How We Bring Our Children Into This World.

In leiu of my birthday this week, it got me thinking about, well, birth.

I didn't give much thought to child development, behavior, and psychology until I had one growing inside of me. But four kids later, I can't help but wonder how much of their development, behaviors, and psychology is determined by how we bring them into this world. How much do the choices we make for them in the beginning affect how they turn out in the end?

Well, there's no doubt that this is a very deep, complex, comprehensive topic full of scientific research and statistics. For example, if you look up 'Natural Childbirth' on Wiki, you can find stats like, "A recent study revealed the rates of medical intervention in childbirth in the U.S. found that 93% of mothers used electronic fetal monitoring; 63% used epidurals; 55% had their membranes ruptured; 53% received oxytocin to stimulate labor progress; and 52% received episiotomies." And then you can say, great, but how did these women feel their choice impacted the future of their child? And, how are those kids doing now. Well, there are a gazillion of online communities that have another gazillion differing opinions on that subject. And let's face it, most kids who came into this world by a calm, drugged-up mother are just potentially brilliant as the one who was pushed out with momma on her hands and knees, wailing in pain, flailing her arms and legs in utter disillusion, and screaming for God to just 'take her now'.

At, they offer up all the reasons, that are stated as factual and not opinion, why I chose to have my first baby naturally. I was in a hospital, but I received no medical intervention. Check it out at They say at the bottom of the page that they hope these facts are disturbing. Well, of course they are, but so is the hair that grows out of my mole that I don't see for about a month. We get a little overcome by all that is going on in our lives that we miss the details every now and then, even on the truly important things. Not to mention that some of us are just wimps.

So rather than get into all that, let's just discuss it from how we mothers, on a day-to-day reality-check basis, must deal with our children's arrival, and the thereafter. Let's find where the grass is greener when it comes to that crucial moment of saying hello to that human being that you suddenly love more than anything else in the whole world, and knowing that everything you just did in the process has an everlasting effect.

I will do so by giving personal examples.

My first child, as I mentioned before, was a natural birth. Not a home birth, but one free of drugs, tools, and machines. Just me and the hands of my midwife. I was the woman described earlier. You could hear me for miles. I'm pretty sure I saw one nurse covering her ears. My daughter faught my urges for her to enter this world, getting a shoulder stuck and just hanging out when I was at a 10. She took her sweet time. She wanted to come into this world perfect; and what do you know, afterwards all everyone could comfort me with, despite all my pain and misery and exhaustion, was that I had a TEXTBOOK labor. Well, woohoo.

To this day, her teacher's say she takes such time and caution with her work. She can navigate any situation with ease, stay in the driver's seat, and doesn't feel the pressure to be hurried. She is a perfectionist, and will work through her frustration to get it right. Yet she is compassionate, and kind. When it comes to the supposed myths of birth order of the first child and the type A personality, she's textbook.

The second time around, I didn't want to go all nat-u-ral, but I couldn't convince myself to do the epidural. So I labored for hours and hours and finally got the intrathecal; just a spinal block. Ahhhhhhhhhh! Baby came three hours later. It had worn off then, so the end had a bit of a bite to it, but at least I had some relief prior to it, a calm before the storm.

This child has a compassion and sweetness undefined, and many comment about her being 'an old person in a young person's body." However, she is not passive. You mess with her or her friends and family and she 'bites' back. Hmmmm.

Number three. Okay, I must admit, I just wanted to be reading people magazine and, boom, out pops the babe. So I got the epidural. But surprise, surprise, it didn't work. So my right leg was high as a kite but my birth canal was on fire. The epidural didn't cooperate, and guess what, neither does my third child. But she's still precious and only three years old, so let's just call her 'spirited'.

Here we come to the euphoric ending. My fourth. My only boy. This time, I was reading People magazine, and my midwife came to check me and said, "oh, well there's a head". Peaceful. Easy. Lovely. Quiet. Instantly breastfed with ease. And at 5-months old, he is still all of these things. Thank you, God!

So, in regards to point #1, does our childbirth choice affect our babies. I'd have to say yes, it does. For point #2, where is the grass greener in childbirth choices, I'd still have to say that it's debatable and personal, but for me, and remember, I'm a wimp, the fourth time was a charm. And despite four totally different birth experiences, I have four charming children.

The Birthday Bash at 38.

Boy, have birthdays changed. If you've read Koren Zailckas's book Smashed, then you'll get the idea of how I spent my birthdays from about age 18-28. Horrifying! Last Saturday night was much more like it.

Even a few years ago, I felt like having a night out with as many girls as possible, swigging IPAs and staying out late enough so that my husband had to put the kids (and himself) to bed was the perfectly manicured lawn of birthday parties. But I think I finally stumbled upon my grassiest birthday.

Last Saturday night, a friend and I had decided to finally try to get together and do a craft project we had been discussing for 18 months. I pondered a babysitter to watch the kids so we could have focused 'adult time', but decided to invite my mom too, who ensures that my crafts don't look like my 2-year-old did it, and also she was watching my niece and nephew that night so it's always fun to have them over to play with my kids. It was all set and then I ran into a neighbor, a single mom with one boy about the age of my oldest, and offered for them to join us.

Well, after we four women devoured two bottles of wine, it was project time. The kids were happily fueled up on pizza and sprite, wrecking havoc on our upstairs, which at the time I had completely blocked out from my conscious.

The two year old was the first to discover our project. We were doing decopauge, which involves glue, water, and basically equals a total nightmare for anyone ages 3 and under. Pretty soon, my toddler was in my lap, holding my paintbrush, glue in her hair and mine, my decopauge all wrinkled and ripped, and when it was finished, she held up the wine-corkboard we co-created and said, "It's so beautiful!" How could she NOT be right?! By now, all of the other kids were on top of each other around our kitchen table, grabbing everything from our craft drawers and inspiring one another's creativity, making everything from bunny rabbits to indian headbands.

So much for adult time.

Now I will never forget my 38th birthday, when I laughed harder than all the rest combined, and ended up with a 'beautiful' joint project that will forever mark a unique moment in the relationship between my sweet little toddler and me.

I also gained a new nickname. Before Caitlin decided to be my decoapuge assistant, I was already halfway though gluing on the wine corks before my friend even finished one side of her frame in decopauge. Of course, this was because she admitted to her obsessive-compulsiveness and how it had to be perfect. I commented that I don't have time for perfect, so when it comes to things like this, I alwasy just 'bust it out.' My hilarious neighbor yelled out, 'BIO, that's totally you'. My new nickname. It's perfect, BIO is my BIO, because with four kids, I have no time to write a BIO. That's my life, I'm just busting it out.

Everyone left by 10:30, which was already one and one-half hour past my bedtime, but my sweet mom had cleaned up my kitchen and my kids were dragging me to bed with them.

So what do you think? Is your birthday party grass greener with or without kids?

The only gifts I received were the laughter and joy of being with a couple of friends, my mom, and my husband and kids. That beats the gift of a hangover anyday.

Cloth vs. Disposable

Ok. So there is really no question as to what is obviously greener, in environmental terms, anyway. But this blog wants to know where the grass is greener for the mama.

I must admit that I have most likely contributed about 500,000 diapers to the landfills. Ignorance is responsible for my first two babies, and pure laziness for our third. But now, thanks to the unintended motivation by a friend, I've joined the cloth wagon. And it's fabulous. First of all, you can save $15o0 to $2000 in diapers over the life of the average need for them. That is green mama point #1.

Then, of course, we can feel good about our contribution to the environment. But what are the other reasons? Trendy? Cute diaper covers? Better for baby's bottom? You tell me. I say all of the above. I'm not even going to begin to go back and figure out how much money we could have saved by going cloth from the start. Pretty sure it's enough to have put at least one of our four through college.

It could be recent findings about disposables, like this one I found on the website of Nicki's Diapers, that read: "Disposable diapers could be the cause of the sharp rise in male infertility over the past 25 years, according to an authoritative scientific study..." Wow. Don't know about you but I be wantin' me some grandbabbies---someday---my boy is 5 months old.

But if it really is that you're an authentic tree hugger, then these outrageous statistics should be enough: one baby can produce 2 tons of landfill waste, there is serious threat contamination due to human waste spilling over from landfills, and diapers can take 500 years to decompose. That is like when, your great, great, great, great grandboy walks this earth; but who knows, by then they will probably have diapers made out of renewable bamboo, that change themselves and disappear into thin air.

And then of course, it really is about the trees; each baby in disposables consumes 4.5 trees in their life in diapers (all this info also from Nicki's diapers website.)

We do still use a disposable at night. Mostly because I am one-eyed cocked tired at 12am and 4am when I feed the little man, and if I had to change a diaper, it might end up on his head. Some day care facilities do not allow cloth. Our preschool does not do cloth, the ski mountain day care was more than happy to, but the healthclub was a no-no. I don't blame them; a blow-out in cloth diapers can take over the whole diaper changing station. While it takes some getting use to, I say cloth is greener grasses. It's way easier than it seems, despite its intimidating prowl. Once you run a load and accept the smell of lavendery-urine as your laundry room scent, you're good to go, and one more step for the planet and your wallet.