Pregnancy: What Helps?

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Believe me….it’s TOTALLY worth it!

 

So in my last post on Pregnancy I took a realistic view at my personal journeys through pregnancy. Now, I want to share what has helped me to cope with the different symptoms one may face during this multi-faceted season of life. In other words, what helps?

Morning Sickness:

  1. Protein- Sandwich it -My sister calls it “Protein packing”, meaning that you begin and end with eating a high-protein food whenever you’re eating a meal or snack. At the very least end with the protein but when my sickness level is at its highest I have to begin AND end with protein to lessen the stomach upset.
  2. Frequent eating- Every 2-3 hours -Though I try to do this anyway so I don’t eat like a pig every meal 😉 but sometimes it’s hard to do! During pregnancy this is an absolute must for me if I want to lesson vomiting, faintness and extreme fatigue.
  3. Small amounts- When in doubt start with half -My stomach is extra sensitive so giving it less to process at a time just makes sense. Also, when my stomach is too full it’s that much closer to being able to leave my stomach;)
  4. Lots of liquid-Water is best, sugar is not -Honestly, I am a water person. I don’t normally drink milk, juice, nor carbonated/other beverages….However, when I am pregnant even my own saliva makes me gag (yes, I’m a camel, I spit!) so water, I’m thinking from the lack of flavor (?), is very hard to ingest and then keep down. My first couple pregnancies I could do Gatorade, now it seems to have too much sugar. It seems that the happiest medium for me is Coconut water, all-natural, best directly from the coconut (Yay for Mexico!:)
  5. Low Glycemic Index-Blood sugar rules -Sugar is my nemesis. I like it, don’t get me wrong…too much actually. In the first two trimesters of pregnancy, for me, sugar in any form, even fruits cause more indigestion and vomiting. During my last pregnancy I couldn’t even tolerate things like oatmeal and whole-wheat bread. There are a wealth of sites anymore that will tell you about the sugar levels/glycemic index of foods and for me the lower the better.
  6. Chlorophyll-Indigestion -Even when you’re being careful you’re bound to have days when you’re stomach just isn’t doing its job. For these times I use a concentrated chlorophyll that has mint extract to calm the acid. I can dilute it to my tolerance level and it’s been more effective than tums or milk of magnesia. I didn’t tolerate it well though in my first trimester.
  7. Laying on your left side- Aids digestion and blood circulation -Your stomach opening is on the left side and the main nerve and blood vessel that get “messed up” in pregnancy are on your right. So if you’re laying on the side that will aid your stomach and not smash one of your main nerves then it makes sense that it would help.
  8. No less than 8 hours of sleep- No, I’m not joking -Honestly, I do best with between 10-12 hours of sleep during the first trimester, but less than 8 is a recipe for vomiting. I’m assuming less sleep means more stomach acid, probably will have to look that up;)
  9. Avoiding “harsh foods” –spices, acidic, oily, chocolate, high-allergen, harder to digest (nuts, red meat, dark greens, refined foods/breads)-Welcome to Blah Land  -“Harsh foods” will probably mean different things to different people. Most people would probably say that spicy, oily and acidic foods make sense that they would cause more stomach upset. For me I’ve noticed that it’s those foods plus others. When pregnant my stomach does better if I avoid high-allergy foods (milk, nuts, eggs, seafood, chocolate, etc.) as well as refined foods and red meat. The last couple I have also had a hard time with harder to digest vegetables, mostly the dark green ones.
  10. Low impact/low stress- Just say “no” -If you’re not good at saying “No” or “Not now”, pregnancy is the perfect time to practice;) This is of course different for everyone due to personality and pre-pregnancy fitness levels but generally speaking high physical activity, at least during the first trimester, makes it harder to balance electrolytes and blood sugar. Also, I’m sure everyone has experienced biological issues to an extent, due to stress. Keep your stresses to a minimum, both physically and mentally/emotionally, doing only the highest priorities and your body (and babyJ) will thank you!

 

Energy:

  1. Sleep, Sleep and more Sleep -This cannot be emphasized enough! Have you ever heard the saying, “Your body HEALS when sleeping”? Well, it’s true in the sense that your body does more regeneration during sleep than any other time. So if you’re growing another HUMAN BEING inside of you, it only makes sense you’ll need some extra sleepJ!
  2. Exercise -The time and intensity of your exercise will vary according to your pre-pregnancy fitness and how your body reacts to pregnancy. However, even if you’re totally NOT an exerciser I would HIGHLY recommend SOME form of regular exercise. It makes such a HUGE difference, not only in your pregnancy overall health but in the ease of your delivery. For examples, during my first pregnancy I did some light aerobics but mostly speed walking and light weights. My second pregnancy I had a really hard time with my sciatic nerve so I switch to swimming. Third pregnancy was walking. Fourth pregnancy was swimming and walking. This pregnancy I’ve done mostly yoga, a bit of swimming and light aerobics and weights.
  3. Multi-vitamin -This is where I become a hypocrite. I KNOW by experience that multi-vitamins make a HUGE difference in my energy levels. However, I consistently throw them up if I try to take them before my second trimesterL Thus, I choose tiredness over staring into a porcelain bowl, until I’m between 5-6 months along.
  4. Blood Sugar Balance -If it’s too low I’m tired, if it’s too high I will be tired in about 10 minutes. Going back to the glycemic index thing, if my blood sugar isn’t staying at a good level I tend to crash. Actually, I can tell I’m getting hungry when I start to fall asleep and I know after I have something sugary I will start to fall asleep in about 20-30 minutes.

Body Changes:

  1. Expect and Accept -Everyone’s body will have different changes during pregnancy but the universal one is a big stomach. Be ready for it. Know that your body will change and accept it. Notice that I did not say you have to EMBRACE it. I really admire the pregnant women that I’ve seen who do truly embrace the changes and see it as a different kind of beauty. I am not one of those women though. But knowing that changes will come and also knowing they’re temporary helps be cope.
  2. Get Educated  -Whether you’re into doing everything from a medical stand-point or prefer a more natural approach to your health, education is the key. This will help you not only know what to expect, if it is “normal”, but also what you can do about it. I love this point because it makes me feel like I’m an agent and can make some improvements/changes, not a victim that just takes whatever comes along.

Emotions

  1. Be Gentle -I am not an advocate of sitting on your rear-end and allowing people to wait on you just because you’re pregnant. However, I do think one should set their level of personal expectations a bit lower or modify them at least to be realistic to needs. That means knowing your limits, and here comes the hypocrite in me again, not getting to the point where you break your limit before you relax or take breaks.
  2. Communicate -This is a hard one for me,  as I’ve mentioned in another post. Generally speaking I often ignore my own needs so getting to the point of communicating them to other people….well, let’s just say it’s not one of my strong points 😉 But then, my bad habits have helped me learn a lot about how important it is to communicate clearly what you really need from people! Especially in terms of your spouse and family, let them know what you need and expect. Of course you will first have to know your own needs first and then find/know the best way of communicating them with your closest associates. This is not being a baby, nor should you be manipulative or pull guilt-trips, this is clearly telling people what your limits are and where they can help you. If you do it in a respectful and clear way it will be one of your biggest ways to lesson stress.
  3. Step Back -Sometimes I’m just irrational. When I’m pregnant I think I’m that way more often. It has really helped me to realize this and when I feel that I’m going to explode in any emotional way I need to get away from people. For one, when I feel out of control emotionally anything I say will probably not be helpful, maybe not even coherent. Secondly, high emotions tend to breed high emotions so if I’m that way I will most likely influence others around me to be highly emotional and that’s just messy. It’s best to take a walk, say a prayer, take a nap, do whatever it takes to calm down a bit (chocolate, anyone?;) Then if I’m still feeling too emotional I journal my feelings so that I can sort them out and see what I need to do about it.

Spirituality

  1. Keep up your habits (or start new ones) -Keeping up your personal devotion habits are an absolute must during pregnancy. I would even go as far to say as double them up. If you usually do scripture reading in the morning, do it morning AND night. If you usually just pray when you wake up and at bedtime, pray three times a day. You are growing a body with a spirit inside your own body, it is essential to stay as spiritually strong as possible.
  2. Be Still -Whether you do full-out meditation or just take a daily walk in nature, learning to relax your body and concentrate your mind is very powerful. Sometimes all I seem to find time for are a few deep breaths and a prayer but it is AMAZING the difference one can feel when we stop all the activity and remember that we are spiritual beings.

So that about sums it up! These suggestions are of course taken from my personal experiences, and everyone is different, but I hope you can find something useful:)

 

Loaded: A Lesson in Affliction

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As I came around the corner to the laundry room it was if her little face was saying, “Come on Mom! This laundry thing is fun-stop complaining!”

So I think I’ve mentioned before that we have a Family Night each week in which we have some gospel learning time, usually a treat, and usually some fun activity to do together. We try for Monday nights and tonight I kept thinking back to two talks I had recently read/heard that seemed to be hollering at me:)

The first was a talk that was given in our Worldwide General Conference that our church holds every 6 months, you can read the whole thing here.

The second was a short talk that we read in our devotional this morning during homeschool, you can read the whole thing here.

Both talks covered the topic of challenges or afflictions, and the necessity of having trials in our lives. I thought back with a bit of shame to the middle of last night when I found myself praying, ” Can’t you just make her sleep through the night?” as I sat up with Button, whom has suddenly become an insomniac after  over a year of being my best sleeper.

There are bigger things though, and there have been times when I think, “Can’t I have a break?” But then what would I be learning?

So over the last few years I’ve tried to change my prayers during times of trial from “Why? Can’t you make it stop?” to, “Ok, Lord. Show me what I’m supposed to be learning. And please give me the strength to pull through this better than I was.”

It’s not a perfect science, for sure, but it’s amazing what my change in attitude has done for my ability to confront challenge and also to trust and rely on the Lord.

Anyway, I created this The Power of the Load as part of our Family Night tonight, trying to explain it in a way that my kiddos would understand. Well, at least they thought the old lady doing weights and the baby reading a book were funny;)

I Lost it at 3

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And then there were three….

 

When I had 2 kids I felt right from the beginning that it was doable. Yes, tricky at times but completely doable.

I don’t remember feeling completely overwhelmed by the prospect of parenting and keeping up with my other various responsibilities. I also felt like I could get my body back. I gained the least amount of weight with my second pregnancy and had stayed pretty active the entire pregnancy. A couple stretch marks (yes, two actually) but other than that by the time my second child was 9 months old I felt like I was as in as good of shape as I had been before kids.

But I completely LOST IT at 3. I don’t know what I did wrong or what happened exactly but I feel like from child #3 on I have never been able to get completely back up in the saddle.

Yes, I’m still on the horse….mostly….most days…..but it’s a very precarious ride and I feel like I’m wearing silk pajamas on a leather saddle with no reins to grab onto….the horse definitely has no bit….it’s wild.

That’s also about the point I mysteriously started finding things like gray hairs, hidden stretch marks in crazy places, love handles and extra “padding” around my middle, not to mention the ingrained purple bags under my eyes and my increased urge to lash out irrationally.

That’s when homeschooling became a daily battle. Discipline a guessing game. And a clean house a figment of my imagination. Where did the order go? I’m an organized person….right? Aren’t I?

So, at the moment we have 4 kids and we feel like there is at least one more waiting on us….maybe more….Some days I get all motivated and psyched up and think , “I CAN DO THIS!!!!!”

About an hour later, while battling my 8yr. old over a math lesson, trying to keep my 5 year old out of the mud when she’s supposed to be working on her handwriting (come on, at least during school can we avoid filling the entire patio with mud pies? :/), finding my 3yr. old in a flooded bathroom with her messed up pants around her ankles and WAY more than enough toilet paper to clean it up with (when did she even GO to the bathroom, I thought she was doing phonics on the computer??), only to come out of there to find my 1 year old has somehow figured out how to climb into the kitchen cupboard, dump out all the garbage in the garbage can and is now eating who knows what out of it….it’s at times like this I find myself thinking, “What in the world was I thinking? THERE IS NO WAY ON EARTH I CAN DO THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Well, I’m right. Actually both statements are correct if I tweak it a bit. I, personally, cannot do this. It is just not humanly possible.

The thing is it really doesn’t matter how many parenting books I read, organizational webinars I listen too, or homeschooling blogs I follow….when it comes down to it, despite my best efforts…life is still going to happen and I’m still going to mess up. Big time.

So what does that mean? Should I quit? Should I just give up and go with the flow?

No, of course not. It just means that I am me. And my kids are each uniquely made as well.

It’s like mixing up a salad. Different ingredients, some of which may not even seem like they should go together, but a really good salad has a lot of surprising variety. The ingredients work together because they are put together by a chef that knows their unique taste and texture.

So here’s the thing. I’m me. You mix me with the members of my family and there is going to be sweet, sour, soft, crunchy…. mostly nutty. But the Chef knows what He is doing because He knows each of us better than we know ourselves.

Are families are not by accident. This is God’s Plan. We have families to fulfill his divine purposes and we are put together ON PURPOSE.

I am here to learn. To learn to be more like God. And that is what each of my children are here for too.

We are ALL disciples…followers, learners, willing students….I just forget that part sometimes…ok, LOTS of times.

I’m so busy instructing, teaching…ok, ok bossing…that I’m not even opening my mind and heart to what I’m supposed to be learning.
Yeah, there is always the standard answer, Patience. Right, well as parents we definitely know we could use some of that.

But what about charity? The ability to love as God loves, just as we are, good or bad, right or wrong,….He loves us. Always and forever.

What about meekness? The ability to be teachable. To look at every situation with curiosity and desire to learn and accept situations and people as they are.

What about submissiveness? The ability to give my will up for the better good, maybe better for me, maybe better for everyone. Trusting that the Lord knows all…and thus knows best.

These are all characteristics that are naturally inherent in my children. Yet, sadly, I tend to think I’m the Mom, I know best….really? Always?

Worst of all, by my callous, prideful words and behaviors I am shaping another generation to leave their child-like natures behind and follow in MY footsteps….wait, aren’t I supposed to be leading them to Christ?

I already know, I don’t know what I’m doing. I already know, I lost it. So, stop the fight.

Let humility take over rather than pride. See my children as God sees them and love them that way too. Let them teach me. Instead of constantly thinking, “I cannot do this.” I should be thinking, “Show me how to do this.”

There are times when I have actually been able to embrace these principles. Let go of myself, my thoughts, my worries, my pride….and open my mind to learning and guidance. It always works. An answer always comes. Sooner or later, all at once or gradual…it comes. And many times….from the mouth of babes…

So, maybe that’s part of God’s plan too. I HAD to lose it. I had to get to the point where I felt like I know nothing and I can do nothing, so I could let Him guide me back to where I’m meant to be.

When Mama’s not happy….

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Ok, I promise I’m still talking about discipline, but let’s finish the sentence shall we? Well, in truth we could put a myriad of phrases but the one I’m thinking of is, “When Mama’s not happy, NOBODY IS!” Yep, sad, but true.

The truth of the matter is ladies, that a million other variables contribute to a happy home but one of the MOST IMPORTANT CONTRIBUTIONS IS YOUR ATTITUDE! You. Mom.   Youhave the majority of the say when it comes to what kind of spirit will be found in your home! I know! So amazing and overwhelming at the same time.

Fortunately, we have some amazing examples of the woman’s equivalent of Job. These ladies are AMAZING! They are a pillar of light not only to their own families but to the world.

But I’ve noticed that these ladies of Patience and Optimism seem to becoming about as rare as the pearls of which their lives reflect.

Now, what in the world does this have to do with discipline? Well, let’s remember that Proverbs tells us TWICE (21:9 and 25:24, must have been important!)

“ It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman [and] in a wide house.”

Oh dear…..again, sad, but true. I mean, have you ever been around a brawling woman? Unfortunately, I, myself, have been that brawling woman more times than I care to count and I don’t even like to be around myself when I’m like that!

So let’s think of that brawling woman in the arena of discipline….Well, there are two very important factors here:

1.)    If your kids don’t even want to be around you, they are definitely not going to want to listen to you or respect you either (unless it’s out of fear and do we really want that?)

2.)    If YOU are NOT DEMONSTRATING SELF-DISCIPLINE than how can you EXPECT it of THEM?

So what’s the deal? What is our attitude problem? Well, I think it’s as different women are but I think generally speaking the root of a bad attitude can be found in one (or a combination) of three places:

1.)    Skewed Priorities

Why didn’t I put “overwhelmed” or “on overload”? Well, cause to me that sounds like someone “put” those responsibilities on you. The majority of us, women in today’s world, choose their activities, obligations and responsibilities. We could argue on this a lot I’m sure, but all I will say is that even if you didn’t out-right choose something, you chose it by not choosing something else.

2.)    Bombardment

There are times in our lives that life just happens. The choices of others or other situations of which we have little to no control over become a main or the main obstacle to overcome. This can shape us in the way we choose to let it.

3.)    Health

There are also times or even life-times that are brought off-keel by health issues. These issue’s can be brought on by ourselves, others and sometimes by things that we can’t explain or control. This can be tricky because there are times when MORE than an “attitude adjustment” is needed.

So, now what do we do? We know there is a problem and maybe we can pin-point it and maybe we can’t. But how do we CHANGE? Well, this is what has worked for me:

1.       God

You may think I’m redundant on this but really, wouldn’t you want someone to help that knows all about you, even your potential AND can see the WHOLE picture? Asking for God’s guidance and help can lead you to finding the cause of your attitude issue, and also the solution for it. Sometimes the situation can’t or won’t change but WE can and with God’s guidance and strength, WE WILL.

2.       Slow Down

Ladies, why are we here? What is our purpose here on earth? Yes, our own potential must be reached, but I would argue that we will learn and grow more through our roles as wives and mothers than through any other endeavor. I know for myself that this is true. I have to remind myself that my priorities are my God, my husband and my family. Everything else can wait. I love this quote:

“What do you suppose pilots do when they encounter turbulence?… Professional pilots understand that there is an optimum turbulence penetration speed that will minimize the negative effects of turbulence. And most of the time that would mean to reduce your speed. The same principle applies also to speed bumps on a road.

Therefore, it is good advice to slow down a little, steady the course, and focus on the essentials when experiencing adverse conditions.” Pres. Dieter F. Uchdorf, Counselor in the Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

3.       Get Help

If you have yet to find the cause of your bad attitude then it’s time to seek professional help. There is just no reason for you and your family to go on suffering. No worries! There is nothing to be embarrassed about. Sometimes is simply a matter of “re-wiring” and balancing hormones and chemicals in the body. The body is like a machine, sometimes it needs a little adjusting.

Believe me, as I started studying these aspects of discipline I felt as if someone had knifed my heart and then wrenched it around in there for good measure. Ladies, I’m not preaching cause I have no room to talk. This is a daily and sometimes minute to minute struggle for me (You can tell cause posted before on it:) . But let’s rally together, as women and as mothers and make the world a better place, one home at a time.

Fill ‘Er Up!

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So I promised in my last post that I would explain the crazy card-stock people standing on my kitchen counter….well, would you believe that they are part of our discipline training?

I’ve used various methods for teaching discipline training but it usually turned out that when it all came out in the wash I was using a punishment/reward program that was only an extrinsic motivation. I didn’t and don’t want that. I want my kids to WANT to OBEY, to WANT to be GOOD. Not because they want something in return or are trying to avoid a bad consequence. I want them to do good for the sake of BEING good. To FEEL what is the right thing to do. Does that make sense? Yes, its ideological and asking a lot of small children but I’m also all about reaching for the moon and at least catching some stars along the way.

One night as I was washing the dishes ( when I do my pondering 🙂 The thought came to me (yep, can’t take credit for it:) of revamping an idea that my husband had used for his team-training modules at work. For his example, he had used buckets and each team member was to fill it will nice things they noticed about others (there was more to it than that but you get the jist). Anyway, I thought that if I could help my kids visualize what their behaviors caused (or contributed to) in themselves and others than maybe it would help them want to make better choices.

So over the course of several Family Counsels this is what we did. Note: when referring to “good” and “bad”, it was based on our family rules and religious beliefs.

FC 1: Had a discussion/devotional on covenants or promises that we make to our Heavenly Father. When we are Christian people what do we commit to do and be?

FC 2: Go rock hunting!

FC 3: Make our own “mini-me”. Using manila folders the kids (and I) drew and cut out a picture that we made of ourselves and taped it to an glass jar full of rocks/beans (we couldn’t find enough rocks)

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FC 4: Discuss how our spirit can FEEL good choices and bad choices. Also, when we make good choices we can have the Holy Spirit to guide us and we have more happiness as a result of both.

FC 5: Discuss that our jar is like our spirit, when we do good things it fills up, bad things take away. Explained our goals of trying to keep our own and others jars filled up during the next week. If someone makes a bad decision then they must take rocks out of their own jar and anyone else that was involved in the decision (sometimes the whole family!). Then they need to think of a way they can fill those jars back up (“I’m sorry” is a start but more action is required). Also, if someone is “caught” doing good things without being “motivated” then they get to add to their jar and anyone else involved in their making a good decision (usually Mom is happier!)

Of course, this isn’t a perfect model of life. Also, the first day was a bit of a hassle trying to manage all the jar nonsense. I really thought about giving up in the first couple hours but even though it was involved and seemingly fluffy…. For us, I think it fulfilled it’s purpose.

By the third day, I could see my kids realizing how their behaviors affected not only them, but others. This time they could SEE a model of what happened to their spirit. For the first couple of days we really focused on how someone FELT when they made a good or bad decision so they could recognize that they could be guided, if they chose to be. I was especially impressed with how much understanding my 3 year old gained in this process- it seemed that  a light bulb went off for her when she saw that SHE could choose how her day would go.

We still have such a long way to go and this is only the beginning of what we’ve been doing as we concentrate on discipline (stay tuned for more posts on our triumphs and failures!), but it was a step or two in the direction we want to be going and that is always so encouraging!

So, what types of activities have helped your family understand or become more disciplined?

Love Gone Wrong?

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So I’ll tell you what this picture has to do with this post on my NEXT post….hehehe!

This is the beginning of what I’ll call a “Unit Study” on Discipline. Funny how every few years I have to read up on things I thought I had already read up on! Discipline is a struggle for me. I want to have things run like the meaning of the word implies…learning, guiding, following….Discipline and disciple have the same root word!

Unfortunately, I have a tendency to punish rather than discipline. I’m a control freak and perfectionist and I expect a lot from people, especially my children. I also am not naturally inclined to showing affection. So you can imagine what this combination can concoct….I’ll quote my sister, “One hot mess!”

When my first child was still an infant I read up on discipline and thought I had found my methods. I refreshed my reading every year but felt mostly comfortable with how things were going. Add a few more kids, different stages, several multi-cultural moves and other fluctuations and over the past year I’ve felt like I’m back on step one of the stairs.

Needless to say, I’m reading, praying, searching, pondering, and listening a lot and in a lot of different arenas to once again hone my skills and find what will work for our family. I’m finding that mostly I’m just needing to re-prioritize and slow down and remember that being a Mom is really the most important thing I can do right now.

To start on my journey I went back to “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. Have you read this? I would say it’s a must read for all married couples and especially if you have children. The 5 “love languages” are words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, physical touch and quality time. The theory is that each person “communicates” and feels love in different ways. For example, since I first found this book I have always been a “Acts of Service” kind of gal. All the other languages are nice and some very important, but if you DO something for me, especially without being asked, I feel incredibly loved.

The website: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/ is wonderful as well. It explains the basics and also has an assessment that you can do with your spouse and children (I help my kids take it) that will help you determine what your main “love languages” are. I try to do the assessment every 6 months with both my husband and children, it is amazing how much can change in 6 months!

Each person in my family is very different and thus the way they feel loved is different too. This is a very helpful tool for me especially since I have one child that has a primary love language as physical touch and another as receiving gifts….these are on the bottom of my list! It’s been so good to remind myself that just because it is not a priority to me does not mean that I can ignore them. Actually, I must make them a priority so that those members of my family feel loved in the way that best fits their needs.

It is simply amazing to watch the immediate difference and spiritual uplift that comes into your life and home by focusing directly on showing love to people in the way they love it the most! I’ve found that when this is a priority, discipline flows much more naturally and everyone is happier.

So, what’s YOUR love language? Have you found that showing love in a specific way helps your relationship(s)?