Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Catherine's Birth Story - Part 1

Our family welcomed our 5th baby, Catherine Joy, on July 16th.  Here is her birth story:

Monday, July 16th was my due date based on the early ultrasound I'd had sometime around my 11th week of pregnancy.  The Friday prior to the 16th I had a routine prenatal appointment with my OB (whom I like very much).  For 3 of my previous deliveries, I had been induced within a few days before or after 41 weeks pregnant.  For the sake of my emotions, I had decided on a mental due date of July 23rd.  At my appointment I even set up an appointment on Thursday the 19th for the required "past due-date" non-stress test because, well, I was just planning that I would not have the baby until sometime around 41 weeks.  We weren't doing a lot of school and I had a few projects I wanted to wrap up, plus a few special things I wanted to do with the girls and Silas to kill time while we waited for the baby.  I planned to gather up most of the stuff I wanted to take to the hospital, get out the coming home outfits (one for a boy, one for a girl, because we don't find out the gender ahead of time), raise the crib mattress and put sheets on it, and so on.  I also wanted to make soft pretzals, some cookies, a few breakfast things to freeze, and maaaybe even doughnuts.  Just things to keep me from dwelling on being "past" my due date.

At my doctor's appointment on Friday, Dr. P checked me and I was 3cm, almost 4cm.  She was dead serious when she said "I don't think you'll make it through next week," to which I laughed.  She asked what I thought, I said I was sure I wouldn't have the baby until my 41st week.  We talked through a spontaneous induction scenario that I liked, because I don't like scheduled inductions, and I came home.  I did a lot of office work getting things wrapped up before I would be "off" for a few-several weeks.  I made sure bills were paid, deposits put in the bank, and basically just tried to get as much done as I could.  Daniel brought home dinner, and we had a nice at-home date before we went to pick up the girls and Silas from his parents' (they keep the bigger kids most Fridays while I do office work for Daniel's business).

On Saturday I felt a little uncomfortable and had some other indicators that made me tell Daniel "this is probably just from her checking me yesterday, but sometimes people have their babies within 24 hours of this."  A friend from church sent me a text and asked me if I could sub for her in her Sunday School class as she needed to be home with a sick child.  I said I would, IF I wasn't in the hospital.  I wasn't, so I subbed for her.  After church several people commented that "tomorrow (16th) was THE day!" I laughed and said I was sure it wouldn't be Monday at all.

I slept REALLY good Sunday night.  I got up with Daniel, showered, and dressed and was downstairs earlier than I had been in a long time.  The girls and Silas weren't even awake yet.  I was going to enjoy the quiet house and a cup of coffee as I made my breakfast and prepared theirs.  I sat down to put on my shoes.  I tied my right shoe and leaned over to tie my left shoe when I felt an unusual sensation of wet.  I quickly tied my shoe, wondering "did my water just break??" and stood up to keep the rocking chair from getting wet... IF, in fact, my water had broken.  Upon standing, I pulled my skirt up and observed rivers of liquidy stuff running down my legs.  I knew that it wasn't my bladder leaking.  {Side note: My water has NEVER spontaneously broken before, so this was a WHOLE new experience.  Shockingly surprising to say the least!!}  I grabbed my phone and dialed Daniel as I walked to the kitchen.  I grabbed 2 kitchen towels and stuffed them between my legs, and waddled back to the school room to wipe up the drips on the floor.  Daniel didn't answer, so I walked outside to talk to him. He was on the phone, talking to a customer and loading equipment into his van in preparation for his work day.  (He has his own HVAC business.)  He had just hung up so I yelled at him from the kitchen porch, "You're not going to work today!!" We both looked at each other in surprise as I told him my water had just broken.  He had to make several phone calls to get things in place for NOT working that day after-all, and I began calling my mother-in-law.  I called and called and called, and she wasn't answering her phone.  I was beginning to get a little panicked and called a friend from church with whom I had *just* discussed, the day before, this very scenario happening.  She assured me that we could take the kids to their house if we needed to.  Then I called my father-in-law, who had just stepped out of a meeting.  He said my MIL was home, but would be leaving at 9:30 for an appointment.  I called her over and over again a few more times and she still didn't answer.  Since I knew she was home, I went into highest of speeds to get the kids awake and into the van so we could get them to her house before she left.  I had Susannah and Sylvia put a change of clothes into their bag, picked out a set of clothes for Charity and Silas, and was giving out instructions left and right as fast as they completed each task.  They were crazy excited but also working quickly, knowing the sense of urgency and the need to beat the clock that was creeping closer and closer to 9:30.  If you have ever watched the original "Yours, Mine & Ours" movie (Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball), the scene where he is running down the hall banging on the bedroom doors shouting, "Red Alert! Red Alert!" came to mind.  I felt like I was doing my own version of "Red Alert!" and laughed about it several times.

The girls and Silas were about ready to go and I had the girls carrying things out to the van.  I was trying to make breakfast for Daniel and myself when my phone rang.  I answered it and it sounded like a hen squawking on the other end.  It was my MIL.  To the best that Daniel and I have deduced, my FIL called their neighbor and asked her to go tell my MIL to answer her phone. Haha! My MIL was totally beside herself in excitement.  We discussed how/when/where to trade off the kids and she decided to come pick them up and we would swap vehicles.  That took the time-stress off of me, and Daniel came in soon after and was able to help get Silas ready to go.  I called our doula to let her know what was going on; she planned to meet us at the hospital about 30 minutes after we would get there.  I wasn't having any contractions though things did feel differently.  I went upstairs and began throwing things into a bag for myself.  I have learned over the last 4 times what I like and want to take to the hospital.  The one thing I hadn't gotten out was comfy pants to wear and wear home.  I had to dig around in my closet and my bin of maternity clothes to try and find them.  I was feeling anxious and wanted to get to the hospital before I had the baby at home or in the car, haha!!  I also wanted the kids gone so I could have a 1-track brain with which to focus.

My MIL arrived and much to my amusement took nearly very clean towel from our linen closet and not only layered a bunch on the front passenger seat of her car, but she had also basically made a bed of towels in the back seat. Hahaha!!  She came upstairs to chat (I wasn't really in the mood but put on my cordial face) and gave her version of instructions for what to do if I had the baby en-route to the hospital (I wasn't overly amused; I had delivered 4 babies just fine so far and was certain that if I were to have the baby outside of the hospital between Daniel and I we wouldn't be wondering what to do with the baby. :P )  After a quick hug she left and took the kids with her.  Ahh, the house was finally quiet and I could think.  I finished loading my bag and came downstairs, deciding I wanted to enjoy a cup of coffee on the way to the hospital, PLUS I wanted to mental clarity and energy it would provide.  (My labor and delivery with Silas was done in a complete brain fog of exhaustion; I didn't want a repeat if I could help it.)  I had eaten an egg and cheese sandwich, and also began drinking water to be sure I was well-hydrated.

Daniel and I had a nice ride to the hospital, visiting and just enjoying being together.  At one point I was replaying the "Red Alert" clip from Yours, Mine & Ours on You-Tube and was laughing a lot.  I think I was on some kind of "new adventure" high... our baby coming ON it's due date, my water breaking on it's own, knowing we were going to have a baby within hours... it kinda puts you on a high!!

Daniel dropped me off at the hospital entrance and I stood there and waited probably at least 5 minutes for them to let me into the Labor and Delivery unit.  I debated walking while I waited but baby felt much lower than before and I didn't want to start anything without anyone there. Haha!!  They put me in a Triage room and I donned 2 gowns (one forward and one backward) and the nurse began the 101 questions.  The big question of the day from the nurse and the midwife was "You think your water broke? Was it a huge gush?"  To my response of "yes, I know it broke but it wasn't a huge gush.  I did soak 2 kitchen towels while I got ready to come, though," they ALWAYS said "well... that's a good story."  I don't know why they doubted that I knew what I was talking about.  They hooked me up to monitors but the midwife wanted to do the test to make sure my water had actually broken before they did anything else.  And the waiting frustration began.  In my mind I was going to arrive at the hospital, answer the questions, and go walking with our doula, and have the baby by early afternoon at the latest, best case scenario and not outside of what would be normal for me.  Lo and behold, the test strips for checking for amniotic fluid were locked up in some closet that only a security person could unlock and security never arrived to unlock the closet.  The L&D was completely full and our nurse and midwife were obviously busy as well.  I was thirsty and finally Amy went and got me a drink in a styrofoam cup.  Finally about 12:30 (after waiting for 1 1/2 hours in the bed, with my tailbone and backside beginning to really ache because those beds are horrible) the midwife decided to check me without first doing the amniotic test.  Lo and behold she discovered that I was right; my water HAD broken (hello, duh!!), and I was still between 3-4 cm, but 60% effaced.  That 60% news was exciting to me, it meant progress was happening even though I wasn't having contractions.

As soon as the midwife was finished, Amy took me walking.  We walked the L&D halls a few times but could not find any stairs.  With permission we went and walked and walked and walked the hospital, making our way between two sections and doing the stairs at each end.  She also had me do a deep squat after each set of stairs. (By deep, I mean hanging on the hand-rail, knees to my chest and backside nearly on the floor.)  The squats were definitely uncomfortable but not painful, and seemed to be very beneficial in making progress.  After our first walking session, we had to go back for another round of monitoring.  By that time I was roasting hot from the hot stair-wells and the roasting hot hallways of the hospital, and I was starving hungry.  Without asking permission from the nurse or midwife, Daniel left to go get some lunch for me and him from the cafeteria.  When the nurse came in and asked how I was doing, I said "hot and hungry!" and asked for a real cup of water.  When she heard that I was going to eat, she said "I didn't hear anything about that," meaning she was going to ignore the fact that I was eating before having a baby. (Eating during labor is very new in this hospital.)  Daniel brought back 2 trays of food and let me choose which one I wanted to eat.  The options were a meal of seasoned fish, rice and some vegetables, and a BBQ sandwich and I forget what else.  Since throwing up is a possibility, I decided I would rather throw up fish than BBQ and ate the fish.  It was completely tasteless to me except for the tarter sauce I put on top of it.  Then I dug into the wild rice, hoping for some flavor, and it tasted like I was chewing rye seed from the grain drill back home. Hahahaha!!! We all had a good laugh about that.  Daniel exclaimed how good his BBQ sandwich tasted, and knowing I love really good BBQ, offered me a bite.  I took one and the flavor of electrical smoke filled my mouth.  It tasted absolutely nasty to me.  We decided that being in labor had changed my tastebuds temporarily.  At this point I was having some mild contractions but they were irregular and not strong enough for me to really pinpoint a start or stop time.

I am going to post this as "Part 1" to keep it from turning into a longer-than-long post, and you can read Part 2 once I get it written.  Plus I have some little people that need some adult encouragement to stay focused on their work. :)

Thursday, May 10, 2018

God Provided A Sane Dinner

I'm just going to spill from within for this blog post. Usually I try to organize my thoughts at least, but not this one. So word spilling forthcoming!

I. Am. Pooped. Like feeling more tired physically and mentally than I have in a long time.  In reality, I have myself to thank.  I'm the one who decided it would be nice to makeover Susannah's bedroom before Sylvia moves in with her.  I'm the one who is doing this mostly solo in my 30th week of pregnancy.  However, as much as the want to is still there, I am reminded that my body is doing a lot of work already and I'm pushing myself probably a little more than I should.  But other than legs, feet, hips, back, and shoulders aching... I feel fine.  Just completely and totally spent.

This furniture is what I left in the room. It has been grunted around multiple times as I painted all 4 walls.
  I am doing my best to power through this project because I am a "either do it and get it done or don't do it at all" personality.  (I can see that there are benefits to both bulldozing through projects and working on a project more sanely paced.)  Part of my desire to not drag this on is that I am very eager to have Silas moved downstairs so I don't have to lug him up and down the stairs for naps and bedtime.  Last week he randomly tried to launch out of my arms for some unknown reason as we were halfway down the stairs. I barely kept him and myself from crashing down the remainder of the way!

So I've been pushing myself, largely ignoring the housework (hello cases of paper dishes for such a time as this!), and the girls have been having a wee bit more free time than usual. Which ... always leads to squabbles.  Painting when Silas is awake is pretty much the end of his world because he wants to be IN the room WITH me.  All of those things together pushed me to get it done in as little time as possible.

That meant when I had ONE wall left to paint last evening, I pushed through and painted the last wall (after Daniel kindly helping me unload 30 zillion pounds of books and moving the bookcases).  Then I had cleanup.  It ended up being almost 2am until I lumbered upstairs to crash into bed.

A rare, sweet few minutes from Sunday afternoon.

So physically tired, pregnant body that wakes up multiple times a night to shift, move, roll over, combined with a very SHORT amount of sleeping hours (piano lesson this morning), and I was tired.  My body was tired and my brain was tired
  My temper and patience were trying to ride the Tired Train as well.  Why?  Just because when I'm tired I don't want to have self control.  Self control takes effort.  It takes thinking before I speak.  It means remembering that just because I don't want to or feel like [whatever] doesn't mean everyone else is feeling the same way.

He will climb any stool left in his reach!

By dinner time today I was propping my eyelids open with toothoicks.  Walking took conscious effort.  I messaged Daniel hopeful but doubtful that he would be home for dinner (his work is like every dam and retaining wall broke loose).  He confirmed he was still out for a while yet.  As I stood there chopping a quick salad to go with stuffed shells from the freezer, I honestly didn't know how I could stay awake for 3 more hours let alone care for 4 other people.  So... I prayed.  I don't remember what I prayed but it was basically "Lord, I can't do this alone.  I need You to supply what I need in order to make it."

When I was serving up everyone's food it dawned on me.  Everyone helped get the table ready for supper.  Everyone was sitting with good attitudes.  No one was whining or bickering because "she X, Y or Z-ing and I don't like it."  The girls were speaking kindly and politely.  They had ALL gotten their own cups of water WITHOUT me telling or reminding them.  The entire meal was pretty much this way.  God was giving me what I needed in that moment to make it through.  He didn't put a huge burst of energy into my body.  He didn't suddenly remove the exhausted, aching discomforts in my body.  He didn't fast forward time so we were all suddenly through the evening and tucked into bed asleep.  He did a simple thing I could have easily missed: He gave me 4 cheerful, content, helpful children who ate like champions.  After dinner He gave me an out of the blue idea for how I could sit on the couch with my feet up... and direct a "workout session" for the girls on the living room rug.  They loved it!  (Silas was enamored to hold my phone and crawl around and sit beside me on the couch.) He gave me girls who asked to get into their pajamas as soon as dinner was over (I didn't need to tell them).  He gave me girls that brushed their own teeth while I put Silas to bed.  He gave me a girl who didn't complain once when I reminded her of our (newish) rule that if her blankie isn't on her bed at bedtime, she goes without it.  And now He has given me a quiet house as I prop my feet up.

God is so good and provides above and beyond anything we could think or ask.  I could have asked for specifics and then chosen to be disgruntled when He didn't answer to the T of my request.  However, when I asked just to get through, He provided perfectly as He always does (it is often our desires and ideas of "perfectly" that are skewed).  It is rare that a single-parent evening goes this smoothly for me, especially when single parenting happens multiple days in a row.  (Hmm... do I need to learn from this??)

So... just be encouraged and reminded that sometimes just asking without being specific is all we need to do.

Now I am going to go slather my aching legs with some essential oils and crawl in bed.  The bedroom make-over will resume tomorrow.  After I get some sleep.  The next step is putting all the furniture back.  Perhaps I will eat Wheaties for breakfast, haha!!


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Weekly Menu Plan, the "We are BUSY" version!!

I will admit, it was tempting to just skip a menu plan for this week.  When I look at the calendar for this week, I have to take a deep breath and know it's all going to be ok.  Just because we've had a few weeks of normalcy doesn't mean we've escaped weeks that are hectic and crazy.  I'm trying hard to embrace a "we can do this and do it sanely" approach.

You probably already know that we homeschool, and in our state we are required to do end of year testing and turn in the test restults to our county school board.  I'm totally fine with that.  We have a wonderful group of homeschoolers in our church and each spring we have a few ladies that organize a testing week for all of us that wish to participate.  We get together and our kiddos test together by grade.  This week we have testing Monday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings. This means we are gone 3 mornings, all morning, and I need to be VERY proactive to get us out the door much earlier than usual.  The sensible side of me (not the wimpy side of me) knows that for us to leave on time, all the wheels must be well greased and everything ready to be set in motion.  "To fail to plan is to plan to fail" doesn't sound so exciting after all.

That said, some of our breakfasts will probably be eaten on the road, and they need to be speedy-prep-friendly.  Our lunches will be any combo of leftovers or sandwiches, and a few of our dinners will be easy-peasy as well because we also have a variety of doctor appointments this week... of course!!! When it rains, it obviously pours. :)  (Hooray for grace for every moment!!)

Without further ado, here is this week's menu plan:

Sunday:
Breakfast - freezer french toast for everyone else, ham/provolone sandwich for me
Lunch - sandwiches
Dinner - A hodge-podge breakfast for dinner that consisted of waffles, apple crisp with yogurt, the last 5 strips of bacon from an open package that needed eaten, and the rest of the leftover sausage/sweet potato dish I made last week.

Monday: Testing all morning and then I'm getting together with a few other MOPS moms  late afternoon and evening to do some major freezer cooking.
Breakfast - scrambled eggs and ham, toast
Dinner (Daniel will be home with the kids) - Stuffed Shells (freezer) and Italian Cheese Bread. I might put together a salad, not sure yet how time will work out.

Tuesday: Testing all morning, Susannah has 2 doctor appointments in the afternoon so Daniel will be home in the afternoon and I won't be home to make dinner.
Breakfast - Strawberry Muffins, Yogurt (Silas will get a muffin and fruit/yogurt pouch)
Dinner - Chicken & Dumplings (freezer, crockpot meal), this was one thing I didn't get made on last week's menu.

Wednesday: HOME!! Woohoo!!
Breafkast - Oatemeal with fruit
Dinner - Chicken & Rice Casserole (that I'll actually be home to make!), vegetable

Thursday: EARLY appt for me (glucose test, meh), Daniel takes the kids to Testing
Breakfast - Muffins & Yogurt
Dinner - Leftovers

Friday: Office Day/Kids at Grandma's
Breakfast - Cottage Cheese Eggs, Toast
Dinner - Whatever I find in the fridge

Saturday:
Breakfast - Cereal
Dinner - TBD

Really sadly (to me), I am on an egg sabbatical.  Every so often (as in, this might be the 3rd time in nearly 14 years?) I randomly get excema from eating eggs or foods made with lots of eggs.  Recently it broke out all over my jaw, cheeks, neck and the backs of my hands.  I have never had excema on either of those areas before, so it took me nearly 3 weeks of misery to figure out it was eggs.  I have missed eggs SOOOO much this week!!!  I love eggs for breakfast and life doesn't seem complete without eggs.  Especially as I am nearly in the 3rd Trimester of this pregnancy, I get hungry and eggs with breakfast or a few scrambled eggs as a 4th meal were a go-to that really satisfied my hunger.  I am still trying to find "that food" that will have the same filling satisfaction.  I'm also hoping and praying that by the time the baby is born I will be able to eat eggs again at least in moderation.  I don't remember how long of a break I have had to take in the past.

All that to say, my breakfasts are more time consuming and challenging right now.  Instead of being able to throw some eggs in the skillet when I'm needing a quick breakfast... well, I'm not sure what I'm going to do!   Currently my plan is to just make time to make a decent breakfast for myself so I'm not pigging out on carbs (which leave me feeling hungry too soon, and then the cycle continues).  This past week I ate mostly spinach or brussels sprouts sauteed with onion and ham or Aidell's sausage.  Enough of all of those ingredients plus a piece of toast seems to work, but takes a few minutes.  Oh well, it is a season and I am grateful that it is such a temporary trial.  I'm also very thankful that all of the horrible, horrible itching I was experiencing has such an easy "fix".

If you have any protein packed, filling, stick to your ribs, hungry pregnant mama, breakfast ideas, please let me know!!!! I might thank you.  :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Menu Plan for Family of 6 (April 8)

I love menu planning for a week at a time, but I don't do it as much as I would like.  Which then, of course, leaves me flying by the seat of my pants.  I have to think about it from the time I wake up until I decide what I'm going to make, and sometimes I don't have the time to think, or don't decide, until later on in the day which leaves me rushed or having to make "fast" food.

Sunday night after everyone was in bed I sat down with 2 cookbooks, my own and the one from our church, and made a menu plan.

Sunday
Breakfast: Freezer French Toast
Dinner: Frozen Pizza and Salad

Monday
Breakfast: Blueberry Streusal Coffee Cake*, Sausage & Sweet Potato fry*, Strawberries
Dinner: Chicken with Artichoke Hearts & Mushrooms, Pasta, Broccoli
*portions of what I made to take to our MOPS meeting

Chicken with Artichokes & Mushrooms

Tuesday: 
Breakfast: Leftover Oatmeal with Bananas and Maple Syrup
Dinner: Stuffed Peppers Casserole, Zucchini

Wednesday:
Breakfast: Eggs, Biscuits, Fruit
Dinner on the way to church: Chicken Nuggets, Fruit, Chips
Snack after we get home from church: Yogurt with Applesauce

Thursday:
Breakfast: French Toast, Sausage Patties
Dinner: Pickle Roast, Mashed Potatoes, vegetable

Friday:
Breakfast: Eggs, Toast
Dinner: Kids at Grandma's, I usually work on leftovers or whatever is easy to find in the fridge

Saturday:
Breakfast: Cold Cereal
Dinner: Chicken Dumplings (freezer meal)

~~~

This past Saturday night, after all the kids were in bed, I spent a while in the kitchen frying up 2 big loaves of French bread into French Toast.  I had cleared WalMart's marked-down bread shelf several weeks ago on a rare trip to WalMart, and stuck all the bread into the freezer.  It was several loaves, maybe as many as 8, (ranging from $.25 - $.59 ea).  We have used a couple as garlic bread to go with Italian meals, but the majority I wanted to make into French Toast for the freezer.  It makes a yummy, quick breakfast when you reheat the slices in the toaster (our toaster has a "frozen" setting which really helps it thaw, heat evenly, and crisp up just perfectly). 

Monday's dinner is a new recipe.  In the mood for something "different" I browsed the church cookbook's Main Dishes section and found this recipe which works out perfectly because I have some fresh mushrooms that REALLY need used, and a can of artichoke hearts in the cupboard from a while ago.  I just hadn't taken the time to find a recipe for the artichokes (I like to use them in meals from time to time). 

Wednesday night dinners are far from my favorite, but we make it work.  We have to leave at 6pm to get to our Wednesday church activities which, if I wanted it to, could really throw a wrench in my dinner plans.  So... I had to figure out a solution outside the box.  Right now what is working is that most Wednesdays we have frozen chicken nuggets (that I buy on sale at Costco), fruit of some kind, and a salty, crunchy something.  Right now it is the individual baggies of chips from the huge variety box Costco sells.  If I don't have fresh fruit, the girls usually get an applesauce pouch.

Our Thursday night roast. :)  Susannah has been asking for a pickle juice roast for a long time, and I finally have enough pickle juice saved to fill her request.  I simply put the roast in the crockpot, and pour a jar of pickle juice over it for the seasoning.  I have used dill pickle juice in the past, but the most recent was made with juice from bread & butter pickles and they REALLY liked that.  This week's pickle roast will be a Bread & Butter roast.

Our lunches are always sandwiches or leftovers, sometimes on Sundays we will pick up lunch from CookOut if it is going to be late till we get home from church.  I usually let the girls have a snack at some point each afternoon. Sometimes it is a cookie and piece of fruit, sometimes a graham cracker with peanut butter, or occasionally a small amount of dry cereal, some pretzals, or animal crackers.

And that's the plan for this week!