UnorthadoxMomma

A mom who likes to live outside the norm

Archive for the category “Fostering”

Ever thought of fostering?

Being a foster parent, I often get questions about my experiences.  Being a young foster family, we’re often asked why we do this when we have young children of our own.  As a family that has been blessed with the children who have come into our home, I thought I would compile some of my thoughts, some of our experiences, and some general tips I’ve learned over the last year.

First, it’s difficult, but so worth it! I’m not sure about the rules where you live, but here in MO the rules are fairly basic: you have to have enough income that you live “comfortably” (they don’t want you to have to rely on any kind of stipend, but they don’t expect you to be well off), you have to have bedroom space (in MO it’s same gender rooms once they’re 6, under 2 can share with adults, but in IL once kids are 13 they have to have their own rooms…check your local rules), and usually you can’t have more than 5 kids under the age of 18 in your household.

Suggestions from our experiences:
Don’t take a placement that is the same age as your oldest.A few years older or younger works (depending on the age of your children), but these are kids dealing with troubles and you have to discipline differently than with your children who have always been with you. We had one placement that was our oldest’s age and he had no sense of right or wrong, what was okay, how to interact or anything. We had to do all redirection and positive reinforcement (basically like working with toddler). My son knew there was a double standard and would get upset and my daughter started picking up the bad behavior. Kids know that behavior expectations are different for different ages, so we’ve had a lot more success with either kids a few years older or with babies and toddlers.  Also, if your child is old enough to be established as the oldest, you may have difficulties having older children in your home.  Our son has never had concerns with older children and loves having an occasional big brother or sister.
Never get your hopes up, just love the kids. We thought both of our initial placements would become permanent members of our family. Within a week of each other (one had been with us 4 months and the other 3 and had only ever been with us), family members did a quick turnaround and decided to step up and take them.  But these are kids who have often never been truly loved and often have never had anything of their own.  Spend one-on-one time with them, read stories, go to the park, buy them something special.  Make sure they feel a part of your family.  It may hurt more emotionally when they’re leaving, but you’ll have no regrets and they’ll have positive memories.
You don’t have to take every placement. Talk to the caseworkers, hear their story, make sure they’ll fit. Sometimes you have crazy weeks. Sometimes you just need a break. Sometimes you just get a feeling.  It’s okay to say no.  We have only received calls for teenagers over the last few months, and while we have had mostly good experiences with teens, it’s very difficult to parent more than a few years older than your current experiences and even more difficult trying to make everyone feel a part of the family when they don’t “fit” actual or emotional age-wise.
Don’t say no to something  just because it sounds out of your comfort zone. Our first placement was a 15 year old boy who was developmentally 8. He was so sweet, helpful, and fit perfectly with our family. Even with knowing we’d have to parent him for the rest of our lives, we were ready to become legal guardians. It was heartbreaking when we didn’t get that option, but thankfully we still see him almost weekly and often go to lunch on Sundays with him and his grandparents. Our second placement was a baby born at 24 weeks drug addicted. She came home from the hospital with us on a heart monitor and oxygen…and I was 3 months pregnant! The first few weeks were rough, but she quickly developed and did wonderfully.  She just needed a family to love her!  I used to get regular updates from her 3rd cousin that now has adopted her.
Get to know your caseworkers.  They’re a valuable resource while your children are with you.  They’ll keep you updated when the kids have moved.  They’ll enjoy working with you and see kids that they know will fit with your family and call you first!  (this part can also be hard because sometimes they want to work with you so bad and you feel bad for saying no to kids that just won’t work with your family).
Get as involved with the child’s family as you feel comfortable with. Don’t forget that the goal is to get them back with their family, and you can be support, a resource, and stay involved in their lives.  Give them your number, go out with them for dinner (if you’ve been approved by the caseworker), help them feel comfortable with you and how you’re taking care of their child.  Remember, these are parents who have made a mistake and just want their kids.  Support them and encourage them.  (Not all cases are good, but there are also grandparents, aunts and uncles that you can do this with).
You can change a child’s life by opening your home.  Let me know if you have any question!!!

http://www.yourthrivingfamily.com/

What’s the right thing to do?

So, I’ve been reading more about vaccines, and doctors, and nutrition.  I’m still happy with the decisions I’ve made so far, and am considering more “crazy” ones.  The more out of the mainstream I go, the more I see to change.  But this has opened a whole new set of questions for me.

Mainly: Why am I bringing my healthy kids to the doctor?

But there’s a whole lot of questions and things to consider with this question.  First, if I’m not vaccinating, why am I risking my kids getting sick at the doctors office just to turn down vax and to see how big they’re getting?  I can weight and measure them myself to ensure they’re growing.  I’m already doing so much for them by providing good nutrition…

Also, by not bringing my healthy kids to the doctor, I’m giving the office more time with kids who need it.

Why not bring my healthy kids to the doctor?  “Well-care” visits are free!  But then, isn’t that part of what’s driving up the cost of healthcare?  Labeling well-care as free, when the main purpose is to monitor what parents are doing and vaccinating kids?  And of course, it’s not free.  Taxpayers are paying for it.  I’m paying for it with my premiums…

Then the foster parent in me comes out, and I realize that especially for kids who aren’t in school, well care visits are often when abuse and neglect is noticed.  But, in all honesty, people like me who are stirring the pot by not vaccinating their kids are more at risk for getting Children’s Services called on them for neglect than the parent who is abusing their child or not feeding them properly.

Then alternative parent in me comes out and I realize that doctors are so busy, they barely have the time to come in and check the majors than to notice malnutrition or abuse.  Heck, the neglecters and abusers are the ones not bringing their kids to the doctor in the first place (along with crazy alternative parents that is).

There are so many kids who instead of a proper diagnosis and treatment are prescribed a myriad of psychotropic drugs and other meds.  Sadly, some of my foster kids will be and I’ll have no say in the matter…

Parents, trusting their doctor, don’t know that they can treat these things through proper nutrition, elimination of triggers, and exercise.  Or in extreme cases, find out what is really to blame and eliminate it.

And I’m not trying to shrink illness or disease. I have a family history of mental illness, but I’d rather find out what is really going on and try out nutrition and eliminating triggers than have my kids on a medication cocktail.  And I’ve dealt with depression for most of my adult life, but over the last year and a half when I’ve cut out all the medications, processed foods, and as many of the triggers as I find, I’ve had no instances of “the blues”, even in the postpartum period when I experienced it in the past.

But back on topic.  As a person who was home schooled as a child and plan on homeschooling my children into the future, there’s another problem.  Most homeschooling families are honestly doing the best they can for their kids, providing them with a great and personalized education.  But I know through the experience of friends that there are many kids that are in a cycle of neglect and abuse.  While those friends think there should be much more regulation on homeschooling families (which I honestly think will regulate some great parents out of HSing and scare off even more), they bring up a valid point of requiring annual visits to the doctor as part of their oversight.

While part of me on the inside screams “this is just more useless government regulation!”, part of me agrees that this is protecting kids that can’t speak up for themselves.  My friend as a teenager almost died from neglect because her mother wouldn’t bring her to the doctor because she didn’t want to be forced into vaccination and thought the whole medical establishment was corrupt.  Do I have the potential to turn into that?  I sure hope not.  So while part of me is seriously thinking about not bringing my kids to the doctor unless they are actually sick and natural remedies aren’t working, the other part of me realizes that my sinful human nature can take over.

So what’s the right thing to do?  In a time of insanely rising healthcare costs and doctors not having the time to consult with parents and discuss options and alternative care, skipping “well” visits and researching on my own seems like a great idea.

But then I think about the bad side, and how it could seem like I’m trying to hide something.  Or there might be a parent who has no idea what they’re doing, and take my advice either under the assumption that they’ve done due diligence.  And then the parents that simply don’t care for their children properly.  And the abuser and neglecters.   There are kids that suffer.

But when is oversight too much?  When is enough enough?  Abusers will abuse, and those who neglect will continue.  Is it worth it for good parents to jump through more hoops to prove they’re doing the best for their kids to catch a few more bad parents?  Or will good parents be hurt because those overseeing don’t agree with them and take away perfectly healthy and loved kids and scar them by taking them away?

It’s a topic very close to my heart and it just gives me more questions instead of giving me any answers.

For more reading on nutrition, health, and the medical establishment, a good read is: Why do Pediatricians Deny the Obvious?.

I’m going to open a can of worms

Vaccines.  This is in no way telling you whether you should vaccinate your kids or not.  This is also not intending to share tons of research.  It is also not medical advice.  This is simply my viewpoint and interesting things I have found.  It is also to point out things that I think all parents should research themselves.  It is also to ensure my family and friends that I have really thought out my decisions regarding all the vaccines.  If you want to read a blog that goes into a lot of the research, try out Modern Alternative Mama.  Another great, thought provoking post is Six Reasons to Say NO to Vaccinations by The Healthy Home Economist.

My viewpoint is coming as a naturally minded mom as well as a foster mom.  In most cases, whether my kids are mine biologically or temporarily through the state, I can make the decisions affecting their daily lives.  But when it comes to medical decisions, with my foster kids I have to do whatever is medically recommended.  In many cases, THEY don’t even have a say (like with my former foster daughter who had to get the depo provera birth control shot…).

So, to people who want medical choice, especially with vaccinations, taken away from parents I say “No Way!”.

Freedom of choice is a wonderful thing.  It gets brought up in the argument for many things (many in my mind are horrible), and yet many of these same people want to take away the choice of whether or not to vaccinate children.  If you don’t want to vaccinate, then “you’re a wacko, you’re neglecting your children, you’re harming everyone else”, etc.  Some people want to force vaccination with no variation on every child, with the threat of taking away your children for neglect.  As someone who’s taken care of actual neglected children, this is completely ridiculous.

The choice of whether or not to vaccinate, and on which vaccines to give and at what ages, should be totally up to the parents.  You should be able to delay if desired.  If circumstances or the world around you changes, you can get them when they’re needed.  I’m all for the development of new vaccines too.  My oldest son has been in a flu vaccine study to test effectiveness of different timing and doses.  I’ve been in investigational studies for smallpox and different flu vaccines.  But that doesn’t mean I want my infant introduced to the toxins that make the vaccines work, or my kids to get a flu vaccine every year.

It all comes down to the risks you’re willing to take.

Yes, many of these illnesses are and were horrible.  But simply because we live in a developed country reduces most of the risks that were involved decades ago and around the world today.  We have clean water, good hygiene, great nutritional availability.  But we also live in concentrated populations, our kids are often in daycares and school, there is worldwide travel.

Many illnesses have low level symptoms to where you may not even realize you are sick, average symptoms where you stay home and take some painkillers or eat soup, and high level symptoms where you need medical attention.  In some rare cases, permanent injury or death can happen.  But if you read the warning labels on the vaccines, so do the vaccines themselves.

And then you have to think about the risks you can pass on to others.  Responsible people will stay home when they realize that they’re sick, but you can pass on an illness before you feel sick.  And there are people out there that don’t care if they or their kids are sick, they’ll still go to work or send their kids to school.  But especially with live vaccines, you can “shed” it and spread the illness, especially to those who are at risk like infants and the elderly.

This all goes into the difficulties of being a parent.  You have to decide what is best for you and your family.  You have to decide what risks you are willing to take in all areas of life.  For me, since I stay at home with my kids, breastfeed, and feed everyone a mostly natural and nutritionally full diet, I am willing to take the risk of not vaccinating.  If I were working, my kids were in daycare, or our eating were not as healthy, I would definitely consider many of the vaccines out there.

And I hate when people blame the non-vaccinators for the spread of diseases.  In the case of the current “outbreak” of Pertussis, or whooping cough, 93% of those with documented cases are vaccinated against it.  It is a mutating disease, so the strains change.  Also, you have to get regular boosters to retain immunity.  And people will blame those who don’t get vaccinated for getting the disease, passing it, and allowing mutation, but don’t forget that we live in a global community with regular world travel.  But don’t get me wrong, Pertussis is scary.  Those at highest risk are under one year old, and 97% of the deaths are in children under 3 months old.  But they can’t even get vaccinated until almost 2 months old, and the highest protection you can give them is nursing.  Since I’m doing that and he’s not in daycare, that’s a risk I’m willing to take as that vaccine has high (to me) incidences of side effects.

And in cases of blood-borne illnesses such as Hepatitis B, why are we giving this to all infants at birth?  I understand in instances where the mother has it, but this should really be done at an older age.  From what I’ve read and believe, it’s because those at risk aren’t responsible enough to get it, so the government is vaccinating everyone to irradiate it.

Polio is a widely pushed, scary disease that I always thought I would vaccinate against.  In most cases of Polio (I’ve heard as high as 95%, but there is no scientific proof), the disease is completely asymptomatic, which means you won’t even realize you have it.  But who wants to go back to that horrific time of our grandparents and great grandparents?   Any time before 1954, any cases of temporary or permanent paralysis was regarded as Polio.  Polio seemed to spike in the summer, not in the winter like most illnesses.  So most cases of “Polio” may actually be poisoning related to a toxin like the lead arsenate or DDT that was used in that era as pesticides, which we now know are highly toxic to humans.   We’ve been told that Polio was irradiated in the late 1970s, but today we still have:

It is my belief that we still have what was considered Polio, but we just now more accurately diagnose what the symptoms are.

Then there is Rotavirus, which is basically diarrhea.  It’s a live virus, oral vaccine.  It basically is giving your kids a mild case of Rotavirus, and since it’s live, they can pass it on to others.  We live in a developed country, I’m not worried enough about a case of diarrhea to give them a mild case.  Plus, 28% of reported side effects in 2011 had a bad reaction rate (VAERS), which is unacceptable to me.

I could go on about all the others, but that is your job as a parent.  Research the medical advice that is recommended.  Learn the risks of all the options.  Decide what is acceptable for you and your family.  Discuss it with your spouse, with other people you trust.  Go to “impartial” websites such as the CDC, WHO, etc.  Learn what the diseases actually entail.

An interesting side note is that a disease is considered “rare” if it affects less than 1 in 2000 people.  Currently, the “outbreaks” of so-called vaccine-preventable diseases affect far less than this, yet we are told they are basically epidemics by the media!  Very sad.

The last thing I want to add is that we have an amazing God who made all kinds of cures and treatments before sin was even in the world.  Yes, medical advances are amazing and save lives, but I believe many of these should be reserved for extreme cases.  There is so much knowledge that was passed down through the generations in using plants as medicines and for healing that has been lost in our modern era.  I am just starting to learn some of this, and it is an exciting journey.

My “favorite” part of foster parenting…

…is skipping a decade in parenting skills.  My oldest birth child is 6, my oldest foster child is 16!  Thankfully she’s respectful, responsible and very sweet.  If I had gone through what she has I would be angry, bitter, and untrusting.

But to go back a bit.  This weekend we had one of our former placements, a sweet special needs 15 year old stay with us for the weekend.  He’s been reunited with his grandparents, but it worked out well with his spring break to let them get a bit of a break and him to come stay with us.  He was our very first placement.  We got the call to ask if he could stay with us 2 weeks after we found out we were expecting #3.  I thought, “Oh my goodness, I’ll be the parent of a teenager, at 29!”.

In his case, yes I was the parent of a physical 15 year old, but in most ways (except hormonally), he’s between the age of 8-12.  He was a wonderful fit with our family.  His favorite toys to play with are the same as my son’s.  He loves video games, action figures and Veggie Tales.  He bonded well with the whole, extended family.  Even though with his special needs there were extra challenges, we were really thinking about pursuing permanent guardianship.

And in the four months he lived with us, he went from performing at a K-1st grade level at school to a 2nd-3rd grade level in some subjects.  I think it was a combination of a safe and structured environment, help and encouragement at home, and wonderful teachers.  We also helped him learn to interact more, answer questions and learn responsibility.

It was with a mixture of sadness and joy on our whole family that he left our home to stay with his grandparents.  There were many concerns we had as far as his needs and development that seem to be coming true, but at least he’s with family.  That’s one of the hardest parts of foster parenting.  The goal is reuniting with the family, but sometimes these kids could do so much better elsewhere.  Thankfully in his case, his grandparents live close to our church and we get to see him on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings.  We also get to eat lunch with him and his grandparents almost every Sunday.  We’re hoping that one day soon they may actually stay for church with us too.  We’re settling into a role more like an Aunt and Uncle with him, seeing him regularly, talking to grandma on the phone, visiting each other, and him getting to occasionally spend the night (like this weekend).

But enter a “real” teenager.  Though sadly, like many of the kids in the system, she’s not a “real” teenager either.  She’s very intelligent and responsible, so that’s not the issue.  Basically, her history and all of the things that come along with it has robbed her of childhood.  I’m just so glad that even with a 6 and 4 year old with another on the way in a few weeks, we’re able to provide her with a safe place.  Poor thing, she has to share a room with my 4 year old, but thankfully my daughter is pretty good at giving her privacy and we have a great play room, so my daughter really only sleeps in there.  And my wonderful children are so giving, that they don’t feel a loss of their room or hold a grudge, they’re just so happy that someone else is able to stay with us!  (This is honestly the main reason we decided to start fostering while our children are young, so that it’s normal to give of what we have and to focus on someone else).

The hard part for me is figuring out what role to take in this case.  I’ve told her that I in no way intend to step in and replace her mom.  I envision myself more of an aunt, a friend and an authority figure, and this is how I explained it to her.  And after 4 weeks, we’re finally settling in to a routine.  She’s bringing me her completed homework, we’re starting to add some responsibility around the house, and she’s even babysat for us so that my DH and I could get a night out!  And as I said before, she’s very quiet and responsible so I haven’t had to lay down hard rules or consequences, but I’m kind of worried about the day when she feels comfortable enough to truly turn on the teenager and we have a real confrontation or I have to lay down some major boundaries.

And overall, I’m just thankful that we go to a wonderful church with a great youth group.  The kids there have really been open and welcoming, and she’s part of the group.  And I have many resources between the youth pastor, other parents at our church, and our parents (especially my in-laws, they have 14 and 15 year old adopted sons).  I’m hoping that if there is any major parent/teen confrontation, I can quickly find out the best course of action.

Thankfully, parenting is parenting no matter what the age…it’s just a lot harder to step in after 16  (or 6) years.  So much of it is reading and knowing your kids, so that is really the hardest part of the whole fostering world.

Even with the crazy jumps of a 15yo special needs kid, to a premie baby on oxygen, to a 6yo boy who was way too much for me to handle while pregnant with young ones of my own, to now a fully fledged teenager, I can see God’s hand in each placement.  (Granted, the only thing I can see with the 6yo at this stage is “use wisdom and discernment when deciding on taking a placement!”)  These are all wonderful kids who’ve been through some horrible things.  And even though we’re basically flat broke, we’re able to make it work and be a blessing to kids who could be in group homes or being bounced around if we weren’t there.  And these kids have been a blessing to me too, despite the extra laundry, cooking, trips and visits.  I’m looking forward to the day when one of these kids not only clicks with our family as most have done so far, but is also open for us to be able to make a permanent member of our family.  I’m really wanting to order my “Proud to be a foster and adoptive family” bumper sticker…

Fostering is rough

And that can be said with no doubts.  There’s the difficulties dealing with behaviors learned in their previous environments, sadness in hearing their stories, challenges with settling in, interaction with their families and just the addition of a new person to your home.  And of course the sadness and grief that accompanies the loss of a member of your household when they go home or to a new placement.  Even with all that, days like yesterday make it so worth it.

The second placement we had in our home was a baby girl that was born 4 months early, drug addicted and the doctors were sure she wouldn’t make it.  Every day she survived was a miracle.  Sadly, mom wouldn’t make the changes necessary to clean up her life and be safe for this poor baby she endangered by her dangerous behaviors, and the Children’s Division had to step in and take custody.  I feel sad for the other people involved like her grandmother who now has no rights in the care of her granddaughter, but sadly she has unsafe behaviors that she wouldn’t change that kept her from getting custody (and that is another long story).

We got the call on this little girl when she was 4 1/2 months old, and I was 3 months pregnant.  We went to see her at the hospital, and it was heartbreaking to hear the story that no one should go through, and see her hooked up to tubes and monitors.  I visited her almost daily for 2 weeks before I was able to take her home with us.  The doctors were so worried because they had repeatedly tried to lower her oxygen levels and decrease medications, but none of it was successful.  But they knew she would improve in a loving home environment.

So home she came with us a day after she turned 5 months, when in reality this little 7 lb miracle should have just turned 1 month old.  Along came the tube through her nose attached to an oxygen tank, and a heart and apnea monitor that was to be used 24/7.  The first few nights were terrifying when the monitor would go off because she had stopped breathing and we had to startle her awake so she would start breathing again.  The weeks of carting a tank and monitor everywhere we went, even around the house.  The worry about tripping over cords, medication to ensure she took every day, that we weren’t doing things right.  The twice weekly nurse visits to our home, the physical therapy appointments, the almost weekly trips to different doctors.

But within a week she was already doing better.  For the first time in her life she had a consistent caregiver.  She was being held regularly.  She was eating more than 2 ounces per feeding without falling asleep, and she was growing!  Her home health nurse was so helpful in giving me tips and encouraging me, and it was paying off!

Within 2-3 weeks, her nurse and I started lowering her oxygen levels.  By 6 weeks, we were convinced that she no longer needed the oxygen or medications…what was hard was getting a doctor to take the time to agree!  Each one wanted one of the other doctors to make the decision, how frustrating!  But finally, after a little over 2 months with us, a doctor finally said “she should have been off this stuff weeks ago!”, and signed the orders, and after a week with the monitor to ensure that all was well, Baby E was free of everything and got to be a normal baby.

She was still way behind even her gestational age, but she was growing, and learning by leaps and bounds now that she wasn’t hindered by tubes and cords!  And we were fully prepared and hoping and praying that we would be able to keep her forever (even though we were at the end of my second trimester).

It was a sad day, when I learned just before Christmas that a 3rd cousin (yes, they had to go that far out!), was not only safe for E to be with, but decided that she could give E what she needed and was willing.  We had 2 more weeks with her, and it was wonderful and sad at the same time.  I was trying hard to protect myself emotionally while also preparing her for a different caregiver.  A time when I wanted to never put her down was when I was having to work the hardest on her learning to be happy with others holding her, feeding her, playing with her.   I needed to teach her she could be happy playing independently.

And not for me to start crying as I type this.  The hardest day ever was the 5th of January when a day early and without meeting her new family, she left my home.  I cried so much those few days, and even harder because I didn’t know where she was!  But I wrote her a letter telling her how much I loved her, and I did everything I could to prepare her new family for this special baby.

And wonderfully, her new “mommy” called me the next day.  She had read my letter and cried, and promised me she would do everything in her power to keep E forever, that she would share my letter with her, and that E would know she had a family and a mommy when she was little that loved her so much.  She sent me pictures and called occasionally.

And the best part (and really hard too) was yesterday.  As her former foster placement, I am a member of her team that is involved with plans for her and gets updates.  I got to go to a meeting, and got to hold her for an hour!   When I was first given her, she looked at me, and I could tell she was so confused.  There was some recognition and the start of a smile, but then a pout and the start of tears as you could tell this was hard for her too.  I started crying a bit (and so were one or two of the ladies around me), as we were both struggling with emotions (and me hormones!).  But it was beautiful.  She was beautiful.  She has grown 2 pounds in the month I haven’t seen her.  She is so much stronger, and she looks so alert, aware, GROWN UP!  She got her ears pierced.

She took a little nap while i was holding her, and I got to feed her during the meeting.  The hardest part was learning that since her mom not only has made no changes to her lifestyle and has abandoned her daughter, the courts are moving forward with terminating her parental rights, and she will be open for adoption by her cousin.  How I wish it could be me.  But I am so thankful that I was able to be a part of her life, to help her learn to bond and heal, and that she is in a loving relationship with a family that is and will take care of her needs and do everything they can to shelter her from her hurtful past.

While I emotionally hurt, I wouldn’t trade anything for being a part of her life. I so wish she was a permanent part of my family, but she was and is a part of my family.  And I’ll do it again, and I hope more people will become willing to do what I do by me sharing my story with her.

Warning, this one’s personal and could be taken the wrong way!

Okay, this is my blog, with my opinions, so I’m gonna share them.

Guess what, I’m planning a natural birth!  That’s right, no induction, no epidural, no laying on my back (unless that feels good at the moment), no meds, no IVs, NO NOTHING!  I have a doula.  My wonderful husband wants to “catch” our baby, and we want the kids to cut the cord after we delay clamping it for 10-20 minutes.  It’s the best option I feel comfortable with after two Dr caused cesarean sections due to interventions, impatience and convenience.  I really want a home-birth, but decided to compromise a little.  But if this one goes well and God blesses us with another one, birth at home, here I come!

And after the baby is born, he’s not leaving my side.  No going to the nursery (I was separated for 12 hours with Jeremiah and 4 hours from Maddi with no good reason given), no eye cream or shots at the hospital, no formula (I still feel guilty for Jeremiah’s first feeding being formula because he “couldn’t leave the nursery due to low temperature due to the stress of the birth, blah blah”), and dare I say it publicly on the internet (though people would find out when they change his diaper anyway) I will leave this son intact.  I respect every parents decision to do what they feel is best for their children, but after research and discussion with my husband, I am doing what I feel is best for my child.  I am so thankful for my husband who listens to my opinions and that will talk to me about it, think about it and pray about it.

And my son will at a minimum be room-sharing with me, though I do intend to fall asleep while nursing regularly!  I don’t plan on doing full bed-sharing as I am such a light sleeper I have to sleep with the TV on and still take an hour to fall asleep.  I wish I had a King-sized bed and could do it more safely and not worry.

And I’m cloth diapering!  I loved it when I practiced with my foster baby this fall. I wasn’t filling landfills.  I wasn’t buying something just to throw it away.  I felt like a good steward of the world God has given us.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t support a great company when I need to.  I don’t know if anyone has seen this video, but it makes me cry:  I take road trips.  I forget to do laundry.  I have babysitters occasionally (okay, very rarely).  You have to support a company that takes a beautiful stance on every baby being special!

And I am researching every recommended vaccine and every bit of advice I’m given.  Thankfully (and sadly at the same time) I’ve been through this a few times before.  I’ve made mistakes.  I’ve got some regrets.  I’ve learned not to believe everything a Dr tells you just because he/she has an MD.  I’ve learned that often the old advice of great grandma is better than the newest findings.

And I’m going to do everything I can to be involved in everything my kids do.  I missed way too much with my first two by working full-time, putting my dream career (that turned into a nightmare) first, and making my marriage very difficult.  I will do everything I can to make one income work, and if that doesn’t work, we’ll go back to one car, we’ll sell some stuff, I’ll do more surveys online, or I’ll babysit.

I wish I was supermom and could follow my calling of foster parenting while also homeschooling my children.  Thankfully one of the biggest lessons I learned being home schooled myself is that all children will do well as long as they have parents that are involved and supportive.  So I will continue to homeschool while they’re young to give them a strong start in school. I will continue to be excited with school projects and go to everything I can at their school.  I will do homework with them.  If in the future we realize that they’d do better at home, well then I’ll do it.  I’ve just realized that (especially while pregnant) that you have to take care of yourself too and relieve stress where you can (especially if you’re adding it to your family!).

And the best thing I can do for my kids is modeling what I expect from them.  I should treat others as I want to be treated.  I should be careful about the words I use.  I should read my Bible more.  But I’m going to make mistakes.  I’ll use the TV as a babysitter (what do you think is going on right now, lol).  And I’ll lash out in anger.  But I can also admit when I’m wrong and try to make it right.

Parenting is rough.  Thankfully we are given grace when we make mistakes.  Even though things may not be as good as they could have been, they can still be wonderful.  When things are bad, I have 2 (and soon 3) wonderful kids to give me a hug, cry on my shoulder, tell me things are okay, and make me think about someone other than myself.

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