Thursday, December 31, 2009


Homemade Christmas Gifts

Money was a bit tight this year for our family, as I'm sure it was for many other families out there. With me just coming off maternity leave and Chris having his hours cut at work, I decided to make a few of our Christmas gifts. Here are some pictures of my efforts:

These elf ornaments were and idea from and they were very easy and fun to do. I made one set for my mom and one for my mother in law. It took a long time to stitch together the hats, mittens and shoes but I found it to be very soothing.

I made sure Sammy's elf had an orange hat since he has orange hair and all the boys had blue eyes except for Luke, who has brown eyes.

These are the ribbon barrettes I made for my nieces to accompany their copies of my favorite movie, "Xanadu." I always dreamed I would pass on my love for that movie to my own daughter, but I guess passing it on to my nieces is the next best thing. I was really impressed I was able to make these just from the memory of how the ones I had 25+ years ago looked. Does anyone else remember these?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Past

I am so fortunate to have married a man who LOVES Christmas. He was raised by a mother who loves Christmas and it was passed down to him. My absolute best Christmas EVER was the first year we were married because he showed me what a wonderful holiday it could be. This is what my Christmases were like growing up:

There were four of us kids and very close in age (4 1/2 years between my older brother and younger brother, with my sister and I wedged in between.) On Christmas morning my older brother (Sorry, Steve, you know I love you now but you really were horrible to do this) would wake up somewhere between 1am and 3am and go downstairs to the living room. Our gifts were NEVER wrapped - NONE of them. There were just four piles of stuff, one in each corner of the room. I do remember there being a piece of paper with a name propped up in front of each pile one year, but I think most of the time we just had to figure out which pile was for who.

So Steve would go downstairs and rifle through each pile to see what all of us got and then after he got tired of being alone, he would come up to our beds and wake us up by telling us exactly what we got. How's that for a nice way to wake up on Christmas morning/night? I remember really wanting to stay in bed because it was always before 4am that he woke me up, but I felt I would have to go downstairs to at least protect my stuff from him. (This stems from him doing the same thing with our Easter baskets and actually losing a part to one of my Easter toys one year.) I think my parents finally got up around 7am and by then all the gifts had been gone through. I'm sure this ritual was no fun for them either, but as a parent now I wonder why they didn't take control of it by either wrapping the gifts or forbidding him to go downstairs until a decent hour of the morning when we could all go down together. At any rate, this is why I never really enjoyed Christmas all that much.

My dad enjoyed it even less, especially because although my mom obviously saved money on wrapping paper, she overspent on toys, toys and more toys. So when I was probably around 11 years old, my dad "cancelled" Christmas and we were only allowed 2-3 items after that. I'm not sure I missed getting all the stuff because I was just thankful to actually get some SLEEP!

Back with a more cheery post on "Christmas Present" in my home with 4 little boys (some pics, too!)....

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Happy Birthday, Sir William!

I'm so unbelievably busy with working full time now and getting ready for our first Christmas with FOUR kids, so not much time to blog these days. But here are a few pictures from William's 2nd birthday yesterday. We had such a great time at Chuck E Cheese and just spending time as a family. I think age 2 is probably the best birthday for parents because the child has no expectations and is just thrilled with everything.
William's absolute favorite thing: "The Neigh"He went night-night with the brand new neigh his Nana and Pa got him. I thought it was a little Godfather-esque but he loved it. Goodnight to the sweetest 2 year old I know!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tree by Griswold

We got our tree on Sunday. Last year was the first year either Chris or I had ever cut down our own tree and we absolutely LOVED it! So that's definitely going to be a tradition for our family. The boys, of course, also think it's great. Last year we got about an 8 foot tree and since it had a bend in the trunk, Chris ended up having to cut about 2 feet off it before putting it in the stand. It looked really small with our high ceilings, so this year we decided to go a bit bigger...

I don't know why we went with the full 12 footer, but it seemed like a good idea when he was cutting it down. Once he started dragging it back to the car, however, we started second-guessing our choice. The guys at the tree farm estimated it weighed between 300-400 lbs. It took three people to get it on the top of the car.
When we got it home, we realized that although we have really high ceilings at their peak, the place we wanted to put the tree near the wall was only 9 1/2 feet high so we had to cut it down. Still, the tree has the girth of a 12 footer so it's pretty obnoxious.

The good news is that we finally have a tree that can very comfortably accomodate all our ornaments. Chris has many from his formative years, as he got one or two every Christmas growing up. Here's his ornament from 1978 when he was six:
It was really cool to show it to Owen and tell him that this is the ornament Daddy got when he was exactly his age. We have carried that tradition on to our boys so they get a special ornament to remind them of something that happened that year. Eventually they will take their ornaments with them when they move out and have families of their own. This is the one we got for Owen last Christmas to remind him of his first trip to Disneyworld:
We also try to get a "family" ornament that will stay with Chris and I forever. We bought one when we were in Disney last year, we had a "new home" ornament in 2002 for our first house and again in 2006 when we moved here. But my favorites are the pregnant snowman ornament my mother in law got me in 2002 when I was pregnant with Owen and the ones from the year we got married:
This bride and groom were given to us at our wedding shower by my mother in law. She even made a special padded box for them to be stored in.
Look how happy we looked on our wedding day!
I also have a ton of Santa ornaments because one day I would like an artificial tree in our foyer that is just all different Santa ornaments with our Santa tree topper. Then we will have the real tree with the hodgepodge of ornaments. I love how our tree tells the story of our life together. I look forward to adding many more ornaments to it over the years.

What we woke up to....

It was a glorious "snow day" here in southeast Wisconsin! I called off work because I've learned not to try to brave these country roads when it's really bad like this. At the very least, I would have certainly gotten stuck somewhere or worse, I would wreck another car like I did last year. Neither option sounded as good to me as staying home and playing outside in the snow with the boys.

Chris got all fancy and spray painted the snowman to look like a hobo.

Even Luke went out in the sled, but he didn't last very long. Who doesn't love an infant in camoflauge?

Sipping hot chocolate by the Christmas tree afterwards, I thought of all my blessings and smiled.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Mother's Take on Christmas

When I became a mother 6 1/2 years ago, I was unprepared for the way it would change my life forever. It came with a level of responsibility I had never known and I was forced to reevaluate my priorities at that very moment my doctor said "He's here."

But the most important way motherhood has changed my life is the way it has opened my heart. I read somewhere that having a child is like having your heart walking around on the outside of you and that's so true. Suddenly I felt a kinship with all other mothers in the world throughout time. I can feel the pride of a mother whose child wins a gold medal at the Olympics, the shame of a mother whose child commits a horrendous crime, and the indescribable pain of mothers who have lost a child to sickness or war. I routinely cry when I watch the news. I try not to watch the news.

This is the second Christmas I've had a brand new baby. This year I have Luke who will be 3 months old at Christmas and William was born on December 14, 2007. That year I had thoughts and feelings about Christmas I had never had before. I looked down at my sleeping infant and felt that same connection between myself and Jesus' mother, Mary. And I saw baby Jesus in little William's face.

Don't we all see God in our babies? They are fresh from heaven, the sweetest, most innocent beings on this earth, more precious than anything we could ever imagine. And this is what Jesus was, only more so because he was God.

He had sweet little dimpled hands like my Luke does. He didn't have teeth or hair. He was completely dependant on his earthly parents to carry him, feed him, diaper him. I realize now how amazing it was that he humbled himself like that. How difficult would it be for me to be that dependant on someone?

When did Jesus learn to crawl? To walk? Talk? What was he like as a child? Was he like my William? Did he giggle uncontrollably when tickled? Did he sing silly songs? Was he a perfect child or did he sometimes throw tantrums or hit other children? Did Mary kiss his soft skin and cry at the thought of him growing up? Did his smile light up her world?
As much as I love my four beautiful boys, how much more could Mary have loved her son, knowing that He was sent by God to save all of humanity? At Christmastime, especially, these are the things I think about.
Merry Christmas to all the mothers out there! We truly are blessed beyond words, aren't we?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

So much to be thankful for....

I have way too many friends who struggle with being in their mid 30's and not being able to have children. For some there are fertility issues and for others it's just because they are not in a relationship with someone who wants children. I am so very thankful for my FIVE boys, especially the one who gave me the other four. Thank you, Chris! You have made my life complete. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

"The Pow"

William loves his "pow." That's what he calls the powder we use to freshen up his backside during diaper changes - especially diaper changes involving #2! He BEGS for the "pow" and if we don't use it, he seems very sad as he says "No pow, sorry. No pow."

I snapped this picture of him yesterday when I went in to get him up from his nap. As you can see, he searched through his top drawer for his beloved "pow" to cuddle with. I'm just thankful he hasn't figured out how to open it....yet....

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Michigan Trip - Part 1

First, a picture of the cutest little boy in the whole world:

At long last, here are some of the pictures from our trip to Michigan last week. It's been hectic trying to get back in the swing of things with the 4 kids and Chris has been working a lot of hours, so that's my excuse.
Anyway, we started out last Saturday around 5pm and the trip itself went really smooth. All 4 boys were very good travelers and loved the snacks we packed. William was SO excited to have his two friends, Coco (the koala) and Foof Foof (the dog) with him in the car. He talked to them non-stop for about the first hour of the trip.
Although the car ride went well, the rest of the night was awful! We got in at around 1am and the kids were wide awake, especially William. It was very difficult getting him back to sleep so Sunday was a rough day. Chris and I were like zombies! Thankfully, we didn't have much to do that day, as my mom made us dinner. While there, I discovered that as long as my family was around I had at least two GREAT babysitters. Here's my sister with Luke. This is pretty much how she spent the whole week:

My other babysitter is my sweet niece, Megan. She will be 5 in December and is OBSESSED with babies. All she wanted to do was help me with Baby Luke. Here's a picture of her watching intently as my sister changed him:
My brother and his wife were kind enough to lend her to us when we went to the Toledo Zoo last Tuesday. What a fantastic day we had! I would guess there were less than 100 people in the zoo at any given time. That day was reasonably mild and overcast and we had the place practically to ourselves. In addition to my family, my sister and her husband came with their two daughters and my mom, of course. Here's a picture of all the kids:

I asked Megan if she would be my little girl for the day because I don't have any little girls. She took this role VERY seriously and held my hand the entire day. Before we left Michigan, I begged my brother to let me borrow her but he was unwilling. I guess next time I'll have to offer cold hard cash or something. She's such a doll! I might also be willing to offer cash to borrow my sister's oldest daughter, Elizabeth, who's almost 16 and was a HUGE help with the boys!

It's bath night tonight, so I'll have to split the recap of our trip into two posts. Back with pictures from Halloween a bit later! Hope you're all having a great weekend and enjoying the kind of Indian Summer weather we're having up here in Wisconsin. It's so beautiful!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

7 Fitness Tips for Stay At Home Moms

We got back from our trip to Michigan on Sunday evening and I realized I have just TWO WEEKS until I have to squeeze back into my work clothes. YIKES! Thankfully, I didn't do too much damage to myself during the vacation (despite MUCH pressure from my mom to EAT, EAT, EAT!) but I still have 10 lbs to lose and a very limited amount of time to do it.

So while I am enjoying my brief stint as a stay at home mom, there are a few things I've come up with to help other moms lose weight and be more active:

1. Wear your running shoes. We don't normally wear shoes in our house, but I've been making an exception for myself lately. I find that if I'm wearing my running shoes I'm more likely to run...well, not run exactly but at least keep moving! Also, if I have shoes on I don't put them up on the couch or bed so why not stand up or at least sit without reclining? Running shoes also tie, so are harder to slip off and on so I just keep them on all day.

2. RUN! Again, I'm not being literal here but I have been running around like crazy. There is always SOMETHING to be done around here, especially picking up after the kids. Just going back and forth from the living room to their bedrooms to put things away is an all day event! Then once I get into their bedrooms, there is always something to pick up, hang, put in a drawer, throw in the toybox, etc.

3. Don't eat what the kids eat. I am dieting so that makes me naturally more focused on food. I think about it all the time and end up planning my own meal LONG before it's actually time to eat. I can then really think about what I want and what is going to be good for me, rather than just scarfing down whatever I've made the kids out of convenience. Besides, they eat things like PB&J, grilled cheese, frozen pizza, mac and cheese: kid food. These things are not going to really satisfy me OR make me feel good about myself. So it's worth it to spend a few extra minutes and fix myself something different, even if it means I have to hold off until after they are down for their naps. Come to think of it, the meal experience is actually much more soothing when they are napping! BONUS!

4. Share. This one was difficult for me until I changed my mindset. It's very annoying to finally sit down with a snack and have a 2 year old come up to you saying, "A bite? A bite?" It's especially upsetting when you're REALLY hungry and know this is all you're going to allow yourself to eat until dinner which is 3 hours away! But I have discovered the joy of sharing because for every bite I share, that's less calories for me. I figure for every 100 calorie yogurt, I share a good 20 calories of that with William. Every little bit helps! And I'm, of course, also teaching him to share as well.

5. Weigh yourself every day. I've heard this doesn't work for some people, but it sure works for me! That number stays with me ALL DAY and I think about it when I consider mindless munching. It also motivates me at night when I'm so tempted to pig out in front of the TV. If I know I have just 10 hours before I have to step on that scale, I'm much less likely to grab anything that's going to ruin my morning!

6. Walk whenever you can. I'm not at the point where I'm back to running yet (with the cold weather setting in, I'm going to wait until spring) but I do walk every chance I get. That means I park farther away from stores and I almost always walk to the bus stop to pick up my oldest in the afternoons. I would like to walk in the AM, too, but it's been too cold to put the baby in the stroller. Any walking you can fit in is great - think about opportunities you have to walk every day!

7. Measure yourself. Eeegads, this was SCARY! I have never really known my measurements, but have been watching that show "Bulging Brides" on FLN and they always measure the brides around the bust, waist and hips at the beginning and end of each episode. I decided I should take my own measurements the other day and what an eye opener that was! I know I definitely need to lose SEVERAL inches in all three categories and knowing my starting point (and writing it down so I don't forget!) is very motivating for me. I plan on taking my measurements every week to track my progress.

I think that's it. Once I go back to work and get that schedule under control, I will probably post tips for working moms, too. Although I only have 10 lbs to lose to get back into my work clothes, I would like to (and WILL!) lose another 25 after that and will continue to update everyone on my progress.

Pictures from our trip in the next couple of days....we sure had fun!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A couple of pics before we go...

We are all so excited to leave for Michigan this afternoon once Chris gets off work. It's about a 7 hour drive and we lose an hour so won't get in until probably after midnight, but we just couldn't bear to wait until tomorrow morning to get on the road. It's been a year since we've been there and it's going to be so great to see everyone and introduce Luke to his extended family.
It's so hard to believe he's over a month old already. It seems like just yesterday I was pregnant and complaining of my aching back, but at the same time I also can't remember life without him. He is such a wonderful and sweet baby, but for some reason I keep getting pictures of him looking like a total grump-o-saurus:

Maybe he is just having deep thoughts. Yeah, that must be it.

I will post pictures of the kids with all their cousins when I get back. Have a great week and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fall Pictures

It's hard to believe William will be 2 in just a couple of months. He just got his first "big boy" haircut a few days ago. I think he looks like a freshly shorn lamb.

We have this great farm stand near us that has a corn maze. It was my first time ever in one. The boys LOVED it!

Sammy will be 5 in February. I still miss my 2 year old Sammy every day.

What a face on this little guy!

The farm stand also has these hay bales all set up for the kids to climb on. We had a great time playing there yesterday, on what looks to be the last really nice fall day. It was the first day in October to get above 60 degrees - BRRR! Looks like it's going to be a long, cold winter in WI!

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

A big "THANK YOU" to my friend, Kathryn, who just sent me a picture from when she visited me 6 days after Luke was born. There I was with my new baby, smiling and not realizing how HUGE I'd gotten! When the tummy was there, I hardly noticed the hips and thighs but now that is ALL I could see in the picture. That picture is now posted on my refrigerator and I've been eating really well the last couple of days.

I also got Jillian Michaels' "The Shred" at the store on Sunday and am REALLY sore now, just two days into it. I love that it's a 20 minute workout because it seems that fits best into my schedule. I can tell you, though, there is ONE segment of the population that thinks 20 minutes is a long time: nursing babies. The first night I had to stop twice to tend to Luke. Oh well - it was my first workout in months so I probably needed to ease into it.

I have 17 lbs to lose (YIKES!) to get back to where I was at this time last year, before I became pregnant. I would love to lose another 20 on top of that, but that first 17 is necessary just to fit back into my work clothes. I have only 3 1/2 weeks before I go back to work, so wish me luck!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Upcoming Trip

We are all starting to feel much better around here and I'm so glad, esp as we are looking forward to our trip to Michigan next week. We will leave either next Saturday or Sunday, depending on how anxious we get (most likely Saturday night!) and will be there for just a week. Chris could probably get more time off work if he really wanted to, but we can't take Owen out of school for too long. As it is, he will miss just three days of school since there are no classes the two days prior to Halloween.

Tonight is probably going to be a "Movie Night" at our house. We had one last week when we got "Monsters vs. Aliens" from Netflix:
Owen has been requesting "The Nightmare Before Christmas" for a while now and we finally got it in the mail yesterday. We used to have it on our DVR but it somehow got erased. The boys really like the music in it and Owen and Sammy have always been big fans of anything scary and/or monster-related. I will have to pop popcorn, since that's the only thing that holds William's interest. He delights at having his OWN bowl of popcorn AND being able to eat it on the floor.

I can't believe that movie came out 16 years ago. Gosh, I feel old! I remember well going to see it in the theater with some co-workers and now here I am sharing it with my sons. Where does the time go???

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Baby "Coo"

If you ask William to say Baby Luke, he says "Baby Coo" so now we have been calling him that. William is really good with Luke and I have a feeling they will be great friends by this time next year when both the older boys are in school and they are here by themselves.

I've been bad about blogging lately because we've all been sick. I just took Sammy and Luke to the dr's, as they've been the worst, and Sammy did get some antibiotics for his fever but of course they couldn't do anything for Luke since he's only 3 weeks old. Guess it will be another sleepless night for Mom!!!

They weighed Luke and he's already 11.4 lbs. Wow! They said they look for them to gain one lb in their first month and he's gained two at only 23 days old. What a big boy I have on my hands! Here are some recent pictures of him with all his facial expressions. I especially love the one where he looks mad. Newborns are so funny - don't you wonder what the heck they're thinking?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A little TOO personal!

I was on the phone the other night with my in-laws and my father in law asked "Is it ok if I ask you a really personal question?" Now I don't know about you, but everytime someone asks me that I cringe. I said "yes" because I didn't believe that whatever he asked would be that bad and I was right; he asked "Are you guys done now?" (meaning done having kids). I told him we are done and that all the maternity clothes have already been donated to the pregnancy crisis shelter.

He's not the first to ask this and actually, there haven't been too many people who don't ask us that question. What has been bothering me lately is the number of people who take it one step further and actually ask how Chris and I are going to go about making sure we stick to 4 kids. "So which one of you is going to get fixed?" is something I was asked recently. Who ASKS that??? And if I try to just blow off the question, they still pry and tell me that "you know, natural family planning doesn't always work." Really, people, it's NO ONE'S business how we're going to handle this, is it?

Any ideas of a good comeback to this line of questioning? Am I the only one who would be offended by this???

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Birth Story - Part Two

Ok, so this brings us to Luke's birth two weeks ago today.

I was MISERABLE on Saturday, Sept 19th. My mom and I took the kids to the park since it was such a beautiful fall day. Unfortunately, I could hardly get in and out of the car so it wasn't as much fun for me as it could have been. (Looking back now, it's probably a good thing our computer was down for the last few days of my pregnancy because my posts would have most likely been nothing but a stream of obscenities!)

By that evening, I was TRULY in pain. Contractions were getting strong, but still not regular. I made some peanut butter cookies to cheer me up (which actually kinda worked!) and went to bed around 10pm. At 11pm, I woke up to what I knew was real labor and just toughed it out myself while everyone slept. My plan was to get up at 5:30am, which was the time Chris would normally get up for work anyway. (He works at the hospital where I would be delivering, in case I hadn't mentioned that.) I didn't last quite that long: at 4:45am I got into the longest, hottest shower of my life. So it was probably around 5:15am that Chris heard me in the kitchen getting some water and breathing heavily. I told him I needed to hitch a ride with him to the hospital (ha ha) and he immediately called his supervisor to let her know what was going on.

We got to the hospital at 6:30am and I was immediately struck by the differences between how they treated me compared with my first two births, that were at a hospital in MI. They put me right into the birthing room - at the other hospital, I was in an evaluation room until they checked dilation and decided to keep me. I asked them what I needed to do and they offered me a gown to change into, but only if I wanted to. Did they need to check me? They said they can if I want them to, but it's totally up to me. "This is YOUR birth" was something I heard several times. WOW! The only thing they did that they didn't clear with me first was checking the baby's heartrate with a monitor. Of course I didn't object to that.

I did end up having the nurse check me and I was at 7cm with a bulging bag of water. They had called my midwife and she got to the hospital at 7am. When she came in, she asked me if I wanted her to break the water and have the baby. What a tough decision! Of course I wanted to get things over with, but at the same time I knew that the big pain was yet to come and I was dealing with labor really well so I was in no real hurry. She left to check on other patients and said she'd be back. In the 45 minutes she was gone, I breathed through the contractions and ultimately decided that when she got back, I would just suck it up and have her break my water. So she came back at around 8am and I told her to go ahead and do it.

When she broke my water, I immediately went to 9 cm but was kinda stuck there for a few minutes and my body wasn't trying to push at all. So she suggested I lay on my side and see if that helped get me to 10 cm. Well, she certainly knew what she was talking about because no sooner did I just LEAN to my right side than I IMMEDIATELY felt him coming! I swear, it was only 30 seconds of leaning and then they were trying to lean me back but he just came right out. I didn't even really push, just yelled in pain and then there he was - all 9 lbs of him!- at 8:26am on Sunday, September 20th.

No stitches and no tears this time at all which was FABULOUS! And the best thing this time around is how they left me ALONE after the birth. With all the other births, they got me right up to get cleaned up and use the bathroom. Even with my homebirth, the midwife was anxious to get home so she had to make sure I was all set before she could go. But this time the nurse did what she needed to do as far as getting vitals on the baby and then left Chris and I alone to admire our new baby boy for about an hour. That was such a wonderful time for us that I will never forget!

I definitely preferred my homebirth recovery because it was in the comfort of my own home. The hospital accomodations were just ok - the bed was NOT comfortable AT ALL and I felt very isolated as my cell phone didn't work and I couldn't call out on the phone in the room. I was initially offered to stay just a couple of hours after the birth and then leave, but when I found out Luke was a boy so therefore would need to be circumcised I agreed to stay 24 hours so that he could have the procedure done the following morning before we were discharged. (For anyone who wishes to comment on how unnecessary circumcision is, it will be falling on deaf ears. I left that decision for my 1st son 100% up to my husband, just as if we'd had a girl he would have had to defer to me as to when to get her ears pierced. Once we got to the 4th boy, it was a foregone conclusion it would have to be done otherwise family bathtime could be awkward!)

So there's the story of how Luke came into the world. I feel very lucky to have had all the birth experiences I did because there are parts of each of them I really liked and, of course, they all had happy endings. Although I am LOVING having a newborn again, I am also loving the fact that Luke is my last baby. We are done having children and now will focus on raising these children.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Birth Story - Part One

I know I like to read birth stories, so I thought it might be a good idea to blog about mine. Of my four birth experiences, I would say that overall this was the best of them partly because it was the best of both worlds: a midwife but with hospital back-up if anything special was needed for either me or the baby. Thankfully, all went well but it was nice to know it was there.

It's impossible for me not to compare the different birth experiences, so let me first offer a recap of the first three and then tomorrow I will talk more about Luke's birth and why it was better overall than the others.

My first, Owen, was HELL! Most first-timers have their toughest birth with the first one since your body has no idea what it's doing. I began labor 3 days past my due date at around 7pm. By 10pm when the contractions were very regular and getting stronger, I realized I was in labor and called my doula. She told me to try to rest and call her back when I really needed her. She arrived at the house at 1am and sat with me all night. Around 10am, everything stopped. Looking back now, I realize that if I'd been in the hospital at that point that's when they would have started intervening to get things going again but it was actually my body's way of giving me a rest before the real action started. At noon things picked up and I went to the hospital at around 1pm.

When I got there they told me to change into a gown and checked me - I was 6 cm with a bulging bag of water that broke in the process of checking me. Because I'd been up for about 36 hours at this point, I started passing out from exhaustion between contractions. By 4pm, my body started trying desperately to push out the baby, but I was only at 8cm so they told me to breathe through the contractions. This was probably the toughest thing I've ever done and it went on for 2 hours. Then at some point I woke up from passing out and they told me to go ahead and start pushing. Well, I had NO IDEA how to push, especially after spending the last 2 hours trying NOT to push. So that went on for ANOTHER two hours, until Owen was finally born at 8pm.

My dr did do an episiotomy, but I don't know to what degree. I do know that I was in pain from it for the next two weeks, but at the time I just felt like maybe the pain was more from the overall experience than the episiotomy and stitches. I told everyone in the delivery room that Owen would DEFINITELY be an only child but within just a few days of holding that newborn, I knew that wasn't going to be true.

Nineteen months and one day later, I went back into the same hospital to have Sammy. I felt like I had been in labor all day, but didn't say anything. I was 4 days past my due date but the contractions weren't that strong and weren't regular at all, so I didn't want to say anything to Chris who is one to rush me to the hospital at the slightest twinge of pain. Around 6pm, I did tell him that I MIGHT be in labor and he immediately called his mom to come watch Owen. Around 7pm, I told him to call her back and tell her I might go to the hospital in the AM, but it wouldn't be happening before then.

An hour later, I all of a sudden had a contraction and felt the urge to push. I went to the bathroom and there was blood, so I told Chris to get his mom over to the house right away. We got to the hospital at 9pm and it was the same procedure as with Owen: get in a gown and let us check you. I was at 8cm. They called my dr and she said she would come in if either my water broke or if/when I felt like I had to push. (Wasn't that kind of lazy? Her patient is at 8cm and she's hanging out at home until the last possible minute? I didn't think so at the time, but now I guess I kinda do.) Anyway, at around 11pm I told the nurse I felt like I had to push, just to get my dr in there. She checked and I was complete, so she called my dr and I breathed through contractions until she got there 1/2 hour later. She broke my water, I pushed twice and out came Sammy at 11:45pm. What a BREEZE compared to the first time! I actually said "I could do THAT for a living!"

I did have a couple of stitches, but no episiotomy this time and my recovery was much easier. Sammy, by the way was 8.5 lbs compared to Owen's 7.14. After pushing for two hours with Owen, I was SOOOO embarrassed he didn't even weigh 8 lbs. I thought for sure he was 11 or 12 lbs!

Almost 3 years after Sammy's birth, I had William. Due to my CRAP health insurance, I was forced into a homebirth. If I had used my insurance and gone the traditional route at the hospital, my out of pocket cost would have been $4k. RIDICULOUS, esp since I had already paid $5k in premiums that year! So I found a midwife who lives about an hour from my house who does homebirths and charged only $1500. I was irritated that I was having to make a decision like this for financial reasons, but thankfully I was an excellent candidate for homebirth based on my first two natural, uncomplicated births.

I woke up 9 days past my due date and there was blood, so I knew I was in labor. I called the midwife to let her know and she told me to call back when I needed her to come. There was some concern about her getting to the house in time since it was December in Wisconsin, but the weather was clear that day. I called her again at 4pm and told her to come after 8pm, when the older boys would be in bed. She arrived around 8:30pm.

What a long and miserable labor that was! I don't know if my body forgot everything it had learned the first two times around or what! With the midwife, she didn't check my dilation at all until I specifically asked her to around 10pm and I was then at around 7 cm. I guess her philosophy was just that my body would eventually push the baby out no matter what I did, so just go with the flow. Well this was sooooo different than my hospital births, where I got a LOT of direction on what to do and when to do it.

She never checked me again and he wasn't born until almost 4am. I kept asking her if I should push and she would tell me it didn't matter, that my body knew what to do. In a way, this was a much more calm experience than all the "PUSH! PUSH" cheerleading that went on in the hospital, but I also realized I need a bit of that just so I would feel like a more active participant.

When it was all over, she laid William on my chest for about 45 minutes and didn't take him away until they had respectfully asked if they could. Unlike with my hospital births where the baby was considered their patient first, my baby second, the midwife and her assistant made me feel like the most important thing was allowing me to bond with my new son. It was really wonderful and something I'll never forget! Another thing that was very different was how she waited for every last bit of blood to leave the umbilical cord before she would cut it. I think this took about 20 minutes. I had asked for delayed cord cutting with the first two births, but I think the dr may have waited about 2 minutes and certainly not until it stopped pulsating. My midwife told me that no dr would wait that full 20 minutes, esp after being up all night! I don't know if she's right about that, but I know my dr wouldn't have based on her not even coming to the hospital when I was 8 cm dilated!

My midwife told me that she could probably give me one stitch if I wanted it, but it was a very minor tear so I opted to go without. What a difference that made in my recovery! It was also great to be at home with the baby the day after he was born. The midwife and her asst left by 6am and Owen and Sammy woke up an hour later and met their new brother. It was like Christmas - they never knew what happened! The recovery at home was the best part of the homebirth, I would say.

**Note: For anyone out there who's having a homebirth, there is one thing I forgot to do: I didn't lay out any clothes for after the birth. It was a little strange to have the midwife going through my drawers and picking out underwear for me as I was laying there in my bed. Just a tip!

So this will bring me to Luke's birth which I'll recap tomorrow for anyone who's interested. Hope you're all having a great weekend!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Mom's Visit = Another Awesome Project

I have a couple of enemies around my house: clutter and disorganization. Seems we are locked in a neverending war. Fortunately, my mom was here for 2 1/2 weeks and was able to help me out with at least one of my many battles, just in time for winter.

I'm embarrassed to show the before picture, but here it is:

GROSS! How have we lived like this for so long? Everyone takes their shoes off here in the garage. Owen and Sammy would sit on the step which would block anyone trying to get in and out the door. This often led to them getting kicked in the head, stepped-on fingers, etc. The accordian hanger to the left of the door was pretty much useless, as the pegs to hang things on were straight and therefore didn't hold coats of any weight at all. The big blue tub on the floor is where all the hats, gloves and scarves were kept. Digging through it was always a lot of fun! Basically, this area was a MESS and I hated it!

So here's how it looks now:

My mom built boot boxes for the boys. There are two of them with hinged lids to put all their shoes and boots in and they double as benches for them to put on and remove their footwear. GENIUS! We went with our measurements to Lowe's and they cut the plywood for us so she just had to put them together. The boxes sit on the floor of the garage with no bottoms so that I can just sweep underneath them if I ever need to. My mom put some varnish on them and VOILA! Organization - FINALLY!

I bought those white milk crates to go on our shelving unit for the mittens and hats. My other contribution was the idea for name plates with hooks for the kids' coats and backpacks. When they cut the plywood there just happened to be 4 extra little pieces leftover so it worked out perfectly. I think they turned out really cute, don't you?

Thanks, Mom! You're the BEST!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

GREAT Timing!

I can't believe our computer went down the week before I ended up having the baby and we just now got it going again! Isn't that perfect??? I'm so glad to FINALLY be back on line and able to share the news about our newest son!

My mom came out on Sept 10 which was 4 days prior to my due date, just to be safe. I had said from the very beginning I was shooting for Sept 20 because that's my sister's birthday. Would you believe I went into labor around 11pm on the 19th and had him at 8:30am on the Sunday the 20th? It worked out great!

We were all settled on the name Wyatt going into the birth, but on the elevator ride up to OB, we decided on Luke instead. Both of the older boys had been pushing for that name and we liked the idea of the nickname "Lucky." (Kind of tongue-in-cheek for our 4th son, wouldn't you say?)

Luke is a big boy - 9 lbs even and 20" long at birth. I took him for his first check up today and he's up to 9.10 lbs. He has dark hair and eyes and looks nothing like any of his brothers.

My mom left this past Monday and I'm really missing her and all her help, which I will post some pictures of later. Chris is working a ton of hours so I'm alone with the 4 boys - good thing my back doesn't hurt anymore!

The boys are doing amazingly well with the new baby, especially William. He just adores him and isn't showing any signs of jealousy. Life is pretty blissful right now!