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Pregnancy and the Early Years of Mothering

My currant bushes. Photo by Helen Aardsma, Summer, 2009.

Several years ago one of my nieces contacted me, to ask if I would be willing to mentor her through her first pregnancy and beyond. I was thrilled that she would ask and over the next few months an e-mail mentoring relationship developed. Here is the 2010 corresondence. I hope that you will find it helpful--no matter where you are in the mothering journey.

2010 Correspondence

January 28, 2010.

Dear Aunt Helen,

I would like to request prayer for myself over the next few days. I'm feeling very spiritually unsettled, to the point of physical discomfort and I don't know if it's spiritual oppression or pregnancy hormones or the Holy Spirit wrestling with me on something I haven't acknowledged yet. Or if it's even something else altogether. Originally, I was just going to text a few of you and ask for prayer but I feel compelled to reach out to my family so...I am.

If you feel Spirit-led to share any scriptures with me, I'm all ears. But especially, please pray for me. I'm trying to remember that one "rule" from the The Red Sea rules: "Be more concerned for God's glory than for your relief." But man, I am really feeling I want to crawl out of my skin. So...I am trying to wait and see what God is allowing/doing but I would also really like relief.

Thank you for praying for me.

My love to you,


January 29, 2010.

Dear Melissa,

I had very similar feelings during the early months of my many pregnancies so what you are feeling is real. I felt very unsettled. Had a hard time settling my mind on anything. I couldn't even read a book---my mind would wander. I felt spiritually low. I couldn't get motivated to start any project. I wander from job to job wondering what to do next. Feeling like 'you wanted to crawl out of your skin' is a very good description of how I felt during the first three - four months of each pregnancy. I guess you could say with all of my pregnancies I was half crazy much of the time! :)

Don't despair. You are perfectly normal! :) I think God does this so we don't take on any big projects---just lay low so baby can grow! :) I believe it is the intense hormone changes that causes this.

This too shall pass. Use this time to not worry. It isn't spiritual but physical and slightly emotional! :) Try not to drive your husband up the wall with it all. :) (Man, I'm really rhyming today!)

This too shall pass.

I have been praying for you today and will do so for the next few weeks. When are you due?

And congratulations! You are blessed!!!!!

Love and hugs,

Aunt Helen

By the way, I always found the Psalms very comforting during my pregnancies. I remember pondering the words slowly and meditating on them through out the day.

Dear Aunt Helen,

Your rhyming made me laugh!! In fact, I'm going to read them again when I'm done writing back.

I cannot tell you HOW relieved I am to hear all of this from you! I had a sneaking suspicion that hormones were, at the VERY least, playing a part. But now I'm confident that it's all hormones. My mom pointed out that the state of my house is likely a culprit, as well. (We rearranged our house last week to create "Lovelynn's Very Own Room" -- although she's still sleeping with us a lot, it gives her her own space to play [and mess up!] -- and in the process, the house was turned topsy-turvy. Everything is either in a pile, or...yeah, no, everything is just in a pile!) She's coming over tomorrow to help me "put it all back together", but she pointed out that clutter and mess has been scientifically proven to have negative effects on people. I talked to my brother Michael some tonight too, and I told him that I really didn't think it was spiritual oppression. But, if it was God trying to get my attention, I didn't know what He was trying to say!

So now I can rest, knowing that He IS trying to get my attention and it's because He wants me to settle down and rest! :)

I am due Sept 22. I haven't been to the midwife yet but I'm 98% sure of the conception date because A.) I keep track of us and B.) I had ovulation pain that particular month. So I guess that makes me about 6 weeks along. We just found out...about 2 weeks ago. I only realized today, after my email to you guys, that I never "officially" announced it! o_o it's announced, I guess! *laugh*

Thank you for the congrats and thank you ESPECIALLY for the reassurances. I feel much better, knowing that it's normal. The last 3 or 4 days, all I could think to myself was, "something is wrong but I don't know what it is." Now I know what's really going on. (And pregnancy hormones was one of my candidates but I didn't remember feeling this way with my first pregnancy, probably because I had the luxury of sleeping all of the time.)

Much love to you! And thank you for your prayers! :)


How I love crisp fall apples!
Photo by Helen Aardsma, Fall, 2009.

Aunt Helen,

I had always assumed that you gave birth unassisted in your home but my mom said she thought you had a midwife. So my questions are:

1. Did you have a midwife attending?

2. Did you have to pay her?

3. How did you find her?

If you didn't have a midwife attending, what would be your advice to someone (me) considering unassisted homebirth? We may have to consider unassisted homebirth if we can't find a midwife. We just found out last week that the midwife we had lined up can't take our insurance and we can't afford $2000 out of pocket...



Hi Melissa,

I have never had unassisted homebirths and I do not recommend it. Most of the time things would go fine in an unassisted home birth, but if something does go wrong, you would never forgive yourself if you did not have competent help.

I always had midwives. I always paid them about $2000 out of pocket. We saved money each month for approx. $2000 a year to have for either weddings or births. :)

I contacted local LLL leaders and asked them. Any childbirth class leaders might know someone. Look up Lamaze classes on google for your local area.

Will your midwife not take monthly payments?

Another option, but not as desirable, is to go to a local birth clinic with a labor coach. That should be covered by insurance. Love,

Aunt Helen

Dear Aunt Helen,

Okay, that's good to know, Aunt Helen. Thank you for writing back.

She will take monthly payments but Mike doesn't want to pay $2000 out of pocket when we're ALSO paying money to the insurance company so that we don't have to pay childbirth expenses.

I will continue looking for a midwife that takes our insurance, then.

We had our first child at a birthing clinic. Definitely not as desirable. But it might just be what God wants me to do... Love,


Hi again,

You will be alot better prepared this time around, and it will be much easier, usually.

God has ways of closing doors and forcing us through others. Trust Him to lead you. He will.


Aunt Helen

Dear Aunt Helen,

Thank you, Aunt Helen! I am finding that to be true.



Early morning pickers in our Mulberry Lane Farm strawberry patch.
Photo by Helen Aardsma, June, 2010.

Hi Aunt Helen!

I have a few more questions for you.

Did your attending midwives carry medical mal-practice insurance? What are your thoughts on choosing a midwife who does NOT carry medical mal-practice insurance?

Would you be willing to tell me about your birth experience that ended in c-section? And in spite of that experience, do you still recommend a home birth over a hospital/birth center birth? Or are home births and birth center births equal in your mind?

Thank you for being available to me to ask questions! I feel like I'm navigating a jungle here, which doesn't make sense to me - with my first pregnancy/delivery, everything was so cut and dried and simple. I'm sure God has some reason for allowing me to go through all of this but I can't imagine what it is and I'm feeling rather overwhelmed lately.

Much love,


Dear Melissa,

I don't know if they did or not. I guess I didn't worry about it since I didn't know.

If you read back issues Volume 7 #5 and Volume 7 #4, it will tell you the whole story about my birth that ended in an emergency C-seciton. This was a planned home birth but the baby was too big (I believe I had pregnancy diabetes -- please be checked for this. The midwife was neglectful in this area and I was never checked for it. The baby was way too big because I eat too much. He was way too big because I eat to much and the wrong kinds of goods. I could have avoided a C-section if I had had proper knowledgeable midwive care. I trusted them too much. Again, you are in charge of your own health wherever you give birth!

I still recommend home birth over hospital birth. The options are not equal. Home first, birth center second, hospital third.

It is normal to feel overwhelmed during pregnancy. Par for the course. God will lead you.


Aunt Helen

Beautiful trees at Allerton Park. Photo by Helen Aardsma, September, 2010.

Dear Aunt Helen,

Thank you for sharing all of that, Aunt Helen! I need to watch what I eat then, because I also eat a lot and not the right foods. :( I only have two months left to go so hopefully I haven't done too much damage yet and eating right over the next couple of months will make a positive difference.

We are all set for a home birth! Please keep us in your prayers. :)



Dear Melissa,

Yes, changing your eating habits now will help. Try not to gain any more weight. The baby will get what it needs. Watch the carbs, sugars and fats. Try to eat fresh veggies and fruit, eggs, low fat diary, low fat meats (fish & chicken). Drink lots of water. No juices or sodas.

This was part of my devotional that I read today and I thought of you and so am sharing it with you.

"Heavenly Father, we have been careful and troubled about many things. Forgive us, and breathe into our hearts a great faith in Thee, that doubts and fears may not be able to break in on our peace. Fence us around today as with a wall of fire; let us hear they voice saying: Fear not, I am with thee. Amen."

Prayers and Hugs,

Aunt Helen

Dear Aunt Helen,

Thank you for sharing that, Aunt Helen! :)

The only juice I take in is orange juice lately -- been craving it something fierce! Usually only have a glass in the evening with my iron pill; I drink a lot of water throughout the day, although probably not enough - it's tough to drink that much water every day! I forget unless I'm thirsty and they say once you feel thirst, it's "too late".

I think my biggest problem area is fruits and veggies. I eat a lot of pasta and bread. :( So I will need to work on adding fruits and veggies to our next grocery trip.

You and my mom both sent me applicable devotions about anxiety today - I think God is trying to tell me something. Probably the same thing He said hundreds of times throughout the Bible: Do not worry!! I will do my best to obey. :)

Much love to you and your family!


Grapes at Allerton Park. Photo by Helen Aardsma, September, 2010.

Hi Aunt Helen!

I wanted to ask you how you slept with two children in bed. Should out toddler be on the other side of my husband or should both kids be in the middle? I'm worried that my toddler could roll onto the baby....

We're trying to encourage her to sleep in her toddler bed right next to our bed but she really doesn't seem ready for it and I don't feel comfortable forcing her to. At the same time, I'm worried about the baby's safety...




Dear Melissa,

Did you have your baby already? I guess I assume so! :) How did the birth go?

I had the children on either side of me, oldest one in the middle between dad and me and then the baby on the edge with a bed rail on the edge of the bed. Hard for me to get out of the bed, but I would crawl to the end and climb out. Seems to work best.


Aunt Helen

Dear Aunt Helen,

Thank you! I haven't had the baby yet but I'm due in two weeks so I'm wrapping up last minute details. We actually need to go out today and get the rest of the home birth supplies so we're ready if he decides to come early (which I'm hoping he will!).

We have a bed rail so that is something we can try! Thank you, Aunt Helen! We will let you know when we are in labor! :)

Love, Melissa.

Dear Melissa,

I didn't think you were due yet. I love the name John Michael!

We will be praying for you.

God is able to deliver you!

Psalm 143: Hear my prayer O Lord, give ear to my supplications! Answer me in your faithfulness, in your righteousness! Amen! And Amen!

Bless you dear niece!

Love and hugs,

Aunt Helen

To be continued........

I love my birdhouses, even in winter! Photo by Helen Aardsma, February, 2010.


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