Books I found helpful, encouraging and/or empowering during pregnancy & labor

There are SO many books out there for moms to be and moms. It’s overwhelming. And there are a lot of opinions. And there’s a lot of judgement, but I feel like that is more geared towards post-baby books since there are so many parenting styles. I have been reading a lot of books regarding baby sleep lately and at the end of the day, I don’t like any of them. It’s hard when every baby is unique and enters different phases at different times. Yes, there are general growth and developmental milestones but something as simple as bed times and naps seem to vary widely child by child. I appreciate all the literature out there if not for just the sheer point that it shows that there isn’t one right method for every baby. I need that reminder sometimes. I have found with EC with Geneveve it helped me tune into her signals for potty and that opened the door to pay attention to her reactions for being tired, overstimulated etc etc. So for now I have no baby books to recommend except the Dr. Sears Baby Book. I like that one because it’s full of honest information without a big agenda. Well, he is AP biased but I see nothing wrong with a baby book being biased towards holding your child, paying attention to them and trying to meet their needs.

But I meant for this to be a post about pre-baby stuff and here I am rambling in my scattered post-partum mind.
Okay, we’ll keep it simple:

The Pregnancy Book by Dr. Sears. I read this a lot while pregnant. It was on the nightstand. I found it very reassuring and educational. And not fear-based. I felt that I needed to be reminded constantly that labor is Normal and Natural part of life. It Is life.

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
Yes, it’s more crunchy in the simple fact that this woman started a commune. She also played a big part in bringing the power of birthing choices back to the mother. The first half of the book is positive labor stories and the second half is a what to expect and how your body works in labor and I found the whole thing wonderfully empowering. After almost 30 years of being exposed to the media’s adrenaline, fear-induced portrayal of having a baby, it was hard to read positive birth stories and think they were real and not just reserved for the extreme hippies of the world. But there are also plenty of positive birth stories online, I enjoy Progressive Pioneer’s spotlight on birth stories she did last year. And documentaries like the Business of Being Born really drive home the message that your Body knows what to do and you can trust in it. I find it amazing that 98% of births are normal and natural and do not need interventions yet C-section rates in hospitals in the US is insane. This country has some of the worst statistics regarding labor and birth compared to other developed countries. (And the worse maternity leave. Oh, Germany, it’s Not fair that your new moms get one year paid leave) After 12 weeks a baby is Still so dependent on mommy; I hate that most moms have to separate from their babies so early. I can’t be away from mine more than an hour still. But that’s my choice.

Birthing from Within
Also full of encouraging information to remind you that birth is normal and instinctual. She does a lot of art projects which help you face fears and be able to separate your mind from your body. I feel like it’s really easy to just get caught up in the intellectual not the physical aspect of labor, which can make it really hard to let go and let your body do what it was designed to do. I have read a lot of stories where your mind is caught up in a fear cycle, which affects your body’s ability to release all those natural hormones and painkillers and for your cervix to dilate. It always amazes me what the power of the mind can do, both good and bad.

I read other books like the Bradley Method and took out a bunch from the library but these two books above really were all that I needed.
I wish I had read the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding before having Geneveve as well.
I’m intrigued by Hypnobabies due to how many moms I’ve met that used it and swore by it. But I don’t know if I’m sold yet.

5 month update

It’s hard to believe that Geneveve is 5 months already!

From December

The first month was a haze and last 4 just get better every day. I love watching her personality emerge.
She definitely knows what she wants when she wants.
I look forward to doing sign language with her because it will hopefully curb any communication frustrations that seem to be so common.
She used to put her hand to her mouth when she was hungry but now her hand is always in her mouth since she is starting the teething journey (and it’s fun to suck on fingers anyways)
Her newest adventures include sitting up on her own, sucking her thumb, being more conscious about reaching and grabbing things. She loves to hold my water bottle and suck on the rim, pretending to drink from it. She must see me drink out of that water bottle a million times a day, I wonder what she makes of it all. She reaches for food on my plate and the other day I gave her a pickle to hold and it immediately went into her mouth (as that is the destination of anything she can get a hold of). We’ve been holding frozen green beans to her mouth lately for teething pain and she really likes to nom on those. The pickle she enjoyed more than I thought. The cold of the pickle felt good but the flavor must have been interesting for her to experience. She nom’d on it a little but didn’t eat it, thank goodness! I am NOT ready for solids. nor crawling. nor walking. nor talking.
She’s developing such a sweet voice, sometimes she makes these little coos and other times she’ll go through all her vowels and some consanants. She likes to play with volume and pitch and is starting to babble to herself more.
At Christmastime we broke out the Johnny Jumper since that’s her favorite activity in our arms: jumping. This girl has Strong legs.
She’s now doing a complete upward dog pose (from the earlier cobra) and is doing the crawling motions with her legs but I don’t think she’s there yet in core strength and her arms sometimes get caught under her if she pushes forward with her legs. But she definitely understands the process and is working towards it.
I think it’s because she hangs out with the older kids at play group-most of them are already crawling and pulling themselves up to standing.
At her 4 month appointment we were told she has the strength of a 7 month old and I believe it.
She is very alert when awake, happy to share a smile and the giggles are a daily occurance (though we still have to work for them-she loves getting her feet kissed)
She loves playing airplane. She loves socializing and taking walks.
She reaches out for Ubu now and will happily pet her and is generally fascinated with everything dog.
She still is not a fan of falling asleep, naps or the carseat.
And she loves to reach out for the keyboard and I think she’s sent some emails and deleted files already. I don’t know how she pushes a few buttons and closes the browser and is opening windows!
She had her first Christmas at home and loved touching the tree and pulling on the lights. By far her favorite gift is the wrapping paper. Crinkly! Marty and Jan made the drive out for the weekend and got to have some baby time.
I try to take her to mom’s groups when it doesn’t interfere with morning naps (which has been the case lately) and she is Loving book babies at the library. It’s a free weekly group where you sing songs with your babies and there’s movement involved followed by some playtime. She loves songs!

Our next journey: road trip to Northern California to see some family.

Date Night

Last week Matt and I had our first outing sans Geneveve. Right before we left I almost changed my mind, but we would only be gone one hour and she just woke up from a nap and had a full belly, so an hour with our housemates seemed like a good trial run. Plus we had a Groupon for an hour at the neighborhood bathhouse, Loyly that was set to expire in days.

I feel spoiled because I have been to a lot of bathhouses and two of the best ones I have ever been to are in Seattle (Banya 5 and Olympus). Loyly was a nice, quiet, clean facility and it’s less than a mile from our house, which you can’t beat. But the options there are very basic: dry sauna, steam room and a cold pull shower (which is easier to avoid or just put part of your body in than the full body immersion cold dunk pool at Banya 5. I LOVE that cold dip pool as well as their salt water tub) It was very relaxing, nice to take an hour alone with Matt to sweat and be calm. And when we got home the house was quiet, then I heard Laura say, Mommy’s home! and Geneveve started crying! but not for long and they said that she was a little fussy but not the whole time. Apparently she liked it a lot when Eric beat-boxed for her.

I have another Groupon for the bathhouse at Common Grounds up in Alberta neighborhood, I think we’ll try that one on my birthday. Also a one hour soak, which is plenty of time for me lately and pretty much my max at time away from the baby. So far I have been to a cafe (walking distance) twice away from the baby but that’s fine, I’d rather be with her and have her know that I’m near. Everyone likes to tell me again and again that it goes so fast, so I try my best to stay present and enjoy that she needs and wants my company and I try not to think about the inevitable days when I won’t be the center of her universe anymore. Overall, though I’m glad we made the time for a soak, my aching bones need it! Lately Geneveve is very distractable and loves the world and people and it’s hard for her to focus on nursing and falling asleep in public because she’d rather see what’s going on around her. So the best success we have is nursing in bed and naps in bed, which is tough on my back! But I’ve got to love those Groupons! It’s a great way to save money and try new places. I just bought one for the Bar Method (just 5 classes) so hopefully that will whip my core back into shape.

loyly by anneparker


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