Tuesday, November 8, 2016

I Blame You: A Candid Letter to a Mean Kid's Parents

Dear parents of the kid who is beating on my child,

 You are raising a jerk.  Yes, I said it! This one is totally on you.  You have created a self-centered, entitled, phony-bologna, roll-all-over-with a fake injury until the referee is so annoyed HE steps right over his body while you jump off the bleachers and cheer him on, jerk. And now, he's picking on my kid.  Oh, yeah, I know who you are.  The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.  He acts JUST LIKE YOU. While you cuss at the coaches and the ref...while you praise you kid for elbowing the child on the field next to him....while you make your presence known LOUD and PROUD...He is watching you.
You think you're making him strong. You think your his number one fan.  You think you're preparing him for life, but instead, you are preparing him to fail.

What's that?  You want to know why I'm blaming you?  Well, let me enlighten you...

Please consider this that one big piece of something you think the world owes you.


Ours?  Our child will be fine. 
 We are teaching him to be kind and honest and sensitive and a gentle-man.  We are teaching him to be serious and silly and child-like and happy.
 We are teaching him to put ladies first, open doors,  turn the other cheek and sit still in church on Sunday.  We are teaching him that breastfeeding mothers are special and involved fathers are a rare gift, that grandparents are precious and family is forever!  We are teaching him that hard work is more important than riches,  debts must be paid and money doesn't grow on trees.
We are teaching him to keep his word, always do his best and that his reputation is everything.
We are teaching him to be kind to everyone, take garbage from no one and be there for the weak one.
We are teaching him to get his hands dirty, to swing from trees, to dig holes for no reason and to roll around in the grass.
We are teaching him to put bugs back outside, leave food out for the strays and respect life of all stages.
We are teaching him to love his country, to stand up for the Pledge of Allegiance and  to say "thank you" to  those that keep him free.
We are teaching him that it's okay for boys to help out around the house, that girls can do anything boys can do and that he can be anything he wants to be.

We are teaching him that people are weak, God is strong, heaven is waiting and hell is real.
We are teaching him to change a baby's diaper, tell his sister she's beautiful and that his brothers will be his friends for life.
We are teaching him to work for everything he needs, save for what he wants and take care of the things he has.
We are teaching him that his heritage is great, his presence on this earth matters and his future is bright.
We are teaching him that beauty is ond the inside, skin color doesn't matter and peoples' differences are what make them amazing.
We are teaching him that the Constitution is timeless, the law is the law and jail is not a joke.
We are teaching him that sin is sin, right is right, wrong is wrong and forgiveness is forgiveness.
We are teaching him to say sorry when he's wrong, accept an apology when its given and never make a girl cry.
We are teaching him to compliment the chef, be at the dinner table on time and keep his burps on the inside.
We are teaching him to say, please and thank you and yes, ma'am and no sir.

We are teaching him to always keep his head up,  never let his guard down
and ONLY if it comes down to hit or be hit, to knock your son the hell out.

We are teaching him that we will always stand up for him when he is right, never stand up for him when he is wrong and that discipline means, "We love you too much too let you fail".
  and we are teaching him to pray for your son.  

You see, unfortunately during your life, you failed to learn a very important lesson and therefore failed to teach it to your son.  
How you treat people matters.

You are setting the stage. You are setting your child up for failure.
Our child?  Our child will be fine.

A Proud Mama

Need to advocate for your child at school?  Click HERE to find out how to take the proper steps in solving your child's issues with a school yard bully.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

A Teacher-Mom's Guide to Dealing with Your Child's Bully

     We live in an age where bullying is a real issue. The news is constantly reporting horrible stories of bad behavior that results in physical or emotional injury to a child....and everywhere,  the hearts of parents break.  WHY?!  Why are kids so horribly mean?! (I'm going to try answer this question in a post to be published in the VERY near future.) In the mean time, here is how to be an advocate for your child without being THAT PARENT.

First, a little clarification is in order.  As a teacher, I hear the work "bullying" used incorrectly as often as I hear the word "ain't" and it gives me chills in the same fashion.
Here is the definition according to violencepreventionworks.com:

"A person is bullied when he or she is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons, and he or she has difficulty defending himself or herself."

So here is what bullying is not.  Bullying is not your child's best friend snubbing them on the playground after an argument. It isn't a random "Your mama's so fat" comment at lunch.  It's not even someone tripping them on the soccer field.  These things are annoying, mean and unacceptable and may even warrant action, but they are not bullying.  

Hear me well.  No one should EVER be ugly to your child.  No one should EVER harm them or make them feel unsafe...EVER.  Your child has the right to go to school and feel safe and you have the right to feel safe sending them.  Period.
  Here is how you can advocate for your child....from the mouth of a teacher and a notorious Mama Bear!

Be a safe harbor for your child

If you want to help your child, you have to be available to them.   Make sure your child knows ahead of time that YOU are on their side.  Talk often about your need for them to be honest with you about their feelings.  Make sure they know that you want to hear about their day...the good,  the bad and the ugly.  Let them know that it's OK for them to ask you about the dirty word they heard at school or the way a certain person made them feel and that you are not going to yell at them or get unreasonably upset.  Also, involve them in the decision making process when appropriate.  If they ask you to let them handle it themselves, allow them to try.  This teaches good conflict resolution.  Be aware, though, of when you need to step in.

Watch for a change in behavior

This can be tricky with moody preteens and teenagers, but keeping a watchful eye out for changes in eating, sleeping and socializing patters can be very telling.  When a child who generally likes school suddenly starts having behavior problems, begins avoiding school,  begins calling home with phantom illnesses or has a sudden drop in grades, he or she may be having difficulty with peers.  Keeps your eyes peeled and encourage open communication. Try to stay calm and approach the conversation in a way that does not compromise your position as their "tell anything" person.  

Follow protocol

  Once you know something's up, it's your job to take action.  This doesn't mean you automatically send  a "nastygram" to your local Board of Education.  It certainly doesn't mean blasting your child's teacher all over Facebook, and it never, NEVER means approaching your child's bully yourself.  You loose all credibility as a parent before your child and before the school when you act like a bully yourself.  Leave the discipline to the school!

Instead, set a good example of how to resolve issues and take these appropriate steps:
1. Ask your child for the details without "leading the witness".  You don't want to put things into their head that aren't really there.
2.  Send a quick and polite email to the teacher telling her about the issue and trusting her to take the right steps.  It never hurts to remember that she may not answer your email until the next day while she sorts through the details from her end.  It is okay for you to ask for a return phone call letting you know how the issue was resolved.  This ensures something will be done quickly.
3.  Document, document, document.  Keep a careful log off all the incidences involving the student or students who seem to have your child in their scope as well as all communication with the teacher or school.  You need to be able to prove that you took the appropriate steps should the need arise.  Communication by email is very important especially in severe bullying situations.  You want to have it in writing that YOU took the proper steps toward resolution.  Schools are required to keep email communication for years. 
4.  Continue to address the teacher politely when new but related (same students, same issue) incidences arise.  "Hey, I just wanted to give you a heads up that  we still had issues with __________ today. Maybe we can think about moving my child's seat somewhere else?"   Also, teachers appreciate parents who understand that no child is perfect.  Be open to the teacher's comments about your own child's behavior.  For example, don't be offended if the teacher tells you that your child should make better choices about with whom they sit at lunch.  Sometime a bullied child will gravitate to the bully in an attempt to make them like them.  Take the suggestion with grace and discuss it with your child if necessary. 
5.  Teach your child to stand up for them self without  resorting to retaliation.

A good rule to follow is:

First, ASK them to stop.  Sometimes that is all it takes. 

 Next, TELL them to stop.  Police say that even in kidnapping scenarios, a firm NO! or STOP! can change a situation dramatically.  This also ensures that your child has made it well known that they are NOT a willing participant in the offending activity.  

Finally, MAKE them stop.  Let me be very, very clear.  I am in no way condoning the use of violence or physical altercation as an acceptable resolution to a problem.  I am saying that it is OK to teach your child to stand up for himself and should the need arise, to defend himself.  Defending is different than retaliation in that it is meant to STOP an assault from happening NOT to get back at someone after the fact.  Once the altercation is over, any violence becomes retaliation and that is VERY hard to justify.

6.  Email the principal/ assistant principal of your child's school and explain that you have taken prior steps A,B and C.  Explain that you are not satisfied with the outcome and that you would like to meet to discuss further action. We live in a time when bullying is such a buzz word that schools are usually very quick to resolve an issue you have emailed about.  However, if you don't get the results you think are appropriate in a reasonable amount of time, you have the right to go on to the next steps.

7.  Be vigilant.  Document everything and don't stop seeking resolution until you are satisfied. If your child continues to be injured or threatened as investigation is happening at the school, things are not happening fast enough.  Don't be afraid to be a "squeaky wheel" until you know your child is safe!

Remember only after you have taken proper steps without resolution, is it proper to email higher positions (superintendent, Board of Education, etc.) 
With every step it is important to remember that your job is not to be the loudest, the meanest or the most demanding parent.  It is simply to protect your child.  Be respectful, be mature and be firm, but never underestimate yourself as your child's number one fan!

When all is said and done, don't forget to be grateful.  Thank the people who listened and who helped you get the job done....then, forget about it.  Talking about the incidents for years only further damages a child's self-esteem.  Move on, work on social skills as necessary and teach your child to be open to making new friends.  Not everyone is a bully!

If this article has been helpful to you in resolving your child's bullying issue at school, please leave a comment below!

Click here to read my LETTER TO A BULLY'S PARENTS.

Friday, August 12, 2016

How Not To Be a Birthzilla

 I haven't written for a while.  Baby #4 was born on June 22.  We have been very busy being a family of 6. The laundry alone might.just.kill me. The rest, however, has been wonderful.  We have started our home school year (officially opening our school this year!), we have traveled to all the 3 regions of North Carolina and we have begun preparing for middle school (yikes!).  I finally have few minutes to share...
On this last hospital stay with baby #4, I overheard something strange.  As one of my postpartum nurses left the room with an intern, I heard her say, "She's wonderful, so obviously, she'd be a ONE".  I realized that during our five minute meeting, she had not only assessed my health, but also my attitude.  I started thinking about that.  It seems strange that anyone could be in a bad mood after just giving birth to a bouncing baby, but it really does happen.  I was happy my attitude had mattered, after all, I had put some thought into making my stay pleasant for everyone.  Here are a few things I did to make my stay as good for my nurses as it was for me.

An Attitude of Gratitude 

     It should go without saying but....
Gratitude goes a long way on a short maternity hall.  A gracious smile, a small compliment and a big, fat thank you can make anyone's day.  I teach my kids to be thankful, so why shouldn't I practice what I preach?  After all, this woman, my postpartum nurse,  has brought me buckets of ice chips, removed staples from precarious places and changed my giant maxi for days.  The least I can do it thank her....often.

 Bare Down then, Bare Gifts

     Before my last two c-sections, I took some time to make these little marshmallow pops as thank yous for visitors, volunteers and nurses, and they were a hit.  They are easy, inexpensive and adorable.  I offered them to anyone and everyone who came into my room during my stay from the midnight shift nurses, to the hospital photographer. When my 3 year old daughter came to visit, she passed them out as well.

  At one point, a night shift nurse got so excited, she sent all her friends from the desk in to get one too!  We all giggled about their enthusiasm as they tiptoed in one after the other to snatch another whenever they woke me for midnight vitals checks. 
 They were super simple to do:
$.97 marshmallows, a small bag of white melting chocolate, lolly pop sticks, lolly pop bags, colored sprinkles....so easy, so cute, and OH! So appreciated!





     I'm a woman, I'm 100% Italian and I live in the South....I love to talk and truthfully, people who don't like to have conversation, get on my nerves.  
My labor and delivery nurses took an interest in my life (what I do for a living, how many children I have, where I got the Kangaroo Halter Top i packed in my hospital bag, so I took an interest in theirs.  I asked them about their shift, if they had children at home, how long they've been nursing and if the birth center was busy during the full moon.  I noticed that one seemed a little sad and through conversation she told me that her son's best friend had just been struck by lightening.  I promised that I would pray for them and I checked in on his progress whenever I saw her.  She appreciated that (the boy was OK, by the way). It was something simple that I could do.

 Be understanding about interns

    When our first son was born, I remember writing in my birth plan that I did not want any interns to examine me...That almost makes me laugh now! Anyone with multiple children knows that modesty in a birth setting is a laughable concept. 
Truthfully, though, haven't we all been the "intern" in some fashion or another? 
   When a nurse or doctor introduced their intern and politely asked if it was OK for them to assist, I enthusiastically agreed.  Guess what! I survived.  Interns are well supervised, and professional.  Let's face it, medical school has already weeded out the bad ones!  
 The nurse who came to remove my staples brought a really lovely intern with her and after removing the first few staples asked if her intern could continue.  You see, I knew a secret.  After a c-section, you are so numb in the incision area, that you don't feel a thing. Staples are removed without anesthesia because you simply don't need it.  So, that intern got her first shot at staple removal and did a fantastic, professional job.  I made light small talk during the procedure and everyone was calm.  

 Be understanding when things don't go as planned

    When I posted about my birth plan, I explained that I sprinkled with with a little humor and a lot of thankfulness and trust.  I told my medical team that I trusted them.  I didn't make demands, I made requests, and my team followed my plan to the best of their ability.  
During my surgery, however not everything went exactly as planned.   Due to a fairly severe case of scoliosis, my anesthesia did not take as well as it should have.  I was feeling a lot more than I should, but the only other option was to be "put out" and I desperately wanted to remember the birth of my baby, so we (my husband, myself and our medical team) made an elective decision to continue.  That being said, some parts of my plan could not be followed safely.  I was unable to have immediate skin to skin for the safety of my baby.  So the doctor handed that sweet little boy to my husband who held the baby up to my face while continuing to hold my hand with his free one.  
   The next day, the head anesthesiologist came to see me.  We chatted about the experience and I took the time to tell him how wonderful the doctor that did my spinal was.  I told him the truth, it didn't go as expected, but his staff did everything right.  I also asked him to thank the anesthesiologist for me, explaining that he sat behind my head through the entire surgery, squeezing my hand like he would his own wife and talking to me about anything and everything he could think of just to keep me calm.  I had confided in him that I was very nervous about feeling sick during the surgery and he worked very closely with the monitoring nurses to make sure my blood pressure stayed perfectly stable.   He was positive and nurturing and I was extremely grateful.  No, it didn't go as planned, but that was not anyone's fault.  Going all birthzilla on the medical staff would not have changed a thing.  I was grateful for what WAS done and that it was done with my best interest in mind.

All this being said, my mama didn't raise a door mat either and while I was always very polite, I was also very strong when it came to non-emergency, elective procedures that I had taken the time to research and make decisions about in advance. In those cases, I allowed the staff to do their job and explain the procedure and why they felt it was necessary and then politely told them what our decision was for our child, explaining that we had done extensive research and had spoken to our doctor who agreed with our decisions.  Again, when met with a smile and a polite but firm response, there was never any argument.  I think it helped that my husband and I had obviously done our research and were not wishy-washy about our decisions.

What about you?
Have you had any positive hospital experiences because of extra steps you took?  I'd love to hear about them!



Thursday, May 12, 2016

Maternity Leave: Why I Refuse To Let Myself Feel Guilty For Extending It


Our 4th baby will be born on June 22 by C-section.  Technically, I can have that baby and be back to school at the start of the school year....But I won't.
We're all familiar with "Mommy Guilt" but there is "Teacher Guilt" too....It's that horrible feeling you have when you realize that your maternity leave means that 20+ little ones will walk into their first few weeks of school with a SUBSTITUTE only to have their REAL TEACHER come back a while later and mess up their nice, little routine--- a Maternity Leave rendition of Miss Nelson is Missing.
It's worrisome for me as the teacher too.  What if my substitute allows behaviors I would have nipped in the bud on the first day?  What if he or she sets up their supply notebooks, desks and cubbies all wrong?  WHAT IF they form terrible habits that will take me the ENTIRE year to correct....WHAT IF!?
 But I've had to let that all go.

Here are the reasons why I have elected to extend my maternity leave well into the first quarter of school.  They might be different from yours and that's OK.  There should be no guilt or shame in taking this time with your family...no matter what your reasons are!

*Not every woman is able to take an extended maternity leave and the laws are different from state-to-state.  Research your state and more specifically, your company well before-hand in order to get the most out of your maternity leave.  Many places require advanced notice and paperwork.  FMLA guidlelines can be very confusing.  Don't be afraid to ask questions.


 Obviously, this is the main reason for ANY maternity leave.  The more time we can have together the better!  We will spend this time learning to be a family of 6.  I've been notoriously protective of this bonding time in the past. The grandparents are always willing (and I'm very grateful)  to take a kid or two home with them after the birth of a new little one to give us time alone, but it's this time together as a group that makes this time so special to me.  It gives the older kids a chance to get to know their new sibling and their newest roll in the family.  It also gives us a chance to begin setting our new routine.  I don't mean for it to sound like I don't want or need help...but I spent 9 months getting excited to be a mom of 4 and this will be our time to put things to work for us.
Why fool ourselves....we might as well just jump right in to this joyous insanity!
 This will also be a HUGE time of transition for #3.  She has been the baby for 3 years and the ONLY GIRL. We have been working hard to prepare her (as we did with the boys) to "share" the attention --and especially, for sharing her daddy once mommy goes back to school!
#3 just self-weened as well. She may be in for a bit of a shock when she realizes that the new baby will be sliding right into her....spot.  Again, we are working hard to prepare her for this.

Breastfeeding/Storing Breastmilk

 In our home we believe in exclusive, infant-led breastfeeding.  We believe in breast milk as the most perfect food for our baby.  We believe in it's healing powers and in it's immune building and immune supporting factors. We also KNOW it's hard in the beginning.  Even for the experienced mom.  You need time to fall into a rhythm.  I want to give the baby a chance to "learn" to nurse correctly.  Eventually, I'll  want to give myself a chance to store up an adequate supply of frozen milk for when I DO have to return to school.  Breastfeeding can be a struggle in the beginning, especially for new moms.  A 6-8 week time limit looming over your head can be an added stressor.


I read a FANTASTIC article this morning about how the United States has lost sight of the age-old art of caring for and nurturing the newborn/new mom relationship.  In the article, the author talked about her move to Mongolia shortly after the birth of her child, and how the Mongolian women were literally horrified at the fact that she was out of bed and out of the house with her newborn. She said that in Mongolia, new mothers are fed and cared for for weeks after the birth of a child..their only job is to heal, stay warm and breastfeed their babies.  WHAT A CONCEPT!!!
I know myself- that would probably drive me insane, but the reality is childbirth is hard on the body....that's as Biblical as it is biological.  You are already a superhero for bringing a new life into the world.....it's OK to stay in for a little bit and just...rest  let's be realistic here and say...recover.


Of our 2 school aged children, one is currently homeschooling. I'm blessed with a husband was able to arrange his schedule to where he can be home during the day with our children.  He then goes to work evenings, weekends and SUMMERS!  Another bonus of extending my maternity leave will be helping  Hubbs get a jumpstart on a new school year at home!  This will give me the opportunity to help our son transition from Kindergarten to first grade with a good routine, and help us to work out the kinks that come with settling into a new homeschooling schedule.  Homeschooling and working full-time is not easy...but it's wonderful.  I'm looking forward to the time I'll get to spend with #2 while 3 and 4 are napping---(Hopefully, napping!).

Middle School

OMGoodness! I'm not sure I'm ready for this one...at all!  #1 is going off to middle school.  Being home for much of the first quarter will give me a chance to help him start the year off with a BANG in a way that might not happen if I was starting my own school year.  We will use this time to set a routine of homework, studying and organization...with a healthy dose of time to just be a kid.  Because he's the oldest, it's sometimes easy to say, "Go do your homework on your own and I'll check it when things settle down for the night."  While I don't think there is anything wrong with expecting him to work independently, I think this time will allow me to help him develop and maintain good study habits right off the bat. Let's face it he still needs as much individual attention as the others.and....he's a boy!

Truthfully,  there is a part of me that feels like I SHOULD feel guilty for extending my leave.  My school and my students need me too...but this time with my family is so, so precious and short.  It's my intention to take full advantage of every extra second I can get to nurture it and soak it all in.  Before I know it, I'll wake up and it will all be over.

What about you?  Have you battled feelings of guilt over extending your maternity leave? What were YOUR reasons for extending or not extending it?  Do you regret your decisions?  I'd love to hear about it!!!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Naturally-Minded Mamas Facing C-Section: Planning The Most "Natural" C-Section Possible


     My birth plan is the most important thing that will be in my hospital bag.  It's the written document that will tell my hospital, my doctor and his staff my views on my birthing experience and my wishes for how they care for my baby and for me.  My plan has morphed significantly over the last several years (our oldest will be 12 this summer), so I thought I'd share the process and the end result.

Disclosure:  I am not a doctor, nor am I medically trained.  I use common sense and reading skills to make my own decisions about what is healthy for myself and my family.  Anything written here is purely my opinion and is not intended to be medical advise of any form.  I encourage you to do your own research!

     While I consider myself holistically minded (the body, mind and soul are all part of health and healing) and believe strongly in natural healing (using healthy food and lifestyle choices to heal my body and keep it healthy) I never want to be accused of being totally against traditional medicine.  It certainly has it's place.
But it is because of my philosophy of true health and healing that I felt the need to learn everything I could about making my pending C-section as "natural" as it could possibly be.  I didn't want my natural parenting goals to get pushed aside because a traditional medical intervention was necessary.

     I'm very blessed to have found a doctor who not only supports my non-traditional lifestyle, but also lives it himself. (I know!  How weird!). My husband and I consider it truly a miracle to have found such a combination! So, when our holistically minded, OB said a C-Section was necessary, we discussed it, and agreed with him.  You can read about my reasons for accepting a C-section for this birth HERE.

     The goal of my personal research  was to hear how other like-minded women handled the interventions that come with a C-section both pre and post op.  I wanted to know how to best prepare my body and then, how to help it heal naturally.  
   I came across this video by Jentle Childbirth Foundation that really put into words the goals I had for my experience and I immediately emailed it to my doctor.
   From there, I began putting on paper what I wanted my birth experience to look like, feel like and even sound like before, during and after the birth of our baby.
   In a nutshell, I wanted immediate skin-to-skin contact, limited drugs (none that would interfere with exclusive breastfeeding), and no unnecessary "preventative" measures that are standard in most hospitals. 

Writing YOUR birth plan

  • Involve your husband.  He got your into this mess...(no, no, no-- just kidding).  He is a huge and important part of this process.  Listen to his concerns and ask him his thoughts on each part of the plan. I think a lot of men have anxieties about sending their wives into a c-section that they do not know how to explain. What will happen to you?  What will HE see, hear, SMELL?
  •  Know what you want. You have to have a strong birthing philosophy or your hospital (and maybe your doctor) will automatically go with the norm.  Think ahead of time about what you are and are not comfortable with and talk to your doctor or midwife about it early. This is also the time to talk to your husband and doctor about who you do and do not want to see in your delivery or recovery room.  Do you want to limit visitors to certain days or times?  Do you want to make sure certain people are not allowed to visit at all?  Take care of it NOW!
  • Know yourself.  Think about what things you want the hospital staff to know about you personally.  Think about relevant fears or concerns you have.  For me, I need the hospital staff to know about my fear of vomiting.  This will help them to know me a little better.  Think about medications you are opposed to or allergic to.  You'll want to inform your medical team about these things before hand.
  •  Know the law.  Scare tactics can be common in medical settings, especially if you plan to waive certain procedures for your baby.   Avoid being pressured  into procedures that make you uncomfortable or are against your personal or religious beliefs by researching your rights...ahead of time.  If you have concerns about synthetic vitamin K shots, eye ointment or vaccines for your newborn, do your research ahead of time!  Again, at the hospital is NOT the time to make big decisions!
  •  Don't try to be the doctor.   Let your medical team know you are not trying to do their job....but at the same time, be assertive enough to DO YOURS (research and stand up for your rights as a mother)
  • Be grateful.  Add a little sugar to your plan.   Writing your plan like a demand or a business contract is not going to put the staff in a good mood. Don't forget to say "please" and "thank you" throughout.  Let's face it....with your guts on the table, you are not really in a position to be ugly to anyone!  Be kind! 
  • Educate yourself.  Know what happens during a cesarean.  Watch videos, read blogs, books and articles, talk to friends, and talk to your doctor.  Education is a great fear buster!
  •   Know your parenting philosophy.  Know how you feel about standard medical interventions for your baby.  Do your research about the tests and procedures that will happen and make decisions about how you feel about them.  You may choose to delay or forgo certain tests or treatments. 
  •  Pray for the best, but plan ahead for emergencies.  Know what your husband's roll will be if you or your baby must be transferred for further treatment.  Our plan is to have my husband stay with or travel with the baby (should he/her be transferred to another hospital) if I am unable to follow.  We also will ask that he (Hubbs) be given skin-to-skin contact immediately after delivery in the event that I am unable to do that for any reason.
  •  Decide before hand if you will be having your tubes tied.  This is not a decision to be made in the heat of the moment. With hormones, pain and fast-running emotions, you don't want to make a decision you'll regret later just because at the moment you want to swear off baby-making! If you aren't totally sure.  Don't do it.  It can always be done later.  
  • Use a little humor.  Life is too serious sometimes.  Have a little fun!
I  think the most important piece of advice I have is this...spend the next several months of your pregnancy (or whatever time you have left) really developing  your thoughts, feelings and beliefs.  On delivery day, questions will be coming at you from all directions.  Know your answers and your whys and why-nots!
Also, know when to speak up about things that will not be asked.  For example.  Eye gel and Vitamin K shots are standard in most hospitals and birth centers.  You many not be asked ahead of time for your consent and will need to sign legal waiver if you choose to postpone those interventions.  In these cases, you must educate yourself enough to know to talk to your hospital staff about your wishes (delaying or denying altogether) on your own. 

Below you will find our personal birth plan for baby #4 --due in June.
Please do  NOT copy ours as yours needs to reflect YOUR personal and religious personality and that of your spouse.  However, you may use it as a guide to help you build your own.  

 C-Section Birth Plan

Jill and Shawn -----

Our baby’s gender is…A SURPRISE!!

First and foremost, we want to say THANK YOU! Thanks for being part of our 4th baby’s birth and for helping to make this day memorable for all of us. 
Dr. ------- , 
You held our hands though a miscarriage in 2012 when no one else would.  You brought ------- into the world on June  25, 2013.  There is no one else we would have beside us for the birth of our baby today.   Thank you!

Secondly, we trust all of you.  Although we have definite ideas about what we want to see happen today, we know that YOU are the experts and we trust Dr. -------wants what is best for us.  If something on our plan needs to be changed, please speak with us about it before hand.  We are willing to make changes as necessary for the health of our baby.

3 important things to know about Jill:
·       I am allergic to sulfa meds, Septra in particular.
·       I am deathly afraid of vomiting and will worry about it throughout delivery.  It is OK to lie to me and insist that I will not be sick.  I was never sick during any of my pregnancies and was never sick during either of my 2 previous c-sections.  I don’t want to take any anti-emetics initially, but will let you know if I think I need it.  If so, please administer it quickly.
·       I have moderate/severe scoliosis.  This has not been an issue with previous births, but I understand the anesthesiologist needs to know (you know, so he can find my spine!)

During Surgery
*Please put the catheter in after the spinal is done (Ouch!)
*We would like to take photos of the birth.  Please let Shawn know what is allowed.
*Please make sure any medications will not interfere with immediate and exclusive breastfeeding.
*Please allow me to have blankets.
*If possible, please allow me to have my hands free (in case I do feel ill).
*Please do not sedate me, if at all possible. I want to remember this.

*The baby factory is closing!  Please tie my tubes….we are getting too old for this :) 
·       If possible, please lower the curtain so that I can see my baby’s birth.  I’d even like to assist if possible!
·       Please hold baby up for me to see as soon as possible.
·       I would like immediate skin to skin contact if possible.
      Please keep the cord long for Shawn to cut while the baby is on my chest.
·       Please wait to clamp until the cord stops pulsing.
·       Please do not administer eye gel, Vitamin K shot or Hep. B. vaccine.  I will sign the waiver ahead of time.  Thank you!
·       Our babies are exclusively breastfed. Please do not give any formula.
·       If baby must go to the NICU, please allow Shawn to go too.  If the baby is unable to breastfeed, I would like to pump milk for the amount of time the baby stays in NICU.
·       Don’t worry too much about cleaning the baby up.  Shawn and I would like to give the baby his/her first bath later.
·       If possible, we would like to hold the baby through foot prints, measuring, etc.
·       We would like to keep baby with us at all times.
·       I would like to be up and walking as soon as possible.
·       Baby and I would like skin to skin contact as much as possible. You all were wonderful about this with our last baby.  
·       I will be nursing on demand or whenever baby is fussy to help stimulate my milk supply and to bond with baby.  Please do not give any formula.  If formula is medically necessary, please speak to us first.
·       If the baby is a boy, please talk to us before setting a time for circumcision.  We are considering a delay in this procedure and would like to be present.
·       We prefer NOT to see doctors from ---------- Pediatrics if possible.
Please stop by our room as we recover.  We have a treat we would like to share with you and would love for you to sign our baby’s picture frame.

Our three other children are very excited to meet our new addition too too!  J-- (almost 12), B--- (almost 7) and D--- (almost 3) are praying for a girl   B-- and D--- were both born at --------Med.(alumni!!).

We have had nothing but great experiences at ------ Med.  Thank you for all your have done and will be doing over the next few days!

Shawn and Jill (and baby!)

**Obviously, I have blocked out specific names and places for privacy reasons. 

....and that's our plan.  Again, it is so important for your plan to reflect your family, but I hope this helps you to feel empowered in the face of a c-section.  Happy planning!


Are you a "natural" mama facing a c-section?  Please let me know your thought and suggestions for other moms.  I'd love to hear what you are planning for pain management after surgery.  Was this post helpful to you?  I'd love to hear that too!

                                                                                                       ~  Jill

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

What Will Be In My Hospital Bag for Baby #4

The Bag

  Baby #4 will be delivered via C-Section in June.  There will be no crying, whining or arguing about it...this time.  Although I'd prefer a natural water birth (maybe even at home), I've had 2 previous C-Sections and I trust my doctor. I believe his concerns are these: 1.  He did not perform my first C-section, and therefore does not know the integrity of the "repair work", 2.  He knows from my medical records that their was a small emergency during or right after that surgery that involved lots of blood and 3. I have had 2 previous C-sections which makes another C-section the safest option.

For baby #3 I asked I begged for a VBAC, and he gave me a stern "NO!" and  I challenged, "You are going to give me a hard time about this aren't you?!"  To which he calmly replied,
 "No, I'm not going to give you a hard time...but I'll be there to save your life when you hemorrhage  almost to death."  CRICKETS... ... ...
YES, many moms have successful VBACs, YES, I'm sure it's possible....YES, I know you may not agree.  YES, I'm still a holistically minded mother...Moral of the story:  He wins...He's right...the risk isn't worth it considering 2 previous surgeries, a miscarriage and...my age.  I'm going with my gut (quite literally) on this one.

I have had 1 vaginal delivery and 2 (almost 3) C-Sections.  It's much easier to pack when you know that a C-Section is in your future.

I'm in that stage (28 1/2 weeks) where I feel like I NEED to be doing something, but packing is ridiculous.  Aside from that, we are planing on putting our house on the market in the next couple of months. So I don't want to put the crib back up (it just came down 3 months ago) only to have to take it back down for staging the house.
So instead of packing...I plan.  I'm making lists, stashing things in my baby registry on Amazon and pinning my head off on Pinterest.  Call it nesting....it's all I have right now!

I've broken my hospital bag list into 5 sections...for my own purposes, I've highlighted the things I need or want, but don't have yet.  It will make shopping that much easier.  So basically, I'm sharing my packing and shopping list.

I'm packing each group of items in those awesome plastic zipper bags that sheet sets come in.  This will make it easier for me (or Hubbs) to find anything needed, quickly.  I picked up this idea from Kandice at A Cotton Kandi Life (she has an amazing Etsy shop).  Go check her out!

MY bag:
but first.....Disclosure: (because all the bloggers I read do it!)
I am not a doctor, nor am I medically trained.  I use common sense and reading skills to make my own decisions about what is healthy for myself and my family.  Anything written here is purely my opinion and is not intended to be medical advise of any form.


  • Dr. Bronner's 18-IN-1 Hemp Baby Unscented Pure Castile Soap.  You can purchase a  2oz bottle perfect for a hospital bag for $3.19 here.  Truthfully, I have not tried this yet, so I'm still researching, but I love all things Dr. Bronner's.   If I find something better, I'll replace it on the list later...
  • Organic Coconut Oil                                                                                                                       I'll be using this rather than traditional nipple cream as many  popular brands can actually block the milk glands and cause mastitis.  OUCH!  If  you've never had it, trust me....bringing a new baby home is hard enough without fever, chills and extra PAIN.  While it doesn't have to put the breaks on your breastfeeding plans, it certainly will not make things easier.  Coconut oil is naturally antibacterial/antiviral and a nutritious food....win...win...win.  I'll also use the coconut oil on my skin and on baby's skin!  No baby cream in pink bottles here!                               Want to know why I say no to those little pink bottles?  You can read about it in an article from HEALTHY CURES.  SNOOPS this one all you want too,  and you might just find the rebuttal you are looking for, but there is no justification for this in my eyes...but, SNOOP away if you must!
  • Lip Balm (I'll probably make my own)
  • Make up
  • Hair Ties
  • Hair product
  • Hand/foot lotion
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste/floss
  • Deodorant  Right now, I use Herbal deodorant from Melaleuca and it works great, but I'll be making my own next week.  Maybe it will be great!
  • Essential oils- I'm still doing my own research about which I feel best about using on myself and our baby, so I'll add more about that later. But, they will be in the bag.
  • Naturacare Pads- You can get them for a great price from Thrive Market HERE....please believe me when I tell you these are important....Yes, EVEN with a c-section.  No TMI here...Just pack them!  You can even wet and freeze them slightly to help with soreness...Padsicle, anyone?!


  • Pj's
  • Socks
  • Granny Panties (Trust me on this one)
  • Nursing bras/Nursing Tanks- JUST GOT NEW ONES!
  • Kangaroo Tank (I'm considering  just got this one from HIP MOMMY- Thanks Mema and Pop!)
  • Belly Band
  • Organic, reusable nursing pads (I need to buy new ones, so I'm considering THESE.
  • Flip Flops (for the shower- YUCK!)
  • Slippers (You WILL BE walking as soon as that epidural wears off and the cath comes out!)
  • Sunglasses- For the ride home As much as I hate it, having had my guts cut through twice already,  I know that I will need something to take the edge off. Pain killers even in minor doses make me motion sensitive.  The sun glasses will help me not to puke on the car ride home.                                                                                                                                             
  • Comfortable go-home clothes                                                                                                      The rule is:  Wear something that would fit you at 6 months pregnant.  (You will be swollen and sore even if you deliver vaginally).  I'm delivering in late June, so my plan is yoga pants, a nursing tank, flip flops.


We are letting our baby's gender be a surprise.  So neutral colors will probably be most of what I pack.  I do plan to pack:

  • A hat (neutral)- Although the hospital volunteers usually knit some pretty adorable gender specific hats you can choose from after baby is born!
  • Swaddling blankets with velcro (neutral)
  • Hand mittens (neutral)
  • Socks (neutral)
  • Onsies, long sleeved (hospitals are cold), short sleeved (June is hot)
  • 1 go-home outfit (girl)
  • 1 go-home outfit (boy)
  • Receiving blanket (neutral)
  • nursing pillow- I never brought this before, but I can see how this should have always been on my list.
  • Natural baby wipes from The Honest Co. -(I'm rethinking this brand after a recent article about the company's lack of testing on certain baby items.)  I may just make my own. At home, we use cloth wipes, but while in the hospital, I don't want to use their wipes full of alcohol and other ingredients that can dry out our baby's perfect new skin.  

Diaper Bag

  • Natural disposable diapers- This will be the ONLY pack of disposable diapers our baby will use, however, it's not very realistic to expect Hubbs to cart our cloth diapers home to wash and cart back.  I'll probably try something from Seventh Generation.
  • Cloth diapers- For going home. I'm considering a change in brand. Until we know our baby's gender, I'll use some of the more neutral colors from #3.
  • Doublers
  • Diaper liners
  • Wet bag
  • Extra go home outfit (neutral)
  • Nail clippers 
  • Natural wipes
Other Stuff
  • Camera/charger
  • Phones/chargers
  • ipad/charger
  • Notepad/pen
  • Matted picture frame/ markers (for visitors to sign)
  • Insurance Cards/info
  • Snacks for me (granola, my favorite organic vanilla yogurt from Aldi, hummus, pita)
  • Sport Burkey water bottle (I bring my own clean, filtered water EVERYWHERE!)  You can buy one HERE.  This is one of my FAVORITE things.  These filters are so powerful, you can literally filter stagnate pond water in an emergency.  My family is fluoride free, so this will make me feel better about yucky hospital water.  UPDATE:  THE SPORT BURKEY DOES NOT COME WITH A FLUORIDE FILTER.  WHILE ONE CAN BE PURCHASED FOR THE OTHER BURKEY WATER FILTERS, A FLUORIDE FILTER IS NOT YET AVAILABLE FOR THE SPORT BOTTLE. 
  • Large jug of filtered water (I'll send it home with Hubbs for refilling when needed)
  • Nurse/Dr. Favors (I'm planning a whole post on this later)
  • Gift bags for the siblings (coloring/activity books, crayons/pencils, small toys, juice boxes, snacks. I'll do a post about this later)
  • Big brother, big sister shirts (Last time I made these....I may do that again....or maybe I'll buy them...)
  • Money (in case I want real food and to pay the photographer)
  • Birth Plan  (believe it or not, this is probably the most important thing to me so I've already written it and emailed it to Hubbs for his input.  If anyone is interested, I'll do a post about that too.  I may post my own. ** Click to see our Family-Centered Birth Plan and to find out how to build your own!

OK- That's my bag!  When it's all packed and ready, I'll post pictures of it....maybe sometime in May!

Feel free to leave a comment!  I'd love to hear your experiences with any of the items listed above or if have specific items you love too!