15 Road-Tested Tips for Nursing Your Child in Public

By Guest Blogger: Merril Bainbridge

Author Bio: At 16, Merril Bainbridge began her career in the Australian fashion industry. In her early 20’s she left to launch a successful pop music career which saw her at the top of the U.S. Music Charts. Retiring to start a family, she found a new purpose helping breastfeeding women with her fashion label, Peachymama.

15 Road-Tested Tips for Nursing Your Child in Public

Most breastfeeding mothers will agree that despite it being a most natural and incredible experience in many respects, nursing your baby is also not without its trials and tribulations. If you have now successfully established breastfeeding with your newborn, you’ve already overcome many, many difficult obstacles on this steep learning curve and are doing an incredible job. Yet, even so, the prospect of nursing your baby in public for the first time is still a major hurdle to overcome for many women.

The key to successfully nursing your child in public, and enjoying the experience, is 100% down to confidence I believe. In an ideal world, we know that women should never feel uncomfortable about when and where they breastfeed their baby, yet the reality is that for many it is a nerve-wracking prospect. There aren’t many mothers who feel confident about breastfeeding their baby in public from week 1 with their first baby. It is a journey for which most women must take small steps to build confidence.

If you can break down your fears and worries, breastfeeding out and about can be a pleasant experience that allows you to fully enjoy life with your new baby. Whether you are worried about negativity from others, or revealing too much of your postpartum body, or a screaming baby drawing attention to yourself, there is plenty you can do to prepare yourself and feel as comfortable and confident as possible.

1. Do What Comes Naturally, One Step At A Time

A golden rule is to be kind to yourself and take this journey as slowly as necessary. You have just given birth and are adjusting to a whole new world. It is essential that you nurture yourself as well as baby, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get out there immediately.

If you are one of the lucky women who feels confident about feeding their baby out and about any time from day 1, then brilliant: do it. Otherwise take baby steps. Start with feeding your baby in front of friends and family at home, then take short trips to familiar places where you’ll feel most comfortable, preferably with a supportive companion. It won’t take too many feeding sessions to build enough confidence to feel like you can go anywhere, but take it at your own pace.

2. Know Your Rights

To feel confident about feeding in public, you need to be absolutely certain of your rights to be nursing in that place. For this reason it pays to do some research when it comes to your entitlement to when and where you can breastfeed. Some women like to carry a copy of local laws with them for if they were to ever be challenged, as being able to repeat the wording of the laws at a stressful time could be difficult! Note though that relatively few mothers are ever challenged; it’s just good to be prepared.

Almost universally speaking, the laws in most English-speaking countries are very much on the side of breastfeeding mothers. The exact level of protection will depend on where you are reading this: in the US women in 47 states are fully protected by laws allowing them to breastfeed in public, and in two more there is protection from prosecution under indecency laws. There seems to be no known cases of a woman being prosecuted for breastfeeding in public in recent history. UK and Australian citizens are protected by similar laws, and you can find out current legislation through helpful services like the Australian Breastfeeding Association or the La Leche League in the UK.

3. Be Proud and Be Prepared

There are many mind-blowing reasons to choose to breastfeed your baby, for health and otherwise, and you will have already made your choice based on these. Be confident in your choice, and know that nurturing your infant in this way is an incredible thing.

Unfortunately not everybody is as well educated when it comes to breastfeeding. From time to time, breastfeeding mothers are the victims of derogatory comments from members of the public. These incidents are often widely reported on social media, sometimes even through the press. Unsurprisingly, the prospect of an unpleasant experience like this worries many mothers. The risk of it happening generally depends on the cultural norms and the proportion of breastfeeding mothers in the area where you live. Thankfully in most places where lots of women breastfeed it is incredibly rare to encounter any negativity. Yet, it is still a concern for everyone.

You could have a few witty retorts or pointed jokes ready at the back of your mind, but seeing as the only people who are likely to make comments are those who are misinformed, a little education will go a long way. There is very little to argue against when you point out that all respected medical bodies, including the World Health Organisation, recommend long-term breastfeeding.

4. Dress for Success

The last thing you want be doing while trying to soothe a hungry baby in a busy place is to be fumbling around with awkward clothing. Aside from specially designed nursing bras, choose loose fitting tops that are easy to pull up or across, perhaps with a second layer underneath that you can pull down under the breast if you are feeling self-conscious about your tummy. Some moms like to tuck a muslin or cloth into their bra strap while nursing to drape down and over the breast; just be sure baby is not getting too hot. For the most discreet feeding, there are thankfully now plenty of beautifully designed, flattering breastfeeding clothes available with clever access for baby built-in, including dresses. You needn’t feel that breastfeeding requires you to lose your sense of style.

5. Practice, Practice, Practice

The key to self-confidence when breastfeeding is to be sure exactly what you are and are not revealing and be happy with it. After all, we all have different tolerance levels to how much skin we are prepared to reveal while we nurse baby. If necessary, practice at home in front of a mirror, unclipping your bra, latching baby on and clipping your bra back together when baby is finished until you feel comfortable and ready to conquer the outside world.

6. Consider a Cover…

Not everyone feels the need for a specially designed breastfeeding cover, but if you are feeling self-conscious like many new moms, this is one way to be sure you won’t be revealing any skin at all. These clever inventions usually attach around your neck and entirely cover baby and your top-half. You can choose from a wide range of funky fabrics too.

7. …Or a Sling

For the ultimate in convenience, you could get yourself a breastfeeding friendly sling. With some styles you may need to stop, sit down and reposition baby in order to feed, but there are others available where you can breastfeed while standing, depending on the size of your child.

8. Use a Buffer

If you are still feeling nervous and are out with your partner or a companion, you could position them as a screen or buffer to the outside world for a bit of extra confidence.

9. Twist Away

A useful tip if you are concerned about people very close by seeing too more than you want them too, is to turn away and latch your baby onto your breast with your back to people since this is the time you are most likely to inadvertently reveal a nipple. It won’t seem rude since it is just for a moment until baby is happily feeding and shielding your breast with its head.

10. Entertain Older Babies

The older your baby gets, generally the more fidgety it gets. If your baby is getting to this stage consider a few tactile things it can play with while feeding, such a silky scarf around your neck or a necklace. Whatever you choose make sure it is super safe for baby and keep a super close eye on them while they are playing to make sure nothing is blocking their airway.

11. Do Your Research

You need comfy places to nurse baby and this is something you can research before baby even arrives. Make a list of places where you envisage spending time once baby is here, even places like the supermarket. Suss them out for a spot you’ll be happy to nurse in for each place; just remember that you may be there a while so it needs to be comfy and pleasant. You will also need room for your bags and pram and support for your back. Some of the more family-friendly places provided designated rooms for more privacy if you feel you need it. Just remember the car is a better last resort than the bathroom; no one needs to eat lunch in there and definitely not a baby!

12. Don’t Leave it Too Late

If you are keen to avoid attracting attention to yourself, and for a happy baby too, avoid baby getting too hungry and grumpy before you find a spot to settle and nurse. Gradually you’ll get more eagle-eyed to baby’s hunger cues so you can move quickly to a better space while they are still relatively calm. However, if your baby has suddenly woken up ravenous (think growth spurt!) then it’s best just to stop and feed baby as soon as you possibly can, even if it isn’t an ideal location; after all no one can rightfully criticize you for satisfying a hungry child.

13. If All Else Fails, Look Down!

This might seem like surprising advice and at all other times I’d be saying hold your head up high, but if you do find yourself having an attack of nerves a magic remedy is to look down at baby. A happily feeding baby is one of the calmest images you can bring to mind, especially that of your own baby. Remember too that baby is oblivious to whatever fuss is bothering you, all they care about is being well-nourished which is exactly what you are doing for them. Look at baby and remember how amazing they think you are right now!

14. Keep On Going

The more you nurse when out and about, the more natural it is going to feel, trust me. Hang in there!

15. Remember How Amazing You Are

Finally, for a last confidence boost, remember the more women that breastfeed in public the easier it will get for future mothers. Research tells us that a factor in low breastfeeding rates is how breastfeeding mothers feel they are perceived while feeding out and about. Every feed you do out of the house helps normalize breastfeeding and can only boost future breastfeeding figures. You are a hero!

5 Creative Ideas for Making Photo Albums of Your Kids

5 Creative Ideas for Making Photo Albums of Your Kids

By Guest Blogger: Alex Gomez

Author Bio: Alex Gomez is a social media professional who dabbles as a freelance tech writer and photographer. This gadget and car enthusiast also plays video games and keeps himself updated on technology news in his spare time.

5 Creative Ideas for Making Photo Albums of Your Kids

Back in the early days, we documented our best memories through compact cameras with disposable film rolls that could be developed into photo prints. As years have gone by, printed photos began to go out of style, and soon we switched to the digital way of photographing kids.

With the advent of digital photography, the photos we’ve taken remain stored in our computers and storage devices until who knows when. Are you going to just let the memories that come with your children’s photos become forgotten?

If you want to preserve beautiful memories that your kids can look back on when they grow up, print your digital photos and create beautiful photo albums with them.

Time to get crafty! Here are five creative ideas for making photo albums of your kids:

1. Alphabet Photo Album

letter-j-for-jump

Image Credit: flickr.com

While there are different alphabet learning resources that can help you teach your kids their ABCs, a photo album can also be a great one! Snap photos of meaningful things, people, activities, and places whose names start with a letter in the alphabet. Your choice of photos has to mean something to them, so they can recognize it easily and learn their first ABCs fast.

2. Poem-Filled Photo Books

End a fun-filled day with your kids by reading them poems that you’ve personally written just for them. If you can’t find the right words, you can search for meaningful poems and quotations of mothers and fathers to their children. Include photos of you interacting with your children, whether it’s giving them piggyback rides or just having a hearty laugh with them.

3. Book of Firsts

book-of-firsts

Image Credit: flickr.com

Your kids’ first year is the most exciting time because that’s when they experience things for the first time. Document their first haircut, first step, or their adorable first smile. Better get your camera ready so that you won’t miss out on those precious, unexpected moments and have something to add to your children’s books of firsts.

 4. Travel Photo Book

travel-photo-book

Image Credit: flickr.com

 

If your family loves to travel, preserve your vacation memories by making themed photo books. Instead of stacking your photos in your closet and hard drive, make exciting and adventurous stories out of them. If you want to get creative and make one on your own, make a DIY travel scrapbook instead.

4. Birthday Memories

Compile photos of your kids’ birthday parties in one album. Start from the very first birthday to the most recent ones. This kind of photo album will be a sentimental way to keep track of how much your kids have grown through the years.

In Conclusion

You kids’ photos don’t deserve to be tucked away in a shoebox and buried deep in your computer’s hard drive or storage device. They should be displayed and preserved so that when your kids grow up, they have physical mementos that will tell wonderful stories of their childhood.

Buying a New Computer Shouldn’t Cost a Fortune

If you’re in the market for a new laptop or home computer, check out these recommendations from our resident computer guy!

By: Guest Blogger Scott Maaser

scott

Scott “The Computer Guy”

Bio: Not only does my husband fix computers for a living by day, but he writes code for desktop apps in a few different programming languages by night. He is also the resident computer guy in both of our families and circle of friends. He pretty much lives, eats, and breathes computers, and so when I saw this website recommending “great deals on computers for homeschool families”, I naturally showed him wondering if it really was a good deal. He laughed, and explained how buying a new computer these days shouldn’t be an expensive ordeal, and how “deals” like these aren’t really deals at all . I asked him to write me a post explaining his answer in more more detail, and here it is, from our resident computer guy!

Buying a New Computer Shouldn’t Cost a Fortune

School is back in session, and that means back to school shopping. Pens, notebooks, backpacks – everyone knows how to shop for those items, but when it comes to computers, sometimes the amount of options and features can be overwhelming. Where do people go to get recommendations for computers? Most people I know go into a big-box store like Best Buy, but stores like that have to cover a lot of overhead and aren’t really looking out for your best interests.

Who Am I?

I’d like to take a quick break here and talk a little about myself and my experience. I’ve worked at Best Buy in the past, and I’m currently working as a Client Technology Technician, which is just a fancy way of saying I just fix computers at a large company. I’m fixing laptops day in and day out – both in the workplace and with my co-worker’s computers. I’ve been doing work like this on and off for the last 20 years.

What They’re Really Selling You

My wife just sent me a link to this website which advertises discounted laptops for homeschoolers. I looked through what they offered, and I noticed a couple of things. First of all, I saw a few models of the laptops they offered as ones I had worked on 4-5 years ago. Looking at their pricing, I didn’t really see how their price points offered any kind of noticeable discount. I know they do include a 4 year warranty, laptop bag, and 8GB flash drive, but not everyone wants to purchase all those add-ons. They also offer a slight discount on Microsoft Office at $118 (more on this later).

If you take a look at their Lenovo T400 at $250, for example, I noticed that it came out in 2010 and really does not have the specs to compete with modern processors and memory technology. In fact, Amazon currently has T400s selling at $118.49 (this includes shipping).

So look, all this aside, I know there are some really good laptops (and desktop computers) out these days that come with a manufacturer’s 1-year warranty, have modern technology, and cost significantly less than the computers you can get from big-box stores and most online retailers.

My Laptop Recommendation

Lenovo 100s with Windows 10 ($210) – I have been using Lenovo laptops and ThinkPad laptops for over a decade. They hold up the best over time and have had the least number of issues during normal wear and tear. This version of the 100s has double the standard storage space with 64GB of solid-state storage. This model also comes with a full version of Windows 10 which means it’s ready to handle pretty much any kind of educational software and web browsing you can find to supplement education.

My Desktop Recommendation

Azulle Mini Desktop PC with Windows 10 ($169, or bundled with keyboard and camera for $255) – With 2GB RAM, 32GB storage, and a modern Intel Atom processor, it will handle any basic task you throw at it. You will be able to hook this up to your TV and watch Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, or anything else. It also has VGA video output, so you can connect it to most computer monitors.

If you are looking for a monitor, this ViewSonic 22 inch monitor ($99) can really bring your computing experience into vivid existence. ViewSonic has been in the monitor business for decades, and this display really showcases some of their best efforts. It comes with DVI and VGA ports, which allows it to not only connect to most computers, but also can scale up to Full HD 1080p resolution. It even has built in speakers so you can experience stereo sound right on your desktop without purchasing additional speakers.

The Azul Mini Desktop Computer can stand alone as it’s own system and will allow you to install Microsoft Office or any other variant of free Office alternatives. As a teacher or student (yes, even homeschool), you can get Microsoft Office for FREE (along with 1 TB of online storage). If you don’t want to go that route, here are your other purchasing options: purchase it for a one time fee of $149 (1 installation), pay $9.99/mo. (or $99/yr.) for up to 5 installations or $6.99/mo. (or $69.99/yr.) for 1 installation.

It also has 3 USB ports, which means it will not only handle a standard set of USB keyboard and mouse, but it also has one more port in case you want to hook up a USB external Hard Drive ($54.99) for extra storage.

Other Extras

Flash DriveThis device hold 32 GB, which is enough to move anything you need to move from one device to another. Speaking of devices, this has connections for both full sized USB, like on your computers, as well as micro USB, to connect to Android and Windows smartphones. This allows you to copy things to and from your phone or tablet to your computer – super handy. Also, at only $11.99, this is a great price for 32 GB of flash storage.

Keyboard/MouseAt just under $20, this wireless keyboard and mouse combo is a great buy. It’s made by Logitech, which is the industry leader in keyboards and mice. Plus, it’s wireless so installation is simple. Wireless peripherals have come a long way in terms of battery life. I use a wireless Logitech keyboard and mouse at work, and I usually need to change out the single AA battery in the mouse and the 2 AA batteries in the keyboard about once a year. Plus, the wireless feature means less wires coming in and out of your computer.

Printer: We have gone through many many printers, and finally settled on the Epson WorkForce Pro because it was reviewed to be the best quality and most cost effective printer for a small business, and with the amount of printing that we do, this has provided both quality and quantity, but not without hassles. It can’t handle thick card stock, we have dealt with many paper jams, and the ink is pricy, but overall, we have been quite happy. If we had to purchase a new printer today, however, we might take a look at some of these models.

In Conclusion

All in all, getting a new computer that can help you move your home computing experience into some newer, faster technology shouldn’t break the bank. Feel free to leave a comment (or send an email) if you have any questions about anything, and I will be happy to answer them!

10 Things You Need to Know About Natural and Induced Labor

By Guest Blogger: Regina Due

Author Bio: A parenting writer, Regina empowers women through her writing and parenting tips. If she’s not writing, you can catch her surfing the web for what’s new at Fertile Mind.

10 Things You Need to Know About Natural and Induced Labor

Every birthing experience is different. Not only from one woman to another but even from your first born to your second. While controlling every aspect of the labor process is out of the question, arming yourself with knowledge about what you can expect is something that you should work on, as much as you work on preparing all of the physical things for when your newborn arrives.

There are two ways labor can be initiated — naturally and through inducement and the following are ten things you need to know about these two processes so that you can feel more prepared.

Definition of the Two

Natural labor comes about organically with your body starting the process on its own while with induced labor, the pain in started artificially by medication in the cervix, through a drip or via other methods.

Choosing between the Two

There isn’t really an option to choosing between natural or induced labor. You have no control over natural labor and when it comes to induced labor, only certain factors will impel the medical team to start labor pains such as you being two weeks past your due date, having an infection in your uterus; having high blood pressure or diabetes are some of the most common reasons.

Encouraging Natural Labor

You may not have control over your body but you can stimulate it into going into labor naturally with a few things. Exercise is always a good option, especially in those last few weeks of your pregnancy. Sex is another good way of helping your body go into labor naturally. Other things like spicy food, acupressure and even a bumpy car ride have been pointed out as helping to encourage the body to start labor naturally.

Movement

With natural labor you are more likely to be able to move around in your hospital room, sit on the ball and try certain exercises or stretching but with induced labor you are more likely to be bed bound, attached to the drip and being monitored while you endure the labor pains.

Induction Risks

While there aren’t any risks other than the usual ones that come with child birth when it is a natural labor, with an induced labor there are some added risks such as that of having a higher chance of giving birth through a C-section, especially if your cervix is not ready for birth. Other risks like “fetal distress,” infections and umbilical cord problems could also be caused by induced labor.

Timespan

Induced labor means your body has been given the push it needs to set itself into labor mode but that doesn’t mean you will give birth more quickly than those with a natural labor. Regardless of how your labor starts, this process will last depending on other factors.

Different Labor Hormones

When you go into labor naturally it means your body is ready for it and there are the hormones geared to pulse their way with your every contraction. With induced labor, your body is not ready yet and so artificial hormones are used during the labor process.

Not Eating Much

Since induced labor comes with an increased risk of you giving birth via C-section, you won’t be allowed to eat as much as you feel like during labor because of this possible surgical procedure.

Different Contractions

While all women can vouch for the pain felt during labor, women who have gone through both natural and an induced labor have said that with the latter the contractions feel “more intense,” they last longer and “they’re harder because they aren’t as productive” as those from a natural labor where the body is naturally wanting to gear up for the baby.

Adapt to the Restrictions

With induced labor forcing you to stay in bed more than natural labor, preparing yourself mentally is key to not allowing the experience to stress you too much. Practicing mindfulness throughout your pregnancy, doing proper breathing exercises and most importantly meditation, are all things that will help you to overcome the pain and the frustration of being bed bound, so that even though the experience will be hard, you will have as much control over your state of mind as possible, and create a great environment to welcome your baby in.

The Metamorphosis of Motherhood Embracing Motherhood

The Metamorphosis of Motherhood

By Guest Blogger Lisa Hogan

Bio: Little sister of Stacey Maaser. Mother of a tender-hearted 2-year-old boy. Resting somewhere between an all natural hippy, and a modern, super clean city girl.

Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a mother. It’s what I wanted to be when I “grew up”. Then I graduated college, got married, and my husband informed me that we were broke and had to work a few years until we could have children. That was hard, but I threw myself into my work and learned to enjoy the flow of it. It took longer than I wanted, but finally my husband said we could start trying for a baby. One month went by, then another, then another. Every month was a let down. I eventually thought we were infertile and became a bit depressed. But I just decided to focus on work, fashion, recipes, and travel, and time passed by. I liked my life.

After one year it finally happened. I was pregnant! I could hardly believe it. It was what I had always dreamed of. I was ecstatic! Everything was wonderful.

Then reality hit. I couldn’t exercise like before. I had to cut down on caffeine and sugar. I couldn’t eat all sorts of other things that were dangerous during pregnancy. Harumph! Besides that, I started to “show”. Everyone was telling me how my face looked different. They wanted to touch my growing bump. Then I started getting forgetful, gassy, bloated, and my acne got worse. Call it hormones, but it was a big reality check. As I approached the due date this baby made it hard to sleep, caused cramps in my legs, and I couldn’t even walk very long before I started to ache all over. I retired from work the last month and a half and tried to read all I could for the future that awaited me.

Then the day arrived. Labor! It was everything I expected and more! After trying for a home birth, I ended up in the hospital, and after 36 hours we finally got to meet Tristan. I was now a real MOTHER! It was amazing. I felt all those mama hormones start to surge through me. I loved this boy. He had been a part of me, and now on the outside he felt like he was still part of me. It’s like the umbilical cord was and is still there.

Again, reality soon set in. I didn’t get my body back as fast as I thought. I could no longer leave this little boy without leaking milk, feeling anxious about him, or missing him terribly. Going out to eat was no longer fun and relaxing. While at a restaurant, he would start to cry, we would get embarrassed, I would try to nurse him, the nursing cover would fall off, no one really got to eat their meal, and we realized that it just wasn’t working anymore. Don’t even get me started about sleep! That didn’t happen much with a small baby. Also, talking to other adults would typically end in some sort of small catastrophe with a crying baby at the end.

Anyways, this is where I think new mothers can learn a thing or two from the butterfly. A caterpillar might be happy and carefree, eating away, focused on herself and the needs of the moment for awhile, then at some point the desire for something more switches and she encases herself and becomes a pupa. In this stage the caterpillar sacrifices EVERYTHING from it’s past life. To move to the next stage, the caterpillar, and a new mother, has to sacrifice everything. There might be a bit of sadness and nostalgia as you realize you can never really go back to those carefree days of just eating leaves. A mother really does transform too. She becomes something totally different. Those first few months are crucial as she becomes forever bonded to this new little person. When the butterfly emerges after it’s encasement there’s a lot to learn and do. A butterfly now can dart around on the wind, pollinating flowers, finding a mate and producing more caterpillars. It’s an exciting new stage.

Metamorphosis_of_a_Butterfly_Merrian_1705

Metamorphosis of a Butterfly (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, by Merian Maria Sybilla, 1705)

Being a mother I feel like I have changed in so many ways. As my baby started to be content to stay on the blanket for while, and as he slept more, I could start to gain some of my “old” life back, but all of it with a different focus and appreciation. There is a different goal in life, and a lot of it revolves around this new little baby. There is so much to learn and do as a mother. It is difficult, and you do have to change the way you do just about EVERYTHING. But after this transformation, there is a new sense of duty and excitement to life. There’s so much fulfillment in wearing an outfit that suits crawling around on the floor above any expression of fashion.

Bottom line, once a baby is on the way, your life is beginning to change, and it’s a wonderful journey. Don’t yearn for the caterpillar stage once you’ve become a butterfly. Embracing motherhood means SO MUCH when you let it really change you. When you embrace these changes, you love your new wardrobe. You love dancing with your baby. Rocking them to sleep. Delighting them with a peekaboo or a tickle. When they are peacefully asleep after a day of adventures you feel so accomplished. I never thought I would find someone I would be so HAPPY to share my raspberries with (and I love raspberries by the way).

I am a mother, and I absolutely love that it defines me now.

The Metamorphosis of Motherhood Embracing Motherhood

The Metamorphosis of Motherhood

How Motherhood has Changed Me: A Testimony

By Guest Blogger Renee Washburn

Author Bio: Renee is a married stay at home mother of one sweet 10 month old boy. She loves learning new things, living a natural life, and is passionate about her faith.

How Motherhood has Changed Me: A Testimony

Up until the point where my husband and I considered starting a family, I never really gave motherhood that much thought.  However, when I was just a baby, I had a great infatuation with other babies and children.  One of my first words was “baby”, and I always migrated to other babies throughout my childhood and my preteen years.  I began babysitting on my own at 11 and tried starting my own babysitting business.  From that point on, I always had a job each week until I graduated high school.

It was just in me.  I loved babies and children and I felt like I could relate with them.  Throughout my 20s, I was always involved in the youth programs with our church, and to this day still have many young people around me.  I always thought that when the day came for my own baby, it would just be second nature, but there was something that I hadn’t thought about.  Pregnancy.  Labor.  Delivery.  Oh crap, I have heard nothing but horror stories!  I was scared to have a baby inside me growing and then have to “deliver” it?!  But it seems as thought God knew before the foundations of the world how much I would learn and learn to love this phase and the passion that would develop to help others see how amazing it truly is.

Planning for a Baby

About a year before our first born was conceived, I had inherited a whole stack of baby books from a friend.  She knew I had been thinking about having a baby so she thought it would be nice for me to understand a little of what I was getting into.  I was sure thankful for that!  I read the beginning of “What to Expect When You Are Expecting” and what options are available for expectant moms.  I did have some clue as to the options in regards to pain management, and I had heard that my mom was able to give birth naturally.  She spoke about it a lot while I was growing up and her choice of breastfeeding and how it was the most natural.  Well, me being a person who chooses the natural, God supplied route, I was interested in learning about natural birth.  I had heard about such a thing as “midwives’ and thought that might be nice since I didn’t really like medical doctors all that much.  In this section of the book I saw that there was such a thing as a “birth center” and a “certified nurse-midwife.”  I liked both those options so I instantly decided this was my choice.
Now to see if Dallas, Texas had either of those options.  (I am a planner, and I feel like I need to have a plan set before I start the actual journey.)  So sure enough, Dallas had both of those, and it seemed somewhat affordable.  But we first needed my husband to get a good job that would allow me stay home with our children.  This process lasted for months and months and months until it just became clear it was not available.  Then we found out that my mother was sick and my dad was having a challenging time taking care of her, my grandmother, and working full time.  Time to move.
So we packed up what we had and headed across the country to New England to live with my parents and grandmother!  It was a great change from the tiny apartment we were living in to a large 3,200+ square foot home with an apartment attached for my grandmother.  One evening after we had settled in, my husband and I were watching “Call the Midwife” (a show that we had both had grown to enjoy) when an advertisement for midwives in Connecticut came on the screen.  My heart warmed and I immediately knew this is who we would have a baby with!  Little did I know that they were indeed Nurse-Midwives, but they did ONLY home births!!!  Home birth?!?!  What age are we living in?  The early 1900s?  I didn’t know of anyone who had a home birth and thought it was a little crazy.  But I knew how God worked in me and I knew that I needed to give this a chance.  So I set up an appointment to visit their home quarters down on the shoreline and asked a million questions..and I wasn’t even pregnant!  But as I left, I felt peaceful and knew this was it.  I trusted them. I believed they knew what they were doing and had my best interest at heart.  So the next weekend we got pregnant and the journey began.

Pregnancy

After the 7 weeks of morning sickness (which I now know is due to a lack of protein in my diet), I began my research on how to best grow this being inside me, take care of myself, and have a successful delivery at home.  One of my midwives suggested looking into a birthing class when I was about 12 weeks along because I had so many questions!  So I found the closest Bradley Method teacher, for the best price, and boy did I find the BEST teacher!  She was a mother of 4, had a home birth, and was studying to become a midwife!  She had loads and loads of information and really just helped my husband and I immensely.  I felt so blessed to have had her.  God is sure good!!  Every time we learned something new, I felt like my brain grew and my eyes were enlightened.  And each time I gave glory to my Heavenly Father because I knew that this is His will for all women and He knew how bad I wanted it!
As the months crept along, the anticipation grew, and we were more prepared than ever.  I would only let positive images and thoughts and stories into my mind and heart.  I would not listen to anything negative, and I really believe that this is why I had such an amazing birth experience.  I just believed and trusted God whole heartedly for everything to be the best, and not just me, but my husband as well.  We were completely like-minded about everything which in turn helped our marriage by being more on the same page about just about everything than we ever had been.  This “baby” was bringing us closer together!
My due date came and went and Baby Washburn did not show himself until 2 weeks later. (We did not know it was a boy at the time. We stayed away from all ultrasounds because it has been proven to affect the fetus, and health insurance did not cover them.)  So we were surprised when we found out it was a boy, although we both deeply wanted a boy and internally knew it was one.

Birth

My active labor lasted less than 10 hours, and everything moved along at a nice pace.  I was in the shower, in the kiddie pool, and then standing over the toilet pushing!  There was one moment when I said while sitting up in the pool, “Now I understand while people want epidurals!”  But I was glad I didn’t get one because I would rather have this beautiful experience than lying on my back in a bright hospital room pushing whenever the doctor says to push.

Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding went extremely well.  Again, I read credible books, and I trusted God that I would be able to do it. My milk came in early and my son gained all the weight he needed. He was and still is incredibly happy and healthy.  I have never pumped or given him a bottle.  I have never left him with someone else.  I strongly believe that breast is the best and my needs are second to his needs right now.  It is only for a short period of time and I would rather have this time with him now than regret that I didn’t spend enough time with him when he was a baby.  I rarely get tired.  And if I do need a shower or bath break, my husband or my parents are in the house to spend some quality time with him.  When he has weened himself then I will treat myself to a spa day.

Circumcision

There was a debate between my husband and I about whether or not to circumcise.  I really did not see the need as I had heard and read that in the Bible they were circumcised on the 8th day because that is
when Vitamin K was being produced. But when was this circumcision happening?  In the Old Testament, and we know that this was for this specific group of people.  It does not say in the New Testament, after Jesus Christ, for us to circumcise.  There was a significance for this ritual, and we do not need it now.  But what about keeping it clean?  Why not just teach him to clean it!  Why would God have the foreskin there to begin with if He wanted you to cut it off?  And why aren’t girls circumcised?  They have foreskin too… So yeah, there is a big debate in the world about this.  But I am glad my husband realized the unnecessary means for this ritual and decided to keep all my baby’s body parts.

Sleeping

Sleep arrangements have been another debate in our family.  We have a large dog and in my mind there was no way a baby was going to sleep in our bed because of him.  Over and over I had heard mothers telling me that co-sleeping is best, but I could not fathom it!  I did not want my dumb dog to accidentally sleep on him.  How horrible!  At first, we had a bassinet that would be next to me, and I planned that I would just pick him up whenever he needed to nurse.  But then 3 days before he was born, I had this thought that I needed to sleep with him in the bed, for at least the first few days.  So we trained our dog to sleep in the living room, and it worked!
A few days of baby in bed with us as turned into weeks, then months, and now he is almost 10 months old and still sleeps with us.  I have thought about moving him to his crib because it was getting a little uncomfortable for me, but really, he is still feeding at least 2 or 3 times at night and it just didnt’ seem right.  So he is still with us and I enjoy every night with him.  I have read and have heard from other moms that they will leave the bed, eventually, on their own, then they are ready.  So I am still learning about this one.

Vaccines

Boy that was a hard choice to make.  I read for weeks and prayed for months to find the best information and advice on whether or not to vaccinate, and this is what we decided.  Since I am a stay at home mom who plans on home schooling my children, there is really no point to inject them with a serum composed of mercury, formaldehyde, aluminum, and cells from monkeys.  Again, my philosophy of God had it figured out in the beginning of how are bodies can fight and fend for itself.  Go natural- go God’s way.  “We are fearfully and wonderfully made…”

In Conclusion

In my day to day life as a mother, I really just go back to simplicity and doing it the natural way.  God’s way.  Everything from our marriage, to personal decisions on finances (living debt-free and living within our means), to being a stay at home mom, to daily time in God’s Word, to daily prayer, meditation, exercise, walking, yoga, stretching, home school, having a naturopathic pediatrician, eating an organic, balanced diet, drinking and making kombucha, avoiding processed foods and sugar…
This new role of motherhood has changed me for the better.  It is something that I love and feel confident about. It’s like my whole life up until the day I gave birth to my son was for this purpose.  So why not do it RIGHT.  Every day I pray that God will show me how to do it the right way the first time.  I don’t want to have to correct a whole bunch of bad habits.  I want to do it right.  I am not saying that everything that I do is the right way, but so far it has worked for me incredibly.
I am not someone to just do it my own way and close all doors to what other mothers are doing.  I seek, I ask, I explore, I observe, and I absorb.  I want to be the mother that God originally designed from the beginning.  This is my desire and this is my quest.  Initially my husband and I wanted 4 children, but not really knowing what that means, we will take it one at a time.  We love our first child with everything we have and do have room for another in our heart.  So we will just take it from there.
Embracing Motherhood 9 Things I’ve Learned from Being a Grandma

9 Things I’ve Learned from Being a Grandma

By Guest Blogger Diane Napierkowski

Author Bio: Diane is a mother of five who home schooled her children and is passionate about learning, teaching, seeking the truth, living a healthy lifestyle, and spending time with her family. When not working as a Quality Engineer, she can be found supporting her husband in their family run fundraising business at Great Lakes Promotions.

9 Things I’ve Learned from Being a Grandma

  • I never knew my love would grow so much. There’s a disconnect with being a grandparent compared to being a parent. As a grandparent, you don’t see the children every day, you don’t wipe their noses, fix their hurts, etc. As a parent, I thought my heart was full, but when I became a grandparent, it grew even more. There is never a limit to the capacity of your heart. My grandchildren continuously surprise me and melt my heart when I least expect it.
  • Grandchildren CRAVE your love. They need you, their hearts long for you, and it touches you so deeply. Their love is 100% genuine.
  • Grandchildren grow up fast. The moments you have with them are finite, and you only see them now and then. The moments you have together are special, but there are so many special ones that you miss along the way. Realize that life is a short journey in which your lives overlap for a time.
  • Grandparents get to fill in the spots instead of covering all bases. As a parent, everything must be in balance, but as a grandparent, you can be ridiculous! You can buy them a crazy toy that they might not even like, splurge on ice cream before dinner, and let them stay up way past bedtime during an overnight knowing that these things are the exceptions, not the rules.
  • There are still many things that are the same as when you raised your own children! Don’t be intimidated by new technology, and remember that hugs and kisses still pack a 100% punch.
  • Your kids are still your kids. See your children as little again. Pick up the pieces and give your own children the things you forgot to give them or the things you were too busy to see way back when. Realize that your children are reliving their childhoods through their children. Grandchildren are a medium for any healing that needs to occur.
  • Be HONEST! Be painfully honest. Show your true self and cleanse your heart with them. Be authentic. Deepen their hearts with the gift of who you really are.
  • Be vulnerable. Open up your heart, admit your faults, and let them see your flaws. Grandchildren are the most forgiving.
  • Encourage your grandchildren to love their nuclear family. Let them be refreshed and empowered by them. Strengthen and support their love for their parents and siblings.

Life is a journey, not a destination. You never arrive, but grandchildren are the Grand Canyons, the Yosemites, and the geysers of Yellowstone along the way.

Grandma Di with Elliot and Ruby

Grandma Di with Elliot and Ruby

10 Ways To Build Your Child’s Confidence

10 Ways To Build Your Child’s Confidence

By Guest Blogger Regina Due

Author Bio: A parenting writer, Regina empowers women through her writing and parenting tips. If she’s not writing, you can catch her surfing the web for what’s new at Fertile Mind.

Building a child’s confidence is a job that starts at a very young age, but is as crucial as picking the right school system for him. If you want to make sure that your child will be a confident, happy kid, these top ten tips will help.

  • Establish a physical bond with your child early on. A close physical bond can help your child feel safe in the world during their formative years. Using something along the line of a baby carrier that supports skin-to-skin contact can help with this once youre past the newborn age.
  • Allow them to fall down and fail occasionally. Believe it or not, kids will learn that failure isnt the end of the world if you let them make mistakes. In fact, showing them that its important to try again will make them realize that failing is a part of life. They will feel more comfortable with taking risks, which in turn will make them more confident in their ability to recover easily.
  • Teach them to stand up to bullies. By explaining to them that its okay to stand up for themselves, youre teaching them that its okay to rely on themselves to do the harder things in life. Many parents have noted positive changes in confidence after they enrolled their children in self-defense classes, too.
  • Be responsive to your child during your child’s early years. When a child cries out for food or milk, its because they need you. Being responsive to your childs needs and cries shows your child that you view them as precious, and as a priority. What can be more confidence-boosting than that?
  • Be positive. Kids thrive under positivity, and parents that are regularly healthy and happy will make children feel happier, too. Its hard to deny that seeing happy people also happens to be confidence-boosting for adults, too.
  • Call your child by his name. Oh, what an amazing impact just saying someones name can have! Children who hear their names on a regular basis often have a better sense of identity, and also have a tendency of feeling like they matter. You can never go wrong with saying your childs name. After all, dont you like it when your parents called you by name instead of Here, kid!
  • Encourage your child to discover his or her own talents. A child who sees that they can do great things is a child who will always be a bit more confident than his or her peers. It doesnt matter if his talent is art, sports, or even video games, either. By encouraging your childs exploration and praising their good work, youre showing them that theyve got value in their talents, and that will build their confidence more than anything else.
  • Praise your child whenever he accomplishes something difficult. Tossing empty praise at a child can do more harm than good, but that doesnt mean that you should never compliment your kid when he actually achieves something difficult to do. When your child actually has to work for praise, that praise will mean a lot more. It also will give them a more realistic outlook on life, too.
  • Teach your child to accept other people from different backgrounds. If you want your child to feel confident in a world that may or may not accept her due to circumstances out of control, make an effort to show them that you and those around you accept and appreciate people of different backgrounds. Teaching them to accept others will make them feel more confident around people of other backgrounds, regardless of how old they are.
  • Keep an eye out for bad influences. Whether its just the possibility of hanging with the wrong crowd in school, or something much worse, a childs exposure to bad influences can definitely eat away at his or her self-esteem. Curbing negative people and lessons in your childs life can be difficult, but it can seriously help them mature in a confident, healthy manner.

It’s important to realize that confidence is something that is built up over time. Be patient with your child, and also make a point of it to reinforce their confidence every single day. With hope and hard work, it will pay off in the end.