The Thankfullest Thursday

This morning began with a slightly rainy Thanksgiving 5-mile run with our six “big kids” and my sister’s family and a few friends. If you had told me a couple of years ago that I would ever voluntarily leave my home at 8 am on Thanksgiving morning to run 5 miles in the rain, I’m not sure I would have believed you. And yet, amazingly, we all did, and enjoyed it as well! I still have a bit of a love-hate relationship with running, but increasingly the love is winning. I love the energy I have for my kids now, the feeling of pushing myself to do something hard, the fresh air and time to think. I’m not sure I will ever be the marathon (or even half-marathon) type, but I’ve settled into a happy little groove with running, and I’m thankful for that.

I’m thankful for kids that willingly helped peel sweet potatoes even after running five miles in the rain, and for my mama who watched the rest of the gang at home this morning and had all the regular potatoes peeled before we even got back.

Thanksgiving dinner was smaller this year without our usual out-of-state cousins, but it was joyful nonetheless.

I’m thankful to be surrounded on all sides by family who truly see our children for the blessings they are, no matter how many come along.

I’m thankful for laughter and fun as we draw near the end of the stangest year of all of our lives.

(These were our “serious Puritan faces”, about which it was said, “Mommy’s serious face looks silly, but Daddy’s looks real!” Truth.)

Above all, I am thankful for the God who has given all of these good gifts. He becomes realer and truer to me the longer I live and walk with Him, and this year has been no exception. Happy Thanksgiving!

Routine and Refreshment

We are now over two months into our new school year with everyone home, and a good six weeks into a full load of necessary therapies. By God’s grace, everything is fitting!

When Delia’s ABA therapy abruptly ended on March 13th, we had no idea that it would be seven months until they reopened for home visits. This time has been tougher on Delia than anyone else in our family. While she certainly didn’t mind the break, after a couple months of limited accountability and engagement, the cracks began to show. She retreated into herself and spent her days engaging as little as we would let her get away with over the summer. It was time to get back to business.

The day after I emailed to say that we would be willing to drive (almost an hour each way) to the therapy center for one session a week, they called me to say they had just reopened for home visits. Delia is now receiving 12 hours a week of much-needed therapy, all without interrupting anyone else’s school day. Although there has definitely been an adjustment period for her, it has been an incredible blessing to get back to this with her.

Lewis and Teddy are currently (as in, right now as I type this!) receiving private speech therapy twice a week, which is significantly more than they received in school. I’m excited to see how far they will go with this more intense, customized therapy. They are both bright and enthusiastic, and they love coming here. Also, I get an hour to myself in my car, which is just… ahhhh….

Everyone else is doing well, too. Pippa and Ro are both almost completely independent with their school, in 11th and 9th grades respectively. Pippa is also learning to drive and preparing to take the SATs in the spring, and Ro is working on editing the 470-page fantasy novel she wrote mostly during quarantine. Niko, Bea, and Junie (and Delia, when she’s available) are in “Trevor’s class” leading about the history of science this year, while I am teaching early American history to the younger set: Coraline, Annis, Teddy, and Lewis. After lunch we try to have some structured reading and math time for the kiddos that are less-self-directed. Everyone is making progress in their own way. Annis, 6, has become a great little reader and spends much of her time writing little stories. If I don’t keep an eye on her, actual school work can sometimes slip off her radar from time to time.

Annis has now written six books in her series “Annis’s Concerns”. She absolutely cracks us up.

Verity, 4, has been learning her letters and numbers, and Freya, 2, is talking up a storm and slowly getting the hang of potty training. Milo, 4 months!, continues to be a delicious little smoosh who makes everyone around him feel happy.

About a month ago, we got to have a wonderful week long break as a family. We began with 3 nights of tent camping with a few other homeschooling families. Trevor find himself unexpectedly in charge of leading a couple of hikes for a larger than usual number of kids. He seems to be a bit of a pied piper! All lost and wandering children were eventually found and returned to their parents ūüôā

We spent the next three nights, just the fifteen of us, in a delightful little rental house in a state park. The first full day was rainy, which was just perfect. Trevor took a small but intrepid contingent on a very wet home, while most of us stayed home reading, crocheting, doing crossword puzzles (so addictive! I had no idea!) and sipping tea. The next day was beautiful, so we explored some of the local attractions, including Gravity Hill, where objects, including our 15-passenger van, appear to roll uphill! We were unconvinced at first, but the second location we tried certainly did what it said on the tin!

The final leg of our trip saw us at the Weavers’ homestead in central PA. It was cold camping for most of the kids, but Trevor and I and the little ones were fortunate enough to get a spot inside the house. It was the perfect end to a perfect week, a familiar home away from home with dear friends.

As we enter this season of thankfulness, I find myself having more to be thankful for than I can even put into words. Life is good right now. We seem to be, for the moment, finding that perfect balance of busy-ness and calm. I’m so aware that this season of still having little ones and also having everyone all under one roof will be over before I know it, and I am savoring every moment.

On Naming Milo

It occurred to me in thinking about how to share Milo’s name story that I have only ever told you half of each of our name stories. Since we have never (except with Freya, by accident) found out what we were having before the birth, we have had to choose a boy name as well as a girl name for each one. Some have asked me if we’ve kept the same “boy name” in reserve for all of our babies. I wish I could tell you it was that simple. In fact, the boy half of the name story has almost always been the more dramatic and contentious, and this time was no exception.

So let me start you at the very beginning of our naming journey. Pippa would have been Miles had she been a boy. And that was probably the last time we agreed easily on a boy name. For Ro, Bea, and June, we remained gridlocked until the bitter end, me pushing for the nickname Gus with any and every full name option under the sun, and Trevor loving Barnaby.

By the time we were naming Coraline’s boy alter ego, there were a few more names on the table, but we had kind of settled into a routine of not taking the boy name discussions quite as seriously as the girl ones. In fact, Trevor admitted after she was born that he didn’t really like the name he had agreed to (Felix) but was sure enough that it wouldn’t matter that he was willing to risk it.

And so it went with them all until this pregnancy, which definitely felt (boyishly) different to both of us.

For almost all of our children, the one guiding force in naming them has been the honor name. We have gotten more creative with this over the years, and we have increasingly been trying to name each baby after more than one person as it has seemed increasingly likely to be our last baby. (See: Freya Poppy, who was named after her grandad Peter GodFREY, and her POP-pop.)

This time we hoped to honor as many of the three remaining great-grandfathers as possible. Teddy’s middle name, Merit, was my maternal grandfather’s middle, which left my father’s father (Harvey Asa Gilbert) and Trevor’s two grandfathers (Peter Young and William Munro). Remarkably, we came up several girl combos that successfully nodded to all three!

There was much brainstorming on the boy front. Names were dissected and reattached in every possible way, and early on a namey friend suggested Walter as a combo of William and Peter. I loved it, especially because Walter was one of my favorite characters in the Anne of Green Gables series.

Very early in the pregnancy, we had a scare that sent us to the emergency room. I thought I was likely losing the baby. I asked Trevor if he’d be up for one last name discussion while we were waiting in the ER, and he happily obliged. It was then that I first suggested Walter, which we both really liked and strongly considered as a first name. Thankfully, we saw a happy little heartbeat that night, and all continued to be well. And there were many, MANY more name discussions.

I know you will believe me that this name-obsessed girl exhausted every possible way to honor all three grandfathers, but at the end of the day, after fifteen years, I really still just wanted a Gus. By about the halfway point, we abandoned all the name acrobatics and agreed on a combo from my original list that only honored one of the grandfathers, but it got me my Gus. With that settled, I stuck a pin in it and focused on girl names for a few months.

I’m not sure what shifted in Trevor’s mind about two months before Milo was born, but he suddenly seemed to realize that the baby might actually be a boy and that he needed to pay more attention to the boy name situation. On closer scrutiny, he didn’t think he could live with the name we’d chosen. I may or may not have cried. Pregnancy hormones and all.

We avoided the subject for a couple weeks, but time was short, so we needed to get back on the horse. I sent Trevor back to my original list of five or so boy names I had written down (the same one that HE had chosen our first option from, I might add).

He chose Milo, and happily, I realized it was my favorite of the remaining names, too. I loved the simplicity of a name that needed no nickname, no explanations, no engineering to get all the pieces to fit. I loved that Milo, the Latin form of Miles, took us right back to the beginning of our boy name story and the name that Pippa would have been. Our name style has changed over the years, but apparently not that much!

Milo’s middle name honors his Daddy’s two grandfathers and will always remind me of that night in the ER when I thought I was losing him and had him graciously given back to me.

Onesie compliments of his gran and grandad in England.

And that is how the Youngs name a boy completely from scratch. I told you there would be drama!

(If anyone is curious and has a LOT of free time, I’ll link the other name stories here. Maybe get yourself a nice cup of coffee first! Pippa, Romilly, Beatrix and Juniper share one post here. Then click each name to read stories for Coraline, Niko, Delia, Annis, Lewis, Verity, Teddy, and Freya.

How He Came

A caveat: I record my birth stories mainly for my own memory (because I never think I’ll forget, but I do) and also for people out there who just enjoy birth stories. (I do!) So, it’s long and it’s probably more detailed than it needs to be, but hey, now you’ve been warned ūüôā

I had very high hopes for Milo’s birth. Freya’s pregnancy and delivery were rough (you can read her birth story here), but this pregnancy had been so different. I started the pregnancy 35 lbs lighter and had eaten well and exercised right till the end. My blood pressure had not been an issue, my blood sugars were beautiful. I passed all of my geriatric mom hurdles with flying colors and felt like quite the star patient of my new midwife office (my beloved Barbara retired a couple months after Freya was born).

That is, until my 38 week appointment. My blood pressure was only a little bit high, but high enough that they ordered bloodwork to check for preeclampsia (nope) and told me to keep an eye on my BP at home. I was told to call if it got higher than 145/95 (either top or bottom number reaching those thresholds). At home, it behaved nicely for the next couple days.

Two days later at a routine non-stress test to monitor baby’s heart rate and movement, my BP was 140/86. She rechecked me a few minutes later and the systolic was 142. Both were below my threshold, so I wasn’t worried, but I could tell the nurse was. She consulted the doctor and then delivered the news I was hoping not to hear this time: I needed to be induced for high blood pressure. Again. Despite all my healthy eating and exercising. I wasn’t going to get to labor naturally at home in my bath tub and get to the hospital just in time like the good old days.

I shed a few tears at the sudden change of plans and at the realization that I wasn’t going to get to pack my own hospital bag or kiss my babies goodbye before embarking on this ordeal. Then I rallied, called Trevor, and drove myself to the other side of the hospital to check myself into labor and delivery.

Once I was settled in my air-conditioned room with lovely nurses chatting with me, I began to remember some of the benefits of an induction. No parenting between contractions, no playing the when-is-it-time-to-go-in game (which always happens awkwardly in the middle of the night!). Just a comfortable room with a TV and some extended date time with Trevor.

I was swabbed for COVID (negative!), which was not as terrible as I had feared, although the swab was certainly long enough to reach right into my brain! I was pleasantly distracted from getting my IV inserted by the nurse on my left by having to list all my children’s birth dates for the nurse on my right. I breathed a sigh of relief once all that was done, and when Trevor arrived a couple hours later with Chick-fil-A, I felt excited to get started on having a baby.

My midwife (Kerith was my midwife for that first afternoon, isn’t that a beautiful name?!) suggested skipping the first medication I had had with Freya’s induction (cervadil) since I was already very slightly dilated, and starting with a stronger oral med (cytotec). I remarked happily (but mostly kiddingly) to Trevor that that should mean a 12-hour-shorter labor!

I felt mild contractions from the cytotec, but I was still mostly able to sleep through that first night, and when I woke up I had progressed from 1 to 2 cm. We started pitocin that morning at around 10. I was allowed to eat breakfast since things weren’t super far along yet. (And since I had told every nurse and midwife since we arrived on Wednesday afternoon not to expect a baby before Friday based on my previous labors!)

That day was mostly spent passing the time in between very noticeable but manageable contractions. We watched some TV, played on our phones, chatted. I even crocheted a little. Around 3 we video chatted with the kids, and I was still able to fake smile through contractions well enough to fool all but the most observant. We thought maybe we’d chat again later that evening.

I skipped lunch in favor of some snacks, but by dinner time I was hungry and still only 3 cm as of my most recent check, so they let me eat a proper meal.

After dinner I settled into some hard, strong, regular contractions that felt like they were really doing something. There was no way I was going to have that second video call with the kids. I put on some music and got into my zone for an hour or two. Trevor and I both sensed that things were getting close, but then…

At 7pm, the shifts changed. A new midwife (Pat) and the nurse team from the previous night (Lisa and Taylor) came in in a flurry of activity and introduced themselves . We picked up that there were several other moms close to delivering (including two sets of twin moms!) and something in me seemed to switch off. It wasn’t my turn yet.

My contractions spaced out a bit and became less intense. For a while I didn’t mind the break. Trevor took a nap in my bed while I labored in a chair. But by the time midnight rolled around and nothing much was happening, I was frustrated and ready to make some progress again.

Pat the midwife checked me, and I was 7 cm. Those hard contractions had been doing something after all! But at this point, my body wasn’t responding as well to the pitocin any more. We both remembered from Freya’s labor that the pitocin receptors get used up after too many hours of pitocin and they need to be flushed in order for the body to respond properly again. (I was skeptical of this last time, but apparently it is a real thing!) The midwife suggested switching it off completely at 1 am and switching it back on at 2 to have a baby.

At this point, although my contractions were weak, they felt like transition contractions, like it was *almost* go time. I agreed to the switch-off plan, but secretly thought my labor might just keep ticking along. It didn’t! With the pitocin off, I had two or three more weak contractions, and then absolutely nothing.

I’m not quite sure why, but this made me feel panicked. Like, that the baby might be trying to be born, but we had just switched off the vehicle that could make it happen. It was so strange to feel so close to giving birth and then suddenly be not at all in labor. We called Pat back into the room, and she listened to my concerns and hooked me back up to the monitor.

She reassured me that baby was fine, and we restarted pitocin at a little after 2am as planned.

They set me at a low dose, so although the contractions again felt *almost* like pushing contractions, they were sometimes ten or more minutes apart, intense but not quite strong enough to push with. It was a strange part of labor to be stuck at. With every contraction, she asked if I felt the urge to push. “I don’t know. Sort of?”

We also saw during this time that baby’s heart rate was dropping during contractions, which I don’t remember ever happening with my previous births (although for most of them I wasn’t hooked up to continuous monitoring.) It scared me, and I remember thinking (wishing, maybe?) that I might at any moment be whisked away for a c-section. I felt that my labor was never going to end, and at the same time, my old familiar fear of pushing haunted me.

Finally, at around 4, Pat suggested breaking my water. She really thought that would progress things quickly and I’d have my baby in no time. I think she was more nervous about the heart decelerations than she let on, and I am thankful in hindsight for her good poker face.

This was when things got exciting. I was lying on my side in my (state of the art, fancy, convertible, just-for-giving-birth-in) bed when she broke my water, which was the position I fully expected to give birth in. This was at 4:41 am.

On my very next contraction, I felt the familiar urge to push that had eluded me for so long. Suddenly Pat sprang into action, frantically instructing the nurses to remove the bottom part of the bed and raise the whole bed up, so she could deliver the baby without bending down (bad back, apparently). Just moments later on the second contraction, I was pushing and there was no stopping me.

Some of the events here I am only aware of because Trevor told me afterwards, but we have now pieced together enough of Milo’s actual birth to perform a very entertaining reenactment using our living room chair with the ottoman playing the part of the removable piece of the delivery bed.

I was lying on the crack of the removable piece when Pat ordered it to be dropped out from under me, so I scrambled (while giving birth, remember!) to scooch myself backwards onto the part of the bed that was staying put, while holding onto the arm supports for dear life. Then Pat told the nurses to raise the foot supports and get my legs up. I have never liked this position and vehemently told them no. The nurse on my left listened to me and stopped, but the one on my right kept trying to get my leg up.

Meanwhile, baby! Pat was desperately trying to encourage me to slow down and not push so hard, but I saw my window of escape and I was not to be reasoned with. I hated the pushing, but I knew it meant the end and my baby.

Milo came flying into the world on a moving table, caught (Trevor says rather precariously, midflight) by a very surprised midwife who apparently didn’t really expect breaking my water to work quite so quickly. He arrived at 4:53 AM, 12 minutes after my water was broken and exactly 12 hours to the minute later than the time Freya was born, just as I had predicted.

There was an immediate chorus of “it’s a boy!” I laughed and cried and thanked Jesus aloud and possibly even quoted some Scripture. Although we had both really felt strongly that he might be a boy, hearing those words still came as such a complete shock. Trevor was very quiet and serious for a while after he was born (I discovered later that this mainly because he had just watched them nearly drop first me and then Milo on the floor, and maybe only a little bit because we had actually had a boy this time.) Meanwhile I was raised as high as the bed would go to receive the couple of stitches I needed. I’m sure I was about four feet off the ground. I do believe we saw this magical bed perform just about every function in its repertoire!

Despite a rather frantic few moments at the end, I truly loved the team that brought Milo into the world. In the aftermath of his birth, the room was aglow with warm laughter and chatting and excitement. A nurse from a previous shift even stopped by to show me the prediction she had jotted down on a napkin the day before: “male”!

He latched on well right away, and we had a long sweet cuddle before they borrowed him to clean and weigh him. I know it didn’t feel it at the time (maybe it never does?) but I look back on his birth already with such fondness. It wasn’t the birth I thought I wanted, but it was just the right story for him.

For This Child I Prayed

“For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him.”

1 Samuel 1:27 ESV

Friends, if you have been reading here for a while, you will understand the gravity of what I am about to say:

We had a BOY!

It is with joy and a little bit of awe that I introduce to you…

Milo Walter Young

Born 7/3/20 at 4:53 am,

weighing 6 lbs 13 oz.

I want to be very clear here that we have never been “trying for the boy”. We have boys, and they are wonderful! And we have always been overjoyed to welcome each of our girls. Like, no disappointment EVER!

But around the time we found out Freya was a girl, although I was so excited for her, I did have a sense that, at my age, I might never get to experience having a baby boy (which would have been fine!)

But in that moment (and quite a few after it), I lifted up an uncharacteristically specific prayer to God, that if there were to be any more babies, I would really love a boy.

When Milo was placed on my chest, I wept in praise of a God who not only faithfully meets my every need, but even extravagantly hears and answers prayers from the deep (and perhaps frivolous!) desires of my heart. Pippa told me after he was born that she was adding this to her list of “God is real” moments. He certainly is!

“The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.”

Psalm 16:6 ESV

Baby Fever

As I type this we are two days from entering the “green phase” of finding our new post-pandemic normal. We have cautiously begun having small gatherings, and soon we will be able to gather for church and other events together. It’s been a weird time, these three months, but there have been many unexpected blessings. Time at home without appointments and distractions from family life has actually been lovely, especially since we finished school a couple weeks ago. While I have missed seeing the people I love face to face (so much!), I can’t say I have missed the rigorous pace of therapies and appointments that we usually have to keep.

Can you spot my incredibly talented sister Chelsea in my row of blondies?

In the midst of these strange times, we welcomed a new niece and cousin into our family! A little over a week past her due date (which is not nearly as tardy and stubborn as her mama was!), Brooke May made her grand debut. We are all so smitten.

*****

Hello, Jodi from mid July here! The above was a draft from June that never got finished. I will publish it for the sake of continuity, but stay tuned for more big news soon!

Youngs in Quarantine

Apparently, Newton invented calculus while under quarantine. Shakespeare wrote King Lear. Painters painted and writers wrote very famous things. I think my legacy from this plague of ours shall be that I kept 12 (and a half!) children alive and fed while THEY did some pretty cool things with all their extra free time. As for me, I’m kind of just getting through the day most of the time!

Coraline just finished reading The Lord of the Rings. The whole trilogy. I realize reading a classic is not quite the same as writing one, but she is only eight. When I attempted to slog through it in high school I only made it halfway through the second book!

Bea has adopted a sour dough starter and taken up a new baking hobby with great zeal. We are all very thankful beneficiaries!

Ro has been asking me nearly every day when she’s finished her school work, for as long as I can remember, “Mom, can I type?”. I almost always say yes, though I never really knew quite what she was up to. It turns out that right under my nose she has written some 162 pages of a fantasy novel! She hasn’t let me read it yet (even though I gave birth to her), but my mom has read it and seems very impressed. I’ll let you know when it goes to print ūüėČ

And of course, there has been So. Much. Crocheting! I’ve started checking before they start a new project to make sure they have a home in mind for it that isn’t mine, but we are getting overrun here.

A dinosaur I don’t remember the name of, by Niko.
A little poof chair (with a little person inside!) by Juniper.
Doll by Bea.
White Stallion by Juniper. Yes, it’s really crocheted.
Dragon by Romilly

Pippa especially has been using her crochet skills to try to bless others (for which I and my limited toy storage space thank her!). I especially love this little lady for a nurse friend of ours who is on the frontlines working with COVID patients.

The boys are continuing to do well at home. We are surviving “distance learning” and very happy to have them here with us. They are working on new skills, too.

Lewis completed this puzzle with very little help!
Everyone learning the Macarena at our wedding line dance themed dance party ūüôā

And there! Now I’ve written a blog post, so I’m not being completely unproductive after all ūüôā

Joy and peace to you in these uncertain times!

Babies, and COVID, and Praising God!

It’s been almost a year since I told you all I would start blogging more regularly. Man makes plans, and God laughs! It has been a whirlwind of a year, and I have started several posts and abandoned them in the busy-ness of life and in circumstances that change faster than I can blog about them.

But now, it doesn’t make sense to blog about anything other than THE SITUATION AT HAND: this strange thing that has affected every corner of the world and is changing every aspect of how we do life.

But first, some happy updates. I began a post back in November to tell you that my baby sister, the one who had just gotten married, is expecting her first baby! Before I even had a chance to finish that post, though, I discovered that we are also expecting again (and you know how that always makes the blog go quiet for a while!)

I am 26 1/2 weeks pregnant as I type this, and I am still in awe that I should be given this honor and privilege once again at my age. To get to share it with my sister is a joy I could never have dreamed of.

This has been my healthiest pregnancy since my 20s, thanks in large part to the eating plan I had just begun when I posted last April, the Trim Healthy Mama Plan. I am quite evangelical about it, but that is a topic for another post if people want to hear more. We also began running as a family (not usually in a huge horde, just a couple at a time!) last August using the Couch 2 5K program. We all ran our first 5K in November (I may have also told you about that in THE POST THAT NEVER WAS), and I am proud to say I am still running 5k at least once a week even at 6 months pregnant. But maybe not for much longer… the weather’s rapidly warming up these days! After Freya’s slightly scary pregnancy, I knew I needed to make changes for the sake of all these little people I am responsible for. The Lord has been so kind in this area, and I am thankful that my blood pressure, cholesterols, and weight are all in healthy ranges now.

Now, this pandemic. We are all safe and well! I do wonder if there may come a time when this thing affects us much more profoundly than it has so far, but it does feel pretty profound already.

March 13th was the day everything stopped. The boys have now been home from school for almost 4 weeks. Delia has not had her ABA therapy in that time. There have been no church, no AWANA, no trips to Pop-pop’s house. No visits with friends, no adoption support group. All of my usual chances to catch my breath were stripped away in an instant. For the first two weeks, I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. I was impatient with the kids, and every little thing made me cry (or at least feel like crying). The thought of carrying on like this for WHO KNOWS HOW LONG felt overwhelming… impossible even!

By God’s grace, things have gotten better! Instead of dwelling in the hard of this (because, as I have said through tears dozens of times to my mom and Trevor, “Everything is fine! Nothing is wrong!”), I want to share some wonderful praises:

  • Did I mention we are all healthy? It is so easy to get caught up in all that we have lost in this ordeal. It *feels* like a loss of freedom. But I am daily more aware of how much more others have lost. This thing is frightening. People are dying. I am thankful for those going to work every day while we are free to stay home and stay safe.
  • Our needs are completely met. Trevor is still working. Also, because my mom works at a grocery store, we have been able to get all of our essentials despite food limits which have been challenging to other families our size (or, you know, near our size!)
  • The boys are doing SO WELL at home!. I mean, like, I-might-just-homeschool-them-next-year well. We had an initial adjustment period of about a week as we learned to all be home together every day, but since then, I have enjoyed Lewis and Teddy more than I have in so long. They have relaxed back into our family. They smile at us more, give hugs more freely, even share better than they did when they were at school every day. We are doing a bit of school work after lunch most days and they love it! (Unlike homework time, which was often rather a struggle, even though it was exactly the same worksheets we’re doing now!) On Monday we begin official mandatory distance learning, which I think will be harder. You can pray for that, including for this die-hard homeschool mama’s attitude, which is not currently awesome about the whole thing.

I hope this update finds you all safe and well, and clinging to the One who is not surprised by any of it. I know my good days are the ones when I manage to remember that.

I will really try to be back soon this time. Really, really!

Finding Joy

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, then you know that this has been a rather intense… well, DECADE for our family. ¬† We have added a new child every single year since 2011, and even before that (as strangers would tell me almost daily) I had my hands full. ¬†There was a good bit of thriving, but on the whole there was a lot of survival mode going on.

A few things have shifted recently. ¬†I now have two teenaged daughters who can ¬†stay home and even help with babysitting so that we don’t ALL have to go to ALL THE THINGS. ¬† Also, (can you believe?) Teddy has been home almost two years, and there is no new adoption in the pipeline. ¬†I don’t think I realized how time- and mental-energy-consuming all the adoption processes were until we emerged from them!

Freya’s birth also knocked the wind out of me a bit. ¬†I am pleased to say (thanks in part to an herbal supplement called ¬†Ivy’s Mukta Vati) that my blood pressure is well under control now, and I am finally off my meds for that.

Our new addition for 2019 will be neither a baby nor an adopted child, but my mom! We are so excited to welcome her into our (new!) home this summer. ¬†She has long wanted to be able to help me more than she currently can living a half hour away, and I have long needed the help. ¬†We ¬†also really like each other, so it’s win-win!. Of course, ¬†we realize there will be hard things about sharing space (even a lot of it!), but we are prepared to face them and excited for this to be a positive change for all of us.

It feels like we have now entered a period of stabilization. ¬†I’ve been addressing things that had fallen off the radar over the past couple years (Delia finally had a sedated dental exam after years of not cooperating with the dentist, and guess what? ¬†Not one cavity!). I’m even beginning to remember things I used to do just for fun. ¬†I’ve found some new ones, too!

Here are a few things I’ve been doing lately that make me smile:

1. Crocheting.  I had never really stopped doing it, but the projects had gotten progressively smaller and rarer.  In February and March, the kids and I participated in a mystery crochet-along to make these beautiful dolls.  Just because!

I’ve also embarked on a year long crocheting challenge to make each of the kids a birthday gift that they draw for me. ¬†They’ve drawn me some doozies, but it’s been so fun!

 

2. Photobooking. ¬†I discovered Shutterfly right around the time that I accepted the fact I would never be a real scrapbooker. ¬†I have always made a first year book this way for each of the babies/kids, but recently I’ve gotten more ambitious with this hobby. ¬†I’ve found ways to combine deals to make the books more affordable, and I’ve begun going back into the archives of our photos to make books of all of our many memories. ¬†I am pleased to say, after 19 years of marriage, that I finally have a wedding album. ¬†Trevor even got a baby book of himself for his 40th birthday!

3. My sister’s wedding. ¬†The big girls and I had such fun planning my sister’s surprise shower. ¬†Her bridesmaids were wonderful and it was a joy to get together with them to plan and conspire. ¬†The big day is in June, which means, next on my agenda: the speech!

 

 

4. Reading the Bible. ¬†I joined some ladies from church way back in September in a school-year-long journey through the whole Bible. ¬†The pace is intense (about six chapters a day with Sundays off and occasional catch-up days), but it’s been so good that I’m already excited to do it again next year. ¬†It never ceases to amaze me how you can read the Bible your whole life and always find something new.

5. Reading in general. I’ve gotten back into the habit of reading a tiny bit most nights just before going to sleep. ¬†It isn’t much, but over the course of six months or so I managed to get through the whole Anne of Green Gables series for the first time. ¬†I felt like they were written just for me, and yet I somehow never discovered them until my forties! ¬†Trevor is reading them now that I’m finished. ¬†I catch him reading them in bed and alternately giggling and tearing up. ¬†I think we’re both getting sappier in our old age!

6. This baby!  Oh, what a joy our sweet Freya Poppy is to us each day.  She is full of life and smiles and personality.  Nine months old already!

I’m dabbling in some other new things, too. ¬†I’m just sticking my little toe in the water of some long-needed health changes, and I plan to take up blogging, too, so watch this space!

Freya’s Birth Story

Our sweet newbie turned three months old this week.  Already!

It has taken me a while to feel ready to write down her birth story, because it was really a rather stressful birth. ¬†Not traumatic, I wouldn’t say, but almost.

As you might remember, Trevor and four of the kids were in England just before Freya was born.  I had felt peaceful about letting them go, because although my blood pressure was high-ish, we had ruled out other symptoms of preeclampsia.

Thursday, July 19

I made it through just over a week of their 10-day trip with my blood pressure more or less behaving, despite the uncomfortably hot and humid July weather and the fact that my dad was working on giving our house a new roof and a lick of paint that week. Then on the Thursday before the Saturday they were due home, I had my regularly scheduled midwife appointment.  My BP was high that afternoon, and Barbara sent me straight to triage.

At first I was confident that I would have the same lack of preeclampsia symptoms I had had the previous week and be sent home, but something in the way the nurses were talking seemed a little different this time.

Now that I was past 37-weeks and considered full-term, they explained, there was really no reason to wait around for my high blood pressure to get any worse or turn into preeclampsia. ¬†They wanted to keep me and begin inducing me THAT NIGHT. ¬†At this I started crying (apparently crying is NOT good for one’s blood pressure) and explaining that my husband was in England and couldn’t they please PLEASE just wait 48 hours???

I am so thankful that that evening in triage I had a Christian nurse named Melinda who was like a hilarious little angel. ¬†She kept me distracted by cracking jokes and fussing over my kids’ names (you all know this is my love language!). She even prayed over my urine sample before it went to the lab! ¬†I really believe if it hadn’t been for her calming effect on me, things could have ended up very differently.

In the end, my midwife and the doctor on call agreed that things weren’t so urgent that we couldn’t wait for Trevor to get home. ¬†I was sent home, exhausted and relieved, with orders to return at 5PM on Sunday for an induction. ¬†I also had to check my blood pressure at home and call if it got out of hand.

Friday-Saturday, July 20-21

Friday was Delia’s birthday. ¬†My dad was wrapping things up at the house and my stepmother Debbiecame over to visit. ¬†Seeing how much I was stressing myself out by trying not to be stressed out, she asked if she could take the kids back to their house. ¬†I happily accepted her offer, although I still feel a little sad that I never got a chance to sing Happy Birthday to Delia that day.

My best friend Mary then took me to her lovely air-conditioned home for a movie followed by dinner out.  It was just what the doctor ordered.

On Saturday, the gang got back from England. ¬†“A sight for sore eyes” doesn’t begin to describe it!

We had one night all together in our own beds before the fun began…

Sunday, July 22

After church on Sunday we scrambled around unpacking and repacking. ¬†We set off¬†mid-afternoon¬†to drop the kids off at my mom’s and head to the hospital for our induction. ¬†Before we were on the road five minutes I had to brake suddenly and the van began making a decidedly not-good noise. ¬†I called Trevor, and he met me and switched cars with me. ¬†He limped along on slow roads while I waited and prayed at my mom’s house, but he got there! (My wonderful dad got it repaired for us while I was in the hospital.)

We arrived at the hospital about an hour late, having been told that there was no real rush anyway. ¬†And there wasn’t!

I changed into my gown, and they started my IV. And then we waited.  And waited.  And waited some more.  My friend Jessi came to visit and hang out, since she was only in town for a couple more days and since absolutely NOTHING was happening.

At 9 pm they finally inserted some medicine to begin to soften things up.  I was told that my body was as unready to give birth as it could possibly be, so we prepared ourselves for a long process.

Monday, July 23

I woke up still feeling absolutely nothing happening, and sure enough, I had made almost no progress overnight. Since I was still not even dilated enough to begin pitocin, I was given another dose of cervadil.

For most of the day I still had no real contractions to speak of.  We watched a couple movies, and by late afternoon/early evening, I was dilated enough to start a very low dose of pitocin.

Naturally the contractions got intense just about the time they began telling me to turn off the lights and try to get some rest.  I was definitely NOT going to sleep through these contractions, so I accepted the offer of a shot of stadol to help me sleep.

And help me sleep it did!  I felt like I was going to melt right into my hospital bed, and I was aware of nothing until about 1 or 2 am when it wore off.  I could tell the contractions had been continuing to work while I slept, and they were intense again by then, so I asked for another dose to get me through till morning.

Tuesday, July 24Freya’s Birthday!

When they checked me in the morning, I had made some definite dilation progress, but my contractions had died down.  They were mild and about ten minutes apart.  I was excited to get started on a proper dose of pitocin to really get the party started.

Meanwhile, my midwife, Barbara had left to deliver another baby overnight and had then gone home to rest. The nurses and the staff midwife were just about to increase my pitocin without her, when she called in to tell them to turn off my pitocin completely.

What on Earth?! Just when I was finally ready to get down to the business of having my baby???  We followed orders, but I felt defeated.  I cried.  I whined to my nurse, and she completely sympathized with my frustration.  She said we would switch off the pitocin for two hours, then get started, with or without Barbara.  That was a plan I could live with.

Around noon, Barbara came in. ¬†She explained that she had not, as I thought, simply switched off my labor so she could take a nap. ¬† ¬†She was allowing time to flush the pitocin receptors in my body so that they would be ¬†able to receive the next dose. ¬†She apologized that that hadn’t been made clear to me, and we got things going.

I ¬†quickly settled into a good rhythm of strong contractions while we watched a couple episodes of Friends (which was sadly not as good as I remembered it being!). I was coping well, but also thinking in the back of my mind that now would be the time to get an epidural if I wanted one. ¬†And I kind of did, but I didn’t get it, because, well, I didn’t need it yet. ¬†But sure enough, I missed my window. ¬†I think epidurals are just not meant for me.

At 2pm I was 5cm, which may not sound like much, but it is a magic number for me after which my labors go very quickly.

At about 3pm Barbara broke my water, which I knew would make things suddenly much harder. ¬†(Incidentally, this was the first time I’d ever had my water broken. It had broken on its own mid-labor with Pippa and Coraline, more or less as I was giving birth with Ro, Bea, Junie and Annis, and well before contractions started with Verity.)

Sometime after 4pm I went to the bathroom and felt the beginnings of the urge to push while sitting on the toilet.  I had Trevor call Barbara in, knowing the main event was at hand.

This is the part of labor when I completely fall apart and lose any sense of composure or decorum. Every time.  I became totally fear-stricken, and of course, it was too late for the epidural.

Through my tears and panic, I asked Trevor to pray. ¬†(I wouldn’t have remembered this detail except that Barbara reminded me of it at my postpartum check-up, which was kind of her, since it was probably the only moment of my established labor when I behaved with any semblance of dignity.).

He prayed, and I rallied, and then I pushed.  As always, it only took about two contractions and quite a bit of tearing and she was in my arms.  And she was perfect, and the world was perfect.  She was born at 4:53 pm weighing 7lbs even.  I was exactly 38 weeks that day.

We both cried, which I don’t remember us ever doing before, but the whole thing had felt like such an ordeal, and then there she was, and it was all worth it.

Unfortunately, my blood pressure did not get the memo that I wasn’t pregnant anymore and continued to stay elevated. ¬†I went home on medication, and I’m still on it now.

The week that followed was a whirlwind.  We came home on the Thursday, and Uncle Adrian arrived for a visit on Friday night.  (Remember, when we had planned all these things we thought I was having a baby in September, August at the earliest.  Oops!)

That Sunday night saw us back in the ER with my blood pressure so high I was sure they were going to readmit me, but I dodged a bullet and got sent home on an increased dose of my new medicine.  Having babies in your forties is no joke!

I really feel like things have only just begun to settle down in the last few weeks. School is back up and running.  Trevor has started a crazy new rotating shift schedule at work, but we are slowly finding our groove.  Life is busy, but good, and we are thankful.