he’ll be talking and playing.

Some things I had thought I’d do the third time around I didn’t. I thought I’d have a homebirth if I ever had a third. I moved from hospital with the first to birth center with the second, and figured homebirth would be the next way I’d go. Part of me still mourns the thought that I won’t do it that way, however, we had some solid logical reasoning. The birth center I go to and trust is about a hour and a half away, in Chapel Hill, NC. The midwives are backed up by Chapel Hill’s hospital— so much better, more mother/baby friendly and respected than the hospital here in Fayetteville, NC. The thought of going back to the hospital here if there was a true emergency during a planned homebirth (as small of a chance as that is) was just decidedly *not* appealing to me or my husband.

I hope to make it in time to have a water birth this time, as with my second I made it to the birth center and had about 20 minutes before I gave birth.

My hopes for the third birth…. a water birth, another short labor– not so short I don’t make the drive up there, but not agonizingly long either!– and another good recovery, in the first four weeks postpartum. I’ve been blessed thus far. I get weekly chiropractic adjustments, which help with positioning the baby so he isn’t breech and keeping the mother’s labor short, with the other two I did yoga… this time I should be… and I stay as active and on my feet as I can. After the birth I breastfeed, which helps the mother’s uterus tone back down and I’ll do that again as well.

My hopes for the third baby…. oh, I don’t know, maybe he’ll pop out and sleep all night and not be colicky since I’m already gluten-free? Totally unlike the second? Well, at least I know the knowledge I gained with her may help us out!

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