Mattress Wrapping and SIDS

March 24, 2015 at 6:38 pm

Almost four years ago, I wrote a post called Healing Your Home in which I shared my passion for air-purifying house plants. I also shared info about how poor air quality during the prenatal and neonatal period has been linked to preterm birth, reduced fetal growth, preeclampsia, respiratory problems in infants, reduced intelligence, mood and behavior problems, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). House plants can do a great job of removing toxins from the air. I have plants in almost every room of my house partially for this reason.

Book Cover (16)One source of toxins in indoor air is often overlooked: mattresses. I know I never considered the possibility that our mattresses could be harming us until I learned some valuable information about SIDS. I shared this in my house plant post:

Their research demonstrates that SIDS is the result of accidental poisoning due to toxic gases released from baby mattresses. These gases are produced by the interaction of common household fungi with phosphorus, arsenic and antimony, chemicals which are either present naturally in the mattresses or which have been added as flame retardant chemicals (Source).

Since then I have learned more about the toxic gas theory. Here’s an explanation from Prevent SIDS, quoting Lendon H. Smith, MD:

Before World War II, unexplained infant deaths were unusual. But after 1950, the governments of nearly all the rich industrialized countries required treatment of baby and child mattresses with flame retardant chemicals. Phosphorus and antimony were most commonly used; arsenic was sometimes added later as a preservative.

On Drinking Tiger Vomit

February 2, 2015 at 4:04 am

“It’s OK, Mommy.  You’ll grow another one.” -My second daughter (after I pushed out my fourth baby’s placenta)

A little over a week ago, I attended a three-day therapeutic guided imagery training workshop. It was one of those life-changing experiences… where you know you are exactly where you are supposed to be, learning exactly what you are supposed to be learning. Before I tell you about some of my imagery experiences, let me answer a question that may be on some of your minds: what is guided imagery?

In brief, as a therapeutic guided imagery facilitator, I can help another person come into a relaxed and altered state where we can use the mind/imagination to visualize or imagine a limitless variety of experiences and possibilities and find comfort and healing. Guided imagery isn’t just a sort of woo-woo feel-good hippy trip. It is shown through scientific research to be beneficial in a wide variety of circumstances for a wide variety of physical and emotional difficulties. The Journal of Instructional Psychology explains:

Guided imagery is a flexible intervention whose efficacy has been indicated through a large body of research over many decades in counseling and allied fields. It has earned the right to be considered a research-based approach to helping. (Guided Imagery as an Effective Therapeutic Technique: A Brief Review of Its History and Efficacy Research)

For instance, in a recent pilot study published in Holistic Nursing Practice looking at the effect of guided imagery on stress levels of hospitalized pregnant women, the results were promising:

Vaccines and Vulnerability

January 14, 2015 at 7:52 pm

A few years ago I wrote a blogpost in which I looked at the home birth vs. hospital birth debate through the lens of my brothers’ boating accident. It was my final word on the matter. Today I’d like to do the same with the vaccine debate. ‘Cause let’s be honest… it is getting really (really, really, really) old. Right? People on both sides tell tragedy stories and hurl horribly mean words at each other. I won’t give those hurtful words any weight by listing any of them here. Regardless of your personal views about vaccines, I think we can all agree that resorting to name-calling and meanness is… just not cool.

Here’s the thing about stories… we can never know the full story. Nothing will teach you to doubt the details in any news story better than being the family in those news stories. As my brothers’ boating accident made headlines, I cringed over and over at the mistakes and misrepresentations in both print and television outlets. When it comes to “news,” doubt the details. Always doubt the details.

Now what?

November 10, 2014 at 11:11 pm

I’ve been pregnant or nursing and caring for my children full-time for more than a decade. I’ve been blogging about pregnancy, birth, and mothering for over seven of those years. As a new mom, I had been neglecting to meet my own needs for intellectual growth and fulfillment, but my blog gave me that outlet. From 2009 until 2011 I wrote a book with four co-authors about spirituality and birth. Birth has been my passion (obsession?) for most of my adult life thus far.

But I don’t expect I will ever give birth or breastfeed again (so many mixed feelings about that one). My “baby” is nearly four years old. And I can feel my brain pulling away from birth. I still yearn for all women to have empowering and beautiful birth experiences, but my mind no longer buzzes with birthy topics and blogpost ideas.

Now what?

crossroadImage Source

One Foot in Front of the Other

July 4, 2014 at 4:09 pm

This morning we got up extra early. I hadn’t slept well, and I didn’t really want to get up, but I did.

Every year for several years my husband and occasionally myself and other family members have run a race called the Freedom Run for the 4th of July. This was the first year that my oldest daughter had signed up for the 5k with her dad. My second-oldest daughter wanted to do the one-mile, so (several months ago) I agreed to do it with her.

But last night I was dreading it. Sleep is precious to me these days, and I wasn’t sure if I even had the strength to go that one mile. But I knew how excited my daughter was. And I knew I couldn’t let her down.

So I got up. And we got ready. And we went to the race.

We arrived just as the one-mile race was beginning, so we rushed to the start. And for a mile, I ran (very slowly) with my daughter out ahead of me, saying, “Come on, Mom. You can do it!” Over and over.

I couldn’t help thinking how fitting it was. It was hard, and I didn’t really want to do it, but it was the light and strength of my daughter that kept me putting one foot in front of the other.

Waiting for Light

July 1, 2014 at 4:20 pm

I’m not sure where to begin.

Two years ago (2012), around this time of year, I first became acquainted with anxiety and depression like nothing I had ever experienced before. After a few months of enduring and trying a variety of natural remedies, I turned to medication. It was a couple of months of crawling through hell while I waited for the medication to help. But eventually it did. And I felt like myself again.

We thought the medication would only be a temporary thing. I slowly (slowly) weaned down over the course of last year. I took my last dose at the beginning of March of this year (2014). March I felt fine. I thought, “That was easy.” April I started slipping. May I plunged back into that dark and anxious hell I never wanted to crawl through ever again.

We made an emergency trip to my dad and stepmom’s house at the end of May so I could have extra support while I tried to get well again. All of May and for two weeks of June I tried more natural remedies (they could fill a whole other blogpost and probably will someday). I really wanted to believe I could get better without meds. When I started getting suicidal, we knew it was time. Miraculously, I was able to get an appointment with a well-respected psychiatrist on June 13. I started back on my meds the next day.

Modeling Empathy

March 10, 2014 at 7:59 pm

Empathy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Back in 2010, a study of nearly 14,000 American college students indicated that “college students today are 40 percent less empathetic than those of 30 years ago, with the numbers plunging primarily after 2000″ (Source). I started college in 1999, so this downward trend began in my generation. What can we expect to be the consequences of this lack of empathy? “Low empathy is associated with criminal behavior, violence, sexual offenses, aggression when drunk and other antisocial behaviors” (Source). Not a pretty sight. This probably helps explain why I rarely watch/read the news anymore. So can we halt this trend toward empathy-lack?

As a first-time mom, a friend of mine invited me to attend an event for moms and kids. I don’t remember much about it. I think we rotated through different rooms with a variety of crafts and games and activities. The one thing that has stuck with me (after ten years) was a presentation about the importance of empathy. The woman encouraged us to respond to our children’s distress or tantrums first with empathy. She explained that we all have an innate need to feel understood, including and especially children. She encouraged us, when our children would cry about something upsetting to them, to acknowledging their big feelings, speak aloud our understanding of why they would be upset, match their tone of voice and facial expression and then gradually bring it down to a calmer one. For whatever reason, this advice about empathy felt profound and life-changing, and it sunk deep into my heart and mind.

Mother-Daughter Book Recommendations

March 3, 2014 at 12:24 am

Last night I finished another book with my two older daughters (ages 8 and 10). My husband and I take turns reading to them at night (different books). After finishing the Chronicles of Narnia with them, my husband moved on to the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. I married a fantasy fan. I, on the other hand, have been sharing books with strong, brave young females as their main characters. The last three we have read have been really different from each other, but all such wonderful books.

I thought I’d share a few thoughts about each of them here in case you’re looking for some mother-daughter reading material.

81b3VP92QjLRonia, the Robber’s Daughter, by Astrid Lindgren

I got this book for my second daughter for Christmas. We started reading it together Christmas night. When it began with a woman in labor on the very first page, I was sold. Especially when I saw these words:

“The fact was that Lovis liked to sing while she was having her baby. It made things easier, she insisted, and the baby would probably be all the jollier if it arrived on earth to the sound of a song.”

If I ever give birth again, I’m totally singing my baby out (see why HERE). This book is masterfully written. A beautiful coming-of-age story with strong themes of friendship, family, and forgiveness. It’s the kind of book where you feel like crying when it ends because you’ve grown to love the characters so much.

Candy Conversion

December 4, 2013 at 4:55 pm

When I told my stepmom a few weeks ago that I didn’t take my kids trick-or-treating on Halloween, she said, “Lani!” with a tone that indicated absolute horror. “Why?!”

In the past, my kids have become sick every year after Halloween. Illness in my children is a huge anxiety trigger for me. They also have really crazy tantrums while under the influence of artificial food coloring combined with sugar. Apparently, they’re not alone. Artificial colors are really bad for us. Excess sugar is really bad for us. If you think about it, most candy = various forms of slow-acting poison combined, with virtually no redeeming value beyond taste.

I kind of concur with this lady: “I’m boycotting Halloween because it’s a celebration of something that’s literally killing us.” So on Halloween we went to the movies instead. We counseled together as a family and decided that it was a fair trade. They even assuaged my guilt with negative answers when I said, “Am I the meanest mom ever?” Going to the movies is a rare thing for us, so definitely a “treat” for my kids. We hadn’t seen “Monster’s University” yet, and it was at the discount theater. They wore their costumes to the theater. Stinkin’ awesome costumes, in fact.

And nobody got sick after Halloween or the entire month of November. Score.

Coming Full Circle

October 9, 2013 at 2:08 pm

“He hath made every thing beautiful in his time.” -Ecclesiastes 3:11

For months, I cried myself to sleep: “I want my mommy… I want my mommy… I want my mommy…” My little toddler heart was broken. And at first I didn’t want to have anything to do with the strange new woman called Grandma. Thirty years later, it’s hard to believe that Grandma’s house was ever uncomfortable for me.

One of my earliest memories is of a stormy night after my parents’ divorce.  I can remember lying in a crib next to my sister’s bed.  The rain was pouring down, whipping against the house and windows.  The wind was howling like ghosts.  There was lightning and thunder.  I cried as loudly and franticly as I could because I honestly and completely believed that the house was going to be shred to pieces and we were all going to die.

Then my grandmother came to my crib-side. 

IMG_6956_2I can’t remember what happened next, but the memory ends with me waking up calmly in the morning in my grandmother’s bed.  She saved me. And her unfailing love gave me the foundation upon which I built the rest of my life.

When Grandma’s friends came to visit, she would introduce me to them: “This is my baby.” Over and over and over she said those words: “My baby.” Even as an older child and a teenager, I was always introduced to her friends as “My baby.”

Grandma’s house was my refuge. Her love was healing balm for my broken heart. Those words, “My Baby” reaffirmed over and over and over again that I was loved and wanted and claimed… I was hers.

Preparing Our Daughters

September 20, 2013 at 12:03 am

We’re speedily approaching the 10th anniversary of my birth into motherhood. It kind of boggles my mind that I’ve been a mother for a decade. It also boggles my mind that this baby…

126_7693141899_4545_n…is only a few days away from her 10th birthday. Double digits?!

For the past couple of years, I’ve been pondering what I want to do to help her prepare as she nears the milestone of menarche. Over the years I’ve taught her little by little (through casual conversations) about her body, her reproductive organs, how they work, what will happen when she starts to bleed, how babies are made, etc. Being the daughter of a birth junkie has its perks! She knows more about women’s bodies than most girls her age, I’d wager, and certainly more than I ever knew before I reached menarche.

I wrote a bit about my own journey into the world of menstruation and my hopes for my daughters in my post “Red and Powerful” HERE. I’ve known for a long time that I wanted my daughters’ experiences to be more positive than mine was. So a month or two ago I started creating a book for my daughter.

Not Done

September 11, 2013 at 3:03 am

My friend, Katie, wrote a post for our book blog on Monday called “Your family is complete.” In it she shares how she came to know on a deep and spiritual level that her family was complete after the birth of her sixth child. Discussions on our book’s fb page and my Birth Faith facebook page have had me pondering the subject quite a lot.

Personally, I’ve gone back and forth on this subject numerous times. I even included ya’ll in many of those ponderings…

  • “Though I would certainly not refuse any child that came to me, I feel as though it would be a supreme act of selfishness (and craziness) for me to willfully invite any more children into my home.”  (Done?)
  • “As I’ve pondered it, I’ve come to peace with either path.  I feel OK with being done.  And I feel OK with not being done.” (Done? Revisited)
  • “Yes, there is another child who loves me deeply and intensely, waiting… and hoping that I will have the courage to surrender again.” (Surrender, part 5)
  • “For someone who has spent the last decade of my life passionate about birth and motherhood and babies, it seems so strange that… at present… I have to confess…  Seeing pregnant women makes me feel anxious, seeing babies makes me feel anxious, thinking about ever being pregnant again or having another baby makes me feel horrified.” (Fiery Furnace)
  • “After a while she told me she wanted to introduce me to someone. Another spirit appeared. This spirit is someone I’ve often believed to exist, but I have never known for certain. It was my unborn son. I have come to know him much better over the course of the past month, to understand more about who he is and why he will be a blessing to my family (and the world).” (Retreat)

What a ride! And the ride’s not over yet! Regardless of what goes on inside of me as I ponder this question, I still have a husband with his own strong opinions on the subject. And I’m not about to coerce him into anything. But I can say for myself that I feel confident that my family is not “complete” yet.

Wrap Happy

August 28, 2013 at 10:42 pm

Almost exactly four years ago, I wrote a blogpost about making your own no-sew baby wrap. August of 2009. My third child had been born in April of that year, and he was the first of my children to be “worn” regularly. I had made my own ring sling while I was pregnant with him, and then when he was several months old, I made my own stretchy baby wrap.

The first time I recall seeing a baby wrap was back in 2007. An old friend who had become a midwife came to a little reunion at my dad’s house with her new baby strapped to her in a wrap. I thought it was cool, but I didn’t really see another wrap until my doula training in February of 2009. There were a lot of moms with nursing babies at the training, and a couple of women with wraps. But still… wraps were something I only really saw at gatherings of crunchy women or on crunchy websites. They weren’t trendy in the slightest.

When I started wearing my infant son in a stretchy wrap, I came to know just how unusual it was. Everywhere I went, people seemed to have never seen anything like it before. I felt like a walking advertisement for babywearing because I spent some time nearly every outing talking with one or two strangers about what it was, how to make one, that it’s easier to use than it looks, etc. I enjoyed those conversations immensely. It made me happy to spread the joy of babywearing and to imagine how those women’s lives might improve and become easier through making contact with me and my happy wrapped baby boy.

That was four years ago. My blogpost about making your own baby wrap did get a reasonable amount of traffic, but nothing to raise my eyebrows about. Then something happened in 2010-2011. Pinterest hit the web.

Maggie’s Place

June 11, 2013 at 7:28 pm

When I attended my DONA doula training back in early 2009, many of the attendees mentioned that they were volunteers at “Maggie’s Place.” I’ve been wanting to learn more about Maggie’s Place ever since. And the more I learn about this organization, the more I want to become involved in their mission.

What is Maggie’s Place? From their website:

Maggie’s Place is a community that provides houses of hospitality for expectant women who are alone or on the streets, and wish to achieve their goals in a dignified and welcoming atmosphere. Maggie’s Place provides for the immediate physical and emotional needs of our guests including shelter, food, clothing and a supportive community, and provides a safe environment for them to live in while they develop the skills they need to live independently.

Windows to the Womb

June 8, 2013 at 5:11 pm

I’ve had this book sitting on my desk for a couple of months now, skimming select portions off and on, researching specific topics. I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to just start at the beginning and read it, but I plopped myself down on the grass in my backyard this morning and started. It only took a few pages before I was smitten. (And nobody’s paying me to say that. I got the book from the library.)

Written by David Chamberlain, PhD, it delves into the fascinating research now available in the field of prenatal and perinatal psychology. Mothering Magazine celebrated Dr. Chamberlain as a “Living Treasure” in 2003, and he was honored in 2007 at the Gentle Birth World Conference, receiving the Mother Goose Award for his work with mothers and babies. Dr. Chamberlain also happens to be a fan of my mentor Sarah Hinze‘s work, and he has included several stories from Sarah’s pre-birth experience research in Windows to the Womb.

“Babies have taught me a lot, as I have been privileged to listen to their deep memories. As a psychotherapist, I am especially aware of the need to create babies that are mentally and physically healthy in order to have a world that is healthy and peaceful. Babies are the key to the future of the world” (David Chamberlain, Windows to the Womb, preface).

OK, I’m off to read some more. Stay tuned for a more in-depth review when I’ve finished reading.

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