My birth plan

There’s the hospital birth plan and the thing I really want to happen.

What I really envision happening is for my water to break at some point, hopefully st home, though many women don’t have waters break before labor, and to labor for many hours (Micah was 30 hours, and Kade was 19 hours) during a calm day, and then have the baby in the middle of the night while the children are sleeping. 

And I want to be listening to praise music, smelling essential oils, and praying. I want to have a quiet labor in low lighting and end with deep low long breaths and a loose relaxed jaw.

I envision baby breathing just fine with great color and muscle tone and lots of hair like her brothers had at birth.

This is how I prepare for labor. I play it out in my head. I conceive what could be, in many scenarios. And I pray.

If it turns out differently – quicker, requiring surgery, requiring help, being late, baby struggling etc – I’ve imagined those scenarios too and how I might deal with them. 

God is in control, not me. Thank the Lord for that!

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The most beautiful time as a woman 

I’m convinced the most feminine time for a woman is when she feels the least attractive. Allow me to explain.

Many woman I know feel like I do when they are pregnant. Heavy. Swollen. Changing. Dealing with uncomfortable comments from some other people – most people, especially women, are full of grace for this time, because they’ve gone through it – but well-intentioned people can say strange things.

Exhibit A.

*I tell someone I’m expecting our third prize in January and pat my belly* 

A wonderfully kind man says “congratulations, and thank you for saving us the embarrassment of asking or wondering if you’re just fat.”

I laugh and say “yes, that’s how I feel.” 

My husband shakes his head for the man, embarrassed on behalf of the male gender species. He can’t help it.

I’m not angry, not one bit. I understand some people just don’t know what to say. And it’s ironic albeit a little more painful to hear, because it’s exactly how I’m feeling: fat!

I was talking with another gal this weekend who told me her pregnancies were a series of planning driving trips around her tendency to throw up. How difficult!! I get it! There is no way to feel good if that’s how your body responds!

And another who told me about her 19 hour labor which ended in emergency c-section and the aftermath of recovery.

Another who recalled her inability to shed the last 20 pounds gained after children.

And my own experience of needing to heal after delivering babies. I remember having my first child, and a male friend who came to visit right after couldn’t hide his surprise when he saw my belly was still looking as if I were six months pregnant. This is not, afterall, how the magazines and moves show us life happens! In the world of mommy makeovers and c-section tummy tucks, women should look more attractive after childbirth, right?

When the reality is, we are red-eyed from sleepless nights, weepy and puffy from crying alongside our new infants and the wave of unpredictable hormones, smelly from spit-up and blow-out diapers, and sore in all the areas one might otherwise take for granted that make the most basic of human functions a challenge. 

But this is when a woman really truly shines. Her body was broken in the moments and months she was giving life. Eve’s sin made pregnancy and childbirth painful. It is a sacrifice in so many ways. And in the aftermath of the birth, her broken body pushes on to nurture that tiny human, robbing Mom of nutrients her own body otherwise would appreciate using to restore all that child-growing stole. 

She nurses the baby. She changes diapers. She sacrifices sleep to provide comfort and more nutrition. And it’s her privilege to do it. 

And then child-rearing is an experience of learning to let go. As the physical grip loosens, a mother’s spiritual grip and dependence on God must tighten. So she focuses more and more on the transforming power of God, out of her own benefit, but much to benefit her own children. She is desperately focused on trying to exemplify and point those tiny souls towards Christ, so they know on whom they can rely. Because moms know we don’t live forever. Our days are numbered, and one days these souls who broke our bodies will have to fend for themselves.

A woman is most beautiful and feminine in her brokenness.

Top 10 Do Nots for Homeschool Moms

It’s easy to get wrapped up in curriculum choices, programs, groups, and activities in homeschool life. After all, these items can help you create structure and rhythm that are helpful to raising children. Now that it’s summer, let’s emphasize what not to do next year.

  1. Don’t discard the main goal: grow children who love God and love other people. There are so many mandates in that sentence, however, let this be the center of your schooling. Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his deeds are pure and right. Do the hard thing. Shape your kids. Show them their Creator and how His hand covers your lives. Maybe you can memorize math equations but not really know how to work them… but you can’t fake this one!
  2. Don’t let curriculum dictate your goals. Curriculum is a tool. It’s not God. Curriculum can’t know your family, your child’s capabilities, nor your life situations.
  3. Don’t get caught up in “keeping up with the jones'”. Expect exceptional work from your children at the level to which they are working. You know in your heart of what they are capable. Just because Sally next door can (insert skill) doesn’t mean your child should have to right now. Be patient in the process.
  4. Don’t accept work done half-heartedly. Measure your expectations fairly for each individual child, but get that child in the habit of doing their task with mastery. Success happens via thoroughness, resilience, persistence and creativity around problems.
  5. Don’t accept a poor attitude. Poor attitudes are ruinous, inconsiderate and unacceptable. Allowing a poor attitude will follow your children like a storm into adulthood. Expecting a good attitude teaches your children how to reframe situations in healthy ways and look for the positive. It makes them less selfish and invites more joy into their hearts.
  6. Don’t take the easy way out. It’s faster for you to do things for your children sometimes. It’s smoother to bribe or cajole but it reaps laziness, boredom and dependency in your kids. Encourage your kids to do hard work, and see their confidence grow, their talents deepen, and their ability to acquire new skills accelerate.
  7. Don’t slip from your routine. Life happens, but protect the time you have for schooling and do your best to preserve your schedule. Even unschoolers need to devote hours to a school schedule while running a home and meeting life’s demands!
  8. Don’t beat yourselves up! If you don’t meet a goal, maintain something, or your kids are moving slower than you’d like, take heart, there are so many ways to recover!
  9. Don’t go it alone! Join a co-op, or if you don’t like a co-op for your kids then at least join a mothers support and information group!
  10. Don’t lose yourself in your kids. Remember and honor your needs. You’ll be a better teacher if you’re spending time with God, and are well rested, fed and encouraged, still engaged in your own hobbies or intellectual person?

When Kids Get Sick: Remedies, Symptoms, & Early Indicators

When babies get sick, do all you can
To make them well; cancel your plans

Soothe their bellies, get a pail
Lower their fevers and bathe them well

Find your home remedies, Tell them it’s ok
Boost those immune systems; to God, you will surely pray

– Robyn Cooper

Natural Remedies

Though this post is going to focus less on remedies and more on symptoms, I want you to think about what you do when your kids get sick.  Do you run to medicine right away?  When your kids get a fever, do you try to lower it immediately, or stop their runny noses?

Since becoming a mother, I do far more research about health and wellness than I used to do.  In my family, we look to essential oils, vinegars, herbs, probiotics, healthy herbal chicken stocks, tepid baths, mixtures to put into the bath, laughter, and getting more rest and sleep.  We also encourage nursing more often and say our prayers and thanksgiving.

Believe me, there is a time and place for over the counter or prescription medicine, but the body is amazing and wants to heal itself, so I only use these in dire situations.  Our bodies function the way we do for a reason.

How the Body Communicates through Symptoms and Moods

I’ve come to realize how the human body communicates.  Just like we communicate our feelings and thoughts through words, sounds, and body language, the body communicates how it’s feeling through its sensory system, desire for input, output, and it communicates with your mind and spirit too.

The body communicates through its sensory system (how you physically feel):

  • energy levels
  • body temperature
  • muscle aches
  • how your throat feels
  • headaches
  • chest/ organ pain

The body communicates through input:

  • appetite
  • hearing loss or sensitivity
  • sensitivity or loss of smell
  • the way food tastes, or the type of food cravings you have
  • how much sleep or quiet time you need

The body communicates through output:

  • mucous membranes
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • excrement
  • blood
  • skin (rashes, pimples, dryness, oiliness, ailments, tone, paleness)
  • eye brightness or dullness
  • the color of your gums

The body communicates with your mind and spirit:

  • your instincts
  • mood

Surely, you can think of other ways the body communicates.  If so, please comment below.

Early Indicators in Babies and Toddlers

It’s easy for most people to tell when they are getting sick.  It’s harder to tell when babies are getting sick though.  For babies and toddlers, some of the early indicators tend to seem more subtle because kids either don’t talk yet, or they are too young to isolate what’s really bothering them.  If you learn what your child’s early indicators are, you can start addressing the body’s needs earlier with immune boosting remedies.  Some of the early indicators include:

  • grumpiness
  • wanting to nurse more often
  • changes in sleeping patterns
  • changes in appetite
  • changes in the stool’s consistency, color and/ or odor (I know… gross!)

Some of the later indicators in child illnesses, when you’re in the height of a common virus, include the obvious: fever, vomiting, diarrhea, sweat, crying, skin rashes and more.  Since babies and toddlers have a difficult time communicating that their heads or tummies hurt, you have to play ‘health detective’ and try to stay ahead of their illness.

I keep a health log for my son.  I know how often he tends to get ill, how high a typical fever runs, how long a typical virus lasts and what his other symptoms are.  I can tell the pediatrician what and how he’s been doing down to the half hour.  What might be even more important, is I know exactly how he is when he’s well.

If you haven’t yet, start a health log for your children.

You can use the notepad in your phone, for example, and keep a separate note for each child.  Write the date, and what symptoms you notice.  Keep your notes short and simple.  My notes look like this:

  • 9/26 doc kute confirmed hand foot mouth disease – said this was the height of the illness and he can be w/others Monday (9/29) but wait longer.  Said only possible to get 1 virus at a time. 28.6 pounds.
  • 9/25 rash on body and bottom of foot, mouth blister back of throat, no fever
  • 9/24 saw blisters on his bum, no fever
  • 9/23 no fever
  • 9/22 101.4 fever 9am throw up 3 times till 10:30a
  • 102.3 at 12:30p
  • 103.3 at 3:30p
  • 102.4 at 5:30p throw up once
  • 102.0 at 8:30p

Keep doctor’s records in a binder at home, or scan a digital copy into a computer, just to keep organized.

Finally, log what medications he’s been prescribed and given.  Basically, just try your best to remove as much of the guesswork as possible.

Play health detective for your family, learn about natural remedies, and be proactive about learning about common illnesses and symptoms.  Everyone will remain healthier this way.

If you have any tips or tricks for good health, please share them.

Thanks and love,

Robyn

Night-time Wind-down Meditation

Many moms ask about how to get their kids to bed at night.  I’ve taught several seminars on transitioning a kid from a shared family bed to their own bed, but thought it would be helpful for you to hear about a night time wind down meditation I do with my son.

Sometimes kids don’t know how to get calm, so it helps to do calming things at night that help guide them into a calm state.  We have our own routine that consists mostly of reading for at least a half hour, a prayer, and kisses and hugs.  Depending on my son’s mood on a given evening we may decide to burn energy with high-activity fun before we read, a warm bath, or lengthening or shortening reading, but the basics stay the same.  The key is to be consistent, so your child learns there are reliable cues for bedtime.

In addition to establishing a wonderful bed time routine, here is a meditation you can do with your child.  Recite the following calmly and softly with lights out, or with a nightlight or candle if your child is afraid of the dark.  Just make sure to not leave a candle burning at night without you there!

“We had a beautiful day today. (You might mention the fun things you did together today).
Now it’s night time and we feel calm and relaxed.
Breathe deep, in and out one.  (Breathe and out with them).
Breathe deep, in and out two.  (Breathe and out with them).
Breathe deep, in and out three.  (Breathe and out with them).
Ah, that feels nice.  (Pause).

Now your head feels heavy. (Touch the top of their head).
Your forehead is relaxed. (Touch their forehead).
Your eyebrows hang loose. (Touch each eye brow).
Your eyes are closed softly. (Touch each set of eye lashes lightly).

Breathe deep, in and out one.  (Breathe and out with them).
Breathe deep, in and out two.  (Breathe and out with them).
Breathe deep, in and out three.  (Breathe and out with them).

Your nose is just perfect. (Touch that cute nose lightly).
Your jaw is light and loose. (Touch both their cheeks by their jaw bone).
Your tongue just barely touches the back of your teeth, and your lips are calm. (Touch their lips lightly).
You release your neck (Touch their neck).
Your shoulders relax.  (Touch both shoulders).
Your arms hang lazily.  (Run your hands lightly down both arms).
Your hands are open to good dreams.  (Run your hands down their hands and fingers lightly).

Breathe deep, in and out one.  (Breathe and out with them).
Breathe deep, in and out two.  (Breathe and out with them).
Breathe deep, in and out three.  (Breathe and out with them).

Your heart feels full of love because I love you so much, and so does [name family members or friends].
Your belly is calm and feels nice, and you breathe deep.

Breathe deep, in and out one.  (Breathe and out with them).
Breathe deep, in and out two.  (Breathe and out with them).
Breathe deep, in and out three.  (Breathe and out with them).

Your legs feel loose and free.
Your feet are just perfect.

Breathe deep, in and out one.  (Breathe and out with them).
Breathe deep, in and out two.  (Breathe and out with them).
Breathe deep, in and out three.  (Breathe and out with them).

And now it’s time to relax.  Sweet dreams. (Give a little kiss and hug, but don’t make them get up nor out of bed).” – Robyn Cooper

It may take several times for your child to settle down as you are doing this little meditation with them.  If you don’t meditate with your child now, the concept will be new for him or her.  Give it time.  Meditation is a wonderful way for you both to relax at night and get in the mood for sleep.  Of course, I recommend you do leisure reading and prayer beforehand, and use this recitation as the final step.

Let me know what you think, and if, after trying this meditation a few times, it helps with your night time routine.

Love, Robyn Cooper

To Vaccinate, or Not to Vaccinate: That is the question – Series

It’s September 14th, 2013.  I thought I’d write a series of articles on vaccinations (“vax”) for 2 reasons: to force me to do an even deeper dive into the topic myself, and to open this topic up for open and friendly discussion among our friends and to the public.  Here are the only rules I will put forth for this online discussion: (1) Be kind, (2) Only share information if you can cite your source.  

Disclaimer and digression:  I am not trying to start a wildfire debate.  I’m being investigative, not argumentative.  I’m being open-minded, not biased.  I’m not a healthcare professional.  If you believe that only healthcare professionals can correctly understand published data, and will therefore dispose of my reported findings, then you may as well stop reading this blog post.  I feel, in order to accurately and fairly assess whether I should or shouldn’t vaccinate, the data should come from published 3rd-party peer-reviewed research studies.  At the end of this investigation, don’t fret over our choice to vax or not to vax.  My husband, a physical chemist, will also scrutinize whatever I show him.  He’s been trained to do exactly that.  The point being, the choice regarding each vaccination will be thoroughly dissected from all sides.  Capisce?  By the way, I posted a date at the top of this article just to create my own timestamp for me.

What I want to explore:

  1. The current vaccine schedule vs what I received as a child of the 80’s
  2. The difference in non-vax vs vax kids pertaining to (a) the rate of contracted illness and severity of its symptoms, (b) rate of morbidity, (c) rate of contracted disease and severity of its symptoms
  3. The impact of the various vax ingredients
  4. How the immune system works and it’s efficacy when stimulated naturally vs unnaturally

Today’s Topic: 1. The current vaccine schedule vs what I received as a child of the 80’s

Now let’s break down each topic one at a time.  Firstly, what is the current vaccination schedule?  See here for The CDC’s full MMWR supplement (birth-18 years, catch-up, adult, adult medical and other indications, adult contraindications and precautions) (for healthcare professionals) [1MB, 21 pages].

I counted a minimum of 35 different doses given in the above cited 2013 CDC-recommended schedule.  How does this differ over time in America’s history?  Source for the info below (also, see this timeline from the same site).

  • In the 40’s: “A combined vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough)… [plus] smallpox” (though smallpox is no longer recommended because “the risks from complication of vaccination became less acceptable to the medical establishment and to the public”)
  • In the 50’s: add polio. “The specific vaccine used has changed since then, but polio vaccine remains on the current schedule”
  • In the 70’s: add “The combined measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine”
  • In the 80’s: add “The Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) vaccine”
  • In the 90’s: add “A vaccine for hepatitis B”
  • Since ’95, add “chickenpox (varicella) and hepatitis A”.  “The first rotavirus vaccine added to the schedule was removed because of an association between the vaccine and intussusception, a type of bowel obstruction. It was later replaced with a different rotavirus vaccine that has no association with the condition.”
  • In the 2010’s: add Meningococcal, Influenza, Rotavirus, Pneumococcal, Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

As of today, September 14, 2013, the CDC cites 28 different vaccine-preventable illnesses/ diseases.  It made me curious about how many infectious diseases exist – Some sources listed over 100 infectious diseases, and other sources cite over 200.  Here’s a list of emerging diseases from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Share your thoughts in comments below. I’ll write posts on the other 3 topics as I address them.

Love, Robyn