Mommy and Me

Mommy and Me
Sharing life with you is fullfilling

Sunday, November 13, 2016

What does it mean to be pro-choice?

I've been called out as someone who has had an abortion... let me be clear, I have not had an abortion, do not condone or support abortion, and will never support them, however I have been in a situation that very closely if you don't know the details resembles an abortion, and had things gone differently would have been an abortion.  Let me explain.
In December of 2011 I started to bleed as if on a normal period, it seemed very normal so I'm going to assume it was, however that would have meant that around Christmas I would have become pregnant, I didn't however know this when I began to bleed again for what I assumed was an early period, the information is more clear in another post of mine and you are free to look it up, but I'm going to be brief here on the details.  The second 'bleeding' was extremely heavy, and I ended up having my husband take me to the ER.  I couldn't imagine any reason why I would be bleeding so heavily.
In the ER they gave me a blood test to determine if I were pregnant and to determine other things, the results came back positive for pregnancy.  I was astounded, because not only did they just inform me of pregnancy, but also the loss of a baby, because at the time I was sure I was in that moment miscarrying.  I was wrong about the miscarriage though, as it turned out I was pregnant another three weeks.  During those three weeks I had multiple blood tests to check the level of the pregnancy hormone in my system.  I also had multiple ultrasounds to determine why I was bleeding, but for three weeks no one could find my baby.  I prayed it was just so tiny, or that I'd already lost it, but I also prayed that my baby was safe, that it would grow stronger, and I fretted over each and every blood draw, and prayed that my baby would defy all odds.
January 26th I went to the ER for what seemed like the billionth time.. this time was different though.  This time they found my baby.  As is policy in the ER they wouldn't let me see the screen during the ultrasound, though I wanted so badly to get a glimpse of my baby, even if I was to lose that baby, I wanted to see it.  But I didn't get that privilege.  Instead the ultrasound tech finished up her work, and left the room.  Patrick also left the room to call his mom who was watching our children.
Someone came in with a medic kit and placed it on the bed and said I would be moving to another part of the hospital soon.  I didn't understand anything that was happening and no one told me, until a nurse came in and nonchalantly told me that I was about to be taken to the OR for the removal of my ectopic pregnancy.  I didn't at that moment even know if they had found my baby, and when she realized that she apologized profusely and left the room completely embarrassed for the way I had just found out my child was about to die.  The child that I had mourned over, prayed for, and yearned to have a reason to hope for....
Then they did move me, they took my hospital bed down a very long hall that lead to another building, the place babies are actually born.  And they began to talk to me about what was going to happen.  I'm a doula, I know I have choice... I know I can tell them I don't want certain things, I know I have rights to informed consent... but all that was shot to hell when I was told what was about to happen to me, and my child.  I did at one point ask if I could refuse the surgery, and a confused and compassionate nurse informed me that doing so would endanger my life, and that I would potentially die, but yes I did have that right.
How could I choose to honor my own life above that of my child though?  How could I choose me over a baby?  All the way down that incredibly long hallway I prayed, I cried, I asked God to please take my baby before I could be called a murderer... I am pro-life, how could I be here, in this situation?  How could I argue for the life of children if I choose my life over that of my child?  This was perhaps the biggest moment of my life, where my entire belief system came crashing around me asking, demanding answers to things that were previously far away, and irrelevant to me.
In the end believing that I had no choice but either the death my child or of both myself and my child I did allow the surgery, but prayed so fervently that God would take my baby, that it could not be said that I had an abortion.
The next day in the hospital I wept bitter horrible tears, I sought the help of every person available to me in the hospital to answer my questions, to ease the burden of my 'choice', or what I thought had been my choice, to choose life, mine over my babies... No one could ease the despair in my heart, no one could answer my questions... I was distraught and could not be pulled from the torment of what had happened to my child.
Two days after surgery the Doctor who performed my surgery had heard about my despair and came to speak to me saying she was sorry she hadn't come earlier, but that she had hoped the doctor who had been caring for me the day before would have told me a few things about the surgery.. that doctor had told me that the surgery had gone well, that is all I knew.  What I didn't know was that when I was laid on the operating table, before surgery began I hemorrhaged, I bled so badly that they knew if they didn't stop the bleeding they would have to give me a blood transfusion, and that my husband and I were wanting to avoid that as long as possible, in the blood was a tiny fluid filled sac, apparently not developed enough to have a heart inside, but a perfect, tiny sac... I had a miscarriage on the operating table before a knife had even touched me. Because the baby had been so little formed, and the nature of my bleeding they went ahead with the surgery anyway to be absolutely sure that everything was cleared and that I would have no further trouble.  The Doctor informed me about my beautiful ovaries, the right one had previously housed my baby, she said that I would be able to have more children and said she was sorry for my loss but in no way did I have an abortion, the baby passed on its own by God's amazing grace.
Now, did I choose my life over my child's and it just turned out good?  You could look at it that way, but I urge you to look at some other details.  First, had I not been a doula I wouldn't have known I had the right to refuse a procedure or the right to even ask about it.  But second, no one had told me that there are actually alternatives to that treatment.  I wasn't given any choices to be honest.  I could die nobly on principle or I could live after a life saving operation, that is what I was told... but the truth is that more than 90% of ectopic pregnancies resolve themselves if carefully monitored.  The truth is that if an ectopic pregnancy doesn't resolve itself there have been two cases of successfully moved embryo's, meaning that they took the baby out and put it where it should have been in the first place... not in a dish beside the mother they operated on, and to be fair I'm not sure if one of the two babies survived, but the other of the two absolutely did.  And here is another wonderful thing... If a mother's tube were to rupture as they assumed mine would have, that doesn't mean death to the mother or the baby 100% of the time.  There are plenty of documented cases of mothers having ectopic pregnancies outside of the womb and if discovered they can absolutely result in a healthy baby and mother... of course careful monitoring should be done in such cases, but this is not a death sentence to either the baby or the mother.  Had ANYONE told me that before this all happened to me I NEVER EVER would have conceded to the type of surgery I had let them do... AT the WORST I would have said the only way I consented to the surgery was if they were to put the embryo (which by the way is a baby) in my uterus and let God decide what was to happen after that... but they would never have been able to take my child away from me.
Given that this information is not standard care for women in my situation I feel inclined to inform those of you who are pro-choice that no choice is being given to the mother who wants their baby, but the baby has implanted someone deemed unsafe... she is not given a choice of whether to carry that pregnancy out to its own end or to end it early.. this game you all play where women need to have choices, it is a lie.  A BOLD FACED LIE.  I was given no choice, I was not even given informed consent.. I was told what the doctors and nurses were trained and it wasn't even close to the only option I had...
For another thing, abortion is a willful act of ending a child's life, whether by the choice of a mother or a doctor, but in the case of life threatening situations where a mother could really die, and her child has no opportunity for life, these things would be taken care of, monitored, and carried out in a hospital.  It should never be assumed that a woman with a life threatening health condition would walk into an urgent care center and not be sent immediately to the hospital, so it should also never be assumed that the clinics who perform abortions and offer other family planning items would perform an abortion to save the mother's life.  Those clinics are not for life saving, they are for life ending.  The END.

For a look at some amazing stories related to ectopic pregnancy visit:
https://www.asons.co.uk/resources/ectopic-pregnancy-not-always-a-death-sentence/

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Birth of Esmarie Joy

I don't even know how to start this post... I'll just be honest, there are so many places to begin with such a story as the dramatic entrance of a child into the arms of their family, but Esmarie, that is our newest little bundle of joy had to make her entrance something spectacular.

Let me just preface this entire story with two facts, first you my reader along with everyone else in the world (save one amazing sonographer) had no idea that Esmarie was a girl, because we chose not to find out, and let me tell you, when you carry a baby inside you for nine months, hoping it is a girl but feeling strongly that it is a boy and then find out it was indeed a girl, it is quite a shocking ride, but we'll get to that in a bit. The other fact that I'll throw out there is that this was my longest pregnancy yet, Caeden was born 9 days before his 'due date', Sapphira was helped along and born 4 days before her 'due date', and Micah was born 1 day after his 'due date', This little lady was born a full 8 days after her 'due date' and I'll be honest I was so very done being pregnant in the weeks before she arrived.

Esmarie's story begins Monday August 22nd.
Helen (my mother in law) has been with us awaiting the arrival of her grandchild for 10 days already, things are going well but I'm getting impatient to have the baby, My mother is supposed to come for a visit on the 27th, but only if I've had the baby by then, and Helen wants to visit her brother sometime before heading back to California on the 30th. I'm feeling all these things and just want this child born already, the help of my mother in law after the birth is slowly slipping away the longer I remain pregnant. Another thing weighing on my mind is our home school schedule, I took 5 weeks off from school centered around the due date of this baby. I had thought to continue working even though the calendar said we didn't need to just to spare myself in case baby came late, but then changed my mind in favor of letting the kids spend the time with their grandma, they hadn't seen her since before Micah was born and I didn't want to steal that time from any of them.
After a week of hanging out with grandma and no baby I began to freak out about how little time I would have remaining to get used to having a new baby, recover from the birth, and regain my house and order back before school began, so August 22nd I decided to start up school work again. We did one whole day worth of school work while I contracted every ten minutes or so, but there was no hope of labor, the contractions were just too light to even consider it.
Caeden was having major concentration issues and finding it incredibly hard to do his work, Sapphira did pretty well, and Micah was entertained by grandma, when we at last finished I put the boys down for naps and folded some laundry and cleaned up a bit then took Sapphira to get a new pair of glasses, afterward I met Patrick at the chiropractors, got an adjustment, and followed Patrick to a Honda dealership to see if they could get his car in to be looked at, they couldn't do it that day so we scheduled a day they could and I picked up KFC for dinner and we all went home. On the ride home I began having regular, much stronger contractions. They were strong enough to think about, but not strong enough to call anyone over.
Once home we ate and got ready to take the kids to Karate, Helen wasn't feeling well so she stayed home, but I went to see Patrick and the kids do their thing, and Micah loves to watch so I went to let him see and keep him out of the way. During the Karate class I was still having pretty regular and strong contractions, they were doing so well at progressing that I even felt confident enough to tell my best friend's husband that when he got home he should warn his wife she might get a call from me later that night.
At home I read the kids their story and got them into bed, then took a shower, the shower slowed things down, but after laying down myself this precious little baby started moving with every contraction, and between the contractions and the movement things were getting pretty intense and I couldn't sleep. I decided to time things again and the contractions switched from being 5-8 minutes apart to being 3-5 minutes apart. I still wondered about the fact that they just were not super intense yet, but called the midwife anyway, I needed an opinion from someone that wasn't in labor.
My midwife said that the change in timing sounded like a really good sign and that she would head over. At that moment I was not entirely sure that was what I wanted to happen, but things seemed to be progressing at a good pace so I had no doubt in my mind that eventually I was going to call everyone that night anyway, so I didn't argue, and decided that having them drive while already awake was better than driving after they'd fallen asleep and were groggy.
When everyone arrived I experienced a bit of a slow down, which I knew in my doula brain was completely normal, but I needed to escape that anxious environment so I asked Patrick to walk with me outside. The moon was nearly full, and it was a nice cool evening. It was the first time in a long time that Patrick and I really connected, I leaned on him during contractions and he held my hand or supported my arm as we walked circles around the grassy place at the end our our road by the light of the moon. It was romantic...
And then I started getting sleepy. I came inside and everything slowed down again... I decided maybe a little rest would help, so I laid down, and then conked out completely, all contractions left, nothing remained of labor. When the midwife woke me and I realized this I was heart broken, but it happens, and I know I'm not supposed to feel guilty about false labor, but I did feel guilty, and disappointed.
They all went home, one of them suggested that Patrick and I maybe try being intimate and then they were all gone. After our romantic walk it wasn't hard to imagine being intimate, and I won't beat around the bush, we were (yup, that's part of the story people, they say what gets a baby in also helps to get them out).
About an hour later I was having transition type contractions, shaking, and vomiting, and feeling incredibly out of my mind with the intensity of the contractions that had flared up again. Patrick and I debated, or rather he tried to get me to engage in a conversation of whether or not to call everyone back, but I couldn't participate in the talking so he had to make decisions himself, but I was in my head debating the same questions. Do we call everyone back and chance that it is again too early, or do we just wait and possibly have this baby without anyone here? Tough call.
He called them back, they had only just arrived home, one had enough time to shower before returning, the others didn't. Everyone came back again.
When the first midwife arrived I was laying on my side in our bed with the birth ball propped under one of my legs and moaning and shaking... she even thought I was getting close, and asked if I was feeling pushy.. and I wasn't entirely sure I wasn't feeling a little pushy. But I said no (I think I said no).
By the time everyone else arrived everything had stopped AGAIN! They checked my cervix and discovered that nothing had changed, let me say that again, NOTHING HAD CHANGED, since the first time they went home, I was 5cm dilated and 80% effaced, so they went home again. I was given strict orders to stay in bed all day, do nothing to motivate labor, and rest. I was told I had an irritable uterus... the rest of me was pretty darn irritable too.
Tuesday I rested, all day I rested, I read the kids their bedtime story that night and rested more. Wednesday there was no sign of labor, not one tiny sign. We obviously didn't do school on Tuesday, and Patrick wanted to have his car taken care of so Helen, the kids and I went out on Wednesday to take care of the car and we had a good day. I was still pretty frustrated with my body though. Thursday still no sign of labor and I decided we'd already lost half the week in school anyway so I skipped it again, that night I went grocery shopping, mostly because I needed to get the fact that I was still pregnant off my mind, not because we actually needed groceries, I would have preferred to have been in labor. Friday I had another midwife appointment.
At my appointment everything checked out fine, and we made a plan for me to get an ultrasound done to check on baby Monday or Tuesday of the following week, the midwives gave me a tiny bottle with a few drops of Jasmine essential oil, and marked some pressure points on my ankles and the bottoms of my feet, and gave instructions that I shouldn't attempt to massage these spots or use the oil until I'd had a full night of sleep and a good breakfast. After my appointment I went to run a few errands, one of which was to pick out a birthday present for my best friend, whose birthday was the next day and my frustration from not having had a baby yet had kept me from being a good friend and being prepared ahead of time to give her a gift.
Patrick had to work Saturday, I let him go, not that I had a choice, but I just felt hopeless about having a baby, so it didn't bother me that he wouldn't be spending the day with me, his mother or the children. I got up at 7am, and pulled open my bible.
I've been reading in Psalm for awhile now, and when I started I remembered that I'd had Neva read Psalm starting at the 40th chapter when I was in labor for Micah. I recalled this and the thought that if I could make it to chapter 40 I might go into labor, but that seemed silly and superstitious so I dismissed the thought and continued reading as I had been. But then Saturday morning I'm looking at my bible and I stopped caring about superstition and looked at my current chapter, 30, and thought "I can do that, I'll read the next 11 chapters" So I did.
I read chapter 40, ending in verse 17, and then wrote this in my journal.
"Dear Lord,
Psalm 40:17,
"As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer, do not delay, O, my God."
You take thought for me, you are my deliverer, You will deliver this baby, you are thinking of me. I trust your word. I trust that I will go into labor now, I trust you to fulfill your promises to me. I trust in you to deliver this child. And I will even be so bold as to ask you to do it today.
Come Lord Jesus and bring the life you created inside my womb, out of it, bring it out safely, quickly, and in your love and peaceful protection.
I trust in you to deliver.
Love,
Samantha"

As per the suggestion of my midwives I decided to go and have breakfast and then proceed to rub my own ankles... I went to make breakfast, I cracked an egg and began to cook it, but before it was even half way cooked I had two very strong contractions. After all the disappointment of Monday I wasn't quite ready to call everyone in, but I did call Patrick and then the photographer, then my best friend who was out celebrating her birthday with her family at Waffle House. Then I decided to call the midwife, I knew beyond a doubt that I needed her, but I was still hesitant to ask her to come.
I shut myself in my bedroom, put on a skirt and slipped off my underwear, no one was going to need to cut them off this time. I used the toilet and drank some water, surprised at how thirsty I was with such strong contractions, I crawled across the bathroom floor moaning through the next contraction and feeling incredibly alone, I uttered "I don't want to do this alone!" and immediately I felt that God told my heart that I was NOT alone, and mid contraction, in my thoughts because I couldn't have done it out loud, I began to sing the song "I am not alone, I am not alone, you will go before me, you will never leave me...." and the muscles previously so tense began to release and relax into the intensity of the contraction. The next few contractions I spent this way, singing in my head and reminding myself that I wasn't alone.
Someone had opened my bedroom door so I was crawling to close it when my mother in law saw me and came in to check on me. I had thought I would have her exclusively taking care of the other kids, but no one else was there, so I welcomed her presence. She rubbed my back as I was waiting for those of my birth team to arrive. Patrick came first, and recognized that I was transitioning already, he thought he might have to catch the baby, and to be honest I thought he would too. Neva arrived next, and she and Patrick took care of things, At some point my water broke, it was a giant splash and covered the floor and the pad I had demanded someone put under me, I had to tell them where to find the bigger plastic table cloth that could go under me to catch any more, once the cloth was laid out I managed to get myself on top of it, and through some more contractions.
Not long after I started pushing, I knew there wasn't much time left, and still no midwife at my side. Later people asked me if I was nervous to deliver without the midwives, but I can honestly say no, I wasn't, I was working, achieving a goal, doing my job, there was no time to worry about whether a specific person was there to take the reigns, I knew if I could tell people what to do in the middle of such intense labor I could also give directions after pushing out my baby if need be, I was confident that everything was going fine.
I began pushing with vigor, roaring like a lion, I'd been making noise all along, but now my tones were fierce, and they were progressing that baby down, I could feel her head surfacing a few times, she was coming (keep in mind I didn't know she was a she yet), still no midwife... out and in again, intense burning and relief over and over as I brought her closer to the outside. And then Yvonne, one of my midwifes, she arrived, on a gust of wind, she got to work, and quickly, I hated the pressure she applied to me surrounding the baby's head, but I knew without a doubt that it was a good thing, so I bore it. Finally I had delivered my baby's head, and it was a relief, but still so very intense, and I knew that something was very different from when I delivered Micah, though I was in the same position. Yvonne told me to lean back to open my pelvis more and to push hard, that baby's shoulders were stuck. I listened and did as she asked, the work was hard, so much harder than when I had pushed Micah's shoulders out, it was intense and it burned, but I was focused and I was in the zone. I pushed her shoulders out and quit trying any more, I just needed a break, it didn't occur to me that I did or didn't need to continue pushing for the rest of my child to be born, I just didn't have much left. They all told me I still had work to do, I listened, I brought a baby into the arms of my midwife, and she in turn passed my baby between my legs and up to me, I was shaky, and weak, I couldn't really lift my child, I did see very quickly that I had delivered a girl before the voice of my best friend informed the room that the baby we'd all thought would be a boy was actually a girl. Even the midwife during the pushing had said "he" several times.
I cradled my baby's head and shoulders as that was all the energy I could give her at the time, and wondered about how many months I'd been thinking I'd carried a boy inside me, how I'd even mentally prepared for the eventual challenge of fitting another bed in the boy's room, but never once really tried to figure out how to fit a crib in Sapphira's room. I marveled at how attached I had gotten to the name Ezekiel Patrick, and how giving Esmarie the middle name of Joy had really been a last minute decision, one we were both happy with, but that had taken us so very long to come up with. All the thoughts flooded my head, we had a girl. I was immensely happy, but dumbfounded at the same time. We had a girl! Sapphira had a sister! This wasn't a boy. It came to me in slow increments, and I'm still three days later processing how incredibly wrong I had been. But wrong in a delightful way, Esmarie is a perfect addition to our family, God knew exactly what he was doing when he gave us this little girl.
Throughout my pregnancy I wanted to honor God in the birth of this child, I just couldn't figure out how to do it. It took me months to figure it out, and once I did I was still unsure of how it would play out, mostly because labor is so incredibly different every time for every woman, but also because I'd never set out to intentionally bring the Holy Spirit to a birth. I don't know if the perspective of others shows a Holy Spirit filled birth, but I do know that several times the Holy Spirit made his presence known to me. First in labor that didn't ended in everyone going home. I'd been praying for a time to reconnect with Patrick, and that night I had a very romantic evening with him, and while contracting I would sing "Holy Spirit you are welcome here, come flood this place and fill the atmosphere, your glory God is what our hearts long for, to be overcome by your presence Lord." and then continue to walk quietly with my husband in the moon light. It was a perfect evening for bonding with Patrick, even if it left me sad and discouraged about birth for the rest of the week, I wouldn't trade it.
Then when I labored alone a few things happened, first feeling alone and realizing I wasn't alone at all... I had a play list of songs that I prepared for labor, one of the songs continually didn't make sense to me, I had a huge birth team, why would I use the song that says "I am not alone" I didn't feel I needed that reminder, until I was alone, except for the presence of God, and it was suddenly a perfect song for my labor. And another thing that happened was with my mother in law. I hadn't wanted her in the room, I feared that she would freak out and be a distraction, but I had deeply wanted her to be there when my baby was born, partially because she had totally missed Micah's birth and consequently didn't meet him until this very visit when he is nearly 3 years old, and partially to show her that what I was doing, how I labored from home and delivered my children wasn't in fact dangerous, to give her the inside view of how sweet home birth could be. And then while I labored with Jesus she saw me, and came to be with me, she rubbed my back and we shared a moment I didn't think was even possible, but because of Jesus it was. She didn't stay in the room for the whole birth, but she was there when no one else was, and then she retreated to take care of the older kids and kept them from hearing their mother roaring out their sibling.
The presence of my midwife was also a bit of a miracle, as I was told she was doing 80mph on a road that cops are pull over happy for just 5mph over the speed limit of 45mph, and that she not only passed a cop but blew through a stop sign and was not pulled over or hurt, so I'm positive that angels were guarding her.
My other midwife arrived in time to help with my postpartum care which also turned out to be a God thing, because shortly after I moved from the place on the floor where I'd delivered Esmarie, to the bed where I was much more comfortable, Yvonne asked politely if I minded if she left me in Brandy's care so that she could make it to a 'religious conference' that she had already missed due to one birth, and by God's grace she could make it there this time, if I didn't mind... and of course I didn't, Brandy was with me, and I'd already done all the hard work.
Before Yvonne left Esmarie was weighed and measured and was determined to be my biggest baby by a whole pound!

Esmarie Joy was born at 10:18am Aug 27th, 2016 weighing 9lbs 7oz and was 21.5 inches long. She was born on my best friend's birthday, after a very intense 2 hour labor.
I am blessed.

Monday, August 8, 2016

All the changes

Just to mention a few changes that have happened over the past I don't know nearly two years....
moved out of 5th wheel in Pennsylvania and into house we own in Oklahoma.
Bought a bigger house in Oklahoma and found a renter for the other house.
Got pregnant once and lost the baby shortly after (but you know about that)
Went to California to help a friend deliver her baby.
Came home and got pregnant again.
These are not in order.

So here we are... as Daniel Cook would say (I really loathe that show).
I'm 38 weeks pregnant with this blessing baby and getting ready for my mother in law to come for a visit. She hasn't seen any of us since just before Micah was born, so it will be fun to have her here and get to see her meet both this new baby and Micah pretty much at the same time. I think Patrick is excited about seeing his mom too, he's been talking to her on the phone a lot over the last two weeks or so.

Preparation for the birth of our fourth baby (the kind I'll get to actually hold in my arms) are well underway... but since I don't know the gender of this baby there isn't a whole lot to do.
I've prepared a basket of goodies for my birth team to eat while they serve me in labor, I've prepared my birth kit, with all the stuff that will be needed, or could be needed during the delivery, I've washed clothes that are gender neutral, and I've crocheted a few things. I've got the pack n' play set up in the closet with the bassinet already to go and the changing table, with diapers and wipes, and I've stocked the diaper bag. I've also created a play list (look at that! fourth birth and I've finally done it!) for the labor, I've taken a Christ centered childbirth class, which was awesome! (shout out to Kierra at A Heavenly Welcome) I've done nearly everything, except put that inferno of a plastic sheet over our bed... because it makes me hot, and I'm already hot... and I just don't want to have it on until I have to... which will probably be this Wednesday when I clean my room again.
The kids and I are finishing up our last week of school before taking a break for baby. I'm hoping baby doesn't tarry, cause the longer I take off before baby the less time I get to take off after baby, and that could really suck. I've thought about just continuing to school until baby arrives, but I thought it would probably be better if the kids got to enjoy their grandma while she is visiting instead of doing school work the whole time.

I tried, I really tried to get the house to a 'manageable' place, but every time I turn around it just isn't maintained any longer... I'm near ready to give up, this mama is tired! But if I give up then it only gets worse....
So I'm off to fold laundry!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Mother's Day week meltdown

It seems incredibly fitting to me that the week before mother's Day I would experience a rather large meltdown. I mean what other time of year are your reminded so fully of what this job actually is?
I have a personal relationship with the holiday since I was born on it,but it came as a shock to me when I realized it was coming so quickly this year. The 2ND Sunday of May just doesn't seem like it could be on the 8th day of the month... And yet it is, and will be this year.
My husband asked what I wanted, I said "a day off,not away from you guys, but just a day where I don't have to do mother stuff,and if not that then chocolate and flowers are a great fall back."
Let's face it I can't and won't get a day off, first off it is impossible not to be a mother once you are one, and 2ND,I love my job and couldn't possibly not do it when it is there for me to do.
So why then would I be having a meltdown? Probably I'm extra hormonal or something... But I woke up this morning with a light in my eyes, the kids were being good,the day was starting out right, and then I learned that my preferred presidential candidate was exiting the race.... I figured it was happening by all the things I had seen on facebook but hadn't actually heard the words. This alone would never have resulted in my toddler like tantrum, but I will honestly say I wanted to cry.
After pulling my act together I went on to teach my daughter a reading lesson while my oldest son worked on his spelling lesson, things were cruising along nicely, until I got a phone call from my church. The meeting I had scheduled two weeks ago for today was being rescheduled, and when would I prefer it, Tuesday or Wednesday next week. This was crushing for a few reasons.
I have excitedly been attempting to tell someone at the church about a ministry that was laid on my heart since last November, two weeks ago it was evident that the effort was falling on deaf ears,and going no where so I contacted the pastor via email, and he suggested I schedule a meeting with his secretary, which I did, but he was out of town for the week and then was completely booked for the following week so the earliest I could see him was Wednesday of this week... Today. And I printed out pages, took notes spent time in prayer, asked others to pray, researched everything I thought might be helpful, and contacted another church that is already involved in the ministry. And now I have to wait another week. I know I feel like a baby to be upset about waiting a week, but save your laughter... The root of my problems has to do with God's direction for my life.
After rescheduling my appointment I went on to finish my daughters reading lesson and then my oldest sons lesson, things were going well but he was struggling with his concentration, and while that is normally a problem it seemed more evident today,so I stopped him to ask what was going on, and why he was struggling. Just as our conversation was wrapping up and we were getting to the root of the problem my daughter enters the room to say that my youngest son has pooped in his underwear.
He is potty training and this is expected, but today I had made a huge effort to be on top of him, knowing that he usually does this in the morning,and asking him frequently to use the toilet, which he was doing each time I asked... But the poop hadn't come yet... And now it had and I missed the chance to get him on the toilet. Disappointed I went to the bathroom, careful not to take my frustration out on the boy I sat him on the toilet and began cleaning out his soiled underwear in the toilet.
After cleaning him up I sobbed, ugly tears, again... Because only a little earlier I had asked God in a big sob fest what service he wanted from me... Because my doula profession is at a ginormous stand still (I have one client booked for the whole year and she isn't due until November) and the ministry I've worked so hard to present to the church keeps hitting rocky roads and stand stills, so the only ministry I have been doing, which is the greatest calling ever is motherhood... Like I said, it's the greatest, but it is also ridiculous.
I'm sobbing on the floor of my dirty bathroom with poopy underwear in my hands and realizing that the greatest ministry God has called me to is to be a servant, something I normally love and enjoy even in difficult times, but right now all I want is to not have to touch anyone else's poop for the rest of my life, but in the throes of motherhood with small people,the biggest part of my ministry to God is to clean up poop from my toddlers.
I'm not dreaming of becoming the greatest minister ever known, I'm not dreaming of riches or fame, I just want to give God His glory, and the ministry he has undoubtedly called me to at this moment of my life is the cleaning of poop.
I will gladly do it... As long as it needs doing, for as many children as need it done... But allow me a moment to break down in the bathroom amidst toddler poop today... Because I'm still learning to humble myself,and it doesn't come easy.
To all my poop cleaning lady friends... Happy Mother's Day.
May every day, even the hardest ones serve as a reminder that giving glory to God isn't about us, and it is often a bitter, and hard pill to swallow, but is always fruitful, and worth every effort.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Best yogurt ever!

For months I have been attempting to master the art of homemade yogurt. That is to say I have been tweaking other people's fabulous easy to follow recipes and attempting to make it in a way that my family will love it the most.
I've read a few horror stories about screwing up entire batches but to be honest I have only screwed up one and it was still edible, it was just a bit bitter for some people's taste. Unfortunately of course without knowing I had made a bitter batch I handed it over to my best friend who then fed it to her yogurt loving children who now hold it against me and won't try my homemade yogurt again... Whatever that's their loss...more for me.
She has since started making her own as well and I'm sure we will change their minds together.
I read and found that all you need is a few simple ingredients, milk, yogurt (or starter), sugar, and vanilla are all I use.
Many many many different recipes out there, so the best thing to do is play with it.
I also just figured out that the quality of the ingredients actually does matter. Originally I would use Walmart plain low-fat yogurt (that's what wic gave us so it was free) and Walmart brand milk in whatever fat content I happened to buy. But lately I've been using whole milk from Braums and just this last time I didn't want a huge container of starter and only wanted to buy one container instead of a four pack and great value only came in a 4 pack so I ended up with Dannon plain yogurt, I don't know the fat Content it was just the first one I found that said it contained live active culture, which is essential for yogurt making.
This last batch was twice as thick as any other I have made to date, and so delicious!
The only thing I have had trouble with in the past was how much sugar and vanilla to add, but I think I have it mastered now... At least to my satisfaction, feel free to adjust it to what you like.

Vanilla yogurt

Ingredients needed:
One single serve container of yogurt, vanilla or plain (as mentioned above Dannon helped make my yogurt thicker and creamier, but great value or any other brand works well too.)

One gallon of milk (I like using whole milk but have used as low as 1% without issue)

1.75 cups of sugar

3-4 tablespoons of vanilla (I use about 3.5)

4 glass quart sized Mason jars

One large pot with lid (all your jars should fit inside with the lid on top, seal is not important but you want it as close as possible)

Water

Candy thermometer


Directions

Pour milk into your large pot and heat to 170-180 degrees stirring often to avoid scalding on the bottom of the pan.
Once the temperature reaches this level shut off your heat and leave uncovered without stirring until the temperature reaches 120 degrees (F). (You will likely have a thin layer of milk on top that resembles plastic wrap only white, just scoop it out and discard it.
When the temperature is getting close soak your Mason jars in very hot water to kill any bacteria lingering in them.
In a mixing bowl put sugar, vanilla and single serving yogurt together and add about a cup of your 120 degree milk and lightly stir, your yogurt doesn't want to be beaten, just well mixed, if there are still little parts that are not totally mixed that is OK too.
After stirring pour the mixture into the pan with the rest of the milk and mix a little more. Again do not abuse your mixture, yogurt likes to be treated gently.
Remove jars and shake out excess water and dry the outside of the jars.
Using a large ladle or a coffee cup scoop out your yogurt mixture and pour it into the jars. I typically have only an 1/8 inch to the top of my jars. Then put their lids on them not too tight but tight enough that they won't leak. You may have a little left over, feel free to drink it, it's delicious!
Rinse your pot out really well and put the jars inside, fill the pan up to the necks of the jars with warm water, about like a bath, if your need exact temperature then 120 degrees is as hot as you should go, no more than that.
Pop the lid on the pot and cover with a folded towel, the sides of the pot don't need to be wrapped but you do want the towel to cover any gap the lid doesn't cover.
Set a timer for 4 hours and don't touch the pot or jars inside for the duration.
When the timer goes off remove the jars, dry them gently with a towel and place them in the fridge for 8 hours before opening.
Enjoy your yogurt!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Affirmation of the World, or Restoration for your Soul?

I've been aching to come and write here for awhile, but it is December now, and well time flies, especially when you are having fun!
Quick update; Fia's Birthday is Thursday, we had a party for her last weekend. She was so cute in her princess dress, and her little friends came dressed as princesses too! We even met a few new friends... all boys of course because it seems most of the people we know have boys!
Caeden's birthday is coming up, we will have a party for him next weekend. His party theme will be Paleontology, and Patrick and I are putting together a kit for him to dig with like a real dinosaur bone digger! He's going to love it!
Don't know when the last time I wrote was but Moo moo turned two as well... gosh he is getting so big! But he must like being the baby cause he keeps coming back for more mama loving, even when it seems he's getting to an age when he doesn't need as much mama... of course, they all come back to mama even Caeden being almost 7 wants to sit on my lap during school work time!

I actually wanted to write about something completely unrelated to my family today. It seems to me that sin and condemnation are running rampant in our world, and I've got an idea why. Who has all the answers? I want to know.

I have realized that a lot of people seem particularly condemned lately. They are easily offended by people's different opinions and need to be affirmed in their own beliefs in order to feel good about themselves, but it doesn't make them feel good about themselves. Take breastfeeding in public for instance. Breastfeeding has come a long way, those who do it in public are confident in what they do, and do it with a sort of pride now-a-days. When I had my first baby almost 7 years ago I didn't feel like any kind of pioneer, my mother had breastfed all of her children, my Aunt's and Cousins had breastfed their children, it was normal, and not at all strange to me, but I met several people who felt it was 'weird' or 'unnatural'. (This I have to say, while off subject, was absolutely astounding to me, that breastfeeding could be seen as 'unnatural'.) Anyway, since there are certain people who are uncomfortable with breastfeeding in public there are laws about it in some states, most of which are about the ability for a woman TO breastfeed and not the opposite, but still women are fighting for it. Women on social media are swarming pages with pictures of their bare skinned breast, feeding their child.
I even recently read an article about Christian women who should breastfeed in public baring their breasts and not being a 'prude' by covering up. The article while very interesting and insightful on the plan of God to nurture us close to his bosom, forgot a whole book in the bible that mentions repeatedly the sexual nature of the breast as well.
There are also women all over the world who are bearing their breasts just to make a statement and saying it isn't shameful... I don't agree with this idea, but that isn't my point. They want everyone to see it as normal, they want everyone to feel as they feel. The article about breastfeeding urged more women to bare their breasts in church to make it normal, and less shameful. I don't believe that breastfeeding in public is bad, I don't believe that breastfeeding uncovered is bad, but I do believe there is a modest way to go about it and a completely immodest way to do it, and would urge all women who breastfeed not to hide the fact that they do it, but rather to be discreet as the naked breast is a distraction to many people, and your personal comfort levels should be taken into consideration as well, but you shouldn't attempt to change people's own comfort level so that the breast can be more normalized.
There are other arenas where things are becoming more normalized, homosexuality, cross dressing, legal use of marijuana, the ability to buy alcohol in the grocery store (if you didn't know, it isn't legal to sell it in grocery stores in Oklahoma), so many things, little things too, celebrate your kids in mediocrity, don't let them learn about failure, instead they are all winners. Don't have too many kids, or the first few won't feel like they are important, or have enough stuff, or they will have to share their bedroom. My parents had 6 kids and somehow managed to buy into the idea that we each needed our own bedroom... I look back and think the times I had my own room were the loneliest, I really enjoyed sharing my bedroom. I even went as far as convincing my parents that we should have two exchange students because I wanted one in my room and it wasn't the biggest room in the house, my sister would have been the one to share rooms if we only hosted one.
Those who do something that is not a social norm press and strive and fight for it to become 'normal'... why? Christians and non-Christians alike are doing it, but more so those who are doing things that are deemed 'shameful' by older generations than those who follow the social norm.
I've been reading Romans this morning and I think I've come across the answer.

Romans 1:28-32 "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting, being filled with all unrighteousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them."

Who are any of us? Any person on this planet would fit into one of these categories, don't think you are bad? Do you whisper about people behind their backs? Are you Proud? Were you disobedient to your parents? Do you ever envy other people? Then this describes you, don't eliminate yourself here... you fit, you are a sinner. And the bible says that if you do these things you deserve death. It also says that people who do these things will approve of others doing them. It used to be that people who drank alcohol would give minors a drink and laugh, I remember it, I remember how they tried to con young people into thinking it was cool to get drunk, they knew it wasn't, but the kids they let do it didn't have the wisdom yet to know what it was actually going to do to them... but that isn't all that is happening now.
Now even if a person is confident in their own gender they feel that it isn't right to force gender on a person, so they tell their toddler that they can be a boy or a girl, it doesn't matter. WHAT is wrong with people! I'm sorry but you are given a gender, from God.. he is the only one who can control it. This issue goes far below your skin, it goes to hormones, it goes to DNA, it goes to chromosomes. And while they are finding ways to change so many body parts they have no way of changing chromosomes that I am aware of. If they do I'd hope they were using it to cure disease not change genders.
Making what is wrong normal seems to be the only way to feel good about doing wrong... UNLESS there is a better way! No one wants what the bible predicts for those who are sinners, death is awful... Life however is beautiful. But are you really living your life if everything you do is for yourself? I'd argue that the answer is no.
God gave a perfect example of what we can do to really live... die. Not to save our own life, but to give life to others. I don't mean a death of a physical sense but rather a death of a spiritual sense... we as the bible says, die to ourselves. That means that we stop saying 'yes' to ourselves, and start saying 'yes' to helping others, start saying 'yes' to serving others, not forgiving their sins and letting them continue on in them. We have no power to forgive sins, only God does, and he says 'go and sin no more', which means that we as Christians might want to re-think some of our positions on things. Stop condemning, stop ignoring, but start doing something more like Christ. Eat with the 'sinners' like Christ did, he gave them an example to follow, and he told them not to continue in their sin anymore.
Stand up Christians, not for the right for a man to dress as a woman, or use a public restroom of his choice. Not for baring your naked breasts while breastfeeding (I'm not saying in any way that breastfeeding in public should be shunned I just don't think it is necessary to wage war on the subject), but stand up to say what sin is, and how we have a savior who has already overcome it for us, stand up and walk tall, don't hide your beliefs, don't be scared, be bold, and die to yourself, daily, the way Jesus asked us to, so that your brother, sister, friend, Aunt, Mother, Uncle, Cousin, Father, person you never met but see at work all the time, can know who Jesus really was, a bold man who knew what God designed him to be, and who knew and identified sin as sin, but also forgave sin by dying, literally dying on a cross to forgive it all. Stand up and help people out of sin, don't help them stay in it and normalize it for your children and their children, stand up and be bold.
The insecurity of those who want to normalize sin comes from Satan, and he wants you to be a part of it... Bullies bully because they hate themselves, not because they hate others. People who don't know how to love themselves (the way Jesus loved us) cause all sorts of problems, we really need to get our hands on some people and show them corrective love...
So many of my Christian friends on facebook will say "I don't do those things, but God says not to judge, so I can't say if they are wrong for doing them".... BULL You are not judging, God judged, he did it already! The judgement is done... if the bible says it is sin, it is sin! How we deal with it is a different story, but we absolutely can not stand for it to be 'normal'.

As I was growing up I would read through the bible and try my best to be a 'good girl' accepting God's grace where I screwed up, and then at school my friends would pick on me and say I was 'better then' them... I didn't understand what I was supposed to do with that, cut myself down and point out my own sin, or point to Jesus as the reason they saw me that way, and would usually end up doing both in some fashion. Now as an adult I feel somewhat smarter in this area, it is NEVER about me... so I feel like I shouldn't make it about me, but then sometimes it is about the example God has given through me. When difficult things happen, where does my trust fall? Who is watching when I lean on God to get me through a difficult time in my life? Where do I turn, what do I say, what are people deciding about Jesus when they see me?
The bible says we are made perfect through Jesus... I think I understand this more now than ever. It isn't that I don't sin, or that I am not capable of sin. It isn't that the sin I do commit is ok because I'm perfect in Christ. It is that my desire to sin has been taken away. Yes I fail, I'm not Jesus, Yes I stumble over things that maybe I shouldn't, but in the end, every day I am forgiven, everyday I desire Jesus is one day less I desire sin. I want that for everyone. Not just for my family, but for the people who are looking for the restoration of their souls, for affirmation that someone loves them, that he would do anything for them. That he accepts them just as they are, but because he does that they want to be more like him, and they stop their bad habits and stop seeking affirmation, and normalization of things that are inappropriate and/or wrong, or sinful and begin seeking God.
I want that everyone should have Jesus rather than the approval of the world for the things they do, and the way they feel.

Friday, October 2, 2015

39 weeks

I received an email from babycenter today, it congratulated me on being 39 weeks pregnant. 
I didn't opt to stop receiving these because I have a client who is due the same week as I would have been and it is a nice reminder of where she is in the wait... but it is also sad and most weeks I just delete the email and move on. Today it hit pretty close to home as I realized how flat belly is and how there will be no baby born into our family in the coming weeks.
I am so glad for the grace of God in my life to show me all the things I have to be joyful about today, even when the anticipation and joy of a new baby isn't one of them.
Thank you Jesus for the children I have!