April 29, 2011

the royal wedding.

this is a real life shot of us yesterday afternoon when the professor got home from school... 
all three sound alseep
we were preparing for our early morning ROYAL WEDDING...
my little eve LOVES the ROYALS... 
she insists that we watched all the pre-wedding hype (till about 1 am)
and then certainly didn't want to miss the wedding at 4 am...
she liked kate's dress... and so did i.
Kate Middleton's wedding dress
and, as i watched a girl become a princess
feeding and rocking my fussy, late night, early morning baby
i thought to myself, i wouldn't trade my life-- even to be a queen.

i hope kate and william are as happy as i am someday.

moby wrap reject.

i've tried my moby about 10 times since eve was born.
4 times, i tried it while watching "how to wear a moby" on you tube.
usually my baby is screaming for the 10 minutes that i'm trying to wrap the long fabric around by body, over my shoulder, under the strap on my tummy, around my waist and back to the front.
by the time i'm half-way tangled in fabric, and ready to stick her in it-- she's not too excited.
and i'm hot.
i've put her into the wrap about 8 times and usually she just screams, or tries to nurse because she is close to my chest... 
ONCE for a few minutes she fell asleep all scrunched up. 
and then, i had to figure out how to unwrap her and lay her in her bassinet, so she could get a good nap while i showered.

Today, i tried again.
10 minutes of tangled mess while my baby screamed.
5 minutes of her screaming inside the Moby.
and i'm officially NOT a fan of this wrap.

i'm sad, really. 
i had great hopes for days of hands-free moby wearing.
maybe it's me... maybe it's my baby... maybe it's just too early... 
but, we have not done well with the wrap idea thus far.

To all of you who LOVE your wrap, I am so happy for you...
you are much more PATIENT, and COORDINATED than i am.

I am a Moby Wrap Reject.

I did get a SLING, for free from some Internet company.  It is just one piece of fabric that i put arm and head through and slide my swaddled baby in.  The whole process takes less than 30 seconds and has saved me MANY times.  Slings I like... Moby wraps-- just aren't happening.

April 28, 2011


seriously, i LOVE produce.
fresh green beans at the grocery store make me smile and feel spring-y
are you laughing at me?
cooking a simple dinner with bright colors makes me happy... 
you too?

April 27, 2011

3 weeks.

eve woke up on Monday and she looked bigger.
her newborn clothes are starting to seem short.
i can tell she is growing-- from newborn to one month old.
it is so fun to get to know her, for her to become familiar.

this week has still been very hard.
eve is the fussiest baby i've had, and i'm still struggling with a bloody, raw chest.
i think if i could just heal EVERYTHING would be better.
the funny thing is, as hard as it has been for me to nurse this baby, i feel that she NEEDS me to nurse her.
the only time she is very content is when she is nursing.
and, as painful as it has been for me, it is also something that i love.
i just know things will get better sometime and i'll look back on these past few weeks a bit more sympathetic of other women who have a difficult time nursing.
because eve is a bit fussy, my other kids don't get much time to hold her.
they ask a lot but i usually say, "she has to eat" or "she has to burp" or "can't you see that she is screaming" or "not right now, she's sleeping." 
poor kids.
i'm hoping that as she gets older she will have more awake and happy times of life.

this week, the professor and eve bonded more.  one night i was just plain exhausted and i handed him the baby (usually i do the baby and he does the bigger kids).  she really calms down when he holds her-- i think it's because when i'm holding her she just wants to nurse.  it has been sweet watching them bond.

and, the best thing about this week is that eve started smiling.
she has such a cute smile-- i haven't gotten a picture of it yet.
she smiles with her mouth wide open and her nose all scrunched up... she is SO cute.

Shannon Hale, an author who recently had twin girls, said "This year has felt really, really long, but truthfully, the babies are so great.  I'm completely in their thrall.  Babies are the most deceptive, cleverest predators in nature.  I serve the baby master overlords and am happy in my captivity."

I know what she means.  I really can't describe how in love i am with this baby.  I adore her, fussy and all.  Every moment i thank God for blessing us with 7 beautiful kids.  This baby is so darling.  She has the brightest eyes and the cutest expressions.  She loves when we rub her feet and is a very sweet, tender baby.
I'm looking forward to next week-- but i will miss last week.
I really, really, really love this little girl.

April 26, 2011

hog hunt...

Professor here.  There's nothing quite like a hog hunt in west Texas.  While the scouts are not allowed to officially hunt, we're lucky to know some great guys named Zack and Wes, part-time hunting guides.  They caught 4 feral hogs to show the boys how to properly clean and dress wild game.  Feral hogs were once domesticated pigs, but years ago escaped or were let loose and have now become wild.  The 8 million + hogs are considered a nuisance in Texas because they destroy crops.  They can grow up to 800 pounds for large males, who also have tusks that are pretty dangerous.  Just google Hogzilla for some great pictures.  The hogs for our boys were only about a year old and weighted about 100 pounds apiece. 

Zack shot three of the hogs and brought one back alive and tied up for the boys to see what a live hog was like.  All the boys were entranced watching Zack carve up the hogs and collect the safe cuts of meat for dinner that night.  It was quite tasty, and not as gamy as I expected.  We had enough left over to bring some home, and now have a few loins with hickory smoke marinating in the crock pot for pulled pork BBQ tonight!

We left the lone live hog in a trap on the property overnight, while the boys bravely carried on about how they were going to skewer the hog the next morning.  Well, morning came and that hog was pretty ferocious in the trap--it got those boys thinking about how they were going to carry out their plans.  While they himmed-and-hawed, the hog started to wriggle through a hole in the trap.  The boys were transfixed as the hog slipped through and starting running for the woods, after which the boys screamed and gave chase.  Naturally that lasted for only a minute or so before all trace of the hog was gone and we went hiking.  A great experience for them, and a great dinner tonight for us!

Jen says, "Only in Texas."  She can't imagine that our boys will have many hog hunt experiences in Oregon...

April 25, 2011

happy easter!

i hope you enjoyed your Easter weekend!
it was beautiful here.
the boys went camping Friday and Saturday and the girls and i had a girly movie night and went to a big Easter egg hunt.
i still feel like i'm pretending i can handle my life.
right before we were supposed to leave for the egg hunt, ellie came in to my room to say that the neighbor just pulled lily out of a mud puddle.  ??!!what?!  they weren't even supposed to be outside.
i had to strip lily down, bathe her, and re-dress her.

we usually do Passover on Friday night, Easter bunny on Saturday, and a Jesus focused Easter Sunday (with our Jesus dinner- what Jesus would have eaten).
this year, everything was on Sunday, we didn't do Passover, and we are dying eggs tonight for family night.
i still need to google "how to hard boil eggs" because I always forget.

the Easter bunny hid drew's basket in the oven.
and then forgot and preheated the oven for biscuits and gravy that morning.
everything was melted, drew cried, and we discovered that toasted peeps are pretty good. 
such is life.

this weekend was a bit of a re-birth for me.
i went to church for the first time with baby eve, and we had our friends, the Merrill's over for our Jesus dinner.

our house goes back on the market tomorrow.
life continues on, even with change... and, i think i might be able to slip back into some routine.
Spring is coming, i can feel it in my veins.
And, I'm excited.
at church on Sunday we sang "Families Can Be Together Forever". 
the second verse says,
"While I am in my early years, I will prepare most faithfully, so I can marry in God's temple, for eternity"
and then the chorus says, 
"Families can be together forever, through Heavenly Father's plan.  I always want to be with my own family, and the Lord has shown me how I can.  The Lord, has shown me how I can."
i cried as i sang it, surrounded by my growing family.
i ALWAYS wanted to have a large family--
i wanted to sit on the second row at church with my kids, all in matching dresses. 
since i was a little girl, I have dreamed of this time in my life...
and yesterday, I realized that I AM what I always wanted to be.
a mother of many.
it is HARD (harder than i ever imagined). 
But, it is WONDERFUL (better than i ever imagined).
and, i want this-- for all eternity.

April 22, 2011

texting kids.

i am a firm believer that children need to experience technology.
and so, my kids have cell phones,

and lap tops,

and they text each other constantly.
i believe a texting family is a happy family.
just in case you were wondering.

April 20, 2011

two weeks.

two weeks!! 
Can you believe how quickly time passes?
What a difference one week makes!
I cried on my way to Eve's one week doctor's appointment.
Going to her two week appointment wasn't even hard... i think i'm starting to get the hang of seven kids.

Eve eats a lot, doesn't sleep too much and is very expressive.
She's tiny.
She loves to be held close.
She startles easily, especially when getting her diaper changed.
She's a very mild, sweet baby.
At her 2 week check up she weighed 8 lbs.. 
She has already gained back her birth weight plus half a pound.
I was not surprised at all-- she eats every 2 hours day and night.

The kids don't get to hold her as much as they would like.
It's hard to share when she is usually nursing, burping or sleeping.
I'm sure as she gets older there will be more play time in her schedule.

Because my last two babies were in the NICU for the first two weeks of their lives, I think I had an unrealistic expectation of how easy it would be to adjust to a newborn. 
Bringing home a two week old is different than bringing home a two day old baby.
And, these first two weeks have been harder than I anticipated.
I'm tired and I still have a very sore chest.
Nursing is going a lot better these days, but I'm still not sure how to heal my chest that is still raw from my first week of nursing incorrectly. 
Because of the sore spots on my chest, I have to nurse using the football hold.
I can't wait to heal so that I can just cradle my baby and nurse without pain.
But, compared to where I was one week ago, I can't complain at all. 

Night time is fun. 
This baby is awake all night long.  Awake and fussy.
She is quite a fussy little thing.
I have started watching "Say Yes to the Dress"  or "Cake Boss" on Netflix while I'm feeding her, burping her or bouncing her to sleep.  
It makes my nights go by faster.
My last two babies really were amazingly easy. 
And, as silly as it sounds, I'm really loving my time with baby eve.
She needs me.  A lot. 
And, I love the hours I spend bouncing and cuddling with her.
I can feel that her little tummy is gassy and she doesn't handle burps or toots easily.
She doesn't like loud noises or quick movements.
So, I just swaddle her up and hold her close... all day and all night.
The only hard part is having 6 other kids and a house to care for.

I have loved week two of this baby's life.
This is definitely a transition time for our family, but it is a beautiful time of life.
We are so blessed.

April 19, 2011

nursing and burping.

nursing (with help)...
is there anything cuter than those little eyes peering up at you?
and burping...

i just love this baby!
(actually, we ALL just love this baby!)

April 17, 2011

eve's birth story.

Monday, April 4, 2011
I was 42 weeks and 3 days overdue with my seventh child.  I had been dilating and having random contractions (not more than one an hour) for the past 3 weeks.  I really, really wanted to go into labor without being induced-- so I was not excited on my trip to the hospital.  I had been induced on my previous six births.  The first four I delivered vaginally with an epidural, and my last two were emergency c-sections.  I had a wonderful doctor who was willing to attempt a VBA2C (vaginal birth after 2 c-sections)... and I was hopeful, but nervous.  I knew that my best chance for avoiding another c-section was to not be induced, and to not have an epidural.  In preparation for a natural childbirth, Todd and I had ordered hypnobabies home study kit around Christmas time.  We were pretty good at studying together and I listened to a hypnosis track almost every night in the months leading up to this day.  I was never fully converted to hypnobabies-- I'm not a big "light switch" fan and I had a hard time feeling that any of my visualization techniques were really helping.  I was very hesitant to tell people that we were planning on using hypnosis during birth.  I discussed things casually with my doctor but was hesitant to present him with my birthing plan because I didn't want to be offensive to him.  And, I was NOT going to post a sign on my labor and delivery door announcing a hypnobabies birth.  But, listening to the tracks was very relaxing and interesting to me and I really did do my hypnobabies homework.  I would say I was a hopeful, hypnobabies sceptic.  My husband on the other hand LOVED hypnobabies.  He would often listen to the relax track to fall asleep at night.  He was a firm believer and told anyone who would listen about the program.

7:15 am-- We arrived at the hospital.  I still wanted to change my mind about being induced and go home.  At the nursing station I told them I wanted to go natural and asked for a nurse that liked natural births.  The two nurses I got were very young.  One said she had only seen one other natural birth and that she thought it was neat.  I also had a student nurse ask if I minded if she watched.  She had never seen a live birth before.  I changed into my hospital gown and they hooked me up to an IV.  My doctor explained that because of my previous c-sections they were going to start out the pitosin very slowly. 
8:30 am-- They started dripping 1 mL/hour of pitocin into my arm.  I began having regular contractions about one every 10 minutes-- very light, but regular contractions.  After 30 minutes, he upped the pitocin to 2 mL/hour.  The nurse told me that for a VBAC they would not go over 20 mL/hour... for a regular induction they may go to as high as 30 mL/hour.  My doctor continued to up the pitocin one mL every half an hour.  He had a meeting at 11:30am and predicted that my baby would be born before then.  Everything was progressing so nice and slowly I told him I thought he would be able to go to his meeting.  Both my doctor and the nurses asked what I was listening to on my ipod.  I let them hear my "birthing day affirmation" track and Todd explained a little bit about hypnobabies.  My attitude was still, what can it hurt?
11 am-- This is the first time I was checked.  I was 6 cm dilated and 80% effaced.  They were dripping 6 mL/h of pitocin into my arm and I was having regular contractions.  I was listening to easy first stage hypnobabies track on my ipod.  And, this is where I sound weird.  I can honestly say that not only did my contractions NOT HURT, they felt good.  For real.  I had been wanting contractions so badly for the past month, that when I finally felt my body contracting I was so excited.  Before every contraction, I would feel this sensation wash over my body.  It was almost like getting the tingles-- and it felt good.  I knew I was about to have a contraction and I could prepare myself for the approaching tightening.  If I focused on breathing with my belly, I was able to alleviate any discomfort in my abdomen during the contraction.  And, the contractions were so regular that I always had time to rest and laugh with my husband and the nurses before I would feel another one coming on.  I kept thinking of my hypnobabies birthing day affirmations and laughing at myself "after each pressure wave ends you smile knowing you are closer to meeting your baby."  For real, that is how I felt.

12:15 pm-- My doctor was at a meeting and an on call doctor came in to check me.  On the monitor he could see that my baby's heartbeat was dipping low with each contraction.  I was 9 cm dilated and  fully effaced.  They had stopped increasing the pitocin and I was receiving 8 mL/hour.  This doctor felt that I was probably ready to deliver.  He said it was the fastest labor her had ever seen.  I felt like I still had some time.  Up to this point I was still REALLY enjoying my birthing experience.  I kept waiting for it to get hard.  The contractions were getting harder to manage.  I really had to concentrate on what I was doing to be sure they didn't hurt.  I wish I could remember more of what I was thinking, but I can say I never hit "transition" where I felt like I couldn't do it anymore.  It really wasn't even that hard yet.  But I will say, it was around this time that I announced, "Do you remember those other labors when I said my epidural didn't work?  I lied."  I knew that the pressure I was experiencing was something that I had never felt in any of my previous births.  I kept listening to my ipod and breathing through the contractions.  I was waiting to feel my body telling me it was time to push... that never came.
My doctor came quickly from his meeting and checked me.  He said that I was very dilated and that the water sac was between my baby's head and my cervix.  I had no pressure on my cervix.  He was hesitant to break my bag of waters because he could not gauruntee that the cord wouldn't prolapse.  Because the baby's heartbeat was dipping with each contraction and she was still not engaged in my pelvic bone, he was pretty certain that she was tangled in her cord.  He told me it was time for me to push.

This was the only time that I went a little anxious.  I really had to pee.  I kept trying to get my doctor to let me go to the bathroom.  He told me to just pee, but that I couldn't get up because I had no cervix to hold my baby inside of me.  He wanted me to push and I was certain that I would be able to push better if he would let me sit on the toilet.  He was not so excited about delivering a baby on the toilet.  I also remember asking to take off my dumb blood pressure cuff.  He said that was fine, considering my blood pressure was so low.  And, I took off the oxygen monitor that was on my finger.  I really needed to concentrate with every contraction.  My student nurse had a friend that also wanted to watch my delivery.  I told them I didn't mind if they came in, but they could not talk at all.   My husband was very present, but very much an observer.  Once he tried the hypnobabies cue-- putting his hand on my shoulder and saying the word "Relax".  I started laughing, right in the middle of a contraction.  I just told him, "Thanks, but not so helpful."  We laughed together for a minute.

Many people say that they loved the pushing stage.  Not me.  It was by far the hardest part of labor for me, even though it only lasted about 30 minutes.  I had no pressure on my cervix, because of the big, bag of waters that was between my baby's head and my cervix.  Also, because I was laying down I really had no pressure at all on my cervix and no feeling to push.  My contractions were really strong and long and intense.  I felt nervous and confused.  My doctor told me to push and I did.  My husband said he could see the bag of water start to come out.  It really helped me to have him tell me what was going on.  My doctor said, "Jen, you really need to push now."   He was worried about the baby's dipping heart rate.  I pushed a few times and was really grunting as I pushed.  After I would grunt, I would apologize for being loud.  Everyone was laughing at me telling me not to apologize.  In between contractions I was worried that another laboring mother would hear me and be scared.  My doctor said, "Oh Jen, we put you far away from any other mother."  I think he was joking.  Another contraction and another push.  My doctor said, "Stop trying to breathe out the baby and just give me a big push."  I pushed big and the water came out.  Later my husband told me it looked like a baseball-sized, latex glove that was full of water that protruded out from my cervix.  The bag pushed out and then burst, in the next couple of minutes the head came out and my doctor said, "Slow down your pushing."  I remember just pushing hard and thinking, this does feel like a big poop.  I really didn't know what was going on so I appreciated my husband's narration-- "The head is right there.  Now the head is out.  Wow Jen, you did it."  I just pushed really hard.  When my doctor told me to go slow I thought, "Yeah right."  I pushed the water, and the head, and the body all in one push-- I didn't stop when the contraction ended.
1:22 pm-- Baby eve was born.  I just wanted to see her so bad.  They were untangling her from her cord and I could hear her cry.  They handed her to me and I just remember thinking how darling she was, and how I couldn't believe I had just given birth to her.  I really did it-- I was induced and didn't have an epidural.  As I held her I didn't feel this amazing great feeling that many people describe.  But, I just felt normal.  I didn't feel like I just had a baby, I felt normal and that was surprising to me. 
Delivering the placenta and getting my one stitch was probably worse than my whole labor.  It just hurt and I wanted to be left alone with my baby.  Eve was bright eyed and she nursed for 15 minutes on each side right after birth.  I was able to get up and go to the bathroom.  I stood by her when they weighed her and bathed her, and I felt good.  My husband was so excited.  He kept commenting about how amazing the birth was and how quickly I was up and at it.  The nurses said they had never seen a birth as calm as mine.  My doctor said, "You really have a high pain tolerance."  That made me laugh, because I don't. 
I couldn't believe that it was over.  I had given birth vaginally after 2 emergency c-sections without an epidural.  And, it wasn't even hard.  I think I was in shock.  I kept waiting for natural childbirth to be the excruciating pain that everyone talked about, and for me, it just wasn't that bad.  Pushing was frustrating but not horrible.  Later, my doctor told me that if he had broken my water I would have had to have another emergency c-section.  Eve was wrapped all up in cord, it was around her neck and her body.  Because the water was intact until miniutes before her birth, she was never laying directly on her cord cutting off her blood and oxygen supply.  Both of my previous c-sections were due to cord issues.  And, prolapsed cords due to artificial rupturing of my membranes.  My doctor said, "If you have another baby, do NOT let them rupture your membranes."  I am so grateful for a wise doctor who induced me slowly, and let me labor as naturally as possible. 
I also have to give credit to hypnobabies.  My birthing experience was beautiful.  I'm certain that hypnobabies played a huge role in alleviating my fears, keeping me calm, teaching me how to handle each pressure wave and re-programming my mind to feel joy not fear with each contraction.  Although sometimes I felt silly practicing my self-hypnosis, I really used each of the techniques I had learned about sometime during my birth experience (even the light switch).  I was grateful to have ideas of how to stay calm.  And, because I was induced and hooked to an iv, all of my laboring was done in a hospital bed.  Even though I was unable to move around, I was able to avoid pain by keeping my body calm and relaxed.  Today I would say my birthing experience was pain free.  But, I do remember thinking while I was laboring, "this is pain".  

How grateful I am for my birthing experience.
It was miraculous.
I gave birth vaginally after two emergency c-sections.
I was induced and still delivered without an epidural.
I never lost contol. 
I experience natural childbirth and enjoyed it.
I learned that childbirth is a beautiful, natural, gift.
My baby is perfect and I thank God every minute for her.
This is our story, and it is only the beginning. 
Eve Antonina
7 lbs. 8 oz.  20 inches

You can read my husband's account of eve's birth here- I am amazed.
You can read some of my experience being two weeks overdue here- going into labor- the waiting stage
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