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The Harshe Podcast – Episode #1: Origins and Why’s

The Harshe Podcast – Episode #1: Origins and Why’s

On this intro episode we discuss the origins of Birth Without Fear et al., how we met, how we started dating, and how we got engaged, along with some laughs along the way!

Subscribe to the Harshe Podcast on iTunes!

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Click here to download Episode #1: Origins and Why’s!

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Our online store Self Love Generation is back open! Our classic Birth Without Fear logo, “i don’t babysit. I PARENT.”, and “You Do You Boo” unicorn T-shirts are back, along with a re-imagining of our popular “Team NO Sleep” raglan shirt, as well as a “You Do You Boo” rainbow unicorn lanyard that Brandon loves!

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Join January in 2017 at a Find Your Village event near you! She will be in Portland, ME on August 5th, and Brandon will join January in San Diego, CA on August 19th!

Motherhood Temper Tantrums

Motherhood Temper Tantrums

There are times in motherhood where you will simply lose your shit. I’m completely serious. If you haven’t yet, it is coming. If you have, then you know what I’m talking about.

You’re exhausted, pulled in too many directions, and pushed too far. It usually builds up with lack of sleep, always being needed, life stressors, and trying to force things.

The bad part about losing your shit is that it makes everyone sad. Sadness is part of life though, darling. We can’t be happy 24/7. We need to learn and have growth. Like mom guilt isn’t bad enough though, a mommy temper tantrum is great at adding extra. But once the dust settles, you have a good yell or cry or both, and good things can actually come from it.

Shedding all that frustration, hurt, anger, etc. can help you get to the core of the issue. It gives you clarity to see things from a different perspective and to build the pieces back up to be better than before.

I’m not telling you to go lose your shit for the sake of losing your shit, I’m just saying that it happens and it’s not the end of the world, you’re still a good mother, and there’s always a silver lining.

Take a deep breath, try to take some time to yourself to quietly process (when you can), learn from it, and try something different!

Motherhood is the ultimate survival mode, problem-solving, multi-tasking job there is. Figure out what works for your family even if it seems completely unconventional. And be willing to leave some wiggle room for adjustments and change.

If things are really feeling out of sorts, it may be best to take a step back and just go with the flow for a little bit. Say yes a lot more. You’d be surprised how that can help.

Moms, you are allowed temper tantrums too and your family will love you unconditionally through them just like you love and support them unconditionally through theirs. That’s what family does.

Vendor Sponsorship Once Again Open for 2017 “Find Your Village” Events

Vendor Sponsorship Once Again Open for 2017 “Find Your Village” Events

Due to many requests, we are opening vendor opportunities again for 2017 events. There will be just THREE spots available per city. If you would like to be a local vendor-sponsor please CLICK HERE and we will respond with more information via email.

birth without fear, bwf conference, bwf meetup,

FOR VANCOUVER, BC BIRTH WITHOUT FEAR CONFERENCE VENDORS:

This is your opportunity to not only attend the Birth Without Fear Conference in Vancouver, BC, Canada, but to also network and promote your business at one of the most amazing pregnancy, birth, and motherhood events in the world!

For local vendors, you will have the opportunity to reach local mothers and families. For product vendors this is the perfect place to sell and show off your products.

We are accepting only a limited number of vendors for this event. If you are interested in being a vendor for the BWF Conference, click on the link below to begin the application process!

Birth Without Fear Vancouver, BC Conference Vendor Registration

*Subject to changes.

**Please keep in mind that if you are approved as a vendor at one of our events and you must cancel for any reason, there are no refunds within 90 days or less of an event. 

Breastfed Babies are Better, Nursing a 3 Year Old is Gross, And Other Bullshit

Breastfed Babies are Better, Nursing a 3 Year Old is Gross, And Other Bullshit

When my oldest was a year old, a friend told me that my baby and I couldn’t be as bonded as her and her baby because we bottlefed and she breastfed. I wasn’t necessarily offended, as I was confused. I had a very deep bond with my baby and was madly in love her, so how could she claim that? To this day my daughter and I have a special connection.

What pretentious, judgmental bullshit that was. It is absolutely ridiculous when mothers judge each other over breastfeeding and bottlefeeding (it goes both ways). I am not talking about educating or sharing information, but flat out arguing, being snobby, gossiping, and being hateful. If a baby is fed and everyone is happy, keep your mouth shut and fingers off the keyboard.

My goodness ladies, there are bigger problems! Like hungry babies fucking dying. If you are so upset that you need to tear another mother down, get on a damn plane and fly somewhere and nurse those babies. Or feed people in your community because there are starving children right in your neighborhood!

You don’t think women who feed their babies formula know breast is best? No shit. But you know what? You aren’t living their life. You aren’t dealing with their past abuse issues, or postpartum depression and anxiety, or cracked bleeding nipples, or whatever else led to their choice.

A woman wants to cover or not when she nurses, that’s her choice. She wants to nurse her two or three year old, not your problem.

NEWS FLASH: You don’t have to always share your opinions. <— Read it again. Wish I realized that in my 20’s.

So, let me tell you about these two pictures.

january harshe fed is best

Both are same mom, same baby, same day. Both are of a mom who loves her baby with every fiber of her being. Both are of a baby who is loved, fed, sheltered, and adored. Both are of a mom and baby bonding. Both have a baby’s tummy getting full. Both are of a mom doing what she feels best at the given time. There are more similarities than differences.

Mamas, you do you and let others be them without your opinions. Breastfeed without fear, bottle-feed without fear, pump without fear, just feed those babies! We are all in the trenches of motherhood together and we are all going through our own struggles and journeys. Remember when we take a stand to take back postpartum, we also embrace variations of normal. So be a nice fucking human and raise kind people, because that’s what our babies need.

Ordinary is Amazing, Even in Motherhood

Ordinary is Amazing, Even in Motherhood

january harshe peaceMotherhood is beautiful, worth it, amazing, the most joy you’ll ever know, and the most important work you’ll ever do. Isn’t that cliche? Yet it’s 100% true.

It’s also hard. Really fucking hard.

Some days you nail it. Meet all your expectations. Even the hardest ones. Perfect non-GMO all organic meals served in BPA-free bento boxes, activities with enough outside time and everything child led learning. No media because you care about your kids brains, everyone naps at the same time, and you get your house cleaned like rainbows blessed your tile with sparkly rainbow glitter. Dinner is served while you wear AND breastfeed the baby, and you all eat as a family laughing and bonding over the days adventures. No hard liquor needed to survive the witching hours and bedtime goes without a hitch. Gosh you’re doing everything right and have perfect children. Angels, really.

You spend time with your partner and have amazing intimate time. You now have amazing post orgasmic energy, so you make sure the sink is empty, emails answered, and a list ready for tomorrow. Nailed. It.

Can this happen? Yes. Everyday? No. There are too many variables… the first being that you are HUMAN. Team No Sleep is a real thing, not just a fun hashtag, and toddlers can be assholes. Not to mention life is unpredictable.

Do your best, but know this: If today your children are loved, fed, and have a home, they have MORE than they need. If you sit on the couch and nurse your baby while the toddler watches every episode of Daniel the Damn Tiger while eating Frosted Flakes, then your kids are safe, loved, they aren’t hungry, your toddler or preschooler is learning something from that adorable pant-less tiger, and they’re eating vitamin fortified food.

My point is stop beating yourself up for not living up to unrealistic expectations. Stop the mom guilt. You’re already doing more than enough! Let go and enjoy all the little blessings you take for granted and savor each moment you can. They may seem ordinary but they make up what happens to be your life and that is miraculous. The ordinary moments end up being some of the most amazing memories.

gentle adulting, january harshe

The Birth Story of BeardBaby

The Birth Story of BeardBaby

Today is her first birth day. One full year. A full circle around the sun. To celebrate, I am sharing the day of her birth. I openly admit I wanted it to be just ours for a while. As I spoke at events this past year and had the opportunity to share beardbaby’s birth story, I was also able to process. I’ve been asked to write it out and share it and finally feel ready to do so. Thank you for being so patient with me, and as always I appreciate the love and support.

january harshe pregnant

While going postdates is my norm, it’s never what I want. But once again I found myself 42 1/2 weeks pregnant. I had co-care with midwives and an OB during my pregnancy. I wanted to plan a homebirth but my instincts told me to also have care with an OB. Our instincts are always right.

So I was 42 1/2 weeks pregnant and had another appointment with my OB. We had an open discussion about options and what we were all comfortable with. We checked on the baby and she was doing great! Perfect amount of fluids, placenta looked great, and baby was healthy. I was having contractions so I said I wanted to give it the day and see where it led.

january harshe pregnant

Sure enough I had contractions all day and they progressed in frequency and intensity into the evening, but at midnight everything stalled. Typical for me but no less frustrating! I woke up the next morning, a Thursday, and realized that most of my family, and now including myself, had the flu. 42 1/2 weeks pregnant with the flu. There are no words.

I text some friends and said “You know what? My plan now is to not have her and have a new baby in a house with the flu! We are all going to get better, and I will have this baby on Monday!” They were so sweet and encouraging but we all know that birth does not usually go as we plan.

I woke up Sunday morning 43 weeks pregnant, exhausted, and still not feeling well. I went into a complete panic. I could not get the baby to move. I wiggled my belly, I pushed, tossed, turned, got up, used the bathroom, drank juice, layed back down, and could not feel her. I woke my husband up in my panicked state. He was a little confused and tired himself and mumbled, “Whuuut?” I told him I couldn’t feel the baby move. He reached over and placed his hand on my belly and after a few seconds he said, “I am feeling her move.” I protested, “No you’re not! If I can’t feel her moving you can’t!” So he put his hand on my big belly again and said, “Yep, I feel her moving, can I go back to sleep now?”

Ugh! Sure enough once he said it, I felt her. She had been peacefully resting, getting ready for her huge event. That’s all it was, but to me, the way I felt, I knew it was time. I text my midwives and my OB and impatiently waited to hear back. My OB called me and I told him that she needed to be born that day, of which he of course completely agreed. We decided to meet at his office before going to the hospital.

We got the kids situated with the a sitter and my husband and I drove to meet our OB. I was texting my midwives on the way. I remember telling Brandon, “This is the kind of care that all women deserve. Everyone working together respectfully to ensure healthy mom and baby and a safe birth. It took me six children to get these kinds of options, support, and respect. This should be the norm!”

We arrived at the office, along with a friend and did an ultrasound. Baby looked great. So this is when we started discussing options. It’s an amazing thing to have an open, respectful discussion with an OB. No defensiveness from anyone. We all wanted the same thing. Bless this man, he wanted the decision to be mine, because he knew that was important to me. We discussed induction options, risks to breaking the amniotic sac and a cesarean. He asked if he could check me (I usually decline). I said.,”Yes, but I know that my cervix will be closed.” He checked me and sure enough I was right. He was in disbelief as I was 43 weeks pregnant with my 6th baby. Again, it is my norm.

He did not feel comfortable doing anything to induce me when I was not dilated at all and had previous cesareans. We didn’t want to hurt my body, cause cord prolapse, and put unneeded stress on the baby. I sat there thinking of laboring in a hospital, having yet another very long labor (my shortest was 20 hours and my others 50+ hours). I knew in my heart that this was going to end with a cesarean. I also know because of all my different birth experiences that laboring and having a cesarean was not what I wanted. It’s incredibly difficult emotionally and physically. I was not OK with that. So, after having 3 VBA2C’s, I made the decision to have a cesarean.

We went next door to the hospital and started getting checked in. I’m pretty sure the labor and delivery nurses were a little confused as to why I was walking in on a Sunday morning with my OB, but nonetheless there we were! As all the paperwork was getting done and I got changed, the energy felt very rushed and unpleasant. One of my birth affirmations that stuck with me was *Don’t forget to have a good time*. I came out of the bathroom and got in the bed and said to the nurses in the room, “I know that I’m about to have a c-section, but this is still my baby’s birthday! Let’s smile more, this is something to celebrate!” And it worked. The energy and mood completely changed.

Once I was fully prepped for surgery, I was taken to the OR to get my spinal. As I was sitting there I hit a very vulnerable moment. In natural childbirth it happens in transition. I was in my own transition for my cesarean birth. I was emotional, unsure, and questioning my decision. That’s the moment my OB walked in. “Hey kiddo, how are you?” Which cracks me up because he’s only a few years older than me.

I told him, “I don’t know, I need you to tell me I didn’t fail.”

Bless this man (again), he knew just what to say. “January, you are 43 weeks pregnant. You went 43 weeks, your baby nudged you it was time, and you listened. You did not fail, you did everything just right! Deep breaths.”

“Thank you,” is all I could say through tears.

A nurse overheard us and tried to comfort me by saying, “It’s OK, it’s your decision, and not like anyone is waiting to know.”

My OB said, “Weeellll, actually, a couple hundred thousand people are.” We all chuckled.

Once I was completely numb and Brandon was with me, Beardbaby’s birth began. Our OB took extra time and care with the surgery to ensure a healthy birth. I remember asking him what he was doing during the process and he explained as he went. As they reached our baby girl, (there are a lot of layers!), he and the assisting doctor started to pull her down and out. My other cesareans were over a decade ago so I can’t recall this part clearly with them, but although I was numb, I could still feel movement and sensations. As they started to pull her down, I felt her kicking up high while her body descended through my womb. I felt my baby as she was born. I birthed my baby.

The pediatric team asked repeatedly about meconium. It was a concern of theirs because we were post dates. This baby was born squeaky clean and healthy! My OB set her on my legs for a minute or two. Once they cut her cord, she was taken to the warmer for the pediatric team to make sure she was well. The only thing I would change about this birth is that I did not see her between being born and taken to the warmer; the warmer was not within my eyesight. I lay there hearing her, but the disconnection of not seeing her was hard. I remember thinking that if I did not know so much about birth and postpartum and had not had so many birth experiences this could cause a lot of issues for a new mom. I kept saying, “I need to see my baby, I need to see my baby.” My husband stood behind them, repeatedly asking, “Are you done yet, are you done yet, you been yet?”

What was just a few minutes felt like an eternity. She was brought over to me bundled up like the typical baby burrito. One of the nurses, remembering our requests, came over and unwrapped her, then pulled my gown down and placed the baby skin to skin on my chest. I’m so grateful for this. Having had two very different types of cesarean birth experiences in the past, I know how important these moments and experiences are for bonding, healing, and postpartum health!

She wasn’t interested in nursing yet, so I held her, took her in, cried, and shared those precious first moments with my husband. I started shaking and was trying not to cough because I was still recovering from the flu, so I asked Brandon to take her. He held her close be so I could focus on her as our surgery was finished.

My OB mentioned that there was a lot of scar tissue (maybe the most he’s seen?). He said he could not believe that I have had three VBA2Cs with the amount of scar tissue I had/have. To him, it explained my long labors. My body and babies had to work through all of that. This is how my birth experiences came full circle for me. To have this knowledge is really cool for me. I thought my body just didn’t like to birth. Nope. My body is freaking amazing! My labors were super long and my babies would not drop until close to transition and once they did, pushing was always a very quick for me. It makes sense now. But you know what? I did do it. Three times! What a testament to a woman’s body!

I was asked if I wanted my placenta. I give major props to placentas and have used them in the past, but I am done and done. Once our surgery was finished and all was well, we were taken to our recovery/postpartum room.

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beardbaby cesarean birth story

This part is a bit hazy, which is to be expected. I held her, Brandon held her, lots of skin to skin, people in and out, being checked on, bleeding, being sore, etc. If the baby was away from me for too long, I started shaking. I would take her back and my body would calm down and stabilize. This happened for a few days. Isn’t that incredible? Our bodies, birth, babies…all incredible.take back postpartumThe first few days postpartum after a cesarean are very intense. There’s a lot of pain, a lot of stuff to get through, and it’s really hard taking care of a newborn after you just had major abdominal surgery. I got through it with the help of a good friend and my husband. We also were able to check out early so I could go home and be taken care of there. That way we did not need care for the children and Brandon didn’t have to go back-and-forth. The first night home was very, very hard. But I remember Brandon telling me go to sleep and he would watch over the baby. I woke up later to her asleep in the Rock N’ Play and him asleep on the floor with one arm lifted up resting by her. I fell more in love with him in that moment and made sure to etch the sight into my mind forever.

We were all still recovering from the flu. Brandon was so exhausted and was trying not to complain because he knew I was just as sick and exhausted and I just had surgery. I knew though that he could not take care of me if he was completely worn down. So I hired a postpartum doula for a few nights to come help me so he could sleep. The postpartum doula would hold and watch over the baby while I rested (she was in my room) and bring her to me and help me sit up to nurse. After a few nights of this, Brandon was much better and could be on top of helping me and taking care of our other five children. It was the best decision!

brandon harshe, don't forget dads

I remember discussing the birth with my friend while in recovery. Processing is so natural and healing. I had called our photographer and friend Leilani Rogers to tell her that I had the baby via c-section, so we would not be doing birth photography. She told me she was sorry. It was a natural reaction, but I remember thinking I do not want that to be the reaction every time I tell someone how this baby was born. My friend that was with me said, “This is HER birth story, J, and that’s okay.” She was right! It’s why I announced beardbaby’s birth the way that I did. Her birth was not and never has been a disappointment! It was the right birth for this baby.

LEILANI ROGERS

january harshe

We did get to have newborn photos in the hospital and more as a family 10 days postpartum. You can see more of those HERE. I’m so grateful that I have an opportunity to be a mother to another beautiful, amazing soul. She is definitely special! She’s been smiling since a few days old and has been an absolute joy in our lives.

beardbaby

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beard baby january harshe

It is very hard knowing she’s our last baby, but I am finding peace with it. As this chapter of pregnancy, birthing, and postpartum end for us, new chapters are beginning! Thank you for allowing me to share this amazing event in our lives. You can follow more of our journey and life as a family of eight on my Instagram (@january_harshe). beastfeedwithoutfear

The Kowalli Joey Jacket {Review}

The Kowalli Joey Jacket {Review}

We recently had the pleasure of checking out this brand new jacket designed specifically for all stages of motherhood. What we discovered is the Kowalli Joey Jacket does have some unique features unlike other pieces of outerwear you may have tried or looked into.

You are able to wear it starting in pregnancy as a maternity jacket. It then converts to babywearing outerwear that allows baby to keep warm and close in any front carrier, sling, or wrap. This would be especially helpful in winter months with a baby! Instead of draping a blanket over baby, both mom and baby can stay warm.

Snap closures and elastic cording allow the jacket to be adjusted to fit your post-baby body while pockets and hood (that can be hidden or used) give a practical solutions for wearing out and about. Plus, let’s be real… snaps and elastic are great for new moms!

A few other things we love about The Joey Jacket is it is made in the USA, and it can be dressed up or down.

One thing to take note of is it is new and comes in sizes small, medium, and large. Larger sizes to come!

maternity kowalli jacket
plus_baby

kowalli joey jacket

I Am Strong {SPD and Gallbladder}

I Am Strong {SPD and Gallbladder}

I am strong because I started developing an unexplainable pain in my legs when I was only six weeks pregnant with my first child.

I am strong because I had to go through two doctors, two chiropractors, and twelve weeks of increasing pain before a chiropractor identified the area causing problems (my pubic symphysis) and I found the actual diagnosis online (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction).

I am strong because my SPD progressed beyond the “normal” range for pregnancy. At nearly 31 weeks pregnant my midwife sent me to an OB to make sure that my condition wouldn’t cause me to risk out of a birth center birth. After a quick exam the OB said my pubic bones had separated more than 9mm which meant I no longer had SPD. I had Diastasis Pubis Dysfunction, the most severe form of the condition. This was one day after my 35th birthday – happy birthday to me.

I am strong because I was rushed to the hospital in excruciating pain at 36 weeks pregnant with what turned out to be gallstone induced pancreatitis.

I am strong because I lived on IV fluids and no food for four days while my pancreatitis was being treated.

I am strong because I ate a drastically different diet for the remainder of my pregnancy and my first 11 days postpartum in order to keep the pancreatitis at bay.

I am strong because I had to try six different chiropractors before I finally found one that could even remotely ease my pain (seventh time’s a charm) when I was 37 weeks pregnant.

I am strong because at 38 weeks and 5 days I birthed my beautiful and amazing daughter naturally in the water at a birth center with her holding her hand against her head. This turned out to be extremely lucky since she’d managed to wrap the umbilical cord around her neck and arm four times. (My birth story is on my baby blog.)

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birth without fear

I am strong because at 11 days postpartum I collapsed on my bedroom floor when I was hit with a rush of pain as the pancreatitis returned.

I am strong because the very first time I was ever separated from my daughter was when the paramedics rushed me back to the hospital in an ambulance.

I am strong because I went two more days on IV fluids and no food and, after continuously and unsuccessfully begging the doctors to switch me to medication that was safe for me to be on while breast feeding, I resorted to pumping and dumping while my daughter, thankfully, thrived on donor milk.

I am strong because I insisted that the hospital allow my husband and daughter to live with me in the hospital for four days.

I am strong because I had my gallbladder removed at 14 days postpartum.

I am strong because I helped my daughter return to the boob as soon as the medication was out of my system, a day after surgery, and though she was born nine days early, five days before I was scheduled to attend a breast feeding class, and I didn’t know what I was doing and had to see three different lactation consultants before we could nurse without pain, my daughter has been breastfed since birth and only received formula once while getting over jaundice and twice in the short time when we were waiting for donor milk to arrive.

I am strong because I, with the loving support of my husband, my family, my friends, and my birth center family, survived several painful conditions during my pregnancy and have no plans to let that stop me from having another child… naturally and in the water.

i am strong, birth without fear

Submitted by Kassondra.
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