Photos

As our baby’s birthday looms larger on the horizon, I’ve been trying to order my thoughts about childbirth and make sense of how to have a biblical view on the subject.

There’s not a lot written from a Christian perspective when it comes to the topic of birth, which is unfortunate because it’s an amazing time for women to see the power of God at work in their lives. Instead of setting our gaze on Christ as we nurture a new life and prepare to welcome them into the world, we’re encouraged by worldly voices to look inside ourselves.

The topic of childbirth generally separates people into one of two camps: a mainstream medical approach, or a “crunchy” natural approach. While they seem very different, they boil down to the same basic focus because the culture we live in prizes self-fulfillment. People are obsessed with themselves, and make decisions based on how they will benefit.

Some think they’ll get the best experience from a painless delivery with an epidural, and some think they’ll get the best experience in an unmedicated environment without intervention.

I’m not here to argue the merits of either approach. It ultimately doesn’t matter.

Whatever approach I take, if my approach to birth is centred on me, I’ve missed the mark. It doesn’t come down to medical or natural – that should not be the measuring stick of success. A Christian’s philosophy of birth can land in either camp, but there’s more to consider.

I’m not the hero of the birth of my children, God is. Birth shouldn’t be focused on self, because childbirth is not about me. The purpose of my life is to bring Jesus glory.

Consequently, that means the purpose of the birth of my children is to bring Jesus glory.

My life as a Christian is shaped by the gospel of Jesus. Confessing Jesus as Lord means he has authority over me, and I want to live differently because of who he is and what he has done. Knowing God and being known by him is not an ethereal idea that has no practical application. My theology must have an effect on my everyday life, otherwise it’s not much use.

So here are few principles that I feel give practical application to living out my faith in Jesus Christ as a pregnant and soon to be labouring woman.

We are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:13-14)

My baby has been forming and growing over the past 9 months, no thanks to anything I do. The eyes of the Lord are on every unborn child, overseeing the microscopic details of their growth and development. He knits them together with wisdom and love.

My body was designed to nurture the life of each precious child God ordains to grow in my womb. It was designed to give birth: the Creator of the universe created my body for the task. Childbirth is a normal part of life that has been happening since Eve gave birth to Cain. The female body did not evolve to obtain this ability, it was purposely made for it.

The world is corrupted by sin. (Romans 5:12)

The world we live in is not as it should be. The curse of sin, brought on by the rebellion of mankind, has made what should be a perfect place very imperfect. Bad things happen because of the corruption of sin. People get sick, and in childbirth, I know that things can go wrong. My hope is not in a philosophy of birth, but in God.

I don’t trust birth: I trust Jesus.

Giving birth is painful and joyous. (John 16:21)

Birth is not easy: it is difficult and strenuous. It takes work, but it is work that women are capable of. Jesus talks about a woman giving birth being filled with sorrow and experiencing anguish because her hour has come, yet this sorrow is quickly forgotten in the wake of the joy that comes when a baby is born. He compares this to the sorrow we experience as we wait for his second coming, and the joy we will one day know when he returns. How amazing is it that he allows us to experience this comparison to the joy that is coming our way?!

I am commanded not to fear. (Psalm 27:1, John 14:27)

The Bible is filled with commands not to fear, and declarations that we have nothing to fear because the Lord is on our side. When I consider the God I worship, knowing his steadfast love and faithfulness, I know that I have nothing to fear when the time comes to give birth. He made me, he is with me, he won’t leave me, and I have nothing to fear.

God is sovereign over all things. (Proverbs 19:21, Ephesians 1:11)

The God of the universe holds my life, and the life of my unborn child, in his hands. He determines the day a child will enter the world, the circumstances surrounding their birth, and their health when they are born. He is sovereign over every detail. It is God who gives life and sustains it. He numbers our days and has determined when our baby will be born.

Birth is often referred to as an empowering experience. I disagree. There’s no goddess hidden inside me, waiting to show her strength. Instead, I believe birth is humbling. I am a weak woman loved by an amazing God, who welcomes me into the miracle of bringing new life into this world. He is glorified in the welcoming of new life, because he’s the one who makes it happen. We get to be along for the journey and marvel that he would allow us to experience the joy of it all.

The purpose of birth is not to make me amazed at my abilities and my strength to get through such a physically demanding and painful experience; it’s to put me in awe of my Saviour, and cause me to worship the one who endured more pain and suffering than I can imagine so that he could bring his people into new life.

The obstetrical circus that surrounded Bailey’s birth was a tipping point for me, and seeing firsthand the care a friend received from her midwife after her son was born opened my eyes to a model of care I hadn’t known existed. I began reading everything I could about natural childbirth and midwifery, and became convinced that if I had another baby I wanted to give birth at home with a midwife.

Registered midwives in Canada are trained medical professionals. They have university educations that have equipped them with the knowledge and skills that make them experts in normal, low-risk pregnancy and birth. Like a doctor, they order routine blood work and ultrasound, and can prescribe medications throughout pregnancy and postpartum. Patients under their care receive personal and holistic attention, with prenatal visits that allow time not just for answering your questions, but really getting to know you and your family as well. Midwives allow you to make informed decisions regarding your prenatal care, which includes whether you will give birth in hospital or at home. If you choose to give birth at home, they come prepared with the same medical equipment found in a hospital delivery room. In short, they know what they’re doing. Should complications arise, they know how to respond and when to transfer care to someone with expertise in higher-risk situations.

The demand for midwives in Saskatchewan far outweighs the number of midwives available to provide care to mothers in this province: about half of the women who want a midwife in the Saskatoon area are unable to receive midwifery care. So when I found out I was pregnant with Deacon, I was probably on the phone with the midwives’ office minutes after sharing the news with Clay! I was on pins and needles for weeks, waiting to find out if I “got in”. I did, and it was a wonderful experience. One I was eager to repeat with this baby!

Over the past 8 months I have been blessed to be under the care of two amazing midwives. When the time comes, they will both come to our home to attend the birth of our fifth baby. I realize that home birth is far outside the scope of normal for a lot of people, and I wanted to clear away some of the mystery surrounding it.

Why give birth at home?

A big part of what makes birth progress normally and without complication is the labouring woman’s comfort and feeling of safety. In the hospital, everything is foreign: I did what I was told when I was told to by nurses I had never met, and was routinely monitored by an unfamiliar obstetrical intern until my doctor arrived (if they did at all). Plus it smells weird. It can prompt a defensive posture, rather than one that is relaxed and able to give in to the work of birthing a baby. At home in a familiar environment, I am able to relax and surrender to the process of labour: I’m able to move where and how I want, manage pain how I want, under the care of women I am comfortable with because I have gotten to know them over the past 9 months (longer in this case, as my primary midwife is the same woman who was with me for Deacon’s birth).

Is it safe?

Yes. Under the care of a registered midwife, giving birth at home is no more or less safe than giving birth in a hospital.

What if something goes wrong?

A lot of complications are within the realm of a midwife’s ability to care for. If something is outside of her scope of expertise, she knows, and is able to transfer care when needed. If we need to get to the hospital, we will. We’re not here taking dumb risks and avoiding the hospital at all costs: if that’s where we need to go, we will.

What about your other kids?

Our kids will be home during the birth. My mom will be here to support them, and they are welcome to be present during labour and birth, and welcome to not be. We talk openly about what to expect. They know that it’s going to be hard work for me, but that it’s good and a normal part of life, not something to fear. Bailey is so eager to help that I’m thinking I may have a future doula on my hands! The boys are not. They might just hang out in the basement playing Minecraft until baby arrives. They’re all comfortable with what to expect and are looking forward to being at home to welcome their new baby sibling!

What do you need to have for a home birth?

The midwives bring all the medical equipment required for birth, and supply a list of other items for me to put together. I’ve been slowly acquiring what’s necessary:
-towels
-wash cloths
-garbage bags (for laundry and garbage)
-incontinence chair pads (those lovely disposable pads they put on beds in the hospital)
-large plastic bowl for the placenta after it’s delivered
-shower curtain to put between bedsheet and mattress, to protect bed
-clean sheets
-snacks and drinks of my preference
-for water birth: shower curtain to protect floor, new garden hose with adaptor for attaching to indoor tap, bucket (the midwives supply the birth pool)
-a bag packed for the hospital in case of transfer
-all the normal stuff you’d need to get ready for a new baby regardless of where they were born, like diapers, receiving blankets, baby clothes, pads

 

It’s easy to be afraid of something you don’t understand, and I hope this opens up the lines of communication on a topic that might be foreign for a lot of people. Midwifery is safe. Women who choose home birth have done their homework and are not making a careless decision. If someone makes decisions about something you are not informed on, be willing to ask them questions rather than make assumptions. You just might learn something new!

I think it’s fair to say that when we began sharing the news of our pregnancy, the general reaction was one of surprise. People thought we were done having babies. That’s fair! For a good while, we thought we were done too. We had 4 babies fairly quickly, and along with the physical demands of caring for small children, we had some growing to do in our marriage as well.

I was wrestling with things going on in my heart, dealing with sin, and praying to be a wife who does her husband good and not harm. When we’re wading neck deep in the everyday, it is hard to see what is happening beyond our limited sight. I was just trying to fight for holiness and praying for change in me. During this time though, I also began to hope and pray for more children. I prayed that if it were God’s will, his Holy Spirit would speak to Clay and align our hearts on the matter. I determined I was not going to nag, I would do my best to not even bring it up, and trust that if it were the will of God for our family to have more children, He would make it happen.

It was while studying Francis and Lisa Chan’s You and Me Forever (a book that I think is cleverly disguised as a book about marriage but actually is an excellent primer on basic faithful Christianity), we both felt strongly that God had plans to grow our family. There was nothing even explicitly about family and children, but this was the turning point for us. You could read the book cover to cover and walk away wondering, “What part did they read that made them think they should have more kids?” There was nothing specific to our situation, but the Holy Spirit spoke to us through the Chans’ desire to trust God in all aspects of life and to live their lives for Jesus’ glory and not their own.

In January, while women marched across the continent in an effort to stand up for the right to choose death for unborn babies, I was praying that life was forming in my womb. While the ongoing nonsense about babies in the womb simply being parasitic tissue is regurgitated by progressive thinkers, while science is denied because it doesn’t fit the selfish agenda to kill the weakest and most helpless among us, I was praying for the child I hoped was being knit together in my own body. While the world was celebrating the ability to steal, kill and destroy, a new body and soul was growing within me.

I’m pregnant with my fifth baby.
Some people think it’s wonderful.
Some people think it’s crazy.
Some people don’t care either way.
Some people say encouraging things.
Some people say stupid things because they’re awkward conversationalists.
Some people say stupid things because they actually think I’m stupid for having so many kids.

At the end of the day I choose to not let people’s opinions get the best of me. I don’t expect everyone to be supportive, because I know the world I live in is broken. I know children are not valued in this culture. But we’re prayerfully raising these kids to be counter-cultural because of our high and mighty King Jesus. In a culture of death, we celebrate life. In a culture of self-fulfillment, we seek to lay our selves down. In a culture that tells me I’m not living up to my potential by being at home with all these kids, I say this is exactly where I’m meant to be. These kids are not a waste of my time, they’re what I’ve been given time for.

Hi friends! I laughed when I looked back at my last blog post, because I actually haven’t done any of the things on that to-do list! I was so well intentioned – and tired. Very, very tired. With good reason.

We are expecting baby #5!

It’s common knowledge to those around us, but I have been asleep at the wheel of this blog so I thought it was time to show up, explain my absence, and get back to writing. Maybe you’ve been wondering how pregnancy has been treating me this time around. Wonder no longer!

I basically don’t remember the month of February. I feel like I slept straight through it. I slept at least 9 hours every night, and napped for a few hours every afternoon. My waking hours were spent dragging myself around not accomplishing much of anything except growing a human. Add to my fatigue the fact that I was quickly getting knocked out with NVP, and I was pretty much out of commission. We ate a whole lot of nothing good and just locked down into survival mode. (As an aside, let’s stop calling nausea and vomiting in pregnancy “morning sickness”, shall we? Where are the lucky women who only have to deal with it in the morning?)

Around 7 weeks into this pregnancy, I reached a point where my nausea was so overwhelming that I spent an entire morning in a walk-in clinic waiting room so I could see a doctor for a Diclectin Rx. I’m all for treating things naturally, but trying to treat my nausea naturally was like bringing a knife to a gunfight. Sniffing essential oils, eating ginger candies, and small, frequent meals only got me so far. I needed something stronger. I explained to the doctor in no uncertain terms why I was there. He laughed about me having done this before, and quickly wrote me a prescription. The Diclectin did help, but I still struggled with nausea for over a month.

While battling the nausea and exhaustion I lamented to Clay one evening, “Why didn’t anyone warn me it was going to be this bad?! ….oh, wait….I knew. I’ve done this 4 times already.”

I have to brag on my husband for a minute here. While I was busy sleeping and fighting to keep my food down, he was a rockstar. He made sure people were fed, kept the house relatively tidy, did laundry, or made the kids do any of the above things (also very helpful). On one occasion I recall tearily thanking him for all he was doing, and he acted like it was nothing. What a guy. I am blessed.

School was reduced to bare minimum requirements, and we have still not quite recovered. Now I face the usual struggle to get book work done when the weather is beckoning us outdoors, and the desire to try to catch up on what was lacking over the past few months.

Around 12 weeks I suddenly didn’t need to nap anymore and I could handle cooking and eating again. Sweet mercy! I felt like a human being again!

That about sums up the first trimester: sick and tired! I have a lot more I want to say about having this baby, but I’ll pace myself and be back with some more posts in the near future. Thanks for reading – see you soon!

For the past few years we have been members of the Western Development Museum (WDM for short). We purchase a yearly pass for our family and this allows us to visit the museum anytime throughout the year, including the time before Christmas when they host the Festival of Trees, and Pion-Era, their annual summer festival. For the first time since we’ve had our membership we were not busy on Pion-Era weekend so we finally went to check it out, and I am so glad we did. It was so much fun!

The kids all had special bingo cards that if they filled with stamps throughout the grounds, they would be entered to win a prize package. This was a sneaky way for event organizers to get feedback from the survey they printed on the back of the card, and it was also and excellent way of motivating the kids to check out all that there was to see and do.

This is a saw that cuts large blocks of wood into thin shingles.
Pion-era 2015

Here we saw a rock crusher in action. Rocks were loaded into the bottom, crushed, carried up the conveyor belt and dropped into the wagon. I always find these old belt-driven machines fascinating – the ingenuity of machinery during this period of history is so interesting to see in action.
Pion-era 2015

This goat at the petting zoo was eager for attention. Don’t you love his horns?
Pion-era 2015

The kids tried their hands at washing clothes with a washboard. The big boys assured me that they’re thankful we have automatic washers and dryers today, which makes their task of doing laundry much easier than it would have been 100 years ago!
Pion-era 2015

Pion-era 2015

Markus is a rockstar at milking the fake cow!
Pion-era 2015

This little train was one of the highlights of the kids’ day!
Pion-era 2015

Bailey’s favourite part was the pony rides: she went three times! Amazingly to me, she is quite comfortable around horses. I was horse crazy until adolescence made me boy crazy, so it’s very sweet to see Bailey enjoying horses too.
Pion-era 2015

A beautiful team pulling the wagon rides.
Pion-era 2015

Me and my sweetie! While the kids were enjoying their train ride I pulled my phone out and said it was selfie time. Clay asked, “Since when do we selfie?” Since now! I know I am absent in so many photos and I want to be more willing to get my face in front of the camera. I want to be able to look back and see that we were enjoying this day right along with the kids.
Pion-era 2015

Bailey and I took in a fashion show on the Boomtown stage. It was so interesting to see the evolution of fashion over the past 70 years. My favourite outfit was a dress from the 1940’s, it was so feminine and sophisticated. Unfortunately it is not pictured here, and I know this photo is not great but it’s the best I could do with an iPhone in the spot I was sitting in. It was also neat to see some of Clay’s aunt’s fashions from the 70’s and 80’s in the collection: she is a curator at the museum and some of her old clothes made it onto the runway!
Pion-era 2015

We finished the afternoon outside for an old fashioned threshing demonstration. They showcased the different methods of harvesting as technology progressed from using man power to horsepower, then steam and gas machinery.
Here they are pitching the sheaves of grain into the wagon.
Pion-era 2015

It is difficult to see what’s going on here, but the steam tractor is attached with a belt to the threshing machine, and the grain is being loaded in one end, and at the other the grain is pouring into a wagon and the chaff blows away.
Pion-era 2015

I was so pumped to see this because I have amazing memories from grade 3 when my favourite teacher took our class on a field trip to her friend’s farm to witness this process. We rode on the wagon and were up close to the action as the old tractor rumbled, and men with a commitment to heritage and passing on this piece of history involved us in what life was like for farmers in the early 1900’s. This is when history comes alive to a child, and it certainly made an impact on me! I hope some of that wonder of discovering days gone by happened for my kids today too.

The afternoon closed with the Parade of Power – tractors, cars, motorized wagons, and men and women proud to show off their restorations of the past.
Pion-era 2015

There is so much I didn’t include in photos, like delicious homemade bread slathered in butter and strawberry jam for only 25 cents a slice, Saskatoon berry ice cream sundaes, cranking homemade ice cream, rope making, three legged and potato sack races, and so much more. I don’t know how I’ve lived here my whole life and only experienced this today! If you have the chance to go, do it!

School Has Begun!

Class Picture

Classes at Bitner Academy are now in session. I like to take advantage of my freedom by not starting school when everyone else does. Setting our own schedule means starting a week later than everyone else, just because we can.

Markus

Markus, grade 2.

Wyatt

Wyatt, grade 1.

Bailey

Bailey, Pre-K/K.

Deacon

Deacon, 2 years old and along for the ride.

Nice tongue, Deacon.

My favourite students.

Painting

I had promised the kids we would paint this summer, so we pulled out the supplies and got to work this morning.

Little Artist

Bailey loved mixing colours, and adding more. And more.

Wyatt's art

Wyatt’s finished piece.

Markus' Art

Take a guess as to whose creation this is.

Creative process

“Markus, please go close to Bailey and pretend you are helping so I can take a picture.”

Ice Cream

As I promised them, an ice cream sundae at Homestead Ice Cream. In that bowl are 9 scoops of ice cream: Dill Pickle, Licorice, Caramel Cone, Cookie Dough, Grape, Peach, Bubble Gum, Oreo Cheesecake, and Maple Walnut. Wow, I remembered them all!

New Pencils

And what’s the start of a new school year without new pencils? I splurged on these Staedtler ones…there’s nothing like a good pencil.

So, um…I guess I quit my 52 project? In my defence, it was a lot harder than doing a 365 project! That doesn’t even make any sense when you hear it, but trust me. The confines of working with a weekly theme was so hard to deal with. It would nag at me every day, while I was busy with a host of other things, and I’d say to myself, “I’ll get a good shot tomorrow,” until the week came and went. The week’s themes aren’t even being given until Monday, usually mid day, and by the time I got my mind around what I might try to shoot the week was nearly over…I could give you excuse after excuse, I am sure. At the end of the day, it just wasn’t working.

So anyway, here are some pictures. The kids and I made granola a few weeks ago. We found a recipe online with rave reviews, and after explaining the concept of rating systems to them, they were eager to cook and eat so that they could deliver their own rating. Five stars all around for Megan’s Granola!

Granola Crew

Aprons are a must.

Granola-2

Mr. Meticulous. He is so helpful in the kitchen already.

Granola-3

My little messy-haired princess.

Granola-4

A granola bake is not complete without a marching band!

Granola-5

Deacon. Pure trouble.

Grandpa's Boy

Finding the light.

I feel like I’m stretching the theme a bit here. I wanted to do something very creative. Something involving sunlight and warm feelings on a cold day. But you know, sunny days don’t come consistently in the great white north in January/February. So I say this photo still works, because I got some awesome catch lights in Deacon’s eyes.

This boy sure loves his Grandpa. Since he refuses to say anything that contains more than one syllable, he calls my dad, “Pa”. It’s pronounced ‘puh’, and is not to be confused with his word for my father-in-law, which is “Pa” (short for Pappy).

I will make an effort to take photos of my other children in the coming weeks…this guy is just so much easier to get candid photos of. The others are always giving me goofy grins: which are great, but not really what I am going for in shooting lifestyle photos.

A different perspective.

Soft, round nose. Squishy, rosy cheeks. Expressive eyes. My baby boy is growing up fast.

I realize I am not following any rules as far as post processing goes on this project. Black & white one week, colour the next. It’s my project, and I’ll do what I want to.

 This makes me wish I could freeze time.

Good help is hard to come by, but I’ve got it in spades. I am never wanting when it comes to an extra set of hands in the kitchen. They are all too eager to get their hands in and get dirty. While I was busy kneading pizza dough, a certain little someone was busy grabbing a spatula so he could dig into the flour bin. Admittedly, my first thought was, “Oh no! What a mess!”; however, I then paused and realized it was a perfect time to grab this week’s shot. How quickly the days of eager hands will escape me, and I will be left wishing I had someone to make my task more difficult. Praise God from whom all blessings, big and small, flow.