Monday, November 22, 2010

A Sweet Gift

Remember my friend who made me a wonderful meal and brought it by the day I started labor?  Her name is Lora and she is my "Martha Stewart friend."  She cooks amazing, gourmet, organic meals, decorates beautifully, and is very crafty and organized as well.  I met her at the park 2.5 years ago and knew even before she told me that she was a fellow Christian mom, and we've been friends ever since. 

Sadly, she is moving away in a week.  I'm glad that she will now have more opportunities to see her husband (his job in Spokane won't take him away from home anymore) and be closer to her family but we will miss them a lot!

The other day she gave me her couch they no longer wanted (which happens to be really huge and comfy and match perfectly with our living room), a lovely entryway rug, some pretty houseplants, and tons of wonderful food from their freezer, including organic berries and veggies, butter, fish, and lots of elk meat!  Yum!
She also gave me this sweet little basket purse with a hand-made scarf and card.

I love gifts that have special meanings behind them, like this one.

Lora bought this scarf from an older lady who is a dear friend of her family and an adopted grandma to her boys.  She has no grandchildren of her own and lost her daughter to ovarian cancer when she was only 30.  She makes these scarves to sell at craft shows for a scholarship fund they set up in their daughter's name.

 The daughter who died of cancer was "a wonderful Christian example, always speaking of the Gospel and Jesus' love with all those around her up to the day she died." 

Lora wrote, "I like to think of ladies I know who share her attitude, love of others, and faith and share the Gospel by example to those around them to give the scarves to."
(Pardon my super-fatigued look. 
All photos of myself are scary these days,
but that's what happens when you are on the no-sleep plan!)

I can scarcely read the card without tearing up.
I have far to go in being a godly example,
but the legacy of that young Christian woman
who inspired the scarves will live on
as I'm reminded to be like her when I wear it.

And the sweet words that accompanied the scarf will remind me of a friendship that hopefully will carry on in spite of the miles between us.

Thank you Lora!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Little Child Will Lead Them

One day Ali expressed concern about a couple of friends she has who don't know about Jesus.
She said, "I'm going to make a book to tell them how to get to heaven."  She did the entire book on her own, without any help from me!  It is so precious to me!
How you get to heaven....

Believe in the Lord and you...

Will be saved.

The dark circle is Hell and the other circle is Heaven.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Shutterfly's Holiday Card Promotion

I am excited to be able to share the Shutterfly Holiday Card Promotion here at Faithful Homemaking!

I love photos, love cards, and love staying in touch with family and friends, even across the miles.  For the last few years that I've had an account at Shutterfly I have been very happy with the many cards I have created on their site.  They continually have freebies or "only pay shipping" deals that have allowed me to send our parents and grandparents special holiday cards containing photos of our growing brood.  It was in a Shutterfly card that I announced our pregnancies with poems and fun pictures the last couple of times.  Their cards are simple to construct while still being trendy and high-quality.

This year, I am planning to use the Shutterfly holiday cards to send Christmas greetings and show off the newest little member of our family!  The hardest part will be choosing the photo or photos for the card since I take LOTS of pictures!

A year ago I made an Alphabet photo book using pictures of our family through Shutterfly and was very pleased with the quality.  To make a Shutterfly photo book, go here.

Need a gift for a relative?  Make a photo ornament or desk-top calendar!

If you aren't sure what making an online photo card is all about, give it a trial run by signing up here and using the promo code CARD4U to get a free 5x7 photo card (you only pay shipping, which is 99 cents!)

If you are a blogger and would like to join me in doing the Holiday Card Promotion and get 50 Free Holiday Cards through Shutterfly, click here to sign up!

Mysterious Katri

Apparently there is an unspoken rule in the blogosphere that if you blog and also recently had a baby, you must write a post on how wonderful your baby is, sleeping through the night at 5 days old, being super cuddly and agreeable, gaining weight like a champion, and the closest thing to perfection in human form.

But I'm not here to write that post.

Because until I moved her and I down to the guest room where the furnace noises rumble all night, Katri wasn't letting me sleep much, if at all.  This wasn't a bit fun considering how hard it is to get a nap with 3 other kids and considering our family caught the stomach flu bug a SECOND time this fall, causing me to lose all remaining hopes of ever sleeping or feeling normal again.
Many a night I tell my hubby I feel like I'm a slave to a two foot tall tyrant. 
And he nods in agreement, because it's true. 
I can barely set her down long enough to go to the bathroom once or twice a day! 
A shower is a big accomplishment!
Katri is a "womb service" kind of girl, wanting to be held all day and all night too, though I've recently gotten her to the point of just sleeping inches away from me instead of in my arms.  I am so glad I bought the book, "The Happiest Baby on the Block" at a yard sale this summer because it helped me to understand the fourth trimester and how to care for needy newborns who miss the womb. 
My hubby adores babies and was hoping she'd be another "Daddy's Girl" whom he could cuddle every night but instead, she usually insists on being held by Mama exclusively, due in part to her 3-4 hour nursing jags in the evenings.

Don't get me wrong!  Katrielle is every bit as loved and as darling to me as the super easygoing babies are to their mamas.  She is snuggly and soft and doesn't cry when you are holding her.  She makes the funniest little faces and delights our hearts as we spent countless minutes each day staring at her tiny fists, or her little peaceful  face as she sleeps.  We wouldn't trade her in for anything in the world!  We would do anything for her, as my cricked neck from awkward sleeping positions attests!

But she is definitely a mystery to us sometimes!  For the first time as parents we aren't sure what kind of personality she has yet.  Easygoing or strongwilled, energetic or prim and proper, social or hermit-like--we don't know!For the first time we are having to use burp cloths, as she's the first baby we've had who spits up occasionally.  She's the only baby we've had to burp consistently, and she absolutely adores being swaddled, which none of our other kids liked.  She hangs out in a sling all day, unlike her sister who absolutely hated slings. 

So, I live in a strange paradox of feeling totally confident in my mothering abilities with Baby #4 and totally unsure of what to do at other times.  I know what I'm doing in a general sense, and yet, because each baby is so different, I still feel like I have much to learn and grow in as a parent of this little one.

The journey isn't easy and breezy, but I am enjoying it!!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sugar and Spice

 Alathia said of her new sister, "I just can't stop loving her!"

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Four Kids Five and Under

Well, so far I'm 12 days into this mothering 4 kids 5 and under thing and here are my random, fatigue-influenced thoughts on the whole matter.  When you have FOUR little ones:

...Just expect that someone is going to be throwing up every day and if no one does, you will be pleasantly surprised.  (This due in part to the rampant stomach bugs that make their way through our town every October and November).

....Do not expect to get any sleep.  Doubly so if your baby was born a week before Daylight Savings Time.  If you happen to get a couple of hours you can consider it a great day!

....If your baby happens to have a rare, but incredible bout of sleeping during the night, it is about 90% likely that one of these scenarios will play out.

A.) Your sleepwalking child will get up and wander around the house looking for the bathroom.  When she finds it she will go potty on the toilet with her pajamas still on.

B.)  Your child with the biggest scream and whine will wake the whole household after seeing a spider run under his brother's bed.

C.)  One child will wake you up by yelling, "Get me a barf bucket!  Quick!" and will proceed to throw up all night.

D.)  Even though you put your kids to bed 2 hours later than usual, they will wake up at the crack of dawn, an hour earlier than usual, thanks to DST, and demand breakfast.

E.)  You will be woken in the night by your crying 2-year-old who will have the messiest, nastiest diaper explosion ever that will need to be changed.

.....Do expect to be filled to the brim with wonder and awe that God has given you so many little blessings.  There is something amazing about having more little people in your family than you can wrap your arms around at one time.

....You may find yourself endowed with certain bragging rights.  For example:  We've one-upped both of our sets of folks.  They had 3 in 7 years and 3 in 5.5 years respectively.  So, if we ever need to, we can pull out the, "Well, when you have FOUR....." card. 

....You will want to have at least one really good baby carrier.  I highly, highly, highly (you get the idea?) recommend the Ergo carrier and am happily using it with the Heart2heart infant insert for newborns.  My friend Camilla also sewed me a simple, knit sling that Katri loves too.  Because she is the kind of baby that loves to snuggle and refuses to sleep unless she is being held, and because I have a life that includes housework, cooking, and teaching other children, a good sling/sling is ESSENTIAL for me!

....You will soak up every minute with your newborn, having learned 3 times over that the first year with them is going to soon be a blur.  You won't worry about parenting theories and methods but will use your experience and common sense to make things work and to enjoy that tiny one.  You'll live the motto, "You can't spoil a baby" to the fullest!

....You may find yourself more in love than ever before with the father of your four blessings.  When he tells you to try to get some sleep and does "throw-up duty" all night with one of the kids or cleans the house to surprise you when you are out, or when he singlehandly takes 3 kids to the grocery store as though it's no big deal, your respect for him grows and the love deepens.  Sure a well-dressed husband who's wearing cologne is hot stuff, but a man who will do diapers and vomit and loves his kids with reckless abandon is hotter than hot!  I love that line from the movie, Cheaper by the Dozen:  "12 Kids later and we've still got the heat!"

.....You will be blessed, thrilled, and amazed by each of your children.  We feel so undeserving and so humbled by the task of raising these precious little ones with immortal souls.  We wouldn't want things any other way!  Four kids in five years is an unbelievable gift!!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Four Prayers On Your 4th!

It's hard to believe that it's been four years since Jeremiah David came into our lives.  He is precious, cuddly, and compassionate, and we sure do love him!

I pray these four things for you little Jer Bear!

#1.  I pray that you would find satisfaction and joy in Jesus and not look to the things of the world for comfort and peace.

#2.  I pray that you would learn and grow and continue to find delight in God's creation and the animals, reptiles, and bugs that so fascinate you!

#3.  I pray that you would learn to work hard, and to be a servant to others.

#4.  I pray that you would be healthy and strong and laugh hard and often!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Katrielle's Birth Story

 On Monday, the 25th, I attended a barn dance with my kids that someone from church was throwing for anyone that wanted to come.  It was tons of fun and I tried to "dance the baby out."  I was bummed that no contractions came that night but I did feel a heaviness in my pelvis the day after, so perhaps it did help! On Tuesday I had some contractions, but nothing too promising, so I just went about tackling items on my to-do list.  My hubby and I had a massive card-signing session once the kids were in bed since he has 7 birthdays between his family members and best friend in a 2 week span.  I got bills done and ready to mail and was feeling great about how much on my list was getting checked off.  In addition to the baby prep list on my blog I posted about a while back, I had made a couple more lists on paper for myself of last minute things to tackle to help me stay busy in the long wait!

On Wednesday, the 27th, which was our nephew David's first birthday, I was bummed there weren't many contractions but was glad that I had plans to attend my weekly Mom's Coffee Group so I could at least hang out with my friends.  I was also hoping for an even-numbered day since all of our other kids have even birthdays, and since they all have an 8 in their birthday my greatest desire was for a baby on October 18th, or 28th but I wasn't sure if it would happen or not and just wanted to not be pregnant any more no matter what day it was.  My friends and I had a nice time chatting and helping our kids do a craft and I told them that I wouldn't be surprised if I started labor that night as I felt a lot of pressure in my pelvis and was having trouble walking normally without waddling. 

Later that day I pulled out all of my scrapbooking stuff and Ali and I sat down at the school table to make baby thank-you cards.  We were having a great time, but all of a sudden I started feeling hard contractions.  Not the hard contractions that I'd had several times in the last few weeks, but really painful contractions that made me stop what I was doing and do a little "Hoo, hoo, hee, hee" puffing thing.  Ali stared at me and asked what was wrong with me.  I told her it was just a contraction and that it meant that my body was getting ready to have a baby soon.  I definitely didn't want to get my hopes up so I continued to work hard and finished over 20 cards.  But the strength of the contractions and the fact that they were coming regularly (about 15 minutes apart) made me think that there was a chance this was the real thing!  It's so hard to know when you have a couple weeks worth of contractions at the end and lots of false starts that end in loss of sleep and disappointment.  But I could tell that these were the strongest contractions I'd had yet in this pregnancy.

When I was making supper (nothing fancy at all, box mac n' cheese!) my friend Lora dropped by with lots of baby gifts.  She amazes me!  She had a baby 17 days before I did and yet she still shared a freezer meal with me, homemade soup, rolls, and cookies and coconut bars, and had made Katrielle a beautiful hooded towel with her name on it and had gotten us a few darling outfits.  She was going to be out of town and wanted to give us the gifts ahead of time, assuming baby would be coming when she was gone.  I told her "it might be tonight, I'm having some hard contractions" and she said I looked like I was in pain.  After she left we sat down to dinner and another friend, also named Laura, dropped by with pacifiers for us, something I had asked her to pick up for us when she went to a nearby town with a Walmart that day.  She refused to let me pay for them and we chatted for a while and then she left.  My hubby prepared to go to Youth Group; he is one of the main leaders and had a game night planned.  My contractions continued to come but only about 15 minutes apart, and we have had so many "false hopes" with contractions and such long labors in the last 2 pregnancies that we knew we'd have plenty of time if it was the real thing.

I bathed and put the kids to bed while Josiah was at Youth Group and was increasingly irritable with them.  Their continual demands felt overwhelming to me and I couldn't wait to sit down and start charting my contractions in silence and peace. I called my Mom and gave her a heads up that it could be the night and she was grateful for that call as she had to go to her school and get some things ready in case she would need her sub to step in for the next day.  I sat down with some coconut bars (which were soooo yummy Lora!) and some milk and watched a detective show on Hulu and began writing down contractions.  They were between 10-20 minutes with most coming 14 minutes apart.  In past experiences, my contractions do not get really close together so even though they were at long intervals I knew this could be the real thing.

Josiah returned from Youth Group at around 9 pm and I was in the bathroom at that moment.  When I had gone to go potty, I saw bright red blood and immediately started panicking.  It wasn't a huge amount, but enough to cause me concern with the placenta previa issues I had throughout the pregnancy.  I had asked my doctor and midwife about whether or not I would bleed with a low-lying placenta and they said that I shouldn't, but if I did to go into the hospital immediately.  All of the sudden, my plans of laboring all night at home and getting some last minute things done flew out the window.  Josiah came to ask me if I was still having contractions and found me very shaken up and telling him we needed to go right in.  He called my mom to come stay with the kids and we tried to call the hospital twice but couldn't get through on the extensions we called so we finally gave up and just threw our bags in the van and drove up there. 

We checked in and got put into a regular room and got hooked up to the monitors.  The scary thing was, it was a while before the doctor came in and checked on the bleeding and also the hospital monitors kept shorting out and showing no heartbeat for the baby.  The nurse changed monitors a few times and Josiah kept trying to wiggle the cord and get them to work but it was frightening for me, because of the bleeding and the fact that the nurse was concerned about our baby's heart beat at first being too fast for normal and then being too constant, without the regular fluctuation, and then she was concerned that it was dipping at the wrong time, leading us all to wonder if the cord was around the baby's neck.  I prayed constantly that God would keep our baby safe and help me through.  It was such a comfort knowing people were praying for me as I had requested prayer on facebook shortly before leaving for the hospital.

So there I lay, waiting for each contraction, trying to watch a comedy show on TV in between checks by the nurse, and not knowing if I'd be whisked off to an Emergency C-section at any moment.  It was horribly discouraging when the nurse first checked my cervix, after 6 hours of hard contractions, and pronounced me barely at a 1 and not effaced at all.  I was wondering if the baby was ever going to come and dreading the thought of being sent home, especially with the bleeding.  And have I mentioned how much I hate cervical checks?  I've finally figured out why, as my cervix is way high up and not easy for nurses to reach.  Each one was soooo painful for me.  Getting an IV and getting an epidural hurts about 10 times LESS than a cervical check for me.  They started an IV in me, to have it ready in case of the need for a c-section, and told me I could not have any food or drink, even water, at all because of my situation.  This was hard because every commercial on TV was advertising Olive Garden or some similar restaurant and I hadn't eaten in a while. 

After a while the doctor who was working that night came in and I was relieved to discover that it is the only woman OB/GYN in town.  You don't get to choose who delivers in our town as there are only 3-4 working and they take turns.  She did an ultrasound to check my placenta and though it wasn't easy with the baby's face pushing against the placenta, she determined it was not detaching and was okay.  She didn't know what was causing the bleeding.  She checked me then and it had been a few hours since I was pronounced a 1.  I was now at a 3 and starting to efface.  So, they were confident I was in "real" labor, however slow, and moved me to a delivery room.  I still couldn't have any liquids or foods, and the contractions were getting very painful.  I know you would think that they wouldn't be really painful because they were spaced far apart and my progress wasn't great but having been through two natural childbirths previously, these were 9 on a pain scale of 1-10.  Later, after the birth, it was determined that the bleeding was caused by my cervix tearing so that explains the horrible contractions.  They were ripping my cervix open.  I eventually got myself out of bed and into the rocking chair so I could rock through the contractions.  I begged my nurse for the epidural but she wanted me to be at a 4 or 5 so it wouldn't slow the labor down more.  I couldn't wait to get the epidural.  I think it was about 5 hours total of waiting (yes, my super-strength contractions were still only dilating my stubborn cervix about 1 cm every 5 hours!  I was at the point of praying my "Help-me-God-please" prayer that in previous labors I have repeated over and over during transition.

Finally, at 6 in the morning, 15 hours into my labor, my nurse called the anesthesiologist in.  What a relief it was to see her come in!  I told her that women who fear the needle in their spine have no idea what they are missing!  It truly only feels like a pin prick or a bee sting and much, much better than anything else you have to go through in childbirth.  It gradually numbed me and so I was mostly numb by 7am.  I called my mom right before the epidural and told her to come in at 8am.  She had time to get the kids up, get them dressed and fed, and take them to the homes they were supposed to go to.  My Aunt Joanie, mom's older sister, was coming from a nearby town to watch Justus.  Since all 3 together can be an overwhelming job, I split up where they would go.  Ali went to a fellow homeschooling family's house where their two youngest girls are her good friends.  Jeremiah went to the home of his "hero" a 8 year old boy from church whom he adores and mimics, who is also homeschooled.

Mom got to the hospital around 8:30am and thankfully didn't have to see me in any pain.  We chatted as Josiah watched the contraction papers like crazy, telling me when I was having a doozy and which ones were off the charts and I couldn't feel anything thankfully.  The nurse checked me and I was at about a 6.  She then asked me if I was opposed to doing something to get labor going a bit faster.  I wanted to say, "Are you kidding?  I feel like I'm in labor eternally!  Why didn't someone ask me last night before I lost a full night of sleep?"  I strongly encouraged her to do what it took.  She put a small amount of pitocin in my IV and immediately the contractions picked up and were harder, longer, and closer together.  They were coming at about 5-8 minutes apart.  She checked me an hour later and I had gained a centimeter and a half, which was awesome, considering I had been progressing at 1 centimeter per 5 hours before.  She put another round of pitocin on my drip after that bag wore out and at 11 am I was at 8cm.  It was strange because even though my nerves couldn't feel the intense pain of hardcore contractions, my body must have known I was going through a marathon.  I was sooooo tired, and not just from lack of sleep.  When the long contractions would hit, just a couple of minutes apart at that point, I would lay my head back and feel like I couldn't talk.  My pain nerves were dulled but my body was really getting a work-out without me knowing it!  And of course a couple of days later I would feel what my back had been through when the rolled-over-by-a-truck feeling hit.

Some gals deliver while still looking like they just walked out of a salon.  That's not me!  If I look like I've been through barbaric torture it's because I feel like I've been through barbaric torture!

 So exhausted after no sleep for 35 hours and my body was "running a marathon."

My mom ran to get some food from McDonald's at 11:30am for her and Josiah.  We told her to hurry back as the nurse was expecting me to hit 10 cm at noon.  Josiah said, "I bet our baby's birth time will start with a 12!"  I hoped so, but at that point, I didn't know if labor would ever end so I wasn't about to get my hopes up.  I pictured myself having to push for 3 hours or something.

Mom got back at noon and Josiah wolfed down his meal.  I sarcastically remarked that my birth coaches sure were nice to eat in front of me when I was denied food for a day. 
The nurse checked me and declared me at a 10.  I knew the end was in sight and told my mom I could finally see a "light at the end of the tunnel.".  I got really emotional thinking it would all be over soon and wondering how long it would take.  They went to get the doctor and set up the delivery utensils and get me ready.  They said a woman having her 3rd or 4th kid usually doesn't have to push much so they wanted everything ready.  I pushed 20 minutes with Ali, 0 minutes with Jer (who flew out and surprised everyone and barely got caught--I don't recommend this, it's brutal!), and about 30-40 minutes with Justus (I was sooooo numb from a massive dose in my epidural that I really couldn't do anything and my mom and Josiah pushed my legs for me to get him out.)  When everything was set up, they put my legs in high stirrups in what I think would be the most uncomfortable position imaginable if I could have felt anything.  My legs were way above my head and spread as far apart as possible.  I was so thankful I was numb!  The nurse looked down and said I was having a contraction so I could push.  Pushing with an epidural is a joke.  Both times I have done it I have merely "acted" out a push by crunching my chest up towards my legs.  When your legs are totally numb and you feel like you weigh 500 pounds, this is the best you can do.  But in both cases, my acting must have worked!  I pushed and they said, "Here's the head!"  Then a minute later they said to push and said, "Here comes the body!"  I looked down to see a grayish purple little body covered in vernix being placed in my arms.  It was miraculous, surreal, and amazing!  (Please don't hate me my friends who have to push for 3 hours!)

Weeping with relief that my 21 hour labor is over and my baby is in my arms!
Examining new life
Grammy, my mom, loved being able to watch Katrielle's birth
Daddy Josiah was immediately smitten and could scarcely put her down for the next few days!
She was worth it all!  There is no moment like meeting your child for the first time!

As I held Katrielle, the doctor worked on getting the placenta out.  This has always been hard for me as my placentas tend to be stubborn and stick.  She massaged my belly very hard for about 30 minutes in a circular motion and though I was numb, I could feel pressure that was slightly uncomfortable.  Josiah later told me that he was so thankful I had the epidural and that it hadn't been turned off yet at that point because he said it was absolutely sick to see the doctor pulling handfuls of blood clots out of my uterus and scraping it out with her hands as she pummeled my stomach.  I had no idea it was going on and never saw a bunch of blood or my placenta or anything.  I did have a midwife doing something similar with one of my natural births and it was pure torture and I kicked her in a defense reflex because I couldn't stand it. 
I had no tears or need for stitches, which was wonderful, and they soon got me cleaned up and said I could eat!  They brought me lunch and my mom made all kinds of phone calls and soon after we got to introduce her to Grandpa, siblings, my brother Grant, and Aunt Joanie.  My epidural didn't have the massive dose it had last time with Justus so I was able to walk to the bathroom with a nurse and go potty and take a shower around 5pm and then after eating supper (hubby got a mushroom pizza from Dominos to supplement the hospital food) I moved to a recovery room and we settled in to adore and cuddle our baby through the night, and attempt to sleep after being awake for a day and a half.

When you are pregnant, time seems to move in slow motion and you feel as though the big day will never come.  After baby shows up, you fall in love and time flies so fast that you can scarcely remember what day it is.  It is so wonderful to be on the other side!  I feel so great!  Of course I'm exhausted and not getting much sleep and have had back soreness from contractions, soreness and pain from nursing, and lots of cramping/afterpains but life is good and I love my new daughter!  Praise the Lord for His sustenance and strength throughout this pregnancy and delivery!  I am amazed that I have the second little girl I've always longed for and that I had a regular birth instead of a C-section as we had thought I would have for so long! 

Baby is Here!

The newest member of our family:

Katrielle Hope
"God is my crown and my hope"

Pronounced KAY-TREE-EL

Born October 28th, 2010


7# 7oz.

20 inches long

Birth story and more pics to come.....
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