Mommy and Me

Mommy and Me
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Friday, August 24, 2018

The Amazing Birth of Kya

God has blessed me so much through the birth of our 5th child, and I'm only sorry I didn't write about it sooner.  I think this story might help other mamas, so I'm going to copy some entries from my personal journal about her birth and the pregnancy leading to that birth below.  Please understand my journal is not just a diary, it is my letters to the King of Kings, so they are addressed to God.  Also understand that not all my entries are written about pregnancy, so you will see the dates are quite different and spaced out, but that doesn't mean that I don't write often, just that the letters between the ones shared are not relevant.

"5-17-18
Dear Lord in heaven, mighty savior,
I am reading in Samuel and find it interesting that 1 Samuel 3:1b says "The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread."
It seems you have some silent times throughout history. And it seems during these times that so many evil men and women influence the world. Now it seems to be a break in your silence for my generation. Aside from the things you speak to my heart, I don't have proof of what you are saying to the people of my world, but with men like Dan Fisher running for governor of Oklahoma and wanting to put an end to abortion in our state, calling it what it is; murder, it seems your silence in the hearts of men around the world is ending, and change is coming.
....
Lord, I am positive that I recognize your voice in my heart, You have spoken clearly to me too many times to miss it.
"That's where you are going" - When you showed me New Zealand Master's Commission
"This is the last thing I'm taking for awhile" - When after miscarriage, and Patrick getting out of the military and us moving in with my parents, and our dog Tristen dying, and then Prissy (also my dog) died and I felt as if my world had crumbled and I might not make it through. I didn't know how to stand anymore.
"Trust me" - When you spoke to my heart in my sleep and woke me up to tell me I was pregnant before even a test could confirm it. 
"It's a girl" - You told me shortly before I miscarried that baby and you began to work a new mind in Patrick.
"You are not alone." - When I labored for Esmarie and I cried out to you that I was overwhelmed and did not want to be alone for the labor and birth.
And just yesterday as I prayed about the great tiredness that had come over me, you said: "I am doing this for you." and my heart knew you were talking about the timing of the birth of our 5th child Kya. but still I don't know know that it means, not really anyway. I believe it means that you are answering my prayers for the birth of this child. That she will be born before her due date, that she will be smaller and that labor will have a clear start to it. And though I have not prayed it as often, I would like to have a seven or eight hour labor. My only other request is that you give me peace about the birth, I'm not scared of birth, but it is powerful and intimidating, so though this is the first time I'be put it into words I would also love to have some peace about it and enjoy it.
I thank you Lord, for your goodness to me, and look forward to seeing how your words to me play out. You are trustworthy and your plans for me are good.
Love Samantha"

"5-19-18
Dear Heavenly Father,
...
I am trying to understand you, today and for the last two days I have been trying to understand what you meant when you told me 'I'm doing this for you.'  Mostly I've just been trying to predict labor though I really want to know if you meant that you were answering my prayers with a 'yes' and I would deliver early, and therefore have a smaller baby, or if you meant that whatever is going to happen will happen because you have better plans for me than what I have prayed for. Which ever it is, I trust you. You have always had my future in your hands, and my past proves that your plans are good.
I love you Lord! You are good.
Love Samantha
P.s. Whenever Kya is coming, please give me the time to have a peaceful relaxed and enjoyable birth. Thank you Lord, I give it all over to you."

"5-20-18
Dean Lord of all,
The book of Samuel 1 is very interesting, the stories are intriguing, I hope my children will enjoy them when we get that far in our bible reading.  I'm enjoying them in m personal reading.
Yesterday I had a feeling that I might go into labor, and I did not. My faith in you is strong, my faith in my interpretation of what you said to me is wavering. Could you please tell my heart what you meant when you said "I'm doing this for you." ? I'm impatient and I should not be. I have not even reached 38 weeks, though tomorrow marks that, I want Kya to be strong and healthy, ready to be breathing on her own, but I also want her to be a smaller baby than Micah and Esmarie's. Maybe I'm being silly, they were both wonderful babies and Micah wasn't too big. Esmarie on the other hand was very big and it was difficult to carry her weight before she began to support herself.
All of this is to say I'm confused and could use some clarity. I'm also a bit nervous about going past my due date because I have carried each baby longer than the one before with the exception of Jaemi and Saera. Hug them for me please!
Jaemi would have been  5 nearly 6 now! and Saera would have been nearly 3. It seems crazy that so much time has passed and yet I don't feel the pain so much anymore so it seems like it should be longer. My children are 9,7,5,4,2,1 and one on the way, but you hold two of them for me.
Lord help me to keep you at the center of Kya's birth, to hold fast to your presence and to enjoy your presence and the birth together. Help the endorphins and oxytocin to do their jobs and bring about change in my body in a beautiful and enjoyable way. And help me to embrace it all bringing Kya Phoebe out into my arms with laughter and JOY.
...
Love Samantha
P.s Please keep me from a short labor this time. My head is raising with thoughts of what would happen if I was in town and had to drive myself home during a labor like Esmarie's.  You alone are in control and I believe you would not let that happen, but I thought I'd mention it."

"5-23-18
Dear Lord,
Thank you for the differences in this pregnancy. Thank you for answered prayers and for contractions that seem so different from my previous births. I feel like although I've been having contractions for a few days, they are so spaced and that I have no doubt about what my body is doing. Whereas in the past I often didn't know what was going on because the contractions were close together, some times even pretty strong and I just didn't know whether they would progress or just wear me out.
So the contractions that come every hour or two and now every 30 minutes or more seems like such a blessing and I can not be confused by this at all. So again thank you Lord. You are so good to me.
Thank you for the energy I know you are granting me to birth this child as well. I pray Lord that she will work with the process of birth and not fight it. That she will come smoothly and without concern. That she will breathe easily and pink up quickly. That this birth will be a time of celebration and enjoyment, that we can all laugh and have fun, and that among so many women, Patrick can have as much spotlight as he wants, and be a true hero to us all. That Sapphira will be able to quietly observe so that she doesn't annoy me with her questions. I was annoyed by her questions from a live birth video yesterday and it made me nervous to have her in my space.
Thank you Lord for being such a good father, for being a healer, redeemer, and friend.
Love Samantha"

"5-25-18
Dear Lord,
When will you give me birth of this baby? I know you have it perfectly orchestrated and that your plans are higher than min, but I'd really love for your plan to be today.  If not, ok. But Please!
You know my prayers. Smaller baby, no questions of when labor starts, 7-8 hours of labor. And I know you said "I'm doing this for you!" So I believe you are granting those requests. Please be granting those requests!
Please help me to be calm and just wait on you, and not get frustrated in the waiting. Thank you Lord.
Love Samantha"

"5-28-18
Dear Heavenly Father,
Jesus, you alone know what my future holds and when this baby will be born. but the closer the time comes for Patrick to go back to work the more I wonder about what your plan is. If he is on the other side of the city will he be here in time for the birth of this child?
On the other hand, I'm encouraged because though the contractions do not always stay around I've been having contractions every day for several days, and when they come oddly enough they are predictable in one manor. The day I went to help (friend), I think it was Tuesday, I had a few contractions for a little while that were forty minutes apart, and then they just stopped and went away. Then one day they were 20 minutes apart, and another day between 15 and 20 minutes, always staying for awhile and then  disappearing. Last night they were about 7-10 minutes apart, so they are getting closer and perhaps one of these days they will settle in to stay until she is born... I would be happy for that.
Today is memorial day, the day we set aside to honor fallen heroes and to remember the blood that was shed by those fighting for our freedom in America. I can't think of a better hero than you, dying willingly in a battle against sin, and liberating us from the power of sin and death through the sacrifice of your innocent life.
And so many young men have followed your example since that time, laying their lives down for the freedom of others. Thank you Lord for the men and women who have done so.
Love, Samantha"

"5-30-18
Dear Lord God,
Patrick returns to work today, and unless you plan for this child to be born before he leaves tonight then I can assume that every person who is to be a support to me during this birth will be 40-45 minutes away, and that I will be alone with the kids during all that time. My request is the same as it has always been, give me a clear start to labor, and make it last 7-8 hours. I really do not want to birth this baby alone, or to labor alone. I've welcomed more people to this birth than ever before, so I just ask that you please allow them to be here for me while I labor.
Only you know the day Kya will be born, and though I would really like to know, that has not been allotted for me to know, so I am trusting you to work out the details. Just like you worked out the details concerning my van and getting Micah and i safely home before it broke down, and the cost of the extra miles for the tow truck, I also trust you will work out the details for the cost of the repair, and the process of picking it up, as well as the details of the birth of Kya.
...
Love, Samantha"

"5-31-18
Dear Lord,
Patrick could not get a hold of me last night so on his lunch break he drove all the way home to check on me, I feel embarrassed that he went to all that trouble when I was just sitting on the couch as he opened the door, but also blessed that he would come when he worried about me enough to come home, a 45 minute drive on way, during his hour long lunch break and be late getting back to work.
Now if only I could be in labor today, tomorrow, or just very soon. I know I heard your voice, when you said you were 'doing this for me', but I'm still wondering what you were doing... answering my prayers in the way I've hoped, or in a different way entirely? You alone know, and I will wait on you.
My midwife and her apprentice will be here soon for my prenatal appointment, I just actually don't want to think about pregnancy anymore, and yet it is the only thing I think of.
My tiny crochet group at church made me feel so blessed! They showered me last night with gifts, it wasn't planned, they just did it. And I love them for it. (J) made Kya a lamb lovey, (P) gave me a box of wet wipes, and (T) gave me a little dress with a jacket that she had her sister crochet. It is so precious!  I'm so blessed!
Kya is going to be blessed by these women, just to know them! I'm making my own tribe, and it is beautiful, I tried to make friends at church before, but it always felt forced, so I'm very happy to have found a group of women who I can be myself with and just talk to them. Thank you for bringing them into my life.
Love Samantha"

"6-2-18
Dear Lord,
Thank you for the time I had with (B) yesterday. It was nice to talk with her and get to know her better. I do wish that things had progressed into labor last night though. I know your plans are good and you are working out perfect miracles for me. You are certainly caring for your child and doing what is best for your creation. So I just pray that you give me peace and understanding and the ability to wait this all out and do what needs doing while I wait. You are good!
Establish yourself in me and your will in my life.
Thank you Lord for your blessings.
Samantha"

"6-3-18
Dear Lord Jesus,
...
Yesterday was a highly productive day. (B) came over after Patrick went to work and helped me clean up the house. We got the living room fully cleaned she even mopped the floor. in there. We got my bedroom cleaned, at least my parts are clean.  We got the bathroom clean, except for the shower and tub, but those were cleaned not long ago so it is done enough.
(B) predicted that I probably have a long ways to go before this baby is born, but I am still believing she will be born before her due date, which is tomorrow so.....
If you are going to answer that prayer, today is the day. If however you choose not to bring me into labor I still choose to trust that you know what you are doing.
Today can be a birthday, or it can be church, VBS, and connect group, whatever you lead me to I will accept. And joyfully so.
Thank you for today, thank you that I have plans with people who make me feel loved and sage even though I could go into labor far from home, with the kids in tow. Thank you that the kids can have something fun to do today, even though I am so close to delivering this child. Thank you for giving them the activities and fun things going on even though they are so close to welcoming a new sister to our family.
Thank you for this child. And thank you for (B) and all the help she was yesterday and the day before. She never needed to do that, and yet she did, and on her daughter's birthday no less.  I can't even thank her enough!
Samantha"

"6-4-18
Dear Lord,
At least one of my prayers is answered, and the answer is no... I'm not going to sulk about it, even though the day I prayed would be Kya's birthday became (J)'s birthday. I'm happy for (E), but frustrated too. Are you indeed intending to answer any of my prayers for Kya's birth? Will you give me a smaller baby? Will you give me a clear labor start that lasts 7-8 hours: Will it be a time of bonding with my birth team?
I really feel as if my hope is entirely in your hands ant that you won't fail me, but I am also disappointed in the things that have been happening lately. Our church has recognized another pregnant woman from the pulpit twice. Meanwhile I am pregnant too, and there is only four days between our due dates. Makes me feel sad. I know it isn't that I am loved less, it just feels that way. And today in general sucks because it is my due date and you decided to leave me pregnant longer I'm just emotional, I know you have better plans, and perhaps I just need to vent and cry a bit and I will feel better.
Love,
Samantha"

"6-5-18
Dear Lord,
...
Thank you Lord for Kya Phoebe, I pray that you are making her strong and holding her safe for her perfect birthday whenever that is. I'm officially past my due date, which I know means nothing, but I'm trying to adopt the attitude that she is perfectly fine where she is and can stay there just as long as she needs to and I'm not going to dwell on any day being her birthday because when that day passes into the one after it, my emotions can not handle it.
It is all in your hands, and you will be in control of it all and I wouldn't have it any other way.
I may however need to stay off Facebook until Kya is born though because I just can't look at pictures of other women's babies right now. With that said I do pray they are doing well, that the babies are growing and the mom's healing. That their births were amazing and filled with your presence.
Love, Samantha
p.s. I will praise you in this storm, I will lift my hands, you are who you are, no matter where I am."

"6-7-18
Dear Lord,
Contractions started very lightly at 2 am, but I've spent most of the night since 1:30 am awake. At first they were 5 minutes apart but hardly noticeable, then they spaced out to 10 ,minutes and got more intense but they have stayed that way for several hours so I don't know if I'll be calling anyone out here. Patrick even went to work this morning, but he calls me every half hour or so.
There is a thunderstorm going on outside but it is only just starting and not supposed to last long, so I doubt it will have much chance of making labor stronger.
I believe you have it figured out though. Even if I don't have a clue. I do pray that you help me to figure it out though because we are supposed to go to (R)'s house today to let the kids swim, and since the weather should only be bad a little longer there isn't much reason not to take them.
...
Love, Samantha"

"6-9-18
Dear Lord Jesus,
I read Esmarie's birth story today and it amazes me just how present you were for the whole thing, and yet it wasn't my favorite birth. I should give you more glory for that experience. I truly love what you have done to bring her into my arms. Actually her entire story to this moment is worthy of praising you for. She is such a beautiful child, even though she is trying me lately, I know this is just a part of her character development.
Lord I know you have plans for Kya's birth, I'm asking you to please bring them to fruition today. There is nothing special about this day, it is just a day, but Lord, I am ready to have this child now. I'm still asking for a 7-8 hour labor, but I'm asking for it today. My despair yesterday has turned to motivation today, and I am ready to turn that into a productive labor.
As in Esmarie's birth day I draw your attention to 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 are my deliverer, do not delay another day. Bring my body into a calm and effective clearly started labor.
Thank you Lord, Amen,
Samantha"

"6-10-18
Dear Lord,
Every day is becoming a struggle to believe your words to me. After all weren't they spoken 3-4 weeks ago and now here I sit, one day less than a week after my so called due date, still pregnant and not only pregnant but with this child higher in my pelvis than she has been in a long time, leading me to believe she really has no chance at birth today.
It has been a full week since the day I prayed would be Kya's birthday and is now someone else's birthday.I'm about to go to church and hear a bunch of people either joke about when my child will be born or sympathize with me about the duration of this pregnancy and ask me 'how much longer until they induce?' Which is socially and culturally acceptable nonsense and only frustrates me more for the lack of understanding that this duration is what is best for my baby, regardless of how I feel about it.
Though I am anxious to hold my daughter and eager to see her face I am not excited to still be pregnant, however I do not want to endanger her to get her out... nor do I wish to increase my personal risk of injury by forcing her birth based on a square on a calendar. I do need you to walk with me today though because I just don't have the attitude needed to handle people today.
Help me not to be sullen about the long lasting wait for the birth of this child.
Thank you Lord,
Samantha"

"6-11-18
Dear Lord,
I don't know whether I want to take the kids to their activities today or not. I dealt with all the people and all the questions as much as possible in friendly and gentle ways yesterday, and then I came home and freaked out on Patrick and cried like I have not cried in a long time. And today is probably going to be just as exhausting mentally if I do all the things. Yet, if I don't then everyone will want to know if I had the baby and text and Facebook message me and bug me anyway.
I'm a week past my due date today. Looks like Esmarie's birth won't be my longest pregnancy anymore. I mean unless you do something before tomorrow morning. I know you are doing what is needed though, so I wait on you.
Yesterday during church a woman spoke out in tongues and a man interpreted it, the message always seems to be the same. Wait on you, you love us... come to you and you will give us rest... all the things I know you would say.  Yesterday seemed biblical and in line with scripture, and yet I wonder why I never feel personally touched by these outbursts.  Perhaps because you speak to me directly I don't need to hear your voice in this way?  I just don't know.. And I almost always pray that you will speak to my hearth through those words, but walk away feeling like I could have gotten that message by reading my bible and didn't need to hear it spoken aloud by an unplanned outburst from someone among the crowd. I hope that those outbursts do actually minister to the hearts of some on the congregation.
Love,
Samantha"

"6-12-18
Dear Lord,
Will this child EVER come out? I know she will, but I doubt it at the same time. Yesterday I looked back at my fertility chart and figured out that Sapphira was not 4 days early, she was 3 days late, and I know she would have been later if not for doctor's and midwives who pushed me to have her. So this pattern of going later with each pregnancy is not true, and I have always thought Sapphira would have happily stayed put another two weeks if she had been allowed to do so. And that knowledge makes me actually feel better. Now I know that sometime after 40 weeks is totally normal for my body and that Esmarie and Kya waiting this long are just fine to do so. Though I've been ready for my baby and I feel as if you don't want to answer my prayers but ignore them right now. Still I will praise you. Still I will trust you, because you are good, and I am your creation.
Help me to get the house picked up and ready for my appointment today at 3. I am embarrassed at how bad it has gotten since (B) cam to help me out. I need to keep myself going and get it taken care of. The kitchen will be my first goal to tackle and hopefully I can really get it taken care of and move on to my bedroom. The kids have been helping with the dinning room and living room so I am not too worried about them. I know I can do it, and I'm sure you will guide me and help me to achieve it.
Thank you Lord,
Samantha"

"6-13-18
Dear Lord,
All night contractions, they were five minutes apart but slipped to much longer and I woke up with them at 10 minutes apart. But all of them except the one I had just a bit ago were like the ones I have had off and on for weeks. no strength to them.
Today would be a good date for our little blessing to be born though, exactly one month after my birthday would make the numbers memorable and please Lord don't let (E)'s latest prediction be right. The 18th! Oh please Lord no! I'm so exhausted from such light sleep last night and the night before I pray you will deliver me of this child in my womb. At least then the muscle work out would be over, obviously I'd then be caring for a newborn but that I can handle.
I just want to sleep all day and wake up with  a baby  in my arms.  How ridiculous is that? and I would love for these contractions to really mean something and not just be going on and on forever.
Love,
Samantha"

"6-21-18
Dear Lord,
Thank you for an amazing birth!  June 14th at 3 am I called (G), and told her it was baby time. After texting the group both (B) and (M) woke up to my text so I didn't have to call them. I did call (T) but as I suspected she was unable to come because she was babysitting her nephews. I woke Patrick up to tell him it was time to have a baby. At first I could hum through the contractions and it was working great to relax me, by the time (B) arrived I could not hum any more, but was trying to sing along with the playlist I had created on YouTube for Kya's birth.
(B) gave me a contraction timer on her phone and began to set up the birth pool with Patrick. When I had a contraction she would rub my back, she didn't get much time to work on the pool. (M) came next and I had her take over for (B). The pool never did get set up. They ended up discovering the hose was leaking, but even in the best of circumstances they wouldn't have gotten it filled before Kya's birth.
(G) showed up next. I was sitting on the birth ball and leaning on the bed and trying so hard to sing through the contractions. It mostly was not working. A song came on that just annoyed me and I made (M) skip it, then another came on that just felt amazing, like it melted my soul and made everything fluid. I told her to keep that one going and ignore the rest of the play list.
(M) continued to rub my back, (G) felt out of place so she rubbed (M)'s back, (B) and Patrick continued to set up the birth pool.  I had them stop when I realized my body had begun to push a little with each contraction.  At this point I asked them to clear off the bed so I could climb up on it, I did, almost shocked by my ability to move, and talk during this part of labor (my last two home births I couldn't do much of anything at this point).  I was on my knees with my hands on the foot board and this is when my mood just went haywire. I was happy and annoyed, and even cried for a minute. I told everyone I was uncomfortable and how I didn't want to do this anymore, or rather how I understood how other women tried to escape it.  I laid down and got right back up. I thought I could sleep, nope. Someone suggested that I lean on Patrick instead of the foot board, this sounded wonderful but I was no longer able to move.  Just before this my water had broke and actually sprayed forward drenching the place I had wanted to put my hands to support myself. I tried to tell them how wet it was up there, but they didn't understand until later when they could see it.
Patrick moved over to where I could lean on him and that amazing peace of being held by someone you love washed over me. The panic I was starting to feel was gone. much like when the song I was enjoying played I felt my body relax again. By the way, the song is a newer version of "it is well with my soul".
The pushing sensation began to escalate and Kya's head emerged, but not fully.  Later (G) told me that she came out with her head presenting the top instead of the back and then stopped at her mouth. So during this time I was utterly confused as to what part of her I had birthed, the burning sensation just didn't end like it did in other births.
Another contraction and I pushed the rest of her head out, then her shoulders came, I remember they did not come out like Micah's with several pushes, or like Esmarie's since she was a little wedged in, but it was two pushes very close to one another. It took me a moment to recover, I relaxed on Patrick's shoulders and relaxed my body, thinking all the while how I would be picking up my baby, but I just couldn't yet.  After gathering myself I did pick her up, thinking how wonderful it was to have been given this moment to relax and prepare myself to see Kya and greet her in my own way instead of being rushed or shouted at, or told what to do, or anything else. I'm so thankful to (G) for having that policy.
Kya Phoebe was born at 4:34 am on June 14th 2018. She weighed 8lbs even, and was 20 inches long.
I prayed I would know when labor was real, and you answered. I prayed this birth would be fun and my whole team would be there and you answered. I prayed for 7-8 hours of labor and you showed me I could enjoy a 2 hour labor.
Thank you,
Samantha"

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Prodomal Labor sucks

If you have never experienced labor that doesn't do much of anything, let me tell you it isn't that fun.

This is my fifth full term pregnancy, I past my due date a few days ago, I don't have any experience with having a late baby without prodomal labor, so I can't say much for the mental state of a woman with labor that is clearly defined at the time of her babies arrival but no labor leading up to it...
What I can say is that having several different days where you feel like 'this could be it' but then second guessing EVERYTHING isn't really that great for your mental state.
Before you ask, I'm ok.  I'm not happy about it, but I'm ok.  Two days ago I had some contractions that seemed to be getting stronger for awhile, and then they went away after about 6 hours or so, I'm really not counting the time, I just know it was long enough to make you take notice ok.... I know that within 12 hours of waking up everything that had progressively gotten stronger was then gone, but that is a whole lot of progress and change in between that I'm not going to get into the details of, so we'll just stick with 6 hours. 
After six hours I took a nap and it all went away, even the back pain I was experiencing went away.. so that was nice.  However, facing ANYONE after all that labor is just not fun.  People look at you with a sad sympathetic look on their faces and repeat over and over how it could be 'any time now' and or they ask you how you are doing... to which you really have no answer.  Do you really want to be in labor?  Do you want to acknowledge the child inside of you who refuses to come out?  Do you feel good on the inside and miserable on the outside, or vise-versa...? 
I don't even know how I feel, let alone to express that feeling... who really knows how they feel at 40 weeks plus a bit?  ready?  Not ready at all? 
Today is 40 weeks and 5 days.  Esmarie was my longest pregnancy so far, at 41 weeks 1 day, I'm not really looking forward to passing that date, but it seems that's the way this is headed... all the prodomal labor hasn't really gotten me too far... at least not that I know of since I'm not checking nor is anyone else checking my cervix. 
I will say it is Saturday, and that gives me a little hope... I know that is ridiculous, but Caeden was born Sunday morning after a Saturday labor, Micah was born Sunday morning after a Saturday labor, and Esmarie was born on a Saturday morning after a very short labor.  Sapphira was born on a Friday morning after a forced labor on a Thursday and a c-section early Friday morning, not sure that counts though.
Yesterday I was a mess, I felt depressed and lonely yet didn't want to be around anyone... I crocheted the whole day.  The little flower baby thing I made turned out cute, still have to give it some eyes, but it's finished otherwise.  And the kids cleaned up the living room and dinning room... so it wasn't a completely wasted day, even if I did just sit on the couch the majority of it. 
Today I feel a bit more optimistic, and no not just because it is Saturday, more so because I just can't stay mad at the baby inside of me who refuses to come out of my womb and into my arms... though I have not seen her yet, I know she is going to be adorable (the proof is in the pudding, two good looking parents and four other adorable kids... you can't get ugly from that!).  I know she is going to come at God's perfect time for her!  When....?  I don't know that... and that bothers me, but God spoke to my heart a few weeks back, he said he was "doing this for me"... I don't know what that means, but it can't be to harm me.. I'm sure of that.  He is a good God.  I trust him fully to figure out the perfect time and way for this baby to be born.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mother's Day

Patrick works an odd schedule, nights for 6 days, days for 6 days, and then off for 6 days.  This week he is working nights, which is a bummer because he misses some of the things that are typically important... Mother's Day, and my birthday... which also happen to fall on the same day this year.
I was gearing up to just forget the day as much as possible.. I mean I'm turning 34, and my oldest child is only 9, so it is either celebrate yourself and feel silly, or forget about it because your kids are not old enough to do the planning for you.  I can't say it didn't bother me, it really did, but I felt foolish for being bothered by it.  So I just didn't talk to anyone about it much.
When people asked (and only a few did so it worked out alright) I would just say bluntly, honestly and without much emotion that I had no plans and that we'd probably just do church, which I was serving in the nursery for, and then eat something on the way home and just chill out there for the rest of the day.  Nothing too exciting.
BUT yesterday my husband surprised me.  He asked me if I wanted to celebrate my birthday on Wednesday since he would be off that night in preparation for switching to his day shift, and it honestly melted my heart that he had even thought about it at all.  This may not be a big deal really, and it isn't, but to me it meant a lot.  Patrick does not plan things.  As an example we decided a few years ago to switch off whose family we would see each year, last year was my family, so this year it is his family... BUT I keep asking him when he wants to go and he doesn't answer, he doesn't really switch the subject, but he never answers.. I think he is incapable, I say, you say the month and I'll make all the arrangements and he says "ok" and then we never get anywhere on the issue... So when my husband had picked a day, suggested a plan (eating at a restaurant) and asked me my opinion it was kind of shocking, and a lot appreciated. I was prepared (and happy) to let that be the plan and go with it, still forgetting as much as possible about the whole mother's day/birthday on Sunday thing.
I was riding on cloud nine just thinking about how he'd remembered my birthday at all... and I told him how much it meant to me, talked to my mom and a few other people about how I was so impressed and happy about the situation, just in general felt GOOD to be remembered.  And then this morning he came home and didn't come straight to the bedroom, I figured he was greeting the kids or something, I'm not normally awake when he comes in on his night shift (I don't sleep well when he isn't here, and the kids all know how to get their morning chores done and make their own breakfast so it doesn't really matter if i'm up at 7:30am or 8:00am. But I was actually up, and half dressed because Esmarie had taken her diaper off and was walking around diaperless at 7:20.  I spotted a pair of Micah's pants that were nice and thought he might need them for church so I called him over to give him the pants.  When he came he looked excited (still wasn't thinking much about Patrick not coming straight to the bedroom like he usually does) Micah starts stammering about 'we got' or 'there's something' and it hits me that Patrick has done something for me, though I still don't know what... and I don't want to foil his surprise, so when Sapphira walks up to Micah and says "Don't Tell Micah", I simply tell him to go take care of the pants, no longer caring that they are nicer than the ones he's wearing, but just trying to get him to not say what he's trying to say and move on.  I walk away closing the bedroom door behind me and thinking about the fact that I'm half dressed, and need to finish getting dressed, but any moment I can expect my children to walk in with my husband and whatever they have planned....
Quickly I grab the rest of my clothes and go to the bathroom to put them on so that they don't walk in and find me in my underwear or worse...After changing I come into the bedroom and there, holding a chocolate cake is my husband, still in his work uniform, my daughter holding some beautiful blue dyed Orchids, and my two boys, Esmarie is somewhere behind them getting into things and oblivious to whats happening, but still present.  They sing happy birthday to me and  I cried. 
Church was ok, I held a crying toddler for the whole service, she eventually fell asleep, I think she finally trusted me enough to relax. Then we got our picture taken at the photo booth they had set up, someone asked where Patrick was and I had to explain that he was working nights this week so he wasn't there.  Two people found out it was my birthday, and everyone wished me a happy mother's day... it was generally a good time.. but not many people even knew it was my birthday and it always feels so weird to explain that mother's day isn't JUST mother's day for me, so I didn't tell them.
We went out to get lunch at a family restaurant, and then came home... I generally just decided not to do anything responsible, cause it's my birthday, and just enjoyed being lazy, took a nap, and made dinner and avoided anything else that might have been done.
But I'm still riding the waves of joy from the beautiful thoughtfulness of my husband... who as I said, is not a planner, and went above and beyond anything I expected.  Oh and he also got me chocolate... so my candy jar is full again.. Even the boring birthdays are great birthdays when you are not forgotten.
But this has all made me think more about how I feel about mother's day. 
In general I love the holiday, the idea of celebrating moms for the work they do, it is absolutely amazing.  I'm glad we have a holiday for that.  There are mother's who have birthed babies, mother's who have adopted babies, mother's who have carried and lost babies before ever meeting them, the walk is different for all of us, and sometimes you come across a childless woman who whether by choice or circumstance never had a child, but she is the most motherly person you'll ever meet (we've got one at our church), and all of them need to be celebrated.  Mothering is a tough job!  I do not include all women in this holiday, because before becoming a mother I do not think I needed to be celebrated on mother's day for being a woman capable of having children, it is not even remotely the same as being a mother. 
But I have ALWAYS had a rivalry for mother's day.  First I was born on Mother's Day, the actual day.  My mom always said she had missed getting a rose on her first mother's day so when she was pregnant with me she was excited to go to the church service where she knew she would be given a rose... and instead she ended up in labor with me, a sunnyside up giant baby, and no one from the church thought to bring her the rose she had wanted so badly... so I guess it started the year I was born. 
As I grew up my mom and her sister and my grandma started to plan mushroom hunting trips in the spring, it became a regular and traditional trip, however the mushrooms in Michigan are always in their peak season the weekend of Mother's Day... which was always the weekend of my birthday celebration... which meant that mom was often gone around my birthday, sometimes on my birthday, and I never felt forgotten, I think mom always made a point to make sure she was there for my actual birthday, but I do remember one year she actually asked me how I felt about her leaving because my birthday was actually during the time they had planned the trip.  She did a great job of making me feel special... but the world didn't.  No one knows it is your birthday when Mother's Day comes around.  No one cares or thinks about birthdays when Mother's Day is around.  Every mother that walks into a restaurant, or public place is greeted with a smile and a "Happy Mother's Day", but the little girl celebrating her birthday is just a weird aside from the real special day...
And so my weird issue with mother's day just grew... I don't hate it, I love it, but I don't like my birthday to be so close to it.
Now I thought I'd dealt with that as a mom, but this is only the second mother's day I've had as a mother that actually shared my birthday... the last one was in 2012.  So I guess I realized today that I feel weird still about this odd holiday. 
I don't call anyone but my own mother for Mother's Day... I don't text anyone either, especially when it is the same day as my birthday.  If anyone texts/calls/leaves me a Facebook message with a 'happy birthday' I reply "happy mother's day to you!  But I don't think I've ever, until this year, publicly said Happy Mother's Day on social media.. maybe I have, but I don't remember.  It just feels weird, on your birthday to wish everyone else a happy day.... it shouldn't because it is actually a beautiful thing... but it does.
But this year I thought about all the moms I've served as a doula, all the moms that I've learned from, all the moms that I've walked this road with, all the moms that I've observed from afar, all the moms that pour their hearts out every day, in happiness, sadness, weariness, bittersweet moments, harsh realities, and every other situation... and I'm truly blessed... so VERY BLESSED to know so many women who mother so well... and who are not afraid to be real about it.  Motherhood is a hard journey... and I shouldn't feel weird sharing this day with so many amazing women... yeah it takes some of my spot light (not that I am prone to asking for a spot light) but it also is just amazing to know that these women should be celebrated too... regardless of what day their holiday falls on.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Why I choose Motherhood

I just finished reading an article that has me dumbfounded, and I just couldn't help but reply to it... so here you go, my opposing position for the article titled More Women are Choosing Not to Have Children and Here's Why
The article starts out by stating a fact that on it's surface is probably just plain ole fact, but when you really consider it has a FRIGHTENING implication...
In 2014 47.6% of women between the ages of 15 and 44 did not have children.  I've taken the liberty to look up the birth rate for the United States, according to this article there are 59.6 births for every 1000 women, a woman must have 2.1 babies in her lifetime to maintain the population at it's current level, accounting for each of it's parents, plus some deaths along the way (it's sad, but not all children will grow to become reproducing adults).  The United States of America falls just above 2 births per woman, which means we will maintain our current population... however not all women are out having babies, and that is what the article "More Women are Choosing Not the Have Children and Here's Why" is talking about.  Why would we choose not to have children, knowing that our country, our species depends on us raising children?
Well according to the author women are choosing not to have children for several reasons, and each of the reasons were given directly from women who choose not to have children themselves.
Reason 1?
Not even sure this is really a reason to be honest, but terminology.  Women are saying they are 'child-free' instead of childless... implying that they didn't fall into the cracks, they choose instead to be there.  I don't even remotely understand that, no judgement in that, I just honestly don't understand, my whole life I wanted to be a mom, and when I finally got pregnant with my first child I was anxious to tell the whole world.  I remember grocery shopping at a local store and wanting to tell the cashier about my pregnancy.. any excuse to announce my happiness to ANYONE who would listen!  I was bummed when it took FOREVER for someone to finally ask me 'are you pregnant?'  I wanted nothing more than for the radiance I felt from becoming a mother to be evident to EVERYONE who I came across.  So to say I don't relate is and understatement.
Reason 2?
Three is a crowd.
The main reason to remain childless is because they can... because they can?  Is this power?  I am of the opinion that when I live my life it touches others... and that touch creates my legacy... I want to leave a legacy, and in our social media era I think it is safe to say most everyone wants to leave a legacy, they want as many 'likes' and 'comments' on their quirky lives as possible, they want attention, and they want to leave a lasting impact on the world... opinions are flying rampant all over Facebook and Twitter and all the other places people tend to leave them... and we all want attention, it is natural, even good I would venture to say, that we want to leave an impact on the world around us.
How are we going to leave the biggest impact?  Personally, I think that if I can reach 100 people in my life, give them a taste for who I am and all that, then that is pretty good, but probably only 30 of them will be around when I die and able to come to the funeral... BUT what if I created some people who i infused not only with my DNA but also with my ideas, my thoughts, my world view, and was a part of their every day lives, the nitty-gritty parts for more than 18 years, and then after that even I held some kind of responsibility and vested interest in their lives and they in mine... how many more people would I reach?  If each one reaches 100 people themselves, then for each of those people I raised to be as much like me as possible (not the goal, just a thought to ponder) then for each child that I raise I get 100 more 'followers'... yeah, so I currently have 4 children and one more on the way, for each of them I get 100 people (all figurative, I have no idea how many people I will have impacted in my life) that means my meager 100 then turns into 500 people simply because I have deeply involved myself in the lives of those I raised for 18+ years.  My impact just got a lot bigger people!
So why wouldn't I as a selfish human want to impact a larger crowd simply by raising some of that crowd myself?
The article says that we've wrested this important life altering choice out of the hands of the patriarchy... OH MY BULL! 
No one told me I had to have kids, and my husband certainly holds a part of this responsibility in his hands... capable hands I might add... hands that provide for our financial needs and serve as a guidepost for the direction of our family... We are a TEAM, no patriarchy here.. just a well oiled machine with kinks and road bumps along the way, but all in all a good team.  We decided most everything together, no one forced anyone in this household to bear children, or to financially support said children.
Sara Tenenbein is quoted saying " Just the two of us is awesome, maybe we don't need to add more humans to the equation."  The only thing I have to say to this is, yes you do... if you don't... you in the figurative sense but also in the very real sense of human survival, don't 'add more humans to the equation' eventually the human race DIES... so yes, someone has to make the TERRIBLE (sarcasm) sacrifice of having children to further the human population of the world... or we won't exist anymore.. and as more and more people choose not to have kids, or to wait until their fertility is at a minimum and they may not be able to have children at all, the population suffers from it.  Not only in the sense that we eventually have no more humans to inhabit the planet, but also that the few children our generations will produce will have to support you as a senior citizen, and the less their are to pay for your lifestyle, the more restricted your lifestyle will be, you NEED to prepare for your OWN future, and one of the best ways to do that is to have small people in your life now so that someone loves you enough to pay your bills when you are old and you don't end up eating cat food in a dark one room apartment with no electricity in the middle of the winter.   
Reason 3?
 Babies are Gross.
First, I disagree, PEOPLE ARE GROSS.  The fact that you can wipe your own butt and do not rely on someone else to do so does not mean that you are never in contact with human feces... we all poop.  We all vomit on occasion too, and while you are a grown up, when you get sick and miss the toilet or the bowl you keep by your bedside to puke into, who cleans it up?  If you are lucky enough to have a spouse who will not puke at the sight of someones vomit then you may not have to clean it yourself, but chances are, if you're spouse is the type to clean up after you, then you may at some point have to clean up after them... it is a fact of life, people poop, and people puke, and sometimes they do both at the same time... Babies are tiny people... so naturally they do that which all people do.  Is it gross?  sure, but no more disgusting than you are, and in some ways, size based, a baby is much less disgusting than you.
Also, though hard to explain there is a great satisfaction in knowing that you are capable of caring for a small person who is entirely dependent on you for survival.  Not to mention the ADORABLE expressions that randomly play on a sleeping baby's face... they are enough to make you melt.
 Married couple and researchers from Kansas State University, Gary and Sandra Brase, have been looking into the reasons some people don't have babies and they determined that people who were exposed primarily to the negative side of babies, crying, diapers, and what-not, have less desire to procreate than those who are exposed to cuddles, smiles and generally happy parts of infancy and childhood.  Is it any wonder really that if you focus solely on the negative of anything you will most likely not want to be a part of it?  Where as if you see the positive then you'll want to experience it for yourself. 
Recently I was talking to a friend about transitions, when my husband and I got out of the military we went to live temporarily with my parents and they had a giant bedroom that they gave to our family, it actually wasn't too uncomfortable for my husband and I with our two children to live in this one bedroom together.  of course there were the sneaky intimacy moments, and the frustrations of kids waking in the middle of the night and or choosing not to go to sleep because they had each other to entertain themselves.  But overall my memory of us all sharing that space isn't too bad.  My friend however said she was 'glad not to have children sometimes'.  This struck me a little off.  This same woman has wanted to have children and has not yet been able to carry a pregnancy to term, and so I know her intent wasn't that she just plain didn't desire children, but rather that she saw them in this situation to be a hindrance... whereas I did feel that things were hindering me, but it was never my children, it was our situation, my husband being unemployed after serving in the US Navy for 8 years, moving back into my parents house after having established my own routines and expectations for my family for several years... things like that, not the kids.
Culture around the world, in many countries would like us to believe that children are a burden, but really they are such a blessing, and while difficult to raise, they are amazing to watch grow.  So sure, they might be 'gross' just the same as you and I, but they are also incredible and imaginative, and intuitive.  If you focus on the negative you'll only have negative feelings toward them, but if you look for the good (and it really isn't that hard) then you'll understand that while life with children is different, and difficult, it is also far more rewarding and fulfilling.
Reason 4?
Women have Jobs.
I have much to say about this.  So much that I have to reign myself in a little.  I have been unemployed for the past 10 years.  And if I look into the future and count all the worries I could have it is quite terrifying to think that if anything happened to my husband I would be the breadwinner of my household and I've got little work experience to put on my resume.  I have plenty of skills, just none that would translate well without misleading people onto a resume.  HOWEVER, it is ENTIRELY possible to live a GOOD fulfilled, and  pleasantly comfortable life, without having two working adults in the home.  So whether women are choosing to have jobs, or they are financially dependent on their jobs, I'm not entirely sure, but the article suggests that because women have jobs they choose those jobs over the idea of having children. 
What do you value?  Coffee at and overpriced and overrated cafe?  well perhaps you should keep that job... but if you don't care about that, but instead care about deep relationships with people who will help you to become a better human, then perhaps your job isn't what will make that possible, you can find that in many places, including in your children... shocking I know.
This portion of the article blames the united states government for not providing sufficient pay and leave for those who choose to have children, but I disagree... you can have an amazing life without coffee houses, and deadlines, boardrooms, and all that... I know because I have that.  And it wasn't dependent on my house, my car, or the places I ate out.  I've lived in my parents house (my lowest point), a 5th wheel with 3 children (an adventure of necessity), rental houses, my own 1070 sqft house, and now my dream house.... all these places didn't really change my happiness level at all.. I was perfectly happy with my family no matter where we were because; and I say this with all honesty, we were together.
Reason 5?
Selfish isn't all bad.
Selfish is selfish is selfish... who you live for is indicative of your personal health and well being. People who live only for themselves have less friendships, and people with less friendships will have less people to lean on in troubled times.  And for mental health it can be beneficial to have a more selfless approach to life.  Here is an article that talks about that. Some even believe that men who are involved in family life will live longer than those who are alone, whether by choice or circumstances, but specifically those who choose to be alone... because they are in their nature behaving more selfishly, whereas those who are alone by some other design than their personal choice might be more likely to volunteer and spend time with extended family to get that same sense of selflessness.
One quoted woman (Mayer) in the article even says that if  "freedom" equals "selfishness" then bring it on... I can't imagine a more sad view of raising children. 
As a home school mother, I find that I have ultimate freedom over my life.  Sure I have to come up with a babysitter to be able to do the things I once didn't have to think twice about doing, but that really hasn't been an issue because for the most part I really don't want to do those once sought after things anymore.  I'd rather spend an evening making pizza and popcorn and watching a movie with my family than going out to a club to dance, or a concert to listen to music, or even a theater to watch a movie, most every weekend.  On occasion I do still enjoy those things, but for the most part I don't need them, I have more satisfying things to do with my children, right here in my home.
Reason 6?
This one shocked, me, not because it was listed, but rather because it wasn't the first thing listed...
Children Cost a lot.
When I was pregnant for my first child my husband and I talked about money and the idea of me working to help pay for the cost of raising a child... at the time the most money a job had ever paid me to work for them was $9.50 per hour, and I wasn't working there any more.  One Child in daycare for a woman who works 37 hours (never worked 40 because the boss didn't want to risk paying overtime)
Putting our infant in daycare would have cost us around $7,000 a year (this is an estimate based on the area we live in and doesn't represent the entire country as the cost varies depending on location).  My total income would have been around $18,000 before taxes, and we planned to have three children, so while I might make a bit of money while we had only one child in care, and I might even get a raise at my work place or find a job that would pay me more, I could expect that I'd probably max out at about $20,000 a year because I am not the main breadwinner in my family but only an added income and my dedication to family and current level of education (then and now) wouldn't really allow for me to make the big bucks... so once we put three children in daycare my income would still be pretty low considering the added cost of things like gas to bring kids to daycare and myself to work each day.  For simplicity sake I just multiplied the cost of daycare by three (we wanted them close in age so I'd probably be paying for all of them at the same time at one point) and that means that I'd be paying more in daycare cost than I made in a year of working.  At the time and even now this makes ZERO sense, so we opted that I become a stay at home mother.  Now the entire cost of our family rested solely on my husband's shoulders, but the things our children would learn would come from our family alone... and that was worth the trade off.  I wanted very much to be the one to raise my children, not a daycare, not a teacher, or a babysitter, but me.  I felt God had entrusted them to me and I shouldn't take that lightly, and wouldn't allow someone else to fulfill my purpose in their lives.  Not to mention the fact that little did I know it at the time but I don't respond well to a breast pump and would not have been able to maintain an exclusively breastfeeding relationship with my infant if I had to drop them off at a daycare every day, thereby increasing our cost to add formula for feeding said baby.
So do babies cost money?  Sure they do, but you don't have to buy a new stroller, you get a nice used one for very little money, I did.  You also don't have to get a new pack'n'play for baby, you don't even HAVE to have one in the first place but if you decide it is necessary it is easy to find a nice quality one that doesn't cost the price of new, from just about anyone.  I got mine for $35 and have been using it for 9 years, and it is still in great shape and works just as well as when I got it.  You also don't need a traditional changing table, just a caddy with diapers and wipes on my bedroom floor is all I use now, but at one point I had a changing pad on a dresser, and it worked wonderfully.  We bought our crib used as well, still in great condition and it has been used for four children, and was a great $90 find, and will be used for the 5th baby as well.  Not buying new things has great benefits.  You can get affordable new clothes from Good will and thrift shops as well, though I personally steer clear of some of the baby resale shops because they cost nearly as much as the new clothes at wal-mart and target.   Having a child doesn't have to cost a lot. 
I recently talked to a mom who is expecting her 2nd girl, and she was expressing the need to decorate the 'nursery' and update her other daughter to a 'toddler room'. All I could think about was how much things change when all the bedrooms are filled and you have another baby on the way... no more decorating the bedrooms. It is fun for the first baby or two, but beyond that, there is no need, and no room, so the cost actually goes down with each additional child you add to your family.  Now that we are on child number 5, the only additional expense this one will cost us is diapers, and wipes, things I'm already buying, but now for at least a short time I'll be buying them for two at once, and that is it.  Clothes are all handed down, one child to the next, and furniture and baby items will either be gifted to us or reused from the other children.  There are those that are of the opinion that children can't wear used clothing, but if money is an object, there is no reason to follow that rule.  In fact I noticed a decreasing need for pajamas for my third and fourth babies, they just wore their day time oh so comfortable sleepers or onsies to bed, no need to change them if you don't have to, save on laundry, as they get older they will actually need pajamas, but not when they are little.. not really.
so cost really isn't that big of a deal for people with a brain in their heads and a head on their shoulders.
Reason 7?
Stay at Home Dad's are still the exception
If a mom makes more money than the dad, sure consider the dad for staying home with the kids, if Dad has a disability keeping him from being able to work, sure consider him for staying home with the kids.. for a number of other reasons there may be a reason to consider dad for staying home, but I'd venture to say that  woman is more equipped to deal with the needs and demands of a child at home, particularly an infant.  From a purely physical standpoint a mom is the better choice because it is her body that has and will continue to provide for an infant.  A dad doesn't typically lactate, so if breastfeeding is something important to a family (and if you want to save money on food and healthcare it really should be) then it should be obvious that mom would stay home.  Also, hormonal changes in mom's are designed to help their children in so many physical ways that men can do, but just not as well.  Oxytocin is shared between a breastfeeding mom and her child, promoting a healthy brain, and development in the child.  Skin to skin contact with either parent will help a baby to regulate their body temperature, but seems to work best with mom.  A baby can learn to regulate their heart rate also by being skin to skin with his/her mother.  Here is another great article to explain the need a child and mother have for each other. 
So while I don't think it is bad to have dad instead of mom, I fully believe it is more beneficial for an infant, toddler and young child to have mom, and then as they get older to then learn from and connect to their father more and more throughout their older childhood and teen years, depending on his wisdom and guidance to develop important life skills.  It just makes sense that mothers and babies be together in those early years, with all the benefits that a mother's body can have on her child and it's development.
Kohler, a participant in the article was quoted saying "Raising a kid before s/he begins school is more than a full-time job.  It's 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with no time off for good behavior. I'm not fit to be around adult human beings when sleep-deprived, let alone a child dependent on me for Every. Little. Thing." However this is the kind of thinking that someone without children would have... and even some with children who have no support systems or who have chosen to focus on how hard things are rather than taking the approach of thankfulness, or at least looking for the benefits of parenting. 
The chemical and hormonal communication between a mother and her child is amazingly complex, one of the things our bodies were designed to do was actually to wake as our baby is waking to feed them quickly and then both mother and baby go happily back to sleep... our culture however teaches us to keep our infants in a separate room from us, making it impossible for our bodies to read the chemical make up of our child as they start to wake (even before they have moved or stirred from their sleeping) to be fed, so by the time we are awake and aware of our infants growing need for nourishment, or even comfort, they are already crying for us, and wide awake, which means that we must then fully wake up to calm them before feeding them and putting them back to bed, a much longer process than God intended it to be.  A mother who keeps her infant far from her while resting will have less rest than one who sleeps with her infant at most an arms length away from her.  At some point this does change and sleep is easier for both when they have their own space, but that I leave up to each individual. 
My point is that you don't have to be sleep deprived to be a parent... yes you will have times when you are sleep deprived, but not as many as people make it seem, and if not as many, then certainly not as long as they make it sound. 
Parenthood is a gift.  And the article I've been addressing doesn't take into account that about 40% of american women approaching the end of their childbearing days will say they did not have as many children as they wished they would have... and that is sad, but also telling.  Selfishness is not a long term reward for a life well lived, and children are a blessing that can not be contained in a short article that claims women who have children are under patriarchy control.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Money

I'm seeing a lot of money talk right now as military members face the fact that their pay has been frozen, and regardless of how long it takes for them to get paid, regardless of any of that... (this post has little to nothing to do with that situation, just the money thing) I have to say, saving money is NOT hard. What does it take to save money? Planning. Budgeting. Being mindful of your future instead of what is currently your situation. How can I say that?
I'm 33 years old, I've been married 10.5 years, my husband is AMAZING when it comes to saving money... I however am NOT... but I'm learning and our partnership has been amazing in this area.
Did I learn to save money from my parents? No, they have always been in a tight spot, and it has a lot to do with planning.. they are not planners, and they run into situations before adequately planning for them. (This is not to say my family has ever been in need and not able to provide, they just don't 'save money' well.) So no I didn't learn it from my mom or dad.
Did my husband learn it from his mother and father? No, he didn't know his dad, and his mom was a single mother putting herself through college during his growing up years. He was not in need of anything she couldn't provide either, but she wasn't able to put away for the future either.
Maybe this left us both prone to want to provide what our parents couldn't... maybe. But we taught ourselves to save... he more than I.
When we got married Patrick was in the military, he received a sign up bonus, did he immediately spend it? NO. This incredible guy knew one day he was going to have a family and dreamed that in his 30's he would own his house free and clear and have a boat. Neither of those things is currently true and yes we are in our 30's, but what is true is that he actually has money in his savings account.
I feel it is stupid to write numbers on the internet about how much money people have, so I'm not sharing that. Instead I want to tell you what I was doing during that time when my husband started saving his money.
I was babysitting, taking odd jobs where I could find them, dressed as the Easter Bunny at the Mall, and a photo taking elf who also managed the booth for your children to sit on Santa's lap. I also worked part time at a daycare where I was on-call for the people who got sick or for other reasons couldn't come to work. I was paid so little with all these jobs combined that when my best friend moved from Michigan to Oklahoma I packed myself up and moved too. I found an apartment, a job with steady hours and someone to co-sign a loan on my apartment so that I could achieve this. I HATE debt, so instead of saving money I put EVERYTHING I had into paying off that loan so my co-signer and myself wouldn't have to worry about me screwing up anyone's credit. I was young, ambitious and determined. I lived off from take out mostly bought by my now husband when he took me out to eat, and simple foods I could afford and cook in my apartment that was by the way furnished with a twin sized mattress on the floor, a plastic table someone was getting rid of, and some chairs also pulled out of that person's garage. A sewing machine someone bought for me so that I could make bean bags, ONE bean bag that I filled with packing peanuts because they were cheaper than bean bag filling, and dishes and pots and pans that I found at garage sales. I had NOTHING special. my future mother in law actually bought me a futon when she visited and saw I only had a single chair for my living room and a beanbag.
I was not uncomfortable, or embarrassed to invite people over, I actually had lots of people over, as often as possible, I was proud of my little mismatched space and what I had done to make it my own and comfortable with the little bit of money I had.
I had no savings, I was barely paying my bills, BUT then once that loan was paid off I started saving, my account started looking better and better, I learned to stay cheap, not to buy the couch I really wanted, or even the pictures or curtains I would have liked to have had, but to put money in the bank and not buy until I had no choice but to do that.
Then I got married and I quit my job to be a stay at home wife. We had some medical bills to pay off and saving was put on hold again, we simply couldn't afford to save, but Patrick had his money already sitting in an account he hadn't touched... so we did have a savings, and it was earning interest. Slowly I learned how to pay things off and budget for the next week. It doesn't take much to spend less than you make. even if it is only $1 at a time... you CAN do it! don't go over on your grocery budget, put something back if you must.
Saying you are not able to save money and then going on to buy Starbucks coffee or hot chocolate is lying. Regardless of the fact that the person you are lying to most is yourself, you are lying if you say you can't afford to save money, but you can afford that coffee. I'm guilty of it, I don't want you all to think I'm picking on anyone in particular, I just think it is ridiculous we American's get into this mood where we say "whoa is me, I can't save money, I'll never get ahead!" and we live in this state of fear where we can't get ahead, and we can't be happy where we are... that is CRAP.
check yourself. Create a budget, and don't go over it. saving money is SO POSSIBLE!
There was a time when my husband was so into saving money that he would cut my generosity and constantly tell me 'no, we can't afford that'... but then he'd go buy the kids stupid $5 toys that would be broken in a week, and it was his way of telling them he loved them and I love that he loves them, but when I pointed this out to him, that he could show love through his money but he wasn't allowing me to do the same, things suddenly changed.
We now have TWO, not just one, but TWO kids that we sponsor through Compassion International, not because I wanted to, but because HE wanted to, and he asked me to find the children we should sponsor, he didn't even know the name of the companies that do this at the time.
And here is the kicker! We went through a period of 7 months, that is more than half the year y'all, that he was laid off... NOT GETTING PAID to work... during that time, here is what happened.
1. we DID receive Patrick's monthly allotment for disability granted from the military
2. we DID receive WIC
3. we DID receive benefits from Patrick's G.I. Bill
4. we rented out our 5th wheel to some transitioning friends for a few of these months (this is NOT a recreational vehicle for us, but was our home for 6 months, check back in my old posts you'll see how we lived. We actually are trying to sell this now so that we don't have the cost of it over our heads anymore, but the purchase wasn't just for fun, but rather necessity)
5. we found a local food bank to cut our grocery costs.
In the end we spent about $2000 in SEVEN months that we had previously saved for a rainy day. That's pretty incredible, because of a small amount of diligence we lived for seven months on an income that was less than desirable, and were able to pay for everything we needed, and we really were not living any differently than we had been before he was laid off. Had we really cut ourselves back, we could have made it without spending ANY of his savings.
Ok, you might be thinking 'yea but most people don't have disability payments and G.I. Bills to benefit from...' and YES that is true, but my point is that we live so much more luxuriously than we have to, as Americans in general. I do want to note here that people without savings might actually stand to receive more aid than those with a savings account, because while we could qualify for WIC we could not qualify for food stamps, or housing assistance.
What can you give up to save a few dollars a week?
Let's do a little math. say you save $10 a week for a year... that is $520 a year that you saved. I'm not even going to add in interest at this point because it is too meager to think about, however you'll notice that it quickly adds up the more money you get into that savings account. now at only $10 a week you'll have over a thousand dollars in two years.. and that is what most people are saying they can not maintain in their bank accounts. This is simply to ridiculous not to point out here.. but as you get better at saving money, stay with a job longer (i.e.get raises) or switch to a higher paying job with your gained experience you'll be bringing in more money and therefore should be SAVING more money.
When I began saving money it was only in $5 increments, but it was something. Then as our pay got better we began saving $20 at a time, then as things got even better instead of limiting ourselves on how much we could save we switched to limiting the amount we spent. Now as his pay increases so does our savings because we don't act richer, even if we are. We eat out the same number of times, pay for the same house, buy things used, (ESPECIALLY CARS!!!) take loans extremely cautiously, and keep our grocery and shopping budgets where they always have been. Just because his pay went up $5 an hour from the last job to this one doesn't mean i suddenly go from shopping at Wal-mart to shopping at American Eagle or wherever the cool kids get their clothes. (point in case I don't even know where to get cool clothes). My family is 'middle class', and someday I hope that we live 'middle class' with an upper class bank account... because that is all we need.... to be where we are, we don't need more, we don't need better, we can have what we have, make it last as long as possible and stop spending what we could be saving.
I'm not at home, but if I were I'd post some pictures of my couch along with this... I'm not preaching to anyone more than I am preaching to myself... my couch is seriously a MESS. It is a sectional that is over 30 years old, we got it used smelling of curry and slightly dated, I made it look more current by removing the skirt from the bottom, and making covers for the throw pillows that matched our decor a bit better, I also might have attacked it with a spray bottle of Febreeze. Perfect... until my husband sat down one day and busted out the bottom of the couch... ugh. we need a new couch right? nope. He fixed it, and then of course he had to fix it again, and when it was beyond fixing we put half (the broken half) in the kid's playroom and pretended the couch was a single normal couch instead of a sectional, even though one end has a high 'arm' and the other has a normal 'arm'. So things were going pretty well until one day the arm ripped, I mean beyond repair tore through wore down, I can't with all my magical sewing skills fix the dang thing, tore..... We need a new couch, right? Well yes, but Patrick just went back to work, we need to build up our funds before going out and spending them all, so instead we folded a blanket over the end to protect it from the children pulling all the stuffing out, then I sewed three large UGLY brown pieces of material someone had given us, together and made a make shift couch cover.
We are close to affording that new couch... but we also need a lawn mower, a necessity once the lawn starts to grow again this spring... so what will we spend the money on? I don't know... but in the mean time, we use a push mower (on almost 3 acres of rough and bumpy land), and make the couch work until it completely falls apart, and I suck up my pride as I invite people to come and share life with us while sitting on my incredibly UGLY breaking couch.
Saving is NOT impossible. Expenses will come, but saving is important and should be regarded as such. After all, that is your children's inheritance, if you spend it all while they are children I doubt they will care much for all the wonderful things you provided for them as much as they will love having a little nest egg of their own when you pass away and leave them a little something you worked hard to save for them.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Update on my new years resolution

I feel as if day one is always full of motivation, and lots of things get done, and it goes relatively smoothly.  I got a lot accomplished with the help of my children.  And I'm pleased with how it went.

BUT now it is day two.

Let's just say I woke up with a prayer on my lips "Lord help  me to do it all again today and not slack off"  and so far so good, but lets just say the world...perhaps Satan is against me today.

I was half way through my morning bible study when a knock came to the door and Caeden announced "Esmarie has a REALLY poopy diaper".  This actually isn't anything new but it had traveled up her back and onto her sheets and clothing, so there was a bit of extra clean up to be done.

After dressing Esmarie and getting her some breakfast I spoke to Sapphira about our new morning challenge "who can do their chores the fastest"  started purely because this girl will take an hour and a half to do the simplest things.  So now we compete to see if she or I get our stuff done in the morning first.  She was off, but I still had to finish my bible study... which I did.
And then while I'm getting dressed I got a phone call from a friend who needed a minute of my time to freak out about her own life, which meant Sapphira TOTALLY beat me getting ready, and she did so in record time... I'm so proud of her!
THEN... my day turned sour.
Caeden knocked on the door while I was still on the phone, and he was having a very hard time getting his words out and tears were forming in his eyes, and I realized that we'd lost a chicken... this has happened before so I knew that is what had happened, but getting the facts and not the long version of the story was not happening so I got off the phone with my friend and forced the important facts out of my son, and then proceeded to send him to his room to recover while I went to take care of the chicken chores.
On my way out to care for the chickens I stopped in the laundry room to retrieve a pair of my socks and found that the dog had for the second night in a row pooped on the floor!  YAY me... dead chicken and dog poop first thing in the morning!
Once I got out to the coop I realized that though Caeden thought we had lost two chickens we actually only lost one.  AND he hadn't been gathering eggs in days!  Like ever since the cold front hit, and we had 9 eggs in the coop, only one of which wasn't frozen solid and cracked open.  Because I just LOVE feeding chickens and paying for new ones when the neighbors dog eats them, I'm super thrilled to see that my son has not been collecting the eggs. 
Caeden lost his job for the next week or perhaps longer, I will be taking my chickens back, he will no longer be selling eggs when we have an abundance, and I'm not sure when he will ever (if he ever does) get this privilege back.  I honestly never wanted to let him sell the eggs for himself anyway, but my husband thought it was a great way for him to earn his own money and be proud of a job he had.  Well that isn't working out so well. 
The chicken that died this last time wasn't anyone's fault but my sons... which is hard to say since I'd like to take it easy on him, he's beating himself up enough.  However, he intentionally left the door unlatched because his fingers were too cold to latch it and instead of telling me this so I could take care of it (because lets be honest, it has been bitter cold and I totally would have helped him with that if he would have said he couldn't do it), he choose not to latch the bottom half (the more important half) of the coop door, and the neighbor's dog came over for a chicken dinner... We know, we all know, that the coop has to be constantly secured, and that it CANNOT be left any other way because we've lost enough chickens to that dog... but he left it open and we are down one chicken now.  That is natural consequences for you... so no big deal.. however when you combine that with the fact that we lost 8 eggs to freezing temperatures and for three days my son had told me that there were no eggs to be gathered it makes me one upset mama.  And that is why he is no longer caring for the chickens.
After my morning fiasco though we've managed to get the dishwasher loaded, the laundry going, and school nearly completed.. a late start means they are on 'lunch break' instead of being done at lunch time... but the process is still moving forward...
Next up, accomplishing all the tasks on the list and also grocery shopping... I've already prepared my list, so as soon as school work is completed and the house work is at least started, we'll be out the door... hopefully today will be as smooth as yesterday. 
If we make it through a whole week with the new task list, then I plan to share it with you, but for now you'll just have to trust that I'm testing it all out before I make a fool of myself and tell everyone how great it is and then fail miserably!
Have a Blessed New Year!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Years Resolution/I'm fed up!

Every year something happens in my household.  starting near the end of October (Micah's birthday/Halloween time) things begin to get a little crazy around here.  Our daily schedule begins to get off kilter, and slowly throughout the rest of the year it falls apart, only to be picked back up, dusted off and lovingly reinforced in January...
Nothing new this year... except that it started sliding off in August (Esmarie's Birthday) instead of October!  and I'm terrified that in years to come it will begin even earlier now that I've got a baby due in June... so if my year starts declining in June I'm in big trouble... this CANNOT happen!
I heard on the radio that in order to keep your New Years resolutions you need a specific plan.  Like say you want to lose weight (this is the example given on the radio) instead of saying "In 2018 I'm going to loose weight", you might say "I'm going to lose 20lbs by June 1st" and then you'll need to set mini goals, like "by April 1st I will have lost____" and "In order to attain these goals I'm going to eat salads for dinner 5 nights a week".... little attainable goals, with specifics attached to them.
This morning I looked at my home, under critical eyes, as I turned off all the lights before leaving for church.  With no thought about New Years Resolutions I analyzed each bedroom, the playroom, the living room, dinning room, kitchen, and bathrooms, and I came to the conclusion that God is blessing me FAR TOO MUCH.  I have this AMAZING dream home, and I'm FAILING miserably at keeping it looking like the blessing that it is.  I have 4 beautiful children living in this home that are 9, 7, 4, and 1 year old.  I feel like I do a pretty great job at the 1-2 year age range of teaching them the little things like 'take care of your shoes', 'throw away your diaper', and 'put your clothes in the basket'... but then something happens at the age where they start dressing themselves and the laundry basket is neglected, the diapers are gone, but the toilet training is AWFUL! (I know I'm not supposed to envy others, but seriously when you have a child who trains in less than a month and I'm still training mine 3 years in, it's pretty hard not to envy you).  And then they get older and until age 8 they are just stubborn and unmotivated, and I have to press hard to get things done, I have two in this stage right now... BUT if I do press hard I feel like at 8-9 years old (I have one there now) I have an amazing helper, and I'm looking forward to more of those!
Anyway, since Christmas our lives have been turned upside down, Patrick's work schedule is weird and he gets random days off, not the same ones every week, but different ones EVERY WEEK, there is a rhythm to it, but it is hard to follow.  So Christmas Eve I worked hard to get ready for Christmas, attended a party that evening tucked the kids in while demanding that Patrick vacuum the living room, and then went to bed after placing all the gifts under the tree.  Christmas morning I followed my normal tradition of making a giant all you can eat smorgasbord for breakfast, opened presents with the kids, attempted to control the mess of boxes and wrapping paper, took out the majority of said boxes and wrapping paper, made dinner, and then crashed after enjoying the meal.  I'd pretty much been serving my family from 5am-8pm, and I was beat.  The day after Christmas Patrick was working and I was exhausted so I pretty much took a break, and nothing got done, but I'd cleaned up a lot of things Christmas day so I wasn't too worried... what I didn't think about was the next two days.
Patrick works hard and when he has a day off the whole family takes their cues from him.. and that often means we leave sometime around lunch time and don't come home until dinner time.  Which in terms of housekeeping means that as soon as the kids have had a chance to make a mess we are gone, then we come back in time to either get them in bed or feed them dinner (if dinner then you can see the kitchen hasn't had time to be cleaned up, and is a general disaster area to work in).  So for two more days the house continued it's path of destruction.  If you are counting then you know I have only cleaned a little bit on one of the last 4 days.  Then comes Friday.  Patrick is sick, but he goes into work anyway and struggles through, while I dutifully try to recover a portion of the house that I know will last the longest, my bedroom, bathroom, closet area that have been neglected for awhile because of all the birthday parties and holidays that we've hosted this year.... so the rest of the house is STILL a MESS, and getting worse by the minute since I'm not able to keep the kids going on tasks out there and work on my bedroom at the same time.
Now we are on day 5 of minimal cleaning... and day six Patrick says he is feeling better but sounds pretty awful (sore throat from the day before is just making his voice sound cracked) and they send him home from work (for sounding bad, but not feeling bad).  And because both of his vehicles are dead and buried we use this unexpected blessing of time off to go car shopping.  We left at 10am, and got home around 6pm... I made dinner and then tried unsuccessfully to get warm after having been in and out of the car in 19 degree weather all day, and barely got anything done.  Then there is today... when I critically looked at my house and realized I'm WAY over my head right now.
I'm a planner so of course after hearing the advice on New Years resolutions on the radio I began planning.  HOW CAN  I MAKE NEXT YEAR DIFFERENT? 
First off, I'm getting a routine going.  It occurs to me that I CANNOT delegate and manage if 1. I'm doing all the work myself, and 2. I'm not standing over my children to make sure they do the work themselves.... so far it just hasn't worked with 3 out of 4 of my children... the 4th is the oldest so I'm holding onto hope that the others will catch up.
So you can expect very soon to see my new chore chart, and responsibility lists, but until then, here is what I've come up with.
1. I need a MOMMY CHORE CHART.  Yes the kids need charts, but if I have to actively manage them, I need to organize THEIR CHORES to fit MY SCHEDULE.   
2. Each Child will have jobs that they do EVERY DAY for a month, and then we will decide if they keep those jobs or get to switch to new ones. I've read the benefit of both things... and I just don't know which I like better, but I'm leaning toward proficiency and that seems to come from doing something over and over again.
3. There will be MORE on each child's list than ever before.  Not because I'm mean, but because while it is hard for me to train my children to do these things, I eventually would like to be able to just manage my household and not do it all myself.
4. We are going to have to work as a family, so in some ways that is going to mean that Daddy has to take responsibility for things too... although his main responsibility has been and always will be to provide for us financially and mine is, has been and always will be to take care of those provisions in a responsible way, the new portion Daddy will have to play is basically to help me enforce these changes on days he has off... or I won't be able to keep them up because of his constantly changing schedule.

Keep watching for how this goes!  I'm determined to make a plan and to see it through so that this project of CARING FOR OUR BLESSINGS is seen through to a satisfactory ending.
AND maybe even more can be done this way.. maybe!

*note, my children have always had chores, and I have a GREAT schedule for doing my own jobs... but it takes dedication to follow through, and until now the majority of the work has been on my own shoulders, I'm a bit unsure of how this will go, having the kids do my chores with me until they can manage them all themselves, but I'm hopeful that it will mean the work is seen more as family work than just what mommy needs 'help' with.