Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Healthy Berry Smoothie

Isabel loved today's snack time smoothie so much that I thought I'd share the easy peasy "recipe" with you all:

A couple of handfuls of frozen berries

1 whole spotty banana

1 handful of organic baby greens

Organic unsweetened almond milk (amount depends on desired consistency)

Blend thoroughly & enjoy!

Prodromal Labor? Better known as False Labor

It is almost midnight on Friday night (Oct 12...but I won't be publishing this until next week) and I am so exhausted and frustrated. I should probably be in bed but I am putting it off for as long as possible...I'm slightly afraid of what tomorrow has in store for me.
See, today I am 31 weeks & 4 days along in my pregnancy with Baby Mistletoe (#6). And it was just the Perfect Storm: Antonio took Christian to work, after I assured Christian that Mahri and I wouldn't need his help with Isabel or the boys. I told him that Isabel has been so sweet lately & we'd be fine. HA!

Oh. And did I mention that they were going to be on a job site in which they wouldn't be able to answer the phone should I be tempted to call. But I felt quite certain that one day of not being able to reach them or have Christian here to help would be no big deal.

No. Big. Deal.

It was mid-morning when the contractions started. I ignored them for awhile but couldn't help but notice that they were pretty strong. They weren't hurting...but some were strong enough that they were making my eyes water. After a couple of hours, I figured I'd just text Christine (my midwife) and let her know. I figured the contractions would fade away fairly shortly.

She recommended that I drink some CALM (calcium & magnesium supplement) as well as plenty of water to hydrate myself and see if they would go away.

Mind you, during all of this, Isabel is screaming like a banshee. She is angry and pissed off about EVERYTHING. She wants nothing to eat...but she wants you to offer her everything in the house to eat anyways. While she screams. She shrieks because her baby doll is on the floor. Because the blanket is wrinkled. Because the wrong sibling tried to help her up when she flung herself on the ground. She was a child possessed. 

Austin & Levi were bouncing off the walls. Yelling and jumping and just being rowdy boys. I beg them to please go out and play. So they take Isabel to play in the yard with them but I can hear them all outside bickering and arguing with Mahri as she tried to watch them. So she comes inside to help me.

Contractions keep coming. No increase in intensity. Kind of regular but not really; lasting about a minute each but spaced out (every 10-12 mins or so....sometimes happening every 5 mins. It was totally random). I tried drinking water. Eating. Going to the bathroom. Walking around the house. Nothing helped.

I tried to take a nap...for maybe 30-40 mins..but contractions kept waking me up.

I wanted to take a hot relaxing shower....but did I mention that during the storm the other day, it flooded our crawl space and soaked the water heater, rendering it Out Of Service. Antonio had been working on it on Thursday night (til almost 1 am) but couldn't get it working. He was going to work on it when he got home tonight. At least that was his plan.

So no warm steamy relaxing shower for me.

At about 6 pm, I finally am able to get ahold of Christian. But he says they are busy and can't come home just yet. But soon. I tell him not to mention anything to Antonio yet because I don't want him to hurry and do sloppy work.

An hour later and they still haven't left the job site.

I break down and just cover my face and start sobbing. Like, really ugly crying. Not from the pain but from the stress and exhaustion. The kids just backed slowly out of the room. Mommy has definitely lost it.

Another half hour and the guys are still not on their way home.

They finally get home a little after 9 pm. They drop off dinner and Antonio says that he has to go back to the job site because he left his coat there. Ugh! I think I may have cried again.

Like I said, it is now midnight. The contractions are still coming but they seem further apart and weaker.

As much as I am reluctant to say it...I think prodromal labor has started. That is pre-labor. The precursor to early labor. The kind of labor that feels totally real...that sends hundreds of excited moms to the hospital, thinking that "this is it!!!" .....but it's not It. It's the same labor responsible for countless cases of induced labor....see, moms show up at the hospital, seemingly in labor....contractions are pretty regular...but they are barely dilated....so doctors figure (wrongly) that their labors have "stalled". They must need some help! Start the pitocin! Let's get this show on the road!

But since I am only 31 weeks, no losing of even part of my mucus plug, no increase in contraction intensity.... Unless anything major changes, I'm chalking this up to good ol' prodromal labor, folks.

Wish me luck!!

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Life & Pregnancy Updates | Baby Number 6 | Weeks 27-30 | Baby Mistletoe

I got a new haircut!! About 12" cut off! Do you like it?! I love it!!

Goodness gracious! Time is seriously flying by and I swear I have no idea HOW I am almost at the finish line already!

And because I am so super organized, I am writing this at the tail-end of my 30th week, so I'm going to do my best to remember all that's been going on over the last few weeks. I apologize if this post ends up being kind of choppy...kids keep interrupting me every 30 seconds and I have a feeling they're going to continue doing it until I just give up and stop writing for the day... ::sigh::

Baby Mistletoe has been so super active...kicking and punching up a storm!

My midwife, Christine came at the end of my 28th week for my first 3rd trimester prenatal visit. Everything went great! My blood pressure was still healthy and low: 90/64

My weight did end up rising...I think it's a combination of our trip to Ohio (not much walking around or moving about on my end) and my exhaustion has resulted in a whole lot of eating out. When I weighed myself on September 21, I weighed in at 187... I had gained FOUR pounds since my last prenatal visit!! What?!!

But fast forward to October 6th (nearing the end of my 30th week) and I had actually lost half of a pound. (I always weigh myself on the same scale at my chiropractor's office, so I'm pretty sure everything is accurate) I have been making an effort to cook more at home and have been drinking more water over the last week, so I'm thinking that's the reason.

I'm still not having too much of an appetite but I do tend to eat more when I'm stressed. I have been developing quite a fondness for pretzel rods. Weird, right? And I have really been wanting to visit a noodle house for ramen noodles. I've never been to one but it sounds sooooo good!

My bladder is seemingly smaller than ever. I got up, like, 5 times the other night to pee! Grrr!

Braxton Hicks contractions really amped up at the beginning of 30 weeks. Mahri and Antonio have both commented on it, sometimes worriedly asking if I'm okay. When I assure them that I am, I ask why they thought something was wrong and they both told me that my breathing changed and I had temporarily zoned out. This is all totally normal for me when I'm about 2 months away from delivering. Just my body getting ready for the big day!

My asthma has been acting up and I need to take Advair on a fairly regular/daily basis. And I actually had to go up to the prescribed twice a day here lately because my neighbor has been burning crap in his backyard over the last couple of weeks and it is really affecting my lungs, unfortunately. I really hate taking medicines, even my asthma medicine, so I try to limit taking any. So while I am prescribed to take it twice a day, when I'm not pregnant (or not having breathing difficulties), I can get away with just taking a dose every once in awhile when I feel my lungs beginning to tighten up. I actually had one doctor refuse to prescribe the Advair for me at the beginning of my pregnancy because it has been documented to cause problems with the unborn baby. But sometimes it comes down to Pros vs Cons....and I obviously have to breathe, right? So I just use it sparingly whenever needed, when my emergency inhaler just isn't cutting it.

My IBS has begun giving me problems. I'm going to go into a little too much TMI here...but hey, this is real life, right? I have a more uncommon version of IBS. With mine, I will be constipated for weeks at a time...without even realizing it (because life is going on & I don't really have time to sit down and think about when the last time I went was). Then, out of nowhere, I get severe stomach cramping and spend a few days running to the bathroom frequently. When I say "severe", I am not exaggerating. The pain from my labors couldn't even touch the level of pain I reach when I get my IBS stomach pains.

Hmmmm... what else is going on? Well, Isabel has almost completely stopped nursing. She only nurses maybe once every 3 days or so and only for a few seconds. My milk has dried up and so she is mainly just doing it for comfort...usually to go to sleep. She has also developed a fondness for taking off her diaper and running around like a tiny little nudist. (Actually, as I typed that, she ripped off her diaper and proceeded to lift her dress to show everyone what she had done. Little stinker!)

The bigger kids are doing great, too, though they aren't interested in the nudist lifestyle. Levi has a fondness for numbers and loves doing math. Austin is good at math but is more interested in learning to read, which we are working on with the book Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons. Christian has decided that he is going to be making his own Halloween costume this year. He had us take him to Hobby Lobby so that he could buy some burlap, twine and a large needle so that he can begin sewing a horror-themed scarecrow costume. I am so proud of his creativity & motivation! Mahri is researching henna tattoos and is designing her first henna tattoo to give herself. She is a great artist and I know it will turn out beautifully!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Saving Big on Groceries!

You guys. I am a little *too* excited right now.

Okay, so I recently on sung the praises on Favebook of the convenience of using Shipt versus my using Walmart Grocery Pick Up. (Mind you...my ENTIRE bias and frame of mind revolves around the fact that we are a very large family & I am one tired mama)

I especially loved the convenience of them delivering my groceries right to my living room!

But more and more, my Shipt shopper has been reporting back that "the store does not have the requested product"....and I was starting to feel the burn (as work heads into the "slower season") of Shipt charging extra on top of Kroger's already pretty high prices. And the fact that I was usually tipping around $20 a week for delivery. 

It was adding up. 

So today I checked out AmazonFresh & realized that their prices usually beat the Shipt prices! Sometimes by a good margin! And I hear that they have more selection & better substitute options. So I was riding high on knowing I was about to save some major bucks by switching.

But then, as I was peeing for the 10,826th time today (hello, 3rd trimester!!!), a thought I frequently encounter on the toilet re-entered my mind: SHOPPING IN BULK.

As in Costco, Sam's Club, BJ's, etc. We used to have a BJ's membership and a Sam's Club membership....many, many years ago when we were a small family with only 2 kids. Back then, the memberships just weren't worth it. Money was so tight for us back then and I couldn't justify spending $XX on 3 months' worth of groceries, even if it ended up saving me $50 or so. It didn't make sense. We needed to break our money up into smaller payments over those 3 months, even if it meant we'd be spending $10 or so more per week. (Ya'll following me so far?)

Antonio apparently had the same bitter memory because anytime I had mentioned checking out Sam's Club again, he shot my idea right down. Reminding me of the times when boxes and cases of food were just sitting on our shelves for months.

But today, I sat down and ran the numbers. Typing items into Shipt, AmazonFresh AND Sam's Club. (I decided on Sam's because they carry more of the brands we use)

Dude. We are about to save a sh*t ton of money. Like. A lot. 50% more toilet paper (Charmin Mega rolls) at the same price!!! Crackers are half of what I'm paying and I'll get double or triple!!! I'll be saving about $14 on a month of diapers per baby (we have been LOVING Pampers Pure...Isabel rarely gets rashes now and we saw the change immediately). I'll get about 100 oz more Tide for the same price as what I'm paying now! I could go on and on and on with all I'm going to save on....but I'll spare you all the juicy boring details. But I'm thinking that I may just have to start doing grocery haul videos again.... ::huge smile::

What about your family?? How do you save on groceries??

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Are We Making This Too Hard?

           I'm a parent (a mom to be exact).

You might be one, too.

And my question is...are we making this whole parenting thing way harder than it needs to be?
Don't get me wrong: no matter how you slice the Parenthood Pie, it's going to be challenging.
But I'm starting to wonder if we are purposely going the extra mile to add even more layers of difficulty to the whole thing.

But it may not necessarily be all our fault. Let me explain this a little further...

While I'm not exactly a Helicopter Mom, I am with my 5 (soon to be 6) children an extraordinary amount of time, what with homeschooling them. And when I try to give them some "free range"-type time, my husband freaks out that I am not right there on top of them, watching over their shoulders. And beware that one of the younger ones bumps their head or gets a minor injury...because there is going to be the 3rd degree on where I was and why was I not able to stop it from happening.

He worries. I get it. I do.

But I also think that kids need space to learn (especially from mistakes...theirs and others) and grow and to gain confidence in their independence and choices.

But if you pan out the Camera of Life to look at the bigger picture, I'm starting to wonder if the current generations of parents (myself included) are doing many other things to create additional stress and difficulty where there doesn't need to be.

A big part of me thinks that our grandparents and parents were on to something....

"You kids go on outside and play. Don't come home til dinner time/when the streetlights come on."

Having a little drink in the evening to calm the nerves and ease the stress of the day. (Excessive drinking and alcoholism are not what I'm talking about)

"You kids take that fighting outside! I don't want any furniture to break!" (I'm actually known to yell that one at my boys)

Kids riding bikes around the neighborhood to their friends' houses. Very limited access to video games and other electronics.

Simple birthday parties with a little cake, a few kid games and presents. Instead of over planned, über expensive events that break the bank and stress everyone out. Each mom trying to outdo all the other moms.

And I'm telling you...I love Meemaw from Young Sheldon. And when she confessed (with a grin!!) that she gave Sheldon a little bit of cough syrup to calm him down...well, I honestly applauded her. Could I do it myself? Probably not. But it sure sounded a heck of a lot better than listening to irrational temper tantrums and what-have-you.

And I'm in the middle of reading (yeah...it's taking awhile with all of the breaks I have to take) The Glass Castle: A Memoir after watching the movie last night. And while I definitely am shocked/saddened by some of the parents' behavior (no spoiler alerts here...but there were some definite instances that never should have happened)...many of their parenting philosophies are ones I strongly believe in. Even my kids were awed while watching, saying how many of the quotes are things I have said on many occasions, like about how life (and living it) is the best education. 

But nowadays it's all everything-needs-to-be-organic, elaborate birthday parties, Hollywood-worthy maternity & baby pictures, being with your child every minute of every day and doing everything for your child, so that they learn to do nothing on their own...no alcohol, no "bad" vices, just Mommy & her Xanax. Because it can't be bad if a doctor prescribes it, right? ::sarcastic wink::

Ladies, I'm tired. Bone tired. I'd love to be able to get a shower and get all dolled up every day. Or to sit down and read a book like I used to. But it seems like that's looked at like I'm being selfish. Because I'm a stay-at-home mom does that mean that I'm relegated to a life of messy hair, organic Cheerios stuck to my clothes (then again...our food and every day products are chock full of carcinogens that weren't in them 30+ years ago) and stressing that I didn't take my kids to 5,000 extracurricular activities this week? Not to mention the Mommy Guilt that some like to shove down our throats on social media and at play dates.

Grandparents swear that it's so much more enjoyable to be grandparents as opposed to parents. Because you're finally able to enjoy kids being kids while still having your own identity. Don't get me wrong! I love being with my kids every day & being "there" for all of their milestones! I love babywearing and extended breastfeeding. But isn't there a way to successfully incorporate the two?
I wonder. 

What are your thoughts? Are we making this way harder than it needs to be?

Saturday, September 8, 2018

What's Been Going On | Baby & Other Life Stuff | Weeks 22-26

Yep. That's my life summed up in a single picture. LOL Well, I should clarify: it's how I *feel* most of the time but not actually what I'm doing. Wouldn't THAT be nice if I could lounge around in bed all day long, eh?

CAVEAT 10/6/18: This is a bit outdated. As of today, I am 30w4d. I just realized that I never finished this post or published it! Sorry!

For those of you who have somehow found yourself displaced and confused, not knowing quite how you found your way to my hidden and jumbled blog, let me give you a bit of background info:

I'm Monica. Mama to 5. Pregnant with number 6. I homeschool my kiddos. My husband and I own and operate a construction & specialty-trade business that we started with absolutely NO money (nor have we ever taken out a loan for it!) a few years ago. Business has grown and we now have employees...but I am the one that does allllll of the office work. All. Of. It. (side note: to anyone who's thinking "oh, hey, it might be fun to start my own business. It's probably super easy peasy and much more laidback than working for someone else"....no. It's not. It is A LOT of work and responsibility to an extent that we never even imagined. But we think it's worth it.) I also have a web design hobby/side business that I keep thinking that I may take full time... I'm lucky to have 2 teenage-aged kids that help me with the littles and the housework A LOT. Seriously. They are a literal God send. And that, my new friends (we are friends, right? Please? Can we be friends? Whatever. I'm telling people that you're my bestie anyway)....like I was saying, that is me and my life. Welcome!

And because my weeks are all jumbled in my head, I *might* try to organize the timeline on here a bit but don't rely too heavily on that. mkay?

Week 22

On Saturday August 11, 2018 I woke up with a bad pain wrapped around my stomach. My arms also felt a little wonky but I honestly chalked that up to arthritis. Yeah. Just typing that makes me realize how much I am announcing that I am pretty much old. 

So, yep, I thought that my stomach pain was odd (and painful!) and that arthritis was attacking my arms...but that a little adjustment from my chiro would help. So off we went! He told me that he felt strongly that it was pinched nerves in my neck and back and sciatic nerve pain. I got adjusted and said that I felt better (always wanting to please the other person, ya know) and went on my merry way. But I could see the look of concern on my chiro's face as I waddled out of his office.

I was wrong. Very. Very. Wrong.

The pain got worse. The "arthritis" really began hurting. Down my arms. Into my fingers. Pain was radiating down my legs into my feet. Everywhere. I hurt so badly. I texted my midwife but I only told her that my stomach hurt...because I was still trying to convince myself that the rest was arthritis. She asked me if I thought it was round ligament pain and I said that maybe it was. She told me to take a bath with epsom salts...I told her that there was no way that I could fit in my little tiny bathtub. She LOLed and I LOLed and I ended the conversation with: Let's see how I feel in the morning.

I could barely sleep that night due to the pain that was wracking my entire body. I texted her the next morning and said that I didn't think it was round ligament pain but that I didn't want to go to a doctor just yet. She started asking questions...questions that involved things like "are you experiencing any weird rashes or skin changes?" and she may have mentioned the words "I don't think it's fibromyalgia but this is sounding weird" I freaked out a bit. Went back the chiropractor. 

He bumped me to the front of a very long waiting list of patients to see me immediately. He stood by his belief that it was pinched and irritated nerves. That the pain was being caused mainly by inflammation. Honestly, I wanted to believe him but this pain was BAD.

Guys, when I tell you it was bad, let me elaborate: I couldn't get out of bed by myself because I couldn't support my weight on my arms. I couldn't hold a fork or a pen. I had trouble holding toilet paper after going to the bathroom. I laid in bed for 2 days. The picture at the top of this post? That's from when I was stuck in bed. I could barely walk...and even then someone had to help support me as I hobbled along. I was terrified that this was going to be permanent.

But then...after a few days and one more adjustment....the pain and numbness slowly began easing away. But my midwife was still concerned. She came over to draw blood in order to begin testing for autoimmune diseases. As she said, at least we can start ruling things out, in case there IS a problem.

About a week later, I was almost all the way better! To tell you the truth, I was relieved because I had to fill out and sign everyone's paychecks and paperwork for work and by Friday, I was able to hold a pen well enough to do just that! And a few days after that, my midwife let me know that all of my tests came back perfectly fine, apart from a smidge of anemia.

My chiropractor was right the whole time! It was just some stupid pinched nerves!!

Now let's start with the lumping together of the weeks and goings-on, shall we?

Baby Isabel is currently 16 months still nursing although she's only nursing about once or twice a day, usually around nap/bedtime.

Heartburn has been a nightly occurrence and it sucks. And I'm being a big ol' baby about it. I know that taking some Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar will help nip the heartburn in the bud...but I can't bring myself to drink it right now. lol

On August 23, 2018 I got a phone call from Ohio. My grandpa Jim had suffered a heart attack. I'm not going to go into a lot of detail, but he ended up passing away on August 24th. We packed up a few bags and the kids and the dogs and tried to make it in time to say goodbye...but we didn't make it in time. We stayed in Ohio for about a week so that we could attend his services.

And that about sums up weeks 22-26 of my pregnancy with Baby Mistletoe!