11 January, 2018

40 Bags in 40 Days

Every spring, my Catholic friend does "40 bags in 40 days" for Lent. I LOVE that idea. I decided last week to do it now, but instead of 40 days straight, I'm going to do it during the school week - which gives me 8 "weeks" at the end of which, I will be full-term and ready to have a baby! With a newly purged house!

She does big old hefty trash bags, I am only doing grocery bags. And that's working because I don't buy a lot of stuff (though we do often inherit things from work and church friends - and that tends to be what piles up), and I do purge pretty often. I don't know that I could actually fill 40 real trash bags. But the Wegman's bags I'm using are working just fine. Small, manageable, deliberate.

On Monday I went though our bookshelves and filled a bag with books that I don't want Gage to read - books that I brought into our family from high school and college that aren't really uplifting or life-changing. On Tuesday I went through the linen closet and got rid of old picture frames that I've never used and will never use. On Wednesday I quickly filled a bag while the kids weren't looking ;) with toys they never play with - PLUS I found a tote of "to donate" stuff in the garage that I brought with me as a bonus, and today I grabbed a few things from Gage's closet shelf that are so far in the back that I doubt he has any recollection of ever owning them. Gage - when you read this - they were things we were given by someone whose kids had grown up, things that you never ever play with! Promise!

I'm not sure what I'll tackle tomorrow or next week, but I am loving this! It's really nice that I live just minutes away from a Rescue Mission drop-off site. I like donating to them because they are very grassroots-style in this area and are always so nice about donations.

I took Merit to her pediatrician this morning to work some things out with her blood sugar. Yesterday at play group she became totally lethargic to the point that I wondered if she had been poisoned or had taken a  sleeping pill or something. But when I gave her a smoothie in the car and she drank it like she was ravenous and then got freezing cold, I realized it was most like a drop in her blood sugar. We sped over to urgent care to try to get a quick finger prick to confirm but of course since she'd had a smoothie they said a blood sugar test wouldn't indicate anything. And instead let us wait for three hours before finally saying, "if she goes unconscious, call 911." Thanks.

Fortunately, I believe in intuition. Especially mother's intuition. Our pediatrician was concerned that she'd actually had a seizure OR was a possible diabetic. I guess when kids have seizures sometimes they just go limp, which is pretty much what happened. But I have suffered from hypoglycemia my whole life AND low blood pressure which is not a fun combination, and I see the signs in Merit.

Also fortunately, Dr. Hafiz agreed with me after I started explaining that her blood sugar was 131 last night after eating and 91 this morning when she woke up - both within normal limits. I think she started taking me seriously when she realized I knew what I was talking about. And when I pointed out that SUGAR was what made Merit feel better - which wouldn't be the case if it was a seizure.

So for now, we are going to keep pricking her little fingers and keeping juice boxes in my purse. Oh, I  guess I'll be lucky if she's the only kid to get my blood. But I wish I could spare her this annoying (though very manageable) condition.

09 January, 2018

This Pregnancy


Making Room

I'm reading HypnoBirthing again --- well, truthfully I only read the first half with my pregnancies because I don't feel like the second half is very relevant or medically correct. But anyway, I love the relaxation techniques and I love reading about how incredible our bodies are. I didn't pay attention to this part at all when I was pregnant with Merit, but in one section you are asked if you are physically prepared for the baby - have you made a place for that baby in your home?

This time around I am trying to find a happy medium between planning and preparing and NOT killing myself to get a ton of stuff done OR getting fixated on having the baby. The problem with me is that I don't want to get too excited for several reasons, but one is that I have gone over my due date with my last three kids. Take it from me - it is really hormonally hard to be totally ready for the baby and then just wait. And wait. And wait. Soooo with Merit I barely prepared. Yeah, I washed the baby clothes and had diapers and wipes but we actually bought her bassinet (I'd never used one before) the day after we came home from the hospital. Ha.

So long story short, I am trying to be better this time. I want to prepare our home for the baby. I have grand plans. Want to hear them?

We've done a ton of home improvement stuff lately. I will try to post about it soon. I am kinda burned out but I want to:

Paint Merit's room
Set up the other twin bed (and order a twin mattress)
Re-do the closet
Move Kjel into Merit's room and have them magically sleep like little hibernating bear cubs together
And meanwhile...

Find and refurbish a dresser/changing table for Kjel's room which will be the nursery
Find cute bedding for the other white twin bed
Create a little haven in the nursery for me and the new baby for the first month or so before I move back to my bedroom

Why, you ask, will I move in with the baby?

I will tell you.

I have horrible, horrible postpartum anxiety. I am considering zoloft this time around but would REALLY like to see if preparing and making lots of focused plans will help me not be anxious. One of my biggest anxieties after having a baby is that the baby will wake Steven up (who desperately wants to help me and the baby) but I don't want him to wake up because I have so much stress that if both parents are exhausted, our other FOUR children will suffer. Which is true. So I want Steven to turn "off" at night and "on" in the day, and I want me to be "on" at night and semi-"off" during the day. See?

I'm going to try to completely alleviate that particular bit of anxiety by moving into the baby's room for the first few weeks. Do you think this is a dumb plan? Am I being weird?

I really think it might help!

If I know my kids are being taken care of by a well-rested Daddy, I will be able to focus on bonding with the baby. And on sleeping when she sleeps - which I'm not good at, at all.

BUT I've never been more tired in my life. So maybe my body will be more powerful than the anxiety-ridden chemicals in my brain and force me to sleep. Let's hope.

Feeling Excited

I will tell you the truth - I was not very excited when I realized I was pregnant this summer. I know that sentence will probably make you shake your head and fist at me if you are experiencing infertility and I'm sorry. I just felt SO inadequate - too many details and too personal - but I was scared. Then right at the end of the summer, I had a special moment. My kids were all playing happily in the play room, I was slicing something for dinner. The sun was shining into the room just right. There was a good, peaceful feeling. I felt a deep impression, "This is a wonderful home to bring another child into - you will do your best and it will be enough."

I'd like to say everything changed after that... but it didn't. Especially with all the hard physical stuff that has come with this pregnancy.

HOWEVER, in the last several weeks I have begun to feel giddy anticipation for this baby. I've started to sort out the worries and stresses in my mind - some are anxiety and need to be dealt with as such. Some are completely valid and more logistical. Some have to do with my health. Some with my mothering and our family not falling completely apart. Some have to do with my home staying safe and clean and organized. That could probably fall under the "anxiety" or OCD side of things...

Anyway, putting these worries into their own little mental cubbies and choosing to FEEL the GOOD FEELINGS is changing things for me.

Imagining this baby, remembering how it feels to work with muscles I didn't know I had to release the baby from my body, into the light, into warm, capable arms of doctors I love, then into my arms... I love that.

Bringing the baby home, all wrapped up in her carseat, seeing my beautiful tulips blooming and my kids watching us from the window with homemade signs and papers taped up all over my room... I love that.

Kissing the back of the baby's neck; her little curved spine; a rosy little face peeking out from swaddled blankets; a sweet cry in the night that is easily managed by a quick diaper change and feeding. I love those moments.

YES, I am scared. But I can be scared and overwhelmingly excited at the same time. I think. Yes, I can.

Other People Feeling Excited

Most people don't jump out of their seats for joy or send you flowers when they find out you're expecting your fifth baby. That is life. Some people say things like, "You know how that happens, don't you?" And you cry for a little while.

Last night I finally confessed to Steven that my heart has been aching because I haven't felt as much support or excitement from others for this pregnancy. And I get it. First pregnancy > Fifth pregnancy in life. But in MY life, this pregnancy is monumental. This baby is a person - not a number. This baby matters so much to me and my kids. Gage says to me almost every day, "Mom, when I think about this baby, my heart fills up with so much love."

Will is obsessed with the baby and daily pats my belly and talks to her. Sometimes yells at her, "BABY, CAN YOU HEAR ME?! What did she say, Mom?" Ha.

And yet... I want people to care. And to ask me things. It meant a lot to my when Cindy came up to me at church and said, "What do you need for this sweet baby? Anything?" And when my sister-in-law Bree sent us an adorable little blanket and matching hat for the baby at Christmas. And when my mom sent us a cute little headband all wrapped up to put under the tree. And when some friends at church asked me if I'd decided on any names yet and offered some really sweet ideas.

I don't want a parade, but I don't want this little baby to be forgotten or written off as another one of a large brood.

Part of it is that I was so sick with migraines for so long that the urgency of that issue kind of trumped everything else. "How are your migraines?" kind of replaced what I think would have been, "How's that little girl doing? Kicking yet?"

Oh, do I sound bratty? I hope not. But it's good to type out these little heartaches. As Jo March would say, "Weep a little weep" and I'll be fine.

The Baby Herself

I've given up on trying to label babies while they're in the womb. Like... this baby is calm. Or "this baby is going to be super active because she moves a lot". I am almost always wrong.

But this little one is funny - she does kick quite a bit, and has hiccups almost every day. I am going to bet that she comes out with lots of hair because heartburn. She wakes me up every now and then with some well-placed kicks under my ribs.

I've never eaten more apples and peanut butter in my entire life.

She is a well-nourished little baby. I have been SO diligent about taking my vitamins this pregnancy. High-five me next time you see me.

When I think about her, I see pink cheeks and dark hair and long fingers and toes. I hope for a fat baby (they are the happiest in my experience), but I also love long, lean babies.

Oh, names. I would like to give her the middle name "Rosemary" after one of my dearest friends Rose Marie. I vacillate between two or three first names and think I will lay it to rest for a bit as I've been using baby names to get myself out of bed in the morning. Ha. I start thinking about them because I know my heart will start pounding and I'll have to get up or go crazy. Perhaps zoloft will make naming this baby easier ;).

04 January, 2018

The Rest of the December Little Things



Oops, that's actually decorating the tree in November :). ^


Just chatting in the Pack n Play :) 

REAL gingerbread men! Soooo delicious. 

Will and Merit playing doctor... don't worry, that's just water in the medicine dropper. 


Nerf gun wars every single night until Merit chewed the tips off of most of the bullets.. ha. Gotta get some more of those! 


Steve's team volunteered at the Samaritan Center in Syracuse and had a wonderful time.


One day it worked out perfectly for the WHOLE family to go to lunch at Kjel's school. Steven and Gage were just pulling up from a dentist appointment, and the other two and I were around the corner grocery shopping, so we all dropped in and surprised Kjel. Wild but so fun. Halfway through lunch, Kjel turned to her very cute, very quiet friend William and said, "William, do you want to introduce yourself to my family?" Ha! Sweet! 

Aside from the dang migraine I started getting right during the middle of the church Christmas party (sad), it was truly a magical party! The nativity was simple and wonderful (Gage, to his chagrin, was a shepherd again. But I have it on good authority that he may be promoted to Wise Man next year). Kjel was supposed to advance to "Angel" but decided to be a sheep again :).

Steve got some decal work done on his work windows. Looks so good!! 


Making cookies for neighbors! 


Steve's office party is always a blast... I loved the outfits this year! 

And his team members gave us this beautiful wreath! So beautiful and so generous. Love them!! 

Our "best ever" Christmas Eve nativity - directed by Gage. He really is a fantastic little dude. 

Playing in the kitchen... but the real reason for this picture is that we got some new appliances! See that shiny new dishwasher in the corner?! 

Nothing like the warm, humid bird house at the zoo on a freezing cold day! 

Nothing like not having to cook dinner, either ;). 

Lots of December snuggles. 

For my birthday, my sweet friends drove to our house in a huge snow storm (snow day for the kids!) and took me out to lunch and then to Wegman's to pick out a treat. I have some really incredible friends! 
Steven and I went to the Inn Between restaurant in Manlius to give it another go, since the only other time we went I was so sick with this pregnancy that I didn't really soak in the old-fashioned ambiance or delicious food! It was SOOOO yummy, SOOO filling and SO Christmassy! 

Love my old-fashioned girl and her crafts. She made a popcorn string for our tree :).

Debating if this pic is appropriate :) but I just love how much Christmas cheer is in this photo and in Will's sleepy little nap time face! 

Lots of fires and lots of hand-warming in front of them! 

Gage did great at his Christmas piano recital! He played Good King Wenceslas and Joy to the World. 

Will took this picture of me early one morning to send to my mom who wanted a belly update. Can you believe that there is a 14 inch, 2 pound baby kicking and blinking and growing little fingernails in there?! 

As always, loved our Christmas Pie party. Also as usual lamented that we couldn't fit more friends in our house! Someday! 



For our Christmas Dinner dessert we made... MINTS pie. Gage has been very interested in mince pie for years... until he found out what is actually in a mince pie. He was SO sad. He said, "I thought it was MINTS! Like, the delicious kind!" Ha. So we made our own recipe. Graham cracker pie crust (one sleeve of graham crackers crushed, 1/4 C melted butter, 1/4 C brown sugar pulsed till smooth then smushed into a pie tin), 1/2 of a container of mint ice cream, and a large bowl of freshly whipped cream with about 1 C melted chocolate chips (cooled) mixed in. Mix the ice cream and the cream mixture together, put in the pie tin, and freeze for about an hour. Drizzle melted chocolate with about 1/4 tsp peppermint extract on top right before serving! SOOO good! 

And finally, this is the ONLY picture I took on New Year's Eve! What a CRAZY day. Our furnace  broke in the middle of the night before and we woke up to a 47 degree house. Thank HEAVENS for our fireplace! We crowded into the play room, Steve built a roaring fire, and we took turns running upstairs to get ready and get the kids' things so we could make it to church on time.

Miraculously, the HVAC guy was able to come that evening and even more miraculously had the part to fix the furnace! By 7 our house was warm again. We had a quick dinner and then watched the 2016 ball drop :). The kids dressed up and marched around the house banging on pots and pans, then we all sang Auld Lang Syne. And then we said "Happy New Year", put the kiddos to bed (except Gage) and played Clue until we couldn't keep our eyes open! We have had many years of bustling, fun New Year's Eve parties and they are all wonderful, but this one was my favorite. It is probably because I'm pregnant, but being home in a HEATED house, in my PJs with all our stocking treats and a big, roaring fire was absolutely perfect. And a wonderful, blessed, happy way to end 2017.

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