Thursday, July 29, 2010

One of Those Days

My husband went back to work on Monday. The first few days were okay. Not great, but we made it through. Today, I'm not so sure we're all going to make it.

The three year old has been at his most obnoxious. The two year old is crying non-stop. At lunchtime, she was hiding in the laundry room wailing because I wasn't holding her in my lap while she ate. The little guy doesn't feel like sleeping much today and has therefore also been crying (especially when woken by screaming two year olds or prodding three year olds). The older kids are trashing the house. None of my clothes really fit. It started to rain on the clothes I had drying outside. My mother-in-law, whom I haven't seen since December, is stopping by tonight on her way through town, and I don't know whether my husband will be coming home at a normal time tonight or going to a meeting after work.

Complaining isn't obviously going to do me much good, but just in case you were wondering if life with six children is always peaceful and quiet -- it isn't. Some days do go relatively smoothly. Others -- not so much.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Still Staring at the Little Guy

He may be the sixth baby, which is definitely not quite like being the first, but I'm just as crazy about him and his funny faces.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Baby Having

Those of you squeamish types who don't want to read the gory details of having a baby, move along now.

***********************

Alrighty then, for the rest of you. Here's the story of JH's arrival into the outside world.

On Saturday evening, I had frequent, although not painful contractions. However, in my last labor I also had contractions that weren't painful, and didn't become painful until the last 17 minutes of labor and pushing. So frequent contractions alone are enough reason to be in a hospital, if I am planning to not deliver at home or in the car -- neither of which was in my birth plan -- and a good thing as it turned out.

All night long my contractions remained frequent, but irregular and not painful. When I arrived at the hospital, my doctor was on call and I had hoped to have him deliver, but as the night wore on, that looked less and less likely, since his shift ended at 7:00. However, for all I just complained about his practice, he's an awesome doctor -- and knowing that I wanted him to help me deliver, he stuck around after his shift for several more hours so that he could be there.

Anyway, back to the story. I contracted through the night, without great pain, but without great progress either. (My doctor and the nurse kept asking if I was in pain yet and seemed disappointed by my negative answers. Sadists.) I entered the hospital dilated to 4 centimeters and was only at 5 1/2 centimeters by morning. Though my fifth labor was my shortest, my sixth was the second longest (shorter only than the 25 hour marathon of my first).

At around 8:45, the doctor came in and asked again if I wanted him to break my water. I'd been resisting, because I was sure that my water not breaking until the very end was what allowed my fifth baby to arrive so easily and relatively painlessly and I was afraid breaking my water would make the baby arrive really fast and everything would get immediately horribly painful. However, by this point I was also ready to be done. I was strongly tempted to ask for an epidural before getting my water broken, but thanks to reminders from my husband and doula that I didn't really want one, I didn't do it.

With my water broken, things did pick up, but not immediately. Things didn't suddenly get crazy painful nor did contractions pile one on top of each other. They did get harder, stronger and closer together and definitely more painful as time went on. Actually, my contractions never did pile one on top of the other. They got longer and harder, but I think up to the end they stayed about 4 minutes apart (and never all that regular). I'm not sure what women in the other hospital rooms thought, but I have found during the end of labor I'm not at all quiet (I was moaning, bellowing and probably sounded like a dying cow. I am also a big whiner, alternatively complaining that there was no pain medicine they could give me and suggesting that the baby would never be born.)

The doctor checked my progress again and said I was at eight centimeters on one side and complete on the other. And then he removed his hand and my body started pushing and I remember yelling that fact out loud, "I'm pushing."

From this point on, I don't remember much except that I continued to be sure that I couldn't do it and insisting that the baby would never arrive. Also that I was having trouble focusing to push and that I pretty much let my body push down as it felt necessary. Although this part felt as if it took forever, I am told it all happened pretty quickly. I swear I was crowning for hours, but since the breaking of my water until birth was only an hour and 45 minutes, I guess that isn't true.

Eventually I remember them telling me that the head was out and to give a little push for the shoulders. They emerged just fine and I heard the news that I had another son. But then, instead of having a bright eyed newborn thrown on my chest, I remember the doctor shaking him and telling him that if he didn't perk up he couldn't come see me. I remember thinking he was terribly still and very big. I don't know exactly what was said next, but the baby was whisked to the other side of the room and a team of people surrounded him. I had nothing to do but worry and focus on the pain. I asked if he was alive and when reassured that the baby would be fine and was getting pinker by the minute -- as the doctors debated whether he got a 1 or a 2 for his first Apgar (he got a 2 because his heart beat was strong all the time) -- I asked for pain medicine, because I couldn't take any more and was getting shaky. That shot of Stadol was just what I needed.

Eventually, he came back to me, heplock in his hand and pink, too sleepy to even try nursing (but with an 8 for his second Apgar). Apparently, the trip into the outside world was too fast for a large baby boy and the squeezing action which pushes the fluid out of his lungs hadn't had time to work. Thanks to being in a hospital with a NICU team at the ready, he'd been suctioned, oxygenated and was doing fine. He was ready to go to regular care and didn't have to spend time in the actual NICU, where at 9 lbs 12 oz, he would have dwarfed the other guys.

After this point things were pretty normal. The last bit of labor without pain medicine is -- um, well, painful. I remember thinking at the time that if I ever had another child, I was scheduling a c-section. So why would I want to go through labor without pain medicine? Because afterward (even if I did need something to get me through the immediate hour after birth) recovery is so much easier. Epidurals involve catheters, numb legs and lots of swelling and discomfort. Without one, you can get up and walk. The swelling isn't bad and the general discomfort is much more manageable. I wouldn't begrudge anyone pain meds or think less of them for getting them. I've had four epidurals and two without. And in both of those without, I've spent most of transition complaining that it is too late to get an epidural. I'm certainly not superwoman. I've just found that the recovery period, which lasts longer than childbirth is better for me when I forgo the pain-free labor.

And thus baby number six arrived. With a decent labor and a scary arrival. We settled in for a day at the hospital and then came home a little over 24 hours later. His siblings are generally thrilled and fascinated by the new arrival, though since I haven't consistently been getting the two year old down for naps, evening meltdowns have come a little more frequently.

I'm still not sure how I'm going to survive life with six children. I need to get organized and I need to learn to delegate. Some how I hear one manages and gets by. We shall see.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Introducing...

John Henry made his appearance on Sunday morning, weighing in at a whopping 9 lbs 12 oz. I'll provide more details later, but for now I'll just say that I'm glad he didn't cook any longer.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Quick Takes Friday

--1--

My five year old walked in and handed me this paper this morning. I haven't exactly been the "fun mom" this summer. Okay, I'm never the fun mom, but I'm worse than usual.

--2--

At my last doctor's visit, another doctor in the practice told me that the stuff I'd been told was changing inside wasn't. That not much at all had happened really. Frustrating. I go in for another appointment today with my doctor. I hope things are more interesting this time.

I may also complain about the nursing staff, who when asked any question reply with a withering, "Have you checked the pink book we gave you?" And when told that I wanted to check something that isn't standard and/or mentioned in the book, they just refer to the book. It's not like everyone has a typical labor or that they can possibly mention everything you can or cannot take during pregnancy in one paragraph. And thus far, I have never heard one of them during this pregnancy say, "I'll check with a doctor and get back to you or if you are worried come in and we'll check it out." When I started going to this practice, it was small and I really liked the four doctors. I've recommended it a lot. Now it seems like much more of a big business with far more doctors and nurses. Hmph.

--3--

Damn you, Whole Foods, if I’d wanted to poison my baby, I’d have stayed conservative.
This essay that Robbo linked to cracked me up.

--4--

Belly shot:

You know you are huge when even your seven year old asks if it might be twins. Not that I'm bitter or anything.

--5--

My three year old was annoyed that I accompanied him to the bathroom instead of his father, so he told his two year old sister, "You stink." "I not stink!" she roundly declared. Being typically warlike and violent, she walked over and hit him. Naturally, he hit back. And the two year old walked over to me, batted her big blue eyes and declared indignantly, "He hit me!"

--6--

For reasons we are uncertain of, the two year old calls the three year old "Jo-Jo." His name contains neither J nor O.

--7--

I think I have a girl's name picked out, but not a boy's name. This practically guarantees that this baby must be a boy.

More Quick Takes to be found at Jen's place.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mmm...Bacon...

Pay no attention to the fact that I don't eat pork. This is still funny.

Lemon Squash Cake

I like lemons and I had a lot of yellow squash around. I was also going through the 9 million recipes I had ripped out of magazines or printed out from the web. I did have a lemon zucchini cake amongst them, but as I recall, I didn't like it much. I also had a recipe from a long ago Williams-Sonoma catalog for lemon bread, but it was a little weird and didn't contain any squash. Time for something new and different (although relying heavily on the recipes at hand).

Although you could use zucchini to good effect in this recipe, the yellow squash, when seeded, blends in and looks just like the lemon zest. No picky eaters ever need to know you stuck a vegetable in the cake.

Lemon Squash Cake

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
4 ounces cream cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
zest of one lemon
2 small (or 1 medium) yellow squash (unpeeled, de-seeded and shredded, with as much juice as possible squeezed out of it)

  • Allow butter, cream cheese and eggs to come to room temperature.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil and flour cake pan.
  • Whisk together flours, baking soda and salt.
  • Mix butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. Gradually, add sugar; beat until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and lemon juice.
  • Reduce mixer speed to low. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, one third at a time, mixing until just combined.
  • Fold in lemon zest and squash.
  • Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean -- about 1 hour. Cool 10 minutes, remove from pan. Cool completely and top with a sprinkle of powdered sugar.

Cute two year old is not necessary for the enjoyment of this cake. (And for those of you paying very close attention, this was her second birthday cake of the day.)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Now that that Sports Thing in South Africa is Over...

I'm not really into any sports. If I had to choose a favorite it would be baseball. I have fond memories of going to Dodger's game when I was a wee lass in Southern California. When the World Series starts, I might even watch part of a game or two.

Given that level of sports interest, I suppose no one will be particularly surprised that I managed not to watch even a minute of any of the World Cup. Soccer bores me to tears. But this article on "Why the World Cup Sucks" amused me greatly. (But take note, that there is some salty language [even more so than the title] should that disturb you).

The Privilege of Having a Birthday

Cake for breakfast!

My littlest is two. I said I needed at least two years between these babies. I think the latest model can arrive any time.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Quick Takes -- Doing Stuff

--1--

The growing belly isn't the only thing happening, even though I do feel quite discouraged some days. I present a a few of the things to be seen around here from the past week.

--2--

Our laundry room counters! Need a fairly cheap counter? Try plywood. Our kitchen counters at our old house were plywood covered in polyurethane. They served us well there and our current kitchen counters are a fancier take on plywood covered in thick bar poly. We didn't want that much trouble and expense for the laundry room, but we did want to finally get these repurposed cabinets from Habitat for Humanity covered in a counter (instead of just covered in junk and unusable).

These took a while to plan and measure and a day to install for people who haven't done this before. It took another afternoon to carefully measure and cut out the opening for the laundry sink. We already had the necessary tools, the stain and the polyurethane, so the counters will come in under $200. I will be so happy to have counters and a sink in there. My very first real laundry room! Even if I won't get around to painting the cabinets or walls for a long while yet, it's finally going to seem like a finished room.

--3--

There aren't any peaches in my garden, but I found a bunch on a good sale and since peach jam is a favorite around here, I made some. I have never learned how to can, but freezer jam is easy and tastes great. For freezer jams, I just reuse sanitized old glass jars (making sure not to fill them so full that they explode).

--4--

Today's haul from the garden. A few tomatoes (some green ones that my two year old "found"), okra, squash, some serrano peppers, cukes and one little zucchini.

--5--

I actually don't like pickles that much, although I don't find a dill pickle as yucky as a sweet one, but when one cannot give away or eat cucumbers fast enough, one has to do something with the excess. I can't find the recipe online anymore that I'm using, but it makes a nice Claussen-Style dill pickle and keeps in the refrigerator (meaning once again, I can reuse old jars and I don't have to learn to can).

--6--

My first quarter school notebooks for the three school aged kiddos are done (except for all the things I have forgotten). I have a few things left to order and a few changes to make to their lesson plans, but the largest part of the work is finished! Phew.

--7--

I can't think of anything else around here that's gotten done except cooking meals and washing clothes, so I'll leave it at that.

More Quick Takes to be found at Jen's place.

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

Being extremely cruel parents, we occasionally make our children read books they might not have picked up on their own. The oldest tends to dawdle like crazy about starting any new book, and then usually can't put the book down. (I won't discuss the seven year old who is even harder to make do anything she doesn't want to do.)

Last year I made him, after much convincing, read Journey to the Center of the Earth. He loved it.

Today I made him start Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, which has been sitting around waiting to catch his attention for weeks. His review thus far? "Mom, this book makes Journey to the Center of the Earth look boring and dull. It's wonderful! I was only going to read 100 pages today, but I had to finish the underwater hunt."

If only I could convince him once, without cajoling, that his father and I actually can pick good books.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Nothing Going On

It is the middle of summer. It's hot outside and nowadays I'm hot even in air-conditioning with a fan going. My father was here for a very pleasant visit, but he's gone home now.

The kids are bored and I'm not up for doing much to help them out of the doldrums. Sometimes they listen to fairy tales for hours on the iPod. Sometimes, they play games or build with Legos. Often they squabble.

It's not that long until the baby will certainly arrive, but it feels like ages. It feels even farther away now than before, since I saw a different doctor this morning and his assessment of my progress was far less than my regular doctor's.

Trying to think straight when I get little sleep and it's hot outside is taking its toll. I don't even feel like nesting anymore. Although the baby isn't done, I am.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Quick Takes

--1--

It occurs to me with my due date approaching, that it might be a good idea to start thinking about baby names. This is complicated some what by the fact that we don't know if this is a boy baby or a girl baby. Further complications: it needs to sound good with the names of the rest of the kids (all properly Anglophilic); it needs to not be too trendy; the child's initials should not form any horrible acronyms (although with an "A" last name, every set of initials sounds like some sort of organization or agency); and one or both of the names should, if possible, have some saintly predecessor. Any suggestions?

--2--

In the meantime, I'm still getting everything ready. My bag is packed (more or less) even though I won't be needing it for a month or so. I'm much closer to finishing up the homeschooling stuff. The new carseat has arrived. A few people are lined up as potential children watchers.

--3--

On to other things, though at this point my brain is sort of baby focused. my garden is doing well. It is interesting to watch things over several years and see how conditions and weather do have a big impact. Two years ago, we were swimming in bell peppers. Last year we didn't get a single one. This year, we're getting at least a few. Last year and the year before, we had more plums than I knew what to do with. This year, I was able to pick about five. Last year we were swimming in yellow squash and zucchini. This year I've already yanked two plants from the ground. The ever faithful plants -- cucumbers, okra and tomatoes are going along doing their thing as always. From four cucumber plants, I have more than I can use and give away. The tomatoes are starting to come in quickly and the okra is doing fine -- though as usual it starts off slowly, with just a few pods at a time.

--4--

One thing we're doing differently in the garden this summer that is working quite well is growing the cucumbers up trellises, instead of letting them creep along taking over the garden. They need a lot of encouragement to go up the thicker wood of our homemade trellises, but they seem pretty happy to go that route.

--5--

I have now made black raspberry, strawberry and blueberry jams, and I'll be putting a lot of okra and such things in the freezer as the summer progresses. One of the best parts of growing a garden and struggling to save the produce for the seasons when nothing grows is how much more one appreciates housewives of the past and their work to do the same. It's relatively easy now with modern freezers and canners. But even canning is a relatively new invention. I'm glad to live in a time when I can buy almost any produce I want, all year round at the grocery store, but it is nice to be tied somewhat to the seasons outside and the bounty of one's own efforts.

On the other hand, price wise, locally grown often doesn't come near touching economies of scale. The cost of fresh produce at my local farmer's market is often almost twice as much as produce at the grocery store (especially Aldi). What I can't or don't grow at home, I'm not willing to pay twice as much for.

--6--

Back to babies, I've reached the point where I am very, very envious of women who routinely deliver before their due dates. My OB informs me that although, in general, women who have had several pregnancies do tend to deliver a bit earlier than others, there doesn't seem to be a statistical likelihood in my own personal case. Sigh.

--7--

I hope everyone has a lovely 4th of July weekend.

More Quick Takes to be found at Jen's place.

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