Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My babywearing history & Baby K'Tan Giveaway @ A Nation of Moms !

I actually started my baby wearing journey back in the 1990's, when my younger sister was born. For years, I had hoped for baby in the family, and just when I had given up, my youngest sister arrived. I was 14, and she was my joy. My mom had been given both a Snuggli and a generic pouch-type sling. I had seen the Snuggli in action and was excited to try it out, but I realized it wasn't nearly as comfortable, for me or baby, as it looked like it would be. Even as a big sister, there felt like something intrinsically wrong about wearing a baby like a piece of luggage.
 The sling on the other hand, I hand never seen, and we ( my mom, middle sister, and I) were fascinated bu confused. We tried it out but something just didn't quite seem right, so the Snuggli it was. While it wasn't a horrible alternative, it seemed like there just HAD to be something better.
 In 2003, when the The Boy arrived, I was given a Snuggli, and I had to admit that the design was an improvement, but I was still on the hunt for something better. I remembered that plain flannel sling- not even knowing what to call it, and I started researching. I was 19 years old, I had no mommy friends, and no one to talk to that had given birth in the last three decades. I had only ever seen a Snuggli in use. I couldn't just ask someone. So the hunt began, not even being sure which search terms to use.
It led me to a ring sling, by a company that no longer manufactures them. During my hunt, I discovered that the sling I had first encountered was, first of all, called a sling, and second of all a pouch.pocket style. I also realized that the problem has been the fit. Who would have thought? A piece of baby equipment actually sized to the person wearing it. By the time I made my big discovery, Big Boy was already sitting up and the ring sling worked great. While I had no babywearing mentors, everywhere I went, people wanted to know what that was, wear I got it, and " Gosh, they didn't have anything like that when I was raising babies."
The funny thing to me was that in all of my research, I had become pretty aware of the fact that babywearing was not a "new thing." Referring to babywearing in such a way started to seem nearly the same to me as hearing the older generation refer to breastfeeding like some new fad. I learned ( and knew in my own gut) that babywearing wasn't just about freeing up my hands with baby in tow, but about bonding. I had read that in orphanages, a baby can be given every necessary element for survival ( food, shelter, and cleanliness/health care) and still fail to thrive when it was left without human touch. I was convinced that despite what the older generation would tell me, we could not hold a baby too much, but in fact, science proved we could hold them too little.
When Miss Fi arrived on the scene, my only experience was with the ring sling, and I had obviously never used it with a newborn. Recalling just how much The Boy spit up as a newborn, I thought it might be very handy to have another sling around for wash times. this time I decided to venture out and get myself a pocket sling. I did all of this online, as we were living overseas at the time. Little did I know, I had already seen what has now become one of the most popular babywearing tools on the market in the inspirational stages. I suspect now that what I saw was a rebozo being used like a Moby wrap, and I was again incredibly fascinated ( especially since it was a German Daddy that I saw using it), but I had no idea where to find it and couldn't afford to shop for baby on the German economy anyhow.
So I went with a generic pocket sling, that I sized myself for the best that i could, and the minute i was home alone with two children for the first time, in she went. It was wonderful, and much less of a strain on my shoulder than the ring sling had been. in fact, I realized then just how much a strain that first sling really had been.
Now with all of our European adventures, I had started to appreciate the rigidity of the Snuggli, especially when carting around a toddler. I was also hoping for something that would fit Hubby and I both. I discovered the Ergo via Mama's Baby. It was wonderful ! Hubby, or I, could cart the toddler through busy train stations or mountain passes while hiking, and the other could take the tiny one in the pocket sling. Today, the Ergo is still my favorite carrier for the toddler stage. It works well with our active lifestyle, hiking and camping, but it is not so difficult to use around the house or out shopping. I enjoy that hubby and I can both use it ( with an extender strap for him), and that during the "pick me up, put me down" era of the toddler, it is not a hassle to just leave on for when it is needed.
 I was still frustrated though, because why, oh why could I not find one sling that would work for all stages ?!?!? One go-to that I could suggest to others ?
 By this time, I was starting to see more and more babywearing going on, especially among the Germans. By the time we arrived back in the States, babywearingPeanut shell, since I knew how well a pocket sling worked for me during the newborn stage. Sadly, I also new that after we got to the grabby hands, sitting up stage, the pocket sling just wouldn't hack it anymore- too easy for baby to lunge out for the counter/grocery cart/etc. unsafely. So then, I was tempted into a Moby wrap. This was like that amazing thing I had seen the German daddy wearing across the market square all of those years ago !
 I was so excited to use it, and learning to tie it was even a bit of fun. Hubby never felt comfortable in it and wasn't really sure about getting it tied, but I adored the truly hands-free feeling of the wrap. It was an amazing blessing to bee able to safely carry my newborn while chasing a six and three year old. However, it was a bear to leave on when baby wasn't in it, and that was a downside for using it shopping and out and about, when I wanted to leave the sling on for being able to easily load and unload all of us easily and safely from the car. On my 5'2 frame, it was an awful lot of fabric to haul around, and one of my chief needs was something that I could leave on under my seat belt, so that running errands, I could get out, slide the baby in, then get the bigger kids out of the car ( no worries about someone standing patiently and safely by the car while you get the baby ready to go).
 Once Bumbles hit the "pick me up, put me down" the Moby became more nuisance than help, and I was back to using the Ergo. I donated my pouch sling to someone with a newborn, new on the babywearing scene, and I hung up the Moby, waiting for someone interested.
 Then Baby #4 announced his/herself, and it put me back on the hunt- still searching for something that would work beautifully at all stages. Now days, it is easy to find other babywearers, and many of them have tried out styles that I haven't even before, though I've been doing this since before I was old enough to vote. I came across the Baby K'Tan, and I wondered, just maybe...could this be it? What I have been searching for all of these years. It looks to have the security of the Snuggli, while offering the closeness + security of the Moby..all with the frugality of fabric of the Peanut Shell. I love the idea of baby gear made to fit the Mommy. It makes sense that if we are "wearing" something, it should fit us specifically. AND while I know that this means Hubby and I won't be able to share the sling, I also know that I am the one that is more often home to need the extra hands ;D
A Nation of Moms is sponsoring an amazing giveaway for a Baby K'Tan, and whether I win this one or not, I plan on finding a way to test one of these out with Baby #4....I can't wait to find out if this is really the carrier of my dreams....it looks like my decade long hunt might finally be over !

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Our little Seahorse*: 27 weeks, 5 days
Oh goodness. I tend to think of myself as a rather humble person, which should have probably been my first clue that I actually have a long way to go. Right now, I am realizing that I was taking credit for things in my life that were not at all mine to be taking credit for. As I mentioned earlier, i am learning to be more compassionate for women who are uncomfortable during pregnancy. Now I am realizing that i had a significant amount of pride concerning my own healthy pregnancies and babies. In a world obsessed with pathology, I felt like I was surrounded by women with attention-seeking issues.
 It's my turn to realize that my own good health was not my own doing. No matter how healthy I eat, or how much I exercise, it is not my own doing.
 My ultrasound today revealed that my intuition was right. This baby is BIG. I know that ultrasounds are infamous for overestimating babies' sizes, but with all three of my children, they actually underestimated their sizes, grossly in Miss Fi's case. The day she was born, at 38 weeks even, we were told that she was a 33 weeker by her ultrasound....she was 1 ounce shy of 7 lbs just two hours later :D
 So I realize that the ultrasound is probably off in one direction or another, but I have never personally had an ultrasound read like this. Apparently, this baby is measuring about a month ahead. Regardless of birth control implications, that is a totally different issue to me, I am a big believer in fertility awareness. as a woman, I believe it is part of being a good steward of the body that God gave me, and it has had the added benefit of helping me to understand my pregnancies better. I *knew* the date I ovulated, regardless of my cycle, and when I had a cyst burst at  wks, the ultrasound confirmed what I already knew. So no, I couldn't be farther along in the pregnancy than I think.
 I am very out of my element. Apparently, on top of the kidney pain, I have been spilling protein in my urine, and it was the doctor today that caught it. At my last midwives appointment, my labs were deemed fine. I am guessing they weren't even really looked at since my blood pressure seemed better.
 They have scheduled twice a week bio physical profiles starting at the end of next month. I am not sure if it is an over reaction or a genuine precaution. I have always been so healthy, and credited it to my healthy lifestyle, that I feel so out of my element. I am faithful that baby is just fine, and that I am just fine, but as far as how to proceed with the medical community, I have no idea. I am just realizing that my good health, no matter how I took care of myself and my family, was always God's doing, and the protection he has placed over this baby throughout this pregnancy has been doing as well- I should have been giving him credit.
* Mr. SoulFull has ended up finding out the gender of every baby, mostly because he was often deployed during pregnancies and liked having something special to focus and pray on. As a way of keeping it a secret, he would give them funny nicknames, to avoid calling them he or she. He decided to keep up the tradition this time, though we are holding out on learning the gender. the kids and I saw a pot-bellied seahorse at the zoo a few weeks ago and so this nickname seems rather fitting considering baby's measurements :D We've had Wiggle, Spiderman, and Dragon baby in the past :D

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sweet, little baby face

This is the shot of Baby Soulfull we got at the beginning of January. I am supposed to go in again this morning. They had scheduled a growth scan to make sure baby is staying on track, despite the blood pressure problems I had been having earlier. I am not one to believe in unnecessary ultrasounds, just to sate that curiosity, but I am so excited to get to spy on little one. I am hoping that this ultrasound will further confirm my intuition about this baby...I actually think this little one is a beefcake compared to my others ;D

4th time around, oh so different.

 So much with this pregnancy has been so very different from my other pregnancies. I have always loved being pregnant. I have always had a hard time feeling compassion for women that moan and complain constantly while pregnant- after all, I know so many women that would love to have swollen ankles and achy backs, if only it could mean that they would have a sweet, little baby at the end of 9 months. While that may be a noble sentiment, I am also realizing that uncomfortable pregnant women deserve compassion just as infertile women do; while my heart breaks for one, and I tend to be frustrated by the other, it is not my place to decide which pain is great, and therefore more "deserving" of compassion. i should be compassionate to all. Of course, this doesn't just apply to pregnancy woes, instead, it is helping to remember not ever to judge someone else's situation and deem it unworthy of sympathy.
 That said, I can't help but feel like I've been saddled with my own dose of pregnancy discomfort as a means of teaching me this lesson. I have a history of "sensitive kidneys". I am quickly prone to kidney infection and tend to have higher blood pressure in the first half of pregnancy, despite exercise and the Brewer's pregnancy diet. Those things certainly help, but the most important thing seems to be a careful regimen of cranberry pills and hydration. Both of those things are difficult when a big pregnant tummy is already pressing on you causing constant heartburn. I tend to be, as many of us are, more vigilant about my health when someone else is depending directly on it, and so I have managed to avoid infections during pregnancy.
 Last week, I started having severe all day sickness again, but suspecting that this baby just might be a boy, I didn't think too much of it ( other than ugghhhhh...) since I had experienced all of these things with my one and only boy. After keeping nothing done for days, on Thursday I started feeling a distinct kidney ache, on both sides, and through the night it became a distinct throb in the right side. Thinking that I had ended up with a sneaky infection,I headed to the doctor Friday. I feel like I wasted my entire day.
When my urine sample came back clear, I was told it was just "back pain", discomfort because of a fourth pregnancy. The thing is, I have a whole medical file that shows I know what kidney pain is. I feel like the disimissiveness comes because the military hospital deals with so many women who come in for every little things- because when health care is "free" one can be frivolous with it. Since the pain was more of an ache at this point, I let it go, came home ( in a crummy mood), decided to up my water, and Dr. Google it. Lo' and behold, what do I find, but that physiological swelling of the kidney during pregnancy ( hyronephrosis), particularly in the right kidney, is a fairly common issue in pregnancy- especially if you have problems draining your bladder ( which I have, ever since an unnecessary catheter during my first labor). I can't help but feel hurt that no one would listen to what I was saying, but I feel uplifted by God to yet again see my instincts confirmed.  The pain is constant, but typically dull. The prognosis seems to be very good, so long as you avoid infection (so I am being very strict with my cranberry, water, and probiotics), but there seem to be mix opinions about whether any thing else is necessary. I see the midwives again on Friday and plan to tell them what I have been feeling, how it has gone since last Friday, and how I felt about being dismissed, considering my history ( and the obvious diagnosis). We shall see what comes.
One thing I know though, I will never again be as dismissive of anyone else's pregnancy discomforts. Now I know how it feels to have someone that you can't possibly be feeling what you say you are feeling.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Long time, no write

 In all honesty, I started neglecting the blog because I felt like journaling was a time luxury that I couldn't afford. After the whirlwind of this last year though, I feel that it is is something I cannot afford to neglect. The little SoulFulls are growing up so fast, and there is so much about it all that I want to remember. I want a place to write down the funny little things that they say and do, our learning triumphs and tribulations, and our increasing faith.
 In watching our faith grow, it was also amazingly rewarded this year. I had previously written ( and possibly deleted...?) posts about how much I longed for more children, how I struggled with ugly bitterness because of it, and how I was trying to give it over to the Lord and accept that he would make me content, one way or the other. It was freeing. I stopped worrying about it and just embraced the idea that he would make me content- so long as I decided to be content with His will, and not what I thought his will should be.
 Little did I know, he was working on my husband's heart too. As much as he loves his children, he certainly never longed for them. he went a long with each pregnancy and loved each baby, but he had no desire, whatesoever to have any more of them. I couldn't help but take it as a judgement against my mother. Maybe, just maybe, if I was a good enough wife and mother, well he might see having more children as more of a blessing, less of a burden, and actually want to welcome more of them into the family.
 apparently, Mr. soulfull had been praying too, and while I was feeling contentedness take over, he was beginning to feel that longing- that appreciation for what it could mean to bring more life into this house and world.
 Lo and behold, an almost medically impossible answer to prayer. I won't go into the details too much, but I had been struggling with some health issues that made this pregnancy quite a miracle. Despite this being my fourth, there have been so many surprises. It is making me realize that my first three pregnancies were much more alike than different.
 The other big news is that I finally finished my degree, and while there are many lessons to be shared there, I will leave it right now to say that I am glad it is over. I am grateful to be home raising and schooling my own children with a new confidence and conviction.
Baby Soulfull is set to arrive May 17th.