Wednesday, March 21, 2012

One sixth

Katie crawled in bed with us in the wee hours of the morning this morning. This happens pretty often, and it really doesn't bother Ben or me at all.

I needed to leave the house early this morning and happened to wake up a little before my alarm was set to go off. I took the opportunity to just lay there and snuggle with my sweet girl, who is far too busy for snuggling during the day (most of the time, anyway).

It was so precious to lay there with her. Her little face is so precious--sweet chubby cheeks, baby blonde hair, full lips, long eyelashes. She's absolutely beautiful.

While I was trying so hard to soak in that moment (you know those mommy moments you just wish would last a little longer?) it occurred to me that she is already one sixth of the way to her 18th birthday. Maybe it's silly that I even thought about it. But, if the next five sixths go by as quickly as the first has, my baby girl will be all grown up before I know it.

I'm reminded every day of how quickly she's maturing. She is becoming more obedient, more helpful, more independent, more conversational, and more and more fun. I love my Katie, and I'm so thankful to the Lord for giving her to me as my firstborn child. What a treasure.

May God help me, despite how tired/busy/hormonal/etc. I may be, to soak up every moment I have with her. These days and years are so fleeting. And once they're gone, there's nothing I can do to get them back.

And ultimately, may God help me to the mama she needs--so that once the next five sixths are gone and my baby girl has become a woman, she will be one who loves the Lord with all she is and serves Him faithfully with all her years.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Staying healthy through multiple pregnancies: Part 1

As a note: all of these nutrition tips are completely important for first time mamas too! But, the more babies you have, the more important they become.

 Most healthy women have some nutrients stored up in their bodies. They and their growing babes can borrow from these throughout pregnancy if they don't eat everything they need to.

With each pregnancy, especially when they are relatively close together, these are likely to become more depleted. That's why it is vitally important to replenish nutrients between pregnancies and to get as healthy as you possibly can between and during pregnancy.

Ben and I plan to have as many children as we are able to, and have thus far chosen to not prevent pregnancy in any way other than breastfeeding (which I do not do because of the baby-spacing, but because it is so healthy for my babies). We really, really, really don't ever want to be in a position where we have to consider spacing our children out or not having any more because my health is failing.

Since I will be giving birth to my third baby before my oldest is four, we have been paying extra close attention to making sure I am staying as healthy as possible. I was focusing on this before Baby #3 was conceived and have continued to prioritize my health throughout this pregnancy. I am certainly not encouraging selfishness--the end goal is keeping mama as healthy as possible so she can care for the family and bare as many healthy babies as possible!

In this first part, we'll discuss nutrition. Next we'll talk about supplements, exercise, and a few other sidenotes. I was going to have all the information I wanted to share in just one post, but it was getting way too long!

Eat (lots of) nutrient-dense protein.
We buy most of our meat and poultry from a local farm. The meat all comes from cows and chickens that are happily and healthfully raised on pastured. I generally stick to cheaper cuts (chuck roast, ground beef, beef shank, etc.) to keep our costs down.

We also buy pastured eggs from the same farm, and I try to eat at two of them every day. In addition to high quality meats, I usually make at least two meals each week featuring soaked, slow-cooked beans (and less meat) to add some frugal protein into our diet.

For more on the benefits of pastured meats, check out this article.

Drink raw milk.
The decision to drink raw milk during pregnancy is frowned upon by many. However, my midwife highly recommends it as an excellent source of fat, Vitamin D, omega-3's, CLA, and easily-absorbable calcium.

We get our milk fresh each week from a local farm. "Our" cows (we own a share in the herd--theonly way to legally obtain raw milk in our state) are 100% grassfed and live their lives happily in the Virginia sunshine. I am not the slightest bit worried about any scary stuff in our milk.

Some recommend a quart per day during pregnancy, but I'm not quite there yet. I don't really enjoy drinking milk unless I have a cookie or brownie to go with it, but I do find ways to work at least two cups in most days. And yes, I shake in all of that lovely, nutritious raw cream. Yum!

More on the benefits of raw milk.

Eat lots of good fats.
We have talked about the benefits of healthy fats in the past, and they are even more important during pregnancy! They are so, so good for your baby's developing brain and also help you more readily absorb nutrients from the foods you eat.

I don't measure the amount of fat I eat every day, but I use coconut oil, palm shortening, and butter liberally in my cooking, and don't hesitate to add extra pats of butter to my steamed veggies, muffins, bread, etc.

Eat real salt
 Unrefined sea salt is loaded with healthy minerals. And eating an unlimited quantity during pregnancy helps you process water well and healthfully helps blood volume increase. Did you know you have 40-50% more blood at the end of your pregnancy? Because of this, I eat real salt to taste throughout my whole pregnancy.

Eat plenty of fruits and veggies
Eating lots of veggies is admittedly rough for me during my first trimester food-aversions. But, I try to eat as many as possible before that sets in and pick up as quickly as I can once they pass. I did recently make this homemade Cesar dressing and have really been enjoying salads, thankfully. :) I definitely don't have a hard time with eating plenty of fresh fruit though. Yum!

Fruits and veggies contain so many vitamins and minerals and super nutrition. I think most of us know this, so I won't go on and on. Eat your produce, mamas! ;)

Avoid unhealthy foods
In addition to eating as much good stuff as possible, avoiding non-nourishing foods is super important. Refined grains and sweeteners rob nutrients from your body, which you just can't afford when you're growing a baby! Every bite really is important. I am certainly not perfect in this area, but I try. :)

What about y'all? What are your best pregnancy nutrition tips?

This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday and Real Food Wednesday.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Joy for the rough days

Yesterday was a hard day for me.

I was up a lot during the night with a teething baby. I was awake early. The quick breakfast I had planned ended up taking an hour and a half of hands-on time (long story). I spent the day exhausted, unmotivated, and grumpy--and, of course, nauseous on occasion. I didn't get to take a nap and my mother's helper (who usually comes on Thursdays and helps me around the house and/or with the kids) wasn't able to come.

The children weren't bad. They played sweetly and napped well. But, I was just exhausted and feeling overwhelmed. I think I broke down and cried three different times over the course of the afternoon.

Finally it hit me that I really just needed an attitude adjustment. While Katie was watching a DVD and Benjamin was still sleeping, I fixed a cup of my midwife's pregnancy tea blend (with hibiscus in it--which makes it so delicious!) and spent some time reading the Bible.

God's word was such a balm for my weary mama heart yesterday. I came away refreshed and with a much better attitude than I started out with.

I did have one more emotional moment when Ben got home from work but he was so kind--and even suggested that we have cereal for dinner. I didn't go with that option (trying to make sure I get enough protein into my pregnant self!), but he did clean the kitchen after we ate which was a huge blessing.

Last night was worse than the night before. Poor Benjamin's little teeth just don't want to break through, it seems.

When I became a mother, I signed away my "right" to lots of personal leisure and a guaranteed good night's sleep. I knew I was in for a life of sacrifice for little people who probably won't fully appreciate what I do until they welcome their own little people into the world.
But you know? I'm not in this because it's fun (though most days it truly is). I chose this life because raising up the next generation of Christ-followers is a truly important work. God gave me these babies and called me to this ministry. And you know? It's going to be totally, 100% worth it.

The world may view what I do as a menial work--wiping noses, soothing teething babies, reading stories, playing with toys, carrying babies around in my belly for 9 months out of every two years or so.

But, they're wrong. The world can have its temporary pleasures and overwhelming mess of stuff. I want what matters forever, for eternity--even if it means trading off many of the convenience and fleeting niceties the world has to offer.
"What could bring more joy to an aging woman than to have her children rise up and call her blessed by their walking in the faith? What could bring more joy to a glorified woman than seeing around the heavenly throne a multi-generational crowd of her maternal influence? Look, Mom, you've fetched a thousand tongues to sing His praise!" -Womanly Dominion, pg. 122

Thursday, March 1, 2012

To Katie on her third birthday

My sweet Katie girl,

Has it really been three years already since I had the awesome privilege of holding you in my arms for the first time? Three is such a big girl age. I can hardly believe my baby girl is there.

It has been another incredible year of watching you grow and mature. You're 34 pounds and 38 1/2 inches tall. You seem to be tall a slim, the latter of the two traits certainly not one you got from me! You are becoming more and more helpful to me around the house--I know you'll eventually be my right hand lady! You help wash dishes, put away utensils, take laundry to the hamper, and help with picking up your toys, and you have recently started learning how to set the table. The little things you do really are a blessing to me, especially these days when I'm queezy and more tired than usual. You are eager to help with cooking, but I certainly still have to keep a very close eye on you! 

Watching you develop in your role as a big sister has been really amazing for me. You are (most of the time!) so sweet to Benjamin and very concerned about him. You help me keep him out of trouble, which I so appreciate! You are also happy to fetch his cup and whatever other supplies I need in taking care of him. And, watching the two of you enjoy playing with each other warms my heart so! I can leave you both in your room for half an hour or more and you usually play nicely the whole time.

You are so excited about our new baby and love to talk about "her" (you're so sure!) teeny tiny self. You frequently point out that mommy has "free" babies--with one outside my tummy (because you're certainly not a baby anymore. Ha!) and one inside my tummy. So cute!

You love reading, and have recently started sitting through longer stories, which has been fun for both of us. The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh was your first "chapter book." I really enjoy the time we spend reading together every day, and I hope you'll always love to read. You can also count pretty well, making it to 20 or so with just a few hangups.

You love to sing hymns, pray before meals, and talk about Jesus. You sit quietly through church the vast majority of the time, and you really do love being there. We are working through the children's catechism with you, and you pick up the answers so quickly! You often ask me questions about God, and I am so thankful I can be home with you so I don't miss out on precious opportunities to share the gospel with you even now as you are so young. We have to watch your theology closely, as you come up with some pretty interesting (dare I say, heretical? ha!) ideas on your own!

You have quite the growing vocabulary, and it is so fun to spend my days with you. I love that we can have real conversations now since you can talk in full sentences (paragraphs...monologues?!). You are my sweet little buddy, and I am sure that eventually, by God's grace, you will truly be one of my closest friends. Though some days I wish time would stop so I could savor your sweet, chubby toddler face and hold on to the many adorably precious and funny things you say and do for just another moment, I suppose I do look forward to that season of life as well.

My prayer for you this year is the same as it always has been--that you would believe the gospel at a young age and spend the fullness of your years in service to the Lord; the same One Who made my dreams of being a mama come true when He so graciously gave you to me three years ago.

My beloved firstborn, your mama loves you so much more than words can say.

A happiest of birthday to you!


This post is linked to Finer Things Friday.