Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Fun

We've been having such a grand Christmas break!  I don't ever want to start back to homeschooling, LOL.
Saturday and Sunday we made and decorated cut-out cookies.  Both days we did this while Micah was napping because, you know, I'm not completely crazy.  What a mess!  But it's fun.  Like I told the kids--just another thing they can think back on when they are old, to know that I loved them!  Otherwise, there is no way I would bother with it!

Sunday and Monday we did all our wrapping.  Monday it actually snowed big wet, sloppy flakes--the kind that don't stick around--but it looked festive, and at elast the trees out the window were white!We also ate a delicious turkey dinner with all the trimmings on Christmas Eve, before we went to the candlelight service at church!  Our good friend Ed smoked a turkey for us as a gift, and we certainly enjoyed it!
On Christmas we got up and the kids opened their stockings first.  Then we ate a yummy breakfast--a crockpot hashbrown/egg/sausage casserole that I started the night before, as well as cinnamon rolls that I made Christmas Eve as well so I just had to bake and frost them.  I was glad I wasn't checking my blood sugar numbers, LOL!

Then we spent the rest of the morning opening Christmas presents.  We don't get the kids many things, but still--with 13 of us here, including my parents, we had a lot of presents to get through!  We have all been enjoying greatly all the gifts we received.  I love how occupied the kids have been--playing Settlers of Catan witht he new expansion pack Nathan bought as a gift for everyone, doing a murder mystery jigsaw puzzle on the schoolroom table, playing with paper dolls and activity books, reading new books, etc.  So wonderful! 

Then everyone ate leftovers from our turkey dinner for lunch, and Micah took his regular nap.  We ate our big meal at our regular dinner time, which was nice because it gave my mom and me a chance to rest in the afternoon for a little while before we had to start preparing food.  We had a glazed ham, sweet potato casserole, and sweet potato biscuits, as well as some other sides.  Yum!  Then after we cleaned all that up, we had our birthday party for Jesus, with cake and ice cream.

Micah is at such a cute age for Christmas.  He was so excited by the day--candy in the stocking!  New toys!  Delicious food and plenty of it!  Birthday cake and ice cream!  What's not to love?!

I have to say that Drew gave me my favorite gift--he's started going longer periods at night!  I'll feed him around 10:00 or so, and then he'll go until 5:00 some nights, and then up again after 8:00!  Yay, Drew!  It's so nice to have a little bit more sleep.  It makes me think that maybe, possibly, I'll be able to start school up again in a little over a week, LOL.
Yesterday Bob stayed home, and it even snowed a little bit!  There only being a little bit of snow did not deter anyone from going out, however.  Now I am happy to say that everyone has found the appropriately-sized snowsuit, boots, gloves, and so on, so we are ready for a BIG snowstorm . . . please?!?  We never got any real snow last year, and the kids were so disappointed, as was I, I must admit!

I hope all of you are having lovely, relaxing Christmas breaks as well, and most importantly, remembering Jesus, the real reason for this special season!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

"But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons." Galatians 4:4

Merry Christmas!!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

3 Weeks

Drew was 3 weeks old on Friday, and he's definitely fitting in around here now! Here is a picture of him with his big sister Grace. Grace was so funny when we first brought Drew home from the hospital. My mom was holding him, and Grace plopped down on the couch next to them. "So . . . what's this guy's name again?" Now she definitely knows his name!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

How to Shut Down a Conversation . . .

Scene:  On the elevator up to the 6th floor of the parking garage at the hospital on Monday after Drew's well-baby appointment.

Older middle-aged lady who prattled on and on:  "Oh, what a beautiful baby . . . I think he needs a hat . . . (blah, blah, blah) . . . seeing babies makes me miss the baby stage--except I really don't, you know . . . (blah, blah) . . ."

Me (brightly):  "This is my 9th baby!"

Lady:  " . . . (stunned silence) . . . What?!  9?! . . . Wow . . . Uh . . . Well, good luck . . . (lapse back into stunned silence) . . .  "

Monday, December 17, 2012

2 Week Drew Update

Today Drew and I trekked back to Bethesda, our second home, for his slightly late 2 week well-baby check.  I am pleased to report that he is 9.8 pounds now, so back above his birth weight.  Yay!  Everything else also looks perfectly fine.  I did ask about the hemangioma on his right tushie, and the doctor said I can expect it to get bigger and possibly even 3-D, but she didn't think it would get too big, and it should stop growing and possibly even disappear by the age of 2.  So we'll see what happens, but it sounds a lot different than one on the face. 

Drew is definitely staying awake alot more after feedings, to the delight of his admiring public.  I was holding him in the kitchen this afternoon, and little people kept running back and forth through the kitchen.  He was just tracking them with his eyes, back and forth!  So much to see around here, LOL! 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Home Again . . . Again

We got to the hospital after dinner Wednesday, and we got back home right before dinner on Saturday.  I am so glad to be home!  I was beginning to think we were never going to actually be able to leave!

I was started on 2 different strong antibiotics--clendamycin and gentamycin.  By the time I woke up Thursday, I was already feeling better, and by the end of Thursday, the nasty discharge was gone, as was the headache and general achiness I had been feeling for so long.  Of course, feeling better made it really tortuous to have to stay 2 more days in the hospital!

Bob stayed at night with me, but during the day he went in to work, taking the metro from Bethesda.  So then it was just Drew and me.  The time was definitely a "forced vacation", but I can't think of anywhere else where I would have had so few responsibilities and been needed by so few people.  I read some books and magazines, did some crossword puzzles, and watched some useless TV.  I was staying in a postpartum room, and that floor gets the weirdest selection of TV channels--no sports ones at all (I conjectured that was so laboring wives didn't complain that their husbands were totally distracted by games . . .), and no HGTV, which is pretty much the only channel I ever watch.  Instead, there were a ton of channels with trashy dark cop-type shows, a game-show channel, 2 food channels, the military channel, and a few other random channels that were not that interesting to me.  Bob and I watched a few movies in the evenings--"You've Got Mail", "Where the Heart is", "Knocked Up", and some Will Ferrell/Mark Wahlberg cop one.  Hard to believe we've lived the past many years of our lives missing out on these gems!  By Saturday I had finished my books and crosswords, so TV was the only option--it was then that I really thought I was going stir-crazy!  You can only watch so many episodes of "Say Yes to the Dress" without going nuts, LOL.

Another thing that was making me slowly crazy was the food situation.  At Bethesda, they have a fixed menu for all the meals posted in each room, and you call 45 minutes before you want a meal and order what you want off the menu.  Except that you actually receive whatever they want you to receive, or they have extra of, or whatever!  So I would order a garden side salad with balsamic vinegrette, and I would receive a caesar side salad with raspberry vinegrette.  Twice I asked for Sunchips with my lunch and got no chips whatsoever.  The last day when ordering lunch, I just asked for "chips".  The lady asked what kind of chips I wanted.  I told her I really wanted Sunchips, but I had asked for them the past 2 days and gotten nothing, so I figured they were out or something.  I actually got the Sunchips on Saturday, LOL.  Two times my order got lost somewhere, so after waiting an hour and a half, I had to call and reorder.  Now of course none of these things are huge issues in and of themselves.  But when you feel like you are stuck in your room, bored crazy, these little things are just the straw to break the camel's back!

The reason it took so long for us to go home on Saturday is because something was growing in the blood culture they started on Wednesday night.  The lab thought it was probably just a skin contaminant, but they and the doctors wanted to make sure--although, as the doctor said, if I had a systemic blood infection, then you would think I would have been sicker than I was, especially by Saturday!  But the lab said they would know by 3:00 Saturday--except even then, they never answered the doctor's call.  Eventually she said we could go home, and she would call us if it turned out to be anything.  (This was probably when she realized we were getting ready to break out of there, as we quickly lost all remaining patience, LOL.)  

So we are happily back home, sleeping in our own bed, with no one bothering us at odd hours throughout the day and night!  I have a ton of bruises all over both arms from different IV ports and blood draws.  It is so good to be home!! 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Another New Experience

I thought that I was overdoing it this past weekend.  After feeling good the first part of the week, by Friday I had started taking 800 mg motin pretty much around the clock.  If I didn't, then I felt like I was running a fever--I had a headache, chills, was achy, my eyes hurt, etc.  But if I kept on top of the motrin, then I felt fine.  About an hour after taking a pill, I would feel like a big fever was breaking.  My headache would be gone, I would break out in a big sweat, everything seemed all clear, not foggy.  I felt fine!  So I went on with life, like church, a neighborhood Christmas party, Christmas baking, Rivendell on Monday, a Christmas musical performance for the elementary co-op on Tuesday. 

My temperature was never more than about 99.1 on my thermometer, though, so I didn't think too much of it.  But I did start having what can only be called a "foul-smelling discharge", which is a phrase straight from the paperwork they sent me home from the hospital with!  So that was an odd thing.  I kept expecting that to lessen, but instead it just stayed the same.  My bleeding had stopped, but now I had this nasty stuff instead, which made me think "uterine infection", probably due to all those manual extractions after Drew's birth.

I made an "acute OB appointment" for this afternoon at Bethesda.  The doctors agreed that it was a uterine infection, so right now I am home gathering stuff together, as well as getting the baby, and then we will go back to Bethesda to be admitted for 2 days of IV antibiotics.  At least Drew can stay with me, although I am sure this is going to be many steps back for his schedule!  He has been doing pretty well with getting himself off to sleep on his own, but I won't really be letting him do much crying there on the ward!  And he won't be able to sleep on his tummy, so he'll not sleep as well either.  Oh well.  Hopefully the infection will respond quickly to the antibiotics and not require anything else, like a d&c.  At least we're on Christmas break right now, and my parents are here to help!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Over a Week Old Already!

 It's hard to believe that Drew was a week old on Friday!  As you can see, he looks like our other babies.  He's a sweetie, and I am still having to set the timer sometimes so that everyone gets their fair turn holding him.  He's definitely not lacking for love and attention!  He's going a bit longer at night, which is nice, and everyone is thrilled that he is keeping his eyes open longer.  He is taking better naps during the day as well, and he's doing much better at getting himself off to sleep.  That is due to him sleeping on his tummy--I think this is the earliest I have ever switched anyone to their tummy, but he has a strong neck, and he is just so much happier on his tummy.  When we brought him in last Monday for his weight check, the doctor actually commented on his strong neck, asking if I had been giving him "tummy time" yet!  I hadn't put him on his tummy at all at that point, except when he was up against my chest.  I don't think anyone gives their 3 day old tummy time, LOL. 
 Drew has the longest, skinniest feet and toes of any of our kids!  They definitely come from my Grandpa's side of the family! 
Drew also must be part elf, because he has this pointy "elf ear" on his right ear (you can kind of see what I'm talking about in that top picture too--it's pointy!).  The left ear doesn't have anything special.  The funny thing is that one of Faith's ears looks like a mouse nibbled away a tiny bit at the top--so Drew must have gotten that extra bit, LOL. 

Drew also has a little red birthmark on his bum, which the doctors called a hemangioma--a type of vascular tumor.  This was a little alarming, since the only other person I have known with a hemangioma was my friend Carri's daughter Mercy, who is about Anna's age.  She had a severe hemangioma on the side of her head, and we prayed for many years for her and her doctors, as they figured out the best course to treat it.  She is looking so beautiful now, though--truly amazing!  Anyhow, I guess we'll see how Drew's develops.  Right now it just looks like skin that is darker red--it's not raised or anything, and it's not very big, maybe the size of a nickel.

Random Post-Pregnancy Thoughts

I had a couple random thoughts I wanted to mention before this latest birth becomes a blur.  Here they are, in no particular order.

1.  I forgot to mention in my birth story post some of the other oddities about this labor.  One was that the doctor made me wear those ted hose that prevent blood clots while I was laboring.  That is the first time anyone has ever even suggested them before!  Back at one of my first OB appointments, the nurse-practitioner I saw made a big deal about the blood clot I had in my arm back in 1993.  How weird that in this pregnancy, people have focused on the blood clot from almost 20 years ago, when I haven't had any clotting problems whatsoever during the first 8 pregnancies!  Anyhow, the hose were annoying but not too bad.  When I was in bed, however, I had to have them hooked up to this pump thing that inflated them every so many seconds!  Now THAT was annoying, especially during those really bad double-peaked contractions, where I was really trying hard to concentrate and relax.

2.  I have used calcium pills before in other labors, but I have never tried liquid calcium, which is what Kim, a mother of 11 recommends.  This time I found a bottle at Walmart.  I drank some maybe at 3:00 AM or so.  I waited because Kim says wait until a good labor pattern is established, and the contractions just weren't that painful for most of the labor--I could hardly feel them.  So I waited.  I don't think the calcium really did anything to mitigate the pain of the really hard pit-induced contractions, but really, how could it compete, LOL?  Where I noticed a HUGE difference was in afterpains.  I have had very intense afterpains the past several births--these tend to get more and more intense the more births you had.  Well, I was expecting earth-shattering ones this time, but I hardly felt any.  Any at all!  It was amazing!  So if there is a next time for me, I definitely plan on taking the liquid calcium again.  It is worth it, even if all it does is help with the afterpains!

3.  I have never worked harder during a labor, trying many different positions, making sure to change positions every half hour or so, trying many asymmetrical positions, and so on.  I don't know what you should do when there's so much fluid that the baby just doesn't move down though.  Maybe I'll email the spinningbabies lady and ask her what she would recommend.  I do think everything helped though--once Drew did decide to move down, he was obviously in a good position.  I didn't stall during transition, like I did with Grace, and Drew didn't get stuck, like Grace did, even though he was bigger than she was.  I really felt like I learned so much during this labor.  Has any doula ever had so much chance to practice stuff on herself, LOL?!

4. Another thing that was different was that after I delivered Drew, while they were worrying about getting all the clots out of my uterus, they inserted a Foley catheter, because, as they said, a full bladder can prevent the uterus from clamping down as well. Okay. I've never had one of those either! I didn't like it, and I had to have it in for 12 hours after delivery. I was literally counting down the hours, and I frequently reminded the corpsman, when he came in to check on me, how much time was left, LOL. I still felt like I needed to pee, the tube got caught on stuff, and blood dripped down the tube whenever I stood up. Blech.

5.  Speaking of corpsmen, I had 2 take care of me, one on Friday, and one on Saturday.  They both were 19 or 20, but really nice and competant.  I have always liked the people I've had take care of me at Bethesda, even if I thought they were making weird decisions (ted hose *cough*), LOL.  Anyhow, it was weird to think that these guys were only a few years older than Nathan!  It's hard to imagine Nathan working a post-partum ward in 4 years, taking out Foley catheters, giving moms fundal massages, etc!  They also took vitals on the babies, and I am sure Nathan has had more newborn baby experience than either of them had before they did their training and started working up there on the ward!

6.  I always try to bring a good book to read during my hospital stay, and this time I was really looking forward to my book, especially since I have basically had no time for any leisure reading since the end of July.  I read The Midwife, by Jennifer Worth.  It's the book that the PBS show "Call the Midwife" is based on, and in fact, when I looked up the book on Amazon, I found that it was republished in August under the new title of Call the Midwife.   It was an excellent book--very well-written and gripping.  I could hardly put it down!  Her description of a breech delivery was riveting and enlightening!  She also wrote a lot about stuff other than pure midwifery--the culture of the poor Docklands area, along with a lot of the problems that the people dealt with, like abuse, prostitution, the workhouse (that was quite a draining story).  Definitely a book that left me with a lot to think about.  I highly recommend it!  She wrote 2 other books, but they were not so directly about her midwife experience.  The second one is called In the Shadows of the Workhouse, and I just don't know that I can read that one.  The institution of the workhouse in England seems like such an incredibly horrible and cruel "solution" to poverty, and I just don't know that I can read any more stories about it! 

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Settling In

We've been home for about 4 days now.  My millk is completely in, I'm feeling much better, and the bruises on my arm from my IV port are starting to fade, LOL.  Bob went back to work today, and things are getting back to normal, although we're still not doing too much school, other than Nathan and Luke's Rivendell assignments.  I'm so thankful for Rivendell, for keeping the boys on track when life gets in the way!

We had to make a few extra trips back to Bethesda this week because when we left on Saturday, Drew had lost more weight than they wanted to see.  So we trekked back up there on Sunday, where we discovered he was down to 8 pounds, 1 ounce--a loss of about 12% of his birthweight.  But my milk was in, he was nursing well, and he was peeing and pooping, so I wasn't worried.  Even his bili levels were just fine!  We had to come back again Monday, where he was up a whole ounce, to 8# 2 ounces.  The doctor we saw that day thought that was fine and going in the right direction, so now we don't have to come back until Dec. 17 for his regular 2 week check.  Whew!  I was getting tired of all these trips around the Beltway! 

I think that sometimes all this hyper concentration on newborn weight is not too productive, especially if everything else looks fine. As my sister-in-law Melinda (a labor and delivery nurse herself!) pointed out on Facebook, I had gotten a ton of fluids during my long labor--likely Drew got some of those too and was just losing the extra fluid weight.  I think that sounds right.  I know I was so very puffy and fluid-filled afterward--so much so that I scared Micah!  Drew is nursing like a trooper now, and he's doing a little better with sleeping in the pack-n-play for naps.  He still prefers to be held, if you can imagine--and believe me, there are always plenty of eager volunteers around to do so!  I have had to set the timer a few times to make sure everyone gets their fair turn, LOL.  Everyone is always so excited when Drew's eyes are open!  I wonder what he thinks as, whenever he peeps open his eyes, there is a sea of faces surrounding him, peering eagerly down at him.

Micah is not in the least bit jealous, and he's actually been quite gentle with Drew.  He gives him sweet little kisses on the top of his head and says, "Hi Drew!!" whenever he sees him.  So cute!  But clearly Micah sees himself as one of the "big kids" and doesn't feel threatened.  Plus, as I said before, there are plenty of people around to hold Drew besides me, so he can still snuggle with me when needed!

So we're doing just fine, and adjusting to being a family of 11! 

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Finally Here!

 At long last, Andrew James was born at 4:47 AM Friday, Nov. 30.  He was 9 pounds, 2 ounces, and 22 1/2 inches long.  Observant folk may point out that we already have an "A" name, which violates our naming rules.  Not to worry!  We're calling him Drew!  Bob has been reading God's Smuggler, the biography of Brother Andrew, who has been instrumental in smuggling in so many Bibles to restricted areas of the world for so many years, and he was inspired by the man. 
 Now, for the rest of the birth story . . . I spent forever on hold Thursday afternoon with L&D, but eventually someone told me to come in at 5:30.  Bob and I left at 4:30, and we stopped by the Bethesda McDonalds where I ate a double hamburger plus some fries before we actually went into the hospital.  Of course, not long after I was admitted, they decided to do a blood sugar stick on me . . . whoops!  My numbers were 160, LOL.  Fortunately I confessed up to what I had eaten right before going upstairs, and they decided to wait a little bit and test again.  My numbers were fine then.

They finally actually got the pitocin started around 8:00, so I knew it was going to be a long night.  When the doctor examined me, before they started the pit, I was 4 cm dilated, but still just 50% effaced.  The baby was still moving around a ton, so clearly he wasn't engaged.  The doctor said she wouldn't break my water until he was further down, since she didn't want to risk cord prolapse.  Because the baby was so active, it was hard to keep him on the monitor, but they insisted he be on it, since I was having pit.  So I spent my time trying all these different things and various positions, but I was limited by having to chase the baby around with the monitor thing on my tummy. 

They started the pit at 2 and kept upping it, but I was hardly even feeling the contractions, so I knew they weren't doing a darn thing.  And sure enough, at 10:00 when the doctor checked me, I was still at 4 cm, 50% effaced.  Bob took a nap, and I finished reading a murder mystery, plus a Reader's Digest while changing positions regularly, rocking on the birthing ball, etc.  But the contractions continued to not be painful at all, the baby continued to not move down, and I just got tired!

Eventually they upped the pitocin all the way to 18, where they felt like I was in a good, albeit non-painful, labor pattern.  Eventually the baby moved down enough where the doctor felt he was "well-applied" to my cervix, so she broke my water around 2:00 AM.  I am sure if she had broken my water earlier, things would have happened more quickly.  That is what I remember about Jonathan's labor--he was also high, but the doctor broke my water after just a few hours, so the total labor was not too long.  Anyhow, things became a little more painful after that, but really the contractions weren't too bad until 4:00 or so.  But although the contractions hurt, and I was having these double-peaking contractions that just never seemed to end, I still wasn't feeling much pressure or anything, so I was worried that I still had a long ways to go.  I started thinking that maybe I would get an epidural this time--I was so tired, these contractions were so intense, and I felt like I still had a long ways to go.  I was feeling like I was heading into transition because I was feeling shaky and hot, then cold, but when the doctor examined me at about 4:15, I was only 6 cm dilated . . . and still just 50% effaced.  So then I really started thinking seriously about the epidural.  I've never had one, and I was quite curious as to whether it would really ease these intense, double-peaked contractions.  The only way I was getting through them was intense concentration and relaxation on my part, and intense counter-pressure in the small of my back and against my top hip by Bob (I was on my right side at that point).  I didn't know how much longer Bob would be able to keep up the pressure either!  But then the baby's heartrate started decelerating.  They decided it was because of the massive dose of pit I was getting, which was making my contractions so strong, so they cut the pit off and gave me an oxygen mask.  They also said an epidural would be good for me, so they called the anesthesiologist, but before he got there, they put a fetal heart monitor on the baby's head, so they could better track his heartrate.  So I had several very uncomfortable contractions on my back while they got all that hooked up, and then the wire didn't work, so they had to replace it.  It was a little after 4:30, and the doctor confirmed that I was still just at 6 cm, 50% effaced.  Finally they finished up all the fetal monitor stuff, and I rolled onto my left side . . . where I promptly had another contraction and felt a strong urge to push.

"Ummm, I don't know why, but I'm pushing!!" I cried out, so the doctor rushed over to examine me again, and what do you know--I was complete!  I pushed for about 5 minutes, and Drew was born at 4:47!  I could tell he was big, as in over 9 pounds, but I could also tell he was nowhere as big as Micah, LOL.  I had to push about 15 minutes to get Micah out!  It is still not easy to push out a 9 pound baby though.  Hard work, even if not a long time of pushing 

So all of a sudden it was over, which was stunning to me.  I know people like my friend Christine dilate really quickly, but that has never been my experience in the slightest, and this labor was just so slow that I never in a million years expected such a speedy end!  I thought it would all drag on for hours more!  I was so relieved though.  I was really running out of energy, motivation, and everything. 

The bad thing was that the long labor, plus all the pitocin, combined to make my uterus not clamp up very effectively, which was something I worried about, since that had happened with Grace as well.  If you have had a baby, you probably know all about fundal massage, which is very uncomfortable.  Well, this time I had not one, not two, but 3 doctors reach their entires hands inside me and scoop out clots and junk from my uterus--an internal uterine sweep--and each of the 3 did it at least twice--all while pressing down on the fundus from the outside as well.  Let me tell you, THAT was so painful.  By the time the 2nd doctor had done it once, I actually had to have some fentanyl in my IV to take the edge off.  I don't know if it really helped though--just made me a bit woozy.  Oh my goodness, it was painful!  I also was the lucky recipient of cytotec rectal suppositories, plus a shot in the thigh of methergen, all to help my uterus clamp up better.  All that took until about 7:00, and it really wiped me out.  My uterus and pelvis are still sorer than usual from all the manipulation.  It was rough! 

Finally we were able to go to our room, and I was able to eat breakfast.  Then we dozed around all morning until my parents brought all the kids to visit at lunch.  They were all so excited to meet their new baby brother!  Micah was carried in by Luke, and as soon as he saw me, he burst into tears and clung to Luke!  LOL, my face was all puffy from all the IV stuff, plus I don't think he really expected to find me in this strange place, so he was quite suspicious of this imposter!  He eventually got over it and got on the bed to snuggle with me.  He was also very fascinated by this new baby!

Drew and I are both doing fine.  He's gotten the hang of nursing, and my milk is coming in.  We got to come home this afternoon, much to the delight of Drew's siblings, who all clamor to hold him at every opportunity.  I'm hoping Drew will cooperate and let me get a little bit of sleep tonight, but I am not holding my breath, LOL.  If there has been one thing true about Drew so far, it is that he has not been cooperative with my plans!  But I am still so tired.  Luke and Caleb were our only other night births.  It seems so much harder to recover from night births, after a full, busy day, than day births (esp. when you aren't in labor the night before).  Tomorrow Bob and I have to make the trek back to Bethesa to get Drew weighed, since he went home before 48 hours.  They would have let us come back Monday, but then traffic and parking are worse, so Sunday is actually a better day! 

I'm so thankful my parents are here to help with all the other kids and their running around.  Today they got Jonathan to basketball practice and Luke to a basketball scrimmage, and tomorrow they are taking all the kids to church, then getting Nathan to a scrimmage and Caleb to a practice!

So that's the story--different from all the others!  I'm off to nurse again, and then hopefully go to bed to get some rest!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

No Room at the Inn

I called L&D this morning at 7:30, and what do you know--they don't have any room for me.  Sigh.  Bethesda doesn't technically start inductions until 7:00 PM, but the doctor was hoping I could get in earlier since I don't need my cervix softened and all that stuff, just a bit of pit to get things going.  I'll call back around lunchtime, but the nurse this morning was not hopeful and encouraging, so it looks more likely that this baby will be born tomorrow, a day I totally wanted to avoid.  Although there is the very real chance that they won't have room for me tonight either, and then they'll just move the induction to some other day.  Whee!

I am trying to be encouraged by Day 29 of the Thirty-One Days of Praise book I pray through in the mornings.  "Thank you that I can give myself up to be led by you . . . that I can go forth praising and at rest, letting you manage me and my day . . . that I can joyfully depend on You throughout the day, expecting You to guide, to enlighten, to reprove, to teach, to use, and to do in me and with me what You desire . . . that I can count upon Your working in me and through me as a fact, totally apart from sight and feeling . . . that I can go forth praising and at rest, believing You and obeying You and ceasing from the burden of trying to manage myself without Your wisdom and power.  Thank you that I can throw the whole weight of my anxieties on You, for I am Your personal concern."

And now I must decide if I want to take yet another walk, or do my "Perfect Pregnancy Workout" DVD one more time.  Then school, a quick trip to Sam's for more soy milk . . . life goes on.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Big Day Tomorrow

I went on what is hopefully my last forced march around the neighborhood this pregnancy, and I ate my last (small) bowl of chocolate ice cream.  I'll call labor and delivery tomorrow around 7:30 to see when they want me to come in.  This will be my 3rd induction where I haven't been already 5 cm dilated.  I will definitely admit to being nervous.  The thing about having had a lot of babies is that, well, I pretty much know how this is going to feel!  The baby could be very uncooperative, as he has been so far, and refuse to move down, making this induction take a long time, and that is what I really dread.  That, and pushing.  I hate pushing!  And just the thought that he might be 10 pounds or more like Micah is certainly reason to dread the whole thing! 

I never really had any more measureable contractions last night or today, so I expect that I haven't progressed any more than the 2 cm I was yesterday.  I printed off a ton of stuff from the spinningbabies website so I have plenty of techniques to try once the pitocin starts that will hopefully help him move down and me progress.  I will let you know if anything actually works, LOL.  My hope is to eventually become a doula, after I'm done having kids an homeschooling no longer takes up so much of my time.  Reading so much about optimal fetal positioning this time around has really been incredibly worthwhile and educational--I really do think it will help me become a better doula.  Now let's see if I can doula myself into a good labor, LOL.

I definitely appreciate your prayers for a safe, smooth, uncomplicated labor and delivery!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

(Small) Progress

I had another OB appointment this afternoon.  It was supposed to be at 1:20, but a guy from the front desk called and left a message yesterday saying they had to cancel my appointment, and I needed to call back to reschedule.  So I called back, and the man said they had a 2:40 slot for this afternoon, so he was putting me in there.  Okay, fine, whatever . . . that worked better for Bob anyway, who was metro-ing over from the Pentagon to meet me there. 

So I showed up at 2:40 this afternoon, and the lady at the desk looked quizzically at me.  "What time did you say your appointment was?"  Hmmm . . . this is not my fault, LOL!  Long story short, the guy had not actually entered my name in the slot, although I overheard a different lady at the front desk telling someone she was there when he was talking with me, so he must have just messed up.  Well, I was assured that I would indeed be seen, since I was due, and that was all I cared about! 

I saw the same doctor I saw 2 appointments ago.  This time I am all of 2 cm dilated, although still just 50% effaced.  She said the baby was lower, although still not totally pressing against my cervix.  But my cervix was low enough that she could at least strip my membranes, so that was good.  I had felt that my pelvis was achier this morning, and last night I actually had a few Braxton-Hicks contractions.  I've had a few contractions tonight as well, although they still don't seem like they are really meaning business, and I certainly haven't had anything like bloody show or anything.

She scheduled me for an induction Thursday.  I will call at 7:30 AM to see what time they want me to come in.  I really am praying that I will make some more progress by then, although clearly this baby is not one to cooperate with my plans and wishes!  I really, really do not want another long, drawn out induction, like the one I had with Grace.  So in the meantime, I will continue with all the exercise, plus the spinning babies techniques.  I will be QUITE happy to be done with all that in just a few more days!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving Weekend

Well, we had a really nice Thanksgiving weekend.  The only thing lacking was a new baby.  We went over to the L's house for Thanksgiving dinner, along with a bunch of other people.  It was tons of fun, and the food was delicious!  Since it was a potluck, we only had to bring mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, cran-apple-pear sauce, and sweet chex mix.  And my mom and I had spent Tuesday doing the cooking, so all we had to do Thursday morning was heat the mashed potatoes (we used the Pioneer Woman's make-ahead mashed potato recipe--with 15 pounds of potatoes, LOL), and put the sweet potato casserole together and heat it up.  Easy!

Thanksgiving Day had absolutely beautiful weather, so as soon as we were finished eating, Bob and I went on a long walk with Zachary L. and his new wife Karynn (we went to their wedding in St. Louis in August--where Micah did his famous microwave trick).  It was nice to walk in such beautiful weather, with such fun company, and in a different neighborhood than our own!  I am so sick of walking around our neighborhood at this point!  I must have taken hundreds of walks this pregnancy alone, LOL.  A change of scenery was VERY welcome!  And walking meant that my numbers were great, even after a meal with lots of carbs!  I ate a lot of turkey, and a spoonful of other things, LOL.

Of course, since we didn't make the turkey, we didn't have any turkey left-overs, although we did have some mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and a little bit of sweet potatoes left.  So Friday Mom and I made a turkey of our own, and we recreated Thanksgiving dinner again!  Yum!  I made a turkey pot pie with the dark meat Saturday, and we've been eating the white meat for sandwiches.  It was only a 17 pound turkey, so we didn't have tons of leftover meat!

Friday morning we also got an email from Nathan's football coach that he was nominating Nathan as the county youth football player of the year.  This was exciting, but he also needed some more information, like Nathan's gpa, and a list of volunteer and extra-curricular activities, by Saturday or Sunday.  I thought I had been really organized the end of last year with his grades, but when I looked back at that folder on the computer, it turns out there were a few gaping holes, both for last year and even for the first quarter this year!  So I spent time Friday getting organized and also making lists of activities.  Christine said it was a good thing I wasn't at the hospital, because it would have been hard to compile everything there!  I guess so, but now I'm done, and the baby still isn't here . . .  Anyhow, we won't hear anything until February, but it was a great honor just to be nominated--and it is nice validation for a homeschooler of leadership, character, and athletic ability!

Saturday the menfolk (Bob, my dad, Nathan, and Luke) headed back over to the McC's house, where they had also been Friday, helping the McC's hang drywall after their latest flood.  My dad conducted a little workshop, with a lot of hands-on experience for everyone, LOL.  Good skills for the boys to know!

Sunday I was incredibly crabby, due to the fact that I was still quite pregnant, but with no signs of progress.  Nothing fits anymore--pants roll down and shirts ride up.  I went ahead to church, where I answered people very shortly about my lack of progress.  Next Sunday I am definitely staying home!  I am not in the mood to be social!  We did put up the Christmas tree and the Christmas decorations Sunday afternoon while Micah was napping.  The nice thing is that the boys can do most of the stuff, even bringing everything upstairs including the tree, and setting it up!  When Micah got up and saw everything for the first time, he was completely amazed, LOL.  "Oooohh . . . . woah . . . .. ooooooh" he kept saying in wonder!  So cute!  Now we are trying to keep him from touching all the ornaments.

And now--we're back to a somewhat normal routine--still with no baby and no signs of one coming soon.  The boys did school today, Nathan is getting ready to head to his Spanish III class in a few minutes, and tomorrow will be TNT and Rivendell, although I'm not teaching anything.  I have another doctor appointment tomorrow afternoon, where they can tell me that still nothing is happening, grrrrrr.  It will be interesting to see what they suggest.  I imagine they will want to schedule an induction probably for next week--but my dad is actually flying back to Ohio next week for a week, so it is definitely not a good time for me to be in the hospital having a baby.  The boys have places to go, like co-ops, 4 different basketball practices on 4 different nights, Civil Air Patrol, etc., and my mom can't get everyone everyone and deal with the little ones too!  Gah--I can't believe this baby is being so uncooperative!!!   PLEASE pray that this baby will come by this weekend!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Waiting . . .

Monday I ran a ton of little errands, and my parents arrived safely from Ohio.  Yesterday we spent the day doing our part of the cooking for the Thanksgiving dinner we're eating over at the L's house.  I got my bag sort of packed.  I washed a load of baby clothes.  I worked some on the biology syllabus for this next semester.  Things are pretty much ready around here.

Unfortunately, Baby #9 has not received that memo.  At my appointment this morning, I was basically unchanged from last week--still a (soft) 1 cm, cervix very high, about 50% effaced.  And the baby is still on that right side, not pressing down on the cervix, just floating around.  "He seems quite happy in there," said the doctor.  Yes, well . . . I am not happy for him to stay in there.  I don't think I have ever been this far along and been so little dilated!  What we are looking at is a December baby, which is incredibly disappointing to Caleb, who has been so looking forward to finally having a "birthday buddy" of his own.  All the rest of our birthdays are between February and June, while he hangs out all by himself in November.  Nothing like feeling like a huge disappointment to one of your other children, one who actually DID put me into labor on his own, right before his due date, with no issues or problems, no less.  Grrrrrr.  At least December avoids the anniversary of Jennifer's death. 

And of course, an overdue baby means an even bigger baby for me.  The doctors seem to think that is simply not going to be an issue, but you know what?  I have big babies--even when people don't think the babies are big.  As one of the small minority who has pushed out a 10 1/2 pound baby, as well as two over-9-pounders, all with no pain medicine at all, I would just like to say I do not want to do that again.  Sigh.  The doctor said he didn't recommend even thinking about an induction now, since it's so obvious the baby isn't ready, and I have to completely agree.  This reminds me (again) of Grace's birth story, where she wasn't ready and it was not my favorite birthing experience.  And with her I was at least 3 cm dilated!  But she was very high, took forever to move down, and wasn't in a good position when she did, such that she had shoulder dystocia. 

This is also reminding me of Jonathan.  He was due mid-May--around the 18th, I think.  His birthday is June 2--my first induction.  He was also "very comfortable" in there, way up high, not moving down.   I never dreamed I would have a June baby when I was due in mid-May!  Those last 2 weeks were some of the most discouraging of my life, as I chased around 3 other little kids (Nathan, the oldest, was 5).

I know a lot more about birthing, and about optimal fetal positioning now, though.  I've read up on Spinning Babies about "oblique lying babies" (where the head is off to the side, in the hip), and I've been doing their suggestions.  Unfortunately, however, nothing is working, obviously.  I have learned even more though--it is such a  fascinating website!  For example, when I had Nathan, I stalled out at 9 cm.  I had a lip on one side which just wouldn't dilate.  Eventually (after Pitocin), the AF midwife had me lay on my back and push while she held my cervix out of the way.  I never had any urge to push, and the whole thing was incredibly difficult, but Nathan was born after about 2 hours of pushing.  Looking back, I am amazed that I avoided a c-section, and I am sure that if a doctor had been attending me, I probably would have gotten one.  Wow--that would have changed things!  Anyhow, I was reading on the site last night, and one part was talking about how to do a "side-lying release".  It said this move was indicated in labor when the uterus is contracting strongly, but progress stalls at 6, 7, or even 8 or 9 cm.  The uterus just can't bring the baby down evenly.  Huh!  In another place it even talked about how lying on your back and pushing, while uncomfortable, can get the baby to tip into the pelvis in a better way and avoid a c-section!  Who knew?!  The sad thing is that no one had any suggestions for me, other than pitocin--no changes of position, no "side-lying release move" or anything. 

I would say that most causes of labor that is slow to progress or even slow to start  are badly-positioned babies.  But that doesn't answer the question of why, if I know this and am trying these techniques, they are not working for me?!  Frustrating!  So now I have added weird positioning exercises to my twice daily routine of pregnancy exercise DVDs and forced marches around the neighborhood.  Whee!  The fun just keeps coming!  But not the baby . . . and I can't even eat cookies or chocolate to distract myself.  My next appointment is Tuesday at 1:20.  Although the doctor said, "Well, I'm sure you'll start progressing any day now", I am not so hopeful.  Unless something changes with the baby (and there's no indication that is going to happen), I doubt anything will change, even in a week. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Belly Shots

I have not actually taken any belly shots so far this pregnancy, so this afternoon, after church and before running off to our small group meeting, I asked Bob to document this pregnancy with a picture!
I'm carrying like all the others--a big basketball out in front.  Sometimes people tell me I look low, like I've dropped--but I've looked this way for awhile now, nothing new!  I just carry low.  And I look big, too.  The doctor was funny on Friday--I had told her I was expecting a 9 pound baby, since Caleb and Jonathan were both 9 pounds.  She felt around and said she didn't think this one was 9 pounds.  I'd be VERY surprised if he wasn't though (pleasantly surprised, LOL).  Maybe if I go into labor in the next day or 2--not if I wait another week and a half!

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Yesterday was a very busy day!  I had an OB appointment in the morning.  Bob took the day off, so we drove to Bethesda for that.  The doctor was very nice.  She did check me, and not too much is going on.  I'm soft but only a cm dilated.  That's not too surprising, since I really haven't had too many contractions.  The doctor said the baby's head is not centered in my pelvis--it's off to the right, in a "false" pelvis.  That is not surprising either.  My babies like the right side, and I always have problems with the round ligaments on that side.  After I had Micah, the nurses kept exclaiming about how lopsided my uterus was when they were doing the fundal massage!  Anyhow, I wonder if this isn't a reason why I haven't been going into labor by myself these past several babies--they get comfortable in their off-center place, and then they never really push on the cervix enough to get regular contractions started.  Now, my cervix does end up dilating, but maybe it just does that out of habit, LOL.  I just don't go into labor.  I've been crawling around today, doing pelvic rocking and figure 8's, but I don't feel anything different like the baby shifting or anything, so that is discouraging.  And I reread my posts up to Grace's birth (May 1, 2007), and I was reminded about how I ended up being induced with her (due to the paranoid civilian doctor).  That was only a few days early--about 5--but she was not in a good position, and she took forever to descend.  Consequently it was a very long labor (9 hours--which is forever for a 6th baby!), and my uterus didn't clamp up right away after it.  Also, she had shoulder dystocia.  All in all, not my favorite labor experience, and one I don't care to repeat, so I guess it is better to wait for the week after Thanksgiving, with all its negative emotions, than try anything next week. 

I was very happy, however, that the doctor was able to get me an appointment next Wednesday.  I was so worried that this would be my last appointment before the week of my due date.  Hopefully I'll be a little more dilated next week, and they can at least strip my membranes.   So we'll see what these next few days bring.  I'm definitely at the point where I feel like I'll be pregnant forever, especially with not many Braxton-Hicks contractions either.  At least my parents are coming on Monday!  Hooray for Grandma and Grandpa!  Everyone is MOST excited to see them!

So anyhow, after the appointment, Bob and I drove to BD's Mongolian Grill, which is just down the street from the base.  Except that it isn't there anymore!  We always enjoy eating there, and we've gone right after being disharged with both Faith and Micah.  I guess we'll have to find a new tradition!  Yesterday we were starving, so we went a few doors down to Subway, which was tasty and cheap.  But not necessarily a place I would make a special trip to with a brand newborn baby, LOL.

Then Bob and I headed to Fort Meyer to make one last trip to the commissary.  I just went the end of October, so it really hasn't been very long, but I wanted to get a turkey and a ham for the time with my parents.  Plus, we can always use more cereal!  It's fun to go with Bob--stuff seems to jump into the cart, LOL.  The commissary was very crowded, though, which made it all the more tiring.

We got home, everyone helped unload, I cooked up 21 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken to use in casseroles and soups, and Bob made hotdogs for dinner.  THEN it was time for me to be off to Christine's house, where she was hosting a baby shower for me!  I hadn't been sure I really wanted one, but she insisted, and she told me to think of people that I just don't get to spend enough time talking with but that I really enjoy.  Well, that was easy enough, and there ended up being 9 of us there.  It was SO much fun!  I had a WONDERFUL time!  The food was delicious, the conversation was great, and it was just so very nice!  Those of you who couldn't make it, like Lynnea, Amy P., and Christine B., were sorely missed--you missed a great time!    We laughed our way through the evening, and I didn't get home until after 10:00!  And the ladies got me tons of diapers and even a frozen meal!

Funny story--I brought in all the gift bags and set them down in the family room.  Jonathan walked in.

Jonathan:  "Where did all these presents come from?"
Me:  "The baby shower--they're gifts for the new baby!"
Jonathan:  "Oh--the shower was for YOU?!"

LOL!  I guess he's used to me going off to all these baby showers at church and never imagined one would be for me!  So funny!

And that was the wonderful end to a long and tiring day!  I waddled off to bed, so thankful for the good friends I have here!  They are all such blessings to me!!

Thursday, November 15, 2012


I'm on break!  I'm on break!  Oh, happy day!   On Tuesday I taught my last biology, life science, and memory work classes until Jan. 8!  And today we had our last lab period!!

For biology I am giving the boys a bunch of assignments over this long break, since I don't want them to forget all their hard-earned knowledge.  They have some practice AP essay questions, some practice genetics and Hardy-Weinburg problems, 2 virtual labs to do on the computer, a mid-term exam, and several chapters to read in their biology book.  We are through the hardest sections, I think, so the challenge when we return will be to keep all the biochemistry/molecular biology stuff fresh in their minds with lots of review.  I do need to work on the syllabus for the remainder of the school year--that is the last thing hanging over my head.  There are a ton of chapters in the book that are not emphasized any more (the "march through the phyla" chapters), and I need to spend some more time figuring out what in there is important, and what can be safely skipped over. 

It is just such a nice feeling to be done, even if it is temporarily.  Like I can take a breath and look around! 

Now, the rest of Rivendell is not done.  We're off next week for Thanksgiving, but then there will be 3 more weeks of classes before Christmas.  The day will be shorter without the science and memory work classes, however, so that will be nice.  The elementary co-op is doing a fine arts unit those 3 weeks, which will culminate in a little Christmas musical on Dec. 11.  The kids have already been working on the songs and lines, so we have been faithfully listening to the CD each and every day.  Rivendell is going to meet on Monday that week so that the older boys can watch their younger siblings perform on Tuesday.  And then we'll all be off for Christmas! 

Friday, November 09, 2012

Another OB Appointment

I'm over 37 weeks along now, and I had another appointment this morning.  Everything looks just fine, and the doctor was very happy with my blood sugar numbers.  She did surprise me, however, by saying that well-controlled gestational diabetes is the same as not having diabetes at all, so they aren't planning to induce me or anything before 40 weeks (my official due date is Nov. 28).  This was a surprise, because with Faith, they did not want me to go past 40 weeks at all, even though everything was well-controlled then too.

It wouldn't really matter, except for a couple of things.  First, I have big babies.  I did not have GD with Caleb and Jonathan, and they were 9# 5oz and 9# 6oz respectively.  So I am expecting at least a 9 pounder here.  Anna and Grace were not GD babies, and they were 8# 11oz and 8#13 oz, and Faith, who was a GD baby, was 8# 10oz--right in line with the other girls' weights.  Anyhow, all those numbers to say I am not interested in going much over 40 weeks!

Second, my due date is just terrible timing, really.  You may not remember what I was posting about last year at the end of November/beginning of December, but I have personal reasons for not wanting to deliver Nov. 26-30.  So in my mind, I have been thinking of my due date as more "right after Thanksgiving", and not that in last week of November.  But really, with Thanksgiving there is no way to schedule anything except that last week of November, and I really don't want to go into December, for fear of having another big baby.  Nine pounders are one thing, but Micah was 10# 8oz--and I definitely do not fancy pushing out another one his size again!!

I have another appointment next Friday.  The doctor today said they would do an exam and see what things were looking like at that point, although I'm not seeing her next week, so really who knows what this next person will do, LOL.  Then I am going to attempt to schedule another appointment like the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, although it is tricky to schedule one so soon, since I have to see a doctor, not a nurse-prationer or midwife, and appointments fill up quickly.  If I could, though, that woul give me one more exam (and hopefully a membrane-stripping), and if I was dilated, then maybe Bob and I would go into L&D sometime Thanksgiving weekend, like we did with Micah, and if they weren't busy, they would probably give me a little bit of pit and put me into active labor.  So we'll see how all that works out.

The thing is, I really don't have any hope of going into labor on my own, much less early.  I did go into labor on my own with Faith 2 days before the scheduled induction at 40 weeks (and we barely made it to the hospital), but otherwise, the last person I went into labor with on my own was Caleb, #3.  Jonathan, #4, was 2 weeks overdue before I was induced with him!   There are no tricks that put me into labor, LOL.  And my water NEVER breaks on its own!

So I am just continuing my routine and hoping for the best.  I'm still exercising twice a day most days, which takes a huge chunk of time and makes me really tired.  I do one of my pregnancy workout videos in the morning, and usually Bob and I take a 40 minute walk after dinner.  All the exercise does keep my blood sugar numbers low, I've only gained a pound of weight in the last 8 weeks since I was diagnosed, and I sleep well and don't struggle with constipation, LOL.  Silver lining . . .  I have a chiropractic appointment scheduled for next Wednesday--I want to be well-aligned so the baby can be in a good position.  I'm also taking my daily regimen of supplements.  I'm up to 4 evening primrose oil capsules a day (promotes cervical softening and dilation), 6 raspberry leaf extract capsules (uterine toning and effective contractions), 4 alfalfa pills (prevents hemorrhaging), and the usual prenatal vitamin and fish oil pills.  Hopefully the evening primrose oil in particular will be effective.

In general, I feel pretty good, although I am starting to feel these last few weeks of pregnancy.  But to be honest, I'm so busy with co-op and everything else, that it's not like I have time to sit and stew in my discomfort, LOL.  We have one more week of Rivendell before Thanksgiving break, so I just have to get through the  classes on Tuesday, plus lab on Thursday, and then I'll be home free!!  And this past weekend, we really picked up, in part because of the moms' meeting I hosted on Sunday, but also because Wednesday afternoon a lady from church, along with 2 helpers, thoroughly cleaned our house!  It looks sooo good--they did such a fantastic job!  Now I feel like I can really relax, since everything is so clean, although it will be a struggle to maintain it, with all these little (and big) messmakers around.  I also got out the baby boy clothes.  We're closer to being ready!

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Allergy Appointment

As mentioned in my last post, Micah had an allergy appointment at Bethesda on Monday.  He definitely reacts to milk (hives around the mouth), and a few weeks ago (maybe back in September?) he ate a cashew that the girls left out and broke out in hives all over his mouth and trunk.  The milk reactions go away fairly quickly and without me needing to give him anything, unless it is actual real milk that he drank because unnamed parties forgot to take their cereal bowls off the table *cough*.  Then I give him a bit of liquid benedryl, and that reaction clears up right away too. I gave benedryl for the cashew, and the hives cleared right up.  He never had any sort of wheezing or anything, so that was good.  But at his last well-baby appointment, the doctor gave me a referral to the allergy clinic.  Anyway, we have been avoiding milk and nuts! 

The appointment was at 1:15, and I should have guessed how long it would take when we had to park on the 8th floor of the parking garage (the top floor), and there was only one elevator working!  I ended up carrying Micah and the stroller down all 8 flights of stairs, since I realized it was going to take approximately forever waiting for the elevator.  Actually, I didn't do it all by myself--I had a ton of offers from kind gentlemen to help, and one guy brought the stroller down a few flights (until I felt bad for him and told him I would just catch the elevator at floor 4--but that was taking forever, so I launched out again), and another guy carried it down the last 2.  Anyhow--a bad omen, LOL. 

One thing that took so long is that since Bethesda is a teaching hospital, we actually saw not 1, not 2, but 3 doctors!  They were all extremely nice, but it does add up!  They decided to do a skin test for casien (a milk protein), milk (with all the proteins), cashews, and peanuts.  I had been giving Micah peanut butter at the beginning of the summer, and he didn't seem to be reacting, but then as the summer wore on, he just got progressively itchier, and his eczema flared up.  I couldn't tell if this was related to the peanut butter or not, but I decided to go back to sun butter anyway.  But that's why they were testing for it.

Micah was a pro throught he testing, most likely due to him having a lollipop to suck on, LOL.  Nothing popped up like Caleb gets--humongous wheals almost instantly--but Micah definitely got wheals for the whole milk and the cashews.  Not the peanut one though, and not the casein, although that is pretty meaningless--we still have to avoid milk!  After we talked to all the doctors again about those results, they sent us off to have some blood drawn for a RAST test.  There they tested for other tree nuts, along with some other stuff.  Some ladies from the pediatrics clinic did the blood draw, and let me just say they were amazing!  Micah didn't like having the rubber tourniquet thing around his arm, but they got the vein on the first try, filled up 3 vials with no problems, and got out of there in a jiffy!  In fact, with both the skin test and the blood draw, Micah behaved considerably better than other members of the family who have had these same things done at older ages *cough*.  It was a 2 lollipop-bag of fruit snacks-bag of teddy grahams afternoon though, LOL. 

The second doctor said he'd call in 2-3 weeks, whenever he gets the blood results back.  I was just glad to get the appointment out of the way before the baby is born!

The only problem with the appointment taking so long is that Nathan was supposed to have his Spanish III class at 3:00 at the McC's house.  Whoops!  And I was in a place where I got no cell coverage, so although he tried to call several times, I could never actually talk to him, and I couldn't make any outgoing calls.  Eventually, when we moved to the blood draw room, I got a small signal and he was able to get through.  By then it was 3:10 (and I obviously hadn't even left yet, LOL), so I told him to call Christine and see if she could come get him.  As soon as I hung up with him, Christine called, wondering where he was, so she headed over to pick him up, thankfully.  I'm so glad we live close by!  The clock was broken in the exam room where we were, and I just lost track of time, as I doled out snack after snack and tried to keep Micah entertained, LOL.  When we finally could leave, the traffic was bad, so we didn't actually get home until 4:30--time to pick up Nathan!  Whew--that was a long day, especially with Rivendell the next day!  But we made it.  The appointment didn't give any real new information, but it is good to have everything documented.  I'm still hoping that since Micah doesn't have as violent a reaction to milk as Caleb did, that he will outgrow his milk allergy a lot earlier than Caleb--like at age 2 instead of age 9!  Anna outgrew her milk allergy at 2, so there is precedent.  In the meantime, I am back in the milk avoidance routine, sign.  It was a lovely 2 year break though!

Happy Birthday, Caleb!!

Well, I'm a little bit behind!  Caleb had his 11th birthday on Monday!  Mondays are really busy days for us, as we are doing last-minute things for Rivendell on Tuesday, but we managed to squeeze in some celebrating.  Caleb wanted chicken salad on croissants for his birthday lunch.  I got the croissants on Sunday from Sams, but I didn't get the chicken salad made up.  I had to leave at 12:00 to take Micah to Bethesda for an allergy appointment, so I made up the dressing but Caleb had to cut up the chicken, celery and grapes for his own birthday lunch.  Good thing he likes cooking!

Micha's appointment took forever, but finally it was done, I rushed home, then rushed over to the McC's house to pick up Nathan from his Spanish III class, and then rushed back home to make his birthdya dinner.  Caleb really loves this sausage roll, which is sausage mixed with some other things in a puff pastry sheet shell.  The recipe calls for one puff pastry sheet and 1/2 pound of sausage.  We are now up to quadrupling the recipe, LOL--4 puff pastry sheets and 2 pounds of sausage.  Finally we had a bit left over!

After dinner we ate ice cream and opened presents.  Caleb got a short-sleeve underarmor-type shirt, which he's been wanting, as well as an Avengers t-shirt.  He also got the new VeggieTale movie, The League of Incredible Vegetables, which everyone has enjoyed. He also got a little Star Wars lego set.

Now you notice I didn't say anything about cake.  I knew a cake was going to be hard--I didn't have any time, and besides, I have gestational diabetes and can't eat any of it anyway!  But Sunday night I hosted the moms from our elementary co-op at our house for a spaghetti dinner.  This meant we spent all of Saturday and most of Sunday afternoon furiously cleaning the main floor of our house, which had somehow gotten incredibly cluttered, if you can imagine.  We did stuff we usually don't do for Rivendell, like clean off the hearth, and move piles of books from the floor and various tables onto actual bookshelves.   Exhausting! 

For the actual dinner I made 2 crockpots of spaghetti sauce.  I didn't know how much we would need, especially since I was feeding my family as well.  We would have been okay with just one crockpot, but we would have had no leftovers (some of which I froze.  Yay!).  I made too many noodles, though.  We only needed 6 pounds, not 8.  The other moms, of which there were 22, brought salads, bread, drinks, and desserts.

We had a great meeting, but no one ate the desserts!  And the moms didn't want to take them home . . . so we were the beneficiaries of 2 plates of cookies, a lemon bundt cake, a pan of pumpkin spice bars with yummy cream cheese frosting, and a ton of cupcakes, covered with sprinkles!  Perfect!  So Caleb got cupcakes for his birthday, as well as a smorgasbord of of desserts to choose from, just for variety!  Nathan asked if we could have a moms' meeting the night before his birthday so that he would also have a huge selection of desserts at his disposal!  At Rivendell the next day I declared open season on all the desserts, so they were all gone by the end of the day, LOL. 

I still owe Caleb a birthday cake though.  I had told him he could decorate one himself however he wanted, although he still hadn't decided on what exactly he wanted his cake to be, so maybe it is just fine to postpone!  The important thing is that now Caleb is 11 years old!  Happy birthday, Caleb!!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Being Prepared

We weathered Hurricane Sandy just fine!  It was windy and rainy, but the only neighborhood casualty I could see on my walk yesterday was a street sign.  The boys were disappointed that our power never went out.  We were definitely prepared for an outage this time, after our big outage in June!  We had tons of flashlights at the ready, I did loads and loads of laundry, the dishwasher was run, as was the garbage disposal, I made muffins, we finished and printed out everything we needed for Rivendell . . . but the power stayed on.  Oh well!  We went ahead and slept down in the basement Monday night.  Our house is surrounded by big trees, and we didn't want to take any chances.  It was much more pleasant sleeping down there now than back in June--the temperature was pleasant, the air was circulating, and we could run our noisemakers, so everyone slept well!

We ended up moving Rivendell to today (Wednesday) instead of Tuesday anyway, which turned out to be a God-thing.  The McC's basement flooded again, which they discovered at 3:30 AM, so they spent the rest of the night bailing water and trying to clean up.  They could not have done a day at Rivendell--they were exhausted!

For us, it was really nice to have an unplanned day off.  We still did a short day of school for Caleb and Jonathan mainly, but then in the afternoon we were able to get all that laundry folded and put away, so I am feeling on top of laundry for the first time in, oh, I don't know, months probably. 

Also, we have had the bright idea to switch the girls room and Caleb and Jonathan's room around.  Caleb and Jonathan's room has a bunk bed with a double bed on bottom and a twin bed on top, while the girls have single bunk beds with a pull-out trundle underneath.  We had been thinking about where Micah could go, once the new baby (still nameless if you are wondering) needs the crib.  We have other cribs, but we are running out of room space to put a second crib!  So if Caleb and Jonathan move into the girls room, then Micah could sleep on the trundle bed.  I don't think he would do very well, sleeping with someone on a double bed!

But changing rooms involves a lot of logistics, and I simply haven't had time to even start.  Yesterday I was able to get a little bit more organized in both rooms, giving me hope that this move may actually get accomplished in the near future, as opposed to months away, LOL.  All 5 affected kids are very excited about the impending changes, and they don't understand why I haven't just dropped everything else to make it happen!

Speaking of being prepared, on Sunday Pastor Mike talked about how everyone was so concerned about buying batteries and being prepared for the coming storm, but we really need to be prepared for death and judgment, since that will happen for everyone.  That point was driven home late Sunday night.  I have followed the blog mommylife for several years now.  The author, Barbara Curtis, was a mother of 12, 4 of them with Down's syndrome (3 adopted).  She got political around election times, but she posted frequently and always had interesting perspectives in many different areas.  Well, Sunday night I got an email from my homeschool loop that said she had suffered a massive stroke and was not expected to regain consciousness.  Indeed, she died Tuesday.  What a complete shock!  However, she was prepared for this event--I know she placed her confidance in the blood of Christ to cover her sins, and I will see her in heaven.  I am so sad for her family right now, though, and I will really miss reading her posts. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

"This Day is Called . . ."

I'm sure you all know that today, Oct. 25, is the Feast of St. Crispin, and are all celebrating accordingly!  We memorized this speech last year in memory work, and it is such a rousing one!  We recited it today during our memory work review.  (The part we memorized starts at about 1:10 in the video.)  Here's what we memorized--watch Kenneth Branagh say it, and get your blood pumping!

This day is called the Feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day and comes safe home
Will stand a-tiptoe when this day is named
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.

He that shall see this day and live t' old age
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours
And say, "Tomorrow is Saint Crispian."
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars
And say, "These wounds I had on Crispin's day."

Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words —
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester —
Be in their flowing cups freshly remembered.

This story shall the good man teach his son,
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered,
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition.

And gentlemen in England now abed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's Day.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Curly Girl Faith

"There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid."
(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

Friday, October 19, 2012


I had another ultrasound this morning.  I'm a little over 34 weeks now, and my other ultrasound was wa back in June, when I was only 17 weeks along.  Then the tech said my placenta was low-lying, and I needed another ultrasound at 32 weeks to make sure it had moved.  But the doctor said I had to have this ultrasound in the radiology department, and this was the soonest appointment.

Bob was able to take off work today, so he went with me, making the drive and the appointment so much more fun!  And it's always nice to see the baby!  I had to lay down pretty flat, which was amazingly uncomfortable.  Toward the end, the tech was trying to estimate his weight, and she needed to measure his femur, but the baby was really moving around.   I was just praying he would settle down long enough for her to measure him so I could get up!  Finally she got what she was looking for, and I could sit up.  I had a major round ligament cramp though.  I think one reason the baby was so wiggly and active was because he didn't like me being on my back!

Everything looked just fine though.  The lady asked me when they told me my placenta was low, because it was certainly out of the way now!  I think my theory about having such an early ultrasound (I've not had one that early that wasn't purely a dating ultrasound) was correct.  Whatever the cause, I am just rejoicing that I don't have to plan for a c-section now!  Thank you, Lord!

For what it's worth, the baby is measuring right on.  The weight she came up with is 5 pounds, 4 ounces, which could be exactly right, but I really don't put much stock in weight estimations from ultrasounds.  They are wildly off way too many times!    In fact, I had an ultrasound with Anna 2 weeks before she was born because the (civilian) doctor was worried about her being too big.  That ultrasound was a big waste of time, as far as I was concerned!  She was too big to really see anything, and they estimated her size as 7 pounds, 10 ounces, give or take 18 ounces.  What a huge margin of error, making the results meaningless!  Anna was 8 pounds 11 ounces at birth, 2 weeks later.

After our romantic date in the low-lit ultrasound room, Bob and I continued the fun by driving straight over to the Ft. Myer commissary--you can't say Bob doesn't ever take me anywhere expensive on dates!  We managed to keep the cost under $900 (barely!), and now we are stocked up for a good while.  I will have to go back again in November to get a turkey.  I didn't want a huge bird taking up all my freezer space for a month!  It was fun to have Bob be my "helper" instead of one of the boys this time, LOL.  And I know all the boys were relieved that they were off the hook for going!

Now I'm exhausted, so after I work on some biology, it will be off to bed for me!  Nathan is taking the PSAT tomorrow, so I know he would appreciate any prayers!  I can't believe it's time to start all this pre-college stuff . . . The weird thing is starting all this pre-college stuff AND thinking about delivering another baby in just a few short weeks!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

OB Appointment

Yesterday I had an OB appointment, the first one since I started checking my blood sugar numbers 3 weeks ago.  Things have been going fairly well, as far as the gestational diabetes goes.  I've settled into a routine.  It's definitely easier the second time around!  I always eat the same thing for breakfast (1/2 c. bran flakes, milk, and a hard-boiled egg), and I eat similar things each day for lunch (usually a turkey/cheese/spinach sandwich, or a spinach salad with chicken and walnuts, or occasionally chicken salad with spinach and a few crackers--I usually eat a piece of fruit too).  I don't have any problems with these meals.  Dinner is a little bit harder, just because there's more variety.  A lot of the quick meals I have are carb-heavy, and I have had a few high readings after dinner, but not too many.  They want me to keep my after-mealtime numbers under 120, and I've had a few over--my highest was 136 once. 

Surprisingly, the number I've been having the most trouble with has been my fasting number, which I take first thing in the morning, before I have eaten anything.  They want it to be under 95, and usually my number is between 95 and 99--so not terribly high, but still . . . I went back and checked my numbers from when I was pregnant with Faith (because I am just that anal, and amazingly I could still find where all that stuff was), and I never had any trouble with my fasting number, no matter what I ate at night for my snack before bed.  The numbers were always around 89.  I was pregnant with Faith 4 years ago, and I guess I am just that much more insulin-resistant now.  Anyhow, I have been experimenting with what snack gives me the best fasting numbers.  I know what doesn't work--any sort of cookie or anything, even if I have some protein with it!  I've tried a bunch of different things, but what seems to work best, interestingly enough, is a 1/2 cup of a good (high fat) chocolate ice cream, and then I also eat a slice of turkey for protein.  When I do that, my numbers are usually around 93--still higher than with Faith, but better than with any other "healthier" snack I have tried.  Hey--I'm just reporting on the results of the experiment here--but I'm willing to eat a little bit of ice cream each night if that is what I have to do!

But back to the appointment--I was wondering what the doctor would say about my higher fasting levels (since I didn't start trying the ice cream until a few nights ago--although that is what I usually had as my snack/reward for getting through the day when I was pregnant with Faith as well), but she wasn't concerned at all.  She said everything was going well, I'm measuring right on, and she was happy to hear about all my exercising (twice a day most days--over an hour a day!).  She said she hopes she doesn't have to put me on any sort of medicine, because that automatically puts me into a different category of GD mom--"category 2"--and that means they monitor more closely (non-stress tests and so on), and they induce a week early.  I'd be happy to go into labor a week early, but I'd rather not be induced that early, and I definitely don't want to have to make the drive to Bethesda any more often than I already have to, so I also hope I can control this GD again with just diet and exercise!

Next Friday is my follow-up ultrasound to see if my placenta has moved away from my cervix.  I have been praying it has!!  This ultrasound will be done in radiology, instead of in the prenatal assessment center.  Then I will have my next OB appointment the following Friday.  Fridays are a good day for me to make the trek, so I'm glad it's working out to have all these appointments on Fridays!

So everything is going well.  I am still really loving the maternity belt I bought from Amazon.  I don't think I could do all the walking and exercising I've been doing without it.  I have definitely had a lot less round ligament pain this time than I did with Micah.  Today I worked at a kids' consignment sale, and I was on my feet, running around for 3 1/2 hours.  I was so thankful for the extra support of the belt!  This baby is so active at night--I think it will be a challenge to get his days and nights straightened out once he is born!  But I'm so busy during the day.  It's not until I lay down to sleep at night that he starts really moving around in there!  We've made a little progress on possible names, but honestly, there hasn't been that much time to talk about it!  The kids have all voiced their opinions.  This is where I remind them that this is not a democracy, LOL. 

Just a little over 6 weeks to go!

Friday, October 12, 2012

18 Months!

Micah had his 18 month well-baby check-up on Wednesday, so he and I made the trek out to Bethesda.  He is indeed a well baby!  He is now 25 pounds, 7 ounces, which puts him at about the 50th percentile--a huge number for us!  But the real shocker was that his height was in the 86th percentile!  We have NEVER had anyone remotely on the "tall" side, but evidently Micah's size at birth wasn't just a fluke, and he actually does have some of the "big" genes from our families that just have hidden themselves for the other 7 kids! 

Micah is off the charts as far his fine and gross motor skills as well.  He runs, jumps, climbs (everything), uses a fork and spoon well, throws and kicks a ball, and pretty much does whatever he can to imitate any and all of his older siblings. 

Except in the area of talking.  He says about 8 words total (not even each day, LOL), and while he understands what we tell him, he doesn't seem to see any real need of using words to communicate back to us.  But none of my kids said much before the age of 2, so I'm not worried, and neither was the doctor.  Saying 8 words is within the realm of normal for 18 months!  (Here are some of his words:  Mama, Dada, ball (and here he will even differentiate--football, basketball--those are different), banana, blanket, diaper . . . hmm, there are 2 more, but I can't think of them right now . . . )  He does say a lot of sounds (like "woof") and things like "Peekaboo" and "Oops".  Still--not real verbal.  Definitely a man of action, LOL.

Micah's favorite place to be is outside with his brothers and sisters.  He gets his jacket and shoes when they start heading out in the afternoon.  He loves playing with any of the multitudinous balls in the garage.  Lately he's started putting on one of the girls' bicycle helmets (he's partial to a dark pink princess one, LOL) and trying to ride one of the scooters that has 3 wheels.  The girls are trying to teach him to pedal the tricycle, but he hasn't been real interested in that.

Inside, Micah loves playing with whatever Faith is playing with, LOL.  Already he knows how to push people's buttons!  He also likes to build Duplo towers, put things in the little wagon we have and drag that around the house, unloading random things in random places (like we need anymore help with that, LOL), and also hold a babydoll.  He's so cute with the doll, but he is absolutely uncooperative whenever I try to take a picture of him with one!  Still, hopefully he'll be a good big brother, since that day is drawing ever nearer!  He is not always that gentle, so I will really have to watch him!

That's a quick update on Micah!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Some Mild Monday Panicking

I woke up Monday morning feeling very stressed and overwhelmed as I thought about the upcoming week.  I had spent a lot of time Sunday night trying to work out how I was going to teach AP labs that we don't have the equipment for, and was just feeling very inadequate at dealing with the whole biology thing in general.  And when I go to bed thinking about something, then it's hard to turn my brain off, so all those worries roiled around in there the whole night, plus I added on to them my worries about planning this space field trip to the Udvar-Hazy Museum for our elementary co-op in March that for some reason I agreed to be in charge of, as well as minor things like Micah's left tennis shoe was missing, and I need to register the boys for basketball.  Whew!  Restless night of sleep, to say the least!

But God was good--I usually am reading through Ruth Myers' 31 Days of Praise in the morning, and on October 1st, it was really timely.  Here's a short excerpt--

My heart rejoices in You, Lord, for You are my strong shelter in times of trouble and danger and stress, my hiding place to whom I may continually resort . . . I praise you for Your love and Your wisdom . . . You act on my behalf, accomplishing what concerns me and fulfilling your purpose for me as I call on You . . .

It was all really encouraging to me.  For our character time in school, we've been reading Created For Work by Bob Shultz (HIGHLY recommend this and his other book, Boyhood and Beyond).  Well, the chapter we read on Monday dealt with "difficulty".  Here's the quote at the beginning:  "First a thing is impossible, then it's difficult, then it's done."  That is so true!  He talks about accepting the challenge of difficult jobs because those are the jobs that develop our muscles, minds, and spirits.  "Without a challenge, there is little or no growth."  Definitely timely for someone who is struggling with the seemingly impossible task of teaching AP biology, dredging up rusty knowledge from almost 20 years ago, all while expecting her 9th baby and dealing with gestational diabetes, plus continuing to homeschool everyone else!

And the Lord provided help in other areas this week as well.  I worked out a bit at least how lab this week was going to go--I spent the time teaching the boys how to do a chi-squared test for data, and then we did several example problems using experimental data.  This seems to be an important area of concentration, since a lot of the AP labs want this kind of data analysis done, so I think it was time well-spent.  I've spent time searching for online virtual labs for gel electrophoresis (using actual DNA--we'll do one just using dye on a homemade gel slab, but it won't be quite the same) and other lab techniques for the next 2 weeks, which will be helpful.  I still think the lab portion is our weakest link, due to lack of resources, but oh well.  Oh, and I found a tremendous AP biology resource online--Cheryl Massengale's Biology Junction.  If you scroll down the page a bit and click on the "AP Biology" link, then she has a wealth of helpful information and links!  That has already been very helpful, especially some of the past essay questions.  The boys will be doing a lot of those for practice when we take our long winter (baby!) break between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I was also able to get in contact with educational people at Udvar-Hazy to ask my questions.  One big problem is that for their learning labs, they don't have much at all for the 1st/2nd graders, and none of what they do have involves space.  But we'll be finishing up a 5 week unit on space with this field trip, so we definitely need a space-related learning experience for all the levels.  The teacher in charge over there emailed me back this morning to say they could bring back one of their old labs for the 1st/2nd graders about satellites, both natural and man-made.  Woo-hoo!  So I filled out the online form, and hopefully I'll hear back from someone in the next few days to work out the times.  We're not out of the woods yet, as far as planning, because with 3 groups of kids doing learning labs, we're going to have to take 2 hours--and what will the K kids and the second half of the older kids do for the second hour?  We'll see . . .  I really wish I hadn't taken this thing on, LOL.  I really don't need anything extra to worry about right now, much less working out a field trip for 100 kids!  Difficulties . . . challenges . .  they're good . . . that's what I keep telling myself, LOL.

So now we're practically at the end of the week, and I've almost gotten through it.  But there are still plenty of challenges in the weeks and months ahead!