Sunday, June 24, 2012

Tidbits: Oh, the things they do...and say...

The last 10 days have been a whirlwind, yet I count every day as a blessing. In doing discipleship with a friend this week, we got to talking about John 21:11-13:
 Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.
So many times, we miss the little miracles. Yeah, we get the big ones all around these verses- Jesus raises from the dead, appears to the disciples (this is the 3rd time), Peter walks on water, the nets were full of fish... But...Dd you see it? The nets- not broken, not torn, no repair needed. Let's completely low ball it- a good friend's husband says 5 lbs per fish, think 450 lbs. And John tells us they are "large fish, 153," to be exact- no small feat! But do we see a parable attached? Do we see the disciples falling on their faces, in adoration for their Lord, and that the nets didn't tear? Nope. We look over the little things so often. Jesus simply made them breakfast in their awe.

I am making it a point to recognize the little things. To know that, while my kids are young, boisterous, and rebellious at times, it will pass. That yeah, we can't always pay bills on time, but we have each other. We are healthy. We have a roof over our heads. We believe in  God that is so many things to us- Creator, Redeemer, Provider, Counselor, and so much more!

So here are the tidbits from the last 10 days or so...Enjoy!

Levi is fascinated with what makes him a boy, and that his brother has one too.  Tonight, the kids were in the bath together...Micah is trying to have "relaxation" and is basically meditating. He has decided that the bath tub is the perfect place to lay down, close his eyes, sink in, and forget he has a mom to listen to. While he was under with his eyes closed, Levi was trying to rip Micah's floating, um, goods off. I tell Levi that "pee pees are not for touching" and try to distract him. I tell Micah to sit up unless he wants to end up in pain. I pop out to get towels, and then I turn around and Micah has a set of stacking cups in the most appropriate of areas for "ultimate protection" and Levi is laughing hysterically. Oh, my boys...

I am really starting to notice my body changing.  We are really trying to avoid using our dryer much, and Jose's mom gave us a dryer cleaning kit to help our old machine along. I got all gun-ho about using it, started taking the dryer apart, and got in WAY over my head. I tried to move the dryer (what was I thinking?!) to get behind it and just started laughing at my self. Like I could fit back there and bend over, hah! I had to call Jose in for back up, who was just shaking his head at me the whole time. Wait until I start nesting...

 I think the dog is going into heat, and she took it out on our bathroom floor. Oh my goodness...that one was a huge mess. When she goes in heat (this is the second time), she gets diarrhea before hand. We went out all morning running errands, and when we came home it was like a war zone in our bathroom. Jose has bowel issues since having his gall bladder out, and he was in the boys bathroom probably 5 times doing his thing. At the same time, I was up to my elbows in bleach, towels, and black trash bags trying to contain the Hazmat situation on our floor. Thank God it was on tile, not the carpet!

God provided Jose with a new job!  In case you didn't hear, Jose accepted a position as a Medical/Peds/Onc nurse at St. Lucie Medical Center. He starts his orientation on July 10. And it's DAYS! I am so excited to have a husband that is able to sleep in the same bed as me again, and not have to keep the kids corralled on one side of the house and shushed up. God is so good!

And last but not least, I'll throw in a funny breastfeeding joke for kicks: 
The night before, Jose had woken Levi up while checking on him,  and I had to nurse him back to sleep forever. The next night went like this:

: If you wake Levi up, I am going to make you pay with YOUR boobs.
Jose: I can't pay. I have insufficient funds. Buahahahaha.

Oh, baby. You're lucky you're suave.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Creating Your Birth Plan

A few weeks ago, I was asked to help teach a class at our local CareNet, which is a Christ-centered crisis pregnancy center. There was two topics for me to teach that night: Creating Your Birth Plan, and Coping Measures During Labor. Tonight, I give you the first section that I wrote. SO much to think about!

Creating Your Birth Plan
What is a birth plan? Put plain and simple, a birth plan is a way to communicate your wishes to the doctors, nurses, and midwives who will care for you during labor and delivery. It is not something that is set in stone; it simply lets them know your preferences. Remember that things can (and sometimes do) go wrong, and it is important to try and be flexible when that happens in order to best protect your wellbeing and your baby’s. It is something that is optional, not required, for you to bring with you to the hospital. It is best to start writing your plan and have your preferences figured out BEFORE you go in to labor! If you are unsure about a certain procedure during labor and delivery, be sure to ask your midwife or doctor.

How do I prepare to write one?
The best way is to do your research before you write one. Ask questions to women you know and trust will give you good advice about child birth. Stay away from seeking opinions from women you know who will only give you horror stories about their birth. Research what interventions are commonly done at hospitals or birthing centers in your area (epidurals, episiotomies, C-sections, forceps, IV accesses, external fetal monitoring, and the like). An intervention is anything that does not occur during natural, healthy delivery. For example, Lawnwood Regional Medical Center has a 44% cesarean section rate, and most area hospitals are close to 100% on the intervention rate: you can't even get away without an IV unless you sign an "Against Medical Advice" (AMA) waiver. Again, if you don’t understand much about a procedure, then ask! Once you understand what an intervention is, what it’s risks or benefits are, and how they affect your labor, you can make a better decision about if it’s right for you and your baby. Also remember to talk with the people you plan on having with you during labor. Your husband or support partner may have opinions about how he or she thinks labor should go. It’s a team effort to have a baby!

What should I include in my plan?

  • First, decide where you want to have your baby. A birthing center, a hospital, or a homebirth with a midwife? There are many options to choose from. Take in to consideration your health during pregnancy, as well as the baby’s health.

  • Next, you may wish to discuss who you want to be with you for support during your labor. Most hospitals will not limit you as to who you want present during labor and delivery, unless you are in an operating room for a C-section (then it’s one person). Words to the wise- don’t invite more than a couple of people to be with you. It can turn in to a competition for your attention, and take your focus off what you need to accomplish.

  • Talk about positions for labor and birth with your midwife or doctor. Would you prefer to be on your side? Walking? Upright with pillows behind you? On a birth ball? Rocking chair? In the shower or tub (my personal favorite)? The possibilities are endless, provided your care provider is on board with you. Your preferences may change depending on how the baby is positioned in the birth canal. Talk with your provider about what options are open to you.

  • Discuss the atmosphere you want during labor. Did you know you can bring music with you? Have the lights dim? Do you want to bring your own pillows or blanket for comfort? Do you want to wear your own clothes or a hospital gown? Are you allowed to be mobile, to help speed along delivery? Will you want to incorporate a certain childbirth technique (Bradley, Lamaze, hypnobirth, etc)? Do you wish to be allowed to eat lightly or drink?

  • Pain relief is a huge topic. Would you like to have your baby without any pain medication? Do you want to consider IV pain medication, or do you want an epidural? Remember- there are many things to take into consideration regarding the baby and your health if you want to have pain medication. Any pain medication you have WILL be passed to your baby through the placenta. If you plan on breastfeeding, it may affect how awake your baby is and his or her ability to breastfeed during the first few hours.

  • Speeding up labor is sometimes necessary if the baby is in distress, but often times used much more casually. Many times a mom will be given Pitocin to speed up her contractions. This can also make labor much more painful, and can cause unnecessary complications due to a doctor being impatient. Be sure to discuss with your doctor or midwife when they would use Pitocin, what the risks and benefits are, and that they are not just using it so they can get home to their families.

  • You will most likely have you and your baby’s heart rate monitored during labor. Discuss how you feel about external fetal monitoring, internal fetal monitoring, or Doppler monitoring.

  • Discuss how you feel about assistance during pushing- this includes having a forceps delivery (basically using tongs to help pull the head out), an episiotomy (an incision made to the surrounding skin to make it wider for the head), a vacuum delivery (having a vacuum suck the baby’s head out), and other interventions. Research the risks, benefits, and why you would need to have any of these included in birth. Decide whether you would rather allow your self to tear if need be, or to have an episiotomy done.

  • Discuss with your provider what positions you will be able to push in. Depending on the provider and the baby's position in the birth canal, having the freedom to push in a position that is not what you see on TV can greatly ease your pushing. Pushing in the water, using a birthing stool, being on your hands and knees, or being upright/semi-squatting with someone to support behind you can all be effective in pushing your baby out.

  • Talk about skin to skin contact after birth, whether you have a C-section or vaginal birth. Some providers encourage it, and some you have to ask. It greatly helps to regulate the baby’s body temperature, helps to promote bonding between you and baby, helps to regulate the baby's heart beat after birth, and also helps to stimulate breast milk production. Side note: After my first birth, I was actually chastised by a nurse at the local hospital for skin to skin contact after birth, being told that my baby would end up "sick" if I didn't put some clothes on him. His temperature was perfect (imagine that!) from my body heat and the fuzzy blanket on top of him. Sometimes you do have to educate the health care professionals around you- of course, in a non -confrontational way.

  • If you have a C-section, discuss where you would like to have the baby after birth. If the baby is recovering well, would you like to have the baby with you? Or would you prefer to have a family member go with the baby to the nursery?

  • Decide what you would like to happen immediately after the birth. Is there a special person you wish to have the honor of cutting the cord? I recommend asking that the cord not be cut until it stops pulsating, so the baby can recieve all of it's blood from the placenta. Do you want to bank any of the baby's cord blood? Speaking of the placenta, do you wish anything to be done to it? Some people wish for it to be discarded, or to take it home and plant it under a tree, or do something else ceremonially with it.

  • Make and educated decision about how you wish to feed your baby. There is no right or wrong way to feed your baby, but there are definite benefits to breastfeeding that bottle feeding does not compare with. If you decide to breastfeed, ask for help from the nurses to breastfeed your baby within the baby's first hour of life, if possible. It's called "the golden hour," and babies that are able to latch on in this time period do significantly better.

  • Next, talk about whether you want your baby to room in with you or stay in the nursery. Most mothers today wish to keep their babies with them, but if you need some rest, you can ask that the nursery keep your baby and bring him or her to you when the baby is ready to be fed. Keeping baby with you will help cement your bond and kick those maternal instincts in. Don't be afraid to ask for your baby, you worked hard to get them here!

Remember, a doctor or midwife is someone that you choose, effectively "hire," and if you do not feel comfortable with the way that they practice in the delivery room, or the way that you will be managed during labor, it is OKAY to seek out a different doctor or midwife. Being comfortable and not having to fear about the way a provider will treat you during birth can greatly effect the outcome of your birth. You can be as in control of your birth as you want to be (provided you and baby are laboring in a safe, healthy way), and don't forget to speak up for your self!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Preggo Update: 23 weeks-ish

Baby Jessica, born at 23 weeks, now 3 1/2 years old. It's hard to believe that babies can still be aborted at this age in many states, even though they can grow and thrive into healthy children. Clearly, she is a person!

How Far Am I: As of Wednesday, 23 weeks. Almost to "viability week," but we are not counting on having to worry about a viable baby- I am trusting in God that I go to at least 37 weeks so I can have a home birth! Never had any issues with early labor, so we are trucking right along.

Baby's Gender: It looks like blue is going to be in our future again! Jose (so far) has been a straight shooter...There is still a small possibility of the baby being a girl, but based on what we were able to see, we are thinking "boy" and planning accordingly. However, if we weren't able to get a good view, and it is indeed a girl, than we would be excited too! 

How Much Weight Have I Gained: +5 lbs. I talked to our midwife, Jyl, at our appointment last Tuesday and she basically said I am on track with my weight gain. I shouldn't gain more than about 20 lbs total- starting out overweight means you can be fine with gaining less, or even losing weight in some cases. I am trying to continue to make healthy choices, indulge every once in a while, and just mind my body, so my body can mind my baby.

Cravings: None as of late! Just eating smaller, more frequent meals to avoid heartburn and feeling like my blood sugar is crashing. Sometimes after running around after the kids all day, I forget to eat/drink for my self, so I try to grab small things through out the day.

Baby Movement: Lots! The baby is moving enough that Jose can feel him occasionally now. No big jabs- mostly turning, poking, little kicks. Micah and Levi were both VERY active babies, and with my short frame, made my belly contort in not nice feeling ways after about 28 weeks. I am praying for a little mellower baby, so that I can actually get rest at night when I need it.

Body Changes: So far, I haven't obtained any more service stripes than I already had. I am using lotion or coconut oil (love that stuff!) quite a bit. The swelling bump has made Jose and I have to start getting creative in the bedroom, which is fine with us. And luckily I have only had major swelling after our cruise vacation, and then it went away after about 2 weeks of being back. I get a little swollen in the hands/feet in the evening if I have too much salt, but again, I am just trying to watch my diet. Other than a little round ligament pain here and there, no complaints!
Odd angle (Jose lying on the floor) but you get the gist!
Sleep Habits: I am getting about 7 hours a night. I am noticing that if I drink much in the evening, that by about 5 am I have to get up and pee. And pillows are becoming my best friend!

What Micah (5) /Levi (16 mos) Think of the Baby: Micah tells us that he is so excited for having another boy around. He knows that if God gives us something different than we were planning on (a girl) that it is fine, too...although I don't know how he feels about having girl toys around. Some of Jose and my closest friends have a boy that is 6 months old, so I have been trying to let Levi see me with another baby. He mostly just comes and sits down to investigate for a minute, then takes off to see what ever else his big brother is up to.

Baby Prep So Far:  Absolutely nothing! We have decided that sometime this summer, we will move Levi's crib into Micah's room and get them used to sleeping together. The new baby will be in with us until at least the spring, so once Levi transitions to the bottom bunk in him and Micah's room, the crib will go back to the nursery and the new baby can make the switch.

I finished sorting out all of the baby/kids clothes by appropriate sizes, and put them in labelled bins to eliminate closet mess. It looks like we are okay on clothes. After multiple children, some of the clothes just couldn't be handed down. Even so, it looks like we should be alright on clothes- not too much, just enough :)

I also made a registry on our cloth diapering retailer's website. If we have a shower, than people who want to can order something off there that we will actually use, instead of shooting in the dark or buying more toys, etc...

Eventually we will get a new car seat (the one we used with Levi was a hand-me-down from a friend, and the shade bit the dust), but first we have to see what kind of vehicle we are going to be in. We are most likely selling our SUV in order to help pay off some debts and make monetary strain a little easier, but we aren't sure yet if we are going to just have our Escort, or if we are going to try and save this summer/fall for a van that is larger. We are going to try being a one-vehicle family for the summer and see if it works out. I figure having one vehicle while school is out will be a good trial period.

Birth Prep: Jose and I are reading, reading, reading. Birth manifesto books. Books about nurturing touch during labor. Books about the promises that God has for child-baring. What to do during emergency situations during birth. Micah viewed a video of a home water birth with me. Some people may think that it is absurd to let a child see what birth is like- the sounds, what it looks like, what the mother goes through- but I want Micah to be genuinely prepared with the fact that if he is present, he may see me in pain...may see me bleed...may hear me make noises...and that it's okay. It's NORMAL, in fact. Our most recent generations have minimal knowledge of what normal child birth and breastfeeding looks like, and I want our children to know that it is a normal, healthy part of bringing life into the world, and it's what God created a mom's body to be able to do. He was extremely interested in it, and asked if he could see. I was very matter-of-fact in pointing out what was happening and answering his questions, and he moved right along with the rest of his afternoon.

Name Ideas:  We have nothing pinned down at this point. We like a BUNCH of names, but nothing has really jumped out and been "the name."  It's hard when you are a bi-ethnic family to name. And most people don't think that, because Jose looks European, but reality is...he is a Spaniard. Which means some names are off the table because either his family can't say them, or they sound absolutely ridiculous with a Spanish flair added to them. For instance, telling Jose's aunts in Spain on the webcam this week of a name we liked (Luka Cristiano), I got this response (translated): "Lucas...Lucas...meh, it's okay..." "No, Tia, it's Luka. No S. Just Luka." "Luka? What weird names you guys have in America."

Soooo, yeah. But then with Micah, it was "Formica. Everyone is going to say Formica like the counter top. Who's this present for? Formica." And Levi was no better. "Levi? What's his middle name going to be, Strauss? At least you'll know he wears the pants later on." Can't make everyone happy. You just go with your gut, and pick an honorable name.

Plus Sized, Nursing, and Pregnant: Levi is still happily nursing away most days, but I am able to distract him most times and hold him off until nap/bed time. He is gradually weaning, and only nurses about 3 or less times daily. Some days, he won't nurse at all (a nice break for mommy). I think I am going to try converting some of my regular jeans to maternity jeans. I have never been very pregnant in the summer, and it's HOT! So my hatred of shorts is not really helping the being-hot-all-the-time issue. The other thing I am encountering is that with my last two pregnancies, I threw up about 20 lbs worth, then slowly gained it back, and topped out about 15 lbs of total weight gain. This time around, I have only gained 5 lbs, but it already puts me close to my delivery weights for the other needless to say, I already feel like a heifer.