NatureAmy

caring for creation while caring for family

Month: March 2017

Four baby gifts that every mom REALLY needs – but is afraid to ask for…

We’ve all seen the articles on the MUST HAVE items for baby.  They are full of things like strollers, the best car seat, infant swings, even baby food.  However, ask any mom what the must have items are for her and you’ll get different answers.

We are all different and our babies are all different, so it’s impossible to make a MUST HAVE registry list that is very useful.

However, there are certain gifts that a mom (first time or veteran moms alike) REALLY want, but she won’t ask for.

Why not? If she really wants these things, with all the registries available today, why does she not ask for them?

Because Miss Manners told her not to…

Okay, well it’s not really Miss Manners’ fault, but there are certain things that are easy to ask for – a new diaper bag, for example, but what she really wants, or even what she really needs, is not so easy…

Having just had my fourth baby, there is very, very little that I need for a baby.  I’ve been asked by numerous people what I need, and the honest answer is.

“Nothing, really…”

However, I say that – we all say that – because what we really would like, we can’t ask for…

And, no, it’s not a good night’s sleep or even a shower, although God knows we could really use those things.  Those things are great, and we want them, but most people don’t have the power to get them for us…

So, on behalf of all new or veteran mothers out there, let me just tell you what we would love.


Bring a Meal

My Taco Chili Recipe is my go-to meal to bring to families

My Taco Chili Recipe is my go-to meal to bring to families

It may be cliche to bring a family a meal at the birth of a new baby.  It may seem too cheap or trite, but it isn’t.  It is a wonderful gift!

However, if you ask a family to tell you when or if they want a meal, they never will.  It just seems rude to a new mom to ask you to bring something on a certain date.  Instead, offer to bring them a meal and then ask about a specific date, or two or three, that would be good.  Be specific, otherwise the mom will just think you’re being polite, but don’t really intend to bring a meal.

I know many people are intimidated by bringing their own home cooked food to another’s house, so as much as they know it would be appreciated, it makes them uncomfortable.  But although home cooked meals are wonderful, it is not necessary.

Order a pizza, pick up take out, or even a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store.  It is simple, but it really is appreciated.

And if distance is a problem, you can even look up a local place and have them deliver to the family even though you don’t live nearby.

If a mom doesn’t have a “food-train” lined up, offer to start one for her.  Using a free website, like TakeThemAMeal.com, is simple, quick, and easy!  Again, it isn’t proper for a new parent to set up their own food-train, so even though they would love one, they won’t do it themselves…

House Cleaning

broomThis is another gift that moms will likely never admit to wanting, but we all want it.  Well, most of us – we all know that one mom who really does always have a perfect house!  I don’t know how she does it!

I know it is a little awkward, especially since we all feel this need to pretend we are perfect – thank you, social media!  However, when a friend not only offers to come over and help, but also sees through our not so honest claims that “it’s all good.  It’s all under control…” and comes over anyway.  And then proceeds to do the dishes, vacuum, or even clean the bathroom!  That is a true friend!

Of course, if you can afford it, another way to give this gift is through the services of a professional house cleaner.  Several hours of house cleaning by a professional is an amazing baby gift.  Can I hear an “Amen” on that one?

My friend, Laura, gifted me several hours of house cleaning as a gift for our newest addition.  She co-owns a professional housekeeping service, Dynamic Duo Housekeeping, and wanted to bless our family.  Not only was my poor neglected house clean again, but I felt so loved and pampered by her generous gesture. (I highly recommend her service, so if you are looking for a housekeeper in the Yuba/Sutter Area, you can message me on my Facebook page for more details.)

Cash

Oooh, did I just ask for cash?  That is so taboo…

I was taught never to ask for cash, it just isn’t done.  However, if you really want to bless a mom, especially a mom who doesn’t really “need anything”, cash or check is the way to go.

Now, in a pinch, gift cards are great, too.  A gift card to someplace like Target, Walmart, or Costco, are very helpful.  However. they really do limit what a mom can buy.

For instance, say a mom really wants a certain stroller, but it is too pricey to ask for from any one person.  And she got a bunch of gift cards, but they are for many different places, and those places don’t sell the stroller she really thinks would be best for their family.  However, if she is given several checks, she can then buy the stroller, the item she really wanted and needed, at the best location and price.  She could even buy it used if she wanted to – a really great way to get a deal!

Babysitting

babysittterFree babysitting – are there any sweeter words?  The gift of babysitting, either by you or in the form of money to pay for a babysitter, is another amazing gift for any parent, especially if there is more than one child!

Babysitting is the chance for the parent(s) to recharge, do a little self care, or reconnect on date night.

This doesn’t have to be anything grand.  I have friends who will take my bigger kids for a couple hours for a play date and allow me to get some alone time during nap time – what a blessing!

It could be a a chance for a date night or just a chance to wander around Target aimlessly for a couple hours.  Or maybe it’s a chance for the shower or nap that there never is time for. Whatever the case, it is a gift that most of us aren’t comfortable asking for, but we so desperately need!


As moms, and dads, we have a tendency to burn the candle at both ends.  We try to do it all – we try to do it alone – when we really should be asking for help.

As friends and family of someone with a new baby, it is our job to step into that place of uncertainty.  It is our job to stand in the gap for our loved ones and be the help they need, but are too afraid to ask for.

They say no man is an island.  They say that it takes a village to raise a child.  However, if the village does not offer, it won’t happen.  And if the offer is not specific, it won’t happen.  

Let’s make it happen.


Is there anything that you would add to the list above?

I’d love to hear what you think,

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My Fourth Birth Story: Our Accidental Unassisted Home Birth (Part 2)

If you missed my previous post on the details leading up to labor, be sure to read up here.  This is the rest of the story…

It was 5 AM and I lay in bed, realizing that I was having consistent contractions that were starting to hurt.  They were not too long, yet, but they were low in the front of my abdomen and felt like painful menstrual cramps.  And they came every few minutes.

“Hmmm…” I thought to myself. “This feels real – like I’m going to have this baby today…” and I started to think of all I had planned for the day and how much I could get done before I got to intense labor…  I continued to think about that until 5:45, when I finally got up to go the the bathroom and realized that my underwear and pants were a little too wet.

Had my water broke?  Nothing was actively leaking, but unless I peed my pants without realizing it, my water seemed to be broken.  I also had bloody show.  So… I got up, got dressed, and proceeded to make some breakfast before my husband, Mike, left for work.

Things were rapidly getting stronger and I had to dance around and sing through my contractions that were coming in waves with less than a minute off between them.  But I had always taken so long in labor with my others, that I really didn’t think that baby would come too soon.  Still, at 6:30 am I called one of my home birth midwives, Cindy, to let her know I was in active labor.

“Should I come now?  Or should I wait?” she wanted to know, but I was indecisive.  I kept thinking of the hours I spent in active labor with my others, so she decided that I should lay down for a bit and see how things were in 30 or 45 minutes.

I did know that my husband should NOT leave for work, though, so I told him he had to stay home.  He believed me (unlike my 3rd labor – LOL – read that story here) and started to send out emails to his students and colleagues letting them know he would not be coming in that day.

I decided that a bath would be relaxing, so I ran a hot bath.  The night before I had turned the water heater to high so that we could practice filling up the birth tub the next day.  But still thinking I was hours away from birth, I only got into the regular bathtub.  My contractions were so low down in my abdomen still that the hot water covered the most painful part and felt very good.

I knew 30 minutes had passed when my kids got up at 7 am, like clockwork.  I let them know that they were going to have a baby that day.  My oldest, Clayton was nervous about it. My second, Micah, was super excited and started dancing around the house.  Our youngest, Addamay, really didn’t know what to expect…

At that point, I felt like the intensity of labor was ramping up even more.  I knew the midwives needed to be on their way. It was 7:10 am when I called Cindy back and told her to come.  She had gotten ready and was waiting to hear back from me.

“Okay,” she said. “I’m on my way.”  No questions asked, which was nice, because I couldn’t talk much at that point.

I called my mom next, only to discover that she was snowed in (she lives over the mountain from us).  She wouldn’t be able to come for hours until the roads were open.

My brain raced with all the things I was planning to do that day, and what I wanted to do before the baby arrived.  Should I call a friend to come get the kids?  Should I call my photographer friend who wanted to take pictures?  Should I call the kids school to let them know they would be missing their home school classes that morning?

All of these things flew through my head, along with everything we still needed to prep before the baby arrived, but they all flew out of my head quickly.  I was way past the point of calling people and arranging anything at that point!

I curled up in a ball on the floor, letting the contractions roll over me, one after another , after another.  I could barely catch my breath before the next one hit.  I pictured ocean waves and boogie-boarding at the ocean (the closest I’ve ever come to surfing).  The water crashing over me and the pull of it down, and the slight panic of wondering if you will ever make it to the surface again before resurfacing, and the water rushing back out again.  I remembered Ina May Gaskin, the famous midwife’s,  description of rushes and waves for contractions and focused on riding each one out.

I know that my husband knew that baby was coming today, but like me, he had a hard time believing it would come quickly.  These things take time… but apparently NOT fourth babies… When he saw me in fetal position on the floor of our room, he knew we were getting really close.  I had to be in transition and he recognized the signs.  Mike was rushing around trying to get things ready for baby’s eminent arrival.

I was giving him the instructions of how to cover the bed with a sheet, a plastic shower curtain, and another clean sheet.  He made sure our oldest was getting breakfast for his siblings and they were all watching Netflix in the living room.

Next he hooked up the hose to the hot water spigot behind our washer machine and started to fill up the birthing tub.  It holds 150 gallons of water and we were told that we would likely have to fill it up with one hot water heater’s worth of water, then wait as the heater filled up again before adding more water.  Thankfully we have a pretty big hot water heater.  After 1 tanks worth of very hot water, and then letting the cold water continue to fill up the tub so it was not too hot, the tub was about 2/3 full.

At about 7:45, I moved from the floor to the bathroom and labored on the toilet briefly until the tub was ready.  At this point, the contractions were not any more intense than they had been on the floor, but I wasn’t sure how much more I could take.  Wave after intense wave hit me with barely a chance to breathe before the next one.

“Please God,” I remember praying desperately.  “Please let this baby come soon.”  I didn’t realize how quickly He would answer that prayer!

“It’s ready,” Mike said from where the tub was outside the bathroom door.

Taking advantage of a quick break between contractions, I got in the tub, stripping down to just my bra.

Oh, wow, that water felt amazing.  The heat brought instant relief.  It also brought the longest break between contractions that I’d had in over an hour. This longer break often occurs when labor switches from the end of transition (fully dilated at 10 cm) to the pushing stage.  When the next contraction hit, not only did I feel like I finally had a chance to catch my breath, but I also I felt the urge to push.

At this point it was almost 8 am.  I knew the midwives would be here very, very soon.  I also knew that I had never pushed for less than 20 minutes.  It seemed safe to just go with the flow and start pushing.  Surely the midwives would arrive before baby made it out!

So I pushed once. It felt so good, but I figured I should tell my husband, who was right there with me, that I was pushing.

“Are you at 10?  Should I check you?”  Not that he knows what 10 cm feels like or what he should be feeling for, but he put his hand down to see if he could feel anything.

“Uh, Amy,” he said, kind of in shock. “That’s a head.”

I knew that was the head, but it wasn’t crowning yet.  It could still take some time.

However, with the next push I could feel the baby move down, start to crown, and as I put my hand down, the head popped out.  My husband’s hand was right there with me.

“The head’s out,” he said, sounding apprehensive.  “Push the rest out.”

So I pushed and he lifted the baby out of the water and onto my chest.  The baby gave a quick cry – Thank you, God – but then stopped.

“The cords around the neck,” my husband noticed before I did and quickly unwrapped the cord and the baby cried again.  The crisis averted, I took that time to move the cord from between the legs to see-

“It’s a girl!” I cried, absolutely overcome with joy.  We wanted another girl – a sister for Addamay.  As if on cue, Addamay came into the room.  She had heard the baby cry and came in to see what was going on.

Our baby, Bethany, was slightly purple, but started to turn red.  She was still very quiet and Mike was concerned she couldn’t breath.  Neither of us was sure what to do next, but I knew that since she had cried, she must be breathing.  But why wasn’t she making any more noise?

At this point, only about 1 minute after Bethany’s arrival, Cindy, the first of the midwives to arrive, entered the room.  The look on her face was priceless.  She expected to see us laboring in the tub, but instead saw me with a newborn in my arms.

“Oh!” she said, surprised.

“She’s here…” I said.

“She?” Cindy asked.

“Yep, it’s a girl.”

Cindy came to the tub and checked her out.  Everything was perfect and she was breathing fine.

The boys were still in the other room, mesmerized by a show on Netflix, so we called them in.

“Come meet your baby sister” Mike said.

“A sister?”

“Yes. This is,… Bethany?”  I looked over at Mike to make sure he had not changed his mind.  He nodded.

“This is Bethany.”

And it was perfect.  We were surrounded by our three older children, gazing at this perfect baby girl in my arms.  Covered in vernix and still attached to her thick long umbilical cord.  Her little eyes squeezed tightly shut.  She was tiny, but chubby.  She was everything we ever dreamed…  She was our rainbow baby, born right there in our bedroom.

I stayed in the tub to deliver the placenta.  I kept thinking that I wanted to keep all the mess confined to the tub.  That worked perfectly.  Afterwards, we moved to the bed – my soft and cozy bed!  That was amazing!

babysis

Bonding with Bethany

No hospital gowns, no IVs, no needles.  No constantly monitoring the baby or being poked and prodded.  No strange nurses coming in and out at all hours.

Our midwives were there, but by then they were like family.  They busied themselves cleaning up and doing everything that they needed to do.  Our family was able to cuddle on the bed and bond with sweet Bethany. I am convinced that home birth is exactly the way to go and I am so glad we decided to switch in the last trimester.

Because of her very fast arrival, and the fact that it was only my husband and I, we did not get any pictures of the birth, or even soon afterward.  We did take some pictures when the midwives were there, but due to a faulty SD card, those did not make it.  These pictures taken 1 or 2 hours after her arrival are the youngest we have, but they will have to do!

All four kids enjoying getting to know one another!

All four kids enjoying getting to know one another!

I am beyond thankful for our little girl and her fast and safe entrance into the world.  From the first contraction at 5 am to her entrance at 8 am, she beat her siblings records by well over 13 hours!  Two of those hours were painful, but only 45 minutes were what I would call intense.  I am so very thankful we were home and NOT on the road to the hospital!

Big sister Addamay is already smitten. In typical 2-year-old fashion, she has claimed the baby as hers and does not want to share...

Big sister Addamay is already smitten. In typical 2-year-old fashion, she has claimed the baby as hers and does not want to share…

She has already become a wonderful addition to our family and we could not imagine life without her!

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Leading up to my Fourth Birth Story… (or Part 1)

I know that you’ve been waiting to hear the full story of baby Bethany’s fast entrance into the world, but the story, it turns out, is not so fast.  So, I’m writing it in two parts.  The days leading up to labor starting and then, of course, the birth itself.  So, here goes…

I’ve never had fast labors.  At 48 hours, 22 hours, and 16 hours, none of my labors could count as short, although the 16 hour labor felt like a breeze compared to the others!  I really don’t mind longer labors, as long as the super intense part (transition) is not too long.  It gives me time to mentally prepare myself for the arrival of our little one and get the hang of riding out the contractions as they slowly intensify from uncomfortable, to painful, to intense.  You can read about my first, second, and third birth stories here.)

From the beginning of this pregnancy, I just had a feeling that this little one would come early.  And when I was already 3 cm dilated at 35 weeks and lost my mucous plug at 36 weeks, I was starting to get nervous that he or she might come too early!  I was also concerned that when the baby did decide to come, I would  already be dilated 5 or 6 cm and labor would be too quick for anyone to get here in time!  My husband works 35 minutes away and the midwives were 50 minutes away…

At 338 weeks, getting ready for a last date night before baby comes!

At 38 weeks, getting ready for a last date night before baby comes!

I made it through weeks 36 and 37 without going into labor (I was told I should “take it easy” for week 36, which is a very hard thing for me to do).  But once I hit 38 weeks, I was ready to be done.  I had early labor consistently all day the day I turned 38 weeks, but then my contractions stopped and only came sporadically the next few days.

Thai food and finally deciding on names for this little one. We decided on a girl name, but were still having trouble with the boy name...

Thai food and finally deciding on names for this little one. We decided on a girl name, but were still having trouble with the boy name…

On Monday, I was 38 weeks 3 days and I was exhausted.  I thought I was exhausted before then, but apparently I wasn’t…  I hit a wall, especially emotionally, and I was on the verge of tears all day for no reason at all.  I pushed through homeschool with the boys and was ready for a nap by 10 am.  Somehow I made it through the day, by the grace of God…

I recognized the emotional state I was in because I’ve been there 3 times before, always within 24 hours of going into labor.  So I wondered if, and hoped that, I would go into labor that night…

Like the many nights before, I had sporadic contractions through the night, enough to disrupt my sleep, but nothing “real”.  The next day, Tuesday morning, nothing had changed.  I was still exhausted and emotionally at my wit’s end.  Again I pushed through school and took a brief nap before loading all the kids up to head to my midwife appointment that afternoon.

The birthing tub (or water trough) all ready in our room. The kids thought this was a great new play thing!

The birthing tub (or water trough) all ready in our room. The kids thought this was a great new play thing!

Cindy and Kathy, my very experienced midwives, listened to me talk about how emotionally and physically I was just done.  They encouraged me that my emotional state was indeed a very good sign that my hormones were gearing up for labor.  I felt validated and encouraged (and not like I was just going crazy, which is what I suspected) after spending an  hour with them.

They checked me, only because I was curious what had changed in the last 3 weeks since they had last checked me.  And, surprisingly, not much had changed.  I was now 3.5 to 4 cm dilated and about 90% effaced, but nothing drastic.  I was more relieved than frustrated about that – I didn’t want to go into labor too far along because of my fears of not having someone there with me.

I took the kids grocery shopping on the way home.  We, of course, got lots of questions about when I was due, to which I replied, “Whenever baby wants to show up!” I loaded up on plenty of snack food and frozen food to make feeding the kids easier in post-partum – the kids were surprised and thrilled!  They never get food like that at our house, so it’s a special treat. And to top off the terrible food, I bought frozen Orange Chicken for dinner.

That night, I had more energy than I had in several nights.  I cleaned up the living room and kitchen, even sweeping the floor.  I had a good talk with my husband and we went to bed about 10.  Unlike the previous nights, I slept like a log until five AM when my husband’s alarm went off to get up for work.

That’s when things started to get exciting, but this post is getting awfully long already, so you will have to continue reading Part 2 for the rest of the story…

 

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