Thursday, December 22, 2011

Oops & DPP 12/22/2011


I fell off the December Photo Project bandwagon. 11 days with no pictures. Hubby's legs have been off and on, and there was some drama with whether or not he would be able to get the second injection he needs (praise to God, he gets it tomorrow!). That and daily life with 4 under 7 made posting a bit more of an effort than I anticipated!

But, here is today's photo. I had been up all night last night with the toddler and then today she refused a nap and I had to deal with nap fighting during making supper while Kelton was at class. So when he got home he helped clean up the house. And when the baby got fussy he didn't ask me to take him or anything. He told me to sit down and take a break...and grabbed the Ergo so he could tend to Zane AND keep cleaning. There's something about a man who cleans. But a man who is wearing his baby AND cleaning? Be still, my beating heart. <3


Sunday, December 11, 2011

DPP 12/10/2011: Mama Beauty





I had wanted to do professional maternity pictures with each of my pregnancies, but this was the first time I'd been able to. I am quite happy with how they turned out.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

DPP 12/9/2011: Birthday

Joey, showing her collection of "learn to read" books for her Tag, Jr.

We have a birthday or holiday at least every 2 weeks from October 12 to January 19. (And people wonder why we homeschool in the summer and take that time off instead!) Today was Miss Joey's birthday. She turned four. My silly, crazy, sweet, loving baby is now a big girl. She's so full of life. And witty. Oh, she has us in stitches all the time. Today isn't just Joey's birthday. It was my Ga-Ga's (my mom's mom) birthday as well. Joey was born in Ga-Ga's house, on her birthday. And she reminds me of her in so many ways.

We didn't have a big birthday party. We'll do that in a month or two when the holiday craziness slows down. But we did have my mom and her husband, my mother in law, and one of my brothers in law over. We let her open gifts, had pizza, and cupcakes. She loved it. Simple. Low key. Surrounded by those that love her most (except my dad, but that's because he has to be in Texas right now). It was a good day for a birthday.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

DPP 12/7/2011: Homemaking.

Fresh made bread. Crocheting Lucy's blanket for her Christmas present. Simple pleasures of home on a cold, snowy December night.



Tuesday, December 6, 2011

DPP 12/6/2011: After bedtime


A quiet moment snuggling after the big girls were in bed and I was relaxing before heading there myself. Please excuse the slightly annoyed expression and messy hair; I'd been dealing with a horrible migraine the entire day.

DPP 12/5/2011: Catching up...






I completely missed last night's posting! Oops. :) That whole four kids under six thing kind of gets in the way of being a consistent blogger sometimes.

This weekend we saw our first real snowfall of the year. Hubby and the big girls had an AMAZING time getting to play in the snow. Including building the first snowman of the year. We're looking forward to much more winter fun in the next few months.

The fact that hubby was out playing with the kids? An amazing blessing. He really hasn't been able to do that in about a year and a half. Last week he had an injection of lidocaine and steroids injected into the cyst on his spinal cord. His pain went from being uncontrollable even with extremely strong medications to being a 4-6 on the traditional pain scale. Four with his pain medication (which has been stepped down in the start of weaning him off of them), and six without. I seriously feel like I've been given my husband back.

He goes in for a second injection before Christmas and the radiologist thinks at that point he can be virtually pain free without pain medication! Praise God! This is the blessing, the miracle that we've been waiting for.


Monday, December 5, 2011

DPP 12/4/2011: Introducing Zane





I know I'm posting these consistently a day late...but if I haven't been to sleep I don't count it as a new day just because it's after midnight. (See: blog name)

Today I took baby's first photo shoot. I confess: I hate doing newborn pictures. Even in a studio, where I didn't have to worry about lighting (it was dreary today so this was hard since I have no reflectors or flash equipment at all), I hated it. Newborns are delicious and wonderful and very photogenic, don't get me wrong. BUT, it's all posed pictures. And I prefer candids. Not easy with someone who doesn't really move. Add in that it took until he was 3 weeks to get to do them and that upped the difficulty. He was so squirmy and isn't AS floppy anymore.

But, even with those obstacles, and the fact that I am nowhere NEAR experienced, I am pretty happy with them.











Sunday, December 4, 2011

DPP Day 3 (12/3/11)

Playing catch up as we had the toddler and baby trading off wakings last night. We decided to let Z-man try out the beanbag we got for his newborn photos.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

DPP Day 2

Ah, peaceful baby slumber. He's been on a super fussy growth spurt so I wanted to capture the rare nap.


Friday, December 2, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Okay, not really. Because our (almost!) 4 year old has an early.December birthday, our celebrating begins after HER celebration. But we have begun the Christmas shopping. Tonight I scored a kid's game system and nine games for $30 from Craigslist. The price on the box for the system alone was $84! We are trying to do as much secondhand and small business shopping as we can to keep as much of our spending dollars in the pockets of individuals rather than large corporations. That brings my first, rather boring December Photo Project post to an end.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sweet Productivity...

Oh, how I've missed contributing to our household! As I've blogged about before, between the Hyperemesis Gravidarum and the Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction, I was really out of commission to some extent most of my pregnancy. I think there were 8 weeks in the second trimester where I felt great, and a week or two from 32-34 weeks. This really affected how much, and in what ways, I could contribute to the running of the house. Many weeks, it was simply my job to keep the kids and I fed and alive while my wonderful husband was at work. When he was home he did was much as he could to keep up with the cooking, cleaning, and caring for the kids. But it's definitely a two person job! I'm ever grateful for him for letting me flounder and just survive; I know plenty of husbands just don't understand how difficult growing a human can be under the best of circumstances, not to mention when the pregnancy itself is difficult, too!

Baby Zane was born on November 12. The entire week before he was born, I was out of commission. Almost completely. My pain levels, and the prodromal contractions had me mostly bed ridden. I was contracting every 10 minutes around the clock with many multi-hour episodes of very hard contractions every 3-5 minutes. And of course these were overnight when I needed to be sleeping to care for the kids the next day. I was exhausted, which made the pain worse. I was basically put on bedrest, taking sleeping medicine to knock out the prodromal contractions, and pain medicine so I could not be in pain that was excruciating. If I took them, I was too tired and out of it to be present for the big girls, but without it I was too tired and in too much pain to care for any of the kids. My mom and her husband took the big girls, since Lucy was happy playing in bed with me, watching Netflix, and still takes two naps a day.

Then I've been recovering from the birth (which I'm still revising my birth story and will post it when I'm done), and adjusting to four kids. It's been time consuming just meeting everyone's needs. So not much has gotten done. The house isn't as messy, but the day-to-day tasks that keep a home running just weren't always getting done.

This week the big girls went back with my mom and her husband. They went on Sunday night and will come home Thursday after we all go over for breakfast and Thanksgiving celebrating. They got to go out of town to pick up their aunt, so for them it was a vacation! And for me it has been a chance to contribute again!

I've gotten laundry 95% done. I will be finished tomorrow to the point that everything but what we're wearing is washed, sorted, and put away. Laundry was a huge issue because of the bending and stooping involved in using our washer/dryer. And it's the chore I've felt the most guilty about letting fall by the wayside. So getting this caught up, more caught up than I think I've been since having children, is huge to me!

I'm also getting the big girls' room clean. Including their toybox, which is covered in bits and pieces of broken toys at the bottom. In their room are a lot of our DVDs. I'll be gathering up all the scratched and damaged Disney ones to send in to be replaced. I'm hoping we can get the replacements before Christmas; hello easy/free Christmas gifts!

I'm going to try to post more in the New Year, but for now am taking time to focus on our family. <3

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Hello, World.

Sunday, October 30, 2011. 36 Weeks, 4 days pregnant.

Sunday, November 13, 2011. One day old.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Today I...

Today I am 37 weeks, 2 days pregnant and desperately trying to find my zen with the baby coming tonight, or a month from tonight.

Today I am spending the day with a sweet, giggly 19 month old little girl who doesn't realize that all too soon she will be transformed from "the baby" to a "little girl" by the arrival of a new sibling.

Today I am trying to be joyful in doing mundane tasks like cleaning and laundry.

Today I am remembering to keep my faith in uncertain times.

Today I am grateful for God's provision throughout the uncertainty.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Anna-Lee, or the reason K and I will likely be arrested
for threatening minor boys in a few years. ;)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Freedom.

The burn-out. It's not a pretty topic, not one that any of us mom's like to admit to feeling. But, I am there. And I have been for a while. It is just now, now that there's a light at the end of this pregnancy tunnel, that I feel like maybe the fog lifting is a real possibility. Let me explain.

2011 did not start well for our family. I'd just finished a very stressful season of working for the holidays part-time. This was as much out of necessity than anything else, and it was not something that our family was prepared well for. We did not cope well with mama being gone random hours during the day. I developed anxiety bad enough that I went on medication to help with the attacks. We took a trip to Oklahoma and Dallas in January to re-group as a family. It was a much needed vacation for us, and we came back ready to jump back into life.

Our then five year old wanted to try public school, so the Monday after we got back she started at the local elementary school. Her teacher was mine in first grade, a woman who I still cherish and adore for her understanding of my awkward six year old self who wanted to read books meant for far older kids rather than socialize on the playground. Three weeks later, it was obvious school was not working for her. She was grumpy. She was begging to never go back. She loved the teacher, she loved being with the kids. But it took her joy away when it came to learning. And she LOVES to learn. So, with a prayerful heart we pulled her. We decided to unschool that year, let her just get back to loving learning while she was still little.

February began with the passing of my grandfather. Shortly later, my husband was injured at work and had to take a month off. Both of these were setbacks to our routine, to our hearts. But we still were managing to settle into life with a family of five, finding our daily groove after floundering for months. The big girls had always loved their baby sister, but now at 11 months, she was able to join in the playing with them. Life was looking good for our little family.

Then came a surprise. Literally. We found out mid-March that we were expecting baby #4! Such a blessing, definitely. But, we were shocked to be pregnant so soon. I was still in the pit of nursing all night, dealing with postpartum anxiety, and didn't I just have a baby!?!? But we were excited, nonetheless. Until a week later when I found out I needed to abruptly stop my anxiety medication and the hyperemesis gravidarum set in. I was so sick that a couple nights I wound up taking my pillow and blanket into the bathroom and sleeping on the floor in there. Then I started getting panic attacks about getting sick, especially when out alone with all of the kids, since seeing mama sick scared especially the little ones. Only now I didn't have my medication that made me feel human again. And it turned out my anti-nausea medication, unlike when I took it with my oldest, was making my anxiety worse than it was otherwise. Not wanting to take any mood altering medications in the first trimester, I floundered. I did the most I could, but it was rarely enough, and we just tried to keep afloat from day to day. We lost our footing, for sure.

And, as with most tough pregnancies, that's where we've stayed. It's gotten easier. These past few weeks that I've been seeing a chiropractor for the SPD, it hasn't been as debilitating. But third trimester exhaustion and the return of hyperemesis have offset that improvement. I've realized, I can't do this again. Not for a while. When I got pregnant I was just getting back to normal after months of postpartum anxiety. Now I have dealt with months of not just anxiety, but hyperemesis and pain.

NOTHING will change the fact that this baby is a blessing. That our family will love this baby and they will be cherished and adored. But, after a serious round of talking, and a lot of prayer my husband and I have decided that we have to make sure no more babies for a while. We neither one feel done. But I feel done for now. I have mama burn-out. I haven't been able to be the mother, the wife, the WOMAN, the ME that I feel God calling me to be. I feel called to be so much more than I am right now. To be so much more present that what I am able to be. So the decision has been made that there will be no babies for at least 3 years.

And knowing that won't be something to think (worry?) about, I feel...free. Freedom in getting to enjoy and chase a toddler without that familiar pull of round ligament pain. Freedom to nurse my toddler without worrying about painful nursing from pregnancy hormones. Freedom to go to school for my CNA and work overnights to honor the part of me that isn't just a mama, but a person as well. Freedom to look at taking some photography courses as a real possibility and not just a dream because they don't fall into my schedule of pumping or due dates. Freedom to take my doula training. Freedom to look at the four souls God has given my husband and I to guide and teach and learn from and soak them up and rejoice in them. Freedom to find myself as His child again, which is where the real freedom comes from, isn't it?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The double edged sword of the due date:

It is common knowledge in "birthy" circles that the Estimated Due Date (EDD) given to women by midwives and obstetricians in most everywhere is somewhat of a fallacy. Yes, the average time a woman will spend pregnant is 40 weeks. BUT, that is just an average. The normal range for a term pregnancy is 37 to 42 weeks (and based on some people's arguments the range could be as wide as 36 to 43; but for the sake of this post we'll stick with 37-42 as average since it is the accepted norm). Which means that if your EDD is, let's say January 1st, you could have a normal length pregnancy without being either "early" or "late" anywhere from December 11th to January 15th. Quite a difference than focusing on that one day, right?

The thing is, there's been a trend that I've noticed in a lot of natural birthing communities to ignore the first 3 weeks of that range. It is seen almost as a badge of honor to beat the EDD, to go past it. Women are using that 42 week mark as their due date, it's seen as beating the system or being more of a woman to be considered "overdue" by the medical community at large. Especially if you buck the pressure to induce, something that is very very understandably hard to do for both first time moms and mothers with little ones at home who may only have help available for a very short window of time.

And, there is NOTHING wrong with that. I comment women who carry their babies for 40+ weeks without being pressured into a non-medical induction or succumbing to society's pressure to just get that baby out. Scheduling birth is a big trend in our country (I would encourage ACOG to look at elective, non-medical induction, whether suggested by women or their providers, as a bigger 'cause celebre' than homebirth is!), and it's one that many are pressured into by all sides. Even knowing we were planning a homebirth, I started getting phone calls wanting to know when the baby was coming at what we thoughts was 38 weeks with my last pregnancy. And I wasn't even "due" yet! Turns out I was more realistically at 36 weeks; an entire month before when I would have been considered due to have the baby.

BUT, what about those of us on the other side of the spectrum? My children have all been "early." My 3 daughters were born at 36 weeks exactly (according to my OB's wheel; by ovulation she was actually 35w4d), 37w1d, and 37w6d. The first I admit had circumstances that likely contributed to her being born before 37 weeks. I had an infection that left untreated can lead to early labor. And my doctor ignored me when I told him that I wasn't able to keep the antibiotics down long enough to be effective. I did wind up in preterm labor three weeks later (at 33w5d) and spent a weekend in the hospital with magnesium sulfate to stop labor. I was taken off of light bedrest a few days before my daughter was born. If I remember correctly, a different antibiotic was never prescribed after the preterm labor, and I am unsure at this point (almost 6.5 years later) if it was because no infection was present or because it was an oversight in medical care. So, that could very well been a contributing factor in her birth.

The other two, however, came "early" with no prompting from me. I had prodromal labor for at least two weeks before each of their births. With my middle daughter this consisted of hours of braxton-hicks contractions that kept me awake but were clearly braxton-hicks. With my youngest, it meant about 2 and a half weeks of hours long periods of labor contractions that had a definite pattern, involved using breathing and coping techniques. Then? They'd just stop or space out to an obviously not labor pattern. Now, as I'm approaching the beginning of my "due month (late October to early December in my case)" I find I'm having the long periods of braxton-hicks like contractions again. While I have no scientific reasoning, I am guessing on a baby within 4 weeks because of patterns that are showing up as they have with other pregnancies.

Even waiting 4 weeks, which would be my longest pregnancy, I would still be birthing before 40 weeks. And that is FINE with me. I don't like comparing women to appliances, so I don't like when people say I "cook" babies fast or anything like that. I am not cooking an infant, I'm gestating. ;) But, I do err on the side of shorter pregnancies. And, because I am okay with that, because I don't feel bad about not going to 40 weeks or beyond, I've gotten some flack. People saying I "want" a preemie or care more about my comfort than I do my baby's health. And to them I say a two word phrase that I won't repeat here because I made myself a promise not to curse on this blog.

Do I WANT a 40+ week pregnancy? Absolutely not. Let's go with my last, and longest, pregnancy. 37 weeks 6 days. By the end of that pregnancy I could not roll over in bed or get dressed without assistance due to SPD. I was super emotional and full of outbursts of anger from hormones. I felt like I wasn't in control of my mind or my emotions anymore. Doing things with an caring for my older girls was plain HARD and they endured a lot more TV, missed trips to the zoo, and PB&Js than they should have had to deal with. I was dealing with prodromal labor that largely happened overnight, and then had children to deal with all day. Five more weeks of that and I may have lost my mind.

The night before I had my daughter I was cursing and yelling and swearing that I was GOING to be induced that week (at the time we were going with an earlier EDD, but because of my daughter's size, the amount of vernix and some issues with my cycle, I believe an earlier dating ultrasound that had her EDD two weeks later was the more accurate of the two) because I could not be pregnant another second. I was crying at EVERYTHING, and scaring not only myself, but my husband and the big girls. It wasn't a pretty picture. However, even believing I was AT my 40 week mark, I knew I would stay pregnant another 2 or so weeks if that's what the baby needed.

And now, now I would gladly again stay pregnant for 42 weeks. Do I want to? Again, no. This baby's movements are large. My stomach moves more than Shakira's hips! I wake up at night in pain from those movements. The SPD, while more manageable with chiropractic care, is wearing me thin. I have a fractured tailbone and hyperemesis to deal with this time, too. It's been a largely horrible pregnancy. As long as baby is healthy and ready, they can be born as soon as it's safe for them to do so for my preference. But if they need to stick around until the end of the due month, that's okay with me, too. I may complain a LOT about it, but it would be of a venting nature.

Because I don't want a preemie. I've never WANTED a preemie. I was one. I spent most of my first year in and out of a NICU. I wouldn't wish the reality and uncertain health of a preemie on any parent or any baby. I want to slap people when they say I want a preemie; and that is not the pregnancy hormones talking. And while my comfort is important to me, especially right now when there are so many factors attack it, of course my child's health is more important. Worrying about the baby's health versus my comfort is what led me to the natural childbirth movement in the first place.

I guess the point of this post is that the EDD is just that. Estimated. It is the average. And while I commend the women who happily plan for and even relish in 42 weeks of pregnancy, I have to say remember there is another side to the EDD sword. Those of us who make up the early end of that due month curve. And just because we don't carry our baby's in the womb as long and aren't upset about that doesn't mean we should be looked down on. In a community like the natural birth one, full of people that the mainstream world rarely sees as "normal", it'd be nice to have it remembered that for there to be an average there have to be a range both above and below that average. And in this case, unlike our report cards in school, there's nothing better about being above average rather than below average.

DISCLAIMER: This is based on when the BABY chooses their own birthdate and does not apply to inductions before 40 weeks. Obviously there are inductions that are medically indicated before a baby's EDD, and if that is what a woman and her provider deem necessary given their circumstances, I support that. BUT this post isn't about this. When a baby naturally lets the mother's body know to start labor before 40 weeks, there are rarely issues. It's when labor is artificially started that your risks of having complications associated with "early" babies can happen, even within that 37-42 week window.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

32 Weeks, and birth place rambling.

32 Weeks and feeling good!

I'm in the middle of week 32 of this pregnancy. This week has been a turnaround week. A week ago, I was on day 2 of a 3 day period of being bed ridden from pain related to SPD. I went to the chiropractor on Tuesday, and again on Friday. I've had some pain off and on this week, but this weekend has been amazing. Even spending all day on my feet and running around I've been relatively pain free. As pain free as you can be when there is a uterus up to your ribs and little jabs to your muscles from inside your body. ;) I don't think 32 weeks has felt this comfortable since my first pregnancy. Considering that was 3 kids, 8 pregnancies, and 6 years ago, I'm happy!

My other 3 were born in the 36-38 weeks range. Which means nothing, as we all know. I could have a baby in 4 weeks or in 10 weeks. As someone obsessed with details and planning, the last couple of months of pregnancy are maddening as I constantly wonder when to expect baby to come. Especially since I tend to have weeks of prodromal labor.

This pregnancy has been the first one where birth place has been a real discussion. My first I was sure would be in the hospital. People went to OBs and had babies in hospitals. Homebirth was for the crazy hippies. I'm sorry if I sound like I'm mumbling, that's just my foot in my mouth. After a good natural hospital birth, I still knew there was a better way. Better than a first time mom being told after 9 hours of labor that she was failing to progress and being threatened with a cesarean section. Better than waiting over an hour for every single prenatal visit in a crowded waiting room only to be seen for five minutes. Better than an OB who dismissed my hyperemesis as me being a "princess" about normal morning sickness and told me not having an epidural would result in myself having a stroke from high blood pressure (due to a heart condition I'd long outgrown, and even suffering from low blood pressure the entire pregnancy!). Better than postpartum women treating me like I knew nothing because I was a young mother.

Two years later I found myself pregnant again. I knew I would have a homebirth. The question that pregnancy was whether or not I could find a midwife to attend. I was okay with an unassisted birth when a friend found a midwife for me through a message board. I met with her, and transferred from seeing a hospital based CNM to seeing a homebirth midwife. And still wound up with an unassisted birth thanks to a snowstorm, another birth, and being a fast laborer.

By the time I was pregnant with baby number three, there wasn't a question of where (home) or attendant (same homebirth midwife), but instead how we were going to replace the tub that came with the home we'd bought the year before with a new one deep enough to facilitate a waterbirth. That birth, another fast one (just a smidge over 2 hours), was easy. Smooth, quick labor that progressed with no issues and ended in a peaceful waterbirth with the midwife and my husband near the tub and my two older girls in the hallway laughing in delight over the birth of their sister.

This pregnancy, however, has been full of questions. We are seeing our family doctor for prenatal care, and have intended to birth at home unassisted from the beginning. This decision has been one I've considered and reconsidered. I admit the hospital has it's appeal. Not for the birth itself, though their tubs do look amazing. But for the 2 days post birth with no having to clean up, tend to older siblings, having food delivered to me with the push of a button, etc. It's a mini vacation for a tired mama with lots of little ones around! And with our doctor, I know all of my wishes would be respected during labor and birth. I wouldn't have to get an IV, I could eat and drink and move as I pleased, catch the baby myself, and anything else I could ask for. Sounds great, but with the fast labors, the whole being in a car sounds like torture. My contractions tend to come fast and strong. They are manageable when I can do whatever I need to to cope. But in a car they are unbearable (experienced during those weeks of prodromal labor).

For all three girls, the only options were hospital or home. Now, a new birth center is opening in the area. Right near the hospital, actually. A LOT of my friends are very excited about this option. As am I, because it means many local women who were not happy with the current options of unregulated homebirth midwives or the hospital have a new option. One that gives them great care and a non-hospital option that has the bonus of being covered by insurance; something that is usually impossible with homebirths here. I have many friends who are already excited about getting to have their next baby in the birth center. It opens later this month, and since my doctor is the physician who works with the CNM running the center, I can easily switch care to birth there if I chose to.

And I do see the appeal. A real bed rather than the incredibly uncomfortable hospital ones. Big tubs (I am a water birther, the bed is of no matter to me, but the tub? The tub is everything!), no hospital-y feel to the place. And you get to go home within a few hours, so you can settle into your own bed with baby that first night. And the scary "who cleans up the mess" question all of us homebirthers hear is answered. I am pretty sure you can also have family visit before you leave the center and then when you get home, you're home in peace and alone. That is probably an even bigger draw than the tub for me, as I'm a private person and rarely am comfortable inviting others into my home. Even friends and family.

But, where I am now, the birth center option is just not for me. It seems like it would be silly. We can have everything we want at the hospital. If this wasn't the case, a birth center would be a good option for us. The hospital seems kind of crazy as well. We wouldn't be going because we think it is the best or safest place for our birth, but rather to simply have the hotel-like amenities after the fact. I still feel the best place would be home for us. Sure, it means no 2 day vacation afterward. But as long as I do my meal prep and keep up with laundry before the birth, there won't be much to do after around the house anyway. Plus my husband will likely have a couple of days home to help out. Add in the fact that I don't tend to take a ton of rest time after a birth anyway (we were out to eat and shopping 12 hours after my last birth since our birth kit was missing a few items and we got hungry) and staying home just makes sense.

So for now, we say we're planning a homebirth. Come birthing day, we may decide the hospital sounds like the place for us. We have a doctor and doula who are fine supporting us wherever we decide to go. Or not go. So the following weeks will involve putting together our birth kit, preparing the house for a birth, and packing a bag in case we decide at the last minute to head to the hospital. I don't see that happening, but this pregnancy has been so all over the place that I do not make concrete plans anymore. All I know is that in the next 4-10 weeks we will be meeting our new baby. And no matter where or how they enter this world, it will be joyful and miraculous. Just like my other births, and any others that God plans for us.



Saturday, October 1, 2011

October is here!

And with it, it brings a renewed sense of hope for the future. This is, by far, my favorite month. Even though it holds one of the greatest tragedies of my life; the loss of my Ga-Ga, my maternal grandmother. She was one of the most special people to me. More than grandmother, she was my friend. A source of constant support and understanding, even when I was the unconventional, independent, weird kid. She never expected or even wanted me to act normal and be like other kids. She LOVED that I marched to my own drummer, and a lot of who I am now is because of who she taught me to become. My love of southern cooking, hanging laundry, and listening to music while I do chores all come from her. My middle daughter was born in her home on her birthday, and oh how I wish Ga-Ga could meet her now! I like to believe that the sassy, funny, to the point attitude and the gleam in her eye come from her great-grandmother. That before Reese was in my womb, she was in heaven getting told "now, when your mama was little, she had the biggest attitude! So your job is to go down there and give her just as much joy and frustration as she gave me!" Ga-Ga used to say I was the best at getting out of trouble by making what I did wrong so funny or cute that she was too busy laughing to carry out any punishments. And oh is that my Reese to a tee! We often find ourselves walking away to chuckle before coming back to talk about why a certain action was maybe not the best one.

October this year is bringing a new job for my husband, a point in this pregnancy where I am not just feeling okay, but really feeling good and functioning again, and a new sense of relief and JOY. And a desire to draw closer to God as a family. Something we have been trying to do, but have slacked on. The big girls are having a long-awaited slumber party at my mom's this weekend, but next week we are going to start the look for a home church. We're likely going to try the church that the girls' dance teacher goes to. I went there as a teenager and really enjoyed it. My only issue with it as an adult is sometimes it seems a lot of political talk comes from the pulpit. And I really dislike that. But, if other things are in place, I can overlook it. Nowhere is perfect.

Today my husband and I celebrated our Eighth wedding anniversary. Technically it's not until October 9th, but we did our celebrating today. Next week we'll go to church and then eat and watch football with the kids. My kind of celebration! We have our first kid-free day/night in 18 months. And wow is it quiet without the girls here! We went shopping and had long conversations without a million questions. I forgot you could do that!

I'm excited for October. And not just because I'm secretly (well, not a secret anymore!) hoping for a Halloween baby. I'm excited to make the big girls' costumes, to go to the pumpkin patch, to get maternity photos done, to really start preparing to welcome the new baby. 2011 has been a year of great struggle and stress for our family. October has never been anything but good to me (for even in the loss of Ga-Ga, I was rejoicing that her years of pain from arthritis were gone and that she was back with my Pa, the son she lost so many years ago, and Jesus!), and I'm confident that this year's October will be no different!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Autumn is here!

And, besides the ringing in of our family's favorite season, we have much to celebrate! The husband got a job this week! It's in the field he wants to move into (and will be starting school for soon), and he will be home more during the kids' waking hours. It's a paycut, but we are fine with struggling for a little while in order to make things better in the long run. I've been encouraged to apply for a job as a breastfeeding peer counselor with our local WIC office and plan to turn in the application next week, so I may be bringing in a little something extra to help out as well. Either way, I'll likely look for part-time work after the baby is a couple of months old during hours when hubby is home with the kids. I like having a little bit of an outlet, but the hassle of childcare isn't one I like to deal with!

The big girls started dance last week (9/13 and 9/17, respectively). The six year old is doing a tap/ballet combo, and the three year old is doing "creative movement". Which is intro to tap and ballet and fun movement. They both love it! It's the first time either of them have taken a structured class for anything. After the new year we'll likely add swim lessons. I think 2 lessons each is about enough though!


Six year old ballerina and her three year old copycat. :)

Three year old Ballerina

As for me, I've begun seeing a different chiropractor for this pregnancy. Not because I didn't like my old chiropractor...in fact I really do like him! BUT, my insurance didn't cover him and I need to go more during pregnancy than I could swing without the help of insurance. Plus the new chiropractor specializes in pregnancy and has some different state of the art equipment, etc. I've noticed a HUGE difference. For one, she adjusts the pubis symphysis itself rather than just the illium and sacrum in hopes of stabilizing the entire pelvis. The adjustment hurts. The little hammer (I forget the actual name) thing is not a fun sensation. And I usually have to come home and rest after an adjustment. But it is helping!

And that state of the art equipment? It found some rotation and issues in my cervical vertebrae. This is significant because it is the vertebrae that are connected with the nerves causing my wrist/hand issues. Getting adjusted hasn't been a cure, but I am able to do more with less pain and numbness in my wrist and hand! I figure it may take a while before it can fix it completely; I've been living with this for almost five years, two weeks isn't going to fix it all. But it has given me hope that maybe I will be able to massage again one day.

This autumn is especially significant for us. This is the season in which we will be welcoming our newest family member. :) I love that I will be birthing during the season that brings me the most joy, inspiration, and closeness to God. Autumn has always been special, this will just make it a bit moreso. We are still undecided between home and hospital, but I am leaning towards staying home and going with the original plan of an unassisted birth. The thing that sounds best about a hospital birth is the two day vacation afterward. No house to clean, no worrying about cooking for anybody, cable TV and room service! And really, with a little prep work we can have the meals and such all ready to go here. Microwaving isn't hard. And I would likely go nuts spending time away from the kids like that. Plus there's that whole leaving the house in labor and fear of precipitous birthing in the van on the way there. I don't even like going anywhere without my husband after 36 weeks for fear of going into labor when out and about!


31 Week belly. Ignore bad lighting and hanging converter box wire- we have to do that to watch Fox, lol!

Though we go into each pregnancy planning on it lasting up to 42 weeks, we could realistically have as little as 5 weeks and as many as 11 based on 'normal' pregnancies and the lengths of my others. Seeing as this is baby #4, we really don't have a ton of preparations. Washing clothes and putting them away. I'm turning my closet into a nursery nook. We co-sleep, but we'll put our mini pack and play in there (with the doors removed, of course!), the clothes in baskets on the upper shelf, and add a mobile and paint it a little different than the rest of the room. Just to have a nice baby "area". We've never done that with the other kids. Just planned for co-sleeping and that was that. We have a new carseat, we have cloth diaper covers and plenty of prefolds and flats, though we will probably pick up some preemie prefolds for the first few days. I need to go get my Ergo from a friend, but I have my ring sling and wrap ready to go. I want to finish the house. Some painting and decorating. And I want to get all of us into a good routine and get a household schedule worked out. Which will happen naturally as the husband settles into his new job. Then the fall activities. Apple orchard. Pumpkin patch. Maternity pictures.

As the leaves change and fall, the air turns crisp, and we are settling into life. I don't know how to explain the change from the summer. But there is a change. Things feel right again.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

You keep moving on...

Wednesday began like any other day. My husband had unexpectedly had Monday and Tuesday off of work, so he was going back after a long weekend. It was a bad day, as far as my pain levels were concerned. I took the two little girls to their dentist appointments, and came home to let Lucy nap before my chiropractor appointment. In there the husband left for work and when we got home before supper it was movie and rest time, as mama needs a LOT of rest after the chiropractor these days. Those SPD and fractured tailbone adjustments are no joke and take a lot out of an already tired body!

Around bedtime, my husband walked in the door. He's not usually home on Wednesdays until 1am or so, and I was pretty sure bedtime hadn't taken that long! (It hadn't. It was 9pm.) He was upset and told me he had lost his job. Talk about unexpected! After the initial shock wore off, though, we began to plan.

He found a job to apply to the next day, and we have a couple more he'll apply for this upcoming week. The job he applied for Thursday told him they'll be calling interviewees back on Monday and Tuesday, and he saw the words "Looks good for an interview" written on his application. This job has less and better hours, benefits, the same pay, and due to the type of work, it would come with a much higher level of job satisfaction. We're praying and hoping that this is the direction God is leading him to, but know that in today's world getting a job so quickly and it being the first job you apply for is not very common and are realistic that this may not be it.

We both believe that life is what you make it. That attitude can make a situation bearable or miserable. And we have faith that God won't give us more than we can handle. So why choose to feel miserable about it? He'd been unhappy in his job for a while now. And it began to affect things at home. He was bringing that unhappiness home with him unintentionally, taking longer to unwind and decompress from work, etc. We knew that it was time for a change, but neither of us wanted to think about making yet another change with a baby on the way and all the other things our family has gone through in 2011. We think maybe this is God's way of pushing us to make that change, and have faith that only good will come from this challenge.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I Love Lucy



Drinking lemonade at lunch with Mama and Daddy.

Our oldest girls spent the weekend with their grandmas so this mama could rest up and recover from her fall and potentially catch up on laundry. Good progress was made in both, but neither 100% completed. Sunday, we took advantage of finding ourselves with just one child and took Lucy out for an afternoon. It is so much fun to get those rare one-on-one moments with each kid.

We started the afternoon at a local burger place I was craving. Then a trip to the pet store where she got to walk rather than ride in a cart or sling. She was fascinated by all the doggies, running from us shouting "LOOK!" The kitten that looked like our cat in a cage held her attention, too. I think she just wanted to know why we hadn't thought of a cage for our cat. I wondered that, too. ;)

After that we headed to Babies R Us to look at strollers. I doubt we'll need a double stroller. She's walking more, and if we're all out together, we'll likely not even use a single since Kelton and I both love to babywear. But our full size stroller is a bit much for quick trips, especially since it's a more complicated fold involving removing a seat. I wanted to check our options for something lightweight, easy to push (a hard task when Kelton and I are 11" apart in height and he has long legs and I have short ones!), and that will take up less room in the cargo area of our van. We found one clearanced out for $80, and their trade-in event will get us an additional 25% off of that! They're holding it until Wednesday when I can get back out there with the carseat we have in the garage that expired 4 years ago to trade in. Lucy loved riding in it, which is great since she's only used a stroller maybe 5-10 times in her life and has generally hated it. In fact she got mad when we took her out of it!

It's easy with the whirlwind of life occurring around us to remember to slow down and savor each of the girls. Lucy is growing from a baby to a toddler, seemingly overnight. She's finally, at 17 months, fitting into 12 month clothes comfortably. The 3T tunic tops Reese is starting to outgrow make perfect dresses for her. She's still tiny, but getting bigger (she's like her mama, I was always the smallest in my class!).

Her vocabulary is booming. And her understanding even moreso. She fully understand commands like "take this to daddy" or "put that in the bookcase". She can name the animals by name (Guster= Guhduh, Strider= Ida, and Zeke= Eek or Ki-ee for kitty). She can point to her belly, and will "boop" your nose (poke it saying boop and laughing). She will also point out her booty, lol. If she's wet, she will bring us a prefold and lay down for a change. She says "what", "why", "yeah", "hi", and "look". She also says Anna-Lee (Ammm-Eeeee). She finally lets me read to her without throwing a fit two pages into a book, and has started bringing books to us to read to her. She shows a preference in what clothes she wears, and she is becoming a fan of shoes.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Back to human!

This past week has been a blur. Friday night, the middle girl suddenly spiked a fever and was really lethargic. I was fine letting her rest until she also began saying her neck and head hurt. Meningitis is nothing to laugh at, so we took her in to be checked out. Turns out she had a simple viral throat infection. Let it run it's course, give her hot or cold foods to comfort her throat as needed, and give her plenty of chance to rest. Of course she woke up the next morning fine and acting like nothing had ever happened.

Later that same day, the toddler came down with same symptoms. At least we knew what was happening this time, so we focused on making her comfy and getting some snuggles where we could. We went to bed fully expecting our oldest to wind up sick by Sunday afternoon. When Sunday passed with no symptoms we counted our blessings and pat ourselves on the back for our good luck!

Enter Monday morning. Yep, the oldest had a fever. It seemed to break just a few hours later. No surprise, as she's probably got the strongest immune system of us all. We went to my chiropractor appointment and then planned to head straight home. That's when she got sick. In the hallway at the chiropractor. Thankfully he's a father himself, so it was taken in stride. We got her straight home and in bed. And cancelled her dental procedure for the next morning.

Turns out, she was fine by when her appointment would have started. But it was still a good thing we cancelled, because it was this Mama's turn! I spent Tuesday in bed unable to even lift my head off the pillow when I wanted to. No wonder I was getting so many snuggles! It was out of necessity! Wednesday I was still on the mend; not sick, but recovering and resting.

Thursday things were back to normal. A friend came over and tomatoes were boiled, peeled, chopped, mixed, and canned into 8 glorious pints of homemade salsa. Some neglected cleaning was done, real food was made for supper, story time before bed was resumed.

Friday morning I slipped in the bathroom and hurt my tailbone. It's likely a small fracture, but the more painful part was the inflammation to the soft tissues in my lower back, left hip/bottom, and my left shoulderblade area. I spent the day resting with an ice pack and taking the medicine my doctor recommended. I still wound up calling my husband home from work to take care of me, take the big girls to his mom, and help me with errands. My hero, that man. He not only did all of that, but he also took me out to eat at the place we met working almost exactly 11 years ago, AND stayed up late painting our big girls' bedroom and prepping to put down new flooring in there.

Thankfully this morning I'm still sore (especially the bone itself!) but with icy hot, ice, and just moving carefully, I'm okay. High pain tolerances are a good thing! I was so happy to be able to get laundry put away, make chili for supper, and just feel like a functioning person!

After such a week though, I am cautious to go into a new week without goals in place. This past week required lots of downtime, which can quickly become a habit, even when it isn't needed.

So, I'll post them here, as a way to make me feel a bit more accountable. My goals for the upcoming week:

-Can more produce, based on what's on sale and what we find at Farmer's Market on Thursday
-Get a homeschool schedule made, and turn in our late paperwork to the state (I was supposed to turn it in yesterday and was laid up too late to do so from falling- oops!).
-Organize the girls' room with the new flooring in.
-Buy paint for mine and the husband's bedroom.
-Take more pictures!
-Crochet. Diaper covers, camera strap cover, or handle covers for our cast iron. I don't care what; just something!
-Work with the girls on the mobile they're making for the baby.
-Keep up with daily tidying, laundry, and deep cleaning chores. This is always so much easier said than done!
-Reschedule the dental procedure for our oldest.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Summer is slowly ending...



Late summer family reunion at the lake. Bonus 25 week belly picture!

which means the best time of the year is just around the corner! I've mentioned that summer is not our favorite time of the year here in our home. No, we are definitely autumn kind of people! Bring on falling leaves, pumpkins, apples, crisp air, earlier nights and later mornings. A dear friend and I have a description for our favorite kind of weather: hoodie and flip flop weather. When you can comfortably wear both, it's the time of year to be outside enjoying all nature has to offer! Of course, this friend and I have both been known to extend our hoodie and flip flop uniforms into late winter when the ground is heavy with snow, so use your own discretion with this. ;)

Late summer and the approach of autumn also mean it is back to school time! This has different meanings for us this year. We've considered ourselves homeschoolers for the past year or two, but have fallen more in the unschooling camp. We have focused on playing, reading to our girls, and encouraging our now six year old's natural interests. This year, however, she is of compulsory attendance age. So we have paperwork to file with our state. This includes a vaccine exemption form, and a form laying out our curriculum choices. We bought a first grade curriculum, and as all our paperwork needs to be filed by the 26th, I'm spending this weekend setting out lesson plans, and getting everything ready to submit. Organizing a school shelf in the bookcase, making a daily schedule for the girls and I so we know what to expect when, and making a meal plan so I'm not going crazy while adjusting to "doing school".

We still are focusing on making learning fun. Lately, there's been a huge interest in learning about history. Which her definition of history is "old things, like Elvis." Well, sort of, sweetie! We're reading through the Little House series with her sisters. Last week we read chapter one of Little House in the Big Woods and she painted pictures of the corn husk dolls we're going to make as soon as we dry the husks from our corn we're getting at Farmer's Market on Thursday. A couple hours east there is a living history farm that we plan to visit. I'd like to wait until it is not only cooler, but closer to Thanksgiving time, since there is an Ioway Indian village site, and I'd like to incorporate that into our learning about Native Americans.

She's been scared of storms this summer. So when our zoo (whose membership includes free IMAX movies) began showing the IMAX screening of Tornado Alley, we took her so she could learn about the storms. Now, instead of the girls being scared of storms, they tend to just ask about how bad they'll be getting, and are secure in their knowing that a storm turning into a tornado is unlikely. That's not saying they never get scared. The storm that had 70mph winds and knocked power out for 13 hours was scary to them because the lights were out at night. But they knew if it were to develop into a tornado they could simply go to the hall closet and how to stay safe.

Learning fun w/Clifford and Iowa Public TV at the Iowa State Fair!

The end of summer is also bringing an end to our first gardening efforts. They, unfortunately, haven't been very fruitful. I blame this mostly on my asthma keeping me indoors and not tending to the plants as much as I should have, as well as on our alternately too dry and too wet conditions. That's okay. This was a year to learn, not to produce. I did learn that next year we'll do raised beds, as I wasn't a fan of containers. Once our tomato plants are all done with for the season, the girls are going to paint the buckets in autumnal colors and designs, and we'll put some autumn flowers (mums I believe? I'm not a flower person!) in them to decorate the front of the house. The herbs that survived the heat (sage and rosemary) will be brought indoors, and we'll probably add some others to grow inside over the winter.

This week we will begin canning. Whatever we get from farmers market, from our little tomato plants, and produce sales will be preserved to use in winter months. Next month we'll be canning lots of apples. Apple butter, apple jelly, pie fillings, etc. We're kind of nuts about apples. We'll be experimenting with using the shed to store squashes and such over the winter, too.

Even more exciting than planning school schedules, field trips, apple orchards, pumpkin patches, and Halloween is that the coming autumn brings the arrival of our new baby! Being the one giving up precious organ room and pelvic girdle comfort to house the baby's current uterine digs, I like to think this excites me the most. ;) This pregnancy has been simultaneously easy and incredibly difficult. When it's easy, it's very easy. But when the hyperemesis or symphysis pubis dysfunction decide to make it hard, it can be extremely hard! I am looking forward to labor, birthing, and mostly to having a new baby to snuggle and love on. Walking without waddling doesn't sound all that bad, either!

Yes, these "lazy hazy" days of summer are slowly dragging to an end. For many they passed by far too quickly. For us, they took their sweet time and are welcome to make an early exit! We are eagerly awaiting the hustle and bustle that autumn brings to our home. And to adding hoodies to our flip flop wardrobes!


Monday, August 1, 2011

I'm MELTING!!!



Beating the heat means clothing is optional and Netflix isn't.


Okay, not really. But, I DO live in the midwest. And if you're not a weather junkie like I am, that means I'm smack in the middle of the longest heatwave in a long time. It's been over a month now with heat indexes regularly over 100. Today it got up to 115. And our windows are mostly facing West. So from 2pm until around 8pm when dusk shows up, we could set our thermostat to 45 degrees and the house still wouldn't dip below 79 degrees. Which means we keep the thermostat up and just suffer through. Some days I wind up leaving the house with the kids to beat the heat. But lately even the local malls and such can't keep their a/c cool enough either. The forecast is saying we'll get a break after tomorrow. I pray these weathermen know what they're talking about!

Over the past month, we've come up with some ways to deal with the heat. Lots of indoor options, since as I posted about earlier, my asthma is not taking the weather well. The heat I can do, the humidity I can't. Obviously, lots of water is ESSENTIAL. Frozen fruit and smoothies are great cooling treats, too. I make green smoothies because not only are they an easy way to get spinach in the kids in great quantity, but they are yummy and cooling. I notice that by adding the greens in, we don't get quite as noticeable of a sugar rush from the fruit. Cutting mint from our plants and putting it in our water. Ice packs, cold baths, and foil on the windows have all been used, too. Tomorrow when we have to do laundry, I am planning to let the kids wash blankets with their feet by stomping them with a little detergent (Rockin' Green, so safe!) in the tub to agitate them in the cool water. It'll free up the washer to wash other stuff, too!

With being inside comes MAJOR cabin fever, no matter the time of the year! We have plenty of art supplies in the house, but none of that helps with active kids who can see their bikes sitting outside unused, swings sitting unswung, and outdoor space just begging to be filling with running and joyful screams of children playing! So, bedtime has been pushed back a bit. We are none too hungry when it is so hot out, so dinner isn't until after 8pm anyway. Once twilight hits (and the heat index is only around 100 instead of 110!), the kids get sent outside to run. They run, pull each other and the toddler in the wagon up and down the sidewalk, put the puppy on a leash and run him ragged, and just...act like kids.

Trying out her big sister's trike in the sunset light.


The kids are, like their dad and I, much happier with an autumn day than a summer one. Tomorrow heat index is still around 110. But, I think once peak sun is over, I'm going to find our hose, hook it up, and see if they want to play. At least until the water starts boiling. ;)







Saturday, July 30, 2011

Parenting through the pain...

This pregnancy, over half way done with, has just reach the point where I feel anything that could even remotely be described as "comfortable." I'm not saying this to complain. Sure, I do my fair share of whining, I know I do! But, I really do love being pregnant. What a gift we as women have been given. To be charged with the task of growing, nourishing, caring for, and birthing new life! Yes, God certainly shows us His love in being charged with something so amazing, rewarding, and awesome!

However, since March, I've been dealing with hyperemesis. Hyperemesis is nausea and vomiting that results in at least 5% weight loss in the woman affected. I lost between 5-10% of my pre-pregnancy weight and am just now at a +1 lb for this pregnancy. Twice I found myself in the ER for IV fluids, and if I weren't so stubborn, I should have gone in more than that! Most days, getting out of bed was a huge task, managing to care for and feed the kids made me feel like a superhero! I'd be embarrassed to admit how much convenience food and TV has played a part in our lives these past 4 months.

Along with that, my anxiety disorder has been exaggerated by the pregnancy. Thankfully, once I was out of the first trimester, my doctor and I were able to work together and find a drug that helped. Not as much as my non-pregnant anxiety medication, but it does work. And I switched nausea medications as well, since a side effect of the one I was on is increased anxiety levels. The combination worked! I still have days where I need my medication, but in general I'm just fine without anything but maybe a few deep breaths here and there.

This past month, the flood has made the humidity worse. And combined with the warmest (who are we kidding? It is just downright HOT!) summer in recent memory, my asthma just isn't handling it well. When I got to the point this week where I was calling the doctor considering a second ER visit within a week because my rescue medication wasn't working, I knew things had to change. I'm now on two daily preventative medications. Singulair and an inhaled corticosteroid, Flovent.

Needless to say, I've been largely out of commission. I have barely seen friends, I haven't even really seen family all that much! We haven't done most of the usual activities we do in the summer. Trips to the zoo, picnics at the park, going fishing, etc. This spring and summer has seen us mostly housebound. Which is not at all the normal way of things for the girls and I. We're very go-go-go kind of people!

Thankfully, at home, I have my awesome husband to help out. But, he's got his own chronic health issues which have been plaguing him for about 15 months now. He's in constant pain, and while he manages to do what needs done, like me he's been just handling the basics. There are only two days a week where he's working in the mornings. On those five other days, we switch off getting up with the kids and sleeping in. Well, he sleeps in. I generally am unable to fall asleep after the kids are up anyway, but getting to just lay in bed in the dark quiet is like a vacation sometimes!

The hardest part isn't the physical toll our health issues have taken on either of us. It's been the fact that we can't be the parents we normally are! We both hate feeling like we're sitting on the sidelines, watching the kids play and grow and not being able to actively participate like we are so used to. We watch them ride their bikes up and down the street instead of my husband riding bikes with them. Trips to the park involve driving there and sitting at the picnic tables versus walking there and playing with them.

It affects them, too. How can it not? It means extra nights with grandparents, when mom and dad are too sick to give them everything they need. And while their grandparents are happy to help and they love the kids and the kids love them, it isn't the same. Then we get the "grandparent detox" when they come home. Which means the first 24-36 hours at home are spent easing back into home rules, and there is a lot of frustration and misbehavior involved. It isn't anybody's fault (not entirely, at least), but just a fact.

The past week or two they've been spending more nights away than usual. A two day trip to the amusement park (which we couldn't have done. Humidity, walking all over, being in the pool all evening, it would've taken all we had out of both of us!), spending the night when my asthma sent me to the ER then again when it almost did, a lot of nights away from home. And it shows. The oldest has taken to yelling angrily at her younger sister, and growling in frustration at her. Lots of hurtful words coming from her mouth and hurtful attitude flowing from her heart. The middle one is bouncing off the walls (which is to be expected since she doesn't have a great outlet for expelling all the energy three year olds have!), and is generally defiant in nature. It isn't malicious, it's just the nature of being three and very spirited! She wants to do things in her own time and her own way and doesn't want anybody to tell her how it is. And all of that is at a level about 10 times higher than usual right now.

Thankfully, we have an amazing family doctor. My asthma stuff is quickly getting under control thanks to the new medications I'm on. I think my lungs forgot what it felt like to not be bogged down with inflammation and mucus! And he's finding a combination of medications to help my husband's pain levels get under control. A small difference is already noticeable, after two days. We're also ALL switching ourselves over to a more plant based diet focused on real, unprocessed foods. Something that, as I mentioned above, has been seriously lacking from our house.

We've been eating the Standard American Diet and we're beginning to understand why there's such a health crisis in this country! My husband is likely doing a 5 day juice/raw veggie and fruit fast to jump start his health journey. I would LOVE to join him, but obviously won't be due to being pregnant. Instead I'll be just adding those things into my diet. And into the girls' diets. They even tried broccoli and rice this week; two things they swore up and down they hated! When the oldest asked me to make rice and beans again, I could have fainted!

In this entire process, though, we've made sure the kids know that we love them, that we aren't not doing things to punish them, etc. And we've tried to make special occasions out of things we CAN do. Family nights at home with movies and a special treat. More trips to the play areas at local malls. Lots of reading and cuddles. Making foods we don't normally make (homemade, from scratch pretzels earned this mama some serious cool points!). Helping in the kitchen. They are troopers, and have taken it in stride.

But the husband and I are saying no more. We've survived through the worst. But we don't want our family to survive, we want it to THRIVE. We're looking into joining a gym that has family programs. We can get much needed exercise (inside, away from the humidity for me!), and the kids can have classes to make friends and get energy out. I've found a tumbling class for them through the Y that they could take together, and progress together. It's way on the other side of town, but once a week we can make that drive. Most of the dance and gymnastic places I've called close to us are much more expensive, don't include gym membership for the husband and I, and have long waiting lists. We're starting back with at least once weekly zoo trips, and signing up for some of their upcoming homeschool series.

I'm excited to change the dynamic of our family. From being a group of people who all love each other and live together to being a tight knit family unit again. We've been there most of the 8 years we've been a family, we can get back there again.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Preparing for the worst...or maybe the best?

As you may have heard, the Missouri River is flooding. Record flood levels have been seen all along the river's path from Montana down to St. Louis. The waters are expected to stay high for months to come. Where I live, a levy protects our city. However, if that levy is breached or fails, we are predicted to have up to 10 feet of water in our city. TEN FEET of water. We are preparing as if this is going to happen, so that if it does we hopefully don't face losing everything.

Which means, while we aren't under immediate threat of an evacuation, it could happen at any time (we're learning of more issues with keeping the levy doing it's job every day it seems). So we are getting things ready to evacuate at a moment's notice. If we don't have to, we'll consider ourselves prepared and lucky. In this process, I'm seeing a lot of similarities to the way of life we're preparing for and the life we've been trying to accomplish. Funny how that works.

By the grace of God, we were given an old, small camper trailer this last spring. My husband and brother-in-law have been fixing it up, dreaming of vacations and fishing trips. It was a hunting camper, so thing bachelor pad times 100. In good shape, but in need of fixing up to be 'family friendly'. It was also used as a kid's playhouse (and still is, as our girls often ask to go play in the camper rather than their bedroom!). If an evacuation is necessary, this camper will go from more than just a fun project and "vacation home". It will BE our home until we find newer, more permanent living arrangements.

We started by pulling up the old carpeting. Thankfully there wasn't really any water damage on the floorboards, but there was a gap between the floor and the wall on one side. My husband fixed that, and my brother in law paid for new laminate wood flooring and trim to go in. It's so pretty! We also got a new roof vent with a fan to circulate air. We're still scouting Craigslist for a roof top air conditioner since my asthma does worse in warmer temperatures...but most of our travels are in the fall so we don't anticipate a big issue here. We need some new paneling on the ceiling where there was some water damage around the old vent, but that is easy to fix whenever we have time. A big, old metal water tank was removed to add more storage space, and if we decide we want a water tank in the future for boondocking we will add a plastic one beneath the camper.

For now the dinette table that converts to a bed is just used as a bed. Rather than the cushions for the seats making a mattress, we have a twin mattress down. We figure if we have to evacuate due to flooding, we will be in the camper for a while, and our bigger girls having a comfortable sleeping spot is more important than a table! We can eat with lap trays. It also lets us use the area under the mattress as extra storage.

Storage. If I thought trying to figure out how to fit the lives of 5 (soon to be 6) people into a ~900 sq ft house was a challenge, I was foolish. Try doing it with a 12' (my estimate is 12') travel trailer! We have built in storage under each of the dinette seats (basically each is the size of a toybox or storage bench), and under the full size sofa bed (it is pretty much a futon style built onto a box frame). There is a small closet with hanging space, and 3 pull out drawers. Then in the "kitchen" there are cabinets above the counter, 3-4 more pull out drawers (silverware sized drawers) next to the stove, and a storage shelf under the sink/countertop. And another small cabinet above the dinette. It's actually a lot of space for such a small camper! I'm grateful it already has an oven/stove combo. This one is older, but looks brand new inside the stove. And a new one that looks the same but with updated finishes (no dark brown appliances!) is $300!

I've figured out we'll need to store a Wonder Wash for washing clothes when boondocking, and washing diapers all the time. If we evacuate, we'll be using a stash of all flat style diapers with wool covers. And taking our 3 pocket diapers to use for overnights or covers while the wool is being washed and dried. This will easily store in the bottom of the closet, along with a simple tote to hold the diapers.

Kitchen supplies are as follows:
-Cast iron skillet and dutch oven (the skillet doubles as a lid, the dutch oven doubles as a pot)
-1 cafeteria style tray/plate for each person
-1 bowl per person
-1 reusable straw cup (the kind that look like a fast food cup) per person
-Silverware set for each person
-2 flannel napkins per person
-Metal spoon and spatula
-Cookie sheet
-Foldable lap trays to eat on (these are at the RV store)
-Kitchenaid mixer (stored in the dinette...not sure if we'll use it in the camper, but I don't want to lose it to flooding, either!)

Our clothes options will be cut down as well. Our older girls can wear the same size shirts, which will make it easy. I plan on packing 4-6 short sleeve shirts for them to share. They will each take 2 pairs of jeans, and 2-3 dresses each. They wear the same size underwear, too, which for now means it all gets thrown in a drawer together. Hubby and I will each take 2 pairs of jeans (for me jeans and one skirt), and shirts. The 15 month old, well, that's the tough one. Probably 3 dresses, 3 pants, and a LOT of shirts, since that's what gets the messiest! All of this should hang in the closet without issue, and the drawers will be used for underwear and socks.

One of the dinette bench areas has been designated as the girls' storage spot. So their special toys they want to make sure aren't flooded will be put here. As well as the six year old's computer school program (Fisher Price Cool School). Everyday toys and homeschooling books will be kept in a small bin under the table top where it's easily accessible. Shoes can be stored here, too. The other dinette storage and the area under our bed are for the things in the house that we don't want to lose but don't necessarily use everyday. Pictures. My grandfather's cowboy hat and fiddle (which I'm teaching myself to play). The broken laptops I need pictures off of. Our Wii and maybe our small 19" TV (so we have them to use if we are at an RV park with electric hookups) if there's room. Our important papers we need.

Then there are the animals. We have 2 dachshunds and our cat. The cat is the tricky one, because of the litter box in such a small area. I see us using one of the top entry cat boxes, and storing it in the cubby space under the counter. That way litter isn't always getting strewn about. We'll have storage in the cargo area of our SUV, too. In addition to the stroller, we'll be storing the dog and cat food there, so when they aren't eating it's out of the way.

Our everyday stuff- the android tablet (which we'll likely purchase a keyboard case for and use in lieu of a laptop in the camper), the nook (I won't be bringing my books with me, so this will be my reading source), a sewing kit, my crochet hooks/yarn, and my camera stuff will be in the cabinet above the dinette.

It sounds like a LOT of stuff in a small area. And really, it kind of is. But, it all has a purpose (not the pictures, hat or fiddle, but really preserving the past IS a purpose). And it is all dear to us and most will be used daily. If we have to live this way, is that really bad? We try, so hard, to simplify constantly. And it seems like we're always falling just short of it. Of course we can't get rid of THAT! But yet, when forced to look at what we could bring with us, suddenly "THAT" didn't make the list. So why do we need it in the house? We're taking the space available, and using it intentionally and wisely. The idea that we could not only live in such a space, but possibly thrive? It thrills me. Not that I want to be evacuated, face losing everything, and starting over. Especially not when I'm more than halfway through a pregnancy (and could be even further than that by the time something may happen!). But just seeing the possibility of a simpler life being not only possible but attainable is great.

And the stuff we're doing? It all fits with a lot of our self-sufficient/urban homesteading ideals. We're re-thinking and using things with less electricity (a small tablet vs a laptop, having the TV be put away for occasional use only), simplifying our entertainment (the fiddle and the nook, some cards vs a lot of books and magazines, video games, etc), and we can easily outfit the camper with solar electricity to power the chargers for what we'll be using when we need to.

Of course, we'll need to have somewhere available for showering (we could go full out and do dry showers, but really we won't be full-time travelers, we'd be parked somewhere until we find housing or could return to our house). And some of our sustainable urban homesteading dreams are impossible in a small camper. The only chickens in there will be the chalkboard rooster decals I'm putting on the floor for the kids to draw on! Our garden would be obsolete, though I'd likely bring my spearmint and rosemary plants since we do use them in our cooking.

Since we do eventually want to buy an acreage and maybe live in the camper while building our own place, this exercise in preparedness has, if nothing else, shown us that it is possible. Don't get me wrong, if this were long term living in a camper, we'd be buying a bigger rig! But it's nice to know that even if we have to leave our house, we can still have our home.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Trusting birth...

I don't pretend to know the ins and outs of the Trust Birth movement. I know there is a lot of controversy and drama surrounding it, and so like most things in the natural birth and parenting circles, I tend to stay on the sidelines with my mouth shut. I don't like getting pulled into drama. I hate it, in fact. And if the choice is perhaps missing out on a group of kindred spirits (or people I can't stand...) in exchange for not being privy to drama, I'll happily miss out.

But, being a home birther, I hear Trust Birth a lot, in both good and bad context. Home birthers are not all hippies pulled from an SNL skit. There are people who home birth but are just as ok with the idea of an elective c-section with no medical indication. Home birthers who don't like their local hospital otherwise they'd be in line for the epidural in their 38th week! And yes, home birthers who feel that any presence besides their own (including their partner, a midwife, a doula, or children) is detrimental to the birth process. We, like any group of people, run the gamut.

Me? I trust birth...to a point. TO me, it means I trust birth like I trust breathing. Keep in mind you are reading the blog of an asthmatic who has had very severe attacks. I trust my body knows how to breathe, but I accept it doesn't always do it like it should. Just like I trust that my body knows how to give birth, but I accept that it doesn't always happen like it should either. There are conditions and complications.

If I have an asthma attack, I use the resources at my disposal to remedy the attack. Sometimes that means natural remedies. I drink a glass of black coffee. Sometimes it means using my nebulizer here at home. And other times it means hauling my wheezing butt to the hospital because I know that getting my lungs under control is beyond what I know how to do at that point.

Similarly, I can give birth. I've done it three times, and done a fantastic job if I do say so myself. My body labors quickly and efficiently and I've been blessed to have no complications and easy recoveries. I have no doubts I can give birth a fourth time. But, I have breathed with no issues for the vast majority of my 26 years. It's just the few times I didn't that could've been a big problem.

I guess I'm saying that yes, I trust that my body knows how to grow and birth a baby. I also trust that just like I know when I need help during an asthma attack, I will know if I need help during birth. For me, the process would be different. I personally would not try home remedies first, then medicine at home, then hospital. If I were in labor and had anything that was *off* from my other births, I would not hesitate to transfer. I know this seems highly alarmist to some, and highly crazy to others who don't think a mother will always know.

I also trust that with birth, like anything else in life, there are no guarantees. If I consent to a hospital birth with all of the interventions that are in place to save mothers and babies, guess what? My baby or myself may still wind up seriously injured, ill, or dead. Maybe because we were in the hospital to begin with, and maybe because sometimes bad things happen that we have no control over.

At home, whether with an attendant or without one, same thing. Staying home takes away some risks, but (ducking from home birth advocate's rocks here) it does create others. If baby or I wound up injured, ill, or dead at home it may have been because we didn't go to the hospital. It may have been because for reasons unknown to us, it was just time.

It is a reality that, frankly, sucks. There are no guarantees in life. Life is full of unknowns and risks and benefits. It is scary. So how do we really trust anything? I think rather than trusting birth, or breathing, or any other natural process, we need to first trust ourselves. Trust in God, or whatever spiritual source you look to (if you do at all), that we have the ability to handle the unknowns that are thrown our way. That we are smart enough to do our research and prepare ourselves for what we face in life whether it be parenting, birth, our health, finances, relationships, any of it. And that we can look at the risks, look at the benefits of all our different options and know which has the risks that are acceptable to us.

So, maybe I don't trust birth after all. Maybe instead, I just trust...Me.