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...)


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!

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?

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.




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)!




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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