Tips & Tricks for Breastfeeding Success


One of my very most favorite things about motherhood has been nursing my babies. I figured out the other day that I think I’ve been breastfeeding a baby for about 62 months of my life…that’s over 5 solid years! No wonder the “girls” aren’t as perky as they used to be, he he.

While I love the special closeness and connection that comes from breastfeeding, it hasn’t always been easy or fun. There have been a few times when I’ve wanted to give up, but after finding the necessary support, I’m really glad I didn’t!

Today I’m sharing a few tips I wish I’d known when I first became a mom to better prepare me to nurse my baby successfully.  Once you figure out the hard stuff, I promise you’ll love it!

  1. We all know that breastfeeding is a wonderful feeding opportunity to offer your child with lots of benefits. But if you can’t or choose not to breastfeed, you’re still a great mom! Breastfeeding should never negatively affect your mental or physical health or your relationship with your baby. You do what you think is best and don’t let anyone give you crap about it!
  2. Sometimes breastfeeding hurts; I’m just gonna be right up front about that. But it shouldn’t hurt for long! Your breasts and nipples are often sore for a few weeks after having a new baby, but if you’re ever experiencing sharp pain when baby latches on, see a lactation consultant asap. No reason to suffer needlessly.
  3. Find the right professional help. There are oodles of resources when it comes to getting breastfeeding assistance: nurses and lactation consultants at the hospital or birthing center, La Leche League, private consultants and support groups.  If, after seeing a professional, you’re still having trouble nursing, seek help from someone else! Sometimes it takes a few consultations to figure out exactly what’s going wrong.


  4. It is very rare for a mom to not make enough milk for her baby, but it does happen. Make sure you’re following all your doctor’s instructions for watching to see if baby’s getting enough milk. Your body produces milk on demand, so the best way to increase your supply is to pump after a feeding and/or offer your baby the breast as much as possible. Some diet supplements have also proved helpful to increase supply, but if, after trying everything, you still can’t make enough milk, see number 1!
  5. Let yourself take a break!  My mom used to always say that breastfeeding is God’s way of making sure moms sit down every day and I totally agree.  It’s a chance to sit and cuddle with your baby multiple times a day doing something that no one else can do, so enjoy it!  Learning to nurse while lying down was also a huge bonus for me, once I had other kids who woke up early and demanded a lot of my attention.  There’s nothing quite as wonderful as dozing peacefully while your baby nurses and then falls asleep too.

    Any other tips or tricks from you experienced mommas?  While there have definitely been struggles in my breastfeeding years (read: never losing all the pregnancy weight until I wean my babies – ugh!) I wouldn’t give it up for the world.

Postpartum Shape Up – Before

Follow along with my post-partum fitness progress (and setbacks). Come share your healthy goals and let’s get in shape together!

The other day, my sister Nancy and I were talking about losing weight and how to hold ourselves accountable while we work on getting in shape.  Nancy had recently posted a “before” pic on Instagram and mentioned how she was working on accepting her body where it is right now, while simultaneously making better food and exercise choices.

She also said how easy it is to post embarrassing “before” pictures of oneself once you’re already looking like the amazingly hot “after” picture. It got me thinking about how hard we women are on ourselves, even while we’re trying our best to make progress. We’re constantly inundated with pictures of perfection: perfect crafts, decor, outfits, hair, parties, makeup, bodies; and when we look in the mirror every day, it can be a struggle to not feel inferior.

So, I decided that I’d invite the whole of the interwebs to follow me on my very imperfect journey of shaping up and losing the baby weight this time around. I’ve gained and lost so much weight over the past 12 years of bearing children, that I’m a lot more at peace with my postpartum body now than I was after the first couple kids.  I know that my body won’t be like this forever and so most of the time I just try my best to implement healthy habits and then not dwell too much on the rest.

But I fully acknowledge that having a healthy mindset about one’s body isn’t easy.  It can be frustrating and exhausting to try to lose weight and see little progress. For example, my body never gets entirely back to normal until after I’m done nursing my babies…which means every time it’s taken close to (if not longer than) a full YEAR to lose all the baby weight!  It’s a slow, sometimes agonizing process but as long as I’m doing my best, I try not to beat myself up.

Today I’m showing you my current “before” status via pictures, weight and body measurements. Once a month after this, I’ll be posting updated pictures and stats, as well as any successes and setbacks.  I hope that any progress I have will be inspiring to other moms trying to make healthy changes, but mostly, I hope to offer some comradery to those of you who struggle with postpartum body image issues or frustrations because you don’t look like your favorite fashion blogger just minutes after giving birth.

Lastly, I wanted to mention that I’m not generally a fan of showing this much skin in public (let alone on the internet!) even when I’m in good shape 🙂 but I felt it was important that other women see what a postpartum body often looks like (and yes, I have stretch marks and loose, flabby skin under those swim bottoms!).  You may be starting a lot closer to your goals than I am or a lot farther away, but the important part is that we accept where we are, make a plan to improve and then just START!

April 17, 2017: 8 weeks postpartum

Current weight: 162
Goal weight: 140-ish

Current measurements:
Bust 40.5″  –  Waist 32.5″  –  Hip: 42″
Goal measurements:
Bust 37″  –  Waist 29″  –  Hip: 39″

Successes: I joined a local gym and had some great workouts there doing mostly body weight strength training.  I also got back into running since having the baby.  I’m not fast, but I did do 2 miles without stopping recently!

Setbacks: Sugar and refined carbs are my kryptonite when nursing a new baby. I did lots of baking this month and ate a lot of garbage.  I’m working on really listening to my body and feeding it fuel when I’m hungry instead of junk.

This month’s goals: Do strength training 4x/week and run or do other cardio 2-3x/week.  Limit sugary treats to once a week.

Now it’s your turn!  Please share any goals, progress or frustrations you’re facing on your fitness journey in the comments.  Let’s support each other in our quest to get healthy!

And if you’re looking for more ideas to help you get in shape, check out the fitness challenge I posted after my last baby.

Postpartum Survival: 5 Things No One Tells You About

The newborn phase is a wonderful time of life, but it helps to be prepared by knowing what to expect, good and bad!

Nesting Days Baby Carrier  (Use code WHISKEM for an extra $5 off!)

 

The postpartum period can make a new mom feel happy, exhausted, overwhelmed, grateful, frustrated, and back to happy again, sometimes all within an hour!  It’s an emotional rollercoaster, one for which many women are completely unprepared.  Despite what anyone else goes through or tells you, it can be a wonderful, joyful period of life…if you know what to expect!

In all honesty, the 4th trimester with my first two kids was pretty rough.  Both births weren’t what I’d expected and everything was all still so new to me, that I’ll admit I certainly didn’t enjoy it very much.

Fast forward 6 more kids and if there’s one thing I’ve learned after all these births, it’s how to love the newborn phase.  It’s not that it’s become all that much easier (although my body has become more efficient at some things) but rather that I know what’s coming and I’m prepared for it.  Once the fear and anxiety factors are gone, it becomes so much more enjoyable!

Without further adieu, here’s my list of 5 things no one adequately prepares you to experience during the postpartum period:

 1.There will be bleeding, and lots of it.  Think the worst day of your period, every day for a week and sometimes longer.  I bled for less than two weeks with my easiest recovery and for close to 6 weeks after my c-section.  It totally varies, but just know that it will happen and it will be a LOT!  A good excuse to take it really easy those first few weeks and rest with the babe.

 2. You’ll have random aches and pains that you’ve never had before: really tender nipples, aching uterus, sore girly parts, and sometimes more! I knew I would be sore, but my biggest surprise after my first birth was how bad the “afterbirth” pains would be (think intense period cramps).  Your uterus continues to contract for days after birth, especially while breastfeeding and even after a c-section, and while it’s necessary to stop the bleeding and get your uterus back to normal, it’s not always a walk in the park!  You doctor can suggest something to take if the pain gets to be too much.

 3.You’ll ride a rollercoaster of emotions and will probably feel a little depressed for a few days.  I have experienced “baby blues” after every single pregnancy; usually after about day 2 or 3 when the initial wave of visitors is over, I get kind of overwhelmed with a new baby and a transitional body and start feeling really lonely.  After the first 3 births it kind of threw me for a loop, but now I expect it, recognize it for what it is and remind myself that it won’t last forever.  Invite a friend over, get out of the house if possible (even just for a walk around the block) and you should be back to normal in no time! 

(Note: if you’re still feeling depressed after a week or so, are having trouble bonding with your baby or having thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, call your doctor right away! Postpartum depression, although not as common, does affect many women and can be treated. Don’t let yourself suffer unnecessarily.)

 4. Your baby might have a hard time transitioning to life outside the womb.  Some of my kids were great eaters and sleepers right away, and others seemed a little distressed after birth.  I think it’s just a harder adjustment for some babies and the best thing for these little munchkins is to be in their mama’s arms.  Being held skin to skin is especially beneficial for a baby in distress, and I love using the Nesting Days baby carrier pictured here.  It’s like a wrap carrier (without all the wrapping) designed to be worn with just a nursing bra, so you and your baby can be skin to skin and you can still use your arms!  I wear it around the house just like this, or throw a cardigan over it to go for a walk.  I haven’t had a baby yet who didn’t settle right down after being worn up against me.

 

If you’re pregnant, you can preorder the carrier for $10 off the retail price and use code WHISKEM to get an extra $5 off!

 5. The first few weeks will be over before you know it; let the housework, meals and worry go and just enjoy resting with your new baby. As a certified addict to “getting things done”, resting is a very hard thing for me to do.  But after each baby I’ve realized more and more how rare it is to have a few weeks where no one expects anything of us moms; we might as well enjoy it.  Don’t leave the house (unless you need it for sanity), don’t make food, don’t clean, don’t go to church; take a cue from your baby and just eat, sleep and poop! 

 

Having a baby is a crazy, amazing and eye-opening experience, but it’s what we women were made to do!  Don’t let the unknown scare you; it’s one of the most awesome things your body will ever do for you.  If you’re prepared for the not-so-fun stuff, you’ll be able to cuddle and enjoy your baby all the more.

 

Good luck, mamas!

 
Photography by Let Me See You Sparkle

DIY Nursing-Friendly Nightgown

The first few weeks after having a baby are my favorite; it’s the only time you’re allowed to just sit around in pjs all day long, resting, eating whatever you want and snuggling a precious new baby.  Life doesn’t get any better!

Today I’ve got a tutorial for the perfect postpartum nightgown: long, stretchy, lots of coverage and nursing-accessible!  Of course you can make one even if you don’t have a new baby, and if you leave off the placket, it’s a super quick project!

(Be sure to subscribe to my new weekly newsletter to get all the latest tutorials in your inbox!)

Supplies:

2 yards very stretchy knit fabric
4 matching buttons (if attaching optional placket)
10″ x 10″ piece of lightweight fusible interfacing
coodinating thread

1. Find the stretch of your fabric and fold in half with the stretch running horizontally (perpendicular to the fold).  Cut out front and back of nightgown according to diagram (the diagram show just the front bodice being cut out on the fold, but you’ll need to cut out a back as well!).  Cut out sleeves and placket also, ensuring that the stretch runs across the width of the sleeves.

2. Lay your front and back pieces on top of each other, right sides together.  Sew along the shoulders and side seams, using a stretch stitch or serger, Press seams well.

3. Sew underarm seams of sleeves by folding sleeve in half lengthwise, RST, and stitching along the long raw edge, using a stretch stitch.  Press well and repeat with second sleeve.

4. Turn bodice inside out and sleeve right side out.  Insert your sleeve into the sleeve opening of bodice (insert narrower opening in first!), matching up raw edges and underarm seam with bodice side seam.  Stitch sleeve to bodice using a stretch stitch; press well.

5.  Fold under raw edges of sleeves and bodice hem and topstitch using a double needle; press well.  You can also choose to leave your sleeves and hem raw since knit doesn’t fray!

6.  Create neck facing: Measure the circumference of your neckline and subtract 1-2″ (you want your facing to be shorter than your neckline so that it pulls the neckline taut when sewn together.  How much shorter depends on the stretch of the fabric…here I cut mine 2″ shorter that the neckline because my fabric was super stretchy; if your fabric is less stretchy, try making it just 1″ shorter.  It’s kind of a trial and error thing!)  Cut out a neck facing measuring 1″ x the length you just calculated (neckline minus 1-2″).  Sew short ends of facing, right sides together, to create a loop.

7.  Pin facing to neckline, right sides together, stretching facing to distribute evenly around neckline.  Stitch facing to neckline using a 1/4″ seam allowance and a stretch stitch, again stretching facing to fit.  Press facing & seam allowance away from bodice, and then press raw edge of facing under 1/4″.  Fold facing to inside of garment, pressing again.  Topstitch facing to bodice, close to folded edge, using a stretch stitch.

This video is a great resource for sewing a knit facing, in case you haven’t done this technique before!

8.  OPTIONAL button placket: Cut a rectangle out of the center front of your your nightgown measuring 10″ x 1″.  Here I’m gonna save you the chore of reading a really wordy explanation that doesn’t make any sense and instead have you watch this video! It’s a great, simple explanation for inserting a placket.  (Note: I used a very lightweight interfacing because I was using a very thin knit fabric…you don’t want to go too much heavier than your fabric!)

And voila!  A perfectly cozy, comfy nightgown perfect for lounging with or without a new baby!

Why your kids need you (and only you)

Doubts about our abilities as mothers are totally normal…but completely unfounded.
Here’s why your kids need you as their mom!

Happy Friday, friends!  Life has been verrrrry interesting lately, what with this new baby around and the stress of figuring out how to manage and balance all of my mothering responsibilities.  Every big transition is like that, don’t you think?  Super crazy and overwhelming for a while, then you gradually settle into a routine and, for better or for worse, this becomes your new normal.

I’ve realized that anytime life throws us curveballs, lots of insecurities and doubts tend to come along with them.  Thoughts about what we’re messing up and about how the rest of our life may be adversely affected by these changes.  Having a new baby means less housework gets done, less time spent with the other kids, fewer opportunities to finish work projects and thoughts about whether or not we’re up for all the new responsibilities and stressors.

Being a mom of a big family means that I struggle with self-doubt and insecurities every. single. day.  I strongly believe that God called me to be a mom, to have all these kids, to homeschool them and to lead the life we live.  But that doesn’t mean that I don’t constantly wonder about all the ways I’m failing every day.

Here’s the thing: your kids are your kids on purpose.  It’s no crapshoot that each family ends up together; all parents have personality traits, talents and abilities designed to help prepare their specific kids to become the best people they can be.  I know that sounds like a tall order to fill; personally it seems impossible that I could ever give all my children everything they need.

The important thing to remember is how little our kids actually need to thrive.  Yes, that’s right…how little.  They don’t need Pinterest parties or a mom in runway-worthy looks or even homecooked meals.  I know I’ve talked about this before, but when Luke and I got certified to become foster parents, we walked out of the training thinking about how we, and every single parent we know, are doing a pretty freaking stellar job.  We love our kids, we try to do right by them and we leave the rest up to God.

None of us knows exactly what sorts of trials we (or our children) will encounter in our lives.  But I really believe that we’ll be equipped to handle them because of the families we’ve been given.  Sure, our kids drive us crazy and our parents aren’t perfect – but we’re meant to be right where we are.

While our children don’t need picture perfect moms and dads, they do need parents who  love each other and their kids and who admit and apologize when they make mistakes.  They need parents who realize the blessings of being a parent and at least try to enjoy it now and then!  Parenthood ain’t for sissies…but I know each of us has what it takes to be GREAT at it!

New Mom Essentials GIVEAWAY!

GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED!
Congrats to our winner, Jordan F.!

I am SO excited for today’s giveaway post!  I partnered up with a few of my favorite mom bosses to give away some of the most amazing baby products…over $400 worth of gear!  Read on for all the details, share this post with all your expectant or new mommy friends and be sure to enter via the Rafflecopter widget below!

  1.  KB Cute knotted gown and beanie – I’ve followed KB Cute’s shop forever and have always loved their gorgeous fabrics and baby products.  Recently I got to meet Kerri, the brains and talent behind the operation and she’s as sweet as they come.  Every baby deserves one of her perfectly soft sleeper gowns and hats!
  2. Joonie Car Seat Cover – Not only is this ingenious car seat cover waterproof, windproof and made with ventilation windows, it also comes in 3 cute colorways, folds up into a tiny little carrying pouch AND was designed by my husband’s super talented cousin Danielle.  It’s the perfect way to keep baby comfortable and protected from the elements and curious hands!
  3. Puj Tub – If you’ve ever bathed a newborn before, you know that it can be a harrowing experience!  No matter where I’ve tried it (in a big tub, in the shower, in a sink, in a bulky baby tub) every scenario made me terrified that I would drown my baby or never be able to get her fully clean.  I bought the Puj tub when it came out years ago and have never looked back!  Perfect for bathing a squirmy, slippery baby comfortably and safely in any sink.  Plus, the company’s founder is my darling friend Katie who is both sweet and a powerhouse lady boss.
  4. Nesting Days Baby Carrier – There are a million and one reasons to wear your baby, and about as many ways to do it!  But my favorite way, especially in the early days, is with a soft cotton carrier.  The Nesting Days carrier mimics a traditional fabric wrap carrier, only without all the fabric and all the wrapping!  It’s especially designed to be used for skin-to-skin carrying with your new baby so it actually functions as a tank top, with easy nursing access and a fabric panel around your middle to hold you in and for modesty.  Brilliant!!
  5. Muslin Swaddle Blanket by Loved by Hannah & Eli – I’m in LOVE with this cute shop’s Mama & Baby Bear line…and their muslin swaddle blanket is to die for! Muslin swaddles are the perfect thing for wrapping up a new babe without overheating them (seriously, we have like 10 of them), and maybe wrapping your wee one in a blanket that says “Sleepy Bear” will convince them to actually sleep 🙂
  6. Puj Splash, Newborn Bath Set – Another must-have from Puj, this bath set has everything you need to keep bath essentials organized and ready when you need them.  It includes a travel-sized infant bath, 3 super soft washcloths, a hooded towel (which hooks around your neck so it’s ready to go when you pull baby out!) and 3 hooks for hanging your tub and towel on the bathroom wall or door.  I love having a Puj tub in each of our upstairs bathrooms so I can bathe Alice anywhere without hauling stuff around.
  7. Pair of Freshly Picked moccasins – If you want your baby to have any hope of a stylish future, then he/she will have to have a pair of these iconic baby shoes (did you know they even carry Mary Janes and hard soled shoes now??).  As a mom who has bought (and thrown out) countless pairs of little kid shoes, let me just say…quality matters!  And Freshly Picked’s quality is unparalleled.
    Fine print:
     Only open to USA residents.  Winners of any giveaway which included Freshly Picked moccasins in the past 60 days are not eligible.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The 4th Trimester: Leaving the House

Similar jeans – Gap and Kut from the Kloth (on sale!) || Top – Lush (my favorite and on sale!) || Similar Vest – Levi’s and Max Studio
|| Slip-ons – Caslon (so comfy!!) || Watch – Michael Kors || Sunglasses – Amazon || Similar Tote – Sole Society || Earrings – Nickel & Suede

Our little Miss Alice is 2.5 weeks old now, which means that while my body is still nowhere near normal-looking yet, I’ve had to start leaving the house and wearing something other than pajamas – boo!!  I told Luke this last week that I’ve been feeling so great this recovery, every day I’m torn between getting up and scrubbing my dirty house or just taking one more day to lounge around in sweats and snuggle my babe.  It’s a struggle!

It’s hard to be both patient and forgiving with your postpartum body, especially while trying to look decent.  I’ve collected a few tricks over the years for embracing this fourth trimester, while still feeling confident enough to be seen in public.  Here are a few of my favorite items for flattering those extra lumps and bumps; and remember, a lot of the clothes that worked during the first (and early second) trimester, will work again after baby!

  1.  Mid-rise jeans and high-rise leggings: that soft and squishy post-baby belly is gonna feel much more comfortable tucked into some high-rise pants, rather than spilling over a waistband that stops at your hips.  Leggings are stretchy and forgiving so I like to go with the highest waistband I can find, but with jeans I prefer mid-rise since your waist and hips are kind of disproprotionate right after having a baby.  For example, right now I have about 5-6 inches to lose around my waist but only 2-3 around my hips.  That makes it difficult to find super high rise jeans that fit right. The boyfriend-style I’m wearing in these pics have been a favorite of mine for after the past 2-3 pregnancies (they’re about 2 sizes bigger than what I usually wear).
  2. Long, flowy polyester-blend tops: luckily for us new mamas, loose tops are in right now!  But beware of boxy and cropped varieties which don’t do round tummies and ample bosoms any favors.  And 100% cotton tees, while comfy, tend to cling to belly squish which is less flattering.  The top I’m wearing in these pics has been the BEST for most of pregnancy and now the post-partum period.  I have it in 4 colors!
  3. Vests, cardigans and jackets: these types of outerwear are key for adding an extra element of style, while camoflauging weight around the middle.  If I had more of them, I’d wear a vest every single day!  It helps dress up even the most boring of jean/tee momiforms and helps break up the wide expanse that is a post-partum nursing chest. You all know what I’m talking about.
  4. Good-fitting bra & underwear: do yourself a huge favor and buy new lingerie for this period of life! There’s nothing quite so awful as trying to squeeze a newly post-partum booty into old bikini briefs that you wore 30 pounds ago.  Don’t do that to yourself!  Buy some nice, high-waisted granny panties in an ample size and enjoy life 🙂 Ditto for a good nursing bra.  Nobody will know if you’re wearing panties 4 sizes bigger than you usually do…and the comfort factor is more than worth it!

In the end, just try to enjoy this newborn phase of life as much as possible!  Sure, you’ve got lumps and stretch marks and rolls in places you never did before…but you also have a perfect new baby to feed and cuddle and love on.  So put on your stretchy pants, eat a couple of cookies and relax.  You’ve earned it!!

Welcome Baby Alice!

Alice Jayne Wiscombe
February 21, 2017; 12:13am
7lbs, 7oz; 21.5″

It’s been a week now since baby Alice joined our family and this 8 kids thing is no joke!  I think it’ll take a few weeks before I start figuring out how to balance the basics of mothering this brood, getting essential homeschool stuff done, digging my house out from under the mess and blogging.

With each baby comes the necessity of streamlining tasks, rebalancing priorities and relegating the unessential to the sideline.  It’s HARD, I already know this.  In my perfectly controlled world, I’d give my housework as much attention as my own self care but sometimes you just have to focus on the very essentials: feeding yourself and your kids, giving them love and making sure you stay sane.  Everything else can learn to wait.

If you caught my FB Live video about Alice’s birth then you already know the drama behind her big world entry!  Birth never ceases to amaze me, and as much as I’ve loved my peaceful, uncomplicated home births, I can very acutely see God’s hand in the others as well, and this birth was no exception.

My technical “due date” was February 9th, but I always go late so I wasn’t terribly surprised when 41 weeks came and went.  The whole weekend before she was born, I was in really easy early labor and even went to bed with some strong regular contractions once or twice, but they always went away sometime during the night.  By Monday (President’s Day) I was getting really frustrated and was tired of being pregnant.  It was also Luke’s last day home before the start of a new week and I just didn’t have the energy to take care of kids by myself the next day.

I decided to take castor oil that morning (despite hating it the last time I took it!  Desperate times…) and it started working several hours after that.  At about 4pm, Luke and I decided to go for a walk around the neighborhood to get things moving.  I only made it about 100 yards from my front door, however, before I felt a gush of fluid.  I was hoping it was amniotic fluid but when I looked down, I realized it was bright red blood.

My midwife suggested we go to OB triage at the hospital to get checked out and after hours of waiting around (and a reassuring peek at a healthy, happy baby), we finally got to see a doctor.  I’d never seen this OB before but I immediately liked him.  Even after I experienced more bleeding in traige, he said that they still weren’t sure what it was but that he’d work with me on getting the birth I wanted.

At this point I really didn’t feel good about going home (and neither did my midwife who assured me that if the bleeding continued, we’d just end up right back at the hospital) and so I chose to stay and be gently induced in order to keep an eye on the bleeding and the baby.

We used a combination of a foley bulb and breaking my bag of waters to get things going. All this time, we continued to see bleeding and finally surmised that there was probably a placental abruption going on (in other words, the placenta was starting to pull away from the uterine wall).  The dangers of this are twofold: excessive bleeding for mom and the potential loss of oxygen to the baby.  We talked briefly about a c-section, but given my history of a past cesarean and all those VBACS, we decided to try everything we could to avoid surgery.  The OB said that as long as baby’s heartbeat looked good, we’d be OK in continuing with a vaginal delivery.

Once my water broke, however, things started moving fast.  The bleeding kept coming and my contractions got really hard.  Within about a half hour I was really working through labor, and during one particularly intense contraction, things got really weird.  My midwife said the baby’s heartrate dropped really low and they moved me onto my side.  Right then there was a HUGE gush of blood, I started to feel weak, and my vision went snowy…I didn’t even really have the mental capacity to work out what was happening, but my blood pressure had plummeted (at one point it was down to 55/25!).  I lost consciousness briefly but they gave me some O2 and I came back pretty quickly.  I clung to that oxygen like crazy, because it was the only thing that made me feel like I wasn’t going to die!

Another 15 minutes or so of contractions and I started feeling “pushy”.   I got on my hands and knees and let myself start pushing her down; then once I felt baby’s head crowning I just went crazy pushing because I knew I didn’t have the energy for more than one push!  After just a few moments, out she came, bright red and wailing like crazy.

They started cleaning me up and handed me the baby and she was so beautiful!  But I wasn’t out of the woods yet.  I was so, SO tired that it was hard to even hold her.  The doctor went to town trying to get my placenta out because I was still bleeding heavily and that was almost as painful as labor!  Once that was out, they gave me something to stop the bleeding and made sure I was getting plenty of fluids.

At one point, while I was holding the baby, all of a sudden everyone was calling my name.  I opened my eyes and everyone was staring at me and the nurse was holding my baby.  I was really confused about that since I didn’t remember handing Alice over, but then I realized I’d passed out again and almost dropped her!  Other than low BP and exhaustion, the other side effect of the hemorrhaging was cold.  I was so, SO cold.  As they were cleaning me up, I just started shivering so hard I could barely talk.  At that point they decided I needed blood and put in an order for 2 units.

Once I had the first unit in me, I felt like a new person.  I had energy to talk and hold the baby and generally be so glad that everything worked out as well as it did!  I’m so grateful that we didn’t end up with a cesarean (I’m not sure how anyone recovers from surgery with a whole passel of little ones at home!) but even more grateful that Alice tolerated labor, that it was a quick labor and most of all that I followed my intuition and didn’t go back home to have her.

A lot of people think it’s strange and even dangerous to have a baby at home…but my decision to do so is always accompanied by lots of prayer and listening.  The interesting thing about this birth is that even though I originally felt good about a homebirth, as the time got closer and closer, I started to feel some vague misgivings.  Every time I’d look over at the birth tub in my living room I’d get anxious.  I thought it was because of Marilyn’s birth (the pushing part of her labor was HARD!) and so I did more hypnobirthing and meditation and prayer…and yet the nervousness didn’t go away.  I didn’t feel fully at ease until we checked into the hospital.  At that point, even though there was a chance my baby could be in danger, I felt totally comfortable with the resources there and knew that the outcome would be a good one.

Birth is usually the first important experience we undergo as mothers and we are completely entitled to receiving revelation (or intuition or whatever you want to call it) for ourselves and our babies.  Being a mom is often a scary road, but we’re never completely alone!  The moment when a new life comes into the world is truly a special one, and I’m so grateful I’ve been able to experience it over and over again.

The Induction: Making an Informed Decision

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Hey all!  I’ve got another birth post for you today!  Being pregnant means I’ve obviously often got babies on the brain and since birth is the culmination (and finale!) of 9 months of growing a sweet baby, it’s probably what I think about the most often.

Today I want to talk inductions: the what, the why and the how!  Just like all the other birth interventions I’ve previously written about, inducing labor comes with benefits as well as some risks.   Hopefully this helps you, or someone you know, be as prepared as possible to choose (or refuse) an induction.

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The Gift of a Body

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Hey all!  I’ve had some deep thoughts swirling the last few days that I really want to share with you all.  I’ve been ruminating on our miraculous bodies and how we act, think and speak about them.

If you’re a woman, then chances are REALLY good you’ve experienced some body angst.  Our world is just too obsessed with physical perfection for any of us to grow up in it without feeling a little (or a LOT of) insecurity surrounding our looks.  Deep down we all know that it isn’t right to feel this way, but most of us aren’t really sure how to overcome it.  I’ve been blessed with a few years of experience and gotten a fair amount of use out of my body (bearing 7 kids is a fair amount, right??) that I feel blessed to have overcome some struggles in this regard.  I want to share with you a few steps I think we can all embrace when it comes to how we view our bodies.

The first thing I want to really emphasize is this: you are NOT your body.  I believe that everyone has a physical body that houses a spiritual soul and that our bodies are only a portion of who we are.  In fact, it’s a portion that we have little control over.  We can’t choose how tall we are, or our hair or eye color (even though we may try!) or the basic shape of our bodies.  We can’t choose whether or not we tan or get freckles, or whether or not we need glasses or braces.  And yet, all too often, the world judges us as if these physical features DEFINE us.  They most certainly do not!  It can be hard to let go of past trauma regarding our bodies; abuse, taunting, snide comments or insecurities can be deep seated and very damaging.  But it’s important to remember that these things are not who we are.  We are more than our bodies!!

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Secondly, we can influence the world’s obsession with bodies for good.  I am sad and ashamed to admit that a person’t body shape used to be the very first thing I noticed about someone.  I didn’t mean to do this, and I have worked hard to stop this habit, but it was an automatic reaction I acquired after years of being obsessed with my own outward appearance.  I think our greatest influence in this area begins with our daughters and sons.  Did you know that what you say about your OWN body can influence your children just as much as what you say about THEIRS?  None of us would even consider insulting our daughters’ bodies and yet we often think nothing of ridiculing our own bodies in front of our kids.  If we want them to respect their own bodies and those of others, we have to model respect for our own.  Luke and I have talked a lot about this and have decided on some basic rules for our house: we obviously don’t call anyone “fat” but we also avoid the word “skinny”, and instead we focus on words like “strong” and “healthy”.  We want our kids to focus on how they feel, instead of how they look.

On that note, I’ll share with you that I’ve made a personal decision that I won’t alter my body surgically.  This is obviously not a very popular decision in some circles and I have lots of friends and family that have made other decisions in this regard…this is in no way meant to shame or judge anyone for their decisions!  But, I personally would only choose this route for purely selfish reasons, and so I’ve decided that it’s not the path for me.  I love the idea of embracing every stage of life, no matter what it looks like (and trust me, my abs don’t look like much anymore!) and not fighting the inevitable aging and sagging process.  It’s just a losing game, after all.  Again, I am not aiming to make anyone else feel badly about choosing plastic surgery and I completely understand reconstructive surgeries…I just don’t plan on any myself.

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The next step is to truly, TRULY appreciate our bodies.  This is so hard, I get it!  You just want to lose 15 pounds or really tone up your rear end.  Or stop having people ask you if you’re pregnant when your baby is 4!!  But here’s the thing…our bodies will never measure up to the world’s standard of perfection; it’s ever-changing and it’s just too impossible to reach.  But our bodies are so incredible! It is truly a divine miracle that two miniscule cells can combine to create the jaw-dropping complexity of the human body.  When something does go wrong with our bodies, we often marvel at how many minutes, days, and decades our bodies function normally without our even giving it a second thought.  Now, I am speaking as someone who has not had to endure any serious bodily trials  (except for one not-so-fun altercation with an open flame in my youth…yikes!); my body is whole and for that I am forever grateful.  But perhaps those with serious scars, lost limbs, death-defying illnesses and other broken bodies can attest even more intently how wonderful it is to have a body that can do what we need it to do.

A little disclaimer at this point: I obviously take time on my appearance; I wear makeup, sometimes color my hair and really enjoy dressing fashionably.  Some might argue that this is vain and that I shouldn’t need these things if I truly appreciate my body as is.  And they may have a point!  But doing these things actually does help me appreciate my body, and I really try hard to strike a balance between working on the exterior and on the interior.  On this note, showing gratitude for our bodies begins with treating it right.  If we don’t love how we feel, we can make changes!  We can eat better, we can exercise, we can get more sleep.  These things will help us to maximize our bodies’ potential and realize all the good they can do for us.  We have so many resources available to us in the form of good foods, holistic remedies and medications; we should all fight for good health!

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Lastly, if you still struggle with hard feelings towards your body, find something that it can do for you!  Make a goal to run a race, participate in a competition, or just go outside and jump on the trampoline with your kids.  While for me, pregnancy and birth have been the turning points in how I view and appreciate my body, many women are terrified of motherhood simply because of what it means for their appearance.  I can think of nothing more tragic than a woman missing out on being a mom, only because she fell prey to the world’s definition of beauty.  Flabby skin, stretch marks and extra pounds are nothing in comparison with the ability to conceive, carry, deliver and breastfeed a perfect tiny human; and while not everyone gets the chance to have these experiences, they have forever changed how I perceive my body!

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