Friday, September 26, 2014

Choices: Minimalism

So sometime back in 2013, I found the Hands Free Mama blog. She emphasized being intentional about putting down your devices, living 'hands free,' slowing down, looking into your children's eyes, and enjoying the moments. To grasp what really matters. She tells beautiful stories about restoring connection with her daughters and repairing those relationships after she had lived distracted for so long. I cried every time I read one of her posts for the first few months. Her posts resonated so much with my heart for how I want to live my life.

At the end of August 2013, I wrote in my prayer notebook how I felt God was calling me to simplify, to slow down, be still, create margin, and seek peace.

And right around then, a book called Not So Fast: Slow-Down Solutions for Frenzied Families was available as a free download. It echoed my heart in so many ways as it talked about simplifying your schedule (among other things) and learning to prioritize what is most important for your family.

And then, someone in my Facebook feed happened to share this blog post, Why Fewer Toys Will Benefit Your Kids from the becoming minimalist blog. It was perfect timing! Because that blog was FULL of practical suggestions for simplifying your life and de-cluttering your home. And the heart of the blog was so in line with my heart on why I wanted to do this--emphasizing benefits like having time for what matters most, less stress, less debt, more freedom, and more time for investing my heart into meaningful things.

See, this is how God speaks to me! He plants it in my heart and it grows until I'm like, woah, God, I really want to do such & such. And then, all of a sudden I'm inundated with resources or confirmations or whatever. Ask and you shall receive, right? Beautiful. Awesome.

And even better timing, I was nearing the end of my pregnancy with my second son and nesting hit me hardcore for the entire month of October! I cleared out my house from top to bottom and donated carloads and carloads of things that we just didn't use and didn't need. It felt so freeing!

One of the first places I started was the kitchen. I donated all the things we weren't using (which was a lot, because I'm a pretty simplistic cook and very rarely bake anything) and moved things off of the counter. (Because now I had room in the cabinets!) It made such a difference having all that clear counterspace! It looked so much nicer and felt more inviting and made the neat freak in my head very happy.

And from there I was hooked! It's seriously addictive. I couldn't wait to get to the rest of the house!

One of the other big things I tackled was clearing out Will's toys. Can I tell you how much easier it has been to keep our house clean since I simplified his toy bin and got rid of all the toys with tiny pieces that would end up everywhere?! And with a newborn arriving soon after, it could not have been more needed!

Since then, this mindset of minimalism has helped me to live more simply. I'm more intentional about the things I buy or bring into our home or what we might add to our schedules. I'm happy finding ways to live with less which also enables us to be more generous. I'm a big fan of ministries like Compassion International and World Vision, so this is a big bonus for me.

I can spend less time cleaning and organizing because I've cleared out so much, which means I have more time for my boys and my passions. Another really huge benefit is finding contentment with less, too. It does wonders for your heart!

This is my testimony: I've chosen the intentional simplicity of minimalism over our culture's typical excessive consumerism and cultivated greater peace within my heart and my surroundings. I totally recommend it! :)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Choices: Homebirth

This is my story of why I wanted a homebirth. This is what I wanted. This worked for me and my family. I encourage you to do your research, be informed, and do what is best for you and yours. :)

With my first, I would have liked a homebirth, too, but financially it didn't work out. I ended up with a good hospital birth in many ways, but there was one aspect of it that made me determined to birth at home next time.
My care providers and I had very different visions of what birth should look like. My vision was unrestricted, free, instinctive, and natural. Theirs was controlled, restricted, timed, and managed.

Because of my preferences and medical decisions that deviated from the typical routine in most hospital settings in the US today, the on call doctor argued with me throughout my labor. She repeatedly pressed me to change my mind, attempting to bully me into accepting various interventions. She even argued with me through contractions. I said, "My answer is no. I've researched it. I know the statistics, risks, and benefits. No, thank you." Still she argued.

It made me angry. I was birthing a child. I should not have had to argue and defend myself against her medical preferences, and especially not during the middle of a contraction when I'm 6+ centimeters dilated!

I knew I needed a provider with a similar mindset next time. I wanted a provider that believed in the power of a woman to birth her baby without intervention, that believed in me, and in the natural process. I wanted someone I could trust with the safety of me and my baby and also with the sacredness of my birth. Someone that would be supportive and respectful while supervising my birth. I felt a homebirth midwife was my best chance.

Because birth is something I do, not something that is done to me.

When I researched homebirth, I learned that with a competent provider, homebirth was just as safe as a hospital birth in a "low-risk" pregnancy. Transfers are very rarely needed and most of them are not emergencies.

The first midwife I approached wasn't able to work with me because she didn't have an available assistant around my due date. I eventually ended up working with the new Morning Star Birth Center in Duluth. I met with a few different midwives while the birth center got started up and Savita Jones ended up being my midwife at my birth, along with Paula Bernini Feigal and an assistant. I highly recommend Morning Star! They were all wonderful!

During my pregnancy, I had hour long appointments with my midwife, with plenty of time to check on me and baby, discuss nutrition and how I was feeling physically and emotionally, and address any questions or concerns. I was also able to meet everyone that would attend my birth at my appointments as well. During labor, my care team monitored me and baby in an unobtrusive and non-disruptive way. They presented the options for my care and respected my choices and preferences.

My homebirth was beautiful and I cherish the memory. Everyone present was supportive, encouraging, wonderful and respectful. There was an atmosphere of love, joy, and peace as I brought this new life into the world, my second son. Unrushed, free, gentle, and safe.

Homebirth may not be the choice for everyone, but it was the right choice for us. In the hospital, I had to fight for what I knew was best for me and my son. At home, I birthed safely and peacefully, unafraid and wonderfully supported.