Friday, September 20, 2019

How I Grocery Shop For A Large Family | Walmart PickUp | Part 1 of 4

I won't lie: I have pretty much always hated grocery shopping. Then again, who doesn't? But as my weekly trips to the store included more and more children, it was getting to be too much.

When I got pregnant with Isabel, my local Walmart began their Grocery PickUp service. I almost hugged the greeter when she told me about it. Okay, I did hug her. I was elated!

And here is how my experience with Walmart Grocery Pick Up was.....


Membership Cost: Free

  • Convenient ordering on my phone with their app.
  • Prices were very affordable.
  • They were pretty quick about bringing my groceries out when I came to pick up my order.
  • The employees were all extremely friendly and we'd always chat for a few minutes. Please note: chatting is not mandatory...but if you know me, you know that I can be pretty talkative! 
  • They would load my groceries into my trunk quickly.
  • Sometimes if they were out of something, they would sub it with a larger size or a brand-name sub (if I had ordered generic). But this wasn't always.
  • Customer service was very helpful and quick to make sure that I was satisfied with the service if I ever had an issue (which happened a couple of times).
  • I still hated packing up the crew and having to leave the house.
  • Although they NEVER expected it, I would help them load my groceries each week. I felt weird having them do it for me.
  • I didn't always feel like talking...but I also felt weird having them load my groceries. So I began resenting my trips especially when I wasn't up for a chat. This was MY issue, though, not Walmart's. 
  • Oftentimes their substitutes (for whenever an item I had ordered was out of stock) were not an acceptable sub and it could throw my weekly menu off because I'd be missing key ingredients. This was happening quite frequently as time went on.

Final Verdict: After using Walmart Grocery PickUp for over a year, I ultimately decided that it was not right for us.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Life With Azalea | Month 1

I am still in disbelief that Azalea is now 3 weeks old. It is absolutely mind-boggling. How does time do that? Ugh.
How are we doing? I know that a lot of you have been asking and I've been pretty silent about it on social media for the most part. 

The truth is, I am exhausted. Antonio is forever telling me to sleep when the baby sleeps (as does every single baby advice piece)...but my question is: how the **** does one do that on the regular?! Azalea isn't the only little chick that I have. I have a literal house full of them! And, quite frequently, my second (third, fourth, etc) wind has hit and I am going about at full speed (on fumes) when Azalea falls asleep. And I am not one who can force myself to go to sleep. But there are yesterday...when sleepiness hits me like a locomotive. Azalea was sleeping in my arms and I literally just fell over and slept for about an hour. Mahri said that she couldn't believe I had fallen asleep that quickly and had been assuming that I was still watching Ancient Aliens with her. Oops. hahaha

For the last couple of nights, when Azalea wakes up hungry, I begin nursing her...only to realize (who knows how much later) that I actually did NOT nurse her. But, instead, fell back to sleep and dreamed that I nursed her. ::face palm::

I am very excited and relieved that after all of the obstacles that Isabel and I encountered during our breastfeeding journey together, it has been smooth sailing with Azalea. Even my doula and midwife commented on how well Azalea took to the breast. She has a great latch...which is actually something I struggled with with pretty much every one of my nurslings. She even got my right breast, the one I had a lumpectomy on years ago that none of my chicks ever seemed to want to nurse from...well, she got it working! After 8+ years of babies refusing it, I didn't even think it was possible to nurse from it anymore! She actually nursed so much in her first days that she gained over a pound and a half in her first 2 weeks! I should mention that I had not yet introduced a pacifier to her at that point and I nurse on demand. So I was pretty much nursing round-the-clock to see those results. She is showing signs of silent reflux, so we're keeping an eye on that. I have a very strong letdown (over supply?), so much so that I typically nurse her from a reclined position whenever possible.

For all the exhaustion and craziness that comes with a family of six kids, I am absolutely in love with my life! I wouldn't change anything...even if it means that I might not sleep for the next two years.

And now I am going to end this post fairly abruptly. Isabel and Azalea are both asleep (Azalea is asleep in my arms) and the house is quiet. So I am going to enjoy the tranquility for as long as I can!

How are all of my mama friends who have recently had babies doing?! Are you all just as sleepy as I am?! hahaha

Friday, December 7, 2018

Unexpected Ultrasound & NST

On the Wednesday after the whole "labor that wasn't really labor" incident, I woke up in the wee early hours of the morning (ahhh...pregnancy insomnia) and began going over some of the details of Monday.
One part stuck out to me and slowly began gnawing at my brain. It was during our second (and last) pelvic exam when we discovered that I had only dilated about half a centimeter (bringing me to a whopping 3.5 cm total) after hours of contractions. My midwife was checking on Baby's position. And she was seeming a bit perplexed. She muttered something that I didn't quite understand...something about "a really bony head if that's what it is...." On Wednesday morning, I began worrying...what if it wasn't the head? What if it was a....butt! Could Baby be breech??

I sat on that thought for a few hours before texting her to ask if that was a possibility. She called me back immediately. She reassured me that Baby is not breech...but that she is concerned because she had been thinking about it a lot the night before and she had come to wonder if it wasn't, in fact, a shoulder she had been touching. My chiropractor had mentioned something about my uterus was "hanging over" my left hip (we're working on that hip issue through frequent chiropractic adjustments, by the way)....and so Christine said that it makes sense that maybe Baby is just chilling up high outside of my pelvic bones. But since she can't see in there, she couldn't be sure. So she asked me if I'd be cool with getting an ultrasound done to just take a peek at Baby and make sure that everything is okay. She told me "I know what I saw on Monday. That was labor. It should have ended with a Baby with the way those contractions were on top of each other. It doesn't make sense that it just stopped. 

Well, while I am completely into the whole natural thing, I was really curious as to what's going on in there, too. So I said I'd absolutely get the ultrasound done. We scheduled it for early the next morning. The OB office that I go to for my ultrasounds and consultations (to ensure that Baby and I are good candidates for home birth...I went there when I was pregnant with Isabel). They have won many numerous awards for their phenomenal prenatal care.

Since the next day happened to be Austin's 8th birthday...and his birthday wish has been for the Baby to be born on his birthday, we figured we could do the next best thing and let me come along with us to the appointment. The rest of the kids were extremely jealous until I pulled them aside and told them that I thought that they could decorate the house for Austin's birthday with the Mario Bros decorations I had bought. It would be like a surprise party for him. They were suddenly a-okay with staying home and excited for the task at hand. However, after talking with Christine at our 39 week pnv, she said that Baby was not engaged either time when she checked me on that day. She said that with this being my 6th baby, oftentimes Baby won't even come down into the pelvic bones until they are already on their way out!

I won't bore you with lots of detailed descriptions of what went on at the appointment. I had an ultrasound and an NST (non stress test) and we got LOTS of great feedback from both. 

Here's what we learned:

Baby is perfect! Not stuck or positioned badly. Just not down in the pelvic cradle. What could have happened was that Baby was down, labor started...then Baby changed their mind and went back up, thus stopping labor.

Baby is estimated at weighing 7 lbs 2 oz.

Heartbeat was 159.

Plenty of fluid.

Heart and umbilical cord functioning perfectly.

All measurements and heart exams were perfect and right on track. They have some sort of point system that determines how well Baby is doing in terms of growth, development, organs, etc. The most points they can get is 10. And they happily went over all of the test scores with us and told us that Baby had passed with flying colors: a 10!

They assured us that everything was good and that Baby would find its way down to the pelvis when it was ready. 

So now we are just waiting for Baby to be ready to join us!!

Monday, December 3, 2018

Weekly Menu 12/3 - 12/7 | Large Family

I'm trying to keep things healthy but still easy enough that my teens can throw meals together with no trouble. They are getting pretty good at following recipes, so that's been a life saver for this pregnant mama!
I will clarify that although I am aiming for healthy options, I did not succeed for every meal. I had to take some shortcuts, such as premade frozen meatballs instead of homemade, due to financial reasons and my being 9 mos pregnant.

Since we homeschool, the kids are here for every meal.

If I end up having the baby this week, we will probably have a different dinner/meal plan for the day since we will also be having our midwife and doula join us for meals that day.

Breakfast Options

Oatmeal with almond milk
Homemade Coffee Cake Muffins with Goodie Maple Nut Shakes (sounds decadent but they are actually clean eating and gluten- and sugar-free)


Monday & Friday: Macaroni & cheese with fruit & yogurt

Tuesday & Thursday: PB&J sandwiches with fruit & yogurt 

Wednesday: English muffin mini pizzas with fruit & yogurt


Nutrigrain bars, pretzels and animal crackers


Monday: Cheesy Chicken Cauliflower Soup with rolls

Tuesday: Meatball parmesan over pasta with green beans

Wednesday: ☆ Austin's Birthday Celebration - Eating Out ☆

Thursday: ♡ Date Night ♡ Kids will be eating macaroni and cheese with chicken nuggets

Friday: Slow Cooker Honey Sriracha Chicken Breasts over rice with corn

Friday, November 30, 2018

When Labor Stops| I Am NOT Defective! And Neither Are You!

On Monday morning, November 26, 2018, at around 1:30 am, I awoke with a start. I thought I had heard a noise in the house (which is what initially woke me up) but I was also mid-contraction. A few minutes later, another contraction hit. Then another.

These weren't Braxton Hicks, either. These were the real deal. All day long the day before I had felt miserable. Crampy. Pressure in my pelvic area.

I was 38 weeks pregnant with my sixth baby.

My mind went back to a recent conversation I had just had with my midwife, Christine. She requested that I not wait until the contractions were way too intense to call her, as my contractions don't get intense until the end. She also preferred my not waiting until my water broke, either, because I always deliver very quickly after my water breaks. Since we are having a home birth and my midwife lives about 30 mins away and my doula lives about 35 mins away, I really am putting myself in a predicament by waiting too late. I mean, babies will come when they come, midwife or no...but I personally prefer having my midwife and doula there...and they have equipment that they need to set up.

After a few more contractions, I got up and went to the living room to walk around and do some hip rolls on my birthing ball. They continued coming, so I decided to start timing them. They were 3-5 minutes apart, lasting 60-90 seconds each.

Isabel started fussing in my bedroom, so I went back to bed to pat her butt and get her back to sleep. When I got back in bed, the contractions began tapering off. Then nothing for about 30 mins. Then, suddenly, they began again. More contractions. Still 3-5 mins apart and the same intensity, spreading across my stomach and lower back. So I decided that maybe I should give my birth team a heads up. Just in case.

But I didn't want to call Christine and wake her up. What if it wasn't the real deal? It was about 5:45 am by this time. I decided to just send her a text of what was going on. But I emphasized in the text a few times that I wasn't quite sure if this was really labor. I was ashamed...this was my 6th baby. I am supposed to be a pro at this. How could I not be sure?

Christine texted me back right away, assuring me that I did right by letting her know. She said that she'd just jump in the shower and would check back on me in a few minutes. I decided that a shower would be good for me, too. A warm shower can either slow down the contractions (indicating that this wasn't time yet) or could intensify them, meaning it was Baby Time! But the confusing thing was that I didn't really have a change. They were still coming...but no change in timing or intensity.

But one thing was clear to me: I needed to poop. Now here's where it gets tricky. When a woman in labor feels like she has to poop, that's not always accurate. Sometimes it's the baby moving down and it FEELS like you have to poop. Sitting on the toilet can really facilitate moving the baby down. But I also didn't want to poop in the birthing tub again like I did with Isabel. So I was mentally struggling with this. I decided to throw caution to the wind...I texted Christine and told her that the contractions were staying the same but I had to poop. I said "But you know me! It probably really is poop!" The next text from her was a group text between me, Christine and my doula, it Christine told Shaconna to get ready, they were heading to my house.

I woke up Antonio and had him start getting things ready while I did absolutely nothing. Just kidding. I walked around and sat on my birth ball while I had contractions. Mahri heard us and came out and began helping straighten up.

Christine called to see how I was doing while I was mid-contraction. She told me that they were en route as I breathed through the contraction. I remember blurting out "okay! See you soon! But I really have to poop, so I'm going!" and hung up. Poor Christine was probably freaking out.

Without going over details, let's just say that I went to the bathroom and no baby came out. Whew!

After all that, I decided to go outside and start walking up and down my driveway. Walking helps to speed up labor in addition to just helping the labor experience altogether.

While I was out walking, Christine and Shaconna pulled up. They began unloading everything and bringing it into the house.

Then Christine suggested doing a pelvic exam to see where we stood in terms of dilation and effacement. Ugh...I hate those exams. They are so uncomfortable. And I was so frustrated to find out that I was only 3 cm dilated. BUT with Isabel, I went from 4 cm to delivering a baby in under 2 hours. So really those numbers don't mean too much.

Shaconna directed Mahri and Antonio on how to brew up a special herbal tea blend that helps to facilitate labor. Then she and I went outside to walk the driveway some more. She had me go into a squat each time I had a contraction while she timed the contractions. It was cold and windy out but we walked for awhile. Then we came inside and she had me sit on the toilet for awhile (remember how that is optimal positioning for moving a baby down) while Christine went to check on another one of her patients that lives near me and had recently had a baby. Shaconna and Mahri set up my essential oil diffuser in the bathroom with some clary sage and we just sat in there for seemingly forever. By the time Christine returned, Shaconna let her know that contractions were about 1-3 mins apart.

Since I had been up since around 1:30, the ladies felt that some rest would do me some good, so that I wouldn't be too tired when active labor hit. They put me in bed in a position known to help with keeping things going (on my side, top knee pulled up and propped up with pillows) with the clary sage diffusing right next to me. Christine began adding Cotton Root Bark to the tea I was drinking. I stayed like that for awhile and continued having contractions....but nothing was really progressing. I was getting frustrated at myself. I was tired and grumpy.

We decided that Christine and Shaconna would go grab some lunch nearby while I tried to relax and focus on the baby. I opted to get out of bed and start walking the driveway again. Mahri and Antonio joined me and we walked (and squatted!) for about 30 mins. But then my extremely nosey and annoying neighbor decided to get involved. Let me preface this by saying that I cannot stand this woman. She is racist and prejudiced and just a mean crotchety old woman. She will taunt my dogs then call the police on them for barking. I mean, who does that?! Ugh. Anyway, as we were walking, she pulled her car out of her driveway and started out going the opposite direction of our house. Then she must have seen us because she hit her brakes....and just sat there in the middle of the road. Cars were literally having to drive around her as she sat there, watching us. We started walking toward our house...while she throws her car into reverse, heading towards us! Anyone familiar with labor can tell you how detrimental fear is to a birthing woman and labor progression. (I am not physically afraid of this woman...but I cannot stand her and hate her doing this was NOT helping matters) Once we got in the house, we watched her from our windows as she backed up to in front of our house and just sat there, staring at our house. Then she backed into our other neighbor's driveway, turned around and came back to sit in front of our house again! She just sat there, staring into our windows for awhile. Just sitting there! Finally, she pulled away and left.

But my contractions had stopped. Not slowed down. Not weakened. Just full on ceased. Shaconna texted me to check on me and Ibtold her what had happened. She had me sit on the toilet again...but nothing really happened. I wasn't losing any of my plug (I began losing it 2 weeks ago for a few days but that was it). No water breaking. No contractions. Nada.

She instructed me to drink more of the special tea and to begin walking on my elliptical machine. Which I did for about 10 mins. And it worked! Contractions not only picked up but they were strong! My lower back was killing me and I wasn't able to walk or talk through contractions. But I was exhausted. As they returned to my house, I was heading back to bed where my room was saturated with misty clary sage. They had Antonio make me some eggs and toast and we just waited to see what would happen.

Nothing. That's what happened. Nothing. Contractions slowed back down. And I was just sitting there, feeling like a failure, despite how much they tried to assure me that I was doing nothing wrong. I asked if it was prodromal/"false" labor. They said that we were not putting labels on anything. That my body was just doing what it was doing. Nothing wrong. Christine suggested another pelvic exam to gauge if any progress had happened that maybe we weren't seeing. I agreed to it, heartily. Still desperate to prove that I hadn't called them over for nothing. And while I may have progressed, in terms of dilation, it was only slight. In about the 5 hours since their arrival, I had only dilated maybe another half of a centimeter. So 3.5 cm total. Ugh. She did say that my cervix was softening and effacing, so THAT was good. But, during the exam, she noticed something appears to be posterior. That means sunny side up. That means back labor. Noooo. Not again. Back labor during active labor HURTS. Like your spine is being ripped apart and torn from your body. Because the baby's head is pushing against your spine as it descends, grinding against your backbone. It's painful, ok? This was not good news. But I also have A TON of fluid, so that makes it a little more difficult to determine the baby's position by touch. She kept feeling around inside my cervix and said that "baby's got a bony head!" Hahaha

Afterwards we had a discussion on how I wanted to proceed. The supplies were all laid out. The birth pool was inflated in the living room. But baby was just not seeming very interested in our plans. Christine and Shaconna assured me that they could get baby out. Clearly, my body responded positively to walking and that I could "walk the baby out". But they said that it wouldn't just involve simple walking. There were tinctures and herbs that would be ingested. Rigorous exercise. No more lying in bed. We would not only get the ball rolling but we'd be kicking that mother down the hill!

Now, let me say this. My ego had been bruised. I had, in my opinion, screwed up. This was not labor. I was wrong. I didn't know the signs of labor and apparently was a complete idiot. Again, this was my ego shining through in all of its glory. I cried. I mean, ugly cried. But I could "fix" this. I could still make it happen with the aid of exercise and herbs. I could still be holding my precious baby by evening!

Thankfully, I put my ego in check. I was tired. My body needed to rest. There was no way I was going to make it through labor easily. And what about after the birth? I would definitely be beyond exhausted and how would that affect me in those crucial moments following delivery? As someone who is very susceptible to post partum (and antenatal) depression, I feared that I would be setting myself up for disaster. I took a deep breath and told Christine and Shaconna that they could go home. That I needed to sleep. My body needed some rest and good food. I wasn't doing anyone any good, least of all myself or my baby, by being stubborn and tired.

So they left, leaving behind all of the birthing stuff all set up. They were sure that I would be calling them before morning with THE CALL.

They left and I immediately fell fast asleep. They probably weren't even off of my road yet before I was out. My doula called a couple of hours later to check on me...but there was nothing new to report. I asked if I could go to my chiropractor so that he could begin working on my hips to move baby into better position. (Ironically, at around 2 in the morning before I texted Christine, I had googled something along the lines of "why would contractions be strong and regular but suddenly take a 20-30 minute break before starting back up again"....and Dr Google said that some doctors believe that if a baby is in a bad position, such as posterior {like Mistletoe}, close to delivery, that my body would put itself into labor to try and move Baby into proper position. If, after not succeeding, it would abruptly stop the labor....only to try again later. I found that remarkably interesting considering Christine thinking that Mistletoe is posterior)

I went to the chiropractor and all of the walking had started the contractions again. He told me that my hips were definitely needing to be adjusted, my left hip in particular. He specializes in the Webster Technique, which has been proven to move babies...even turning breech babies! I'm not sure if it worked but I'm hopeful! I had contractions all the way home and when I went to bed but after I fell asleep, they stopped. But I was so thankful for the rest. For getting to snuggle Isabel to sleep with her being the only baby of the family one more time.

I awoke at around 4 am (insomnia not contractions) and talked to Mistletoe for awhile. And while I will keep some things private, I will say that it was a great talk we had. I assured my baby that Mama was so excited to meet him/her but that I wanted to wait until they were ready. I don't want to rush this. That I am so very excited to snuggle with them and give them some milk...but they would be the one to decide when. This is Baby's journey. I am just the one to facilitate their journey and to bring them into the world. And as long there were no complications, I would wait for them to be ready.

And, until then, I will be waiting in excitement for them on the other side.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

37 Weeks & Feeling It

I don't know how Mommy Bloggers do it. Especially the ones that are homeschooling large families.
Because I just can't seem to keep up.

I started an update post for weeks 31-34...but only took down notes for weeks 31 & 32. The rest? Who weeks are so mixed together that I can't look back & distinguish details enough to divvy them up into their proper place.

But I can do this past week, right? 
So here we go....week 37 in my 6th pregnancy!

This week has been...trying. Very, very trying. I told my friend, Anna, who is due a couple of days after me, that if this past week didn't put me into full blown labor, then I am definitely making it to 40 weeks.

First off, I began losing my plug a couple of weeks ago while we were a couple of hours from home at an outlet mall. I was losing it little by little over the next few days...then suddenly stopped. This is totally normal, though, as the mucus plug is able to regenerate itself over after coming out. Neato, right?

I began getting nervous because my midwife was leaving for Florida for a few days to enjoy the holiday. And her main backup midwife put up an announcement that she was "off call" for the remainder of the year. And all I could think was that I was utterly and completely screwed should Mistletoe decide to come earth side this week.

Then there was Thanksgiving, in which mine was divided into 3 phases: the one in which I sat in my rocking chair most of the day, in my pajamas, just being generally sad and unmotivated. Antonio took the kids out to play for a few hours and then the big kids helped me get dinner in the oven. Then I graduated to just going to bed, crying, and purchasing season 3 of Mama's Family off of YouTube...which actually cheered me up considerably. I then got dressed, came out of the bedroom for dinner and we all watched Going In Style and loved it!

Friday was a full moon...which actually went pretty smoothly and my contractions weren't regular or too strong. So that was a relief.

Saturday brought its own set of drama. But the highlight was when Antonio and Christian went outside to work on Antonio's truck. I decided that it was definitely time to tackle getting my bedroom cleaned up, especially since a home birth is taking place here very soon. Mahri needed to help me, as I couldn't lift the heavier boxes on and am having trouble bending over to pick up things off the floor. So while we were cleaning, we asked Austin & Levi to watch Isabel and to play with her. That's where things went haywire. In the middle of cleaning, we heard a loud crash. Then Isabel shrieking. We took off running down the hallway. There was Isabel with a pair of Christian's shorts over her head and Levi behind her, clearly trying to find a scapegoat. Long story short: Isabel loves to wear everyone else's clothes. But she wears pretty much everything as a shirt. So her getting his shorts stuck on her head was explainable. But, unfortunately, she tripped (while her head was covered) and smacked her head on the corner of a plastic storage bin. It was purple and swollen and scared the shit out of me. So I started screaming and crying. As one does. Antonio saved the day (and her poor little head) by implementing one of our tried and true home remedies. You can check out that post on my natural wellness IG page @amor_botanica

That evening, I began feeling a lot of pressure in my pelvic and rectum region. Lots of cramping and pain. But no regular contractions, so I just kept on keeping on. All night I was awoken by some really intense contractions. Possibly the strongest ones to date for this pregnancy. After a few, I decided that I should probably start timing them...but then I'd fall back asleep. So apparently they weren't as serious as I had begun to think.

And that's how my week was, basically. As for symptoms, here's what's been going on with those:

Heartburn has been plaguing me, mainly at night.

My asthma has been horrid. What's happening is that I get these coughing spells and just can't stop coughing. Which causes my asthma to flare up. I'm beginning to suspect that the heartburn is to blame...tickling my throat and making me cough.

Which leads me to my next problem: incontinence. Ah, what a lovely thing to experience multiple times a day. My go-to product for this issue are Always Discreet pads, especially for incontinence. They aren't too thick, the adhesive is pretty good (no bunching and wadding up) and they come in a variety of absorbencies. I just need the panty liner type.

I am getting up anywhere from 2-6 times at night to pee. That's fun. Because, combined with the insomnia, who really needs sleep anyways, right?

I've felt a shift within myself over the past week. More emotional. More tired. Less patience. More stressed. I've been wanting to lie down more and more.

On Saturday I put the waterproof mattress pad cover on my mattress. Washed the washcloths that I bought for my labor. Earlier in the week, some things I bought from Amazon got my nightgown I bought for after delivery. So I washed it and hung it up to dry. I hung up my new robe. I still need to wash the new nursing bralette that came last week. Mistletoe's carseat also came. I think we're waiting until Mistletoe is born to install it. Because our Suburban is already jammed packed with people...the carseat isn't going to make that any better.

On Sunday we went and bought some plastic bins for storing the home birth and after birth supplies in. I still need to pack them. We also bought a plain white shower curtain liner to put on the mattress to help protect my sheets during the labor/delivery/recovery if I should find myself in bed. But I'm planning on a water birth. Speaking of birth pool liner was delivered, as was Mistletoe's oral vitamin k.

Christine (midwife) will be here on Monday morning for our 38 week visit. So we'll see what she says. I'm also hoping to get to the chiropractor next week. My hips could definitely use an adjustment.

And that's about it!

It's basically just a waiting game at this point....

Any guesses on what day you think Mistletoe will be born? Will Mistletoe be a girl or a boy? How much do you think s/he will weigh? How tall?

So much anticipation!!!