Monday, January 26, 2009

Belly Photos

Ryan and I have a good friend, Jamina, who takes amazing photos. As a gift to us, she took some family and belly photos on MLK Day. They turned out great. Some of our favorites...well, I'm topless. But thanks to the internet, you can watch all the violence that you want, but don't dare put a photo out there with a "milk machine" in it. That would be considered obscene. Silly Americans. So, if you want to see all the photos, you'll have to make a stop at the Jenkins' home. We did do a montage with some of the photos Jamina took.

Thank you, Jamina, for your kind soul and sharing your talents.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

This One Is For My Lovely Disposable Diaper Nazis!!

Most people know that Ryan and I are planning on using cloth diapers. I try and be careful about what I say I'm going to do or not do because...well, we've never done this whole raising a child thing before. I mean, Chaco, is a bit easy, and I'm not sure that actually counts for child-rearing.

But honestly, I have been a bit shocked by some of the resistance from the mamas using disposables. Why??? I'm not entirely sure, but I have a guess or two. I know I'm entering a new realm of people offering their baby advice and will do my best to embrace the goodness that people offer. And I am fully aware that all of this is something Ryan and I have to feel our way through together. Can't wait for the adventure!

With that being said, I feel like it's time for me to put some information out there that led me to my personal cloth diapering decision. There's plenty of information out there on the internet, and I just pulled some of my info from several websites.

It initially started when I thought about the idea of "restocking" that comes with parenting...The Diaper Genie refills, plastic drop-ins that go into some bottles, wipes, diapers, on and on...It's all a bit overwhelming when you start thinking about it. So, where exactly could we cut out on some of those expenses and waste? I completely understand that just about every product we use or consume plays some toll on our environment, and we have to pick and choose what we're comfortable with. And it would serve us and our world well to choose alternatives when possible.

I have several friends who are using cloth diapers and love it. So, I began asking questions and doing research.

I've seen several different numbers, but on average a babe will use anywhere from 5,000 - 8,000 diapers in their should we say potty career.

There's the Health, Environment, and Costs aspects...
- The chemicals and bleaching agents used to make disposable diapers produce toxic chemicals for our air and soil.
- The chemical used to draw out the urine and turn it into a "gel" is very accurate for absorbing those leaky dipes but has also been associated with severe diaper rash among other health issues.
- It takes about 880 lbs of fluff pulp and 286 lbs of plastic per year to supply a single baby with disposables.
- They are the 3rd largest single product in the waste stream behind newspapers and beverage containers. In areas where paper, glass, and tin cans are collected for recycling, diapers make up an even greater portion of the garbage.
- Landfills do not provide the conditions necessary for disposable diapers to decompose, and it takes roughly 500 years for the poop holder to decompose. That means my poo could still be in a landfill in Georgia if my parents hadn't swaddled my bum with cloth. Thanks, Mom and Dad!!
- Washing cloth diapers at home uses 50 - 70 gallons of water (which is recyclable) every three days. To put that into perspective, a toilet-trained person, flushing the toilet 5 - 6 times a day, uses about 70 gallons of water every three days.
- Wastewater from washing cloth diapers is relatively benign compared to the chemicals in the wastewater from the disposable dipes.
- It roughly costs $3000 - $4000 for the potty career of a disposable baby. I'm not ashamed to share it, but Ryan and I spent about $500 for Baby J's One Size Cloth Diapers that should last his/her diapering career. This includes the cloth wipes, diaper covers, and liners.
- The energy costs for washing a load of diapers is around $1.25 a load.

So, that's where I'm coming from. I'm not saying that a disposable will never touch my babe's bum. We're planning on taking disposables to the birth, and I don't expect our care providers to do that if they're not comfortable with it. But as much as we can, we plan to cover the cute tooshie with cloth.

I do admit it does annoy the hell out of me pun intended...well, kind of...when people totally disregard their personal responsibility to this Earth. Sorry, but I see it a lot in a certain group of people who believe they're going to this magical place in the sky, and we're passing through this planet like little aliens. Well, we can hope that will happen. But to be completely honest, the only thing we know for sure is what we've been given right here and now. And that's Planet Earth. Every little bit can help protect and nurture the only place we know and have been given to enjoy and care for, and every little bit makes this place a little better for our children, grandchildren, their children, and on and on. What a gift to give the future generations?! A cleaner place to live, and well, it doesn't hurt the "pocketbook" too much either.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A House O' Joy!!

The JOY in this house keeps growing! Sometime within the next month, we will finally meet our little one. You would think that would be all the excitement and joy the Jenkins' could handle, but wait...

Not after the AFC Championship game. Now, we have even more excitement coming our way! Steelers at the Superbowl!!!

Our home is filled with us singing the song..."PITTSBURGH'S GOING TO THE SUPERBOWL!!! I'VE GOT A FEELING!"

And I'm not ashamed to admit that it's 4:30 in the morning, my hips were too achy for me to stay in bed and keep lying down. So, I'm up on the computer yet again in the wee hours of the morning. But to confess with much joy and pride, when my body woke me up, I was singing..."PITTSBURGH'S GOING TO THE SUPERBOWL! I'VE GOT A FEELING!!!"

After the game, we joked about Baby J needs to meet the world NOT on February 1st. But then through our excitement, we both had to reassure each other that Baby J is definitely more important than the Steelers in the Superbowl. So, come when you so desire, Baby J. We're waiting!!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Our Blessing Way and The Birth Bundle

We had our Blessing Way on Thursday night. Maranda and Jolynn ROCK! They created such a lovely, sacred gathering for Ryan, me, and Baby Jenkins.

A Blessing Way is a Native American tradition preparing and celebrating the mama and papa's transition to parenthood. Maiden to Mother, an amazing celebration I wish more Americans embraced. Hopefully, with more exposure to the tradition it will start happening. We had a potluck and NO gifts...just a time for some of our closest friends to get together and enjoy this time with us.

When people arrived, Maranda and Jolynn "smudged" everyone to clear any negative energy and create a very sacred space for the family and the gathering.

We all dined on some good vegetarian "eats" which when you get together with these women, I'm telling you, we dine like goddesses. Jamina made fresh "juice" cocktails for everyone before dinner. She's my juicing queen and taught me the ways of the juicer. I can't wait till Baby J gets here, and Mama can get back on the juicing train. I can't have apples, beets, and carrots because of the sugars. But I admit, I did have a little juice cocktail at The Blessing Way.

After dinner, the festivities began...Tristan and Jolynn made flowers for my hair. They brushed and pulled back my hair for me and placed the flowers in my hair...symbolizing my change to motherhood.

Choyer was, just in case they did a shoddy job, he was my back up. Luckily, the girls did well. Prom Hair, WATCH OUT!!! I kept wanting to go into Green Hills and tell them that Choyer did it. I thought it would drum up some business for him in that area. HA!

Maranda enjoys Henna and had the brilliant idea to let people Henna my belly. She started it off with the word, Love. One of her favorites.

Most people got in on the Henna Action. Misty got in on some of the design. Baby J was wigglin' around the whole night. He/She must be a true hippie. The little muffin enjoyed the henna.

While people took turns doing the henna, they passed around a bowl of beads. Everyone shared a blessing or two they wished for Ryan, me, and the baby. Then, they put their bead on a necklace for me to take and wear for the birth.

Logan wished for me to have an orgasmic birth. Crossing my fingers, dear Logan! And Becky is giving Baby J a special blessing. You can see Tonya in the picture trying to clean up her henna mess. Love her!!

Even after all this special treatment, Jolynn and Galit gave me a foot bath and massage.

Choyer, one of Baby J's godparents, got in on some henna while Galit gave me a nice shoulder massage. Even though she's now in midwifery school, she hasn't lost her magic massage hands.

I shared my Birth Bundle with everyone and closed it up there until the birth. Most of you know that I'm training to become a Birthing From Within childbirth mentor. One of the things they do for the program is create a birth bundle. There's supposed to be 3 items in the bundle, but I got a bit carried away and now have created a birth altar to set up during the birth process. But it's my birth, so I guess it's what I make it.

I'll tell you about the 3 main items though. I had to find a symbol of my connection with the other strong women who have given birth and the 300,000 women around the world that will be giving birth the same day. I chose a candle to burn for that one. The second item was to symbolize the father's I see Ryan, our relationship, our love for each other...I found a little lamb. Ryan is always so gentle and supportive of me...especially throughout the pregnancy. He's been up at all hours of the night massaging my hips or turning the shower head for me so the hot water can hit my back. He's always very selfless and gentle, and a lamb is what stuck out to me. The last item is a symbol of me and the baby working together during birth. I found a piece of rope and tied a knot to symbolize our interconnection in this process. I threw other items in my "birth bundle turned birth altar" such as a picture of Chaco, some birth art I've done, a LabOrinth I drew, some rocks, and some other important things to me.

The evening was so special for Ryan and me. I enjoy just hanging out with friends when there's no rush. I was so grateful people took time to come and chill out with us for the night and celebrate our baby with us. It was definitely an evening we'll cherish and remember as we become parents.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Baby J's Amulet....Protection

Ryan's parents came in town last weekend to celebrate Christmas and the upcoming addition to the family. We were supposed to travel to Virginia for the holidays this year, but with bedrest on my agenda, the trip got nicked at the last minute. While we would have been there, Ryan's mom was going to host a little family baby shower for Baby J. She still held the baby shower in our honor and brought a piece of the shower to Nashville.

I am grateful for ALL the gifts we received. MawMaw even made Baby J a blanket!! There's this one that I keep going back to and picking up. An amulet.

Amulets have been made for a long time....they date back even to the Early Egyptians. They are designed for protection. I think amulets are "supposed" to be worn, but ours will hang in the nursery (also for parental protection....don't think Baby J should be wearing the amulet yet. Plus, my mom-in-law would probably shoot me if she showed up and saw it around the babe's neck. I've already been warned of a possible shooting if I let my child climb all over the back of grocery carts like we witnessed at Target).

Moving on. Correct me Morgan family if I'm wrong, but I believe Aunt Linda made the amulet. They kept saying it was her first one; I thought it looked great. The center piece is a belt buckle from Grandma Morgan's old belt (Ryan's great grandmother), and Ryan's grandparents, aunts, and cousins tied on blessings in the form of a bead or a charm of some sort for the baby. They wrote them all down, so we could have a copy of it.

I'll just mention a few....there are different color beads representing the Earth's elements for protection by the Earth's spirits and that Baby J will grow up with a love and appreciation for all of nature's miracles. A cousin tied on a seashell that she picked up while she was on vacation with her mom; she wishes that Ryan and I will always treasure the small moments with Baby J. There was a charm of the word Hope, and charms of butterflies and dragonflies: symbolizing the baby's health, happiness, and a love for the outdoors. A Love charm encouraging Baby J to Love one another and to know that he/she will have the love of the family. That was just a few of them.

Well, I can guarantee Baby J one thing for sure....that the little muffin is already LOVED by his/her family so much!!!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Mama Bear

"Emulating an animal made it easier for me to access that power that I instinctively knew I needed during labor." - Ina May Gaskin from her book Ina May's Guide To Childbirth

For some reason, I'm having a hard time prying myself from the computer today. I'm working on NOT feeling guilty for it. I hear a voice in my head. Don't be scared; it's a real person. I keep hearing my friend, Logan, which just so happens to also be my what we like to coach. I was just about to retire from the computer today, take a shower, make some hot tea, and enjoy a book. But I want more computer time. Worked through the guilt by hearing Logan's voice saying something like...."A lot of times we do what we think we should do and then we never get to do what we want to do." So, my urge to blog seeps through. On to Mama Bear...

I've been thinking about this for awhile, and it really started to radiate in me today, so much so that I want to share it. Here's a few little clips about "loving the primate in you" from my favorite childbirth book, Ina May's Guide To Childbirth.

"Letting the primate in you do the work of labor is a short way of saying not to let your over-busy mind interfere with the ancient wisdom of your body. To give you an idea of what I mean, here are some things monkeys and apes don't do in labor that many women do - and that interfere with labor:

  • Monkeys don't think of technology as necessary to birth-giving.
  • Monkeys don't obsess about their bodies being inadequate.
  • Monkeys don't blame their condition on anyone else.
  • Monkeys don't do math about their dilation to speculate how long labor might take.
  • Monkeys in labor get into the position that feels best, not the one they're told to assume.
  • Monkeys aren't self-conscious about making noise, farting, or pooping during labor. All queens, duchesses, and movie stars poop-every day, if they're healthy.

How can you 'let your monkey do it' in a hospital? I believe that it helps to mentally prepare to be a little wild while you're there. Try to behave as much as possible as you would in your own bedroom. Be willing to be unconventional if that might help your labor along....
Given that all other primates are known to cope well with labor and birth, while civilized humans often aren't, it seems that we would be wise to emulate other female primates as much as possible....Many say it helps them to find the wild woman within and to tap into the ancient knowledge that is the potential of all women."

Ohhhh, Ina May. I love it. I love it.

There are quite a few of my family and friends who find me freakish to want to give birth naturally at a birthing center. And so I feel they tend to write off everything else as I say about birth as ludicrous. So be it. I turn my birth over to my body and my baby, and as it sees fit to unfold I hope to embrace it. But before you turn your head to what Ina May says in her book, there are a couple of stats I would like to share from Ina May and the midwives at the birthing center she helped to establish and has worked at for 30 years.

Home Births: 95.1%
Transports: 4.9%
Cesareans: 1.4% (Hospitals are close to 30 - 40%)
Inductions: 5.4% (done with Castor Oil and swept membranes)
Intact Perineum: 68.8%
1st degree: 19.1%
2nd degree: 11.5%
3rd degree: 0.3%
4th degree: 0.1%

Reputable, I would say. It's amazing how important the mind and body connection is when giving birth. And that's something these midwives are aware of that many doctors are not.

Back to our primates. It blows my mind how many people don't like to think of us as animals. There is a woman I know who even said to me, "We're not animals. We're humans." That blew my mind. We're mammals, hello. Our name is human. Just like a cow is a cow. But it's still an animal. We're the only animals that fear birth. Yes, I'm nervous about the unknown. But I feel like I trust my care providers (and with stats like that, how could you not???) and my innate power like every other animal. Thanks in part to the over intervening OB/GYNs (who do have their place in emergency and high risk situations - I am grateful for them for that capability and will willingly except their help IF needed) and television drama (kiss it goodbye - TLC/ The Baby Story) I feel like women feel that they have lost their power to give birth!!!

And I am proudly trying to attempt to dig deep and love that primate in me. There is something to it whether we like it or not. They can give birth - no problem, no fear. And we struggle. Don't get me wrong. It doesn't matter how we choose to give birth. We have to be comfortable with our choices. And I support and validate every woman and her desires to give birth to her children...naturally, with an epidural, an induction, a cesarean, vaginally. What I'm trying to encourage and empower women and men today here is to NOT lose their innate power and wisdom - no matter what. Listen to our bodies, and they'll speak to us.

I feel like people cross the threshold of the hospital and lose themselves. It's hard. I've been with women who have dealt with some horrible behavior from doctors and nurses. It's hard to not lose yourself. But I think it's amazing that we can know that we are primates and we want to protect our children and to do that - We Might Just Have To Picture Ourselves As A Monkey or An Ape.

I've been trying to envision what animal would most resonate with me in birth, so that I can tap into that animal when needed. I keep coming back to the Mama Bear. When I've been out West and came across bears, there's this level of respect you give her, especially when her cubs are near by. I have this idea of you don't mess with a Mama Bear. I can't imagine if she was giving birth. So, Mama Bear it is for me. I think I need to find a picture and take it with me to the birthing center, so I can be reminded of that Mama Bear in the throes of labor.

What animal most resonates with you? Not only for birth, but every day life, so you can take a stand for yourself and your family.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Birth Music

The time is getting closer to Baby Jenkins' arrival, and we're starting to prepare ourselves by packing and getting some things in order.

We started working on a music/play list tonight. We just began at the top of our ITunes Playlist and put songs in a new list: Birth Lite (easy, feel good music), Birth Fun (a little rowdier...yes, there is some Hip Hop...who knows, I might need some to get my hips all relaxed), Birth Massage (some of my massage music), and then other random albums we like......YES, folks, Hanson will be included.

I'm putting it out there. If anyone has any suggestions or recommendations, we would love to get some input. And, No, Dad, I don't want to hear any Pipe Organs. Sorry!!

There doesn't need to be a theme of any sort...just music you love to relax to or have a good time to.