Pregnancy and child care

Articles about pregnancy and child care

For those who enjoy birth stories, some food for thought :)

My friend Mary has a great well-written post on her blog -- a (hospital) birth story from her perspective as a doula. Joshua, who is accustomed to my childbirth ramblings, read the post as well. ;) I'm so grateful for a husband who not only puts up with the subjects that interest me, but jumps right in with me! :)

Freedom in education choices

I appreciated Jesse Paine's post about the California Court of Appeal's recent decision regarding home education. It's well worth your time to read it if you haven't already done so! Joshua and I both signed the HSLDA petition, as well.

Even if you haven't personally chosen to homeschool, it's vitally important that parents retain their rights to educate their own children! Personal convictions aside, home education is statistically a great choice for academic reasons.

As parents, we value our right to make decisions regarding raising and educating our children, and for us, that includes not heading off to a school building for 8 hours every day.

More ideas for children in the kitchen

I loved this article about ways to include our children in the kitchen. You all should know by now how exciting it is to me to be able to include my little ones in more and more of our day-to-day doings, and yes -- a lot of our day is spent in the kitchen! :)

I mentioned once that Eliyahu keeps taking Yehoshua's jobs. Here are some of Yehoshua's newer jobs:

Yehoshua refills my vitamin dispenser each week...

I use this weekly vitamin dispenser, so that I only have to open my vitamin bottles once a week and not daily. I have been having Yehoshua sort and fill the dispenser for me. Of course, I supervise him the entire time he does this, since I don't want him to eat any, or drop any on the floor for Eliyahu to find. :)

Tightening the handles on my cookware...

Another job that requires close supervision, but is oh-so-fun for a 3-year-old boy: using a screw driver to tighten the handles on my pans. That has always been a bothersome/neglected job in my kitchen, so it's quite handy to have a helper to do it for me! :)

The article I mentioned above gave me a few new ideas for Yehoshua. Ziplock bags, greasing pans, and washing dishes... those should be fun projects to learn! :)

Moms need hugs

Today started out rather emotionally for me, for no apparent reason (well, besides the fact that I'm a woman, I gave birth a few weeks ago, and I only got 4 hours of sleep last night!).

I explained it to Yehoshua.

"Moms need hugs. In fact, the more children they have, the more hugs they need. So you and Daddy and Eliyahu and Ruth all need to give Mommy lots of hugs, okay?"

Some hugs, an attitude adjustment, and a nice afternoon nap (in that order!) made the rest of our day much more pleasant. :)

The blessings of change...

Ruth Patience

There's something about having a new baby that inspires me to do a little re-focusing. I get to slow down for a few weeks (thanks to the help of many family members and friends... along with all the preparations I made beforehand!) and I get to do some extra thinking. I had some areas of my life that definitely needed to be simplified... a few things that have gone out the window all together... and some things that I just needed a nudge to be more efficient about!

Breastfeeding is, and has always been, such a great blessing to me... because I get to sit (or lay) down every couple of hours (or more often!) and just hold my baby and relax. Okay, so sometimes I'm also reading stories to my boys, or jumping up to get Eliyahu out of trouble, but still... breastfeeding makes me relax.

I am just loving being a mommy. Having a new baby reminded me again of how quickly each day passes... and what a blessing it is to enjoy each moment to the fullest. I love holding Ruth... the boys and I all fight over who gets to hold her all day. ;) And Yehoshua just melts my heart when he says to me, "Mom, Ruth is so beautiful."

So... we're feeling pretty blessed around here. And it's not so much that things in our life have changed, but that our Heavenly Father is changing us... showing us His blessings and causing us to see how good He is.

Meal-planning after birth, and other questions

Farmhouse chicken recipe

Yesterday's main meal was Farmhouse Chicken... a delicious casserole that I hadn't made recently. Several people have mentioned Farmhouse Chicken in the past few days, and it reminded me that I should make it again! :)

We managed to make the Farmhouse Chicken last for 2 meals. I'm planning to make it again next week, because we just really enjoyed it! :)

I used a boxed stuffing mix from the grocery store, and used some cubed chicken from my freezer. For the past 8-10 weeks before Ruth's birth, I had made a roasted chicken once a week (it's one of Joshua's favorite meals!) and froze the leftover meat in 1-2 cup portions.

Vicky asked how my meal-planning was going, since making my new menus and all that. Well, I am not very good at sticking to menus, really. I love to make something spur-of-the-moment because it's what we feel like eating that day! I guess that's why I tend to keep my pantry/fridge/freezer stocked with ingredients to make most of our favorite foods at any time. :)

But, the menus have been a blessing because there have been days when I couldn't think of anything that sounded good... so I just picked something from my "easy menu" and made it... like the macaroni and cheese. :)

What has helped me the most has been all the goodies in my freezer! The pre-cooked chicken, meatballs, taco meat, pepperoni (because we love pizza!) and all the baked goods for Joshua's lunch... we have been enjoying the fruits of my labors over the past 2 months. :) The baked goods (cookies, banana bread, etc.) are dwindling, so I'll be back to doing some baking again in the next few days. I've also taken some "short cuts"... like making frozen garlic bread (something I didn't get made and frozen myself before Ruth arrived) or using boxed stuffing.

Another commenter asked how soon is too soon to start filling her freezer in anticipation for her new baby. :) Well, I think that depends on what you're making, and how it's packaged. I have had vacuum-sealed meatballs (cooked), taco meat, cubed chicken, etc. in my freezer for over a year with it still tasting GREAT. But, if your packaging wasn't air-tight, I would guess it would get freezer burn by that time.

Perhaps it might work better to start making menu plans now, and save the food-prep for the last couple of months before the birth. I started filling my freezer in late-November... I did meat items first, and then baked goods. I didn't do any ready-made casseroles, since I have a small freezer -- I just prepared the meat (etc.) so I could quickly assemble the casserole later. :)

And yet another reader asked if my boys get rowdy and wild... like boys do. ;) I know the picture of them so sweetly helping me make bread kinda makes it look like they are calm, peaceful little guys. ;) Well, they certainly have lots of wild, loud moments days where they run around the house, jump off the couch, and pull all my laundry off the clothes rack.

BUT, we do work on having quieter times, and one of those times is when they are helping me in the kitchen. In order to help cook, they have to at least try to be careful about spills, and follow instructions. My dishes-helper isn't allowed to spill water on the floor (if they accidentally do, they have to wipe it up themselves). :)

Mommy stuff... ramblings about our first week with Ruth :)

Ruth Patience... one week old

Ruth Patience is almost ten days old now. We are enjoying her so much! Yehoshua and Eliyahu love her lots, and haven't displayed even the tiniest bit of jealousy... even though our life has (obviously!) changed a lot with a newborn in the house. :)

Ruth is just soooo sweet and I am treasuring every moment we have with her! She is a sweet little thing, and not fussy -- though with constant attention, nursing, and holding, I'm not surprised. :) Things have gone very well since her birth... she's nursing lots, and is sleeping more at night. The first couple of nights, she was awake most of the night, but took lots of naps during the day, so I'm glad we got that switched around! ;)

Someone had asked if we were co-sleeping, or if Ruth had her own bed. I do have a crib for her to take daytime naps in (the crib keeps her safe from rowdy brothers!). But, we are co-sleeping for night time and afternoon nap time (when Eliyahu naps too). I've found that the baby and I both get the most sleep along with the most nursing time by co-sleeping. I also haven't had to try to train my babies to "sleep through the night" because I get enough sleep, even though they're nursing numerous times during the night. For both of my older children, we transitioned them to their own beds when they were ~12 months old or so. I don't have any set rules on this stuff, though... we just do what works best for our family. :)

Another person had asked if I have always had such short labors (my labor with Ruth was about 85 minutes long). With my first baby, my water broke and labor began a few hours later. I had about 7 hours of active labor (including 1.5 hours of pushing!) before he was born. My second labor was much faster -- about 2 hours of active labor -- but those 2 hours were definitely much more intense than the 7-hour labor. This third labor, with Ruth, was easier than either of the other two labors. I did drink a LOT of pregnancy tea this time (about a quart a day for the last 10 weeks), though of course it's impossible to say whether that really made labor so manageable. :)

Baby Ruth... one week old

My post about cooking the other day seemed to surprise some of you, so I thought I'd elaborate a little bit about how I manage to get so much done and all that. Since, you know, I just run around accomplishing one thing after another all day. Wink

Okay, seriously? When I had my first baby, I learned a whole lot about the transition time when a newborn enters the world. Only I learned it the "hard" way... by not preparing much in advance, and then ending up in tears over the fact that all I had done all day (besides nurse, change diapers, and hold a fussy baby) was make scrambled eggs for dinner.

So with my second baby, I did everything I could think of during my pregnancy so that I could take a real "break" from most things and just enjoy having a new little baby... who would take up my entire day (and night). :) And, life did go a whole lot more smoothly. I learned to take things really slow at first... and I had lots of time to enjoy my newborn!

I was able to get a lot done before Ruth's birth, thanks to the energy I was blessed with during the last 8 weeks or so of pregnancy. My freezer was stocked with things to send in Joshua's lunches (cookies, banana bread, etc.) as well as pre-cooked taco meat, beef, meatballs, and chicken. I have menus already made out, thank you cards already made, and I had pretty much cleaned the whole house, too. (Yes, I was getting antsy, and had so much energy, I needed to do lots of projects!)

So, all that to say that I really am taking things easy these days. We're using paper plates and bowls, so I don't have many dishes to wash. We've eaten cold cereal every morning. We've had several meals brought to us from friends/family. My mom has come over several times to help me, and yesterday she took both boys grocery shopping with her while I stayed home with Ruth! Oh, and she picked up some groceries for us, too! Joshua has been loading the washer for me... he also give both boys showers, so I don't have to give baths to them. And, we're using disposable diapers for a couple weeks while I'm resting/recovering. :)

So, yes... I'm really spoiled. And the other day, when I made two loaves of bread, would you believe I was actually feeling just a little tired of NOT cooking?! I guess when you're used to baking yummy foods, leftovers get a little old. ;)

Also, I have felt much better after Ruth's birth than I did after Eliyahu, and I remember after I had Eliyahu, thinking that I felt much better than I had felt after Yehoshua was born. I'm still resting a lot, but physically, I really do feel great!

I don't have any outside commitments right now, and aside from blogging, my only focus right now is on my family. :) I haven't been out of the house since Ruth was born... which is perfect in my opinion, since the weather has been cold and snowy/icy. That's another great perk of home birth midwifery care... our midwife came to our house when it was 10 degrees outside. ;)

Well, I've probably rambled long enough... everyone is asleep and the house is quiet... I should tuck little Ruth in beside me and get some sleep myself. :)

Birth story of Ruth Patience

Ruth Patience (2 days old)

I wrote Ruth's birth story today, and thought I'd share it here for those interested! It's not too graphic, but it is about birth, so... :) I love reading others' birth stories -- birth is such an amazing miracle! :)

We're doing well. I am trying to rest amid the craziness that comes from having 2- and 3-yr-old boys plus a newborn. ;) We've had plenty of help from my mom and sisters, which has been a huge blessing. And dinner this evening was provided by some friends of ours... another great blessing. :)

Ruth is a sweetheart and I'm loving having a little nursling again, since Eliyahu weaned a number of months ago. :) Her hair is so long -- at least an inch long all over her head! Pretty neat that our little girl already has hair that's substantially longer than her brothers'. ;)

So, I'll stop rambling and get on to the birth story. :)

Ruth Patience was born at home on January 23, 2008. We were blessed with a quiet, relaxing birth, and we're so thankful to our Heavenly Father for His generosity and goodness to us!!

My pregnancy with Ruth started out slightly differently than my first two pregnancies: we didn't have a set due date. Since I was still nursing Eliyahu (16 months) and hadn't been paying enough attention to my body, we weren't sure how long I had been pregnant when we found out. :) However, we had learned from past experiences that due dates are just rough estimates (my first pregnancy lasted 42+ weeks, and my second, 44 weeks) and Joshua and I both felt that our best course was to just be observant and listen to my body, knowing that unless there were signs of complications, my pregnancy would start and end in Yahweh's perfect timing! :)

A few days before Ruth was born, I noticed that I was leaking small amounts of amniotic fluid. I didn't allow myself to get too excited, since I know that small leaks can occur weeks before delivery. :) I was still feeling pretty good, and having fun coming up with things to do to keep me busy until the baby was born. I felt pretty big, but, I also didn't feel as though the baby was growing too large. And what 9-months-pregnant woman doesn't feel a little huge?! :)

I didn't get much sleep the night before Ruth was born, but that was my fault. I did my usual evening chores, and stayed up blogging about making strawberry shortcake. When I did go to bed, it took me close to an hour to fall asleep. I'm not sure why -- I must not have been tired enough! Eliyahu (24 months) woke me up a couple times needing a diaper change and needing covered, and then Yehoshua (3.5 yrs.) woke up with his usual middle-of-the-night crying/bathroom trip. I had gotten a couple hours' sleep at this point, and when I laid back down after taking care of Yehoshua, I couldn't get back to sleep. It was 4am, and I didn't know that I was in labor yet. I was laying there, unable to relax and fall asleep, but also not in any real discomfort... at least, nothing I could pinpoint.

I had a few contractions from about 4-4:30am, but I wasn't sure they were contractions because I was having trouble distinguishing when they began and ended, and they were more like a wave of nausea than a wave of pain. I thought, "I hope I'm not going into labor. I'm way too tired. This can't be labor. I'm not having a baby until this weekend at least."

At 4:30, I decided I was tired of trying to go to sleep. I got up and checked my email and put away a few dishes. After about 5 minutes of being up, I realized that I was having real contractions. I started timing them using the online contraction timer (which is so easy to use -- I would never have bothered timing them otherwise) and they were every 2-3 minutes, and about a minute long.

During the fourth contraction, I decided I should call the midwife and let her know I was starting labor. I dialed our phone card number, but before I could dial her phone number, the contraction ended and I felt just fine. I hung up the phone, thinking "Okay, that was silly -- I've only had 4 contractions. This could be a false alarm... I'll call her after a bit."

The next contraction started, and I started feeling a little... well, helpless, I guess. I grabbed the phone and dialed again, and when our midwife answered, I told her that I was pretty sure I was in labor. She asked how I was feeling and I said, "Well, I feel just fine, unless I'm having a contraction." I told her I was going to go ahead and call Joshua at work, since he had a 30-minute drive to get home.

I dialed the number for Joshua's work, and I confess I did feel a little silly telling the guy who answered, "Umm, I need to talk to my husband. It's an emergency; I'm in labor." They located Joshua quickly, and within a few minutes I heard Joshua's voice on the phone (this was the first time I had ever called him at work!) and I told him I was doing fine, but labor had started. He said he'd come right home.

I continued doing little things in the kitchen to distract myself in between contractions. I couldn't do anything during contractions, besides pacing the floor (which didn't give any real relief, but helped me feel less frantic!). Eliyahu was sleeping in his bedroom, and Yehoshua was asleep on his "trundle bed" in the living room. I looked at Yehoshua with envy... wouldn't it be nice to be sleeping instead of laboring! ;)

By the time Joshua got out of work and drove home, it was about 5:20am. I was still fairly calm, and assurred him that he should go ahead and take a shower. While Joshua was showering, I had some really intense contractions.

When Joshua got out of the shower, I told him I wanted him to call my mom, who lives 15 minutes away. I wasn't able to call her myself at that point, or I would have called during his shower. I wasn't expecting or hoping to have an extremely fast labor this time, so I had prepared myself to expect more "warning" and to not look at the clock, hoping for a fast delivery. I still expected labor to last at least another hour.

I got hot (even though it was only 66 degrees in our house) and Joshua helped me take off the sweatpants I was wearing. Joshua clipped his fingernails really short, and I can't remember what else. Then, I hugged him through a contraction, holding onto him for support. He started quietly praying for me but even his calm voice was too much for me to handle, and I asked him to please not talk...

It was about 5:40 by then... within the next couple of contractions, I started feeling a little "pushy", but told myself I was imagining things, since I couldn't possibly be that far along. A couple of contractions after that, I could literally feel the baby descending and I knew that I was going to be pushing soon. I told Joshua that the baby was coming soon, and I pointed to the chux pads that were with our birth supplies. Before the next contraction, I grabbed a plastic-backed sheet and put it on the couch, and we put down a couple of big chux pads.

With the next contraction, I grabbed onto Joshua and pushed with the urge. We heard a "splat" as my water broke, onto the chux we had just put down. I looked down at the wet pad and said, "It's clear. Good." Joshua helped me take off my wet underwear before the next contraction came, and I started pushing again. I could feel a head very low; I wanted to tell Joshua to be ready to catch the baby, but I couldn't communicate very well. Joshua put his hand down under me, and I said "Good." He must have been reading my mind! ;) (I also wanted a drink of water, but there was no one to ask, since Joshua was supporting me while I pushed.)

With the third pushing contraction, the baby's head came. It was soft, and covered with wet, soft hair. I reached down to feel the head (I was squatting, holding onto Joshua for support). I couldn't believe that the head was already out! I had tried to push slowly and "gently" because I didn't want to tear (although I didn't tear, even though the baby came out very quickly!).

And with the fourth contraction, the shoulders and the rest of the baby came. Joshua let go of me to catch the baby, and after she was out, I sat down on the couch behind me. Joshua handed her to me, and I held her on my tummy while he quickly grabbed a few towels to cover her. Joshua remembered to look at the clock, and she was born at 5:55am. She was blue, which we knew was normal, and had good muscle tone. She started to breathe shortly, but was having trouble and was a little gurgly, so Joshua used the bulb syringe gently on her nose a couple times and then we called our midwife's cell phone, and she said to rub the baby's back, as well. Our midwife said she wasn't too far from our house by then, and Ruth was breathing fine, so we hung up the phone.

Joshua asked me, "Did you look to see if we have a boy or a girl?" and I said, "Not yet... but it looks like a girl because the hair is so long!" ;) We looked, and it was a girl.

Eliyahu had been awake in his crib for a little bit (I guess Joshua said Eliyahu was saying "Dada! Mama! Dada!" in a pleasant voice from his crib during the last few minutes of the birth, but I totally tuned it out!) and Joshua went and brought him out into the living room to introduce him to Ruth. Eliyahu pointed to her wet and matted hair, saying "Ewww! Icky!" and then Eliyahu woke up Yehoshua, who was surprised to see a new baby in the living room! :)

The midwife and her assistant arrived, and my mom came shortly afterwards. She was surprised that the baby was already born, since we had called her only about 25-30 minutes before, and hadn't indicated that there was any big hurry. ;)

The placenta came after about 45 minutes (which was much sooner than my last two, thankfully!) and then Joshua clamped and cut the cord.

I took a nice herb bath, and we weighed Ruth -- 8 lbs 5 oz -- and not too long later, our midwife got a call from another laboring mom, so she finished up the paperwork/medical notes and they headed out. My mom stayed for quite a while to feed the boys and help out before taking them to her house for the afternoon (during which time I actually got a nap!).

I'm so thankful to our Heavenly Father for the beautiful, peaceful birth He gave us! It wasn't what we had planned for ourselves, but it was what He had in store for us, and it couldn't have been better. :) And now we're all enjoying our third little blessing, Ruth Patience. :)

Birth Day Cake

Whole wheat strawberry shortcake

Yesterday evening, Yehoshua and I made a birth day cake for when the new baby is born! (For more pictures of this cake, check out the recipe link!)

I looked through my file of cake recipes, trying to decide which one to make, when I came across one of my favorite cakes: Deluxe Whole Wheat Strawberry Shortcake. Normally this is more of a summer time dessert, when we have fresh strawberries on hand. But last week at Aldi's, I got 4 pints of whipping cream (reduced to half price, since Aldi only carries whipping cream around the holidays). I figured all that whipping cream was a good excuse to have strawberry shortcake... right? :)

Yehoshua helped make the cakes...

Yehoshua helped me make the cakes. We made a double batch, since I knew we would want to eat some now, as well as freezing one of the cakes (without cream or strawberries, of course). The cake is simple to make, but does require some mixing. Yehoshua does great at holding the mixer these days, so he got to use my electric mixer while I added ingredients and did everything else! :)

Preparing for baby: Making homemade thank you cards

Some simple homemade cards...

One of the projects on my "preparing for baby" list was to make some homemade thank you cards to have on hand. As I've mentioned before, I love making and sending homemade cards. They're fun to make, and (of course) a whole lot cheaper than purchasing thank you cards at the store. Since after having a new baby, I'll probably barely have time to write thank yous (much less make them, too!), I wanted to have some already made.

The cards in the photo above are all unique, and were made using picture cut-outs (from cards or papers I would have thrown away otherwise), some stickers which were a gift to me, various paper I had on hand, and a few stamps. I had fun finding cute ways to use the pictures I had saved for card-making. :)

I also made a number of cards like this one (instructions) because they're easy and cute. :)

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