Sleep Discussions With My Sleep-Deprived Husband, Vol. 1

Sometimes, Little Mouse can be a noisy eater. The following conversation took place between me and my sleep-talking husband during baby boy's 3am nursing session...

Lucas: "Sarah, stop."
Me: "What?"
Lucas: "STOP."
Me: "I'm sorry, honey, wha..."
Me: "Oh, I'm sorry. Am I being too loud?"
Lucas: "Yes."
Me: "Okay, I'll stop."
Lucas: (exasperated) "THANK you."
Me: "I love you, honey. Goodnight."
Lucas: "Goodnight."

I think we're going to have to try granola bones for dinner tonight.


DIY Bachelorette Party Sash

When someone says "bachelorette party," images of cheap feather boas, plastic light-up tiaras, and crinkly, paper-thin sashes come to mind (...among some other choice mental images, I'm sure. But we'll ignore those.). 

But why do we always settle on buying those icky, generic bachelorette party supplies when making a completely customized sash on your own is super easy and just as cheap?! Not to mention it is more heartfelt AND you aren't tied down to the typical pink-and-black...unless that's what the bride wants, that is!

So let's get to it!

You'll need:
  • Approximately 2 yards of wide ribbon
  • An equal amount of trimming of your choice
  • Iron-on letters (I chose glitter letters because GLITTER)
  • Matching or complementary thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Ruler, scissors, pen and straight pins
  • Iron & ironing board
  • Any desired embellishments (like the sequined bow I chose)
  • A cooperative (see: sleepy) baby [not essential, but definitely a plus]
Yep. This is the only way I get things done.
Also how I shoot all of my tutorials
nowadays. Wrap him and "nap" him!

First things first: Gather your supplies. Plan to spend anywhere from 2-3 hours picking things up and putting them down in Joann's before settling on what you want. It's the only way to do things in hobby stores. You know I'm right.

To create a nice angled seam for the top of the shoulder, start by folding your ribbon in half end-to-end and pinning it several inches below the fold. Make a small mark 1.5″ down on one side of the ribbon. Draw a line from the mark you just made to the corner of the fold, and add another pin to secure the ribbon in its place.

Now take it to your sewing machine and sew across your line. Cut the excess ribbon and remove the pins.

Next, pin the trim to the bottom edge of the sash and sew in place.
I used a fun and fancy stitch for mine. 

Now try on the sash and pin it together at your hip to find the bottom seam, keeping in mind the size of the recipient. Sew across the bottom seam, trim away the excess, and add a spare piece of trim to the bottom edge. You can add any embellishments at this point as well!

Now, grab those awesome letters you picked up (and put down and picked up again) and follow the manufacturer's instructions on the packaging to iron them to the sash. Make sure you lay them all out before you iron them into place to avoid any awkward spacing issues.

And that's it!

Now you have a beautiful, handmade, one-of-a-kind sash for your beautiful, (not exactly handmade) one-of-a-kind bride-to-be!

Until Little Mouse lets me write again,


A Little White Swish in a Sea of Black

Today I found the stash of Little Mouse's sonogram pictures and videos.

We were fortunate to have an OB who teaches young medical students through OSF Hospital and is also a good friend of ours. Much to my enjoyment, this meant being the guinea pig at several of the OB appointments I had throughout my pregnancy!
2 months pregnant with our little boy...
When at 5 weeks pregnant I began having unexplained bleeding, I panicked. I had been seeing a naturopathic nurse practitioner specialist while we were trying to conceive because of my PCOS, and the office she practiced in was closed that weekend. She only offers OB services for the first 12 weeks anyway, so the need for a dedicated OB was rapidly approaching.  Naturally, this was also the day we were traveling an hour an a half north to reveal to my immediate family that we were expecting. 

So, like a chicken with my head cut off, I ran around the apartment frantically plotting our next move. Do we rush to the hospital? Is this normal?

My husband, always the cool-headed thinker, handed me his phone. "Call Tom," he said confidently. "He'll know what to do." Tom explained every possible scenario with care and compassion, and sent us to the hospital for a quick blood test (much cheaper than a visit to the ER!). Within a few hours, we got the results (numbers were in the rock star category, indicating a super viable pregnancy!) and our marching orders. I called his office on Monday and set up the first of our of many sonograms.

I can't even explain the emotions I felt when I first saw that little squiggle on the screen. It was mesmerizing. I stared and stared, trying to wrap my head around the fact that that smudge on the monitor - that little white swish in a sea of black - was the start of a life inside of me. 

That was the answer to all of our prayers. That was the fruit of our hard work. 

And then, when I thought it couldn't get any more amazing, we saw a small flicker of pixels. Then another. Then a rhythm began. 

Flicker, flicker, flicker, flicker...

"You are witnessing your baby's first heartbeats," Tom said in a hushed voice.

Love doesn't even come close to the emotion I felt in that moment. The sight of our sweet baby's heart beginning to pulse made mine jump. My stomach fluttered. My eyes teared up. I squeezed Lucas's hand a little tighter. That is our baby! 
As the weeks wore on, the morning all-day sickness intensified and our little miracle continued to grow. At the next sonogram, though it was too early to tell based on anatomy, Tom predicted it would be a boy based on the location of the yolk sac in my uterus (how wild!). I even got to see our baby "dancing" as he wiggled his tiny arms in reaction to feeling vibrations as I spoke. And because Lucas couldn't be there that day, the session was recorded, so we forever have proof that Little Mouse started life dancing!
At 16 weeks, we were referred to Dr. Egley, a perinatologist in Peoria, for a routine anatomy scan. He had a "textbook perfect" heart and was growing wonderfully! In their attempts to snag a good profile picture, he started being a little stinker and turning constantly to face the transducer. He was our little Terminator baby for those pictures.
16 weeks pregnant: Terminator Baby in Repose
Not everything was picture-perfect, though. At that appointment, it was found that our baby had a blockage in his kidneys, stopping urine from flowing freely through his ureters. We were told, however, that it is something that normally clears up in utero and is more common with boys. They were right on both counts!

After several more OB appointments and surprise "guinea pig" sonograms with Tom, we returned to Dr. Egley at 32 weeks to check on baby's kidneys. One had cleared completely and the other showed marked improvement (kidneys et al ended up being PERFECT at birth).
32 weeks pregnant - FINALLY a good profile picture!

During the sonogram, the technician turned on the 3D and allowed us the special treat of seeing our baby's face for the very first time. It was magical!
We wondered endlessly who baby would look more like...
We spent hours after that sonogram studying the print-out we were given and comparing it to our baby photos. Who does baby look like? Does baby look more like a girl or a boy? We were captivated by our little wonder.

At 39 weeks exactly, my water broke and 12 hours later, we met the baby we had until that point been getting to know only through grainy black-and-white pictures.

Looking back at those snapshots of our baby before we knew him as "Little Mouse" fills my heart with so much emotion. I can't explain it, really. It's not love. It's not wonder. It's something so much deeper than I've ever felt. 

It's experiencing the Father in a whole new way.

My bold prayer while I was pregnant with Little Mouse is that he would bring people closer to God in his time here on Earth. I never in a million years dreamed that God would fulfill that prayer by impacting ME. And yet here we are, exactly one year since our baby boy came into existence, my relationship with the Father stronger than it ever has been - all because of him. God is so good!
It is amazing and so special that we got to know our baby so intimately before he arrived in our arms, and it is my prayer for his life that he will be for this world what we knew him first as: A little white swish in a sea of black.


Until Little Mouse lets me write again,


Should Christians Practice Yoga?

"But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; 
abstain from every form (or appearance) of evil."  
1 Thessalonians 5: 21-22

The Question is Asked... 

In February of this year, my husband worked as the sound engineer for EQUIP Ministries, an annual conference held for Christian teachers of all walks of life, from Sunday school teachers to ministers and everything in-between. After the event wrapped up, we had the honor of meeting and conversing with Christian apologist Eric Barger. We spoke at length about the direction of our country, the direction of the church, and a few questions that were on our minds at the time.

One of the questions we had been struggling with concerned decidedly "Eastern" practices (martial arts and yoga, specifically) and how I had believed that my "Scripture-centered yoga routine" helped heal my body and aided in our efforts to conceive. It wasn't until about a week before our discussion that I felt a giant question mark elbowing its way into that area; I had given a lot of credit to the yoga routine I had adopted and how it helped us get pregnant, but in retrospect, I wondered how much it actually deserved that praise.

Eric was very clear about yoga: NO. There is no such thing as "Christian yoga" or "non-Hindu" yoga. The fundamental intent of yoga is to obtain oneness with the universe through yoking with Hinduism's highest god, Brahman.  I asked how the positions could be harmful if, while doing them, I wasn't following what the instructor was iterating - empty your mind and breathe in strength and light, breathe out fear and negativity - but rather was focusing on my daily devotional and using the time as God-centered prayer meditation. He chuckled, "I've talked with so many Yogis who laugh in the face of that mindset, as well as the whole idea of this new 'exercise yoga' fad! They've been very clear that there's no breaking the two apart; with the positions comes the spirituality."

After a long discussion about yoga, its place in the New Age movement, and other implications, he directed me to his website which lists links and resources covering just such concerns. And, with that, I sat on my hands for several months before finally listening to the Holy Spirit's motivations and looking a little more into what seemed to me like nothing more than harmless stretching. 
(Romans 3:4)


"Glossy" yoga, stripped
of its spiritual roots.
What's the harm in a little stretching?
(Because that's what they tell us we're doing - just some very intense stretching.)

Once I gave up trying to justify my actions, set in my routine and content to continue feigning ignorance, the answer was clear. What's the harm in "a little stretching?" The fact that yoga is not just "a little stretching" at all! Marcia Montenegro said it best in her 2004 article, "Yoga: From Hippies to Hip":
"Yoga has become so well packaged as an exercise that people even believe this was the original intent of yoga, often calling yoga 'stretching exercises.' People in the U.S. and other Western countries often do not realize that the yoga they call an exercise, actually hatha yoga ("ha" means "sun" and "tha" means "moon"), is just one of many forms of yoga designed for specific spiritual purposes."
But don't just take my or Ms. Montenegro's word for it - Hindu teachers the world over have spoken out against yoga's popular and "spiritually confused" status in YWCAs and gyms across the Western world:
“The simple, immutable fact is that yoga originated from the Vedic or Hindu culture. Its techniques were not adopted by Hinduism, but originated from it
The effort to separate yoga from Hinduism must be challenged because it runs counter to the fundamental principles upon which yoga itself is premised
Efforts to separate yoga from its spiritual center reveal ignorance of the goal of yoga."
          Professor Subhas Tiwari of Hindu University of America,
                                                   HinduismToday.com – 9/13/09
Even the Hindu American Foundation has taken a firm stance on the inseparability of yoga and its spiritual goals.[1] [2] Suffice it to say, all of the research that I did on yoga's roots and its fundamental intent led continually to the same conclusion: The physical exercises of yoga, however seemingly detached from Hindu spirituality, are designed specifically to prepare the body for the spiritual changes which yoga produces. Even the routines of the less overtly spiritual yoga offered at your local gym are fundamentally based on a series of postures that are offered to the 330 million Hindu gods.

With each new resource, the belief that one could somehow separate the mystical meditation from the physical stretches dissolved further, to the point that I finally saw the truth: the physicality and the spirituality go hand-in-hand. PERIOD.

So, what about the spiritual implications?


Opening the door...to what?

While there may not be a "demon behind every bush," there genuinely are spirits, good and bad, behind every spiritual door we choose to open. This is why God warns us in 1 John 4:1 to "test the spirits" before opening ourselves and trusting things (whether it be in our daily practices, in prophecy, in entertainment, or otherwise). So, we have to wonder: what spirits are we potentially inviting into our lives by opening the spiritual door to our very beings through yoga?
Yoga's sole purpose is "enlightenment," defined by the Hindu religion as union with Brahman, Hinduism's highest god; in fact, the very word "yoga" means "union" or "to yoke" with the false gods of Hinduism. Yoga aims at complete numbness of the mind with the ultimate goal of transforming human consciousness in order to experience the Hindu god, which is a false god. That numbness of mind and exit from your physical being that yoga and deep meditation strives for opens the spiritual doorway, leaving the yoga practitioner vulnerable to whatever spirits come through that door...even (and more likely than not) unwanted ones.

When we compare the original, core purpose of yoga with God's desire for our lives, there is glaring conflict. God wants us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds through His Word (Romans 12:2). He does not want us to empty our minds to experience Him; quite the contrary, actually! He wants us to dig into His Word daily, both by reading our Bibles as well as through our daily walk and acts of worship.

So, contrary to what I had for so long believed, God will not honor your yoga routine any more than he would accept food that had already been sacrificed to idols. Is yoga a sin? Perhaps not, but consider 1 Corinthians 8:1-13:
"Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God. So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one. For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords"), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
But not everyone knows this. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled [how true is this in today's world??]But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do. 
Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol's temple, won't he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 
When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall."
The words of the apostle Paul (inspired by God) are very clear here about how we are to lead others to Christ. Eating food that appears to be sacrificed to idols - or, in this case, taking part in a ritual that prepares the body to accept false gods - serves only as a stumbling block to those around us. It stands to reason, then, that if God does not want us to partake in activities that lead souls astray, he would not "meet us" during our yoga routines. 

And so, any spiritual experiences we feel in the midst of a yoga routine are not inspired by the Holy Spirit, but by something else entirely. Certainly we do not want to open the door to anyone other than the One True God!


3 things to consider:

1. Well-known New Age guru Deepak Chopra admits to purposely sanitizing yoga to make it more palatable to "...evolve [yoga] to a secular spirituality that still addresses our deepest longings." [4] As Christians, our deepest longings are fulfilled through our relationship with God the Father through accepting Jesus Christ as Savior. Filling that God-shaped longing with anything less (in this case, the "peace" or "enlightenment" sought through yoga) is not only a disservice to our walk with Christ, but also teetering dangerously on the edge of spiritual upheaval. 

2. Romans 12:1 says we are to offer our body as a living sacrifice to God. Yoga practitioners do something similar by practicing the various yoga postures, as these postures were originally conceived of to open the individual to the 330 million gods of the Hindu faith. Acts 15:29 tells us to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, among other things; if we are to abstain from food offered to idols of false gods, shouldn't we treat our very souls as something even more precious and abstain from practicing postures and poses whose original intent was to offer our bodies to these false gods?

3. The very idea of seeking out enlightenment as defined by Hinduism and yoga runs counter to Christianity. "Enlightenment" in this context does not mean "full and complete knowledge or comprehension of a situation"; rather, enlightenment is defined as moksha. "Moksha" is the final extrication of the soul and the end of the suffering involved in being subject to the cycle of repeated death and rebirth.[3] As Christians, we know that once our worldly walk is complete, there are no "do-overs." We are created in God's own image (Genesis 1:27) with one soul and one life to live.

And, even if the "enlightenment" sought was "full and complete knowledge or comprehension of a situation," it would still conflict with God's teachings and purpose for us. Evidence of this can be found in the very first book of the Bible. In an effort to be like God, Adam and Eve were tricked into eating fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and subsequently brought the curse onto all of mankind (Genesis 3).


So, why should we avoid yoga?  
(everything is lawful, but not everything edifies, right?)

1. It can affect our spiritual walk.
The angels of God are at war with the powers of darkness. Satan and his minions will use whatever they can to get to us. And while they can't possess believers, as we are filled with the Holy Spirit the moment we trust our salvation to Jesus Christ our Messiah & Savior, they CAN affect us & our spiritual life if we let them. I believe that they are more than capable of using a pagan religious practice we have convinced ourselves is "only exercise" to negatively affect our impact as soldiers of Christ.

2. Because our God covets our time.
As with any spiritual matter, we should look at what both sides have to say about it - what do the Hindus say about it, and what does the Bible say? It is tempting to entertain worldly arguments, but truly those only serve to muddy the waters. The Hindus say it is spiritual and that it is worship; God abhors the worship of false gods (demons, Deut 32:17); therefore,we should avoid yoga.

3. “I mean not your own conscience, but the other man's...”

Hindus believe it is a holy act and have been outspoken to this end. As such, we can no longer claim ignorance, and should therefore avoid yoga so as not to use our liberty to the hurt of others. (1 Cor 10:23-33)

4. To avoid being a stumbling block to Christian brothers & sisters AND unbelievers alike.
“Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol's temple, won't he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge.” (1 Cor 8:9-11)

“Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.” (1 Cor 8:13)

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?”... “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt 5:13, 16b)


Our world runs rife with the lies of the evil one, perpetuated by a culture seeking something more, but running in the wrong direction. Striving always for self-fulfillment instead of residing in God's perfect grace, is it any wonder that our country is sprinting into darkness? Jesus said "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me" (John 14:6, NASB). Not through yoga. Not through meditation. Not even through church membership. Through JESUS. Accepting anything less is a farce.

My prayer is that you do not take what any one person says as incontrovertible fact - not even me! Test EVERYTHING against scripture. Ask the questions that too many are afraid to ask and in all things seek the truth that God has to offer. Never judge things against the standards of this world, for the world lies. The Word, however, never lies.

And so, I leave you with this:
"When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD; and because of these detestable things the LORD your God will drive them out before you. You shall be blameless before the LORD your God. For those nations, which you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you to do so."
Deuteronomy 18:9-14

[1] "Yoga Beyond Asana: Hindu Thought in Practice." Hindu American Foundation. Hindu American Foundation, 2013. Web. 
          16 Sep 2013. <http://www.hafsite.org/media/pr/yoga-hindu-origins>.
[2] "Take Back Yoga." Hindu American Foundation. Hindu American Foundation, 2013. Web. 16 Sep 2013. 
[3]  Olson, David. "Remember yoga's roots, Hindus ask." The Record [North Jersey] 17 Feb 2011. Web. 16 Sep. 2013. 
[4] Miller , Lisa. "Clash of the Yogis." Newsweek. 14 May 2010. Web. 16 Sep. 2013. <http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2010/05/15/the-clash-of-the-yogis.html>.

Scripture to consider:
2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1
"Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?  What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be heir God, and they will be my people."
              "Therefore come out from them
                and be separate,
                                                                      says the Lord,
                Touch no unclean thing,
                 and I will receive you."
                "I will be a Father to you,
                 and you will be my sons and
                                                         says the Lord Almighty."
Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” (talking about sexual immorality, but this is applicable here, too)

1 Corinthians 10:18-22
"Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord's table and the table of demons. Are we trying to arouse the Lord's jealousy? Are we stronger than he?

1 Corinthians 10:23-31
"Everything is permissible" - but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible" - but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.

Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for, "The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it."

If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. But if anyone says to you, "This has been offered in sacrifice," then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience' sake - the other man's conscience, I mean, not yours. For why should my freedom be judged by another's conscience? If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."

Colossians 2:8
"See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

1 Timothy 4:7-8
"Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come."

1 Timothy 4:16
"Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers."

1 Peter 1:13-16
"Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy.""

1 John 4:1
"Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world."

Romans 12:1-2
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed b the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will."

Acts 15:29
"You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meet of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things."

1 Thessalonians 5:21-22
But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form (or appearance) of evil.

Deuteronomy 18:9-14
When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD; and because of these detestable things the LORD your God will drive them out before you. You shall be blameless before the LORD your God. For those nations, which you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you to do so. 

Suggested Reading:
Entertaining Spirits Unaware by Eric Barger & David Benoit


Our Parenting Style

"Attachment Parenting," "Baby Wise," "Permissive Parenting," "Instinctive Parenting"...there are labels out there for every style of child rearing one could possibly imagine. And, for every decision you make as a parent, there's somebody peering over your shoulder, telling you that they would have done it differently.

"You shouldn't hold him all the time! He's going to come to expect it; you're spoiling him."

Yes, heaven forbid my child expects to be held and nurtured by the very same person who held and nurtured him the first 9 months of his existence. You see, that's what caused him to "expect" it; who am I to break the "habit" that nature began?

People are always like...
..and I'm all...
"Why are you feeding him so often? If he's really that hungry, you're obviously not giving him enough. You should add rice cereal to some pumped breastmilk or something to satisfy him."

I have something to tell you that may blow your mind: How often a breastfed baby nurses is no indication of whether or not he is "getting enough." Babies don't eat three square meals a day - or even six or seven! It's all in the diapers, my friends. If Baby is wetting and/or soiling 6+ diapers a day and gaining/growing happily, then he is eating plenty. Breastfed babies will let you know how much they need on any given day.

"Whaaaat?? He doesn't sleep in his bassinet?"

I cringe whenever I realize I've shared too much information, which is unfortunately very frequently. Too often I give people the benefit of the doubt, especially family, when they inquire after the status of our son. So when people ask me how Little Mouse has been sleeping and I tell them how well he does sleeping on us, I'm repeatedly surprised by the reactions. I know our situation is not "traditional," but people need to realize that babies do not come all neatly packaged with a one-size-fits-all plan for raising them.

Baby Boy, as we discovered early on, has pretty bad reflux. Not to the point that the stomach acid hurts him excessively (at least not anymore), and not to the degree that he needs to be medicated. But if you lay him down on his back - inclined or not - even within a half an hour of feeding, he will almost always make these little gaspy noises and spit up. Sometimes, the spit-up is curdled, which in the beginning made it very hard for him to get it out of his little throat. So, when he almost choked at a few days old struggling to clear his airway and I just made it to the bassinet beside our bed to help him, we decided he was safer sleeping stomach-down on top of us. The next few times he began choking, a few light pats on the back and the occasional finger in the mouth to clear the back of his throat and he was A-OK, though perhaps a little shaken up.

Thankfully, he has grown out of this scary tendency, but he still refuses to sleep on his back and until he can roll over, I'm a little hesitant to put him to sleep on his stomach alone. So Lucas and I are sleeping on the recliner and couch respectively with pillows propping up our arms, taking turns in the night with our miracle of a son sleeping oh-so-soundly on our chests. Judge us all you want, but I believe that he is alive with us today because of our choice to sleep this way.

The bottom line is this: We always meet the needs of our son. When he wants to draw near to us, we do not ever delay in coming to him. In fact, we encourage him to draw near to us.

Sound like someone familiar?

When we were still pregnant and discussing how we were going to raise and nurture our child, we decided that the parenting style that was most intuitive to us was to parent the way that our heavenly Father "parents" us. It has not failed us yet.

When Little Mouse has gas, I pop a pacifier in his mouth to soothe him, lay him on his back, and give him a tummy massage and pump his legs until he is relieved (my sister-in-law Molly fondly refers to this as "farting" him. Sometimes I've "farted" him as many as NINE TIMES in a row! I have a prolifically gassy child.).  Sometimes he fusses and resists at first, but in the end is always happier; he may not have known it at the time, but I was doing what was best for him. 

In the same way, sometimes God puts us through trials for our own betterment. We may fuss and fight it in the moment, but we always come out the other side better for having experienced it. I can't count how many times this has been the case for me, though I'm definitely not proud of that fact. But I have learned more and more to just trust Him and His divine plan! It is my prayer that we impart that same trusting spirit to our son - both in us and in God.

When our son is crying or fussing and wants to be near to us, we do not ignore his need to be close or delay coming to him. We do not believe that we can hold our son too much or be too close to him too often.  

This is the very nature of God! He wants us to draw near to Him - to worship Him - and He longs for us to have a close relationship with Him. (1 John 4:19, James 4:8, Hebrews 13:5, 1 Timothy 2:3-4)

Actions will receive equal and just REactions, and as Little Mouse gets older, we will teach him that all of his actions have consequences - some good, some bad. If he disobeys us in a way that is dangerous to his well-being or outside of the boundaries of proper behavior, he will receive just punishment as a way to learn what is right, proper, and/or safe. If he does something that is praiseworthy, he will be praised and taught that that specific action is right, proper, and/or worthy of laud.

Similarly, our God is a just God. Our actions have consequences. God does not punish us for the sake of punishing us - we choose our own path thanks to our God-given gift of free will. Put simply: If we choose to live our lives apart from God and never (1) realize we are sinners in need of a Savior and (2) accept the free gift of God's grace accomplished by Jesus Christ on the cross, He honors that choice in eternity; however, if we do accept Jesus as our personal Savior and stand on His righteousness alone, He rewards us in eternity. (In other words, The Holy Spirit is a gentleman)

I am daily left breathless at the miracle of my little boy, and am so amazed and grateful that God has given me the great honor of raising our son. I only hope to do the job justice! Will I make mistakes? Of course! But as long as I follow the example set by the Father of fathers, the One True and Living God, I know that we'll be providing Little Mouse with the best possible care he could receive on this Earth!

And so, it is with that in mind that I choose to ignore the opinions (a.k.a. "advice") and judgement of others and cast aside all doubt in our "parenting style!"

Until Little Mouse lets me write again,


Paralyzingly Awkward Yet Incredibly Hilarious Social Interactions Caused by Babies: TAKE 1

Little Mouse and I are best buddies! We like to be close to each other throughout the day and he loves being held. 
Little Mouse loving his Mommy cuddles after a long day of being out and about.
Unfortunately, though, sometimes I simply need to be a bit more mobile. So for us, babywearing is a natural part of our day; he likes the comfort of being "held" and I like having two hands to do whatever activity it is I need to be doing with both hands. Today, that activity was shopping.

When we wear our wrap in public, we get a lot of smiles and interested stares and usually end up having quite a few conversations simply because of Little Mouse's mode of transportation. Apparently, people around here aren't used to seeing babies being worn by their mothers - they're used to seeing young babies exclusively in carseats, strollers, or carts [Side note: I thought babywearing was rising in popularity, but perhaps not in Central Illinois.]. The reactions we receive are always positive and in the "Ohhh, isn't that so sweet!" vein, and we almost always wind up in conversations with people, answering questions about the wrap and/or babywearing. By now, we are very used to the attention.

That having been said, today was a red-letter day. Not just in quantity of conversations, but also in quality.

I spoke with two older ladies about how to make the homemade "Moby"; had to assure one gentleman several times that no, my baby was not going to, "slide right on outta there"; and had a very interesting conversation with a new Mommy who wasn't sure what sort of carrier to get and was afraid of being judged by the matriarchs of her family for holding her little one too much (which just broke my heart!).

By far the best conversation of the day, though, was with a very sweet, hipster, twenty-something in Kohl's.

The conversation started out innocently enough:

Girl: "Awww! What a precious baby! Is he yours?"
Me: "Yep, this is Little Mouse!"
Girl: "Awww! How old is he?"
Me: "He's 8 weeks."
Girl: "Wow! Big boy!"

Me: "Yeah, we don't miss a meal, do we, buddy?"

Aaaaaaand then this is where it got weird:

Girl: "Awww! So where is he from?"
Me: (confused) "Oh, I'm sorry...what's that?"
Girl: "Where's he...where's he from?"
Me: "I don't........I, uhhmmm...how's that now?"

Girl: "Where's he, you know, where's he "adopted" from?" (yes, she literally did "air quotes")
Me: ............"Myyyyyy uuuuuuterus?" 

That was an acceptable answer, right? I mean...I just didn't know how else to respond! Maybe I've been watching too much New Girl while Little Mouse naps on me, because that was honestly the first thing that popped into my head. Aaaand it came out of my mouth almost as soon as my brain thought it, so there was pretty much no stopping it. Like toothpaste out of a tube.

Girl: "Oh!"
Me: "..."
   ...but in my head: Oh my gosh did I just tell her that he was adopted from my uterus?! And is 'uterus' even an acceptable word in a conversation with a complete stranger?? No words. No words at all. Just death.

Girl: "..."
Me: Internal scream laughing.
Girl: "So he's...really? He's, like, biologically yours?"
Me: "Yeah! 12-hour labor and all!"
Girl: "Haha! Well, I...I guess I thought..."
Me: "Oh, really, it's no big..."

Girl: "You're just...you know, so "small" so I thought..."
Me: "It's okay, really..."
Girl: "...there's no way she just had a "baby"..."
Me: "Thank you?"
Girl: "...especially one that big!"
Me: "..." 
   ...but in my head: This is awkward this is so awkward oh my gosh can I hide behind that display of Lady Gaga being scaled like a mountain by little black men because she won't notice me there I don't think - I'll be hidden by weird. No, that won't work. AHHHH!!!! WHAT DO I DO WHAT DO I DO?! CONFUSION MAKER! CONFUSION MAKER! NO!! NO!!! NO!!!!
Girl: "..."
Me: CLOSE IT ALREADY!! "Weeeeeell, thank you!" *awkward curtsey thing*
Girl: "Well, he's really cute, even though he's not adopted!"
Me: ..."Thank you so much!" (????????????)

The awkwardness continued awhile until we finally parted ways, but I honestly couldn't tell you what was said because my brain was cry-laughing too loudly for me to properly think. Luckily, I've had so many baby-related conversations, I was able to be on autopilot for the rest of the paralyzing social interaction. 

Seriously, you guys. My life. Is. A sitcom.

Until Little Mouse lets me write again...

P.S. I ALMOST FORGOT! I also got asked to go to some game (soccer? lacrosse? croquet? who knows...) by a random high-schooler who thought I was a fellow high-schooler while I was in the parking lot of the school my husband teaches at. Exhibit B of my life being a sitcom. See also: I've stiiiill got it. ;)

P.P.S. FYI: I will be updating this blog post to include photos of Little Mouse being worn in his wrap once I get a few good pictures. This story was simply too funny to wait until I had all the photos to share, though!


It's the Little Things... (10 things I took for granted before I became a Mommy)

A short list of things I took for granted before becoming "Mommy":

1) Showers that last longer than two minutes. Really I cannot put it any better than Ilana did over at her blog, Mommy Shorts, so I won't even try. (Really, though, go read that blog entry because it is GOLD!)

2) Nipples. Not that I don't have nipples now - I mean, I still have that part of my anatomy. Just not..."intact," as it were. Breastfeeding a tongue-tied baby means your nipples will basically be two crusty points of burnt toast. And let's be real here: no amount of crazy amazing nipple cream is gonna touch that.

3) "Running errands" meant more than just sprinting into the store for a gallon of milk...and it didn't used to take all day. Between lugging around Little Mouse's suitcase (a.k.a. "the diaper bag"), feeding him every two minutes (okay, not really, but it feels that way sometimes), and panicking when he starts crying in the queue at the grocery store, inciting a death glare from the snarling lady ahead of us, it's a wonder we haven't gone hungry at our house. Which brings me to my next point...

4) Not having to eat at lightning speed. Seriously. I could enter a hot dog eating contest and win hands down.

5) Pooping. Not just pooping in peace, but also literally pooping. Making milk takes a lot of fluids, so staying hydrated is key. I discovered this quite painfully during Little Mouse's recent 6-week growth spurt. TMI? Maybe. But if my openness spares just one Mommy this trauma, it is worth sharing.

6) Alone time. I LOVE to be with my little buddy. LOVE it. But every once in awhile, I'd like to be able to do something as simple as taking a shower or sitting on the toilet without wondering how long I have before Little Mouse's next hookup or "I NEEEEED MOMMY NOOOOW!" meltdown. But, such is the way of the Mommy, especially when you're breastfeeding and you've basically got a baby attached to your boob 24/7.

7) Uninterrupted sleep. This one is a given, and I was completely expecting it, but still.

8) Not having to plan my wardrobe around how easy it is to get to the girls without being completely bare-chested. My outfit choices are EXTREMELY limited these days, and usually consist of a tank top and baggy-ish t-shirt; that way, I can lift up the tee and yank down the tank and breastfeed discreetly in public. Little Mouse hates the nursing cover (I would, too - I mean, really, it gets to be like 150° under those things!), plus they're so unweildy, so I've given up the idea of nursing with a cover. And actually, where the cover is like a spotlight on you - LOOK! LOOK! I'M LACTATING! - I've actually had people come up and talk to me not knowing I'm feeding him until he makes his routine "click-SLURP-click" unlatching sounds. I've been really tempted by the AWESOME nursing clothes over at BOOB (Literally that's the name of the company. They're Swedish.), but they're just SO DARNED EXPENSIVE (Again...Swedish.).

9) Sleeping in bed. I never in a million years would have dreamed that hubby and I would be sleeping on the couch and recliner for the first few months of Little Mouse's life, but that's where we are until his reflux is under control. Hubby and I are his mattresses, and you know what? That's okay. We get extra cuddle times with our boy and he feels secure and comfortable and can sleep safely on his stomach.

10) Traveling unencumbered by Little Mouse's "suitcase." They call them "diaper bags," but let's be honest: they're not. They're anything but. Sure, they carry diapers and other diaper-changing necessities, but they also carry a change of clothes for Mom, Dad AND baby (sometimes 3 different outfits, depending on the length of the trip), pacifiers, toys, burp cloths, water bottles, enough snacks to feed a small village (because breastfeeding Mommas gotta eat)....and so on. And heaven forbid you forget that extra whatever that you know you're not going to use but think you might just maybe need. Basically, in the event of a zombie uprising, find the nearest Mommy or Daddy with a diaper bag and you're set for at least a week. Maybe a month.

BUT, as funny as it is to look at all of the sacrifices that hubby and I have had to make since becoming parents, I wouldn't trade a minute of my crazy, 12-second-shower-taking, 1200-pound-suitcase-toting life with Little Mouse. I am SO in love with this little boy, and he is worth every second of my day!

And so, until Little Mouse lets me write again...

It's a Boy!!

It all started at 11:51pm on Friday, July 5th, 2013. But you need to know a little more about what happened before that to fully appreciate the journey that lay ahead...
Lucas and I had spent a very long, very enjoyable day together celebrating his last birthday with just he and I. We took a 2-hour, 4-mile walk in the heat and humidity of the mid-morning, made homemade barbeque pizza with made-from-scratch crust for lunch, and I spent the rest of the afternoon cooking and preparing for his birthday cookout dinner. I cooked and cleaned for hours on end so the kitchen was just as spotless as before the Martha Stewart-esque undertaking had begun.

That right there should have tipped us off.

At the cookout, I had a few contractions, but no more and no stronger than I had been having since Monday of that week. I kept busy making sure people had cake, empty drinks were tossed, and refrigerated items went back in the fridge. Back and forth I walked – house to bonfire, bonfire to firefly field, firefly field to bonfire, bonfire to house – again and again. Still no change in contractions.

We got home, and I unceremoniously washed off my makeup and got ready for bed as I bemoaned the fact that all the activity didn't seem to make a lick of difference in hastening the arrival of our little baby. Mild-to-moderate contractions for a whole week can get very old when they don't progress! I climbed into bed, weary from the long day, and curled up next to Lucas to read the last of the book on the prophet Elijah we were enjoying together. Lucas fell asleep, I finished the chapter, and decided to make one more trip to the bathroom before turning in for the night.

I plopped down, lights off and house quiet. The evening seemed a much-needed gentle end to a long day, and I was finally feeling tired. And then, *POP*! It sounded like a water balloon had popped and I felt a strange pressure in my stomach at the same time. Then, a trickle. But wait...I wasn't peeing. Was I? ...No, definitely not.

“Lucas?” I quietly yelled down the hallway. Silence. “Lucas?!” I whisper-yelled a little bit louder, not wanting to wake the neighborhood with the news that I thought my water had broken. Still silence. “LUCAS!!!!” I yelled, filling the house with both panic and excitement, and was finally met with a groggy response.
 “What is it?”
“I think...um...I think my water broke?” I heard the bed creak from down the hallway and tired footsteps approach the bathroom. He stepped in and turned on the light. “I think my water broke,” I repeated hesitantly.

“Okay, well...are you sure? Should we go to the hospital?”
“Um...hold on. Let me put on a pad and try to walk around awhile.” I stood up, crouching over the toilet a little to reach the pads from the bottom cabinet and was met with another forceful *GUSH!* I sat back down, eyes wide, and looked up at Lucas. He returned my gaze knowingly. There was no denying it had begun.

I put on my “not messing around” pad, and got dressed as Lucas packed up the car to head to the hospital. I called Tom, our OB, with whom we were supposed to enjoy Jimmy John's and swimming that Saturday afternoon. Tom's very obviously tired response was, “Oh, okay. Go to the hospital and they'll call me when they need me.” Thankfully he was much more awake when we saw him 9 hours later when I was almost ready to start pushing!

We arrived at the hospital with contractions 3 to 5 minutes apart and 45 seconds to 1 minute long; they were getting stronger, too. I could tell this was going to be a “speedster” labor and girded my loins for the work ahead.

And what work it was! We checked into our room and got hooked up on monitors briefly to confirm the contractions. We told the nurses our plan for a labor that was “as natural as possible, barring any unforeseen circumstances” and that I did not ever want to be asked my pain scale; I wanted to think of this labor as hard work, not as pain. I walked around and tried some different things (laying, exercise ball, “slow dancing”) for two hours to find out what worked for me to manage the contractions. But of course, nothing ever goes to plan.

Two hours into labor, baby spun into position for delivery while they were monitoring contractions and heartbeats (we were doing intermittent monitoring up until this point), and they lost baby's heartbeat. Immediately three nurses were in the room and I was flipping and flopping all over the bed as they tried to find it.

“Roll over. Now the other way. Okay, hun, we need you on your side now. (hushed) We still can't find it.”
“I can still feel baby moving. It's okay, he or she just shifted. It's okay,” I tried to tell them, but they seemed to think the situation was dire. They asked for permission to monitor baby internally to assure he or she was safe, and we agreed to the intervention. They screwed the tiny internal monitor into his scalp and, what do you know? Baby was absolutely fine, he had just shifted!

After that, I was on constant monitoring and basically chained down to the bed. It was then that I found that the ONLY – literally the O-N-L-Y – comfortable position was on all fours on the inclined bed, rocking forward and backward to remind myself to breathe deeply through each flexing of that big old bag of muscles that was working to rocket our baby into the world.

And so I stayed in that position. FOR EIGHT HOURS.

My knees were weak. My arms and hands were falling asleep. I was only getting between 10 and 20 seconds of rest between each contraction. I was exhausted and at my lowest reserve emotionally. At 6 centimeters and 7 hours into labor (5 hours in the hands-and-knees position), I started doubting my ability to bring this little miracle into the world.

“I can't do this. I can't do it for five or 6 or 7 or 8 more hours, Lucas, I can't,” I heard myself saying. “I am too tired. I am just too tired.” I don't know if I really meant it or just wanted encouragement. Either way, Lucas heard the call and stepped up to the plate.

“Sarah, you were serious as soon as we got to the hospital. You can do it Honey, I love you. You can surely make it. We're so close now. You don't need those drugs. You can do it Honey.” He was my rock. My cheerleader. My comforter. He continued standing at my bedside for the next 3 hours, putting on and taking off a heating pad on my lower back, giving me my “smells” (essential oil blends I had made for myself in advance for each stage of labor), and lightly fingertipping and rubbing my back. 

As labor progressed and the contractions got more intense, I was no longer happy to have his calm, soft voice helping me relax. Instead, I wanted him to “MATCH MY INTENSITY!!!!!”, as I put it so lovingly. It was then that the “Pagan chanting” began, as Lucas called it. After he told me I was almost there, I was determined to work with my body to make this part of labor as efficient as possible. So, with each contraction, I made lots of noise on the exhale. It went a little something like this: 
Rear back – Inhale – Propel forward – Exhale on “Haaaaaaaaaa!”

Rear back – Inhale – Propel forward – Exhale on “Hooooooooo!”

After awhile, even that wasn't enough, so I started using words instead of just sounds...

Rear back – Inhale – Propel forward – Exhale on “OPEEEEEEEEN!”

Rear back – Inhale – Propel forward – Exhale on “BOOOOOOOOY!”

Rear back – Inhale – Propel forward – Exhale on “GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL!” 

Also uttered were “God,” “God help me,” “Baby,” “God be with me,” and “Love.” It must have been quite a scene!

Finally, I felt like I needed to push. When Tom arrived to check things out, I was stuck at 8 centimeters but every contraction felt like a pushing contraction. A few of them I couldn't hold back and my body pushed for me as I shook uncontrollably. I literally could not stop shaking through those strong ones, but honestly, it felt good to let my body take over like that and not try to hold it back. So, when I felt contractions like those coming on, I just rode them like a wave. 

I vaguely remember Lucas, Tom, and my nurse Monica talking about juggling at one point. As another contraction came on, I was quiet because I was focusing on the conversation until the end of the contraction, at which point I let out a sound that I can only equate to a cow lowing. It surprised me even! Three nurses came in, one of them saying, “Boy, does that sound like a woman at 10 centimeters or what?!” I remember asking to see Tom juggle while they helped me roll over to check me again (rolling over during a contraction sucks). I was checked and it was discovered that I was FINALLY 10 centimeters and ready to push.

I pushed on my back for awhile, until I came *thisclose* to passing out. They gave me oxygen and fluids, but the room kept closing in. FINALLY they realized that I needed to be moved to my side because I had been putting too much pressure on my vena cava if I was on my back at this point (woops). Pushing was a bit of a learning curve, but I have to admit it was by far the easiest part of the whole labor process. It wasn't nearly as mentally exhausting as trying to relax through strong contractions, and it felt great to finally be able to work with my body. I did get a little frustrated toward the end because each contraction got three pushes, but only one really moves baby forward, and I was so ready to meet him or her! This part of natural labor was literally three steps forward, two steps back! 

All told, I ended up pushing for two hours before we finally got to meet our little man. I got to feel his little hairy head as he crowned, and got a last-minute conservative pressure episiotomy to avoid a tear. After the episiotomy, he was born in two easy pushes. It was AMAZING to see his little wriggly body emerge just after his head and not feel a thing because such strong, loving, wonderful emotions took over! 

It's a little boy!” Lucas announced with tears in his eyes. “It's a boy, honey!” 
Oh, Lucas, we have our little Baby Boy! Oh, Baby Boy! It's (name)!!” Baby Boy started crying as soon as he was born and Lucas got to (very unceremoniously, as he recalls) cut the umbilical cord. Baby Boy got a very high APGAR score, and was immediately given to me for skin-to-skin contact and nursing (after he was done crying, lifting his head up, and looking around).

He was (and still is!) PERFECT. All of the uncertainty from abnormal sonogram measurements was entirely unnecessary! I began singing “'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” as Lucas stood by the bed crying, stars in our eyes as we gazed down at our little wonder.

Our sweet baby boy was officially brought into the world at 12:15pm on Saturday, July 6th, 2013. He was 6lbs, 15oz with light brown hair and adorable webbed second and third toes on his left foot. Look out, WCHS swim team – you have a future champion over here!

Now, two months later, we're finally getting into the swing of things. Baby Boy hates not being held (so as you can imagine, it's really hard to go to the bathroom throughout the day...), loves napping on our chests, enjoys listening to Daddy play guitar, and LOVES talking/singing. He's really discovered his voice these past few days and it is so cute! He is a pretty gassy baby and was very "colicky" those first few weeks, but we're over the 6 week hump now and hopefully getting better now that we've got a few things figured out: 

1) Mommy's milk supply is starting to finally get under control. Well, either that or Baby Boy is just learning how to handle a major abundance of milk. I have an oversupply (seriously I could feed an army of babies), which was causing extreme gassiness in the beginning. Block feeding has done wonders to make sure he gets an equal balance of foremilk and hindmilk, but it still has done nothing to adequately reduce my supply. If this oversupply persists past 3 months, it just means my body is super stoked to make milk, and I'll be pumping and freezing for him or donating to a local milk bank. 

2) We've finally been referred to a pediatric dentist to take a look at his tongue tie. A tongue tie just means that the baby's frenulum is too tight and is causing poor sucking patterns. This makes the little one take in a lot of air when they feed, causing lots of gas pains and reflux issues. 

3) Little Tummies Gas Relief Drops and Colic Calm used in conjunction with each other have been lifesavers for our little man, and help his little belly feel tons better.

The past two months have been such a whirlwind, but I feel like he's always been in our lives. Maybe it's because my life revolves around him and his around me, but it really is difficult to imagine what life was before him.
Baby Boy
I am so happy to be a stay-at-home Mom with my little buddy and so, SO blessed and thankful I get to spend every day with him – even the bad ones. But honestly, even the bad ones have their shining moments! 
Hopefully I'll be able to keep up with blogging the way I had hoped to as he grows, but for now, I'm lucky to get a shower in!

Until Baby Boy lets me write again...