Sunday, June 24, 2012

Making progress...and still learning!

I am amazed at the things that midwives know about stalling or postponing labor compared to the OB's I have seen.  This week, I saw a nurse practitioner who is also a midwife, because she has the ability to write a prescription, and she works with my midwife.

The goal is to make it just 2 more weeks.  On one hand, that seems like such a short period of time, but on the other, when looking at already being 4 cm and 90% effaced, it seems like it is so far away.

Hospitals without a NICU (like the one closest to us) are willing to deliver us at this point (35 weeks), because most 35 weekers do not need specialized NICU care.  This is already a great place to be!  This baby has had longer than Callie, Brianna and the twins.  We are just 10 days shy of when Justice was born, and 2 weeks from when our midwife will delivery us at home.

Thursday was a rough day.  I had contractions 7-10 minutes apart for about 7 hours total.  I had a bit of bloody show, which meant cervical change, even though the contractions were not overly strong.

I called my midwife, who had me drink even more water, take extra calcium and magnesium, have a warm bath, then go lay down, with my chest on the bed, and my knees under me (so my bottom was up in the air) for about 30 minutes, before going into strict bedrest until I was able to go see a midwife friend of hers (who could write prescriptions) the following day. 

I did just what she said, and was amazed at how well that regime worked to stop the contractions!  The next day I learned a couple other tricks that we are working on at home, and I am pleased to report contractions have been nearly non-existent.  I felt my uterus getting a bit 'irritable,' took calcium/magnesium again, had a warm bath and went to bed for a bit, and it went away!

Perhaps we will actually make it at least those 2 weeks we need to get to full term!  Praying and hoping that God would sustain us this short period of time, and would deliver this baby safely and peacefully at home in His perfect timing! 

In the meantime, we have started to get things ready for baby, like assembling our birth kit, setting aside what we need and what the midwife would like to have ready.  We also got baby's bed ready to go and set up next to my side of the bed, which meant some rearranging in our room.  My wonderful husband did a great job on all of that while I was resting!  What a blessing to have such a fantastic husband, who is willing to do so many different tasks to help us get as far as we can!

Excitement is definitely building at our house!  It was so cute tonight to get the little 3 out of the bath, and have them discover baby's bed is all set up.  They all had to go check it out, try putting a doll in it, and see where their new little brother will sleep.  Callie is convinced that she will just hold the baby, and he won't need to go to his bed...while it is a cute thought, I am just hoping she is able to hold him without hurting him.  When Callie gets excited, her muscles tend to tense up uncontrollably, so holding a baby will be a challenge for her...

We appreciate all of the prayers and well wishes as we get closer to the birth of this new baby.  I am so glad that there are even more ways that will help us make it to term.  I praise God that even with my 8th baby, I am able to learn new things about the wonderous process of pregnancy and childbirth!  What a truly awesome God I serve!

If anyone is wondering why there are no pictures lately, it is because my internet connection has not been very good, and I have been unable to get pics to upload...hoping that gets resolved quickly!  It is sad that living in the pacific NW, my internet connection is such that it doesn't work well in the RAIN, lol!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pregnancy Update

Even after just a few days of not posting, I am getting emails asking how we are doing, and if I had the baby...which tells me it is time for an update!

No baby yet!  We are at 34 weeks, 5 days and so glad that he is still baking on the inside!  Today is the gestational age our twins were born at, and really, they did very well!  Each day, this baby is getting bigger and stronger and better equipped to handle life on the outside!  He should have already crossed the 'magic' 5 pound mark, and his lungs should be ready to absorb oxygen.  The further we get into this pregnancy, the more milestones we are able to check off the list for baby, the more my concern for this baby's health gives way to excitement to get ready for him!

Our midwife is willing to delivery us in just 16 days.

We are 10 days from making our due month for the first time EVER.

24 more days is the longest I have ever made it in any pregnancy (that was with Ashley, and she made it to 38 weeks and 1 day).

We are willing to delivery at home, unassisted if need be in just a couple of days...though whether we would truly pack up even now and head in would be a wait and see kind of thing...

We are working on getting ready for this new little one.  Working on getting a place for the playpen set up (we have a different bedroom than we did last time we had a baby, so it means working out all of those details again!)...finding a place to put the birthing tub...still going strong with school and therapy...working on going through lots of things to get rid of what we no longer need, or do not use often enough to justify the space for it.

With a carseat ready to go, receiving blankets and baby clothes washed and ready, the play pen pulled out and cleaned up, we really could be ready anytime now to welcome this precious baby into loving arms...and at 3 1/2 cm and 80% effaced, as of 8 days ago, it could be a reality at any time!  (On one hand, I am excited to meet this little one, on the other, I really would like to get another 2-3 weeks of therapy and school done before he arrives - not to mention finish getting ready for him, and letting him have the time to grow and mature more!)

There are still a few loose ends to tie up...like what to do and where to give birth when if I go into labor during the day (which my midwife ways is unlikely anyway)...having everyone around, and needing basic things, and me being unable to attend to those needs as labor progresses...and the older 3 or 4 want to be present for the birth, making them unavailable as well...it is just a better scenario to me if I go into labor in the evening and have the baby at night!

We praise and thank God for bringing us to this point in this pregnancy, for getting us further than all 4 of our preemies, and so close to term.  We are thankful for each day that this baby stays on the inside.  What an honor it is (even in a hard pregnancy) to be used by God to bring forth new life.  I do not take for granted the privilege and miracle that each new life is...this baby is an eternal being, who is being knit together right now, in my womb, in the image and likeness of Almighty God, for the purpose of bringing honor to God's name.  And I get to have this small role or carrying this baby as long as God continues this pregnancy!  I repent that at one point, I considered this to be an inconvenience and a bother...and thank God for His mercy to show me just how wrong and selfish I was and what His heart is towards children!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

As a little girl, I didn't have an example of a father at all, let alone a good father.

I am so blessed by my husband, who is truly the best father I could have ever dreamed of having for my children!  He is such a caring, hands on Daddy, who lovingly corrects his children and encourages them towards righteousness.  He is a wonderful example of Christ to all of us!

What a blessing to have a husband who truly love to spend time with his family, is our priest, prophet, provider and protector.  Who leads us in God's ways, is such an encourager and demonstrates what it means to serve his family, just as Christ served the church.

Happy Father's Day, my Love!  I praise and thank God for you every day.  I am honored to be your wife, and blessed to be the mother of your children.  Thank you so much for all that you do for us!  I pray that we are able to bless you today!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

On the lighter side

The last couple posts have been more serious, and I thought we needed something on the lighter side today...Here are some pics from the last few days that haven't made it in other posts.

The new bath toys were just too tempting
not to climb into the tub!

Bailey and Seren getting ready for the
piano recital.

Callie all dressed up, ready for the piano
recital.

A slight miscalculation, and the bus had to be left on the side
of the road without fuel...since we had a birthday party
to prepare for, we opted to go home while my wonderful
husband got it up and running again!

A diesel isn't as easy to fix after running out of fuel as a gas
vehicle...I am so thankful for a wonderful husband who is so
capable of fixing such things!

Bailey and Anna being presented awards at their piano recital.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Pregnancy numbers...and the 'big question'

Running the numbers...because that is how my brain works!0

We are now:
15 days beyond when Callie was born.
4 days beyond when Brianna was born.

We have just:
10 days to get to when the twins were born.
23 days to get to when Justice was born.
29 days to get to when Serenity was born.
34 days to get to when Ashley was born - and this is the furthest I have ever made it in any pregnancy!

In the next:
5 days, baby will likely start making enough surfactant to be able to breathe room air on his own.
12 days, and baby will be ready to process some billirubin from his system.
26 days and my midwife will deliver us at home.

Each day is still really important for this little person, but each day, he is that much stronger, bigger, and more ready for life outside the protective environment of my womb.

I am looking forward to going to my next midwife appointment and discussing such things as what she wants us to have in our birth kit, and if she has a birthing tub to rent, or if we need to get one on our own. 

We really are getting to the end of this pregnancy, and to a point when it is ok for this little guy to come out and meet his family!  I am looking forward to having a tiny newborn again, and to watch my older ones with him.  He is already such a blessing from God to our family!  We look forward to getting to know this tiny person that God is knitting together in my womb!

Praising God for getting us this far, for sustaining us through this difficult pregnancy, and for being our fortress in times of trouble that we are able to run to!

I have been asked by several people if we will continue to trust God with our fertility or if, because of how difficult this pregnancy has been for me, or because J now has a brother, we will do something different.  That seems to be the big question that many want to know...I have answered several of those questions privately, but I have had it enough times, that I will also answer publicly, on the blog...

This is an easy answer for us!  Some pregnancies are just easier than others.  They are all so different, Serenity's was one of my very easiest, while this one (and J's!) was (were) among my hardest.  Whether the pregnancy is easy, or hard, each baby is a blessing, a heritage, and a reward from God.  Each baby has a plan and a purpose.  We will continue to trust God wholeheartedly, to bring to our family the children that He would choose for us to have...and we will enjoy our children and family along this journey of life! 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

"Our Big Happy Family"

I saw the title of this post in a magazine layout that showed a picture of a new mom and new dad (who are engaged, not married), and their newborn baby girl - their first, individually and collectively.

It made me think and reminisce on our own journey to having a bigger than average family...What happened to big families in America?  Where have they gone?  Since when does adding ONE baby to the family make that a "big family?"
I remember when I only had 2 (never really had just one, since I started with twins).  I remember thinking how overwhelming things were at times, and how hard the pregnancy was...I remember thinking and feeling TOTALLY ready to be D.O.N.E. having children ever.  After all, I already had 2.  We had miscarried a set of twins before them, and at the time, there was no way I wanted to have 4...

But God has a way of changing things.  Over the next couple of years, we thought about adding another baby to the mix.  I am slightly OCD about numbers, so we even talked about needing to have an even number...if we had twins again, great, that's 4.  But if we didn't, then we would 'have' to try again to have 4...I am also ok with 5 though, so if we had twins that 'last time' I would be ok with that, too.  We actually talked through all this!

It took us awhile to get pregnant, but finally, God blessed us with Ashley.  Then with Brianna, 14 months later.  I did not handle Brianna's birth well.  I always felt torn.  She was 8 weeks early (and very unexpectedly so as Ashley had made it to 38 weeks).  I felt like I needed to be with my tiny, defenseless baby in the hospital, but also with my babies at home.  The twins were just 4 1/2, and Ashley was 14 months old when Brianna was born.

During times when I couldn't be at the hospital with Brianna, I couldn't talk about her much...and I certainly couldn't call the hospital and talk with the nurses about how she was doing without breaking into tears...so I made Chris call for me - because I also wanted to know how she was!

Every time Chris looked at me, it seemed, I was in tears again.  I think all of this solidified in his mind that going through with the vasectomy was the right thing to do.  During Brianna's pregnancy, I went through Debi Pearl's book, Created to be His Help meet.  Wow...I had been so wrong about what marriage was supposed to be.  I had been so wrong about my role in marriage, about Chris' role in marriage, and about the purpose of family.  Right after that study, I went through Nancy Campbell's The Power Of Motherhood study...again, it was a WOW moment for me!  I had NO idea the importance of my role as a mother, and the significance God placed on motherhood.  I had no idea that God called barrenness a CURSE, and children the greatest blessing he can bestow.  I had no idea that God said so much about children in the Bible, they are a heritage, a REWARD, a blessing, precious little lambs, arrows in the hands of a mighty warrior and so much more.

By the time Chris' vasectomy time came, I didn't want him to do it.  I appealed to him twice to not go through with it (though he says he doesn't remember the first time).  The 2nd time was on the day of his procedure and he said it was too late to not go through with it at that point because it was the day of.

I remember how I felt that day...but I will not go into that here, but it was a horrible, hopeless kind of feeling...

It wasn't for 6 months that we talked about it...and realized that we were both ok with the idea of having more children.

Chris' reversal was scheduled for 1 year to the day after his vasectomy.  But again, we had to wait on God's timing.  I remember people's reactions to both the reversal and our next pregnancy (Callie).  WHY? was the big question it seemed.  After all, the doctors had told us after Brianna that we were at risk for going earlier and earlier with each baby from that point on, and we already had 4 healthy girls...so why would we tempt God or fate...why would we put a baby at risk like that?

Really the answers to these questions are found in God's word...that these children are eternal beings, fearfully and wonderfully knit together in my womb.  God has a plan and a purpose for each of them, and His word says that HE is the one who opens and closes the womb...God says that they are a blessing and a reward and calls the man whose quiver is full of them blessed!

Also about the same time as Chris' reversal, I had some very serious health issues...caused by my not stopping bleeding after Brianna's birth, more than 15 months earlier.  The doctors were convinced it was a 'hormonal imbalance' due to having 'so many children.'  They said the answer was birth control pills (bcp).  I refused the first time I went in, in February, I believe it was...but by October, I was really getting worn down.  My iron stores were gone, I was losing too much blood, and even fainted on a few occations, which said I needed to do something.  The doctors repeated the same thing, but said if I didn't go on them, I would need a blood transfussion in the hospital...so I went on bcp (mind you, Chris had just had his reversal the month before).  They also said it would be dangerous for me to ever have any more children.  I asked if there was anything, even something obscure that could cause this kind of bleeding, they said no.  They put me on HIGH doses of birth control pills (4/day)...which resulted in me having blood clots form, which brought us to the point of a pulminary embolism by the end of November.  At this point, I was told getting pregnant would give ME a 50% chance of survival, because I am 'obviously prone to clotting' even though all the tests said I wasn't. After Callie was conceived, my OB refused to work with me.  This helped to set the stage for many of the comments we got...such as "God wants for us to use the brains he gave us in such matters."  The bleeding was caused by a pulup, which is fairly common, and just needs a D&C to get it taken care of, so all of that could have been avoided...There was a good chance that I wasn't going to survive the pulminary embolism...But I did, by God's grace, because He wasn't done with me yet!


Then Callie was born...NINE weeks early.  10 days earlier than Brianna.  She seemed so weak and frail and tiny...there were a lot of comments of 'I told you so' and 'see?  The doctors were right.'


We didn't know the extent of Callie's disabilities until after Justice was born.  We thought she was developmentally delayed due to prematurity and needed some extra time and help to catch up.  I remember the relief of J making it to 36 weeks and 4 days.

Soon after he was born, we found out that Callie had cp...then there were more comments of 'see?  You tempted God.' and 'You should have quit while you were ahead.'

It was an emotional time for me especially.  A time of learning to trust God.  Me, who never thought I could handle having a disabled child, who thought that 'God knows I can't handle a child with disabilities' and naively thought God therefore wouldn't give me one...

It was also a time of learning the value of life.  You see, to the outside world, they look at Callie and see a drain on society and/or a wasted life.  They do not see how special and how precious she is.  They ONLY see her disability, what she can't do, and how much help she will need over her lifetime.  But Callie is not defined by her disability.  She is defined by her strength of character.  And she has such drive, determination, perseverance, and pure JOY that is beyond what I have seen in many others!  She understands the value of hard work!

Even Callie's physical therapist, who was a Christian, asked if we had known about her disability, would we have had another and would we continue to trust God now that we know she has a life long disability.  I knew the 'right' answer to give - that Yes, we would trust God and continue with what we feel strongly He wants us to do.  It took me awhile to FEEL that was the right answer...but I knew it to be even then.

Serenity came along and she made it to 37 weeks.  I began with Justice to look into naturalpathic things to help us get further into pregnancies, and with Serenity, I worked with a midwife, who was a wealth of information on how to make it even further!
I am again working with a midwife (a different one this time as the one who delivered Seren has retired).  I am already further along than I made it with Callie and Brianna.  And we are just 11 days from when the twins were born.
Had we stopped at four, which the world already considers to be 'over the edge' we would have missed out on countless blessings!  This baby will give us as many reversal babies as we had pre-vasectomy babies.  What a precious blessing it is watch each of their unique talents and abilities thrive, just as it is to watch them improve and work on their own individual weaknesses.  It truly is a reward!  What an honor it is, even in what I believe to be my hardest ever pregnancy, to be used by Almighty God to bring forth a new life, an eternal being.  What a gift to get to feel this little person moving around in my womb while God is knitting him together.  What a miracle that God would entrust these precious, eternal souls to our care.  What a responsibility it is to know that I will be held accountable for how I raise and train them up in God's ways...and if I fail at this, it would be better for me to have a millstone tied around my neck and to be thrown into the sea...

As for my opinion on family size, I consider 3 or fewer children to be a small family - you can still fit in a compact car!  From about 4, the point when comments *really* start to 7 is a medium sized family, and from about 8 children on, when you now have double digits to count the total number of children to be a big family.  (So we almost have a big family!)

When leaving fertility in God's hands, I have known people who remain childless, or only have 1 or 2, I have also known those who have 15 children...it is God who opens and closes the womb.  He is the one who gives and takes away.  He is the one who provides.  He has a plan and a purpose for each family.  To trust God in this area means to also praise him whether you have many or few children.  For me, it has actually been easier to trust God post-reversal while not waiting for a baby, while I am expecting or have a tiny one...it wasn't until between Seren and this baby that I really felt a peace either way on waiting for God's timing.  I am still a work in progress.  I certainly am not a perfect mother, or even a good mother at times, but God is working on my selfish tendencies, which is ultimately why we wanted to prevent children in years past.  We wanted time for ourselves, more money to spend on ourselves, freedom to do what we wanted when we wanted.  With each baby, I have to die to myself more and more...being willing to lose sleep, care for a child's needs, show this baby God's ways, and I have another set of eyes, with each baby, watching me living out my Christianity before them, on both good days and bad days.

I feel so honored and blessed by the children God has given me.  I love getting to spend my days with them.  I look forward to seeing how He will use them in the future.  And I welcome as many as God would choose to give me!

They did it again...

They caught a rabbit.



Only this time, this bunny is not so tame...

Not sure what we will do with it...for now, we are glad it is no longer eating the garden!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Piano Recital

I am so proud of all of my big girls!  They did a beautiful job at their recital.  The difference in their playing from last year to this is amazing.  And to look at what Brianna has done in her first year of lessons is equally impressive!

Brianna


Ashley






Bailey





Anna




Happy Birthday, Ashley, Brianna and Justice!

Here is dinner all set up for everyone to come through the line.

Most of the children sitting around the table
J really liked his cake!






And yet, when asked what piece he wanted...he chose part
of the castle cake, lol!

Present time!
J got super excited with his first gift...







Ashley and Brianna meticulously looked at each item,
and really enjoyed their party!

Anna enjoyed the new foster baby the Stetsons
brought with them!

Then we loaded up in vehicles to go play here!

Even though they had all the bounce equipment, J kept
coming back to this little road/train set.


J was able to do everything there!

Everyone seemed to have a blast!


But Callie stole the show!  She worked and
worked and pulled herself (with several slips
and falls) all the way up this slide.

So she could slide down several times!





Seren was very tired, and this was more her speed tonight!
To each of you who were able to come, thank you so much for making Ashley, Brianna and Justice's birthday special and memorable!

Wow

What a day we have had!  We started out with piano recital, then came home to get ready for the summer birthday party...only to run out of gas, putting us a little later than anticipated getting home.  We put the little 4 down for naps...which didn't work out because people kept running into the house saying exciting things like, "Mom!  Mom!  We caught a bunny!" and "AAAAH, Steak is gone, we have no cows!"  Despite all of these things, the younger 4 were able to get a (late and shorter than I would have liked) surprisingly adequate nap, we were able to finish getting the house ready, finish prepping food, and we had an hour to spare before people arrived!

If I had more energy at this point I would make this an interesting post with pics and video...of which I have a lot to choose from - which is why it would take more energy than I currently have to go through them all!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Cake Time!

Tomorrow we will have a party to celebrate the birth and life of Ashley, Brianna and Justice, our summer time birthdays.  So today has been spent cleaning house, wrapping presents and getting cakes ready to go.  The girls wanted a castle cake, and J wanted a train.  I think they came out very well this time!



But that is not all tomorrow will bring as we start off the day with a piano recital for the older 4, come home to change clothes and decorate the house, (and hopefully our little ones will nap well!) and THEN we get to have the birthday party!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A craft night with big girls

The twins and Ashley actually do fairly well on busy days...since they don't take naps, nor do they need them, they are able to keep going!

Tonight, it was an early bedtime for all 4 of the little ones due to inadequate naps and lots of activity!

So after the younger ones went down, I taught the older 3 how to put decorative beads on socks.  They are all especially fast learners when it comes to a new craft!






From the left, Anna's pair, Bailey's sock, Ashley's sock, and
my nearly completed pair (for Serenity).
Anna was the only one able to get a whole pair done, as I let them stay up until Ashley finished one sock... but in my mind it is no wonder when she is crocheting things like this without any kind of pattern!  These are Bob and Larry pot holders, (from Veggie Tales), that Anna is going to enter into the Evergreen State Fair.


My girls amaze me at what they can do!  I am so proud of their accomplishments, but even more than that, I am proud of their loving, compassionate spirits.  They are hoping to get an Etsy shop up and running, and want to give at least 50% of the proceeds to Samaritan's Purse to help those in need!  Bailey already sold some red/white and blue pot holders and made $30.  She gave $20 to this charity.

A busy, fun day out!

Before today, it had actually been a week and a half since the bus has gone anywhere at all  I think everyone was ready to get out of the house for awhile!


After learning my midwife appointment was canceled,
We went to Dick's for lunch.

Serenity found her shadow today!  It was so much fun to
watch her interact with it...she would walk a few steps,
while watching it, then try to stomp on it...then squat
down to see it closer...she kept following it off the path though!

This is one of my favorite toddler outfits that we still have
from when the twins were young!

After all the rain for the last several days, (are we into weeks
yet?) everyone was glad to get out and run at the park!



It can be a challenge these days to get a good pic of
everyone together!
 Then it was off to Walmart and Ben Franklin where we got some craft supplies - more on that in the next post!

I took J for a birthday haircut.


While he liked parts of it, he wasn't so sure about most of it!

His hair really turned out cute, but my camera died, so I need to get a better pic of it!
We grabbed dinner on our way home...where we did our best to finish school and therapy...and get overtired, worn out little people into bed!

Then I got to spend a wonderful evening crafting, and teaching a craft to my big girls - but that is the next post!