Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Good Dad

I always wanted to marry a guy who would make a good dad. During the idealistic young teen years when I had “my guy” figured out to a T, it made one of the top priorities. And when I laid off some of my courtship ideals and 3 page lists, it was still of utmost importance. It would have to be visible that the guy would make a great dad, or there wasn’t a chance of it.

And Ben is the most wonderful daddy in the whole world. I knew he would be- a guy who makes time to listen to and play with siblings, friends’ children and others would have to be. A guy who helps someone else’s child just to be helpful or to show love to the child. He far surpassed my dreams.

Consequently, Vivi doesn’t just have a daddy. She has a best friend. She has a playmate. A confident. Someone who cherishes and treasures her. Someone who tells her she’s gorgeous. Ben doesn’t just view Vivi as “a baby”- or even “his baby”. He views her as a special person, with a personality that’s been unfolding since before birth.

Ben gives Viviana value. He sets aside time out of life just for her. It doesn’t matter if there are adults or more “worthwhile” beings around. He could be in the company of a bunch of friends- but it doesn’t inhibit him from communicating or playing with Vivi. I love watching their interactions. They’ll gab and gab at each other over just about anything. When we go for family walks, Ben usually takes the privilege of wearing her- and if you were to trail behind us, you’d hear them carrying out all sorts of interesting conversations, in between ones Ben and I were having. You’d hear him tell her about the trees, and when the leaves will come back. About seeing grass again. About how windy it is. Or sometimes, just about how much he loves her. They sit on the floor and play together- building tall towers out of wedgits, so Vivi can knock them down. She laughs hysterically when Daddy plays with her. They read together. In just a few months, she’ll be toddling around, and the weather will be warm. I know Ben’ll steal her outside to enjoy the sunshine and feel the grass between their toes.

Vivi’s only 9 months old, but you’d only need to observe her and Ben for about 5 minutes to discover exactly what she thinks of her daddy. I’m not a mind-reader….but sometimes, it’s just obvious. Babies are good at finding ways to express themselves. She’s never said “I love you”, but it’s written all over her face. The way she lights up when her daddy comes into the room….smiles adoringly when he takes her….gabs and gabs when he has a conversation with her…smiles at him from across the room…leaves room only to assume that she adores her daddy.

Some of the most beautiful moments in life come in the form of watching father and daughter sharing life together- walking the same journey, laughing, talking, playing. Someday, there’ll be tears and serious conversations. There’ll be breakfast with just dad, and discussing the problems of the world.

I’m so grateful- so very grateful- that Viviana has a dad like that. And that we’ll be blessed with another little one who I know Ben will cherish and love just as much. And I wish that every child could be blessed a daddy like that. A lot of the world’s problems would be solved, I think, if every little boy and girl had a daddy who was their best friend- who had faith in them- who listened to them- and most of all, who loved them unconditionally.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Chosen

Chosen. It’s a most beautiful thing to be chosen to carry life- one of the most beautiful things in the world. It’s mysterious, special, and beautiful. It has so many “little” blessings- times of bonding with your new little one. And, it’s down right incredible- the way a baby is formed from sperm and an egg, and over the course of 10 months, grows into a perfect, full-grown baby. Emotionally, it does glorious things to a woman- pregnant women have a natural glow about them….they have lots of extra love as they prepare to embrace a new baby…they’re cherishing a special secret, waiting for God’s appointed time to unfold. It’s so special to see all the physical changes- watching your belly grow, feeling the kicks, eventually seeing your whole belly move with each kick/movement. And all the while, preparing to meet your little one face-to-face. I love carrying life- and I’m so grateful God chose me to carry Viviana. The journey of being her mother- from conception through now, and I know, into the years to come- has been absolutely incredible, and filled with much joy. I’m so blessed!

And now, God’s chosen me to carry life again. He chose me to mother another child, and planted him/her within my womb. I’m carrying a secret….and it makes me smile.

I feel like I’ve been handed a gift, and keep peeling back layers and layers and layers of blessings attached to it. So many things that I’ve dreamed about experiencing someday, are slowly revealing themselves to me as reality. Like realizing I’ll get to feel the baby kick in my womb….feel the pressure of a baby moving down low, in preparation for labor….I’ll get to give birth again (!!!!)….watching my belly grow (and, yes, even wearing cute maternity clothes)…. I don’t deserve the blessings God’s showered on us….but I’m so grateful!

(excerpt from baby #2’s first journal entry…)

God planted you in my heart even before I conceived you. For a couple months, God’s put dreams of you and longings for you in my heart- and now He’s fulfilled those with you. I’m so, so thankful- I’ve spent all day thanking God for you….praying blessings for you….praying that you’ll be healthy.

You’re welcomed into a family full of love. I’m so excited to be pregnant again- looking forward to experiencing all the bonding things with you I did with Vivi- hearing your heartbeat, feeling you move, birthing you. And I can’t wait to meet you- to hold your beautiful body in my arms, and lock gazes. I love you!

For the non-sentimental details, my due date is about October 24th, which puts me at just over 4 weeks now. I feel fabulous- hungry all the time, and need to go to the bathroom every 5 minutes. I’m focusing majorly on my health, and have been for a little while (tons of water, consistency with multi vitamin, and plenty of protein/healthy fats), in hopes of maintaining my health, perhaps not falling as far as I did with Vivi into morning sickness, and being able to nourish Vivi (keeping up my milk supply) and the new baby in the ways they need.

Side note: Ben is very, very excited, too! We’ve had lots of fun dreaming, planning, and hoping together. And I feel so richly blessed to have a husband who loves children so much that he’s already taken this one into his heart!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Posion Ivy Oil Recipe

Every year, Ben gets poison ivy. Not just itchy red patches, but oozing blisters, too. And it spreads like crazy. No matter how careful he is, he ends up with it. The guy can get poison ivy just looking at it.

So, when we got married, I set out to find something that would work. He’d tried plenty of different things; nothing worked for him. I found this 5-ingredient recipe online, and decided it definitely wouldn’t hurt to give it a whirl. It actually worked! Better than other natural remedies, better than commercial products, better than everything. He’s still gotten poison ivy once or twice since then, but it never got beyond the itching phase. And usually, we were able to get rid of it before it spread much at all. We’d hit it as soon as a small patch appeared, and it generally disappears pretty quickly. We’ve also used it preventatively. Like last spring, when we were hiking and a branch hit his face- looking back, he discovered it was covered in poison ivy. As soon as we got home, we coated his phase in the oil, and he never got it. For him, that’s nothing short of miraculous. Since then, my mom’s used it with all my siblings (who aren’t so careful about avoiding poison ivy!), with excellent success, too.

I’ve also used it for treating eczema on myself, and it seemed to help some. I never found anything (even steroid creams from the doctor) that totally got rid of it, nor could I find a root allergy. However, it disappeared when I got pregnant, and hasn’t come back since! Hooray for pregnancy and breastfeeding hormones! People have also mentioned using it on all manner of skin wounds, including diaper rash, cuts, burns, etc. I have some other salves, so I haven’t tried that, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt! Someone asked about poison oak- I would be very surprised if it didn’t work.

This recipe makes an oil, which we keep in a squirt bottle, and rub on the affected area. However, you can also turn it into a salve, which would probably be a lot less messier, and easier to use on the go. One of these days, maybe I’ll try it… You can search online, basically you just add melted beeswax to your infused oil, so it’s thicker.

You need 1/3 part burdock root, 1/3 part comfrey leaf, and 1/3 part plantain leaf, as well as olive oil and lavender essential oil. All are dried- I haven’t tried working with fresh. I get my bulk herbs from More Than Alive, a great little business catering to health nuts. Put your herbs in a small saucepan and add enough oil to just cover them. Simmer on low for 1-2 hours, until the herbs are nice and crispy. Let cool; strain through a potato sack cloth or other thin cloth. Add 5 drops lavender essential oil per ounce of Poison Ivy Oil (1 TBL of oil = 1 ounce). This acts as a natural preservative, keeping everything fresh! Store in a squirt bottle, or make into a salve and store in small container.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Inspired

Through observances and conversations with Ben, as well as various things I’ve read lately, God’s been working some goals and resolves into my heart. Resolves to not let life stress me out. Period.

For anyone wondering about the sudden focus on weeding out stress in my life, no, my life isn’t currently stressful. I have one amazing husband and one precious, perfect daughter…a beautiful home in the most wonderful town…and great family/in-laws to boot. That doesn’t sound very stressful, now, does it? But I’ve observed so much stress in others’ lives- so much that it appears to totally overwhelm any joy they might be able to find in their lives…and it just seems really sad. I’ve also been reading some about stress and how many serious health issues are caused by prolonged stress/cortisol release. So, I’m just observing and learning and figuring out what I really don’t want for me, my husband, or my kid(s), under any circumstances. It’s not healthy for any of us. And kids shouldn’t have to grow up with a stressed out mom.

For the reality side…I know stress will hit. I know, if God continues to grow our family, there might be moments of feeling overwhelmed. Moments when someone will have to jab me and say, “But you said stress isn’t worth it….” When laundry’s piled to the ceiling and the house is a wreck. When 5 kids are all throwing up at the same time. Life isn’t a perfect walk through the park, and I know I won’t handle it perfectly. But that’s not a logical reason for aiming lower. It just means I know I’ll have to pick up every now and again and say, “okay, I failed, but we’re doing this again”. So….I’m not as totally nieve as I may sound, even though my experiences in life are limited- and maybe I am still slightly nieve.

The star I’m aiming for is one where I enjoy my husband and children everyday. Where I spend extra time just gazing at Vivi when she’s asleep, just because she’s too precious and beautiful to move out of the room. Where I drop my plans to do something sporadic with Ben. Where I spend as much time as possible with my Vivi girl, and any children God blesses me with in the future. Where, if someone I love dies, I won’t have any regrets about the life I shared with them.

Yesterday, I read an article about a baby girl who only had 7 months and 6 days with her family. (If you haven't read it yet, go do so. Then come back. :-))Her death wasn’t totally expected. I can’t help but imagine what if that was Vivi? What if God took her tomorrow….if today was the last day we had together? Or what if something happened to Ben? I can’t even begin to imagine, and I don’t want to. Amy (the baby’s mother), could’ve had so many regrets. Emily kept her up much of the night before she died, with a fever. Amy could’ve been upset over the loss of sleep, but instead, she cherished the moments of nursing her daughter alone in the dark. I bet she’s so thankful she did. Amy wore Emmy (and her other babies) while doing anything and everything….I bet she’s thankful now that she soaked up every possible minute with her daughter. In hindsight, one would never regret spending countless hours with their babies and children everyday, even if the child outlived you. But for some reason, too many of us tend to loose site of that until calamity strikes or those busy years of mothering young children are long over.

Cleaning your house isn’t a bad thing. But seriously….is the dust on the ceiling fan really more important than your own children? Is stressing out over some laundry or undone meals really worth what it puts your family through? On a side note, because I can’t resist….that’s why I promote babywearing and working along side your children. Of course you should clean your house and prepare nutritious meals- just not to the detriment of relationships with your family. Babywearing and incorporating your other children helps it all work together.

I’m not a perfect mom, or wife, or a perfect anything, for that matter. But I do love being a wife and mom, and I want my family to know it...and I want to live my life to the fullest possible degree- which, for me, means enjoying and cherishing the relationships God’s given me.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

On Why I Love Babywearing....

I’ve written before on why I think babywearing is healthy emotionally, developmentally, socially and physically…not to mention its conveniences and so forth.

But today, I’m not thinking about the science or practicalities….today, I’m feeling sentimental and I’m thinking about all the reasons I just love babywearing. I’m starting to miss babywearing. Of course, I still wear my 22 pound 9 month old baby. And I hope to wear her for years to come- in fact, I would really love to wear her with a younger sibling, someday. But I used to wear her for 16 hours a day. Every day. We woke up, I put her in a carrier, we enjoyed the day together, we spent hours pacing the hall or bouncing on an exercise ball to help her settle down….and eventually, we went to bed together. The exception was when I started getting her down for a 20-30 minute nap once a week or so. And then she started taking all her naps down- which was my doing, because she’s such a light sleeper I thought she’d do better if we could get to a place of nursing her to sleep in our bed and leaving her. And she went to bed a couple hours or better before Ben and I. Now, she actually enjoys floor time. She cracks up and laughs and knocks down stuff Ben and I build her. She sits up and bangs stuff together. She tries desperately to scooch around, even. And I wonder everyday….where did my baby go?

What with the hours we spend on the floor together, her naps (which usually total 2-3 hours), and spending the later afternoons/evenings hanging out with daddy (which means I don’t wear her much then, either, because we’re all interacting together- and when we walk, it’s daddy’s turn to wear), that doesn’t leave much time for wearing her. Which makes me just a little bit sad…. These days, I probably wear her about 3 hours a day, on average. More if I’m having a really active day, like taking care of 100 pounds of meat or doing a lot of housework. Or more if we’re gone in the evenings. And, of course, I always wear her when we shop- but that’s usually only about 30 minutes a week. I bet there’s even days when I wear her less than 3 hours- like when we’re having a sewing marathon, and she just sits on my lap and tries to twist all the buttons on the sewing machine, or pull the pins.

This is a beautiful season of life, don’t get me wrong. I adore my baby girl’s laugh. It’s so much fun to watch her try to fit Wedgits together. I love watching her explore and twist knobs on the sewing machine. I love all her gabbing. I love snuggling together and playing on the floor together. I love the benefits of getting an evening with Ben every night. I love the beautiful girl she’s blossoming into. It’s special to see her growing in independence- a perfectly natural thing…it’s so beautiful to watch her grab it of her own accord, instead of having forced her into it prematurely. I love my life, simply put.

So….what is it I love about babywearing? Mostly, I love holding my baby close to me all day. I love having her right there where I can kiss her beautiful head over and over. Where we can smile at each other and rub noses. I love letting her explore my world. I love the companionship. I love the feeling of a soft, beautiful body nestled up against me. I love the constant reminder that I’m a mom….a mom! I love knowing that I can be the mom of my ideals (well, more or less….you know, shoot for the stars and you’ll hit the moon…), and still take care of life. I love the fact that I can meet all my daughter’s emotional needs, without getting stressed out- because we just face life together, instead of her taking away from my ability to get the dishes done.

Vivi’s growing up so fast, and we’ve already encountered so many changes. That’s a pattern that is going to continue for some time. Babywearing helps me capture each moment. It enables me to drink in every minute of being a mother to this priceless gift. I’m not saying it’s wrong for you, but I can’t personally imagine if she spent hours of her day in different seats and contraptions from an early age on. I just can’t personally imagine missing out on that many hours of her life, while I did something menial (that could be done with her!), like dusting or laundry or cleaning bathrooms. Even though we don’t babywear nearly as much now, thanks to babywearing, we still share our entire days together. She “helps” me with my work, and I enjoy playing with her when she’s ready to stretch and explore.

Sure, babywearing’s convenient. It has lots of benefits. It’s healthy. It helps her grow in natural independence. I could spin you a lot of scientific information- and already have. And all those things are great tools for selling other people on babywearing. They’re great extra advantages for me, too. I mean, no one’s going to argue against being able to easily manage a household, are they?

But for me….for why I babywear….it’s just because I love it. Because I love being a mom. Because life is too short to miss out on a single minute of my daughter’s life, for the sake of something trivial. As Vivi grows up, I’m going to keep on enjoying sharing life with her- I can hardly imagine it, but I know it’ll only be a matter of months before she’s standing on a chair in the kitchen, spilling flour everywhere. But I hope God blesses me with more babies to wear and nurture in the upcoming years…because, there’s still nothing like a newborn cradled against your body, totally content just to be with you!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Zinnia

Would I have changed how I had lived
If only I had known
Our love was like a zinnia
With just a year to glow?

Would I have been more careful watering,
That I might feed the bloom,
To make her all the prettier
Before she met her doom?

Would I have gazed with more delight
Upon her gorgeous face,
To relish all her beauty
And savor every taste?

Would I have danced among her fragrance
Abandoned to her bliss,
Awakened to the joy God’s given
Beyond my greatest wish?

Would I have counted every petal
And thanked God for each one,
To make the most of every treasure
Whatever else may come?

Would I have changed how I had lived
If the future was disclosed?
Will I embrace the zinnia
When I longed for a rose?

If I just have a year to love,
May I accept the gift,
And cherish every moment
Before our paths have split.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Preparing for a Homebirth (Part 2 of 2)

EDITED TO ADD: A reader kindly pointed out to me that I may have come across the wrong way, so I wanted to clarify some things. Despite the best preparation, a great midwife, etc., etc. things still can go wrong. We live in a fallen world, and no matter how much preparation you do, emergencies still happen. Just as you might go through a miscarriage in spite of perfect pregnancy nutrition. Or your marriage might fall apart even though you knew you were following God’s leading. Or any number of bad things that shouldn’t happen- but do. And when something goes wrong, I’m extremely grateful I have hospitals I can go to. There isn’t any amount of know-how that can prevent unforeseen things from happening.

If your birth happened to not go as planned, it doesn’t bother me for you to share your story. In fact, I’d like to hear the miracle of your birth, and how medical intervention potentially saved the life of your baby. I “know” (via the world wide web :-)) a woman who planned a homebirth, but had cord prolapse (the cord started coming out first). Thanks to her know-how, and a wonderful medical team who worked fast once they got to the hospital, she’s enjoying her 7 month old boy today. And she is so, so grateful! She often shares his birth story- what a miracle it was, how grateful she was that there were medical professionals to save his life when it was needed. She has zero regrets about his birth, because Apollo is alive, healthy, and thriving.

That said, what I don’t appreciate is those who have perfectly normal births (which could be “pain free” if they were taught and helped to understand the miracle of birth), with no complications, who view birth so negatively, and make it their life’s mission to make sure every other woman sees things the same way. I’ve encountered women with emergency situations who didn’t have the births they wanted, but they understand birth as a miracle, even if theirs wasn’t what they wanted. What I’ve also encountered is women who cry and moan and gripe about how miserable their labor/delivery was….perfectly normal, some even relatively short labors, and only a few pushes or a ½ hour’s worth. Women who target younger women and make sure they realize that birth is a curse. This is what I don’t like, because we’re just creating a vicious cycle, and passing down fear (and consequently, pain) to the next generation.

So- if you’ve experienced complications, you should definitely be able to talk about it with people. Share that births don’t always go as planned. But when someone experiences a normal birth made painful by lack of education, and does their best to indoctrinate everyone they can get their hands on, and resent or “poo-poo” you if you have other ambitions or a good birth, I don’t appreciate it.

Anyway….on to part two… :-) And I hoped that clarified without riling more feathers!

~*~

Next on the list is gathering supplies for your birth. It’s a lot of fun, but it can also seem a bit overwhelming. I personally really enjoyed doing my order from www.inhishands.com, but there’s lots of websites out there. Also, many of the supplies can be purchased from Walmart or another like store. For an easy start-out reference, I’ll list what all I purchased (and stored together so it was all right there) and why, but make sure to check with your midwife. Some require you to get more things than others- for example, mine always has a bulb syringe and sterile gloves with her, but yours might depend on you to have those things. She should have a complete list for you of what you’re required to provide.

1) Bed pads- I got about 30, which gave me tons of extra (especially since I did a water birth). If you did a land birth, you’d have these spread out to deliver on, they’re also useful afterwards to prevent leaking everywhere during your heavier bleeding phase. My midwife also put her instruments on one. I also “wore” it instead of underwear the first several hours (with an additional pad inside), as it seemed like I was bleeding to much to even begin to try to keep underwear clean.

2) 4x4 guaze pads- I purchased about 25 (again, plenty left over!), and used these primarily for cord care after the birth, but it served a few random purposes during the birth, as well.

3) Several (4-8, depending on where you’re delivering) flannel-backed table cloths. You can usually get seasonal ones really cheap after the holiday (summer ones in August, fall ones after Thanksgiving, etc.). In the case of a water birth, they were helpful to have under the pool, and a trail to the bathroom so I didn’t get the floor wet or have to worry about getting perfectly dry to use the bathroom. In the case of a land birth, they’re good under a sheet for making clean up easier and preventing any damaging leaks. Even though I delivered in the pool, I also put one under our sheets on the bed for the first few days, to prevent against any major blood or milk leaks (I had a major-huge milk supply!).

4) 10-12 old towels- These might serve a variety of purposes during a land or water birth. They were helpful to have on hand, and we ended up using most or all of them.

5) 10-12 wash clothes- I didn’t end up using any, but these would be useful if you wanted a hot or cold compress. Or, if you’re doing a land birth, a washcloth soaked in an herbal tea (see below) would be helpful for supporting the perineum.

6) Several old receiving blankets. These are a little optional if you already have towels, since baby can be wrapped in those, but it was handy to have them available.

7) Specific to a water birth, a fish net (for catching light debris in the water), hose, hose sink adapter, and kiddie pool or large bathtub (in which case you don’t need the hose/adapter) are all necessary.

8) Paper towels- for any random use that might come up; they were nice to have right there in the box.

9) Ice cream buckets or other buckets/bowls for placenta, stomach that doesn’t work with you, etc.

10) Large garbage bags- at least two, one for storing dirty/wet laundry in, and one for garbage.

11) A pot for sterilizing the midwife’s equipment, and possibly a tray/cookie sheet for laying them on.

12) Labor/delivery clothes. For me (besides some old, comfy clothes for when I was out of the water), it was finding a swim top, since I wanted some type of coverage, and didn’t want to deal with a baggy shirt that would float up, get in the way, be clingy, and an overall pain. Of course, there’s the nude route, too, if you prefer that deal… J

13) Step stool, exercise ball, birthing stool, or anything else you might want to labor or deliver on.

14) Baby hat for right after the birth. This is when the list gets fun, right? Just thinking about putting the hat on freshly-immerged baby makes me smile!

15) Camera, paper, and pen. The camera either for capturing the birth or right afterwards, or both. The paper and pen was to have handy for recording stats. We also kept a fairly detailed account throughout the labor of different things we’d want to remember for help in writing the birth story. It was really nice to be able to write down the times at which things happened, or the small details we might forget, because I love birth stories, and recording my daughter’s was really important to me.

16) Olive oil in a squirt bottle. One of my mom’s midwives told her this trick, and it’s worked wonders for all her babies since, as well as babies of other mamas we know and have shared with. Just squirt it on their cute bum when you change them, and it’ll help the meconium slide off.

17) Clothes for baby, for after the birth. This, of course, depends on the time of year, but would probably include at least a diaper, hat (in case the other gets dirty or wet), a receiving blanket, and a onesie- a sleeper and so forth during cooler months. Also hydrogen peroxide and gauze for cord care.

18) Clothes for mama- whatever you’re most comfortable in.

19) A peri bottle. It’s available extremely cheaply from birthing supply companies; or someone recently told me you could also just use any old squirt bottle, such as a cleaned out mustard container. This is useful (necessary?) for cleaning up after using the bathroom the first several days (or, in my case, few weeks), when you’re especially tender. Besides just warm water, I also started putting a healing tea (see below) in it some of the time to, and spraying off with that. It was very soothing and healing.

20) Pads of all shapes and sizes! I started with poise pads and worked my way down from there, eventually to regular sizes, as the blood flow decreased. I also got some OB pads from the birthing supply company (though any pads would work) to soak in the healing herbs and freeze, which were wonderful. The ice was so soothing! The first several hours after Vivi’s birth, I wore one of those (changing frequently) in a bed pad folded around me, which worked really well. For the first weeks, ice, mostly in the form of these, was my life saver. It was nice and numbing! Next time, I plan to have a variety of homemade cloth pads on hand, to use after the initial few days.

21) Healing herbal mixture (sometimes called a sitz bath herbal mixture). Particularly, I got this one. I think these herbs helped my healing so extensively. Besides the peri bottle and frozen pads, I also used it to do a bath a couple times (just filled the water level enough to cover my vagina). I waited almost two weeks till I tried the bath, and wished afterward I’d done it much sooner- it made such a significant difference that I felt way less sore coming out of the tub than going in. You could also purchase a sitz bath from a birthing supply company or local drug store fairly inexpensively, and forgo the need to fill the whole tub. More information on how exactly I used this herb can be found here.

22) A salve that my midwife makes, as well as Miracle Salve from Beeyoutiful. I put one of these on every time I went to the bathroom, unless I was spraying off with the healing herbs. I also occasionally used tucks (from local drug store) to soothe the burning. These salves have such great healing properties! On a side note, they’re also my diaper rash ointments, as opposed to traditionals, like desitin. No harmful chemicals, and lots of soothing, healing herbs.

I guess that makes for quite a list! Don’t get overwhelmed by the details; much of it you’ll find in your home! I just like to have a thorough list to check off so I know for sure I have everything.

~*~

Moving right along, the last item that came to mind was nesting and preparing for the rest time after the birth. I think it’s so cool how God designed us pregnant women- that in spite of the awkwardness of a large belly in the third trimester, there’s something in us that absolutely must get everything done. There’s a need to dust baseboards and clean out old, forgotten storage areas. There’s a need to vacuum furniture, clean light fixtures, wash windows….you name it, we’ve probably thought of it. Then, of course, there’s simply staying caught up on the more weekly or daily stuff- laundry, cleaning bathrooms, keeping kitchen clean, wiping surfaces, mopping, vacuuming, etc. I think this has two-fold benefits, which is why it’s really neat that God naturally drives us to do it. One is that these things will all be done before the munchkin arrives, and therefore you can let the deep cleaning slide for a good while, as you enjoy your precious new life- you’ll also initially be caught up on the daily/weekly stuff. The other is that you’re welcoming baby into a clean place, free from dust (which nobody wants in their new baby’s lungs), and various other dirt particles. This seems all the more important to me if you plan to deliver at home, although it should be noted that many studies have shown that homebirths are far cleaner and more “sterile” than hospital births, so this isn’t a factor to worry about.

I loved the feeling of a clean home to welcome our daughter into, with all the little nooks and crannies attended to, and the regular work caught up on. It made it easier to relax and let things slide, it made our home feel like a good place to welcome our little one into….all around, it was just good. How awesome that when we might not have the personal motivation due to size and energy level to conquer this ourselves, God made a way- natural instinct!

Another form of this, for me, was cleaning out my freezers and stocking up on meals. Whether you have a fast delivery and heal quickly, and are therefore ready to roll on day one, or have a longer recovery period, you’ll be grateful for the meals on hand. The idea of having lots of time just to enjoy your new baby (and any other littles you have, as well), is beautiful. I think the time after the birth should be a time of much relaxing and just enjoying life together as a new family, before reality needs to hit. There have been seasons during which my mom received meals when I was still at home, and technically capable of getting them done- but each meal was so appreciated, because it left us with an unscheduled day in which we just spent lots of time together. The littles got extra of Mom and I, and we all fought over holding the baby for extended periods of time. Bliss…. After Viviana, it was a while before I was bouncing around anyway, so the meals from other people, and in my freezer, were a huge blessing. But even if I had had a short delivery, it was so much fun to just drink in our daughter’s beauty, that I know I wouldn’t have wanted to trade it in for productivity.

One friend of mine does 30 full days of meals- breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and desserts. That’s rather ambitious, and would certainly be a huge blessing afterwards! But whether you do 30 full days, 30 dinners, or just a week’s worth, you’ll be blessed by the effort put in ahead of time. Something else that was helpful (since you only have so much freezer space) is just having partially-done meals. Like having meatballs made/cooked for sandwiches or spaghetti. Having ground beef cooked and spiced. Having chicken cut the way I wanted it, in different marinades, or just cooked, chopped, and ready for casseroles. That’s actually something I always like to have done, to make life a little easier, especially when something throws a wrench in plans. You won’t regret that one, either….especially when it’s 4:30, everyone’s hungry, and it’s just been “one of those days”. If you had nothing, you might be tempted to fall for ordering pizza- again, for the third night in the past couple weeks. But if your freezer’s full of starters, you’re sure to find something that would take less time than picking up pizza would. (Not that ordering pizza as a last-minute resort is a bad thing, because family is first, and sometimes there are just those days….it just doesn’t work on a constantly regular basis. J)

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Childbirth is a beautiful thing, and I hope you’re blessed as you prepare for your birth! God designed it to be a beautiful process- and He’s given us all the tools we need for it to be so. May your journey be full of the best!