Why I Chose My Family Over My Career

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Today I made the decision to put my family, and my dear son, before my career. This decision wasn’t hard for me, but at the same time, it also wasn’t something that I could just brush off.

To give a little background on my situation, I have been going to college for just around 7 years. I have a degree in Health Care Administration with a business minor and I am finishing up my degree in Nursing. I have wanted to be a nurse for as long as I can remember. I feel like nursing is something that I am being called to do.

I took a semester off of nursing school so that I could deliver my son and spend the first few months of his life devoted to him. I made the incredibly difficult decision to go back to school this fall. I have 3 semesters left in the nursing program, and I know that I need to finish. I am so close, I cannot simply give up now. At the same time, I do not want to miss any moments with my son or future children.

Since I am finishing up my degree, I thought that it would be a good idea to put some feelers out and see what the job market looks like. I applied for a job as a Health Unit Coordinator/CNA at the hospital in my town. The position is on the OB floor. My dream job is to be a labor and delivery nurse, so I knew that I had to apply for the position.

Before I applied for this position, my husband and I had decided that I would stay home, raise our children, and not go back to work until all of our kids were in school. I didn’t think I would hear anything back about the position because OB jobs are difficult to get. Surprisingly, I did hear back and I got a phone interview. One hour after the phone interview, they called me back and wanted to set up an in-person interview with the hiring director. I accepted the interview.

I spent the rest of the night feeling completely lost and torn. This job would be a great opportunity to get my foot in the door and gain experience working in OB. The job would also mean that I would need to be away from my son 3 extra days a week, on top of school. My heart was so heavy at the thought of being away from my son more than I needed to be.

I believe that I have been called to be a nurse, but above all, I have been called to be a wife and a mother. I am the one who is supposed to raise my children and be their main caretaker. I am the one who is supposed to be there for them when they are sick and need extra snuggles. I want to be there when they take their first steps. I want to teach them everything that I know about life and the Lord and Savior. It is my responsibility to nurture and protect my children. I am a mom, and to me that is so much more than just a title.

I know that it will not always be easy to be a stay at home mom, but I know that I am making the right decision. I will always put my family before my career, even if that means giving up an opportunity to pursue my dream job. No job is worth more than being present in my son’s, and future children’s, lives.

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The Case for Children

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Children are a blessing from God. “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” -Psalm 127:3-5 ESV

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If children are such a blessing from the Lord, why do we judge others who have a lot of children? Why do we, as a society, tend to look down on families who have children close together? These questions have recently been weighing on my heart and I felt that I needed to address them.

I just found out that one of my friends is pregnant with her second child. Her first child is around 8 months old and she is now around 10 weeks pregnant. When I learned of this news my heart was happy and I felt much joy for their expanding family. Unfortunately, not everyone sees children as a blessing, especially when they are so close together.

People may think, why would they do something like that? Why would they want to have another baby so soon? Shouldn’t they try and space out their children a little more? In my opinion, no. As the above scripture states, “children are a blessing from the Lord.” We should celebrate the life of every child.

There are so many families in the world who want desperately to have a child of their own, yet we place judgement on those who choose to have many children. Why is this? Why is our society so concerned with what other families do or do not do? If the Lord decides to bless you with children, you should be happy and thankful.

It saddens me that so many people see children as a burden or a financial responsibility that isn’t worth the investment. There is no reason that people should feel ashamed for wanting to have a lot of children. I understand that there is a natural limit to the number of children a family should have, but this should be decided by God, not by society. Do I think that families should try to have a cheaper by the dozen kind of family, no, but I do believe that they should trust God in his provision on the amount of children that they will have the privilege to raise. If God’s plan for your family is to have 7 children each within a year of each other, than so be it. Will it be hard?, yes, will it be demanding?, most definitely, but will it be rewarding?, without a doubt.

We need to start looking at children in the way that God intended them to be viewed. I once read a quote that went something like this, “children are a sign from the Lord that the world is meant to continue.” I want people to stop judging others, and instead, celebrate life.

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But Won’t My Baby Choke? All About Baby-Led Weaning

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A lot of people have been curious about how we have decided to go about introducing solid foods to Warren. I thought it would be a good idea for me to write a blog post so that I can explain what we are doing, and hopefully help more parents learn about baby-led weaning.

Baby-led weaning is all about letting your child be the leader in introducing solid foods. Food becomes a form of play and experimentation. You watch for certain cues that let you know that your child is ready to explore solids. The baby-led weaning method recommends starting solids around 6 months of age, but if your child shows readiness to start exploring foods before 6 months, go for it. Every baby is different. You need to make sure that you watch for true signs of readiness.

False signs of readiness:
waking at night
weight gain slowing slightly
watching parent’s eat
making lip-smacking noises
not going straight to sleep after milk feedings
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True signs of readiness:
baby can sit up with little to no support
baby can reach out and grab things and take them to his/her mouth quickly and accurately
baby is gnawing on toys and making chewing movements
baby starts to put food into his/her mouth himself/herself

Warren started to show true signs of readiness around 4 months of age. Pediatricians don’t recommend starting solid foods before 6 months of age, but with baby-led weaning you are not making the switch from breastfeeding/formula feeding to solid food, you are simply letting your baby explore different tastes, textures, and sensations. You give your child the chance to learn that food is good and that food can satisfy their hunger. It takes awhile before your baby will ingest any food.

Since Warren started to show true signs of readiness relatively early, we let him have small pieces of whatever we were eating to “chew” on around 4 and 1/2 months of age. He didn’t actually “eat” anything until a few days ago. I am still exclusively breastfeeding Warren, but I am giving him the opportunity to explore food at his own pace. When he gets closer to the 6 month mark, we will start offering foods more frequently. Right now I offer Warren anything that I am eating, except for foods that aren’t recommended for babies. I let him grab the food himself and put it in his mouth if he wants to. I never force Warren to put anything in his mouth.

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Foods to avoid:
whole nuts or other foods that are choking hazards
salt
sugar
foods with additives or artificial sweeteners
raw honey
raw bran and bran products
peanut butter and other products containing nuts
tuna (high in mercury)
animal milk
sweetened drinks
caffeine

Your baby can have anything that you are eating, other than the foods that are unsuitable for your baby (see list above). Make sure to offer a balanced selection of foods and give your child the chance to choose what they want to eat. If you are concerned about any foods in particular, or if you have a history of food allergies in your family, introduce these foods slowly and monitor how your child reacts. Most babies who do baby-led weaning will avoid foods that later on in life they end up being allergic to.

Foods that Warren has tried:
Tomato
Strawberry
Cucumber
Banana
Avocado
Green beans
Peas
Nectarine
Pancake
Carrots (raw and cooked slightly)

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It is very important that you let your child explore foods on their own. Breastfeeding provides all of the nutrients that your baby needs. Your baby does not need any other food to get the essentials that help them grow, until they are closer to the one year mark. Food should be used as a compliment to breastfeeding, it should not replace it. If you go about introducing solids with the mindset that your baby is already getting all of the nutrition that they need from breast milk (assuming you are breastfeeding exclusively, formula-fed babies will be different), you will not look at food the same way.

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Mealtimes will not become a battle because you won’t be trying to force your child to eat something that they don’t want or need. Parent’s who do baby-led weaning tend to feel more relaxed about the feeding process because they have the reassurance that breast milk will provide the essentials. Use food for learning and exploration, not for providing nutrition. As your baby grows, food will slowly become more of an important part of your baby’s diet. Your baby will transition from exclusively breastfeeding, to exploring foods while exclusively breastfeeding, to actually eating foods while continuing breastfeeding, to finally weaning off of breastfeeding and using foods as the single source of nourishment. The key is to let your child make the transition when they are ready.

Another concern that many people have confronted me about is their fear of choking. Almost every single person who asks me about baby-led weaning says to me, “but what if your/my baby chokes,” or “won’t your/my baby choke?” Much to everyone’s surprise, babies who do baby-led weaning are actually less likely to “choke” on food or have issues with choking in the future. These babies become more confident eaters who know how to handle their food in a safe way. They learn that if they put too much food in their mouth, it will make them feel uncomfortable and they will need to cough or gag to get it out.

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Gagging and choking are related, but they are two different things. Here are some excerpts from the book “Baby-Led Weaning” by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett:

“BLW doesn’t make choking any more likely than spoon-feeding – and may even make it less likely.”

“Often worries about choking are based on seeing babies gagging on food and confusing this with choking: these two mechanisms are related, but they are not the same thing. Gagging is a retching movement that pushes food away from the airway if it is too big to be swallowed. The gag reflex may well be a key part of babies’ learning how to manage food safely. When a baby has triggered this reflex a few times, by putting too much food into his mouth or pushing it too far back, he learns not to do it. He will simply outgrow the tendency to gag.”

“Being allowed to explore food before it goes into their mouth teaches babies important lessons about what’s chewable and what isn’t. The relationship between what we feel with one part of our body and what we sense with another is something that can only be learned through experience. So, for a baby, feeling a piece of food in his hand and then putting it in his mouth helps him to judge how easy different sized pieces of food are to chew and to move around with his tongue. This may be an important safety feature, preventing him later from putting pieces which are too big to be chewed into his mouth. Learning from the beginning how to deal with foods with different textures may also make babies less likely to choke.”

You can purchase this book on Amazon. I would highly recommend it for anyone who wants to try baby-led weaning. The book really breaks down everything and explains the method in an easily understandable manner.
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When preparing foods for your baby with baby-led weaning, you want to focus on making the foods easy for baby to grab and put into their mouth. You want to avoid foods that baby can choke on, such as whole nuts. A good idea is to cut any food that you are eating into “finger-like” shapes so that baby can grab them and still have some food available to put in their mouth. Never force the baby to put anything into their mouth or eat anything that they do not want to eat. You want them to develop a healthy relationship with food.

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Babies who are introduced to solids through baby-led weaning tend to have fewer issues with choking, be less picky eaters, be more adventurous with foods, and do not usually have fears associated with foods.

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Imagine Every Baby in Cloth

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As most of you already know, I have made the switch to cloth diapers. Not only are cloth diapers great for your baby and the environment, they are also absolutely adorable, easy to use, and will save you a ton of money! In order to fund my new cloth diaper addiction and spread awareness about the awesomeness of cloth, I have become a consultant for Imagine brand diapers! If you are interested in learning about cloth diapers, how you can get started, or you want to purchase your own stash, please contact me and I can help you get started. You can also use the link below to purchase diapers through me!

Please use this link to purchase diapers: http://www.imaginebabyproducts.com/?AffId=448

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Imagine has great diapering options for super affordable prices. They offer diaper covers in various colors: indigo, marigold, snow, raspberry, flutter (butterflies), emerald, rawr (dinosaur) and trumpet (elephant). You can purchase covers on sale for $8.95 right now. Other options are All in ones (AIOs), All in twos (AI2s), pockets, and fitteds. Every option is very affordable. Please see my last post on cloth diapers for a break down of the different types of cloth diapers, or email me at hoeftam@gmail.com for more information on the different types of cloth diapers. 🙂

Fluff it up: My Switch to Cloth Diapers

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I recently read an article that a friend posted on Facebook about the benefits of cloth diapers. When I first found out that I was pregnant my husband was very interested in cloth diapering, I on the other hand, was totally against it. I thought that it would be too messy and too much of a hassle, not to mention kind of disgusting. The knowledge that I had about cloth diapering was very minimal and skewed. So, we decided to go with disposables without a second thought.

After reading this article, I found myself actually considering switching to cloth. Here’s the link to the article: http://www.smallfootprintfamily.com/dangers-of-disposable-diapers#sthash.Bv9OH19X.gbpl. I couldn’t believe how much money we were wasting on diapers that we were just throwing away. We were basically spending hundreds of dollars on garbage. The money-saving aspect of cloth diapering was a huge draw for me. I am always looking for ways to cut costs and save money. According to another article I read, most parents will spend close to $1,500/year on diapers for their child. Cloth diapers cost anywhere from $200-$500 and can be used on multiple children. That’s savings in the thousands!

Not only was the money-saving a plus, but I also read that children who are cloth diapered tend to potty train sooner than those who wear disposables. This is because children can feel the wetness more in a cloth diaper than they can in a disposable, and that gives them the push to get out of the diapers faster.

Another benefit that I like is the environmentally friendly side of cloth. Our family is generating less waste and we are reducing our carbon footprint. Check our this visual to see how many diapers an average person uses on their baby. http://www.pinterest.com/pin/421649583833488835/?fb_ref=12033261412812955%3Ae437f085b512371e9ff8e71

If more people switch to cloth, waste from disposable diapers can be reduced.

I also like to line-dry my diapers to cut back on the drying costs and to increase their longevity. My husband and I put together a simple drying system in our back yard. Sun naturally bleaches out stains, which is another benefit of line-drying. I have had some crazy bright yellow and orange stains on my diapers that the sun completely got rid of. In the winter months, or when it is not so nice outside, I plan to rig up something in my basement to air dry my diapers.

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So, are you thinking about switching to cloth? The modern world of cloth diapers can be a bit overwhelming. There are so many options! I was definitely overwhelmed when I first got started. Thankfully, I have a few friends who use cloth diapers and they really helped me out.

Here is my little blurb on how I got started and how I built my cloth diaper stash.

The most eco-friendly/inexpensive way to go with cloth diapering is to use covers and prefolds. If you go this route, you will need approximately 9-10 covers and 18-24 prefolds. It all depends on how often you want to do laundry. The prefolds are the absorbent part of the diaper (the actual diaper itself) that go inside a waterproof cover. Covers can be reused multiple times before you need to wash them, since the waste doesn’t go directly on the cover.

I currently have 6 bamboo/organic cotton prefolds and 3 covers. I also have 18 inserts and 6 covers that are specifically for the inserts. The inserts simply snap into the covers. This system (the Best Bottom diapering system by Nickisdiapers) is very easy to use/understand and the diapers are significantly less bulky than prefolds. I do laundry every other day. I want to get some more prefolds so that I do not have to do laundry as often. It is recommended that you do wash your diapers at least every 2-3 days to help prevent stains and keep the smell at bay.

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This is my laundry routine:

1. Flush any solids into the toilet and/or use a diaper sprayer (not necessary with exclusively breastfed babies because their poop is water-soluble) Wash on cold/cold heavy setting with the highest amount of water without detergent

2. Wash on hot/cold heavy setting with the highest amount of water (you want your diapers and your water ratio to be that of a stew consistency, not a soup, adjust your water level accordingly) and use detergent (I use Tide) check with your diaper manufacturer to see what they recommend if you think you might want to return any. If you aren’t going to return your diapers you can use whatever detergent you want. It is a MYTH that you need to use cloth diaper “safe” detergents. In my opinion this is a money making strategy that cloth diaper companies use.

3. Rinse on warm or cold with the highest amount of water (again, you want a stew consistency, not a soup)

4. Do an additional spin/drain cycle if you want to cut back on your dry time

5. Line dry, put natural materials in the dryer after line drying to fluff them up (they tend to get crunchy after line-drying) You can also use wool dryer balls to help soften your diapers naturally and cut back on dry time.

I bought all of my diapers from nickisdiapers.com. This is a great place to get diapers. I recommend starting out with a few different kinds of diaper choices and deciding what works best for you. I ended up liking everything that I got. If you don’t like what you bought there is a policy where you have 15 days to use, wash, and return your diapers, if you aren’t in love with them.

Here are some places that you can purchase diapers:

  • nickisdiapers.com (most diapers made in the USA, diapers ship from New Glarus, WI)
  • alvababy.com (very inexpensive diapers that are made in China)
  • http://www.littleneetchersdiapers.com/  (diapers ship from Minnesota)
  • amazon.com
  • zulily.com

Here is a list of your options for diapering, at least the options I am aware of:

  • AI0 Diaper (All in one) – these diapers are essentially just like disposables. You use them once and then wash them. They are the most expensive option and you will need to purchase about 24 of these
  • AI2 (All in two) – this is the cover/insert system that I have. It is more expensive than prefolds, but it is very convenient and less bulky. With this system there is a cover and an insert (the absorbent part) that snaps into the diaper or lays flat. I like the Imagine brand from imaginenickisdiapers.com.
  • Fitted diaper – a fitted diaper is similar to a prefold except it has snaps or some closure system that keeps it closed. You will still need to purchase a waterproof cover to put over the fitted diaper. These diapers can be great for nighttime to keep in wetness if you have a baby who is a heavy wetter or one who squirms a lot.
  • Prefolds – this system is the least expensive. You will need to buy about 18-24 prefolds and 9-10 covers. I really like the nickisdiapers bamboo/organic cotton prefolds and the bumgenius flip diaper covers.
  • Pocket diaper – a pocket diaper is similar to the AI2 system. The pocket diaper has a pocket that you put an absorbent insert into. I have one pocket diaper that I occasionally use at night.

You will also want to purchase a diaper pail and 1-2 liners to keep your dirty diapers in. I have 1 pail with 2 liners so that I can just throw the liners with the dirty diapers right into the wash. I also have some wet bags to keep dirty diapers in when I am out and about.

If you want/need to use diaper creams, make sure that they are cloth diaper safe, or use a liner (either disposable or reusable) in between baby and the diaper. Diaper creams can coat diapers making them less absorbent and damaging them. I use fleece liners, which also help wick moisture away from my little man. One great item to use is coconut oil. It is all natural and will not coat your diapers. It works wonders on rashes and redness!

Nighttime diapering is a bit trickier than daytime diapering and it will likely take some trial and error. The first night we tried cloth I put my son in a pocket diaper with a microfiber insert and a thirsties bamboo prefold on top of that. He woke up with his little man parts inflamed and red. I took him to the pediatrician just to make sure he didn’t have an infection. She thinks it was just irritation from the extra moisture that cloth can cause.

Now we use an AI2 diaper at night with an extra overnight microfiber insert. My little man was a bit red this morning, but he has improved drastically from night one. We use a microfiber overnight insert on the bottom of the diaper with a hemp/organic cotton insert on top. We add an extra layer of fleece to keep moisture at bay. This method has worked great so far with no leaks!

I know this post was a bit lengthy, but I had a lot to say about what I have learned so far. I am really enjoying cloth diapering and I am so glad that we made the switch. You just can’t beat the cuteness factor that cloth diapers have. They are way more adorable than disposables! If you want to get started cloth diapering, but are overwhelmed or aren’t sure how, feel free to contact me and I can do my best to help you or direct you to someone who can help you.

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diapers 004 Me and Warren on our first day with cloth

 

Laugh it Off

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I have found that sometimes the easiest way to stay calm when things go incredibly wrong is to just laugh. Last night when my husband and I are were getting our sweet little man ready for bed, he proceeded to pee all over the place. This is common practice for him, and we have come to expect it. If you have, or are going to have a little boy, be prepared to be peed on all of the time. The little guy will pee on you, the wall, the floor, his face, a brand new diaper that you just put on, his new outfit, and everything else that he can manage to spray.

One of my wonderful friends made us some great little inventions called “peepee teepees.” These little gadgets are lifesavers. Unfortunately, we did not use it last night. Of course, when we do not use them we get peed on, and when we use them, the little guy never pees!

Here’s a link on how to make peepee teepees: http://www.makeit-loveit.com/2009/08/wee-wee-wigwam.html

And here’s a little poem to brighten your day:

Changing a baby girl is not all glitz and glory; Changing a baby boy is another horror story! You hold his feet with one hand and the diaper with the other; The whole time praying, “Please, don’t pee on your Mother!”

Since peeing everywhere just wasn’t enough for our little man, he decided he would start pooping too. At first Tom was able to catch it in a diaper, but then we made the mistake of thinking he was done. Tom was going to put a new diaper on him when all of the sudden poop just exploded out of him. It was coming out at record speeds and shooting everywhere. I fell to my knees and burst out laughing. I laughed so hard that I cried. These are the times when you need to just laugh it off. It isn’t the little guy’s fault. He made a crazy big mess everywhere, but it still cracked me up.

When things go wrong, just laugh. I swear that laughter has crazy healing powers.

Here’s a pic of my little man laughing. 🙂
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