21 Weeks Pregnant UC Journal- Kicks and Cramps

I don’t know if it’s because I’ve reached the magical age of 30 or if it’s because I have 4 children already, but pregnancy #5 is not easy. I basically feel like an old lady every day. My legs hurt, back hurts, and I want to sleep. I normally love this stage of pregnancy and have plenty of energy, but this time I find myself just looking forward to the end result (holding the baby) and getting my no-longer-pregnant body back. Although, I will have my newly-postpartum-mother-of-5 body which probably isn’t much better. Welp. Put me out to pasture.

Then, two weeks ago I decided it was a great idea to take my 4 kids to the state fair. So I ended up lifting my toddler constantly, pushing our big stroller while stuck in a monsoon rainstorm. We even got lost in the massive “parking lot” (huge fields that look the same). I was seriously about to cry when we found the van. I was exhausted, we were soaked and muddy, and the kids kept wailing “I want dadddddddy”. Where do I get such great ideas??

After we got home that night, I had to wash dishes and clean the kicthen and give the gross muddy kids a bath. I went to bed with serious lower back pain, and when I woke up I was having contractions that felt serious. I was scared of how intense they felt at this stage of pregnancy, I was only 19 weeks, so I called my mother to come and help me with the kids so I could be seen at the hospital.

They checked everything and baby was fine. My cervix was closed, so the contractions were not doing anything. Unassisted pregnancy does not mean that you can never seek assistance if you feel unprepared for symptoms. I wanted to make sure I was not in preterm labor, so I did. I’m glad I went, and my blood work was perfect which was nice to know!

Now at 21 weeks, I have been taking it easier. No more monsoon treks through the state fair. I have been giving myself the grace I need to rest when my body tells me to rest. The contractions have subsided since I am taking better care of myself.

Despite being old and tired, the one thing that brings a smile to my face this pregnancy is baby kicks! I was feeling movement for about a month, but they were small movements. Now I can expect real baby kicks every day, and it is always such a joy. No matter how many times I have felt it before, each time it feels like a miracle and gives me a special connection to my unborn baby.

This is the first time we have chosen not to find out the sex of the baby before birth, and that has also been exciting!

Shalom

 

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16 Weeks Pregnant and Breastfeeding

So, the weeks are flying by this pregnancy. I think having my first totally unassisted pregnancy is contributing to that feeling, because I don’t have my weeks punctuated with doctor’s visits and ultrasounds. Taking care of my four children, especially my toddler, is taking most of my mental space. Speaking of which, my little 21 month old tornado is breastfeeding! I made this choice for a few reasons, and it is very important to me, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy.

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For starters, my milk is almost entirely gone. This means that nursing is for comfort mainly, and not comfortable for me at all. In my previous pregnancies, I weaned my toddlers because I had severe nursing aversion (imagine nails scratching a chalkboard, spiders crawling on you, and wanting to scream). Thankfully, my aversion has been mild, but nursing is still not fun without milk.

Nursing positions will get harder as the belly gets bigger. At this point I can still fit my son across my lap, but that will certainly not last too much longer. I will have to find a way to do it without bothering my belly, probably laying down on my side. This may limit how often I can nurse him.

Oh the sensitivity! Pregnancy hormones increase the sensitivity of your nipples. That may sounds like a good thing, until you consider a toddler is using them for comfort. OUCH.

Why do I want to do this? My son is not ready to wean yet. I feel that he deserves a gentle weaning process, on his own time schedule. He is having trouble gaining weight, so the longer I can nurse him, the better for his health. He is very attached to me, and I hope that continuing to nurse him after the new baby is born will help ease the transition to big brother (yea…I hope).

Also, nursing calms the savage toddler beast and gives me 5 seconds to sit rather than chase him around the house minimizing his destruction. Who knew a tornado could be so adorable?

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14 Weeks Pregnant Already? (Unassisted Pregnancy Journal)

The belly is obvious, and soon I will feel kicking (I usually feel my babies around 16 weeks). I cannot believe the 1st trimester is over already. I was feeling really exhausted and sick, so I am thankful to be mostly back to my normal self again. Of course I am still exhausted, but the typical I-have-four-kids kind.

So far this pregnancy has been totally unassisted. I have never gone 14 weeks without even an official confirmation of pregnancy before. It honestly feels very normal and casual. I can’t relate to the constant worry that many American moms experience during pregnancy, and I myself have felt before. I think perhaps because most women don’t have more than two babies, they never get to the point of “eh, it’s all good”! There are the rare ones who find UC and freebirth with their first baby, and for them I am happy.

My husband wants me to get the anatomy scan at 18 weeks to check on the baby, and he wants to know the sex. We have always found out the sex of babies (girl, girl, girl, boy). I would like a surprise this time! I understand his desire to check out the baby, and I agree to some extent, but I just “know” everything is fine and do not really want to subject myself the medical system for no reason. I have to think about it, and weigh how much it would bother me with how important it is to husband. If I were to go through with the scan, assuming all is well, that would be the first and last assistance I would receive.

The girls are very excited about the prospect of a new baby, and tell me daily they hope it’s twins. I don’t have a feeling it’s twins, even though the belly is bigger than usual at this stage for me, that is probably because it isn’t my first rodeo.

Anyway, happy 2nd trimester to me! (and the baby)

Shalom.

 

5 Reasons Having a Big Family is Good for Kids

I often see in the news that my generation does not want children, and I see this in my life when I reconnect with old school friends. I am definitely in the minority, being married with children. Of those who DO have children, it is rare to find a family with more than two.

I understand there are many reasons women and men have for putting off marriage, and for limiting family size. Most cite their education and career goals as being the priority. Many of them may end up having children later in their 30s, or even 40s as it becomes increasingly common.

But what about the idea that having more than 2 or (gasp) maybe 3 children, harms the children themselves?

“You won’t have enough time for each child!”

“It is too expensive, the kids miss out!”

“You can’t show enough love to each of them!”

“The older kids raise the younger ones!”

“The kids resent their siblings!”

I would like to address these common objections here with experience from my big-but-getting-bigger family of 6 (soon to be 7).

  1. We make time for each child. Sometimes that means scheduling a special mommy/daddy and me day with one child, alternating who it is. During the week, Daddy takes individual kids out for a walk around the neighborhood. They enjoy some time alone, getting all the attention for themselves. I rotate which child goes food shopping with me (they actually love this haha). Also, we homeschool! I spend a lot more time with my children than many parents do for that reason alone, even though I have more of them.
  2. I do not find babies or toddlers to be expensive, they don’t need much and since I have had children already we reuse many of the same items. When they get older and want to participate in activities, it can get costly but this is where we teach them how to think critically about what they want to do the most. This past year classes included dance,music, robotics, and cheerleading for part of the year. This coming year there will be dance, music, choir, cheerleading and STEM. This does NOT include the many free or low cost activities available, often at a steeper discount for siblings. We have a YMCA membership which allow us to swim, and take classes for a low fee or for free. We make serious use our local libraries, who always have fun and free classes for the kids. State parks are favorite as well, and we have some nature loving kiddos. Lastly, many of us homeschoolers get together and make our own fun for free.
  3. Of course we can show enough love for each of them! Our hearts expand with each child. I have a mommy sixth sense for which child needs some extra loving, and make sure to check in with them regularly. We foster trust and communication, so that they can come to us if they need anything, or feel left out. Not only does mommy and daddy give them love but they have the added benefit of many siblings who love them. The older kids adore the hugs and kisses from baby brother!
  4. The older children do NOT raise the younger ones. This accusation often comes when people don’t understand the dynamics of a large family. In order for a bigger family to keep the household running well, everyone pitches in. That includes chores, and helping with the little ones. That said, I feel it is a benefit to give children (including the littlest members) some responsibility. We love each other, and families help one another out. This is our home together, so we all chip in to keep it nice and help each member of the family. I would never give my older kids too much responsibility, and believe me, it is momma alone who is ultimately responsible and takes on the majority of the work. I do not delegate child-rearing to my other children, and much sure that nobody feels like they are being unfairly burdened. They love “babysitting” their baby brother, and enjoy helping him and their sisters.
  5. All siblings get on each others nerves sometimes, but we really make their relationships a priority. They are best friends, and when we take them out individually they always insist on bringing something back for their siblings. I was amazed at how they adored their baby brother, even my toddler followed their lead and never expressed much jealously (unlike when I had two children, and my oldest wanted to return her baby sister). I am expecting their newest sibling in January and they are all very excited to meet the baby, in fact, they keep hoping for TWINS.

So there you have it, I do not buy the what they naysayers are selling. Big families are often close, and homeschooling is something that I believe fosters even closer relationships between siblings (and parents). If your typically sized family is happy as it is, wonderful! But do not allow society to convince you against adding more if it is your hearts desire.

Children are a blessing and a heritage!

Shalom

Unassisted Pregnancy Journal- 12 Weeks “Why an Unassisted Pregnancy?”

How did I come to the seemingly radical decision to avoid all medical assistance during pregnancy? It started 8 years ago.

I am currently 12 weeks pregnant with my 6th pregnancy. I have 4 children, from 7 years old to 20 months. I had a miscarriage two months before my 2nd baby was conceived.

I was 22 years old with my first pregnancy and followed things by the book, more or less. I wanted a natural, vaginal birth but I never considered seeing anyone besides the OB/Gyn I was already seeing before pregnancy for well women care. I never considered a homebirth. I did watch The Business of Being Born and my eyes were opened to the cascade of interventions. I sought to avoid that by talking to my OB, despite his terrible attitude towards me, and writing my birth plan.

Oh, the birth plan! That two page list of wants and do not wants. It was taken from me with a roll of the nurses eyes, and they said “well, we will see how it goes”. I wont get into my whole birth story here, but suffice to say it was traumatic emotionally. I did end up with a vaginal birth, but I didn’t avoid many other interventions.

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My firstborn! Miss Noemi

For my second baby. I decided that I would see midwives. I was taking suboxone (as I had been for years) so they would not do a homebirth for me, not due to any actual increased risks but because of the burdensome laws midwives work under. Many things make a woman “high risk” under the current system, even when it makes little sense and lacks credible evidence. So, a hospital birth it was. I had a bigger room in a different hospital, and I was able to labor in a tub but I found that I preferred land.

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Labor of Love

My midwife made me feel like I was inconveniencing her by coming to the hospital in early active labor, and she didn’t treat me with the warmth I expected. It was far better than my first birth, and I was focused on going through my first all natural labor. Towards the end of my labor, after about 12 hours, I was starting to say “I can’t do this!” (always happens before baby comes!). The midwife suggested she push aside the last bit of my cervix so I could push. I agreed, but once it started and I realized the tremendous pain it was causing me I cried out for her to stop. To my astonishment and hurt, she did not stop. I told her about my history as sexual abuse victim. I told her how my OB forcibly broke my water with my oldest child. Yet, she kept her hand inside of me as I screamed “AMY *(not her real name) STOP!”.

After that I had to get ready to have my baby, because she was coming down the birth canal quickly. I breathed and breathed, and she was born without too much pain although I was stunned by the sheer power of it all. She was my tiny baby, 6lb6oz.

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I tried to minimize and excuse that violation and how I was made to feel like an annoyance. When I realized I was pregnant again, I knew that things had to change. I wasn’t sure who to see, so I went to a new OB practice as I gave myself time to consider my options. I was still talking suboxone, so no midwives would see me at home. And to be honest, I was less than thrilled by my experience anyway.

I had regular prenatal care with a team of OB/Gyns until I was 20 weeks. They started to pressure me about doing the Gestational Diabetes test, that disgusting glucose drink that is worse than soda. I knew I did not have GD, and I knew I was not willing to drink that garbage. I started to think about WHY am I seeing these doctors?

I realized I had NEVER been helped by a doctor during pregnancy. No doctor or midwife did anything to improve my health or my baby’s health. In fact, I had been physically and emotionally injured. It dawned on me all at once that I was doing this solely because society says pregnancy is dangerous and needs to be monitored and overseen by professionals. I realized that it was indoctrinated fear.

My experiences all contradicted this fear, and this belief that pregnancy is a medical condition to be closely monitored. I saw clearly that I was simply a woman who was pregnant, and this was a completely normal and nature state of being. I was not sick, or diseased, or in danger. I did not need help, testing, or assistance. All I received from prenatal visits was stress, which was hardly good for me or the baby.

I left that appointment and told my husband my plan to go unassisted, and have the baby at home unassisted too. He was very supportive. I felt free!

Unfortunately, my little one was facing OP (her face to my front instead of my back). This caused a very long and very painful labor. I had never experienced back labor before, and I had no relief from the severe pain. I managed to endure it for 23 hours, but my mother was very fearful. I cannot blame her for my choice, by any means, but her fear kept rubbing off on me. Finally I checked myself and I was more than 9cm dilated. I knew  my baby was almost here. I could see the worry and concern on my moms face, and she suggested we go to the hospital. I knew that it was either right then, or never, because birth was imminent.

Out of fear, I choose the hospital.

I arrived there with my mom and my husband. I refused their IV and other interventions. The OB was condescending but didn’t fight me. I allowed him to break my water, and immediately my baby was coming down. I was on my back, legs in the air (the typical hospital birth position). I started screaming, really SCREAMING. It was difficult, and everyone was yelling PUSH at me. I pushed as hard as I could, knowing that I was damaging myself in the process. The pain was too severe to insist on changing my position.

The OB yelled at me once again to push, and he pulled on her, and out she came. She was 8lb12oz, my biggest baby by far. She was perfect. Although I had only superficial tearing, not requiring any stitches, my insides hurt badly. I was in a lot of pain, and unable to resume normal sexual activities for 6 months. I knew that being on my back, and forced to push so hard was the cause of my suffering. I resented that, and I was angry with myself for allowing it to happen.

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My Big Beautiful baby girl

My next pregnancy came when my 3rd daughter was two years old. I felt elated to be having another baby. I saw the same OB practice just long enough to get confirmation of pregnancy for his birth certificate, and to get an ultrasound. I found out that we were having our first boy!

I chose to have an ultrasound/anatomy scan, because I wanted to make sure that my baby had no serious health issues before having an unassisted birth. If my baby had a heart defect that needs immediate attention, or some other condition that required medical help, I wanted to know that. Many women having a UP/UC forgo ultrasounds, and that is a perfectly valid choice as well.

My birth with our son was finally, finally, my freebirth! It was everything I knew birth could be. It was a dream come true. I was so excited about it that I told everyone who would listen. You can read about my freebirth story here

After that incredible experience, AND a peaceful pregnancy where I did not have to constantly defend my right to choose my own medical care/refuse testing and interventions; I could not imagine NOT having another UP/UC!

So, really the question is, why NOT have an unassisted pregnancy and birth?

Shalom!

 

 

 

My daughter’s Zoo Birthday Party

My oldest child, Miss Noemi Rose, turned 7! She loves giraffes and all animals, so she asked for a party at the zoo. We went to the Turtle Back Zoo in South Orange NJ. I can’t believe my first baby is 7 now. She is intelligent, beautiful, and a wonderful help to me. I couldn’t ask for a better firstborn 😉

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Birthday Girl

20180421_164706I have to say, the turtle back zoo was really fun and all the kids had a blast. We we definitely be going back to see the animals we didn’t get the chance to see.

Shalom!