While writingBirth in Blantyre, I was able to connect with so many wonderful people and hear their stories, concerns, and victories. One mom took the time to share her three birth stories with me after learning about Re:Birth and felt that God had given her miraculously short labors. I love her birth stories because they break a "birth stereotype," where women feel like labor will be long... because it's labor!
That simply doesn't have to be the case. I've shared before about praying for a three hour labor with my first baby, and being 9 1/2 cm dilated after three hours! During my last birth, I only experienced 40 minutes of regular, peaceful, contractions!
Martha shared: On my first birth it took me about 6 hours after signs of labour. And the other 2 just within 5 minutes of going to the hospital.
"[In Malawi,] whenever we are at home we feel that we are in labour pains. We go to the maternity ward reception whereby the midwife gets our details and checks on the cervix. If they see that you are in the first level of your labour they admit you and they keep on checking you till you get to stage number 8 whereby they know that you are in the last stage of your labour. That is if you find a good midwife. Sometimes you find a midwife who is inconsiderate when she sees that you are on the early stages of your labour she can even ask you to go back home and come back when you are going to the last stage of labour.
I don't know what actually happened to me. It just happened that these two kids I feel it was by God's grace. I just felt my back sore around 7am and when I went to the toilet only to see that I am in labour. I told my husband that i was not feeling alright and he said ok as.he was getting prepared I could feel that It started to be very painful By the time he finished it was around 7:30am he took me to the hospital and while I was in the car I felt that the baby was already on its way.
I remembered the moment he stopped the car I was the first person to.get out of the car and I run to the maternity ward and get straight to bed. The midwife asked me to go.to the reception I told her that I feel the baby is on its way. She immediately got her gloves and checked me only to see that the bay was coming. And she just asked me to push then the baby was born by 8am.
And my last born daughters birth was also a very quick one. It was also in the morning around past 7 when my husband was getting ready to drop my boy at creche. I told him that I could feel a slight pain and he asked me if he could drop me to the hospital first I said no he can drop the boy to school. The moment he left I felt the pain was unbearable. I asked my sister to go to my neighbours house and ask if the neighbour can take me to the hospital. By then I was expecting my husband to come back from creche after an hour. The neighbour came and take me in his car. That time I couldn't sit upright because I could feel the baby was very close. When my husband came back he was told that we already left for the hospital. He just followed us to the hospital When we get to the hospital the hospital attendants run with the stretcher and let me lay there. The midwife asked me to sit upright when we got in the hospital i told her that I lt won't be possible since the baby is close Then she rushed to get the gloves to check only to see that the baby was really coming. She asked me to push again and immediately the baby was born. Thats how I experienced the labour. "
I love how Martha knew her births were "by Gods grace." Her words remind me of Eve's when she remarks, "With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man." (Gen. 4:1). God is with us at every moment during labor and delivery. He already knows the next moment- so there's no reason to fear!
If you're looking for more positive birth stories of God's goodness, check out Re:Birth!
Blessings, my friends!
I first connected with Joanna May Chee when I was finishing up Re:Birth. She had shared her supernatural birth testimonies on her website, mumskidsjesus.com and she was kind enough to let me share them in Re:Birth as well!
Within our first few messages, it was clear that Joanna had an contagious love of Jesus and was passionate about encouraging women. Most recently, she's poured her love into a beautiful book called Forever Loved: Eve's Story. I was thrilled to be able to preview it before it's release.
The one word I would use to describe it is "stunning." Joanna captures readers hearts with her personal story and encountering the Father's love, and then whisks them away to Eden. I had planned to read the book over a rainy weekend, but instead I finished it in one sitting (which is a miracle in itself with three kids running about!)! As soon as I was finished, I wanted to jump back in and read it again.
Joanna creatively retells the story of Adam and Eve through the voice of Eve in a way that shares the infinite love of the Creator! I could feel God's love wash over me as I read and we ALL need more of that every single day!
I would highly recommend this book to all of our wonderful Re:Birth friends- it's a perfect encouragement for women at every stage in their journey!
This is a BIG week around here. I'm never ready for book launches, they sneak up on me while I'm still working on the nitty-gritty parts of publishing. Nonetheless, there is so much to be excited about!
Re:Birth has been out for a little bit over a year now, and I'll admit, nothing has gone as planned! The doors that I've knocked on never opened and my family found ourselves embarking on a turbulent and unplanned adventure. Re:Birth sat on my bookshelf with a mixture of hope and frustration.
Last October, I received an email from a journalist turned pastor in Malawi that had picked up our press release on christiannewswire.com, he asked for books and brochures to deliver to expecting women in Malawi. Part of our marketing plan has incorporated giving books back since day one (every three purchases provides a copy of Re:Birth to a women in need), so I was thrilled to have a new area to focus on. We sent a box of copies, and they never made it! So we went with plan B, and sent brochures with scripture and encouragement for moms-to-be in Malawi.
We loved seeing the fruit of this mission, but I still really wanted to do more to help these lovely women, I just wasn't sure how! I quickly began to realize that while the idea of supernatural births and pain-free deliveries was refreshing to these moms-to-be, they were more concerned with life or death complications during birth than pain.
This was a startling realization that we seldom face in America, but Malawi has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. I began researching and trying to understand just why this is. Edward Mikwamba began setting up interviews with doctors, teachers, nurses, and missionaries so that I could learn more about the factors impacting maternal mortality, and we compiled the information we found into Birth in Blantyre. Edward did a wonderful job providing photographs which help readers get a glimpse of life in Malawi and I'm so grateful for all of the help we've received on this project. It has blessed and encouraged me tremendously, and I'm looking forward to the launch on the 1st so that we can return the blessings to Malawi!
Every book will provide a box of latex gloves to hospitals in need.
I hope that you'll consider sharing about this book- these days, sharing really does mean caring because it helps us spread the word without paid advertising, which is crucial to this project!
Our first winter back in New England has been COLD! We’ve spent a great deal of time inside, and no one has taken it harder than my three-year-old. Every morning she wakes up and asks if we can go to the beach. When I explain it’s too cold for the beach, she asks if we can go to the playground, and I have to explain the playground is covered in snow. Then she asks if we can make cupcakes. And the answer is always, "not right now."
So today, she was taking a much needed nap and I decided to bake a batch of cupcakes as a special surprise. I pulled out a new Christmas gift from LetGoShop, silicone cupcake liners! I can’t keep the paper liners in stock so, I figured food grade silicone was a great alternative and eco-friendly.*
I made some cake batter and filled the cups 3/4 of the way, and baked them on a baking tray. I peeked in at about 20 minutes...
Clearly, I used too much batter. I felt so discouraged, I was trying to go the extra mile as a mom and the cupcake batter just wasn’t working with me!
Nevertheless, my daughter came down from her nap and was so excited that I had made cupcakes. She didn’t care if they looked as though they had been dropped a few times. Instead, she asked for a pink star cupcake with a sleepy grin. We all devoured the messy treat and my focus shifted from perfection to counting smiles.
The joy of motherhood is built upon looking for the silver lining and embracing the small victories. It’ s too easy to become wrapped up in the mess of dishes and the misbehaving toddlers. But, if I let that be my focus, I’ll miss the smiles, and the giggles, and sorting through my son's rock collections while my baby climbs on me link a jungle gym.
I have to continuously remind myself that amongst the clutter and the Pinterest fails are the victories which make childhood beautiful, and thankfully, that's what children focus on the most. They're not concerned with how organized the kitchen looks, instead, they thrive on the new experiences of banging on the pots and pans or stacking soup cans into towers.
When clean-up time comes, they're equally ready to put their little hands to work for a smile and a "thank you!" It's usually this mom who would rather do it myself than risk more impending messes, but I have to remind myself that, "love is patient." When I'm short on patience, it's really an indicator that I'm short on love. Luckily, God has an unending supply and He's always available to refuel a tired mama!
Have a wonderful week!
Re:Birth is almost one year old. We've heard and shared wonderful testimonies and I'm so thankful to be on this journey.
I have to say, I'm most thankful for what's going on in Malawi right now. Our friends Edward and Edna have been distributing brochures and sharing about Re:Birth with expecting women.
Birth is much different in Malawi than America. For starters, they have one of the highest maternal mortality rates. My heart has been to do more than just send books and brochures, but not fully understanding birth practices have made it difficult to put an action plan together.
Then, I realized I'm not the only one who doesn't understand birth in Malawi. Most of the western world is probably clueless to the struggles women face. So, I've asked our friends to start interviewing and documenting birth in Malawi from the perspective of women and birth professionals.
The results will be compiled in a book to help raise awareness and support. So far, the results have been stunning.
Please consider sharing about this project and purchasing the final book. 100% or the proceeds will go back to Malawi.
Dear New Mom,
Breathe in and breathe out. Don't worry about trying to make life perfect, that's an impossible job better left in the Hands of a Perfect God.
Instead, cherish the small moments, the snuggles and the smells of your soft newborn baby. Those small moments turn to big memories you will forever carry as a your first badge of motherhood.
Honor your body too. It's easy to critique your figure and the changes that may have taken place during pregnancy, but your body just participated in the miracle of life. Day by day, it will keep changing and returning to the way you remembered it. Don't forget, it took 9 months for those changes to take place and it'll take time and healthy practices to feel normal again.
When 3 am rolls around and your still holding a baby, longing for sleep. Let God wrap his arms around you and cherish you just the way you're loving your baby. God loves us through our lows and highs with a love that's multiplied beyond our human understanding. He's with you when your patience is gone, he's with you when your joy explodes, and he's always willing to provide the perfect amount of comfort and advice to his children as we care for our own.
The most important piece of advice I can give you is if you're ever feeling lost, lonely or unloved. Sit down in a quiet spot and don't get up until you feel God's presence. Sometimes it takes a simple prayer, asking God to let you feel his love, sometimes it takes surrendering your worries or fear, but it's a request that never comes back void and might carry you through the longest shortest years.
If you're planning to breastfeed or currently nursing, I'm sure you’ve checked out the various nursing pillows in the market. Most pillows are a life saver, or at least a back saver, once you find the right one. I've owned four different types, three of which I would recommend to a friend.
First off, we'll start with the bad. I grabbed a no name nursing pillow at a consignment sale. It came in the same half-circle shape as other nursing pillows, but was pure fluff with no support. I threw it in the back of my car for infrequent car nursing sessions, and eventually dropped it off at goodwill. Don't waste your time and money on no names pillows, because they leave you with no support!
The Boppy nursing pillow, My Breast Friend, and Ergo nursing pillow are far more worth your time and money.
Which nursing pillows have you used? How would you rate it?
December 14th is always my least favorite day of the year. Five years ago, our little town was shaken by horrible darkness. Today, God's light shines brighter than ever. To read my reflections on the Sandy Hook Shooting, head over to http://www.alexandrakulick.com/blog/good-keeps-going-a-lesson-from-sandy-hook and join us in prayer for the families and friends of those who were lost.
This post is sponsored by leading dentitst Karl Jobst, Grove, OK.
Oral health is incredibly important during pregnancy, but it can easily slip through the cracks amidst all the changes mothers experience. I chronically forget to floss when I’m not pregnant and pregnancy has only exacerbated my condition... But, I’ve managed to stay cavity free with some of my favorite natural oral health practices.
For starters, oil pulling is my go-to way to whiten my teeth without harsh chemicals. After pulling (swishing coconut oil around for 20 minutes) my teeth feel noticeably cleaner and a week and a half into my daily pulling journey, I noticed whiter and more sparkly smile! I’ll admit it’s quite a challenge to spend 20 minutes without talking, especially with the never ending train of “mommy…” questions, but I’ve found it helpful to pull in the shower. This maximizes time and cleanliness!
I also ditched conventional toothpaste nearly three years ago and started to make my own! I have been using Wellness Mama’s recipe and have had great success. When I first jumped in, purchasing the ingredients with strange names felt pricey, but I’m still stocked up able to make plenty more paste. When you compare the cost of buying “natural” toothpaste for years, you’ll feel the difference in your wallet!
The main ingredients* are:
You can read the full recipehere.
I store the toothpaste in these nifty tubes*, but I've found that the paste does harden a bit after a few days, so a glass jar with a lid is just as suitable!
The most unusual part about this natural paste is that you CAN’T spit it in the sink! The combo of bentonite clay and coconut oil can make a mess of your plumbing, so you’ll want to spit this straight in the trash and save yourself a headache!
My third and final natural tip is to make a bentonite clay rinse, which I use instead of Listerine. According to Dr. Axe, Bentonite clay can be used as a powerful mouth wash because, “bentonite clay binds to unhealthy substances in the mouth…around the teeth and on the tongue and gums, and helps to remove them before you swallow them and become sick.” Bentonite clay also has antibacterial properties which make it effective in natural toothpastes and mouthwashes alike!
The funny thing about working with bentonite clay, whether in toothpaste or mouth wash, is that you can’t use metal to stir, scoop it. Bentonite clay is made of negatively charged molecules which binds together with toxins that have are positively charge. This enables bentonite clay to effectively remove toxins in the body and mouth and is even used to aide in the clean up toxic chemical spills-but if your toothpaste or mouth wash comes in contact with metal before reaching your mouth, it looses it’s effectiveness! So I utilize my kids plastic spoons to mix up the toothpaste and mouth wash!
Whether you’re into natural or conventional dentistry, regular check-ups are important in early detection and keeping those pearly whites white! Be sure to find a dentist like Karl Jobst, who knows the importance of a winning smile. You can even receive a complimentary consultation, x-ray, and exam worth $100! Learn more about Karl Jobst and his practice, Grand Lake Dental, and keep showing off your beautiful smile!
Have a great week!
Additionally, 2018 will welcome in the Re:Birth Baby Shower Initiative. We want to bless and encourage moms who find themselves in unexpected pregnancies and help them meet their tangible needs through hosting baby showers at pregnancy resource centers. Our team of moms are excited to bless and encourage moms-to-be, and YOU can join in the fun!
There are four awesome ways to help:
You can PRAY for the hearts of our moms and moms-to-be. We have a growing list of mamas asking for prayer so you canjoin in to receive our prayer list!
You can also purchase a copy of Re:Birth to aide in the distribution of it.
Email us if you’d like to get involved in the Baby Shower Initiative
Or simply give a gift to either cause!
I hope your Thanksgiving was spectacular- we're SO thankful for all of you!!
Have a wonderful week!
Is a wife, mother of four, author of Re:Birth, and lover of afternoon naps.