27 December 2011

one

Bitsy is one today.  Her sweet babyness is wisping into toddlerhood far faster than I am ready for.  This past week she's begun showing some temper - and it cracks me up!  As a mom of four, I've been down these roads enough that I am no longer bothered by toddler tantrums and know they will come and go and be done eventually.  The other day I secretly watched her get very angry at something she had trouble grabbing . . .  she clenched her tiny fists, ducked her dark silky head and let a piercing wail rip through the house until her cheeks turned red, then stopped, probably needing some air.  I guess she decided that was all the effort it was worth and after one more half-hearted attempt at the task, she moved on.


I can barely grasp that it has been a full year since I first held my newborn girl in my arms.  And I am still wrapping my heart and mind around the fact that never again will I hold my own child in their first hours of life - those days are now over.  I know I have a lot of years to enjoy ahead of me, but an era has ended and I pause, considering that no matter how hard I want to savor the moments and love the sweet breathing of a tiny person, holding the softest of skin against me, the moments are truly fleeting and quickly slip away.

Thankfully, there are still many baby-like moments ahead as my sweet Bitsy transitions into this new stage of life.  For today, I am thankful that she is mine, safely ensconced in this family who thinks she hung the moon.

12 November 2011

I'm still here - a tad more rested thanks to Bitsy finally cutting tooth #2 and a bit less frazzled thanks to a fabulous 10,000 lux light therapy lamp that Little B uses during breakfast/math with Daddy for 45 minutes each morning.  He craves it, loves it.  It's helped.  A lot.  Enough that my body feels like the massive elephant that was squeezing the life out of me decided to shift his weight a little and I can breathe again - even move a little.  I don't think he got up and left the room, and the light won't solve *every* issue at hand, but overall, yes, things are noticeably improved.  (And no, I did not pay $300 at Amazon, I found it much cheaper on ebay, thank you Lord!!)

I also decided to get that homeschool coaching from 7sisters.  I want to figure out how to balance the structure and routine required to keep Little B on track with the vast array of learning tools that are so appealing.  I want to figure out how to let him have structured time (math, geography, grammar, etc) and independent study time (among some other slightly more relaxed subjects, he's currently reading books about renewable resources, and not all from the kid's area at the library) - and what is reasonable to expect from him after he's studied a new topic.  How can I know he's learning, not just skimming the material (that can happen just as easily as an information overload with him) without a full blown melt down because he hates writing?  On a good day, he'd be happy to do it; on a bad day, watch out Mama!  I need to adjust things and find a better rhythm in our week, I think.  I get stuck in such a traditional curriculum rut and then everyone is burned out and the more creative learning I wanted to do gets left by the wayside.  I guess I don't trust that the phonics will be learned, the math understood. . . .  there are so many ways to homeschool that I don't get, and others that I think would be lovely.

I hope your week was good, each of my dear blogging friends. . . .

27 October 2011

conundrums

Decisions.
Debating, arguing, listening, following, praying, reading, trying, failing, trying, wondering, deciding...

I'm worn out.

I do not want to follow my Lord on this topic.  I AM following, but my feelings are not there.  Yet.  (Feelings are not really the issue, here, though.)  I am obeying, because I'm sure I've had people wearing out their knees on my son's behalf and my heart is incapable of following through on my threats. Tomorrow is my self-imposed deadline.  But the decision is made perhaps because I have more fear of the backfire from making my son climb aboard a bus and leaving him open to lashing out at strangers than I do of failing at my efforts at home.

So, at least through the end of 2011 he will be here.  Plugging away with me.  I was persuaded that it was not fair to send him to school because of his behavior - definitely true, but what is fair?  Besides, I didn't say I was playing fair.

And it still remains: something has to drastically change or I cannot go on.
I challenged my Lord to make some changes and He did answer.  Not as completely as I wanted, nor as dramatically as I'd hoped. But I see some light and there is enough for me to muster through. The Lord definitely has his own agenda, and it clearly does not line up with what I was seeing in my mind's eye (ie, a windfall of money for private school or, even better, an exclusive tutor. . .)
Instead, He shed some light on some things to try to address:

1) - Seasonal Affective Disorder. I knew it by experience with my son, not by name.  And I see with some research that like the sensory issues and other needs, it clearly overlaps with the whole kit and caboodle of things he struggles through every day of every year.  A light box is apparently a great tool for this and I am currently researching how to go about finding the right one.  The doctor wasn't sure how to recommend one and essentially told me I could figure it out.  So, that is my first next step.  (If anyone knows anything, please do shed some light here!)

2) - Shaking it up.  I never completely figured out how to crawl out of my "school box" so to speak.  I have tried.  Valiantly.  I ask questions, I dream of doing it, I just never feel secure enough to carry through.  But for this to succeed, I have to figure it out.  I really do.  I feel lost, though.  I am not as far into unschooling as to let everything fly out the window, but I am very much into helping my son succeed.  And so far most of my ways are not working out as well as I'd like.  I have thoughts and ideas on it, but I think it's time for a week's vacation from our routines in order to figure some things out for myself.  I had truly hoped by now I'd have a better handle on this homeschool life.

3) - Taking a walk.  Twice a day would be best.  I need it.  My kids need it.  We need the exercise and the sunshine and the positive together time.  Regardless of the temperature (I draw the line at rain, however).  I am horrible at walking and outside time.  Horrible.  I am a homebody through and through and content to sip my coffee and gaze out a window and read a book.  I just am.  It's after 3pm now and my plan today was to walk before lunch.  I even have a good street for it.  Just failed.  If it wasn't the baby napping it was the growling bellies and then I effectively forgot.  Until now.  And now. . . other than writing this blog I have another excuse but still not a good one.  I desperately want to make this consistent.  I. Must. Do. It.

I think I need to take a week off and address some potential changes curriculum, expectations, routines, hopes, atmosphere (remember, we're still in un-packing mode and there is a lot I have not finished getting set up the way I'd like....life keeps getting in the way!)  I have some resources and thoughts and am even considering some "mentoring" that is available at 7sisters.  There is a pull to that direction for me.  I need back up in this.

That is where I am for today.  And right now, my kids are still waiting for a walk - perhaps that will be the best tool for doing it each day. . . . .



25 October 2011

i give up

I think I'm about to quit.  Homeschooling, that is.
At least in part - only one child has been threatened with an appointment at the local elementary school (on Friday).  And I'm not bluffing and I don't care anymore.  Friday is my deadline for something to give.

My whole being is burned out right now.  And no, I cannot take a break - there is no break from the people who have me worn out, whether schooling or not.

I feel like a quitter - but I don't care.  And I'm not posting for moral support....just to say what is as it is.

I have had too many weeks, months - and now years - of incessant arguing over what I ask someone to do.  This year we've added a whiny voice to the mix and I'm a bit too preoccupied with the one who really gets belligerent to give her what she really needs and explain the work to her.  Hardly her fault.  But my patience is shredded by the time I can sit down at her desk.

Burned out?  Try a hollow cavern.

Here's the catch.  I'm getting angry at my God.
I completely believe my kids need to be homeschooled.  I do.  And I think He has asked me to do it.  I love so many parts of it and have such huge aspirations and dreams and . . . . the reality just crumbles like a sandcastle when the ocean waves close over it.  I have truly reached a point where  my responses to the attitudes are not what I want them to be.  It makes me sad.  And mad.  And angry.

I'm angry because I know this is the best option.  But I have poured out every single thing in my being for so long that there is nothing left.  Not a drop in the bucket.  There have been heart-rending times in the past year, and while that's not where we are today, it's still an uphill battle to an extreme.  It's not about getting the work done - that happens when he finally sits his tail in a chair and stops arguing - and he does it well. But the fighting beforehand about why we do certain subjects or how we do them or if we do them or whether it can be a half day or a day off or skip a subject - there is no end and it takes up my morning.  Even if I ignore it.  Or punish it.  Or send him out of the room.  And then the whole crew is miserable.

I'm angry because I need a break.  Not a mommy's night out (though they help a lot usually), and not even a mini-vacation (as phenomenal as that would be) - I need time with my almost-four year old who is getting in more and more mischief, and I'm guessing he needs the fighting to stop and a little more loving - something I'd be happy to offer if I wasn't about to crumble by lunch time.  I need time to snuggle my almost-one year old before her baby moments are gone forever.  I need time to be more hands-on with and explain math and phonics to my eager 1st grader.

I'm angry because I cannot figure out another option to keep him homeschooled without destroying our relationship permanently.  Because that's what I'm afraid of.  I'm afraid that in 8 years he will walk away and be so glad to never return.  I'm afraid I will ruin our relationship forever.  My mom mentioned that when he was little, we were so close. That drug my heart to my toes - I miss my little boy.  I'm not talking about the changes that will come with growing up - I'm worried about how he sees me.  When he yells he hates me, sometimes I think it's mutual and we both mean it.  Just for that moment.  My heart is breaking.

So I want to keep him here and homeschool him.  But I'm not willing to do it at the cost of our relationship and the detriment of the other kids - or my sanity.  It's not fair or acceptable for him to need 90% of me and the other people in the house split up the remaining 10%.  And I can't afford a tutor, or one of the supplemental options like Classical Conversations (that would require me 100% anyway), or the other places that have classes once a week even if they're cheap.

This leaves me challenging the Lord to find a solution that I cannot fathom.  Not a small one, not a temporary band-aid, not a patch - a real solution.  By Friday.  That is three small days.  I've told my son he needs to step it up - that he can change the outcome of Friday's decision with dramatic attitude adjustments.  So my child and my God - they are the only two people who can make me keep him home.  And I see him trying.  But it's not there yet.  His glass has been half empty his whole life.  I need it half full.

And I don't even want the public route.  It brings dread of all the teacher calls, the notes home, the millions of problems that always came up when we did this before.  I don't have energy for that any more than I do for this.  I feel like I lose regardless.  But maybe those few hours a day for my daughter will at least help her. 

No, I don't think it's right.  I think it could be an awful decision.  But I am past that.  I will forge ahead if something doesn't give (so feel free to pray - I'm in a pit and can't climb out).  Every single fiber of my being wants something to change so I don't have to follow through on Friday.  I cannot argue with him any more.  I can't.  It's been too much for too long - I know that partly it's a cycle that starts every single fall and gets deeper and worse until spring decides to peek around the corner.  But I cannot wait that out any more and it's depressing me.  I need it to change.  Now.

21 October 2011

life unplugged

I have had a dozen posts in my head that never make it to the keyboard - I just can't find the time (and I just noticed almost as many in my draft folder!). But today the other day I read a post by Mommy Made Green called The Truth that made me want to post my own reality. So here it is.

I realize I am already fairly transparent, but the craziness of our life is what stops me from having so much blog time these days - so I thought I'd like to invite you over for just a glimpse of my day...

As you know, I now have four children - Bitsy is already 9 mos old and on the move; Baby J is no longer a baby, now well past the 3 1/2 year old mark and a blend of delicious smug grins and deep mischief that runs me ragged; Miss C is 6 1/2 and a blend of tomboy and feminine that I find wonderful and refreshing; Little B is 10 1/2 and not at all little any more, rather growing like a weed with a tender heart (and pre-puberty hitting me hard). I may need to rethink the boys' names on here soon!

And. I homeschool. Just the older two for now.

I cannot get Baby J to be still while I teach the others - pouring liquids is a favorite pastime for him (think entire water bottles on the new carpet kind of pouring liquids), and markers on things other than paper (I really thought he'd outgrown this!), messing with the computer buttons, coloring IF the book is in my lap, snuggling, talking and talking and talking, sneaking under desks for a myriad of reasons, wires being only one of them. A handful to be sure - but a charming one no doubt.

Bitsy is easier to work around with a few toys and nap time, though the new crawling thing is beginning to present a challenge. We now step on Cheerios all day long, hence a bigger need for vacuuming around here!

A day in my home is a day like no other - but I like to believe I'm not alone.

I begin our homeschool day in pj's with at least my 2nd cup of coffee in hand. More often than not I am still writing out the day's assignments in their spiral notebooks when 9am rolls around. I juggle the assignments and questions with the cries for attention from my younger ones. I battle the arguments of why we do certain subjects and the quieter whines of not wanting to do more phonics.

Laundry is usually in many stages in several rooms - piles (sometimes merged as one large pile) in the laundry area, sorters long forgotten because they are not so easy to reach now. There are at least 3 loads finally cleaned and dried waiting to be folded or already folded but knocked down thanks to my favorite mischief maker. My husband wore khakis on his day off this last weekend - when asked why, he told me none of jeans were clean. Oops.  (I have since remedied that problem.)

I use cloth diapers - but it's Luvs on her bottom right now because the laundry is behind (and Baby J's car seat cover is getting an overdue cleaning - the sour smell made it a priority). - but sometimes Luvs land on her bottom because the laundry is piled high and there are other things that take precedence. And sometimes you'll just find one or two of those lying around, having lost it's way to the diaper pail.  Or trash can depending on the day.

The dishes did get rotated today (and the day I initially tried to write this), but they are still piled up in the sink for the next round - sorry, I do not know how my grandmothers had so many kids with no dishwasher. I'm not as strong as they, perhaps. Oh, and if the wrong thing goes into the sink, we have tiny little ants that love to come and play.

Dinner plans go awry frequently at 3pm or 4pm when I suddenly realize that I forgot to put it in the crock-pot AGAIN (today, it made it in there before noon - but it was on the menu twice this week already). Instead, it's usually still in the freezer so crock-potting it no longer applies. Then I scramble to solve it or thaw it or hope someone will bring me Chinese food and make it all go away. (Usually I have to solve it and scrambled eggs frequent our dinner table.)

Vacuuming happens a little more right now since Bitsy has earned a new nickname - Shark. AKA Hoover. She really does try to keep the paper off the floor for me. And pennies (seriously, the floor was clear in that room - where did it come from??).  {Oh, and little side note: I really do call her Bitsy.  All the time.}

Mopping is a chore I cannot find time for - I hand-mop the bathroom floor right around the commode on a very regular basis because I have a three year old boy.  Enough said my friends.  My kitchen is much lower on the totem pole of necessary things to do - clean underwear ranks near the top.

I will say that having kids who are chore-aged is very helpful.  Between them the trash goes out, the dishwasher gets emptied, the bathroom counters get cleaned, certain floors get vacuumed. . .etc.  If they were not doing those things, I would buy stock in paper plates right now.  The good, sturdy quality ones.  And I promise that when I realize the ring around the toilet is getting noticeable, I clean it (within a couple days).  And the sheets - they've got a schedule to follow for when to come off the bed and get washed.  Not super obedient, those sheets, but we work at it.  Eventually, right?

Do you remember that we moved this summer? Then started our homeschool a few weeks later? Can you deduce what that implies? Yeah, we still have a lot of boxes stacked up. And shelves waiting to be attached to walls whenever my hubby has some time so I can unpack said boxes (lots of books in those boxes - the friends who help us move always comment.. . .).  I won't complain, though - the truth is we are so comfortable here that I know we'll get it done on the days off. (I LOVE the space God provided in this home!)

Speaking of days off, it is finally Friday!  I live for Friday - we never school unless someone asks to (Sometimes Miss C asks, I provide, she changes her mind, we move on).  It's my day off - to catch up on household chores like folding laundry, to lounge around, play Legos, read books, watch too much TV, vacuum again, and right now I'm longing for a nap.  And I may try for one since the middles are happy with Timmy Time and I'm happy they're happy.

And now, I am on my way again - there is some popcorn and a book in the other room that just called out to me.  Perhaps I'll doze there, too. . . .

Have a lovely weekend my friends.  I hope I make it back to visit soon. . .

01 August 2011

two in one

I have two stories to tell. But really they are just one story...

Story #1
Back in February I took Little B to a birthday party for one of his best buddies. There were a handful of boys at the party and as we dropped our kids off, some of the moms were chatting in the (freezing cold) cul-de-sac while the kids ran and played. I met two or three women, but one stood out to me - probably because she has a peanut allergy and allergies are notable to me for some odd reason. She was very friendly and I've heard that her son is a nice kid (albeit a tad older) - that means my son didn't have any struggles with him even though they weren't instant soul-mates.

Story #2
In Mayish - or early June perhaps - I was at the grocery store alone (well, Bitsy was with me, so almost alone) while my husband put the other kids to bed. Not entirely uncommon for me, I began chatting with a lady who was shopping in the natural foods aisle - she noted my coconut milk which led to another one of those allergy conversations that seem to follow me around (ironically, this post is actually not about allergies). They were chatty and I'm chatty and so, well, we chatted for a bit.


2 Stories in 1
A little over a week ago I was having a Girl's Night Out with the mom whose son had the party in Story #1. I started to tell her the details of the house we're moving to next month (cause I'm very happily consumed with it right now) and how the landlord told us there is a homeschooling family across the street with three boys. I tried to describe where the neighborhood is located and she told me she has a friend on that street...with three boys...who homeschool. . .yeah, the peanut allergy lady I mentioned above! Believers, homeschoolers, boys, friendly. Wow! I don't need to them be our best friends, I just need nice neighbors, you know? I thought it was so cool. And by telling Little B that he'd actually met one of the kids before, his anxiety about what they were like and meeting them instantly melted away.

Then, this past weekend I sold and shopped at a consignment sale in my small town and ran into the grocery store acquaintance from Story #2. I mentioned that I remembered meeting her and where, and she said she'd been trying to figure out why she thought she knew me - one of those conversation starters. As we talked for a few minutes and a total God-thing happened. . .it turns out she will be my next-door neighbor in a few weeks. A believer, a kind neighbor. . .again - wow.


I am blown away. How long does it often take to get to know your neighbors? And how completely unreal to meet them randomly before you move in? Two of them, at that.

When we found this house, the timing was impeccable. We had not considered moving until a few days prior. The owner thought it had already been listed by his wife or it would have been gone in a heartbeat. Before we saw it, we felt we would move there. When we did see it, we just knew God had it set aside. I have since told my husband that I almost feel our stay in this tiny house has simply been a waiting period for the next one to be available for us. The street is pleasant, quiet and friendly. Only the Lord could possible arrange things like this. It feels like home to us and we cannot wait to move in. Did I mention I can't wait?!

08 July 2011

here we go loop-dee-loo

So.
We're going to move.
AGAIN.
As in - "already!?" I have an easy 16+ bins and boxes that never truly unpacked themselves. . . I kept waiting but no, they are still full. Perhaps emptied and immediately reorganized and refilled in the past year, but not truly left empty. I also have boxes or plastic bins that are open on top and accessible like a shelf (stacked on top of unopened ones) or spilled out into the still-not-really-usable homeschool corner while I find snippets of time to sort them. I suppose the bright side is that my packing is that much further under way.

This house has been a like a transition place for us - as I told my husband, I feel like we've gone through a fire and now we've entered a time of re-growth.

In this transition we have had to ask the owners of this very small, oddly designed farm house circa 1977 to replace the water heater, repair plumbing, fix the kitchen sink once and replace it twice. Being all electric the bill stays relatively consistent - and exorbitantly high. Turns out we had two massive tears in the air ducts that they finally fixed. I cannot wait to see how the bill looks for June's usage. Truly. It should be a breath of fresh air in comparison.

Once we realized how much more we've paid in utilities this year, and got the feeling that bringing this house into a practical and more functional state was a pain for the them, we decided a slightly higher rent for a slightly larger house would work better since the utilities should be considerably cheaper than the past year here. As we began to pray about it, we found a house five-ish miles away, meeting so many of the needs on our heart - a large fenced in back yard, an enclosed 2-car garage for homeschooling, a real dining room, floors that aren't shakey or uneven, more space for the practical living needs of a family of six.

Again, peace took over and we plunged forward with giving our notice and plans to paint and thoughts for how to arrange our world in the new space. We are so excited, but a tiny part of me dreads the upheaval of packing, moving, and resettling. The anxieties of my son are surfacing in spades and I am in need of a gracious attitude and patience towards him.

Foremost in my heart is that the small neighborhood is cozy and gives a friendly yet protective air as you drive down the street. It's older enough to be settled and yet it has families with kids and even three homeschooled boys across the street. Hope rises in me, but I know that can go many directions. So I pray and hope and pray and wait. . .

(We'll have space for guests once more if anyone wants to visit! ;D )

15 June 2011

grace

We took a loooong time to name Bitsy. As in we were down to the final weeks and I wanted to call her Lizzie Grace and my husband wanted to call her Samantha Joy and we were stuck at an impasse. (She is neither, as most of you probably know.) I wanted to name her Grace because we had been through so much last year and my heart felt that we were headed into a year of grace.

As a sweet song I know says, "Grace is simply God Himself, to be our enjoyment" - I am experiencing the enjoyment of my Lord and of my family to depths I have not in a long time. I see and feel His grace in the little things, the big things, the important things, and the insignificant things. I feel completely covered, like an annointing oil poured out upon us, grace has simply poured out over our family.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

I wrote this back in April....and never finished tweaking it to post...that's how busy my life is right now! I have edited and deleted from the above because things keep moving on, the details get lost in time, and things don't make sense when the baby has grown and isn't the age I referenced any more - but what I said is true.

I will be painfully honest, though, and tell you that while I am still experiencing much grace, I am in a hard place personally right now as well. On Sunday we were singing a hymn that touched me deeply....part of the second verse is goes like this:

"What He is: He's the river.
He's the mighty flowing river.
He waters me in a desert land.
He's my hiding place. . ."

This is my exact my experience right now. I have to admit that He feels a bit more like a trickle or small stream much of the day, but He is watering me in my desert land right now. With Himself, with His grace. I told my mom today that sometimes when I pray, I cannot even find words, I simply feel. And yet He is hiding me and His grace still pours over me....

10 January 2011

on the morning of my 35th birthday

I planned a post for this morning titled, "it's my birthday and i'll cry if i want to" because over the weekend the baby blues began to creep up on me, my husband was scheduled to return to work this morning and I was terrified of being left with four kids on my own – and with a highly probable snow that they'd want to play in as well – and, well, life felt a little bit like it might spin out of control.

But this morning it was actually a very different story around here. . .

I got snow on my birthday. I'm guessing 4-5 inches which is amazing and highly unusual around here. My whole life I've wanted snow on my birthday (we live far enough South that a skimming or what you saw when Bitsy was born is really a years' supply of snow). I've been happy with flurries at 6am, but today my world was white, beautiful, soft-spoken white of fresh snow.

John's office closed because of the amount of snow (and ice – what we usually end up with) that fell in the night, meaning he's home to play (and he's doing homeschool with Little B in between times….boy howdy, I should get a job and let him be a stay at home dad!). The kids are beside themselves with delight.

Bitsy slept over 9 (yes, NINE) hours last night. I knew she was a good sleeper, but I was floored by that. Apparently, I started doing that at 2 weeks old also. I realize it may not repeat itself, but honestly she's only been waking up once at night anyway, which is just nothing in my book. She is a champ, and so happy. (And growing just fine – she was at an ounce from her birth weight at 1 week, so they didn't even feel a need for a second weight check on her.)

My mother is here helping a bit – I was afraid John would be at work and I'd need another adult with the snow dynamics. Turns out I didn't because there's even a chance he'll be off tomorrow (then working like a madman to meet a deadline the rest of the week – oh boy. . .). Mom and I stayed up a bit last night, chatting after the house was quiet, having muffins and milk and admiring Bitsy.

Today, I've chatted on the phone, had lunch, watched the kids play, put on (maternity) jeans for the first time (they don't hit the incision like I feared, and it's lovely to be in jeans again), and am sipping my most favorite tea in the world, Republic of Tea's Green Tea with Honey and Ginseng. It's been a long time since I bought it but saw it recently and discovered that it's like catching up with an old friend to have an old favorite after a long time. I even have a sizable secret stash of dark chocolate from a friend who sent me a package this past week!

So, if the family can hold their own, I will continue to stay a bit out of the way and perhaps nap. I feel such a selfish creature, but I find I crave the quiet and the lack of stress that goes with staying in my room and caring for a new baby and resting. Wednesday, we have doctor's visits and John will definitely be back at work – so that little bubble with burst into oblivion. I had better rest while I can. . .

05 January 2011

the birth of bitsy

(Oh my....this is horribly long! I'm so sorry. If you barely skim it or just don't read it, I won't be offended. You can peruse the few pictures without reading and keep it easy on yourself - really. At the very least, it documents my journey for ME.)

Let me start by saying that this doesn't "feel" like a birth story because in many ways I do not "feel" like I gave birth. For anyone who has had a vaginal delivery, you are familiar with the heavy post-partum bleeding, the swelling that eases with a newborn diaper full of ice, and the Tucks pads that become almost an addiction. After three such births, these are among the trademark details that define a birth experience to me. Though uncomfortable, they are not really that awful, and are just par for the course in my mind. Bitsy's birth lacks these things. In many ways, I feel as though I just had major surgery (which I did) and simultaneously I'm wondering where my baby girl came from; my mind has trouble connecting the two, apparently. That said, there are still many things about my body that testify to her birth: some bleeding (but wow is it light!), the milk that comes in so fast and so excessively like it has every other time, the uterine cramping with each nursing session, the belly that decreases so dramatically each day (in spite of a ravenous appetite), the back muscles that attest to holding, carrying and nursing a newborn babe. Please don't get me wrong in any of this. I am not regretting my choice and I am not grieving the differences. I am simply wrapping my mind around it, and telling myself that though very different, it is indeed still a birth story. After all, it is about life, fresh and new; it is about the birth of a girl God has placed specifically on this earth. It's not how it happened; it's that it did happen.

I was scheduled to arrive at the hospital at 5:30am Monday morning, with the c-section to start at 7:30am (though my doctor had told me this hospital always starts a few minutes late). He said she would most likely be born before 8:00am. This plan requires leaving my house at 4:45am (yuck). Not that I expected to sleep much the night before anyway – far too much anticipation! My parents and children would have to follow a couple hours later to be there before the birth, which had given us pause because that is so early for little ones. And for my parents. (Yes, I really wanted everyone there when she was born, especially since we could arrange it!) We won't even go into the fact that the week ahead would be stressful on the kids simply because of the changes taking place and mommy not being home. Of course, we all know about plans and mice and men. (Thankfully, no mice were involved in the birthing of this baby.)

In our part of the country, snow only happens once or twice a year. We'd actually gotten flurries and ice two weeks before, so when we experienced a true "White Christmas" (something all the kids in our neck of the woods called a "Christmas Miracle" as they gazed in wonder), we were a bit shocked. The weatherman is usually wrong about such things, and you know they are always hopeful regarding snow on Christmas. I swore they were bluffing. Apparently, I was wrong.




Saturday afternoon found us pondering the potential road conditions for our drive to the hospital. The weather did clear and we likely would have been fine, but there was really no way to be certain of that until too late to change things. And so we figure the Lord actually had His own plans for our Christmas bonus that we got – a hotel next to the hospital! In many ways, this helped change things up and distracted the kids from their anxieties and made a grand adventure of the week. We got a "suite" that provided enough beds for my parent, kids, and us (well, me on the first night anyway). And it had a fridge for all the quirky safe foods we must drag everywhere we go. They stayed 3 nights making shorter, simpler trips for the kids to see their baby sister and me.

(Me, at the hotel, the night before she was born)

Being 3 minutes from parking spot to parking spot, we were only 15 minutes late to the hospital (chronically slow family, what can I say?). Then when we arrived the administrator had to do a bit of extra paperwork that was supposed to have been done when I dropped off my pre-registration. Which led to arriving upstairs fairly late I guess, since they asked at some point when I'd gotten there; the night shift was trying to do all the pre-op stuff before the day shift came on to start the surgery. But you know what? My doctor was later than all the rest of us. So, I had zero guilt. That admin guy, however – it seems that was a common problem so someone else can address him. Ha!

I was taken to an LDR room – Labor, Delivery & Recovery. I changed, got hooked up to monitors, and chatted my nerves away with the nurses who had a million questions. And then. The anesthesiologist arrived. You must understand that in my na├»ve days BC (before children), I initially looked into natural childbirth simply to avoid an epidural. They terrified me (I believe now that there are many other reasons natural is a good choice, for the record!). Then this particular doctor was making decisions for me ("I think we'll do a spinal on you") – which I did not like. Perhaps being assertive about my choice for an epidural instead, based on what research I had done, helped me work through the rising fear. Once I convinced him I did indeed want the epidural, not the spinal (my choice took longer which clearly was not in his plan), he got started. And my blood pressure went up – they commented on it when it showed on the screen. Ha! I totally expected that. But, it was an excellent opportunity to use the relaxing skills I've obtained during my previous births. Breathe deeply in. Breathe deeply out. Talk through it, distract myself, be sure I am relaxing all of my muscles, and keep breathing deeply.

There was a lively, fun nurse on his staff that held onto me during the epidural. She had the right balance of humor and asking/answering questions. (She was delightful, really, and stayed with me, at my head, the entire time I was in the Operating Room.) So I felt zings and tingling feet and no numbness in my tongue, I felt the cold alcohol wipe in the right places. I was numb on the left but not the right, then slowly, slowly, the right followed suit. It was never quite balanced, though. It is such an odd sensation to feel nothing but my feet and above my belly. Not an experience I care to repeat. But, I will say that receiving the epidural was not as terrifying as I'd expected.

Once it took, I saw one of my two doctors (the one new to the practice, but old friends with my original doctor), who said he was waiting on the other one (the one whose practice I've been a patient of for many years), and he chatted for a moment before saying he'd see me in a few. Eventually, I was laid back and taken to the Operating Room (John would be brought in soon), where we heard the doctor was almost there (this is when I decided I had zero reason to worry about being late – it was now well past the planned time to start). And so the team began doing all kinds of things around me, but I was flat on my back with oxygen in my nose, a screen being pulled up at my armpits and a blanket that blew hot air draped heavily over my arms to keep me warm. I could see nothing of the goings-on and even if I could I doubt I'd remember the details. I was working on that relaxing thing again and feeling teary as I realized it was not long before I'd see my baby girl (and the fact I was about to be cut wide open while wide awake).

Finally, my doctor arrived. He had come in especially for me, at my request. I cannot tell you how much that meant to me. It took that relaxing thing a looong ways. John was brought in a few moments later, and I realized they were already starting. I felt nothing. I can't say I even felt tugging. The epidural was adjusted more than once based on how much I felt or didn't feel. I could smell the cauterizing as they cut into me. I heard odd sounds and many voices. I had my husband by my side, close and reassuring. I asked a million questions about the things I noticed – especially what sounds were. It took a bit longer than they thought because I had an old scar from an abdominal surgery 11 years ago and they had to work through the scar tissue. Eventually, there was a loud squalling and screaming sound, and I double checked to make sure it was her – none of my babies cried at birth, and I could still feel her inside my body. It was indeed her. My sweet Bitsy.

It was 8:13am, clearly not before 8am as "planned" – and later it reminded me that babies come on God's timing, even when they're scheduled. It was comforting to me since I never liked having to "plan" her birth to start with. I love knowing that she was born exactly when He decided. And yes, He did arrange every detail of her birth for me. I rest in that.

They rubbed her down, got her foot prints, and I believe I was finger printed at the same time. Then we got those lovely shots in the previous post with mommy and daddy. But in under 15 minutes she was whisked away to be weighed and meet the rest of her family. John went with her, of course. Leaving me to have my tubes tied and be sewn up. That epidural was going back and forth enough that I was feeling things I didn't like, especially from the left side, so they finally gave me some narcotics that drowsed me in and out the rest of the OR time. Once I was back in the LDR room with my family, I was put on a morphine drip and pump that really spaced me out.

See the green button in my hand? I remember that button now. IF I could remember it while doped up I was allowed to press it every 6 minutes for the additional morphine. Those 6 minutes went by awfully fast. I do remember that the first thing I was encouraged to do once I was in the room was nurse my baby girl. I loved that. I got to hold her and nurse her and love on her before her bath. Then Little B took a video of her bath while I watched from a distance. I loved that, too. What a treasure and what a sweet bonding for him.

I was monitored for a while then moved to a mother-care room. It was on that short journey that I became horribly nauseated from the morphine. It eventually made me so ill I had to have anti-nausea meds. Bitsy and I both slept about 7 hours that afternoon before my doctor came in and told me he'd switch me to Percocet; morphine was never his choice. It was apparently that same anesthesiologist who wanted me to have a spinal. (And a few days later there was another new mom having the same experience, per my nurse. Huh.)

Recovery has been a mixed bag for me. Thanks to Miss C's birth nearly six years ago, a slow, painful recovery is not really a new experience. It's just the location of the pain being so odd in relation. I've had a few odd headaches, but not the baby blues I expected. I feel more mellowed out than I did the entire pregnancy, and much more myself. I'm relieved to be only taking Motrin now, not the stronger pain killer, and I took off the steri-strips today – my doctor does an amazing job and there are no external stitches, much like a plastic surgeon, from what I hear (I even had nurses who commented how great he did). I miss being able to get up and around easier, and I'm thankful John was able to take 2 full weeks off after her birth (plus the long weekend before). I am constantly reminding myself that my turn is coming – John needs to be doing these things while I recover and I need to let him (cooking, cleaning, child-rearing, bringing me things. . .)! I secretly dread being alone with 4 kids on Monday. I know that's several days away, but I feel a bit nervous about just how well I'll be feeling. For now, I will try to take it one day at a time.