Tag Archives: children

Can’t You Just Breastfeed Your Foster Baby?

Me formula feeding our foster baby while nursing our bio baby

On a Tuesday afternoon last October we got the call. “Would you take a 5 day old baby boy?” 3 hours later we were pulling into the driveway with a tiny stranger, screaming both from withdrawal and hunger.  

We jumped out of the van, unbuckled everyone, ran into the house and I yelled to Milkman, “Make him a bottle!” He looked at me completely confused. 

“How? Do we use hot water? Cold water? How much do we scoop in? How much does he need?”

I was frustrated– not because of *his* lack of knowledge on the subject, but of our collective ignorance. As I fumbled with the pacifier and white noise, Milkman was googling and so was I. “Okay! Warm water, sanitized bottle, 2 ounces, so that’s one scoop!”

How is it that 2 adults who had been parents for 4.5 years to 3 children not know how to make a bottle and feed a baby?

As a nursing advocate, lactation hobbyist, and exclusive breastfeeder, I was (and am!) steeped in all things human milk related. I can help you latch a newborn, hook you up to a pump, make you lactation cookies, and assure you at 4am that that screaming gassy 3 week old you have is totally normal, and it’ll pass. (No pun intended…) but formula feeding? Totally new. We were lost. 

So, we began to educate ourselves, learned proper handling, preparing, and best practices for formula feeding. I thought time and time again how much easier it would be if I could just give him breastmilk. I did some googling and found that while it was not common to get approval for human milk, it was in the realm of possibility.

Because of the baby’s particular set of health concerns, I presented the idea to his pediatrician. She agreed that human milk would be optimum for him. The next step was to get approval from the social workers, who surprisingly were also in support of the idea. The last (and most important) approval I needed to receive was from the baby’s mother. I was so nervous, it was my first time meeting her, and while all the social workers had told me his case would go to permanence and he would likely end up apart of our forever family (he didn’t by the way, because foster care!), I knew this was still her baby. I told her of his particular struggles and that the pediatrician had recommended human milk. Before I could even finish my question, the response she gave was, “Ew. No.” Of course I was disheartened. It was a long road to get him on the right formula, to help with his various health issues, but thankfully we were able to sort his problems out with Gerber Gentle formula.  

I had been cautiously optimistic about being able to give human milk to our foster baby, but once I talked to other foster parents I began to realize how rare approval was. Since then I’ve been asked dozens of times in breastfeeding groups online, crunchy mom circles, and friends “since you have milk, can’t you just nurse your foster baby?”

So let’s break this down.

Biologically, can I nurse a foster baby while still nursing my bio child? Yes. Absolutely. I’ve spent almost half of my nursing journey tandem nursing– that is, nursing two babies (of different ages) at the same time. Milk production works based on demand. In general, the more you nurse, or the more children you nurse, the more milk you make. So biologically, it would be possible for me to nurse a foster child– or any other child for that matter.

Legally, could I nurse a foster baby? The short answer is no. Of course there are exceptions to every rule, but the general rule is, this isn’t my baby, so I don’t have the authorization to feed this baby whatever I please. In my county, I can’t even switch formula brands without pediatrician approval. The other issue we fall into is the matter of that of physical boundaries. We live in a culture that has re-assigned the human breast to one task: sexual arousal. Of course, we know biologically that the primary purpose of the female breast is to provide nourishment to children, but nonetheless, offering your breast to a child who is not yours, and may have experienced sexual abuse is going to be a logistical nightmare. 

So can you bottle feed pumped human milk to a foster baby? There will be times where a baby is struggling badly with withdrawal, is having serious digestive problems, or is premature, and a doctor will approve human milk, likely from a milk bank. If a biological mother were to refuse this recommendation and it was deemed to be medically necessary for the child to receive human milk, with proper documentation and approval, it could go to court for a judge to overrule the mother’s protest. Again, there could be a biological mother who says yes, and it’s approved that way. On the other hand, some mothers send their own milk with baby, which (if pumped safely and mom is sober and healthy) is a great option. However, the most common answer is going to be no. Of course, this is a hard pill to swallow for me as an advocate for human milk for human children, but it all comes back to this: these foster babies are not my children, so it is not my choice to do something I have been told not to. 

Imagine if you were an exclusive breastfeeder and you found out that your child’s day care provider was feeding them formula every day. You’d probably be pretty floored, right? Well the same goes in this situation. I’m caring for this child, I make decisions to keep this child safe, fed, and loved, but generally it’s not in my jurisdiction to change their food source if I’ve been denied that request. 

Do foster parents breastfeed or bottle feed human milk to their foster children? Yes. I’ve talked to many of them who have. Some in hushed tones, others with boldness. Many social workers will say “don’t ask, don’t tell”, some doctors will say the same, and some bio parents aren’t around to give approval or denial for the request. Most of these foster parents have the best interest of the child in mind, I’ve never met anyone doing it maliciously. Some counties care less than others and leave more decision making up to foster parent, so it’s not as big of a deal.

The important thing is that we feed babies using best practices. Clean hands, sanitized bottles, properly prepared, and portioned. So if you’re a crazy breastfeeder like me who ends up formula feeding, instead of being too crestfallen at your denial for human milk, do all you can to become educated on formula feeding so the baby has their best chance at a healthy start! And if you’re a formula feeder who has been told to feed human milk, do your research for best practices on handling human milk!

Nursing my toddler while she helped feed formula to our current foster baby

Disclaimer: I am not an expert on foster parenting, breastfeeding, or everyone’s experiences ever with feeding every foster child on the planet, these are merely my thoughts, experiences, and observations. If you’re unsure about human milk and your foster baby, contact your social worker!

Want to read more on fostering, infant feeding, and see some stupid memes? Come check out She Rocks the Cradle on Facebook!

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In Between 

I’ve been quiet around here. It’s strange, and perhaps makes no sense, but the busier and more stressed I am, the more I tend to write. I suppose it’s a little escape, or, much like the pressure valve on my new instant pot (who else got one for Christmas??) a release from all the craziness that gets trapped inside when life is jam packed.

I’m in between. Our home for the last 2+ years is going to have the rent raised high enough that we can’t possibly afford to sign on another year. I’m packing up the house with out much of a clear picture of where we are headed next. We have reached one month without a Foster placement. Every day I wake up and wonder if today is the day we will get a call, and each day it doesn’t ring. 

But though I’m in between, I’m also soaking up the cuddles with my 3 bio kiddos. Captain is enjoying being read aloud to. We are currently working through Mr. Popper’s Penguins and just finished Little House in the Big Woods. I love how he tells Milkman about what we read later on. Mamitas is as sharp as ever. She’s a never ending source of Disney movie facts, and has a myriad of imaginary friends (one named Bubblegummy and another named after herself– who has an astonishingly similar life to her own.) Peachy is a wild child. Wordless jokes, funny faces, and the ability to play her parents like a deck of cards. She’s brilliant and every time she does something new (be it naughty or clever!) I am in awe of her.

And then there’s been time with Milkman. We’ve had 2 dates in the last month, as dates are hard to come by once we have another foster placement in our home. We’ve spent a lot of time talking, cuddling, and indeed– staring at our phones waiting for a call. 

We feel the same way. Thankful that we haven’t gotten a call while our own kiddos have been sick almost constantly this cold and flu season. Thankful for the time spent focusing on our children, and on our marriage. But also mourning the empty room in our home, just waiting for someone else to take it over.

We know God’s timing isn’t our own. We know patience is the key to surviving fostering, whether you have a full or empty home! We know that the right child will be here when the right time comes. 

But in the moment, we feel very much in limbo. Very much in between. 

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Introducing HoneyBuns Baby Lotion! (And a GIVEAWAY!)

I know, I know… I’m just a little obsessed with Era Organics. I can’t help it. The products are great quality– and they work! I mean, that’s the combo we look for in any great skincare product.

 
You’ve heard me talk about their HoneyBuns line for babies before. I love it, you guys. It smells like a dream, it’s gentle, and a little goes a long way.

 

 

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I’ve been hoping they would formulate a baby lotion since I first tried their baby body wash. I use the healing balm for really rough spots on my children’s skin, but I wanted something for daily after bath use. My dreams have come true! Tyler and Nikki from Era Organics reached out to me and asked if I would like to try their new baby lotion, and of course I obliged. Any chance I get to test some Era Organics products, and I’m jumping on that!

 

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We’ve been using it on all 5 of the children after baths for a couple of weeks, and Milkman and I are loving it. Our younger foster child, Cheekies, has really sensitive skin. It’s been a long process to try and get her skin healed and soft. The HoneyBuns healing and diaper balms have helped on the super bad patches she had, but now that those are healed up, the HoneyBuns baby lotion is keeping her skin from being itchy and her sweet little pudgy arms and legs are deliciously soft.

 

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I have been stealing a pump here and there after shaving my legs, and my skin is loving it, too! Oh and the fact that it’s a pump? What parent doesn’t love a pump cap body wash or lotion? One handed, easy peasy, done! And when you have 5 children to get ready for bed, you appreciate every little time saving feature you can get.

 
I like this lotion so much, that I’m joining up with Era Organics once again to give one of our lucky readers a HoneyBuns skincare bundle including HoneyBuns baby wash, HoneyBuns Diaper Balm, and HoneyBuns NEW baby lotion!

 

 

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Head over to my Facebook page to enter the contest!

 
Don’t wanna wait? Here’s where to order! HoneyBuns is on Prime! 2 days and it’s on your doorstep!  Use the code CRADLE25 to get 25% off!

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Hush, Little Mama, Don’t You Cry…

After 6 years of discussing it, 4 years of deciding to do it, 1 year of going through classes, background checks, paperwork, and fingerprints, Milkman and I got the call to become Foster parents. The last week and a half of my life has been so exhausting and such a learning process. It brings more emotions each day than I normally experience in a month. 

Thankfully, we expected uncertainty, we expected to work through a lot of emotions, we expected to be exhausted having 5 children aged 4 and younger… But one thing I didn’t know I would feel is intense love and compassion for the mother of our Foster children.

There are so many horror stories of biological parents who get their children taken away and put into foster care. There are parents who truly don’t care about their kids, parents who abuse their kids, and parents who grossly neglect their children. Many of those stories are sad and real. These are the stories that made me want to become a foster mom as a teenager, so I could help remove a child from a scary situation.

However, in my VERY short time as a foster parent, I’ve come to the realization that some (hopefully many!) mothers whose children get placed in foster care are not so far gone that they are not in shambles at the thought of their precious babies being handed over to complete strangers. I don’t know the parents of our placements. I don’t know their ages, what they do for work, or what kind of struggles they are going through. What I do know of most parents whose children end up in foster care is that things got tough enough in their lives that someone needed to step in to help out while they get the right things into place.

I am not the hero. The parents of these children are not villains. We are not fighting some war on opposite sides of the battle field. We are, in fact, on the same team. We are on the same team as their children. We all want the same thing: for their children to be healthy, happy, and safe. 
When I hold these sweet children close to my heart and sing them bed time songs, I think of how their mother must be wondering who is tucking her babies into bed. When I push one of these children on the swings and hear them giggle, I think of how their mother must miss that sound. When I look into their eyes, I wonder if they look like their mom or dad did as children, and think of how I’m staring at a piece of this mother I’ve never met. 

How her heart must ache. How empty her arms must feel. How many tears must her eyes have shed… 

When I put myself in her shoes, I imagine her desperation, fear, love, and yearning to feel complete again. 

There may come a day when we have children in our care who have been in truly deplorable circumstances, and whose parents I struggle to love. But for now, I’m so glad that God is teaching me to practice empathy for these people I have never met. 

I wish I could tell the mother of these children that her treasures are safe, and hug her when she cries. But for now, I’ll just keep holding these little ones close for safe keeping, until she’s ready to hold them safely again herself.

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GIVEAWAY! Cheeky Tummy Diaper Bag!

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I love me a good bag.  Once I had kids, I had to give up my giant purses that I loved so much, because carrying a diaper bag AND a big ol’ purse is just not practical.  I had seen some designer diaper bags here and there, but I couldn’t believe the price tags on them.  I really hate spending loads of money on something that is going to be hit with serious wear and tear and  possibly WILL end up with some sort of bodily fluids on it.

 

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When Captain was a baby and my only child, other moms would see me lugging my huge diaper bag around and say, “Oh, just wait til he’s older, you’ll go back to a purse and just carry one lone diaper and a few wipes in a baggy in it.”  Four years later, and I’m still carrying a huge diaper bag with my entire world in it.  Clearly these mothers didn’t know me before kids, when I would carry a purse large enough to cart multiple crochet projects, one-eighth of the historical fiction section of the library, a Costco-sized tub of Advil, and many tubes of red lipstick. I plan for disaster at all times.  I ALWAYS carry an extra change of clothes for each of my 3 children, enough diapers to last us a couple of days, snacks, activities, and wipes galore.  (You can never have too many wipes on hand!)

 

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What’s In My Bag: iPad mini, journal, Amazon Wipes, 8 diapers, muslin blanket, nursing cover, Cheeky Tummy changing mat, toy, sun screen, Era Organics Honeybuns balm and powder, diaper cream, Contigo water cup, snacks, pacifier wipes, sunglasses, change of clothing for Peach, Mamitas, and Captain, and Captain and Mamitas’ note pads and pens! Whew!*

 

I came across this bright, playful bag from Cheeky Tummy and I thought, “It’s been too long since I had a cute bag.  It’s time to carry something cute again!” and I am SO glad I did.  This bag is not only adorable, it is HUGE inside.  It holds everything I need to have with me without being stuffed to the zipper.  Oh! And it comes with a matching changing mat!  I feel so fancy whipping our my pretty little mat (its cushion-y, too you guys) to change a booty and folding it and fastening it to go back into its spot in my bag.

 

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Another feature I love is that it is incredibly versatile.  Prefer handle straps?  It comes with those.  Like a shoulder strap instead?  Oh, yeah, comes with that, too.  What about a bag that attaches to your stroller?  Um, yeah! Also included. (PSA: never put an overloaded bag onto the back of your stroller handle without a firm grip on your stroller, we don’t want any babies tipping backwards!)  I threw this on the back of my Uppababy Vista, and it looked super purdy.  I’m telling you, I feel fancy.

 

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Here’s the deal, it is a great bag all around while still being affordable.  After talking with Diana at Cheeky Tummy, I was able to really see the heart behind her company.  As a new mom she felt overwhelmed by the amount of bags and price points on the market, and out of that frustration Cheeky Tummy was born.  I liked her bag so well, that I asked Diana if we could give one of these gorgeous orange and white chevron bags to one of my lucky readers and she agreed!  So, head over to She Rocks the Cradle on Facebook, and enter the giveaway!

 

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Want one of your own right now?  Head to Cheeky Tummy’s store and grab a bag for yourself. If you use the code CRADLE10, you get 10% off your first order!

 

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See you on Facebook at the Giveaway!  Its over on July 3rd, so hurry to enter!

 

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Giveaway! Era Organics Baby Care Line

As a mom, I am always looking for healthy, safe, natural products to use on my little ones.  With 3 very young children, I try to research the heck out of anything I put on their skin and in their bodies.   I’m sure you’ve seen the news stories that have popped up within the last year about Johnson & Johnson having cancer causing chemicals in their products, and also Jessica Alba’s company Honest Baby and their mini-scandal of using a chemical in their products that they tell consumers to avoid!

 

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With those being two top contenders in the baby care world, you may be wondering what other options are out there.  I am really excited to share about my new favorite baby care line from Era Organics!  I’ve always used natural skincare products on my children, but haven’t ever been blown away by the products I’ve used, so I thought I would take a break from our usual Babyganics and try something new for Peach’s sensitive skin.  Queue a middle of the night nursing and Amazon perusal and Honeybuns baby wash showed up 2 days later on my doorstep. (Thank you Amazon Prime!)  That night we gave it a test run for bath time and I was an immediate fan.  The texture of the baby wash was concentrated, and a little went a really long way.  The scent was calming and pleasant.  I really dislike heavily scented skincare products (so I’ve never been able to stomach the scent of products like Burt’s Bees for babies). The scent of the Honeybuns wash is very mild, but appealing and calming.  

 

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I started talking with the folks at Era Organics because after trying out a lot of other brands like California Baby, Mustela, Babyganics, and Aveeno (which is owned by Johnson & Johnson!), I was so glad to be using a product that was natural AND effective, a combo really lacking in the natural product world. They informed me that they had just released an entire Honeybuns baby care line, and I knew I had to try the rest!

 

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One of the great things about the Honeybuns line is that it cares not only for baby but for MAMA!  YAY!  It’s really telling when a company chooses to care for moms, too!  Their baby and mama line includes Honeybuns Baby Body Wash, Healing Balm (incredible for dry skin and also works on cradle cap!), diaper balm, and Baby Powder (talc-free! Uses organic cornstarch and arrowroot as its base).  The mommy components of the line are Mommy Balm for sore nursing breasts (I’m past the ouchie newborn latch stage, but I love this for when I am tender nursing during my period), and Belly Oil for stretch marks and dry irritated skin on your tummy and thighs– this stuff smells like HEAVEN, it’s like a mini-spa treatment every time i put it on!  Each of the products are organic, cruelty-free, and non-GMO.  There are NO PARABENS!  This is a big deal to me, and the reason why I switched to all natural products as a new mother 4 years ago.  

 

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As I mentioned earlier, I feel like there’s a great divide between products that are natural and safe, and products that pack a powerful punch but are full of stuff I don’t want on my baby’s skin.  You can tell that the formulas that Era Organics uses are thoughtful and science based, not just thrown together willy nilly.  These products have made a difference on my skin and on Peach’s skin (and its been great on my toddler and preschooler’s skin, too!)

 

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I truly believe in these products and I am SUPER excited to share with you that Era Organics has offered a set of their ENTIRE  Honeybuns skin care line for one lucky winner on our Facebook page, so head over to She Rocks the Cradle on Facebook to enter through April 24th!  Era Organics has also offered a 25% off discount for She Rocks the Cradle readers using the code CRADLE25 through the end of May in their Amazon storefront!  I am so thankful for their generosity, and I can’t wait for you to try out their products.  You’ll have to let me know how you like it once you try their products out– you wont be disappointed.

 

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Here are the quick links to the Honeybuns products on Amazon! Don’t forget to use our CRADLE25 coupon code for 25% off, and be sure to share your purchase through the social share buttons on Amazon when you add these items to your cart!

 

Honeybuns Baby Wash

Honeybuns Healing Balm

Honeybuns Diaper Balm

Honeybuns Baby Powder

Belly Oil for Mama

Mommy Balm

 

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It’s Not a Season, It’s a Baby.

“It’s just not your time.”

 

“It’s only for a season.”

 

“It doesn’t last forever, this is just how it is for all of us.”

 

“You can get spiritual feeding in AFTER your kids are older.”

 

These are just some of the responses I have received many times when I have lamented that I am struggling with my place in the church since having children. But guess what? I got sick of it.  I’ve talked to my spiritual advisors, to my elders, to my husband, I’ve cried out to the Lord about it, and here’s what I came up with in response to those statements:

 

This is absolute crap.

 

Okay, okay, so maybe that’s not the nicest way to put it, but that’s what I’ve wanted to say.

 

When I had Captain in 2012, I spent an entire year worshipping apart from my husband.  I use the term “worshipping” very loosely.  I spent a year in a room either alone, or with 2 other wonderful nursing women and their babies that had a TV with the sermon being piped in, while my husband sat in the service and got to listen to the sermon like the rest of the church, because he wasn’t lactating and I was.

 

At the year mark, after countless Sundays and Thursdays being stuck in a room apart from my husband where the audio or the visual wasn’t working at times, I had had it.  I went to my wonderful husband, my sweet spiritual head and with tears pouring down my face I said, “I can’t do this anymore. I haven’t heard a whole sermon, let alone a quarter of a sermon in a year.  My daily devotional time suffers, I never get to fellowship with the body anymore, I am sick of being in a room apart from you and not hearing the word preached.  I need help because I feel like I am drowning.”

 

My husband held me while I cried and we decided it was high time I made my way back into at least the lobby, if not the sanctuary of our church.  Thankfully, the lobby of our church at the time has two large glass windows and the sermon audio piped in, so we were able to take Captain into the lobby from the sanctuary if he got too loud, without me being segregated from my husband, and without feeling shut up in a dark room by myself.

 

Once we had Mamitas, we were told by a well meaning woman that there were people uncomfortable with me nursing in the lobby– even with a cover.  Back to the nursing room I went– feeling alone, defeated, and an outcast.

 

Even for women’s functions, I was told were for adult women, and to leave my nursing child home with daddy.  Women’s teas, retreats, and social events weren’t the place for my nursing baby.

 

I began to see a common trend.  The people who were the most unsupportive of me in my young motherhood were not some chauvinistic, patriarchal men– it was women.  Every time. And not just women who didn’t have husbands or kids, no!  It was always middle-aged to older women, who had children at one point in their lives too.  These same women had probably sat in the same dark rooms, nursing under blankets in bathrooms or lobbies or hallways, not hearing the Word preached, longing to be fed, and they were probably placed there by other older women themselves.

 

I’ve talked to many young mothers about this in the church, and we all seem to be frustrated with it, but for some reason, the squeakiest wheels seem to be the older women, and so, we young moms end up in a dark back room because we have noisy babies and milk in our breasts.

 

I can’t help but think this has only become an issue in the last 100-150 years in the westernized world, due to two things:

 

  1. The change from biological feeding with breasts to bottles and thereby making breasts single (and sexually) purposed in our societies.
  2. The popularity of segregating children from adults into their very specific age groups– namely because of the public school system and the rise of Sunday School and mandatory nursery care in churches.

 

Tell me that Ma Ingalls had to nurse her baby in a cry room, or that Mary had to take Jesus to the nursery each Sabbath.  That just wasn’t a thing.  This has not been the norm for thousands of years, and because of tradition and popular culture, the church now has no place for young mothers and babies.  How is a church to grow and sustain itself without young families?  It can’t.  It will die out without children.

 

What other sector of the body of Christ do we tell, “It’s not your season to listen to the preaching of the Word of God”?  What if we told teenage boys that they were excluded for this season, or old women, or elementary aged children?  We would all be in an uproar.  The gospel message and preaching of the Bible is for ALL Christians.  Its commanded that we be in fellowship and following good, solid teaching and doctrine, and yet, I hear it constantly. “It’s just not your time– we all go through this.”

 

As for the claim that I have heard the most: “It’s just a season in your life”: I hear the “season” comment mostly from women who have chosen to have 1 or 2 babies.  Most of these women either didn’t breastfeed at all, or they did for a very short period of time. That was the perfect amount of babies for them.  That was the perfect amount of time for them to nurse.  Milkman and I desire a large family.  Thus far, I’ve been nursing 2 days short of 48 months straight.  We choose to let our kiddos wean sometime after 2.5.  What if my “season” is 10 years?  Is it okay for any Christian to miss out on preaching for 10 years?  My grandmother had 15 pregnancies, and raised 13 children over a course of 21 years.  TWENTY-ONE YEARS.  By the season argument, if my grandmother had been in a modern Evangelical church, her season would have been about 23 years.  

 

23 years of no women’s retreats.  23 years of not sitting with my grandfather in church.  23 years of audio/visual mishaps on the CCTV in the nursing room.  23 years of not getting spiritual feeding with the rest of the congregation.  Many years of also not sitting with her older children in church, leaving my grandfather with 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, kids to manage on his own. Many years of being alone and lonely and told by her older sisters, “Sorry, Panchita, it’s just not your season.”

 

Let’s be real, sitting in a sermon with young children and babies is still going to have you struggling to get the full message uninterrupted each week.  I’m not ignorant of the fact that children distract us in church and need parenting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week– meaning I’m not off duty for 2 hours each Sunday, and my kids are still going to need my attention.  But if my husband and I are tackling the parenting in church together as a team, we can support each other, be encouraged that we aren’t alone, be with the rest of the congregation on a Sunday (what a concept!), and most importantly, we can worship together, teaching our children of the importance their parents place on the preaching of God’s Word, and honoring the Lord’s day.

 

I don’t think we should do away with nursing rooms, I appreciated ours when I was in the early stages of nursing and needed 17 hands and a boppy to get a good latch.  I don’t think we should do away with nurseries.  I think they are excellent options for parents of children who are happy to go into childcare.  I don’t think we should do away with Sunday School, I loved Sunday School as a kid, and it serves a wonderful purpose for families who would like their child in a more kid-friendly environment.

 

In fact, this isn’t even so much about where to nurse as it is about women tearing down other women.  I see it constantly, not just in the church, but I see it there a lot.  I am incredibly thankful for a husband who advocates for me, for elders who have listened to me while I weep, and for the few, very special older women in my church who have been there to encourage me and help me through this sometimes lonely journey of being a nursing mother.  But the naysayers are always the ones whose comments seem to be what sticks with you.

 

To those older sisters, I just want to say, I know kids can be a distraction.  I know they can be annoying, believe me I have personal experience in dealing with their frustrating behaviors!  I know it is easy to forget that you were once in my shoes, but dear older sister, would you show me some compassion?  If not on me, then on my helpless infant. She needs love from her church, to hear as a baby what the Word says.  She needs to hear her pastor praying and she needs to see her parents lifting their hands to the Lord in worship.  She needs to hear the Psalms read, so that one day she can say, “There was never a day I could remember that I didn’t know the love of Jesus.”

 

Gather the people, Sanctify the congregation, Assemble the elders, Gather the children and nursing babes; Let the bridegroom go out from his chamber, And the bride from her dressing room.

 

–Joel 2:16

 

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**as an addendum, I would like to share that after meeting with our elders and lots of prayer, we are happily worshiping with the congregation each Sunday, and it feels so good to be with my brothers and sisters while still nourishing my youngest, tending to my olders, and standing next to my husband.**

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a day in the life

I’ve worked at a few preschools throughout the years.  I had recently been hired at a school called… well, let’s call it Kiddie Korral.  Yes, that’s a good name for  it.  Anyways, I had been working for a financial firm for about 3.5 years after my last preschool stint, thinking that a bigger income would make me happier, but although it made me able to afford nicer things, I definitely wasn’t happier.  I decided to go back to working with kiddos and take a 45% paycut.  It was insane, but I knew I needed to work with little ones.

Anyways, so I get this job at Kiddie Korral.  It had been a long time since I’d worked in a preschool, and when I interviewed with the director at that time I could tell she was a little dodgy, but I figured it was worth it to be back in Preschool.  Now, the last time I had worked in a preschool, I was 19, young, stupid, rebellious, so going into a new school in a new stage of my life, I knew I would approach this job differently.

Working in a preschool was a pretty strange career path for me.  See, I was homeschooled.  My dad worked, didn’t make a lot of money, but he felt that my mom should be home with my sisters and I.  Money was tight for them, I am sure, but we never missed a meal.  (Thanks to my mama’s frugality.  She knows how to stretch a meal!)  My mom is not a college graduate, a teacher, nor did she have any extensive training on how to school her three daughters, but she did it.  I had my mama and my sisters every day, all day.  I never went to public school to sit in a classroom, let alone preschool all day in my early childhood years.   My first time setting foot in a classroom was Mr. Shaack’s math class at a Community College at 16.  This whole concept of rallying a bunch of little ones in the same age group and shoving them in a room with 2 women is an entirely foreign concept to me.  But for now, I digress.

So my first week, was a lot of reconditioning, readjusting, and reprogramming my mind.  While some teachers told kids to stop crying because mommy had to go to work, I would sit and hold those little ones and try and hide my tears along with them.   It was culture shock.  I was out of my element.  I had second thoughts about having taken the job after the first week.  What had I gotten myself into??

And then came my second week.  Something tremendous happened.  I want you to picture this scene.  20 preschoolers.  2 teachers.  Lunch time has just finished and it’s time to get all the kids down for their way too long nap so that teachers can go to lunch.  We call all the kids in to wash their hands, and within 8 minutes one kid had pooped his pants.  It was diarrhea. 3 little boys are peeing all over the floor and each other in the boy’s bathroom.  One little girl is hogging up the girl’s bathroom because she’s constipated.  Meanwhile, another little girl left the water running after stuffing the sink with paper towels.  There are 2 little girls dipping paper towels into the sink water and washing each other’s bodies, clothing, and the walls with the water.  Oh, and little “Sally” wet her pants… for the 3rd time that day.  Once I sprayed poopy boy down with the hose outside and got him dressed, the boy’s bathroom floor had been bleached and mopped (and those 3 boys wiped down with wipes), Little Miss Constipated had been relieved, the girl’s sink had been unstopped and that floor mopped, and the bathing beauties and Sally were in clean dry clothes, I sat down on the floor in a heap next to one of the kid’s napping mats.  I took a 45% pay cut for THIS?  I began whimpering quietly as I sat in there alone with 20 snoring, dirty faced, wood chip sock filled 3 year olds.

I felt exhausted and a failure. Where were those piles of account paperwork I hated so much at the financial firm?  Where was my comfy desk chair and widescreen monitor with access to youtube and my favorite blogs?  Where were those high heels and slacks I hated to wear every day?  This was for the birds.  And ew! Was that poop on my Converse?!

I looked down at the little boy I had sat next to.  He was the hardest kid to deal with in the class, had already had a write up or 2 that day, and was full of energy.  He opened his brown eyes, looked up at me quizzically as I dried my face, and wiped the raccoon eyes away from my dripping mascara.  He picked up my hand lying next to him, and kissed it.  “I love you Miss Rachel.  You’re my favorite teacher.”  He held my hand, and closed his eyes again to sleep.

Ah.  So this is why I was there.  I couldn’t remember a better feeling.  I was the luckiest woman alive.  I knew that I was where I was supposed to be, and that experienced changed my outlook on my job.  I wasn’t just a child wrangler (though that was a large part of the job in an overcrowded school), I was loved, and I had 20 little souls to care for, love, and influence.

That was one of the best days of my life.  Poop and all.

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