"When we had our children, our ideas changed somewhat. Thenceforward we lived only for them; they made all our happiness and we would never have found it save in them. In fact, nothing any longer cost us anything; the world was no longer a burden to us. As for me, my children were my great compensation, so that I wished to have many in order to bring them up for Heaven" -- Saint Zelie Martin, mother of St. Therese of Lisieux, canonized October 18, 2015 along with her husband St. Louis Martin.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Hello out there!

I'm going to blog again.  I'm going to tell you all about the birth of our eighth child.  I'm going to write about what it's like to bring home a sweet little angel for the holidays, into a big, bustling and very busy household.  I'm going to talk a lot about love and how babies just get absorbed into the family, no matter what number, and how there's always a perfect place for that new member.

We did lose the cord to upload pictures…momentarily (I hope).

But right now, that little bundle is asleep on me, and I need to go re-read that quote I stole about being the peace.  Eight children with my oldest just turning 12 is bursting with love and life… but doesn't always feel like peace.

Until then, Advent blessings!

I need this on my fridge

"Be the Peace. 

Advent can cause interior turmoil as we seek peace amidst the craziness of the secular world. Instead of struggling against the forces of the commercial Christmas, take a deep breath, say a prayer, and breathe out peace.

 See that we are a people set apart, a people who look East, to the star. Peace is not to be found in the stores and the parties and the rush. But we are to be found there. We live there and we bring Christ to those places. It's hard, I know. But stand up straight, square your shoulders, inhale grace, and smile. Now go forth, knowing that God's got this. He's stood in that line. More importantly, He's already paid the price. So, you can be a blessing to every clamoring, chaotic scene. You have Christ within you. You can be the peace."--Mom to Mom, Day to Day

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Martinmas - Welcome Winter!

 I am grateful for the sunshine falling on the last of the fall leaves.  I am thankful for sunny days when my children can dress warmly and go outside to play.  We've had our first snowfall, and our first wintery mix storm systems with wind and grey and wet...those long dark days that tend to make a mother call a realtor and look for homes in Florida.  I have had moments where I've dreaded what the next 6 months will bring to the Northern Midwest we call home.  

But I've also tried to embrace the coming chill.  To create warmth and light when there is none to be found in nature.  And I discovered the tradition of Martinmas.  A week ago last Monday was the feast of St. Martin of Tours.  St. Martin was a Roman soldier who spread the light of Christianity to the dark pagan world of the Roman Empire.  One of his symbols is a ball of fire.  So, over the centuries, his feast day was celebrated by lantern parades.  Fire in the darkness, with song and celebration.

All lit up and ready to march!

On procession

We don't live in medieval Europe, so our procession was small, but we did sing and we did celebrate with hot chocolate after circling our home a few times.

We remembered St. Martin of Tours, giving half of his red cloak to a naked beggar, discovering in a dream that the beggar was Christ.

We didn't mind the cold or the dark.

We had light and warmth and joy of our own to bring...as we welcomed the coming season.
on our mantle

modge podge, tissue paper, more modge podge: that's IT! So easy, so beautiful.  Do this for candlemas if you didn't get to it for Martinmas. You could make these for Christmas or Easter.  I loved this project!!

I have to give credit to Jessica at Shower of Roses for the tutorial...you can see her beautiful feast day celebrations there!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I stole this quote

You can go to Amongst Lovely Things to see the beautiful photos posted with this beautiful quote.  Yes, it's probably hitting me more at just this moment...you know, what with contractions and all.  I'm tucking this one away for encouragement.

"Now a child is the very sign and sacrament of personal freedom. He is a fresh free will added to the wills of the world; he is something that his parents have freely chosen to produce and ... freely agree to protect. They can feel that any amusement he gives (which is often considerable) really comes from him and from them, and from nobody else.

 He has been born without the intervention of any master or lord. He is a creation and a contribution; he is their own creative contribution to creation.
He is also a much more beautiful, wonderful, amusing and astonishing thing than any of the stale stories or ... tunes turned out by the machines ... People who prefer the mechanical pleasures to such a miracle are jaded and enslaved. They are preferring the very dregs of life to the first fountains of life... It is they who are hugging the chains of their old slavery; it is the child who is ready for the new world."

-G.K. Chesterton

PS That "contractions" comment was not some sort of hint.  I get these for a long time before labor.  Or you could say I'm in labor for weeks. Whichever makes you feel happy...not sure which way I prefer to think about it...;)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Prelude to Winter

Yesterday was our first snowfall.  It was a beautiful snowfall which I kept meaning to photograph in my spare time, which is why I never took a picture.:)  I did make hot chocolate for the occasion, though not "St.Nick's Hot Chocolate", which I didn't have the ingredients to make, but is my all-time favorite form of hot chocolate.  (I'll post a recipe for that one of these days...)

So, although I can't show you the falling flakes, I can show you what I woke up to this morning: the sunlight streaming through the remaining fall leaves, and a pretty dusting of white over everything.

Has anyone else noticed that snowfalls bring clear and bright skies in their wake? It is always sunny after a snow day.

 I loved the last of the fall leaves nestled in with the first of the winter's snow.

We received our official "warning" of the approaching winter.  The day grew dark early, we made a run for a pair of boots and some hats and gloves for the few of us who still needed them. And I might just have splurged on a peppermint mocha while I was out...

It's a good thing we had just managed to capture a few of these beauties in beeswax before the snow hit:

I tried to turn this project into a science/nature lesson, having my  little ones trace the leaves with crayons and study them under a magnifying glass.  Kindergarteners can be very taken with magnifying glasses.  Bilbo kept saying "I never knew that!" as he looked at his leaves.  
My artistic and talented sister made hers into a gorgeous swag for her front door.  I could barely manage to string them across my mantle.  Occasionally I'll catch a whiff of the beeswax, which is just lovely!

Is it completely obvious that I'm trying to post sweet things to distract myself from the one very sweet thing that simply will. not. come. early?!! How this little holiday baby isn't making an early arrival is beyond me. I feel like I am going to pop! Bun in the oven? Ha! I've got the Thanksgiving turkey in here!!

But, truth be told, I could stand to wait another day since five of my kids have a dentist appointment tomorrow and it would be really inconvenient to have to reschedule those!  Always good to get things cleared off the plate before a baby comes. On the other hand, I'm sure my Mom and sister would just love to take my kids to those appointments for me!:)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Loved this


I'm going to try to re-read this one, probably every day between now and Christmas.  It occurred to me at some point that I do not have Christmas presents wrapped and ready to go, even though I do have a baby "wrapped" and ready to go!  I'm going to have a newborn as I prepare for the Christmas season...Christmas for 8 children...it usually entails a good deal of thought and, honestly, purchasing.

But this year? I wonder what would happen if I just sort of didn't.  Didn't purchase, anyway.  There could be baking. The kids would love to get in on that! There will be some gifts under the tree.  But, I want to protect myself from the whirlwind of endless sales and deals and, on the home front, the lists of requests.  I think I will think hard about a special gift or two, go with that, and leave it at that.

The corners can be filled in with firelight and candles, song and prayer.  And cookies.

But I will have a new baby to be loving, and I want my Advent to be filled in joyful anticipation of the coming of that other Baby we are called to welcome and love.  I don't want to lose the joy of nativity, my own, and the one that took place 2000 years ago. Those brief and fleeting moments when a newborn is new.  I don't want to miss it. Not my own baby, not that other Baby either.  I think Elizabeth's post is a very important one for me during this moment in my life.

So, I share the link.

Big, Bigger, Biggest

I need a picture of my belly to share on line.

My babies have all been over 8 pounds.  Let's say this baby will be 8.5, a nice average for my kids.  Go to the grocery store's meat section and stack up four two-pound packs of ground beef.  Mentally throw on another half pound.  THAT is IN ME!

(Let's not think about the fact that that has to somehow get OUT, too).

Anyway, just sharing a thought as I sit here, somewhat weighted down, sometimes a bit stranded under the weight of my baby.

It's good, though. It makes me overcome the urge to avoid labor and delivery.  It makes me more eager to meet this baby--the sooner the better, really.  Because there just comes a time where the impulse to delay the work involved in caring for a newborn is overcome by the impulse to be able to BREATHE again!

Monday, November 4, 2013

A little crazy

Ever feel like things are turned upside down?  (haha, cheesy joke)

 The baby is on the way and I've been trying to get the house ready...a much larger task than I might wish for, given the daily wear-and-tear that keeps those extra rearranging bedroom type projects not the easiest to get to.  So far I have rearranged the girls' room, moved Legolas' crib to the big boys' room (because our nursery is freezing in the winter--just too far from the furnace), and set up the new baby's crib, etc, in our room.  I'll get pics up of that cute stuff soon, just for fun:).

This morning I am sharing the final rose of the season which bloomed and then got stunted by the cold. I still thought it was beautiful, so I asked Arwen to take a picture of it and then we floated it in some water when we discovered that some young botanist had picked it! (I hate to blame Bilbo without direct evidence;)).
photo credit: Arwen
A beautiful late-fall rose.  Happy Monday! (Wish me luck on the home-front--more details on that to come!)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Cake before Candy

Gramz' famous Lemon Cake

 October is the month that Arwen and my husband have their birthdays two days apart.  Halloween comes just two weeks later.  This year, as I mentioned in a previous post, we were so lucky to have Gramz fly up to visit for Birthday Week.  Unfortunately, our gorgeous fall sunshine and glowing leaves were put on hold for the single week she was here...and it rained every day. Gramz was actually hailed on while watching Arwen's soccer game.  So much for showing her that the midwest had its beauty.  We pretty much confirmed her preference for the Southwest sun.  Alas, here are some pictures of the several cakes that were baked while she was here:
Convinced that the first cake was overcooked, Gramz made a second, which I was supposed to keep an eye on...and it came out exactly the same as the first one.  Both were delicious!
 To surprise Arwen with a Lord of the Rings themed birthday, I tried my hand at copying other on-line cakes.  I found it much easier to dye coconut green rather than pipe grass frosting all over the hobbit hole.  I'm all about easy!;)
Bilbo's hobbit hole had a green door.  I knew this, I just used chocolate frosting anyway.  The windows overlook the garden, and Aragorn insisted that we add a white picket fence, for accuracy sake. Sadly, I failed to make round windows, so accuracy wasn't my strong suit.  The kids were still happy to eat it.

 And, yes, we needed a "Ring of Power" cake to go with it.  Elvish is both fun to write in and super impressive, considering that no one can read Elvish.  Except that my kids can, and they inform me that this was actually not written on the ring.  There is a different Mordor tongue of Elvish that was actually on the ring.  I'll get a shot of Aragorn's pumpkin to show you the difference....just give me some time to upload the pics. So, forget impressive, here's the ring cake:

ok, here's Aragorn's pumpkin with the ring script on it...more long and scrawly:

Aragorn decided to carve a ring, the center of which fell out, making it a circle rather than a "ring", but I still thought he did an awesome job on the Mordor-tongue  Elvish script.  (I still need to upload pictures of the costumes!) 

And so we come to the candy part.

Rosie Cotton's stash, post-Trick-or-Treat
 Arwen went as Legolas for Trick-or-Treating (is that confusing to the readers?) She was very proud of her hairstyle.  I'll get more pictures up soon...

 And, because this got accidentally uploaded (and I'm having too much fun with these names), here's my Legolas with Arwen-the-black-cat, from this summer:

Still wishing I had a little kitty around the house...boo allergies!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Caught my eye

I knew my days were numbered, but out of sheer curiosity and not wanting to actually get out a calendar and count (yes, I'm that lazy), I glanced at that little lillypie pregnancy ticker on the sidebar of this blog.  Today it says the baby is "ready to launch".  Ready to launch?!!

A man so wrote that ticker.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Note to Self

If you are frantically scouring your home as your husband picks your Mother-in-Law up from the airport.  If time is running short and your heart races every time you look at the clock.  If you are shouting orders to the poor child who decided not to go along for the ride (a million thanks are owed to Gimli, my poor victim!).

Your home will look beautiful.  But you will look like a fright.

I think I stopped sweating 30 minutes after my Mother-in-Law arrived.
Not. Awesome. Planning.

Look what was in our tree yesterday!!

photo credit: Arwen

photo credit: Arwen

And while I'm on the subject of trees...

 I had Arwen snap a couple of the trees changing around our house.  I just love red leaves!

Now, off to work! My Mother-in-Law is visiting and will be here in a matter of hours! I have SO MUCH TO DO!!!! (But this was a fun little break!)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Fluffy Bunnies

 About a year ago we got our first furry friend and named him Carrot.   I discovered a wonderful breeder who raises show quality mini-Holland lop bunnies, and while we do not show our pets, they have the best temperament ever!

Legolas is crazy about BunBun (the big black and white doe) and Bean (our newest addition, in tortoiseshell).  Would you believe that these puff balls do not bite or scratch as they are squeezed and laid on by an overly loving toddler?

I have heard people say that rabbits are a lot of work.  My sister adopted a rabbit from the humane society and I am sure she would agree, but this is the big qualifying difference: her rabbit was an indoor  pet, sort of like a "class pet" is kept in a cage.  My rabbits are exclusively outdoor rabbits (I move them into the garage with a heat lamp during the coldest winter months).

Outdoor rabbits simply need to have food and water and hay, which can be stocked up in their cages for more than one day, making it a chore only every other day or so.  Since they are not indoors, their cages do not need to be as meticulously cleaned, and for the most part, the "slide out" trays that come with most outdoor hutches just need to be dumped in the woods or garden once every so often.  A "deep clean" of the hutch area can be done more sporadically, when you feel up to it, making sure their bedding is nice and fresh and deep.

One of the most fun things for the kids is to be sent out with leftover veggies to feed the bunnies with.  Our neighborhood friends will show up with a carrot in tow to get in on the fun.  Anyway, for those who have kids who would like something soft to cuddle, but who don't want dander or fur in their home, I offer you an option: outdoor, cute and cuddly, fluffy bunnies!  
[disclaimer: not all bunnies have the same disposition. Make sure you find a good breed and a good breeder if possible. That said, my nieces sure tamed that humane society rabbit well! The more a rabbit is handled, the nicer it will be.]

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Oops! (I forgot) The mountains

Just because I feel like I never capture the mountains from our back porch, I thought I'd add this picture. It's not a great shot. but it proves that you can really see the Rockies from our yard (this is just to the north of the previous photo in the post below). Pretty pretty pretty. Would you believe that I often gaze upon the mountains and yearn for lands in the North and imagine the distance between this place and my home land?
I do try to acknowledge and glory in the beauty of God's creation while I am there. But there is just something about "home".
Now you see what I see when I go.  You can judge for yourself.


This might be a silly sort of post, but I don't think it hurts me to go ahead and remind myself what I often try to forget: cold cereal is a big waste of money!  Why? Because it isn't particularly nutritious? Because they tend to be higher in sugar and lower in protein than we aim for in a well-balanced meal to start the day for our families?  Because unless you're buying jumbo boxes at Sam's you will go through several full boxes of cereal in one morning if you have 7 hungry children eating?! Well...yes, but I'm pretty lazy and I could get over those objections if only my children would eat a bowl of, say Cheerios, and not be hungry five minutes later!!!  
Enter Auntie Leila.  Please tell me you have met her on her blog Like Mother, Like Daughter. If you haven't already discovered that she pretty much knows everything there is to know about running a big family (without being superwoman), you can just pop over there and read all she has to say about meal planning, and breakfast in particular.  She's saving me the trouble of writing that post that tells you that your kids need to eat something substantial in the morning.  What I'm here to write is that it's worth it.  

Good Old Fashioned Cream of Wheat
 It's worth it for me to drag myself away from my morning coffee and my ever failing attempts at lingering over some morning prayer or planning or journaling time and just go into that kitchen and get something hot and nourishing brewing.  Eggs are probably the best breakfast food ever.  Pancakes can be made with extra eggs. My brother-in-law makes "protein pancakes" with ten eggs and scoops of protein powder in them! I've added extra eggs, but haven't done powders yet.
Lest you think I'm actually a "good mom", let me tell you that I do let my kids put brown sugar on their oatmeal and Cream of Wheat.  Do you see the line of bowls hidden in the background? There should be seven or eight there, depending on if I plan on having any!
 Why is it worth it? Because once fed, my children will quiet down for a few minutes.  That is how I finish my morning revelry of prayer, planning, e-mailing, and coffee.  Once fed, my children will obey orders to get ready for the day.  We can then try mightily to make daily Mass on time.  If they have cold cereal, they will be hungry by the time we come home.  We might have to stop for bagels on the way home.  We might have pbj's and apples (in other words, lunch) being eaten as I begin our home schooling day around 9am.  If we've had a nice hearty meal, I actually have a chance of getting straight to work with no added mess.  We might eat lunch at a normal hour.  And that  makes me a happy lady. So, cook in the morning, easier rest of the day. 'Nuff said.

This guy was with me making breakfast this morning.  He blinked, but still...too cute!

Back Blogging

So, after months of being home, I thought you deserved a little peek at our view from this summer.  The
little bit of fence you can see is our back porch (well, my Mother-in-Law owns the house where we stay, so it's not really "ours", but it's not the house where she lives either).  Anyway, it's beautiful as you can see.  Didn't I already say I was a brat for whining about going to this beautiful land?

yes, that's four cats and a dog!

I thought I'd prove what I said when I told you I brought home 5 kittens to cheer me up...and then bought a puppy.  Here they are sharing a water bowl. The dog's eating.  I thought it was wonderful socialization for both species.
Now I'm the terror of the farm mice.  Either that or a coyote's dinner.

Super cute...suprisingly scratchy (sigh) I would have kept one...or two.

This was the little one that captured my heart.
Unfortunately, I proved allergic to her as well.  She was the runt of the litter and the only girl.

These little things brought some love into my life as I longed for home.  Amazing that a woman with seven children could still feel the need for furry friends to cuddle.  A friend of mine said it was the pregnancy (mothering) hormones.  I'm pretty sure she was right!

Morning workout

I'm getting big...reeeal big.  Pushing 9 months here, and feeling it.  So this morning I hit the basement laundry room.  I switched the loads around and lugged up a basket of laundry.  I'm feeling the burn.
Then my dear husband informs me that the baby is sleeping in his carseat (we had arrived home 2 minutes ago, and I knew this...I just sort of ran to the laundry and hoped someone else might climb into our big van and lift the baby out and carry him to his crib.  Of course, Mama is the best at moving a sleeping baby from car to crib while not waking him, so I went back to the garage.  I pulled myself into the van, lifted my little bundle of love, and carried him up our incredibly large flight of stairs (ok, it's just a normal staircase, but lend me some creative license here).  I managed to place him in his crib without dropping him.  And I turned, to face the downward climb, huffing and puffing.

Oh yeah. Still feeling it. 
A) I am in awesome shape.  B) Ha!

Overheard this morning

Mom (encouraging and enthusiastic tone of voice): I have a challenge! If you work hard and get a song crossed off at piano lessons today, I'll buy one of those bags of mini-candy bars like you get on Halloween and let you pick one!

"Someone": Just one? Can't we pick two or three? How big are those things anyway?

Ok, another week with minimal progress.
Spoiled, spoiled, spoiled.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Saturday in late September

Sunshine and cool breezes.  Saturday morning sports: golf, football, soccer, football.  There should be another "soccer" in there, but my 7 year old is in gymnastics this year and loving every minute of it.  Our schedule really appreciates the fact that gymnastics is not on Saturday morning!

We have been sick for coming up on two weeks with the nastiest cold/flu that our family has ever experienced.  My husband drove himself to the urgent care at 2am for antibiotics--that bad.

So, homeschooling has been on hiatus.  We have, however, been rediscovering a love for "The Chronicles of Narnia".  My kids are part of a book club at the local library, and they are starting with "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe".  Since I couldn't find our old battered copy of the entire series, which has been read through at least two full times in our children's lives, I pulled out the CD series.  As my children lay limply in fevers, they listened for four hours to the entire second book.  And yes, I was very grateful for the break.

After the club, however, they all wanted copies of the book to read on their own.  We hit Barnes and Nobles and bought three copies of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" and a new set of the Chronicles since I still can't find that old copy!  My kids have also launched into Prince Caspian.  We then ordered the BBC version of the Chronicles of Narnia, which my children have been enjoying, but I cannot whole-heartedly vouch for.  I honestly think I prefer the Disney version of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe".  We found that Amazon sells "Turkish Delight" and ordered that to go with the video.  My kids were thrilled.  Our opinion on Turkish Delight is varied...it might have been described as "Turkish De-fright" by someone who didn't prefer it.

So, while the Mom in me is "aware" of the fact that we've missed an entire week of school, the English Major in me is basking in the joy of my children's appreciation of fine literature.  Our lives are immersed in imagination and creativity, as well as fevers and body aches.  As our health slowly returns and we return to the sunny cool Autumn fields of soccer and football, I appreciate this September for what it has brought.   Maybe just one more small plug for home education?  Time off is never a loss.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Looking back

I didn't want to come. I mean, really didn't want to come.  I am expecting my eighth child and I homeschool all of them.  Summers are my break.  I love home schooling, but I think everyone needs a summer.  I wanted to garden, to hang out in my yard with my sisters and their kids, to eat popsicles, and to completely revamp my home school room for the next year.  The room needs to be repainted (it's been five years and I hang a lot of artwork up, so...the tape and all.  I wanted to reorganize my bookshelves. I wanted to organize curriculum.  But...well, I have this family on the other side of the country that loves us and really wants us to be with them.

Was I justified in my desires? Sure.  But...well, life is only so long, and people--relationships--trump my  illusions of control.  Let's face the facts, a bookshelf can be reorganized in October.  I can order my pristine workbooks and have them all set up by the first day of school.  We can paint when we paint.  But my husband's father is over 80, his mom turns 75 this year.  Realistically, how many more of these summers do I think I will have?

So I came.  We came.

We have gone to daily Mass with my Mother-in-law and to her house for breakfast every day. We have had dinner together every night.  (We come home for naps in the afternoons to the house we sleep in while we're here--not my in-law's house).  My husband has golfed twice a week with his dad.  I hit the pool a bunch of times with the kids, bought more slushies than I can count,  ate ice cream wayyyy more  often than I should have, and we even got in some swimming lessons.  It hasn't been the worst of summers.

I could have done better.

I could have skipped the tantrums and embraced more whole-heartedly the idea of spending my summer with my in-laws.  I could have been more generous and more loving.  God has given me too much, really...and I'm pretty stingy when it comes to giving in return.  Oh sure, I was here...but...I could have done better.  A good lesson in humility.  I did try, and I did stay. I'm pretty sure I could have been a brighter ray of sunshine, if you know what I mean.

In my better moments I embraced my surroundings.  I napped, because I didn't have to make dinner--ever.  I brought home 5 kittens from the farm, just to brighten my days with cute and cuddly friends (who ended up being very scratchy and gave me allergies, even though I am not (or was not??) allergic to cats).  They did go back to the farm, even though I really wanted to keep one.  The scratches actually welted up on my arms...so I figured it probably wasn't going to work long term.

When things got really desperate, I shopped for flip-flops.

I learned that a mom who's used to running a large family household has a very very hard time dialing it back...and just learning...to do...not much.  But I think it was good for me.  I rested a lot, and I prayed. I  have almost forgotten what all of that "stuff" was I wanted to get done this summer.  I cleared my mind a bit...and I made tons of baby name lists!

It's time to go home.  I'm ready.  I'm excited. And a little daunted at what it will take to get this large family household up and running again.  I have a little Goddaughter that I want to see for the first time! It's time to go.  But I'm glad I came.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Lucky #7

I'm blasting through these birth stories. I am determined!

Luckily #7 is a synch to tell:

8pm: brother asks if husband wants to play poker

I say yes, but no way is my husband leaving me this pregnant (I am 4 days overdue). Poker games last late.

8:30pm brothers and brother-in-law + sister (and 2 month old sleeping in a car seat) arrive for a night of fun.  I chat with sister as menfolk play cards.

10pm: I have one good contraction while chatting with sister.  I yawn.  Sensitive and intelligent sister suggests I go to bed and she get her man to leave soon.

10:27pm: big contraction in bed, urgent need to use restroom (use your imagination, I'll spare the details here)
10:30 pm: brothers and all leave.

10:35 pm:  husband comes to bed, I hesitate, but suggest to him that I am in labor and get out of bed.

I panic, start to shake. Loving husband calms me down. I note that I have not had another contraction and doubt whether or not I am in labor.  I decide to return to bed.  BIG contraction.

I panic and tell my husband to call the midwife immediately.  Poor husband cannot locate our phone book. I am having more contractions, running the bath (you know me and tub deliveries), and ...still "stuck in the bathroom", as it were.

I hear thrashing downstairs. I go to rescue my distracted husband by showing him where I had secreted the phonebook away to (the kitchen desk, near the phone).

11 pm we convince the midwife to come.
11:05 pm Husband calls my Mom to give her a heads up in case of emergency.
11:06 pm contraction on stairs as I return to our bedroom. I suggest I go to the hospital for an epidural. I am not kidding. I do NOT want to do this.

Return to bathroom.  Attempt the hot bath.  Big contraction. The water isn't helpful. I am miserable (not in pain, but full of self-doubt and fear of the impending labor).

Blessed husband suggest I just lay down on our bed (already!) and let him push on my back (I always get back labor).

11:20 on bed, water breaks.  11:20.30: I feel the head.
11:20.31: someone shouts "Call 911! Call 911!"

Dearest, beloved, and intelligent husband calmly declares he will "call the midwife".  (Puts a new spin on that BBC series, doesn't it).

I hear words like "Do you see the head?"; and "I see the head".  "Catch the baby and hand him to his mom".  "The baby needs to be warm and dry; I repeat, warm and dry".

At some point all of that became background noise.  Again, I noticed the quiet glow of the room in the middle of yet another stormy night.  Once it occurred to me that the life of my child was going to depend on myself and my husband, I became very very calm.  I also knew I needed to help my husband out (he's not the type, guys! Not the type for this!). I looked at him (in a very unlike-myself-during-moments-of-delivery way) and said "I'm fine".  And I was.  He looked back at me blankly for one moment, and then we both were brought back by the voice of the midwife on speakerphone.

The moment my 9 pound 1 ounce baby boy was delivered, I knew he was fine. He was screaming lustily. He was bright red.  I know what lethargic babies with cords wrapped around their necks look like.  This boy scored 10's on his Apgar's!

Time: 11:27pm

I strongly reassured my husband of my baby's health.  I am not sure why my husband didn't pass out at this point.  Instead he put tons of blankets around me and the baby (he took the "warm and dry" directive seriously).  We waited in the quiet warmth of our bedroom, delighting in our seventh child, praising God for the miracle we had just shared in, just the two of us.  I fell in love with my husband that night in a new and powerful way.  For days, my husbands hands held a magical power over me. I would look at them and marvel at what they had done: deliver our child!

The midwife arrived in time to deliver the placenta.  She checked me and the baby, tucked us in, and by 2am said goodnight, with a promise to come back in the morning.

The great fun was the children coming in the next morning to find a new baby snuggled in next to me.

At risk of making this post longer than necessary, I will now state what is admittedly giving me a bit of trouble this pregnancy.  My beloved does not wish to repeat the above performance, and I will admit that while it was a blessed gift, it doesn't necessarily seem prudent to choose an unattended delivery.
My husband suggested it be best to return to a hospital for the birth of #8.  Please stay tuned...

Birth #6

I took a good break, but I'm determined to write about my last two deliveries before baby #8 requires one of his/her own.

After my traumatic return to hospital birthing, following the two home births, I threw up my hands once more and returned home for the birth of my sixth.  Once again, I figured it couldn't be worse than the hospital, and I knew for a fact certain negatives would be ruled out.  One huge negative that I did not mention in the post about baby #5 was that after he was safely delivered, they took him from me (as is usual) to place under the warming lights and put plastic i.d. tags on and give shots to [Vitamin K and the eye goop for protection from STD's] (though I declined them).  The nurses left my screaming and naked baby under the lights as they chatted nurse-gossip.  I was too shy to demand my baby be brought to me.  It is common sense that a baby, snuggled into his mother and nursing, will be right warm and toasty...and not naked, screaming and alone during his most precious first moments from the womb.

Anyone who has experienced the peaceful calm of a baby delivered into a dark bathroom, in a warm bath of water will be as horrified as I was.

At 2 am I awoke with contractions.  It is important to note that until this sixth baby, I had never allowed myself to go into labor naturally.  It was a long path of trust, mine.

By 6:30 am my Mom came to pick up my waking (and very excited) children and whisk them off to early Mass and a day of spoiling.  My midwife had arrived moments earlier.  I rested in my bed until about 8:30, at which point I was at 9cm!  My water had not broken, and my labor was very very slow.  I had contractions ten minutes apart! I was able to rest, walk to the bathtub, return to bed, and even eat a yogurt.  But that little baby didn't seem to want to come!

It was a stormy night, and the day was dark and rainy. It was so warm and peaceful in the glow of my bedroom and bath.

I got impatient, and less comfortable.  At 12:30 I got in and out of the bath one last time, lay down in my bed...and my water broke.  My plump and dark haired daughter was born two contractions later.

After soaking in her beauty and praising God for her, I watched my midwife swaddle her in new clothes, diaper, and blanket right on my bed. I nursed her for a good long time as my midwife checked me out and whisked away plastic bedding.  When she fell asleep, I handed her to my husband and took a shower and put on new pajamas.  The midwife reminded us to eat.

We made the exciting phone calls and that evening, after a dinner alone, the children returned to meet their new sister.  One by one they came in, sighed, ahhed, and held their little baby.

I felt that I was finally given the gift of a labor (not induced) and delivery that was pretty much exactly how I wanted it.  [For the sake of full disclosure, I will not hold back the moment in which I said "I can't do this"...as the baby came out.  Right before then the midwife had told my husband to hold my leg in place. I looked at my beloved and said "do not touch my leg!"...poor man looked haplessly at my midwife.  She told me I would have to keep it back (or whatever she said).  Anyway, the baby was moments from arrival, so I don't count that as too big of a detraction from the above story.  I just would feel guilty if I didn't admit that not every single moment of labor was fun and games.:)]

Yea! 6 down, 1 to go! (would it be too much to ask you to "bear" with me?! haha! Rapier wit, I tell you. Rapier.)

Monday, June 17, 2013



My links never work. But if you can track down this article, I liked it. It's not long or exhaustive, but it makes a simple point that holds true in my life. If you have the time or interest...you could check it out.

Father's Day, a day late

I feel compelled to write despite the circumstances, so forgive a pretty poorly composed post.  I have to speak to the importance of fathers.  You can't parent without them! Of course, some women do. My husband's grandma was widowed with an eleven year old, a thirteen year old, and a sixteen year old.  She raised them all and did so beautifully.  But even at that, the legacy that man had laid before his too-early death had paved the way for obedient children whose hearts were already docile to the parenting of their mother. He had been a strong disciplinarian, but my mother-in-law also still treasures the bag of marbles her dad would get out on the floor and play with them. 

My sister had to, also, for 6 years. And her girls are also wonderful. But my sister lived across the street from my father and three grown brothers, all loving and attentive uncles, who had no qualms about supporting my sister in her authority and disciplinary role.  Neither did they have qualms with cuddling, telling stories, or taking her girls on special outings.  There was a special support group there that held a place in the lives of those girls until a new father was given to them in God's providence.

I am not going to tell you about my husband because no one wants to hear me brag about him. Everyone thinks their husband is the best father, which is as it should be, because it is only that man who is given as the father to his particular children.  But I am going to state a little list of things that I think make a great father. First, he has to be 100% in love with the mother of his children.  Following this, he must support her 100% as regards his children. He must make them respect and obey her. Second, he has to be a good disciplinarian. The Dad is the ultimate authority in the home, and his word is law.  Along these lines, the mother must obey (as she has vowed) perfectly, and the children will soon understand that it is futile to whine or whimper once the father has spoken.  There is room for mom to "talk with Dad" about things...a child's final hope...but it is still the father whose decision stands.  I believe discipline must be extremely strong, not saying it must be corporal.  It must be consistent and have 100% follow through, or as close to that as possible.  Obedience is one of the most important virtues for a child to learn (along with honesty), and mothers are often just too soft, or too tired, to follow through. Dad's are the pinch hitters. (Pitch hitters? What is the phrase?) It's up to them. I blame the fathers if the kids are out of control. Mothers are supposed to be soft. Not saying we get a pass on discipline, but it's different. A child must obey, but of course, mercy is greater than justice, and a father shows his greatness in his magnanimity.  A child who learns that his father can be merciful is likely to show mercy himself.  In fact, a child should be held to display of mercy (especially toward younger siblings) and be specifically reminded of the times he was shown mercy.  But a child should know he has received mercy, while obediently acknowledging that strict justice was not delivered.  And this is different than not following through on a threat.  It is something that seems to happen more if a child understands and acknowledges his mistake and, perhaps, does not need to lose dessert as well.

I'm sure that's too much in one paragraph, but I want to drop this thought bomb because if I don't, the thoughts will not be recorded...for what they're worth.

So, first his wife; second, discipline. My final point should possibly not have been saved for last, but it's the love. A father has to be able to demonstrate his love in many ways, but certainly physically and certainly verbally.  A dad needs to be able to get on the floor and act like whatever animal his child requests. He needs to give a goodnight kiss.  He needs to comfort injuries, physical and emotional.  He needs to give every spare moment of his free time to his children (even if that's always too limited)...because they are just that important to him.

That's it. That's what makes a great dad.  (Well, spiritual life is the unstated "given"...and a child needs to see his father who is man enough to get on his knees before the Almighty, and His Mother...but in a nutshell, that's what I think.)  

And that's why I love fathers and Father's Day! 

Monday, May 27, 2013

A must read

Check out my sidebar for the link to Anima Christi: Soul of Christ by Mother Mary Francis.

I'm not finished yet, but this is a spiritual powerhouse.  I love Mother Mary Francis (now deceased, formerly the head of an order of Poor Clares in New Mexico).  This would be a perfect Lenten read, but don't wait.  Buy it and make it your summer spiritual read.  I find myself gasping with the power of her insights, and laughing by turns.  I think I'm going to do a book club on this book in the fall if I can manage the time.  It's just that good.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Back to Births: Number 5

It's hanging over my head, so I'm going to launch into my fifth birth story, whether or not I'm feeling a little winded.  Then you, my readers, can read these birth stories at your leisure. Now that I've fallen behind, you'll have to scroll to find them, but hopefully they'll all be here at some point.

After my less-than-perfect (second) home birth experience, I thought I should head back to the hospital.  
I just thought that my midwife here wasn't what my first one had been, and also, I was closing in on 30.
Somehow it seemed that once I was in my 30's (even if only for three months) I should be in a "safer" environment.

Keeping in mind that I still had never not induced, once again I pushed to induce early.  I seriously wish I had not been so traumatized by my 9 pound first baby and had the courage to trust and wait for natural labor. But I didn't. And this baby, induced a week early, was a 8 pound 12 ounce boy...so, I still felt justified.

I had spoken with my doctor about having fast labors and big babies and she was more than happy to schedule an induction.  I told her that pitocin did not work on me or my sister (did I say this in birth story #2? I was on pit for two hours, my sister was on all day, neither of us went into labor until they broke our water).  I told her I wanted them to break my water. She was fine with that. I also mentioned that I had had two water births and that I thought it helped. She said there was a jacuzzi tub at the hospital.  I was happy.

The morning of induction my husband and I arrived, ready for a baby. The nurse said she was going to start the pitocin.  Except we weren't planning on that kind of induction. We said the doctor agreed to breaking my water. She called the doctor (who wasn't there yet) and she got permission to break my water. I went into the halls to walk. The nurse came out a few minutes later (fifteen) and said that if I wasn't in active labor in a half an hour (from induction, so, in fifteen minutes) they'd be starting pitocin. There are many reasons why that's ridiculous, but I agreed.  30 minutes after induction I was on my side, with heavy back labor, my husband dutifully counter-pressuring my back with each contraction. I was at 7cm dilation, and felt like I was "getting there".  The nurse checked my progress and announced that the baby was in anterior position.

I had never had a baby in anterior position before, so I asked if this was ok.  She said yes, but it could cause labor to be much slower and more painful.  Thankyouforthat. Honestly, at 7 cm dilation, in active labor, those kinds of helpful tips aren't so helpful.  I asked what might help. She suggested I change positions. I sat on a birthing ball. I put my head lower than my rump. I was in pretty serious labor and wondering how I could get my baby to flip (which was unnecessary, and never happened).  I asked if I could get into the jacuzzi tub.  She said "I could see if I can get an order for that...usually it's not allowed if your membranes are ruptured...and we need the fetal monitor, so you'd have to come out to get readings..." (I would dearly love to know just how many times those tubs have been used, ever!)  I said to skip it.

Finally, I sat up one last time and a nerve in my back tripped. A "zing" of pain surged in my spine, and remained. I asked for IV drugs. I had never used them before and thought I might get through by just "taking the edge off".  The drugs stopped my labor.

An hour later the drugs wore off, my back pain was still there, and I headed into transition labor (these are the contractions that get that baby out!)  I was struggling to manage the contractions since the drugs left me woozy.  I asked the doctor to check me and I was at a 7 and a half.  One half centimeter in an hour, but that was because of the drugs slowing progress down.  At the time, I didn't think of that. Apparently neither did my doctor.  She said I might need pitocin to get my contractions to be strong enough to deliver the baby.

I knew one thing: I was "ok" now, but I could not handle transition strength contractions plus pitocin.  I
panicked and tried to figure out if I should get an epidural to handle the extra pain that pitocin would bring.  The anesthesiologist was called in.  The nurse checked me: I was at a NINE! (For those less schooled in labor, you push at 10 cm.)  Instead of saying "girl, you are so there! This baby is coming, give it one more contraction!" I was looked at in the eyes and very seriously and intensely told "This is the absolute last minute if you want an epidural!"  I got one. The pain was instantly gone. And my blood pressure dropped. Drastically.  My less-than-collected nurse had a distinct note of "concern" in her voice as she read my blood pressure numbers to the anesthesiologist.  They began giving me fluids. I felt sick, I felt faint, the numbers kept dropping.

At this point I looked at my husband, seated next to me with his head in his hands and through his fingers he raised his eyes to me and mouthed "I love you".  He had done this once before in an extremely scary plane flight into Denver, where the turbulance was tossing our plane to and fro and children were crying and I was praying desperately that we'd land safely.  In other words, I thought that death was a distinct possibility.  I thought "I'm going to see Jesus" and tried to collect myself to make an act of contrition.  How bad is this?

Well, they stabilized me and my son was born alive and well in about a minute.  That birth experience wasn't really what I had hoped it would be.  Number six was back at home.  Stay tuned.

Nearing the end

The school year is drawing to a close at my house.  I often think we could use a few more weeks to fully do justice to our year's curriculum, but more often than not, I have to simply accept that it is over.   My children are a little like wild horses when the long midwest winter comes to an end (well after April has passed).  It seems cruel to keep them indoors when we've come through six months of keeping constructive inside during inclement weather.  Whenever the sun is out, and usually this is in our final quarter of the school year, I go into "streamlined mode" of homeschooling.  What I require of my children is simply a set number of pages from each workbook, and they're done for the day.  I do science with them as a group, but besides that, I let it go.  Since I'm not doing elaborate arts and crafts or writing projects, they can usually get the workbooks done in between 30 minutes and 2 hours, depending on their grade level.  The positive side to this method, is that for the final month of school, we burn through those workbooks, which otherwise might have gone half completed.  Once they notice they're "almost done" with a workbook, I challenge them to push hard and finish it off so they can be done for the year.  As the workbooks dwindle in number, their excitement for the summer grows.  I ordered new swimsuits a couple of weeks back, because I knew that we'd need them soon and I need a whole bunch of sizes, so I didn't want to wait too long.   That was enough for my kids: they demanded we get them goggles so they'd be ready for swimming.  My oldest informed me of the opening day of the local pool.

Obviously, I love homeschooling.  I just get a thrill out of educating my children.  It's definitely one of the most edifying aspects of my parenting.  As a mom, there's not just a ton of daily work that I get to feel satisfaction in accomplishing (think dinner or laundry) because it needs to be re-done daily.  Of course we'll revisit the water cycle or the Civil War again every so many years, but there is a real amount of learning accomplished each year.  That said, even I start looking forward to the new routine, and the break, of summer.  The hours of schooling can be turned toward other projects, like gardening. I can go for a walk to the park with the kids at 10 a.m. and not feel like I'm getting a late start on our day's work.

Since I leave for my in-laws in the southwest every summer, some of the projects I'd love to do (like gardening) can't happen while we're away from home.  Still, I'm outside in the sunshine a whole lot more, and that's just healthy and restorative.  We all need to recover and renew.  We need to clear our minds and strengthen our bodies...that have grown a little pale over the long winter.  I love the rhythm of the school year and summer break.  I'm glad that as a mother I don't have to lose that by working a job year round, with only weeks of vacation time each year.   It's a blessing, and one of the perks that come with being a stay-at-home mom.  This isn't to say that working men and women don't have their advantages.  But I figure it doesn't hurt to acknowledge one of the benefits I receive from my vocation as a home educating mom.:)

Gretchen Knuffke: Big families..what we wish you knew.

Gretchen Knuffke: Big families..what we wish you knew.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Singing with three year olds

My new 3-year-old:
"xyz, klm, qrs (random letters)...I won't sing with you ever again".  (Her version of the alphabet song) Little sweetie.              


This morning we were singing Old Mac Donald together. I began and let her fill in the animals. First, she chose "pig" (with an "oink oink here and and oink oink there"). Second verse:
me: "and on that farm there was a---"
her: "butterfly!"
me: (stunned pause) "ei-ei-o" ... "with a flutter flutter here and a flutter flutter there".

you just never know.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

so how come...?

I've got a question.  I'm pregnant.  So is my sister (yea!!!).  So.....why do some women not get sick?  And why do some women not gain weight?

I get it if we all have to suffer these things.  But it's REALLY hard when a bunch of your very own sisters don't.  I'm trying to grow in humility, but mostly I'm feeling very sorry for myself.  Except for the fact that I have children. Quite a good number of children. And they are more than worth it.  And there's always Granny Yoga classes for later.  ...that and reconstructive surgery.
You think I'm kidding you.
I am. hahahaha
I crack myself up.

love this

My children have the best reactions to the news that someone is having a baby. It gets me every time.

me: "Aunt ---- is having a new baby!"

daughter #2: "Is it a boy or a girl?!"

Without fail someone asks this.  At which point I remind them that we don't know yet. But it's all just so exciting!!! We love babies!!!!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Spring has broken!

I'm taking a break from my posts on baby stories. Quite honestly, I'm worn out!

The daffodils are in bloom, slightly past their prime now.  The tulips are ready to burst. I have some hyacinth that look so frilly against the forest that borders our yard. I plan on lining our forest with bulbs this fall, so that next spring I'll have even more in bloom.  The first flowers of Spring are such a celebration after a long Northern Midwest winter.  I have lots of plans for my yard, but since the plan is that we will again be headed Southwest for the summer to visit my in-laws, we'll see what I get done.

We are finishing up track season, with indoor soccer over as of last Saturday.  Phew! With four children in competitive sports this year, my husband and I are re-assessing our family's activity quota.  Given that my kids are sports fiends, I am not sure how we'll find the balance.  Funny thing is, I'm making all sorts of plans for this summer.  I want to do swimming as usual, but also try to do horseback riding since it's just the right area of the country, and because I have one little boy who really wants to gallop. This little boy doesn't usually want (or ask for) much.  He's my easy one (#3), and I'd love to make him happy on this little wish.  Finally, I am determined to find a piano teacher in my parents-in-law's hometown.  I am absolutely certain that three months off would be devastating to our arduous efforts over the past 9 months.  Our three week Christmas break (plus two weeks during the floor renovation) almost killed piano in our home.  We're finally making progress again.  My children think I'm ruining their summer. Wait till they hear my math plans!  I fall short of everything I aim for, so I'm sure my children will have a delightfully free and easy summer. Still, a mom has to try.

Along these lines (of game-planning for the summer), I have decided to find an ob-gyn to do my monthly check-ups while I'm there.  I'm not sure I feel secure being out of a doctor's care for that long otherwise. Not with this being my eighth, and let's face facts, I'm not 22 anymore.  I hope I can swing that. We'll see.  I'll have to have my doctor's permission to go from this end anyway.  They're usually fine with my flying. I just have to see about the time in between visits.

Well, that's my update for tonight. Random thoughts, yes. But a nice break from difficult labor stories!

Little suggestion:

Don't try to read all of these birth stories at once! There are just too many babies in this family!:)

Number 4

Everyone has that "number". You know, the "one" that made the difference.  Sometimes it is the first that changes your life radically and the rest just follow.  I think I most often hear it's #3.  Well, as you now know, my #3 was my "validation delivery", and that little baby was the best sleeper, best nurser, and of the happiest disposition.  I was sailing high with my darling daughter and two little bear cub boys to love.  For me, it was #4.
We had gone through a ton of family upheaval.  Well, we had moved cross-country twice by the time my third child was 10 months old.  When he turned a year, I was thrilled to discover I was pregnant again.  Then the sickness kicked in. I had been sick before, but this was a new level. My nausea was debilitating.  I tried all of the homeopathic remedies and was left laying on the couch meditating on the sweet release that death was to those who suffer in this world. Yes, I'm a bit melodramatic at times.
Further, I didn't know any midwives in the area. I began to track some down.  The midwife I had used with my third was so highly recommended and so "perfect" in my estimation that it was hard to be happy with someone else.  We did find a very competent, certified midwife by the time I was about 5 months pregnant.  At this point I had already begun my prenatal care with a AMA ob-gyn. I hesitated about how I wanted to birth this child.  I decided to go for that perfect delivery again.  But as with most things in this world, we rarely get repeats.
My midwife wasn't as excited about inducing labor early as my previous midwife had been.  I was still under the misconception that if I did not induce early, I'd have an over 9 pound baby, tear, suffer violence on all levels, and be more traumatized than ever.  Not knowing this hidden fear, my midwife made the BIG mistake of guestimating that my baby was around 10 pounds as I pleaded for an induction.  When she saw my tears, she started hedging on her position.  I didn't get the induction before my due date, but at 3 days overdue she was willing to check me. The following day she broke my water and, as usual for me by now, the baby was born two hours later: my second girl, only almost a full pound lighter at 8 lbs3oz.
The problem with this delivery began when the bathtub slowly drained and left me with diminishing water.  The water was also much less hot than I remembered with my first bathtub delivery.  I sort of felt like I was just sitting uncomfortably in cool water...in a lot of pain. Then, my placenta detached slightly on the slower side, resulting in a minimal increased amount of bleeding.  Whether it was that, or just childbirth, I felt really exhausted after the baby was born...for a few days.  When my three older children came climbing up on the bed to see the baby,` it was really too much for me.  And then I received a lot of "opinions" about the name I had chosen.  And indeed, I ended up changing the name before the midwife filled out the paperwork.  It took me probably three years to come to peace with that.
My beautiful girl also was born with a family trait that comes from my husband's side of the family: she had almost no bridge to her nose.  She has a darling nose now, but pediatricians have noticed this in my children and the scary thing is that...they look a little down syndrome.  I clearly remember holding my breath as my pediatrician examined my baby, and I had a sense of doubt when he said "you have a healthy little baby here." I waited a moment to see if he was going to add anything to that.  I sort of knew deep down that she was fine, but a mother worries.  Looking back, I think this played a role in my psychological state postpartum; trying to convince myself that my baby was ok.

Aside from that concern, my little girl was far more petite than her siblings had been, and I worried that she was thriving.  At one year old, she had an allergic reaction (to pineapple, we think) and she had full body hives.  I had never had an allergic reaction in the family before, so I was worried. My baby was fussy and needed to be held until she was about Three. Luckily her little brother was a laid back dude, who weighed the same amount as she did by the time he was three months old (20 pounds! Actually, his sister was about 22 at the time, but still).  I called them my "twins", even though they were 20 months apart.
Six years later this child is now moving into the "upper half" of our family and she insists that she is one of the "big kids".  The truth is, she's a middle child.  She is shy and sweet, but also incredibly strong-willed.  She makes very deep friendships, and just about anyone she meets becomes an instant friend.  She loves playing on swing sets, making mud pies, gardening and school.  She is competitive and very tough--with her two big brothers to make sure of that!  She is a "little mother" to her younger brothers and sisters.  She is a huge help to me.
As a mother, I have learned so much about trust, about unconditional love, about mothering through the fears and the unknowns.  You learn to make peace with imperfect moments in the past.  You learn to love a child at the same time as you learn how that child needs to be loved.  My heart expanded, and my fourth child, my most difficult in many ways, became one of the greatest blessings to myself and our entire family.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Renewal...Birth #3

Shortly after I had my second baby, I met up with some old college friends in the area who had just had their firsts.  Marrying so quickly after graduating, and graduating a semester early, had placed me well ahead of the curve of my friends in childbearing, even the ones who would follow a similar path to mine.  I finally had a mom's group in which I wasn't the youngest mother by a decade! It was a blessing.
An added bonus was that these moms somehow managed to be savvy and hip, well-read on new trends in parenting.  They challenged me in areas of child discipline and vaccinations and education where I had followed the status quo.  They also were hot on the trail of a new trend towards home birthing.  England (maybe Europe in general?) obstetrics is ahead of the AMA on this, but if you do some research, the assumption that hospital births are more safe is something that can be legitimately contested.  I had been so disappointed in my first two "tries" at natural delivery that I was willing to give anything a shot.  I figured the worst case scenario was that I'd be rushed to the hospital if a complication arose, and I had been so disenchanted by my hospital experiences, that I figured even that would be no worse than anything I'd already gone through.
After sharing a room (and bathroom, ugh!) with another mom in a crowded hospital, and after having endured the sleeping (and heavy breathing) father of that woman in the armchair next to the bathroom as he spent the night (illegally) and whom I startled awake as I made my way in slippers and robe to that shared bathroom, the idea of being tucked into my own sweet bed in my own sweet home sounded like heaven.  "My dad cooked up ham and eggs and I was showered and in my bed..." spoke the girl who had delivered her second in her bathtub (guess who this friend was? The one who had had the c-section in the birth story before this one!)...it sounded so perfect.
Some day I'll go into the details of how medically equipped midwives are and all of the cool things that come in a "birth box", but in all of the, now four, home births I have had, I have never once lost an item of linen to gory destruction.  I have never had a mess to clean.  I mention that simply because it's one of the questions that comes up more often than you'd imagine.
On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception I went to 8am Mass with my family, came home and had eggs and fruit with my Mother-in-law who had flown out to help after the birth and to watch my first two while I delivered upstairs.
The midwife arrived around noon. My water was broke. This time, instead of panic, there was a very. hot. bathtub, filled and ready for me.  That hot water took my transition-strength muscle contractions and relaxed them. I floated like a wet noodle, breathing and thinking: "This is the Bradley Method!"  My husband soaked my forehead in an ice cold washcloth and poured water over my belly.  The midwife popped in ever so often to listen to the baby's heartbeat.  About the third time she came in, she said I could push. I was shocked!
And my third baby was born.  I was wrapped in a big towel and robe, tucked into bed and I nursed the baby until he slept. Then I showered, the midwife and her assistant whisked the old sheets and plastic sheeting off of my bed (that hadn't been used) and the clean fresh sheets were waiting for me when I returned to bed.  I snuggled down next to my baby...and rested.
The days that followed were blissful. I sent my husband down with orders for food and drink. I called friends and family from my bed and raved about my pain-free birth.  And of course, we delighted as a family in our newest addition: another boy!
This time, instead of terrifying the younger women in my life, I remember telling my sister (who was probably 15 at the time): "You can totally do this!"
I was renewed.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Second attempt...Birth #2

Despite my disenchantment with my first delivery, I was blessed with a healthy recovery and a beautiful baby.  By the time my fertility returned I was hoping that my first child would have siblings, and soon.  In God's great generosity, my prayers were answered: my first two would be 20 months apart.  This time around we found out what we were having: a boy!  We had a name that we had always wanted for a boy.  We had to move out of our one bedroom apartment into a two bedroom town house, which was an exciting "step up" for us as a married couple.  We celebrated our second anniversary and 6 months later, I was having a very honest conversation with my ob-gyn.  I explained that I had torn badly with my first. I explained that she was over 9 pounds, and that I'd dearly love to avoid a repeat experience.  The doctor confirmed and expanded my fears.  She explained that babies did tend to get bigger with subsequent pregnancies and that boys tended to be bigger than girls.  She said that we could set an induction early due to "macro-cephalia" (don't hold me to that medical term, but it meant "big head").  I further explained that the water breaking sent me into transition immediately (I failed to mention that I dilate a ton very early, which explains that to some degree.)  So, I was told that we could do a better job of simulating normal and more gradual labor if I was put on pitocin and given incrementally increasing doses.  It sounded like a good plan to me.
The date was set, and could you believe that once again I was sent home?! The hospital had made a scheduling error.  My emotions threatened to repeat an unpleasant past.  This time, however, we were able to return at 10am, so I avoided tears, if not a healthy critique of the medical establishment on the way home.
At 10 am I was given my first dose of pitocin.  I waited and the pitocin was increased.  By noon I was getting hungry, and there were no contractions.  My doctor came in and I queried as to whether or not it wouldn't help to break my water...given that nothing was happening at all.  The doctor told me that a woman had just been on pitocin for 32 hours (!!) and was now going in for a c-section because it went on too long. He suggested that breaking my water was a great option.  Great option, minus the fact that I hoped to go naturally and breaking my water throws me into immediate transition.  So, the water was broken, and I felt one contraction about 10 seconds later. Transition strength, super painful contraction. My thoughts? "Oh heck no!" I was not about to repeat the trauma of my first birth. I called for an epidural, got one, and my son was born in two hours.  Actually, he was ready to be birthed before then, but I had to wait for twenty minutes (not that I felt anything) since the doctor was tied up in that aforementioned c-section.
In a crazy twist of fate, I am friends with that lady who had the c-section. Our children are 20 minutes apart in age.  She got the shaft (treatment wise) too, since the doctor had promised that he would be the one to carefully stitch her up with a specialty stitch.  Since he dashed off to catch my baby, she had someone else finish her surgery.

My Mom was there to help me with my daughter while I had this birth.  She arrived to see me, four hours after delivery, attempt to stand for the first time (after having been catheterized, which luckily held no further complications for me) and witnessed my right leg buckle under me since the pitocin had not worn off yet.  Of course, it did wear off, but it frightened my mother to death.  She thought I'd never walk again after that needle in my spine.  And, quibble as you may about my mother's grasp on medical reality, it threw me to hear her so upset about my birthing decisions. She also suggested that waiting to push with my baby in the birth canal might have resulted in damage to my child.  Once again, super huge blow to my fun alternative to the trauma of my first natural birth.

Can you tell we're on our path to birth story #3? It's ok. That's the one where God swoops in and shows me that births can be natural and beautiful.  That's the one where my faith in myself as a woman is restored.  But that's next time!