Sunday, July 28, 2013

Husband-COACHED, Joci's Birth Story Part III

I've read "The Husband-Coached Childbirth" and I truly believe in the Bradley Method, but it doesn't exactly work for us.  As you may have remembered from previous birth stories, my husband tends to spend a good portion of my labors asleep.  It's not entirely his fault.  It seems I always end up laboring in the middle of the night.  So we were pretty enthusiastic when it appeared that this would be a day-time baby.  And yet, we both ended up falling asleep anyway.

So there we were, sitting in a now-dark room, listening to the rain beat against the windows.  I was thinking about how much I didn't want to go back to the house, and how much I just wanted to have this child.  And Jon was thinking about how much he didn't want to go back to the house only to end up turning around and coming right back again.  So we decided to rally and give it our best shot.  When the midwife came back in we asked if we could stick things out and maybe hit the stairs.  Since she was  in the thick of the labor next-door (that unlike ours, from what we could hear through the walls, was progressing right along) she was fully supportive and even demonstrated her recommended move - lunges on the steps.

So that's we we did for a little while.  Me lunging, two steps at a time, and Jon standing close by in case I suddenly lost my balance.  Then we decided to take a few laps around the office.  So I started pacing the hall and circling the waiting room.  Meanwhile, the thunder is growing louder and the lightening flashing closer, and the lights in the Birth Center actually flickered off for a hot second.  We were finally starting to get somewhere with contractions and Jon decided he'd man the Contraction Master phone app.  So he pulled up a stool and put himself in charge of pushing the button whenever I would tell him a contraction started and ended.

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And then his athletic side really started to come out and he suggested I throw in a few lunges every couple of rounds.  At this point he was thoroughly enjoying the spectacle and thought 10 jumping jacks might be helpful too.  And, being the submissive wife that I am, or perhaps just a desperate mom in semi-labor, I thought it sounded like a good idea too.  So for the next 30 minutes I'd speed-walk a few rounds in the office, do lunges the whole way down the hallway, and finish off with 10 jumping jacks.  And since there is no shame in childbirth, I'll even share this video my thoughtful husband decided to capture.
Contractions were down to three, sometimes two, minutes apart.  But, as I explained to the midwife, I didn't feel like they were doing much.  I wasn't "in the zone."  I mean, Jon and I were laughing and joking the entire time.  It definitely wasn't serious labor.  I was starting to get tired and I didn't want to physically exhaust myself before labor had even started.  So we headed back to our room to meet back up with the midwife.

At this point she offered to "check" me.  We had been putting it off all day because my water had broken and we had to be extra-careful about introducing bacteria or anything.  But after 15 hours of a limp-along-labor we were all a little curious.  So she checked ... and said I was wasn't dilated at all.

Seriously, I wanted to punch a wall.

Then she said, "Oh, no, wait.  You're just really posterior.  You're a 4, almost a 5."

I was immediately relieved to hear that I was indeed somewhat progressing.  And then I was frustrated, yet again, that I was only 4 centimeters and probably should be at home finishing up those last few meals I wanted to put in the freezer.

This was right about the point where the castor oil kicked in.

Which was quickly followed by the mom next door actually giving birth.  Jon and I could hear her screaming through the wall.  (And I say that in a non-judgemental way because I'm sure she could hear me screaming later that night.)  Then it got quiet, until we heard the baby cry.  And then I wanted to cry too because (a.) other people having babies always makes me cry and (b.) I was so ready to have that experience myself.  So it was back to the pump.  And soon things were really crack-a-lackin'.  I stopped pumping when contractions were around 2 minutes apart.  Then I laid on my side in bed and that, my friends, is when I entered "the zone." I really wanted to stay upright but things were getting downright painful, so the nurse brought me a birthing stool and I sat by the edge of the bed draped over a pile of pillows.

Eventually, I had to start moving.  This is also the point where I got really cold and was shivering so I wrapped myself in a blanket and started pacing the room, back and forth.  Another one of my favorite midwives stopped by to say hi, right in the middle of a contraction, so I could barely be civil towards her.  A little after 7:00pm contractions were about every 1.5 minutes and lasting almost a minute long.  In other words, I just barely had time to catch my breath in between them.  This was also the time when I told Jon he could stop timing them.  I was starting to feel some pressure with each one and I was trying to think back to Julia's labor and when I had felt the same, to gauge how close we might be to the end.  The midwife checked me again and I was 7 centimeters, almost 8.  Not good enough.  Not ready yet.  But for the first time that day she had to drop her doppler a couple of inches to check the baby's heartbeat.  So the good news was Baby Girl had finally started her descent.

After she checked me I decided I'd just stay in bed.  The nurse stuck around and Jon started massaging my back.  Which was glorious because after four babies, this is the first time I've gotten a back massage out of one of my births!  I think this is the point where I probably started to get loud.  I'm generally a calm laborer but, man, things get intense at the end.  And then my hands went numb.  And I was so incredibly happy because that has happened to me every time I hit transition and I had been waiting 16 hours for that moment to happen again.

Soon, very soon, I started feeling the urge to push.  Susannah came in, checked me out and said she didn't see the baby's head yet.  A few more contractions, and I'm still feeling the urge to push.  And so my body started pushing and she didn't tell me to stop.  She asked Jon if he wanted to catch.  He politely declined.  And in just another moment our daughter was lying on my chest, arms and legs squirming, lips pursing and eyes slowly blinking, taking in her new world.  She was beautiful and perfect.  And I was never more relieved in my life!

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Did I Just Pee My Pants?! Joci's Birth Story, Part II

I thought I knew what to expect this time around.  My labors have went from 24 hours, to 13, to 9.  And the amount of time between transition and the actual birth has gotten considerably shorter with each baby as well (as evidenced by our last birth).  So I was anticipating a 5-6 hour labor this time around and the midwives, Jon and I had all agreed we would head to the Birth Center soon after contractions had started.  I was so nervous about not making it in time.  My concern couldn't have been more unnecessary.

I had other concerns as well, namely, childcare for the other kids.  Our parents were committed to coming down when labor started and then sticking around a few days to get us all back on our feet.  But the real question was whether they could make it down in time.  Which is why we had invited Kylee down the week of the baby's due date, just for that extra measure of security if I did go in to labor, and for a fun distraction if we were still waiting (we had big plans for trips to the mall, wedding projects, and lots and lots of walking this week!).

I was also worried about work, when and if I should stop taking assignments so that I wouldn't end up having a baby in the middle of one.  And finally, I was worried about clearing "birth a baby" off our schedule in enough time to start focusing on the upcoming family wedding.  And perhaps, in all my vanity, the whole idea of fitting in to a bridesmaid dress has been occupying my thoughts as well.  Obviously, there were just too many things out of my control.  I had no choice but to turn it all over to God and trust He could work out my agenda just fine.  No surprise there, He certainly has.

Because soon after succumbing to the post-kitchen-frenzy exhaustion, I awoke with a start.  It was 3:45am and, I thought, I had just peed my pants.  I jumped out of bed as fast as a fully-pregnant, just-awakened, trapped-in-my-pillow-nest woman could manage, and ran to the bathroom to determine what exactly had happened.  My water broke early (before labor started) with Jack, and while this was very similar, since it only occurs in about 10% of pregnancies I thought my chances of it happening again were slim to none.  But it didn't take long to determine that it was indeed amniotic fluid and not pee.  And it also didn't take long to realize that a baby wouldn't be following this water-breaking as quickly as Julia had arrived after hers.

I decided to try to go back to bed.  But it's kinda hard to sleep when you know that your body is about to go in to labor at any moment.  So I decided to get up, find something to eat and finish editing my transcription assignment, which was one item I was able to check-off my list of concerns.  It also just so happened that both Uncle Jared and Kylee were sleeping at our house that night - so childcare issues were taken care of.  And as things stood at 5:00am, there appeared to be no danger of not arriving at the Birth Center on time.

But just in case things suddenly took a different turn, I decided now would be the best time to get myself ready to meet our little girl.  Shower, shave, make-up, final packing of the bag and that was right about the time the kids started waking up.  I'd done my best to be very quiet to ensure Jon got a full night's sleep in preparation for the big day.  But at the slightest stir that morning, I got to wake him up (for the second time in his life) with the exciting news.  "Ready to have a baby today??"

Contractions were still extremely mild and not at all regular.  But since I was Group B Strep positive (yet again), I knew I would need to come in at some point for antibiotics.  I waited until after 8:00 to give the midwife a call.  Ironically, the one midwife I hadn't seen this pregnancy happened to be on duty that day - Susannah.  I remembered her from my Julia appointments though and I was excited to know that she would be the one taking care of us that day ... and hopefully catching our baby!  Susannah was headed to the Birth Center to meet another mama and said once she got settled in to come on over to check on the baby, start antibiotics, and decided where to go from there.

39 weeks, 1 day, full of anticipation!
So we took our time getting around.  Jon cleaned the kitchen, I got thing organized for the kids.  Eventually we realized we were half an hour later than what we had told the midwife and decided it was time to head out.  The drive to the Birth Center was entirely different than with the last baby.  We actually were able to stick to the speed limit.  And since things were still not progressing and we assumed it would be a long day, we decided to stop at the grocery store and load up on some vittles.

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We spent almost our weekly grocery budget on snacks for labor... oops.
Susannah met us at the door and we went downstairs to the office area to start a non-stress test.  I sat in the recliner for 20 minutes listening to our sweet girl's heart beat and watching the machine register contractions so minuscule even I wasn't feeling them.  Then it was time for the antibiotics.  We were hoping one dose would be enough but just in case, I would keep the hep lock in all day.  Unfortunately, getting it in the first time proved much harder than we thought.  The midwife messed it up once, and the nurse messed it up twice.  By the fourth attempt I was starting to feel nauseous and lightheaded, but it finally worked.  I still have bruises on both my arms and hands from the previous attempts.

Since contractions still weren't anything to write home about, we decided to discuss some options to get labor going.  Originally, I was just going to go home and try some things out there, but after talking over the last birth we decided maybe I should stick close to the Birth Center (we were still so hopeful early in the day)!  The first was suggestion was castor oil.  There was no juice to mix it in so the midwife dug up a Pepsi for me to chase it down with.  Ugh.  Nothing like drinking straight up oil - thick, warm and disgusting.  I was more than thankful to polish things off with the Pepsi.

View from my bed, it's ingrained in my mind.
Since the other mom was in the room I had Julia in, we got our second choice.  Not that it really matters.  We went with the room that had a whirlpool tub but I never ended up using it.  The room was nice and spacious, which was good when I started pacing the floor (hours later).  The midwife brought in some labor tincture (the first of two different concoctions I tried that day) with instructions to take a gulp every 10 minutes, hold it in my mouth for 10 seconds and then swallow.  And then she carried in our old friend the breast pump.  For those of you that may not know, that can induce labor as well.  Of all the things we tried it was the most effective that day.


So I set to work pumping while trying to distract myself with a book and Jon started playing the first of several hundred rounds of Mah Jong on his iPad.


Surprisingly, the castor oil never really "did it's thing" (if you know what I mean).  But with the pump I was able to register some regular contractions about 5-7 minutes apart.  Eventually, pumping got old and I got tired.  So I decided to lay down and take a rest, maybe a nap.  But as I was laying there drifting off I realized that contractions had once again slowed to almost nothing.  This was the point where I started to wonder if maybe another car birth wouldn't be so bad.

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I wasn't the only one falling asleep.  We were literally bored to death.
 I started to feel guilty for not doing my part in helping my body go in to labor.  I mean, for heaven's sake, the least I could do was to remain upright so that the baby could at least be directed downwards!  We decided some walking was in order.  We had a whole hour before I was due for a second dose of antibiotics.  Since it was unbearably hot outside, we decided to drive back to the grocery store (the closest place with air conditioning and plenty of room to walk) to pace the aisles and get caffeinated (which the midwife assured me was not a big deal at THIS point).  Anything to get this girl moving I guess.

It wasn't until we were standing in line at the Starbucks counter that I realized I was in a crowded grocery store, on a Saturday, with a needle in my arm and gobs of colostrum stuck to my dress, about to walk up and down the aisles while getting my mocha frappucino fix.  Two words: hot mess.

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But the walking helped and by the time we left Safeway contractions were about 5 minutes apart again.  Of course, much to my dismay, they nearly stopped again once we returned to our cozy room at the Birth Center.  The midwife came in to check on us and start another round of antibiotics, something that we had all thought wouldn't be necessary earlier that day.  And then we started to talk about what we'd do in another four hours.  One thing I appreciate so much about the Birth Center is that they don't rush you.  This birth was very much the same as Jack's, except I didn't have a doctor breathing down my neck the whole time, forcing the pitocin, reminding me that I needed to deliver within 24 hours OR ELSE ...  The midwife wasn't at all concerned with how long it had been since my water had broke.  And if she wasn't, I wasn't going to worry either.  So we decided that maybe we would just head home and wait things out there.  Susannah was going to send another dose of antibiotics home, with instructions on how to administer the IV, so that we could take care of the 8:00 dose on our own, and wouldn't need to return until midnight.  And that's when I realized that, if the midwife wasn't interested in seeing us for at least another 8 hours, I just may not be having a baby today.

While she left the room to get the IV bag, Jon started cleaning up all his stuff, and I sat on the bed thinking about how I was going to explain to my kids, when we got home, why Mommy's hands were empty and her belly still full.  It was right about this time that it started to thunder and soon rain was streaming down the window panes.  It all suited my mood so perfectly ...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Cooking Up a Storm: Joci's Birth Story, Part 1

All I can say about my final week of pregnancy is that God was very gracious to me.  There are just certain days or weeks where I'm extra-aware that I'm only getting on by the merciful hand of God.  The kids still misbehave, still trash my house, still go bonkers every evening between dinner and bedtime, but somehow we get through okay.  And also somehow other things still get done, even when you're largely pregnant and lacking in stamina and range of motion.  And that was last week - the week of getting things done.  It should have been my first sign, that final burst of energy and ability to actually clean my house.  We vacuumed, dusted, and mopped our way from top to bottom.  And then stood back and watched the kids mess it all up again.  But at least I knew that somewhere under all those toys, couch cushions, and socks (Lia has been bringing me socks several times a day and then just leaving them around the house) is a clean floor.

We really ticked things off the to-do list.  Jon got the baby goods out and the boys had fun pretending the little bathtub was a boat and the carseat a rocket ship.  And Lia's doll tested out all bouncy seat and swing.  And I got so overwhelmed with noise, and baby gear, and hyper children careening around my freshly-cleaned living room that I decided a trip to the mall for soft pretzels and lemonade was in order.  Then again, over the past few weeks soft pretzels and lemonade are always in order.

It's funny, after Julia was born I thought my days of running errands with the kids were over, especially after that first (and last) trip with three to Wal-Mart.  But over time I've grown more bold, or perhaps more desperate, and the prospect of having four under five soon has driven me out of the house more and more often recently.  Not that these trips go well, in fact, they usually don't.  I've completely sworn off taking the kids to the library anymore.  And every time I work up the courage to drag all three to the grocery store I spend the whole trip home scolding myself into never trying it again.  Which is what we did on Friday.  Jon was going up to Baltimore that night to help Jared and Kylee move in to their new apartment, and then he'd be golfing all Saturday morning.  So it was grocery shopping with the kids on Friday or not at all.

We actually did two grocery stores this weekend.  I wanted to make sure the kitchen was good and stocked for my planned cooking frenzy and then hopefully to get us through the week.  Just like everything else I do now - cleaning the bathroom, picking up groceries, mopping the floors - I wonder if it will be my last chance for a while.  I think Jon is feeling the same way, which is why he scheduled a golf outing for Saturday morning.  Me: "Do you really think that going golfing again (and subsequently leaving me alone with the kids on my potentially last Saturday pregnant) is a good idea?" Jon: "That's why I'm doing it!"

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Ice cream cones, because Daddy was away and Mommy was desperate to get through the post-dinner-bonanza.
So anyway, while Jon was out in Baltimore Friday night and the kids were all sleeping soundly in their beds, I turned on "27 Dresses" in the kitchen and set to work stocking my freezer with some meals and baked goods.

And while Jon was out golfing the following morning I busted out the sewing machine and finished up Julia's flower girl attire and Joci's wedding day romper (all while trying to bat Julia's hands away from the sewing machine).

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And during nap time I typed up a transcription file and finished the baby favors.  And that afternoon, I donned the maternity swimsuit (that doesn't really fit anymore) and the kids and I danced through the sprinkler.





Not a fan of the sprinkler ... and not a fan of mommy in the sprinkler either.
And then that evening, after we put the kids to bed, I set to work trying to finish off a few more meals.  At 9:30pm my kitchen looked like this:

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But somehow I managed to finish it all up, put 20-some meals/side-dishes in my freezer, and have the kitchen clean by 11:00.

For those that asked, here's the list of recipes we'll be enjoying over the next few weeks (most of these were suggested at from www.onceamonthmom.com: 

Gingery Chicken with Peaches
Maple Dijon Chicken
Peach and Mustard Grilled Pork Chops
Overnight Oatmeal
Fried Couscous
Quinoa Summer Salad
Cool as Beans Salad
Steak Fajitas with peppers and onions
Stuffed Peppers (and leftover filling for burritos)
Turkey Quinoa Loaf
Baked Fish, Tomatoes, and Spinach foil packets
Quinoa and Kale Crustless Quiche
Creamy Tomato Basil Pasta
Balsamic Chicken
Clementine Pound Cake (okay, this one didn't make it to the freezer, it was too stinkin' good!)

Of course, I was aching by that point.  My back was sore, the "prankles" were out of control, and the Braxton-Hicks were doing their thing.  But I was happy.  Glad to feel a little more prepared for Baby's arrival, excited for church the next day, looking forward to meeting Uncle Tom and Aunt Carol at their sailboat for lunch, and anticipating an evening of fun at a potluck with our new church small group in the evening.  For the first time in a while, I felt like I had everything under control.  I collapsed into bed, so ready for a long-deserved rest, never thinking things were about to take a very different twist only a few hours later.

We've got news!


Birth story to come!  I've been working on it ... in my head ... while nursing a baby all.night.long.  Just have to find a moment to type it out!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Content right down to my toes

I'm long overdue for a pregnancy update.  I'm afraid if I put it off any longer this will end up being a birth announcement.  So, quickly, while I'm sitting here with my "prankles" propped up under a pack of ice ...

We are 38 weeks, 3 days now.  Well into full-termness, but not quite ready for baby yet.  I always anticipate going beyond my due date, mainly so that I'm not overly anxious in the weeks leading up to the birth.  But with each additional kid I'm a little less enthusiastic about extending my pregnancy any longer than necessary.  I'm not sure what to expect from this baby.  So far I've had one a week early, one a week late, and one the day before she was due.  So really, anything is possible.
This has nothing to do with the baby, just the world she's about to be brought in to.

Last weekend I was having some serious false labor.  It was enough to keep me up at night.  And when the contractions weren't disturbing my sleep, the I'm-so-not-ready-for-this list running through my head was.  I got up the next morning determined to get our lives in order.  Of course, things happen.  I'm trying to pile up on work now so I don't feel so bad about not working in a few weeks.  And as a result, I'm having a hard time keeping up with our regular routine, nevermind throwing baby prep in to the mix.  But like I said in my last post, I at least have a categorized, prioritized task list sitting on my desk.  And just being able to check one or two things off a day has done wonders for my mental state.

Knowing I have a plan allows me to focus on my other offspring, who I'm also trying to load up with attention during these final few days.  We've been living it up while we still can - a trip to the "farm park" topped with slurpees, a leisurely stroll through all our favorite Target aisles with cookies and lemonade in hand, lots of neighborhood walks and scavenger hunts, and plenty of practice in the kitchen.  Because for some reason I always feel a sudden cooking and baking boost at the end of my pregnancies.

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Sheep!
And this burst of energy thing is nice, really nice.  Because a couple of weeks ago I was so totally over being pregnant.  This has been my most uncomfortable pregnancy yet.  I'm not sure if it's the baby, me getting older, or just having to keep up with 3 other kids in the middle of summer.  Whatever it is, contentedness has been somewhat elusive this time around.  I usually don't mind being pregnant.  I actually kind of like maternity clothes and I think baby bumps are cute.  But the novelty is starting to wear off.  After spending the last 5 1/2 years of my life either pregnant or nursing and within 9 months of being pregnant, I'd really appreciate a good, long stretch with my "regular" body.  And now that I'm 30, I realize how precious those "prime of your life" years are.  So while I'm eager, not just for my sake but also for my poor husband's, to get things back to normal, I also realize I've got a long road ahead of me still.  Honestly, it's enough to make me a little grumpy.

Her idea of helping with the laundry?  Tossing everything on to the floor.
And you know what else is giving me the grumps?  These darn ankles.  Or feet.  Whatever it is.  Because we went from just the left foot to now two large, swollen hobbit feet.  They're so bad by the end of the day that I am practically crawling upstairs to bed.  As far as I know, it's not detrimental.  And despite my husband's jokes, swollen feet are not permanent either, but it certainly does a number on your vanity.  And if it wasn't in the sweltering 90s all this week, I'd be hiding under some pants or long skirts.  As it is, mama needs her shorts and can only wear flip flops, so the whole world can see my abnormally large limbs, one of the few parts of me that, up until recently, was still skinny.  *sigh*  So while Baby Girl has finally situated herself in such a way that she's no longer twisting up my posture, I'm still working on enjoying these final days of pregnancy all the way down to my toes, swollen as they may be right now.

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Speaking of HER, she's super.  I gained 9 pounds, almost a third of my total weight gain, in just the three weeks before we left for vacation.  It wouldn't have been a big issue since I'm still within normal range, if it hadn't been for the fact that it appeared my uterus hadn't grown at all.  At 37 weeks, I was only measuring 33 centimeters (the equivalent of 33 weeks).  Now, while I tended to measure small with my last two pregnancies, we thought it was a little strange to be so far behind after such a giant leap on the scales (should've measured my feet while they were at it!).  So it was off for another ultrasound last week to check on the little Sweetie and make sure all was well in utero.

38 weeks, baby has most definitely NOT "dropped."
It was.  She's measuring within normal range (estimated at 6.5 pounds but those aren't very accurate at this point).  There's still plenty of fluid for her to swim around in and her movements and reflexes scored her a 100%.  It wasn't a very exciting ultrasound.  Her head is down and she is smooched and so there wasn't much to see.  But it's reassuring to know that all is normal and right on track.

So we're prepared for any-day-now.  Well, Jon would prefer to get in one last round of golf this weekend.  And I would prefer to knock a few more things off the to-do list.  And we'd both prefer to have childcare readily available so there won't be any dilly-dallying before delivery this time around.  Which is why we're shooting for some time next week, when Miss Kylee will be visiting, and can take over our other three charges at a moment's notice.  I heard there's a full moon on July 22.  That sounds like a great day to give birth.  And by day, I mean DAY.  Because really, just once, I'd like to deliver a child during normal wake-time hours.  While we're at it, wouldn't it be just dandy to get a full night's rest, wake up, start contracting, have a baby that afternoon and be home in time for dinner?  I think so too.  But I'm being careful about what I ask for.  Because last time I prayed for "perfect timing" and we all know how that turned out.

So yeah, despite the unfinished task list, despite this week's mega heat-wave, despite my strong-willed 4 year old, sleep-fighting 3 year old, and uber-clingy 22 month old, I remain happily pregnant.  Right down to my knees..., er toes.  I'm trying, I'm really trying.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Beach Family Photos 2013

It's sorta become a tradition that we attempt a family photo while at the beach (as evidenced here and here).  I was way more in to it last year because I was feeling all skinny and tan.  This year I'm just trying to think of ways to hide my ankles.  I did manage to pull together some sort of color-coordinated ensemble and so, on our last night in South Bethany, we all headed out to nab a lifeguard chair, smile, and hope that everyone would look at the camera for at least one shot.

Can you guess?  Jon did the boys' hair.


Julia was totally in to the smooching, it's her kind of thing!
 After the novelty of picture-taking wore off Jack found something much more interesting to do ... jump off the lifeguard chair.


I have dozens and dozens of pictures like this.  We all grew tired of putting him back up there and being told to "watch me, watch me!!" yet again.

Jon saw how much fun Jack was having and decided he needed to experience the thrill on his own.


Jude wasn't really feeling the chair-jump.  I'm not sure what he's doing here, air boxing maybe?

Yes, those are 2T shorts ... rolled ... and still constantly falling down.
 I asked for a shot of our two BFFs...


See, sometimes they really do like each other!


Annnnnnddddd more jumping...


Eventually, he didn't even need anyone to catch him.


Girlfriend's got her own version of thrill-seeking.


And a picture of Poppa and Marmie with their grandkids.


She's oh, so very attached to Mama these days.  She uses the bump as both a seat and a roof.


South Bethany Beach, it's been real.  My full-term pregnant self has thoroughly enjoyed your sunny skies, quiet shores, and restful evenings.


Now let's have this baby so I can get back in to my regular swimsuit for next year!

Friday, July 12, 2013

SoBeth 2013

Last week was our annual family beach vacation in South Bethany Beach, Delaware!




We've been looking forward to this week for many, many months now.  And I was just keeping my fingers crossed that we could make it through the whole week without going in to labor ... and comfortably at that!  We did.  And while I wouldn't have expected to have a baby early, I actually didn't feel too bad for being at the tail end of my fourth pregnancy.  I think all that sand, sun and salt water did wonders for my "prankles" (as Hubby as lovingly dubbed them) and other aches and pains.

But before we could hit up the beach, we had one important stop to make ... in Pittsburgh.  Jon's cousin Pete and his fabulous fiancee Hannah got married that Saturday and, instead of attempting the trip AND the wedding with three kids, and then rushing to the beach.  We so graciously offered our minivan full of children and vacation goods to Uncle Micah to drive.  So, on Saturday morning we waved goodbye to Uncle Micah, Mr. Michael and our three offspring (closely followed by Marmie and Poppa to assist with all those potty-breaks), and then Jon and I high-tailed it up to Pennsylvania (after enjoying a long, leisurely, child-free breakfast out).  The wedding was lovely and reception just perfect.  We're so happy for these two and the great things God has in store for them!



Photo Credit: Aunt Roz

We left the reception early so we could make it home at a decent hour (1:00am) and then be up again to leave the following morning.  Traveling without kids is so much more efficient, we were able to pull in to the beach house soon after some of the gang was just waking up.  Uncle Micah and Mr. Michael survived the trip.  The kids had a great night of sleep.  And we were ready to enjoy a long, relaxing (as much as you can while still parenting three small children) week away from it all!

Unfortunately for us, the weather wasn't it's prime.  It rained (off and on) the first four days of our trip.  But thankfully there were no thunderstorms, so we could still stick it out on the beach and enjoy the sun in between clouds.  It also meant some of the quietest, least-crowded days we've seen there in our 20-some years of vacationing.  And, thanks to the frequent cloud cover, I was able to obtain a lovely beach glow without any terrible sunburn ... for once.




This year we tried out a different house.  And since our family is growing in more ways than one this summer, we also included Uncle Jared's fiancee and future in-laws.  Kylee's parents, sister, and brother came for the second half of the week.  And we got to enjoy our friends Abi, Phil, "Lil" Rae, and Urijah as well!  It was a great crowd!  And when we weren't discussing wedding plans, bridesmaid attire, or RSVP counts, we had a great time getting to know Jared's new family even better.  We knew we liked Kylee, but I must say I'm quite impressed with my little brother's ability to pick out some fantastic in-laws as well.   We all meshed together quite nicely!




Photo Credit: Uncle Micah
This vacation was very low-key.  We did go out crabbing one night, and sadly didn't catch any keepers.  Just a fun night with the boys, topped off with some frozen yogurt.



The gang also went to the Rehoboth Boardwalk another time but Julia was down with some sort of beach fever.  So she and I spent the evening at home cuddled in bed.

Leave it to my kids to catch colds at the beach!


The rest of the week we spent on the sand ... or preparing to be on the sand.  Gosh, it's a lot of work to get three kids dressed, lathered and out the door each morning.  But once we reached our oceanfront plot we could let them go and entertain themselves.  The first day there we dug a hole.  And it soon became our hole.  And since nobody else wanted to sit in a hole, we had no trouble maintaining the same spot on the beach all that week.

The hole was so deep the lifeguard came over to laud Jon's work ... and ask us not to dig any further for safety reasons.
Jude's favorite activity was being pulled on the boogie board (or booger board as he called it).  He did NOT like being dragged through water.  But he did enjoy zinging up and down the mounds of sand.


Poor Jack is entirely too heavy for such goings-on.  But he is certainly master of the waves.  He spent the majority of his time down at the water jumping the waves and thoroughly enjoying being tossed and thrown underwater.  A little too much, if you ask me.  There were a few times I had to race in after him to make sure he wasn't getting sucked back under.  Which is a lot of work when you're 36 weeks pregnant.  And then he'd get mad that I was interfering with his game.

We found a squirt gun in the dunes...

I've been regretting that find all week long.

Jude is laughing ... for once.

Photo Credit: Uncle Micah.
Julia absolutely did NOT like the water.  Didn't even want to get her toes wet.  She'd put the death grip on my shoulder as soon as I started to walk on wet sand.  She preferred to crawl all over the beach chairs and show off one of her eight swimsuits.


We decided to give the Bethany Beach 4th of July parade a try this year.  We never go because it's smack dab in the middle of beach time, and we kind of covet our sunny afternoons.  But I just love a good parade and we didn't get to go to any others this year.  Poppa dropped us off in town, and then drove back to get his bike while we magically found a great spot on the corner.  Julia was still a little out of it. And it also didn't help that it was mega-hot and almost nap time.  Or that Mama didn't bring enough drinks, or snacks, or anything else to keep them busy until the parade started 45 minutes later.  But we managed.  And got some candy in the process.

Significantly overwhelmed.
And that evening, per tradition, we trekked back out to the beach for oceanfront fireworks.  Not-so-funny story from this particular evening.  I was upstairs getting ready and Jon told me "we're all going down to the beach to fish and kite before the fireworks" so when I came back downstairs to an extremely quiet house, I figured he had taken all the kids.  And when I walked down to the beach myself a few minutes later, I didn't think anything of Uncle Micah holding Julia's hand.  Until I found out that by "we" Jon had meant just he and the boys.  And that Uncle Micah found Julia hanging out with some stranger on the dunes.  And the stranger asked Uncle Micah if the little girl was with him.  Thankfully, Uncle Micah said yes.  So from what we can figure out, Julia walked out the door, down the street, onto the beach, all by herself.  And with Baby Stella, Baby Stella's bottle, and her 4th of July Mardi Gras beads and lei from the parade.  I don't think she realized the seriousness of the situation.  We're just incredible thankful that that's all there was to the story.


I think it's ironic that my daughter had never had a bottle herself, yet knows exactly what to do with one when you have a baby.  She's a born mother.
The fireworks were fabulous but before they began we enjoyed an evening of kiting, kayaking, fishing (Jon didn't catch anything but the guys next to us got a shark!), light sticks, and (thanks to Miss Abi) some festive, edible, something-to-keep-the-kids-busy snacks.





The littlest were starting to get sleepy ...


Not exactly sure what's going on here ... Uncle Micah??



As always, vacation was a nice break from our hectic summer schedule.  We were thankfully able to squeeze the trip in before starting the countdown to Baby, and now our calendar is free and clear as we anticipate our newest arrival!  And I must say, the change of pace was oh, so good for us.  Things have been getting sloppy around here.  June was a bit of a blur.  But now that we're home and recharged our routine is starting to come back together.  I've actually been cooking again, and keeping up with the dishes and laundry.  And somehow that makes me feel very normal and together and, as a result, simply happy.  The pre-baby to-do list is another story altogether.  It got so extensive I had to re-write it and break it down in to sections.  Which is why I'm looking forward to this weekend, fueled by residual Vitamin D and plenty of doses of salty sea air, it's time to get ready for a baby!

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