pregnancy

Her tiny kicks.

 

Thursday April 7, 2016 was my first real "up in the middle of the night in pain and discomfort" kinda night of pregnancy. For my entire second trimester I have had the worst acid reflux. The kinda reflux that burns like fire up your throat and makes your stomach turn because of the pain. I found myself scouring articles online, talking to my doctor and trying different remedies to soothe the pain so I could feel somewhat human again. A few would work for a couple of days and then I would be back to square one. I've never felt so defeated or discouraged.

On Thursday night I felt like I reached my limit. I sat up in bed almost in tears because of the pain of my hips, my back and mostly my acid reflux. I wondered, “Why did I have to go through this? Why did I have to have an aching back, sore feet, a swelling knee, a tiresome job, and on top of it this horrid acid reflux? Why do some women have such easy pregnancies? Why can't I enjoy this? Why do I have to be far from my family during the time where I needed that extra bit of encouragement?”

My parents.

My parents.

 When I couldn't take the pain anymore I went out to the kitchen to grab a glass of water and to find some medicine. I sat back down on our couch at 1:30 in the morning with my husband (who sweetly came to sit with me), with my selfish thoughts and with my self pity. Then my sweet little girl tapped away at my stomach. Her little feet and hands moving around getting cozy and comfy. In that moment the Lord, even now, was using my daughter to minister to me. 

Through her tiny kicks I was reminded that:

  • Aric and I are greatly blessed. In Psalm 127:3 it clearly states: "Children are a gift from the Lord, they are a reward from Him." Christ has chosen to bless us with a child. She is made in His image. She is being formed by our Creator. She is our daughter to raise and guide in the way of the Lord.
  • God is giving Eleanor the strength to grow and move. He is the one making her bigger each day. He is the one who everyday is giving her life.
  • God is full of grace. I am now 26 weeks pregnant. The past 26 weeks I have been carrying our sweet girl. The Lord has enabled my body to carry a child. What a privilege. 
  • Although I may be suffering with different pregnancy woes, I know many have had it worse. Through her tiny kicks I was reminded of the good days Ive had in pregnancy. The days where I had little to no discomfort. Some women have no relief for 9 straight months. 

Through Eleanor's little kicks the Lord kinda kicked me in the pants. That night I realized how selfish and prideful I had been. I am so greatly blessed to be pregnant. Sure, it may not be easy, may not be what I have expected, but it has been one of the most faith turning moments in my life. Christ is still faithful, He is still good and He is still sovereign during those times when it feels like there is no more strength. I am thankful to serve a God that continues to humble and show grace to me. I am thankful through her tiny kicks the Lord used Eleanor to bring me back to reality and show me how to continue to lay my own problems down and seek the goodness of the Lord in all situations in life.

—Sarah

What I've Learned from Six Years of Breastfeeding

Our only NICU baby, Baby A. Talk about a stretching experience. I definitely understand pumping mama's. Such a difficult time. By God's grace, I got to nurse her until her first birthday, at which she weaned herself. 

Our only NICU baby, Baby A. Talk about a stretching experience. I definitely understand pumping mama's. Such a difficult time. By God's grace, I got to nurse her until her first birthday, at which she weaned herself. 

When I add up the total months that I've been nursing my children, the number reaches 68 months and counting. The way it's currently going, I have every expectation on reaching month 72 by this May. 

 

Thats almost six total years of just nursing.

We tried nursing as much as we could, but I could only be with her about three hours a day so most of her feeds were through the gavage tube or bottles of breastmilk. 

We tried nursing as much as we could, but I could only be with her about three hours a day so most of her feeds were through the gavage tube or bottles of breastmilk. 

 

Some of you may think I'm crazy. And some of you may find that number laughable, because to you, that's child's play. You may have passed me up long ago.

 

We all have our own journeys. Whether you tried for one minute, one week, one month, or not at all, we all have something to offer up in our choice to attempt and succeed at breastfeeding. 

 

My second-born, Baby C, 2008. I nursed him for 12 months until he weaned himself. 

My second-born, Baby C, 2008. I nursed him for 12 months until he weaned himself. 

Heres what I've learned over the course of my experience:

 

Breastfeeding is natural, but no mother is "naturally" good at it.

 

I recall being a timid, scared-outta-my-mind first-time mom back in November 2006. I was one of those that just mind-numbingly listened to all of the "expert" advice. At first. 

I remember letting the nurses take my baby away whenever they willed, I remember trying to get as much sleep as I could and not worrying too much about his lack of will to nurse. I was self-conscious, confused, and frustrated by midnight, three hours after his birth. 

I didn't know what "lactation" was, so when a woman in pink scrubs kept invading my room every few hours and had her way with me by grabbing my breasts and "assisting" the process, I was about to give up before I even really got going. 

I let the nurses "supplement" my little man because, clearly, I wasn't enough for him and he was ravaging at less than 24 hrs. old. (Not true, by the way.) 

I came home and was completely in shock at day four post-partum and the engorgement of the century. I was crying in pain. I was begging for relief. Anything!! The baby wouldn't wake up. He wouldn't latch. The nipple shield was too slippery. My breast pump was the cheapest piece of crap ever and broke within a week. I was sending my husband out for cabbage, warm/cold compresses you could stick in your bra, nursing bras, lanolin cream, ibuprofen, and taking hot showers to just let them leak while the water ran on them. It was miserable. 

My Baby E. She's our youngest and is still going strong at 18 months old now. She has been the worst biter, the worst cluster feeder, the most clingy, snuggly baby of them all. I see her stopping nursing....never.

My Baby E. She's our youngest and is still going strong at 18 months old now. She has been the worst biter, the worst cluster feeder, the most clingy, snuggly baby of them all. I see her stopping nursing....never.

After two weeks of that drama, I was donesies. Seriously, d.o.n.e. My mother came over after dark one night and just encouraged me. She said, "Alicia, you can do this. Don't give up yet, you've got this." 

And, I never gave up. I owe my whole breastfeeding journey to both her and my husband. But, it did NOT come naturally. Not even close. 

 

My first baby, Baby H, 2006. We struggled our way through those first three months: he with colic and me with post-partum depression, but we made it, and he nursed like a champ until his first birthday. He was my only that I didn't self-wean. You live, you learn. 

My first baby, Baby H, 2006. We struggled our way through those first three months: he with colic and me with post-partum depression, but we made it, and he nursed like a champ until his first birthday. He was my only that I didn't self-wean. You live, you learn. 

You love it, until you hate it, and then love it again.

 

We all go through that phase where once your confidence begins to build, you think, "eh, this isn't so bad! No bottles, no measuring, no trekking to the kitchen every two hours, it's warm, soft, and cuddly..."

 

But then, the cluster feeding begins. You know, those feeds that literally overlap one another?! The feeds where little peanut doses off after a good 30-45 minute session and you go to remove yourself from baby just.for.a.second and BAM!!! Awake. Screams ensue. You don't know whether to take that run to the bathroom you've waited hours for, grab that half eaten, stale peanut butter sandwich from two hours ago, or just assume the position again.

 

Then, after a day or two of just being a milk bank, you begin to question EVERYTHING:

"Will this never end?"

"If I feed him anymore, he'll get a belly ache, but if I don't feed him, he'll scream and get a belly ache, but if I keep feeding him, he'll throw up all over me, but if I don't, I'll never sleep again!!!!!....."

"Someone please just let me die now."

But then, eventually, things return to normal, for at least a little while, until it happens again....but, for now, you love nursing. Until....

 

Our fourth nursling, Baby O, 2012. She nursed the second longest at 14 months, and then one day, she just continuously pushed me away and wiggled down, and that was that. 

Our fourth nursling, Baby O, 2012. She nursed the second longest at 14 months, and then one day, she just continuously pushed me away and wiggled down, and that was that. 

....teething....

Bless you mama of a teething one. Bless you.

I should've been counting the number of times over the years I had to say "NO BITE!"....cause there's literally nothing worse. Nothing!!! When that freshly-spouted baby-sharp tooth comes chomping down as hard as it can completely unexpectedly, it leaves you reeling. And then, you just make it worse by yelling or shrieking, which makes them scared, which, in turn, makes them clamp down harder.

 

This is how our days usually went with Baby O. Tough life. 

This is how our days usually went with Baby O. Tough life. 

Nothing's sweeter than a snuggly, sleepy nursling lying at your side

It's true. It's the greatest part of motherhood to just naturally match your breathing to your baby's as your tummies rise and fall in unison. It's relaxing, it's sweet, it's so convenient to just smell and see all of them as they feel the most content with you. And in those moments, it's hard to wish it to end. 

 

It's complete sacrifice.

 

I cannot stress enough how important it is for a nursing mama to take care of herself. Years and years of pregnancy and nursing will wear you out completely. I'm not going to tell you to get more sleep, because, let's be honest...that's just a ridiculously frustrating comment. But I will tell you to eat right and well, and drink, drink, drink!!!!!

 

You are going to be the only one who can night wake and feed, you're the only one that can nourish and supply this rapidly growing child with enough sustenance to thrive. You simply cannot effectively do that when you're constantly running on E. 

 

If there's one thing I'm real proud of and have never regretted, it's nursing my babies. All glory to God for the ability to do so. And a huge thank you to my very supportive husband. 

 

What has breastfeeding taught you? Please share your stories with us in the comments!

 

 

My apology: I've taken this pregnancy for granted.

20140612-142344-51824256.jpg I'm currently almost 33 weeks pregnant with our sixth child (we've had one early miscarriage back in 2007). With all of the moving craziness and the fact that we're still one of the most fertile couples I know of, I have taken this pregnancy for granted.

And I'm pretty ashamed of it.

I'm ashamed because I know there are women out there that God has closed their wombs for one reason or another that we may never understand why. I'm ashamed because daily I know about 50000 unborn lives are snuffed out in this horrid world. I'm ashamed because while I preach the beauty of welcoming God's eternal blessings (ie.,children), I have barely given much mind to the impending arrival of this blessing.

I imagine I'm not the only one out there that has taken a pregnancy for granted. I doubt I'm the special case where after having borne more than double the children the average American couple has, that it just isn't too surprising that "she's pregnant. again.".

So, until this child comes out of the womb, my prayer will be that God won't ever let me get off with being calloused to the miracle of life within. This may very well be my last pregnancy, and then what shall I do, as I look back and realized I missed the joy of carrying this child?!! God has every right to close the womb, take any of my children home to heaven before he takes me, and then I would feel regret for not fully enjoying the lives He's so graciously loaned to me to care for. He is so gracious. So so so gracious.

So this is my apology to you, my child, and most of all, my God. From now on, may I not take this life for granted.

May we be ever mindful of the sacredness and true miracle that carrying a child is. May we never get used to it. May we always be humbled and feel ever loved when God fills our womb with His child.

Love, Alicia