The Heart Behind our Parenting Opinions – and Why It Matters

Today, with social media, it’s not uncommon to know another parent’s opinions but to know nothing of the heart behind it.  We read about other moms’ passions as we scroll past on our Facebook newsfeed, but the disconnection from her heart and her story makes her passions easy to dismiss and even easier to judge.

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Every parent has an area of passion when it comes to parenting; a mountain they are willing to die on, so to speak.

For some, it may be car seat safety.  For others, it could be limiting screen time.  Perhaps a friend of yours is adamant their children remain gluten-free, and maybe your neighbour down the way is equally as adamant that kids never climb slides.

Being a parent is very different today than it was 30 years ago when our parents were raising us; it’s not because they had less concerns, but because they didn’t have social media.  In those days, the only way you knew another mom’s opinions about parenting, was because she was someone who was present in your world; she was someone who you had over for coffee, or met through church, or had children at the same school as yours.  You heard her thoughts and ideas directly from her, and they were directly connected to her heart and her past experiences.   You knew and understood her and her experiences alongside knowing the parenting mountains she would die on.

Today, with social media, it’s not uncommon to know another parent’s opinions but to know nothing of the heart behind it.  Which, I believe, is why it’s so easy to get into the judgement game.  We all do it.

For example:  The thing I am probably the most passionate about when it comes to my parenting is what I am putting in my kids’ bodies.  Anyone who is friends with me on social media will know that I somewhat regularly share about current findings about what is good for our bodies and what isn’t, and I’m not a believer in conventional medicine.  But what you don’t know when you see my posts is the WHY behind my passion.

A few years ago, shortly after weaning my youngest child (she’s now 4), I had a major health crash.  I all of a sudden was hit with insane insomnia (and I never struggle with sleep), I had no appetite and lost weight, and just felt off.  The doctor shrugged and said I must have postpartum depression, because he couldn’t explain why an otherwise-healthy woman in child-bearing years would be experiencing these symptoms.  I told him I didn’t feel depressed or down, except maybe being concerned about why I was feeling this way.  I felt like this for a few months before seeking out some alternative health advice.  I was told I had a hormonal imbalance (they weren’t balancing themselves out after weaning) as well as lots of gut inflammation.  Long story short, I changed my diet (removed processed foods, decreased my gluten/dairy/sugar intake, and ate more whole foods), and felt great 6 months after the “crash”.  I’ve experienced first hand how food played a major role in both the cause of the terrible feeling, as well as the healing and recovery.  That’s a big reason I’m so passionate about what goes into our bodies.

Another “why” to my passion for healthy eating, is because shortly after my episode of not feeling well, we started noticing some strange behaviour in our one son.  He couldn’t walk more than a block without crying that his legs hurt.  He had no energy, was often grumpy, started developing allergies, and was completely insane if he had sugar.  I sought out medical advice just to cover my bases, but again – they had nothing to say about it.  This kid would have ended up on Ritalin if we had continued with that route.  Instead, we knew that outward symptoms are just a sign of inward issues.  And sure enough, with some help of a naturopath and some diet changes, we saw HUGE changes.  Other people saw the changes, too.  He started having energy.  He was calmer and happier.  He stopped wetting the bed.  His eyes were bright again.  All changes that came when we started taking crap out of his diet, and putting good stuff in.  His behaviour can still be affected by sugar and dyes, so we limit those as much as we can (but also let him be a kid as much as we can).  Anyone who has seen their child act like a drunken, angry fool simply because of what was put in his body has to start questioning if those things should be going into any of our bodies.  I sure did, anyways.

On the outside, maybe all you see is a health-obsessed mom who doesn’t know how to let her kids have some fun.  Maybe you roll your eyes because I don’t let my kids have Halloween candy, and you think I’m controlling.  Or maybe you think I’m ill-advised and jump on whatever health bandwagon comes my way.  It’s okay, you probably didn’t know my story.  Because we usually don’t, and so instead we judge.  We didn’t hear the story from our fellow mom as we sat on the park bench while our kids played; we read it as we scrolled past on our Facebook newsfeed, and the disconnection from another mom’s story makes her passions easy to dismiss and even easier to judge.

So here’s the thing I want to remember:  That mom that’s obsessed with car seat safety? Maybe she was in a car accident as a teenager.  That neighbour who never lets her kids watch movies? Maybe her only childhood memory of her mom is the back of her head while she watched daytime television all day.  That friend who won’t let her 10 year-old walk to the park alone?  Maybe she was sexually abused by her friend’s older brother under a playground structure when she was a child.  That mom from school who won’t let her kid touch food that’s not organic?  Maybe her dad died from a brain tumour and she can’t stand the thought of putting chemicals in her kids’ bodies.

And also, I want to be okay to own the reasons why my passions are what they are, but understand they don’t need to be other peoples’ passions.  I might be really adamant about limiting sugar, but you don’t need to be.  You might be really into keeping your child rear-facing until they’re 3, but I don’t need to be.

So even when I don’t hear the stories behind the passion, even if I might never know the “why” that drives it, I really want to learn to give grace.  I want live with the assumption that we all have reasons/experiences/beliefs that drive us to make the decisions we do as parents. And those things aren’t wrong, they’re just different.  I want to give more of this grace, and I’d like to receive it, too.  (But I’m pretty sure I know which of those needs to come first. 🙂 )

So what is your parenting “mountain” that maybe no one else understands?  And what is your “why”?

 

Josie’s birth story

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Although sweet Josephine is already 9 (nine?!) months old, I really wanted to share her birth story with you.

My previous experiences with birth were not awesome.  I remember being terrified, in a lot of pain, not being able to cope, and ending up with epidurals, vacuums, stitches, and really painful recoveries.  Not to mention the horrible symptoms of pregnancy that preceded all of that.  It had not been a lot of fun, and they were not the kind of experiences that had me beating down the door to sign up again.

The year before we ended up getting pregnant with Josie, I had started thinking that maybe birth didn’t have to be so awful.  I remember at Christmas time, hearing a song on the radio about how Mary would have toiled and been in pain giving birth to Jesus.  Right away inside of me, and I believe I even said it out loud without even hesitating, I thought “Yeah right!”  I just didn’t believe that Mary would have been in excruciating pain and having an awful time giving birth to the Savior of the world that would eventually redeem her.

Think about it.  She rode on a camel while she was 9 months pregnant.  She gave birth with no medical staff and only her husband there (that’s a WHOLE  other ball of wax right there!) and in a barn, to boot.  I remember always thinking that Mary must have had a special grace given to her because she was carrying and birthing the Son of God.  It just didn’t seem right to me that Jesus, who healed all that he came in contact with and who walked in the utmost peace and love and mercy, would have come into the world amidst screaming and terrorizing pain.  I imagined a completely peaceful, safe, JOYFUL birth.

But then I got to thinking, couldn’t that happen for me too?  If God could do that for Mary, couldn’t He do it for me?  I remember looking in the Bible at the part where the curse came on Adam and Eve, because that is where we get our idea of birth being painful.  It’s interesting to me that the part of the curse was specified for how it would affect males and females differently: Adam was told he would have to toil to provide for his family, and Eve was told that her pain in pregnancy and childbirth would be increased.  BUT, Paul tells us in Galatians 3:13 that “Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law”.  So was it possible that the curse over women had been redeemed by Jesus’ death on the cross?  I believed it was, but had never heard anyone talk about it before.  It rang in my spirit as such truth, and I was confused as to why we weren’t hearing about this more.  Pain-free child-birth?!  Hello!  Sign me up!

Not long after those thoughts started going through me, I happened to see a book entitled “Supernatural Childbirth” on a friend’s bookshelf.  This woman is an amazing woman of faith, and someone I respect and admire a great deal, and I was so excited to see how God had used her to bring this book into my path.  And at such a time.  I asked about it, and decided to just order a copy for myself, knowing it would be one I would come to often.

It arrived a short while later, and as I enjoyed a nice quiet bath one evening, read the book from cover to cover.  All of the thoughts and feelings I had been having about birth were all confirmed in this short book.  The promises of God regarding pregnancy and childbirth were that they didn’t have to be awful.  I didn’t have to suffer.  I could feel good in pregnancy.  I could give birth peacefully and without pain and toil.  Could it really be so?

I excitedly shared all I had read and learned with Kris, who instantly agreed with me.  We read the book together, and we were in full agreement that it could really be like that.  The only hitch was that we hadn’t really been talking about having a third child.  I remember thinking, as I was reading, that even though we hadn’t really talked about having more kids, that I’d really like to try it all again, just to have a different experience than I’d had before.

As fate would have it (and obviously fate = God!), we ended up getting pregnant that following summer.  I was excited to see how this time around, things would be different.

And they were.  Oh, how different they were!

I did deal with some nausea in the first couple of months, but I knew all along that it was just the enemy trying to convince me early on that I couldn’t have what God had promised.  I pressed on, and kept believing that I had been redeemed from all the crappy parts of pregnancy.  It subsided, and I felt like a million dollars after that.  I had energy, I felt great, I wasn’t sore, I slept like a baby!  I worked out all the way through my pregnancy.  It was amazing.  I can’t even begin to tell you how different it was from my previous experiences.  You really might not believe me anyways.  🙂

Kris and I had a list of things that we were believing for regarding the birth of our little girl. Ephesians 3:20 states, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us”.  What a promise that God wants us to think and ask, and then on top of it, He wants to do even more!  We also stood on the truth of James 4:2 that states that we do not have the things we desire because we do not ask.  So we decided to ask!

So here are some of the things we believed for:  We believed that the day she was to be born, that I would wake up, go into labour, and be done within a few hours.  We had missed whole nights of sleep before our boys were born, and we just didn’t want to do it that way again.  We would be well-rested this time!  We believed I would not be in pain, and that the birth would be quick and easy.  We also believed that although I would not in pain, that I would still have contractions and would therefore actually know I was in labour.  We believed I would be and stay in perfect peace, knowing that fear can create pain, and knowing that God’s perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).  We believed that we would get to the hospital in time and that the right staff would be there.  We believed I would not need stitches and that my recovery would be quick and easy.  We believed I would not go overdue and need to be induced, but that I would also not have her early and that she would be full-term and healthy.

April 7, a Sunday, I had a great long nap in the afternoon.  I woke up, and had an urge to clean the house.  The boys were all playing outside, so I pumped up some great tunes and got to it.  Kris came in, surprised to see me in all my cleaning glory, dancing away and cleaning my little heart out.  Cleaning quickly turned into a dance party, and we had a blast. Oh, and we played swords:

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We both figured that this little one’s birth must be imminent!

That night, I woke early in the morning to the feeling of just need to have a good bowel movement.  I was only slightly crampy feeling, but definitely not uncomfortable.  After using the bathroom and figuring today would be the day, I went back to bed.  I didn’t even bother waking Kris and telling him, as I knew he would wake up and then likely not go back to sleep.  I feel asleep and slept until 7am, when our household usually gets up for the day.

I figured I was probably in labour, and so I hopped in the shower right away.  I was going to look decent if I was meeting my daughter today!  As I was showering, I kept having pain-less contractions.  They were just tightenings of my uterus, just like Braxton-Hicks contractions.  Though they were not painful, they were strong and regular, and I knew labour had begun.  I got out of the shower and texted Kris (we have a two-storey and I didn’t want to run downstairs in my skivvies), asking him to bring me a cup of coffee while I did my hair and make-up.  Then I texted again, telling him he should probably call our friends to come get the boys as it was time to go to the hospital once I was ready.  He didn’t reply, and was at the door of the bathroom in about 1.7 seconds.  He looked at me while I stood there calmly straightening my hair, “really?!”  Yes, really!  I told him that the contractions were strong and regular.  It was go time!

As a side story, our little rural hospital had called us the Friday before (it was Monday now), telling us that our doctor would not be in until after Tuesday.  If we were to go into labour, they told us we would have to go elsewhere.  I was immediately devastated, and then happened to look up to see what I had written on our scripture chalkboard just a few days before:

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Oh right, that!  I decided I would not fear, and it was in God’s hands.  It wouldn’t matter where I delivered, He would keep me safe.

So when I went into labour, Kris said, “you know what?  I’m just going to call out to Daysland and see if we can go there.  You never know.”  So he called, and the head unit nurse told him to absolutely head out!  Our doctor was back and able to deliver our baby.  Thank you God!

The nurse wanted to talk to me to assess where I was at, and when I couldn’t really tell her how far apart my contractions were, and I was chatting away just fine without the need to breathe through contractions, I don’t think she thought too much of it.  She said, “well, why don’t you just come out and we can at least see where you’re at”.  Ha!

So after getting a few things arranged, and waiting for our friends to arrive, we left.  It was about 830, and we had a 1/2 hour drive out to the hospital.  I popped in my Scripture music, and told Kris I just needed to listen to my music and not talk.  It was the most glorious, sunny morning.  I sat and listened to my beautiful music (“Hidden in my Heart” – highly recommended!), while my uterus painlessly contracted away.  At one point I looked over at the speedometer, and was about to give Kris a little heck for not driving faster.  I knew labour was humming along, and he was going a conservative 115!  I decided against it, though, as I knew I just needed to stay in my peaceful state, and let God look after that.  I couldn’t believe that I was able to just sit there upright, totally at peace, while my contractions were coming about 3-4 minutes apart.  I remember thinking, “This is really happening like we believed it would!”

We arrived at the hospital, and the nurse I had talked with on the phone met me.  I smiled and chatted away with them, and they took their time getting me into the delivery room and doing all of my charting.  After about 20 minutes, I was just about to say, “I really, really think you need to check me”, when the nurse said she’d grab the doctor to check me before he headed out.  He did his check, and then said there was only a lip.  I interpreted that as meaning I was only dilated a fingertip, and thought, “crumby!”  I thought I was further along then that.  I asked what that meant, and he said, “you’re 9cm dilated!  There is only a small lip of your cervix left!”  Praise God!  Everyone was shocked and started running around the room getting everything ready.  I was incredulous, even though it was all happening just as we had believed it would.

Below is a photo of me (my last pregnant photo!), smiling while in the transition phase of labour.  (I had an IV for antibiotics for Group B Strep, though in hindsight I wish I would have refused.  I really wasn’t worried about it and they didn’t have time for the full dose anyways.)

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Josephine Sarah was born at 11:16am, just 2 hours after arriving at the hospital.  It would have been much, much sooner had my water broke earlier, but it didn’t matter.  I had spent that time in peace, and it certainly was not horrible as I had remembered labour to be!  I did experience some pain for the last hour, but it was minimal and completely manageable.  By the time it came to push, it all happened very quickly.  The head nurse (who was an obstetrics nurse for 20 years – the perfect staff we had prayed for!) was the one who delivered Josie, since the doctors only made it partway through the pushing!  I pushed only for about 3-5 minutes, and just a few good pushes got her out.  And that part didn’t hurt AT ALL.  I can’t really fully explain it, but it felt amazing to push.  I could feel her as she emerged from my body, pain-free.  It was absolutely amazing.  I did not need any stitches, and my placenta delivered quickly and easily, and the doctor even commented on how much better it had gone than usual.

We were amazed, and the medical staff were amazed.  At one point earlier on in the labour, a new nurse came in and said, “so this is the mom who came in 9cm dilated, smiling and chatting away?  Amazing!”  It was so, so neat and such a testimony of how good our God is.

It was such an awesome journey of faith and believing God.  Josie had been born in the exact timeframe we had believed for, with little to no pain, no stitches, and even the size we had asked for.  (Jack was a 9 1/2 lb baby, and though he was perfect and beautiful, we wanted a baby around 7 1/2 lbs.  Josie was 7 lbs. 11 ozs.)  She wasn’t early and she wasn’t late.  Her due dates were April 6 and 9, and she was born on the 8th.  God is so good!

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She was perfect and healthy, which was the most important thing to us at the end of the day.  And she was, in fact, a SHE!  We were thrilled.  What a perfect addition to our family.

An extra little God-thing, was that we found a knot in the umbilical cord after Josie was born.  I wish we had taken a photo of it.  The doctor showed it to us – it was perfect little knot.  I didn’t know this at the time, but have since heard of multiple babies that were stillborn due to this complication.  The knot inhibits nutrients to get to the baby, and they eventually pass away.  I didn’t even know that could happen, and I am just so, so thankful that my little girl was not affected in the least by the knot.  Wow.

After the birth, I did experience some above-normal bleeding, as some of my placenta had retained.  Though the staff were a bit concerned, and it was a less-than-ideal situation, God was really my rock through that stuff.  I always felt as though my Dad were literally sitting in the chair next to me, holding my hand and telling me it was all okay.  I don’t think I ever felt as close to him as I did then.  And in hindsight, I would have included some post-birth details in our “believing for” list.

Knowing that some tissue had remained and that was what was causing the hemorrhage, we told my body to rid itself of that extra tissue, and shortly after that the piece of placenta removed itself.  (If you’ve ever read “Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth”, she even makes reference about telling women’s bodies to stop bleeding, and they do.  Funny!)  The doctor had mentioned a possible D&C (a surgical scraping of the uterus), or even a transfusion, but no more placenta remained and even though I lost a fair amount of blood, my levels never required me to have a transfusion.  God was so faithful in that part too.  The staff were constantly checking on me and asking if I was dizzy or had headaches, but I felt amazing even though I had lost a lot of blood.  I was a little tired, but didn’t feel as bad as they were expecting me too.  I had a check-up a week after Josie was born, and my iron levels were a decimal point below normal.  Even that part was supernatural.  I felt much, much better than I should have!

Nine months later, I am still sometimes in awe of how it all went down.  I am still praising Jesus for what he did for me during those 9 months and in that delivery room.  I am so thankful that he took the curse for me on the cross, so that I didn’t have to have a horrible time giving birth to my daughter.  I often wish I had had that revelation when my boys were born, but the cool thing about it is that my experiences with them really set me up to want something different.  Those experiences allowed me to put myself in a position to receive and believe God for something better.  Because that’s all He really requires of us – to believe and to receive.

I am so thankful for the gift I have in each of my children.  They are such a blessing to me.  And I am so thankful for my experience with Josie, and I am excited and passionate about sharing my story with other women, so they can experience freedom from fear and pain in pregnancy and childbirth too.  It can happen, because it happened for me.