Preparing for my home birth

It’s finally hitting me the past couple weeks:  I’m going to have another baby.  It only took 38 weeks to figure it out, but at least I didn’t wait until the day of.  I guess I’ve been so busy with Asher and our house that I’ve just put off preparing for the day of Silas’ birth.  No matter, I’m here now and busy mentally and physically preparing for laboring and delivering.  Since this is my second go around, I’ve really felt I don’t really need to prepare like I did with Asher and have to catch up on everything.

Asher and me after his birth less than two years ago...my how we've changed!

Asher and me after his birth less than two years ago…my how we’ve changed!

My husband and I took HypnoBirthing class while we lived in Alabama, which I attribute to my ease of labor and confidence going in.  My only regret with my first delivery was that I couldn’t have Asher at home with a midwife—something I could’ve done illegally, but we chose to use our insurance to pay for an OB-GYN (plus, I didn’t really know a lot about home birthing when we chose our doctor).  I believe the one complication I’m still dealing with from my first delivery would not have happened had I been with my current midwife.  Unfortunately, it’s illegal to have a home birth with a midwife in the state of Alabama (along with the sale of raw milk for human consumption—another topic altogether), but of course, you can do things such as buy and consume all the raw meat you can handle even though there’s a chance you could die from it.  But I digress…

I’m incredibly excited to have this opportunity to [make the decision to] deliver at home with a Certified Nurse Midwife, Brenda Abercrombie.  The difference between my care with my OB-GYN and her is total night and day.  I was essentially ushered around and treated like a pregnant cow.  There was some attempt at making things personal, but I didn’t realize how weak an attempt this was until I started seeing Brenda.  I saw a practice of midwives in Georgia for the first trimester while we were still living in Alabama with Silas, but these women were truly “OB-GYN-lite”.  I would have had a hospital birth (potentially a water birth) just as before except one of the midwives would have stayed with me without leaving my side during the entire labor and delivery.  Ugh, my nightmare!  I like to be left alone with I’m going through contractions or “surges” as HypnoBirthers refer to it.

HypnoBirthing taught me so much about our bodies’ abilities to give birth, the history of childbirth, and the unnecessary fear that plagues expectant mothers in the United States and other westernized countries.  It was truly liberating to learn about how perfectly our bodies are made to create and deliver healthy babies even though the medical community has essentially destroyed women’s confidence in doing so.  God created us yet somehow we’ve turned a natural process into something that necessitates medical intervention.  Of course, medical intervention can be necessary and life-saving, but most of the time it is not.  Women should be well-screened and the midwives they see should be certified as any doctor is.  There was an incident in our area where an uncertified and uncertified midwife caused the death of an infant.  Tragic incidents like this should never happen with an experienced and certified midwife and only fuel the fear out there.

I have read countless statistics out there on the safety of home birth versus hospital births.  The results vary depending on where the study took place and what group conducted it, so ultimately, any decision a woman makes should be done through her own research, experience and prayer.  I listed some links to some of the statistics I’ve read below this post.  I’m confident and comfortable with my decision and hope every woman has the opportunity to have the birth of her choice without doctors, midwives and others negatively influencing their decision.

Since I’m on the subject of empowering women, I think it’s imperative for those of us who have given birth to not discourage women who haven’t with negative birth stories.  I’ve been guilty of unwittingly doing this I’m sure because it is easy to share any life-changing event you’ve experienced without realizing it could be hurting a woman’s confidence.  I’m also incredibly passionate about empowering women’s birthing experiences, which has caused me to get a little “preachy” with women (sorry for those who’ve experienced this).  Unfortunately, childbirth is an unnecessarily delicate situation to talk about that has come about due to decades of women going through overly “medicalized” births as HypnoBirthing taught me…and of course, Hollywood tends to dramatize it a little as well. ;)  We really need to get back to encouraging women and sharing our experiences as necessary without dramatizing some of the less pleasurable portions of labor and delivery or getting “preachy”.

Scary!

Scary Hollywood dramatization!

The people I’ve found to be the least supportive were sadly nurses and assistants involved in first pregnancy.  Numerous nurses and assistants rolled their eyes at me when told them at various stages of my pregnancy that I did not plan on or want any “pain management” methods they offered such as epidurals or drugs of any kind.  This didn’t affect me too badly (and pretty much furthered my determination to have a “natural” birth), but I know every woman is different and this could be a total confidence killer.  I’m sure many women say they’re planning on doing it naturally and don’t, but have any of these women who roll their eyes consider they were one of the knocks on the armor of pregnant women they’re treating that prevented them from having the births they planned on by reacting this way?

As I’m preparing for my second labor and delivery, I’m not dealing with the mystery of it.  Women can’t affect my confidence because I know what to expect.  I’m “in the club” already. ;)  Granted, every pregnancy is different, but the mystery of it all is no longer there.  I had a wonderful birth with Asher, but there’s always a chance of something going wrong no matter where I deliver Silas.  My pride gets me in trouble way too much, and I’m worried it’ll do so in this situation.  Yes, I delivered a 9.5-pound baby in a short amount of time without the use of drugs or medical intervention, but it was by the grace of God.  I played no part in the creation of the heavens and earth.  I’m not special, I was blessed with confidence and determination.  I’m praying God continues to extend His grace in Silas’ birth and gives me an uncomplicated birth and most importantly a healthy baby boy.  I can’t wait to meet the [big] little guy I’ve grown to know and love while inside me!  Blessings to the women out there who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant!

Blessings,

Michelle

Home birth and hospital birth statistics sources:

http://pregnancy.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Home_Birth_Statistics

http://www.webmd.com/baby/news/20100702/home-births-linked-higher-newborn-death-rate?page=2

http://www.uptodate.com/contents/planned-home-birth

Our telecon with AgWired’s Chuck Zimmerman

This week’s blog post is a required post for my class.  Last week we had a teleconference with AgWired’s founder Chuck Zimmerman during which he gave his background and how he started out in agriculture media and AgWired.  Mr. Zimmerman definitely has one of the most interesting backgrounds I’ve heard, most of which is available to read about on AgWired.

One topic covered by Chuck was how communication and journalism changed over his career.  I know since I was a kid, things have changed immensely, so it has changed even more so for him.  When I returned from my 15-month deployment to Iraq in late-2008, technology had absolutely exploded.  I was asked by Verizon if I wanted “2G” with my new phone.  The salesperson looked at me like I was a complete idiot when I asked, “Why on earth do I need internet on my phone??”  Prior to leaving for Iraq, using the internet on your phone was the absolute scariest and most expensive proposition for me (and probably anyone without a lot of money).  Plus, I couldn’t imagine needing the internet so badly that I required it on my phone and always available.  Ignorance is bliss—I don’t know what I did without internet at my fingertips now!  Sad.

During his 30+-year career, Chuck has seen some of the greatest advancements in technology, particularly with social media.  He started out in agriculture radio broadcast after college and now operates one of the first agriculture blogs that he and his wife founded in 2004.  Chuck embraced the changes by generating AgWired, which has been one of the most successful tools in social media for agribusinesses in the United States.  This has been incredible for farmers as well, especially as a younger generation that is certainly more technologically savvy and can take even greater advantage of social media.  The younger generations are where I see the greatest impact going forward are.  Also and in this, everyone from large agribusinesses and small, family-owned farms alike will continue to utilize social media to grow their businesses.  It will continue to become easier and easier for consumers to connect with the businesses that provide everything from food to clothing.

Sabbath moments

I’ve often wondered how a mother, homemaker and wannabe Proverbs 31 woman like me ever gets a “day of rest” and if I’m sinning by not keeping one day off a week.  While I worked full-time after Asher was born, I assumed I was honoring the Sabbath by laying around the house on a weekend day (most likely Sunday) and didn’t consider anything I did as a mother as work at that time.  Now I don’t work, you would think every day is a Sabbath with this logic!  This couldn’t be further from the truth as I’m seeing now that I’ve been a housewife and full-time mother the past few months–there is no chance of a traditional day of rest!  Of course, I’m [very] pregnant and we’re in the middle of renovating our house, so perhaps this is as bad as it gets–talk to me in a few weeks when I’ll have a newborn in addition to the madness!😉

In Exodus 20:8, God commanded the Israelites to, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”  I didn’t grow up in church (we were “CEO Christians”–Christmas-Easter Only–at best) nor did I have a Christian mentor to guide me as I grew up reading my Bible and periodically attending church.  Therefore, I’ve consequently struggled in many ways, particularly with legalism and trying to control situations entirely on my own.  “God gives us instructions, it’s our job to follow His commands” has always been my way of thinking–must not use the Lord’s name in vain…must honor the Sabbath…must not lie…must not murder…  Ironically, I’ve always failed in the worst ways at following them, which has driven me to give up completely on maintaining some of them in the past and moreover on achieving that perfection mark of never breaking a commandment.  Next starts the comparisons, “At least I’ve never worshiped a golden calf…”  Please.  Getting off topic…moving on.

What’s a day of rest?

Our lead pastor at Redeemer Church, Greg Gaumer, is currently preaching a series on Exodus, which included a sermon on the Sabbath day last weekend.  I need to listen to it over again because my pregnant self can’t remember all the details, but the things he said prompted many a thoughts and investigation to discover how we housewives and mothers can sneak in our day of rest.  In one of his sermons and commentary, Pastor John Piper offered insight that resonated some of what Pastor Greg preached, which gave me a better understanding of the Sabbath day and God’s intent for it.  Side note: Piper’s commentary also gave me a profound sense of peace as I have struggled with doubt–perhaps someone else will benefit from it as I have.

I’m no theologian, so I encourage you to read the Bible and commentary on scripture or talk to your pastor regarding the Sabbath day to determine what it means for Christians.  It seems there are varying interpretations of this command out there, and I pray the Holy Spirit guides you to the right information.  I believe it’s along the lines of the sermons from my pastor and John Piper.  I think in part honoring the Sabbath requires us to rest in the Lord and honor Him by tuning things out and focusing on Him through deliberate rest and devotion.  So when is that “day of rest”?  My conclusion for a mother of a toddler and [soon-to-be] newborn like me, that answer is I don’t get one in the sense that I take a complete day off from my labors to worship the Lord.  Between nursing, washing diapers, feeding my family, keeping a budget, grocery shopping, keeping a garden, and cleaning a house, I really can’t ever expect a full day’s rest.  Sigh.  Truthfully, can anybody in any role have a day off every week anyways??

Less than a donkey

So I don’t get a full day’s rest until the kids old enough to ship them off to grandma and grandpa’s house overnight, which will not be a weekly occurrence for us anyways.  Does this make me less than the ox, donkey and livestock who are supposed to get a break one day a week as per Deuteronomy 5:13-14?  By no means!  Jesus worked on the Sabbath.  He also took naps and rested, which is what I believe we can do.  We can also adopt a proper attitude to our roles as housewives and mothers by not complaining about the heavy workload we have.  The Proverbs 31 woman “rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens” (Proverbs 31:15).  I doubt the household took days off from eating!  Not mention she had a whole lot more on her plate that took quite a bit of time to complete I’m sure.

Although I don’t get what I consider a full day off anymore, I’ve never felt more at peace with where I’m at in life because this is where God has called me to be.  Of course, not every day is perfect, nor am I always so chipper to wake up doing the same things over and over again, but I’m at peace.  I take naps and rest when I can.  I regrettably don’t spend enough time praying and reading scripture at this season, which is the rest I truly need on a daily basis.  I may not get a day off, but when I’m not laboring, I am intent to have my “Sabbath moments” of prayer, devotion, rest and cat naps from this point on.  I hope we all find this time and devote ourselves to our Savior.

Blessings,

Michelle

Woe is me…a moment of “authenticity”

Sometimes I feel like a total failure as a mother.  I do “my best” for my family, but there are shining moments like tonight that make me wonder how good my best can be.  I don’t want to get into the details of what happened this evening, but I now have poison control on speed dial and my son took an unfortunate trip down the stairs.  To polish things off, I ate some frozen custard from Andy’s.  If you’ve never experienced Andy’s, just don’t do it unless you want to develop a lifelong longing for the creamiest frozen custard known to man—or at least to me.  I justified my trip tonight because we had a long, rough day of renovations, plus my husband flashed his puppy dog eyes at me while requesting it before I walked out the door to go to Home Depot.  Now I feel guilty because I just gave Silas a ton of sugary goop.  I failed both of my sons (and my growing behind).

My sick little boy :(

My sick little boy–I even blamed myself for him getting sick, too😦

This is obviously a venting session for a blog post, but I think it’s important to share some of the realities of our lives to any audience we have—particularly in a blogging setting.  There are so many bloggers out there who are wonderful and appear to be only wonderful.  Don’t get me wrong, so many readily admit their flaws and struggles, but it’s difficult to conceptualize their lives being anything like yours when you read about how they make everything from cloth diapers to household cleaners to apple pies daily.  That was a bit of an exaggeration, but I definitely feel inferior.  I’m certainly a spring chick to homemaking and being a stay at home mom compared to these wonderful ladies, but days like today really make me question how long it takes to be an effective one—or at least one who gets a few things right!

I had a brief, eye-opening conversation with a fellow church member a couple weeks ago.  He discussed a study he read on how people are developing misconceptions about people they read about via social media and basically feel like failures due to the people they read about because everyone puts on their “smiley faces” when they post.  Even in my short span of blogging, I already feel as though I’m painting my life as something more sensational than it really is.  Yes, I do the things I write about (some of them only once), but I fail in so many areas that in my mind negate anything “good” I’ve done.  Of course, I can’t imagine anyone subscribing to or being interested in someone who writes about their regular failures in life.  What a drag!

I don’t plan to be a Debbie Downer in my posts, but I will always try to add some authenticity.  I’m a sinner.  I’m imperfect, a failure and overly critical of myself at times.  I’m ever in need of a Savior.  I need Christ’s mercy and grace every day.  I also need to extend grace to myself and everyone around me.  I have moments I feel like I’m destroying my son’s life—tonight would be one of those moments.  ;)  Tomorrow is another day I can try again, though.  Praise God, I’ve had some great conversations with some wonderful, godly and seasoned mothers who have offered me so much advice and encouragement.  My hope is woman can continue encouraging and growing in our roles as homemakers and mothers.  We have the most important job in the world of raising our children—the future—and need God to guide us in this task, the encouragement of others and the ability to forgive ourselves when we don’t live up to our own lofty expectations.  I think we’d all like to be that Proverbs 31 woman, but we can’t be her every day and in every moment.

Blessings,

Michelle

Sprouted Oatmeal

I’ve been devouring this incredible sprouted oatmeal lately I thought I’d share. It tastes like warm cookies to me and is oh so nourishing and delicious. We only eat sprouted grains in our household and I mill sprouted whole wheat berries for flour for use in my homemade pizza crust and other baked goods. I don’t typically spend time soaking grains such as oatmeal, so I “cheat” by purchasing it sprouted from To Your Health Sprouted Flour Co.

20130327-173851.jpg

We only drink raw milk, but I ran out of milk the day before our biweekly deliver and settled for a local, non-homogenized whole milk. Because I cook the milk, I am basically pasteurizing it anyways. Important thing is you use whole milk from pastured cows–the best kind! The type of maple syrup is important; make sure it’s real, pure, organic maple syrup. I purchase mine from Mama Jean’s.

Sprouted Oatmeal

1/2 c Sprouted Oats
1 c Raw Milk
1-3 tsp Real Maple Syrup

Combine all three ingredients in a sauce pan and cook on medium-high heat for approximately five minutes. Throw it in a bowl, allow to cool and enjoy (with pastured eggs and bacon if you’d like as I do)! It’s that simple but so delicious!

Blessings,

Michelle

Three things I learned from FarmNWife’s blog

Unfortunately, I missed class last week when the FarmNWife blogger Judi Graff came to give us tips on writing blogs and offered critiques for each student’s blog.  Asher ended up with strep throat and I had to stay home with him. I’ll be writing an entry about this episode in my next blog.  I’ve been studying FarmNWife’s blog and came up with the top three things I learned from her blog and how I can apply them to my own.

Writing short blog posts.  If you’ve read any of my other [meatier] posts, you would know I tend to be long-winded when I write.  I realize if I would write shorter posts I could write more often.  In her post “11 Ways to Speed Blog,” Judi prescribes how a person short on time can still make time to post blogs through “speed blogging”—something homemakers/bloggers desperately need to know how to do!  I honestly don’t know how women with five or more kids (including a newborn) who homeschool and prepare everything have time to blog!  In addition to busy housewives, business owners—particularly small businesses or those just starting out—can benefit from speed blogging since their mission should be promoting their business through blogs, which requires a lot of time that the small business may not have.

Out of the list of suggestions she offered, I see myself doing list posts, product reviews, “on the farm roundups”, and pictures.  All of these are appealing and seem fairly easy to me.  The key thing I have to remember is to not get so wrapped up around covering every angle.  I also need to explore the idea of truly journaling my daily life occasionally, which is something I shy away from because I feel people really don’t want to hear about my daily happenings.  One suggestion I’ve done somewhat with posts is “write what you know”.  This is easy for me, but I often feel I don’t include enough sources in my information.  Something I will work on in the future!

Blog post checklists.  Judy provided a “Blog Post Checklist” through an image (think “shorter blog post”!) detailing all the things you should do before publishing a post.  There are so many that I’m not doing now and should be!

Blog Post Checklist

FarmNWife’s Blog Post Checklist

I follow many of these suggestions, but the ones I will include better in my posts are categorizing, calling to action, adding more links and keywords, and sharing each post better.  I’m still a little unwilling to promote my blog at this juncture because I feel I need to come up with more content beforehand, but I realize some people are satisfied with a single article.

Top mistakes beginners make.  My favorite and most informative teaching by Judy was “Top Mistakes Beginning Bloggers Make”.  There are so many I had not thought of before!  I was totally clueless about permalinks prior to reading this and will certainly go back and fix those on my blog.  Here’s her list of top beginner posting mistakes:

–        Not setting permalinks
–        Using click here for a link
–        Not key wording images
–        Large blocks of text
–        Making it hard to comment or share
–        Not linking internally
–        Unable to contact

I think I fail at all of these except a couple.  I don’t feel I have an “interactive” blog with enough links.  I’ve learned a lot about blogs just through reading and subscribing to many, but I realize through this post that I’m not doing enough to promote and bolster my blog.  I love seeing links anytime I read anything, so this is one of the first things I’ll be changing in my blogs.  I think I’ll also remove the comment restriction I have on my blog.  I don’t like dealing with spam, but Judy makes the valid point that it’s easy to get rid of.  I also to get the keywording thing down, stat!

All-in-all I found her blog informative and useful for farmers, business owners and housewives alike!

Blessings,

Michelle

Cloth Diapering: Our Reality

We made the decision to use cloth diapers with our son from jump a few months before he was born and after I researched and convinced my husband they were the most economical and practical diapering route we could take. Period. Although I had done the research and came to my conclusions, my husband was a complete skeptic at first, believing we would be using the old school “nappies” complete with safety pins and stains. After having used them the past 19+ months, I think he would even be open to even those now, though.

Our newly folded "stash"

Our newly folded “stash”

At first, we tried a newborn size diaper, but they leaked terribly. I felt like such a failure but never had the urge to give up on them. We tried some normal size diapers (8-35 pounds or birth-potty training size), which made us realize our 9 ½ pound son was simply too big for the newborn diapers. We now have about a dozen newborn diapers that I’m praying our next son will be able to wear for a spell. I’m actually going to attempt to some degree Elimination Communication (EC) or going “diaper-free” with the next babe. This will depend on how much time and energy I have to devote to it, but it would be the absolute most ideal method. You can find more information about this at www.diaperfreebaby.org.

Reason and rationale

Our primary reasons for taking a particular route for our children and family are health and money. Thankfully, cloth diapering gets an A+ on both of these. Along with these two, there is a myriad of rationale behind cloth diapering your baby. Here’s some reasons for our decision on cloth diapering:

  1. Costs. According to the Real Diaper Association, cloth diapering costs a tenth the cost of disposables. The average child costs about $1,600 to diaper for two years according to the site, but I’ve read articles on this being $2,700. We’ve spent less than $1,000 on cloth diapers and cloth wipes for our son. We will use the same diapers on our other children (replacing any overused as necessary, of course), thus increasing our savings for every child we’re blessed with. Cloth wipes offer additional savings, particularly if you make your own wash as I do (with a cup of water, a tablespoon of baking soda and [optional] some essential oils). Instead of having a traditional baby shower (complete with a lot of things any crunchy momma like me won’t use), have a cloth diaper shower where you invite guests to buy one cloth diaper. 24 guests who bring one each could cover all your diapering needs for your baby’s lifetime! Cha-ching! Cloth diapered babies also potty train sooner than babies in disposables, which translates to saving some green and time in diapers. Lastly, so many people are struggling to provide for their families in our country now more than ever—breastfeeding and cloth diapering could help in so many situations!
  2. Health. Disposable diapers contain traces of Dioxin, an extremely toxic by-product of paper-bleaching process that is a carcinogenic chemical and banned in most countries outside the US, and Tributyl-tin, which is a toxic pollutant known to cause hormonal problems in humans and animals. (1) These chemicals can cause rashes and allergic reactions, which typically force a mother to switch to cloth diapers—why not start out with cloth diapers and not go through the trial period?? The Dioxin chemical can cause cancer, birth defects, liver damage, skin diseases, and genetic disorders. (2)
  3. Convenience. Yes, that’s right, cloth diapers are more convenient in many ways. We never run out of diapers. We don’t have to budget for them. If we forget to wash them, which we only have to do every 2-3 days, we can make impromptu diapers with pretty much any cloth while the others are being washed. The notion that cloth diapers are a hassle would stem from the fact you do have to wash and dry them. Good news on this front is you grow completely accustomed to it, or if you’re like me and you’ve never dealt with disposables, you really are clueless to the “convenience” of disposable diapers anyways. As far as time goes, we’ve cloth diapered through my husband and I worked full-time jobs, and now we both go to school full-time and my husband works nearly full-time while we’re completely renovating our house. I’m pretty sure anyone can cloth diaper no matter what their situation is. I’ve heard women complain of the idea of having to deal with poo. If you have a baby, there’s no way around this no matter what diapers you use for one, so welcome to reality.😉 An exclusively breastfed baby’s dirty diapers can go straight into the wash with scraping any poo off in the toilet anyways, so you get the first 4-6 months easy! Cloth diapers can get smelly, but there are so many cheap and natural cleaning methods to combat this issue. You wouldn’t be able to tell we cloth diaper based on our son’s smell—although he didn’t smell like a baby ever when he was first born because apparently those chemicals in disposables make the babies I’ve been around “smell like babies”. I hadn’t been around enough cloth diapered babies to tell the difference before our son.
  4. Environment. I’m not an environmentalist, but I believe we have a responsibility to take care of what God’s given us. Disposable diapers are horrible for our planet and babies in so many ways. Over 300 pounds of wood, 50 pounds of petroleum feedstocks and 20 pounds of chlorine are used to produce disposable diapers for a single baby each years. (1) 92% of the approximate 27.4 billion disposables consumed yearly in America end up in a landfill, and each diaper can take an estimate 250-500 years to decompose. (1) Ironically, I’ve got cloth diapers that decompose in a landfill in 5 years that I will continue to use for multiple children! Speaking of irony, many people assume cloth diapers waste water; however, the manufacture and use of disposable diapers amounts to 2.3 times more water wasted than cloth. (1)

Our favorite diaper

Last note I’ll make is about the brand of cloth diaper. Everyone has their own opinion on which brands and types work best, so it’s really up to you to decide. We’ve tried 15 different brands of cloth diapers, and our absolute favorite is Tots Bots Easy Fit All-In-One diapers. They are incredible in pretty much every way, but my favorite things about them are the fact they are slim-fitting, soft, absorbent and durable. I highly recommend Velcro over snaps because they’re more customizable; however, the only brand we’ve found that has a durable Velcro is Tots Bots. They cost slightly more than most, but they’ve been worth every penny. Also, if you buy the six-pack I have linked above, they’re about the same as most cloth diapers. Total, we’ve paid around $20-25 each for all our diapers other than the newborn sized ones and those we received at the baby shower. Oh, and did I mention they’re cute??

My favorite Tots Bots pattern: Chicken Little

My favorite Tots Bots pattern: Chicken Little

Blessings,

Michelle

Sources:

  1. http://www.realdiaperassociation.org/diaperfacts.php
  2. http://www.diaperjungle.com/advantages-of-cloth-diapers.html