Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey


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How Many Children Should We Have? Part 2

{Read Part 1 here.}

Here’s the thing.

Biblically, I know that we live in a broken world.

I believe that in a perfect world, every person would be able to fully care for as many children as they could biologically produce.

In a perfect world there would be no pain or sickness, no conditions that require intense times of special care (of children or parents), unlimited energy, time, emotional resources, finances, mental resources, food, and help.

But we don’t live in a perfect world.  Sin and Satan have conspired to break everything good.

In light of the fact that God does not condemn birth control, and that we live in a broken world where sometimes people are too sick or exhausted or poor to care for another child, I still don’t believe it’s an easy decision.

To me, it’s choosing the better of two bad options, the only options given us on this sin-shattered planet.

One is to disallow the life of another human being in order to steward the resources God has provided us for those children He’s already given.

The other is to have more children, realizing that it may be difficult to adequately care for them (financially, emotionally, or in some other way).

Yet I have to know that God sees our hearts, and that we can be blameless if our hearts are right before Him.  Do we seek Him?  Do we have His heart toward children?  Do we view them as a blessing or a curse (both those we have and those we might conceive)?  Do we have children, or not, according to His directive?  Are we willing to do whatever He asks us to do, whether it’s to have more children or not?

These are questions and thoughts I struggle with.  I wish there were an easy answer, a solution at the snap of our fingers.  But there’s not.  It comes back to our relationship with the Author of life.

And seeking God brings peace.  Following Him brings peace.  Obedience brings peace.

In peace, we can rest.

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

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Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, this fall!


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How Many Children Should We Have? Part 1

I don’t have a Mentor Monday post today.  Instead, I’m going to share about a topic I have wrestled with for many years, and the fruit of those years of study, thought, and prayer.

“Should we have another baby?” 

Over the years, I’ve had a lot of conversations with other women about family size.  It’s a decision that is supposed to be easy to make in our culture, but usually it’s not.  When my friends share their hearts about this topic, I so appreciate their transparency and boy can I identify.

I grew up in a large family and loved it.  I have always wanted a large family.  And now I have one.  No regrets.

I know some Christians don’t struggle with the idea of family size at all.  They view it as a decision for them to make, they make it, and they don’t think twice about it.

Then there are those on the other end of the spectrum, like the Duggar family, who don’t believe in limiting family size at all.

I believe the Biblical view falls somewhere in the middle.

I believe what God says when He tells us that children are an unqualified blessing.

Any child conceived is an eternal soul, made in the image of God.  I think we forget this sometimes in our cavalier attitude toward not having them.

I don’t believe that it’s ever a mistake to have another child.  Children are not a mistake.  They are precious to God and should be to us also.

I realize that, according to Jeremiah, God knows our children BEFORE they are conceived.  I have always had a great fear (respectful fear, not terror) of not having a child God has planned for me.

Our desire should be to have God’s heart toward children—He views them as a blessing, a reward, a gift, He loves them and He calls children to come to Him.

The Bible doesn’t address the issue of birth control at all.  And yes, it existed in Bible times, albeit not in the sophisticated forms we have today.  Scriptures used by “quiverfull” advocates are twisted and pulled out of context, proof-texts turned around to support their view.  God does not forbid limiting family size.

I respect the decision of any couple to have as many children as they desire, including the decision to forego all ways to limit or space children.  I believe that if God leads a family in this way, He will also provide for them sufficiently.

I believe that if a couple chooses to limit their family size, they should choose a way of doing so that does not threaten the life of a child they might inadvertently conceive.  Some common methods of birth control are potentially abortifacent.

I know that a lot of people claim that they can’t afford more children when in reality they don’t want to do without luxuries.

I have talked to many, many older people who wish they had had more children.

I have never talked to a parent of many who regrets any of the children they have.

I believe that most people pray more about whether to get married, change jobs, move, or buy a new puppy than about whether to conceive another child, another eternal soul made in God’s image.

But there’s a caveat.

{Read Part 2 here}

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Please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!

*********

Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, this fall!

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Linking to Better Mom Monday

A Pause on the Path

Deep Roots at Home

New Life Steward

*For those who have linkies in which I participated this morning…I am having difficulty linking back.  Please be patient, I do want to link to you!*


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Welcome to Reviving Motherhood!

The MOB Society, a great blog for mothers of boys, is hosting their second annual boy mom blog hop, and this year I am participating.

So MOB Society readers, welcome to Reviving Motherhood!

I’m Stephanie.  I have two sons—9 and 1 ½ (and three daughters too.)

I’m joyfully married, and I’m a homeschool grad who now homeschools my own 5.

I LOVE to learn from wise older women who have successfully raised great kids, and to pass that knowledge on to others.  I want to be just like them when I grow up!  I just started Mentor Mondays on my blog, where I publish guest posts and quotes from godly older women we younger ladies can learn from.

You might enjoy this week’s Mentor Mondays post, 4 Ways to Raise Your Children With Honesty and Good Communication, by my friend Debbie Wilson from Marriage Matters Now. 

Debbie says this: “The most influential person in your child’s life is the parent of the opposite sex.”  Read the whole post for her wise words about raising kids!

Another passion is fearless mothering.  It can feel like there are so many things for moms to fear!  As a young mom, God helped me to overcome persistent, crippling fear and learn to walk in faith and freedom.

In fact, I’m now writing an e-book about fearless mothering (especially appropriate for those of us with wild and crazy boys, yes?) that should be available for purchase this fall.  I’ll be giving away lots of copies, so watch this space!  Feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter to get updates.

The theme of this year’s blog hop is games. My boys’ favorite games differ because of their age differences.  I have found that old-fashioned fun still trumps everything else.  My older one loves sports and whooping me at checkers, and the baby loves balls, blocks, and music.

I’m so proud of my sons, and I love being a boy mom, as well as a girl mom.

New here?  Here are a few more links to get you started.

For pregnant moms and moms of babies, check out what I’ve written on babies and birth.  These categories include posts about preparing for birth, breastfeeding, nurturing your tiny ones, and my favorite baby products.

Thinking about homeschooling?  Start here.

I bet I am not the only mom who has food sensitivities in the house.  Here’s a favorite summer recipe for dairy free ice cream.

Thanks for visiting, friends!  Please come back and see me again!

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Again, please feel free to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter!  I would be thrilled!


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Advice I’m Glad I Took as a New Mom

I started having babies young; I was just 21 when I got pregnant with my oldest.  I’d never given any thought to a philosophy of mothering.  I had taken care of younger siblings and I had babysat a lot, I knew I would breastfeed and be a stay-at-home mom, but beyond that I was pretty clueless about pregnancy, birth, and mothering.

Early in my pregnancy I was surprised by a call from an old family friend, a mom of 8.  She had simply called to encourage me, and she probably still doesn’t know how that simple call changed the course of my mothering career, simply because she had brought things up that I had never thought about.

She showed me that I needed to be intentional in how I handled pregnancy and birth.  She encouraged me to be nurturing and responsive to my new little baby.  Here are a few things she shared that I’m so glad I put into practice as a new mom:

Eat healthfully and exercise during pregnancy.  Now I know that a diet high in vegetables, fruits, and clean proteins with limited sugar is best.

Prepare for birth by practicing conscious relaxation.  Go limp, like a rag doll.  Practice this till you can maintain this state of relaxation for a long period of time.  She sent me a book on the Bradley method of childbirth, which in my opinion is the best way to approach natural birth—or any birth, for that matter.

Shoot for as little intervention in birth as possible.  My friend had all home births.  I was having a hospital birth, and she reminded me that Jesus was in the hospital too.  I needed to have a clear idea of what I did and did not want and be willing to stand up for those things, within reason.  I wrote a birth plan to clarify these wishes to my doctor and hospital staff.

Breastfeed right away.  Follow baby’s cues and feed her as often as she wanted to eat.  Don’t use a pacifier.  Breastfeed for at least 2 years, while baby’s brain was growing the most.

Hold and snuggle baby and respond to her cries.  This is a baby’s only method of communication.  Cuddle and comfort her.  Holding and loving on her would not spoil her!  God designed babies to need many hours of touch and snuggles each day, and he designed mamas to meet that need!

Sleep with baby.  Co-sleeping did not work for us, but it was a relief to know that it was OK to bring baby to bed if I needed to.

These principles helped me establish a solid, nurturing relationship with my baby that carried us through some tough times later.  I’m so thankful for an older mom who was willing to pass her wisdom on to me!  It saved me untold grief!

Did you have an older woman who guided you through pregnancy and the days of new motherhood?  What did you learn from your mentor?


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Red Raspberry Leaf Tea for Mamas!

I was sipping my red raspberry leaf tea today and thinking how much I love it–or more accurately, love what it seems to do for me.  I hear that it’s good for women any time, but I especially try to drink it in the later months of pregnancy.  This eHow article quotes the American Pregnancy Association’s website:

“Medical studies have shown that red raspberry leaf can be consumed safely during pregnancy and can decrease the length of labor and decrease the number of interventions used such as artificial rupture of membranes, assisted delivery, and cesarean delivery…”

All I know is that my first birth was a textbook first labor–18 hours–and my second was about half that time, but nearly unbearable (partly, I think, because I was induced due to a membrane tear…I’d do things differently if it happened again, but that’s another story).
My last 2 births have been 2 and 4 hours of active labor respectively, and much, MUCH easier than the previous 2 in terms of pain and intensity, as well as length.  I didn’t drink RRL during my first 2 pregnancies, but I’ve made sure to consume it during the last 2.  (To be completely honest it tastes kind of like leaves and sticks, but I find that when I sweeten it with a small amount of honey, it has grown on me to the point that I crave it.)  I’m convinced there’s a connection between RRL and faster, easier births.  Just passing on my experience in case it might be helpful to other moms!
In case any of you mamas are interested, here’s where I usually buy it.  A half pound goes a LONG way!
***Sorry about the goofy paragraph non-breaks.  WordPress won’t let me edit them and it’s driving me crazy!***


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Pregnancy Diet

My sister and I were talking about the best foods to eat during pregnancy and she shared what her midwife (who’s delivered somewhere around 1,200 babies) told her.  I found it helpful, since I’ve never ever had a doctor give me any kind of nutritional info throughout my 4 pregnancies.  (And yeah, I’m officially jealous that she gets to have a midwife!)

The midwife recommends unlimited fruits and veggies and 75-100 grams of protein daily.  She does not encourage severely limiting any food group, but if weight is an issues it’s permissible to cut back on carbs.

Just thought this might be helpful to others–it was to me.


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Preparing for Birth, Part 5

Include your husband

Keep him in the loop. If he’s not able or willing to attend appointments with you, make sure you tell him what the doctor said. Discuss options with him. You’ll do a lot better if you have his presence and support, and he’ll be much better able to help and support you if he knows what’s going on. Remember, he never has and never will be pregnant or give birth, so all he has to go on is what you tell him! One thing that was especially helpful to Billy was understanding the stages of labor. You know, “OK, this must be transition!”

Know what you want and stick to your guns

While I try to be an easy, undemanding patient, there are some things I’m not going to budge on, barring actual danger to me or the baby. (I’m not stupid—I do want my baby to be safe.) These non-negotiables will vary from person to person, so just know ahead of time what they are so you’re prepared to stick up for yourself. Again, remember that the doctor works for you.

Keep the goal in mind

Remember that pregnancy and birth aren’t ends in themselves…They are the means of bringing forth a tiny new life, an eternal soul made in the image of God. Even if all doesn’t go according to your plans and dreams, the end result is a precious baby. You are partnering with God in a holy experience!


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Preparing for Birth, Part 4

Keep a good attitude

To be honest, I hate being pregnant. It’s not fun, it’s uncomfortable, I feel fat and unattractive, and I’ve had some pretty low times during pregnancy as well. But when I’m pregnant, I can choose not to focus on the bad, and instead remember that this isn’t about me and my feelings, it isn’t about being pregnant in and of itself, it’s about the creation of a priceless new life.

Don’t listen to horror stories

Ignore people who want to tell you how terrible their births were. Don’t troll the internet reading bad birth stories. Don’t watch Baby Story. (Sorry if you love it. I just can’t imagine that it would be helpful…But that’s me.) Birth is a natural, wonderful experience which can go well most of the time. Listening to scary stories will only open the door for fear. If you must, kindly but firmly say, “I’d rather not hear horror stories,” and change the subject.

Pray for birth and baby

Strangely enough, I realized midway through my pregnancy with Sarah that although I was spending a lot of time worrying, I had spent very little time praying over my baby, my pregnancy, and my birth. I had to remedy that quickly. It sounds silly that I didn’t think to do that, I know. But somehow I did…I believe prayer is essential for the optimal experience.


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Preparing for Birth, Part 3


Write a birth plan

Think about your specific desires for your birth and put them on paper. Give one to your doctor for your file, and send one to the hospital well before your estimated due date. That way it is clear, in black and white, what your wishes are. It lets the hospital staff know that you have thought through your birth and that you are informed.

Here and here are good places to learn more about making your birth plan.


Practice relaxation

The more you can relax, the less painful your birth will be. My goal was to give birth naturally, without pain meds, but even if you plan to have an epidural, learning to relax will help you manage labor as it becomes more intense. In the months leading up to my birth I practiced relaxing when I lay in bed at night…from head to toe…every muscle…limp as a rag doll…breathed deeply, imitating sleep. For more complete instructions on how to do this, see one of the excellent books available on the Bradley method of childbirth, or take a Bradley class. Here’s a great article online about relaxing during childbirth. I’m not strong willed enough that sheer determination could make me get through birth without pain meds. However, relaxing has helped me learn to manage the pain. I can honestly say that with Sarah’s birth (my 3rd) I never reached what I’d consider my pain threshold. Yes, it hurt, but I didn’t get the point where I thought, there’s no way I can take any more.

Read, read, read–be informed

Some great books to prepare for birth and after are:

Husband Coached Childbirth by Robert A. Bradley (somewhat outdated…I’ve heard that more current Bradley method books are better…the original book still has tons of useful information though)

The Complete Well Pregnancy Book by Mike and Nancy Samuels

Parent Project by Dr. William Sears (and pretty much anything else in print or online by Dr. Sears…my only caution is that I think he’s a bit of a softy on toddler discipline…But his info on baby care is fabulous.)

Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing by Sheila Kippley (Even if you aren’t interested in spacing children through ecological breastfeeding, this book is a great help in understanding how your body works during lactation.)

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League International

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