I know we all have different priorities and different pressures that lead us to different decisions as moms. Here are some of the ways my family is “crunchy” and why we chose this path.
Originally, I wanted to breastfeed because I was breastfed, because breastfeeding is natural and nature knows best, and because breastfeeding is free. Seriously, free was my top priority. We can’t afford formula for two babies and for philosophical reasons we would prefer not to apply for government assistance.
This is what I found out along our journey. Breastmilk is great for preemies. Breastmilk keeps babies healthier. Breastmilk poop is totally washable (we cloth diaper). My body produces enough for two babies. Breastmilk is easier to digest and doesn’t lead to dairy or soy sensitivity like the introduction of formula too early can. I like the bond that I get from breastfeeding my children. I even enjoy giving them my breastmilk in a bottle. I am fulfilling my mammal destiny (did you know that the words mammal and momma both come from mammary, which means breast?).
I almost gave up. I’ve had a hard time, due to nipple preference and a poor latch, but my husband told me that I couldn’t quit. And he was right. It’s too important for our babies and for my self-confidence as a mother.
Our son is intact. We chose this because we have no religious reason to circumcise, circumcision is irreversible, it’s not my body to cut, and the foreskin is one of the most sensitive (if not the most sensitive) parts of the intact male’s body.
This is what we found out after. The US is one of only a handful of nations that have remotely high circumcision rates and those rates are dropping. When born, a male infant’s foreskin is still fused to the glans or head of his penis. To circumcise, doctors must force the foreskin back before clamping, cutting, etc. Even with anesthesia, circumcision leads to elevated cortisol levels in the infant’s bloodstream, indicating high stress levels due to the procedure. It’s purely cosmetic in almost every case. Oprah has endorsed facial creams that do have cellular material cultivated from circumcised foreskins (as weird and gross as that is). Female circumcision is illegal in the US. Intact penises require no special treatment until toddlerhood, when the foreskin separates from the glans fully and will need to be pushed back and cleaned in order to remain hygienic.
Side note: all the males in my family and my husband’s family (to my knowledge) are circumcised. The idea of my son’s penis looking different does not bother me one bit and probably won’t bother him either; if it does, it’s his body, he can make that decision.
This was a post partum decision. We met a NICU nurse who said she loved babywearing and who suggested that we look into some carriers. I bought a moby, which I liked. Then I bought an ergo for Jed and a mei tai for me, which we both loved. I made a ring sling, which works great. I still need a woven wrap to round out my collection, but we are getting there. We babywear because shopping with a stroller isn’t ideal at the moment. Babies will nap in strange environments under the soothing cuddles of a properly worn carrier. I like using my hands for things. I’ve eaten at restaurants wearing a mei tai. It’s possible. Sometimes babywearing is what allows me to function. Plus, we get to cuddle.
I have a friend who introduced me to the idea of cloth diapering. With a little bit of research I was on board for a few reasons. It’s cheap. Much cheaper than putting two babies in disposables. It’s eco-friendly. Yes, I wash and dry them, but they don’t sit in a landfill for hundreds of years. There aren’t any funky chemicals in cloth diapers. I was cloth diapered for awhile as a child. Poop doesn’t scare me.
I have since learned that exclusively breastfed babies have washable poop. Laundry isn’t a horrible chore. Cloth is cute. I wish we had looked harder at some AIO options. Prefolds are handy for naked time before bed. Washing the diapers is not complicated, even in my HE washer. Day trips with cloth aren’t intimidating anymore. I love lavender essential oil for odor control. If we go somewhere overnight, we use disposables. I’m not a purist.
Household cleaners and detergents
I hope to have more to say about this soon, but Risa’s post on DIY laundry detergent has inspired me to make some changes. I want to save money. I want to live in a less toxic home. I want to simplify.
I know we are all different. This is just what my husband and I chose for us. I think that the most important part of this entire process is just thinking critically about each decision that you make. Don’t just do what most people do because it’s expected. Think for yourself. You’ll make decisions that better reflect the needs and priorities if your family.
(photo credit: Joshua Griffin)