Monday, September 17, 2018

August 2018 In Our Home

Family tea time!
 Family Updates
Hello, Mr. Emerson!
      Welcome, baby #4! Phew, the wait this month was agonizing! I was so ready to move on to meeting this new little one. I had to continuously remind myself to set my expectations back to the due date as the last two babies were born around their due dates. I wrote an entire post on his arrival. I'm still in awe to have yet another sweet baby in my arms!

Projects
     It's been a project-full month! The motivation to continuously work on projects while waiting for baby #4 has been strong. This month we:
     - Completed getting everything onto the garage shelves and out of the floor. It's nice to have both cars in the garage now!
Living room shelves are hung and decorated! How'd I do?
     - Prepped two school units for tot school and preschool
     - Created a felt board and a few activities for it
     - Hosted our co-op which included creating several theme activities
     - Decorated our living room shelves
     - Worked on the many, many photobooks that are in progress (family yearbooks, pregnancy journals, and school books)
      I've found these creative outlets to have such an impact. As a creative kind of person, there is a need to be creative in some capacity. There has been a greater sense of livelihood to my being through these little projects. I so often allow such endeavors to fall to the wayside in favor of the many practical needs of a day. However, I really want to begin giving them a greater priority. I'm not sure how I'll do that with a newborn, but I believe it's important to find a way. I believe this one simple act is one way to maintain oneself while also being fully immersed in the roles of mama and homemaker. 

Reading
     -(finished) Am I Messing Up My Kids by Lysa TerKeurst
"I'm hiding in the forest!"
 Imaginative play is a beautiful thing!
           This is the second book I've read by this author. I wasn't impressed at all with the other book I had read, but decided to give her another chance. I picked this book up at the big library sale recently, so figured I wasn't out much if it wasn't great. Unfortunately, my thoughts of this book were similar to the other book I had read. The title and chapter titles are excellent, and lead me to believe the chapter contents would be as well. However, I found the chapters to be severely lacking. It was painfully surface-level in thought. So much more could have been done with those headings and topics. I found maybe a line or two in each chapter to underline or otherwise note. I also didn't care for some of her story examples. Some seemed to make minor situations more grandiose. Others seemed to show a more materialistic perspective. There were stories that began with complaints about granite countertops, shortened trip to Disney (that was provided for by a conference), and a suggestion to create a basket of favorite items and then thanking God for his blessings of them to you. From a faith standpoint, I personally prefer a less prosperity-driven viewpoint. In essence, I didn't think the book was very strong in theology or thought. 
      On a more positive note,  the book was written in a very conversational tone and was broken up into short chapters. I could easily read several chapters in one sitting (which is usually pretty brief!). So, it was nice to be able to start and finish a book rather quickly. 
       All in all, it just didn't resonate with me personally, I suppose. To each his own, though, because online ratings and reviews are high for the book.  

     -(finished) Adventures in Missing the Point
      From the back of the book :
Daddy and Annelise getting some quality
 time in the kitchen. Creating something in the
 kitchen is one of the children's favorite activities!
How the Culture-Controlled Church Neutered the Gospel If you’re brave enough to take an honest look at the issues facing the culture–controlled church―and the issues in your own life―read on. Do you ever look at how the Christian faith is being lived out in the new millennium and wonder if we’re not doing what we’re supposed to be doing? That we still haven’t quite “gotten it”? That we’ve missed the point regarding many important issues? It’s understandable if we’ve relied on what we’ve been told to believe or what’s widely accepted by the Christian community. But if we truly turned a constructive, critical eye toward our beliefs and vigorously questioned them and their origins, where would we find ourselves? Best-selling authors Brian McLaren and Tony Campolo invite you to do just that. Join them on an adventure―one that’s about uncovering and naming faulty conclusions, suppositions, and assumptions about the Christian faith. In Adventures in Missing the Point, the authors take turns addressing how we’ve missed the point on crucial topics such as: salvation, the Bible, being postmodern, worship, homosexuality, truth, and many more.
       I don't believe I could write a better summary. The book is excellent. I enjoy that it presents a different perspective to common issues, and will make you think. I believe it's wise to periodically examine what you believe and why. This book will certainly prompt a lot of thought and discussion. (I frequently would finish a chapter and then be eager to tell my husband all about it!). I highly recommend this book!

Homeschool
     We haven't done as much school time activities this month as we've been in baby prep mode. I've put more energy and effort towards maintaining the house than usual knowing that I wouldn't want whoever comes to help with the older children to walk into a mess. This is all part of the transition time of having a new baby, and we'll once again find our groove for including more school time activities.
     Co-op this month was a bit of an abbreviated calendar. We attended one gathering hosted by another family. She (as always!) did a fantastic job with a color theme. We then hosted the next week with an ice cream theme. There was another gathering hosting by another mama that was a planned field trip to the vet. We decided to take a break for the month of September as several families, including us, would be unavailable. We'll resume in October, and we're all excited for some fall theme units!
Homeschooling photobook in progress!
     One fun new project I've begun in relation to our homeschool is the creation of photobooks! I had been saving all the paperwork aspects that the children made and made notes regarding our activities. The folder was getting rather full and we still have a long way to go in our curriculum sets! It then occurred to me to create a photobook! I record all our activities on one side and the other side contains photos and scanned copies of their work. I love it! It will be so nice to be able to look back on these books each year and see the work accomplished and moments enjoyed together! (I love photobooks!)

Personal Growth & Parenting
     I experienced a moment of awakening this month. After speaking with someone potentially at the end of their life, I came to a fuller awareness of just how important it is to be intentional in life, especially with regards to relationships. Quality relationships require intentionality. They won't simply form and/or exist on their own. It all depends on the quality and quantity of investment made. It all depends on the choices we make in life. This interaction prompted a lot of thought and change within me. I believe we may look upon the choices or life of another, not in a condemning way, but in a way of extracting wisdom for ourselves. We can determine to not repeat the poor choices that led to a poor outcome. We can choose to live life a little differently.
Huxley playing in the sprinklers!
With so many super hot days, we've
 thoroughly enjoyed the sprinkler!
      I've thought considerably on the quality of our home and family. What is the state of the relationships between my children and I? How do they see me? Are their hearts assured of my love? What messages, both positive and negative, might I be conveying to them?
     I've contemplated on areas in which I may be conveying a flip and flop message of love/hate and presence/absense to my children. My heart breaks for every instance in which I see more clearly the connection between us broken. Yes, I'm often so very exhausted, overwhelmed and stressed. However, I still have a great responsibility to instill in them a sense of family, and for home and family to be good things in life. I want them to have close relationships with their family, to always find comfort in home, and to simply live unburdened and happy (at least from a family perspective). So, what am I doing to help or hinder that outcome? Am I emotionally reacting to their reactions? Or, am I adding calm to their moments of chaos? Am I using words which will build them up, even in moments of correction? Or am I carelessly using words that cut and scar them? As Peggy O'Mara said, "The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice." I fully agree.
      I've long desired a greater gentleness and steadiness to my motherhood, but have gone astray during the challenges of this pregnancy. The recent conversation has prompted a realignment of my focus to my ideals. I feel as though this journey to gentle is an uphill climb, but it's one that is well worth traveling and enduring. These little lives entrusted to me are far too important to be careless.
      I've begun being more conscientious of my reactions. I wish to respond versus react. I'll remind myself to pause and teach. Soften and slow my voice instead of raise it. Instruct instead of correct. Connect often. Smile and embrace often. Offer words of praise. 

         The conversation also provided me an opportunity to voice support for the blessing of children. His perspective of them as burdens saddens me greatly as I feel he's missing out on an aspect of life that adds such richness. Yes, life with young children can be very exhausting, stressful and overwhelming. Yes, there are a lot of sacrifices that must be made. No, you probably won't get to do and live according to your own desires. However, I see these "sacrifices" as good things! It's good to learn to be more selfless. It's good to learn to see beyond ourselves to see the importance and value of others! The children won't always be so young. Life won't always be just as it is at this moment. What a misfortune to miss the joy of life with these four unique people for my own momentary desires or conveniences! I'd rather have a busy, chaotic home full of people than a silent, empty home to myself any day!

Looking Ahead
      September will be all about adjusting to life with all four children. It still seems astonishing to me that we will have four children four years old and under. David will take two week's of vacation to help at home, and then his parents will be coming in to help out for about a week. Then, it will be Mama plus the four littles each day! I'm sure we'll be spending most of our time simply figuring out ways to occupy everyone, get everything done in a day, and how to manage the various aspects of a day according to everyone's needs (naptimes, feeding times etc.). It's all part of the adventure!

Friday, August 31, 2018

Baby 4 Pregnancy Journal: Birth Story

   

Nice to (finally) meet you, Emerson!
We're so excited to have you be apart of our family!

There's something remarkable about an
entire person being within. I said that
I was amazed how a being so big
could fit inside. David responded, "Well,
he kind of hung out on a cliff for the last month or two."
 hahahaha. So true! 
      This pregnancy was the longest and hardest one yet. It felt as though I'd been pregnant for longer than just nine months as the difficulties seemed to stretch time. By the end, I was beyond ready to meet this little one. He didn't seem to be in agreement as we saw the due date come and go. Then, the next day and the next. At 40 weeks 3 days, it appeared as though we would finally be meeting our "baby 4!"

     I woke around 2am on Saturday (Aug. 25th) to what I assumed was just the baby moving. At that point, all movements and positions were so very, very uncomfortable. But, then this discomfort struck me as a little different. I returned to bed only to lie there and observe before I finally told David that I wasn't sure if what I was feeling was just the baby moving. The pains were coming so frequently that we decided to go ahead and get up to get ready. (We had been rather fearful of labor being quick like the previous one). We sent out a text to all who had offered to come watch the older children. But, we received no replies. We decided to allow more time before actually calling and surely waking someone. By 5 am, the contractions seemed to stall. Fortunately, we hadn't woken anyone and we decided to just go back to sleep for the remainder of the time that the children would sleep for the night (which was only about an hour or two).

     For the remainder of the morning, I felt a contraction about once an hour. At that frequency, I began to doubt I was feeling actual contractions. In between moments I felt fine and thought I might just be feeling the baby shift positions. Then, one would hit and I thought it was a contraction indicating we were in the early stage of labor. My thoughts went back and forth like that for the entire morning. I had never stalled or proceeded so slowly before! But, just in case we might be in labor we decided to make the most of our morning together. We enjoyed pancakes for breakfast, went for a walk around the neighborhood, and then played with the children at a park. I'm so very glad we spent our time together in such a way!

    By the afternoon the contractions were still spaced about an hour apart. We decided to try to get things cleaned up and prepared at the house as much as possible. I began to be convinced just a little more that we actually were in labor (but still not 100%) as the contractions suddenly moved to about 30 minutes apart. By 4:30pm, I was convinced enough to send out a second message to ask for someone to come to watch the older children. Fortunately, one of the mamas and her son in our homeschool co-op group came within 30 minutes. Then, we headed off to the hospital!

     When we arrived, I was still thinking I could be mistaken. But, then a contraction hit and I waddled my way inside. I was evaluated and determined to be at a 5 already. There would be no going back, we were going to have a baby!

    After the all-natural experience of the last baby's birth, I decided that I definitely wanted an epidural this time. That epidural proved to be tricky. The anesthesiologist attempted three times and finally got the line in the third time. The tears streamed down as the ordeal was so painful. I kept thinking of the faces of my older three children and imagining the new baby to come. As awful as it was to get that line in I knew it paled in comparison to contractions especially towards the end. I was grateful to not be feeling the pain of contractions. 

     By midnight, I was ready to deliver the baby. Since it was during the night and a weekend, I had the on call ob hospitalist instead of my regular ob. (We knew at the appointment the Monday prior that she would be unavailable Thursday through Sunday, and if we delivered during that time we'd have whoever the on-call doctor was. She assured us that everyone would do a vbac. And so, we accepted the possibility and decided to just wait instead of induce sooner). I didn't see the on-call doctor much because it took just four pushes for the baby to be born. The nurses began encouraging a couple of practice pushes, but then quickly called the doctor in.  Then, the words I had been waiting for... "it's a BOY!" The level of relief following his delivery was immense. I was relieved for such a difficult time of pregnancy to be over and relieved for the labor and delivery to be over. I was in complete awe as I held him against me. I couldn't believe we had another child, and there he was. He was incredible, and I was filled with absolute joy. 
1 day old!
(I happened to catch him mid-yawn,
but it looked like he was smiling!)

     By 5 am we were finally moved to the "Mothercare" portion of the floor. It was 5:30am before David and I were finally able to get a little rest. (We had started the day around 3am on Sat., and with the exception of a couple hours of nap, we had been up for nearly 24 hours!). The rest was brief as the day soon began with the need for David to get back to the older children. This time around the baby and I were able to have a nice long stay. We got to the hospital on Saturday evening and were discharged Tuesday morning. The extra time and extra help was wonderful. The nursing staff was phenomenal. They were so very helpful. I was able to simply rest and recover. David brought the older children to visit in the afternoons. He also brought some gifts the children picked out and mini cupcakes for us all to celebrate Emerson's birthday. As I enjoyed the time as a now family of six, I believe I fell in love with my family all over again at that time. 

     Of all the deliveries, this fourth delivery was probably the smoothest. (Well, the labor was long but the delivery was quick.). The epidural was painful, but afterwards the remainder of the labor and delivery was calm and gentle. There was less physical stress (ie I wasn't passing out during or after labor) nor was there as much injury to myself this time around with the epidural. I've now had a pretty good variety of delivery approaches. The first delivery was an emergency c-section (prematurely). The second was a fully induced vbac with an epidural. The third was all-natural vbac. The fourth was a vbac with epidural. Regardless of delivery method, my I'm so very grateful for this new little life! 

A few more photos:
"Hey Daddy, what's in there?"
Huxley is so intrigued by the new baby.
He loves to hold him and bring him things.
He's my first one of his age to be so engaged with a new baby.
Their going to be good buddies!
All the children love their new sibling!
They are all so eager to hold him!
Going home! 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

IT'S A...

It's a BOY!



Introducing 

Emerson Phillip R. 

Born August 26, 2018 at 12:23 a.m.
7 lbs. 13 oz. and 21 in. 



(Birth story to come)
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