How we came to purchase our 1st home


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Photo by Miranda Lavender

This is not meant to be an advice article, we are complete newbies at home buying so this post is more about chronicling how we got here!

We have been toying with home ownership for about 4.5 years! After we graduated, Nate did not have a real job for a few months so we stayed with family. That was an incredible blessing and I hope to pay it forward in the future for our children or another young family. When he got his job, we got a realtor and almost bought a condo. But I just couldn't let myself buy something with no outdoor space for Bridger (he was a baby at the time). Luckily, we came across our rental and lived there for 4 years! With rent + utilities totaling $850/month, our little junky house couldn't be beat! But the catch was, the land had been re-zoned for high-density housing and could be sold at any time to developers.

Photo by Cate Johnson

So because of that, we continued to toy with the idea of buying. Sometime in 2014 we shopped around but with a budget of $150,000...the houses were so terrible that we put that idea quickly out of mind. (I'm talking about homes with 6 ft ceilings, dirt basement floors all on teeny lots.)

We even toyed with the idea of a tiny house. But like many tiny home enthusiasts have found, finding a place to park it is no easy task. The point of a tiny home is to park it on a beautiful piece of land so you can spend most of your time outside. But as much as we loved Utah, land prices were enormous! So this idea didn't last.

We continued to save and dream of a house all our own on a little property. In the meantime, we enjoyed the little rental and the big lot it sat on! We had a great neighborhood and friends close by. But with each addition to our family, that 800 sq ft got smaller and smaller! And the fact that it could sell to developers at any time hung over our heads. We never really felt settled.

Photo by Cate Johnson

As we dreamed of what we wanted in a future home, we realized how hard it would be to find in Utah. Every several months, Nate would spend a lot of time applying for jobs elsewhere. In fall 2015, he got a job offer in Maine but we ended up turning it down. Our rental was finally sold to developers and we wondered when we would need to move out.

The following fall (2016), we joined a rural housing development grant program. In Utah, it was known as Self Help Homes. Basically, you put in a bunch of sweat equity and get a new home at a smaller price. We were excited for a while but the lot was TINY and after getting a better idea of what was required (30 hours of work each week at specific times), we weren't feeling it anymore! And we realized, we don't even want to live in Utah...why would we sacrifice months and pay for this house if we don't want to really be here?! So we pulled out.

Anyway, the months went by. Nate had a job interview in Washington. Then he applied for a job in the Twin Cities. When neither of those worked out, we decided that we ought to try settling down in Utah once and for all. It felt good to make a decision on that! It helped that we were out tromping in the snow at Rock Canyon on a beautiful Utah winter day. So we got preapproved again (this time for more money, lol) and started shopping. Haley Ostler was so helpful for this! We even put an offer on a home in Provo. After we didn't get that one, nothing really felt right. A home would check all our boxes (or most of them!) but we couldn’t say yes. During this time, I found the Duluth job opening and Nate applied!

Saying yes to this job was so easy. We had been hoping for a change for years. We loved Utah and tried to appreciate each unique part of it but it never felt like home. We needed green. We needed water! We needed more space. And cheaper housing options!! (The homes we were looking at in Utah were $220-230k and the same kind of--or better--homes in Duluth were $160-190k). Some really cool things fell together for us. My midwife had spent a lot of time last year jumping through hoops for us and we were reimbursed for the majority of the cost of Riah’s birth! And we got a GIANT tax return. We were able to put that money away for a down payment. (In Utah, we had to apply for down payment assistance.)

So when Nate got to Duluth, he went to look at a home outside of Duluth in a rural area. The realtor was really pushy and it even though it was the first house he had seen, she told him to put an offer on it or there would probably be a bidding war. We had no idea what the market was like and decided to go ahead with the offer. When I saw it, I loved the land! Tons of space for letting the kids grow up wild. Wasn’t excited about the house at all. It had potential but needed some work. And with it being on a small river, the fear of a flood was very real. After the inspection, we decided to pull out. It had so many issues!! And it was at the top of our budget anyway.

Once we got a little settled in Duluth, I realized how much I liked being in town and we both liked being closer to Lake Superior. So we decided since this is our first home, trading in lots of land for being in town and close to Superior was a good deal. Getting a house way out in the country in a brand new place seemed really isolating. Anyway, we got a new realtor (we loved Liz!) and she took us to dozens of homes. We got close to offers on a couple others but weird maintenance things came up. The search was stressful but also fun! I loved going to see homes!

Photos by Miranda Lavender
We are so glad we found this home! It's super close to the Lake, in a nice neighborhood, no work is needed and it's beautiful! Despite it being on a city lot, we feel like we have a pretty good amount of space and we feel like we are still living by the majority of our values with big trails and parks are within walking distance. We can also walk to just about everything we really need (except our church is like 10 miles away). A grocery store, doctor, dentist, bakery and more are within a mile. We feel supremely lucky. In 7-10 years, we can think about a new place with land but for now, we are so excited to be settled into our first home!!

All photos minus the Utah home ones are by Miranda Lavender. We loved having her do our family photos at home!!

My Medicaid Story


Monday, July 24, 2017

When Nate and I got married in 2010, I was removed from my parents insurance. I signed up for the cheapest plan from the university (it did not cover maternity care), planning to start our family sometime after graduation. However, I become pregnant about a year later, several months before my planned graduation. I called BCBS of Florida to return to my parents insurance. This was a no-go due to me now having a “pre-existing condition,” in this case, being a sexually active woman who become pregnant. This was pre-Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare), which removed the ability of insurance plans to prevent someone from receiving insurance w/ a pre-existing condition. The school’s insurance plan for pregnant students was extremely cost-prohibitive. I can't remember the exact cost but the premium was hundreds of dollars a month. Absolutely impossible for a full time student who was also working part time. So like almost half of all pregnant women in the US, I applied for Medicaid. I spent hours filling out all the forms, obtaining all the necessary documents. We qualified, to my great relief. After 2+ months of pregnancy, I was able to get prenatal care. Despite our “plan” Nate and I did not have full time employment after graduation, so Medicaid was a godsend for us since I had Bridger just a few months after we graduated.

The current Republican leaders in Congress are now voting on new healthcare laws which would decrease funding for Medicaid and skyrocket healthcare costs. I promise you they are not thinking about the college students who are choosing life. They are not thinking about newborns who need quality healthcare. They are thinking of their friends in the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. They are thinking of their next elections, political gains and what praises their friends at Fox will give them.

Because of Medicaid, I was able to get high quality prenatal care. Because of Medicaid, I was able to give birth at a wonderful hospital with a caring staff. Because of Medicaid, Bridger had healthcare coverage for his entire first year.

When you think of a Medicaid patient, I hope you toss aside the uninformed stereotypes of people of color, unwilling to work who are greedy for handouts. Instead, I hope you think of a hard working college student ready and willing to bring life to earth. I hope you think of a system of healthcare that (perhaps imperfectly) facilitates the health and well-being of millions of children. I hope you think of me, I hope you think of Bridger.

“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matt. 25:40).

A few months after Bridger was born, Nate started full time work. We happily now pay into a system knowing that other families like us are getting the care they need. And we will happily pay more to see even more families receive better healthcare. To us, that's just part of being human. We take care of each other.

If you disagree with Medicaid cuts and rising healthcare costs, please call your Senators and House Representative.

The key to parenting without complete burnout


Thursday, July 6, 2017

Yesterday, Jessica Martin-Weber of the Leaky Boob and Beyond Moi shared a post on co-parenting that really hit home for me. I realized she was describing almost exactly my own experience. She really drives home what the key to parenting (and libido!) is for parents of young kids. She included a photo of her daughter sleeping next to her husband. I share my own photo, but these are her words:

This was my view when I woke up this morning. I opened my eyes and saw this scene and my heart swelled with love and gratitude. Gosh, I love this man deeply, passionately, and with so much gratitude.

Then, because I'm over half way through pregnancy, I had to pee. When I came back from the bathroom, I snapped this pic and slipped back under the sheets and scootched in close to them breathing in the love and safety of such a moment.

Confession: though the moment itself isn't sexy, seeing him like this is. Him gently and lovingly caring for our children is incredibly attractive. He has been like this with her for hours. For a moment I consider how I wish we could be alone together but I know he needs sleep (it was a late night) and I love this moment too much to wake him and draw him away for myself. But I promise myself to make sure we find time and space for that later. Frankly, over 20 years and 6 kids, a good part of why we have such an active sex life still is because of this. Him being so actively involved is not only attractive (and it is darn hot), it means I have the energy and interest because I'm not burned out/touched out/resentful.

As I write this, these two are still asleep cuddled up together. The house is quiet and I have a moment to enjoy having my own thoughts. How I love these two, this man and our child in his arms and our 5 other children. How much their love for each other means to me. How this man I've been with for over twenty years loves and cares for our children makes me fall ever deeper in love with him.

(It is worth noting, our other 5 offspring are asleep in their own beds because even if you cosleep as we have done with our babies and toddlers and preschoolers- they do eventually move on to their own sleep space. Contrary to what some say, they do learn to sleep on their own.)

She had a late night. Fireworks being set off around us until several hours past her bedtime, a busy day of swimming and playing and roasting marshmallows and eating BBQ chicken, excitement at holding showers of sparks in her hand (you could see her adrenaline rush), and distress over the hot red welts she develops when mosquitoes discover how sweet she really is, all led to an overtired and over-stimulated little girl at the end of the day. When she finally got to bed, sleep came easily.

But it didn't last. She woke scared, needing to pee, and seeking comforting cuddles in mommy and daddy's bed. We welcome this, our children deserve our attention and comfort during distress in the middle of the night just as much as in the middle of the day. Parenting never promised convenient hours. He must have heard her come in before I did because I woke up to him tenderly calling her to him and asking her to let me sleep as he tended her need for comfort. He does this often, even when I'm not growing a baby, more so when I am and my need for rest is doubled. We both do this, though we don't keep track, we take turns being the parent responding to our children's night time needs. In that moment he looked out for her and for me.

How I love him.

His capacity for love and how he demonstrates that for our children and for me wins my heart anew every time.

This was not the picture of fatherhood I once had. In fact, I didn't know men were even capable of such nurturing. These acts of responsive care were what I thought only mothers did, little did I know that not only are other parents just as capable, they can excel in it and there is much joy in such a partnership. Little did I know that seeing my partner be so engaged in actively parenting our children would have such an impact on me. Our coparenting has shifted and adjusted over the years, through different circumstances and our varied realities. But he has always been an active, equal coparent, whatever that looks like in a given moment, and has always been more involved than financial provider even when that was his primary role. He's always been more present than a paycheck.

Parenting is hard and beautiful and overwhelming all at once in even the best times. It is draining and exhausting and pushing our limits while being full of joy and connection and love.

Yet I'm often surprised at how often the hard parts of parenting aren't what stand out to me. That I'm not more tired. That I have as much interest and time and energy for my partner and yes, even for sex, that I do. But I know at least part of the reason why:

This right here.

Much of the reason that parenting hasn't left me burned out and overwhelmed and isolated is because of my partner. His equal involvement as an active co-parent has allowed me to be in a healthier place and, I know for a fact, has allowed our family to be in a healthier place. I am aware of how privileged I am in this. I am in awe of those parents that navigate parenting alone. As well as those who navigate parenting with a partner yet feel alone in parenting.

He would tell you it isn't extraordinary, that he doesn't deserve praise, and he's right about that. At the same time I know that this isn't something either of us saw, it isn't what society told us to expect and he is going off script and ad libbing this fatherhood gig.

And he's totally nailing it.

When people ask me how I handle so many kids, this is how. I saw my mom struggle with burn out constantly, partnered yet most often alone in the responsibility of caring for and nurturing my brother and sister and I. That burn out was real. I know I would be just as burned out if I didn't have an equal coparent. Equal in housework, home responsibilities, the invisible burdens of thinking through as planning for our home and family, in night time parenting, in infant and toddler care, in school work and life skills education, in supporting our teens... you name it.

I share this because moments of beauty are inspiring and I found this beautiful. I share this too to help normalize fathers as active, involved coparents. I share this to help destroy the stigma of daddies cuddling their children in bed in the middle of the night. To say to the parents doing it alone that they are amazing and have my respect and I'm cheering them on. To acknowledge that night time parenting is a thing. To express my gratitude that my partner values protecting my sleep and taking turns responding to the needs of our children. And yeah, to let some in on one of the libido secrets we've found.

I love this view. I love waking up to moments like this.

You can read her full post here.

Parenting is 24/7. Yes, they need our love all day and sometimes, many times, all night. And when you are lucky enough to have a partner that shoulders all of the burdens (and joys!) of parenting with you, you have the energy and capacity to have a full life. It's real life so it's not perfect but we love it so much. We have room for improvements of course but I just think that doing this so much together has made all the difference. I've always known marriage to be important but living it the past 6.5 years has repeatedly shown me that we have to be a team to create an enjoyable and rewarding family life. I know that I am lucky to have this partnership. For any mama that doesn't have this yet, I see you. And I know our Heavenly Parents see you too. Your rest is coming.

Where her's and my story is different is having a model for shared co-parenting and involved fatherhood. My parents were such a great example to us of sharing the load of family, parenting, outside work and housework. Both of my parents worked for most of my life. My dad made breakfast every.single.morning during the school year. He did dishes, he did laundry. I could go to him for questions, just like I could with mom. Perhaps they will argue with me, but from my point of view, everything seemed pretty egalitarian. Of course, this is real life so I'm sure it was never 50/50 all the time. That's impossible. But what they modeled in our home was what I came to expect. I expect Nate and me to shoulder the responsibilities of home and parenting TOGETHER because of what my parents modeled. So thanks, mom and dad. Every day I learn more about you and from you and I can't express my gratitude enough.

Sacred work of birth


Monday, July 3, 2017

"If a woman doesn't look like a goddess during labor, then someone isn't treating her right." 
-Ina May Gaskin.

I have often come across this quote and as much as I love Ina May, I have rolled my eyes. Yall, birth is HARD. It is WORK. You get sweaty. There are lots of smells. It hurts. My hair is crazy-looking, make-up is smeared. I'm wearing adult diapers for crying out loud! But I as was skimming through my birth photos, looking for something else for a project, this photo jumped out. It caught my breath!

In this moment, I am a goddess.
In a circle around me are women who know birth deeply.
I am being supported. Loved. Watched over.
My eyes closed, I am turning inward for strength. I find it in my breath, in my spirit, in the women before me and around me.
My hands are open, showing that I am open to receiving inspiration.
My brow is high, demonstrating the strength I am feeling.
My neck is tight, showing the intensity of the contraction.
Birth is work, sacred work. The work for a goddess.

This quiet moment means so many things to me. For one, it demonstrates why I love midwifery so much. Women, mothers, reign over the veil that enters into this life. I think midwives know this intuitively and allow the mother to reign there without unnecessary intervention. Of course, there is a need for physicians in many births, but midwives are the experts in normal birth. This connection of women between life here and life before has drawn me to birth so much lately. The possibility of midwifery school is years, perhaps decades, away. But I hope through what I say and write about birth now helps other women see it for the absolute miracle and symbol of Godliness it is.

Please know that you don't have to look like a goddess in *every* moment of birth. There are many moments I did not look like a goddess, believe me. I only post this to try and show a bit of my journey in learning more about the sacred work of birth.

This is also a good opportunity for a plug for birth photography. I am still learning new things about Riah's birth a year later because I have these photos. I am forever grateful my talented friend Cate gave us this amazing gift. They are an absolute treasure to me.

Baby Gear with the 3rd Baby


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Collecting our favorite baby gear into a post has been a fun tradition for me, so here goes round 3. As you can imagine, we have gone through quite a bit of gear and have learned a lot along the waythe past 4, (almost 5!) years. You can read my posts on Baby Gear with the 1st Baby and Baby Gear with the 2nd Baby.)

Quality first

First tip is to buy something that will last. Especially if you are planning on more than 1-2 kids. I'm also a big proponent of buying gear that is not only useful, but nice to look at. And less is always more. There are some things that kids grow out of so fast, it's not even worth buying. If you feel like you really need it, borrow or buy used. Bumbo seats, swings and activity chairs fit well into this category.

  • Car seat-- convertible only. Carseats are for cars, I don't understand infant carseats. We got one with Bridger and we took it out once for church and we swore we would never do it again. So cumbersome! Just hold your baby. I understand wanting to take it out while baby is sleeping but most experts recommend taking baby out once you get home anyway. A good convertible will last you from newborn to 5 years old. More money in your pocket.
  • Carrier or 2 (or 5 ;). I did a whole baby carrier review a while back. I should do another sometime soon!
  • Baby comfy nose--probably the best baby product you can get other than a carrier. The amount of snot you can get it is draw-dropping and the icky factor is completely zeroed out when your sick baby is able to stay latched because their nose is clear.
  • Puj (travel size). Had the normal size with Bridger and got rid of it when he outgrew it because it was bulky to store. The travel size is much better!
  • Crib side-car. (Crib attached to parent bed).
  • Stroller--still love (and miss) our Chicco Liteway. If we had more space, I would have kept it. We have the City Select now. It is definitely an investment at the retail price of $750. But I paid $450 for our’s, including the 2nd seat. There are so many sales all year round, don't pay more than $500 for it. But I think there are so many kinds of strollers, it's all about your personal taste and where you'll be using it the most often. I just love that all 3 can be in the stroller if I need to move fast. (You'll need the ride board to fit 3 kids.) I actually haven't used it in months...maybe because we aren't out and about as much in the winter. But our boys are so big now they don't want to be pushed so much.
  • High chair: IKEA. Got our’s for $1 at a yard sale. Score!
  • Bamboobies: the best nursing pads, period. I wrote all about nursing pads for Lactation Link recently.
  • Diapering: still using Amazon Subscribe & Save for Luvs. Still use a travel changing pad on the bedroom floor. So proud of myself for never buying a big changing table or pad! Just one more thing they can't fall out of.
  • Silicone bibs w/ pockets. Trust me. Get them.
real life right here. high chair in the bathroom so i can shower :)

Nice to have
  • Bumbo. Got one for $10 at a yard sale for Colden and saved it for Riah. It's really only used for a couple months. But it's fun to help them feel big and sitting up.

Things we haven't used
  • Activity chair etc. Borrowed or bought one used for Colden and Bridger but we didn't get one for Riah. There were definitely times I wished for something to put her in, but then I just put her in the wrap and that moment passed. She was quickly sitting up and crawling around on her own.
  • Swing: only used for a few months with Bridger. Didn't use for Colden or Riah.

Wish we would have gotten…

  • Cloth diapers. I really wish we would have bitten the bullet and just done cloth diapers. We gave it a half-hearted shot with Bridger. But we didn't have a diaper sprayer, so my hands were in a lot of poop. And Nate was NOT interested in going along with my hippy-ways so it didn't work out. But every month I see our big box of diapers delivered...I die a little inside (and so does the earth!). And 3 kids and $2000 later...I definitely have regrets.
  • Diaper Genie: Maybe it's all the diapers, maybe it's the potty training, maybe it's the old house...but our house smell leaves something to be desired. We do put poopy diapers outside ASAP.  Maybe a diaper genie would have helped...maybe not.

What babies really need
Babies don't really need much stuff. What families really need is education and support. Education on how to breastfeed and support to bond with their baby as long as needed. I wrote about this more in-depth a while ago, "Looking Past the Baby Registry." What were your baby necessities? Things you wish you would have had?

Our crib sidecar sleeping arrangement


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sleeping arrangements for our other babies
For our two oldest, we had various sleeping arrangements but I knew for our third baby that we wanted something a little easier to keep baby close at night. Bridger, our oldest, always slept in a pack 'n play in our room and I had to get out of bed and get fully woken every time he needed to nurse during the night. And then after the last time each night, he usually just stayed in our bed anyway. Colden, our second, was similar but we kept the pack n' play a little closer to our bed. So when this baby came, I just wanted to be able to roll over and feed her without all the getting up. We kind of fell into co-sleeping with the others so this time around I wanted to be a little more intentional about it. I had read about the Safe Sleep 7 from Sweet Sleep and felt good about co-sleeping from the get-go after knowing we could follow those. 

Side car for new baby
The crib side-car seemed to be the most economical solution. There are co-sleepers on the market but the baby quickly grows out of them. And our older kids end up in our bed at some point during the night half the time anyway, so we really just needed a bigger space for all of us to fit! Buying a king sized mattress seems like an obvious choice but I wanted to be able to keep the baby in the bed without risk of her falling out!

We scoured the internet for tutorials on crib sidecars and never really found a true tutorial. I wish I could share an easy step-by-step with you but each bed is so different that you really have to wing it. However, we did stick to a few principles (some can be found in the Safe Sleep 7). 

  1. Crib mattress flush with the adult mattress. They had to be the same height.
  2. No gaps between the mattresses or between the crib mattress and crib rails.
  3. No gaps between crib and wall. 
How we made it work
So when we started this, our bed was on a traditional box spring, bed frame and then risers (for under bed storage). Living in 800 sq ft, we needed to keep the under bed storage, so we needed a way to keep that but lower the overall height of the bed. 

Box spring to bed slats
We ended up leaving the risers but got rid of the box spring.  Nate cut slats that fit in the bed frame and then our mattress went on top of that. You can find tutorials for this or you can buy them from Ikea. Makes you wonder why on earth we are sold bulky, unnecessary box springs!

Height of crib bottom
The Ikea crib (Sniglar) we chose comes with two pre-cut heights for the crib bottom. Neither of these would make the crib mattress flush with our mattress. So we measured the height of our bed by   measuring from the floor to the top of our mattress. Then used that measurement to make new holes in the crib frame for the crib bottom with the electric drill. This way, the mattresses would be flush. 

No gaps
Then we attached the crib to our bed frame with 2 heavy duty ratchet straps (like you would use to attach a kayak to the top of your car). I added a pool noodle, seen below, to keep the mattresses pushed together really well. But the older boys just steal it all the time to play with it. So we just make sure to push the mattresses close together if they spread any. Sometimes I will lay a baby blanket under the baby and me so there isn't any risk of her falling in a theoretical gap but it's not something I really worry about. The crib mattress is the right size for this crib so there isn't ever really any gap.

So that's pretty much it! I hope this gets you a better idea of how to make it work. Baby is 10 months now and still sleeping like this. We love it. I lay next to her at night and just have to roll over to nurse! Even with her being the third baby and adding a baby to a family with a 3 yr old and 2 yr old, the newborn period was so much easier this time because I got REST! She would murmur in her sleep and I could roll over to feed. Then when she was done, I could, mostly in my sleep, pull my shirt back down and roll back onto my pillow or stay curled around her in the sidelying position. And she was much happier than my other newborns because she didn't need to cry to be fed at night. I could answer her needs much faster. <3

Once she started rolling, we used the Dockatot on the floor for naptime. And now that she has grown out of the Dockatot, her naps are either in the carrier on me, on the bedroom floor on a blanket or on the bed while I am working on the computer nearby.

This was taken one night that Nate was out of town, so other than him not being in this photo, this is a pretty good visual of what our bed looks like many nights. We put the boys to bed in their own beds and I used to hate when they came into our bed. But I've learned that this is normal. When put it into  global evolutionary and anthropological terms, this is how the majority of humans sleep and have slept for millennia. Right next to their family members. For protection, for food, for warmth, for simple human comfort. I've learned to embrace it and it sure feels good to parent instinctively.

And yes, we did use a Dockatot for a few months but not every night or nap. It's a good tool if you have concerns about rolling onto your baby but I wouldn't characterize it as a necessity.

If you are thinking about bedsharing, I would urge you to read about the Safe Sleep 7 and pick up a copy of Sweet Sleep. It takes the fear-mongering out of the sleep debate and gives you the facts, all based on the best available evidence.

I hope this give you an idea of what one possible sleep arrangement looks like. Every family and every baby has different needs but this is what is working for us...right now.

More reading on infant sleep
Sweet Sleep
Our Babies, Ourselves
The No-Cry Sleep Solution

The Myth of Sleeping through the Night
Sleep Needs Versus Sleep Wants
This is Why Your Baby Doesn't Sleep through the Night
Here are Some Lies People Tell You About Infant Sleep
Why Your Newborn Should Not Be Sleeping through the Night

Getting it right: Birth & breastfeeding in Jane the Virgin


Monday, August 1, 2016

Happy World Breastfeeding Week!

I've been bingeing on Netflix's Jane the Virgin lately. Have you seen it? My roommates and I watched lots of cheesy telenovelas in college so watching this is just like old times. It's full of drama and humor. And I love the main character! Here's the rundown: basically, Jane gets accidentally artificially inseminated by some guy's sperm when she was supposed to be only getting a pap smear! (reason #57 to skip the pap!) This guy turns out to be her new boss which she kissed 5 years ago, then she meets her dad for the first time, she falls in love with her baby daddy, breaks her fiance's heart...oh and there is a drug lord taking over the hotel she works at and's a true telenovela. point in writing this is that she is pregnant and has her baby in the first season and is raising a newborn in the second. The series perpetuates a few myths about birth and breastfeeding that I want to address!

1. Doulas. This subject is actually done okay. She learns about doulas from a "natural mom" at Target. Her family makes fun of the idea. But she considers how nice it would be to have someone there just for her, to guide her through the birth process. She doesn't end up hiring one.

2. Babywearing. I was just bothered by the "natural mom's" wrapping job. This mom gives Jane some advice (in a snotty tone that I didn't appreciate) about natural/modern parenting. And really? They couldn't have someone come on the show and teach this lady how to actually wrap? The baby is falling out of her wrap. Sigh.

3. Lactation class. Jane wants to go to a lactation class and her mom and Rafael laugh about it and "why would you need a class for that?" Uh. I had this same attitude! Sad. Anyway, she goes to the class with her mom and the teacher gives some good advice untilllll she tells her to lean over the baby so it doesn't choke on her milk. Um, what? That makes no sense. The opposite is actually true. Leaning over your baby is just going to give you a backache. Leaning back, however, allows baby to latch easier and slows down your milk so your baby doesn't choke/struggle with a heavy flow of milk.

Lactation class round 2. Shortly after Mateo is born, she is having some struggles breastfeeding and they go back to the lactation class. She tells the lactation specialist that she is struggling and in a room full of other moms, the lactation specialist asks to see her nipple. In real life, the lactation specialist would have given her privacy and one-on-one attention for her specific issue. However, after this visit, she says the latch is improved. So, props for lactation professionals!

4. Birth. I thought this was actually done pretty well. Jane's birth experience really resonated with me and my experience giving birth to Riah. Lots of "I can't do it" with deep breathing. Thank goodness the "hee-hoo-hee-hoo" breathing of the past is gone! Of course, it's made super dramatic as her labor starts suddenly on the bus while in traffic, yada yada.

4. Asking for help. Loved how Jane accepts help from her mom and her mom dives in.

4. Scheduled feeds. Jane is an organized person and they make a big deal out of Mateo eating every 3 hours. Scheduled feeds are actually connected with slower weight gain and early weaning. Letting baby set his own pattern and feeding on his cues is the recommendation for successful breastfeeding. That is, as long as baby is eating 8-12 or more times in a 24-hour.

5. Cluster feeding. Newborn Mateo is feeding every half an hour and all the women in the house are perplexed. Jane is frustrated and doubting herself. Rafael enters the room and proclaims that Mateo is probably cluster feeding to encourage her milk to come in. "I read it in the book," he says. Go dad! Happy to see a dad supportive in word and deed of breastfeeding. The next scene is great when her mature milk comes in and leaks through her shirt. She dances back to her baby. Cute moment.

6. Pumping and dumping while drinking. Jane goes out to a club with her friend Lina for Lina's 25th birthday and she brings along her pump. Love that they normalize pumping and the need to express milk when away from baby. There was cute moment between Jane and Lina sitting on the bathroom floor while Jane was pumping. However, she proclaims that she will be "pumping and dumping" so she can drink with her friend. This actually isn't always necessary. Since alcohol (and anything else the mother ingests) goes through our digestive system BEFORE affecting our milk, she would not have needed to dump the milk she pumped at the club. Depending on how much she drank, she would only need to avoid nursing for a few hours after her last drink. The usual recommendation is that if you are sober enough to drive, you are sober enough to drink. Kellymom has more about this.

7. "He's weaned off of me!" Jane goes to an overnight writer's retreat and Rafael keeps the baby. She forgets the pump cord and Rafael comes by to drop it off. Since Mateo is hungry when they get there, she decides to feed him instead of pump. But Mateo will not latch after almost an hour of trying. In frustration, they give him a bottle and he drinks hungrily. She is noticeably upset that he couldn't latch after only being away from her for several hours. Instead of working on getting baby back to breast with a lactation professional, she pumps exclusively for several months. By pumping every 3 hours (night and day) Jane becomes a slave to the pump and it literally runs her into the ground. Exclusive pumping moms are awesome. But I wish the show would have taken the opportunity to show the benefit of lactation support. Which would have made total sense because Jane had already benefited from lactation support before. After several months of pumping, she and Rafael decide it's okay for her to stop pumping. She is very relieved. I wish they could have ended this subject on a better note but it was nice to see a mom and dad making such a tough decision together.

What do you like or dislike about Jane the Virgin? I could do without some of the characters (Louisa!) and naughty stuff!

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