6.30.2012

All You Curly Ladies


Image source: Smart Girl Consulting





(Sung to Beyonce's Single Ladies tune)

All you curly ladies

All you curly ladies

All you curly ladies

All you curly ladies

Put your hands up

Up in the shower, you don't use shampoo, you do your own little thing

It's called co-washing and now you wanna try it

'Cause you want some better curls

WOW.  Sorry, I totally just did that.  I wrote that blog title on accident and then all I could sing in my head was Single Ladies.

Anyway, let's move along before I chicken out and don't post this at all out of embarrassment.

Who has naturally curly hair?  And doesn't embrace it?  My hand is totally up.

hate my curls.  They're ugly because I don't know how to take care of them.  Oh, and also maybe because I haven't had a cut/trim since Adalyn was a newborn.  And now I have another newborn.  Whoops.

I stumbled upon Curly Girl: The Handbook a few weeks ago.  I've heard a lot about it over the last year or two, but I finally looked into it a few weeks ago.  And man, is it a life-changer!  Seriously.  Life. Changer.  If you have curly hair and haven't yet taken the plunge into this process, can I say you simply must?  Because you must.

I'll post some before and after pictures when I'm totally done.  I've got an appointment with a Deva-trained stylist (in other words, trained in NYC by the woman who wrote this book and they do dry haircuts, which is apparently the only way to go if you have curly hair) on July 10th and I'm so excited!  It never occurred to me that if you have curly hair, you should see someone who specializes in curly hair, but I learned that, and many other things, with this book.

There is a wealth of information to be had out there for curly-haired girls, so I think for the first time in my entire life, I'm going to try to embrace my curls instead of straighten them away.

To make a long book very short (you should really get the book, I can't do it justice), rather than washing your hair with shampoo, wash it with conditioner.  They call this co-washing, and you do it because most shampoos contain harsh sulfates that damage and dry your hair out.  Not good for curly gals.

You must use a certain conditioner for co-washing, then a different conditioner for conditioning (the book goes into detail on this).  The co-washing conditioner contains enough washing power to clear your scalp and hair of build-up as long as you're using the right products.

I use this as my co-washing conditioner.  It smells yummy!  And this as my regular conditioner.  These are both safe, approved products.  A cheaper, approved option for a regular conditioner would be Garnier Fructis Body Boost conditioner.

Don't use a brush on your hair.  Ever again.  Wide-toothed combs all the way!  Or even just your fingers.  Rinse your hair with cold water right before getting out of the shower.  This keeps the frizzies away.

After your shower, never towel dry your hair.  You can squeeze excess water out, or use a microfiber towel to blot it dry.  Some women wait to do this until after they've applied their product, but I haven't tried that method yet.  It just seems...I don't know...illogical?

While your hair is still really wet, apply your products.  You'll want an approved leave-in conditioner first.  I use this because I just think it's the best.  But this is a cheaper approved option.

Then I use a prepping mousse.  I doubt you have to do this, but I've found my curls work much better when I do, so I'm sticking to it.  And I am so in love with the scent of thisprepping mousse that I could never use anything else!  Oh my gosh, it's heavenly.

Finally, I've read the best thing to finish off your curls with is gel.  This might explain why I have hated my curls for so long.  I've been using mousse alone for years and years, and my hair is just a big frizz ball.  I remember gel as being so goupy and leaving your hair crunchy, but as long as I scrunch up my hair as it air dries, this isn't an issue for me.  I use this gel and it's perfect and cheap.

The last rule I'll leave you with is to let your curls air dry, and scrunch as it's drying every so often.  They say if you really need to, you can use a diffuser, but the ideal is to always let it air dry.  Never use a regular blow dryer without a diffuser.

On the site Naturally Curly, you can find your hair type.  I saw quite a few women on the forums talking about having barely wavy hair that became really pretty curls when they implemented this method, so if you've always wanted curls, you may actually be able to have them if you do the above!

This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase from my links, you help support little ole' me and I greatly appreciate that!  :)

6.27.2012

For fun's sake.



The list of names.  I love looking back on these years down the road.

Have I ever mentioned that I was nearly Ariel Dawn?  I'm not sure how shortly before I was born my parents changed their mind, but I have to say I am mighty thankful they did.  Can you imagine what life would have been like for me when Little Mermaid came out?

6.23.2012

2.5 weeks!


So our little guy is 2.5 weeks old.  What the heck?!  I hate how fast time goes when you want it to go slowly, and how slowly it goes when you want it to go fast.  When I was pregnant, I couldn't wait to hold this sweet baby in my arms, and now that I want time to stand still so I can soak up every ounce of this perfect child's newborn days, it's whizzing right by.



He is still an amazing baby.  I can't get over it.  He's gaining weight much faster than the other two (he's 9lbs, 8 oz now), still wakes up only twice a night (with the occasional once-only waking) and only cries when he's gassy or hungry.  He loves the car, loves being held, loves having his head rubbed and even loves the bath.  


  
Our sweet friends threw us a Baby-Q to celebrate his arrival (in lieu of a typical baby shower) and it was a ridiculous amount of fun!  

















My mom hit the road early this morning so I will be officially on my own with THREE(!!) kids starting Monday.  Eek!  Someone tell me I'll survive!

6.14.2012

The Landon Project.

I've always loved the fun pregnancy picture series that women do.  From Pacing the Panic Room to One Little Minute to Elsa Juliet, I just think there's something so cool about documenting a pregnancy artistically.

I'm turning this into a hardcover book for Mr. Landon (who undoubtedly won't care one bit but we'll pretend he's going to love it).

Aside from the "after" picture which I have to get sometime this week, this series is now complete!  Yay!  It took hours and hours but I'm so happy with the end result.





















6.12.2012

One week of perfection.

Little (big) man had his one week check-up today.  Technically he's six days old, which meant my mind was blown to learn he's 9 lbs!  In six days, he put on almost a pound.  Our other babies still weren't even back to their birth weight by this point.



My midwife said a lot of homebirth babies never lose weight.  I guess secretly, I didn't believe she could be right.  What babies don't lose weight after birth?



I guess mine, as much as I can't wrap my mind around it.  Strangely enough, this is the baby I didn't put on a schedule.  You know, they tell you to wake your babies up through the night every few hours to feed them.  Not me.  I let my baby sleep as much as he wants, which was straight through the night his first night and then only waking one to two times ever since.  I guess my little chunk knows when he needs to eat, huh?





This little dude has changed my world in six short days.  He's made me ecstatically happy.  When I hold him in my arms, I can't describe the overwhelming love I feel.  It's crazy to think that nine months ago, I cried when I got a surprise positive pregnancy test.  This boy has my heart and then some.





Look at those cheeks, that mouth, those swollen little newborn eyes.  It kills me!



I always have a birth high for at least a month after my babies are born.  This one is more powerful, though.  Birthing him at home has changed me deep in my soul.  It lit a fire of empowerment deep within me and I don't think I'll ever forget this feeling I have right now.  Amazed.  I'm amazed at my body, at God's perfect creation, at the birthing process, all of it.





God made my body capable and my midwife helped me believe in that every step of the way.



With His help, Tim and I made this perfect ball of squishy sweetness.





And his brother and sister adore him.






Adalyn just sits and stares at him.  He always makes her smile.





Ben wants Landon to play with him....like, yesterday.




But he doesn't quite grasp the concept that newborns don't play.  :)



Someone stop me because I sort of want, like, 10 babies.

6.07.2012

The homebirth of Landon Alexander.


This is a birth post.  I'm a birth junkie and birth doesn't gross me out at all, so take that into consideration before reading this post if you're not into that sort of stuff.  I'm not censoring this post.  I love birth and I think it should be celebrated and documented and shared.  :)

I'm so anxious to get this written down while every detail is fresh on my mind!  I had the perfect birth and I don't want to forget any of it.

As I documented here, I was having a tough time being patient.  Ben was born 10 days early and Adalyn 2 days early, so I'd never seen a due date pass me by while still pregnant.  That made it tough when June 3rd came and went with no signs of baby.

On Monday morning, June 4th, I woke up with some pretty bad contractions.  I started getting what someone has so affectionately named "bloody show."

I got really excited and knew that it meant this was it!  I started texting friends and getting things ready.  I called my midwife.  Tim stayed home from work.  We were about to have a baby!

But then the contractions started getting farther and farther apart.  Eventually, by the afternoon, there were no contractions at all.  I've had my share of prodromal labor with this pregnancy, but this one hurt my soul especially badly because the bleeding really made me think it was time.  It was also difficult because I'd actually told a lot of people that it was time.  I felt like I'd let everyone down when the contractions petered out.

I went to bed hopeful that my midwife was right, that bloody show meant a baby was imminent and that perhaps nighttime would kick the contractions back into gear.

But when I woke up Tuesday, June 5th, with no contractions, I cried.  Literally.  I was so upset, so let down, so ready to give up.  It wasn't the waiting that was so difficult, it was the labor that would start and stop that was killing me.  I could handle not having a baby by my due date, but something about being teased and then let down over and over again was agonizing.

I took my midwife's advice and tried to put it all out of my mind.  I made up my mind that I would ignore all future contractions and make decided that baby wouldn't be coming until 42 weeks and I was going to be okay with that.  I threw myself into some sewing projects, wrote a blog post and took what would be my last belly picture.


My mom commented later that day that my belly looked so different all of a sudden.

About three hours after I wrote that last blog post, I got a contraction.  It was around 3:30 in the afternoon or so.  I ignored it.  And I ignored the next one, and the next one and the one after that.  About an hour after they started, I gave in and decided to time them.  But I would not be telling anyone.  No, sir.

Except they got increasingly more painful and some of them were difficult to talk through, so I decided to tell Tim and my mom so I didn't have to hide my pain.  But I told them both that this was absolutely not labor.  It would be stopping any time, I assured them.

By 6:30, I was getting my hopes up.  I told Tim we should take a walk.  At that point, they were pretty painful but very far apart, between 8 and 10 minutes pretty consistently, and very short, only 30 seconds or so.

Keep in mind that I've only ever had what my midwife refers to as "runaway train" labors.  This means from the time active labor starts, my contractions have never been more than a few minutes apart.  My labors have gone very quickly with almost no time to rest between contractions.  This whole break between contractions thing was foreign territory, so I didn't think it could possibly be real labor.  My mom and I sat out on the deck after my walk and I kept telling her that this was not labor.  I was getting too much of a break, feeling too good between contractions.  After all, if it was labor, I had already been in labor for 5 hours at that point, and I've never had a labor last that long.  It just couldn't be labor.

But I was keeping my midwife in the loop just in case.  She suggested I try to go to sleep.  If it was real labor, I'd wake up with more contractions.  If it was more prodromal labor, I would fall asleep and probably not wake up until morning.

Tim and I got into bed around 8:00 or 8:30.  The contractions were 6-7 minutes apart at this point and getting pretty difficult to deal with.  I tried and tried and tried to sleep.  Sleep was not happening.  Finally, around 9:30 or 10:00, I reluctantly told Tim that this had to be it.  The contractions had been getting stronger, longer and closer together for hours at this point.  That was textbook labor, right?  Even if it wasn't my textbook labor.

I ran a warm bath and got in.  I've never used water in labor before, but was shocked the second I got in by how much relief the warm water actually offered during contractions.  The bath really kicked my labor into gear and once I got out, they were unbearably strong and 4-5 minutes apart.

I dealt with the labor as best I could at that point, and shortly after, decided to call my midwife and wake Tim up.  I asked him to go ahead and fill up the pool.  This was it!  I had finally decided I could admit I was in real, definite labor and we would be having a baby soon.

My mom woke up about that time and helped Tim get some things ready and tried to help me get through each contraction.  I laid on the bed with my rice bag (throw it in the microwave = instant relief) and started vocalizing through the contractions.  Oh, I was definitely in real labor.

My midwife, Cheryl, her assistant, Cheryl, my mom, Cheryl (yeah...), Tim and my sweet friend, Lizz, who is a photographer and also happened to break her foot on this very night (saint, right?) all were there, in our bedroom, to witness the birth of mystery baby #3.  Time was starting to become irrelevant to me at this point, but I believe it was somewhere between 1:00 and 2:00 when everyone showed up.  My contractions would vary between very close together, at 1-2 minutes if I stood up, to farther apart, at probably 3-5 minutes if I was laying down.


Note the broken foot.  :)

I moved between the bed and the pool.  When I felt like I couldn't handle anymore contractions while in the pool, I'd lay on the bed for awhile instead and vice-versa.  Lizz really helped me learn how to breathe through contractions, something I've never been good at (I'm a hyperventilator).


Everyone was awesome.  They left me alone when I needed to be left alone, they were there for me when I needed them to be there for me, they held my hand, massaged me...whatever I needed when I let them know I needed it.

Sometimes I just wanted to be totally, truly alone, so I'd go to the bathroom to get through a few contractions in silence by myself.

I remember thinking how crazy long the labor was.  I had never known anything like this.  By 4:00, I remember thinking, "I've been in labor for TWELVE HOURS now!  Come on, baby!"

I didn't know how dilated I was, but my midwife encouraged me.  I remember hearing some of them talk about how I must be in transition.  I guess I was getting loud.  :)

That gave me some sweet relief.  Just hearing someone else confirming what I was pretty sure I already knew.  Things were happening faster, I was starting to feel like I would honestly die.  I was so exhausted I couldn't see straight.  That's also not something that's ever happened even though all three of our babies were born early in the morning without any sleep the night before.  I was utterly wiped.  I didn't know how I would gather up the strength to get through the rest of the birth.

I think I yelled something like, "Why is this taking so long?!" at some point.  I was starting to get upset.

Tim got in the pool with me, which was awesome and relieving.


Shortly after, my midwife encouraged me to check myself.  I was totally in control of this birth and that was crazy but empowering.  So awesome in hindsight!  I could feel the bag of waters, which still hadn't broken, and she told me if I pushed on it, I could feel baby's head.  So I did.  And I could.  And it was awesome.  It was encouraging.  It helped me muster up the strength I needed to get baby out.

She told me to get into a squatting type of position to encourage the bag of waters to break.  I did that until my legs started falling asleep but my water still hadn't broken.


By 5:15 or so, I started getting the intense contractions that my body automatically groaned through.  It was surreal to know I wasn't really making those noises, that my body was.  I didn't really have the urge to push this time that I did with Adalyn's birth, but I knew it was time and the groaning I was involuntarily making confirmed that.  So I started pushing.  After a few pushes, my midwife asked if I wanted her to check me.

Yes!  For some reason, I guess I just needed a break and someone else to totally confirm that I was, indeed, ready to push.  I moved to the bed and she told me I was fully dilated, so back to the water I went.  I pushed several more times and eventually could feel part of baby's head and the bag of waters come out.  I encouraged Tim to feel it, too, and just then, my water broke.  It was crazy to literally be holding it while it broke.  We're both in awe of that experience, as weird as that may sound.

A few more pushes later, baby's head came out.  It was so much more difficult to push this little guy out than it was Adalyn.  The pain was worse, it took a lot longer (Adalyn came out in one contraction) and he was just in a different position.  Once his head came out, I honestly thought there was no way I could get the rest of him out.  I just knew it would either kill me or we would have to go to the hospital to finish the process with a c-section because there was just no way he would fit.  Hilarious in hindsight.  :)

Luckily my midwife stepped in to remind me that I could do it and I was doing it and helped Tim really pull (I think he was scared to pull hard) while I pushed, and out he finally came!  Right into Tim's hands at 5:53 a.m., almost 14.5 hours after my contractions started.

He had a hard time breathing at first, just like Adalyn, but my midwife helped us rough him up a bit to get him to breathe consistently (he was breathing and red, unlike Adalyn who was turning blue, he just wouldn't consistently breathe).  You could hear he had a little junk in his chest, so she sucked it out and shortly after, he was totally fine.  Well, he was perfect.

I don't remember exactly when it was that we decided to look to see if he was a boy or girl, but surprisingly it wasn't the first thing we did.  I remember we were kind of holding him at first, just snuggling him up and trying to reassure him everything was okay, and then we were like, "Oh, boy or girl?!"  It was one of the coolest experiences in the world to see for ourselves what our baby was, rather than by ultrasound like we did the last two times.


We got him weighed and were shocked to learn he's exactly what his brother and sister both were: 8lbs, 1oz.  I mean, what are the chances, right?


Everyone agrees that he feels and looks bigger, and my midwife said he was the type of baby you really have to tug on to get out, so I guess we'll see tomorrow when he's weighed again if that weight was correct. He's our tall baby, though!  Ben was 18", Adalyn was 19" and Landon is 21.5".


  As if the birth wasn't perfect enough, Ben and Adalyn went to sleep before my bad contractions started, didn't wake up once through the night and woke for the morning 10 or 15 minutes after Landon was born.  We couldn't have planned it any better than that.

Getting to be at home, in our own bedroom, alternating between a pool and our own bed, snuggled up with my husband with people we love surrounding us as we brought our baby into this world was so indescribably perfect and amazing that I will never find the right words to do it justice.  It was comforting and empowering in a way that I never knew birth could be.  I was in charge.  I did what my body told me to do. I didn't mess with the birth process or force the birth process to happen earlier than my body wanted it to.  I (reluctantly, I'll admit) waited for Landon to tell me when he was ready to come.  I was the one to tell everyone else when he was about ready to come out.  I was the one who first felt him descending.  I was the one who pushed him out in the way I wanted to push him out and my husband was the one who caught our baby.  He was born straight into his home.  In a peaceful, dark, quiet environment, right as the sun was rising.  He met his siblings a few short minutes after he was born.

I had my membranes stripped right before my water broke with Ben.  I also had my membranes stripped multiple times in the end of my pregnancy with Adalyn and eventually asked to have my water broken when I was 6cm dilated and not in active labor.  This time, I knew I wanted to be left alone. I wanted my body to do what it's supposed to do with absolutely zero intervention.  This is part of the reason I opted for homebirth.  My midwife is not into intervention at all, so she made me stick to this desire even when it got tough at the very end.  She never checked my dilation, not until those final few moments to assure me that the baby was ready to come.  She is a believer that messing with a cervix, even for something as simple as a dilation check, can interfere with the body's natural birthing process.  She left me alone entirely, let me listen to my own body, taught me to trust in my body completely.  For the first time ever, I now know my body is 100% capable of birthing on its own.

The recovery has been incredible.  I don't feel like I had a baby yesterday.  I feel like I could go outside and do cartwheels, but that would sort of be against my midwife's wishes so I guess I'll restrain myself.  I had one tiny tear and no stitches.  Woot!
Landon is absolutely perfect in every way.  He is the best nurser we've had (by leaps and bounds) and so far seems to be pretty chill.  But, you know, they always are in the beginning.  :)

He slept through the night his first night beside me in our own home in our own bedroom.

All is well with the world.

You can read my husband's perspective of Landon's birth here.