Monday, June 30, 2014

Doula! Movie Screening Tonight!

Hey there everyone!

Don't miss out on this awesome opportunity to screen the wonderful documentary film all about doulas!

The screening will be held this evening at 6:30 pm at Educated Mommy (207 W 37th St, Sioux Falls).

Doula! is a 60 minute, intimate and emotionally charged documentary about doulas and their part in pregnancy, birth and the first few weeks. 

Through close-up documentary footage of three doula-supported births, Doula! captures the non-medical but highly practical and emotional support given to the mother before, during and after childbirth. This unique look into a doula supported birth is captured through two intimately filmed home water births and accompanied by a video diary shot by the parents of a home birth that ends in a hospital cesarean section.

For your attendance, we will be asking for a free will donation.

We will also provide popcorn and water, and will have a door prize for one lucky winner as a thank you for attending!

We look forward to seeing you tonight!

For your attendance, we will be asking for a free will donation.
We will also provide popcorn and water, and will have a door prize for one lucky winner as a thank you for attending!
We look forward to seeing you tonight!


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Time Away....It's Good for the Soul

We just got back from a long weekend away. And it was awesome.

My husband, kids, and I joined the rest of my family (Mom & Dad, Sister & her family, Brothers and their girlfriends and families) out in the Black Hills. We are fortunate to have a great friend of the family who has a small cabin out there and some land that we could bring campers, four-wheelers, etc. and just get away.

I can't even tell you how refreshed I feel. Exhausted? Yes. But it doesn't matter. We had a fantastic time hanging out near Custer, spending time in Hill City, riding the 1880 train to Keystone, taking one of those old time photos (with 17 people, 7 of those being 6 years old and younger - it was a hoot!), touring a cave, driving Needles Highway (Porter had his first car-sick experience) going to the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, and just enjoying God's creation in the meantime. It was truly a wonderful time away.

Porter & Vienna digging at the Mammoth Site
Fun on Needles highway in my mom's new convertible :)

One of the highlights for me was one of the days we were all in Keystone and after we ate lunch at a delicious pizza joint, Mom & Dad decided to take all the kids back to the campsite and give us "big kids" time together to do whatever we wanted. Woot!!!

Of course, being pregnant, I couldn't partake in the cocktails that the rest of my siblings and their significant others did, but it sure was fun hanging out, laughing, and just being together. One of the super cool things that we *did* do, was take a chairlift to the top of a mountain. It's right in Keystone, and you can either just ride the chairlift up and back down, or slide down on a little cart-thing. Randall & I decided to head up and take the chairlift back down. The ride up was SO peaceful. Up at the top there were beautiful gardens, fountains, an outdoor cafe, and a spectacular view with Mt Rushmore in the background. It was awesome and I loved it.

It's not like it even took that long. We were only up there for maybe 15-30 minutes. It was just SO nice to spend time with my love, without anyone else around, sans kiddos, and just enjoying each other's company. It is a rare thing in our life these days, and definitely a highlight that I will remember from our short trip.

So, even if it's just for a night or two, or not even overnight, I highly encourage you to take some time away from your usual grind. I've always enjoyed vacations, but I don't think I ever realized how important they are to my own sense of well-being. I feel rejuvenated, refreshed, and able to get back into my daily routine without feeling stuck in a "rut". It's great!

So, here's to time away and meaningful moments. May you find yours this summer too!


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Justina's Going HOME!

Do you all know about this case?

While I have not studied it thoroughly and certainly don't know all the details, what I can gather is this:

16 months ago, some parents (Lou and Linda Pelletier) brought their young teenage daughter (Justina) into Boston Children's Hospital because they suspected she had the flu.

Doesn't seem like that big a deal, right?

Apparently it was.

The thing is, Justina had been diagnosed and treated by a physician from Tufts Medical Center for mitochondrial disease. When they went into Boston Children's, the doctors there disagreed with the diagnosis of mitochondrial disease and said instead that she had some sort of psychiatric illness. Apparently the mitochondrial disease symptoms were all in her head? I don't know.

Well,  her parents disagreed with this new diagnosis and began action to take her away from Boston Children's and back to her previous doctor. And who wouldn't? If your child had symptoms and has been treated by a doctor you trust, wouldn't you go back there if a similar situation arose?

Now, I have no idea why they went to Boston Children's instead of Tuft to begin with. Perhaps it was as simple as location? Or maybe there were other reasons. It really doesn't matter. What matters is what happened next.

Boston Children's somehow got the State of Massachusetts involved. They thought that the parents were in the wrong and decided to take Justina away from her parents because "they knew what was best for someone else's child".


Are you kidding me?

So, the hospital and state disagreed with these parents, and instead of - oh, I don't know - LETTING THEM BE HER PARENTS, they rip her out of her home and away from her family because they think they can do a better job of caring for her? But it hasn't just been a quick investigation to see if they were fit parents, oh no. (which would have been bad enough, by the way) It's been SIXTEEN MONTHS of separation. Parents rarely get to see their daughter, daughter has no stable family support system around her, and seriously who knows exactly what happened to her while she was in the state's custody?

I do not know where she was. I don't know who was taking care of her. I don't know any details. Obviously some out there do, and I think it will be very interesting hearing her side of the story come out.

The bottom line is that a hospital didn't agree with parents on how their daughter was getting medically treated (by another physician, no less), so they called the state in, the state took said daughter away from the parents, and the parents have been fighting for 16 whole months to get their precious daughter back.

Does anyone else find this extremely disturbing?

Where are parents rights in all of this? Don't we as mommies and daddies have the say in what our kids are exposed to, what medical treatment is chosen for them, what school they attend, and overall how they are raised? I say absolutely!

I don't want some bureaucrat telling my husband and I how, where, or what we need to do when raising our children.

I don't want some doctor telling me what I have to do to our children or they will be calling the authorities.

Unfortunately, this kind of thing is happening more and more. Women are being forced into c-sections. Couples are being forced to vaccinate their newborns. Parents are being forced into treating their kids medically and chemically instead of naturally, or however they see most fit for their family. I just saw a headline the other day about a woman who had a homebirth got her newborn taken away for a time because she was accused of child endangerment or abuse or something of that nature. Seriously?

Who knows how many other Justinas there are out there. Children who are taken away for no good reason. Taken away from their loving families just because some doctor somewhere disagrees with a course of treatment and someone working for the state agrees. My prayer is that any other families who are going through something as horrific as this are getting the justice that they deserve. I pray that they are reunited quickly and without incident. And I pray that there are no lasting emotional effects. I pray that they are able to work through it all and process it and move on while trying to make up for lost time together.

This isn't a political issue. This is a parenting and human rights issue. I hope and pray that no matter what side of the aisle you fall into politically that stories like this waken you to the fact that it could happen, and much closer to home than Massachusetts. I'm pretty sure there was a story not long ago about a hospital on a reservation right here in SD forcing pregnant women into induction, whether or not they were ready, whether or not they had childcare lined up for their other children, and whether or not their partners were with them.

It's sickening.

So, first of all I want to say "Thank you Jesus that Justina is going home where she is meant to be".

Secondly, I pray that we as parents are all vigilant in our efforts to stay in control of our parenting rights. Read everything thoroughly before you sign, KNOW what's going on at school, keep track of your children's friends and who they talk to online, and know your state and local laws and your rights based on those laws. There are also many organizations out there working diligently to help us keep our parental rights. I would encourage you to find them, support them, and join the fight if you haven't already. Our children are way too precious to have someone else who doesn't know them, love them, or care for them the way we do raise them and make decisions on their behalf.

That's our job, thank you, and not one we take lightly.

Keep up the good work, parents! You are doing perfectly!!


Monday, June 16, 2014

When You AREN'T Happy After Baby

I read an article from the New York Times this morning talking about Maternal Mental Illness.

It did a lot of things to my emotions. I was angry, I was sad, I was irritated, and many many thoughts went through my mind as I was reading it.

I thought of my first birth and first postpartum experience. When our daughter entered the world I was on the most amazing birth-high. I had never experienced anything like it. I didn't get to hold her for a half hour or so after she was born, but she did nurse right away when I did finally get her to my breast. I loved the time we had in the hospital. It was just my husband and I, and we of course had family who were there visiting. It was really quite blissful.

Then we went home. It was -40 degrees or something like that the day we left the hospital. We got home to a completely empty house. It was so cold outside that the toilet was frozen. My mom had left a casserole in the fridge, but that's all we had to eat so Randall had to go to the store. Baby slept all the time still, so I didn't really know what to do. I was never scared to be a mom - I had been around enough babies and little kids to know what to do to care for her, but I didn't really feel tired, so even though I had been told to sleep when the baby sleeps I didn't, and I just had this feeling of "what now?".

The first week was ok. Randall had the whole week off work so he was here taking care of me and just being with me when I needed someone there. Then he had to go back to work. I called my mom and asked if she could come spend the day with me. She did. Thank the Lord.

I was in a place where I just didn't want to be alone. I never ever had feelings of wanting to hurt the baby. I just felt SO sad and needed someone to be there with me. I almost had this feeling that the baby couldn't be mine. It was so weird. I felt unbelievable love for her, I had the normal mothering "instincts", and I took good care of her. I was just in this place that I almost didn't believe she was actually mine and that I got to keep her. Even though I obviously knew she was and that I indeed did. I remember laying in bed one night and Randall was just holding me as I sobbed. He asked what was wrong - he thought a baby is what I wanted. I assured him that I did. Being a mommy is exactly what I always wanted, I just couldn't help feeling so sad.

I knew a tiny bit about postpartum depression, the "baby blues", etc, but not much. I knew I had the baby blues. And I didn't really think it qualified as postpartum depression because I didn't want to hurt myself or the baby. I just had such an empty feeling inside. I figured it would go away pretty quickly. It didn't.

We were brand new in town so I didn't know anyone local. We had recently moved back from Portland and hadn't really gotten established...I had one or two friends other than my family (who of course were always there for me). The "alone" feeling stuck around for months. I honestly don't really know when it went away, but it did eventually.

It really sucked.

So as I was reading the article, it made me so incredibly sad for all the moms out there who go through those kinds of feelings after baby comes. They are actually finding that depression can actually begin before baby even gets here or not until weeks and weeks after birth (it doesn't have to be immediately or within the first few weeks)!


That's kind of a big deal. Moms can also have more than one mental issue at one time. Also a big deal.

I pray that moms who are suffering through and dealing with any kind of depression or other maternal mental illness gets the help they need. If medical/medicinal intervention is needed then DO it! It's not worth feeling so horrible that you want to hurt yourself or baby.

I feel pretty blessed that I didn't need medicine to deal with mine. I easily could have.

My other prayer is that research turns not only to the broad spectrum of the illnesses, but also to potential causes. I have a sneaking suspicion that today's birth practices and medical OB care can certainly contribute. I would never say they are the only cause - as the article states, there are reported cases way back to the 4th century and also reports during the middle ages (they thought the victims were witches or victims of witchcraft). Clearly long before modern OB practices.

I certainly feel like my pitocin-induced birth, episiotomy, early separation, and epidural contributed to mine. My first birth kind of happened "to" me. I wasn't really in control the entire time.

My second birth was obviously very different, being at home with the intimacy of just my hubby and mom. Yes, I definitely had hormone fluctuations and adjustments that took a week or two to work through. But I didn't have that "completely alone" feeling that I had after the first.

I also believe that the overall nutrition and basic "over-medicalization" of our culture can also contribute. Again, certainly not the only cause, but nutrition can absolutely and most definitely affect hormone balance, as can medications, medical procedures, radiation from all kinds of different sources, etc. Add in stress, crazy-busy lifestyles, and the pressures many women have to be "back to work" in just a few short weeks after birth, and it seems to me that it's like a "perfect storm" for mental illnesses for moms.

I pray that researchers don't ignore these potential contributors and that they can help find some answers. It was hard enough for me, who clearly had a very mild case. I can't imagine the hell that many new moms live through. If you are one of them, PLEASE seek help - it's out there!


Thursday, June 12, 2014

For Daddies Everywhere

I don't know if you've noticed, but so many sitcoms and comedy movies portray dads as ridiculous buffoons who don't know anything about how to be a good dad. They don't know anything about what's going on in the kids' lives, they know nothing about how to have a good relationship with their wives, and they just generally are pretty idiotic and clueless characters.

Now, I laugh at shows like Everybody Loves Raymond (I don't know any current sitcoms - ha!) and Family Guy as much as the next person, but it's kind of disheartening to see where our culture has put our men all in the name of comedy.

I thought of all this the other day when I came home from Bible Study and my husband asked me "wanna see the best commercial ever?" 

"Of course" I replied

"It made me cry" he said.

Wait. What? 

What kind of commercial could really-for-real make my man cry? I mean, he's not one of those I'm-too-tough-to-cry kind of men, but it certainly takes a lot to see any tears coming from his eyes.

Me, on the other hand.....well, I can quite easily cry at anything. I'm not kidding. A.ny.thing. Add pregnancy hormones on top of that? It's safe to say that I am quite regularly wiping my eyes for one reason or another. I should probably just give-up wearing make up.

So, when he pulled this up online and we watched it, you can imagine the waterworks.

You may have seen it before. It doesn't matter. Watch it again. 

It's awesome.

So, to all the awesome daddies out there - my wonderful husband included - this one's for you. Happy Father's Day on Sunday!

We love you!


Monday, June 9, 2014

What Can Daddies Do?

In today's post (in honor of Father's Day coming up) I wanted to talk about daddies and their role in breastfeeding. As I was flipping through my copy of "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding" I found the absolutely perfect excerpt.

I am so incredibly blessed to have a husband who is absolutely and completely supportive of breastfeeding, and even when I was having some issues with our second baby, he's the one who popped online and did some research to help me come up with a solution. He was AWESOME - and I'm completely confident that he will be awesome with our upcoming arrival as well :).

So, check out what La Leche League has to say about Fathers and what they can do during the breastfeeding stage of baby-raising ;):

Though mother is the only one who can nurse the baby, there are a number of things that no one else can do quite as well as a loving father. Have you ever watched a mother try to soothe a fussy baby by nursing and rocking and patting, and just about everything else she can think of, and then watched in amazement as the baby's father lifts the little one out of her arms, hoists him onto his shoulder, and promptly puts the baby to sleep! It is a trade secret known only to fathers; we don't know if it's the broad shoulders, the large, strong hands, or the deep baritone voice that does the trick. But no matter - we know that it works, and clever nursing mothers are the first to take advantage of it.

Babies are often their fussiest late in the day, mother is tired after a full day of baby care, and perhaps there is the added pressure of hungry children awaiting dinner. When dad arrives home, even though he may have had a hard day at work, he can often approach the baby in a more relaxed way than mother can at that point. Many fathers take advantage of this to establish their own special relationship with their babies.

First Baby Snuggles (she would never do this for me - only my handsome hubby!)
In Becoming A Father, Dr Sears describes a special form of baby-soothing that only works for dads - he calls it "the neck nestle." Dad puts baby in a sling of baby carrier on his chest and lifts him up a bit so baby's head nestles under dad's chin. Dr Sears explains:
In the neck nestle, father has a slight edge over mother. Babies hear not only through their ears, but also through the vibration of the skull bones. By placing baby's skull against your voice box in the front of your neck and humming or singing to your baby, the slower, more easily felt vibrations of the lower-pitched male voice will often lull baby right to sleep. An added attraction of the neck nestle is that baby feels the warm air from your nose on his scalp. Experienced mothers have long known that sometimes just breathing onto their babies' faces or heads will calm them. They call this "magic breath." My children have enjoyed the neck nestle more than any of the other holding positions.
What do fathers most enjoy doing with their babies? There are probably almost as many answers as there are fathers, but over the years we have observed that fathers seem to have a special gift for playing with even very young babies. While mother is often preoccupied with cuddling and feeding, father is likely to tickle baby under his chin, hoist him into the air, or bounce him on his knee. A caution may be needed about shaking a baby as this can be harmful, but movement and exercise are important to the baby's overall development. Babies thrive when provided with both gentle nurturing and lively activity. As Louise Kaplan, PhD, explains in her book Oneness and Separateness, "Fathers have a special excitement about them that babies find intriguing...Fathers embody a delicious mixture of familiarity and novelty."

Fathers need to spend time with their babies in order to get to know them better and get "tuned in" to their needs. Watch for cues that baby is ready for some fathering interaction. A hungry baby won't be interested in playing. But once baby has nursed his fill, dad can take over the burping, diaper-changing, singing, rocking, and cuddling. Some fathers enjoy bathing the baby - or bathing with the baby, soaking together in a warm tub. A gentle massage can be another form of interaction between father and infant and don't overlook the sling or baby carrier. It's not just for mothers.

Learning about the usual stages of a baby's development in the first year can help a father enjoy his baby more. It's important for him to know when his son or daughter is ready to play peek-a-boo, when to expect reaching and grasping, and when to encourage crawling and climbing. A father can play an important role in these stages of development and proudly watch his child's growth and advancement. Another book by Dr William Sears, Growing Together: A Parent's Guide to Baby's First Year, explains baby's stages of growth and development. 

~Excerpt taken from The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League

So, keep it up dads! You are doing great, and there are many many ways to bond and interact with your precious baby even though you aren't the one doing the feeding!

To learn more and get breastfeeding support from local moms who have "been there-done that", come on down and meet with us on Thursday evening at 6:30 at Educated Mommy. Also, don't forget about our weekly support group Milk Monologues that meets every Wednesday at 1:00 pm!

Happy Father's Day on Sunday!


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Facebook - Love It or Hate It?

So something I've been struggling with a lot lately is my relationship with Facebook.

There are so many things to love about it.

Then again, there are so many things to hate about it.

It seriously is fantastic for so many reasons!

  • I get to keep in touch with so many people. 
  • I get news blurbs and can somewhat keep up with what's happening in the world without spending a ton of time reading every single news article or blog post.
  • I get notifications in my news feed when new studies about pregnancy/birth/breastfeeding come out
  • I get links to all kinds of fantastic health information
  • I am able to network in a way that just wasn't possible before
  • I do a lot of my work for Elegant Mommy and Educated Mommy on Facebook
So if it's so great, why have I been struggling with it?

Well, for one thing it's an a-number-one ridiculous and awful time-sucker. It has some kind of addictive property that makes me (and I'm assuming I'm not the only one) just go to it whenever I have a free minute. Then, whether or not I have extra time (more than my free minute), it takes that time and sucks it away from my day. So, when I could be doing one of the billion other things I need to do, instead I sit on Facebook and waste away my time. Usually that kind of thing happens later in the evening when hubby is at work and kids are in bed. So instead of finishing up the cleaning I didn't get done for the day, or the sewing that I've been meaning to get to, I zone out and scroll through the over-abundance of information that is at my fingertips.

I click on articles and posts that catch my eye. The only problem is - many of them don't improve me in any way. In fact, many of them are - in and of themselves - time wasters. And before I know it, it's getting close to the time when my husband will be home from work, or time for me to be getting to bed myself, and here I sit yet again in front of my computer with dishes left in the sink or messes still in the living room or my sewing projects still left untouched, and I feel a little more worthless and like a bad mom and/or wife (depending on the day).

So yes. I hate Facebook for many reasons. If I could, I honestly think I would just delete my account. But because of work, networking opportunities, etc, I really don't feel like I can for now. 

And then I think about how useful a tool it truly is, and how I really do get a lot of great information from it. And I think about how I can talk to my friends and keep up with what's going on in their lives. I love rejoicing with them (even with my not-close-friends) when they get married, welcome a beautiful new baby into their family, or some other wonderful event. I also appreciate being able to know what to pray for when my friends and acquaintances are going through difficult times in their lives. And I love making new friends. I never thought I'd be one of those people who said "I met them online". But I am. And my life is richer for some of the friendships that have been made and strengthened through this amazing tool called Facebook.

So do I hate Facebook? Yep.

Do I love Facebook? Also yep.

And if you are one of my virtual friends, please know that I truly appreciate the way you've touched my life. Whether we have become good friends or are still just acquaintances. You have touched my life in some way or another, and I thank you for it.

As for me and my Facebook "addiction" struggle, I'll probably still waste some time on there, but I'm definitely going to work on just turning my computer off and ignoring it when I have other and better things to do. This afternoon for instance? I'm going to play outside with the kiddos. And I won't be on FB on my phone, either. :)

I hope your day is full of adventure and no wastefulness! I'm thinking mine will be ;)


Monday, June 2, 2014

This Mama is TIRED!

We had such a fun weekend around here!

We did a bit of a switch-eroo with the kiddos, and what a treat it was for everyone :)

My 6 year old and my sister's 4 year old daughter went with my mom out to Gillette, WY for my other niece's birthday.
Vienna at a park
They had an amazing time (so I hear - ha!). It sounds as though there was a lot of jumping on trampolines, swimming in super-awesome swimming pools, sliding on slides and playing in parks, not to mention going to hang out with their wonderful-amazing second cousins too! The girls didn't get much sleep, but great fun was had by all, and it was a lovely birthday celebration for my niece.

So....while there was a girls' weekend in WY, we had a boys weekend here at our house.

My sister and her husband had a wedding to go to, so I took their 16-month-old son here. That means I was the only "girl", and like my husband told our son when he was feeling lonely for his big sister, girls are "yucky". Apparently. Ha! So, my husband didn't have to work most of the weekend until Sunday morning, and we had a 4 year old and toddler boy running around. What a hoot!

I would be lying if I said that having a toddler around again was easy and a piece of cake. He sure was fun to have around, but holy moly. He was into He also likes to climb. On

He discovered our piano and just couldn't leave it alone. So we had a full weekend of beautiful and awesome toddler-music. He would pull out the bench (which is very heavy, by the way - completely full of sheet music and books), climb up, and give us his concert. It was so sweet! Then usually he would try to climb up further before I would stop him. I'm sure he would have been on the top of the piano if I had let him - ha! And he only fell off backward once. He cried for about a minute then went right back to doing it again. He's SO funny!

One of his other favorite activities was playing with a big ball that our son recently got. We have a long straightaway in our house from the front door to the back door. The two boys would run up and down the entire length of the house and kick the ball along the way. Of course the dog would join in, and it was delightful chaos. It was really fun seeing Porter in a "big brother" kind of role. He definitely got some good practice and insight to what it's going to be like when Jellybean arrives in October :)

The boys
So we had a great weekend and I had some delicious toddler snuggles (it's REALLY awesome to rock babies to sleep!)

And I'm really glad to get back to normal.

I don't know if it is being pregnant, or just the extra energy it takes when watching someone else's precious baby. But last night when we got all the kids traded back to their normal spots, I was beat. I don't think I really noticed it that much while he was here. Once he was gone, though, I crashed. Hard.

I forgot how much a toddler requires of you. And we are starting all over again with a newborn in a few months! At least we'll be able to ease back in to the toddler years :).

How was your weekend?