Postpartum wants/needs

So I have been working on my postpartum plan lately, including a list of various things to have on hand or do afterwards for healing/recovering/staying sane. I thought I’d share it since I have a lot of pregnant friends right now!! Hopefully some of these ideas are helpful for you. Let me know if you have any questions or other ideas!

HEALING/PAIN RELIEF

Arnica pills

(Helps reduce pain, swelling, and bruising)

Lavender essential oil diluted in coconut oil for any stitches

(Healing and gentle antiseptic)

Monthly comfort tea

(Nourishment for the healing uterus)

Sitz bath healing herbs

(Keeps infection at bay and promotes healing)

Cramp ease tincture

(For afterbirth pains– not too bad with the first baby, but from what I hear they get worse with each baby. 😬)

Earth mama bottom spray

(Pain relief and healing! I loved this stuff and now I give it to everyone. Haha)

Overnight pads, at least 2 packs

(Not fun to think about, but you’ll bleed for 2-8 weeks after having baby… you’ll need the biggest pads you can find.)

Postpartum massage

(I wanted a massage SO BADLY after Noah… my whole body was sore and tight. I plan to make it happen this time!!)

Bone broth soups, especially blended

(Nourishing and comforting while you heal. Blended soups can be sipped from a mug while your nurse)

PERSONAL CARE/SPIRIT LIFTERS

Lots of easy snacks

(This may not sound like a big deal, but trust me… it is. It’s SO DIFFICULT to eat the first several weeks, because baby wants to nurse nearly 24/7, and you are still weak and sore so getting up and making food is hard. And by the time you finish baby wants to nurse and you can’t eat with two hands anyway. So having a stash of healthy, one handed snacks near the bed and couch helps so much. The nursing hunger is real!!)

Beeswax candles

(Pretty to look at, gentle scent, add an air of coziness that I love. Beauty is really important to me and I remember struggling with the lack of it visible from my bed)

Plant/flowers

(To bring cheer to the recovery/bonding time. I automatically feel much better when I have flowers and plants to look at)

New necklace

(Because sometimes you just need an easy way to feel a little prettier when you’re recovering and mostly covered in various bodily fluids)

Dry shampoo

(Because showers are hard to come by the first few months with a new baby, and greasy hair makes me feel icky)

Chapstick

(Just cause it’s nice to have. Plus sometimes your lips are chapped after all the deep breathing during labor)

Pretty, comfy nursing dresses/nightgowns

(I only had one with Noah, and that was one thing I regretted majorly. We had to wash it literally several times a day because I leaked so much and he’d spit up and etc. Also the pretty + comfy factors are important because you’ll be wearing them mostly all day and night for the first couple weeks.)

EMOTIONAL WELLNESS

Affirmation cards for postpartum

(I was thinking… I made some for labor, and they really helped… postpartum is longer and harder in some ways, so why not make them for that time period too?)

Family to come help

(Help is so essential!! Part of why I want to be a postpartum doula when I am past the little kids state)

A short time each day without my babies

(For me, mentally and emotionally, I NEED breaks daily. Even if only for a few minutes.)

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Cooking with Carissa

It’s kind of strange to me that I’m starting to be somewhat known for being a good cook… most of my life my sister Hannah has been The Cook and I lived under her shadow and chopped veggies for her. 😉 Much of what I’ve learned is from watching Hannah cook and listening to her talk about it (I still ask her questions sometimes), and the fact that my mama had us in the kitchen from a very young age. I remember being super proud of a brilliant sandwich I made for my dad at the age of 5, and also of the fact that I knew how to cook oatmeal! If you have little ones, let them help!! Yes, it takes much longer and is messy, but it’s SO worthwhile. Noah already loves to help when he can!

If anyone saw me cooking several years back they’d be like “you can cook??” and if I made something that the family brought to a social event, everyone would assume Hannah made it. I just thought it was kind of funny and mostly left the main cooking up to her, with occasional bursts of “I need to learn to cook!”

And then I started dating Peter, and, well, I made him food because that’s what you’re supposed to do to win a guy’s heart, right? Haha. And he was impressed and so I grew more confident and started branching out and cooking more. Since we’ve been married, I’ve branched out quite a lot, between being pregnant and starving all the time and just generally being the main cook (he does normally make breakfast though, and we cook together when we can) and searching for easy/interesting/tasty/healthy/pretty food.

I am still a mess when I cook, though. I’ve often thought if I were on a cooking show it would be some kind of mix between comedy and suspense (Is it really going to turn out??). I’m already bit of a crazy cook, but add in a tiny kitchen and a toddler and it’s a whole different level!

Anyway. So, several people have said I should write a cookbook or start a food blog, which is very flattering… I just don’t think it’s practical for me right now (especially since literally most of my time is spent cooking, eating, feeding Noah, and cleaning up. lol) . I can, however, offer a few tips/principles that I go off of!

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Try new things! Look on pinterest or dust off a recipe book and find something that looks tasty, preferably something simple, and go for it! The above is one of my recent ventures out of my cooking comfort zone. So worth it!! And actually quite simple.

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Don’t be afraid to substitute! Learn some basic subs and make it work. For instance, last night I made muffins that called for 2 cups of rolled oats and a 1/2 cup of greek yogurt. I only had 1 cup of oats and no yogurt, so I subbed 3/4 cup almond flour (less than a cup because the oats would be blended and end up being less than a cup of flour) and 1/2 cup sour cream. You’d never guess! Half and half can be thinned to make “milk”. Butter can (and usually should) be subbed for shortening. Vegetable oil should be subbed for coconut. 1 cup milk plus 1 tablespoon of vinegar makes buttermilk. Applesauce can be subbed for eggs sometimes, or you can make a “flax egg”. There are lots of other good substitutions you can make in a pinch, or to make something healthier!

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I don’t really go by the recipes when I cook. Sometimes, if it’s way out of my cooking comfort zone, I will use a recipe–but most of the time I just use recipes for an idea and then go from there. The more you cook, the more you’ll learn what tastes good and what amounts will be right, just based on look (and sometimes smell or taste) Always start with less than you think you need!

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Big batches for the win! Almost no extra time with lots of extra food. Reheated food is a mom’s best friend! Similarly, making two meals with similar ingredients at once helps save time as well. Yesterday my curry and breakfast casserole both had kale, potatoes, and onions. Since I already had them out it was easy to prep for both meals at once. Curries, soups, and casseroles are all great for this sort of meal prep. I try to tell myself that working harder today makes tomorrow a lot easier, and that helps me get going. I’m actually rather lazy at heart so that’s partly why I like to make a lot at once. 😛

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Enjoy it! I do my best (It’s hard if Noah’s awake and pulling on me most of the time!) to relish the process of cooking. That’s partly why I like to try new things. I love seeing all the colors come together, and I enjoy the different textures and scents and the way the oil and vinegar interact and so on. Food can be so beautiful.  Chopping veggies is strangely soothing to me. Cooking is something I *have* to do, so I might as well have fun eh?

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Make life simpler for yourself by buying some pre-prepped veggies, and by cutting steps when possible. For instance, lately I’ve been buying chopped frozen cauliflower and broccoli. So easy to throw into dishes and make blended soups with! I’ve also been buying big bags of washed green beans, chopped and washed kale, baby carrots sometimes, washed baby greens, etc. Things that are already prepped or need minimal prep. If it was just me at home all day I wouldn’t mind doing all that, but with a toddler it’s tricky to find the time to do all of those things plus cook. I found after I had Noah that I was barely eating any veggies because of the prep time, so I decided it was worth it to pay a bit extra and actually get my veggies in! I also don’t peel veggies unless it’s really necessary, just scrub them well. When I buy things that are unwashed or not prepped I try to wash/prep a bunch at once.

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Have some quick, easy go-to meals for when you’re really hungry and need food fast. For me lately blended soups have been my go-to. I do a black bean/corn/salsa one and a creamy broccoli one.

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I’m all about that presentation! Maybe it’s not your thing, but I encourage you to at least try to make the food pretty sometimes. It doesn’t take much–the main thing I do is include lots of color. Sometimes a little garnish (maybe half a lime, a sprig of fresh herb, etc, nothing crazy) helps. I believe food is a blessing to us, in all ways. And art is important, but some of us don’t have much time for other kinds of more traditional art during our busy days… so this really helps to get a chance to express ourselves in an artistic way while doing something we NEED to do.

And, finally, familiarize yourself with herbs and spices. Learn which combos make which flavors, and which ones are strong and need to be used sparingly. There’s lots of info on pinterest about this!

 

Question Everything

 

If I were to give one piece of advice to newly expecting first time moms, or newly married girls hoping to be moms one day, that would be it.

And when I say everything, I mean it quite literally.

Down to asking more experienced moms what questions to ask!

Ask questions about your treatment during pregnancy, and/or research it ahead of time. Find out if all the tests are really necessary for YOU. Ask what they are for and why and how the results may change things. Find out if the shots have been tested on pregnant women (I’ll just tell you; they haven’t been. It’s a good thing to research yourself, though. They will push several different vaccines on you.). Find out if the cervical exams are needed. Find out the c-section rate of your doctor. Find out how much weight is realistic to gain. Learn about what an optimal diet is for a pregnant woman. And a woman trying to conceive. Find out what normal but unusual symptoms you may experience (for instance did you know your rib cage will expand noticeably? Or that you may experience a stuffy nose every night?) Or that Learn about midwives and consider home birth or birth center birth. If you feel uncomfortable with any aspect of what they are doing or how they are treating you, FIND A NEW DOCTOR/MIDWIFE. Really. Even if you’re 37 weeks pregnant. Your care team makes the biggest impact on how your pregnancy and birth goes.

Ask questions about birth. Does it really need to be a terrible experience? How can you improve your chances for a peaceful birth? What happens during the different stages of labor? What positions might be helpful for different stages? What interventions are common? Which are necessary and at what points? (hint: None at all are necessary unless baby or mom is not okay. You don’t even need to consent to cervical checks! Literally every single thing they want to do, you can refuse if you don’t want it.)

Ask questions about immediately following birth. What will happen with you? What will happen with baby? Look into every single intervention. From circumcision to the shots to the eye ointment to the cord clamping (when will it be done? And what will be used?). Even down to the bath. Many of them are unnecessary for most, if not all babies, and all of them cause harm or potential harm. Do not accept anything just because it’s how your family did it or because it’s hospital policy. Both mom and dad NEED to be on the same page and one or both needs to make sure your wishes are carried out.

Ask questions about postpartum. What’s normal? What isn’t? What should you do to prepare yourself and your home? Who will help you afterwards? What will you do if you are struggling emotionally? What all goes into nursing? What do you need? What will you do if it’s crazy hard? Who is your support person?

Ask questions about newborns. What is normal for them? What isn’t? What can you do to help them? What do their cues mean? What gadgets do you need… or not? What shots will they get, or will you delay or skip all together?

Ask questions about parenting. Question spanking. Is it necessary? Is it biblical? Are there other ways? What tools can you use? What skills can you gain? What parenting outcome/goal is most important for you? What do you want to instill in your children?

All that said… feel free to ask me questions! (In the comments, or on other forms of social media if we’re connected there. If I don’t know the answer I’d be happy to research it with you or point you to a book or article that may help. 🙂 )

Obedience

Caution: This is a bit ranty. I tried to tone it down a bit but there may be some left. 😛 Proceed at your own risk. haha.

 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”[a]

And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. Ephesians 6:1-4

18 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.

20 Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.

21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. Colossians 3:18-21

I grew up hearing these verses. It didn’t hit me until recently, though, that the ones regarding children are addressed to the CHILDREN, not the parents.

I’ve concluded this means two main things:

1. The children must be old enough to not only understand this, but be capable of actually carrying it out — so we’re talking older than 6 here, at least.

2. It isn’t the parent’s job to force them to obey them. 

That second one is the big one in my opinion. The way it’s normally talked about it makes it seem that it’s the parent’s job to make sure their child obeys.

Well, it isn’t.

If that’s true, then it logically follows it’s also the wife’s job to force her husband to love her (which a. doesn’t even work because love isn’t a thing you can force and b. who wants forced “love”??) and it’s the husband’s job to force his wife to submit (which a. doesn’t work because submission isn’t a thing that can be forced, either. Not if it’s real. and b. who wants forced “submission”?? Only abusive people, thats who.)

So… it may seem that you can make children obey, at least while they’re small and easily forced/manipulated/intimidated. But it doesn’t last and often backfires. And is forced obedience really true obedience at all? Is that really what we want as parents?

What is the parent’s job, according to these scriptures and many others? To not provoke or discourage them. Basically… make it so they *want* to obey. To encourage them. To teach them. To be on their team. To spend time with them.

(You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. Deuteronomy 6:7… that’s a lot of time. Like basically they should be with you all the time, even at night, and you should be talking to them most of that time.)

This is exactly what gentle/peaceful parenting says. And this is yet another reason why it’s the direction we’re headed.

Take Care

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As is usual for most mornings these days, I was forced out of bed prematurely by my hungry belly. I scrounged around in the fridge for something to eat, and then decided since I was up and my husband and son were still snoozing, I might as well enjoy this bit of quiet. I made myself a mug of rooibos tea, and settled in to do a bit of coloring with the twinkle lights on. As I was enjoying this quiet time, I was thinking about how much it helps me to have moments like this, where I can relax and think freely, without being constantly interrupted. I’m able to be so much more patient with Noah, so much more cheerful, and just generally a better wife and mother.

Noah did wake up before I finished my tea, haha, but I was still refreshed by that bit of time, and was happy to see him. He’s napping, now, and I’m taking some time to eat (always with the eating) and write out some thoughts that have been swirling around for a while now.

Before I had children, I knew, based on my observations, that I needed to take care of myself — in all ways — in order to best serve my family and those around me. I have seen far too many burnt out moms, ignoring their needs and being busy caring for those around… until it becomes too much, and their health begins to fail, mentally or physically or both. And then they aren’t able to help as much, or at all… or, worse, begin to harm those they once cared for.

Sacrifice is absolutely, inherently a part of committed parenthood. You give up so much, right from the start. Your body is not your own, your time is not your own, and so on, on a level that’s really inexplicable… you have to experience it to fully understand. It is a good thing; it helps us to grow as people.

But. The sacrifice of parenthood does not mean that you no longer matter, that you no longer have needs… or that fulfilling those needs is somehow selfish.

It’s NOT selfish, not if it’s done right.

I’m sure some parents harmfully ignore their children in the name of self-care, or send the message that they are more important than their children–and that isn’t right, not at all.

But as I’ve read elsewhere, self-care isn’t inherently, “Me first!”; it’s “Me, too.”

My dad likes to say, quoting Jim Rohn — “You take care of you for me, and I’ll take care of me for you.” Except, of course, our little ones can’t take care of themselves for us, not right away, and so this makes us caring for ourselves all the more important!

A happy, healthy mom is best for everyone. I don’t think there’s any doubt there!

Often times we need to make sure we do what is needed to make that happen. If we wait around for other people to know exactly what we need and make it happen, it’s highly unlikely to ever happen.

We need to take nap/quiet times to do things that speak to our minds, our spirits, our creative side. We need to take those brief minutes to sit and breathe and drink some tea, or coffee, or whatever. We need to stop rushing and start looking–really take in these sweet, curious, splendid little people we have been given. We need to make big batches of healthy food so we don’t end up skipping too many meals or eating too much junk. We need to get out for walks, alone and with our little ones. We need to spend quality time with our husbands. We need to take the showers and paint the nails. We need to ask our husbands or our family or friends to watch the littles for a bit, so we can go somewhere or do something without being constantly needed and on alert, and come back ready to go into the fray once more.

It doesn’t have to be fancy. It doesn’t have to cost money. It doesn’t have to take a long time.

But we *do* need to take care of ourselves, whatever form that happens to take for you at this time. It needs to be a priority, because we are so vital to the home and to the culture at large. We need to be functioning as well as possible so we can be more patient, more creative, more energetic, and so on.

How to Avoid “Starvation”…

… after getting your wisdom teeth pulled. As a mother, both during pregnancy and now nursing, food has become a huge part of my life… everything revolves around food. Lol. I am constantly hungry most days! So one of the things I was most dreading while waiting for my appointment to get my teeth out was being super hungry afterwards due to the mush diet. I planned out a bunch of food, and thought I had maybe planned too much, but no. It barely lasted me the 5-7 days I needed soft food.

I’ve promised a few people I’d write a post about what I ate, so here it goes.

 

Here’s what I started with in the freezer: Ice cream, mango sorbetto, fruit juice popsicles (which I didn’t eat but should’ve), and frozen fruit–mangos, peaches, pears and bananas. (the last 2 I froze myself)

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And in the fridge… I love pudding so I wanted to take full advantage, lol. Yogurt was also nice to have. The yogurt drink was a good idea, I wish I’d had a few.

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And my pantry items (Well some)… Blended soups are a GOOD IDEA. Get/make lots. (I had enough with these 2 but more might’ve been good. I added peanut butter or goat’s cheese for more protein.) You’ll want savory food and these are perfect. Mac and cheese was good toward the end. Applesauce is a nice easy soft food. I didn’t use the broth but you might.

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First thing I ate– Organic vanilla ice cream! I needed something cold, something soft, and something to make up for what I’d just been through. Ha.

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I did several smoothies… I tried some fun ones, which cheered me up. Peach green tea (http://reciperunner.com/peach-green-tea-smoothie/) and pear ginger (http://reciperunner.com/pear-ginger-smoothie/). I also had a chocolate peanut butter one.

I added chocolate bone broth protein powder to my pudding, along with some whipped cream. Yum.

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I discovered that avocado and goat’s cheese are quite a nice pairing! At least I thought so. And it made me feel like I was eating real food, which was a plus.

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Blended soup and mashed potatoes, yum.

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I found some decent jello (no artificial dyes and such)… I really enjoyed it, haha.

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Cottage cheese is another good option. I found when I was pregnant with Noah that honey and cinnamon is pretty tasty on it, if you like sweet with your cottage cheese.

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Starting to eat more normally… mac and cheese and blended soup with goat’s cheese.

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Sweet potatoes and grits. The grits are a little risky at first because of the small hard pieces (you don’t want anything going into your holes!), so I’d caution using that till at least a few days to a week out.) I also just ate a baked sweet potato on it’s own.

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Another transition food was scrambled eggs (no picture).

If I was going to do this soft diet again, I think I’d plan even more savory food. I was rather sugared out even with how carefully I’d planned. More soups, maybe refried beans, creamed spinach, stuff like that. Steamed, mashed veggies could also work. Protein is a big challenge, too, so keep that in mind. A protein powder you can add to stuff helps. Also a soft cheese helps, like the goat’s cheese I mentioned a few times. Or just melted cheese.

Hopefully that was helpful to some of you! 🙂 Also just be really careful to follow the after care instructions (no straws, rinsing the sockets with salt water after the first day, etc). I was, and I didn’t have any complications. Phew! It really wasn’t as awful as I’d imagined,  including the procedure (which I was awake for)… I had literally been dreading it for like 10 years. 😛 So glad it’s over though!!

Underneath the Surface

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It’s a really interesting aspect of social media and our culture–we have such a flat perspective of one another. We usually only see what someone posts. We don’t see all of their history and character and current reality the same way we would if we were only interacting with the same people face to face over the course of years. (Obviously one can still hide a lot face to face, but it’s quite different.)

I’ve been thinking about it lately as I’ve been sharing things that go along with my current obsessions, interests, beliefs, station in life, etc. And as I share them and read comments I’m reminded of how easy it is to base our response purely on that interaction and not on all of who a person is.

So for me lately… a few topics I’ve been posting, and then some background, some underneath stuff. The rest of the iceberg, so to speak.

Gentle Parenting/questioning spanking

I was spanked till I was 14 (though much less toward the end). I know what it’s like. I remember many spankings vividly. I don’t remember learning much. I do remember being hurt and confused.

I used to be completely convinced that spanking was the way to go and that if you didn’t spank you were soft and going to ruin your children.

I’ve read many parenting books, starting in my young teens. This isn’t a topic I’m just beginning to explore, but rather I am continuing a study of a little over a decade, and plan to continue for the next several decades and probably beyond.

I’ve already spanked several children of different ages. (My siblings, when I was in charge) I’ve seen first hand how it makes me feel, how it affects them, etc.

I’ve also used a gentle but firm approach to many children, some not my siblings.

I am not really a naturally gentle person. Or a naturally patient person. I am really ashamed of the way I treated my siblings in the past and have apologized to them. I’m thankful they have forgiven me and our relationships are healed. These are things I have been working on for many years and I’m really thankful to God for the progress that has been made. I’m not perfect and don’t expect to be in my parenting.

I quite enjoy sword fighting and nerf and other “violent”, active games (though unfortunately I haven’t been able to do any for awhile). I play wrestled my brothers and will play wrestle my son and teach him to sword fight (with care) and climb trees and so forth.

I am open to being wrong and changing my mind. I do it often as I learn new info.

I enjoy reading a variety of perspectives and then forming my own. I don’t subscribe to any one parenting philosophy and likely never will. I just don’t work like that.

Pictures and videos of my son

I try not to crop all the mess out, but I do admit that sometimes I use angles to make the background more appealing.

I always feel like I’m not doing enough with him, and that I’m not paying him enough attention.

The things I do with him are super simple and don’t take much time, even though they may look like it at times.

Childhood development 

This has fascinated me long before I was a mother…

I continue to be amazed at these little people and how well they learn. I don’t think it’s so much the parent’s job to teach them, but rather to keep them safe and provide opportunities for them to learn.

I really wish our culture was more accepting of and gracious to babies and children… one thing I believe might help is better understanding of how they develop and what is appropriate to expect from them. Which is one reason I share.

One of the biggest things that changed when I became a parent was my perspective on getting children used to things. I realized that babies change so drastically themselves that even if everything around them seems the same to us, it isn’t the same to them. So you can’t really get them used to things or train them the way I imagined. (Of course it is still helpful to them to have a predictable environment! I just didn’t realize how drastically they change during leaps and how suddenly their behavior can completely change, and it has nothing to do with your parenting.)

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I could go on, but I’ll stop there. It’s just interesting. And a good reminder to myself that other people have similar experiences and former beliefs and so on below the surface of their posts.