My 7th pregnancy

Monday, October 04, 2004

Sophia at 4 days old, wearing my favorite outfit. She looks so cute in green! Posted by Hello

Sophia at 3 days old Posted by Hello

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Our Beautiful Angel Posted by Hello

Thursday, June 20, 2002

This is a pregnancy journal I kept while pregnant with my 7th child that was hosted by a pregnancy site that is no longer active, so I thought I would post it here for safe keeping.

Laura's Pregnancy Journal:

Meet Laura, a Midwestern mother of six with a lot of experience giving birth, mothering, and home-schooling. There's never a dull moment as she counts the weeks down to her due date in July. Visit each Tuesday for the latest journal entry!

I always have trouble answering the request, "Tell me a little about yourself." Maybe it is because I am afraid I will bore the listener to death. I am not really sure. Here it goes.
My name is Laura. I am 32 years old. I found out that I was expecting on my 32 birthday! According to my calculations the baby is due on July 13, 2002. I have been happily married to my best friend, Jay, for just over 11 years, although we have been together over 15 years. Kind of scary when I realize that is nearly half of my life! I am so fortunate to be the mother of six wonderful children and am eagerly anticipating our newest addition, baby number seven. My children range in age from 11 years to 20 months old, four boys and two girls. Are you still digesting the fact that I am pregnant with number seven?
We live in Cincinnati, Ohio. Not in the city, but close enough to enjoy the benefits of city life while having country air to breath. We are a sports-oriented family so we love having professional and college sports just a 20-minute drive away. My husband coaches a basketball and a baseball team and I am an assistant coach for a cheerleading squad. To add to the chaos of basketball, baseball/softball, and cheerleading, my daughters dance competitively and my oldest son plays a mean round of golf.
We homeschool. I love having my children with me all the time... I have found that I have learned so much by teaching them, or maybe I should rephrase that, by learning with them. The fact that they are home all day is such a blessing, I always have an extra set of hands when I need help with the toddlers, and I can sneak in that much needed afternoon nap without having to worry that my three-year-old might set the house on fire. One of our favorite things to do as a family is to hike and do nature studies. We spend a lot of time outdoors enjoying our local parks and nature centers.
I will give you a brief pregnancy history, or shall I say as brief a history as anyone expecting baby number seven can write. I know that I will tell you more about my other pregnancy as I journal about this pregnancy, comparing and contrasting, as only a mom of soon-to-be seven could do!
My first child was born at 31 weeks and suffers from hydrocephalus, a condition that keeps his spinal fluid from draining properly from his brain. We suspect that his hydrocephalus resulted from a brain hemorrhage during a very traumatic delivery. I have had gestational diabetes with three pregnancies. One pregnancy was diet-controlled and the other two required insulin. I had one macrosomnic baby (weighed 10 pounds, 3 ounces) who broke her collarbone. Baby number four was the most normal of my pregnancies, although he was born with his umbilical cord wrapped three times around his neck. With my fifth pregnancy I tested positive for group B strep, and when my son was born they believed he was septic and would not survive. Fortunately the doctors where wrong, and two days later we brought home a healthy baby. With my last child, they diagnosed him has having a single umbilical artery, which they told us put him at risk for having a chromosomal defect. Fortunately they were wrong, although the nagging fear permeated the second half of my pregnancy. He also broke his arm during delivery. Are you shaking your head wondering why I would go through all of this again?
So far this pregnancy has been pretty routine. I had my first appointment with the midwife on November 27. Her comment was that my uterus looked "nice and pregnant." She is sending me for an ultrasound on December 10 to date the pregnancy. I have a pretty good idea of when I conceived, but because I am still nursing my youngest, I wasn't having regular cycles so we want to know for sure!
In my spare time I teach scrapbooking classes at a local scrapbook store. It is my sanity break! I also enjoy rubber-stamping.

Week 9: Officially Pregnant
Well... I now know that I am officially pregnant! It wasn't two lines on a pregnancy test, or the fact that I took three of them to make sure that the first one wasn't a false positive. It isn't my odd food aversions and food cravings; certainly there have been other people who decided they liked sausage at the age of 32 when just the thought of it had made them gag their whole life. It isn't the fact that I am so tired, so tired that I fall asleep during my favorite TV show, CSI. It isn't the nausea that sticks with me all day and half of the night. It wasn't even the midwife saying my uterus looked "nice and pregnant." No, it wasn't any of that. It was a Christmas song on the radio that had me weeping!
Yes. A stupid, sappy Christmas song. The song is "Mary Did You Know?" Maybe I have been living under a rock, but I had never heard this song before. I managed to get through the first couple of verses with just a tear running down my cheek but when it got to the part when he sang something like "when you kiss your baby, you kiss the face of God" the floodgates opened up. Driving home in the pouring rain with tears running down your face is not a good idea. Luckily I was less than a mile from the house when I heard the song or I would have probably had to pull the car over. Somehow those tears made me feel officially pregnant. The only time I ever cry over songs is when I am pregnant, kind of one of those quirky little pregnancy symptoms that can't be chalked up to anything else.
There was one other thing this week that made this pregnancy official. It was the fact that I can't go make than an hour without having to go to the bathroom. Doesn't matter if I drink a lot of a little; I have to go!
On a side note, I figured out this week that I have already gotten through one fourth of this pregnancy. I can't believe that I have 25% of this pregnancy behind me. The weird thing is that only a few of my closest friends even know that I am pregnant. We wanted to wait until after we had the ultrasound done on December 10 to tell everyone, or maybe even until we had made it to that magic 13 week mark. I really wanted to get past the danger zone of miscarrying this pregnancy before we shared it with everyone. I just really didn't want to tell everyone we were pregnant and then have to turn around and tell them we had miscarried and have them all feel sorry for us or feel uncomfortable and not know what to say. I don't know why, but miscarriage has been such an overwhelming fear with this pregnancy. I was telling a friend that I think it is because I don't feel like I "deserve" to have another healthy child. I feel like maybe I have tempted fate one too many times and that something just has to go wrong. Part of me was even afraid to start keeping this journal, afraid that writing down what I am feeling and thinking would make it harder if something was to happen. OK, enough of my pessimistic chatter.
Although this has nothing to do with my pregnancy, I have to share that my "baby" turned 20 months old on Saturday. I look at him and can't believe how big he has gotten and how grown up he seems. I can close my eyes and remember holding him for the first time, kissing his sweet little head, and nursing him for the first time... Part of me still sees him as that baby. After all, he still doesn't sleep through the night and he is still nursing three to five times a day. But the other part of me sees him as the toddler he has become, bouncing a basketball, running after his brothers and sisters, wading in the creek throwing rocks, swinging on the swing set on a big swing. He is growing up! I smile when I think that soon he will be a big brother. I guess I really am ready for another baby!
Until next week.

Week 10: There is a BABY in There!
If you read last week's journal entry, you a probably thinking I am completely nutty; that the pregnancy has eaten away my last remaining brain cell; that I don't even know how pregnant I am; but what happened was this. According to my menstrual cycle, my due date was July 4, 2002, but according to an ultrasound this week, my due date is July 13, 2002, so I am living week 10 twice!
I managed to get a killer head cold from one of the kids. Nothing is worse than not being able to breathe. Couple that with the fact that there are so few choices for remedies for colds when you are pregnant, and I was not a pleasant woman to be around. I tried taking a decongestant, but all that managed to do was make my lips get more chapped.
In the first paragraph I mentioned the fact that I think I have lost every brain cell in my head. This would probably explain why I committed to letting the children be in an epiphany play that had a mandatory practice the same day as my ultrasound. Now since no one knows I am pregnant except my hubby and my closest friends, I can't exactly use my ultrasound appointment as an excuse. The second thing that supports my theory of diminishing brain cells was the fact that the play practice was 35 minutes in the opposite direction of where I my appointment was. Play practice is from 1 pm to 3 pm; ultrasound appointment is at 2:20 pm. I finally broke down and called my hubby in tears and asked if he could possibly pick up the kids from play practice. Although he isn't happy about leaving work early he knows better than to argue with his pregnant wife. Seven pregnancies in 11 years of marriage have taught him that he won't win such an argument.
I fed the kids lunch at noon and then piled everyone in the van to begin the journey. We got to play practice and I politely explained that I have an errand to run and that my hubby will be there to get the kids when practice is over. My oldest and youngest sons are the only two children who aren't in the play, so I dropped them by my hubby's office, switched cars with him (what was that man thinking when he bought a sports car?), and dashed to the doctor's office. I got there with 10 minutes to spare. As hard as it might be to believe, they called me back almost immediately for my appointment. I have never had an appointment be early! The ultrasound tech introduced herself, told me to empty my bladder and to meet her in the ultrasound room.
Since we are fairly certain the pregnancy isn't pass the 12-week mark, the tech decided to do a transvaginal ultrasound. As so as she had the probe in, I could see my little bean on the screen. I started crying. I looked at the tech and said, "There really is a baby in there!" She laughed and said, "Yes, look at the little heart just beating away." More tears. You would think that after seven pregnancies an ultrasound wouldn't bring me to tears, but at that moment it was like I was pregnant for the first time, seeing that baby growing inside of me for the first time. She went on to point out arm buds and leg buds. She did say that she was getting a due date of July 13th, a full nine days later than what we had thought. I was really disappointed for about 30 seconds. I was more than a week less pregnant than I had thought. But the disappointed faded just as quickly as the tech said, "The baby looks beautiful." OK, I can't fixate on the due date change! She printed off three snapshots of my little one, baby's first official photos! I left the office on cloud nine!
The next morning the midwife called and confirmed that everything looked wonderful on the ultrasound and she also confirmed that they would be going by the due date of July 13 that the ultrasound gave. She said that the ultrasound confirmed what I had suspected, that with Cade still nursing so often, I had ovulated much later in my cycle. She also said that she would see me next Thursday for my second prenatal appointment.
So I guess that is the big news for this week. There really is a baby in there! Also on the big news front, Cade slept through the night, for the first time in his 20 months of life! And he did this not just once, but for three nights in a row! And for those of you who might be wondering, my oldest daughter, Hannah, got the role of the angel who visits the shepherds in the play; my daughter Emily got the role of the announcer; my son Grant is going to be a shepherd (which is fine with him because it means he gets to carry a big stick); and my son Jake is a sheep, although he insists he is being a horse, so we will see how that goes. Now I just have to come up with angel, shepherd and sheep costumes in the next three weeks. Wish me luck!
Until next week!

Week 11: We Have a Heartbeat!
The Christmas shopping is almost done and the presents that are purchased have been wrapped. Quite an accomplishment, since I have absolutely no energy and honestly no desire to get any of it done. I suppose the thing that keeps me going is the fact that the kids are so excited about the holidays and they must ask a hundred times a day how much longer it is until Christmas. I am excited that the local weathermen are predicting snow for Christmas day. I am really in the mood for a white Christmas!
I had my second midwife appointment on Thursday. Jay came home from work early so I actually got to go by myself. Twelve minutes in the car alone, no one screaming that their brother is hitting them, no one kicking the back of my seat. I feel like such a different woman when I am in the car alone! When I got to the office they took me back right away, which I absolutely love, since my last Ob typically made me wait for over an hour at each appointment before even taking me back to the exam room. I pee in the little cup, have my blood pressure taken (130/70) and then I step on that dreaded scale. Since I am overweight, I have a great aversion to scales; I absolutely hate them. The moment of truth was upon me. I looked at the number. I only gained one pound! Not too bad considering that I had my last appointment before Thanksgiving and that the kids and I have been busy baking (and eating!) Christmas cookies! The nurse led me to an exam room to wait for the midwife.
I only managed to get one page of an article in Newsweek read before Sue, the midwife, knocked on the door. She introduced herself and we chatted for a minute. She asked if I was hoping for a boy or a girl, to which I gave my standard "non" answer... "Boys are much easier, and since we have had three boys in a row, another boy would be wonderful. Of course I wouldn't mind doing the frilly, pink girly thing again, and I know the boys would spoil her rotten!"
She said they had gotten all the bloodwork back and everything looked fine. I am immune to rubella and tested negative for all of those nasty STD they test for, to which I had to comment was a good thing since my husband would have a lot of explaining to do if anything came back positive. I told her she would have probably seen me on the 5 o'clock news in handcuffs if something had come back positive! After 11 years if marriage, 15 years together, I am pretty confident in our relationship! She also mentioned that they would be doing a glucose test at 16 weeks and at 24 weeks because of my history of gestational. After our discussion, she told me to get on the table and we would try to find the baby's heartbeat.
She was holding the Doppler and the speaker in her hand and couldn't get anything so she asked me to hold the speaker so she could try a little harder to get the heartbeat. The second she put the speaker in my hand the heartbeat came through... whoosh, whoosh, whoosh, whoosh... I got the biggest smile on my face. I think it was the first time I didn't cry when I heard one of the children's heartbeats, I don't know why, but I felt so at peace. My little bean was in there, heart beating away like crazy, I couldn't have asked for a better early Christmas present!
OK, so you don't get the impression that I am not completely afflicted with pregnancy hormones, I will tell you that I cried all the way through the Primetime Live special on Thursday night when they showed all the babies that have been born since September 11 to fathers who died in the World Trade Center attacks (16 moms, 17 babies) I think my tears were well justified. Diane Sawyer mentioned that they would be following these babies and their moms and that they knew of at least 40 other babies due by June whose fathers were killed in the attack. During the report someone commented that these babies were the "kiss their fathers left behind"... I can't even type that without crying! My thoughts and prayers are with those families, I can't even imagine facing motherhood alone!
Until next week!

Week 12: Circle of Life
Pregnancy can make a woman entertain crazy notions. On December 23, "Christmas Eve Eve" as my children like to call it, I decided to run to the local grocery/retail store and have the younger children's picture taken with Santa. OK, I had put it off until the last minute and I was feeling guilty! We get there, have their picture snapped with Santa and then I decide we will walk around the store a bit and pick up some odds and ends I forgot on the last trip to the grocery (which happened to have been just the day before!). I remember that we need vacuum cleaner bags, so we walk over to the appliance area. After searching for 10 minutes, I finally find the right bags. When I turn around a display catches my eyes. There, in a pretty blue box, is a hair trimmer kit, one with all those attachments and haircutting scissors and even a plastic smock for the victim, I mean, child to wear! I look at my five-year-old and three-year-old sons, their hair hanging in their eyes, and I think, I can cut their hair! OK, maybe it was the crowds, maybe I was just crazy with pregnancy hormones, but I snatched up that box and proceeded to the checkout counter. I kept telling the boys how much fun it would be for mommy to cut their hair! They were even arguing over who would get to go first!
I get home and proudly show my husband my newest purchase. He starts to open his mouth, but thinks better of it; I think I mentioned in another entry that he knows he can't win an argument with me when I am pregnant! I tear open the box and read the instruction booklet, well actually instruction page, it was only a page, and I felt that I was now qualified to cut my children's hair! I started with Jake, my three-year-old. I was doing just fine until I misunderstood how to use the ear guides and took a huge chunk out of his hair behind his right ear! I did learn from my mistake though, the other ear looked great! So I mangled up his hair a bit, do I stop there? No! I decide I want to try again on another head of hair, because this time I am going to get it right! So I have Grant, my five-year-old, come over and attempt to cut his hair. The back and the ears look great, I just can't figure out what to do with the front. So my husband, who has been watching the whole incident, says, "You have to do what the girl at the salon does; you grab it and trim it." I don't understand what he means, so I say, "Why don't you show me?" So he grabs the scissors from the kit and attempts to cut the front of Grant's hair. And I thought I had messed up on Jake's hair! After I just about wet myself laughing hysterically at the mess he made of Grant's hair (I know, bad mom, laughing at her son's haircut!) After a trip to the bathroom, I manage to even out the front a bit and sent both of the boys to the tub to wash their new haircuts. They really didn't look that bad once they were washed and combed! The moral of the story is never attempt to cut your child's hair for the first time on the eve of one of the biggest picture taking days of the year!
Christmas Eve began with me puking in the kitchen sink. Not a pretty sight, it really scared my oldest son who had the unfortunate timing to walk in the kitchen right as I started gagging! He kept asking me "Are you OK? Should I call dad?" My hubby, like so many other men, was out Christmas shopping! Once I got the puking behind me and beached the kitchen sink, I set upon my task of making the goodies to take to my mother's house for Christmas Eve dinner: cheesy potatoes, cranberry salad, and chocolate chip cookies. As I finished up cooking, I glanced at the clock and realized it was after noon, we had less than three hours until we had to be at church. Now for many people, three hours is an eternity, but for someone with six children to get bathed and dressed, herself to get showered and dressed, and clothes to iron for eight people, three hours is not a long time. I got the older kids into the shower and started bathing the younger three. I will spare you the details of the mismatched dress socks and missing slip. We were actually ready to leave with 15 minutes to spare. We dropped the food by my mother's house on the way to church. Christmas Eve services were packed as usual. Once the service was over, we went to my mother's house. By the time we got there, my brother and his wife and my maternal grandmother and aunt were already there and dinner was just about ready. Throughout dinner my grandmother was chattering about how she had been to four different Christmas parties in the last week, she has quite a social life for a 78-year-old woman! We finished dinner and posed for our annual family Christmas picture! The kids were so eager to open presents! It was a mad flurry of wrapping paper and ribbons! After all the presents were opened, the kids settled in to play for a while and the adults gathered around the table for dessert. Around 8:30 pm we said our good-byes and headed home. I was relieved to get out of there without anyone discovering that I was pregnant, since I really wasn't ready to deal with any negativity. My mother hasn't exactly been excited about my last couple of pregnancies, and I doubt she will feel any different this time around.
By midnight the kids were all sound asleep and everything was in place for Christmas morning, or so I thought. Jay and I headed to bed. At 2:45 am I sat straight up in bed; it was like someone was pulling on my arms urging me to wake up. I shook my head and looked around, glancing at the clock. Then it hit me; two of Grant's Christmas presents were in the back of the garage, hidden since Thanksgiving. I woke Jay up, made him go into the freezing cold garage and get the presents for me. I sat alone wrapping them and then slid them under the tree -- what a close call! I tried to fall back asleep but found myself restless. I remember looking at the clock at about 4 am, I must have fallen asleep shortly after that, because the next thing I remember is hearing my oldest daughter screaming "Merry Christmas" at the top of her lungs around 7:30 am. Everyone piled into the family room and unwrapped all of the presents Santa had left!
After we finished opening presents, I went into the kitchen and start our Christmas Day breakfast... eggs, sausage, bacon, sausage gravy, biscuits. About 20 minutes later, the phone rings. I look at the caller ID and see my mother's phone number, so I grab the phone quickly, figuring she is calling to wish us a Merry Christmas and to hear what Santa brought the kids. I put the phone to my ear and can only hear sobbing and shrieking. I panic. "Mom, Mom, what's wrong?" "L... A... U... R... A... grandma died." "WHAT? Mom, calm down, what?" "Grandma is dead. Carol just found her." She is sobbing. "Mom, put dad on the phone." My dad gets on the phone, confirms what my mother said, asks me to call my brother and tell him because he needs to get mom to my aunt's condo (my aunt and grandma live together). I hang up the phone and just stand there, numb. I grab the cordless phone, walk into the bathroom and call my brother; I don't want the kids to hear me. I get off the phone with him and yell for my husband to come downstairs, he was up in the boys' bedroom hooking up PlayStation 2. Shaking, I tell Jay what has happened. We agree that we cannot say anything to the children -- they were so close to my grandmother, and the last thing we want is to ruin their Christmas. So I finish making breakfast, serve everyone, clean up the dishes and put the turkey in the oven for dinner. I grab a quick shower, get dressed and under the pretense of finding batteries for Emily's new baby doll, I hop in the car and head to my aunt's condo. I cry, yet in between tears I start talking to the baby. I start telling the baby how I know part of my grandmother will carry on in him/her and how I was certain that he/she would be every bit as stubborn as my grandmother was. I certainly knew who I got my hard headedness and determination from, and did not doubt for one minute my baby would be exactly the same! I spent an hour or so with my mom and aunt and then returned home, batteries in hand, to serve Christmas dinner to my family. The day is pretty much a blur, but I do remember going up to my mother-in-law's house after dinner. The kids enjoyed getting to play with their cousins, and I enjoyed to busy, noisy sounds of my mother-in-law's house.
I talked with my brother that night on the phone. I told him about the baby and he was genuinely happy, agreeing that I should prepare myself for one stubborn baby, a baby that would grow to possess the same grace and dignity that its great grandmother had. He told me that he had been unable to sleep the night before; that he had lain awake from 2:30 am until just after 4 am. I told him about being awakened suddenly in the middle of the night and we both agreed that it must have been grandma, reminding me that I had forgotten those presents.
We told the kids the next morning. They were so upset. I told them that I was upset too, but that we needed to remember to thank God for giving their great grandmother such a long life, because I remembered a time just over 11 years ago when I visited with my grandmother in the cardiac intensive care unit at a local hospital. I was 12 weeks pregnant with my oldest child. One of the top cardiac doctors in the city told us that if we were lucky my grandmother would live another six months. I remember riding home that day, crying, thinking that my grandmother would never get to meet my firstborn child. My firstborn arrived just over 18 weeks later, so tiny and with such a frail grasp on life. I remember the look on my grandmother's face the first time she held him. At the time I wondered if Brett had arrived early just to meet his great grandmother. We passed that six month mark, and she was still with us. Time continued to pass, she proved the doctor wrong and she got to meet my second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth-born children too. There was a part of me that thought she was invincible, that she would be here forever. But I sit here, 12 weeks pregnant with my seventh child, and mourn that I will never again see the joy in her eyes when she holds one of my children for the first time.
Until next week!

Week 13: New Year's Resolutions
I have never been one to say "I will lose weight" as a new year's resolution, maybe because I know I don't have the motivation to stick to it, maybe because it reminds me too much of my mother's resolution each year, that she and my dad will lose weight and they both end up being miserable until they give up on their diets. I tend to make resolutions that are a bit more realistic, and typically a bit more simple to stick with... so this year I will resolve to:
1) Plan menus for each week and not have to get "fast food" for dinner more than once a week. I am really bad at not planning out meals and at the last minute when everyone is starving calling for a pizza or grabbing Chinese take out.
2) Get the kids' scrapbooks caught up. They are all more than a year behind and I would like them to be current by the time the baby gets here. I really love working on the kids' scrapbooks, but just never seem to make the time to sit down and do it.
3) Keep the house "straightened up" so that I don't have to freak out when someone stops by unexpectedly. This is something I have to work on as well as train the kids to help with. I think the fact that we are getting new carpet and painting in mid-January will help motivate me to do this!
OK. We are less than a week into the new year and I am not doing very well with my first resolution. I have been pretty wiped out and unmotivated this past week and we have eaten dinner out once and lunch out once. Since the kids had play practice today, we will probably end up eating out again tonight! I did make some wonderful French onion soup the other day, absolutely delightful and no aftertaste. Next week is another week and I will start it off by having the kids help me plan meals for the week!
I spent New Year's Eve at home with a sick child. Jay and Brett went to the Xavier basketball game and the other kids and I just hung out. Poor Grant was puking and felt so bad, but he insisted that he could stay awake until midnight. I felt bad pulling all the snacks out for the other kids with him just sitting there on the couch! I had even made myself my favorite cheese ball, and I couldn't bring myself to eat any of it with him sitting there looking at me with his big eyes and pale little face! My oldest daughter, Hannah, felt so sorry for him she kept saying, "I wish I was the one who was sick!" Sometimes they can be so sweet towards their siblings.
This week has meant the return of one of my least favorite pregnancy symptoms... heartburn! I hate that tight, acidy feeling all along my throat right to the top on my stomach! I have tried TUMS, liquid antacids, and milk. Nothing brings me any relief. I think the reason I hate heartburn so much is that unlike other unpleasant symptoms of pregnancy, I can never find any relief for it. When my back aches, a warm bath or a good massage helps, when my feet swell late in pregnancy, sitting with them propped up reduces the swelling. And even the nausea can usually be kept to a minimum if I eat small meals and make sure my blood sugars are kept constant. For those of you wondering if maybe the heartburn is related to that wonderful French onion soup, I would have to say no. I ate the soup two days before the heartburn started. Of all things, the heartburn started after I ate a bowl of cereal for breakfast, go figure!
Until next week!

Week 14: Not by the Hair on my Chinny-chin-chin
Maybe you have experienced this, or maybe I am the only person out there that would notice such a thing. Inevitably it happens when I am in some department store having my purchases rung up. Typically the sales clerk is a well-groomed middle-aged woman. I will be busy fumbling to get my checkbook and driver's license out and the sales clerk will say something that causes me to look up suddenly. As I look up, I can't help but notice it. There right on the end of her chin is this long, usually curly, hair. The hair appears to have a life of its own and stands there boldly screaming, "Look at me!" I have to resist the urge to grab the tweezers from the mini first aid kit in my purse and yank it from her chin. As I smile and answer her question I can't help but think, "How in the heck can she not see that hair on her chin? Why doesn't she just pull it out?" I had always made the assumption that this "hair problem" was one of menopausal women, since they seemed to be the only ones I had ever seen sporting this type of facial hair.
Imagine my shock as I am putting on my make-up this week using one of those magnification mirrors (this pregnancy has really taken a toll on my eyes, but that is a story for another journal entry). There at the end of my chin I spot it. A long, coarse red hair. It hadn't taken on that curly appearance, but it was definitely much longer than it should have been, and seemed to me to be screaming for the attention it thought it deserved. I stare closer into the mirror and I notice my hair is not alone! Along my chin I find four of its friends, none quiet as long, but all equally out of place looking! Any teenage boy in the early throws of puberty would have been proud of the hairs I was sporting! How long had these hairs been there and why the heck hadn't I noticed them sooner? I tried to pull the hairs out with my finger and my thumb but they refused to budge. But I was determined they would be eradicated! I bolted to the bathroom, grabbed the tweezers from the medicine cabinet and swiftly plucked them from my chin! After doing a little research, I chalked the hairs up to the lovely hormonal surges of pregnancy! Menopause should be a breeze; seven pregnancies have well prepared me for the mood swings, hormone surges, hot flashes, bad complexion, and now the facial hair!
Besides my new hairs, this week has been pretty uneventful. I am still experiencing some nausea and am actually more tired than I was a month ago. Part of that could be fatigue from getting back into homeschooling after the Christmas break, part of it could be that I have never had those textbook pregnancies where the second trimester is one of bliss. But I wouldn't trade one minute of this because I know what my reward will be in less than 26 weeks! A beautiful new baby! According to a pregnancy e-letter I get each week, the baby should be seven centimeters, crown-to-rump, and weigh about two ounces. It is so hard to believe that only 12 weeks ago it was a microscopic egg, meandering down my fallopian tubes waiting to meet that all too eager sperm. In the 12 weeks since fertilization it has gone from a single cell to a small person, with all of its organs in place, that only needs to grow to prepare for life outside the womb. What an awesome thought! I feel so privileged to get to experience this all again.
Until next week!

Week 15: Just Another Week
It has been a pretty uneventful week pregnancy-wise. The "new" symptom this week was a major craving for pink lemonade. Now I am not just craving any pink lemonade, but the kind that you can only find at the county fair in the summertime, sweet and sticky and thick with pulp. Of course there is no such lemonade to be found in the middle of winter in the frozen Midwest. I did make Jay pick up some frozen concentrate on his way home from a baseball meeting and it did help a bit, but I can't stop thinking about the real pink lemonade that I want!
This week marked an anniversary of sorts. On January 14 we passed the 11-year anniversary of my first ever due date -- that of my oldest son. Now the reason I state that this way is because he was born 10 weeks early, in early November and so by the time his due date rolled around he was over two months old. As I was rearranging furniture in the basement on Monday, it brought back memories of the night I went into labor with him. Jay was at work, he was working two jobs just so we could manage rent and to put food on the table. I decided the dresser needed to be moved from one wall in what was to be the baby's bedroom to the other wall. A neighbor had given us the dresser a few days earlier and we had also been given a changing table, so I was eager to get the baby's room in order. I moved the dresser and set up the changing table. I then started sorting what few baby clothes I had into the drawers. My back was really bothering me but I figured it was because I had moved the dresser or maybe it was from playing with the little boy I nannied for during the day. Jay got home from work about 9 pm; my back was still bothering me. We ate dinner and then I settled in on the couch to watch some TV. Jay headed to bed. At 11:30 pm it occurred to me that the backache wasn't really constant, but would come and go. About an hour later I realized that it was "coming and going" about every 5 to 7 minutes. Although I was sure these were probably those Braxton-Hicks contractions I had read about, I decided to call my obsetrician. When the doctor on call listen to what I told him about the pain coming and going and heard that I wasn't due for over two months, he told me to get to the hospital immediately. It took me three tries to get Jay out of bed. I vaguely remember him saying, "No you can't be in labor, go to bed." When I finally convinced him I was serious he shot out of bed, tossed on some clothes and we headed out the door. Of course the gas tank was on empty so we prayed the whole way to the gas station. We finally made it to the hospital about 3 am.
The doctors tried for the first few hours to stop labor. Nothing would work. The medicine they gave me just made me hot and crabby and I felt zoned out. About 1 pm, they decided to just let labor process. I had only been to two childbirth classes so I had no idea what to expect or exactly what to do to cope with the pain. For some reason the only thing I could seem to remember was the childbirth instructor saying not to tense up the muscles in your face or that you would pop the blood vessels in your eyes. I wonder why this was the one thing I could remember. At 7 pm, I was fully dilated and was told that I could push. I remember that pushing felt so good, because I was actually doing something! The baby wasn't presenting right (his face was crowning rather than the top of his head) and the doctors decided to intervene to get him out quickly. At 7:35 pm my firstborn child was pulled from my body with forceps. He was lifeless and blue/purple. A team of neonatologists worked to resuscitate him. Finally after what seemed to be an eternity I heard them say, "He is stable enough for transport." They stopped briefly by my bedside so I could see him. He was so small and looked so helpless. I can't even say that he looked beautiful; his face was so bruised and swollen. I remember hearing one of the doctors say to my husband, "We would like you to follow us to the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit). You need to name your son, he probably won't make it through the night." Jay left with the baby.
When the doctor finished stitching me up, I was transported to a room on the postpartum floor. The transport person just left me in the room, alone. I could hear babies crying from other rooms. I just lay on the bed in a ball and cried. About 45 minutes later a nurse came in. She asked me what was wrong, I guess my sobbing must have made some sense to her because she kept apologizing for my being left there alone and then she called for another nurse to come in. They talked at the door for a minute and the other nurse left. About 20 minutes later the second nurse came back with something in her hand. She handed it to the nurse who was sitting with me. The nurse then handed it to me. It was a Polaroid picture of my son! There in my hands I held my son's first picture, bruised and swollen, hooked up to IVs, tubing in his mouth, was my precious baby boy. A few hours later Jay made it back to my room. Our son was stable. He had named him Brett Zachery. They wouldn't take me to see my son until 10 am the following morning. He was more than 14 hours old the first time I ever got to touch him. One of the NICU nurses bundled him up and handed him to me to hold, tubes, monitors and all! It was such an amazing feeling holding my son for the first time, kissing his sweet forehead. He had overcome his first obstacle; he had made it through his first night. Little did I know that day what the road ahead of us would hold. Little did I know that over the next 10 years I would almost lose him two more times. As I look at him now, almost as tall as me, I find it so hard to believe that he was that tiny baby. And even harder to believe is how overwhelming my love is for him. Elizabeth Stone once said, "Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body." Truer words were never spoken!
Until next week!

Week 16: Boy or Girl?
I went to see the midwife on Monday. It was kind of odd because she is someone I know from the baseball fields and from church. We had never really "met" before but we knew each other in passing and to say hello to. The visit went fairly smoothly, she found the heartbeat right away, beating at 150 beats per minute. She also showed me exactly where the top of my uterus was, a bit below my belly button, I was a bit surprised it was this high up, but she said is was completely normal and exactly where she would expect it to be in a multip. We scheduled my glucose test for next Monday and they will draw the AFP at the same time. I was completely shocked when the nurse asked if I wanted to take the glucola with me so I could drink it before my visit and then just come in at 8 am and have them draw the blood. I jumped at the offer; I hate nothing more than having to sit in the waiting room for an hour while I wait for them to draw blood, especially with all of the kids with me!
They scheduled my Level-II ultrasound for Monday, March 4, 2002 at 10 am. We opted for a Level-II ultrasound rather than just a routine ultrasound to hopefully rule out the birth defect my oldest son has. I was a bit disappointed when the nurse called and told me the name of the perinatologist who would be performing the ultrasound. It is a doctor who used to be with the practice that delivered babies #2 through #6. Although he is a highly skilled doctor, he has a lousy bedside manner and was very anti-large families. He left the practice I used with my other pregnancies a few months before my last child was born. Unfortunately, he appears to be the only perinatologist that the practice I am going to now refers patients to. I have an appointment with my midwife in late February and will probably bring it up with her then, I wasn't comfortable saying anything to the nurse who did the scheduling, for all I know she could love the guy! What am I to do? I have to pay for all of my maternity care out of pocket, so I feel I should have a say in who performs my ultrasound. You can leave me your opinion on my message board, I would be happy to have some input here! On a much lighter note, I am still really struggling with whether we will find out the sex of this baby or not. Jay really does not want to know, I wouldn't mind finding out, just to make getting everything ready easier. But I know I can't find out and keep it from him, I am lousy at keeping secrets and am I sure all of the pink or blue clothes in the changing table would be a dead giveaway!
I will share my gut feeling with you about the sex of this baby. I have been thinking girl. Now that could be because I really want another boy and figure it is easier for me to prepare myself for a girl so that I am not disappointed. OK, so know you all know I used twisted logic! Also I have been puking all of the time, something I never did when I was pregnant with my sons. Since I was bored and can't decide about finding out the gender I have decided to give those old wive's tales and a couple of gender predictor websites a try. According to the heartbeat (150) we should be expecting a girl. According to the Chinese chart the baby should also be a girl. According to the Babyman ( the baby should be a boy (btw, he was the ONLY predictor who was right with my previous pregnancy!). I visited two separate websites where you added up your age, conception month, year, and hubby's info (each site used a different formula) and both sites predict that the baby is a girl. According to some lunar chart (which calculates if you conceived before or after a full moon) the baby is a boy. The old wives tales at website say there is a 65% chance it is a girl. And finally, according to my husband who scribbled his note at the bottom of the piece of paper I was using to keep track of everything, it is a BOY! He would be quick to point out to everyone that he has been right five out of six times (83.3%). The only one of our children he guessed wrong was our third child, a girl! I looked high and low for a needle to do the needle on the string test, but can't find one anyplace. Anyone know of any predictions I missed? If so, please share them with me on my message board! Boy, that was my second pitch for you to leave messages in one journal entry; can you tell my message board is lonely?
Until next week!

Week 17: An All-Around Bad Week
No less than a couple of hours after I sent in my last journal entry I managed to take a rather nasty fall. My daughter, Emily, had a Girl Scout meeting and we were taking all the girls outside. I was carrying a stack of nicely collated papers. I stepped right off the edge of the pavement, twisting my ankle, taking all the skin off my one knee and elbow and landing squarely on my fat stomach. I know that the baby is well cushioned, but I couldn't help but worry that everything was ok. It isn't like I haven't fallen during my other pregnancies, come to think of it I think I have fallen with all of my pregnancies, I fell down the steps when pregnant with my first, fell off a curb and twisted my ankle with my second, fell in the snow with my third, fell into the drainage ditch in front of the house while getting the mail when pregnant with my fourth, I fell twice on the ice when pregnant with my fifth child (probably explains why he is the way he is!), and slid across the garage when pregnant with my sixth. Ok so I am certainly not a graceful pregnant woman.
Jake and Cade had started with a virus late last week: coughing, running high fevers, headaches. By Saturday they had managed to spread their germs to Grant and Emily, and by Sunday I was well in the grips of it too. I hate being sick when I am pregnant, add to it having four very sick little ones to tend to and I was not having a good time. The virus seemed to take about four days to completely run its course.
So I fell and was sick... what could make the week any worse? Well the dreaded glucose test results are in. I wanted to cry when the midwife called to tell me I had gestational diabetes. Since I had gestational diabetes with three previous pregnancies, it didn't surprise me, but that doesn't mean it didn't upset me. I have to now accept the increased risks for my unborn child. I now have to monitor every bit of food I put into my body and test my blood sugars seven times a day. Given the fact that I needed insulin with two previous pregnancies, I have also resigned myself to the fact that I will probably have to start insulin injections within the month. The diagnosis of gestational diabetes alone now makes this pregnancy high risk and if I end up on insulin it will also mean at least bi-weekly midwife appointments, frequent ultrasounds, non-stress test, and aggressive management of labor and delivery. I am just really upset.
I know that I need to focus on the positives. I have managed to have three beautiful healthy children from previous gestational diabetic pregnancies. Things could be so much worse.
Until next week!

Week 18: Growing Another Dancer
You would think that a mother of soon to be seven would recognize fetal movement, but sometimes I think the fact that I have done this all before makes me overlook the very obvious. Lying in bed the other night after I puked for the third time that evening, I felt like someone was dancing in my abdomen, it took me a good five minutes before I realized that my little one was bouncing all over the place, protesting the fact that I had rather violently thrown up my bedtime snack. After it finally registered that it was the baby moving, I had to laugh and think that I might be growing another dancer and chuckled at the thought of the cost of dance lessons for another daughter. I had been feeling what I thought might be some gentle movements for the past couple of weeks, but this was full blown, "hey mom I'm in here" tap-dancing that I couldn't mistake or ignore. OK, so it took me a good five minutes to register the fact, blame it on mommy brain and a lack of sleep! I have affectionately taken to calling this little one Izzy, I have no real idea why, I have always had nicknames for my other children, but never one quite as unusual as Izzy. It just kind of happened one day after Emily, my 7 year old, had asked for the hundredth time "is there really a baby in there?" and I had answered "yes, there IS (emphasized) a baby in there". So the IS became IZ became Izzy.
We told my husband's family about the baby over the weekend. My nephews were in town visiting (because my husband is the youngest of 10 children we have nephews that are in their late twenties). My sister-in-law had a family party so everyone could come over and see her grandson who is now five months old. Since the whole family was there, Jay thought it was the perfect time to share our news. His mother was excited; we certainly never get any protests from her over choosing to have a large family. Everyone else extended their congratulations, although I have no idea how sincere any of them were. So now his family knows, that only leaves my mother and father to tell. I am really dreading her reaction; I need to just muster up the nerve to lay the facts out on the table. There is nothing she can do to change the fact that we are having another child, hopefully this time around she will keep her negative comments to herself. I doubt she will; she prefers to throw her insults out so that I have to live with her harsh words. I promise myself over and over I won't let her reaction bother me, but deep down I want her approval, just like when I was a child and showed her my report card or artwork, I just wanted to know she was proud of me.
I went to see the dietician about the gestational diabetes on Monday. She was really wonderful. She devised a whole eating plan for me, so different from my previous experiences with gestational diabetes where they just made most foods off limits. The plan is very workable, and my blood sugars post meals have been wonderful, the only time I am having a problem is with my fasting blood sugars. I go to see the midwife on Tuesday; I am hoping we can come up with a solution that doesn't mean insulin injections. I am fairly certain that if I end up on insulin that she will have to transfer me to the care of an Ob/Gyn that she works with. I so love the low-tech caring approach that I get from the midwife that I will be very upset if I have to switch providers. I love how midwives approach pregnancy as a stage of life and not a disease, but I also realize that I will "bite the bullet" so to speak and switch to an Ob/Gyn if that is what it takes to make sure that this baby gets the best start possible.
Jay and I had a long discussion about finding out the sex of the baby. He really wants it to be a surprise, so I have decided to abide by his wishes. It will be so hard on March 4 to not find out! Jay pointed out that we have anything we need for either sex baby, so that just makes his argument to wait even more convincing. We have done it both ways, knowing and not knowing and I have to say I love the element of surprise in the delivery room! The girls of course are driving me nuts, saying they want to know. They even said that the doctor could just tell them and they promise not to tell either their dad or I what it is. Can you imagine a 7 year old and a 10 year old keeping that secret?
So aside from the nonstop morning sickness, definite fetal movement, deciding to not find out the sex of baby Izzy, the new eating plan and monitoring my blood sugars not much is happening here pregnancy wise. Don't worry about me being bored or anything though; the other kids are plenty to keep me busy. Basketball season is winding down for my oldest son and competition dance is heading into high gear for the girls. I am getting pretty frazzled sewing the last bits and pieces onto their costumes, only two more weeks until their first competition. I will have to remember to post some pictures of my "dancing queens" after the first competition. Baseball practice starts in about a week, we will have four children playing baseball/softball this year. Jay is head coach for my son Grant's team and an assistant coach for my son Brett's team. Luck for me our almost four-year-old refused to play or I would be heading in five different directions. He can be such an agreeable child at times, opting to "sit on the bleachers with mom and eat snacks." I figure I might just pitch a tent at the ball fields and birth this baby right there, since it will be my "home" from April until August!
Until next week!

Week 19: What If?
I was standing in line at the grocery store, picking up some last minute goodies for our Valentine's Day party (which happened to be the day after Valentine's Day so I could take advantage of the 50% off sales!) when the cover of the February 25, 2002 People magazine caught my attention. On the cover was a bunch of women holding babies. I walked over and picked up the magazine and as I did I realized the cover was actually a fold out one, and that there were twice as many woman and babies on it as I had originally seen. Then the title hit me. "New Life, New Hope... Their husbands died on September 11. Their babies were born afterwards. Meet 31 brave woman who are rebuilding their lives." Right there in the middle of the check out line I started crying. Big fat tears fell slightly onto my checks. You have to love it when those pregnancy hormones kick in. Even though just looking at the cover brought me to tears, I felt compelled to put the magazine on the belt with my purchases. Magazines are an impulse buy that I usually resist, but I just felt that I couldn't leave the store without that magazine. Later that night when I had time to sit down and read the article, I shed even more tears. Then my mind started playing that "what if?" game with me. What if that woman were me, and it was my husband who had died? What would I say about him and what would I make sure that my children never forgot about the father that was no longer here?
One of the women recalled the last two sentences her husband said to her from his cell phone minutes after the plane crashed into the World Trade Center. He asked her if she knew were all the paperwork was and told her that he loved her. Obviously he knew he was never coming home again. What would Jay have said to me in those final seconds? I am certain Jay wouldn't ask me about the "important papers" because he has no idea where those are, probably doesn't even realize that I have them all filed neatly away. I know he would tell me that he loved me and he loved our children, but what would be the other thought he coupled with that statement? Would it be "isn't the dance tuition due tomorrow?" or that "Brett has basketball practice this afternoon" or some joke he had shared with the UPS guy that morning. I hope I never find out!
Many of the women spoke of their husbands' love for their children and their husbands' love of sports. Certainly I would echo such sentiment. Jay is one of the best fathers I know, always playing with our children, always involved with what they do, always reading to them. The man is passionate about sports. He is an avid golfer, baseball coach, and basketball coach, and enjoys watching sports. He has passed his passion and talent on to his children. One of the moms in the article mentioned that she took her son to his first t-ball practice on September 12, one day after her husband died, because that was all her son had focused on for so long, starting t-ball. In my heart, she is the woman I would want to be, strong enough to take the kids to the ball field, the gym, the dance studio in the wake of tragedy. I hope that would be packing up the bat bag or dance bag and throwing everyone in the car and heading out, because that is what Jay would want, but wonder if I would find the strength.
Many of the women had reminders of their husbands with them, a crushed wedding band, a hat, a picture. I have no idea what physical thing I would cling to. I know that my children would be the strongest reminder, their mannerisms, their humor, their looks all reflections of their father. Maybe it would be his key ring, filled with keys he has no idea what they go to, but that he refuses to get rid of because they could be to something important. Maybe it would be his golf clubs, for they would be a constant reminder of his passion for the game and his dream of one day making the senior professional golf tour.
So back to my original question, "What would I want them to know about their dad?" I would want them to know how much I loved him and how much he loved me. I would want them to know how much he loved each of them. I would want them to know that he was a passionate man. I would want them to know that he was a talented athlete. I would want them to appreciate his dry sense of humor; I don't think any of us could forget that, especially since my oldest son has inherited it! I sit here so thankful for all of the gifts I have been given, so grateful that I am only pondering what if and not living it.
As of my pregnancy, since after all this is a pregnancy journal, there isn't much new to report. Baby Izzy is moving all the time and the movements feel stronger every day. I can't wait until they are strong enough to be felt from the outside so I can share them with Jay and the kids. Fetal movement is one of my favorite parts of pregnancy. I met with my midwife on Tuesday and after reviewing my blood sugars and consulting with the Ob/Gyn, she called me Friday to tell me she thinks I will need meds to get the fasting numbers in check. She said that my numbers post meals are really great. I meet with her next Tuesday to discuss our newest course of action.
Finally, on a much lighter note, I had a wonderful Valentine's Day! My husband brought home a dozen roses and some strawberries, saying he really wanted to bring me chocolate covered strawberries (my favorite treat) but will wait to get me those after the baby is here and I don't have to worry about my blood sugars! My gift to him was a little more selfish in nature, silk boxer shorts and massage oils... you can fill in the rest of the scenario for yourself!
Until next week!

Week 20: The Name Game
I think I have finally decided on a name for this baby. With six other children there are many things to consider when coming up with a name. Quite by accident, when I was pregnant with our sixth child, we discovered that none of our children had first names that started with the same letter. We were determined to keep up that trend with baby number six and will continue it will baby number seven. The other thing that factors into the name game is that the middle name must start with the letter "Z". This too was not something that was intentionally done initially, but is a trend that can now not be broken. Back when we were having baby number three, the first two just happened to have "Z" middle names... the first child because I really liked the name Zachery and the second child because we had such a rough time with our first. She was given a name that had a special meaning... Hannah means "good" and Zoe means "life". What more could you ask for your child to be blessed with than a "good life"? So when baby number three was born, I was certain she was the last child and I couldn't break the trend. Who would have thought back then that I would be struggling to come up with "Z" names for babies number four, number five, number six and now number seven? For the record, the middle names so far are: Zachery, Zoe, Zara, Zane, Zaren, and Zavier!
So now that you have the history you know that we have only considered baby names that do not start with B, C, E, G, H, or J and that the middle name will start with a Z. That has left plenty of options. Ironically, both names that I like happen to also start with the same letter. All of that said, I would now add that this choice of names will remain a complete secret until the birth of this child. Why you ask? The answer is quite simple. It is an answer that I have learned the hard way. When you reveal your name choices prior to the birth of your child, people feel free to comment on your choice. They feel obligated to tell you about the fat girl in their tenth grade English class that picked her nose who happened to have the same name you have chosen, or about their friend's son who is the devil incarnate that happens to sport your name of choice. They also feel free to comment on whether they like the name or not. "Gee I really like the first name, but I am not crazy about the middle name." Or, "What made you chose that name?" Sometimes they even feel inclined to offer suggestions of their own. Once your baby has arrived most people are well-mannered enough to keep their opinions to themselves. They might think to themselves that it is a stupid name or even comment to someone else that they hate the name you chose, but chances are they will never utter a word of their disapproval to you. After all, I never pointed out to my niece that I really hate the name she gave her son, but of course I did comment on my dislike of the name to my sister-in-law.
So for this week we have names! Another exciting feature this week is hitting the 20-week mark, half way to labor day! In my case we are probably more than half way to the big day because gestational diabetics are managed quite aggressively and are very, very rarely allowed to go post term and most are even induced a week or two early. But I am not hanging my hopes of going early, because I did that with the last pregnancy I had gesational diabetes with, and because of a "missing note in my chart" I didn't deliver my son until his actual due date. So mentally, at least at this point, I am not making any plans for this baby to arrive any earlier than July 13, but that doesn't mean that I am not hoping that it is actually sometime the week before that!
The baby is now moving all of the time. I find the movements so reassuring at this point. I can't wait until they get stronger so that the kids can share in their newest sibling's movements!
On a side note, I started cleaning out the storage side of the basement this week. I found the containers I had stored the baby clothes in. From the looks of things, I have plenty of sleepers, Onesies and socks for the baby. I also have plenty of newborn outfits for either a summer boy or girl. I was a bit disappointed that so many of the t-shirts and sleepers are yellowed and stained. My children have been completely breastfed, so I have no idea what these stains are from. I would love to hear any suggestion for getting out the stains. I figure I won't start washing things up for probably another two months, but I would love some feedback now. Feel free to pop over to my message board and leave me some suggestions!
Until next week!

Week 21: Topic of Conversation
On Thursday I had my weekly midwife appointment, one of the many joys of having gestational diabetes is seeing the midwife each week, like I don't have enough to juggle with homeschooling the kids, laundry, cooking, cleaning, dance, sports and just life in general. The appointment went very well, all the tests they ran came back with good results, helping to put everyone's mind at ease. The fact that I test positive for gestational diabetes so early in my pregnancies always sends my doctors for a loop and I am forced to jump through hoops to prove that I was not having blood sugar and insulin problems prior to pregnancy. I asked a couple of questions of the midwife and she promised to have answers for me at next week's appointment.
Imagine my surprise when the phone rang Friday morning and it was the midwife. First thought that came to mind was that she has misread something and there really was a problem. She starts out the conversation by saying "I just had to call and tell you that you were the topic of conversation at our staff meeting today." Great, a meeting of four midwives and six doctors and I am the topic of conversation. Apparently a woman with gestational diabetes, complicated deliveries, and a preemie with a birth defect tends to make good material to discuss around the conference table. She told me that they decided to up the medication I am taking to help keep the blood sugars within the normal range and that the topic of when I will deliver this baby and our plan for delivery was brought up. One of the doctors said he would be very comfortable, given my past deliveries to schedule a c-section. Helloo-oo! I have had six vaginal deliveries, and although we have had two large babies that didn't come out easily (one broke her collarbone, one broke his arm) I had no problem delivering my four smaller babies vaginally. The midwife told me that she and the other midwives all chimed in with the fact that they would prefer to deliver this baby before it gets to big to fit out... meaning sometime before it gets to nine pounds. She said she knows delivery is still a ways off, but that what the practice would like me to do is come up with questions I have regarding my delivery options by my next appointment. So I have to really start thinking about my birth plan. I promise to post a draft of it in the next few weeks. I will state right now that it really isn't important to me how this baby gets here, but that it gets here as safely as possible. Probably shouldn't mention that fact right now to the doctors, or I will be scheduled for a c-section with no questions asked!
My level-II ultrasound is Monday morning, March 4th at 10 am, with the top perinatologist in the city. I am apprehensive that he might find something wrong with baby Izzy, but am so eager to see my little one, even if it is a fuzzy image on a black and white screen. Baby Izzy is moving all of the time, reminding me that yes, there really is a baby in there! Next week I will have an update on all of the baby's stats and hopefully will be able to give a glowing report of a healthy baby to everyone!
Completely unrelated to pregnancy, the girls had their first dance competition last Sunday. Emily's team took two gold medals, and Hannah's team took a high silver and a gold medal (the judges are a bit harder on the older girls and they had real prop problems with the one routine)! Brett's basketball team lost the second game in their post-season tournament, so their season has come to an end just in time for baseball to get in full swing.
Until next week!

Week 22: Level II Ultrasound
My level II ultrasound was scheduled for Monday, March 4th at 10 am. Monday of this past week happened to be the coldest day of the year so far. Technically we are into meterological spring and we get our first single-digit day and pop-up snow showers. We live outside the city limits, so I figured if I could make it up to the main roads, driving would be fine. I had hired a sitter to watch the kids, since I didn't want them with me should bad news arise. Jay opted to go to work, saying he thought it better if I went alone since he wouldn't do well if we go bad news. Even though I let the van warm up for about 10 minutes, I shivered the entire first 15 minutes of the drive. Once I had finally started to be able to feel my fingers and toes again, I encounter icy roads. Woah, were did this come from? The roads outside the city had been fine, but now that I was into town, and having to drive up and down steep hills, I found my tires spinning on black ice. I crept slowly towards the hospital, hoping the icy roads weren't an omen from above. When I finally made it to the hospital parking lot, I had to park in the furthest spot from the building I needed to go to. I gracefully skated across the lot to the building, my skin freezing from exposure to the wind.
My appointment was with the "top perinatologist" in this city and of course he has the fact that he is the best plastered all over his office walls from different articles written about him. Talk about a man with an ego! My appointment was supposed to be at 10 am, and I had arrived a couple of minutes early to get settled. In my foggy preggo brain I guess I forgot that doctors never run of time. I had to wait 50 minutes to get in for my appointment, in a waiting room full of live flower arrangements that had me sneezing my head off. I sat practicing my Kegels with each sneeze so that I wouldn't be surprised by leaking urine. Oh, the joys of a baby sitting on your bladder! It really frustrates me to wait, and it served to remind me of why I left the practice at the hospital and found a midwife.
When I finally get back for the scan, the tech asks me if I have to use the bathroom. Of course I do, I left the house over two hours ago by this point. Is there any pregnant woman who can go more than two hours without having to pee? After I finish in the bathroom, she tries to help me get comfortable on the table to start the scan. She asks the date of my last period and enters it into the computer. I didn't think about the fact that an earlier ultrasound had moved my due date nine days later into the month than the date my period would give. That I will address later in this entry! The first thing that pops onto the screen when the tech starts the scan is a beautiful spine and she comments, "the spine looks perfect" which is one is of biggest concerns. Because of Brett's birth defect we are at a much higher risk of having a baby with a defect like spina bifida. According to the scan, baby Izzy is developing well and weighes about 1 pound, 3 ounces. The baby has all of its fingers/toes/arms/legs, another huge relief, since I have always been obsessed with limb defects for some unknown reason. We saw all four chambers of the heart (plus viens and aortic arch), kidneys, bladder, stomach, and a normal umblical cord. My last son had a single umbilical artery (SUA) and the midwife and I had been joking that SUA was the only reason that I had delivered a 9 pounder at 40 weeks with gestational diabetes, given the fact that my last gestational diabetic baby weighed over 10 lbs a month early. I guess that means we are looking at a 10 pounder! Most important we saw a normal looking brain. The perinatologist came in and redid all of the measurements and confirmed everything that the tech had said. He said that he saw nothing to indicate any problems. Of course he was quick to offer an amnio just in case, because an ultrasound can never be certain. I declined, knowing that we would deal with anything that is wrong with this baby and not wanting to risk preterm labor with an amnio. Baby is head down, a bit of a concern since baby seemed pretty "settled" and since Brett was so early, but I no control over what position this baby is in!, the placenta is located at the back of the uterus. The perinatologist and the tech were very good at respecting my wishes not to find out the sex of the baby, although I did watch the screen fairly closely and didn't see anything to indicate a boy, but she scanned the crotch quickly and made sure that I couldn't see even the butt when she did the legbone measurements. They both commented that the baby was measuring perfect for dates. The perinatologist suggested another ultrasound in about six weeks to make sure the baby's brain still looks OK, although I doubt I will schedule it unless the midwife wants it for size or something. As I left the office, they told me that they would be faxing the report to my midwife and that if I had any questions to call them after going over the report with her.
On Thursday I had my midwife appointment. We went over everything in the report. Then she said something that finally struck me as being wrong. The report read "baby is measuring in accordance with date of last menstrual period." Wait a minute, the last ultrasound we had said the baby was small for dates and they moved my due date nine days further into the month. Now this ultrasound is saying baby is measuring perfect for my original due date. If I didn't have gestational diabetes this wouldn't concern me at all, but the late term risks to a GD baby are my biggest concern. The placenta tends to break down towards the end of pregnancy and carrying this baby nine days longer than I should increases the risk to the baby. The whole due date change has always puzzled me, even though I suspected that I might have ovulated later in my cycle because Cade was still nursing, I had a positive pregnancy test the day before my period was due, so with the due date change I would have gotten a postive hpt when I was only four days pregnant. When I pointed this out to the midwife she seemed really concerned and has scheduled me an appointment with the Ob/Gyn that she works with. So Monday I go and get this all sorted out.
A side note related to the gestational diabetes. Last week at my appointment we increased the medicine, Glyburide, that I am taking in hopes of getting my fasting blood sugars under control without needing insulin injections. All the increase seems to have done is 1) increase my appetite, not a good thing when I am on a strict eating plan. Just ask my hubby, I have become a witch because I am so hungry and 2) brought a return of my nausea and vomiting. So this is something else I will be discussing with the Ob/Gyn on Monday.
Until next week!

Weeks 23 and 24: Changes
Because I have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, the midwife I have been seeing asked that I make an appointment with the ob doc she works with to go over some med changes, to discuss my ultrasound report, and to discuss delivery of this baby. I set the appointment up for Monday afternoon and prayed the kids would cooperate and act like civilized creatures in the waiting room. Ok so you know I am delusional, expecting six kids to sit quietly in the waiting room, but I have little choice in the matter. All in all, they behaved pretty well, and with the exception of the crayon on the waiting room table, we left the place in one piece. Here is a rundown of what took place during my chat with the doctor:
1) He decide the oral meds aren't working and we need to start insulin injections. Although I am not crazy about injecting myself, I have been through this with other pregnancies and I just focus on the prize. I have to do this to hopefully have a healthy baby.
2) He told me that the ultrasound confirms my original due date of July 4th, not the July 13th date that the last ultrasound gave (I tend to believe the July 4th date, because if I went by the July 13 date I got a + HPT at only four days after ovulating)... so he is noting that change on my chart. Guess now I can start referring to this baby as my little firecracker!
3) He basically told me he would not be comfortable with me having a vaginal delivery. We went over the fact that I have had three children with birth trauma and he said he felt that we are tempting fate to try this again. He said he would allow me to attempt a vaginal delivery if I am dead set on not have a c-section, but that he would prefer to deliver this baby surgically, a suggestion that my last ob made after my horrible last delivery. He showed me the practice's stats on c-sections (12% much lower than the 21% that the hospital has) so I really don't feel that he is c-section happy or anything. Although nothing is set in stone yet, baby is now scheduled to arrive early on July 1, 2002! It was a pretty rough afternoon emotionally and I am trying to digest everything he said and readjust my "natural childbirth" philosophy to a surgical birth.
When I have mentioned the fact that the ob wants to do a c-section, I have gotten questions from people as to why after six vaginal births the doctor thinks a c-section is necessary. So I will tell you a little bit about my previous birth histories... don't read any further is you are one of those people who can't stand to read about atypical deliveries. I had an epidural with my first child, the other labors where completely without pain relief (I won't say unmedicated because I was given pitocin with some of them). Maybe this is the point where I should also add that we have a family history of very large babies (my grandma had four babies over 10 pounds and my mom had two babies over 10 pounds), so the size of my babies is likely genetic. I have always had excellent blood sugar control in my gestational diabetic pregnancies, so I refuse to believe that their size has anything to do with poor blood sugar control.
Baby #1 was a face presentation (meaning that rather than crowning with the top of his head, his face was the presenting part). Labor was fairly quick, but I was unable to push his out (probably because I couldn't feel anything because of a very strong epidural). He went into distress, and because both of the operating rooms where in use, the doctor decide to deliver him with forceps. He did a maneuver called a "high forcep delivery" (basically unheard of because of the danger to the baby) and my son suffered a brain hemorrhage due to head trauma during delivery. He weighed 4 pounds, 8 ounces, was 17 3/4 inches and was 10 weeks early. He spend a month in the newborn intensive care nursery and then another almost 1 1/2 months in children's hospital having brain surgery/recovery.
Baby #2 was a fast labor (less than an hour start to finish) and perfect delivery! She weighed 8 pounds, 1 ounce, and measured 21 inches. I had gestational diabetes with this pregnancy and was on insulin.
Baby #3 was a short labor, less than three hours, but she broke her collarbone during delivery. Her shoulders got wedged and it literally took a nurse straddling my body to shove her past my pubic bone. She recovered nicely from her broken collarbone. She was 10 pounds, 3 ounces, and 20.5 inches, a little BUTTERBALL... I had diet-controlled gestational diabetes with this pregnancy.
Baby #4 was a LONG labor, but I had no real problem pushing him out, although he did show signs of distress during the pushing stage. It turned out his cord was wrapped around his neck three times, and that was what caused him to descend so slowly. He weighed 8 pounds 15.5 ounces and PEED before he was weighed... so I can pretty much say he was a 9 pounder. He was 23 inches long so looked SKINNY even at 9 lbs. I did not have gestational diabetes with this pregnancy.
Baby #5 my LONGEST labor but my best delivery. It took him almost 35 hours of hard labor to arrive. Delivery went beautifully. He was sent to the intensive care unit because he was grunting instead of breathing, they believed he was septic because I had tested Group B Strep positive about a week before he was born. I had been treated with antibiotics during delivery, but they still feared the worst. He was 8 pounds 15 ounces, 22.5 inches long. I did not have gestational diabetes with this pregnancy.
So we get to Baby #6, from here on out known as the straw that broke the camel's back. I still have a hard time discussing his birth. Labor was relatively short, only five hours, his head was born after about four pushes, then I tried to push out his shoulder... NOTHING... tried again... nothing, he didn't budge. The room (with 10 people in it) got SILENT. The ob tried to break his collarbone but couldn't. At this point they had pushed the mirror out of the way so I couldn't see what was going on, so I was looking at my husband and watching the color literally DRAIN from his face, he got whiter and whiter (later he told me this was because, 1) baby was getting grayer by the minute, and 2) he heard the neonatologist say that they has lost the baby to a nurse as he sent her from the room). Too distraught to look at my husband any longer, I decided to focus on the ob. Big mistake. When I caught sight of my OB's face, she was CRYING. Talk about being freaked out! Finally she managed to reach in and use some birthing maneuver where you break the baby's arm to free the collarbone... once she snapped his arm I pushed him out with two more pushes. My son was born blue and limp and had to be revived. I only saw him for a minute before he was send to the newborn intensive care unit. We spent the weeks/months after his delivery seeing orthopedic docs and therapist because of the severity of the break and nerve damage. He weighed 9 pounds, 3 ounces, and was 21.5 inches. I had gestational diabetes controlled with insulin.
The doctor basically said I had the most interesting pregnancy and birth history of ANYONE he had ever met and that it would be worth an article in the medical journal if someone were so inclined. I guess I will have to look in the medical journals after this baby is born and see if there is anything written about a Mrs. R and her seventh pregnancy. He said he felt that three traumatic births were enough for one person, but said he left the decision in my hands. It took me almost losing my last child to see that it wasn't the process (vaginal birth) that was important -- it was having a healthy baby. Maybe I am being selfish and opting for the easier way out, but I don't think I can go through what I went through with my last child again. I would love to hear from other moms who have had c-sections. Please post some comments on my message board. I would really appreciate some tips for recovery and even some suggestions for coming up with a c-section birth plan.
Other than the news from the doctor on Monday, things have been pretty quiet this week. I managed to get a horrible head cold or maybe it is just sinus congestion due to the ever-changing weather. Kind of has me in a bit of a fog. Baby Izzy is moving all of the time, and occasionally the kicks are hard enough to be felt on the outside. I still can't wait until the movements are strong enough for the other kids to feel!
My almost two-year-old has developed a new habit... he comes up to me, pulls up the bottom of my shirt and says "hi, my baby" and then promptly smacks my tummy. Hopefully he doesn't have the same reaction the first time he meets the baby! Sometimes I think he is secretly plotting his future attacks on the baby every time one of his big brothers picks on him. Pretty soon he won't be BABY anymore!
Until next week!

Week 25: March Madness
When most people hear the words "March Madness" they think college basketball. I know that my husband and sons certainly do. My husband and two older sons love college basketball and in early March they wait anxiously as the pairings are announced. Then they carefully fill out their brackets, hoping that their team will win their way to a championship. My five year old son, who could not read an entire Dr. Seuss book to save his life, can read the name of each and every team in the NCAA tournament and can name for you at least one player from any team ranked in the top 25. Why the male brain is capable of retaining such useless information is completely beyond me; they can't remember a birthday or an anniversary or to pick up the dry cleaning, but ask them who scored the most points in a basketball game and the answer rolls off their tongue. OK, I digress, back to the topic at hand...
March Madness takes on another meaning in our household. March brings the collision of spring basketball, knothole baseball, little league baseball, softball, and competition dance season, all fighting for time on the calendar. There is not one day that does not have some activity penciled in and it is not unusual for there to be three or four things scheduled for the same day. I go through the month of March fearing that I will forget something or someone. So far so good, all activities and children present and accounted for and the month is more than half way over. One of the little girls in my daughter's dance class commented the other day that I looked tired. I just looked at her and smiled. If she only knew!
March also brings with it a sense of dread for me as a homeschooling mom. I feel this pressure to prove that we have actually learned something this year. Pressured to prove that my children have fared better in my hands than they would have fared in those of our local school district. Pressured to prove that I have not reinforced the stereotype of the poor unsocialized homeschooled child who is missing out on all the fun and friends school would bestow upon him. Pressured to prove that I have not made the biggest mistake of robbing my children of a "normal childhood." It is the pressure that nightmares and night sweats are made of. It is the pressure that gives one plenty to think about as that pregnancy insomnia settles in.
So on top of the hectic schedule, homeschooling, extra TV viewing time to catch the tournament games and the mountain of laundry this year, we get to throw late second/early third trimester fears into the maddening mix. I hate this stage of pregnancy, not because of the way I feel, but because of the gray area it encompasses. This is the point in the pregnancy when if the unthinkable was to happen and this baby was to be born that I would be faced with decisions of a magnitude that I feel God is only capable of making. I would be forced to decide to what measures the medical community should go to save the life of my child and at what cost. It is a decision that no mother would ever want to have to make. Not only am I preoccupied with what decisions I would be forced to make, but also the thought of "would I be willing to accept this child and whatever problems he or she might have" if I fought for the doctors to save him or her at all costs. Eleven years ago, when my oldest son was born, he was considered extremely premature, and babies his gestational age, 30 weeks, often didn't make it. We beat the odds with him, but I worry that the odds might be insurmountable at this point. Every day I pray that this baby continues to stay put and grow and try to push to the back of my brain that that little extra gush as I finish in the bathroom isn't amniotic fluid leaking. I lie in bed at night feeling the baby move and worry that any change in the pattern means that there is something wrong. Of course, 10 weeks from now I will be wishing the whole thing over, but for now, this baby staying put and growing overwhelms my thoughts. Why can't I be the kind of person who worries about picking out the perfectly coordinated bedding or the educational devices that will enhance my unborn child's IQ?
On a brighter note, I started the baby's scrapbook this week. One layout done, who knows how many to go. It feels good to get something done in the book, seems to make the fact that soon there will be a new baby very real, and the few pictures of me and my growing belly, well, maybe someday I will look back on those and remember all the good things about being pregnant. After completing six baby scrapbooks, I feel some of my ideas are a bit stale, so I am working hard to come up with original ideas. We will see how long it takes me to give up and just go with my old standby favorite layouts!
Until next week!

Week 26: 100 Days and Counting!
Monday of this week marked 100 days until my due date of July 4th. Since the doctor and I had already talked and pretty much agreed that we would be doing a c-section at least a couple of days before my due date (for some reason he didn't seem to want to come in and actually deliver this baby on the 4th of July, go figure!) the panic has now set in. In less than 100 days my baby will be here.
As a veteran mom, you'd think this reality might have hit me a bit sooner, but no. I prefer to live in denial as long as humanly possible. This would probably also explain the fact that I have yet to purchase any baby related necessities and also explain why I don't have one nursing bra that is in decent condition. More things to add to the list of things that must be done!
I had a doctor's appointment on Monday. Although I am really disappointed that I had to be transferred out of the midwives' care, I have to say that the doctor has been really wonderful. One of the things we discussed this appointment was the fact that he had vacation scheduled the week before the baby was due and he wanted to know if I would be comfortable with having one of his partners do the surgery. He said if I weren't, he would be willing to come in and do the surgery during his vacation. Of course I asked whom he would recommend to do the surgery. Once he answered me I quickly added, "Now, he isn't fat phobic, is he?" My doctor started laughing and looked at me and said, "No. Why, have you encountered that problem before?" "Well of course I have, or I wouldn't have thought to even ask you that question." I related my story to him of the most fat phobic health professionals I have encountered. One was a very petite OB that followed me for part of my pregnancy with my last child. Not only did she give me a hard time about my weight but she also gave me grief about being pregnant for the sixth time. She actually brought in tubal ligation consent forms to each appointment. I absolutely dreaded every appointment with her. The other fat phobic health care provider I had to deal with was a dietician (also with my last pregnancy); she really got on my nerves, constantly saying, "Well if you weren't so heavy to begin with..." The thing was, she was only about five feet tall and probably weighed 175 pounds herself, so she had absolutely no room to talk... I probably had 20 pounds on her at the most at 40 weeks pregnant, and was a whole half a foot taller than her. Talk about a woman with a mistaken body image! But I digress... OK, back to my appointment. The doctor and I chatted a bit more as he measured me (which he said was perfect, and felt for the baby's position. It was so cool, after he figured out where the baby was, he took my hands and cupped them right above my pubic bone and said, "Feel that, that is the baby's head." Even after seven pregnancies this still totally amazes me that you can actually feel the baby from the outside. He then put the Doppler on my abdomen to get a reading of the baby's heartbeat. For the first time in this pregnancy there was no hiding or running from the Doppler on the baby's part... there was absolutely no denying that there is a growing baby in there! And the days are quickly counting down to when this baby will be in my arms and not my uterus. Deep breath, so I don't panic!
The only bad news, so to speak, at this appointment, was that the doctor agreed with me that is doesn't seem that the insulin dosage I am on is making a dent in my fasting blood sugars. He wanted to give me another week at the current dosage to see if it was just my body trying to get things regulated before he makes another change. I know we will have to make some changes at my next appointment. I just wish I could figure out why my blood sugars can be perfect after meals and then soar overnight. They are higher when I wake up than when I go to bed. It is just so frustrating to follow this awful diet to the letter, eliminating my favorite foods (like bread, potatoes, and fruit), inject myself with insulin and still see no improvement. OK maybe I am ready for this baby to be here!
On a non-pregnancy note, I still have Easter baskets to put together for six kids. It used to be so much easier when they were all little and I didn't have to worry about what I was putting in them. Now it means a couple of hours walking around the store, trying to pick out something that relatively costs the same amount for each of them. Candy is killing me this year! With the gestational diabetes it is absolutely off limits but I can almost feel my blood sugars soar as I just stand there and look at it. Luckily, my children's favorites are almost all candies that I don't like and would have no desire to eat. In their baskets will be bubble gum, Laffy Taffy, jelly beans (which I love and certainly can't deny my children on Easter, but will be my biggest temptation), malted milk balls (yuck), and peanut butter eggs (I hate peanut butter eggs)! Hopefully I will be able to avoid all temptation. I will have to let you know how that goes next time!
Until next week!

Week 27: Other People's Children
This past week was pretty uneventful pregnancy-wise. I met with the OB my primary OB said he would recommend to do the c-section if he is unavailable and I absolutely loved him. He had a wonderful bedside manner and we chatted easily. I am getting more comfortable with our decision every day! We are still playing around with my insulin dosage; hopefully we will see some improvement soon. Like I have mentioned before, it is just really frustrating to be doing everything by the letter and see no improvement. The only "unsettling" news from the appointment was that he said I am measuring about two weeks bigger than I should be, but I am trying to put this into its proper context. First off, this was the first time he had measured me, so although the other doc said I was measuring perfectly two weeks earlier, the new one says I am measuring big, so it could just be the way he measured. Also I keep reminding myself that the baby could be going through a growth spurt and things might level off by my next appointment. Only time will tell!
The baby is moving all the time, dancing and rolling. Izzy has developed a love for music and responds to songs that we hear often, particularly the ones my older daughters do their competition dance routines to. The owner of the studio we dance at keeps telling me, "We are all really hoping you have a girl," each time he sees me. I usually jokingly reply, "If it's a girl you will have to adopt her because I certainly can't afford to have three daughters dancing competitively." I can tell that Izzy is growing and taking up more space; the movements now running from below my ribs to my pubic bone. I wonder if Izzy will be another tall baby. Wy almost six-year-old son was 23" when he was born. I am also starting to wonder about how much Izzy might weigh. It is so odd to go out and look at newborn baby clothes and realizes that if Izzy is anything like the other kids that nothing smaller than a three-to-six month will fit!
OK, onto the topic of this entry: Other People's Children. Warning: this a vent/rant that I feel I just have to make because it has been weighing so heavily on me the last week and a half. This is something that has been going on for years, but really came to a head a week ago last Tuesday. We were at the batting cages. While we were there I found out that they had closed the local private school for the rest of the week because of "illness." Over 20% of the students had been out of school with either a stomach bug or a bronchial bug. This meant the kids from this school would be starting spring break early. I should probably note here that most of my children's friends attend this school. So we are at the batting cages. I can see my oldest son scheming, I mean talking, with his friend. I walk over to Brett and right in front of his friend Evan, I say "Evan is welcome to spend the night one day next week, but I don't want anyone in our house until after Easter. I don't want to risk us being exposed to whatever virus was going around the school." Brett seems to understand. Next I walk over to Evan's mother and say "Holly, I love having your kids over, but I really don't want to have anyone over the house this week because I don't want the kids being exposed to the virus that is going around the school. It took Cade two months to get over the last bronchial infection he got and I don't want to risk him getting sick for Easter. They are welcome to come over any day next week." So you would think that would be enough. Nope. The next day Evan calls our house 12 times before 10 am. Each time I tell him no, and re-explain myself. So get this, the kid calls my husband at work (Jay and his dad are friends so Jay's work number is in their phone book). Of course my husband then calls me to find out why I am being so mean and not letting Evan come over. I explain myself to him and then refuse to pick up the phone the rest of they day. According to the caller ID Evan called back 10 more times before 5 pm when Jay got home from work.
So where is this rant heading? I really don't know. I just want to get this all off my chest. I guess the point I want to make is, "What has happened to basic manners and respect?" Since when is it acceptable to call and invite yourself over someone else's house? I was always taught growing up that if you called someone to "play" that you invited them to your house and in order to go to someone else's house you waited to be invited. Am I wrong here? Maybe my mother only taught me that to keep me at home. I guess the next thing is, what kind of parent lets their kid call someone's house over 20 times in one day? My children are not allowed to use the phone unless they ask. When they ask they must tell me who they are calling and why. It can be something as simple as "Mom, may I call Kristin to talk?" or "Mom, is it OK if I call Evan to see if he can come over and play?" Where the heck are these parents when the kids are making all of these phone calls? And finally, why would some 11-year-old child feel it was appropriate to call his friend's father at work? I don't let my own children call their dad at work and I know this child doesn't call his own father at work, so what made him think, "Hmmm, Brett's mom said 'no' so I will call his dad and see if he says 'yes.'"
Now if this were the only incident in the last 10 days, you would think I was blowing this out of proportion, but let me relate another story. On Tuesday, my daughter Hannah's friend Alyssa calls to invite herself over to play on Wednesday. Hannah asks if Alyssa can come over and I say, "No, I have a doctor's appointment; you can't have anyone over on Wednesday. You can invite her over on Thursday." OK, I think I handled that one well, but obviously not. First off, Alyssa calls her six times Wednesday morning begging to come over, telling Hannah to tell me that she can just come to my appointment too. I tell Hannah to tell Alyssa no and to remind her that she is coming to play on Thursday. By the time we get back from the doctor and from running a couple of errands, Alyssa has called her eight more times. Fast forward to Thursday afternoon when Alyssa gets here to play. She walks in my house carrying an overnight bag. I look at her and innocently ask "Alyssa, what is in the bag?" and she answers "My dad said it was OK if I spent the night." I just about had a coronary! Since I had been standing right by Hannah when she talked to Alyssa on the phone, I know Hannah didn't invite her to spend the night, and I also know that Hannah never asked me if Alyssa could spend the night. We already had plans for Friday, I was watching my husband's golfing buddy's almost six-year-old son (who, by the way, happens to be Evan's younger brother) and my friend and her four children were coming over to spend the day. I had no desire to have any uninvited children in my house. Believe me, 11 kids and two adults in my small four bedroom house is more than enough. So me being the mean mom that I am, I go to the trusty caller ID box and promptly call Alyssa's father on his cell phone and explain that there must have been some misunderstanding, that I didn't plan to have Alyssa spend the night, just come and play for the afternoon. Then without giving him time to respond I said that I would have Jay drop his daughter off at his house around 7 pm when he would be heading up to the ball fields to pick up Brett from baseball practice. I hang up the phone. I spent most of the rest of the afternoon pondering why these children act the way they do. Do I just have too high of standards? Am I expecting too much from 10- and 11-year-olds? Am I completely off base here? Was I raised with manners that are outdated? These are "good kids" from "good families" who all live in much nicer homes than we do, who all make more money than my husband does, and who all appear to be interested in their children's lives. If it was just these two children I would probably let it go and never think about it again, but all four of my older children have friends that do this. As a matter of fact, Brett and Hannah have only one friend each that they play with regularly that doesn't think inviting themselves over for the day or even to spend the night is perfectly OK.
All right, done with my rant and I almost forgot some exciting news. My daughter Emily made the competitive cheer squad at our dance studio. This is the first thing she has done that hasn't been her following in her big sister's footsteps. She is so excited and proud. We attended the first practice and I got compliments from both the coach and the assistant to her sharpness and strength (important for holding mounts). She absolutely loved practice. I hope her enthusiasm continues.
And now in my best second grade whiny voice, "I know a secret!" and I am so very excited for my friend that felt comfortable sharing it with me! You know who you are! I am about ready to burst!
Until next week!

Week 28: My Baby Turns Two!
My baby boy turned two on Monday. Part of me can't believe how quickly time has flown by since his birth, but part of me remembers the day he was born like it was only yesterday. Both the poor quality of my prenatal care (provided by uncaring doctors at a large university-affiliated hospital) and his horrible delivery made me reluctant to enter into another pregnancy. Unfortunately this pregnancy has been haunted by the things that went wrong the last time and I often have a hard time focusing on the positives of this pregnancy and feeling confident in my new medical staff. I can't shake the feeling that the things that went wrong the last time won't go wrong again. I thought I would relate his birth story to you here to explain some of what I am still trying to process two years later.
Big babies pose a problem with delivery, so given the fact that Emily weighed 10 pounds and broke her collarbone during delivery and that Grant and Jake had both been 9 pounds, I was being watched very carefully. The Ob who was following me promised to deliver my baby no later than 38 weeks; hopefully avoiding the large baby/broken collarbone problem we had experience with my third child. Unfortunately she never noted in my chart that she planned to deliver me early, and when she went on unexpected leave when I was 37 weeks pregnant, none of the other doctors believed that I had been told I would be delivered at 38 weeks. They each thought that I just wanted my pregnancy over and that I was pushing to be induced for my convenience rather than true medical concern. So despite my protests and my ever-growing abdomen, I waited out weeks 38 and 39. On the day before my April 8 due date, the ultrasound tech estimated the baby to weigh about 8 pounds, 12 ounces, just under the doctor's 9 pound threshold for avoiding a c-section. After consulting with the doctor who would be on call on the following morning, we were scheduled for induction at 7 am, Saturday, April 8, 2000.
After almost 40 weeks, it seemed unbelievable that the end was finally so close. We scrambled to make plans for all of the children the following morning. My friend Michelle came to the house and watched everyone from 6 am until friends could pick them up. Brett ended up staying with his best friend from school, Hannah and Emily stayed with another friend, and Grant and Jake went home with Michelle. The weather in Cincinnati had turned rather nasty. At midweek we had been wearing shorts and t-shirts but the forecast now included rain and snow, with temperatures falling through the 30's, what a gloomy day. At about 6:50 am we pull into the hospital parking garage and head over to triage. I change into my favorite light blue nursing gown and the nurse tries to start the IV. It only takes her two tries to get it started, but that is one more time than I would have liked. I really hate needles. The doctor checks and says that the cervix is high, firm, and just under 3 centimeters dilated and that baby is at -3 (still floating). The doctor asks if we would be interested in participating in a research study for a new induction drug. The one drawback is that it can take up to 48 hours for labor to start. We had been through two long inductions already (Grant was around 20 hours and Jake had been over 36 hours) so we felt we had nothing to lose.
Finally just after 10 am a labor room is open and we are transferred. At 10:45 pm the study drug is administered. The doctor says she will be back in to check on us in four hours unless we need her sooner, and then we can ring for her. I experience some mild cramping, certainly not painful at all, and both Jay and I ended up taking a nap. At 12:45 the doctor returns to discuss my concerns about shoulder dystocia and she feels that given that Emily was rather short and round that this baby appeared to be much longer and at least a pound lighter that this baby should emerge rather easily. Since she was in the room, she decides to check for dilation and announces that I am now 100% effaced and close to 4 centimeters. I haven't felt hardly anything, she decides to stop the study drug (obviously labor is now underway, there is no turning back) and says she will transfer us to a birthing room and start pitocin as soon as one opens up (little did we know at that point that 15 other women were also in labor... YIKES).
The nurse brings up a lunch tray and I devour everything (I had been told not to eat after midnight: roast beef, mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables, applesauce and a slice of wheat bread. Around 2 pm Jay and I start to play to alphabet name game, we each pick at least one name for each letter of the alphabet (minus the letters the other kids names start with) it helps to pass the time since basically nothing is happening at this point, mild contractions, we watch bits of a movie on TV (the Langoliers by Stephen King) and once again we nap (remembering what a long road we might have ahead of us given our other birth experiences). At 3:30 we are finally moved to the LDR room. The nurse administers IV antibiotics because I was group B strep positive with a previous pregnancy. Jay and I decide to narrow the list of names and rather quickly have it narrowed down to three names (Dalton, Lance, and Quinn) for a boy and three names (Veronica, Alison, and Sarah) for a girl. The question is, will we still agree on any of the three once the baby gets here?
At 4:35 the pitocin is finally started. A side note here: at about 4:15 pm I decided to have Jay pull out the camera so it is ready and I discovered that the batteries I just bought two weeks early are completely dead! Jay runs out to get new batteries, and I dig out a cheap disposable camera for the labor bag in case it is needed. By 5:10, the contractions are starting to piggyback... vivid memories of my last labor and the 15 hours of piggybacking contractions that did nothing keep flashing in my mind. Jay makes it back with the batteries and I am feeling pretty miserable. The doctor agrees to break my amniotic sac, even though baby is still very high, in order to get labor rolling along. She said that it was the toughest sac she ever had to break, probably explaining why the stupid thing didn't break when I fell down the steps in the rain on Monday, April 3.
Within an hour of the sac breaking contractions and pressure are really building I can remember thinking to myself, "Please let these contractions be doing something." The doctor decides to check and says we are at just over 6 centimeters dilated. I am so relieved because I stayed stuck at 3 centimeters with my last baby for over 12 hours. Jay comments on how smoothly things are going (of course it is smooth for him -- he can't comprehend feeling like a bowling ball is trying to escape from your bottom), we have made it to more than 6 centimeters and that we are in the home stretch and he hasn't gotten yelled at once or been made to massage my back for hours on end. Somewhere shortly after 9 pm I feel a contraction that I know is different, the sensation that maybe I could push is there. The next contraction I try to completely relax and listen to my body, as the contraction builds I can feel my body being called to push. About 90 seconds later the next contraction begins, I moan, look at Jay and say, "Go get the nurse and the doctors; it is time to push."
Everyone rushes in. The doctor checks me at 9:40 pm and declares I am complete and that I can push whenever I want. Since I had gestational diabetes, the room begins to fill with medical personnel. Along with the two Ob doctors and three nurses there are also five pediatricians in the room. Empowered by the freedom to finally push, we didn't go with the typical controlled pushing to the frantic count of 10. The doctor allows me to push as many times as I choose through each contraction. The head rapidly descends; I can feel bone moving through bone. Someone's pager keeps going off and I make some comment to the effect that they either need to answer the damn thing or given it to me so I can throw it out the window. Dr. Carpenter comments the next day that she has never had a patient keep her sense of humor the way I did during pushing. I probably pushed a total of 20 times, through about 8 contractions. I will never forget that wonderful feeling as the face cleared the pubic bone. What a wonderful feeling to know that the baby is almost here. The head completely out; I know from previous experience that once more good push and baby should be free.
I push, and NOTHING.
Suddenly all 10 members of the medical staff in the labor room fall quiet. I know our worst fear has come to pass: the shoulders are stuck. The head of the bed is rapidly dropped (talk about a head rush) and I am practically doing a headstand. The Ob tried to break his collarbone but couldn't. At this point they had pushed the mirror out of the way so I couldn't see what was going on, so I was looking at my husband and watching the color literally drain from his face. He got whiter and whiter. Later he told me this was because 1. baby was getting grayer by the minute and 2. he heard the neonatologist say that they has lost the baby to a nurse as he sent her from the room.
Too distraught to look at my husband any longer, I decided to focus on the Ob. Big mistake. When I caught sight of my Ob's face, she was crying. Talk about being freaked out! Finally she managed to reach her fingers between the public bone and the tightly wedged flesh of the baby's shoulder, maneuvering her fingers under the left armpit, and she rotates the arm in and up popping baby out. Free at last at 10:01 pm, it's a boy! My son is blue, limp and lifeless. My husband leaves my bedside practically running over to the table where they are working on our son. The doctor lets the placenta deliver itself (10:26 pm), and then makes a final check for tearing or skid marks, and not a single stitch is needed. Thanks the Lord for flexible tissue.
During this time the baby is taken to the Newborn Intensive Care Unit to be assessed. Jay follows him to NICU and then comes back to tell me he is stable and that they are assessing him and going to run some tests. Jay and I both agree that he looks just like Jake and we decide none of the names on the list seem fitting. About 11:30 pm one of the pediatricians comes back into delivery room and tells us that baby broke his humerus (bone in his upper arm) during delivery and also has suffered some nerve damage, and that they are consulting with an orthopedic doctor from Children's Hospital. After the delivery, physically I felt pretty good with the exception of feeling like my pelvic bone is bruised and the fact that my afterpains felt like labor contractions.
I finally got to see my son at 1:45 am, little splint on his arm and all! I spent so much of that night and the next day angry with the doctors for endangering my son's life. I felt that if anyone had listened to me he would have been spared a broken arm and damaged nerves and my husband and I would have been spared almost losing our son.
So even as I look across the room at my son I can't help but erase from my mind my first image of him, so sick and barely clinging to life. I can't imagine what my life would be like without him. There are days when I feel I am being emotionally distant from this child I am carrying, probably because I am so afraid that something will go wrong.
My stomach is getting huge, so nice and round, bouncing with baby's movement all the time, but I find myself more apprehensive as each day passes, afraid that the mistakes that plagued my last delivery might happen again. My rational mind says I have done everything to ensure that things turn out differently this time. I agreed to have this baby delivered by cesarean, but fear so greatly going into labor and not getting to the hospital in time for them to perform the surgery. I fear that we will fall statistic to one of the complications of the gestational diabetes. I hate how my pregnant mind plays with my pregnant heart.
Until next week!
LauraMom to Brett, Hannah, Emily, Grant, Jake, and Cadeand Baby #7 EDD 7-13-2002
Week 29: Pregnant Moments Seven pregnancies have given me a special insight into the pregnant brain and its inner workings, or maybe it would be more accurately said it inability to work normally when influenced by pregnancy hormones. Thought I would take this entry to share a couple of my "pregnant moments" as I like to call them.
One morning this past week, my two year old and I were out for our morning walk. We got a later start than usual so many of my neighbors were out heading to the bus stop with their children. Just a few minutes into our walk, I pass one of my neighbors who looks at us and says "Boy you sure big!" My pregnant brain slowly starts to churn. What the heck gives this woman any right to comment on my rather large state? I will admit I am sporting quite a belly, check out my online album for a picture taken at 28 weeks if you have any doubt, but still, what would make her say such a rude thing? The woman happens to be a lawyer; you would think she would be more tactful. I slowly begin formulating my response and just before I spit out some half coherent statement to her rudeness, she says, "So how old is he now? He really is very tall." Oh, wait a minute; she was talking about MY SON, not my ENORMOUS ABDOMEN. I quickly mutter something to the effect that he turned two the week before and silently thank God that my pregnant mouth waited for my pregnant brain to process things before I had time to belittle my neighbor for her innocent comment. Funny that my pregnant brain automatically made me think she had to be talking about me!
The cashier at the grocery store didn't fare as well. She was attacked full force with my pregnant mouth... not that she didn't deserve it. I had dropped my daughters at dance and headed to the grocery store across the road. Except for this baby in utero, I was childless, a pretty rare occurrence in my life. I walked though the store gathering the things we needed to get through the next few days and proceeded to the checkout counters. The cashier looks at me and says, "You look like you are ready to pop," to which I cheerfully comment "I guess looks can be deceiving, I'm not due until July." She then says, "Is this your first baby?" to which I smile and answer, "No, this is our seventh child." I kid you not she actually looked right at me and screamed "SEVEN? Why the heck would anyone WANT seven kids? I hope you are DONE!" Well the pregnant mouth does not wait for the pregnant brain to engage. I take a deep breath and say, "Well since my family is not on public assistance, my children are not in public school, and I didn't just pay for my groceries with food stamps, I really feel you have no right to comment on my choices regarding my family size." I literally ripped my receipt out of her hand and proceeded to walk from the store. It is probably a good thing I didn't run into a manager on my way to the door or I would have probably attacked the manager over his rude employee. I was so angry at her comment that I could feel my head pounding.
Not too much else is going on here. Baby is definitely growing and moving all the time. On a kind of unpregnancy related note, ALL of the laundry in my house is clean (with the exception of the clothes on my children's and mine and my hubby's back) quite an amazing feat if I do say so myself. So that means that I will actually be able to start washing baby clothes as soon as I toss the load of towels that are in the washer into the dryer. The "countdown to baby" clock is starting to tick louder and louder. We shall see if they are actually all washed by the time I send next week's journal entry.
Until next week!

Week 30: Heading For Home Pregnancy
For me is kind of like a baseball game. The first 10 weeks are the journey to first base, anyone who has watch a baseball game knows how hard that "run to first" can be, so much can go wrong and so often it does. The second 10 weeks the journey to second base, and if you aren't paying close attention to the game you might miss the player darting to the base, so similar to how quickly those second 10 weeks fly by as the nausea begins to fade and you begin to feel human again. The third 10 weeks, the journey to third base, is a bit tougher with the short stop standing in your path, kind of like how your bulging stomach stands in the path of your view of your feet. But once you reach those last 10 weeks, then you finally round third and head for home. Maybe it is because my husband is a third base coach that I see things this way. I can see what it takes to get a player to third base and as the player stands there, ready to dart home at any minute, you can see both the joy and the apprehension in his face. So much like this point in pregnancy for me. I am so happy to have made it this far, to the point where I know my baby is viable, but still so apprehensive about what this final dash to home plate might bring. So my journey to home plate began this week with my weekly appointment with my obstetrician.
I had my weekly appointment on Monday afternoon. It was a scary experience, as a patient fainted right in front of me and went crashing to the ground. She missed crashing into the corner of the wall by probably an inch and she banged up her face pretty nicely. They had to call an ambulance to take her to the hospital. I should mention here that she wasn't pregnant, but she certainly was one very sick woman. All this happened right after I had gotten weighed (I lost another three pounds) and had my blood pressure taken (120/60). Good thing she had taken my blood pressure before I saw the gal pass out because I am sure it would have skyrocketed! The really bad thing was she passed out BLOCKING the door to the waiting room where my kids were, so they are out there ALONE and this ambulance comes flying into the parking lot. I can hear the receptionist telling them everything is okay and it isn't me, but still I could tell that they were a bit freaked out!
With all the commotion, it took a while for the obstetrician to get in to see me. He was thrilled with where my blood sugars are and is hoping we have finally gotten some control over them. He even agreed to let me go two weeks before my next appointment. Right before I started JUMPING FOR JOY he then added I needed to pop into the other office one day next week for an ultrasound because he wants to find out how much baby weighs, how much fluid is surrounding the baby, and what the placenta looks like and then we will proceed to schedule my c-section.He measured my abdomen and felt the baby, and he suspected still head down. He couldn't believe how active the baby was. He commented that it was one of the most active babies he had ever followed and I laughed telling him that I had one baby that had been even more active than this one. When I was pregnant with my fourth child, Grant, he was so active that you could stand across the room and watch my stomach jump and roll from side to side. Complete strangers would stop me and comment on his movements. Funny thing is that he is probably my most athletic and most clumsy child, you can't get him to stay still for a minute, even at 6 years old. I then told my obstetrician that I had read that the baby should now weighs about two and a half pounds and asked him if he thought my baby was much bigger than that. He laughed and said "definitely!" so we shall see if he is right next week on the ultrasound! We are scheduled for the ultrasound on Monday, April 29, in the late afternoon. It is going to be so hard to avoid finding out what this baby is! I might have to insist Jay go with me so that I don't give in to temptation!
I did have another "pregnancy encounter" this week. I was standing in line at the grocery store waiting to pay for my purchase, three loaves of bread, a couple of gallons of milk, and some doughnuts for the kids for breakfast. The customer behind me, a gentleman probably in his mid-sixties, commented on the quantity of food I was buying, saying that a loaf of bread goes stale before he can even eat it. I laughed and said "With six kids we go through a least a loaf of bread a day and usually a gallon of milk". He looked at me and said "Six kids, and number seven on the way?" to which I replied, "Yep, I finally found something I was good at and decided to stick with it". The man started laughing so loud I am sure you could have heard it at the back of the store. As his laughter subsided he said, "I guess you need a sense of humor to have seven children." I definitely have to agree, because if I couldn't find a way to laugh at all the things that get thrown at me each day, I would probably have to cry!
Until next week!

Week 31: Another Ultrasound
Sunday night Jay and I were sitting in the family room watching some stupid movie on cable (lately I have watched a lot of stupid movies), while our two year old was playing on the floor with some trucks. Jay said, "Do you think he will ever get any hair." I looked at Cade and laughed. Poor kid is two years old and had less hair than most one-year olds. I replied to Jay, "Someday, maybe. Wouldn't it be funny if this baby is born with more hair than Cade has?" Jay laughed. I knew what he was thinking... six bald babies, there is no chance this one will have hair.
Monday afternoon Jay came home from work early so that I could go to the ultrasound my doctor had ordered the week before. I was really hoping he would join me, to help me avoid the temptation to find out this baby's sex. He decided to stay home so that we didn't have to drag the other kids with us. I get to the office and the ultrasound tech, a wonderfully nice woman in her twenties, calls me back almost immediately. I pop into the bathroom to pee, amazing what pregnancy does to one's bladder, I had just gone to the bathroom 15 minutes early before leaving home and then went into the exam room. We were chatting about my kids and right before she starts the scan she says, "You don't want to know the sex right?" I answer, "My husband loves surprises," so she says she will be very careful when she is doing the "crotch" shots and that she would tell me to look away. So she starts the u/s at the top of my abdomen and says "you might not want to look because this first shot might be a crotch shot" so I look away, she starts laughing and tells me I can look because, lo and behold, we have a head, my little bug of a baby had flipped itself over in the last week. She shows me the baby's face with its adorable little feet right up along side its cheeks. She comments that the baby is a frank breech and I tell her it probably doesn't matter because we are looking at a planned c-section. Then she says, "So were your other kids born with a bunch of hair?" and I answer, "No, they were all bald as a cue ball." Then she says "They didn't even have peach fuzz hair?" and I answer, "No, not really any hair to speak of, why do you ask?" she says, "Look at all of those white lines floating around the baby's head. That is hair!" Hair? My baby is going to have HAIR? She told me not to get my hopes up, but that there is definitely some hair on this baby's head. So, I am not getting my hopes up, but now I am really curious as to how this baby will look. I used to jokingly tell people I would know I was done having babies when I had a baby girl with a head full of wavy red hair and green eyes (since all of mine have been bald and blue eyed.) It would just be so funny if I actually did! She gave me a guesstimate to the baby's weight, 3 pounds, 14 ounces (considered normal, a big relief because of the gestational diabetes) and said she had no idea on length but that the baby had very long legs. That doesn't surprise me, since my one son was 23 inches when he was born. She said everything looked great, printed off a couple of pictures for me and sent me on my way! I had a big smile on my face the whole way home!
I walked in the door and Jay practically mugged me to get the info on the ultrasound. I told him the good news about the baby's size, that everything looked great with the baby, that the baby had really long legs, and that the only concern was that the baby was breech. Do you know what my darling husband, a man who usually has no opinion on anything medical said? He said, "Well maybe our baby is trying to tell us that we have made the right decision by agreeing to a c-section." Such a logical and deeply thought-out statement from a man whose usually only worries that my birthing our children might conflict with a golf outing or a basketball game or that it might mean he has to take an extra day off of work. Some days I love him so much! Oh, and I didn't tell him about the hair... I figure since he likes surprises, I will just let the hair (if it doesn't disappear by then) be the icing on the cake come delivery day!
The doctor called on Friday, I was out hiking at a local park with the kids so I missed his call. He left me a message to say that he had reviewed my ultrasound results and that everything looked great. Baby is measuring in the 50%-75% range so he was thrilled with the baby's size, all vital organs are present and accounted for and functioning as should be, and he mentioned that the baby was in a Frank breech position, but told me not to worry because the baby still had plenty of time to flip over. He then said if I had any questions to call him. Less than a minute later there is another message on the answering machine. The doctor again, this time he says, "By the way, it really doesn't matter if this baby is breech does it? You must think that I am losing my mind!" and he hangs up. Got to love a doctor who would call back and leave you that kind of message, don't you?
The heartburn has made a vicious comeback this week. At first I blamed it on my discovering that I could eat Cincinnati-style chili without raising my blood sugars, so I have been living on that stuff for lunch. But even cutting the chili out of my diet hasn't helped. Not only do I have heartburn during the day, but also it wakes me up twice a night, that horrid burning feeling in my throat, and forces me to waddle to the medicine cabinet to chew some Tums for relief. The really bad thing is I have noticed that my morning blood sugars are a tad bit higher than usual on the mornings following a night of heartburn and Tums-popping. Have to talk to the obstetrician on Monday if this is my imagination or if the Tums are a no-no for gestational diabetics. If Tums are a no go, then I will be seeking out some alternate cures for my heartburn. Anyone with suggestions can post them to my message board.
On top of the heartburn I have had almost nightly episodes with leg cramps -- killer cramps that just about toss you out of bed. I suppose that it just must be that point in my pregnancy, but I have noticed a lot of other woman complaining about them on the July message board. The weird thing is one of the woman posted that she actually got cramps in the arch of her foot and as I read her post I thought that was the oddest thing I had ever heard. I have gone through almost seven pregnancies and never heard of such a thing. Well I guess God decided I needed an attitude adjustment because at 3:13 am that night I woke up with an absolutely killer cramp in the arch of my foot! Okay, so I am never going to think something someone posts is strange ever again!
Other than that, baby has been very active; I find all of the movement to be so reassuring. Maybe it is baby's new position, but I have felt some relief to the pelvic floor pressure I was experiencing. I am sure it will return soon, as there is not much room left for this baby to go!
Until next week!

Week 32: Another Week Closer
The nice thing about having two daughters that are so excited about the upcoming arrival of their newest sibling is that I can not forget for one day that we are getting closer to delivery day. Everyday they count how many days are left until the baby is supposed to be here and then they calculate how many weeks that is. Most of the time when we are out in public and I am questioned about when the baby is due they are quicker to answer than I am. Could be that my mind is constantly in a pregnant fog but I know much of it is their pure excitement over the baby.
As the week started out I was feeling pretty lucky. I was sitting at my oldest son's ballgame the other day, trying to not act too pregnant since my son at 11 1/2 has recently come to the conclusion that his mother being pregnant means all of his friends know his mom and dad have sex. Luckily the kid has a great sense of humor and lets things roll of his back pretty easily, but I try not to make things more complicated for him. I will say that those metal bleachers are about the most uncomfortable things in the world to sit on. I was talking to a mom and she was asking what practice I was going to and who my OB was -- general chit-chat between women who have little more in common than their boys playing baseball on the same team. When I told her who I was seeing, she was like, "Oh did he follow you with your other kids?" and I said, "No, this is the first pregnancy I used this practice with." Then she went on to tell me how she was pretty sure he wasn't accepting new patients and hasn't for quite some time. She was amazed that he added me. She is a nurse, and said even with her connections she couldn't get him to add her to his patient list. She also went on to tell me what a great reputation he has, and how everyone thinks so highly of him... so I was feeling very blessed that by seeking out a practice that was large family friendly and trying to go with the midwives, that God led me to the hands of such a well respected doctor. Apparently had I tried to go through the "front door" to get to him I would have been told no. Funny how God watches out for us even with something as simple as finding a doctor isn't it?
I really can't believe how quickly time is flying and how smoothly things seem to be going, then ever so often I get a dose of reality that only a mom of soon to be seven can get. Tuesday afternoon, I realized that my daughter must be at her mandatory summer dance class the same day the baby is due. When I mentioned it in passing to the owner of the studio, she promised me one of the moms on the team would pick her up so it won't be a problem. I almost laughed in her face; can you tell that the owner has no children? Although when I think about it logically, she probably can go to class (late afternoon) because I don't plan to have Jay bring the kids down to the hospital until at least late that night or maybe the next day, I doubt I will be feeling up to entertaining them less than 12 hours after surgery. I know they will be eager to see the baby, but I want their first encounter with their sibling to be positive, and not me all dopey and crabby -- OK, well, I am always crabby, so they wouldn't notice a difference there. I am really planning right now on that first day just being Jay and me and the baby. We will let the baby live the illusion that it is an only child, even if it is for only one day. Poor little thing is going to be so overwhelmed with all the love and attention its big siblings shower upon it!
My pregnant size and now noticeable waddle has started to attract even more comments. You just have to love it when you walk into the dance studio and the woman working the desks looks at you and says, "Laura, you look miserable." The funny thing is I was actually feeling good and had even put on a cute little sundress right before leaving the house. Another day this week I was out with just the boys; the girls were at a homeschooling event and no less than five different people commented, "I bet you are really hoping for a girl." To each of them I remarked, "No, actually I would like a boy, but as long as the baby is healthy that is all that matters." Brett would sometimes add a comment like "We need another boy to complete a basketball team." The other popular question this week seemed to be, "So are you done after this baby?" This is probably the most offensive question people tend to ask, but also one of my favorites to answer, especially depending on my mood. Typically I will give the "I really like even numbers so we will be having at least one more" answer, so that they know better than to ask again, but occasionally I will take it a step further. You can imagine the look I get when I answer "Well, my husband is the youngest of 10 kids, and his mom didn't have her first until she was 27. I already had 4 kids by the time I was 27, so we figure we are good for at least 14."
Jake, my four-year-old, is adamant that this baby be a boy! We went through the same thing with Grant when Cade was born, he really wanted a sister and was really mad at me when he found out he got another brother. He is a child of very few words but he makes it well known to anyone who asks that he wants a baby brother. So it looks like either he is going to be disappointed or his sisters are!
The week did draw to a close on a more panicked note. One of the moms who frequents the July pregnancy message boards and also happens to be a journaler delivered her baby that was due the end of July, nearly an entire month later than I am due. It sent waves of panic and anxiety through my body. I woke up the night I found out at least five different times, worrying about every twitch I felt. I am so completely and totally not ready to have this baby. Yes, I have everything I need, but I am not ready to care for a tiny sick newborn, especially one born this early. Not an hour of the day has gone by since I found out that I don't think about her son and offer up a prayer for him. And not an hour goes by that I don't thank God that my baby is happily rolling and punching around inside me.
Until next week!

Week 33: The Mother of All Weeks
Okay... this has been a mother of a week!
Saturday, the girls had their final dance competition of this dance year. The dance competition was in Dayton, about an hour away. So the dance instructor asked that the older girls come in to the studio at 9AM Saturday to go through their routines. Since Emily's group was going on a couple of hours before Hannah, I made arrangements for Hannah to ride up to the competition with another mom and Emily and I headed out. We were about an hour ahead of schedule, so on a whim I drove the back way to the expressway, thinking maybe I would find a yard sale to stop at on the way. We lucked into the mother of all yard sales. It was a neighborhood wide yard sale. The first house we stopped at had a pair of rain boots for Emily for $.50, they looked brand new and they were perfect because she needs boots to take to Girl Scout camp. That in and of itself would have made for a good yard sale stop, but it only gets better. The next house we stopped at had a Fisher Price baby cradle that looked brand new. They were asking $30 for it, which I thought was way too much. The guy running the sale saw me look at it and said, "If you think it is priced too high, you can make me an offer," so I said "How about $15?" I really expected him to counter with $20 so I was completely shocked when he said "Sold." I also picked up two baby outfits and a sleeper for $1 total. Emily and I get back in the car and I am ready to leave, but somehow make a wrong turn trying to get out of the subdivision. We drive past a sale, the driveway lined with baby items, and I decide to stop. I am thinking to myself if she has this much stuff left at 10:30, she must have it way over priced. I walk up the driveway and see an open-top swing, one of the few items I really want for the baby, but couldn't justify buying since my old one worked fine. She has $20 on it. I look at it, make sure it works (she actually had batteries in it) and then walk up to her, smile and ask, "Would you take $15 for your swing?" she answers, "Sure." Then she says, "Do you know if you are having a boy or a girl, because I have a bunch of baby girl clothes over on the table." I tell her, "No, but that I will look at the clothes, because I have plenty of boy stuff and might find something I could use for a girl." I walk over and am shocked at the gorgeous clothes, their barely used condition and her reasonable prices. I manage to snag six newborn Gymboree outfits complete with socks, a Gymboree sweater, two Gymboree long sleeve bodysuits for fall, four neutral Carter's sleepers, two Carter's printed onesies, an Old Navy onesie, and a Gymboree bib for $15. So I walk away from her yard sale with a ton of clothes and a swing, all for $30. I can't believe all the stuff I got that day for $46.50. I think I must have smiled the entire drive to Dayton, so pleased with my finds that morning.
The dance competition was long, but the girls did wonderfully. They each danced in two routines and they each got one high-gold and one gold award. Emily got a huge kick out of the fact that the baby kept kicking and rolling to the music. She even told Hannah that she was sure they were having a sister because she loves to dance already. Hannah tried to burst her bubble by mentioning how much Cade loves to dance, but Emily would not be deterred!
So onto Sunday, which was Mother's Day. I had a wonderful Mother's Day! Probably one of the best I can remember. Jay cooked breakfast (eggs, bacon, sausage, toast and juice) and then actually cleaned up afterwards. I love my husband dearly, but cleaning up after himself his not one of his strong points. I was showered with gifts. They got me a dozen roses (Jay isn't one to 'waste' money on flowers usually so this was a huge surprise), a new maternity top (check out the picture of me in it in my online photo album, (see link in my signature and click on baby album to see me at 33 weeks pregnant and wearing the shirt), a beautiful gown and robe set for the hospital, and some scrapbooking supplies I had been eyeing for quite some time (I guess my oldest son really does listen to me occasionally, since he was the only one who knew what I wanted). The girls made me a bouquet of paper flowers and some cards.
In the afternoon, we went up to my mother-in-law's, and except for my sister-in-law who had to say how fat I had gotten, it was a nice visit. I think the thing that really irked me about her saying that was that she is as heavy, if not heavier, than I am and she isn't pregnant. We made a quick stop by my mom's and dropped off a hanging basket of flowers and one of those garden stepping stones that the kids made for her and then went to Brett's basketball game (which they won 62-28). To top off my perfect day we had my favorite dinner, Chinese, which Jay hates so I rarely get it!
Tuesday was the mother of all kids activity days. Hannah had dance from 4PM to 6PM, Grant, Emily, and Hannah all had baseball games at 6:30PM (luckily Emily and Grant were at the same ballpark) and Brett had a basketball game at 8PM. Talk about shoving a weeks worth of activities into a five hour period! By the time we were done with the double overtime in Brett's basketball game, my back was killing me, my butt hurt from sitting on the bleachers and I was having very regular braxton-hicks contractions
Friday was the just a mother of a day. Jay was supposed to go to the bank in the morning and get me money to pay the balance of the obstetrician services bill (no money in our account, he needed to get if from his account), bring me the money home and then he was supposed to watch the kids while I went to my appointment and he completely blew me off. Not even a phone call to apologize or to tell me he wasn't going to show up. So if you hear something on the national news about a pregnant woman with six kids killing her husband, you can probably safely assume that it was me! Anyhow, because of him I was 25 minutes late for my appointment. Luckily they were a bit backed up, so it didn't really matter to them. The nurse weighed me (lost another pound) and took my blood pressure (140/82) which I was quick to blame on my lousy husband. The bad thing was that I didn't have time to really talk with my obstetrician about some of the things I am concerned about with a c-section and about creating a birth plan to calm my concerns. I see him next Tuesday though, so maybe then! The big new at this appointment was that he SCHEDULED the c-section for 9AM on Friday, June 21 (first day of summer). The date isn't etched in stone, but he said barring him having any real concerns over the baby at that point, June 21, 2002 will be my baby's birthday. We did discuss that we might want to have an amniocentesis to check lung maturity, a big problem with gestational diabetes babies, on Thursday June 20 if either of us has any nagging concerns at that point. He said baby is still breech and he is guessing over five pounds, but under six right now. Great to hear... maybe I won't deliver a monster baby! As we scheduled the date he said he was really uncomfortable at the idea of me delivering vaginally and kept reassuring me that this was the best decision given my history. God, I hope he is right!
The only other news from this week's appointment was that non-stress test(NST) start next week, he said that they should have started last week, but that it was an oversight on his part. So our first NST of this pregnancy is Tuesday and then the following Wed, although he might want one in between depending how the one on Tuesday looks. The gal who had to schedule them wasn't real happy when I kept saying, "No I have plans at that time, can you look for something else." Fortunately I have gotten smart enough to bring my calendar with me with all of the kids activities and outing written on it. She was so desperate to get me schedule that she actually tried to argue with me as I scheduled the one for Wednesday, May 29 that I could make it to an activity 30 minute away by 10AM if I had a 9AM appointment. Guess she doesn't wait in the same waiting room I usually wait in!
Hoping next week is a bit calmer, until then.

Week 34: an unschooler in utero
As many of you know who have read my other journal entries, we homeschoolour children. Now when many people think of homeschooling, they think oftraditional school at home, where the children are pouring over textbooksand mom is standing over them teaching from some preset lesson plan. Thatwas what I envisioned before I ever embarked on our homeschooling journey.At theother end of the homeschooling spectrum there are those who unschool or,better put, believein child-led, interest driven education. Unlike the image the wordunschooling conjures in many people's minds, it is not children running wildall day, eating ice cream for dinner, watching TV until all hours of thenight and not being able to readwhen they are 12 years old. It is parents and children working together toexplore their interests. It is hands on learning. Through our homeschoolingadventures we have evolved from traditional school at home to a much morerelaxed unschooling family. We strive to have a curriculum that is interestdriven; that is, based on the interests of our children. With our gentleguidance our children choose what, when, and in what manner they learn. Wewant them to be active participants in their learning, not passivereceivers. It is our belief that through this process our children'sself-esteem will be preserved, they will value learning, and they will beempowered to make decisions that are best for themselves throughout theirlives.We believe that the most developmentally appropriate curriculum for them isone based on their interests and needs. We feel we need to be flexibleenough to change as they change. Because children do not naturally dividethe world into subject areas (language, math, art, etc.), our curriculum isinherently integrated. Our children may pursue their interests as in-depthas they desire and for as long as they remain interested (hours to months).We find that one interest will lead naturally to another or that manycohesive interests may be pursued simultaneously. We encourage them to setgoals and follow them.So you are now sitting here reading this and scratching your head wonderinghow in the heck we know if our children are learning anything. We know theyare learning because they tell us they are. We know they are learningbecause they can tell you about the things they have studied. How can youdoubt they are learning geography when they take plastic planes and fly themacross the map hanging on the dining room wall and tell you the names of theplaces the plane visits? How can you doubt that they understand animals andtheir habitats as they walk quietly through the woods, gently flipping overlogs and rocks in the hope that they will see a family of salamanders? Avisit to a pioneer village with frontier re-enactors sticks with my childrenmuch longer than any chapter in a history book, and when my 4 year oldrelays to my husband that the "man weared no shoes" I know that at leastsomething from our outing has stuck with him (for those of you who don'tknow, because I certainly didn't until I went to the re-enactment, pioneersin the Ohio area rarely wore shoes because they were too time consuming torepair each day. It was much easier to go barefoot than to spend yourevening mending your animal hide shoes).. I have learned more hands on withmy children than I ever learned as a child sitting in a classroom, thiscoming from a woman who graduated from high school with a 4.0 GPA and in thetop 5% of her class.Given our philosophy on learning, it is probably easy to understand that wedon't believe in tests. If I want to know if my children have learned andmastered a concept I do not need a piece of paper to prove it to me. I canask them. Unlike a teacher in a traditional classroom that needs to use atest to gauge if her entire class has learned the concept she has presented,I am afforded the luxury of being able to see, one on one, that mastery hastaken place. So in the life of an unschooled child, testing holds nomeaning.That being said, I will now explain this week's journal title....anunschooler in utero. This week we started having nonstress tests (NST)twice a week. On Tuesday, although it took about 20 minutes longer than itshould have, baby Izzy passed with flying colors. Well, on Thursday, babyIzzy decided to show me that he/she is already an unschooler and balked atthe idea of taking another test. After almost an hour and a half hooked upto the monitor and watching the heart rate either dip each time the babymoved or not fluctuate at all, theydecided they needed to send us to the hospital. I was told that I needed tobe aware that if Izzy failed the tests at the hospital that it was possiblethey may need to deliver the baby. I scrambled to make plans for the otherkids, we had been planning to go to a Cincinnati Reds game that afternoon,so I took the boys to my husband so they could still go to the game (Ireally didn't want to upset them by making a big production about me havingto go to the hospital) and Itook the girls to my friend Valerie who was with her kids at a local park.I drank a diet Mountain Dew and ate a chicken twister from Kentucky FriedChicken on the way to the hospital, hoping to wake Izzy up, the whole timetelling Izzy that passingthis test really did mean everything. An hour and a half later I waswalking out of the hospital ,a huge smile on my face and sighing withrelief, baby Izzy proved to the doctors that everything was fine, but thathe/she just hadn't seen the point in taking their test. My friend that waswatching the girls and I laughed that my baby is already a die-hardunschooler....yes, he/she can prove to you that he/she knows the routine butbalks at the idea of having to take a test to prove it to anyone.Our NST fiasco should be enough excitement for one week, but Friday broughtanother dose of reality our way. My morning started out with a 9:30 AM callfor the OB office, toconfirm a TIME and DATE for the c-section, Karen, the coordinator for theOB's office, tells me Ineed to be at the hospital at 7 AM on Friday June 21 for a 9 AM c-section.I write it on my calendar and suddenly it seems so real. I am FREAKING OUT,since it is after 9 AM when she calls I am thinking thatin less than 4 weeks the baby will be BORN. I call Jay and tell him it isOFFICIAL, of course he freaks a bit too, because he knows how much we stillhave to get done before baby day! I spend the better part of the next hourin a daze, cleaning and doing laundry, and then about 10:30 thephone rings again, it is Karen saying she just realized that the OB has aconflict on Friday and that he wants to now do my c-sectionon THURSDAY June 20, 2002 at noon, so we need to be at the hospital at 10AM! I still haven't caught my breath over the latest change in plans, weare REALLY within4 weeks of having a baby!Until next week!

Week 35: Nesting
Shortly after I posted last week's journal entry a wave of anxiety anddepression descended over me. Reality smacked me in the face and I realizedjust how many things either had to be done or I wanted to have in placebefore the baby got here. I laid in bed that night and cried to my husbandthat we had to get a passenger van within a month or he wouldn't even beable to bring the kids to the hospital to bring the baby home. I moanedabout how I was sick of the hole in the flowerbed where we had pulled out atree over 2 years ago when I was pregnant with Cade, well actually for ayear it was a tree stump and then last fall it finally became a HOLE after 3 days of digging and using a winch to pull the stump from the ground. Imentioned that I really wanted to paint the dining room, because it hadn'tbeen done in the seven years we have lived here, now mind you the hallway isin much worse need of painting, but I know the kids would quickly destroy myhandiwork, so I decided to focus on the dining room which I might actuallybe able to keep nice for a while.I awoke Saturday morning with a plan in mind. We had most of the day freesince there were no baseball games because of the holiday weekend. We hadto drop Hannah at dance class at 11 AM, but she would be going home with oneof her friends. Emily had cheerleading practice at 2 PM, so that gave us 3hours to get some errands run. I let Jay in on my plan. There were 3things I wanted to have accomplished that afternoon. First I wanted to goand pick out paint for the dining room, second I wanted to go and find alandscape pond for the flowerbed and finally I wanted to stop by the cardealership and get some information on ordering a passenger van. Jay rathersheepishly agreed, probably more afraid of another hormonal outbreak from methan of what the day might hold in store for him.We drop Hannah at dance and head over to Home Depot to look at landscapeponds. We can find no one to even help us, let alone answer our questions,so we get back in the car and head to the paint store to get paint. Staringat the paint samples I remember how hard it is to make a decision onanything when you are pregnant. So I leave picking out the paint to myhusband, thinking this will be a safe choice. He is a man who doesn't likecolor and balked at anything darker than a powder blue paint for the familyroom and remarked in utter disgust when I painted the little boys roomconstruction truck yellow. Well obviously my pregnant hormones have invadedmy husband's body because we walk out of the paint store half an hour laterwith a paint called robin redbreast, kind of a reddish brown, a color Iwould have sworn my husband would have NEVER picked out. We haven't paintedthe walls yet (that is a project for next weekend) but I really like howwarm the color looks. Wonder if I will like it once I put it on the walls?I am thinking that I might even try one of those faux painting techniques inthere, especially if I find the color to be too overbearing. Of course Imay just end up with a big mess!We grab a bite to eat to quiet the hungry tribe and head down to the cardealership. I am quite shocked when we pulled onto the lot and theyactually have one 15 passenger and two 12 passenger vans sitting there. Ihad stopped in the dealership on a couple of different occasions and hadbeen told by the sales staff that the vans were only available by specialorder, that they are never carried on the lot. We park the minivan and Iprepare myself for what is yet to come. I am used to eliciting oneof two reactions for salespeople. They either ignore me or follow me aroundlike a hawk. The first reaction comes from those who assume that because ofthe size of my family I must be some poor stupid welfare mom would couldn'tpossible afford to be shopping where ever I am and they hope by ignoring myI will go away and the second is from those who fear my children will breaksomething so they are overly attentive in hopes of avoiding a disaster. As we walk across the parking lot much like a momma duck with her ducklings, wemanage to get response number one (ignore her and she will leave) from notone but from two different salespeople. Then as I actually approach one ofthe passenger vans and begin reading the sticker on the window, I can hearanother salesperson saying "is there something I can help you with?" as hewatches my children put their hands all over the van. I catch him a bit offguard when I respond "yes, we are interested in either a 12 or 15 passengervan" and I begin to list the features I am looking for on the van. Isuppose at that point it became apparent to him that I had done my researchand didn't want to be coddled and told what pretty colors I could get thevan in or that I am interested in hearing suggestions of other vechiles thatI might like better.. My husband is standing a few feet away with a smirkon his face,the smirk of a man who knows his wife all too well. The 15 passenger van onthe lot has everything on it that I wanted with the exception of a dropdownTV monitor with video cassette player. Craig (the salesperson) assured usthat adding the TV wouldn't be a problem so I look at him and at Jay and say"go in and get it down on paper". I don't know who was more surprised,Craig or Jay! Less than an hour later I was driving off the lot in mymost expensive impulse buy of my life. I still can't believe it when Ilook out in the driveway and see my brand new 2002 Ford 15 passenger van! Iam so tickled with it!Two items down, one to go. We drop Emily at cheerleading, drop our new vanat home(since it had not carseats in it, we opted to take the minivan to runthe rest of our errands) and head out to look at more landscape ponds. Acouple of more stops and we find a pond that we like. We get Emily and takethe pond home. Even with the hole half way dug, installing the pond was atwo day project. Jay is still complaining about how much his back hurts fromall that digging. I of course just counter his complaint with my own abouthow bad my back hurts carrying around his VERY LARGE baby. We still aren't done installing the pond, we need to getsome rocks to go around the pond and plant some perennials around the pond,but I am happy with the progress to date and even more impressed that weactually got the pond in and the pump, bubbler and spitter working, sinceneither Jay or I are very mechanical! We had our weekly doctor's appointment on Wednesday. The OB I usually seewasn't in the office, but I saw one of the other doctors that I really like.Baby Izzy passed the nonstress test with flying colors, of course I thinkmaybe the diet mountain dew that I drank right before my appointment mighthave helped some. My blood pressure was normal, I didn't gain any weight(believe me there is plenty of fat for this little one to live off of!) andI am measuring at about 38 or 39 weeks, although given my history of largebabies, this isn't a surprise to anyone. With my largest child, who weighedover 10 lbs, I was measuring 40 weeks when I was 34 weeks pregnant with her,so this baby being within about 3 weeks of measuring correctly seems justfine to me! I did get a bit freaked out last week when I saw on thenational news that there was a baby born that weighed over 15 lbs, dear God,please let this baby be much smaller than that, I am by no means ready todeliver a toddler! I set up my appointments for the next three weeks, eachof them with the doctor who will be performing the c-section, so that I willhave plenty of time to talk with him about my concerns about the surgery andthe recovery. I think more so than preparing myself, I will be spending thenext 2 weeks preparing Jay who has been used to me bouncing back to "normal"within days of my vaginal deliveries. I don't think the reality of myhaving surgery has sunk in with him yet!So unlike normal pregnant women who are consumed with a clean house and theperfect nursery, my nesting this past week was more an obsession with a newvan, paint and a pond. By the time the end of the week rolled around, eventhough the painting wasn't done, I was so much more at peace with the ideathat very soon there will be a new baby gracing our lives and the back seatof what the kids now call "mom's bus"!Until next week!

week 36: a different 2 week wait
Anyone who has actively tried to achieve a pregnancy is familiar with thetwo week wait, that time between when you ovulate and when your period isexpected that you sit each day, holding your breath and praying that yourdream of motherhood will be realized. You move closer to that day withexcitement and with fear. Since we have decided to deliver baby Izzy at 38weeks by c-section, we are now officially within the two week wait at theother end of the pregnancy. Honestly, having done this 6 times before Idon't know what is harder, the wait at the beginning or this one at the end.I am so anxious for this baby to get here and to be put in my arms, to knowfor certain that everything is OK. The reality that we are so close to theend has even begun to impact my husband who asked the other day if we justcouldn't WAIT and have this baby on June 27th, he said three weeks is CLOSERto being a MONTH away, and the 2 weeks is less than half a month, a littletoo soon for him. This of course is coming from a man whose ankles don'tlook like tree trunks and whose toes aren't doing their best impression ofstuffed sausages! The coundown has begun!Very rarely am I in a position to take advantage of being pregnant.Saturday night a group of our friends decided that they wanted to head downto the riverboat casinos in nearby Lawrenceburg, Indiana. Since I knew Iwouldn't be drinking, it made sense for me to volunteer to be the designateddriver. The new passenger van also made this a no brainer. We picked up 2other couples and headed on our way. Once we got to the casino, we passedthe self park lot and headed up closer to the casino in hopes of being ableto park in the connected garage or use the valet drop-off next to the frontdoor.As we approached the garage, I realized the van was too tall to make theclearance so I pulled into the valet line. The line was moving very slow,and I noticed some of the cars ahead of us turning around. Finally one ofthe valet parkers walked up to the van. I rolled down my window and as heapproached, he started to say something like "I am sorry, valet parking isfull". Well, he gets right along side of the van and looks at me and then Inotice something, he is STARING at my HUGE belly, watching it roll from sideto side (baby Izzy HATES car rides and is always VERY ACTIVE, kicking thesteering wheel the whole time) and then he says "hold on just a minute, letme see what I can do". So we sit there and about a minute or so later hewalks back up and says, "Go to the end of the road and turn around and pullright up next to the front door. Jill will meet you there to park the vanfor you". I turn the van around and pull up where I was told to go, whichhappens to be RIGHT next to the main entrance. Jill hands us a parkingticket and tells me to have it stamped on the boat and that we won't even have to pay for parking. We felt like we had hit the lottery! Too bad weweren't as lucky at the casino! The running joke the rest of the night wasthat you must remember to bring a pillow with you and put it under yourshirt before approaching the valet parking area so that you will get theroyal treatment. I did have to point out I doubted that any of them couldget a pillow to jump and roll the way my belly was moving.I managed to twist my ankle at the baseball fields on Sunday. Brett playedin a double header (followed by 2 basketball games that evening, I dare thekid to even tell me he missed out on doing something because he had so manybrothers and sisters). I am assuming that the lovely hormone relaxin is toblame for me being able to twist my ankle by just stepping down on the hardground. Someone should point out to this lovely hormone that it isn't theankle joint that needs to be relaxed. I look absolutely miserable waddling around, and my oldest child has taken to QUACKING ever so slightly under hisbreath when he walks someplace with me. Too bad the kid isn't in school orI would have to send in a naked baby picture of him for the yearbook to payhim back!My weekly appointment was on Tuesday. The doctor said baby is doing well but is getting very big, he estimates baby to be about 7lb 8 oz, of course Icountered that since I was 36 weeks, that for me this baby seemed SMALL,because he had to remember that all of mine that were BORN at thatgestational age were in the 9 and 10 pound range. My blood pressure wasgood and I gained 2 lb. in a week, but I will assume (and PLEASE let me livewith this delusion) that the weight gain can be attributed to my tree trunkankles and sausage toes! Baby passed the nonstress test in record time,maybe this kid is finally learning to behave itself. You can quit laughingnow!The kids and I have been trying to pack a lot of fun into our last weeks asa family with only 6 children. Monday we went to a program at a local parkwhere the naturalist took the kids down to a pond and let them explore thewildlife there. My kids love nature, and doing nature studies is one oftheir favorite things so when you couple nature with getting wet and dirtyyou always have a big hit. After the program we went to the water play areato cool off a bit. Wednesday we went to the YMCA, taking advantage thatmost of the local kids were still in school and we had the pool almost toourselves with the exception of a few toddlers in the baby pool. Friday wewent to a picnic hosted by one of the homeschooling families we know. Thekids went on a scavenger hunt, which they had never done before, and thatwas a huge hit too! I will have to remember to come up with a scavengerhunt the next time I have a large group of kids together. Dance classes finished up for the regular season, we are now off for two whole weeksbefore mandatory summer classes. Baseball and softball are in full gear, ifmemory serves me, I think I sat through seven games this past week!The week wouldn't be complete without my weekly rant about something....sohere it is.....OK, this is completely off the pregnancy topic, but it isdriving me NUTS. My neighbor's kids have been out of school 2 days and Ialready know I am in store for a long summer. Thursday the little girl calls to see if Emily can come over to her house and play, fine, Emily is excited to have someone besides her sister to play with so I let Emily go over. No less than a half an hour later, Emily is back with my neighbor's 2 daughters (ages 7 and 6) and the little girl ( 8 yr old) my neighbor babysits for in tow. They spend the next 3 1/2 hours at my hous, now theyare no trouble, good kids, but still, my neighbor (1) didn't call to see ifthe kids could come play and she KNOWS I am 36 weeks pregnant and have 6 kids and (2) she get PAID $3 hour to watch this little girl and I am the one supervising her, which I think is a little BOLD and as a mother I would bemad if I was paying someone to watch my kid and she was pawning them off onsomeone else. The icing on the cake that night was when the dad stops bythe get the girls and I can hear his daughter saying "I want to spend the night here." and what does he say, does he tell her she can't invite herself over to someone's house or that it might not be a good time since Emily'smom is getting ready to have a baby, NO, .he tells her "fine".I just about FLIPPED, I scream to Emily that no one could spend the night because we hadsome things to do on Friday and I wanted everyone to get a good nightssleep.Well I though by saying we had PLANS for Friday I would be off the hook but NOPE, the phone rings at 10:45 and the little girl wants to know if Emily can play again. I look at Emily and can tell she is thrilled at the invitation so I tell her she can go down in a half a hour, that she mustfinish cleaning the playroom first. I hear Emily tell her friend she willcome down in a half a hour AFTER she is done cleaning, well no less than 10minutes later the phone rings AGAIN. Same kid, she wants to talk to Emily.I call to Em and she comes to the phone, befroe I hand her the phone I tell her friend that she can talk to Emily, but that Emily needs to finish cleaning before she can come play. Em hangs up, hone rings again 5 minuteslater, I just about lose it and tell the kid Emily can't come to the phonethat she has to CLEAN and that Emily will come down to her house once she isdone. I thought I made my poing, but does the kid get my POINT??? NOPE shecalls back 5 minutes later! What I want to know is where the HECK is themom when this kid is calling my house 4 times in less than a half ahour???????I'd love some input on dealing with this MORONIC family. Please feel free toleave some suggestions on my message board. I hate to tell Em she can'tplay with this girl, since it is the only girl her age in the neighborhood,but I am at the end of my rope!Until next week!

week 37: the end is near
We had our weekly doctor's appointment on Tuesday. Baby Izzy showed thatstubborn side again, taking almost 90 minutes to give us a nice test stripfor the doctor to look at. Part of the problem was that the nurse whousually hooks me up for the NST was at lunch when I got there, so anothernurse tried to get us started. Right after she put on the monitor thatshould be picking up the baby's heartrate I asked her if she was sure thatwas the baby's heart and not mine since it was in the low 100's, not in the150 range the baby's was usually in. She looked at me like I was a moronfor asking. Well, 20 minutes later when the other nurse got back from lunchshe came in and looked at the strip and confirmed what I had thought, themachine was picking up my heartrate, so guess who looked like a MORON then?She repositioned the monitor and there was baby's heartrate, beating away inthe usual 150 range. I was just so annoyed because the first 20 minutes Isat there was a total waste.The office was packed that afternoon. When I finally got in to see thedoctor I was sick of being there. We briefly went of some more questions Ihad about the c-section and we also decided to do an internal to see if Iwas dilating at all. The week before at my appointment I had told him thatI was a bit apprehensive about us doing the c-section (OK my husband iswearing off on me, but what do you expect, we have been together for overhalf of my life!) and that I wanted to know that my body was actuallyworking to go into labor, not that we were forcing delivery on a specificday merely for our convince. So he does the internal (I forgot how much IHATE those) and he says "Do you want to know what is going on?" and I say"no". He laughs at me, made a comment that he wouldn't be surprised if hesees me at the hospital before next Thursday and continues with theappointment, telling me he thinks baby is in the 8 1/2 pound range andeverything looks good. As I am leaving he looks at me again and says "areyou sure you don't want to know?". I cave in, probably not a good sign. Hesays "2 1/2 to 3 cm dilated, 50% effaced". At least I have proof that mybody is working to evict this not so tiny person, but I am still betting wewill bepregnant on our scheduled day. He asked that I come in for another NSTtowards the end of the week, for his peace of mind, and I reluctantly agree.At least this timethe nurse might believe me that she has me hooked up wrong!I made the mistake of telling my husband what the doctor had said about howmuch I was dilated and effaced. There must be some primal image in theback of all men's minds of what it would be like to be having sex with theirwife and have her water break. Talk about a major cooling off in the sexdepartment. The man who would until this point give up ANYTHING to have sexsuddenly becomes the poster boy for abstinence. Now don't get theimpression here that he is some saintly creature, it took him less than 36hours to decide if sex made me go into labor, well then that was what wasmeant to happen. Honestly, I think he was a bit disappointed that I didn'tgo into labor at the completion of our encounter. Men and their egos!We went in for our end of the week NST on Friday at 9:30 AM. Izzy must begettingthe hang of it, either that or the doctor that was there today, who I hadnever met before, must have lower standards because it took 25 minutestotal, which was wonderful because I had the other kids with me. Izzy wasBOUNCING all over the placeand the heart rate was jumping up and going right back to where itbelonged. The doctor did make a comment that has me a bit perplexed, hesaid"They are delivering you next Thursday right?" and when I said yes then hesaid "well then everything looks great". I wonder if he would have saidsomething else if I had said we went delivering for 3 more weeks?OK, I just KNEW everything seemed to be falling to neatly into place forthis delivery and my recovery period. We got thrown a curveball over theweekend. Brett's baseball team made it into the STATE KNOTHOLE TOURNEYand of course it is at the worst possible time for our family, Friday June28- Sunday June 30. At first we toldBrett he couldn't go and he was cool about it, I was amazed he didn't evenpout, but themore Jay and I talked about it the more we thought this is a once in alifetime chance for him, so barring there being any serious complicationswith the baby, Jay plans to leave here on Friday morning EARLY (like 6 AM)and head up to Bowling Green for Friday and Saturday . If they lose he willdrive home Saturday night, if not the finals are on Sunday. The girls andCade are stayinghere and probably Jake will stay here too, Grant of course is GOING withthem. Jayplans to have us stocked up food wise and to have the house clean /laundrydone before he leaves and I know pizza will be on the menu onenight, I am not sure about how this will all play out. I am prettyBUMMED, I am going to miss my 1st BABY playing in the state tourney! Iactually DEBATED trying to go, but I felt it was a sign I wasn't meant to bethere when the only 3 hotels in the area only had SMOKING rooms left whenJay called for reservations, there is no way in HELL am I taking a newborn(or myasthmatic almost 8 year old) into a smoking room!Reality is sinking in. Less than a week from now this pregnancy will beover and I will be holding my baby in my arms. I am so apprehensive aboutwhat the next week holds and so excited to meet the newest member of myfamily.Until next week!

Week 38: Our final week, day by day, and a letter to Izzy
Saturday: Ballgames, ballgames, and more ballgames. Hannah had a softballgame at 11 AM, Grant had a party to attend at 1 PM, Brett had a baseballgame at 1 PM, Grant had a baseball game at 6 PM. About 10 PM, I startpainting thetrimwork in the dining room, I can't believe we still haven't painted thewall in there yet!Sunday: Father's Day! I was really hoping in the back of my mind that youmight chose today to make your appearance. I couldn't think of a nicer giftto give to your father than one made from his own flesh and blood. Typicalto Riesenberg style though, you decided you are much happier hanging outwhere you are. Probably a smart move. Brett has two basketball gamestoday, we stop by and visit with Grandpa and we have dinner at one of your dad's favorite restaraunts. I steam clean the carpet upstairs, although itisn't much of an improvement, but at least I tried!Monday: 72 hours and counting! A trip to the grocery store is in order.It only take about 2 hours from when we leave the house until we get home,but I am exhausted. The nice thing is I found a beautiful border to put inthe dining room, and the amazing thing is that it actually matches thepaint, not bad since I didn't have a paint sample with me. I take advantageof everyone getting along so well and take an brief nap. Monday night ismore baseball. Both Brett and Hannah have 6:30 games (of course they aren'tat the same ballpark). Brett's team suffers its first loss of the season,so both he and Jay aren't in a good mood the rest of the night. First coatof paint is put on the dining room walls....can you say TERRA COTTA?Tuesday: Doctor's appointment and NST. Back to being a stubborn baby ittakes almost 90 minutes for Izzy to pass the NST. At least the nurse has asense of humor. She would try to get the monitor to pick up the heartrateand the baby would move and we would lose it. How such a large baby canhide is beyond both of us. For every 15 minutes of good tracings, we get about 20 minutes where the heartrate wouldn't register but baby was movingeverywhere! See the doctor and talk about the c-section a bit more, heguesses baby is in the 9 lb range. Only 2 days and we will know if he isright! Grant and Emily both have baseball games Tuesday night. I amgetting sick of being at the ballfield.Wednesday: Our final day as a family of 8! The kids and I run three quick errands and then go and meet my friend, Michelle, and her 3 kids plus the little boy she is babysitting for lunch. After lunch we head to the YMCA, Ifigure I needed to look like a beached whale at least one last time beforegiving birth. After coming home and giving everyone a bath, Jay and Idecided to take everyone to the Olive Garden for a pre-birthday celebration,but my stomach is turning complete somersaults. I think the reality ofeverything is hitting home. Come home and my nervous tendency to keep busyengages. I steam the living room carpet, again not a very good job and thendecide to put the border up in the dining room. BIG MISTAKE! The paint obviously needs to cure for longer than 24 hours, so I have terra cotta streaks all over my sponge. I cringe thinking of what the paint will looklike tomorrow in the sunlight! We stop after getting on roll of the borderof the wall. Guess it will be a post baby project. Jay said he would do itwhile I was in the hospital, but I don't trust his wallpapering abilities.The border and all the wallpaper tools are hidden in the basement under myscrapbooking table. He will never think to look there!Thursday: Today will be your BIRTHDAY! I couldn't sleep at all last night.I kept tossing, turning, reality has set in that things will never again bethe same. I can't believe that today is the day that I will meet this sweetbaby that I have carried for the last 38 weeks!Dear Izzy,As I sit and write you this letter I know that very soon you will no longerbe a part of me, moving, squirming, kicking, hiccupping within my body.Very soon, for the first time, you will see the bright lights, feel the dryair and breath your first breath. I will no longer feel your sharp, hardmovements that stop me in my tracks, but will hear your cries and smell thatsweet intoxicating smell of my newest child.It has taken so much to get us to thispoint. I can't even begin to count how many trips we have made to thedoctor, trying to ensure your safety and mine. I can, because I have had torecord each number, tell you that it has taken 102 insulin injections, 558times testing my blood sugar, and 4 1/2 months on the gestational diabeticdiet to get us here! In the back of my mind, I still doubt the validity ofthe whole gestational diabetes management, I watch everything I eat and theyare still telling me you will weigh over 9 lbs. I think so much of it isheredity, your great grandmother had 4 children and none of them where under10 lbs. I was your grandma's smallest at almost 7 lb, but I was also 4weeks early. Both of my brothers where big babies, one close to ten and theother over ten pounds. I don't regret for one minute following the doctor'sorders and sticking to the diet and taking the insulin, but I still wonderif it really did either of us any good!Just hours from now I will be holding you in my arms. I can't wait to seeyou and drink in every inch of you. I can't wait to hold you to my breastand hear the sound of you suckling. My body will continue to nourish you,but you will be your own person. I can't wait to get to know you!