Friday, November 26, 2010

Kickin' off the Holiday Season

The week of Thanksgiving always kicks off the season of holidays in our house. The Christmas tree lighting takes place early in our downtown, with Santa riding in on a fire truck. The downtown twinkles with white sparkly lights - such a beautiful site. There is something comforting in the annual traditions. Jeff kicked off his hunting season the same night, so the children and I had a pizza party with friends, then headed downtown for the lighting.

We also celebrated a certain birthday girls' 4th birthday!

I think we've found another tradition to incorporate into our family. Abbey took her balloons outside and I asked her if she wanted to let them blow away and watch them go up, up, up. At first she said no, then she asked where they would go if she let them go. We told her they would fly up to heaven. She thought about this for oh, about a nano-second and said "I want to let them go so everyone in heaven will know it's my birthday - like Pa-Pa". We lost my Dad (Pa-Pa) last year around this time so it was so sweet of her to remember him. I bet he caught those balloons from his little Abbey and celebrated in heaven. Don't you just love how children think? I think we'll need some more balloons to fly away on the next birthday.

So many things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, but most of all our family and friends. I have the family I've always wanted and I will always be so very thankful for them each and every day. I get to kiss on soft, sweet baby cheeks every day (many times a day!), share in smiles, hang out with a teenager late at night, and just share life with them every day.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!


Friday, September 17, 2010

Pretty Girls

My pretty twins turned 11 this past week and look at how cute they are! I can't believe how fast they are growing up. I know it is cliche to say things like that, but really, when did this happen? I've been here every step of the way and still they grow up right under our noses. I remember so well their birth, Jess at 6 lbs 14 oz and Grace at just 5lb 5 oz....just a little peanut really.

They wanted some pampering for their birthday this year so part of their birthday gift was a trip to my salon (where they usually don't go since it's a little bit pricey for a children's cut). When their hair cuts and styling was over, we headed up to Claires for their next birthday gift. Ear piercing! As exciting as that sounds to a young lady, this was their second time to do this. Two years ago we tried to get their ears pierced, but it just didn't take and both of their ears became infected badly to the point we just had to let them close up. We're trying a little different approach this time and used stainless steel earrings in hopes that it takes this time and heals easily so they can have pierced ears.

Look at how worried they both look! You'd think they had never done this before. Rest assured, they both had smiles on their faces once it was over. Jessica looked giddy afterwards, while Grace looked a little pale but happy.

I couldn't post without a picture of Brett. He's also making his Mama wonder why children must grow up so quickly. Look at him drool over the girls birthday cake (which happened to be a marble cake with chocolate cream cheese icing - soooo good!). Four months old and already eyeing our food and sitting up. He didn't get a bite of the cake this time (just in case you were wondering) - we'll save that first bite for his first birthday.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A room for baby

I have so enjoyed having a space just for baby this time around. Having a boy after five girls really made me think about how we use our home and whether to create a space for baby. Since I breastfeed, co-sleep and stay close to my babies, we haven't had a need to create a space for them since they are just usually in our room. But having a boy, gave me inspiration to make a space for some boy things and I just love going in there to change his diaper, nurse him and play with him in a nice clean space! I wanted the room to be at Brett's level and very Montessori like. The wall decals are from Wee Gallery - the woodland collection. The quilt is Mama made from the Anna Maria Horner "Voile" collection. Almost silky soft and very light weight for our Texas weather. As Brett grows and starts to roll over more, he will start to nap here in his little floor bed.

A space for baby to explore with a mirror and mobile. The wall mobile is from the Michael Olaf catalog and has turned out to be one of Brett's favorite things. He loves looking at his mobile and gets lots of tummy time near the mirror - what a cute baby he has to look at! We hung the mobile from a ceiling hook and used fishing line to attach it.

I fell in love with this print from Sarah Jane's etsy shop. The little boys planning a rocket launch filled me with vision of how my little boy might be playing some day with his buddies. My girls all have one of her prints with their birthday month hanging in their rooms so it was only fitting that Brett have one in his room too.

The rocking chair is from another etsy shop and finished in a nice natural wood. Brett's big sister (the littlest sister) Abbey loves to sit next to Mama as I nurse or rock the baby.

A special chair that was a gift from my Mom's house and recovered by a local shop. I found the Anna Maria Horner home dec fabric at for super cheap (7 yards for just $35!). It's the perfect size rocking chair for a new mom and baby. My favorite corner of the room.

Here is our diaper changing area - on top of a dresser that stores cloth diapers in the top drawer, clothes in the middle drawer and the bottom drawer has blankets (these are my hands down favorites!) and baby carriers (Maya Wrap sling, Moby Wrap, Baby Hawk and Beco). Baby carriers are like shoes - sometimes you need your sneakers and sometimes something dressier! :)

Finally, a special picture of the men in Brett's family. There's Daddy with his Dad, Grandad, and Papa - who passed away while I was pregnant with his first Grandson. Miss you Daddy. Brett will always know the strong men who came before him as he grows into a kind, strong man himself.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What's in a name?

Jeff and I worked on baby boy names as soon as we found out we were having a boy during a routine ultrasound at 20 weeks. However, it didn't seem like we could agree on just one name. He liked Rowdy and Barrett - I liked Everett and Henry. It felt weird not having a name for our new baby. I would go to bed each night and pray that the Lord would send me my baby's name in my sleep. As his birthday grew closer, I knew our baby would name himself in his own way once he was born.

After his birth at home, we had to transfer to the hospital for continuing care. We were blessed with an amazing group of EMTs, one who I saw kneeling in our hallway with one of my daughter's hands in his. This man was a tall, strong EMT, but was also so very kind and compassionate. In the ambulance, he came to my side to tell me that my girls were upset, but that he felt he had calmed them and told me everything would be alright.

My baby didn't have name yet, so as I layed on the stretcher in the ambulance, I asked the five EMTs around me to tell me their names. Immediately, I hear "Brett" and see that this is the same man who had spoken to me about my girls. Another says, "Brent" and some give me their children's names - which I can't remember now.

In the hospital, Jeff and I are still going back and forth about a name. I like Everett, he likes Barrett. Jeff went home to check on the girls the next morning and I ask him to bring back my list of baby names. When he walked back into the hospital room, he says, "what do you think about Brett Henry?". I look at him for a moment and exclaim - "I like it! Let's do it!".

It was perfect - a perfect combination of his Barrett and my Everett, with the Henry name I loved so much. While thinking about the baby's birth, the EMT "Brett" came as his inspiration. A name we both loved finally - a strong, kind name - both qualities I want for my son to have.

Bringing you here - Part III

Before I finish our story, I want you to know a little bit about how I view pregnancy and birth. Being pregnant is an amazing, miraculous event and something I will cherish the rest of my life. I view birth as a normal process, not an illness and thus I have chosen to have midwives as part of my birthing team and to have my baby at home. There is nothing more wonderful than being at home during labor and being tucked into my own bed after birth with my new baby. The whole family gets to be a part of the process and to bond with the baby shortly after birth.

My big, beautiful baby boy, you were finally born! You were purple and blue and took a little long to take that first breath. But when you did, I felt my body relax completely.
Unfortunately, it didn't end there with a beautiful birth. You still didn't even have a name yet. As you waited to take that first breath, I started to hemmorage. I felt the gushes come one right after the other as Amber had me push the placenta out quickly as they clamped the cord. I could feel the blood gushing from my body in spurts and felt my midwife jump into action. I could hear the urgency in her voice as they shot me with pitocin several times - 7 times I think - and something else (methrogen?) a few times, plus the continual massage of my uterus (which was so painful! - it should be called torture instead of a massage). We did what was neccessary.

The bleeding was under control finally, but we decided to call the EMTs to come start an IV to get fluids back into me quickly. It was probably a good thing that I was flat on my back during the birth because I would have passed out from the blood loss if I had to be moved (like I did with Abbey's birth). They estimated I lost about 6 pints of blood - oh why, did this keep happening to me?

We eventually declined the hospital transport from the EMTs as I had stablized and the bleeding was under control. I was able to nurse you, our new baby boy and hold you while I ate some food. But I was pretty weak and worn out and it was hard to position you. Then the midwives took you to look you over and get your measurements. Such a big boy - all of 10 lbs, 10 oz and 22 3/4 inches long! What a big boy! The biggest baby yet our midwives have delivered (it used to be Abbey - but you beat her...we didn't need to break a record you know?!) Your sisters all got to look at you and hold you after that while I tried to rest.
Our midwives finally were able to leave around 5pm and we snuggled in bed with our sweet new baby. You had the cutest little fuzzy newborn ears but you were also quite bruised from the birth. What a day for the both of us!

It wasn't over yet..... by 8pm, I could tell my bleeding was starting to pick back up some, not bad, but definitely increasing so we called the midwife, Amber, to come back. I was getting nervous about making it through the night and I also had to go pee, but just couldn't seem to do it in my bed on a pad or in a bed pan which they would have preferred I do. Talk about a mental thing! When she arrived, Amber and your Dad decided to carry me to the bathroom so I could go. I was scared to get up, but I had to go bad and it was starting to hurt! Luckily, I was able to go easily once on the potty, but then I started to feel really bad and I told Amber so. The next thing I knew, I was in bed again waking up. I had passed out again and I just started crying. I promised Jeff I would do everything not to have this happen again...and then it did. I just wanted to get up and take care of my baby, but I couldn't.

The EMTs were called back as I was waking up and I could hear your Dad with them on the phone. I could see the panic in his face and hear it in his voice as well as Amber's. I had passed a huge clot when they picked me up may have been leftover placenta. The EMTs arrived again as did my Mom. It was time to go to the hospital so the nurses could take care of me the rest of the night. The girls were crying and scared for their Mom and I was crying too.
We were blessed with strong and kind EMTs who treated us with the best care. As they took me out, I could see one of them kneeling in the hallway with my girls. He came out later to the ambulance to tell me that the girls were upset, but he thought he was able to calm them down. He said, everything would be okay.

As I layed in the ambulance surrounded by about 5 big EMTs, I told them they needed to tell me their names since my baby didn't have a name yet. The one who had talked to the girls, shouted out "Brett!". A couple of others told me their names too and some of their sons names.
Once at the hospital, we were finally settled into our room by 3am. Our emergency room visit was scary and long, filled with a dr who didn't want to listen to us about the care I needed. I felt very violated by him and sad that we had to be there. So much for the rest we had hoped for. The nurses kept coming in and out all night long. I just wanted to go home by the morning so I could sleep at this point. Your Dad stayed with me so that you could stay as well.

Things had calmed down by the morning and we had a better doctor seeing us but they wanted to keep us there another night. The IV of pitocin was still going, the methrogen pills, the pain pills, the vitamins, the stool softener...I was so tired of it. My bleeding was all but over and still they kept the drugs flowing and the catheter inserted even though I could walk down the hall. I had to prove myself before they would do anything. So walked I did - even in the middle of the night the nurse came to get me to take a walk down the hall to see if I could do it without passing out. I would do anything to go home, so I walked.

Another night of being woken up by different nurses, one to give me meds, one to take my stats, one to take my blood (like I hadn't lost enough!). I had to educate them on co-sleeping and explain myself over and over (like a mother of 6 didn't know what to do with a new baby). I was in tears the next morning from exhaustion. All I wanted to do was nurse my new baby and that is all you wanted to do. I could hear your swallowing and knew that you would be a nursing champ.

After two nights, we were finally released and went home as fast as we could. They tried to shower us with sample bags of formula and we left them right there in the room. I walked out with my baby and we headed for home where our beautiful girls were waiting for us. My cousin had come down from Dallas to help with the girls and so she and my Mom were also there. They all greeted us with welcome home signs and a delicious meal - I was so hungry - the hospital food was just awful. We were finally tucked into our own bed at home again and I layed you on my chest as we snuggled in together.

Each birth is different and a treasure, so it happened the way it was supposed to happen and in the end we had you, our sweet baby boy. We were so happy that you were finally here!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Bringing you here - Part II

Just as I anticipated, contractions started coming regularly about an hour after my water broke. It felt just like your sister Allison's birth, with one really strong wave followed by one not so strong (her water was broken for me and labor started within an hour). Your Dad stayed with me the whole time, rubbing my back, talking to me - wanting me to treasure this last labor and birth. His presence meant so much to me this time. Everytime he left the room, my contractions would lighten up and when he was holding my hand they felt like we were making good progress. The birth ball was the most comfortable place to be, although I knew I wanted to try for another water birth. So after a few hours of bouncing on the ball and relaxing through the contractions with my hypnobirthing, we called the midwives to say I was starting to get uncomfortable and wanted to get into the tub. Your Dad ran the tub for me, but then I just wanted to stay on the birthing ball. Amber (one of our midwives) arrived quickly (she's been present for my last three births) and checked on your heartbeat. It was much lower than our last appointment and I could tell that you were moving much lower. Hurray - we were making progress!

I finally decided to try the water and it felt so good to get in the tub. I moved around, trying to get in a good position to help you move down. The hypnobirthing cd played in the background and I giggled every time it said " you are a beautiful woman"..because your Dad was right by my side listening with me. The midwives left us to labor on our own, only coming in to check periodically on your heart beat - which stayed strong throughout labor. I'm not sure how much time had passed at this point, but it finally felt really good to bear down a little with each contraction so I knew it was close or I was almost dilated fully. Amber checked me per my request and I was at a 9 with a lip...this is where I always get before asking her to check! She tried to hold the lip back so I could push through it, but my contractions were too far apart to hold down to keep you from slipping back upwards. You would just rise back up between them. So Joani (my other wonderful midwife), gave me some herbs to pick up the pace. It worked, but I just couldn't position myself right in the tub and so I wanted to get out thinking if I was more vertical, then gravity might help me.

As soon as I got out of the tub, the herbs kicked in and I could hardly move through the contractions. I lost all my focus from the hypnobirthing and couldn't get it back as hard as I tried. With every contraction I just fell to my knees in pain and I couldn't get back on top of them. The hypnobirthing was out the window at this point. I made it to the side of my bed and just leaned over the mattress with each contraction, pushing with each one as my body took over. My mind said, no more, make it stop...and please just call the hospital to arrange for a c-section..and I'm too old for this!

But it didn't stop and my encouraging team of Amber, Joani and your Dad said I could do it....I didn't believe them at the time. The fact that you were probably very big, likely bigger than your sister Abbey (10.3lbs) was holding me back and I just couldn't seem to let go. Joani pushed on the side of my hips with each contraction and that seemed to help me make progress a little. Finally, Amber suggested that I lay down on the bed, flat on my back...I thought she must be out of her mind to suggest that, but I was willing to try anything to make the hurting stop. Sure enough, with the help of everyone (literally), your Dad on one leg, Joani on the other and Amber coaxing from within, your head was visible. Your Dad said you had lots of hair! I pushed with all my might and finally felt the ring of fire...yay! We were almost there. They asked me to stop pushing so I could stretch and it was so hard not to push. They said, your head would slide out by itself if I just stopped pushing so I did and it did. The shoulders were a little tricky, but nothing like how Abbey was stuck.

Baby Boy, you entered the world at 2:26pm and were put on my chest. All blue and gray, you took a while to take your first breath as I rubbed your back and talked to you - welcoming you into the world and our family. Finally, that precious moment arrived and you breathed in life, let out the tiniest of a cry and started to pink up. What a happy moment and I was so relieved that it was finally over - or so I hoped.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Bringing you here - Part I

As I write this you are now three months old and sleeping soundly on my chest - my sweet baby boy - Brett Henry. It has taken me this long to put into words the day of your birth, but if I wait much longer I am afraid the memory of the day you were born will fade and I don't want to lose a single minute of it even though much of the day was spent in a laboring haze. It was quite a day and we went through it together, you and me, with your Daddy by our side.

The anticipation of your birthday was almost too much for this mama to take. The physical discomforts from my body and the migraine headaches, the waiting, the noticing of every little thing leading up to a body about to give birth, the tenseness of having five other children who needed me...made me a little stressed those last few weeks and days. On the advice of your Daddy, who declared me too tense to give birth and told me to relax, I set out to relax the week before your due date.

Your sisters and I started out the week by putting school work aside and meeting friends for coffee. Just hanging out, relaxing on a beautiful spring day. We walked (of course to help get labor going), window shopped and took pictures of the girls and myself - big and pregnant with you. The day before, I lost my mucous plug so I knew if I could only relax, then maybe labor would get going and stay. I had days where contractions would come ALL DAY LONG, only to go away when I went to bed. Very, very frustrating....I just wanted to hold you in my arms and kiss your sweet cheeks.

The next day, Melissa and I went to a movie and ate huge cookies that were so yummy. The movie made me laugh and cry and that was actually a really good emotional release. Every day we tried to make it a relaxing day and I tried to enjoy the last days of being pregnant with you - although the day we planned to spend at the park, it rained - so instead we went for cupcakes! I was super good about not eating sweets all through my pregnancy hoping for a smaller baby this time around. I hardly had a mouthful the whole time and most of the time when I did try something sweet, it tasted terrible and I couldn't finish it. So to have a few sweets at the end, was really a treat and they finally tasted good!

The relaxing must have done the trick, as I woke up to my water breaking in bed on Friday, April 23rd, just 3 days before your due date. It was about 8am and I could hear the girls in the kitchen stirring around so I yelled for one of them to come help me as my pj bottoms were wet, but I hadn't felt a gush. I didn't want to get up and get my bed all wet if it did. Melissa heard me and came running in (there must have been some urgency in my voice!) - she grabbed me a pad and I was able to get up and save the bed. I called your Dad right after I got myself changed and told him he had to come home that my water had broke - he said he was on his way. I was so nervous and excited to finally be in labor although I wasn't having any contractions yet. I called my midwife, my friends Angie and Lynn, then I got settled on the birth ball in my room as the contractions started coming. My water has never broken on its own before so I knew you were a very strong baby!