Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankful

I am thankful for lightening fast washers and dryers even if it means I have baskets of laundry piling up for me to put away.  At least they don't smell like bodily fluids.

I am thankful for big fat babies to snuggle with and keep me warm when its cold. 

I am thankful for waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to fall asleep, because its one of the few times I can feel my baby move uninterrupted. 

I am thankful for all my kids that makes my heart so glad.  Even when some of them are angry I still have plenty ready to come give me love. 

I am thankful for restaurant supply stores so I can buy pots and pans big enough to cook food for my family. 

I am thankful for stereotypes of large families - they make me look good.  And without them I wouldn't have much to blog about.

I am thankful for holidays where I have a reason to pig out and gain weight. 

But mostly I am thankful that God blessed me with 8 beautiful children and a loving husband.  For they are the ones who keep me humble, make me laugh and teach me more than I could have ever learned on my own. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

You might have a big family if...

You're a little worried when dh comes home with turkeys that only weighs 21 pounds.

You have to double every recipe and that includes the one for the turkey.

When you are riding in the van with 3 kids they comment on how much faster the van goes without everyone in it.

You have more people than the waiting room at the doctors has seats. 

Everyone always comes to your house for holiday meals because its so much easier for you to make for 10 extra people than it is for them to make for 10 extra people. 

You have an entire box of saved shoes and you still can't find pairs to fit 2 of your kids.

Your neighbors aren't sure how many kids you have and assume that any kids hanging around must just belong to you. 

You have dealt with so many episodes of stomach bugs that when your toddler had diarrhea you actually ask your husband, "What did it smell like?"  Then not only does he describe it for you, he offers up what the next one smelled like without you having to ask. 

And one last one ala Jeff Foxworthy - You might be a red neck if (and I'm not saying for sure that I am) if you are hiding your kids Christmas presents in the broken dryer in the garage. 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The guilty parent

A few years ago I offered some childrens craft books to a friend, she accepted saying, "I will put them in my guilt box."  I asked what she meant, and she told me it was a box full of things she wanted to do with the kids but never did, which made her feel guilty.  Since that time I have become aware of my own feelings of guilt associated with raising my own children.  I knew why I felt guilty, because society said in order to be a good parent I needed to provide them with every opprotunity in sports, music, art, and education and if I didn't they would fail as adults.  Afterall this is a dog eat dog world, and we as adults know what it takes to get to the top.  If we don't start our kids off with every skill they will need to succeed they will never succeed.  Right?  I don't think it quite works that way. 

First, I think lots of parents try to make other parents feel guilt to justify their own behaviors.  This is such an easy trap to fall into.  Everyone does it.  I've done it.  Its really hard to remove our own feelings when giving a friend advice, just talking to someone about something to help them work it out or listen to someone complain when we would have done things differently.  But, its their life to live and their decisions to make.  Not ours.  Even though something has worked perfectly for you and your family, and you want to share that with someone, that does not mean it would work well for someone elses family.  For instance, I have seen kids grow up to be wonderful young adults from parents I really doubted were doing a good job.  They weren't parenting in the way I thought they should, things that to me were very basic principles of parenting.  And yet their children not only turned out fine, they turned out great!  And I don't think it was inspite of their parenting.  They are their parents children,  for them and their family it worked for them.  It was their genes and their heritage and they knew what they were doing. Its been humbling. 

Second, we have forgotten what it is to be an individual.  We have become a society of beige. Where everyone is supposed to be the same.  Yes, we are all equal, but equal does not mean we all have to be identical.  My husband and I are equals but we are totally different creatures.  I like mysteries and he likes cartoons, I like peppers and he likes cabbage, I am self motivated and he is a follower.  Not everyone is meant to be a Bill Gates.  We all need to have different experiences to make us who we are meant to be.  If everyone has the same experiences we won't have the wide array of people we should have.  Just because you gave your child every opportunity in life doesn't mean they were meant to use them, likewise if you didn't that doesn't mean your child won't succeed.  Not everyone is meant to be a great sports player or musician.  Some of us are meant to be geeks, sitting behind a computer all day.  And thats ok too.  Instead of trying to get your kids to do everything everyone is doing, why not focus on what your child is really good at and let them pursue that.  I remember putting my daughter in soccer in first grade.  I am sure she enjoyed it, but she was never very good.  Now I can see my children are not athletes. While the dh and I both loved sports I don't think we passed on any of those genes to our children.  Most of our kids are so uncoordinated they can't even walk through the living room without tripping on a shadow and hurting themselves.  The nerd gene is strong with us.

Third, money does not make someone a better person.  You can spend all the money in the world on education and training and still have someone grow up and want nothing to do with that sport or be in any sort of high profile job.  Some of the best things in life are free.  If you can't afford to send you kids to a private school or dance lessons or sports camp don't feel guilty.  Its better to have your children grow up in a home where proper finances are taught than grow up thinking they can get everything they want.  They will be a much more rounded individual if they know how to handle money then expecting everything to be handed to them. 

Looking back at my childhood I can say all the years of gymnastics and soccer were fun but I don't think it made me any better of a person.  And having the opportunity to travel to different countries, see great works of art and meet incredible people didn't make me any better of a writer or a mother.  My husband didn't get to have any of those things and I think he is a freakin awesome person.  So stop feeling guilty already.  You are doing the best you can.  Thats what I finally came down to believing.  If God thought my kids needed all those things He would have provided them.  And unless you need that guilt box for kindling, donate it to someone who could actually use it. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Getting the birth you want

This is something people with a lot of kids have to deal with frequently. For most couples this might happen twice in their lifetimes.  However for us that means every year or every other year we have to plan a birth.  I know lots of women wonder what could possibly be so hard.  You pick a dr, you go to prenatals, you show up at the hospital for the birth and then you go home.  Whats there to plan?  For women like me who choose a homebirth or a birth center birth this can be much more involved and difficult.  Everything from getting insurance to pay for it to gathering birth supplies, home births and birth center births are rarely easily planned. 

For most women who plan a homebirth or a hospital birth the main problem is paying for the birth.  Rural Midwife addressed this topic recently but I found even as an experienced homebirth midwife she was missing key points to how and why women might not choose a homebirth.  For starters I have gotten to know lots of homebirth midwives personally.  Even when you choose a midwife for your homebirth it is not the same type of relationship you have with your dr.  But I have had the chance to go beyond that and really get to know a few midwives.  While they are more than willing, generally speaking, to work with you for payment or barter this is not something I would now ask a midwife to do.  From what I have seen those midwives who are willing to work out a payment plan or barter often end up with the short end of the stick.  Pretty soon their whole clientele is women who can't pay.  Midwives are left with begging for payment or turning women away because they, the midwife, can't afford to take them on.  Very few insurance companies will pay for homebirths or birth center births.  Companies like Aetna cite ACOG's statement for homebirth as why they won't.  Writing letters, threatening to go somewhere else, does little when a huge force like the ACOG is dictating policy. 

Secondly, paying by working, say by starting a small side business, trying to pick up work here or there to raise money for the birth you want, or asking people instead of gifts to help pay for the birth are also not feasible for many women.  It sounds great in theory and I have done it before, but realistically its not something most women could do.  Alternative births are not an accepted practice in this country with only 1% of births being planned homebirths.  Many people would not feel comfortable giving money knowing it is going to pay for a birth they would not otherwise support.  Opening a store is a great idea if not for the inital outlay it requires.  I have spend literally hundreds of dollars in supplies for my store.  Some women really have very little money, to the point where they can't pay their bills.  Life happens, even to the most well prepared.  I would never expect a woman who can't pay her electric bill to spend even $5 in supplies in the hopes of selling it for $30.  Thats called a gamble and when you are looking at no utilities for you and your family often the gamble is not worth it.  Further, scrimping and saving for a birth a few times is one thing, but doing it 10 times or so is something totally different. You are basically scrimping and saving for years and years, often forgoing other important items that your family needs.  At what point does the birth become more important than a family car?  Thats a decision every family has to make and it can be very difficult and not as simple as "If its important to you you can make it happen." 

I am coming at this from a homebirthers point of view.  I have had 6 homebirths, none of which insurance paid for.  We scrimped and saved for each one.  I have bartered for services, been on payment plans, gotten reduced fees, and yet I know there are times finances really do dictate how you give birth.  However, that does not mean you give up all hope for the birth that you want.  Even if that means you want a hospital birth or have to have a hospital birth but wanted a homebirth.  There are ways to compromise and get what you need and want. 

This is not for women who are simply looking for the cheapest way out.  If you can afford, even if it means juggling your finances and it wouldn't be a burden, the birth you want don't take the cheapest way out. You get what you pay for.  If you can afford the birth you want, then do it.  You will probably end up regretting it if you didn't.  But for those women, like myself, who really have hard choices to make there are ways around it. 

If you can get a free hospital birth because of insurance of some sort and simply can not afford the birth you want outside a hospital don't despair.  You can get close to a home birth if you educate yourself and plan.  We all know that nothing is set in stone, and everything you plan is subject to life happening.  But you can avoid some of the things that make hospital birth so unappealing to some.  #1 - get a doula.  Doulas have to attend a certain number of births before they can get their certificate.  These are typically done for free.  Some hospitals also provide them free of charge.  If you have access to one, use it.  Doulas are proven to reduce interventions.  This is not one of those things where you are asking a woman to take a hit on her finances for the sake of yours.  They really do need to have the births under their belt, and I would have been more than honored had someone asked me to doula for them so I could get my certificate.  Contact your local doula trainer for a list of names.  DONA is another good resource.  #2 read everything you can.  Libraries are free.  The more you educate yourself the better your chances will be of a good outcome.  Knowing you can wait a little at home before going to the hospital just because your contractions have a good pattern can save you from interventions like AROM.  No one is gonna take care of your body like you, learn everything you can about it.  #3 find a dr that supports your ideas of birth.  This is not as simple as walking into a dr office and asking if they support natural birth.  Most drs will say yes every time.  Best thing you can do is ask for recommendations from other women who you know had natural hospital births.  There are several online communities where you can ask for referrals, there are sites you can read reviews about drs.  And there are questions to ask that will tell you a lot more than the standard questions would.  Questions like, "How many births have you attened with the mother kneeling? squatting? in water?" will tell you how often they attend natural births and if those women are free to move around during labor.  If they have never attended a birth where the mother wasn't reclining you should probably look somewhere else.  Look for key words like "allow or let", "trial of labor", and if they throw out words like induction and c/s because of some precieved problem like your weight; that tells you the dr probably isn't on the same page as you.  The same is true if you want to have a scheduled c/s.  Some drs will tell you what you want to hear only to change it later on.  Choose your words carefully, ask questions that actually require an answer other than yes or no.  #4 - apply for exemptions from your insurance company.  This costs nothing and can get you the birth you want.  Google can be your friend in this.  There are women who have successfully done this, finding out how can help you with yours. 

Still, after all this, you can end up with a birth you did not want.  You can ask all the right questions, do your research and do everything in your power to get the birth you want only to end up disappointed.  But at least you can say you tried your best.  Regret is an awful feeling, and there is nothing worse than doubt.  Wondering if you had only done this or that, things that would have been free and easy, is not what you want to be doing after you give birth. 

After the birth of my second, which ended in a hospital birth with an epidural and pit after a planned homebirth, I did a lot of questioning.  What all the answers came back to was that it was an experience I needed to go through, things happened that I needed to learn first hand.  I wouldn't want to repeat the experience but I am glad I had the opprotunity to go through it and come out the way I did.  Which is how I got to this post today.  At one point it was me saying "If you want the birth you can make it happen" and "Don't like finances get in the way of the birth you want, nothing is more important."  And I am sad now for the women I said those things too.  Nothing is black and white.  I couldn't see all the extenuating circumstances that some women might have in their lives, but I do now.  I see them because I have lived them.  But at the same time I can't tell women to just do what they have to do.  I have to give them hope that they can have their homebirth, their birth center birth, their hospital birth the way they want to.  You can beat those finances if you just know where to look. 

Birth centers and Hospitals births are a bit more tricky.  Most hospitals will reduce fees if they know you are paying cash, some have already set up payment plans for self payers.  But they will most likely not accept any form of barter or try to work with you further. They are a business first and foremost where as midwives will often say it is their calling.  However, there are hospital that have charities connected to them that can help you pay for your birth if you can't.  I know this because I gave birth at such a hospital and they would have helped pay for our birth, even the whole amount, if we qualified.  Choose your hospital carefully, especially if you live in a city where you have that option.  Birth Centers often operate like midwives but have much higher over head.  So your chances of getting a reduced fee birth at one is not likely.  But some insurance companies will make exemptions for them, especially if you live in places where state law dictates they have to.  So know your laws, it could save you money. 

In the end, don't let other people make you feel guilty for having the birth that you had.  It was your choice to make and had they been in your shoes they might have made the same choices .

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

They are still learning

I sent my 11 yr old daughter to pick up some shampoo when we were shopping.  She came back with a bottle of Placenta shampoo.  "How about this one?"  I am not sure why she picked it, I don't think she even had the faintest idea why she would even want placenta shampoo.  I told her no, not that one.  She asked why, "Look at the label."  I told her.  She took a quick glance, "Oh it says conditioner."  I am pretty sure she was picking that one based on color alone.

A circuit on one side of the house got tripped, turning off all the clocks of course.  Once we fixed it no one thought to fix the clocks.  The next day I finally went to find my boys because they still had not gotten up.  Apparently their clock said it was 4 am so they didn't come out yet.  Never mind the sun was shinning in their window.  A little trick to consider if you have kids like mine who normally are up before you are - or the sun. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

An invitation to small families

For what ever reason most of the time big families hang out with big families.  Usually not on our part, although we do enjoy the company of those that think like we do.  Just because the smaller families don't want all those people in their house and they are overwhelmed going to ours.  But we love families of every size.  If you have 1 or 4 you are still more than welcome to come by and play with the kids, have dinner with us, go to the park with us.  My kids don't care if you are an only or if you are one of 20.  I don't mind having to cook for 3 or 6 or 12 more.  We are already cooking for 10, and usually we have left overs.  Or we can just double the recipe.

I know we might seem scary.  You might be overwhelmed with the sheet number of people, but I can tell you from experience you do get used to them all.  Its no different than a teacher getting used to teaching a class of 30 or going to church and getting used to 200 people.  We are not weirdos, contrary to popular belief.  Not any more weird than you are!   

We do in fact like kids, even those that aren't ours.  We don't condemn you because you don't have the amount of kids we do.  Just as I am sure you don't because we do have a lot of kids.  I am sure we have more in common than we don't. 

So don't be afraid, make the friends.  Go talk to that big family.  Invite the kids over to play, go to their house and enjoy all the company.  You don't think your children would just love to play with all those kids?  The amount of kids we have following us through stores, at parks and events tell me that they would.  And I know my kids would love to have someone new to play with. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The joys of boys

After having 6 boys people assume I want a girl.  A girl would be nice, pink frilly dresses and someones hair to do.  But Boys are great too.  Granted they can be dirty and gross but that can be so fun.  Having the girls I do I know I might not get that girl who wants the pink frilly dresses.  I might get another rocket scientist who prefers pants.  I am not looking to unleash my feminine side vicariously through a baby girl.  So just a reminder to everyone how great boys can be. 

Don't worry, I pulled the chicken out after I took the picture.

Hes the one the dh said we didn't have a picture of not covered in something. At least hes consistent.

The other day my son said he was gonna draw me a picture.  I asked him if it would be a pretty picture.  He said, "Yup, a balloon zombie head."  Sounds um, pretty.  Sure. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

18 weeks

My kids say I look pregnant now.  I guess I just looked fat before.  I have a nice healthy (huge) anterior placenta so I can't really feel movement.  So for me I really do feel like I have just gotten fat. 

Yesterday we had our ultrasound.  We couldn't see a gender but it was nice just to know our baby is probably healthy. 


I am glad we did that yesterday and got to have all the warm fuzzy feelings, because today we found out come the New Year we lose our current insurance.  All that work to get them to cover the Birth Center only to have to switch to an insurance that doesn't cover any birth centers or homebirth.  To say I am mad would be an understatement.  My body is all flush and warm, all my thoughts sounds like the scene from Christmas Story where Ralphie beats up the bully.  I haven't checked, but I bet my blood pressure would make doctors faint. 

So it was a good thing I saw that sweet baby yesterday, or I might have already exploded today. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

A first for me

I experienced something last month that was a first for me.  Something I never got to experience before.  I weaned my son.  Not that I hadn't weaned a baby before, but its the first time I had weaned 2 in the same year.  Back at the beginning of the year I wearned his older brother.  Even though he was by far the most difficult nursing child I had had, it still was hard to let go.  Weaning is weird like that.  Even though you know he is ready, even though you are ready it still hurts.  Its an end to a relationship that only you two shared, something you will never have again with that person.  Its sad no matter how prepared you are. 

As is typical for me, my toddler weaned after I got pregnant.  He was 17 months old, very typical in our family.  It was his choice.  I remember the last time I nursed him.  He nursed only for a minute.  Looked at my breasts, looked at me, knew it was different and just got down and walked away.  He was done.  He didn't need it anymore.  

I look forward to nursing the next one with renewed vigor.  I went from having 2 babies want me, need me to none.  It will be a lonely 6 months till the baby gets here. 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Bad Momma

I was in a hurry while changing my son recently.  He was complaining but I didn't see anything to complain about. His bum wasn't red, it was normally poopy, nothing sticking anywhere.  As I looked up to ask him what was wrong I noticed the problem right away.  I had his feet smashed into his forehead.  Opps. 

To be fair, he plays with his feet and puts them up to his head all the time.  He likes to suck on his toes.  But having them smashed into your forehead during a diaper change probably isn't pleasant.  Bad momma. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Horse Play

I sat watching my boys wrestle on the floor in the living room while I waited for dinner to be done.  I began  to wonder why I thought boys were easier than girls.  It was loud.  Body parts were everywhere.  Kids would fling themselves around the room trying to escape their brother.  A split second later they were running at their sibling.  There was rolling on the floor, bumping into furniture.  Screams and laughter mingled with the grunts and groans.  Occasionally one of the boys would come to be crying because they got hurt.  I would tell them they were fine and they would immediately go back and play some more. 

I realized just how good it was for them to roll around and rough house with their brothers.  Not only were they exercising they were learning some good lessons.  First and foremost that its ok to get hurt.  I have a few boys that are pretty wimpy.  You'd think the world has ended if someone accidentally bumps into them.  This was teaching them its ok, you don't have to over react.  It was teaching them to be tough.    The ones that are really drama kings weren't when they were playing.   They were getting their rug burns right there with their brothers and not even noticing. It was almost as if they were learning how to deal with the pain in a way they couldn't before.

They were also learning fairness.  My 5 yr old learned that one pretty quick.  He was just fine dealing out the pushes and laying on top of his brother, but as soon as his brother did it to him he had to yell and come to me to complain.  I told him if it was fun for him to do that than it was fun for his brother to do it to him.  If it wasn't fun to get laid on then maybe it wasn't fun for his brother either.  It didn't take long before he saw that whatever he did was gonna be done to him, so he better play fair. 

By the time dinner was ready the kids had worn themselves, and the carpet, out.  I was impressed that just by letting kids be kids *I* would learn so much.  Letting kids be kids is good for them. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Things you have to clean as a parent

As a single person there are things you never dream about cleaning.  Unless you are really weird.  As a parent its just par for the course.  You mentally keep them filed, ready to pull out the next time something happens so you can think to yourself, "Well at least its not as bad as when...."

This week I have had the pleasure of scrubbing face paint off 2 chairs, walls and my bathroom shower.  That is hardy stuff.  My sons hair stood up better than if I had used the strongest gel and hairspray.  If you don't mind a red tint and need a mohawk; try some red face paint. 

Then there was the vacuuming of the bathroom because my 3 yr old ate a poppy seed muffin in there.  Its not a play on words.  He really did eat a poppy seed muffin in the bathroom.  There was crumbs everywhere.  I knew no broom and mop was gonna get all those teeny tiny crumbs up.  But honestly I pull out the vacuum for just about everything. 

Thats just this week, and its only Tuesday. Then there are the epic cleaning episodes.  Like Vaseline in the recorder or packaging popcorn all over the down stairs.  Those things stick to everything.  Especially when they have been ripped into pieces.  Peanut butter all over the kitchen and sardine vomit all over bedsheets - These are things as a parent I wish I could forget but when something happens that I have to clean, its nothing compared to those.  Usually.  I am sure someday it will be surpassed.