Life With Nine Kids

Saturday, October 31, 2015

40 weeks (actually 39) Happy Halloween!

Last Saturday I was 39 weeks pregnant and I took these pictures just in case baby came before Oct 31, 2015. I had planned on taking them on Halloween but last weekend it was so pretty out and these vibrant orange trees were rocking fall colors near our house. That's why due dates are just guess dates, I could have actually been 40 weeks! :) EDD are not spot on, they are based on averages. Fortunately, I didn't wait to take these pictures until today as I had planned. (It's also cold and not sunny today.) Unfortunately though, we didn't do the belly cast on time. We were tempted when I was in labor, but seriously that won't work and would be impossibly uncomfortable. I am pretty bummed about it. This past two weeks that I thought about doing it I told myself that if it gets done it will get done, if not that's okay too... I was being greedy and waiting for a bigger belly cast by waiting! Haha!
Well it turns out I did care about not getting it done. Bummer! But, at least I have this self-done photo shoot! Fall is our favorite time of year! 

I kinda can't believe I'm actually sitting here posting this with my little pumpkin on the outside now! I'm actually more blown away now, three days later, than the day she was born. How fun! 
(But tiring given we are now carving pumpkins with the kids indoors and with a newborn!) 
Thank goodness we went to a Trunk or Treat last week and a big homeschool Halloween party. The kids are actually fine with staying in tonight and having a family pizza and ice cream party with old monster movies and some festive last minute Halloween games! (Forecast calls for rain tonight too.)

Happy Halloween Everyone!

 (We did group kid photos a day later so Ricky missed the family one above. We will try again with the new baby if we get a nice day and the leaves stay!)

Friday, October 30, 2015

New Baby Number Nine!

 Our New Baby! 
October 28, 2015 11:21pm 7lbs 1oz
(Am I good at these gender prediction dreams or what!?)

Day 1 October 29, 2015
We have a small cold floating around the house (no fevers thank goodness). Ricky's every bit as exhausted as me but with a sinus headache. The timing is not ideal, but we are all still in love and enjoying her every moment. You never, ever get that first newborn day back! Everyone age 11 and under woke up last night at some point and saw the baby and couldn't get back to sleep. We were up and down all night with various kids and a newborn. The various reactions of the kids were amazing and great. I will write about that with the birth story. The new baby fussed a lot last night and seemed uncomfortable her first eight hours. She nursed okay but got the real hang of it during the day. It's always  a marvel that they know what to do, or at least what to try to do in order to latch on. She loved being skin to skin with both mom and dad; she didn't really settle down until we put her on our bare chests as we took turns with her. I had her partly skin to skin, but once I took the blanket off her completely she was much happier. After she was about eight hours old she was super cozy, happy, nursing and sleeping/ waking in perfect intervals, and calm. She likes to swaddle in a loose wrap but gets too warm easily and wants her hands near her chin and face most of the time. I knew her hands were by her face in the womb. I could feel them constantly and I kept feeling that her head was probably not in an optimal position either. Her labor and birth proved I was right, it was okay but certainly not super optimal/easy. I love learning about new babies! You know so much so quickly about them. Just a day old and I know so much about her preferences already. People are such unique individuals, and babies are people too!

I had a good nap during the day today and I have been good about not being on my feet for more than 30 min at a time. I am trying a 2-3 hr break for every 30 min that I get up and about. I have been sore, a bit more than usual, mostly in a crampy way. I have felt like a postpartum woman more this time around. All births and postpartum experiences are different! I feel a bit like a new mother this time. I find myself wondering how new moms do it. I have done this before, I know what to do, what is coming, what I can expect. So in those aspects it is easier. I am currently feeling aware and in awe at mothers in general... what we do and how we do it. Having a toddler and a newborn again is so life changing...but I've done it many, many times. I suddenly can't imagine being a new and less experienced mom and feeling this tired, this stretched to her limit, all while healing, and going through all the changes in general. So overlooked are the little things that can wear on you greatly: getting up during the night, changing the newborn, using the bathroom/ changing your pad, dealing with pain, cleaning up soiled blankets, sheets, pajamas, and all while juggling a waking toddler and nursing a newborn. It can be so exhausting. (Even with the help from my supportive husband.) New moms are so amazing. Nursing can be hard, juggling toddlers and other kids can be hard, the lack of sleep can be hard, the healing can be hard (c section moms are heroes). I'm finding myself in awe at women who embark on this brave and selfless journey. How ever do we do it? We are so amazing!

After writing the above I saved the draft for later and opened up an enchanting book of poetry my friend wrote called Earthprayer, Birthprayer, Lifeprayer, Womanprayer. So fittingly this was the first poem I randomly opened to:

Prayer for Mothers 
The world needs you.
Sing your strengths,
dance your passions,
smile your successes.
Hug yourself with compassion
for your painful moments.
Take a second to drink it up
and to rest in powerful certainty
that you are enough.
Breathe out,
breathe in,
soft shoulders,
soft belly,
strong legs,
strong woman.
A mother who is seen,
who is heard,
who is appreciated,
who is valued.
In and out.
Mama, you’re amazing

I gave my family my usual 'I just had a baby' postpartum talk last night. This is where I explain just how important rest and help is for a new mom and how it could make ALL the difference with healing and breastfeeding, not to mention a happy and stable mother and baby unit. I also explained the placental site that is healing in my body and why rest and relaxation aids in healing and less blood loss. (At least the over six or seven year old crowd listens to me. Toddlers and preschoolers still act themselves lol.) Also, this is a good lesson in mothering biology!

I found myself in frustration over Everett's wildness several times. (Newly 5 years old...he can be intense, wild, not listen... you know, be a young kid.) After pleading with him to listen to me I finally told him that I had a baby come out of my vagina so he has to be nice to me so I can heal. I should really have a recording of the bizarre and hilarious things I tell my children. People tell me my older kids are such nice kids/teens, but perhaps they just know and fear that I'll say blunt stuff to them if they aren't good. Like, "Be nice to me, I just had a baby come out of my vagina." Hahaha. It worked though. He asked me about the baby coming out and I talked to him about it. For a moment it did get his attention and work.

We are recovering from a very, very busy fall season, a cold, and childbirth... I am focused on keeping our first few days as calm as possible. Not easy to do right now. Later on in the evening Everett cried and had a 30 min bedtime meltdown. He was over exhausted. This week is not how I imagined it at all! I am reminded so well right now that life is what happens when you are busy making plans! I was crazy busy and then bam baby came. I actually started to feel I wasn't going to make it until 40 weeks on Tuesday. Then by Wednesday night I had Ricky come home from work around 5:30 (instead of working late) because I felt like I did when Bea was born in 30 minutes. (A heavy, low baby head and super low, tight cervical contractions that felt super progressive.) We got all the kids to bed by 7:30 and I held off active labor (I think by sheer will power to get the kids ASLEEP lol) until around then. Things really picked up once they were asleep and I had her at 11:21pm. I'll type up her whole official story soon.

We'll give out more baby details soon in general. We like to get to know our babies before we name them. I'm always afraid we will change our minds and then have to tell everyone we changed it. We don't file a birth certificate right away, so we have a looong while to decide. The earliest we filed a birth certificate is two months and the latest 10 months. 

First night with baby. He is actually falling asleep sitting up with the baby. We were so tired! Dads deserve credit and love too, care-giving for mom and kids is hard work too.
Day 2 Morning October 30th 2015
What a difference a day makes. Ricky is feeling better and I am too. I am getting around comfortably and despite another long night of newborn fussing and Bea going to bed too late I feel pretty good. I know I still need to take it easy, but it was nice to move around this morning without cramping or feeling so wrung out. Beatrice is having fun but she is adjusting too. She misses my round belly and even told me to get it back. I thought this was going to happen. When she is tired she wants her daddy to hold the baby and not me. And she wants me back with the baby belly she loved to snuggle against... it's an adjustment. She is enjoying the baby though and is super cute telling her that she loves her so much! We have never had a toddler miss me so much as I cared for such a new baby, and this is only day two! Beatrice is a very sweet girl with a larger than life personality and her and I are close. She also gets loads of attention and love from everyone in the house.  I know we'll all get through this quickly. We must learn new routines and that's hard for every single one of us. The giant toddler morph has also occurred. Every day this past couple months Bea truly looked bigger and bigger to me, but it's nothing like when the newborn actually arrives! Giant Bea is here... she is just so heavy and big now. Since she is super articulate, bright, and verbal for her age it makes her seem all the older!
This little new baby has a mighty, mighty, wailing, screeching cry. Beatrice never cried so this is different. We seriously never heard Bea cry hardly ever at all! She would whimper and then get her needs met and she never cried. This little one is a screamer if we are not careful! She settles down fairly easily though. I am in awe at how loud this baby can get in no time at all. This may make night time a real challenge to keep Beatrice asleep if her baby sissy is a screamer! Today we used a swaddle me blanket on the new baby and it really helped settle her after nothing else worked. Beatrice loved them when she was a baby. I really believe the first few days or weeks sets the tone for the baby, so Ricky and I are trying to keep all the calm in the house we can! One really, really hard thing is that the baby wants to be held up, not really laying down with me. So the whole 'rest with baby' thing is non existent. She doesn't want me resting with her. She wants me sitting upright or walking with her. Little stinker. I think once milk comes in fully she will relax a lot. I think that is what she is waiting for. She is nursing like a champ and for hours on each side at a time. I am staying hydrated and eating lots of good food.  
Just now said in cute curious voice tones between the 5 and 2 year old as Beatrice is holding the baby:
Everett: Is the baby two yet?
Beatrice: Not yet!

Oh! And speaking of Everett, he does call the baby Blueberry. It is totally the name he chose and he continues to stick with! It's really cute. I was in bed with her when he tried to get into bed with us at 4am. When he saw I was holding a baby his tired eyes adjusted in the shadowy bedroom and I could see his bright blue eyes light up like stars. He smiled so huge and exclaimed in a quiet, surprised voice, "Blueberry is here!? Oh blueberry you came out!"  I told him that she was a girl and he was really happy she was a girl.

So much love ...

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Blessings for Birth and Motherhood

Support, laughter, love, sisterhood, friendship, being seen, being heard, being valued as a mother and woman...

Those are the things I was given at my most recent mother blessing. Some cherished old friends of mine, many driving from afar to be with me, threw me an impromptu mother blessing last week. Stars aligned and it just happened to work out with only three days notice for the five of us to get together! I dearly thank Molly, my long-time best friend, for throwing it together so last minute.

38.5 weeks baby-belly and counting... gathered together for sweet blessings for me and baby!
I originally had the background and playing baby-Tanner cropped out but decided I love my home and friend's baby taking up some of the photo. This is motherhood.
 A mother blessing is a celebration of new life, womanhood and motherhood all rolled into one fantastic, celebratory, inspirational, and often creative event. The focus is more on the transition into motherhood and is supportive in nature, rather than a baby shower which is thrown as a party with games and baby gifts. At a mother blessing support is offered in preparing the woman spiritually and emotionally for the event of childbirth and beyond. I was especially touched at the offering of support and acknowledgment after all these years, all these births, and all these kids. I was told that this baby matters and I matter. I was reminded and joyfully honored that each birth and each baby is unique, and I am transformed into a new mother with each one! I admit it is usually easier every time, because with experience we all tend to gain new knowledge and confidence, but I'm still a human being. I still carry a brand new life and will birth that life. I bring forth a brand new individual that will always be an individual, with individual needs that will be hard to meet sometimes. I'm still a woman and mother who is ever changing. This is my special journey. Each mothering journey is a new path carved in the labyrinth of my life. I appreciate the energy my mother blessing celebration took on in regards to that. I also appreciated the confidence others have in me and how they shared that. It's actually a great balance. It is easy to pass off a woman with nine kids as 'been there done that.' It is easy for me to pass off myself as being there and having done that. While that still may be partially true and inspiring, it's also true that life, birth, motherhood, and womanhood are all so much more complicated and sacred than that. I might be an old hat at this, but even old hats have to be cared for... maybe even more so, as my friend Molly eloquently pointed out to me. 

Having a small mother blessing provided a nice opportunity for a bit more chit chat and sharing than we usually have time for with a larger group, and it parred well with our usual ceremonial events. I had the most lovely, inspiring, uplifting afternoon! (I missed Charlotte, my oldest, who had to work that day. She had never missed a mother blessing of mine until now.)

Pampering rose petal herbal foot bath and friends' babies discovering the warm water. I was delighted at their joyful playing in the water. I actually thought to myself  'I feel so alive and inspired around babies, it's where I feel the most comfortable.' Sometimes we have kids at mother blessings and sometimes not, but we always have nursing babies! And look how sweet they are!

Labor/birth candle collage we made for me, an inspirational group craft.
 In the past we have done group projects like: jewelry, belly henna, wreaths, birth prayer flags, painted belly casts... the sky is the limit with the creativity!
Some of my motherful treasures! Pampering gifts of herbal teas, hand thrown pottery, sisterhood bath salts, seashells, motherhood dolls and trinkets, handmade with love items, a tea ball with charm, pampering oils and soaps.
A well loved mantra and song at many of our blessings, Woman am I, Spirit am I. Mother blessings can include creative crafts, a floral head wreath for the honorary mother, belly casting/painting/henna, gifts, stories, working through fears, prayers, blessings for baby and mom, songs, and lots and lots of friendship and support! (And a pot luck feast!)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Pregnancy Post 36 / 37 weeks

Bea (2) was hugging my belly and telling the baby she loves the baby:
Me: What do you think the baby's name is?
Beatrice: Baby's name my friend!
This child is seriously cute and sweet and obsessed with the baby in my belly. She asks to see the baby all of the time. She claims the baby can't see and lifts my shirt up. She closes her eyes and hugs my belly and nuzzles into my belly. She totally gets that there is a baby in there. She confirms with me the baby is growing still. She tells me the baby will nurse. She is just totally in love with my growing belly, the idea of the baby joining us, and he fact that this baby already has a place. At nap or bedtime she tells me she is sleeping or holding the baby and she cuddles right in. I've never quite seen anything like it. She is very, very sweet and very excited. Oh in fact, now she actually asked to 'lay down with baby' when she is tired. This means she wants me to lay with her in my bed and she wants to nap with me and the baby belly. haha. So cute!
Baby Dream
For months I have been waiting for The Baby Dream. This would be the gender prediction dream I have that so far has always, always, amazingly been correct! Even with Everett at one point I thought that maybe he might be a girl, but then I had a very prominent baby boy dream and I was sure after that he was really a boy. Penelope (9) has been waiting and asking for months about my baby dreams for this pregnancy! I told her there were no dreams and she reassured me that it would probably happen in October. 
In the meantime all three of my daughters and my sister Heather had dreams I was having a girl! I told Ricky I thought girl too but I hadn't had any real signs yet. On October 1st Penelope woke up and excitedly asked if I had the dream. It was so cute! But I still had not! As October got started up there were quiet nights and pretty boring dreams. This wiggly somewhat of a mystery baby has been camped out, stretching and outgrowing my womb day by day, bumping and thumping, twirling and whirling... but still inspiring no dreams.  Then sometime last night, in the dark hours of the best slumber there is (3-6 am) I had a dream! It was pretty realistic and had all the realistic features of past gender dreams I have had. Maybe it will be right or maybe wrong...but my track record is so good! In the dream I sat up on our bed and cradled a newborn baby in a soft blanket, I placed her on the bed and Ricky stood over us. He was doing something near the closet in our bedroom, but still he was over me. I got the sense that the baby was brand newly born and we had just moved into the bedroom from the bathroom. All wrapped up in a neutral colored gauzy blanket (I think grey) I gazed at the baby and asked Ricky if he had looked at what sex the baby was yet. He said no and I said I would look. In the dream I was prepared for a boy for some reason, thinking I bet we had a boy because I thought we would have a girl. And then there she was, a tiny perfect naked newborn girl. As I swaddled her back up I told Ricky I was so happy and that she was a girl. In the dream I said with a sense of completeness, "This is the way it is supposed to be."
A couple weeks after the dream I made check-ups for the kids in order to keep them established at our doctors office and decided to go ahead and make one for the new baby in the upcoming future. Making 11 appointments all at once is a long process. Our doctor's office has lots of large families (and homeschool families) so they are a little used to it, but it's still a circus making the appointments and getting everything straight. I have to write down everyone's birth dates in advance because I am bad under pressure on the fast quiz of birth years! That's right, I need a cheat sheet!

The office wanted/needed the new baby's name to input into the computer, or suggested I just call and schedule her appointment after the birth. I didn't want to schedule after the birth because I wanted a block of appointments together on the same day. They wouldn't use my suggestion of "new baby" as a first name. I thought it was a good idea and funny, but nope, that's not a name! So I gave them our main girl name we have picked. It felt oddly satisfying to use our girl name! And like I was telling a secret out loud. Perhaps this day I just tempted fate too much though!

The doctors office needed a birth date too. I tried my due date, but the computer had a problem with an in-the-future date. We ended up having to use a random October 20-something date. Obviously we can change it later.

I feel very at peace if this baby is a boy or a girl. So dear future baby reading this: we love you already no matter what you are and know you will be a perfect fit for this great big family of ours. We are all so excited to meet you! Even though I have done this so many times I can still hardly believe you are here to be with us! I can't believe I am a mother to so many sweet children! How is this my life?

37 weeks... I was all in the mood to take a picture of my HUGE belly and show everyone just how BIG I got over the past two weeks and then I looked at this photo and I'm like, eh... I'm small. Looking down at my own belly and trying to get out of bed I seem so much bigger. The baby is a wiggly one finally. He or she started out so quiet. Now feet and legs are busy and pokey as can be. I really love this stage.