Category Archives: Adoption and Motherhood

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Cloth Diapers in the 21st Century

So you may or may not have picked up on the latest craze in cloth diapering in the last few years. If you follow any kind of mom group or Facebook page you will probably have come across someone, who knows someone, who is cloth diapering. You may have even seen them featured on Shark Tank. In an effort to save money, to keep my baby more comfortable, and to seek a more natural solution to disposable diapers I chose to cloth diaper Luke from birth AND I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT!

Now, its not what you think. Cloth has come a long way from the archaic methods of the past. These days when I say “Pin it” I’m not talking about diaper pins. A whole new world has opened up and its going to blow your mind.

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There are several different types of cloth diapers to choose from now. The basic three are All in Ones (AIOs), Pockets, or Pre-folds.  They are made of a state-of-the-art breathable plastic lined fabric called PUL. The insides are lined with highly absorbent fabrics like cotton, microfiber, hemp, bamboo, or fleece.

  • AIOs are virtually the same as a disposable in that all you do is put the diaper on the baby. All the absorbent fabric is sewn right in and you wash the whole thing in one piece. They do take at least an hour, and usually two hours to dry in the dryer.
  • Pockets are similar, but they feature a pocket where you stuff separate inserts. The nice thing about this is that you can change what sort of insert you use based on your baby’s needs. This also means that the diapers wash and dry much more quickly because the inserts come out in the wash. They require extra time to stuff the diapers each time you wash which is annoying to some people.
  • Pre-folds are the old fashioned fold on diaper, but now they come with super awesome diaper covers with a plastic PUL lining that keeps them from leaking. They are also made much better than the old fashioned ones your mom used. They are thicker and way more absorbent. They are also a cheaper option and make great burp cloths.

This is what the Modern Cloth Diapers look like:

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7 Things I’ll Bet You Didn’t Know About Modern Cloth Diapering

1. You don’t have to use pins –                                                               velcro-or-snap-cloth-diapers

New cloth diapers come in either velcro or snap closures. They’re easy as pie! Its basically just like a disposable. You just put the diaper on the baby and close er’ on up. And if you still want to use pre-fold diapers (which is totally doable!) there’s a new invention for them too! Its called the snappi.

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Its sort of like the teeth on an ace bandage, except its plastic and rubber. prefold-snappiThere’s no need to worry about sticking your baby anymore. My mom tells an awesome story about how she was trying to change my brother’s diaper and my sister stuck diaper pins in their water bed and water was squirting everywhere. I picture my mother looking like Lucille Ball, trying to hold the baby and wrangle my toddler sister all while trying to put a finger on each hole. Hilarious as this picture is to me, it is a thing of the past.

2. They’re easy to wash-                                                                             We don’t have a diaper service in my area, but its really not a big deal to wash them myself. You see, there’s this fantastic invention called a Washing Machine that cleans the diapers for you! I know, I know… you thought you were going to have to go down to the river with a washing board and go to town on those bad boys. Nope, you can just throw them in and the machine actually does the work. Amazing, I know. What will they come up with next?! Many people act like washing cloth diapers is a crazy science but its really not. Don’t listen to anyone when they tell you to use special soap, or to only use a tbsp of detergent. Its not true. Because my baby is exclusively breastfed, his poop is water soluble, so there’s no need to rinse the diapers off or anything before I wash them. I use Tide powder, the same amount I would use for a regular load of laundry, I throw the diapers in (poop and all), I do a hot presoak and an extra rinse, and then I tumble dry them on medium heat. That’s all she wrote! There’s no big secret.

3. Chemicals in disposables are toxic!

disposable-diaper-gel-sapYou know when a disposable diaper gets full and you can tell the baby needs to be changed because it gets all saggy and hangs between their legs? Have you ever seen one of those full diapers break open and all the weird gel stuff spills out? Did you know that substance used to be used in Tampons but had to be removed after is was found to cause Toxic Shock Syndrome? The diaper companies claim that these chemicals are in trace amounts and are not harmful to the baby, but when can you ever trust a manufacturer’s claims about anything? Perhaps it does not cause TSS in such small doses (I’m not buying it), but it is certainly a skin irritant and can cause diaper rash and chemical burn. I personally don’t want to take the risk. Read more about some of the toxic chemicals found in disposable diapers here.

4. It is WAY cheaper to use cloth - 

Because these modern cloth diapers are so well made and last for so long they are a little bit more of an investment on the front end. They average in cost around $15 each new and even cheaper if you get them second hand, but that is a one time investment because the diapers are adjustable fit which mean they can be used for the same baby from birth to potty training. And if they are well cared for they can be used for future babies, making the cost even lower. Depending on how often you want to do laundry you will need between 12 and 36 diapers in your “stash.” So for between $300-$500 you can diaper several children from birth to potty. Plus if you decide to go the old fashioned route, prefolds are even cheaper running around $4 each. Disposables are much more expensive as you can see in the infographic below.

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5. Bye Bye blowouts!                                                                                   I’ll spare you an image to prove my point (although a quick google image search and you’ll find plenty of evidence). If you’ve used disposables for any length of time you’re all too familiar with the good ol’ fashioned blowout. It happens because disposables are flat against the baby’s back and it just can’t hold in a serious poop. I’ve been cloth diapering for 3 months and have yet to have a single blowout. Don’t believe me? Just ask anyone who cloth diapers and I’ll bet you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who has experienced a blowout in cloth. Its because they are so absorbent, and are lined with elastic around the legs and waist. When they are put on properly and tightly they will hold everything in beautifully!

6. The environmental effect of disposable is huge –

Did you know that disposable diapers are the #1 single use item found in landfills? Now I’m not a big environmentalist activist by any stretch but I do believe that we should be good stewards of the planet that God has given us, and we should leave this place in one piece so these babies can still have a beautiful place to live and grow up. Here is an awesome image that shows just how many diapers end up in the trash.

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7. They’re super cute!

Oh girrrrrrrl, don’t even get me started on how CUTE these things are! I’m slightly addicted. There are so many precious colors and patterns to choose from, and they look adorable all by themselves, no need for a diaper cover to hide those lame looking disposables. You could seriously get lost in the world of adorable cloth.

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Post-partum gift basket and meal delivery

This year not only did God bless us with our own baby boy, but my sister also had a baby giving me my precious niece who was born on New Year’s Eve! Brooke is just two months younger than Luke and I know they will be best buddies. He is so much bigger than her! She was born at just under 6lbs and my tubby boy is already 15lbs!

big-baby-little-baby-homemakerchicMy sister has notoriously easy births and this one was no different. She had a very short labor and Brooke was born after one push. I got to be right there with her to support her through her first natural delivery.

Since I just had a baby there were lots of things that I knew my sister would need for her post-partum recovery, so I put together a practical gift basket for her. This is a great gift for a baby shower, or to bring to the hospital. My dear friend Kelly made a similar basket for me and it was so helpful!post-partum-basket

Here’s what I included:

  • Heavy Flow Maxi Pads
  • Stool Softener (that first post birth poop can be daunting, and the stool softener really helps!)
  • Advil
  • Iron Supplement (for blood loss)
  • Lip Balm
  • Mother’s Milk Tea (to support breastmilk supply)
  • Summer’s Eve Intimate Wash
  • Tucks Pads
  • Coffee & Chocolate (In limited amounts if breastfeeding)
  • Nipple Cream
  • Washable Cotton Breast Pads
  • Flushable wipes (to help stay fresh)

After Luke was born, I was blessed by some very sweet friends from church who brought over meals for us. So i decided to pay it forward and bring some meals to my sister (and her family of 7!) I took the idea of a very sweet friend from my bible study who made up some Chicken pot pie filling and brought some pie crusts. All I had to do was pour the filling into a pie dish, unroll the crust onto the top, and pop it in the oven. We also put together two crock pot ready beef stew bags that can be stored in the freezer. (The beer is for the stew)post-partum-meals postpartum-meals

Here are the recipes:

Chicken Pot Pie-

Makes 2 pies

3 Chicken Breasts- cubed into 1cm pieces

2 cups of Carrots- thinly sliced

2 cups of Celery- thinly sliced

1 cup of Onion- finely chopped

2 cups of potatoes – cubed into 1 cm pieces

2 cups frozen peas or green beans (my sister hates peas)

1/4 cup Madeira wine or Brandy (optional)

1 tsp tarragon

2 tsp parsley

1 tsp celery salt

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp pepper

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 cups chicken stock

1/2 stick butter

3 T flour

S&P to taste

1 box of ready-made pie crust

In a medium soup pot cook the onions in 1 T butter and a little chicken stock. When they are translucent, add the spices and the chicken and cook until chicken is done. Add carrots, celery, and potatoes and 2 cups of stock. Simmer until potatoes are soft but not fully cooked (about 80% done). There will be a little juice left. In a small saucepan make a roux by melting 2 T butter and whisking in the flour. Cook on med-low heat until it thickens and the “floury” smell subsides, about 5 minutes. Slowly add the Madeira and cook for another 2-3 minutes until the alcohol is cooked out. Pour the remaining juice from the pot into the roux. Add the cream and remaining butter and whisk for 2-3 minutes until the sauce thickens. Pour over the chicken and vegetables and mix well. Allow to cool then divide into two large freezer bags. When it is time to prepare, instruct the New Mom to pour one bag into a deep dish pie plate, unroll one crust on top, and bake for 20-25 minutes on 350. If she wants, she can do a top crust and a bottom crust, and also do an egg wash on top. If you plan for her to do a bottom crust, be sure to provide her with two packages of pie crust.

“Scarborough Fair” Crock Pot Beef Stew

Makes 2 Stews

  • 2 lbs Stew Beef Cubed
  • 4 cups small carrots
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 2 small red onions
  • 2 cups mushrooms quartered
  • 2 Bottles of Dark Beer
  • 2 tsp parsley
  • 6 fresh sage leaves
  • 4 tsp crushed rosemary
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 4 T Olive Oil

This one is easy. Chop the veggies into uniform 1 inch pieces. Divide everything evenly between two large freezer bags. Shake. When it is time to cook instruct the new mom to dump one bag into a crock pot, pour one entire beer over top, fill the bottle with water and add that to the pot as well. Stew for 6-7 hours. For a thicker stew- mix 2 T flour into half cup cold water. Pour into stew during last 30 minutes of cook time.

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The Miracle of a Little Baby Boy

Almost two months ago my little miracle was born. This sweet boy, who changed everything, emerged from behind the veil.

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Every birth is truly a miracle when one considers all that must be aligned for life to be created and brought into this world. But some births seems slightly more miraculous than others. If you’ve struggled with infertility or recurrent miscarriages you have an idea what I’m talking about. When you’ve waited so long to meet that sweet child, it almost seems unreal when he finally gets here. When you’ve waited so long… it can be hard to believe.

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As I consider the season of advent I’m thinking of Mary, the mother of Jesus and the birth of her miracle baby. Her people had been waiting for this King for thousands of years. But they never expected him to come as a baby. I remember being so very surprised to be pregnant, just as Mary was (although I’m sure she was probably a LOT more shocked than I was!). I think about the reality of what her situation might have been like as a pregnant young woman. She might have had morning sickness, swollen ankles, difficulty sleeping, food aversions, even stretch marks. I think about those last days of her pregnancy. The journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem was a long one, and though legend tells that Mary rode a donkey, there is no mention of her riding a donkey in Scripture. Being as poor as they were, Mary and Joseph more than likely had to walk the nearly 80 miles to Joseph’s hometown for the census. I think about the last days of my pregnancy how Adam and I took many long walks to prepare my body for labor, and how everyone told us that it might help start the contractions.

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I imagine her first few contractions. She was a very young girl so she may not have known what to expect, but then again she probably saw many farm animals give birth. I wonder if it was a long labor? I wonder if Joseph was a patient and supportive birth coach? Perhaps God showed mercy on the mother of our Savior and gave her a quick and easy labor. Or maybe, like me, she had a very long, intense, labor. Was Jesus, God incarnate, in optimal position for birth? Perhaps he was breech. Or, most mystifying and wonderful a thought to me, perhaps Immanuel was born in the caul, behind the veil, like my own son.

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Was Jesus a colicky baby? Did he spit up all over Joseph’s tunic? Did he pee all over Mary while she was changing him? (lol Luke has done this several times). Did he love to be rocked and nursed to sleep? What must it have felt like to kiss the velvety forehead of the tiny baby Jesus?

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Have you ever imagined these details?

The truth is that none of this matters, except to say that this child, the miraculous birth of this tiny baby boy, was real! It is so much more real to me as I look into the eyes of my own son this Christmas. I wonder what it must have felt like for Mary to carry this baby, to go through the pain of natural childbirth, then to hold him in her arms knowing that he was the God of the Universe. Considering the logistics of all this gives new meaning to the humble beginnings of Christ, and what an incredible thing it was for Him to come the way he did. I am still stunned that I finally have this boy, but imagine how much more amazed Mary was, that not only did she have a beautiful Son, but to know that he was the long awaited Messiah must have just been overwhelming.

This year I am blessed beyond measure and at times I just can’t take in all that God has lavished upon me. Between post-partum hormones, freely flowing oxytocin from breastfeeding, and the simple joy that I have knowing that Jesus loves me, and cares for me, and came to this planet to save you and me, I have found myself in tears on many occasions over the last eight weeks.When I look at Luke, I forget all the heartache of the last few years, and all I see is hope. Mary must have been overtaken with emotions staring directly into the sweet little face of the newborn Christ because He was and is the hope of a nation… He is the hope of the world.

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This year I pray that you consider the reality of what happened on that first Christmas and what it means for you if you believe.

And now, since you are all so awesome. I thought I’d give you a little visual snack as a Christmas gift. Who doesn’t love seeing amazing photos of adorable babies? One of my dear readers, Niko Williams, found my blog on Pinterest, and it turns out we’re neighbors! Is that a God thing or what? She took these photos of Luke when he was 12 days old. I am simply overwhelmed with JOY! :)

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This has been another amazing year here at Homemaker Chic. I have been so blessed by so many readers who have written to me to share how my story has inspired and encouraged them. I am very thankful for all of you! My hope is that this blog, and my story will always bring glory and honor to God because He is the reason I can speak about these things. Merry Christmas – I love you all!

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A Homemaker Chic Birth Story!

Well today is my birthday. My 29th birthday to be exact. This year has been a whirlwind and I finally got the most precious gift of all. You’ve probably guessed by now that my little Luke has finally arrived! A lot has happened since my last post, and I’ve been very busy acclimating to this new thing called motherhood. I’m sure you’re all very curious to hear about when and how my sweet little boy came to be. So since we’re talking about birthdays, I’ll tell you about Luke’s. Its a very long story but what else would you expect after such a long journey to get our little miracle!  noelleandluke

The week before my due date I began experiencing light contractions at night. They lasted for several hours at about 10 minutes apart, but finally subsiding by morning. They were mild and inconsistent but still I wondered if labor was coming soon. In the following days I began taking long walks, eating dates (apparently they are supposed to help bring on labor) and then on my due date, Saturday, October 26, I took a bath with a few drops of Clary Sage oil, and rubbed some of the oil on my ankles, feet, hands and belly. The next morning at 7am I woke up to a stronger contraction than what I had experienced earlier in the week. By 9 am I my husband and I were discussing whether we should stay behind from church. The contractions were steadily coming at about 12 minutes apart and were definitely getting more intense, but were still mild and manageable. I called my midwife and she agreed that I was probably in the early stages of labor. So, Adam and I enjoyed our last morning together just the two of us and had breakfast out on our porch. Adam played “Danny’s Song” for me on the guitar and I couldn’t help but cry because I knew this was it. We were finally going to meet our long awaited son.

This is me about 3 hours into labor.

This is me about 3 hours into labor.

In the afternoon, after church, my mom and sister arrived at the house to wait things out with us. The women in my family have had notoriously quick and easy births so they didn’t want to miss anything if my labor began to progress quickly. Around 2:30pm I decided to drink the strong RLT brew that I’ve told you about. It turns out it didn’t do much for me. Sorry to disappoint you, I had high hopes for it, but alas it was debunked. By 4pm my contractions had moved to about 7 minutes apart and I began to feel the first signs of back labor. It was getting to where I could no longer hold a conversation, and the only thing that really helped with the pain was for my husband to push hard on my back during each contraction. At 7pm the contractions were about 3 minutes apart, and I started bleeding a little bit. We called my midwife and she said the bleeding was likely due to my cervix dilating and we decided it was time to go to the birthing center. Everything was already packed and ready to go and luckily the birthing center is only about 5 minutes from my house, so I only had to go through one contraction in the car on the way there. One of my midwives, Vicki, was waiting for us when we arrived.

By 8:30 the contractions had really become intense, and the back labor began to get incredibly uncomfortable. The uterine contractions weren’t all that bad, and if I had experienced them alone I think they would have been quite manageable, but it was the back labor that really made things difficult. Vicki felt that the baby was positioned slightly more to my right side than would be optimal for birth so she suggested that we try some “spinning babies” birthing positions to try to get his head to turn a bit. This required some help holding my body in the various positions so Adam brought my mom in from the waiting room to help. At some point, Angela, my incredible birth photographer (and doula, friend, prayer warrior, and all around amazing support!) showed up as well. This was when things began to get blurry for me. I don’t remember any more of the timing from this point on because the pain from the back labor became so intense for the rest of what would become a 30 hour labor. I don’t know what planet I was on, but it was certainly not this one. My body took over and my mind just sort of went to another place to cope with the most intense pain I’ve ever experienced in my life. I’ve spoken with several other moms who went through back labor and none of us can come up with the words to describe how painful it really is.

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My amazing husband pushed on my back for hours and hours until finally he was so exhausted that my mom and the midwife begged him to take a rest. By this point my sister, and some other nurses had come in the birthing room to support me. Some of the girls tried putting pressure on my back, but I needed it to be extremely hard to even begin to help alleviate the pressure that was pushing out from the inside. So my sister had the idea to bring in my dad from the waiting room. My dad was seriously amazing. I was not at all expecting him to be okay with being in the birthing room, but he was so awesome and helpful. He ended up being in the room with us the whole time, and he was right by my side when Luke was born.

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Between my dad and my husband, the two of them provided constant pressure on my back, which was the only thing that kept me going when I felt like my back was literally going to break in half.

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When I watched the birth video, there is footage of my sister holding my right hand, my mother holding my left hand, Adam rubbing my dad’s back and shoulders while my dad was putting pressure on my back, all while the midwife, my birth photographer and birth assistants were giving me verbal encouragement.

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The amount of support I had from my entire family and friends was absolutely inspiring. I don’t remember it, but my mom told me that there were several times where everyone stopped and just prayed over me. What a wonderful environment to bring this baby into!

Eventually the contractions got so intense that I was really feeling like I couldn’t take any more. It never occurred to me to think about going to the hospital, or to get an epidural (although I did tell my sister, who was 30 weeks pregnant at the time, to get the dang epidural! I promised her I would NOT judge.) but I definitely needed some reprieve because the back labor was non-stop. I was beginning to have back to back contractions with no break. At one point I had 4 contractions in a row, lasting about 15 minutes. I prayed, “Jesus, please help me. Please give me the strength to do this.” That was when Vicki asked if I wanted to try to Nitrous Oxide they had available and also something called a Sterile Water Injection that involved 4 shots of sterile water drops into my back. People who know me well, know that I HATE needles. Its one of the reasons why I did not want to have an epidural in the first place. So the fact that I was open to having 4 shot in my back is a testament to how severe the back labor really was. My whole family was shocked that I agreed to it. The shots stung like the dickens but really did take the edge off of the back labor. It was still very painful, but even just a tiny bit of relief was welcomed. The Nitrous helped me relax a bit. It didn’t do anything at all for the pain, it just helped me to give in to the contractions more instead of fighting them. It did give me horrible acid reflux though, but thankfully my dad always has Tums in his pocket. Sometimes the Lord gives us help in ways we don’t expect.

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I spent a lot of time laboring in the tub, and my mom said she counted 17 different laboring positions throughout the night. In the wee hours of the morning Vicki’s shift had ended and one of the other young midwives, Everly, took over, and also Mary, my sweet friend and one of the birthing assitant’s came as well. By this point the urge to push had started to come on. I began pushing in the tub and really wasn’t sure exactly what to do. Looking back, I think I expected that once I started to push I would feel a baby start to emerge pretty quickly. So I was a bit surprised when I started pushing and it didn’t feel like much was happening. It was Mary who helped me understand that I needed to be less vocal and focus the energy I was using to grunt and moan, downward to get that baby out.Talley Noelle Birth Oct 2013_142
Angela continued to remind me to keep focusing my energy down, and to relax my neck and shoulders, and my mom was an awesome coach saying, “push, push, push, push, push! Good girl!” over and over again. All the coaching from everyone really helped me a lot. My mind was so fried from the intense physical demand on my body, that I honestly couldn’t remember all the things I was taught to do. I really needed the constant reminders.

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After about 2.5 hours of pushing in the tub I was becoming exhausted. The sun had risen on October 28th, and I had been laboring throughout the night. Everly told me to feel inside the birth canal, and I could feel something like a water balloon. She said it was my baby’s head. My water had not yet broken, and he was still in the amniotic sack. So I was feeling his water bag. At one point I said, “This baby better do something impressive, like be born ‘en caul’ after putting me through all this!” In the tub I was having to hold my body up to squat and push. My legs were cramping and all my muscles were trembling. Although the baby’s head had begun to emerge, true crowning had not happened yet, and I was getting very tired. Everly was having a hard time seeing what was going on down there so she recommended I get out of the tub and move to the bed. She knew I wanted to have a water birth, but she told me that I needed to be able to lay back and rest between contractions and that I wouldn’t be mad at her later when the baby was born. She was right.

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By the time I got to the bed the baby had moved off of my spine enough to relieve some of the back labor, and laying back was a welcomed rest from the physically demanding positions I’d been in all night. My eyes were closed most of the time, but at one point I opened my eyes to see a big crowd of people. As Monday morning business began at the birthing center many of the staff began to file into the birth room to witness the arrival one of their most prayed over and long awaited babies yet. The room was full of loving friends, family, midwives, nurses and even the administrative staff! Everyone was so excited and there were lots of encouraging words as little Luke’s head became more and more visible. My mom was on the bed next to me, my sweet husband was at the end of the bed, and my dad somehow got roped into holding my leg back while I pushed. He was such a trooper! He even took the cues of the ladies in the room and began coaching me himself. It was his direction for me to focus my energy downward that really helped me in those last few pushes. That last 30 minutes or so was becoming a little discouraging. He had truly crowned and his head just seemed stuck. I felt like I was working so hard and he just wasn’t coming out. His heart rate began to drop a little bit so they gave me oxygen.

After 3.5 hours of pushing, I felt the infamous ring of fire. I knew this was it, so I focused and pushed as hard as I could. His head was out! Everyone in the room (which was about 15 people at this point) cheered! My belly was still very big, and I couldn’t really see over it. I didn’t know it yet, but my baby boy was en caul! Everly asked Adam if he wanted to catch him, and Adam attempted but seemed like he wasn’t sure what to do. At the time I didn’t know why he looked so confused, but later when I saw the video, Luke did look pretty strange still in his sack.

Everly told me to push one more time. I rested for what seemed like a very long time, and still seemed long when I watched it back on the video. You would think that I would have been so ready to get this baby out but I seriously had nothing left in me. Everyone waited patiently while I mustered up the strength for one last push. At last I found one small piece of energy and pushed like I hadn’t pushed before, and out came my precious boy behind the veil! The shoulders were a breeze and it felt so good to finally have him out. I felt a gush of water between my legs after he was out, which I found out later was the bag being broken open by Everly. She opened the bag and pulled it over his face, then immediately put him up on my tummy. The crowd cheered again, and suddenly I returned from whatever planet I had been on for the last 18 hours. It was like the second she placed him on me, my eyes opened and I woke up from the longest dream.

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So this is my birth story. I can say now that natural birth was the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. I know not everyone’s experience is as challenging as mine was, but then again most people haven’t been on the journey that I’ve been on either. I can’t say I’m surprised that it ended up this way. The whole path to meeting Luke has been arduous and incredibly demanding of my strength. The strength that I found in labor was completely rooted in what Christ has done in me over the last few years. He has taught me to trust in Him, to be patient, to listen and learn from others, and to persevere even when I’m not sure what the outcome will be. It was a long road to get here, but it was my road, and I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.

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Luke Samuel Talley was born October 28, 2013 at 1:43pm. 8Lbs 10oz. 20.5 inches. He is named for Luke in the Bible, and for Samuel whose mother Hannah struggled with infertility and God answered her prayer for a son.

 

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Photo by Niko Williams

I asked the LORD to give me this boy, and he has granted my request.”- 1 Samuel 1:27

People smile and tell me I’m the lucky one, And we’ve only just begun. Think I’m gonna have a son. He will be like she and me, as free as a dove, Conceived in love. Sun is gonna shine above. Now I see a family where the once was none. Now we’ve just begun.”-Danny’s Song

My Natural Birth Plan

homemakerchic-9monthspregnantWell I’ve made it! Today is my due date. Somehow this sweet little baby has tarried on and we’ve gotten all the way to 40 weeks together. I’m so thrilled and can’t WAIT to meet him! Come on little boy, make your appearance. Annnnnnny time.

I thought I’d take the opportunity to post before everything goes bananas around here. I want to share my birth plan with you and explain why I’ve chosen to do some of the things I’m doing, in case you were wondering.

Disclaimer: Please don’t read any of this as judgment toward those who have chosen a different path than mine. I know there are many different and valid ways for babies to come into this world. This is just representative of my personal beliefs and desires for myself regarding childbirth.

I’ve chosen to have my baby at a birthing center under the care of amazing Midwives as opposed to at a hospital with a Doctor. Because of this, I really don’t need a birth plan because they automatically honor all of my wishes without me having to ask. All of the things I have listed below are standard operating procedure at the birthing center. But there is always the rare chance that I might need to transfer to a hospital for one reason or another. IF that happens I want to be prepared to let the hospital staff know the kind of birth I’m hoping for.

I’d also like to highly recommend anyone who is considering a birth center or home birth with Midwives to read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. It is an amazing resource and very helpful.

-My Birth Plan-

Labor

1) Intermittent monitoring only. Freedom to walk around and move as I wish.

The reason for this is because natural childbirth requires the woman’s body to move. The baby needs help moving into the birth canal and it is just not sensible for a woman to do this lying on her back. Squatting, kneeling, swaying, dancing, rocking, are all useful positions to help get baby into optimal position for birthing. I want to be free to try whatever position is helpful, and not be constrained to a hospital bed. As long as baby and I are healthy, I don’t see any reason to be on constant monitoring.

2) Do not offer pain medication.

It is my desire to have an unmedicated birth. I want to do this because I think the female body was designed to give birth and that God gave us natural pain relief hormones and chemicals that work beautifully without intervention. I also don’t see anything wrong with a little discomfort. We, as a society, are so completely against discomfort, inconvenience, or challenge. In my view childbirth is a part of womanhood and I welcome the challenge to experience it as God intended, without intervention. I do however understand that I am human and may feel tempted to give up if I’m offered a way out. I really don’t want to have to deal with that, so I’d rather not have the option given to me.

Delivery

1) Allow me to to push and birth in position of my choice.

2) Access to drinking water at all times.

Ice chips? Really? I’m sorry but I drink at least a gallon of water a day and there is no way that I am doing the most physically intense thing my body will ever do without being properly hydrated. Would you consider running a marathon, or going to the gym without water? There’s just no chance. Labor is just as (if not more so) physically demanding. Everyone who has seen me in the past 9 months knows that I come with a water bottle every where I go. There will be no negotiating on this in the delivery room.

3) Allow me to eat light snacks as I desire.

Most hospitals will not allow the mother to eat during labor in case she needs to be transferred for an emergency Cesarean. I understand the reasoning behind this, but it is completely unreasonable to expect an otherwise perfectly healthy woman to do the most physically demanding job of her life without proper sustenance. It is no wonder so many moms give up on natural birth because they are exhausted and have no energy. I’m not talking about eating a steak dinner, but I plan to have fruits, nuts, and energy packed snacks to help me keep up my strength for the big show!

4) Allow my placenta to deliver naturally without Pitocin.

Even if you haven’t been induced with Pitocin for birth, many hospitals (and even birthing centers) will use Pitocin to help speed up the process of delivering the placenta. This should be a LAST resort option, only if there is an issue with the placenta not coming out on its own, or the risk of hemorrhage. Most healthy women will naturally deliver the placenta, without intervention, within about 10-30 minutes of birth.

5) Save my placenta for encapsulation.

Placenta encapsulation is when the placenta is dehydrated, ground, and poured into capsules for the mother to take postpartum. This is usually done by a doula or a midwife. I have arranged for a doula to do this for me. The placenta is packed with amazing vitamins and nutrients. Consuming it has been known to help prevent postpartum depression, increase energy, and help with milk supply. Women in many non-western cultures will actually eat their placenta (ew). I’m not hippy enough to fry it up or drink it in a smoothie, but I figure a capsule form can’t be all that bad. And I’ve heard so many women swear by it! Some women describe them as little speed capsules. Extra energy with a new baby and no sleep? Sounds good to me! I will let you know if it helps at all.

6) Please do not perform an episiotomy. I would like to use essential oils to help prevent tearing while birthing.

Many doctors will just automatically cut every woman to allow the baby to come out. This is completely unnecessary. Think of a paper towel. If you pull tight it will stretch, and it might even tear a bit. Think of that same paper towel with a small slit cut into the top. When you pull, it will tear completely in half with little effort. I’d much rather let my body tear naturally if that’s what’s going to happen. In a natural, unmedicated birth, the uterus will contract at a normal speed, to allow for proper stretching. The mother will be able to feel what is going on so she won’t just push arbitrarily. With an epidural the mother cannot tell what she is doing, and might push too hard and tear worse than she needs to. The use of warm cloths and oils during crowning can really help ease the baby out and prevent tearing. Some tearing might still occur, but it will heal much more quickly and naturally without a large cut made that probably wasn’t needed at all.

7) Delay cord clamping until the cord has stopped pulsating.

Studies have shown that delaying the cutting of the baby’s umbilical cord until it has stopped pulsing has many benefits. The baby is getting his blood supply from the placenta and as long as it is pulsing it is still sending nutrient rich blood to your baby’s system. We want our babies to have a full tank, so to speak, and have good, high iron and blood levels. This only takes about 5-10 minutes, and can be especially helpful for babies born early. The ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) says this, “a longer duration of placental transfusion after birth may be beneficial because this blood is enriched with immunoglobulins and stem cells, which provide the potential for improved organ repair and rebuilding after injury from disorders caused by preterm birth. Although the magnitude of the benefits from enhanced placental stem cell transfusion has not been well studied, the other neonatal benefits have led investigators to consider revising umbilical cord clamping practice guidelines.”

Baby care

1) As long as baby is healthy I would like baby placed on me directly after birth. Baby will breast feed, so only offer my breast and no artificial nipples.

Breast feeding is one of the single best things you can do for your newborn infant. I understand that many women cannot do this for various reasons, but I wholeheartedly believe that EVERY mother should at least try. Even if its just for a few days. It may not be fun or easy, but it is so very good for your baby. I plan to allow my son to do what is called the “breast crawl.” The breast crawl is when a newborn baby is placed directly on the mom’s tummy and allowed to crawl on their own up to the breast and then latch on. This process is amazingly natural and instinctive for the baby and helps to promote bonding between mom and baby, and a natural latch. You can learn more about it here, and watch an amazing video of a newborn little girl doing the crawl. Its seriously one of the sweetest, most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

2) Do not bathe baby- I plan to bathe baby after I have had time to rub in the vernix.

Vernix is the white, waxy sort of substance on the baby’s skin after he is born. This substance has a ton of amazing benefits and nutrients that should not be washed off. Here is an article that explains more.

3) We are planning to delay circumcision until baby’s first pediatrician visit.

This is because we are declining the vitamin K shot, which you can read about below. Babies bodies need about a week to develop the ability to properly coagulate blood. Because of this, the circumcision will need to be delayed so he does not have any bleeding issues.

We are declining the administration of:

1) vitamin K injection (Only use oral vitamin k)

I could explain this here, or I could refer you to Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist, who is an awesome blogger that already did an awesome job researching and sharing why the vitamin K shot may not be as great as you think!

2) hepatitis b vaccine

This vaccine is to protect infants whose mother’s may have hepatitis B. However many hospitals administer it to every infant regardless of his mother’s test results. This just doesn’t make any sense to me. I do not have hepatitis B, so I really don’t see the point in giving my child a precautionary vaccination that he does not need, and expose him to potentially harmful side effects.

3) erythromycin eye ointment or any other eye salve

That goo that they put in babies eyes isn’t vaseline folks. Erythromycin is an antibiotic eye ointment administered to newborn infants. Its purpose is to protect the baby from any infection that could come from the mother if she has an STD such as Gonorrhea or Chlamydia. Since I do not have either of these diseases there is absolutely no reason for me to give my baby an unnecessary antibiotic. Hospitals often administer it even if the mother has already tested negative for the STD’s “just in case.” For me personally, I know that “just in case” is not a factor, so I’m declining. When babies are born, their immune system is trying to build itself up, so any unnecessary antibiotics should be avoided so as to not impede the natural processes that are taking place in their bodies. Again, I do not want to expose my baby to medications that he does not need, and potentially cause harmful side effects. It really just doesn’t make any sense.

A Holistic Pregnancy Nutrition Plan

DSC_0177Well its October now which means the air is beginning to cool off, Christmas decorations are up in the department stores, and this tiny little thing called my DUE DATE is just around the corner! Sometimes its hard to believe that I’ve made it this far, but my son will be born in just a few short weeks! I’m so excited!

I’ve talked to you all a little bit about how I’ve stayed healthy during this pregnancy but I thought a refresher was in order, so I’m going to outline for you exactly what I’ve been doing these last 36 or so weeks including my diet and supplemental routine.

My Pregnancy Nutrition

brita-bottle-homemakerchic.comWater- Staying hydrated in pregnancy is a major necessity. Your body is producing a huge amount of extra blood and fluid to support the baby and the placenta, so you need to compensate for it. Early in this pregnancy I purchased a 22oz. Brita filtered water bottle. Its BPA free and uses a charcoal filter system. Do yourself a favor and spring for the hard-sided version with the straw. The squeeze bottle that they sell is cheaper, but trust me- its SO much easier to drink out of the straw (especially in labor!). This bottle has been awesome! I drink about a gallon a day which sounds like a lot but its really easy when you just keep filling up your bottle a little at a time. Plus, I can get fresh filtered water from and sink or water fountain. Not only am I helping the environment by not using hundreds of plastic bottles that will just end up in a landfill, but I’ve also saved a TON of money by not having to purchase bottled water (which is really nothing special- check out the Penn & Teller episode calling Bull-sh*t on the whole thing!) Be sure to keep extra filters on hand. The instructions say to change the filter every 2 months but I’ve found that I drink so much water that I need to change it more like every month. TIP: You can tell it needs to be changed when it starts to get too hard to suck the water out.

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables- The best way to ensure that your growing baby is getting all the nutrients he needs is to consume a diet rich in vitamin and mineral content. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is so good for you and your baby.

green-smoothie-homemakerchic.comEvery morning I enjoy a yummy green smoothie with 6-7 frozen strawberries, a handful of frozen peaches or pineapple, 1 ripe banana, 3 handfuls of fresh organic spinach, 1/2 cup of carrot juice, and 1 cup of orange juice. Just blend everything together and enjoy. You can’t taste the spinach at all, and this smoothie is a great source of vitamins A, C, E, K, iron, fiber, beta carotene, antioxidants, folic acid, potassium and more! Its a great way to start your day. You could easily switch up the fruits by adding raspberries, blueberries (this will make your smoothie a sort of brown color, but it still tastes delicious!) You could swap the spinach for kale, although the kale does have a stronger flavor. The only thing I wouldn’t skip on is the ripe banana. It really makes the smoothie creamy and sweet. Also do not add yogurt or milk to the smoothie. The calcium will work against the wonderful properties of the vitamin C and iron that you and your baby desperately need right now. We’ll talk about calcium below.

chicken-vegetable-pasta-homemakerchic.comAnother way I incorporate vegetables is by adding them into easy lunch and dinner recipes. We love having pasta primavera. I will chop up carrots, celery stalks, onion, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, bell peppers, peas, corn, mushrooms, broccoli, spinach, kale or whatever else I have on hand. I do equal parts vegetables and pasta (usually about 3 cups of each for my husband and I, plus left-overs). You can also add some grilled chicken for extra protein and iron. Saute’ everything with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. Mix in with the vegetable pasta you can find in most super markets. I like the Barilla brand. It has a full serving of hidden vegetables in every serving of pasta. You could also make this dish with quinoa or brown rice for a gluten free alternative. I do both often. Add a little half and half and parmesan cheese and you’re good to go! The juices from the vegetables create an amazing sauce. The best part is that if you make extra, it is delicious cold the next day!

broccoli-soup-homemakerchic.comVegetable soups are also a great way to get in those much needed veggies. Its SOO easy! And this time of year is a great time for homemade soup. I make soup at least once a week. Just pick a vegetable, potato, broccoli, butternut squash, pumpkin, carrot, sweet potato, cauliflower, doesn’t matter. The sky is the limit. For a medium sized pot of soup (about 4 bowls) you’ll want the equivalent of about 3-4 cups of veggies. All you have to do is either roast or boil your chosen veggie (it depends on the veggie, i.e. broccoli can easily be boiled while pumpkins would need to be halved and roasted for about an hour). Toss the cooked veggie in a pot. Add a couple quarts of chicken stock, some milk, cream or half & half (if you want), some butter, salt and pepper. Then blitz it all up with an immersion blender. Obviously you can vary this by adding herbs, spices, and other veggies. But you get the basic idea. Its so stupidly easy to do and there are so many ways to make it interesting. Try it!!

My Pregnancy Supplements

Okay so I take a lot of supplements, and you certainly don’t have to take everything that I recommend but let me explain WHY I’ve chosen to take so many. The way I see it, if it can help me have an easier labor and a healthier baby, why not? So after a TON of research I’ve made the personal choice to just try it, and if it doesn’t help then I won’t do it next time.

- Morning - 

super-supplementalMulti-vitamin- In lieu of a prenatal I take Nature’s Sunshine Super Supplemental. It is a 100% food based source of dozens of vitamins, minerals and nutrients including Folic Acid, Iron, and Calcium which are all needed in pregnancy. The serving size is 4 tablets per day, which is what I take when I’m not pregnant. But I only take 1 per day while pregnant. The reason is that the 4 tablet dose has a high vitamin A content (16,000iu) which is not recommended in pregnancy. One tablet has a very safe dosage. (Read this article for more information about vitamin A, aka beta carotene in pregnancy). Also I only take this as an insurance policy in case I have an off day where I’m not getting most of my vitamins from food. I usually get everything that the baby and I need from my diet, so this is just a little extra.  If you’re eating a lot of processed foods, and not consuming a well-balanced diet, you may consider taking 2 tablets a day. Nature’s Sunshine also offers a pre-natal vitamin that has a lower dose of vitamin A (about the same as 1 tablet), which I probably would have taken if I’d known it existed before now.

perfect-ironIron - My super supplemental does include a small amount of iron, but the huge demand on our bodies for iron in pregnancy requires more. Because of the large amount of blood we are producing many women become anemic in pregnancy. To combat this I take 2 tablets of Sundown Natural’s Perfect Iron. This is Iron Carbonyl which is easier on the stomach than Iron Ferrous Fumarate. Now, Vitamin C helps the body to better assimilate the iron into the system while calcium blocks assimilation. Because of this I take my iron in the morning with my Green smoothie which has a TON of vitamin C, and this is also why I do not add yogurt or dairy to my smoothie. Wait about 2 hours to consume calcium after taking your iron.

pro-biotics-for-pregnancyPro-biotics- Taking pro-biotics in pregnancy is very important for two really good reasons. I really hope you do not skip taking this supplement. You’ll want to take a refrigerated pro-biotic which can be found at and health-food or vitamin store. The live cultures in the stuff you find on the shelf will die by the time you get to the end of the bottle. Getting a refrigerated supplement will ensure you’re really getting the benefits down to the last tablet. I take 2 Solgar Advanced Acidophilus Plus, one in the morning and one in the evening.

Reason 1) During pregnancy our digestive system really takes a hit. The body begins putting priority on making a baby, and our poor tummies end up way down the list of priority body systems. Digestion slows, and the result is heartburn, indigestion, constipation and nausea. The healthy bacteria in pro-biotics will maintain a good flora in your gut and really help keep things going in there!

Reason 2) When your baby is born, his immune system foundation is directly related to the strength of yours. Studies show that mothers who increase their probiotic intake during pregnancy reduce their child’s risk of allergies by as much as 50%, specifically in eczema, asthma and atopic dermatitis. A healthier baby sounds good to me!!

- Evening -

DHA:EPA for pregnancyOmega 3/ DHA+EPA / Fish Oil - You have probably heard that DHA is very important in pregnancy. This is because DHA helps build your baby’s brain, nervous system, and eyes. But let’s not forget about EPA, which is another source of Omega 3 that is equally beneficial. Both of these valuable nutrients have been shown to prevent allergies in infants. Fish oil also has amazing anti-inflammatory properties, which is great for aching and swollen joints in pregnancy. I take one combination capsule from Vitamin Shoppe with 300mg EPA and 200mg DHA. I got them BOGO in the store with a coupon. I like to store the bottle in the freezer and take them in the evening because I was finding myself burping up a fishy taste and that is just no bueno for me. Freezing the capsule ensures that it doesn’t release the fish oil until it is down in your belly, and taking it in the evening just helps it to get digested before you wake up, so no fishy breath.

Pro-biotic- We already discussed why it is important to take, but you want to take it twice a day. In the morning, and the in the evening. This keeps your digestive system on track while you sleep and maintains the healthy flora all day and night.

calciumCalcium/Vitamin D- Calcium and Vitamin D are also important during pregnancy to help your baby’s little bones develop. All of these vitamins are included in the super supplemental but I began taking an additional supplement at night because I was having horrible leg cramps. Like, so bad that I actually twisted my ankle because it seized up so badly. My midwife suggested adding this to my daily cocktail of tablets, and its amazing how it worked! I haven’t had a single leg cramp since I added this to my supplemental routine. I take one chewable Caltrate tablet before bed. If you’re having this issue I highly recommend you try it! 

RLTRaspberry Leaf- You can read all about why raspberry leaf is amazing in pregnancy in this post. I’m a big fan of the stuff and many women have sworn by its ability to help with a more efficient labor. I was drinking the tea daily in my first and second trimesters, but toward the end you really want to up the dosage and I just couldn’t drink enough. So I started taking the capsules, which is really easy. I take 6 400mg capsules from Nature’s Way a day. I’m a weirdo and can take all the tablets in one swallow, but I’ve heard other women complain about the size. So maybe try taking them one at a time if its an issue for you. If you’d rather drink the tea, check out the post and all the information about where to find it and how much to drink is there for you.

5-w-pregnancy supplement5W- This is an herbal birth preparation combination that includes: Black cohosh root, Squaw vine herb, Dong quai root, Butcher’s broom root, Red raspberry leaves. I got mine from Nature’s Sunshine, the same company that sells the multi-vitamin. It helps by toning the smooth muscles of the uterus to promote more effective contractions during labor. During the last five weeks of pregnancy, take 2 capsules three times daily with a meal. I will be starting this herb at 37 weeks (which is just a few days away) simply for the reason that I cannot deliver at my birthing center until I reach 37 weeks and I didn’t want to take anything that could get my labor started before that time. But I know people who have started at 35 weeks and had no issues whatsoever. I just wanted to be extra cautious because of my history.

So all in all I’m up to 2 pro-biotics, 1 fish oil, 2 iron, 1 multi-vitamin, 6 RLT, 6 5-W, 1 Calcium, and a partridge in a pear tree. That’s 19 tablets a day! lol. It may seem extreme but hopefully this explanation has given you insight into all the amazing benefits all these wonderful supplements have, and how much they can really help you and your baby have the healthiest, and easiest labor possible.

Seven Things I Didn’t Expect While Expecting

So now that I’m in my third trimester I thought I might take a few minutes to talk about some of the things I’ve discovered about pregnancy that I was expecting at all. You imagine having a baby your whole life, complete with expectations about how all this is going to go down, but there are so many things that no one explained to me, or at least not in a way that I comprehended. Every woman and every pregnancy is different, but here are some things I’ve experienced myself. Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely loving pregnancy, and am so very blessed to be welcoming this sweet little baby into the world. I don’t want to come off as a big complainer, but there are just some things that I think TTC moms need to know. Let’s get it all out in the open.

the bump1) The Bump

The dynamics of the pregnant belly are not at all what I was expecting. For starters, you don’t really have a bona fide preggo belly for the first half of the pregnancy, even longer for some women. In the beginning you just have what looks like a flabby gut, or like you ate a giant burrito for lunch. It isn’t firm, and round and cute for awhile. It is squishy, sometimes lop-sided,  sometimes pointy or weirdly shaped, and even produces extra rolls. The cute basketball-under-my-shirt sort of belly didn’t show up until about 5 months. While its rounder and firmer and cuter now, it still has its moments. It is often squishier on one side than the other, and is definitely lop-sided still. I imagined my belly being this separate pregnant entity, but its still my same old belly, except way bigger, and sometimes it just looks like a big ol’ beer gut. I also had no idea that my abdominal muscles would move to the front of everything. For some reason I was imagining that the baby and uterus would grow on top of my abs, but no, abs are front in center. This means that as things start stretching and growing you will feel like you involuntarily did 100 crunches while you were sleeping.

2) People’s Opinions

When people hear that you’re pregnant, they somehow instantly assume that you want their advice and opinion on everything. From what sort of birth you should have, to what color to paint your nursery, if you should circumcise or vaccinate, or even how you should discipline. People start crawling out of the woodworks spewing their viewpoint on you. I’m not even talking about close friends and family, whose input I actually value… I’m talking about total strangers. Or better yet, Facebook stalkers who don’t ask me to lunch or have any involvement in my life except to offer their two cents on one of the most intensely personal and private experiences of my life. When you face this, just be patient, smile and say (or type) thank you. Then, go on your merry way, do your research, and raise that baby the way that you know is right for you.

pregnant arnold3) Men’s Opinions.

Its not even just women. Nooo, no, no. Men will give you their opinions too. On your vagina. Men somehow think that watching their wives go through pregnancy and childbirth is the same as actually doing it themselves. Here’s the rule fellas- unless you are an OB/Gyn, a Mid-husband (do those exist?), or Arnold Schwarzenegger in Junior, you don’t get a dog in this fight.

pregnant-belly-line4) Baby Movement

I had no idea what to expect from baby kicks. I began feeling little butterflies around 11 weeks, and felt the first intelligible movement at exactly 16 weeks, but the first time I felt an actual kick at 21 weeks was about the craziest feeling I’ve ever experienced in my life. I was laying on the bed reading and he kicked so hard I almost fell out of bed. It was both frightening and hilarious at the same time. Feeling this baby move is magical and it really becomes real once you feel them, but its pretty uncomfortable sometimes. Particularly when you get kicked in the cervix. Yes girls, they kick you down there. And it feels like they’re trying to kick their way out. They also tickle. Getting kicked in the ribs, for me, is the same as getting poked in the ribs and I’m super ticklish. Wasn’t expecting that at all. Sometimes it feels like a firm poke, and other times it feels like gas. Sometimes he feels like laundry in a dryer, just flipping over.

5) How Quickly Its Passing!

I wanted to be pregnant for such a long time. Each time I got pregnant I never truly expected that I would stay pregnant (read my story here). So, in order to help me keep my sanity I made the choice early on to take things one week at a time. At first I just wanted to get to 10 weeks, which was the longest I’d ever gotten in a pregnancy. After that I just wanted to get to 13 weeks, safely into my second trimester. Then I just wanted to get to 16 weeks so I could find out the gender of the baby. Then I just wanted to get to the point where I could feel the baby kicking. And now here I am in my third trimester! It’s all happening so fast. I feel like I just took a pregnancy test yesterday, and now my belly is large and in charge. How did this happen? I’m trying to relax and enjoy the process and not be too anxious for it to be over. Especially with this being our first child I’m savoring the time alone with my husband, the ease of things like grocery shopping or going to movies, and getting a full night’s sleep… well sort of. That brings me to my next point.

6) How Hard It Is To Sleep!

I thought the nights of sleeplessness wouldn’t start until after baby boy is born. Well let me tell you that trying to get into a comfortable position while pregnant has proven to be quite a challenge. Not only does it take no less than 23 maneuvers to roll over, or to get out of bed, but you only stay comfortable for about 20 minutes before you have to reposition again. Plus, I have never been the kind of person to wake up in the middle of the night to tinkle, but this started for me early on, around 12 weeks. I get up 2-3 times a night, and each time I get up the whole readjusting process starts over again! On top of this I’m a back sleeper, and my midwife says that I shouldn’t sleep on my back in the third trimester, so I have to use a wall of pillows on both sides of my body to keep me from rolling over. Needless to say this has seriously dampened our snuggle schedule. Not fun.

lynsey stone birth photo7) Stigma Regarding Natural Birth

I have done quite a lot of research and have made the decision to have a natural birth at a birthing center. This is very important to me and I am 100% confident in the care that my baby and I will receive. I don’t judge anyone who chooses to have their baby in a hospital, but this is just what was right for me. But apparently people think I’m bananas. I did not expect this at all. I figured people would respect me like I respect them, but I guess in today’s world being natural has become… unnatural. Lol, how ironic. Its not just people thinking I’m weird, but people thinking that I’m negligent, uneducated, or just plain foolish. Many people seem to have the attitude of “let’s just let doctors handle this.” I really never thought I was all that progressive, since people have been having natural births since Cain and Abel, but I guess I am. Very unexpected response.

So there you have it. What unexpected things have you noticed during pregnancy?

Raspberry Leaf Tea for Pregnancy

cup-of-teaSince my last post I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the Raspberry Leaf Tea that I drink, so I wanted to take a minute to talk about this awesome herb, how it works, and where to get it.

DISCLAIMER: I’m not a doctor or midwife. Just a girl who’s done a lot of research. Don’t ever take my word for anything. Always speak with your birth practitioner before starting on any pregnancy herbs. That being said I personally do (or would do) all the things I am recommending to you in this blog.

WHAT IS IT?

Raspberry leaf tea (RLT) is a tea that comes from the leaf of the garden red raspberry plant. This is not to be confused with the actual berry. The use of Red Raspberry Leaves dates back to ancient Greeks and Romans and has a rich history of being used to treat a wide variety of ailments. Some of the illnesses that they used RRL to treat include: the flu, gum disease, rubella, upset stomach, hangover, diarrhea, fevers, vomiting, menstrual problems, inflammation, etc. The most popular use of Red Raspberry leaves is for pregnancy.

WHAT DOES IT DO?

The main reason this tea is used in pregnancy is because it is a Uterine Tonic. This means it works to tone the smooth muscles of the uterus to prepare for labor and delivery. When used during pregnancy many women will experience Braxton Hicks contractions (myself included). This harmless flexing of the uterus is like aerobics for your baby maker. The tea encourages the uterus to exercise as it begins to prepare itself for real contractions when the time comes.

It has also been known to help prevent future miscarriage. It won’t help if you’re already having a miscarriage, but consumed prior to pregnancy it can help guard against one. If you know my story, you know this was a big plus for me!

Sorry but it will not likely induce labor. If it could then you would not see miserable women, 3 weeks past their due date, drinking castor oil (yuck!), and doing jumping jacks trying to get labor started.

If you find the Braxton Hicks to be too uncomfortable, then take a couple days off of the tea and start again. But if you can get through them you will soooo glad you did when you have super efficient contractions during childbirth, and an easier and quicker labor.

In addition to its awesome toning properties it also has a ton of other nutrients.

Beneficial Vitamins and Minerals Found in Red Raspberry Leaf:

-Rich concentrations of vitamin C

-Vitamin E

-Easily assimilated calcium and iron

-Manganese and magnesium

-Vitamin A

-Vitamin B complex

-Many minerals including phosphorous and potassium

HOW TO DRINK IT

I highly recommend Starwest Botanicals Loose Leaf Tea.

Raspberry Leaf-homemakerchic.com

Its about $12 for a 1 lb bag on Amazon, and that will seriously last you for a year or more. I’ve been drinking at least one cup a day for the last 6 months and I haven’t even gotten through a quarter of the bag. You could always buy the tea bags if you want, but at around $5 for a box of 16 bags, I really can’t justify the cost, when its so dirt cheap to buy it in bulk. I found a lovely glass container to pour the loose tea in and set on my counter top. I like being able to see the tea leaves, but in all honesty you’re probably better off getting an opaque container that doesn’t let any light in. This will keep the tea fresh longer.

tea-strainer-homemakerchic.com

Next you’ll need a good quality tea strainer. I like the scissor kind. Its just so easy to use. It has a little spring and you just squeeze it open. To make the tea just put a few pinches of tea in your strainer, drop it in a cup of hot water, and let it steep for 5-10 minutes. I like mine with honey. The tea tastes nothing like raspberry, in case you were wondering. It has a light simple tea flavor. Very pleasant. You could also totally make this into an iced tea, and add fruit juice to flavor it if you like.

HOW MUCH TO DRINK?

The recommendation for pregnancy is 1 cup per day per trimester. So 1 cup during the 1st trimester, 2 cups daily during the second trimester, and 3 cups a day (or more) during the third trimester.

WHAT IF I DON’T LIKE TEA?

raspberry-leaf-capsules-homemakerchic.comAlternatively you can try the capsules if you don’t like tea. The dosage on these is a bit more nebulous. I feel confident recommending 2 capsules a day in the 1st trimester, 4 a day in the second trimester, and up to 6 a day in the third trimester. I’m not a doctor or a midwife, so you should research it for yourself just to be sure. But I would personally take these doses if for some reason I didn’t want to drink the tea, but I do love the tea! Plus, it really helped to wean me off my daily cup of coffee. The brand that I have in my cabinet in case I don’t have time to sit and drink my daily cup is Dr. Christopher’s Formula Red Raspberry Leaf Capsules 100ct. This is a great natural brand for herbs and a good price too.

DRINK IT BEFORE YOU CONCEIVE

If you are thinking about starting a family I highly recommend you start now with drinking one cup of tea a day. The benefits are just as great for women who are not yet pregnant. Having a nice toned uterus before pregnancy is a great way to prepare yourself for when the time comes. It also has the added benefit of helping with period cramps, and regulating your cycle.

DRINK IT AFTER THE BABY IS BORN

Drinking RLT after you give birth has been known to dramatically shorten recovery time, and help the uterus to whip itself back into pre-pregnancy shape.

THE STRONG BREW

Finally, and I will definitely be updating you on how this works. There’s one more thing you can do with RLT. When you go into labor, brew yourself a big glass of super strong tea. We’re talking like an ounce of loose tea to about 20 ounces of water, and let steep for a few hours if possible to really get the strongest blend possible. Then chug that bad boy down when labor starts. Theoretically you could probably down a big handful of the capsules, but I have no idea how many you would need.

I have read thousands of testimonies of women and midwives who swear by this. Supposedly it is supposed to make labor super efficient, easy, and quick. Many women even say their birth was virtually pain-free! I don’t know about you, but given that I am having my baby naturally at a birthing center, pain-free sounds pretty dang good to me. If it doesn’t work well then oh well. I will DEFINITELY keep you posted on my experience when my son is born in October.

Hope this helps you ladies! Happy, healthy pregnancy to you all. :)

How I Cured My Infertility Naturally

How-I-Cured-My-Infertility-Naturally-HomemakerChic.comMany of you know about my struggle with infertility. After inexplicably losing 5 babies (including twin girls), and undergoing months of testing, the doctors were able to find no medical reason for why this was happening. The only answer I got was that it might be some sort of autoimmune issue, but no tests gave any answer as to what kind. We finally gave up on trying to have a baby for awhile and dove head first into the adoption process. We believe that God has called us to do this at some point in our lives. But God had another plan…

Still puzzled by why this was happening to me, I began researching recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL). I knew I didn’t want to be pregnant while we were focusing on adoption, but I wanted to be healthy and whole, so I started looking into natural ways to improve my situation. Among other things, I found that BPA was linked to RPL. So I began taking steps to eradicate this harmful chemical from my life. But I wanted more.

Enter providence. Through a series of divine interactions, I ended up working with a Christian naturopath named Cheryl who gave me the ALCAT test. ALCAT is a food sensitivity test that measures inflammatory reactions in your blood when it is exposed to various foods and chemicals. It turned out that I was intolerant to several foods that I had no idea about (lobster, avocado, basil, broccoli, white potato, button mushroom, and splenda aka sucralose.) Cheryl taught me that health begins in our guts. I learned that all the antibiotics I had taken several years ago when I had chronic tonsillitis, and the birth control pills I had taken for years, had likely torn up the lining of my stomach. I learned that consuming harmful chemicals can make it more difficult for your body to absorb necessary nutrients (and more importantly for my babies to get the nutrients THEY needed!). I learned that eating the wrong foods can cause inflammation in MANY places in the body, possibly including my reproductive organs. I learned that food is medicine, and that by eating wholesome healthful foods I could begin to heal my body from the inside out.

In addition to removing my food intolerances and BPA, I also began living the Real Food lifestyle. I cut out processed foods, and anything with ingredients that I couldn’t pronounce. I began taking probiotics to help fortify my gut, super vitamins to amplify my immune system, and drinking raspberry leaf tea daily to tone my uterus. I began eating whole, organic, and locally farmed foods. I limited the amount of meat I was eating to once a week, and exchanged hormone laced, GMO corn-fed beef for organic grass fed beef. I cut out coffee. I began exercising. And I began drinking a LOT of water. 75 ounces a day! I’m not saying it was easy to change all of this. In fact, one time I was at the supermarket almost in tears because I felt like everything I was used to buying was off limits. I texted Cheryl saying, “Grocery shopping is too hard, I think I’ll just buy wine and go home.” She laughed hysterically and then gently encouraged me to press on. It was very difficult at first, but I was committed to doing this right.

And after just 6 weeks of this new lifestyle I found myself pregnant…. again.

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As the weeks passed I could tell this pregnancy was different. For one thing, I experienced zero spotting. Every single other pregnancy started out with spotting. Secondly, I had morning sickness which I had never had before. After I passed the 10 week mark (the farthest any of my babies had ever survived) I began to seriously wonder if this was actually going to be the one. Week by week this baby has carried on. We’ve gotten to see our sweet little monkey on an ultrasound, actually looking like a baby! This is a completely new experience for us since normally we get terrible news when we have ultrasounds. Systematically during this pregnancy I have eliminated one unnatural thing after another. GMO foods, chewing gum, listerine, face wash, moisturizers, deodorant, and the list goes on. I’ve replaced MANY things with coconut oil. More on that later. I’m still taking vitamins, probiotics and drinking the raspberry leaf tea daily.

So now, at 18 weeks pregnant, I am finally believing that God is giving us this baby… this boy. My son. baby-boy-16-weeks-ultrasound-homemakerchic.com

There’s one other aspect to this process that I want to share with you. In addition to getting my body on track, God began to put my soul on track. He taught me that He is good if He gives me a child, and He is good if I lose 20 more pregnancies. This was a fact that was very hard for me to understand in the midst of my losses. I wondered many times why a good God would let this happen to me over and over again. He taught me that these children were all His before they were mine, and that He was just as brokenhearted over my suffering as I was. I realized that in all of my suffering I forgot the fact that my 5 little sweeties never had to experience loss, suffering, heartache, or rejection. They had the amazing privilege of going straight to Heaven! He is holding them in His hands. Hands that are infinitely more perfect than mine. How could I ever be sad about that? I learned that while God had not yet answered my prayers to heal my body, He kept His promise in the bible that He would heal my broken heart (He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. Psalm 147:3).

Losing-a-pregnancyAnd finally God asked me the question that I had been so afraid to answer for so many years… “Do you trust Me?” I thought I had trusted Him, but the truth was, I never had. I finally surrendered my fertility and my life to the God of the universe, knowing and believing that He knows my desires, and wouldn’t place this deep urge to be a mother inside me and never fulfill it. When we stepped forward to adopt, I was certain that this was how God was going to fulfill that desire in me (and we still hope to continue with that in the near future) but I can now see how He was molding me and shaping me to become a whole person, inside and out, so that I could become the best mother possible for my children.

If you’ve been through loss, I sincerely encourage you to consider crying out to God and ask him to make you whole. He loves you, and He knows your hurts more than anyone else. Trusting Him has been a journey, but my life has never been so peaceful or fruitful.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. Psalm 127:3

Adoption Profile

Our Adoption Profile Book

As promised, I am updating you on our adoption process. We have completed the home-study and we’re just waiting for the paper work to be filed and finalized. So once we hear back from the agency that they’ve got everything sorted out we can start presenting our profile to birth moms! So exciting! So, I finally finished our adoption profile book. I’m so excited about this because I really wanted our book to be something awesome. I got this nifty digital scrap-booking software and I had no idea how much I really love making these books! It was so much fun to do! The creative options are endless and it made telling our story so much easier. If you are adopting and you are interested in having someone make your book for you, I’d love to do it! You can check out my Adoption Profile Services website Little Birds Adoption.  So without further adieu, here are some pages from our book. This is just a glimpse, the full book is 25 pages. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks everyone!

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