Sunday, July 24, 2016

the day(s) that crazy made

Greetings from the beautiful land of free babysitters and cakes. We are now residents of Virginia and have finally closed on our house, but it didn't happen quickly or easily and so in true blogger fashion I am here to back track and go into story-telling mode in case you're in between novels.

Let's go back to the days following baby Fred's baptism, because that will be nice and chronological and neat. So little Fred was baptized and life promptly went nuts. My mother-in-law left and intense packing commenced since our move was 2 weeks away.

Fred has been a bit of a screamer and does NOT prefer to be put down and expresses his preference in the form of blood curdling screeches that make all parties present pretty sure that they're heads are going to explode, so I packed up the remainder of the house with him in the moby wrap. No exaggerating there, I promise.

Once the house was all in boxes, the next step was the actual move, which began on July 12, also known as the Craziest Day in the History of days. Only a little exaggerating there.

It began just fine at the crack of dawn after a night of barely sleeping and mostly nursing, but after a 6 a.m. run to McDonalds for coffee I felt like I could manage. My sweet, dear friend Jen let me and the kids camp out at her house for the morning while the movers packed the trucks, for which I am eternally indebted to her because she already has 5 kids and was a veritable peach about doubling the number for an indefinite amount of time. Seriously a peach.

The day got crazy after we left. Mike said the movers were about 30 minutes away from being done and after driving past some road work and having our van splattered with loads of mud I thought that taking the kids through the car wash would be a fun time killer.

Off to the wash we trotted with Fred SCA-REEEEMing in the back, but I was sure the car wash would lull him. And it did! But then the wash was over and he was back to his head-exploding-level-scream and the movers were not done yet so we pulled off into a parking lot so I could nurse him. I had to get out of the van to get him out and bring him to the passenger seat to feed him and as I went around the back of the van....

Wait what is that....

IS IT?!?!


YOU HAVE GOT TO BE FLIPPING KIDDING ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A giant piece of the back bumper was literally hanging off and cracked from the car wash. I had held my hormonal, sleep deprived self together up until this point, but I no longer could I stood in this random church parking lot weeping while the kids gawked and asked copious questions about what on earth had happened.

I sped back to the car wash and demanded to talk, or rather, cry-at the manager who sent me across town to their shop to see if they could fix it but I couldn't find it and Fred was at his breaking point (ok, he is always at his breaking point in the car seat). I gave up and went to our not-home to cry-at Mike, who quickly helped me to calm down and got the cracked piece back into place and assured me that we could still drive with it like that and so we commenced moving with a broken car.
(It's still not fixed but the car wash has promised to cover it, for fear of their heads being bitten off.)
We looked at our South Bend house one last time and I cried more because I just couldn't stop.

The next 24 hours were fine, we stayed in the Ville on our way and finished the drive to VA the next day and then the crazy picked up again in the form of:

1) Our realtor calling when we were an hour outside of the town we were moving to to tell us that the sellers of our home could not close the next day, which is what we planned our entire trip around..........

2) walking into the the house for the walk-through and finding that they had painted the entrance and formal living area hot pink (?!?!?!?!?!)......

with a side of bright green in the formal dining area. They were previously cream colored.

And then...
3) during our stay at the not-so-Quality-Inn having a man literally busted INTO our room at 10 p.m. for reasons still unknown to me and Mike.

To give you a little idea of the caliber of this particular hotel, upon witnessing several heavily tattooed men out on the balcony of the hotel with shirts off drinking beer, Bernadette remarked
"Hey! That take-off-shirt-man has LOTS of stamps!".
Yes he did, and we will pick a better hotel the next time.

You can bet that there were a good many more tears produced by these ducts that day because while wall color ain't no thang to most normal people, when you're postpartum and hormonal, surprise horrid wall colors can be the BIGGEST thing.

But now we are over a week out, we've officially closed on the house, we've been so warmly welcomed by the amazing community here AND Mike is out as we speak buying a normal wall color to repaint our living-dining monstrosity this week, putting my crazy-mind at easy in a huge way. He is the most amazing man in the world.

And that is that. We are here. The craziness has calmed and this house is perfect for us, especially our kick-ass new yard.

Thank you for the constant encouragement and prayers, you are all simply fabulous.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Freddie's Best Day Ever

8 days after little Freddie exited the womb, he entered the Catholic Church, Keeping th
ings ultra-exiting for us and him.

While this is the earliest we've ever done a baptism, in my opinion it couldn't have happened soon enough. I never thought I'd be the type to want to baptize my children so early, but ever since we started having babies, as soon as they come out I just feel this urgency to get the baby baptized! It might have something to do with the fact that I married a Thomas Aquinas-loving theologian. Might.

The day was really beautiful from the start. We went for what might end up being our last ever nursing home visit. We've been going every Saturday for about 2 years, baring big schedule conflicts or sickness, and it is really sad and strange to be saying goodbye knowing that we will likely never see these friends again, not on earth at least.

This was their first time meeting baby Freddie and it's safe to say that this group of elderly folks does not discriminate in their love for and joy at brand new life.

We're so grateful for the time we've had with these wonderful people and that we got to introduce them to Fred the day he was baptized,

We had approximately 1 hour from the time we got home from the nursing home to when we needed to be at the church and I'd call it a baptismal-day-miracle that we succeeded. This was our first ever Saturday baptism and while it was nice to not have to wrangle kids through Mass AND a sacrament, it was rough having the same preparation 2 days in a row between the baptism and Sunday Mass. You win some you lose some.

My little sis and Mike's little bro came in to be the godparentals and even though he was already planning on coming back to the states, it sounds super cool to say that Fred's godfather came all the way from Russia!

And look at that godmother pride! Get at that ear-itch, Ana.

My parents also made the trip in, even my mother who had already been in town the week prior to help me maintain sanity immediately following Freddie's birth. She's a saint, that Karen.

I forgot to count how many children were present but they took up all the chairs in the baptistry an were amazingly well behaved.

Thanks to Katrina (who also snapped some of the pictures here, best friend ever!) we were able to have the after party indoors instead of outside in the 90 dregree heat. We kept it small and simple and it was perfect.

It didn't feel that overwhelming doing the baptism this early, which I am chalking up to the fact that I still had all those good-feeling hormones circulating and was still in the baby-moon phase of postpartumdom. I just went ahead and embrased the postpartum bump and the fact that I would absolutely be wearing a maternity dress to the baptism, and rejoiced in the fact that I still had help around so that I oculd lay down and rest in the afternoon after the festivities. 

We have had 4 out of our 5 babies baptized at this parish and it leaves me a bit of a weepy wreck to think that this was our last, so I'll just go ahead and wrap up here. All in all, it was a really beautiful day.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

All Hail the Birth Story (the Birth of Fred Bernard)

Alternate titles include:
- The Tale of the Lazy Uterus
- The Little Uterus That Could
- The Early Dilation Station and
- That Time I said "Screw it, we're going to the hospital"

It was hard to choose, but life is hard sometimes.

I had gotten to the point in the pregnancy, which is always around 36 weeks, where I was clicking on every single link to every single birth story I saw on the web. I was navigating to various favorite blogs searching through their archives to read birth stories. I do it every pregnancy, it's weird but it is some how cathartic for me and I think I thought it might just bring on labor. It did not.

I was also at the point in pregnancy, where-- after my 36 week OB visit when they declared me "3 to 3.5 cm dilated already"-- I was mentally mapping out what my birth story would be like for each life situation every single day. At the check out line in Walmart, at Sunday Mass, out at the park with the kids, while getting my traditional late pregnancy pedicure-- every single thing I did I thought "what if my water broke now, that would be a cool birth story". In the end the story really isn't that cool at all, but a baby came out of it so it must be told!

A standard disclosure: before you continue reading, as with all birth stories, this story will include various terminologies that may make some readers uncomfortable, the high usage of the word "uterus" already should give you clue.  There's more where that come from. Onward.

So yes, 36 weeks, 3 centimeters dilated, some early labor contractions but nothing too crazy. I was doing nothing whatsoever this entire pregnancy that would bring on early labor, I literally napped every single day and when I wasn't napping I was sitting on a couch as much as I could. Fifth pregnancy fatigue is no joke. So hearing that my body still decided to get ready for labor so early was a little frustrating. Because here's a little tidbit you might not know about the baby being that low that early: it feels like the baby is going to fall out. It's super weird and uncomfortable and it only got more intense as the baby grows.

By my 37 week visit I was at 4 centimeters and having loads more timeable hard contractions, which is a little frustrating while taking care of 4 kids all day every day. Every load of laundry I did I hoped it would be my last load of laundry while pregnant, same with grocery trips, toilets cleaned, meals cooked. I was just getting tired of doing all these things while having so much early labor.

Ista-proof of my misery

By 38 weeks I was feeling really fed up. We were thisclose to heading to hospital on the evening that I turned 38 weeks (birthday language? I don't know). I had gagged down some caster oil that morning to see if it would stir things up, but then I just threw most of it up and it only made contractions pick up a little.

Cue 38 weeks, 2 days pregnant and the day of my 38 week OB visit. I had big plans to go walking before hand and then beg her to check me to see if all these contractions were doing anything. I thought I might even ask her about stripping my membranes (grossest sounding thing ever!!) but I figured she wouldn't before 39 weeks. We were also going to go ahead and set up a 39 week induction  as a worst case scenario because we are moving in 2.5 weeks and I really needed to be on the other side of labor and recovering before starting to pack and move boxes and what not. Plus I was already so dilated and having so much early labor that waiting any longer 39 weeks was simply not going to happen.

So I did some pre-OB visit walking and contractions were about 4-6 minutes apart for the hour leading up to the visit. The doctor came in to see me and check to see if I was still progressing. The verdict?

5 cm and a "laboring cervix", whatever that means. But! All contractions had stopped as they always did and was a tad discouraged at the fact that I still might have to wait a week for an induction while sitting at 5 cm because my stupid little uterus was too lazy to just keep on contracting. It was like it hadn't gotten the memo from my cervix that there was a party and it was invited.

So I asked her about the "Stripping of the Membranes", and almost without a pause she said "sure". Let's just say it was as uncomfortable as it makes you feel when you say it and leave it at that. I called my mom on the way home to tell her the state of things, and being the on-the-ball-lady that she is, she swung home on her lunch break and packed her car to be able to leave after work. She is a true gem.

After that the contractions were twice as strong as before, but, wait for it... still not regular! By 1 o'clock that afternoon they had completely stopped and I was back to my standard afternoon-pool-of-tears self declaring to Mike that this was just not ever going to happen. I laid Joe down and cued up a Disney movie for the girls and laid down to nap, per the daily usual. I might have even dozed off but then a hard contraction woke me up and it hit me: if I go to the hospital, they are not going to send me home. Screw it, we're going.

I went and told Mike, called our sweet sitter and my mom and we got last minute stuff ready to head out to the hospital. At this point I think my uterus had finally gotten the invitation to the labor party and I was having pretty consistent contractions while trying to get out the door, but any other day of the week that would have just meant that they would stop the second we were sitting in the car. But not this time!

On the way to the hospital I had at least one contraction that I had to breathe through and where I did NOT think Mike's mid-contraction jokes were funny. That was a good sign and a few more of those before we got to triage brought me some hope that maybe, just maybe, this was the real deal. And it turns out, it was. Around 4:30 and after some monitor time with consistent hard contractions they punched my ticket and got me into a room and ready for my sweet, sweet epidural.
Smiling because I know the meds are on their way
While Mike updates the masses on our situation

By 6 p.m. the epidural was in and kicking and the staff let me know that my doctor had a c-section at 7:30 and that she would be coming in after that to break my water. So I sat and labored peacefully until 8:45 when she came in to check and see where things were at and...
still at 5 cm.

Mike and I started to worry a little at this point since 4 hours of very active labor hadn't moved me from 5 cm but my doctor seemed unconcerned. She broke my water and did some fancy shmancy labor position called a Texas roll, first on my right for 30 minutes and then over to my left for 30 minutes. By the end of the second 30 minute stretch I felt like it was pushing time so she checked me again and...
Whoa! There's a head!

The doctor didn't even have me move from my side-- she suited up, got ready and we waited for one more contraction and that is all it took.

One contraction, 3 pushes and out came baby Fred, with an umbilical chord wrapped around his little neck twice very tightly. After some working with him and some mild motherly panicking he finally pinked up and started crying and once they got him up on my chest he showed himself to be the most over zealous freshly birthed nurser I've had yet.


This morning was the morning I was scheduled to be induced but I think I got the better end of the deal: 5 days out and recovering better than last time for sure, with a sweet newborn to hold while typing a fairly uneventful birth story.

Hospital Highlights:

 First and most glorious hospital meal // Dinner (or lunch) for two care of the cafeteria // She takes awkward selfies in peace and quiet // A delicate blend of milk chocolate and baby

Now go read Sheena's if you haven't already!!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

happy father's day

She's fresh out of the hospital and fraught with all sorts of excitement over not being pregnant and drowning in new-baby hormones, someone get that keyboard away from her...

Seriously though, I'm feeling all sentimental and overflowing with gratitude this father's day, and since I'm following Blythe's advice and mostly staying in bed, what better time than now to post a little tribute to the main father in my life, the one who just helped me birth him another son, the best man I know, the best father I know.
           ^baby Joe

Before we had our first baby, I loved him, but since knowing your husband before he's a dad and knowing him after is like being introduced to a whole other person, I just had no idea how much becoming parents would cause our love to grow, and how much more I could fall for him.
   ^baby Naomi

I remember him saying- in the days following Naomi's birth- that while he was in class during day and away from her, he felt like he had a crush on someone that he could not wait to get to see later- it was the cutest thing ever.
    ^baby Lucy

He lays down his life for us daily, sacrificing constantly to care for me and our children. He is a firm disciplinarian, but still manages to be the "fun parent", the one who can always make them laugh.

    ^Naomi & baby Bernadette

On Thursday when they placed little Fred on my chest I saw his eyes light up the exact same way they did when our very first baby was placed there- he has such intense and beautiful love for each of his children, and I am the luckiest woman ever to have him as my husband and their dad.

  ^baby Freddie

Happiest Father's Day to you, Mike! (you're also the hottest dad out there, hands down ;) )

Saturday, June 18, 2016


He's going on his second full day of life here on earth and still no blog introduction, to which I have to say #fifthchildproblems.

We are home and happy and healthy and feeling so very blessed. Thank you all for your many well wishes and prayers, I promise to be back with many more pictures and updates.

Consider yourselves warned.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

the last days

How's that for a melodramatic title? I've never been one to disappoint in the melodrama arena, this post is sure to follow suit.

These are the last days of my pregnancy with baby number five, and they happen to be coinciding closely with the last days of life here in Indiana. We've made it through 2 grad school programs, purchased and sold a home here, birthed (almost) 5 babies here, lived almost 8 years of our married life (all of our married life actually) here and now as we wrap up a pregnancy and welcome our 5th child, we say goodbye to the place that has been our home. Such a good home.

Just like the end of pregnancy, the last days living in this place are paradoxically extremely stressful and frustrating, and beautifully, wonderfully sweet.

Some days all I can focus on is all the little messes that the kids are making in this home which is no longer only ours anymore, and which we are attempting to keep semi-undestroyed before the new owner moves in. Then other days all I care about is soaking up every single moment here, and all I can do is smile while I watch them throw their Popsicle sticks all over the yard. Because it's still ours, and what a good yard it's been to us.

Some days pregnancy pulls me down to the pits of despair and all I can focus on is how enormously huge I feel and how insanely stressed I am at the thought that it could happen that no one would be available to watch our kids when labors strikes (how do you moms with no family in town handle this??).

Other days I whisper to tiny baby to just stay put for as long as he likes while I marinate in this being how things are: Joe still the baby, 3 wonderfully sweet little girls to be his little mamas, me nice and round and happily gestating. It doesn't need to change, it will all fly way too fast once baby is out and I'm in no rush.

In a lot of ways our last days here in South Bend are exactly like the last days of a pregnancy: full of excitement at the thought of a new place, of life changing in huge ways and being equal parts wonderful and stressful and different and fun but so hard.

The expectation of a new baby never gets old and I still feel the same apprehension and excitement that I felt when I was waiting to give birth to Naomi. How will nursing go? What will this baby look like? How will he change our lives? What will our new home be like? What will life be like in a new state with a new job and how will it simultaneously bless and stretch our family?

It's all hitting me all at once and for the most part it's just way too much to try to process mentally let alone bang out on the blog. But that's never stopped me from trying before, so there you have it.

If you need me I'll be coping on the couch with my bowl of peanut butter chocolate iced cream while I hide from the kids.

Friday, May 20, 2016

for sale signs and baby bumps {7 QT}

Welp, it looks like blogging in the thick of a super-high-stress time of life is good medicine for making things happen, so I'm linking up with Kelly to over-update the masses, like I do.

1) I blinked and several weeks of pregnancy were just gone.
34 weeks and in the home stretch, wha?!?!?
Sorry, my selfie game is weak, oh so weak.

2) Our home went "Sale Pending" within 3 days of having it listed.


I know home sales can be crazy and nothing is final or a done-deal until it is, but having multiple offers within a couple of days sure helped me breathe a little sigh of relief with regards to the whole house-selling deal.

3) I cannot but sing the highest praises of my much better half who lovingly sent me and the kids to Steubenville during the week leading up to listing our home and who took on every single ounce of work that needed to be done to make this place show-able: from painting the porch, to scrubbing our hard-water-stained tub for a total of something like 10 hours and then deep cleaning the entire house like it has never, and I mean never, been cleaned before (not to mention the yard work and loooooooads of indoor painting).

Stolen pictures from Zillow, I still can't believe the house was that clean.

Sure, it was hard work having the kids solo and being pregnant, but living with my in-laws, who were always up for offering any help they could and being able to bounce over to my parents house to let the brood burn off necessary steam with cousins was absolutely preferable to the glut of cleaning and fixing up that needed to happen here.

4) Once we listed the place Mike joined us in the Ville while our realtor took over and did her showing thing. We even got to take a little jaunt to our future home to attempt to find an actual home and.... drum roll.... we did! Which we absolutely could not have done without the aid of Mike's amazing parents who kept 3 out the 4 kids with them while we trotted off to Virginia, they are THE best.

5) We have had an offer accepted-- and again-- I know nothing is set in stone until the actual close date, but we found an adorable little place that will suffice for at least a few years without totally breaking the bank. So many prayers said, so many hours waiting for calls from realtors and banks. And I SO hope it is all on pause for now because, well, there is a baby to birth still. Yes, the BABY!

6) My first and third were born at 38 weeks and Joe surprised us at 37 weeks so 34 weeks definitely feels like we are getting close (Bernadette was a scheduled c-section and very breech). However, that does not mean that I have even a stitch of baby stuff out and ready, because I don't. Not a stitch. Who says "Stitch", how old am I? So I'll get on that at some point.

7) Anyways I think I'll end my rant-update there and close by thanking you all for your words of encouragement and support after my last post, I really needed them. For now it feels like the extra-insanity is on hold until we move, and for that I am extremely grateful.