Tell Me Once Again Who I Am to You…

I was not expecting this morning. And I am not sure what set it off or how it got to where it went. My guess is the enemy was taking a shot at me and wanted to see how far it could go.

I woke up with a happy mood and a giddy in my step. The kids were all still asleep and I got to sit with my cup of coffee and read my bible before everyone was awake. The toddler woke in his happy mood and everyone else seemed to follow suit.

Our weekend had finished with the construction of our raised garden beds (post with tutorial in the works) and the optimism of garden greens and other delicious goodness were on the front of my mind. In discussing my daydreams with my dear husband when the conversation took a stressful turn and hurtful things were said. You know how that can go, right?

Long story short, I walked away before the tears could fall, feeling like a loser.

“I am not a good enough stay-at-home mommy.”

“I take the fun out of everything when I get in Casey-mode.”

“Maybe I have no business staying home anymore. Maybe everyone would be better if I did go back to work.”

I was a mess, trying to prove my worth by scrubbing our bathroom and the kitchen and trying to tidy up as best as I could. During all of that, my oldest missed his morning bus. It isn’t typically a big deal and doesn’t happen very often so I finished up my current task and got dressed to take him to school.

When he realized he missed the bus, all control of emotions was lost. He slammed his backpack down and declared he was not going to school. I sat on the chair and cried again, feeling more like a failure. Then, I straightened up my mommy hat and followed him into his bedroom. He retreated under his bed. I calmly explained that I would count to 5 for him to come out on his own or I would come under there and get him.

I ended up under the bed to pull him out. Next was getting shoes on and out the door. We made it to the van and were on our way to the school. I knew better than to try to talk to him; when he is feeling this way he is not interested in talking, let alone listening. We drove in silence, both feeling emotional for our own reasons, both upset about how our morning was going.

And then, my child wrecked me…

“I am so stupid.”

“Honey, you are NOT stupid! Why would you say that or feel that way?!”

“I am just stupid.”

“L, baby, you are not and I don’t want you to talk that way. You are smart, funny, talented, kind, and compassionate. I love you and God loves you and he made you perfectly, not stupid. You are not stupid, please do not say that.”

(TEARS ARE COMING BIG TIME NOW)

And then, BAM, God wrecked my heart…

This is exactly how God feels about me. I was playing a slew of self-degrading comments in my head all morning on repeat. He doesn’t want me sitting here talking bad about His creation. I AM a good mommy and God didn’t make a mistake when He made me a mother. He made me fun, loving, nurturing, compassionate, resourceful, driven, creative, and everything that makes me who I am.

Wow, my Father is telling me the exact thing I am trying to tell my baby boy. My child and I are not defined by any word. We are defined by the sacrifice Jesus paid on the cross for him and for me. We are defined by mercy and grace. We are defined by the love our Heavenly Father has for us and that He showed us in Christ Jesus. WE. ARE. LOVED.

God used this moment to teach me and for me to teach my child. And this is a lesson that will be picked back up after school.

Once I started to realize what was happening and how I was doing to me what my child was doing to himself, I prayed. I prayed out loud for God to remove these negative feelings and self-doubt, to replace it with a peaceful heart and turn our day into a good day.

We pulled up to the drop off and he got out without a word. I told him I loved him so much and that I would see him after school.

I also emailed his teacher when I got home to make sure he was able to have a better day. I didn’t want his mood to effect his whole day and hopefully all his friends would cheer him up as well.

The drive home was still a tearful one, but instead of the tears over my own feelings they were for my heart breaking over how L was talking about himself. We are a very warm-and-fuzzy family and do not hold back the I love yous, compliments or positive affirmations.

I am thankful for the teachable moment that came in the midst of our troubled hearts this morning. I am thankful for my God who reaches me and is using my children to teach me lessons on His grace and mercy.

Have you experienced a moment where God used your parenting situation to teach you a lesson as well? Please share!

 

 

 

{Birth Story} Waiting for River

Waiting for River

Estimated Due Date: May 26th, 2014

River in my belly

It is the week before my due date and my mother has come in to stay with me since Dave had been working out of town through the week. It was nice knowing that I wouldn’t be alone if and when labor kicked in and Dave wasn’t here. Mom helped out a lot; we took Landon and his friend to the zoo, to the strawberry patch, the park, we played outside in the sprinkler, we even got a call to show the house. The whole week was coming and going, I felt amazing, and we just kept waiting for something to happen with my labor.

Each time we went out or did something around the house, my mom was hoping something would kick my labor in so she could be here for the birth. If he wasn’t born on or before his due date, she was going to miss it entirely. As the Director of her local adventure camp, she had to be back home by the evening of my due date.

Friday evening I met with Brenda for a check-up. She immediately commented on how good I looked before she asked how I felt. I just had so much energy and felt so chipper. She checked me and I was dilated 1-2 centimeters, 90 percent effaced and he was at a +2 station (very low). Everything was looking really good and while I was excited about my progress, I had to remember that none of it necessarily meant he was coming that night, that it could still be days even.

Sunday morning (25th) came and I woke up in a different kind of mood. I was quiet and reserved and after mom and I talked, she decided to go ahead and go back home so she could spend some time with my dad before her vacation was over. We got up and around and I was hit with a little bit of a nesting bug. I quietly went around cleaning, organizing, going back through our birth equipment and setting up our room just so, washing all the cloth diapers and organizing some other things in the bedrooms. This made my mom sad because she felt something was about to happen and she was going to miss it.

Mom hit the road after a tearful farewell. Dave, Landon and I settled in for a quiet afternoon. I relaxed into the idea of having a little bit of time as just our little family before Dave’s mom arrived; which was going to be Monday (26th). I sat back in the recliner and quietly watched Dave and Landon playing and wrestling; thinking that not much longer would we be a family of three, but soon be a family with two boys! I browsed through Facebook, passing some time, and stumbled on a baby papasan. We decided to purchase it and Dave and Landon headed out to go pick it up.

I took the opportunity of some alone time to turn up some music and take a shower. It was nice to have a little bit of quiet time to myself. I wrapped up in a towel and went back to the recliner (the only place I could ever get “comfortable”). I would wait there until Dave and Landon got home and we could then spend the evening relaxing; I could get away with hardly any clothes!

This apparently wasn’t in the cards. Dave called to let me know that mom (my mother-in-law) was in town and would be here very soon…just in case I was naked. I pretty much was. I immediately couldn’t help but feel upset. Mom had no idea that my mother had already left and she had tried to call while we had taken naps. She wanted to come in and see my mom and she was excited too for labor to start. I got up and dressed and tried to warm up to the idea of more company. Mom came in and gave me a big hug. I felt awful, but I couldn’t feel excited. I had reached a primal feeling of wanting to retreat with my little family and hide. Between all of the well-meaning text messages, Facebook comments and face-to-face, “anything happening yet”,” when is River making his debut” and other comments, I was feeling like I was on a clock. I went back to our bedroom and just cried. Hard. I felt like a zoo animal under observation for having a baby and just wanted to grab my family and retreat to our “cave” and shut the whole world out.

Monday came and went and I began to wonder if all this “attention” was somehow hindering my body. Mom headed back home Tuesday morning and we asked our friends to respect the process by containing their enthusiasm until we were able to actually introduce River to the world. With a quiet house we settled back into the week to wait for River. Each day I would wake up hopeful that it was “the day” and each night I would go to bed hoping I would wake up with contractions. By Thursday, it was getting pretty old. My midwife called Thursday morning to see how I was doing and discuss some options for a game plan. We decided that I would try pumping with my breast pump to get my body to start releasing oxytocin. Then I would come in that afternoon for her to strip my membranes and then pump again later that evening. All of this would hopefully get my body contracting and then, if my body was really ready, it would stimulate labor.

I had begun to feel some contractions with what we had done but they didn’t feel crampy. Instead it was more like someone was putting a weight on the top of my stomach and then my lower abdomen would tighten, sometimes wrapping all the way around my lower back. We timed them, but they never became a pattern or consistent; 45 seconds long, 8 to 12 minutes apart. This continued on all day Thursday and Friday.

Friday overnight, I woke up with some of my contractions. They were feeling different so I tried to time them, but I kept dozing back off on the tail end of the contraction and wouldn’t push the stop button to end the timer. Around 6:30 Saturday morning I woke Dave and asked if he would come out and help me time the contractions. I just wanted to see if there was any pattern to them and what they were doing. Our efforts were futile because I did the same thing to him. I would tell him to start the timer and then I would wake up to, “Casey, are you still having the contraction?” a couple minutes later. I would wave my hand and go back to sleep. A little after 7, Landon woke up so Dave got up and made breakfast while I dozed off and on in the recliner.

We ate and a while later I noticed that I needed to focus a little more on breathing and relaxing during the contractions. Then, I noticed I was beginning to vocalize through them. I decided to try timing them again; they were coming 4 minutes apart and lasting over a minute long. No longer was I comfortable in the recliner as my lower back pain intensified and I needed Dave to dig his fists into my lower back with each contraction. I also noticed that I felt slightly nauseated as the contraction peaked.

This is where it gets really fun! I put a call into our midwife to let her know what was happening and figured at minimum she could listen to me through a contraction and determine if it was worth getting excited about. It hadn’t settled in to me that this could actually be labor even though I had done this before. I woke up that morning feeling like I was going to be pregnant forever so I didn’t want to get my hopes up.

She was just finishing breakfast so she asked if she could call me right back. I headed to our bedroom where Landon was watching some cartoons and thought I would lean over the bed so Dave could dig into my back easier. I felt I should fill Landon in so I said, “Landon, remember the videos we watched and how we talked about how having babies was hard work, that mommies will sometimes make noise because of the hard work? Well, your brother may be coming today because Mommy’s body is starting to work.” As he was jumping on the bed, he enthusiastically said, “Okay, mom!”

With the next contraction Brenda called back and pretty much instantly said it was go time and she would call Eva, her assistant, and send her on her way. She was an hour closer than her and that way someone would be here soon. I got up to go potty and no sooner was I done when I turned around and threw up with the next contraction. I knew I was in transition at this point. I got up, brushed my teeth and with the next contraction, my water broke! We texted Brenda to let her know and were then instructed to text directions to Eva. Things were moving fast so I sent one more message to our backups for Landon to let them know things were happening but Landon wanted to stay, just to be on standby.

Dave got Landon set up with some coloring pages and brought his tricycle in from outside. With each contraction my voice was getting louder and lower. My body was getting down to business. All the while, Landon is riding his bike around our room, running between my bum and Dave to look out the bathroom window to watch for Eva and Brenda, and sticking his fingers in his ears saying with a big grin on his face, “Mommy is being loud!”

After a while I felt the need to go lie on the bed and labor on my side. I was hoping this would slow things down a little for Eva to get here. It really felt like things were going fast! Soon, Eva arrived and instantly began setting up their supplies. She came over to me at the bed and just smiled, encouraging me through a couple contractions before asking if she could check me and the baby. I was at an 8!

Soon, our dear family friend, Carol called to see if we needed her to come for Landon and we felt at that point it would be a good idea since I needed Dave right there for my back labor. Carol and Brenda arrived at the same time. They came inside and went to their respective charges. I think Landon was glad to have someone to play with even though he was handling his mommy in labor very well.

Brenda came in and joined the excitement of how quick I was progressing and how soon we would meet our little guy. She checked me after a couple of contractions and I was complete with a little bit of cervix that was getting pinched because of my position of choice. She asked if I wanted to move. I said yes, but I didn’t know where I wanted to go.

I ended up standing and eventually leaning over the exercise ball on the bed, Dave still behind me digging his fists into my lower back with each contraction. Once I was vertical, within two contractions, my body was pushing! Wow, we were in the home stretch!! We ended up maneuvering around to the foot of the bed and my legs were shaking enough that I wanted to kneel at the bed. My body’s pushing then became more focused and within 20 minutes, River was here!!

The cord was around his neck twice but came off easily before he was all the way out and he was blue but trying to make his first breath. So, Brenda and Eva gave him some oxygen and he pinked right up and let out a cry! Dave was so excited that he got to watch everything this time. With Landon, he was supporting me on the bed behind my back, this time he was beside me and able to move.

River was then handed to me from under my legs and guided to my chest, still crying and pink as can be. Within seconds, Landon came strolling in with Carol close behind and an instant grin painted his face, “My brother!” He came right over and stroked his head, his smile never wavering, just taking it all in. Carol, smiling from the doorway, said Landon must’ve known his brother was here because he told her, “My mom and dad are inside doing the baby thing. I want to go check it out.”

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We maneuvered up onto the bed so that I could deliver the placenta and be checked over. Dave, Landon, and I just kept smiling and looking at River, listening to his newborn cries and soaking it all in. The rest of my delivery went perfect, only a small tear and my body was doing everything it was supposed to do. Soon we were all situated on the bed so River could nurse and I could be observed a little longer for any excess bleeding and so on. River latched on like a champ. He was tired so he kept popping off and falling asleep but he was catching on quick. I asked Dave to go get Carol; she couldn’t come help with Landon and not get to see River up close!

Carol then took Landon to town for lunch and then back to their farm to play with her grandkids and let us get some rest. He ended up having a great time playing hide and seek, marbles, and playing outside. He finished his big day with helping Max, her husband, go on a vet call before coming home later in the evening. Dave went in the kitchen fix me some grub. My post labor choice; a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a big glass of milk! While I ate, we measured and weighed River. We couldn’t believe it…9 pounds, eight ounces and 21 inches long, his head and his chest both measuring 14 inches. He was just a long and lean baby, built like his brother was, just 3 pounds bigger and an inch and three quarters longer!

River

When we were done with River’s measurements, we decided we were all hungry for some real lunch. So, Brenda ran a bath for us and then Dave would grill us up some chicken and green beans. River loved his bath and I really enjoyed a hot shower after that. We settled on the couch to snuggle, eat, and visit with Brenda, going over our postpartum care before Brenda headed home. I couldn’t believe he was finally here! I woke up that morning feeling like I would be pregnant forever and a few short hours later I was holding and nursing the precious little being that I have loved from my inside out.

~This birth is our second home birth. They were so different from each other in so many ways but similar in other ways. Both births have left me feeling empowered, capable, awestruck, and inspired.

Does labor hurt? I think the pain is determined by perspective. Labor is labor, meaning hard work, and when a woman approaches labor with preparation and “training”, much the same as an athlete would train and prepare for a marathon or competition, the experience can be truly rewarding for her. Both require intense physical exertion, both challenge the person in mind, body, and soul, and both can offer an extreme amount of personal satisfaction at the finish line.

A home birth isn’t for every woman, a natural birth isn’t for every woman, and even a vaginal birth may not be for every woman. But every woman can have an educated birth experience, one that can be a positive and empowering experience for her.

Did you ever consider a home birth? Or birth at home? Leave a comment please!

{Birth Story} Landon

Landon’s Birth Story {Our First Homebirth}

On December 11th I woke up around 2 am feeling a tightening in my abdomen. I had not noticeably experienced any Braxton Hicks contractions prior too these so I was pretty certain at what was happening. I laid there on the couch for a little while, waiting for the next one, and the next one, and the next.

Realizing they were continuing, I went and woke up Dave and told him what was going on. He came out into the living room with me and we began timing the contractions. They stayed about 10 to 12 minutes apart and I honestly don’t remember how long they lasted. They were very manageable, just a tightening from the top of my tummy down.

Around 5:30 in the morning, we decided to go ahead and call my parents so they could get on the road. Mom was just getting ready to give Dad a haircut and they decided they would finish that up before they got on the road. Needless to say, in their excitement the clipper guard came off when my mom went to make her first pass and gave my Dad a nice two inch long bald spot at the back of his head. They had a five and a half hour drive ahead of them and we wanted to give them plenty of time.

We also went ahead and called Brenda, our midwife, to let her know that my body was doing something and she gave instruction to call her again when they were 5 minutes apart lasting 60 seconds for about an hour. She would also want to listen to me during a contraction to gauge how intense they were. I was so fascinated by what my body was doing and at the natural process of how this seemed like it was playing out. There was a hum of excitement under the quiet focus of my labor. It was a great feeling.

The contractions started to get a little closer together. Some were seven minutes apart, others nine to ten. The closer we got to lunchtime, the farther apart they seemed to get. I began to worry that I had jumped the gun by having my parents come down and what if it all stopped and we were still a week away from his actual arrival. The estimated due date was the 16th of December.

We called Brenda and she gave us some ideas to try to jumpstart the contractions again. We went for a walk down and up the big hill by our house. Dave had to practically pull me and my big tummy back up the hill. Then we came in and took a hot shower. But nothing seemed to work. We chalked it up to a practice run and settled in for a nice afternoon of visiting and talking about how soon everything was going to change once baby got here.

Evening came and we all headed to bed. I took up my usual spot, semi-reclined on the couch in the living room, and Dave in our bed. I missed snuggling with him but the couch was the only place I could get comfortable with my belly.

About 2 o’clock in the morning, I woke up to the tightening feeling again. I couldn’t help but be excited. Maybe we didn’t jump the gun after all. Maybe baby was just giving us a practice run the day before. I went in and woke Dave up and told him it was happening again. We settled back on the couch and began timing them.

It seemed we were on track for the same pattern of the morning before. They were coming ten to twelve minutes apart and very manageable. Around five or so in the morning, my mom woke up and came out into the living room. She just sat and watched Dave and I as we found a rhythm and worked together. Somehow, my body decided that paddling my feet was an effective way for me to go through a contraction. Maybe it was all the ocean sounds I listened to each night as I visualized the birth that made “swimming through the contractions” feel so natural.

So, as the sun came up, we laid on the couch, Dave timing my contractions with the red wall clock that now hangs in the bedroom, me paddling through the waves of labor, and Mom and Dad quietly observing. Everything just felt so relaxed and natural. {The red clock Dave was using to time the contractions was the only time piece that we had with a second hand. At this time, there was a silly pop culture celebrity called Flavor Flave, and he would wear a wall clock around his neck as a piece of jewelry. We decided Dave should be called David Dave in the same silly way that the celebrity would announce himself because they both wore the clock so proudly.}

At some point in the late morning, Mom and Dad decided that they should leave the house and let Dave and I focus on the contractions and laboring together. They were picking up in frequency and intensity and they didn’t want to hinder our concentration or the progress that seemed to be taking place. They headed out for coffee, a slow brunch and some shopping.

Shortly after they left, Dave and I decided it was time to call Brenda. We talked through a contraction and she agreed that we were progressed enough for her and Anita to head our way. Dave and I continued to labor together. We moved all over the house, trying different ways to manage the intensity of what my body was doing. Dave was amazing! He was my rock and would do whatever I needed him to with each contraction. Sometimes it was literally hanging off of his neck, others it was him rubbing my lower back as hard as he could to counter the pressure that I was feeling. As long as he was close by, I felt safe, strong and able. He played such a vital role in the birth and I know I fell more in love with him through the whole journey of bringing our baby into the world.

At this time, my sense of time was out the window. The contractions were strong enough and close enough together that they required my full attention and surrender. Everything else that took place around me I was pretty much oblivious to. Brenda and Anita arrived sometime after lunch, I believe around two thirty or so, and brought in their stuff. She watched us labor through a few contractions to see how I was handling them and then offered to check me to see where our progress was.

It was determined that we could begin filling up the pool and I could labor in the warm water. I was excited for this part because that water sounded very appealing. They got to work getting their gear out and in between contractions Dave tried to help them get the pool filled and set up. I remember being by the window in our bedroom and just as a contraction left me, I felt another one coming up behind it. Dave had started to walk back over to the bathroom and I grabbed his shirt sleeve. I said to him in a not-so-sweet voice, “I need you here with me! They have done this before and know what they are doing! I have not so quit leaving me!” I was so dependent on his presence that when I didn’t feel him near me, only then did the contractions feel more like pain.

The pool was filled and I climbed in. (sigh) It felt so good to be in that warm water. It became very soothing and I was only asked to get out so that I could be checked one more time. Once I got back in, I settled into the rhythm my body gave me and took each contraction as it was; one that had a beginning, middle, and an end, each one bringing me closer to meeting baby.

I next remember the most intense and incredible feeling; it felt as though baby moved down farther preparing for the big arrival. It was such an overwhelming sensation, I became fully aware that my body was not my own, but also that it knew exactly what to do, I only had to go along for the ride. My vocalization became different at this point. As baby descended lower into my pelvis, my voice became lower. We were getting closer.

Once I was given the okay to work with the contractions and begin pushing, I tried every possible position to get comfortable. I tried in the pool, by the pool, by the bed, and eventually ended up on the bed with Dave behind me. I pushed for about an hour and when baby arrived, all I could do was let out a sigh of disbelief and awe! We did it!! Dave, baby and I, we all did it, together!

They put baby up on my chest and we just stared at that sweet face; all blinking eyes and staring back at us. Then, Dave had to ask, “Is it a boy or a girl?” We didn’t know if baby was a boy or a girl while in my tummy so we were anxious to find out. IT’S A BOY! Landon is here! The three of us snuggled on the bed and got to know each other. Brenda and Anita continued to do their thing of taking care of me while watching Landon to make sure he was breathing great, alert, and responsive.

At some point Brenda and Anita had to focus on me for a little bit. I was bleeding pretty good and needed some Pitocin and fluids to help my uterus contract and restore my energy. After all that work, I looked like death warmed over. My mom and Anita went and gave Landon a little bath; he had poo’d all over himself and me while we were cuddling. Then Dave brought me some food and orange juice and then brought you back.

We then attempted nursing and with some help from Brenda got him latched on okay. He was just perfect. Once we were deemed ready for visitors, we invited Dave’s parents, my parents, and my cousins Ryan, Amanda and Ashley all back in to meet him and watch as he got weighed and measured. He was six pounds, eight ounces and 19 ¼ inches long. Everyone was all smiles and full of joy and love that we finally got to meet Landon.

We spent the rest of the evening holding him and just falling more in love.

Landon newborn

This is a photo of Landon a couple of weeks old. I will find some of his birth photos and add them!

Have you ever written down your birth story(s)? I love being able to go back and read them and remember the day!

Tips on Breastfeeding

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Breastfeeding to me is such an incredible experience. It is a gift that I give to my children, but at the same time provides a gift for me.

It has also been a completely different experience with each of our three boys and has given me some perspective to how different it is for each mother with each child.

Our oldest nursed from day one but our breastfeeding relationship ended when he was about 13 weeks old. I was a first time mommy that had to return to work after 6 weeks and whose body didn’t respond to pumping very well.

Our middle son was a booby baby through and through. No substitutes, no dummies; only milk straight from the tap. Some of this may have come from my overwhelming desire to make it to a year with breastfeeding so I fiercely protected that relationship.

Our third is 5 months old, drinks only breastmilk but will take it easily from a bottle, has found comfort in both a binky and his thumb, and seems the most laid back of all our boys.

So now I would like to share with you my favorite tips for enjoying your breastfeeding experience. These stem from my personal research and experiences and I hope you find them helpful.

#1. Set Your Goals
As soon as you get a positive pregnancy test your mind starts going with all kinds of thoughts and questions. One of those is whether or not you are going to choose to breastfeed and for how long. At this very beginning, I believe you set the tone for what your breastfeeding experience will ultimately look like. Maybe you want to breastfeed for a few months and then wean to formula when you return to work. Maybe you want to breastfeed for 6 months or until your little one starts cutting teeth. Maybe you want to go a year and then switch to a different milk. Or, maybe you want to go for extended breastfeeding to 2 years and/or beyond. By setting your goals before baby arrives, I feel, you have a better chance to pursue it even when you go through some of the harder days.

#2 The Right Support
Support can come in many forms but I believe you need to have a couple of different kinds depending on where you are at or what your current concerns or challenges are. There are Lactation Consultants and Doulas that can lend some professional and educated support and troubleshooting. They can be invaluable in those early days when you are trying to figure out any latch issues, supply, or other help. Then, your husband or partner is going to be a crucial support person. It is important early on (before baby arrives and while you are setting your goals) to discuss what you want or need from them to be able to encourage and support you. Now, while I realize there may not be a supportive spouse or one at all, having a close person there to encourage you and support you is so helpful. The other support person that I feel is important is a friend or relative that has recently or is well into a successful breastfeeding period. This is who you call when you are exhausted and emotional and needing to hear the perfect “I know what you are feeling and you will be okay” comfort.

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Each of these people will be very important to you at one or the entire duration of your journey. Talk to them while you are pregnant, ask them questions, sit with your friend while she feeds her baby. That will be you soon.

#3 Read the Right Stuff…a little bit.
We are in the age where everything is accessible. There is enough information out there available at the click of a button to make your head spin in an instant. While I am a research fanatic when it comes to things like this, moderation is important. I recommend reading 1 or 2 books (like The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding) during your pregnancy and then I found a blog that I became a huge fan of. Her name is Meg Nagle and she is an IBCLC from Australia. Her blog is called The Milk Meg and she is a fantastic resource for breastfeeding mothers. She even provides consultations via Skype. The point is to find a few places for some good knowledge and encouragement but don’t overwhelm yourself.

#4 The Early Weeks
Baby has arrived and you are home settling in. If this is your first baby, your milk will be coming in in another day or so. If it is your second or beyond, your milk has probably arrived. These early days and weeks should just be spent cuddling your baby, drinking water and enjoying tasty food with lots of rest. Your body goes through a lot during pregnancy and then more after you deliver as it tries to balance hormones, blood volume, and heal from birth. Hopefully you have friends and family who offer to come and help take care of things for you so you may recuperate. I know they want to offer to hold the baby for you so you can rest or nap, but if that isn’t what you need from them, don’t be afraid to speak up. When they call, let them know if you are up for a short visit or if you would like to sit and talk and relax together. If they offer to help do anything, LET THEM! Let them do a load of laundry, cook a meal, vacuum your floors, take out trash, whatever will help you not do anything except care for your new baby.

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Lots of skin-to-skin! When people aren’t over helping you out, take that shirt off and cuddle your squishy baby right up on your chest! This is proven to regulate baby’s heartbeat, respiration and temperature, not to mention the amazing hormone release that happens between you and baby. This is also a great way for daddy to bond with baby. Just make sure he leaves the aftershave or cologne off.

“When in doubt, whip it out.” This is one of my favorite Meg quotes! Those early days of breastfeeding can be confusing and overwhelming.

“Is baby crying because he is tired, hungry, or has a dirty diaper? But he just ate?! How could he want to nurse again?”

The beautiful things about breastfeeding is that it isn’t just for food and you can’t over-feed a breastfed baby! If baby is upset and you have tried to swaddle and soothe in other ways, try offering the breast. Baby finds the most comfort close to you where he can smell and feel you. You are familiar and safe, don’t deny baby of that because you have been told you will spoil him. You can’t spoil a baby!

#5 It Doesn’t Have to be All or Nothing
I wish I had known this with my oldest son. I gave up because I thought since I couldn’t sustain a supply through pumping that I had no choice but to wean and feed him formula exclusively. That doesn’t have to be the case at all. If you have exhausted all efforts to sustain your supply to breastfeed exclusively, and believe me there are a lot of different things you can try, you may be able to find a balance of breast and formula feeding. In my case, I could have breastfed while at home and exclusively on the weekends but allowed him to receive formula while at daycare.

This is one of those situations where your Lactation Consultant can help you troubleshoot your supply concerns, chose the best and most practical ways for you to try to boost your supply, and if that doesn’t help she can help you add supplementing to your breastfeeding journey.

If you have your goals set, your support in place, and have tried all that you can, give yourself some grace, take a breath, and enjoy YOUR nursing relationship for what it is. It isn’t going to nor does it have to look like anyone else’s.

That brings me to…

#6 Enjoy it
Breastfeeding truly is a journey, even a marathon. From cluster feeding and tender breasts to growth spurts and beyond there will be some trying days. But there will also be days and moments where when nothing else will console your baby, curling up in your arms and latching at the breast will. There will be moments that are etched into your mind for eternity like baby’s first booby grin or silly faces while trying to eat.

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There is just so much, so much tenderness and nurturing and bonding that happens…to both of you!

Enjoy it all, however long it lasts.

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What questions or concerns do you have about breastfeeding?

What other tips would you add for a new mother? Please leave a comment!

 

 

When Waffles Turn into Worship

“The days are long but the years are short.”

This is the truth.

Yesterday was one of the long days.

Who am I kidding, it has been a long week. One of those weeks that just keeps taking from you and not giving you any time to pause, breathe, and refresh so you can keep going. At least not in your usual ways.

My usual “pause-and-refresh” is during naptime. I fill up my mug with coffee or hot tea, turn on some music and dig into a craft, a project, or my bible if I didn’t get to read and study that morning. The littles usually cooperate and nap during the same time so it gives me an hout or so to do what I would like to.

This week, I have not been able to find my refresh moment, until this morning while I was making breakfast.

Still feeling tired, raw, and spent I was trying to get a grip on my day. My time in God’s word this morning was being drowned out by tears and whining. For some reason the truth in the words of my Father couldn’t permeate my heart and wash my tired soul of negativity.

Until making waffles turned into worship.

Worship (VERB): the act of showing extreme adoration and/or reverence for God.

Music is powerful; at least for me. I not only hear it, but feel it too. It has helped me find comfort and peace. It has helped energize me and make me feel good. And I am thankful for worship music at church. It helps me to quiet my head and prepare my heart for the message that day.

Music reached me this morning, too. I turn the radio on in the kitchen and dial it to my favorite Christian radio station. As the songs play and I start to sing and sway, I can feel a shift; a shift in my attitude, a shift in my posture, and a shift in my heart.

As I sing along while making waffles for my sweet family, I lift up my thanks to God. Thankful for a new day, a fresh start, the sweet faces that need me and love me. Thankful for the kiss on my cheek from a husband who loves me (Even when he comes home to me wearing full-on raccoon eyes because everyone else was crying, why not me). Thankful for the food I am able to cook for my family in the home that keeps us sheltered. Thankful for the pile of dirty clothes at the foot of the stairs that need to be sorted and washed. Thankful for the yard that needs mowed. Thankful for everything and everyone that He has blessed me with.

My eyes are closed, my voice sings and my arms are raised. A sweet moment of worship that resets my mood just in time for my 6 year old to sneak in and stick his finger in my armpit.

My days are filled with serving. Serving little humans who thank me with sweet kisses and hugs, a husband who works hard for his family, and other moms who are walking this same journey with me.

I was reading in Colossians 3 and it talks about holy living. In the first part of this chapter it talks about removing what belongs to your earthly nature, to literally put it to death so you don’t pick it back up again. Whatever entices your earthly self and keeps you stuck in a pattern of wanting and chasing after unimportant things or bad behaviors and habits. To instead set your heart and mind on things above, on heaven and the riches promised in eternity. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you will also appear with Him in glory (Col. 3:4) We are a new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Christ is all, and is in all (Col. 3:10, 11b).

Now, read this…

Colossians 3:12-17: Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you we called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

This passage was the perfect encouragement for me today and I hope you find some in it as well. This season of motherhood is a big teaching period. I know that God is refining me and helping me to see less of me and more of Him. May my eyes be open and my heart obedient.

Go in peace my friend and may God bless you, your family, and your home.

Love,

Casey Renee

 

Tutorial: Customize the Function of Your Prefold Diapers

During my quest for a simpler cloth diapering routine I found Imagine Baby cotton prefold diapers. I had tried the Osocozy brand and was not impressed with the fit. They were really long and narrow and that made them hard to fit on a small, squirmy bottom. But the Imagine Baby prefolds were so soft and had a better width and more manageable length to them. I became an insta-fan.

The thing for me about prefold diapers though was when I folded them I ended up with a very bulky section in the groin. There had to be a better way!

Insert my Customized Prefold Cloth Makeover.

I began with my washed and dried prefolds. Mine had been used several times before so they didn’t need prewashed but if you are starting with brand new prefolds you need to follow washing instructions before you begin.

Laying my prefold out flat, I used my rotary cutter to cut into the prefold toward the center where the absorbency is but not all the way to the stitching. I measured 3 inches down from the serged edges and then drove the cutter in at a very slight rounded angle.

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*I apologize for the horribly focused photo. My camera is a little fickle*

Make this exact cut 3 more times so you have 2 on each long side. These will become flaps that you can then customize your fold and fit with.

Next I stitched along each of the cuts. You make choose your stitch based on your machine and skill. You can do an overcast stitch, a zigzag stitch, or a straight stitch. My first round I tried a zigzag stitch and after several washes seemed to have missed fabric in places and had lots of fraying. This time I just did a straight stitch.

It is simply dropping your needle and foot at one end and stitching in to the corner of your cut. I back-stitched at the beginning, the corner, and the end of each cut. Do this on all four cuts and there you go! Super easy!

Now, for the folding…

You can tri-fold the flaps, just as if you would do it before but without the added bulk.

You may also use the jelly-roll technique for added protection from blowouts!

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You can also still adjust the rise just by folding the front down (shown above).

By doing this to my diapers I keep all the function and absorbency that I had before but with much less bulk. It also keeps our diaper changes quick and easier to do one-handed.

Here is my stash! It makes for easy laundering and packing a diaper bag!

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Do you use prefold diapers? Would you try this with your diapers? Leave a comment!