Friday, February 23, 2018

Week in Review: Daddy Goes Back to Work

Brothers adoring their baby sister

Tuesday my husband went back to work and I was on solo duty as a mother of 10. Talk about being outnumbered! Overall things went really well. I had decided ahead of time that we won't start back to school until next week. This week was all about getting our routines in place and adjusting to missing Daddy after he had two weeks off.

Tuesday a number of the kids spent time doing drawing tutorials with their Art for Kids Hub membership from a grandma. I will scatter pictures of their drawing throughout the rest of this post.

We also baked muffins, had piano lessons, visited with an aunt and cousins, and survived the day.

Wednesday was smooth. Nothing of note really. I have started looking at homeschool curricula for next fall. What we are doing this year is mostly working well. I am feeling a bit stretched with 7 formal students and a preschooler. I'm on the fence about moving to something different for language arts for everyone but Makayla. Right now we use several different things depending on the child: Fix It Grammar, All About Reading levels, literature books, Handwriting Without Tears, Draw Write Now for copywork, Brave Writer, and so on. I'm considering moving kids to The Good and the Beautiful language arts. Right now I'm reading through each level (I have PDFs I got free over the last few years of levels PreK, K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7) and debating where to place kids and if it would work for us. The biggest hinderance in knowing where to place some of my kids is spelling. We don't do spelling until a child requests it and has been reading well for several years because I firmly believe that many spelling issues work themselves out after several years of seeing a word correctly spelled. However, there are exceptions and one of my kids is definitely in that group. Spelling is just not naturally improving even now in middle school.

Also on Wed: The oldest 5 kids had Wednesday night activities (Youth group and Cub Scouts) - which still left me with 5 children at home! I have had this month off of Cub Scouts while someone else took over. It's been really helpful. I start back at it next week with our Blue and Gold Banquet.

Thursday Makayla decided to be brave and watch the kids, including Rebekah, while I took Joseph to the orthodontist to get braces on. Two hours later I came home to a messy house but happy kids - I call that a success.

This was the day adjustments really hit hard for certain kids. They were cranky with me, cranky with each other, and I spent more time correcting children than not it felt like. However, I know 'this, too, shall pass' and we simply kept moving forward.

Friday has dawned gray and rainy yet again. The boys are busily playing with legos upstairs right now. Rebekah is asleep. I've got laundry washing, laundry drying, the dishwasher running, and meals already planned for the day. Today is going to be a better day than yesterday simply because I have decided it will.

I also need to make sure I have everything ready for starting back to school next week. Kids need assignment sheets printed out so they know what work to do each day. I need books organized and gathered.

***** Quick Afternoon Update*****

I didn't remember to publish this post earlier. Oops! It is now early afternoon and I took some pictures of Rebekah when she was awake earlier, so I'll share those and then hit publish.

Yes, she's adorable. So far she isn't a fan of tummy time, but she will do it for a bit. I love her expressions! She is a bit on the serious side.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Postpartum Notes #2

I'll try using the same categories as last time pretty much for my update. Here we go!

Hormones - I got the official word from my endocrinologist to do bloodwork for my thyroid at 8 weeks postpartum, so that is set. Emotionally I've been pretty even-keeled. A few teary times, but they were triggered by laughing as often as not, which the kids find hilarious. Daniel likes to tell me jokes and get me laughing until I cry. I think one reason things have been pretty even for me in the last week is that I'm getting great sleep for having a newborn. If you read Rebekah's 2 week update you already know she's doing a solid 4 hour stretch each night from midnight to 4am. It just can't be overstated how essential sleep is to healthy functioning in all areas!

Milk - My body is pretty much done, just a bit of occasionally discomfort now. Glad that is nearly over. Wearing a tight sports bra is helping a lot.

Diastasis Recti - While things are obviously still settling back to normal as I'm only 2 weeks post-delivery, I have checked my abdominal split. It feels like somewhere between 3 and 4 fingers wide at my bellybutton, getting smaller as you go up or down from there. I also have discovered I hate wearing the abdominal splint. Mostly because I'm still going to the bathroom pretty often with the lovely postpartum bleeding and that means removing the splints, then redoing it all. I'll give the splints a try again soon.

Bleeding - Mine slowed down dramatically around 12 days postpartum. Yesterday it kicked up a bit, which isn't surprising. Yesterday Daddy went back to work so I've been on my own with all 10 kids. That means I'm up and doing things more and the bleeding increased accordingly. I'm trying to find a balance between being up and doing the mom things I need to and resting.

Spinal Headache - This is officially gone. I had a few more headaches after I last posted but have been headache free for several days now.

Uterine Prolapse - Can't really check on this yet. Just waiting.

Sleep - Already updated in the Hormones category. :)

Weight - At 5 days postpartum I was 209 lbs. At 15 days postpartum I am now 205 lbs. I probably won't lose any more weight without effort, but we shall see. That means I've lost 25 of the 30 lbs I gained this pregnancy.

Clothing - I ended up having to buy a pair of pants. I have one pair of jeans that mostly fit and all my maternity yoga pants are falling off. I found a pair of pants on clearance at WalMart and between that and my maxi skirts I'm making due for now.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Rebekah Joy at 2 Weeks Old

Rebekah is 2 weeks old today! I thought I would share a peek into her newborn personality and preferences because every baby is different.

Rebekah's routine so far goes something like this:

  • Mornings: Sleep, wake up to eat 3 ounces, be awake for an hour or two, then sleep some more, repeat. 
  • Afternoons: Pretty much the same. Sleep, wake and eat, then sleep some more, repeat. 
  • Evenings: Wake up, eat, stay awake calmly for a while, then fuss, need held/walked/distracted from her grumping until she finally sleeps again a few hours later. This time period usually runs until about midnight. 
  • Nights: She sleeps well for a newborn, gloriously well. She sleeps 4-5 hours and wakes up sometime between 4am-5am. Then she eats and is awake about an hour, before going back to sleep for several hours, waking up after her siblings have already started their day.
I know her routine is a fluid thing that is going to keep changing as she grows. It helps that she is my 10th newborn. I'm not stressed out by the grumpy times, I don't panic when she sleeps a longer stretch than a newborn 'should' according to the books, and I make time at least once during the day to nap when she does. I know you can't spoil a baby and so she's held as much as she wants by willing arms, either mine, daddy's, or a sibling's.

Today my husband went back to work after two weeks home with us. It was wonderful to have him home for so long! Now I am outnumbered 10 kids to 1 mom. I've got a great bunch of children and we've got solid routines to keep the house running, so we'll do just fine. Lunch is ready, dinner is going in the crock pot, and I'm off to check diapers and fill cups with milk to go with our muffins.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Family Update with Baby #10 Along for the Ride

Rebekah is 10 days old. It seems as if she has been here for much longer, and as if she just got here too. Everyone loves their new little sister. She has quite a throng lining up to hold her, checking on her every whimper or squeak, and talking to her any time she is awake. 

Overall, the kids are adjusting pretty well. The older kids (Makayla, Joseph, Emma) are used to new babies and just keep up with their own interests and routines. The middle boys (Daniel, Oliver, Caleb) are more likely to bicker with each other but that is more a factor of being stuck in the house for a couple weeks with illness before baby and now staying close to home for these first weeks after baby. We're trying to offer interesting activities when we notice they need a distraction from each other. The younger boys (Mason, Samuel, Tobias) have been pretty good playing together and with the older kids. Tobias has realized that if Mom or Dad is holding Rebekah he's got an opportunity to get into things he shouldn't because we don't move quite as fast to stop him. Typical 2 year old behavior. 

We had some family over on Sunday to celebrate Valentine's Day. Then we had our own little surprise party on Valentine's Day itself with just our kids.

We passed out candy conversation hearts, heart sticky notes, and blank books. Each child put their name in their book and sticky notes on the pages of their book. Then we passed books around and wrote messages to each person in the family in their book, helping the younger boys as needed. After that it was time for ice cream sundaes - yum!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Postpartum Notes #1

Feel free to skip this post if you aren't interested in the nitty gritty of recovery from my 10th pregnancy. If you are interested, read on, and be aware that I'm pretty open about the reality of recovery.

Hormones - This is one of my least favorite parts of the postpartum period. Not only is my body changing from pregnant to not pregnant hormones, but I'm hypothyroid so my body doesn't do hormones well. It doesn't make enough of a lot of them and the dose of thyroid medication I need changes too. Adjusting that to a new normal will take months. Ugh. I'll work with my endocrinologist to monitor and adjust my medication, starting with a blood draw to check things around 5-6 weeks postpartum.

I also don't love the random emotional meltdowns I have in the first couple weeks after having a baby. Tears come randomly and in my head I can even recognize there isn't anything to be crying about but I cry anyway. I also usually struggle to control my frustration level and snap at people. I can't be up and doing things so the house isn't functioning as smoothly, the kids are adjusting and that often means trying to get away with things (especially the littler ones) while mom is busy with the baby, and I hate asking for help with every little thing. I know my husband and children don't mind helping. I just could do things faster and easier myself.

I also am on watch for postpartum depression. Sometimes I've struggled with it, sometimes I haven't. You just never know what you'll get after each pregnancy.

Milk - I don't nurse my babies anymore because of hormone issues. That means my body tries to make milk a couple days postpartum, my body gets really uncomfortable for a day, then mildly uncomfortable for a couple days before going back to normal. I have learned that if I spend a day or two using ice packs around day 3 or 4 then things get better faster.

Diastasis Recti - My abdominal muscles are split. I was able to begin trying an abdominal splint at 4 days postpartum. Wearing it definitely makes getting up off the couch or rolling over when I'm laying in bed more comfortable. It is also annoying to need to take it off every time I go to the bathroom because then I need to go lay down on the floor or my bed to put it back on correctly. All those little things add up time wise and with a new baby sometimes I just don't have the time!

Bleeding - Nobody enjoys this, including me. As a mom of many and an 'older mom' over age 35 I am more at risk for bleeding problems. I watch my bleeding and use it as a gauge for my activity level, slowing down as needed. This time around I am also trying really hard to go slowly back into activity to head off issues, which is why my husband is taking two weeks off work instead of just one. By the end of the second week of doing almost nothing my body should be more ready to be up and doing the mom thing.

Spinal headache - I had this not quite 48 hours after my epidural. Ouch! Thankfully it only lasted about 18 hours and if I laid down the pressure equalized and I felt ok, but any time I was sitting up it felt like someone was taking a hatchet to the middle of my skull. In the days since I've had some headaches that are uncomfortable but nothing as bad as that was.

Uterine Prolapse - I shared the basic overview of this in Rebekah's birth story. My pelvic floor muscles aren't holding up my uterus where they should, but we won't know for at least 6 weeks how much healing my body will do on its own as my uterus shrinks to normal size. I'll update on this when we know more.

Sleep - It's a good thing I know what to expect with a newborn! I am trying to be diligent about napping at least once or twice a day when Rebekah is asleep. This helps because she and I spend a good bit of our nights awake. She'll do a couple longer sleep stretches during the day (one early morning after 5am and then one in the afternoon and sometimes one in the evening). At night she wakes up every 1-2.5 hours and there is a 2-3 hour stretch in the middle of the night where she is awake non-stop. I know this phase doesn't last forever. We're working to make sure her body is exposed to daylight at appropriate times to help her internal clock shift, we don't keep the house quiet during the day, and at night we set the stage for sleep with white noise, comfortable temperatures, and lots of snuggles.

Weight - This is always interesting to track. I ended my pregnancy weighing 230 lbs. That is my highest weight ever, but it was not my highest weight gain. I gained 30 lbs. I won't do any kind of exercise for weeks yet, and it will be really slow when I begin because of the abdominal split and the uterine prolapse. For now my body is just doing whatever it's going to do on it's own. I hopped on the scale at day 5 postpartum and weighed 209 lbs, so the initial weight loss from birth is 21 lbs. That will probably continue a couple more pounds down by the 6 week mark, but I don't know that I'll lose the last 9 lbs I gained, maybe 4 or 5? Then the real work begins. Of course, until my thyroid hormones and medication are adjusted correctly true weight loss will be nearly impossible. (For perspective, in the four months before I became pregnant with Rebekah my doctor was adjusting my thyroid medication and I gained almost 18 lbs in that time while eating well and working out 4 days a week.)

Clothing - One thing I hate after baby is trying to fit into clothing again. I don't know about you, but I'm tired of my maternity clothes. My body also gains weight in different ways/areas with each pregnancy, so things that fit one way before baby will fit differently after. I did pull out some of my non-maternity clothes on day 5 and pack away most of my maternity clothing. I can wear the stretchier items like maxi skirts and some of my shirts. They don't fit the way they used to for sure! I figure if I'm going to wear shirts that are a bit too tight on my belly they might as well be ones I haven't had out for 9 months just for some variety. I fit into one pair of jeans but I don't think they would be comfortable for an entire day. I did not use my abdominal splint when trying on clothes. I will wear it over a lot of clothes for now because you need a layer of fabric between your skin and the splint. I put a few clothing pieces that really aren't going to be comfortable just yet into the bottom drawer of my dresser to try on in a month and the rest went back into the attic. After my first 6 weeks I will also be ready to pick out a few new pieces of clothing to fit wherever my body is at, especially some pants.

That is all I can think of for now. Do you have anything you wonder about the postpartum period for a mama of 10? Ask away in the comments!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Rebekah Joy's Birth Story

Every labor is different and I remembered to take notes or have my husband take notes during this one, which makes it easier to write up this birth story. Here we go!

This was officially my longest pregnancy ever, at 12 days overdue. My husband Jason and I headed to the hospital at 5am for my induction.

Fun Fact: I have needed Pitocin in every labor because my body doesn't sustain contractions. So this was my 9th time with Pitocin, I didn't have any with my planned C-section for Mason.

We got checked in at 6am and started answering the one hundred questions they ask before they really do anything. At 7:15am my IV was ready and they started Pitocin. I started labor dilated to 4cm. Contractions were every 5 minutes pretty quickly but if I got up and walked around they were irregular. It was the first sign something was off.

By 9:30am my contractions were still irregular and my tailbone hurt with every one. This was not a good thing. At 10:35am I was still having tailbone pain with each contraction and we realized baby Rebekah was posterior (back of skull pushing on my tailbone). The nurse had me lay on my side with a peanut ball between my knees, switching sides every 30 minutes to encourage Rebekah to turn. 

By 12:00pm my contractions were coming every 3 minutes and the pain was radiating down my sit bones and thighs, as well as my lower abdomen. Things were shifting. At 12:30pm I had a cervical check and was still 4cm dilated. Rebekah was just not in a great position. I moved to sitting up to see if we could get some pressure on my cervix to help with dilation.

At 2:10pm my notes say this: "Contractions every 1 1/2 minutes. Hurting more." Ahh, the joys of labor with Pitocin. Contractions don't stay at a normal pace.

My next cervical check was at 3:25pm. I was dilated 5-6 cm, 70% effaced. However my doctor realized that Rebekah was presenting ear first. Her head was tilted. Not good! Back trying different positions to get her to move. I got on the birthing ball for a while. Things were really painful at this point and I wasn't getting much break between contractions. We discussed a lot of options. I knew that if things didn't change soon I was going to need some help. Coming into the induction I had been praying that I would know what decisions to make in labor. For the first time in my life I seriously considered getting an epidural. After 8 vaginal births with Pitocin and without an epidural, and one planned C-section.

At 5:20pm it was decision time. I told my nurse that I needed checked and if things had not started progressing I needed an epidural. I needed a break. Things were still the same. No progress and no breaks between contractions. One would stop and within 30 seconds the next would start. I got an epidural. It was uncomfortable and weird, but started to be effective within about 15 minutes. I took a nap. My contractions spaced out to about a minute apart. Thankfully during all of this labor Rebekah was handling contractions well. 

At 6:30pm I was 8cm dilated and 100% effaced. My water still had not broke and baby simply wasn't decending lower in the pelvis. We gave her more time as she was showing no signs of distress. 

At 8:40pm I was 9cm dilated and we finally decided to break my water. My doctor said he would be back to check on me within the hour. 

At 9:30pm I was 10cm dilated. It was time to have this baby! My doctor decided to see how well I could push with the epidural, so he didn't have the nurse break the bed down completely, he just lowered the foot of the bed and sat on it. The rest of labor went basically like this:

"Let's try a push with this contraction." 
"Oh, good job! Her head's out. When you are ready push again and let's deliver." 
At which point I pushed and she came out. It was the easiest pushing phase I've ever had.

They put her up on my chest and we snuggled and laughed at her chubby squishiness, cooed over her full head of hair, and started getting to know one another.

Eventually we got around to weighing and measuring her. 9 lbs 8.4 oz of sweetness. She was my biggest baby by a couple of pounds.

If you want to see a couple more pictures of Rebekah, including meeting her siblings, check out this blog post.

Medical details (possible TMI):

1. Uterine Prolapse - While pushing was easy and I didn't tear, that doesn't mean things were perfect. We were expecting what happened. My uterus prolapsed. This had happened with my last two deliveries as well. The only real question was if it would be worse. A prolapse varies in degree. Normally your uterus is held up by pelvic floor muscles inside your body. When those muscles no longer support your uterus in the appropriate position it descends, or lowers, into the vagina, and can even come out of the body. Right now I have somewhere between a 1st and 2nd degree prolapse. My uterus is still in my body, but pretty much has fallen as far into the vagina as possible. We will wait to see how things heal up as my uterus returns to prepregnancy size to make the final decision on what degree of prolapse I have. It may go back up to a more normal position, it may not. This can cause problems in a couple areas (I won't go into those right now) and I may need medical interventions or even surgery. 

2. Diastasis Recti - split abdominal muscles. I've had this for a long time, it's a common side effect of pregnancy or weight gain and I've just finished my 14th pregnancy. Until my uterus returns to it's prepregnancy size I won't really know just how large my split is. I had been working to close it before this pregnancy with some exercises and gone from a 4 finger split to a 1-2 finger split. I fully expect my split to be as bad or worse than 4 fingers. To help that I did get a set of abdominal splints. As of day 4 postpartum I was able to get into the first two parts of the splint. I've not used one before but I'm hoping it will help support things as I work on healing. I'll share an update of what I think as things go!

3. Spinal Headache - around 48 hours postpartum I developed a really bad headache. When laying down it would go away completely, to return within a minute or two of sitting up. This happens sometimes with a spinal epidural due to leaking fluid and pressure issues in the brain. Today, day 4 postpartum, it has mostly resolved itself. Thank goodness. 

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Rebekah is Here!

While there is much I want to share about her birth this is just a quick post to introduce Rebekah Joy!

She was born Tuesday evening at 9:39pm weighing 9 lbs 8.4 oz (my biggest baby by a couple ounces), 20 3/4" long, with a head full of brown hair.

She and mommy are doing well!

We got home Thursday morning and her siblings were pretty much all smitten with her. Of course!

Here are my ten precious children. I'm so blessed!