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This is the second in my Nursing Tips series.  I am writing these to myself as a reminder for future needs I may have.  I also hope that any Mama’s reading may be able to glean a bit of help from it if they find themselves in a similar situation.  As always, these are simply my [not always right] thoughts, and none are recommendations for you.  Please seek professional help if you need!  Other posts in the series:

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Since I started this Nursing Tips series, a very dear friend of mine suffered a severe heart attack.  In an effort to team up with a few other ladies, I’ve been increasing my supply and pumping every day.  This has been a particular challenge for me because I thought I wasn’t a good pumper, and wondered if I still could since my struggles early on with Aury.  But it’s proven to be much more successful than I anticipated, and we feel blessed to be able to love on them in this way.  Meanwhile, focusing on keeping supply UP!

I’ve always said I struggle with my milk supply, but if I were to take a good hard look at our last several children, I’d realize it was only with Adyn & Kendra.  With Adyn, I was quite petite and fit, and probably didn’t eat enough calories if I’m being honest.  With Kendra, I became severely sick after her birth, and so supply issues were a given.  Since then, I’ve never had a problem.

Here are measures I’ve taken to proactively make sure supply stayed up, just in case:

When I was pregnant with Colby, we bought a pair of Dwarf Nigerian goats.  I figured their milk would be an excellent supplement if I needed the help. They never bred while we had them (but were awfully fun for our two littles to play with!), and I never needed their milk.  We’ve since moved [far, far, far] away from goats, and now keep a homestead flock of dairy ewes that keep me content with a back up in the event that our babes would need it.

When I feel like I’m running shy (or when I’m trying to build supply, like now, as I’m pumping for Max), I take a dropper full of WishGarden’s Mil Rich (there’s another brand called More Milk Plus) tincture every time I nurse.  I also drink a minimum of a quart of Mother’s Milk herbal tea per day (preferably more).  I have been having loaded oatmeal most mornings.  And I’ve taken fennel and blessed thistle, switching off which one daily to keep my body awake (instead of acclimated to them individually).  I’m boosting my calories, but making sure they’re nutrient-rich.  More nuts, cheeses, bone broth, pastured proteins, dark chocolate (ha!), and always yogurt to support my digestive system as it deals with the new onslaught of goodness.  Oh, and drink more fluids.  Don’t waste your fluid space: drink herbal tea. ❤

The quickest way I’ve gotten a boost in production is by drinking 8oz of beer.  I really have no favor toward the flavor, so for me, it’s an act of love and one I’ve only done a couple of times in my years of lactating.  But it does the trick quick-like.  Some gals say that adding a tablespoon of brewer’s yeast to their daily regime acts similarly as well.

Here is a list of things *I* do.  It is by no means comprehensive, suggested, or in any particular order.  I’d recommend you research and find a professional to walk you through your lactating journey, as needed.  Lactation consults are truly your best friend.  I’d recommend Amber Ham Langelier in a heartbeat.  She’s Aury & my breastfeeding hero.

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Boosting production

  • brewers yeast – 1 T. / day.
  • yeasty beer – 8oz makes for a quick boost (consider barley / hops if you’d prefer no alcohol)
  • fenugreek – 1 T. / day herb, or 2 droppers of extract
  • fennel – same as fenugreek
  • blessed thistle – same as fenugreek
  • Milk Rich or More Mother’s Milk tincture – 1 dropper each nursing, or every 3-4 hours; this is my quick, lazy go-to
  • Traditional Medicinals “Mothers Milk” tea; another lazy go-to when I don’t have better quality herbal tea at my leisure — I usually have a home-made version of this tea at my disposal

Supporting my body for increased production (I usually make into tea infusion)

  • nettle
  • alfalfa
  • oatstraw
  • red raspberry leaf
  • red rooibos

Things to AVOID while breastfeeding (or be wise/moderate about)

  • peppermint
  • ginger
  • coffee
  • lots of other herbs/etc, but these are my guilty pleasures that I need reminded against

After finishing this post up, I just decided to take an extra step and add another post to my Nursing Tips series that is simply a list of herbs that I (or others) like to use during lactation seasons, why I use them, etc.  Be patient – it’s coming!

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This is the second in my Nursing Tips series.  I am writing these to myself as a reminder for future needs I may have.  I also hope that any Mama’s reading may be able to glean a bit of help from it if they find themselves in a similar situation.  As always, these are simply my [not always right] thoughts, and none are recommendations for you.  Please seek professional help if you need!  Other posts in the series:

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When Aury was born, the midwife checked his mouth and said that he had both a tongue and lip tie.  If you know me, you know I balk at this ‘silly nonsense’ as trendy lunacy.  Well, not anymore.  If you remember, his poor latched caused bleeding inflamed swollen nipples within a few days of his birth, leading to infection and mastitis, and almost ten weeks of recovery.  But we prevailed!  Despite some rather bleak moments when I wasn’t sure we’d succeed at breastfeeding, I can report that we are still at it – and everything is going swimmingly at last!

On Day 6 postpartum, the first bit of relief arrived.  With an injection of local anesthetic, Aury had both his lip & tongue tie corrected.  He cried for 10 seconds.  I cried for 20 minutes.  I couldn’t even fathom doing the every-two-hour exercises to making sure things healed correctly.  Scott did it as often as he could, and Adyn did when Scott couldn’t.  After almost a week, I finally built up the courage to do it, and took over.  It wasn’t all that bad.  By then, the heebeejeebees were minimal, and Aury really didn’t have much of a problem with it, even from the beginning.

The next two nursings after the tie corrections were slightly better.

My midwife had suggested using a nipple shield to keep things better protected as they healed; and to keep pain just a little bit less.  Scott left in the late night hunting some down.  He came home with several, all the same size, but different brands.  I was surprised that they all fit very differently; one just right.  Because of the poor latch and angry nips, I was incredibly swollen (I may have referred to myself as an “amazon woman” at one point as I cried to our lactation consultant), which made for fitting a bit different during this time vs. after things settled down.  I was glad for the variety.

I’ve never used nipple shields, and it made no sense to me at first.  I did some internet searching about how they work, and how to use them, and found them to be a real psychologic buffer that made nursing much more … well, less petrifying (the pain was intense).  Because of Aury’s poor latch, I had scabbing, which plugged the shields at the beginning of each nursing.  I’d have to take them off and clean out in order to finish nursing.  Also, for several weeks due to my initial infection, my milk was very stringy – but usually passed through the shields holes.

I’ll be honest… I cried the first several (and randomly after that) times that I used the shield.  It felt like a breastfeeding loss.  I had to grieve a bit before I could accept that it would help.  I didn’t like having this “fake” nipple being what my baby learned to nurse.  I was jealous of it.  I was mad at it.  But I definitely learned to love it!  I was concerned it may become a necessity for our entire breastfeeding journey, but am thankful that with time we were able to wean away from it completely and back to al la natural.

That night, feedings became incredibly painful again.  I was so discouraged.  After midnight, I emailed a lactation consult an emergent request for help.  I really felt like I was at my wits end.  I was a huge mess.

Amber Ham Langelier, the lactation consult, arrived at 9am the next morning.  We talked about the ties. We talked about the infection and the damaged nipples.  She was calm.  She was kind.  And she found the fix: positioning.  I thought I had tried it all, and yet her simple solution was perfect.  It was the big turning point on our breastfeeding journey.  Apparently Aury had been tucking his chin while nursing, due likely to his lip and tongue ties, which was irritating my nipples and was causing the pain.  We moved away from the cradle position (she mentioned this is actually not a very good position in general) to either Aury “standing” in front, or the “football” position or both of us laying down.  In all of these positions, I could really make him stretch his chin upward and reach for the nipple, which was exactly what we needed.  Even now, months later, his natural tendency is still to tuck his chin.

I continued using the nipple shield for more than a month, longer for my damaged/infected side.  The first time I didn’t use it, I was so scared.  It took several days to wean from it entirely (mostly because I wasn’t psychologically ready).  I continued having latch-on pain in my left side until Aury was almost 10 weeks old.  The pain went deep into my tissue, all the way to my ribs.

I wasn’t sure whether or not the damage was permanent at this point.  I had some pretty intense (and deep) scabbing for a long while.  It got smaller and smaller oh so slowly until at last it all [tissue, not scab] sloughed off after a nursing.  It was disgusting.  And horrifying!  But after that, milk flowed much more freely.  I’m happy to report that I’ve successfully pumped on that side again as well – A feat I thought literally impossible after that roller coaster!

Thankfully, right around his 3 month bend, I remember one day realizing: “huh!  it hasn’t hurt for a while!”  What a blessing that the pain slipped away like that!  Now we are nursing well, things have healed back miraculously (IMO) nicely – the tissue filling back in – and our little chunk of a fellow has apparently thrived!  I chalk it up to God’s great provision.  He is in the 90% for weight, and 75% for height, weighing almost 17 pounds at his three month check up.  His older siblings weighed that at one year old!  And have never been anywhere near his height percentile.  We may have a football player on our hands.

I learned a good lesson about my mockery of tongue ties: it’s real, folks, and it can be awful.  I still think babes are diagnosed (or rather, treated) too often for it, but also realize that I need to get off my soapbox and admit I’m wrong: I need help.  I’m thankful for the gals in my life that supported me through that, and especially Mary & Pita who were able to correct it, and Amber who taught me how to form new habits out of it!  I’m especially thankful to our Creator who made all things so adaptable and unique.  I’m so thankful that my body was able to heal from that whole ordeal and for being able to nourish my wee one in this way through it all.  I count both a huge blessing and privilege!  I’ve learned I cannot expect these things ‘just because,’ but instead thank God each day for the gifts we have, day by day.

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I just wanted to provide an update, and a whole lot of notes for myself – and any other gals out there who could use this information in their own lives.  NONE of it is a recommendation to you.  Please do your research as you pursue health and wellness.  Also seek professional help, as necessary.

Other posts in the series:

Aury and I have been progressing nicely since his birth and our nursing woes.  The infection that I got early on led to some fairly long-term issues.  In fact, it’s only now (he’s 9+ weeks old) that I can honestly say nursing is going “normal.”  I’m so thankful for that!

In an effort to clean out the infection and (Lord willing) keep supply up, Aury and I were working hard at nursing as often as possible for the first several weeks.  This left us hunkered down at home most of the time.  The side effects were that nursing was still painful since I was recovering from his early poor latching, and the tissue in my infected breast had been severely damaged to the point of zero milk production by one week postpartum; yet [lots of] fluid draining (never have had this for more than a day or two).  This caused a lot of belly aches for my poor nursing babe.  We were both frustrated more than once.  But neither of us were about to give up at this point.

It literally took over 5 weeks for my milk ducts to clear, and for milk to begin to return (no more stringy-ness; no other fluids; exterior bruising gone; nip swelling diminished).  I’ve never had an infection have such long-term effects.  Only this week do I finally feel like it’s back to full production.  Despite all of this, praise God, we have a very healthy chunky monkey, and have been pleasantly surprised that there has been so little scarring.

As we carried no schedule during those weeks, it’s took a week or two to get into a good rhythm.  Aury is definitely a more happy baby with a clear cycle.  We both have really appreciated the calm we now can enjoy.  We both appreciate the freedom to leave as well, him and I both emotionally (ha!) doing outings smashingly now.

So I wanted to talk a little bit about the healing measures we took during the time of engorgement, infection and poor latch, as well as what I’ve done to work on maintaining a good supply during – and after!  I’ve decided to go at it one subject per post, so check for my others in this Nursing Tips “series” if you’re interested.  Perhaps start here to get a full view of what we were dealing with.

#treeoflife

#treeoflife

There are many techniques and recommendations to treat mastitis (breast infection), milk fever, and nipple health (poor latch, etc).  I cannot cover them all here, and do not hope to.  I want to share what worked for me, tho’, in hopes that it can offer some practical help to your own toolbox of information.  I also want to keep records for my future benefit.

I’ve had a lot of breast infections in my lactating years, and so at the onset of my first with Aury – only 3 days after he was born – I knew what was coming.  I got a flax seed bag warmed up, removed restrictive clothing, filled up a water canister and went to bed.  Unfortunately, Scott was laid out on the bathroom floor with a migraine, hugging the toilet all night long.  So Kendra slept in our bed all night, getting up and helping so much during the night.

I was delirious.  Hot.  Cold.  Sweaty.  Headache.  But we had to press on.  The sweet fresh babe would need new milk as I was also just starting to become engorged.  The combo was quite the trip.  Not realizing yet that it was a poor latch that was contributing to the infection, I went at it with my normal tricks:

Nurse as often as possible.  I realize that when you have an infection, it’s hard to want to let a baby nurse it out.  It’ll hurt like the dickens.  But it’s so important!  If your baby won’t take it, try pumping to clean out the infected duct.  Make sure that the pump, however, isn’t exacerbating the problem.  It was with Aury because of his poor latch and the damage it was inflicting on my nips, and after Day <5?>, I was pumping a shockingly scary amount of blood.  My mammaries were mad.  Aury was gassy and belly-upset (this continued into his 4th week of life, thanks to this infection).  All that to say: Stick with hand expressing and nursing if pumping is problematic.

Drink lots!  Your body needs to flush out the infection.  You also are at risk for becoming dehydrated as a breastfeeding Mama, and as your body fights infection.  Drink water if it’s easiest, or have an herbal tea nearby – always, infection or not!

Take a hot shower.  Or warm bath with epson salts!  It will help your milk let down, stimulate blood flow, soothe your body and calm your nerves.  Add some essential oils or herbs (below), if wanted.

Use compresses.  In the same light as showering, hot compressing is fantastic, as well as cold.  Some gals will use boiled cabbage leaves alone (there’s conflicting information that cabbage leaves can help diminish supply for weaning – so I avoid it) or grated raw potato.  I like to soak a cotton cloth (or nursing pad!) in an herbal tea and place over my whole chest.  I had a pot warm on the stove that I’d just dunk, squeeze a bit and repeat all day long.  When using cotton, I’d start with a layer of plastic wrap, put on the compress and top it all with a hot pad (I use a flax seed bag, but sometimes the weight of it isn’t my friend if I have an infection).  I’d use any of the herbs listed under “herbal oils” below.  Raw apple cider vinegar compressing also has been known to be helpful.  It’s cooling effect was soothing, but the smell… I just couldn’t do it for long.  Be sure to clean your nips before next nursing so babe isn’t getting anything other than your milk.

Tuck in hand warmers.  A sort of hot compress “cheat,” Scott bought a box of 10 that served an awesome help.  I was in no position to leave my house, but when I did (or if I was up and at ’em), I’d stuff one of these in my top against the infected area.  Often with a soaked nursing pad (compress).  I keep one in our diaper bag at all times just in case.

Herbal oils.  Y’all know I’m not a huge proponent of using essential oils excessively, but this was a particularly useful time that I put them to work.  I didn’t have a lot of energy to make up concoctions all day, so infused some olive oil with a few herbs and applied generously on my chest, particularly the affected areas (but away from my nipple so Aury wouldn’t be consuming any of it).  I used rosemary, sage, lavender, garlic, marshmallow, calendula and comfrey.  Nearly all of these herbs would do well for you/Mama in tincture or tea (internal) form as well except those noted.  I’d use comfrey internally with caution, at best.

Massage.  This is one of the first things I do if I feel an infection coming on.  That, heat and rest.  I massage the affected area in a circular motion as often as I think of it.  It will help work out your ducts.  This was a good time for me to use the infused oils (above).

REST.  I know, I know.  You have a baby (and possibly a passel of children besides that).  Responsibilities loom.  But it is SO important that you rest.  Now is one of those times that you should plug in a movie (or twelve in a row) and let the kids chill as you do.  Give you nips a rest, too.  When not in a compress, leave them exposed as much as possible.  No bra or restrictive clothes.  No shirt.  Fresh air.

Coconut oil. I adore lanolin.  I’ve used it on my nips (and lips!) for a decade and a half now.  I love how thick it is, and how healing it is.  BUT I had to let it go when I had this rough time with Aury.  It’s tackiness was not helpful.  It caused me to stick to my nursing pads (tearing off scabs from poor latch – shiver), and also is so thick that it doesn’t allow your nipple to breathe.  I switched to coconut oil and instantly noticed improvement – and it was sooo soothing – and good for the little man nursing, too!  Once things are under control with nursing, I suspect I’ll go back to lanolin just because I adore it.

Antibiotics.  I use propolis because it has a lot of antibiotic properties.  I sprayed (YEE-ouch!) a tincture straight onto my tips right after each nursing session when I had cracking, preventing further infection, and hopefully getting into my ducts to work some magic.  If natural remedies aren’t working, your doctor will recommend antibiotics.  I’ve resorted to this once early on in my mastitis years when I didn’t know how to work on it myself and it got way out of hand.

To help your body fight the infection, consider boosting your Vitamin C, echinacea, and probiotics.  You’ll want to boost your immune system as it fights and to prevent further infections.

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With only one cycle after our November miscarriage, we are pregnant again!  We are (obviously) ecstatic.  Scott has been specifically desiring a hundred more children especially since his hospital experience, and I’d happily accept that many more, so we’ve been quite hopeful for a while now.  Life is short.  Children are a blessing.  I love being pregnant.  Life is a true miracle, indescribable by anything but God’s awesomeness.

Because of our recent miscarriage, some advised us to keep our news on the down low until the risk of another miscarriage has passed, closer to 12 weeks gestation.  Well, we’re not good at secrets, and would assume error on the side of too much exposing more often than not.  Y’all have prayed us through our loss, and have prayed for us to be so blessed to become pregnant again, so of course we’d share.  No matter if it all goes jolly or tough.

The first one to find out was a girlfriend that had meticulously followed my cycles with me as I had never previously charted (etc) until last fall.  If this is too much intimate detail for you, well, you better duck out of my blog completely.  It was as close to “fertility treatment” that I felt comfortable with persuing (for now anyway).  I had set up an app on my iThing thanks to her suggestion, but didn’t really need it.  She reminded me and asked me if we were on the ball *nudge* when the timing was ripe (apparently my cycle was on her iThing, too).  She’s a hoot.  Frankly, it was awesome to have her.  I sent her the first faint second line I got, a wee unsure, but a lot more sure than I was last time. 

  The line has just kept getting darker.  Why yes, of course I have tested more than once.  What else am I going to do with a cupboard full of cheap sticks?!

We wanted to have a little fun sharing the news (remember last time we sent the kids on a scavenger hunt that led to a wee drawing on my belly).  This time we shared like this:

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this was addressed to daddy.

Telling the kids: During an evening movie, Scott made popcorn in the kitchen.  We used paper bowls and filled one extra, each with someone’s name on the underside.  Colby handed them out one by one, enjoying the fun of having to give specific bowls to specific family members (we usually just share barbarian style out of a single bowl… wait… do barbarians use bowls?!), then was stumped on the last.  The one with an under score and question mark.  Kendra’s eyes got brighter.  Adyn belly laughed with excitement.  Colby just didn’t get it.  Until that moment.  ❤

I can't take credit for this.

I can’t take credit for this card. I found it online.  This one went to 2 of our classy-humored loves.

For one group of friends in particular, we sent a “Private Invite Only: TONIGHT” message out.  We promised ice cream and games.  Almost everyone rsvp’d yes quite quickly.  I mean, who can resist ICE CREAM!?  We started the evening out with a game of Fish Bowl, a new favorite that cousins had taught us over Christmastime vacation.  If you haven’t played it, you really should.  It’s great in a group, and great for your brain.  I’ll go into detail how to play here.  Skip past if you already know.

How To Play Fish Bowl: Everyone takes a couple of pieces of paper and writes something – anything – on it, and tosses it into a collective bowl.  Once everyone has put theirs in the bowl, two teams are formed (every other person), and someone starts by trying to get their team to guess the words on a single paper from the bowl by only using words (no gestures), so long as they are NOT the words on the paper.  They have 45 seconds to get as many correct answers from their teammates as possible.  At the end of their time, they count up their score (scorekeeper marks it down), and move the bowl to the left.  And so on, until there are no paper slips left.  Then, all of the papers go back into the bowl, are mixed up, and the play starts off where it ended.  The Second Round is that you can ONLY use gestures (NO words) to get your teammates to guess as many papers as possible, now with a time of 60 seconds.  The Third Round, once all papers have been guessed, scores have been recorded, and all have been mixed back into the bowl, is a hard round: the one sharing clues can only give ONE WORD to get their teammate to guess what’s on the paper/s for a total of 45 seconds per player turn.  No gestures.  No other words.  No props.  It sounds impossible, but by now there are usually some quirky things about each paper that people have put memories to.  You’ll be surprised.

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As you can guess, we snuck a paper in that said “we’re expecting”.  The first round was fast and furious, and people were stressed to get answers from their teammates.  There were many random & silly things written down.  So ours came and went with no real “ah ha”.  When the game went into the Second Round, Scott slipped another in that said: “Summers pregnant,” hoping to catch someone a little better.  Remember, this is the round that people can only act/gesture, no using words.  It was rather amusing.  And really fun to give someone else the chance to share the good news all the while being surprised and excited to hear it themselves for the first time.  We all laughed and went on to enjoy the rest of the evening of deliciousness and play.

And lastly (other than the fun phone calls and video chatting, dinner with close friends, etc), Kendra has learned how to do wood/lino carving for block printing in her art class, and so we sketched out and chiseled this fine looking acorn and printed cards with it to send to loved ones to share our announcement, also making a digital copy for sharing online.  We bought fabric paint to make this babes blanket with an acorn pattern from the block print as well.

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This picture below was taken over Christmastime and is only a small portion of our family.  All a bit nutty, but some of the best people I know.  I’m so thankful to call them mine!  I’m thankful, too, for my God-fearing heritage, and pray regularly for these and future generations to continue the legacy and multiply in this area.

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All silly aside, we have never really “tried” to become pregnant before.  This last 21 months – with a recent miscarriage – has been … I don’t want to say discouraging (it’d be teetering on lying).  But definitely has allowed us the opportunity to rest (dwell) more fully in giving our lives to God, once again, and to truly live in contentedness and peace – and thankfulness! – for the life we have, and the children we are so blessed with.  We have prayed often that we have more babies.  We have others close to us praying the same.  But more than praying for a baby, we all have prayed it be God’s will, if we are so blessed.

We prayed for this child and He granted us our request. 1 Sam. 1:27

This will be our second rainbow baby.  What a fitting term for a life after a loss.  What a beautiful reminder of God’s goodness and graciousness.  His faithfulness and mercy.

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The main reason I’m writing this blog is to be a reminder to myself.  Not only for if I have a miscarriage again, but so that I know better how to serve others who go through the same.  I don’t want to sweep any of this under the rug.  I want to be able to support the gals in my life in the best possible way.

What I’ve learned from miscarriage:

One loses their marbles.  The week after this miscarriage, it hit like a freight train.  I was in a dense fog.  I wasn’t all-consumed with darkness (in fact, I was very thankful for many things during these days, including bits and pieces of the miscarriage itself), but was in a heavy, messy fog.  I had no idea I could fall in love with someone I’d never met so quickly, and feel the loss so deeply.  I knew in my head – and shared out loud – that the majority of my mental chaos was hormones shifting.  I never doubted God’s goodness.  But I guess I never see this mess play out so much after other births when we have the joy of holding our newborn on the other side, consuming our ever moment and thought.

It’s a birth of a child.  We shower new mom’s with food, gifts and love.  Doula’s and midwives visit for days or even weeks after birth.  We set up meal plans.  We borrow older children to give parents a reprieve.  If someone miscarries, it usually stops at “I’m sorry” and awkward avoiding of eye contact for a while… Until you know they’re “okay” (whew!).  It’s not the fault of others how they respond.  It’s hard to know what’s needed.  I’m guessing every family needs something different, too, which doesn’t make it any easier.  But I know this: I couldn’t think about many basic things, specifically noted here: food.  Meals would have been a huge blessing.  I’d have asked, but wasn’t aware enough at the time ’til it was awkwardly late in the game.  I definitely didn’t want to talk (or not talk).  I’d have just bawled.  Honestly, I probably would have made you a little uncomfortable no matter what.  Life (and death) is uncomfortable sometimes.

Healing takes time.  We all know that emotional and mental healing takes time, and with a myriad of techniques – so I’m not even going to touch it beyond sharing that God is the ultimate Healer, and walks alongside us and holds us as we walk through murky times.

That aside, a woman who’s given birth, whether to a wee one or a big one, is depleted of many nutrients.

Having a miscarriage seems so… (more…)

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A girlfriend posted this article the other day, sharing how painful it is to receive questions like: “Why don’t you have kids?”  Infertility is an ugly thing.  One that can devastate and discourage.  One that isn’t talked about much, and is rather swept under the rug.

I think the overall flavor was “just because we don’t have kids doesn’t mean our hearts don’t break on a regular basis from it.” (equally, it might be a choice for some).  Here’s what I gathered: be kind, sensitive, loving.  Know that things aren’t always as they appear.  Know that fertility & infertility are very deep, very real – often painful and scary and awesome and crazy – seasons of life.  I read it and loved the article.  I disagreed with one part: it’s NOT a private issue (sort of).  And here’s why:

I momentarily conned myself into thinking this [miscarriage] was a private matter just because no one knew.  It’s not.  No more than the birth of a healthy, fully-ripe baby would be.  No more than the death of a fully-formed family member of any age.  If I am going to stand behind life beginning at conception, then I should stand behind honestly sharing the wonderful and devastating news that another Steenbarger went to be with Jesus.  Please pray for us as we muddle through this emotionally.  Mostly, for tender, receptive, changing hearts always.

There IS a private piece to this (in/fertility).  This season (puberty through menopause) is one of the most emotionally vulnerable of a persons life, I suspect.  Whether you have 0 or 10 (people still ask: “When’s another coming?” “Your baby sure is getting old… <hint, hint>”).  There are moments in life that are more tender than others.  More intense.  More fragile.  Not everyone is invited into the secret moments, thoughts or places.  But I can’t find usually that line.  I can’t buy into it all.  I’d generally rather err on the side of sharing.  It’s who I am.  We’re not meant to live this life alone.

And so I share.  We were/are sad.  I lost my mind for a minute or two (shared here intimately).  But I never lost the truth.  And we couldn’t help but be encouraged.  What better way to contribute to a kingdom of forever?!  We are thankful for our earthly losses and voids, even when it hurts.  We would welcome more happily, but are content to be fully living in His Will in this area.  Meanwhile, we embrace others’ children as our own.  Because, after all, we are a family.

It all makes me uber thankful for my “red tent” of ladies that walk with me in ALL of the colors of all of the seasons of my life.  We are blessed.

... our inner self is being renewed day by day. 2 Cor. 4:16

… our inner self is being renewed day by day. 2 Cor. 4:16

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Many celebrate a boys entrance into manhood as they reach an age of expected responsibility. We’ve had the priveledge of walking alongside Adyn as he’s passing away from childhood things into manhood. We’ve celebrated it by intentionally giving him opportunity and focused resources, including him on adult decisions, as appropriate. Other parents have a ceremony of sorts, by intensive retreat or by inviting wise council to advise over an evening gathering.

For our daughters, though, America has all but shifted away from a coming-of-age celebration. If anything, young ladies (and men) are lucky if they get the birds and bees conversation at all. And are often left to figure out their cycles and hormonal shifts on their own.  Perhaps with a helpful box of product in the top drawer of the bathroom.  It’s all so hush hush.  Awkward and embarrassing.  It leads down a slippery slope of mystery and exploration.

Why does this time of change have to be complicated or confusing?  It doesn’t.

We believe that God designed the human body to be incredibly intricate, always purposeful.  With a shift in hormones and body changes comes an awesome shift in intent. A young girls body goes from one of girlhood ease to a blossoming flower of fertility.  For boys, to manly strength and productivity (and, too, fertility).  Sure, in our culture this will go essentially unused for a while, but there is a great joy and expectancy and honor that comes with this experience.

We aren’t normal. (more…)

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