Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Many people know what a placenta is, but they don't really know about its wonderful benefits and all that it has to offer for a new mom. Yes, the placenta is an organ necessary for growing a baby. We know it produces hormones to support a pregnancy and filters wastes out of the baby's bloodstream. But there is so much more to it than that!

During my recent birth I told you that we delayed the cutting of the cord. The baby's blood continues to circulate in the placenta and by waiting to cut it, you give baby a chance to collect extra oxygen from the mothers blood to help ease their new job of breathing air. By waiting until the cord is no longer pulsating, baby not only reincorporates his own blood, it also helps to regulate breathing and heart rates, body temperature, reduces the risk of jaundice and contributes to an easier time breastfeeding.

Some people bury their placentas and plant a tree over it in honor of their child. Some chose to do interesting art prints to display the true beauty of such an organ. It has been nicknamed "The Tree of Life" because the pattern seen by the blood vessels really does look like a tree! To see Levin's life support up close and personal was amazing and absolutely priceless. But I personally didn't do either of the above things. Instead...I consumed it.

Now I know what you're thinking - this chick is crazy! A few years ago I would have completely agreed with you. But the more that I researched and learned, it is a wonder why more women don't do the same.

The placenta is packed with vitamins and minerals, especially iron. Childbirth often leaves women depleted in their iron stores and it is crucial for them to receive some back, especially in cases of hemorrhaging. The benefits of a mother consuming her placenta have been around for some time and are widely seen in traditional Chinese medicine. Every mammal consumes their placentas after giving birth. Did you ever wonder why? It is mother natures perfect gift given to women when they need it most.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, the placenta helps battle fatigue, replenishes your iron, helps the uterus shrink back down to size, strengthens your kidneys, helps to balance hormones, and aids in bringing in an abundant milk supply. All that from a simple organ? You bet!

It takes roughly two weeks for your brain to get the signal that you have delivered, and that it is now time to regulate hormones and their levels. Nearly 80% of women experience what they call the 'baby blues' because of this. The first few weeks in the postpartum period are emotional, there's no doubt about that.

The placenta has been in symbiotic relationship with your baby for 9 whole months as it's life support. Just because you've birthed your baby, and your placenta, it doesn't mean that it's done doing its intended job. It's hard to believe that such an amazing organ would be of no further use to a mom when times are often the toughest.

The healing and nourishing properties of the placenta are undeniable. Encapsulating your placenta is a simple and effective way to return all of those lost nutrients back into your body. It is dried, powdered, and then placed into capsules...it's that simple! I had mine done by a local herbalist (who was also meant to attend my birth...oops!) but you can easily do this process on your own.

I could never fathom actually eating it. Baked/fried/Bbq'd placenta? Um, no thanks! But encapsulating it allows for it to be taken discretely for weeks into the postpartum period. The pills do have a bit of an unpleasant smell, but all you have to do is swallow them down with a big 'ol glass of liquid of your choosing.

I was very emotional after my first birth and cried at the drop of a dime. For me, it was more of pure love and joy, but still emotional nonetheless. Every time I looked at my baby I would become so overwhelmed with happiness that I couldn't contain it. Although that may sound like a great thing, it made me feel like a mad woman!

I have now been taking my placenta pills for a month (minus a little here and there) and I feel great! I can totally see why some women refer to these as their 'happy pills'. I had to stop taking them briefly when I started getting mastitis and let me tell you, I could totally see a difference. That whole week I was sobby and emotional and down right exhausted. After starting them up again, I felt rejuvenated and happy. Caring for a newborn is a lot of work and quite the demand on your body (both physically and emotionally). I couldn't imagine struggling with postpartum depression at the same time, but I know that is very common for a lot of new moms. Consuming your placenta can help. It truly can. By ingesting all of your nutrients and hormones back into your body, you don't have to deal with the sudden drop off that causes so many of these issues.

I was sold on the benefits before actually doing this, now I can't imagine the postpartum period any other way. I honestly think that these pills are what made the transition from having one to two children easier. Taking care of yourself first is crucial. I think everyone owes it to themselves to be in a happy state so that they can truly mother the way that they imagined they could. The baby blues do roll around for most women. Thankfully there's a safe, natural, and easy way to rid them away!

I will most definitely be informing all of my doula clients about placenta encapsulation!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mommy Confessions

"Mother's of little boys work from son up 'til son down" -Unknown
Now ain't that the truth! I came across this quote recently and chuckled because it explains my life...as fun, chaotic, and exhausting as it may be.

When I had my first son it took a while before I left the house for outings. I lounged around in my pj's all day nursing and napping. This time around, that wasn't an option. Not only do I have a very active two year old, but I now know the importance of maintaining a social life - both for me and the boys. Interacting with other adults keeps me sane and giving Lucas play dates, along with his preschool interactions, helps in more ways than one.

Juggling two hasn't necessarily been hard, but it has required me to prioritize a great deal. The first few weeks I found myself trying to do chores rather than eating, and catching up on shows/internet sites rather than activities with Lucas. It's difficult trying to fit everything in when you have limited time to yourself to do them. But I think we've found our groove and are functioning just fine. Restructuring my days to get the most out of them can be a challenge, but really only required a little less emphasis on me. If you're a mom, you totally get where I am coming from.

So here are my confessions:

*I haven't showered in days
*My legs haven't been shaved since before Levin was born
*My eyebrows are starting to look like a bushy creature living on my face
*I skim on meals for myself just to ensure the boys are fed
*I have fallen further behind on laundry than ever before
*I've worn milk/puke stained clothes out in public. Many times.
*I only bathe my kids when they need it...which definitely isn't every day
*I nearly killed my beta fish from lack of remembering to feed him.
*I have forgotten to pay a bill on time - that NEVER happens
*My to-do list has continued to grow
*I left my wallet at the checkout counter of the store
*The inside of my car had even my husband making comments about it

At the end of the day my boys are fed, happy and content and that it all that truly matters. If I have to skip out on certain activities for myself and around the house...then so be it. Before I know it they will be grown up and not require any of my time. Then I'll regret not spending as much of it with them as I possibly could.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Anyone who's potty trained a child has heard that life stressers such as moving, trauma, birth of a sibling, or even just a large change in routine can lead to regression. I was thrilled when we successfully potty trained Lucas and thought that we were in the clear. I honestly didn't expect him to partially regress backwards, but he has.

Between a mixture of trying to assert his independence and struggling between rather he wants to be a baby or a big kid, we have been dealing with a fair share of accidents these past few weeks.

It all began when my mother and younger brother were up visiting. I was shocked to see that Lucas has pee'd his pants one day and that he completely failed to tell me. This never happens. I brushed it off and assumed that he got caught up in his play and was just far too preoccupied interacting with Cameron. But then it happened again. And again. And again. He would get extremely frustrated when questioned about it and couldn't give me an explanation as to what was going on. After a while he did smart back with a comment: "but the baby pee's in his pants." This is when I knew there was a tinge of jealousy going on. I then made it more of a point to ask/remind him to use the potty, but he made it clear that he didn't want me to talk about it...at all.

After a week or so of these occasional accidents, he would go in as if he were using the potty, but come out with soaked pants. I would ask why he peed in his pants and he would yell back with "but I did go potty" right before he stormed off. This happened repeatedly for a few times and I didn't understand what was going on. Was he just running to the bathroom to have an accident? Could he not unbutton his pants? Or maybe he just failed to get them pulled down in time? I had no idea.

But then I figured it out. He had decided that he no longer wanted to use his step stool anymore, but rather stand up on his tippy toes while trying to aim. Obviously this wasn't working. I told him that he has to stand on the stool every time he goes but he yelled back "but I'm tall like Cameron!" And yes, every response was in fact a yell because that is how he has been talking to me lately. Frustrating, I know.

So here I am, feeling horrible. He obviously is struggling a great deal with finding his place. He spent one week mimicking the baby and the next trying to be 'big' like his uncle Cam. The whole ordeal has been stressful for us all and created far more laundry than I have time to do. I know this is completely normal so I am treading lightly around the entire subject and reminding myself to be patient. My constant questions and reminders and very unappreciated by Lucas, but they work. The majority of the time he uses the restroom without problems, and he never has #2 accidents, but I guess he just needs that extra bit of attention. Everybody needs a little extra lovin' now and again...especially when you're 2.5 and your home has been invaded by a little person that demands your mommy and daddy's attention quite often. I totally get it.

Here's to hoping things go back to normal soon.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


I am a firm believer that successful parenting must incorporate a fair amount of routine and schedule. The biggest kicker for me is the nap and evening sleep routine. That is where I stand my strongest ground as a mother and I am so thankful for the strides I've made...with both boys.

As a first time mom I completely spoiled Lucas. In all reality, who doesn't? But the one parenting obstacle that I truly stuck to was nap time. I am thankful for starting such a consistent routine so early because it truly instilled an easy habit for him to follow as he's aged. Lately, it seems that I always tend to be nursing the baby right as it's time to get Lucas down, but he's been such a champ about it. Once I mention that it's nap time he goes potty and gets into bed. On his own! That is of course unless daddy comes home for lunch and throws him for a loop. Then all easiness flies right out the window. Now we just need to work on getting him back into his own room/bed. Ugh.

Even when I did daycare nap was never a hassle. Once kids have a set routine for a fair amount of time, they learn to expect it. Life can't be all chaotic and out of order...children thrive for a routine to follow.

With Levin, I nurse on demand and kind of just go with the flow for his natural rhythm. I thought it would take us quite a while to figure out a good pattern and routine, but he has proved me wrong. I can honestly say that since he turned 3 weeks old he has been fairly predictable and so easy to manage. Our night time routine is almost identical each night...down at 11, up at 2:30-3 to nurse, right back to sleep, then up again between 6:30-7 to nurse once more. This is absolutely amazing for a just-one-month-old baby! But like I said, he is like clockwork!

I decided that it was now time for me to transition him into his own little bed. If you remember be mentioning before, I allowed him to sleep on my chest each and every night while he was sick. This created one very bad habit that I needed to nip in the butt immediately! A few nights back I made it a point to swaddle him very well after his nursings and place him directly into his bed. And what do ya know...he did perfect! I expected him to whine and fuss or wake up more frequently (since that's exactly what he would do during the day if I tried to lay him down), but he didn't. In fact, after one nursing I really had to use the restroom so I laid him down before I had a chance to rock him to sleep. When I came back out he was all the way off into dreamland already!

This got me to thinking. I used the same approach with Lucas when he was quite a bit older but I was curious if I could get Levin to recognize his bed as a sleeping environment sooner rather than later. So far it's been a great success! We're on day three of me placing him down before he's actually out and he has yet to refuse any sleep. In fact, I was having a really difficult time getting him to sleep a little bit ago and after fighting him for quite some time I decided to swaddle him up and lay him down. He sat there and looked around for a minute or two then was out without a fuss. What a stinker! Independence at 4 weeks...who would have guessed?

As I'm sitting here typing, both of my boys are down for nap. Levin just opened his eyes, looked around for a minute, then went right back to sleep. Lucas woke up mid nap complaining that he was thirsty so he came out to the kitchen, took a drink of milk, and went right back to bed. I didn't even have to say anything. How crazy is that?

So yes, I am 100% for sticking to a sleeping regiment. Healthy sleeping habits are golden and the sooner you start them, the better! Although I know a baby's temperament plays a large role, the trick for infants is to swaddle, swaddle, swaddle! And to help him learn the difference between night and day I have used the same tactics every night since he has been born: keep it dark and don't interact. He's never even tried to stay awake in the middle of the night. I hear stories and read about babies who are up all night long for hours at a time and I thankfully cannot relate. Both of my boys always nursed right back to sleep without any problem. Guess I'm just lucky!

So although it's a bittersweet feeling and I really miss cuddling with him as he sleeps, I know this is for the best. I can still watch him sleep and cuddle him while we nurse, so I guess it's ok. And as for habits, my goal is to not give him a pacifier at night. I want for him to be comfortable soothing himself to sleep just like Lucas did. I never had to break the habit because it never even started up...just the same with bottles too. If they don't have them, they'll never know the difference!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mom's Visit

My mom and youngest brother, Cameron, just left yesterday after visiting us in Alaska. They got to come up for 11 days and spend lots of quality time with my family!

The last time they came up to visit was when Lucas was two weeks old. My mom really loved being able to see Levin at the same age. Even she agrees that he looks just like his big brother!

I had a million and one things that I wanted to do with them, but getting out of the house in the mornings always proved to be a hassle. It is very difficult when your entire day has to revolve around a nursing baby, but we did manage to explore quite a bit.

One a rainy morning we hit up an indoor park and the kids had an absolute blast!

I took them to the Imaginarium at the Alaska Museum and the boys got to explore all things science and visit the Alaska exhibit upstairs.

We tested out a new bounce house place called Pump it Up and got super lucky...we had the entire place to ourselves! It sure wore the older boys out, and Levin seemed to enjoy himself too!

We still made sure to attend Lucas' preschool on Tuesday and Thursday. His teacher was kind enough to let my mom and Cameron tag along.

We took a road trip down to Seward to visit the Alaska Sea Life Center. We had so much fun, especially playing with the Sea Lion. It absolutely LOVED the boys and we had quite the audience around us!

On our drive back to town we stopped at the Wildlife Conservation Center to see all the animals. Although it was raining a bit, we saw so much! I love this place because you can drive or walk through it and there is always so much going on!

We got to go on Lucas' very first field trip to Pyrah's Pioneer Peak Farm in the valley. The kids got to go on a tractor hay ride and then pick veggies to take home. Instant hit! The boys gathered snap peas, potatoes and then had a struggle digging up some carrots.

We met up with some close friends and took all the kids out to the Bear's Tooth Theater to watch Cars 2. It was such a cute movie and the kids did fantastic! I also found out that this was Cameron's first time ever in a theater. I love this particular theater because you place your food order and they delivery it to you as the previews begin. Such a kid friendly way to watch movies together as a family!

And of course we couldn't let them leave without a trip to the Alaska Zoo. We have quite a different selection of animals here than back in California, so both my mom and brother truly enjoyed it.

And our final activity together was participating in Trick or Treat in the Heat. This is an annual charity event that allows the kids to experience an early Halloween before the snow. Our boys both picked out Firemen costumes and they were all over the free candy...as you can probably imagine.

It was a fun trip that of course went by far too fast. I know they both enjoyed themselves and really soaked in the beautiful fall scenery that we have at the moment. My family is hoping to make it down to California before the end of the year, so fingers crossed that it all works out!

Nursing update:

I'm not going to lie...the decision whether or not to accept my early nursing school offer was intense. I contemplated, worried, and stressed over the entire ordeal for days and still didn't have an answer the evening before my deadline. But I'm happy to announce that I accepted my seat and will be starting early January! I am still unsure of how it will all work out, but I have faith that it will. I owe it to my family, and to myself, to finish school and further the dreams we have for our lives. I will graduate the month that Levin turns two, and from my experience with Lucas...two years sure does fly by!

Thankfully I have a few months to work out all the details. Wish me luck!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Transition to baby

I expected my life to become overwhelming, constantly demanding, and somewhat difficult for the first few weeks/months of baby, but it hasn't! I have sure been blessed with an amazing child. He is so alert for his age and rarely fusses unless he's hungry. He loves to lift his head already and stand up full force on his legs. This honestly freaks me out! He is way too young to be doing this kind of stuff.

He's a fantastic sleeper, nurser, and most of all...pooper! I may need to convert to cloth diapers just to afford keeping his little butt covered if he keeps up at this pace.

It didn't take more than a week for us to get into a fairly nice routine either. His nursing schedule is not very typical of a newborn, and that did worry me for a bit. Because breast milk is digested faster, most babies need to eat every 2-3 hours (and that's exactly what Lucas did.) Levin, however, is such a great sleeper that he has no problems going 3.5-4 hours during the day and between 3.5-6 hours at night. But he was already back to his birth weight by one week, so I have no fear that he's missing out on the nutrients that he needs. If I keep him up for two hours in the evening and nurse him to sleep between 10 or 11, he only wakes up around 2-3ish and once again between 6-7. After a quick diaper change and some boob lovin'...he's immediately back in dreamland. Now tell me that's not a perfect schedule!

Lucas brought home some yucky cold germs from preschool and got daddy and brother sick too. Somehow the bug skipped me, but I'm sure not complaining. Anyways, poor Levin got sick at 5 days old and he was so darn congested that he was having difficulties breathing. We did all the home remedies we could: had multiple humidifiers going, routinely sucked out his nose with the bulb syringe and saline drops, placed him in the steamy bathroom, and used Vick's baby rub. Nothing was helping. In fact, it only seemed to be getting worse. After a week and a half of this awfulness, his breathing appeared very labored. I discussed my concerns with his nurse (who happened to be out of town otherwise she would have came right on over) and then decided to take him into the ER to be examined. You can never be too cautious when it comes to breathing issues. I've been down this road before with Lucas, who caught RSV as an infant and has been to the ER on multiple occasions for breathing treatments. Scary stuff.

The nasal swab for RSV and influenza were both negative and the chest x-ray was clear of pneumonia...thank goodness! I hated seeing him get an x-ray, but at this point we really wanted to rule out anything serious. We continued our home remedies and he finally recovered after two entire weeks of being sick. During those two weeks we only let him sleep on our chests so that he was elevated and we could monitor his breathing. They say that you can't spoil a newborn, but I seriously beg to differ. Now that's the only way he ever wants to be!

If we lay him down for any reason he throws quite the tantrum, but once picked up he immediately stops. Oh boy. Thank goodness we love to babywear otherwise we'd never get anything done!

So my transition from one to two children has been great. I honestly feel like I get more sleep now than I did when I was pregnant, and I have never had an "I can't do this" moment. I don't feel like I have spent as much quality time with Lucas as I should, but my mom and brother were up visiting until this morning and he honestly didn't want me. He was far too preoccupied playing with his uncle.

Lucas has been fantastic with his baby brother. I sure hope it stays that way!


Postpartum is such an important period, and it is one that is often overlooked. Having a new baby is exhausting on your body and the hormonal drop off that you experience can make for difficult times. Having a strong support system is crucial and accepting that things may just have to wait (dishes, laundry, cooking, etc) is key. Focus really needs to go on you and your baby, and nothing else.

Tomorrow marks three weeks since I've given birth. As uncomfortable as I may have gotten during my pregnancy, being postpartum trumps it all. Not only are you tired, emotional, and unable to really move about, but your body is in a constant state of change. Most of this change, for me however, was quite painful.

I was told that the afterbirth pains intensify with each pregnancy and oh.my.goodness were they right. They first week being postpartum was so much more painful that I expected. Nipple stimulation causes your uterus to contract (which is exactly what you need to get it back down to its original size) so each time baby would latch on I was in instant agony. I was nearly brought to tears on multiple occasions from the uterine cramping but I had to just push through it. Standing up was difficult, and I was on strict orders only to get up to use the restroom. I knew if I overdid it because the cramping and bleeding would intensify greatly and I would feel completely wiped out. Your body sure has no problems telling you to take it easy.

If you know me, you know that I love to promote breastfeeding. Not only is it the best thing you can do for your baby, but it is a wonderful bonding experience for both. I love knowing that my son depends strictly on me for his warmth and nourishment. I grew him in my womb, and I now continue to do so with him in my arms!

But...nursing is not easy. In fact, it can be downright painful until you and baby both get the hang of it. Once my milk came in my breasts were so engorged and sensitive that merely thinking about them made them hurt. My nipples dried out, cracked, and bled, and each time baby latched on I would cringe. Thankfully it only took about 2 weeks for them to get better, but I can truly see why some women give up at this point. You really have to have a strong mindset and remember that you are doing not only what is best for your baby, but for you too.

Shortly after my nipple situation was fixed, I started having a lot of pain in my left breast. It continued to get warmer and warmer throughout the day and also started getting a large red patch in one area. I knew exactly what this was...mastitis! Ahh! When I had it with Lucas I honestly thought I was dying. Childbirth is nothing compared to mastitis. NOTHING! Because it's an infection, your entire body is affected. I remember laying on the bathroom floor in the fetal position the first time around and Levi had to physically carry me to the car. This time, I started getting weak and I was in so much pain that I began dreading nursing him on my left side. The best way to recover is to continue nursing and to pump any excess milk so that you completely drain it. Hot/cold compress can be used, and if it gets bad enough, antibiotics are prescribed. Having had it before I think I was a little more in tune with my body and caught it nice and early. I was told that you can do Castor Oil massages, and I was shocked when it actually worked! I cured it on my own, naturally, in just over 24 hours. Whew...crisis averted. But I know that once you have it you are prone to catching it again, so I am definitely extra cautious.

I had to alter the way we were nursing a bit and try to offer feedings more frequently. It sure didn't help that he sleeps for such long stretches and that my boobs got so full that he couldn't empty them. His latch was good, but not great, so that was something that we had to work on as well. It takes a while for your body to coordinate up with the demands of your baby, but rest assured...it does. After a short while, breastfeeding will become second nature and baby will take to the breast wonderfully. My advise to anyone is to just hang in there. It does get better!

After getting myself completely certified as a Birth Doula, I think that I would really like to pursue a Postpartum Doula certification as well. The smallest gestures go a long ways for a new family and I would love to help care for a new baby and help out around the house of a family in need. A few of my friends brought us meals and I cannot begin to describe how helpful that was for us. I now want to be that support person for others. I love helping and this is an area that I see myself doing great things in.

I know that I am still in the postpartum period myself and that I am still healing, but I feel fantastic! My energy may not be quite where I would like it, but I'm happy and proud of all that I have been accomplishing. My mom's visit was very eventful and I never felt overwhelmed with our outings. It was great having an extra set of hands for that time, but I'm confident I will do just fine alone with my boys every day. Although I feel like my entire schedule revolves around my little nursling, I'm still doing what I need to do and getting to wherever I need to be.

But as for today, I'm doing nothing! I'm officially calling in for a day of rest and pure pajama laziness. I am currently watching both of my boys sleep (which means that I should be, too), but it's really nice having some time to myself. I sometimes forget what 'me' time feels like...especially now that I have two little guys demanding my attention!