• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

How to time growing a family and starting a homestead?

 
Nicole Alderman
pollinator
Posts: 1081
Location: Pacific Northwest
107
duck forest garden hugelkultur
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Starting a family, and starting a homestead so often seem to come at the worst times for each other. For instance, we bought our property three years ago, and I got pregnant two months later. There was a LOT to do to start a homestead (garden beds to build, things to fix in the house, etc), and a lot of things we wished we could invest in (trees and other perennials, etc). And, there wasn't much time or money to do it in, especially with having a pregnancy that left me dizzy, weak and nauseous the whole time, and then the resulting colicky baby.

This leads me to today. We still have a lot of things for the homestead that need to get made and bought, and I finally can get quite a bit done because my colicky baby has turned into a toddler that can take himself to the potty and mostly entertain himself.

Buuuuuut, we want to have another child. So, the question is, do we prolong having the next one to invest more time/money into our homestead now, or just plow through another 2+ years of not being able to do much due to being pregnant and carrying for an infant?

What would/did you do? Any other related advice? Thanks!
 
Galadriel Freden
Posts: 352
Location: West Yorkshire, UK
15
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Nicole. I hope you don't mind me chiming in. I'm not a homesteader, but a parent with opinions

In my opinion, family really does come first. What are you building your homestead for, if not your family? With so many people that I know having fertility issues, my advice is to have children now! Get them out while you can.

That said, having a second child isn't quite as urgent as having a first, when you don't know if fertility is an issue.

If you do have another baby right away, I recommend using a sling to carry him/her around so you can still carry out your normal tasks. I had a backpack style carrier when mine was tiny, but it wasn't comfortable to wear, nor could I breastfeed with it on, so it didn't get used much. I eventually made a mei tai when my son was about a year old, and I wish I'd had it when he was tiny. So much more comfy, and hands free. We used it until he was about two and a half. I'm wearing him on my back here, but I usually wore him on my front.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I can relate to this so much! My twins are five now and the "baby" is two, we have two teens now and you can find posts of mine on permies going back to shed I was complaining about trying to farm with twin babies.

I include my kids in what I do, it slows me way down but there's a huge value to their education. I build their play and work spaces into my permaculture design (the baby sector, the child sector, the teenager sector) and let then help when possible. I think siblings have great value to each other whether they are close in age or far. If you want more, have em now, if you're not sure, wait! My daughter was ten when the twins are born and it's been nice. After five years of washing cloth diapers though, I'm so happy that the youngest is potty trained, phew.

Wwoofers have been essential to getting our systems in place. I couldn't have accomplished close to what I have without them.
 
Nicole Alderman
pollinator
Posts: 1081
Location: Pacific Northwest
107
duck forest garden hugelkultur
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I love opinions, thank you for chiming in! Thank you also for reminding me of why I'm doing this. It's easy to forget! And yes, part of the reason we had our son so soon after moving in is we didn't know if we'd be able to get pregnant.

I actually did use babycarriers as much as I could. I had the K'tan wrap to carry my little guy when he was little, and then transitioned up to boba carrier which I still love and use almost daily (my son just over two years old). It wasn't so much that it was hard carrying him as it was hard hearing him scream constantly while I worked. Now that he's oder and happier, I can work for an hour straight with hist 27 pounds on my back, only stopping because he needs to eat, etc. But, when he was little, he'd scream no matter what I did. I'd sing, I'd talk about what I was doing, I'd bounce, I'd try nursing (didn't work very well, I think because I'm short waisted so he was almost always above the milk). But he just would scream so much, and rarely slept in it. Granted, he screamed pretty much all the time, anyway, but if I was holding him I could distract and nurse him a lot easier than if I were working. Of course, many people told me to just let him scream and get my work done, but I just can't bring myself to do that for too long .

There's also the chance that #2 might be an "easy"/calm/happy baby, but I don't really put too much faith in that. But, even if our next little one doesn't cry all day, I'll still likely have 9 months of not really being able to do much. That's hard, because our budget is so tight and I really want to grow our food to help bring down our expenses, and that means having time to work the soil, make garden beds, prune the trees, etc, etc, etc.

I guess, in the end, my question seems to be about how to best organize our life to reduce stress and manage money/resources best. Is it best to get all the kids "out of the way" so as to be able to be over with the most difficult years sooner, or to spread them out so as to get a little bit done every year?
 
Nicole Alderman
pollinator
Posts: 1081
Location: Pacific Northwest
107
duck forest garden hugelkultur
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Galadriel Freden wrote:Hi Nicole. I hope you don't mind me chiming in. I'm not a homesteader, but a parent with opinions
]


Hey, I just took a quick stroll over to your blogspot. I see chickens, a garden, and quilting going on in just one post. You sure look like a homesteader to me!
 
Kelly Smith
Posts: 701
Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
18
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
i 2nd the having a baby now, worry about the homestead stuff later (hint: it will never all get done! )

we chose to have our kids close together (2 years apart) and then be done.
we have also had to put off plans to expand our dairy because its not doable with 2 kids under 3 years old. you have to make sure you keep a good balance and make sure you arent working your S.O. to death.
instead we are raising sheep (grass fed lamb) which do not require a daily harvest. its seems to be now about "what can i fit into the farm, in the X amount of 'spare' time i have"

i would also 2nd the baby carried idea. we have one that we really like. we have been wearing my son since he was ~4 months old. After he was alittle older, i would wear him when the weather was nice out.
we had the idea that we would be able to do all of the things we normally could while carrying a baby - in reality we could only do ~ 50% of the things we used to be able to do. weather/heat, dust and other concerns kept him (and consequently an adult too) out of action for a good part of the summer.


i also try to think back to what did people do back in the day? when things HAD to get done and sometimes that meant babies on backs in less than ideal conditions. so again, i think if you can you should try to strike a good balance.

below is a picture of me out irrigating while wearing him on my back.
he is also very interested in all the animals

1450222255987.jpg
[Thumbnail for 1450222255987.jpg]
 
Nicole Alderman
pollinator
Posts: 1081
Location: Pacific Northwest
107
duck forest garden hugelkultur
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Matu Collins wrote:I can relate to this so much! My twins are five now and the "baby" is two, we have two teens now and you can find posts of mine on permies going back to shed I was complaining about trying to farm with twin babies.

I include my kids in what I do, it slows me way down but there's a huge value to their education. I build their play and work spaces into my permaculture design (the baby sector, the child sector, the teenager sector) and let then help when possible. I think siblings have great value to each other whether they are close in age or far. If you want more, have em now, if you're not sure, wait! My daughter was ten when the twins are born and it's been nice. After five years of washing cloth diapers though, I'm so happy that the youngest is potty trained, phew.

Wwoofers have been essential to getting our systems in place. I couldn't have accomplished close to what I have without them.


Thank you so much for the input on spacing! My husband and his sister are only two years apart in age, and they are very close. He's afraid that if our kids are too far apart, they won't be friends and won't have a good bond.

And, yes, having them out of diapers is wonderful! My son is potty trained except for night/naps, and it's wonderful not having to clean poopy diapers and only having two diapers/day to clean!

You said you've used WOOFERS. I don't know much about the program, and have never actually considered hosting any. Do you pay them? House them? Feed them? I don't quite know if I have the ability to manage myself, my husband, my toddler, a baby, and a bunch of WOOFERS! Also, how far along on your homestead were you when you started having them come? We're still really early in our property's development, and I don't feel like an expert enough to teach others what to do. I would feel pretty bad having someone come that I can't actually guide or teach as well as a more qualified host...
 
Nicole Alderman
pollinator
Posts: 1081
Location: Pacific Northwest
107
duck forest garden hugelkultur
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Kelly Smith wrote:i also try to think back to what did people do back in the day? when things HAD to get done and sometimes that meant babies on backs in less than ideal conditions. so again, i think if you can you should try to strike a good balance.


I think the same thing when I'm out there. Often I'll just kind of mentally imagine that "the end of the world" has come and the only way to survive is to get the garden going...which really isn't too far off from the truth with our tight budget and our sad economy!

i 2nd the having a baby now, worry about the homestead stuff later (hint: it will never all get done! )

we chose to have our kids close together (2 years apart) and then be done.
we have also had to put off plans to expand our dairy because its not doable with 2 kids under 3 years old. you have to make sure you keep a good balance and make sure you arent working your S.O. to death.
instead we are raising sheep (grass fed lamb) which do not require a daily harvest. its seems to be now about "what can i fit into the farm, in the X amount of 'spare' time i have"

i would also 2nd the baby carried idea. we have one that we really like. we have been wearing my son since he was ~4 months old. After he was alittle older, i would wear him when the weather was nice out.
we had the idea that we would be able to do all of the things we normally could while carrying a baby - in reality we could only do ~ 50% of the things we used to be able to do. weather/heat, dust and other concerns kept him (and consequently an adult too) out of action for a good part of the summer.


Yes, the weather really does limit the time we can be out there! I noticed that this summer, too. It was often way too hot for him to be out there for too long. And, now it's too cold. So, while I could be out there getting more done, I can't with him. Thankfully, he's old enough to play in his room for a few minutes alone while I run out in the bad weather to get things done. But, I won't be able to do that with a baby!

You mentioned sheep. We've actually thought about sheep (we've got about an acre and half of unfenced pasture), but I figured the initial time/money investment would be too much at this stage of life. Did you already have structures and fencing in place when you decided to get sheep, or was it easy to set up and maintain the sheep? We have ducks right now, and we're able to manage them okay, though we did have some losses due to predators this fall (we've got bobcats, coyotes, bears) and so haven't been letting them free-range much .
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6139
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
187
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Two kids are often less work than one. A single child will look to the adult for companionship, entertainment etc. My daughter Jasmine bugged her mom during every waking hour when other children were not around. When her mom was getting paid to care for other children, Jasmine played for long periods without bugging for attention. Luckily, the neighborhood contained several girls her age.

She just turned 21 and will be a school teacher in June. Already, the benefits of pairing close aged children is apparent to her.

My eldest daughter is 6 1/2 years older than Jasmine. That's too much of a gap. Jasmine was constantly getting into her stuff, or inserting herself into social situations when older children visited. We had to referee and sometimes get her to leave the big kids alone.

She was always happy to hang out with me and participate in what I was doing. She found almost everything that her mother did, to be incredibly boring, thus the constant complaining. The phone is a mother's best friend, when a kid constantly complains of boredom.
 
Ann Torrence
steward
Posts: 1191
Location: Torrey, UT; 6,840'/2085m; 7.5" precip; 125 frost-free days
110
bee books chicken duck goat trees
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have no kids, so take this for what it's worth, but in these times, I would not take one's fertility for granted. If I knew I wanted a child, it would seem prudent to get that project rolling sooner rather than later, just in case it takes longer to get pregnant than the first time around.
 
Galadriel Freden
Posts: 352
Location: West Yorkshire, UK
15
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Nicole Alderman wrote:

Hey, I just took a quick stroll over to your blogspot. I see chickens, a garden, and quilting going on in just one post. You sure look like a homesteader to me!


Aw thanks!

Nicole Alderman wrote:
There's also the chance that #2 might be an "easy"/calm/happy baby, but I don't really put too much faith in that. But, even if our next little one doesn't cry all day, I'll still likely have 9 months of not really being able to do much. That's hard, because our budget is so tight and I really want to grow our food to help bring down our expenses, and that means having time to work the soil, make garden beds, prune the trees, etc, etc, etc.


I have a feeling you would still need to do this kind of work several years down the line anyway. I've been doing it for years, and I "farm" a tiny suburban plot.

I have read that 75% of babies are easy, and only 25% are "difficult" so odds are, a second one will be much easier. Even if not, it should be marginally easier the second time around anyway, as you kind of know what to do now!

Good luck, whatever you decide
 
Kelly Smith
Posts: 701
Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
18
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Nicole Alderman wrote:
You mentioned sheep. We've actually thought about sheep (we've got about an acre and half of unfenced pasture), but I figured the initial time/money investment would be too much at this stage of life. Did you already have structures and fencing in place when you decided to get sheep, or was it easy to set up and maintain the sheep? We have ducks right now, and we're able to manage them okay, though we did have some losses due to predators this fall (we've got bobcats, coyotes, bears) and so haven't been letting them free-range much .

the only thing we really had to change for sheep (vs dairy cows) was our daily pasture fencing. the sheep actually eat the "leftovers" from what the dairy cow doesnt/wont eat.

my point was just to try to find something that fits in with your available time and forage on site as you look to expand. you may end up doing something you hadnt thought of before. case and point - we are really lamb eaters in the past, we mainly added them to the farm because they fit our context.


as for the WOOFER idea - there are a variety of ways to set it up.
we plan to find someone that wants to market garden on our property and lease them the land/water. we need this person to be independent and a self starter - as we will be taking care of animals and raising a couple kids.
they could sell within our networks and keep 90% of the profits (or however you set it up).
we arent going to do this until we have an external place for them to stay and the kids are 18m+ - mainly for our sanity.

the idea is solid though - get someone who wants to do what you are doing onto your land. as long as its setup correctly, everyone benefits.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Nicole Alderman wrote:
Matu Collins wrote:I can relate to this so much! My twins are five now and the "baby" is two, we have two teens now and you can find posts of mine on permies going back to shed I was complaining about trying to farm with twin babies.

I include my kids in what I do, it slows me way down but there's a huge value to their education. I build their play and work spaces into my permaculture design (the baby sector, the child sector, the teenager sector) and let then help when possible. I think siblings have great value to each other whether they are close in age or far. If you want more, have em now, if you're not sure, wait! My daughter was ten when the twins are born and it's been nice. After five years of washing cloth diapers though, I'm so happy that the youngest is potty trained, phew.

Wwoofers have been essential to getting our systems in place. I couldn't have accomplished close to what I have without them.


Thank you so much for the input on spacing! My husband and his sister are only two years apart in age, and they are very close. He's afraid that if our kids are too far apart, they won't be friends and won't have a good bond.

And, yes, having them out of diapers is wonderful! My son is potty trained except for night/naps, and it's wonderful not having to clean poopy diapers and only having two diapers/day to clean!

You said you've used WOOFERS. I don't know much about the program, and have never actually considered hosting any. Do you pay them? House them? Feed them? I don't quite know if I have the ability to manage myself, my husband, my toddler, a baby, and a bunch of WOOFERS! Also, how far along on your homestead were you when you started having them come? We're still really early in our property's development, and I don't feel like an expert enough to teach others what to do. I would feel pretty bad having someone come that I can't actually guide or teach as well as a more qualified host...


We bought an ol' 1977 Ford Leprechaun RV to house the wwoofers. We have since cleared out and fixed up a section of our barn to be quarters for the colder weather, but mostly just have the help in summer when things are in full swing.

It is work to have the help, they need to be fed and take showers etc, but the best wwoofers are help with cooking and cleaning along with the farm help. I have done it a few different ways but the plan I have settled on for now is to have wwoofers for a week or two in the summer at a time, encouraging repeat visitors who worked out well in the past (training folks takes time, depending on what they do. Then I take a break of a week or two and then another wwoofer. I also have a once a week "one day wwoofer" day for locals and on the weeks I have help I sometimes have a Saturday work party. It's remarkable how many people will come for the morning to work! We usually work from 9-12, harvesting along the way and then we have a big salad we harvested with lunch. So many young people are rejecting the old consumerist junk food lifestyle, it's been fun cultivating a crop of earnest helpers.

I do pick and choose and don't invite everyone to come work with us. I have an application and I can smell a wwoofer who will be more work than help a mile away right there on the application. In fact some of the real stinkers don't even bother to fill it out. I have the lucky factor of being near the beach so folks love to come here for a cheap vacation. Two weeks of half a day of picking blueberries and pushing wheelbarrows around with afternoons free, free room and board!

The help has been great for one time projects like putting in new permanent beds and the yearly orchard mulching, and also especially key to harvesting, the biggest ongoing job all summer. It's a great kind of problem to have, having a bountiful harvest! But it's a heavy duty bummer to have produce go bad because nobody picked it and dealt with it. Chestnuts are a particularly annoying crop to have to harvest with little ones because of the super prickly burrs.

I do think, generally, the more the merrier. Ann's comment about fertility is apt. I got started on the kid thing seventeen years ago when a lot of my friends were out partying and free birdin' it. They had a lot of experiences I missed, but a surprising number of them are having trouble getting the babies they assumed would come when they were ready. Really, it comes down to do you want the kids or not. It's never easy, and it's always a lot of work but it's generally fun and worth the trouble.

Keep us posted, now I will be waiting to see how your family grows!
 
Nicole Alderman
pollinator
Posts: 1081
Location: Pacific Northwest
107
duck forest garden hugelkultur
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
You know, talking to you all is really therapeutic! It's been nearly three insane years that have just started calming down in the last five months, and I think my brain and priorities have gotten rather lost in all the day-to-day struggles and stress. I've spent the last two months just trying to enjoy the calm, and bucking against the idea of going through it all again. But, I did make it through, and I do want another kid, and I am doing this all for my "kids," and it's not really kids until there's two, right?

Also, I'm glad you all brought up the fertility issue. We were lucky to get pregnant on our first two tries, but the first one resulted in a miscarriage. That miscarriage could very well have been due to the PCOS that they discovered when I miscarried. I went on GAPS diet, and the second pregnancy resulted in my son. But, I can't trust that that will happen again.

So, our current plan of action is to go back on GAPS for at least a month before trying again, and shovel as many nutrient-dense foods as we can into me (I was so nauseous during my last pregnancy that I was stuck eating a lot of gluten-free pasta, dairy and fruit leather because that was all I could stomach). I want to make sure that, if I do get pregnant, that the little one gets the nutrients that he/she needs. Mmmm, liver and bone broth, here I come!

The finances of having a second one are quite the juggle, too. We want to make sure that the latter half (i.e. expensive half) of the pregnancy falls on one insurance year so that we don't have to pay much more than our $3,000 deductible. Babies are expensive! Part of me is torn between waiting another year just because of that. We're barely making ends meet with just one. How will we manage with two?! Most of our budget goes to paying for healthy foods, which is one of the reasons I'm so torn about balancing the homestead and the kids. If I were able to get more perennials up to producing age, and make garden beds that actually produce a significant of calories (and figuring out what likes to grow in our area), I wouldn't have to worry so much about finances. But, that takes years and an able body. Neither of which happen if I get pregnant right away. Gah!

I guess that's a question for you guys. How much more did subsequent children cost, and would it be prudent to save up more before having a second?
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Oh the fear of a miscarriage! I had one before the twins. When we went for the ultrasound I wasn't feeling very sick or tired, so I was really worried- I steeled myself for no heartbeat. And there were two! We were so surprised. Work on the farm slowed down for a while there!

It is such baloney that you have to worry about timing a baby for insurance!

I keep planting fruit and nut trees now imagining the time when I have three teenage boys in the house. "Go pick some plums"

 
Nicole Alderman
pollinator
Posts: 1081
Location: Pacific Northwest
107
duck forest garden hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Matu Collins wrote:It is such baloney that you have to worry about timing a baby for insurance!


It really, really is. We ended up paying almost $4,000 to have our son--$3,000 to reach the deductible, and then 10% coinsurance. And, my husband works at that hospital, and I have insurance through him! If I'd had no insurance, it would have cost--if I remember correctly from the statments--somewhere around the lines of $16,000. One could probably adopt a child at that price! Mine was a three day stay in the hospital (they had to dilate me since I was over three weeks overdue), but other than the medication to dilate me, I had no other meds. No epidural, no pitocin, no C-section, etc. I can't imagine the medical bills of those that have no insurance (or worse insurance than mine, as mine is pretty good compared to many's), and need a c-section, or their child goes in intensive care. It's scary.

What's also sad, is the amount of women who induce to have their baby before the end of the year. There's a huge influx of babies right before New Year's, as women try to push those babies out so as to have them before the insurance (and deductible) runs out. I would think that would have to be more dangerous to the babies and the mamas .

I don't think many people know just how expensive the medical bills are to have kids in this country. I didn't take it into consideration when I had my first--I was just concerned with conceiving! Now, I'm sitting here thinking, okay, I can get pregnant in January or February, or I have to wait until at least July, if not September, to try again. I guess I could just not pay my medical bills--as I'm sure many do--but I'm not okay with that!
 
Kelly Smith
Posts: 701
Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
18
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
our total was ~$182,000 after 5 days in the hospital pre-birth the NICU stay (19 days) after.
but i think it was under $7500 after insurance/deductible.

so i totally understand what you mean about trying to time it with new coverage year. its sad, but it has to be part of the planning in this day and age.



good luck and keep us updated!
 
Eric Hammond
Posts: 112
Location: SW Missouri
5
chicken hugelkultur solar
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm going the opposite and waiting until all of the infrastructure on the farm is done and bought and paid for before having children. I will be approximately 31 and will be able to quit my job and just be a stay at home dad/farmer. The idea of having children without absolute financial security its too scary for me. I'd rather risk infertility and adopt later then try and juggle everything at once now.
 
Nicole Alderman
pollinator
Posts: 1081
Location: Pacific Northwest
107
duck forest garden hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Kelly Smith wrote: our total was ~$182,000 after 5 days in the hospital pre-birth the NICU stay (19 days) after.
but i think it was under $7500 after insurance/deductible.


Oh. My. Goodness. When you're happy that it's under $7,500, you know the medical system is messed up!

Eric Hammond wrote:I'm going the opposite and waiting until all of the infrastructure on the farm is done and bought and paid for before having children. I will be approximately 31 and will be able to quit my job and just be a stay at home dad/farmer. The idea of having children without absolute financial security its too scary for me. I'd rather risk infertility and adopt later then try and juggle everything at once now.


That's a really good point, Eric. It was one of the reasons we put of having our first child for 5 years while I put my husband through college and saved money to buy our house/land. I recall being terrified that I would get pregnant before we had the money saved to get our own place. I had nightmares of trying to raise my child in the rental house in the bad part of town that we lived in, and having to go back to work just to pay the bills. My husband, on the other hand, was really anxious to have kids sooner rather than later, so that played into our decision-making process.

I was 28 and my husband 31 when we conceived, so about the same stage in life as you're planning on having yours. I wish we'd been able to get further along with things here before our little one came about, but I was planning on having 9 months of pregnancy to get things done, and to earn more money. My mother had a very easy pregnancy and labor, so I thought I would too. Alas, it did not work out that way. I think you're wise for waiting and getting as much done and saved now as you can. It's really hard to save once the first child comes along, which is where we're at now. I think you're striking a good balance, and I hope your wife is in agreement with you, because it's hard when one person wants the kid sooner than the other!
 
Jocelyn Campbell
steward
Posts: 3805
Location: Missoula, MT
284
books food preservation forest garden hugelkultur toxin-ectomy
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Nicole, I commend you on your thoughtfulness and intelligent intention with your parenting (and homesteading) decisions! Very impressive. Not many people are that careful or well-meaning in their family planning.

You've received excellent thoughts and advice so far. My kids are now almost 28 and just-turned 21, so I have some experience in this space - quite a bit of it from observing other families, actually. There's a permaculture principle for you!

As for fertility and spacing, I miscarried when my first-born was 5, so while we had intentionally avoided pregnancy for many reasons for those 5 years, we hadn't really planned to have 7 years difference (!). Miscarriages are far more common than I'd known about way back then, so I'm glad folks have mentioned them here. I don't think they are necessarily indicators of fertility issues in and of themselves.

My kids are close despite the 7-year gap - in part because I created systems were it was a benefit to each other to hang out together. Being an only child, my daughter (the first-born) was already acting far too adult-like at ages 5, 6 and 7. (Well, when she wasn't being a little goofball!) Having a little brother to play with, to entertain, helped her stay younger than she would have otherwise. Early on, I would give her choices like, "want to empty the dishwasher or play with your brother?" She'd always choose playing with him. Having a toddler thrilled to have big sis push him around on his fire truck and out from underfoot in the kitchen really felt like a win-win-win! She was VERY tall for her age; too tall for the playgrounds at places like McDonald's (I know!), that were still very age-appropriate for her, despite her size. We'd encourage her to go in and play "to watch her brother." Later, we paid her to babysit or tutor because we wanted it to be obvious that it was a benefit to her to take care of her brother, not a crummy obligation. He never got in her stuff, and overall, we had very, very little sibling conflict. That part was/is utterly fantastic.

The downside to the age gap is that it was like raising two only child's. (And the body resets so much that the birth is almost like a first birth again, too!) It's sort of easier to focus on an only child, though the parental focus on an only child can be a bit much - like a blinding spotlight at times. Plus, I felt SO ready to be done with car seats, and other limitations that having a young child brings, that we were very lax in some ways with our second child than I think we would have been if they were closer together.

The huge upside is that I never had the stress of having 2-3 kids in sports or activities with conflicting schedules. How do families manage that kind of crazy?

Enough about that. The parenting I wanted for my kids was FAR different from any parenting I'd experienced very directly myself. This is where observation came into play for me, and I think it might provide insight and support for how you choose how to homestead and grow with your family.

I started searching for information about the type of parenting that spoke to me, beginning with reading voraciously about parenting and parenting psychology. My favorite magazine was Mothering magazine. Reading it was like an affirming talk with a best friend. Love-love-loved it!

I can't recall all of the many book titles, though a few seminal ones were How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, a book on nursing by Ina May Gaskin, and one about the wonder of a child, that spoke to my heart more than anything.

The magazine and books helped, though for more direct support, I joined co-op preschools with each of my kids - starting when my daughter was 18 months old. The thing about co-op preschools is that they are accredited college programs for the parents, and include regular discussion and instruction on (pretty much) Adlerian-type child psychology. I could write a whole book on the co-op preschool stuff and it might not even be an option for most rural homesteaders! Suffice it to say that I was able to meet a lot of families, early on, that were also struggling with how to much to work, how much to do with their kids, how many kids to have - all of the parental choices fraught with best intentions! We had play dates in each others' homes, a play date calendar over the summer, we even had a babysitting co-op...and, little by little, I was able to observe how these other households functioned.

Mostly, I observed the choices the other moms made.

Frankly, I was struggling as a new mom to my daughter. I was exhausted all the time (I was chronically anemic and didn't know wheat was an issue until later). I was passionate about whole foods cooking even back then, so I spent a LOT of time in the kitchen and napped every time my daughter napped. Meanwhile, my house was so dirty that my daughter's socks would turn black (we had two indoor-outdoor retriever-mix dogs and a muddy back yard), and I barely had time to do the books for my husband's business. I desperately wanted to know how other moms did it.

The first thing I learned from other moms is that they cleaned or did the challenging things that needed doing when their kids napped. Zoing! Some moms cooked everything from a pre-packaged box/kit, or ordered take-out a lot, kept uber-clean houses, and seemed to have loads of time for doing what they wanted. Some moms did all kinds of art, crafts, people/community things, spent oodles of time in child-led activities, and the dirt and piles of unattended to things kind of kept building all around the house. Another family loved to cook, and that mom loved a SPOTLESS house. She told me she'd rather clean house than garden (!) so the landscaping around their suburban rambler looked quite barren and plain to me. A dear friend told me a story of a family that had three children closely spaced, all breastfed, and from all the time spent in baby care and feeding the piles everywhere had grown for about 6 years straight.

It was a lovely hodge-podge of choices, examples, and imperfectly perfect people. Mostly, it proved to me that one mom can't do everything. (Or one stay-at-home parent, any way.) People make time for what they love, or what needs attention, or what needs care before it spoils, or just what can be done with the time we have. We do our best.

It took me a long time to begin to have days where I felt, that was enough. It's okay to take a break now. I wasted a lot of very good years (yes, years) thinking I was lazy, thinking neither the then-spouse, or myself, were doing enough, or doing the right things. I over-thought everything.

Now I think that being exhausted at the end of the day is a good thing. It's really okay to not have the energy to do that other thing over there. Especially if it's been a day full of loving care for the people and things that matter to you.

As I'm looking at how much I wrote (Zoing! again!) I'm seeing that there really is a type of zen to this. It's both childishly simple (do what you love), and crazy-difficult at the same time (but I love it and want it all!). I guess that's what I mean by imperfectly perfect. Things will flow, and I think you'll handle it beautifully, Nicole; however it pans out. Because in my obnoxious opinion, I don't think there is a right answer for this. I think the biggest mistake is over-thinking or over-judging ourselves for the choices we make.

My wish for your is to give yourself the grace and space to savor a day (or years) well spent. Enjoy them!


 
Stephanie Ladd
Posts: 67
Location: Southeast Wisconsin, urban
2
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I agree with the others and say do it now. But I have some other thoughts to consider....

Not many people think about healthy child spacing. In other cultures, child spacing is very important to the health of mama and baby. I think 2-3 years is considered healthy. Some men can't even live with a women with a young child so that accidents don't happen.

Also, although I know many people aren't comfortable with this, midwives can be considerably less money than a hospital birth even after insurance. In my area, a midwife costs $4,000 with checkups, blood work, delivery, and post natal checkups. I haven't even given much thought to my insurance at this point, only in case of having to be transferred.

But I agree, fertility is something to be taken advantage of now. A good portion of my girlfriends that are my age (28 )are unable to have children due to fertility issues.
 
Mj Raichyk
Posts: 17
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
As I recall, the evidence said that your body recalls 'how-to' for about 2 years after which it's like starting new...... so if you delay much longer, then that benefit is not an issue pressuring action

Secondly, it is likely heresy to advocate 'vitamin C' at divided doses of total 5,000 mg per day to all you organic believers, but the fact is that the doctor's clinic where that C was the practice HAD 300 CONSECUTIVE TROUBLE-FREE BIRTHS while practicing that ritual... including a set of QUADS... every animal except humans and guinea pigs have internal organs that make their own C inside their system so the permie thing would seem to be to mimic the amounts that the rest of the animal world does to get through pregnancy.... Dr Klenner (his clinic) did the 5000mg/day for that reason and progressively upped the amount to about 15,000mg by third trimester.... with extra at delivery (including starting the baby on 100mg/day right away).... the nurses at the hospital always could identify those 'vitamin C babies' as so trouble free and happily alert, the deliveries were much easier........ take it however it suits your purist souls wish...

I appreciate this topic for a totally different reason, since my daughter has been delaying mate-seeking and family starting til we have our own naturescaped, micro-homestead past the d@#M regulators and crooked courts so I worry about my imagined 'grandkids' and all the turmoil of imagined 'growing' a family since she seems ultra calm....... hmmmmmm.... for the price of those insurance schemes (with hospitals and doctors who malpracticingly failed to vitamin C prep mothers) you could have a HBOT chamber and add that resource as insurance to lengthy delivery-hazards and have that oxygen-tech also denied us in the insane medical drug-monopoly (or just lease one for a year for way less)....... ttyl
 
Mick Fisch
Posts: 224
7
bee duck fish food preservation forest garden fungi trees woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My wife and I have almost raised 3 boys and 6 girls (no steps or blending, just ours). the oldest is almost 34. The youngest is 15. Our childbearing started in 1982 and went to 2001. So far, my four oldest married wonderful people and have provided us with 10 grandchildren with another due in July. I expect the younger 5 to follow suit in the next decade. During the last 3 decades the 'expert advice' has shifted like the wind on a number of things that science had 'proved'. So, be warned, there are fads in everything, even science and medicine. Listen to what the experts say, but THINK!

Every case and every set of individuals are different, but I would like to offer a few generalities.

1. Traditional ways of raising children, have one really good argument for them. Political correctness be damned, they have been proven in the furnace of affliction to work. By the furnace of affliction, I mean the day to day battle to deal with fatigue, sickness, colic, poverty and temporary (hopefully) loss of faith. All the traditional societies I know of are multigenerational. In america that system broke down because of the western expansion. Over human history that is just a hiccup. There are no traditional societies I know of without fathers in the home. Things don't always work out, I understand, but raising kids is really hard for two people and should really have more people involved. Doing it alone would be unbelievably hard. Also, men and women bring different things to parenting.

Every traditional society I know of made raising children an extended family function, with inputs from the neighbors (when I was a kid and misbehaved at the other end of the neighborhood, the news generally beat me home via the housewife internet). I had a psychologist tell me one time that the break down of the extended family is what gives psychologists their jobs.


2. There is never a convenient time to have a baby. Go for it! It's easier when your body is young and strong. At twenty I could not comprehend how much less I would be physically in a scant 4 decades. If you start your homestead and family young your children will have the blessing of growing up on homestead instead of missing that experience. I wish I had started much earlier, but we live, we learn.

Babies are, by definition inconveniant. There will always be at least one more thing you need to do before it's time to have children. Every time my wife got pregnant, her mother took me to task for being so inconsiderate of her daughters health. Meanwhile, my mom would take my wife to task for being so inconsiderate as to get pregnant. Didn't she realize how hard I had to work to keep food on the table? After a while, we decided it was funny. Neither mother-in-law wanted to admit their own darling was part of such a dumb decision. They both adore their grandkids.

3. Take time for each other after the kids arrive! This goes contrary to a new mothers instincts, but a weekly date is really important, even if all you do is sit in car and talk (every week might not be doable if you're away from family, but it's a goal). As a husband, I am against having children sleep with us on a regular basis. Unless there is a really pressing reason, that is my time. Pillow talk is important, as well as a love life. Kids in bed inhibit both. In the nature of things, when a woman has a child the husband drops from number one in her life to somewhere around #5. The baby is the first 3, the wife comes next because she realizes she has to be healthy enough to care for the baby. I am not complaining. I see it as a basic biological imperative on the part of the mother. Even so, dropping from #1 to #5 is hard on the husband. Women will say, "hey, suck it up", but the man's feelings are real and need to be addressed. The couple are the basis of the family and for the family to persist, the couple need time together, alone. It can be hard for a young mother, but it's important. My sister thinks that the fact that she slept with her colicy baby for a couple of years broke up her marriage. I disagree. their marriage was screwed up in other ways, but I think it was probably a contributing factor. A date night is a LOT easier if you have family around.

4. Fertility has a shelf life, particularly for a woman's first child, but overall fertility has dropped dramatically over the last 60 years. We could argue about why, but the trend appears to be solid.

5. In 90 years you will be dead. You will have spent the years of your life on something. Make it something that is of genuine worth to you and others. In the end, our relationships are all that matter to us. Family relationships (with a few exceptions) are the only relationships I have found last for decades.

6. The more you can get your family involved with your kids, the better (unless they are the sort of people who will seriously damage your kids lives, etc). They will come at things a little different than you do, which will broaden your kids understanding. My oldest came home from school one day when he was about 16 and told me that he was going to do some things I wouldn't like, because he needed experience, because experience was the best teacher. I told him that wasn't right, but at the time I didn't know quite what to say to him. I could see my son thought he had a winning argument to do what he wanted, but knew he shouldn't. Later that day my dad dropped by and my son repeated his statement to my dad. My dad was quiet for a moment, then responded. "No, experience isn't the best teacher. It's the most expensive teacher." Ended the discussion right there and my son never brought it up again. Problem is, now days a lot of people don't even live within an hour of their family. My siblings and parents are all in Alaska and I'm in the wilds of southern Indiana. My married kids are in Colorado and Utah. I'm retiring in a year or two and we are planning to move out west to be closer to our grandkids.

7. Don't worry about population growth too much. In the US, Canada and Europe the population bomb has fizzled out. The US hit zero population growth in the 70's and has been well below maintenance levels ever since. The only reason our population hasn't decreased is because of massive immigration. Same with Europe. While I think it is a wonderful thing to help other people, choosing not to have children so you can will your house to the neighbor kids seems a little odd to me, but that is what the US and Europe are doing. The wonders of birth control have been successfully taught to the third world. Even Mexico is now at zero population growth and the powers that be are making progress in Central America and Africa. I am not arguing for no birth control, I'm just saying think it through and make your own choices. If only idiots have children, what should we expect the children to be like? If you choose to not have kids because they get in the way of you doing your thing, be honest and admit it. I fully expect to be lambasted for daring to make this statement.

8. With more children you will have less time for each child, but it isn't really a mathematical win/lose situation. You will have lots of group interactions. Also, each child will interact with their siblings. Overall I think it balances out. Be extra careful in raising the older kids because they will create a "peer group" in your own house, with it's own traditions. You will have a lot of influence on it, but it may go ways that will surprise you.

9. Enjoy the ride. Don't think you are going to be perfect. You won't be. Don't think a few mistakes will ruin you kid. Mistakes are part of learning, for kids and old kids raising kids. Love on them, set limits and share. Teach, if necesary use words! Stories help us make sense of things. Tell stories.

10. In the end, raising children is a matter of faith. I am not referring, necessarily to religion (although I am religious), but faith that raising a child is worth the pain, faith that you, even with your physical, emotional and financial limitations can do this, faith that your child will make the world a better place in some small way, faith that things will work out if you just don't give up!

FINALLY There will be no Joy or Pain in your life greater than what you will feel in parenting. I can only give you my own perspective. Is it worth it? HELL YES!!! In the end, marrying my wife and raising my kids may be the only thing I've done that was really worth doing.



 
Steven Kovacs
Posts: 174
Location: Western Massachusetts (USDA zone 5a, heating zone 5, 40"+)
7
urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'll echo Mick's points on multi-generational families and getting your extended family involved. The lack of such extended families to provide support and multiple perspectives / roles makes raising kids in America far harder than it should be. I've been incredibly lucky to have my in-laws able and willing to help out several times a week - it's saved us several times when sickness or other crises hit, and it's wonderful for my daughter to grow up with such a close relationship with her grandparents.

Nicole, do you have any family nearby? Do you have any family you could induce to move near you, or visit for an extended period?
 
Stephanie Ladd
Posts: 67
Location: Southeast Wisconsin, urban
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
As a husband, I am against having children sleep with us on a regular basis. Unless there is a really pressing reason, that is my time. Pillow talk is important, as well as a love life. Kids in bed inhibit both


This is an interesting perspective I hadn't considered. However, co-sleeping has been a part of our evolution since before fire. Mama neanderthals didn't have a nursery for baby neanderthals. And you can bet a lot of nookie took place depsite baby being around. I wonder if this is one of the reasons for such a poorly developed sexual soul in woman and men these days? No pictures of healthy sexual relationships in children's lives sure can make room for some really unhealthy sexual pictures to form once they start learning more from a peer group. Of course, in our society, having sex with your mate in bed where your child is sleeping is grounds for Child Protective Services to come and take your children away, so I am not necessarily saying we should do that but just opening the discussion up for it and wonder, traditionally, what that looked like.
 
Mick Fisch
Posts: 224
7
bee duck fish food preservation forest garden fungi trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We can't be sure what arrangements mama neanderthal had, since multi-generational seem pretty universal as far back as you can go.
Actually, my problem is less with babies than with toddlers. We always had the baby in a crib, basinet or padded drawer next to us for our own convenience. We both wanted the baby asleep when we had sex, (I can vouch that nothing destroys the mood more than a crying baby, especially for a new momma) but other than that we didn't worry about it. I'm sure the baby woke up once or twice to see the blankets bouncing. Didn't seem to scar them too much that I can see.

There comes a time though when children need to be out of the bed. I've known a few women who insisted on their baby sleeping with them every night when the 'baby' was three, which I have a problem with. At that point it seems to me they are trying to avoid their husband.

This brings up two other issues though.

1) I'm sure everyone has heard of someone falling asleep and accidentally smothering the baby. This apparently happened with one of my wife's aunts (or maybe great aunt). She was evidently a busty woman and fell asleep nursing the baby and rolled over a little and smothered the baby with her boob. This is everyone's nightmare. It can't be a common thing, since the race survived, but once is too much if it happens to be your child. Some might say it's an old wives tale, but a lot of old wives tales turn out to have an element of truth. I think maybe the calculated placement of pillows would help, but we rarely slept with the baby in bed for fear of this happening.

2) Keeping the baby warm. Baby's are small and can get cool off easily. and in a winter cabin you need to really pay attention to making sure they don't get too cold, or too hot. For their size, they are little heat generators, but when they are really small, you need to be careful.
 
Mick Fisch
Posts: 224
7
bee duck fish food preservation forest garden fungi trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
There's also the chance that #2 might be an "easy"/calm/happy baby


I think your chances of an easy/calm/happy baby are much better on the second child. Both parents, but especially the mother, tend to stress out way too much on the first child. Not saying there's not a reason, I mean it's a pretty steep learning curve, but babies are really good at picking up on your moods. If your wound up, the baby will be wound up. By the second child parents have a better idea of what's important and what isn't and their stress level goes down some, with the baby following suit. It might be that the stress effects the milk in some way, I don't know.

Add to this, every woman is different and she finds that some things in her diet make the baby gassy, some don't. A collicy baby stresses everyone. When she figures out what works and what doesn't she can end that problem.

I don't know why, but for our first baby no one mentioned things the mother ate making the baby gassy. We were starving students and eating mostly homemade chile, refried beans and home made bread. We eventually heard about the connection and over several months figured out that, for my wife, beans, garlic and onions both gave the baby gas pains. My oldest screamed/cried for most of his first 9 months. I think the activity (crying is a babies exercise, he started creeping WAY before any of the others and was walking at about 9 months) made his extra athletic, at least I hope so. I want there to be an upside to our ignorance.

My oldest daughter found chocolate gives her babies gas pains.

All that said, every baby comes out with a complete personality. I believe that the "blank slate" theory is made by people who don't have many children of their own. We have a huge affect on our childrens lives, but from what I've seen, they come out with their own personality.
 
Stephanie Ladd
Posts: 67
Location: Southeast Wisconsin, urban
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Mick Fisch wrote:
We can't be sure what arrangements mama neanderthal had, since multi-generational seem pretty universal as far back as you can go.
Actually, my problem is less with babies than with toddlers. We always had the baby in a crib, basinet or padded drawer next to us for our own convenience. We both wanted the baby asleep when we had sex, (I can vouch that nothing destroys the mood more than a crying baby, especially for a new momma) but other than that we didn't worry about it. I'm sure the baby woke up once or twice to see the blankets bouncing. Didn't seem to scar them too much that I can see.

There comes a time though when children need to be out of the bed. I've known a few women who insisted on their baby sleeping with them every night when the 'baby' was three, which I have a problem with. At that point it seems to me they are trying to avoid their husband.

This brings up two other issues though.

1) I'm sure everyone has heard of someone falling asleep and accidentally smothering the baby. This apparently happened with one of my wife's aunts (or maybe great aunt). She was evidently a busty woman and fell asleep nursing the baby and rolled over a little and smothered the baby with her boob. This is everyone's nightmare. It can't be a common thing, since the race survived, but once is too much if it happens to be your child. Some might say it's an old wives tale, but a lot of old wives tales turn out to have an element of truth. I think maybe the calculated placement of pillows would help, but we rarely slept with the baby in bed for fear of this happening.

2) Keeping the baby warm. Baby's are small and can get cool off easily. and in a winter cabin you need to really pay attention to making sure they don't get too cold, or too hot. For their size, they are little heat generators, but when they are really small, you need to be careful.


I live in a city where a lot of co-sleeping deaths occur. And as a daycare directer, I am well versed in that whole subject. However, these deaths almost always occur when there are 2 factors present: Obesity and being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

To address the warmth thing, I can't think of a better way to keep a baby thermoregulated than having her next to your skin.

I also like to not just consider the "what I want" factor and consider the psychological effects of sleeping alone in a dark room by yourself when you are 2. Could there be some? Probably. I can say for certain toddler neanderthals weren't sleeping in there own dark caves at 2 years old. There would be too much risk of them wandering off and getting eaten by a big thing with teeth.

And in terms of women avoiding there husbands.... I am not sure that argument stands with every family. Maybe a few, but I think we need to be careful about generalizing.

Anyways, I think the conversation should return to the original question, however, maybe a moderator could move this to it's own separate thread because I think there is some useful info in this discussion.

 
Mick Fisch
Posts: 224
7
bee duck fish food preservation forest garden fungi trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I whole heartedly agree on the best way to keep a baby thermoregulated is against your skin. This is actually a good argument for having a loose coat. I seem to remember having to put a baby inside my parka several times when we were outside in the winter because my wifes coat was too tight to zip over the baby. A looser coat is usually warmer anyway. In addition, I think there's nothing that gives a baby more security than sleeping with it's parents. I was just trying to point out the need for a little care. I was just trying to widen the thought to include the needs of the whole family.

No aspersions or accusations were intended when I mentioned older kids sleeping with their parents. My comment was limited to few specific, disfunctional relationships I've seen. Every situation is different. I've had kids with nightmares crawl into our bed many times. Makes for a crowded nights sleep, but you adjust.

I hadn't heard that alcohol/drugs and obesity were associated with co-sleeping deaths, but that makes a lot of sense. When we did have a small one in bed with us I always slept really light, checking on the baby frequently. I'm pretty sure my wife did also.


 
Mick Fisch
Posts: 224
7
bee duck fish food preservation forest garden fungi trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This is an interesting perspective I hadn't considered. However, co-sleeping has been a part of our evolution since before fire. Mama neanderthals didn't have a nursery for baby neanderthals. And you can bet a lot of nookie took place depsite baby being around. I wonder if this is one of the reasons for such a poorly developed sexual soul in woman and men these days? No pictures of healthy sexual relationships in children's lives sure can make room for some really unhealthy sexual pictures to form once they start learning more from a peer group. Of course, in our society, having sex with your mate in bed where your child is sleeping is grounds for Child Protective Services to come and take your children away, so I am not necessarily saying we should do that but just opening the discussion up for it and wonder, traditionally, what that looked like.


Traditionally, most homes throughout history were small, one room or one room and a loft. No matter how you try to avoid it, there would be no way to hide the fact that something was going on under the covers from an alert child sleeping a few feet away. Rather than alarming the child, especially if it was something that was going on from babyhood, I think it would make them feel more secure (Mom and Dad love each other). Also, once people started raising animals (particularly large animals), the physical facts of life become pretty clear pretty fast to children, but stripped of any glamour or romance. Animals breed.

I agree that hiding from them any healthy sexual relationships, and then compounding that with a sense of mystery and a misinformation can lead to all kinds of strange attitudes, especially with a largely ignorant peer group to help. Kids are really curious. If you want to make them fixate on something, wrap it in a box all fancy, celebrate it everywhere in society but make it a point to not quite let them see it. We are so disfunctional!
 
Nicole Alderman
pollinator
Posts: 1081
Location: Pacific Northwest
107
duck forest garden hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Sorry I've been gone for so long. I've been horribly fatigued and nauseous for the past month (intemperate that how you will in light of the above conversation....), in addition to being sick for almost two weeks. Needless to say, I've been barely able to care for myself and my son (poor kid), let alone the garden or the house. Sadly, permies has taken a rather distant last place . I used to be able to come on here during nap and for a few minutes after my kid went to sleep...but now I just sleep all that time, and it's barely enough.

I wanted to say, thank you all for all you help and advice in this thread. It's been really reassuring and helpful. This fall/winter, I really hit it hard in the garden, and got three garden beds/hugels built, as well as a edible wetlands dug and planted, and most of the wild salmonberries pruned so they don't take over. I'm hoping that, even if I continue to be utterly useless for the next few months, the garden will take care of itself as long as I just get the seeds in. Thankfully it's been a horrendously rainy spring, so I never have to worry about watering!

I'm going to try to answer some of the questions before I crawl back into bed...

Stephanie Ladd wrote:
Also, although I know many people aren't comfortable with this, midwives can be considerably less money than a hospital birth even after insurance. In my area, a midwife costs $4,000 with checkups, blood work, delivery, and post natal checkups. I haven't even given much thought to my insurance at this point, only in case of having to be transferred.


I don't really know how supported midwives are in our area, or how covered by insurance they are. But, my health plan has a $3,000 deductable, so once I reach that that's pretty much the max that I'm spending for the year. I think my son ended up costing a little under $4,000 when all was said and done last time. Thankfully, we've been able to save up about $2,400 in our health savings account (my husband's company contributes $1,000/year, so we've been trying hard not to use it up, so it will be there for #2)

Steven Kovacs wrote:I'll echo Mick's points on multi-generational families and getting your extended family involved. The lack of such extended families to provide support and multiple perspectives / roles makes raising kids in America far harder than it should be. I've been incredibly lucky to have my in-laws able and willing to help out several times a week - it's saved us several times when sickness or other crises hit, and it's wonderful for my daughter to grow up with such a close relationship with her grandparents.

Nicole, do you have any family nearby? Do you have any family you could induce to move near you, or visit for an extended period?


I do have family nearby. My parents and brother's family are 30 minutes away, and so is my husband's father. But, my parents are of the mindset that since they survived raising kids by themselves, I should be able to as well. They're really great about coming and helping with big house projects and cutting up firewood, but taking care of the kid(s) and helping with the domestic stuff...not so much. But, they are really wonderful people, and are great with my son when we get to see them. But, help with the nitty-gritty of having a screaming baby and no sleep, not so much.

During my last no one aside from my brother's wife (bless her!) cooked me any food. The pot of soup she made was such a lifesaver, but I really wish there'd been more support, and that I wasn't so lost in sleep-deprivation and (likely) postpartum depression to ask for help. Thankfully, we ended up moving to another church, and the childcare directer was telling me about how they'll schedule meals, etc (our last church was so large, that there wasn't any thing set up like that).

Mick Fisch wrote:
There's also the chance that #2 might be an "easy"/calm/happy baby


I think your chances of an easy/calm/happy baby are much better on the second child. Both parents, but especially the mother, tend to stress out way too much on the first child. Not saying there's not a reason, I mean it's a pretty steep learning curve, but babies are really good at picking up on your moods. If your wound up, the baby will be wound up. By the second child parents have a better idea of what's important and what isn't and their stress level goes down some, with the baby following suit. It might be that the stress effects the milk in some way, I don't know.

Add to this, every woman is different and she finds that some things in her diet make the baby gassy, some don't. A collicy baby stresses everyone. When she figures out what works and what doesn't she can end that problem.

I don't know why, but for our first baby no one mentioned things the mother ate making the baby gassy. We were starving students and eating mostly homemade chile, refried beans and home made bread. We eventually heard about the connection and over several months figured out that, for my wife, beans, garlic and onions both gave the baby gas pains. My oldest screamed/cried for most of his first 9 months. I think the activity (crying is a babies exercise, he started creeping WAY before any of the others and was walking at about 9 months) made his extra athletic, at least I hope so. I want there to be an upside to our ignorance.

My oldest daughter found chocolate gives her babies gas pains.

All that said, every baby comes out with a complete personality. I believe that the "blank slate" theory is made by people who don't have many children of their own. We have a huge affect on our childrens lives, but from what I've seen, they come out with their own personality.


Oh, I sure wish this would be true, but I won't place my faith in it! I was the second child, and was far more difficult than my brother. I didn't nap, I was stubborn, and I didn't sleep through the night until I was three, and even then it took me 1-2 hours of lying in bed to fall asleep, much to my distress.

As for changing diet to help with colic, I did that. After about two months of my son constantly screaming, I went on a total elimination diet, eating only pears, rice, lamb, turkey, sweet potatoes and pumpkin. After a month of that, I slowly introduced more foods (people were jealous of how quickly I lost my pregnancy weight--they should try pacing all day with a screaming baby while eating only 6 foods, and said baby nursing non-stop). Anyway, the elimination diet helped a lot, his crying cut down by about 1/3 to 1/2...but he still cried and fussed a lot more than other babies, and never wanted to be put down. Of course, because he was so "needy" he got a lot of parental interaction and hit all his milestones early and is a really smart little boy. But, it sure would have been nice if he'd play by himself some times! (I did not care for the advice to "put him down and let him scream while you cook dinner and clean the house." If his screams had just been fussing, rather than all our pain cries, I probably would have done that. As it was, I couldn't do it. My house wasn't worth it...)



Well, I should crawl back in bed. I just wanted to thank you all for your help, encouragement, and advice!
 
Mick Fisch
Posts: 224
7
bee duck fish food preservation forest garden fungi trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
On the plus side to a second child, eventually the two children will interact with each other, leaving you more time than with just the one child. Right now, it's you and your little one, so who else is he going to play with, talk to, etc. Like everything else in permaculture, the benefit has some "grow in" time. New born babies are only interesting for a minute or two to a toddler. Over a year or so the older child will start playing with his younger sibling more. At first, the younger sibling might be more like a prop for the older ones internal play or a witness for the older one to show off to, but they'll adjust to each other as the little one grows.

We made it a point over the last few months of each pregnancy to talk up the 'promotion' the older child was getting. He/she was moving from the baby to a BIG BROTHER/SISTER, with all whatever rights and privileges we could come up with (often they were actually thinly disguised responsibilities). Overall, it helped, but the kid quickly realizes he isn't getting as much attention as before, so it calls for special efforts from the father, since mom will be focused a lot on the new baby (I think it might be to some degree a womans biological programming).

Most of our kids were about 18 months to 2 years apart and that seemed to work well. We had a 5 year gap between #5 and #6. #5 got too used to being the 'baby' and didnt' want to give it up and didn't develop the closeness with her immediately younger sister that the others did. The good news is they are really close now, it just took a while. (It may have been their personalities rather than the gap. #5 is exceptionally shy and #6 is exceptionally forcefull. I only have my own brood to analyze and general conclusions drawn from a small group are suspect.)

My mom had 6 kids and she told me that at one point she called her grandma in tears. She was sick, exhausted, depressed and just used up. She had 4 kids and the oldest was about 6, the youngest was tiny and at least two were in diapers. She poured out her heart to her grandma (who had raised 12) and when she was done her grandma told her "I want you to know that these are the happiest days of your life." My mom cried and said if that was the case she had better kill herself now. Grandma listened and said "I know it's really, really hard right now, but when you look back you will see that these are the happiest days of your life." My mom hung up the phone feeling very unsatisfied and kind of mad at her grandma. She says now, looking back, her grandma was right. Even with all the tears, fatigue and frustration, having her little ones around was the happiest time of her life. (She's over 80 now, snowbirding with my dad between summers in Alaska and winters in Arizona).

May God's Blessing be on You. You are at the start of the adventure of a lifetime (literally).
 
Steven Kovacs
Posts: 174
Location: Western Massachusetts (USDA zone 5a, heating zone 5, 40"+)
7
urban
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Nicole Alderman wrote:
Steven Kovacs wrote:I'll echo Mick's points on multi-generational families and getting your extended family involved. The lack of such extended families to provide support and multiple perspectives / roles makes raising kids in America far harder than it should be. I've been incredibly lucky to have my in-laws able and willing to help out several times a week - it's saved us several times when sickness or other crises hit, and it's wonderful for my daughter to grow up with such a close relationship with her grandparents.
Nicole, do you have any family nearby? Do you have any family you could induce to move near you, or visit for an extended period?


I do have family nearby. My parents and brother's family are 30 minutes away, and so is my husband's father. But, my parents are of the mindset that since they survived raising kids by themselves, I should be able to as well. They're really great about coming and helping with big house projects and cutting up firewood, but taking care of the kid(s) and helping with the domestic stuff...not so much. But, they are really wonderful people, and are great with my son when we get to see them. But, help with the nitty-gritty of having a screaming baby and no sleep, not so much.


Some help is better than none, but I'm sorry to hear they're not as sympathetic as they could be. I wonder if people of our parents' generation just forget how hard it was to raise kids, or if it was it easier for them. Certainly living on one salary is a lot harder now. I wonder if there was more support from family and community back then, too. I'm glad you have the church to help out - I'm not religious and I often wish there were a church-like group for people like me to be a part of, just for the social elements of it.
 
Mick Fisch
Posts: 224
7
bee duck fish food preservation forest garden fungi trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
One of the big differences between years ago and now is that unsupervised play is now viewed as bad parenting. When I was a kid my folks didn't really know where I was most of the time, and everyone was ok with that. The neighbor woman noticed what went on out of their windows and kept each other updated. I read recently about a couple getting in trouble back east somewhere because they let their preteen walk home the park (about a mile). I don't know if there are actually more weirdos out there now, or just our awareness has gone way up, but the amount of parental supervision some groups in society are demanding has gone through the roof.

 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1264
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
16
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I wore my kids as well. In fact my daughter will be three in a week and she still goes in the backpack. I also had a nice plastic pool that I'd fill with toys, blankets and snacks and both kids would be in it while I was digging mini kraters.

They eat dirt. They cry while our pig gets his arse sown up. Pig cried a bit too. They've eaten poop too. They've been bit by horses and attacked by what was dinner 5 minutes later. They plant seeds. They walk the orchard endlessly. They know more about animals and where food comes from than most people at the library story time.

I guess I'm saying you do what you do with kids or without them. Might be easier without them but it's funner with. Teaching moments!
 
Miles France
Posts: 5
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have six kids (My Wife actually had them I was just a small part of the process) they range in age from 25 to 6 with the four younger ones still living with us. We are building a small homestead in Alaska and currently live in a 32 foot RV down by the river (its really a creek but its mine and its beautiful). Don't wait to have kids. The farm will never be done enough and you will never have enough resources. The pursuit of material things is an empty lonely endeavor. Kids raised on the farm don't care if their clothes come from the thrift store, they get to experience the joys of new life and the sadness of death, they know where their food comes from, they know what work means. Anyway don't wait to have kids.

 
Nicole Alderman
pollinator
Posts: 1081
Location: Pacific Northwest
107
duck forest garden hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Figured I'd give another update and a big thank you to everyone who contributed to this thread. The newest member to our household was born two months ago. Thankfully she's generally an "easier" baby than her brother. I also insisted on getting help--which you guys really gave me courage to do . My husband has been home with me for the last two months (he had 2 months worth of Paid Time Off/sick leave), and that's been a real life saver.

The pregnancy was hard (horrible fatigue and nausea, bed rest, floppy joints). During the last few months, my parents came weekly and helped with household chores, playing with my sons, and doing home maintenance. They were life-savers! But, the garden and property was mostly left to itself, and it was really hard seeing so much of my garden and property going down hill. The trails didn't get maintained, multiple garden beds got a "fallow" year because I couldn't weed them, my food forest under story got overtaken by creeping buttercup and grass. Thankfully, with baby being born in late fall, there hasn't been much I've needed to do in these two months, and i'm hoping I'll be able to get more done with her on my chest and my son playing more by himself (finally!).

So far, so good. We're managing to juggle our way through life. We'll see how things go when my husband goes back to work in two days!

Thank you all for your encouragement and advice. It really helped during the hard times in my pregnancy  ♥
 
Jamie Davis
Posts: 24
1
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Great update. We bought our country home on 6.5 acres and promptly had 3 kids in 3 years. It was less than ideal to say the least. I ended up doing the minimum outside so i could help inside. For out evolving food forest that meant nurturing wild edibles via mulching and clearing around them and atrmpting to keep the invasives controlled. So many projects i would have liked to do first, such as earthworks to get the hydrology moving in the right direction. But my wife and kids are well which is why i wanted land to begin with.

Good luck!
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!