The amazing Mandy Allender with her sons Ronan (6) and Ryder (2) and her daughter Ruby (4). She is also 22 weeks pregnant with baby 4, arriving late June 2015. Mandy has changed so much from the mother who she became with Ronan's arrival to the mother she has come into today. Each of her children have taught her something new and she says that when she thinks about raising children it is she that who has grown with their teaching. When she was pregnant with Ronan she was working as a High Risk OB Ultrasound Tech and was therefore worried about everything. She had all of the tests from screens to amniocentesis and very much wanted a typical hospital birth as she thought people who planned to have their babies at home were crazy and putting their lives at risk. Ronan was born after an induction at 39 weeks because she was told by her OB that first time moms could birth big babies. Once earthside, she struggled with feeling like he was actually hers and after researching realized that it likely had a lot to do without experiencing the hormonal shifts that come with the natural progression of labor and birth. Breastfeeding saved them, she says, and allowed her to build the bond she was missing. She knew she wanted something different with Ruby and chose to give birth to her at a free standing birth center. It was a much better experience and while she had the birth she'd wanted, she was sent home after being allowed to rest for just 4 hours after birth. There was something in having to get in a car and drive an hour home with an hours old baby that led her to know homebirth was for her next time. Mandy's breastfeeding journey with Ruby was surprising. She couldn't get her to latch and nurse properly and when she introduced the bottle at 6 weeks to return to work, Ruby preferred the bottle to breast all together. Ruby was finally diagnosed with a lip and tongue tie at 4 months old, but by then she was done with the breast all together. Mandy pumped exclusively for her but struggled emotionally. Two years later, Ryder was born at home with a team of providers Mandy adored. He arrived in her bathtub just where she felt he should and has breastfed beautifully and is still nursing today. Her current pregnancy has been wonderful as well and she plans to deliver at home with the same midwife and support.
Mandy struggled with disordered eating until her first pregnancy and has always tried to provide an environment for her children where bodies are not talked about with any judgment. They are not good or bad they just are. It has taken her a long time to get rid of the negative self talk and she hopes that her children can avoid ever getting there.