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Written by Mama Monday

Blog posts written by mamas on cloth diapering, green living, natural parenting.

I make no secret of the fact that I’ve had three c-sections and zero vaginal births. Sure, I made a valiant effort to push my first daughter out “the old fashioned-way,” as I jokingly call vaginal deliveries, but the fact is, were it not for modern medicine, both Lauren and I would have died in childbirth. Had we lived in the 1800s or early 1900s, maybe one of us would have survived at the expense of the other. This is why I offer you some retorts to anyone who talks about childbirth, labor, epidurals, cesarean sections or even breastfeeding in anything less than a respectful and tolerant tone.

“Women have been giving birth for thousands of years without pain meds or epidurals.”

This is true. You can’t deny it. And yet, those cave women also didn’t have a choice. You can’t speak for the cave woman who after three hours of agonizing back labor, probably would have jumped at the chance for an epidural. Not having the option of an epidural is not the same as choosing not to have an epidural. Just because women have been giving birth naturally for centuries (because they had no other choice) doesn’t mean they would do the same thing today.

“Too many women are having labor induced so their doctors can make their tee times.”

This also may be true. It depends on if your OB plays golf. If it’s something you are worried about, be sure to ask your doctor, “Do you play golf? Because I don’t want to be induced just so you can make your tee time.” Or, you could also say “No thank you, I’d rather not be induced and I’d rather let nature take it’s course.” But back to our friend the Cave Woman. We can’t be sure she didn’t use her own primitive methods to stimulate labor. Just because she didn’t have modern medicine at her fingertips, doesn’t mean she wasn’t just as anxious, uncomfortable and sick of waddling around like the rest of get when we know we are about to “pop.” We do know that women have been trying various methods of stimulating labor since, well, forever–like eating spicy foods or engaging in certain rigorous activities–all in the hopes of trying to get the inevitable started sooner rather than later.

“Breastfeeding is the way nature intended women to feed their babies.”

Well, you certainly can’t argue with that. But, if you have any tact, you should refrain from saying it to a bottle-feeding mother. I actually did end up nursing all three of my children but because of my extremely stressful three-plus hour attempt at pushing out Lauren, followed by an emergency c-section, my body was so “out of wack” that my milk didn’t come in for almost a full week. We supplemented Lauren with formula but I continued to try to try to nurse her. She lost a lot of weight in that first week and I was on the verge of giving up. Hours after I left the pediatrician’s office in tears, my milk finally came in. Breastfeeding is the way nature intended us to feed our babies, that is, those mothers and babies who weren’t killed off during the birthing process. Nature is efficient but that efficiency is brutal. There was nothing about the process that was “natural,” especially since we both lived! Judging mothers who are bottle feeding is the same and whether it is by necessity of choice, if both mom and baby are healthy and happy, it’s really no one else’s business.

As mothers preparing to give birth, the best we can do is to educate ourselves and to make ourselves aware of the different options that exist when things start to unfold. There are a lot of things that you simply cannot know until you are in the moment. This is true whether you are in labor with your first baby or your sixth. If you hear someone who means well, or maybe someone who has really wide birth canal and a super-high pain tolerance (not to mention a superiority complex and a competitive attitude about giving birth) remind her that there is no shame in using modern medicine during childbirth—and because of it, the mother and infant mortality rate has dropped A LOT in the last century. Besides, that cave woman might have really appreciated an epidural.

The Cave Woman and the Epidural by Elizabeth A. McKenzie

The Cave Woman and the Epidural by EAM

Yesterday, after I noticed Cooper licking a very public bench, I started to think about things like germs, viruses, bacteria, pathogens and infectious microbes. Imagine that.

Though today parents are often armed with an arsenal of hand-wipes and hand sanitizer and are strict enforcers of the hand washing rule, it’s only been since the mid-nineteenth century that we had any idea at all how illness was spread. As I did some research for this blog, I was surprised to learn that all of the advances in modern medicine in the last several decades have had less of an effect on the spread of disease than changes in human behavior.  Hand washing wasn’t even a common practice until after 1847 when Hungarian doctor Ignaz Semmelweis noticed that many more new mothers were developing life-threatening infections and high fevers just after giving birth if his students took part in delivering their babies than if a midwife helped to deliver the baby. Why was this? Many of the medical students attended the births right after performing autopsies and educational cadaver dissections.  Instead of washing their hands between the two, they’d simply wipe their hands on their clothes as they walked to the delivery room. I think every single parent today would like to thank Dr. Semmelweis for this discovery. Aaaack! (Evolution and History of Personal Hygiene by Ingrid Koo, Ph.D)


Other important discoveries were made by Dr. John Snow who discovered that drinking water sources often played a major role in the spread of illness. Drinking water that was prone to contamination from animal or human waste coming from upstream or direct contamination from sewage (that was emptied from chamber pots right into the streets) were related to deadly cholera outbreaks. Thank you, Dr. Snow.

Last, but not least, was Thomas Crapper of England, who played a major role in the development of the “flushing toilet” which took waste through a series of pipes, to a location far from the humans who had excreted the waste to begin with. Not only was the waste far enough away and contained so that it would not contaminate drinking water, it no longer needed to be disposed of by hand. Thank you, Tom Crapper!

Unfortunately, despite being aware of these invisible dangers, parents can’t always prevent their curious offspring from putting disgusting things into their mouths—like Cooper sucking on the bench, or the time I caught Lauren licking the armrest on an airplane or crawling baby Kate tasting a piece of dried up dog poop in the backyard. We also need to thank Dr. Alexander Fleming for stumbling upon the antibiotic properties of penicillin during his study of bacteria and American Dr. Jonas Salk for coming up with world’s first vaccine.

 What is the grossest object you have caught your baby mouthing?

In just three weeks Cooper turns FOUR! Because we’re in the process of selling our house and moving to the suburbs, we’ll be celebrating a week early. His two sisters, three cousins and two best buddies are the only guests at his birthday party this year. And that will feel like plenty of kids, I’m sure! We’re going with a dinosaur theme since dinos are his newest obsession and pretty easy to pull off. I’m opting out of making a dino shaped cake and doing cupcakes instead–easier to make and easier to serve! I’m planning the party for one o’clock on a Saturday so that the kids can come with lunch in their bellies and I won’t have to worry about my kids not eating “healthy food” during the party because when there are that many other kids around, my kids don’t stop moving unless it’s for sugar, flour, eggs and covered in frosting!

Being sensitive to many foods and especially foods with preservatives and artificial food coloring, means that enjoying other children’s parties, holiday themed activities at school or church, can be extra challenging for us. We end up making exceptions and letting the kids eat food they shouldn’t (since our allergies aren’t life-threatening but just cause horrid tantrums and eczema) or we end up skipping out on the activities that we can. And frankly, with all of the friends we have with dietary restrictions, it’s not worth going over the top with snacks and lunch if not everyone can eat them anyway. I’m going to keep the junk food to a minimum and focus on quality rather than quantity.

This year, I’m going to do simple cupcakes and vanilla ice cream with some home-made frosting and small plastic dinos as cupcake toppers/party favors. Instead of a goody bag for the kids to take home, I came up with a fun little fossil souvenir instead. I found some cool plastic dinosaur skulls at Michaels and some colorful containers in which to put them. They are hidden in Kinetic Sand which is one of our new favorite sensory/creative playthings. The sand isn’t cheap but it’s really neat and completely affordable thanks to my trusty 40% off coupon!

Cooper helping with party favors.

Cooper helping with party favors.

So, put on your favorite dino-tee and get ready to join Cooper for some cupcakes, ice-cream and chaos because he’s about to Roar Into Four!

Are you doing a theme for your baby or toddler’s next party? And what are you going to be serving?



Photo Credit: Getty Images

1) You get crowded out of your king-sized bed by your three-year old, your six-year old, your dog and your husband so you sneak off to the empty queen-sized bed in your daughter’s room…only to wake up an hour later being crowded out by your three-year old, your six-year old and your dog while your husband sleeps alone in the king.

2) A child walks all the way upstairs, past several trash cans, a drooling dog, a toilet and two sinks to spit out a “yucky” food into your hand.

3) You’ve ever been interrupted so many times while showering that you shaved one leg twice and never shaved the other.

4) At least 23 strangers have seen you going to the bathroom because your child(ren) insist on opening the door in a public restroom despite your pleas and threats regarding the opening of the door “before Mommy is done peeing.”

5) You’ve ever let a child burn off steam in airport by running full-speed ahead of you, perhaps even out of sight for a moment, because you truly believe no one will kidnap a child before getting on a plane…because even bad guys want to have a peaceful flight.

6) Your visiting mother tells you to put on clean yoga pants and you reply indignantly “Mom, these are clean! Those are permanent stains not dirt!”

7) You feel like you are wasting time unless you are trying to do at least five things at once because that is the only way you will be able to sit down and catch up on your favorite show, read a book, flip through a magazine, meditate, put on make up or study for an exam when the baby is napping. But once the frantic-paced activity stops you are too tired to do anything but collapse in bed, the couch, an easy chair or the floor and fall-asleep.

8) You see any species of mother and baby animals snuggling, nursing or playing and you feel a fierce, instinctual, primal connection–except you feel a little jealous of the sow who is allowed to lay in the mud on her side and nurse happy, healthy piglets without worrying about how her hair looks or whether her mother-in-law will think the pen looks unkempt.

9) You can never shake the nagging feeling that you’re forgetting to do something.

10) You always quantify your goals in terms of “enough,”  (i.e. the house looks presentable enough, the kids are healthy enough, your toddler is dressed enough, the baby has eaten enough, your clothes are clean enough). This is because you haven’t actually achieved this goal in so long your are no longer certain what it actually looks like  and so you satisfy your self-doubt with the wonderful and all encompassing term that makes us all feel better. Enough said!

How do you know when you are a mother?



Bubble, boil
Drip, Plop!
Hissing steam of fragrant broth,
Awakening a mother sloth.
Faster, faster!
Any longer is too late!
Messy hair and shuffling feet,
Hurry towards my caffeine treat.
Dark and fragrant in my cup
Fill it to the tippy top
Room for cream and sugar, sure
I think I need a little more.
Wrap my hands around my mug,
Like a warm and loving hug.
Just one sip, a blissful sigh,
From puffy eyes to opened wide.
The sleepy fog around my brain
Evaporates like desert rain.
In my head the gears start churning,
Pistons pumping, engines burning.
Another sip and just in time
Of magic potion, so divine.
I tilt my head like mother hen,
And hear a thump (or more like ten)
And down they come, all three pairs,
Of small feet upon the stairs.