Friends and photos

We've been blessed this week by a visit with these two:

That's my friend Michelle and her daughter Erica. (We met Michelle during our adoption of Isaias. They also adopted from Guatemala, and we traveled to meet our boys at the same time.)

Here's our first family picture since Audra has been born:

I know it. It doesn't really count since you can't see Audra, but she's there- behind me in the stroller, sleeping.

And here was our attempt to get a cute picture of all five of our children together. Out of eight photos, this is the best one. I get that that's hard to believe, but you should see the other seven. If I weren't so lazy, I'd post them just for laughs. But you're just going to have to trust that they are awful.

I think in this one, we'd just reprimanded Adelia for something, and she is beginning to tell us how she doesn't like being reprimanded. Isaac is nonchalantly wondering how Audra is faring. I think Audra is expressing how much she loves being a part of our family (so... not so much, then, at the moment). I'm pretty sure Isaias is clueless that we even are taking a picture. And Ella is posing and pretending that everything around her is just fine, thankyou.

We'll have to try that again someday. Maybe if we bribe them with treats next time we'll fare better.

Okay, I can't help myself. Here's the worst of the eight photos. I do not even know what is going on with Isaac in this picture. I really don't. But this picture should make every single one of you feel much better about every single one of the pictures you've ever taken of your children. I'm just glad I can help you out with that.

And it makes me want to SHOUT

Instruction: "Boys, please go downstairs and get your pajamas on."

[from what we can gather]

Son #2 uses a chair to climb on top of the washing machine, reaches up to a shelf located above the washing machine, and obtains a bottle of this:

He then proceeds to begin spraying Son #1 while Son #1 is actually obeying daddy's instructions. Pajamas on, Son #1, not to be outdone, climbs up to obtain a bottle of this:

All manner of furious spraying ensued.

Generously doused: the walls, the boys' dress clothes, the FOUR hampers full of clean laundry that I have spent the better part of two days doing(!), various items around the room, including one another (spraying into each others' mouths, eyes, bellies, hair, and onto Son #1's pajamas).

Enter responsible Daughter #1, sent to find out what was taking the boys so long. The girls (and daddy) were waiting for story time. Daughter #1 takes stock of the situation, runs upstairs to report that the boys are spraying cleaner all over the place.

Enter daddy. And mommy, about one step behind him.

I won't go into the rest of it, except to say that it was not one of my finer parenting moments. I was royally FURIOUS. There may or may not have been some yelling on my part. And some throwing around of some clothes while I tried to determine which of the clean clothes were wet and needed to be rewashed. And later, tears.

On the bright side: Three things:
1. It does smell clean throughout the entire downstairs area.
2. Daddy was home. Had this happened during the day when Mark was working? I very well might have taken the girls and run away from home. And you think I'm joking.
3. More importantly, we have one son with a very repentant heart. [Son #1, for the record.]

Son #2? Not so much.

Maybe when he has spent the next several days doing laundry and doing extra chores around the house in order to purchase a new bottle of this

... then maybe at the very least he'll think twice about this type of activity next time.

Or so we're hoping.

So now, to help me put this frustrating evening into perspective, why don't you share with me some of your childrens' less-than-stellar achievements? Or at least just tell me it's-a-boy-thing and list all the worse-than-this things your boys have done? Please do. It will make me feel so much better.

Ella's reading list

This is Ella's new favorite job. Not the reading, but reading while holding her sweet baby sister.

Right now she's reading the Millie books by Martha Finley. She's read the first four books of the series. Our favorite part about this is that Millie reads her Bible, which makes Ella want to read her Bible.

For those of you who, like me, are always looking for recommendations of good books your daughters can read on their own, here is a list of the books Ella has read over the past couple of months:

Millie's Unsettled Season, Book 1
Millie's Courageous Days, Book 2
Millie's Remarkable Journey, Book 3
Millie's Faithful Heart, Book 4
Little House in Brookfield
Little Town at the Crossroads
Little Clearing in the Woods
Little House on the Rocky Ridge
The Story of Florence Nightingale
Brighty of the Grand Canyon
Go Free or Die: A Story about Harriet Tubman

Ella has been doing so much reading I began asking her to write a "book report" on each book she's finished. Here's one such report:

It reads:

HaRRieT Was a sLaVe
sLaVes to FReeDoM anD NeveR LosT 1
SHe WaNTeD To Be FRee
aND ON a DaY seH DiD GeT FRee

Okay. I can't resist. Here's one more: [Click on it for a larger view]

I can't decide if my favorite part is that she circled the "Flo" part of Florence and wrote "for short" above it, or if it's the fact that at the bottom of this book report, she signed it "ella AGe 7" and then wrote: "MY sisTerRs 1". [Because it totally matters that Adelia is a year old for the sake of this particular book report.] Ah... my Ella-girl? She's so cute I can barely stand it.

And I *love* having such things tucked away in her binder.

Verse #5 & #6

Before I get to the subject of this post, I just want to thank all of you for your responses to my last post. Not only did many of you give practical suggestions, but you also gave me great support and encouragement. It heartens me to hear from those who have had similar experiences and have DONE it, or from those of you who are just positive that I can do it! :)

~thank you~


March 1st was the date to select Verse #5, and that happened to be just a week after I had Audra, so I sort of skipped that one.

For the second half of this month, I decided to choose a passage that consists of two verses to memorize so that I can catch up on Verse #5 and tackle Verse #6 all at once.

From Isaiah 43, verses 18 and 19, NASB:
Do not call to mind the former things,
Or ponder things of the past.
Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert.

My shower wall is getting crowded!

Speaking of catching up... the whole Bible reading plan I was all gung-ho about? I am weeks behind. I have not yet given up, but things are not looking good. Maybe this was not the year to commit to that?

Parenting from the couch

The common question I get lately:
"So... how is it with five?"

Five is great. I love five. And I genuinely don't think five in and of itself would overwhelm me one iota.

But five with two of those being babies? Oh my. Now we're talking.

Adelia is wonderfully pleased with and interested in Audra, which means that she wants to give Audra 400 kisses a day, which involves lying on top of her to do so. Or- if Audra is in the bouncy seat? Why not just climb on in on top of her to give her that kiss? Or if she's on the couch, sleeping? How about if we just yank on one of her limbs in an attempt to get her closer for that kiss?

It's wonderful. But challenging. We have to be very vigilant about where those two are at in proximity to one another.

If Adelia is not in one of her adoring-Audra moments, she is emptying the contents of a drawer, or pulling all the tissue out of the box, or hitting one of her older siblings (likely because they've just said no to her about something she truly should not have been doing), or... she's wanting mama. Mama who is sitting on the couch, breastfeeding Audra.

The biggest challenge for me so far has been in my attempt to train Adelia to obey. The arrival of Audra coincided with a newly-mobile and into-everything Adelia, and I foresaw this particular challenge coming. Our days so far consist of me, nursing Audra, and trying to parent Adelia from the couch. Nevermind the other three children.

And I'll just say right now that the parenting from the couch? Not super effective. Being just 12 months old, Adelia is not entirely obedient to the instructions I'm giving with my voice. Saying "No/Don't touch/Put that down" from my spot on the couch isn't really working. And my "Come to mama, Adelia" often goes unheeded. I've taken to having Isaac or Ella carry her into me for the obedience training she needs. (Ie: "Adelia? NO. Do not hit your brother with that block. Bring it to mama, please." She hears me, ignores me. I try again. And finally, "Ella or Isaac, please carry Adelia to me." So one of them does- usually a kicking and hollering Adelia!- and then she'll stand near me (or they'll help keep her near me) while I instruct her to not hit, or to please say sorry, or whatever.) But as many of you know, at this stage, these things are happening every three minutes, so it's been fairly exhausting.

I'll say it now: ANY AND ALL TIPS ARE WELCOME. ~smile~
[One tip so far that is working: Having the pac-n-play set up in our living room has been particularly helpful. Having an enclosed area for Adelia to play for small stretches throughout our days has been great.]

I've been beginning each day praying, "Lord? I feel so overwhelmed. Help me. I don't even know what this is supposed to look like." And remembering- and being reminded- that this is just a season, and to take one day [moment] at a time.

My mantra? I can do this.

Now if I can just plaster a smile on my face and tackle each moment with lots of grace and patience, we'll be set.


Storytime with all five. One of our saner moments in the past couple of weeks. [Because most of the other moments? Pure craziness.]

Audra's birth story, Part 5

If you need to catch up:
Audra's birth story, Part 1- Where Stacy's Water Breaks
Audra's birth story, Part 2- In Which We Go to the Hospital
Audra's birth story, Part 3- In Which Stacy Rambles on about the Hospital
Audra's birth story, Part 4- In Which Stacy is REALLY Feeling those Contractions

And here's the final installment.


So I'm a 9.

The on-duty hospital doctor comes in after I tell one of the nurses that I feel a slight urge to push. By the time he gets there and gets all suited up and seated, I'm not really feeling the urge to push so much anymore, but I'm still in that bring-it-on/let's-get-this-baby-born stage so I ask him, "Can I go ahead and push even if I don't feel the urge to push?" He says yes.

At some point I'm aware that they've called the on-call doctor that's supposed to deliver our baby by now, and he's "on his way".

I try pushing, which doesn't come so easily when you're not feeling the urge to push, I discovered. I was like, "When? When do I push? Tell me when. What do I do?"

All I remember is that he said I was still a 9, and there was a slight "lip", "rim"-- I forget which term he used-- of my cervix left and we needed to get up and over that, or "around the corner".


So I'm there, trying to "get around the corner", when another nurse appears in the doorway telling On-Duty Doctor, "Room 19 is ready for you." I gather from this that there's a woman laboring in Room 19 who needed the doctor seated between my legs. He's looking a tad flustered, being the only On-Duty Doctor. He says, bless his heart, "That woman has had an epidural. This woman hasn't. Tell her to blow."

So that woman blows while I try to push, but really- things aren't happening so much in our room. He's still there with me, coaching me in the pushing department, but I don't think I'm quite ready for the pushing-this-baby-out stage. Nurse enters again, reminding doctor that Room 19 is ready. He says, "How ready?" She picks up her ringing cell phone and says, "NOW." He watches me for a split second, and then makes a quick decision to go to Room 19. Tears off his scrubs and gloves and rushes out. At that moment I was thinking he'd made a smart decision. That woman was ready, I was almost ready but not quite there.

But then, pretty much right after he exits our room, I am suddenly as that woman in Room 19: REALLY feeling the urge to push. Like yelling and screaming and bearing up to push.

I remember hearing this unfamiliar voice saying, "Just pant like a puppy. Pant like a puppy." (Okay, so there were 3 times of Annoyance. This was #3). And I literally asked, "Is she talking to me?" Apparently some nurse had taken up residence in the seat between my legs that the doctor had just vacated, and was trying to tell me to blow, now. I think I may have obliged for about 3 seconds, just to be nice and obedient, you know, and then decided that wasn't going to work, and kept right on with what my body was telling me to do.

Thankfully, On-Call Doctor arrived right about then. He saunters in and asks the nurses, "Do I have time to change?" They all say NO (and I imagine them glaring at him, too), and so he suits up and takes his seat.

Things are a little blurry in my mind from here on out, honestly. Mark, Amy or my mom could do a whole lot better telling you this part, but I'll do my best (you guys can fill in details in the comments if I miss something.)

I'm pushing, and trying to breathe, and wanting water and a cool rag, still. And everyone is so involved in what's going on down there that no one is telling me what's going on anymore. I want to know if I'm now a 10? Did we make it around that corner? Do we see the baby's head? What's happening now? So I ask, "Do you see the baby's head?" And he says, "Yes. Do you want to feel it?" I do, so he guides my hand to the baby's head (which I really can't tell from anything else down there, but I believe him that that is the baby's head, yes, and that makes me happy to know it's down there, ready to come out.)

I'm pushing, and saying things like, "I don't remember this part being so hard. I usually LOVE pushing." The doctor asks me if I want some numbing stuff down there to help with the pain. I don't know if I do. I think to myself that I'd like someone (Mark? Anyone?) to tell me if I should have that or not. No one pipes up, so I tell the doctor that I'll wait. And then I push a few more times and tell him "YES I DO WANT THAT NUMBING STUFF NOW. WHERE'S THE NUMBING STUFF?"

Then I hear the nurse tell the doctor "83" or "84" or something, and I am dimly aware that it's the baby's heart rate she's referring to. He tells me to stop pushing. I don't remember stopping. I vaguely remember him telling me that the cord is wrapped around the baby's neck, twice, and that he needs to cut a little "notch" (as he snip, snip, snip, snip, snips. Sure sounded like FIVE "notches" to me, but I'm just saying.) And then he, in a very calm sort of way, mentions that the last delivery he did in this room, the baby had the cord wrapped three times around the neck AND had a knot in the cord, too. Maybe he said that to help us all feel a little bit better about his expertise. It worked for me. I don't remember feeling alarmed. He pulled the baby's head out, unwrapped the cord -one, two times- [I saw later on the video that the baby's head was gray-blue, but I didn't see it at the time].

He told me to push.

Out came baby.

I heard baby cry after a few seconds and felt relieved.

I was crying.

I was looking to see if it was a boy or a girl. Mark leaned down and whispered, "You have a girl."

And they put our Audra into my arms and I noticed her little blue head and blue hands and feet and asked if she was okay. They assured me she was perfectly fine. The nurses vigorously wiped her down with towels.

I cried some more, and said things like, "Honey, we have another daughter!" in between more crying and saying things like, "Hi beautiful Audra. Mama is so happy to finally meet you. I'm so glad I have another daughter. I love you so much." in between more crying and saying things like, "I'm done. I'm done! I'm all done. I did it. I'm so glad it's over."

But then it wasn't over because I had to deliver the placenta and OW, that hurt. And the pressing on my stomach by all the nurses. OW. And please can we be all done with this?

But oh, the delight! of having our sweet baby Audra in my arms, Mark leaning over me. Bringing her to my breast, whereupon she latched on right away and began nursing like a champ.

And that's Audra's birth story, Parts 1 through 5. Thanks for living through it with me all over again.

And MUCH praise and thanks to God for a beautiful daughter.

Audra's birth story, Part 4

For the other parts:
Audra's birth story, Part 1- Where Stacy's Water Breaks
Audra's birth story, Part 2- In Which We Go to the Hospital
Audra's birth story, Part 3- In Which Stacy Rambles on about the Hospital

Now for Part 4. If you're still with me.

Let's see... where were we? Oh yeah. The doctor was coming back at 6:00 to check me.

He didn't come. Not by 6:00. Or 6:30.

The birthing ball came in, and I spent some time sitting on that, hanging onto the end of the hospital bed. It was while I was on the birthing ball that Annoyance #2 occurred. When Amy came, she thoughtfully brought dinner for Mark and herself, and they began eating it while I was in this stage of labor. It was Jack in the Box.

Now. Fast food generally grosses me out. I make it a habit not to eat it, ever. But let me just say, smelling Jack in the Box is one thing. Smelling Jack in the Box while laboring is a whole OTHER thing. So there Mark and Amy sat, scarfing down their burgers as quickly as they could, until I gave them the heads up that another contraction was on its way. Burgers laid quickly aside, both of them would rush to my side, and with them came The Smell.

At first I didn't say anything, because, well, you know-- I was glad they were eating. One needs to eat. I just wished they'd eat it ELSEWHERE. But after a few contractions with The Smell, I couldn't help myself, and told them they really needed to hurry along and finish those burgers because I might vomit if I had to smell that smell every time they came near me. But then, even when they'd finished up their dinner, they were still smelling like it. So then I asked them to please go wash their hands, brush their teeth, whatever needed to happen to omit The Smell. I know Amy was rubbing lotion on her hands at one point.

Finally, sometime after 6:30 the nurse checked me. I was stressed about this check. I was quite sure I would burst into tears if I was still a 2 or a 3. She checked me, pronounced me a 4, and I was a happy camper.

Mark and I headed out to pace the hospital hallways again. This time it wasn't so fun. For each contraction I was either down on my knees- on all fours, or, if a little kitchenette room happened to be nearby, I was leaning over the sink, focusing on breathing through my contractions. [By this time we'd added the glorious water bottle into our system. Now: the breathing, pressure on my lower back, the cool, wet rag, AND frequent gulps of water.] We did this for maybe half an hour until I decided I'd had enough of contracting in public. There's nothing like being down on all fours, trying to focus on your breathing, when a gaggle of hospital orderlies pass, chatting and laughing about who-knows-what, but definitely interrupting my concentration.

So we went back to the room, and I walked around in there. Sometime around then this picture was taken. I'm not sure what was going on, here. Other than the obvious fact that I am beautifully modeling the hospital gown, which can be worn in two different ways, pictured here:

After this picture was taken, I took yet another bath (which was not nearly so relaxing). It was in the tub that my contractions started to feel a bit unbearable. A few times I'd start to cry or say, "I can't do this." And my wonderful laboring partners would reassure me that I could, that I was, and that I was doing great. They'd remind me to breathe and I would and then we'd have some down time for about two minutes.

Once out of the tub, I changed up my positions. I walked or stood, then during a contraction I leaned over the counter or sink, mostly. (Not because I needed to puke, but because it just happened to be the right height.) And then eventually I crawled onto the bed on all fours. Finally I was on my knees on the bed, holding onto the top of the (raised) bed, feeling like I was going to die.

The nurse checked me again shortly after I was doing that, and I was a 9. Let me just tell you, never was I more relieved to hear that number. [I'd been afraid she was going to say a 5 or a 6, and I was hoping for a 7, but a 9? Oh my goodness. I love 9.]

It was at that point that I gave myself permission to lie down on the bed and cry. I'm relatively sure I was bawling things like, "I'm a nine. I'm almost done. We're almost done. I get to meet my baby soon!" And from then on out I laid there on my side and hung onto the railing and tried not to die.

And then of course the extra nurses come in, bearing tables and trays of tools for the doctor, and I love that part, because it means the end is near.

[Part 5 (last one!) coming tomorrow.]

Photos of Audra

Interrupting this very important series to direct you to a very important link.

My friend Renee took some beautiful pictures of our little Audra!
Renee did a *great* job, too- with a very fussy Audra that afternoon. It is such a treat for me to have such great close-ups of our sweet girl. Go check them out!!! [And thank you, Renee!]

Then you can come back and read Part 3 of Audra's birth story, which I posted earlier this morning.

Audra's birth story, Part 3

If you're just joining us:
Audra's birth story, Part 1- Where Stacy's Water Breaks
Audra's birth story, Part 2- In Which We Go to the Hospital (And it might be entertaining for you to go back and read Mark's comment on this particular post. He's adding in any pertinent details I've forgotten.)

I should say here that I don't love the hospital. The only thing I do love about hospitals is that they make me feel safe. If anything were to go wrong with me or the baby during labor, I would feel the safest being there. Take that out of the picture, and I'd pick a home birth, hands down.

Quick (I promise) recap of my other two labors:
Ella, ten days late. Induced at the hospital with Cervidil (cervix softener), which put me into labor within hours, labored most of one night and part of the next day, she was born. No drugs. (Well, at the very end they did give me some Fentinol (am I spelling this right?... Lucy? Annie?)) but it ended up being so close to the end the nurses said it didn't have a chance to take effect. Loved pushing that baby girl out. That part only took a few minutes. 9 lbs, 9 oz.

Isaac, eight days late. Worst labor for me, and probably part of that was that the fact that I was in no condition to be giving birth. [Long story short- and I think I've mentioned this here before- but I had a benign tumor in my right inner ear that had to be surgically removed (four times, because it kept growing back). During the weeks prior to giving birth to Isaac, my surgical site (behind my right ear) had become infected, I was going to the hospital daily to get IV antibiotics, and another surgery was imminent. Just as soon as I delivered this baby.] Okay- back to the labor: Induced with Pitocin. WHICH I HATE. Because it did not work. I was on Pitocin for a full day and was not progressing. They kept turning it up and I kept doing... nothing. I mean, my body was having contractions but there was no progression in labor. Come nighttime they gave me Cervidil. Then more Pitocin. Then Morphine so that I could sleep. Then an Epidural which I HATED the thought of, but at that point was so stinking exhausted I didn't care much. Pushing was easy again. Just minutes of that and then, a 9 lbs, 10 oz boy.

So. All that to say that my goals going into this labor were these:
1) Cervidil was my induction method of choice. I was going to protest Pitocin without question.
2)I wanted to labor on my feet (like I was able to do with Ella), not lying in bed (like I had to do with Isaac).
3) NO EPIDURAL. Yes, you read that right. I have SEEN the size of that needle and it makes me shudder. Literally. And my reasons for not wanting one (other than the length of that needle) are simple: Years ago I read that there is the tiniest bit of a chance that one could suffer paralyisis as a result of an epidural. Tiniest bit of a chance is enough of a chance for me. Plus, for generations women have been having babies without epidurals. I figure I can, too. Those are my reasons. Enough said.

Obviously this time I didn't need to worry about #1. No need to induce labor when ones water has broken/is breaking and contractions are regular. Especially when I'm doing #2- up on my feet.

Which is what we got busy doing as soon as we were admitted into our room. And shortly after my crabby look to Mark. We got to "walk the halls" of the lovely hospital.

The thing I was struck by this time around was that without the need to be induced, the hospital let me labor WITHOUT having an IV in. LOVED that. I am sure I commented on it no less than 110 times throughout labor. "Can you even believe how great it is that I get to do this without toting that stupid IV bag/pole/line/beeping-when-the-battery-is-low paraphanalia?" It was utter freedom. It made me so happy and I loved it.

There were only two times during labor that I got mildly annoyed with my husband, and this is Time #1. (I've asked him if I could share this and he agreed.) As we were Walking the Halls at one point, a contraction hit (still mildish, but definitely stopping to breathe through them) and I said to Mark, "Honey. This really hurts. What am I supposed to do?" And he said, "Just relax." He maintains that this was great advice, and I get that. I do. But I warned him then that as labor progressed and contractions were far worse, if he said that again I might not take it as well as I just did.

During this stage of labor I remember being REALLY tired. I was yawning in between contractions and my overriding desire was simply to crawl into bed and take a nap. This worried me, since I knew we had a long ways to go. Mark and I prayed together that God would give me the strength to tackle what lay ahead and that I would stop being so exhausted. He totally answered. The yawning stopped, as did my desire to take a nap (!) and I quickly moved into my "bring it on" attitude. Shortly afterwards, when our nurse encouraged me to lie down and rest, if I could, I said "No way. These contractions are more effective when I'm up. I'm not about to lie down."

The on-duty hospital doctor had stopped in to introduce himself earlier- he would monitor my progress until it was time for delivery, when he would then call the on-call doctor (my doctor was gone for the weekend). He had told me he'd be back at 6pm (about 4 hours after I was a "2") to check me again. We called our reinforcements (my mom and Amy) and told them that, and invited them to come on in whenever they'd like.

It was when I was in the bathtub (Yay! A bath! I got to take a hot bath during labor!] where I felt like Mark and I really got a good system down. Each time I could feel a contraction coming on, Mark helped me pull myself upright and encouraged me to breathe through them, while he put pressure on my lower back (which was hurting) and also put a cold wet rag on my forehead (or neck). I loved the rag. And then as it subsided he'd put a pillow behind my head and help me lie back and relax until the next one came.

A little before 6:00 Amy came (mid-bath; and took over the cool, wet rag part of our system) and my mom followed shortly afterward, and we waited for the doctor to get there to check me again.

[Part 4 to follow. Monday morning. And okaaay... so maybe this is going to be a 5-part series.]

Audra's birth story, Part 2

I think it's so funny that some of you- including my husband- think this is going to be a 10-part series. Truth be told, I very nearly put "Part 1 of 10" at the beginning of my last post-- in jest, of course. But I thought to put it because I know I am detailed and can get a little long-winded.

But come on. It's not like I'm going to give you the play-by-play of each and every contraction. Sheesh. I'm not that detailed.

I know we've just barely made it out of church at this point, but I'll move along a little more quickly from here on out, I think- probably making this series a total of only 3 or 4 parts, not the 10 you're all fearing. :)

[Part 1, Where Stacy's Water Breaks, is here, if you missed it.]

We explained to the kids on the way home that we thought mommy's water was breaking, and that that meant the baby was coming and we would likely be going to the hospital soon, rather than Friday for the induction as we'd originally told them.

Ella looked worried. I'm pretty sure she was remembering me telling her that it hurts to have a baby and she was waiting for the hurt part to kick in.

At one point during the drive home Mark asked the kids, "Are you guys excited?" Everyone was, except Isaac. He said, "But I wanted it to be a surprise!" Not sure what wasn't surprising about this to him, but no matter. Mark and I were feeling rather surprised by this turn of events.

When we got home, I stuck a towel between my legs, got out my to-pack-for-the-hospital list and a nearly-empty bag, and began packing. When that was finished, I began cleaning. And folding laundry. I tried to reach my mom by phone before she went to second service, but she didn't pick up, so I left a message on her cell phone. I called Amy and told her what was going on. And then I began to clean our bedroom. Mark, meanwhile, was occupying himself by taking out the garbages and cleaning the kitchen. Ella jumped on board immediately in the cleaning frenzy, saying she wanted "to do something to help with the baby", and began helping me in the bedroom. This girl is so thorough that she was on her belly, lying on the floor, peering under our bed to see what she could clean. She was cracking me up.

Mark went to get lunch, I was having minor contractions, we ate-- after Amy assured me I should eat. (I was afraid to. We get bagels after church every Sunday; it's our tradition. And I feared that eating one would ensure that I would be seeing it later if I happened to puke it out during labor, and our tradition for bagels would be forever ruined. But Amy told me to eat. So I did.)

The contractions weren't bad at all- but we noticed they were coming regularly. When Mark began to time them- about an hour and a half after we got home from church- they were 3 minutes apart. This was also new to us.

I don't have contractions before I go to the hospital to get induced TO have them.

I wanted to labor for a(long)while at home. Mark, however, was getting nervous. Like I said, this was all new to us, and the whole my-water-broke scenario coupled with regular 3-minutes apart contractions made Mark think this may go faster than usual, and he wanted to get to the hospital to see how things were going.

I didn't want to go to the hospital only to find out that I was "still dilated to a 1". I was sure we hadn't made any progress whatsoever, and I didn't want to go until I genuinely thought we HAD made progress. But Mark was pretty persistent, and Amy said that the benefit of going in to get checked was that we would be able to check the baby's heart rate to see how the baby was handling things so far. I agreed to go.

We packed up the kids and brought them to Tara and Andy's house. It was in their driveway that I burst into tears. Mark had gotten all the older kids out, and their stuff, and came back to get Adelia for the final trip into their house. As he took Adelia out of her car seat, I started bawling, and saying things like, "She's not going to be my baby anymore. I'm going to miss that sweet girl being my littlest." Mark assured me that she still was my baby girl, and leaned her in for a kiss, and I said (a blubbering) goodbye.

If I was in doubt at church about whether or not my water was breaking, I was definitely not in doubt anymore. Towel #3 resided between my legs, and I was like, "Seriously? There is THIS MUCH WATER in there?! Does this STOP?"

When we got to the admit desk at the childbirth center, we signed in, filled out a few papers, and stood there while the admit-person clicked away at her screen. We had stood there maybe 5 minutes when she looked up at us and asked, "Have you ever had any other last names?" We said, "What?" And she repeated her question. We said "No." I just remember thinking, "Is she even serious?" And then somehow she found us in her system- under our current last name, thankyouverymuch- and we were sent to wait in the waiting room.

This was new. There we sat, at a table and chairs. (Well, I was not sitting, I was walking.) At the other two tables were boisterous extended family members waiting for babies to be born. In one corner of the room a children's video played, while NO CHILD WAS IN SIGHT to watch said video. It went on and on, loudly, for several minutes, before I said something to Mark about it. "Seriously. Must we have that on?" And he promptly took care of that.

I was wondering how long they were going to let a laboring woman pace in the waiting room. I mean, I was not comfy, people. (The TOWEL, remember?) I didn't have an extra on hand and I sort of needed one at that point. Lots of water in there, apparently.

After about 20 minutes of me pacing and leaning over the table at different times to breathe, we were called back. We met a couple of different nurses, the baby was monitored and doing just fine, I was checked, and I was a "2". No surprise there. So I told them I wanted to go home, then- and labor at home for awhile, but they said no, actually- now that my water had broken and I was having regular contractions (that had all but stopped now that I was laying on a hospital bed, mind you), they wanted me to stay.

[Insert crabby look to Mark here.]

[Part 3 will follow.]

Audra's birth story, Part 1

This is Part 1 of Audra's birth story. I happen to love hearing others' birth stories. If I know you and you've just given birth, I'm the one who will say, "Let's hear it. I want all the details." Then I'll sit down to hear you out. And then have a million follow-up questions.

So I'm going to write this like I'd want to hear it, which means it will be detailed. If details bore you or if you fear that your stomach might get queasy- what with the subject matter at hand- feel free to click away.


It all began at church on Sunday morning.

Adelia was getting too noisy in the service, so I took her out. We found a couch and as I bent to sit down, um... felt a slight whoosh. The best way to describe it is that it was a little seepage (if that's even a word) of moisture in my underwear.

I wasn't particularly alarmed, but definitely felt the need to go check it out.

I took Adelia with me into the restroom to empty my bladder. I did my thing, wiped, stood to pull up my underwear, and again, the whoosh. Puzzled, I wiped again, finished my bathroom business, and headed out.

We made it back out to the couch, only to feel the whooshing sensation once again. Lovely.

Back to the bathroom. Thankfully our church has a basket of pads on the counter in the woman's restroom. I set Adelia down, inserted big-beefy-church-pad, and we went on our merry way.

Back to the couch. A few minutes later, whoosh.

Back to the bathroom. Repeat the Changing Of The Pad.

You may think I'm a little slow on the uptake, but I still was not sure what was going on. I wasn't familiar with the whooshing sensation. Obviously I was wondering what was going on, and the water-breaking thought had entered my mind, but I didn't think it was that, for two reasons:
1) My water does not break on it's own. My doctor does that for me, at the hospital, during labor.
2) I was pretty sure that when ones water broke, it came as a gush, not a whoosh.

Also, and probably most importantly: I wasn't about to be one of those pregnant women who thinks their water has just broken, and rushes to the hospital only to find out that in reality, they had simply peed their pants. Nope, that would not be me.

During my third trip to the bathroom, I decided that I needed to have a consultation with my man. I was hoping he could shed some light on the matter for me, and at the very least I wanted to pass Adelia off so that she wasn't crawling around on the floor of the woman's restroom every five minutes while I changed out my pad. [Note: I must tell you that it completely grosses me out that she was crawling on the floor of a bathroom. That is so not something I would normally be okay with. And yet, it happened to be a secondary concern to my primary concern of keeping dry that morning.]

Decision made. I was off to find Mark. Because if this was in fact my water breaking, I figured I'd better get Mark before anything DID gush.

So, with a fresh pad on and a quick check in the bathroom mirror to ensure that all this whooshing hadn't become visible, I made my way out to Mark and the other three kids. I leaned over to him and whispered, "I think my water may be breaking. Or something. Can you come talk to me about it?" To which he immediately got up and followed me out into the foyer. Whereupon I began to give him the rundown.

I quickly described to him the whooshing, and the pads. And I asked him, "Do you think I'm just peeing my pants?" I can't remember exactly what he said, but the gist of it was that he didn't think I was peeing my pants (skirt) and that he thought maybe my water was breaking, but wrapped it all up by saying that he didn't really know. Mmm hmm. Me neither. And then he just stood there, not knowing what to do or say.

I kept talking, and it was at this point that Mark's sister Shelley walked up. I quieted, of course, and acted like everything was normal, me standing there wetting my pants every five minutes, chatting with my husband in the foyer with our one-year-old while the rest of our kids sat in church by themselves. Because, you know, I wasn't ready to convey that I thought my water was breaking when in fact, maybe I was only just wetting my pants.

So I chit-chatted for about a minute but then quickly ascertained that Shelley, mother of four and Knower of all things pregnancy and baby-related, was going to be FAR more help than my husband in this department. So I cut the chit-chat and blurted out, "We're standing out here trying to decide if my water is breaking or if I'm just peeing my pants."

At the point where I began filling her in on the whooshing and the pads and what not, the whoosh happened again and I passed Adelia off to her daddy and headed back into the restroom and to the dryness of another big beefy church pad. And noted that the supply was getting low. There were liners and there were pads in that basket, and the pads were dwindling. I knew the liners weren't going to cut it.

Back out to Shelley and Mark. Shelley, having never had her water break on it's own, either, nonetheless assured me that my water was breaking and that no, Stacy, you are not peeing your pants over and over again. We then sent Mark back to the sanctuary, and I think he was really quite happy to go. He offered to take Adelia but I told him to leave her with me.

For the next 20 minutes or so, Shelley (and her friend Janet, who had joined us) tried to convince me- between trips to the bathroom- that my water was breaking. I was pretty sure it was, too, by that point. But I kept saying, "Are you sure it's not just pee?" I made those two swear to secrecy, just in case it was pee. So whenever anyone else walked up (Kamille, Talia), we all shushed and pretended nothing was happening. Except for when Tara walked up, and I told her immediately, because they were taking our kids when we went to the hospital, and I was pretty sure we would be going there sometime within the next 24 hours.

By the time church ended, I had the last of the big beefy church pads in, with one of the liners on top of it, and I was standing there praying I wouldn't gush as everyone filtered into the foyer after the service.

And of course, Mark was taking forever-and-a-day to make it out to the foyer, and I was getting more nervous by the moment. I was seriously worried the seeping had made it's way down my tights and might begin seeping onto the floor.

Shelley took charge, and went to the doorway to wave Mark down- frantically but subtly- if you can imagine that. She was gesturing for him to come on out with all our stuff and the kids, but he misunderstood and left the kids and stuff to come find out what she needed. She then gave him the big-sister look and ordered him back to get the kids and to get his wife on out of the building. He still took far too long while I stood there, watching the floor for wet spots. [There were none, thankyouverymuch.]

Eventually we made it out the door, and all I could think about was the fact that I really wanted to get home and stick a towel between my legs and that our hospital bag was not even packed yet.

[Part 2 to follow]

Just one week

[Just slipping in for a quick hello...]

As we were driving to church this morning I was reflecting on all that has changed in our lives in just one week.

Last week on the way to church I was fully pregnant.
This week I am no longer pregnant.

Last week I was wearing maternity clothes.
This week I was wearing regular clothes.

Last week we had an empty seat in the van.
This week our infant seat was buckled in with a tiny cutie inside of it.

Last week we wondered if the baby was a boy or a girl.
This week we held our baby girl.

Last week we got four children ready for church.
This week we got five children ready for church.

Last week I wasn't breastfeeding.
This week I am. [And, um... Ouch. I'd forgotten how sore new breastfeeding-breasts are. And Audra is a vigorous little nurser with a strong suck. Yipes!]

Last week they announced the birth of a new baby during church.
This week they announced the birth of OUR baby during church.

Last week my water broke at church.
This week I held our Audra in church.

One week.

It's been wonderful. I am sore, exhausted, emotional, and quite honestly feeling a bit overwhelmed at the prospect of these two littlest ones needing mama so much of the time-- and yet, I am so incredibly grateful, joyful and content.

A good friend of ours has organized meals for us for these first two weeks, and several have also delivered freezer meals.

Mark has two full weeks off, and then works part-time for the next two (how wonderful is that? I know it. I am so blessed.)

My mom has been over every.single.morning to help with the laundry, the dishes, the cleaning, the kids... whatever needs to be done. And that has been a HUGE blessing. This is the first time I've had regular help after the birth of a baby- and it has been *wonderful*.

Ella, Isaac and Adelia have been sick all week long (the congested, coughing variety), so that has been a little extra taxing. We are hoping and praying that Audra won't get sick, and trying to keep the kids as separate as we can without making too much fuss over it. Mark has held off until today, and now he's feeling sick, too. We'd love your prayers for health in our home!

I can't wait to tell you the whole birth story. I'm working on it-- in little snatched moments, here and there. [Fewer and farther between, those moments.]

Thank you all for rejoicing with us in the birth of our Audra. She is precious, and we are so grateful for yet another gift from God. I wept this morning in church as we sang a song with words from Psalm 30:

You have turned my mourning into dancing,
You have turned my sorrow into joy.

The tears fell because I well remember being in that same building, years ago-- worshiping through tears, and praying for God to answer our heart's desire for children.

And this morning? Surrounded by them.
Our first: a delightful seven-year old Ella, tall with a blonde braid down her back.
Our second: a sweet five-year old Isaac, lean and smiling.
Our third: our adopted nearly-four-year old Isaias, standing straight and handsome.
Our fourth: our adopted one-year old Adelia, beautiful and snuggly in mama's arms.
And now, our fifth: lovely little one-week old Audra, cuddled in her proud papa's arms until mama was able to pry her away for the last five minutes of service.

Every single one of our children: given by God in His perfect timing.

My heart is so full, friends.