Crying It Out

Many mothers have a polarizing reaction to these three words. It is easy to get cocky with one’s own success or ideas and we often want to thrust these standards onto other women.  Women who have had success with the crying-it-out method may think that it is worth it to put in the work (by work, I mean crawling into the fetal position, praying baby would just give it up and go to sleep) and may even look down on mothers who aren’t “strong” enough to make these tough decisions. Other mothers who practice more of a baby-led approach may think that letting a baby cry it out is straight up cruel and border-line abusive.  I am definitely a believer in letting a baby cry-it-out. But as I have grown and matured (hopefully!) and have been humbled by my four very different children. I now have a more understanding attitude toward baby-led moms and have even modified my crying-it-out method.

I don’t always like to weigh in on controversial topics because I don’t want other mothers to feel uncomfortable or offended by my parental decisions. Honestly, I don’t like other people to give their opinions on my personal decisions so I usually keep them under wraps for the most part. It’s no one else’s business, after all. Just by proclaiming what your position is on any topic with babies/kids can leave other mothers feeling judged or guilty as if they have done something wrong or they judge you for what you do. We all want what is best for our kids. We don’t have to emphatically defend what choices we have made like they are on trial. After all, we are all very different and our children are all very different so our parenting choices naturally vary. I wish I could just turn off the part in my brain that wants to place everyone in neat, explainable little boxes. Like if you are pro-home-birth, then you must think that doctors are evil and your kids probably co-sleep with you.  Not true. Or if you happily get an epidural to avoid labor pain, you must also love giving your kids high fructose corn syrup and refer to the sharpie scribblings on your living room wall as your kids’ “art”.  Also not true. Most people rarely fit into one all-encompassing category.

This post is all about the success I have had with letting a baby cry-it-out, what principles I follow, and times when I have had to adjust my expectations for different babies or different circumstances. Though this post is pro-crying-it-out, I want to be clear that it is aimed toward new moms who want to know that they will actually sleep again and also for moms who are struggling with night owl children and are desperate to find a solution. If you don’t let your baby cry-it-out and its working for you and your family, by no means feel that I am trying to convince you to rock the boat and do things my way. If you are offended already or are gearing up to be because you hate the practice of letting a baby cry-it-out, stick with me for a little longer!

What is crying-it-out? Letting a baby cry-it-out basically means to lay a baby down in their bed while they are still awake so they can learn to fall asleep on their own without being rocked to sleep, patted, or any other soothing action from a parent. Whether they lay in the bed while starring at the ceiling, scream their lungs out, or play, they have to learn how to fall asleep on their own. The idea is that they learn how to self-sooth.

What does it mean to “self-sooth”? When a baby self-soothes, they learn how to fall asleep on their own without a parent being present. Whether they cuddle a particular blanket, listen to a sound machine, suck their thumb, or let their leg drop on the bed making a soothing thumping sound (like my sweet Delly), learning how to fall asleep by themselves has huge advantages for the babies and the parents. Not only does it take some of the pressure off of me (I may have the time to rock a baby to sleep when I have one. But if I have three other kids running around, something has to give) but it also helps the baby to get the sleep they need without having to wait for me.  If I let my kids pick out their own food, I am sure it wouldn’t make for a nutritional diet (I could also apply this to my husband). In the same way, why would I let a baby choose their sleep patterns? They need our direction even in this basic need. I am not leaving them to fend for themselves. I am just teaching them a valuable skill so everyone gets the sleep that we all desperately need.

Does “crying it out” actually work? My short answer is “yes”.  But of course, its not a practice that stands on it’s own. It must be coupled with a few other principles. Its not a matter of just letting a baby cry until they fall asleep with no other thoughts as to why they may be crying. It needs to be planned out and have a routine in mind for which to aim your efforts. Having a bedtime ritual can still happen (and I would say that it should) all the while still teaching your baby to self-sooth. A routine of bath time, followed by a book, and a sweet cuddle with a lullaby is a great way to prepare your baby for sleep. But when the ritual is done, the baby goes to bed even if still awake. This alleviates the parent of the responsibility of jumping through hoops to get the kid to fall asleep. It also allows the parent to leave the room upright like a normal human instead of sneaking around the floor like a ninja snake (honestly, we’ve all been there. Am I right?). But life doesn’t always go like clockwork so be prepared for circumstances that can throw your baby off of the routine. When in a different environment like being at the in-laws house for instance, parents need to adjust their expectations.

The other day, a new friend of mine (we were still feeling each other out on where we  land in parenting choices) expressed that she was having some difficulty knowing when her baby was hungry or sleepy and therefore was feeding baby when she cried only to have her fall asleep quickly into the feeding.  She also mentioned that she missed having time to sit with her husband in the evening without having a baby in her arms. I poked around with a few questions, wondering if she wanted advice or just someone to empathize with her situation. Like I said, I usually keep a tight lip on my opinions unless someone asks for advice or a direct question of what I do. Somehow, she made it clear that she was open to suggestions. I gave her a few tips that I have found that worked for my kids and I recommended a book to her, Oh Becoming Baby Wise (Okay, if you hate this book and now want to stop reading, hang with me a bit more!) After reading the book and putting it into practice, she has told me that now her baby sleeps so well and everything is working like clockwork (as much as things ever do).

Because I have seen how passing on advice can really have a positive impact on another family, I have decided to break my usual silence regarding sleeping training (another scary phrase) to share with you what I have learned and what has worked for my family and myself.

I have found incredible comfort and ease of mind with this book. But it is most certainly a guide and not to be followed to a tee (which, I believe it says in the first chapter). If you think your baby is hungry, that is the best reason to break routine and feed your baby. I relied on this book a great deal with my first and have had amazing results. But when my second born came along, I realized that though Baby Wise still gives great advice and a great routine to aim for, I needed to adjust my expectations and my method a bit.

The main things I have gleaned from this book are:

1). Make sure baby gets full feedings and doesn’t fall asleep while eating. This should start from day one. The whole BW method works on a cycle of 2 1/2 – 3 1/2 hours long with the time starting at the beginning of a feeding (length varies on the age of the baby). Full feedings helps you as a mother know that your child is really full and that he/she can go the rest of the 2 1/2 – 3 hour cycle until next feeding. It is a huge comfort knowing that your baby isn’t upset because of hunger. Also, by keeping them awake during the feeding, it helps to ensure you don’t become a human pacifier that your baby relies on to fall asleep, if you are breast feeding. I had a newborn that decided to use me as a human pacifier and I was too sleep deprived to realize how long the feeding had been (three hours). Let me just say, sticking your nipple in a light socket may be less painful than nursing with sore nips. Its not worth it.

2). Follow a Feed/Wake/Sleep pattern: When it is time to feed the baby, wake them up (if the baby seems really sleepy, I will wait another 30 min) and feed them. Then let the baby have awake time even if it is only 5-10 minutes when they are just a few weeks old. When the baby shows signs of sleepiness or there is only 1 1/2 hours left of the cycle (I always want them to get at least an hour and half nap before the 3 hour cycle is up), lay baby down even when awake. Newborns usually go right to sleep. I practice this 3 hour cycle with babies that are older than 2 weeks old.

3). Be mindful of times of growth spurts and changes that may effect the routine. Babies are hungrier when going through a growth spurt, so feed them sooner or for longer. Also, as the baby develops, sometimes they start waking from their naps after only 45 minutes. This can be frustrating when you are used to the routine working. But babies are constantly changing. My rule is if they wake up crying, they are either super hungry or still tired. Most of the time, it has proven to be the latter. So back down they go until they wake up happy or if it is time for the next feeding.

4). Like in all things, consistency is the key.  You can’t be super diligent every other day and expect to have good results. Your baby needs to know what to expect and you need to know what to expect from your baby. This will comfort the baby and help every day to have a peaceful flow. Guessing games as to why your baby is upset is one of the hardest things during the first year of a baby’s life because they can’t tell you what they need. It also helps when you don’t drag your kid to a million places every day. Traffic, long conversations, and little hold ups can throw your routine off and then the baby is either passed their point of hunger or tiredness. Establishing a strong routine will show you at what times getting out is do-able and where you can be flexible as the baby grows. Consistency, people! Its worth it a million times over.

**Side note: Sticking to a 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hour schedule may seem restricting, but it doesn’t last forever. And the benefits of full nights of sleep, and predictable days far out weighs the few months of small windows of time to do outings and other activities.

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

Keeping an opened mind/ just because something worked for baby #1, doesn’t mean it will work for every baby:  My mom always says that if something isn’t working for everyone, it just isn’t working. This is so true. If you have a baby that refuses to sleep through the night, and mom basically never sleeps because of it, this isn’t working. If you have a baby crying it out every night, well passed the usual three to five day period of breaking a habit or starting a routine, then something isn’t working. If dad has to sleep in a different room because all the children have to sleep with mom, this isn’t working either. Anyone can muscle through for a certain period of time, but it can’t be the norm or it will cause too much stress on one individual and the whole family suffers. Its okay to admit something isn’t working. Every time I tell my husband that I am frustrated because such-n-such kid never/always does such-n-such, he asks what I have done to try to fix the problem. I think about it and usually the answer is I try the same thing over and over again with no change and I expect different results. Over-the-top-eyeroll. You would think I would have learned this lesson by now.

My second, Delano can create a habit after just one time of giving in to him. If I patted his bottom one time to help him go to sleep, he wanted it every time. He is 3 years old now, and if he is sick or something, and I lay next to him in bed to help him go to sleep, he will demand it the next three nights, usually. Also, when I let Del cry it out as a baby, he was much more determined to stay awake and wail than my first. We had a few long cries with Jenkins, but nothing like with Delano. I had to adjust.

So though I strongly believe in letting a baby cry it out, I have a new guideline that I have taken much comfort in. While I sleep train, I let my babies cry for 5 excruciating minutes. I go in and take about 1 minute to comfort them, make sure they don’t need a diaper change or feeding, and make sure nothing could possibly be hurting them (Mommas, you know how when your baby cries, and you get fixated on one thought like a strand of your hair is wrapped around their toe? Or a neighbor’s pet rattle snake must be biting the baby) When all is well, I lay the baby back down for another 5 minute crying session. I do this until the baby falls asleep or until the time is up for their next feeding. I can listen to my baby cry for this 5 minute period without becoming completely undone. I remind myself that they need sleep as much as they need food. Rest for a baby is so important, just as it is for all humans.

Even though I have four very different kids with four very different sleep habits, I can say (with humility) that having a routine to aim for and teaching my infants good sleep habits has been a tremendous reward for all of us. My kids all sleep 9-12 hours a night (and have since they were between 8 weeks and three months old) and have taken two hour (sometimes longer) naps twice a day when 6month to 1 year, and at least a 2 hour afternoon nap from 1 year to 3 years old (Pammy is 18 months old but going strong!)

Photo by Cris Saur on Unsplash

With every kid, I have wandered away from sleep training only to realize that my world is falling apart with an unpredictable baby and lack of sleep. As soon as I fight to break bad habits and get the new one on a schedule, I see how nice life can be with four kids who all sleep well.  I am a better mom when I am well rested and my kids get the benefit of their own sleep plus they get to wake up to a sweet, well rested mom.

My Mother’s Day

I love mom jokes. Even if they aren’t that funny, I laugh my head off at the jokes because I can relate to all the stressful or unfunny situations moms find themselves in. All mom jokes, especially this imomsohard vid (and this one is also funny, I just watched it. hee hee), have hilariously sad truth in them.  The week leading up to Mother’s Day this year, I saw several memes and funny videos about how husbands tend to make a big deal about Mother’s Day but somehow it ends up making more work for the mom and usually leads to stressful situations.

But I decided that this common scenario was not going to happen to me this year. No matter what, I was going to be calm and relaxed and just enjoy the ones who call me “mom”.

This is how our day went:

My dreamy sleep was interrupted around 4am by the precious words, “Mom, I went poo poo!” excitedly screamed from the bathroom. Our Delly is newly potty trained and every bowel movement is a complete celebration. I wiped him and tucked him back into bed and I followed suit.

My husband had gone fishing with my brother-in-law at my in-laws lake house the night before. They had fished long into the night so my husband spent the night over there. I woke up around 5:45am to sweet Faye’s morning feeding cries.  As I dozed while nursing her, my husband came home and immediately started making me breakfast around 6 am. After finishing feeding Faye, I came into the kitchen where my husband had displayed my Mother’s Day gifts, a new plant (yay!) and a few beautiful pots to soon house some of my plants who currently were dwelling in ugly, cheap pots. The day was off to a great start.

I inhaled the breakfast (nursing makes me eat like a teenager) an began getting ready for the kids to get up. My husband wanted to lay down for a nap since he was up so late. As he slept, the rest of the crew awakened and I passed out bananas and cups of milk to everyone. This is our usual first phase of breakfast which is followed later by something more substantial.

I sat with my kids and enjoyed just being in their presence. They were excited about my mother’s day gifts and everyone was full of smiles.  The time for church was approaching but since my husband wasn’t up yet, I figured we would just miss the 9:30am service and go to the 11am. No reason to rush or hurry. Just enjoy the kids, I thought.

My husband woke up a few minutes after 9am. He held the baby for a little bit and played with Pammy.

“Let’s go to church this morning,” he said.

“Okay, but its already after 9am right now and none of us are dressed so I figured we would just go to the 11am.” I replied.

“But that will throw our day off. Let’s go now. Is that okay?” he urged.

Deep breath. I am not going to get caught up in a panic to rush around. “Okay that sounds great. I prefer going to the 9:30 service, too. Can you dress the kids? I am going to throw some clothes on.”

And that is just what I did. I put on a comfortable dress (and didn’t allow myself to second guess my clothing choice), wiped my face with a wash cloth (no time for make up though I don’t usually wear much anyway), grabbed the kids bags, shoved some diapers into a couple and some fresh underwear in the others and went to the car. It doesn’t matter what I look like, I thought. No one is going to be looking that closely at me. And I am smothered with kids so if they do noticed that it looks like I just rolled out of bed they will figure I had a hard morning getting the kids out the door. I am not going to worry about it.

I got in the car and looked in the mirror for the first time that morning. Ehhh, not my greatest just-rolled-out-of-bed look but there’s no turning back now!  Some days I wear sleep deprivation better than other days. This was an other day. But I had already decided not to sweat the small things and just enjoy the day of getting to be a mother to my sweet kids. I am not going to snap at anyone or be a butthead because I don’t feel like I look my best. It doesn’t matter anyway. So I closed the mirror and quickly braided my hair into a side braid, hoping for a Katniss Everdeen look. It fell short.

We arrived to a crowded church, checked all four kids into the nursery, and headed to find a seat in the dimly lit sanctuary.

After one song, one of the pastors got up and said something sweet about mothers and then he announced that he was going to give a gift to the mom who has the youngest child in the service and to the mom who has the oldest.

The hair on the back of my neck stood up.

“If you have a kid who is a year or younger, please stand up.” he said with a huge smile on his face, like he knew what he was about to make me do.

I sat. My husband smiled and nudge me, “That’s you” he whispered sweetly in my ear.  I smiled back and looked around. No one else was standing in the whole room. Then I looked at the woman sitting two seats over from me as she held her 9 or 10 month old. She stood up. And, reluctantly, so did I.

The pastor then said “Okay, who has a baby younger than 6 months old?”

The lady next to me sat down. All eyes were upon me. The spot light seemed much brighter than normal as it high-lighted all the things I was sure were wrong with my appearance but was afraid to look down to examine.

Is my dress tucked into my leggings? Is my hair sticking straight up? Why didn’t I take five minutes to fix my face before I left the house? Did Pammy wipe her runny nose on me somewhere? I was suppose to just blend in and not be seen today!

Everyone was clapping. I don’t even remember if I forced a smile to everyone. I was mortified.

But they gave me a cool succulent in a magnetic pot for the fridge. I love plants and I love winning things so that helped ease my embarrassment.

On the drive home, I smiled and couldn’t believe that of all the days, I had to stand in front of a church congregation of strangers (we are new to this church) on a day I decided not to care about how I looked. Isn’t that how it always is? My husband asked why I was smiling and I briefly described my feelings.

“But you look so beautiful today.” he replied.

That man is the sweetest.  He truly is the best one. So glad I am his wife and mother to our kids. It was a wonderful and eventful Mother’s Day.

Thanks for reading! How was your Mother’s Day? Check out my other Mommy Mishaps if you need a morale booster. My pain is your gain.

All The Things

 

Definition:  All the things
1. every single thing or every particular of an aggregate or total; all said in a satisfyingly more dramatic way.
2. something extremely important articulated in a theatrical fashion to add emphasis.

“All the things” is my new favorite phrase because it seems to express that busyness is made up of lots of little things instead of a few big things. The word “everything” is too broad of a stroke for the endless tasks that make up a mother’s day.

Because life is super busy right now, I am trying to be a little more reflective in my day to day life.  A typical day for us is waking up in the 6 o’clock hour, feeding the kids several times through out the hour ( they like a staggered breakfast of a cup of milk, followed by a banana, a bowl of dry cereal, then maybe some yogurt), then we play outside, we come in so I can feed the baby and the kids play in their room, we read together, maybe we sit at the table and do some “school”, then its lunch, then naps, then dinner prep, dinner, play with dad, clean up, get ready for bed, bedtime, every. single. day.  Life is full and most everything in our day is something that I have to initiate or produce.  I have this problem that when there is a job in front of me (aka four precious children who are experts at making lots of messes, lots of dirty laundry, lots of tears, and need lots of one on one time) I basically put my head down, turn my mind off, and work. I work hard and constantly but I spend little time thinking on how to better myself and my strategy for getting to all the things.    I may be really good at sweeping, but if I never open my eyes to look for the dirt, then will my floor ever be clean? If you are sleep deprived like I am, I will give you the answer. The answer is no, the floor will never be clean if I don’t look for the dirt.  Basically, I want to clear my mind so I can look for the things in my own life that are out of place and need tidying.  There are things that I could do better and more strategically so that I have more time to relax with my family and less stress filled events in my day. But sitting and thinking about what those things could be ends up being another task on my plate that I probably won’t get to.

Gosh, there is so much to do and to think on and to worry about. Just getting through a day seems like an awesome cardio workout. I only thought P90X was hard back when I had time for it. I could do that in my sleep now AND nurse the baby at the same time!  Taking care of a family’s physical needs is one thing. But attempting to take care of everyone’s emotional needs is just so much more. We know that our kids won’t remember every time we fail them. But if they don’t get the crucial one on one times, the mercy instead of discipline times, or the tough love lessons at other times, will they have a bigger mountain to climb later in life?

Then there, of course, is the terrifying advice that says, “Don’t neglect your marriage during these years. You don’t want your children to leave your house and you realize that you no longer know your husband.” It is as true as the advice that says, “Cherish every moment of your kids being young because tomorrow they will be grown”.  And then there is everyone else I care about that do not live within my home that I want to spend time with and show that I care for them.  But how can I do all the things?

It’s all so much.

I want to give and give and give so the precious ones in my life will have every opportunity to be their best selves. So that they never ever feel like no one in the world cares about them. Because I definitely care. I care so much that I will give and give and give more than I did yesterday. But it never seems enough. And then there comes the moment that I can’t give anymore, so I snap at someone. It doesn’t matter if it is one of the precious little ones or my sweet husband, it hurts to see them hurt by me.

So what is the answer? I think the answer is trust, and, as impossible as it sounds, rest.  Trust in God that only He can really take care of all the things my hands can’t do and trust that He will give me the strength to continue working on the things I can.  And as far as rest goes, I need to find a space to truly get away where no one needs me.

My husband has encouraged me to have an evening to myself (actually he is making me, no ands, ifs, or buts about it). Really it is just an hour where I leave the house, alone, and be by myself.  Its super weird and feels completely foreign. I want to go see a friend or something so I can laugh and joke and feel like I did before I was employed by Mommies-R-Us: Opened 24/7. And though I think it is important to have these times with other adults, I have realized I can’t ever be what I was before because I can never turn off “the mom” in me. But I do have to find a place in my head where I can rest from my job of being a mother.  So I am trying to be more reflective and introspective. And it is hard.

The only goals I want to accomplish during  this time alone are 1) truly learning how to be alone without feeling panicky like someone needs me or guilty for getting a moment to myself and 2) think of a practical solution to one situation that brings stress to my everyday.  My first goal will take a while to accomplish, I think. I don’t want to sound too dramatic like I never get to relax or that my husband doesn’t help me.  I have times of rest in the evenings at home but I am always on call if anyone should need another tuck in, a drink of water, a twisted sock that needs fixing. All the things that kids think of in the first 10 minutes to 2 hours of bedtime. I end up staying up later than I should because its MY time to do MY things. But I start the next day over tired because I fed a baby around 2 am, and had to help a newly potty trained kid to the bathroom around 4 am, and my other two decided to get up at 6 am on the dot.

Last Wednesday was my first attempt to go be alone. I got in the car, having no idea where to go. I went to three places that were closed. I live in a small town and never leave the house after 5 o’clock so I had no idea that things shut down in the evenings. I finally ended up at Starbucks with 49 minutes until I was due back home.  I got a drink and sat down outside on the patio and wrote in my journal. I wrote the words “This is torture but I am thankful for a husband who knows whats best for me”. So that was progress. Being alone for one hour helped me to remember how incredibly blessed I am to have a partner in life who is so amazing. He isn’t perfect but he is constantly thinking of ways to bring out the best in all of us.

As for goal #2, the one problem that I wanted to address in my first night away was ending my work day feeling settled. Usually, I leave dirty dishes on the table or stacked messily near the sink. Flour or other ingredients that went into making the dinner remain on my counter and a few random toys or various kid cups or spoons can be found lying on the floor.  I am not proud of this and it makes for a stressful morning. I have made attempts to fix it and have made some progress over the last year but I need a real plan.  So after the kids go to bed at 8pm or even before if they are occupied, my plan is to put everything away, dirty dishes into the sink with a rinse if not into the dishwasher, table and counters get a wipe down, floor is swept, and to declare the end to my work day, I light a candle to sit on the counter top until my husband and I decide to turn in for the night.  For some reason, I crave the ritual of lighting that candle in the evening and it has propelled me to finish my work so I can have that little reward.  It is an orange essential oil candle I found at Walmart (I have a lavender one as well!). Its the perfect end to a full day.

I get the whole idea that I need to put the oxygen mask on before I put it on my kids if ever in a desperate situation on a plane. The idea is you can’t help the ones you love if you don’t take care of yourself first. It goes against a mother’s nature to put herself first. But it still makes sense. If I can have an hour to be bored by myself so I can actually think maybe I will be able to stop feeling like I am playing catch up all day. I am hoping to truly learn that my family can do without me for a little bit so I can be better for them when I return from rest. So I will keep going out once a week to learn new things and to remember things I already know but have been too busy to articulate.

 

What ways have you found to make your day a little easier? Do you have a time in your week where you are able to get away and reflect? Thanks for reading and God bless!

10 Favorites for Baby

With each new baby, I have to remind myself of what my go-to products are that make life a little easier in the first days/weeks/months/year. While some things are purely personal preference, I highly recommend this list to any mother-to-be who is emotionally entrenched in the nesting phase of pregnancy, desperately searching for the answers to, “What will I really need for baby,” and, “Which brand is the best”.  Beyond baby essentials, this is my list of 10 Favorites for Baby.  I thought that if my new little one sucks out all my remaining brain cells or my other three decide to go through exciting, new phases around the time of the birth (they all have impeccable timing) at least I can look back at this post and remember what I like as I zombie walk through the aisles of stores. It was crucial that I wrote this list down before the baby arrived so I could be prepared. But here I am typing it up as I rock my newborn, who is sitting in her bouncy seat, with my foot. This is what motherhood looks like with baby #4, folks. But I wouldn’t change a thing about it. I mean, look at these cuties!

 

1. Badger Baby Balm: My first midwife gave me some of this stuff when my sweet Jenkie was born. I don’t really ever put lotions on my babies because of all the chemicals and perfumes that are in them. I have not done much research myself on the reasons not to put lotion on babies, however. But I just like the idea of using things as natural as possible. This stuff gives all the moisturizing a sweet little one needs and it smells heavenly.  One tin of it can really last you a long time and can be used for lots of things like diaper rash (though sometimes I need something a little stronger) and cradle cap (if you follow application with brushing with a soft brush or lightly with a comb).   Baby Badger Balm is definitely a must. Other Badger Balms that I like for myself are the Sleep Balm which I personally love because of the lavender and the Healing Balm for hard working hands which I use when my hands and feet get dry in the cold weather.  Works like a charm! Click on the picture if you want to get the Baby Balm!

2. This book is absolutely amazing! It gives a detailed description of almost every type of sickness, rash,disease, or ailment your child may catch. Each ailment has a description and then lists all the different ways of treatment from conventional to home remedies. I love this book because when my kids come down with anything, I can look up all the worse case scenario diseases and rule them out without calling someone for advice whilst in a panic. Most of the time, the ailments are pretty easy to identify.  In general, I tend to have one foot in the natural-remedy-granola world and one foot in the conventional medicine world. I don’t want to neglect or rule out either of them completely; putting my child in unnecessary risk in the process.  I can first try the natural remedies that the book suggests after I have identified what is most likely going on with my kid. If that doesn’t work, I have a heads up on what the doctor’s treatment will most likely be or what he/she will suggest. Knowing what to expect if I do decide to take my kids in to see the doctor takes a huge load off my mind. But many times, my kid’s symptoms clear up in a day or two and life moves on. Regardless of which way you tend to lean toward, this book is awesome just so you have easy access to information on what may be going on with your child. I try to avoid googling symptoms because of the images that pop up, forever burned in my memory.

3. Gripe Water: So I don’t like to try new things. Several different people told me to give my babies gripe water when I mentioned that they seemed to have a lot of painful gas. With a newborn, I don’t like the idea of anything going into their mouths other than breast milk. So I never tried the gripe water until my third child.  It was pretty awesome and worked really quickly. I was amazed. This is the brand I used.

4. Lansinoh lanolin: You don’t need a lot but if you need something to put on those chapped nips if you don’t want to hate your life. This stuff is 100% lanolin which is completely natural and safe for your baby to nurse on after application. If you are like me and don’t know, lanolin is a wax produced by sheep. It helps water to roll off their wooly backs. It has a ton of uses and is in many products that you may use everyday.

5. On Becoming Babywise: I know that every mother has their own opinions of sleep training/scheduling and what not. I know it can be quite controversial. With that being said, I love this book. It is meant to be a guide and not to be followed to the nth degree.  My children are all very different sleepers, they each require a different amount of sleep, and some form habits quicker than others. This guide worked for at least the first three (we shall see about the newbie). My newborns were sleeping through the night between 8 and 12 weeks of age. They still all sleep well (some better than others) getting between 9-12 hours of sleep at night and all take great naps (though my 5 year old only takes a nap about every other day now).

6. Baby bath chair: I gotta be honest, bathing a new baby is not my favorite thing. When they start to get some solid weight on them and don’t look so frail, I enjoy bathtime much more. But newborns always look cold to me and the last thing I want to do it take all their warm clothing off and put them in water. Plus they can be quite slippery. If they are screaming, I start feeling a little dizzy (am I the only one?) so bathtime seems particularly dangerous. This bath chair helped me get over some of my fears. It is also easy to store, unlike some of those big plastic baby baths.

7. Bouncy seat WITH vibrations: So the bouncy seat that I am using this moment to rock my newborn to sleep is the very one that I was given at my first child’s baby shower. I didn’t even register for it. A sweet woman who knows what new moms need gave it to me and I am forever grateful. I don’t usually go for all the baby equipment that just sits useless most of the time except that one month or two that the kid is at the right age to use it. But this thing is worth it. The vibrations are just what a baby needs to get out some gas or to sooth them into a sweet sleep. The picture above is not the seat that I use but it is similar and is Fisher Price. It is easy to take from room to room or even outside. When I go on the patio to sit and watch my older three play, I like to bring the bouncy seat out with me in case there is a situation when I need to put Faye down quickly. What kind of a situation, you may ask.  Catching Pammy who is teetering on the edge of the fort or pulling a potentially poisonous mushroom out of her mouth, or shuffling one of the boys to the house from the trampoline who has to go potty but doesn’t have time to put his shoes on and can’t walk on the grass for fear of stickers. You know, every day emergencies. At one point in my early mothering days, I thought this seat needed to be with us at all times. I remember taking it to an In and Out Burger because we didn’t know where our first newborn would sit in a restaurant and we also didn’t know how to eat a messy burger and hold a baby at the same time. We were new parents. If you keep the seat at home where it belongs, you will be glad you go it.

8. A new show to binge watch: So I included this in my other list: 10 Favorites for Pregnancy. Remember, you will be sitting down a lot to feed your baby and you need to have something that can distract you from the housework and the fact that you are so so so tired (don’t worry about losing sleep. It gets better). And a hilarious new show is just what the doctor ordered. I am watching Raising Hope right now and it may be the hormones/baby blues or lack of sleep, but I think it is the funniest thing I have watched in a long time. And I always end up crying at one point… that is probably the hormones. I wish I was as cool as Virginia.

9. A new hobby:  Totally kidding. The newborn is my new hobby. I love creating things and when I am nursing in the middle of the night, I love to dream about all the things I want to create. It keeps my mind occupied but it can also feel like I have all these desires but I am stuck on a very strict schedule of feeding a baby every few hours, trying to get the baby to sleep when I am not feeding her, feeding the other kids and myself, changing lots and lots of diapers, and trying to get a few hours of sleep in when I can. But the truth is I am not stuck doing anything. I have the privilege to tend to these sweet kids and this is the life I chose. My crafts can wait and so can my daydreams. I am living the best dream right now. Its not always glamorous and I don’t always feel awesome about my parenting or how my kids react to my parenting. But there is a reason why I can’t get anything done right now. Young kids and babies require us to slow down and go at their pace. I need to be soaking up every minute of this phase of life because when it is gone, I know my daydreams will be to relive these precious moments.

10. Siblings: I remember when I was about to have my second, I was really worried about how Jenkins, my then two year old, would take the presence of a new kid in the house. I devoted every moment of my day to Jenks and now he was going to have to share me.  Now that I have four kids, I think about how lucky my newest baby, Faye, is to have three older siblings. She has three more people in her life to love and adore her. It is amazing to see the love between my kids. Almost every day, I over hear a conversation between my boys talking about how they will always be brothers.  Pammy literally can not keep her hands off of Faye. Every time she looks in Faye’s direction, she has to run over and lightly put her hand on Faye’s head or back. What a gift it is to love these little people so much and to see them love each other.

Bonus Favorite: So this is not for a baby in the first year but it is still pretty awesome. We have finally had tremendous success with Delly’s potty training! It has been a tough road but I will spare you all the nitty gritties. This potty seat wasn’t the factor that changed everything for us but its pretty cool and super convenient. Del has gone 8 days in underwear (even through naps and nights) and no accidents! Two weeks ago, I could barely get him to sit on the potty. If you are at your wits end and think you child will be the only teenager not potty trained, hang in there! One day, things will just click. Even if there is no evidence that they are getting better with potty training. Be encouraged! Nothing lasts forever.

Thanks for reading! What is a baby-must-have that you love? I love finding new things that make life easier with a baby. God bless!

A Birth Story: The Eyes of the Lord…

Our next story comes from a friend that I knew briefly in college but who has been a life long friend of my two sisters-in-law. She is the cutest little momma and, like many of us, is a birth story junkie. Here is her sweet story of having her third child. Enjoy!


Kate’s birth story, like most things in life, is a little different than I planned or expected, yet tells in such a way to give God the most glory, that man may take no confidence in self or the world. I am truly thankful for the way He unfolded this story to glorify Himself and do a much needed work in our hearts. My prayer is that in writing out Kate’s story God may be further glorified as we etch these truths on our hearts, never to be forgotten, always to stand as witness to His faithfulness, sovereignty, and sufficiency in every step ahead. Oh Lord keep us humble, keep our eyes on you, our voices praising You alone, our hearts trusting You alone. To God be the glory forever and ever, amen.

Well Kate Alison is our third gracious gift from God. We were first un-deservingly entrusted with Audrey almost four years ago, and Peter two years later. We were blessed as well to have 2 safe home-births for both of them. I knew I wanted to do natural birth for reasons we can discuss another time, but felt promoted by the Lord that I needed wise, godly counsel in labor and someone trained to help me have a natural birth successfully… So we went the midwife/home-birth route with both of them. Now after two births, we have come to really love home-birth! I love everything about it, minus the pain, of course. Midwives speaking wise godly counsel into me when my heart wavers, surrendering to the Lord’s time table for labor, my husband at my side coaching me along with tender support and prayer, the uninterrupted bonding with baby, the physical and emotional comfort of home when you feel your worst, the quiet and freedom to set the tone for your birth as quiet dependency upon the Lord, etc etc. You get the picture. Therefore we looked to do Kate’s birth at home as well. But after two other births, I had some ideas of how I wanted to do this birth differently to endure better and treasure it more. The athlete and perfectionist in me always wants to improve!  Truthfully as well, we do not know if Kate is our last baby, so we wanted no regrets. Anything I might wish or wonder about, I decided to just do it!

I had new plans for music, photographers, water-birth, best friends and family present, and hopefully speeding up labor! First, we planned a birth photographer so that I could have a vivid memory of this amazing experience of childbirth to remember forever in case we were truly closing this chapter of our lives. We wanted to forever remember the way God finishes what I cannot, and the simple miracle of life that screams Glory to God! We planned for a professional photographer friend to come from Tyler, but had another amazing servant-hearted friend close by if things went too fast. I was really excited about this since I loooove watching other birth slideshows and could not imagine how amazing it would be to have my own!! Second, we planned for water-birth. Weird to many I know, but I had never tried it, heard it felt amazing in labor, and wanted no regrets. So we got the tub, practiced the connections, and started mentally envisioning giving birth in the birth pool. I didn’t feel I had to do it, and knew I might not even like it, but wanted to try lest I miss out on something amazing! Third, we planned to use music during the whole birth. I had made “birth playlists” with the other two births, yet never used them beyond pre or early labor. Audrey’s birth was so intense, and Peter’s was crazy juggling 2-year-old Audrey and driving to appointments in the car. We could have used music but just forgot in the moment. I was determined this time! I’d seen so many moms worshiping the Lord during labor with music and letting the lyrics wash truth and peace over them to carry them on. So I made a compelling upbeat mix and a slow mix, since I know the intense parts of labor I just needed something really calming. I listened to these playlists all the time the months before birth and used them to prepare my heart … Resting in the biblical truths that steady my heart, focusing my heart on His glory rather than my success, visualizing labor and believing in faith that He would sustain me and deliver me from fear. Fourth, we planned to help my typical loooooong labors hurry up by walking more in labor, visiting the chiropractor in early labor, and staying up and down more during labor. Audrey’s labor was 58 hours of transition-like prodromal labor with no sleep or food until her surprise arrival as my midwife pulled up. Peter’s was a slow steady 29 hours, but either way I was hopping to have my baby the same day I went into labor this time! Lastly, we planned for two of my best friends and our two kids to be present at birth. I felt like it would be a special family moment to share together if the kids could manage it. I planned all kinds of special tricks, toys, movies, and activities to keep them peacefully entertained at the house. My two very best friends were coming to care for the kids during active labor and share this sweet huge life moment together. Initially I planned them to care for the kids but the closer we got the more I just wanted them there to share the moment with me in prayer and praise to God! Beside Jesus and my husband, there is nobody holding me up more in this race of faith than these two ladies. Naturally, it would be a sweet comfort to have them present in labor, like Paul and Jesus were comforted to have their closest friends present in moments of greatest need. So you see, all great well-intentioned and pure hearted plans, but even the best plans are not always His plans. We may expect victory or success to look one way, when in truth He is most glorified in our weakness, neediness, and nothingness. He may have just as well chosen to be glorified by all these things being present, but that was not His plan for Kate’s birth, and His ways are always best.

So now we get to the action… Which started Sunday the 19th. I had been having light painful contractions for a few weeks but at this point I started having other signs like mucus plug, random more painful contractions, diarrhea, etc. I got excited and began doing all I could to go into labor … Walking, running, pineapple, spicy foods, mentally letting go, abiding and worshiping continually, reading and resting in my birth verses daily, Chiropractic, and more.

I really wanted baby Kate to come early for several scheduling reasons but primarily because my best friend left town June 22-27th, yet I was due June 22nd. We began asking in faith just like a child has full freedom to ask their dad for anything! They don’t get everything but there is a sweet child right to have your father’s ear that is such an indescribable undeserved gift! We were all hopeful and excited, but when time passed with no baby I was extremely disappointed that the Lord didn’t bring Kate when she was in town. I just wanted this birth to be perfect and it felt incomplete without her. I had felt led to ask simply like a child for an early baby, but didn’t know what to do when the call to exercise faith didn’t mean He would do it. I was grumpy and discontent to the Lord. As I worked through this in prayer God patiently beckoned me to let go and walk in true faith. It became clear that faith is to believe and ask freely as child, WITHOUT entitlement. In that moment when Dad said no, it was telling of my heart. When He said no I needed to eat my own words to Audrey and “say yes sir with a happy heart, and trust Him.” God gently prodded my heart to consider the sweet joy and privilege of faith. As a child of God, I have unmerited access and right to ask, and that access is almost sweeter than getting what I wanted. The security and intimacy is irreplaceable. To complain would be simply ungrateful, unloving, and disrespectful to my Daddy. I had my ugly heart moment and chose to let go and choose to respect and to love my perfect Father who doesn’t make mistakes. This was the first shift from my original plan, but clearly He was speaking to us about un-entitled faith, confidence in the access and His character instead of specified outcomes, treasuring relationship with Him over blessings, choosing love and respect over abiding in disappointment. So He willed Kate to come late to teach us this sweet truth, and deliver me from an un-submissive, distrusting, entitled heart. So I let go of the day I had planned for His better plan.

Even so this work took all those 5 days to take root. I found myself subconsciously not wanting to do anything that might cause labor until Monday (when my friend came home), which is more manipulation than trust in God. Daily I battled this and asked for grace to help me just walk in step with the Spirit, obedient to whatever He led me to do that day, whether it was running 7 miles and taking the kids to the park or laying down all day resting. These last days were sweet, savoring each minute with my kids and husband, knowing I was not going to be able to devote myself like that to them for a while.

Saturday my heart felt promoted to run, so I ran my normal 7 miles at the gym and that evening the contractions started. They were strong enough to slow me down, but I could keep moving. We got excited that this might be labor starting, frantically cleaned the house, started timing contractions… And then I FREAKED OUT. Panic came over my heart. I did NOT want to do childbirth! I now remembered how hard it was and wished for a way out, but there was none. Baby Kate had to come out and I needed to accept there was no way to escape that task. I also panicked because I have a fear of nights from past years of insomnia. I feared having to do the hardest part of labor at night and found myself telling the Lord, “I can do early labor at night like I did with Peter, but I can’t do transition or pushing at night. Lord, I don’t want to do that!” I knew this was not godly thinking but struggled to steady my emotions. I was also panicking that my best friend wasn’t back yet to be my present prayer support. Colin(husband) spoke with me and reminded me of what is true … “Kate has to come out eventually. You’ve done this before, and you can do this again. The Lord is in control, and if it’s at night He will strengthen you.” Then I called my best friend and she prayed over me affirming that The Lord was clearly speaking to not fear night labor. She prayed many scriptures reminding me of God’s biblical track record of leading, protecting, and strengthening His people in the night. She also reminded me how He never left us in our darkest nights of insomnia, fear, and spiritual attack. If He was with us then, then He would be with me now. I had been afraid of being alone, not having Nat and Sav there, but this reminded me I needed to trust in God NOT man. I had used Colin as a crutch to my unbelief in my past season of insomnia and did not want to do that now. I needed to deeply treasure the support He provides in the Body of Christ, BUT not require it to trust Him. That would not be faith. So I let go of when Kate would come and who could be present.

The next part of my plan to go was the length of labor. Those contractions that started Saturday evening never went away fully till Kate was born Wednesday night(yes that’s 4 solid days). During the day they were 12-15 mins apart and at night 25-30 mins apart. These were mild enough to keep going mostly, but painful enough to slightly drive me mad with the indefinite constant pain and minimal sleep in 20-minute increments at best. It was the weekend so I couldn’t see my chiropractor to speed it up that way. I felt prompted by the Lord to rest fully laying down only sat-sun, which was NOT my plan. Exercise, walking, or moving did not start active labor but just would move my misery from 20 mins apart to 12-15 mins apart to no avail. I tried to rest to conserve energy for the real thing, since I had no idea how many days we’d do this prodromal labor. The nights were the worst! The contractions were much more painful laying down. I would sleep in small increments, praise God, but eventually got up early because my back, groin, and glutes were burning from working all night. Each night they got even stronger till Sunday night I didn’t even stay in my bed. Sunday and Monday night I slept sitting straight up on my couch because that took the edge off the muscle burn so it was more just cervix pain. Each night I chose gratitude that I was getting some sleep, and that they were farther apart than Audrey’s prodromal labor. But as they got stronger, my heart grew tired of the undefined end to all this. Each morning I clung to the birth bible verses I had written on cards and listened to my slow birth mix. My body and heart felt battered, but the songs and scriptures were like balm to a wound or bread to an empty aching stomach. He nourished my soul to carry me on with unshakable peace. Here are just some scriptures/songs that ministered the most to me…

Psalm 23: My eyes and heart were glued to this truth Saturday after my first long night of contractions. I woke exhausted, stiff, and achy yet found an oasis for my soul in Psalm 23. I began the morning singing Shane & Shane’s Psalm 23 over and over. I kept meditating on how My Shepherd MAKES me rest that He may restore my soul; He guides me to bring Him glory. I had NO need to fear with my Shepherd’s protection, comfort, provision, strength, goodness, and love ready by my side. Yes, very real trial ahead but I have a Shepherd who leads with unwavering love, wisdom, and power. I begged the Lord make my heart believe it! That day I felt Him commanding me to spend all day laying down resting in Him physically and spiritually. I chose not to fear the future duration of labor or the next night, for my Shepherd was with me to protect and comfort me.

Psalm 46, 121:1-4, 34:4-8, 131 All comforted me of the night battles… That He was my refuge and strength, He is in the midst of His people and thus they were immovable. The Lord of Hosts is on my side! He never sleeps or slumbers, but is able to keep me with unwavering focus and strength! He delivers us from all our fears as He was delivering me not from the trial yet, but daily delivering me bit by bit from my fear. He encamps around those who only fear God and they will never be ashamed!! Psalm 131 became a beautiful picture of me curled up on that couch praying night and day… I did not have anything to prove or show of how well I was handling this. I simply leaned upon my father like a weaned child leans upon his mother, wholly dependent, fully trusting, and confidently resting trust.

Psalm 33:16-19 was the verse I read every day even weeks before birth until she was born. It became a theme verse for me over the whole thing. “A king is not saved by a mighty army, a warrior is not delivered by great strength, a horse is a false hope for victory, nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength. Behold the eye of the Lord is upon those who fear Him, on those who hope for His loving kindness, to deliver their soul from death and to keep them alive in famine.” I would not be delivered through this childbirth by the “army”- the people who were going to be present to help me. I was not going to succeed by my “great strength”- I would not be rested physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually coming into active labor, but instead would enter it feeling empty with no personal strength to offer. I would not endure victoriously by the “horse”- labor tools like music or birth pool. The Lord kept telling me put no hope in the “birth plan” but hope in Him. His eye, His favor and watchful care, would be upon me because I fear God and hope in His love… Not because I did wonderfully. So I chose to daily fear God and obey, not to resist in pride or self trust. I chose to hope in His love no matter what happened. He can deliver us from death and famine, thus he could keep us safe and sustain us when we felt our weakest and were least able to do anything.

Psalm 139 and Isaiah 55:8-9 that He was not surprised about the 5 days of labor it took. He saw me in the darkness of night struggling alone and there was no place I could go from His Spirit! He was present with me and in full knowledge. I kept singing Kari Jobe’s song (I am not alone), especially the morning of June 28th, after my last and worst prodromal labor night. I spent all Tuesday just trying to stop focusing on labor and just relax. I stopped timing contractions and just enjoyed The Lord and family as much as I could. I even got a massage that afternoon and then really slept for the first time Tuesday night since the previous Friday! Hallelujah!  

Psalm 103:1-5 I added to my prayer cards when I woke Wednesday morning after having slept laying down without contractions for several hours!?!! I woke undone with tearful gratitude and refreshment! I just kept singing

“Bless the Lord oh my soul, oh my soul, worship his holy name, sing like never before oh my soul, worship his holy name. The sun comes up its a new day dawning. It’s time to sing your songs again. Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me, let me be singing when the evening comes…”

You know the rest. I felt deep within my soul the call of His Spirit to just bless His name today. I prayed that no matter what happened that His name would be blessed by me, my family, my church family praying with me… That this labor would unfold in a way that blesses His name. That’s all I wanted, no matter what the outcome. It was so freeing just to praise Him for Him. I read Psalm 103:1-5 and just kept repeating to myself how He has done all those things for me in Jesus! I thanked Him for everything I could think of in light of past struggles when He was faithful. He is so good. My goal that day was simple, to bless His name. When Audrey woke we talked over this, prayed through it, and sang together.

So after the prodromal labor finally broke overnight Tuesday we woke Wednesday (exactly 41 weeks) refreshed to only have a few mild contractions. I chose to not time or focus on them at all, just to get out and enjoy some family time! After a slow sweet morning in, we decided to go to Irving Bible Church to let the kids burn off some energy and then swing by Kohls to look for clothes for Colin. We all piled in the car, Colin and I, the kids, and his sweet mom (Janda) who had stayed with us for over a week now helping us (Praise God for Janda!!!). The ride to the church was so bumpy we were joking that maybe if we kept driving I’d go into labor. Lol. When we got to Irving Bible Church, the kids rushed in to play in the tubes. Peter tends to get scared so we decided to all play together in the kiddy part with him. I had a few contractions but just tried to relax and breathe through them like I had all week, as I sat on my knees on the floor.

While we were all talking happily, Janda slipped and slid down the ramp on her booty on accident and we all started laughing. My heart felt so glad for this lighthearted moment. Just then randomly Janet James (one of our worship pastors’ wife) walked in the door and as we were laughing and saying hi, all of a sudden my water broke. I wasn’t sure then I moved and it ALL came out! I was shocked and they all stared at me, wondering what was wrong. Much to my disbelief, I excitedly said, “My water just broke!” All week I had reassured everyone my water bags are thick and don’t break till I’m at a ten pushing, but here we were! We were so excited it was FINALLY go time! We retreated to the car leaving a trail of wet everywhere, wet flip-flops squelching, hearts rushing and faces beaming! (We did alert and apologize for the mess to IBC staff for the record.) I called my midwife and she told me to go home and stay home to avoid infection, that labor typically starts 12-24 hrs after water breaks, and to call her once contractions started to develop a pattern or get more intense. The whole drive home was surreal and giddy. We laughed, prayed, and told the kids we were going to meet baby Kate soon! Much to my surprise though, I had NO contractions now.

Once home, we tried to get everything ready thinking labor would set in any minute but still no action! We turned our music on, texted friends, fed the kids, cleaned up, I took a shower, and put on my labor clothes… but still just a stray weak contraction here and there. While I was thankful for the break, the fear started to set in. Is something wrong? What if contractions don’t come? Is she safe? Can we still do home-birth? At what point do we need to transfer to a hospital? I began a feverish text convo with my midwife pouring out all these fearful questions, and she of course responded with gentle honesty and calm confidence ( reason 100,000,000 why we picked Cheryl!). I could tell people were starting to get nervous, but her unwavering trust in God gave me firm ground to stand. My midwife explained that because my water broke I had to stay home inside, no chiropractor, no outdoor walking, no running, no to everything I could do to speed up labor! She explained that I had 24 hrs to start labor before she recommends transfer to hospital as extra precaution from infection, but reminded me to relax as only 5 hours had passed since my water broke.

So here I found myself yet again throwing out my plans…. there was no speeding labor up, only wholly dependent waiting. I could watch the clock and monitor every contraction with frantic control, or I figured we could put on a good movie like “While You Were Sleeping” and play some more Monopoly. I sat on the ball trying to breathe and give in to every contraction. I timed them but didn’t focus on it much. I knew my sense of time was way off so I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going into labor unknowingly. We played for hours like we had every night it seems just to pass the time with laughter. The contractions finally started to take some focus so I paused when I had one but they were still 15-20 mins apart with a stray 8 min apart set. Same as usual I thought. I started mentally preparing that I might do another night of this junk even though I thought my water breaking meant that the prodromal business was DONE! In hindsight I can recall the contractions definitely got more intense as I would periodically stop to hunch over the couch or dresser as I swayed my body trying to give in to them, visualizing Kate finding her way down. Even so I knew part of my heart was clinging to fear unwilling to fully let go.

Around 8:30pm we got the kids to bed and I was growing fearful of the fact that I still had no progress in contractions developing a pattern or getting close together. So I called Cheryl again to ask her what to do, pausing off and on to embrace contractions. She explained my options to A) try to rest tonight and if we aren’t in labor by morning start naturally trying to induce at home OR B) she could come now and we could try to naturally induce tonight. She told me it just depended on what I felt like I could handle. In my mind I thought, “where is plan C? I can’t do either!!” I was afraid to rest and lose more time on the deadline before transfer to the hospital. I was afraid we’d get infected if I didn’t hurry and do something! I was afraid to have another miserable sleepless night of contractions only to come into the real thing more worn out. I was afraid to induce contractions since she said once she had a mom who ended up starting irregular contractions (more prodromal!!!) that lasted another 50-60hrs before progressive labor set in!!! I was emotionally flying off the rails in my heart! I was not in control and did not even feel competent to make this decision of what to do going forward. I was helpless, defeated, fearful, exhausted, and just paralyzed mentally. Cheryl could tell I was not okay, and yet again she spoke such needed truth into me, and assured me she was going to come and talk with me in person to see what we wanted to do. This comforted me so much since I couldn’t decide anything in this state of mind. She shared a story about one of her own births in which she stopped progressing when her best friend went into labor during her birth. Because she felt bad that they shared the same midwife she was unable to progress until mentally she let go of that. So in the most gentle but serious way possible she told me, “we are not going to get anywhere tonight or tomorrow if you are holding onto anything. If you are sad or mad at God, then you need to get it out before I get there. Talk to Him, cry, whatever you need to do to move on. He’s got this! Do not worry. He is in control.” 

Welp, hammer on the nail. She hit it dead on. I closed the door to my room and got on my knees by my bed and wept. Crying out to God in all my mess of emotion, I confessed my many fears, my anger that I had to do prodromal labor again with Kate, my confusion why He was delaying, my frustration of not having any control at all, etc. Then I began laying these down and letting go of each one in view of His character and His Word. At this point contractions seemed to almost stop completely!! I called Natalie and she prayed over me and told me to let go of the “birth plan.” The Lord was doing this His way. If that meant no music, no pictures, no ppl, no family moment, no personal success, no waterbirth , or even no homebirth … His plan was what He wanted, and His plans are best. I had Colin then come back and pray with me too. I told him everything Cheryl said and everything on my heart. There is something about your husband that just provides a safe place to fully let the walls down. I finally told him with tear filled eyes, ” I don’t want to do this. I am afraid. I have no way out. I am afraid to linger in prodromal but I am afraid to progress into the real labor. My heart just won’t!” I pointed out that I was literally shaking and shivering, telling him my body is just SO tired. He held me, spoke sweet truth over me, and prayed over me. Then, we laid together in the bed just trying to breathe emotionally before getting up to go forward. The contractions started again but I dismissed them assuming it was the same as earlier. As I lay on my side curled up holding a pillow like a child, Colin held me. Slowly the contractions rolled on. They felt intense again, so I timed them but tried to only look at the timer at the start of each one. Often I would quietly and feebly cry out “Lord help me!” “Please start labor, please Lord.” I would hear Colin agreeing tenderly in prayer “yes Lord, please.” Contractions were 7-10 mins apart, which was nothing new, but then I noticed these contraction were longer. The others were 30-45 seconds all these past 5 days, but these were 90-120 seconds long. I thought that was weird but dismissed it again. My phone rang and Cheryl called to say she was running late but her student intern was coming now to check my vitals and that she herself would be there in 40 mins hopefully. Even so, I was still so at ease knowing she was coming. Her coming presence was like promised help, security, and wisdom. My heart relaxed and just tried to focus through these contractions. They were painful but so had been my contractions every night, so again I just focused on pacing myself, and not fearing. My whole body was trembling like I was freezing when the intern Laquita came. Thankfully, all my and baby’s vitals were good, praise God! So she put a blanket on me and Colin held me as I just relaxed and waited for Cheryl to arrive.

Cheryl arrived between 10-10:30pm, I can’t remember exactly, but thank you Jesus! She spoke with such a calming motherly voice, stroking my arm, rubbing my legs as you do to your kids when they’re cold, and looked at me with that level headed loving way she does. She checked my vitals again, watched me do a few contractions and then asked, “So what are you thinking you want to do?” I just blubbered out again “I don’t know, I just don’t know.” She explained that I looked like I was having some significant contractions and might actually be in labor. She suggested that it might be good to check me to see if I’m dilating, BUT reminded me that if she did that, it would put bacteria in there and we could no longer wait indefinitely to go to the hospital. If she checked me, we’d need a baby in 12 hours or transfer. I was so afraid and didn’t know what to tell her, but she calmly gathered me and said, “I think to decide what to do, we need some information. We need to know where you’re at. If you’re at a two and this exhausted we need to know that or if your body shakes are a sign you’re in transition, we need to know that too, we simply need to know more to make a wise decision at this point for you and baby.” I nodded my head with tears that I agreed. She could read my fear right before she checked me and affirmed again, ” Mallory, don’t be afraid. We are not going to be afraid. If you’re at a two, that’s okay! That’s okay! He’s in control here.” As she was checking she began to smile and say, “Well momma, no wonder, you’re at a 6 almost 7.  You’re in transition honey. We’re going to have a baby tonight!”

Immediately I began crying in gratitude to the Lord, “Thank you Lord! Thank you Jesus! Thank you!” Over and over I said this in awe! I thought I was up for another long night or possibly several days only to find out it was almost time to push!?!! I couldn’t believe it. I reached to text Natalie and only got out some brief probably confusing text about being in transition and having a baby tonight. Colin asked me if I wanted to call people to come, but I knew this birth was imminent and unless they were less than 30 mins away they would not make it! I knew I wanted them here but was so disoriented as transition does to any laboring momma. I quickly moved on from this request; I just needed Colin to focus, I needed every second of his presence right now as contractions began to roll in back to back. Cheryl asked if I wanted Colin to go fill the birth pool, but I quickly dismissed that since I could tell we didn’t have 40 mins and I couldn’t let Colin leave me. Cheryl went to take a quick shower since she had been sweaty outside moving houses all day, while Laquita began setting everything up to deliver this baby in my room. The pressure was so intense I found myself already grunting to push!?! “Cheryl is in the shower!” I thought, “and I don’t even have the cover on my bed yet!!!” Just then Cheryl came in and told me I needed to breathe unless I wanted to ruin my bed. Lol. Kate was coming FAST and it was all hands on deck since our support midwife was still in route! Janda was rushing around bringing them supplies and they helped me slowly roll over like a whale, hastily shoving the mattress cover and sheet underneath me. There was no slowing this down, no getting in a squat position, or anything. Kate was coming! So laying on my side I started pushing her out! The pain is so unbearable yet at the same time it is intoxicating to surrender into that natural urge to push! After a few pushes out came baby’s head – I felt so much better. I tried to push her body out but her shoulders were resisting since Kate was refusing to fully rotate. So we pulled my leg back as far as I could to make space. Just like that, out she came on June 29th at 11:24pm, crying that comforting sweet newborn cry that signifies life! I kept crying in awe, “Thank you Jesus, thank you Lord!” An hour ago I didn’t know I was in labor and feared the worst, and now here I was DONE with labor holding my sweet Kate. She rested on my chest and I just tried to breathe and process what had happened!

I remembered, “A king is not saved by a mighty army, a warrior is not delivered by great strength, a horse is a false hope for victory, nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength. Behold the eye of the Lord is upon those who fear Him, on those who hope for His loving-kindness, to deliver their soul from death and to keep them alive in famine.” Yes, Lord indeed, this had been manifested true today! My plan for a successful birth had been thrown out for His plan, and no glory could be given to my friends, to the birth pool, to the music, to the chiropractor, to anything I did. All glory be to God who did what I could not, who started labor when I could do nothing but wait, who directed labor when I did not know what to do, who brought Kate forth when I met the end of myself. To God be the Glory forever and ever amen.


Wow. What a precious story of faith, pain, life, and the sweetness of God’s grace shining through the face of a new child. Thank you, Mallory for letting us experience all the ups and downs of labor and the glory of new life! If you need more birth stories, check out The Honest Truth page.  Thanks for reading and God bless!

A Birth Story: Perfectly Pink

Our next birth story comes from my precious sister-in-law, Claire, as she recounts the birth of her second child. When I starting dating my husband, I had no idea that the family I would one day marry into would soon become my closest friends. Claire has been a precious friend to me and it has been so amazing watching her become the sweetest mother to her girls. What a blessing it is to have friends and go through all of life’s adventures together.

Get ready for a nail biter! Enjoy!


Reese Elizabeth was born on May 28th, around 10:00 in the morning weighing 8 lbs. 4 oz. Her entrance into this world was memorable to say the least. After my first baby girl, Mary Claire, came into this world naturally with the help of a nurse, doula, and doctor at the hospital, I knew that we were ready to give a home birth a try. Mary Claire’s birth was pretty standard in many ways. She was born on her due date after eighteen hours of labor that began very slowly and steadily progressed until I pushed her into this world. Knowing what I’ve read about second births, I was anticipating my labor with Reese to be a little shorter, and I was also banking on easier and faster pushing! I looked forward to laboring and delivering in the water with the help of my amazing midwife, Cori. I should have known that all my plans and expectations would take a different route, because that is the nature of labor and birth, after all.

The night before Reese was born, I was going on four days past my due date. I had been experiencing lots of cramping and Braxton Hicks, and I was DONE. I cried to my husband, Cody, that I couldn’t bear another day. Reese must have felt my frustration, because around 5:00 am the next morning, I awoke to some intense cramping. It felt very much like period cramps, but they were strong enough to prevent me from going back to sleep. So, I decided to park it on the couch and see what came of it. My twin sister, Caroline, who was also full-term pregnant, noticed my early morning social media activity and texted me to see why I was up. She was also awake due to pregnancy discomforts, so we lamented together.
 
Around 5:30, I felt the first contraction. In that moment, it was undeniable that my time had come. Caroline suggested that I time my contractions. While I did this, I decided that since there was surely several hours of early labor ahead of me, I would put on a calming movie. I started Pride and Prejudice, of course, and waited for the contractions to roll in. They were all over the map in distance between them, but lasted about 45-60 seconds. I noted to myself that they were fairly more noticeable than my previous labor had begun. 7:00 AM rolled around, and I could hear Mary Claire starting to stir. I went and woke Cody to tell him the news that labor had begun. He knew what to do! We started the day with Mary Claire like normal. Cody drove to Einstein Bagels, an apparent labor tradition in the making, to buy me a hearty breakfast to prepare me for the task ahead. I ate my breakfast sandwich and decided to get in the bath to relax. My midwife had been alerted already, and she suggested I relax as well.
 
As I attempted to relax in the bath, it became clear to me that I was, indeed, not relaxed! This bath was not doing the job I expected it to do. My mind was already giving way to fear of the pain. So I began to repeat a mantra I saved onto my phone so that I would remember it in the hours to come. “I am stronger than my contractions, because they are a part of me.” This bath was over. I needed to get dressed and comfortable. That meant hunkering down in bed. Cody was set with the task of tending to Mary Claire as we waited for my mother to arrive. Therefore, the majority of this time was spent alone, listening to my body, concentrating through contractions, and trying to force myself to change positions. Cody would check on me and ask if I wanted him to call the midwife. Since it had only been about three hours since the labor began, I hesitated to call her. It was ‘too soon’ in my experience. Plus, the contractions continued to be varied in length and frequency. In spite of this, they continued to intensify. I was repeating my mantra and focusing hard through each one. Every movement or change of position incited a contraction. I found myself longing for a respite, so I laid back down in bed and parked it there. My mother had finally arrived, so Cody was able to check on me and stay with me. I was still hesitating to make the call, so he made the decision for me and told Cori she should head over. When he informed me that she was twenty minutes away, I estimated about how many more contractions I would have to do without her before she arrived. I was not encouraged! He then asked me if he should fill up the tub. THE TUB. Ugh, all this hard laboring, and I didn’t even think to use the biggest tool I had.
 
He began to fill the tub, and as he did, I reached transition. I could no longer concentrate through the contractions as they lasted 1.5 minutes and had become so strong that no thought could enter or linger in my mind. All I could do was moan through them, something that helped me immensely in my labor with Mary Claire. It was currently the only tool I had. After about four or five really tough contractions, my water broke. I instantly became “Type A” Claire and rolled out of bed,  so that the mattress wouldn’t ruin. It’s amazing how you can go from completely thoughtless to intensely concerned about a potential mess. OY. I thought to myself, I better go to the toilet to contain the fluid. As I waddled over and sat down, I had the most intense contraction of all. I lost complete control of the moment and grabbed the walls and screamed in pain. Cody was by my side instantly, but had become slightly undone. As the contraction subsided, I dropped a bombshell on Cody. I told him I felt like I needed to push! Cody was officially undone. “What do I do?” he screamed! I pulled myself together between the contractions and told him to help me to the tub. By this time, the midwife was on speaker phone giving me instructions to get horizontal and NOT to push as she madly sped down the highway to our house. I couldn’t deny that I was scared. I wanted my midwife there. I didn’t want Reese to come yet. I had no idea what was going to happen.
New family of four with sweet midwife holding the newest addition.
In the midst of my fear, I continued to listen to and trust my body. I tried my hardest not to push, but I looked down to see the top of Reese’s head. I couldn’t be inactive. I sat down in the water, and gave one big push. After her head was delivered, I stood up, and then Cody came to my aid to help deliver her, even though he had not one iota of knowledge about what to do. I hesitate to include this next comment in my story, because it definitely wasn’t a part of the vision I had for this birth. But it’s honest, and therefore, deserves to be shared. Somewhere in the midst of her delivery, I shouted “Get her out of me!” I chuckle at it now, because I longed to have that calm, quiet strength I see so many women display during birth. I guess my strength is more vocal…Regardless, she quickly came out, and the relief was instant, but also was my need to hold her. He handed her to me, and I sat down in the water to check her out. She was perfectly pink, her mouth was clear, and she had a strong cry. Instantly, I saw how beautiful she was, and I knew we were going to be okay. It was over! I was in shock. My mind was swirling with the events that just occurred and the fact that I was actually holding my baby in my arms with no midwife in sight. Just my shell-shocked husband who managed to keep calm enough to deliver his baby!
 
Proud dad.

Cody went to unlock the door for the midwife and to informed my mother, to her disbelief, that Reese was here! In all, she had been there for twenty minutes before Reese was born! After about five minutes, the student midwife arrived. She immediately assessed Reese and determined she looked great! Cori arrive a couple minutes after that. The whole team got to work taking care of me and Reese. What a wild and fast ride. We snuggled Reese in bed all day, retold the story to each other over and over, and continued to sit in the disbelief yet also in the knowledge that God is good and the birth was perfect. Next time, I plan to trust myself instead of any clock to determine when the midwife should arrive. Cody has enjoyed the accolades and teasing as people call him Dr. Cody at work. Reese turned out to be the most chill baby on the planet, somehow defying the fast and furious entrance she made into this world. The pain of childbirth is entirely eclipsed by the miracle of letting your body do what it was created to do. The moments immediately following birth when I have brought my baby to my chest, am soaking in their existence and instant connection as their mother, those are the most powerful moments of my life so far. Nothing can compare to it. I’ll forever be thankful to God that I am able to carry and deliver life.

~Claire


Thanks so much for reading! To catch up on the other birth stories, check out The Honest Truth page. Surely I am not the only one who can not get enough stories about how precious babies enter this world! There is truly nothing like it. Happy Friday and God bless!

The Day the Pigs Escaped!

Life is full of many funny/serious/unusual things that happen throughout a human’s life. Have you ever asked a relative a question like, “How did you end up in Connecticut when you were born in New Orleans?” or “What was great aunt Suzie’s brother’s wife’s name? You know, the one that jumped in that pit of rattle snakes by mistake.”  Once a person leaves this earth, their stories will go with them. Unless we can share our stories with one another while we are here, no one will remember all the little adventures that make our lives worth living. My mom is always on the hunt to record any family story she can. After talking to her one day, we decided to exchange our own stories for family record keeping over email. Our efforts have slowly tapered off and we need to start it up again! I just stumbled over this one that I wrote about when I was 7 months pregnant with our first son. I thought it definitely needed to go on the Mommy Mishaps Page! Its in pure story form, so just imagine an old Southern woman with snow-white hair telling you this story while she rocks in a creaky rockin’ chair on a big front porch, sipping a cold glass of sweet tea. Hope you enjoy!


On a brisk November morning in a small town in central Missouri, something was about to go a wry.  On a small bit of land just outside of town, there lived two happy couples in one house. The Bech****s had deep roots in the Missouri community and had a sweet baby boy of about ten months. The Browns were fairly new to the state and were soon to be expecting their first child in about two months. Both couples shared adventures of gardening and animal raising. Some things came easy to them like collecting eggs every morning. Others were more difficult like weeding the never ending garden that, among other things, had too many varieties of tomato.  But both families were happy and enjoyed being together.

The day before, the Bech****s had left to visit extended family out of state and Mr. Brown headed south to Texas to begin a new job and prepare a new home for his wife and soon-to-be-expected child. Mrs. Brown was left in the Missouri home to tend to the animals and day to day business. Special precautions were taken to make sure she didn’t need to lift anything that was of any weight, or strain herself in any way while she was to hold down the fort for the next four days.

The morning of this brisk November day, Mrs. Brown woke up ready to take on the world. She had a lovely breakfast of six scrambled eggs, two pieces of toast, a cup of orange juice, a cup of coffee, and some homemade granola and yogurt with sliced bananas. As she ate, Mrs. Brown thought of her morning chores and also what she would make for lunch. Later, the phone rang as she was dressing so she let it go to the machine (Neither couple had a cell phone. All four adults shared a landline and answering machine). Mr. Buss**, a cousin of the Bech****s, called with the most distressing news. The pigs had escaped and were running down the country highway! Mrs. Brown, quite alarmed but determined to fix the problem, grabbed her running shoes and hustled out the door.

She spotted the monstrous black hogs barreling down the road and she walked swiftly toward them. What would she do when she reached these troublesome pigs? Mrs. Brown had no idea.  But she continued after them just the same.  Half terrified of the wild eyed pigs and half not wanting to cause her very pregnant belly to bounce around out of control, she approached the pigs with caution. She got a long stick to aid her in herding the swine into a corner. This worked somewhat but once cornered, the pigs ran at her! She jumped out of the way as best she could and turned around. She was on the move once again. She grabbed a small bucket of feed and shook it furiously to try to entice the animals to follow her back to their pen. This worked somewhat, but the pigs had so many new things to explore, they quickly lost interest in the feed.  Soon the cavalry finally arrived and Mr. Buss** and a 70 year old neighbor came to Mrs. Brown’s aid. The three humans finally corralled the three pigs into the neighbor’s pen. This is where the swine remained for the next four days until Mr. Bech**** and Mr. Brown came back to bring the pigs home. Mrs. Brown walked down the street every single day to feed and water her re-located future pork chops. Luckily, she didn’t have any other adventures of that nature whilst home alone.
The lesson in this story is to never be too confident in one’s own preparations. Life can change on a dime and you must adapt with it. Whenever you feel quite sorted with all your ducks in a row and you think that nothing could go wrong, the pigs will always get out.

Thanks so much for reading! Check out my other Mommy Mishaps!

A Birth Story: January Sunshine

As I look back three years ago today, I remember the first time I gazed into my sweet second born’s face. Such a precious little soul that has had such an impact on our family. After a roller coaster pregnancy, we learned many lessons but especially how love grows as a family grows. Let me start from the beginning:

The news of this precious new baby came as a pretty big surprise. I was loving every minute of mothering my sweet little one year old and to say we were smitten with our first born would be an understatement. I daydreamed about what it would be like to have more children one day but wasn’t really planning for it (to be honest, we weren’t doing anything that would prevent it either. Just living life willy nilly.) A few months after our sweet son had his first birthday, we decided to make a somewhat abrupt life change and left the non-profit my husband worked for to move closer to family. Living near family had never been a top priority before we had kids. We had several adventures to pursue. But after having our first, we realized the blessing of being near others who loved our children as much as we did.

We moved to my husband’s parents’ town to begin our pursuit of settling down to raise a family. But we were in transition. So we moved in with his parents while we got settled looking for a place to stay and for my husband to find a job as he worked toward getting his teaching certification. One month turned into six months, and we felt all the transition pains as we worked toward our goal of getting settled.

The first month we lived with his sweet parents, I discovered much to my surprise (I really should not have been surprised at all) that we were expecting our second child!  When I saw the pregnancy test was positive, I laughed, cried, and fell to the bathroom floor. Babies are always good news but this was a lot to take in.  After all, I had no home to call my own, no income to support us, and now had a hard deadline to work all these life necessities out. I shouldn’t act like I would be the one to fix these issues. God had it all in His hands, thanks to His goodness. After seeing the test results, I  ran out of the house to tell my husband, who was climbing out of the boat after a morning of fishing. His parents live on a private lake that is full of some seriously huge fish just waiting to be fried up and gobbled up.  I don’t even think I said any words to my husband when I stood face to face with him. I just nodded with tears in my eyes and watched my husband smile from ear to ear as he wrapped his arms around me.

The next morning, I remember jumping out of bed and running to the bathroom to throw my guts up. I hadn’t thrown up once with my first pregnancy so I hoped this wasn’t foreshadowing difficult months to come. I find it so odd that I hadn’t felt nauseous at all before taking the test. Now that I knew I was pregnant, all the pregnancy symptoms seemed to wash over me at once.  I am so psychological, it’s kind of embarrassing.  Though, the pregnancy was a bit harder in general than my first one, this was the only time I actually had to hug the porcelain. Very thankful that it did not continue.

Through the rest of the pregnancy, my husband worked on his certification and interviewed with schools, as well as worked as a waiter at a local restaurant.  I got bigger and found an amazing group of midwives as I planned on having a home in which to have a home-birth when the time came. I also search halfheartedly for a job to help get us through this tough financial period. I could not get my mind around working and leaving my sweet one year old during the day! I knew he would be well cared for by my mother-in-law but I wanted to be the one that did everything for him. This was seriously hard for me to get over. And pregnancy hormones and mood swings did not help one iota.

Eventually, I found a job working at Lowes in the paint department for 4 hour shifts for 5 days a week. It ended up being a great experience and was just what we needed to get us through until my husband’s first teaching paycheck.  It was a strange time for us because my husband and I had pretty much opposite schedules and rarely saw each other. It made me so much more thankful for every moment I did get to spend with him.

Soon after my husband started teaching, we moved into a 1920’s duplex in the historic side of town and began making real strides toward getting things set up before the birth. We also worked hard at trying to insulate our old but awesome duplex so that our newborn wouldn’t feel winter’s blustery temperatures.

Because I only had two cycles between weening my son and getting pregnant with this second baby, we weren’t sure when the due date would be. My midwife settled on mid-December after calculating the due date based on my last period. As, the days rolled by, I felt huge all over! I even thought my face looked different than it had before. I did some walking and exercise, but not like I had with my first. And I did not spend much time mentally preparing for the birth. Settling in a new place and all the added stress of starting over was a pretty good pre-occupier of my thoughts.

Mid-December was fast approaching and I wasn’t measuring where I should. Everything else looked great and I was consistently measuring larger at each appointment, but still smaller based on my due date.  I wasn’t worried. I knew due dates are iffy especially when there isn’t a sonogram to help nail it down. After much thought and conversation, my midwives decided to move the date back. But because of a simple miscommunication, they moved it back two weeks instead of what the senior midwife suggested which was four weeks. That may sound confusing and nerve-racking, which it was to some degree.  But really it was the waiting and thinking this baby could come at any moment for 5 long weeks! I even called my parents thinking that I was going into labor one day. It was a total false alarm. But they wanted to stayed a couple days to wait for the baby to come. They didn’t want to leave only to find out that the baby decided that only then would be the right time to come into the world. Nothing is worse than someone waiting for your baby to come. It is totally out of the mother’s hands and yet she can feel so responsible. Eventually the decision was made to go back to life as normal until serious contractions started, which ended up being over a week later.

The day finally arrived and I felt the consistent waves of contractions around 6:30 that morning. The night before, I had stayed up with my mother-in-law and sisters-in-law watching the finale of Downton Abbey. It was great having one last girls night before starting over with a newborn.

The contractions slowly got stronger over time. I remember letting my mom know that the birth was actually going to happen and my parents drove to be there. I really wanted my mom to attend the birth this time. I knew she would be helpful but I also wanted her to have the amazing experience of witnessing a home-birth. I am so glad she made it. I remember her being so encouraging as I worked through a few more difficult contractions as my husband set up the birth pool and other things before the midwife arrived.

I don’t have many details about the birth in my memory any more. But I do remember getting into the birthing tub. Last time, the birthing tub was just what I wanted at the end of my labor. But this time, I remember sitting in the water, not ready yet to push. So I was aware that I was wet, half naked, sitting in a kiddie pool in the middle of my bedroom while my midwife, mother, and husband stared at me. It was weird. I felt kind of ridiculous like, “How did I get into this bizarre situation?” I also remember looking down at the water and noticing grass floating around. “He didn’t wash off the water hose like I asked him to,” was my only thought. I had to get out of that water pronto.

So I got out and toweled off and my midwife helped me get on my bed. Shortly after, I started pushing (not really feeling the urge but my midwife said I could). I remember having a difficult time with it. I know labor is always hard. But I was having a hard time staying focused, unlike with my first birth. I don’t know why really. Later I chalked it up to not being as prepared as I should have been.

I had read that a sign that the baby is about to come is when the mother expresses self-doubt. She will typically express that she doesn’t believe she can really push the baby out. I remember thinking this as I said out loud, “I don’t think I can do this!” I don’t think I really had self-doubt. I just really wanted the labor to be over so I thought if I said this, it would help it along. Again, I am so psychological, its embarrassing. My midwife looked at me very directly and asked what I meant by not thinking I can do this. I think she was trying to gauge whether I was going to need help as in medical intervention or if I was essentially, just complaining. I told her that it was just hard and that I am ready for it to be over. I saw her face relax. She then asked me to get off the bed and squat on the floor as I pushed, just to get things going. I reluctantly let her and my husband help me to the floor. I remember squatting down and my sweet midwife held my hands as she encouraged me to push. With this push, I heard a pop and looked down to see a burst of water hit the floor. Just like in the movies! I felt just like the Cone-head mom when her water broke. It went everywhere. All over my midwives pants which I apologized profusely. And I didn’t look, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how we had yet to get a bed frame and our box-spring was just sitting on the floor. Seriously disgusting.

My midwife then helped me get back on the bed and the real serious pushing began. I believe I only pushed one or two more times before the head was delivered and a push or two later for the rest of my sweet baby to come out to meet us. It was another boy! I could hardly believe it since this pregnancy was so different than our first son’s. But I was instantly over-the-moon in love with our precious Delano David.  8 lbs and 11 ounces of pure January sunshine.  After 11 hours of labor, on such a cold, January day, I had the warmest snuggle partner in the whole world.

I remember when Jenkins came home from my in-laws to meet his new brother. My sweet two year old peaked his head into my room to see me. When he saw I was holding another baby, he stood up straight and said “Bye bye, momma.” just like a big boy and closed the door. He started sleeping in a toddler bed that night by his own request. He became my husband best friend after that day for long time, even though he still gave me plenty of love.  But he grew up instantly that moment. It is still heart-breaking for me to think about it.  But when new babies come into the family, everyone has to adjust. Even though I hated losing my baby Jenkins, I was still giving him the best gift in the world, a brother. My newborn had his parents and his brother to love him. Love is never divided between children as if a parent has only so much to give. Love multiplies with every new family member that comes into the fold. It’s amazing watching a family grow. On that sweet day our family of three became a family of four, and we have never been the same since.


Thanks so much for reading! To read other birth stories, go to The Honest Truth page. Be sure to read my friend, Kate’s birth story from last week: A Birth Story: Three Kids Under An Ozark Roof. God bless!

A Birth Story: Three Kids Under An Ozark Roof

Our next birth story comes from a precious friend of mine that I met 12 years ago (kind of unbelievable). We were hall-mates our freshmen year of college and had no idea we would be life long friends. We happened to marry two men who were room-mates and good friends, as well.  

When we were young newly weds, the four of us day-dreamed of adventures in self-sufficient farming. We also wanted to test the conventional way of living one family to a household and decided to try communal living. (That may sound weird and hippy-ish, and maybe it was, but it was also a sweet and amazing experience) We traveled cross-country to make this day-dream a reality. For almost a year and a half, we lived in the same house whilst gardening (and shopping at the grocery store), and raising livestock like a young calf, chickens, pigs, and even a few goats.  Many a day was spent chasing any one of these creatures down the road on which we lived (we had a lot to learn). Both of our first born sons were born in that place that we so lovingly named The Ozark House.

This was taken soon after they had their first son. Our first wasn’t even on the way. My husband is jokingly holding a baby doll.

I even had the absolute pleasure of being in attendance at their son’s birth. I know that I would not have been so open to home-birth for my own children if I had not had this amazing privilege. It was a true gift to be a witness to the miracle of birth.

Kate has written a side by side look at all three of her pregnancies and births. It is full of all the fun and realistic details that make every birth so unique. Enjoy!


“I gave birth to three babies at home, in the same home actually, here in central Missouri, where we have chickens, a dairy cow, and a garden. That sounds picturesque and magical, but I assure you, it’s not. Just visit, and you’ll see that our lives only sound beautiful and ideal on a blog or in a book, but not in real life. In real life, there is a lot of poop and frustration. All three of my home births have been very similar- sounds dreamy and unattainable, but really, just a lot of poop and a lot of frustration. But my life and my births are also beautiful and magical and something that I would do again and again. I may be addicted to having babies. Our 3rd baby is not even one, and I’m already getting the hankering for another. I sat down to write down my birth experiences, and I was quickly reminded one important fact- I am a horrible writer. So I decided to share my births in a side by side comparison. Before giving birth, especially a home birth, it’s important to realize how different each experience can be. You have the be ready for anything! What an adventure!

Working hard in the birthing tub! All hands on deck.

Birth Number One

  • Pregnancy- great, worked out a lot, rested a lot, no morning sickness
  • Labor Started- 10 days “late”, 4am
  • Preliminary Labor (feels like gas cramps)- 12 hours
  • Active Labor- 12 hours
  • Total- 24 hours
  • Transition- hard work!
  • Water Broke- during pushing
  • Pushing Intensity- hard work, but did it just fine
  • Birth Time- 4am the next day
  • Ultrasound- none
  • Tearing- a tiny little bit, no stitches needed
  • Gender Reveal- found out after birth, BOY
  • Postpartum Blues- a lot! Pretty blue for several months
  • Breastfeeding- hard to figure out, bad latch, a lot of pain! It got better after about 6 weeks.
Sweet newborn cuddles and much needed rest with Baby #2.

Birth Number Two

  • Pregnancy- pretty good, tired 1st trimester, didn’t work out, but chased a toddler around, had a horrible sinus infection/ double ear infection around time of birth
  • Labor Started- one week “early” with water trickling, around noon
  • Preliminary Labor- no contractions, just waters slowing leaking
  • Active Labor- started at 8pm
  • Total- 8 hours
  • Transition- not as hard as 1st baby, but still some work, seemed to go by fast
  • Water Broke- before labor started
  • Pushing Intensity- easy peasy, baby just slipped out
  • Birth Time- around 4am the next day
  • Ultrasound- none
  • Tearing- none
  • Gender Reveal- found out after birth, GIRL!
  • Postpartum Blues- none, so happy afterwards! I remember crying one time, on day 10 postpartum
  • Breastfeeding- so much easier this time! She was a quick and efficient eater.
Squiggly mirrors make pregger selfies more fun and all belly with Baby #3!

Birth Number Three

  • Pregnancy- all I remember is having 2 kids and being really tired 1st trimester
  • Labor Started- 3am, about a month “late”, but not really. We were just off on our guess of “due date”
  • Preliminary Labor- 3ish hours
  • Active Labor- 9 hours
  • Total- 12ish hours
  • Transition- easy, didn’t even know I was all the way dilated when I was
  • Water Broke- midwife broke waters in pushing phase
  • Pushing Intensity- So, SO hard, worked so hard, ugh
  • Birth Time- early evening, before dark
  • Ultrasound- one, around 40 weeks because we were a little off on “due date”
  • Tearing- don’t remember, so I guess none
  • Gender Reveal- found out after birth, GIRL!
  • Postpartum Blues- I don’t recall, so I guess not much
  • Breastfeeding- really bad latch and a lot of pain initially, got better within a couple weeks and we are still nursing strong! She’s 10 months now.”

    Family complete…for now!

~Kate


Thank you, Kate for writing about your birth experiences! If you missed last week’s birth story, here it is: A Birth Story: Oh Pamela!  And if you are so inclined, check out Our First Home-birth video, as well. It’s PG rated so you won’t see anything that will scar you for life. Thanks for reading and God bless!

A Birth Story: Oh Pamela!

How we found out: I was finally getting into a good routine with my two boys. Jenkins was coming up on his 3rd birthday and my sweet Delano was about 11 months old. We were in the thick of the holiday season; planning visits to family and shopping for Christmas presents. I remember that I was feeling just a little different and knew pregnancy was definitely possible. But so often, my body will start acting weird for whatever reason and pregnancy is always the first thing I think of. So I kept my assumption quiet for a while. Previous pregnancies and breast feeding make it hard to know what is going on.  But as Delano’s birthday approached, I felt very confident that I was, in fact, in “the family way” once again.  I never even took a pregnancy test! Though I shouldn’t brag about that because I have been wrong before. But I just waited and watched my belly grow. According to my guesstimations, it was looking like we were going to have a summer baby!

The Pregnancy: Having a baby in the dead of winter (like we had with both our boys) was night and day different than having a summer baby. I spent most of my days pushing my boys in the double stroller up and down hills as we walked to the park. During the first trimester, I was a good bit sicker than I was with the boys but I gained weight in all the right places. With Delano, I had swelled up all over. This time around, it was all belly and I felt great. Except not so great when I was running to the bathroom to throw up. But that, of course, ended early on. I wore shorts and maxi skirts and loved every minute of it. I didn’t have to squeeze my thighs into maternity jeans aka saggy crotch torture pants. I was active and full of energy.

We even started looking to buy our first house during this pregnancy. After the typical, frustrating process, we moved into our first home right after I started my third trimester. I was ready to nest! And I did, constantly and somewhat obsessively. I had lists everywhere with instructions about the birth,  what to do after the birth, and emergency numbers posted in case everyone’s cell phones died and we had to use a landline. Our house was rearranged almost daily, and all baby clothes had been gone through and in “if its a boy” and “if its a girl” bags. (My girl bag didn’t have much in it except a few white onsies.)

Because I never had a cycle between Delano and this new mystery baby, my midwife couldn’t pin down when the due date was within a three week time frame. She recommended that we have an ultrasound so we could find a more accurate due date. This was a first for us. We have been very blessed with healthy, by the book pregnancies so there hasn’t been a need to have a peak inside before the big day. Unlike everyone else (or it seems like everyone except us), we like to be surprised by the gender at the birth.  So sonograms have never tempted us before. But now that it was recommended, we went ahead and had one. It was just the basic 2D ultrasound. But boy, were we impressed! It really is amazing how awesome technology is. We could see our sweet little baby sticking his/her tongue out. Incredible! We got a more solid due date and were actually able to make it out of there without revealing the gender. Though, I must be honest.  I did try to sneak a few questions to the doctor, hoping I could read his response. That didn’t work, much to all of our family members’ disappointment. But we got what we came for; the due date. The baby was actually due on my husband 30th birthday!

Birth Day!: On the morning before my due date, I woke up after an incredible night sleep. I had not been sleeping well at this point because of being so uncomfortable. I slept straight through the night and woke up at 7am (which that is a miracle in itself. My boys usually are ready to face the day by 6:30am). I went to the bathroom (as you do in the morning) and found that a tiny pink trickle came after I was done “using” the bathroom. This trickle was followed by a strong contraction. Not the kind that really hurts yet, but one that let’s you know what it is without making you wonder. “Mmmm…” I thought, “Could I actually be going into labor before my due date? Unheard of!” So I put on a maxi pad and went into the kitchen to start breakfast. I told my husband what had happened and I sent a text to my midwife just to let her know. I knew that this was probably my water trickling. But with both boys, my water broke moments before their heads were delivered. I know births are all different but after having two, its hard to believe that something out of the ordinary will happen.

I had a few more contractions, but they were only about 30 seconds in length so I sent my husband off to work without a second thought. He was working a chess camp that week and would be home a little after noon so I didn’t think I would need him before then.

By 8am, my contractions were certainly coming closer together but they still weren’t very long. I knew they needed to be longer before things got serious so I kept telling my midwife I wasn’t ready for her. I hate the thought of sweet midwives just sitting around waiting for labor to really get going. Plus, my boys were keeping me distracted with the usual morning routine. I knew my contractions would get my attention when it was go-time.

Around 8:30ish, I realized that I needed to stop and focus through each contraction.  I put a show on for the boys and went to make sure everything they needed was in their bag that I had packed weeks ago (the nesting that I referred to earlier). All was in order so I texted my mother-in-law to come get the boys. She was tied up with work. “That’s fine,” I thought, wondering if I should freak out. I went to the second name on my list (even though I knew all the info on the lists, I found comfort seeing the game plan in front of me. Am I the only one like that?).  I called my brother-in-law who lives less than a mile away. I think I woke him up. But he was over to my house in a few minutes.  I could tell he was wondering if he should freak out or remain calm. He is such a sweet guy.

I gave him the keys to my mini-van and I kissed my boys. I had given them the run down of what was happening so they seemed prepared for a change of schedule for the day. I remember even getting into the van to buckle the boys car seats. A mother’s work is never done even when in labor. It’s a strange feeling knowing you need someone else to look after your children during a time like this. I already missed them so much as I watched them drive away.

Now I was all alone in the house. I didn’t have anyone to be brave in front of or to help get a cup of milk. It was just me and this new baby on the way. For a split second, I thought about what I would do if I was all alone when it came time to deliver the baby. That was a bit overwhelming so I didn’t linger on that thought for long. I called my husband and my midwife. Both were making their way to me.  My contractions were just a few minutes apart but hadn’t increased much in length until after I made my phone calls. Suddenly, they were the real deal and were about 90 seconds long. When my husband came in, I was laying on the couch on my side, concentrating through the contractions. It was somewhat after 9am, I believe. He kissed my head and started filling up the birthing tub and doing a few other preparations that we needed. I don’t remember talking much to him.

The rest of the time table is a bit blurry. I remember my midwife and birthing assistant/church friend came in and said sweet things to me as they got all set up. I asked my midwife if she had ever witnessed a painless birth. I had read something about them once and wondered if they were real. Like one wonders if unicorns are real.  She said no and I went back to work in a contraction. I remember getting into the birthing tub when labor really kicked up a notch. I wanted to push to make the pain stop. I never have an overwhelming urge to push like some women. I find myself always guessing if it is time yet. I know that it relieves some of the pressure when you push. At this point, relief was the only thing I was after. My midwife checked me and said that I was not fully dilated yet and I shouldn’t push.

I have some weird insecurity about this not-knowing-when-to-push thing. It’s amazing how you can’t really hide from your fears or pretend like they aren’t there when in labor. It brings them all out in the light so you can see them for what they are. I must have said something about not knowing when to push because my midwife then told me that she had never witnessed a painless birth but had seen women give birth without pushing. I had never heard that before and it kind of blew my mind. But only for a moment because suddenly I was back in another contraction and needed to concentrate.  Soon after this I was able to start pushing and I did, though I wondered what it would be like to not push at all.

I remember muttering something to myself like “This is for my baby” as I tried to focus through the pain. I never want to think of labor as anything but an amazing privilege. Having had two kids already, I knew the adrenaline rush of preparing myself to leap over obstacles, lift cars, and rip bricks apart to get to my children.  The reason I was working hard now was for another precious one just like them. And I wanted to get to this baby no matter how tiring or all-encompassing the pain was that throbbed in my body. Keeping my new baby at the center of my focus helped me to remember why I was hurting.

When I was having my first son, I wasn’t convinced I had a baby in there even when I was in labor. I had a hard time imagining the labor ever ending because I had never known what was on the other side of it. This time around, I wanted to continually remind myself why I was working and for whom I was working to bring into the world.  But it was starting to really hurt and I was getting tired. I had no idea how long it had been or even if it was day or night. My midwife asked if I wanted to feel for the baby’s head because sometimes that helps moms at this late stage. I didn’t want to. I just wanted it all to be over.

Then the most glorious thing happened! I felt that terrible ring of fire. Have you heard of it? Or felt it? It happens when the baby’s head is crowning and everything down there is stretched to it’s max. It is truly so incredibly painful. The last thing you want on fire is your down-unders. Am I right, ladies? But the moment I felt it, I was on cloud 9! I remembered this horrible feeling and it seems to proclaim in audible words, “You are almost done! You will soon meet your baby!”

I don’t have actual memories between that realization and when my baby was finally delivered. It seemed to have happened pretty fast. I reached out to hold that precious, crying newborn with gladness and thanksgiving in my heart! Someone asked what the baby’s gender was. I checked, expecting another boy. “My Pamela!” I exclaimed! And I quickly checked again because I couldn’t believe it. “Oh Pamela!” my husband whispered through a smile.  I had never known how badly I needed a girl until that moment. She was perfect at 8lbs and 4 oz. It was only just after 1pm and the labor had only been 6 hours from the moment I woke up that morning until the sweet birth of our daughter.

The name “Pamela” came from a dream my husband had before we were even expecting our first child. He dreamed that he woke up in the morning and left the room for a moment and when he came back, I sat in the bed with long, angelic hair (that would be a dream) and held a small babe in my arms. I looked at him and said in a calm, dignified voice, “Her name is Pam.” My husband cried and said “Oh Pamela”. Ever since that dream, he has been dead set on having a daughter with that name. It took me some time to come around to it. But now, I can’t imagine a better name for our sweet Pamela.

Later that day, my parents came driving in on two wheels to meet our sweet girl. My mom, upon hearing the news, ran to Target because I didn’t have a single piece of girl clothing in the house. Even gender neutral stuff always looks more boyish to me. She texted saying she was coming to town in a “cloud of pink”.  It was such a special day.

My boys met their sister the following day. Jenkins was pretty disappointed that she wasn’t a boy. But the moment he saw her, he had nothing but sweetness and love for that little girl.  Delano was only 18 months at the time so he was a little freaked out about someone else laying in his momma’s lap. He even shunned me for an entire week as a protest about the newcomer. But after that, he finally came around and loved holding his little sister (with constant supervision, of course!) It’s funny. Del and Pammy are still pretty competitive for my attention. But they definitely have their sweet moments with each other. I love how a new baby makes the entire family feel a little more complete and no one can imagine life without this new, precious creature. Thank you, Jesus, for babies.

 

This is just the first birth story of a series I will be posting from friends and family members who choose to participate. I thought this would be a good way to gear up for my next birth that is just 10 weeks away! Unreal. Be looking for more birth stories on my The Honest Truth page. Because nothing is more honest than birth. Thanks for reading and God bless!