NatureAmy

caring for creation while caring for family

Author: Amy (page 1 of 6)

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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My THM Pregnancy: 39 week update… Oops… 2 days post-partum!

Baby is here and it’s a…

GIRL!

Little Bethany Carolyn joined our family at 8 am on Wednesday, nine days before her due date.  She was 8 lbs even, 21 inches long, and has captured everyone’s hearts already.

Sleep my little one...

Sleep my little one…

I will be sharing her full birth story soon, but for a bit of a preview…

She arrived only 3 short hours after my first contraction and 1 minute before the midwives arrived!  She was born at home, as planned, with no complications, and a very, VERY quick labor.  My husband got to deliver her and is so proud of that fact!

I could not have asked for a better delivery.  It was fast and intense, but she arrived quickly and we were able to immediately relax as a family and just soak up the time together.

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…

I’m supposed to be resting and in bed for the first week after delivery.  My midwives insist that it really is the best start for your body after birth to allow adequate time for healing.  And I’m trying to rest and stay off my feet as much as possible, but I’m terrible at taking it easy…  My husband and mom keep sending me back to bed!  At least they are here to take care of me…

Thank you all so much for your prayers and support and for following along this entire pregnancy, from my miscarriage a year ago, to healing from that experience, and finally throughout my pregnancy and birth.  God has been so good to us and has shown Himself faithful time and again.

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My Third Birth Story: My En Caul Water Birth

An en caul birth is where a baby is born still in its amniotic sac.  The bag of waters does not break and the baby is in a water balloon like clear sac at birth.  This is very rare and is said to occur only in 1 out of 80,000 births.  Legend says that babies born in the caul are said to be clairvoyant and possess supernatural abilities…

When I was pregnant with my third baby, my first girl, I knew I wanted a natural childbirth again.  We considered a home birth, but with our insurance at the time, a hospital birth would be fully covered and a homebirth was not covered at all.  Thankfully, the wonderful hospital based birth center where we gave birth to our second son was covered, so we chose to return there, even though it was almost an hours drive from our house. (Read my second birth story here. Or my first, where nothing went as planned, here.)

Four days before my due date, I knew that something was starting. I was supposed to teach that day, but I asked my husband (who I was co-teaching with at the time) to take over for me.  Nothing was really happening.  I’d had a bunch of Braxton Hicks and early labor contractions off and on for over a week, but nothing stuck.  That morning, however, I just had a feeling.

We were invited to go swimming at a friend’s house that day, which sounded like fun.  It was early May, but it was heating up and I was looking forward to a swim.  So the boys and I headed over that afternoon and swam in the frigid water.  I decided to be brave and swim into the deep end and tread water for a bit – brrrr it was cold!  But the activity got my contractions started.  Just easy early labor contractions like I had been having on and off for quite a while, but I thought they just might stick this time.

We drove home and my contractions continued.  They were not painful, yet, and they came every 10-15 minutes.  I went to bed that night wondering if they would stop or if they would progress.

I woke up about 3 am to painful contractions.  I couldn’t just lie in bed any longer, although I tried and dozed off between each one since they were only coming 3 or 4 times an hour.  By morning, they had picked up considerably and were coming every 5 minutes or so, so we decided to make the hour long trek to the hospital before driving in the car was too uncomfortable.

By 10 am, we made it to the hospital, which was very crowded.  Every room was full, except one basic delivery room without a birthing tub.  As soon as we walked inside, my labor stopped.  (This has certainly been a pattern for me.  My labor always stops when I reach the hospital…)  The midwife who had just come on duty was one of the three in the large midwife group that I actually knew, so I was happy about that.  Simone checked me and they monitored me for 20 minutes, but I was only dilated to 3 cm at this point, and my labor had stopped.  So, she suggested I go back home, or walk around town, get some breakfast, etc. to see if things would start up again.

I was devastated and embarrassed.  I wanted to have this baby, not go back home.  In hinds sight, I am so glad I was not admitted at that time.  Not being at the hospital helped my labor progress much faster than I think it would have if I was there, stuck in that tiny L&D room.


My husband and I decided to go out to brunch and see how things went from there.  As soon as we left the hospital, my labor started again, although just gradually.  I had a number of good contractions in the restaurant while enjoying my big plate of biscuits and gravy and fresh squeezed orange juice.  So afterwards, we decided to walk around town and down to the local university’s campus arboretum.  We were very familiar with this campus because we had graduated from there.

Walking through the familiar plants in the arboretum was very peaceful and my contractions got much more serious.  They were all over the place time-wise, though.  Sometimes they would be 15 minutes between them, sometimes there would be 3 minutes.  After a couple hours of walking, we made it back to our car and discussed the next steps.

I wanted to return to the hospital, but I was afraid they would just turn me away again.  My husband wanted to return home.  He was convinced I was still in early labor and we still had a long time before our baby would arrive. So, against my better judgement, we drove the hour long drive back home.

About half way there, my irregular contractions started to become very regular.  They came every 5 minutes, then every 4, and eventually every 3 minutes by the time we arrived home.  And they were starting to get to the point where I had to really concentrate to get through them.

The boys (ages 4 and almost 6) were excited that we were home already, they were at home with my mother-in-law, and they wanted to meet the baby.  I felt terrible telling them that she wasn’t here yet.  And to make things more complicated, my mother-in-law had some friends visiting who happened to be driving by and had stopped in to visit.  I wasn’t exactly the best hostess as I said a quick hello and then went back to hide in the bedroom.


My husband had a field trip planned with his students the following day and was debating whether or not he should postpone it.  He was talking on the phone with his boss as he walked into the bedroom and I heard him say, “yes, false alarm.  She’s still in early labor, so it could be days still.”  And he did not cancel the trip for the following morning.  At that point, with intense contractions coming every 3 or 4 minutes, I lost it!

“I am NOT in early labor!”  I snapped at him.  My poor husband gave me a sympathetic look and left the room to finish the conversation.

Our guests (or my mother-in-law’s guests) left, so I came out of the room and decided to try to watch a movie with the boys.  We put on Despicable Me II since I had not seen it yet and thought it might be a good distraction.  I still have not seen that movie. LOL!

I moved around the house, sitting on my yoga ball, trying some different yoga positions, leaning against the kitchen counter.  Finally, I told my husband – “I really think we need to go back to the hospital.”

My mother-in-law agreed, so we loaded back into the car, after being home for about 90 minutes, and returned to the hospital.  I had no idea how far along I was, but I suspected I must be near transition.  I started to time my contractions using my phone as we made our way back.  We called the midwife and let them know we were coming back and she assured me that there would be a tub room waiting when we arrived.


My contractions were coming every 3 minutes, then every 2 minutes, and eventually I would only have 30 seconds to a minute between each.  I concentrated on the air vent in front of me and wished that I had my scripture cards from my birth bag to meditate on.  Since I didn’t have those, I just said the name of Jesus, over and over, mostly in my head, as I breathed through each contraction.  It was painful, yet it wasn’t.  I seemed to transport out of myself when I focused on His name.  There IS power in His name.

My husband had finally decided that I must actually be in labor and was starting to get worried that we might actually have this little one in the car!  When traffic slowed (it was after 5 pm at this point) he seriously considered driving in the emergency lane, but thankfully it only slowed for a minute and then picked back up again.

We reached the hospital birth center and I attempted to make it to the door, but with breaks between contractions only lasting 30 or 45 seconds, I didn’t make it to the door without having to lean on my husband and breath through another one.  They knew who I was at the check in desk and led me into my room.  All was peaceful and calm, unlike when we had been there that morning.  I was the only mother in labor.

They hooked me up to the monitors for my mandatory 20 minutes of monitoring at check in.  It was torture to try to lie still while they put the two monitors on my stomach and started the test.  My husband started a calming CD and I tried to breath through each contraction, but was distracted by having to stay in one position for so long.  It was the only time during this labor that I felt was unbearable – I had finally learned how to NOT focus on the pain, but being strapped to a machine was more than I could take.

The nurse started to fill up the birthing tub since she could tell I would want it as soon as I finished my test.

The nurse we had was wonderful.  Later, we found out that she was a Christian and had been praying over the entire delivery.  Since she had no other patients to attend to, she stayed with us and rubbed my back.  At the end of 20 minutes, our midwife came in (she had been taking a dinner break).  But before she could even check me, my contractions changed.  I felt the urge to push.


At first I didn’t say anything and just pushed through the first one – it felt so good.  Then I decided I better say something, so I told the midwife.  She went to check my dilation, thought better of it (this was my third), and told me that if I wanted to have this baby in the water, I had better get in the tub! ( I was only checked at 3 cm dilated that morning.)

The warm water felt so good and eased the pain significantly.  I tried pushing in a squatting position and then on all fours, but wasn’t getting too far.  My midwife suggested I turn over and push from a sitting position with my legs bent up.  That worked and my baby girl started to crown.

The CD we were listening to stopped at that point and my thoughtful husband asked if I wanted him to restart it or put in something different.  “No!  Get the camera!” I told him instead.

At this point, my water still had not broken, so the bag of waters ballooned out as I was pushing her head out.  As she slipped back before the next contraction, the bag of waters stayed out, holding me open so that she came out easily on the next push, still in her bag of waters.

This in the only picture we have of Addamay still in the sac. It is no longer covering her head, but you can see it around her shoulders and my hands.

This in the only picture we have of Addamay still in the sac. It is no longer covering her head, but you can see it around her shoulders and my hands.

The midwife swept her out of the water and quickly broke her bag and released her head.  She was perfect and covered in vernix like frosting as she was placed on my chest.  It was so quick that we don’t have any pictures of her “en caul” and my memory of the event is blurry as I was kind of busy at that time…

We were only in the hospital about 45 minutes before our precious little Addamay was born.  She was perfect, just like her brothers – her blue eyes, button nose, and round head had us captivated from the start.  And she was not “too big” as a late ultrasound predicted she would be.  She was 8 lbs 6 ozs, just under the 8.5 lbs that our midwife had predicted using just her hands.

She latched on immediately and nursed in the tub and then on the bed.  I had a severe tear with her, which took some time to sew up.  However, I also healed quicker and had a better recovery with her than with the boys, so I can’t complain.

A few hours after her birth, she's all cleaned up and ready to sleep.

A few hours after her birth, she’s all cleaned up and ready to sleep.

We spent the night at the hospital and chose her name in the morning.  We are terrible about picking out names, so we had a short list to choose from.  Addamay means Noble Child of Light and is very unusual, but is the combination of two very familiar names.

birth3_home

Being greeted by her grandmothers and her brothers just as we came in the garage door.

And just like our previous births, we requested early check out from the hospital.  We were home by late morning the following day.

Her big brothers could not get enough of her.

Her big brothers could not get enough of her.

Thankfully, Addamay settled right into home life and slept beautifully among the familiar loud sounds of her brothers playing.  She was restless and unhappy at the hospital, but as soon as we were home, she was as happy as could be.

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My THM Pregnancy: 36 Weeks Pregnant – Home Birth Preparation

Wow – where did the time go?  Somehow, I’ve made it to the last month of pregnancy!  In only a week, I will be considered full term with this precious fourth baby!  And I can hardly wait to meet him or her!  (The suspense is killing me – boy? girl? ahhhhh!)

Girls and boys clothes are ready!

In the last month, we have been mainly preparing for our last minute change to a home birth. Read about why we decided to switch from our planned hospital birth here.  I am soooo excited about the switch and all the anxiety I had over the birth has gone once we made the decision.

I’ve been in full-on nesting mode.  I’ve moved a dresser into our closet for the baby and have been washing all the newborn and 0-3 month clothes we have for a boy or girl.  My favorite baby wearing wraps are washed and ready!  The baby swing has new batteries.  The swaddling blankets and receiving blankets are ready!

The midwives gave me an extensive checklist of items to have for the birth.  I have all but two of them now.  The first part was a list of consumable medical supplies.  I thought I would have to track these down from Amazon or a medical supply store, but it was so much easier than that.  My midwives have a specific kit to order from a small medical supply company in Oregon.  The only hiccup was having to wait for Oregon to melt from the “Snowmageddon” they experienced this January before they could ship my supplies.  But they arrived quickly once the roads cleared.

The other items on the list were either things we already had around the house (receiving blankets, extra sheets, flashlight with new batteries, towels, wash cloths, etc.) or things that can be easily purchased to be on hand.  Things like menstrual pads, juice, electrolyte drink, perineum recovery supplies, etc.

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea (loose leaf and in bulk from Amazon) is helping to prepare my uterus for labor. I limit myself to 3 cups a day - too much can actually start labor.

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea (loose leaf and in bulk from Amazon) is helping to prepare my uterus for labor. I limit myself to 3 cups a day – too much can actually start labor.

My boxes are ready in my closet with the baby items, just waiting for “D-day” (delivery day!)  I also have a unisex outfit for the baby right after birth, complete with socks and hat, and a boy and girl outfit picked out for a little later.

We will pick up one of the birthing tubs in a week or two from another family after they have their baby.  It is actually a large Rubbermaid water trough!  I can’t wait to tell our little one that they were born in a water trough! LOL!


34 weeks pregnant, drinking red raspberry leaf tea, and completely exhausted!

34 weeks pregnant, drinking red raspberry leaf tea, and completely exhausted!

One idea that I loved from the book “Birthing from Within” was the idea of having a birth or labor project.  This project can keep you occupied during the often long hours of early labor and even into the tough time of transition.

I love this idea because I’ve found from my previous labors that having a distraction from the pain is one of the best ways to cope with labor.  My labor with my third was so smooth and easy and I credit that to many things, but one of the most valuable with that I was not stuck in a hospital room dwelling on her labor (in fact, we barely got to the hospital in time).

So, if I am able, I plan to do a simple sewing project during my labor this time.  Of course, this depends on the time of day and length of labor.  I may not have time for such things, but that’s okay, too!  I’ve been eyeing these simple cloth napkins on Pinterest, so I plan to have the cloth ready so I can make these if I want.


These last few weeks I have had 3 appointments with our midwives and I just love them.  One week we had a private home birth class with just my husband and I. It was great to get all our questions answered and know what to expect (as much as you can plan such things) this time birthing at home.

We also had our home visit, where the midwives both came to our house so they would know the layout before they came for the labor.  I showed them the two boxes where we are storing all the labor supplies and also where we plan to put the birthing tub.  They have a 50 minute drive to get here, so they continually emphasized how important it was for me to keep them informed of any changes, no matter how minor they seem!

The midwives also made sure we planned out a detailed emergency plan in case I need to be transferred to a hospital.  I don’t think it will be an issue (they don’t either), but I am glad that they are prepared (and preparing us) for the possibility.  Better to be safe, than sorry.

I'm planning to make my bedroom prayer corner my birth place. The table and chair will move temporarily to make room for the birthing tub.

I’m planning to make my bedroom prayer corner my birth place. The table and chair will move temporarily to make room for the birthing tub.


Early labor signs?

This time around my body is already getting ready for labor.  This is somewhat normal for me (after my first, anyway), but it has been happening earlier each time.

The midwives checked me at my 36 week appointment this week and I was already 3 cm dilated and 50% effaced.  I am experienced enough to know that that really does not mean I will go into labor soon, but it might…

36 weeks and feeling like I'm carrying around a bowling ball!

36 weeks and feeling like I’m carrying around a bowling ball!

I also just lost my mucous plug and have been having frequent light contractions on and off, so I am trying to take it easy for the next week, just in case!  This is not abnormal for me in the last month of pregnancy, but it is about 2 weeks earlier than I normally start experiencing prodromal/early labor.  This baby needs to stay put for at least another week so that I can safely deliver at home and he or she can finish fully developing.


Stay tuned for what comes next!  Hopefully we will have a new baby sometime in 1 to 5 weeks!

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Why my kids don’t have many toys…

OK, OK, this makes me sound like the Grinch.

I promise, my kids have plenty of toys, they really do.  However, compared to most families we know, regardless of income, my three kids don’t have many toys.  But before you start donating all your unwanted toys to our house, let me just clarify – this is completely intentional…

There really are two main reasons we don’t have a lot of toys for our three (soon to be four) children,  The first is that about two years ago, I made the very intentional choice to severely cut back on our belongings.  This was not a sudden decision – it was actually very gradual and you can read about it here.

We live in a small house, so we don’t have a play room.  Our living room is naturally where the kids play. During that time, our living room went from looking like this – home of all the toys…

Our living room at Addamay's first birthday party.  This was after we started decluttering, but before we found a solution to toys stored in our living room.

Our living room at Addamay’s first birthday party. This was after we started decluttering, but before we found a solution to toys stored in our living room.

to this.

Our living room in a rare moment when there are not Lego creations in progress.  We've done some rearranging since the previous photo, as well.

Our living room in a rare moment when there are not Lego creations in progress. We’ve done some rearranging since the previous photo, as well.

Where did all the toys go?  Well, a lot of them were donated.  The rest mostly live here on this one bookshelf in the hallway.

The November Minimalist Challenge - getting rid of stuff - NatureAmy.com

Toys accumulate so quickly if you have several kids. This was our shelf after decluttering this summer.

We also have a big box of Legos, a Lego display small bookshelf in the kids’ room to keep their creations, and a few things in our large pantry and garage that act as a toy library.

The second reason we don’t have many toys is because when my two boys were little my sister Ella read the book Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Dr. Kim John Payne.  I have since read it, but when she read it she went into great detail about his philosophy on toys and play and I was absolutely fascinated by it!  (My sister and I spend a lot of time on the phone together each week and like to talk about anything and everything!)

I started to implement some of Dr. Paynes strategies then – the first one I embraced was that toys should not do anything for the child. Toys that do too much squelch the imagination – so out with the noise toys!  Yes! (I really was looking for any reason to get rid of that stupid singing alphabet caterpillar!)  Instead, we stick to “old fashioned” non-electronic toys, like blocks, Legos, Play-Doh, and wooden trains.

And do you know what we’ve found?  Our kids play longer, fight less, and enjoy the toys they have more when they own less.  Too many toys can be overstimulating for kids.  But when we purposefully pare down what they have to play with – keeping only their favorites and the ones that use the most imagination – they are actually happier, calmer, and more content.


Dr Payne’s research is really quite amazing and I highly recommend it to anyone looking to simplify their children’s lives.  His prescription to his clients to simplify their children’s environment has helped with behavioral issues, ADHD, and anxiety, among other things.  In most of his case studies, the children’s symptoms disappeared entirely! He suggests that most people need to reduce their children’s toys by about 75%.  He uses the following guidelines to reduce the toy clutter:

  1. Get rid of broken toys- pretty simple
  2. Get rid of “fixed” toys – toys that don’t trigger the imagination (character toys from TV shows or movies fall under this category)
  3. Developmentally inappropriate toys – is this too mature or too immature?
  4. Annoying toys – if you can’t stand it, he gives you permission to toss it.  I love this one!
  5. Complicated toys, battery operated toys, toys that break easily.
  6. Commercial toys – ones that you were pressured to buy because everyone must have it.
  7. Toys that cause the kids to fight or interact unhealthily

So what toys do we keep?  Toys that encourage the imagination.  Think blocks, dolls, dress up clothes, craft items, wooden trains.

I love watching my kids create their own little worlds.

I love watching my kids create their own little worlds.

Your son doesn’t need a police car with a real siren – he can make the noise himself!  She doesn’t need a doll that cries or talks or poops – her imagination can do that very well.

My boys do occasionally beg for toys they see their friends have.  For instance, they really want bullets for their Nerf guns, but I won’t get them for them.  (I tossed them all a couple years ago.) You see, when we had bullets, they spent more time trying to find them and asking me to help them find them than they actually spent playing.  However, I know they can spend hours playing with their toy guns fighting off imaginary bad guys in some elaborate story.  But if they have to stop to find Nerf bullets, the game stops.  I’m sure you have similar stories of how your kids imaginatio

n has just stopped because a toy does too much.

The toys that made the cut at our house:

Legos

Mega Blocks

Magformers              

Some of the toy cars and trucks and racing tracks

Wooden trains and tracks

Bean-bag animal stuffed toys (these are a surprising hit and the kids can play for hours in their animal world)

Play-dough – I make my own play-dough and we use a variety of tools to play

Melissa and Doug Castle Blocks and knights and dragons

Melissa and Doug puzzles

Marble Run tracks

Pirate ships

A few toy guns and foam swords – nothing realistic looking

Baby dolls, baby carriage, clothes, and accessories

Toy kitchen, toy table/chairs, cookware, food, picnic basket, and tea pot

Dress-up clothes

Art and craft supplies – these live in our homeschool room

Children’s books and board games – these live in the closet

When I write it up like that, it does seem like a pretty long list, but it does include three kids of different genders, ages 2-8.  Plus, it mostly fits on one IKEA shelf bolted to the wall in the hall.  I keep a few items, like our toy kitchen and large trucks, on the back porch.  And a few items are stored in the garage or our large pantry.

Our toy kitchen and table live outside in the rain and sun, but it works well for our small space and mild winters.

Our toy kitchen and table live outside in the rain and sun, but it works well for our small space and mild winters.


Does anyone else get Toy Story guilt when you donate (or toss) a toy?  Oh my goodness, that movie has scarred me for life!  LOL! Nevertheless, I bit the bullet and tried not to think too much about it when I donated Buzz Lightyear! Sorry, Buzz, but hopefully you’re getting played with at your new home!toy-story-3

I also am that mom that usually does not include her kids in the donating decisions.  I don’t know about your kids, but mine go into full blown hysterics over the thought of giving away ANY of their toys – even toys they have NEVER played with!  However, if I donate the toys I know they don’t play with anymore while they are asleep, they are not upset by it.  They usually don’t even notice.

On the couple occasions that they have noticed something missing, I explain that I gave it away to a kid that didn’t have many toys so they could play with it.  Sometimes, a couple tears were shed by my 6 year old who is very sensitive, but he got over it quickly and was happy to know it went to a good home.

If there are toys that I’m not sure about, I often move them to a shelf in the garage.  Sometimes I will add them back into the toy rotation.  Other times, if they are forgotten for 6 months or more, I donate them.


So, what do you do about toys at your house?  Are they taking over or have you found a good balance that works for you?  I’d love to hear about it!

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Why We’re Switching to a Home Birth

In my last pregnancy update, I hinted at a big change in our birth plan coming up.  As you can see from the title, we’ve decided to switch from a hospital birth to a home birth.

I have always wanted a home birth with a midwife.  My mother had four of her five kids at home with a doctor or midwife.  I was her first home birth and I love the pictures of her and my dad and newborn me snuggled up on the bed, cozy and comfortable at home.

I’m a homebody, an introvert, and I hate hospitals.  With my three previous hospital births, I have always requested an early release and have checked out of the hospital about 12 hours after giving birth each time.  I just want to be home, in my own bed, being cared for by my mom.  No nurses coming in at all hours.  No loud sounds from the hospital coming through the walls.  No uncomfortable hospital beds.  I want to be home.

I love my bedroom - it's bright and cheery, uncluttered, and it makes me happy. I can't imagine a better place to give birth!

I love my bedroom – it’s bright and cheery, uncluttered, and it makes me happy. (This post was a perfect opportunity for a mini-tour!) I can’t imagine a better place to give birth!

I also love the relationships that you get with a midwife.  I’ve had midwives for my last two hospital births and they were both great.  However, I delivered with a midwife group, so there was very little, if any, prior interaction with my midwives.  My mom developed a wonderful friendship with the midwife that delivered my little sisters. I crave that.

My husband and I had discussed paying out of pocket for a home birth before we knew we were expecting this little one.  He was completely supportive of the idea. However, I felt somewhat selfish and guilty for spending all that money on what I wanted.  We could use that money to help pay off our school debt faster. We could use that money for a family trip to Disneyland.  I knew what I wanted, but I couldn’t get over feeling selfish about it.

I love my poppy print!

I love my poppy print!


My husband has good insurance coverage with his work and we are very blessed by the generosity of his employer, but we are limited to one insurance group and hospital.  (Not the hospital based birth center that I’ve delivered my last 2 kids in – which I loved.) I’ve been happy with my care and our family doctors, however, I have had many friends deliver at the hospital we have to use, and I know that it is NOT my ideal birth environment.

I’ve had a friend who has had two of her births at that hospital all-naturally, so I was encouraged that it was, indeed, possible.  She had to fight a bit and sign some liability forms, but she was able to get the natural birth she wanted.  So, I was prepared to fight to make the situation work.

However, a couple weeks ago, I decided to call to make sure that everything we thought was covered by our insurance plan (which said it covered all prenatal appointments, etc.) was actually covered.  I learned that although all my appointments, labs, tests, etc were completely covered by our insurance before meeting our high deductible, the actual birth was not.  We would have to pay our full deductible before they would cover the rest of our labor, delivery, and hospital fees.  So, I learned, that it would actually be significantly cheaper for us to pay out of pocket for a home birth instead of using the hospital.

I was really excited! The search for a midwife started immediately!

I love this verse from Song of Solomen 8:6

I love this verse from Song of Solomon 8:6

We live in a more rural area, so finding a midwife that delivers here, even when only a couple months pregnant, can be a challenge.  But I had the additional challenge of finding a midwife that delivered locally AND had availability in just TWO short months!  After making a lot of calls, I finally found a midwife team who could take me.  I set up a meeting with them the following week.

Before the meeting, I prayed that God would give me a feeling of peace if this was the right place for me.  In previous pregnancies, I’ve met with providers before that I was not comfortable with.  I couldn’t tell you why, but I had an uneasy feeling after our meetings.  I didn’t want that to be the case with this meeting, but I prayed for God to make it abundantly clear to me.  And it was.

The two midwives work together, are licensed and certified, of course, and have birthed over 1000 babies between them.  The meeting was relaxing and peaceful.  Addamay played happily and I talked about my previous births and why I wanted a home birth.  I felt comfortable and at complete peace with the situation.


Now it’s time to get serious!  In the next few weeks I’ll be ordering the supplies for my home birth kit, picking up one of the birthing tubs that they provide for their clients, and generally getting everything ready for our birth!

I'm planning to make my bedroom prayer corner my birth place. The table and chair will move temporarily to make room for the birthing tub.

I’m planning to make my bedroom prayer corner my birth place. The table and chair will move temporarily to make room for the birthing tub.

I’ve had friends tell me I’m brave for not having the option of pain relief during labor, but really I’m not worried about it at all.

God created women to give birth.  It is completely natural and something that women have been doing since the beginning.  I’ve given birth completely drug free twice already and my third birth was my easiest yet.

Of course, some women have high risk pregnancies and really should give birth in a hospital setting.  I, thankfully, do not fall into this category.  I have very easy pregnancies and somewhat easy births (not counting the useless interventions in my first birth).  I don’t think any birth is exactly “easy”.

I am not afraid of not having an epidural.  I’ve given birth with an epidural and without – I much prefer doing it without – but, that is a post for another day…


So – that’s our big news!  I’m so excited that I’ll be finally getting the home birth I’ve always wanted!

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My THM Pregnancy: 32 weeks

With the holidays, I have fallen behind on my blogging to spend time with my family. This also means that I’ve fallen behind on my pregnancy updates! It’s been 9 weeks since my last one!

As far as my pregnancy goes, these last couple months have been mostly uneventful. My checkups have all gone smoothly, my tests have all been perfect, and my doctor’s only complaint has been my weight gain.

A bump picture from our family photos at 25 weeks pregnant.

A bump picture from our family photos at 25 weeks pregnant.

Unfortunately, I seem to be one of those pregnant women, who no matter how healthily they eat, still gain about the same as my other pregnancies. I was hoping, since I eat THM now, don’t eat sugar, and stay on plan most the time, that I would only gain 20 lbs, instead of my normal 40. However, I am definitely on track for gaining 40 lbs again.

I could be really upset by this, or I could choose to be happy that my baby is growing well and that I am healthy. I’ve decided to choose the latter. However, I was really annoyed at my doctor for bringing it up! Who wants to hear that they’re gaining “too much” weight, right? Not me!


32week_wimpAm I a Pregnancy Wimp?

This pregnancy has brought more heartburn than my others (maybe this baby will actually have hair????) and it’s made me realize that I’m a total pregnancy wimp. I know many women who have heartburn almost constantly during pregnancy and I only have it occasionally. However, I HATE it! I would seriously rather go through labor than a night of heartburn that won’t go away.  I admire those women so much for putting up with it for months! You are true pregnancy heroines!

Another thing that makes me a pregnancy wimp?  I usually sleep really well, even in pregnancy, but when I don’t – I’m a complete grump!  I know many friends who have aches and pains and trouble sleeping much of the 40 weeks, but for me, missing one good night of sleep is frustrating.

I finally had to break out my pregnancy pillow – my Snoogle. My husband hates it – he’s not a fan of the big pillow wall between us, so I try not to use it. I didn’t use it in my 3rd pregnancy at all. But, after several nights of waking up sore, I decided I needed it again. It did the trick! I don’t need it every night, but when I’m feeling especially achy, it helps me get a good night’s sleep.

Real life trying to take blog pictures at my house! Addamay trying to drag me away and some laundry in process down the hall...

Real life trying to take blog pictures at my house! Addamay trying to drag me away and some laundry in process down the hall…

Now, if I could only get my 2 year old to sleep consistently through the night, I would have no night time complaints! Please pray with me that she starts sleeping solidly every night before the baby comes. She has been my toughest sleeper. All my others slept solidly through the night from 12 months on (often 9 months), but she is inconsistent. Some nights she sleeps just fine – others, not so much!


My growing bump at 26, 30, and 31 weeks!

My growing bump at 26, 30, and 31 weeks!

We had some exciting changes to our birth plan come up, but that is news for another post!  Can’t wait to tell you all about it soon!  Any guesses as to what it might be?

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My One Year Blogiversary: What I’ve learned from my first year…

Today is the 1 year anniversary of starting my NatureAmy blog and what a year it has been!

I started writing to have an outlet that was just mine.  For the first time since becoming a mom almost 8 years before, I was switching from working part-time to being a full-time stay at home mom.  And although I was happy about that, I wanted an outlet that was just mine.

amy_addamay2016As much as I love motherhood, it can become all consuming – so much so that I find myself needing an outlet that is all my own.  When I taught college classes part time, that was a great outlet. However, after 3 kids and full time homeschooling two of them, working outside the home, even for only 10 hours a week, was too much.  So I became a full-time SAHM and started a lifestyle/mommy blog.

And I’ve loved it!  It’s been a hard year for me emotionally, but being able to write about it has been very healing.  I’ve also found that writing is so much like teaching.  I’m a teacher and encourager at heart and I’ll never get away from that.

I’ve evolved from writing two or three posts per week, to taking two months off from writing in the summer, and eventually settling in at posting about once per week.

family2016I wish I could write more consistently – I love reading bloggers who post several days every week – but I realized that that is not realistic in my current season.  I’m homeschooling 1st and 3rd grade, keeping up with a very independent toddler, and about to add a 4th baby to the mix.  My husband works 80 hour weeks during the school year and we try to keep everything running smoothly at our house (emphasis on TRY – it is far from smooth most weeks!).


So… just for fun, let’s look at some of my stats and most popular posts this year.  I have been blown away by the visitation and love that this site has received the last 12 months!

Total site visitation: just under 50,000 – I can hardly fathom that number!  I know for many more popular blogs that is a monthly or weekly stat, but I am humbled that my blog has been visited so many times!

  1. My most popular post is my Weeks Worth of Trim Healthy Mama Camping Meal Ideas Camping with THM: A week's worth of on-plan menu ideas - perfect for a family camping trip - NatureAmy.com
  2.  But coming in just slightly under it is my Healthy Blueberry Scones Fuel Pull recipe – Downton Abbey inspired.  All my scone recipes are popular (and yummy) but this one tops them all.Downton-night-1
  3. My third most popular post is my personal Trim Healthy Mama Testimony.beforeand-after-thm

Enough stats – personally, my favorite three posts (even though they don’t rank so high in post views) are the following.

  1. My very first blog story (after my introduction post) – Glitter in the Snow.  I love this touching story about how our kids are the light and hope in this dark world.Does the darkness of the world seem to be too much? Here is some hope - some glitter - in the dark. - Natureamy.com
  2. My testimony about not having a testimony – When you feel like you don’t have a testimony…  The Facebook shares of this one really humbled me.When it seems that everyone else has an amazing story to tell of how God saved them from disaster, but you've been a Christian forever... But you DO have a beautiful testimony of God's faithfulness. -- NatureAmy.com
  3. And finally, our family tips on hiking with little kids – or how to NOT carry them the entire way…Tips for hiking with little kids, without carrying them the entire way. Written by long-distance backpacker parents who love to hike! NatureAmy.com

Some things I’ve learned that have pleasantly surprised me:

There is a wonderful and supportive world of bloggers out there that I never knew existed!  I’ve made friendships all over the United States, and even some beyond, with women who also blog.  I’ve never been one to have digital relationships before – everyone I was friends with on Facebook I actually knew in person – but I’ve found a kinship with these women and it has really blessed me!

Instagram is a very surprising place.  I never had an Instagram account before I opened my @amylovesnature page.  I’ve found it to be a great tool in the blogging world and have formed most my friendships with other bloggers through it.  It is also a much more pleasant social media outlet during political season!

E-courses can be a valuable connection tool.  I purchased an e-course from Natalie of At Home With Natalie about blogging.  It has been a very valuable tool.  However, the thing I found most useful is the connections it has brought to other like minded bloggers.  I use her Blogging E-course for Moms.  And she often has discounts!


So, overall, I’ve learned a lot this year.  But I’ve also learned to find my groove, be completely and unapologetically myself, and not focus on page views and site stats.  I’ve made a little bit of money (enough to pay for a replacement part to fix my nice camera), gotten overwhelmed by statistics and numbers (my post on why I don’t want a successful blog speaks about that one) , and eventually stepped back from it all to find a place that works for me.  Rethinking what it means to be successful in the blogging world when you want to encourage simpler living and consuming less.

Maybe someday I’ll be a “successful” blogger with really great site stats and viral posts who makes enough money to support my family… but for now, I’m happy where I’m at.  God has blessed me so much in this journey so far and I’m happy to be along for the ride!

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