So Far, Five Kids is Manageable Chaos

On New Years Day 2019, I gave birth to my fifth baby (and fourth girl!). The immediate postpartum period was difficult for me, because my aunt died of an accidental overdose the same week. I would definitely seek out more support caring for my older children if I could do it over again. Thankfully my depression and anxiety didn’t become too severe, and besides some lingering anxiety, I feel back to my regular self.

Since most American women do not have five children anymore, I don’t have too many local women to look to for advice. I dived into this sort of blindly. So far, it appears that life with five is manageable chaos.

  • There is NO such thing as a “quick trip” to the store. Getting my toddler and baby into and out of their carseats is work enough, but I also have my three girls squeezed in the back of the minivan. They often annoy each other back there, just when I’m unable to quickly pull over! It is actually one of the hardest parts for me personally, the constant in and out of the van for even simple needs.
  • My food bill is scary. I no longer buy organic produce unless it’s on sale (7.99 vs 2.99 for a pack of strawberries!), but there are still 7 people in this house and we EAT. A LOT.
  • Sometimes, everyone goes crazy at the same time. This is when I really feel overwhelmed. This usually happens right after I get a little too cocky thinking “I have this parenting 5 kids thing down! Look at how wonderfully behaved my little cherubs are!” That is when my kids have to remind me how outnumbered I am with the baby needing a bath from a poop explosion, and while I am gone for a few minutes the toddler smears cream cheese all over the couch, and the girls decide to fight over the same barbie despite an ENTIRE BOX full of barbies. Phew.
  • Meal times are crazy. Everyone wants something different, so at least one child is complaining about the meal. Then, it’s like whack-a-mole getting them to stay sitting.
  • Nothing is cheap anymore. A little toy for 5 dollars? Multiply it.
  • Your house is never neat. I sweep, mop, and vacuum. I scrub, clean, and pick up. Someone inevitably spills juice and drags mud across the floor the moment I put the mop away.

But you know what? It’s worth it. Life with five kids is a wonderful, beautiful, love-filled, awe-inspiring, manageable chaotic way of life.

Shalom

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Coping with Post-Partum Blues

I have so much on my heart, but this cloud of sadness and anxiety leaves me in a state of inertia. Wanting to speak, but sitting silent.

My 5th baby is here, and 24 days after I brought her into the world, I’m finally fully bonding with her and feeling some of the cloud lift.

My pregnancy was hard and not very enjoyable. Typically I love being pregnant. So, I waited for her birth.

Her birth came on fast and fierce. She was my fastest labor by far, and I couldn’t shake this feeling of being unprepared. I couldn’t enter into a “birth space” state of mind. My desire was just to get it over with.

Her birth came days after my aunt died suddenly, so I met life and death in the same week. Her first outing was to a funeral.

I didn’t have much of a break before I had no choice but to dive back into life with the kids, and responsibilities.

I usually have at least a few days to enjoy the “cocoon” of just baby, husband and I.

So, I felt the depression sneak up on me. The anxiety started to come over me. I wanted to crawl into bed, put the covers over my head, and leave the world.

Of course, with 5 children this was impossible. Not only that, but with my experience of depression, I knew hiding would only sink me deeper.

Instead of hiding, I reached out. I took a friend’s advice to have skin to skin time with the baby. I took the babies first bath with her. She LOVED the bath! She was so calm and peaceful. It felt like a return to the womb. I drank her in, enjoyed her, focused on her alone. It was then that I was able to open my heart more fully and get to know her.

I also took the advice of many wise women friends who told me to relax, be gentle to myself, and not stress over the laundry or dishes. I had JUST given birth, they reminded me. This helped me to rebuke the thoughts of “you’re a failure” ringing in my head.

Now we are nearing one month post partum and I am connected with my baby girl, and the emotional cloud to getting brighter and lighter every day.

I’m thankful I have learned to always SAY SOMETHING before getting truly depressed. This has saved me from a lot of suffering.

Please reach out if you don’t feel well. Come out of hiding and say something!

Shalom.

Momma, When You Feel “Touched Out”

This is a picture my 6yr old daughter snapped of me breastfeeding my 2yr old son, while heavily pregnant. I love what this picture captures, his smile at me and my joy in him. I also love that my daughter decided to take the photo. But breastfeeding through my 5th pregnancy has been challenging in many ways, especially when it comes to feeling “touched out”.IMG_E0307

 

Sometimes, all I want is for the little ones to not need me so much! 

Sometimes, I have to tell my son “not now” when he asks to nurse (and that is okay too).

Sometimes, I need half an hour to myself without the children on me, before I can relax with my husband.

All of this is true, but I want to remind you touched out mommas (and myself) of some very important things…

  • You are so very important to these little people in your life! Your babies, toddlers, and children need you. There will never be another time when simply being with YOU is so incredibly calming for them. Your touch, your kisses, your milk, your lap; you are giving them the love they need. The world may not recognize the work you are doing, but it is so important. Don’t lose sight of that.
  • The older children are watching you, and your love is a gift to them too. Those of you with children of multiple ages, you are giving them an incredible living example of what loving sacrifice looks like. Every time you rock a crying baby, sooth an upset 3yr old, and nurse a tired toddler. Every time you scoop them into your lap and read them a story. Every time you forget about that tea you had to heat up for the third time, because you were too busy giving. Every time momma, they see it. It matters.
  • It really does not last forever. They will grow taller, leaner, and more self reliant. They won’t wake you up at night to cuddle. They won’t beg you for one more story. They won’t cry for you to carry them on your tired hips. They won’t need your presence the same way they do now. But, these days will have built a solid foundation within them. They will still know and rely on your love, and your strength will become their own. They won’t always need you like this, but your sacrifices will always matter.

It may not seem like much more than a whirlwind of tasks some days. Running from mess to mess, child to child, meeting the needs all around you all the time. You finally fall into some sort of sleep, tired and TOUCHED OUT.

But momma, it IS sacred work. Raising these beautiful babies is a higher calling. It is something pure, wonderful, and holy. Often the most holy moments are caught in the most mundane and routine tasks of care-giving. It is humbling work. It changes you daily, in ways you may not realize just yet.

So, yes, put those feet up when you can. Give yourself time, and rest.

But remember what an important, and fleeting time this is.

Shalom.

 

 

31 Weeks Pregnant Unassisted Journal

I have not been blogging lately. This has been a difficult pregnancy for me. My body seems to be a bit tired, and carrying this 5th baby in 8 years has taken a toll. I have tried to enjoy being pregnant, like I normally do, but it has not been easy. Every day my hips are in quite a bit of pain from SPD, and I am larger than I normally am so my body just generally hurts, and feels uncomfortable.

Yet, I am thankful for the life inside me. I feel the baby moving often, esp at night, big movements from what I suspect is a big baby. A strong baby, halleluYah!

This is the first time I have gone totally unassisted for the entire pregnancy. I went unassisted from around 20 weeks with babies 3 and 4. This is the first time we left the sex of the baby a surprise! I felt very strongly about not knowing this time, which is a strange departure from my usually impatient self.

Taking care of the kids, particularly my 2 year old, has been challenging at times physically.  I have been nursing my toddler this entire pregnancy, which has been difficult and uncomfortable. Dry nursing triggers feelings of nursing aversion, but I have endured it for my son’s sake. I believe breastfeeding tandem with the newborn will help his adjustment period. My daughters are very excited about having a new sibling, and they have been really sweet about helping me most of the time. They treat the baby as their own already, which really warms my heart.

I have been complaining and saying I can’t wait to give birth for so long that it is hard to believe I am getting so close! Now my thoughts are turning towards preparing for the birth, physically and mentally.

Emotionally, I feel very raw lately. I cry over anything sad. I feel sensitive to everyone, those close to me and those far away. I have been avoiding terrible news about wars and children suffering because it feels like a personal affliction. My heart breaks easily over the thought of any child in pain. I know that this is part of the pre-birth period for me. My heart opens before my body opens. Motherhood changes me profoundly, each time. Bringing life into the world causes me to rejoice and mourn with the world. Caring for such an innocent being causes me to feel maternal towards all the earths children. It is a very complex emotional place to be, and painful at times, but I open myself to it and allow it to change me.

31 weeks, count down!

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.

 

New Faith after Shavout

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Our Creator calls us to a life that is not always comfortable. It can be risky. It requires relinquishing a certain amount of control and doing what you know is right instead of what feels safe.

You could lose friends. You could cause family members to question your decisions, responsibility, and even your sanity.

Because living a life of faith doesn’t makes sense in this world.

The Apostle Paul tells us that faith in Messiah Yahushua (Jesus Christ) is foolishness to the gentiles. They think we are fools. We are pilgrims on this earth, yearning for our heavenly home.

Recently, Yahweh has been turning my world upside-down again. You see, I was baptized in a sparkling lake at the age of 21 and my life changed. I passed from death to new life. I became a child of the Most High. But I was still in many ways broken. I have had a walk that isn’t a straight line. I have had years of obedience pocketed by weeks or months of rebellion and confusion. But I am His, therefore he comes for me. I am that 100th sheep who went astray, but I was carried back on His shoulders.

The year of 2015 was a nightmare for me. My little life blew into pieces. My husband became very seriously mentally ill. There was so much pain. Abuse. Devastating loss. And then…

my relapse.

I relapsed mentally. I relapsed with addiction. I relapsed with my faith.

I was terrified. I went into PTSD mode. I lost control.

But in December of this year my husband and I came back to one another, after our own separate painful journey through relapse. My walls were up high. I was determined to take care of myself, and never allow myself to trust him again. I would do it all alone.

I went from a stay-at-home “quiverfull mom” to going to school 5 days a week while my children were in daycare. I missed them badly, and I gave up on my dream of homeschooling. I abandoned my faith community and set out by myself. I made money through my body like I did as a teenager. I convinced myself it was okay. I convinced myself I had to do this for the greater good of finical security. I had to provide for my children. I had to be strong and do it all myself. I told myself that it wasn’t wrong because I was doing what I had to do, given my circumstances.

But not of this was true. Not with Yahweh. I had other options, he always provides another way out. There is always the faithful and obedient choice. I was too scared. I was too damaged. I turned away.

Yet, slowly but surely those walls started to crack.

One day, I allowed myself to open myself up to new life. My husband and I have three little girls, and despite my mind yelling at me all the reasons why it would be horrible to get pregnant. Think of school! Money! Don’t trust anyone! I surrendered to that primal longing for life in my womb, a babe at my breast. And right away, a tiny being buried itself inside of my womb like a seed and blossomed.

Then, daycare didn’t work out my next semester because my work hours were not enough for financial help. I reluctantly and with great trepidation permitted my husband to watch the kids for me instead. I had to trust him. It was really hard.

I worked so hard during that semester, with my dream of becoming an R.N in sight. I did very well, but it cost a lot of time with my children. I could no longer take care of my home.

The Bible has many words of wisdom and commandment for mothers and wives. Many modern women bristle at the idea, but the Bible says we should be “keepers at home”. The famous Psalm 31 describes the wife whose worth is above rubies, and she cares for her home and family diligently.

I wasn’t at home very often, so I certainly couldn’t take care of it or my beloved family within its walls.

That hurt my heart, but still I heard that voice telling me “just push through school” and “you have to do it” and especially “don’t trust your husband, don’t trust Yahweh, trust only yourself”.

Yet, I completed that semester and I was in awe at how joyful it was to be home on break. I started to remember. I remembered what it felt like to take time and put all that effort into making our house and home. Teaching the children. Changing my focus from outside to right here, with my husband and children.

My heart began to soften. Those walls began to really crumble down.

Shavout/Pentacost came, and that longing inside of me grew to epic proportions. Unbeknownst to me my husband was also feeling called back to the walk of faith. We came together, and marveled at how Yahweh had been speaking the same things to us separately.

My husband had a terrible falling out with another man in our faith community while he was sick in 2015. I felt strongly that my husband should talk to him and fix that relationship. I never thought he would do it, because he was still so angry about what he perceived as this brother overstepping his boundaries of his friendship with me while he was gone. Nothing ever happened, but all of the pain from different experiences was put onto this brother.

Amazingly, my husband told me on the very day that I was considering these things that he wanted to call this brother and ask his forgiveness. I was in shock. I was blown away. This was such a major step of faith and we both thought of it at the same exact time. My husband called this brother and they immediately reconciled. All was forgiven. Love prevailed and they could move on.

I cried because it was so beautiful. I was such a revealing moment to me. I could trust Yahweh. He was speaking to us. He was making us into the people we are supposed to be.
Shavout/Pentacost is a time to remember, among other things, how the Israelites agreed to follow Torah and join in covenant relationship with Yahweh. It was when they heard all he had to say and they said “YES”.

YES, we believe.

Yes, we will follow you.

Yes, make us your people,

and you will be our God.

I said that along with them. I decided to let go of the pain. I let go of the FEAR. I let go of the mistrust. I am opening myself again. It is so freeing. The truth sets us free.

Freedom and safety doesn’t come through money, education, or saving for the future. Those things are not wrong or bad, but they can be if they cause us to sacrifice the most important thing; faith and the life we are called for.

I will be a mother of 4 in October of 2016. I will continue to dedicate myself to husband. I will be a better wife. I will stay clean and sober. I will leave fear and mistrust behind. I will live that foolish and peculiar life, in freedom and the shalom/peace that passes all understanding.

Shalom to you all.

Related Scripture Verses

Exodus 19:8 And all the people responded together, “We will do everything the YHWH has commanded.” So Moses brought the people’s answer back to the YHWH.

Titus 2:4,5 …and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled