Monday, May 13, 2013

Kids or No Kids?

I just came across a video posted by CBS News on whether couples should have children. They first featured the Duggar family and their 19 biological children, and then focused on two couples that have chosen to NOT have children. And, they interviewed a couple of authors who have written books on the "pros" of not having any children.

The video states that children cost too much. The question is asked, why pay over 1 million dollars (which I do not believe is at all accurate unless you buy every new product available) raising this child when in 15 years he will just turn around and state that he hates you? Well....who says parenting ends at age 15? Or even age 18? Yes, children are human and therefore they are born with a me-centered sin nature but they bring SO much more JOY! Also, it is a negative stereotype that many have bought in to in thinking that all teenagers hate their parents. I never once remember thinking that in all my life. When you raise your child in the Word of God and take the time to teach them to be courteous and mindful of others, instead of focusing only on themselves, I believe you will not encounter children who hate you.

They also hint at the fact that couples who have children are doing so for selfish reasons. Now, I will be the first to admit that I have a problem with taming the Selfish Beast, and I in NO way think that people who do not have kids are selfish....but I do question why aren't BOTH sides of the camp considered to be selfish...or even selfless? A woman who devotes her time to her career and education is selfless in her endeavors, while a woman who devotes her time to caring for her husband and the children God has entrusted to her is doing so for selfish reasons? In our twisted society this makes absolutely no sense.

More and more families are choosing not to have children. In fact, the video states that this will soon cause a major problem in our country. The average number of children per family used to be at 2.1. It has now dropped to 1.9 and is expected to drop lower. They say eventually the country will look like Florida: a lot of old people on Medicare and Social Security, and not enough young people to work/care for them.

And yet, people are concerned with overpopulation. People (non-Christians and Christians alike) find it odd when a couple chooses to have more than 1 or 2 children. And they are looked at as downright weird if they share that they are letting the Lord be sovereign over the size of their family.

Personally, this information saddened me. It is my desire to have a large family, and I pray every day that God would bless me with more children (and to be patient and wait on His perfect timing!). However, I also have PCOS and I know that my road to having a large family will be filled with a lot of tears, questions, and complete surrender to the Lord.

Yes, having children is difficult, especially in the early years. But, I wouldn't trade it for the world. I love each and every day I have with my son and I know that God is going to use him-and the rest of my children-in mighty ways!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Time Flies When You're Having Fun!

*I am writing this a couple days early (his birthday is April 25), because I know I won't have time to write it on his actual birthday....we'll be too busy celebrating!*

I can't believe it's already been one year. It's hard to imagine my loud, rambunctious, laughing pre-toddler was a tiny newborn at this time last year. I look back on this first year and wish I had a time machine so I could go back and relive those all again.

Like the day he was born, and I thought I had never seen a more perfect baby.

Or the day when he first rolled over (at 6 weeks!)

His first real smile...and he hasn't stopped smiling since!

His first tooth (actually, it was 2 at the same time at 4 months)

The first time he tried baby food (and the hilarious faces he would make!)

The first time he crawled, and seeing his excitement and curiosity expound.

The first time he stood up, and started "cruising"

The first time he said "Mama", and absolutely melted my heart! 

I can honestly say that this has been the best year of my life. I love being a Mama to Gunnar. He is such a happy, energetic, easy-going child, and parenting him has been a true joy. I can't wait to see what this next year has in store!

Happy First Birthday, Gunnar!

Love, Mama

Monday, March 18, 2013

We're Moving!

We're Moving!! In another week I will no longer have to carry groceries and a 23 (!) pound munchkin up 3 flights of stairs! In a week, I will finally have a REAL washer and dryer! And in a week, I will have a basement AND garage for even more storage space!

We are renting out the lower level of the duplex owned by our church. There are some cons to the place (which is to be expected with any sort of rental property) but definitely more pros, including:

1. Our landlord is our Pastor.
     Should a problem arise, we know that we can trust him to be fair and try to fix the problem in a timely manner.

2. Our upstairs "neighbors" are friends of ours and attend our church.
     This one is HUGE for me! As a young momma with no car the only interaction I get 6 days out of the week is (mostly) with my almost 11 month old son. I can't wait to be able to just walk upstairs any time I want to hang out or talk to someone! And, my friend can't wait to babysit Gunnar....I would not be surprised if she came down every day just to take him off my hands for a couple hours :)

3. Storage space!
     We have accumulated so much stuff over the 3 years we've been married! Honestly half of it we could probably just get rid of, but there's always that slight possibility you might need it, and therefore it gets shoved under the bed or in the back of a closet....well, no longer! We now will have an entire basement and garage for all of those "might need someday" materials.

4. Bigger Pantry
     The kitchen was one of the only cons (a lot smaller than the one we have now) with the exception of the large pantry. It's a lot deeper than the one we have now (plus we could always store canned goods in the basement!)

5. The chance to decorate!
     We have never painted before because up until this point we had always been in an apartment. We were told we could paint however we wanted, and it was so much fun picking out paint colors and dreaming about what the finished product would look like. My mom came up last weekend and the two of us cleaned the entire house (former tenant was a smoking bachelor with a big it took a lot of work!) and painted 3 of the 5 rooms! As of yesterday, the other 2 rooms were painted as well. We are planning on doing a couple of accent walls, but need a break from painting :) Maybe in a couple months....

And now I leave you with the "Before" pictures. In a couple weeks I will post the "After" pictures. Just so you know, here is what we have done so far....pulled up the carpet in the nursery, repainted every single room (all rooms are now a beige color called Vanilla Brandy, except for Gunnar's room. It is sky blue), and thoroughly cleaned every thing. Literally. Think cleaning blinds and wiping down baseboards. Now, we just have to move in the furniture next week!

 The family room...nice hardwood floors....not so nice decor/paint job! Stay tuned for the reveal of the "new" family room!
 Dining Room, with door leading to back porch. Again, stay tuned for the reveal of the new and improved Dining area!
 Pictures can not even begin to capture what an eyesore this was in the family room! So glad it's gone!
 View from the family room looking into the dining room. How many colors do you see? :)
 Master Bedroom...with the random junk the former tenant left for us to clean up!
 Another view of the master bedroom. Stay tuned for the new (painted!) version!
 Bathroom (with large sink and linen closet!) I am so excited to use the new black bear bathroom set I picked up in Gatlinburg a couple weeks ago!
 The Nursery...because Gunnar's room has the double closet I will be sharing with him. I don't think he'll mind :)
 Another view of the nursery. We have already torn up the carpet in this room, so we now have hardwood floors throughout the entire house. Also, both bedrooms have 2 windows.

 The Kitchen...again, stay tuned to see what it looks like now!

 The basement! Can you believe all this space?! The washer and dryer is also down here, although not pictured. This is a shared basement with our upstairs neighbors
 Bonus room in the basement. Joel is planning on turning this into a poker room
 We will have a 2 car garage! No more cleaning snow off the cars in the winter!
 Our back porch...can't wait to get some chairs out there and enjoy some warmer weather!
The New Place! We have a huge front yard and back yard! And, we are located right next door to the church! Because of that, Gunnar also has the entire church parking lot and the yard behind the church to play on! I am so glad, because he is one active little dude!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Am I Really Trusting God?

Over the past 18 months (and especially over the past 5 months) I have slowly forgotten why my husband and I committed to give God control of all areas of our lives, including family size. The past few days as I have begun my journey towards grief and restoration after a miscarriage He has reminded me of that once again.

18 months ago we didn't make a commitment of that magnitude to show off what good Christians we were.
We didn't do it just to annoy people. We didn't do it because we wanted to be made fun of, or have people tell us how "crazy" we were. We made that promise to God because we believe that He will always have our best interests in mind, and will never give us anything too big for us to handle.

Unfortunately, at the time I thought that meant that nothing bad would happen to us. At least nothing in terms of child birth and pregnancies. After all, we had given Him complete control and I assumed that gave us a kind of "free pass" from any hurt.

How wrong I was!

It's not that God wants to see me suffering, because I truly believe that He does Not. However, I think He needed to test me, to make sure that I would still be willing to trust Him even when life isn't going as planned. It's easy to trust God when everything is going the way you imagined it...but real trust comes when life isn't going the way you expected. From now on, I am choosing to Trust God, no matter what the circumstances might be.

This is a big, hard step to take, and I know I will fail at this many times before my life on this earth is over. But, with God, family and friends praying and interceding on my behalf I am confident that I may be able to overcome the lies of satan and continually put my whole trust in God. After all, He knows me better than anyone. He knows the desires of my heart better than I do, and He alone is the only one who already knows what triumphs and tragedies tomorrow will bring.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Mother's Grief Not Observed

Oh man, where to even begin? This past weekend has been a roller coaster ride of emotions as I am finally starting to deal with some heavy issues.

It really started 4 months ago, but I supressed my feelings until about a week ago. Last weekend I was sick. Bad. Headaches, vomiting, stomachaches, fatigue...then on Monday I started having some light spotting. I figured I was going to start my period and maybe that was why I had been feeling sick. Well, after an hour the spotting stopped altogether, and I didn't get my period. When I still didn't have it Tuesday, I thought for sure I was pregnant! I was still feeling tired and nauseous, and I remembered feeling that way with Gunnar as well. Fast forward to Saturday morning...and when I took the pregnancy test it was negative. From the moment I saw that negative test, to the moment I'm writing this, I have been a basket case of raw emotions.

The thing is, I have gotten a negative pregnancy test before, and I never freaked out like this. What made this time so different?

And, even though I would love to have more children, Gunnar is pretty active right now, and he's not even walking yet! Why can't I just be content with having just one child for the moment?

Why do I feel as though I NEED to get pregnant? As though my biological clock is ticking away and if I don't conceive in the next week I will never again carry a baby?

And, at the same time, why am I SCARED to conceive a baby?

I've spent the past two days crying over this. Wondering what is wrong with me, and why I would be having these kinds of emotions. I couldn't even pray about it, because I had no words. (Even now, I feel like my thoughts are just a jumbled mess, so excuse me if none of this is coherent). But, even when I had no words to describe how I was feeling...the Holy Spirit interceded for me and an answer came straight from God. In fact, it hit me hard.

I have not properly grieved the loss of the child I miscarried back in September.

In trying to be a "super Christian" I mistakenly believed the lie from Satan that if I grieved at all, it would be the same as not trusting in God's perfect timing. I never gave myself time to heal emotionally from it, because I mistakenly thought that would mean that I didn't trust that God had my best interest at heart. So, for months I have supressed those emotions, acted as if everything was going great, and ignoring the aching in my heart.

And now, I am a wreck. By not crying out to God and depending on Him to help me through this grief process the devil has gotten a foothold in my life. I lie awake in fear over getting pregnant and having another miscarriage. I lie awake in fear over NOT getting pregnant. I feel convinced that the miscarriage was my fault. I feel convinced that the reason I'm not pregnant right now is because I am a bad mother, and God does not want me to have any more children.

I know that all of those are lies from satan. Because I am NOT a bad mother. I WILL conceive a child again in the Lord's timing and carry it to term. I should NOT be afraid of getting pregnant (or not getting pregnant).

Now, I am starting the hard journey towards recovery and self-worth. And, to be honest, I don't even know where to begin. The past two days have been spent in tears, finally opening up to my loved ones and letting them pray for me. I don't know what I would do without my husband, mother, or best friend. I have felt the words of advice, wisdom, and prayers-both spoken and unspoken-so clearly.

I've also ordered a devotional for grieving mothers who have lost a child to miscarriage/stillborn. I am praying the Lord will use that to help me deal with my emotions.

I'm trying to write down my feelings, as a way to keep the emotions from bottling up inside me again.

And, at the request of my husband, we are going to ask our Pastor and his wife if they will meet with us for counseling. That is the hardest step for me, but I am praying that the words and advice of a Pastor will help me deal with some heavy heart issues.

I pray that with tie, and strength from God and family I will be able to properly deal with thse feelings, trust in God's plan once more, and kick the devil to the curb. Prayers are appreciated and welcomed, friends.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Gunnar's Birth Story

Well, it's taken 9 months, but I have finally written out Gunnar's birth story! I thought I would post it here for ya'll to read as well, because if you're like me you LOVE reading birth stories! :)
*Warning--it's long! But hey, I'm reliving the birth of my first child, what did you expect, the Cliff Note version?!

Gunnar's Birth Story: A Planned Home Birth with Hospital Transport

My due date, and my baby's birth date.
The OB gave me an estimated guess of the due date being some time between April 23-April 28. We went with April 23. He was born at 12:06 pm on April 25.

My baby's weight and length
7 pounds, 3 oz and 19 1/4 inches long

A synopsis of my birth
When I was around 16 weeks pregnant my husband and I started thinking about the kind of birth experience we wanted to have. We both started researching epidurals, c-section rates, and other medical interventions, and came to the conclusion that we wanted to have a natural child birth, believing that it is safest for both mother and baby. We were also both upset at the fact that there is a slim chance my OB would even be the one to deliver the baby. I could not understand why you would go through the process of finding the "right" dr, only to end up having a stranger deliver your baby. Add to these feelings the thoughts we both had about hospital interventions (although I do believe they are good at times!) and we soon found ourselves thinking of having a home birth!

A former colleague of mine had given birth at home, twice, so I contacted her for more information about her own experiences, and the name of her midwife. She told me how much she loved both of her births, how empowering it had been, and how easy recovery was. She also recommended her midwife to me, and when I was 20 weeks pregnant we had our first visit with her. My husband and I both clicked with Pam the first time we met her. She was open, friendly, and willing to sit with us for almost 3 hours to answer all of our home birthing questions. When we left her home office I told my husband that I wanted to give birth at home. He agreed 100%. We decided to continue seeing our OB, as well as having prenatal visits with the midwife, so that if we decided to change our minds and have a hospital birth the files would be up to date for the nurses and doctors there.

On April 24, I was discouraged that I had not yet started labor, and all I could think about was how much I wanted to meet my little boy! So, that morning I went over to my best friend's house and we went to the mall and walked around all morning talking, shopping, and eating. We thought all the walking would be a good way to induce labor naturally, but it ended up taking my mind off of it, and it was just a fun morning/afternoon with no worries :) But, it worked, because that evening around 8 pm I went in to labor!

I had my first "this is it" contraction around 8:00, and I told my husband I thought I was in labor and suggested we go get some sleep now, in case we were awake all night contracting. He went right to sleep, but of course I could not! I was too excited! I started timing every single contraction, and started practicing the breathing techniques from my Bradley method book, even though I really did not need to at that point. Then, around 11:30, I woke up my husband and told him that I was needing his help. The back pain I was experienceing was getting worse, and the contractions were getting closer together. We laid on the couch and watched episodes of Man vs. Wild while he rubbed my back and brought me food and drinks and tried to make me as comfortable as possible. After that, labor really started to progress, with the back pain being the worst. I didn't know what position to get in to to make it feel better, so I just continued my breathing exercises and tried to remember it would all be worth it :)

A little after 3:30 a.m. my husband left to go to a 24 hour convenience store to buy a heating pad, in hopes that it would help alleviate the back pain. At 4:00 a.m. I called my midwife and told her I had been in labor for 8 hours and was ready for her to come. She told me she would pack up her birth kit and be on her way. She lived 45 minutes from my house, so I knew there would be a wait. Pam arrived at 5:30, and I immediately asked her to check how far along I was. I was so relieved when she told me I was close to 6 centimeters! She also checked the heart beat and the position of the baby, and told me that he was posterior (face up), and that it explained why I was having the awful back pain. She gave me exercises to do to turn the baby, but at that point I was so tired, that I just could not do them. I remember thinking I didn't care if I had a posterior baby, I was not going to do the exercises!

After leaving me to labor in peace, she came back around 7:00 and asked to check the heart beat again. When she did, she told us that it sounded as if his heart rate was irregular. We listened to it on the doppler, and it would seem to speed up about every third beat. Pam told us that in all her years of home birthing she had never experienced it where a baby's heart beat had been perfect through the prenatal care, and then started beating irregularly during active labor. She left my husband and I alone to pray, and talk about what we wanted to do while she called her midwife associates to see if any of them had any similar stories. At 8:00 she came back to check the heart beat one more time. It was still beating in the same erratic pattern. She told us that she thought we should think about transporting to the hospital, but that ultimately it was our call. We decided to go.

To be honest, I was nervous about going to the hospital, but I knew that in our case a non-emergency transport was the best option for us. We packed a bag, and left for the hospital at 8:30. We arrived there a little after 9:00 a.m. on April 25. When I got there they checked me and found that I was 7 centimeters. Pam stayed with us the entire time, and advocated for me as my doula. I was asked several times if I wanted an epidural, and each time told them no. It was wonderful having Pam there, because she was able to really step in so that they would stop asking me if I wanted certain interventions.

A little after 11:30, I told the nurses "I have to push!" They were NOT happy about that, because the dr. wasn't there! The head nurse told me that no, I did not have to push because I wasn't fully dilated. I remember trying not to push, but at the same time I knew I had to. They got a dr. in there within minutes, and sure enough I was fully dilated and ready to push! It was wonderful having that experience of knowing exactly what my body was doing, and not having to rely on a machine or other people to tell me when to start pushing. I pushed for about 20 minutes, and at 12:06 pm Gunnar Joel was born! They immediately placed him on my chest for skin-to-skin contact, and I couldn't believe how perfect he looked! I let the nurses check him over almost right away, because we were concerned something was wrong with his heart. They said that everything was great, and he received a score of 9/10 on the apgar scale. The Dr (who supported my desire to birth naturally), said that she believes he probably did not like the contractions when I went in to active labor. We thanked God that nothing had been seriously wrong!

How I prepared for labor and birth
I read a lot of birth stories about home births and natural births through both books and articles online. My husband and I both read the Bradley Method books we bought, and, even though almost everyone said I was crazy for attempting a natural birth (most people did not know about the home birth), I really wanted to prove them wrong, and that initiated a drive in me to have an unmedicated birth.

What I liked about my birth experience
I LOVED laboring at home! I was free to do whatever I wanted. I could eat, sleep, drink, walk around, watch tv, take showers/baths...whatever I thought would help at the moment. It was so wonderful having just my husband there to take care of me.

What I did not like about my birth experience
The car ride! By that time I was close to 7 centimeters and had already been in labor for 12 hours. That was hands- down the WORST part of the entire labor :) 

What surprised me about contractions/labor
Because he was posterior, I was surprised that I really did not have any of the stomach cramping. I had some, but it was so mild in regards to the back labor. I was also surprised (and grateful!) that my labor did not stop or stall once we reached the hospital. I was afraid that it would, due to all the emotions I was feeling about having to transport.

What I would have done differently
I am definitely going to plan a home birth with my next child. And, looking back, there are a few things I would have done differently. I really believe that if I would have done them, we would have had the home birth we'd been praying for.

First, I would have hired a doula to come along side and offer education and support (both physically and emotionally) while I was in labor. My husband did a wonderful job for those 9 hours we were laboring alone, but there were times when I was scared, or had questions that he couldn't answer.

Secondly, I had in my mind that I did not want to be rude and call my midwife while she was sleeping...ridiculous! Looking back, I wish I would have called her sooner, just to have the assurance that she was there if I had any questions or concerns or needed any advice or encouragement. Next time, I will not try and wait until morning to call, but instead will call as soon as I think I need her.

Thirdly, I would have a birthing tub set up. I didn't do a lot of research on water births prior to that (talking about home birth seemed weird enough!) but after the birth I started doing research on it, and found that most women say it helped alleviate their contractions-especially those with posterior babies. I think a birthing tub would have helped me relax, and will definitely have one next time!

How it was different from what I imagined it would be
I think it's amazing how different both types of settings are. I really got to experience both a home birth and a hospital birth, and I have to say that I prefer the home birth! Pam was so gentle and talked in a calm, reassuring voice, while the nurses at the hospital tended to yell, or try to tell me what I could and could not do. I believe that they were just trying to help, but it was annoying at the same time. However, I was thankful for the dr on call (not my OB) who also advocated for me to have a natural birth. We really saw God's hand right there.

My recovery
The recovery was good, over all. I had second degree tearing that needed stitched up, but other than that I felt great. We were discharged the following morning, and on a scale of 1 to 10 I was at an 8. I only took pain medication twice while at the hospital, and did not take it once I got home. It was wonderful being so in tune with what was going on, and not feeling sleepy or drugged or out of it after the birth. Family, friends, and even the hospital staff couldn't believe how little the pain was.

I am also grateful that my first birth was posterior, because it showed me that if I can have a natural birth in one of the most difficult ways, then I can definitely do it with an anterior positioned baby! Unless a c-section is in order to save my life or the baby's, I will not be having an epidural.

I would recommend a natural birth to any one considering one. I love the fact that I trusted my body-and my God-to do exactly what God had created my body to do. I know it is not for everyone, and I respect that completely, but for me it was one of the best decisions I could have made. Yes, it hurt, but it was so worth it in the end and looking back, I love that I experienced birth the way God designed it!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

He's Up!

Well, Gunnar has officially mastered a new skill-standing! He is literally pulling up on every piece of furniture in the house. Chairs, couches, cribs, tubs, doesn't matter what it is, he will try to use it to stand up. It's so cute when he does stand up, because he gets this super excited look on his face; you can tell he's really proud of himself!

He has not started "couch surfing" yet, and to be honest I'm glad. I love watching him learn new skills, but at the same time I feel as though he is growing up too fast! And, it's exhausting enough keeping up with him crawling...I don't want to rush him in to walking, too!