A Tale of Two Births

As we know, every child is different but so is the mother’s experience in birthing and raising each of her children in the first year. Many mothers will comment on how starkly different one birth is from the other. My story is no different.

The births of my two daughters were so different and unique on their own. Each had their challenges and their gifts. What I expect would be the result of those births, though, is not what I actually experienced.

I want to share my experience here to give new or expecting mothers an idea of how different things can turn out even when your efforts and input are the same or nearly the same. 

  Baby #1  (Born Dec 2015) Baby #2  (Born Jan 2021)  
Birth education Hypnobirthing Hypnobirthing refresh  
Prenatal Care Midwives at the hospital (In-office visits, various tests and procedures, glucose test) Midwife at home (Home visits, minimal ultrasounds, real food gestational diabetes test)  
Stress during pregnancy Work related stress; didn’t have knowledge about impact on baby Significant due to Covid; tried to manage better knowing impact on baby  
Prenatal support Chiropractor at 32 weeks onwards, occasional massage Acupuncture, chiropractor, massage, Medical intuitive   
Mother’s Diet During Pregnancy Vegetarian; ate nuts; prenatal vitamins; limited sugar Vegetarian; ate nuts; prenatal vitamins; limited sugar  
Baby position  Breech from 32 weeks on Ideal position until birth when she was stargazing  
Birth Plan Started with Midwives at the hospital but went to 42 weeks and baby was breech Home VBAC water birth  
Birth  Scheduled cesarean with OB Home VBAC water birth  
Breastfeeding Breastfed for 20 months; Pumped for 12 months Breastfed for 0 days; Pumped for 8 months; Formula supplementation Strong immune systems  for both; stronger for baby 2 thus far
Help at home from baby’s grandmother 5 months 3 months   
Solids Purees 
Baby led weaning
Baby 1 is more diverse in her palate than expected of her age but is also typical eater for her age; Baby 2 eats all cuisines, textures etc.
Sleep Sleep trained on our own at age 1  Worked with a sleep coach  Baby 1 still need us to fall asleep; Baby 2 sleep trained from 10 months
Allergens No nuts, eggs, honey, or cow’s milk until 1 as per old AAP guidelines Nuts, eggs, honey given after 6 months (AAP guidelines for allergens- except honey-changed) Baby 1 has a nut allergy and egg intolerance though both things have improved due to exposure, testing, etc. Read How I’m Helping My Daughter Overcome her Food Allergy. Baby 2 does not have any food allergies to date
Postpartum baby care Baby seen within first week; Mother at 6 weeks Baby and mother seen multiple times for 2 months   
Antibiotics exposure  Once at age 1 for suspected norovirus, at age 2 for ear infection  and age 5 for suspected UTI None to date  
Postpartum recovery Chiropractor Physical therapy, chiropractor, acupuncture, yoni steam  
Postpartum Mental Health Some postpartum anxiety None  
Acid reflux @ age one, gave her Zantac (since recalled) for 6 months due to daily vomiting @2 months, did massage, chamomile tea, and homeopathy; reflux resolved quickly  
Vaccination Schedule Typical  Delayed and alternate   
Baby massage Almost daily for first three months Almost daily for the first year  
Mother’s Return to Work 3 1/2 months of maternity leave and then 4 days in the office Self -employed so working immediately but in the home  
Baby milestones On or before target On or before target   
Paternity leave 2 weeks 2 months  
First teeth Arrived at 9 months Arrived at 11 months   

When I look at this data, it’s clear how different things were the second time around for a variety of reasons. We also have take into account the impact of a global pandemic. 

I still regret not being able to have a vaginal birth with my first born, even though I did everything I knew of to help turn her. Read more on my blog about having a breech baby. Studies shows that babies born via cesarean can have a harder time with breast-feeding. While it was challenging at first, we were able to go to 20 months and reaped so many benefits, including bonding. 

And I still regret not being able to breastfeed my 2nd baby and missing out on all the benefits, including bonding. Pumping is draining, takes the joy out of the process, and has fewer benefits than direct breastfeeding. I worked with the best lactation consultant in the area, spending hundreds of dollars, doing exercises with my daughter, having an ENT release her tongue tie, working with a chiropractor and nothing changed. And, yet, with her I had a raw yet beautiful home water birth with my family next to me. 

One would expect the opposite outcomes given how they were birthed, right?  

As they say, when you know more, you know more, right? In terms of health outcomes, there were many things I wish I had done differently with my older daughter. My decisions would change due, in part, from experience and, in part, from knowledge attained. Due to my infant massage business, I learned so much in between the pregnancies about prenatal and postpartum care, learning from experts in the field.

My younger daughter has not presented with food allergies thus far and I hope my older daughter never blames me for her health challenges. I don’t know exactly what could be the cause but I know there are things I would and am doing differently this time. To illustrate this point, we’ve heard food allergies can be caused by cesareans since baby is not exposed to good bacteria in the vaginal canal, or by dosing and combining of vaccines before immune response has a chance to build, triggering an autoimmune response, or by the AAP recommendation of delaying common food allergens until one year of age, or by overuse of antibiotics. I know it’s hard to pinpoint causation but I can’t help but look at some of the actions we unknowingly took that might have contributed to her developing a food allergy, which may be with her for life. 

So, if you are pregnant or a new mother, please arm yourself with knowledge, follow your intuition, and don’t settle when making the critical decisions for your children. I’m so glad I pushed back when I did. And, please, ignore the “I never did x or took x and I turned out fine or my children turned out fine” sentiment we often hear from other mothers. It’s not helpful. You’ve got this, mama. 

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