And then there were 4-Noa’s Freestyle Friday

Life is magical and miraculous. That’s how I feel about our new lil girl that blessed us with her arrival 6 days ago. With every contraction and every hour that passed by I knew she was close. I wanted to feel that pain for her, to make her arrival into this already complicated world that much easier. We are blessed to have amazing friends and a community of wonderful mothers who understand the beauty in this journey and the accepted challenges along the way. We wouldn’t have it any other way!

I didn’t choose a home birth. My first hospital experience was so amazing I decided to take this route again. The OB’s I choose are all pro natural birth and fought for what I fight for: safe, natural delivery, with little, if any, medical interruption.

All our wishes were respected. I had my OB who understood our priorities and my dear friend, a mother of 4 that has also been there for us the first time around, guiding me with every sharp pain and teary eyes  through meditations and practical steps to successful delivery. I felt empowered and respected.

 

When delivery (that, by the way, was soooo much easier second time around) ended successfully I called our midwife Heather Schwartz from birthing spirit, to come pick up my placenta and encapsulate for faster healing. Another thing I wasn’t able to do first time, since it was infected.

Love to all the moms and babies out there,

Noa

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ACE

There is something called the Adverse Childhood Experiences Survey. It is a public health research study that correlates the link between childhood adversity and adult illness. More specifically, mental and physical health disorders. Some of the adverse experiences measured are physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, alcoholism in the household, humiliation, mental disorders in the household, lack of support in the household, lacking of food, money, clothing, divorce, death in the family, and/or incarceration in the household. Take this moment and think back to your own childhood. These adverse experiences are not limited to the household even though many of them are asked if they were present in the home, rather than at school. Can you go through that list without checking off a single adverse experience? If you can, I applaud you and your family.

The fact is that, “one in eight children (12 percent) have had three or more negative experiences…” (1). Based on research done by physician and researcher, Vincent J. Fellitti along with epidemiologist, Robert Anda, MD., after interviewing over 17,000 patients, 64 percent answered yes to at least one category of the ACE Survey. Let’s reframe that, 64% experienced abuse and/or neglect, and/or humiliation, and/or lack of survival resources, and/or parent with mental illness, death in the family, and/or so much more. Think to your circle of friends, your community, how many stories do you know of one of those adverse childhood experiences? All of them? One of them? I, personally have an ACE score of 7/10.

These statistics are depressing as fuck. They are eye opening and saddening, I am aware. But stick with me.

How many of us feel physically ill when nervous? When you hear of a death in the family? How does your body react to that feeling of “fight or flight”? Think back to an instance where you became super alert because you felt threatened in some way, shape, or form. Someone walking behind you in a dark alley, someone rear-ended you, you got into a fist fight, you got jumped, you handed in your homework late. That heightened sense of awareness, that on the verge of a freak out because you don’t know what is going to happen in the next minute, the next hour, the next day.

That physical and emotional stress, causes inflammation in the body. Your hormones freak, your body freaks. It freaks out and it doesn’t stop freaking out, the inflammation doesn’t stop. The stress response does not shut off, it can’t because for that person they always feel threatened. For a child who is constantly under stress, their body remains inflamed. That inflammation causes illness. It may not cause illness immediately, but it will cause illness eventually. With enough stress on a child, the brain becomes inflamed along with the body. A child’s brain when inflamed causes it to lose neurons at a much faster rate than a “normal” child’s brain. Think about the effects that has on a child’s development. Language skills can slow down—for good. Cognitive development can become impaired, emotional and mental development-impaired, physical development- impaired. If there are less neurons in a child’s brain, there are less connections being made. Less vocabulary learned, less reasoning skills, less hand-eye coordination. Less connection to the world and to themselves. Think about how far that sets a child behind in life.

These adverse experiences translate into adulthood through chronic illness. These childhood experiences manifest themselves in the physical body through illness. Illness of the mind, the body, the heart. Literally the chances of heart disease increases drastically, diabetes, obesity, skin conditions, lupus, the list goes on. It is not a small percentage in which illness takes over, it is a significant one. For example, “Children whose parent’s divorce are twice as likely to suffer a stroke at some point in their lifetime.”(2). I am not saying that this is the reason for all adult illness. There are so many factors that are in play.

What I am doing is asking you to think about your actions. Think about every interaction you have with a child. I am not just speaking of your child, your friends child, but a child you interact with in a grocery store, one that you interact with at the local gym, wherever. We very rarely know the reality behind the closed door of a home. There is shame behind so much that we experience as people today. It prevents us from opening up to one another, it damages us just as much as the negative actions within the home. I share with you this information because the power of influence that we have on our youth is enormous. It is far beyond comprehension what it does to our physical well being.

As parents I ask you to shed your shit. It is easier said than done, it is a constant process but if you slap your child, ask yourself why. Why did you feel the need to physically harm your child? Did it trigger something from your childhood? More often then not, it did. Whether you, yourself got hit, or you don’t believe children should have an opinion because you were never allowed one. Why did you fight with your significant other in front of your child about money? Could the conversation have waited for a more appropriate time? Did you grow up with money lacking in the home? Do you feel insecure about your finances now because of your families finances growing up?

These are hard questions to ask yourself. For so many of us it is easier to shut that door and walk away. But when we have kids,those adverse effects trickle down. A child’s unconditional love is threatening for those who battle self-hate and childhood trauma. It brings up a lot of nasty shit. When you raise your hand or raise your voice, when you ignore a child’s inquisitiveness at a restaurant, when you roll your eyes at them for being goofy but you think it’s annoying and inappropriate, remember how you felt as a child. You don’t even have to go that far back, relate to how you feel on a daily basis when someone rolls their eyes at you, ignores you, or raises a hand at you.

What you may forget or may not realize at all is that in the instance your emotions take over and you react to your child, is that the stress of your reaction can physiologically alter that child’s biology.

I will say that again, your interactions with children can physiologically change their biology.

Think about that impact. Feel that in your heart for a second.

 

Getting over the hump together,

Raffaella

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(1) Child Trends. (2013). Adverse experiences. Available at: http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=adverse-experiences – See more at: http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=adverse-experiences#sthash.gJmr9iWV.dpuf

(2) Nakazawa, D. J. (2015). Childhood disrupted: How your biography becomes your biology, and how you can heal. New York, NY: Atria Books.

Judgers, don’t judge

It’s 12:00 PM, and I’m sitting at a Cafe with Little, attempting to put forkfuls of salad in my mouth with my left hand as my right hand does its best to keep him from falling head first out of his high chair. And no, unfortunately this one doesn’t have a buckle. After multiple, ‘you need to sit down, you will fall and get an ouchie,’ I give up and take him out. He sits in my lap for a good sixty seconds before he decides to slide down and run around the restaurant shoeless. I run after him, and holy magnolia, this child has gotten really fast. I finally grab him, and do the walk of shame back to my seat as I get a few glares. ‘That’s it,’ I say, ‘you will sit in your stroller.’ ‘Mommy, noooooooo!’ He yells at the top of his lungs. More stares. I practically throw my credit card at the server, and leave the restaurant disheveled. 
This was not one of our best days. But I can say Little has gotten much better at going out and being able to sit still. The most difficult part of it for me has been the people who’re quick to judge. Before hubby and I became parents, we were pretty judgemental ourselves. We would go to restaurants, see misbehaving kids, and wonder what was wrong with their parents. How could they possibly let their child sit underneath the table, and wipe his hands all over the very unclean ground? Gross, right? I’ve let Little do that. And I’ve let him do a lot of things that are borderline gross, to downright disgusting. Because you have to choose your battles. He wants to squeeze his ketchup into his water, stir it with a cheese stick, and then drink it? Fine. As long as he’s safe, not bothering anyone, and sitting, I don’t care. 

A while back when I was pregnant with Little, we had family staying with us, and their Little boy had a fever of 103. Hubby and I were flabbergasted as to how calm they were. We couldn’t understand why the child wasn’t being hospitalized. 103 seemed so high for a toddler. Now, 103 is peanuts. We’ve experienced even higher temperatures. However, we still call Little’s doctor several times, and he reassures us that no, we don’t need to call an ambulance.    

Crazy how things change when you have kids. All the preconceived notions I used to have of other parents and their kids behavior, I just have one thing to say; I’m sorry. So very very sorry. 
Baby steps, and please don’t judge me,

Roxy

  

I don’t expect you to understand-Noa’s Freestyle Fridays

This pregnancy has been so different in so many ways. I mean, if you think about it then it makes perfect sense-How can 2 pregnancies with 2 different souls be the same?

There are definitely things I didn’t expect such as being sick all the way to 40th week, when with my first I didn’t. I also didn’t expect to not be able to workout because of placenta previa, when I was hiking and working out all the way to delivery with my first (and no, it didn’t help with easy labor or the bouncing back, weight wise, in case you were wondering).

 

angry_prego

There are some new things added to that list of not expecting though. I don’t expect moms who gave birth 30, 40 years ago to understand that:

  1. Making faces does NOT mean I’m angry its just that damn nausea
  2. Having dark circles under my eyes does not need a follow up question “did you sleep well”?, since obviously I did NOT. And no, I don’t usually suffer from insomnia.
  3. Having a big belly does not mean I’m having twins, so stop asking me! (but of course those who had babies 40 years ago will claim that they were 100lbs with baby and 80lbs right after giving birth….Jeez louise)
  4. Vomiting in the morning does not mean I have the flu. I am pregnant!
  5. Don’t ask me what I’d like for dinner since obviously lunch didn’t hold up all that well
  6. Don’t wait for me to make you breakfast, lunch or dinner when my feet are so swollen they look like mini balloons

Here’s to week 40th and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel (baby, did you hear that? go for that tunnel…….mama is ready)

Happy Passover-the holiday of freedom and Happy Friday.

Noa

 

BIRTHFIT, Dadswagger, and TalkingBabyBumps

It is incredibly nice to be around like minded people. People who see that there is something so important missing in the birth world, in the world that represents women, and the world that represents family. I am speaking about a couple of ladies ahead of a big movement called BIRTHFIT. Dr. Lindsay Matthews (Founder) and Emily Russak (Head Coach) are making moves inspiring and empowering women to choose health in all its forms. They are leading women to actively participate in nutrition, mindset, chiropractic, and fitness during their journey from pre-natal care to postpartum care.

Last night, my husband and I stopped on over to their headquarters to sit down for a nice chat about all things birth. We spoke about our decision to choose a midwife, support during pregnancy, labor, post-partum, partners, family, and the future. Tonight we continued the conversation that needs to be had more often. A conversation about being informed about the decisions you make regarding your body and your family. They are important decisions that we sometimes make based on societal norms and what is expected, rather than information gathered and figuring out what falls in line with ones own beliefs.

Our goal here was to start conversation, and inspire conversation. It makes people uncomfortable to talk about all things baby making. It makes people uncomfortable to talk about baby making parts, we don’t even talk to our children using proper terminology. We don’t want to tell them that a boy has a penis, and a girl has a vagina. God forbid we use the P and V word.

These baby making conversations including sex, labor, birth, the pain, the discomfort of all the things that come along with pregnancy to post-partum and into parenthood. These conversations create new norms. These conversations push the boundaries where women can talk about being abused, where boys can talk about being sexually assaulted, because it doesn’t only happen to women. Let’s talk about these taboo topics so they are no longer taboo. So they don’t have to debilitate men and women.

These conversations push boundaries so the medical system can take a look at their practices, so more women can push through labor walking around and squatting rather than being attached to so many machines to monitor mama and baby during a low risk pregnancy. These discussions push doctors to take active roles in the care for pregnant and birthing mothers not just fifteen minute visits.

The power of these conversations, though they may not seem so powerful to some, are incredibly empowering to others. These conversations are not to judge other mothers, they are not to judge families but to make us question why we do the things we do. It doesn’t mean you have to change your decision. But take a second, think about what it is you are doing and the why behind it.

This all probably comes across as preachy. I would apologize, but I could not stress this enough. As mothers and families we need to cause change in society in order to gain support for our needs. We can’t do that if we don’t have honest conversations with each other. We can’t change those social norms or get what we need from those around us, without bringing awareness to the topics. No one is going to change a thing unless we ask for help. This is us asking for help. By telling our stories and sharing our opinions with one another we create strength in community. That strength in community no matter how small, spreads. It spreads to those who change legislation, to those who push our agendas.

I am honored to share this space, to share our voices and experiences with the amazing women at BIRTHFIT and the father of Dadswagger.

Check it out on itunes, Google Play, or click on the link over at BIRTHFIT next week, I lied- click on it now, they have very special ladies and gentleman, doctors, fathers, and athletes who share their stories.

We’ll keep the reminders coming.

Raffaella

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Disney with the Little

We finally did it. We took Little to Disneyland. A two year-old? Si, es posible. And enjoyable! Last week was our first time. We went on hubby’s birthday. Not exactly for his birthday, more like we went to Disneyland…and it was his birthday. Because what grown man wants to go to Disneyland on his birthday with a toddler? So why did we choose that particular day? It just worked best with his schedule and he’s a trooper, that one is.
I’ve never been one to plan Disneyland. Ever. Growing up in Orange County, I was lucky to have annual passes on/off so I had the opportunity to go often. There was never any pressure to go on a certain amount of rides or see a ton of parades during one visit. Sometimes we’d hop in the car at 8 PM, go on a ride, have my favorite chocolate ice cream, and go home. It was simple. This time, I found myself researching toddler appropriate rides and attractions a week in advance, and preparing an assortment of snacks the night before. I even pulled out a mini cooler with an ice pack! Not my style. But it helped with keeping my anxiety at a minimum…..as far as standing in lines and walking around all day.

We aimed for 9:00 AM, and strolled into the park at 12:00. One bag full of extra clothes, snacks and diapers to keep in the stroller at all times, and a mini one with me to cart any valuables and in-line distractions. We ate as soon as we got to the park, and headed to Pirates of the Caribbean. A 40 minute wait. Honestly, not as bad as I imagined. We took turns holding Little, and when he was all holded out we put him down with two gummy bears in his hand at a time. We pointed out everything we could see; Birds, people, kids not touching the rope dividers, etc. It kept him busy the entire wait. I was impressed. The ride itself was entertaining for him, and he sat in his seat without moving the entire time.

Tarzan’s Treehouse was right around the corner, so we headed over and went up and down the steps a few times. After, we decided to try the Mickey beignets I see pictures of everywhere. But we had to have the ones at Cafe Orleans that come with dipping sauce; A Raspberry Coulis and a Vanilla Bean Créme Anglaise. The beignets themselves were good; fluffy and light. The dipping sauces were what made them awesome. If you’re thinking about having beignets at Disney without the dipping sauces, don’t waste your time my friend. 

Once we convinced ourselves that we really shouldn’t order another, we headed to Toon Town to meet Mickey. Little’s face looked like his mind couldn’t process the amazingness around him fast enough. ‘Mommy, look,’ he said ten times in a row as he pointed everywhere. 

Mickey’s house was a huge hit. We enjoyed watching our favorite mouse’s laundry swishing away in the washing machine. At the end, Mickey was waiting for us to take pictures. Little couldn’t handle it. He couldn’t talk or move, just eyes fixated on his hero. As we were leaving, he flashed a huge smile, and yelled, ‘bye Mickey!’ The shock had dissipated. 

We ended the day with Small World, also a hit, and grabbed some ice cream on the way out. By this time, Little had passed out. 

All in all, I’d say a huge success. So glad we decided not to jam pack our day, two rides was more than enough, and I’m sure we’ll be back soon. 

If you’re thinking about going to Disneyland with your toddler, do it, it’s crazy how you can feel the magic through their eyes. It’s so worth it.

Baby steps, and pixie dust,
Roxy

  

He’s Not Me! -Noa’s Freestyle Fridays

When my partner and I were set up on a blind date (as blind as it gets with social media images and online profiles all over the net) and I opened the door I knew my search was over. We both knew this is it. His family being more conservative didn’t understand why we moved in 6 months after we met or why we were already talking about having kids, but if you know me you know that I don’t care what other people think and as long as we were on the same page that’s all that really mattered to us.

Even though we come from complete different backgrounds, different parts of the world, different language, different religion and different upbringing all together, our souls recognized each other, as if from lifetimes ago and connected on the deepest level.

Even now, years after that bind date, my love and respect for him and our little family has deepened tremendously and what seemed like differences have become blessings in our lives. Why do I mention all this? I’m not a nostalgic person. I mention it because when you are 9 months pregnant, your patience is out the door and with hormones going crazy you (and by you, yes, I mean me) need that reminder of who is with you on this crazy ride.

Yes, I catch myself getting upset about sox and underwear on the floor, or things that are not done exactly when I want them to be done or this and that, but I’m sooooo thankful for him being my anchor and I’m his fire, for him being so gentle and I’m aggressive, for him being patient and I’m… well not at all! for him being the sensitive Gemini that he is and I’m the Leo ‘I’ll punch your face if you mess with my family’, type of woman.

I’m blessed to have him as my equal partner, amazing father and my one and only soulmate in this parenthood and motherhood’s rollercoaster journey.

Thank you, my love!

Shabbat Shalom,

Noa