I Read a Few Books Along the Way

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I remember when I graduated college, I was most excited to finally be able to read books that I was actually interested in and enjoyed. I wasn’t much of a fiction reader at the time, and I’m not embarrassed to give the Twilight series credit for enlightening me to the joy of reading fiction. However, I still love reading non-fiction, and still do it most often.

In the airport on my honeymoon, I picked up a copy of The Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollan, which quickly led me down the rabbit trail of reading and researching holistic health and nutrition. Fast track ten years later, and here I am tending to a large garden, raising chickens for eggs, making my own sourdough bread, eating fermented foods, with two young children born in my bedroom. Needless to say, I’ve read a few more books and blogs along the way!

Now having said that, just because I’ve read a few books doesn’t make me an expert in anything. At all. Honestly, if you ask me why I do a certain thing, chances are I don’t remember the details of why. I read the well-researched information, apply it to my life where and when necessary, and move onward. It simply helps govern the decisions I make for the health and well-being of my family, but reading comprehension and memorization was never my strengths in school!

Since I have been asked more than once for resources that have asssisted me along the way, I figured it is easiest to share my favorite books and blogs here for anyone interested to have. I have learned that most people are only able to learn and apply new ways of living if they are open and searching for it. So if that is you, this post may be for you! I will link to where you can find the books for sale online, and also update this post if I come across any new resources.

Fertility, Pregnancy, & Birth:

Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler

The Healthy Pregnancy Book by William Sears, MD and Martha Sears, RN

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Garten

The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Childcare by Sally Fallon Morell and Thomas S. Cowan, ND

Respectful Parenting:

Caring For Infants With Respect by Magda Gerber

Your Self-Confident Baby by Magda Gerber

No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame by Janet Lansbury and her blog was a God-send for me

Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Farber and Elaine Mazlish

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth

Health and Nutrition:

Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon

Nourished Beginnings Baby Food and Beyond by Renee Kohley and the recipes on her blog are used very frequently in our home

The Weston A. Price Foundation

Nourishing Our Children

The Vaccine Book by Robert W. Sears, MD, FAAP

Updated 1/31/18 to add (how could I forget?!): Wellness Mama

Homeschooling:

Free To Learn by Peter Gray

Teach Your Own by John Holt

Simply Charlotte Mason

Wild + Free Online Homeschool Community

 

May God bless you on your personal journey to better health and wellness!

Xx,

Anna

 

 

 

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My Birth Story Part I: My Journey to Home Birth

Month by Month Pregnancy Photo

Well, here we are, one year from the week I gave birth to my first child. This past year has been so surreal, I honestly can’t wrap my head around it. The fact that I now officially have a one-year-old blows my mind. This year went so incredible fast, I completely understand why some people choose to have several children! They are only so small and sweet for just a short time. Heck, just the newborn phase goes way too fast! When Big Guy was just a newborn someone asked my chiropractor (who has 5 children) what baby stage was his favorite, and he pointed at my baby and said something along the lines of “I’m a sucker for newborn snuggles.” And it is so true. As much as I tried, I didn’t fully understand nor appreciate how precious those first few months were until they were gone forever. Now, I officially am the mother of a toddler and it’s frightening!

So much thought, prayer, research, anticipation, and consideration went into the process of getting and being pregnant, and then preparing for the birth. Growing up, the idea of natural birth scared the shit out of me. I was that person who heard all the horror stories, and believed birth was the most painful thing that could happen to you aside from getting tortured. I also have a fear of needles, especially large ones that go straight into your back, as well as pretty much anything doctor and hospital related. Since I can remember I have always wanted to adopt, so growing up I told myself that if I could not get pregnant, than I would be fine with adoption instead. I got married and while my husband fully supported the idea of adoption, he most definitely made sure I was on board with trying to have our own biological children first. That meant I would need to figure out this whole scary birth thing. I was scared of pain, I was scared of doctors and hospitals, and I was scared of needles. A simple internet search told me there were no birth centers, so that left me with only one option in the area we were hoping to raise a family in: home birth. At the time, I didn’t know a single person who had experienced one so I had a lot of research ahead of me!

So for a couple years while still living in NYC I read tons of positive birth stories, followed natural birth and parenting groups on Facebook, watched home births on YouTube, and discovered Hypnobabies. Four and a half years after being married, we moved back to Pennsylvania. Within that first year back, I finally felt physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually ready to get pregnant. For six months leading up to Big Guy’s conception, my husband and I even made and drank a green smoothie everyday to help detox our bodies, along with eating a mostly organic diet, and I had also read it may help deter morning sickness which I was also very scared of! I also learned a new friend of mine had home-birthed her two children, and the most recent one was with the same midwife I had found online years prior. It was such a relief to finally know someone who had gone through the experience I was hoping to have. After three very long months of trying, we finally got pregnant in November of 2012. Around the same time, that same girlfriend told me she was 3 months pregnant and using the same midwife as before! I immediately called that midwife to make sure she was available, and thankfully she was. We ended up waiting 8 weeks to tell a single soul other than our priest and midwife. I was in a private and protective state then, and honestly, kind of liked having such a big exciting secret all to ourselves for so long! If we’re ever blessed with another pregnancy, I plan to tell close friends and family much sooner. If anything bad would happen, I would definitely want their support and prayers. Plus, I often hear those who miscarry feel so alone and there is no reason for that when it happens to so many families! It is far too common not to be talked about more often and openly.

Anyways, I loved being pregnant and I didn’t have morning sickness as long as I ate pretty much every hour. I still eat just as ravenously now that I’m breast feeding as I did while pregnant! The only real pains I remember having were sciatica pain the last month, and these awful, awful shooting pains starting in my pelvic area going down my legs that would occur late at night when I laid in bed the last few days before birth. I believe Big Guy was trying to get into position but he just so happened to be pushing on very, very sensitive nerves! I do recall crying to my husband that if I couldn’t handle this, how was I supposed to handle the actual birth? Spoiler alert: I handled it. I had some other typical, expected pregnancy symptoms but they really didn’t compare when I remembered I was literally carrying creation inside of me.

The only person who knew our estimated due date (EDD) of July 25th was our midwife. We told everyone else “early August”. We did so for two reasons: 1) If I was “late”, I would be more mentally prepared as I myself believed my birthing time was “early August” and 2) I wouldn’t have everyone and their mother pestering me on my EDD or later, and worse, pressuring me to do something about it as if it was not normal to go past an EDD. Medical intervention is an amazing thing for medical emergencies, but shouldn’t be so loosely thrown around and abused in what is the most normal, natural human experience: reproduction.

Meeting monthly with our midwife, whether in our home, hers, or her office, was what I believe every pregnant woman deserves. We met for at least an hour each time, talked a lot, and listened to the baby’s heartbeat. There were no scary stories. No pressure. No exams. No judgement. If I didn’t feel comfortable with something she brought up, then we didn’t do it. It was my choice. Now, I honestly miss my midwife. So much so, that I stopped procrastinating and called her to set up an appointment to have a pap smear done <gasp> since it has been a couple years. This isn’t uncommon either. Many women in the home birth world admit they miss their midwife, and are sad to not know when they will ever see her again, especially if they don’t plan on having more children or she is retiring or moving away. To build such a close and respectful relationship with the person who will share in the most intimate experience of your life should not be uncommon!

I will share the actual nitty, gritty details of Big Guy’s birth story in my next post. Just know that discovering the beauty of home birth and getting to experience it is something I will forever be grateful for. Whether you decide to birth in a hospital, birthing center, or at home, birth does not need to be scary, dangerous, or painful. It can be safe, beautiful, memorable, and even pleasurable! Stay tuned for the Big Day…