Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A new Christmas tradition...

We are really trying to save money, so we decided not to buy the girls much for Christmas this year. We knew they would get tons of presents from their grandparents and really didn't need anything, anyways. Plus, we don't want them to grow up thinking that Christmas is about the presents; we want the focus to be on the celebration of the birth of Christ! So we decided to just get them a book and a CD that we had been wanting to buy for them. We thought the CD would be a great idea and probably very necessary because Karis would undoubtedly go into Christmas carol withdrawal when we packed up all the Christmas CD's :) And we really needed a good children's Bible because we were not really that excited about the ones we already owned. We really enjoyed our simple family Christmas and I think we might actually continue the tradition of just giving the girls a special CD and book every year. And in case you were wondering, here is what we got them:

The Big Picture Story Bible -- I've seen this Bible in several of my friends' homes and it is truly the best Bible I have seen for a two year old (and older kids as well :). It has large pages with beautiful illustrations and just the right amount of words to keep a toddler's attention. Karis was super excited about it and had the first couple of stories practically memorized after just a few readings.

Questions With Answers -- Vol 1: God and Creation by Dana Dirksen -- One of my friends recently mentioned that her previous church used a curriculum that taught the 2-year-olds the Shorter Catechism. I thought that was a great idea because those questions and answers really lay a solid foundation for theology. Karis has absolutely no interest in "memorizing" anything just because Mama wants her to, but she LOVES music. So I found this CD that I think is just fabulous. It is not the catechism verbatim, but it uses questions to teach the truths about God and creation. It is a very mellow CD, with catchy rhythms and just a simple guitar and voices, and Karis loves it. I've already heard her singing to herself in the bathroom, "Who made me? God made me!" and "Why did God make you? I was was made to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." It melts my heart. I definitely want to get the next CD in the series as well!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Beating Strep Throat and an ear infections without antibiotics or Tylenol

Today marks exactly a week since Karlie got sick and although we had several very miserable days, I am so happy to say that she is back to her normal, happy, playful, squealing, into everything self! For many reasons, we decided to let her fight strep-throat and an ear infection naturally, without any "medicine" at all. Instead of antibiotics and Tylenol, we used many different natural remedies that had been recommended to me by my fabulous Christian Holistic doctor and a good friend who had successfully fought strep with several of her boys. So I thought I'd share with you some of the things we did for her. Whether or not you choose to use antibiotics, these methods will still be helpful in fighting any illness. (Disclaimer: I know that strep can be dangerous, especially for babies, and I would not have attempted this without the following resources!)

1. Chiropractor! The relief a chiropractor can bring during illness is simply amazing. I could see immediate relief in Karlie' s eyes once the chiro had finished. I took her the first day she had a fever and again on the 4th day to make sure her ears were draining correctly. Our particular chiro has a lot of medical training and gave me much encouragement and more advice on beating it naturally. If you live in my area, I can recommend a fabulous Christian chiro who charges a reasonable rate and doesn't even deal with insurance. I just love her!

2. Collodial Silver -- extremely helpful to fight off any kind of sickness! We start taking it at the first sign of a sore throat or runny nose. When Karlie was at her worst, I gave it to her every hour. I'm still giving it to her about twice a day to make sure the illness is completely gone.

3. Kombucha -- it cleanses the body from toxins and aids in digestion and metabolism. Click HERE to see my review of it and some links explaining why I love this drink and how to make it yourself. My toddler and I drink this regularly (I'm still working on my husband :), and I was amazed that my baby would even take sips of it when she was sick! When I make it, I usually try to leave a small jar of it fermenting for several weeks so that it will be even more potent for killing off illness.

4. Home-made ear drops -- these are helpful even if the sickness is not an ear infection, because it helps to get garlic and GSE into the body which fight infection. ClickHERE for 2 different home-made ear drops, one that you can use right away and one that you can make ahead of time and store.

5. Oregano Oil, Garlic, and Probiotics -- Oregano Oil and Garlic both kill bacteria. I rubbed some oil on one foot and cut up a clove of garlic and rubbed that on her other foot every couple of hours. (A baby/toddler's feet are very porous and will absorb well. Mark and I swallow them as a pill when we are sick.) Make sure you get oregano oil that does not contain any other ingredients (like olive oil) or it will not be potent enough. Theprobiotics are important because the oregano oil kills ALL bacteria, even the good kind. So I mixed probiotics in with her applesauce to try to boost her good bacteria.

6. Let the fever run its course -- (That means NO Tylenol!) This was probably the hardest, yet most important thing for me to do. God made our bodies to have a fever because the high temp. kills the virus or bacteria. Using Tylenol ruins this natural process and makes the body unable to fight the disease. It can also cause a fever convulsion by bringing the fever down too quickly. Without Tylenol, Karlie's fever naturally broke when it got too high for her, then would climb back up and break again, etc, until it had killed the infection. So I just tried to make Karlie as comfortable as possible and once when she was utterly miserable, I gave her THIS special bath for helping with the fever. The main thing you have to watch out for with a high fever is dehydration, but I will write about that soon...

7. Nursing as much as possible -- I was soooooo thankful that Karlie got this sickness while nursing, because breastmilk is truly the best medicine I could give her. Breast milk is tailor-made to fit the unique needs of your child each day. Did you know that when your baby nurses, the breast is stimulated by the bacteria introduced by your baby? This bacteria travels into the breast tissue, causing an immediate reaction with the formation of antibodies, which can then be found back in the mother’s milkwithin 8 hours!! So if your baby is fighting a cold or other illness, your body is creating antibodies specific for what your baby is combating that very day. Needless to say, I ditched the schedule and let Karlie nurse as often as she would. Nursing was also very comforting to Karlie and really seemed to calm her down when she would get really upset during her high fever. So she pretty much nursed all night long for about 3 nights! Exhausting, but I knew it was what she needed! I also tried to eat a lot of garlic, Kombucha, probiotics, take oregano oil, and eat smoothies with GSE so she would get those benefits from me as well.

8. Coconut water -- This is truly nature's Gatorade or Pedialyte without all the added flavorings and sugar! I get in the organic section at Kroger and always keep it on hand for any time we are sick. Coconut Water is rich in many vital minerals, vitamins, and proteins, not just the basic "electrolyte essentials" found in a lab-formulated drink. And believe it or not, the natural electrolyte & pH balance of coconut water even make it suitable for a rehydrating IV solution! Karlie is just starting to use a sippy, so she would only drink a little, but Karis will drink every drop that I give her and beg for more! Smart Water/ Trinity Mineral Water is also a good option for dehydrating because it has a lot of electrolytes, but my favorite is coconut water.

9. Smoothies with coconut milk, coconut oil, frozen fruit, raw honey, and grapefruit seed extract -- Ok, Karlie won't eat this, but I had to add it because its the best thing for when my husband or toddler is sick. It is really the only thing I can get them to eat when they are miserable. It is dairy-free so it won't add to drainage, has tons of vitamin C from the fruit, contains bacteria fighting GSE and coconut oil, all the nutrients of coconut milk, and the honey is soothing and has many other benefits. We actually eat these all the time to try to boost our immune system. My husband likes them so much that he was willing to give up his nightly ice cream treat for them (and if you know my husband, that is saying A LOT!)

10. "Remedies" from my Christian Holistic Doctor -- I know not everyone has this resource available but I wanted to include it because if you live in my area, I can refer you to the BEST natural doctor ever. She can pinpoint any illnesses/ allergies without invasive treatment and makes remedies based on your body's particular needs. She has such a heart for helping others and I just love her!

These are just several of the things that have really seemed to work for us as we try to fight off illnesses naturally. I hope they were helpful to you!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The heart of a child...

We were incredibly blessed last week to get some AMAZING deals on some new (to us) toys for the girls at a a great consignment sale in town. The girls have had a blast playing with them and it has made for a very fun week! However, I was immediately reminded of the sinful nature of a child as my sweet two-year old decided that all these toys were her toys and not Karlie's. Karlie would try to pull up on the slide or lion chair and Karis would immediately push her down. This is really the first time that Karis has shown any meanness towards her sister and it saddened me. She usually finds great joy in chasing Karlie around the house and showering her with toys, trying her hardest to make Karlie laugh. But alas, my sweet girl is a sinner just like her Mama and we've had to teach her a lot about sharing this week.

Honesty has been an issue recently as well. Like any 2-year old, Karis hates to stop playing to use the potty. She never has accidents; she has the most amazing control and would rather just hold it for ten hours. But I just don't see how that is good for her so I ask her every couple of hours if she needs to go potty. The answer is always "no." And since the rule is that she stays in the bathroom until she goes, sometimes she will try to convince me that she has already gone so that she can get up quickly. So we 've had to talk about honesty a lot lately.

Needless to say, these issues have been on my heart lately and I've spent some time praying for God to prick her little consience. I can talk to her and discipline her as much as I want, but I know that if God doesn't do a work in her little heart, all my efforts will be in vain. And today, I was blessed to see a little answer to my prayers!

I had left the girls playing together in the living room for just a second to check on dinner in the oven. I heard Karlie start to wail and ran back to see what had happened:
Me: Karis, did you do something to make Karlie cry?
Karis: no
Me: Do you know why Karlie is crying?
Karis: no
(at this point I decided not to press the issue since I didn't know what had happened. I turned around to take Karlie in the kitchen with me and heard ever so softly and sadly, "I pushed her." I looked at Karis and asked her again to be certain, "Karlie is crying because you pushed her?" She somberly nodded and said, "I pushed her and she fell down." Then she kissed Karlie and said, "I'm sorry Karlie."

Thank you, Lord, for pricking her heart and making her want to tell the truth regardless of the consequences!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Teaching my toddler

I don’t do any “formal” teaching with my 2-year old, Karis. I really don’t think you have to work very hard to teach toddlers. They just naturally soak up every bit of information around them. So I thought I'd just share some ways that we have really enjoyed learning together and some of our favorite resources:

1. Doing what Mommy does --- Karis helps me do all my chores. I could get them done much more efficiently during naps and after she goes to bed, but I usually save them for her. It takes longer and might even be twice the work, but she loves it and is learning so much! She sweeps the floor, helps me put clothes away, and even does dishes. (Ok, maybe she just likes to play in the bubbles, but she is always there right beside me! :) We use all natural cleaners like vinegar and tea tree oil, so she even helps me scrub the bathrooms! Cooking is absolutely her favorite thing to do. Karis has put her little fingers in everything that I have cooked ever since she was big enough to stand on a chair by me at the counter. She is actually getting to be quite a helper now because she knows the names of all my cooking utensils and can hand me things. If I am chopping vegetables, then I give her the My Safe Cutter from Pampered Chef and she just saws away at her own little carrot. Sometimes it can be frustrating, like today when we were making Healthy Chocolate Candy (her potty training treat :) and she sneezed right in the pan. But it’s always so much more exciting to do it with my toddler!

2. Singing – my toddler learns through song better than anything else! I always have songs in my head, so when Karis was very young, I just started singing them out-loud to her. She already knows so many hymn/worship songs by heart and will randomly start singing "Holy, Holy, Holy," "Tis' So Sweet," or "My Jesus I Love Thee" while doing dishes or swinging outside. It melts my heart. I know that she doesn’t completely understand what the words mean yet, but I hope that as her understanding grows over time those words will be as special to her as they are to me. I thought I would try to teach her Bible Verses, but my stubborn 2-year old had absolutely no interest whatsoever until I put it to a melody and started singing the Bible Verse. Now she begs me to sing it over and over! Songs are also great for teaching the alphabet, numbers, etc. My Mom is a speech teacher and made me a copy of one of her teaching Cd's, Sounds Like Fun. There is one song that goes through each sound that a letter makes and a word using those sounds. Within a week, Karis could make every sound on the song and was singing the whole thing to me from memory! It is also a very mellow CD and is great for calming my girls down on car trips :) 

3. Reading – I started reading to Karis when she was first born and now she begs me to read to her all day long. We start our day off by reading together for at least a half hour, but usually longer. It’s the only time all day that my busy toddler sits still and she just soaks up the words on the page! So many times when she is repeating words that I read to her, I think to myself, “there is no way that she would have learned that word in our every day life because we just don’t talk about that topic very often.” Books make her excited about things she has never even seen! I thought I’d share a couple of books that seem to have taught her the most. All of these can probably be found at your public library (and most libraries have a fantastic method of requesting books online that you can pick up at your convenience!)

My First Bob Books – These are cute little colorful books with silly pictures and stories. Karis loved the Alphabet set when we got it at 18 months, and she started really loving the Pre-Reading Skills set about the time she turned two. But even before she could completely follow the stories she loved flipping through the cute little books and looking at the silly pictures. I went ahead and bought them because they are all bound together in a fat cover at the library and Karis really enjoyed having all the separate little books to flip through so much more.

My “A” Sound Box books – There is a “sound box” book for every letter and Karis thinks they are so much fun! Because of these books, she has started picking out letters in other books that we read!

My Very First Library by Eric Carle – These are fun because the board book is cut in half to enable the child to read it on his own, kind of like a puzzle. For instance, Karis sees the blue top page and will flip through to find the matching blue bird on one of the bottom pages. The library includes colors, shapes, words, and numbers. 

Anything by Dr. Seuss – I have been so amazed that my busy toddler will sit through several of these long books at a time. She absolutely loves the Cat in the Hat, The Diggingest Dog, and especially Go! Dog Go! The last one is my favorite because it taught her prepositions correctly at a really young age.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear – I love this book because of the repetition and color recognition. I started reading it to Karis when she was just days old and so far, this is the only book that Karis can read completely on her own.

4. Coloring – It sounds simple, but it is really the best preparation for writing I can do with her! And I love it; it is so relaxing! I color with her and help fix her fingers if she forgets the correct way to hold the crayon. We “chat” about the picture we are coloring, the color of our crayon, or sing whatever song pops into her head. It is definitely one of my favorite things to do with my girl!

Well, this post ended up being a lot longer than I expected, but I hope that I was able to convey that teaching a toddler does not have to be hard work at all – it can be pure fun and a completely natural part of your everyday routine!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A More Gentle Transition

(Warning: long post! :) I have been dreading this day for a long time -- the day when I have to transition Karlie from the swaddle. Mark and I love swaddling our babies. On our first night home from the hospital with Karis, we tried to just lay her down in her crib and she screamed and screamed. The minute we swaddled her, she was a happy, asleep baby! We kept it up and believe it or not, Karis slept in her swaddle for almost 7 months! I know that it helped her sleep through the night at an early age. I also rock my babies to sleep, which is controversial, but I love it and don't care. I just can't let my babies cry it out at an early age. I tried it with Karis at 6 1/2 months, and it didn't work and we both were emotional wrecks til I gave it up and did my own gradual thing. (You can read about it HERE if you are interested.) I know CIO works for some people, but NOT ME! I just can't handle hearing my baby hysterical. It makes ME hysterical :) After Karis was used to going to sleep on her own, however, I did let her CIO if she woke up at night because I knew she was ok. But learning to sleep in a totally new way all by herself was just too traumatic for both of us! Anyways, Karlie has been a fabulous sleeper so I delayed this transition way to long once again... but we managed ok and once again I learned a lot and thought I would share :) As I found out with Karis, transitioning from the swaddle to back sleep is no fun because their arms are still flailing, waking themselves up. Karlie has been rolling back and forth from back to belly for some time now, so I knew it was safe to put her on her belly to sleep. I've also been reading The No Cry Sleep Solution, which I highly recommend. I don't agree with a lot of what she said, especially because she's a big fan of co-sleeping and that has always scared me to death, but the book really made me think and gave me a lot of ideas for how to do this transition in a gentle way. So here's what we did and although it was difficult, I am glad we did it the way we did : Day 1: Karlie has no concept of sleeping on her belly so I decided to bounce her to sleep in the sling and then put her down on her belly asleep. This way she would get used to the idea of sleeping on her belly without fighting it with screams and tears. It worked easily and she took all her naps on her belly without any fuss. We gave up on night sleep, however, because she had not learned to go to sleep on her belly and kept waking up every hour and we were too tired to keep it up. So we just swaddled her and decided to wait to do it at night until she was doing well with naps :) Day 2: This was the day I feared the most -- putting her on her belly awake and trying to get her to go to sleep. I rubbed her back and sang to her til she finally put her head down. I picked her up and snuggled her whenever she got really upset and put her down as soon as she was comforted, starting the process again. But I was amazed that it only took about 30 minutes the first time!! It took 15 minutes the second nap and only seconds the third nap! (Note to self -- this is waaaaayyy easier at 4 1/2 months than 6 1/2 months!! :) Day 3: Karis came down with a horrible fever and wanted to be held all day long and was just pitiful. Needless to say I gave up the transition temporarily because I just didn't have the time to do it... A month later: yes, feel free to laugh at me for procrastinating again; I deserve it :) Anyways, this time I did pretty much the same thing with very similar results. But we had a major poblem: She kept waking herself up by knocking her paci out of her mouth! We didn't have this problem with Karis (I guess because she was older) but I quickly realized that we were going to have to break her of the paci. I actually love the fact that my girls took a paci and Karis had no trouble whatsoever giving it up when I took it away at 15 months. (Read THIS POST to see my thoughts on pacis and how Karis gave it up.) So I wasn't excited about the idea, but Karlie obviously wasn't going to learn to sleep as long as she was addicted to her paci. I put up with her frequent wakings for 3 days to make sure she was used to sleeping on her belly. I know it would probably have been faster to do it all at once, but I felt better about taking it a step at a time for a more gentle transition. The first day that I took away all her pacis, I stayed in there with her and rubbed her back while she screamed. It was pretty miserable -- she was trying to suck on anything she could, biting at the sheet, her little lovey, etc. I felt so bad for her. We had decided that I would not go in to help her at night, though, because she really needed to learn to put herself back to sleep. She did scream for about 20 minutes, but did fall back asleep on her own. I helped her fall asleep without the paci again the next day, and after that I let her cry it out. Yes, I did. I felt like I had helped her as much as I could and she had to learn to go to sleep on her own. It took three 1/2 days before she was going down easily and she still fusses a little, but my little girl is now paci-less and swaddle-less! I'm both relieved and a lttle sad -- I will definitely miss all those hours rocking her to sleep. Next time around: I still plan to swaddle and rock every baby the Lord gives me. It just makes them feel so secure and loved and I love it every minute of it! And I will always do a gradual transition. But I will probably transition earlier so that it is not such a big ordeal. It was definitely a lot easier at 4 1/2 months than later when I did it at 6 months!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Learning about nutrition: favorite books

Most of you know that I've gotten really interested in nutrition ever since my toddler started eating food. The most thorough book in that arena is Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and I highly recommend it.  I learned so much from reading it and it totally changed my mindset about food. However, it is long and a little overwhelming. It makes you want to completely change your diet, but its just too much to do at once. So it should be on your reading list, but just not the first book you pick up. There are a couple of others I'd recommend first:

Another one of my favorite books is Eat Fat, Lose Fat by Mary Enig. This book is an easy read and is awesome! It explains why the current low-fat diet is so bad for you and why your body needs "good fats" like high quality coconut oil, olive oil, and butter. And guess what? Eggs are awesome, too! (See why I like this book? :) The book also contains a bunch of good recipes that I use regularly, especially the cereal and granola recipes. I'd recommend this book to anyone, whether he wants to lose weight or not!

I've just discovered a new favorite author: Nina Planck. She wrote 2 books about nutrition that are easy to read, thorough, and actually make you feel like eating healthily is feasible. These are the 2 books I'd recommend anyone start with. Real Food: What to Eat and Why is the best nutrition book I've read for someone just learning about nutrition. She is honest about her journey to understanding nutrition and very personable and understanding. My only complaint is that she comes from somewhat of an evolutionary mindset, but her research is good nonetheless.

Real Food for Mother and Baby: The Fertility Diet, Eating for Two, and Baby's First Foods is a book I wish I had read before I ever even tried to get pregnant. Did you know that your body actually needs fat in order to conceive? Or that soy products can cause infertility? Or that pregnant women need meat and salt, not iron supplements? Delaying the introduction of certain solid foods doesn’t prevent allergies. Cereals are not the best foods for tiny eaters; meat and egg yolks are better. From conception to two years, the body’s overwhelming needs are for quality fat and protein, not for carrots and low-fat dairy. Yep, I learned a lot from this book and cannot recommend it highly enough if you are thinking about getting pregnant or have a baby under 2 years. Its my new favorite book!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

toddler book fav

Ok, I have a new favorite set of books for my toddler and I just have to share it with you. Ever since teaching preschool, I've loved anything by Eric Carle. Kids of all ages seems to love the bright-colored pics and simple phrases. I recently bought her his "My Very First Library" set of books. It was super reasonably priced at Amazon and has 4 awesome books inside about first words, colors, shapes, and numbers. They are so neat because they are cut in half so that the child has to match up the color with an animal of that color or a word with the correct picture, etc. (if that didn't make sense, just clink on the link to read the Amazon description :) Anyways, my toddler and I both love them. I started out making it a game for her. With the word book, I would say the word and then ask, "is this a sun?" She would grin and shake her head "no" and we would move onto the next picture til she found the right one. She thinks its so much fun! I have always done the sign for "no" with her (mainly for discipline purposes :) but have recently gotten out of the habit. And I never did "yes" with her very much. But I decided to bring it back as we read this book and introduce "yes" and she picked it up in just a few pages. She really thinks these books are so much fun and is learning so quickly that I just had to give my thumbs up for the books :)

Friday, April 3, 2009

5 favorite natural remedies

Last week, my toddler woke up sneezing like crazy, with snot going everywhere. And she was a little fussy. So I immediately gave her my top five natural remedies and within a couple hours she was back to her normal self. I'm serious! Now she might not have really had anything really bad going on yesterday, but these steps have worked so many times that I thought I should share. Honestly, since I've started doing these things, the only time she has had more than a sniffle or a cough in the past year is when she got that horrible H,F, and M virus. In May, it will have been a year since she had to see a doctor. So these things are totally worth trying! I give credit to my favorite POH blog and my friend Beth for getting me started on these natural remedies.

1. Oregano Oil -- Be sure to get the concentrated bottle and check the label to make sure there is no olive oil in it or it won't work. A little bottle will last FOREVER. The reason it works so well is because it's a HOT herb and the heat from this oil will kill the bacteria inside the body. There is a special way to take this oil though, so do not just drop it in your mouth. You will feel like you've just poisoned yourself. For children: rub the oil on the bottom of one foot. The bottom of our feet are so porous and you'll be surprised how this works. (I know, it's sounds so strange.) Be sure to cover the feet with socks for you DO NOT want your child putting his/her foot in the mouth with this oil on it. Footed-pjs work well, along with the soft-soled leather shoes(hard for infants to remove). If you're an adult, use a dixie cup, add only an ounce of water, drop only three drops into the water, drink it down fast and follow it with a spoonful of peanut butter. Why peanut butter? Water will repel off of the oil, so guzzling a glass of water will do you no good, for you will feel like you have just eaten the biggest jalapeno of your life. You need something that you #1 don't have to chew and can swallow right away and #2 something the oil will stick to and remove it from your mouth. Diluting is absolutely necessary.

2. Garlic – It has great anti-viral, antibiotic properties. When you feel like you're getting a cold, chop up several cloves of garlic into pill sizes and swallow them three times a day. You can't even taste it since you're not chewing it. For children, cut open a clove and rub the wet part of the clove on the bottom of the other foot . I’ve also read that if you rub a mosquito bite with garlic, it will stop itching.But I’m still waiting for my first bite of the spring to try that out 
Eating raw cloves can help the body fight off almost any kind of infection. Add garlic to a simple vegetable or chicken broth for almost any sickness. For ear infections, put a few drops of garlic juice in the affected ear. Warm a clove of garlic in a spoonful of olive oil, then when it is cooled to body temperature, dripped it into their ear.
3. Grapefruit Seed Extract -- I put about 3 drops of this in some juice. Grapefruit seed extract stimulates the immune system. It is gentle yet preserves the integrity of your intestinal bacteria. GSE also helps alkalize the body which is important because disease cannot live in an alkaline environment within the body.

4. Cod Liver Oil -- We take this everyday, but I up the dose a little when one of us shows signs of getting sick

5. Coconut oil – We use this a lot anyways, but I try extra hard to get it in our diet when we are sick. It has antibacterial properties and is just so good for us in so many ways! My husband will just eat spoonfuls of it like it is candy. For my toddler, I drown her pancakes, oatmeal, muffins, etc, in it.  We also use it instead of mayonnaise on sandwiches.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Disciplining an almost 2 year old...

We have really been struggling with discipline lately. Its mainly because my toddler likes to play so much and makes a game out of everything we ask her to do. For example, she wants Daddy to chase her instead of coming when called, etc. We used to tell her no and spank her little thigh immediately, but it just doesn't seem effective anymore. So we talked and prayed about it and knew we needed a new method of discipline. We plan to follow the guidelines in Shepherding a Child's Heart by Ted Tripp and use these charts to really reach her heart rather than just force obedience. But we don't think she has the understanding or attention span yet to jump right to those methods. So I talked to my sis-in-law who has shepherded 2 children through this stage already, and she was really encouraging to me and gave me a lot to think about. So we came up with a simple, abridged version of the SaCH method and it really seems to be working! When I ask my toddler to do something and she doesn't, I tell her to look at me and say, "Sweetie,  Mama told you to do.... Did you do it? She will seriously and sadly shake her head no, and it is so precious! Then I tell her that I have to spank her because she didn't obey and she puts her hands on me or a chair, I pull down her pants, and give her 3 swats. She cries and I hold her and tell her that I love her, etc. Its so hard to do because she is so stinkin' cute and so sweet by this point! But I can tell a difference already. Please pray for us and me especially, because it is really hard for me to put the baby down to discipline my toddler when the baby is nursing or almost asleep, etc. But if I don't discipline her right away she will never learn.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease: Not Fun!

 I thought there might be some Mommies out there who have never seen the hand, foot, and mouth virus and would want to know how it goes.  There are two distinct types:  The spots on the body and the sores in the mouth.  I've had two different children get this illness and react in those two completely different ways but the fever/ fussiness pattern remained the same:  my toddler was fussy and didn't want to eat the first day, had a high fever days 2-4, seemed a little better day 5, was a miserable, fussy baby day 6, popped out with a several tiny spots on her hands and feet or in her mouth on day 7, and had the full blown spots climbing up her arms and ankles or screamed in pain at the open wounds in her mouth on day 8. She kept a low-grade fever days 5-10 and was pretty miserable and fussy. The spots are definitely painful.  But both times they got better right around day 10 or 11.

Friday, February 13, 2009

My Experience: Medicated vs. Natural Birth

I feel like I learned a lot about different options during labor and delivery and hope this post might help some future Moms make wise choices and avoid some mistakes I made. With my first delivery, I opted to take the epidural and super pain meds they gave me after delivery (you can read about it HERE). After much research and reading, I decided that it would be better for the baby and for myself if I gave birth naturally the second time. I’m not going to go into all those reasons right now; I’m not trying to persuade anyone. (Mainly because I don't want you cursing my name when you go through transition, ha, ha:) It has to be a decision you make on your own; not because someone else did it. I would just encourage you to do your own reading. Some books that I found helpful: THIS one and THIS one. THIS website was very helpful as well as I searched about specific issues and was writing my birth plan

The major differences:

1. I will admit up front that the epidural made the last part of my first birth a very nice experience. I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect after the meds kicked in and thought that pushing was actually enjoyable and so exciting! In contrast, without the epidural, I was pushing more out of desperation, to get the pain to end! Also, the first time it took them an hour to sew me up because I had a 4th degree tear. I was enjoying my new baby and didn’t even know they were giving me stitches until I heard my Mom asked the doc how many stitches she was giving me. This time, I only got a 2nd degree tear, but it was extremely uncomfortable and painful while they were stitching me up. (I did receive localized numbing after the birth where they were stitching, but it still hurt!) But other than the huge pain issue, which I think anyone can manage to survive if I did :) , going naturally was a far better experience in every way.

2. Although many will say that an epidural will not slow down labor, I definitely don’t agree. I went from a 15 hour labor the first time to a 6 hour labor the 2nd time. I know that much of that was due to this being my second baby and my body knowing more what to do, but I really think it would have been a longer labor had I taken the epidural. Also, with the epidural I would not have been able to walk, and when I walked the halls I went from 4 cm to 8cm in 45 min. I think I would have stalled at 4cm for who knows how long if I hadn’t been able to walk!

3. I really think that being able to control my pushing more helped me to tear less the second time. The first time, my doc actually told me not to push hard that last push, but I couldn’t feel how hard I was pushing! But this time (after the initial shock of how powerful the contractions were) I was able to control my pushing and I didn’t tear as much.

4. I cannot tell you how much easier the recovery was without the epidural! I could walk immediately (versus not even be able to feel my legs.) I took a shower within a couple of hours (versus the next day) which made me feel so much better!!! I could actually feel when I needed to go to the bathroom (which was a huge issue for me last time – the epidural and super pain meds I received the first time totally stopped me up for over a week!) And believe it or not, I think going naturally actually made me lose more weight at the hospital: I gained about 20 pounds both pregnancies. The first time, I lost 10 at the hospital and the other 10 later. This time I lost all 20 at the hospital. I had read previously that some women actually gain weight at the hospital because of all the fluids they receive. I really think it was because I didn’t have that IV pumping fluids into me the whole time that I lost so much weight immediately. And because I was able to be more mobile more quickly. Lastly, with my first birth I experienced an unbelievable pressure headache about a week after Karis was born that lasted almost a week. Every time I leaned over the slightest bit, I thought my head was going to explode! It was bad enough that I almost passed out in Walmart when I bent down to pick up a can of food. After reading about epidurals, I really think the headache came from that. I didn't get any pressure headache this time at all since I wasn't on any pain meds!

Some tips I learned if you want to give birth naturally:

1. Do your research! You have to be fully convinced that this is the only way or you will give in when the pain hits. If you know you definitely want to give birth naturally, read THIS book. It was a little weird in parts, but really helps you believe that giving birth is a natural process and that every woman can do it. Half of the book is devoted to stories of women who gave birth naturally and it is just so interesting and encouraging! And if you are like me and your birth plan opts out of some routine shots and drops for your baby, bring a copy of your reasons to the hospital with you. I was seriously confronted on my birth plan AFTER delivery. Come on, I could hardly remember my own birthday after all that sleep deprivation, hard work, and excruciating pain, let alone my research! I was confronted immediately after birth and also woken up around 6:30 am the next morning by a phone call from the pediatrician’s office asking why I had refused normal shots and drops. Give me a break! I finally had to say, “I’m sorry; I am so tired that I honestly don’t remember exactly why I decided to forgo those drops, but I know I did my research and had my reasons so I am going to stick with my birth plan.” It would definitely have been easier if I had brought copies of my research with me.

2. Talk about it. Tell everyone you plan to do it naturally. If you are like me (not the least bit brave, but a good bit prideful and stubborn :), this really works. I actually talked about it so much that in my mind, pain meds were simply not an option. I can honestly say that I never even once considered asking for pain meds. Even when going through the incredible pain of transition, asking for meds never even ran through my head.

3. Consider hiring a doula. Yes, they are expensive – try to find a friend or a doula-in-training who will give you a lower price. I was lucky enough to find a certified doula who would give me a break in price because I opted out of the pre-labor visits and post-partum visit, and because it was my 2nd birth so she knew it wouldn’t take as long. Instead of the normal $550, she only charged me $250. Was she worth it? Every penny! My husband was not keen on shelling out that much money at first, but afterwards he said over and over how glad he was that she was there. (Especially since he pretty much zonked out when I went through transition and was on the floor with smelling salts the whole time I was pushing! lol :) And my Mom, who got there right before I went through transition, said she was amazed at how much more calm and relaxed I was than with my first labor. The main thing that the doula did was to help me relax. Which might not sound like much, but it was amazing the difference it made in the pain! It wasn't any weird relaxation technique -- she basically would just tell me which body parts she saw me tensing up. Usually, my shoulders made the most difference. As soon as she would tell me to relax my shoulders, and I did, I would feel intense relief. She also taught me how to breathe though the contractions like they were waves. Which does sound weird, I know, but once again, it helped somehow. I can't really explain it, but it was a huge difference from when I tried to do it by myself with Karis. And she showed Mark how to massage my back muscles that were tense from the contractions. I know these may sound like little things, but when you are in that much pain, they help a great deal! Now we probably won’t hire a doula again, since she taught Mark how to do it all, but for the first time, it was well worth the money.

4. Lastly, I would greatly recommend that you give birth at a birthing center that utilizes midwives or just do a home birth with a midwife. This is definitely going to be my plan next time and here are some examples of why:

A midwife will encourage a natural birth rather than discourage it: When I arrived at the hospital, they asked me to give my pain level a number, with ten being the highest. (I hate that question, by the way :) I had labored at home as long as possible and was honestly in more pain than ever in my life, so I said 9. The nurse (who had just read my birth plan) looked at me and said, “Well if it’s a 9 now, then you ought to go ahead and take the epidural right now because there is no way you are going to make it without pain meds because its going to get a whole lot worse!” Not very encouraging for someone who honestly didn’t know how she could handle much more pain!

I believe that the nurses and doctors would rather you be medicated because you are a lot easier to handle. When I first told the various doctors at my OB office that I wanted to go naturally, they all tried to talk me out of it! I couldn’t understand why until I was in the delivery room. When I had the epidural, I was calm and could follow their directions easily. In fact, my OB was helping another lady give birth so I did the majority of my pushing with the nurse. When Karis’ head crested, the nurse instructed me to stop and wait for the doc to come in. It was about 10 minutes before she was there and I could continue. There is no way in the world I would have been able to wait for the doc without the epidural! It was hard enough to wait for the next contraction because I was so desperate to get her out so the pain would end! And this time, it took me quite a while to even hear what they were telling me to do once I went through transition. I was so overcome with the pain at first that I tensed up and let out my breath in little spurts instead of holding it. And it really took a couple of minutes before I could even hear what they wanted me to do, let alone be able to follow it! I remember saying “I’m sorry” several times because I knew they were giving me directions but I couldn’t focus enough to follow. It just took me a while to get myself together to be able to push. So I understand why it is easier for the hospital staff if you are medicated.

A midwife is also more experienced and comfortable with different laboring positions. Did you know that lying on your back with your feet up in the air is one of the most painful positions possible for a woman in labor? My baby was turned slightly so to make her go the right way, they helped me to a hands and knees position. It worked, and (after the pain of getting there) I actually felt a lot more comfortable in that position. My doctor let me try pushing in that position for one or two contractions, but then she said that she just couldn’t help me as much in that position. So I pushed the rest of the time in the “normal” position. I really think a mid-wife would have been comfortable with me in other positions and I would have been way more comfortable as well!

Finally, no matter what kind of birth you want to have, my biggest advice is to pray about it. Pray specifically about every single detail you are concerned with. One of my biggest concerns actually had nothing to do with the actual birth – it was about my toddler. Her grandparents (who are really the only ones who ever babysit) live 3 hours away. I was so worried that my water would break again and we would have to rush to the hospital and drop her off with someone that had never taken care of her. I prayed about the timing of this birth pretty much every day. And it was amazing the way God worked it out. I was so sick the day I went into labor that her grandparents came down to help out, not even knowing I was going to the hospital that night! So they were already there when we left! Isn’t God amazing the way he answers prayers! Another example of God's goodness: that discouraging nurse who told me I ought to just take the epidural changed shifts right before I went through transition. And the new nurse was absolutely wonderful! God knew I definitely needed someone nice and encouraging through the most painful part. I may not have had everything go exactly as I had planned and hoped, but I definitely saw God’s faithfulness and provision throughout my labor and delivery.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

My 2nd Birth Story

Several of you have asked about how this labor and delivery compared to my first, since I did it naturally without any pain meds this time. So I decided to just write out exactly what happened this time, and then tomorrow, I will give my thoughts on the two births. Just a warning: this is a birth story and not for the faint-hearted. And its pretty long. If you are a guy, just skip this post and scroll down to the pics.

On Friday, January 16th, I woke up feeling completely normal. I walked into the kitchen to get breakfast, and I immediately started feeling sick to my stomach. I tried to continue on with my day, taking Karis to soccer. While there, my nausea continued and my Braxton Hicks contractions (which I had been having for the past 3 weeks) seemed stronger. But I started feeling achy and having chills like I had a flu virus or something, so I really thought I was just getting sick. (Keep in mind that with Karis’ birth, my labor began with my water breaking rather than normal signs of labor, so I really didn’t know what my body’s signs of labor were). Karis was 5 days overdue and I was still a week before my due date, so I really didn't think that I would go into labor soon. By lunchtime, I realized that I simply could not take care of Karis by myself -- I just felt so achy and nauseous. I got her down for a nap and called Mark to come home early from work because I just couldn't keep up with her. He called his parents to come down to help me with Karis the next day because on the weekends he works all night long and has to sleep all day Saturday.

That afternoon, I only felt worse and my contractions seemed to grow much stronger, but they weren't consistent enough to make me think it was labor. It crossed my mind, but I was actually praying that it wasn't time yet because I didn't want to go into labor all weak and sick, especially since I was determined to do it without the epidural! I really thought I was coming down with the flu because I couldn't even walk around without feeling light-headed.

I went to bed about 8:00 and actually slept a little, but soon the contractions started waking me up. I finally just gave up and got out of bed at 10 pm when Mark's folks got here. I knew the contractions were definitely stronger and hurt my back way more than the Braxton hicks, but I was still afraid to tell Mark to stay home from work. (So silly!) So he left at 10:30 pm and I tried to get some sleep. Impossible! These contractions were getting stronger and closer together. I was kicking myself for telling Mark to go onto work.

I gave up on sleep, and just tried to distract myself by fooling around on the computer and gathering everything on my list for the hospital. And the weird thing was, all my flu-like symptoms had magically disappeared. I had the energy to walk around and bounce around on my birthing ball! Around 2:00 am the contractions were so close and strong that I knew we would be going to hospital soon. I had really wanted to labor as long as possible at home, but Mark was working about 30 minutes away, right near the hospital. I wanted so badly to be with him, but it would be silly for him to drive back to the house since I would be leaving for the hospital so soon. Luckily, Mark's Mom woke up and kept me company and timed my contractions for me. Around 3:30, Mark's Mom started getting worried that if I waited any longer, I would be having the baby in the car (ha, ha, I wish it had happened that fast! :), so we decided that Mark's Dad would take me on to the hospital and Mark and my doula would meet us there.

When I got to the hospital, I was having a contraction when the nurse came to take me to triage. She took one look at me and decided to go ahead and put me in a birthing room instead. I was disappointed, though, to find that I was only at 4 cm. I wanted to get up and walk, but they wanted me hooked up to everything initially to make sure everything was fine. This is where I got frustrated. I had given them my birth plan which clearly stated how I wanted to move freely about, but every time I asked to be unhooked, they had some excuse for needing to continue to monitor me. Plus, I was GBS positive, so I had to have that antibiotic IV for an hour. So things were not quite what I had hoped, but I knew God was in control and it would all work out.

For whatever (I think ridiculous) reasons, it was at least 2 hours before the nurses finally unhooked me and I could walk around to try to speed things up. They warned me to stay within sight of them because the baby was so low that they were afraid she would just come right out while walking. I wish it had been that easy, ha, ha! I speed walked in between contractions and Mark held me up while I endured the contractions. My doula helped a great deal throughout my labor, but I’ll write more about that in my post tomorrow.

After about 45 minutes of walking, the nurses wanted to check me again and I was 8 cm!They were excited, but I was utterly exhausted and had hoped it was time to push. The doctor came in and said that I was so close and if she broke my water, she was sure I would go to 10 immediately. I thought about it for a couple of minutes because originally I had not wanted them to break my water. But the main reason for that was because once my water breaks, the hospital staff usually only gives you 12 hours before demanding to give you pitocin, which I did not want! (With Karis, they told me I had one more hour to progress or they would give me the pitocin. We all prayed and when they came back to give it to me, I was at 10!) But it didn’t sound like there was any chance of me being in labor that long this time, so I agreed to let her break my water.

Immediately, I hit the transition phase and I cannot describe to you the intense power of the contractions at that point. Definitely pain, but even more so, power. It was unbelievable. I remember thinking that next time we should definitely just adopt and moaning, “I have to push! I have to push!” The nurses told me not to, but the urge to push was overwhelming.They checked me and I was at 9. The nurse said she felt Karlie’s ear and she was turned slightly wrong so I needed to change positions to make her turn. Somehow we managed to move me around and immediately she turned and it was time to push!
Karlie Sue DeLong finally arrived at 8:04 am and as soon as she was in my arms I knew I wanted to do this again. And again. And perhaps and again and again! Even though I was in serious pain as the doc was stitching me up, holding her in my arms made it all worthwhile!Its amazing how much a person can love a tiny little baby at first sight!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

My Natural Birth Plan #1

Birth Plan
Our overall goal in the labor and delivery process is for both Mama and our baby to be healthy and safe. We hope to accomplish that goal through a natural delivery with as few interventions as possible. We have included some of our wishes below, understanding that this is a guide and that unforeseen circumstances may require a change in the birth plan.Thank you so much for your support and guidance in the birth of our child.
· We expect the husband, our doula, and Mom, to be in the room with us during labor and childbirth. 
· We plan on a natural unmedicated childbirth. As a general approach, we prefer that any medical intervention necessary be taken incrementally, staring with the most minimally “invasive” approach, and going from there only after discussion with Mom and Dad.
· Please offer non-medical choices for coping with labor. We preferfreedom of movement and mobility to increase comfort during contractions. Position during labor and delivery is Mom's choice, with the guidance of the doula. This includes the use of a birthing ball, squat bar, and shower.
· We prefer very little intermittent monitoring with an external fetal monitor. We very much want to avoid internal fetal monitoring unless there is an emergency.
· Mom tested positive for GBS at 36 weeks. We would prefer to decline the antibiotics and instead do a simple blood test on the baby’s cord blood (or do a simple heelstick if we miss the window for cord blood testing) to check for C-reactive protein. If negative, nothing else needs to be done. If positive, please appropriately treat baby for infection.
· We would like to eat and drink light foods and liquids as desired. Mom does not want an IV unless there is an emergency. If necessary, Meagan will accept having a device (heparin lock) inserted into a vein so that an IV can be started up quickly when needed, but without the IV being connected until it is needed. Mom does not want a catheter, either, but would like the freedom to use the restroom.
· Because we want labor to progress at a natural pace, we hope to avoid artificial induction or augmentation of labor (e.g., amniotomy, stripping of membranes, pitocin).
· We would like for the nurse or doctor to do perineal massage andwarm compresses whenever possible during labor and delivery because Meagan tore completely last time and we would like to avoid that this time. We also want to avoid episiotomy, unless necessary for the safety of the baby. If an episiotomy is suggested, please perform only after discussion with parents.
· I will want local anesthesia for repair of tears.
· We hope to avoid the use of forceps or vacuum. If labor stalls or the baby seems stuck, Mom would like to try changing positions and other methods first.
· We view a Cesarean Birth as a last resort and only because of imminent danger to Mom or the baby. If it becomes necessary, we prefer to have husband, in the room seated at mother’s head during surgery. We would like the baby to be held by Dad as soon after birth as possible, and Dad will remain with baby. We plan to breastfeed as soon as possible!
· Umbilical cord is not clamped or cut until after the cord has stopped pulsating.
· After the birth, we would prefer the baby to be laid directly on the mother’s chest without washing and allowed to nurse as soon as possible. All testing can be performed while baby lies on mother’s chest. Parents should be present for all newborn procedures!
· Delivery of the placenta is spontaneous, without the use of Pitocin. Other methods of encouraging delivery of placenta (fundal massage, immediate breast feeding) are used.
· No eye-drops, antibiotics, or Vitamin K injection will be administered unless there is an emergency and any procedures done to the baby should be discussed and thoroughly explained ahead of time to Parents. We are prepared to sign a waiver on this matter.
· Hepatitis B vaccine is not administered!
· We prefer to breastfeed only—so no bottles, pacifiers, artificial nipples, formula or water.
· We would like for the baby to remain with in our room with us at all times.