Simply Noel: December 17 – A Season of Self-Care

Simply Noel:

December 17 – A Season of Self-Care

Last night, I shut my computer down just before midnight. We returned home late, after an early Christmas celebration with my husband’s side of the family. I bathed the littlest ones, we put the kids to bed, and I opened my laptop to write this post with heavy eyelids. As I typed the title that was on my heart all day, I realized that the most important thing about this devotional project wasn’t the deadline each day or being able to choose the most eloquent words…it is its authenticity. Am I practicing what I am preaching? Am I taking each day’s message and honestly applying it to myself first, before I expect anyone else to follow suit?

Self-Care.

Sleep.

I made the better choice, and went to bed.

Isn’t it true for so many of us that the holiday season is the one in which we usually practice self-care the least? We are running around, finishing errands, attending parties and events, stressing over tasks and purchases, taking care of sick babies and overexerting ourselves physically to decorate the house, staying up too late baking and cleaning… Christmas, at least for me, has been a time of great sacrifice in regards to my own health, sanity, and needs.

Do you remember a certain set of sisters in Luke, chapter 10, that had to choose between busyness and rest?

Martha and Mary

38 Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

Martha – “worried and bothered about so many things…”

Mary – “seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word…”

One chose work; one chose rest. And just one of those choices was the necessary one.

You see, there are times in our lives and in our days in which it is necessary to choose between what we think we should do and what we should actually be doing.

God in the flesh was sitting in her home – Martha should have chosen to sit with Him.

Worried and Bothered about So Many Things?

There are times to clean and cook and work, and there are times to rest, relax, and sleep. There are times to run errands, and there are times to say, “No, that can wait,” or, “That’s really not a necessity.” There are times to visit and attend gatherings, and there are times in which you should give yourself permission to stay home and focus on yourself and your family.

It’s ok to respond to all of those e-mails on Monday and enjoy your kids instead on the weekends. It’s ok to put the kids to bed 30 minutes earlier and take a long bath. It’s ok to let the dishes wait until morning, so you can turn in early.

Especially if you are under the weather right now, which so many of us are, self-care couldn’t be more important. How can you be your best you and enjoy this season if you continue to ruin your mind and body in the process?

Choose time with Him. Choose time for your family. Choose time to take care of YOU. The rest can wait and can be taken in stride.

Your family doesn’t need a perfect home. It needs your love.

Your friends don’t need lavish gifts and parties. They need your laughter.

The world doesn’t need a rundown mind and body walking around. It needs your smile.

And it’s hard to smile, laugh, and love well, when you’re deprived and just wishing for a long winter’s nap, right?

So, take care of you – your mind, body, and soul, and sit at His feet first and foremost this season. Handle the rest after you’re rested.

xo,

Kristi

care

Klover House Christmas:

Eight sleeps (counting last night, since I’m late posting this), until Christmas morning. If you are like me, can you do me a favor? Commit with me to go to bed early each night leading up to Christmas. My normal bedtime is 2AM. Seriously. It’s terrible. My husband’s bedtime is 10PM. Much more sane, right? So, this week, I am committing to my husband’s bedtime and no later than 11PM, if he stays up a little longer to watch a movie, etc. This is a very practical way that I can take care of myself this week.

What is a practical way that you can take care of yourself this week? Can you say “no” to extra plans and just rest a little more? Can you say “no” to extra errands, and just be ok with what you have already? Can you say “no” to scrubbing a floor and sit down with Jesus for 20 minutes instead?

Let’s take practical, intentional steps this week to make the choices that matter, that are necessary, and the ones that have results that “cannot be taken away” from us. Time spent cannot be taken away. Let’s spend that time well.

Lord, please touch those of us sick in body today. Father, I pray for my friends’ healing and peace this Christmas. May their homes become sanctuaries for themselves and their loved ones. May they feel Your presence there. God, we love you and we want your peace to reign in our homes. Be near to us today and always, Holy Spirit. Guide our hearts and minds to make the best choices today, tomorrow, and each day to come. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

Alive Again: An Honest Look at Healthy

Here comes Big Mama!

Big. Mama.

That’s the honest introduction I received from my five-year-old as I entered the pool.  I smiled, trying not to reveal that beneath my skin, my soul was crushed, mortified.  Big. Mama.  Not Pretty Mama, or Sweet Mama, or even just Mama.  Big Mama.

I know, you may be thinking, “What’s the big deal?  She’s five.  She might be talking about your height or that you are just a “big” person in her little eyes that view the world much larger than it is.”  And you may be right, but what you haven’t heard over the past five months are the other comments.  The “when is the next baby coming out of your belly, Mommy?”  “Is there a brother in there?”  “Why is your belly so big, Mom?”  “I think you need to exercise.”

Thank you, Sesame Street and preschool for teaching my daughter all about physical health, because what she is retaining, she is kindly sharing with her big-bellied-mama.

The four-year-old taps on my stomach incessantly like it’s homebase or a bass drum.  I don’t know which, but neither feels pleasant.  Their small hands hurt my tender tissues, and their innocent words hurt my bruised ego.

I know, child.  I know your mama is big.  Your mama doesn’t want to be.  

But you can’t tell your growing daughters that.  I mean you can talk about health and self-control and dedication to a positive lifestyle, but you can’t express what you are really struggling with.

I feel fat, honey.  I don’t know how your dad is attracted to this hot mess.  I feel strangers’ eyes on my stomach.  I can’t button my pants and it ticks me off.  

You can’t really say those things when you’re raising four beautiful, healthy, innocent daughters who haven’t been tainted by a negative self-image.  I will never introduce them to self-loathing.  I will fight that fight to the end.  

I got on the scale the next morning.  We have one of those fancy-schmancy ones… And it gave me an honest look at myself and my health.  I had gained just over six pounds in two weeks and was teetering back into my pregnancy weight high.  Yep, I was weighing as much as I did when I had a human inside of me (and all that comes with it)!

Again, you may be struggling with weight too and look at me thinking, “She has no idea what it really looks or feels like to be heavy. (smh)”  You may be right, but I am heavy for me, and I am trying my very best to raise four daughters in a home that aims for well-being, not a number on a scale, so, while I know that number doesn’t define me, I also know that the way I feel isn’t healthy.  I feel the sluggishness in my muscles…  I feel the heaviness in my legs when I walk…  I feel and see the extra rolls that I am trying to hide under my shirts…  It doesn’t feel good, and I refuse to settle for less than my best.  (And I refuse to buy a new wardrobe!)  If my best was this at just a month or two postpartum, then fine, but Miriam is six months old now, and I know that I can do better.  Truthfully, up until this point, I haven’t been doing anything at all.

I had let diastasis recti get into my head.  It put a fear in me.  “Don’t do that, you may make things worse.”  But after seeing that disheartening number on the scale that morning, I knew I had to do something, because not doing anything is what has made things feel worse.

The other night, I waited until the kids were in bed and sleeping.  I changed my clothes and donned my running shoes, which hadn’t even been worn since I mowed the lawn for my hubby a month ago!  I left our quiet house and started a brisk walk beneath a peaceful, pastel sky.  There wasn’t a whole lot of running, and I honestly felt like I was on the verge of shin-splints about ten steps in, but as I completed my first lap around our neighborhood (three makes a mile), cresting a small hill, I was even with the horizon and I felt it.

Alive.

I felt alive again.

All of this time, I have been staying indoors feeling sluggish and worthless and anxious…  This girl that used to ask for and receive gym memberships for her birthday.  I had tried an intense workout video at home during my second pregnancy and miscarried the following day, and it scarred me.  I never touched another form of exercise since.  I’m recognizing these unhealthy choices now.  I’m recognizing not just the physical issues, but the mental, emotional, and spiritual ones too.  I took that first lap and felt free for the first time in a long time.  The smell of fresh air, the healthy burn in the quads I thought were long gone…  It felt so good to feel again, to catch my breath again, to believe in myself again.

I will succeed, not because I need to, but because I want to.  I want to feel that way every day for the rest of my life.  I will be that little bitty (God-willing) still walking those laps around the flower bed when my hair is white, because it’s worth it.

I felt my spirit having a chance to connect with God.  I was able to pray for my neighbors as I ran past unfamiliar porches.  I added about sixteen projects to my “Honey-Do” list, because some of those folks have killer landscaping!  😉  This is what I was longing for, and I didn’t even realize it.

I left my cell phone on the bed and the music with it.  I kept glancing at my new “live hands free” bracelet from Rachel Macy Stafford, the wise and amazing Hands Free Mama, and I kept thinking, Yes!  This is living.  This is what it’s all about – getting back to life…to my health…the outside world…the sound of trees in the wind and birds and rocks crunching beneath my feet…  This is living…being my best self, so I can be the best wife and mother for them.  This is what I’ve been missing over the past five years…

live hands free

 

I went for my second run/jog/walk yesterday evening.  I have a long way to go in order to jog that mile without walking breaks, but I’m confident that I’ll get there.  I drove my girls around “Mommy’s exercise path” yesterday afternoon, and we talked about being healthy and working our bodies, so they are strong and useful.  My oldest shouted from behind, “Exercise is good, Mama.  I think your belly is getting smaller!”  Her words didn’t sting this time.  Even if my belly hadn’t changed a bit in three days, my heart has, and my mind has.  I am becoming a better version of me for me and for them.  I’m proud to be their “Big Mama”, and I’m proud that they will get to witness my healthy, prayerful, and patient transformation for themselves.

And so why am I sharing this with you?  Because I know I’m not alone.  I’m not alone in desiring change.  I’m not alone in diastasis recti.  I’m not alone in miscarriage.  I’m not alone in marital issues.  I’m not alone in low self-esteem.  I’m not alone in motherhood.  I’m not alone in fear.  I’m not alone in feeling overwhelmed.  I know I’m not alone in eating well, yet never seeing the scale move.  I’m not alone in feeling alone!  I’m not alone.  Neither are you.  I’m here.  I’m struggling, but I’ve decided to step into the ring and fight back.  I’m done with the pity parties.  I’m ready to be accountable to my community of sisters here and see where this new path leads.  Let’s take our lives back, friends.  Are you on this life-changing journey with me?

xoxo

Follow my journey on IG @kristi_kloverhouse.  See you there, friend!

alive again

Standard disclaimer: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and/or believe in wholeheartedly.

Diastasis Recti: Shame in the Middle

Diastasis Recti: a separation of your outermost abdominal muscles. The job of these muscles (called rectus abdominis), is to support your back and your organs.

Umbilical hernia: a sac (pouch) formed from the inner lining of your belly (abdominal cavity) that pushes through a hole in the abdominal wall at the belly button.

Shame: a condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute

Me: all of the above

diastasis

Five months ago, my sweet Miriam Jane was born.  She was actually my smallest baby, born at just 6lbs, 14oz.

miribirth

Many of you may remember my complaint towards the end of this fourth full-term pregnancy that my upper mid-section was burning all day, every day, without rest.  I went on to find out that I had developed diastasis recti, an abdominal separation that is common among women of short stature and having multiple pregnancies (or multiple babies in a single pregnancy).  This pic is me at 38 weeks.  Miriam Jane made her debut just four days later.

miribelly

During my quick check in the hospital after delivering, one of the doctors advised that I have my abdomen checked well at my six-week postpartum appointment, and until that point, take it easy.  When I went in, they recommended that I continue to wear a belly band and forgo all exercise for an additional eight weeks.  That’s fourteen weeks postpartum of no exercise.  They also informed me that, in addition to having at least a 3 cm separation, I had an umbilical hernia.  My doctor suggested I see a surgeon and warned me against doing any core exercise that could exacerbate the issues.

I left my appointment feeling so discouraged.  Not only did I find it sickening that a part of my body that was supposed to stay intact on the inside was oozing through to the outside, but the thought of surgical repair scared me to death.  Realize, I have had four natural births, zero epidurals, no c-sections…  The closest I’ve ever gotten to a real surgery was a D&C after losing EJ, and, other than anesthesia, I would consider it a pretty easy/non-life-threatening procedure.  I don’t do surgery, friends.  I am terrified.

A friend of a friend recently messaged me a detailed description of her surgery.  I had to open it about six times to make it all the way through.  I kept getting queasy just reading about it.  As much as I’d love a nip and a tuck to heal and flatten this pooch out…I can’t.

So, like any chicken would do, I vowed to watch it just heal and melt away. Amen.

Yep.  Not happening.

Granted, my diet lately hasn’t helped (way too many sweets), and I am pretty sure that I’m one of those breastfeeding moms whose body hangs onto weight rather than burns it away, because I am still 25 lbs heavier than my pre-pregnancy weight, and it hasn’t budged by even a pound in four months.

I never had any problems like this before.  Just my natural activity had done wonders after my previous deliveries.  Between running around after the kids and good eating habits, I could always get back to my normal weight/shape fairly easily.

This is me just five months after having Eden Grace.  No tricks, no diet programs, gym memberships, belly bands, or workout videos.  This is just how my body bounced back before.  I call it the “I am a busy mom of three” regimen.  You know the one…you have coffee for breakfast, get to eat a handful of blueberries for lunch, devour a healthy dinner in 45.7 seconds, and you never sit down…

meande

Notice, my “mommy tummy” was relatively small, especially in comparison to my stomach now.  The “I am an even busier mom of four” regimen isn’t working, and according to what I’ve read on diastasis recti…it’s never going to.  I have to be more intentional this time, more focused.

Those closest to me already knew about my stomach’s condition, so they’ve never said anything in naivete.  Unlike strangers, they’ve never judged me as lazy, pregnant, large, or alcoholic.

Yep.  Alcoholic.

That was a new one for me.

Enter shame.

We went to visit my brother and his family in WV this past weekend and ended up having to take one of our daughters to MedExpress for a suspected UTI.  We left Ava and Eden with my sister-in-law, and hubs and I took Isla and Miriam with us to see the doctor.  Hubs dropped the three of us off and ran some errands, expecting to be back before we were even called into the room.

If you’ve been to a MedExpress, then you know that you check in, sit and wait, and then you go to another window to verify information, sign a couple of forms and pay your co-pay.  We had already been waiting for some time when we were finally called to the billing window.  The only other people in the waiting area consisted of a woman (by herself) and a married couple (probably in their late 70s).  It was quiet and peaceful.  I had just had a nice, heartfelt conversation with the staff member at the billing window, and I returned to our seats feeling totally at peace with the moment.  Isla, before returning to coloring a picture of Elsa that I had brought along, stopped to coo over Miriam, who was pleasantly hanging out in her carseat.

The elderly woman made a comment to me across the rows noting how much Isla loves her baby sister.  “Yes,” I replied.  “She’s one of four, and she’s by far the most nurturing.”  Then, I sat down next to Isla, who had returned to her artwork.

That’s when I heard the man’s whispers.  Apparently, he didn’t know how to whisper very well.

She must drink a lot of beer.  (brief pause)  Why else would she have a belly like that?

His wife in quiet rebuttal:

She did say she had four kids.

And when I heard the wife’s response, I knew it was me.  Initially, I just thought he was talking about someone else.  A friend, a family member…  I just thought they were resuming a conversation that was taking place while I was at the window.  I was wrong, of course, and when it clicked, something snapped in my spirit.  I felt it.  It was a dead-emptiness that suddenly took over all of my thoughts, and I felt such…shame.

I never, ever felt that way before.

Beer belly?  I never even drink.  Like never.  It’s kind of a joke between one of my friends and I that she’s going to find me a wine that I can drink, because I honestly hate the taste of alcohol.

I know, you might be thinking: What’s the big deal?  If I were you, I would’ve turned around and said x,y,z…  Who cares, right?

I tried thinking those things too.  I almost turned around and explained my condition, but I didn’t.  I just sat there, in my cloud of shame and hurt feelings.

My husband walked in just as the nurse called Isla back to see the doctor.

When I told him about the whispers later on, I broke down into tears.

After consoling me, he joked, “You should’ve told them that you drink a case a day and you were drunk right then.  How else can you stay sane with all of those kids?”  I told him that I’d be dealing with a whole other can of worms, but I appreciated his humor.

Fast-forward to two days later.  Isla had her follow-up with her regular pediatrician, and then I took her fabric shopping with me in a fun, upscale neighborhood nearby.  Since I was pricing fabric for an upcoming wedding, I spent a great deal of time speaking with the shop employee.  She was so kind and helpful, so our conversation eventually turned personal with her telling me about her daughter just having a baby boy.  Then it came.  The naive and innocent dagger.

Looking directly at Isla, she said:

It looks like your mommy is going to have a baby too!

And the automatic response came quickly:

No, I just had one.

Just had one…  How long can that possibly work?  Five months, eight months, a year?  Just is reserved for newbies.  I am quickly crossing that imaginary line, if I haven’t crossed it already.

So, I did what I do.  Left the shop with a smile and a “thank you”, and took Isla to the local coffee shop, where I drowned my hurt in a blended caramel latte and a double chocolate biscotti.  Counter-productive, huh?  I know.

Since then, I’ve had a few more cries, I’ve googled a lot, I’ve called my ob/gyne doctor, and I’ve decided to buckle down and take care of this problem.  I’m still trying to avoid surgery, and luckily, my hernia is umbilical, so bringing my abdominal muscles back together should also remedy the hernia.

I have created a Pinterest board to keep all of the information I find in one place.  I am also looking into the Tupler Technique (aff. link).  I’ll keep you posted on that.  The burning pain is less noticeable, but still present, so I am going to be more diligent in wearing a belly band and remaining aware of my posture throughout the day.

As far as the shame part, I’d just appreciate your prayers.  I know that until I am able to flatten up, the comments and questions are probably going to keep coming.  Please, be kind to those moms you see out there whose postpartum bellies are still hanging around.  They just might be facing the mother of all tummy troubles too.

 

 

 

angry.

i am angry.

trying to sew a romper for eden gray.
it’s late, so i decide to call it a night.
i sweep my little threads and scraps into a tidy pile to be tossed into the trash.
i fold my work and set it off to the side.
i turn off the sewing machine and take a sip of water.
time to pick up this little pile of pins.
five pins.
five little pins with colorful, round heads.
big round heads.
five.
five stinkin’ pins.
FIVE.

and takes me longer to do that then all of the other things combined, and i’m angry.

this is what they call the ‘pincer grasp’, right?!
it’s one of the FIRST skills you develop in your life, for cryin’ out loud.
i can’t pick up stinkin’ pins, Lord!

i used to paint. i used to draw.  i used to knit.  i used to sit in my room and make those teeny little friendship bracelets for hours as a kid! i used to make beaded jewelry in college.  i used to… i used to… i used to…

how many other things am i taking for granted even right now?!

getting old just isn’t fair.

and i’m so sorry for saying ‘stinkin’ so many times and complaining yet again about this, but losing fine motor skills at just 32 years old makes me angry.  and if i don’t get angry, i will just plain ol’ bawl.

God, have mercy on these hormones.

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longing for a ‘let down’ – nursing and sjogren’s

this will be brief – if i even know how to be brief *wink* – b/c it’s already after midnight, and my hands aren’t fading fast…they flat out went kaput like two days ago. i’m heading downstairs after this to try pumping just one more time. i promise this won’t be a nursing post, but it has something to do with what i’m dealing with. my supply has been rapidly fading since introducing formula. little peanut has grown substantially since doing so, so i have very mixed feelings. one thing i am feeling is a yearning. i yearn for the ‘let down.’ if miss e is my last, i am saddened to think, like a kicking babe in a womb, i will never get the chance to feel that sensation again. it’s not a good one; it’s not a bad one… it’s just a familiar one. you know it’s coming – the life source for your infant. for me, it was relief. “yes, thank you God that it’s still working.”  i would say that nearly every day for over ten months. and now, my physical appearance and the fact that eden just rejected a last-ditch effort to nurse five minutes ago, tells me that the ‘let down’ has let go.

another unfortunate sign of that fact is the pain. my fingers…my knees…my arms and legs. it’s back. it flooded in with a vengeance. my skin is splitting across my knuckles and folding laundry feels like juggling razor blades. it makes my thoughts revisit my trips to the rheumatologist after delivering isla. i made it just three months in nursing with her before this body shut down the pump. three months postpartum, the pain started…the nearly falling down stairs…the not being able to open a pickle jar to save my life… the rheumie said, no more babies. you could die. and to that i said, ‘see ya later, alligator,’ and went and got pregnant. eden turned out to be the most wonderful pregnancy yet, and after a painfree delivery – yes, i mean that – she is also the easiest baby. ever.

apparently, estrogen has a lot to do with the pain and inflammation in my joints, and b/c my body is shifting out of nursing-mode, the hormones are getting quite wacky. like straight up on drugs out of their mind kind of kooky. so, while they get their act together, i am going to try to surrender my control issues with the blog and the business. i’m going to start going to bed earlier and taking the best care of myself that i can while i fight this stuff physically, emotionally, and spiritually. i believe God healed me of my sjogren’s. i’m sticking to that. this may be a setback, but i will have a victory.

that said, please be patient with me, klover house, and eden gray! i’m not abandoning you. i’m not avoiding your comments, emails, or questions. the truth is that i’m fighting to type even this, and i have to pace myself or my little fingers will grow tight and curly and we can’t have that! i’ve got things to do and ppl to care for.

now, off to try to pump and hoping a ‘let down’ awaits.

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baby food: carrots and spinach

hello!

this is going to be quick, b/c i’m in the middle of like seven things (at 11pm of course), but i just wanted to share our baby food endeavors with you. don’t be intimidasted! making your own baby food for your little person is easy, extremely cheap, healthy, and fun!

last week (eden’s first week adding solids to her breast ilk only diet, i pureed the leftover steamed french green beans from our dinner. she loved it!

this week…we’re using carrots and spinach. she loves them even more!!!

it’s simple.


image credit: Wendy Copley via photopin cc

i took a bag of carrots (peeled, rinsed and chopped) and a half a bag of raw spinach, boiled them until a knife slid through the carrots like butter, plopped them in the blender with 1 cup of the boiled water, liquified it for several minutes (until all lumps we completely gone), poured the contents into 2 ice cube trays, popped them in the freezer, and called it a done deal!

each ‘cube’ holds about 3 tsps of food. i have been giving eden 2 cubes per meal. at dinner, i add in about a tsp of oatmeal (that i made myself also by taking our real oats and grinding them down to a powdery consistency using the food processor). i am still nursing her following each feeding, and this process seems to be working out beautifully for us.

i plan on trying these other combinations next:

carrots and apples
avocado and peas
squash and pears
prunes and apples
bananas and pumpkin

an article that offers some additional ideas for combinations to try can be found here.

to these, eventually i will also be adding a dash of the following spices:

ginger (health benefits)
cinnamon (health benefits)
nutmeg (health benefits)
coriander (health benefits)
turmeric (health benefits)

*i will probably wait a little longer before adding the spices to my foods, and here is an article that supports that, if you’re interested.

also, here’s baby center’s article on the 10 best foods for baby.

in addition to the spices, once eden is closer to 8 or 9 months old, i plan on adding about a tsp of coconut oil to her diet. i’ve read some articles, and it seems that, as long as no allergy presents itself, that adding the oil can improve the texture of her food purees, and it also contains lauric acid (a powferful component in breast milk that supports our immune system!). go on…google it. 😉

here’s another mommy blogger writing about healthy baby food.

i am curious…did you make your own food for your baby/babies? any combos or techniques you feel like sharing? please do so in the comments! i look forward to hearing all about it!

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pinterest and prayers

i’ve caught myself lately looking at pinterest a little differently. you know how you get those notifications in your e-mail that read, ‘so-n-so has repinned 1 of your pins,’ or ‘so-n-so started following 1 of your boards’? well, i usually just glance at them quickly and delete them. a few weeks ago, i received a notification, and i didn’t recognize the pin (the pinner renamed it, so i didn’t know right away which pin it was), so i clicked on the link just out of curiosity. it was this pin. my miscarriage story. the emotions came flooding in. i still think about that post, and i rarely go a day or so without thinking of our heaven baby. ava knows she has a sibling in heaven, so we may have a conversation or two every once in awhile. we keep it light and simple. anyway, so, i followed this pin back to the other pinner’s board and read her caption. she had recently lost a baby, and the post had ministered to her. immediately, i realized why our connection was no coincidence. i was called to pray for her heart.

i was reminded of that today when i opened my e-mail and read that a woman started following my sjogren’s board. you probably only follow an illness board if you’re somehow afflicted by that illness, right? i don’t go around following random boards for the fun of it. i follow what’s applicable to me, and i’m sure others do the same. so, when i saw that this young woman decided to follow the sjogren’s board, i again felt compelled to pray for her. to pray for her healing, her faith, her outlook in regards to that disorder. it’s no fun, and i remember the pain well. i know God has brought me out of that muck, and i’m believing the same for her and anyone else being tormented by that annoying illness.

i believe that God allows trials to happen in our lives, so that we can turn around and minister and pray out of our experience(s). if you swallow up the bad, pretend it didn’t happen, or keep it locked inside, it becomes like a cancer. you won’t be helping yourself or anyone else for that matter, so use it in some way to make a difference. even making the choice to say a simple prayer for a random stranger. it may seem small, but prayer shifts the heavens in a mighty way.

be blessed,

kristi

a little for the mom-to-be


so, we believe eden grace to be our grand finale. having delivered three babies now, naturally, sans an epidural, i wanted to share some things i’ve learned along the way. be advised…this post may gross out the male reader (unless your wife is expecting), so consider yourself fairly warned. :)

just a little background first…

ava, our first, came quickly. i remember going to the doctor for what was supposed to be my last exam and the doctor saying, “nothing’s happening. we’ll definitely see you next week.” that night, i grumpily ironed my clothes for my impending workday. well, at around 1:30 in the AM, little miss ava kicked up contractions like no body’s business. i described them as the “worst i-have-to-use-the-bathroom pains ever.” they would hit and just as quickly fade away. hit again…fade…over and over.

we followed our instructions and did the pacing/counting for nearly an hour before calling in to the doctor’s er line. i spoke with the doctor and she told us to head in and that it’d probably be awhile. it was close to 4AM by the time we arrived, and i was only 3cm. no doctor yet…no epidural yet either. next thing i know, i’m at 6cm, and the doctor is still m.i.a. i’m begging for the epidural at this point. nope. no doctor = no epidural. well, i went then from 6cm to 10cm in under 30 minutes, and the doctor still hadn’t arrived. 7:05 and the nurses are telling me to try to resist the urge to push, but, you can’t really do that when the baby is ready. the baby won’t care if your doctor is late. she rushed in around that time, surprised at how far things had gotten, and proceeded to deliver ava. for as bad as things hurt, i remember being so calm and praying through the entire thing, barely making a sound. i think i was even especially kind to my hubby! prayer works!


so anyway, that’s how my “natural delivery” choice was initially made. little miss early-bird ava and my late doctor started the trend for me.

isla’s story is a little different. she was already five days late when they choose to induce labor. i remember thinking, “just do what you know.” well, if you’ve ever been induced without an epidural, you know now that you didn’t know what was coming! i was given petocin at 9AM, laying there watching “ellen”, when things literally jump-started at 10:15AM with little warning. little isla rae was out by 11:12AM. it was rough and i was not so quiet that time around. she was my largest baby at 7lbs 12oz. my body literally felt beaten up that time around, and the recovery afterwards was just as intense as the delivery.

fast-forward to eden grace…this was by far the best, easiest pregnancy yet. i’ll get into that at another time perhaps, but the pregnancy itself was so wonderful. no pains…no crazy swelling or ridiculous weight gain…no sjogren’s – praise Jesus.

the labor/delivery was the best by far as well. much like with ava, everything started around 1:30AM tuesday morning (her actual due date), but this time there were no “i have to go to the bathroom pains,” just repeated, intense pressure. i was a little shocked that there was no pain involved, but happy to be standing in faith with what i believed God could do for me in that department.

this is where my advice comes in…

a friend of mine gave me a book called Supernatural Childbirth
by jackie mize. read it.

it’s a great book dealing with becoming and staying “kingdom minded” from trying to conceive all the way to labor and recovering from delivery. this little itty bitty book revolutionized my thinking when it came to childbirth and the plan God has for it, me(you), and the coming child. a lot of people that read it may just want to focus on the “painless” part, but it’s so much more than that. i can honestly say though, that while the contractions grew to feel overwhelming in the pressure department towards eden’s exit, i did not experience any pain until the very last moment. she was “stuck” in the canal, at the very end, and my contraction ceased. the doctor said, “she’s right there. you can push on your own, if you’re able.” so, at that desperate moment, just to finish the job, i pushed my last push and felt the burn come. i can’t help but wonder what would’ve happened had i kept my focus, prayed through it, waited for a contraction, etc. but, even in doing that, and causing myself to tear a little, i still only needed a single stitch (much less than the other two deliveries). also, this time around, i never needed a single ice pack, and i never even cracked open the bottle of tylenol. i took motrin every four hours the first day, and just at meal times for the next two days. since then, i’ve only taken it once a day, and i feel so great! i really do attribute that to focusing on what God says about this experience, and not what man expects the process to be like.

ok, now some practical advice as far as postpartum necessities (that you may not have thought of already).

1 – breast shields. not the ones you buy in the store. ask the lactation consultant for the rubber-backed “medela soft shell sore nipple shields”. if they have these, they are the best. the rubber backs vs. the plastic obviously are more comfortable. while i didn’t need them this time around while in the hospital, i did need them once my milk came in. i love them, b/c they’re dishwasher safe and easy-to-clean by hand as well. just be sure to check them occasionally. the holes at the top will not only circulate air, they’ll also leave you with an unpleasantly wet surprise if you’ve leaked and decide to bend over… so if baby goes without feeding for a longer stretch, simply check them, wipe them out, etc. no biggie.

2 – lanolin cream. again, your lactation consultant can send you home with some sample packets. good stuff and baby-friendly.

3 – store-bought maxi pads. i wish i had thought of this sooner. i guess i just figured that the hospital pads would be the best, and so i used them for several weeks with the first two, but this time, i just couldn’t stand them. i sent hubs to the store for some and he came home with these…


these are awesome. they seem thick, but they aren’t any thicker than the hospital ones, and the best part about them is that they are extra long, have wings, and they are contoured to better fit your body. the comfort level is off-the-charts in comparison to the others. your body will thank you for spending the $7 on them…

4 – ask for extras. before you leave the hospital…ask for extras of anything and everything. i always asked for the pads, but as you read above, stock up on the always instead. i especially recommend getting extra packets of the flushable wipes. they are made for this…no fragrances, no chemicals…you’ll wish you had more if you run out. you can also ask for extra medicated spray for yourself and prescription cream for baby’s cracked hands and feet. they’ll provide you with a good-sized tub of it.

5 – take the baby diapers and wipes too that had been provided for you. they expect you to. they are your’s.

6 – a handheld showerhead. this, is my must-have. we have one like this from bed bath and beyond or amazon.com.


i found from experience that a sitz bath can be miserable. so, we got this showerhead, and it has made recovery so much easier. plus, you can use it to “massage” your aching chest as well. sorry if that’s tmi, but believe me, it’s true.

7 – read that book. speak healing over your body. speak to every part of your womb, even after delivery. command your uterus to contract, without pain, back to its original position and size. do it in faith.

i hope you found this a little bit helpful, and if i think of anything else, i’ll be sure to let you know. i’m planning on trying a belly band this time as well, but i haven’t gotten one yet. i’ve heard good things about them, and i typically have kept a postpartum belly for 6mos+ in the past, so i’m looking forward to trying something new to help that to go away faster. i’ll let you know how it’s working for me.

if you have any advice yourself, feel free to post it in the comments! i don’t have any experience with cesarian sections or epidurals, so if you do, and think what you’ve learned would be helpful to other readers out there, please add your comments below!

now, on to feed this little sweetheart…

sjogren’s schmogren’s

this WAS me…

this IS me NOW thanks to sjogren’s

{image source: www.sjogrens.org}

{emphasis & side notes added}

Arthritis and Sjögren’s Syndrome

Sjögren’s syndrome is a chronic disorder that causes insufficient moisture production in certain glands of the body. It occurs when a person’s normally protective immune system attacks and destroys moisture-producing glands, including salivary glands and tear glands. The lungs, bowel, and other organs are also occasionally affected.

Sjögren’s syndrome is named after the Swedish eye doctor, Henrik Sjögren, who first described the condition.

Sjögren’s syndrome may cause the following symptoms:

Extremely dry eyes causing a feeling of grit or sand in the eyes or a burning redness. {what started this mess in the first place}

Extremely dry mouth and throat causing difficulty with chewing and swallowing, decreased sense of taste, difficulty speaking, an increase in dental cavities, and dry cough or hoarseness. {it stole my love of chocolate for cryin’ out loud}

Enlarged parotid salivary glands (located at the angle of jaw) and sometimes infection of these glands.

Excessive fatigue {i’ve taken enough pregnancy tests to pay for a six month supply of diapers}

Aches and pains in muscles and joints {hello! i feel like i’m 100 years old}

Less common symptoms of Sjögren’s syndrome are:

Irritation of the nerves in the arms, hands, legs, or feet (neuropathy). {my lame left arm & legs make me want to scream obscenities}

Thyroid gland abnormalities

Skin rashes {harmless, but ugly}

Memory loss or confusion. {brain fog plagues me}

Numbness or tingling. {annoying…}

Gastrointestinal problems. {thanks for taking date night away}

Inflammation of the lungs, kidneys, liver, or pancreas.

Cancer of the lymphatic tissue (lymphoma), which occurs in less than 1% of patients.

{source:webmd}

some days i just want to stay in bed & give in to feeling like poo. thankfully, my husband is pretty patient with me & helps me in the mornings. ava coming to my bedside on the bad days, reaching for my hand, & saying, “come on, mom. get up with me,” tugs on more than just my heart.

i need to reverse this thing & turn my life around. i can’t deteriorate. i have to get better, not worse. i can’t even afford to stay the same.

often, when i feel a cold coming on – i literally refuse to believe it’s there & i swear i will it away about 90% of the time. i know not everything’s mental, but a part of me thinks that if i just believe it hard enough that i’m “normal,” then i’ll start actually feeling normal.

my goals:

1 – start & keep an exercise routine that focuses mainly on stretching these joints & sore limbs…
2 – run at least once a week…
3 – cut gluten down to a minimum…
4 – “wrestle” with avey everyday…
5 – get out of my house at least twice a week (sahmer here)…
6 – fix myself up on more than just sundays (again, sahmers may be able to relate)…

maybe if i start acting fine & refusing the disease outwardly, the symptoms will go away inwardly. faith? crazy? at this point, i don’t really care…

some other friends blogging about sjogren’s…

{reasonably well}

{sjoggie stahmer}

{falling with grace}

kandoo experiment.

so as you may or may not know already – i apparently have sjogren’s (show-grins), or what i refer to in my own little head as “faux-grins,” for obvious reasons. my grins are often masking the annoying pains & craziness that have overtaken my once very happy & compliant body.

see? that girl again. kooky.

one of those annoyances is chronically dry, cracked skin – like so dry it hurts all of the time so much so that i can’t even tell when it has cracked & i’ll just happen to notice scabs & bloody knuckles at any given moment. gross, huh?
which all leads to just more hand-washing
(watching babies in my home & being a germ-o-phobe helps with that as well…sarcasm there, people)

anyway, a while back i ran out of the usual {bath & body works} soaps i stockpile throughout the year.
being the cheapo i am, i did not replenish the stash right away.

instead, i would grab some “soft soap” or “dial” whenever it was on sale for $1 at our local store.

well, about two months ago, i had a coupon for the pampers “kandoo” kids soap, so i figured why not – ava will love it…

as it turned out, mom & dad loved it too – it.smells.so.yummy.

i had it in the powder room at first (where ava does most of her pottying), but when the sink was slathered green on more than one occasion, i relocated ava’s new favorite object – aka “her” soap – to the kitchen sink.

long story shorter, dad & mom used it all.

then, b&b had a killer sale & mom stocked up on some lovely, yummy scents of her own.

but you know what i noticed later??? my hands weren’t cracked & my skin didn’t look like it had been scrubbed thoroughly with sandpaper! i even said to my husband, “look at my hands! they haven’t looked this good in a long time!”

do you think it was a coincidence?!

i don’t know, but since switching back to “the norm” – my hands are a mess again

so i’m going to conduct a “kandoo experiment.”

the next time i go to the store, which is like every day, i’m going to pick up that wonderful green stuff.

i’ll let you know how it turns out & if this stuff really can help our skin.

all you sjoggies out there – what do you think? have you found any unexpectedly helpful products?

i’d love to hear from you!

thanks for checking in…

kristi