A New Chapter

March 22nd, 2012


I’ve decided to reinvent my blog self. I’ve really enjoyed keeping up with my 365 photo project over the last two years, but I don’t feel like I have given this blog enough attention. There is only so much time in the day, so my deeper musings and reflections were put on the back burner.

Instead of doing the 365 project well, and this personal blog with mediocrity, I’m going to merge the two. I won’t be writing here anymore, but you can find me and more of my thoughts at kim365.com. The goal is to continue photo blogging, and to dig deeper into real life stuff. With photos I can paint you an idyllic picture of what my life looks like, but I don’t want to give the impression of ease. Life is not easy, and I have not found balance. I heard a wise women say, “There is no balance. You have to learn to live within the tension.” Welcome to the tension. There is beauty within, yet struggles abound.

And so begins a new chapter.
Everyday life.
Messy stuff included.
See you there!

Airport Adventure

January 9th, 2012

Every experience is a chance to learn. Sometimes that means school is sitting at home reading books, working on writing skills, doing math, or painting a picture. Other times it means baking a cake, going to the grocery store, or playing at the playground. Today school meant going to the airport!
My mom and dad decided to take a trip with my uncle and aunt to Hawaii, and what could be more exciting for me and my crew than to go bid them farewell? Well, I guess going along would be more exciting, but we settled for the airport and I don’t think the kids knew they were missing out on anything.
Bailey looks a little worried here. Good thing she’s got her Grandpa to keep her safe.
Grandma and Grandpa’s plane getting pushed out to the runway.
Bailey joins in on the action.
Loving the view out of those massive windows!
Silly Markus! I love this kid.
Have a good trip! And don’t forget to bring home some Kona coffee!

Dream Come True

January 9th, 2012

When I was a little girl, I always wanted a play kitchen. You know the ones I’m talking about. Big hunks of plastic overflowing with inspiration. Sink. Stove. Oven. Table. Telephone. And toy food and kitchen wares for hours of cooking and baking. Well yesterday my dream came true. My friend Becky asked on facebook if anyone wanted to come take their old kitchen out of the house, and I jumped at the chance. I scrubbed it clean and got it all set up for the kids to discover this morning.
Checking it out.
My tea set is in here!
Still looking a little tired, but totally pleased.
Bacon!!
New veggies that we bought at Ikea last spring and hid away in the linen closet (read: forgot about). I found them a few weeks ago and they made the perfect addition to the new kitchen.
My little lady, hard at work. This is serious business.
Whoa, this tomato has green stuff on it!
Cooking up a storm!
I think I get more joy watching them play with it than I ever would have if I’d had my own 20 odd years ago.

Merry Christmas!

December 25th, 2011

*tap tap tap* Is this thing on?

October 25th, 2011

Wow, it’s been nearly two months since I’ve posted on this blog. I make myself feel better by reminding myself that I post everyday on the photoblog, but there are things I don’t get around to saying in a little blurb on the daily shot. I’m thinking about digging into writing a little more again. Maybe pick up the pace here, or reinvent my blog self and start a new one…somehow I feel bogged down by the blog baggage – would that be bloggage? – that is eight years of archives. It’s all part of the journey, but truth be told I would prefer to get rid of some of it. I guess that’s part of my inner minimalist emerging.

So anyway, is anyone out there? It’s okay if you don’t speak up. Once I decide to write I’ll post it even if there’s no one there to read it…and even if you’re too quiet to say something.

Struggles of the everyday.

August 29th, 2011

Bailey got sick yesterday. She’s running a fever, and she threw up on the drive home from Mom and Dad’s. It’s times like this that I’m grateful she loves to drink juice so much, because it’s not too difficult to push fluids with her when she’s sick.

Today Markus said he wasn’t feeling well, and said he had a fever – with a smile on his face. I thought it was just for show, but I felt his forehead and he did actually feel warm. The thermometer agreed.

So today is a day for sitting on the couch, watching movies, drinking juice, eating chicken noodle soup (I’m so glad I still have some stock in the freezer for such a day!). Bailey is already having her third nap of the day, and it’s only one o’clock. Today is a day for not fighting my newly developed coffee dependance and just making a small pot to give me a boost after a very interrupted sleep last night.

It’s these days, and even more so these nights, that make me feel completely inadequate. How am I supposedly qualified to take care of a sick child? Honestly, fevers do sort of freak me out. I do what I can – childrens’ Advil, a bath, a cool cloth on her forehead, pick her up and carry, snuggles when she goes to lay down, lots of kisses and “I love you”‘s – but when all that has been done I am still incapable of making her well. It’s these days that I am reminded that every day I am in need of Jesus. I am in constant need of his grace in my life and in the lives of my children. In need of his healing of our bodies as well as our souls. How blessed I am to know he has everything in control, and that worrying about my sick little ones won’t do an ounce of good. I give them to him, and rest in his sufficiency today.

The Birth

August 16th, 2011


For all of you who didn’t ask me about Deacon’s birth because you’d rather read it on my blog – which is most people, apparently – here’s the story. I say that in a bit of a pouty mood, because I’m periodically saddened by the amount we live our lives electronically. I would way rather have told you this story over coffee, but maybe you’re drinking coffee as you read. One can hope :)

I’ve read enough about birth to know about all the ways labour can start. This being my fourth baby, I still had no idea what to expect for my own labour. Would my water break? I guessed not, since it had been ruptured artificially with my previous births. Would I wake up in the middle of the night with contractions, or would it happen during the day? Would they start strong, or would I just feel crampy? Would I lose the mucous plug before anything else started happening? Would I be at home, or taken off guard while out of the house? So many questions! I had done this before, but waiting for labour to begin spontaneously was something foreign to me.

With all three of my other babies, labour began as a result of a chemical labour induction. Markus and Wyatt were both induced ten days after my estimated due date with Cervadil. They tried for four days to induce Bailey’s birth with Cervadil, and finally resorted to the Syntocinon drip. Each time I waited and waited for contractions, and once they did start, they were long, hard, and offered next to no rest in-between. So this time around, I was determined to have labour begin on its own.

As I’m sure everyone knows, I was planning to give birth at home. I’ve had my fill of stale smelling hospital, those awful hospital gowns, being stuck in bed with electronic fetal monitoring, people paying more attention to the monitor print out than they did to me, obstetric residents putting their hands where they don’t belong…I could go on, but I’ll stop. I was so blessed to get in with the midwives, and cannot say enough about the awesome care I received from them. I could go off on a huge tangent here, but I’ll try to stick to the birth story.

The day began as so many before it had. I was ten days past my estimated due date, and woke up to the thunder of three kids descending on our bed, wanting to snuggle before Clay had to get ready for work. Fitting three kids, a grown man, and a very pregnant woman into a double bed is not easily done, but we managed as we always did. The morning snuggle was cut short, as usual, by me running to the bathroom. You can imagine why.

This is where things were different than usual. I had a tinge of bloody show, which was incredibly exciting since I have never had any signs of labour in the past…ever! I told Clay we might be having a baby today, but didn’t feel different at all, so figured he better go to work just in case this wasn’t going to be baby’s day to arrive.

Some time after Clay had left for work, I started feeling crampy. Not real contractions, just a generally dull, constant cramp feeling in my lower back. I was making frequent trips to the bathroom because my bowels were loose. I’ll be clear and say it was not diarrhea…you’re welcome. I had been having issues with back and neck pain all weekend, and thought if I was going to have a baby soon, I better get in to see my chiropractor so I made an appointment for that afternoon.

We went out to the backyard – the kids played while I sat in a chair on the deck to rest. Our neighbours were working in their yard, and she asked how I was feeling, to which I replied I felt a little crampy and strange and thought this might be the day. We chatted while the kids did their usual climbing on the patio furniture to get a better view of the neighbours’ yard and so they could talk to their friend next door, and his dog. This lasted for a while, until the boys decided it would be more fun to go inside and run around “nudie” – in their underwear. Bailey and I soon followed them in, since she wanted to join in the fun.

While they ran around, I went upstairs to survey the bedroom, which was where I was planning on giving birth. I looked down at the floor and noticed how dirty it was. It could be weeks until this floor gets vacuumed if I don’t do it now! So vacuum, I did. Seriously. What would the midwives think if my floor was dirty? Haha! Come on, wouldn’t you have pulled out the vacuum too?

Once the nest was looking respectable, it was time to start thinking about lunch…and timing contractions. Really? Contractions? Yahoo! They were faint, but they were definitely there. I had installed a contraction timing app on the iPad earlier that morning, so I loaded it up and started timing: about 40 seconds long and 10 minutes apart. I called Clay to tell him what was going on, and let him know about my chiropractor appointment that afternoon. He seemed to think I should have someone drive me if I was having contractions (isn’t he so logical?) and I thought I’d be fine if they didn’t get stronger, but he insisted he would be home at 3:00 to drive me. I made us all eggs and toast for lunch, and called my mom. The plan was for her to be at home to watch the big kids while I was in labour, so I asked her to come stay with them while Clay took me to my appointment. She and Dad were thrilled to hear they might be meeting their newest grand baby later that day!

After lunch I made sure the birth pool was completely inflated so the pump wouldn’t wake Bailey up during her nap, then off to sleep went our little princess. I got Markus and Wyatt set up with a movie, and decided to go lay down and try to have a nap to get some rest while I still could. That lasted all of two contractions. They were so much stronger when I was laying down, so I got up and called Clay again and asked him to come home already. He and my mom both arrived around 2:00.

Clay called Debbie, my midwife, to let her know I was in labour. I probably should have called her two hours earlier, but I was in denial that this was really happening. She said to get the pool ready to fill, and call her again when contractions were closer together. I was pacing around the main floor of our house, walking through the contractions, and ten minutes later Clay called Debbie again because they were now 5-6 minutes apart. She said to start filling the birth pool, and that she’d be at our place shortly. He then called Lindsay (our friend, cousin, and Bradley Method natural childbirth teacher) who we were planning on having at the birth as well. He also called to cancel my chiropractor appointment. I guess I wouldn’t be getting that final adjustment after all ;)

Debbie arrived not long after, and sat in the living room doing some charting and observing me from a distance. She checked baby’s heartbeat with the Doppler, then went back to doing whatever she was doing in the living room. I was in another zone and wasn’t really paying attention to anyone else at this point. Clay was doing an amazing job coaching me through the contractions, reminding me to relax and breathe, and rubbing my back. I don’t know what I would have done without him!

Bailey woke up at some point, and Mom had been reading some books outside with the kids. She came in to see how I was doing and wondered if I wanted them to stay at home. I said it would be fine if they went to the playground for a while, and the little ones were excited at that idea. As they were getting ready to go, I was standing beside the dining room table and had a really hard contraction hit. I mumbled something about needing to go to the bathroom, and Mom thought I was talking about Wyatt so she said he did go already. “No, me!” I replied. I kissed my three cuties goodbye, and made a beeline for the toilet.

I had been staying on the main floor of the house because going upstairs was very ‘final’ in my mind. I’d go when things were getting more serious. I felt like if I went up, there would be no coming back down, and I wasn’t ready for that. So there I was, sitting on the toilet. Things felt different than they had times before, but I guess I wasn’t ready to admit that this baby was really coming so soon. My mind tried to pretend it was the same, my voice was proving otherwise, and I was brought back to reality when Debbie called to me, “Kim…are you feeling any pressure?”

“…Yes,” I replied, a mix of timid and panic.

She suggested we go upstairs so she could check me. This was it, I was going up, and I did not think I’d be coming back down to pace the main floor again. Upstairs I went to the bathroom and was taken off guard by another contraction. I remember leaning on the counter, moaning loudly, Debbie asking Clay to take my skirt off, and Debbie spreading blue pads on the floor – I’m sure she thought she was going to be catching a baby in that bathroom. Lindsay came up the stairs, and I thought to myself, “Here’s the lack of modesty we talked about in Bradley class – Lindsay just walked up my stairs and my naked bum is probably the first thing she sees, and I don’t even care.” When the contraction ended, Debbie said there was no point in doing a vaginal exam because the baby was coming. She asked if I wanted to stay in the bathroom or get in the pool. I figured after having the birth pool take up space in my bedroom for the last 3 weeks, there was no way I was not using it! So to the pool I went.

I remember Debbie saying Jessica (her back-up midwife) wouldn’t make it in time, and asking Lindsay to assist her with a few things. Clay was by my side the whole time, keeping me calm, reminding me to breathe deeply. Having watched videos of a few water births, I had hoped to be squatting when I pushed, and maybe even be able to catch baby myself; however, my midwife thought the best option for me would be to push in a hands and knees position, because of my fast labours in the past she said it would keep baby from coming too fast and reduce the risk of tearing. So when I climbed in the pool I went on my knees and draped my body over the side – there are handles on the outside that I grabbed and clung to for dear life. I kept hearing Debbie tell me to breathe through these contractions, when all I wanted to do was push as hard as I could, so then Clay would tell me to breathe as well. Breathe! The most difficult thing to do when you just want to hold your breath, but I knew she was right so I did my best. Debbie ruptured my membranes at some point during this time. She asked if Clay wanted to come catch the baby, and he asked me if I wanted him to, but I so badly needed him to stay close to me, so he did.

It was maybe two contractions, I’m not really sure, and his head was born. I just knelt there and caught my breath for a few minutes, and Debbie told me to push when I felt like I needed to. I nodded, then a couple minutes later felt the urge to push again. I am amazed at the gift of being able to catch my breath, thank you Jesus for that small rest. A couple of pushes and he was born! It’s such a crazy feeling to go from being so full to so empty. What a relief – I did it! I got turned around so I could sit down, and they handed me my baby. I heard Clay say to someone in the room that it was a boy. I didn’t stop to confirm, I just held his wet little body against mine. Wow! Words cannot describe this moment. The world around me ceased to exist – it was just me, Clay, and our precious little one. Deacon Isaac, perfect as can be. Deacon was wrapped with a towel, and we just sat there and took each other in. I could have stayed there for hours.

When his cord stopped pulsing it was cut (I think Clay did it this time), and he held Deacon while I stayed in the pool to deliver the placenta. Then I made my way to the bed. Details here are so fuzzy in my mind, it’s just a big mash of memories that all run together. Jessica arrived to assist Debbie, Lindsay brought me some orange juice, I nursed Deacon, I had to get a few stitches, Clay had sent my mom a text so she and the kids came back from the playground so they could meet their baby brother, and I was just deliriously happy.

I would never in a million years trade this home birth experience for a hospital birth. Everything went perfectly. My midwives proved themselves to be incredibly capable, as I knew they would be. And when it was all over, and everything had been cleaned up, we were left at home with our precious new baby. No nurses came to poke and prod me and my boy in the night, there was no trip home from the hospital. We were already home. Welcome home, Deacon Isaac. You belong here with us.

photo credit to Clay Bitner, Lindsay Bitner, and Tina Fehr

Babies Don’t Keep

July 20th, 2011

Mother, oh Mother,
come shake out your cloth,
empty the dustpan,
poison the moth,
hang out the washing
and butter the bread,
sew on a button and make up a bed.

Where is the mother whose house
is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery,
blissfully rocking.
Oh, I’ve grown shiftless
as Little Boy Blue
(lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).

The shopping’s not done
and there’s nothing for stew
and out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
but I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren’t his eyes the most wonderful hue?
(lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).

The cleaning and scrubbing
will wait till tomorrow,
for children grow up,
as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs.
Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep…

~Author Unknown ~

What Are They Catching?

July 9th, 2011

Markus is processing a lot in his brain these days. We’ve had a few conversations in the last week that have made me stop and think.

M:Mommy, do you have a baby in your tummy again?
K: No sweetie, I don’t.
M: But you will again.
K: Well, I don’t know if I’ll have another baby.
M: Yeah, you will.
Then he jumped out of the van and ran inside.

Then there’s the conversation we had yesterday. I was getting things packed up for Markus, Wyatt, and Bailey to go camping with my parents.

M: Mommy, is Deacon coming too?
K: Well, he’s not going to the lake with you guys, but he needs to come along when I take you to Grandma and Grandpa’s. We can’t just leave him here – babies need to stay with their mommies.
M: Right, because he needs your milk…(thoughtful pause)…Does Grandma have breasts?
K: …Yes, Grandma has breasts.
M: So…could she feed Deacon?
K: Well, no. See, when a mommy gives birth and pushes a baby out, her body has special things called hormones that tell her breasts to make milk for the baby. Grandma hasn’t had a baby for a long time, so she doesn’t have any milk for babies.
M: Right, because you were her last baby. And now you are having babies. And if your last baby is a girl, then she can grow up and have babies too.
K: That’s right, but right now Deacon is our last baby.
M: Is he your last baby?
K: I don’t know. I don’t know if we will have more babies or not…do you think we should?
M: Yeah, because babies are lots of fun to have around. They’re fun to take care of.

Then he ran off to play, and I was left sitting on the stairs, stunned. Our conversation made me stop and wonder how much of what we teach our kids is caught, not taught. Markus is building his ideas about the value of family, and the blessing of children, and he’s doing it simply by observing what is happening around him. It makes me want to be so much more mindful of the things I do and say in my daily life, because it’s those things that have a lasting impression on my kids, and not the things I say when I’m in teacher-mode.

Postpartum Priorities

July 7th, 2011

I know, I know. I’m supposed to sleep when the baby sleeps. It’s a lovely idea, if I can get the older 3 kids occupied with something and quiet enough to not be a distraction, and can turn my brain off enough to hopefully catch a few winks. Those are two very big if’s.

So what should I do if the big boys are quietly playing Wii, little girl is down for a nap, baby is sleeping, and I’m tired as all get out? I’m supposed to sleep. But I was also in desperate need of a shower. I had to weigh the two options, and in the end, decided I would feel more like a normal human being with clean hair than if I slept for an extra half hour.

Priorities, people.

My Heart Overflows

July 2nd, 2011

Our beautiful son Deacon is here. He was born here at home on Monday, June 27 at 4:25pm. I’ll write more about his birth another day, but today I just want to gush about how awesome he is. I know I’ve done this whole having a baby thing three times before, but let me assure you that it does not get old. There is nothing old or over-familiar about having a newborn babe curl up on your chest. I know I have enjoyed each of the kids as babies, but I told Clay yesterday that it’s like it has taken me four kids to really appreciate the beauty of just being with my baby. To just sit with him, to experience the absolute peace and contentment he has when he is close to his mama. The world could be crashing down around me and I don’t know if I would notice. I could just sit with him all day, every day. He is so beautiful, so sweet, so perfect. I look at him and I just want to cry for this amazing gift that I’ve been given.

We’re slowly learning how to function as a family of six. It’s definitely a transition as we all figure out how this is going to work. Markus, Wyatt, and Bailey spent Deacon’s first three nights at my mom and dad’s house, and the day they came home happened to be the day my hormones crashed so I was a mess…but we’re doing better now. They are awesome big brothers and sister, and are doing so well with having a baby brother in the house.

For the record.

June 11th, 2011

No, I don’t know if the baby has dropped. Everyone thinks baby looks really low and from the way I feel I guess I would agree, but they also say that after your first pregnancy the baby doesn’t usually drop until labour starts. So who knows.

Yes, I am getting uncomfortable.

No, my midwife doesn’t know when I will go into labour. Midwives and doctors are not psychics. And I praise God that I haven’t had any completely unnecessary vaginal exams to check for dilation and effacement to give me false hope about when labour will start. Whether I’m 50% effaced or not, 2cm dilated or not, has no real power in indicating when I will go into labour.

Yes, I will have my hands full. I already do.

No, I’m not anxiously awaiting labour with each passing day. I have gone past due before and know that for my own sanity, it’s best to anticipate baby coming late rather than early or even on time.

It sounds silly, but only today has it really dawned on me that we’re actually having a baby. I’ve thought a lot about labour and birth, and how this baby’s arrival is going to be a different experience than I’ve ever had before. I think I haven’t felt prepared for birth because it hasn’t clicked in my brain that another person is really going to be joining our family. A beautiful, perfectly designed little son or daughter will be placed in my arms within the next few weeks. I feel like my heart is growing another chamber that is filling up with love for this precious baby. I’m so excited to meet them.

The weeks are speeding by – let’s get real.

May 26th, 2011


37 weeks.
It hovers on the horizon, and with it come a mess of thoughts and emotions.
While 37 weeks is considered to be full term, I certainly don’t expect this baby to arrive that soon. Left to do its own thing, I don’t know when my body will be ready to give birth…it’s never been given the chance to say so because I’ve always been induced. Because I went overdue with both of the boys, I just expect that if we leave well-enough alone I’ll have a late baby, so realistically I figure I’ll be pregnant until the end of June. My logic is that I’d rather be pleasantly surprised by our baby coming earlier than that, than be frustrated that things are taking so long. I’ve done the overdue thing, where every day feels like a week, and people think they’re helping by saying things like,
“No baby yet?”
“You’re still here?”, or
“That’s going to be one big baby!”
I know people don’t mean anything bad by it, it’s just an attempt to make conversation. People want to say something, so they say the first thing that comes into of their head. For the record, a “How are you doing?” would go a lot farther in reaching out to an overdue mom. Due dates aren’t magical, as anyone who’s gone overdue can testify.

So while I expect to go past due, there is always the possibility that I could give birth before my due date. My mind swirls with thoughts about whether I’m ready if that were to happen. As far as being materialistically prepared, the answer is yes. We’re not wanting for anything – we’ve got the basics. Clothes. Diapers. Bassinet. Blankets. Breasts. Yep – check, check, check. There are also a lot of non-basics in this house after having already had three babies. Emotionally prepared? I’m not sure.

I know the postpartum period is rough. I know how little sleep a new mom gets. I know how much I’ll cry. I know how hard it is to get food in the mouths of my existing family 3 times a day, not to mention food in the baby’s mouth 10 times each day. I know how greasy my hair will get from not having time to shower, and how no amount of make-up can wake up my tired eyes. It’s all this that I am not sure I am ready for.

And what about labour? If I were doing the same thing I’ve always done I would feel far more at ease, I’m sure. If I were planning on going to the hospital I would have a pretty good idea what to expect. I don’t mean that I am uneasy about my choice to birth at home, only that the unfamiliar and unknown is always coupled with a bit of anxiety. Every birth is different – will I be able to handle this one? I know I’ve been strong enough in the past, but will this time be different?

At the end of the day, I know the answer is to cast all my cares upon Jesus. It won’t do me any good to fret and be anxious about what might or might not happen, what the unknown could bring, when the baby will arrive, or how I will adjust to the reality of having four kids. I know He cares for me, and that is enough. He has appointed a time and place for this baby to be brought into this world, he sustains everything by the power of his word, and I am safe and secure in him.

This nest needs some work.

May 17th, 2011

In the past I have been hesitant to ever admit that I had a nesting urge near the end of pregnancy…mostly because people seem to throw it around as a foolproof evidence that you will go into labour that very evening. Having never actually gone into labour (three inductions with three babies), I get tired of the ‘guarantees’ that everyone claims.

“Oohhhh, you’re washing your floor. You’re nesting – the baby will be here by morning!”

“Uh huh. Or I could be fed up with my filthy floor. There is also the consideration that this might be the last time I wash it in about six months.”

So today, when I found myself furiously scrubbing walls, trim, and baseboards in every room on the second floor of the house, I was slow to admit I was nesting. Maybe this is just my usual spring cleaning gear kicking in. Yeah maybe, but the fact remains that it seemed urgent because a brand new person would be sleeping up there and I wanted to make a good first impression. Or something. The walls are clean, so I am one step closer to being ready to have a baby. Such bizarre logic. I really should have spent the morning as I had planned: planning a freezer-meal cooking session, so I would have a grocery list in hand for tomorrow, and a freezer armed with food for a few frazzled days in the future. (Read: I would be ready with food for a few frazzled days, not that there will only be a few frazzled days.) That would make a lot more sense as far as being ready for a baby.

At least in a few weeks, when I am up at 3:30 a.m. feeding for the fourth time that night, I won’t have to be annoyed by the grubby hand prints on the walls or the dusty baseboards? Haha, a very productive morning, indeed.

Clarity is an elusive beast.

May 3rd, 2011

James raised a number of really good points when he commented on my last post. For those of you who don’t know James, he’s a friend of ours who is studying medicine and is currently completing his residency. For the record, I’m not against doctors, and I’m certainly not against James! I deeply respect his opinion, and admire what he does day in and day out. His comment made it clear to me that I need to make my thoughts more clear :) So allow me to try to clarify some things.

When I talk about natural childbirth, I’m not talking about being out in nature without modern conveniences. James rightly pointed out that my home is supplied with clean water thanks to modern science. My home is heated thanks to modern science as well. I’m not trudging to a well to fetch my water with a bucket and heating my home with a wood burning stove – and for that I am thankful. I know there are many things I take for granted that make a home birth safer than it would have been in the distant past because they are, by a critical standard, unnatural.

I realize that doctors and obstetricians are necessary. A small percentage of pregnancies and births really are high risk, and really do require medical intervention. A skilled obstetrician is a gift from God that can provide expert knowledge and care when emergencies arise. I’m not trying to imply a war between midwives and medical professionals, as if their goals are polar opposite. I see both as having the well being of women and babies as the end goal. I think it would be a marvelous thing indeed if we could see more of midwives and physicians working together to that end. If there were more midwives in this country to deal with normal, uncomplicated pregnancies and births, it would free the doctors up to do more of what they do best – dealing with high-risk and complicated cases. I don’t see hospitals and doctors as the enemy of all that is good where birth is concerned. I’m also not saying that you can’t have a natural birth if you are in a hospital.

When I first started considering the idea of having a baby at home, Clay was dead-set against it. What if something goes wrong? He began to be won over when he learned how capable and qualified modern midwives are. These women have gone to school for four years to be trained to do what they do. During that time they deal with nothing but normal, uncomplicated pregnancy and birth. When you’re an expert in the ‘normal’ of something, you’re also very keenly aware when something is abnormal. When something is beyond the expertise of a midwife, they will refer you to someone who is an expert. In the case of having a baby at home, they come prepared with all the supplies you would find in a hospital – they have a portable version of it all. They don’t just show up with a pair of gloves to “catch a baby”. They’re professionals. So I don’t mean that there should be no use of medical equipment and supplies.

So here are some thoughts about what I do mean when I talk about natural childbirth. And do understand this explanation will not be exhaustive or necessarily well-expressed. I’m doing my best to put my thoughts into words, so bear with me.

When talking about natural childbirth, I’m talking about not intervening unnecessarily. Every woman’s body is different, every baby is different. Every birth will be different, and what woman doesn’t love a good birth story? We’re compelled not only by the wonder of new life, but I think also by the diversity of it all. Every story is different, and every story has the ability to amaze us. Given the fact that everyone is different, it would make sense that there should be room in the medical mold for my birth to look different from the next woman’s. For instance, the accepted ‘normal’ length of gestation is 40 weeks. One day over that, you’re considered overdue, and many doctors will artificially induce labour when a woman is ten days overdue – this happened twice to me. I wasn’t induced because there was any perceived risk to me or baby, it was just because I was ‘late’, and uncomfortable. Anytime you interfere with the natural process, the risk of further intervention increases. Being induced meant I was confined to the bed because of constant electronic fetal monitoring. Being unable to move and work with the process of labour, I reached a point where I felt I could no longer handle the contractions, and asked for an epidural. This meant I needed an IV. After getting the epidural, labour slowed down, resulting in the need for Syntocin to make labour speed up again. At the time I didn’t question any of it – I thought, “These people deal with birth every day, they’ll know what to do better than I will.” I didn’t take the time to prepare myself for birth and how to deal with the experience.

What I mean by natural childbirth is listening to what’s happening with your body, and responding accordingly. Yes it hurts, but this is not pain without purpose. The onset of labour tells you that something is happening. Movement helps labour progress, laying down slows it down. Anxiety and tension will serve to slow down and fight against what your body is trying to accomplish – getting that baby out! – and working with your body will bring you closer. The use of drugs will dull or eliminate the pain, but that won’t motivate your body to do what it needs to do.

I think there is a great amount of secrecy in our culture when it comes to labour and birth. That secrecy amounts to a lot of fear in women. When all we see of it is a woman on TV who goes from carefree one minute to crying out with the first contraction and doubled over in pain, rushed off to the hospital to be ‘delivered’ of her infirmity, birth becomes something we fear. It seems scary, and we hear a lot of scary stories about it. We know the pain is worth it in the end, but for goodness sakes, give me something to rid me of the pain! I’m not saying it’s wrong to use drugs, but I do believe that something is lost in the process. There is something unexplainably empowering about giving birth to a baby without the use of drugs – it’s a kind of “I am woman, hear me roar!” moment, where you feel as though nothing is impossible. I just feel like when we surrender to the widely accepted medical process, with all its possible interventions, capable women have something taken away from them. We believe a message (that I believe is not an intentional message, but a message nonetheless) that our bodies are broken and incapable and we need help to birth our babies, when in 98% of cases, little help is needed other than loving encouragement and support to do what God made us able and capable to do.

My heart in all this is to speak up about something I never heard anyone speak up about when I started having babies. Stuck in a bed with an epidural is not the only way to have a baby, nor is it the best way, in my opinion. Drugs and interventions have side-effects for you and baby. There is something else, something better. You’re not sick, your body is not broken, and you are strong. God designed your body perfectly.

Here I go, opening my big mouth.

May 2nd, 2011

When I started learning more about natural childbirth and midwifery care, I wondered why this was all news to me. Why did people who believe a natural approach to birth is better than a medical approach not talk about it more? While I can’t speak for everyone else, I think there are a few reasons I’ve been a little tight lipped about it. Firstly, I don’t want to seem like a ‘single-issue-voter’: someone that people see coming and run because, “oh, there’s Kim, she’s going to corner me and try to sell me on natural birth again.” I believe it’s important, but I’m not going to shove it down your throat. Secondly, I don’t want to have to defend myself. My head is swimming with so much information about the benefits of natural vs. medical births, but I’m not an expert, and I don’t want to feel backed into a corner and like I have to defend my choices. I know I’m making the best decision I can, but I don’t expect myself to be able to consistently express my thoughts about it clearly. Along with that, I guess I feel like if someone wants to confront me about anything, I need to be able to WIN!

Ultimately, I do believe that birth is a normal life event. It’s something that women ought to experience, not be delivered from. It’s something a woman does, not something that happens to her. If you’re not sick, you don’t need a doctor, and pregnancy is not an illness.

What about midwives? Don’t they all wear Birkenstocks, have long hair, smell like incense, and show up to catch your baby without so much as a pair of gloves? Crazy hippies. I’ll admit, that’s not far off from what I assumed midwives were until I started educating myself. The truth is that midwives are experts when it comes to normal, uncomplicated pregnancy and birth – which is most pregnancies and births. And I haven’t yet met one who looks like the one in my mind. They’ll be the first to admit that there is surely a need for good obstetricians, but not nearly the need we have perceived in this culture. Statistics show that there are many countries whose maternal and newborn mortality rates are far lower than ours, with midwife attended birth rates far higher than ours. Midwives know what they’re doing. They’ve been attending births since the beginning of time (okay let’s not get technical here – I’m aware there would have been no midwife when Eve gave birth to Cain, but you catch my drift), while doctors are the ones who are new to the scene. And dare I say, they’re not proving to be very good at normal birth. They are good at making normal birth complicated, if you can call that being good at something…

Anyway, I am happily, joyfully, and expectantly preparing for the birth of this sweet little one who will, Lord willing, be entering this world in less than two months. There is such a difference in my heart and mind as I prepare to welcome our baby in the peace and quiet of our own home, with my husband by my side, an encouraging midwife team who trusts the design of a woman’s body to do as it was created to do, with the sights and smells I am familiar with… without those horrible hospital gowns – and the smell that goes along with them.

Someday

April 11th, 2011

I just read a beautiful post that brought me to tears, as I am reminded to be thankful for this season of life I am in. I will not be here forever, as difficult as that is to believe. There will come a day when I won’t go through the roof from the pain of stepping on toys strewn all over the floor, and the laundry won’t pile up endlessly. And I will miss these days terribly. Grab a kleenex and read here.

What doesn’t define me.

February 17th, 2011

We’re surrounded by a world that tells us we have worth if… We define ourselves by what we do, wear, drive, watch, eat, look like. That’s not the message you’ll get reading the Bible. If you love Jesus, your identity ought to be in Christ alone.

So allow me to make a list of things that describe me, but in no way define me. I encourage you to make your own list. There is freedom in letting go of the things you think are so dear, so that you can cling more dearly to the Savior in whom your true identity is found.

Wife to a wonderful man.
Mom to four amazing kids.
Sister to eleven siblings – in-laws count!
Daughter to two awesome parents.
Auntie to ten of the cutest boys and girls around.
Friend to few.
Acquaintance to many.
Organic (where we can afford) food buyer, cooker, eater.
Dessert baker.
Photo-taker.
Vegetable grower.
Piano player.
Closet singer.
Deal hunter.
Sale-rack shopper.
Mac user.
Latte maker…and consumer.
Minivan driver.
Cloth diaperer.
Midwife visitor.
Natural childbirth advocate.
Stay at home mom.
School teacher.
Grammar nazi.
Pretty paper collector.
Apprehensive home decorator.
Disorganized planner.
Indecisive.
Emotional.
Noncommittal.
Brown hair.
Short.
Big feet.
Short arms.
Make-up minimalist.
Flat shoe wearer.
I cry a lot.
I smile more.
I might frown more than I smile – I’d like to work on that.

I’m a lot of things. But above everything, I am a child of God, and my real worth is found in Jesus. I’ve been saved by grace alone, through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8). I’ve been saved and redeemed by Jesus, adopted into the family of God.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Romans 8:14-17

In what do you find your worth? What and who do you allow to define you?

Is the biblical view of women applicable in our culture today?

February 10th, 2011

I want to encourage you to read this article written by Grace Driscoll. Grace is the wife of Mark Driscoll, teaching pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle. I’ve ‘gotten to know’ her through a few podcasts that she’s been on with Mark, and had the privilege of sitting in on some sessions for wives that she was a part of at the Acts29 Boot Camp Clay and I attended in Seattle back in September. Grace is a quiet and gentle spirit, a wife of noble character, whose witness is inspiring. Go ahead and read. I hope you’ll be encouraged to see the timeless truth of Scripture that she unpacks. And if what she says makes you defensive, ask yourself “why?”.

The lie of the world is that women have to “be all things to all people” and “be superwoman.” If we allow this lie to rule us, we will live a very unfulfilled life. Christ redeemed us so we could glorify Him in the roles he created us for (helpmates and homebuilders). This looks different for each of us in different seasons of life and as our husbands lead us in various ways. As soon as we start to look at the “importance” of our roles according to culture we will grow weary and bitter. If we view them through God’s eyes, as a beautiful picture of His place of rest and protection for us, we will know the kind of peace that passes understanding that guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Phillip. 4:7).

Adding to the noise

February 6th, 2011

If we’re adding to the noise
turn off this song
If we’re adding to the noise
turn off your stereo, radio, video…

(Switchfoot: Adding to the noise)

I don’t know when it happens for you, but I’m pretty sure it must hit everyone at some point: the noise of life…the noise of this culture. I’m not even referring to the sound of it, though the sound of pop culture could definitely be described as noise. Music these days….sheesh. I remember when I thought my parents were lame for wanting to listen to talk radio (no offense Mom & Dad!), and now it’s all I listen to on the radio as well.

Anyway, I’m not talking about Katy Perry or Justin Bieber – don’t I sound like I know what I’m talking about? I just see these people on the sides of buses. No, the noise I’m talking about is all the information that we find ourselves bombarded with.
Facebook
Twitter
blogs
email
tv
radio
You could spend your entire day just trying to keep tabs on what everyone’s doing. Whether you’re concerned with what’s happening globally, or as locally as what’s happening down the street, you can likely find out about it online. Who’s doing what? When? Why? Are they enjoying it? Are they grumpy about something? Needing coffee? Bored? Hungry? This is all important information, and aren’t you thankful you can spend your day getting to know the intimate details of the people you are so close to? Don’t you feel more connected to Jenny because you now know that she scored a sweet deal on a pair of jeans at the Gap? Thanks, Facebook, for filling the void that was missing all these years.

I’m not saying it’s all bad. But I do know that my life has gotten way too noisy. I regularly check facebook for updates, because I feel like I’m somehow getting adult connections in a day that would otherwise be dominated by talk of dinosaurs, Batman, lava, wii, snacks, snacks, potty, and snacks. For the past (how many?) years I’ve been on Facebook, I’ve felt like it’s provided a needed connection for me. And maybe it has. But lately it’s felt mostly lame. I’m struck by all the unnecessary information people share. What did we do before we had a forum to freely share the first thing that comes to mind? Perhaps we didn’t think our thoughts were so important, and if they really were important enough to share, we’d have done so with an actual person. Imagine.

All the information on websites is really noisy too. While it’s nice to have food blogs, parenting blogs, natural living blogs, insert your interest here ______ blogs, all the information just gets to be overwhelming. Lately I feel like I’ve spent so much time reading and filling my head with what other people are doing with their families in their homes, that I have neglected what is going on with my family in my home. I don’t mean to sound like I know everything when I say this, but really, I’ve got enough information about how to cook, clean, parent, and manage my home. I don’t lack information – what I lack is the ability to put my knowledge into practice, because I’m too busy trying to get more information.

Allow me to be really honest and transparent for a moment. At the risk of sounding like a bad mom, I’m going to tell you a story. Last week I was feeling really low – just sad, and I don’t know why…let’s blame hormones, because that’s what women do, right? I sat down on the couch for a big cry, and the boys were busy playing Wii. Instead of looking away from the tv to ask me what the matter was, they kept playing. I felt hurt that they seemed oblivious to my tears, until it dawned on me: they learned this from me. How many times have I been ‘busy’ reading or writing something on my computer, and my kids have come to me with a request? “Just a second guys, just let me finish what I’m doing here.” Yes, there are times they need to learn patience. But there are more times when I need to shelve what I’m doing and just listen and be more present than I have been. I’ve had times in the past few months that I’ve felt a little convicted that I need to cut back on the information overload and just be here now with my kids. But habits are hard to break, and good intentions don’t go anywhere without a plan, so back to my old rut I would go. My big cry on the couch was a big moment when I felt the Holy Spirit speaking very loudly to me that I need to make a change. I don’t want my kids to take a back seat to what Tom and Tiffany are watching on tv tonight, because that detail, quite frankly, is not important. My kids are.

When I consider the future, I want to spend more time doing what God would have me do. I want to be obedient to him in loving my husband (why aren’t there more blogs about that?!), raising my kids, serving my neighbours, being an active part of the church. I want to love Jesus more, and I want to love the people of this world more, and the things of this world less. I don’t want my sight to be set so low, that I forget the bigger picture here. I serve a great God, mighty saviour, victorious king! He has saved me from sin and his own wrath, and he’s kept me on this earth so that I might tell others about him. I want to live in light of that truth, I want to live for his mission.

If God should be gracious enough to allow you to grow old and gray, when you look back on your life, what do you want to have spent your time here doing? What voices do you want to listen to? What’s important, and what’s just loud?