Gideon Joel: A birth story August 29, 2015
This fourth bundle of joy was determined to keep us waiting just like the other three! His ultimate arrival was speedy, but the buildup started over a week before.
On July 31, the five of us went to Fletcher park for some family time. I speed walked (ok, well, walked as fast as I could) to keep up with Madilyn on her bike and carried Naomi quite a bit. The weather was perfect, and we had a great time as a family. That night, however, I had regular, uncomfortable contractions for about 3 hours. I drank some water, ate dinner, took a shower, and got in the bed to rest. The contractions stopped.
I was on-call at the hospital August 1st and 2nd, and while I didn’t have any contractions, I had a lot of pelvic pressure and discomfort. Turns out, Jumper was dropping a little lower—getting ready little by little. We had Abigail’s birthday party on the 1st, and I am so glad that Jumper held off making his arrival so that Abigail didn’t feel slighted at all on her party day. She had a water party outside that, in total, cost about $25. Victory! With four kids now, cheap birthday parties are essential!
I had my 40-week check-up on Abigail’s actual 6th birthday: Tuesday, August 4, a day after my due date. I was checked and determined to be 1-2cm, but my cervix was only slightly soft and not effaced at all. We had a big day planned for Abigail with Fun Depot and the Hands on Museum, and with Wee-Trade volunteering and shopping on Wednesday and Thursday, I declined a membrane sweep when the midwife offered, but I scheduled one for Friday. Some shots from Abigail’s special day:
After the membrane sweep on August 7, I started having steady, moderately painful contractions that lasted from 5:45-11pm. It wasn’t just the membrane sweep that brought them on, however. We also got news that afternoon that God had brought David a job after over 8 months of searching and 3.5 years of being a stay-at-home dad! We were (and still are) ecstatic and feeling incredibly blessed. “What if we have a baby today too!” David stated shortly after accepting the job. With contractions at a more painful level and coming 2-7 minutes apart, we thought we just might meet our newest addition that night. We got all of our home birth supplies out and ready, made up the bed with fresh sheets, alerted Lisie Pfeiffer Photography, and got in bed to see what would happen. The contractions spaced and ultimately stopped by midnight, though.
Saturday and Sunday were full of 15-30 minute apart contractions that were borderline painful, but mostly just uncomfortable—especially if I was holding Naomi during one. Whoa! I was holding her and singing to her before putting her down for a nap on Saturday, and in the midst of that, I got a contraction. Thank goodness it was mild, but my singing stopped until it passed! At church on Sunday, David got to announce his new job to our connect group, and it was really neat for him to be able to share our testimony and for God’s hand to be so evident in our lives over this 3.5 year journey. Quite a few misty eyes in the crowd—mine and David’s included.
Later that day, we decided to go to SkyTop Orchard for possibly our last family-of-5 hurrah with some good ‘ole fashioned apple picking. Since it was a Sunday afternoon and so early in the season, we were just about the only ones there. The girls had an incredible time playing on the swing sets, feeding the animals, picking apples, and just being together. We are SO glad that we made the decision to go because little did we know, we would be a family of six the next day.
On Monday, August 10th (Jumper’s birthday!), I was officially 41-weeks pregnant. I had an appointment with the midwife, Michelle, that morning and was determined to be 3-4cm, with a soft cervix and Jumper at -1 station. All good, encouraging news! She did another membrane sweep and sent me on my way to a non-stress test at Mission Hospital. It was surreal to be back in the labor and delivery triage area as the last time I was there, I was 10 minutes from delivering Naomi! The test went well, and over the course of the hour I was there, I only had a couple of contractions. Nothing to indicate that labor was right around the corner.
Our county had been in drought conditions for a while, but it rained Monday afternoon! All five of us traipsed outside to play in the downpour for more than an hour—such sweet memories. I tear up just thinking about it; all the joy on the girls’ faces and the pure fun we all had. Can’t wait to make more memories like that!
I had been having contractions, but again, very manageable—borderline painful, but mostly just uncomfortable. At 5:45pm, however, that changed. I was reading a book to Naomi, and I got the first “that-was-different” contraction. Less than 10 minutes later, another one; another one 7 minutes later; and another, and another. Just that morning, the midwife had told me that, “When you go, you’ll go fast. You’re ready.” I told David and decided to head to Target to walk a bit to see if they would intensify; I also needed to pick up a couple of things for the girls and for Jumper, so it was a needed trip.
At 6:15pm, I left and called Lisie on the way just to give her a heads up. While at Target, contractions got stronger to the point that I couldn’t walk through them and had to focus on breathing. After checking out, I took a couple of steps away from the register and got another strong contraction. I rifled aimlessly through my purse so that I didn’t look so odd standing still just past the register for over a minute. I still have the receipt from my purchases that evening: 6:42pm. Amazing how close I was to meeting our fourth kiddo at that point.
When I got to the car, I started timing the contractions. The two I had in the parked car were 3.5 minutes apart. I called Lisie again and put her on high alert. Once home, it was 6:50pm, and I knew the girls would be awake for another 10-15 minutes. I stayed outside walking around and timing contractions until I knew they would be in bed. Contractions were never more than 4 minutes apart.
At 7:10pm, I was inside with David, and contractions were down to 2-3 minutes apart. I could talk between them and a little during them, but they were getting stronger. Usually “they” say to go to the hospital/call the doctor when your contractions are 5 minutes apart, lasting at least a minute, and have been happening that way for at least an hour. While that’s a good rule of thumb, I’ve found that intensity of contractions for me is more of an indicator because I had been having contractions lasting 1-1.5 minutes, less than 4 minutes apart for more than an hour, but I knew how intense they would likely become, so I knew I had time.
I texted my mom at 7:30pm, “May be having a baby tonight. Prayers appreciated! Will keep you posted,” and made the call to the midwife and Lisie at 7:45pm.
Lisie arrived at 8:20pm, and the midwife with her assistant by 8:45pm. Contractions by this point were a little more intense but not lasting a full minute anymore.
By 9:30pm, all the home birth gear was set up and ready to go: basically every flat surface in our bedroom had been cleared off, cleaned, and used as medical equipment storage (everything from herbs and oils to sterile gloves and oxygen).
I was checked and found to be 6cm and 100% effaced with my water intact but “bulging.”
The midwife, her assistant, Lisie, David, and I all hung out in our den, and I leaned against the furniture or stepped away when a contraction hit.
By 10pm, I started squatting with contractions per the midwife’s suggestion to encourage Jumper to drop and my water to break on its own to intensify and speed up labor.
**A brief shout-out to home birth: this was my 4th drug-free labor but my first where I felt in control of my pain the whole time. Were the contractions less intense? Absolutely not! However, I didn’t have the stress of getting the kids off somewhere, packing hospital bags, and going to the hospital. I wasn’t in an unfamiliar, sterile, cold environment where I had been made to feel rushed in labor in the past. No forms to sign. No excessive monitoring (just Doppler monitoring of Jumper’s heart rate between and during contractions once an hour). I could eat and drink as I wished, be alone when I wanted, be with familiar faces when I wanted. Shoot, I even took Lisie downstairs to show her my homes chool room between two contractions at one point. Would highly recommend home birth to other low-risk mamas-to-be. Incredible!
At 10:50pm, while squatting with a contraction, my water broke. The fluid wasn’t clear but a little cloudy with brown flecks in it: mecomium (baby’s first bowel movement) in the water. With a home birth with my midwives’ practice, mecomium in the fluid means an immediate hospital transfer; however, I was progressing so quickly that the midwife felt we would have a car birth if I were to transfer. She checked Jumper after the water broke, and his heartrate was still strong, unchanged. She checked my cervix after the next contraction, but I was still at 6cm. The intensity, though, had ratcheted way up.
I was exhausted from all the up and down of squatting, and it was making me a little dizzy, so I moved to the bed just before 11pm. I felt the beginning of an urge to push, but since I was only 6cm, the midwife encouraged me to breathe through the contractions instead of pushing. I did that for two contractions, then the “beginning of an urge” became the true out-of-control urge to push.
At 11:05pm, I moved down to my side and began truly pushing. After my first large push, the midwife said to David, “You want to come down here?” David let go of my hand to catch Jumper. After less than 5 minutes of pushing, Jumper was born at 11:10pm. The cord was wrapped around the neck twice (likely from all that breech to head down flipping Jumper was doing up until 38 weeks), but the midwife removed it, and I heard the most beautiful cry right away.
David brought the baby up to me and said, “Meet Gideon Joel! It’s a boy!”
He and I both fell apart in a wave of shock, blessing, happiness, and gratitude for a healthy baby. He was 8lb 3oz, 21.5” long with a 14.5” head. He required a little extra suction to clear the fluid from his throat but other than that, he had APGAR scores of 7 and 9. I delivered the placenta just a couple of minutes after Gideon, and Gideon started to root around shortly after that. He latched on with a little encouragement and began to nurse.
And we were at home. In our bed. And the girls slept through the whole thing.
The midwife and assistant cleaned up the room and drew a sitz bath for me, checking Gideon’s and my vitals every little bit. By 1am, Lisie left, having captured some of the most wonderful moments of Gideon’s birth and his first hours of life in photos.
By 2am, the midwife and assistant were packed up and on their way out. And it was just me, David, and Gideon snuggled in the bed.
Not much sleep happened between then and when the girls woke up at 6:45am. I was in the bed with Gideon, and David instructed the girls to, “Go to Mommy and Daddy’s room to see Mommy.” David said that the big girls’ reaction was, “Why? Isn’t it time for breakfast?” When they walked through the door, though, Abigail immediately put her hand to her mouth and was overcome (makes me misty to think about!). Madilyn had a huge grin on her face, and Naomi said, “BABY!!”
They all gathered around Gideon, and I got to tell them, “Girls, you have a baby brother!” to which Madilyn replied, “I was right!” Haha! Abigail kept saying, “He’s so cute, Mommy!” and both big girls took turns holding him before breakfast. Naomi didn’t seem to understand that Gideon wasn’t a doll and kept trying to poke his eyes. Needless to say, she was kept at bay.
My parents came by a little later that morning to pick up the girls for a few days in Greenville while David, Gideon, and I took time to bond and get adjusted a bit. Such a blessing!
We cannot wait to introduce you to our little man! But for now, here are a few pictures of Gideon Joel Mertens at five days old compliments of Lisie Pfeiffer:
Happy 6th birthday, Abigail! August 4, 2015
Six years ago today, Abigail made David and I parents. We were living in Savannah, GA; I was on the management team at GAP until 37 weeks; David was a field engineer working 12-hr days. It was well over 100F everyday for the beginning of Abigail’s life keeping her and me inside a lot. David and I had no idea what we were doing as new parents, but to see Abigail 6 years later, I think we’ve done a few things right :) Happy birthday, sweetheart!
July: Camps Galore July 31, 2015
This month was one of getting things done before baby. David and I knew that being highly productive when I was working 30-40 hours a week would mean the big girls would likely get shafted in the process. So, we signed them up for as many camps as we could, and they absolutely loved every week! This was also our last month as a family of 5. Jumper is due August 3, though if history were to repeat itself, he/she won’t be born until August 10th or later. Stay tuned! And finally, Abigail and I (and a little Madilyn too) started home school July 27. More info below, but it’s been a pretty cool thing!
Ballet is a huge draw for this gal, so when she found out she would get to participate in a ballet camp for a week, she was beside herself. Ever since the camp, she’s been doing all sorts of ballet moves whose names I don’t know how to spell. Ha! Not sure that we’ll stick with ballet this year secondary to the addition of Jumper and introduction of home school, but we are so glad that she enjoyed it as much as she did! Plus there were only 6 girls in her class (2 of whom had to leave 2 hours before it ended each day), so she got a lot of individualized instruction. Way less expensive than the weekly classes during the regular semesters!
With an incredible gymnastics facility 5 minutes from our house and a camp costing less than $4.25 an hour combined with the fact that the theme of the camp was “Super Soakin’,” we knew we had to send the big girls. They were in class together and seemed to really enjoy their time. Not too sure how much actual structured gymnastics took place, but hey, they were active and having fun for a 4.5 hour stretch each day that week!
Starting this year with Madilyn’s 4th birthday, my parents have been doing a “Birthday Adventure” with the birthday girl in place of a wrapped gift. So far, it’s consisted of a mailed invitation, an overnight in Greenville with my parents, lots of individual attention and fun activities (nail salon, children’s museum, parks, bounce houses, meals at restaurants, baking, Dollar Store shopping, etc). With Jumper due to arrive the day before Abigail’s birthday, my parents picked her up a couple of weeks early to celebrate. She had an incredible time and is still sporting about 6/10 “starburst” fingernails from her manicure and will randomly tell us little tidbits about her time. Mom, you’re so creative! Thank you!
Granny Camp—this was at my parents’ house in Greenville, and I’ll detail it below with Madilyn’s camps.
On July 27, we started our home school year. It took quite a bit of time, planning, and organizing to get the space set up, but I love how it turned out! Major thanks to David for his assembly and hanging work, and shout out to IKEA of Charlotte! There are a few pictures below of the girls working, and while I didn’t think I would incorporate Madilyn she’s fit in rather seamlessly. More details below. Abigail has been thoroughly enjoying the time, and after a week now, I feel like I’m sort of getting into a groove. That said, David has been keeping Naomi upstairs, so that’s made life a lot easier. Next week, I’m going to trial having her downstairs and troubleshoot a bit before David’s employed outside the house and I have no choice but to have Naomi downstairs! Each day in home school, we follow a Memoria Press curriculum that incorporates phonics, spelling, arithmetic, reading, Bible, copywork, literature, and enrichment activities. As I have just about zero organized teaching experience, I really like the way this curriculum is well-rounded and very clear cut/organized. I don’t have to do a ton of work ahead of time, just a little planning. Yay! And we’re going to be operating on a year-round calendar which has David and I incredibly excited for the future: family trips in the off season and little loss of knowledge over the summer as summer break will be 4-5 weeks instead of 8-9. Exciting new chapter for us!
While Abigail was in ballet camp, Madilyn participated in an NC Arboretum camp, and it was right up her alley. Each day was filled with hiking, creek play, bug and other critter catching/touching, nest hunting, etc. She had an absolutely incredible time and was wiped out by the time she got home. There were waiting lists for all of the Arboretum camps by the time we looked into signing the girls up, and Madilyn lucked into a spot. Next year, we’ll sign up both girls earlier because $80 for a whole week of outdoor/science/nature based half-day camp is a pretty sweet deal!
Madilyn also participated in Hahn’s camp, but has been asking about ballet. Maybe in another year or two!
My parents hosted all 3 girls for a week in early July for the 3rd annual Granny Camp (is that right, Mom, or has it been 4 years?). Each day is planned out in detail and includes a craft, an outing, a service project, a visit, loads of singing and reading and playing…just fun all around. The girls had a wonderful time, and when we went to pick them up at the end of the week, they even had a “Granny Camp Show” to perform complete with song and dance and craft description. They had an extended audience as my grandparents, brother, and sister-in-law all came up to enjoy it. A fun mini family reunion!
No camps for this gal (aside from Granny Camp, of course), so she was David’s “helper” during the time the big girls were away. She has continued to demonstrate her strong will and is one feisty kiddo. At 20 months, she sure is efficient at communicating exactly what she does and does not like. Ha! It’s pretty funny to see such a small person be so defiant at times.
She loves music and will ask for “more” whenever a song ends; she did the same thing during July 4th fireworks: one would shoot off, and Naomi would shout “More!!” She is a big time mama’s girl when I’m present. She has a fantastic time with David, but the moment I step on the scene, it’s “maMA, maMA!” Emphasis on the wrong syllable but pretty cute. She sprouted all 4 incisors and 2 molars in July which means only two 2-year molars stand between her and a mouth full of 20 teeth!
July was a month of big transitions for Naomi too. She moved into her big girl bed (bottom bunk) and into the room with her big sisters (Abigail got her own bed by the bunks). So far, that has been a pretty smooth change for all involved. This move allowed David and I to get Jumper’s room all set up and do work in there even when the girls were asleep since the room was devoid of kiddos. Additionally, we started potty training on July 25—straight to panties! That of course meant a lot of laundry for the first few days, but by day 5, she was accident free and indicating when she had to go. David has ventured out a few times with her, and so far, no accidents. She is still wearing a diaper for naps and bedtime, but we are in no rush for that to change. No one likes to change wet sheets!
I’ve been trying to document the words she has because our kids tend to be on the late bloomer side in terms of verbal language. She’s doing great, though, and these are the words I could think of that she says consistently: all done, more, mama, dada, up, down, eat, open, milk, water, please, boo, dog, bird, moo, woof, meow, ice, night night, bye bye, hi, duck, neigh neigh, no, yes, berry, bah bah, poop, tee tee, and probably more I can’t remember. She is also joining two words together at a time about half of the time. So glad she is figuring out how to communicate as it has eased some of her craziness. Emphasis on “some.” Haha!
This baby may need to be renamed “spinner” because he/she was breech on 7/1, head down 7/7, breech 7/14, head down 7/21, and thankfully head down again on 7/29. Usually babies don’t completely flip this late in pregnancy, but according to the midwives, by the time you’re having a 4th baby, your uterus is stretched out to a point that baby still has plenty of room to maneuver all the way up to the end.
Bonus of having a baby change position so much? Ultrasounds to confirm position! While the girls were at Granny Camp, David and I got to take a sneak peak at Jumper at 36 weeks gestation. The ultrasound tech even turned on the 3D setting so we got to see some pouty lips, squishy cheeks, and a head full of hair. My fluid levels looked good, and Jumper was estimated to be 7lbs at that point.
That said, I have been measuring small, so who knows the size! At my most recent appointment for 39 weeks, I was measuring closer to 36/37 weeks.
We shall see! On July 29, our Connect Group at church threw a joint baby shower for me and Elizabeth (she is due about three weeks after me). It was primarily a diapers and wipes shower, and now Jumper’s closet is overflowing with both. Such a huge blessing! Additionally, at the tail end of granny camp, my mom did a “fill the freezer” shower where she, Chelsey (sister-in-law), and I assembled triple recipes of three different freezer meals. So David and I left Greenville with 9 large meals that will likely feed our brood for 2 nights each. Another huge blessing! Thank you!
Jumper is technically “due” on Monday; we will see!
We celebrated July 4th in the morning by attending the Hendersonville Independence Day parade. We even got interviewed by the news afterwards; got to watch it on my parents’ DVR the next week at Granny Camp. So fun! After naps/quiet times, we headed to the Biltmore Estate with the Pfeiffer’s and their three boys. We had a picnic, played on the playground, went to the petting zoo, got ice cream, caught fireflies, and watched the fireworks over the Inn at Biltmore. Once home, we put Naomi in bed (10pm or so—ahhh!), then let the big girls do a few sparklers.
While the girls were at Granny Camp, I worked 6-7 hrs a day, but David and I were crazy productive. It was so nice! We organized, cleaned out and painted the garage (including David making a shelf/rack for all our large tools/lawn equipment), got items ready for wee trade, installed a new mailbox and post, reorganized all the girls’ bedrooms, assembled a new bed for Abigail, and basically did a top to bottom reorganization of our whole house, but made sure to make time to relax, watch movies/tv, order out, and sleep in! Bliss!
As of July 10, I am a permanent PRN at Park Ridge, though the details of that after maternity leave are up in the air a bit. For June and July, I was working 30-40 hrs a week there. I wrapped up my full time status with RehabCare July 1 and am PRN there as well.
On July 11, David went rafting in Tennessee with a big group of guys. It was a group Father’s Day present and a surprise. The French Broad River last year wasn’t all that exciting, rapids-wise, so we sent the guys to a river with higher class rapids, and they were not disappointed!
A couple of weeks later, my mom came up to watch the girls for the day while David and I went to Charlotte. We used up a $50 gift card to the Cheesecake Factory then headed over to IKEA. We were able to get a few pieces of furniture for home school (table, chairs, storage unit, etc) and organization stuff for the house. We were only in the store for 2 hours but managed to get about everything we needed. So nice!
Also, with baby coming soon and us anticipating being unable to host folks for a while, we’ve had some friends over for dinner, and we wish we’d started doing it earlier. It’s been a lot of fun! Having been in the town home for so long an so limited in space, we forget that we actually have the capacity to have a group over. The Angoves came over last week and the Harrisons this week. The majority of the kids between us are of an age where they are completely independent playing, so it’s nice to fellowship with the adults while the kids basically entertain themselves! We and the kids have thoroughly enjoyed having the company and plan to keep it going in the future. So nice!
The next time I post, it’ll be about the birth of the new baby! Prayers appreciated! Actually have had my first actual contractions tonight, though those have happened with previous pregnancies more than one time in consistent bouts that fizzled out. Definitely don’t feel like I’m in labor yet. Progress, though!
By the way, the photos at the very bottom of this post are compliments of Lisie Pfeiffer Photography. Lisie is an incredible lifestyle photographer and has done sessions with our family before. She’s doing birth and newborn photos for Jumper, and we cannot wait to see what the end result will be. Highly recommend her! She also did Greg and Chelsey’s engagement photos, local weddings, etc etc. Give her a call!
June: Summer is here! June 30, 2015
In this month, we saw the end of kindergarten, the end of full-time work for me for now, and the beginning of summer fun!
Abigail enjoyed her kindergarten year and is really looking forward to homeschool in the fall. She keeps asking me when we’re starting and has been putting activities aside saying, “This would be fun for homeschool!” I’m pretty stoked too. Not sure how it’ll go with a newborn at home too, but we’re going to take it slow and figure it out little by little.
Reading and writing continue to be this gal’s favorite pastimes in addition to dancing and climbing. She’s definitely a lot more carefree since being out of school, is able to sleep later, and has come more out of her shell. She’s gotten really into board games—especially Monopoly, Jr and Memory. She’s been asking more questions about Jesus and asking him into her heart. We’re answering her questions but letting her lead with making that decision when she’s ready. So exciting!
This girl’s imagination is so vibrant! She loves make believe and taking on the attributes of various characters that she creates. At the breakfast table, she will share all sorts of “dreams” she’s had the night before ranging from dinosaurs and spiders bigger than our house to rollercoasters and ballets. She has very little fear as she’ll kill bugs, will try new things without a lot of concern, and hasn’t had any issue with swimming lessons. She keeps us on our toes for sure.
She’s showing continued interest in reading and is wanting to practice writing. We’re planning to put her in the same preschool this fall with the teachers Abigail had for 4-year preschool, and she’s super excited to get started.
She is now 20 months old and feisty. Whew. She is our strong-willed child for sure! She’s a ton of fun and keeps us laughing, but if she’s upset or dissatisfied with something, she’s going to make everyone around her pay for that. We’re working on bending the will without breaking her spirit. Tough to do!
She keeps adding words and has started to combine 2 words here and there. It’s really adorable. We took the side off of her crib and added a shorter safety rail. In a few weeks, we’ll be moving her to the lower bunk where Abigail sleeps now and move Abigail to her own bed. Should be interesting! In other exciting (terrifying) news, Naomi will enter potty training boot camp after returning from granny camp in a couple of weeks. We’re excited to hopefully have her down to diapers during nap/nighttime before Jumper is born. Prayers appreciated!
I’m now 35 weeks along, so 5-6 weeks until we meet this new little one. I’ve had two appointments since the last blog post, and everything is looking good—blood pressure is good, Jumper’s heart rate is in the 130s, and I’m measuring right where I should. We’ve bought all our homebirth supplies (SO many!) and had our home visit.
I did, however, have an appointment today which revealed Jumper is in a breech position (head up, feet down). The midwife said that as this is my fourth baby, there’s a lot more room for baby to move around in a stretched out uterus and that this little one may still be somersaulting for another couple of weeks. Despite that, I’ve been scheduled for a consult for a version (manual flipping of baby) in a few weeks as a last resort. In the meantime, I’ll be consulting Spinning Babies (website) for tips on positions I can get in to encourage Jumper to move head down and stay that way! May investigate acupuncture and/or chiropractor too!
From here on out, I’ll be at the midwife every week for follow ups, so we’ll get weekly updates on position. Praying Jumper shifts back down soon and stays there!
David continues to have positive interviews, but no offers yet. We’ve started feeling like perhaps he won’t be offered employment until a few months after Jumper is born. It might just make more sense in terms of getting adjusted to being a family of 6 plus homeschooling. David will continue to search and interview, though, until the offer comes!
As a last hurrah before Jumper comes, David and I planned a pseudo last-minute family vacation to Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA for earlier this month. We had a blast! We were gone a Saturday through Wednesday and thoroughly enjoyed all the family time. We stayed in Charleston with the Dobberfuhl’s Saturday and got to let the kiddos roam and play, then it was off to Savannah Sunday-Wednesday. We started off Sunday afternoon at our old apartment complex where we introduced the girls to fiddler crabs in the back marsh. Then we went to Forsyth park for some exercise and came back to our rental house (VRBO.com is the way to go!) for dinner and bed.
On Monday, we set off for Tybee beach at 7:45am and stayed through noon. The girls had an absolute blast, and we nearly had the beach to ourselves. We got to see jellyfish, two horseshoe crabs, dolphins, and an animal which folks out in the water reported was a sea turtle. We didn’t get close enough to confirm, but the girls were stoked. There was also a roped off sea turtle nest on the beach which the girls got to walk around; they had so many questions about the baby turtles inside. After naps, we headed back toward the beach but stopped at The Crab Shack for dinner. The girls tried everything and found out that they liked just about all of it: crayfish, crab legs, shrimp, mussels, and more (everything steamed or boiled). Delish—especially since it was all combined with sausage, corn, and potatoes!
Tuesday, we went back to the beach, but Savannah was under a heat advisory, so we barely made it to 11am before Naomi was close to overheating (even under an umbrella drinking ice water), so we headed back to the house for lunch and naps. After naps, it was off to Vinnie Van Go Go’s for pizza. Let me set the stage: it’s 100F (110F with the heat index), and the restaurant did not have indoor seating that would accommodate 5 people—outside we went. We were under a canopy, but the sun was low enough in the sky that it was beneath the canopy line. Then our 450F pizza fresh out of the oven was placed in front of us. It was literally too hot to touch. Everyone was eating ice chips and having cold water poured on them but still flushed and uncomfortable. Needless to say, we didn’t eat much before boxing up the pizza and going to Leopold’s for ice cream and air conditioning!!
Wednesday, we had a leisurely start and got on the road, stopping in Columbia to see Granny and Papa Schwartz for lunch and some relaxation before making our way back into the COOL mountains Wednesday night.
A couple of days later, David and about 10 other dads went camping with their combined 20+ kids over 3 years old. From the pictures and the stories I’ve heard, it was a great time filled with awesome memories.
For father’s day, the girls brought David breakfast in bed and surprised him with a rafting trip with 9 other guy friends coming up in a couple of weeks. He’s pretty excited about that! After church and naps, we headed out into Mills River to play in the water and soak up some more family time.
The past two weeks have been Vacation Bible School for the girls at Biltmore Baptist’s Arden and Hendersonville campuses. The theme this year was “The Lord’s Army Boot Camp,” and the girls have eaten it up! They love the songs and have learned a tremendous amount. I’m glad the songs are catchy since we’re listening to them on repeat in the car day after day after day. Ha!
May–it’s spring time! May 31, 2015
This is our first spring in the new house, and it has been so much fun seeing the place come to life—the trees, flowers, bushes, grass…everything green! Also, the girls have really started getting into exploring the creek in the back yard—never mind that David found a snake by it a few days ago. Haha!
So that new-found bravery with the water? Vanished! We are back to terrified of being in a pool without floats. Three swim lessons to go…We really just want her to learn what to do if she were to fall in. Last summer, she had a going-under incident and didn’t problem solve at all, so David jumped in after her, fully clothed. Praying she gets another boost of bravery soon!
She’s been having a really difficult time lately with me being away so much. With all the hours I’m working, I really only see the girls 45 minutes to an hour each day. Unacceptable in my mind, but I don’t know a way around it right now. Abigail’s behavior has been more challenging, and David and I really feel it’s a cry for attention and consistency in our lives. Praying we can give her more of both soon.
All in all, Abigail has had a wonderful kindergarten year. Excited for summer, though, and for the future.
Madilyn has always been the most sensitive of the kiddos—physically. None of the girls do well with processed food in general, but Madilyn is particularly sensitive. We had a box-mix cake for my birthday, and Madilyn promptly threw it all up that night. We really only drink water at our house—milk occasionally. After a soccer game, the snacks provided for the players included a Hawaiian punch. Before I even thought about it, Madilyn had finished the bottle. Later that day? She broke out in hives all over with diarrhea to boot. If that doesn’t turn us off from artificial food colorings/preservatives, etc, not sure what will!
Speaking of soccer, Madilyn is having a ton of fun playing soccer under David’s coaching. Her team, the Wolves, seem to enjoy their time together, and the emphasis truly is on having fun—not winning/losing. Most of her games have been at 9am which has been super nice—beat the heat!
Madilyn continues to be outgoing and hilarious. She rarely meets a stranger and remembers all kinds of details about time spent with others. She loves to talk about her “buddies,” and introduces all of us to said buddies whenever she gets the chance. Adorable.
Whew. Strong-willed child, eh? Yeah, we’ve got one of those. Yikes! This girl is an enigma in our house—throwing toys, hitting, being blatantly defiant…all on a daily basis. Got our hands full, it appears. Working on discipline with her and trying to be as consistent as possible.
Had her 18-month check up. All is well! 25lb 2oz (down a bit from the 15 month one), 31 or 32″…can’t remember, with a 19.25″ head. Growing up so fast! She’s adding more and more words—“no!” being one of them. Heh.
She’s been a mama’s girl lately. I’ve enjoyed it, but it does get a little exhausting to both me and David after a while. Read: fits of rage if mama isn’t in constant contact with her.
We went back to covering her thumbs at night, then went to the dentist where we were told to stop worrying about it until she’s a little older. Not sure I agree, but it’s a whole heck of a lot easier to just let it go for now. Will revisit later!
Potty training will start soon as she’s starting to consistently report when she’s pooped or when she needs a clean diaper. Both Abigail and Madilyn started around 19/20 months, so we’ll kick things off with her later in June. Would love to have her relatively day-trained before baby. Would be SO nice!
I’m now 31 weeks pregnant and cannot believe in 9-10ish weeks, we’ll be a family of 6. Wow! Jumper is growing big and strong: at my 28-week appointment, I was measuring right at 27 weeks, and heart rate was 136bpm. He/she loves when I drink ice water or eat chocolate (or maybe hates it…not sure, but doing either makes for crazy baby movement)! In an odd turn of events, I failed the 1-hour glucose test twice! Ugh. I passed the 3-hour one, though. Praise God for that! Had I failed, home birth would not have been an option. Glad it’s still on the table. Oh, and Jumper is head down, ready to go!
With every pregnancy I am amazed by the comments folks make. I’m pretty numb to the majority of it having heard it for three other pregnancies, but I’ve got to give a PSA: never comment on a pregnant woman’s size. Ever. It’s never ok. Ever. Ever. Ever. I had a full 2 additional paragraphs that I deleted. Heh. Never type when you’re agitated! Anyway, you get the gist. “You look wonderful” is always appropriate!
May was a busy month filled with:
—my 31st birthday where we stayed home from church and had a family night
—David’s continued job search
—the big girls’ dance recital
—VitalStim conference for me in Charlotte: checked out IKEA for the first time, and David got to have a solo weekend thanks to my parents keeping the girls in Greenville for a couple of days.
—Homeschool conference in Winston-Salem=girls weekend plus lots of learning about the ins and outs of homeschooling
—Our family’s first experience with the stomach bug. Abigail got it first, then David. I had something a week later, but am not sure if it was that or food poisoning. Regardless, no.fun.at.all.
—date night out to Strada (Italian restaurant in Asheville) plus a screening of “The Long Start to the Journey”—a documentary made by a local film maker documenting his thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. Incredible! And David won a raffle prize before the screening to boot: ziplining for 2 in the Nantahala Outdoor Center! It’s our second ziplining gift certificate. Gotta keep hanging on to them til I’m able to participate too! Ha!
Until next month, enjoy some photos:
April—Grandparent time and loads of rain April 30, 2015
“April showers…” certainly held true this month. Whew! Glad to be in the “May flowers” part!
As she grows, she continues to get braver. She’s been doing things that, for her, are incredibly risky: standing on swings while swinging, riding her bike down hills, swimming lessons. So proud that she’s beginning to overcome her fears. As a typical first child, she is incredibly concerned about branching out at the risk of not being perfect the first go around. We’re working on that with her. She continues to love her ballet lessons and reading, reading, reading. Constantly reading—and writing, for that matter! This gal is a reading/writing fanatic. She was SO excited to tell us that the book fair was coming to her school: “There are SO many books!! Which ones do you think I should get?”
This gal has very few fears, it seems. She loves her swimming lessons and has cried when they end. She is a speed demon on her balance bike (nearly time for a bike with training wheels to learn some pedaling) and has no fear of hills. She enjoys climbing to the highest point she can at a playground and hasn’t met a slide she wouldn’t try. She wants to read so badly and has all but begged David and I to teach her. We will soon–probably once summer is here. Madilyn is also big into board games and loves when David, Abigail, and I join her in a family game. It doesn’t take her long to master the rules of a new game, and we’re constantly impressed with her ability to participate in games a bit above her age range. Puzzles are also a favorite right now—100 pieces is the highest we’ve let her try. Need to buy a few high piece level ones! Madilyn started soccer this month too—with David as her coach! She’s really committed to the game and has been learning the rules from David. All this activity has made Madilyn get significantly stronger and increase her endurance. So nice!
We had such high hopes for eliminating the thumb sucking. She was a left-handed thumb sucker, so we covered the left hand. Then she discovered she could suck her right thumb. So we tried to cover both. That was a disaster in the sleep-department. So we consented for the time being until we figure out another plan. She’s probably teething again because her fingers—and sometimes most of her fist—are ever present in her mouth. She’s holding strong with 12 teeth, and we’re just waiting for those incisors and/or molars to pop through and round out her toddler smile. She has become quite a mama’s girl and will start exclaiming “Mama! Mama! Mama!” whenever she hears my voice on the phone or when I walk through the door and start talking. It’s adorable. She’s added a few more words this month—all with the same starting sounds she’s already mastered: d, t, b, m. It’s so cool to see her grow and learn about the language in the world around her. Her utensil usage has gotten a lot better, though we still help her some portion of every meal. She’s obsessed with food like her older sisters and will fall apart if it’s near a mealtime but we’re not eating the moment she thinks we should. Ha!
Had our first appointment with the midwives for our home birth, and all went well. Unfortunately this month I had incredibly intense sciatica pain and pelvic separation pain. It got so bad, actually, that there were numerous instances during my work day when I just couldn’t take another step secondary to the pain. Thankfully, “jumper” has shifted his/her position, and that pain has subsided. “Jumper’s” heart rate was in the 130s/140s, and he/she was all over the place during the midwife’s attempt at listening to the heart rate longer. I am measuring right on track, and have enjoyed the onset of fetal hiccups, frequent movement—even getting to watch some of the movement, and have had fun letting the girls feel for the baby. So sweet.
I’m sleepy while I’m typing this, so a list will have to suffice: April fool’s day, Easter (girls were sick, but we had an egg hunt around the house that was fun), David planned a men’s camping trip, I started PRN shifts at two other buildings in an effort to save up for “Jumper,” David’s parents came to town, James had a birthday party, we dedicated Naomi at church with my parents in the audience, and David has had several job interviews with local companies; praying progress continues!
March 2015—in like a lion? Nah, pretty tame. March 31, 2015
We definitely had weather ups and downs in March, but for the most part, it’s been nice. And we’ve been HEALTHY all month long. I’m writing this blog a couple of days into April–and one day after Naomi stayed at the YMCA’s childcare for 1 hour. She’s been up hacking over and over tonight. Surgical masks at the ready!
Not a whole lot to report aside from her growing love for her sisters and fascination with the growing baby in my tummy. She has felt the baby kick, and it thrills her to no end! Recently, she’s gotten into picking Naomi up and giving her hugs. Also, she’s showing a lot more empathy toward Madilyn—a welcomed improvement! Ballet is still her thing, and she loves practicing her recital piece.
She misses me so much when I’m at work, and she tells me as much. One day early in March, I was able to get off of work early. I decided to surprise her at school for lunch, not sure how she’d react. I knew she’d be happy, but you never know exactly how Abigail will respond to a surprise. When her class came walking down the hall and she saw me, she exclaimed under her breath, “Mommy!!” and as I walked toward her to give her a hug, she broke down and cried. “I am so happy you came to see me at school…can you stay for a long time?” heart.ripped.out.
I feel like I type this every month, but she is truly the sweetest little kiddo. She will ask to snuggle nearly anytime I’m sitting down, will go along with most every idea Abigail throws out there for something to do, offers to help David and I throughout the day, and beams like the sun when she gets to be the helper at preschool. She loves to wake Naomi up in the morning (as does Abigail)—and by “wake Naomi up” I mean “walk into the room where Naomi is squawking and say ‘Good morning!'”
She is dropping her nap little bit little and will skip a nap every few days. Recently, David has been taking time with Madilyn on skipped nap days to teach her soccer. Her practices through Upward Sports start mid-April, and soccer is sort of David’s thing. Madilyn has LOVED the one-on-one time and has picked up the basics really quickly.
Madilyn also lets me know how hard it is to not see me all day, so on the day I surprised Abigail, I surprised Madilyn first. She had a much different reaction—positive still, thankfully! She stood up in class when I got there to pick her up and said proudly, “Everyone, my mommy came to pick me up today! Hi Mommy!” Big hugs and kisses followed.
This big girl is 16 months old and changing and developing so much with each new month. We have started to train her on utensils, and so far, she’s rocking it out with her fork; the spoon is a little more difficult, though the items we’ve given her to scoop are thin and not really ideal. Fail.
We are also beginning the process of breaking the thumb-sucking habit. She only sucks it when she’s sleeping, but hearing horror stories from other parents about how long that habit can hang around, we decided to try and nip it now. Just like we did with Abigail (who only sucked her thumb for a month), we put a sock over Naomi’s hand at naptime and tape it in place. It only took one day before she understood and would start holding her hand up for us to put a sock on at nap and bedtime. Heh.
Other new changes: first pig tails, climbing all over–including walking up our ridiculously steep driveway, is smiling on command—though it’s a bit crooked and growly (haha!), and she understands so much of what we’re saying. New words this month: ba for ball, muh for milk, a true “mama” when referencing me (hurray!!). She has all her teeth except 8—missing the incisors and 2-year molars, though she appears to be working on some now.
We had our ultrasound, and though I looked up once when the technician was in the vicinity, I didn’t look hard enough to see anything. Looked right away! Baby looked good and healthy—measuring at 9oz. My mom came with David and all three girls It sounded like a beautiful experience in my head, but the execution of it was much different. The baby is just as active as its big sisters, and both Abigail and Madilyn have felt the baby kick.
Per David’s suggestion, “jumper” will be the nickname for baby 4. Twist, Kick, and Flip have a fitting little sibling!
March meant a couple of pretty cool things: the END of my Clinical Fellowship Year—paperwork has been submitted, and I’m waiting on final confirmation that I’m a fully licensed and certified Speech-Language Pathologist; the beginning of covering a maternity leave for another SLP which means increased hours; the beginning of PRN (as needed) work at two other facilities in the area to start saving money for Jumper; additional editing jobs—also to save money, and David’s job search kicking into super high gear. Oh, and then there’s this other little thing: my little brother got MARRIED! Welcome to the family, Chelsey! The big girls were in the wedding, and I was a bridesmaid and played accompaniment for a singer. We had loads of fun, and the girls really dance the night away. Precious memories.