While I live in a pretty rural area, my town is large enough that many things are "mainstream". I went with the mainstream for many things growing up, including when I started my family. The only choices I made that were not mainstream for my area was to breastfeed and co-sleep. Well, I made the decision to breastfeed. Co-sleeping was more of a happy accident, a necessity for two tired college students to get sleep with their new baby.
Beyond that, I was the poster child for mainstream. My pregnancy nutrition consisted of taking a prenatal vitamin and eating whatever I wanted, although I tried to eat relatively "healthy" for meals. My childbirth education consisted of the class at my local hospital, where I learned more about standard hospital policies than pregnancy and childbirth. I honestly learned more about pregnancy and birth in high school health and human anatomy classes than in the hospital sponsored childbirth and breastfeeding classes. My births with my oldest two children consisted of pitocin, epidurals, *fear* and doing whatever the nurses told me I should be doing.
I did not question the mainstream establishments. I did not ask "why?" when someone told me I needed to do A, B, and C. I did little to no research into topics on my own to make choices and relied on what was "mainstream," assuming that it was the best choice for me and my family because it is what most people do.
I'm not saying that I made bad choices. What I am simply saying is this: In the past two years, I feel as if I have opened my eyes. My past choices are not bad or good. My current choices are not bad or good. But, my current choices are a much better fit for me and my family. And I can't help but wonder...Where did this crunch come from?
It all stems from the pregnancy and birth of my third child. During this recent pregnancy, I learned more about pregnancy and birth than I ever learned before. I spent countless hours utilizing online resources, finding local resources that support pregnancy/birth/parenting, and read many books. I decided to make different choices about my pregnancy and birth based on all my research.
And from there it has snowballed.
I didn't just want a natural, unmedicated birth. I advocated for it, planned for it, and then did it.
I had hoped to breastfeed for 6 months. My baby will be 1yr next month and we are still going strong.
I had never heard of "babywearing". Now it is part of my regular vocabulary.
There is much, MUCH more. It seems like I notice this crunchy layer growing more each day, branching out, leeching on to some new aspect of my life. My husband keeps teasing me, saying that I'm turning into some "damn liberal hippie," as he so lovingly puts it. But, he supports my choices...usually. At least most of the time. And we compromise on the rest.
As I look back on the past few years, I can see how much I have changed. In many respects, I am a totally different person than I was two years ago. If someone had come up to me two years ago and said, "You are going to have an unmedicated birth, breastfeed for a year, babywear, cloth diaper, make your own laundry detergent, have your baby wear an amber necklace to help with teething pains, etc," I probably would have laughed in their face.
Yet here I am. Sitting in my living room. Getting ready to refresh my memory on which vaccines I'm going to allow and which I'm going to decline in a few weeks for my baby's 1yr appointment. Researching dietary changes to help with another child's ADD-like symptoms. Making a mental note to throw the cloth diapers in the wash before I go to bed. Positive that I'll wake up in the morning and discover that this crunchy layer has hardened a little bit more overnight.