I've had so many conversations and read so many books about labor, babies, and parenting in the last year my brain is about to explode. I thought I would chronicle here about my journey to make some of my decisions this past year, but keep in mind this doesn't mean I think anyone else has to do what we have done. It's been a combination of keeping things simple, but being educated, getting advice, but trusting your instinct, and trying to keep Jesus in it all. No, that's not simplicated at all. (Sarcasm)
I think it started with Liz. Liz in Missouri. We connected over the food journey that I was (and am) on. She had her second baby at home, and that was the first time I'd heard of anyone doing that (in modern day). As our friendship grew, so did my knowledge of other natural things- like natural food. I began to make little changes in diet and my mindset. My commitment to changing that way I lived became real when I went off birth control. It was a trust in God and a trust that he had given me the tools I needed to have a baby in His time without putting hormones in my body. And it worked. Natural Family Planning made me lose some weight, feel great, and convinced me that natural really was better.
Fast forward three years to when Kenny and I found out we were pregnant. We were so excited, but my mind automatically went to, "How am I going to do this?" I honestly didn't know how I could sign up for having a baby without any drugs. I really do have a low pain tolerance. I knew I was living in a blissful ignorance about all things labor. It was like food. Once I knew the facts about ground beef, processed foods, hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides in, well, everything, I couldn't look back. Once I started down the baby education journey, I couldn't look back.
I wasn't sold on a birth plan until reading Your Best Birth and watching the coordinating documentary, "The Business of Being Born." I felt like I had been douped by modern Western medicine in their success of convincing me that I couldn't give birth without an epidural. I read about the standard hospital procedure for labor and knew I couldn't relax in that atmosphere, I couldn't go through labor with rigid dictations from doctors, and I finally knew I didn't want a medicated birth. I did have to seriously educate myself and read story after story of woman who had babies naturally. I memorized Scripture, journaled my fears, surrounded myself with people who supported me, found an amazing doula and friend, Suzy, and amazingly enough, Kenny was along for the ride. He knows I'm enough of a nerd that if I say I've done the research and it's the best for me, it must be.
You can read about my birth here. But I want to write about simplicity in parenting. For me, this journey of doing things natural translates in parenting to doing things that are instinctual. I am definitely on a journey that is challenging my commitment to keep things simple and natural. Basically here's the pattern for the last six months. Read, read, read, get confused, get overwhelmed, pray, fail, pray some more, read some more, and then stop. Get focused on eternity. Get simple. Trust my instincts that God gave me. Decide. This was the case for breastfeeding. My go-to book was Breastfeeding Made Simple, and it convinced I did not want to put June on a feeding schedule. It wasn't about cry-it-out or not cry-it-out, it wasn't about a bedtime or no bedtime. For me, it was about establishing a healthy milk supply early on to ensure my body would continue to make enough milk for as long as June needs it. All our bodies have different milk capacities and to say that each baby can be on the same schedule and breastfeed is just ridiculous. My body may only give 3 ounces a feeding and Large Marge's may be able to give 5! I'm going to have to feed more than Large Marge.
Another decision was cloth diapers. After I had my go around of read read read, pray, get confused, get overwhelmed, etc etc etc, my Simplicity Moment came I was totally at peace with what was working- and that was disposables. Sorry landfills.
Feeding. Mush or no mush? 4 months, 5 months, or 6 months? The Simplicity Moment came, I stopped worrying, and I just give June food. If I feed it to her, fine, but mostly I just let her have some food. If she doesn't like it, she won't eat it. She'll get good at chewing with more teeth. Done. Simple.
Lastly, the giant of and giants- sleep. Mommies will hate each other, gossip, get judgmental, cry, and a whole host of other crazy things about this subject. Why? What was working up till a couple weeks was having her sleep with us and nursing her in bed. But
because I started down the read, read, read path, I started to change what was working. I made a decision (really based on fear of the future) and wanted June in her crib. I got so frustrated about getting up and feeding June several times a night. I tried nursing her and not nursing her, letting her cry or not letting her cry, bouncing her or rocking her, all in an effort to appease, well, myself. I wanted things easier and I had just done everything possible to make it harder. Talk about simplicated.
I realized I was totally being caught up in the Sleep Wars and I had a major Simplicity Moment. What works for us is what is best for us. What brings peace to our nights and
patience to our days is what is best. What makes me feel rested and
sane, and therefore better able to serve my family is what is best for
us. Have I prayed about this? Have I asked the Father what He wants for our sleeping arrangement? Have I asked the best Parent there is to guide me as I make this an all other decisions? It became so clear that what is best for the Kingdom is to bless others with my service. To have love and peace reign in my home. I was seriously not able to do this when I was getting up and feeding June. I lovingly brought her back into our bed, which Kenny doesn't mind at all, and went back to what was working. I feel rested enough to tidy our home before the end of the day. I feel less frustrated toward June and want to play and laugh with her more. I feel such peace about co-sleeping now. I think before, it was about what I had read and what the research said was good for babies. But now it's about what I think will enable me, Kenny, and June to become better servants and disciples of Jesus. If we get along better and have more peace in our home, that frees us up to serve and show others the the love of Christ. This Simplicity Moment was about more than sleep. It was about all my future parenting decisions. The Father will show us how to parent, if we will only ask.