The Unique Arrival of Verity Laine

As her half birthday draws nigh(!), I have finally gotten around to recording the lengthy tale of Verity’s birth.  Although I try not to make my birth stories too explicit for delicate readers, I will warn you that there was some… interesting stuff this time.   Here’s how it all went down:

Sunday, October 2:

I woke up to a sensation of wetness… but not that much.  We went about our morning routine and got ready for church, but a couple of times when I stood up I felt a tiny gush… or did I?

We went to church, and I called the midwife after lunch, just to run it by her.  “I’m not convinced your water broke,” she said.  “It just doesn’t sound like enough fluid. When’s your next appointment?”  “Tomorrow,” I told her.  She’d just check me then, to be sure.

Monday, October 3:

Theraplay in the morning. Paige came with me for company, and she brought me coffee. It was shaping up to be a pretty good day.  I was still feeling slightly leaky, but figured I’d find out what the deal was at my appointment.

After lunch, my dear friend Bonnie offered to watch the gang so I could go to my appointment by myself.  This would prove to be a much bigger commitment that she originally bargained for.  Bea came with me, just for some Mommy time.

Midwife Francesca almost didn’t check me for amniotic fluid, based on my description of how things were going, but she decided to play it safe.  There were three tests: the pH test was positive (amniotic fluid is alkaline), there was  some visible fluid (pooling) but not much, but when she looked at the dried sample under a microscope, she did not see the fern-like pattern she would expect.  All things considered, she was leaning towards thinking I had sprung a small leak.  She decided to hook me up to a non-stress test and check me again in an hour.  At this point, I had already been there or about an hour, so I called Bonnie to update.

About halfway through my hour hooked up to the monitor, my water sprung a bigger leak.  There was now no denying we were in baby mode.  That was to be the “official” time of water breaking, but I know it was really early, early Sunday morning.

Since we were still hoping for a birth center or home birth at this point, Francesca sprang into action with a new-to-me labor-inducing technique.  Apparently, a foley catheter can be used to buy you 3 centimeters of dilation. You can read more about the technique here, if you want, but suffice it to say I had to drive home with a tube draining amniotic fluid all over the place and a lot of extra padding.

By the time I got home, with a recipe for a castor oil root beer float in hand (which I never did use), Bea and I had been gone for some three hours.  Trevor would be getting home soon, and it was dinner time.  Bonnie called her husband, our assistant pastor at the time, and asked him to pick up four pizzas for us and head on over.

By the time Josh and the pizza came I was having some contractions.  They weren’t that impressive, but often enough that I was hopeful I’d manage to dodge the castor oil bullet.

Josh and Bonnie and their two kids pizza-ed with us and hung out for a while, but all the while I was sure things were heading in a nice, steady babyward direction.

We got the kids to bed, and I labored on.  I tried to sleep but couldn’t, spent some time in the bath, but eventually woke Trevor to help me assess.  After an hour of strong contractions five minutes apart, we called midwife Francesca.  She told us she could “be there in 45 minutes,” so we got off the phone excited to be gaving our third homebirth, a detail that hadn’t been nailed down previously because some of the nurses are not trained for homebirths.

Francesca called us back about ten minutes later to say that by “there” she had actually meant the birth center.  We were very glad she clarified!

I called my mom, who got to our house as quickly as she could, and we were on our way.  We arrived at the birth center (where Annis had been born) at around 5 AM on Tuesday morning.

Tuesday, October 4:

Though my contractions had decidedly lost some of their oomph on the drive over and I was only at 4 cm, we were all certain that walking around would kick them back into gear in no time.  We were optimistic that I’d have the baby long before Francesca’s shift ended at 9 am, what, with this being my seventh baby and all.

So I walked and walked and walked.  I took some homeopathic remedies to unscare my labor.  I walked some more.  My contractions were 7…, 8…,10 minutes apart and not that impressive.  At the end of Francesca’s shift I was still 4 cm, and very apologetic for getting her up at 4am.

I paced around the birthing suite ALL DAY LONG with midwife Barbara (who delivered Junie and Coraline).  She tried some different homeopathic remedies, swept my membranes, sent us outside for a more vigorous walk, and eventually just let me nap for a while.

By 11 pm I was still just 4.5cm, despite some 30 hours of painful-but-too-far-apart contractions, and I felt utterly defeated.

It had now been way too long since my water had broken for anyone’s comfort, and I felt peaceful in making the decision to transfer to the hospital for some pitocin to help get my labor into gear.

Despite knowing it was what had to happen, I cried all the way to the hospital (through contractions that had suddenly decided to come quite powerfully every four minutes, by the way!). I told Trevor I wanted an epidural, maybe even a c-section, and I meant it.  I felt like my body had betrayed me and forgotten how to have a baby, and I was done.

The change of scenery and new faces at the hospital did me some good.  They gave me some slipper socks, and I found a good comfy chair to labor in.  They blew two veins before they managed to get my IV in, and this sent me back to the brink of despair for a few moments, but then I rallied.

Wednesday, October 5:

Barbara started me with just faintest whiff of pitocin at about 2 am, and it was enough to remind my body how to have a baby.  The nurse turned it up one time, and I asked if we could leave it there.  I could tell it was working, and quickly, but it wasn’t unbearable like I remembered pitocin being when I had it with Pippa’s delivery.

By about 3:30, I called for Barbara.  It was showtime.

I have been increasingly fearful about the pushing stage of labor for the last several babies, but this time was different.  I was so very weary of being in labor that the prospect of being done won out over my fear.  I was actually almost excited to push.  Excited to finally meet this new person.

Barbara tried to help me get my knees up and encouraged me not to scream, but to bear down instead, but I ignored all of these instructions, as I always do (earning myself, as usual, a few stitches afterwards).  I kicked my legs free of the nurses and let out a few final primal screams, and she was born at 3:52 am.

The 36 hours of labor was forgotten (indeed, to the nurses at the hospital, who had only seen the final three, I was some kind of birthing hero!) and there was our girl.  Perfect, amazing, mine.

The nurse asked her name, and Trevor bestowed it. Verity.  7 lbs 14 oz.  21 inches.  Very like her oldest sister, but so much her own little self.

Because of how long my water had been broken and the risk of infection, we had to stay in the hospital until Friday, which was a very different experience for me.  The first night felt like a welcome getaway, but the second I felt more like a prisoner.  In hindsight, the forced rest made it one of my fastest and easiest recoveries, and I thank God for knowing better than I did what I needed.

A New Little Blessing

Meet Verity Laine Young!

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She arrived at 3:52 am on Wednesday morning, October 5, weighing 7 lbs 14 oz, 21 inches long.  I’m sorry I am so late in getting the news out.  That’s because (spoiler for the birth story post!) we just got home from the hospital yesterday!

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We are all completely in love and enjoying getting to know her.  I’ll be back soon to tell you more about her name and her unusual (for us) arrival into the world!

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One More Bit of News

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Can you spot the new family member in the above photo?

How about in this one?

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Little Young number ten will be joining us in October sometime!  We had our “big ultrasound” today, and everything looked wonderful with baby.  We are so excited to meet him or her (you know, probably her) and so thankful that God has blessed us this way again!

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If it weren’t for the crispness in the morning air these days, I wouldn’t be able to believe that it’s already been half a year since our sweet Annis Octavia was born.

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Oh, how we all adore this little girl!  She wakes up happy and goes back to bed happy when it’s time, and she’s happy most of the time in between (as long as we get her to her bed when she needs it – she’s not big on napping on the go!)  She is full of coos and happy little squeals and loves to reach out and give me a sweet little touch on the cheek just to say, “Mommy, I just love you so much.  You’re the best.”  She is just <insert weight after check-up in two weeks> lbs of pure baby deliciousness.

And speaking of delicious…

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Six months old is a special time in our home.

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A time to try something new and a bit puzzling:

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Food!

Annis’s verdict on her first few mouthfuls of pureed oatmeal was, on the whole, pretty neutral.  But give her a few months and a few new tastes to try, and we’re pretty sure she’ll plump up nicely like her sisters have before her.

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She is getting close to commando crawling and continues to love being on her tummy, just anywhere but on the blanket where we put her.  We have only just started trying to encourage her to sit up, so although this photo looks impressive, the 10 seconds it took to capture it were probably the longest she’s ever stayed up for.

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We are so thankful to have this precious blessing in our family.  Happy half birthday, baby girl!

 

Two New Girls Update

A few new things about this happy girl:

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  • She is potty-training!!!  I had consciously put this issue on the back burner when Delia first came home, knowing how contentious it can be even with well-adjusted, well-bonded little ones.  The thought of adding bodily functions to an already long list of things Delia and I didn’t see eye-to-eye on seemed unwise, so we waited.  It turns out, she doesn’t like being in poopy diapers (indeed, who would?) any more than we like changing them!  Now that she knows there’s a chocolate chip or two in it for her, she has been coming to me and signing “potty” with reasonable consistency for the past month or so.  There are still accidents, but most of them involve me not being able to help her quickly enough because I’m nursing the baby or similar.  There have been plenty of days when I have not had to change poopy diapers at all, and you cannot even begin to imagine what a lovely change that makes to my days.  We haven’t had as much success with going “number one” yet, but I think once we may be venturing into training panties soon and ditching the diapers.  Watch this space!
  • Delia had her speech therapy evaluation and is now on a waiting list for speech services.  I was pleasantly surprised by her evaluation report.  Having been labeled “non-verbal” in all of her reports from her home country, we have been thrilled with her attempts to communicate, especially using sign, and the evaluation reflected all her hard work.  It placed her at an age equivalent of 1 year 8 months for expressive communication, but at 2 years for auditory comprehension.  We are excited to see how therapy (and even some of the activities we have to do with her while we wait for therapy to start) will help her to blossom even more.

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  • Delia is getting glasses!  As part of her initial International Adoption Clinic evaluation, it was suggested that we should have a proper eye exam performed.  Our pediatrician also agreed this would be worth doing at some point, but there was never any rush, as it seemed her unusual use of her eyes was primarily a behavioral/neurological issue.  Well, we were wrong!  Delia does in fact have astigmatism in both eyes; glasses should significantly improve her vision.  The ophthalmologist believes this will really help her to be able to focus on books and other activities that she has so far shown very little interest in.  Another exciting prospect.  Here’s hoping we can actually get her to wear them!

Our other newbie continues to be sparkly and sweet and bring joy to all of our hearts:

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  • As little Annis approached her 4 month check-up, I had a nagging concern that she might be following in Coraline’s footsteps and veering off the growth chart toward the scrawny side (Don’t laugh!  That was really a thing for a while!).  I was relieved to find that, although she is on the petite side at 12 lbs 1 oz, she has a firm grip on the weight chart at the 17th percentile.  I may or may not have nursed her in the waiting room right before weighing her even though she had just been fed at home.

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  • We still have no idea what color her eyes are going to be! Our initial guess was that they were darkening and heading for brown, and this is still our pediatrician’s guess, but they are definitely lighter than our other brown-eyed girls’ eyes were at this age.  They are a dark gray around the outside with hazelish flecks in the middle.  I don’t think they’ll be blue, for sure.  Whatever they are, they are lovely to gaze into, and this continues to be one of my favorite passtimes for the hour or so after the other kids are in bed each night.

We are so very blessed to have both of these precious girls in our lives!

Annis’s Arrival: Part 2

Continued from here

When Sarah checked me, I was a disappointing 4 cm.  While she busied herself checking my vitals and getting settled in, it felt an eternity was passing between contractions.  The car ride and transition to a new location had scared my labor off a bit.  I could feel Trevor’s “I told you so” penetrating silently through the room.

I apologized, and Sarah reassured me that we’d give it some time and, worse case scenario, if I wasn’t progressing she would break my water and I’d “have the baby within 20 minutes”.  Either way, she said, I’d go home with a baby.  The thought of having my water broken scared me, and I set my mind to do everything in my power to avoid it.  Sarah started my IV, and I got walking.

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Midwife Sarah

I’m convinced I have a fair amount of control over how quickly this stage of my labor goes.  My strong preference is to spend the part when the contractions are really hard either in a nice comfy chair holding on for dear life or in the bath, both of which most certainly slow labor down.  This was not a luxury I could afford under threat of having my water broken (such a pity to waste the gorgeous jacuzzi tub in our birthing suite, though!).  I was going to have to work to get this baby out in a timely manner.

I spent the next two hours pacing the floor back and forth between our little bedroom and the kitchen/living area where Sarah and nurse Jeannie had stationed themselves.  My contractions fairly quickly got themselves back into a good regular pattern, and in between I alternated between making small talk with Sarah and Jeannie and poking Trevor, who was fast asleep sitting up in the bed where I was about to deliver our baby.  (Always good for him to get his rest so he’s ready for the big moment.)

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Nurse Jeannie.

By about 5 AM I could feel that my contractions were different, a little pressure-y.  By 5:30, Trevor had perked up and announced his prediction that I would give birth in about a half an hour.  Shortly after, Sarah checked me again and I was dilated to 8 cm.  She suggested I stay in bed at this point, and I knew at once that the hard part was imminent.

At 5:53 my water broke (hallelujah, all on its own!).  As with three of my other births (Ro, Bea, and June for anyone keeping track of such statistics), the baby was right behind.  This is what Trevor says happened next: “I don’t want to push.  Do I have to push? I’m not pushing. I’m not pushing. Oww, oww, oww, oww, OWWW!” <Head.>

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She was born at 5:58 AM (Daddy got it spot on!), beautiful and perfect like her sisters (and brother, and other sister, I’m quite sure, though I wasn’t there to see them arrive).  Trevor announced, with tremendous relief in his voice, that she was a girl (Sarah must have been relieved, too, not to have to keep her gender a secret any longer – she had accidentally found out some five months ago from my bloodwork!).  He cut her cord, and we set about getting to know our sweet new blessing.  There is just nothing like holding a tiny little person in your arms and knowing that, having only just met her, you already love her so deeply and fiercely that you can’t imagine your life without her in it.  It just never gets old.

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*   *   *   *   *

Six days later, when I arrived at the birth center for our postpartum check-up, Sarah came right out to see me.  “You’re not going to believe this,” she said. “Your bloodwork came back a couple of hours after you went home with the baby last week.  Your hemoglobin was up to 11.4!”

Totally could’ve had a homebirth.  I almost wished I didn’t know, but decided, instead, just to be thankful that we had had yet another wonderful birth experience.  And that I hadn’t given birth at the side of the turnpike!

Annis’s Arrival: Part 1

By the weekend before Annis’s birth, I was having pretty frequent practice contractions (Beatrix quote: “Mommy, how come you need to have practice contractions since you’ve already had so much babies?”).  I was fairly certain I would not be making it to my due date (For the record, she arrived 5 days early, right on schedule to follow the pattern set by our other three American-born girls: Bea was 2 days early, Junie, 3, and Coraline, 4.  I love stuff stuff like that.)

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But with my blood count still too low for a homebirth as of my last appointment (10, at this point.  Higher than the 9.9 it was, but not the 10.6 it needed to be), the question of where we’d be having the baby became even more pressing than the when.  Resigned to the likelihood of having her in a far-away, unknown hospital, I decided to remedy at least the part of the situation I had some control over.  We scheduled a tour.

On Sunday, two days before I went into labor proper, we left all seven kids with my mom and trekked 45 minutes to a lovely new hospital to join a half a dozen sets of first time parents-to-be for a tour of a beautiful new maternity ward.  Trevor told me afterwards that he was watching my face during the tour and could tell that it wasn’t doing anything at all to alleviate my concerns about having our baby there.  Highlights of our nurse tour-guide’s commentary included: “About 90% of our moms choose to have an epidural, but no one would try to make you have one.  Unless, you know, you were really going crazy with the pain, ” and “We have our own O.R. right up here.  We do lots of c-sections.”  I bit my tongue and tried really hard not to ask where the bathtub was.  There clearly was none.  Despite having had my first three babies in hospitals with no ill-effects,  it seems I have become very spoiled now, and I just couldn’t imagine laboring in a place so very unlike my cozy little home.  Plus, forty-five minutes away!

I talked to my midwife the next day and expressed my concerns to her.  “It’s far,” I said.  “It is far,” she agreed.  I love her so much for what she said next. “I think I’d feel safer delivering you at the birth center than risking you giving birth at the side of the turnpike.”  Me, too!  She said she’d talk to Sarah, the other, newer midwife in the practice about it and see what she thought.

On Tuesday, when I went for my appointment, Sarah told me that she, too, would be willing to deliver me at the birth center, just 15 minutes from home and nearly as cozy.  I had to agree to an IV and an understanding that at any sign of bleeding, meds would be given.  Also, I promised not to bleed.  Deal.  I almost decided not to have her draw my blood again to check my hemoglobin.  It seemed a done deal that I’d be delivering at the birth center, so why bother?  But a few minutes after we left I had a change of heart and Trevor drove me back.  Just in case I didn’t give birth in the next couple days, and just in case my hemoglobin went up dramatically… well, just maybe a homebirth wasn’t completely out of the question yet.

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It was warm that day (note: it snowed again yesterday, and it is currently in the low 30’s.  Where are you, Spring?), and we all walked to a park about a mile and a half away after lunch.  This seemed to kick my niggly contractions into gear for a while.  We decided to skip small group, and by 8 PM, I was contracting every 7 minutes or so, and we called my mom and asked her to come spend the night.

Then at 10 o’clock I called her back and told her not to come.  My contractions had spaced back out to every 10 or 15 minutes, and I was sure I’d be able to sleep through them and start over again the next day.

Almost as soon as I called her off, they started coming every five minutes, and with some real conviction.  Reluctantly I called her back at 11.  She was still awake, and came right over.

I was just finishing my first of only two “labor baths” (I’m pretty sure three is usually the magic number, a statistic I perhaps should have paid more attention to) when she arrived.  We chatted for a while between contractions, and I took another bath at around 1 AM.

By 2:30, I was a pretty uncomfy little girl and my mom looked a little panicked that things might go quickly, so I woke Trevor up to consult.  He was thoroughly unconvinced that it was time to spring into action, but I persuaded him that with having to actually drive somewhere we needed to make the call earlier than usual.  “You didn’t say it,” he chided me. “Fine,” I said, rolling my eyes, “‘It’s time!’ Happy?”

I called Sarah, the midwife on call, who had just put the emergency on-call phone number into my new phone for me at my appointment 12 hours earlier.  “I trust your judgment,” she said.  And she was waiting for us at the birth center when we got there at about 3:30 AM.

To be continued…

How She Came To Be Annis Octavia

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Star Anise, from www.southhillsbrewing.com

The story of Annis’s name really begins in the middle.

About seven years ago, when I was pregnant with my third girl, I ‘met’ a woman online who was expecting her eighth.  Girl.  Her girls all had lovely, classic names and she was seeking advice on naming her newbie.  In the end, our little group of name enthusiasts persuaded her that her daughter’s middle name absolutely had to be Octavia (meaning eighth child).  And so it was.

But I thought to myself way back then, if I ever had an eighth child, I would use Octavia as her first name.  It is the loveliest of lovely names, but really only suits an eighth child.  Of course, back then, that was a purely hypothetical scenario, because who has eight kids?!

I never forgot about Octavia, and when we discovered we were indeed expecting our eighth child (note: last time we were expecting, it was our fifth child.  How is that even possible?) I said to Trevor, “You know this one is Octavia, right?”  We both loved it, and for a while it seemed like it might be her name, but nothing is ever that simple with us and names.  It’s a beautiful name, but what would we call her?  We couldn’t seem to find a short form we both loved (or, to be precise: I liked several short forms and Trevor vetoed all of them) so it seemed we were back to the drawing board.

Reluctant to part with our long-beloved Octavia, we moved her to the middle and went in search of the perfect first name.  If you are familiar with our Rules, then you know that this was no simple matter.  One of the names has to be a family name, and reserving the middle slot for Octavia would force us into a Juniper configuration, with the family name first.  It was a tall order.

Complicating matters slightly (or perhaps simplifying them?  I’m not really sure…) was the fact that we didn’t really have one particular person in mind this time to honor, just a certain branch of the family tree that had been too-long-neglected.  With each of our other girls we had honored first all of their great-grandmothers and then several special great-aunts, but when you’ve already named six girls, you begin to run out of people to honor!  I asked Trevor’s mum for as thorough a list as possible of family names on her side, and then set about ‘working the list’.

I tried out female forms of male names from family tree.  I tried smooshing two names together to honor two people at once,  rearranging letters to make new names, forming nicknames out of initials.  Nothing was sticking.

Until Annis.  I was playing around with Trevor’s great-grandmother’s name Anne sometime around the halfway point of my pregnancy when I stumbled upon this lovely, ancient gem.  It is (I discovered, thanks to this blog post) actually a medieval form of Agnes that was once as common as Mary but has been out of use for at least a century.  As it happens, I have a great aunt Agnes as well, so she has a double family name pedigree!  (It also bears mentioning that Annis is pronounced like Janice without the J, since a few people have asked for clarification there.)

I pitched it to Trevor, and he loved it.  We both loved it.  So simple, so pretty, so old.  We loved the connection to the spice anise, the licorice-ness of it.  It was perfect.  We niggled a bit over the spelling, but I eventually agreed to Trevor’s favorite and he was officially sold.

We had several hours of blissful agreement before I happened to refer to it as “a family name”, to which Trevor replied, “It’s not a family name.”  I reminded him that his great-grandmother was Anne.  He said he didn’t even know that, and therefore it doesn’t count.  “Nevertheless,” I urged him, “your great-grandmother’s name was Anne, whether you knew it or not.”  Nope, not buying it.  We could still use it, he said, but we weren’t counting it as a family name.  Sigh…

This discussion, believe it or not, continued off and on for weeks (months maybe?) until we arrived at a tenuous agreement:  Annis is sort of a family name, though slightly stretchy both for being a bit too far up the family tree to be super meaningful as well as for it’s questionable tweakedness.  Octavia is also sort of a family name, since it acknowledges her special spot among her siblings.  Two sort of family names make a pretty solidly meaningful name, and that’s good enough when we both absolutely one hundred percent love a name and agree on it.  And we do.

For the record, we never did have a boys’ name this time around.

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Hello, Little One!

It’s been quiet around the blog, and that almost always means things have been anything but quiet here.

In the early morning of Wednesday, March 12, we welcomed another precious daughter into our family!

Meet our lovely Annis Octavia, who arrived 5 days early weighing 7 lbs 8 oz and 20 inches long.  We are so thrilled that she’s here!

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I will share more about her birth when I can, but know that God answered prayers once again.  Though my iron level hadn’t come up quite enough for a home birth, we were able to have her at the birth center, just fifteen minutes from home and nearly as cozy.  The delivery went very smoothly, and the only lingering concern is that my blood pressure has been slightly elevated since a bit after the birth.  Laying low seems to help, so it has been a huge blessing to have Trevor home all this week and not returning to work until Wednesday.

Thank you all for your prayers for my pregnancy and delivery.  As always, God’s plan and timing were perfect, and we are so thankful for His precious gift to our family in little Annis.

More Answered Prayers and Happy News

Thing 1:

As of my 36-week midwife appointment yesterday, baby is now, once again, HEAD DOWN!  Hallelujah!  Midwife Sarah (who always seems to have good news for me, although I am still a little mad at her for accidentally knowing the gender of our baby) thinks that at this stage, baby will probably stay put.  She also encouraged me that the fact that it is head-down now is a good indication that we could persuade it to get that way again should it have another moment of stubbornness later on.  A very happy visit all around.

If anyone happens to have stumbled onto my blog for baby flipping advice, I can’t really say for sure if anything we did worked or if baby just got its act together.  We did try the main position for the transverse lie from Spinning Babies, which involves kneeling on the sofa with your elbows on the floor.  Are you getting a mental picture here?  Yeah.  I know from a video the kids like to watch that giraffes have an intricate system of valves in their heads to keep them from exploding as they bend down to drink water.  Very impressive stuff.  I’m pretty sure now that I have no such mechanism in my head. Owwy.  In any case, baby cooperated, and it is my firm belief that it had an awful lot more to do with many prayers on my behalf and a gracious Heavenly Father who knows just how small my plate is than with my baby spinning skills.

Thing 2:

This little lady, in addition to her obvious musical talents*, has acquired a new skill over the past couple of weeks.  Being largely homebound by the weather gave her the perfect opportunity get completely potty trained!  She has now had a good week’s worth of outings to public places and friends’ houses in big girl panties and has stayed more or less completely accident-free with minimal prompting.  (I’m whispering here, but she’s even been dry at nap time!)  If it sticks she has been our easiest potty-trainee yet, and I am so thankful to have this hurdle cleared before our next diaper-wearer arrives on the scene.

* This performance is entirely to the credit of the toddler nursery staff at Faith Community Church, and not at all to mine.  We sing a lot of Jesus songs around here, but for some reason that one isn’t on our usual playlist.