The Coming Weeks

Thirty-six weeks yesterday. This last trimester seems to have flown by. Hard to believe in a month or less we will be snuggling this little munchkin. I hope it goes as quickly as have the past few weeks.

I wanted to take this opportunity to share some of my hopes and desires for this birth. My first two didn't go quite as planned. Our oldest son was born breech via an unplanned c-section. Our second was born via VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) which was what I wanted, but I had developed Cholestasis at 33 weeks and had to transfer care from my midwife to the OB. As of today, all is well. Baby is in the proper head down position, my c-section scar has healed nicely, and there is no sign of Cholestasis reoccurring. So long as no complications or emergencies arise, I will be giving birth with the assistance of a midwife.

We are currently planning a home water birth. I never thought I'd want a home birth, but something with this pregnancy was different. I knew I didn't want a standard hospital birth, but rather a midwife attended birth was my desire. I was convinced I'd be happy with a hospital birth with a midwife. Still, I asked my midwife about home births, at first out of curiosity, but then with real desire to make an informed decisions. I read other mothers home birth experiences and the beauty and peace they spoke of made me desire that experience for myself. I still had doubts and concerns with a home birth with this being my second VBAC.

And then I read The Absorbent Mind. Maria Montessori spoke of the trauma of birth and how everything is new to the infant. This is the child's first experience of its environment and it is our duty to make the transition as peaceful as possible. She also spoke of how mother nature provides the perfect opportunity to carry out this duty.

And the mother herself is kept helpless for a time. Keeping still for her own benefit, she communicates the necessary calm to her child. Everything happens as if the mother unconsciously realized the damage done to her baby. Holding him tightly, she gives him of her warmth, and protects him from too many sensations.
~Maria Montessori

This passage and the whole section on birth resonated with me. It's all over the web that birth is beautiful and empowering and all the power to women. Most of the world realizes the sacredness of birth, but mainly from the perspective of what the mother and her body has achieved. What we tend to forget is the other person who is directly effected by birth. Montessori brings this to light beautifully.

Birth is traumatic both for the mother's body and the baby in that the mother brings forth a new soul through pain and pushing and the baby is brought forth from the warm womb into a world full of new sensations completely foreign. Both are beautiful and sacred and need to be respected and protected in the postpartum-newborn stage. As the mother, I will be healing from a physically and mentally demanding experience. Rest is encouraged. In being made to rest and heal, I am given the opportunity to assist my baby in experiencing the same rest, healing, and calm. 

Midwifery care and a home birth are so compatible with this image. A home birth eliminates the need for movement after birth. The transfer from the hospital to home, settling into another, separate environment from the one they entered into, even dressing, is negated. With a home birth, peace and calm can begin from the moment baby is born with little to no interruption. The environment is prepared as I desire it and as is suitable for my infant. As for midwifery care, they are there strictly for the mother and baby. They will not be rushing the immediate post birth process to rush off somewhere else. Their attention is undivided and respectful of each moment that follows delivery. In the first week postpartum, the midwife does three home visits to facilitate staying in bed and resting, making it possible to maintain the peaceful environment and to simply be with baby and ones family.

A home birth is the only way I can imagine the birth of our third child taking place. This pregnancy started with anxiety and has seemed harder than my previous two with exhaustion, low iron, and the most weight gain. All I want is for this baby to be brought into this world in peace, for baby to know peace and calm. And what better time to start than the moment of birth?

~Emilie


Discovering the Montessori Method

I don't know if you've ever viewed a Montessori blog or Instagram account before, but they are always so well put together. The images are clean and crisp, the children concentrating so closely with the task at hand, or the environment looks like something out of a magazine. And the content or caption makes it seem so magical and like the children took to the Method seamlessly, that they are naturals.

Don't get me wrong; I love seeing these. It's inspiring. Sometimes though, my own fickle mind misguides me. When I see these accounts, I think "how can I get my son to do this? I must teach him!" It all seems so idyllic, and it is how I imagine our life looking. I know it needs to happen and believe it is up to me to enforce it all.

Before delving into researching the Montessori Method, I understood it to simply be a teaching platform, with the activities I'd see floating around Pinterest being like lesson plans. I believed it to be something I could physically teach and enforce in my children, and that through efforts all my own, they'd become these perfect and tantrum-free toddlers. Life would be bliss and full of peace. But it is so much more than just a means for teaching. It is a mindset. It must infiltrate your daily life in so many ways that it can seem daunting, but from my understanding now, the Montessori Method and your child following it has nothing to do with enforcing or verbally and physically teaching it to your child.

 "... the child is not an inert being who owes everything that he can do to us, as if he were an empty vessel that we have filled. No, it is the child who makes the man, and no man exists who was not made by the child once he was."
~Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind

Maria Montessori explains how a child absorbs all things - language, habits, culture, etc. - through their own personal experiences and observations within their environment. Adults do not teach young children these things. The child is his own teacher. We - the adults - are merely "...collaborators in the building process."

When first I read this information, I was struck by how true it was. An example that came to mind immediately from my own life is potty training. I cannot teach my son what the sensation of a full bladder feels like and when to go use the toilet. He has to make that connection himself through experience. The only thing I can do is follow his lead and guide him when needed. Accidents will happen, but eventually he will learn the sensation of needing to pee and connect it with bladder control and using the toilet.

Going back a couple paragraphs, I stated the child is his own teacher. This doesn't mean we don't have a part to play. Our job is to work along side, observing the child's needs and allowing them independence where they believe they are capable. If a child believes he can do something, he will try on his own. Until the child asks for assistance, we should allow them to work towards their independence without interruption. The exception would be if what the child is doing is dangerous to himself or others around him, then stepping in would be the appropriate response.

A child learns from his environment. If the child's surroundings are crowded or cluttered, the child will learn that this is how all spaces should be. If, alternatively, it is tidy, spacious, and ordered, the child will absorb that information and it will become a part of them.

As the parent, it is my job to prepare the environment to be appealing and garner interest so absorption can occur. It is also my job to model appropriate habits and behaviours. A clean room will only influence a child to be tidy so long as the action of tidying it is modeled. If I clean up the toys once my toddler is in bed, he will believe that messes clean themselves and he need not put any effort in when a mess is to be cleaned. If we do not have respect for our environment and take action, our children will not adopt that quality themselves. I am personally still learning and working towards the prepared environment and shifting my mindset from dictating and demanding to one of invitation and modeling.

There are so many more aspects to Montessori than just the prepared environment and modeling. I have barely scratched the surface in my own research, but the ultimate goal is nurturing independent, confident, and competent children, who will one day be the force of our society.

~Emilie

I'd just like to add that I am in no way an expert on Montessori. I know many people are interested in the method, and I find this information fascinating and in line with what I believe to be true about children. My blog is not a Montessori blog, but I do anticipate sharing more of my thoughts, revelations, and experiences with Montessori as it becomes apart of our lives.

Courage, Dear Heart

At the beginning of January, a friend shared a link for generating a word to reflect on and live by for the year. Normally, I click on generators like this out of idle curiosity and not take them seriously. But after seeing several people mention their word of the year and how or why they chose it, I decided to follow through. II had been feeling lost, and needed something to give meaning and focus to my day to day, something to tie my year together.

I prayed before generating my word. My prayer was that the word would readily pertain to my life, and that I accept whatever the word ended up being. I hit the button and within a moment, a word - my word popped on the screen.

Courage.

I jotted it down, fairly satisfied with it. It didn't take long for me to reflect on ways I could see it come into play in our life. Expecting our third baby in three years had already drawn some unkind comments and more are bound to come when people find out we have three under three. It will take courage and kindness to defend our family and not be riled up by the rudeness of others.

Another area I knew I was being called to live out courage was in initiating coffee or play dates with others. As an introvert, initiating is not my forte, but I have been feeling the need to build up my community, and that will require stepping out of my comfort zone.

A third way I saw courage playing a role was in researching the Montessori Method and implementing the mindset in our home. What little I knew about it confirmed it would be amazing for our oldest (and myself), but it seemed complicated and a height of perfection I could not reach. I was afraid to start in case of failure to achieve the end goal. My own perfectionism was holding me back. It was going to take courage to push those doubts aside and step out with purpose and concentration.

These are the ways in which I predict my word of the year playing its part in our lives. I enjoy comfort and security in knowing where things will go or how they'll happen. Straying into the unknown scares me and so I stay where I am. But maybe this is the year to dive into new endeavors with confidence and courage. Nothing good comes from staying stagnant.

Precious Love

Openness to life and large families have been topics under much reflection lately.

At the end of July, I was asked how I felt knowing my husband and I would most likely have the most children out of his siblings. My response was that it saddened me. Both of us grew up in large families - 7 siblings each - and I personally enjoyed it. It wasn't always easy, but I never wished I had less siblings or that I had been an only child. It also saddened me because I would love for my children to have many cousins with whom they can build friendships and go on adventures. A bigger family made sense to me on so many levels.

The following month was when I experienced my discontentment. Previously, I had said I wanted to wait until our youngest was a year old and completely weaned before being pregnant again. After that, whatever happened, happened. But my baby weaned just shy of 10 months old. When engorgement finally settled, it felt pretty good to have my body to myself again. I began to think we should wait longer before being open to another child. I wanted my body to myself for as long as possible. The idea of having another baby so soon did not appeal to me anymore.

My cycle returned shortly after. All I could think about was how I did not want to get pregnant. I was so afraid to get pregnant. We already had two. What was the "rush" to have more?

There are always valid reasons to avoid a pregnancy. Financial concerns, the mental, physical, and emotional health of the mother are all important to consider. But for me, my reasons were totally selfish. I didn't want to share myself or my body so closely with another person. This was my body, and I was convinced I would cry if I got pregnant again before I was ready.

The long weekend in September, both my husband and I received comments toward the size our family or was going to be. My husband was told we are bound to have 8 kids, because he had married a good Catholic girl. A stranger in a group I was conversing with made a comment along the lines of negativity toward big families. Her conclusion was that people with big families are crazy for having so many children. She asked if I had a lot of kids and, in my current state of mind toward pregnancy, I scoffed a bit and said we only had two and that was enough for now.

That same weekend, we went out on a date. The waitress asked if we had any post-dinner plans. I said we would just be picking up our kids. She asked how many, and I replied that we had two. She then asked if we would have more. My answer was that we would probably have more (I knew we would, but I was not open for it to be time). My husband, on the other hand, said "not that many more."

Those three comments, all in one weekend, got me thinking. It irked me that so many people had opinions or a curiosity towards our choice to have more kids. This post was originally much more angry and pointed to how it was no one's business. 

I thought that was it. I could write out my emotions and feel better. But I continued to stew over the topic. Why do I have to defend our choice of life, but am praised or encouraged when I chose the view of "it's my body"? I thought about if we were to get pregnant again, how I'd feel like I have to defend the natural occurrence of pregnancy when husband and wife love each other, and yet how people would make me feel embarrassed and even ashamed. The comments would attack and make us seem irresponsible, when we are ultimately claiming responsibility for our actions by choosing life.

Pregnancy is one of the visible signs of my love for my husband and my family. In growing a tiny human, I am demonstrating the beauty of sacrificial love I hope my children will one day live in their lives. I am saying yes to my vocation as a wife and as a mother. It is nothing but beautiful. It is a statement of love. And yet society makes us feel ashamed and embarrassed because we choose to show our love for one another in one of the most natural ways within a marriage.

So next time we announce a pregnancy to friends or family, I refuse to give the reaction being forced upon us. I am not ashamed the love I possess for my family, and I am not embarrassed to be entrusted with the care of another soul. I will always be excited about my family, and will always be excited when I have the opportunity to grow our love and life.

~Emilie

God Will Bless Your Efforts

In following my previous post, my discontentment didn't disappear completely. I knew what I wanted in theory, but I couldn't see past my own fear and uncertainty. Nervousness crept in every time I thought about the changes I wanted to make.

These changes would effect my whole family. I wanted to pray more as an individual, as a family, and as a couple. I wanted to move our TV downstairs and out of our main living area where the boys play. The final change I was hoping to make was to look into and implement some of the Montessori approach to learning into my toddlers lives. From what I have read and seen over on Fishies In a Row, it would be beneficial for the boys. It also looked like the perfect way to prepare for homeschooling down the road, something I desire to do for my children, but have little confidence in my ability.

The churning in my stomach could rival a stormy sea. I didn't know where to start and doubts filled my mind. I wanted to do these things, but I was terrified. What if I failed? What if my husband didn't want to join me in prayer? What if moving the TV was a disaster? On bad days, it was an all too convenient "life saver". And Montessori seemed so amazing, but did I have the ability to follow through?

What if I fail?

I reached out to a friend in my nervousness and asked for her prayers. I knew in my heart I needed to do these things, but my doubt clouded my judgment. That afternoon, I began reading "A Mother's Rule of Life" by Holly Pierlot. Within the first chapter, she addressed my fears and they were blown away. Gone was the churning and fear every time I thought of my changes. In a paragraph, God had revealed to me what was possible to accomplish with him. The author's situation may have been different, but the message was still applicable.

Without trying, I will fail. God cannot bless inaction. In order for blessings to flow, I first needed to take the leap and make an effort. It may take some time, but if we keep at it, God will bless our efforts. We only need to be prepared to give it our all.

Shortly after this realization, we reorganized our basement and moved the TV and a couch downstairs. So far, the benefits outweigh the cons. The kids play more and no is an accepted answer when a show is requested. There is more space for them to run and play. It may been a bigger mess to clean, but it is also an opportunity to teach them how to tidy their toys and take responsibility.

I'm so glad we made this positive change and I look forward to the ones to come.

The Coming Weeks

Thirty-six weeks yesterday. This last trimester seems to have flown by. Hard to believe in a month or less we will be snuggling this little ...