Parenting with Safety and Wisdom

Way back in the beginning of 2014, before I even announced that I was pregnant, I started writing a series on the parenting vision that Cory and I have for our family. I wrote about putting God at the center, attachment parenting, and intentional living as important key areas we want to focus on as parents. Since then, I’ve been busy and distracted with making a baby, and I never got around to finishing the series! I’d like to do that now, and share the final piece of our parenting vision—teaching safety and wisdom.

Although safety and wisdom in some ways intersect with living intentionally, there are many specific “safety” areas that we plan to emphasize as parents. The fact is, we live in a dangerous world, and we want our children to be prepared to make wise choices and protect themselves, not only physically but emotionally as well. As a family, we want to be smart and safety-conscious. In order to do that, we plan to: educate our children about guns, ensure that they are proficient in self-defense, teach them about internet safety, warn them about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, maintain an open dialogue about sex, help them to develop confidence in their interpersonal skills including setting boundaries, empower them with decision-making skills and opportunities, and most importantly, teach them about the protective power of prayer.

Guns are obviously a hot topic in America right now, and pretty much always. Politics aside, I believe that a world without guns would be a safer place, but I also know that a world without guns will most likely never exist. If “bad guys” are going to have guns, which they always will, then I sure as heck want to make sure that the “good guys” have them too. Owning a gun is an important right that I support because it is the best way to defend oneself in this crazy world. As a new parent, especially, I want to make sure I always have the right to protect my child from anybody who tries to hurt him. All of that being said, guns are a powerful weapon that can do great harm in the wrong hands. Educating people, and especially children, about gun safety is a huge protective factor. Cory and I plan to make sure that our children understand the seriousness of handling a gun, and that they know what to do if they see one (get away immediately and tell a trusted adult). We also plan to make sure that, at the appropriate age, they know how to use a gun—how to unload it, how to shoot it, and how to defend themselves with it in a life-threatening situation.

Self-defense (without the use of weapons) is a skill that not many people seem to have these days, and we want to ensure that our children can kick some butt if they need to. A child who can defend him or herself against predators or bullies is a safer child. Cory and I plan to enroll our children in martial arts programs from a young age, so that they can feel confident and safe in their ability to defend themselves.

Safety goes beyond just the physical world, of course. In our technological world, there are more and more virtual dangers cropping up every day. Scams are becoming harder and harder to spot, even for tech-savvy people like me and Cory. That’s why it is more important than ever to us to teach our kids about how to be safe on the internet. Not only are there child-predators out there, but bullies from kids’ own peer group as well as financial and identity scams and viruses. Beyond that, there are many things on the internet that aren’t appropriate for any eyes, let alone a child’s, and it is important to us to teach our kids about those dangers as well. While we don’t plan to allow our children to have unmonitored time on the internet until they are most likely at least 15 years old, we want them to be prepared to handle any of the threats that they are likely to face in the virtual world.

It goes without saying that drugs and alcohol are dangerous. If our children were going to attend a public school, they’d be exposed to the “Red Ribbon Week” program, which educates children about the dangers of drugs. Of course, dedicating only one week to the topic is not a super effective way to convince children to avoid experimenting with drugs and alcohol, especially as they grow into teens and face peer pressure. In our family, we will talk openly and frequently about these issues, and most importantly, we will lead by example. Although there is nothing wrong with enjoying alcohol to a certain point, neither I nor Cory have a taste for it, and I hope that our example speaks to our children. Obviously, we don’t use illegal drugs either, and we tend to avoid any situations where other people might be using them and pressuring others. Overall, we simply believe that it’s much easier to honor God when one is completely sober and in control of his or her actions. We don’t need drugs or alcohol to enjoy ourselves! We hope that if we instill that belief in our children, they will be able to avoid the dangers that many teens face in this area.

Many parents these days seem uncomfortable or unwilling to discuss sex with their children. The “sex talk” is a one-time event in which the parent awkwardly stumbles through a speech about saving oneself for marriage or at the very least practicing safer sex. On the other end of the spectrum are the parents who pass out condoms like they’re going out of style and allow their children to do whatever they want with their bodies. Cory and I don’t want to be either of those types of parents—we want sex to be a topic that we can discuss freely with our kids, but we also are going to have rules in place to protect them. The fact is that sex, when used for the wrong reasons, can be incredibly harmful in many ways. STIs and unplanned pregnancy are two of the physical risks, but the emotional impact of sharing physical intimacy with another person is often overlooked. We believe that sex is meant to be shared between only two people for their entire lives, within a committed, loving, mutually respectful relationship. As parents, we will lead by example, maintain an open dialogue about sex, and when necessary, enforce boundaries for our children.

Setting and enforcing boundaries with others is a skill that I didn’t learn well until I was an adult. Looking back, I know that I could have avoided a lot of struggles and pain in my relationships with others if I’d developed this skill earlier in life. Cory and I want to teach our children the importance of setting healthy boundaries without feeling guilty. Again, one of the main ways we plan to do this is by example. We will set boundaries with our children as needed, and allow them to see us setting boundaries with others and with each other. Setting boundaries is simply communicating clearly where one’s limits are, and expecting others to respect them. We will encourage our kids to set their own boundaries within our family and with others.

One parenting trend that really ruffles my feathers is the tendency for parents to treat their children like fools. Many parents seem to think that their children are incapable of mature thought or making any important decisions until at least the age of 25. Children (and especially teenagers) may think that they know everything, and that is obviously not true, but that doesn’t mean that they know nothing. Believe it or not, individuals under the age of 18 are capable of making decisions, even good ones! Adults are also very capable of making not-so-good decisions. There is nothing magical about age that makes people suddenly wise enough to make good decisions. My point is that we plan to allow our children to choose things for themselves, with us providing supportive guidance. There are limits, obviously, but within the confines of our ground rules we believe that our kids should be allowed to make their own decisions. Even the decisions that turn out to be bad ones are important learning experiences. We all have those, whether we’re adults or not. Cory and I plan to empower our children with tools for thinking problems through and making decisions that honor God and bring peace to their lives.

Finally, we want to teach our children about the power of prayer, when it comes to seeking both wisdom and protection. God says in his Word that both are available through him when we ask. There is no greater source! In the end, no matter how well-prepared or educated or careful our children are, they are still at the mercy of other forces in our world. God is the one person who has control over these things, and learning to trust him completely is the key to a good life. There is a place for wisdom and doing things to the best of our ability to make our own paths straight, but ultimately faith in God is the most powerful protection of all. Not only will Cory and I pray over all of our children for safety, but we will teach them to do the same for themselves. God hears us when we call to him in faith, and we want our children to trust that with all of their hearts.

Our journey into parenthood has begun now, and we are already learning new things and adapting our strategy as needed. Our parenting vision is an outline for our ideal parenting practices, and we hope that we can follow it as much as possible. That being said, parenting is a learning experience and we are sure to change certain things along the way. Our main goals of keeping God at the center, using attachment parenting, living intentionally, and teaching safety and wisdom are all likely to stay intact, although the specifics may change a bit here and there as we go through this adventure. One of the most important things to us is that no matter what, we always think. No parenting practice should be used without consideration of its benefits and drawbacks—we want to ensure that we do things for a reason, not just because. With that in mind, we have many years of growing and learning ahead of us. So far, being a parent has its challenges for us, but I also think it’s the best job in the world. It’s a wonderful gift and a huge responsibility that already brings me so much satisfaction. My purpose in life during this season is to be the best parent that I can be, to honor God and this gift that he’s given me.

My Birth Story

When I was first married, I was terrified of childbirth. After hearing all of the horror stories, and simply knowing what having a baby entailed, I questioned whether I’d ever want to go through that. I figured that Cory and I would just adopt and that would be that.

In the years since then, I’ve learned so much about childbirth and all of the wonderful options available. Midwifery, home birth, water birth, Hypnobabies, and Supernatural Childbirth were all things I learned about that made me feel that I could do it. I didn’t have to experience pregnancy and birth the way that most people in our culture do—I could have a beautiful, easy, comfortable, safe, short, and even painless birth if I wanted to. After discovering this new view of birth, I was no longer afraid of having a baby, and I wanted to have one more than ever.

When we became pregnant with Cody, we had plans for an awesome birth. We would use Hypnobabies and our faith in a Supernatural Childbirth to achieve a painless, safe, easy, and quick birth. We hired a midwife and planned a home water birth. I planned on not needing a doctor, hospital, epidural, or any labor augmentation such as Pitocin, because I believed that everything was going to go perfectly according to plan.

After all was said and done, the birth of my son was not at all what I expected. I ended up with a non-emergency transfer to the hospital, where I immediately was given an epidural and Pitocin. I pushed my baby out on a hospital bed, on my back, which was the one way I’d planned to never, ever have a baby. I was attended by a male doctor, who showed up for perhaps the final 30 minutes of me pushing. It was the epitome of a traditional hospital birth, and I’d planned on anything but that. Yet, despite these facts, I still had my baby with no pain (well, very little pain—most of what I experienced is what I would call discomfort). More importantly, I had a pregnancy completely free of complications, and a vaginal birth that was safe for both me and the baby. We are both healthy and happy!

Even though I didn’t get to have my dream birth, I can still say that my experience was wonderful. It may not have been the Supernatural Childbirth that I’d envisioned, but it was supernatural in its own way. The enemy tried to intervene and turn one of the greatest days of my life into a bad one, but God was there with me and he turned it around for the good, as he always does. The next time around, I’m going to believe and try for my dream birth once again—but for now, I am so very grateful to God for the experience I had and for the birth of my precious son.

Cody Roger Westropp was born on October 16th at 6:55 AM. He weighed 7 pounds and 4 ounces and was 20 ¼ inches long. This is the story of how it all happened.


For your reference: In Hypnobabies, we use different vocabulary for childbirth. For example, contractions are called pressure waves and labor is called birthing time.

On Monday, October 6th, I was 39 weeks and one day pregnant. I’d been feeling Braxton Hicks pressure waves for a few weeks, but that evening I started to feel them coming about every 10 minutes. We were excited and thought that perhaps we would be having a baby that night! Little did we know we were still far from that, and the pressure waves continued in the same pattern throughout that entire week. We did our best to stay patient and wait for Cody’s birthday to come.

On the night of Friday, October 10th, my pressure waves finally started to come closer together, about every 6-8 minutes. As the hours passed, they started coming closer and closer together, and I really began to believe that it was time, and we’d be meeting our son soon. Cory and I called our moms to come over, and we waited. By 3 AM, my pressure waves were 2-4 minutes apart so we finally called our midwife, Kate. She came to our house and checked to see how dilated I was. To our dismay, I was only about one centimeter dilated. I was really upset by this news—I thought that I would be holding my baby by the next day, and hearing that we were so far away from that was emotionally devastating, especially after four days of patiently waiting through my early birthing time. Kate reassured me that her clients almost always call her before it’s really time, and that there was nothing to feel bad about. I felt less guilty about calling her with a false alarm, but I still felt embarrassed and stupid, and most of all, crushingly disappointed. That was when Kate said something then that I’ll never forget—“Birth takes you to the end of yourself.” It’s as simple as that; birth takes you to a place emotionally and physically where you feel you can’t go on. It felt so true at that moment. I tried to keep it together while we told our moms the news and sent everybody home. When everyone had left, I finally let myself cry while Cory held me and comforted me. We went to bed, although my heart was heavy that night.

That weekend we finally saw some progress as my pressure waves became more intense. They were still coming approximately every 5 to 20 minutes, but at times they seemed to stop and the pattern wasn’t particularly regular. At night the pressure waves became especially intense around bedtime and I had trouble sleeping through them. I made it through the night by alternating between an hour in bed resting (or trying to rest), and then an hour sitting on the couch listening to my Hypnobabies track and practicing my hypnosis. In the morning, when my pressure waves started to let up just a bit, I would catch up on sleep as much as possible. By then I felt more patient about meeting Cody and I accepted that he would come when he was ready, but the nights were so difficult that I worried about how I would get through the next one.

On Monday and Tuesday, my pressure waves were intense enough that I didn’t want to be home alone. Fortunately, Cory was able to work from home for half of the day on both days. During the nights, I hardly slept at all because of how intense and, I’ll admit, painful, my pressure waves had become. The hours crept by as I waited for the sun to come up. Somehow, the night passed and I finally felt some relief. On Wednesday morning, though, it was taking longer for my pressure waves to decrease in intensity and frequency. We decided to time them and found that they were coming about every 6 minutes. We called our midwife at around 7:00 AM, and then we called our moms, and they all headed over.

When Kate arrived, she checked me for dilation and said that I was at about 8 to 9 centimeters. It was exciting news! I was also shaking a little, which is often a sign of going into transition (AKA transformation, in Hypnobabies language), which is the final stage before pushing begins. We all thought that Cody would be arriving soon, but I still tried not to get my hopes up because I knew that things could still take a long time. My midwife’s assistants arrived, and everybody was amazed at how calm and comfortable I was at that point. I just felt that it was exactly as it should be, because God was taking care of me.

Although it seemed as if I were very close to the pushing stage at that point, the morning went by and nothing changed. I spent some time in the birth pool, where I planned to push the baby out. I spent time resting, lightly snacking, listening to worship music, listening to my Hypnobabies tracks, and I remained in hypnosis all the while.

Around 2:00 PM, I was about 7 centimeters dilated and Cody was in a non-optimal position, with his back toward my right side instead of toward my left. We began to feel concerned about getting him turned back into the optimal position, so we tried some natural remedies (belly sifting, essential oils, lunges, and pelvic tilts). Unfortunately, none of our efforts seemed to be doing much to correct Cody’s position. At 5:00 PM Cory and I decided to try to nap or at least get some rest. I couldn’t fall asleep, but Cory napped for a little while. Eventually I got up, and the midwives suggested another check for dilation and baby’s position. To our dismay, I was dilated even less, about 5 centimeters. Cody also was moving back up, and was in a posterior position at that point. It was not looking good!

Kate regretfully told me that if things didn’t start progressing soon, we would have to consider transferring care to the hospital. I felt oddly calm as I took in this bad news. The midwives explained that in a normal uncomplicated birth I would have most likely had the baby hours ago rather than moving backwards, and so it would be best for my safety and the baby’s to go to the hospital if I didn’t start progressing soon. It wouldn’t be an emergency transfer, but I knew that if I went to the hospital, I would be given Pitocin to restart and increase the intensity of my pressure waves. I also knew that at that point, after such a long birthing time, I would have a difficult time managing the Pitocin-induced pressure waves and so I would choose to get an epidural. Birthing in the hospital, particularly with Pitocin and an epidural, had always been my absolute worst case scenario other than a cesarean section. Yet I knew that what was important was that Cody was safe, and I felt oddly calm as I accepted the likely possibility.

I went into the room to wake Cory up and let him know what was happening. Cory was very upset and I comforted him as he tried to be okay with it. He said that he was upset because he really didn’t want to have a typical hospital birth, and it wasn’t supposed to go that way. We hugged for a while and then called our close friend to pray with us. She gave us encouragement and reminded us that God was with us, and then we prayed together.

At around 8:00 PM, I was checked once again and unfortunately, I hadn’t progressed, so we made the decision to go to the hospital. We re-packed our hospital bags and went on our way. On the drive there, Cory and I talked about how strange it was that it was really happening. Although we’d always known that in an emergency (or other unusual situation) we would have to go to the hospital, we’d never ever actually believed it would happen. Cory still felt upset and I told him that I was upset too, but that this was what we had to do. I told him that I was really worried about everything I would have to experience at the hospital, from the IV to the blood draws to the epidural, because of my severe needle phobia. I tried to put it out of my mind, and overall, I felt a sense of peace and ease about the whole thing. God was there by my side, keeping me calm.

When we arrived, we went inside and waited in the urgent care waiting room while paperwork was filled out. They brought me a wheelchair to sit in, which made me feel silly since I wasn’t sick or injured, and I was perfectly capable of walking. My support team was still amazed at how calm I was. Next, we went to triage, where I was hooked up to a machine to monitor my pressure waves and the baby’s heartbeat. I was checked for dilation (with me using hypnosis, as usual) and found to be somewhere around 6 centimeters. My mom, Marsha, Cory, Kate, and her assisting midwife Cherish were all in the room with me and we waited. I’d gained a lot of confidence in my hypnosis by then, and was able to explain it to all of the nurses that examined me or performed other procedures on me. They always seemed interested in what I was doing and impressed at how well it worked.

After waiting in the triage area for a while, I was moved to a private LDR room (labor, delivery, and recovery room). It was roomy and comfortable, which was nice. At that point, the procedures I’d been avoiding thinking about began. First, I was given an IV and had blood drawn. For both, I used hypnosis and was able to stay completely calm and comfortable. I felt so grateful to God for helping me through it. Next, I requested to have my epidural placed before being given Pitocin, since they were preparing to start the drip. When the anesthesiologist arrived, we explained my hypnosis to him and then I shut myself off while sitting on the edge of the bed (Cory would always let people know when I was ready). I went as deeply into hypnosis that time as I possibly could, and mentally went to be with Jesus. I imagined him holding me and I told myself I was safe and completely at peace. The doctor was extremely fast—my support team later told me how amazing it was to watch him work. I felt no pain or discomfort, and before I knew it, he said he was done and I came out of hypnosis. I thanked him for his excellent work and was grateful as the comfortable numbness began to spread.

Finally, the Pitocin was administered and a catheter was placed. I didn’t have to use my hypnosis anymore at that point because of the epidural. After that, I was finally able to relax completely after a very long 24 hours of very little rest. It was honestly the most comfortable I’d felt in nine months! I got some sleep while we all waited for my pressure waves to dilate me completely. Finally, at 2:30 AM, my water broke.

After that, we started doing practice pushes to move the baby down a little further. Since I had the epidural, I wasn’t able to feel my pressure waves or know when to push on my own, and needed to be coached. My nurses were all very helpful and encouraging. Around 4:30 AM, we started pushing in earnest and the doctor came to check on our progress. He came back again when the baby was further down, and helped me push him the rest of the way out. It felt like forever and no time at all while I pushed Cody out.

There were a lot of people in the room at that time, including the doctor, two nurses for me, several nurses/specialists for Cody, my midwife Kate, my mom, my stepmom, Cory’s mom, and Cory. Each time a pressure wave would come, everybody would cheer me on with shouts like “Push! Harder, harder! Everything you’ve got! Go, go, go!” I took a lot of encouragement from my support team in those moments. Near the end, I started to worry about how much longer I could last. Every push felt like the last I could possibly do, but then another pressure wave would come and I would push again, as hard as I could, which was somehow harder than the hardest I could manage. It was intense!

Finally, at 6:58 AM, (although his birth certificate says 6:55), Cody was born. When he came out, everybody applauded and cheered and it was an incredible feeling of accomplishment. They put him on my chest for a few very short moments. I held him close and started sobbing “he’s real!” as I stared in wonder at my child. I was so relieved and happy to finally be holding him. It felt like the blink of an eye before they took him away, because they wanted to suction his nose and mouth. They took him to the other side of the room and started working on him—I was completely in awe of the fact that he was real and finally here and that I’d done it, so I wasn’t really aware of what was happening. Cory stood close to where the nurses were taking care of our baby; later he told me that Cody had some trouble breathing at first and there were concerns about a possible problem with his trachea. Fortunately, all turned out to be fine—he just needed to adjust to breathing air instead of fluid!

While we were waiting, Kim held my hand and we just looked at each other and cried about how amazing and beautiful he was. We were both so happy! After what seemed like a very long time, they finally brought my baby back to me and put him on my chest. I closed my eyes and rested, savoring the feeling of his tiny warm body against my skin. A nurse helped me breastfeed him for the first time then. I was still so tired and overwhelmed from all that had happened that I can hardly remember what it felt like, but I know that I was perfectly happy in that moment.

We spent the rest of that day, which was Thursday October 16th, in the hospital, as well as Friday and most of Saturday. We were discharged on Saturday evening, and finally got to go home. Our experience in the hospital was really nice. We had excellent nurses and a helpful lactation consultant. Other than the friendly staff, I was also grateful for the comfortable accommodations and the delicious food. Even though I hadn’t wanted a hospital birth, the experience that we had was really great, and I am thankful for that.

Looking back at my birth experience overall, I can definitely say that I had a difficult birth. Yet despite this fact, I think birth is an amazing achievement and I know that I will gladly do it again. I give God the glory for saving me from a terrible, painful, life-threatening birth that our culture seems to believe is the norm. I may have used Hypnobabies, and I believe the tools I gained from that program were instrumental in my experience, but it’s God who enabled me and ultimately saved me. Since Cody’s birth, everybody on my support team has told me how amazed and impressed they were at how calm and peaceful I was during my birthing time. They couldn’t believe how well Hypnobabies worked for me, and they’ve even encouraged me to become a Hypnobabies instructor so I can help others learn as well, which I plan to do! This is something that I am passionate about and I’m excited to pursue it. It’s just one more gift that God has given me through this experience!

From my experience now, I can say that Kate was definitely right when she said that birth takes you to the end of yourself—the week leading up to Cody’s arrival was one of the hardest weeks of my life emotionally, and those nights of intense birthing waves were incredibly challenging physically. Facing my fears of the hospital and all of the procedures I had there was a huge psychological challenge, and pushing my baby out in my state of exhaustion was a physical feat I am proud to say I accomplished. Yes, all of it truly did take me to the end of myself, and at the end of myself is where I found God, my sustenance and my hope in every situation. Though the enemy tried to steer Cody’s birth in a negative direction, God kept me in perfect peace and he protected me from fear and pain. Excepting those few nights of intense birthing waves, I had a pain-free birth. No, it wasn’t without the help of drugs and medical intervention, but it was miraculous nonetheless. In the end, we won. It wasn’t perfect, but we always have next time to aspire for that. In the meantime, we have what really matters—our healthy, happy family together and thriving. God is so, so good!