Environmentally Conscious Toddler Gift Guide!

No matter what holiday you celebrate, I think we can all agree that things are becoming very materialistic and people are becoming overly greedy. Presents are being bought in excess and the ‘meaning of the season’ has become new toys, electronics and clothes. Supporting huge corporations and adding ever more to the piles of waste. On top of that, most children’s toys these days break within a week and are made by children the same age or younger then the children we are gifting them too, in foreign countries, getting paid .07 cents a day.

And just for you gals and guys, I thought I’d compile a small gift guide of some of my favorite gift ideas for toddlers the holidays this year!!

The best option would be to make things yourselves. However, I know not everyone is artistically inclined or is able to sew/knit/crochet. If you knit or crochet, check out Raverly for tons of free patterns for anything you can think of! Great knit/crochet ideas for toddlers/older babies would be blocks, balls, stuffed animals, mittens, hats or slippers. If you sew check out Pinterest or All Free Sewing for patterns and ideas! I think I’ll be sewing some little stuffed veggies this year for Delilah, and putting them in a little garden basket. I may even make a little garden bed cushion she can ‘plant’ the veggies in and pick them into her basket!

Now, for those of you that can’t, don’t have the time or aren’t able to make all homemade gifts, I’ve found a few super awesome gifts to buy!

Batsiranai Sharing Doll
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Delilah is actually getting one of these from her grandma this year. It’s handmade in Zimbabwe and certified fair trade (meaning it was made by adults who were all fairly compensated!). Besides the fact that it’s adorable and is baby wearing a little baby in a sling (!) whenever you purchase one, they give the same doll to a child in a heavily HIV/AIDS infected infected area! So really, you’re buying your child a doll, then buying one for a less fortunate child who may not even have a toy!

Handmade, personalized blocks

I came across these the other day, and fell in love! You can get any amount of letters you want and you can pick which letters! The whole alphabet, numbers, pictures, your child’s name, blank blocks, shapes. It’s really cool! The awesome thing, is the family who makes them, also uses organic oils and beeswax to coat them using materials they grow themselves on their farm! How cool is that?? They are completely safe an non-toxic so children who are teething can enjoy them as well as older children! PLUS they donate to the Peace Corps with every purchase!

A basket of fresh, farmer’s market veggies

Farmers Market Basket of Veggies

I love this play food! Make a play ‘farmer’s market’ in the house and buy veggies in your basket! You can pick whatever veggies you like for in the basket! Totally homemade by ‘Locally Sewn Produce‘ (see what she did there!!) based out of Iowa. Plus, she has a ton of other options in her shop if you want to add some other veggies.

Wooden TrucksWooden Toy Trucks and Wooden Toy Cars Wooden Toys Organic Walnut Set of 6

These awesome trucks and cars are hand crafted from quality wood and finished with beeswax! This particular link is for a whole collection of trucks, but they can all be purchased individually for those on a budget! I think they are so pretty and we might be getting Delilah one of these from me and her dad this season!

Felted Number Eggs
Needle Felted Eggs with numbers, Made to order

Learns numbers and learn where eggs come from! Put these little guys under a toy chicken and have them count the eggs as they collect them. Perhaps put them with the farmer’s market veggies I mentioned earlier! Or have them pretend with you while you prepare eggs for breakfast. Plus, there is a little bell in each egg! So they can make noise while they play, what’s better then noise??

Do you have a favorite gift idea? Do you make gifts yourself? Do you make gifts and sell them? Feel free to link them in the comments!

I definitely urge you to go at least partially handmade for the holidays this year!

Til next time,

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When (and how!) to strip cloth diapers

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As of today (our daughter’s 7 month birthday) we have been cloth diapering for 3 months. And its going great! I love it and don’t plan to quit. But there comes a time when the diapers themselves want to quit. Which is when they need ‘stripped’. Stripping them just means you strip the fabric of all the build up.

There are a few times in a diapers life that it needs stripped and it will indicate to you its time. Cloth diapers have 2 different, distinct smells that indicate stripping is necessary.

The barnyard stink and the ammonia stink. They are both caused by build up in the diaper and are totally normal. So don’t be freaking out if your diapers smell like a farm or ammonia. (Ammonia is in urine, that’s where it comes from). Build up can also be caused from other things like detergents or oils.

Another sign your diapers need stripped is when they start to leak. A lot. The build up makes the diapers less absorbent.  Your actually supposed to strip brand new diapers prior to use to increase the absorbancy.

The last, and worst, sign is if your baby cakes is getting diaper rash that won’t clear up.

So in short, the 5 main times to strip cloth diapers are-

1- When they are brand new
2- When they smell like a farm
3- When they smell like ammonia
4- When they start to slack off in their absorbency
5- Your squish butt is getting extra rashes that won’t clear up

So now you know when, but how?

There are a few different methods, but I’m gonna show you my favorite.

This way is chemical free and works wonderfully. Its time consuming, but worth it.

You will need:

Clean diapers
A stove
Water
A large pot(s)
Vinegar (optional)

Fill the pot(s) most of the way with water and put the over medium heat. Get the water hot, steaming, but not boiling. If your stripping them to remove a stink, you can add a tablespoon or two of vinegar, it removes the smell. If your pots are big enough you might be able to fit up to 4 diapers, mine only fit 2 so I usually have 2 pots going at once to make it faster.

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Leave them in for 20 minutes each, stirring occasionally so nothing gets stuck. Get them out with a pair of tongs and hang them to dry. Voila! Stink free, absorbent diapers!

Go get stripping =)

~Courtney, The Crunchy Delinquent

A basket of apples through a baby’s eyes

Today’s post may not be about health or wellness, recipes or projects, or any of the other usual stuff, but its short and sweet and I hope it gets you thinking.

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The other day me and my six and a half month old daughter went to my mom’s house to do laundry. She was making a ton of homemade applesauce for my wedding reception this weekend (because she’s amazing like that). The apples she was using were off of the tree in my sister’s back yard. They were very misshapen (hey, they weren’t sprayed with horrible pesticides that make them look perfect!) they had holes and bruises that needed cut out and some bugs in them. They were (and are) still tasty and perfectly edible, they are just an eyesore!

Delilah was crawling around the floor getting into everything, like babies do, and found the basket of apples. She climbed up over the edge and reached inside.

She was in total awe. These were the coolest, most amazing, awesome things she had ever laid eyes on. There were tons of them, the pile was 3 times as big as she is, they were shiny, they are all bright red and pretty. She daintily touched each apple, picked them up and put them down, stared at them, smiled and talked to them. She ran her tiny fingers over them and felt them.

These ugly, misshapen apples off of a little backyard apple tree were the coolest things little Delilah had ever seen.

Most adults would have looked over them,  said how gross they were, thrown them out or let animals eat them and move on.

But not Delilah.

Because through the eyes of a baby, everything is beautiful and everything is amazing. Everything is something new and exciting. Babies see the beauty in everything and the good side of everything. Dirty, grungy apples become beautiful, amazing red things.

Adults seem to lose this more and more the older they get. The amazing things in life are just blah and ordinary.

Take the time today to put on baby goggles.

Look at the world as if you’ve never seen it before and really look at everything around. The earth truly is amazing. Life is amazing.

Embrace it.

Be happy.

~Courtney, The Crunchy Delinquent

How to Make Flower Chain Jewelry

This week my house is a mad house. Delilah has decided that sleeping is optional and is (I believe) either having a growth spurt or teething. She’s up every half hour/hour to eat at night and fussy all day. I was planning on making some fancy Pad Thai with jackfruit seeds for dinner tonight and got as far as cooking and chopping the seeds, when Delilah decided I didn’t need to finish.

So today’s post is going to be short, sweet and just for fun =)

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This really is one of the easiest crafts out there, but its so much fun and a surprising amount of people don’t know how to do it!

The first step is to pick flowers. We used white clover flowers for ours. Make sure you pick them with stems long enough to tie into a knot (or have super nimble fingers so you can tie short lengths of stem!). Pick at least a dozen for a necklace, or 4-ish for a child sized bracelet. Its really a matter of how long the stems are and how big or small your body is.

What you do is take two flowers (flowers a and b) and tie flower A’s stem in a knot right behind flower B’s flower.

Like this-

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You have to be very gentle when you tighten the knot or you’ll just rip the stems and have to start over. And that’s it! Just keep tying on more flowers until you’ve reached the length you want.

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You can do this with all kinds of flowers and thoroughly impress anyone under the age of 10!

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Rory and Gage (my niece and nephew) were both very excited to get necklaces and bracelets made from flowers. My niece, Rory, had me make a, ‘Bracelet for Delilah’s foot.’ Also know as an anklet. And Gage, my nephew, had to have a bracelet for each arm and a necklace. Just like all the other cool kids have.

Now you know how to make flower chains! Maybe you’ll even come up with a non-child use for them =)

~Courtney, The Crunchy Delinquent

10 Tips to Happier Breastfeeding!

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Even Delilah loves raw milk!!

Before I go to far on this I’d like to let you know that I’ve only been breastfeeding for 5 months and only 1 baby. So if your looking for advice on tandem nursing, or nursing a toddler or medical advice, I won’t be any help. However, if your pregnant with your first or a new mommy, I can definitely help you through the roughest part… The beginning!!

I knew from the moment I found out I was pregnant I wanted to breastfeed, exclusively, for at least 6 months and continue to breastfeed until she weaned herself. My ego got all huge and I was sure it was going to be easy. I mean, its natural. I have boobs, the baby will be hungry, what more could happen??

Wrong-o.

After my obnoxiously long, slow, stupid labor, I was looking forward to my nice, easy breastfeeding adventure. I was going to be the girl whose baby just started eating and never caused a problem.

Tip #1- Cockiness gets you nowhere.

Delilah had a tongue tie that was undiagnosed by the hospital’s (not very smart) lactation consultant. Our very first breastfeeding session went smoothly, she was a natural, I was a natural, it was great! Our second, not so much. She was biting and pulling away and it hurt. I couldn’t get her to latch right and the nurses were no help. After 45 minutes, she ate a little bit and we went to sleep. The next 2 weeks were like this. It HURT!! Both of my nipples were dry, cracked, bruised blood blisters. Around 2 weeks old we saw a smart, kind lactation consultant and she scheduled a procedure to get her tongue tie clipped (not as scary as it sounds). So by the time she was 3 weeks old it was corrected. She finally learned a good latch at 5 weeks old.

But the pain up to that point was so unbearable I honestly wanted nothing more then to stop breastfeeding. I wanted to bottle feed. Being 100% honest, I would have stopped if formula weren’t so expensive. I hated it. She was super gassy, fussy, whiny, she screamed constantly, I tried cutting things out of my diet, nothing helped and nothing calmed her down.

Until 5 weeks, she screamed 4 hours straight every night before bed with no calming down.
I was sure she’d sleep if I gave her formula.

I couldn’t feed her without lifting my whole shirt up to my neck and having my whole chest exposed, and it was too uncomfortable to feed her in public. Going out was horrible and difficult. But I had stuff to do so I had to go out sometimes.

I hated it.

But somehow I managed to keep going and boy am I glad I didn’t quit! I love it now! If free, its the best nutrition for Delilah, its convenient and easy. Plus, you never go out and forget to bring your boobs along! So you can always whip one out and feed the baby!!

From 1 new breastfeeding momma to another, I bring you my top 10 tips for getting started!!

  1. Cockiness gets you nowhere. As I said earlier, don’t expect it to go smoothly. Plan for some bumps in the road.
  2. Do research before hand. Get familiar with different positions to hold the baby. Get to know what some of the different problems are and how to recognize them (i.e. Thrush, clogged ducts, mastitis etc.).
  3. Take a breastfeeding class. There was one included in my natural birth classes and I’m glad I took it! Take your partner along as well. Maybe they’ll remember something you didn’t!
  4. See a lactation consultant before hand. See one who is in a separate office then your hospital. If your seeing a midwife they may be able to suggest a good one. Look around for one who really loves her job and has good reviews. One who really truly cares about you and helping you feed your baby. She can check and make sure everything is in good working condition and answer any questions you have and calm your fears.
  5. See a lactation consultant after the baby’s born. The same one you saw beforehand. Whether you are having problems or not. Set up and appointment a couple days after the baby’s here to check how things are going. She may spot something wrong that you didn’t even know about that would cause troubles down the road. Or she could just give you some tips!
  6. Become familiar with your local La Leche League. Write down there phone number and stick it on your fridge. Figure out where the closest office is and get their info. They are very helpful and are very willing to help out.
  7. Have the baby checked for a tongue tie. Before your midwife leaves your house or you leave your birth center or hospital I know if we’d had Delilah checked prior to us leaving the hospital, most of our problems could have been avoided. Its more common then most people realize, and the quicker its taken care of, the better.
  8. Mix up a double batch of these lactation cookies before the baby’s born and freeze the dough. They work super well for increasing your production and your probably not going to be in the baking mood with a new baby!
  9. Have a support system. Get your partner, your mom, your sibling, your best friend, or all of them on board with your goals to breastfeed. Let them know that’s what your going to do and if they don’t like it, its not your problem. If anyone isn’t supportive, ignore them. Your providing the best possible nutrition to your baby, remember that!
  10. Don’t worry and don’t give up!!! It can seem terrible at first or seem like your baby isn’t getting enough to eat. But as long as there are enough wet diapers, the baby’s fine! If you need extra support contact the La Leche League, your lactation consultant  or an online breastfeeding group (more helpful then you’d think, I suggest this one on BabyCenter) and get some! You don’t need to feel alone. You can do it!

I hope you can love breastfeeding as much as I do!! And I hope this helped at least one mom out there!!

The international breastfeeding symbol

The international breastfeeding symbol

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~Courtney, The Crunchy Delinquent

This post was shared on Tuned in Tuesday’s!

Why I’m Choosing to Cloth Diaper

I’m super amped about my switch from ‘sposies’ to cloth diapers. I’ve been blabbering like an idiot every chance I get to anyone who will listen about how exciting it is and how cute Delilah looks in her fluffy butt diapers.

But, why is it so important to me??

I have a few different reasons and angles.

I have the vanity angle.

Which is the least logical of all of them. Basically, cloth diapers are a million times cuter then disposable. They come in all different colors, styles and patterns. And the little, tiny, baby butts, become big, huge, puffy butts. Which, the disproportion of it all is too cute for my cuteness receptors to handle.

I have the environmentally friendly angle.

Which is, obviously, much more logical then the vanity angle.

A baby will use about 6,000 diapers in the first 2 years of life. Most babies now a days are in diapers til 3 or 4.

And where do those diapers go? Into landfills.

It is estimated that over 92% of disposables end up there. Its also estimated that it takes 250-500 years for them to decompose (1). So, by time the 6,000+ diapers you used on your baby are out of landfills you, your children, your grandchildren, your great grandchildren, your great great grandchildren and your great great great grandchildren will be dead. And there diapers will be the one clogging the landfills.

Every year approximately 20 BILLION  disposable diapers are dumped into landfills, which equals to 3.5 MILLION pounds of waste (2).

Cloth diapers can be used hundreds of times each. And once they aren’t good enough to use for diapers, they can be recycled into rags/burp cloths etc. And even if you do throw them out, they decompose in 1 year. My diapers are organic, so they help out even more by not adding to the chemicals already out there for growing the cotton.

So by cloth diapering I am keeping a bare minimum of 8,000 diapers per child out of landfills.

I have the health angle.

Whats in a disposable diaper?

Chlorine (eye, skin, airway irritation, very dangerous at higher volumes/prolonged exposure), dyes- yellow 3, orange 3, blue 124 and 106 (cause rashes and repeated exposure can cause allergies), low levels of dioxins (carcinogen and affects reproductive and immune systems). (3)

That’s only 3 of a diapers many, many ingredients and chemicals. And it varies diaper brand to diaper brand.

So you have an unimaginable concoction of different chemicals and toxins smashed up against the most sensitive area of your baby’s body 24/7.

I felt horrible every time I bought a pack of disposable diapers. I do so much to give her a chemical free, healthy lifestyle, yet I was still buying those diapers. They are so bad for anyone’s body, especially such a tiny, susceptible body.

I have the money angle.

Last, but not least, money. Money affects everything we do. From eating, to having a roof over our heads, to driving.

I did the math to figure out how much disposables cost us and how much cloth would cost us.

Sposies-

We spent $26.99 for 180 diapers. 180 diapers is how many we used monthly. So $26.99 a month, $323.88 a year, $1295.52 per child until they are potty trained.

Cloth-

$143.00 for start up costs. $7.00 per year in laundry soap. Up to $16.00 a month on washer/dryer costs. If I use the washing machine and dryer at my apartment building, which I don’t always have too.

Which means we will save $129.00 per year (excluding start-up costs) per child. Which ends up being over $2,000 once we factor in all our children.

In conclusion, I am choosing to cloth diaper because its cheaper, better for the environment, healthier for the baby, and adorable!!

Now ya know why I switched!

Happy cloth diapered baby!

Happy cloth diapered baby!

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~Courtney, The Crunchy Delinquent

Sources- One Two Three

My Natural Birth Story

Today I’m going to share the most scary, painful, amazing day of my life. The day this little bean:

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Became this little squish

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(*disclaimer* while I find natural, med-free deliver to be the best option for me and my babies, I in no way think that women who need c-sections or epidurals, to be bad people or less of a mother because of it. No matter how you had your baby your just as much a woman and just as much a super hero as the any other mother!!)

Last year at this time I had just started living with my boyfriend and we were planning on having tons of fun and becoming parents when we were both in our 30’s. Little did we know, in just 2 weeks, we’d find out our children would be coming 12 years earlier then planned.

The day I found out I was pregnant the first thought that entered my mind (after, oh crap, what on earth am I going to do), was,

I need a c-section. No way on earth I’m having this baby naturally. C-sections are so much faster. No pain.

HA!

Thank my lucky stars I didn’t go with my first gut reaction.

The more I thought about it, the more I started leaning towards a completely drug free delivery with a midwife. After all, my sister had done it twice (at the time, we ended up being pregnant together and she just had a third un-medicated midwife delivery!) and my mom had 5 un-medicated hospital deliveries, so why couldn’t I?

The more I researched it, the more I knew this was the only way I could have my baby.

Women are physically built to have babies.

Did you know that even if you don’t push, you’d still have your baby? Your body would push the baby out on its own without any help from you. How cool is that? Ours bodies are just perfect for having babies.

So, I started to see a group of midwives at a local birth center.

It was the most amazing experience of my life. They felt the same way I did about birth and believed in me and my abilities to have a natural birth. They helped me through my crazy pregnancy and all the ups and downs. They answered my questions every time I had one and would spend over an hour at an appointment just talking to me if I had concerns.

They were amazing and helped me make it to d-day,

February 10th 2013

When my due date finally arrived I had been having false labor on and off for 5 weeks. I was worried I’d have no idea when it was the real deal because sometimes the false labor got pretty intense and regular.

But as I was bouncing on my  yoga ball (trying to help baby’s head drop down and engage) watching a movie with my fiance the night of my due date, I started leaving little puddles everywhere I would sit.

In movies a woman is always just standing around (usually in an elevator) and suddenly there’s a gallon of water on the floor, she’s screaming bloody murder and one commercial break later, she has the baby.

Not in real life.

I waited around to see if it was really my water breaking or not. I had been having contractions since 4 pm that day and was so tired of false labor I didn’t want to get my hopes up.

Sure enough, it didn’t stop and I knew my water had broken. I called my midwife to give her the heads up that I’d probably be coming in at some point in the near future and my water had broken. I planned to labor at home as long as possible.

Within a few hours of my water breaking the contractions became very painful and there was no position in which I could get comfy. I only got 3 hours of sleep the night before so only getting 4 again that night seemed like a bad start to what could be a long labor.

By 4 am on the 11th I had been having contractions for 12 hours and my water had been broke for 8. They were about 3 minutes apart and I couldn’t really move through them so I decided to go into the birth center. I thought for sure I’d have to be close to4 cm dilated (and 5 cm meant I could get in that big, warm, amazing birth tub). So when I got in they checked me and I was at a 1. I was a little discouraged, but I figured I’d just move around and do different things to help me dilate.

After 5 hours of no progress the midwife sent me to go out for breakfast. Sometimes getting your mind off of labor (haha, that doesn’t ever happen. At least not for me) can help you to relax and progress. So there we were, me in tons of pain, my fiance and my mom just chillin’ at Bob Evan’s eating pancakes and eggs.

When we got back I got a birth room and they checked me.

1 centimeter.

It was 10am and I had been feeling contractions for a while and they hurt really bad. They never felt like cramps like everyone said they would. They felt like a terrible, piercing pain all over my stomach and back. I attribute the amount of pain I was in the whole time to the fact my water had been broken almost my entire labor, and once your water breaks, contractions can become much more painful.

Finally around 2:30pm the midwife checked me and I was only at a 2. I was in so much pain and couldn’t believe I was only at a 2.

At this point a new midwife was on duty and she decided to test whether my water had truly broken or not. All the tests came up positive except for the most important test (which we later found out was messed up because the previous midwife had used KY jelly when checking my cervix). So she decided to send me home until they became more painful.

Boy did they ever.

As soon as I got home the became unbearable. I was in so much pain I just moved from one place to another moaning every 2 minutes with the contractions. At 9 pm on the 11th we decided to go back into the birth center.

Mind you, its a 45 minute drive to the birth center. This was my third 45 minute car trip in labor. Not fun.

When we got in she checked me and I was at a 3. Woo. Hoo. 25 hours of labor and 3 cm dilated. At this point I became very discouraged and just wanted to cry. She tested again to see if my water had broken. This time she got positives on all the tests and we decided I should stay there.

Looking back it was a really good thing the first test was screwed up. Because technically, my water had already been broken for 21 hours and at the 24 hour mark you have to be in a hospital. But ‘officially’ it had only been broken since I got to the birth center this second time.

Que 6 more hours of uneventful, painful labor. I started to get sick and threw up everything I had eaten for the past few days. Not fun. However, puking dilated me to a 5. Which meant (drumroll please!) I could get in the birth tub! Yay!

So I found a little relief in the tub and labored, again uneventfully until 7 am. By 7 I was done. I just wanted it to stop. I was done being in labor. I was done being pregnant. I was done being alive. I wanted the baby OUT! After the midwife checked me and I was only at a 5 still, we both decided some, ‘therapeutic sleep’ was in order. I hadn’t slept in 30+ hours and only had 4 hours before that. I was exhausted.

So I got a shot of nubane mixed with Benedryl. It made it so you could still feel and have contractions, you just couldn’t stay awake to know it.

I got 4 hours of sleep and it was truly a lifesaver. I felt ready to continue after that and got back in the tub.

At 1pm the on 12th, I felt like I had to push. Lo and behold, the midwife checked me and I was at a ten and the baby’s head was right there!!

I was so excited. So I pushed.

And pushed….
….and pushed….

….and pushed…..

For 5 hours.

At 6 pm the midwife said we had to go to the hospital. The baby was all the way down (literally an inch in, I could feel her head with my fingers) and she wasn’t coming the rest of the way on her own. Plus my contractions were spacing out.

So we made the half hour car trip to the hospital.

Let me tell you what.

NEVER EVER TAKE A HALF HOUR CAR TRIP WHILE YOUR PUSHING OUT A BABY!!!!

It was the worst car trip of my life.

Plus my mom got lost on the way to the hospital and we had to stop and ask some random guy where it was.

We finally arrive and they make me change into there hospital gown, get hooked up to 6 IVs, sign papers (yes, sign papers while I’m pushing….) before anything happened.

So finally, after 51 hours of labor and 6 hours of pushing, the doctor finally came in, made the decision (without consulting me) to give me a third degree episiotomy, and vacuum out the baby. More then anything I wanted to keep my placenta and have the baby right on my chest for skin to skin contact with delayed chord clamping.

But, her chord was immediately cut, I didn’t even get to see her before they whisked her away to test her for who knows what, and they refused to let me keep the placenta as it was ‘hospital policy’.

However, the second she was out, I instantly felt a wave of relief and felt awesome. They were poking and prodding at her for half an hour and then they finally handed her to me.

Delilah Raine B. was born at 7:12 pm, February 12th 2013 weighing 8 lb. 3.1 oz. and 22.5 inches long

My fiance was crying, I was crying and we finally had our baby girl. She was so worth all the pain. Looking into her eyes I fell in love right away.

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Most amazing day of my life.

If you took time to read all that, thank you!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mommy’s out there!

~Courtney, The Crunchy Delinquent

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