Tuesday, November 09, 2010

New blogging...

I'm mostly blogging on my wordpress (business) blog now...check it out http://naturesmother.wordpress.com

Saved by my sling!

When Erin was a baby it was fairly easy. I only had her to worry about. I could sit around and be with her, and yes, I had to do housework and cooking but it wasn't that pressing since if Steven was there he'd do it and if he wasn't I'd eat/clean when she was asleep. I made a sling with Erin was not absolutely ideal and she didn't like it much, I didn't persevere as I could just hold her instead.

But this time around it's all different...I have a toddler to keep an eye on, play with, feed, etc and I honestly don't know how mums cope without a sling. Ayla absolutely LOVES the sling and prefers going to sleep in it to going in her pram or our bed. She can hear my heartbeat, feel the warmth of my body and smell me. I can have her close, know that she's safe, feel her snug warmness, kiss her head and get on with daily life with Erin.

It's also much easier than trying to get a pram in and out of shops if you're in town, nevermind being so much nicer for both of you. Teach your partner and friends to use it too! Ayla has been carried around in our sling by 6 people so far...it's one sure fire way of chilling her out and it's a lovely thing to share with close friends & family too!

I had someone in the shop scowl at me and ask me if she thought babies were REALLY comfortable in "those things". I pointed out that I didn't think my baby would be sleeping soundly if she was uncomfortable. Getting shopping done without crying is such a bonus...

Do yourself a favour if you are a mama-to-be and get yourself one!! The one I use is called a Close baby carrier and is made from soft organic cotton. It is similar to a wrap sling except it is easier to use as you don't have to remember special ties etc. I bought it second hand (but it looked new!) by joining the UK Babywearing swap group which also has lots of information on the different slings.

For natural pregnancy products see Natures Mother

Thursday, September 30, 2010

How my Chiro stopped Ayla crying!

It turns out that Ayla is a completely different child to Erin. **surprise**

In her first couple of weeks she cried so much that Steven and I were at our wits ends. I could tell the crying was not discontentment...it was pain, or discomfort, something was not quite right and I was desperate to help my little angel. I remembered hearing about Chiropractors helping others and decided to call up Dr Maryellen Stephens, who has an amazing reputation. Chiropractors and cranial osteopaths often work on new babies just to get everything realligned that's been disturbed perhaps in the womb or during the birthing process.

Dr Maryellen was so welcoming and friendly and was wonderful with Ayla. She explained everything in detail and I'm hoping I'm recounting it correctly...

She pointed out that Ayla's head was quite uneven.. the dent in the one side of her head was bigger than the other. Perhaps from how she was lying in the womb, perhaps against my ribs or hip or something. How I understand it is that this restricted movement in her skull which is still quite flexible and the crying and lots of sucking is natures way of increasing pressure to try and get everything to move into it's correct place.

She also screamed whenever we got her dressed and couldn't lift one of her arms all the way up (which I also hadn't noticed until she pointed it out). The chiro said that her sacrum(which is not fused at this age) was not quite doing what it was supposed to and between this and her head her spine was tethered, limiting her movement and affecting digestion, latching onto the breast, etc etc.

I had just presumed she probably had colic and I was going to have to live with a few hours of really distressing crying everyday until she grew out of it, but am so glad I gave the chiro a go. She did a bit of very gentle work on her sacrum which immediately released her arm and leg so they could move as they were supposed to (no more crying when getting dressed!!!) and her head is almost even on both sides now.

From the first treatment Ayla's crying reduced from an hour or two a day to an hour or two once a week or every two weeks. Ayla is a completely different baby now...happy and content and only cries when she's tired or hungry and her nappy is full. We haven't had a crying session like we had before in about a month. She also feeds much better and is less gassy (her head would have affected her jaw and therefore her latch on my boob, etc).

So I am a totally blown away and a 100% convert to something I was originally slightly skeptical of. I really want any parent who is desperate with a crying or colicky baby to at least know that Chiropractic is an option. No one really knows what colic is, and apparently chiropractic work nearly always at least reduces the crying.

I feel I owe our sanity to Dr Maryellen Stephens of Westcountry Family Chiropractic! http://www.family-chiro.co.uk/

Dr Maryellen Stephens is also available to answer questions on the Nature's Mother forum, under "Ask the Chiropractor". www.naturesmother.co.uk (Wonderful natural pregnancy products available here too!)

Other interesting articles about chiropractic and colic



Saturday, July 03, 2010

Tandem breastfeeding

To answer the question a lot of you are asking...what is it like to breastfeed a toddler AND a newborn??

The honest answer...not without it's difficulties, but extremely rewarding! The difficulty, mainly, has been Erin wanting more boobie than ever, perhaps due to Ayla feeding so much(a bit of jealousy), but perhaps due to the yummy new milk that's come through. For the first few days Erin got really upset when I fed Ayla and not her, but I have kept her routine (mainly) of only feeding at naptime, bedtime and in the morning. On the day my milk came in and my breasts were full, hard and sore, I gave Erin an extra couple of feeds, which really helped to ease the discomfort! Erin seems to understand and accept now that Ayla needs boobie more than she does, and often sits beside me and strokes Ayla's face while she feeds. It's very sweet.

The other difficulty has been that Ayla's latch onto my breast doesn't always seem right and she often slurps my nipple in and out of her mouth which has made them a bit tender. I think this is due to the thrush she has in her mouth, making it uncomfortable for her to suck, and I'm hoping it will pass soon.

Other than that it is a joy to be able to bond with both my girls in this way-and them with each other- and know that thebenefits of breastfeeding, for all 3 of us, never end. I had a moment the other day when both girls were really tired and upset and I was at my wits end, so I sat on the bed and offered them each a breast and bathed in the stillness that followed, watching them both drinking hungrily and gazing up into my eyes, completely content, Erin instinctively rubbing her baby sisters arm.

We surely have two breasts for this reason, and while controversial in our consumerist western culture where bottle replaces what nature has provided and breasts are often associated purely with sex, it feels like the most natural thing in the world to me!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The home waterbirth of Ayla Ivy!

On Friday, June 18th, not many hours after my last blog post, after a big walk, some sex and feeling much more relaxed about whatever will be will be, I woke up at about 1am with some fairly strong contractions. 5 days after my due date. I brushed them off as Braxton Hicks and snoozed for a while. When I woke up 40 minutes later they were still going and I was beginning to feel like I couldn't lie down through them, so I got up and started timing them and wandered around, just in case this was it. They were 5 minutes apart and quite intense. I woke Steven at about 2, saying that I thought this was it. He didn't quite believe me, as my waters hadn't broken(they broke first with Erin) and he was sure they were Braxton Hicks, but when he saw me have a few contractions he began to believe me.

We called the midwife who said she'd be on her way, and we set about doing what prep was needed. Steven was lighting the rayburn to heat the water, pumping up the birthing pool and lighting the fire in the lounge, while I was putting music on, lighting candles, moving my birthing altar in, lighting the oil burner with soothing, calming lavender oil and leaning forward and breathing through contractions. I remembered the Rescue Remedy and Steven and I had a few sprays which really helped to keep us chilled.

Our amazing friend, Julie, who we live with had heard the commotion and was up making tea and snacks, helping with the fires and helping to fill the pool by the bucket load, and making sure we all had what we needed. She had to leave at 5am for France, so sadly missed the birth. Thankfully the lovely Spike, who lives in the mobile home, was around to keep an ear open for Erin(who was still fast asleep) and continue where Julie left off. The pool got filled up and I got in.

By the time my midwife, Lynne, arrived at around 4am my contractions were much closer together and pretty intense. She did an internal examination to discover I was 5cm dilated. Yay! She asked me where I'd like to give birth if the birthing pool never got filled up in time and I found a spot close to the birthing pool where I'd still be able to go onto all fours and lean against the pool, and Steven could still massage my back.

Steven was a superstar and let me boss him around telling him exactly how much pressure I felt I needed on my sacrum (his bodyweight a lot of the time!). He also reminded me to breathe slowly and deeply and held me really tight so I could put all my bodyweight on him every now and then. He was my calm, my rock - as always.

The pool got filled up and we got in. The warmth and weightlessness was comforting and made the contractions feel less intense. In fact I think it may have slowed things down because my contractions slowed right down. Erin woke up at around 6.30 and she popped in to say hi and then went on a wander with Spike. She came back in every now and then and was not at all bothered by the animal-like sounds I was making, and came up to me and stroked my hair and gave me little kisses. I had not planned to have her there, but she seemed so comfortable that it seemed wrong to chase her away. This would only have made her feel left out. And because she was comfortable, I was comfortable.

By 8ish, I was truly pooped and even thought how nice it would be to go back to bed and try again another day, but on examination I was 9cm dilated. My waters had still not broken and the midwives (a second one had arrived earlier - they're meant to have two there for the birth) did say that, while completely my choice, they could just prick a hole in the membrane( breaking my waters) and this would speed things up. I tried walking around for a while and going to the toilet, but this didn't seem to do a whole lot. Contractions were further apart and less intense. Were I still 5 cm and had lots of energy and contractions were going strong, I'd have refused having my waters broken - but being so close but with things seeming as if they were coming to a standstill I decided to go ahead and have my waters broken. It is a completely painless procedure and just involves them using something that looks like a long crotchet hook and breaking the bag that holds the water around the baby.

When the midwife broke the waters there was a bit of merconium (baby poo) in it. Lynne was not concerned as she said it looked fresh. The second midwife, however, was talking about sending me to hospital - as if baby swallows merconium it can be dangerous, and it can be a sign that baby is in distress. However baby's heart rate was great and Lynne, thankfully, put her foot down and insisted that I was having baby at home and there was no need for concern. She said that the only thing the hospital would do was monitor me, and they could do that right there in the birthing pool. I felt like there was no need for concern and knew that I was probably too close to the birth for them to send me to hospital anyway. It just shows you though, if Lynne were not on I may have been sent to hospital completely unnecessarily, so thank you Lynne!

I'd been nibbling breakfast bar, bananas and weetabix throughout and having sips of juice and tea and Lynne had a hand held doppler/heart monitor that she could use in the water to listen to baby's heartbeat whenever she needed to.

Breaking the waters meant that babies head came right down onto the cervix, getting the last of it out of the way so that babies head could move down the birth canal. I got back in the birthing pool and contractions suddenly became very intense and painful, but I had the midwives and Steven there to help me to stay strong, stay calm and breathe. I refused gas and air this time, as although they say it has no effect on baby, it is under researched and nobody knows for sure. I was also feeling a bit nauseous and didn't want to risk gas & air making me be sick.

I don't know how to explain how I was feeling at this time. I switched off to everything around me, and felt really internally focused and safe, but almost out of my body at the same time. In a good way. Before I knew it I could feel Beanie's head moving down and after a biiiig push, and a stinging feeling (the ring of fire) as baby's head crowned, I felt down in the water and I could feel her head. The hardest part was over. I waited for the next contraction to push her body out. I waited for more than 5 minutes but didn't have a contraction. I was calm though and ready. The midwives suggested Steven rub my nipples, which he did, and this brought on a strong contraction. I was on my knees leaning forward against the side of the pool. Her little body came shooting out between my legs and I reached down and lifted my gorgeous little grey bundle out of the water for her first breath ever. Welcome to the world, little Bean!

Erin was apparently there for the birth although I was completely oblivious to this. Soon after, she jumped into the water with Steven and I, and we all marveled at the little miracle who was slowly turning from grey to pink. We stayed in the birthing pool for probably 30 minutes or so, Erin was overjoyed to be swimming, and ended up under the water a few times probably drinking mouthfuls of blood, membrane, etc! But she loved it. Baby had her first feed, latching on just as easily as Erin did. No breastfeeding problems apparent here! Steven and Erin went for a shower, while I got out of the pool and delivered the placenta naturally in a squatting position (I chose not to have the injection). Baby was still attached to the cord and when Steven and Erin got back, Steven cut the cord. We put the placenta in the freezer as we plan to bury it and plant a tree on top of it. And I only had a tiny, skin deep tear on my perineum that didn't need stitching and healed within the first day - thank you perineum massage!

It was an incredible experience and although painful and tiring at the time, it was exhilarating and empowering, I would do it again in a heartbeat for the same result. Our daughter is gorgeous and we are loving falling in love with her! Erin is a fantastic big sister and just wants to help and cuddle her little sister all the time. We've decided to call baby Ayla!

A few people have said how brave I am to have baby at home, but for me it would have taken much more courage to go to hospital and have interventions, so I feel very blessed to have had the birth of my dreams, once again. I was also blessed with wonderful midwives who really did talk me through those final stages, reminding me to trust my instincts and that my body knew what it was doing and that I was strong. I know that the midwife who wanted to send me to hospital only wanted to do so out of fear of things goings wrong, and she redeemed herself by being wonderfully calming and gentle and I felt really safe around her.

I do believe that my natural pregnancy - my diet, exercise, the products I have used, books I have read, and my determination to stay positive and believe in my body - have helped me to achieve this wonderful result.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Letting go of expectations, fear and anger...

So, I'm now 4 days overdue. I know this is no great big deal, but it feels like it is to me as I was on time with number 1, so expected to be the same if not earlier with number 2! Expectations, huh?! The last few days have been an emotional rollercoaster for me, which is peculiar because I'd been so calm and positive up until then. I accept that this is part of my journey, that because Erin's birth was like clockwork doesn't necessarily mean that this one will be although it has no reason not to be.

I went to see the midwife yesterday (saw a different one to usual) and came away feeling so angry and upset. She did a Stretch & Sweep (where she just uses her fingers and does exactly as it says to my cervix). It was slightly uncomfortable, but not painful, and caused a show (the mucous plug from the cervix to come away - often a sign of pre-labour, but not always!). She then proceeded to tell me that my cervix was still high and thick and spoke about seeing me next wednesday again and about induction. None of the positive stuff I normally get from my regular midwife, who is very motherly and gives me the confidence that my body is going to do it when I'm ready. In her defence she was probably just doing her job and doesn't want to give me false hope, but I felt like she could have given me more encouragement. If I felt more hopeful, I'm sure I may relax and things might happen quicker. After all the babies head is engaged, it is really low and I get plenty of twinges and Braxton Hicks contractions. Anyway, I shall try not to diss the midwife, as I have realised that I have my own issues that I need to deal with....the biggest one being my fear of ending up in hospital.

I see hospital as a place for sick people and know that pregnancy and childbirth is NOT a sickness. However , after talking to my lovely friends, Andrew & Jerusha, who run birthing workshops and pregnancy yoga classes in Falmouth, I have been comforted by what I already know, that some do give birth naturally in hospital and that if it comes to that it is not the end of the world. I do not WANT to be induced, but I am beginning to accept that this is a possibility, although much less likely if I work through my issues... I want the perfect home water birth, but if I don't get it I will actually deal with it, even though I feel a bit like I can't! At their suggestion I am going to contact a Doula, who will be able to give me a much better idea of what my options REALLY are. The medical profession do not always make all your options clear, and unfortunately sometimes we need to fight for our rights to birth the way we want to. Since I'm not really in a head space where I want to be fighting and I want Steven by my side I think it will be a good idea to get someone like a Doula, who knows all the ins and outs thoroughly to do the fighting for us if necessary. And if fighting is not necessary (I don't think it will be) then it will still be nice to have an extra pair of hands at the birth, wherever and however it may be.

Another thing I keep asking is whether I'm actually ready for another baby??? Physically, yes! Emotionally...are we ever ready? Can we be when we don't know exactly what is to come? I'm sure I didn't know if I was ready with Erin, yet I managed and enjoyed the magic of falling in love with her and watching her grow. It's a constant learning curve and such a blessing to be a mother. How will I cope with looking after a toddler and a newborn?? The answer:...my wonderful hubby. He is SUCH an amazing daddy and is very capable and, lucky for me, at home a lot. Since we live in a little community on the farm, we're pretty much like extended family and I will have plenty of eager hands to help me should I need it when he is at work. What a life we have here too...growing our own veg and doing odd jobs around the farm in such a beautiful place. It is wonderful to see Erin so free and happy!

I have tried plenty of walks, plenty of sex, plenty of just about every trick in the book (except curry or castor oil - the runs in the birthing pool would not be great!). Clary sage gives me some good contractions. Reflexology (done at home by Steven from looking at a reflexology map) feels great and makes baby wriggle. Homeopathy has not done much yet. And I still haven't got my hands on the herbs. Yoga and bumpy roads I'm sure have helped get baby right down there. Another big walk this evening and then possibly a repeat of all of the above. I believe Acupuncture works very well..has anyone had experience with it? I do not believe I will be seeing the midwife next Wednesday!

So this is my journey, my lesson. I need to relax and accept what is to come, but also know what my rights are when it comes to medical intervention (hence the Doula), and hopefully now that I'm not feeling so angry, fearful and emotional, my body will begin to do what it was designed to do...to give birth naturally!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Come on out, baby!

Today is baby's official due date! I was expecting her to come a little early as Erin was born on her due date, and normally the second comes sooner, but apparently baby Beanie has not read the books! I wouldn't say I'm fed up of being pregnant, because I'm not that huge and not terribly uncomfortable, but I would like to meet my little girl soon! I've been having mild contractions off and on over the past few days, but that must all be practice ones. At least I know something is happening, my body is doing all the right things. Slightly more twinges than normal today...we shall see, I don't want to get too excited! Babies generally come when they're ripe and ready, although sometimes they don't and need a little help!

There are a few tricks I can try to help things move on...

  1. Walking - I went for a long walk on Friday, and yesterday did plenty of walking and exercise too. This morning Erin and I took the goats out, went to check for alpaca babies in the far field, swept & vacuumed the house (well, a bit of it anyway), and watered the poly-tunnels. This was taken during our long walk on Friday.On a long walk!
  2. Sex - as mentioned in a previous post - this worked with Erin...my waters broke minutes after sex with her. (not worked so far this time!) Semen contains prostaglandin which causes contractions. Sex also causes the release of the "love drug" oxytocin, which causes contractions.
  3. Yoga - there are a few yoga postures that are good, specifically squatting and rotating your hips. This helps get baby's head down there, and hopefully triggers things off...I'm squatting as I type!
  4. Driving on bumpy roads - I drove the tractor over bumpy lanes and fields yesterday to go collect some wood. Perhaps I should do that again this afternoon.
  5. Spicy food - or anything that gets your bowel moving, it'll often get contractions going apparently. I'm not sure I want to try that one as I'm going to hopefully be giving birth in a pool, and am not sure I want to risk it...if you get my drift?! Castor oil is another one that is meant to be successful but can make you feel nauseas for your entire labour...no thanks...unless I'm desperate.
  6. Herbs - black or blue Cohosh. I have neither, but may try to get my hands on some if I start going way overdue. I've heard of things happening REALLY fast with these, but you have to be careful and should only use them under the direction of a herbalist, as they are powerful plants.
  7. Homeopathy - Caullophyllum: I've heard of women delivering REALLY fast after taking this and then it doing nothing for others. I have it in my Homeopathic birthing kit...I shall save it for when I'm desperate! You should really consult a Homeopath before using this...
  8. Reflexology - The reflexology points on your feet which relate to your uterus and ovaries are said to help trigger labour. This is best done by a Reflexologist, but you only need to do a google search to find out where these points are. So it's worth demanding a thorough foot rub from your other half if you go overdue, focusing on those points....
  9. Essential oils - Clary Sage! You can mix a few drops with a carrier oil (olive oil from the kitchen will do) and rub it on your belly, or burn it in an oil burner, or alternatively put it on a tissue on a radiator. Why not get your other half to massage you all over with it if you're way overdue. I only have to sniff it to get a contraction. I did add a couple of drops to my stretch mark oil this morning and rubbed it all over my belly. I am probably being a bit too impatient.
  10. Relaxation, Hypnosis or guided imagery - these help many woman...I have yet to trial them myself, although I do relaxation and visualizations a bit when I do yoga. I also have been talking to baby Beanie and hoping that she feels safe enough to come into this big, wide and completely different world.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Hooray! Head is engaged!

Just got back from seeing the midwife and baby's head is engaged! While this doesn't mean a lot in a second pregnancy, because the muscles are a lot looser and baby's head can engage and disengage easily, she said it seemed to be in quite firmly...and it does feel like it! I get to meet Beanie soon, I get to meet Beanie soon!!! How exciting?! Steven guessed on the weekend that it would happen today, I'm thinking it will happen at least in the next few days. Tonight when Erin's tucked into bed would be good! I shall keep the updates coming.

My midwife did suggest SEX...much to Stevens delight, as there is a chemical in semen called prostaglandin which can actually cause contractions as well. The oxytocin your body releases during sex also can induce labour. Guess what I'm doing tonight? :-)

I've been doing lots of squatting too which helps baby's head to move down, so it seems that's been paying off. I'm taking Arnica now, doing perineum massage and have the faintest linear nigra now, but still no stretch marks...so feel ready to meet the little lady. Have been doing some serious nesting too...loads of cleaning and tidying, and am feeling nice and chilled and ready! Come on Bean!

Otherwise everything is normal and healthy. Blood pressure on the low side, which is normal for me and much healthier than on the high side. My hematocrit levels are also on the low side (10.8 gm/dl), but I'm not anemic. My lovely midwife said there's nothing to worry about though, but that I should keep taking floradix (which I wasn't taking at the time of the blood test). I think I may break my 5+ months of veganism and have an organic, local steak, because I have been craving one. Just this once! Call me a hypocrite. Steven and I are going out for dinner on our own tonight for the first time in possibly a year and probably last time in a good while!

Check out the Nature's Mother Forum...there's a midwife, breastfeeding adviser, herbalist, homeopath, real nappy expert and much more waiting to answer your questions...and it's all free!

Monday, June 07, 2010

6 more sleeps until Beanies due date...

Well, it could be any day now! With new babies due date looming and nesting having kicked in fully, I am well prepared (and hoping) to go into labour soon! There's no real signs of it yet, except babies head feels low and I have the odd Braxton Hicks contractions. I see the midwife on Wednesday so shall see what she says.

I'm faithfully drinking my 4 cups of raspberry leaf tea every day, the occasional cup of chamomile for heartburn and to help me to chill out (although I'm feeling pretty chilled), nettle tea for the extra calcium, potassium and iron. I've also started taking Arnica to help with bruising, aches, pains, exhaustion. I plan to carry on taking it until my "bits" are back to normal after the birth. I've also started using my wonderful perineum massage oil, to hopefully avoid tears! It's sweet almond oil mixed with rose petal oil, gentle and wonderful for the skin! Still no stretch marks...I do believe I owe my thanks to both genes and my mum-to-be stretch mark oil.

Here's a bump photo just taken...it's a pretty big bump now. I'm going to miss it, but I'm longing to meet my new little lady now. I wonder if she'll also be the splitting image of her daddy?!

I am feeling ever so slightly panicky that I may go overdue. I didn't with Erin, and I know I still would have 14 days before I may be encouraged to be induced, but still....it's a slight concern. Apparently, your second child comes around the same time or before your first, so I'm believing that and hoping/expecting it to happen this week still! Birth pool is in it's box, having being trialled. It will only take about 10 minutes to blow up (if the pump doesn't pack up!). Wood is stocked up for the rayburn to heat the water. Steven is off work. It's raining (not sure if that's a good thing or bad, but good weather for a cosy fire and good weather to lie in bed and marvel at a newborn!) COME ON BABY BEANIE!

Steven and I have still not agreed on a name...we like several, but no decision has been made. I guess we shall see which one suits her most. Perhaps trial a few...one name a day for a few days...hahaha! If 'she' turns out to be a boy, we're sorted...we have a boys name!

I've been doing yoga again for the last week or so (after not doing it for a month or more!), and am feeling really good. All signs of the sciatica I had a few weeks ago has disappeared...I do believe this is due to stretching my hamstrings a little. Just slowing down and thinking about my breathing has helped me to feel more confident too.

Steven and I have been going through the Active Birth book by Janet Balaskas again. It's such a great book and has, once again, left us feeling so positive. I'm looking forward to letting movement and gravity help me, and I really do trust that my body knows how to birth naturally, and I'm so looking forward to doing it again!

Monday, May 31, 2010

13 days to go...

Feeling really tired today. I tossed and turned with an achey back in the night, and was worrying about our cat who we hadn't seen for over a day (she's back this morning!). The sun has come out though and I am determined to go get some...it always helps to recharge my batteries. Just had a little snooze with Erin too. I think I'll have another swig of go-go juice too, as possibly I just have low iron today, as tends to happen in pregnancy when your body is producing much more blood.

The good news is...Erin slept through last night for a change! She woke up at about 6.30 very proudly announcing "all night Peppa Pig bed!" Very sweet! She's been a little unsettled lately, I think it's the sense that things are about to change. I feel bad that I won't be able to give her the attention that she gets now, but it will be lovely for her to have a sister in the long run.

Our blessing way yesterday went really well. A blessing way is an alternative to a baby shower, perhaps boring to some, but no silly games or horror stories and more focusing on positivity for the birth and preparing for being parents to a second little one. Normally it is a woman only thing (Mother Blessing), but I feel that the father's journey is as important and also needs to be acknowledged and celebrated, therefore ours was a Mother & Father Blessingway. After all, Steven will be my birthing partner and he is the most fantastic dad and husband.

More people turned up than expected (some had not responded to my invite and brought their children along too), but it was really lovely, if not a little too chaotic for a while. We had snacks, wine and juice out on the table for people to help themselves, and got down to the business of painting my belly mould. Erin even added her touch on my right boob. Here's the almost-finished product...still to be varnished, trimmed and ribbon threaded through the top so I can hang it. Isn't it wonderful?? Very farmy and appropriate to the time of year too, I think. Steven did the yin-yang, which represents masculine and feminine, dark and light, pisces (the fish - steven's star sign) and gemini - the twins(baby's star sign...unless she's way overdue, which she won't be!). The writing on the yin yang was me...it says "we can't wait to meet you, to hold you, to love you and keep you in our hearts forever. May your journey be gentle" I also did a chinese symbol for tiger, as it is the year of the golden tiger. We have a lotus at my heart, a dragonfly which we've recently spotted at the pond, lots of beautiful buds and flowers, sunshine, the symbol of creativity and the tree of life.

We also did hand-binding ritual with some hemp string. We sat in a circle and passed the ball of string around, wrapping it around our left hands. Once it had gone all the way around the circle (uniting us, and giving us a moment for thoughts for the birth and new baby) we passed scissors around and cut between each person, which we then tied into bracelets. We will keep these on until the baby is born.

Steven and I also gave out candles to be lit when I go into labour and blown out once the baby has been born.

This morning we also did a trial run of setting up the birthing pool...it was all very quick and easy. It's just the filling it that may prove a bit of a task. You attach a hose to the tap of course, but we will need to keep the Rayburn stoked to keep the water hot. Let's hope my labour is this relaxing! The top ring is not fully inflated as it needs to be filled with water first. It'll make a great swimming pool for Erin afterwards too! Birth pool in a box

I've had one cup of raspberry leaf tea in today...and need to have 3 more! I love the stuff, even if I do have to put honey in to disguise the herbiness a bit. I think it's doing it's job as I quite often get braxton hicks contractions, all good. Tone those uterine muscles baby!

Which reminds me...perineum massage is next on my to do list!! I certainly want to avoid tearing if I can!

I've also set Steven the task of brushing up on his massage and breathing skills to help me in labour, so tonight we'll be studying the Active Birth book again together!

Thank goodness for my natural pregnancy kit! What would I do without it?!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Why would I go for a natural birth?

With being 6 weeks away from giving birth to my second child, childbirth is definitely on my mind. I am constantly reminded that I have a little person growing inside me, by the bumping and thumping and somersaulting going on, and the little hands and feet, elbows and knees and bum, often protruding from my ever-growing belly.

Erin has developed a fascination with baby beanie now that she can actually see there is something moving in there. I wonder what she thinks really? It is rather alien even to me, second time around, and sometimes quite incomprehensible that there can be a real little person in there - someone who is half me and half Steven, but a complete individual at the same time. Pregnancy is such an amazing time. I do love it. I can feel my attention turning inward more and more everyday as the special day looms closer, and I can feel a connection with this little being who is alive and kicking, and cannot wait to meet her!

My "plan" for this birth, (although I know plans do not always work out, I have no reason to believe that this won't), is to give birth in a birthing pool at our new home that our wonderful friends Andrew & Julie will be sharing with us as from next week, on the same farm where Erin was conceived. In a beautiful little private section of the lounge, where there are Buddhist shrines, a fireplace and a wonderful feeling of peace and tranquility.

The birthing pool is inflatable, big enough for Steven to get in with me (very important!) and looks like this. It has a little step to sit on, and handles to pull yourself forward during contractions, etc. Advantages of water in labour are many...interesting video here .

So, given all this, it goes without saying that I want a drug free birth and I want to be as active as possible during my birth, as I want gravity and nature to assist in the delivery of our new baby girl as much as possible. I enjoyed being in the water so much when in labour with Erin, and can't imagine going without it. It was warm, comforting and felt safe. So hold thumbs for us...

To answer a question many ask me: Why would I choose to have a natural birth if I could have drugs or a caesarean section and not feel a thing?
I cannot always find the right words to explain it, without making other people feel like I'm criticizing their choices (or often their doctors choices - whether legitimate or not, is another question altogether...), but my reasons are many and go something like this:

  • Pregnancy and Childbirth are not illnesses, they are completely natural and (in the majority of cases) if not tampered with and if we can let go of the horror stories we hear which just feed the fear, which causes negative thoughts and stress during birth, which I believe in many cases is what causes things to go wrong in the first place, I believe that the majority of us can and should give birth naturally. (I say this because everyone I know who has been completely relaxed about giving birth, fully trusting their bodies and believing in birth being a perfectly natural process has given birth naturally, without intervention.) The infant and mother mortality rate is lower in natural home births, than in births that have been messed with.
  • Childbirth is a rite of passage. It is an event that marks your progress into motherhood. It is instinctive. It is beautiful. It is empowering. It is an other-wordly experience. It is transformative. I feel sad for those who have been convinced that birth is a medical procedure, as I really feel that they have missed out on something incredibly special and important in their life as a woman. There is a saying that goes: "Epidurals rip women off of an opportunity to experience themselves as competent adults" ~Margaret Egeland
  • Epidurals, C-sections, Pain drugs all affect you and your brand new unborn baby. I just would not choose to drug my unborn child. (Obviously there are rare occasions where it is unavoidable) We go through pregnancy avoiding certain foods and alcohol and then at the most crucial moment for them (and us), we drug them(and ourselves). This goes against nature and is surely not kind. Women who have these interventions are more likely to struggle to establish breastfeeding, are more prone to post natal depression and often have trouble bonding with their babies. Not surprising when at the most important time, the minutes after birth, both are drugged, and the oxytocin (the incredible love & bonding hormone) is not released. These drugs stay in babies system for up to 5 days. I've seen video footage of the difference between a natural birth and one where drugs were involved, where the babies are placed on mum's tummy. The drugged ones just lie there, the undrugged ones crawl up and find the breast within minutes. As nature intended. In how many other ways do these drugs affect our newborns who cannot tell us how they're feeling? What are the long term affects of these drugs? Could they be related to the rise in Autism and other problems? Does this not make this important part of our journey into motherhood more difficult than it already is? A C-section is major surgery...here in the UK you cannot drive for 6 weeks. Do you really want to be recovering from major surgery while trying to bond with your new baby? We need to fight for our right to give birth naturally...very occasionally it is necessary to intervene, but not nearly as much as it happens... (it is interesting to note that if monkeys are given a c-section, they reject their babies...no oxytocin means bonding is much harder...)
  • I want to feel everything. I do not want to be numb. I want to be there, present, in the moment. I want to feel the floods of oxytocin, of ecstasy and of pain.
  • When I think of what baby is going through...from a safe, warm sack of water where she's been curled up for 9 months, hearing my heart beating, being nourished by my body, hearing muffled sounds to a cold and airy,(and sadly- often clinical) spacious world with gravity, loud noises, bright lights, to breathing on her own, eating on her own...I want to travel with her. I also want to feel something. I want to feel everything. I want to laugh and cry. I want her to be caught by me or passed straight onto my body for skin to skin contact with her new, soft, warm, slippery body. I want to be there for her 100%, help to reduce the shock of her transition to being a little earthling. I do not want her to be swept off and weighed, fingers and toes counted. I do not feel this is necessary, certainly not immediately. I want the best for her, naturally, I'm her mother.
By the sounds of it the birthing situation in South Africa is similar to that in America...over medicalised and a money making racket (In the US a hospital birth costs an average of $13000 and a homebirth with midwife costs $4000 and is safer!). Doctors make us believe that we cannot birth naturally, that we should not trust our own bodies and that we should trust them only (possibly not intentionally). They install a kind of fear that if we don't listen to them we will have problems. I would love all my friends (South African and American especially) to watch Ricki Lake's film called "The Business of Being Born". Trailer here http://www.thebusinessofbeingborn.com/trailer.php

It is indeed safer (statistically) to have a normal vaginal birth. The safest place for this is at your home or birthing unit with a midwife, because then you are not being pressured into having Pitocin (to hurry things up) and then an Epidural (because now the contractions are too strong too suddenly) and then more Pitocin (because the Epidural weakens the contractions) and then you can't feel the contractions but the baby can and goes into distress and you end up having an emergency c-section.... This all puts so much stress on your body and your brand new baby. Do your research before having a baby and know what you want.

Of course there is a time and place for c-section and other drugs, and thank God for them because they have saved lives. But the extent to which they are used nowadays is completely unnecessary and often just for the convenience of the doctor (which is why most c-sections are at 4pm or 10pm - before supper and before bed time), and often cause way more complications for mom and baby afterwards.

I believe being active in your labour plays a huge part in a succesful birth too. When you are lying on your back, you cannot use your tummy muscles properly, your pubic area is possibly at it's smallest and you are not working with gravity. When squatting or kneeling or standing, you are working with gravity. Baby's head is going in the right direction. You automatically move your hips, helping baby to do the twists and turns it needs to do in order to come out between your pelvic bones. As nature intended.

Squatting or kneeling are also the best positions to reduce the risk of tearing or episiotomy's. Think about it, squat and have a feel...everything is open wide...so different to when you are stranded on your back like a helpless turtle, with doctors holding your legs up and shouting orders at you.

The long and short of it all is that our bodies instinctively KNOW how to birth. All we have to do is listen. And enjoy the awesomeness of pushing out your own child and knowing that this is the kindest thing you can do for both of you.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Racism in South Africa

So, I'm no politician. Nor am I highly educated. I'm not living in South Africa, although I have been there recently. I guess in a way I have no right to have an opinion, but I do. I am concerned for my people, my friends.

I feel really sad to see the things that have been happening in the last week:

*The murder of Eugene Terre'Blanche (although I in no way would ever support his racist views and actions...Terre'Blanche spent three years in prison for assaulting a black petrol station worker and the attempted murder of a black security guard in 1996). Terre'Blanche's home was called "humble", but compared to the way his black workers live & many many black South African's live, it is luxurious.

*the mental singing of "Kill the Boer" by the ANC's Youth Leader, Julius Malema. He continues to sing it.

*The reaction to Terre'Blanche's death outside the court...some black people supporting the killing, and white people singing "Die Stem" the old national anthem from the Apartheid era. Then white people getting so up in arms and throwing things at and trying to attack the black people for singing the current South African national anthem "nkosi sikelel' iafrika" http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/8605175.stm

* the amazing reaction of the far right, racist AWB's Secretary General Andre Visagie on a live TV debate...to me just showing his lack of respect and tolerance and pure blindness. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/8610222.stm

Facts (in my eyes):
*Black people were the first on South African soil...therefore they have a certain right to feel like land was taken from them and it is our duty to try and make it fair.
* Black people were unfairly suppressed by apartheid for 46 years! This resulted in lack of education and the squatter camps, etc that we see today.
* South Africa has a history of white people killing black people, such as "the battle of the blood river" where around 3000 Zulu's were killed

Yet we still somehow feel we have a right to dominate black people...I think ignorantly and unknowingly. They are still our "maids" and "gardeners" under the belief that we are providing them with work. They wouldn't be able to do any other work, right? As they are not educated.

But somehow we don't see that as our problem.

But look at apartheid?? Maybe it is our problem?? We may not have been responsible for apartheid and we may have been really young when it ended, but our parents and grandparents were in some way, even if they just went along with it. Surely we need to take responsibility for that? Maybe if Black people had had the same chances and opportunities as us they'd be earning as much as us and living in decent conditions instead of living in squatter camps and travelling for hours to get to work at our houses, to practically bring our children up and clean our houses, only to get paid a tiny fraction of what we do.

Yet we feel it is our right to call Affirmative Action unfair. Why should black people get priority for jobs??? Perhaps because they had no opportunities for these jobs for 46 years.

We feel that having black people in our schools has lowered our children's level of education. But we don't see this as inevitable....a result of years of not allowing black people access to decent education. We don't see this as our problem?

We live in beautiful houses in lovely areas whilst the majority of black people live in squalor, often without electricity and clean running water, sharing their tiny, cold shack with their extended family all crammed into one room. We then wonder why we are targets of burglaries. Of course it's all black people who are committing these crimes. Who can blame them? (not that I'm condoning it, but if roles were reversed perhaps you'd feel similarly?)

I think it is unfair to blame all the violence on the black people. In the past, our white policemen let their dogs savage black people, simply for being black. A lot of South African's sleep with a gun or knife under their pillow and would kill a burglar in defence, but some would kill a burglar simply because he was on their property and call it defence. And maybe it makes sense, because there's the fear that if you don't kill first you will be killed, but I think some people just have this built-in racism and anger that makes them mad and feel they have a right to kill.

But it's all crazy and sad and I wish everyone could just take a step back and put things into perspective.

And I'm probably just as responsible because even though I'm not living in South Africa, I may be doing some things exactly the same if I was. I'd like to hear your thoughts!

Steven was in SA for the first time a few weeks ago and he felt he couldn't live there because it was still the majority of black people living in squalor and without cars, while the white people drove around and lived in nice houses and still made racist remarks about black people without even realising it. It is black people begging at traffic lights, not white. Things have changed since apartheid, but not as much as they could have. It is really sad.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Bee in my bonnet

I was given medication for a common girly problem (thrush) by a GP over a month ago. When I got home I read the paper that comes with it and it says not to take while pregnant or breastfeeding. Now I'm clearly pregnant, and the doctor didn't ask if I was breastfeeding!! I guess she presumed because Erin was a toddler and I was pregnant I wouldn't be breastfeeding. Why did she not suggest taken Acidophillus, or another harmless, natural probiotic? Why did she not advise me to cut down on sugar and other things that make thrush worse? Why so quick to hand out the drugs? Grrrr. Needless to say I didn't use the drugs and bought acidophillis instead, and am all better. Everytime I go to a doctor I vow not to go again unless I'm on my deathbed. I scared myself about thrush during pregnancy by too much research on the internet but ironically still followed my intuition/common sense at the end of the day.

My other rant: why does the media (film makers, etc) portray birth as a woman lying on her back, screaming, with her legs in stirrups and male doctors & nurses peering at her privates, horrible looking equipment and blood everywhere? I'm sure that this is a great contributor to there being so many interventions and horrible things happening during childbirth...it has helped birth become purely medical, scary and horrid and not at all special and just completely lose it's magic. The media has helped us to lose faith in our ability to birth naturally and beautifully, privately, safely and with dignity. Damn them!!!

Read my birth story or watch the videos below to see what I think birth is really about! Natural birth is so empowering, so incredible...I want every woman to experience it! We forget what our baby goes through coming into this world, why would we not want to experience this with him/her? Why would we want to drug him/her by drugging ourselves, only to wonder why breastfeeding is so difficult or why things don't feel right? Why would we want to increase our chances of postnatal depression? Why do we want to hinder the bonding process unnecessarily?I respect that some woman don't want to feel anything...but I do. I want be there 100% for the birth of my child! I want to feel the pain, I want to feel the ecstasy, I want my babe to be caught by me or my hubby and put straight into my arms...no need to count fingers and toes straight away, right? It's not like counting them right away is going to make any difference...
I know there are occasions when interventions save lives and are necessary, but these are rare. Let's De-medicalise and reclaim birth!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Photo's of South Africa

South Africa part 1

I think the photos say it all...we had a wonderful time! Friends, sunshine, mountains, happy times...what more could a girl want?! Jus & Jo's wedding was out of this world!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Pregnancy tips...

Did you know?

* Perineum Massage helps to soften the skin and improve elasticity to help prevent tears and stitches during childbirth. Stimulates blood supply and helps speed healing process after birth. Nature's Mother sells a blend of Olive Oil and Rose Petal Extract to use in the last month of pregnancy. Apply a few drops of this oil daily and massage into the perineum.

* Raspberry Leaf tea is traditionally used to prepare uterine muscles for labour, but is also beneficial for morning sickness, to sooth and prevent bleeding gums, relax muscles in uterus while it is contracting, assist the birth of baby and placenta and calm the cramping of the uterus. Raspberry Leaf is also a rich source of iron, calcium, manganese and magnesium and contains Vitamins B1, B3 & E

* Arnica Homeopathic remedy is used for physical exhaustion, over exertion, shock, reducing bruising, sprains, insomnia due to overtiredness, aches, pains & bleeding.

* Chamomile is an excellent herb for treating various digestive disorders, is known to effectively combat stress and depression, can be used to defeat insomnia by acting like mild sedative. Relaxes muscles which can relieve cramps. Helps to heal skin irritations and can help in the fight against acne.

* Ginger regulates a whole range of body processes and thereby prevents disease. It is an excellent treatment for all kinds of nausea, including morning sickness, and is a really effective in treating all kinds of digestive problems and stimulating the circulatory system. Studies show it is as effective as leading anti-nausea medicines and is completely harmless.

* Nettle leaves are very beneficial both medically and nutritionally. They are very rich in minerals, especially calcium, potassium and iron. They aid digestion, kidney function and blood circulation and have been used to stimulate the secretion of mother’s milk, to treat bites and stings and to treat lung disorders . Native Americans used this tea to aid pregnancy, childbirth and nursing.

* Buying Herbal tea's in loose leaf form ensures that you are getting a pure product and the recommended quantity. Nature's Mothers teas are certified Organic.

* During pregnancy the body starts to produce more red blood cells and plasma in order to have enough for the foetus. A woman’s iron reserves will become strained and so it is important to provide the body with extra iron to meet this extra demand. Iron is also required to produce the mother’s milk which covers the baby’s demand for iron Babies absorb approximately 50% of the contained iron. Floradix contains iron in an easily absorbable form as well as vitamin C to enhance the iron absorption. It also contains Herbal extracts to maintain healthy digestion and B-vitamins for blood formation and energy release. It is free from chemical preservatives, colourings and flavourings. Floradix is suitable for vegetarians.

* Mum 2 Be stretch mark oil: Sweet Almond, Jojoba and Borage Oils blended Lavender and Sweet Orange Essentials oils has been developed to help prevent and reduce stretch marks and maintain healthy skin, whilst relaxing you and making you feel pampered.

* Active Birth can help prevent birth complications & interventions. Nature's Mother sells the New Active Birth book by Janet Balaskas


* The Nature's Mother forum discusses pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and parenting.

* The Nature's Mother Forum has a resident Midwife, Doula, Breastfeeding Peer Supporter, Homeopath, and other alternative therapists to answer your questions! Join for free today at www.naturesmother.co.uk (go to "join forum")

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Delicious vegan chocolate cake...

This cake is so easy to make, so hard to flop and so, so yummy!!!

Oven on 180 C

1 and a half cups plain flour
1 cup of soft brown sugar
1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
Half a cup of cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla essence
Half a cup veg oil
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup of cold water

Combine flour, sugar, bicarb & cocoa in a bowl & stir until mixed. Make a well in the centre and add vanilla essence, oil, vinegar and water. Stir with fork until well mixed. Put in slightly greased single sandwich tin and bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Spring, breastfeeding, co-sleeping & potty training

There's nothing quite like waking up to the sight of the sun peeping through the curtains, the sound of birds, sheep and cows, snuggling in for a few minutes with my wonderful husband and amazing little girl, and then getting up for a lovely morning yoga stretch -with the help of my little girl, who clambers all over me- she helps me to remain playful, not to be so serious, so ambitious, but just to enjoy every moment, every movement and feel the fresh air I'm breathing in, being absorbed into every cell of my being. A kiss and cuddle when I'm upside down, breaks us both down into fits of giggles and fills me with this feeling of warmth and love, which I can compare to no other.

Spring has sprung....the daffodils, crocuses & snow drops are out. The sun is slowly warming up, rising earlier, setting later. Life is sweet and I feel so incredibly blessed to have all that I have.

I'm feeling more relaxed and happier about things I sometimes feel stressed about. I wanted to get Erin potty trained before baby arrives and preferably before South Africa. But she's not ready, and that doesn't matter now. It's really no hassle to change her nappies, so what was I getting so stressed about? She'll do it when she's ready.

I was also feeling stressed about getting her out of our bed at night. She goes to sleep in her cot but comes into our bed when she wakes in the night. I fought it for ages, because I believed it necessary for her to sleep on her own, but recently having given it some thought I realised how hard (and unnatural) it is for a kid to be shoved in a cold, empty cage away from the beating hearts of those who love and care for her. Besides I love her in the bed. She's warm and cuddly and I know she's safe and hasn't stopped breathing. We get to go to bed on our own, just Steven and I, but wake up with her. It's perfect. It also saves trying to settle her on her own in her room at night, or leave her to cry - which is so absolutely against the natural instinct of a mother (I don't care what Gina Ford says! She doesn't have any children of her own!) She's not going to want to be in our bed forever....I plan on treasuring every moment. I think we are the only mammals that don't sleep with our young, it does seem incredibly harsh and unnatural....and it's always a mission, so why do it? And contrary to belief it is not dangerous to co-sleep and in fact reduces risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome with tiny babies (as long as parents aren't drunk or high on drugs)

As Helen Shanahan(our lovely Cornish NCT Breastfeeding Counsellor) says in her article about co-sleeping:

You don’t find cats, dogs, monkeys etc putting their young to sleep in a separate place - they sleep beside their mum, where it is warm, where the milk is, where the mum can attend to the infant quickly if it stirs or is hungry or cold.

In our 21st century life, there is a great emphasis on getting the baby to be independent, to sleep on its own, and to sleep through the night as soon as possible, and many parenting books, websites and chat rooms devote reams of space to this subject. A human baby is very immature at birth, and is seeking warmth, food and contact/reassurance as much as possible day and night in the early weeks and months. If these needs are satisfied, he or she can grow both physically and in emotional and psychological security, and become more independent later.

Bedsharing may be one of the ways in which the baby can have these needs satisfied at night, with as much rest as possible for mum too. Bedsharing enables mum to tune into the baby’s feeding cues quickly, so that the baby doesn’t have to resort to crying and getting upset to get attention. A breastfeeding mum can feed in comfort, especially if she learns to feed lying down. Sleep hormones are released during breastfeeding, which means both mum and baby fall back to sleep quickly. Also, bedsharing mums are more likely to breastfeed for longer – or perhaps we could say mums who breastfeed for more than the early weeks/months are more likely to bedshare? Either way, breastfeeding itself has many health benefits for mum and baby, not least reducing the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), so anything which supports breastfeeding is a positive thing.

I was also in a rush to stop breastfeeding Erin...almost being manipulated by societys common (and when I think about it, rather strange) belief that when a child is walking and talking you should take them off breastmilk and instead put them on milk designed for a calf (who gains around 1.5 to 2 lbs per day), or else on milk made in a factory. Why do we have this very peculiar notion? Do any other mammals do this??

I wondered how I would breastfeed through pregnancy. So far I have not had any problem (and I'm 27 weeks pregnant). I worried about how I would breastfeed two children. Mammals do it and so do many other moms out there, and thanks to local groups like Wishing Well I do not feel so alone and weird anymore. Just google "tandem breastfeeding".

Bottom line...know that I have managed to let go of preconceptions - It feels right. Erin and I enjoy the closeness of breastfeeding, plus Erin is reaping massive benefits nutritionally. As a result she has a reduced chance of getting Leukemia, and I have reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer. I feel angered when breastfeeding is thought of as obscene in some way...it is the most natural thing in the world, and because breasts have been sexualised, it's somehow thought of as the most unnatural thing in the world. Isn't the human race quite strange, if you think about it?

Anyway, what matters is that I feel at ease about still breastfeeding. I don't worry as much about what others think. I feel I am doing what is right for Erin and I.

Spring has somehow made me feel more relaxed about life, about letting things flow as nature intended rather than fighting and struggling to conform or do what would please others the most, even if it's against gut instinct. I am happy and life is fantastic!

We spent a lovely week on our friends farm, farmsitting. We fed alpacas, horses, sheep, chickens, goats, dogs, cats, fish, llamas, ponies, hens, wild birds and a mule. We milked goats, collected eggs, planted seeds, watered plants, lit fires and more. This is the farm where we used to live, where Erin was conceived. This is where our very dear farm family live. This is another reason (possibly the main one) for me feeling so blessed. Knowing I am loved and cared for, and that I love and care equally. Feeling my hands in the earth, the sun on my back, watching flowers blossom, birds tweet. There's nothing quite like it. Aah spring. The new life, new beginnings.

Happy Spring Everybody!