Please Join Me!

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Each weekday on Alpha Childbirth’s Facebook page, I am writing a devotional centered around a weekly word.  I want to devote my mothering to God.  If you do too, join me as we all become #DevotingMothers.

I promise to give you a thought, reflection or prayer that you can easily stick in your heart and mind as you go about your busy day.

If Facebook isn’t your thing, or you prefer to have the devotionals sent to your email, all you need to do is head over to Alpha Childbirth and subscribe at the bottom of the page to have devos sent directly to you each and every Friday morning.

 

Are You Heeding the Warning?

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In the book of Mark, Chapter 8, verses 14-21 Jesus is talking to his disciples while traveling and uses yeast to teach a valuable lesson. Jesus and crew have just left a crowd of people that Jesus had been teaching. He had done a repeat performance of miraculously feeding a large group of people with a few loaves and small fish, and is now back on a boat with just his disciples. Bread was on the minds of the men with Jesus, as they were now getting hungry themselves. At this moment, with stomachs rumbling, Jesus takes the moment to impart wisdom instead of nosh. He says to the disciples, in verse 15, “Watch out! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod.” The Message’s version of the passage adds in the word “contaminating” to describe the yeast of these groups of people.

In typical fashion, the disciples seem to ignore this warning from Jesus and instead, argue amongst themselves about who forgot to pack the bread. But let us not ignore the warning, mommas. What am I putting into my life and my mind that seems so small but has the power to grow and expand just like yeast? Am I allowing myself to be contaminated with the yeast of the world or am I feeding on the word of God and the presence of the Holy Spirit?

Read more at Alpha Childbirth

When God Interrupts

IMG_3261Last week I sat down to write my weekly blog post for Alpha Childbirth and I was highjacked. Right then and there at my laptop. I had my topic, my thoughts, my coffee. I was ready. And then God showed up. My nice and tidy post about how we teach nutrition was totally infiltrated by the Holy Spirit’s promptings. Thoughts were flying at me as I continued to type away my planned topic. I went ahead and posted on how we teach nutrition (what does that say about how thick headed I am?). But this past week God just wouldn’t let it go (I’m stubborn, but He’s off the grid on holding to His standards…).

So, this week, I’m going to share with you what God has been quietly and not so subtly reminding me.

Don’t take yourself too seriously. Take your complete reliance on God seriously.

I am not a self-made woman. I am not in control of my own life, let alone my children’s lives. As much as I can plan for the future, I can’t finalize the outcomes. Even when I do everything right (which is about never) life just may not go the way I want it to. Life is messy, unpredictable, hard and unstable much of the time. It will always be that way here on earth. It will be that way for me, for my children, for future generations.

As we say in the texting world…ugh.

But there’s this incredible hope that we can’t lose sight of. It makes the reality I just spit out at you much more palatable. It’s the second part of what God keeps telling me. God is self-made. He is in control of my life, as well as my children’s. He does finalize outcomes. God is right 100% of the time.

The crazy part of living in complete reliance on God is knowing that what He wants for me still may feel messy, unpredictable, hard and seemingly unstable. Maybe, because when I feel those things, I cling to Him and no other.

Realizing this for yourself is one thing, but it takes it to an entirely new level when thinking about your children. And this is where I want us to land, mommas. When we become pregnant and start dreaming of our children’s lives, we don’t even want to think about the times that may be difficult. We naturally want the best for our kids, right from the very start in utero. But the reality is, the best might not always be the best. I ultimately don’t want kids that grow up thinking everything is going to go perfectly all the time. I don’t want kids that think I can fix everything or that they themselves can make everything ok. I don’t want self reliant kids….I want God reliant kids.

When I wrote last week’s nutrition post what kept going through my mind was that I didn’t want to give readers the impression that if they just ate perfectly – I mean all lean protein and leafy greens with no hot fudge sundaes or Doritos – every aspect of their baby’s development and their own health was guaranteed to be successful. That’s just not the case. Yes, be responsible and try your very best! But don’t believe the lie that you can control all the variables and outcomes in your child’s life right from the start.

As I was mulling this over, my husband and I were walking through our incredibly safe and idyllic summer community talking about how wonderful it is for our children to have freedom to roam and play, and at that exact moment, a child on a bike came quickly rounding the hill and crashed into a car just starting to move after stopping at a stop sign. I literally saw this 7 or 8 year old bounce off of the car hood into the street. Thank God, he was safe and it was the bike that took the beating. But there was my reminder. A visual I still can’t get out of my head. I’m not in control of it all and I never will be.

The same week, I heard word that a family from my church lost their 20 year old son to a drug overdose. Then, I spoke to a dear friend who’s teen daughter was caught in a lie, years in the making, that is shattering her momma’s trust and straining relationships as well as plans for the future. These are good families with strong Christian faith. Moms and dads that love their children well, pray for their kids and live Godly lives. Reminders that parenthood is not for the faint at heart, and everyone one of us here on earth screws up, makes mistakes and needs Jesus as our savior.

Pastor Andy Stanley has a fabulous teaching series called Future Family in which he describes the tension we all have to live with; the tension between “the real and the ideal”. God sets the ideal standard of what our families are to look like and we should do our very best to live out that ideal. Right from the start as you are carrying your baby in utero, try to eat well, exercise, prepare for birth and pray for your baby. But know that none of us live up to the standards. We all fall short of God’s glory. “The real” looks more like only sneaking a Snickers bar twice a week, or yelling at your husband to fold his own darn underwear because you are sleep deprived caring for a six week old, or melting down alongside your toddler in the Target (all real life examples from my own life). “The real” may be more serious faults that we need to ask forgiveness for, fight against for years and experience loss over. But in all of it, if we rely on God and not on our own strength, we are where we are supposed to be.

Don’t take yourself too seriously. Take your complete reliance on God seriously.

God reminds us. For us and for our children.

How To Survive the Dreaded Days Following Your Due Date

due dateNo matter how many times I tell my childbirth students that their due date isn’t set in stone, the day brings much anticipation…and angst if baby decides not to show up. Here’s the reality – baby most likely won’t make his or her debut on THE DAY. I’ve seen data from several sources saying the likelihood of having your child on your actual due date is about 4-5%.

The due date is calculated by using the date of a woman’s first day of her last period, then adding 280 days, or 40 weeks. Since we all ovulate at slightly different times of the month this system is not failsafe. Often, women are also offered an early ultrasound in their first trimester and the due date may be changed based on the size of the developing baby.

Hearing this date coming from a very official medical professional in a white coat and authoritative voice leads us to put stock in this day on the calendar. Even if your care provider tells you that it is just an estimated date (and often they don’t stress that fact) we still tend to fixate. We tell the world THE DATE, it’s circled on our calendar (maybe even with stars and hearts around it), and plans are made around this one day.

And then THE DAY arrives. The entire 24 hours pass. And you are still pregnant.

Oh.

You knew it may happen. If you took my class you would have heard that baby doesn’t have a calendar in utero. You heard that a Harvard study of over 2,000 women carrying their first child gave birth on average at 41 weeks and one day – that’s 8 days past your due date (R. Mittendorf, et al., “The Length of Uncomplicated Human Gestation,” Obstetrics and Gynecology, volume 75, number 6, page 929, June 1990). You heard the analogy about the birth month – it’s normal and healthy to give birth anywhere between two weeks before or two weeks after your due date. You heard it all. But you believed none of it. Why? Because by the end of your pregnancy you felt HUGE, like baby could drop at any moment, there was no possible way you could go late based on how you feel!

But, nevertheless, it’s a day after your due date and you are still pregnant. Now what?

First off, please know that waiting for your baby to come in their own timing is the safest and best option for both you and your child. Unless there is a legitimate medical issue, inducing labor just because you are tired of being pregnant, your mother arrived in town to help you, or the clock on your maternity leave has started isn’t wise. For more information read all about induction at Childbirth Connection.

So, how do we survive these dreaded post-due date days? Make each day of waiting enjoyable! Each day give yourself a gift to help pass the time and lesson your stress. No, you won’t be 100% comfortable and relaxed, but you can give yourself something to truly look forward to each day that you wait for your little one’s arrival.

If you are reading this earlier in your pregnancy, select the ten ideas you like best and write each down on an index card or notecard. Tuck them away (make a note in your calendar where you tucked them away so you won’t forget!) so that if you reach the dreaded day after THE DAY with no baby in your arms, you can pull out your survival cards!

If you are at your due date or beyond, just pick an idea that appeals to you and do it today. Then select another idea for tomorrow.

Post Due Date Survival Ideas:

  1. Go for a walk with a favorite friend. Walking and staying upright is good for you physically and encourages labor. Walking with a favorite friend is good for you mentally and spiritually. Pick a few special people and schedule a walk with each of them over the next few days. If it’s bad weather, walk a mall or indoor track.
  2. Get a pedicure. Treat yourself and bring a friend along. The pampering will feel good and massaging the feet and ankles may help labor along.
  3. Go for a swim. The idea of a bathing suit is a laughable, but it’s worth it when you get in the water and buoyancy relieves all that pressure baby is putting on you. You don’t actually need to do laps, just standing in the water feels good. Take your husband or a friend, splash around and have fun!
  4. Take a long bath. I lived in the bath during my last weeks of pregnancy (my kids were 5 days and 9 days post due date). It was my favorite place to be! Make it special by having some music playing from your playlist, having a glass of sparkling juice in a real wine glass and a few pieces of good chocolate you can pop into your mouth as you sink into the warm water.
  5. Get a massage. A massage therapist that works with pregnant women can help relieve your discomforts and be a godsend! It’s a splurge for many, but makes a wonderful gift for your soul.
  6. Have a dance party. Invite a few friends over, have them each bring a snack, turn up the music and dance! The movement is great for you and the laughter will be the best medicine.
  7. Have a date with your husband. It will be awhile before just the two of you have the opportunity to relax together. Just connecting and spending time with each other can re-energize you. It’s not so important what you do on your date, but that you are together focused on each other. If you still have an appetite, go to a favorite restaurant or someplace you’ve wanted to try. Get carry out if the idea of sitting in a hard chair at a restaurant is unappealing.
  8. Watch a favorite movie. Pop some popcorn and throw in a movie that you can get lost in. It’s best to watch a movie from the comforts of your own home at this point if the theater seats will be uncomfortable for you. At home, lie on your side with pillows between your knees and have your husband give you a back or leg massage. Spend some time on your hands and knees doing pelvic tilts to relieve your back pressure, or sit on an exercise ball for greater comfort.
  9. Record yourself talking to your baby about the hopes and dreams you have for him. Think about all that you want for this child and record those precious thoughts to share with them when they are older. What a wonderful gift for you and your family to have for future years.
  10. Write a letter to your spouse reminding them how much they mean to you to give to them a few weeks after baby is born. The weeks after a baby is born is special but draining too. Reminding each other that you are on the same team can revive and enrich your relationship. And trust me, you won’t have time to be writing letters after the baby is born!
  11. Make some art. Get your creativity flowing. Even if this isn’t your thing normally, it’s fun to connect with your creativity. Invite a friend to go with you to a paint-and-sip or paint your own pottery shop. Make a birth banner if you haven’t already. My friend Nicole Nelson makes beautiful birth banners that you can purchase and then add some of your own art to it. This is a beautiful way to bring inspiration and focus to your upcoming birth. The best thing is after birth, the artwork can then be framed and put in the baby’s nursery or around your house.
  12. Spend some time in the kitchen making meals that you can freeze to have on hand after baby is born. Make it a party and invite a few friends over to cook with you. Make a double or triple batch and send home dinners for each family.
  13. Have a prayer circle. Invite your closest friends over and ask each to bring you a bible verse or write a prayer for you to mediate on over the next few days. Spend time in prayer together and share with them your struggles as you get through this time.
  14. Take an afternoon nap. Sleeping may be difficult at this stage but if you can relax and fit in an afternoon nap, do it!
  15. Spend time with God. This time of waiting and anticipation is holy. It feels like an inconvenience, but God is working. He has an exact time in mind for when you will meet your baby. Put your trust wholeheartedly into your God’s perfect timing and wait expectantly with the Lord. He can give you peace and comfort beyond understanding during these precious days and hours of waiting.

The Six Biggest Lies Expecting Parents Believe

Biggest Lies Expecting Parents Believe

I’ve been teaching childbirth education for almost 12 years and during most of my years teaching, my classes were consistently full. But the last few years, a disturbing trend has occurred – less people are taking comprehensive childbirth preparation classes. I’ve seen it in my own business, but I’m not alone. As I learned this past fall at the International Childbirth Educator’s Association annual conference, the rate of preparing for childbirth by enrolling in a preparation class is declining nationwide overall.

It doesn’t surprise me. As I interact with pregnant mommas and the men that love them, I repeatedly hear the same lies they’ve believed that contribute to why a solid class isn’t in their plan.

“I’m just too busy to take a class. I’ll prepare on my own when it fits in my schedule.”
We are a society that is over-scheduled, overcommitted and just plain exhausted from information overload. I feel it too. But, committing some time to prepare for birth is worth it. Scaling back other commitments as you prepare is wise. Why? The simple answer is that when you sign up to take a class and pay for it, you will show up. We have lots of good intentions to prepare on our own, but a vast majority of people don’t. We let other commitments get in the way of us reading a book on childbirth, or we are just too plain tired from working all day to come home and purposefully work on relaxation techniques. The TV goes on instead.

“My doctor will tell me everything I need to get ready for birth.”
According to the 2014 Medscape OB/GYN Compensation Survey, the majority of obstetricians spend between 9 and 16 minutes with a patient during an office visit. He or she doesn’t have the time to give you all you need to know to really be ready to experience childbirth and early parenting.
When you take a comprehensive class you not only get more information, but you spend hours with an instructor who will pass on her confidence in your body to you. Our culture tells us that birth is scary. Who’s seen a less-than-peaceful birth on TV or in the movies? Who’s had someone come up and give you their opinion about what you should do? “Just take the epidural – don’t be a martyr!” But a good instructor, is going to do just the opposite. She will provide the best evidence-based information about birth, teach you about the amazing things your body is capable of doing, and then she will let you, as a couple, make your best decisions.
As an instructor, my job is to empower a couple, to let them know that they can do this, and give them tools and questions to ask if the unexpected does come up. Your doctor has a different job to do – it is to care for you medically.

“I can find out what I need from Google, You Tube and blogs.”
With a class, you get the benefit of an instructor’s knowledge who knows your area’s birth environment and can help you maneuver through the local hospital system, as well as give you all you need to know to prepare in one place, each week. Information on-line is great as a supplement, but it’s not nearly as personal or thorough as one-on-one instruction.

“I’m getting the epidural so I don’t need a class.”
Not everyone wants a “natural” birth. A majority of people, in fact, plan to have medical pain relief. But a good class will provide valuable information – judgement free – for all women. The fact is, you don’t get an epidural the minute your contractions begin. You most likely will labor for several hours or more before medical pain relief is an option. A childbirth class will provide you with an arsenal of pain relieving techniques for you to use during those beginning hours of labor. And, there’s SO much more a good class covers outside of only pain relief!

“Having a baby won’t change our relationship as a couple.”
According to research by the Gottman Institute, 2/3 of couples report their relationship satisfaction dropped significantly after the first baby was born. 69% of new parents experience conflict, disappointment and hurt feelings with their partner in the months following the birth of a child. Having a baby changes your relationship.
So what’s a childbirth preparation class have to do with your relationship? A good childbirth education class should have a goal to bring you together as a couple, to allow you time to work together, to intentionally think about your life and goals for parenting, and to develop a strong bond.
Think about it – creating a baby is a highly intimate experience. Birthing a baby is just as intimate. Preparing for that intimacy takes time and effort. A class should help you develop relaxation skills that you can use together as a couple. This is typically the first time in a couple’s life that they will learn these skills.
Additionally, but not less important, a good instructor can serve as the “bad guy” or “enforcer” with your partner. There’s lots of things you may want your spouse to do or not to do in birth, but if you communicate it ALL to them, it may be felt as nagging or as you being bossy. But if it comes from an instructor, it softens the blow. And this goes for women as well as men!

“Having a baby won’t change me.”
Ask any parent and they’ll tell you the truth. You change when you become a parent.
When you join a class with other REAL people, you experience normalization. The concept of normalization is a fancy way for saying that you’ll come to class and meet others that are struggling with the same issues, have the same fears and dream the same dreams….and you’ll in turn realize that you are doing just fine.
Dr. Gottman explains it in his book And Baby Makes Three, as “we realize that we are all in the same soup.” Social media and our constant diet of online information causes us to come up with very unfair comparisons. We judge our insides to others’ outsides.
When you attend a multi-week class, you begin to realize, that you aren’t the only pregnant person having crazy amounts of gas or burping constantly. You’re not alone in feeling fear about passing an eight pound bowling ball out of your vagina. You’re not the only guy who feels inadequate to care for a baby, or can’t seem to say anything right to his wife.
In a good class, we can laugh together at our insecurities and talk through strategies to help – from communication with your partner, to tips on how to help with pregnancy discomforts.
And these people that you are now hanging with each week and have learned are just like you….they may just end up to be good friends and a support system along the way.
Over the years, I’ve had lots of my classes bond and then remain friends. Because there’s no one that will get how you are feeling at 3 am, besides another nursing momma or dog-tired dad feeling just the same thing!

The Birth of Something New

Welcome to my brand new site!  Boy, have I learned a lot these past few weeks about properly developing a website, using social media in marketing,  search engine optimization, how to develop an email list, what’s an infographic? and the list goes on and on.  Seriously, my brain is overloaded.  I’m waking up thinking about this stuff – in the middle of the night no less.

All along as I’ve celebrated my little successes and had pity-parties when I couldn’t quite figure it out I’ve had the eery feeling that this roller coaster ride is one I’ve been on before.  And then it hit me.  Yes.  I’m giving birth to something new all over again.

This new venture isn’t quite as cute and squishy as my two children were when starting out (now 10 and almost 12 years old!) but there are similarities.

When we birth a baby and start the amazing the adventure of parenthood IT’S A RIDE.  Not one we should take alone.  When pregnant, I advise a momma to gather her people; those in her life that will give her encouragement, support and love.  Those that will tell her she can do it – even through the morning sickness (that may be 24/7), the fatigue,  the ever-expanding waistline, and the continual doubt that she will be a good mom.  In my new adventure of taking This Momma Knows to the next level, I have gathered my people and they’ve been my own private cheerleaders even when I’m crazy talking (and yes, that includes my very patient husband).

I didn’t just need the cheerleading squad, but some experts (thanks Cas McCullough) who don’t love me, but know what they are doing in this field!  As we are preparing for birth, mommas need these experts too.  I’m always flabbergasted when I hear a momma tell me that she isn’t going to take a childbirth class or determine if her doctor or midwife shares her philosophy of birth.  She’s just going to “wing it” and see what happens.  I know what would have happened if I tried to do that with This Momma Knows.  I would be a big puddle on the floor right now with nothing to show for it!  Yes, expert advice takes time to seek out, and most likely costs some money, but IT’S WORTH IT.

It’s hard work to birth something new.  But it’s satisfying work.  Becoming a parent; birthing one of God’s precious children into this world; it’s the BEST work here on earth.  It’s work that requires devotion, care and tenacity for those times when you are sleep deprived, uncomfortable, dealing with throw up, not knowing what to do with a strong-willed toddler…the list goes on and on.  So, when I’m up at 3 a.m., I’ll think of all of you mommas doing the late night work of feeding and soothing and just loving the gifts that Jesus has given.  We are in it together.  I may not know you yet….but consider me one of your biggest fans.