Life With Nine Kids

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

When Babies Wean and Re-purposing an Ottoman

A New Bed for Beatrice
Beatrice was waking more and more at night as her co-sleeper got smaller and smaller for her growing baby self. I had a great idea suddenly. I re-purposed a large unused ottoman of ours that had storage inside of it and made it into a toddler bed! Beatrice got the bottom part and Everett the plush top part.

I feel like a genius, a free and cute bed! I lined it with lots of blankets for now but we could add a memory foam mattress pad later if needed. They LOVE their new beds in our room. Beatrice plays in her bed with her baby dolls and looks at books periodically during the day. It's SO cute! She is sleeping really well in her bed once we rock her to sleep in the evening. She has recently weaned (at 25ish months old). Gone so quickly are the care-free easy days of nursing to sleep...for both of us. I had been sadly counting down until I was to hit 20 weeks pregnant...because of nursing.  She was already nursing less and less naturally, but around 20 weeks pregnant seems the magic number my body tends to halt milk production altogether. She was on her way towards self-weaning and this of course progressed it. Some of my babies will keep on nursing through the milk decline and others stop completely. Both are hard life changing situations. If you have ever 'dry' nursed you know it's pretty awful and you start to go through a natural stage I call the mama cat stage... where you just don't want them nursing on you anymore. It's worse than fingernails on a chalkboard. Mama cats (and other mammals but mama cats I've watched) bite their young, growl, or walk away from their young when they don't want to nurse them anymore. I know the feeling! It's a very primal reaction and I am always so surprised how it feels. It's also so sad! She's my sweet baby! I don't want to growl at her! But that is what happens. I actually have made growling or frustrated sounds and felt like a mama cat wanting to get away. It's happened with the other kids too. My body just gets done, but my mind wishes it wasn't the end already. It's natural.

Weaning has been hard on her but not super hard. She mostly weaned herself thank goodness. But it's still a hard and different thing and a huge change for us both. Before things went totally dry she had gradually cut out all nursing except once at nap time, bed time, and sometimes at 4am. Once milk dried up she further cut out enough sessions that she eventually "forgot" how to nurse. This is natural and normal progression of weaning. She no longer sucks correctly which makes nursing super horrible and irritating for me and a bit confusing for her. She knows it was comfort and food. She knows it was warmth and love. She just doesn't understand why it's not the same. After a couple of minutes of awkward nursing she will usually ask for milk from the kitchen. If she doesn't stop on her own I have to make her stop nursing. Sometimes she willingly stops when I ask her to and other times she cries a little or a lot. Overall she has been my easiest to actually help wean. I had other babies hang on to the prospect of nursing, dry nurse, and cry and cry over the change. (Some started nursing again after a new baby came which was pretty sweet actually -though not without a new set of challenges.) Sebastian and Sage technically win the easiest and fastest weaning awards. They both just abruptly stopped one day and never wanted back on again. Not even out of comfort, habit, or when sick or hurt. Just pretty much like 'Thanks mom, nice to know ya! Bye now!" Interesting enough to later learn their personalities are VERY similar even now! (They are seven years apart in age.)

Starting about a month ago I became really grouchy, moody, tired, and felt so off. I was snappy at the kids and that is a huge red flag for me. Not just the normal stressed mom occasional snappy spell either... I mean it felt more like I was going to snap every 20 minutes and the kids seemed irritating/annoying to me over normal stuff. I was way less patient and dreading every day for a while. It's a "red flag" because I have learned that feeling that way often means my thyroid is under active. Also I felt depressy. Not fully depressed, but just kinda depressed and down. I take Armour thyroid so I had my blood drawn to check out my levels/dosage. The tests came back fine for the dosage I'm on. I later finally realized her big weaning transition coincided with this grouchy, moody, tired, "off" phase I was having. See: Sadness and Depression during (and after) Weaning at Kellymom.
Very interesting isn't it!?
I am feeling better now and Beatrice is too. She was also super cranky around the same time that I was. She of course wanted me to hold her a lot and I did. I told everyone in our house why she was cranky and that she needed extra love and patience but I didn't realize I needed that too! The acceptance period has now set in for the both of us. Her and I are finding new ways to snuggle and cuddle and we are learning new ways to soothe her when she is tired, hurt or upset. For a solid two years nursing was the cure-all for everything. Nursing is such a easy fix. It is amazing how fast nursing can solve problems. Tired, cranky, hungry, teething, hurt...it's the most magical thing. And now I have to pace the floor with her and actually get out of bed if she wakes up at 2 or 4 am. (So much more work ;) Overall though she is doing so great.
I don't feel sad, but if I think about how fast it went I can get sad real quick. She was such a fun, sweet nursing baby. She still is sweet and fun and my "baby." Look at her though: weaning, out of diapers, has a new bed, talking SO much, and has a new baby sister or brother on the way!

It's also quite natural that around this time I get a bit bummed that "I'm throwing her out of the nest." I started having the feelings that she is the baby and I want her to stay the baby.  True she won't be the youngest, but she's just two! She has not over welcomed her baby stay. She is still very much my baby. But, whether I like it or not she is growing up and is a big girl older baby now. A lot of women have guilt, sorrow, and fear about having another baby and "replacing" their baby with a fresher, newer model. Since I have done this many times this is what I have to say about that: Feel sad, afraid, overwhelmed, feel whatever you are feeling and just know those feelings will melt away and they are normal. Everything will be okay and you will love both babies the same and cuddle with them together and hold them together... and do motherful things you never thought physically or mentally possible with them. It is truly amazing what mothers do.

Beatrice has weaned completely since I started writing this post off and on for over a month. She is now falling asleep on the floor every night near us while we get the other kids ready for bed or while I read books to her. I move her into her own bed after she falls asleep and she sleeps all night! I am SO lucky! Not all babies/toddlers are this easy so quickly. I can't believe how many sleepless nights of toddler waking and weaning hardships I've had in the past years with other babies. I so deserve this break! Every child is different and their needs and personalities are too. I am enjoying sleeping ALL night long (most nights anyway) while it lasts!


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Family Photos With Kids

Getting everyone to look at the same time in a photo has been more challenging than ever lately, and by lately I mean for at least a year. Not every photo needs to be perfect, the quirky off beat ones are great too, but I really do love a "perfect" photo at least twice a year.

I have wanted to do one of those kids in a circle photos for quite a while but hadn't yet tried it. Stock photo example:

At the botanical gardens I see this way cool yin and yang rock mosaic. I gather everyone up and explain what kind of picture I have been wanting and how this would be a cool spot.
They agree to try...

I don't take into account how hard the ground is, or that I am asking them to basically lay on rocks, or that I have nothing to stand on to even take an overhead shot. Oops. The younger kids are in swimwear because they were playing in water. So not only can they not lay down well, I would also really prefer a clothed picture anyway.
Layla's face is hilarious and she wails in discomfort, not even facing the right way. Everett has enough and leaves. I can't get Beatrice to lay down at all, she ran away a long time ago. I tell everyone to get up and that it's not going to work...

Once we admit defeat and give up Beatrice finally comes and lays down. Of course. haha.

There is this amazing bridge in the Japanese Garden that would be amazing for any photo occasion...

This would have been almost perfect if I hadn't had to tell Sebastian (6) to stop waving his hands around ...just as Everett (4) said, "I'm going to jump." Bhahaha. If you knew Everett this is totally him. And he was pretty much totally serious about jumping.
Big brothers spring into action and tell Everett not to jump, trying to get him to look at the camera. Meanwhile I actually holler to them not to move and "Everett won't jump." Which is actually only a 50/50 shot. He could jump... lol.
Big brothers know better and hold onto Everett. The moment has passed, Everett wiggles, and we have now lost Beatrice's attention. I say, "Why did everyone move apart so much?" And Charlotte's (18) expression and shrug is just.so.priceless. I love this.You can tell with her body language she is thinking, "Mom you have eight kids that's why..." LOL.

Next we found some sheep...
And that's a wrap.



Wednesday, July 1, 2015

All Things With Faith and Love

When we were expecting baby Penelope (kiddo #5) Ricky was accepted into an intensive graduate program for finance at Washington University.

When we were expecting baby Sebastian Ricky graduated from the intensive graduate program and got his first job using his degree.

When we were expecting baby Everett Ricky changed jobs within the firm he worked for. He earned himself a position that was more fitting for him (but still not exactly what fit him best.) His new boss, who had six kids of his own, helped Ricky with his career in ways that we will always be truly thankful. He helped introduce him to people and recommend him to another department because he wanted to see Ricky use his full potential.

When we were expecting Baby Beatrice another job opportunity came along. Remarkably, his next new boss also had a large family...seven kids. Very fun to meet so many others with a large families.

We have joked that good things happen to us when we have babies. We have joked off and on over the years that we should just have another baby so he can further his career. We joked, and not really joked, because it is true. It kept happening. Remarkable things happen to us when we have babies. We grow as a family, as a couple, as parents, and in other ways. Everything aligns: faith, luck, hard work...it all seems to come together. As we began our journey to large family living I often heard other very large families with 10, 12, 14 kids say that God always provides. Over the years I started to understand what they meant.

We are expecting a new baby this fall, the ninth blessing to join our home and lives, and Ricky is yet AGAIN going through a transformational period in his life related to his career. Staying within same firm that has been such a blessing to our lives, he recently had an amazing career opportunity. He starts his "new" job today. He gives 100% of himself at work and 100% of himself to us at home and I am so very thankful every single day of my life for such a passionate and hardworking man. I love him so much and know how much he loves us because he shows me everyday. I am truly blessed. I hope the children read this someday and know that their mother and father truly do support, love, honor, and cherish each other everyday. I hope Ricky reads this and knows that I know how hard he works, and that he does it for us, and that I am grateful for his dedication. Some people have told me that we make having so many kids look easy. I know what they mean, because so often Ricky makes taking care of us look easy too. It's not so much that it's easy. He works very hard. I of course work very hard too. We both get worn down, we get stressed, we get tired...really tired. I suddenly realized one day that it's not that it's easy, it's that we do all things with faith and love.