16 November 2018

Crazy Chicken Lady

It was pretty much immediately apparent that I was going to become a crazy chicken lady. For years I've ordered the Rochester Hatchery catalogue, dreaming of green eggs and fancy plumage. It was just a matter of time before I got my own little flock and lived happily ever after.

Well, luckily, the previous owners of our new home loved chickens too, and left behind a beautifully fenced chicken yard, and five gorgeous chickens.  Unfortunately, 3 of those five chickens are freeloading roosters, and the two hens weren't carrying their weight in the egg department either. 

Not to be deterred by the silly details of coop size or fencing, I very quickly acquired 6 young Lohmann hens!  And, just a few weeks later, the little ladies graced us with our first egg!

And what's nine more?  Nothing, I know, right?!  And so we welcomed nine more hens-a-laying into our coop. Except, this time it was apparent that we did not have enough room.  And that's where Jared and his mad carpentry skills came in - because 20 chickens were definitely not going to fit into the tiny coop that we had.

And, I'd be lying if I said that that little project took the weekend, like I expected it would. It's really become the project of the month, and still not quite finished, but we are getting there, and I can't wait to introduce the ladies to the new coop.

And now we aren't excited about one tiny egg, we are disappointed if we get anything less than 12.

So, if you live near me, and need some eggs, come on over!

16 September 2018

Welcome Home

When I was a little girl, I went to horse camp in Bragg Creek, Alberta every summer. For one glorious week each year I got to live my little girl dreams on the back of a tired pony.

As a teenager I worked at that very horse camp, where I spent my entire summer filthy, and utterly happy.

I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but at some point that farm became the epitome of what I wanted in my life - where I wanted to live and what I wanted to do with my life. 

Fast forward about 20 years, I'd finally convinced Jared that we should move out of the city and onto a farm, and low and behold, that very farm was up for rent. 

And so, naturally, we moved, again. We sold the house in the city and moved to the country!

However, no matter how loudly my childhood dreams tried to convince me, that 50 year old tiny farm house was not our dream house.  As it stood there wasn't room for us, and certainly no room for us to grow. It was able to provide us with on last service: a safe place for us to be while we searched for our elusive forever home.

And that is what brings me to where I am right now, sitting in the dark, staring at the log walls of what is our new, and our forever home! 

I don't know what I thought I'd feel, finally in the house I plan on calling home forever, but I don't think I'm feeling it.  I am feeling stressed. I am feeling the heavy weight of finality on my heart. I'm feeling all the questions that came up when we were deciding to buy it. When Eli was younger he would react so badly when we moved - he hated to be alone anywhere in the new houses for at least 6 months - even if all I did was try to go to the bathroom by myself.  I'm sitting here now, with everyone else asleep, and I'm feeling a little of what he must have felt. 

I'm praying too. I'm praying for many years of happy memories.  Many years of Christmas trees and Easter Egg hunts. Many years of dirt biking and horse riding.  I'm praying that this home will become the safe harbor that my children will always feel welcome at, will always want to come home to.  A place where generations will gather.  I pray that my door will stay open to family, friends, and even strangers who may need to feel the comforts of home. 

And so, on this first night of the rest of my life I sit here in quiet contemplation, resisting sleep, because that will mean that this first night is over and the real work of making this house a home begins.

16 April 2018

10 weeks and I'm pretty sure I'm rocking it

It's easy to feel like a complete and totally failure in this world of tiny squares of perfect lives - but I don't believe in that kind of crap.  Seriously. 

I'm ten weeks into this whole mother of 6 things, and ready to celebrate the little things, like how I made the bed this morning, and last week I taught my kids science. You have no idea. That's big. 

This morning we decided to go skiing, and we were out the door in 20 minutes.  20 minutes, people. 

Of course, we didn't pack a lunch, and so I had to buy $8.50 bowls of soup for the boys, but what's $8.50 between friends, right?

Also, while I swear I'm not hinging my self esteem on it, I can do up my pre-pregnancy pants.  I don't really fit in them, but if I lay down on the bed first, and suck in really tight, I can do them up.  Also big. I attribute it to belly binding, which sounds like torture, and it kind of is, but after 6 babies I've finally put all that relaxin to work, and dang it, it works!  Now if I can only drop 50 lbs, I'll fit into my pre-Silas's-pregnancy pants, and then I will have all sorts of self esteem to brag about.

Also, I've made a few meals. Like real meals with cut up vegetables and cooked meat.  

And I've taken the kids on vacation to the cabin. 

And I've mopped the kitchen floor.  

Rocking it, I tell you.  Rocking it. 

07 April 2018

I should be mopping.

I have kind of, sort of, completely and totally, slacked off over the last 10 weeks, since Edythe was born.  I should be mopping, but for now I'm searching for some inspiration, for me and my kids. 

There are days that I would much rather sit on the couch and knit than clean the kitchen or teach long division. There are days that I dream about sending my big kids to public school and basking in the glory of a tidy home, grocery shopping by myself, and enjoying my little ones without worrying about math equations and grammar instruction.  And to be perfectly honest, I think that on those days, my kids dream about going to public school as well just to escape cranky mom. 

But, I have faith that if I change things up a bit, and put in a little more effort myself, that I can change the way that things have been going lately and return to loving what I do. 

nothing will work || for the quote wall downstairs

What do you do to stay motivated?  I need a little ispirationion. 

06 April 2018

Blessing Day - and a truly epic Blessing Gown

On Sunday March 18, 2018 Jared blessed our sweet Edythe Rose at our church.  A baby blessing is a ritual in which men who hold the Priesthood gather in a circle around a baby, and in Edythe's case, her father, pronounces her name for the records of the church, and provides a blessing for her spiritual and physical welfare. I love to see my babies, surrounded and held up by righteous men, while being blessed with a wonderful life. Edythe was surrounded by her dad, most of her uncles, her grandfathers, and a close friend.  I hope that as she grows up she knows that these strong, worthy men of God will continue to support her and that she can go any one of them if she ever needs them. 

No pictures are taken of the actual blessing, but we definitely took a few afterward.  You see, the dress she was wearing is truly epic.  It embodies 10 years of dreaming of a girl.  I started crocheting this beauty when I was pregnant with Eli, and didn't finish it until after I had Atticus.  I worked on it every time I got pregnant, and stopped once I had another boy.  While I would have been perfectly happy to have to knit up another something for another boy, it was sure nice to see it on a little girl of my own. 

 All of my lovelies.  Aren't they adorable!?

My biggest and my littlest.  Evy is lucky to have a wonderful older sister, who has shown her just how to be a good big sister, herself. She is absolutely thrilled to have a baby sister, also. 

And the boy's, who it's obvious completely adore this little nugget.

My mom and I.  I'm wearing a necklace that my Grandma Jackson (Edythe) gave me at my university graduation. It's an Egyptian cartouche with "Edythe" on it in hieroglyphs. She would love to know that she has a namesake.

And 4 generations of Jared's family, his mom and Granny. Can I say how stinking lucky I am to have married into such a family!

Okay, and just a few more of Edythe and the dress, because seriously, 10 years. 

05 April 2018

Newborn Photos

Edythe is almost 10 weeks old!  How did that happen?!?  Seriously. I luckily have a very talented sister who was willing to take pictures, so that I could remember the fleeting newborn stage forever! And let's be honest, with my kids, the newborn stage is truly fleeting - according to my trusty bathroom scale, Edythe is 17 lbs - 10 lbs up from her birth weight!

The declaration has been made, quite unequivocally so, that I am never going to go through pregnancy or labour ever again - but when I look at these pictures of sweet tiny Edythe, it is easy to question my resolve. Am I seriously ready to never hold a newborn again, to never smell that sweet newborn smell again, to never dress another baby in the clothes that have been worn by all my newborns since Eli?  Well, I'm not resolved enough to get rid of all those clothes just yet, that's for sure.

These pictures were taken on day 2. I love every single one of them! If they don't make your uterus ache (for those of you with a uterus), you are probably a heartless, broken mess.

31 March 2018

An anniversary of sorts

I shared this on my Instagram, but wanted to put it here, with my other thoughts and memories about Israel.  

In my heart there is a place where both joy and grief collide - and I've spent the last 8 weeks trying to figure out how to reconcile the two. 

Yesterday marked what would have been our stillborn baby Israel's first birthday, had he lived.

But, if he had lived, Edythe would not.

In the weeks after Israel died I wondered if I would ever not feel the pain. Now, I honestly find it hard to even remember that sorrow that was so immense. 

Until a song plays on the radio that makes me think of Israel. Or I fumble when people ask me how many boys I have, and I have to awkwardly explain that I've had 5, but only have 4. Or when I go through the bins of boy clothes to pull out what will work for Edythe, and realize that the clothes might have been worn once more, but will never be. Or when I'm scrolling through old pictures and see ones of his lifeless body or his tiny casket. 

Israel's death does not consume me or define me, but it definitely is part of me. 

But then there is Edythe, in all her glorious loveliness. Her pregnancy was an emotional battle: everyday that I remained pregnant felt like a victory. Her birth was the answer to countless prayers, and her life is a healing salve to my heart. I wouldn't want to live in a world without her in it. 

And therein lies the struggle - how do I wish that Israel had lived while being so joyful that Edythe does? I love them both with all my heart, knowing that I could never have held them both. 

So, today I will put aside the confusion and instead hold a space in my heart for both Israel and Edythe, as that's the only place they can both exist, where I can love them both the same, with everything I have in me. 

03 March 2018

The Home Waterbirth Story of Edythe Rose

Every woman's birth story is different, and for me, having given birth to 6 babies, I can say the same of each of my births. I've experienced everything from a cesarean section to a beautiful home waterbirth, to a stillborn delivery of my 20 week gestation son. And I've even gone through the equally difficult labour of bringing a child home through adoption.

I suppose it was foolish of me to think that the birth of my sweet Edythe Rose would be any less eventful than any other.  Still, leading up to her due date, February 11, I gave little thought to the birth process, or even to the logistics of a homebirth - after all, I'd done it all before, right? To be honest though, it was probably more of a mind block than anything - because despite some wonderful birth experiences, the traumatic ones certainly leave a more lasting impression. Her pregnancy had been relatively uneventful - from a clinical standpoint.  But, from an emotional place, it had been pretty terrible. I spent the first 20 weeks worried at every moment that my baby was going to die. Every twinge of pain, or reminder of Israel, sent me running for my doppler to check the heart beat.  After about 20 weeks I was blessed to be able to feel her move consistently, so the doppler was used less, but still, always by my side.

On the evening of January 25th I had no expectation of having the baby any time soon.  In fact, I completely assumed that I would go at least to my due date, if not beyond, and I was totally okay with that.  That day my dad had offered to drive my kids into the city for a full day Forest School program they participate in, and my plan was to be totally productive at home - but I ended up just sitting around knitting and relaxing, which turned out to be exactly what I needed.  The kids and Jared all came home and we had dinner together and got ready for bed as usual.  Because of the severe hip pain I'd been having, I had been sleeping on the couch for several weeks, so at about 11 pm Jared kissed me goodnight and headed up to our bedroom, and I hunkered down on the couch.

I wasn't quite asleep yet, just in the place between wake and sleep, when I suddenly felt the unmistakable pop and gush that was my water breaking.  I started quiet yelling for Jared - you know the one you do when you don't want to really yell, but you need to be heard?  "Jared. Jared!  JARED!!!"  Finally he woke and groggily got up.  I yelled, "Bring me a towel!"  I had quickly tucked a blanket under me, but didn't want to stand up without a towel to absorb the certain gush that would follow. Once Jared realized the reason I'd so abruptly awoken him, and we sat in shock that we did not have 2 1/2 more weeks to prepare for a baby, he sprang to action fairly quickly.

The first thing we did was call our midwives.  During the homebirths of Atticus and Machen I'd refused to call them until I was basically ready to push the boys out, but this time two things were different:
1. We now live out in the country, 45 minutes from the city. I knew I had to give them a little heads up if I wanted them to get there.
2. Even though my water had only just broken, the only other experiences I'd had with my water breaking before labour had begun were Eli's birth, which ended up in a c-section at 35 weeks, and Israel's stillbirth.  With these experiences replaying in my mind, I needed the reassurance of my midwives that this time would not be like those times, which, of course, they gave me.

So, with that being done, Jared headed over to my parents' house, who live next door, and whose house we were actually planning on delivering the baby at, to set up the birth tub and such, while I tried to calm my nerves at our house and get some rest while I waited for contractions to start (oh, and frantically texting all my sisters to tell them that I was in labour!) I was excited to finally meet the little one I'd been carrying for 38 weeks, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit the amount of fear I felt: at one end of the scale, just the regular fear of labour and the pain that accompanies it, and at the other end, fear that my baby would die, like Israel did, just a year before. Sleep, therefore, did not come easily, as I lay there sorting through all those emotions, and constantly taking note of every kick and movement I felt within.

After a fitful sleep, with inconsistent and not very strong contractions all night long,but thankfully all sorts of movement from the baby, I woke up discouraged, and a little worried that I was going to do a do-over of Eli's birth. I texted this to my midwife, Wendy:
"Inconsistent contractions. Not terribly strong, but stronger that BHs. Baby's moving lots, still. A little blood in my fluid. Still leaking lots, but the gushers seem to have subsided."

I spent the morning with my family, taking walks and eating good food, but by noon what little contractions I'd been having had stopped completely, and I didn't have another before 4 pm when we decided to go to the hospital to check things out. The kids all went to my sister Alice's house for the night. At the hospital they monitored baby - who was doing just fine - and did a quick ultrasound to check the baby's position - also fine. And so, we went home, hoping once again that labour would begin before too long (after we stopped at Wendy's for a Spicy Chicken dinner!)  We made a date to meet at the hospital the next morning at 9 am for an induction if nothing happened over night, and to try harder to get things going naturally.

At home at 9 pm, with an electric pump in hand, I got to work.  Almost immediately upon starting to pump, contractions picked up.  And they were strong!  So, I'd pump, pump, pump, and then sit there and contract for an hour or so. But, slowly they would slow down, and get less intense, so I'd hook up to the pump again, and they would pick up. It was exhausting, and it was in the middle of the night, and I hadn't really slept the night before either, and all I wanted to do was sleep, but I knew that I had to keep going. At one point contractions were strong enough, and I was vocalizing loud enough, that I woke Jared up. He came down to me, contracting, and frustrated with my body, and he said, "Well, I think we should just go to sleep and deal with it in the morning."  Wouldn't that be nice if you could just go to bed and deal with labour in the morning...

By about 3:30 am, with constant pumping to keep contractions going we called the midwives, and they agreed it was time for them to come out.  We gathered what we needed from my house and headed up to my mom's.  My sister, Chloe, came over to take pictures, and my dad left to take care of her kids. By 4 am we were there with my 2 midwives, Wendy and Carol, my mom and sister, and I was already totally exhausted.

As things do in labour, the timing is all messed up in my head. At some point they checked me, and I was only 6 cm.  I was pissed (really, that's the only way to describe it.) I had been contracting HARD for HOURS, and I was only 6 cm!  As long as I was pumping, the contractions would keep up, but the contractions were so hard, like transition hard, and I hated every minute of it.  What I really wanted was to go to the hospital and have an epidural and sleep and just get the whole thing over with - except for the fact that I hate hopsitals, and doctors, and 40 minute drives to hospitals when I'm in labour.  So, at home I stayed, but not without lots of complaint, and a few expletives to boot.

I so desperately wanted to be in the birth pool, but when I'd get in, while it felt like heaven, the contractions would stop.  And so the midwives would pull me out, I'd hook up again to the pump, get contractions going strong, only to get back in the pool and have them stop again.  It was so frustrating, and I honestly just kept thinking, "If this is going to end up with me in the OR with a cesarean, lets just cut to the chase and go to the hospital right now. Why am I suffering through this?!"  But, the midwives remained optimistic (annoyingly so, if you would have asked me in the moment) that all was fine, and that if we could just keep things going that we would have the baby soon.  They suggested I get dressed and go for a walk - outside - something I had no interest, whatsoever in doing (it was -14 degrees Celsius out!)  So, instead, I walked the stairs, and around the house.  While I moved, contractions kept coming, and while I pumped, they came even harder.  But still, I was not progressing as fast as I felt like I should.  I was sure I'd gone through transition twice already, but I really hadn't, and I just needed a nap!

At some point the discussion was had that if we were going to go to the hospital we needed to make a decision, considering the 45 minute drive. It was after 9, because earlier I heard Wendy call the hospital to tell them we wouldn't be coming in for the induction at 9, but I don't know exactly what time it was.  I was convinced to try one more time to get things moving, to pump consistently, to stay out of the pool, and to have this baby soon.  So, that's what we did. I lay on my side on the couch and pumped. I hated every minute of it, and every time a contraction would start I'd pull the darn thing off, only to have the Carol pass it to me again immediately after.  I begged to get back in the pool, but was told no because we needed to keep things moving.  It felt like forever, but it mustn't have been too long.  Finally my Carol said I could get into the pool if I'd go have a few contractions on the toilet.  I HATE having contractions on the toilet. I think with both Tuck and Mac's labours I went through transition on the toilet. Well, that remained consistent. I went to the bathroom, had three MAJOR contractions right on top of each other that almost ripped me in half, and that was that.  I got in the pool, and it was go time - no more pumping, no more stalling, no more hope of an epidural and a nap.

In the pool the contractions were strong, but so much better than on the couch or the toilet.  Jared held me under my arms while falling asleep himself.  I was so, so tired.  Between contractions I just cried that I wanted to sleep.  At some point I was so frantic that I started hyperventilating, which caused my hands to cramp up really strange, and shake, which freaked me out and made me even more frantic.  Here I was, supposed to push out a baby, and I couldn't control my own hands. At some point Carol checked me in the water to see if there was a lip there that she could push away, but all was fine.  She told me that it would all be over, and all I needed to do was to push the baby out. But, I was waiting for the urge to push: the primal feeling that would take over my body and expel the baby itself.  I was too tired to do it myself.  Many contractions went by, with me crying that I couldn't do it, and Carol telling me I could. I could feel the top of her head easily in me, but just couldn't find the energy to push her our. Finally it occurred to me, that just like everything else in this labour, my body wasn't going to do it on it's own, and I was just going to have to help it along, or be in labour FOREVER, which wasn't really a viable option. So I pushed.  I think it only took two or three contractions to get her out once I decided to do it, but it felt like the hardest thing I'd ever done.  I was just so tired, and my hands were still cramped and shaking, and I was still a little disappointed that I couldn't have that epidural. But I pushed, and out she came. It was 11:40 am. So, while it had been a very long 36 hours, I really had only been in active, hard labour for about 2 - the rest was spent trying hard to get there. 

We didn't have an ultrasound during our pregnancy, and didn't know what we were having. After already having 5 boys, I was pretty sure we were having another.  As the baby came out, I yelled, "Here he comes!" But, I pulled the baby up, and to everyone's surprise, HE was actually a SHE!!!  Everyone was so excited - my mom was crying, Jared was giddy -  but to be honest, I was so tired, all I could think about was taking a nap, and that I was relieved that we didn't have to come up with another boy name (we'd had Edythe picked out since we were pregnant with our first).

It didn't take long for the cord to stop pulsing.  We all just sat and admired her while we waited.  The midwives gave me a dose of oxytocin to help along the placenta delivery and uterine contractions, something I didn't take after my other homebirths, but was willing to do considering the distance to the hospital in the case that something might have happened. I think, due to that, I delivered my placenta much faster and easier than I had in the past.  We collected it in a bowl so that I could have it encapsulated.

I got out of the pool as soon as the placenta was delivered and went with the baby into the bedroom. Very shortly after we got in there Alice brought my kids over to meet their new baby sister. They were all surprised, and very excited. 

It was Silas's turn to cut the cord (Eli had cut Atticus's, and Evy had cut Machen's), but he didn't want to, and neither did Atticus, so Jared cut it. Carol then checked the baby and me, to make sure all was well. I didn't tear a bit. Then she examined the placenta, showing it to the kids and explaining how amazing it is. Then the kids helped weight and measure Edythe.  She weighed in at only 6 lbs 12 oz and was 21 inches long.

She wasn't (and still isn't) the strongest nurser, I think because she was so tiny compared to me, but she did latch on and get some milk right away in the pool, and again on the bed. After all that pumping, I was primed and ready to go, so even with a weak latch, she got lots of colostrum right off the bat.

 At some point someone brought me something to eat, and a big glass of orange juice to drink, and once all the business had been taken care of Edythe was passed around for everyone to admire.  It was obvious that she was the star of the show! And finally, once everyone had gotten enough, they left the room, and I finally got to sleep!


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