Category Archives: Baby

Still pregnant, still here! {32 Week Update with Baby #8}

Hey-o!

How are you, my friends?! Good, I hope. Filled with the joy of the Christmas season? I hope that too. I mentioned on Instagram (which is the optimal place to find me these busy days) that Christmas has been a source of stress in some ways in the past–because of my own self-imposed goals or a bad habit of trying to measure up to someone else’s awesome decorating or tradition-creating standards.

This year (last year too) has felt considerably less hectic and demanding in terms of scheduling and my own expectations for myself. For which I am SO grateful!

But! This year also brings with it the (familiar…this my the 3rd Christmastime pregnancy) challenge of trying to finish well with homeschooling, teaching at our homeschool co-op, and all of the other “necessary” things of the season while very, very pregnant.

How pregnant? 32(ish) weeks.

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I know that I’ve done a terrible job of updating you guys here on the blog as the pregnancy has progressed (hence the Instagram plug, where I do a pretty decent job of posting regular pics), so I thought I’d take a second to give you the lowdown to get you up to speed.

 So, what is this baby anyway? 

Boy. It’s another boy! Honestly, we were thinking girl for the first half of the pregnancy because the same lady who has done 90% of my sonograms with the other kids said she was thinking it was a girl (at an early sono…13 weeks), and I had been leaning that direction with how hormonal/sick I’d been feeling. 

We had a girl name (that I looooove) picked out, and I’d even gone so far as to buy a couple of new little girl things on clearance here and there (I must admit I was a wee bit excited about the prospect of bows and frills after a 6+ year girl drought).

And then, we had our 21 week bio-physical sonogram. The technician asked us if we already knew gender, and we said that we had an inkling. And then, he swiped the wand across my belly, and that inkling did a 180 in about .2 seconds.

Disappointed is not the right word to describe how I feel. I love my boys!! And I think it will be so fun for Theo and Honor to have their own little band of Three Musketeers. But I still had to perform a bit of a brain adjustment after thinking of this little one as a “she” for so long.

I wasn’t the only one either.

When Shaun walked through the door and informed our way eager-to-know offspring that we were having another boy, Nola burst into devastated tears!

Good thing we’d had the forethought to bring home a GIRL puppy at the exact same time, right?

Ha.

No. We didn’t. Have the forethought, that is.

We DID, however, providentially bring home a puppy.

I say providentially because we couldn’t have planned what a consolation she would be, even if we’d tried.

We had been thinking/praying about a dog for a while but had no definite plans of getting one immediately, until Shaun just so “happened” to check around, and there just so “happened” to be a litter of beagle puppies (the breed we were most interested in) available in our area, and the lady just so “happened” to volunteer to meet us after our sonogram appointment for us to choose between the two remaining girl puppies she had.

We chose this little cutie–a red-head we named Ruby.

ruby

{She’s only 7 weeks here}

She has a penchant for snuggling in my lap, bombarding me with SBD’s (silent but deadly, natch) every night and tearing around like toddler on crack a good portion of the rest of the day. Unless, we have a fire going. In which case, she curls up in front of it for about 4 hours at a time, only taking breaks to eat, drink, and pee on the floor if we don’t remember to take her outside (turns out I’m way better at potty-training humans than dogs).

But I digress.

She’s been with us for almost 3 months now and definitely feels like one of the family (although, if you’d told me I would EVER say that about a dog, I would have snickered with derision). And she definitely took the edge off of that unexpected “boy baby” announcement because as soon as Shaun announced we were having a boy, I walked in holding Ruby, and he finished with: “But THIS is a girl!”

You have never seen a little girl dry her tears and replace her expression of woe with glee as quickly as Nola did!

Yeah, we planned that (no, we didn’t).

Ahem. But back to this pregnancy/baby.

How are you feeling?

Aw, thanks for asking, guys. The short answer: pregnant. Very pregnant. I mean, I feel fine. And I’m still able to do everything “normally,” but I feel like my belly is growing by leaps and bounds every day, and this is for sure the biggest I’ve ever been (belly-wise) at this stage. In fact, I was a bit shocked to discover that I was measuring where I should at my last midwife appointment, since I have always measured behind every other time except with the twins (with whom I measured “on time” for a singleton). The difference between the size/look/feeling of my belly in the morning and the evening is laughably huge (pun intended). I start out the day looking small for my gestational stage and end it FEELING like a whale…and looking considerably, ahem, rounder. For the record, the above 32-week pic is after lunch, so it’s a pretty true representation of my current belly state.

Also, I really feel like my birthday (last month) and Thanksgiving have made considerable, generous contributions to my burgeoning belly. I imagine Christmas will have something to say about it too. So, when I consider that plus the fact that, at 32 weeks, I probably still have 10 weeks to go (since I’ve gone to 42 weeks 4 times already), I’m feeling a wee bit nervous about the prospect of a 10 pound baby (Honor was 9 lb. 1 oz, so we shall see).

Do you have a name yet?

We do! Although, it took a bit more convincing (from me to Shaun) than usual. I’m not sharing it until he’s born, but, if you’ve read my “name game” post, then you know that it has to (and does) match our family name aesthetic.

Anything new this time around?

Not really. Although, the round ligament pain has been considerably more intense/frequent than ever before. My varicose veins (in my right leg only) continue to worsen, despite (intermittent and halfhearted) efforts on my part to treat them with compression, oils, and supplements. Well, I will say that they aren’t hurting too badly these days. But they SURE are ugly!

Other than that, it’s business as usual. Braxton Hicks contractions just returned about a week ago, which is a bit later than the last two pregnancies. I still sleep much better than any very pregnant woman has a right to every night. And I’ve resumed my pattern of pregnancy-induced snoring if I every flip over on my back at night (Shaun’s favorite…although, he’s the best sport about it).

Compared to others who spend their entire pregnancy vomiting or fighting debilitating sciatic nerve pain, my pregnancies are a dream.

Doesn’t mean I’m not ready to be done already. Because I am. If only there weren’t that whole pesky labor business to get through first. (Oh, and the fact that, of course I don’t want my baby to come at 32 weeks for his sake).

Any big plans for labor?

Yes! Have a baby at home with as little pain and time spent doing it as possible.

…..ha!

As a veteran of protracted, (normal-level) painful labors, I am fully expecting another hiccupy, long, grueling labor with this one. But! I’m still asking for the Lord’s mercy in a couple of things: 1. That my water would not break ahead of time. If you recall, this happened for the first time with Honor, and the contractions were, by far, the worst I’ve ever experienced as a result of not having that amniotic fluid cushion. And 2. That I would be able to deliver in the water again. I was able to with Honor (every other time I’d tried, it had killed my contractions), but I think that’s because his contractions were so strong/agonizing/freight-trainish at the end that nothing was going to slow them down.

Aaaaand there you have it, folks!

Honestly, other than more frequent pictorial evidence, you haven’t missed just tons. I have (thankfully) uneventful pregnancies on the whole, and this one has followed that pattern so far.

Oh! And just so you know (because people always ask), I am doing my Amazon Gift Guide again this year, so there will not be another 3 month gap between posts. In fact, I hope to have the first installment done in the next several days. Lord willing. We’ll see. ;)

ALSO, just so you know, we have a Paint and Prose sale going on right now (40% off with the code CYBER40) through Saturday, which will be your last chance to snag prints at such a big discount before Christmas.

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To the Mama Who’s Embarrassed to Announce Her Pregnancy

Since sharing that we’re expecting #8, I’ve been kind of blown away by the outpouring of love and support in response to the announcement.

I know that many of you have followed along here for ages and probably feel as if you know our family personally (I feel the same about certain online “friends”), and I expected you to be kind (and you were!).

But I also know that 8 (!!) sounds a wee bit batty to lots of folks (20-year-old Abbie would have thought so, certainly). So, I expected at least a few bemused responses and maybe even a few downright hostile ones (I’ve received it and seen it elsewhere before).

And yet, the reaction has been universally positive–effusively so, even.

I say all of this both to thank you for your kindness but also to establish that I know exactly what it feels like to press publish on a post (blog or otherwise) with trepidation in my heart and a tremble in my fingers.

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Photo: Jason Stitt Photography

It is hard to expose such a tender part of your heart to the world, only to have it handled roughly by strangers.

Imagine then, how much harder it would be to receive unwelcome responses from someone close to you. (Some of you don’t have to imagine because you’ve already experienced it). Not a stranger, but someone who knows you well and still chooses to receive your news of joy with a sneer or a smirk.

A sweet reader recently messaged me asking how to cope with that fear of what others will think when they reveal the news of “yet another kid.” Had I ever dealt with that? What did I do?

Answer: Yes! The thought of what others would think has (sadly) been among the first that have popped into my head every single time I’ve seen a positive pregnancy test result. To be fair, that worry has lessened each time because 1) hey, if they haven’t figured out that this is how we roll by this point, nothing I say is going to change their response, and 2) the older I get, the less I twist myself into knots over whether people like my decisions as long as both my husband and I know them to be godly ones. 

Truth is: it doesn’t take a whole lot of negativity for the doubt to creep in. One woman in particular comes to mind each time I’m pregnant, and I inwardly groan, dreading Mary’s (not her name) finding out and making another comment about how I “already have quite the litter.” (Yup. Litter).

My family? Completely positive. Shaun’s family? Same.

And I KNOW what a blessing and how unusual that is (from so many of you writing to ask how to deal with resistant family members).

But here’s the thing: maybe you’re not announcing Baby #5 or #9. Maybe it’s your first and you’re getting blow back because of the timing (I can still remember the lady who chirped: “Oops! Accidents happen!” upon finding out that we were pregnant with our first only 3 months after our wedding…who was not an accident, by the way). Maybe it’s your second, and they’re close together, and your Aunt Mildred says something like: “Didn’t we just do this?” (We, Aunt Mildred? We? I don’t recall your taking a turn when I was pushing this baby out).

Maybe it’s Number 3, and the first two are boys, and you’re maybe sorta hoping for a girl but happy with whatever God gives and yet dreading the exclamations of condolence if it turns out to be “yet another” boy.

The thing is, negative responses to kid numbers (of any size) don’t just stop at pregnancy announcements, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. A teenager at the gym daycare the other day exclaimed, “Oh, I’m SORRY!” when I revealed that I actually had 7 kids on the outside and one baking (Honor and Theo were the only ones with me). (My response: “Don’t be! I’m not!” With a big smile, of course).

So, given the fact that we are guaranteed to encounter some kind of negativity to the number of kids we have (whether 0 or 20), how do we respond?

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Well, first, let’s go with how we don’t respond.

I wish, for example, that I could take back the “announcement” email I wrote to my fellow fitness instructors when I was pregnant with Theo, sheepishly saying something like, “I’m afraid we’ll be adding another little ankle-biter to our crew around Christmas, and I’ll be needing some subs for my classes.”

I wasn’t afraid of any such thing, y’all. I’d just allowed a few condescending remarks to undermine my confidence and felt hesitant to own my excitement at adding a sixth baby to our crew.

What I wish I’d said: “You guys! Exciting news! We’re having another sweet baby around Christmas, which means you guys get to earn some extra money covering my classes. Thanks ahead of time for your help and support!”

Do you know how they would have responded? With cheers! Because the tone I had set would have determined theirs.

When we are ready to tell the world about the children (regardless of the number) that the Lord has gifted us with, we should boldly proclaim our excitement, joy, and anticipation of the amazing things he is going to do with us and through us and this new life.

Being pregnant inside marriage is nothing to be ashamed of. It is a part of God’s plan for humankind (although, I know many who are still struggling to find their place in that plan and hope that you can read this with as little pain as possible). And it is a GOOD plan.

Every single baby is a good, good gift. And I have found that each time I put the focus on that truth and conveying that joy to the rest of the world, the world tends to join with me in rejoicing. (Not always the case, I realize, but often true).

Each time I present the blessing I’ve been given in a back-door, apologetic way, I’ve been met with people who feel free to say things like: “Ay yay yay, again?” and “Better you than me!”

So, here’s my encouragement to you: if you feel led to have lots of babies, have the babies the Lord gives you and announce their imminent arrival with ecstatic confidence. Same answer if you’ve been called to a smaller number. EVERY. BABY. IS. A. BLESSING.

Side note: Several years ago, after a kind lady told me what an encouragement my positive response to her compliment on my “beautiful family” had been, I started making it a practice to respond super positively to as many comments (good, bad, neutral) as I can about my children. I say things like: “Yes! They are fun” and, “I really like them!” It throws people way off. Because when they say something like, “I don’t know how you do it with 7. I’m losing my mind with 2,” they are expecting a similarly frazzled response. Thing is: you may be feeling frazzled in that very moment. Kids are expert frazzlers. But just by choosing to focus on the positive (“It can be a bit chaotic, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything!”), your perspective shifts, and you are able to see your kids for the blessings they are. AND! You have given that other frazzled mom something unexpected to chew on, instead of the usual elbow nudge of negative solidarity. Who knows? It may help her to view her kids in a different light or just lift her spirits a bit.

Choosing joy when we’re dreading others’ not joining in is hard. But hard is not the same thing as bad, and the more joy we choose, the more permission we give for others to do the same.

Speaking of pregnancy announcements, where my other pregnant mamas at? I’d love to know your names, due dates, etc. so I can pray for you and rejoice with you (just like you’ve already done for me).

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