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Infant Routines at Our Home – Part 3

This is the final installment of a short series on infant routines. Read part 1 here, and part 2 here to catch up with us.

We Love Baby-wearing

Again, I love baby wearing. I love holding my baby close to my heart and snuggling and cuddling with them at moments throughout the day. I love the ability to be able to wear my baby’s but still have my hands free to do dishes, fold laundry, or various other household tasks. It is extremely valuable for their healthy physiological development and growth. Having contact with a parent, especially skin to skin contact is very beneficial to a baby and reduces the level of cortisol, the stress hormone.

But on the other side, I don’t wear my baby all day long. I believe it is important for baby to take most naps on their own in their own bed. But when we are out and about, at church or other events, baby will often take naps in the carrier. From an early age, I also would take along my pack-n-play to friends/family’s homes, so baby could learn how to sleep in different places and environments. This enabled us to have freedom to stay later if desired because baby could sleep nearby. But there have been numerous times when baby just wouldn’t go to sleep in his/her own bed, so I would carry them for the nap period. So there was grace to adapt as necessary even when there was confusion over baby’s needs.

Check out my review of my favorite baby wrap, for the newborn to 6 month range, the Moby Wrap carrier. Another favorite for the older infant and toddler is the Ergo Baby carrier. These are the two carriers we always have on hand. They are also wonderful to use when you are in crowded gatherings and a stroller would be too much work to maneuver, or when shopping with multiple children in tow and having your infant in a carrier gives you two hands free to hold other things.

Entertaining Themselves

I also value the importance of them learning how to entertain themselves, so from an early age, each of my children has short periods where they are laying on the ground with their own little toys and playing on their own. Since their infancy, they have always had alone time in this manner and my little ones now can entertain themselves sufficiently for much longer periods of time. We just recently assembled some fun sensory baskets for my 7 month old and she loves them. It’s so much fun to watch her touch and explore with basic household items.

Afternoon Nap Routine with Multiples

As the children grew, we would adjust the schedule so that the kids would nap at the same time. I found this essential so mommy has the option of taking a nap or spending some time to herself during rest periods. Sometimes this would require us to stretch a tired baby just a bit longer so they both could be laid down together. Often I would actually wake the baby early from their morning nap so they had sufficient awake time and were tired at the same time as the older child for an afternoon nap.

That being said, we plan on having our children nap until they are at least 5 years old, if not longer as needed (usually from 1-2:30 or 3pm each day). I believe they really need it to this period. My little girl will be a mess of tears for the rest of the day if she doesn’t have a short afternoon nap. If they ultimately do not sleep (which certainly happens at times), they can have a quiet rest time looking at books or listening to a book on tape. We have had our nearly 5 year old and 3 year old taking naps together until recently. We now have found taking rest times in separate areas of the house to be much more successful. The older kids go to sleep each night at 8:00 pm and sleep till their nite lite comes on at 8:00 am (granted they often wake up before this period, but we train them to not come out of their bedroom till 8am). These practices allow this Mommy to have a rest period in the afternoon and so focused Daddy time in the evenings. They thrive on this routine and it works very well for our family.

Sleeping Multiples in One Room

Now the question has been asked, “do you have any tips for getting multiple children to sleep well together in one room?” Ultimately, no. I have not found a secret formula for this. It certainly takes some work. We have found it helpful to use a electric fan in their bedroom to help mute any extra noise that may result from one or the other waking up in the middle of the night. We also cover the windows with a blanket to keep it dark to encourage longer sleep periods. Finally, we have found a good nighttime routine to be essential for helping them both wind down together.

Our nighttime routine includes going potty, brushing teeth, singing worship songs, and finally praying over both of them individually before giving hugs and goodnight kisses. Honestly, most nights one or both of them is up multiple times for random reasons and need resettling, but in the long run they do sleep surprisingly well together. and with the use of the Good Nite Lite and a little discipline to train them to stay in bed until the light comes on…I think it is not as scary and some would imagine.

We’d love to hear your tips and suggestions for helping little ones sleep together well…

Thus concludes our short series on what infant routines we practice at our house. We pray the Lord would give you wisdom for what method might be best for your family!

COMMENT POLICY: As this can be a controversial subject, please keep your comments considerate, otherwise they will be deleted. We do not desire any argument or debate here. We are simply seeking to help those readers who have asked.

Comments { 66 }

Infant Routines at Our Home – Part 2

This is part two of a short series on Infant Routines. To read part 1, visit here

As I mentioned in part 1, my desire with this series is simply to share how God has led us to most peacefully establish an infant routine at our home while keeping a balance in our priorities. We function on a flexible routine. We want to share thoughts and ideas but encourage you to prayerfully make the best decision for your family. This is grace for your family to adopt the routine that works best for you.

Schedule Sleep Periods around Other Priorities

We believe in having a simple flexible schedule for our family. We all thrive on routine and structure with my personality. I am more productive with a schedule. We have adopted the Eat, Wake, Sleep cycle. Baby wakes up, is fed, and then given a good wake time. They are laid down again as soon as they start getting fussy.

I found it most helpful to arrange my baby’s nap routines around what other priorities I had. I want to invest focused quality time with my older children in the morning doing fun reading and school activities together, so I try to arrange baby to take a morning nap during this time. I also want my kiddos to be able to nap/quiet rest together in the afternoon, because I believe taking a rest period is very beneficial for all of us. It helps keep this mommy energized and happy to have a daily period of rest to read, take a nap if necessary, and have some personal time. Having a daily rest keeps the kids happy as well. So we intentionally set a afternoon nap period each day. This also provides me to time to spend writing, doing small household tasks, etc. So we have a 2 hr rest period every afternoon and I seek to adjust my baby’s to encourage them to nap during these periods as well.

So, in general I try to aim to wake my baby by 8:00am each morning so that she is tired again by 9:30 or 10:00am and ready for a morning nap from 10-11:30 am. With a newborn, this period of wakefulness might only be 30 minutes and will gradually stretch longer, so the naps will start earlier when they are younger. Then, I would wake my baby up (if she didn’t wake up on her, which is more commonly the case), feed the baby, prepare lunch, and then get all the kids down for a nap together by 1:00pm. Usually I will give my baby an extra nursing before this nap to encourage a longer nap period.

As the baby transitions to one nap, I will adjust my older kids to have a nap period slightly earlier and just keep my infant awake to stretch them to lay down at the same period as the older ones.

Finally, we give them a short late afternoon nap (30-45 minutes) sometime between 4-5:30 pm.

In this manner, they are ready to be put down for the night around 7-8pm. We try to put the kids to bed all at the same time. Then I normally wake my baby up around 10 pm to give one final night feeding, change their diaper, and then put them back down again for the night. Between birth and 2-3 months, there will often be 1-2 more nightly feedings. But by 7-8 weeks old, they are usually doing 6-8 hour stretches at night. They normally wake up between 5-6am, and I will nurse them again and put them down again until 8 am, when the other children wake up. This allows Mommy to have time with the Lord or get further sleep as needed.

Of course this is not the same every night and my current baby still wakes occasionally wake in the middle of the night. If she does, I give her just a minute or two to see if she will fall back asleep. If not, I nurse her again and put her back down.

Watch for Signs of Tiredness

One of the keys I have found for peaceful transitions into nap periods, is to be attentive to signs of tiredness in your child. In the beginning, I would feed the baby roughly every 2 1/2-3 hours (which looked like and slowly stretched these periods over time as the baby grew. After a good thorough nursing (trying to keep the baby awake especially as a newborn), we would have a wake period where we would play, ride on mommy, etc. As soon as the baby showed signs of tiredness (crying, rubbing eyes, whimpering, eyes beginning to look red and heavy, etc.), we would lay baby down for a nap. From personal experience, it is far more difficult to put to sleep an overly tired baby. If I keep my baby up too late, it takes twice as long to get her down.

We Keep a Schedule, but Keep it Flexible

But I have been extremely flexible with our feeding routine, especially with each new baby we add. I keep a guideline of 2 1/2 – 3 hrs between feedings but was never limited to this or focused on the clock in any way. If baby appears to be hungry and all other needs are met (diaper changed, not tired, etc), then I feed baby. I don’t believe in enduring a crying baby just to get them to the next feeding time. I want to meet my child’s needs as they grow and develop. I also will often top her off with extra milk or a bottle as needed before her naps and especially before the final bedtime feeding around 7pm. I want to make sure her belly is completely full so she sleeps the most soundly and happily.

Every time baby is laid down for rest, we allow them 5-10 minutes to fuss or cry to wind themselves down as necessary. Normally, if you learn your child’s patterns and signs of sleepiness it is not really a problem. Watch for tired signs: rubbing eyes, crying, laying head down, sleepy eyes, etc. They will want to sleep. Their bodies adopt the rhythm of nap times as well. If after this 5-10 minute period, they do not go to sleep, I will check diaper, burp, or rock for a few minutes to help settle them and try again. If it again does not work, I might then top them off with additional breastmilk or simply nap them in a carrier. I never nurse them to sleep because it never works for us…the moment you put them down they wake back up. The key is to keep them awake so they are tired and ready to sleep when you lay them down. Keep them awake and get their belly really full.

Follow Your Motherly Intuition

So did this work perfectly? By no means. There were many times when baby had their own plan and try as I might, I couldn’t figure them out. I had to follow my motherly intuition. So we’ve had our share of patting them on the back to help them fall asleep, cuddling, placing them in a carrier to comfort and console them, etc. Many late afternoon naps (for some reason this one has been more of a common problem) have been abandoned and baby has taken a cat nap on mommy in the baby carrier while I made dinner preparations. I don’t strive for the perfect schedule, but did the best I could so that my other responsibilities could be addressed as well. Having a simple schedule enabled me to know when I could get my housecleaning done along with setting intervals for interaction with my other children. And ultimately, every baby will be a bit different and so there is grace to learn and adjust as you go along. No method will work perfectly. Give yourself grace to adapt and adjust as needed.

We are currently in a crazy season with my own personal health and my husband’s job position, so we often have days when we throw out the routine and just follow the cues for sleep periods. I’m thankful that God gives grace for such periods of our lives.

I wanted to conclude this part by sharing that as Christians we are free from fear through the blood of Jesus. God’s grace is abundant in helping lead you and your family in the direction that he would have you adopt in your choice of infant routines. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Rom 8:1). I want to encourage you above all, to submit yourselves to the Lord. Seek His direction, communicate and discuss with your spouse, and preserve the unity of the body of Christ. May God give you grace to loving nurture your children in the love and admonition of the Lord.

In Part 3 we will discuss encouraging longer sleep periods, and thoughts on sleeping multiples together…

COMMENT POLICY: As this can be a controversial subject, please keep your comments considerate, otherwise they will be deleted. We do not desire any argument or debate here. We are simply seeking to help those readers who have asked.

Comments { 61 }

Infant Routines at Our Home – Part 1

Addie asked: I was wondering where you fall on the baby wise-demand feeding continuum. What is your secret to finding a routine, but still following your intuition to hold them when they are upset? How do you care for your home, your children, and your health?

There are two different camps when it comes to infant routines and the basics of parenting, and both have led to confusion, frustration, and contention among friends and family. Some have defined the attachment approach to be the truly biblical manner of parenting because it demonstrates God’s love for his children with the practices of demand feeding, co-sleeping, infant wearing, etc. While others have said that adopting a schedule (the baby wise, scheduled feedings, cry-it out camp) is important to training your children to understand authority in their lives and good routine helps them thrive and grow while helping to establish that the child is not the center of the world. I don’t believe it is right to say one way is right and the other way is wrong…or that one way is more biblical than the other. This is certainly a liberty issue and we have freedom in Christ to determine the best pattern for our family structures. I am here today to share where the Lord has led us…a balance between the two

I have one wonderful mother who falls on the scheduling side, and one wonderful mother-in-law who falls on the attachment parenting/co-sleeping side, so both my husband and I have experienced being raised by these two different camps. And you know what? There honestly is no difference between us in our levels of security, strength of relationship with our parents, or any thing else. We both grew up fully secure in our parent’s love and both family’s were happy with the routines they adopted. Although I was taught to cry it out in learning how to go to sleep, I did not feel in any way deprived from my parent’s love and affection (in fact, I am extremely blessed with a close relationship with my parents).

I say this because I want to assure every new mother out there that there is complete grace for your situation to adopt what you feel led to practice. Don’t feel guilty if you chose a more flexible on demand approach. Don’t feel guilty if you throw in the towel on co-sleeping because its stressing your marriage, as there are plenty of more opportunities to invest in your child’s well-being, physiological development, and bonding then just sleeping together with them. Adopting either of these practices will not make you a better parent. And you need not feel like a failure if either/or does not work for your family.

I love many of the ideas of attachment parenting. I love the vision of bonding with baby by being closely knitted to them through breastfeeding. I adore wearing my baby on me throughout the day with baby wraps and carriers, and cuddling up with their sweet little heads close to my heart. But I don’t practice co-sleeping, and I don’t practice demand feeding 100% of the time.

I also love many of the ideas of Baby Wise and scheduling (my mom gave me a copy of My First 300 Babies which also helped encourage a scheduled feeding/sleeping approach). I love a good simple routine. I love knowing approximately when baby will sleep and when he/she will be awake. I love having a simple plan for our feedings, so that the other responsibilities in life would fall into place. This mommy believes in the importance of sleep so she can care for her family and household to the best of her abilities. My babies are joyful and happy when they have good regular nap and bed times.

But, I don’t believe these practices are more biblical or look down on anyone who chooses another option. We are called to strive for the unity of the body, to love one another, to support and encourage each other.

So what have we chosen to do? First off, we have chosen not to practice co-sleeping.

We function on these principles…

Our marriage is our first priority.

Above all, we want to preserve the marriage bed as a sacred place for my husband and I. We want our children to understand that our marriage is a priority. When children become center stage, it is too easy for a marriage to lack growth because no time is spent together. We believe our children need to understand that there are boundaries. We need privacy to build our marriage in our communication and sexual interaction. The last thing we need is the fear of waking a child.

“Children are not more important than God – or our husbands. For their own well-being and the well-being of your marriage, children must understand that they come after your spouse. They need to know they fit into a secure place within an established set of relationships.” -Jean Fleming

Sleep is a priority for my health and emotional/physical well-being.

I have experienced the harm of being sleep-deprived for extended periods of time when I battled insomnia for 1 1/2 years. In order to be a wife and mother that is alive and well and can effectively manage the responsibilities under my care, I need to strive to get a reasonable amount of sleep each night. Yes, it may be interrupted by little ones, but with a routine and separate bed situation, they are able to start sleeping through the night far earlier. I have also found that they sleep longer and more contentedly in their own sleeping environment. Our little ones have learned to sleep through the night naturally at 6-7 weeks in their own beds, which I am extremely thankful for.

Ultimately, in making the decision whether or not to co-sleep, please make sure you prayerfully discuss it with your husband to make sure you are on the same page. The last thing you would want to do is cause a divide in your marriage because he thinks otherwise. Remember to honor your husbands for the well being of your family.

Where Do Our Babies Sleep?

So, for about the first few week or so, baby will be snuggled in with us in bed as Mommy recovers, but will transition to a moses style bassinet by 2 weeks. We then have the baby nearby in our room with until they around about 2-3 months old (and normally sleeping through the night by this point). Then our babies sleep in our closet until they grow out of the bassinet and are consistently sleeping through the night (around 10 months to 1 year).  This way we have a bit more privacy, but I can easily hear if the baby awakes and needs assistance. By 1 year old, we transition them to a crib and place them together in the same room with our other children.

More to come…

COMMENT POLICY: As this can be a controversial subject, please keep your comments considerate. We do not desire any argument or debate here. We are simply seeking to help those readers who have asked.

Comments { 136 }

Screaming Toddlers & Sleepless Babies

I had an adventurous evening last night. With my husband away working extra night hours to launch his new business, this momma has been acting the part of a single mommy trying to juggle all the aspects of child care, home maintenance, and food preparation on her own. While struggling with little to no sleep, it has surely been challenging. My infant refused to go to sleep due to stuffy noses and stayed up with me till 10:30pm, while I strove to contain a pile high of laundry, amidst my toddler boy getting up repeatedly to use the toilet, always needing help in the process.

Finally coming up at 10:30, only to discover my toddler crying at the top of his lunges standing in a puddle of pee, soaked through his jammies. While he stands there crying, my infant is lying on the bed with poop leaking through her diaper onto my comforter. Running back and forth, I madly try to change each of them, nurse the baby, comfort the toddler (who gets incredibly distraught when he has an accident), and settle them all down in their beds. So much for a quiet evening to myself. And this was just the evening…we won’t get into the adventures of the day. ;)

I finally crashed on the bed, leaving the cleanups for the morning. Normally I would be stressed out, frazzled, and ready to throw in the towel. What did I get myself into? I might moan and feel sorry for myself. But tonight, God supplied me with an extra measure of grace to simply sit back and laugh. To replay the situation and see the humor in it all. To laugh at all the adventures this mothering business provides. To let go of my frustration and weariness and embrace the journey He has called me to. We will surely look back in years to come and laugh…why not do it now? Feeling sorry for myself surely won’t get me anywhere. It won’t improve my situation. It won’t increase my contentment. Laughter provides such healing to the soul.

It reminded me of Ma Ingall’s sage advice in the Little House on the Prairie tv series. She was getting all frustrated over something Pa had done and seeping in anger in her inner being. She finally declares to Pa, “It’s such a waste of time to be angry at you.” And they heartily laugh together. This struck me. She had such wisdom to discern the pointlessness of focusing on her own frustrations and disappointments. Feeling sorry for herself surely didn’t improve the situation. She realized that ultimately it is just a waste of time.

I rise this morning with several messes on hand…but the joy of the Lord as my strength! Go forth in the joy of the Lord today my friends and seek to let go and laugh. May the Lord supply us with grace to embrace the challenges, to laugh at the adventures, and to do all in the grace and strength that He alone supplies.

Remember the wise woman of Proverbs 31:25: “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” I pray for this freedom to let go of fear and laugh at ourselves in our daily lives and to have such trust in the Lord that we can laugh as we look forward to the adventures of the future.

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The Heavenly Work Before Me

There have been repeated times in the past few years where I have struggled with the “what if’s” of my past. What if I had continued to pursue a college degree and not gotten married so early? What if we had waited longer to have children? What if I pursued an active career? I see other couples waiting five years to have children and feel a bit of discontentment creep up in my heart because I wonder what it would have been like to have such freedom. I’ll be honest and confess that it has been a great struggle in my heart. This job of motherhood is so hard. It’s hard to get up and care for little ones when I am lacking serious sleep. It’s hard to train them with grace and patience. It’s hard to embrace their neediness with joy.

The Lord has been gently working on my heart as I am currently mediating through Ephesians 5:15-17, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

What does God have for you? I’ve found that what God desires me to embrace is often right in front of me. It’s not way out there. It’s these little hands and feet He has called me to nurture. It’s this strong man that He has called me to support, cheer on, and follow. The will of the Lord is for me is to delight in, to embrace where He has me right now. When I doubt that, I am walking foolishly. I’m mocking his plan. He has called me to be a wife, mother, and homemaker. It may not have come in my own timing, but it certainly has been His timing (Proverbs 16:9).

THIS, right HERE…is what God has assigned for me. The fullness of my womanhood is experienced in embracing these tasks with intentionality. We truly only have one life to live, it will soon be past. Only what is done for Christ will last. To walk any other way is to walk blindly, foolishly.

I’ve experienced such fear, doubt, and lack of value because I’ve focused on what this culture exalts, rather than what God truly values. What did Jesus embrace? Jesus welcome the little children (Luke 18:16). He chose the humble, the weak, and gave them beauty and value (even when his culture looked down upon them and tried to send them away).

THIS WORK…this is heavenly work. He said they were what the Kingdom was made up of. He embraced the weak…not the intelligent, educated, and religious people. Jesus said to love the little children is valuable. It is beautiful. It is His work. Even with all it’s messes and challenges. He never promised it would be easy, but He did promise that this is the work of the Kingdom, and what we do to the least of these, we do for Him (Matthew 25:40). If this is the season He has called you to, then being faithful where you are is the best use of your time.

What you do sisters in your homes has beauty and value. It was what Jesus exalted. Don’t waste another moment thinking about the past, or what you’ve given up. It’s a waste of the precious moment you have in front of you.

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When Your Mother’s Heart Trembles

Written by monthly contributing writer, Daniele Evans.

Something wasn’t right.

I knew it deep down, and it shook me upThis boy of ours struggled, unable to translate words in his mind to ones we could hear from his mouth.

He tried, yes he did.  His toddler lips shaping silently, that innocent voice straining to move beyond babbling to actual speech.

Each attempt met disappointment, and Mama’s heart trembled as I watched my son. Often I’d look into those eyes, sometimes teary with frustration…and the core of me ached.

He knew.

Neither one of us understood why, but he knew words escaped him.  Unlike the possible fits or tantrums from a strong-hearted two-year-old, the battle within him displayed as silence.

He laughed, he played, he engaged with our family.  But when it came time for words, and toddler attempts at repetition didn’t quite sound like Mama’s or big brother’s or anyone else’s…

…He sat in silence, alone with his pain.  Oh, how my heart would ache for him.

Since those months, we’ve been introduced to the world of Early Intervention, speech therapy, and a host of other special needs considerations for this concern.  At times overwhelming, I am mostly grateful for assistance in guiding our son.

These days, when my heart’s still shaky on the subject, I think of Mary.

I admire Jesus’ mother for many reasons.  She was so calm and collected when a host of strange men excitedly arrived into her birthing space, a stall no less.  I’d like to think I would simply ‘ponder all these things in my heart’, but realize words would probably escape my lips.  Sigh.  Most of all, I remember Mary’s initial visit from the angel (Luke 1:26-38) — an interruption to everything she was planning. Motherhood for Mary didn’t begin all cozy and sweet.  She was shaken from the start with news of all her son be responsible for, all he would face.

And her heart trembled.

I am repeatedly humbled by the response.  Even with heart and mind likely scattered as she processed the impact of her calling, Mary responded:

“I am the Lord’s servant…May it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38)

Here’s my interpretation — “Alright.  I’m God’s and I’m available to Him.  Go ahead, birth Jesus in me.”

Lord, grace me with such a heart.  In this unexpected path of speech delays and unknown worlds of therapists and education plans…remind me that I am Yours; and you’re up to something in my life.

The path of motherhood for any of us is both exhilarating and terrifying.  It may not always be pretty, we’ll most definitely face challenges and we’ll sometimes wonder if any good is being done.

Our children will test us, onlookers will misunderstand us, and the impact of our callings will bring us to our knees. I won’t pretend to understand each personal story in this raising of children.  But, I am convinced of one thing for us all:

If we allow, if we like Mary lend ourselves to being His servant, willingly walking hand-in-hand with Him in this up-over-the-top journey of motherhood…

He’ll birth Jesus in us.  

And the Prince of Peace will settle our trembling hearts.

Grace in the journey sisters…

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A Valuable Task

I’m at the Relevant conference this weekend continuing to be strengthened and encouraged in using this blog for the glory of God (If you are a blogger, check out the live streaming!)…so I thought I would leave you with this quote:

“How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the rule of three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No. A woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.”

G.K Chesterton

 

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Joy and Grief During Pregnancy

 Written by monthly contributor, Emily Pastor.

My husband and I were planning a bike tour across Europe when we found out about our first pregnancy.  We planned to quit our jobs in a year’s time and head off on an adventure for three months of cycling and seeing the world. I was 22 years old. With places to see and adventures to enjoy, a baby just wasn’t on our itinerary.

Although we welcomed the news, it also came at an unexpected time. I believe that children are a blessing from the Lord, so why did I feel such a mixture of joy and grief throughout my pregnancy? All around me, women struggled to conceive, adopt, or carry to term the babies they so desperately wanted. It seemed so shameful and ungrateful to hold even a hint of sadness regarding such a gift of life.

Every Woman Experiences Different Emotions Regarding Pregnancy
Many women enter motherhood with the utmost joy and abandon. Many women enter motherhood with grief from less than ideal circumstances. Many women desperately desire to enter motherhood but face grief due to infertility, miscarriages, and adoption delays. I am not qualified or equipped to speak about the emotions in each of these circumstances. I can only relate my experience and hope it encourages other women facing a pregnancy with mixed emotions.

New Life Born from Sacrifice
A seed cannot bear fruit unless it first falls to the ground and dies. In marriage, spouses must die to their independent life and choices to promote a united life together. Jesus Christ Himself couldn’t bring us true life without first giving up His own. Each of these “new lives” were born out of sacrifice and death. It is right and true that grief accompanies the greatest of joys.

Grief comes through the realization of what must “die” to bring about new life.  I grieved for the loss of personal freedom.  I grieved for the loss of alone time with my husband.  I grieved the unknown changes that were ahead of me.  I grieved for the delay in travel plans.  And while I knew the joy set before me would be worth these sacrifices, I still felt grief in the midst of that joy.

Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.

-Theodore Roosevelt

A Harvest of Joy
With the arrival of our daughter, grief remained. I felt it in the new and daily sacrifices mothering required, but as my daughter grew so did my joy and delight in mothering. My husband and I haven’t cycled across Europe yet, and I haven’t actually ridden my bike in two years, but as my daughter and I walk hand in hand on a crisp fall day, somehow those things don’t seem so important anymore.  Joy is replacing grief.  The new life that started so small in me, now produces joy a hundred-fold daily.  Yes, motherhood is hard work.  Yes, there are times of grief and sacrifice, but I now know from experience that great sacrifices produce the greatest harvests of joy.

Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

-Psalms 126:5-6

What emotions have you experienced regarding transitions into pregnancy/motherhood? 

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Newborn Cloth Diaper Reviews

I have always loved to cloth diaper by babies since my first born, Karis, was just a few months old. It’s not just the cost savings and environmental benefits that appeal to me, but also the pure cuteness of cloth diapers. I appreciate putting something completely natural against the skin of my babies, but I also love the pleasure that comes in simple sustainability. With the huge selection of cloth diaper choices available on the market today, with the wealth of cute patterns and colors, I don’t know why any one wouldn’t want to at least try cloth diapering. ;)

We decided it would be best to use disposables for the first week while I was in recovery so I wouldn’t have to think about washing them, but I was so eager to start trying out our sampling of newborn diapers that I only lasted 4 days! We are huge fans of one size pocket diapers at our home, and have always used Bum Genius pocket diapers, which fit well starting around 10 pounds and continue through potty training. Since most babies cannot fit into that size right away, it is nice to have a collection of newborn diapers to use for the first 1-3 months. Here is my review of the newborn cloth diapers we tried.

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Eden’s Homebirth Story

Eden Joy Edmonds
“Joyful Delight
August 7, 2011
9:05 pm
7 pounds 14 ounces, 20 3/4 inches

We have been blessed with another girl to raise to be a godly young woman for the Lord! I really wanted to have a daughter and companion for my Karis girl, but had fully convinced myself that it had to be a boy, considering it was extremely active in the womb, everyone predicted it was a boy, and I felt the Lord had confirmed the name of a boy in my heart. I had become really excited for a boy too. Well the Lord must have been laughing! Especially when we were confused over the gender for an hour after the birth! ;) Wait till you hear that part…

Waiting for the arrival of my little Eden was a very challenging time for me. Having delivered my first two at least a week early, I struggled with patience over the delay, intense heat of summer, and very difficult physical pain and nausea in the last few weeks of pregnancy. Labor began late Saturday night, August 6th. I was already physically tired from lack of sleep the night before, but I was also eager to have my baby. Contractions were consistent at 5 minutes apart and pretty painful from the start. After two hours they stopped altogether and my husband and I attempted to get some rest. I experienced contractions off and on through the night along with a lingering nauseated feeling.

Sunday morning arrived and I remained sick and tired but nothing was really happening, so we all decided to go to church and conclude that baby was not coming. Surprisingly though, contractions started again as soon as I arrived. They were consistent but mild. I gently swayed back and forth with each contraction as we worshipped. It was a great distraction but difficult to keep my composure. I really didn’t want people to know I was in labor just in case this was not the real thing. ;)

After the service, I quickly called the midwife and headed home. By 1:00pm, my midwife and birth team arrived. I began my normal labor routine of placing my arms around my husband’s neck, hanging limp, and swaying my hips side to side (my favorite labor position), and walking all around the house and yard, and up and down the stairs, letting gravity do its thing. At 3:00 pm, my midwife checked me and discovered that I was 6 cm dilated. We were all excited to see such good progress and were assured that it would be coming soon. In my mind I estimated that baby would arrive around dinner time. Hmm…that was not a good idea.

Contractions increased in intensity but continued at roughly 5 minutes apart. I went into the hot tub, and while it was relaxing it really slowed down my labor. It was a pleasant experience though being outside with midwives and mothers relaxing on our patio furniture while my little ones played in the yard. What more could you ask for? After nearly two hours in the tub without any real progress, trying to relax and rest unsuccessfully, I got out and started aggressively walking up and down the steps (two at a time) and around the house. I loved having the freedom and space to move around as needed. I was determined. But as it lagged on, I began getting pretty discouraged. The pain was extremely intense…more painful than I had ever experienced before with my previous two births. I felt like I went through transition three times with lots of tears and desperation. My midwife tried to check me on two separate occasions but couldn’t reach my cervix. What did this mean? The dinner hour came and went. The mystery of consistent contractions that were still 5 minutes apart but very difficult continued.

I returned to the hot tub around 7pm and experienced the most intense emotions. I was desperate. I came to a place of complete brokenness. I had always been strong and prideful in myself. I was an empowered homebirth mama. I could handle pain. Haha! The Lord really used this birth to humble me in more ways than one.  I came to a place of complete desperation and dependence upon the Lord because only He could truly sustain and uphold me. I clung to my husband as I labored on my hands and knees in the hot tub. It was nice being in water but not really helpful in managing the pain as I had hoped. I would look into my husband’s eyes and cry…”I can’t do this!” My sweet husband patiently and graciously held on to me and encouraged me to the best of his ability.

At long last things kicked into gear. It was nearly 9:00 pm. I was so thankful for a quick finale. With two major contractions and several pushes, baby arrived. The pushing stage in water was a refreshing experience.

Baby arrived at 9:05 pm and was placed right into my arms. It turns out baby was delivered with her hand right by her face, which may have caused the extra pain in my labor. I was so incredibly weak at this point that I could barely hold my child. It was dark outside with just one overhead light on and for the first time I was the one appointed to identify the gender. Previously, my husband had always identified.

I looked at the baby…it looked like a boy. I looked down and saw the cord between the legs and swollen parts and mistook it for a boy. Hilariously enough, I had convinced myself it had to be a boy. I didn’t put much thought into it…nor was I really all there mentally after such an exhausting experience. So we all were crying once again thinking we were welcoming a boy. Because it was getting chilly outside they quickly moved us inside to shower off. Baby was wrapped up quickly without a second glance. ;) I actually fainted on the bathroom floor from the quick transition and they carried me to the couch. The afterbirth contractions were very hard. I could hardly feel any part of my body from the loss of blood. Baby’s cord was cut and delivered again into my arms for our first nursing experience. Baby lached on immediately and I felt I had such a sweet bonding experience with my supposed son.

After over an hour from delivery, my mother-in-law offered to get baby dressed. She carried baby upstairs to clean her up a bit more. By this time my husband had announced to the world (via facebook ;) , that it was a boy. As my mother in law cleaned up the baby getting ready to put a diaper on, she discovered that it was really a girl. She called my husband in to show him the reality. Aaron came back downstairs and said, “It’s not Eli, it’s Piper (because those were the names we liked at that point).” I was so frustrated at him since I was in such pain. “That is not funny.” I said in response. “I am in no mood for joking.” “No really…it’s a girl.” He insisted. I was in complete shock. How could I incorrectly identify my child? I felt like I had bonded with my son. For nearly two hours I was in a state of shock. Everyone was laughing. Aaron returned to facebook and announced, “Scratch that…it’s a girl!” All in all, it was an hilarious experience and I can look back now and retell the story with laughter. I had completely convinced myself. I am determined not to be the one to identify again…or maybe we will just get an ultrasound next time to avoid such confusion. ;)

So we had a girl! I’m blessed beyond words. After two days, we finally decided on her name. Eden means “delight, paradise, luxury” and I felt it was such a good reminder of the beauty of God’s creation and His original design for mankind in the garden of Eden. We were fashioned in His image to display His glory. My vision is that my little Eden would passionately adopt God’s design for her and find her “delight” in the Lord and that He would give her the desires of her heart (Psalms 37:4). We chose “Joy” because we want her life to be characterized by a spirit of joy and thankfulness. She has brought such delight and joy to our hearts, but even more so, we pray that she would be a gift of joy and delight to others and pass on the gift. I pray that she would find her complete delight and satisfaction in our great God and Savior and live her life to make His glory known to the ends of the earth.

As I look back, I am thankful for such an intense labor. While it was the most difficult thing I have endured, God was so faithful to me. He broke me. He humbled me. I have been changed. I feel such a greater sympathy and compassion now for others. I rejoice in the fact that it was such a smooth and safe delivery and it was all accomplished in the comfort of my own home and hot tub with wonderful mothers, midwives, and my husband around me. What a huge blessing! The grace has been given to cling ever more to my Savior and Lord. And now my arms are full…three precious gifts. Each given to me to be prepared to send forth as an arrow for the Lord. God is good!

Thank you all again for your thoughts, prayers, and support! It is such a blessing having such a wonderful community of women here to love and care for one another despite the distance. 

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