Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Solomon's loose tooth

(written by Solomon)

Good news!My loose tooth is gone!!!!!My grandmother came to my house. She would pull my Dad's loose teeth.Well,she wanted to pull my loose tooth out.At first,I would not let her pull my tooth out.But mommy,and my grandmother wanted to pull it out.Finally,I fell for it.She pulled it out;and after she pulled it out,John started crying.But I thought it was fun.
Here are pictures, and one video of her pulling it out.









Saturday, October 25, 2008

Life with Five

A couple of days after Rebecca was born, I woke up in the middle of the night and I could seriously not remember if we had four kids or five. I actually had to sit there and run through their names while counting along on my fingers. Yeah, I'm THAT kind of a mom. Either that, or my mind was seriously fogged from the lack of sleep that comes with having a hungry newborn.

Really, I cannot complain of sleep deprivation, though. Rebecca figured out how to nurse while lying by my side within a couple of nights, so now I lose hardly any sleep at all because we both snooze while she nurses. The thing that is making me lose sleep more than anything is when I wake around 4 am or so to nurse her, at which point I am pretty well rested. I find myself just staring at her, cuddling her, and smelling her sweet skin for a couple of hours, before I finally doze off again just before the older kids wake me up - at which point I am usually pretty tired. But that's a good problem to have, really. I know there are countless women who wish they could have children but for one reason or another cannot, and I feel so absolutely blessed to have had yet another child. I am also infinitely grateful for my husband, who loves children as much as I do and is willing to work hard and long to provide such a wonderful life for our family.



The other kids have all been adjusting very well. They are all eager to help, and Solomon and Isaac are actually really good at entertaining Rebecca while I have my hands free for a little bit. They like to rock her in my rocking chair or sit on the sofa holding her. She loves watching them talk and play. Miriam is very gentle with her. Rebecca insists on being held pretty much around the clock, which comes as no surprise to us because that's exactly how all the other kids were, too. I don't mind - I know this phase won't last. I am really glad I precooked all those meals. Now I can afford to just sit around with the baby all day while reading books to the other kids or teaching them science and history on the living room sofa.






Miriam likes to pretend she is a midwife with her play stethoscope and blood pressure cuff:


This weekend, the Desert Botanical Garden was having its annual fall festival. It is nearly impossible to find a fall-themed event that does not also tie in Halloween, which we do not celebrate and the kids really hate. This fall festival has lots of fun, such as hayrides, petting zoo, pumpkin patch, bale maze, crafts, etc. and nothing Halloween-related. Because we are members at the botanical garden, it is also practically free for us ($8 for me and the kids vs. $30 for non-members). I was really torn between having the older kids miss out this year, or going there Friday morning by myself with all 5 kids. I felt good on Friday morning, and the baby was very sleepy, so I packed up the whole bunch and took them. All went very well until we were on our way back from the pumpkin patch. I couldn't bring the stroller on the hayride, so I was carrying Rebecca in a sling. Miriam got tired at this point and refused to walk, so I was carrying her, too, as well as a heavy backpack full of water, diapers, and other essentials I have to tote around. The three boys had all picked out pumpkins, but they were pretty heavy for them and they needed help carrying them back to where the hayride was leaving. For a few minutes, I was wondering if I was in my right mind that morning. But once we got back to where we had left the stroller, I got to sit down and feed the baby. Then we used the stroller to haul the pumpkins back to the van, and because the baby was now sleeping contently again we went back to the botanical garden for a quick stop to see the monarch butterfly exhibit that was only going to be there for another week. In all, it was a very fun morning, and went much better than I had expected.






Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The fifth baby

My mom had a fifth baby.Her name is,Rebecca Helen Anderson.She is one of the most beatiful girls.Another cutest girl is,Miriam.

A labor of love

Rebecca's birth was a planned water birth at home. As promised, here is the birth story. It is not too graphic or explicit for men or children, although I doubt any of them would be interested in reading this.

As is the case with most home births, two midwives were going to be present. The ones I had chosen were the same that had attended Miriam's birth 20 months ago, Marinah and Connie. Unfortunately, one of them, Marinah, had since moved to Mexico, so our plan was to fly her up here just for the birth. Due to scheduling conflicts, she could only come for 11 days rather than the 2 weeks that I had in mind. Still, since all of our babies had been born within a couple of days of their due dates, we felt confident that I could "make it". In case that didn't work out, there was another midwife we could fall back on as a backup.

Marinah arrived in Phoenix on the evening of the 9th, and both her and Connie came by for a prenatal that night. Nothing much happened for the next week and a half, other than me having lots of contractions at night that would go away again during the day. By the time this last weekend rolled around, I was getting pretty tired from losing so much sleep at night, and also starting to wonder if I would have the baby before Marinah had to fly home again on the morning of the 21st.

At a prenatal this past Friday, the baby had still not descended at all, but I was 60% effaced and dilated to 1 cm. On Saturday, my contractions finally didn't go away during the day, although they did space out quite a bit. They were uncomfortable, but not too much so. I started taking some herbal supplements that would either make the contractions stronger and more regular if this was in fact the "real thing", or make them go away altogether if this was another false alarm.

All Saturday night, I had very painful contractions every 3-5 minutes apart, which I usually only get when I am pretty far advanced. Since Miriam was born within a couple of hours of active labor, and only shortly after the midwives had arrived, I decided to play it safe and called Marinah at 3 AM on Sunday morning. Both her and Connie came out, but much to my dismay I was still only dilated to 1 cm, and the baby still had not engaged at all. I was very, very tired because I had not slept well in a couple of weeks and hardly at all the last two nights. The midwives left all their birth supplies at the house and went home to get some more sleep themselves, while I tried to rest between contractions. I was also very nauseated and had a bad headache at this point, and I think this is when I started throwing up.

I was feeling a little better during the early part of Sunday, although I did stay home from church because my contractions were about 5-10 minutes apart (but milder). By the afternoon, my labor picked up again, with pretty hard contractions every 3-5 minutes. After several hours of this, I called Marinah to come out again at 7 PM on Sunday night. Based on how hard the contractions were, I has hoping I would be dilated to somewhere around 5 cm, but when she checked me I was only 2 cm, almost fully effaced, and baby still not engaged.

At this point, I got extremely discouraged. I had been in what I felt like very active and painful labor for 24 hours, after two weeks of prodromal labor that had left me sleep-deprived, and I was hardly even dilating at all. Worse yet, I had hardly been able to eat anything since Saturday night, and had been throwing up pretty much the whole time since then, mostly bile because that was all I had in my stomach. Worse yet, I found out that Sunday night that Marinah was leaving for Mexico again on Monday morning, not Tuesday as I had wrongly assumed. At this point, going to the hospital and getting every pain medication available sounded like the best thing in the world. In fact, I would have been begging for a C-section because I was so tired and in so much pain, with no end in sight.

Marinah stayed at the house and supported me during this time. At 9:30 PM, she checked me again and I was about 3.5 cm dilated. Though still not much, I started feeling better because I felt that I was at least making some progress. She said she would go out for dinner and be back in one hour to see how things were going. Well, she didn't get back until about 11:30 PM because she had gone all the way to Connie's house to pick her up. When they finally got back, she checked me and I was at 5 cm. This whole time, the contractions had been about the same strength and frequency - every 3-5 minutes and very painful, but manageable because they peaked for only about 10-15 seconds, which I would be counting down. I had been in and out of the birth tub until this point, but stayed there for the rest of this labor from there on out (except to use the bathroom, which I had to do about every 10 minutes). My attitude improved, even though I was still very very nauseated and so tired I was sometimes shaking uncontrollably. I would have a contraction, then throw up violently, and doze off for a couple of minutes before the next one. By around 12:45 am, I was dilated to 7 cm, with the contractions still the same that they had been for about 30 hours at this point. I was fully dilated just 20 minutes later (shortly after 1 am) and felt like pushing, but baby had not had a chance to change its position as quickly as I had dilated. While still painful, the next 20 minutes or so were a sort of "calm before the storm" as I was waiting for the baby to rotate and descend. My bag of waters was still intact at this point. All of a sudden, baby turned during a contraction, and slipped into the birth canal. I could feel the huge difference in position, and started pushing. It only took about 5 minutes (maybe 2 or 3 contractions) until the baby's head was crowning. With one more push, the head was born and the bag of waters broke at the same time. The rest of the baby slipped out moments later with the next contractions. Marinah immediately scooped her up and put her on my abdomen, but the cord was a little short so I had to sit back on my husband's legs (who I had asked to get into the tub to support me during the pushing stage) to be able to hold the baby high enough so the water wasn't covering her face. She gave a couple of little squeaks, and then just started looking around with bright, curious eyes. I was just overwhelmed with gratitude that it was all over, and in a bit of shock because everything had suddenly happened so fast.

The kids had all gone to sleep around 8 PM on Sunday, but Miriam woke up just minutes before the birth. Connie got her from her bed and sat her on my bed next to the birth tub, from where she watched the last few minutes of the birth. She was fascinated and started laughing and pointing when she saw her little sister being pulled out of the water. A few minutes later, Connie woke the three boys and they got to meet their new little sister as well before being tucked back into bed.

During my pregnancy, I was so convinced that this was a girl that I didn't even bother to check for about 10 minutes or so after she was born. Sure enough, it was a girl.

I got out of the tub and got all cleaned up and into bed while Marinah and Connie checked the baby over. Then the midwives fixed some food for me, because I felt absolutely famished and not nauseated any more at all. About an hour after the birth, I cut the baby's cord - a first for me, because my husband had done that with all the other babies. The midwives then cleaned up the house, started the washer, and made sure we were all well and taken care of. They left the house around 4 am, just in time for Marinah to take Connie back home, then go by her parents' house (which is where she had been staying) to grab her bags and have them drive her to the airport, where she had to be by 7 am. It really was a very close call, but she made it onto her flight in time and arrived home safely (and no doubt tired) on Monday evening.

Connie came by for the 1-day checkup on Monday evening and found us both in perfect condition. Other than still being a little tired, I don't feel like I just gave birth at all. I am not sore whatsoever, and even the afterpains and bleeding have been very minimal, which I attribute to the herbs I took in early labor. Of course, I am still going to take it very easy on myself and the baby, and not leave the house at all for at least the next week. My husband and the kids are taking care of all the housework, and thanks to the meals I precooked I won't have to cook for at least 2 weeks, so I pretty much just spend all day in bed resting.

Rebecca is a very alert and content baby. She is awake for hours at a time, but never cries. She loves to look around at all the faces, and as soon as she hears her Daddy's voice she tries to turn her head in that direction. She nurses like a pro, and my milk is already coming in so she is getting plenty of dirty diapers.

All in all, this was a very long and tiring labor, but that was made up for by the fact that the contractions never really got so painful that I could no longer manage them, probably due to the fact that I labored in water (HUGE difference!).

Here are some pictures from the big night:

Connie holding Rebecca, who is meeting Miriam up close for the first time


My husband holding Rebecca


Me cutting her cord


Marinah weighing the baby


Marinah and Connie with Rebecca


Johnny, Rebecca and I in bed together shortly after the birth

Monday, October 20, 2008

Birth Announcement

It's a ...

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GIRL!

Rebecca Helen Anderson was born today, October 20, at 1:38 AM. She weighed 7 lbs 11 ounces, but has not yet been measured to see how long she is. She was named in honor of my husband's great-grandmother and grandmother.

Rebecca is very alert and curious. She was born knowing how to smile, and loves starting at her older siblings while they chat with her. She is very mellow and content, and hardly even cried after being born.

As planned, Rebecca was born at home after a long but manageable labor. I will post the full birth story on here as soon as I get a chance to write it. Thank you to all who prayed for a safe and easy delivery!

Update: At the 1-day checkup tonight, Rebecca measured 20 inches!





Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fall is here

Fall has finally arrived in Arizona, and temperatures are cooling down - at least somewhat. Since the new baby has still not arrived, we have been enjoying lots of extra time with the older kids while taking them on special outings.

Here are some pictures from the last couple of weeks:

Solomon's birthday dinner at a local Mexican restaurant




Miriam fell asleep "reading" her New Testament


At the "Way out West Oktoberfest" in Tempe

Isaac always wears his shoes the wrong way like that.






A family trip to Tonto Natural Bridge State Park

I think this must be one of the most beautiful places in all of Arizona. The pictures on their website really do not do it any justice. We actually went here twice last week, in hopes that the change in elevation and the hiking would start my labor. No such luck, but we did have a lot of fun.

The first time, we hiked down into the canyon on a short but very steep trail. The second time I assumed that the other, longer trail to the bottom of the bridge (which we had never hiked before) would be less steep and therefore less strenuous, but boy, was I wrong! The trail descended into the canyon very quickly (200 foot drop in elevation in less than 1/4 mile), but left us about 1/2 mile up the canyon from the natural bridge and the waterfall that comes down over the bridge. Since this was in the bottom of a canyon, the trail ended and we were expected to hike through the creek bed, which was basically just a bunch of HUGE boulders and rocks. We did go on for another 10 minutes or so, but looking at the map I realized that we had probably twice as far still left to go, plus having to hike back out again, too. My husband was carrying Miriam the whole time, while the three older boys were managing pretty well on their own. The thing that really made me decide that it would be smart to turn around was when I went to put my hand on a big boulder for balance, when I saw a little critter scurry across where I was about to put my hand. I immediately recognized that it was a bark scorpion, the most poisonous kind we have here in Arizona. Though not necessarily always deadly, I wasn't sure what we would have done with a 9 months pregnant woman and four little kids in the bottom of a canyon, stuck half-way in a dry creek bed. Since this was a weekday there were no other hikers, and of course we were light years from cell phone reception. We made it back up to the parking lot safely, and my husband and his friend who had come with us hiked back down again on their own while the kids and I stayed and played in the creek up at the top of the bridge. Later, I was watching a video clip my husband had recorded of the absolutely gigantic fire ants that were up there. One of them was carrying something - a dead bark scorpion! The guy in the gift shop said that they do have a lot of scorpions there, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised. He has found a total of 8 in his bed over the years (he lives in a house at right there at the park), but he had never been stung by one. Afterward, we all went out for some pizza.






At the McCormick Stillman Railroad Park

I took the kids here today with a friend from church. We all had a great time.



Baking pretzels


Miriam playing with her baby doll




Monday, October 13, 2008

Pure love

John said the sweetest thing to me today: "Mommy, I love you more than everything in the world, including people, restaurants, toys, and everything else!"

How nice is that?!?

Friday, October 10, 2008

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

No baby yet, but my husband and the boys had fun making this movie together while I was getting some rest. Solomon started reading "20,000 leagues under the sea" last week, and he is more than half-way through the book by now. So even though we are not officially doing academics this month, the kids enjoyed this extra-curricular activity.

I am not just married to the best husband, but also to the funnest Dad in the world!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Update

First off, no baby yet!

We have had a couple of close calls, though. First there was a major storm moving in over the weekend, and I felt like it was for sure going to put me into labor if it did in fact hit our area. Not sure if it's the barometric pressure or what, but it seems that our babies like to be born during heavy rain/snow storms. Thankfully, the storm passed us by, and my body relaxed again.

Last night at 3 AM, I was awoken by painful contractions that were coming about every 2 minutes, but pretty short. Since the birth tub had been delivered, but not yet set up, I woke my husband up who spent the next hour getting all that ready for me. By then, I fell back asleep and woke up with no more contractions this morning. This would have been a terrible night to have the baby, because our main drain just clogged yesterday (Monday) evening. As a result, we could not use the bathroom or the kitchen, because anytime water went down any of the drains, the house flooded more. I had been really good about keeping all the towels laundered and in stock (for the water birth) but had to use every last one of them to somewhat contain the wet mess. We have tile throughout much of the house, and the little ones kept slipping and falling on the water that had seeped into the hall from the flooded bathroom. When my husband got home from work on Monday night at 10, he was unable to unclog the drain, but he did figure out that the other bathroom at the far end of the house was past the clog and therefore usable. This saved us having to call a plumber out in the middle of the night for an emergency call. So after getting up at 1 AM on Monday morning to go on a business trip to Utah, from which he returned Monday night (after driving 900 miles), I then woke poor hubby up at 3 AM today (Tuesday) to fill the birth tub, all while the plumbing was broken and there were no more clean or dry towels. Now you understand why this would have been a bad night to have a baby. After I went back to sleep, I dreamed that it was morning and I was trying to call a plumber. To my horror, the yellow pages went straight from "pool service" to "spas", with no "plumbers" in between. I realize that alphabetically, it would have come before "pool service" anyway, but in my dream that's how it was. Clearly, I had nothing but water on my mind, and a fear that the clog would not get fixed.

First thing this morning, I did call out a plumber, and they spent close to 5 hours fixing the plumbing - one thing kind of led to another and the final bill was a few dollars short of $700. OUCH!!! We really did not need that right now - then again, who ever does?!? At least all is working now, and the birth tub is set up and ready.

Over the course of the last week, I also managed to precook and freeze 14 dinners (with portions large enough to have leftovers for lunches), so I won't need to cook for at least two weeks after the baby. My birth kit is complete and ready. Today, I managed to not only finish washing every last bit of dirty laundry, but also put ALL of it away. That only happens about once a year or so with the amount of laundry we go through (3-4 large loads/day). My husband came home from work earlier than usual and got the kids into bed while I went out for dinner by myself, after stopping at a bookstore for a book to read while eating. Afterwards, I ran a couple of quick errands by myself, so I won't need to do them with the kids in tow tomorrow.

My midwife is getting into town in less than 48 hours, on Thursday evening. I would really, really love to not have the baby before then. My plans for the next two days are to stay home and take it easy. I want to make miniature caramel apples with the kids tomorrow, practice reading with Isaac, and work on some history and science with Solomon. We might also bake some cookies and throw them in the freezer for a quick treat.