All posts by blogabbie

CABINETS!

I know that I haven’t shared much about our new house process here lately. I’m sure you can’t possibly guess why, since I clearly have nothing else going on in my life right now.

Ahem.

But!

Even outside of the baby-feeding and cheek-kissing that is taking precedence over house blogging, there hasn’t been too much interesting to show. We’ve been making steady progress, and Shaun still spends every spare moment out there plugging away. But, even though sheetrock and garage doors are super exciting to me, they make for fairly lame blog fodder. We have sheet rock and garage doors now. Huzzah! Consider yourself updated.

But! (again)

Cabinets?

Now, that’sprogress.

And we have cabinets, people!

Custom cabinets throughout the house were an item on the “if we had our druthers” list that I had no idea whether it would happen. We knew we’d be using the same guy who did our kitchen cabinets in our current house. He does great work, is reasonably priced, willing to negotiate, and so easy to work with.  We were planning to use him for the kitchen again and for a mudroom with custom built-in wooden lockers.  But beyond that, it was more of a wish than a plan.

Thankfully, because we’re proceeding steadily but slowly–which means that Shaun is able to again do 95% of the work–we’ve saved so much money that we were able to present the list to our cabinet guy, get a quote back, do a little haggling, and get every last door and drawer we’d asked for.

We had him do:

  • the kitchen
  • the mudroom
  • the living room built-in shelving
  • a kitchenette upstairs
  • the laundry room
  • 3 bathroom vanities
  • built-in shelving in the master bedroom
  • a lingerie chest in the master closet

And guess what? They delivered all of those gorgeous pieces last week! They’re still working on finishing the installation, but it’s enough progress that I thought it might warrant a post.

Prepare yourself for a completely unedited picture dump (because if I take the time to edit, the baby’s going to wake up before I’m done, and I’ll never get this thing posted).

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Okay, so this is not cabinets, but I found this ah-mazing 100-year-old architectural salvage post for a great price on a local Facebook swap and thought I’d share. I honestly don’t know what it was in its former life, but I’m trying to figure out a way to make it our bottom stair newel. It’s just a wee bit massive, though, and doesn’t have a top, so I haven’t quite wrapped my brain around it. I will be using this bad boy (girl?), though, because it’s just too rad to sit in somebody’s garage.

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Thought y’all might appreciate a closeup of all of the intricate carving. If you have a brilliant idea for a topper, I’m all ears.

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Hooray for living room built-ins! I actually hadn’t intended for that long horizontal shelf to be at the top of the units, but it was my fault because I sent an inspiration picture to Jeff (cabinet guy) so that he could see the way I wanted the trim and failed to specify that the rest of it should be ignored. It’s kind of a happy accident, though, because, otherwise, the shelves would have been really tall, and Shaun suggested using those long ones at the top to house my globe collection (smart man!). I’m not entirely sure the taller ones will fit, but I’ll give it a go!

Oh, and that pic above is basically a zoomed out, straight-on view of our living room (and Nola looking rather vague…told you these weren’t edited). The stairs you saw are just to the right out of the shot. The hallway to the right leads to the schoolroom, the main downstairs bath, the guest room, and Shaun’s office. The door on the left with all of that gorgeous light flooding in from the big windows is the opening to the schoolroom.

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Turning around to look back into the kitchen, this is what you’d see. To the right are the cabinets that will encase the fridge/freezer, my big NBI Drainboard Sink, and a bank of beee-you-tee-full windows! The spaces below either side of the sink are for, not one, but two dishwashers (which, of course, I managed to score for the price of one!). The big blank wall just ahead is the area behind the range and vent hood. It will have open shelving on either side of the hood as well. cabinets4

This view is from the dining room (which flows into the kitchen) back toward the kitchen. And that island is, by far, the most exciting piece of cabinetry we’ve gotten yet. I wanted it to look like a piece of furniture in its own right, so I designed those decorative panels. And it came out even better than I’d hoped. (It’s hard to tell, but the edges are routed, giving it even more detail and depth).  cabinets6

 

Another view of the island. It’s recessed there in the center to allow for stools and a counter overhang, and those drawers on the end (to the right) are two built-in trash cans (WITH built-in trash bag holders behind them! Oh, the things that make you happy when you’re an adult).

The door that you can see open behind the island leads to the mudroom, which just might be my favorite room in the house besides the kitchen.

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That view is so purdy, my friends, that just want to kiss the screen. Call us optimistic (or crazy…or over-planners…whatever), but there are 11 (!!) wooden lockers in there, complete with bottoms drawers for shoes and overhead storage for off-season items like hats, gloves, floaties, goggles, etc.

We don’t have anything like this in our current house, and I can’t tell you how excited this organizationally-challenged girl is to have a room that can hold all the things. No more backpacks hanging on the stairs. No more constant struggle to find the best place for coats and shoes. Happy, happy day!

 

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The main downstairs bath is a fun one. There will be black/white floral wallpaper on the wall you see there. The cabinets will be a moody teal with brass hardware. And we’re going with stained wood for the countertop (we’ll just seal it with Waterlox). cabinets7

Same room, from the entry angle.   cabinets10

A close runner-up for all the heart eyes in the land is the family laundry. This is the view from the door (and also gives you a glimpse into the master bath beyond). The gap beside the tall, skinny cabinet is for the stacked washer and dryer, and the skinny cabinet itself is for all of my detergents and washing paraphernalia. The two large lower cabinet “doors” immediately to the left of the washer opening are actually pull-out drawers, which will hold laundry baskets. Thank goodness for Pinterest and the endless supply of cool organizational ideas!cabinets11

 

This is the “big room.” We have one of these in our current house, with a DIY big screen and built-in cabinets. This time, we skipped the built-ins in favor of a little kitchenette for when we have guests come to stay or are hosting an event upstairs and want to make popcorn or keep drinks cold (I found the cutest little retro-styled mini-fridge in mint online at Walmart, and it will slide right into that gap on the bottom right). The kitchenette was Shaun’s idea, as was the suggestion to not close off the space above the sunroom (to the right…also Shaun’s idea, come to the think of it) and instead leave it open as a loft. I can only imagine how much fun my kids will have as teenagers having slumber parties in the loft, but we’re also hoping that it can serve as a sleeping area for guests if necessary. We definitely intend this to be a house of hospitality, and I’m excited about the prospect of housing exchange students or missionaries who are passing through or just somebody down-on-her-luck who needs a place to stay. cabinets12

This is a view of the boys’ built-in vanity. The girls’ is a mirror image on the other side of the big room. We went with built-in vanities in the bathrooms a) because they look nice and avoid the awkward gaps on either side of a non-custom-sized vanity (how “mom” am I that I care less about the look and more about the fact that those gaps are hard to sweep) and b) they’re actually cheaper a la carte (sink, faucets, countertops, etc. separately) than buying most all-inclusive units would be…but only because we’re not going with fancy countertop materials like quartz or marble. Instead, the bathroom vanity tops will either be wood or laminate. And I am A-okay with that. I will gladly forgo fancy for function (and saving money) every single time. cabinets13

This is the master bathroom vanity, which will have a shiplap accent wall and his/her sinks and mirrors, etc.

If you go out that door you can barely see the beginning of to the left, you’ll be in the master bedroom…

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…which has big, vaulted ceilings that will be planked…eventually. (My husband is not a fan of my love for planking, but he told me he would do it…if he could take his sweet time :) ).

 

 

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The master closet is to the left of the master bedroom and houses this beast of a “lingerie chest,” which is actually divided equally down the center to have drawers on both sides for my and Shaun’s socks and undies respectively. Again, I was super pleased to have a custom piece that was actually cheaper than a lot of the dressers (even on craigslist and Facebook) that I had looked at.

Aaaaand…there you have it. Phew! That was a lot of cabinets!

We tried as hard as we could to make things both pretty and practical. And, so far, it feels like we’ve succeeded. I’m sure I’ll find things I could have designed better, but with this much drawer space to work with, I’m not too worried about.

Yay for cabinets! Yay for progress! Boo for decluttering closets and getting this house ready to sell! But it must be done if I want to enjoy those cabinets.

So, off I go!

 

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Baby Brain

You know how people are always talking about the things they’re going to ask God once they get to heaven?

Well, I’m inclined to think that–once we’re there and behold His glory–we’re not going to care. We humans are so intent on thinking that this earthly world of ours is all there is–that the affairs of it are the only ones that could possibly matter. We’re so NOW that we often can’t imagine caring (or not caring) about anything else.

If it sounds like I’m about to embark on a lengthy philosophical treatise about eternity, nothing could be further from the truth.

I just wanted to establish what I REALLY think about the subject of asking God WHY before I very frivolously claim that, when I get to heaven, I intend to ask God about the phenomenon of “baby brain.”

I’m sure I won’t really.

But here on this earth, I find myself befuddled about–well, a lot of things, including where I put my phone, which was JUST in my hands (oh yeah, it’s in my back pocket ::sheepish chuckle::). But mainly, I’m curious why, after you’ve had a baby, it seems that someone has liquified your brain and siphoned it out of your ear. I mean, I get that the lack of sleep thing is a major contributing factor. That makes sense. But the rest of it? You’ve just been entrusted with a tiny human, whom you must feed, care for, and generally shield from harm, and yet you find your IQ suddenly reduced to that of a slug. Who hasn’t slept in weeks (do slugs sleep? surely). HOW are we supposed to keep a baby alive when we’re constantly walking into rooms with zero inkling of why we’re there, and there’s at least a chance we’ll try to clean our teeth with our hairbrushes if we’re not careful.

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It’s a good thing you’re cute, you little brain-sucker. Because I used to be marginally intelligent. I think. 

And the talking? It’s hopeless. This one has been the most pronounced for me this time around. As if I didn’t already have enough names to get wrong with regular old kid brain. Now, I’ve added another name, and my gray matter is in an extraordinary state of mush, which means that I stare directly at one of my children (who knows which) and intone: “Ezra! Simon! Evy! Theo! Faith! (a cat)…ugh! N-O-L-A!!!!!”

Every single time.

I called Honor “Theo” 9 times out of 10 for the first week of his life.

The other day, I explained to Simon that he needed to get a towel from the pantry to clean up a spill because I’d already put all of the dirty ones in the dishwasher. And the most astonishing thing about that scenario is that I hadn’t actually done either of those things…just messed up the nouns.

It is a genuine struggle for me to form sentences these days, people. Often to hilarious effect. Except that, usually, I have no idea what I’ve just said. My children sure are enjoying it, though.

It’s just a constant stream of: “You said, ‘dinner.’ Did you mean, ‘lunch?’” And: “You said, ‘Drink your yogurt.’ How am I supposed to do that?”

Funny, kids. Real funny. Your mother is thisclose to the insane asylum, and you’re goading her. That’s dangerous. She is the one who makes the food, after all.

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Hey look! It’s Who’s-it, What’s-it, That girl, What’s-his-name, and What’s-her-face (plus two more that I really can’t place).

And teaching fitness classes is a total lark. I have to memorize large amounts of choreography that  coordinate exactly with specific beats of specific music. And, when your brain is only functioning at 7%, that is quite a feat. Sometimes, an unmanageable one. I do all right, for the most part. But yesterday, as I was teaching BODYCOMBAT, a song started, and my brain literally stalled. And I just stood there, thinking: I don’t even know which appendage to move first. One of my participants, who practically knows the choreography better than I do, starting moving her legs, so I followed her, even though I was sure she wasn’t quite right. We did half the track before my brain finally remembered what it was supposed to be telling my body to do.

Argh.

I would say it’s embarrassing. But many of my faithfuls have been taking my classes since I was pregnant with Della, so they’re kind of used to the drill. Abbie just had a baby. Abbie will not be firing on all cylinders for a while. ::Shrug::

know I’m not alone–that baby brain is a very real thing (even if our husbands don’t believe it).

But what I want to know is: what is the funniest/worst/baby brainiest moment you’ve had as a mama?

Mine is actually kind of major. And maybe I’ll share it someday. But not right now (I know; so mean). Honor’s hungry, and the rest of the natives are getting restless.

Whatever their names are…

P.S. If you find an unusually large number of typos in this post, well, I would expect no less.

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A Month of Honor

I know this is what every mother of a newborn says every.single.time, but–well–I’m willing to be a cliche just for the chance to exclaim how ridiculous it that my seventh kid is already a month old.

Over a month, actually, because, despite my best intentions to get this blog posted last week on Thursday, when he officially completed his one month tenure on planet earth…it didn’t happen. And, yes, I know that I say that a lot. Ce la super-busy, constantly-distracted, nursing-daze vie. (And good for you if you actually deciphered that last sentence).

Honor is just the sweetest thing, y’all. I know I said the same thing about Theo on his one month “birthday” (and I would have said the same thing about the twins too if I hadn’t been too sick battling mastitis and shingles to blog when they were a month old. Yuck). And it was just as true. But in a different way. Theo is a ham. He dances. He squeals. He even does a dramatic, Hamlet-esque stagger/chest-clutch/collapse move when his brothers pretend stab him while playing swords. It’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen a 2-year-old do…especially since no one taught him to do it. But most of all, Theo SMILES. Almost all the time. A big, gap-toothed, cheesy grin that you can’t help but return. He’s been like that since birth, practically.

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See? Solemn as a tomb. Clearly.

Honor is different, though. Equally winsome. But, whereas Theo is the constant life of the party, Honor is thoughtful and serious.

month3

Apparently, he was digging the retro vibe at The Grove–a local restaurant with the COOLEST decor. 

 

He started smiling on Valentine’s Day (little love-bug that he is), but he literally has to work up to it. He gets bright-eyed and happy-looking. Then he wriggles his whole body, as if the smile is buried deep in his toes and needs to travel all the way up to his lips. And then, finally, after he’s cocked his head this way and that a few times, a crooked half smile emerges from a big open mouth. Once he gets going, though, it’s one smile after the other for a little while.

Shaun’s the best at extracting these hard-won smiles, followed closely by Ezra and Simon. Honor’s most content to be held by me (although, he’s a chill baby who will happily go to most anybody), but I rarely have/take the time to sit and coo at him like Shaun does (that implied that my husband has lots of free time…he doesn’t, but when he’s holding Honor, he is usually devoting his entire attention to him. I can be guilty of hauling him around with me like a sack of potatoes on one arm while I get lunch or pull laundry out of the dryer with the other).

month2

Oh, Daddy. You’re so funny. 

To say that we’re all completely smitten with Honor is probably completely unnecessary but no less true. It’s not unusual to hear an exchange that goes something like: “Mama, can I hold Honor?” And then immediately: “And me next?” Followed by: “And then me?” And: “And then ME!” And finally: “Oh man! I wanted to hold him. Now, I’ll have to wait forever!”

month

Surrounded by his fan club. 

Everybody pitches in, but the older boys, especially, are sources of genuine and constant help. They hold him while I eat. They change his diapers. They fetch clothes and dress him. They load him in his car seat and carry him to the van. If they could feed him, they would do that too.

And almost none of this is because I ask them to (although, when I do ask for help, they are very quick to respond). They just adore their baby brother and are eager to be included or in charge of anything that involves Honor. They were the same way with Theo (less so with their sisters since they were so much younger when they were born), and they still are, but there’s just nothing like a brand new little human to get everybody’s attention.

I say this, yes, to brag on my sweet sons but also to encourage you mamas of little-bitties (only) out there that this day is coming if you keep plugging at training those soft little hearts. And it is a good day, indeed.

I know not everybody is into the newborn stage, but I love it. Much more so now than in the past (that’s my mama experience talking; I know now how fleeting it is). I think I would happily have a newborn in the house at all times if I could. There’s just not much better than holding a bundle of yummy-smelling squish for cheering you up or calming you down.

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Hey, girl. Thanks for getting down on my level. How about you change my diaper while you’re here?

I love the grunts and the squinty faces they make when they stretch. And don’t even get me started on baby yawns. Even their snores are cute, for crying out loud.

Of course, I know that it helps (immensely) that I have healthy, easy-going babies who sleep well (Honor’s still holding steady at 6 hours a stretch at night, but I’m hoping he will bump that up soon). And I certainly don’t take that for granted. But babies are just cool, so that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Thank you, Lord, for Honor. We sure are tickled he’s here!

P.S. After looking at the pic of above of all 7 and then at Theo’s one-month pics compared to Honor’s, I’m starting to believe that, maybe, our kids look a bit alike. #yathink

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Mama Life Hacks {#22}: A Breast-feeding Tip to Prevent Soreness

I almost feel embarrassed to admit that I’ve gotten horribly sore (we’re talking cracking, bleeding, blistering…the works) with every single baby except Honor. After all, that must mean that–six babies in–I still couldn’t figure out how to get a good latch.

Thing was, I’d had several people–long-time midwives and lactation experts among them–confirm that there was nothing wrong with my latch. Everything was where it should be. Baby’s lips were flanged. We were good. I’ve been able to successfully feed all of my babies for a year or more (well, Ezra actually only made it to 9 months, but that child ate so. much. food that my body literally could not keep up enough supply, at which point I got pregnant, and my milk supply completely tanked), so clearly, I’m doing something right. But for the first two weeks, I’ve been in so much pain that I dreaded every single feeding.

I have several mama friends who have confirmed the same–their latches were good, and nursing was going smoothly. Except for the fact that, until calluses formed, the entire process was excruciating, every single time. Of course, I’ve also known a few friends who have never dealt with nursing soreness, regardless of how practiced or not they were, so I just figured I was among the “lucky ones.”

You know who you are: the ones who take deep breaths and hold them to stifle the screams as your baby latches (or maybe you just muffle them into a pillow…not that I would know anything about that). You stomp your feet and hunch your shoulders up to your ears until, finally, the sucking numbs the pain, and you can relax a little. At least until next time.

If this sounds familiar, then this post is for you.

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Because, for the first time in my considerable nursing career, I did NOT get sore while feeding my newborn, and it made a worldof difference in my recovery and mindset about feeding my baby in those first few weeks. 

And I have my rock star midwife, Melena, to thank for it.

Honestly, I don’t know that she would have even presumed to tell me anything if I hadn’t mentioned that fact that I dread nursing for the first bit after I have a baby (because who wants to tell a mama of so many something that she surely already knows?). But, since I did bring it up, she asked if she could show me something that had been helping her clients. And I said, OF COURSE! Honestly, I was a bit skeptical that anything would work for me and my (apparently) sensitive skin. But I was willing to give it a shot.

Thankfully, she sent me videos to show you (the first is real people, and the second is done with sock puppets, so pretty inoffensive to even the most modest) because I’ve thought about how to describe the latching process several times, and I just don’t think I can do it justice, especially for those of you who (like me) need visual aids for this sort of thing.

Here’s Video 1.

And Video 2.

The first part of the process is a different kind of position/latching method than I’ve ever used (seen in Video 2), and I honestly found it awkward and strange (I think almost anyone would). But I still did it for the first several days because I was determined to do everything I could to avoid the pain. And I believe it helped Honor to get an especially deep latch from the beginning. (I have since reverted to my usual latching method, and it works great now that I’ve got the second part of the process down).

But the second part, which isn’t featured in the videos, was the the most life-changing for me.

Once Honor had a good, deep latch, Melena had me basically slide him horizontally away from the breast on which he is latched toward the opposite breast. Not a lot. Just enough so that, instead of being directly on the nipple, the baby is, instead, slid away (as in toward the opposite arm, not down toward your navel), which redirects the nipple toward the roof of his mouth and takes all of the sucking force of off the ridge.

Oh my goodness, y’all. It’s so simple–literally a 1″ shift at most–but so effective.

As in practically no soreness (there’s a bit of a learning curve, and all it takes is a couple of minutes of sucking in a bad position to get a little bit sore, so I can’t say zero pain).

I spent the first 3 days thinking it was too good to be true. That surely the chafing and cracking were still coming. Something this easy couldn’t possibly have been the solution all along.

Or could it?

I am now convinced that it could and is the solution to my nursing angst.

I had considered sharing but wasn’t sure how many might need the info. But when I referenced this tip in passing in one of my posts and got a barrage of comments begging me to elaborate, I knew it was something that needed a blog of its own.

When I asked Melena why more people weren’t sharing this trick, she said that she was never taught this either and can’t even remember how she happened upon the videos (that I shared above) but that they just made sense to her. So, she started sharing with her clients, and they started seeing results. She also said that she knows many lactation specialists who teach that a good, deep latch–with the baby’s lips flanged–is the only factor for success, when, in fact, the positioning of the nipple in the baby’s mouth is equally (or, as I discovered for myself, MORE) important.

I so hope this helps you guys as much as it helped me. As I mentioned earlier, it completely transformed my view of nursing in the early days. I love nursing my babies once the soreness goes away. And I am determined to fight through it at the beginning to give them mama milk. But to not have to deal with it at all? It almost feels to good to be true!

Praise God for wise midwives who risk the wrath of potentially know-it-all mamas to share their wealth of knowledge!

P.S. Feel free to pass this along to any mama friends who might need to see it. I guarantee they will thank you for it.

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Strolling with Evenflo

Even though I have 7 kids, I’ve never owned a new stroller. Several new car seats, yes. But no new strollers. Which is fine. Because the secondhand versions I’ve owned have fulfilled their purposes well enough. But I’ve never loved a stroller system. Until now.

Meet the Evenflo Pivot Travel System.

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{Disregard Della’s squint o’ death; she didn’t mind the fact that I sent them out in the cold to walk their baby brother around the block for me…JK! They dressed themselves in various and sundries–pretty sure Theo has socks on his hands rather than mittens–and headed out to brave the big, bad 45 degree chill without any prompting from me}

AKA: my new BFF.

It’s different from anything I’ve ever owned before in a myriad of ways but probably the most significant is that the stroller base is just that: a base. Which allows you to pop in either the car seat…

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{Clearly the postpartum hair loss has not kicked in yet. Hello, lion’s mane}

…or the stroller bed.

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The bed can be laid flat (ideal for infants) or tilted upward for optimal viewing, especially once baby gets older (it has straps to keep him snug and safe). It also has a handy cold-weather cover, which we have happily utilized on chilly mornings.

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I love having the option to carry only the lightweight base and simply snapping in the car seat (the option I utilize the most). Most of my strollers have been unwieldy and heavy (especially the twins’ double stroller, which is a total beast), so I am loving how easy it is the toss the stroller base in the back of the van and then transfer the car seat right into it.

Speaking of the car seat, it’s my favorite!

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{Can you spot my cute photographer?}

In fact, the very day it came in the mail, Honor ended up napping in it multiple times throughout the day because it’s so well-cushioned and plush that he went right to sleep every time we laid him in it. Even though he’s a big baby for his age, he still needed an insert in our last car seat to keep his head from lolling side-to-side. The Evenflo Pivot car seat has sufficient padding to keep his little noggin in place, though, so I don’t have keep up with an insert (major bonus in my book).

Also, while our last car seat was awkward to carry in the crook of your arm and hard to release from the base, the Evenflo Pivot car seat has a wide, smooth arced handle (Shaun’s first comment was how good it felt to carry), which is easy to slip onto my arm and doesn’t bite into my skin. AND! The best part? It comes out of the base without any complicated lifting/wiggling/coaxing (can’t tell you how many times I’ve accidentally woken a sleeping babe wrestling with our last model).

It also includes an anti-rebound bar built into the seat base, which limits the rebound impact in a frontal car crash and keeps my baby safer.

The stroller, itself, is the easiest to maneuver that I’ve ever used. I can steer it, no problem, with one hand, which is kind of a big deal, since that’s usually how many hands I have available (because there’s always somebody else that needs me to wipe a nose or hand out sippy cups with my other one).

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{Pretty much everybody–from Ezra down to the twins–can navigate this stroller because it glides so easily}

Another plus? There’s a generous amount of space between the basket on the bottom and anything that might block it on top. It’s an easy-to-overlook perk until you find yourself trying to deposit or retrieve a bag or snacks from underneath a stroller only to have them snag hopelessly, requiring a full-stop (and an inevitable pile-up of small bodies behind you) and rummage situation.

When Evenflo (nice post sponsor!) contacted me and offered me an option of stroller systems, I took my time reading reviews and ultimately decided on the Pivot system, since I love to walk the trails near our gym with friends and wanted something that maneuvers easily and handles well on rough terrain.

I am happy to report that it does both.

Honestly, I couldn’t be more pleased with this travel system. It does what a stroller system should do–make my life easier. And while “hard is not the same thing as bad” may be my motto, I see no point in making things needlessly complicated.

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{Honor stayed snug and happy in his car seat, even though it was time for him to eat}

The Evenflo Pivot Travel System simplifies traveling with a baby, and I am a big fan of that and it.

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{Also a big fan of the car seat canopy with a peephole that my sis-in-law, Hannah, made for me}

Although Evenflo was kind enough to provide me with product, all gushing is entirely my own. 

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7th Heaven

Because how could I not use that title at least once?

So, I have a feeling that at least 2 of you are wondering what life with 7 kids is like. And let it never be said that I mind writing for a small audience because I’m going to deliver the goods for all 2 of you right here, right now.

Life with 7 is…a whole lot like life with 6.

In other words: busy, but good.

Edit: I started writing this a week ago. So. Yeah. Very Busy. 

The end.

HA. There is not one single person out there who has read more than one post of mine who believes for even a nanosecond that I did or even could write a 100 word blog post. (Because that sentence, alone, had 35 words).

But seriously. Adding a baby to our daily life has been a remarkably smooth process, due to several factors.

1. My mom kept all 6 of the other kids for 5 days after Honor was born, which, yes, I realize, pretty well qualifies her for sainthood and makes me spoiled rotten (guilty). She even brought homemade dinner with the kids to meet Honor the day he was born then took them all back home again. And let me just say that–when you’ve had 6 kids already–5 kid-free days to rest, recover, and bond with your baby is completely unexpected…and all the more amazing for it (although, there were several evenings I almost made Shaun go get the other kids because I was missing them something fierce, and the house was entirely too quiet).

2. Once we were all back together, the crazy levels never got out of hand. The older kids, including Theo, have all been super-chill–while still extremely excited–about Honor’s arrival. (I wouldn’t say that Theo has been “super-chill” in general because, well, he’s two, and the emotions, they are strong. But he loves his baby brother).

Ezra–true to his “helper” name–would gladly hold Honor all day long, which is a huge–yes–help when I need to flip the laundry or even take a shower. Shaun has been around a fair bit, which doesn’t hurt, but the kids and I are managing pretty well on our own too.

7th heaven1

{I need to give Simon his “helpful brother” due too. This is the scene I turned around to one day from the kitchen. Gosh, those boys are sweet; also, don’t you love my clumsy baby nudity censorship?}

3. We’ve gotten back into our routine as quickly as possible. We started back to homeschooling the week after the baby came, and we even made it to our homeschool co-op last Monday and today. (Honor just hangs out with me and naps in his car seat or the crook of my arm while I grade papers…or he gets held by a succession of eager-to-help fellow homeschool mamas).

I probably would have waited longer to jump back into thick of things if we hadn’t just had Christmas break, but we all needed some schedule in our lives, and it has helped to stave off the baby blues (which I tend to get if I have too much time to think).

I even managed my first solo flight a week and 1/2 ago with seven kids (to the grocery store, mostly) and only rolled my eyes halfway back in my head at my own ding-battedness after Honor COMPLETELY peed through his outfit, and I fished around in my bag to discover wipes and a change of clothes but not one single newborn diaper. Of course, when I decided I would just have to diaper him up to his eyeballs in one of Theo’s size 4′s, I discovered I was out of those too. #meforpresident

7th heaven

{I felt like we needed a herald going before us declaring, “Here ye, here ye. Your ankles, knees, and hips are in grave danger of assault by these awesomely unwieldy car carts. HIDE!”}

Thank goodness for a nearby gas station, which sold size 2 diapers…so he only had to be diapered up to his armpits.

Shaun and I managed to sneak off to Dallas last Monday (thanks again to my nice mama) for a last minute birthday celebration dinner (for him) and circumcision date (for Honor). I’ll give you one guess which one of them enjoyed that trip more. Spoiler: it wasn’t Honor.

And last night, we had 35 people in our house for a joint birthday (for my bro and Shaun) + Super Bowl party.

Like I said: busy. But good!

4. My physical recovery has been swift and (mostly) easy. Minus some rather atrocious after-birth pains for the first week, I’ve had very little pain or issues. I attribute this to a) the grace of God, b) water birth (way less bruising than usual), c) a brilliant tip from my midwife, which made latching better and helped me avoid the nasty nursing soreness I’ve battled every other time, d) decent amounts of sleep (see below), and e) using an ingenious invention called a Belly Bandit, which has helped so much with ab/organ support.

5. Honor is a total babe of a babe. He sleeps 5-6 hour stretches at night, takes great naps during the day, eats really well, and is generally the picture of health and contentment. Even in utero, he seemed to have his days and nights straight and that has continued (at least in some small part due to the fact that we’ve been implementing our tried and true–for us–sleep-training tricks from pretty much week 1).

7th heaven2

{Hanging out with the big kids}

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t let myself worry (as much as possible) about what life with another baby in the house will be like…mostly because it doesn’t change a thing, and it doesn’t help me prepare.

cover pic2

{Hey look! I finally got a new photo that we can use as a blog-header. One that includes ALL of my children and isn’t 3 years old. How long will it take me to actually get it up there on the home page? Who. Knows). 

It helps that I’m not a worrier in general, but I can be a stresser (the two are different in my mind). But even with the inevitable hiccups and hardships that come with introducing anything new–much less a tiny human–into your life, each transition has been better than I expected–at least partially because I keep my expectations low or nonexistent.

I may sing a different tune when it comes time to stage our current house, sell it, and then move (the goal is a couple of months, but we’ll see). For now, though, I’m trying to do the next thing and not worry about the stuff I can’t get to yet.

So far, so good. Because God is good. And hard is not the same thing as bad. (Come to think of it, neither is easy…because sometimes, we just need a little stretch of unexpectedly easy to rejuvenate our spirits).

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Honor’s Otter

So, I’ve had quite a few questions about Honor’s name: where did we come up with it? why did we choose it?

That sort of thing.

Which I totally understand because it’s not exactly a usual name.

Interestingly enough, as I mentioned in my teaser on my “name game” repost, I feel like it still fits with the rest of our names because a) it’s only two syllables (this is a completely unintentional “requirement,” but it has held true so far) and b) it’s old-fashioned–hailing from the 1800′s.

Another thing? It’s almost exclusively a girl’s name. As in, it’s not common, period. But anytime it does show up, it’s almost always associated with a female.

Which…seems strange to me, since the word Honor evokes a strong, masculine sense of purpose and integrity.

It’s a strong-sounding name to me. And to Shaun too, apparently, who surprised me again (just like he did with Ezra, Adelaide, and Magnolia) by preferring it over some of the more “normal” options we considered.

As far as where I first heard it?

Well, let’s just say that most of the original seeds for my children’s name inspirations are planted in less-than-highbrow soil.

Here are the origins of each of my children’s names:

Ezra: a fitness teacher friend mentioned a student named Ezra during class one day 12ish years ago, and I loved it immediately (clearly, I already knew about the Biblical book, but I’d never heard it used in conversation as a “real” name, and that made all the difference for me).

Simon: don’t remember. Shaun and I both just liked the name.

Adelaide–AKA “Della”: the name of the *dead and never pictured* mother of Emmeline Harris from Anne of Avonlea (the movie). I have literally loved the name since I first watched the movie a good 28 years ago.

Evangeline (which we pronounce–somewhat unusually–as: Eh-VAN-jeh-lin)–AKA “Evy”: the sister of one of my brother’s ex-girlfriends. It just appealed to me.

Magnolia–”Nola”: a dear friend mentioned a cousin’s friend’s sister’s baby (or something like that) with that name, and it majorly appealed to my Southern roots.

Theodore–AKA “Theo”: I spotted the name “Theo” in the rolling credits of an episode of Lost yeeears ago, and it just stuck in my mind.

Honor: the name of Logan’s sister in Gilmore Girls.

Clearly, I don’t tend to insist on their inception’s having great significance, but I will not name my child something if, after having researched its origin and meaning, it turns out to be something negative. (In case you’re wondering, my children’s names mean: “helper,” “he who hears/listens,” “noble,” “spreader of the gospel,” “a beautiful fragrant flower/tree,” “gift from God,” and “full of honor”…so we did all right in the end).

ANYhoo, not that you asked for that detailed of a rundown on all of my kids’ names when you asked about Honor’s, but I do know that I find the etymology of a person’s name fascinating, and others do too.

whole crew

 

{All the names I love in one spot!}

So! For those of you who are still awake, here is the story (that I promised to tell) of Honor’s Otter.

Shaun’s Grandma (Great-Grandma to our kids, of course) has a weekly Saturday gathering that we usually can’t attend because she lives over an hour away, but we try to go as much as possible.

One day, in the 2nd trimester of this last pregnancy, Shaun took the rest of the kids to Great-Grandma’s, while I…I don’t honestly remember, but it must have been significant because I pretty much always go.

And while he was there, one of the aunts asked Shaun what the new baby’s name would be.

To which he replied, “Honor.”

To which she replied: “…Huh??”

Shaun: “Hon-or.”

Her: “What?”

Shaun: “H-o-n-o-r.”

Her: “Ooooooooooh! I thought you were saying OTTER!!”

When Shaun came home and related this exchange, I got so tickled that I decided on the spot to change his name to Otter.

No, I didn’t.

But I did decide to commission Theresa to crochet Honor an Otter of his very own to commemorate his weird and wonderful name.

honors otter

Who knows? He made need therapy after having to spell his name for every single last person who asks for 18 years.

But, hey! At least he’ll be able to spell by age 2.

Any good baby name origin stories to tell? I’ll just be over here nursing Otter…er, I mean, Honor.

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Honor’s Birth Story {Part 2}

So, where were we?

Oh yeah. The making out.

Turns out my husband must be a really good kisser (but I already knew that) because mere minutes after he gleefully followed my midwife’s parting instructions, I experienced a 4 minute long, intense contraction. Like, as he was timing it, he kept looking at me expectantly and saying, “Done, right?” And I was all: “Um, yeah…oh! Nope! There it goes again.”

Thanks a lot, Husband.

Anyhoo, once that one finally released its vice grip, I went right back to matching socks. We had turned Fixer Upper off, since I can only do so many competing distractions in labor, but the sock folding was just the ticket to give me something that occupied my hands and at least a little of my mind.

In fact, assuming there’s a next time, I think I’ll keep a basket of unmatched socks around for labor. In fact, I think I’ll start now just to make sure I’ve got enough to work with. #sigh

There was now no doubt in my mind that, unless these suckers just stalled out for no good reason (entirely possible), I really was in labor. After the 4 minute whopper, my contractions kept coming, only instead of 10 minutes apart, as they’d consistently been for the previous hour and 1/2, they suddenly dropped to 6 minutes, and–after only a few of those–to 3 minutes.

The intensity had also ramped up at a rather alarming rate.

It certainly seemed that the safety brake on my slow body had been suddenly released, and we were careening down a rather steep hill toward an inevitable crash (car wreck as a metaphor for delivery? not too far-fetched, I say).

I mentioned that I might need to text Melena to hurry, but Shaun said, “She’s bound to be headed back our way soon, and you’ve got to do this for hours before it does any good.”

Thing is, normally he’d be right, but these were different, and I was certainly hoping he wasn’t.

Just like the contractions had felt different/sharper than usual earlier in the day, these felt even more so now. And not just sharper than earlier but sharper than I’d ever felt. I had described them as feeling like a knife being stuck inside me to Shaun earlier, and the comparison grew even more apt as they progressed.

I’ve heard that contractions after your water has broken are worse, and I can now personally attest that it’s true. As Melena put it, there’s just no cushion from the water bag to act as a buffer between the baby’s head and your bones.

By the time Melena got back around 11:30 PM, they were down to 2 1/2 minutes apart, and I was breathing and plie squatting through them. I know that sounds like the pits since squatting seems like it would put more pressure on the cervix as you go down. But, even though that’s somewhat true, there’s a certain point near the bottom of the squat at which the pressure is relieved almost entirely, and the act of moving/doing something during the swell/peak/release tends to distract, at least my mind, from the pain.

In between contractions, Melena set up the antibiotic drip and hooked me up via IV. I wasn’t thrilled about my decreased mobility, but I could still reach the socks, so I kept the dread of each new contraction at bay by returning to folding–almost compulsively–as soon as the last one was done.

labor

{I laughed out loud when I saw this picture; that was the biggest/most genuine smile I could muster at this point}

Tangent: By this point, with 6 natural labors under my belt, I’d say that I’m decent at pain management. But the thing that I find most interesting is that–had I had these kind of contractions this close together with hours to go 4 labors ago–I think I would have been panicked. I can remember literally being loopy and hazy with pain during transition with Simon. My midwife was snapping her fingers in front of my face and trying to get my eyes uncrossed, I was that out of it. But even though I’ve experienced that kind of pain since, I’ve never reached that level of grogginess again. It’s fascinating to me how our mental expectations of pain can literally determine our physical ability to handle it because this time (and with the last two), until the very end when it became one blur of constant pain, I was completely present and lucid between each contraction, conversing and doing everything possible to distract myself from worry about “the end.” God really has given us amazing physical resources, and I am never more aware of that than when I am in labor.

ANYhoo, once the antibiotic drip finished, Melena released me from the line, and I began doing laps around the kitchen and living room, fighting to walk through the worst of the contractions, which had bumped up in intensity yet again.

Melena, who was an assistant at the twins’ birth and the primary midwife at Theo’s, had never seen this version of active labor for me, since the twins’ labor progressed steadily but very calmly (once it finally kicked in after 4 days of stop-start nonsense), and Theo’s was all over the place, to put it mildly.

I don’t tend to make too much noise during labor, but when my breathing took on a wheezing sound during some of the contractions, she definitely started watching me more closely.

On my part, I had lost all track of time, mostly because of intense focus, but also because our power had flickered at some point, and the oven clock was just blinking instead of displaying the accurate time.

But I knew one thing: these couldn’t go on too much longer, and I wanted to at least try laboring in the water. I had assumed, since the water had killed my hiccupy contractions with Theo’s labor, that I wouldn’t be able to labor there during this one.

Given the level of contractions I was experiencing, though, I wasn’t worried about that anymore, and, when Melena gave me the go-ahead, I had Shaun start prepping the water.

By this point, I could feel my legs turning to Jell-o, and even as painful as the contractions were, knew it was time to let them do their dirty work.

So I slogged upstairs and did the last thing in the world I wanted to do: straddled the toilet. I don’t know why this position is so effective in letting the baby descend, but it’s worked its “magic” (kind of feels like the “black” variety at the time) every time I’ve been willing to do it.

I didn’t feel a sudden huge shift in pressure like I did right before the twins came, but the contractions ratcheted up yet another notch, and I was relieved, to put it mildly, when Shaun came and told me the tub water was ready.

I climbed in on wobbly legs, but, unfortunately, because we had had to run the hot water through the pipes until it was cold to eliminate any lingering sediment or other ickiness, the water was barely up to my belly, even after Shaun boiled two big pots of water on the stove (and no, the irony of having “boiling water” on hand for a modern home birth is not lost on me…there were clean towels too, believe it or not).

So, the first “tub contraction” wasn’t nearly as much of a relief as I’d hoped. In fact, by this point, the contractions were coming so close together that I barely had time to catch my breath before the next one started. And since I was on my tailbone in the tub, without enough water to offset gravity nearly as much as it needed to to really help, the back labor that I’d been experiencing the whole time but managing to mostly ignore because the front labor was so intense, became acutely more noticeable.

Thankfully, Shaun had another round of water ready before too many contractions went by, and he came and replenished the tub, adding cold water to balance it out until I could slide down into it.

Again, I had no sense of time by this point. I just knew that these were the most intense contractions of my life, and that, if I hadn’t been in the water, I might have been a bit out of my mind with the pain.

Lindsay, who had been checking in with me via text for days as this whole in labor/not in labor situation progressed, had sent me a list of verses to pray, and I’d been cobbling together fragments of them in my mind for hours.

“Lord you are the stronghold of my life, an ever present help in times of trouble.”

“You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.”

“You are my strength and my salvation. Let me not be put to shame.”

“Whom shall I fear, for you are with me.”

As the contractions progressed in the water, and the pressure built, I added this to my prayers: “Lord, this next one is yours. It’s not mine. I can’t do it. Only you can.”

And you know what? He did. Every time I thought: no more, NO more…I realized that the last one had ended, and I had a few seconds to start over again on my jumbled up prayers.

Finally, there was a shift. Not nearly as noticeable as it would have been out of the water, but undeniable nonetheless.

Melena heard the change in my breathing and volume levels and came running upstairs to check on me (up to this point, I hadn’t been making any noise that could be heard downstairs, and she was trying to give me and Shaun space; not too surprisingly, she hadn’t expected me to progress so rapidly).

I was in so much pain that I just wanted the baby out, regardless of how much MORE pain that entailed. I kept asking the Lord for the courage to relax my body when everything in me wanted to tense my muscles up to control the pain.

By this point, the contractions were so close together that I couldn’t really tell when one started and ended, so when Melena–who needed to grab her oxygen machine for the baby, just in case–asked me whether I had a break yet or not, I just shook my head and clenched my eyes shut even tighter.

I have a distinct impression of my body simply taking over like it never had before. I wasn’t pushing so much as surrendering. To that end, I sank lower and lower in the water until my mouth and nose were covered. Because who needs to breath when you’re pushing?
I remember Shaun’s grasping my arm and trying to lift me up a bit. I’m sure the poor man thought his wife was drowning herself, but all I could think was, “Leave me alone! I am far from fine, but neither one of us is going to be fine if you don’t stop touching me!!” (P.S. Shaun is ah-mazing during labor; I wouldn’t trade him for anyone, even if he does do silly things like try to save his wife from drowning durng labor ; )).

When I finally got a tiny break, Melena ran for her car, but as soon as she was gone, a strong pushing contraction started, and I felt the baby crowning. His head came out with that push, and I heard Shaun shouting, “Head! His head’s out. We have a head!”

She was back in no time, but I hadn’t had another contraction yet. Again, though, I was just so ready for this to be over that I started pushing anyway.

I could feel his shoulders coming and Melena’s helping guide him, until–suddenly–he was out!

She lifted him out of the water and placed him on my chest, and he immediately began squawling like–well–like a big, healthy newborn.

birth

{Just FYI: the grayish streaks on my face are mascara–aka: what I get for laboring in the water without taking my makeup off from the day before…wasn’t exactly high on my priority list}

And you know what I did?

I went from being in agonizing pain to sitting up straight as an arrow in the tub, clutching my baby to my chest and gasping: “He’s out! He’s here! Praise Jesus, I’m not pregnant anymore!”

Which…is pretty much what I say every time.

But seriously. The shift was that sudden.

When all was said and done, I’d been in “real” labor for 6 1/2 hours–4 1/2 of that at rather intense levels and almost 2 hours of that at super-intense levels in the tub (if you’d asked me how long I was in there, I probably would have said 45 minutes; it all ran together).

I think that might be a record for speed for me…if you discount all of the lead up mess. Which…I sort of do and sort of don’t.

And, of course, Honor was perfect, and I felt so much better immediately afterwards that the words “worth it” don’t even begin to describe it.

new honor

 

{Honor, having a contemplative moment after getting run through all of the usual newborn rigmarole. P.S. I’ve got lots more photos from my big girl camera that are considerably better quality, but considering how long it’s taken me to get this posted with fuzzy pictures, I figured you wouldn’t want to wait for the crisper ones; I’ll post them later…maybe…no promises}

Funny side note: we’d been telling ourselves all along to completely ignore my January 2 “due date” and use the 15th instead.  Surely, he’d be out by then. Anything before that was a bonus.

Of course, when the contractions started seeming real–ON the 15th–we rolled our eyes at each other for speaking this date into existence.

But then, true to its pokey nature, my uterus STILL missed our “outside due date” by…2 1/2 hours. Go figure.

Not that any of our speculation mattered one bit. As is always the case, our sweet baby came in the Lord’s perfect timing, and we are just beyond thrilled that he’s here.

brand new

 

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Honor’s Birth Story {Part 1}

If you read my latest update before Honor’s birth, then you’ll know that I had been contracting for daaaayyyzz…which is nothing new for me. Prodromal labor–the oh-so-official title for mild pregnancy torture–is my close and constant friend when I’m waiting for a baby to come.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, it’s not unusual for prodromal (or false) labor to establish strong, steady rhythms for long periods. It can feel very much like labor…except that–ultimately–the contractions never get stronger, longer, and closer enough together to get a baby out.

It’s fuuuuun.

Fortunately, after 5 other similar rodeos, I was not the least bit fooled by this particular bucking bronco (forgive my weird metaphors; I’m mildly sleep-deprived).

Sure, there were a few times that I thought, “All right, this could go somewhere.” But not enough to actually change anything about what I was normally doing.

And then Saturday rolled around, and the 4 youngest and I decided (code for: mama decided, and they obediently piled in the car) to do a little thrifting. We visited a few stores in a local small town, ate lunch at Dairy Queen (where a man who was leaving at the same time we were asked when I was being christened for sainthood…presumably because I had 4 kids 6 and under with me and was hugely pregnant?? I assured him that “Never” was a pretty sure bet), and then headed home where I wrote a blog post while the kids napped…and I contracted.

While we were out “on the town,” I’d had a few contractions that felt…different. Sharper. Less meaningless. I didn’t think much of it, but they just kept popping up every 1/2 hour or so, and by 5 PM, when Shaun and the boys got home from working on the new house (which is what they do every Saturday, pretty much), I was starting to pay the squeezes at least a sliver of my attention.

We ate dinner, did a little clean-up, and by that point, I was getting a decent contraction every 15-20 minutes. This had happened several times before, but not with this level of sharpness, so we put the kids to bed early and started casually timing them while picking up around the house, flipping the laundry, loading the dishwasher, etc.

My midwife, Melena, had done her absolute best to strip my membranes the Tuesday before, but ever since Ezra, my cervix has always been super-posterior and hard to reach until the very end of labor, so–while she managed to ascertain that I was dilated to a 3 and about 50% effaced (encouraging but not exactly meaningful, considering some people walk around dilated to a 5 for months)–I wasn’t expecting much in the way of results.

Sure enough, another 4 days had gone by with little to no noticeable change in my state. On that same Tuesday, she had also given me a tincture of herbs to help move labor along once it seemed a bit more real, so Saturday night, I started dosing myself with that in between loads of laundry.

And you know what happened?

My contractions stopped. Just…fizzled out completely.

Truth be told, I wasn’t even that disappointed (or surprised). By that point, it was almost 11 PM, and I wasn’t that interested in starting real labor at midnight (never mind that I’ve never NOT labored through at least one full night before).

I finished up my last chore around midnight and lay down, feeling sure I wouldn’t be up again before morning.

Throughout the night, I woke up with the keener contractions but managed to go back to sleep. Around 5 AM, though, I had several strong ones in a row and couldn’t fall asleep again. Right before I got up, though, I had the distinct impression of peeing a little on myself without any actual effort on my part and thought, “Uh oh. That’s not good.”

My water has only broken before delivery one other time–with Della–and then, it was only a small high leak that sealed itself immediately and never produced anything else until she came. Even so, it created a lot of anxiety, since it put my midwife on guard for more leakage and put me on a deadline for having her (she gave me 24 hours before we considered going to the hospital). When Della’s labor stalled after I dilated to a 6, I spent the next 18 hours frustrated and worried I would end up with a hospital birth despite my best efforts to the contrary. My labor finally did kick back in at 7 PM, and I had her by 1 in the morning, but it was still a bad association with waters breaking that has lingered with me for the 6 years since.

I shuffled to the bathroom, hoping against hope that I had just become suddenly incontinent (only time I’ve ever wished for that), but it became clear very quickly that my waters had, indeed, broken–at least to an extent.

I took a shower and blow-dried my hair (something I almost never do) and then went to tell Shaun that my water had broken. He has the same association I do, so he looked a little concerned, but we both decided to just wait and see if the contractions would keep coming regularly, at which point we would take the kids to my mom’s.

frizz

{Anybody else resemble an electrocuted poodle after they blow-dry?}

The one thing I felt a tiny twinge of excitement about was the concept of possibly/maybe/Please Lord delivering during the day. That’s happened twice (Ezra and Theo), but only because I was up the entire night(s) before laboring.

I was far from hopeful, though.

The contractions were still there 30 minutes later when I finished straightening my hair (also something I pretty much never do), and the kids were all set to get in the van.

So, off we went on our merry way–skeptical but a little optimistic.

I had 3-4 decent contractions on the 30 minute drive, but almost the moment we pulled in my mom’s driveway…they stopped.

We were at my parents’ house for about an hour, and I didn’t have one real contraction.

It was the first time I felt genuinely discouraged by the whole stop-start business this pregnancy. I mean, I’ve come to fully expect it, but at 41 weeks and 5 days, I was getting a little weary of it, and I really didn’t want to waste my mom’s time (she loves her grandchildren more self-sacrificially than any other woman I’ve ever seen and never complains about keeping them, but I prefer not to dump all 6 on her doorstep without good reason).

So, right there in her living room, my mom and Shaun stopped and prayed over me–for peace, for perseverance, for progress (i.e. pain…you can’t have a baby without that, in my experience).

We decided to go ahead and leave the kids there, trusting the contractions to return and be real, and left. I kind of figured we would go home and wait for labor, but Shaun had a better idea (pretty sure he knew that my “watched pot never boils” body wouldn’t do well with just sitting around waiting for the next contraction).

So, we went to get Thai food for lunch (yes, I went all stereotypical and ordered it spicier than I normally do, even though I know it doesn’t actually work like that). And on our way, my contractions kicked back in.

They were different this time. Sharper still. They were the kind of contractions I would classify as a 5 (dilation) but still too sporadic to be doing much.

After lunch, we headed to Lowe’s to figure out some house details. At Lowe’s I had at least two contractions that had me stopping to breathe and grab the closest shelving. Honestly, I was a bit baffled, since each intense contraction was usually followed up by either nothing for a good 15 minutes or something so piddly it was barely noticeable.

Mostly, I just rolled my eyes and kept waddling along, determined to ignore them until they really, really hurt and were really, really close.

On the way home, we stopped by the grocery store for essentials like salt, toilet paper, Hershey’s Nuggets (with almonds and toffee, of course), and…wine? Yup. Hilarious because I pretty much never drink anything–much less while pregnant–but two separate friends had suggested buying a bottle of Moscato for labor, since they know how slow/tight my body tends to be and thought a) it might help me loosen up a bit and b) would be fruity enough for my alcohol-averse taste buds.

It took us a laughably long time to even find the Moscato and even longer to figure out if there was an advantage to one bottle over another, but we prevailed in the end.

And all the while I continued to contract at random intervals and levels of intensity.

My midwife–whom I had informed of the water leakage and contraction situation that morning–had been checking in via text all day and suggested that, when we got home, I lie down.

28-year-old Abbie would have been all: “Uh uh. No way. That will kill the contractions for sure.”

But 34-year-old Abbie thought a midwife-prescribed nap sounded just dandy, and if the contractions died, well, all the better because then they weren’t real anyway.

I lay down for over an hour, awakened by a grand total of 4 strong contractions. At this point, I’d been in sort of labor for 24 hours and was pretty sure it was all just a big hoax.

As soon as I got up, though, they kicked back in a bit, so I took some more of the herb tincture and ate some dinner. 15 minutes later, they stopped…and stayed gone.

After 45 minutes of not even one contraction, I felt my old frustration at my pokey body returning, so I texted Melena something like: “What the what is my dumb body doing??” To which she replied: “I dunno. Can I come visit?”

Of course, I said yes, though I assured her it was probably a waste of her time, and she said she didn’t care and was coming anyway.

Then, I asked Shaun to get the Bible and read to me from the Psalms while I lay on the couch.

This method had “worked” twice before when I got too anxious for my own good, so–while I wasn’t really expecting anything miraculous to happen–I was still hopeful that it would banish unnecessary stress before it settled in my already tense muscles.

He read for a good 1/2 hour, and I just listened with my eyes closed, soaking in the promises, enjoying the peace, and not contracting one single bit.

Then, I got up, went to the laundry room, and hauled 2 giant baskets of unmatched socks into the laundry room (my three oldest kids fold 99% of our laundry, but they are notorious for finding only the most obvious sock matches and throwing the rest in a basket, so there was puh-lenty to keep me busy).

We put on an episode of Fixer Upper and started matching. And matching.

By the time Melena showed up around 8:30, I’d had two contractions (after an hour and 1/2 of diddly squat) 10 minutes apart, but other than noting their existence, I thought absolutely nothing of them.

Melena had a theory that, with the somewhat slow leakage I’d experienced, there was a chance that the leak had sealed itself, and the bulging water bag near his head was still intact, in which case the risk of infection was moot, and this baby could just come when he felt like it (pretty sure that was what was going on anyway, but whatever).

When she checked me, though–no small or enjoyable feat for either of us since my cervix was still very posterior–she could feel his hair.

My heart sank a bit. I mean, obviously, he would come when he needed to, but being on any sort of deadline has never done anything but slow my already turtle-paced body down, and I felt the old dread that I would end up in a hospital on Pitocin after 9 months of midwifery care.

Fortunately, Melena is just the chillest human being on the planet and a very relaxing presence, and she assured me that a hospital visit was unlikely but that she would prefer that–since I refuse Group B Strep testing and my status was unknown–we start a round of antibiotics, just to be safe.

I’m not a fan of antibiotics as a rule, but when it comes to keeping my babies safe, I’m all for ‘em.

Melena stuck around for another 45 minutes, working me through some Spinning Babies positions (basically gentle posture/stretching exercises to help the baby get into the optimal position for making the contractions effective), and I noted–almost subconsciously–that I was still having contractions every 10 minutes or so and that they miiiiight possibly be getting a bit stronger with each one.

After that, she left for the birth center to grab everything she needed to administer the antibiotics, giving Shaun and me strict instructions to…

Make out.

Oh, yes, she did.  Because, boys and girls, this kind of monkey business releases Oxytocin, which cause uterine contractions. Aren’t our bodies weird and wonderful things?

Not too surprisingly, Shaun thought this was an excellent notion and assured Melena of our absolute compliance. #men

So, off she went to the birth center, leaving us alone, one of us still hugely pregnant and contracting every 10 minutes and the other grinning like a mouse who got locked in a cookie jar.

And then…but wait. I just looked and saw that this post is over 2,000 words long already, and all I’ve only covered the part where I wasn’t really in labor, so let’s just take a break for a moment and reconvene for Part 2 soon, okay?

Okay.

Honor, who has been doing this pretty much the entire time I typed this…

honor

is starting to wake up and tell me about all of his hopes and dreams (aka: milk).

Until Part 2!

 

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What a Big Honor

Just thought I’d pop in and let you guys know that #babynumber7 finally (FINALLY!) made his big (somewhat literally) arrival this morning at 2:25.

honor3

His name is Honor Daniel, and he measured in at 9 lbs. 1 oz. (one ounce smaller than Simon) and 22″ long.

So…big boy! Although, I feel like the above pic makes him look considerably heftier than he is.

Honor

{Or not; he looks like a giant here too}

honor1

{Nothing more attractive than a daddy loving on his baby}

So far, he’s a super-chill sweetheart, except for when you put him down. Ha! But even then, he just kind of bleats like a cute little sheep, so, of course, we pick him right back up again.

honor2

Sorry for the blurry pic. It’s hard to get in there for a decent shot with all of those little sister/cousin hands petting him.

I’ll share a detailed birth story when I’ve had more sleep, but I just wanted to thank all of you again for praying for me. His labor was hard, and I felt every one of those prayers as God was faithful to pull me through with each contraction.

And now…to sleep! (Maybe; feel free to pray for that too)

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