Pregnancy Update- Baby Seven

I realized that I haven’t talked much about this pregnancy and the plans and how things are going. I figured an update was in order.

So far, this pregnancy is completely normal and boring. Boring pregnancies are the best. Nothing is at all out of the ordinary. Daisy (that would be the baby’s name) is measuring right on track. She is usually head down now at 30 weeks, though that last day or two she’s been bugging me with trying to find a new position. I’m trying to convince her head down anterior really is the best in the world. Hopefully she believes me on that one. I have some of the common pregnancy complaints. My hips get mad easily. My legs and ankles are swelling. (90 degree heat is not kind on the extremely pregnant.) Leg cramps keep waking me up at night. Oddly enough, swelling and leg cramps were my two main complaints in my first girl pregnancy and not so much with the boys- maybe it is a girl thing.

The plan for birth this time is for a hospital delivery. We decided with the chances of the cholestasis returning being so high (90%) that we would just plan for a hospital delivery so that we wouldn’t have to really worry about that portion of it. I’ll be delivery her at Emory Midtown, which is where Emery and Ransom were both born. I’m nervous about heading back, since my last two experiences there after the babies were born were pretty bad. However, they have since become “baby friendly” and I hope to not have issues. (As in, I hope to have a baby there and actually get to keep the baby.)

Cholestasis of pregnancy recurs 90% of the time. However, since I didn’t have it with my first 5 babies, we are hoping that I will be among the 10%. We know we have great care set up if the cholestasis does recur. We’re all keeping a close eye out on symptoms and will test and treat if it becomes needed. Right now, I am symptom free. (It popped up in week 31 in my previous pregnancy.) If the cholestasis returns, I’ll have to be induced again at 37 weeks. (October 15) I am hoping and praying that my liver holds out this time and we can await natural labor.

In addition to the cholestasis concerns, there are the usual preterm labor concerns. Two thirds of the Godbold babies have been late preterm babies. I am really hoping and shooting to make it to at least 37 weeks. I’m doing the magnesium and vitamin C with bioflavonoid routine right now to hopefully get to that point. (One baby was born at 35 weeks, three at 36 weeks, 1 at 37 weeks, and 1 at 39 weeks.) Things right now are going boring and fine. So, hopefully that continues for the next 7 weeks.

The kids are really excited about having a little sister. Imogene is especially excited. They talk to Daisy and like to feel her kick. Even the older boys seem excited to be welcoming another girl to the family. Topher calls her a little lady. (And if you ask, he will officially be big the day she is born. Not a day sooner. Yes, he does have a younger sibling, but still insists that he is a little kid.)

We are getting ready to welcome our first girl in a decade. And also getting ready to welcome our first cold weather baby in a decade. We’re slowly accumulating clothes appropriate for the weather. Clearly, we have baby things- crib, car seat, stroller, wraps, bouncy seat. We also still have a full stash of newborn diapers, so yay for that. It is really just clothes and cold weather baby things we just don’t have. Over the next 7 weeks, I’m sure we’ll more or less be prepared.

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Pregnancy and Childbirth Books on My Bookshelf

I’m pregnant with baby #7. And I am working on teaching free childbirth classes in my community. So I had every single childbirth book I own scattered across my dining room table. I often have people ask for recommendations, so I figured I’d share that particular “bookshelf” and tell you my thoughts on each, in case you were interested. 


*In no particular order. Post contains affiliate links.*

1. Holy Labor: How Childbirth Shapes a Woman’s Soul

By Aubrey Smith

A really encouraging and insightful look into the theology that goes along with pregnancy and childbirth. Very eye opening and brings even more meaning into this part of your life as you better understand how pregnancy and birth reflect our God.  I very, very highly recommend this book. 

2. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

By Ina May Gaskin

Full of birth stories and real practical advice for natural childbirth. Helps you more fully see the role women play in bringing forth life as well as gives you the practical tips and tricks of the birthing trade. Kind of a substitute for that passed down from woman to woman information that we have lost in our modern culture. Most of the birth stories are very “hippie”. And some of it definitely has a new age vibe to it.  
3. The Birth Book

By William Sears, M.D. And Martha Sears, R.N.

Very informative book on birth. A little dated. No frills. No fear mongering. Just information.

4. The Lord of Birth

By Jennifer Vanderlaan

A devotion for pregnant women. Now, this one goes a little far out there. It definitely isn’t for everyone. I think Holy Labor is much better. But this book does have some good reminders, if you can take what helps you and leave the rest. If this statement bothers you: planning to have an epidural in a normal labor is lack of faith on your part because you aren’t trusting God to get you through. You should skip this book. The book is really short, only 70 pages, with a lot of breaks in there for questions and such.

5. Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born

By Tina Cassidy

If you are really hormonal and sensitive, this may not be best to read while you are pregnant as some of the information is really disturbing. (Human history is always tainted with the disturbing.) It really isn’t just a book for moms, but anyone interested in the history of how we give birth. It definitely makes you view birth choices in a different, more cultural, less “right and wrong” sort of way. Understanding where we have been and why some things still are the way they are. Very interesting, and slightly disturbing, read.

6. The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth

By Henci Goer

As an information junkie, this book is one of my favorites. I have read and reread and rereread this book. I’m surprised my copy is still holding up. It is the science behind childbirth choices. Laid out in a pros and cons sort of way with all sources cited so you make your own birth decisions. Yes, the author does give her opinions at times, but the evidence backs those up. Extremely informative. Extremely helpful.

7. The Natural Pregnancy Book

By Avila Jill Romm

This is a really helpful introductory guide to having a natural pregnancy. What things should I really be avoiding? What nutrition should I really be focusing on? Is red clover safe during pregnancy? What can I naturally do for heartburn? Those are the sorts of questions this book answers. I even have mine all tabbed for quick and easy reference.

8. Your Best Birth

By Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein

You’ve seen The Business of Being Born movies, so you decide to grab the book. Good call. This is like a dumbed down version of Henci Goer’s book. It is much more for the average person who doesn’t want all the studies cited and statistics quoted. It gives you your options, pros and cons, and you make your choices. I mean, let’s be honest, you’ve seen the movie, clearly there is going to be a slant toward the natural side of things. But I do think they tried to be as informative and non-biased as possible on the subject. Some things in American Obstetrics are just wrong and it is hard to find any words to justify them. I do recommend this book. I actually recommend it in person more often than The Thinking Woman’s Guide, simply because of accessibility. This one seems more for the masses and not just science nerds.

9. Gentle Birth Choices

By Barbara Harper, R.N.

First, the picture on the cover is just adorable. Tell me that little face doesn’t make you look forward to giving birth. Gentle Birth gives you some of the history of modern obstetrics along with more natural alternatives to common practices. Very pro-midwifery. Very challenge the system. It has good information, even if you are planning a hospital birth. Although, if you know you are delivering in a hospital, you may want to try other books, since this one might increase your anxiety about it.

10. Birthing From Within

By Pam England and Rob Horowitz

When I first got this book, I thought, “What on earth have I just purchased?” However, it has been extremely helpful over the years. I have read and worked through it multiple times and recommended it to people. This book helps you recognize your preconceived ideas about childbirth and address your fears and traumas through art therapy. It sounds very woo, but it is incredibly helpful. It does have a slight new age vibe, as I find so many natural childbirth books do. But if you find yourself anxious about childbirth or needing to process your birth experiences, this book can help you do that.

11. The Christian Childbirth Handbook

By Jennifer Vanderlaan

Basically, if it has the words “Christian” and “Childbirth” in the title, I’m going to buy it. I am always looking for really good Christian alternative for the new age stuff that seems to be so prevalent when discussing natural childbirth. I have found I can glean wisdom from those other sources, but not deep understanding and deeper meaning. This is much better than her Lord of Birth devotional. There is the informative stuff, and the author is very pro- natural birth. But there are also Bible verses throughout, which I found to be helpful. I do like this book. And this book is much bigger. It is 400+ pages of actual information, not a devotional, though it does have devotional thoughts.

12. Christ Centered Childbirth

By Kelly J Townsend

Again, in my search for good Christian childbirth books, I came across this one. Some of this one is a little hokey and just not for me. It does have good information, it just isn’t laid out in the most user friendly way. I do like that it includes Scripture to read. However, it isn’t really the best Christian childbirth book I have read. It is good, just not awesomely great.  

13. Spiritual Midwifery

By Ina May Gaskin

This book is very new age. It has a lot of very hippie birth stories, which can help dispel the fear of the birthing process. I found the birth stories prepared me better for birth than anything else. This book also has a lot of really great information. The second half of the book is basically a midwifery textbook. And while I really enjoy that sort of thing, not everyone needs that level of information. The birth stories are probably the more popular reason for buying this book. The stories were similar to Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, but I still thought they were worth the read.

14. The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth

By Sheila Kitzinger

This book has a very basic week by week pregnancy guide in the front of the book. Then gets into the standard pregnancy book stuff. Like a better version of What To Expect When You’re Expecting. It has good information, full color pictures (some are graphic, because… birth), and helpful tips from pregnancy all the way through birth. A very good book to cover all the basics. Like a childbirth class in a book.

15. Easing Labor Pain

By Adrienne B. Lieberman

This book is specifically natural labor techniques. If you are planning an unmedicated labor, this book would be a good one to read. I found it more helpful than the Bradley method or Lamaze breathing techniques. This one has actual helpful things to prepare for labor and then for handling labor once you’re there.

16. Waiting In Wonder

By Catherine Claire Larson

This book is a week by week guide to pregnancy and a pregnancy devotion book all in one. Each week has information about your growing baby, a prayer list for that week, a memory verse, and then several individual devotions to do throughout the week. There are 4 devotions per week, so it isn’t a daily thing. But it has room for thought and reflection. This would make a really lovely gift for the expecting couple, or buy it for yourself as you walk through each week of pregnancy with your focus on God. It can be used as a journal, as there are places to write in answers to questions, thoughts, feelings, etc. on the pages.  

17. Our Bodies, Ourselves

By The Boston Women’s Health Book Collective

There are specific versions for pregnancy, but I have the big women’s health reference book. Honestly, I just don’t like it enough to bother with the Pregnancy version. Extremely liberal. Not my cup of tea at all. With information from everything from addiction and relationships to anatomy and menopause. I just found there was way more political and opinion writing that actual scientific information. It isn’t a book about health, but rather, feminism with some anatomy and health related issues thrown in.

18. A Good Birth, A Safe Birth

By Diana Korte and Roberta M. Scaer

This book goes through birth options and birth issues. Even a chapter called, “How to Have A Normal Vaginal Birth”. (How sad is it that we have gotten to the point where to norm is now something we have to seek after and really try for?) It has really good information, I just think The Thinking Woman’s Guide to A Better Birth and Your Best Birth lay it out a little better. A good book, but not necessarily my highest recommended one on these specific topics.

19. Great With Child

By Debra Rienstra

This is more of a memoir. The ramblings of a mother through her pregnancy. It is very poetic and thoughtful. I wouldn’t necessarily say it is of any “help” in pregnancy and childbirth or even a book to only be read through pregnancy and childbirth. It is more of the internal musings of becoming a mother and carrying another person inside you.

20. Baby Name Wizard

By Laura Wattenberg

They now have a hugely popular website, which kind of makes the book obsolete, unless, like me, you prefer an actual book to information on a screen. The website is way more in depth than the book could ever be. The books also focuses more on the trends of the names than the meanings or where they came from. So, it isn’t a typical approach to naming, that is for sure. But check out the Baby Name Wizard website if you’re wanting to search naming trends. A lot more information. And its free. (The book isn’t free.)

21. The Mama Natural Week-By-Week guide to Pregnancy & Childbirth

By Genevieve Howland

This one is really, really new. I have been following her YouTube channel, so when the book was coming out, I pre-ordered it. It came out April 2017. (So, super new as I am writing this.)

This is a week by week guide, which I love. Something about weekly pregnancy guides. It must not just be me since there are dozens of week by week pregnancy guides and apps out there. This guide is for us crunchy mamas. Although, I would actually say it is Demi-crunchy. I have definitely seen more hippie types. This si much more balanced. Very similar to The Natural Pregnancy Book, only laid out in a weekly style. My favorite thing about the book is the recipes included for each week. The specific nutrition focus is based on how the baby is developing that week, so big brain weeks, the recipes are fish. Plus, the recipes are ones I will actually use. Like, stuff I can actually find and make and will willingly eat. I am absolutely loving this book!

22. Cool Names for Babies

By Pamela Satran and Linda Rosenkrantz

Again, another silly baby name book. This one is primarily lists. What did celebrities name their kids? What about rappers? Ooh, what are names of models? How about their kids? Those are the sorts of things in this book. You’ll find normal name along with Danger Mouse and Moxie Crimefighter. It is totally amusing. You may find THE NAME in here. Or maybe you’ll just find a name to tell your Mom to get her to stop asking you what the baby’s name will be.

23. From Conception to Birth

By Alexander Tsiaras

This is a coffee table picture book. It has the little close up pictures of sperm meeting egg. Then you have the pictures as the cells duplicate. Then pictures of the baby as he develops. My kids love looking through this book. I’m not standoffish at all about how babies are made or how they are born. These are the facts of life, so I don’t hide these from my kids. They mostly focus on the development pictures and like finding pictures that correlate to their new sibling’s current stage. Look! She has a tail! We have gotten a lot of use out of this book.

24. Your Pregnancy Week By Week

By Glade B. Curtis and Judith Schuler

This was my old favorite week by week guide. Now, I have a new one. But this one is so much better than What To Expect When You’re Expecting. (Can you tell I hate that book?) Still more on the mainstream medical side, but not too much horrible freak you out information. I think Mama Natural is prettier and has better information, but if the word “Natural” freaks you out, this might be the way to go. (Though I still recommend Mama Natural, hands down.)

25. The Pregnancy Book

By William Sears, M.D. and Martha Sears, R.N.

I still have the old version of this book, not the new updated version. So my take is that the old version is old. It is more of a month by month guide, but I don’t think in terms of months when I am pregnant. I think in weeks. When someone asks me how many months pregnant I am, I honestly have no idea. Purple? My brain just doesn’t process pregnancy in months. Maybe that is an age thing, I don’t know. I think the book has good information in it. It just never was my “reach for” book. I read through it once or twice, and then it has been a bookshelf sitter.

26. The Babycenter Essential Guide to Pregnancy and Birth

By Babycenter (a bunch of people who work for Babycenter)

I can feel some people rolling their eyes so hard right now. But seriously, you gotta keep it balanced, people. I need info from all sides. And then I can roll my eyes at them. This is a week by week guide with actual mom concerns. It is very mainstream. And it has some bad information in it. It isn’t bad, but you can honestly get this information on Babycenter for free, along with the asinine comments from random people along with it. Plus on Babycenter, you’ll get the added bonus of someone’s drama that is better than watching soap operas. Really, I don’t know why Babycenter is considered “expert” advice. It should just be considered “advice”. And like all free advice, take it for what you paid for it. Now, the book, sure, buy it if you want. But Mama Natural is a much better week by week guide and other books have much better “experts” giving advice.

27. Pushed

By Jennifer Block

 Warning: do not read this book while pregnant. Don’t. It isn’t going to be healthy for you mental state. However, once you have birthed and processed said birth, read this book. For so many of us it is extremely validating. It is the book that tells us we aren’t crazy and the system is flawed. A lot of history. A lot of technical information. But all information is cited, which I appreciate. I know the book cover says you need to read this when pregnant, but for many women, it would just cause too much anxiety. You know if that applies to you. It is really good information about the inner workings of our system and the problems in how hospitals and insurance companies work. I wouldn’t say it is conspiracy theory. I think we are all awake to the problems in our medical system and the bed that is made between medicine and politics. This just looks at that from an obstetric side. As someone who was cut because of my provider’s malpractice insurance, I found it very validating. (And slightly maddening.)

So, Someone You Know Is Pregnant…

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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.

mom,dad,pip

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.)

The Day The Comments Wouldn’t Quit

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Remember that time when I said I was going to blog the annoying things people say to me so I don’t go crazy on people in public? No. Well, I said it. At some point.

People aren’t always mean. In fact, last week, a few days before Christmas, a lady came and asked me if they were all mine while we waited for a table at a local Mexican restaurant. I replied that they were, and I even smiled. She just smiled and walked away. A few minutes after we were seated, she appeared again, and told me that we reminded her of her family when her kids were small. They are all grown now, she informed me. She said that someone had once paid for their dinner around the holidays, and it was such a blessing to them. Seeing us, she was reminded of that night, and was doing the same for us. Merry Christmas. And that was awesome. So generous, so sweet.

Four times over the weekend (my inlaws were in town, so we were eating out more than often), someone approached me or The Pastor to tell us how wonderfully behaved our children were and how great it was to see our family. (A couple times, I might have looked a little shocked. It isn’t easy on my end to keep them civil while waiting at the chiropractor or waiting for a table in a busy restaurant. And my boys are, well, all boy.) But I was surprised and encouraged. It took a lot of work to keep them quiet, feet not on seats, and eating with silverware, but apparently my hard work was working! People were not bothered by my children, but delighted by them.

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Then I have a day like today, and all those positive, encouraging interactions seem to fly out the window in the face of some crummy ones. Today, I felt like a walking target. The kids were being decently behaved. We took them to Waffle House for breakfast. We had to wait on a table because apparently everyone decided Tuesday was Waffle House day. But they were waiting well, in anticipation of waffles and hot cocoa, I suppose.

Then came the comments.

And they came. And they came. And they came.

“Are they all yours?!”

“Oh my God! And pregnant again?!”

“Bless your heart.” (And you Southerners know this is NEVER a compliment.)

“Better you than me.”

“Your hand are full!”

“Please tell me it isn’t twins again! Or worse, triplets!” (Apparently, my boys being dressed alike made many people assume they were triplets or twins.)

“You must have more patience than me! I could just never…!”

And all this, repeated over and over, in front of my kids, while I am working my butt off at that thing where I keep them all nice and polite in public places and not let them tear Waffle House down with their bare hands. I think the worst part was most of it coming from the employees. We couldn’t even get orders out without multiple snide comments. Let me just say, I wanted to be mean. I wanted to put someone in their place. I wanted to scream.

I don’t like being in the spotlight. I didn’t have kids to be in some bizarre public spotlight. This is just our life. A life that I could do without the snide commentary on.

And I’d like my kids not to feel like outcasts, particularly from adults who should know better. (And especially from adults who are expecting a tip from my order for 7 people!) I don’t need pity. My kids don’t need pity.

I wanted to tell these Waffle House workers that yes, the children are all mine and I thank God that I get to be their mom every day. Yes, I am pregnant again, and I find it just as miraculous as I did the first time. The infertile couple now has six, count them, six children! That is what God can do. I’m amazed. Still. Yes, my heart is very blessed and I am very thankful. And while I am glad that God has given these to me, it does make me sad that so many people are so clueless to the blessings that children can be. I am glad that it is me, but I would like for you to be just as blessed, if not more! Yes, my hands are full. My life is full. My house is full. The car is full. All things I am extremely thankful for. My days are filled with a thousand hugs and kisses. (Even kisses on my hands like I am some kind of Queen because my 3 year old insists on kissing my hands all the time.) No, there are no multiples in the bunch. Not in my belly. Not at the tables. I’m not sure why this is disappointing or surprising. Those boys you think are triplets are 3, 5, and 7. They aren’t that close in age. Sorry to disappoint you. Yes, God has given me more patience with the passing years. It is one of the miracles of motherhood, that God uses it to make us better, to make us holier people. Each child makes me a better person if I can let go of myself long enough to let God change me. I didn’t start this journey with unnatural patience. I still don’t claim to have that much, but proof that I endured this barrage of negativity is probably proof that I do, indeed, have more than I once did. But I am happy. We are happy. This is our life. We’re living it like everyone else here right now, eating Waffle House for breakfast on a Tuesday. And we’re enjoying it. My kids are not burdens. They are not problems to be dealt with. They are awesome little people that I am lucky enough to know.

But I didn’t. Instead, I ordered. I pretended the comments didn’t bother me. I helped my kids cut their waffles. I held it in, knowing that just days ago, I encountered encouraging people who helped build me up. I held it in knowing that I knew what they didn’t- we are happy, all of us, and that is something. I let them overcharge me for my meal. I tipped without a grudge. And I hoped that maybe later, we’ll come across some more of those encouraging people who make the days easier. And hoping that I could be that encouraging person that makes someone else’s days easier.

A Name!!!

We have decided on a name for baby Charlie! Although, I am hormonal and a bit crazy, so you may want to refrain from embroidering anything until the birth certificate is all filled out. (Unless you want a crazy baby momento, which I’m cool with.)

Ransom Jonathan

If you know us, you know we’ll be calling him by the name we’ve given him, which would be Ransom. As a name, Ransom means “warrior’s shield”  or “deliverance; rescue.” It is Old English and was most popular during the Victorian Era. You may also know the name from Ransom Eli Olds; American automobile pioneer after whom Oldsmobile was named. You may also recognize the name from C.S. Lewis’s space trilogy. (Out of The Silent Planet, Perelandra,  and That Hideous Strength)

As you well know, we choose Biblical middle names. But not any old Biblical name or word will do. We specifically choose for each child a namesake with characteristics we would like our child to emulate or possess. (Or traits we think they may already possess. I tell you, I know a lot about these babies in utero.) Imogene’s namesake is Ruth, the image of friendship and compassion. Aidan’s namesake is Peter, the rock that the early church relied upon. Emery’s namesake is Silas, a faithful missionary companion. Ransom’s namesake will be Jonathan, another image of friendship and doing the right thing, not the easiest. “As iron sharpens iron so does one man another.” That is something I hope for Ransom. I can tell you, he is less fiery than the other boys. He seems more calm and more still in spirit. I anticipate him being a good listener. Though he does seem that he will be strong at times. He isn’t weak, by any means, simply quietly strong. (And that, in no way means he is better or worse than the other boys, just his own unique person.) We’ll see how right I am about those things.

So, there you have it at long last. A real name for the little guy! And look, I’m 4 weeks ahead of schedule. I had set the date for choosing the name at 34 weeks, and I got something done early! Of course, nothing else is done, but he’ll have a name when he comes out even if he doesn’t have a place to sleep (other than in my arms).

Hello, Third Trimester!

So, that picture is really from 27 weeks, which I count as the last week of my second trimester, but really it is close enough. I’m into my last trimester with this baby! Yay! Not that I’ve been rushing through this pregnancy, but all good things must come to an end. And I won’t lie, I’ve been pretty uncomfortable lately.

Thanks to Spinning Babies, Charlie is head down! At 20 weeks, he was breech. At 24 weeks, he was transverse. At 28 weeks, he is vertex. I know, it is early to even be concerned about, but with my wonky uterus, I tend to worry early since the baby gets stuck in his position early. I’ve been reading up on Spinning Babies and doing the exercises and the postural suggestions. The Pastor thought I was crazy, but Charlie is head down! Apparently I’m not crazy. Hopefully the hip circle mocking will now stop, since I’ve proved it was worth it. I’m pretty excited about him being head down. My c-section with Aidan was because he was breech (and I was with a doctor who didn’t have the skills to deliver a breech vaginally). With Emery, I had an early external version at 25 weeks and he stayed head down from that point on. So, I’m hoping (and reasonably expecting) that Charlie will stay put as well. If you are pregnant, you should check out Spinning Babies to get baby in the best position for birth.

I had to go to Labor and Delivery at 27 weeks. Yeah, I know, I didn’t tell anyone about my little visit to the hospital. I tend to have lots and lots of Braxton Hicks while pregnant. So, I keep an eye on them and call the doctor if they get out of hand. At 27 weeks, they got a little out of hand. I managed to get them back under control, only they were still coming every two to three an hour and they were accompanied by back pain and pelvic pressure. So, I went in just to make sure things were alright. (I fully expected that everything was fine, but it is sometime prudent to check out such things just in case. And The Pastor was freaking out. You’d think he had never gone through any of this before.) They hooked me up to the monitors and did an FFN. The contractions were fizzling out and the FFN was negative. Turns out, the pelvic pressure is because he is head down and very low. No cervical changes or anything, so all is well. We’ve also decided not to keep repeating the FFNs. I am pretty confident that I’m fine and am not concerned enough to need the reassurance of biweekly FFNs. (Women in other circumstances may need them, but in my case, I don’t.) The annoying part of my visit to Labor and Delivery was with the lady checking me in. First, she asked me why I was coming in today. Um… hello! Because I’m having contractions. Then, she asked me my due date. I tell her July 3rd. She then looks at me, looks at my belly, looks back at my face and asks, “Is it twins?” She was super excited at that prospect. I quickly informed her that there was only one in there. She didn’t look convinced, but luckily didn’t have the nerve to press it.

In 3 weeks, I’ll be getting steroid injections for baby Charlie’s lungs. Since all my boys have had NICU stays with breathing problems, we’re going the steroid route to try and avoid another NICU stay. Baby Charlie is, in fact, a boy. We got that verified at my appointment this week. We are hoping the steroids will help his lungs mature. I told The Pastor that I would now carry him to 39 weeks because I prepared for an early delivery. That is how these things works, right?

We are still working on a name for Charlie. No, we are not naming him Charlie. It isn’t even in the running. We’re getting closer to a real name, I think. Hopefully we’ll have something to announce in the next week or two in that department. Imogene is voting we name him Leo. She says that is just the most perfect boy name. Luckily we don’t let our kids name their siblings. I told her when she’s having a baby, she can name him whatever she wants.

Birthing From Within

I’ve been reading the book Birthing From Within by Pam England. I’m not usually the touchy, feel-y type, but I have been opening myself to new experiences this pregnancy. I’m not usually one for sentimentality. But for some reason, with this pregnancy, I am much more sensitive. I find myself touched by things that usually pass by me unnoticed. I thought Birthing From Within would be a good book for me with this pregnancy.

I will say that some of the art things suggested in the book seemed odd to me. However, since I was opening myself to the new experience and submitting myself to Pam’s expertise in the area, I went with them and did it anyway. (You shouldn’t hope to see any of my birth art. I may be crafty, but I’m no artist. Those will be staying in my little birth notebook.) The art did help me really see how I view birth. It also helped me see what my ideal birth would be. (And no, the birth I am planning is not ideal, but my situation is not ideal. So, I am at peace with my current plans and am working to make them as close to the ideal as possible.) Drawing pictures of how I view birth and how I view myself as a pregnant woman was pretty eye opening. I just went with what came to mind and found that I am not as “all together” as I thought. It made me realize that I do need more. More confidence in my body as the Creation of God. More connection in childbirth to all the women who have given birth before me and will give birth after me. I need to see the wisdom in women.

That is where I’ll be asking you (and I’ll be sending a message out on the old evil Facebook tonight… just kidding Facebook, don’t block me or anything for saying you’re evil!) to help. Every woman, regardless of her birth experience, has wisdom to share about their birth. You may not feel like you’ve got anything to offer, that your births are so different from mine or so far from ideal that you’ve got nothing to share. But you do. If you’ll take the time to look back at your birth and answer a few questions, you’ll see how much you have to share with women like me. And hopefully you’ll share it with me if you are comfortable with that. Here is what you can do:

– Write your birth story from your perspective. Don’t worry about it being the right or wrong perception or that your feelings about the birth were right or wrong. Look at the birth for what it was, not what you had hoped it would be.

– Answer the following questions as you can: (#1-#4 are from the book.)

1. What helped you most when you gave birth?

2. What was your spiritual experience as you gave birth?

3. If you could do it over again, what would you do the same? What would you have done differently?

4. What do you wish you had known beforehand?

5. Did giving birth change you? In what ways?

– If you are comfortable with it, would you e-mail me your birth story and answers when you’re done? (Or if we are friends on Facebook, you can message me.) I’m hoping that through this I can glean your wisdom as mothers. (My e-mail address is marbleducks@yahoo.com.)

I thank you in advance. Hopefully, this will be eye opening for you, too. My hope is that you see the wisdom in yourself and can grow because of that. If you are a pregnant mom needing to get out of your head with birth and get into your body, I recommend reading Birthing From Within.