October: Fall break, Baby firsts, family fun October 31, 2015
Another month gone already? October was a bit of a blur—thanks to sleep deprivation and busy schedules, I’m sure. We had a lot of fun, though.
Abigail’s love for reading has extended to new places this month, and it’s been so fun. She spends some portion of every.single.day. reading to her sisters and/or to Gideon and has additionally begun reading independently for pleasure. She’ll ask, “Can I go to my room and close the door and just read for a little bit?” I did the same thing as a kid, so this thrills me to no end! Just a couple of days ago, I got her the first book in “The Boxcar Children” series that I read as a kid, and she’s devouring it! Suggestions for other chapter book series for early readers?
Our homeschool experience continues to evolve. We recently hit the 50th day of homeschool, and it’s been a fun and challenging ride. Most recently, we started Wacky Wednesdays where we do something just a little bit different and special (e.g. pajama day, silly sock day, etc). Abigail had a lot of fun brainstorming a long list of options to pick from.
We’re also figuring out ways to make what she’s learning more practical and fun instead of relying solely on worksheets and drills. For example, we’re using arithmetic skills as applied to money/money games, temperature, baking/cooking, etc; for handwriting, Abigail had the idea to have pen pals, so we’re attempting to get that underway; and for reading, of course, we’re doing more pleasure reading instead of just phonics study. So far, so good! Hoping to add in some science and art with local courses around town. Stay tuned.
I must say, though, that being in homeschool has made Abigail much more grateful for time spent with friends and really soaks up that time with pals. We make sure that it happens on a regular basis so that she doesn’t feel any sort of isolation, but she’s not surrounded by peers 7+ hours every single day, so when it does happen, she’s all about it.
Oh, and this girl loves ballet. I mean, loves loves loves it. It’s so great to see her exploding with excitement in anticipation over something like ballet! She practices at home and is constantly demonstrating her new moves. Not sure if this will be a passion that continues for years and years, but we are happy to encourage it as long as she loves it!
I’m not sure what to do school-wise with this one. She loves preschool but has been quite vocal about how she feels left out with Abigail, Naomi, and Gideon home all day while she goes off to preschool. I was really hoping to keep her in school until kindergarten, but am open to bringing her home whenever it’s appropriate. Will keep checking in with her to see what she wants to do. She definitely misses being home and probably feels lost in the shuffle between all my focus on Abigail (homeschool) and Gideon (uh, he’s a baby and requires A LOT of time/focus/energy) and Naomi (little pistol).
She’s still our outdoorsy, bug-loving, risk-taking daughter, though. One of the pictures I have of her this month is in the backyard holding a branch of a tree up in the air like it’s a million bucks. She’s constantly got dirty fingernails and worn knees on her pants from all her digging and adventuring outside around the house. She’d rather ride her bike than walk and wants to jump off of everything. She’s still enrolled in gymnastics, but she doesn’t LOVE it like Abigail loves ballet. We’re brainstorming what she might get more enthused about, though she does say she enjoys gymnastics. Suggestions?
And in really exciting news, she just read her first two BOB books recently. She is so proud of herself (and we are crazy proud of her too)! She loves having Abigail read to her, but says she can’t wait to read to Abigail. She seeks a lot of approval from Abigail as she admires her and really looks up to her. We have been trying to make Abigail more aware and sensitive to this fact as she will sometimes brush Madilyn off a bit. Work in progress!
Oh my goodness. I love this girl so much and am pretty much certain she will be the cause of my first gray hairs. I think we were spared the terrible 2s for the most part with Abigail and Madilyn, so Naomi is making up for them and doing a great job living out her own terrible 2s. This too shall pass.
Truthfully, I think a lot of her acting out and tantrums stem from her lack of spoken language ability. She is our third child whose spoken language has come late. She understands everything we say to her but is quite limited in her ability to respond. She relies on gestures and grunts for a lot of her communication. The speech pathologist in me makes sure she at least attempts the correct word, but a lot of her verbalizations are vowelized, and she’s pretty consistently dropping the initial consonant (and sometimes final consonant too) of words. Geez. Talk about a tough case!
If you ask her any question (ANY…yes any), she will immediately answer “NO!” before considering any other answer. She has bitten, kicked, scratched, hit, slapped everyone except Gideon. Of course there are consequences for her behavior, and David and I have been very consistent with that. She’s just really strong-willed. Praying that our consistency in discipline and our overt love toward her will eventually break through—oh, and that her language would improve soon because, well, I’m trying everything I know to do from what I learned in grad school, but so far, limited luck.
She is quite the comedienne, though, and a great physical actress—mimicking movements or poses of people around her/in magazines/in books/in movies, etc. It’s fun to watch—kind of like miming or something. She’s got a great smile, and she really does love her sisters, brother, and “mamaaaaaa” and “dadaaaaa.” Heh. Can’t wait to see how her personality continues to develop. She’ll be 2 in just a couple of weeks—can’t believe it!
Gideon hit the 2-month mark this month and has had quite a few firsts: first laugh (10/9), first 12-hr straight stretch at night (10/15), first time rolling from tummy to back (10/16), and his first cold (compliments of his sisters) in addition to first coo-like talking and more happy awake time. We used the time change to our advantage and moved his bedtime back to 6:30pm instead of 7:30pm. While he did have a great 12-hr stretch a couple of weeks back, he’s pretty consistently going 7-9 hours at night before we hear from him. Not too shabby!
He’s still napping 4 times a day around 8am, 11am, 1pm, and 5pm, goes down for the night between 6:30-6:50pm, and wakes up once around 3am before nursing and going back to bed til 6:30am. Not too bad!
He hates bottles. We did a bottle bootcamp last month, and after doing mostly all bottles for two days in a row, he was downing them like a champ. But it’s really difficult (ok, almost impossible) for me to give him bottles during the week and make time to pump too to keep him well practiced with bottles. That means on the weekend when I’m working, I’m basically having to just come home to nurse him because he’s refusing bottled breast milk. Praying this changes soon!
He nurses 5-6 times every 24 hours and is pretty efficient (only 10-15 minutes total), so that’s nice! I wish I was able to savor the nursing time with him, but I’m usually in the midst of chaos while he’s eating—often having to hold him on while taking Naomi to the potty or helping Abigail with homeschool stuff. Heh. Multitasking at its craziest!
He’s still in size 2 diapers but is nearly maxing out his 3-6 month footed sleepers. Such a long baby! He enjoys tummy time for a few minutes each day and is getting increasingly happy on his floor mat and bouncy seat. He still falls asleep on me and nuzzles into my neck…soaking it all up as we are officially finished with having kiddos—no possible way to turn back now. So excited that our family is complete!
A list of events from October to remind myself of later: homeschool fall break from the last week of September through October 12, homeschool co-op for leaf art, apple picking at SkyTop with Blythe and her kiddos, I started back to work at Park Ridge on the weekends, the girls spent a weekend in Greenville, we caught then lost then caught then lost again then finally caught a stray kitten that had been hanging out around our house a couple of days, pumpkin patch fun, family bonfire, co-op for pumpkin carving, Halloween. See you next month!
September: Role Reversal September 30, 2015
This month saw the beginning of David’s work with Duke Energy and my transition to stay-at-home-mom life to the four kids. The first couple of weeks were pretty tough for me, but it’s gotten much better. David’s first couple of weeks of work were full of HR-related tasks, orientation, ride-alongs, etc, and then in week 3, he has started his first project and software training. So far, so good!
Homeschool continues to go well with Abigail–we are 40 school days into our 165-day year and are currently on a 2-week fall break. I am loving the flexibility of homeschooling combined with a year-round schedule. It makes the load feel a lot more manageable with more regular breaks. Also, we are participating in a homeschool co-op with a few other homeschooling families in our connect group at church. That’s been a huge blessing to me and the girls—having weekly meet-ups with other families doing the same thing we are. September’s theme was apples, so we went to the apple orchard, made an apple pie, and read apple books among other fun activities. It’s definitely something we look forward to each week!
Abigail has done great without her training wheels and learned to turn around on her own. The only thing left to learn is how to push off so that we don’t have to get her started every time. It’s been incredibly rainy the past week, so we haven’t been out and practicing but hope to be able to get out soon.
One of the things Abigail wanted to learn during fall break was how to braid. Surprising, she picked it up incredibly quickly and is able to now braid quickly and consistently. Her next request? Braiding her hair. Heh. We’ll have to wait and see how that goes!
Not to be outdone, Madilyn immediately requested to learn how to braid as well. She’s getting the hang of it! She also requested that her training wheels be removed. She rocked it out for the day, but then we haven’t gotten around to letting her practice anymore. Ack! Gotta have a family park day once the sun decides to shine again.
In other exciting news, I started reading lessons with Madilyn a few weeks back, and she’s about 1/4 of the way through “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons” (the same book we used with Abigail), and she’s doing great. She’s gotten into drawing and coloring a lot more recently and loves writing words all over her pictures, though she has to translate them for us. She’s our nature gal and loves exploring, finding bugs/leaves/sticks/acorns/etc to commenting on all their features.
She loves preschool but is already asking when she can start homeschool. Eep! Would love to have her home, but I’m not sure that I’m ready to homeschool two kids yet. Will have to revisit that idea later.
In cute and positive news: she says her name is “Na-no-mi,” and she is fearless and spunky and has a great laugh. That said, she has been my biggest challenge since David went back to work. She is strong-willed and defiant, and that fearlessness has led to several pretty significant falls and near misses (thank you, God, for keeping her away from major injuries). It is hard for me to keep right on top of her secondary to having 3 other kids to keep eyes on (one often strapped to me or over my shoulder which slows me down too).
Discipline has been (and continues to be) a tricky thing to figure out. She’s far more aggressive than her sisters, doesn’t sit still for very long, and has an incredibly difficult time with the concepts of sharing, taking turns, or listening in general. Prayers appreciated.
She’s got such a cool personality, and I know she’ll grow up into a firecracker of a young lady, but right now, she is one tough kid to handle.
A lot has changed with him since the beginning of the month—ALL good things:
At the beginning of the month, it took us 2+ hours to get Gideon completely down for the night. Now it’s less than 20 minutes. He was going 3-4 hours at night at a time, but for the past 3 nights, has gone at least 7 between meals (!!). He takes 4 naps a day, but two are long and two are short. The first short one is usually when we’re running errands in the morning while the other short one is between dinner and bed and doesn’t go more than 20-30 minutes. Can’t wait til he drops that one! Oh, and he’s a tummy sleeper like our other 3 were.
He’s nursing well, getting really strong and holding his head up for long periods of time. His first smile was on 9/12, and we are dying to hear his laugh. Hope it happens soon!He had his 7-week appointment and was 13lb 2oz, 24.5″ long, with a 16″ head. He’s put on 5 pounds since birth and 3 inches in length. Whoa! 97th percentile for height and 90th for weigh. Long, fairly lean guy!
The girls adore him and ask daily to hold him, help change diapers, will talk to him, etc, etc. Such great helpers and sweet big sisters! Naomi is finally grasping the concept of “gentle” so I can let her interact with Gideon a bit more.
When Abigail started learning to ride her bike without training wheels, David kept her steady by running while holding the back of her bike. This wore his back out. Then he picked up Gideon’s car seat with Gideon inside and twisted. Hello back pain! He’s still working through it but was completely out of commission for about a week. Hoping he reaches full recovery soon!
David’s parents came to town earlier in the month—right about the time David injured his back. It was incredibly helpful to have them here as they entertained the girls while I dealt with Gideon and David rested. They took the girls to the apple festival, to a park, to the hotel pool, played pickle ball, and helped with the training wheel-free riding. The girls had a blast!
The WNC Mountain State Fair came to town this month, and the big girls and I spent a day back and forth to the fair. We all had a great time, and the girls were tall enough this year to ride some of the bigger rides—such fun! We also ran into the Harrisons while we were there, and the girls had fun enjoying the whole experience with friends. Can’t wait for the fair next year!
August: Some Major Family events August 31, 2015
This month, Abigail turned 6, God brought David a great job after 3.5 years of being at home with the girls and over 8 solid months of searching, and Gideon Joel was born—all within a week’s time! The rest of the month was spent getting adjusted to our family of 6: still a work in progress! Gideon’s birth story is below, or you can click here.
This girl made us parents 6 years ago; my how time flies! She had a small water party with neighbors and a few close friends the Saturday before her birthday, and I was thrilled for the built in lesson of thank-you notes. She’s always had to write them/dictate them, but this time around, she got to write on lined paper, address the envelopes, learn how to fold paper to fit inside, get the stamps on, etc. Awesome learning experience and great handwriting practice—in addition to learning the specifics about writing a letter (spacing, greeting, farewell, date placement, etc). Gotta take those incredibly practical home school lessons whenever we can!
And on her actual birthday, she got to pick all the activities (down to the meals). We started the day at Panera Bread, then headed to the Fun Depot. For lunch, she wanted grilled cheese sandwiches, cheese crackers, and bell peppers because “I know we need a vegetable, and peppers are my favorite.” Be still my exuberant heart! She wanted a quiet time with Madilyn after lunch, then she chose to head down to the Hands-On Museum before a dinner of waffles. She’s a carb lover, what can I say?
She had her 6-year wellness check on August 17. She’s 44lbs and 43.5″ tall—45th percentile for weight and 20th percentile for height. Her vision, hearing, and blood pressure all turned out great. She got her first loose tooth on Friday night and has been wiggling it pretty relentlessly since then, determined to get it out soon. “Maybe I need to bob for apples to get it out, Mommy!” Haha! She is flying around our street on her bike with training wheels but is adamant that she is NOT taking them off anytime soon. UPDATE: Tooth came out on August 31st, and she had a change of heart the same day in regards to her bike: David took off the training wheels, and she rode a little without him holding on. Exciting!
This girl is fearless—whether in regards to trying new activities (e.g. she has been riding Abigail’s training wheel bike without any assistance, tried a somersault off the couch, jumps from high heights) or touching/picking up any living thing. Just the other day, it was a bright orange slug. She’s brought up worms, granddaddy long legs, random bugs from the grass, centipedes, millipedes, etc beaming with pride. “Mommy, look what I caught!!” Perhaps she’ll be an etymologist!
In regards to the bike, we had a neighbor gift us a smaller training wheel bike that’ll hold Madilyn over for a little bit, but she definitely needs a pedal bike of her own. Shopping around now!
She started preschool last week and absolutely adores her teachers. Not many of her buddies from last year are in her class this year, but we’re praying her outgoing personality will enable her to make lots of new friends. She also started gymnastics last week (thanks, mom and dad!) and is loving it! Can’t wait to see what all she learns this year.
Our early potty training attempt with her has proven mostly successful. Woo hoo! We aren’t worried a bit about naps/nighttime, but during the day, she’s doing really well. She regressed a little after Gideon was born, but I think that was partly due to the fact that we weren’t as diligent about asking her if she needed to go—we were a little preoccupied. Ha!
Her speech is coming along little by little, but her behavior is out-of-this-world crazy as compared with her older sisters at the same age. Whew! Doing our best to be consistent in discipline and expectations, but it is pretty exhausting with her!
On a positive note, she is our social butterfly and doesn’t shy away from many interactions—unless someone tries to hold her. She’s not a fan of anyone outside of me and David right now, for the most part. She’s also a very determined little girl and does not give up easily when faced with a difficult task. She’ll eventually ask for help, but if you offer before she’s ready, beware!
Check out his birth story for all the details on his debut. He was born on August 10 at 11:10pm; 8lb, 3oz and 21.5″ long with a 14.5″ head. He passed his newborn hearing screening on 8/12 and is all in all a really sweet baby boy.
Had his 1-week check up on August 17. He was up 5oz over birthweight to 8lbs 8oz, 22″ long, with a 14.75″ head. As he is gaining weight well and has no other issues, we don’t have to go back until he is 6 weeks old!
Our pediatrician doesn’t do circumcisions, and since we had a home birth, we couldn’t get it done in the hospital. After a lot of running around and scheduling surgical consults, a family friend of my parents in Greenville who is also a pediatrician offered to do it. Thank goodness! We were going to either have to drive to Charlotte or wait until October to have it done in Asheville in an operating room with a whole team of folks as Gideon would be over a month old by that point. Eek! So we had it done when he was 2 weeks, 3 days old. He did well, but only David went to watch. Also, they weighed him before the procedure, and he was up to 9lb 8oz!
He is a good nurser, sleeps fairly well during the day (until the 3pm-6pm span where it’s hit or miss), gets up 2 times at night once he’s down, but nurses and goes right back to sleep. He’s gaining lots of head control and only allows his head to rest against a shoulder if he’s beat. Otherwise, he’s holding his head up and looking around. He eats around 8 times every 24 hours and naps between each of those meals. I think we have the day/night confusion worked out (praise God for that!). I am somewhat dreading when David returns to work as sometimes Gideon needs a good 15 minutes to settle for sleep and then may wake after 45 minutes and need another 15 minutes. Not a huge deal, but with home school and a potty training kiddo, me having to leave multiple times messes with the schedule. Ha! In a few months, though, this newborn craziness will be just a memory.
In one amazing week, I volunteered and shopped at Wee-Trade, God brought David a great job with Duke Energy, we went apple picking as a family, played in the rain as a family, and Gideon was born! Whirlwind for sure. David starts work on September 14, and while we both feel so incredibly blessed that he is now a part of the paid workforce, the thought of all the transitions that will occur around that time are a bit overwhelming. Prayers appreciated!
On a side note, we started daily chores with the big girls (and allowance for Abigail), and it’s been kind of awesome. They have enjoyed being a part of the family in that way, and we have reaped the benefits: clean kitchen table and floor, trash all brought to the kitchen prior to trash pick up, recycling sorted in the garage, bathroom sinks cleaned, toilets scrubbed, bookshelves organized…so great! Wish we’d started sooner, but we’re so thankful the big girls are being compliant right now. With Naomi as much of a handful as she is, we need some compliance! Haha!
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 its 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!