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!