Catherine Anne was born to us on May 13, 1988, 2 and half years after we’d been married.  The awe of motherhood took me by surprise.

My pregnancy had been rather uneventful…until the end.

I went in for my check up, two weeks before my due date, and had gained 16 pounds in one week.  I was so swollen and puffy.  When the doctor checked the reflex in my knee, I kicked him involuntarily!

I was told to go directly to the hospital.  I was appalled.  This was not on the schedule and I wasn’t ready to bring home a baby yet.  I’d been working on crafts and I still needed to clean up that area.  My bag wasn’t packed and mentally I wasn’t quite ready for delivery.  I begged the doctor to let me go home first and then go to the hospital.  He finally relented. I cleaned the house under Dave’s watchful eye and then we went to the hospital.

I had toxemia and the only cure was to get this baby out.  They tried pitocin   without success.  Nothing was working.  Finally I was prepped for a c-section.  I was devastated!  This wasn’t covered in the prenatal class we’d taken.

I remember when they lifted our baby into the air and announced it was a girl.  A girl?  I was so sure we were having a boy.  Not sure why I thought that since I’d never had a baby before and certainly had no idea about the differences in the way each sex carried.

Catherine was so precious, so tiny and so dependent.  I’d made the decision to nurse our baby and as soon as she was born, they laid her on my chest.  Amazing…

Because Catherine was early, she had a low bilirubin count and had to be under lights in our home.  I became engorged because she was so lethargic and didn’t really want to nurse.  The hospital sent over a breast-feeding consultant.  She was incredibly knowledgeable and patient.  She explained how the body worked and how beneficial breast milk was for the baby – not just for nutrition but for other aspects of the baby’s health.  For instance, she told me that if Catherine ever got a cold, don’t use the saline solution that most doctors would prescribe, instead, squirt breast milk up her nose.  She explained that the breast milk was just the right temperature and wouldn’t be as offensive as the saline water; the milk was sweet and would feel good hitting the back of the throat, unlike the saline; breast milk could be absorbed by the lung if it happened to go down the wrong tube – the saline solution in the lung could cause pneumonia;  breast milk had all my antibodies for fighting a cold – the saline solution had none.  Unbelievable!!  As I listened and put into practice the advice and wisdom this nurse shared,  my sphere of thinking began to expand.  Breast milk and nursing were created by our Creator.  What else could our bodies do because of the way they were created?  I began to question a lot of the practices society called acceptable.

I had a greater respect for my body and its functions, wanting constantly to know more.  I also wanted Catherine to have a good start to life.  Food became a point of focus, especially for her.  I started to make my own baby food, grinding up the vegetables that we had eaten and also the meat.  I’d freeze the pureed food in ice trays for easy portion sizes.  Of course at this point in my life, I was satisfied with the fact that I was using frozen vegetables from the store, organic hadn’t even crossed my mind!

Of course, Dave was the first to introduce chocolate to all of our babies!

I’m a bit of a rebel at heart and when we started the regular doctor visits, I’m afraid this aspect of my personality really began to show up.  I questioned the pediatricians constantly, wanting to know “why.”  Doctors aren’t real fond of people like me.  I went to one pediatrician in Seattle who came highly recommended.  It wasn’t long before I was in search of another doctor.

I was uncomfortable with all the shots that were “required.”  For pete’s sake, I’d lived through mumps and some of the other illnesses they were vaccinating for.  I wanted to know why she had to have these shots and was it my choice to say yes or no to their administration?  My biggest battle was over the polio shot.  I’d started reading about vaccinations – pros and cons.  I read an article about the polio vaccine, the difference between the dead virus and the live virus.  I wanted the dead virus one.  Well, they had to special order that one.  I didn’t care and I stood firm on my decision.

I’d read that the live virus polio had the potential to re-infect a person who might be changing the baby’s diaper, especially someone whose immunity might be compromised or an older person whose vaccination was no longer viable.  I wasn’t willing to take that risk.  The dead virus was much safer and still effective.

Interestingly, a couple of years after I’d made this decision to have my children vaccinated with the dead virus of polio, they took the live virus off the market and the only one available was the dead virus vaccination for polio.  What triggered this decision by the higher ups??  An increase in the cases of polio, a medical condition that had almost been eradicated.  Hmmmm, wonder where people were getting it?  Baby diapers perhaps?   …just a thought.

Until I had children and was responsible for another life, I’d never really questioned much about lifestyle and what I was eating.  I really believe this is when my interest in homesteading began in earnest.  I’ve always been interested in that era, the pioneers and how they lived.  Now I wanted to know how to live that lifestyle in today’s society.

My steps were slow but the ever increasing brood came quickly.

Dave was in ministry with a pastor’s salary.  When I was pregnant with number 4, we made a major decision.  Dave was going to start his own recording studio and we were going out on our own.  No more regular income, and no insurance.  Major changes came our way…