Kids A to Z: Meet Moms

I decided • to use cloth diapers

Lola Wenham, 34, Westlake

My husband's a devoted environmentalist, so he was pretty gung-ho about cloth diapers. I'm the one who gets practical about his ideas. I wanted something low-maintenance that would fit with our lifestyle.

We struck a balance that works. We opted for a brand we joke is the "Cadillac of cloth diapers." Our initial investment was $600. Compared to what we would have spent on disposables, they paid for themselves in nine months.

We use liners, which grab most of the poo, that we can flush down the toilet. Wet diapers go into a regular diaper pail, and we wash a load of diapers about every two or three days. We have 16 cloth diapers in rotation. We use disposables when we travel and use regular throw-away wipes.

Claire is now 18 months, and I feel spoiled, honestly. She never has those leaks during the night and rarely gets diaper rash. When she does wear disposables, she's constantly pulling at the tabs. You can tell she wants it off.

I decided • to home birth

Linnea French, 27, Tremont

The idea of giving birth at home has always made sense to me. My mother is a midwife, and my siblings and I were all born at home. When I got pregnant with my first child, I did my own research and decided home was the place I wanted to have my children.

I was free to do what felt comfortable to me during labor — walk around, take a shower, lie down. I spent a lot of time soaking in the tub during labor. I could choose who I wanted with me. I have five sisters, and they were all with me for my first delivery. My mother was my midwife for both deliveries.

Labor progresses naturally, at its own pace, and when it's time, you have the freedom to be in whatever position seems most comfortable. I found I was most comfortable squatting, so both of my children were born in my living room.

In society, girls think childbirth is such a chaotic, painful, dramatic experience. You go to the hospital and have the baby, and that's it. They don't consider other options. If you really believe that women were made to birth and you believe in the birth process, then home is the place to be.

I decided • to have only one child

Paula Schafer-Merkich, 44, Mentor

When I got married at 38, my husband and I were anxious to start a family. We started trying right away, but it took us a while to conceive. I finally had my daughter, Sophia, when I was 41.

My age was a major driver in my decision not to have another child. I don't want to risk having another child and have it not have the best possible life it could. When I look at it that way, I feel great about my decision.

Sophia's now almost 3, and I see the benefits of her being an only child. She's starting to read and has great verbal skills. She gets a lot of undivided attention, but we also make sure she has plenty of interaction with other kids. She's great for comic relief; she'll giggle at jokes that other kids her age don't understand. She calls her father and me "her best friends."

I decided • to breast-feed

Catherine Davis, 40, Olmsted Falls

I have seven children ages 22 to 3 months, and I breast-fed all of them at least a year. The idea of buying formula and bottles seemed like too much trouble when God had given me these boobs for a reason.

After my fourth was born, I went back to work. I would nurse an hour before work and pump every two hours, but she refused to take a bottle. I'd call home and hear her screaming in the background. When I got home, she would nurse up to two hours. We struggled for months, but eventually she took the bottle. It was heartbreaking.

But it's worth it. Nursing takes a commitment. It can hurt. It requires having a support network around you. But the connection I feel with my children is powerful. My kids are not as sick as others.

I slept with all of my babies except my twins, so I could often go through the night without getting up at all. Plus, I lost all my baby weight within one year. That's a huge bonus.

I decided • to have natural childbirth

Leigh Erickson, 32, Lakewood

Going into my first pregnancy, I had no idea what kind of birth experience I wanted. But a friend of a friend who was pursuing doula certification offered to assist my birth for free, and she really helped to shape my view of birth in a positive way.

There's power in allowing your body to do what it's been made to do. It's intense, but it's a mind game of replacing the thought I'm hurting with I'm making progress. That mindset came from having the doula attend the birth and reading books like Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin. You know it won't last forever and that it's pain with a purpose. It's pain that brings a new life into the world.

Going natural, you get to spend those first few hours with your baby, skin to skin. You're able to connect in those initial moments because you're more with it. I've had four children through natural childbirth, including my first who was 10 pounds 2 ounces. If I can do that, anyone can delivery naturally.

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