Faith Like a Child

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven -Matthew 18:1-4

Oh, to have faith and trust in the Lord like my child trusts in me. When my 1 year old stumbles and falls she doesn’t hesitate to get up and run to me.

When she is weary she seeks me for comfort, knowing I will take her into my arms to rock her to sleep.

When she looks up at me, her stubby hand out and says “Cracker?” she doesn’t doubt that I will feed her.

She doesn’t question where it will come from but instead waits expectantly, her doe eyes fixed on me in joyful anticipation.

She never questions if I love her, she just runs to me, climbing me like a tree to wrap her little arms around my neck and kiss my cheek.

She doesn’t question if she’s safe because she knows I faithfully care for her each day. She doesn’t wonder if I will be with her because I watch over her, constant as the sky.

She can’t speak to me with eloquence but, I know she adores me with barely a word.

And all I am is an imperfect mother how much more than does our perfect Father in Heaven deserve our trust and confidence in him?

Managing Stress and Anxiety During Pregnancy

Expecting a bundle of joy is one of the most exciting times of your life but all of this change can also bring with it unwanted stress and anxiety. It is very important to keep stress and anxiety in check when you are pregnant because you don’t want your little one to be negatively impacted in any way.

If you suffer with anxiety prior to pregnancy like I did you may find that some of your coping mechanisms such as certain medications are no longer an option. So what’s the good news?

There are many ways to manage stress and anxiety naturally that in my experience work much better than medication long term and can continue to be useful tools postpartum and long after as well.

One of the best things you can do to manage stress and anxiety is to have a self care plan. The things listed in this article are part of mine and I hope they help you form one of your own!

Know Your Triggers.

The first step is to try to recognize what your triggers are. What were you eating, doing, watching or who were you talking to when your stress or anxiety came on? Take note of what brought the feelings on and plan accordingly. Learn to reduce and avoid triggers when possible. We all know that avoiding triggers isn’t always an option but, knowing and preparing yourself to face them can help.

Know Your Comforts.

Learn what soothes you. Everyone has a happy place! Is yours a book? A warm (not hot) bath? A back rub from your babe? Soothing music? Find what you like and do it regularly. Daily even! It’s not selfish! Caring for yourself is part of caring for others and having a healthy pregnancy.

Exercise.*

You don’t need to pump iron or run a marathon to reap the benefits of exercise for both body and mind while pregnant! A short walk or gentle yoga flow can regulate your blood pressure, release serotonin, keeps your expanding body loose, and does wonders to clear your mind.

Pets.

There is a reason the lady on the last flight you took had an “emotional support animal”. Though they can’t verbally  communicate animals provide companionship when you may be home alone or on bed rest, relieve stress through petting and snuggling, and can be used to ground you when your anxiety starts to take over (more on that below). Read our adoption story and how my dog helped me through my last pregnancy here.

Vitamin D.*

So many of us suffer from vitamin D deficiency and don’t even know it! An estimated 40%-60% of the entire U.S. population is deficient! Especially in the winter and colder climates with less sunshine. Vitamin D cannot only support your mood but is also important for healthy bone development in your baby. There are few foods that contain vitamin D in comparison to other vitamins. The average prenatal vitamin oftentimes doesn’t provide enough so talk to your doctor about supplementation.

Diet.

We all know a healthy diet is best but, sometimes food can become an unhealthy coping mechanism (Hi! Stress eater over here!). We can reach for sugar when we feel stressed for that serotonin release. I wouldn’t dream of denying a pregnant woman a cookie but make sure your snacking comes from hunger and isn’t being used as an emotional crutch. If you feel yourself bingeing stop and assess how you are feeling. The sugar rush might help at the moment but, it won’t solve any emotional issues you may be having.

Talk to your partner.

You’re in this together! Tell him how you feel and let him be the glue to hold you together. I know my husband is #1 on my list when I need to vent. There will be many challenges to face throughout life and parenthood and knowing you have him to lean on can be the reassurance you need to keep moving forward.

Talk to your Doctor or Midwife.

If your stress and anxiety is becoming overwhelming there is no shame in counseling. Having someone to talk to can be helpful and a professional with an unbiased, outsider’s point of view can give you a hand in recognizing the reasons for your stress and anxiety, provide you with healthy coping mechanisms and can create a self care plan tailor made for you!

Say No!

Growing a baby is a 24 hour 7 day a week process but unless you are very lucky it probably isn’t all you have to do! Just say no to the extra chores, extra commitments, and extra activities that you don’t have the energy for. Take time off of work if you need it. Ask your friends to excuse your absence and ask your family to pick up your slack!  You can resume your Super Woman ways in a few months.

Sleep.

Do it early, often and while you can! Once baby is here you will wish you took advantage of a midday nap when the house was quiet. For me sleep has always been easier said than done. Pregnancy insomnia is as real as any other lovely symptom and can really stress you out. If you feel yourself tossing and turning don’t freak! Do a calming activity like reading or listening to music until your sleepy again. Avoid the blue light of your TV or phone screen as it can be stimulating and can wake you up instead of soothe you back to sleep.

Pray.

This is by far the best tool in my self-care arsenal! Peter 1: 5-7 says Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. God is always there and wants us to come to him with our every need, no prayer is too small! Place it all into his hands! Pray for you and your baby’s health, your baby’s future, your marriage, ask God to bless your delivery and motherhood journey, and medicate on scripture. For me, knowing that I could rely on God and witnessing his faithfulness built my trust in him.  Read my post here about how my faith helped me overcome my anxiety.

12983285_10154691916099186_1919374959451825954_o

But what if I panic?

Panic attacks are a physical response to stress and anxiety. Your heart starts pounding, your chest gets tight, or your hands could sweat or tingle. Over the years I have been able to feel them coming on and developed some techniques for escaping their grasp.

  1. Sit Down! If you feel light headed, sit down! We don’t want any falls when we’re carrying precious cargo!
  2. Breathe! This is the best way to get your heart rate to return to normal. Take full breaths in and out. Practice rhythmic, calming breathing techniques and use what you learn during attacks.
  3. Ground Yourself! Find a familiar item around you and focus on it. Count the fan blades or floor tiles, go pet your dog or cat, find a family member or call a friend. Distract yourself from your anxiety by occupying your mind with something other than your trigger.
  4. Talk to Yourself! Panic attacks can put you into a spiral of irrational fear. Find a mantra, something as simple as “It’s going to be okay” can help you remember that everything is okay.
  5. Get Help! If you feel out of control do not hesitate to call for help!

Share your self-care plan and some of your techniques for managing stress and anxiety below!

Wishing you health and happiness!

❤ Cait

*This information comes from my own experiences. I am not a medical professional. Please check with your doctor before starting any supplementation or exercise program!

Sources: www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/vitamin-d-and-pregnancy/

Photos by: Jessica Dantowitz

 

Ordinary Days, Extraordinary Love

Ah, Love!

What comes to mind when you hear the word? Is it canoodling in the candle light? A kid-free five-course meal? Long walks on the beach? Champagne and bubble baths? All the mushy clichés of Valentine’s Day?

Though these things are undoubtedly delightful, in marriage love goes deeper than roses and chocolate. When you build and share a life together it is less often ideal than it is real and love is found in the ordinary days and simple moments.

Love is found in small gestures. It’s holding hands in church, arms wrapping around me from behind when I’m busy in the kitchen, a knowing smile across the room, and meeting for lunch amidst a busy day.

Love is found in trust. Never fearing that the hand I hold would strike me in anger or reach out to another for affection, but instead guide me in love, brush away my tears, and gently cradle our newborn’s fuzzy heads.

Love is found in our weakness. It’s talking me down when I panic, convincing him we’ll make it through when finances get tight, him reassuring me if I’m down, and me rubbing his back after a hard day’s work.

Love is found in the trenches of parenthood. It’s tag-teaming dirty diapers, picking up where one left off during an exasperating lecture, throwing our hands up and laughing (instead of losing it) when the kids won’t listen, the dog is barking and the house is a mess.

Love is found in our frustration. It’s kissing each other good night even if we had a bad day, choosing to speak calmly when we might want to shout, serving each other when we’d rather not, and talking it out when we’d rather walk away.

Love is found in our friendship. It’s poking fun at each others small quirks, laughing until our sides ache, saving stories from the day to tell each other later, and feeling the years dissolve when the connection sparks like its still new.

Love is found in our comfort. It’s telling me I’m beautiful in my sweatpants and bun, cuddling in front of our favorite TV show, unashamedly sharing junk food and limbs draped lazily over one another in slumber.

Love is found in our memories. It’s the old inside jokes that still crack us up, the same Christmas ornaments on the tree each year, the milestones we’ve reached together, and the many obstacles we’ve overcome.

Love is found in our futures. It’s the way he looks at our children, when he lets me know that they look up to me, knowing that through all of life’s changes our devotion will remain, and knowing that no matter how old I get he’ll always be two years older!

True love’s path ouside of the pages of a romance novel usually isn’t packed full of breath taking moments and grand gestures but rather punctuated by them. Proposals, weddings, babies, and anniversaries; the rarity is what makes them so special. Yet, the routine can still hold such beauty to enjoy so long as we don’t overlook it!

So, if your Valentine’s Day looks less like a room full of flowers and balloons and more like grabbing takeout so no one has to cook, don’t be upset! Smile at each other between bites and play footsie in your fuzzy socks. Seriously, who needs a 3ft teddy bear anyway? Your ordinary love is extraordinary simply because it is yours!

❤ Cait

My Love-Hate Relationship With Extended Breastfeeding

Anyone who has breastfed knows that it is not always quite as easy or tranquil as it is oftentimes portrayed. I had breastfed my older daughter but like everything else 10 years later it felt like starting over. Similar to how we forget about our labor pains when we have our newborns in our arms, my memories of breastfeeding were blurred by time and nostalgia.

I was surprised with how difficult it was to begin the journey with my new daughter.  I mean, ouch! I lived off Lanolin cream and didn’t wear a top for at least 2 weeks! Though feeding an infant on demand was still a lot of work those tender moments passed and things became more comfortable for both of us. We got into a groove and have been doing well ever since.

The thing they forget to mention about exclusively nursing your baby is that it never really seems to slow down until they are eating solid food. As the baby grows and sleeps less they still require more and more milk to fill their expanding tummies. Even when they are gobbling up peas and sweet potatoes the demand can still be grueling.

Then there comes the unsolicited opinions. Around the time my baby girl approached the milestone of her first birthday the pressure from others to wean her was on. I would get comments from people around me like “You’re still nursing her?” , “Wow isn’t she getting a little old for that?”, “All my babies were weaned by 6 weeks!”, “Does she really need that still?”

To answer some of those questions; Yes, breast milk is still beneficial to baby even after they turn a year old. It still has the same magical abilities of supporting their immune systems, and changing  with their nutritional needs. Not to mention the psychological benefits of comfort, trust and love that all children need. My baby is only 20 months and I don’t feel that it is unreasonable to want that type of comfort!

18880065_1563205910368016_3057206859471378971_o

No, she is not “too old” to breastfeed. She is no less independent for our decision to continue breastfeeding. We never need to nurse in public anymore as she usually only does it before nap and bed time now. She eats table foods with a fork and spoon, she is transitioning to a toddler bed in her own bedroom, she uses sippy cups with whole milk or diluted juice in it, she recognizes and names her letters and is starting to count and she plays independently and with other kids well. In our culture we tend to wean early but the rest of the world in general weans at much older ages.

I wasn’t too strict on weaning until I desired to become pregnant again. After a year I hadn’t yet resumed my cycle and was still nursing quite a bit. I wanted to at least reduce since I didn’t know whether my fertility had returned. Not having your monthly can be a huge benefit. One less inconvenience postpartum. I don’t use contraception and only natural family planning but, be warned- Just because you aren’t menstruating does not mean you aren’t ovulating. I did get pregnant before my cycle returned. What I thought was my period was actually implantation.

While attempting to wean we had some set backs. Each time a new tooth sprouted, when we moved, or if she wasn’t feeling well, she would regress and return to nursing more. At the time I would be frustrated. It felt like losing progress but, she would always go back to nursing less often once things got back to normal.

As you can see, most of my experience with extended breastfeeding has been pretty positive. Where the hate part of it really comes in for me is for myself! Nursing a small, still infant is much different than a heavy, mobile, squirming, pinching, squeezing toddler! And since I’ve gotten pregnant things have become tender and at times caused nursing to become uncomfortable again. As I said in my previous post Pregzilla  pregnancy and breastfeeding can be quite taxing at times.

The truth is the decision to breastfeed your baby or not and when to wean them are personal decisions and though there are many opinions there is no one right answer! You just need to do whats best for you and your baby! It would be great if she were fully weaned before June when the new baby arrives but, if not that’s okay too. I can totally picture myself being a bad-ass tandem nursing mama! I feel lucky to be able to take this journey with her as it comes and I know that one day she will stop completely and the difficulties will be blurred by time and nostalgia again.

What have your breastfeeding experiences been like? Share about your journey in the comments!

❤ Cait

Pregzilla

I have a confession, my “Prayers Over the Kitchen Sink” aren’t always deep and full of gratitude. Sometimes they sound something like, “Just let me get through this day!” and “God help me!” and, “Seriously?..Give me strength!” Sometimes I’m a stomping, growling, ferocious Pregzilla!

I have been feeling okay so far in this pregnancy but last week (week 21) I completely hit a wall. After the initial morning sickness passed I got the color back in my cheeks, felt productive, and enjoyed a period of energy as close to pregnant bliss as someone like me (who doesn’t totally love gestation) can get. As soon as it came it was gone and replaced with fatigue and nausea as heartburn began to rear it’s ugly head.

I felt so drained and crabby that it made the things I normally do each day exceedingly difficult. When my older daughter copped an attitude because she decided she didn’t like ravioli that day instead of offering her a lecture and an alternative dinner I barked, “Then don’t eat it, I don’t care!” When my husband texted asking me to go to the bank while he was working I grumbled and chucked my phone as if the branch was located on the other side of the country instead of the other side of town. I had no patience whatsoever! I found it very taxing to care for my toddler who is at an age where she is clingy yet, mischievous and uncooperative. My little angel felt more like a little thorn!

Naturally, she requires the most attention and in this phase she resists much of the normal day to day care I have no choice but to give her! I end up wrestling her to sleep, forcing her mouth open to brush her teeth, restraining her to cut her nails, struggling to put her hair in a bow (which she just pulls out anyway!), to clean her ears, to change her diaper..she just doesn’t want to stop even for a minute!

It took all I have in me not to completely lose it at things that a toddler mom normally wouldn’t think twice about. She’s crawling all over me, throwing her snacks, climbing on my belly, pulling down my shirt, poking me in the face and pinching my breast while she nurses. (Yes still at 20 months! Read about my Love-Hate Relationship with Extended Breastfeeding here) Not to mention her climbing the furniture and getting into absolutely everything!

 

It grated my nerves and left me with a very hard and sharp edge. One that I would normally soften with several glasses of wine or a super hard workout if I wasn’t expecting but, alas I am! I have been consecutively growing a baby or breastfeeding for about 2 and a half years already with no end in sight as I’m not due till early June and plan to nurse our new bundle as well.

I know that pregnancy is a temporary condition, but knowing that doesn’t always make the tough times easier when I’m living them. Sometimes I want a cocktail, I want some sushi, I want to put on my old jeans, I want to go out with my friends without having to run to the bathroom ’cause I’m getting kicked in the bladder. Of course I love my kiddos but this motherhood thing can be tough!

Just because we appreciate it for the gift it is doesn’t mean it isn’t hard and that we don’t have the right to express our frustrations honestly. I don’t have anything else to tie all of these gripes up in a nice eloquent bow but to say, it’s okay! Whether we have 1 child or 10 these feelings are normal! We all struggle in our own way. We aren’t maternal robots or Stepford wives with no limit or needs of our own.

The only advice I can give is to retract your claws and ask for help! Make dad or the older one sit with the little one for a while so you can take a bath or read your book. Call your BFF to come over or to vent. Say no to the things that aren’t urgent. Let the dishes sit in the sink so you can really sleep when the baby sleeps for once. Leave the kids at home and go out even if it’s just to run errands so you can be alone and clear your head.

Don’t expect so much of yourself that you stretch too thin because eventually you are going to snap! Try not to focus so much on taking care of everyone and everything else that you forget to take care of yourself. Believe me, your family would much rather help than to have to endure the wrath of a nauseated Pregzilla!

Have you had any “Pregzilla” moments? What did you do to pull yourself out of it?

❤ Cait

Choose Your Own Adventure

If you’re an 80’s baby like me you might remember those “choose your own adventure” books. The whole idea is to assume the role of the main character and the book periodically presents you with options. The choices you make determine the story’s ending. The thrill is in the mystery and anticipation; not knowing what will happen next! I being an eager child (& now adult) often decided to skip all of the build-up, and stress by flipping to the back and reading all three endings at once. That way I could choose the ending I liked the best and enjoy reading the story with the comfort of knowing how it ends. Only, once the adventure book lost it’s mystery it also lost its excitement. It ended up on a cluttered bedside table with a tangled up yo-yo and an abandoned braid of gimp. My impatience and need to know rushed the book and took all of the joy out of it!

Continue reading “Choose Your Own Adventure”