Showing posts with label Babies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Babies. Show all posts

First Week Solo



I have officially survived my first week alone with all five kids!

I'm not going to lie, we had a couple rough moments, but overall I think we are developing a little bit of routine to these newborn days.  Georgie has been sleeping in later than the other kids, which has worked out pretty well because then I can get everyone else up and eating breakfast, and then pump a bit before she wakes up to eat.

The kids are still pretty enamored with Georgiana, and they take any opportunity to help me with her.  Clarice especially - she scrambles around grabbing whatever she thinks I might need for Georgie, and it's adorable to see her little toddling run.

As I type this, Georgie is sitting in her swing with her polar bear wubbanub in her mouth, taking in the whole room, and Clarice is settled on my lap (yes, I'm typing while cuddling my two year old - talented, right?), and the bigger kids are playing in their rooms.  

Anyway, just to give this post some direction, let's talk about things that are making my world spin just a little smoother this week.

Maternity Pants

I think this is the first pregnancy where I did not immediately abandon maternity pants after birth.  I'm chalking it up to H&M's excellent maternity pant selection.  What can I say?  They still fit, and they don't really look like maternity pants, and the waistband helps suck my tummy in a little.

JJ Heller

Something about her music makes me just appreciate my life, even the chaotic moments.  

Coffee

No explanation needed.

My Kindle

There really isn't a better way to read books while nursing than on a Kindle.  I've finished two books this week - Strange Fire by John MacArthur (which I've been working on for a while - it was good), and The List by Siobhan Vivian (probably wouldn't recommend it - I felt like there were almost-opportunities for some solid points about beauty, but the author didn't quite make them work, and too much teenage misbehavior tarnishing it up).  Now I'm working on The Wednesday Wars, which is completely delightful so far.  It reminds me of the early seasons of The Wonder Years, and I loved that show.

Tylenol

Not for the reasons you might think, because birth-wise, this has probably been my easiest recovery yet.  No, the Tylenol is a lifesaver because sometime early this week I slept on my neck wrong, and I've been having awful neck and shoulder pain ever since.  And wouldn't you know, my chiropractor is closed this week?  So Tylenol is my friend.  Ibuprofen would be my friend (because it's better than Tylenol), but it thins your blood, and I'm already on Lovenox because of that one time when I had a deep vein thrombosis.  Doubling up on blood thinners is generally a no-no.

Meals From Friends

I am just floored by the amount of meals we received this week from my mom's group friends!  I haven't had to cook anything in nearly two weeks.  It's been glorious.

Newborn Snuggles and Paw Patrol

These usually happen simultaneously - Paw Patrol keeps my big kids occupied, and I get some quiet newborn snuggles in.  There have been some moments this week when we're all crying, but these quiet sweet moments, with soft newborn hair tickling my cheek and all five of my precious kids gathered around me - it just makes me happy to be alive.

Next up - date night!  Despite my not making it to 40 weeks for my late-pregnancy reward plan, my mom is watching the kids anyway so we can still see Murder On The Orient Express tonight!  I'll let you know if they ruin it or not (crossing my fingers...)


Georgiana's Birth Story



I don't think you can fully appreciate this birth story unless I back up a little bit and impress upon you just exactly how incredibly uncomfortable I was on October 29th.

I wrote my 38 week pregnancy update before the 29th, and I already described there how many different things were giving me pain between 37 and 38 weeks, including a round of false labor.  But when I woke up on the 29th, my discomfort had reached another level.  

I shifted to get out of bed and took a few steps to the bathroom, in pain the entire time.  I had been feeling uncomfortable first thing in the morning all week, but today the feeling just didn’t go away.  The pain was mostly in my lower back and hips, and my leg/hip joint, and the baby just felt so heavy.  It hurt to walk around the house, it hurt to climb the stairs, it even hurt to lift one leg so I could cross it over the other.  I had to use my hands to physically lift my limbs so I could cross my legs!  I couldn’t recline too far back because I could feel the baby’s head pressing against my tailbone when I reclined, but I couldn’t sit forward very comfortably with my legs together.  I was left with a less-than-ladylike exercise-ball-squat sitting position, which gets uncomfortable in itself after a while.

We decided to go to church anyway, mainly because I didn’t want to sit around the house feeling uncomfortable with nothing to do all day.  Everyone in our Sunday School class asked how I was feeling, and all I could say was that I felt so sore today.  A couple of them suggested that maybe the baby would come early, but I waved it off.  “Oh, I think we’ll end up having a 40 week baby, so I’m just trying to prepare myself!” I said.  And I really believed it.

We had a birthday party scheduled for the afternoon, but Derek encouraged me to tell our friends we couldn’t make it, and after suffering through church and the car ride home, I agreed with him.  I laid down and took a nap for an hour, which was the only relief I had all day.  Derek was so sweet and took care of the kids so I could rest and take it easy all afternoon.  I told him I really didn’t know what I was going to do the next day if I felt this uncomfortable again, because I wouldn’t even be able to take care of the kids with the way I was feeling.  He emailed his work to see if he could work from home so he could help me.

Derek tried out a new curry recipe for dinner while I rested on the couch, and that was when I started to notice some Braxton-Hicks like contractions.  The didn’t feel like real contractions, but they were more noticeable than regular Braxton-Hicks.  I figured it was more false labor, but I timed them anyway.  They came anywhere from 10-30 minutes, not consistently at all.

The kids all (surprisingly) loved the curry dinner, and we all sat at the table together to eat and do Bible time.  Derek often takes over the bedtime routine for me in the evenings during the week so I can have a break, but a little part of me was starting to wonder if I might be having the baby sooner than expected, so I wanted to be part of the whole bedtime ritual than night, just in case.  We brushed teeth, read a story, sang a song, said bedtime prayers.  I kissed all my babies goodnight, and Derek and I sat down to watch an old episode of Monk.  Actually, to be accurate, Derek sat, I laid down on my side, since that was the only comfortable position.

The contractions were still sporadic and not terribly contraction-like through the show, but I was starting to get a general feeling of unease.  I got up at one point to use the restroom, and when I laid back down on the couch, I started shivering.

I asked Derek to cover me with a blanket.  But the shivering didn’t stop.  

I told him I didn’t feel right, and I thought maybe we should call my mom and ask her to spend the night, just in case.

By the time Derek got off the phone with my mom, I was shaking uncontrollably, and it was honestly starting to freak me out a little bit.  The only other time I had experienced shaking like that during pregnancy was when I was in labor, in transition.  I couldn’t be in transition since I wasn’t even having consistent contractions, right?  It was weird enough though that I decided to call my doctor.

I told her about the contractions and the shaking that had just started.  

“Well, hmm,” she said.  “Usually women who are in labor can’t sleep through it - do you think you could sleep through the contractions?”  

“Well, I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep if this shaking doesn’t stop,” I said.  

“Why don’t you just come down to the hospital to be checked out?  You’re scaring me a little bit,” she said.  (My doctors are all very aware that I often progress quickly in labor.)

By the time I got off the phone the shaking was even more pronounced, and I was honestly starting to feel a little panicky.  This was so unlike my usual labor pattern, I really wasn’t sure what was going on.  Was I going into labor or was this just some weird pregnancy symptom?  I didn’t feel right.

I called my mom to tell her to hurry, but she didn’t pick up.  Derek started throwing a few last-minute things into our hospital bag, just in case this was really labor and we ended up staying.  I gingerly walked around the house, grabbing a couple things and getting my boots and jacket on.  Then suddenly the shaking stopped.

Derek finished packing the car and came to sit next to me, and I just burst into tears.  “I feel stupid!” I wailed (yes, wailed).  “The shaking has stopped, and we’re going to go down there, and it’s all going to be nothing!  And then we’ll have to come home and I’m still going to be this uncomfortable!”  I had tears streaming down my face while Derek rubbed my back.

My mom called, and I gave her the same teary update.  “No, you still need to go down there and figure out what this shaking thing is.  That’s not normal,” she told me.

She arrived a couple minutes later, and my mom prayed with Derek and me before we headed off to the hospital, around 9:00 PM.

Once we were in the car I was feeling less panicky, and I was talking to Derek, trying to convince myself it wasn’t a total waste of time to go to the hospital.  Derek assured me that it wasn’t a waste of time, and I needed to at least get checked. 

Within a few minutes of getting into the car I had a contraction again, and this one felt more like I remembered early labor contractions feeling (even though it was short at only 30 seconds).  I started timing again, and had contractions every 5-6 minutes all the way to the hospital.  I was relieved, because these felt like the real thing, and I finally felt like I was recognizably in early labor.  Derek told me that he had told Wyatt that we were going to the hospital to get checked out, and Wyatt had bounced around, excited that we might be having the baby.

We pulled into the hospital parking lot and waited a few minutes until my next contraction had ended before we headed in.  The nurses came down to get us, and joked that they were worried I had a baby on the side of the road again.  

My contractions stalled when we arrived at the hospital, but I was expecting this.  Typically when I’m in early labor and get up to walk around, my contractions stop (it happened the last time I gave birth too).  My nurse introduced herself and asked me to leave a sample.  I noticed a tiny streak of blood in the bathroom, which was reassuring to me that something was happening down there.  She hooked me up to the monitors and asked if I had been having any more contractions (I hadn’t, but I knew they’d start up again soon).  She checked my cervix, and I was only at a 1 cm (same as at my doctor appointment the week before).




After laying in bed for a few minutes my contractions started again and were recognizable on the monitors.  At 10:45 PM, the nurse said they would monitor me for an hour and see if I made any progress.  When she left the room, Derek and I worried about what we would do if they decided not to admit me to the hospital.  At this point we knew I was in early labor, and we certainly didn’t want to go home.  I also didn’t want to have to labor in the car and try to get admitted again.  I focused on breathing slowly and relaxing as much as possible through the contractions so they could do their job.

The nurse came to check on my around 11:45 PM and asked how I was doing.  I said that the contractions were definitely more painful now.  She said she thought they should wait and give me one more hour before they checked me, just to really make sure I had enough time to make some progress.  I was so grateful for that nurse!

Over the next 15 minutes my contractions really started to pick up in intensity.  They started hurting so much worse, with the pain concentrated heavily in my back.  It made sense to me that I would have back labor, because I had suspected that the baby was facing the wrong direction with all the pain I’d been having that day.

In my past labors, I usually have a contraction and then feel very normal until the next contraction comes.  This labor was entirely different from my usual labor experience, because the pain did not go away between contractions.  I’d have a painful contraction in my back, and then the achy, sore feeling would linger in my back and hips until the next contraction.  They say if you have back labor it helps to get on your hands and knees (and I know this is true, because it really helped when I had back labor with my third).  However, remember how much pain I was in earlier in the day when trying to walk?  I did not want to move - it hurt too much to even shift a little in the bed.

At this point, I told Derek two things:

1) I didn’t care if I hadn’t progressed at all at my next check, I was not leaving that hospital.  I was going to insist they admit me.

2)  If I had progressed a decent amount at my next check, I was requesting the epidural.  I have gone through natural labor three times, and I just decided that this time, I didn’t want to.  I knew I could do it, I didn’t have anything left to prove to myself, and I just had no desire to do the back labor thing again.  I wanted my last birth experience to not be a traumatic one, and with the way things were starting to go, I knew that a natural birth would be a little traumatizing should I go that route with this baby.  Derek was sweet and supportive, as he always is.  I am so grateful for him!  I really couldn’t ask for a better birth advocate/coach.

The nurse came to check me at 12:45 AM, and I had progressed to 4 cm!  Yes!  I could tell things could potentially move fast at this point (my labors always move quickly toward the end), and I also knew it could take an hour to get the epidural.  I asked the nurses to call the anesthesiologist right away, and they put the order in.  I also got a dose of antibiotics since I had tested Group B positive.

At this point I had Derek come and start holding my hand or tickling my arm through the contractions, because they were getting more painful as we waited.  The anesthesiologist came at 1:30 AM, and I was so grateful because the intensity of the contractions kept steadily increasing.  I gingerly shifted myself around to sit on the edge of the bed, and I had to breath through a couple contractions before they could place the epidural.  The anesthesiologist told me I was “an excellent breather”, and that it was good because if I could stay relaxed the contractions would hurt less.  I’ve got the breathing thing down after five births!

He had the epidural placed by 1:45 PM, and the contractions gradually got less painful.  My right side never got completely numb (it weirdly didn’t the last time I got an epidural either), but before long I felt so much more comfortable.  

The nurse checked me again shortly after the epidural and I was at 8 cm.  I started feeling pressure almost right away, and she called the doctor.

I remember sitting there at this time, and I felt (and saw) her kick against my belly.  I grinned, and then looked at Derek.  “Ah.  That’s probably the last time I’ll feel her kick from the inside.”  I started tearing up, and Derek came over to hold my hand.

I still had tears streaming down my face as the nurse talked to me and the doctor came in a minute later.

It was 2:00 AM at this point, and I was still at 8 cm.  The doc pulled out this scary-looking stick to break my water.  She left for a minute, but with the next contraction the pressure was even more intense, and she came back in right away.  Derek rubbed my back, and I asked if I could start pushing.  They set me back with my legs in the stirrups (such a dumb pushing position, but my legs were numb, so what can you do?), and with the next contraction, I screeched/pushed.  They say you should only feel pressure, but my epidural had only really been in place for 20 minutes, so it still hurt.

I pushed again through the next contraction, and by the next contraction her head was out.  The nurses and Derek were telling me to look down so I could maybe see her head. I glanced down, but I couldn’t see her, and I didn’t try too hard because I was still trying to push the rest of her out.  At one point I remember saying I couldn’t get her out, but in the next two pushes there she was!





At 2:21 AM I looked down, and there was my sweet baby girl, her face all scrunched up.  They handed her to me, and I just started crying because I was so happy that she was here!

She just laid on my chest with her eyes wide open and her cheeks puffed out as she gave a pouty lip.  The nurses suctioned out her mouth, and she finally let out a tiny little mewing cry!

They let me hold her for a little bit, and then took her over to the warmer to clean her up while the placenta was delivered.  They must have made her mad because she was crying pretty loudly by the time they brought her back, but it made me feel pretty special when they handed her back to me and the crying immediately stopped.  She looked up at me and I just fell in love with her again for the second time in as many minutes.






They told us she was 8 pounds, 8 ounces, and 21 inches long.  No wonder I was in so much pain!  She was about a pound heavier than my heaviest baby!  One pound apparently makes a big difference in my level of pregnancy comfort.

They asked her name, and Derek and I announced it as Georgiana Bea.  We picked Georgiana because we just thought it was a beautiful name.  We picked Bea because it means “she who brings happiness”.  I knew I wanted that in her name, because she has brought us so much happiness ever since we found out she was on the way.  Miss Georgie Bea continues to live up to her name.





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The next couple days were a bit of a blur, with a flurry of visitors, and pictures, and one annoying nurse.  But my favorite part was having the kids meet their baby sister.  Wyatt kept saying “I just really love her!”  Gwen, who has been dying to hold her for weeks, had the best grin on her face, so proud to be a big sister again!  Clyde announced that he was going to call her Georgie, and the way he says it is so darn cute.  And after some snuggles with me, Clarice plopped down on the couch and smiled so sweetly as I let her “hold” the baby!








We are all home now, and the kids are still doing great with her!  I especially think Clarice is being sweet about trying to help. When we first picked up the kids from my parents house, Clarice worked so hard to bring the car seat over to me so I could get Georgie ready to go.  Every time I come upstairs with the baby, Clarice yanks her “baby” (her favorite bear is “Baby”) out of the swing and frantically points to the swing.  “Baby Georgie here!” she says.  The other kids all are anxious to help, and the latest request is that I let them give her a bottle, so we may try to make that happen this week.  


I am loving being a mom to five kids! I am so blessed to call each of these sweet children mine, and so grateful to have Georgie here!


Wish me luck, because Derek is officially back to work now, and today is the first day on my own! 

Guess Who Surprised Me Again?



You know how I was just saying that this baby is throwing me for a loop?  Well, she did it again, because she's HERE!



We welcomed Georgiana Bea on October 30th at 2:21 AM!

She's 8 pounds 8 ounces, and 21 inches long!



We are so surprised and thrilled that she's here!  More details coming soon!

Uncomfortable - 38 Weeks (Baby #5)



Well, this baby is throwing me for a loop!

Remember how I said in my last update that I was mostly comfortable?  That changed pretty quickly over the last couple weeks.  Permit me a brief list of my aches and pains:

-My hips have been killing me.  There is so much pressure down there when I am on my feet for too long, plus I've had days where I feel like my hip is actually going to pop out of joint.  Ouch!

-The round ligament pain has picked up quite a bit, and a couple times I thought I tore something, it hurt so badly.

-I actually pulled a muscle in my stomach.  I now cannot bend down to pick something up off the floor without a muscle pain on the upper left part of my belly.   I was actually kind of worried that I gave myself a hernia there somehow, but I'm thinking it's probably just a pulled abdominal muscle.  I'm going to ask my doctor this week.

-The Braxton Hicks contractions are getting more uncomfortable the bigger I get.

-I can't recline anymore because it's too uncomfortable.  When I lean back on the couch or in bed in a reclining position, it feels like her head is pushing against my tailbone.  This makes me think she is facing the wrong direction (toward my front instead of facing my back), and I hope she turns around the right way before labor starts!  I've had back labor before, and it's not fun.

-I actually had a day, right after I posted my last update, where I had some false labor - I was cramping at intervals for a couple hours.  I could tell they weren't actual contractions and my body was just practicing, but they still were so uncomfortable.

(Please don't laugh at how many times I wrote "uncomfortable" just now.)



Despite all those aches and pains in my belly and pelvis, Baby Girl is actually not yet engaged.  There have been times when there was so much pressure on my cervix area that I was sure I must have some dilating happening, but at my appointment last week I was barely dilated to 1 cm, and not effaced at all.  I am anticipating at this point that we will definitely make it to 40 weeks, but I also said two weeks ago that I was feeling really comfortable, and now look at me.  We'll see what happens!

Are We Ready?

I have a few little last minute things that I'd like to get accomplished before she arrives...but I've been mostly putting them off.  All the big things are done, and we are mostly ready to go, so my motivation to complete the final details is a little lacking at the moment.  My focus has been mainly on making sure the house is as spotless as possible, especially before we leave the house for the day, just in case she decides to come when I'm not expecting.  



Derek has really been my hero on this front lately too.  He has put up with all my silly requests for help because he knows how uncomfortable I am, but he has also gone above and beyond the call of duty.  Last week he scrubbed the bathroom and kitchen floors with a toothbrush - a toothbrush! - and I didn't even ask him to do it!  I had resigned myself to the fact that the floors were not going to be spotless because I was definitely not going to crawl around on all fours in my current state, but he surprised me by doing it himself, and I have to say, it's so much nicer to walk around barefoot now!  I have a sweet husband.

The kids still ask me occasionally when the baby will come.  The other day Clyde asked "Is the baby coming today?" in his cute little toddler voice.  When I said no, he said "Oh, she's coming tomorrow?"  They are excited, but I think they are also starting to think she's taking forever and I hear the hint of exasperation when they ask "How many more days now?"  Especially when I have to say I don't know!



About Baby

She still moves quite a lot, and I love feeling her tiny legs and feet through my belly!  She seems to be liking to interact with my hand a little bit more, instead of just trying to kick my fingers away. But I can also tell she has slowed down a bit over the last couple weeks - I'm hoping this means she is developing some good sleeping patterns.  The one good thing about going to 40 weeks, if we do, is that I do believe that later babies are better sleepers - at least it's been true in our experience so far.   

At this point I am starting to really look forward to having her here, and seeing what she looks like.  I'm also so curious to see her personality!  I have a feeling all my girls are going to be on the spunky side.  I can't wait to see her little face.

I'm keeping myself busy with a few hobby projects, which I'll probably write about soon, and also trying to sneak in as many days of homeschooling as I can before she arrives so we can take a nice long break.  As slowly as the days seem to drag by sometimes, it's still crazy to think that in a matter of days, most likely down into the teens and soon single digits, we'll have a baby!




Mostly Comfortable - 36 Weeks (Baby #5)



I am happy to report that the hospital bag is packed!

Mostly.  There are a few things, like my hair straightener, that will have to be thrown into the bag whenever I happen to go into labor, but other than that, it's packed.

It was kind of weird packing the hospital bag this time around, because I still am kind of in denial that I have less than a month until this baby gets here.  How did this pregnancy go by so fast?  I still think it's a bit surreal that we are having a fifth baby.  I'm a mom of five babies.  I will have five children trailing after me in the grocery store for the next decade.  It's kind of cool!



How We're Doing

As far as symptoms go, I am feeling pretty good in general.  I did have pretty bad sciatic nerve pain the other night, and I had to lay on the floor and have Derek help me rotate my knees from side to side so I could actually put weight on my left leg.  I really need to get to the chiropractor this week.  

I also have had insane heartburn, and I may have taken more than the recommended amount of Tums a couple days in a row last week.  When I realized what I did and told Derek, he may have threatened to take my Tums away.  Surely "overdosing" on Tums can't cause much damage, right?


She seems to be fine in there anyway - she still moves constantly.  With all my other babies I remember at least once worrying that they were not okay in there because I hadn't felt them move in a while - this baby girl has not given me the opportunity to worry about her at all, at least not yet.  Sometimes I'll just be standing in line or at the kitchen counter, and I won't really feel her kicking, but I'll look down at my belly and I can see her rolling around in there.  This girl is rarely still.

Despite having sciatic nerve pain and the worst heartburn I've ever had, this pregnancy is such a breeze compared to the last one that I am feeling really optimistic right now.  Clarice was breech or transverse most of my pregnancy, and her placenta was anterior, and I'm convinced those things made her pregnancy a lot harder on me.  I just remember being D.O.N.E. at this point last pregnancy, but I am feeling really good this time, like I could go late again and be okay as long as I kept myself busy.



I feel pretty comfortable most of the time, and I actually feel pretty small for 36 weeks, despite my standard answer to "How are you feeling?" being "Big."  Baby has dropped, and the stomach is mostly out front and not pressing on my ribs anymore, so in comparison to other pregnancies I feel pretty cute still, and I can still move around pretty easily.  

Early?  Late?

I am really trying not to think she is coming early, because that is part of what made going late last time so tortuous...but I can't help it, there is still a small part of me that is hoping she'll come a little before her due date.  

To combat this, I have set up a couple "rewards" for myself for the last couple weeks of pregnancy.  If I make it to 38.5 weeks, I'll buy the fall ankle booties I've been eyeing.  And if I make it to a day before my due date, I'm hoping to be able to go see "Murder On The Orient Express" when it comes out on November 10th (if you have not read that book, you have to - it's a classic).  I don't have any rewards for if I go past my due date, but I'll set one up later if I think I'll need it to keep my waiting attitude positive.  I wouldn't say I'm impatient quite yet, but I am getting pretty excited to have her here!



What's Next?

I have a doctor's appointment next week, the first one where they will check my cervix.  I'll probably put an update on Instagram after my appointment, so follow me there!  If I'm only at 1 cm or less, I'm anticipating I'll make it to 40 weeks.  If I'm dilated more than that, there is a possibility she may come a bit sooner.

Derek will be hunting next week though, so let's just all pray that I don't go into labor while he's out traipsing through the woods, shall we?  I do think we'll be okay though.  I don't think she'll come before November.

(Me and the biggest sister!)


Did You Always Want A Big Family?




I grew up with one brother and one sister.

My siblings are twins and are two years younger than me.  We had a lot of fun growing up, being so close in age.  I remember so many different games we came up with, and we would play with each other for hours.  We had pretty good relationships with each other, and I loved having both a brother and a sister.

I think when we are young (especially us girls), it's easy to think that you get to plan your whole life out.  When I was in middle school, I decided I wanted to get married at 22 (my mom's marriage age), wait two or three years to have babies, then have three kids (because it seemed to work for my family of origin).  I even had names picked out (because of course my husband would love every name that I did).

If you have been following this blog for a while, you know that none of that worked out like I thought it would!

So to answer a question from my blog buddy Natalie, I didn't always want a "big" family (unless you consider three kids "big", which I don't).

I continued on with my well-planned-out life, and when I was 19 years old and in dental hygiene college I read a book called "America Alone" by Mark Steyn.  I can say with certainty that this was the point when I started to think about family size a little differently.  

This book was not necessarily about family size, it was about international politics, but it did address the history and current state of birth rates in different countries.  In the book, Steyn presents evidence that countries or cultures that have higher birth rates tend to accomplish more in the world, and those that have anemic birth rates tend to go into decline.

This was a shifting point for me, because for the first time it occurred to me that maybe choosing how many children to have isn't a decision that should be merely based on personal preference or some arbitrary "ideal".  It introduced to me the idea that having children is a way to pass something on, and if there are more children in the family, there is more of a chance to pass it on to more people.  As a strong believer in Christ, that idea was interesting to me, because I want to pass on my faith to my children, and for them to pass it on to their children.  For the first time I thought about having four kids instead of just three.

I think the Lord used that unexpected book to get me thinking in a new direction, because a year later Derek and I got married, and a year later we went off birth control because of our pro-life convictions.  Still, I clung to the idea that I could control everything in my life, including the timing and size of my family.  This was my decision, and I didn't think about God's opinion about my family much at all.

But God wasn't finished working on my heart, and I was rudely awakened to the fact that maybe I wasn't in control of this.  Things weren't working quite right after I went off the pill, and for the first time it occurred to me that maybe getting pregnant isn't as simple as I thought.

We went through about eleven months of waiting for things to get back to normal, and I very quickly went from thinking we'd wait to try to get pregnant to being desperate to have a baby.  This was what God used to turn me toward what He wanted for our family, instead of just what I wanted.   This is what He used to change my view of children from something to check off my list, to viewing them as a true blessing that He was in charge of giving. 

Fast forward a few years later, and instead of the two or four Derek and I said we originally wanted, we are expecting our fifth baby.  Until about two years ago, the idea of five never even entered my head - but I credit this baby completely to God working in our hearts and family.  After we had Clarice there was just that nudge from the Holy Spirit to wait, to not do anything permanent quite yet, and we wouldn't have been listening at all if not for all those years of God slowly changing my attitude on children.  We would have cut things short long ago if God hadn't used our trouble getting pregnant to teach me to seek His will for our family, not just my own.  He used a stressful time in my life of dealing with sub-par fertility to actually bring me more babies than I would have otherwise!  Looking back now, I'm amazed at how gentle He was with me.  He gave me just the right resources and circumstances at the right times to change my heart.

So here we are, having a "big" family.  (I can probably say "big" without quotation marks now - it's just that the Duggars and Bates kind of redefined "big" for me.)  Derek and I never really planned this out, but looking at our five babies (even the one still in my belly), we really cannot imagine not having them here.  God has been really gracious to us, and He gave us what we didn't know we needed.  

So, to finish answering Natalie's question, my favorite part of having a big family...well, they are all running around, laughing as I type this, and the joy is pretty infectious!  (Of course, there are also times of everyone crying, but let's just skip over that.)  I think my favorite part of having a big family is those moments when they are all gathered around me for school or Bible time, and we are talking about something really important, and I know that this is it.  This is what God made me for, and these children are one of the only things I will do on this earth that will really last...and He trusted me with five of them.  



It's a powerful thought, and it's humbling, and it makes me want to cry for the responsibility and privilege of it.  He's been really good to me, and I see that nowhere more clearly than in these little faces that look back at me every day.



P.S.  If you asked Derek his version of the story, he'd have a very different one than mine...but I saw how he kept his heart open to what the Lord might have for us over the years too.  There is a reason God sent us each other, and these five kids are good proof!

P.P.S. If you have any "getting to know you" questions for me, now's the time!  It'll help me come up with material for the last two weeks of my 31 Day Writing Challenge!

Birth Story Memories

(This photo is from way back, from my maternity photos with Gwen.)

I'm getting to that stage of pregnancy where my mind is going to labor quite often.  First I found myself getting a little nervous when I think ahead to labor...mainly because I plan to go without the epidural again, and I remember the pain well enough to make me a bit nervous.  But as I've been thinking about how everything went with my other kids' births, I'm remembering that I just took it like it came with my other labors, and I can do it again.  I'm about as prepared as I can be for this, and  I'm just praying for peace and fortitude for this baby's labor too, when it comes.

Since I seem to have labor and delivery on the brain these days, I thought I'd take this Saturday morning to reminisce a bit about my previous birth stories by re-sharing them here.  Who doesn't love a good birth story, after all?  And some of you may not have been around since I started having babies, so this is a good chance to catch you all up.  Enjoy!

Wyatt's Birth - Born at 37 weeks, because of pre-eclampsia.  My pre-eclampsia induction story.

Gwendolyn's Birth - Born at 39 weeks, with a fast-moving labor.  My didn't-make-it-to-the-hospital story.

Clyde's Birth (And Part Two) - Born at 39 weeks, after a night of violent vomiting.  My slightly traumatic, back-labor, partial placental abruption labor story.

Clarice's Birth - Born at 40 weeks 3 days, when I was so ready to meet her!  My pretty-dreamy-labor story.




The Belly Has Dropped - 34 Weeks (Baby #5)



We've entered into the phase of pregnancy where I am an emotional mess.

The last couple weeks I have been sensitive and irritable and overwhelmed and crying about stupid things.  I can't decide if it's related to being tired, or hormones, but it's probably some combination of both.  I feel bad for my poor family, and I'm trying really hard to lower my expectations so that I don't get so easily overwhelmed - this would be a good thing now, while my hormones are a mess, and after baby, when my hormones will still be a mess!

I have crossed a couple more things off my baby to-do list, which is satisfying.  I've also added a couple things (like beating out our living room rug before winter).  I was hoping to get my hospital bag packed before my appointment this week, just in case, and I'm about halfway there...I have a bunch of stuff in a pile waiting to be packed.  That counts for something, right?



As far as baby goes, she is still moving like crazy, and she lets me rub her little feet through my skin now without trying to kick my fingers away.  She hiccups all the time, which makes me happy because it means her lungs are maturing.

Also, in major news - BABY GIRL HAS DROPPED!  This is always exciting to me, because it means my ribs hurt a little less, and it means baby is less likely to flip.  You probably can't tell very well in these pictures, but trust me, the belly is definitely lower.



My body seems to be getting ready for labor a little more - I have definitely had more Braxton-Hicks contractions in the last couple of days, and there were a few days last week where my hips hurt so badly from loosening up to get ready for delivery.  Thankfully the hip pain has subsided a bit, and I am generally feeling pretty comfortable.



Tomorrow is my 34 week appointment, and probably the last appointment I will bring my kids since they'll start checking my cervix at the next appointment (37 weeks).  I want to enjoy their little reactions for this last time they'll get to hear the baby's heartbeat.  They always are so interested to hear what she's up to in there, and every one of them seems happy and excited about the baby.  It's making me more excited to have her here, and to have our whole family together on the outside!

(I've been trying to get a picture with each of the kids during these little bi-weekly photo shoots.  This week was Clyde's turn!)




My Pre-Baby To Do List


Note: I received the top in these photos for free in collaboration with PinkBlush!  All opinions are my own.

Every pregnancy the last couple months are full of to-do's, and I tend to get a little...tense.  I always feel bad for my poor family, because the nesting takes over a little and I occasionally (way too frequently) break down in tears because something is not getting done when I thought it would (thanks, hormones).  This time around is no different, though I have gotten a head start on the to-do list so it feels more manageable that it has in the past!

I thought I'd share a few of the things that I've had on my to-do list for the last few weeks (so I've already crossed a couple off - hooray!).  My goal is to get all of these (except the last one) done by 37 weeks so I don't have to stress too much at the end of this pregnancy.  That gives me 3.5 weeks - I think that's doable!

Get maternity photos taken.  Check!  Last weekend we ventured out into the rain (yes, rain) with my dear friend and photographer Danae.  She thought we could still get some good pictures in between rain showers, and I was praying we wouldn't get soaked.  I think the Lord held off the rain just for us! I'm pretty excited to see the end results!

Get some new maternity wardrobe basics. Check!  Up until this fall I have been mostly wearing things I already have, non-maternity clothes with a few new maternity pieces mixed in... but I have reached the point where I definitely need maternity clothes now.  There isn't much left in my non-maternity wardrobe that looks right.





My maternity basics were especially looking a little ratty after being put through so many pregnancies over the last seven years, so I decided it was time for some new ones.  To me, maternity wardrobe basics are: a good pair of jeans, a black shirt, and a white shirt.  I can do a lot with those items by adding different accessories, layers, etc!

PinkBlush has been my go-to for cute maternity clothes this pregnancy, and the last basic item I checked off my list was this white long-sleeve dolman shirt from PinkBlush. I'll be getting a lot of use out of it for the next two months until baby arrives!  The material of this shirt is perfect, it's lightweight without being see-through (I didn't even have to wear a layering tank underneath).  I'll be able to incorporate it into a bunch of outfits with different scarves and accessories, and I love how the dolman sleeves give it a little extra style beyond just being another white shirt!




On to the rest of my list!  These are the things that I still need to accomplish.

Clean out kitchen cupboards.  Half-check.  I haven't done a thorough purge of the kitchen cupboards for at least two years...maybe even three and a half (I don't know how I'm going to stay motivated to do these types of chores when I no longer have a nesting urge every couple years to push me through it). I should add a kitchen deep clean to the rotation more often, because it's sad to see the food items we waste because they were pushed into the corner of a kitchen cupboard until we forgot about them and they expired.  I'm halfway through cleaning out the kitchen as I type this.

Deep clean the bathrooms.  To clarify, I do clean my bathrooms frequently, lest you get the wrong idea - but by deep-clean, I mean take everything out of the cabinets, wipe everything down, get rid of the half-empty toiletries we don't use, and scrub every nook and cranny.

Write labels for Christmas cards/birth announcements.  Sending out Christmas cards is very important to me, so I didn't want to let it slide just because I am having a baby right before the Christmas season.  I want to at least get the addresses written out on mailing labels, so I can just stick them to the envelope when we actually get our Christmas cards...and I'm thinking about trying to tackle creating an address spreadsheet so I don't have to keep writing out addresses every year.  We'll see what I have time for.

Finish Christmas shopping.  Half-check.  I do not want to do Christmas shopping with a new baby - the Christmas season can get stressful enough for me as it is, so I am trying to take some pressure off myself by getting ahead of the game with shopping.  We mostly got this done with our Christmas-shopping date a couple weeks ago (which you may have seen on Instagram)!  I just need to buy things for Derek and pick up a few things for our extended family.  I was hoping to have all presents bought and wrapped by now, but I can't find any Christmas wrapping paper anywhere!  Sheesh, it's almost October, people.

Pack my hospital bag.  I keep alternating between thinking that I have plenty of time to get a bag packed, and having extremely uncomfortable days when I am sure the baby is going to come early.  I should probably just get a bag going so I don't have to worry about it anymore.  I need to buy a couple more items for our hospital stay (post coming on what things I think are worth buying for a hospital bag), and then I can check this one off the list.

Finish 72 days of homeschool.  To be completely realistic, I am not sure this is going to happen.  I need to stay pregnant almost to 40 weeks without any off days to get this many days checked off before baby comes, so if it doesn't happen I'm not going to be stressed about it.  But if we can hit 72 days, we'll only have 100 days of school to do in the second half of the year, which seems like a reasonable, not-too-stressful amount to accomplish with a new baby!



There is a little part of me that likes having the due date deadline for to-do's.  I wish I was internally motivated to accomplish things, but I'm just not - I do so much better with a deadline!  Tell me I'm not the only one?
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