4 Reasons to Include Plants in Your Birth Space

February 14, 2018 at 3:57 pm

 

Today I am 28 weeks pregnant, and lately I’ve been spending a lot of time preparing for my birth. The plan is to give birth in my bedroom, so I’m working to make that space feel peaceful, comfortable, and visually uplifting and appealing. This isn’t something I have ever really done before, despite having given birth five times previously. Two of those births were at home, but I didn’t prepare my birth space beyond trying to keep it tidy. I’m not exactly sure why I’m so motivated to sanctify my birth space this time around. Perhaps it’s because this could be the last time, and I want to make it as special as possible?

Poems for the Empty Womb in my Future

January 29, 2018 at 2:35 pm

Tomorrow I will be 26 weeks, right on the cusp of the third trimester. Yesterday I realized that, if this baby comes at 38 weeks like my last one, I only have twelve weeks left to prepare. I also realized that those fleeting weeks are all the time I have left to cradle this baby within my body, to fulfill all of my child’s needs effortlessly, to feel his tiny body slide and turn and nudge, to have a oneness with another soul unlike anything else on earth. This could very well be the last time. The thought fills me with both a sense of closure and gratitude as well as a crushing, devastating grief.

Six years ago, we published The Gift of Giving Life. One of the stories we included was from a woman born in the mid-fifties, during the nightmarish “twilight sleep” era. She watched birth transform over the decades. Her mother was a nurse, and she became a nurse herself, spending years attending women in childbirth as well as birthing her own babies. I’ve always loved this passage from her story:

I had the privilege of bearing nine children, which to many seems like a lot. But to me that is only a few precious times to experience such a glorious thing as birth. If a person likes to ski, it would not seem excessive to ski a dozen or more times in their life. Most women are able to experience birth just a very few times; all the more reason to be careful about creating the best birth possible (Velinda Mitchell, p. 46).

Hope’s Backstory

January 15, 2018 at 3:16 pm

For two years I’ve thought about writing this post. For two years I haven’t felt ready to do it. I suppose, like Mary, I have “kept all these things and pondered them in my heart.” Today I feel ready.

 

This morning, I awoke as I usually do, with a wiggly blonde toddler named Hope next to me, her still-drowsy voice piercing my sleep, “Mommy… Mommy…” She slid her body on top of mine, no small feat with my growing 24-week-pregnant belly. I gently moved her to my other side, her head nestled in the crook of my arm, pulled her close, and kissed her nose. While I looked at her face, her cheeks still round with lingering baby fat, she scratched at something on her chin. I kissed her cheek. She smiled. In my mind, I silently but feelingly prayed:

Thank you, God, for sending her to me. Thank you. Thank you.

The Teen Anxiety Epidemic: Possible Perinatal Factors

December 13, 2017 at 1:22 pm

 

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Lately I’ve seen a lot of press about the anxiety epidemic among adolescents. It always piques my interest because I have experienced severe anxiety and depression, and I’m especially interested in helping others who struggle with these horrific challenges. Here’s a small sampling of the headlines:

It’s all very troubling to me, and it hits close to home as well. Most of the teen and young adult nieces and nephews on my side of the family are struggling with mental health issues, primarily anxiety and depression. My own teen daughter and several of her friends struggle with anxiety. It’s becoming so common that I’m almost surprised when I find a teen who isn’t anxious or depressed. How did we get to this place?!

Our Progenity Test Results

October 30, 2017 at 6:28 pm

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When we found out my 5th baby was a girl, I couldn’t contain the tears. Grief bubbled up from the depths of my heart and oozed in salty trickles down my face. As soon as I was able, I retreated to my bedroom and sobbed. Wailed. The force of my grief stunned me.  But it was raw, and it was real.

At the time, my six-year-old son asked, “Why are you crying, Mom?” The jumble inside of me felt so complex that I had no words that could adequately do it justice, but my attempt to give him the decency of a response came out: “Because I wanted to meet Elijah.”

Will My Baby Have Down Syndrome?

October 23, 2017 at 5:28 pm

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I was lying in bed one morning with my eyes closed. It was a couple of months ago, but I can’t remember if I knew I was pregnant yet. Somewhere in that place between sleep and waking, I saw the face of a child with Down syndrome. When I fully awoke a few moments later, I felt a torrent of thoughts and questions about that image enter my mind. Was it a spiritual message? Would I be giving birth to a child with Down syndrome? Or was it just a random flash of a meaningless dream?

The Things We Will Never Do

September 26, 2017 at 9:55 pm

In my nearly 37 years on this lovely planet, I have said a lot of things with certainty. Things like…

  • I won’t get married before I finish college.
  • I’ll never vote republican.
  • I wouldn’t buy an American-made vehicle.
  • I’d never move to Arizona.
  • I’m not one of those people who would take an anti-depressant.
  • I wouldn’t give birth at home.
  • I definitely won’t homeschool my kids.
  • I’ll never own an SUV.

This is just a sampling of the things I would never do. But I will soon have done all of them.

I say soon because we’ve technically never owned an SUV, but we’re in the market for a bigger people-mover. We take road trips every year, and we’re tired of packing every inch of our minivan with stuff, leaving virtually zero leg room for the seven of us. For the past week or so I’ve been exploring our options, and at the moment the ones that seem most do-able, affordable, and practical are giant SUVs. Sigh. I totally used to judge people who drove giant SUVs. The Chevy Suburban is my current top pick.

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The Empty Swing

September 8, 2017 at 10:34 am

Sometimes you just need another witness. Another voice saying, “Yes, this is true. You’re not crazy.”

Today I’m deeply grateful to my friend Amber for giving me another witness.

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For six years I have known about a little boy who has communicated in a multitude of ways that he is a part of our family, though not yet in the flesh. Just to give you a little more background, let me share a few of the experiences I have had with him.

Thoughts on Unschooling

September 3, 2017 at 9:09 pm

I spent several days this weekend listening to speakers and chatting with other moms at the Free to Be Unschooling Conference here in Phoenix at a really beautiful hotel.

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I attended the conference because I got a discounted rate through being part of the Arizona Homeschool Theater Group and because I’ve been interested in learning more about unschooling ever since I started homeschooling a few years ago. My objective was to try to figure out if unschooling was something that would be a good fit for our family. I have loved reading a lot of John Holt’s writings, and he is the one who sort of started the unschooling movement. I attended with a friend and her sister, so we spent a lot of time talking and processing everything throughout the conference. Below you’ll find some of my thoughts about the conference and the things I learned about unschooling.

When Someone is Missing

August 25, 2017 at 11:08 pm

My husband really dislikes the dreaded words that I sometimes say:

“I keep looking around for the other kid.”

He usually promptly responds with something like, “They’re all here.”

Sometimes it feels like there really is an invisible child among us, but when I turn to include the other kid in my head count, no one is there… at least no one I can see with my physical eyes. Occasionally, I even get a bit panicked in that split second between looking for the missing kid and realizing… no, I really only have five. After I gave birth to my 5th baby, the feeling mostly went away. The “invisible other kid” wasn’t around so much. But for the past couple of weeks, the feeling has been almost constant. It’s actually becoming kind of oppressive.

Invisible child

Splitting the Sky

June 4, 2017 at 10:18 pm

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Two summers ago, my wonderful friend Amber asked if she could interview me for a project she was working on. At the time I was on vacation, visiting my family for the summer, and I was newly pregnant with my 5th baby. Amber and Camlyn came to my dad’s house and set up their cameras and sound equipment. They asked me excellent questions, and I did a lot of crying in front of the camera. Ha.

Mommy Python and the Holy Fail

May 2, 2017 at 7:17 pm

A few nights ago we broke out Monty Python and the Holy Grail because… do you really need a reason?  I spend a lot of time driving on Mondays and Tuesdays with my kids’ various homeschool groups and classes. Today, on my way to pick up my 13-year-old from her Junior High co-op, my brain decided it would be fun to think of all the ways being the mother of a toddler is like being in MPATHG. Let’s be honest… most days with a toddler feel like one giant holy-mommy-fail after another, amiright?

 

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For the Days You Want to Quit

April 6, 2017 at 1:14 am

My third child and only son celebrated his 8th birthday this past weekend. I will never forget the first hours of his life. He was born late in the evening, so it was “bedtime,” but I couldn’t sleep. All I could do was stare at him, absolutely, totally, and madly in love. I was on that birth high for nearly a year, totally smitten by this baby boy I called Mister Bubbagoo.

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That chubby face still makes my heart melt.

Baby Carrier Giveaway

March 22, 2017 at 5:30 pm

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Whenever I’m at Goodwill, I like to check for baby carriers. Several times I have scored pouch slings, ring slings, and soft-structure carriers. A couple of weeks ago, I managed to snag two mei tai carriers 50% off. Because I love sharing the baby wearing love, I’d like to give away one of these baby carriers to one of my blog readers!

Nursing Too Much for Comfort?

March 6, 2017 at 7:03 pm

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About a year ago, I purchased and read Tears and Tantrums: What to Do When Babies and Children Cry by Aletha Solter, PhD. It was a helpful little book during a difficult fussy period with my fifth baby. Ever since I finished the book, I have thought periodically (and especially in the past couple of months) about one particular issue raised by Dr. Solter:  breastfeeding as a “control pattern.”

Before I go any further, I want to explain what Dr. Solter means by “control pattern.” While Dr. Solter believes babies should never be left to cry alone, she is a strong proponent of letting babies (and children and adults) cry often as a means of releasing stress and expressing strong emotions. This should only be done in the arms of a loving caregiver and only after all apparent needs have been met (ensuring that the child is not hungry, cold, in need of a diaper change, etc.). I found this particular quote to be spot-on:

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