One of My Favorite Things About Being a Mother {especially a mother of many}

Some of us sort of “fell into” this mommy thing. Others took a purposeful leap. None of us knew what we were getting ourselves in to!

There are so many blessings to being a mommy, but today, I want to share with you one thing I absolutely LOVE about being a mommy – especially considering I have a lot of children!
Being a Mommy (especially a mommy of many) holds so many treasures - here is one of my favorites | RaisingArrows.netAspen is 4 months old now.  Her little personality is beginning to emerge more and more every day.  I find myself wondering WHO she will be.  And THAT is my favorite thing about being a mother…discovering who each of these little people are!

Even before I give birth, I wonder what and who the baby will look like.  What color of hair will he or she have, will they have my dad’s chin dimple? How much hair will they have? Will they have Ty’s longer-than-normal second toe or my sharp nose?

Once they are here, I gaze into their little eyes and sometimes even ask out loud – “Who are you, little one?”

And as who they are becomes more and more apparent, I marvel at God’s handiwork!

Each one, SO different from the next.  Beautiful snowflakes, individually revealing the image and nature of an amazing Creator, coming together to be OUR family.  Because there are no two alike, our family is unique, strong, organic, and fluid.  Every year, brings a new discovery, as each of our children mature into who God made them to be.

We currently have…

a researcher

a photographer

a designer

an actor

a precious link to Heaven

an encourager

a joy

a giggle box

and a beautiful reminder of God’s mercy and love

I am smitten by these little ones the Lord has so graciously loaned to our family.  Every day, I watch them, I study them, I learn more about who they are, who God created them to be, who I am as their mama, and where all these threads fit into a royal tapestry I could never dream up on my own.

Oh, what a blessing to be a mother, with each child changing me, changing our home, and changing the world by expressing the image of a God whose creativity is limitless!

I pray you not only had a wonderful Mother’s Day, but that EVERY day is Mother’s Day, as you discover more about each precious soul who calls you Mommy.

A Great Diastasis Recti Splint & Time to Get to Work!

Before I had Baby #9, my OB told me she would be splinting my abdominals right after birth.  I started researching what kind of splint would be best for me to purchase to have on hand for when I came home and got back to work on my abdominal separation.  After a lot of researching, I found one that I am absolutely THRILLED with and wanted to share with all of you!

I finally found a diastasis recti splint that is easy to use, comfortable, fits great, and works wonderfully - all for a reasonable price! | RaisingArrows.netMany of you know about my Diastasis Recti page here on Raising Arrows.  It’s been a long and arduous journey with only nominal results – mostly because of my lack of commitment.  I have a lot of kids, and it has been difficult to find the time to work on those abs in the proper way.  I know…it’s an excuse.  (I am trying very hard to release all my excuses, but some I still find myself holding onto.)

Because my doctor was so proactive about helping me with my separation, I felt encouraged to get back to work with a renewed energy and focus.  But, I needed a splint that would be ready for me when I was ready for it.

(affiliate links included)

After a lot of research and a great sale, I ended up purchasing the 3 Panel Splint from The Tummy Team a couple of weeks before I gave birth.

Front view of 3 Panel Splint from The Tummy Team |

The reason I chose this particular splint is because I am short-waisted (as in EXTREMELY short-waisted), and what I read about it on The Tummy Team site made a lot of sense.  Plus, they said it was COMFORTABLE!  I am all about being comfortable!

I did not take the splint to the hospital when I had baby because I knew my doctor would be splinting me there, but you definitely could take this splint with you if you are unsure what your hospital does in regards to splinting.  Splinting the hospital helped SO MUCH with my pain.  I felt “together.”  The splint I was given in the hospital was a DONJOY and retailed for $140.  It was nearly identical in shape to the 3 Panel Splint I had purchased – but not nearly as strong!

I get asked all the time which DR splints are my favorites.  The 3 Panel Splint has BY FAR become my absolute favorite!

What I like about it:

  • It truly is comfortable.
  • It stays put.
  • It isn’t hot.
  • The velcro is strong, and I feel very supported.
  • It fits my body well.
  • It doesn’t show under my clothing.
  • It is reasonably priced.

Speaking of being reasonably priced…

May 5 – 15, The Tummy Team is having a HUGE SALE for Mother’s Day!

The Tummy Team Online Core Training Programs

This is the kind of sale I took advantage of to buy my splint, so I HIGHLY encourage you to do the same! (no coupon code needed!)


My current plan of attack for working on my diastasis is to use the Tupler Technique.  I have this little guide book that I use to keep me on track, and I am part of a small accountability group of friends.  However, if you don’t know where to start, or need a little more help, encouragement, or one-on-one time, The Tummy Team offers classes you can take online with personalized help.  Click HERE to learn more!

The Mother’s Day Sale will include 30% off All Tummy Team Online Programs (Core Foundations, Prenatal Core Training and Core Integrations). 15% off All Tummy Team Abdominal Rehab Splints (including our newly released 2 panel splints). And 15% off our Fit2b on your skin Restored Tummy Creme and just released Prenatal Belly Balm.

Please, do your own research as to which splint is right for YOU, but I can almost guarantee The Tummy Team has it!

And here are a couple of photos of me at 4 months postpartum wearing the splint under my clothing.  I like to wear the splint over a nursing cami (these are a staple in my wardrobe!  You can CLICK HERE To see the wide selection available on Amazon.  The one I am wearing in the upper photos is an Undercover Mama that hooks into your nursing bra.)

My favorite diastasis recti splint from The Tummy Team hardly shows through in my clothing, and it is oh so comfortable! |

My favorite diastasis recti splint from The Tummy Team hardly shows through in my clothing, and it is oh so comfortable! |

I also want to show you something encouraging…

The first photo below is me on Day 1 of starting my DR workout back in 2011.  The second photo is me a few weeks ago.  Both are without a splint.

My DR back in 2011 |

My DR pooch 2015 |

MUCH better
(and MUCH BETTER posture too!)


I’m also hoping to start writing more Fit Mom of Many posts, so be looking for my diastasis updates, as well as my fitness and weight loss updates!  You might even catch me on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter walking, exercising, or (*gasp*) running! #fitmama #fitmomofmany

You can check out my Fit Mom of Many page by clicking the graphic below:

Fit Mom of Many - if I can do it, you can too! |

I am so excited at the prospects of what I hope to accomplish this go-round!  I hope you will join me!


This is Supposed to Be Hard Work

You’ve seen them…the advertisements touting how this diet will make the pounds melt off of you, or this product will make your housework feel like a walk in the park, or this method will be the answer to all your problems.  The prospect of this sort of thing is exciting, tempting, and…destructive.

SELF-destructive, to be exact.

You see, we all want easy street.  We all want the most efficient, fastest, easiest way from Point A to Point B.  If our map app can do it, surely we can do it in our every day lives.  But, when there is a detour, a roadblock, or even a stop sign in the middle of it all, we get irritated.  We get discontent.  We get depressed.

And we are pretty certain WE are the ones who failed because after all…

It was supposed to be EASY!

What would happen if we embraced the fact that some things are hard? |

I homeschool.  I have a large family.  I have a 2 year old.  I have a newborn.  I have a lot of laundry.  I have 20 extra pounds.  I…

Good grief!  The list could go on and on and on. “I” this and “I” that.  Can’t “I” get a break?

But, what if “I” embraced the fact that this stuff is hard?

Homeschooling?  It’s hard.

Raising a lot of kids?  Yep, it’s hard too.

My 2 year old?  Oh my yes!  Hard!

My newborn?  Naw, she’s an easy keeper.

Aspen 4 months

The laundry?  Hard.

Losing the extra 20 pounds?  HARD!

When you accept that some things are hard, some things you have to WORK at, some things aren’t going to be easy, your outlook on life completely changes.  You don’t see the roadblocks and stop signs, twists and turns in the road, detours and potholes as obstacles designed to undermine your perfect life.  You don’t see homeschooling as the problem, the toddler as the problem, or even the 20 pounds as the problem.  You see things for what they are…WORK.  And yes, sometimes HARD WORK.

When homeschooling my large family becomes difficult – and it does – that doesn’t mean I’m doing something wrong or I should throw in the towel.  It may mean I need to slow down, try something new, or simply PERSEVERE.

When raising my large family feels overwhelming, especially cooking for them and putting out all the fires my 2 year old creates, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have had all these kids.  It may mean I’m in a difficult season, and prayer is the only thing that is going to get me through.

When the laundry is piled to the ceiling or piled on the couch, it doesn’t mean I have too many clothes (Mom 😉 ).  It may mean I need to revamp my laundry system, put away the seasonal clothes, or keep a better eye on the kids and how often they are changing clothes (ahem…you know who you are…).  And when that’s all done, just make peace with the fact that there are 10 of us wearing clothes, using towels, and sleeping on sheets every single day.  The laundry will NEVER be caught up.

And that 20 pounds?  It isn’t going to melt off of me.  I will have to WORK at it.  I will have to have self control.  I will have to say no to dessert and yes to exercise.  I will have to accept that there is no gimmick or pill or super awesome diet that will rid me of my gluttony.  That’s between me and the Lord.

Folks, this life is supposed to be hard work.  Always looking for easy street will only lead to dead ends.  You will never be joyful or content.  You will miss the beauty of the journey, the lessons to be learned, the freedom of surrender.  Work hard, my friends.  Stay strong.  Be diligent.

“…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
Philippians 2:12b-13

Read the entire chapter…so, so good!  I’m praying for all of you this week!

The Mission Field in Your Home

One thing I often hear from stay at home moms is that they feel they aren’t reaching out with the Gospel of Christ.  They are so busy running a household, they have time for little else.  (Remember my post on What You Need to Know About Being a Mom Many Littles?)  These woman want to be spreading God’s Word, but they can’t find the time, the energy, or the babysitter.  I’ve even known some women who gave up homemaking and homeschooling in order to make a greater impact on their community for Christ.

What these mamas are missing is the mission field right in their very homes!

The Mission Field In Your Home - "Living and Ordinary Life in the Name of an Extraordinary Savior" |

Before you hang up on me because I’m being trite, please listen to these words written to me in an email by a Saladmaster Cookware representative who visited our home last week:

“Your family is truly amazing and I felt I was on very sacred ground being in your home.  I am in homes all the time and see interaction in all sorts of wonderful families but have to say, yours is a real stand-out!  I consider it a privilege to have been among you.”

That blew me away.  Sure we get comments as we are walking down the aisles of the grocery store or in restaurants, but to have someone who had been around us for more than 10 minutes give such an amazing testimony to the Light of Christ IN OUR HOME blessed my busy homemaking/homeschooling mama heart!

My children as a mission field.

The Mission Field in your Own Home - don't miss it! |

My mission field has always been my home.  I care for children all day long, doing my very imperfect best to instill the Gospel of Christ in them.  My intent is to raise them as arrows for the Lord to one day be shot out from our home and carry the Gospel with them.  Thus, the name of this blog – Raising Arrows.

“Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth.”
~Psalm 127:3-4

Often, a mother of young children won’t see the fruit of her labor until much later, giving her the impression she’s not really reaching anyone.  However, a funeral we recently attended gave me insight into what a faithful following looks like at the end of the race…

The gentleman who was being remembered died at 93.  Although he was raised in the church, he did not become a true Christ follower until he was 40.  By that point, he had been married quite some time and had 4 children, but it changed his outlook and attitude dramatically.  However, he lived his life as an ordinary man, doing ordinary things; the difference was that he now did it for and in the name of Jesus.  Because of this, his impact on his world was EXTRAORDINARY.

All 4 of his children are believers, as well as most of their family and extended family.  All of them spoke highly of him and how he ministered to them as a family.  His work in the community was done in the capacity of his various jobs, and he was well-loved by those who knew him.

Once, he counseled Ty not to worry about taking the “right” job, but to do something he enjoyed and work for the Lord there.  He did a lot of work in the church, but again, it was done in the capacity of the gifts and realm of influence the Lord had already placed in his life.

Visitors as my mission field.

The day the Saladmaster representative came to cook us dinner, we all pitched in and cleaned the house.  That was the only thing I did to prepare.  In fact, I’m pretty sure half of my boys had on jeans with holes in the knees.  I had to leave the kitchen several times to change diapers, my 4 year old kept playing with one of the pans, and my 2 year old took off with the 1 pound fat glob the guy brought as a visual to explain how to cook healthy meals.  Perfect it was not.

But, it didn’t need to be perfect.  It just needed to be authentic.

Being a missionary is easier than you thought.

The Mission Field is your own Home - RaisingArrows.netBeing a missionary is a calling all Christians have and it has very little to do with your training or your location.  As a mama, it is about being authentic with everyone you come in contact with from your husband to your children to the mailman to the Saladmaster representative. It isn’t about saying the right thing or looking a certain way.  It isn’t about being the perfect hostess or reaching the most people.  It is about living an ordinary life, doing ordinary things in the name of an extraordinary Savior!

Your life, your home, your testimony - it doesn't have to be extraordinary to reach others with the Gospel! |

So, next time you are tempted to believe you aren’t really doing the Lord’s work, or what you are doing is much too insignificant, remember WHO is doing the work.  It isn’t you.  This isn’t about you.  Be faithful where you are.  The Lord didn’t accidentally give you these children or this life.  It was planned with a purpose.  Work where you are FOR HIM, and let Him do the rest.

Postpartum Anxiety – How I am Coping

Last month, in my post Allowing Myself to Shop, I told you I was planning to write about some of the struggles I have had since Aspen’s birth 4 months ago.  I did write about healing from a c-section, but this post isn’t about my physical well-being.  It’s about something much more difficult to heal from…because it is inside my head.

Postpartum Anxiety - it's not depression, it's outright fear |

I knew I wasn’t dealing with depression.  I’d been there before.  This was different.  This was outright fear.

I was:
*standing over my child, convinced she was going to die any moment.

*not letting anyone else hold her in case she stopped breathing and no one noticed.

*not sleeping because I was watching her breathe.

*keeping the light on all night so I could watch her breathe.

*fearful that my other children were sick and I wouldn’t realize it until it was too late.

*spending copious amounts of time on the internet searching all sorts of “symptoms” I thought I was seeing in my children.

*unable to stay by myself with the children without someone there to distract me from my thoughts.

*wanting to run away from my responsibilities at home so I didn’t have to think about all the things that could go wrong.

Every time I read or heard about something happening to another child, I would internalize it.  It would consume me, and I would make it “mine” – as in, I would become petrified that it was going to happen to one of my children.

In order to sleep at night, I would put on a movie or listen to music on the iPad next to my bed so I could shut my brain off.

I could sometimes hold it together during the day, but by nighttime, I was a wreck.

It started when I was pregnant.  I had a feeling this was a girl, and while I had always envisioned myself being excited to finally have a girl after all this time, I never expected to be so scared of having a girl.  I guess I figured after 7 years, I would have worked through Emily’s death.  I guessed wrong.

And then we got a call telling us Aspen needed to be checked for Cystic Fibrosis.

Struggling with postpartum anxiety can be because of many different factors. | RaisingArrows.netWe were told her first test was inconclusive (it was right below the line of “negative” and “maybe”), and she needed a second test.  Thankfully, that test was definitively negative, but the 6 week process only added to my anxiety.

Add to all of this the fact that we experienced nearly every major life event all within a few months, and I was drained.  I didn’t have much fight left in me.

(affiliate links included)
Right before my 6 week checkup, I decided I had to do something.  I couldn’t live like this.  A friend, who knew I was struggling, suggested a high-powered B-complex.  That’s where I started.

Seeking Health B Complex - in my arsenal for dealing with postpartum anxiety |

I ordered the exact one she suggested – Seeking Health B Complex Plus – from Amazon with Prime shipping.  I was desperate.  She thought I’d see results within a few weeks (ugh), but after 4 days, I was feeling MUCH better!

I continue to take this supplement faithfully.  I can tell if I’ve accidentally missed a day or two.  I knew I had a B deficiency from some blood work I had years ago, but I hate taking pills, and I never felt bad enough to stick with a regimen of taking supplements.  Seeing the difference this particular supplement made gave me the incentive to keep taking it!

Another friend gave me some Peace & Calming from Young Living.  I put it on my wrists at night.  It seemed to help my brain from tumbling about at night.  I’ve also heard Valor helps with anxiety.  (note:  I am not a YL distributor, nor do I endorse any specific essential oil company.)

Then, I signed up for The Healthy Home eCourse:

The Healthy Home eCourse is one of the resources that helped me with my Postpartum Anxiety |

I wish I could manage to tell you how much this eCourse has meant to me.  You can learn more about this eCourse and other offered by Vintage Remedies HERE.)  The second module in The Healthy Home was on natural stress relief, and it was SUPER helpful.  When you purchase an eCourse, you also get access to a Vintage Remedies’ FREE Resource Library with 21 Audios, Videos, and Downloads – one of which is Botanicals for Anxiety.

This FREE audio for students of Vintage Remedies gave me ideas for treating my postpartum anxiety |

That’s where I learned about bergamot (and tons of other remedies!)  It isn’t a sedative, so it can be taken any time of day, but it also helps with insomnia, and it is anti-viral, so it is great to have around for cold/flu season.

I purchased this diffuser to use in our home:

It had good reviews, and it is pretty.  I needed a little “pretty.” 😉

I also needed to get more sleep.  I don’t think we fully realize how much our bodies need sufficient sleep.  It’s as if our brains go haywire with a lack of sleep.  We get more and more irrational, as we get less and less sleep.  The problem with anxiety is that you often can’t sleep, or in my case, you don’t want to sleep.

I really can’t explain why I didn’t want to sleep (and I am still struggling to WANT to sleep), but it isn’t because I’m afraid something bad will happen if I sleep.  It’s more a feeling of needing to keep busy.

I know a lot of people suggest melatonin to help with sleep issues, but one thing I learned from the Botanicals class is that melatonin is a hormone and shouldn’t be your first choice.  I’ve chosen to use teas to help me sleep.  Teas like Earl Grey (which contains bergamot) and Chamomile have a relaxing effect on the body.  The Bulk Herb Store sells a Fast Asleep Tea that is safe for nursing mothers (something you need to look out for).

Because anxiety often happens at night, and often keeps you from sleeping, try something like Fast Asleep Tea (How I'm Dealing with Postpartum Anxiety) |

(If you are using a loose leaf tea, brew it in your Keurig using a Reusable K-Cup, or use a tea ball or tea strainer.)

They also suggested valerian, so I’m looking into that too.

To help with my anxiety, I have to be VERY careful what I read and watch.  Facebook, blogs, movies, or the nightly news can all trigger fears for me.  Prayer requests for sick children can send me spiraling.  Movies with certain subject matter can be overwhelming.  When faced with someone else’s pain, I have to pray my way through it lest I get caught up in it.

The last thing (which really should be the first thing) I am doing is learning to deal with what is causing my anxiety.  Americans like bandaid fixes.  We like to treat the symptoms without treating the cause.  It’s easier.  But, if I’m ever going to fully work through this, I HAVE to face the fear.

I fear what I know.  I know what it is like to lose a child.  My heart and mind tell me I would never survive it if it happened again.  But, the Lord knows my fears.  He knows my future.  He knows the steps I will be taking on this journey.  I have to stay soaked in the Word.  I have to keep my eyes fixed on Christ and the Cross.

Focus on Christ the Cross - How I'm Dealing with my Postpartum Anxiety |

I’m not through the storm yet.  Writing this post wasn’t easy.  There is no magic cure-all because we live in a fallen world.  But, as I said yesterday, I have hope.  Praise the Lord for hope!

Was My Cesarean Necessary?

For some women, the question of whether or not their cesarean was necessary never crosses their minds.  In fact, I’ve even heard some women say they wished they had signed up to have a c-section from the very beginning.

I was not one of those women.

Was My Cesarean Necessary?  A mother 9 with 3 cesarean births under her belt explores this question and the emotions that go along with it. |

If you’ve ever read my Birthing Journey, you know my first child was born via c-section.  You also know I firmly believe he should not have been.  You also know it took me 8 years and 3 VBACs to heal from a 6″ scar.

Was My Cesarean Necessary?  A mom of 9 with 3 c-sections under her belt explores this question and emotions that come from having a c-section. |

When I would tell people that having a c-section was bothering me, most would say, “At least he’s healthy.”  I wanted to scream.  He may have been healthy, but I was not.  I couldn’t get past the fact that I felt broken.  I felt like a failure.  I felt cheated.

The question of cesarean necessity is a complicated one, and it runs MUCH deeper than medical diagnoses.

Very few women go into birth wanting a cesarean, especially in my circle of granola mom friends.  The more natural the birth, the better.  Some are even viciously militant about the way they give birth, which only adds to the struggles a mom who ends up with a c-section feels.  So, my first plea would be to avoid judging anyone based on how they gave birth.  Not every c-section mom is “too posh to push.”  And if you are the c-section mom, understand that you didn’t “cop out” just because you had a cesarean.

If you are a mom struggling with the question of how necessary your c-section was, let me encourage you to redirect that question away from where you were to where you are now.

The question of whether or not my c-section was necessary had consumed me.  I was angry not only about the surgery itself, but also about what this meant for future births.  I was worried what people might think when they found out my very first birth was a c-section.  I worried my home-birthing friends would scoff at me.  I was worried I had lost credibility as a mom.  And the longer I dwelt on the past, the less hope I had for the future, and the more fear I felt concerning that future.

But, I didn’t need to “just get over it.”  What I truly needed was to put the past in it’s proper place…as part of my story.

Was My Cesarean Necessary?  A mom of 9 with 3 c-sections under her belt discusses this topic and the emotions surrounding it. |

When you begin to see your c-section as part of your story, you begin to see how you can use that story to help others and shape a future that accepts its past.  In fact, true healing came in the form of a La Leche League leader telling me to choose to have the best birth *I* could have when I was pregnant with my 3rd child.  She knew what it was like to be disappointed in a birthing experience, but she also knew what it was like to move forward, making choices only she could make.  She chose to use her story, to help me.  And I choose to use my story, including the part she played, to help others.  I learned that my expectations and my reality did not have to be at war with each other.

Several years ago, I wrote a post about birthing expectations on a friend’s blog.  In it I wrote these words:

“I was not a product of my birthing experiences, nor a martyr to my birthing expectations.  I could make a birth plan, I could desire an unmedicated vaginal birth, but that did not mean a different sort of birth was a failure and made me ‘less than.'” 

Following my first c-section, I chose to change OBs and find one who was VBAC-friendly.  I went on to have 4 successful VBACs.  (You can read about those births HERE.)  In 2009, I had a 2nd c-section. I made the choice to try for a VBA2C and worked hard to find a doctor who would support me in that.  (You can read about my first VBA2C HERE and my second one HERE.)  Now that I have had a third c-section, I know I will no longer VBAC.  That too is part of my story.

I made the choice to be fully accepting of the cesareans in each case and fully accepting of the future beyond those cesareans.  I purposely did things to enjoy my pregnancies and ease the expectations I used to feel were so much a part of the experience.  I told myself each moment was another part of my story, and I would make the best choices I could.

If you have had a c-section that you feel may not have been necessary – or even one you know was necessary – and you are struggling with difficult feelings, you may have to face disapproval or guilt or drastic changes to your birthing future, but remember these things are a part of YOUR story, not someone else’s story.  How you birth doesn’t prove what kind of woman you are, it doesn’t give you super mom status, and it won’t get you to Heaven.

How you birth is YOUR moment, but, I can almost guarantee you, God will place someone in your life who needs to hear what you have to share.  It’s part of that Titus 2 mandate for older women (or women further along in this journey)…teach them to LOVE THEIR CHILDREN.  Part of loving your children is loving the moment they were born…that moment when

YOUR story became THEIRS.

Was My Cesarean Necessary?  A mom with 9 with 3 c-sections under her belt discusses this topic and the emotions surrounding it. |