Thursday, April 16, 2015

40 Weeks and 4 Days Late

Miss Ella Forever with Momma!
Nowhere in my blog have I mentioned the presence of baby #5.  There are a couple very good reasons for this.  1. The last time I had a few hours to myself to sit down and spill my heart onto this screen in the form of letters and words was about a year and a half ago. It was a couple of weeks after that post that we learned that there was to be a #5.  Surprise! 2. Well...she's #5.  That's an explanation in and of itself.  She doesn't have a baby book (yet), she's the most patient baby on the planet because she already has a very good understanding of the concept "waiting in line" and she won't have a birth blog post until today...40 weeks and 4 days after her birth.  This is in no way random.  Today marks the day that she will have been out of my body for exactly (well...approximately; I won't go into the "science" of gestation prediction) as long as she was in.  We'll just tell her that I meant to play it this way. ;)

This story starts 41 weeks and 1 day due date.  July 2nd, 2014.  It was hot, I was tired and VERY pregnant and at that point had been through a couple weeks of contractions that came and went without producing a baby.  I had an appointment that day with my 2 favorite midwives, Deidre and Cynthia.  It was uneventful.  Deidre was going to be making a day trip for the 4th and would be a few hours out of town, so we went over the "what ifs" and backup plans should we need them.  Though I was feeling very ready, I was prepared to go past my due date because that just seems to be how I roll (most literally).  I was really feeling pretty decent for being so pregnant and really wanted that little ball of baby to decide when the right time was to come on her own.  We discussed my next appointment, the following Tuesday, and that Deidre would strip my membranes at that time if I didn't get anywhere on my own by that point.

Fast forward a couple of days and it was the 4th of July.  Would my little firecracker make her appearance that day?  Well, to complicate things, I woke up very early that morning with intense contractions.  They were pretty steadily 10 minutes apart, but were decently uncomfortable.  Deidre called me first thing that morning before she headed on her merry way to see if anything was going on.  I told her what was up, gave her the go-ahead to head out of town and we, again, went over back up plans.  Because of my rotund state, our 4th of July plans included a small gathering at our place, mostly with people that were planning on being there for the birth, anyway. I spent my day leisurely cleaning and prepping for our guests and potential arrival for baby girl and every so often paused to breathe through a contraction.  Family arrived that evening and we had dinner.  J grilled and every one else brought the sides, so I did approximately nothing, which was more than fair, given my state. We ate and joked and I winced here and there as a reminder that things were still going on in there, but contractions were still no closer together, just strong.  The boys (big and small) put on a pretty great fireworks show out on the dirt road in front of the house, most of which I watched through windows snuggling with a soon to be 2 year old Squeaky D and soon to be 3 year old Jilly Bean who were just a touch spooked by the artificial thunder.  We put the kids to bed, I responded to a couple of texts from Deidre that I was no closer to the end than when she had left that morning and we went to bed.

The next morning, Saturday, the 5th, brought more of the same.  Still strong contractions, but way spread out.  So, I grabbed Griffin and Stella, our trusty canines and took off for a long morning walk to see if I could get them to come together.  about a minute into the walk I got a REAL contraction and kept on.  They started coming and fast, but I didn't have a watch to time them...this was it!  I was going to make this happen! Once I rounded the corner at the 1/2 mile mark, however, they had pretty much stopped completely.  I kept on, willing them to come back, but no luck.  I texted J at a mile, before I turned back for home, that I was pretty sure that I would be pregnant forever and I begrudgingly headed home, having chased those hopeful contractions away.  For the rest of that day I went about my business and had a contraction here and there, but nothing that made me feel like I was anywhere close to delivering a baby.

That night was a rough night.  I woke up multiple times to strong contractions, but it was the same story.  They were just close enough to keep me from getting any rest, but just wouldn't come together.  I sluggishly got moving that morning...41 weeks and 4 days.  Why I am I still in this position?  J and I wrangled the kids into their dress clothes and headed to church.  I wrestled Declan through Mass and took note of each and every contraction that pulsed through.  I answered every well-meaning question from my fellow church-goers..."where is that baby?"...with an internal eye roll and a "nothing yet...any moment now would be great!"

Shortly after we got home I got a text from Deidre saying, "Well?? LOL" I relayed that nothing had changed.  I was still having contractions, but they just wouldn't come together and I was still hanging out in the no-man's land of possibly the longest early labor ever (I might have a knack for exaggeration). She suggested a few things...I will spare you the gory details, but she was convinced it wouldn't be long if I could jump-start things.  I followed her orders and waited.  Just before 5:30 that evening I texted her that I thought I might be progressing.  I'd had contractions at a consistent 10 minute interval for a couple of hours at that point.

We fixed and ate dinner, got the kids all bathed and in pajamas and J started a movie for them.  I told J that I thought I should go for a walk to try to keep contractions coming.  He, being the one who worries for both of us because I'm missing that gene (thanks, Mom), protested, so I told him I would just take laps around the house, so I would never be more than feet away from one door or another.  And laps I first the dogs excitedly accompanied me with a bounce in their steps, bounding around every corner.  After the 20th or so lap, their bounce slowed to a trailing plod, but they always faithfully followed.  My contractions didn't really seem to be increasing with all of the walking, so I finally threw the towel in and headed inside.  I paused on the floor of the TV room and watched my other 4 babies enthralled with their movie, mouths gaping before I told J that I was going to take a shower and nothing had changed.  Famous last words!

It was about 7:30 pm when I trudged up the stairs only to get to the top and find myself doubled over (as much as my pregnant belly would allow me to double over, anyway) from the most intense contraction I had felt yet.  I waited for it to subside and felt renewed with hope that this was the beginning of the end.  I undressed, and had a couple more intense contractions.  J walked in at that point and I relayed to him that there was a sudden increase in intensity and frequency and I gave him a thumbs up.  I detected a small wince from him and that familiar look of questioning my laboring sanity (my decisions during labor are sometimes questionable).  I knew he was concerned he would be delivering this baby on our kitchen floor alone and I promised him that I would take a quick shower and call Deidre immediately if they were still going strong after. They most definitely were, but Deidre must have felt it because there was a text from her waiting for me when I got to the phone just before 8 pm.  Knowing how quickly I progress when it finally comes together, I told her she should probably think about heading this way.  She said she would have to wait for Cynthia to get to her place if I thought I was OK with that and then start on the 45 minute journey here.  I thought that should be fine.

Just breathing...
During all of the back and forth, J had gotten all of the kids to bed and jumped in the shower himself and I plopped myself on the couch, determined not to move at all until assistance was there.  I was suddenly worried that I had once again pushed it too far and misread how far along I was.  Would they get here in time?  Contractions were at a very short 2-3 minutes apart and they were monstrous.  Somewhere in there I had called in my personal reinforcements and my momma (Gigi), stepdad (Papa), aunt (Nana), sister (Adrienne) and nephew (Liam) arrived just before 9 pm.  We laughed and excitedly gabbed between contractions and then the room would fall silent as my face scrunched up with pain and I would sway with J, while he held me up in the TV room.  Deidre, Cynthia and crew showed up right around 9:15 and immediately went to work up in our bedroom where we had planned for the birth to happen.  J was in and out helping them to get things unloaded and set up and I found myself handling a very intense contraction alone.  I rested my knees on the couch and leaned over the back, swaying and then POP!  I was instantly soaked and let out a squeal and an explanation that my water had just broken.  I waddled across the TV room to get to the kitchen and off of carpet, while Cynthia and J came to the rescue with Towels.  Moments later I heard Deidre yelling down the stairs to "get her up here now...she goes fast when that water breaks!"  J and Cynthia helped me up the stairs as I vaguely recall hearing everyone bustling around to grab cameras and start moving up the stairs as well.

My knight in shining armor
Once there, in the coziness of our own room, contractions were awful, as they always are without the protection of that bubble steel on steel. J was always there to talk me through it and Deidre was her usual cool, calm voice of reassurance.  She offered to check and see how far along I was, so I sat in the birth chair they had set up and she announced that I was 7 cm and thin.  I remember feeling such disappointment and a moment of despair thinking I would never make it another 3 cm.  And then that little voice of experience showed up in my head, reminding me that just when I think I can't do it anymore is when it's almost over.  I stayed seated and Deidre coached me through a few small pushes to progress my dilation.  Though very distracted, I do remember X-Man and Gokey arriving with Gigi and Nana...they desperately wanted to be there for the arrival of their new baby sister, so they had awakened them for the event.  We had been through many, many conversations about how it would all go down, but they arrived right when I was in the most pain and I think that was a little much for them.  They decided to wait with Papa downstairs for a bit.  J had been coaching me from my side, but Cynthia asked him if he was "ready" and he was suddenly there in front of me, kneeling.  Cynthia coached him through his job as "catcher".  He was a natural...he would go from small-talk and banter when I was feeling good between contractions to a resolved voice of encouragement and admiration at the peak of my pain.  My births have all been amazing (all  births are, aren't they?) and it seems each one has topped the last, but this moment was THE most stunning, amazing, phenomenal moment I have experienced yet.  I'm not sure it can be topped! I pushed and heaved while he gently grasped and helped her twist...she was this amazing, slimy current of life and fire that connected us both as she slipped from my body into his steady hands all while he spouted what I needed to hear in that moment of torment and darkness just before the rainbow.  It was beautiful, in all it's blood and gore.  In a room full of people there was a moment where there was just the three of us.

And then her writhing, pink body was plopped onto my chest and all was right with the world!  She, of course, was perfect and the boys returned to the room with Papa to meet her, just about as brand-spankin' new as possible.  Logan was especially enamored and stayed by my side for the next half hour at least while we admired her tiny toes and helped her to latch and nurse for the first time.  There was so much love in the room!

Eleanor Jane Kneuper was born at 10:08 pm on July 6th, 2014 and came in at 8 lbs 2 ounces (the same as her admiring brother, Logan) and was 20 inches of pure perfection long.  She has been FAR more enjoyable for the 2nd 40 weeks and 4 days that she's been with us in comparison to the first.  She is very rarely anything but happy, so easy going and greets everyone with a smile.  AND somehow she is ginger #3.  Still don't know how we have managed that. Despite being the 5th in line and sometimes the details falling through the cracks, she is most definitely the baby and doted on endlessly.  Thank you for making our family better, Ella Forever!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Little House on the Prairie

I know that I owe my two youngest children a birthday post a piece, but I thought I should write this post first, explaining WHY I am three months late on those posts with another looming this weekend.   J and I are not city people.  We have always lived in cities or towns, and never known otherwise, but we always knew that deep down inside...we were country folk.  Fairly early on in our dating career (it was long enough to be a career) we would dream about the little piece of world that we would inhabit someday and when we were married, we talked about it being our "10 year plan".  Well, it's only been 7 and, in all actuality, I really thought in this last year that we were probably on a 20 year plan if we were being realistic.  We had a nice house that we had done a ton of work to, we loved our house (with the exception of views of our neighbors' yards and dining rooms) and we had 4 very young kids, the oldest about to start school in a great district.  And then we watched houses all over our neighborhood going on the market and flying back off the market again.  A coworker of J's who lived just up the road sold his house in 5 days!  So...we talked about it for a few months and perused houses in the area on acreage.  This was actually doable!  We finally succumbed to the itch and called a highly recommended realtor in our area at the beginning of July and she got the ball rolling for us.

Our house officially went on the market on July 8th.  That began the that time we fell in love with an old, old farm house and it was snatched up immediately while our house sat.  We had several showings, which I might add, is a TON of fun to prepare for when you have a gaggle of little bitties.  The very first showing came 3 short days after our house had first been listed.  The buyers' agent had requested the showing overnight and so our realtor called at 7:30 a.m. to give us a heads up since she knew I would need the biggest jump I could get to undo the chaos that surely is my daily reality.  They were to arrive at 11 a.m., and it just so happens that my brother-in-law was visiting and this was the ONE morning that I had destroyed the kitchen making pancakes for everyone.  We shoved breakfast down, my brother-in-law got on the road to head back home and I went to work like a madwoman!  About 30 minutes before we were supposed to be out of the house, X-man came in from the backyard where he and Gokey and Jilly were playing and said that Gokey needed help.  "If you haven't noticed, I'm a tad bit busy...what does he need?"  Long story short, he crawled down into the window well to "rescue" a toad and then when he went to climb the ladder back out, he noticed a spider on one of the ladder rungs and was terrified to scale it.  In comes Mom to the rescue with a very busy Squeaky D strapped to my back in his carrier (no sense in cleaning when he is on foot in the house).  I pleaded with the terrified kid to just climb back up and stick to the side opposite where the spider was.  No go.  So then I take a good look and notice that the spider is, in fact, very dead and hanging from a web there.  "Look,'s dead!  Just climb up!"  "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!"  So, I end up lying on my belly, baby on my back, stretching my arm as far into the well as possible, begging this kid to grab on so I can lift him out, all the while envisioning these people arriving to look at our half-cleaned house with a crazy woman and her insane kids covered in mud out back.  I did finally get him out and finished up my cleaning and ushering of children out of the house for the showing to happen.  It wasn't THE house for them, but we got very good, positive feedback from them and we continued to wait.

We were a little disappointed over the next 2 weeks as we didn't get a ton of action, but on July 30th we received a VERY good offer and after 24 hours of back and forth we settled on a contract for very near our asking price...a short 3 weeks after putting it on the market!  Then the panic set in!  I think I had kind of deluded myself into thinking that this was all just a fun experiment and selling would never really happen, but in fact, these people were very intentional! :) Part of their contract was that the closing date needed to be on August 29th as that was when they would be closing on the sale of their current house.  So the hunt for our perfect slice of the world rocked into full gear.  Our realtor began sending us lists of homes to look at.  There were a lot of "that looks OK", but none that just wowed us, but we began setting up showings.  And then one came was one that I had seen listed for quite some time, but the location had always made me write it off.  I thought it was just too far out of range considering the commute J would have to conquer daily.  But when the list was sent to J and I, he immediately fell in love with the house and began stalking it.  By the time he came home that day, he had Google Earth views of the land and plans for what we could do with it.  We also mapped his commute and found that it was really no farther time-wise than many of the other nearer homes we had looked at because of its close proximity to a main highway versus miles and miles of dirt roads to battle. It was also an old, old farm house built in 1902 and it was near a small town very close to where I grew up.  It was also priced very low compared to many of the other homes we were looking at, which did make me slightly nervous. we went to see it in person.  I would say we fell in love!  Not so much with the home in its current state, but with the potential!

The view out our OLD front door
Short story long (I'm a master at this), we did it!  It was a long 30 days filled with anxiety over appraisals and inspections and mortgage lenders who couldn't get their act together and finding the best lender EVER (talk to me if you need recommendations for lenders or realtors) and packing and cleaning and late school enrollments and trying our best to parent and prepare our littles in the midst of more chaos than is normal even here.  And, you know what?  We survived and here we are in this little piece of Heaven that we call Home.  Not a day has gone by, despite old, creaky floors and more crickets than you have EVER seen and drafty doors and dying furnaces and allergy attacks that never happened when we were city folk...that I haven't declared how much I LOVE this place!  I love looking out my bedroom window and seeing a Kansas Sunset with nothing but trees, farm fields and sky to distract me from the spectacle.  I love stepping out onto my rickety old front porch in the morning and feeling the warmth of the sun on the old wood beneath my feet and hearing the songs of a hundred different birds, roosters crowing and cows mooing in the distance.  I love watching the kids run without boundaries and making discoveries they never knew existed in our own yard.  I love the 4 million lady bugs that inhabit every leaf around our house and to hear Jilly's delight EVERY time she captures one of the poor creatures.  I love the bucket of rain boots I get to put next to the back door in the mud room inviting little feet to slip them on and take off to find their next adventure.  The only part of our old house that I miss isn't even something that is truly tangible.  I did shed a few tears driving away for the last time thinking about how I brought home two babies to that house and gave birth to one there.  Not something that I can bottle and take with me, but something that tied a lot of emotion to that home.  It was a good house...and served its purpose well and we grew our family and love there, but I think here is where we will see that love and family truly blossom.  We are in our element and I cannot wait to make our memories here!  We are truly blessed...
Evening view out our bedroom window

Entry hallway

White board for coloring in our Breakfast nook/play room

The flowers we picked in our OWN yard!

The boys...who knows? Admiring the sky?

Stella with her stick
Declan with Stella's stick :) 

Wonder how far I could get before they
catch me?

The magic of baling hay!
Sitting on our very first hay bale! :)

View toward the house form the driveway

View away from the house from the driveway on "Fire Night"

How we roll in the country!

Our little Tarzan!
Itty bitty toad!
Lady Bug!

The only neighbors we can see

Too much fun in the mud :)
I'll spare you the pics of him stripped
down to hose him off! Haha

J gettin' busy!  A little heavy landscaping
Chainsaw is pretty cool, but it's a little loud too!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Swimmy Swam!

Most of my days start with this question: "What are we gonna do that's fun today, Mom?"

I think X-man jolts from his slumber daily wondering what adventures we are going to encounter.  Mom, however, after a night trying to soothe a sleepless Jilly Bean and then encountering a trembling dog pile of kids in my bed after a GIANT bolt of lightening shook the earth at 4 a.m....well, all she wants is a big fat nap.  It seems, though, that adventure finds us and probably for the better.  Stumbling upon "Swimmy" in the middle of an empty road on the way back from a quick errand this morning was just the adventure the boys needed and gave me a little pep to keep me moving until naptime...a caffeine stand-in.

You can probably see how Swimmy got his name.  He was neatly tucked inside of his thick shell, far from swimming territory when I drove over him and a lightbulb clicked on.  What a needed distraction! I whipped the van around and parked in the middle of the road, hazards flashing.  The kids were alarmed and questioning their mother's sudden insanity as I jumped onto the road and scooped up the poor, startled slider.  I poked him through the van door to show the kidlins, planning on giving them a quick look and then escorting him to the other side of the road to avoid the dangers that were awaiting him on his journey.  It was X-man's amazed voice that changed the plan, "I've never seen a REAL turtle so close!"  Really?  Could that be possible with ME as his mother???  Well, in that case, we should just take him home and "science" him for a little bit before we find him a new, more suitable habitat than the middle of a road.  I should explain that X-man uses "science" as a verb in place of "study".  Just another of his little way of saying things that I cannot bear to correct yet.  So, Swimmy joined us on our short drive home.

We spent a just a little bit "sciencing" him in the back yard when we got home.  He wasn't really into showing off much, but they all got a kick out of touching his tough shell and even Stella enjoyed a sniff.  He did poke his front feet out a couple of times and if he thought you were reaching in toward his head he would tuck it even further back while opening his mouth.  X-man searched frantically for some earthworms to try to feed him, but came up empty handed and then we left him to sit in the grass for a bit in the yard while we ate some lunch.  The most movement we observed was his little head poking out, surveying the foreign, manicured lawn before him as we ate.

I promised them that we would take him down to our little neighborhood pond after lunch was cleaned up to introduce Swimmy to his new home.  Their excitement was boundless and there were several arguments over who was going to carry him on the way.  It was agreed that X-man would carry him for the first half of the trip and Gokey would take over from there.  Two times on the way through the house to the front, however, X-man threw the poor creature to the floor when he flipped his clawed feet out as if to assist in the reckless flight through the house, so his turtle carrying privileges were revoked and Gokey, very seriously picked up the task.  We loaded our red wagon with infant and toddler, X-man dutifully pulled brother and sister and Gokey pulled up the rear with Swimmy carefully clutched.

There was a bit of a squabble over who was going to set Mr. Swimmy free, but after reminding them that he may really start moving his little legs when the water got close, both boys chickened out and I had to heroically step in.  Gokey was my cameraman to record the epic event...he may need a bit more training!?  All in all, Mr. Swimmy made for quite the adventure and taught a good lesson in helping out where help is needed.  Being able to science a turtle for an hour or so was pretty cool too. :)  Thanks for the lift, Swimmy!

Jilly with a lure she found that needed
rescuing :)
More Cheesy D!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Summer Summer Summertime!

Declan's new cheesy smile...he flashes this mug anytime the camera is pointing in his direction!
School is out, the sun is shining, we've dodged tornadoes and are doing our best to enjoy some early June PERFECT weather now.  Summertime is upon us in Kansas and we are loving every (almost) second.  Just had to share a few pictures of my little cuties soaking in the sunshine and good times. :)

Who doesn't think that ice cream is one of summer's most iconic mascots.  My little crew had a sampling today and definitely left the evidence behind.  Thank goodness for hoses! :) 

Give it back!!!

We finally got the whole family out on our bikes now that Gokey is an ol' pro on his big boy bike.  This was Jilly's and Squeaky D's first ride in the trailer!

Happily Ever After!