Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Why this time around my birth plan is to not have one

When I was pregnant with my first child three years ago I faced labor and delivery with a much different mindset. Before I even went into the hospital, I gave my doctor a typed two page birth plan that included things like being able to bounce on the birthing ball and no nurse should even attempt to give my baby a bottle of formula because I was exclusively breastfeeding. The fact that my doctor managed to take this with a straight face is a testament to how amazing she is. The only thing she said was to me was it's great to have a plan, but plans can sometimes change. I however, was convinced that I would be having a natural birth where at the end I would fall in love and bond immediately with my newborn daughter. I rode that high horse all the way into the delivery room. Do you know what will knock you off a high horse real quick? Twenty five hours of labor. Nothing went as planned. I bounced on the birthing ball for maybe all of one hour until I had to lay flat in one position on the bed. Any type of turning would cause my daughter's heart rate to lower. I went into labor at 4:30 pm on Friday and by Saturday morning nothing was progressing except the stress of my baby. The doctors decided to dose me with Pitocin to get things moving. I was convinced I could still handle this naturally. After all, I'd been training for this for months now. It took about 30 minutes of those contractions until I was begging for an epidural. After another eight or so hours of labor, I finally had my girl. And do you know what I felt? Exhausted and terrified that I would be responsible for this little stranger. My experience was not the one I had been dreaming about for the last few months. It took me a couple weeks, but eventually I felt bonded with the new addition to our family. I never got the nursing thing down great, but managed to hang on for around 4 months until I switched to bottles.

I learned a great deal from that experience. With my second baby I've decided to stop trying to control and plan every detail of this birth. I've made a couple requests for after this birth like skin on skin contact right away if possible and waiting to clamp the umbilical cord, but I am no where close to the orders I practically gave the hospital last time. I'm much more relaxed about the whole process. I am trusting that God has a great plan for me and this girl, and while I will do my part it is up to Him for the outcome. Before I felt so much pressure to bond with my baby right away, but this time I know that if I don't feel a rush of love at first it WILL come. As for breastfeeding, I am going to try that again but I'm leaving the door open to supplementing if I need to.

I don't think there is anything wrong with aiming for a natural birth or having a birth plan. I've just learned that in my situation things almost never go exactly as planned and if I have realistic expectations, I am much more likely to enjoy whatever situation or relationship I am in the midst of. And I have the mindset that this could be my last birth and pregnancy so I want to soak up every bit of it as much as possible. For me to do that I have to let go of my natural control freak tendencies and let God take over. He does a much better job than me!

Monday, March 23, 2015

38 weeks

I am getting so close to meeting this new baby girl and I couldn't be more excited. I'll have to say I have been exhausted beyond belief the last couple weeks. Not sure if it has to do with just my pregnancy or the fact that I have a three year old who follows me around constantly saying "Mommy, watch this". All I know is experiencing pregnancy with a toddler has been a lot different than when it was only Jared and I. At 38 weeks I have:

1. Stopped caring about my weight. I'm over it. I fought the good fight and now I'm done. I don't even get upset anymore when I see a number I did not envision this time around.

2. Also stopped caring about working out. While I do still try to get in a walk, I figure that raising a three year old is a good enough workout until after this baby comes. The thought of trying to find a workout shirt that covers my huge bump is too much effort, I'd rather stay at home. I am however going ahead and planning out my workout routine for after the baby comes.

3. Two shirts left that fit. That goes along with the dilemma of finding a shirt to workout in. My bump has grown so much in the last 3 weeks that all my maternity shirts stopped covering it except two and I absolutely refuse to spend more money on clothes I only will wear for 2 weeks or less.

4. Realized once again what an amazing husband I have. He has seriously been incredible about picking up the slack for me in areas like cleaning or chasing Avery around. I don't know how I would do this without him.

5. Learned to not underestimate the power of prayer and a good chiropractor. When I found out this girl was breech, I had a major freak out. I did not want a c-section. Obviously, if that was the healthiest route I would have taken it, but I was desperate to avoid going in that direction if I could. I spent a good amount of time praying that this baby would turn and so did my family and friends. I also went to my chiropractor. It took two appointments and this baby had turned into the head down position. Needless to say I was incredibly happy and grateful to God and my doctor.

Besides the last few weeks of fatigue and endless leg pain, I have been very blessed with this pregnancy. I am looking forward to welcoming this newest addition.

This girl has her one spot in my belly that she loves.

Avery's been breaking in our Mamaroo with her "babies".

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Taking Personal Responsbility

Up until my early twenties I spent the majority of my life blaming those around me for the circumstances I was in. And while they had contributed to some of them, they certainly weren't making me stay in them. I was choosing to wallow and play the victim in my life. There wasn't anything wrong with me having to grieve the loss of my childhood, but staying stuck there in blame and resentment wasn't doing me any favors in my adult life. At some point, I had to stop playing the victim and start being the woman God created me to be.

It's never easy breaking old patterns. Since I grew up in a home with addiction, I hadn't seen the practice of taking personal responsibility modeled much. Justification abounded in my home and I learned early how to defend and excuse my own bad choices. It took me a long time to realize there were other options available to me besides remaining in the cycle of destructive patterns and chaos. Once I did, my life that was once unmanageable started coming together.

I started slowly with taking responsibility for the situations and people I put myself around. No became a much more used word in my vocabulary. Eventually I moved on to taking responsibility for my relationships, marriage, finances, health, parenting, etc...

I definitely believe that God is the one in control of my life. I do think that I partner much better with Him when I am able to take responsibility for myself and my choices. If I find myself struggling with a sin or fear, I respond much quicker now by claiming it and praying over it. I have much more confidence in my abilities as a wife and Mother. My marriage has grown because instead of spending the majority of my time trying to fix my husband, I work on myself and let God do the rest. I've started taking more of a proactive role in parenting since God has given me the responsibility of teaching my children.

I know taking responsibility for our own junk can be hard and scary at times, because it means we are the ones who have to do the work to change. We might even have to face some hard truths or hurts, but it is so worth the effort.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Making the Bible fun for my Toddler

It is incredibly important to me to teach my child God's word at a young age. And while knowing Scripture is amazing, I also want Avery to love it. My desire is that the Word penetrates her heart instead of loading her up with only head knowledge. Avery doesn't seem to be an auditory learner. While she loves when I read her big picture Bible to her, getting her to sit still and listen during family devotions or while we read straight from the Bible is another story. Since I'm leaning towards homeschooling her, I've been incorporating school into some of our days and the Bible curriculum I have has been difficult in keeping her interested. She normally zones out or starts getting all fidgety which results in me getting frustrated. I realized I was going to have to come up with something different if she was going to enjoy getting to know God's word and I was going to enjoy teaching her. I'm learning that the best way to capture her attention is to make something fun and hands on. Which is why I decided to stop stressing about her sitting still and instead make our Bible lesson a time of fun and interaction.

If Avery can play or act out stories from the Bible, she can retain the information much better. The Bible comes alive to her and the details stay in her head. I have found that any story in the Bible becomes interesting to my toddler when she gets to act it out with stuffed animals, her Little People and various other objects around her room. We have even turned a princess castle into the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

This has been such a great, simple way to help Avery understand and love the stories in the Bible.

The passengers getting ready to board the ark.

We discovered Avery's throw pillow made a great Easter tomb.

As Avery gets older, I am seeing the importance of really getting to know her. Her personality type, love language, learning style...discovering these things about her not is not only equipping me to understand her much better, but it is also giving me the opportunity to be much more effective in her life.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Toddler Room with a Play Area

Since the new baby will be taking up our additional bedroom, I needed to make Avery's room as function as possible with a big play area. I plan on adding back a playroom/school room after about a year and our new addition is sleeping through the night, but until then I wanted the girls in separate rooms. It was more challenging than I thought coming up with a way to make her room a play area and stay organized at the same time. I also wanted it to have some personal touches that she really loved. I know this room will continually be evolving (it still needs a rug and curtains), but we have come such a long way since moving in.

This wall is my favorite part of her room. I bought the A at Hobby Lobby and the star and wreath at a local antique store. My husband made her book rack and her Pottery Barn chair fits in perfectly beside it. I bought a wicker chest from Hobby Lobby to hold her toys and it fits great behind her bed.

I found that a day bed was the best option for Avery's room to give her maximum play space. It also has a trundle underneath for when she starts having friends or cousins spend the night. The bed was originally a khaki color, but we repainted it white. I love her throw pillows from Land of Nod.

Avery begged for a purple room and while I wasn't crazy about the idea of it, I wanted to show her that I do care about what she likes. Since I wanted to put in a good amount of color, I found that this banner from Land of Nod was great for pulling in all different colors.

I love her new big girl room and am glad we managed to get most of it done before the new baby comes. Now she has her own space that she can enjoy and meets her needs.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Tales from A Recovering Perfectionist- Learning to relax in my parenting

Pregnancy has been great in revealing me to how much of a perfectionist I can still be in my life. When I entered my eighth month I started finding myself much more limited in the amount of work and effort I could put into things. Just like my child is a great mirror of my weak areas, I have found that pregnancy too has been bringing my areas of perfectionism to the surface.

I've always had a tendency to compare myself to other moms or the countless pictures on the internet that push me to strive harder to improve the outward appearance of our lives and my parenting. Even simple things like play dates and crafts started making me feel like I had to be putting an intense amount of effort into transforming everything into something more magical, more beautiful. I had gotten to a place where I was measuring my parenting by the world's standards instead of the biblical standards that were once so important to me.

I'm not saying there is anything wrong with making the outside beautiful. On the contrary, I strongly believe in delighting in the beauty of my child and the every day things around us. But, there is something wrong when that becomes my focus and become more concerned with how a picture looks on Instagram than I am the inward behavior of mine and my child's heart.

Pregnancy has forced me to take a deep breathe and slow down. I barely have the energy to clean my house, much less spend hours coming up with creative ideas for playtime or projects. At first, I fought the idea of giving up control and spending time lounging around with my family. It was hard and I struggled a lot with feeling less than in my roles as Christian, wife and mother. Now I can see how I've actually become a much better mother by learning to relax, enjoy, and savor my relationship with my daughter. I've discovered that my child doesn't need an elaborate sign for a pretend pet shop. A piece of paper I write on delights her just as much. She could care less about those things as long as I am playing with her. I've found myself having more time to pay attention to the little details that mean so much to her. Details like looking in her eyes when she is talking to me and really listening. Or being completely present while playing dolls with her instead of rushing to get to the mile long to do list in my head.

Since I've taken a break from some of the outward, the inward is becoming much more vital and important to me. I'm wanting to spend the bulk of my time speaking into her heart. Praying with her. Becoming less about law and more about grace. Even her clothes choices or the way she wants to wear her hair are becoming opportunities for me to learn her and the personality God has blessed her with. More of my time is being spent disciplining, encouraging, and instructing. By letting go, I'm becoming a student of my daughter.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

My Pregnancy and OCD

For as long as I can remember, I've struggled with obsessive compulsive disorder. In the last couple years I have really found what works for me in managing it. Natural supplements, exercise, faith, diet and a little bit of modern medicine had made it almost undetectable in my life. Which is why deciding to try and get pregnant again was a huge leap of faith for me. I knew it was going to be a hard nine months. I had to drop my medicine before I even got pregnant. My supplements went next. I maintained my diet and exercise routine for the first 5 months, but after that it slowly dropped off. I just don't have the energy to be as diligent about it as I was before I became pregnant. Especially since I spend my time chasing around a very active three year old. Needless to say, the last couple months have been extremely difficult. And as I get further along and my body changes even more, I can tell it has really started to take a toll on me. I can't seem to get certain thoughts and fears out of my head, plus I'm having a hard time feeling like I'm connecting spiritually.

I think in today's world it can be hard to admit that we struggle in areas like this. I know I feel as though I should have everything together, all the time. It's easy to feel like a less than stellar wife and Christian right now. I'm learning that sometimes in my life there will be seasons like this that are full of constant struggle. Where I just can't seem to find the way out. And I'm beginning to accept that. To fight against the lies and embrace the truth that God loves and accepts me in this season. That nothing I do affects His great love for me. I've had people tell me that I just need to be praying more or claiming more victory, but truth is for me there are some things that no matter how much I pray they just don't magically disappear. Who knows if OCD is purely chemical or spiritual? Or maybe it's a mix of everything. I don't know. All I do know is that it plays a part in my life right now. I'm finding freedom in taking a step back and allowing myself to relax in the struggle. To stop fighting so hard to get everything under control and trusting that God is going to get me through this season and bring good out of it.