Thursday, April 16, 2015

Tiny Human

I've decided not to share Adelaide's birth story on the blog.  I'm going to write it up for myself and hold on to it so that as these crazy days and weeks pass, I don't forget the details, but after thinking about it quite a bit I don't want to make it public.
It was a lovely birth.  She and I both came away totally healthy and happy and intact, nothing went awry at all.  I felt loved and cared for.  But, for some reason that I can not shake, I didn't come away with a sense of victory like I have in the past.  I don't feel strong and I don't remember the "birth high" ever hitting me.  This child is an absolute treasure, I just adore her.  She's so wonderful and sweet and I am so grateful for her and for our successful homebirth.  I can't put my finger on what feels "off" to me.  So, I'm going to keep it close to my heart as I remain very grateful.

All that said, the past two and a half weeks have been such a roller coaster.  The joy a new baby brings is palpable, I wish I could just hold her and gaze at her all day long.  Unfortunately, we live in a world that moves so much faster than that, so I have to steal glances while I teach math and genuinely, actively appreciate snuggles with her all night long.

I love waking up with this sweet girl every morning.
My wonderful community has been taking such good care of me - lovely meals arriving at my door at regular intervals (from mamas that I know are busy and have all sorts of things going on themselves!), my sweet in-laws making a great effort to feed and love us well, my beloved husband holding things together when I can't at all, and my daughters taking notice and chipping in however they can, be it filling my water bottle or cleaning the kitchen, without me even asking.

What homeschool looks like postpartum.
There has been a strange paradox of postpartum healing for me.  The high quality supplements I took during pregnancy, as well as the better diet and actual exercise during those 10 (!) months have served me well.  There has been no hemorrhaging like in my past two births, I have been loosing the weight faster (I can only tell by my clothes beginning to fit, I don't have a scale), and I feel more energetic than in the past.  On the other hand, I am also feeling the effects of my first baby in my 30's and this being my 6th time around.  My crashing levels of estrogen have been leading to massive tension headaches, my muscles have been very sore (probably due to a more active and long labor than in the past), and my emotional well-being isn't quite as great as in the past.  Some day soon I'll write more on it, because this topic deserves discussion, but I am pretty sure that I suffered from prenatal depression for a while there during my pregnancy.  I am doing much better than that now, by a lot, but I still feel some lingering emotional baggage - especially when I feel excluded or lonely. 
These things will pass, I know, and I'm trying my best to hold on to a life of prayer and gratefulness.  I am convinced those two things will be what brings me through this tricky postpartum time.

I got my pre-pregnancy jeans on yesterday!  Yay!  I keep dreaming about working out though.  I really miss how balanced I felt while I was working out regularly.
The baby, though.  She is wonderful.  When she was born, she was 7 lbs 12 oz, which is a pretty medium size for one of my children.  They have ranged from the low 7's to the mid-9's, so she seemed pretty little to me.  I don't know how much she weighs now, but my midwife is coming this weekend and I am anxious to see how much she has gained because girlfriend is getting chunky!

LOOK at those cheeks!
She smiles at me and has the sweetest dark blue eyes.  She has long, pretty fingers and sneezes all the time.  Her nose looks like mine as a baby.  She likes to snuggle a LOT, but prefers it to be with me.  She will tolerate other people holding her for a while though, which is good because her sisters are always eager to have her in arms.  I love the way she smells and her long eyelashes.  Right now she's part-time in cloth diapers and part time in disposables because her little legs are so skinny that the cloth leaks at night.  They're getting more meat on them though, so I don't think it will be long.  I love wrapping my little baby in soft cloth diapers.  She lost her umbilical stump at one week on the dot, which is pretty early for one of my children!  Fina went around telling everyone that "Adelaide lost her electrical cord!"

Last week one of my dearest friends offered to take pictures of her in the Texas Bluebonnets.  My heart soared at the thought, the wildflowers in Spring are one of my most favorite things, add my beloved Adelaide, and it was a match made in heaven!  I got a bunch of them printed to display for her Baptism party next weekend, but I'll share these two for now:


These times are sweet and fleeting.  They are difficult and overwhelming.  I hope that I never forget them.  They are so very human.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Welcome Adelaide!

I'm happy to share that on Saturday evening, my new sweet little daughter was born safely and happily at home!  She was 15 days late and arrived in an entirely different type of labor than I have ever had before; I'm looking forward to sharing my birth story soon.  Or at least a "modified for public" version.  haha
For now, I'm enjoying lots of snuggling with my long-awaited sweetie and really really trying to take it easy.  Charlie and the girls are taking such good care of me, and it's so wonderful to not have to be jaunting off here and there to appointments since my midwife comes to me to check us both out.  My recovery over the last (almost) 48 hours has been the easiest and healthiest yet - the only complaint I have is that I have a LOT of sore muscles!  So naps, baths, and soooo much nursing....delicious (yay!)...and yesterday, we had a little birthday party to celebrate - these have marked the last two days with our newest, precious daughter.

She's a total angel, my Adelaide.  She's delightfully sweet and aware and wonderful.  She's absolutely beautiful and such a gift from God.
I can never thank all my family and friends enough for the support I have received while waiting on her arrival.  It was a tough pregnancy in so many ways and I still have some things I want to say about that here, later.  But, now it's over and the fruit of the suffering is 100% worth it.  She is such a delight and a gift!

Here are some photos to hold things over until I can write up the story of her arrival!  If you want to follow me on Instagram, I've been posting pics of this precious time there too, but trying not to OVER post.  haha

When I first picked her up - that was easily the most painful pushing time I have ever experienced in labor.

My midwife and me while I was getting my vitals checked while waiting on the placenta.
Baby girl getting checked out - she was perfect with perfect Apgar scores!

Adelaide's first public photo - shared with grandparents, friends, and social media!  So alert...

Snuggling my sweetheart.  One of the best parts of homebirth is  being tucked into my own bed with my baby.

My biggest and littlest girls.  This was right after she and I had a wonderful herbal bath together.  

Joe was asleep when he came home after the birth, so he didn't meet his baby sister until the next morning!  He and I were sitting in the kitchen here, keeping Charlie company while he made me a huge, delicious breakfast.  I am so spoiled.

Adelaide's first official visitor!  Meeting Nana.  :-D

We had a family birthday party for Adelaide, I want to give this it's own post because it was such a special way to celebrate as a family.

This was at our 24 hour appointment yesterday evening.  My midwife let the girls listen to baby's heartbeat.  

One of my favorite visions: my beloved husband with our baby.  They were buddies last night while I had another healing bath.

We have a maybe thumb sucker?  This one is from today!

Such a gift.  (And look at that nose!  SO cute!)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Just Waiting on a Baby...

It's Sunday, so I thought I'd relax today with a Daybook.  I haven't written one of these in a long time, but I always enjoy going back to remember what was going on with our family in this way...

Outside my window...
It's a perfect Spring day.  It's 70 degrees, sunny, and glorious.  A totally different experience from yesterday's all-day rain storms.  Those storms have made everything so green and lush though, so I'm not complaining!  My children have been outside all afternoon playing in the yard, hunting crawfish in a giant puddle, and we even sat out on the back porch for lunch and a treat.

The children playing in the fountains after fish tacos on Friday night.  We love Spring.

Giving thanks...
Today, as always, I am insanely grateful for my husband.  He is watching over me like a hawk, attending to every need he sees in me, and still tells me I'm beautiful - even though I'm ginormous.  We had planned this morning to wake up early for confession, CCD, Mass, and socializing at church all day, but it became quickly apparent to him that I am exhausted from fitful sleep full of contractions and aches, and that I didn't want everyone to ask me why I'm still pregnant.  He rolled over in bed and told me to rest today - that we would go to evening Mass locally, and that he'd take me on a date tonight.  Such a wonderful man.

We are learning...
We are currently on a school break, the "Baby Break," which I chose to take starting immediately following my due date.  If she doesn't come before tomorrow though, we may go back to just the basics until she arrives.  We can't afford to loose TOO much time if I want a decent Summer break.  Which I do.  The end of pregnancy is usually a more trying time for me than the postpartum time, so I know that schooling after the baby will be a challenge, but maybe a little less of a challenge than right now when I feel like a ticking time bomb.
That said, the girls are still learning as always.  The oldest girls have formed a club with friends and have been learning how to crochet and a do a little bit of sewing,  I picked up Story of the World volume 1 from the library to enjoy together, and of course, we are ALL learning....patience....

From the kitchen...
My kitchen has been in high demand as I've been stocking the freezer over the last few weeks.  There's been a steady flow of fresh fruit being washed and quickly eaten up as all the Spring produce graces the grocery aisles.  I like cooking and baking at the end of pregnancy.
After our picnic lunch today, I brought out my favorite childhood cookies for the family as well, with a fresh pitcher of iced tea.

At the gym....

Yeah, I haven't been the the gym.  My YMCA membership is on hold until Summer, when I'll hit it up once again and so that we can swim all summer long.  This lady can hardly roll out of bed right now.

I've been dreaming about running and triathlon though.  I can't wait to get back to it, and in fact, last weekend purchased myself my very own first road bike!  As soon as I know that all goes well with this birth (I'm week hopefully!), I'm going to register for the Spa Girl Tri, a very gentle but fun sounding triathlon to get back to it.  I can not wait to work out.

Out of the mouths of babes...
Yesterday the girls were feeling particularly anxious about Adelaide's arrival.  So, they all gathered together to pray a Rosary that she would be born that day.
As soon as they were finished praying, Felicity and Colette came running into my room to find me and half yelled, half asked, "DID YOUR WATER BREAK YET?"

Their faith is so beautiful.  Sweet things.

I love this picture of Gabrielle reading with Clive

I am working on...
Keeping my house clean.  Planning a homebirth is like putting my nesting instincts on steroids.    I'm obsessive about keeping the kitchen and floors clean, my bedroom immaculate, and the washer and dryer empty.  I've cleaned walls and baseboards, creases in my washing machine, and the towels are in constant supply.  I need this baby to show up so I can relax!  
I like to keep a clean house in general, clutter-free, and marginally organized, but I'm not obsessive.  There are, after all, seven people and a little dog living here.  But right now, I find myself cleaning up toys from under the couch at night and making sure that everything is in tip-top shape.  It's tiring!

I am reading...
At the moment I'm reading Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry.  It is a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful book!  It is dignified and thought-provoking.  And it is the perfect timing for me to be reading it, due to other things going on in life.
I feel like this book is like the Chronicles of Narnia.  I've heard that one should read the Chronicles of Narnia several times through life, as one matures and grows and has greater understanding and wisdom.  I think Hannah Coulter is like this.  I'm glad I'm reading it.  But I hope to read it again in 10 years, 20 years, 30 years...because I have a feeling that it will grow ever more pertinent.
Girls and their friends enjoying the spring at the park

I am praying...
  • for a safe and happy birth for myself and my baby, and very soon
  • for a friend recently diagnosed with cancer (please pray for this sweet lady - a fellow member of our local homeschool group)
  • for my sweet friends who are also expecting new babies
  • for a special intention surrounding our living situation

The Liturgical Year...
It's Lent and we are keeping it.  Everything is more simple this year.  

I am longing for Easter though, and bluebonnets, and a little one in arms.
I'm willing to walk with Jesus though, through the last few days.

I am struggling...
I can't complain about my struggles right now.  I'm tired, and anxious, and a little fearful (I'm once and always a VBAC mama...the later I go in pregnancy, the more scared I get about potential medical intervention).  My body aches and I've been having contractions for 48 hours with no active labor yet.  But I have been completely cocooned in love.  Handmade gifts in the mail, encouraging messages from friends non-stop, a loving family, dinner and playdate invitations, handwritten cards and flowers, treats and offers for help.  God has shown me His love non-stop through the deeds and love and friendship of others.  It's absolutely humbling.

I am hearing...
Girls fixing one another's hair before evening Mass.  The silence of a sleeping 3-year-old.  The shower running after Charlie's workout.
Otherwise, silence.

Clicking around...
I just cleaned out my microwave and removed it from the kitchen.  I don't like to use it and realized we were only using it to basically boil water for tea and oatmeal.  So Charlie got an electric tea kettle with no plastic parts and the microwave is leaving.  But do you know the easiest way to clean your microwave?  It's with vinegar and water, and I loved the idea of adding an essential oil to cut down on the vinegar smell!

I have a lovely flower press in the craft area of our school room with flowers waiting to be framed...for years.  My favorite little array is from the Rocky Mountains, so I might try my hand at framing them thanks to this link!

Around the house...
It is clean.  It is stocked with all. the. things.
It's ready for a baby.

One of my favorite things...
We went to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo this past week and had such a blast!  We started off with breakfast out, then drove down into Houston for daily mass at our parish, and then had all day to do everything at the Rodeo.  It was an absolute blast!  Here's my favorite picture of my sweethearts enjoying the day!

A few plans for the next week...
It's hard to say what the plans are for this next week!
We'll probably do some school work basics.  Hit up the library.  Play outside.  Clean up the yard in preparation for Easter flowers.  Assemble Easter baskets (I have almost everything ready).  See the midwife.  Go to daily Mass.
Other than that...we'll be waiting.

This week on Instagram...
I had two pictures with the most likes this past week...
Daisy chains in sweet Felicity's braids at the park.  When I was helping her tuck the last few flowers in the back, I noted how beautifully chocolate-y rich her hair is...and that mine used to be like that before the grays started showing up.  She is so lovely and sweet.
This was a photo from our St. Joseph's Day celebration.  
Wishing you all a blessed Sunday...Soon it will be Holy Week!

Friday, March 20, 2015

This Year's Best Reading (So Far): Seven Quick Takes

(still no baby)

Some of my favorite blogs and blog posts are all about what others are reading.  Book lists are something I tend to hoard (digitally).  I keep a note in my Evernote about what I hope to read each year, what I finished with dates, and any pertinent quotes I like, and in some cases when I hope to read certain books (for example: reading on homeschool I usually do during the summer, I have a list of books to read on Kindle/listen to on Audible for when the baby is born, etc.).

So far since the beginning of 2015, I have only finished 11 books, but that's more than I've been able to pull off in 2.5 months in a long time since I have so many children to tend!  I suspect that once this new baby arrives (if she arrives?  ever?  please??) that my momentum will slow down quite a bit.  I'm sure that the person who has to pull my requests at the library will be glad about that!

Today I took a look over my list of 11 books read this year and decided to share my favorite 7 for Seven Quick Takes.  I don't usually theme my quick takes, but for today, I'm going to go ahead!  I love chatting about books on Instagram too; strangely enough, it is where I most often find new treasures!  I hashtag all my book posts with #booknerdamm.

Here are my favorite 7 so far:

~1~ The Lost German Slave Girl: The Extraordinary True Story of Sally Miller and Her Fight for Freedom in Old New Orleans  by John Bailey

Historical fiction and history narratives are among my favorite genre of books.  This is a true story told in such a compelling way that I couldn't put this book down!

~2~ The Forgotten Garden: A Novel By Kate Morton

I was in real need of a good fictional novel to draw me in a couple of months ago, so I hit up Kate Morton because I remembered how much I enjoyed The Secret Keeper.  This story was long, and emotionally complicated, but I enjoyed it.

~3~ Dad Is Fat  by Jim Gaffigan

Some of my pregnancy days a few weeks ago were really, really tough.  Coupled with my husband doing a lot of work travel, I was kind of an emotional disaster.  I didn't feel like doing anything really, but I especially did not feel like reading something heavy.  So I picked up Jim Gaffigan's book.  It was the best thing I did that day (I read the whole thing in a day...and laughed harder than I had in a couple months).  I was surprised at how affirming it was to me personally as a pregnant woman and a mother of many children!

“I guess the reasons against having more children always seem uninspiring and superficial. What exactly am I missing out on? Money? A few more hours of sleep? A more peaceful meal? More hair? These are nothing compared to what I get from these five monsters who rule my life. I believe each of my five children has made me a better man. So I figure I only need another thirty-four kids to be a pretty decent guy. Each one of them has been a pump of light into my shriveled black heart. I would trade money, sleep, or hair for a smile from one of my children in a heartbeat.” 

~4~ Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

I picked up Rebecca after seeing several people recommend it on their blogs and on Instagram.  I didn't know what it was about really until I started it because the description on the back kind of creeped me out!  
What an interesting book.  
I'm glad I read it, but it wasn't my favorite story ever.  The end was so abrupt, and I kept hoping things would improve...but, I liked it enough to include it here!

~5~ Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin

This, of course, was a re-read.  I am a total Ina May Gaskin fangirl.  Way back when I was toying with trying for a VBAC with my second daughter, I came across her writing and was transfixed.  I've read her other books as well, but this is the only one I own.  In many ways, my journey through 4 VBACs (almost 5, maybe?  ever? please?) that landed me in the homebirth mindset has been because of her influence.  I love this book!

~6~ All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel by Anthony Doerr

All the Light We Cannot See is my most recently finished book.  When I requested it from the library there were over 200 people ahead of me, I thought I wouldn't get it until 2017!  However, I just returned it yesterday and am happy to report that it was worth the wait.  As I mentioned, historical fiction is one of, if not my most, favorite genre.  This book takes place during WWII in occupied France, as well as from the perspective of a young man recruited into Hitler Youth.  At first, I put it down and couldn't see where it was going.  Then, I picked it back up and was enthralled.  One of my favorite, and most painful, things about this book was that it was realistic.  Not everyone makes it to the end, not every one is spared massive suffering, much as I am sure history truly played out.

~7~ The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

At the beginning of the year, I took up the 2015 Reading Challenge on Modern Mrs. Darcy's blog.  I have so far read five of the twelve book prompts, and The Great Gatsby was what I chose for "A Book You Should Have Read in High School."  I totally remember reading the Cliff's Notes (do they still have those?) my junior year instead of the book.  Which is  lame, because it's a good book!  I'm glad I read it, and it prompted some wonderful, stimulating conversation with my husband!


Right now, I am currently reading Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry (we love Wendell Berry around here) and The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra by Helen Rappaport (I've been interested in this period of history ever since I was required to watch the movie Nicholas and Alexandra for "summer reading" in AP English in high school!).  Of course, I am always reading In Conversation with God (the Lent/Easter edition is my most worn out and beloved!) and I'm slowly working through some other spiritual reading, just always.

Finally, I am joining the Google Hangout book study that Blessed Is She is hosting around the book Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World by Bob Goff.  I purchased it on Kindle since I'll be doing a lot of reading through my postpartum period.  Also, I've been in need of some uplifting non-fiction and adult conversation about books - so I'm excited about this!

Have you read anything lately that you love??

To read more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Protector of Virgins, Terror of Demons

(no baby)

We love St. Joseph in our family.  He has been a very important, consistent, and wonderful intercessor for family life - in everything from housing issues, marriage, my intention for a son (and so, we named our little Joe after him!), and protection of our daughters.  He is a dear friend in heaven.  His prayers are powerful.

On Sunday, our parish hosted it's annual St. Joseph's Alter Mass and Dinner.  I wish I had more photos to share because it was just beautifully done (as everything is there), but I was having too much fun visiting with friends and enjoying my family to take many pictures!  (If you are interested in seeing photos of a beautiful St. Joseph Alter celebration, click here, these are the professional shots from our parish!)

Gabrielle was blessed to be invited to sit at the head table with other children her age who represented different Saints at the mass and celebration.  She chose St. Perpetua, one of her patrons, as Perpetua is her middle name!  The children got to lead the procession out of Mass and sit right next to the beautiful alter of breads, treats, statues, candles, and flowers.  A fitting celebration for a man chosen by God to protect, provide for, and love Our Lady, and most importantly Jesus.

"Saint Joseph must have been young when he married our Lady, a woman who had just emerged from adolescence. Being young, he was pure, clean, and very chaste. And he was so precisely because of his love. Only by filling our heart with love can we be sure that it will not rebel and go off the track, but will remain faithful to the most pure love of God." - St. Josemaria Escriva

I loved this article about St. Joseph (I know it's long, but I promise it's worth it) because St. Josemaria Escriva liked to focus on the fact that he was a young man with perfect love and charity.  He was truly virtuous, and because of this, as we walk this pilgrimage on earth, St. Joseph is an important friend as we too attempt to live a life of virtue.

I wish I could be the perfect Catholic mama tonight and make a traditional Italian feast, complete with some sort of delicious and liturgically correct dessert.  Instead, I'm a tired-41-weeks-pregnant mama who is going to quickly cook up taco salads, pour a glass of wine, and pass out some TJ's Joe-Joe's cookies (Joe?  Joseph?  Get it?  I couldn't find any fig cookies...that's what I really hoped to find) while we gather around the table set with a single white lily (because again, I couldn't find a bouquet of white lilies at TJ's) and ask for St. Joseph's prayers.

Saint Joseph...
protector of virgins...
terror of demons...
+pray for us+

Friday, March 13, 2015

Today Is My Due Date: On Nesting and Baby & Mama Favorites {7QT}

Today is my due date.

Obviously, there is no baby yet, which is to be expected.  Thankfully, nobody has been harassing me, otherwise I'd need to direct them to

I am gratefully in a good and peaceful place right now,  not feeling a lot of pressure, no major life changes on the horizon, and just moving right along with life with the great encouragement of my dear husband who keeps me laughing and light-hearted.  This is a welcome break from the emotional and spiritual fall-out I was experiencing a few weeks ago.  I think the combination of Lent (a season to embrace suffering), great support from my loved ones (which has been both spiritual and corporal), and the fact that at this point I am not gaining any more weight (I actually lost 3 lbs in the last week, a sign in the past that labor was coming soon) have all really contributed to my sense of peace.  And lack of tears.

My friends on Instagram have heard my gripes about having to give up coffee (due to elevated heart rate in both baby and me) a few weeks ago.  This has lead to me being even more tired than a typical 9-month-pregnant-homeschool-mother-of-five.  I've had a lot of restless naps, and not quite as much nesting as usual.  But it's still going on.  So, here are 7 random takes mostly about nesting, some of my favorite things, and pregnancy miscellanies:

~1~ Stocking the Freezer

Taking postpartum mamas a meal is one of my greatest joys.  Because of that, I've pondered a lot the humility required to accept help from others and even though my inclination is to say, "we are fine!" the reality is that any help is such a relief from the work of running a big family with a newborn.  I've always been so, so grateful for any meals friends have brought over the years.  One of my dear friends has told me already she plans to coordinate a care calendar, for which I am already so thankful!
That said, there are off days, or lunches and breakfasts, or eventually the calendar runs out and things are still a little crazy sometimes.  So, I've been stocking our freezers.
This is just our extra freezer a few days ago, and in fact it is totally full now - I don't think I can fit anything else in there.  Our kitchen freezer is stocked full as well.  Lots of meals and meat - I always crave lots of iron rich meat postpartum!
It's been easy, I just double or triple whatever I've been making for regular dinners that can be frozen.  Some things I've stocked up on are: buffalo chili, muffins and quick breads, unbaked cookie dough, homemade chicken soup, pulled pork, shredded chicken for tacos, spaghetti sauce, individually wrapped bean & cheese burritos (the best to pop in the oven for lunch), and yesterday I put in 4 lasagnas.  If I have time (and I'm sure I will), I'm also going to add some breakfast burritos, tamales, and probably more healthy muffins.

~2~ Getting Ready for Labor

When we were waiting on Joe, I tried all sorts of things to "naturally" induce labor, including the dreaded castor oil which did NOT work on me and was just so so so disgusting.  This time, I vowed not to try anything, but to just try to remain relaxed and at peace.  But, just for kicks I've tried a few things, even if I don't think they'll really work!
Amazing frozen pineapple concoction my friend made me!  No baby but it was sooooo delicious!  I'd eat this every day to bring on labor!
I also tried eating dates; they say 6 per day for the last four weeks are supposed to help one to go into labor "on time."  There were two problems with this.  First, dates are SO delicious and I love them, but six per day is a LOT and they are super sweet.  Secondly, per my midwife, you're not supposed to consume any other sugar because they have so much.  This was not working for me.  haha  So, I dropped that.

Right now, I'm also trying Evening Primrose Oil, but we'll see if that helps.  In addition, for non-labor inducing purposes, I have been taking New Chapter Perfect Prenatal Multivitamins , which I have loved.  They are whole food derived, non-GMO, organic, all those buzz words.  They have real Folate rather than Folic Acid, and probiotics.  They've made me feel really great; I've never persevered with any prenatal vitamins through any of my pregnancies.
I'm also taking alfalfa to prevent hemorrhage, my last two pregnancies have come with a post-birth shot of pitocin due to extra bleeding.  I'd rather not have to do that, it's scary!

~3~ Spinning Babies

When I was in labor with Colette, she was presenting face first (instead of tucking her chin under).  As a VBAC, I was unfortunately under the care of the most VBAC-unfriendly doc in the practice I was seeing, since she was on call.  She panicked and ordered an OR for surgery, but while she was gone, Charlie found Spinning Babies online, helped me figure out how to get her to tuck her little chin, and by the time my OB came back, Colette was in a perfect position and ready to be born!  Two or three pushes later, we had our little sweetheart in arms and the skeptical OB exclaimed, "You were made for this!"  (That still reverberates in my mind all the time.  Indeed, I was!)

So last week, at my appointment with my dear midwife, baby girl was completely posterior.  While I've been reassured that this is a "variation of normal," it's also typically a longer and more painful labor.  Not really what I'm going for!  So, with the help of many hours on my hands and knees and some other funny positions my wonderful friend (a doula, who was trained by the Spinning Babies ladies) taught me, we have successfully coerced this little lady to lay on my left side.  This makes it much easier for her to turn perfectly for birth.  I trust her and my body in this.
Inversion.  This one helped inspire me to clean out from under my couch.
When I put this on Instagram, I was so thankful for a sisterhood of mamas who reached out and told me about their drug-free posterior births that, despite being harder, were still possible!  

~4~ Postpartum

For a several weeks now, I've been squirreling away the things I know I need for postpartum healing and happiness.  One of my bedroom shelves is stuffed full of snacks just for mom, both for labor and after - coconut water, honey sticks, nuts, juices, Larabars (my faaaaavorite), and other sustaining treats.

My tiny bedside table drawer is ready with nursing supplies, hair ties, Burt's Bees, more snacks, chargers, and a favorite - Carter's Keep Me Dry Flannel Lap Pads .  These are so useful for a snuggly baby!

(Warning: Girlie stuff below, guys might want to move along to #5 if I haven't lost you already with all the baby things!! ;-) )

After discovering the healthful effects of using this wonderful contraption while I was not pregnant, I knew I wouldn't want to turn to the typical female products postpartum either.  Not only are they so miserable, but they are also not healthy.
This time I invested in "mama cloth," because a) I'm not grossed out by *anything* anymore, b) it's no harder than cloth diapers, and c) something tells me minky material vs. bleached, sticky, plastic-y stuff will make for a much more comfortable time of healing.  Just in case, I did pick up some Seventh Generation Chlorine Free pads.
I purchased these beauties from a variety of places: Pink Lemonade (the most well-made according to just observation so far), Tree Huggers, PartyIMP (not a huge fan of this shop name, but their items are nicely done, and the best selection of fabrics!), LunaPads, Talulah Bean, and Mariposa's.
Also in my basket 'o healing - a pretty wet bag my friend E. made for me and a whole variety of healing postpartum products, including Earth Mama Angel Baby New Mama Bottom Spray, which has rave reviews on Amazon.

~5~ For the Baby

The baby girls clothes are washed and ready, the diapers are cleaned and stuffed, and baby girl's new baptismal gown is hanging in my closet, reminding me that eventually she will come out.
Cloth diapers...clean and cute.  My favorite are Fuzzibunz, and I like Planet Wise for wet bags.
I've tried a variety of options for a diaper pail with cloth diapers, none of which I was happy with.  I was excited to find this Ubbi Diaper Pail because I can use it with the disposables for the first few days, lining it with regular trash bags, and then switch to my Planet Wise Diaper Pail Liners when I change over to cloth.  It's so versatile, not ugly, doesn't require special inserts, and is made of stainless steel - not plastic.  I hope it lives up to my expectations!
These Trend Lab Storage Caddies are so handy, with tons of pockets and handles.  I got this one when I had Joe, and have now loaded it up for convenient care of my new angel.  Diapers and wipes (for until her cord stump falls off), Moby Wrap instructions, homemade burp clothes, tiny socks, nail clippers, Weleda Baby Calendula Body Lotion (my favorite brand), Honest Company Organic Healing Balm, a sweet Rosary, nail clippers I've had for 11 years now (haha!), pretty headbands for photo ops (these are so much cuter now than back when Felicity was a baby!) and other randomness I will stuff in there as needed.
My days of preparing a nursery for baby are long over, babies at this point just need to fit in to the family!  Because of this, most of her things are stashed in my bedroom - a little dresser of clothes and blankets in my closet, dresses hanging along side her mama's, and bath items stashed under my sink vanity.  I only have a few baby towels, but I've discovered I don't need many, because honestly I don't feel the need to bathe my baby all the time!  For those sweet times though, I like the Tummy Tub (here's a cute video of Joe in it when he was a baby - under Quick Take #5), Weleda Calendula Baby Wash , and a real natural sea sponge.
~6~ My Midwife

After fighting for VBACs in the hospital and then giving birth to Serafina in triage while nurses yelled at me that I must lay down (I didn't.), it was an easy and natural transition to having a homebirth with a midwife assisting when Joe was born.  His birth, despite being so incredibly and painfully late, was perfect.  It was probably the happiest day of my life so far.
This time I've chosen to plan to have my baby at home again.
My birth kit from In His Hands.  They are just wonderful!

My sweet midwife has been wonderful so far, and her calm, confident, experienced manner will surely bless me when this little one finally arrives.  It's such a great experience to visit her without waiting, to be treated as a whole person, to make my own medical decisions, for my children to be welcomed, and to leave with a big hug every visit.
Colette and Joe playing at Paula's "office"
~7~ Final Nesting

Now that the baby things are organized and my to-do before the baby list is mostly checked off, all that's left is the basic maintenance of the house.  This is extremely important to me with a baby being born here - it must be clean!  My energy is dragging...but Charlie has been very generous to me by helping me with general every day stuff, cleaning carpets over the weekend, and hiring me some cleaning help for every other week until summer (she's here now for the first time - yay!).
Also, today is our last day of school before the "Baby Break" (which, thankfully encompasses Spring Break, Holy Week, and Easter Break).  I'll still have Felicity do math every day until the baby is born, but otherwise, we're going to focus on enjoying one another, keeping the house clean, and resting up before life is turned upside down!

(So, was that the longest "Quick" Takes ever??  I guess that just makes up for my massive lack of blogging lately!  For more Quick Takes, pop over to Kelly's!)