Before I got pregnant with our son, I remember being terrified of birth. I mean absolutely, totally petrified. I desperately wanted children (and lots of them!) but didn’t want to have to actually give birth. I also didn’t want to have a C-section. Needles scared me. The thought of surgery scared me. The pain definitely scared me. My only frame of reference up to that point had been horror stories from my friends who had gone before me into the dark waters of birth, clips on TV shows of over-dramatized and, most times, emergency-laden births.
As luck would have it, my husband loves watching documentaries about any and all topics so he got his hands on the documentary The Business of Being Born. After he had viewed it, he said, “Babe, you HAVE to watch this movie with me! I think you’re really going to like it.” We sat down to watch it, and I was enthralled. I could feel my confidence in childbirth growing by the minute, and by the end of the movie, I thought, “I can do this!” I felt empowered and motivated.
When I got pregnant with our first baby, I was actually excited to experience natural child birth! My husband and I took a Bradley childbirth prep class and went into the birth feeling prepared. Unfortunately, per typical protocol with my OB’s office, I went to the hospital for a non-stress test since I was past my estimated due date. The OB on call obviously didn’t like the fact that I was past my due date. She said I immediately needed to be induced. So for us, the cascade of interventions began with me being induced with pitocin. I’m so very thankful that, mainly because of the support of my very natural childbirth-friendly OB, I still ended up with a vaginal birth and didn’t have a C-section. But my experience was not a good one to say the least. It solidified my growing passion for natural childbirth and my desire to see the birth culture in our country change.
At this point in my story, I’d say I had just begun to scratch the surface of my new “crunchy” lifestyle. Once we had our sweet newborn baby in our arms, I began to think about things I never had before. When it came time to introduce solid foods to him, I carefully thought about each thing I was putting into his little body. We began moving away from the heavily-processed foods my husband and I had both grown up on and slowly moved towards an organic, whole foods diet. If you start thinking about what goes IN your body, a next logical step is to start thinking about what goes ON your body. I immediately switched our baby boy to all natural body products, free of things like parabens, artificial fragrance, and sodium lauryl sulfate. Next were my husband and I; we cleaned up our body product regimen as well. I switched more quickly than my husband because he was a little cautious of spending more money on the better products. Next I began to think about the things in our environment—the toxins that might be lurking in our home. No more candles with artificial fragrances for us! I switched all of our cleaning products over to natural ones and surprise, surprise! My husband’s asthma that he had struggled with since he was a child cleared up!
Over the past 6.5 years since my son was born, we have made a slow but drastic lifestyle change. I can’t say it’s been easy or without resistance (and sometimes ridicule) from family and friends, but it’s what we believe is best for our family. I have been so thankful for the many resources available to me in my journey, via books, online sources, and friends who are years ahead of me in their crunchy living. We definitely have not “arrived” in our natural living. I hope I never come across as someone who has it all together because, believe me, I don’t! My kids still eat far more sugar than is good for them, my diet, especially during first trimester of pregnancy, is definitely lacking, and my children watch more TV than I would like. I’m not a perfect mother in many ways, even in our natural living that I am so passionate about, but I hope over the weeks and months to come that I can be an inspiration to you and share my knowledge as you explore your own natural living journey—all while “keeping it real.” Join me as we grow together!