Spiritually Preparing for Childbirth

I finally found what I was looking for to help with understanding the spiritual side of pregnancy and giving birth.  I’d been feeling frustrated with the difficulty of this pregnancy, as my last was very easy and I didn’t have pelvic, cervical, or inner c-section scar pain.  It may just be that my uterus is not very good at carrying babies.  And then I felt frustrated that I even felt frustrated when it isn’t really that bad.  I knew deep down that feeling frustrated or dwelling on all these feelings wasn’t going to help anything – in fact, I think it only increased my stress and gave me fear about dying – something I thought wasn’t normal, but it seems like quite a few women feel this way when you talk to them.

So… I went searching online for other Christian moms’ opinions on these issues, even searching out the fear of dying during childbirth because it’s so interesting, and I had started to really feel it.

This is another great reason why women blogging can be such a wonderful blessing to all kinds of people they’d never normally have the chance to touch!

The best blog post I found about this topic was written back n 2009!  8 years later, her writing is STILL helping women lean more on God and grow in their faith!

We have instant access to some of the best wisdom and advice from people we’d never usually meet in a lifetime due to distance or the fact that they’ll most likely never find the time to write books with their thoughts in them.  And so we have blogs.  Some really great, edifying blogs.

I came across a woman’s blog Passionate Homemaking that was so inspiring and encouraging with the solid advice and Scriptures, that I couldn’t believe how completely God answered my prayers for me to find something to get me through this with more grace and mercy, keeping focused on Him!

Her posts are largely tailored for natural child birthing experiences, but they still applied in so many ways to getting through a c-section, your own fears of what could happen to you or the baby, or any painful contractions you may have beforehand like I’ve had.  I wish I had been more aware how much you can lean on God during my long and ultimately failed labor with my first, or when I was a tad scared with our second!

It sounds so obvious for a Christian mom to understand this is how we should be dealing with child birth, looking at it from a spiritual standpoint, but our human emotions and struggles take over and seem to aid us in missing these blessings!

Reading different testimonies around online as well of Christian mothers who prepared spiritually for their children’s births, it is more than obvious that the peace and trust in God’s sovereignty during some of the worst pain or even traumatic outcomes, helped them handle it all significantly better than if they hadn’t chosen to rely on God in those times.  It’s a conscious choice.

Women all over who experience pregnancy and search online to find something to help them manage their births can gain something from these verses!  So if you’ve found yourself here because of that, please follow the links below, and ask God to reveal to you what you need to know and meditate on.

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Scriptures from Passionate Homemaking:

Philippians 4:6-7 – “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (NLT)

2 Cor. 12:9 – “My grace is enough; it is all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become!” (NLT)

 

From Lindsay (author of blog)

“Reflect upon the blessings of children!

Psalms 127:3 – “Children are a blessing from the Lord; the fruit of the womb a reward.” Don’t fret over the changes, the upcoming sacrifices, but rather rejoice in the gift and the Giver!

Deut. 28:4 – “Blessed shall be the offspring of your body and the produce of your ground and the offspring of your beasts, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock.”

Reflect upon His beautiful workmanship!

Psalms 139:13-14 “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.”

Giving Birth

Isaiah 26:3 – “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you: because he trusts in you.” Keep your mind on Jesus and the peace that passes all understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:7). Focus your mind during your labor…do not let it stray to focus on the pain and process, but rather on Jesus and His sustaining grace. This verse really spoke to me while preparing for my birth. I memorized it and quoted it to myself throughout the most challenging moments of my delivery. It was such a blessing.

1 Peter 5:7 – “Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.”

Faith and Perseverance

Hebrews 11:1 “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen, it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”

Proverbs 3:34 “The Lord mocks the mockers but is gracious to the humble.” The Lord blesses those who put their trust in Him, not depending upon their own strength, but humbly acknowledging their Source!

Hebrews 10:35-36 – “So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! [A baby!] Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that He has promised.” (NLT)

I am walking in God’s will when I demonstrate patience! It brings great reward! My little one is coming!

James 1:3-4 “For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (NLT)

This birth is one means of God working to grow me in maturity and endurance. I will be stronger in my faith if I rely completely upon Him to accomplish His good work.

Psalm 40:1 – “I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and He turned to me and heard my cry.”

Psalm 119:165 – “Those who love Your law have great peace and do not stumble.” Store up the truth!

 

This final poem was a blessing to read as I prepared and welcomed my new little one!

Gift from God

I give thanks to You alone
Who sits on the throne
To loan me this precious gift
And to call it my own.

May I always see, Lord
In every waking hour,
Your majesty and grace
In this delicate flower.

Help me, O God,
To guide and preserve,
This wonderful blessing
to love and to serve.

-Doran Richards”

 

Articles:

Mental Preparation for Embracing the Pain and Letting Go of the Fear of Death

Amazing Scriptural Preparation for Child Birth (for natural birth but I got tons out of it as well)

Fear of Labor for Natural Birthing Mothers 

 

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Pregnancy, Pain, & Frustration

This past couple of weeks have gotten increasingly hard around our house.  I’ve made it to 37 1/2 weeks, but wow!!!  I’ll just say it’s been a brutal couple of weeks and feel like I have a ways to go still.  We only need to make it until next Friday (10 days), but handling two – just two!!! – active and loud kids has become embarrassingly hard now.  We know several families who have many more (4, 5, 6, even one family with 9!!!).  And yet here I am, struggling with only 2!  I have the hardest time walking in the afternoon/evening, and had made plans in my head a few weeks earlier that once Summer started, we were going to go out everyday and have fun at a water park we’re close to, but I soon realized that all that walking, being in the heat, and not even being able to really handle well our toddler’s tantrums when I’m out, would have made those plans nearly impossible.  That or they’d have possibly made the baby come early.  So home it’s been for the most part, and the baby is so low I feel like she could just fall out. :O

With all this going on, I’ve been really struggling with whining and complaining to my husband about any and everything.  I hate hearing myself complain, as I’m sure most people do.  It makes you feel like a failure and feel worse than before (at least for me).  But in these last stages where there’s so much pain at the end of the night, mostly where her head is putting “lots” (doctor’s own words!) of pressure on my cervix, I feel bad that he’s had to hear about all the pain and stress and frustration with our kids, after he’s just dealt with annoying people and criminals for several hours and is exhausted, too.

I’m working on trying to find peace and really asking God to help me better endure this short time left of the pain, and the difficulty of managing the other two kids with less of an attitude that I shouldn’t have it “so hard.”  This article was great for dealing with toddlers when they’re “driving you nuts!”  Getting help from my mom has been a God-send for me during this time ❤ and knowing my husband will be taking a month off after she’s born is so comforting.  And tactic #9 was used today, as both kids had high fever viruses and the little one had an ear infection.  Taking him in to the dr. while having contractions off and on was ridiculous, but my mom came with me and we got through it somehow.

We also had a false alarm yesterday, contractions were coming every 3-5 minutes and I forgot to wait it out to see if they’d go away, and instead drove to the hospital with the kids (while contracting… probably not the smartest idea).  My labor with our toddler came that way when it was his time to be born, and he was coming so fast the Dr. on call had to come in immediately to do the c-section.  This time though, the nurses and my Dr. said I was definitely having contractions, but by an hour or two later, they had gotten much less frequent and it wasn’t really labor.  We’re supposed to wait for a c-section in 10 days anyway, but our babies just tend to come on their schedule!

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So all this being said, I’m really trying to find some sort of spiritual blessing or something I can cling to that will help me get through with a better attitude until she arrives.  Some things I’ve thought about:

  • It’s hard right now physically (and emotionally) to be so pregnant and have a toddler, but that also means she’s so close to coming
  • Perseverance is a good thing… right?  LOL  Paul did say about our sufferings (not that this would really count to most people as a true suffering, maybe I’m a wimp but… ) that perseverance leads to character, and character leads to having hope.
  • Patient enduring of trials is good, even if it’s hard and not pleasant
  • Trials don’t seem to last forever, usually they come and go, and this particular one is so temporary, and there’s such a blessing at the end – a new baby! – to look forward to.

Updates!

baby-sophie

I’ve been really neglecting this blog, but writing the Proverbs 31 study hasn’t stopped for me (even though it’s stopped online), it’s just taking a different avenue than I expected as there’s been a request to tailor it to police wives specifically.  So I’m writing (offline) two different books essentially, one that will hopefully be in our family for however long the children and grandchildren value it, and another that may go on to be for police wives all over the country.

So you’ll start to see the posts in this series being removed and no longer available online here.  They’ve been up for months and months so hopefully anyone who was interested has gotten something out of them, and if someone wants the ending posts, just comment or send an email to let me know.

I haven’t officially posted about this here yet, but all of our “real life” friends and family are already aware – I’m 6 months pregnant with our 3rd baby, and IT’S A GIRL!!!!

With that in mind, the Proverbs 31 series, which was written primarily for our own family and future little ones (children and grandchildren hopefully), we are OVER THE MOON to have this opportunity to raise a girl.  Raising boys into strong, godly and fierce men is extremely important, and I’d say raising girls into virtuous women that fiercely hold onto their beliefs in this culture is equally as important, and it’s great that this study/book for our family will have a feminine reader when she’s ready!

I had kind of thought honestly that I’d have to wait until we had grandchildren to get a girl in our family, so this was unexpected, a little scary, but VERY much welcomed!

So after the posts disappear, I’ll probably get back to writing here on various topics concerning anti-feminism, etc.  My husband’s expressed interested in writing more as well, which is so exciting for me personally – he has the greatest ideas and I love that he’ll be expressing them here.  It will be a place where his thoughts on these times we’re in will be recorded so that our sons (and daughter and maybe our grandchildren) will be able to read and understand how he reacted to things during this strange time in America.  I’m planning on printing all his posts and keeping them in a binder (or just having them professionally bound later on when they’re “completed”).  I think it’s great to have them here, too, because anyone else that is interested (not part of our family obviously), will have access to them.

It will be like history for our family in a way, to be able to read and know intimately what our Patriarch thought!  Just so awesome!

 

And random news:  I’ve started a new blog a few months ago about fitness, and especially focused on fitness for women who want to stay in the best shape possible even after having multiple children.  Disclaimer: It shows a lot of women in bikinis :/ it’s just the best way to look at body percentage fat, etc. and is a woman’s blog intentionally.  So if lots of skin bothers you, it’d be better for you to avoid it altogether.  That blog is especially important to me in regards to our coming daughter – her perspective on fitness, the perils of being overweight, and how our culture is becoming more and more insane in almost every dimension (but especially in regards to unhealthy choices), are all extremely important issues to us.  We want her to understand the lies behind “body-shaming,” and “fat acceptance,” and come into adulthood with a healthy and godly mindset that acknowledges what true fitness really is and looks like for women.

I want her to understand how hard it is to keep fit over the course of her lifetime, but also how rewarding it is for her to do so!  I want her to be compassionate toward others who are failing in this area of their lives, but also strong in her beliefs that being overweight is not “good” or “ok” for people, or even God’s best for them.

So every post there, is written in mind for her to read it in the future.

Read if you dare 😉

THE FIT YOU

Cleaning with Little Ones Around the House

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As a mom of two, it doesn’t surprise me that I often hear moms complain that it’s too difficult to keep a house clean with young children… I understand 😀  especially when you have little ones who delight in pulling all their clothes out of the drawers and playing with the clean laundry!

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But I discovered a post by a Grandmother, author and blogger, Mrs. Sharon White, titled Cleaning House with Baby, and fell in love with the wonderful way she embraces keeping her home, even with little ones to entertain!  I thought you might be encouraged in hearing her words as much as I was!

From Sharon:

It is certainly a challenge to keep house, when there are babies and small children around. But these are the loveliest times of all for the homemaker.

Babies often look on curiously at all the work we do in the home.  They are shocked by the noise from the blender, the vacuum, and the washing machine. 

One day last week, I was making a cake.  I had baby in the carriage.  He watched as I brought down the large mixing bowl (to his level), and used my electric hand-mixer to stir the cake batter. He loved it!

I have put him in the walker while vacuuming the carpet.  It is easy to play fun games with baby, when one is cleaning.  He enjoys seeing all the action going on at Grandmother’s house.

We garden together, hang clothes on the line, wash dishes, sing hymns, sweep floors, and wash the high-chair tray!  Well, I do all those things while baby watches.  (Much like when I am helping Mister with his stuff, He does all the work, while I stand nearby.)  It’s really the being together that is wonderful.

Part of playing with babies and children most certainly happens while we are living our normal, daily life.  We just bring the children along in our activities, making our work and our days delightful.

Blessings
Mrs. White

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Since we want to have more children, it’d be nuts for me to wait until they’re older to figure out how to keep the house cleaned and organized… here are some ideas that help us in our household to enjoy cleaning, but also enjoy playing together:

  • Use their messes they make in their playtime as an opportunity to teach them the proper way to clean up.  If they get all the clothes out, help them learn that it’s nice to put them back in the drawers.
  • Help them to remember to put away toys they have gotten out that they are no longer playing with.
  • One of the best things I’ve learned to do, is to spend about 15-30 minutes every evening just tidying up the entire living room area and game room.  Our oldest boy joins in with me and takes this time before dinner to put back all his toys he’s gotten out.  It’s great to get to relax in a calm, quiet living room after I’ve tucked them both in bed, instead of having to run around putting his toys back myself, or tripping over action figures and blocks.
  • One of my favorite things to do, and something my husband teases me about, is that I love to put on music when I clean, especially with the boys doing their own thing.  Our oldest smiles and dances with me, the baby smiles at us in the most delighted way, and claps his baby hands.  Music is the great mood-changer, and if you don’t necessarily like cleaning and organizing, at least you can do it with a great song in the background!

A Woman’s Attractiveness Reflects on Her Husband’s Appeal, Talent and Ability

steph in fall

I had one of the most interesting comments last week by Object of Contempt, wondering how keeping passionate love, romance, and a woman’s attractiveness alive and well in a marriage are intertwined with each other, and if they are at all supported in Scripture.  He admitted that most women don’t seem to have a problem with wanting to be attractive, but for the women who are extremely against it, are there any biblical passages that show it’s important to God?

His main question was how a woman would address another woman who is really determined to refuse to be attractive to her husband?  Would she need a certain approach to make it more palatable?

These are all really great questions, and this is a sensitive issue for many women, especially in our current day culture.

Let’s tackle the notion of attractiveness first:

Like I said in Men Need an Attractive Wife,

Most men really do value having a wife that is attractive.

It’s not shallow that they want to show you off, it’s not shallow that even just looking at you and knowing that you’re their’s makes them feel proud of you.

It’s just the way God designed the male nature.

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It is, in large part, a reflection on the man, what his wife looks like.

This is where the topic gets a little more serious.  When a woman takes care of her appearance and tries to look her best for her husband, she is helping her marriage to flourish by giving her husband respect.  Keeping herself attractive for him shows him how much she respects, honors, and admires him.  In other words, she wouldn’t dare let herself go because not only does she respect herself too much, but she knows her appearance reflects on who he is as a man and as her husband.

When a woman refuses to be and remain attractive to her husband in the way that he likes, when she gains weight after marriage or never loses her pregnancy weight, it is almost as if she is sending him the message that he deserves a woman who looks unattractive.  That he can’t or couldn’t do better.  When she refuses to be attractive to him, she is saying that she doesn’t care about his visual needs, that she disrespects the man that he is.

 

One of my favorite books, Becoming the Woman of His Dreams by Sharon Jaynes, describes this phenomenon quite well,

Paul reminds us, “Do you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)…

Have you ever noticed how a man who enjoys hunting likes to display his catch?  A great blue marlin is mounted over a mantel, a five-point deer head emerges from a wall, a stuffed greenhead mallard proudly tops a desk. All this is to say, “Hey, guys, look at what I caught. Eat your heart out.”

There’s nothing your husband would like more than to flaunt his attractive wife out in public.  He may not mount you on the wall (let’s hope not), but when he walks into a room with you at his side, he wants to say, “Hey, look what I caught.  She’s all mine.  Eat your heart out!”  I daresay, when you walked down the aisle on your wedding day, that’s exactly what he was thinking!

“When a man has an attractive wife, it says he has the appeal and talent that deserve someone of her caliber.

When a man’s wife let’s herself become unattractive, the message comes across loud and clear that he couldn’t get someone better and probably deserves her.  He has little to offer, the world decides, and he attracts little in return.”

The Bible reminds us that “man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).  The truth remains… man looks at the outward appearance.

Of course, I don’t think most women who let themselves become unattractive want to reflect badly on their husbands, or even understand that not trying to be attractive makes their husbands feel as if they don’t care about them.  Many times I believe women just think that men act and feel like women – that outer looks don’t matter to them as much as it truly often does.

But men (most men) are wired to like looking at a beautiful woman – and it makes them ecstatic if their wife is attractive to them!  They want their wives to make an effort to be attractive for all these reasons, and yes, Object of Contempt is right that it directly encourages passionate love and romance to flourish in a man’s heart toward his wife.

Object of Contempt rightly points out that a woman making an effort in her attractiveness is doing her part to maintain passionate love and even romance in their marriage:

I think, however, that it is part of the vows to do what you can to maintain passionate love. Being attractive is part of that. I also think it is possible to make yourself be in love with someone (having done it myself). There are limits, of course. Romance and passion are often dismissed in christian teaching about marriage, just like attractiveness and beauty are. I suspect this is partially the cause for the attractiveness issue.

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The second part of Object of Contempts question: How would a woman would address another woman who is really determined to refuse to be attractive to her husband?  Would she need a certain approach to make it more palatable?

Will be discussed in the next post!

Importance of Fathers – Sinister Feminist Article on “Deconstructing the Essential Father” vs. Scientific Evidence that Fathers Are in Fact Needed

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou’d think it’s obvious how important the role of a father is to his children, God designed us male and female on purpose, and equipped us beautifully for complementary and distinctive tasks.  This is not to say that men or women are individually better at parenting than their opposite sex – often times a mother needs to take over a typical “father-role” when he’s absent for long periods, and likewise fathers may have to take over the more traditional “mothering-role” if they become widowed, divorced, etc.  Those situations are not ideal, however, and most that have had to fill those roles (single parents especially) feel the burden and weight of missing their intended partner in parenting.  The two-parent system is in place, not just because of it being easier, but in my personal beliefs, because it’s as God intended it to be.

In 1999, there was an article in American Psychologist (a scholarly journal) titled, Deconstructing the Essential Father, of which the point was to attempt to discredit the belief that fathers are actually needed by their children in the role of parenting.  It’s mind-boggling to me that such a disturbing article was taken seriously enough to be included in an academic journal, however, with the rise of the wildly liberal feminist movement of the 70’s, lesbian/gay propaganda like this was actually very common, and has in part, led to the societal demise we endure today.

The problem is apparent when you look at it through the lens of equality.  No one – absolutely no one – would dare question the role of a mother to her children.  An article attempting to discredit the belief that mothers are needed would have world-wide criticism as being sexist and ridiculous (which it is).  It would even go against the very science and nature of biology.  However, anything can be written to attack fathers… if a feminist writes it.

Karla Mantilla, feminist author, has been quoted saying,

I am highly suspicious of the upsurge of praises of fatherhood and the necessity of kids to have a male role model.  I come by this suspicion after much experience with my own two kids and their male role model, their father … The propaganda that children, especially boys, need fathers I think, has contributed incalculably to the misery of children all over the world.  Contrary to all the pro-father rhetoric of late, to the extent that we value fathers precisely for their ‘discipline’ and ‘toughening up’ qualities, we create children (especially boys) who are less empathetic and caring.  If we want kinder, gentler (and less violent) adults, we need to focus on kinder gentler parenting.”

Ah yes, the all men are violent beasts kind of thinking.  Wouldn’t she be interested to know that the family set-up that produces the most criminals are, in fact, families where the father is absent (single mother families).

The Deconstructing Fathers article goes on to claim that divorce doesn’t irretrievably harm the majority of children – and that a child who has never known his father would not be the worse for it.
The general consensus of the article is that fathers are not needed – and they may actually make a family worse due to their maleness and the resources they consume.

In my undergrad I majored in biology with a heavy chemistry course-load, I learned and reviewed studies on brain development and behavior between the sexes.  One of the most fascinating things I studied was the researched biological affects of when a father is present or absent at the crucial time frame of an infant’s brain development.  Many studies had already been conducted to prove the importance of maternity leave and infant brain development, however, these were done to show that fathers (and paternity leave) were important as well.

When a father was present, it was found that the brain of the infant developed differently – in areas that remained stagnant when the father was absent.  Something about the male interaction and bonding with their infant stimulated connections that the mother being present didn’t.

An article in Scientific American (2010), which was looking at this particular phenomenon states, “Research shows that the father-child bond is crucial to a kid’s future success. If a father leaves his offspring to be raised solely by their mother, the children are more likely to suffer emotional troubles, be aggressive, experience addiction issues, or have run-ins with the law…. 

A recent wave of studies are starting to bear fruit: We are now learning that in the first few days after birth, changes occur in the brains of both the dad and the baby, depending on whether the father is around or not.

While it appears the seed of the father-child bond is planted by supplemental neurons in a new dad, it seems a child, on the other hand, may be born with a brain that expects this bond to form in the first place. 

To prove this, a few recent studies turned to a rodent that employs a remarkably familiar nest structure. Degu rats are biparental animals, which means parenting duties are split between the mothers and father. Degu fathers behave just like human fathers. They spend the early days of their pups’ lives helping with basic care, like warming and grooming. And as the pups get older, the degu fathers begin actively playing with their toddler offspring. 

Researchers reasoned that absent fathers in the degu nests would create a true social and emotional void for the offspring, just as a missing dad would impact the dynamic of a human family. They found that if a rodent father remained in the nest with his pups – presumably due to the newfound bond with his offspring – his babies’ brains developed normally. But if the father was removed from the nest shortly after the birth of his pups, his newborns’ brains started to break down at the level of synapses, which are short chemical junctions in the brain that allow brain cells to communicate with each other.

Specifically, the degu pups raised without fathers had fewer synapses in both the orbitofrontal cortex and the somatosensory cortex. Having fewer synapses can alter the way information is processed in the young animals, and would make these brain areas perform abnormally. 

The orbitofrontal cortex is a part of the prefrontal cortex that regulates decision-making, reward, and emotion. Extrapolating from the degu rat experiments, faulty synapses and processing problems in this locale may ultimately explain why we see some kids who grow up without a father in their life wrestle with (sometimes very serious) behavior problems.

These rat studies square with what we already know about the role of touch in neurological development. Having spent the prior weeks with the senses deprived while afloat in amniotic fluid, a newborn animal’s somatosensory cortex is ripe for change. But instead of flourishing in the early postnatal days, the synapses of the somatosensory cortex wither away when degus are raised without a father. As a consequence, the newborns may not process touch as well as they should, which could lead to a number of other developmental problems, like metabolism issues or irregularhormone production.

These animal studies show that a father’s brain is significantly and beautifully intertwined with his offspring’s. For whatever reasons, be they biological, evolutional, or societal, the onus of human parenthood has traditionally fallen on the mother. But the evidence is showing that a father has direct influence on his child’s neurodevelopment – and indeed, his brain can benefit as well.

What a beautiful article from Scientific American, and that ending is almost spiritual.  Juxtapose that next to what feminist Karla Mantilla said above, and you find that her claims (especially the claims that present fathers might make children (not just children… it’s always boys) more violent) are shown to be bull-shit.  These findings are proving the exact opposite, that present fathers contribute to gentler, kinder, more compassionate men for our society.  The noble men, and fearlessly strong in character leaders that our society truly needs.

More recent amazing findings are that the father’s brain changes also, it was seen that fathers gain a expansion of grey matter in areas that are associated with bonding and caring for their infant.  This separate study’s conclusion was,

‘These early father-infant interactions and emotional bonding become the basis of the father-infant attachment, The findings may thus lead to the identification of specific brain regions of potential importance for early father-infant attachment.’

With our oldest son.   Masculine strength & tenderness... so beautiful.

With our oldest son. Masculine strength & tenderness… so beautiful.

Pregnancy Comparison 1 & 2

Well, for you email followers I’m sorry you received an unfinished draft version of this post! Bare with me as I make my way through this time of newborn sleeploss 😉

I wanted to compare these two pregnancies mostly because of how they were so drastically different. I think the other post was getting too long and too caught up in details… so here goes a fresh new try.

Pregnancy 1 vs 2

As I’ve written about before, I didn’t feel ready to be a mother when I became pregnant with my first; women in their 20’s aren’t encouraged to get married and start creating their families yet. The pregnancy itself was overwhelming – the changes to my body and the emotions… the actual concept of a baby wasn’t a reality for me until maybe the final trimester.

This pregnancy was planned, but coming right after a miscarriage, it was hard for me to feel excited about it at first. I think I was afraid to actually want this baby for fear I’d lose it. But it ended up being a peaceful, sweet pregnancy with very little stress compared to our first. Health-wise I think this was a much healthier pregnancy. The first time, we ate quite a bit of fast food, I gained somewhere between 45 & 50 lbs. This time we mostly ate homecooked meals – very healthy and low in sodium and fat… I gained 24 lbs instead.

Losing the post partum weight took almost a year for pregnancy #1, but I’ve lost all the weight already for pregnancy #2 because of only gaining 24 lbs. I lost 22 lbs in the first 2 weeks post partum after pregnancy #1, so my body is basically doing the same thing this time, it just had a lot less to lose.

Everyone’s body is different, sometimes the weight just comes off slower – don’t worry about getting it off fast just focus on your newborn and workout once your body is ready. Even though I’ve lost the weight, my body needs to regain the loss muscle tone that allows me to wear my old jeans again – its amazing that muscle actually weighs the same but makes you tinier.

One thing that truly helps is wearing the compression underwear found at almost any maternity store. Its basic underwear with about 5 inches of firm elastic waistband made to compress your belly back in, and helps speedup fluid loss. There are other options that work the same like a belly band wrap that you wear for a month to 3 months daily under your clothes.

This experience was just so much better in so many ways… my first son came a month early due to what my dr contributed to the immense stress we under at that time. My baby spent 5 days in NICU, and we were shell-shocked trying to care and do whatever we could for him. The NICU was great, but seeing him with tubes and an IV was so hard. Baby#2’s birth was ridiculously easy, the hospital stay felt like a mini vacation at a hotel – I even got a massage!

Post partum Emotions

I guess it isn’t surprising I fell into a dark place of post partum depression the first time. With the circumstances surrounding my son’s birth, we also ended up trying to deal with angry in-laws who wanted to let us know they didn’t approve of our boundaries we were trying to set up after the first couple of months.

This time it surprised me how much happiness and bliss I feel post partum… its like realizing how it should’ve felt the first time. I’m actually able to enjoy my new baby instead of feeling a constant fear and dread that something could be wrong. Post partum depression is tricky – if you notice that you don’t feel strong feelIngs for your newborn, or immense fear or anxiety, get treated immediately so that you can recover as fast as possible! That kind of depression was so intense I remember not being able to really register the sunlight – I love sunlit but it was like it didn’t matter, it felt gray. I remember being able to appreciate sunlight again after being treated… if you suspect you have post partum depression, you MUST take care of yourself – it is so sad how it can rob you of the joy of having a new baby.

These two pregnancies just couldn’t have been more different, I’m grateful for the experiences so that I can understand more of what women go through. If you’ve had a birth or post partum experience you’d like to talk about please leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you.

Toxic People – How God Can Use Them & How You Can Deal With Them

omg poor dog - toxic peopleI read two articles recently on Forbes & Yahoo that explained how highly emotionally intelligent people deal with toxic persons in their life.  I’ve really messed up in this area by either trying to engage in communication with them, or confronting them on their unhealthy behaviors, when in reality, I should’ve been kind, but walked away sooner.

It’s amazing how God can use even nasty, difficult people to try to grow you in ways that nice, considerate people would never cause you to grow.  It’s ironic that we can learn some of our best lessons in dealing with truly mean, unhealthy people… because the nice “normal” human beings don’t dare push us that far.  He can use even our enemies to develop character in us that we wouldn’t have been capable of having if it hadn’t been for a “thorny” person (“thorny” is the word I’ve heard Beth Moore use in describing a person that’s difficult to love).

Thorny… you come away from dealing with them (or talking to them… even on the phone) looking like this:

omg poor dog - toxic people

It’s painful to deal with a “thorny” person.  They never seem to get it, nor do they seem to “care” about the real, researched affects they can have on you physically, your psyche, and even your spiritual well-being.

Maybe you’ve been this thorny person – I have 😦 … and the grief and pain I caused to other people was very real, no matter how I tried to explain it away or justify my actions.  I was undeniably wrong to make someone feel the way this poor dog must’ve felt above… it came from unhealthy behavior, and to try to justify or make excuses was truly arrogant of me.

If you realize you’ve been this person… this “thorny,” let me give you hope in that God can use that too!  Not only does He help the one hurt to develop more character in their trial, He can help you grow and mature if you realize and acknowledge what you were doing to others (& yourself).  Usually when people realize that they’ve been this “thorny” the first thing they want to do is apologize and try to engage in reconciliation.  Apologizing is beautiful, and forgiveness is wonderful, but don’t be surprised if the person you hurt doesn’t want to be close to you again.  It’s possible that you were too toxic and thorny to the degree that the other person feels a real necessity of getting you out of their life.  It honestly doesn’t matter if the relationship is solvable, the only thing that matters is for you yourself to grow and mature beyond it, to use it as a life lesson, to let God continue His work in you to become spiritually whole.

If you’re dealing with a toxic person…

(or have done so in the past), keep in mind that confronting them is probably not the best idea or plan of action. From what I read in the 2 articles mentioned before, and in my own experience, it usually never works to open their eyes to how they are hurting others (& ultimately themselves).  Continuing to try to talk with them them about their behavior will only exhaust and frustrate you, often tempting you to get angry and (like one article mentioned) act in a toxic way yourself.

The Yahoo article states that researches have found that,

“dealing with a toxic person causes your brain to have a massive stress response.”

A toxic person will often deny the stress they cause you to experience, saying that you’re just too sensitive, acting like a “victim,” or using your emotions in a manipulative way.  Ironically, hearing them say this will only cause you more stress!!  Isn’t it kind of comical – in a horrible sort of way??

The article further warned of the long-term damage to your brain that dealing with a toxic person in life could have if you don’t take the necessary measures to get them out of your life.  The Forbes article compared dealing with them to trying to set a mentally ill person on the street (who thinks they’re someone famous) “straight.”  You just wouldn’t take the time and effort to engage with a mentally ill stranger, and yet we always seem to expect toxic people to be mentally capable enough to understand reason, and be able to see the simple reality of the way they’re unbalanced or unhealthy.  The difference is obvious… it’s because we care about the toxic Thornies in our life, so it becomes valuable (or worth it) to try to make them comprehend.  They’re after all, in our life for a reason… they’re usually either a relative we need to keep relationship with, a coworker we need to be able to work effectively with, or a friend that we love, so it makes sense that we can exhaust ourselves in trying to get them to understand – however, the sad reality is that they usually never accept it, and often try to hurt us even more back.

Remember… they’re “thorny” for a reason.  They were thorny before you, and they will most likely stay thorny after you.

If you’re pregnant,

you need to be extra careful in how much time you decide to spend on engaging with a toxic person.  The fact that they’ve now proven that dealing with just one person like this in your life, causes your brain to have that massive stress response, can be not only damaging to you, but also to your child you’re carrying!  They’ve known for a long time now, that stress causes the hormone cortisol to be secreted, which affects the baby in womb (see article).

“In the later stages of pregnancy, extreme stress can lead to premature labour, premature birth and low birth-weight babies. The latest findings indicate that prenatal stress can also increase the risk of a baby being born with asthma or allergies.”  This article goes on to suggest pregnant women “Avoid people who irritate you.”

They’ve also recently been finding out that severe long-term stress in pregnancy is capable of causing enough to the baby’s brain to make them more likely to develop schizophrenia later in life.

There is simply no excuse to endanger the future health of your child by engaging with a toxic person.  They are usually too selfish to see the affects they cause, and will often insult you even more by turn it around on you (calling you manipulative, or saying you’re playing the role of a victim) if you even try to enlighten them with these facts.

My first pregnancy with my son was when we were under some pretty awful stress, we were both full-time students and were working in the apartment business as event or retention specialists for a woman who honestly wanted a couple with more time than we had to give.  The couple that filled our role before us was more able to spend more hours beyond the job because the wife was a stay at home mom.  The wife had tried to have a tiny side job, but realized that she needed to quit her side business in order to focus on the apartment job.  The woman tried to get another couple team (and had every right to – we honestly just weren’t what she wanted, and neither of us were willing to quit school so we could focus on this part-time job alone), and our manager managed to convince her to keep us.  But the continual stress of working under someone who really wanted more than we were able to give at that time, while trying to juggle upper level university classes, was very intense.

Our son ended up coming a month early, scarying everyone, and having to stay in NICU (Neo-natal intensive care unit) for 5 days.  Our doctor talked to us and believed that the stress I was under (physically and emotionally) could’ve been a major factor in why the baby came a month early.

This pregnancy has been so beautifully different.  I’m a stay at home mom, very content with our peaceful life, and while it isn’t that there is “no stress” (no mother of any amount of children is completely stress-free), and while my husband’s work schedule makes things a little harder at times, there is just no comparison to the amount of stress I was under with my first pregnancy.  My ob talked with me at the first pre-natal visit for this pregnancy, and I assured her that I was not under the same stress that I was with my first.  It is something I’ve learned to manage much better!

I’m relaxed most of the time, able to cook or bake anything my heart desires, in a peaceful house with beautiful calming music & access to around the clock air-conditioning, and fresh iced water (which to me, is like eating candy)!  I actually have time to make homemade treats with my son, go to our zoo or botanical gardens to relax out in nature.  We were just at the zoo with my mom this last Thursday, and my son was playing in their beautiful children’s outdoor play area.  My mom commented on how relaxing it was to just recline there … there was no time rush, no schedule … just simple beauty and serenity, and the benefits my son gets from experiencing that kind of outdoor play is immense!

There were school children there on a field trip, and they were so rushed, frantically trying to play a few seconds before their teachers told them to move on – none were allowed to get dirty in the sandbox, they didn’t get to have that same relaxed play my son was really enjoying.  This isn’t me trying to criticize, I understand field trips are stressful for teachers, and they absolutely need to stick to a strict schedule in trying to manage all those kids.  The difference is that going to the zoo to relax and play is normal for us – last year we went weekly – being a stay at home mom allows for you to make “field trips” that are mostly stress-free part of your daily week – indeed part of your life… and not something you feel must be crammed in and rushed.  When you’ve lived like this for while, you become accustomed to a peaceful, positive life surrounded by beauty that you actually have the time to really notice.

Pregnancy Update – Honesty About Motherhood, Abortion, & Conviction

29 weeks baby 2

30 weeks of pregnancy have flown by… I’ve finally started to experience the all-over body aches and pains of having a heavy & huge-feeling belly.  Whether I’m sitting or standing, riding in a car, or lying on a soft bed, everything seems to hurt (in an uncomfortable, dull-pain kind of way).  Every time I acknowledge the uncomfortableness, I try to thank God that these unpleasant symptoms waited this long to show up, and that it’s so close to being “over.”  Only 7 to 9 more weeks to go and we get to meet our new baby boy!

It’s amazing how different this pregnancy is from when I had my 4 year old!  We had been married for 3 years, but we were terrified at the prospect of actually being parents.  I had never been around babies (let alone infants), and had never even changed a diaper.  We were still in college (both of us!), and working part time jobs… how we’d be able to manage being good parents as well, was beyond us.  (Side note: We definitely read a few great books together in those months, we did what we always do as a couple, search out knowledge and wisdom of what works and what doesn’t).

My son was a surprise – one that I wrestled with in my own struggle to see myself as capable of being a competent mother.  I would look at our other married friends, most of whom were older, and compare myself to their having kids in their 30’s, I looked at my own mother, who didn’t have her first child (me) until she was 32 and had been married for 8 years – it was one of the only times I’ve actually felt envy (something I normally am not tempted by ever).  I envied their experience, maturity, and confidence in their parenting, and I viewed myself as “less than” because of my young age (23 throughout the pregnancy, and then 24 when he was an infant).

We were extremely short on resources and went to Planned Parenthood for a free official pregnancy test so that we could receive governmental aid (yes, we were that poor & that naïve/irresponsible in failing to plan effectively for a possible pregnancy).  The nurse was a woman probably in her 40’s, she looked nervous when she gave me the positive results – and asked me quickly if I wanted the baby.  If I didn’t the next step would be to plan for & schedule the abortion.  My own answer surprised myself, I had been tempted in the weeks before this appointment to consider abortion (but we went into this appointment knowing we would keep it).  When faced with this question directly, I was suddenly very sure I wanted this baby -studying biology in undergrad, I knew there was only “one chance” for this uniquely designed child – the same child would never come together in a masterpiece of DNA and personality ever again, in the whole universe.  The nurse let out an audible breath of relief perhaps, and looked happy for me – congratulating me on the confirmed pregnancy.

Did I want this baby?  Such a loaded question.  To be heartbreakingly honest with you, no I didn’t “want a baby”… it was most definitely not the right timing for us, and I didn’t feel like I had any business being someone’s mother that young when I still had so much to figure out about life for myself.  You might think that since I was married that it would somehow make a difference, but I know I’ve seen that married couples use abortion just the same when birth control fails and they aren’t “ready yet” or at the time of life or their careers that they had imagined themselves to be when ready for children.  It’s ignorant to assume that only un-wed teens use abortion to fix irresponsibility.  The sad and sobering fact is that many people use abortion even when married or in a stable financial relationship.

Unwanted… “a” baby was unwanted… but this baby, my baby, my first born & conceived child to be… yes!  I did want this baby.  It was in this transition of accepting this unborn child as a gift from God that gave me a renewed faith in the midst of my unethically-based, scientific studies I was immersed in during my undergrad.

This pregnancy is just so beautifully different.  I’m so different.  I know what kind of mother I am, my son is turning out amazing and wonderful, he knows he is “my treasure” and returns such a beautiful appreciative love back to me!  The family that we’ve created is just so beautiful.  My husband was always an amazing man, but he’s become more so with fatherhood – he is beyond comparison when it comes to leading us as a family – and setting a perfect example for my son to follow.  There’s a different atmosphere that we’ve created – the atmosphere of a beautiful family that is involved in not only our son’s life, but the lives of others that we reach out to in our community.  I’m no longer naïve and feel too young, I get to help and mentor teens that come to me with questions about sex and their high school relationships, and I understand how to actually help them.  I’ve experienced firsthand, God’s perfect ways, and He’s given me a confidence and compassionate heart to be able to mentor without judgment, but with assurance of what is right or wrong.  Teens are not looking for someone who will just passively listen to them, I’ve had girls ask me outright what the right thing to do is – they want solid answers from someone they can admire and trust – someone who’s life looks beautiful to them.  It’s sobering the kind of integrity of character I better have so that my life doesn’t hurt them in some way – we have IMMENSE responsibility as women who are nearing 30 and above – to live a righteous life for the ones who are watching us, that are younger and desperately needing examples to follow.  I am actively seeking out who God wants me to be, but I also appreciate who is the woman I’ve become throughout these years.  I’ve successfully managed our household, raised a child through their toddler and infancy stages, built a beautiful marriage most people would kill for, and have tried to learn from and admit my mistakes and personal failures in order to see God use them in a redemptive way.

I recently was misunderstood by a friend, and accused of being “set in my ways” because I have convictions in controversial topics, but the reality is that I’ve spent years now searching out truth and trying to discern what is right or wrong, we are called to “stand firm” in God’s truths – our children, our friends, spouses, family members, and people who look up to us need us to have strong convictions.  It doesn’t mean we have to be judgmental, in fact we are charged with needing to have mercy and tender gentleness, but mercy and tender gentleness does not equate with “weakness” of convictions or a lukewarm kind of wishy-washy faith that is ultimately useless as it gives no one direction when they view our lives looking for solid answers.

God calls us to be merciful, kind, loving men and women, but also to have “iron in our bones,” and to stand firm in our faith  – to admonish each other (warn each other), and help each other become who we are supposed to be (encourage each other in spiritual growth).

I’m excited in this stage of life, we’re so ready for this new baby boy, and can’t wait hold him and see the person he’s going to become.

Pregnant Mommy

pregnant

I’m delighted (and a little nauseous) to inform you readers that I’m pregnant again (between 11 & 12 weeks).  It’s been weird honestly, to be pregnant so soon after having a miscarriage; dealing with all the emotions of losing one, and then suddenly supposed to be elated only a few weeks afterward was a hard switch for me.  I was almost scared to be pregnant again, and it took a while for me to really want to acknowledge it to myself, in a way, like I was scared to actually want this baby.  But I’m glad to report that with the exhaustion and nausea slowly disappearing at this point, we are super happy.

The nausea has been amazingly awful LOL – with my son (who will be 4 years old this month – how did that happen???) I had nausea more in the second and third trimesters, but nothing like this 😉  This was pretty incredible, all-day-long morning sickness… coupled together nicely with extreme exhaustion.  I couldn’t seem to do anything, short of trying to eat, then vomit, or vomit for no reason, and sleep.  There was one day that I actually vomited 5 freaking times!!!!!  There was nothing left to get rid of – just stomach acid kept coming up (sorry!  So TMI)….

This baby packs a punch!

Anyway, so now that I can effectively pull myself off the couch, or bed, or um… toilet… I am stopping this break from blogging – I missed it so much 🙂

And now for pictures!!!!!!!!!

Baby at just around the time I lost the other one

Baby at just around the time I lost the other one (5-6 weeks).  It’s amazing to see how much the uterus has to grow – and how you can definitely see something in there in that short amount of time.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The baby between 9-10 weeks – look how radically different it looks!!! It wasn’t moving which of course, scared the crap out of me, but the Dr. said to wait a little longer, and we got to see it “wake up” and stretch, and move a little! So amazing that it just really is a little person being made in there.