Sunday, 27 January 2013

Baby 5: Week 24

How Far Along: 24 Weeks (16 weeks to go!)

How I'm Feeling: I'm feeling good! A little tired for general kick related night-time hijinks (what's up almost 4 year old??? Why all the waking at night, kiddo?), but surprisingly energetic. I was thinking back to not too many weeks ago, when all I wanted to do was sleep. Sleep and eat a little, and sleep some more. I'm finding eating isn't the highest on my list (I'm still eating, just not in all-day snack mode), nor is sleeping (except at night, obviously). During the day I'm up and buzzing about. The TV has been turned off all day for 4 days, and I've been baking muffins, playing with the kids, and simply enjoying them!

What I'm Thinking: My brain has been working double time. We got the results of our ultrasound on Friday, and everything was great. Apparently this baby is a very energetic, healthy baby growing nicely (not unlike my waist-line). We also decided for the first time to find out the gender, and have been spending the last few days passing names back and forth. We were SO sure we were having a girl that we had a perfectly beautiful girl's name picked, so when our doctor said this little munchkin will be our third BOYYYYYYYYYYY, we were stumped. We had a name, but the second it became so real that this is in fact a boy, we ditched it. We have a new name in mind, but we'll be praying hard about it before we make anything official.
What I've Done This Week: Besides baking, I also went nuts cleaning in the kitchen. It's not pristine by any stretch of the word, but as of right now there are no dirty dishes. Rejoice! This shouldn't be a big deal, but it totally is. I've also been busy with things at Church, like our Moms' group, the Welcoming Committee, Baptism Formation sessions, and some odds and sods. I've also gotten a pretty cool gig transcribing some audio files of my parish priest's talks down at a conference. He's writing a book based on some work he's done giving presentations on the New Evangelization in the Catholic Church. I've been doing that in the quiet times and enjoying it all.
What I Hope To Do Next Week: I hope to finish the bulk of my transcription, and then, (ha, how many times have I said this?) clean up baby boy's bedroom so we can lay the flooring. We're so close to getting it done, but as that room has become a kind of a drop zone it'll take some doing.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Baby 5: Week 23

How Far Along: 23 Weeks and 3 days (16 weeks and 4 days to go! I'm quite behind this week! Oops!)

How I'm Feeling: The cold is really bugging me these days. I'm finding my skin especially dry these days so the frosty chill of a Canadian winter is wreaking havoc on my skin (not to mention my hair, but that's not exactly a crowning glory of mine at the best of times, so mehn). I've also had some itchiness where my stretchmarks are getting their own stretchmarks. Laugh all you want friends, but by the fifth baby the once moderate length and width of my first stretchmarks (which already look like a young Spiderman's elementary school project) have been far eclipsed by the supernova of stretchmarks that come with each new pregnancy. I wonder if Michelle Duggar has any unstretched skin left on her stomach after so many pregnancies... But I digress. On the up side, with only moderate amounts of caffeine, I am much more alert and full of energy. I know the kids are appreciating this upswing of energy. I'm sure the two oldest are very wary by now of this brief spurt of energy, as at least the oldest will remember the down swing brought on by third trimester sleepiness. Enjoy it while you can, kiddos. Daily art projects and monster truck dinky races for all!
What I'm Thinking: I've been having lots of wacky and funny pregnancy dreams lately, which have been giving me a laugh during the day. I'm not sure I can even explain half of them as they make no sense to me anyway. Last night I dreamt that I took a pilgrimage to Rome (Rome=Home, as my German friend often reminds me) with my family. We were there to have the Pope baptise this new baby (who was, by the way, born but had neither name nor gender). Apparently in my dreams I have access to the Pope, which is pretty cool and random. For a somewhat normal pretext (especially considering my parish priest is currently in the Holy City, and tweeted some great pictures from St. Peter's square), my dream quickly descended into wacky land. Let's just say it involved one of those wacky British sitcom style chase scenes where people are running out of different rooms in a long hallway (which was, by the way, the Papal Apartments in my dream). Swiss guards, toddlers, a stray donkey. You know, the usual. So yeah, pregnancy brain is hilarious when I'm asleep.
What I've Done This Week: This week was our Parish's Stewardship of Talent Fair, so I was pretty busy with getting ready for that. We also celebrated my wonderful husband's 30th birthday. All of this means that it looks like a series of bombs have gone off in my house. It was totally worth it for the sake of all the fun we had! We also got to meet my friend's 2 week old baby boy. He was totally adorable. It's a good thing I'm already pregnant, because for real my ovaries were clenching with new baby love!
What I Hope To Do Next Week: I'm kind of in survival mode right now. If I achieve anything, I will give myself a high five. We have a doctor's appointment on Friday and we'll hear the results of our 20 week ultrasound. That we haven't got an ominous phone call before now means that everything is fine, but I will be relieved when we hear all the details. We also have the chance to find out our baby's gender. We've never had the option to find out for free before, so we will see what we decide!

Thursday, 17 January 2013

A Franciscan Heart in a Material World

I am part of the Madonna generation. And know, I don't mean Mary. I mean the once ubiquitous popstar, whose famous song "Material Girl" still gets regular play on the radio. In my mind, her music was synonymous with the excess of materialism and general love of excess that pervaded the 80s and early 90s. We could do what we wanted, have what we wanted, and there was no such thing as too much stuff. I was just a kid during the most of this time, but as a kid I was on the receiving end of a certain amount of vicarious excess. Our parents generation had grown up on simple stuffed toys, Barbies that you could sew clothes for rather than buy, and the reality that the ingenuity of a well fed imagination was more valuable than anything. When we hear songs about Christmas days of the past, there's no talk about Cabbage patch, Polly Pocket, Thomas the Train, or Furbies. Even in the world of claymation, all the kids wanted was a dolly, a train, or a scooter. Pretty plausible stuff for Santa and his hard working elves to make with rudimentary tools. Flash forward to my childhood (and every Christmas since) and you'll have no problem finding video of otherwise reasonable people knocking down strangers for some battery operated monstrosity that they will grow tired of only 24 hours before their kids do. We are in the material age. There's no denying it.

I confess even my family isn't immune to it all. This past Christmas I saw evidence in the strewn wrapping paper on the floor that while the kids didn't expect much (a Barbie or two, some Cars dinkies, and some slippers were the requests), they were inundated with so much stuff they didn't know what to do. Now almost  month later the favourites have emerged, and not surprisingly it's what they asked for. Baby girl is drawn to books and simple wooden toys. Big girl wants to play with the Barbies. The boys spend all day playing with their Cars dinkies. Everything else is background noise and has already fallen to the bottom of the toy pile (and yes, it's a pile). Partly it's because they're the only little kids in the family on both sides (they have a preteen cousin who is well beyond the trendy toy age, and has moved on to music and art. Well done!). This lends itself to a certain amount of spoiling from one particular set of Grandparents *coughmyMomcough* who seem to have 20 years of pent of Christmas shopping they unleash under our tree every year since we've had kids (and let's be fair, any other said Grandmother sees something she thinks would please the kids). It comes from an honest desire to express love and to leave a lasting impression on the kids. My fear is that the impression it's giving isn't of love, but of entitlement and privilege. They are young enough that they don't have an expectation for how many gifts they have, or the financial value they can place on the stack of gifts they receive, but it's only a matter of time before their real needs get crowded around by the wants society teaches them are essential.

So what do we do? Do we roll over and accept the materialism of this world? For myself and my family, I say no. The riches of this world are worthless when I think about what their hearts really needs. I've learned over the years, that what my heart needs is something I can't find on the shelves at Walmart. I need God. The only one who will feed my soul. The same way that pair of shoes will give me only a moment of joy, I know that the pile of presents under the tree will give a momentary thrill before leaving their hearts more empty. If I could give my children any gift at Christmas, their birthdays, and every other day of the year, it would be a Franciscan heart.

For me, a Franciscan heart is one that relies on Providence. It is a heart that gives everything to God, even our suffering, with joy and trust that even if we can't see it, God is making good of our lives. A Franciscan heart rejoices in the moments of grace, and turns to God for comfort when this world strikes us down. It is a heart that hungers for the love of God and seeks to share that same love with everyone else. If I can have a Franciscan heart, I will not be ashamed to accept charity, but also be compelled to give everything I have to a stranger in need. I will work hard to provide for my family, but trust that when I am struggling to make ends meet, God will teach us to need less, and send those with a heart for the Spirit to answer our prayers before we know to pray them. Even if to others we appear little or poor, if God will teach me how, I want to give my children a Franciscan heart rather than any other material thing the world says they need. That is a gift that they can take with them throughout this life, and into the next.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Baby 5: Week 22

How Far Along: 22 Weeks (18 weeks to go!)

How I'm Feeling: I'm much better than I was last week. I'm starting to really notice the baby moving all the time. If I sit very still, and the baby kicks very hard, my husband has been able to feel a few flutters too! I'm also starting to feel a little overinflated in the front, which is fun. I keep forgetting I have a bit of a belly and have started knocking my gut into things. It's also getting a little tougher to lean over the sink to do dishes. Small sacrifices!

What I'm Thinking: I've been really wrapped up in how blessed our family is this week. Already people have started to ask if I'll have help when the new baby arrives. I wonder if they mean an older relative, or if I'll hire a Nanny. Either way, the answer is no. Excluding a day or so after the baby is born, this Mama will be flying solo right from the start. Like I have for pretty much every baby (okay, my Mom stayed off work for a week to help me when our oldest was born, but she used that time to stay in her own bed and nap. Sorry Mom, I love you, but that's not helpful at all. haha). I figure the faster I get into the thick of things, the easier it will be. I love the shock when I say that it'll be just me at home all day. I guess my perspective is that if I didn't feel up to the work of all these kids, I would have stopped getting pregnant a few kids ago. So far so good! Sure, there are days I want to hide in my bedroom eating cheetos under the covers while nursing a cup of coffee, but I make it through!
What I've Done This Week:  We took down our tree and other Christmas decorations this week. The kids took the ornaments off the tree and helped me box them, then helped me take apart our artificial tree (I'm allergic to most real trees when in confined spaces, please don't judge. haha). I also spent a few days making lots of phone calls for the parish Welcome Committee. What a fun gig! I love chatting up the new families registering in our parish! I only get the young families with small kids, and I've had 6 in the past month. We must be doing something right the way people are flocking to us! I also dropped off quite a few meals to our friends who had their new baby boy last week. What a great feel to finally be able to return the favour they gave us of many cooked meals when our youngest was born, as well as organising it so other friends gave us cooked meals too.
What I Hope To Do Next Week: I still have some tidying to do around the house now that Christmas is officially over. I have my fingers in a few other pies as well, so besides just growing a baby and keeping 4 little ones happy, I'll be a busy woman!

Friday, 11 January 2013

Praise for Dads

A friend of mine just had her third baby. (Yayyyyyy! Congrats Mama!) Her husband brought their two older kids to Church while she stayed home to rest (since their baby was born 2 days before) and while I was busy trying to congratulate the new Papa, I overhead a comment that made me want to lose my mind. While patting him on the back, an older gentlemen repeated more than once his congratulations, while reminding the new Dad, who was joyfully caring for his two older children solo, that he shouldn't really be congratulated on the birth as he had done NOTHING. I still have steam pouring out of my ears over this comment. I know for a fact that if my friend had been there, she would have sung the praises of her wonderful husband, but as she wasn't there he, cool as a cucumber, smiled very modestly and praised his wife for her excellence in all things.

So why am I, a woman who has personally pushed out 4 children, so upset? This couple's labour experience is %100 not my business, but I find the attitude that men have no job or place in the delivery room (or if you're super cool and do homebirths, in the living room!) so archaic and sexist. Yes, our husbands will never have to push a baby out their business, but that's okay, because they're not built to do that. Although my husband has said more than once that he would gladly take the pain rather than watch me fight through it. But that's not his job during labour. His job during labour is to stand by me, and be my rock. And he is. I have no idea how I would have survived my 4th labour without an epidural if he wasn't next to me, holding my hand, encouraging and empowering me, praying with me, and doing pretty much any reasonable thing I asked him quickly and with joy. The heart of service my husband shows me while I'm giving birth is nothing less than saintly.  Beforehand, he also did every thing he could to learn about my needs and desires for labour, so that when I was in la la land during contractions, he could be my advocate. Nobody touched me let alone gave me an intervention without having to go through him. The doctors would have had a better chance doing something he knew I wouldn't have wanted if they had asked a hungry tiger while wearing bloody zebra steaks for coats.

Gone are the days of men puffing cigars in the waiting room while waiting for doctors to let them know how their wives fared. Fathers of this generation know all the lingo for labour, have educated themselves on what the mothers of their children want, and are there in the delivery room doing all they can to make sure all she has to worry about is getting through the next contraction or push. By the time we're done having kids, my Husband will be able to write a PhD thesis about labour, and give practical courses on massage therapy and how to scare the crap out of medical staff who don't show respect. And let's not forget that in the case of 2nd, 3rd, or 4th siblings, Dads go home after no sleep and an emotional roller coaster wilder than the wildest theme park, and get back to the business of parenting while waiting for Mum and the new baby to be released from the hospital. While some would call that "babysitting" (and if you do in front of me, I apologise for the fact that I may accidentally punch you in the throat), I call that real parenting.

Anyone who knows the real men, the real Dads of this generation and how hard they work for the women they love wouldn't dare say that they don't do anything during labour and delivery or afterwards. These are modest good men not looking for any praise, but that doesn't mean taking a swipe at their dignity and contribution to the life of their family is right. It's absolutely shameful that anyone should assume they have to right to even joke like that with the Dads of our generation. Men who would think to say that men like my husband or my friend's husband did NOTHING during labour, have a lot to learn about what it means to be a real man in this day and age.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Baby 5: Week 21

How Far Along: 21 Weeks and 2 days (18 weeks and 5 days to go!)

How I'm Feeling: A little off today. I had kind of a crazy day yesterday. As you may have noticed if you live in the same hemisphere as me, it's winter. Now that Christmas is over, we've finally got some real stick to the ground snow. How does this apply to me as a preggo? Well for one, I hate the cold and am usually ridiculously under prepared for it. I have everything and then some for the kids, but for some reason can't keep a pair of gloves to save my life. And don't get me started on hats. Anyway, there was a snow fall two nights ago, and they still haven't cleared up the sidewalks, so when I walked to Church pushing the tandem stroller I was pushing through tiny snow banks most of the way there while my nuckles and ears got quite frozen. After I got home from our very worthwhile trek to see Jesus and have some fellowship with our Parents & Tots group, I spent the rest of yesterday feeling very tired, cranky, and ridiculously tense. My stomach was tight and aching. Not to mention my back. I can fully admit my back would've been sore from pushing a double stroller uphill on unshovelled sidewalks even if I wasn't pregnant, but with the weirdly tight stomach, I spent the rest of the day feeling so awful. I was freaking out. Today I'm tired, but the tenseness in my stomach is just a mild sense that I clearly overdid it.

What I'm Thinking: I'm mostly thinking that I need to be less crazy. I should have taken the bus both ways, and taken my time getting up the hill at the end of the day. I'm also VERY excited that I can now regularly feel this tiny baby working on some pretty sweet kung fu moves in my belly. My stress from yesterday melts away when I feel my little baby kicking and punching. Besides that, we've had a real run in with Providence. Yesterday, we had two beautiful moments that were reminders of how much God loves our little family, and how he uses those with good hearts to bless us. I feel so undeserving of the amount of love and caring God lavishes on us, and so much gratitude for those who answer the call in their heart to be ministers of grace and mercy to us.

What I've Done This Week:  I've been working on cleaning up after Christmas. I feel like every time I finish the kitchen, I realise I need to clean the livingroom, then the kitchen, then the livingroom, etc. Despite that I manage to go through the kids toys to sort out ones to give away. I'm trying to be ruthless. With 4 kids out and one on the way, we're starting to look like a derelict toy store.

What I Hope To Do Next Week: Dear friends of ours just welcomed their third baby, so my plan is to speak this next week getting some meals ready for them and then out to their house. I love cooking for other people, so I'm going to use it as some personal therapy after the day I had yesterday.