So, Someone You Know Is Pregnant…

LexmarkAIOScan7

So, someone you know or just met is having a baby or just had a baby. Here on some tips to keep them from possibly harming you from saying or doing the exact wrong thing.

My editor (The Pastor) has insisted I put up some disclaimers to avoid hurt feelings- yours and mine.

**Disclaimer #1- I am not pregnant. Don’t ask someone if they are pregnant. If they want to tell you, that is their news to share. Never ask a woman if she is pregnant. Seriously. I have two shirts I can no longer wear in public because some punk asked when I was due while wearing them. I don’t have enough clothing options to keep this up. That is an old ultrasound pic. If you clicked over here expecting some big news, sorry to disappoint you. ZERO ANNOUNCEMENTS are going on over here. None. Kind of like the time I posted a picture of my dishwasher with little flour handprints on it and everyone thought it was an ultrasound picture because I added the caption “proof of little life around here” and I meant, proof a toddler and preschooler were being punks in the kitchen with some flour, but so many people same multiple fetuses in that picture. This is like that photo. Not an announcement. **

**Disclaimer #2- Do not ask us if we are having more kids. We’re kind of still working on the adding of the sixth kid. I don’t want to think about it right now, and I don’t have to. And really, you don’t want details. You don’t need them. There are words like amenorrhea in there, so just don’t ask. It gets too personal really quickly.**

**Disclaimer #3- Some of these things have personally happened to me. Most are things I have picked up from being around lots and lots of growing families and hearing their issues. Take no personal offense. I would have told you if you personally offended me or annoyed me. You’d know. If you don’t know, it is because you didn’t.**

**Disclaimer #4- I probably left some things out. I have only had six kids, there may be some more tips people need to know that I haven’t come across yet. You can add your own tips in the comments. Just keep your language clean so the editor doesn’t delete them.**

20 weeks 2 days

Now, tips when someone you know is pregnant!

Tip #1- Their pregnancy and anything pregnancy or baby related is theirs to share. DO NOT share a pregnancy on Facebook unless it is your own. Seriously. Can I tell you how many people I got to tell I was expecting my first baby? Um. One. Seriously. I got to tell my husband. Things just exploded from there. While your enthusiasm is a welcome thing, let new parents share their own news.

Same for when the baby is born. If you look at their Facebook page and they haven’t posted about the new baby yet, don’t post it. Let them post it when they are ready. Same for e-mails. Definitely DO NOT send e-mails to everyone about the birth of a baby unless you have express permission from the new parents.

If you share news that isn’t yours, pretty soon people realize this and you’ll be the last to be told anything, much like the four year old they know cannot keep their mouth shut. They’ll just avoid telling you. Do you really want to be at the end of the list?

Tip #2- The only response to “We’re having a baby!” is congratulations or some form of that. Either muster up some good will, or say nothing. “Are you done now?” “Are you the Duggars?” “But it is too soon!” “But you’re not done with college.” “Will this be your last?” “But you already have a baby!” “Oh my God, I would kill myself.” (Yeah, that really happened. The Pastor almost got that cashier fired.) None of those are appropriate. Either be happy for them or remove yourself from the situation. No one needs negativity during this time. Newly expectant parents have enough on their mind- they just need support. Period.

Tip #3-  No name bashing. I don’t care if they name their kid after Hefty trash bags- either say something nice or keep it to yourself. I don’t care if you think the kid should be little Frank. They don’t care either. All you get when you are negative about their name choice is no heads up on the name next time. Seriously. They just won’t tell you in the future.

Here on some response you can use: “How do you spell that? I want to make sure we embroider it correctly.” “That is a cool name, where did you come up with it.” “That is a nice name, does it have a special meaning.” “I like that name.” “That name will certainly stand out on his college application!” “Are you 100% set? I have a set of bibs to monogram immediately!” “[Repeat name]. That has such a nice ring to it.” “Woohoo! I am [name]’s Auntie!” “Unusual. But I like it.”

If you can’t find something nice to say, tell someone else about it. Really. Do not under any circumstance tell either parent. Tell your neighbor, cashier at the store, online support group, anyone BUT the parents to be.

Tip #4- Never comment on a pregnant woman’s size. Just don’t do it. She’ll be told by one bystander she is huge, immediately causing her to freak out about gestational diabetes. The next person will tell her she is small, causing her to stress over intrauterine growth restriction.

Tell her she looks cute. Tell her she is glowing. Tell her pregnancy suites her. Tell her you miss your own baby belly. Tell her she is radiant. Tell her she is a beautiful picture of motherhood. Tell her how awesome her bump is.

Tip #5- On a related note, once the baby is born, make no comments about the baby’s size! She’ll freak out that she isn’t making enough milk or that the baby will be obese for life or he’ll be labeled as failure to thrive. New moms have enough worry. Don’t add to it.

“He’s healthy!” “I forgot how tiny newborns are!” “Look at all those sweet rolls!” “He is growing really well!” “She is beautiful!” All of these are appropriate. Just avoid implying the baby is too big or too small, even if you are just “observing”. She’ll freak out. It is what Mom’s do.

Tip #6- New Parents will not tell you this, but what they really need is money. Really. I know you want to buy something baby, and that is cool and awesome. But think of all the ridiculous expenses pregnancies and new babies bring. You want to buy 15 hair bows, but they really need breast pads and lanolin, which make an awkward gift. They really need money for the poise pads, hemorrhoid cream, and take out food post birth. But they can’t tell you that. They can’t tell you they don’t need another bath set for the baby, they really need to pay their insurance deductible. They really don’t need five sets of tiny nail clippers and 20 pacis the baby will refuse to take because they decide that one obscure paci you found in that one random shop one time is the only one for them. They need a pregnancy support pillow, V2 support belt,  and prenatal massage to make those last days more comfortable.

It doesn’t really help to ask what they need. No one wants to name a high dollar item when you’re looking to spend ten bucks. No one wants to tell you something ridiculously specific. So, they usually just say “nothing”. Or they point you to the registry they know you’ll ignore. Because telling people what you need it hard.

Tip #7- Don’t offer your advice. I know you think you’re just the most awesome at everything, but they’ll be making their own way. It isn’t personal. You know you didn’t do everything exactly like your mom, aunt, second cousin, neighbor, or stranger at the store either. If they don’t ask you about teething remedies, don’t give them. I don’t go around sharing advice on how to deal with head wounds unsolicited. Don’t go and give your baby advice unsolicited.

Tip #8- Avoid asking about their reproductive future. This couple is just wrapping their heads around THIS kid and you’re already asking about the future ones that they haven’t even thought of yet. It really isn’t your business, so just don’t ask them. I know you’re dying to know when little Hefty will be getting a sister, but don’t ask. DO NOT ASK. It’s awkward and weird and they’re already overwhelmed and now Uncle Bobby is asking about their sex life. Don’t ask. Not your business. Again. Not your business. People usually only want to talk about such things with their spouses or BFFs. That’s about the end of the list. So, I know you’re curious, but don’t ask.

Tip #9- Don’t assume anything. If the mom to be has not said she is breastfeeding, don’t assume she is. If she hasn’t mentioned an epidural, don’t assume she’s getting one. You can safely assume that if she hasn’t brought it up with you she doesn’t want to talk to you about it.

Tip #10- Don’t ask personal medical questions. If the expectant couple has something to share, they will share it. Don’t ask about dilation (some of us don’t have that checked ever *gasp*). Don’t ask about the results from the trisomy screening. Don’t ask how much weight they’ve gained, what their blood pressure is, if they’ve had bloody show, if they’re leaking colostrum- if they don’t tell you, they likely don’t want you to know. It is sometimes hard to remember that in pregnancy, all these things are still personal medical questions. We don’t go asking people about their thyroid levels or menopausal status, so let’s keep it down with the pregnant medical stuff, too.

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Tip #11- I know I said “Don’t assume anything” but, assume you are NOT invited to the delivery room unless you are asked to be there. Don’t ask to be included. It just makes it awkward for everyone. Some people may not mind, but there are very few who feel comfortable telling family or friends to get out. (I happen to be one who will absolutely tell my family and friends when I need them out of my space, but I appear to be abnormal in that way.) It is weird and presumptive to ask to be there. They get that you are excited. I’m excited that you’re excited. But let them decide when and how they want you present.

The same is true for ultrasounds and doctor/midwife visits. They may want to share that with you. If they do, they’ll invite you. Don’t ask to tag along. It puts them in a really awkward spot. And really, do you want to be there if you aren’t really welcome? Let them ask you. Or not.

Tip #12- Don’t take it personally. When the new parents want some time alone with their infant, it isn’t about you, it is about them. When they don’t want you visiting immediately after birth, it isn’t about you, it is about them. When they don’t want to let you hold the baby immediately, it isn’t about you, it is about them. Their name choice isn’t about you. Their diaper choice isn’t about you. Let it go and just go with their flow. Everyone will be happier.

Tip #13- Don’t forget Dad. This is a big time in his life, too. He’s part of this. A big part. Don’t assume he is ignorant. Don’t assume this is all about mom and baby. Don’t assume he is stress free. Many Dads find that they are extremely stressed during pregnancy. They have their own brand of worries. Will their partner be okay? Will they be able to provide for their family? Will the baby have their unfortunate ears? Will the family finances be okay? How on earth are they going to pay for that crib? And the mattress isn’t included?! Dads worry, too. And they dream in their own way. And they are just as stressed and sleep deprived as Moms. So keep them in mind, too. And definitely don’t try to elbow them out or imply you can be better support. Dads are invaluable.

Tip #14- Holding the baby isn’t helping. There are a million things that need to be done. Super shame on you if your solution is to hold the baby while the woman who just pushed that cute little bundle of joy out takes care of the household chores. Laundry still needs to be done. Groceries still need to be purchased. Bathrooms need scrubbing (and remember she’s been super pregnant so that has probably gone undone for a long time). Dinner needs to be on the table at some point. The grubby 4 year old could use some outside time. Don’t ask “What can I do?” You know what you can do. Just roll in and do it.

At the same time, don’t be offended if they just don’t need the help you want to give. You may want to take the kids to the park, but that just stresses the new parents out thinking about swapping car seats around, so they say no. Or you want to bring them dinner, but they have such strict dietary guidelines, they really can’t explain to you what would be okay to bring. Accept it. You offered. They are grateful you offered. If you can help in some other way, cool. If not, that is okay too. Some people may not want you touching their bloody laundry or grocery shopping for them. It is okay. Again, not personal.

Tip #15- Don’t ask if this baby was planned. Really, what you’re asking is really awkward. Did they have sex knowing she was fertile? You really want a discussion about fertile cervical mucous or basal body temp testing? Do you really want to hear about her cycles and how regular or irregular they are? Along the same lines, avoid asking if the baby was conceived “naturally”. Babies are conceived, just go with it. Don’t ask about fertility treatments or drugs or herbs or anything of that sort. The fact is, if you were close enough to ask about such things, then you are close enough that you wouldn’t need to ask because they would tell you.

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Tip #16- Don’t ask about birth plans. This is such a charged topic and such an emotional one for so many women. If they had a c-section before, you can’t assume they’ll have another or assume they’ll have a VBAC. They may be wrapping their head around their options and they really don’t need more pressure from you. If they want to talk to you about the pros and cons of home birth, they will. But unless they bring it up, assume they’ve got things covered.

Tip #17- Don’t ask how they are paying for things unless you are willing to pick up the tab. Not everyone has insurance. It happens. Not everyone has the same priorities as you. Don’t imply they are irresponsible because they don’t have a college saving account already set up. Don’t imply they aren’t responsible because they don’t have the means to pay their insurance deductible the minute the stick showed two lines. Home births are often completely out of pocket with or without insurance, don’t judge them because they can’t just easily throw down whatever that might cost (usually around $3000-$5000, if you’re curious). Unless you are wanting to help financially, don’t ask. Even if you are wanting to help, just ask how much or give without asking. Imagine if someone came into your house and judged every single thing you spent money on this month. Not helpful. Big life changes don’t need financial judgement or commentary. Be helpful or be quiet.

Tip #18- Don’t harass them for information they don’t want to give. If they don’t want to tell the name until birth, they can do that. If they don’t want to find out the gender before birth, they can do that. If they want to find out and just not tell you, they can do that. Harassing them to tell you only makes them want to tell you less. Let them do this their way.

Tip #19- Don’t share horror stories. Seriously. A pregnant woman or her spouse do not need to hear about your Uncle’s third cousin’s fourth degree tear that required extensive corrective surgery. They don’t need to know about your friend’s mother-in-law’s baby who was born with eight toes. They don’t need to hear about your neighbor who had a surprise twin at birth in the 60s. They don’t need to hear about that woman who had a 15 lb. baby. Really, they have enough stress and worry without the horror stories. Even if it seems mild, like you had ridiculously bad hemorrhoids with your third kid that still haven’t gone away 30 years later- they don’t need to know. Keep things positive. Keep encouraging. Don’t be the black cloud and the rain.

Tip #20- Don’t hijack their happiness. This isn’t a competition. You don’t have to share how exciting your pregnancy was to share the joy of their pregnancy. You don’t have to brag extensively about your all natural dolphin assisted lotus birth. Their birth is theirs. Their pregnancy is about them. You don’t have to one-up everything or use every moment as an opportunity to tell them how awesome your experience was. I don’t respond to people’s pregnancy announcements with, “Congrats! I’ve had six pregnancies myself and they were awesome and I am an awesome pregnant woman.” I don’t tell people how old I am on their birthday. I don’t show people my shoes when they have on new ones. Let their pregnancy and birth and new baby experience be theirs. The sun can shine in two places at once.

(I’m not talking about having actual conversations with people. I am talking about those people who seriously turn everything into something about them. You know a one-upper when you have to deal with them, am I right?)

Tip #21- Do not ask “How are you feeling?” every single time you talk to them. Really, it gets old. And most people don’t even want a real answer. They don’t want to know about the varicose veins, unending nausea, pressure on your bladder, horrible hip pain, constipation you cannot even fathom is possible. They want to appear caring, and I think it is awesome that they care. But “How are you feeling?” is such a loaded question when you are pregnant. And it is downright annoying when you ask in *that* tone. (You know the one. That patronizing sing-songy one.) Unless you really want to know how a pregnant woman feels, don’t ask.

Instead of asking how they are feeling, greet them as you would if they were not expecting. Tell her you’ve been praying for her (if you have). If you must ask something pregnancy related, ask about whatever milestone just passed or ask about whatever they have mentioned to you in the past. Or say, “You look radiant.” Always tell a pregnant woman she looks radiant. Or give her a cookie. You can never go wrong with either of those. “How are you feeling?” is acceptable once in a while, if it is a legitimate question. Just don’t let that be all you ever say. And don’t use *that* tone. But be prepared! Pregnancy isn’t always pretty.

Tip #22- Newborns look like newborns. Do not tell a woman who just had a baby that her precious little bundle looks exactly like your Uncle Irving. You know that baby looks like every other baby born. They look like newborns. Squishy-faced, discolored, newborns. She doesn’t want to hear the baby looks like her father-in-law. She doesn’t want to hear the baby looks like cousin Larry’s new baby. The baby looks like a baby. You don’t have to immediately start playing the “who’s genes are stronger” game. Really. No need. Especially DO NOT tell them the baby looks nothing like them, mother or father. Never tell a parent that, newborn or not.

Tip #23- Do not tell a pregnant woman that her baby will be too big to come out. In addition to not telling her that her belly is huge, never tell her the baby IN her belly is huge. That baby has to come out. And she’s already wrapping her head around that seemingly impossible process. Don’t imply the child is massive. Who would that help? (When I was in labor with Pippin, my L&D nurse told me numerous times that my baby was huge. It was very, very unhelpful. I told her many times he was not huge. She just kept on. It didn’t help. And she was wrong. So, a jerk and a wrong jerk. Even if she had been right, she’d still be a jerk.) Don’t be a jerk.

Also don’t imply the baby is too small. Unless you are her chosen medical professional qualified to make such an assessment, you’ll just cause stress. Babies come in a variety of sizes.

Tip #24-  Don’t be pushy with your own agenda. Don’t buy them bottles when you know she is going to breastfeed because you are just sure she’ll need them. Don’t buy paper diapers when they told you they are going to use cloth. Don’t buy all pink when they express that they’d prefer things to be gender neutral. These first things may not seem like a big deal, but these are the first of their parenting decisions. Earn some brownies points by showing them that you respect them as parents and you will abide by their decisions. People tend to want to be around people that encourage them and don’t make them feel small and stupid. Don’t discourage them from these decisions either. If she says she wants a natural birth, don’t tell her she can’t because you couldn’t. If she wants to breastfeed, don’t insist she’ll need to pump so you can feed the baby. These things aren’t about you. Offer your support and encouragement.

Tip #25- Don’t buy yourself baby gifts. This isn’t for strangers, usually just close family. But don’t buy yourself a car seat for the baby for your car unless you have talked to the mother or father to be and they have expressed that you NEED to do so. Do you know how ridiculous it is when Grandma has an entire nursery and Mom and Dad and trying to scrape together enough cash to pop up a pack and play in their room? I cannot tell you how many grandparents have fully outfitted nurseries only to find they didn’t need half the stuff because the parents thought they were a little off their rocker setting up an entire nursery. Unless you have talked to the parents about it, and not in an informing way, but the parents have indicated this would be welcome, don’t set up a full nursery. Sure, a pack and play and high chair at Grandma’s are usually welcome. But don’t take it too far. Don’t buy toys just for your house or other gifts with strings. If it stays at your house, it isn’t a gift for them, it is a gift for you. It is just weird. And it is a big red flag to most new parents. Really, they get that you are excited, and they are super excited to have your support. But know your role. Grandparent is a wonderful title and a wonderful role in a little one’s life. It doesn’t look like the parent’s role. It is different and wonderful in its own way. Foster that wonderful role you have to play and don’t try to steal the parent’s role.

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Tip #26- Celebrate! If this is kid number one or kid number 9, CELEBRATE! A new life has entered the world. Celebrate. All babies deserve to have someone celebrating their arrival. ALL OF THEM. (I won’t rant here about pro-life people who are anti-large family or mean to unwed mothers or any of those things. I could, but I’ll refrain. Just be nice. BE NICE.)

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Pippin- A Birth Story

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This is a post about pregnancy and birth- from a mom’s perspective. If you’re not down with that, leave now! Quick!

My pregnancy with Pippin was going extremely well. I was planning a home birth with some lovely midwives. I even got a water birth tub from a friend, thinking maybe water wouldn’t make me want to claw my skin off this time around, we’d see. Pregnancy was boring, and normal, and uneventful.

And then it wasn’t. I started itching. Claw my skin off, Benadryl won’t touch it, horrible itching. So, I texted my midwives. “I’m itching. I was itching all night. It won’t stop.” After a few other questions about things like urine, rashes, and poop- my midwife told me I’d need to have my liver tested. I was in the lab a couple hours later having liver function tests drawn. My midwives gave me some dietary changes to make and a juice recipe to drink daily while we waited for results. I kept thinking that the liver test would come back fine and it’d just be another weird pregnancy symptom. (Because, you know, no two pregnancies can be alike. Each kid has to throw in their own twist on things in there.)

My liver function test came back bad. Not horrible, but my AST was at the high end of normal and my ALT was double what would have been considered normal. 33 weeks pregnant, zero history of cholestasis in myself or my family, no multiples, no risk factors at all for this. But, we were testing anyway. They ordered bile acids and I went ahead and set up an appointment with a perinatologist for a biophysical profile, non-stress test, and consult. I took to the interwebz, trying to find out all I could about ICP- treatment, risks, anything I could find. It didn’t take long for me to realize how serious this itching actually was. Not so much for me, for me it was annoying. I’d itch, be tired, maybe some GI pain, but I’d heal once the baby was born. The real risk was to the baby. My baby. The big scary word no mom wants to hear or even contemplate- stillbirth. I was terrified.

I stayed on the diet (no sugar, no caffeine, no fried food, low fat everything, no white flour, nothing processed, lots of greens, lots of water with lemon) and the juice (beet, carrot, apple, grape, grapefruit, lemon, and olive oil). After meeting with the perinatologist, we decided to go ahead and start treatment while waiting on the bile acid results.  (Bile acid results take a ridiculously long time to get when you are anxiously awaiting results- about 10 days in my case.) So, I started taking a medication known in short as Urso. And I’d continue weekly biophysical profiles, non-stress tests, and perinatologist consults until we knew I didn’t have it.

I knew from the internet that I was hoping for total bile acids to be less than 10. They finally came back, and they were over 10. 11.9 to be exact. So, a definitive ICP diagnosis, but mild. Second bile acid drawn.

I continued in the care of my home birth midwives and saw the perinatologist weekly for monitoring the baby. My next bile acid result was even higher. Not the news I wanted. It was still mild, but the diet and medication were not exactly lowering the bile acids in my blood. They might have been keeping the ICP mild, I can’t really know.

We knew early delivery would be necessary. An induction would be a possibility. Given that I am a VBAC (though this would be my fourth) and all the other risks associated with ICP, I decided to transfer to a hospital based midwifery group. The transfer, though it was at almost 36 weeks, was seamless, thanks to the back up care provided by the perinatologist. (The hospital based midwifery group works under the perinatologist.) My home birth midwives were supportive of me still trying to have Pippin at home, the perinatologist was comfortable backing me in a home birth, it really came down to my comfort level. And with everything being so up in the air, I just needed one plan for simplicity and on plan that covered all my what-ifs.

At 36 weeks, I started getting nervous. What if my bile acids spike? I wouldn’t know in time to do anything. (Since the blasted test takes 10 days.) So, at my weekly BPP/NST at 36 weeks 3 days, I talked to the perinatologist about my fears. I knew I had a live baby that day, could we say the same in a week? With the risks known to start rising dramatically in week 37, I just didn’t want to risk it. We ended up doing an amniocentesis that day to assess lung maturity. The plan was to begin a low, slow induction the following day in the hospital if his lungs were mature. If the amnio did not come back showing lung maturity, we’d induce at 37 weeks.

Tuesday, the 21st, the amnio results came back showing lung maturity. I went into the hospital that afternoon to begin the slow induction process. I was soft, anterior, not at all dilated. About 50% effaced. And baby at -2. That put my bishop score at about a 6. (Which really isn’t great.) Since I wasn’t dilated at all, we started the induction with cervadil. It states in for 12 hours and gets the cervix ready for the actual induction. About a quarter ’til 5 on Tuesday evening, the Cervadil was inserted and the induction had officially begun.

I kind of expected to have a baby 4 hours after that. I didn’t. I thought, “This is my sixth, it won’t take that long to pop this baby out.” Well, those 4 hours passed, and I decided it was time to sleep. Mentally, I thought it was over. I thought that there was no way this induction would work and I’d have a c-section the next day. Some of you know how traumatic my first c-section was for me and know how hard I fought for my first VBAC. So it will come as a shock when I say that I was okay with the thought of another c-section. I thought, “My baby will be out. And he’ll be alive. And I’ll heal.” I also knew that a c-section would be different this time around. They’d let me hold the baby in the OR. They’d be more respectful. So, that did help, but my main thought was simply that my baby would be alive.

The next morning, the cervadil was removed. I was sure it had done absolutely nothing. The nurse told me they could do it again for another 12 hours if I wasn’t dilated enough to start the next stage of induction. I asked how dilated did I need to be at this point? She said a 2. I was sure I wasn’t that dilated. Surprisingly, I was 3.5cm dilated, more effaced, baby was at 0 station now. On to step 2. After breakfast.

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I took a two hour breakfast break. During this time, The Pastor learned that our house caught on fire. The relatively new oven in our kitchen went up in flames. My mother-in-law was with the children and she got them out and called 911. Police, fire trucks, and the Red Cross came to the delight of my boys. Our church family jumped in helping my mother-in-law entertain the kids, feed the kids, and clean up the house. It was just the kitchen. Just one side of the kitchen. But during this break in my induction, The Pastor is on the phone with the landlord, the fire marshall, his mother, and the church lay leader. Poor guy. And he kept all this from me. I didn’t have a clue anything was going on. I knew The Pastor had a head ache, but assumed it was from sleeping on a bench.

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9 a.m.- 16 hours into the induction- pitocin is started. When they day low and slow, they mean it. I was still pretty sure none of this would work. I was pretty scared of pitocin, since I have heard plenty of stories about laboring with pit- how painful it is compared to natural birth. I didn’t have an epidural or any pain meds. I figured it’d probably get to that point, but why tie myself to the bed prematurely? Pitocin was started on 1. You read that right. 1. This was definitely going to be slow.

Pitocin a 1. I’d have one contraction every time the piton would drip, which wasn’t often. Pitocin went up to 2. Then 3. Then 4. Then 5. Then 6. It is about this point I really freak out. Here we are, after noon, and this Pitocin isn’t doing a thing! How long am I going to keep at this before someone realizes it just isn’t going to work? I’m freaking out. This is all going to end in me being cut, I just know it. Nothing is happening. Nothing. **I should note that I had friends messaging me telling me things were going well. I also had The Pastor telling me all was well. My freaking out was pretty controlled, but I do think those around me knew where my head was.**

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I freak out a little on the midwife. She laughs a little and asks me what I want to do. “I want you to check me! These contractions aren’t even uncomfortable. Clearly nothing is working! My body just isn’t going to work like this.” She checks me. I’m 5cm dilated. She says, “See. It is working.” “It is working far too slow.” is my reply. They bump the pitocin up to 7 and assure me this is normal and usual and my body is working. I’ll admit, while I should have been happy that I was more dilated- I wanted it to be more. 5 was only 2cm more than I was at 9am. This low and slow was never going to actually get the baby out. On the plus side, at least it didn’t hurt.

My doula had stopped in and popped in to say she was stepping out again until things picked up a bit. (I do not like to be watched.) I was starting to feel a bit more uncomfortable, as in, the contractions were starting to get noticeable, but I let her go anyway. Of course, I quickly realized that was a mistake and had The Pastor calling her back a few minutes later. After applying some peppermint essential oil to my lower back because I am pretty sure baby is posterior.

Things went from oh-this-is-noticeable to whoa-this-sucks really quickly. It always does for me and it always takes me by surprise. I knew pretty quickly I was hitting transition. I knew I was just checked less than an hour before and was “only” 5cm. I knew the nurse had just 15 minutes before bumped the pitocin up to 8 because I was clearly not in “active labor” yet. But suddenly, I need my hips squeezed, I need to go to the bathroom, I’m hot, I’m going to puke, I decide I don’t want a sixth baby after all. You know, all those things that happen right before you start to push.  Baby had definitely turned around and was ROA and ready.

The nurse wants to check me. I assure her a baby is coming out without her getting involved in my business, if you know what I mean. She keeps asking. I start pushing. My doula is explaining to her that I have a “sound” in my voice when I am complete. The next contraction, the doula says, “That sound.” I push a little. My water breaks all over the nurse. She leaves to change clothes right that second. Surely she’s had amniotic fluid in her socks before. The Pastor and my doula are keeping the cool rags coming, and the peppermint oil and orange oil to help with the nausea.

Less that 20 minutes of pushing (and complaining- I complain a lot while I push) later and we have a baby. I could have sworn he was crowning for half an hour, but that would be impossible given the times. But I swear I thought his head was just never coming out. But unlike the brother before him, his body slid out easily. No pushing past shoulders or hips. Just push out a head and the rest basically fell out. When I first started pushing, the midwife told me he had hair! (As opposed to the brother before him that was born with zero hair and still doesn’t have much to speak of.)

pip

They put him on my chest and I got to smell and cuddle him right away. The Pastor cut the cord after it stopped pulsing. Those that know him will find this part humorous. The midwife asked if he wanted to cut the cord. He said, “As long as I can really cut it and it not be some ceremonial not really cutting it kind of thing.” (Our first baby, the doctor cut the cord, then had him cut it shorter, which kind of irritated him and he is still clearly irritated by it.)

After nursing for about an hour and 20 minutes, they weighed and measured him. 7 lbs. 2 oz. 18.5 inches. They also gave him a vitamin K shot. (This is important for ICP babies. They have increased risk of neonatal hemorrhage.) And then he was diapered and clothed and handed back to me. He stayed with me the entire time we were in the hospital. (You may or may not remember my previous horror stories with postpartum in a hospital, which lead me to home birth in the first place.) He was perfectly healthy. On day 3, his bill levels were borderline, and knowing ICP babies have a higher risk of jaundice, I decided to go ahead and treat him. (The hospital pediatrician left it entirely up to me, which was completely new that a pediatrician thought I was competent.) So, we stayed 12 extra hours in the hospital for him to get some phototherapy. (His levels went from 12 to 7 in those 12 hours.)

mom,dad,pip

I am happy with my choices. I don’t feel bad about “loosing” the home birth plan. Flexibility is a necessary part of the home birth process. Birth is about choosing the best providers and location to fit your needs. When your needs change, plans might change. And that is really okay. My hospital induction, while not being something I would have ever wished for, wasn’t plan B. It was just the plan at that point. I don’t regret that for a second. And I don’t think it was second best. It was what we needed. And all in all, I am glad that the induction worked. It turns out, 7 hours of pitocin isn’t so horrible. It was enough time for my body to adjust. My labor unfolded as my labors usually unfold. I never did feel the need for pain medication or an epidural. The pitocin contractions felt the same to me as natural contractions. I should point out that low and slow on pitocin isn’t very common. So, I do understand that  my expectations of pitocin were likely based on people who had much more medication than I did. But if 8 units of Pitocin works, I’ll definitely take it over the body slam that some doctors give.

As for my liver, I couldn’t take meds after Pippin was born. I had Percocet right after he was born, and then Motrin several hours later, and it brought the itching back. So, I opted to not take anything. Instead, I used clary sage and lavender essential oil for the afterbirth pains. It did not make them go away, but it did take the edge off. And I figured I’d rather be cramping than itching like crazy trying to hold and nurse a baby. I’m still taking it easy on the diet, trying to give my liver a chance to heal, and it should be healed over the next several weeks. As to if this will recur, I don’t know. ICP has a very high recurrence rate. But it is usually genetic and mine isn’t. So, we don’t really know. It is possible this was all triggered by my getting rotovirus at 31/32 weeks pregnant. But we’re completely unsure about if it would recur or not.

For more information about ICP, check out this website.

2014 Books In Review

I’ll admit it, I did not read very much in 2014. I honestly don’t know what happened. I just had a slow reading year. I ended up reviewing a bunch of non-book products (crib sheets, stroller, baby carriers, vacuum, toys, etc.). But I did read, on average more than one book per month. Here they are:

revivalRevival: Faith As Wesley Lived It by Adam Hamilton

5 Stars

Written by a United Methodist Pastor, Revival is divided geographically. Each chapter focuses on a place in Wesley’s life and ministry and ties that back to Wesley’s teachings. You’ll find pictures of the author’s journey to these places. You could even use the book as a guidebook to a Wesley centered trip. He quotes Wesley’s sermons and relates them to modern life. This is a book easily understood by laity, and easily appreciated by clergy. You’ll find snippets of Wesley’s life, snippets of Wesley’s thoughts, and snippets of current Wesleyan perspective- all in one book. While not exhaustive, it is certainly a good peak into the life and mind of Wesley and into the theology of Wesleyans.

hereinisloveHerein Is Love, Volume 3: Leviticus by Nancy E. Ganz

5 Stars

I cannot tell you enough how much I love this book. I got it for homeschooling. We’d been going through the Old Testament and I found myself stumped when it came to Leviticus. This book is amazing. It ties the Old Testament to the New in a way that kids can understand. It is set up with lessons in the beginning and questions in the back. It can easily be used for Sunday School type curriculum, as well. This is understandable by grammar school age kids, but isn’t below middle or even high schoolers. My 5 year old was able to remember all the steps to becoming a priest! This book was a huge help and a huge blessing. I cannot recommend it enough!

soupclub

The Soup Club Cookbook by Courtney Allison, Tina Carr, Caroline Lasko, and Julie Peacock

5 Stars

At first, I just wanted this book for the soup recipes. And there are plenty of those! The range of the recipes is pretty wide, but if you’re not a foodie, not many of them are going to appeal to you. There are also some very difficult to find specialty ingredients in a lot of the soups. If you live near a large metro area, it likely won’t be difficult for you to acquire them. If you live in more rural areas, you’ll have a lot more trouble with a lot of the ingredients. (We’re talking about things like Marmite, specialty cheeses, fresh chestnuts, celeriac bulbs, sunchokes, masa harina, kombu, nori, etc.) There are also several non-soup recipes. I was thrilled with the recipes included. And the recipes are huge, which is a plus for this large family momma.
But what really surprised me is how much I actually like the idea of a soup club. I usually shy away from dinner clubs, mostly because they just don’t work for my family. But soup club is something I could really get used to. I look forward to finding a few friends to try soup club with me.
You’ll need a few things to make this cookbook work for you. You’ll need a huge stock pot. The soup recipes are intended to be split among 4 families. That means each recipe makes 8-9 quarts of soup. (And if you’re a large family mom, like myself, that means their might even be leftovers!) You’ll need an immersion blender for several of the soups. You may need a food processor for several soups. And if you’re starting a soup club, you’ll need quart sized jars, small jars for garnishes, and canvas tote bags for delivery.

crochetwithoneCrochet with One Sheepish Girl by Meredith Crawford

5 Stars

I am a very beginning crocheter. This book has the basics in the beginning of the book, though crochet is a little hard to grasp in book form, so you may want to watch some YouTube videos to help with the beginner basics. There are several patterns in this book, all of them pretty unique. (I hate it when I buy a craft book and can find every single pattern for free on the internet. This book isn’t like that.)
Patterns include: Granny Square Infinity Cowl, Color Block Ribbed Turban, Bow Brooch, Striped Bow Clutch, Sweater Makeover (Adding crochet hearts to a sweater, not the pattern for the sweater), Collared Shirt Makeover (Adding a crochet trim to a button up shirt), Scallop Stripe Cowl, Home Cozy Home Pillowcase, Crochet Edge Frames, Yarn Bag Makeover (Adding Crochet touches to a ready made canvas bag), Ombre Basket in Three Sizes, Crochet Hook Organizer, Heart Pocket Apron, Teacup Coasters, “Enjoy” Place Setting Placemat, Cottage Tea Cozy, Diana Camera Purse (looks like a camera, doesn’t hold a camera), Tablet Case, Gift Boxes, Chocolate Latte (crochet to go coffee cup, doesn’t actually hold coffee), Blueberry Muffin (again, a “play” muffin), Party Hat Garland, Snow Cone Garland, and Crochet Edge Cards and Tags (cards are printed in the back of the book so you can make copies of the cards she has or add the trim to your own).

charcuterieThe New Charcuterie Cookbook by Jamie Bissonnette

4 Stars

This is a well laid out book. There are plenty of pictures, even step by step pictures helping you wade through the unfamiliar territory. You’ll need more than the average American kitchen contains, though. You’ll need a meat grinder. For many recipes, you need a separate meat curing fridge. You’ll need a sausage stuffer. None of these recipes will make your kitchen more efficient or save you money. This is more of a hobby cooking type endeavor. (Telling you his first few hams didn’t turn out, so don’t worry if yours doesn’t won’t fly when you’re counting on that ham for dinner.)

You should also be aware that this book, particularly in the introduction, is quite crude and contains a few profanities. I wouldn’t usually expect that in a cookbook, but think it is pertinent info, particularly for those giving the book as a gift.

Overall, a beautifully laid out, well explained book. Just not something the average American home cook is going to necessarily employ.

goodadvice
Good Advice from Bad People by Zac Bissonnette
4 Stars
This makes for an interesting coffee table book. Organized with a quote on one page in large print and then the story of why the quote is so humorous coming from that person follows on the next page or two. Some of the quotes and stories are not so amusing, some are. Makes a great conversation starter, for sure.
afterworlds
Afterworlds by Scott Westerfield
3 Stars
This book is two books in one. You have the book, “Afterworlds”. Then you have the story of a young up-and-coming author writing “Afterworlds”. Chapters alternate between the stories. The timing between the stories is very well done.
“Afterworlds” by Darcy Patel would have gotten a 5 star review. And I would sit anxiously awaiting “Untitled Patel”. It was the second story of Darcy Patel flowing through the pages that brought the rating down. Don’t get me wrong, the book premise was genius, the timing of the stories flowing together was nothing short of epic. The characters in the Darcy Patel story just lost their fizz and definition as the love relationship in that story began. The plot took over and left nothing for the characters themselves to be. Darcy began acting not like Darcy, but by a pawn of the plot. Huge bummer because this book could have been epic. Darcy was just all wrong from the beginning. (She should have been a dude- that would have made so much more sense because she didn’t ever feel like any girl I have ever known. The soul of the character felt like an insecure boy.) Read it, because you have to- this is Scott Westerfeld we’re talking about. Enjoy the genius in the premise and in the Afterworlds story. But know that the Darcy Patel story is just a flat, soulless blah once you get beyond the perfect timing, insightful industry look, and innovative idea.Parental blurb: (This book is YA. Recommended for 14 and up. So I am dutifully including the info parents might want to know.) This book contains the following:
-terrorism
-cult in minor detail
– violence, but nothing excessively graphic
– violence against children
– cursing, not excessive, but a few f-bombs
– underage drinking
– sex in vague passing references, nothing graphic
– homosexual relationship is one of the main stories in the book

breastfeeding
5 Stars

I have breastfed all five of my children, so I am not new to this, nor was any of the information in the book really new or unheard of to me. However, this made me heart just sing reading about the beauty God created in the mother and child dynamic shared in breastfeeding. I will go back and read this again and again. And I highly recommend it!

Note: I am not Catholic, but I found the book amazing nonetheless. I am Protestant/Methodist.

hyperbole
Hyperbole and A Half by Allie Brosh
4 Stars
I don’t read the blog, but I bought the book anyway. I wasn’t exactly aware of how much the author likes the F word. I found the book amusing. I would caution readers that it does contain a lot of profanity, so if that is something that bothers you, skip this book. There is no getting around the profanity.
fallout
The Fallout by S.A. Bodeen
4 Stars
I did not think The Compound really needed a sequel. It was a great stand alone story. I wish authors would rebel against this new trend toward making everything a series. With that said, I liked this book. I didn’t want it tagged onto The Compound, but I did enjoy it.
baked
Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito
5 Stars
If you know me, you know how much I love baking. And I love the premise of these recipes- decrease the sugar where you can, add more chocolate where you can. There are recipes for cookies, cakes, pies, tarts, and more. If you’ve never baked a cake before, you might want to start with something simpler, but for those that know their way around a mixer, you’ll love this book!
lectures
Lectures in Old Testament Theology by Dennis Kinlaw with John Oswalt
5 Stars
As I was preparing to teach the kids about the Old Testament this year, I found myself with a lot of questions. So, instead of trudging along blindly, I picked up this book and began to read and help answer some of those questions. This book was undoubtedly a blessing to me. It helped me understand the Old Testament, helped tie it to the New Testament, and gave me more insight into the Bible than I have had before. While this book was written for academia, I find it very easy to understand with no theological or Biblical degree. I would recommend it for clergy and laity, alike.
bibleamongthemyths
The Bible Among Myths by John Oswalt
5 Stars
In addition to the previous book, I picked up this book to help further answer some of my questions. Living in a time where everyone spouts “truth” as it is known to them, it is easy to find yourself a bit confused on what is and isn’t actually true. This book helped frame the world when the Bible was written. It helps you understand the concepts of myth and history and how the Bible fits into that. It is a little more difficult to read than Lectures in Old Testament Theology, but readable nonetheless, for those with an interest in the subject.
Note: Dr. Oswalt was one of The Pastor’s seminary professors.
holdon
Hold On To Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate
5 Stars
I read this book at such an opportune time. My kids have just started playing with other kids around the neighborhood and I was able to see a lot of what the authors were discussing playing out in the early stages. And I was really surprised how quickly the kids’ attachments went from our home to homes around the neighborhood. It has definitely given me more to think about and more of a leg to stand on when certain relationships my children have make me uncomfortable. (And usually, it isn’t a matter of the other kid being a bad kid. It is just how much emphasis and how much of themselves they throw into the relationship, even at relatively young ages.) This is definitely a book to read, particularly for those entering the world of raising kids who have their own friends and relationships outside of the family. It is easier to foster healthier relationships from the beginning than to be scrambling to fix them when things go bad. (Though if you’re in that second camp, this book will help, too.)
angryconvos
Angry Conversations With God by Susan E. Isaacs
4 Stars
I really couldn’t relate to Susan’s story at all. I don’t know what it is like to be a single adult searching for your mate. I don’t know what it is like to move across the country while single. I don’t know what it is like building a career while searching for Mr. Right. I didn’t do those things. And that life is so foreign to me, I just couldn’t relate. I know nothing about church hopping and trying to find the perfect church. (I’ve always been of the “grow where you are planted” variety and try to make my church better and take the things that I dislike about it to make myself a better person. I’ve never moved to a new city and had to shop for churches. In every move, I had a church home waiting for me, and I made that the best I could.)
This book is funny and snarky. And I enjoyed it, despite the author being nothing like myself. I like peeking into the spiritual journey’s of others. It gives me more insight into choices they make and why they tick. So, I did enjoy the book, though I didn’t necessarily find it personally edifying or touching.
handsfree
You’ve already seen my review of Hands Free Mama and all the ways I dislike it. If you haven’t, go read it. I gave it 2 out of 5 stars, and I think that was being pretty generous.
protecting
Protecting The Gift by Gavin de Becker
4 Stars
I really liked Gavin de Becker’s book, The Gift of Fear. That book really should be read by all parents. This book, had its great points. If I was in a different situation in life, needing childcare providers on a regular basis or something, this book would have likely gotten 5 stars. There are screening questions for daycares, schools, and babysitters. There are tips on things to look for, things to ask that you may not think about, and just the general word to trust your gut. Parents today need to hear that. Trust your gut. We get so bogged down in the lists and the comparing that we often try not to listen to ourselves, even when we should. This book also helped me navigate some personal parenting issues that had come up in my life, which was invaluable. I just found that I really liked about half the book and then just kind of got through the other half. It isn’t a topic we usually like to dwell on, but Gavin de Becker does such a great job of getting right to the heart of the matter that it immediately deals with our anxieties and then leaves us with nothing but newfound strength.
makingafamilyhome
Making A Family Home by Shannon Honeybloom
2 Stars
The book is full of beautiful pictures… of the author’s perfect home and perfect kids and perfect life. Of course, likely all taken on the same day and likely not quite as perfect as projected. (I think we’ve all seen similar on social media.) It was seriously just room by room of her house and how to make your house like her home. I didn’t find it all that helpful or inspirational, it just felt pretentious. But the pictures were pretty.
lovingthelittleyears
Loving The Little Years by Rachel Jankovic
4 Stars
Overall, I enjoyed this book. There were parts that were very encouraging. Parts that had me tearing up. Parts that I felt convicted to do better for my kids. I think her views on how children change a mother’s body are amazing and could read an entire book just on that subject.
I did conclude that Mrs. Jankovic and I are very different parents. And to me, that is okay. However, I wish she wouldn’t have talked so much about discipline in her book since that is where she and I would majorly disagree. I also didn’t find it helpful to the overall grounding and encouraging tone of the book. I also found it humorous that a mom whose oldest child is 5 is talking about long term discipline approaches. She really should have left that part out, added a few more uplifting and encouraging chapter, and called it a five star book.
mamarazzi
Mamarazzi by Stacey Wasmuth
4 Stars
This book is overall a good help to taking great pictures of your kids. It contains tons of pictures along with the camera settings uses to take each picture. There are tips on how to make handmade photography helps, like diffusers and reflectors. It is a very good resource for the technical aspects of photography, explaining aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. There were tips and tricks for photographing newborns through teens. It also has info on how I choose a professional photographer when you need one.
The downsides of this book are small, but keep it from being a 5 star book. The book was copyrighted in 2011, so many of the website and specific products recommended are gone. Including websites in a book is helpful, but certainly dates a book. All the photo editing is specifically geared to Adobe Photoshop. There are recommended iPhone apps, which only scratch the surface of what is currently available. The advice on choosing a camera is really limited to Canon and Nikon. There are plenty of other options available. It also recommends a dSLR because of previous limitations with digital cameras. I own a dSLR myself, but there are plenty of digitals that are blowing folks away these days.
I think my favorite quote from this book is, “Buying a fancy camera does not make you a photographer.”
**This post contains affiliate links. **

2013 Books

I wanted to read more in 2013. I really did. But then it just didn’t happen. Something about having a baby threw my number of books read this year way, way down. Boo.

4 out of 5 stars

I read this book last January in an attempt to organize my house again. I never ended up organizing my house last year. I say every year that it is something I will do and then I don’t do it. 2014 is my year! Right?! That is a post for another day. Overall is was a decent organizing book. I received the book for free for review purposes.

4 out of 5 Stars

I received this book for free for the purposes of a review. This book was a new take on The Island of Dr. Moreau. It was creepy and gothic. There were aspects that missed the full potential of what the book could have been. It could have been phenomenal, but the author strayed and missed the overall mark at times. These things happen.

4 out of 5 Stars

I didn’t realize this was a kid’s book until I got it. I love the pictures. They are fabulous. The words are heart warming, but not particularly for kids. Not sure where the intended audience actually was or what mark they were trying to hit. This isn’t a devotional or a story. It isn’t exactly a coffee table book, either. It is more of a pick me up on a bad day kind of book. I didn’t like it very much at first, but it has grown on me over the year. On my first reading, I gave it 3 stars. Now I give it 4.

5 out of 5 Stars

This is a wonderfully cute little embroidery book. It comes with iron on images, so you don’t have to hand copy them, which is worth the price of the book all by itself. The images are cute and sweet. I embroidered a few burp cloths while waiting for Topher last year using these patterns.

4 out of 5 Stars

I expected to like this book much more than I did. I had hyped it up so much in my head that the end product just didn’t live up to my head hype. It contains projects of various kinds. It contains parenting insights on how to encourage creativity in your child. I just… well, my kids just don’t cooperate with this kind of fantasy she lays out. My kids are very creative, but also destructive. So, I can’t have random stuff found from outside hanging out on my hearth. My kids tear it all to shreds. I can’t leave art supplies out. They mural my walls. In my fantasy world, I do these wonderful things from this book, but in my real life, things just don’t work out that way.

4 out of 5 Stars

I really loved Ina May’s Guide To Childbirth and as a natural birther and planning a home birth, I kind of felt like Spiritual Midwifery was a must read. It was set up much like Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth– birth stories for the first half of the book and information in the second half. The information in Spiritual Midwifery is geared much more toward midwives (surprise!). It was interesting, for sure. The birth stories were a little more “woo” than I experience myself. I also really disliked Stephen Gaskin writing any portion of the book. The other dad perspectives didn’t bother me, though. Definitely not for the mainstream people. It also wasn’t particularly helpful for my home birth preparations. I just felt like I needed to read it so I could get my granola card punched.

3 out of 5 Stars

This book has some good activities for your little ones, but overall I think it is overkill. Plus it isn’t really doable, in my opinion, in real life when you have more than one child under five at a time. (And I currently have three under five.) Some of the activities were just dumb. I’m naturally inclined against things geared toward this age group. I find they are far too limited and seem to assume that preschoolers and toddlers are much dumber than they really are. If you find this book for free or at a thrift store, pick it up. But don’t pay full price for it. It isn’t worth it.

4 out of 5 Stars

I really liked the overall premise of this book. I particularly did not like the last few chapter, which brought my rating down from 5 stars to 4. But there was so much good in this book. I highly recommend it. Clearly, I am not Jewish, but this book contained so much great parenting advice. It did talk about Jewish tradition quite a bit, but I think any parent would find the book helpful if you are in any way spiritual. It talks about not sheltering your kids, letting your kids fail, letting your kids express themselves, not bulldozing your children, and giving your children the freedom to be themselves.

5 out of 5 Stars

I really wish more people in the Church would read this book. (See that I capitalized Church? That means the entire worldwide Church, not just my local church that I attend.) It is one of the Big Deals in my life that I think through decisions that I make. That Hideous Strength (which happens to be part of The Space Trilogy, only one of my favorite book series in the world- so much so that I named my kid after the main character, Ransom) is the fiction equivalent to this book. If I boiled it down, the point of the book is that in an attempt to control nature, it ends up controlling us. We try to be gods, but lack the necessary knowledge of God. This book is so relevant to today, you’ll find yourself amazed this insight came from the 1950s.

5 out of 5 Stars

It is no secret that I am not very mainstream. (Although I’ve recently found out that many people in real life didn’t know about my crunchy leanings. Surprise! I’m a hippy under these normal clothes!) This book is a great resource for dealing with childhood illness without running to the doctor for everything. It is completely exhaustive, there are plenty of other remedies than those listed. But it is a very easy to use quick guide. We successfully managed a few ear aches, coughs, chest colds, croupy coughs, and sore throats with the help of this book. If you’re just getting out of the mainstream, this book gives you brand name products to buy online or at your local natural grocer so you don’t have to go make your own tinctures and such. If you’ve got a crunchy card, you can make your own or buy similar products. I highly recommend this book!

5 out of 5 Stars

This book deserves its own post. And I will get on that. This book changed my life. No joke. It changed my heart and changed the lives of my family, as well. I cannot recommend this book enough. Full post about this story is coming.

3.5 out of 5 Stars

I was given this book free for review. The authors have a massive mega church plant down the street from me. I think the book skims over a lot of what made their mega church a success and it doesn’t delve into their limitations and problems quite enough. But this book wasn’t about their church, it is about them. It is a book for church planting families. How do you balance the work required in a church plant with your family life? How do you guard your marriage during the turbulent church planting times? It is something only those in full time ministry really understand. I appreciated their perspective and advice far more than I anticipated, even though I do not agree with all their advice.

3 out of 5 Stars

Honestly, I am still on the fence about this. It works. You loose weight. (I lost 17 lbs. in one month.) It does help you feel better toward the end. But it is so arbitrary. It is so limiting. It is not sustainable. (And not intended to be.) It is absolutely miserable. It will break your physical food addictions, but in my opinion can make the mental issues surrounding food much worse. I’m so torn on this. It worked. I physically felt better. I lost weight. The restrictions were ridiculous and arbitrary. But mentally, it put me in a much worse place than when I started. Menu planning now sends me to tears. Just ordering food in a restaurant begins an epic mental battle for me. I’m now having to heal my body image and my food relationship coming off of this. It is hard to do with a family. It is hard to stick to period. I don’t think this is healthy for life. Check out Go Kaleo. I’m beginning my healing from this diet there.

3 out of 5 Stars

A collection of essays about cleaning. It is interesting to look into the minds of others when it comes to cleaning. You’ve seen it in those you know- your aunts, your mother, your mother-in-law. They all clean differently and all feel differently about cleaning. They have their reasons and you might know them. There are underlying psychological reasons we clean (or don’t clean) the way we do. Has poverty led to a need to hold onto everything? Has a busy life resulted in a completely chaotic house? Has a military past led way to a need for orderly surrounding? Is housework a woman’s work? Is it a man’s? Is it a maid’s? It is interesting to look into the lives and homes of others.

4 out of 5 Stars

Unschooling fascinates me. It really speaks to me. I’m finding myself drawn in that direction myself, but have not fully given into the idea. This book explores five basic principles into unschooling. I actually felt that it explored 3 unschooling ideas and 2 parenting ideas. I enjoyed the actual part about unschooling. I didn’t really resonate with the parenting parts 100%. But such is life. (Have you ever noticed how hard it is to have other parent friends? You never 100% agree on parenting issues and it can get awkward. You really have to try hard to give them space to parent their way while also staying true to you. If you thought finding friends in junior high was hard, just wait until you’re a parent! Suddenly how your diaper offends a now former friend. How you feed your baby hurts someone’s feelings. How you discipline or don’t discipline your child is now a grand dividing line.) I am looking forward to exploring unschooling further. The anarchist in me says, “Go for it!”

5 out of 5 Stars

I didn’t think it was possible for a breastfeeding book to move me to tears, but this one did. With the science to back up the claims, the Church to back up the methods, this book is full of wisdom for breastfeeding moms (and dads). I very highly recommend this book. It doesn’t have a lot of the how to and problem solving of breastfeeding, but will deepen you resolve to breastfeed your child and turn it from a chore into something you love to do. It elevated my role as a mother. It elevated Topher’s role as my son. Fabulous read.

5 out of 5 Stars

I have 5 kids, he has 5 kids. Had to read it. Some of the content of this book is the same as his stand up routines, but it is still funny. In fact, it may be funnier that you can read it in his voice. So funny. This book is stories of fatherhood, thoughts on fatherhood and families and our society in relation to big families.

4 out of 5 Stars

This book needs a different title. The first part of the book is about choosing to have a large family and thinking through the logistics of it all. It does have some practical advice for larger than average families. Some is similar to other books about large families. I liked her writing style. Good thoughts for families of not so many kids thinking about maybe having more. Or for families that are wanting to have more but haven’t really figured out how it will work.

Support A Breastfeeding Mom

The Surgeon General came out on Thursday and released a statement about how to encourage and better support breastfeeding moms. Of course, most of the actions mentioned were community and employer type things. All of those things are great, but what exactly is “family support”? How can people in a community support breastfeeding outside the suggestions given by the Surgeon General? Well, I’ve made a list.

Things Breastfeeding Moms can do to support one another:

– Nurse in public. I know, you don’t want to show your ta-tas to the world, but nursing in public brings breastfeeding to a public light. People get used to being around breastfeeding, seeing that it is more popular than they once believed. You open doors for all those behind you to nurse their babies when they get hungry wherever they are. I’m not saying you should whip out the girls in the most crowded public place imaginable with zero cover (though if you want to, good for you), I’m just saying that you shouldn’t hide in your car or the public restroom. You shouldn’t feel compelled to bring a bottle because bottle feeding is more publicly accepted. Make nursing publicly accepted!

– Encourage other breastfeeding moms. We know breastfeeding is tough, but being a mom is tough. Too often we discourage others from even trying because of our complaining about the experience. You should be able to share your breastfeeding struggles, but sharing them with a new mom thinking about breastfeeding probably isn’t the wisest thing to do. Keep your horror stories of cracked nipples and mastitis between yourself and your fellow veteran breastfeeding pals.

– Don’t be afraid to say “no.” The pressure of family and friends can be ridiculous when you’re a new mom. Feel free to tell people that they aren’t being helpful by constantly badgering you to let them give baby a bottle. Don’t feel like you have to say “yes” to offers to leave baby with grandma for a weekend. (If you need a weekend away, then go for it.) But don’t feel like you have to quit breastfeeding or even alter your breastfeeding for family or friend requests.

Things the Family and Friends of Breastfeeding Moms can do:

– Don’t continually push the bottle on Mom. She has chosen to breastfeed. Live with it. If she wants to supplement, she will. You stay out of it, it isn’t your place to tell Mom what to do.

– Don’t nag and whine about not being able to feed the baby. Change a poopy diaper if you want to “care” for baby in some way. Feeding is for the one with boobs full of milk. By letting you give baby a bottle to appease your need to be needed, Mom now has ridiculously engorged breasts that she has to deal with. You’re not helping at all. You’re adding more work to a new Mom. You may think one bottle is no big deal, but you are undermining the nursing relationship, and that certainly is not your place.

– Don’t constantly tell the Mom to cover up in public. Shame on you for expecting that sweet baby to eat in a public restroom or with a hot blanket over his head. Next time, Mom might bring a comforter to throw over you while you try to eat lunch or insist you take your plate to the smelly, germy bathroom.

– New Mom doesn’t care that you didn’t breastfeed. Breastfeeding is best, regardless of what you chose for your children. New Mom is not judging you, in any way, by choosing to breastfeed her child. She is making the best decision she can make for her situation. You don’t have to make her fail at breastfeeding so you feel validated.

– New Mom does not need a constant stream of visitors in those first few weeks. You’re just making it awkward. We know, you want to see the baby. But making sure baby is fed and Mom is recovering is really the important thing at the moment. If you do come over to “help” there are a few things you should know. Helping is not plopping down on the couch for an extended visit, forcing Mom to retreat with new baby to her room to feed. Helping is not holding the baby. Helping is not waking a sleeping child up. When baby cries, it is unhelpful for you to try to console baby. Typically newborns cry when they are hungry. Hand the baby over to Mom and leave the room. Helping is doing the dishes, doing some laundry, doing some light cleaning, etc. If you must see the baby, call first and make your visit quick. Those first few weeks are the hardest with a newborn. Those first few weeks can make or break a good breastfeeding relationship.

– Don’t offer to keep the baby so Mom can go out. She’ll feel like you are telling her that is what she should do. If she needs help, she’ll ask. Offering to keep a newborn for extended amounts of time (for a newborn, extended means it includes a feeding, but I have heard of crazy people expecting to keep a newborn for a weekend or even a week) is not helpful. You think you’re being helpful, but you aren’t. If Mom needs your babysitting services, she’ll ask.

– Quit telling Mom to pump! You may think it is no big deal to pump a bottle so you can keep the baby. (Or pump a bottle so you can feed a baby.) But it is really a lot of work. Pumping is doubling (or tripling) the work on Mom. You are expecting her to have enough milk for now and later and then later her having engorged boobs because baby isn’t eating. If Mom wants to pump, fine. But don’t push. You are not the one lactating, so keep your “pumping is easy” opinion to yourself.

– Your stories of how all your kids were on a schedule and sleeping through the night as newborns are not helpful. Neither is your incorrect advice that formula keeps a baby satisfied for longer or putting cereal in a bottle will help baby sleep. There are hoards of doctors and research out there to prove you wrong. Just because you did it, doesn’t make it the right thing to do. Schedules are not for breastfed babies, especially newborns. (When they get a bit older, they’ll develop their own schedule.)

– If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

What a Community can do for Breastfeeding Moms:

– It’d be nice if strangers could keep their opinions to themselves, especially when they are not at all helpful.

– Don’t expect a nursing mom to feed a baby in the dirtiest place around. If you don’t like seeing a breastfed baby, don’t look. I personally hate seeing a small baby with a bottle of juice, but you don’t see me telling the mom what to do. I also hate seeing babies continually strapped in their infant seats, even while awake. I realize that is a personal thing and don’t tell moms to hold their babies or at least get them into the stroller seat for a change of padding on the backside.

– Teach your kids about breastfeeding, even if you didn’t breastfeed. They need to know what boobs are for. And I feel terrible having to educate random children at the playground about breastfeeding. It’d be nice if parent’s taught their own kids this. (Some babies drink baby milk from a bottle, some babies drink baby milk from their mother’s breast. We’re mammals, so Mother’s make milk for their babies.- See how easy that is?)

Now, I know I probably come across as harsh on some of this, but really, it needs to be said. Nursing moms gripe together about these things. For the older generations, breastfeeding is something a bit new, especially to see it happening in public. But times change. For those that are of childbearing age, personal choices impact how they treat nursing moms. I’ve gotten thumbs up from Dads who support breastfeeding (which is a bit odd, let me tell you), I’ve had little old ladies commend me for taking care of my children as nature intended. There are happy breastfeeding supporters out there. I’ve also had my fair share of those who are flat out opposed to breastfeeding. Most people are not opposed to breastfeeding, at least most intelligent people. Many of the problems with how our society views breastfeeding are not from their utter disgust, it is from their ignorance. They don’t know what they’re asking when they ask a breastfeeding mom to bottle feed when in public or when they see fit. They don’t know what their asking when they ask you to sit in the car or restroom to nurse. We have this problem in our society where we have never taught our children about basic reproduction. We seem to focus our efforts on making sure they know about sex, STDs, AIDS, and birth control options. But we never seem to tell them about actual reproduction. How odd is it that most junior high students have seen the sex ed video, but most first time parents have never seen a baby born. I find that strange. Teaching them about safe sex is considered responsible, while teaching them about ACTUAL reproduction is deemed as too graphic. Strange world. Let me clue you in- when kids go to the zoo, they see baby animals breastfeeding. It is a perverted sense of nature to assume we are somehow different and the natural function of a human’s breast is somehow wrong compared to that of a warthog.

Help a Nursing Mom out and don’t make her job harder than it needs to be.

Pope Pius XII – On Breastfeeding

I got the following article from ccli.org. The following is taken from Pope Pius XII’s address to the Women of Italian Catholic Action, a group of midwives, October 26, 1941.

Mothers, your sensibility is greater and your love more tender. Therefore, you will keep a vigilant eye upon your babies throughout their infancy, watching over their growth and over the health of their little bodies, for this is flesh of your flesh and the fruit of your womb.

Remember that your children are the adopted sons of God and especially beloved of Christ. Remember that their angels look forever on the face of the heavenly Father; and so you too, as you rear them, must be angels in a like manner, in all your care and vigilance keeping your eyes fixed upon heavenly. It is your task form the cradle to begin their education in soul as well as in body; for if you do not educate them they will begin, for good or ill, to educate themselves.

Many of the moral characteristics which you see in the youth or the man owe their origin to the manner and circumstances of his first upbringing in infancy. Purely organic habits contracted at that time may later prove a serious obstacle to the spiritual life of the soul. And so you will make it your special care in the treatment of your child to observe the prescriptions of a perfect hygiene, so that when it comes to the use of reason its bodily organs and faculties will be healthy and robust and free from distorted tendencies.

This is the reason why, except where quite impossible, it is more desirable that the mother should feed her child at her own breast. Who shall say what mysterious influences are exerted upon the growth of that little creature by the mother upon whom it depends entirely for its development.