You know those wonderful friends you made in grade school that are still your friend today? I hope you do! Well, one of my oldest friends just became a mom. I told her I was more excited for her birth than my own, because I've been doing this mom thing for a few years now.
At her baby shower, they had cards to fill out with advice for the new parents. I knew exactly what I'd right- it's the advice I give to everyone who enters into parenting:
Trust your gut.
God's filled us with all of the knowledge that well need for every situation, and He continues to fill us daily. He's not hiding his truth from us, he freely gives knowledge to those who ask for it (James 1:5).
Often, this can look like a gut instinct. Your tingly-mom sense that is telling you everything will be alright, or that something is not right. That feeling in the pit of your stomach that gives you something to say and the strength to say it- listen to that.
Here's an example of it working in my own life recently:
With my 4th baby I tested positive for GBS very early on in my pregnancy (9 weeks to be exact). Normal protocol is to administer antibiotics during labor to prevent the transfer of the bacteria to the newborn. I happened to be allergic to the typical penicillin so they were going to administer clindamycin. I've used that drug many times, for month even in the past, and my gut was saying, "NO."
So much so that I ended up changing providers at 36 weeks and finding a midwife who would support a birth without the antibiotics. I knew there were potential risks, and I had to prayerfully trust that God was protecting us, healing me, and everything would be well.
And it was.
My water broke and the baby came all in one push, so there was very little exposure to any bacteria. I was so thankful for my experience.
A few months later, I got a case of mastitis. I started taking the clindamycin that they wanted to IV me during labor, and my body had a really serious reaction to the drug. It caused an overgrowth of another bad bacteria and colitis which had me extremely sick for days on end. I can't imagine what would have happened if I took that drug during labor, especially intravenously.
I'm thankful I stuck with my gut, even if it wasn't popular and was costly at the time, and I hope that all new mamas will do the same!
P.s. we love to pray for you- send us your prayer requests here! And if you’re having a baby, we'd love to pray for your birth, send us your due date here and we'll add it to our prayer calendar!
The following post is not meant to be medical advice, please discuss your unique situation with your medical team.
I wanted to take a moment to address stitches for perennial tears after birth. "Did you tear?" Is one of the leading questions I hear when discussing births, and understandably so as no one wants to go through labor, childbirth, and THEN face stitches.
In my opinion, stitches are overly used on tears which could heal on their own without intervention. But, they're overly used because doctors and midwives know that for a tear to heal correctly, the new mom must be laying down in bed for two weeks in a position that allows for the tear to properly line up. Sounds a bit complicated, eh?
First, let's address the tear lining up correctly because this is crucial. Picture a rectangular piece of cloth... now take a pair of scissors and cut it about one inch in the center. When that piece of cloth is lying flat on a table, the part of the cloth that is cut will still line up neatly. Many perennial tears that line up correctly when mom lays down will heal perfectly on their own with bed rest. If mom is running around after a toddler and trying to do the dishes, the extra movement can undo any natural healing and make the damage worse.
Not all tears will line up correctly. In this case, stitches are the best option and will prevent mom from dealing with any future issues. A local anesthetic is injected, and self-dissolving stitches are placed to ensure proper healing and minimal scar tissue. Though no mom wants this to happen, stitches prevent any major complications such as painful or difficult intercourse, pain sitting or walking, and excess scar tissue.
In my own life, I've had 4 babies and torn 3 times. I received stitches the first time and really was uncomfortable for weeks after. Part of it may have been more physiological than physical, but I never wanted to go through stitches again. My second birth was my smallest baby, and I did not tear. But, I did tear during my next two homebirth.
My first homebirth was in Virginia. At that time, midwives weren't permitted to carry lidocaine to numb the area before performing stitches, so for them to be performed, mom needed to be taken to the hospital after birth. Nobody wants to do that. My wonderful midwife said she felt I would heal on my own if I laid down and rested, and I did.
My second homebirth was in Connecticut, and the midwives are permitted to keep lidocaine on them so they can perform stitches in a home setting. My tearing was a bit more complicated and my midwife recommended stitches because she felt that rest and proper healing would be tough with 4 kids running around. I REALLY didn't want stitches so I declined them and agreed to lie in bed with my legs and knees together so the tear would line up properly and rest for 2 weeks. I did heal perfectly without stitches and was really relieved.
The bottom line is that stitches can be declined if you discuss it thoroughly with your provider. Declining stitches poses the risk of not healing correctly or taking longer to heal, so be sure that you’re aware of your tear and your ability to properly rest before declining stitches. If I tear heals in separate sections, a person would be looking at much more complex surgical repair work than simply having stitches after birth so talk about it with your provider and postpartum support team before deciding!
My husband Dave and I were thrilled to find out we were pregnant with our first child. I was even more thrilled when Dave told me that he wholly supported the idea of a home birth. We also chose to keep the medical industry out of both my birth and pregnancy. This is sometimes referred to as a “free birth”. Since Dave and I both understood the power of our words, we spoke into my pregnancy and delivery the whole nine months. I was able to enjoy every day of being pregnant and had no negative symptoms of any kind. As labor began, the first contractions were met with perfect excitement. There was no anxiety of any kind and this made for such a wonderfully peaceful birthing experience. I walked around our apartment and talked to Dave. Then there were times when I just wanted to be still. I slept on and off and eventually ended up in the bath tub. I had no pain. Labor lasted twelve hours and at 5:00 pm on March 28th our son Sidney was born. It was truly an amazing experience. What always has stood out the most about my first birth was the peace. True peace comes from knowing Jesus and unlike counterfeit peace, which is circumstantial and gives way to fear and anxiety, the peace of Jesus never leaves. Dave and I certainly learned a lot with the birth of our son. We faced some challenges following his birth but during it all we were so aware of the incredible power of the peace of God. It got us over every hurdle and our walks with God became stronger and for that we are both so very grateful.
A short three and a half months after having our son, we got pregnant again. This time around, we decided to consult a midwife. We were so happy to find a midwife who did homebirths. My husband and I immediately began to make declarations over my pregnancy, our baby and my delivery. Once again, I had an amazingly blessed pregnancy! I enjoyed every day my little one grew inside my womb. There was no sickness, no swelling, no emotional roller coasters. We got what we professed which was an easy and enjoyable pregnancy. Labor began at 7pm on a Friday. Like with my son, labor lasted twelve hours. This was the only challenging part about my second delivery; I was tired. I am a big fan of sleep and I usually enjoy a sold nine hours or so each night. Although I did take little power naps between contractions, I so badly wanted to just go to sleep. Obviously, this was not an option especially when the time to deliver my baby came closer. As transition time approached, I became so very grateful for the grace of God. Being so tired, I was able to sympathize with women who choose to have epidurals just so they can sleep. An epidural is not an option at a home birth so I relied entirely on the grace available to me to get through the pushing. Thankfully, my daughter only took three pushes to be born. The incredible desire to want to sleep, of course, disappeared as soon as my daughter Talia was in my arms. I found myself thanking God over and over as I held her because I knew I had just experienced the amazing blessing of standing on his Word. I was never in pain and He gave me the grace I needed when I needed it. Because of that, and believing in the power of our words, I was able to enjoy the wonder of another supernatural home birth.
By the time I became pregnant with my third child, walking in the revelation of “you get what you say” (especially when you stand of the promises of God) had become quite second nature to my husband and I. We very thoughtfully decided what we would speak over this pregnancy and delivery. Once again, we would be having a home birth. I didn’t think I could actually have a better pregnancy than I had with my last two children but I was wrong. This time around I had so much energy, slept great all nine months, gained the least amount of weight and was so full of excitement the entire time. Plus, I had the enthusiasm and encouragement of my two and three year old who were so excited about having a new baby. We planned on giving birth on May 1st (yes, we did declare our delivery date) and things were progressing perfectly for that to be the case. Then my father, who is an international pilot, got called in for a trip and would not be around on May 1st. So I began to tell our baby that he was welcome and could come any time. I was past thirty sever weeks already when I began declaring this so I was considered full-term. April 29th came, which was a Friday, and I decided that my baby needed to be born that day or else my dad would probably not get to meet him for a few weeks. The morning of the 29th, my children and I started out the day as usual by doing some errands. We then went and had lunch with my husband at his work. When we got home, which was about 1:30pm, I began telling my body to go into labor as well as did a few more natural things like squats and nipple stimulation. At 2:09pm, I had my first contraction. I called my midwife immediately and while on the phone my water broke. I had been dilating for a week at this point so I knew that this was not going to take long. I called my husband Dave and told him he should head home so he could fill up the birthing pool. I then called my dad and told him to head over as soon as he could. He was out to lunch with my mom and said that they would leave as soon as they were done. I knew that my baby was going to be born before they got here. My midwives arrived with a half hour to spare. At 4:28pm, our son Henry was born. It was the most amazing delivery ever! I had no pain, it was so very short, and my son was born perfectly healthy having had a smooth, short ride into this world. Every single thing we spoke over our delivery came to pass! I was wide awake and full of energy and gladly welcomed family and friends to come meet our newest blessing. It is such a joy to know that I will never have to have a painful, traumatic birth and I thank God for the revelation of the power of my words.
Anyone else have a child who has no problem speaking their mind?? After an embarrassing confrontation... I learned a few things last week...
Check out the post on the topic @ alexandrakulick.com
Back when I was expecting my first child, I did my routine prenatal care the routine way. When you're walking in new territory, it's comforting to follow a map. But I've started to say "no" a whole lot more to different tests and approaches, and believe it or not, it's pretty common and completely your right.
The first thing I deny is the genetic screening test. I do this for two reasons, the first being that the tests result in false positives up to 50% of the time [read more here}. which opens the door to more needless testing. The second reason is that genetic deformities wouldn't cause me to terminate the pregnancy, as they may offer. Instead, I reason with the doctor that if there's something seriously wrong, it would show on the 20 week anatomy scan and then we could plan the delivery in a well equipped facility accordingly.
But, you might also be surprised that you can deny the 20 week ultrasound as well. We opt to go for it simply to find out the gender, which they've gotten wrong once and are currently unsure of because of the baby's legs, but I still prefer to have the ultrasound done. The reason some deny it is that there's the very real chance the ultrasound shows a choroid plexus cyst .. sounds alarming right?? But it shows up in roughly 20% of perfectly healthy babies and causes the doctors to want to monitor more in the slim chance the cerebral cyst is a marker for down syndrome. I've had one show up 2x now. The first time, I went through additional ultrasounds to confirm everything was fine, and the second time I said "no."
The next thing I say no to is traditional glucose testing. That orange glucola is loaded with dye and high fructose corn syrup that I would never put in my body, so why would I expose my baby to that and see what happens? Instead, I opt to ingest the same 50 mg of sugar in forms that I might actually indulge in. There are many different ways to ingest it, talk with your provider about what they'd prefer, but I ended up drinking 8 ounces of juice [not from concentrate] and 14 natural gummies in a minute to reach the 50 mg of sugar (this site has some great alternate ideas). I felt that sugar rush and dizziness, but thankfully passed the test with flying colors!
Once you reach 30 weeks, many providers bring you in for appointments every 2 weeks, we'll, I say how about 3 weeks? If everything is routine, shleping my crew to the doctors 45 minutes away for a 5 minute check is a ridiculous task, but many will agree to a more lenient schedule from 30-36 weeks by seeing you twice instead of three times.
Finally, when the big day comes, I refuse internal checks during labor. Some hospitals require them to be admitted to the labor and delivery room, which I'm ok with. They need to know your body is really making some progress, but once inside I say "no thank you" to any additional checks. New research is showing that multiple checks in a routine labor can increase the baby's exposure to harmful bacteria and certainly isn't fun for a laboring mom. Now, if there was a serious concern about labor not progressing, I'd certainly allow a check, but gone are the days of mandatory 1 hour cervix checks for this mama!
Make sure to check with your hospital or midwife to hear about their individual policies! Just as you have the right to say no to them, they also can say no to you. Then, keep looking for a practice that's a better fit... I've been to 4 this pregnancy :)
What kind of things have you spoken up and said no to during your pregnancies and births? Share in the comments below!
About three years ago, my family was living in a relatively small town in Virginia. There was a downtown city area, some housing developments, and then a lot of farmland. One day, I was at the playground behind the grocery store with my son and my daughter. We had the place to ourselves and were enjoying a beautiful early spring day. Another car pulled in, and I watched to see if the passengers were familiar playmates.
Instead, a woman emerged from the car dressed in all black from head to toe. She was wearing classic Islamic dress, and the only part of her that was visible was her eyes. This was particularly uncommon in our area. Sure, there were Muslim families, including our lovely next-door neighbors, but the full black dress was rarely seen. What shocked me even more was when she began to speak to her daughter. I anticipated a Middle Eastern accent, but by her voice, she was a southern African-American woman who had converted to Islam.
She let her six-year-old daughter play on the playground while she sat in the car with a smaller child. I continued to play with my kids, looking over at the car periodically. When her daughter got stuck on the slide, I went and helped her, and the mom emerged from her vehicle. She came over and we had a brief, pleasant exchange before she loaded her daughter in the car and they left for the day.
As she was leaving, I was still watching with perplexity. Jesus interrupted my thoughts. Now, Jesus rarely interrupts my thoughts. Normally, God seems to wait for me to talk to Him… but we had a brief and powerful exchange.
“Ask me what I think of her…” Jesus said.
“I know… you love her…” I thought.
“No, ask me what I think of her…” Jesus responded.
“Ok- what do you think about her?” I asked.
“I think she’s a princess.” Jesus said.
[now I’ll be brutally honest, my next thought wasn’t my finest]
“…princess of darkness…” I scoffed.
But, my heart meditated on those words, and soon enough agreed. When we look at people, we see flesh. We see what is current, we see what’s now. When God looks at people, He sees how He created them. He sees their [and our] full potential and it’s the job of the spirit of prophecy to speak that truth and call people as God sees them, not what our own eyes see.
I never got the chance to tell that woman what God said on that day. I saw her another time, and fumbled the words in my mouth in a mess of nerves. But, that experience greatly shaped my own perspective on dealing with people… particularly the difficult people we don’t want to deal with. Though what we see and experience in our interactions has physical truth, the spiritual truth of what God sees will always be higher, and sometimes just needs a word or two of encouragement to manifest in people’s lives!
I've been particularly negative these past few months, from interactions at home to my prenatal care nightmare that I've been dealing with... but last night God pressed my heart to start envisioning my birth and prenatal care in a perfect world. Sometimes, choosing to be positive is the first step to releasing faith when you feel like you're past EMPTY.
So, this week I challenge you to release God's love to people who we don't think deserve it, and try to see them how God sees them, and release positivist into areas of your life that feel barren and filled with dry bones!
...and let me know how it goes!
Have you ever been spiritually stuck, wandering around in a dry, desert place? Well, I feel like I’ve pitched a tent in the Egypt over the last few months. You’d think that my mind would be peculating and preparing for my upcoming birth, but this season has been completely opposite. I’ve been wondering what on earth I’m doing and trying to figure out God’s plan in the midst of changes and uncertainties.
In an effort to get unstuck, I’ve been going through a process of remembrance. Often times, these desert seasons are so dry and lonely because God is counting on us to pull from the seeds He’s already planted and remember the great works He’s already accomplished. Just consider how many times God instructed the Israelites to remember: 48 different times! Before Moses died, he warned, "Be careful, and watch yourself closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live..." (Deut. 4:9). The Lord gives the instruction to remember (often through ceremonies and monuments) as well as teach others about it because when we forget, we easily diminish our own faith as we stand at the foot of great mountains.
The Bible recounts how David stirred himself in remembrance before he went toe to toe with Goliath. David remembered how God had already helped him defeat a savage lion and bear and defend his flock from ferocious animals (see 1 Sam. 17:34-35), so of course God would deliver Goliath to Davids feet.
Take a moment and ponder the amazing things has God done in your life. They may have been 15 years ago, but God's not bound by time. When we remember, we stir ourselves in the same spirit of love, power, and gratitude that enveloped us years ago! Could there a better way to wake up from spiritual slumber??
I’ve been remembering a particularly fertile season in my spiritual walk. Back in 2014, I began a journey of praying for one stranger a day. I wanted the Love of God to move mountains in the lives of people that I encountered, and through this process, I feel like I developed a much deeper relationship with the Holy Spirit. I’ve kept so many memories and lessons packed away in my mind, and I’m preparing to share them on the blog so that I can re-learn and re-member God’s awesome works and hopefully encourage you along the way!
Let’s buckle up and prepare for a brand new adventure with God!
P.S.- I'd love to hear some of your awesome memories of things that God has done in your life in the comment section!
This means I have to interact with humans. Normally, I really enjoy this. After all, my time on the checkout line is likely my only outside interactions with people who can use the bathroom by themselves. Today, the woman started by counting my children and giving them each a sticker. She noticed my belly and my three-year-old divulged that there could be two babies inside. I was measuring much further along and was awaiting another ultrasound to confirm my due date and the number of babies growing inside me! This slightly baffled the cashier. Yes, five children under the age of six would be a lot!
She gave me my change and I took a few steps forward before putting the money in my wallet so she could check out the next customer in-line.
Clearly, the cashier thought I was out of earshot as she began to divulge all of her thought about me to the next customer.
"What is she thinking!!" She said. "Clearly, she doesn't even know!"
I stood there baffled for a moment. Really? I'm like two feet away and you're bashing me to another complete stranger?
I was angry. My first thought was this is why I shouldn't shop at Target. Clearly, a company that allows men in the women's changing area would have employees that don't respect life or customers who choose that. You'd think they would welcome large families because they have to spend more. But that's not the case anymore these days. I contemplated emailing management and starting a social media war #boycotttarget and getting all my pro-lifers involved. But I didn't.
As I was loading up my car, the scripture, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” came to mind (Matt. 5:44), so I stopped my complaining and prayed for her. I'm sure she never planned to be working as a cashier in her 40’s. Her life probably didn't go as she planned, and neither had mine. I didn't plan for a 4th baby and certainly didn't do some crazy fertility dance in hopes of having twins.
Truth be told, we were in the same boat.
But I chose to take two lessons from the angry cashier:
1) Live joyfully. The cashier seemed miserable standing there, and I seem pretty miserable at 8:30 pm when I'm exhausted and trying to finish the dishes and get my kids to bed. But, I can choose to be joyful and not spread misery. A sink filled with dirty dishes isn’t nearly as toxic as an angry mama.
2) Don't speak badly about anyone, ever. When we speak badly about someone, we minimize an entire human being to our meanest assumptions about them. Is it any wonder God would instruct us not to gossip, after all, we’re speaking about His creation (for more scripture on this topic, check out Belief.net ). We all make mistakes and we're all works in progress, but the important part is to keep growing! As Chrissy Weems tweeted, "sometimes we win, and sometimes we learn."
If you feel like you’ve got your tongue under control, I challenge you to take it to the next level and not think badly about anyone. When you meet a difficult person, ask God what He thinks about them? His thoughts are good, and they just might surprise you!
And if you’re still wondering about the possibilities of twins? An ultrasound confirmed it’s only one!
Has anyone ever negatively commented about your family’s size, names, or dress? How did you respond? I’d love to hear your response in the comment section!
In case you haven’t heard, and you probably haven’t because I never officially announced it- we’re expecting baby number 4 in December!
I had one week in this first trimester that truly kicked my butt. All of a sudden, coffee became repulsive so fatigue, nausea, and crazy cravings kicked in. I’m talking about an unquenchable urge to eat General Tso’s chicken, which takes some prep work to prepare gluten-free, yet by the time the food is finished, I feel personally offended that I ever could have wanted this meal and I just want to hide in my car because I can’t take the smell.
But don’t worry too much about me; I’ve managed to gain more weight than I ever have in the first trimester. Somehow my doctor didn’t think this was a grand accomplishment! Nevertheless, I’ve learned that the body does what it needs to during pregnancy, and it will all even out some point along the way.
Finding proper ways to nourish yourself takes a much deeper role than simply eating well. Our bodies are only one-third of our being. And let’s face it, when our souls are craving something, we can stuff the “answer” into our bellies instead. I’ve been notorious for trying to treat stress with chocolate, and then I’m still stressed and crash from a sugar high.
Over the weekend, I had the awesome opportunity to meet with representatives from some of the leading vitamin companies and sample their products. I’ve been particularly impressed with Child Life’s DHA. I use Child Life for my kid’s multivitamins, calcium, and echinacea and vitamin C, but didn’t know they offered anything for an adult. I had avoided taking DHA supplements during this pregnancy because I thought I might not stomach it well. But I decided to try it about an hour and a half before bed, just in case I ended up in the bathroom. Unlike many other brands, they had the great idea to add a lemon flavor to their formula so that when you burp, you’re not propelled to vomit because of the awful fish taste!
Getting back my nutrition back on track with Child Life’s DHA and my prenatal vitamins have helped me feel slightly more “normal.” And, once my stomach's strength returns, I'll add in some probiotics and collagen!
What kind of vitamins did you take during your pregnancy? What are your recommendations?
When I was pregnant with my first child, nearly 7 years ago, I knew I wanted to use cloth diapers. I had babysat for families that used them and loved how they were eco-friendly and saved you thousands of dollars. Diaperdecisions.com reports that you'll save approximately $2,500 by using cloth diaper! Multiply that by 3 children, and we've saved a ton! (Not sure were that money went though ;)
As first-time moms do, I researched endlessly! Choosing diapers and detergents might as well have been picking a house! After hours of research, I decided to use Charlie Soap for cloth diaper detergent and ordered a set of Oh Katy cloth diapers that were on sale on Amazon.com. I also bought some pre-folds, covers, and diaper clips, and was gifted a BumGenius diaper.
We chose to use disposable diapers for the first few days until the black tar poop stopped and then I wrapped my bundle of love in cloth diapers, and they worked wonderfully for the first 6 months. We had occasional leaks, which were mainly from waiting too long to change him, but all things considered, I was happy with our choice.
After 6 months, the Oh Katy diapers began to leak in the legs, every single time he went to the bathroom. I would change him and ten minutes later he was soaked. I decided to strip the diapers and strip them again... But nothing helped! It was as if the inserts just weren't wide enough. I tried stuffing them with pre-folds instead, and they still leaked. My sole BumGenius diaper was my only trustworthy friend.
I hung up my cloth diapering hat for a while after that and was disappointed in my diaper investment. Oh Katy was Oh Bummer so I decided to gradually build a stash or BumGenius diapers.
By the time baby number 2 came, we were set.
I wash my diapers with one tablespoon of Charlie Soap under hot water. Make sure your washer setting is turned to the highest water setting. (My HE washer has an “extra soiled” setting, and with my older washer I’d simply select “large load.” ) Occasionally, I sub a scoop of OxyClean to remove any build up on the diapers.
Then I dry them on low heat for 50 minutes with wool dryer balls. The dryer balls are non-essential, just NEVER use bounce sheets. I learned this the hard way!
My BumGenius collection has served three kids with no leaking and I'm currently adding new elastic to a few of the legs for baby number 4.
If you're going for cloth- go with the best and save yourself a mess!
I should trademark that :)
Do you cloth diaper? What are your tips for new moms?
Is a wife, mother of four, author of Re:Birth, and lover of afternoon naps.