Mama Cloth, Part 1 – Guest Post

A special thanks to Jen for volunteering to guest blog for us this weekend. Jen messaged me a few weeks back and asked how I felt about her guest posting with her experiences trying out cloth menstrual pads…. I loved it! Personally, I use a DivaCup and have loved the benefits that come from it. Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to visit Jen’s blog, you’ll find the link in her bio at the end of this post! (Find part 2 HERE, where you can learn how to make your own mama cloth pads! )
Dear Sarah’s friends and family,

If you’re anything like me, you are a Mom first and foremost and being a Mom means worrying about just about everything.  From the dyes in my kids “simple” foods to what he is wearing on his bum.  I try to aim for real foods and cloth diapers, but I don’t always hit the mark on both of those.

Then I go to thinking: If my son is enjoying cloth diapers and it is better for my body then why I am using feminine products that are probably not the best for me.

I know, I know!  Menstruation is not our favorite topic, but really ladies let us listen to our bodies and not to our culture.  Our flow is natural healthy and normal – we should be proud of our reproductive capabilities.

Honestly, I am tired of spending money on chemical infused cotton only to throw it away because it is “dirty.”  Not to mention my nether lady parts feel either invaded or suffocated by the products that are provided to us on the shelf.

I say it’s time that we think about ourselves and what we are doing.  Tampons can cause Toxic Shock Syndrome and contain rayon fibers that can remain in our bodies.  I think I’ll skip that and so I have.

I have started making and using my own cloth pads.

Now, before you start gagging hear me out.  I was at home one day researching all of the information I just gave you and thinking – why am I continuing to buy products that are making more waste, not the best for my body, and not reusable.  I started scrounging around my house for something – anything that would serve as a barrier between my flow and my clothes.  I happened to stumble up some handkerchiefs that we hadn’t used since we got married.  Red ones to boot.  I sat on the edge of the bed and started playing around with folding them and before I knew it I had folded that red handkerchief into a cute little pad!

Me being the stubborn pioneer woman I am and going through my cycle at that time, I decided to give it a try.  I did.  And it was nice!  My parts could breathe without me worrying about leaking on something.  It just felt like I had on some thick undies.  So I got brave and wore my newly founded cloth pads to my parent’s house.  I didn’t bleed everywhere and I was comfortable.  Then I really pushed the envelope and wore them to work.  Half the time I didn’t even think about the new pad being there – I did as I always have and just changed them when I went to use the restroom.

I feel much more secure.  I don’t have to run to the store every time I run out.  I don’t have that wired sticky stuff sticking to everything.  My pads don’t make any embarrassing rustling noses.  And they are pretty.

I used basic handkerchiefs I found at Wal-Mart for $1.  I haven’t gotten very sophisticated with these feminine products yet so you will have to forgive their somewhat simplistic design.  My flow can be heavy so I am experimenting with layers of all fabrics and wool inserts.  This time around (I am woman enough to admit) I used mis-matched socks.  I found one regular cotton sock, folded, absorbent enough without being bulky.  I am still working that dilemma out.

I found the best method for me was to use one regular folded pad and simply changed them whenever I went to the bathroom.  The only issue that I had when using cloth was that my hair would sometimes stick to the used and dried cloth pad.  So, shave before use!
I’ve worked out that I am going to need 38 to 45 cloth pads.  So, that is about $45 to get started at $1 a handkerchief.  However, if you think about how much you are spending on pads… Let’s say you go through the 38 pads at $10 a package.  If you do that 12 times that is $120!  You can cut what you are spending by more than half if you use cloth pads!  I don’t know about you, but I’ll take that extra monies and go buy something kinda fancy!
If you’re looking for an alternative to pads, cloth pads are a good way to go!  But if you want something quicker or pre-made there are lots of different types on Etsy some shop owners offer starter packages.  However, if you are wanting something a bit more sophisticated check out the Diva cup.  And if you are really up for a challenge, look into crochet tampons.  That’s my next big adventure.
Whatever you choose, choose what you are most comfortable with – yes, this does take some getting use to!  Oh, I almost forgot!  Don’t forget to carry along a “wet bag,” I just use a simple gallon zip lock when I’m on the go, but I don’t like all the noise it makes.  There are many shops on Etsy that specialize in wet bags and most cloth diaper retailers have them too!
Until ALL have heard,
Jen

 

Hi there! I’m Jen. I’m a God-loving, happily married, to Christ, 32-year-old, full-time mom to one handsome little boy! I work part-time in childcare, five days a week, at the YMCA and six days a week, for Wycliffe, a faith-based bible translation organization.

In my spare time, I blog about our journey to become full-time missionaries at Wandering Missionaries and have my fiber art business. I love God and cannot survive without daily support, nourishment, and encouragement in Him. I love my husband and rely on him to keep me sane as we walk our faith walk together in our daily lives. And I love my little boy, who keeps from sitting on the side lines and always encourages me to jump into life!

My dream is to teach French on an island in the South Pacific, Papua New Guinea in Ukarumpa and be a full-time missionary in a supportive role for Bible translation! I really enjoy meeting new people! Drop me a line at jenrstrickland@gmail.com and don’t forget to check out my blog, Wandering Missions!

How to Create Your Dream Board – Guest Post

Every once in a while we give thought to our goals and aspirations. We daydream about excelling in our careers, traveling to that destination we’ve always wanted to go to, or even those pair of shoes that we’ve had our eyes on for a while. Daydreaming although healthy and inspiring; merely comes in waves in our busy day to day lives, usually causing us to put our visions for the future on the backburner. It is always easier to visualize your desires as a reality when you remind yourself of them every day. And one of the best ways to help you keep sight of your goals is to make a Dream Board. Creating Dream Boards or Vision Boards are a fun and encouraging way to keep you thinking positively about your dreams while helping you to visually see them every day! Building your own Dream Board is an exciting and motivating task anyone can do and can easily be done in 4 simple steps:

Dream big words
1. Find your board
Whatever you want to use as the base of your board is completely up to you.  You can use a cork board to easily add things daily, a white board, a poster board, or even a mirror that you can write on and get creative with.

2. Find your images
Lots of magazines are helpful.  Start tearing pages and cutting images and pile them up before you start glueing.  You can also use pictures you’ve taken personally, maybe some of you and your family, strategically placed in that magazine cutout of your dream house.  You can use internet images, book pictures, or even drawings.  Choose images that best represent your biggest goals and ambitions so that when you see them, you can envision yourself getting closer and closer to achieving that dream!

3. Decorate
Personalizing and decorating your Dream board is where you make it your own.  Make it fun and eye-catching; something that when you look at it, it radiates good thoughts and healthy visions about your goals. Add colors, textures, pictures, quotes; whatever you want to make it stand out and inspire you every day.

4. Hang it up
Place your Dream Board in a spot that can’t be missed.  This can be anywhere from your refrigerator door to your bedroom wall.  The best place is where you are going to see it no matter what, so that you can easily envision your dreams and give yourself daily motivation.

5. Declare It
Take a picture of it and share it with the world.  Let everyone you know in on your dreams.  This will give you a little pressure I like to call accountability.  It’s hard to fail or quit in public so when you post it on your Facebook or Instagram you won’t want to fail in front of your friends so you will work harder to get what you want.

Now that you have your steps and your tools, the most important part is having a positive mindset. When you look at your Dream Board each day, remind yourself that those aspirations are attainable and that each day you’re a step closer to reaching your dreams than you were before. Don’t lose sight of your goals and always #DreamBIG!

Barbara Boser is a leader in the direct sales industry with It Works Global.  She is a top money earner and has built her business online.  She spends her time helping people get healthier and wealthier.  Her favorite past time is traveling and she resides in Los Angeles, CA. You can find her blog HERE, and please take some time to follow her Facebook and Twitter pages!

Not the Breastfeeding Story I Wanted – Guest Post

Thank you to everyone who has volunteered to guest post for me these next couple of weeks, I’m excited to have Eden guest posting for us today. You’ll find her bio and social media/blog links at the end of this post. After reading Eden’s first email I was very much looking forward to having her guest blog, unlike myself, she had a very difficult journey trying to breastfeed. Her story is one I’ve heard from other mom’s, but you just don’t hear these stories enough. I will forever and foremost say that breast is best, but it’s not the only way. I’m so proud of Eden for trying as hard as she did and seeking out help, she was courageous and brave… I don’t know if I could have been as strong as she was!

No one prepares you. No one warns you. No one tells you not to get attached to your breastfeeding story.

In prenatal classes, you’re advised to focus on a healthy baby, not your birth story. But there’s no such caveat for breastfeeding. All you hear with breastfeeding is “breast milk is best.” Do whatever it takes to breastfeed for at least six months, twelve months if you can. If you suffer from allergies, it’s drilled into that the best chances your child has for avoiding allergies is to be breastfed.

Then, it happens. For you, breastfeeding doesn’t come easily. You’re a member of a group no one wants to admit membership in. Worse, you’re one of the small percentage of women whose milk supply is not enough to sustain your baby. Because no one talks publicly about issues with breastfeeding, you’re left to fend for yourself in silence. What little assistance is out there focuses on what you’re doing wrong. You’re not drinking enough water. You have insufficient nutrition. You need to relax. There’s something wrong with you.

20120602Gates_0377_Color

I was one of the women whose milk supply was not enough to sustain my daughter. I’d originally given up hopes of breastfeeding when I couldn’t find a correctly sized, supportive nursing bra. Months of fruitless searching had me in tears every time someone mentioned breastfeeding. “The breast is best,” echoed in my head; before my daughter was even born, I was going to be a horrible mother. My husband and I had agreed that if I couldn’t find a nursing bra, we’d go the formula route. Then, things started looking up! I finally found K cup nursing bras in England. I started buying into the romantic notion of breastfeeding – a child nuzzling peacefully while getting nourishment followed by contented cuddles. I thought I could do this.

My milk didn’t come in while we were in the hospital. We were worried; we took advantage of the lactation consultants on staff and had them visit daily to help us figure out what was wrong. In the hospital when our first lactation consultant showed me how to assist my daughter in latching, it hurt. The latching didn’t hurt; the compression of the breast and the hand expression of the milk did. This pain was despite taking pain medications to recover from my C-section. “No pain, no gain;” I continued to push through. I started double pumping in the hospital in an attempt to increase my supply. After my daughter had finished, I’d pump and then we’d spoon-feed her what little milk I’d produced.

With each breastfeeding session I tried mindfulness techniques, forgetting previous sessions and focusing on relaxing and enjoying the bonding experience with my daughter. When I no longer needed pain medications for my C-section a few weeks later, I would discover that breastfeeding reduced me to tears. The only way I could breastfeed was by taking ibuprofen a half hour before a session as recommended. (The entire time I was downing ibuprofen I kept shaking my head in disbelief that mild pain relievers were recommended and that I’d be living on them for the next six months to a year.)

IMG_3411

On our first night at home, I was faced with our first breastfeeding challenge. The breast pump that we rented wasn’t able to double pump as efficiently as the breast pump I’d used in the hospital. To get the same yield I saw in the hospital, I had to pump each breast serially. I was worried that I ‘d not have enough milk. While I was on a waiting list for the better pump, I took matters into my own hands and at 4:00AM purchased the better pump ($1,400). According to Amazon, the pump would arrive in 3 to 5 days. Worst case, I’d have the pump in a week, still before I could rent the pump. (Unfortunately, the pump wouldn’t arrive on time. Luckily, another center in the city had a pump available that I was able to rent.)

My second breastfeeding challenge came up over the weekend; my breast milk had a pink tinge. I called an after hours lactation hotline. The nurse reassured me that I’d probably broken a capillary, but that it wasn’t harmful to the baby. (I’d learn in a week that the initial nipple shield the lactation consultant had given me was too small and that I’d lacerated my nipple.) I continued breastfeeding and pumping.

Our second visit to the pediatrician we met with bad news: my daughter had not returned to her birth weight. Off to another lactation consultant we went. Now I was guzzling Mother’s Milk Tea and popping Fenugreek pills. (It’s a good thing I love maple syrup because I smelled like a maple syrup farm.) By this point, breastfeeding was anything but an enjoyable bonding experience. I had to wake up my daughter to eat rather than have her lead. Every three hours I’d wake up a peaceful babe, and after a feeding followed by pumping along with my husband would spend the next two hours trying to calm a pterodactyl.

IMG_3416

Two weeks after we left the hospital, it had become excruciatingly painful to breastfeed from the right breast. I realized I needed help and found a postpartum doula specializing in breastfeeding education. A simple position switch (from football hold to cross-cradle hold) eliminated most of the discomfort. It looked as if I was finally in the clear.

Within less than a day, it became painful to breastfeed from the left breast. I was at my wits end; it didn’t seem that I could ever get ahead. I thought I had a clogged duct (it was actually mastitis and an abscess). I tried to break up the clog. I made an appointment with a lactation consultant. Bad news. I had mastitis and my daughter was not transferring milk efficiently. Every three hours – after each breastfeeding session – I needed to double pump. I pumped. I measured the output and compared the volume to previous days. The volume was still down. I consulted the lactation consultant again; I needed to pump more frequently, every two hours.

For four weeks, I tried to breastfeed. For four weeks, I practiced every mindfulness technique I had learned in our birthing classes. For four weeks, I bit my tongue and tried to choke back tears while I pumped to try to increase my supply. “No pain, no gain.” Pushing through the discomfort became my mission. All my waking hours were spent either breastfeeding or pumping so that I could breastfeed later. I dreaded hearing my daughter moving in her crib; it signaled meant more pain. I dreaded what the scale would say after we breastfed; it screamed failure.

20120602Gates_0456_Color

For me, there was no bonding during breastfeeding. While my daughter fed, I bit my tongue and kept counting to ten again and again. Handing my daughter to my husband, my mom, or our postpartum doula, was an emotional rush. I felt guilty and alone.

All said and done, my husband and I spent thousands of dollars getting help trying to breastfeed. Luckily, we had the money saved so we could see multiple lactation specialists and hire a postpartum doula specializing in breastfeeding education and support. Not everyone has the luxury of help.

When I finally began talking about my challenges, I was astonished to find other women who had publicly claimed to exclusively breastfed their babies had not. They, too, had challenges and supplemented with, or exclusively used, formula. All asked me to keep their secret. I was disgusted. Not with them, but with today’s environment that reduces women to lying about how easily breastfeeding came to them.

Feeding your baby formula ostracizes you. In mommy’s groups, the other mothers start sitting further away from you. You’re not invited to play dates. Some of the mothers (including some who privately were not breastfeeding) chastised mothers who picked up bottles of formula, not even checking whether or not the mother could breastfeed. Mothers of adopted children weren’t spared the snide comments; no one asked first to find out why someone wasn’t breastfeeding. Instead, lines were drawn. The thinking being that the woman feeding her baby formula must be a bad mother, she’s not breastfeeding and everyone knows, “the breast is best.” After trying a few mommy’s groups and online forums, I withdrew. I didn’t need the additional guilt; I heaped enough of it on myself.

I’m sharing my breastfeeding story today because I don’t want other mothers to feel alone. My breastfeeding story isn’t the one I dreamed of. It was hard to let go of my vision of what breastfeeding with my daughter should be like. Harder was dealing with the feelings that for three weeks of her life I’d rather have been anywhere other than near her.

IMG_3418

My daughter is almost two years old and my breastfeeding story still makes me emotional. There are constant reminders that my decision is second best. I worry whether or not I have affected her IQ. I fret whether she will develop allergies (we had her tested to assuage my fears that she had developed a milk allergy).

As a society and as mothers, we need to support all mothers regardless of their choices—without asking first for the backstory. We need to do better. Rather than not talk about the potential problems some women face with breastfeeding, we need to cover them. We can’t be afraid that knowing about mastitis will steer mothers towards bottlefeeding. We need to tell mothers not to get attached to their breastfeeding story. Like with labor, our goals with what we do should be a healthy mother and a healthy baby.

IMG_3428

 

Eden Hensley is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of the The Road to The Good Life, a blog about appreciating and enhancing your life by being grateful for the “haves” instead of lingering on the “wants”. She lives in San Francisco with her husband, 21 month old daughter, and a Maine Coon cat. On The Road to The Good Life, she shares thoughts on home, food, family and fashion. You’ll find personal stores about her life and family weaved in with real-life, achievable entertaining tips, recipes and fashion inspiration. Follow Eden via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to learn more!