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

Guilt-Free Breastfeeding: Advice From A Mom Of Five



I partnered with/received compensation from Babywise.Life to write this post.  Even though this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.

First I should probably clarify for new readers that I'm a mom of four on the outside and one in the oven, who I plan on nursing despite my difficult beginnings with breastfeeding!

I was never an obsessive breastfeeding advocate before I had a baby, but before Wyatt was born I knew I wanted to try to breastfeed him for a year.  I was pregnant with him seven years ago, and maybe this is the case with new mothers now as well, but I felt like the pressure to breastfeed was at the highest it had ever been.  There were plenty of studies about the benefits of breastfeeding, and I heard them all.  I felt that if I was really going to do the best for my baby, I had to try to make it to a year.  That’s what good new mothers did.

Wyatt was born at 37 weeks after an induction from pre-eclampsia, and all the nurses were surprised about how quickly he caught on to nursing.  They expected small babies to have a tougher time, but we didn’t seem to have any problems.  I left the hospital proud of my baby, and proud of myself that everything had gone so smoothly.

That didn’t last long.  

About a week after I brought him home from the hospital, we started having problems.  And by problems, I mean that I would cry out in pain every time he latched.  I couldn’t figure out what went wrong!  I talked to my doctor and lactation consultants, I read online great articles about breastfeeding trouble-shooting and about what a proper latch looks like.  But every time he went to eat, I ended up with tears streaming down my cheeks.

On top of that, I developed mastitis, which took a little time to be properly diagnosed.  I remember a few days being laid out on the couch with a fever and a hard knot in my chest, knowing I needed to nurse more often to try to get it out, but crying when I thought about it because I knew it was going to hurt so badly.

All this lasted about a month, and I started to almost resent when Wyatt would get hungry and want to eat.  Even though it wasn’t great for our relationship, I’d suck it up anyway, and scream in pain, and cry a little.  Finally someone told me something that I will never forget (even though I forget who exactly told me this amidst this painful newborn phase).  

Someone told me that your bond with your baby is more important than whether you breastfeed or not.

That little bit of advice meant so much to me - because someone had finally given me permission to let breastfeeding go if I needed to.   Someone had finally acknowledged that there are more important things in motherhood than whether I breastfed or not.

That advice helped me to take my doctor’s advice when she suggested I stop nursing on the affected side and just pump until there was some improvement.  That advice gave me permission to not breastfeed because I felt I had to, but only if I wanted to.

It was the most freeing thing I could have heard at that time in my motherhood journey, because it made me realize that breastfeeding is not what makes a person a good mother.  The love and care you have for your baby, and the bond that forms with or without breastfeeding, is what makes you a good mother.

I did end up finally healing and I nursed Wyatt until six months old.  Even with future troubles with my supply and nursing a baby with a food sensitivity (Gwen), nursing has been a such a sweet time with all my babies.  But it’s been sweeter yet knowing I breastfed my babies because I wanted to, and not because I was obligated to.  I am most proud today not of how long (or not long) I breastfed, but that it was a guilt-free journey.

So if I were to give advice to a brand-new mom today about breastfeeding, it would be that: Breastfeed because you want to, not because you have to.  Know that if everything doesn’t go as planned, you can fight through it and still have a successful breastfeeding story - or you can decide to let it go for the sake of reducing the stress on your bond, and that is a good choice too.  Your bond with your baby is not dependent on how successful you are at breastfeeding.  Loving your baby, and caring for their needs as best you can, until someday they don’t need you anymore - that’s what makes you a good mother.  Regardless of how this part of your motherhood story goes, it’s only one brief part, and not anywhere close to the most important.




Growth Spurt! 18 Weeks (Baby #5)




I read somewhere that babies start to go through a growth spurt around 18 weeks, and I believe it - I've been feeling it this last week!  I don't think you can tell from the outside yet, but some of my symptoms make me think there is definitely some growing happening.



I'm suddenly tired again (but thankfully not nearly as tired as in the first trimester), and I have had a couple days last week when I felt nauseous.  I have never felt nauseous in the second trimester before, so I wondered at first if it was a stomach bug, but I dismissed that idea when it happened twice on separate days in one week.  Weirdly, I think I might have figured out that I feel worse when I drink milk - do people develop food sensitivities while pregnant?  This has never happened to me before!  I am crossing my fingers that it's not the milk because I love my dairy, but I have cut it out for a few days and will have a bowl of cereal tomorrow to test it out.  Whatever is going on with that, Baby is making his/her presence known!



Baby is still moving daily now, but the movements are pretty soft and down low.  Movements down low in my belly make me worry that baby is breech (Clarice was and I always felt her kicks lower), but if this baby is breech, he/she is comfortably breech.  I haven't had any backaches at all this pregnancy, which is unusual for me and so nice! Overall, this Baby has been very gentle with the pregnancy aches/pains/symptoms, and that has been a blessing.  I thought it might be harder being pregnant this time since I'm getting ever older, but this pregnancy has been easier than some of my others!  Now I'm just hoping for some stronger kicks from Baby in the next few weeks, because it's so fun to feel them from the outside.



Sitting here typing this post, I feel like I've almost felt a couple Braxton Hicks! They started around the middle of my pregnancy with Clarice as well, but I was kind of surprised to feel them anyway.  It's a good thing because my uterus is toning up for labor, but that still seems so far off (even though it's not that far off, actually - five months will fly by)!

Gender reveal party plans are in full swing now (we find out on July 3rd!), and we're going to have the party the weekend after the 4th of July.  So obviously we'll go with a 4th of July/Americana theme!  The 4th is in the middle of the week this year, so I think it'll work out just fine.  I'm going to be on the hunt for sparklers, because where we are they always sell out way before the 4th - and when I say we sell out, I mean every place I check in my state is out of sparklers and fireworks after a certain date.  If I can't find any, Baby and I will be taking a little trip across the state line!  



This week is also my birthday week, so we celebrated last weekend.  I always like being pregnant on my birthday!  It's just fun to celebrate with another little one along for the ride, and I feel blessed.

I know I promised a belly comparison picture this week, but I changed my mind and I'm going to save it for next week - along with all my symptoms, etc, and maybe even a little gift card for someone who guesses the gender right!  Stay tuned!

(Note: Affiliate links below.)

Swing dress: Jane.com
Kimono: Forever21
Sunglasses: Jane.com
Pineapple Necklace: Christopher & Banks

5 Gifts A New Mom Will Thank You For Later

  (First note: This is my belly at 34 weeks with Clyde.  I'm bigger this time, but not that big yet, haha!)

(Also: I partnered with/received compensation from Babywise.Life to write this post.  Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.  This post contains affiliate links, which means I will make a percentage of any products purchased after clicking on the links.)


Even though I am expecting a baby myself, I have to say, I am pretty excited about a few baby showers in my future - for my friends!  I know a few girls who are having babies this summer and fall, and all the imminent baby shower excitement got me thinking about my first baby shower.  When I was expecting Wyatt I spent a ton of time searching and making lists of things I needed, and I had a strategy of only registering for my must-have items.  Overall that strategy served me well because after my shower there was very little left for me to buy!  But I also have to admit that some of my most useful gifts were things that were not on my must-have list - in fact, some of them I didn’t even think I needed at all.  Sometimes other people really do know what you need better than you do.  I’m not sure I ever specifically thanked my family and friends who deviated from the list for giving me something I never knew I needed, but trust me, there was a lot of gratitude in my heart towards those who gave me the items below!  

I’m focusing on gifts for brand-new, first time moms in this post, because I have a completely different list for second (or third or fourth) time moms.  Maybe that will be another post soon!



Poncho-Style Nursing Cover 

As an expecting mom I knew I needed a nursing cover, but I honestly didn’t give much thought to the style of it.  Thankfully my aunt thought outside the box and made me a poncho-style nursing cover (similar to this one).  This was so creative of her, because this was way back when (ahem, 7 years ago), before the poncho-style ones were popular - and it was a lifesaver.  It was so freeing to have something that covered my front and my back, and it made every shirt I had “nursing friendly”. 


I didn’t even think about a nursing pillow until my sister-in-law brought me one in the hospital right after I had my baby.  If I’m completely honest, I thought they were a little silly before I actually used one - but as soon as I got that pillow, I was a convert. I quickly realized how much easier it was to use a nursing pillow than to prop up several different pillows to support my arms while nursing - and bonus, they are also great for propping baby up during tummy time exercise too!  I like the donut-shaped pillows like this one.

Baby Bathtub 

Weirdly, I never thought about this item either until my mom gave me one.  I think in the back of my mind I just thought I could wash my baby in the kitchen sink.  Maybe that seems really naive, but maybe one of you budget-conscious expecting mamas has considered the sink option too - just trust me, ask for the baby bathtub.  Baths are stressful enough with newborns without trying to figure out how to prop them up while you wash their wispy hair!

Car Mirror 

This one is technically cheating, because I didn’t receive a car mirror as a gift - not the way home from the hospital we stopped to buy one.  I realized on that first car ride that when I was sitting in the front, with the rear-facing car seat in the back, I couldn’t see my tiny baby at all!  We found a mirror attach to the backseat, so I could peek back there and see the reflection of my little bundle.  This brought immense comfort to my paranoid new-mom self.  I got one like this car mirror because it was so big!

Books 

It never even occurred to me to ask for books, for myself or the baby, but a couple friends were thinking ahead for me.  One friend gave me an adorable and thoughtful children’s book that I treasure to this day, and one friend gave me the Babywise book, which you already know I found so helpful.  Now, when I attend a first-time baby shower, I try to stick a couple encouraging, informative, or cute books in the bag with the rest of my gift, because I know how much the books I received meant to me.



Mamas - what gifts did you get that you used or appreciated more than you thought you would?

(Also check out this post on Babywise.life for more ideas for new baby items you may not have thought of!)




Little Kicks - 16 Weeks (Baby #5)



I'm 16 weeks pregnant!  I remember feeling 16 weeks was a big deal in past pregnancies, and it feels that way this time too.  We are well into the second trimester, baby is growing big enough to start to feel movement, and we could technically find out the gender now!  We won't until the 20 week scan, but it's still exciting that we could.

I think my energy is mostly back - yay! - and I really have no pregnancy symptoms right now except some round ligament pain (it starts earlier and earlier).  I'm starting to think ahead to sewing this baby's quilt.  I sew a quilt for each of my babies before they are born, and I need to start the search for a pattern and color scheme.

I have been feeling baby kicks almost every day since the start of our vacation. It's the best part of pregnancy!  In my memory I almost forgot about these delicate little movements at the beginning - I remember the big kicks at the end, but these little nudge-movements are so precious.  Every time I feel a kick I think about how it's a little hand or foot probably kicking as hard as Baby can, and yet it feels like a light flick to me.  It's just cute and sweet to think about my little baby making those kicks!



Of course, Baby is not that little anymore.  Baby is about the size of a large avocado now, plus legs, and apparently (according to my baby websites), a growth spurt is coming this month!  

Also, some website needs to create baby/mom weekly updates that are NOT geared toward the first baby.  One of the sites suggested a babymoon to get away with "just the two of you" one more time, and it hasn't been just the two of us in a long time!  In fact, I was just thinking about how this time around I've had less time to contemplate being pregnant - now that Wyatt is getting ready for first grade, and we're homeschooling, I've been in planning mode for the school year.  I kind of miss having more time to focus and plan for Baby.  That's why I'm especially appreciating the baby movements this time, because it's a nice little reminder of my fifth little one throughout the day!  I never am all alone right now with this baby in my belly, and I love it.


(One without my kimono so you can see my belly in all it's glory.  I still feel like the bump is larger than the others at 16 weeks, but I'll do another comparison soon!)

I'll talk more about our gender reveal plans in my next update, so stay tuned!

Hooray For The Second Trimester! - 14 Weeks (Baby #5)


 

We have officially reached the second trimester by all measures!  This is my fifth baby, and I'm still confused about when the second trimester officially starts, but I know that 14 weeks is the latest.

So far, the second trimester is looking good!  I have been feeling so much better this last week.  I still fall into bed at night, but I'm not exhausted all through the day like I have been up to this point.  I'm very happy to be feeling better before we leave on vacation, because I so wanted to be able to enjoy everything without being overly tired.  I've had no real cravings or aversions lately (aside from stomach aches if I eat too much spicy food), no aches and pains, less exhaustion.  I'm feeling good!




Baby is the size of a large lemon this week, plus legs!  That's huge! It's amazing how fast babies grow in utero.  According to my internet sources, baby is also starting to grow hair, and practicing lots of different facial expressions (and the thought of that is almost too cute for words).

I am almost certain that I've felt the baby.  At 12.5 weeks, I felt a tiny little nudge in my stomach, similar to how it would feel if I slowly and lightly pressed my finger for a second on my skin (only from the inside).  I wasn't having any other sort of digestive discomfort, and it was in approximately the right spot, so I suspected it might have been baby!  Then I proceeded to get worried when I didn't feel it again, but at the 14 weeks mark I felt the same sort of nudge in the same spot.  I'm pretty sure it's baby, and by the next update I'll probably be able to report with more certainty!  I can't wait to start feeling more tiny kicks.  It's my absolute favorite part of being pregnant.




And one more blessing...I mentioned a couple posts ago that I gave away my Belly Band before I found out I was pregnant, and have been missing it.  I normally use it all through pregnancy to utilize my regular pants as long as possible.  Well, my sweet blog friend Angi (who is having her baby in the next couple months) offered to send me hers!  It didn't work for her, and she wanted to bless me with it.  Thank you Angi, you were so kind to think of me, and I really am so happy to have a Belly Band again!



That's all there is to report at the moment.  I have another checkup next week, so I'll let you know heart rate again at that point...and then the appointment after that is when I hope to find out this tie breaker's gender!  And since I've been asked several times already, yes, I plan on doing another gender reveal party.  I have intentions of keeping this one low-key, but, well...we'll just see how it turns out!  I tend to go a little overboard with party planning.  If you want to catch up on all our previous gender reveal parties, check them out below.

First Gender Reveal Party (Classic) - Get ready to travel back in time, because this one is vintage from 2010 when I was pregnant with Wyatt.

BBQ Gender Reveal Party - Also pretty classic, and lots of fun finding out we were having our first girl!

Ugly Sweater/Christmas Gender Reveal Party - We took full advantage of the season for Clyde's gender reveal!

Ice Cream Social Gender Reveal Party - Clarice's party didn't quite go according to plan, but it turned out alright!


Outfit Details:

Shirt: Forever21
Skirt: Maurices
Earrings: Walmart
Necklace: (#affliatelink) Jane.com
Shoes: (#referral) JustFab

How I (Gently) Helped My Babies Sleep Through The Night


Note: I partnered with/received compensation from Babywise.Life to write this post.  Although this is a sponsored post, all opinions are my own.

When you have a baby, there will always be a period of time when the baby won’t sleep.  Looking ahead to when this baby is born, I am expecting the typical new-parent sleep deprivation. But I’m also strategizing on what we can do to help this baby learn to sleep through the night, because I know with five kids I’m going to need as much sleep as I can get! 

Now, I think some kids naturally fall into better sleep patterns than others, and I’ve definitely noticed that with my four kids so far. But I do think that there are certain ways that parents can gently encourage their kids to develop good sleeping habits. With some guidelines to help, Derek and I must have hit on the right combination for our kids because all four started sleeping through the night consistently (I define that as sleeping for at least an 8-hour stretch at night) by around two months old.  I'm tentatively confident that this baby will do the same!

So for the sake of review for myself, and maybe some extra strategies for those of you in a current sleep-deprived baby stage, I wanted to share a few things that worked for us.

I make sure baby is getting a full feeding every time.  

What I mean by a “full feeding” is making sure your baby eats until they don’t want to eat anymore.  Newborns love to fall asleep while nursing, but I did everything I could to make sure my babies stayed awake until they were done eating.  If you let them, babies may fall asleep before getting their stomach full, or before getting the more satisfying hindmilk.  If they don’t get a full feeding, they are going to want to eat again sooner.  That’s not helpful for a good night's sleep!  Especially for the last feeding before bed, I make sure they stay awake and get as much milk as possible.

I try to avoid bad falling-asleep habits.  

I try to make sure my baby doesn’t fall into a habit where they need something to fall asleep. To be clear, there have been many times when I nursed my baby to sleep, or let them fall asleep in a swing, etc, but I just try to avoid letting these things become a habit.  It’s better for nighttime sleep if babies also learn to go to sleep on their own from an awake state, so I try to give my babies a chance to practice that.

I don’t let them nap (at all) in the last stretch before bed.  

During the day we loosely follow an eat-awake-sleep pattern for baby, but between the second-to-last and the last feeding of the day, I do everything I can to keep my baby awake the whole time.  This is pretty much common sense.  Can you fall asleep easily if you take a nap an hour before bedtime?  I want my baby to feel good and tired by the time bedtime rolls around.  After the last feeding, they go straight to bed.

I recognize that I might have to be creative in figuring out my individual, unique baby.  

One of our kiddos would not fall asleep by himself for weeks, until we figured out that a night light and a white noise machine were what helped him feel comfortable.  With two older siblings constantly around during the day, he just didn’t like to feel like he was all alone at night!  Another kiddo needed the thermostat at exactly 72 degrees for him to get good sleep at night. With all my babies I did the things listed above and also had to figure out what would help them individually to sleep better, and every kid was a little different.


If some of you have read Babywise, you may recognize a couple of the ideas above from that book!  My mom gave me the book that came before Babywise when I was pregnant with Wyatt - and I’m so thankful she did, because as a new mom I had no idea what a day with a baby would look like, and that book gave me a good idea of what to expect.  Some of the overall principles from Babywise for helping develop good sleep habits obviously stuck, and they have worked really well for our family!  

What Do you Mean By "Gently"?

The reason I say that these are ways I gently helped my babies sleep through the night is because as a mom you need to work around your babies' needs.  After all these years of practice I’ve had with my babies, I’ve learned it’s up to me as their mom to do what I can to help my baby learn how to sleep, while also being flexible when unique situations arise.  There are going to be days where you break all the "rules", and that's okay!  To me, the ideas I got from Babywise and other sources, including some of the ideas I listed here, were a great jumping-off point as guidelines for me to encourage my babies to sleep.  But part of finding confidence as a mom is learning when you need to do something a little differently, and feeling good about following your instincts.  That's the spirit in which I share these tips, as things to keep in mind as you help your baby figure out how to sleep well!


Did you try anything specific to help you baby sleep through the night?  When did your kiddo start sleeping through the night?

For more ideas, I really loved this article on encouraging newborns to sleep at night - it included some things I’ve done with my babies, and some things I didn’t think of (like using a different nighttime swaddle)!




First Baby Purchase - 12 Weeks (Baby #5)



It's Week 12, which means we are almost out of the first trimester!  This is particularly exciting for me this time around, since pregnancy fatigue has really knocked me out the last couple of months.  I'm really looking forward to (hopefully) feeling more energetic.  Please pray with me that my energy really does come back.  Some people have freaked me out by suggesting I'll be this tired all the way through this time, which I refuse to believe - think positive!





I've been feeling more productive over the last week, which has been refreshing.  I've realized that I really can't stay up past 9:00 PM with this baby if I want to be functional and in a reasonably good mood the next day.  It's almost impossible to get to bed by 9 every night, especially in the coming week because I have so many mom's nights out, and an end-of-year party for my church's mom's group.  My plan is to implement the same strategy I mentioned a couple weeks ago, which is to stumble out of bed the next morning when the kids arise  (i.e. at sunrise), stick in a movie, and stumble back to bed for another hour of sleep.  Perhaps I should feel bad about this, but I don't.  Not even a little bit.

This week I've been finding myself particularly excited about this baby.  I've been having days where I feel normal, and I almost forget I'm pregnant...and then when I remember, I grin at the thought of snuggling a sweet newborn all my own in a few short months!  It just strikes me every now and then how blessed I am to get to do this again, to greet a new little life, and feel a baby stirring in my stomach again, and hold a squishy newborn with a sweet head tucked under my chin again.  I'm excited!


Shirt: Target
Shoes: Rack Room Shoes
Pants: Forever21
Sweater with snap buttons:  (affiliate link) Jane.com 
(I just love Jane! They have so many cute things at a discount.)
Gold "chainmail" headband: Charming Charlie (referral link for $10 off $40!)


I'm particularly anxious to feel some tiny baby kicks, and I've been paying especially close attention to my lower abdomen lately.  The earliest I've felt baby movement is 14 weeks and some days, but I have acquaintances who claim to have felt their baby as early as 12 weeks.  It can't hurt to be extra attentive, right?

I made the first purchase for this baby recently, a sheet for the crib.  I'm afraid that sounds terribly boring, but it's a plush minky sheet.  A cozy white cloud of a sheet.  It will be lovely.



I'll add a stuffed animal or some other sweet toy that is appropriate for the baby box when I get some time to shop alone.  If I try to buy a toy for the baby with my munchkins in tow, I'll probably be talked into buying them each something, or letting them each pick out something for the baby, and that could get pricey!

And just for fun, here is all five babies at 12 weeks, in order (I believe you can click on the picture for a larger view):



I used to get excited around 12 weeks because I thought I was "showing".  Haha!  It's safe to say Baby #5's bump is beating them all!

My next appointment is at 15 weeks, and I'm so excited to hear baby's sweet heartbeat again!  

How I'll (Hopefully) Help My Toddler Adjust To The New Baby



I think it's natural to moms of more than one child to worry about how their older child will handle the new addition.  I am really blessed in the so far, my kids have ha a fairly easy transition!

However, I wouldn't be honest if I didn't admit that I'm still worried about how Clarice will handle this new baby.  I've been worried each time, so this is nothing unusual, but I'm particularly concerned for my youngest darling this time because she seems to be currently thriving in her role as the youngest.  She thinks my lap is her spot, and gets upset if even one of the older kids sits in my lap.  She likes to be carried as often as she can get away with it.  She is a ham and loves being the center of attention.

(Affiliate link below.)

These are my strategies for making the transition on Clarice as easy as it can be, but I'd love to hear more ideas if anyone has some!


1.  Talk to her about the baby as much as possible.
This is always easier when my belly gets bigger, but I will point to my stomach and say "Baby in there!"  It was surprising with my other kids how much this helped it sink in.

2. Read books about new babies.
Tommy Nelson just came out with a book called God Bless Our Baby and as soon as I saw it, I snagged it!  It's super-cute, and details all the fun and sweet things that come with a having a new baby - like making them laugh, helping with bathtime, and having a new friend.  It also has pages that talk about things like mama's growing belly, feeling kicks, and staying quiet while baby sleeps to help little kids know what to expect. I also LOVE that they have one page that includes adopted families.  I think this will be a fun book to get my younger kids excited about having a new baby around!



3. Work on being "gentle".
Lots of practice with baby dolls, stuffed animals, and people, and excessive praise when she succeeds.

4. Put the baby down sometimes for lots of snuggles after baby arrives.
I always try to be aware that  all my older kiddos need some extra attention and love after the new baby comes home, especially the child that was just ousted from the youngest position.  I will get as much snuggles in with my new munchkin as I can, but I also want to make sure to intentionally put the baby down so I can hold or play with my other kids.  They need to know they are still just as important to me, even though babies take more time in the beginning.



5. Ask the big kids for help.
My kids feel so useful and proud of themselves when they are able to help me - and a little praise goes a long way in making them feel loved and needed!  For Clarice, I'll ask her to bring me a diaper or wipes so that she can feel a part of taking care of the new baby.


What am I missing?  Were any of you worried about one of your kiddos with a new baby on the way?  How did it play out?


Note: I received a copy of "God Bless Our Baby" from the Tommy Mommy program in exchange for the review in this post.  This is my honest opinion!  Also don't miss my giveaway of this book on Instagram!  Double entries if you enter on both my accounts! @CallieNicole7 and @ThroughCloudedGlass



A Story Of Two Lines (For The 5th Time)



It's still a bit surreal, sitting down to write out the story of how we found out we were expecting our fifth baby! I never thought about having five kids until the last couple years, and even then I was mostly working on convincing my heart that we were done at four.  As I sit here typing, I'm just feeling so grateful that the Lord has better plans than our own.

I guess this story sort of starts when I was pregnant with Clarice.  I didn't write about it much, because I ended up being wrong, but when I first got pregnant with Clarice, I was convinced it was twins.  Her pregnancy and all my symptoms were so different than any of my other pregnancies, it seemed to make sense.  Of course I found out that there was indeed only one baby in there, but for that brief period of time I had five kids on the brain.  After I found out it would only be four, five would never quite let go.

A few months after Clarice was born, I remember sitting there, looking at my beautiful family, my four beautiful kids, and feeling a sense of contentment...but at the same time, I had this niggling little feeling somewhere inside.  It kept whispering that maybe someone was still missing.

The feeling persisted, and I mostly tried to dismiss it, because four had always been our number.  Five really hadn't been on the radar.  When I told Derek how I felt, we prayed about it for a few months, and went on with daily life.  I had heard from other moms that even after their last baby they never felt "done", so I tried to convince myself that this was all part of the normal adjustment after you pass your child-bearing phase.  

I cleaned out some of our baby items, and dropped them off at the pregnancy center and the thrift store.  When we gave away the activity "city" that we got when Wyatt was a baby, Derek turned to me and told me that it all made him a little sad.  He was feeling good about four, but seeing our baby things sitting on the pavement made him sad that it appeared to be all over.  I was a little sad too, but tried not to think about it, because the thought of being done was always sad.  And that was normal, right?

I had a couple months after I got my cycles back when I almost convinced myself I was pregnant, because my premenstrual symptoms were so different after Clarice - every month they were more like early pregnancy symptoms than PMS.  After a couple months of torturing myself, I decided to stop charting the second part of my cycle, and stop paying attention to my "symptoms" that kept turning out to not be pregnancy symptoms at all.  My thought was that if I wasn't having to record my temperature every morning during the second part of my cycle, I wouldn't be thinking about our methods and the probability of us getting a surprise, and I wouldn't have time to talk myself into the idea of being pregnant.

So in February I charted until I knew we were safe, marked when my next cycle would start on the calendar, and didn't think about it.

Technically, I knew I could start on Friday, but it could also be Saturday, so I packed a few feminine things in my purse on Saturday March 4th, and I went off on my antique store shopping trip with my mom and sister.  I got home later, helped Derek with the kids, and read a book the rest of the afternoon.  That evening I remembered that I hadn't started, and decided to take a test the next morning.  Just to rule it out.  Then I could take that information and predict my ovulation a little more accurately the next cycle.  It wouldn't be the first time I ovulated a day or two later than I thought.

So the next morning, when I pulled out that test, I wasn't particularly careful while taking it.  I didn't count to exactly five seconds.  I didn't really think it would be positive.

I popped in my contacts, and went back to look at the test sitting on the side of the tub.  One solid line, so I looked to the next window, and with a bit of a start, realized there was a very faint second line forming.  My heart picked up a little, and I sat there with my chin in my hand, completely bewildered as the line got darker and darker.

I figured out later that if I had taken a little more care to study the test before I took it, I would have known that I was squinting that whole time at the control line.  The test line was the dark line that I could see clearly before I even got the contact solution out of my eyes.

I was pregnant!



Looking back, I should have been a little suspicious.  I had been exhausted for an entire week, I was waking up twice every night to use the bathroom, and I had cried one night merely because Derek hadn't emptied the dishwasher.  But my PMS had been so weird for months, I really didn't suspect anything!  I never thought I would ever be truly surprised to be pregnant because I am usually so in tune with my body, but this one really did surprise me.

I called Derek downstairs and told him immediately.  He laughed, shook his head, and then I think we were both a bit in shock for the rest of the day.  It didn't even feel real until the next morning.  We were having a fifth baby!

We started to get more and more excited, and now I am honestly thrilled and super protective of my sweet baby bean!  

That first day I think we were most nervous by what people would say.  I read an article last year, "Honest Thoughts On Having A Fifth Baby", and I re-read it after we found out we were pregnant.  I feel like I could have written much of it.  Five babies are not common in our society today, and people can be so rude.  I had already received rude reactions when I couldn't 100% confirm over the previous year that we were done having babies, and I was worried because I so wanted this baby to be celebrated and welcomed as all my other kids have been.  I highly encourage you to go read that article, so you know the proper (and improper) response if you ever have a friend who has or wants an unusual number of kids.

Thankfully though, all of my people must have gotten the memo, because the reactions to our fifth little blessing have been mostly positive!  Our friends and family are all excited for us.  And if we get any negative reactions, I think our attitude is - who cares?  If someone is going to give us grief for joyfully accepting this God-ordained blessing, they don't count, and their opinion is the thing that is not welcome here.  We are celebrating and excited to welcome this precious new life!

In retrospect, I think that the niggling feeling that our family was missing someone wasn't just "normal", it was the Holy Spirit telling us to just hang on and wait a little longer because God wasn't done growing our family yet.  I wrote last year about how I was feeling convicted about the typical view of family size, as if this is the one area that we should control ourselves.  But God should have a say.  Neither Derek nor I was feeling complete peace about closing that door, and now we know why!  I am so thankful for God nudging us to wait, because that little niggly hole in my heart is filled up by this sweet baby.  I can't wait to hold him or her in November!

I'm six and a half weeks now (update coming soon), but here is my four week picture in the meantime!


 










A New Family Formula




Words are escaping me for the start of this post, so let's just cut to the bottom line!





We are expecting an addition to our family!  Baby #5 calculated to arrive in November!

Details coming next week!

Life With Four



Ever since Clarice was born, I've been wanting to do a day in the life post.  So many people have asked me what life is like with four kids - and I guess this is the chance to find out!  It's honestly not too different than three, except with one extra kid to dress and feed each day.  I love being a mama to four!

I recorded this day a few weeks ago, before we started school again after Christmas break.  I'll try to record a school day soon to give you an idea of how we manage that, but this day is probably more representative of most of the days during Clarice's first year of life.  Enjoy!

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2:30 AM - I stumble out of bed to grab Clarice, who has been alternating crying and talking to herself for two hours. I think cuddling her for a bit will settle her down.  It doesn't.  I put her back in her crib and try to sleep over her chattering (she rarely wakes up in the night anymore, but this time she did).

7:05 AM - I am awakened by a crash and rolling sound from upstairs.  I spring out of bed and find Gwen with a coloring book and markers, sneaking back to her room.  I confiscate the markers, tell her she can play in her room, and see if I can sleep a little longer.

7:25 AM - Gwen comes in my room to inform me that Clyde broke the light in his room.  What? I head upstairs and find that the overhead light cover is on the floor, cracked into pieces.  Thankfully it's only plastic.  I throw the pieces away, tell the kids to read quietly in their room for a few minutes until I come back upstairs.  I read my Bible quickly, because I can already tell this is a day I should really start by reading my Bible if possible.  I read quickly because I hear a squabble and crying form upstairs. 

7:35 AM - Clyde comes downstairs crying to say he's sorry.  I'm not sure what for.  The light?  I tell him I'll be upstairs in a minute.

7:40 AM - Go to the bathroom to brush my teeth.  Clyde comes down again to say sorry. I tell him it's okay and send him back upstairs.

7:45 AM - I wash my face. I hear another squabble about who gets the cool Hot Wheels car.  I ask the boys to please just read in their rooms for a minute.

7:51 AM - I hear crying and "I'm in trouble!" from upstairs.  I give up on trying to get ready for the day and head upstairs to prepare breakfast and reassure Clyde that he is not in trouble (it was an accident!).

7:54 AM - Instant apple cinnamon oatmeal made.  The kids pray in unison before they eat their breakfast (which makes me smile because it's so cute).  Gwen tells me about the good dream she had last night while she eats.  I empty the dishwasher.



8:03 AM - Get Clarice upstairs and settled with her breakfast.  I grab Clyde's clean sheets and go in to make his bed.  I usually have the big kids make their own beds, but I still straighten out their covers a little to help the process.  Nevermind, I decide to take Gwen's bedspread off for an overdue wash.

8:09 AM - I tell the kids to get dressed and make their beds when they are done eating breakfast.  Throw the bedspread in the laundry room on my way to fix my makeup.  I make the bed before heading back upstairs.



8:47 AM - We are in the middle of potty training, and Clyde is doing great!  Success, except for a potty chair spill on the way to the bathroom (just like on that commercial).  I get out the mop.



8:48 AM - The kids' rooms are still a mess.  I'm frustrated.  I get them started on fixing their beds and rooms again.

8:50 AM - I get some coffee brewing and sit down to write a quick book review.  Clyde climbs onto the bench next to me and says "You look pretty, Mommy".  I kiss his sweet little cheek! I'm interrupted three other times, but not so pleasantly.  Crying and squabbling abound.  I'm getting irritable and impatient, and I really don't want to spend the whole day breaking up disputes and telling the kids what to do.  I think that's where we are headed, but I want it to be a good day.

9:17 AM - I get the review published, and help Clyde and Clarice get dressed for the day.  I put away the kids' laundry that Derek and I folded last night.  Wyatt is mopping the floor again.  I change Clarice's diaper, and she says "diaper" as clearly as I've ever heard a baby say it.

9:31 AM - I decide that I think we all have cabin fever, and tell the kids to get in the car.  The big kids head downstairs and I tell them to buckle themselves in. I make the kids some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches while Clarice cries at my feet because I'm not hiding and/or feeding her.

9:48 AM - Sandwiches are finished.  I gather up the lunch bag, coats, a bag full of spare clothes for Clyde, and Clarice in my arms.  I stuff my feet in my shoes on the way to downstairs.  I go outside to find the car with all the windows rolled down in the dead of winter.  Certain children may have gotten in trouble for not being in their seats.

9:50 AM - Run back inside for socks and wipes.  Reheat the coffee that I totally forgot to drink while writing my book review earlier.  I turn it into holly jolly coffee and add whipped cream, but I've added too much, and it spills down the side of my to-go cup when I squish the lid on.

9:58 AM - We are ready!  Almost.  The kids brought some extra toys that I didn't catch earlier, and I run them back inside.  Cue the crying.

9:59 AM - Back in the car.  I buckle in, start my talk radio, and paint the nails on my right hand (I did my left hand nails the night before).  Driving is the only time that I can be sure I won't mess up my half-dried nails.  I realize I forgot to eat breakfast and grab one of the pop tarts I keep in the console.  The kids are upset that I don't have one for them until I remind them that they already had breakfast.

10:01 AM - We're off!

(Photo not taken while the car was actually moving.)

10:19 AM - A child who shall remain nameless confesses to getting a midnight snack out of the kitchen. Wyatt chimes in and says that when he grows up he'll have lots of money and let his kids eat lots of food.  I briefly feel like a horrible mother, and ask if I'm not feeding them enough.  Wyatt says I am (probably to spare my feelings).  It's a good thing I brought snacks.  (For the record, my kids do eat three full meals a day, plus snacks.  But I guess they are growing!  I remember always wanting more to eat at that age.)

10:33 AM - I crest the hill coming into town, and see that it's hazy out.  It's pretty with the winter colors, pale yellow, grey, and light blue.  It has me envisioning watercolor paintings.

10:55 AM - I decide the holly jolly coffee isn't doing it for me today, and head to Starbucks for a pink drink.  I pull up to pay, and the barista tells me the lady ahead of me bought my drink!! THAT HAS NEVER HAPPENED TO ME BEFORE!  It was such a nice surprise!


11:12 AM - We arrive at the Children's Museum.  The kids are so excited, but the parking lot is insane!  I drive around for ten minutes before finding a spot, and I decide we will eat lunch in the car first in the hopes that it will slow down by the time we head in.


11:49 AM - Lunch is eaten, I take an awkward photo on the sidewalk by propping my phone on top of a trash can, and we head in!




















1:23 PM - We emerge!  Successful visit.  No one has been hurt or lost, and the kids declare it a "fun day".




2:16 PM - We stop by the library before we head home.  I pick up a stack of books on US Presidents that I reserved to read with the kids when we start school back up next week.



3:22 PM - We arrive home.  There is a package at the bottom of the driveway.  I get Clyde and Wyatt out of the car, but Gwen is still sleeping from the drive and I know Clarice will want me to hold her, so I run the trash out to the shed first.  I notice a diaper on the ground that must have fallen out of the trash can.  I pick it up, and notice a plastic bag.  Pick it up, and I see another one.  I round the corner and see a bunch of trash strewn behind our shed! Ugh.  I quickly pick everything up.  By the time I get back to the car Gwen is awake, and both girls are crying.

3:33 PM - Everyone is inside, Gwen and Clyde are down for an attempt at a "nap".  I know it probably won't last.  I give Clarice some milk and settle down with her on the couch, kick off my boots.



3:46 PM - Put Clarice down in her crib for an attempt at a late and destined-to-be-short nap.  I hold up her favorite bear, and she grabs it around the neck, squeezes, and grins.

3:47 PM - I finally settle on the couch and fiddle with my phone for a while.  I edit a video and pictures for my Instagram story on our trip to the museum.

4:08 PM - The kids come tumbling out of their rooms, talking about dump trucks or gum drops, I'm not sure which.  If it was earlier in the day I might make them try to nap again, but I give up on nap time today.  The big three are up, and we read three of our Presidents books.  "George Washington: Farmer, Soldier, President";  "George Washington's Teeth"; and "Smart About The Presidents".  The kids are riveted (I'm serious, they were).  I think we need to add a couple of these to our "to-buy" list.





4:34 PM - I hear Clarice and go ahead and get her up too. She snuggles against me.  I sit down on the couch to hold her for a little while, but she wiggles out of my arms and on the floor to play!

4:39 PM - The play tents appear in the living room.  I poke around the kitchen to figure out what to make for dinner, and start boiling some water.  I take out the trash again (is it just my nose, or does the whole house smell like trash?).  The light outside is pretty.  I come inside and light my "Warm Woolen Mittens" candle to clear out the trash smell (or is it pot from the neighbors? Gross.).  I finally throw that bedspread I pulled off of Gwen's bed this morning into the washer.





4:50 PM - I open the Amazon package, another book on the Presidents inside.  I bought it because I thought it would be a good resource, but I flip through the pages and decide I don't like it.  Make a mental note to send it back.

5:02 PM - I come upstairs and goof off for a bit because it's too early to finish making dinner.  I show the kids the Instagram story video I made, and they laugh and laugh (they love seeing themselves on film).  Wyatt tells me about his plans for making a cave, like the one at the Children's Museum.  He thinks he'll need more wood though.



5:17 PM - I decide to start on dinner.  I'm making ravioli.  The raviolis are frozen, so I pull them out of the freezer and look for spaghetti sauce.  Realize I don't have any.  I make do by pureeing diced tomatoes with spices and parmesan cheese.



5:24 PM - The kids are rowdy and loud, and I have called out "be careful!" several times.  What are they doing?

5:25 PM - I'm a little scared to look around the kitchen corner, but they are just running in circles around the couch.

5:25 PM - I get a text from Derek, saying his bus is broken down.  I'm on my own.



5:33 PM - Clarice is crying at my feet, Clyde is crying "Mommy, I NEED you!" from his room.  Gwen starts crying from somewhere in the house.  Wyatt is still lapping the couch.  I wave the white flag, get the kids in their pajamas with promises of playing PJ Masks.  It's witching hour, after all.

5:38 PM - Clarice says "I love you, Mama" in her baby dialect while I'm getting her dressed.  (Yes, I asked her to say it to me.  So what?  It counts.)  She climbs into my lap, wraps her arms around me, and trys to rock me back and forth (which is her way of telling me she wants ME to rock HER back and forth).

6:01 PM - I start PJ Masks.  The kids all sing along to the theme song (even Clarice).  I finish making dinner, and I let them watch while they eat.



6:17 PM - Derek is home!  Sooner than expected!  I thought he'd be home way after bedtime.  Choruses of "Daddy!" from the kids.

6:31 PM - Derek lets me escape for a bit to write up part of this post.  He cleans the kitchen, does Bible time with the kids, and gets them in bed.

7:07 PM - I put the laptop away and give Clarice a kiss goodnight.  She presses her lips together and pushes her face against my cheek (her kisses).  I get my pajamas on and go upstairs to kiss each of my kiddos goodnight.  They give me sweet smiles and kisses on my cheek, and all three ask the same question as every other night, "What are we doing tomorrow?"

7:20 PM - I talk to Derek while I make some raviolis for myself (Derek opted for leftover soup for dinner).  I fill the dishwasher back up and get ready to start it.

7:27 PM - We watch an episode of Expedition Unknown, one of our current favorite shows.  This one is about the Minoans.  Did the volcano eruption really kill them?  Some geologist says no, but I don't trust their dating methods and still say it was the volcano, one way or the other.

8:24 PM - Derek came home without working out to help me with the kids, so now he heads off to get his workout in.  I sit down to type up the rest of this post, but I tell him not to workout too long, because maybe we can watch another Expedition Unknown if he doesn't get back too late (it is Friday night, after all!).

9:31 PM - Even though it's late when Derek gets back, we decide to sneak in one more Expedition Unknown anyway.  We learn about a lost Mayan city, but the show ends before they can find it (of course)!

10:43 PM - We finally get in bed and read a little before turning out the light.

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There you go, a full day in my life!  If you have any questions about having a "big" family (though really, four isn't that many), now is the time to ask! Other moms of 3+ kids, how do you manage everything?




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