mommyonthegreen

Converting back to a green life, one week (and nap time) at a time


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The End is Not the End

April 2016

I know I said I wouldn’t do this, but here is one more blog post.

I was sitting here wasting time on Facebook (it’s amazing how much time I can lose just clicking on the garbage that comes up on my newsfeed) when I could be doing something more productive. Like writing. Or like not using electricity at all. Like reading.

While I’ve been on mat leave I’ve been reading a lot. I recently read the Mitch Albom book “The First Phone call from Heaven”. In the story, one of the characters mentions the phrase “The End is not the End” in reference to heaven, and is also apparently a House of Heros song.

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I’ve also been trying to wean LM. I’ve decided I’m just done. He’s almost 9 months. It’s ok. I did my best. He’s going to be ok either way. Just when I think we’re done, we’re not. He asks for me (he does a little bobbing bird on my chest when he wants the boob. It’s kind of sweet.🙂  When he’s really hungry he doesn’t care where the food comes from as long as it comes fast!). And I can’t believe I only have three months of mat leave left  :-(

It’s time I put this blog to bed and move on. The amount of electricity I’ve used researching and writing this blog is not lost on me. My family needs me. I need me. And as much as I love blogging, it’s taking up more time than I can put into it to make it the way I want it. I’m too hard on myself for not posting or tweeting regularly, or making timely posts related to current events. I often feel rushed when doing a post and I make mistakes.

My plan was to go back to each post, add tags, edit grammar and spelling, add links for interesting things I’ve found out since I wrote the original post, update my progress, etc.  But lets be realistic – as they say “ain’t no one got time for that”!

And I’ve realized, just like I’m not perfect, just like we don’t parent perfectly or the way we might like too, this blog isn’t going to be perfect. So what if it’s not written like a Pulitzer Prize winning novel. Just like parenthood, it’s raw and its real. So why change it now?

I started this blog for New Year’s 2014. Today, my 35th birthday, seems like a good day to finish it off.

So as a final post, here are some things I wanted to write about. I’ve been trying to clean out my e-mail accounts, where I e-mail my blog ideas to myself, and I just seem to have so many green ideas I want to write about while incorporating them into events in my life.  I didn’t want to be one of those websites that just lists a bunch of tips without actually trying them myself. But I want to share them for my readers anyway. Who knows, maybe some day I will try them. I guess I can always go back to this list. And some of them just made me laugh.

For each of you who reads this blog, try out a green challenge from the list below. In this way, the blog has no end.

Here they are, by category/topic/tag:

Waste Reduction

How did a sea turtle get a straw up its nose?

Worms could help reduce waste

101 uses for Mason Jars! (well actually just 18, but who’s counting;-) )

The Destiny of Restaurant Crayons

The Unintended Consequences of Banning Bottled Water

Waste Reduction on Campus

Upcycling

Repurposing an Old Toothbrush

 

Food Security/Waste

Tax Break for businesses that donate food

Just Eat it Restaurant Waste Video

Use it don’t lose it!

denHaan Greenhouses – local source for tomatoes and cucumbers

Fair Trade Recipes

French Law Bans Food Waste

Ugly Food!

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I was going to participate in the National Geographic Hashtag challenge, but as with a great many things I ran out of time. So here’s the photo

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#UglyFoodIsBeautiful

 

Sustainable Seafood – Loblaws

 

Infant Feeding

Breastfeeding Dairy Free

Lactose Overload

Breastfeeding & Alcohol Consumption

Formula FYI

Pump & Dump

 

Sustainable Diapering

The Diaper Divide

7th Generation Training Pants

 

Environmentally Friendly Sanitary Pads

Now that Aunt Flo is back in my life I’ve been thinking about this a little more.

The Honest Company

Goodbye Diva Cup

 

Environmentally Friendly Funerals/Burials/Estate Planning (not that I plan on trying these any time soon – for all the right reasons!)

Refound!

Burial Pods

 

Pets

Our kitty has recently had some health problems, which got me thinking about this even more

Ethically Sourced Pet Food

Crystal Cat Litter

Silica Cat Litter

Ecofriendly Cat Litter

Homemade Cat Litter

Homemade Cat food

More Homemade Cat Litter

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Natural Pest/Weed Control

Ants

 

Water Conservation/Pollution

Drugs in Drinking Water

The Surfrider Foundation

Gold in Sewage

Water used to grow favourite foods

Microbeads Banned

 

Eco-friendly Shopping

The True Cost of Clothing

Germs in Cloth Bags

The Green Mom Review

Toxic Items at Dollar Stores

Chemicals in Dollar Store Products

Dollar Store Product Contaminants

 

Parenthood

Advice to Fathers

The Most Expensive 2-hour Nap

A Day at Home with a Newborn

10 things kids should see their parents doing

Journey from Anti-Vaxx to Science

Please don’t visit my Newborn

10 ways to really help someone with a new baby

 

As I’ve said before, through this blog, I’ve learned that as with every thing in life, we have to make decisions. Just like we can’t always be that perfect parent, we can’t be the perfect environmentalist. But we try. We try and we hope it’s enough.

And then there’s this guy. Am I him? I don’t think I want to be him. If you can’t follow my blog, follow the frog.

http://www.upworthy.com/never-before-have-i-laughed-so-hard-at-one-guys-non-attempt-to-save-the-planet?g=2&c=ufb1

 

THE END


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Born Hungry: Part III

Are you still there? Thanks to my readers for sticking with me.🙂 In my first post, Born Hungry Part I, I summarized my experience breastfeeding my daughter (MD). I discussed the multiple problems we encountered, things we tried, what worked and what didn’t, and the outcome. And the guilt and frustration of it all.

In Born Hungry Part II, I summarized how with my son (LM) I unwillingly relived aspects of my first breastfeeding experience. I discussed what went wrong this time, what went right, how I made peace with it all and how things are going now.

In this final post on this topic, I’m going to dig through some family history, and make the environmental connection to breastfeeding difficulties, bringing this blog full circle, in a way.

If you read both of my previous posts on these topics, I salute you. There was a lot there. That was after I had condensed some timelines and removed some sections to improve the flow.

There was a lot I didn’t get to talk about. Like how at about three months MD and I had a breastfeeding breakthrough (she was nursing, looked up at me, unlatched and cooed and smiled at me) which is what made me want to pick it up again.

I didn’t talk about how I bought an SNS, but ultimately ended up not using it because every time I looked at it the thought of cleaning it 8 times a day made me want to throw up. (I salute any woman who has tried this contraption).

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I didn’t talk about how my iron should likely have been tested as well as my thyroid. I’ve always struggled keeping my iron up and it was probably lower than it should have been after giving birth due to the extra blood loss. Some of the symptoms I experienced (cold all the time, extreme fatigue) were certainly consistent with anemia, which could have impacted milk production.

I didn’t talk about how nursing sessions with both my children would regularly last for an hour or more. I didn’t learn until later that this can be normal See Frequent Nursing. It just felt like my milk was made of water.

I didn’t rant about jaundice, how we’re not provided with enough information about it; how our parents’ generation were taught to fear it; how PHNs tell us not to worry about it; and how if it’s only tested once in the hospital how the heck do we even know what the levels are in our baby.

I didn’t talk about how I think there should be more research done on breastfeeding science. I didn’t get a chance to review much of the primary litterature, though from what I have read it seems most studies are decades old. And my experiences breastfeeding seem to lead to more questions than answers.

And I didn’t go into much detail on how I felt we were brainwashed to breastfeed. Mind control is defined on Wikipedia as the process by which individual or collective freedom of choice and action is compromised by agents or agencies that modify or distort perception, motivation, affect, cognition and/or behavioral outcomes. In our case, persons in a position of authority continually and consistently bombarded us with information on breastfeeding, that breastfeeding was the only choice and that there were no other acceptable options, at a point in time when we were most susceptible to being coerced.

I did blast nurses and the health care system. I didn’t mean to. I know they work hard, skipping lunch and pee breaks, not to mention exposing themselves to contagious diseases when no one else will.

I just needed to vent my frustration somewhere. But getting it down on paper as it were also helped me see why, with such limited resources, they spend time helping the women who are having “minor” difficulties breastfeed better, rather than getting to the bottom of why another woman is having supply issues when it seems all avenues have been exhausted. But I still think we, as a health care system and as a society, could do better.

We could do better preparing expectant parents, giving them the information they need to make an informed decision, providing more logistical support when the baby arrives, and preparing their support systems with the most up to date information. We could do at least this much.

Breastfeeding is not only an infant health issue, a public health issue, a preventative health care issue, and a women’s rights issue. It is also a mental health issue (women who experience difficulties breastfeeding are at greater risk for postpartum depression – and it’s a bit of a chicken and egg scenario as to which is cause and which is effect), and an environmental issue.

I didn’t talk about how I spoke with female relatives about their experiences breastfeeding. (They had no supply issues; one had issues with the latch with their first child and no problems with the second).

Both of my grandmothers had passed away many years ago, and I knew that both my mom and dad had been formula fed. My mom said her mom (my maternal grandmother) tried to breastfeed, but she “didn’t have any milk”. It was the 1940s, when formula was being promoted and breastfeeding knowledge was going out the window, so who knows what was really going on.

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My mom breastfed me for five months. I was exclusively breastfed until four months (except once at 6 weeks), but between my two and four month check ups I had lost weight, so she had to supplement with both formula and Pablum to get my weight back up.

She was plagued by guilt for years, which led to her continually feeding me. I became overweight (50 lbs at age 3, 90 lbs in grade 3) and have struggled with my weight all my life. She wasn’t provided with any counselling to reassure her that it wasn’t her fault that her supply went down. In the 80s, she was taught to feed on a 3-4-hour schedule rather than on demand (she had no support from her mom either, since as I mentioned above she hadn’t breastfed). Also, I was crawling at four months of age, so my energy demands, and therefore her milk production, needed to be even higher. She also wasn’t provided with any information on how feeding on demand could boost her supply.

When I was researching the symptoms of IGT, I also read about the suspected contributing factors to this type of abnormal breast anatomy. Ironically, obesity is one of them.

Another suspected contributing factor – endocrine disrupting chemicals. As I discussed way back in Week 1, endocrine disruptors mimic the bodies natural hormones, such as reproductive hormones. This is a simplified explanation, but when these chemicals “bind” with the body’s tissues in the place of the hormones that should be there, the tissues don’t develop and/or don’t function properly. It is thought that exposure to these chemicals during fetal development or during puberty inhibit proper breast development, leading to IGT (see La Leche League and Environmental Exposures and Mammary Gland Development).

Endocrine disruptors such as BPAs are found in many plastics, such as plastic baby bottles and bottle liners (BPAs have since been removed, but would have been present in the 80’s). BPAs were also used to line food packaging, such as formula containers (see Health Canada and ABCNews).

Ironically, it seems that my mom’s difficulty breastfeeding may have led to my own difficulties. Between overfeeding me due to a “starvation complex”, the bottles used to supplement, and the formula itself, I would have been exposed to endocrine disruptors during infancy. Whether that was enough to impact later breast development is hard to say. (Do the formula companies know this? Was this their plan all along? Is it all a conspiracy?)

Or maybe it was something she was exposed to while she was pregnant. Or maybe it was something I was exposed to during puberty.  It would be interesting to survey some of my childhood friends born and raised in my community around the same time to see if they’ve since had any difficulties breastfeeding.

Makes me glad, for my daughter’s sake as well, that I’m trying to eliminate endocrine disruptors from our life by using glass dishes instead of plastic, natural cleaners, etc. as I’ve discussed elsewhere in this Blog.

I tell you, if I ever find out that we were exposed to a chemical growing up that caused this, I am going to go all Erin Brockovich on their asses.

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Which actually got me thinking . . . another group of common endocrine disruptors is the halogens, such as bromine and chlorine. Both of these chemicals are commonly used in swimming pools. We had a pool growing up, and I practically lived in it every summer from age five until I moved to university. Having said that, bromines are in the same group as iodine and therefore bind to thyroid tissue, not reproductive tissue. But still . . .

 

Hopefully I’ve been able to break the cycle somewhat, and my daughter, if she so chooses, will have an easier time breastfeeding.

Whatever she chooses,  ultimately #FedisBest.

 

For more information about endocrine disruptors and pools see:

Clarity for Spas

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers

Poison hiding in your environment

Fed-is-best-meme-Fb-chat

 

 


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Born Hungry: Part II

September/October 2015-March/April 2016

What does breastfeeding have to do with going green, you might wonder. Primarily the waste reduction aspect – no formula containers to recycle, no bottles to wash. Additionally, the nutritional benefits of a “natural” food.

In my first post (Born Hungry Part I) I described my struggle to breastfeed my daughter (MD). There have been many days when I wished I could do it all over again, and do it right.

When we became pregnant with our second child, I knew I wanted to try breastfeeding again.  But this time I was ready. I purchased a breast pump, had bottles and formula ready, and purchased a bottle of fenugreek from The Healthy Bug health food store down the road.

Most importantly, I was armed with information. I knew what breastfeeding was supposed to feel like, and how beautiful it could be. I went in with the opinion that as no two pregnancies or no two babies were the same, there was no reason to believe my breastfeeding experience would be repeated.

I had a relatively healthy and uneventful pregnancy (noticed breast changes right away, which continued throughout the pregnancy), and LM was born the day before his due date (see And Finally). Labor and delivery again were very fast but without any complications, and he was a healthy weight.

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When he latched on in the delivery room and immediately started the now familiar suck-swallow, I was so relieved it was almost orgasmic.

I continued to nurse on demand (trying to wake him every three to four hours the first day), and it just felt so much better than it had with MD. It felt natural. I was experiencing some pain in the left breast when he first latched on, but I expected that would improve in a few days. The lactation consultant that came to see us in the hospital (wow so the health care system had learned something in the last four years!), she commented that my nipples seemed large but otherwise everything seemed ok.

So when after day two when LM and I had been up all night, his weight was still dropping, he was jaundiced, and he still wasn’t peeing as much as he should have been, I was disappointed but still determined. I knew that all of this except the peeing part was normal, and he was still well above seven pounds so he had a little more weight to work with than MD.

After much discussion with the nurses and the OBGYN at the hospital, we decided to supplement. I didn’t want to go through what we’d gone through with MD. I could feel that my breasts were getting bigger and that my milk was on its way in. But I knew a little bit of formula now would help flush his system and make sure he could pee, give him calories to breastfeed effectively, and give me some much needed rest. This time the health care practitioners were very supportive of formula.

Within an hour he had a pee. He also only took a little bit of formula before settling down for a long sleep, which the nurse said was encouraging, as it indicated he was likely full of colostrum and transitional milk.

That afternoon we were discharged, and we brought LM home. I fed him on demand, every two to three hours during the day and every three to four at night.  There were a couple of nights he slept nearly six hours. I wasn’t going to set an alarm, as I knew we both needed rest, but I woke him as soon as I woke.

I started taking fenugreek the day after we got home. We also supplemented a couple of times, as it was August and very hot, and I felt I had nursed him with all that I had but he was still screeching for more.

On day five I woke at midnight to full, leaking breasts. Hallelujah! My milk was in! I nursed him until he wouldn’t take any more and he drifted off to sleep. He drained one side and part of the other, and I pumped off what was left.

PHN came in the next afternoon he had gained weight – horray! She suggested we stop supplementing. I asked her about the painful latch on the left side. She said, oh that’s ok, it should clear up in a few days.

I was relived and happy to be breastfeeding my baby, and did not anticipate any problems. But then . . .

Over the next day or two he still wasn’t peeing as much as he should have been. I was concerned about both the jaundice (which seemed to be getting worse, not better) and dehydration since it was so hot. I wanted to have the PHN come two days later to have him weighted again, but she wasn’t available. So at one week I was out and about to take him to a mom and tot group to have him weighed. Sure enough, he had lost two ounces. The PHN was stumped.

He was pooping regularly and it was the right consistency, he was sucking and swallowing at the breast, he was latched deeply (on the right side anyway), I could see milk in his mouth, I could notice a difference in my breasts before and after nursing, he was now waking every three hours on his own most of the time to eat, and was taking anywhere from 10 minutes to 25 minutes to empty a breast. He was alert and not lethargic. He was falling asleep while nursing, but most newborns often do this. He was still jaundiced though (the other nurse told me not to worry about the jaundice. How could I not worry when my whole family was worried!) It was also still very painful when he latched on the left side. Something just wasn’t adding up.

“Do you mind if I look in his mouth?” the PHN asked. Of course, go ahead I replied. “Aha”, she exclaimed, “he’s tongue tied, and lip-tied. He can’t get a proper latch to empty the breast or stimulate the breasts to make more, and he’s tiring himself out trying. Keep supplementing him for now and speak to your GP at your next visit to have it clipped.” After telling her about the experience we had with MD, she said chances are my daughter was tongue tied too. (That would certainly explain why I had such a hard time with her).

At two weeks of age he had the tongue tie clipped (they wouldn’t cut the lip tie). The Dr. said to have the PHN check the latch and have him weighted in a few days. Oh, and by the way there are these exercises you should do to keep the tongue tie from growing back, but you can see them on Youtube. Really? A Dr. is directing me to YouTube for medical information? Oh my postpartum nerves!

Within a few days I noticed that he was no longer falling asleep as easily at the breast. Now that he was staying awake to empty my breasts, it seemed like he was rarely satisfied at the end of a feeding. It was like I was playing catch up all the time. I continued supplementing when it seemed necessary.

At one month check up he was gaining weight, but just barely, and he was rarely content at the end of a feeding, even after giving formula. I asked the Dr. for domperidone again, and she provided a prescription. In hindsight I probably should have asked for this at one week, but my Dr. is hesitant to prescribe medications that aren’t needed and I don’t know if she would have considered this “necessary” at that time.

At two months it was the same story – the domperidone and fenugreek had helped, and most of the time I could feed him (usually between midnight and noon) and just supplement a few times a day (usually afternoon and early evening). I felt like I was just about there.

But my Dr. still wasn’t happy with the weight gain. She suggested that maybe I made “skim milk”.  That is, that my milk does not have a high enough fat content to satisfy him or help him gain weight faster. She agreed that based on genetic endowment (he comes from a family on the large size on all sides) and activity level (holding his head up at 45-90deg at 2 months of age) I should continue supplementing him whenever he needs it, and that he would stop when he had enough (something we were concerned about with MD).

When I pumped I took note – sure enough, about 2 ounces of foremilk, toped with a skim of hindmilk (much like gasoline on a puddle). I also noticed how much slower the hindmilk came out: the foremilk sprayed out forcefully, while the hindmilk was more like a “drip drip drip” resembling a leaking faucet. At this point I’m thinking I would love to have my breastmilk analyzed by the Dal Food Sciences group, for example. Do we really know that all breastmilk is the same?

Of course, when I mentioned this to the PNH, she said that “skim breastmilk” was a myth. Oh why can’t all health care practioners have the same information? See KellyMom for a really good article explaining human milk production and fat content. See BalanceBreastfeeding for a more balanced perspective, that leads me to believe I had impatient babies who wouldn’t wait for the “drip drip drip”!

At one Parent & Tot drop in session I did a before feeding and after feeding weight, with the PHN. The difference was about two ounces. The PHN seemed alarmed at this, but really couldn’t explain it or offer any other suggestions.

I am drinking lots of fluids, getting lots of rest, nursing every 2-3 hours during the day and 3-4 at night, pumping when I have time, taking the highest dose possible of domperidone and fenugreek, even drinking mother’s milk tea. I continue to offer the same breast until I can’t express any more, doing breast compressions, and nursing in different positions to make sure he’s emptied each breast (as much as possible, acknowledging that milk is constantly produced). If I feel another let down I put him back on the boob before I resort to bringing out the bottle. And yet . . . I still don’t seem to have enough milk (based on baby’s behaviour, diaper ouput, and weight gain).

When I have spare moments (when LM is napping on my chest but I can’t seem to sleep myself), I’ve been doing some research.  I came across some information I’d found when I had MD but decided to take a closer look – IGT.

Insufficient glandular tissue (IGT) means that some women, for whatever reason, just don’t have enough glandular tissue in their breasts to make enough milk. And not just for a hungry child, but for any child. It is hard to diagnose, because it usually only becomes apparent when a woman first tries to breastfeed.

Some of the signs are listed in this article by La Leache League and Best for Babes.

Breast asymmetry (one higher and slightly larger than the other), wide spacing (lack of cleavage), lack of changes during pregnancy, and downward pointing breasts with “empty sack” appearance are a few of the traits that I have.

It would explain why when I look at photos of myself, it always looks like I’m not wearing a bra even when I am. It would explain why I find bra shopping difficult; why my breasts are barely a B-cup, small in proportion to my 5’7” 170 lb frame and 38-40 bra diameter, or why no matter how I adjusted the shoulder straps I couldn’t get enough lift. It would explain the proportionately large nipples the lactation consultant in the hospital noticed. It might also explain why, even though my babies weren’t latching properly, I never developed mastitis.  It’s like aspects of my life were finally starting to make sense.

The scientist in me craved more information. I wanted to see a photograph or other image demonstrating these traits. I finally found some, and I was floored. I held the iPad in front of me while I stood in a mirror. It’s like the illustrator was looking at me when he drew the picture. I couldn’t believe it. “It’s not you it’s your boobs” I thought to myself.

One day I finally broke out the ruler and measured – one inch. One inch between my breasts. So not technically IGT. So I decided to ask for another opinion.

When I mention the possibility of IGT to PHN, I’m met with “oh, I doubt it, that’s pretty rare”. I feel like saying, “well, how many clients have you had? Maybe I’m your first.” I wish I could track down that one PHN that I spoke with months after having MD.

This is where I just want someone to look at my boobs (something no one, for either child, has done, except for that one lactation consultant who noticed my nipples while looking at the latch) and tell me I’m not imagining things.

I’m not trying to come up with an excuse to quit. I just want to be reassured that I’ve done everything I can and that it’s not my fault.

I’m not the only one having trouble getting health care practitioners to acknowledge this.  Many others have written about their own experiences and the struggle of others:

Little Help from Doctors

Diary of Lactation Failure

Why I don’t breastfeed

The Manly Art of Breastfeeding

 

And others go a step further, questioning some of the benefits of breastmilk and breastfeeding culture altogether, and the lack of science behind some claims:

Breastfeeding Conspiracy

Breastmilk not a pure food

Tyranny of Breastfeeding

The Case Against Breastfeeding

Lactivist Crusade

Meanwhile, there are some helpful resources on the internet that further explain IGT and what you can do to help yourself and your baby, even if the health care system won’t:

Kelly Mom – IGT

When Breastfeeding doesn’t work out as planned

Dr. Sears – Getting Enough Milk

Hidden Cause of Feeding Problems- IGT

Nipple Size & Breastfeeding

Not everyone can breastfeed

Delayed or lack of lactation success – Insulin & DNA

The Booby Traps

Yes you can breastfeed

Baby Centre – Underdeveloped Breasts

How to supplement if you have low milk

Domperidone

Fussy Babies – it doesn’t necessarily mean you have low milk (but sometimes it does)

Pros and Cons of Breastfeeding

10 things I wish I’d known about breastfeeding

Markers of Lactation Insufficiency

 

Another resource I’ve found helpful is the book A Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk.

This book describes numerous possible problems that can affect breastfeeding success. There are a couple that might have affected me:

  • Hormone receptor generation period – for some women there is a small window of time when the body has to be cued to produce milk (through frequent nursing), and once this window is past milk production stabilizes;
  • Delayed letdown – I thought there was no milk there when there really was, it just took a few more minutes than usual to let down. As I waited, LM grew more frustrated which made me tense which further inhibited the let down;
  • Milk “withdrawal” – in some women when the baby unlatches, milk draws back up into the breast, and it can take a minute to come back down when they latch back on. Again, the baby might get frustrated, thinking there is no milk there.

 

While I may never get LM off the bottle completely (which is ok – he could still go to med school after all😉 and his weight will more likely be linked to his activity level and our eating habits (MD is perfectly fine at age 5🙂 ), I think I’ve finally made peace with it. I am still breastfeeding, even if not exclusively. I know in my heart it’s not my fault even if the health care system doesn’t.

And who cares – he’s eating and growing and getting the best of both worlds. When you think about it, back in the day, if a woman had difficulty making enough milk, there would have been other women around to help – wet nurses, and cross nursing. There was sugar water, there was boiled cows milk and corn syrup. Or the child would have died. Infant mortality rates were high, and who knows why some babies “failed to thrive”.

In all my discussions with breastfeeding moms, I have run across just as many moms who had “too much” milk. They regularly developed multiple cases of mastitis in the beginning, and had to pump at all hours just to feel comfortable, because it never seemed like their babies were taking enough.

What would have happened to these women back in the day? They would have offered their breasts to nurse babies of other women who were struggling or had died in childbirth. When you think about it, we didn’t evolve as individuals. We evolved living together in caves, huts, etc., cooking and hunting together and rearing our children together. Women with good milk supplies would have passed on their genes through their female children. But the genes of women with low milk would have also been passed on, if their babes were nursed by other women.

Cross nursing doesn’t get nearly enough attention, and is generally considered socially unacceptable. Of course, there are also some legitimate medical concerns. La Leche League has a very interesting article documenting concerns and history of cross-nursing and wet nursing. See also this ABC story and this Babble blog post about one woman’s experience cross-nursing.

The closest we have is donated human milk, such as through the Human Milk Bank and Northern Star in Alberta,  available to premature babies through which is a great start. This health magazine article provides an interesting summary of the breast milk banking process.

It makes me wonder whether receiving breastmilk, full of antibodies and proteins from another mother, would reduce a baby’s chances of developing allergies, for example. I wonder if this has ever been studied? Of course, premature babies receiving milk would already be compromised . . . Anyway, it does get me thinking.

 

So what went wrong this time? In some ways, nothing, because, after all, I am breastfeeding.

This time around, I may have been a bit too quick to supplement, and maybe I am one of those women who has a very short window for generating receptors (not enough milk removal while LM was still tongue tied or maybe I let him sleep too long). Or maybe I do have IGT. Who knows if I’ll ever know.

But this is what still frustrates me. Are we doing enough to help women who want to breastfeed? Sure there’s lots of support out there to “keep trying”. But telling them to “keep doing it” or “try harder” doesn’t answer why she’s having the problem. And you need to know the root cause of a problem to fix it.

What if IGT is more prevalent that we thought? (And it’s likely to be, based on some info I’ll get to later) What if its closer to 5% rather than 1%. Well, out of approximately 8500 births in Nova Scotia last year (so approximately 8500 potentially breastfeeding moms), 5% is 425.  Four hundred twenty-five women who might not generate enough milk for their babies. 425 too many not to help as far as I’m concerned.

Even for the women who don’t have IGT, society as a whole is still not providing the support we need. There are the women who breastfeed exclusively very successfully, who due to work and/or travel obligations end up having to wean prematurely or “pump and dump”, for example.

In the words of a fellow blogger, we are set up for failure. But what if we set them up for success?

If governments, health care professionals, families and society were serious about breastfeeding:

  • Prenatal education would include all available information about both breastfeeding and formula feeding, including when formula may be medically indicated;
  • Prenatal messaging would include potential breastfeeding difficulties and what to do, along with the message that “everyone can breastfeed, not everyone can breastfeed exclusively”;
  • Prenatal education would include information sessions for families and secondary caregivers, to educate about any breastfeeding myths or outdated information and allow families to provide the support new moms need (because you can’t be arguing with your family when you’re looking after an infant);
  • New mothers who have decided to breastfeed, and who are experiencing difficulties breastfeeding, would be permitted to stay in the hospital for three to four days or until their milk comes in;
  • Newborns would be examined for tongue tie and have it treated in the delivery room;
  • New moms with breastfeeding difficulties would have their thyroid levels tested as standard procedure;
  • Public Health would work with 811 to provide 24-hour breastfeeding support hotline;
  • could provide a prescription for domperidone to pregnant woman who have struggled to breastfeed previous babies. Alternatively, to avoid long waits to see Drs. Nurses would be authorized to prescribe domperidone for women who have had difficulty breastfeeding previous children, so moms have access to it as soon as possible after delivery;
  • Pharmacies would stock fenugreek and blessed thisle and have scales available for weighing newborns;
  • Public Health Nurses, OBGYNs, Pharmacists, and GPs and other health care professionals would be required to attend breastfeeding workshops as part of their licencing and continuing education, to ensure all health care professionals are providing new mothers with consistent information;
  • A team approach would be applied for new mothers experiencing difficulty breastfeeding, involving the OBGYN, GP, Public Health and other relevant practitioners, to ensure everyone is on the same page for treatment (and the new mom isn’t constantly relaying messages between the groups);
  • OBGYNs and PHNs should be trained in recognizing IGT, and women should be screened during pregnancy;
  • The breastfeeding support team should help a woman set breastfeeding goals. Six months is a long time; goal setting needs to be broken up into smaller increments, much like weight loss or preparing to run a marathon. SMART objectives might also work here as they do in project management. While many women do breastfeed six months and beyond, when you’re struggling that length of time is overwhelming and feels like an eternity.
  • Breastfeeding physiology would be taught in high school biology and home economics classes, in an effort to both educate on and normalize breastfeeding.
  • Governments would work with the airlines and the TSA/CASA to ensure no breastfeeding mother has to “pump and dump”.

I know, it’s a tall order, especially considering the stresses the health care system is already under. And not being a health care practitioner myself, maybe I’m completely out of my tree. Either way, maybe it doesn’t have to be that hard. Maybe the breastfeeding community of practise, a few interested health care practitioners, support groups like La Leche League, and a few moms like myself can work together to turn these ideas into reality.

It’s also a tall order considering women who breastfeed without difficulty are shunned by society for doing so in public. But that’s a blog post for another day . . .

I don’t know how much longer I’ll keep breastfeeding. I keep telling myself every ounce he gets from me is golden, and is one less container of formula in the recycling. But its just as much effort to wash a bottle that’s had one or two ounces in it vs. four or five. I just don’t know how much longer I’ll keep going. But I’ll let you know.

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Update March 2016

It’s 7 ½ months and counting and yes I’m still breastfeeding. The six-month mark was rather anticlimactic – there was no medal presented or confetti thrown at the Dr.’s office at LMs six month check up. A little pat on the back or “good job” from my GP would have been nice. But I guess that’s what Facebook is for, right?

Think again. When I asked a simple question looking for ideas to get LM to stop biting, it almost started a riot. I know this is a passionate topic, but the “Mommy Wars” have got to stop.

 

I don’t know how much longer I’ll keep going. The love-hate relationship I have with breastfeeding continues, and as with anything there are good days and bad days. I definitely see light at the end of the tunnel.  I’m offering less, he’s asking less. I don’t think I’ll miss it in the end, but I am satisfied I stuck it out as long as I have. By breastfeeding at all, I am confident I provided the best possible start to life that I could for both of my babies.

The Australian Breastfeeding Association has a great article explaining the benefits no matter the length of time you are able to breastfeed.

For anyone who wanted to breastfeed and struggled, I salute you.

For anyone who didn’t want to breastfeed and struggled with being shamed or made to feel guilty, I salute you.

For anyone who was able to meet their breastfeeding goals, I salute you.

Because we are all in this together.

 

A letter to breastfeeding moms who struggled: Dear Mom Who Breastfed

Read about how one mom broke up with her breast pump.


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February

February 2016

I come to you today from my dining room table. And no I’m not writing about food, I just needed to relocate my writing space while we have some renovations going on in our home office. Renovations which will hopefully create a warmer, cozier space for me to be creative, and save some energy as well. I’ve been hungry for this space for a while.

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And that’s not the only thing I’ve been hungry for. According to one of my favourite authors, Barbara Kingsolver (or her sources at least), the word for February in Cherokee (and other Native American languages) is “hungry”.*

Not that I’m starving by any means, but my weight loss struggle continues. One week I’m down three or four pounds, only to gain one or two back the next week, then stay the same for two or three weeks before dropping another five. I’m sure there’s a physiological explanation for this, but I’m not inclined to look it up.

I’ve been trying to be really diligent and careful about what I eat, and even my husband is noticing. I’m also frustrated at the lack of healthy options this time of year. Local produce, other than root vegetables, is hard to come by this time of year. In the words of Ms. Kingsolver, the time to think about eating local is in August, not January or February. After the spring and summer we had this year, I of course had very little put away in the freezer. And the grocery store isn’t much help either. All produce is ridiculously expensive, organic or not, and the winter has been full of recalls – spinach one week, cantaloupe the next.

I’ve also decided to stop buying almonds. We had been eating almonds regularly, but was recently reminded of how fattening they can be (though good fats I know). More importantly, they require a lot of water to grow and are often imported from California. Not the most eco-friendly nut choice.

Nevertheless, I am trying not to let this all get me down and I keep plugging away. In the back of my mind I know my weight loss goals may have been unrealistic (the timeframe in which I wanted to lose the weight, not the overall weight loss) and I should be proud of how far I’ve come. In fact, at the 6.5 month mark I am back in the 180s (only a few pounds above my weight when we moved into this house nearly ten years ago), and only have twenty pounds to go. This is cause for celebration, allowing myself the occasional beer- local of course (and no, the irony of consuming beer over almonds while trying to lose the baby belly is not lost on me. And yes I’m still breastfeeding I’m being careful. Just give me a break;-) ).

Garrison Brewery makes a lovely Nut Brown which both my husband and I have been enjoying in place of a Stella or other import. I don’t usually like dark ales, but this particular brew has a milder flavor, is not as thick or bitter as some others I’ve tried and leaves almost no aftertaste. I’ve also had a chance to test their geekier flavours at Hal-Con – The Klingon War Nog and The Vulcan Ale – both of which are potent but excellent.

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I’ve been in a happier place lately too (and no not due to the beer). We’ve made it through the darkness of January and are almost through February. Longer days, milder, damper weather and the sweet songs of birds mean spring is just around the corner. While we’ve had our fair share of snow, so far it pales in comparison to the Snowmageddon of last winter I still feel traumatized by.

Whenever possible, I’ve been feeding my soul with good books. I hope to post my mat leave reading list here on the blog when nap schedules allow. Recently I read Margaret Trudeau’s book Changing my Mind; probably one of the best I’ve read this year so far. Her story is encouraging to anyone suffering from mental illness, and a good education for the rest of us. I’ve learned a lot from her, and Wil Wheaton, who I’ve recently started following on my Facebook page and twitter. From both of them I’ve been reminded that it’s ok, and “normal” to feel sad and down sometimes. That it happens to all of us, and you just can’t let it consume your whole being.

With spring on the horizon I’ve also been doing lots of spring cleaning. I’m still using “green” cleaning products as much as possible, a challenge I started back in Week 34. Lately I’ve been doing less actual cleaning and more just “purging” of stuff. We have too much stuff, stuff that other people could probably use. Closets and storage spaces are getting a thorough inspection by me. And there’s a lot to go through. I had no idea how much stuff we held on to.

It all started after LM arrived. With an extra person, even if a mini-person, our house is feeling smaller day by day. Also, everything we had held on to from MD that we now knew we weren’t going to use (mostly clothing) was given away to friends of mine with little girls. And as LM keeps growing we’re continually giving things away. A good friend of mine just had a little boy too so lots of stuff went to her, and my sister in law is due any day and she doesn’t know the gender.

Other items, baby and non baby alike, are going on Kijiji and HRMGiveaway or to the Fairview Family Resource Centre.

Anything that we don’t think can be used by anyone but may have a purpose are going to Value Village. I was encouraged to learn that they have a textiles recycling program. Horray for the three Rs!

The basement reno also has encouraged the purging process. We had a lot of rearranging to do to make room for the contractor. And I just have the time. Between feedings (including trying new solid foods) the inevitable diaper changes and household chores, on days we can’t get outside because of the weather and now that LM is finally sitting on his own and content to play with toys in a semicircle around him, I have a little extra time to sort and get rid of things.

And one of these days I’ll open what I’ve started calling our Pandora’s box. An unlabelled cardboard box that’s been sitting on the same shelf in our basement since the day we moved into this house nearly ten years ago. I have no idea what’s in it. For a long time I was afraid. Very afraid. But not curiosity is getting the better of me, and plus I just want the shelf space.

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Well, here goes . . .

Cheers!

If you don’t have a Value Village in your area, use this nifty textile recycling search tool.

*Animal Vegetable Miracle

List of CFIA recalls 

Harder to loose weight breastfeeding

Losing weight after baby #2 

 

 

 


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A Look Back in the Box

December 2015

Christmas will soon be upon us, and I’ve been thinking a lot about where I was last December and the December before that. What a difference a couple of years makes.

Christmas, for me, also brings anxiety. While the Christmases of the recent past have been joyous occasions for the most part, and I try to conjure that joy, I am also reminded of past Christmases which brought stress instead of happiness, disappointment instead of gratitude. Arguments over what gifts to buy family members, duplicate gifts, spending too much money or not enough. Frustration displayed as anger over outside decorations not working or being put up to early. Drama over Christmas dinner not getting cooked enough due to a power outage or a stove malfunction, or overdone due to the unexpected arrival of a neighbour or family member. Someone’s drink invariably gets spilled or plate of food dropped on the floor. Finding a last minute gift tucked away in a closet that needs a midnight wrap job. Be being too young to understand why my parents were annoyed I was off school. A lot of “normal” things that I think most families experience, except always with seriousness. National Lampoons, without the humor.

But as I said, I am trying to remember the happy times and not dwell on the not so happy times, move onwards and upwards. And again this Christmas I am struggling to buy local, simply for logistical reasons. I have been making a lot of charitable donations for family instead of material items, as per usual.

There is one gift I am proud of, and that is a shoebox. Not just any shoebox. A shoebox given from one woman to another. A shoebox filled with personal care items and yummy treats for a woman at a local women’s shelter. A woman whom I will never meet, but that I hope can benefit from the items inside. It’s all part of The Shoebox Project. So in lieu of a large gift for my mom, I’m giving another woman a shoebox. And I know they’ll both appreciate it.

I have also been thinking about where I’m going to go with this blog. Last year brought me to a fork in the road, and I kept going. As I mentioned then, there’s still so much I want to write about, so many challenges I want to try. But now I can see an end in sight. Let’s face it – with two children now, one of which will be starting school around the same time I go back to work, at this point I can’t see how I can possibly continue. This doesn’t mean I’m going to stop being an environmentalist overnight. I am going to keep trying to keep up with the green challenges. I just won’t have time to write about them. But I know I probably will. I know myself well enough to know I need a creative outlet, and for me writing is usually that outlet.

And this blog needs some work. I was new to blogging what I started this blog, as can be seen by the layout. A number of the posts are missing references, contain grammatical errors, and could use some general “sprucing up”. I would like to take a look back to see what challenges I stuck to, which I had to let go, and tie up any lose ends with “progress updates”. This process will bring me closure, and allow me to take pride in what I have accomplished over the last two and a half-ish years.

So that will be my focus over the next few months until I go back to work. I may have the odd post if something really gets me going, and I would like to have the odd “guest post” on topics I know little about and don’t have time to research or try myself.

For those of you following my blog (and I hope you’re still out there), follow me on Twitter @mommyonthegreen to see what I’m up to.  Tweet you later!

 

For local gift ideas check out The Local Wishlist 


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Loosing My Mat Leave Mojo

January 2016

I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately. I don’t know yet if I’m headed down the PPD path or if there is another entirely logical for the way I’m feeling.

I often find January depressing. Whether it’s the weather – cold, snowy winter has arrived in all its gloomy dampness, making it hard to get out and about (too cold for LM) – or the short days (lack of sunlight contributing to my sudden SADness), or Christmas being over for another year. We finally got our decorations packed up and all the leftover goodies put away. But looking at the houses up the street with their lights still on only serves as a reminder that the holidays have run their course.

I love Christmastime – the music, the movies, the decorations, the food, the act of giving to others and partying it up with friends and loved ones. Despite the anxiety (#ref Looking back) I can still centre on the joy. I enjoyed MD’s Christmas so much – but she was older, and things went at a little slower pace. She could open her own presents (with some help) and have some Christmas dinner. I was done breastfeeding so a bit of wine didn’t hurt either. This year, however, the whole season seemed to go by at light speed. With two, one of which was eating and napping at frequent and unpredictable intervals, and me being tired from middle of the night wakings, I didn’t stop long enough to soak it up.  I seem to have trouble letting go of all the things I didn’t get to do, rather than what I did.

Maybe its because I’ve been surrounded by people for the last two weeks and haven’t had time to myself – except for the four minutes I’m in the shower or on the shitter – to decompress and recharge.

Maybe its because I’ve been stuck inside with an almost five month old and almost five year old for the last three days. Even if the weather is nice, MD is too old for a stroller but can’t keep up with me walking.

I’m stressed about my lack of activity, and how I’m ever going to get the next thirty pounds off, and OMG I don’t want to go near a scale after everything I ate over the holidays, and how am I ever going to work up the energy to work out when I’m so tired.

Maybe I’m going through sugar withdrawal. I’ve been trying to eat better the last few days and my body is like why are you starving me! (even though its far from starving).

Maybe it’s the sleep deprivation finally catching up with me. Why is it that I seem to need more sleep than my children? Will I ever sleep again?

Whatever the reason for this funk, I feel like being a Mom has stopped being fun. For the moment. I keep telling myself it will get better, and every time MD walks into the room I am reminded and reassured of that truth. LM is at a wired age – not quite ready for solids, no longer content to lay on a blanket on the floor and look around but not yet crawling, still needing naps about every two hours. I’m the kind of person who craves structure to feel like I’m functioning normally, but with LM, while having a semblance of a routine, we still lack enough structure in my day for me to feel satisfied and productive. Just a few more months I tell myself, just a few more months, he’ll meet these developmental milestones and all will be well for another while.

Then the guilt kicks in. Guilt for wishing my life away. Guilt for not keeping our daughter home from day care at least part time. Guilt because I’m tired of breastfeeding (tired of him biting the boob that feeds him, but determined to meet my 6-month goal. What about the cost to my wellbeing . . .?). Guilt for just wanting our lives to go back to normal (even if it is a “new” normal). Guilt for being so selfish. Guilt for not appreciating my beautiful, funny, healthy children, when so many struggle to have children or have had to stay goodbye too soon. Guilt, and anxiety, because the closer he gets to that “fun”stage the closer I get to going back to work. And now I know that I can never get this time back. This time that I wish I could pull a Stephane Dion and “do over” with MD.  MD who in six weeks will be five years old. I well up as I think and type this, the thought of that number five on her cake, of registering her for grade primary in a few weeks. Sad that my little girl has grown up before my eyes. Sad that I feel as if I’ve wasted so much of her childhood wishing myself forward to the next stage, fighting the stages that were hard, trying to figure out how the heck to be a mom, forgetting to live in the moment, until we’re suddenly at now and time is going too fast and I wish I was in that episode of Stargate where Major Carter slows down time so the human-form replicators can’t get off that planet. I know someday they won’t need me any more. I don’t want them to wonder where I was when they did.

Maybe it is all of those things. Plus one more – maybe I’m going to get my period back next month. I remember feeling similar with MD just before that landmark, but that time I was angry. So angry I couldn’t stand to be in the same room with my family. I had no idea that the first post partum period was accompanied with this wave of emotion. It’s a little easier to deal with when you know what to expect.

Maybe I just need to write it all down. If only I could get the hour or so to put it all together in this post. I need to write. I need to cry. But I’m afraid if I start either or both I won’t be able to stop. But I have to be able to stop, to put a cap on it at least temporarily. Because my kids need their mom.

 

So this is life

Forgot How to be the Happy Mom

The Truth about Maternity Leave

 

 


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Pooped!

October/November 2015 – Updated February 2015

I have to say that LM is a better sleeper than MD, at least right now. Sure I’m up a couple of times in the night, but he usually sleeps a four or five-hour stretch before waking, then another couple of three hour stretches before waking for the day. He’s even slept a few six and seven hour stretches! (Would love to find a way to keep that up!) He also seems to be a better napper, so far. So while I’m not fully rested, I definitely don’t feel the same level of exhaustion that I did at this point with MD.  I’m a bit worried that I might still hit a wall, but my husband just says that we’re pacing ourselves better this time. I also find that getting up at about the same time every day (even if I’m tired), maintaining a semblance of routine, napping when he naps, and getting some regular exercise and eating well has done as much for my energy level as sleep.

In fact, I’ve even had the brainpower to think about this blog! Over the last couple of months we’ve been experimenting with the disposable diapers I described in a previous blog post (see The Home Stretch). Here’s what I’ve found:

PC Green (~24 cents ea.) – these were my favourite. These were the most absorbent day and night and best at containing blow-outs, easy to put on, and I just like the look of them better. The price point is the best as well.

Seventh Generation– (~37 cents ea.) – I liked these diapers. They were great for daytime usage, however did not contain blow-outs as well as some other diapers we tried, and were not as absorbent overnight.

Naty (~38 cents ea.) – these were by far my least favourite diaper. They were not very absorbent at all, day or night, number 1 or number 2, did not fit well, and to be honest I kept putting them on backwards because I could not easily tell front from pack (important for middle of the night changes).

I also tried another brand, BabyGanics from Babies R Us ($ 16.99 per pkg of 40 stage 1 (8-14lbs) or ~ 42 cents ea.). This brand also claims to be chlorine free and made from plant-based materials (which all paper or cotton diapers would inherently be). The company also makes a whole line of “eco-friendly” and “baby-friendly products”. These were the most expensive diapers I tried, which is unfortunate because they were a great diaper as well. Easy to put on, looked great and most importantly were very absorbent day and night.

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For the record, a package of Pampers Swaddlers size 2 is ~44 cents each – making the “green” option less expensive for once!

For comparison’s sake, I would also like to try Huggies Pure and Natural. They claim to be made of organic cotton. I think I used them with MD, but I can’t find them locally at the moment.

Huggies is a division of Kimberly Clark . Interestingly, they’ve been working with a group in New Zealand to create a composting diaper. You can read all about it here. I wonder if they could do that in Canada?

The Honest Company also makes diapers, with the same green features as the diapers I’ve listed above, and are only available online as far as I can tell.

We also have a whole bunch of regular disposable diapers that my mother-in-law bought us. At first I was offended – like, doesn’t she know me well enough by now to know that I would be using cloth or at least an “eco-friendly” disposable diaper? Like couldn’t she just have bought us a package of those? Is she trying to get under my skin on purpose? But since then I’ve learned to follow MD’s idol’s advice and “let it go”. I think her heart is in the right place and she really was just trying to help us out. And to be honest, the diapers she bought us certainly come in handy when we’re running low on the ones we bought and I can’t get to the store, and don’t have time to do laundry! I also shouldn’t be a hypocrite. I mean, come on, we just put a whole other person on the planet with their own ecological footprint! And the way I’m going through granola bars in their shiny disposable wrappers, and the amount of paper MD brings home from daycare probably balances out anything we gain by using reusable diapers.

When LM was about eight weeks old we started experimenting with the cloth diapers again, a few days a week. They still don’t fit super well because his thighs are still small, but other than that so far so good. I picked up a few extra supplies, such as bioliners and Allen’s detergent, from Nurtured, but other than that I don’t feel like investing a whole lot into them when we don’t know how much longer they’ll last. I’ll let you know how it works out!

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Update – February 2016

Well we’ve been using the cloth diapers for about four months, and I think they’ve just about reached their best before date. We were told by Nurtured that their life expectancy is about two years, and after using them on and off for about 18 months with MD and now four months with LM, we’re just about there.

We’ve been doubling up on the inserts to improve absorbency, but they’re really only good for short-term usage (a couple of hours). The microfiber liners have just worn out. I don’t really feel like investing in new ones, because once I go back to work (in six months time – yikes!) I know I’m not going to have time to do the extra laundry, and I don’t want to take the diapers to daycare again (they nearly ruined them the last time. While they were completely open minded and supportive of us using them, they kept using diaper cream with them which is a huge no-no in the cloth diapering world, because it makes the covers impermeable to water).

There are a few other reasons why we’re going to take a break from the cloth for a while:

  • Now that LM has started solids, his poop is really gross. Like, I know, poop is gross no matter what, and I don’t understand why I didn’t have this problem with MD (maybe I didn’t notice because my wonderful supportive husband was washing the diapers at that time, or maybe I’ve developed a weaker stomach with kidlet number 2).
    • We’re using bioliners, these just go in the garbage too (we don’t flush them – see Week # 6), and while it is less waste than a disposable diaper it’s still waste.
  • He seems to get a bad diaper rash whenever we use them.
  • It seems like they’re getting too small. There’s lots of room around and in the thighs, but in the rise they seem a bit short, like they’re crushing his “jewels”. He is the same size now as MD was at a year old!
  • Most importantly for us right now, while the water usage washing cloth is supposedly still less that the production of disposables, what we didn’t take into consideration was the wear and tear on our washing machine and dryer. Which both seem to be on the fritz lately, and I don’t want to be stuck with a pile of dirty diapers that we have to run to a laundromat!

We’ll hang on to them for a little while longer in case we change our minds again, but I suspect they will find another life for another baby via Kijiji. So at least someone will still be using them.

I’ll be disappointed and sad in some ways to see them go, as cloth diapers are something I really believe in, but at least I can say I tried them. For a short time at least, I practised what I preach. Some might say I’m not dedicated enough. But I’m going to try to not be too hard on myself. We all have to make choices and we all do our best. And like being the “good enough mom”, maybe I’ll have to learn to be ok with being a “good enough environmentalist”. Besides, there are probably some other areas of our lives where we can make changes that will have a greater, more lasting impact. And when I figure out what those are, I’ll write about them here. And speaking of poop, someone needs to be    changed . . .

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