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The Harshe Podcast – Episode #21: Mama J Interviews Her Tribe

The Harshe Podcast – Episode #21: Mama J Interviews Her Tribe

It’s January’s turn to interview the kids! She sings with Beardbaby, talks about Samus Aran’s bra and underwear in the Metroid video games with the Bull (she’s not in her bra and underwear, by the way), Miss Cuddlebug’s disdain for the Havana song, Miss New York’s love of stevia in her coffee, Junior’s love of Metallica, and Teenager’s favorite vegan reptile! Also, each kid hilariously reveals the most annoying thing that Brandon does as a dad!

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January is in San Diego this weekend! Upcoming Find Your Village events are Nashville, TN and Stillwater, OK in February! Only 2 left for Nashville and a few for Stillwater. Get yours at!


How to Do You Boo with January Harshe is open for the following cities: Dallas, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis! These will be inspiring seminars to help you love yourself more, take better care of yourself, and to succeed as a woman in this crazy ride we call life! Register at For a limited time, you can get a $100 discount code for these events by DM’ing January on Instagram!

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.

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

Birth Story of Sybil | When Instincts Replace Doubt

Birth Story of Sybil | When Instincts Replace Doubt

The birth of my rainbow was an emotional one. It was exhausting for me, mentally and physically. The end of the pregnancy was full of many mixed feelings. I was terrified of becoming a mom of three. I was sad to be thinking of Nadia’s (3.5) turn being the baby coming to an end. I wondered how I could handle the demands of more children, not to mention how I could love them all.

I also worried about labor and birth. I felt so prepared for Nadia’s birth. I took classes, read tons of books, just totally absorbed myself in the birth world and felt extremely empowered and ready. This pregnancy flew by, as I’m sure most third pregnancies do, and I didn’t feel quite as ready as I quickly approached my due date. I was nervous about the baby’s position, if the house was clean enough, if we had all that we needed, if the big girls were prepared to gain a new sibling.

I knew my body was ready and confident; my mind just wasn’t so sure. I was in no hurry to go into labor.  I was enjoying this baby on the inside, and to be very honest, wasn’t sure I could handle it on the outside. I was very happy and excited to meet this new person, I just didn’t have the confidence in me to believe that I was capable. I’m not sure where this lack of confidence stemmed from. I wonder if I started to question my body when I lost a baby last August. I also lost my dad last year, and wonder if knowing he wouldn’t meet this baby earthside was something I was struggling with. Whatever my holdup was, I knew this sweet baby was coming, ready or not.

My “due date” was May 7, 2014. I had been having warm-up contractions for awhile before the real thing hit. I woke up on Tuesday, May 6, 2014 around 2:00 AM with a wave that I couldn’t sleep through. After it was over, I drifted back to sleep. About 10 minutes later, the same thing happened.

That continued the rest of the early morning hours. I knew this would probably be the day. I spent time in the darkness with my Blessingway candles lit, thinking of the day to come. My sweet daughters were so excited to have a brother or sister joining us. Tessa (8) begged me every day to “please have the baby today!” She made a checklist of everything she needed to do once I went into labor, and was SO helpful during it all.

My doula, Hilary, asked me previously to let her know once I thought things might be happening, so she could arrange childcare for her children and make plans for the day. I sent her a text message around 5 AM to let her know that I would most likely need her at some point that day. She arrived here around 10:00 AM after I told her the waves were uncomfortable. I definitely couldn’t talk through them at that point and wanted her with me. She is such a source of peace, calm and strength to me during labor and I just needed her there. All that morning, before she arrived, we all got cleaned up and ready for the day ahead. When Hilary arrived, Bryan went out to mow the grass. The girls both were showered and put on their Big Sister shirts.

It was a beautiful, windy but sunny, balmy day, and lilacs (my favorite flower) were in full bloom. Hilary and I decided to head outside with the girls and pick some lilacs while I labored. That was by far one of my favorite memories of the day. The lilacs smelled so sweet, and watching my beautiful girls run through the grass made me so joyful. I pushed Nadia on her swing for awhile and chatted with my wonderful doula while the sun was warming us. At this point, my contractions were still not very regular, but very intense when they did come, about every 5, 7, or 10 minutes. We decided to go back inside and see how things did if I sat down and rested for awhile.

By this point, I had called Amanda (the photographer) and Brande (my midwife), to let them know this would probably be the day baby was born. My mom had also come over around 12:00 to help with the girls. Brande let me know to give her an update in awhile and Amanda was going to head over to get some shots while I was still in early labor. Before Amanda arrived, I decided to hop in the bathtub and be alone for awhile, as I was feeling discouraged about the irregularity of things. I put bubbles in the tub, lit my Blessingway candles, and put on my labor music. Then I cried. I was so tired and disheartened. I wondered why this labor was so inconsistent. I worried about the birth team and was mad at myself for calling them over so soon. I thought I may labor until the next day, and the thought was overwhelming. I talked to my very encouraging friend, Beth, on the phone, and she talked through a few of my fears with me. She is someone who knows the right words to say, and it always makes me feel better to talk to her. I truly believe this baby was staying inside because I wouldn’t let it out. I was too afraid of the next part of labor and of life. Literally at the same moment, Brande, the midwife called. She told me that she had another mom in labor, and she was headed to that birth in Bloomington (about an hour away). This also shook my confidence, but I knew she had a back up midwife that was very capable. I had to process that Brande may not be with me when I gave birth, but I quickly realized I would be in good hands and worrying would accomplish nothing.

I emerged from the bathtub around 1:00 PM with a tear stained face, but wearing my birthing necklace and outfit. I said hello to Amanda, the photographer and chatted with everyone. I was really an emotional roller coaster. Crying, then laughing, then moaning through waves. My contractions had spaced back out at this point and I was getting more discouraged as time went on. I mostly felt terrible for everyone sitting around when the actual birth could be hours and hours away. They were all so kind and assured me that they didn’t mind and they were so happy to be with me on this special day. Still, I was struggling.

We decided to go back outside and take some pictures. Hilary, Amanda, the girls and I all headed to the backyard. I leaned against the trees during contractions and chatted with my friends and daughters between them. It really was a beautiful time. I will forever look back with happiness on those last moments of being a mom of two girls and spending time with two of my wonderful friends.


We went back inside after awhile and again, the contractions had spaced out. Throughout the day, although inconsistent, they were contractions that I moaned, swayed and leaned through. Some of them felt like two contractions in one. One would peak, then start to subside, then peak again a few seconds later.  Hilary often squeezed my hips, which felt good. By this point around 2:00 PM, I knew birth would happen, but I had convinced myself it wouldn’t be for many hours, maybe even the next day. I made the big decision to send Hilary and Amanda home. It was very hard for me to make this choice, as both of them had such a calming and caring presence. However, I couldn’t stop worrying that I was putting them out in some way, so I asked them to leave for awhile. They were both eager to stay with me, but I promised I would call them if things picked up. I was going to try and rest. I was going on no food (nothing was appetizing) or sleep and was feeling pretty gloomy.


Around 3:00 PM, my mom took the girls to a park down the street, just to get them out of the house for awhile. With just Bryan and I at the house, I felt a little worry leave me, and I rested on our bed. The contractions still came, and I would hop quickly out of bed and try to breathe through them and stay loose and open. They were still coming every 5-10 minutes. This went on until about 4:00 PM, when things started getting more intense. My mom returned with the girls and I no longer could lie down. The contractions were a bit more regular now, and getting much more powerful. I decided to get back into the bathtub, as water always helped the waves feel more comfortable.

Before getting into the tub, I called Amie, the back-up midwife and the birth assistant, Marcia. I tearfully asked them to come over. They assured me they were on their way. Bryan could tell things were getting serious and he and my mom started trying to fill the birth pool with warmer water. I was in the bathtub alone and could hear them frantically boiling and dumping water. With the two baths I had taken in the previous hours, there wasn’t much hot water left. He also texted Hilary (doula) and I texted Amanda (photographer) to let them know to come back. This was around 4:30. Amanda asked through text how I was feeling and I told her I was feeling a little crazy. She assured me I was not, and was getting ready to have a beautiful birth.

While in the bathtub, I remember entering “labor land”. I was having a hard time responding to questions when Bryan asked, and I honestly didn’t care. I knew that in just a moment, another contraction was coming, and I needed everything within me to get through it. I felt alone, and was praying someone from my birth team would get there soon. I kicked myself for not calling sooner and sending everyone home. I had visions of delivering the baby in the bathtub all by myself. A bit before 5:00 PM, the midwife Amie arrived and I was so happy to see her. Although I had never met her, she gave off a radiant vibe that calmed me intensely. I felt very, very safe in her care. I asked her at once to Doppler the baby, as it hadn’t been checked all day. The heartbeat was 120 and strong. I could feel the baby squirming all around inside of me, lowering itself down further. Marcia (birth assistant) arrived soon after, then Amanda and Hilary also returned. Marcia was so helpful and stayed right with me in the bathtub. She talked to me calmly and happily, which made me feel good. She also felt my belly and assured me that baby was quickly coming. That’s the first moment I truly believed that very soon, I would meet my baby, and it was music to my ears.

It was a relief that everyone was back. I was in a strange place and was very somber between contractions. I felt like I was looking through people, and I couldn’t respond when they talked to me. I was very tired and going on no food, so Hilary made me a chocolate milk shake, which was delicious. I decided to head into the living room and attempt to get into the birth pool around 5:30 PM.

Bryan and my mom were still finishing putting hot water into the pool, so I labored next to it, on the rug for a few contractions. By this point, I was feeling very pushy, and was grunting and bearing down. I had a bloody show, but my water bag was still intact. I could feel it bulging and then decided to get into the pool, warm or not. It was lukewarm and felt great! I remember glancing at the girls, and seeing them wide-eyed with excitement. I accidentally said the “S word” during one wave and apologized to everyone.

Every contraction was a pushy one now, and they were coming quickly. I knew it wouldn’t be long and with each contraction, I pushed and grunted with all of my might. I felt very primal, like a wild animal growling. I thought some part of me may explode.

My bag of waters popped and during the next contraction, I could feel my baby’s head. It was moving up and down in the birth canal. I decided with the next contraction, I would push with everything I had, and get baby out. And I did! Baby’s head crowned and came out. I held her head with my hand under the water and felt all of the bones molding and the soft hair. It was magical. I gave one more monstrous push and baby slid the rest of the way out into the water. It was 6:08 PM on May 6, 2014. I was elated and so glad it was over. I pulled my baby to my chest and heard those first beautiful cries. After a few moments, someone asked what baby was… A girl! We had our third beautiful daughter. How blessed we were!


She quickly calmed and lay skin to skin with me. Brande, my midwife, arrived 5 minutes after she was born. I felt so safe and loved by her and the whole birth team! I eventually stood and delivered the placenta, splash, into the pool. Bryan held her skin to skin for the few moments that it took me to walk to the bedroom. She was so beautiful and covered in vernix. We were all so elated! She started nursing immediately and continued for a good three hours.  The midwives checked me and baby and we were both very healthy! Her big sisters got a good look and were over the moon (and still are!). More family came to meet this new life and everyone dined on Mexican food that I had prepared previously. I ate tons and couldn’t get full. There was wine and laughter and love. My worry was gone and peace was in its place. Sybil Anne, all 7lbs 6oz of her, was here, perfect, and safe in my arms.


By 9:00 PM everyone had gone, and we were heading to bed for the first time as a family of five. As the girls slept, Bryan and I sat up and talked about the day, remembering all that happened from our individual perspectives. It wasn’t the short, easy, birth I’d had with Nadia. It challenged me in ways I never knew possible, mentally and physically. It was an intense, emotional, but beautiful birth, we both agreed. God’s perfect timing was at work, from the moment of her conception to the moment she was in my arms. We were both so joyful as we settled down to sleep with our three marvelous daughters between us.

Kara Sylvester, IBCLC

I Am Strong – Overcoming Abuse and Addiction for Motherhood

I Am Strong – Overcoming Abuse and Addiction for Motherhood

I am strong because I fell pregnant with my first son at 14 from sexual abuse. After being physically abused and pushed down a flight of stairs I lost my son at 17 weeks gestation, I was torn. I went off the rails and off the grid, developing a drug addiction and experiencing the worst drop in my mental health yet.

I am strong because I fell pregnant with my second son at 15 to my abuser. I left him at 14 weeks pregnant after he tried to punch me in the head and stomach, chasing me down the street.

I am strong because after a year of emotional, financial, physical and mental abuse, I now had a reason to be strong and a reason to stand up for what I knew I deserved.

I am strong because I beat my drug addiction for the sake of my unborn.

I am strong because I met my husband a few weeks later after moving across the country to get away from my son’s father.

I am strong because I endured endless phone calls and messages of abuse and threats of violence.

I am strong because I went through 12 hours of labor and two weeks of slow labor without drugs and gave birth vaginally to a 7lb 11oz perfect little boy after being told my hips wouldn’t accommodate him and I’d need a c-section.

I am strong because I have made it seven months exclusively breastfeeding despite my lack of support and the teen mum stigma.

I am strong because I’m loving motherhood at 17 without my abuser and with the support of my husband.

I am strong because I am beating severe postnatal depression and not letting it control my life or what kind of mother I am.

I am strong because I am now strong enough to stand up for what I know is right and for what I deserve!

And its all because of my rainbow. Without him I would have died long ago.

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5 Benefits of Having a High-Needs Baby {Not a Joke}

5 Benefits of Having a High-Needs Baby {Not a Joke}

June 2011 ~

She was soft-spoken and smiling, in the coffee shop on Avenue de Gaspé on a summer morning in Montréal. It was the kind of cafe I would have once loved – a little crocheted hanging seat in the corner, lots of glass, a communal table. Coffee boiling in beakers. And she was the kind of woman I would have once been friends with: young, motivated, bright, hip. And childless.

I had been dragged into the cafe by my colleagues (also childless), who needed to caffeinate before our meeting. I was wearing my baby, only four months old and heavy, oh-so heavy, in a homemade sling. He looked like babies do: beautiful, asleep, and thus full of all things calm and reasonable. And then she asked the question I had been warned about. She asked, Is he a good baby?

I lurched. I paused. I stalled.

“Does he sleep through the night?” she asked.

I shrugged. I smiled and said, “He sure is heavy,” or something awkward like that, and our conversation ended on a note that told me that we would never be friends. We would never be friends because things were different in my life now; I couldn’t be seated in a cafe with my laptop and a pair of billowing MC Hammer pants. I was a mom now. And as mother to this particular baby, I wasn’t allowed to sit down. I wasn’t allowed to try clothes on. And what’s more, I had to learn to play the game. To answer the question. How good was he?

The truth is, my son – beautiful, intense, spirited – was not.

I didn’t know how to politely tell her that there are not ‘good’ babies and ‘bad’ babies. That all babies are great! All babies are lovable! All babies deserve love! It’s just that some (some!) babies need more. More what?

More everything. More holding, more rocking, more cradling, better cradling, more nursing, more cooing, more singing, more bouncing, more stroller rides, more car-rides, more nursing, more nursing-during-car-rides, more… You.

There are some babies who will sit quietly by themselves while you make your morning coffee (or have someone make it for you, in a beaker, in a café near a series of artist-run warehouses) and then sit quietly while you drink it. There are some babies who sleep through the night (for four or more hours, without waking up!). All this without resistance, without coercion, just… out of their own infantile will.

My baby was not one of them. He was the kind who needed more than I ever thought I could give. He needed near constant movement, for example. He needed so much suckling that my milk didn’t regulate until he was 12 months old. He is now 3.5 years old and he still needs significant night-time parenting.

Exhibit A: A High-Needs Baby
Exhibit A.) A High-Needs Baby

The thing I wish someone had told me is that, while my babe would never be hired to star in a diaper commercial; while I couldn’t see straight for the exhaustion; and although his part-time daycare provider had canceled on me four times in a row, like maybe she was trying to tell me something, there are benefits to having a high-needs baby. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and I don’t just mean the terrible twos.

So, to all the parents up late googling “high-needs baby” and “is this even possible what happened to my life”, this is for you: five benefits of having a high-needs baby.

1. Physical fitness. Are you worried about getting your pre-baby body back?* Having a high-needs baby will make your body strong. I’m talking about muscle, endurance, cardio. My son needed to be carried almost constantly for the first year of his life. He was 17 lbs at three months. I wore him in a carrier up to 8 hours/day. I don’t know how many calories that is (and I was eating a lot of ice-cream at the time), but it was certainly more exercise than I’d had in years.

*This is a joke. I would never say that, I vandalize posters that use these words with a permanent marker and the question, But where did it go?!.

2. Compassion. When you feel the ache in your body after two hours of horizontal bouncing, your mouth dry from shushing, your bladder full to bursting from that hell that is “lying down beside baby and staying very, very still for a very, very long time because if he wakes up you will both start crying,” you start to think, This is craziness. Why would anyone do this? Has anyone ever done this before? And the answer you might come to is: Yes. Your parents, maybe. You were the squalling baby they poured their love into. Suddenly, that time your mom yelled at you for stealing a cookie is much easier to understand.

3. Preparation. Having a high-needs baby prepares you for having a demanding toddler, a spirited kid, a superlative adolescent, a well-adjusted adult… well, a mom can dream. A dear friend of mine had an easy baby who turned into a spirited toddler and it was a tough transition. “My first born was an easy baby,” she wrote to me in an email, “…he was content most of the time and easily soothed by baby wearing or his swing. He didn’t really want a lot of stimulation or help with his playtime, content to sit and look at a baby book or sort through his toys. Then it seemed like almost overnight he became extremely high energy and high needs. I had to spend all my energy trying to keep him busy in constructive ways or a meltdown would ensue. Once my second child came along I fully realized exactly how much energy I put towards keeping him at an even keel because now I couldn’t focus just on him.” If you’ve been dealing with high emotionality and intense physical needs from day 1, you will expect nothing less on day 706.

Exhibit B: A Spirited Toddler
Exhibit B.) A Spirited Toddler

4. Health Insights. Many high-needs babies are in fact babies in pain. The mainstream medical establishment is notorious for brushing off the concerns of parents of screaming babies (as our pediatrician told me, “We want to hear screaming, that means they are healthy”). Parents, traumatized and desperate, often turn to alternative therapies and treatments. Alternative doctors are more likely to listen to patients’ needs and give them a safe space to talk about their harrowing experience which is important for health outcomes and psychological survival. And sometimes, as with my friend who took her daughter to a naturopath she now calls a “miracle worker,” or another who brought her daughter to the chiropractor several times a week for a suspected hiatal hernia, it works. The more tools in your self-care toolbox, the better. Learning about your body – and you’re baby’s body – is a good thing.

5. Commiseration. You can connect with other parents of high-needs babies much better. My parents had two babies. The first was easy. The second was tough. Really, really tough. My mother is deaf in one ear from the baby’s screaming. They learned that their “easy” first baby was simply a matter of luck. The props other people had given them, the looks of admiration and the advice-seeking from other families — all of it was mistaken. This is the understanding you get when you have a high-needs child: that you are not a perfect parent. And that parents with “easy, good” babies are not perfect parents either. Yes, there’s lots you can try to calm a child and much you could do to make them fussy. But a crying baby is not an indication you’re doing something wrong. It’s an indication that you need a piece of chocolate and a hug. Fact.


Keep on truckin’, mamas. And thank you for the gift you are giving by raising a high-needs baby with all the understanding and compassion you can muster. Your baby is not “good” but your baby is essentially himself/herself. Babies like him/her become the people the world needs: people with a fire in their bellies and a firm footing in love. Your baby is not “good.” Your baby is perfect. And your baby will change the world.

One Woman’s Successful Frank Breech Vaginal Hospital Birth

One Woman’s Successful Frank Breech Vaginal Hospital Birth

Let me rewind a little bit…At 37 weeks, we found out via ultrasound that Everett was frank breech. We tried everything we could to turn him. Everything was totally unsuccessful in turning him. He was stubborn and comfortable in his breech position.

Typically, a breech baby these days means a c-section. But I was being told by my midwives that I was THE perfect candidate to attempt a vaginal breech delivery…if I could find an experienced doctor willing to do it. Immediately after that 37 week ultrasound, I started calling every OB in our city (we live in a big city). After dozens of phone calls and lots of No’s, I found someone willing to meet with me to discuss it. We met and after a thorough health history discussion and an extensive examination, we all decided I was a good candidate and we’d do a trial of labor and see how things went.

However, delivering with an OB in a hospital setting meant having to compromise on some things that I wanted. In the mean time we tried everything we could to get him to flip. I saw a chiropractor who used the Webster technique. I saw an acupuncturist for moxibustion acupuncture. I did the spinning babies protocols at home. I shined a bright flash light on my lower belly multiple times a day. I took a homeopathic supplement that’s supposed to encourage flipping. I drank 100+ ounces of water a day to up my amniotic fluid levels, hoping to give him more room to move. And last of all, we tried an EVC (External Cephalic Version).

Then about 39 weeks, the priority went from turning him to encouraging labor to come on it’s own since inductions are not allowed with a breech. My doctor was scheduled to leave the country on September 3rd, so we had a scheduled c-section for September 1st. If he wasn’t here to deliver, I’d end up with a cesarean anyway. I had a deadline for getting this baby out naturally!I had contractions on and off starting around 38.5 weeks, but nothing stuck around (much like my pregnancy with #2). On Thursday September 28th at 39 weeks 3 days, I saw my doc and he did an internal exam to check for dilation. I was 3-4cm but not very effaced. Baby was engaged in my pelvis, but we think not having the pressure of his head on my cervix probably kept me from thinning out like I normally would.

I had some crampy contractions after the internal check (which was at 4pm), but I figured my cervix was just irritated, and they’d go away. We went for a long walk after my appointment to try to get things moving. By 7pm I was still feeling them and they were definitely painful. In the back of my mind I knew they were the real thing, but I didn’t want to jump the gun. I took a long shower after the kids went to bed, did some cleaning, and a little laundry.

By 11pm they were spacing out quite a bit to just a few an hour but still pretty painful. We decided to go to bed and get some sleep. I said a prayer and asked the little boy in my belly to allow me at least a few hours of sleep. But I kind of knew that wouldn’t happen. When had he cooperated up to that point?! I maybe slept 30 minutes before a hard contraction woke me up. Then maybe another 20 minutes and another 15 before I gave up and couldn’t stand to be laying down any longer.

I grabbed my phone and sat up in bed timing them and trying to distract myself from the slight anxiety that started to creep in. Around 2am I decided I was truly in labor with contractions 7ish minutes apart and it was time to pack the last minute stuff and wake up my husband, Corey. I let him know what was going on and decided to take another shower because I was having terrible back labor and the water on my back sounded nice.

I paged my midwife at 2:15am, and she thought it would be a good idea to come to the house and do an internal exam and see where I was at. We called Corey’s mom to come over and sleep on the couch until the girls woke up. I started to get a little nervous that it was a false alarm because my labor pattern was so weird and different from anything I’d experienced before (strong contractions further apart with multiple small ones in between). By the time both of them were here, my midwife determined I was 6cm and my water was bulging. And as soon as everyone arrived, my contractions were picking up in frequency and intensity, so we decided to head to the hospital since my labors move fast. By the time we got there and got into a room, it was almost 4am.

Despite my history of quickly progressing labors and the fact that I was once again GBS positive and needed antibiotics, the L&D nurse completely ignored me. She got me in a room, asked me for a urine sample, and left. We didn’t see her again for 45 minutes (she was too busy chatting with the ladies outside). And she only came into the room at that point because my water had broken and I still didn’t have an IV line inserted, and I was definitely going through transition.

I was incredulous when she told me I had to SIT in the bed while they monitored my and baby’s vitals for 20 straight minutes to make sure he was tolerating labor well before I could go ahead with a breech delivery. HELLO!! Why didn’t she tell me that and get that going the second I got in there?!?! Now I had to sit there for TWENTY a minutes while going through TRANSITION????? I was ready to scream and bite her head off and I made sure she knew I was pissed.

She then proceeded to try to get an IV going. The first time she couldn’t get the vein. The second spot she tried my vein blew and there was blood gushing and dripping down my arm. If I had not been in terrible labor pain and distracted as a result, I’d have definitely passed out. Then she stuck me a THIRD time and was only able to get the needle in half way, but it was enough to get stuff in me so she left it. She was very vocal about how long it took to get a vein since I refused to let her stab me during a contraction (which were coming every 90ish seconds at that point). It was clear early on that this lady and I were not going to get along. I was just SO glad my midwife was there to support me, help me stay sane, and be a mediator between me and this awful nurse.

By the time she had me hooked up, she said if they didn’t get me moved to a delivery room ASAP I might end up having the baby right there. But due to the intensity and frequency of my contractions, it took me 15ish minutes to even get out of the bed and into a wheel chair for her to move me. Which she was clearly annoyed by and also very vocal about. Once I got to a delivery room they were prepped and ready to go. My doc checked me and I was 10 cm, but had a lip on my cervix still and was told I could NOT push yet. Because he was bottom first, it was very important to be fully effaced so we didn’t risk head entrapment.

I had THE worst back labor I have ever had. The level of pain I was experiencing (I assume because of his position) was in another realm from what I’d experienced with either of my girls. I wasn’t able to labor in water because I was so close, and a water birth was out of the question this time around. I started to lose my cool in a way I’ve never done before in labor. And then I was involuntarily pushing and could not stop. They checked me again but I still had a lip and wasn’t supposed to be pushing.

It was at that point that I did something I never thought I’d do, I asked for an epidural. I got THE rudest most disapproving glare and shake of the head from that awful nurse. I was ready to bite her head off! I was in so much pain that I was actually starting to go crazy and I knew the only way I’d be able to not push was to not feel the contractions. I was feeling guilty, but my midwife assured me that it was TOTALLY reasonable to want an epidural this time around and at least I had made it almost the whole way without. She said I likely would not have the drugs in my system long enough for them to cross the placenta and affect the baby. It’s not standard practice to give a woman an epidural at 10 cm, but this was a special case.

There was a chance of needing an episiotomy to make room for baby’s head as well as the possibility that the doc would need to stick his hand up there to flex baby’s head or use forceps for the same reason if baby wasn’t flexing his head on his own. And I didn’t want to feel all that going on. They had an anesthesiologist on standby in the room in case I wanted it for these exact reasons, so as soon as I said the word, they got to work. He was pretty quick, but it was still agonizing to try and sit still through those contractions while he placed the catheter.

Let me just say, one of my biggest motivating factors for natural drug-free childbirth (outside from the whole idea of it’s better for baby to not be doped up) was my fear of needles and the idea of getting one put in my SPINE. Well…it wasn’t bad. AT ALL. I don’t even know why I was so scared (of course, in the moment, all I wanted was that needle in there to start the drugs flowing). And within 5-10 minutes of that being put in, I started to smile and sat back and said “so THIS is why people get these things!!” Hahahaha! It was SUCH a relief. They gave me a low enough dose to still feel the contractions a bit so I knew when to push, but enough to be totally numb in my lady regions. And because I was able to finally relax a little and take some deep breaths, that lip on my cervix was gone in minutes.

It was time to push.Throughout my laboring at the hospital, I’d had several nurses and doctors ask my permission to witness the birth (since a breech delivery is pretty rare). And I said ok to everyone who asked. I figured, it was a learning experience for all, and if it resulted in more women being able to do a vaginal breech delivery, than I was happy to pave the way and be the guinea pig. Corey was really tempted to take full-room selfie but wasn’t sure everyone would appreciate it (particularly that evil L&D nurse). I think it would’ve been pretty funny though!

So with an audience of four doctors, three midwives, and another four or five nurses plus my own midwife and husband, I pushed with all my might! It was pretty weird to feel/watch him coming out bottom first. Once his bottom and legs were out I kept pushing to his shoulder blade. He was just kind of sitting almost cross-legged on the bed waiting for his head to come out, moving a bit but not frantic or anything. Kind of strange and really cool all at the same time.

I think it was at that point that the doc gave me a very small episiotomy, but I can’t remember for sure. It might have been earlier. All I remember is that I was pushing this baby out like my life depended on it. Because his did. Once he was out to his head, I had 3 minutes to push his head out before he’d run out of oxygen since he cord was compressed. I remember the doctor telling someone to watch the clock and said out loud to me “ok Amber, we’ve got 3 minutes. Plenty of time. You’re doing great. Let’s just finish up the job.” He then used forceps to flex his head as he was not flexing on his own, and about 30 seconds later, he was out! I think I pushed a total of 5-10 minutes from start to finish. He had zero breathing problems and apgar scores of a 9 and 10. He was immediately placed on my chest while I delivered the placenta and got stitched up.

Everett 1-2

I’m not a crier. It was the only time I’ve ever cried at one of my childrens’ births. Not because I’m not emotional or ridiculously happy, I just don’t express my feelings with tears usually. But this time I was just SO relieved and happy that he was here safe and sound that I couldn’t help it.He was born at 6:25am. He was gorgeous. It was weird not seeing a cone-shaped head on him. He nursed almost immediately like a pro.We were somewhat like celebrities among the hospital staff during our stay but in a good way. “Oh!! YOU are the breech delivery????!! Congrats and way to go!!!” Recovery has been tougher with the episiotomy. I had one with my first baby, but I wasn’t chasing two toddlers around while trying to heal. But I wouldn’t trade the vaginal delivery for anything. Sooo glad we did it and so thankful we found a doc willing to do it!!I want my experience to help empower other ladies to have breech deliveries if they’re the right candidate for it!

by Amber Hansen

Practicing Fearless Motherhood {in Brazil}

Practicing Fearless Motherhood {in Brazil}

{By Heidi Jo Haughn Palma, Maringá, Brazil.}

I would like to share my journey into fearless motherhood.

Maringá, Brazil.  Public hospital cesarean rate 86%.  Private hospital cesarean rate 98%.

Who would have thought that in this murky maternal healthcare scenario, I would meet a radiant team of home birth professions.  They were relatively young experience wise, but I knew that if any complications arose, a state of the art cesarean was just a short car ride away.  My Brazilian husband was very skeptical of the idea of a home birth, but after watching many birth videos and attending a seminar, he turned to me and said the words that made my heart melt,”I think Lucca is going to be born at home”.  I was 27 weeks pregnant.

We received bizarre amounts of criticism from family members and friends until we just stopped talking about it.  A neighbor threatened to call the police and child protective services if any strange activity were going on.  Regardless, at 39 weeks and 5 days, in the 10pm darkness under the light of the street lamps, I swaggered my laboring belly around the block inviting stronger contractions to come on after my water started trickling.  Three hours later I was in active labor in my bathroom, under the shower.  The midwife, doula, and my husband at my side.  A speedy four hours later, I was in the pool on the birthing stool and my son was crowning.  The neonatal nurse stepped in quietly just as Lucca was being born.  Direct skin to skin.  Delayed chord clamping. Daddy cut the chord nearly 10 minutes later. Natural and normal delivery of the placenta.  I nursed Lucca shortly after. A dream come true… And no police sirens! Just love, oxytocin, and family.

I chose to breast feed openly.  This was another hurdle in a country where Globeleza dances naked on TV from dawn to dusk with skimpy body paint covering only the essential regions, but where I heard that I needed to cover up and that only mothers who were shameless and sloppy didn’t cover up while breastfeeding.  I started getting glares and surprised exclamations, “wow! You’re still breastfeeding him?!” when Lucca was 4 months old.  If it weren’t for the other mommas in my women’s group who patiently shared evidence based information and emotional support, I most likely would have weaned my son during the biting phase, or the pinching phase, or the toddler talking with his mouth full of breast phase.  But I didn’t.  I won’t lie, I weaned him five times for 15 minutes, but it never lasted much longer than that before my gut instinct kicked in.  But those 15 minutes felt like flying.

Today Lucca is 2 years and 4 months old.  I attachment parent, I guess… But not on purpose, I just parent as needed, and he usually needs and thrives with attachment.  AP isn’t exactly taking Brazil by storm yet.  I still nurse in public and have become immune to snide remarks such as, “Wow! You’re nursing a little man!” “Let go of that breast, you’re too big to be nursing!” “You clever little naughty guy!”.  I explain to Lucca that he can nurse as long as he needs to.  And last night after a 10 hour stint at daycare while momma and pappa worked hard, we hopped in the shower together in the same bathroom where he was born.  Under the same shower where he came to be in this world, Lucca stated sleepily, “I want nursie”.  I sat on the floor with Lucca in my lap and slowly bathed him inch by inch under the warm water as he nursed.  It was magical.  Life had come full circle.

Birth Without Fear is the first step in the journey of fearlessly parenting a child as needed… every hurdle, every challenge, every up and down along the path is more intense and much sweeter when you are LIVING without fear.

Thank you for allowing me to share my story and for sharing so many others that inspire, affirm, and support courageous motherhood.

The same bathroom 2 yrs 4 months later, still skin to skin.

birth without fear

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