Amusing Lessons of My First Year+ as a Parent   Leave a comment

In my first year+ as a parent I’ve found a few lessons to be particularly surprising and/or amusing. I’m listing a few of them here.

  1. It is possible to be incompetent at snapping. I had previously classed snaps as being basically the same level of easiness as velcro. I mean it’s just position and push, and then presto you’re done. No finger twists, no real paying attention to what you’re doing needed, right? Then I had a baby, whose clothing and diapers have lots of snaps on them, and now I think I’d give myself a “D” on my snapping proficiency. Even while he was a newborn I was amazed at how often I failed at my first attempt to secure a snap! And once he started wiggling? Oh goodness, that was a struggle. The thing that really amazed me was not that I had trouble positioning the two halves of the snap together, but that after correct positioning I would be unable to get the snaps pressed together. My zipper and button proficiencies are at least a solid “B”, but I dread to find out what my “tying someone else’s shoe” proficiency is.
  2. Everybody’s wrong with the whole “eating for two while pregnant” thing. I already knew before getting pregnant that the old saw was not true for pregnancy. I wasn’t eating for two, just me and a parasite. Although dealing with hunger was certainly an important part of pregnancy. But then he was born and I started breastfeeding him. I thought I was hungry before?! Nobody ever talks about “eating for two while nursing a newborn” but that’s absolutely true. He needed to do all that initial growing fueled by me, which meant that I discovered new depths of hunger. And I am still eating what seems to me still to be crazy portion sizes. Mike and I joke around about it because there have been meals when we made what used to be enough for two dinner and two lunch portions, and then I went and ate three portions for dinner.
  3. For as long as I can remember I have not been able to get to bed before midnight. Whether I started getting ready for bed at 10pm or 11:30pm, I could not be in bed with the lights out before midnight. And then I got pregnant and my bedtime moved up a few hours. I don’t actually remember what time I was usually getting to bed, but I think 9pm was pretty normal while I was pregnant. And 16 months after giving birth I’m still able to get to bed earlier. For the first several months of Conan’s life I was in bed with the lights out by 9:30 (granted there were 2-4 arousals to nurse during the night). As his night sleep periods lengthened that gradually moved to 10 and then 10:30. I started napping with him for his morning nap every day and my bedtime moved to between 10:30 and 11. Now that he’s not napping in the morning anymore, 10:30 is much more attractive and it’s still doable. I hope this lasts, I like getting to bed earlier.
  4. Baby’s offer a great posture reminder when they start sitting. When we stand up straight in our society, we tend to lift our chins and tilt our heads back (so that our line of sight is straight forward?). But if you ever have read about posture, we’re supposed to be lifting the crown of our heads, not our chins. If you look at a sitting baby in profile they look like they’re looking down but it’s really just that they naturally hold their heads so that their crown is the highest point. Whenever I really looked at Conan sitting, it always made me adjust my posture. Of course now he’s standing and walking and looking up at us a lot, so I don’t get that reminder as much.
  5. Another great reminder I get from Conan while I’m nursing him sometimes is to unclench my jaw. I’m guessing I’m not the only person who has a bad habit of clenching my jaw when concentrating on something, either mental or physical. But I noticed that when Conan started wiggling while nursing, he’d be waving his butt in the air, kicking his legs, moving his arms all over, etc, but there was no change to his jaw pressure or suction. If it had been me there’s no way I could have wiggled my butt like that and not tightened my jaw a bit. I’m very thankful that he is able to keep the jaw relaxed, or as relaxed as it can be considered while nursing.
  6. Babies don’t just get garlic breath, they exude garlic from their entire being. I have to confess that I’ve rarely if ever noticed garlic breath or any whiff of garlic around adults who have just consumed it. (Maybe because I’ve usually also had garlic?) But when we started putting a clove of roasted garlic in Conan’s food I noticed that the garlic smell was on his breath, in his pee, and just coming from his skin, too. And it took at least a couple days to clear!  It’s not just garlic, it’s roasted onion as well, so this must be all albums. I considered it to be an amusing smell of healthy eating.

Posted April 6, 2014 by mayakey in musings, parenting, pregnancy

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Guided Meditation on Loving Yourself   Leave a comment

I wrote a guided meditation back in February for a gathering at my church, and I thought I’d put it up to share with anyone who might be interested in guided meditations. I used to create these on the fly back in college, but this is the first one I’ve written in many years. I hope that it gives you what you need.


 

Make sure you are seated comfortably, with your head supported.
Sit back, close your eyes, feel your body supported by the seat and cushions beneath you.

Take a deep breath and release; feel your breath filling your entire body.
Continue taking deep breaths;
With each exhalation let go of some tension, stress, or tightness held in your body.

Feel your body become more relaxed with each breath.
Let yourself sink into the cushions supporting you.
With no tension in your body, let your body go limp, melting into the seat.

Continue feeling each breath fill your body, and now let each breath make you lighter
You gradually become lighter and lighter, becoming light as a bubble
Eventually you start to float, carefree and relaxed.

A door opens and in the eddies of wind you float outside.
Like a bubble carried on the breeze you rise up above the day-to-day world
The moon beckons you and fills your bubble self with light.
The light of the moon fills your senses, fills your mind.

As your vision clears you find you are now resting on a low tree branch.
You are no longer a bubble, but your normal body.
Looking around, you see that the tree branch you are on is just a few feet above a stream.
Gently, you push off of the branch and step into the stream
Walking slowly downstream out from under the shade of the tree
You feel the the water flowing around your ankles offering a gentle caress,
You feel the sun warming your back,
And hear the birdsong providing a relaxing melody in the background.

“Love is patient”

As you walk down the stream, you encounter a spot with a still pool on the side of the stream.
There are leaves swirling on the surface of this pool.
If you have felt frustrated or impatient with yourself recently, pick up a leaf from the pool,
Put your frustration or impatience on the leaf, and put it down in the stream to be washed away.
Release as many leaves to float away in the stream as you have frustrations,
Let go of whatever makes you impatient with yourself, or those that you love.
When there are no more leaves to release, you continue walking down the stream.

“Love is kind”

Further down the stream you find a deep pool of spring water spilling into the stream.
The spring has a smooth surface and when you approach you can see your reflection in the water.
Your reflection smiles up at you, beckons you into the pool,
and offers an apology to you for any unkindnesses you have said or done to yourself recently.
You step into the warm pool and soak in that apology to yourself.

“Love is not jealous”

After you have been soaking for a while a bunch of butterflies flutters nearby
The butterflies land on the rim of the pool and on your head and arms.
You can look at the butterflies up close, marveling at their fragile beauty.
The butterflies absorb any jealousy that you have been harboring towards anyone else,
and any lack of contentedness with yourself.
One by one they lift off and all fly away, taking your jealousy and discontent away with them.

“Love is not pompous nor inflated”

Eventually you get out of the pool and continue walking down the stream.
A warm rain starts to fall, gentle at first and gaining in intensity.
Each droplet of rain massages your head and body.
Any facade that you wear to face the outside world is softened by the rain, and maybe even washed away.

After the refreshing rain shower passes on, the sun comes out.
You notice a large flat rock near the stream and you lie down on it to dry off in the sun.
As the steam rises off of your hair and clothes,
let any other stresses, grudges, or criticisms that you hold evaporate with the water.
Feel the sun warming you like an I-love-you from God.

When dry and warm, relaxed and contented you start to feel lighter and lighter.
You become a feather lying on the rock.
A gentle breeze comes by and picks you up,
Lifting you higher and higher.
As the breeze carries you through the sky the day turns to evening, and then night.

You realize that you are no longer a feather dancing in the sky but are flying like a bird.
Feel the glorious wind rustling your feathers as you fly above the earth, surrounded by star light.
Look down and you can see the lights of the city below you.
You fly lower, feeling drawn towards something.
You see a building with an open door with light spilling out of the door.
You fly towards the light and then into the building.

You alight on a seat and settle your body into the cushion.
As you do so you gradually become aware of your arms, legs, and body resting comfortably in the seat.

When you are ready you open your eyes, refreshed and renewed.

 

1 Corinthians 13: 4-7

4Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not jealous,
Love is not pompous, it is not inflated.
5It is not rude,
it does not seek its own interests,
it is not quick-tempered,
it does not brood over injury,
6it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.
7It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.

Posted March 30, 2014 by mayakey in breathing, centering, spiritual practices

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My Costs for Pregnancy and Labor   Leave a comment

I have found myself missing blogging very much during the past year. On a regular basis my mind comes up with ideas for blog posts, but the reality of being a new mom has meant that I never managed to get any of those ideas typed up. I’m hoping to resume blogging, maybe on a monthly-ish frequency, now that Conan is a year old.

Shortly before Conan’s first birthday, I finally got resolution from my health insurance company regarding coverage for the cost of his birth and I’ve been wanting to write about my experience with the cost of homebirth. I must emphasize that this is my experience and should not be generalized.

Cost was not a significant reason for why I chose to give birth at home in the first place, and it probably doesn’t make an difference to someone who is not comfortable with the idea of homebirth. In retrospect I feel that within my values it is a strong plus in the homebirth column, though. There is a lot of complaining going on now about the cost of health care, and this is an example of how we have the power to make choices that affect the cost of health care for ourselves and others.

When I looked up the cost for a normal vaginal delivery last summer while writing my grievance letter to my insurance company (story to come later), the estimated range for Sacramento was $10k-21k. Checking again right now the website says the estimated range for three major hospitals in Sacramento is $15k-23k (approximately $3k of that out-of-pocket and the remainder paid through insurance). My total cost was $4,955, with $2,932 of that ultimately out of pocket. Yes, my cost was $5k. Between one fifth and half the cost of a normal hospital birth. My out of pocket expenses ended up being on a par with what they would have been for a hospital birth, but that is because I fought for reimbursement.

What was included in my total cost?

  • Midwife care (13 prenatal checkups, attendance of 2 midwives for the birth, 6 postnatal mother & baby checkups)
  • Two ultrasounds (nuchal translucency and 2nd tri)
  • Genetic Disease Screening Program
  • California Newborn Screen
  • Other lab tests
  • Birth kit
  • Six visits to a chiropractor

Nearly all of our costs were initially out of pocket. We paid our midwives out-of-pocket because the total fee is less if you pay out-of-pocket instead of having them go through insurance. And since I assumed that my insurance company would reject the claim, it just made sense to go the route with less cost even if it meant more effort on my part (to submit a member claim to insurance). I have a high deductible health insurance plan, so for the first $1.5k (in-network) each year it is all out-of-pocket, and the only thing that put us over that deductible was the charge for midwifery care.

When I submitted my member claim, my insurance company applied the charge to the out-of-network deductible ($3k) and stated that only half of the fee was allowed for the procedure. I submitted an appeal arguing that since there are no in-network midwives I couldn’t choose an in-network provider so I should not be penalized and the cost should be applied to the in-network deductible. I also pointed out that even applying the cost to the in-network deductible and reimbursing me at that rate, their total cost is still significantly lower than it would have been had I had a hospital birth. I’m guessing that the reason their allowed cost was so much lower than my actual cost was because their allowed cost was for the “childbirth, normal vaginal delivery” procedure only. When I got a $2k reimbursement check I figured that was good enough.

I did get a laugh when I got the response to my appeal. It read: “This administrative decision represents an exception and does not change Anthem’s position regarding plan benefits, as detailed in your EOC form. … Please note that your EOC specifically states that if there are no contracted midwives you may call customer service for a referral to a participating OB/GYN. …” Why on earth would I trade the awesome care I received from my midwives in my comfortable home for mediocre care by a doctor in a medical facility? (No offense to the vast majority of people who prefer birthing in the hospital. I’m just a li-i-ittle bit jaded about medical doctors having had more negative experiences than positive.)

Posted February 1, 2014 by mayakey in money, pregnancy

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Hiatus   Leave a comment

It should be obvious at this point that I’m taking a hiatus from blogging. Something about giving birth and having to figure out how to take care of a baby. I don’t when I’ll pick it back up again. Blogging has been very helpful to me, as a kind of public accountability measure. But it does take time, time that is now in much shorter supply. I’m also not sure just how much anyone else benefited. I already have some ideas for future posts (like the total cost for a home birth, and our take on the diapers we tried), so maybe as our schedule settles down I’ll be back.

Thanks for reading,

Maya.

Posted February 8, 2013 by mayakey in mission

Conan’s Birth Story   4 comments

For weeks leading up to the due date we asked Baby to come maybe a little bit early, but not until grandma Key (my mother) was here. It’s a good thing that we specified a contingent event and not just a date. We picked up my mother at the airport at around 7pm on December 11, one week before Conan’s due date. In the airport Mike leaned over to my belly and told Baby that now that grandma had arrived, it could come at any time. Personally, I was hoping for a few more days before the birth. We picked up dinner on the way home, and my mom and I enjoyed tacos while watching NCIS:LA. Afterwards she went to bed and I started putting away the sheets and baby laundry that I had done that day (all those tiny little socks!). At slightly before 9:30pm I felt a rush of fluid, and then another shortly after. I felt like I had peed my pants, but my bladder was not the cause. I went into the bedroom to check that I didn’t actually need to pee and change my clothes, then went back to putting away the laundry. After another rush of fluid I decided to put on a menstrual pad. I was starting to wonder if this could be my mucus plug or water breaking. The fluid was relatively clear and odorless, so there were no signs of a problem; but I had really hoped that the sack would stay intact for much of my labor to make movement easier for the baby. At 9:47pm I was sitting at my computer and felt what I thought could be a contraction. When I stood up I felt another rush of fluid. At that point I decided that I needed to call one of the midwives to let them know what was going on just in case something happened during the night. I sidled up to Mike and told him with a shaky voice, “Don’t freak out but I’m going to call one of the midwives. I think my water may have broken or the mucus plug may have come out and I may have started going in to early labor.” He was calm, responding that he was excited and the timing was perfect. I was the one who needed the “don’t freak out” admonishment. After all, I wasn’t supposed to go into labor only 2 1/2 hours after my mom arrived in town!

At around 10:15pm I went alphabetical in my phone and called Rachel F-T and left a message, then called Rachel H and talked to her about what had happened. She told me that she’d check in first thing the following morning unless we called her with an update. In the meantime I headed straight for bed to attempt to sleep. Attempt to sleep. Over the course of the night I was woken up at 15 or 20 minute intervals with contractions. I tried really hard to find comfortable positions (or rather positions that made the contractions more bearable): on my side, on my back, and partially sitting up. I kept a rough eye on the clock each time I was woken up so I knew that the time between contractions was variable with 3 or 4 per hour, and they hadn’t really increased in intensity through the night. Come morning I didn’t really want to linger in bed since laying down had not proven to be a very comfortable position during contractions. We got up around 6am, and Mike updated Rachel H over the phone and then called work to let them know he wouldn’t be in and would be starting his FMLA leave immediately. When my mom came out of her room we told her that I had gone into early labor. There were a few tasks that needed to be taken care of first thing, like washing the diapers so we’d have something ready to use! Sometime after 8am Rachel H came to check on me. It was comforting to have her tell me that sometimes the water breaks twice when only the outer membrane ruptures and what comes out is the fluid between the membranes.

Throughout the morning I continued having contractions. I stayed mostly in the living room, and moved from the sofa to one of the birthing balls at intervals to change positions. Walking was not appealing to me, as I felt weak and wanted to conserve my energy. I never had the “happy chatty” phase of contractions that we had been told about; probably because I was asleep for much of my early labor. Instead, during contractions throughout the morning I would stop talking (mid-phrase or mid-word) and focus on breathing and making it through the contraction. The morning is mostly a blur to me. My mom and Mike timed the contractions occasionally during the morning. It was pretty easy for them to do I guess because they could tell by my face, body position, breathing, and/or break in talking when a contraction had started. The contractions gradually increased in frequency over the course of the morning. Mike’s mother came for a while during the morning, then left for a while and came back in the afternoon. Listening to her conversation without joining in was very soothing. Around noon Mike talked to Rachel H again. My contractions were approximately 5 minutes apart at that point, and she told Mike to call her again when the pressure started moving down “like a bowel movement”. Around that point I had started standing up occasionally during contractions, leaning on the window or Mike or someone else. Shortly after 1pm we called Rachel back to let her know that I was starting to feel pressure moving down. The contractions were still around 5 minutes apart. Rachel arrived at the house at around 1:40pm.

At some point in the early morning I had had to rush to the bathroom to throw up the remains of dinner. So for breakfast I had toast. Which soon followed dinner down the toilet. We resorted to warm honey water, since I often do that when I’m sick to provide my body with energy without taxing the digestion. The honey water didn’t stay down either. Rachel H advised that I should stick to not more than 1 cup of room temperature water per hour. In early afternoon we decided to try a little more food since I hadn’t had anything to eat since the toast attempt, and had only been sipping the electrolyte water all morning. I managed to eat 3 pita chips, and 1 or 2 dried apricots. Later my mom fed me a few spoonfuls of plain yogurt with honey mixed in.

I don’t really recall, but according to the labor record by around 2:45pm I started moaning during contractions. I attempted to go to the bathroom sometime after that and just the walk from the living room to the bathroom was exhausting. When a contraction came on as I was returning to the front of the house I got on my knees leaning against the bed. I was feeling weak and scared at that point, on the verge of tears. For some time the world around me had been a blur and I wasn’t really sure what other people were doing as I was so internally focused. When I was kneeling at bedside I thought that I wanted to get into the tub with warm water. Mike helped me stand up and I remember gasping out the question of whether the tub had been filled. I think it took me so long to ask the question that it was interrupted by a contraction. They immediately started filling the tub while I continued kneeling against the bed.

As soon as the tub was full at around 3:15pm, I got in and I didn’t leave it until Conan was born. I don’t think I could have. I floated in the water, sort of sitting on my side at first. The contractions were still around 5 minutes apart, but getting stronger and longer. Rachel F-T arrived not long after I got into the tub. According to the labor record by 4pm the contractions were back to back. I just remember trying to float in the water using as little energy as possible and trying to let the warm water help me relax and ease the pain a bit. I don’t remember it working all that well at the latter. By around 4:20pm I started bearing down at the peak of some of the contractions. When that started I remember again being almost near tears thinking that this just meant several hours possibly of more intense labor. It turns out I’m close to being a screamer when pushing. It took constant gentle reminders to lower my pitch into more productive “oooo” sounds. This is surprising to me as I had expected that I would make similar grunt/groan sounds as when weightlifting. I tried to keep the “I am woman hear me roar” mantra in mind to help me stay low pitched and strong. I remember hearing my mom say that it was really hard to watch me go through this. I was really worried that I wouldn’t have the energy to see the labor through to the end. As dusk fell, other lights in the house were turned on to provide some illumination, but the dining room was left dusky. My world was the tub, Mike or my mom at the head of the tub supporting me and giving me sips of ginger ale between contractions, and the Rachels. Everything else faded into the background. Every once in awhile something would filter through. I remember hearing people talk about lights and suggesting that the entry light be turned on. I remember Marlene’s phone making lots of noise as she got emails about several EBay auctions that were ending. I remember looking up at some point and seeing her and my mom sitting at the dining room table. I remember that my arms and legs felt tingly and heavy.

One of the Rachels suggested that I move to a kneeling position with one leg up at around 5pm. They asked if I wanted to reach down and see if I could feel the top of the baby’s head. I didn’t want to at first because I was afraid of not being able to feel anything, since that would just confirm that I had lots of laboring left to do. When I did finally get up the courage to feel, I felt something smooth and thought I would have a bald baby. I was also frightened by the correlation of the magnitude of pain with how little of the head was visible. I started trying to visualize a blooming rose during contractions and while I was pushing, as a way of trying to visualize the tissues stretching and the head crowning and passing through. Not sure how effective that was. At some point I started praying that I would feel the “ring of fire” soon, if for no other reason than that it would mean I was almost done. Throughout this whole time Rachel F-T would periodically use the doppler to monitor Conan’s heart rate. It was so incredibly comforting to hear her say what the heart rate was since it stayed around 120-130′s. No matter how much I was struggling, I took that to mean that the baby wasn’t being traumatized and was not in any danger.

When I did start feeling the “ring of fire” of course, I just wanted it to be done. I was also afraid at that point that despite a honey straw I had been given shortly before, I’d run out of energy and the baby would be stuck in the birth canal. May seem crazy now, but at the moment… So I pushed long and hard with each wave. According to the birth log there were only five minutes between “almost crowning” and “baby born” notations. Conan Yeager was born at 5:57pm on 12/12/12.

Conan’s birth brought Mike to tears as he got to introduce his son to the world after having kept the gender a secret for so many months. My first thought was decidedly less emotional: “It must be a sea monkey, there’s no way I pushed out anything that big.” In my defense my first sight of him was of his back tinted slightly greenish from the water as he was floated between my legs and up to my arms. (After a water birth the baby is brought to the surface face down.) He was 21.25″ long and weighed 9 lb 2 oz.

Mike and I got to hold him for a few minutes in the tub before I was helped up and out of the tub, dried off, and almost carried into the bedroom by Mike while I held Conan. The placenta was delivered as I rested on our bed and then my mom cut the umbilical cord. Conan rested on Mike’s chest right next to me before he was moved to my chest to nurse. While I was being checked out and stitched up our mothers were sent off to get sushi. It wasn’t my first postnatal meal, since the Rachels had brought “birthday cake” of toast with almond butter and sliced apples, complete with a candle right before I nursed Conan for the first time, and I had finished the honey yogurt and indulged in some snack Bunnies shortly after moving into the bedroom. Some of our friends and family will remember us half joking/half serious that Mike was going to get me sushi while I was in labor, well that was tweaked a bit when we developed our actual birth plan.

When they inspected the placenta they found two holes, so when my water broke it was just the outer membrane that broke and released the fluid between the membranes. Just as I had hoped, Conan was in a fluid cushion until just before emerging. When I felt his head what I was feeling was the inner membrane, not a bald head.

Overall, with the exception of not being able to keep food down, this was a great experience. I am so so so glad we did a home birth. I could not imagine having to pack up in the middle of this to go somewhere unfamiliar with unfamiliar people around me. I do think it is funny that one of my reasons for home birth is that I would be able to move/eat/etc whenever & whatever I wanted; and then I couldn’t keep food down! And while I didn’t necessarily think that I would have a water birth, I knew I would want the tub at some point and am extremely glad that I had that option. I also really liked the fact that no one was tracking my dilation. It was freeing to not know how much time had passed and how much “progress” had been made, and just go with the sensations and experience. Our midwives were awesome, and really calming for me.

Posted February 8, 2013 by mayakey in pregnancy

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Pregnancy IS a Second Chakra Exercise in Letting Go Control   Leave a comment

For the last several months I’ve been working on catching up on my photo albums/memory books. They were a little out of date. The paper album hadn’t yet left 2004. The digital album really only had 2009 and 2010. Now my paper album is up-to-date (except for the wedding albums), my friends-and-family album is in progress, and the digital album is halfway through 2007. I chose to do this as a first chakra exercise (as well as clearing the mess from the collage table in the living room so that I can do some artwork) prior to Baby coming. I figured that it would be a good first chakra exercise because it reinforces my tribal history, reminding me of the friends and family that have made me who I am today.

I also wanted to figure out a second chakra exercise, since the second chakra is physically located in the sexual organs and it seemed like it would be appropriate as a part of labor prep. For the longest time I didn’t have any ideas what to do. Then a few weeks ago I realized that pregnancy in and of itself is a second chakra exercise. Not only that, but it’s an exercise in letting go control, which is my biggest second chakra issue. Yet another example of how well nature takes care of itself. During pregnancy I am no longer in control of my body/senses, sometimes my mind and emotions play with me and become “unpredictable”, and time after time after time there are circumstances where it doesn’t matter what I want because it’s just not going to happen. I can have the image of the ideal pregnancy: healthy diet, daily supplements, regular exercise, plenty of relaxation, a nursery that is carpeted before the baby becomes full term allowing plenty of time to pull together a nursery, a solid plan… However, that just ain’t reality and  the most important thing I can do is let go and accept what is reality. Yes, I know, that’s true in normal life as well, but it’s magnified during pregnancy. Stressing out is not an option. And when I have had breakdowns they need to be resolved asap; repression is not an option, depression is not an option. Most of those breakdowns have been related to either control issues or relationship issues, both of which are second chakra, and have resulted in me being able to work through some significant challenges that I hadn’t been facing. Mentally, conscious pregnancy has been very healthy for me.

And now I think I’m ready for labor and then letting go control of the rest of my life.

Posted December 10, 2012 by mayakey in conscious living, musings, pregnancy

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My Deodorant Journey, So Far   Leave a comment

I’ve been meaning to write this post for months, and figure that I really need to do it before life turns upside down and I forget everything that I tried on my “deodorant journey”. This journey really started several years ago when I realized that I no longer needed to use an antiperspirant. I was also starting to wonder if there might be subtle health effects from preventing the skin (and major lymph nodes?) from detoxing through the underarm. I was putting a lot of attention on how to best support my body’s natural detoxification systems, and at the best antiperspirant didn’t seem to be something that would be helpful. So I switched to deodorant, buying it at the grocery store. At first I liked the variety of scents much better than those available for antiperspirants, and I found that for the most part deodorant was really all that was needed. But as time went on, I got tired of paying what seemed like a lot of money for these products that have really long ingredient lists and really only provide marginal utility. Plus I was tired of being stuck in between the “feminine” scents and the “masculine” scents.

So a year and a half ago I started a new journey: making my own deodorant. Here’s a list of what I tried and how it worked.

  • Nothing (a la “European”). Hey, it’s a baseline. And you know, some days (especially calm days in winter) I found that bare underarms made it through the day just fine.
  • Straight baking soda. As far as prevention of odor goes – baking soda is amazing! It worked successfully through a hot July day at the State Fair. It’s cheap and readily available, and doesn’t leave any markings on clothing (as long as it is applied first). It is not, however, easy to apply. I tried dusting it on with a facial powder puff over the sink, but there was no way to not make a bit of a mess. The biggest problem? After a while one of my underarms turned dark pink/purple, started to ache a little, and then the skin peeled off.
  • Straight essential oils. Works great, for about an hour. I would put a drop of a safe essential oil (like lavender) directly on each underarm and then rub it in. Smelled great at first, but then wore off and by the end of a work day I think it was worse than nothing.
  • Essential oil in a carrier oil. Same problem as the straight essential oils: wears off quickly and then it seemed like the underarm smell was worse afterwards. I was worried that the oil would start to stain my clothes, but that never happened, at least not that I noticed.
  • Oil and baking soda. Almost a winner, almost. This was an attempt at combining the benefits of the baking soda and the essential oil in carrier oil. I would apply a layer of oil on the skin first, and then dust on the baking soda. It worked great for odor (courtesy of the baking soda), and the oil prevented the baking soda from making my skin peel off. But there’s still the messiness of applying the baking soda. And turning the application of deodorant into a two-step process is annoying.
  • Homemade coconut oil deodorant. I sort-of tried a recipe for homemade deodorant that calls for mixing baking soda and corn starch into melted coconut oil, and then pouring it into an old deodorant stick. I didn’t measure, though, and went purely by consistency. I also left out the corn starch, maybe it would have worked better with the corn starch. There were three problems, all of which could possibly be remedied but I’m not planning to try. (1) The coconut smell isn’t really strong, but it is there, and as I was trying this remedy at the beginning of my pregnancy that was a problem. (2) At temperatures above 70 degrees F coconut oil liquifies and starts to seep out of the bottom of the deodorant tube, making an oily mess. I thought about trying it in old toilet paper rolls with some kind of cap on the bottom where you just tear the paper down from the top. But I got tired of the smell first. (3) After a bit, my underarm peeled again. Apparently mixing the baking soda into the oil isn’t as effective as using the oil as a barrier. Maybe the corn starch would help? I gave up before doing a Take 2.
  • Homemade beeswax deodorant. I didn’t actually try this myself since I already discovered years ago that my skin gets red and itchy when beeswax products are applied to it. My friend Brown Thumb Mama tried this, though. If I remember correctly she did encounter some staining on clothes, though.
  • Crystal. Jury’s still out on this one. I used to think the rock crystal deodorant was a ridiculous idea, but since baking soda was so successful I figured that maybe the crystal would work. I’m not overwhelmingly impressed, but it’s also not worthless. It didn’t fare quite so well through a day at the State Fair, or stressful days at work, compared to the baking soda. But it works fine on normal days. It really only works when applied on fresh clean skin, though, which is a problem after shaving: it stings! The rock is supposed to last over a year, and I haven’t yet seemed to make a dent in it, so I’ll keep using it. I’m saving a final verdict for when I’m not pregnant, in case that changes things.

Posted November 21, 2012 by mayakey in frugal living, personal care, unshopping

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