Category Archives: Baby

I’m rockin’ my Rockin’ Baby Sling {Review and GIVEAWAY for YOU!}

Okay, first of all, let it be known that you guys are THEE best.

I got 475 opinions here on the blog and social media in response to my request for your input about my new glasses. And, while I’m still plowing through them all in search of a consensus, I’m just blown away at how sweet y’all are to take the time to share your thoughts with me about silly things like which frames best fit my face shape. I know I’ll never get to meet most of you, but I still feel like I get to pull up a chair and chat with a bunch of rad girlfriends several times a week. And, let me tell you, you can’t beat that with a rubber-spatula-cum-spanker (click if you want a laugh plus a priceless picture of Evy).

And now onto today’s business…

I’m not the world’s biggest baby-wearer at home. And I’m not talking about my physical stature either. I just don’t do it a ton.

Mostly, that’s because a) my babies tends to be of the non-fussy variety (please don’t e-stone me) and are usually pretty content to be in their swings or bumbo seats near me while I cook/homeschool/blog/whatever and b) I have a lot of helping hands. (I remember wearing Ezra, my firstborn, in his Baby Bjorn throughout many a meal prep, so I’d say the helping hands bit has been the biggest factor in my not baby-wearing at home that much of late)). I mean, seriously, I turned around in the middle of getting dinner ready last night to see Simon changing Theo’s poopy diaper without being asked.

(And then I belted the Hallelujah chorus along with the angel choir that descended through my kitchen ceiling).

But I am so, SO grateful for the ability to wear my babies when they do get cranky or when I’m out and about or if I just feel like snuggling my baby close, hands-free. So, when Rockin’ Baby contacted me about taking one of their slings for a spin AND giving one away to you lovely folks, you better believe I jumped on that one like a duck on a June bug. (Or, I should say, like my 7-year-old on a June bug; he’d beat out a duck any day).

I had never tried a ring-sling before, so I was excited to test something new.

Turns out, me likey.

It took a bit of maneuvering to get the ring to adjust easily at first, but the kind folks at Rockin’ Baby had warned me that there was a bit of a learning curve and that once I had the hang of it, I’d love it.

They were right.


After the initial test, in which I did a lot of shifting and attempts at tightening–only semi-successfully–I tried again the next day and found the process at least twice as simple/intuitive. And every time since, it’s gotten easier and easier to simply slip Theo down inside the pouch and then cinch him up nice and cozy to my chest.

As far as his opinion on the arrangement.


He’s a huge fan. He loves being snuggled up close to me and will happily ride around in the sling while I meal-prep or do chores for as long as I’m willing/able to carry him.

I have yet to find a single carrier that doesn’t produce a burning ice-pick point of pain in my upper right shoulder after about 45 minutes of wear–no matter what its claims for ergonomic correctness or superior weight distribution.


And I’ll be honest–the Rockin’ Baby sling is no exception…although I can carry Theo in it longer than usual without the burning sensation, and it never reaches the heights it does with some other carriers.

But let’s face it: that has pretty much everything to do with the fact that I need to go see a chiropractor and nothing to do with the carriers themselves.

In fact, this sling is so comfortable that I’ve found myself reaching for it more and more recently, even when Theo didn’t necessarily “need” to be carried.


I chose the “You Win Again” reversible sling, and I can honestly say, without reservation, that I was extremely impressed with the sturdiness of the stitching and the quality of the fabric. Not only impressed but surprised. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, since clearly, I would want a product that held my baby to be well-made and durable, but this sling exceeded even my highest expectations.

I also love that, since Theo is so happy in it, he often slides off into dreamland for a snooze while I’m carrying him. I can then loosen the sling super-easily, which allows me to lay him down still sleeping if necessary.


And you know what else I love? The fact that, for every sling or pouch purchased from Rockin’ Baby, they donate another to a needy mother in Kenya or Haiti and educate her about the importance of its use.

Plus, on a much more frivolous note, Rockin’ Baby has so many fun prints that I had to do a FB poll just to help me decide which one I should choose!


The best part of all is that I’m not that only who gets to benefit from Rockin’ Baby’s generosity. Not only did they provide a sling for me to review, but they’re also giving one away to one of you lucky ducks.

To be entered to win, simply a) comment with a time when baby-wearing saved your bacon (mine would definitely be that time I carried Ezra all over New York City for 9 straight hours; not sure my shoulders have ever been the same, but it sure was convenient!), or, if you’ve never used a baby-carrier,  b) tell me about why you want to start now.

For extra entries, you can like the Rockin’ Baby Facebook Page or share about this giveaway via any form of social media (just be sure to leave me a comment telling me where you shared).

*Entries only open to residents of U.S. and Canada. Giveaway closes Monday, April 20 at 11:59 PM.

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Theo is 2 Months Old!

Okay, so Theo isn’t exactly 2 months old. I would have to be waaaaaay more on top of things that I currently am to be that exact. But, with the whole 6 kids to care for (and feed! why must I always give them all the food?!), I’m going to call 4 days “late” pretty good. Either that, or we’re just going to say that I’m reeeeeeeeeally early for his 3 month pictures. And–let’s be real—no lady with half a dozen children is ever early to anything.

ANYhoo, calendar semantics aside, Theo is 2 months-ish, and so it’s time for me to show you the mandatory cute pictures. I really loved the way his one month fancy camera pics turned out, but this month (and probably every month hereafter), we’re back to the grainy cell phone pics.

Good thing he’s got the best smile in the history of ever to make up for the low picture quality.

happyboycollage1I mean, seriously, how could we care about blurriness and the fact that his outfit is on backwards (which I kind of love because he is our little caboose right now) when there is so much sweetness in six little squares?

The best of the bestest parts, though, is that these pictures are accurate representations of this little boy 95% of the time.

Theo is a dream baby. He naps, he smiles, he eats, he poops, he cycles his little hands and feet through the air, he snuggles, he snores (seriously, it’s adorable, but he’s loud), he giggles (yup, straight up), he coos on command (especially for his daddy), he sleeps all night, and he just generally brings so much joy to our family that I sometimes just stare at him and think, “What did we ever do without you, kid?”

God is so, so gracious to me. This would be just as true if Theo were colicky and sickly and grouchy. It would be true if he projectile vomited on me 10 times a day and never slept a wink at night.

(Although, emotionally, I might not “feel” the truth as deeply; thank the Lord that truth is truth, regardless of our emotions).

But I never want to take a “good” baby for granted. I never want to think, “Well, of course he’s good. That’s what I deserve.”

Because it’s totally not.

I can only say that “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

And I am so thankful for the good and perfect gift that is Theo.

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A Seven-Time Mama’s Best Tips for Sleep-Training Babies

Yesterday, I posted this bit of cuteness to my Instagram

theo sleeping

…with this caption:

Apparently, waking up to big sister shaking a stuffed bunny in your face is no big thang.
#sixthchild #overit

Y’all. Can I just take a moment to brag on God and say how grateful I am for His provision and grace in this whole six kid business?
I know by our society’s standards that six kids is a lot, and there are days when it feels that way to me too… But mostly, it’s just awesome. Which is not the same thing as easy but way better.
Praise the Lord that Theo is awesome AND easy. And smiley. And chill. And… Well, you get the idea. I am one blessed mama.
#boastintheLord #HEhasdonegreatthings

Here’s the thing: I think one of the greatest provisions that the Lord granted me, long before I ever had even one child, was a wise Mama of my own–one who had been given sound sleep-training advice for babies when she was a young mama and who was kind enough to pass that information along to her clueless daughter.

And then, by extension, an even greater grace has been children who, after being trained with this method, have slept long stretches from very early ages. Because there’s nothing quite like a decent night’s sleep to convince you that you can, indeed, face another day full of tantrums and diaper blowouts, gloppy-sloppy kisses (that deposit yogurt all over your favorite sweatshirt) and spilled bowls of cereal, math problems and questions like, “But HOW did the baby get in your belly?”

Flip that scenario to one of sleep-deprivation, and, suddenly, the tiniest whimper feels like an ice-pick to your brain, and that soggy mess of Raisin Bran on the floor feels like the “one more thing” that will tip you over the edge into insanity.

I’ve mentioned several times here that I have babies who sleep well, and as a result, I’ve gotten multiple comments/emails/questions about how I manage such a thing.

But here’s the thing: I may have 6 kids, but I don’t feel like a “kid expert.” I’m not “that mom” who has a binder full of activities for boredom-days and a perfectly organized medicine cabinet (but more power to you if you are; you are a-w-e-s-o-m-e). I do, however, feel like I have a really good handle on what works for our family, our kids. It just never really occurs to me to assume that it would be best for anyone else, though. Plus, I don’t ever want to sound like I’m telling hard-working Mamas how to do their thing.

But when a mama with 4 littles under 4-years-old (including a newborn) reached out to ask about my sleep-training routine when her #4 was throwing her for a loop, it occurred to me that, perhaps, my reticence to share might be more selfish than open minded.

Maybe I’m hesitant, not because I don’t have anything to offer, but because I’m afraid of getting yelled at or because I don’t want to appear “bossy,” even if my desire is genuinely to help.

After the mama I mentioned earlier and I talked on the phone, she sent me a text a couple of days later thanking me and saying how much better her baby was sleeping. I was thrilled! Not because of anything I’d done (because I hadn’t done anything but describe our routine; she had done all the work) but because this sweet mama, who had been waking up every hour to feed her baby, was getting some relief.

I asked her if she felt like anything I said had helped particularly, and she pointed out some specific things and said that my encouragement to stay the course had helped her carry through.

So, with great trepidation, knowing full well that sleep-training is kind of sacred Mama ground, and I may get crucified in the comments section, I decided to share what works for us.

But please hear me when I say that if you have something else that works for you, WONDERFUL. I couldn’t be happier for you. I am simply sharing our routine in the hope that, if there’s someone who hasn’t found anything that helps her baby sleep and is at her wit’s end, she might be able to use even one aspect of what we do to start getting more sleep and feeling a little more human again.

Okay, was that enough disclaimers to convince you that I don’t think I have everything figured out? Hope so. :)

So, without further ado, I give you…

 theo sleeping1

Just as a point of reference, here are the ages that my kids have slept through the night (6-8 hours) and continued doing so:

Ezra – 5 days (I know)

Simon – 2 weeks

Della – 5 weeks

Evy/Nola – 11 weeks

Which brings us to Theo, who, at 7 weeks, has been sleeping 7-8 hours all week and pulled a 9 hour stretch between feedings last night.

Edit: Baby #7, whose name is Honor, is here, and he is sleeping 10 hours stretches at 8 weeks!

So, what do I do exactly?

Well, let’s start with what I don’t do. I am not a strictly scheduled person (although, I do believe that a basic routine is key to getting an early/good sleeper). And I don’t wake sleeping babies to feed them so that they will stay on a set schedule.

During the day, when they are very little, I let them set their own sleeping patterns for the most part. Generally, that means a longer sleep (3ish hours) in the morning and afternoon, with a steady regimen of feedings every 2-2 1/2 hours in between. Are there days that it doesn’t look like this? Sure. But I try to make them the exception rather than the rule.

In the evenings, though, I do my best to keep them awake, even from a very young age (about a week old and beyond) from 6 PM until they simply can’t keep their eyelids open any longer. Obviously, when they’re very little, this may only be a 1-2 hours.  By 3-4 weeks, though, they’re usually staying awake for 4-5 hours, starting around 4-5 PM. (Oh, and in case you’re wondering how I keep them awake, I try anything from bathing them to changing their diapers to rubbing their feet to taking all their clothes off and tickling them; whatever seems to stimulate and keep them alert for a while).

I’ve also found that almost all of my babies usually have a fussy period somewhere between 7-9 PM. By “fussy period,” I simply mean that, even though they are fed, changed, and have been held and played with, they simply can’t seem to get happy for a bit. From what I’ve heard from other moms/pediatricians, this is not just my kids and is a pretty sure sign your baby is gearing up for a longer sleep and needs to get his last bits of frustration/energy for the day out.

My response to this is to let them. I will lay them down on our guestroom bed, barricaded with pillows, or in their bassinet and let them kick and cry for a little while (no more than 10-15 minutes). I’m not talking about an all out screaming session either. Just a period where they exercise their lungs intermittently while they learn to self-soothe and calm themselves down a bit.

(I’m certainly no advocate of abandoning your baby or causing them intentional distress, but neither do I believe that you will scar your baby for life by letting her cry for a brief period).

After a round of this, I’ll go get them, change their diaper, put their p.j.s on, and swaddle them (we’re currently using these Aiden and Anaise swaddling blankets, which are fine but too big for my tastes; they do get the job done, though, and, as a bonus, make great nursing covers because the fabric is lightweight and a bit grippy, so it won’t slide off your shoulders like most blankies do).

The other thing I do in the evenings is cluster-feed. Once my babies have their nights and days straight, they tend to be hungrier during the evenings. So, even though I may end up feeding them three times between 7 and 11, I figure it’s worth it if it means that they then sleep from 11-4 instead of waking up 2 hours later.

With Ezra (my first), I was waaaaaaaaay stricter about feeding times, and I was adamant about not using a pacifier, but all that got me was a little boy who sucked his fingers until age four.

I’m considerably chiller about things now, mostly because I know that each kid is different, and every phase he goes through is just that–a tiny ripple in the vast ocean of my mothering years (how’s that for an analogy that backfires and makes you feel like they will never be potty-trained or learn to stop eating apple sauce with their hands?).

So, all that to say, that I’m totally fine with pacifiers now, if my kid seems to need one. (Ezra, the twins, and Theo have all been high-suck need kiddos. Simon and Della, not at all).

I use Theo’s paci to calm him down or to help him go back to sleep if he stirs in the night, but I don’t usually put him down to bed with it. It’s not a big deal. But I prefer for my kids to be able to go to sleep on their own without sucking on anything (if I have any say in it; Ezra and the twins are/were finger-suckers, so have fun with that, Mama!).

Once we’ve established a pattern of staying awake in the evenings and a routine for our last feeding before “bedtime,” I wake up with/feed my kids whenever they wake up until they establish some kind of strong pattern that shows their bodies can handle a longer stretch of time without eating.

For example, once they sleep 3-4 hours a night consistently for 4 days in a row, I will do everything in my power not to regress back to feeding them every two hours (unless it’s obvious that there’s a good reason for it, like a growth spurt). Same goes for 6 hours and 8 hours and so on. If I have to roll the bassinet into the closet and let them fuss for 10 minutes to make sure they really are hungry, so be it.

One thing I’ve discovered through all of this is that most babies would rather sleep than cry (and I don’t just have sedate little mewling babies; they are–ahem–lung-exercisers, for sure). And if they’re not truly hungry, chances are they’ll decide to go back to bed if they find out that they may not be fed the very mili-second that that stir or make a noise.

The last thing in my sleep-training arsenal is, perhaps, a bit strange, but it has worked SO well for us…for a number of reasons.

It a down-filled pillow from Ikea. Although, honestly, any down pillow would work because the down filling is what gives it the ideal level of give/squishiness. We lay it in our bassinet (where our babies sleep for the first several months until they get too big) and roll up a towel under one end to create an incline (with the baby’s head slightly higher than his feet). Then, we sort of “hollow out” the center of the pillow vertically (by smooshing it down with our hands; again, the down keeps its shape) and place our little swaddled burrito baby in that indention, so he’s nice and cozy.

theo sleeping

{Same pic from above, but now you know that he’s lying on “the magic pillow”}

There are tons of specialty foam incline inserts and such that we’ve tried, but they all tended to make flat spots on the back of our babies’ heads because they didn’t give enough. But this pillow? It’s like magic. Seriously, if you have a baby who needs to feel cocooned to sleep, give this a try. It just might be the best $15 you ever spend. (Just make sure to put a smooth pillow cover on it since the one it comes with is grippy and can easily wear bald spots…not that we learned this the hard way or anything :/).

One last note is that, if you watch closely, you’ll start to notice your baby’s “sleep-cues.” There are the obvious ones–like eye rubbing, yawning, and fussiness. Often, though, your own baby will have his/her own cues. Once you learn them, try to pay attention to when they happen. Chances are, if you’ve been sticking to a routine, you’ll find out that they happen just when they “should” and that if you ignore them, you may get a baby whose nerves are so worn that they’re “too tired to sleep.” Getting your baby on a schedule where you can lay them down to sleep before they ever get to the extreme cues can save you a lot of sleep-training headaches. It may be somewhat inconvenient, especially if you’re not a big “schedule” sort, but it’s worth it in the end.

Ha! One last LAST thing. Don’t give up. Seriously. When you’re tired and stressed, it feels like such a good idea to just do the “easy thing.” And that may have to happen one night when nothing is working and you know you’re going to be crazy tomorrow if you don’t just feed him already and get back to sleep. But try to get back into the routine the very next day. It’s hard at first, but it pays big time dividends in the end.

And…there you have it, folks!

All of my sleep-training “secrets” in one post.

I think the best thing is that, once you’ve got your baby trained, even though it may take weeks, chances are–outside of a hiccup here or there–they’ll keep right on doing what you’ve taught them to, even without all of the complicated keeping-them-awake techniques or “magic pillows.” We’ve never had any problem transitioning our kids into their cribs from their bassinets because, by that point, they have learned to love sleep and know when they’re supposed to be doing it. The whereof it doesn’t matter to them at all.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask (I know I’ve already gotten several concerns about sleep-regression and just from posting a teaser on Instagram/FB, so be sure to leave those here). And if you have something that’s worked great for you, I want to hear that too! I’d love for the comments on this post to be a kind of forum where desperate, sleep-deprived mamas can come for wisdom, and I know that you awesome mamas have plenty to offer!

**I’m sure it goes without saying that we should be kind, respectful, and understanding of any advice offered/questions posted here. Thanks! Y’all are the best!

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Theo is 1 Month Old!

Today, this little stud is…

It’s craziness. Truly. I know that, usually, when time feels like it’s flying, you’re supposed to say something like: on the one hand, it feels like it’s been forever, but on the other, it feels really fast.

Nope. It just feels fast. If I were to respond without thinking to the question: “When was Theo born?” I’d probably blurt out: “Last week.”

Apparently, this is life with 6 kids. I’m going to blink a few times, and he’ll be handing me a grandchild to hold (yipes!).

In exactly twenty minutes (at the time of my writing this), Theo will have been on this air-breathing earth for precisely one month. Cue: brain explosion.

In the past 4 weeks, there have been moments of absolute chaos (the night all of the “big kids” came back from my mom’s house was a fiasco. It thunder-stormed. No one slept. The 4-year-old got so upset that she peed on me…at 1 in the morning. As soon as one kid got settled down, another started shrieking. And I remember staring bleary-eyed at Shaun somewhere in the vicinity of 3:45 AM and understanding exactly what that shell-shocked look in his eyes meant, no words needed). Exhaustion too. And “peed on” has been a bit of a theme, actually. But an even bigger theme is joy.

And I wouldn’t trade any of it (okay, I might have traded the moment I realized that I had leaked all through my shirt–thank goodness for baby carriers to hide the stains–in the middle of a Dallas mall on Theo’s circumcision day).

Theo is an absolute doll. Happy and easygoing. Super-interactive. Sleeping well (although, at 5 hours a night, he’s way behind the curve for most of his siblings, who slept through the night by month one…try not to hate me too much). SMILING. Since week 1. No lie.

Want proof?


These are shots I shared from week to week on my Instagram feed (if you want the latest and greatest #Theobaby shots, following along there is your best bet), and it’s hard for me to fathom how different he looks from day-to-day. You’d think I’d be all jaded with this baby business by #6, but I honestly don’t think I’ve ever wanted one of my children to just stay little as much as I do for him.

I’ll write a post soon(ish) in more detail about what life with six is like, but for now I thought I’d just bombard you with a few more shots of Theo at one month (because this is the first time since week one that I’ve actually gotten my act together to take any pictures with my big-girl camera. And that right there is proof-positive that he’s Baby #6, amiright???).


I didn’t manage to capture a full-on smile before he got tired of posing for me, but he’s been sharing his cute little crooked, open-mouthed, wrinkly nosed grin with us since practically week one (at first, I couldn’t believe it, but he’s never stopped, so I’m calling LEGIT!) onemonth2

Della insisted that I include this one because, “He’s holding his fingers up for how old I am!!!!” (insert super-high-pitched squeal of excitement). onemonth3 onemonth5 onemonth7

Ack! Isn’t he the cutest? (Not that I’m biased or anything).

There’s a fair chance that I won’t post another update until he’s six-months-old with the way time is slipping by, but I couldn’t resist sharing a bit of his wonderfulness with you guys.

P.S. Our It Works 3-winner wrap giveaway ends TONIGHT! Super-easy entry. Don’t forget to get your name in the hat to win!

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Theo’s Birth Story {Part 2}

So, I realize that, on Tuesday, I did a pretty spectacular job of leaving y’all hanging by a very thin thread (although, as one reader pointed out: “Even with a cliffhanger, we all know the baby did come out!”). But it wasn’t all in the name of cheap theatrics.

Because, as much as I would have loved to have been very close to the end at 7 AM when I was dilated to almost a 10 and had been laboring for weeks over 12 hours already…the finish line was still miles away. And that post was already getting loooooong.

ANYhoo, once I found out how far along I was, I was more determined than ever to do whatever it took to get my contractions to do their job. To that end, I stomped down the stairs and started doing laps around the circle that makes up our living room, kitchen, dining room, and entryway. More than with any other labor, my contractions had seemed to be strangely regulated by a change in activity/condition (case in point: before I got in the tub, I stuck my toe in the water, which was way too hot, and immediately experienced a contraction so painful and intense that I could barely pull my foot back).

If I stood up, I had a contraction. If I sat down, same thing. If I went to the bathroom, contraction. Coughed, contraction. Thought about contractions, contraction. They never completely stopped, but if I did any one thing for too long, they invariably slowed down, so I was constantly changing my activities–babying them along, if you’ll pardon the bad pun–to make sure they progressed.

With each lap I made around the downstairs, I prayed for the Lord to bring this baby in His time and His way and thanked Him for getting me this far. I had been in awe of just how manageable (if ridiculously slow) the process had been so far and had been breathing prayers of praise for His grace and provision for such an easy labor. But now, it was time for pain. As I marched and prayed, I immediately felt my contractions strengthen. I would feel one coming and speed up to make it to the stair newel so I could hang on for dear life and squat deep into the contraction in hopes of forcing his head low enough to trigger the urge to push.

Pretty soon, I was having contractions every 3 minutes or so (the closest they had come for the entirety of the labor), and they were the kind that make your eyes cross and your lower back want to secede from the Union. The don’t-talk-to-me-or-once-I-regain-the-use-of-my-limbs-I-will-deck-you kind.

I still didn’t quite feel like I was about to die, but I wasn’t exactly loving life either. When my midwife okayed trying the water again, I hobbled gratefully upstairs, hoping the water would once again work its magic. I never really got the chance to find out, though, because, the minute I got back in the tub, the contractions just…stopped.

I felt physically better and was able to carry on a conversation again, but I was pretty fed up with the my weird, sputtery labor. No matter how nonsensical the sentiment, there is a point during long labors in which you become convinced that your baby’s never ever coming out.  (My first-contraction-to-last-push labor times include: 44 hours, 28 hours, 32 hours, 4 days of stop/start labor + 8 hours of the real stuff, and then this one…so I know whereof I speak).

After about 8 minutes of sitting in the tub, chatting with my midwife, birth assistant, and husband as if hanging out in the bathroom in a ridiculous state of undress with other (clothed) adults is a totes normal thing for me, I felt the hint of a contraction approaching and started to change position so I wouldn’t have to endure it flat on my tailbone. The best I can tell, my sudden movement triggered a major contraction and, with it, the undeniable urge to push. This was at 8:30 AM.

Yeeeeeehaw! The finish line was in sight! My pushing periods are traditionally quite short, with 47 minutes having been my longest (and that was my Simon, my 9 lb. 2 oz. 23 1/2″ man-child).

But after my first initial pushing contraction…nothing happened. (Sensing a theme?)

I didn’t have another contraction for a good (bad, awful) 7 minutes. And then another, maybe 8 minutes after that. After 3-4 bizarre rounds of pushing followed by casual conversation, my midwife said she’d feel more comfortable if I could get out of the water and try to get the contractions down to–oh, you know–a reasonably normal amount of time apart for labor.

Theo’s heart rate was steady and strong, so fetal distress wasn’t a concern, but I think we were all pretty ready to get this show on the road.

I moved to the bed and pushed through several more rounds of contractions, starting to feel a little bewildered about this kid’s refusal to budge. My girls, especially, had pretty much come out on their own, so the burning sensation of crowning and then receding was pretty foreign to me.

After a particularly intense session that still produced no baby, my midwife checked my dilation one more time and discovered a tiny lip of cervix hanging around to complicate things. She looked at me seriously and said the words no laboring woman wants to hear: “I want you to stop pushing.”

I don’t think I gave her the nicest look ever.

“In fact, I want you to try to rest through the next several contractions, eat something, drink some water, let that lip of cervix go away completely so it doesn’t swell and block the baby’s head, and build up your strength for the end.”

The end??! 

You mean, this wasn’t it? Everything in me was rebelling against the concept of “taking a break” when we were this close, but I totally trust Melena, and I could already tell the pushing wasn’t terribly effective.

So, I took a “break,” muscles quivering and back spasming as I–well, there’s really no other word for it–survived multiple pushing contractions without actually pushing. My saving grace was that the contractions were still 5 minutes apart, which gave me time to gather a little bit of nerve and resolve for the next one (by this point, though, the contractions were 90 seconds long).

I’m not going to lie: that half hour was one of my least favorite labor memories to date. I could feel my body doing its job, though, working his head lower (who knew it were possible without his falling out??!)

When I finally said, “Melena, I don’t think I can fight this off any longer,” she said, “If you have the urge to push so strongly that your body’s doing it on its own, I’m fine with that.”

So, push I did. Melena assured me I was making progress, but it sure didn’t feel that way.

I know that lots of women deliver babies in all kinds of crazy positions, but I have always balked at the idea of pushing while on my feet. Fear of the unknown, I suppose. So, I was accepting but none-too-excited when Melena had me stand up so that we could elevate Theo’s (still strong but slightly lowered) heartbeat.

Which is how we arrive at, quite possibly, my least favorite labor memory to date. I don’t know if I was just doing it all wrong or subconsciously fighting the process or…what. But pushing while standing/squatting was miserable. At one point, everything felt stuck in a sadistic merry-go-round of pain. If I stood, it was excruciating. If I squatted, it was agony. Everything was shaking and the room was swimming. I could hear myself gasping (I’m not a screamer, and my breathing is usually pretty controlled, so hearing myself dragging in wheezing puffs of air was a bit disconcerting). All I remember is fire and pressure and Melena and Kathryn chanting, “Breath in through your nose and out through your mouth.” I had finally reached my, “I’m going to die,” moment, but it was quite different than I was used to.

Thankfully, I was able to get back on the bed quickly, and everything immediately felt better. Not great, mind you. But less like a panic attack on a constant loop. Which is kind of funny since she asked me what I was feeling (the word PAIN came to mind), and I said, “What do you mean?” And she said, “Well, you seemed like maybe you were having an anxiety attack.” Out loud, I said, “Maybe…I’ve never had one before,” but I think my brain was going, “Uh uh. That sounds right.”

The next half hour or so is a blur of pushing that felt like it might-actually-but-not-quite be working until the moment when, in the middle of what I was sure was going to be yet another fruitless contraction, I felt a sharp, searing shift in pressure.

I’ll spare you the gory details, but suffice it to say that this kid did not slide out as his siblings had. He made me work for every bit of his 21″ body.


{Theo, only moments after they handed him to me; he had a few battle scars from his reluctant entrance into the world}

(After it was all done, we discovered the reasons for his reluctance to come out: 1) the chord was woven all around his body and kept pulling him back up like a bungee rope each time a pushing contraction ended and 2) his head was off-center, which meant a wider section of skull for me to get out).

I remember being so in itthat I couldn’t think about anything else while at the same time having a strangely out-of-body experience of marveling at the sounds I was capable of producing and the fact that my body could actually survive this much stretching without shattering into a million little shards of pain.


{This is Melena, my awesome midwife! She was a birth assistant at the twins’ birth, and she has such a chill, gentle way about her that is really reassuring and relaxing and the same time. She and Kathryn both were so amazing as they patiently worked with me to get my obstinate body to give us a baby!}

The moment he was out, the relief came flooding in. They placed him on my chest, and I just kept staring at him and saying, “I can’t believe he’s actually here. It’s over. He’s actuallyhere.”


{Theo’s feet and hands are HUGE! His feet especially are, hilariously, too long for any of his newborn footie pajamas}

It never ceases to amaze me how it can go from being so, so bad to so, so good in the space of a mere second or two.


{This man…goodness, I am blessed to have him. He stays by my side through every long hour of every one of my labors, never wavering or complaining, always helpful without hovering. Gee, I sure do love him}


{Tired, but oh-so-happy!}

Praise God for his goodness and mercy in allowing me to have another healthy, precious baby.

I remember when a friend of mine had her sixth baby, and I wondered whether the process ever got ho-hum.

It doesn’t. At least not for me. I’m still just as awestruck at childbirth and just as smitten with each new baby. It’s just all too miraculous not to be.

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Theo’s Birth Story {Part 1}

I know not everyone loves a birth story. Some women eat them up like a plate full of freshly fried placenta (and everybody said, “Eeeeew, Aaaabbie!” But seriously, apparently this is becoming a major trend, y’all). Others find them a turn off (like the group of you who shuddered and slammed your laptops shut the second you read the word, “placenta”).

I’m somewhere in between–thriving on the drama and feeling of camaraderie and yet easily turned away by too much gore or unnecessary (but really, that’s pretty subjective) detail.

And so I find myself in a quandary–wondering how much to include, while still keeping the integrity of the story intact.

Still, at the risk of this getting really (and I mean, really) long, I feel like this story isn’t complete unless I rewind about 7 weeks to the moment when, at a mere 36 weeks pregnant, I suddenly started having regular, crampy contractions at my mom’s house one night for no apparent reason. Within ten minutes, my muscles started to spasm uncontrollably as my teeth chattered in my head (the result, I’m sure, of a surge of adrenaline at the prospect of delivering a preemie).

I lay down, gulped a few glasses of water, and practiced Lamaze breathing (hilariously enough, my mom chose that moment to introduce me to the tv series, Call the Midwife, so I could “take my mind off of the contractions.” It totally worked. Watching other people push babies out of their bodies was perversely calming).  And sure enough, the contractions eventually eased up, the muscle cramp in my lower back gradually released its death grip, and, within an hour, I felt as normal as an 8-month-pregnant girl can expect.

Honestly, it gave me a bit of a scare, but the most lasting effect was to trick my mind into something I had been refusing to even consider: that I might have an early baby, even though all of my common sense told me that this little guy would surely stay put as long as possible, just like 4 off my other 5 had done (Ezra, my first, was, quite surprisingly, 6 days early; I’m starting to suspect that it was because I was in much inferior physical shape to my current state; and, yes, that is an annoying thought).

Fast-forward to 38ish weeks pregnant and the Wednesday when my Braxton Hicks contractions just wouldn’t let up, for the love. I mentioned them to my midwife at my appointment that day, and she raised her eyebrows significantly and said, “Hmmm…maybe I’ll be seeing you later on tonight.”

I rolled my eyes and poo-pooed her suggestion with my usual, “Yeah right. He’ll show up 3 weeks from now.” (Just call me a prophet).

But then I went to teach Combat, and smack in the middle of a punching track, I had the sharp, twinging sensation that if I twisted too much, my water would break. His head felt that low. I continued contracting throughout the class, grateful for the fact that I tend to grimace while teaching Combat anyway, which meant that probably nobody thought too much of the, “Ow, that hurt,” faces I kept making in the middle of a roundhouse kick. In fact, I remember being distinctly relieved when a fellow instructor came in about halfway through the class because I thought, “Well, if my water breaks, at least Peggy can teach something for the rest of the class time.” (Side note: this specific instructor has been known to joke about her nightmare being that one of our pregnant instructors’ waters would break on stage. I’m so glad I wasn’t the one to bring it to life).

By the time I got home, the contractions hadn’t lessened a bit–were, in fact, increasing in intensity and duration. I even said to Shaun, “If these stick, I think we’re in business.”

In FACT, I drove to Walmart that night for various home birth necessities because I hadn’t bothered to order my birth kit yet. (For those who don’t know, a birth kit is a box of home-birthing items like sterilized cord clamps, blue pads, and such).

I’ve mentioned before that I’m really familiar with Braxton Hicks contractions and how deceptively painful/intense they can be. But these were different. When they just vanished after several hours of steady work, I knew they weren’t real, but I remember thinking/saying, “Any other time, those contractions would have meant that I was going into labor. Weird.”

I proceeded to say some version of those words for the next 3 weeks. Sometimes, I woke up all night long with intense, burning contractions, only to have them vanish the moment I put my feet on the ground in the morning. Sometimes, they showed up around 3 in the afternoon and lasted a good 6 hours. But they never decided to stick around and develop a strong, regular pattern.

At my 39 week appointment, my cervix was completely posterior (tilted toward my back), which meant that the contractions weren’t even doing a bit of good. I wasn’t dilated or effaced. No progress had been made. Huzzah for pointless pain!

As best I could, I ignored them, grateful that there was plenty to keep me busy (hello, Christmastime) and always slightly relieved after the fact when I got to tick one more fun thing off my “might-get-to-it-before-the-baby-comes” list (my baby shower, a Mama’s-day-out of childcare at my gym, Christmas day, etc.). My “due date” (the 20th) came and went, and I wasn’t too surprised.

But once all that was done, it started feeling a bit silly to still be contracting all the time…to still be pregnant.

If you’ve read the twins’ birth story, then you know that I had a somewhat similar experience that lasted a mere 4 days (but included multiple bouts of uncontrollable shakes and feeling crummy to make it extra-special).

And I must admit to feelings of déjà vu after I had Shaun take the kids to my mom’s on Saturday, December 27th, somewhat convinced that “this really is it,” only to have to shake my head and shrug when he got back an hour later because–yet again–”they just stopped.”

When nothing much changed on Sunday morning, we decided to pretend like I wasn’t pregnant, and even if I were, he wasn’t coming out ever anytime soon…which translated into finally finishing up Della’s big-girl room (just so we could rip it apart again a day later…more on that very, very soon) and a trip to “town” for a date day of errands (he ended running the errands while I got a pedicure with a friend; I wouldn’t complain if this became a habit) and Asian food (because, when you’re ticking foot massage and all other potential labor starters off the list, spicy Kung Pao Chicken sounds like a good idea). We even stopped by some friends’ house on the way home and spent the evening chatting, while I tried not to grimace too hard when a particularly nasty contraction hit.


{Dressed in comfy layers, happy to have Della’s room finished, but wishing I were in serious pain}

The kids were still at my mom’s on Monday morning when…nothing was happening. I had a midwife appointment that afternoon, but I didn’t really expect good news.

Imagine my pleasant surprise when my midwife told me I was dilated to almost a 4 and 50% effaced. Progress! I’d forgotten what that beautiful word meant. My birth assistant was there for that appointment as well, and she gave me a list of exercises to do whenever I had a contraction to hopefully speed the process along and loosen up my stubbornly tight ligaments.

I was still having occasional contractions, so I headed to the mall (since it was cold and wet outside), stuffed some ear-buds in, and proceeded to march around the perimeter of the stores, listening to a book on Audible and ignoring the squeeeeeeeeze in my belly, even when it was hard to walk through it. I’m sure I looked ridiculous–a mountainously pregnant lady stomping around and around the mall with an expression of extreme focus on her face.

I stopped into a few stores here and there, but mostly, I marched. For two hours. And then I went to World Market. Because that totally makes sense when you’re trying to go into labor.

When I finally made it home, Shaun raised an eyebrow at me, and I just shrugged. The contractions were still coming, and they felt a bit stronger…maybe. But I knew they weren’t anywhere close to producing a baby. So, we watched an episode of Downton Abbey while folding three loads of laundry. And all the while, I guzzled Red Raspberry Leaf tea and faithfully performed my “labor exercises” every time a contraction hit.

After several hours of this, apparently I screwed up my face enough that Shaun got his phone out and started timing the contractions. 45 seconds long. T-W-E-L-V-E minutes apart. (After 3 weeks of this nonsense, people; if you didn’t believe that my body is stubborn before, I hope you do now).

Around 11:30, the contractions were more like 9 minutes apart and considerably stronger. But I still wasn’t too hopeful. I was pretty sure I couldn’t sleep through them, though, so we decided to stay up, Shaun fiddling on his phone in between timing them and me straddling an ottoman beside the bed while I alternated between burying my head in the mattress and breathing through a contraction and editing pictures of Della’s room. Within an hour and 1/2, the contractions were down to 5-6 minutes apart and more like a minute long.


{Editing pictures while contracting;  hence, the intense expression}

By 1 AM, I was finally convinced that I might possibly, actually, maybe, sort of be in labor.

Still, it was strange because, although the contractions were pretty intense, they were still 5 minutes apart. I literally had time to edit pictures and carry on a conversation between each one. Considering that the pattern was tending toward longer, stronger, and (a little) closer together, though, I decided to call my midwife–she lives an hour away–and at least get her headed in the right direction.

By the time she showed up at 3 AM, my muscles were starting to shake (thank you, lack of sleep + adrenaline). BUT! I was dilated to almost an 8! It couldn’t be too much longer now.

The thing is, despite the shaking and the contractions, I felt too normal to be that close to the end. I’ve heard-tell of such magical occurrences as virtually painless labor, but the magic has yet to visit me. In my experience, unless I feel like I’m going to die, my baby’s staying put.

Sure the contractions hurt. A lot. But they weren’t unbearable. Especially after I got in our tub. I looked up at my midwife and said, “What? Are these the same contractions?? They’re like a third of the pain!”

She just smiled and said, “They’re the same.” (Big thumbs up to water-labor!)

Sadly, I only got to enjoy that little miracle for about an hour. My contractions just weren’t progressing. So, sometime around 4:30 in the morning, I climbed out, dried off, and proceeded to spend the next 2 1/2 hours doing everything from lunging the stairs two at a time over and over to lying flat on the bed, falling asleep from sheer exhaustion between contractions to–well–everything in between. Anything to get the contractions revved up enough get this little boy out.

Finally, my midwife checked me again, and I was pretty well fully dilated.

So, I texted my prayer girls–who had been riding the weeks-long roller-coaster of “maybe tonight” with me–and said, “I’m dilated to a 9. I just need the urge to push!”

That was somewhere around 7 AM, a good 13 hours after I experienced the first contraction that I’d dared to let myself think might possibly by the start of something real.

Of course, I definitely didn’t expect what came next…

But you’ll have to wait for Part 2 to hear about that. :)

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And the winner is…

Seeing as how Theo is already a week old (WHAT???!), I suppose I should announce the winner of our #babynumber6 guessing game.


(P.S. I’ll be back to posting regularly soon, but, in the meantime, if you want to see more “behind-the-scenes” footage from everyday life, not to mention lots more adorable pics of Monsieur Theodore, feel free to follow along on Instagram. I’m @misformama).

The thing is, out of the 240ish votes, 4 of them were so close that I really couldn’t decide which was the winner (everyone was off by a little bit on one of the factors other than the correct date). So, rather than attempt some sort of mathematically accurate weighting system that would surely cause my sleep-deprived brain to explode, I threw all four names in a hat and had my 7-year-old draw one.

And the winner is…abby ochs

{I promise no favoritism took place as a result of her extra-awesome name :) }

Abby predicted that Theo would come on December 30th @ 5:42 PM and would measure 8 lbs. 7 oz and 21″.

Which is pretty impressive since his actual stats were: December 30th, 10:33 AM, 8 lbs. 6 oz., and 21″.

Abby, you won this little prize package:


…which includes:

  • A polka dot pouch
  • A pack of floral pencils
  • A set of striped clothespins
  • A camera necklace (oh snap! sorry…I had to)
  • A teal ombre scarf

Shoot me a message with your address at blogabbie{at}gmail{dot}com, and I’ll get your goodies in the mail!

Thanks to everybody who played along and for all of your sweet well-wishes since Theo arrived.

I’m in the process of writing up his birth story, but as we all know by now, I am a woman of many words and–especially right now–little time. I’ll do my best to have something later on this week.

Until then, please know that I appreciate y’all so much. You are the sweetest reader-friends a girl could hope for!

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Welcome to the world, Theo!

Blog friends…

Meet Theo (or Theodore Sebastian, if we’re getting all formal).

meet theo

Theo finally decided to enter the world at 10:33 AM on Tuesday, December 30th, after 16ish hours of labor (more on that someday soon). He is 8 lb. 6 oz. and 21 inches of pure baby perfection (did anybody nail the stats?), and we are completely smitten.

And tired. (That might have something to do with the 1 hour of sleep I’ve had in the last 43. Oh yeah. And the labor/delivery thing).

But mostly grateful to God for graciously giving us another healthy little bundle to love.

Peace out, my friends! I’ve got some sleep to catch up on.

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Wanna play a guessing game?

Hi there, y’all!


merry christmas

(Yes, a day late)

I’m guessing that a fair number of you have been assuming that I’m home with a new baby since there hasn’t been any posting going on this week.

I wish.

Alas. This little fella is still warm and snuggly IN his mama’s tummy (stinker).

I had plans of posting Christmas pics of our house and various other things for the first couple of days this week, but I’m honestly glad I didn’t.

For the first time in, well, maybe since we’ve had kids, I really feel like we celebrated the season without screeching right up to the last minute with gift buying and other such nonsense. Too often, the day after Christmas, I feel a little bit unfulfilled. Not because I truly believe that all of the fluff surrounding Christmas is what makes it important or worth celebrating. No, it’s more like I place unrealistic expectations on what we “should” be accomplishing. And when we don’t reach them, I’m disappointed. (Silly? Yup).

This year, my expectations were pretty low. We started early with the Christmas music, made cookies on a whim, decorated what/when we could and didn’t worry about it when we couldn’t, meandered through a neighborhood in our van one night trying to find the “good lights”–hot chocolate in hand–and watched several “classic” (and not-so-classic–I suppose “While You Were Sleeping” isn’t strictly a Christmas movie) movies.

We talked about why Jesus is the reason for the season and kept the radio tuned to our local Christian station that only plays Christmas music starting December 1st.

And through it all, we kept expecting to have all of the festivities interrupted by the best and most authentically Christmas of gifts–a new little baby.

Obviously, that didn’t happen, but I’m pretty okay with that, given the busyness and bustle surrounding this season. I’m grateful that my older kids got to participate in all of the festivities with their Mama waddling along beside instead of needing to run off and nurse every couple of hours.

But now?

Now, there’s not much that feels like it needs to be “checked off” before he comes, so now is when the true “hurry up and wait” thing starts to go down.


To distract me from that, I decided to play a little game on FB and Instagram and thought those of you who aren’t on social media would like to play along too.

All you have to do is leave a comment with your best guess for:

1) Day and time of birth


2) Weight and length of Baby #6

…and, once he’s born, I’ll go through and find the closest guess, and that person will win a fun little prize. Sound good?

Okay. Ready, set, go!

P.S. Don’t forget to leave me some way of contacting you so I can let you know if you win!


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38 Week Pregnancy Check-in {Baby #6}

So, I didn’t exactly intend to leave you hanging without a preggo update for the last 7 weeks (because I’m so sure that you’ve been dying to know exactly how many hormonal breakdowns I’ve had in the last two months), but since my last check-in was at 31 weeks, I guess that’s exactly what I’ve done.

So sorry. I will do my best to include as much minutiae as possible to make up for it, k? (Yippee).


Welp. I must say that I’m not the least bit surprised to be giving you a 38-week-update because–as I’ve mentioned before–my babies tend to stay verrrry comfy in this belly o’ mine. (I just keep telling myself, “4 more weeks,” just in case, but I don’t honestly think we’ll make it that far…famous last words). Weirdly enough, after feeling ready-to-the-max about 6 weeks ago, I’m experiencing a level of chill I probably never have before at this late in the game. Part of that is because life is just so stinkin’ full, and it kind of feels like, “As much as I’d like to meet you right this very second, buddy–not to mention give my aching lower back a break–I’m kind of too busy to have a baby right now.”

NESTING: In keeping with what I just mentioned, I’ve been trying to get as much done as possible before he comes when I feel that frenzy of MUST-CLEAN-ALL-THE-THINGS coming on. Which…usually manifests itself in a 4-hour-long flurry of dragging things out to wash them or dust them or sort them or bag them. Oh, and lots of cooking. I’ve made double-batches of various staples for the last several weeks and have built up a respectable back-log of freezer meals for when he comes. In fact,  I’ve just about gotten everything to the point that I feel like, if he came tonight, I wouldn’t feel crazy. BUT, I know that it won’t stay all nice and tidy for long, so I’m trying not to worry about it too much.

ATTITUDE: A friend of three who isn’t having any more asked me the other day if I felt like my attitude towards this baby is different than my first–citing her own more relaxed standards by Baby #3 (and expressing a tinge of worry at what Baby # 4′s fate would have been had they had one)–and I just started laughing.

With Ezra, my first, everything was done. I mean, people throw you multiple showers. You’ve got baby gear threatening to swallow your house whole (please tell me I’m not the only one who has tripped over the bassinet, only to fall into the giant stroller box, on my way to the bathroom at 3 in the morning). The car seat and the crib and the rocker and the changing table and the diapers and the diaper Genie and the bottles, the bibs, the blankets…you get the idea.

But by the time Baby # _____ (I’m sure the number is different for everyone) rolls around, not only do you already have a pretty good stash of (spit-up and poop stained) everything, you also have a much better idea of what you actually need. So, basically, my response to my friend’s question was: “Welp. We have no small diapers, but that should be fixed by Saturday (some sweet friends are throwing me a diaper shower), and even if he comes before then, we can probably get some by the time I have him with how slow my labors are. I just washed a bunch of clothes and his bassinet cover, so he won’t have to be naked or bedless. And I’m pretty sure we’ve got a warm hat and a blanket somewhere around here (although they’re probably pink). Oh, and I have boobs. So, I think we’re good.”

Poor kid. Hope he’s not expecting too much. (Although, really, what newborn expects more than warmth, snuggles, clean pants, and food?).

EXERCISE: I’m still truckin’. In fact, last week, when everyone was out for Thanksgiving, I subbed 5 classes on top of my usual 3. Another instructor quipped, “That’ll teach ya not to go out of town for the holidays!” But, honestly, I had a lot of fun and felt great pretty much every time I taught. This week has been a slightly different story. This little guy’s head is definitely lower, and doing a roundhouse kick with that kind of pressure on your pelvis is…interesting. I plan on teaching ’til the bitter end, though, so I’m just grateful that everything’s still functioning on some level or another.

PREGNANCY SIDE EFFECTS: Don’t hate me for saying this, but I feel pretty awesome for being this pregnant. I mean, yes, my back and hips hurt constantly, and I could take a nap standing up pretty much always, but I’m not miserable. My varicose vein-y leg flairs up every now and then (wow, I feel 90 when I type that), but overall, I’m doing about as well as could be hoped for at the about-to-pop stage.

I attribute a lot of that to the whole exercising-til-the-bitter-end thing. As I was walking along with all five kids about to leave the gym one night, Nola dropped her blankie, and one of class participants marveled to her husband: “Did you just see that? This woman is 36-weeks-pregnant with her 6th child, and she just leaned down and swooped something up off the floor totally flat-footed. That’s just wrong.”

And I just laughed because I had no idea where she had been going with that and totally wasn’t expecting her to say that (and totally hadn’t even realized what I’d done). But the truth is that, because I bend and move so much when I exercise, my range of motion probably is better than could usually be expected with such a big belly.

I try to remind myself of little blessings like that when the twins spill milk all over the floor…again. At least I can still get down there to clean it up. The key word being try. Sometimes, it sounds a lot more like Yosemite Sam after Bugs Bunny tricks him into stepping off a cliff…again. Frickasammin’ is a fun word.

WEIGHT GAIN: I still haven’t stepped on a scale since 20 weeks, and I don’t plan to. I don’t think. I’m kind of curious but mostly blissful in my ignorance. But he’s definitely growing. At 33 weeks, I was only measuring 25 cm, and the baby was breach. But somewhere between that midwife appointment and the next (I’m pretty sure it was in the middle of a jump kick in BODYCOMBAT), he flipped (Praise Jesus!), and I had–ahem–jumped to 30 cm by my 35 week appointment. And then this past week, I had another big bump up to 34 cm. (If you’re not familiar with what these measurements mean, they represent the size of your uterus and usually correspond roughly 1 cm to 1 gestational week; I always measure a little behind, though).

CRAVINGS: None to speak of unless it’s just the random craving for carbonation or chocolate, but I have pretty much reached that point where it’s like, “I probably shouldn’t eat that, but I might anyway because I’ve only got a few weeks left, and it sounds good.” Which means that this little guy needs to get out before I gain 10 pounds in the last two weeks of my pregnancy.

Aaaaaaand there you have it. More maternal minutiae that you could possibly have ever wanted to read.

I know a few of you are due around the same time as I am. How are y’all doing? No, really. I want to know. Because pretty much every last person that has been pregnant in real life with me has had her baby already, and it’s starting to feel a bit insulting to still be pregnant.

Do you feel like your “standards” have dropped with each baby? At this point, if we have any more, he’s probably going to be wearing one of his older brother’s diapers and whatever mildly babyish thing we can find to shove him in.


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