14 Weeks Pregnant Already? (Unassisted Pregnancy Journal)

The belly is obvious, and soon I will feel kicking (I usually feel my babies around 16 weeks). I cannot believe the 1st trimester is over already. I was feeling really exhausted and sick, so I am thankful to be mostly back to my normal self again. Of course I am still exhausted, but the typical I-have-four-kids kind.

So far this pregnancy has been totally unassisted. I have never gone 14 weeks without even an official confirmation of pregnancy before. It honestly feels very normal and casual. I can’t relate to the constant worry that many American moms experience during pregnancy, and I myself have felt before. I think perhaps because most women don’t have more than two babies, they never get to the point of “eh, it’s all good”! There are the rare ones who find UC and freebirth with their first baby, and for them I am happy.

My husband wants me to get the anatomy scan at 18 weeks to check on the baby, and he wants to know the sex. We have always found out the sex of babies (girl, girl, girl, boy). I would like a surprise this time! I understand his desire to check out the baby, and I agree to some extent, but I just “know” everything is fine and do not really want to subject myself the medical system for no reason. I have to think about it, and weigh how much it would bother me with how important it is to husband. If I were to go through with the scan, assuming all is well, that would be the first and last assistance I would receive.

The girls are very excited about the prospect of a new baby, and tell me daily they hope it’s twins. I don’t have a feeling it’s twins, even though the belly is bigger than usual at this stage for me, that is probably because it isn’t my first rodeo.

Anyway, happy 2nd trimester to me! (and the baby)

Shalom.

 

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New Faith after Shavout

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Our Creator calls us to a life that is not always comfortable. It can be risky. It requires relinquishing a certain amount of control and doing what you know is right instead of what feels safe.

You could lose friends. You could cause family members to question your decisions, responsibility, and even your sanity.

Because living a life of faith doesn’t makes sense in this world.

The Apostle Paul tells us that faith in Messiah Yahushua (Jesus Christ) is foolishness to the gentiles. They think we are fools. We are pilgrims on this earth, yearning for our heavenly home.

Recently, Yahweh has been turning my world upside-down again. You see, I was baptized in a sparkling lake at the age of 21 and my life changed. I passed from death to new life. I became a child of the Most High. But I was still in many ways broken. I have had a walk that isn’t a straight line. I have had years of obedience pocketed by weeks or months of rebellion and confusion. But I am His, therefore he comes for me. I am that 100th sheep who went astray, but I was carried back on His shoulders.

The year of 2015 was a nightmare for me. My little life blew into pieces. My husband became very seriously mentally ill. There was so much pain. Abuse. Devastating loss. And then…

my relapse.

I relapsed mentally. I relapsed with addiction. I relapsed with my faith.

I was terrified. I went into PTSD mode. I lost control.

But in December of this year my husband and I came back to one another, after our own separate painful journey through relapse. My walls were up high. I was determined to take care of myself, and never allow myself to trust him again. I would do it all alone.

I went from a stay-at-home “quiverfull mom” to going to school 5 days a week while my children were in daycare. I missed them badly, and I gave up on my dream of homeschooling. I abandoned my faith community and set out by myself. I made money through my body like I did as a teenager. I convinced myself it was okay. I convinced myself I had to do this for the greater good of finical security. I had to provide for my children. I had to be strong and do it all myself. I told myself that it wasn’t wrong because I was doing what I had to do, given my circumstances.

But not of this was true. Not with Yahweh. I had other options, he always provides another way out. There is always the faithful and obedient choice. I was too scared. I was too damaged. I turned away.

Yet, slowly but surely those walls started to crack.

One day, I allowed myself to open myself up to new life. My husband and I have three little girls, and despite my mind yelling at me all the reasons why it would be horrible to get pregnant. Think of school! Money! Don’t trust anyone! I surrendered to that primal longing for life in my womb, a babe at my breast. And right away, a tiny being buried itself inside of my womb like a seed and blossomed.

Then, daycare didn’t work out my next semester because my work hours were not enough for financial help. I reluctantly and with great trepidation permitted my husband to watch the kids for me instead. I had to trust him. It was really hard.

I worked so hard during that semester, with my dream of becoming an R.N in sight. I did very well, but it cost a lot of time with my children. I could no longer take care of my home.

The Bible has many words of wisdom and commandment for mothers and wives. Many modern women bristle at the idea, but the Bible says we should be “keepers at home”. The famous Psalm 31 describes the wife whose worth is above rubies, and she cares for her home and family diligently.

I wasn’t at home very often, so I certainly couldn’t take care of it or my beloved family within its walls.

That hurt my heart, but still I heard that voice telling me “just push through school” and “you have to do it” and especially “don’t trust your husband, don’t trust Yahweh, trust only yourself”.

Yet, I completed that semester and I was in awe at how joyful it was to be home on break. I started to remember. I remembered what it felt like to take time and put all that effort into making our house and home. Teaching the children. Changing my focus from outside to right here, with my husband and children.

My heart began to soften. Those walls began to really crumble down.

Shavout/Pentacost came, and that longing inside of me grew to epic proportions. Unbeknownst to me my husband was also feeling called back to the walk of faith. We came together, and marveled at how Yahweh had been speaking the same things to us separately.

My husband had a terrible falling out with another man in our faith community while he was sick in 2015. I felt strongly that my husband should talk to him and fix that relationship. I never thought he would do it, because he was still so angry about what he perceived as this brother overstepping his boundaries of his friendship with me while he was gone. Nothing ever happened, but all of the pain from different experiences was put onto this brother.

Amazingly, my husband told me on the very day that I was considering these things that he wanted to call this brother and ask his forgiveness. I was in shock. I was blown away. This was such a major step of faith and we both thought of it at the same exact time. My husband called this brother and they immediately reconciled. All was forgiven. Love prevailed and they could move on.

I cried because it was so beautiful. I was such a revealing moment to me. I could trust Yahweh. He was speaking to us. He was making us into the people we are supposed to be.
Shavout/Pentacost is a time to remember, among other things, how the Israelites agreed to follow Torah and join in covenant relationship with Yahweh. It was when they heard all he had to say and they said “YES”.

YES, we believe.

Yes, we will follow you.

Yes, make us your people,

and you will be our God.

I said that along with them. I decided to let go of the pain. I let go of the FEAR. I let go of the mistrust. I am opening myself again. It is so freeing. The truth sets us free.

Freedom and safety doesn’t come through money, education, or saving for the future. Those things are not wrong or bad, but they can be if they cause us to sacrifice the most important thing; faith and the life we are called for.

I will be a mother of 4 in October of 2016. I will continue to dedicate myself to husband. I will be a better wife. I will stay clean and sober. I will leave fear and mistrust behind. I will live that foolish and peculiar life, in freedom and the shalom/peace that passes all understanding.

Shalom to you all.

Related Scripture Verses

Exodus 19:8 And all the people responded together, “We will do everything the YHWH has commanded.” So Moses brought the people’s answer back to the YHWH.

Titus 2:4,5 …and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled

I Have FOUR Children, and I Know What Causes it!

“Do you know what causes that?”

“Wow, your hands are full!”

“Are they all yours?”

Lately, I have noticed more of these kinds of comments when I’m out with my four little darlings. Maybe it’s because school is in and we homeschool so our family stands out even more during morning trips. Maybe it’s because my youngest is getting close to 1 year old, and causing mayhem. Maybe it’s the line of three little girls behind me like ducklings!

In any case, I hear it often now. People are genuinely surprised to see four children together with their mother. The fact is, most of the women my age who I grew up with do not have any children yet or at most 1 or 2. I have a veritable gaggle of kids compared to most 2 kid families these days. There isn’t anything wrong with a small family. but my little team raises eyebrows!

We went to the YMCA this week (just me and the kids) and we went swimming. After we swam, and I herded all the kids into the dressing room, an older woman stopped me my exclaiming “ALL YOURS?” My oldest at 6 years old piped up “Yep! All of us!”

The woman then offered to hold baby brother so I could more easily assist the girls in getting out of their wet suits and into dry pjs (easy for bedtime!). She was very kind, and helpful. She didn’t hide her amazement but it wasn’t meant in a negative way. Not all people who express their shock over our family are negative about it!

I think four is the magic “big family” number. It tips the scales in our society. Going out for pizza becomes too expensive with four. Your minivan gets full with four carseats/boosters. Four kids make you want to cry at your grocery bill. Four is..four! A lot.

Yet, it doesn’t always feel like a lot to me. I am an only child, and I always loved how it felt to be in a big family home. I loved how there was always something going on and people around. It felt safe and comfortable. The girls are very good with baby brother, and are already asking for another boy.  I told them that I can’t pick a boy or a girl, much to their disappointment!

Maybe I should start to coach the kids on hilarious comebacks to the “hands are full” and “are they all yours” comments. All in good fun, of course!

In the end, I love our family size and can’t imagine it any other way; weird stares and all!

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30 Reasons Why I am Choosing an Unassisted Birth for my 4th baby….

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  1. I am stronger than you think I am
  2. I refuse to allow myself to be abused during labor again
  3. I am healthy
  4. My baby is healthy
  5. Pregnancy is NOT a disease or illness
  6. Birth is a normal physiological process, not a medical emergency
  7. I am prepared for the worst, but will not expect the worst with no reason to
  8. I deserve to be comfortable
  9. I deserve privacy
  10. I deserve respect
  11. My baby deserves to be born into a calm environment
  12. My baby deserves to not be taken from mommy
  13. The pain is more manageable at home
  14. Intimacy between myself and my husband matters during birth
  15. I will not endure harassment, coercion, and disrespect in labor again
  16. I am stronger than I think I am
  17. I want my husband’s hands to be the first to touch our son
  18. I want to eat, walk, drink, and rest as I feel lead
  19. I believe my health and safety is at risk the moment I walk into an ER with a healthy body and normal pregnancy
  20. I am sick and tired of cervical checks
  21. I cannot stand those (not evidence-based) fetal monitor bands across my belly
  22. I do not want anyone telling me what to do with my body
  23. It will be powerful, difficult, life-changing and beautiful
  24. I know what is best for my baby, and would always put his health before mine
  25. I am sick and tired of defending myself against unwanted medical procedures
  26. Birth is not scary!
  27. 1 out of 3 women get major surgery, that is too high of a risk for me
  28. Most routine practices in American hospitals are NOT evidence-based medicine
  29. America’s maternal death rates are *rising*
  30. Peace instead of PTSD

Journey to Breastfeeding Part4 (Extended Breastfeeding/Toddler Nursing)

After I abruptly weaned Liora, my 13-month old daughter, my pregnancy continued normally. It took a month before Liora finally seemed to give up on asking me to nurse. I felt heartbroken over ending our nursing relationship long before she was ready, but I comforted myself with the knowledge that we had 13 beautiful months. My belly grew and before I knew it, I was ready to meet my third child (another baby girl)!

Zipporah was born when her big sister Noemi was 3 years old and Liora was 20 months. I assumed that after months of not nursing, and not asking to nurse, that Liora would never start again. But when Zipporah was 4 weeks old and we had established our breastfeeding relationship, I decided to offer Liora the opportunity to nurse. Part of me felt strange offering, if I am honest. I had never breastfed a toddler before and my newborn looked so little compared to her. Yet, in my mother’s heart I knew that she was still a “baby” and needed me just as much.

I resolved to offer and if she wanted to nurse, I would allow it. If she wasn’t interested, then I would let it go and be proud of the 13 months we had. To my surprise, Liora was not only interested, but she started nursing again as if she had never stopped! It quickly became a daily ritual for us, and then she began asking multiple times a day to nurse. I was thrilled to have the chance to breastfeed her until she was ready to stop!

I think that having the time to cuddle close with mommy and nurse helped to ease any feelings of jealous between Liora and her new baby sister. I realize that there are other ways to do that, but breastfeeding seemed to be the most natural and helpful way for us. I got over the feeling that Liora was “too big” to breastfeed rather quickly, and I enjoyed stroking her beautiful blond hair and having time where my wild toddler would sit peacefully with me.

Now that isn’t to say that were no problems, because as much as I was grateful to offer my toddler a time of rest and excellent nutrition, I could never nurse both her and the baby at the same time. The difference between a newborn latch and a toddler latch gave me the nursing aversion feelings when I tried to breastfeed them simultaneously. So, I stopped trying to nurse them together and as long as Liora was nursing alone I didn’t get those dreaded feelings.

The biggest issue we had was with nighttime nursing. At this point I was bed sharing with baby Zipporah who was about 3 months old and Liora was also spending at least half the night with us (hubby and I got a king size bed). Zipporah was nursing frequently during the night. I am not sure how often, but basically any time she stirred I gave her my breast and went back to sleep. But now Liora was also wanting to nurse and that caused some serious problems.

It would go like this;

  • Liora wakes up and starts nursing back to sleep
  • Zipporah starts crying to nurse
  • I try to unlatch Liora in order to nurse the screaming baby
  • Liora starts crying hysterically “NURSE NURSE NURSE!!!”
  • Zipporah is happy to be nursing but is now wide awake from her sister screaming
  • I try to unlatch Zipporah in order to calm Liora
  • Zipporah starts screaming
  • Cycle continues…

Now, why didn’t I just nurse them at the same time? First of all, the nursing aversion. I absolutely could not tolerate the sensation of tandem feeding my newborn and toddler. It just was not an option for me, I tried (really!). Second of all, I did attempt to override my horrific nursing aversion feelings and put my body into a contortionist position to tandem feed, again not working (my back, ouch!).

I made the decision that in order for me to continue breastfeeding Liora, who was by now 2 years old, I would need to night wean her. I realize this is a bit controversial. For some the fact that I choose to nurse a 2-year-old is controversial in and of itself. However, for others it is controversial to night wean a toddler when they aren’t ready. I personally felt that it would harm our nursing relationship if I struggled to resentfully night nurse Liora. I wanted to keep the wonderful daytime nursing sessions that we had, and continue to give her all the great benefits of my milk for as long as she desired. That said, I knew night nursing had to end.

I cannot say it was easy, but we did night wean. Because she was old enough to understand, I told her that from now on we would only nurse when “mr.sun is up”. I would nurse her right before bedtime and tell her “remember this the last time we nurse before mr.sun comes up again”. She seemed to understand what I was saying, and so when she asked to nurse later at night I would tell her “remember, we can nurse when mr.sun comes up but not now because its nighttime”. She cried and protested, and I felt so terrible about it. I almost gave in but I knew that would only confuse her and prolong the process. Eventually, she accepted me cuddling her in close during the night and as soon as she saw light enter the bedroom she would say “we can nurse now mr.sun is up!”

This is the thing, in my opinion, when it comes to breastfeeding a toddler or preschooler both mom and child need to be happy with the arrangements. Some mothers are content with nursing toddlers or preschoolers on demand, day and night. That is wonderful, and I truly wish I had the same feelings! But some mothers really need some space either at night or with limited feeding during the day. I believe that around 18 months old is when it is safe and acceptable to gently cut down or night wean. This is just my experience and opinion!

After night weaning, our nursing relationship continued in a really enjoyable manner. Liora is my wild child, so it was so convenient to have that one thing that would always calm her down. That one thing that turned my rough and tumble girl into a sweet little bundle in my lap. Nursing! It was also a relief whenever she got sick because I knew I could offer her something easy to digest and filled with wholesome nutrients and antibodies! When she went through picky stages, I knew she was getting my milk and therefore didn’t worry about it like I did with her older sister.

I nursed Liora and Zipporah together until just a few months ago, when my milk dried up from my 4th pregnancy. Liora was 3 years and 3 months old, so we had more than a year of a reestablished breastfeeding relationship. I was sad to end it, but I knew that I have limits during pregnancy when it comes to nursing after my milk is gone. She didn’t protest this time. She didn’t cry this time. She had cut down a lot on nursing by herself, and this time I felt she was okay with it. It didn’t feel rushed or forced, nor did I feel guilty or like I was stealing something from her that she deserved.

Liora still asks me every once in a while about nursing. I am currently 6 months pregnant, and I told her that if she wanted to try again after the baby is born, I would be willing to let her try. She will turn 4 right after the baby is born, and I don’t know if she will really want to nurse or if she will be able to latch correctly anymore. That said, I do feel open to allowing her the chance to nurse if she really wants it. I doubt I would be willing to nurse three little ones too often, so I would limit it to about once per day if she really wanted to. Again, those are just my personal limits and feelings. But would I feel comfortable nursing a 4-year-old? Yes, absolutely I would.

I believe that breastfeeding is a gift, in fact the Bible repeatedly refers to lactating breasts as a blessing. Women did not wean their little ones as babies, they weaned closer to age 3 or 4 on average. It is most likely that Messiah Yahushua (Jesus Christ) himself nursed until that age. We are often uncomfortable with this in our society, which I find unfortunate for the health and well-being of moms and children.

I shared this journey with you all because I want you to know that you’re not alone if you choose to breastfeed beyond the baby stage. If you choose to nurse your toddler or preschooler, that’s okay! It is a gift, and you should feel blessed to have given it and to have received that blessing. If you are pregnant, please consider my story and those of many other moms. Follow your heart and your child’s leading. Don’t allow society to scare you away from something you know is right for your family, if you do believe it is.

Shalom.

“Me Generation” Rebel- Children as a Blessing

Millennials, roughly defined as those born between year 1980-2000, have been described as the “me generation”. I was born in 1988, so I fall squarely within the millennial range, yet I have chosen something that many women in my cohort are eschewing; young marriage and motherhood.

Now if I had been born during my grandmothers’ era, or even my parents, my marriage at age 21 and first baby at age 22 would not be at all unusual. Both of my grandmothers had six living children, and this was not uncommon. My maternal grandmother had a medically necessary full hysterectomy at age 28 but she already had six children! In today’s America, this would be met with raised eyebrows.

Although some of the “me generation” accusations seem heavy-handed and a bit unfair, it has become clear that many women my age simply do not want marriage or children. News articles and magazines proudly declare the decision of my generations women to say “no” to putting off their careers and sacrificing their independence in order to have children.

Tonight I put my children to sleep and it took some time because my oldest daughter (five years old) was sacred. I stroked her hand and rubbed her back. I soothed her with my words of safety and security. My presence was what she needed. I kissed the top of my three-year-old daughters head, and the chubby cheek of my 21 month old before closing their bedroom door. All the while my womb was filled with the kicking of our fourth child, and first son.

There is a part of me who would have preferred to go read a book, or write, or crochet. A part of me that comes out on difficult parenting days when I just want to walk out the door and do what I want unhindered. Yet, this is the path I have chosen. I have chosen a path of sacrifice for their sake, and in return they fill my cup to overflowing with love and fulfillment. I cannot imagine losing this, not for a thousand years of independent living.

 

Their dependence is temporary, and it is an honor to be their security and comfort. It is an honor to raise these beautiful little people. When I die, I will feel full of gratitude for the chance to do something as wonderful as this.

What do the scriptures say about children? What does the Word of our Creator say about bringing life into the world? One word seems to fit it all; blessing.

Blessing! To have the fruit of the womb and the fruit of the breasts is blessing. To nurse a child and rock them on your knee, it is a blessing! To work hard by the sweat of your brow, to sacrifice for these little ones, it is a blessing.

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newborn Zipporah, my 3rd child

Yet, the focus of the world is on “me”. Now, I am not condemning everyone who chooses not to marry and have children. Indeed, the scriptures put this forth as a noble and righteous path to be walked as well. However, the reason must be for God, not for self-indulgence. The Apostle Paul says that he is better able to serve Messiah because he is not also focused on a wife and children. I understand that, and it is a choice that can be made. But the reasons given in our society to refusing children are not something aligned with scripture.

Money. We don’t have enough money! Yet women in countries all over the world, women in refugee camps, are welcoming children. For a Biblical example, the Israelites were horribly oppressed under Egyptian rule. Their newborn sons were under threat of death. They were worked hard all day long baking bricks in hot ovens. If there ever was a time to say “not now” to children, surely slavery and the threat of death would be it! But is that what we see?

Americans look at their 3-bedroom home and say “not enough”. Americans look at their bank account and say “not enough”. It may be true in the natural, but that is what faith is about. Faith is trusting that what Yahweh calls a blessing is always a blessing, and when he gives us children he will provide for them because they are His own.

I am not here to condemn anyone, certainly I have fallen short in many places and too often lack trust and faith. But I see the women of my generation refusing such a precious gift, a blessing, and seeking after what the world has to offer them. Yahushua (Jesus) says “I do not give as the world gives”; what he gives us is better in every way.

There is another narrative to follow. We do not have to value what the world values or want what the world wants. Indeed, the world is enmity with God! So, those of us who call ourselves believers, let us open our hearts and our hands and our homes and our bodies to the blessing of children. Let us be amazed at how He provides. Let us value what our Creator values most of all; human life.

As women, we have the incredible ability to create life . We nurture and grow a living and eternal soul within our bodies, and bring them forth. It is an incomparable gift, let it not be wasted! May you be a fruitful vine within your husband’s house. May you praise Yahweh unto your children’s children.

Amen.

Shalom.

*Related Scripture*

Psalm 128:3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.

Psalm 127:3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.

Exodus 1:7 but the Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them.

Exodus 1:17 The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live.

Exodus 1:20 So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.

Genesis 49:25 because of your father’s God, who helps you, because of the Almighty, who blesses you with blessings of the skies above, blessings of the deep springs below, blessings of the breast and womb.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

1 Corinthians 7:17 Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches.

Philippians 4:6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.