Why We’re Choosing Home Birth

Note: All birth is beautiful. Period. End of story. I cry at any birth story I read, regardless of where it happened, how it happened, and whether or not I’d choose it for myself. Sharing about home birth isn’t to say that it’s better than any other type of birth; it’s simply the choice we’ve made. The information below might sound defensive, or mightier-than-thou, but it’s simply sharing information from our perspective because there’s so much misinformation out there about your options. These are just the things that are important to us. Education is my biggest thing, and I want women to feel empowered to know what their options are and then to choose–even if that’s different than what I choose. I love what Nancy Bardacke, CNM says in her book Mindful Birthing: “From a mindfulness perspective, every birth is ‘natural.’ It’s natural for a baby to grow inside its mother’s body, it’s natural for a baby to be born, and it’s natural for people to want to help with the process. That being said, if her intention is to birth with minimal to no medical interventions, she will definitely be learning skills for that–as well as skills for being in a hospital environment where people might want to help a little too much.”

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I want to start this by saying that home birth isn’t for everyone, for a multitude of reasons (both physical and emotional). However, for low-risk pregnancies, midwife-attended home births have been shown to be as safe, if not safer, than hospital births.

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Home birth is still such a novel, out of the box idea for most Americans, and many people have terribly inaccurate perceptions of what a home birth is like. In 2012, only 1.36% of US births occurred outside a hospital, yet the US has one of the highest infant mortality rates of all developed nations. According to the Midwives’ Alliance of North America, in the five nations with the world’s lowest infant mortality and lowest rates of technological intervention, midwives attend seventy percent of all births without a physician in the birth room. Continue reading

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The First Trimester

Matt and I were celebrating our one year anniversary when I woke up feeling…off. I had had a low backache a few days before, and that morning I woke up with a wave of nausea–the kind where you feel it in the back of your neck and feel like you might pass out. It passed as quickly as it came, but when Matt left for work I decided to take a pregnancy test.

We had been trying to get pregnant for months. And months. And months. I was so used to a negative pregnancy test, I just thought I was going through the motions (again). It was also the day before my missed period, so I knew I might be testing too soon. And, to top it off, I’d been charting my temps and thought they weren’t high enough. I had already given up on this cycle.

My friend Katie had recommended these ovulation predictor strips that came with pregnancy tests. These are waaaaay cheaper than the kind you normally buy at the drug store, so they were great for my monthly habit of peeing on a stick.

I waited the two minutes and came back in to check. SUPER. FAINT. LINE.

Cue test #2.

SUPER. FAINT. LINE.

Cue trip to the drug store, where I bought two more pregnancy tests that I thought might be more accurate. I knew that a line is a line is a line but I needed another brand to tell me that! So after another test: TWO. PINK. LINES. Clear as day.

But, of course, that’s never enough, so I took the digital test. Within a minute, it read: YES+

I was shocked. Genuinely. After you see what feels like a million negative pregnancy tests, you’re convinced you’ll literally never see a positive one. But there it was.

Matt came home for lunch and I was able to give him a “gift” for our anniversary: the positive tests. We were both ecstatic and overjoyed, and Matt said, “It’s a Christmas miracle!”

That was December 12th, and to say that I’ve enjoyed the first trimester would be…insane. Here’s our first trimester update:

Feeling: The first few weeks my pride got a hold of me. We found out just before week 4, and I was feeling great. I just knew I’d have an easy pregnancy.

WRONG.

Weeks 6-12 were full of nausea; all day, every day. There was just no relief. Weeks 8-10ish were also full of vomiting that never brought any relief.

I was also wildly exhausted, and sleeping a lot. To those of you who have to go to work every day feeling like this, I applaud you. #badassery

Appointments: We got in with my OB’s office pretty quickly, but didn’t have our first “real” appointment until week 8 where they did the dating ultrasound. Seeing that flickering heartbeat was…surreal. I know a lot of people say that, but it was honestly still kind of shocking. I didn’t even cry, and I am a CRIER. Matt and I were just so happy to see Little Bird’s heart beating away at a rapid 178bpm.

We had another ultrasound at 12 weeks to check for Down Syndrome (negative), and this time Little Bird looked much more like a baby! As soon as the wand was on my belly, she started jumping and dancing. The heart beat was still strong and beautiful at 161bpm, and we were able to see baby’s arms in little fists by the head and how she was laying.

I had recently read a study about how ultrasound techs were challenged to guess a baby’s sex between weeks 11-14, and how the techs were 98% accurate at 12 weeks! So we decided to have our tech take a guess.

She knew immediately what Little Bird was (girl), and was very confident! Later that week, our genetic screening blood test (also negative, thankfully!) confirmed the sex of the baby. (Side note: isn’t it crazy that they can tell the sex of the baby by drawing MY blood?!?) Knowing what Little Bird is has made this so much more real.

Finally, we made the decision to transfer care to Gainesville Midwives for the rest of our pregnancy and have a home birth since we’re low risk and I don’t love hospitals. My dear friend Kerri is a midwife, and we’re so excited to have her caring for us and Little Bird! We’re prayerful for a smooth, uneventful pregnancy and birth so that we can do this in the peace of our home.

Craving: Wendy’s spicy chicken sandwich // Sonny’s BBQ // crab legs (I put away 3lbs of these) // fruit // french fries // McDonalds (can’t you tell I ate really healthy in the first trimester?!) // phô // anything vinegar-y

Hating: Coffee! I can’t stand it. // eggs

Other thoughts on the first trimester:

  • My friend Madison keeps telling me, “pregnancy is NOT for the faint of heart.” And she couldn’t be more right. The worry is insane. The first trimester was primarily filled with worrying about miscarriage and whether or not the baby was okay. Now that we’ve moved into the second trimester, the worry has simply shifted to hoping that baby doesn’t have any diseases or growth issues. I know worrying is a new constant since I’m a mother now, so I’m trying to settle into that and lean onto my Heavenly Father who loves this sweet baby even more than we do!
  • Creating a registry is overwhelming.
  • Natural birth books are wildly outdated. Someone write a new one!
  • Not 100% if we will share baby’s name. The name is something so personal and I love the thought of announcing along with the baby’s birth. Seems so regal. (I know we’ll miss out on monogrammed gifts, but I’m so particular about monograms anyway that might be a good thing!)
  • I’ll share more about why we’re choosing the home birth route and what that looks like. It’s definitely not for everyone, but it’s so important to know that you have options in birth!

 

Why Beautycounter?

Last week I announced that I joined Beautycounter. I’m a total introvert, so this is wayyyyy out of my wheelhouse. But you guys, this mission is so important to me.

I wanted to share some more background on why I chose Beautycounter. A few months ago, I learned that my hormone levels were all over the place. At the advice of my doctor, I started eating hormone-free meats and dairy and slowly switching to “clean” products that go on/in my skin. Around that time, my friend Madison started posting about Beautycounter products. The timing was impeccable, so I purchased some lipstick and tinted moisturizer (more about why those products later).

Y’all, I wasn’t expecting much. I don’t know why I thought “natural” products wouldn’t work. But these products truly wowed me. I bought more products and have yet to find something that I don’t LOVE. I think I expected some Mary Kay-esque products, but this is far from your mother’s makeup. It’s high end, with modern packaging (I’m a sucker for packaging),  and IT WORKS. Like really works. Look, allure agrees!

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Madison had talked to me about partnering with Beautycounter but I was insanely hesitant. Here’s why:

  • I’m an introvert.
  • I HATE when people DM me on social media about their makeup/oils/jewelry/clothing.
  • Just the word “sales” makes my skin crawl, so there’s that.

She never pressured me, and we just kept talking about it over a few weeks. But then I read more about Beautycounter’s powerful mission, and about their cool partnerships with J.Crew and Target (hello, my two favorite stores).

This process was helped by the fact that my master’s degree is in health education & behavior. We learned so much about health policy, so I was shocked to learn in my research that the US hasn’t passed a major federal law regulating the cosmetics industry since 1938. That’s 78 years, folks!

Why does that matter? Because most of the chemical compounds used in skin care have been created in the last 50 years or so. That means that the laws have not caught up to the science. And that’s kind of scary.

I love what CEO and founder Gregg Renfrew said: “Like many of you, I’m a wife and mom—and, like many of you, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. As I applied sunscreen, lotion, and any number of beauty products on myself and my kids, I never thought for a second they might not be safe: After all, I thought, we live in a country that regulates everything. So imagine my surprise when I learned that when it comes to the personal care industry, that’s simply not the case. Companies are allowed to use harmful ingredients and make their own judgments about safety.”

And that kind of did it for me. I want to be a part of this mission because I want people to simply have the knowledge about safe beauty.

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I mentioned earlier that the first two products I bought were lipstick and tinted moisturizer. Why?

Because the easiest way to “go clean” is one step at a time. It’s not to replace every product in your makeup bag or shower all at once. The best way to make the change is to do it one product at a time. Ran out of mascara? Buy a clean version. Need moisturizer? Buy a clean version. Running low on face wash or blush or eyeliner? Buy a clean version. Need to get a gift for a girlfriend? Buy a clean version.

I want y’all to join me on this mission. So much so, that the first three people who place an order will get a free goodie from me! Huzzah!

Here’s a handy shopping list for my personal “go-to” products:

  • Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer (an allure Best of Beauty award winner!): I’m shade No. 2 for reference
  • Lip Sheer (best seller, and another allure Best of Beauty award winner!): I use the Twig shade for everyday use. This lip sheer was a game changer for me since I have super chapped lips and have never found a lipstick that doesn’t accentuate that, until I found this.
  • Nourishing Cream Cleanser: Safe to use to remove eye makeup!
  • Charcoal Cleansing Bar: This is a gentler version than what you might be used to, because it also uses green tea and coconut oil.

Want a sample of something? Just message me!

And shop all of their amazing products here: www.beautycounter.com/amandaredinger

I’m so excited for y’all to fall in love with their products and their mission.

PS: Have kids? This is equally (if not more) important. Baby products are not held to a higher standard–the same toxic ingredients found in your skin care and makeup can be found in your baby wash and oils. Feel better about what you put on your littles by clicking here: Beautycounter Baby & Kids

In good health,

A.

2016 Gift Guide: Girlfriends!

I *think* I’m done with Christmas shopping, and that’s mainly thanks to online gift guides. I don’t know why I can’t figure out what to buy people, BUT if you’re in the same camp, here are some fun gifts for your girlfriends/sister/mom!

PS: All of these gifts are under $75!

1. The Leather Pouch Wallet from Madewell

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This is SUCH a classic gift to give, and you can even go a step further and get it foil-pressed monogrammed. This is 100% on my Christmas list.

2. Beautycounter Winter Warmth Palette

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This is a great option for two reasons: 1) women love makeup and 2) this makeup brand is totally SAFE and free of harmful chemicals. Getting this for your girlfriend/sister/mom shows that you not only understand their love for beauty products, but also that you care about them and their safety.

3. Threshold Art from Target

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Getting someone art is such a unique gift. It’s a bold statement that will provide a lasting reminder of your gift-giving skills. Plus, this is a huge piece of art for only $70 (with free shipping!), so you’ll look like much more of an impressive gift-giver with this luxurious piece.

4. “Thankful” Print by P + Co

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Show your lady how thankful you are for her with this “Thankful” print by P + Co.

5. Beautycounter Band of Beauty Membership

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This gift takes it a step further with the makeup deal, because your lady friend will get some serious perks just for buying (safe!) makeup and skin care. For $29, she’ll get:

  • 15% product credit with every order
  • Free shipping on orders over $100
  • Complimentary gift just for signing up
  • Special offers exclusive to members

 

PS: Want help picking out makeup/skin care products for your girlfriends? Email me at amanda.p.redinger@gmail.com and put “Gift Guide” in the subject line!

 

xo, A

Gay Marriage & The Bible

Note: This is 100% my opinion. Not fact. Just opinion. 

I wasn’t going to write this post. But then I realized: that’s exactly why I have to write this post.

Last week the Christian world got so jealous of this ridiculous election scandal that they had to have their own dumpster fire saga. Enter the Jen Hatmaker interview with Jonathan Merritt of Religion News Service. I strongly, strongly encourage you to read the entire interview, but here’s the bombshell:

You mention faithfulness and God. Do you think an LGBT relationship can be holy?

JH: I do. And my views here are tender. This is a very nuanced conversation, and it’s hard to nail down in one sitting. I’ve seen too much pain and rejection at the intersection of the gay community and the church. Every believer that witnesses that much overwhelming sorrow should be tender enough to do some hard work here.

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You guys, I almost cried when I read that. I can’t believe I even clicked on a link from “Religious News Service,” because, eye roll. But I was jaw-dropped, praise-hands, teary-eyed reading Jen’s honest words.

She knew the backlash that would happen, but she couldn’t stay silent.

She goes on to say that she and her family did not arrive at this opinion flippantly. They studied the scriptures, prayed, and sought wise counsel.

And yet, BACKLASH from the Christian community.

Let me say this: I am so hurt by the horrendous words said towards Jen and Brandon Hatmaker. I’m angered by Family Christian bookstores pulling the Hatmaker books. I’m sickened by people using God to shame and judge others.

And for that, I now refuse to call myself a Christian. | Jesus? YES ALL DAY LONG. | “Christian”? Heck no pass the peas please.

I’m so grossed out by the way Christians have behaved themselves in the last year. Not because they’ve behaved poorly, because we all have, but because they’ve done so in the name of God.

And, to my Christian friends who are already getting miffed by this post, you should just stop reading. Because this post isn’t for you.

It’s for the people who aren’t sure about Jesus.
It’s for the people who have been hurt by the Church.
It’s for the people who have, firsthand, experienced the hatred, bigotry, and condemnation that comes from our current Christian culture.
It’s for the atheists who say “There’s literally no way I could believe what you believe, because your actions are so insanely hypocritical and different than your Savior’s.”
It’s for my LGBTQ friends who are hurting and confused because they’re finally starting to feel accepted and then they meet a Christian who claims that we “love” them but “hate” their sin.

You know what? I’M OVER IT. My internet-soul-sister KT who is a lesbian says this: We are not offended by your theological stance, we are brokenhearted by the rejection of our person. And one can write emphatically about love, but LGBTQ people cannot feel love and the condemnation of their person, simultaneously.

I’m sticking with Jesus (#4lyfe), but ain’t no way I’m sticking with Christians if this is how y’all act.

Yesterday, one of Jen Hatmaker’s BFFs and another Christian leader that I love, Jamie Ivey, released a statement along with her husband. I was shocked at her words. She prefaced about how much she loved Jen and Brandon, but then went on to say, “God’s Word is clear and consistent when it addresses the practice of homosexuality, and it’s also clear and consistent on God’s intent and desire for marriage between a man and a woman, to represent Jesus and His Bride, the Church. To disagree with that requires such a degree of bending and distorting the original languages and contexts of the Old and New Testament.” (emphasis mine)

Basically, she is saying that Jen and Brandon have bent and distorted the scriptures.

AND THAT MAKES ME MAD.

Because, and here’s where I get so many Christians to get their panties in a bunch, I do not believe the Bible can be literally interpreted. (Go ahead, prepare the stakes and fire. I’ll wait.)

And that is my opinion.

And that was Jen and Brandon’s opinion.

And Jamie and Aaron are sharing their opinion (even though they believe they’re presenting fact, and that Jen and Brandon are not presenting fact and they’re just wrong but Jamie and Aaron are right.)

Looking back on Jamie’s statement about how the bible is so clear about homosexuality: IT IS NOT. It is not clear. It’s ambiguous at best. Christians who want to argue differently are grasping at straws, ignoring historical context, and misinterpreting language translations. (Again, freaking calm down, this is my opinion.)

Here’s something I want to be really clear about to those of you who are reading and are unsure about this whole Jesus thing: There are two (actually, probably a million) different camps when it comes to biblical literalism. One camp believes that the bible should be interpreted literally, word for word, and will always be exactly, specifically true. In fact, this is the camp most Christians fall into.

But then there’s the (smaller, less popular) camp that I’m in: those who believe that the bible is a beautiful book of legacy, history, poetry, storytelling–written over 2,000 years ago by eye-witness testimonies. AKA: men. This camp is much more liberal when it comes to interpreting scripture, mainly because we realize the following issues:

  • Historical context
  • Multiple translations over multiple languages
  • Cultural context
  • The unreliable nature of eye-witness accounts (y’all, my own diary isn’t 100% accurate ok?)
  • Many other things

I believe the main themes of the bible: a just and loving God, an omnipotent God, a Savior who was crucified and raised from the dead, and the promise of eternal life for believing in God. I believe that the men who wrote the scriputres were truly inspired by God, but that God did not come and inhabit their bodies, put them into a trance, and write the Bible himself. I just don’t believe that–but you totally can.

Past those general themes, things get a little sticky for me.

Many Christians want to jump in here and tell me I’m a heathen, that I’m literally costing people their eternal lives by not convincing them the bible is 100% accurate and true.

But alas, I disagree. I think that, put to the test, we’d each come up with different interpretations of the bible–even members of the same church. It’s the same as if we both read Great Expectations or A Tale of Two Cities–we’d get different things out of it.

Why?

Because we’ve all had different experiences; all valuable, all important, all influential on how we perceive things.

And I truly believe that the same is true for scripture. Our experiences color how we interpret things.

It’s easy for Jamie to come out against Jen’s stance on homosexuality, because Jamie isn’t gay (and neither are her children–yet).

It’s easy for a Christian to cast stones at a person who had premarital sex because they waited for marriage. (Forget that the person who had premarital sex was sexually abused as a child, distorting their view of healthy sexuality, but ya know, the bible doesn’t cover that part.)

It’s especially easy for a Christian to dismiss the bible’s claims that divorce is a sin, because, well, they got a divorce.

It’s especially easy for a Christian to dismiss the bible’s claims about lust and adultery being a sin, because, well, they’re lustful and adulterous (even if just in their mind & with their eyes #saysPaul).

We all play fast and loose with scripture, it’s just that some of us admit it.

To wrap this up, and to address the looming issue of gay marriage’s “holiness”:

I don’t pretend to know whether or not gay marriage is holy. No one should. But here’s what I do know: My marriage isn’t holy. Your marriage probably isn’t holy either (actually, let me help you: it’s not.). If I went up to God and was like “OMG look at how holy my marriage is!” God would literally LOL and slap me upside the head with the Book of Life. Because it’s not.

So what does it matter if gay marriage is holy if NONE OF OUR MARRIAGES ARE HOLY? Nothing. It doesn’t matter. Isolating and ostracizing the LGBTQ community is done only so that we can get the spotlight off of our own lives and onto others’. “Ohhhh but they’re going to go to hell! Stop sending them to hell!” Well, Karen, if they’re going to hell because what they’re doing isn’t “holy”–THEN SO ARE YOU.

Bless.

xo, A.