Thursday, December 18, 2014

Must be a twin thing

Sarah saw this photo and asked me which one was her.  That must be a twin thing.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

6 x 2

This is six.

 Times two.

Six is goofy.

Six is silly.

Because everything is funny when you have a twin brother around.

These boys keep me on my toes and crack me up.  They crack each other up too, obviously.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

The Firstborn

At times in this crazy journey that is parenthood I've had 4 kids under age four, 6 kids under six, or 8 kids under twelve.  I've had two or three or five kids in diapers.  I've breastfed 4 little ones at the same time.  (Well, not exactly at the same time... they took turns in pairs, obviously.)  I have a van full of car seats and yet I still remember what life was like with "just" one.

A few days ago I looked sincerely into the store clerk's eyes as she rang up my purchase and I told her how hard it was with one child.  It was.  I remember the fear that overcame me as I buckled tiny, newborn Matthew into his car seat twelve years ago.  I remember wincing with every bump in the road as I huddled over his seat in the back of the car, sure that he'd break if we didn't drive more slowly, while Jason took us home for the first time.  I remember spending my nights awake, watching him breathe, afraid to sleep for fear that something would happen to him.  I remember being shocked and scared that I was allowed to take this baby home, that I was responsible for his LIFE.  I remember the awful adjustment to sleepness nights, the awkward moments of breastmilk soaking through my shirt at work, the pain of leaving my baby, the overwhelming responsibility, and the realization that I was somebody's mother.  We survived potty training, weaning, and the toddler years.  He learned how to walk and talk and I learned how to let go a little bit.  I taught him to read and write.  He taught me to trust in my own instincts and accept my imperfections.  We both learned from our mistakes.  We both grew up.  And here we are, 12 years later, and I remember how HARD it has been sometimes but I am so grateful for this experience together.

Twelve wonderful, challenging, beautiful years...

Friday, December 05, 2014

Where I'm At

I have really been struggling lately, in all areas of my life.  I find myself composing lengthy blog posts in my head but then can't make myself write them down.  There is so much that I want to say and yet I'm not sure I really want to say it.  One day I do hope to turn my writings into a book and I know that I will want to remember the good and the bad and just how hard and beautiful and scary life can be sometimes.  I'm working on it.  Working on being honest, yet staying positive.

We just returned from a trip to visit family for Thanksgiving and I'm still working on unpacking all of the literal and figurative baggage that comes along with it.

And so here I am... a challenging week that began with Seven's second birthday and culminated in our 9-foot Christmas tree crashing to the floor in a violent shattering of glass this morning.  One cup of coffee into the day and I am ready to crawl back in bed.  I'm feeling both grateful and disappointed today and that's such a weird place to be sometimes.

The big kids came down with a very minor sore throat this week and I could feel pressure building in my "good" ear.  The pain grew until my eardrum finally ruptured two nights ago.  In a rare care of prefect timing, I had my surgical consult with the ENT the following morning to discuss the plan for my other ear and repairing that hole.  It seems quite certain that my dizziness has all been from permanent damage to my inner ear.  Now that my other eardrum has a hole too, I am actually pain-free and less dizzy.  I can't help but be thankful that none of my children have ever had an ear infection.  (Breastfeeding FTW!)

I let myself get behind in school this semester and then stupidly planned to get caught up when we were back in northern VA for Thanksgiving.  Of course I didn't even open my books and now I'm completely overwhelmed at the amount of work left before me and the short numbers of days left until the semester ends.

Seven turned two on Sunday and I have so much to say about that but she really deserves her own blog post.  She is a pretty awesome little girl.

Violet turned 3 months old on Monday and I'm still amazed.  She is the most laid back baby and is just completely content.  I whisper in her ear and tell her that she's perfect.  It's true.

I realized that I never shared the beautiful photos that my friend at Blue Sky Photography took after Violet was born.  So here are a few shots of my sweet Violet...

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Violet's Birth

August 14th came and went and there were no signs of baby.  Throughout this pregnancy I had told everyone that baby would arrive at the end of August.  I fully anticipated going to 42 weeks again.  The kids took bets on when baby would be born.  Most of my babies came at the end of the month (one on the 27th, two on the 28th, and two on the 30th) so we hoped that we might have a baby on August 29th or 31st.  No such luck.  When August ended, I was frustrated and really starting to feel impatient.  

On September 1st, I woke up to a mild crampy feeling and some pressure.  A friend texted me at 9:32 AM and said, "it's Labor Day!"  My response?  "Hopefully that means labor for me!"

I soon realized that the constant crampiness and pressure was exactly what I felt the morning before Seven was born.  By 10:02 AM I texted my friend to tell her that I was feeling constant cramps/pressure but no contractions and that I thought this was how it started with Amelia.  Sure enough, at 10:30 AM it became clear when I went to the bathroom and saw bloody show.  That was exactly the same as the day that Amelia arrived.  I texted my friend back, "definitely baby day."

I was relieved that Jason had the day off and was home to help with the kids.  I had breakfast, nursed Amelia, and started setting up the birth pool.  I was certain that baby would be coming.  I was hopeful that things would kick in soon but Baby #8 had been persistently posterior, so I knew I needed to be patient.  I rested in bed for a bit and then took a warm bath.  I figured labor would kick in when the kids went to bed that night.

I spent the day trying to get baby into a good position.  Jason used the rebozo and I crawled around on the floor on my hands and knees.  I did some of those inversions on the edge of the bed that I'd tried desperately during my labor with Seven.  Finally, I decided to fill up the birth pool.  By then it was early evening and I just wanted things to pick up.  They did.

I got into the pool for a bit.  Another friend texted me to check in and I let her know that it was probably baby day.  At 5:02 PM I told her that I'd let her know when things started to pick up so she could come over if she wanted.  Within a couple of hours, things got crazy.  I got in and out the pool a few times to use the bathroom, change positions, and walk around.  I really didn't leave my bathroom much after that point. 

I checked myself and I wasn't any more dilated than I had been a few weeks earlier.  My cervix was still posterior.  I was frustrated and didn't want to push out another posterior baby.  By 8 PM labor had really started.  I began having frequent, strong contractions.  I had Jason and the kids bring me something to drink and get the towels and supplies ready.  I was still texting back and forth with my friends but was starting to feel more serious.  This was it.

At 8:34 PM, I still wasn't any more dilated but my cervix had started to swell a bit in the front and was still very posterior.  I tried the "flip the lip" trick, which was made so much easier being in the water.  Things were sort of a blur after that.  I was starting to worry about my cervix swelling.  

At 9:16 PM, I decided I was DONE.  I announced it to anyone who would listen.  Thankfully, Jason knew that this meant baby was coming soon.  I did the same thing I did with my other homebirths... I tried to talk Jason into taking me to the hospital for my epidural!  Thankfully, he never listens or we'd have a lot of babies being born in our van.

My friend headed over to my house and arrived around 9:45 PM.  Just before she walked in the door, I broke my water.  I have some lingering guilt about this because I strongly believe in letting labor happen naturally and I'm not a fan of unnecessary interventions.  But I was DONE. I wasn't completely dilated but I could feel that baby's head was moving down.  I don't know why I did it, but I pinched the amniotic sac until it broke.  It took quite a few tries.  

Immediately, I felt the urge to push.  My friend came in and sat next to the pool.  I wanted Jason to hold my hand, unlike my previous births when I really didn't want to be touched and wanted to be left alone.  He later told me that I squeezed his hand pretty hard.  I had my friend gather up the kids and I soon had a crowd in the bathroom.  All seven kids, Jason, my friend, and my friend's teenage daughter watched as Baby #8 joined our family.

There was a strange moment when I pushed out the baby's head but her body turned and rotated inside me.  It was painful and I shouted "what is it doing?"  Then, relief.  Baby slid out into the water at 10:26 PM.  I caught her, untangled her from her cord that was wrapped all around her, and lifted her from the water.  She was covered in vernix and didn't look like a baby that was 18 days "overdue."  

We have some great video of the birth but the only still photos were on my cell phone, just after the birth.  Jason proudly proclaimed that Baby #8 was another girl as I lifted her from the water.  Just like with Amelia, I hadn't even thought to check the gender yet.  There were squeals of excitement from the kids as they learned they had a new baby sister.

Violet Isabelle
September 1, 2014
10:26 pm
9 lbs, 9 oz
22 inches

I birthed the placenta and got out of the pool and into my comfy bed.  I nursed my sweet baby for the first time and let family and friends know that she had arrived.  I've never felt so great after giving birth.  No soreness, no tears, no terrible afterpains!  It was wonderful.

We did a much better job at naming this last baby.  It took 3 days, not 3 weeks.  Violet wasn't on either of our name lists.  I wanted another name that ended in "a" or "ah."  Instead, Violet was the name that we both loved and Isabelle was Jason's choice for her middle name.  Anyone who knows me won't be surprised that I picked the name Violet, considering my fondness for all things purple.  I'm actually surprised it took me this long to use that name.

My sweet Violet looks a lot like her big sister Amelia.  And she is very loved by a bunch of big brothers and sisters.  She's obviously the youngest of eight because this girl can sleep through almost anything.  We are so blessed!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Coming back soon...

I'm finishing up Violet's birth story and I'll share it soon.  Her birth was very much like Seven's birth.

I'm also working on that post about tongue tie that I promised so long ago.  (Yes, Violet was born with a tongue tie too!)

We have been busy enjoying our new addition, visiting the Georgia mountains, keeping up with school (theirs and mine) and making new friends here.

I'll be back soon!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Baby Eight!

After my longest pregnancy that felt like it would never result in a baby, I finally went into labor on Labor Day.  I guess eighth babies like to be unpredictable.  While I was pretty sure I'd hit the 42 week mark again, I never even considered that this baby might not arrive in August!  At 42 weeks and 4 days, my September baby arrived... just 3 days before Nathan and Ryan's birthday.

I had another VBA2C and this sweet babe was born in the water, in my bathroom.  Just like Seven.

We have a sweet baby GIRL!  Just like Seven.

She weighed 9 lbs, 9 oz.  Just like Seven.

And she's got a head full of black hair and squishy cheeks.  Just like Seven.

Seven loves her but is also willing to give her sister away when she's annoyed.  Seven is not thrilled about sharing milk but will tolerate it because Mommy insists.  You could say there's a teensy bit of jealousy.

We are all thrilled to have another baby girl in the house.  I'm excited for Amelia to have a sister close in age and I'm sure these two little girls will end up being best friends.

We are doing well and this sweet girl is such a joy.  She does have a tongue tie/lip tie that will be revised soon but otherwise things have been pretty great.  I still can't believe she's finally here!

I am also pleased to announce that we were able to name this baby girl in just over 3 days.  That's a major improvement over the 3+ weeks it took us to name Amelia.  We ended up choosing a name that was not on either of our lists but just seemed to fit her perfectly...

Violet Isabelle
September 1, 2014
10:26 pm
9 lbs, 9 oz
22 inches 

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