Gwendolyn’s Birth Story

Gwendolyn's Birth Story

Gwendolyn’s birth story has to go back to Gus’s birth as and introduction. I know most people think that the more babies you have, the faster it goes. To some extent that is true. Depending on the size and position of the baby, the births can be much faster. Once labor finally kicked in fully with my seventh baby, she was born in under two hours. But the more babies I had, the harder it was for my body to stay in labor. My contractions would space out too far, stalling labor.

With Gus’s birth, my labor had started and stopped two nights in a row and had begun again the third evening. My body was finally able to stay in labor, but it was one of my most painful labors and my longest pushing time. I was so exhausted from not sleeping for the previous two nights that I really had no coping skills left to deal with the pain.

I knew I didn’t want to go through anything like that again. Gus had been born at home, like most of my other kids, but we decided that baby #10 would be born in a hospital. In a hospital if I stalled out, they could augment my labor before I hit the point of complete exhaustion like I had with Gus.

So I saw my OB/GYN through the pregnancy and everything went pretty well. Because of my age, they began to do weekly ultrasounds and non-stress tests at 35 weeks. At the first one of those appointments, we discovered that the baby was transverse (lying sideways) and had way too much fluid.

I’ve never had anything but an “All systems go!” kind of appointment, so this was a big surprise. I worried a little, since there were some risks involved, like cord prolapse if my water broke. Then I researched c-sections a little bit.

We decided to try to turn the baby, so I went in the following weekend. I had an epidural – my first ever – for that procedure. She turned just fine when the doctor moved her, but then about two hours later she turned right back to her old position. At my next appointment, she was breech and there was still too much fluid. So we went ahead and scheduled a cesarean.

I was mildly disappointed at the prospect of a c-section. But really, I have had 9 variations of lovely natural births, in the hospital, at home, in the water, on the floor, couch and bed. I wasn’t all that attached to the actual event of how birth happened this time. The only part that made me nervous was the recovery time afterwards in our chaotic household. I wasn’t sure how I could get the rest I would need after a major surgery.

At 38 weeks I visited a friend who is a chiropractor. She had adjusted me when my labor was stalled out with Gus and it seemed to get things moving. She didn’t do any special tricks, just a regular back adjustment to help me be more comfortable. Before I left her house, we could see the baby moving all over the place. Big movements, swishing across my belly.

The next day, Jay and I took the kids to the mall to look for school shoes. It was a long walk, and by the end I could tell the baby was riding much lower than she had been, but I couldn’t tell what part was so low.

Two days later, on Tuesday, I had my weekly ultrasound again. Low and behold she was head down and well engaged. We cancelled the c-section appointment and my doctor warned me that I needed to come right in if my water broke because of the extra fluid. I laughed and told him that my water had only broken on its own once and even then it was when I was fully dilated. He told me that with the extra fluid it was much more likely to happen this time.

Sure enough, that night as I was drifting off to sleep I felt a little tiny gush. I waddled off the the bathroom to see what was going on but after a few minutes nothing else had happened so I went back to bed. A few minutes later I was dozing off again when I felt a definite POP and a big gush. I jumped up and ran to the tile floor like you have never seen a 9 month pregnant woman jump and run before. I only got a little bit on the bed. But now I was sure. My water had broken. My poor husband had gotten very little sleep the last couple days, so I decided to let him keep sleeping while I gathered up my stuff for the hospital. I waddled around the room with a towel between my legs while I packed my bag. Contractions started within about 10 minutes of my water fully breaking and they were pretty serious right from the start. For extra fun, I had a giant gush of water with each contraction.

Once I was sure there was nothing else I could do, I woke Jay up. I sat on my towel on the edge of the bed and whispered, “Jay?”

“Huh? What?” he said still half asleep. And then I think he realized what was going on before I even told him that my water had broken. He jumped up right away and began running around, asking what I needed help with and had I called the doctor yet?

No, I had forgotten that part. So I called him while Jay got dressed and took my stuff out to the car. Ben, our 18 year old, was awake, and he helped by lining the front passenger seat with a trash bag and towels.

Soon enough, we were on our way. One of our worries about the hospital we had chosen was the distance. It could be 45 minutes to an hour drive in traffic. But this was the middle of the night and there was no traffic to speak of. We made it in about 25 minutes. During the ride, my contractions had really taken off. I couldn’t talk through them any more and with each one there was a huge gush of fluid. The baby was moving plenty, so we felt like she was doing fine.

Once we arrived at the hospital, we checked in at the E.R, and were whisked up to labor and delivery right away. My doctor had called ahead and I was able to bypass triage. They took me to a Labor, Delivery, Recovery  room and a nurse helped me change. My pajamas were wet all the way down to my ankles and I was glad to be in some dry clothes. I got settled in the bed and the nurse checked me and hooked me up to a monitor. I don’t even remember how far I was dilated. It was less than I thought I would be based on the pain, but it was enough that I felt like my body was doing its job.

The nurse asked if I wanted an epidural. This was something I had thought long and hard about during this pregnancy. For my 10th birth, I decided that I very definitely wanted pain relief. I told her yes and she went off to get to work on that. For the next hour I did my best to breathe and relax through some pretty tough contractions. Jay was right by my side, calming me and talking me through. We’ve done this enough times that his touch is an instant cue to my body to relax.

The anesthesiologist came in sooner than I expected and put the epidural in. It was a pretty uncomfortable process, but it didn’t last too long. Over the next few minutes I became much more comfortable. I have to say, that as far as epidurals go, mine was perfect. I could still feel when contractions were happening, but they didn’t take my breath away, and it relaxed my body enough that the rest of my labor went pretty quickly.

As I got cozy, I put a movie on and Jay laid down on the couch to catch a quick nap. (With my full encouragement! I knew he would be up for a long time after this, especially since we were laboring all night.) I alternately watched “Ender’s Game” and dozed a bit. At one point the nurse came in the check on us and said she was a little concerned that my contractions were too far apart. This was the same thing I had experienced many times before. I told her I had kind of expected that to happen. She suggested that we watch it for a little longer and see if I made progress. If not, then they would start some pitocin. It turned out that we never needed it.

After a while, my contractions changed a bit. They weren’t super painful, but they were kind of taking my breath away. I had to breathe slowly and deeply with each one. This change in my breathing was enough to wake Jay up and he came and stood beside me. The nurse also noticed the change in my contractions on the monitor and came in to check on me.

Sure enough, it was time! She fetched the doctor and they began to set up for the birth. It was hard to believe it had gone that quickly! Because of the epidural, I had been able to labor the baby down most of the way. Pushing with the epidural was a new sensation. I had no control over my legs, so Jay and the nurse had to hold them up for me, but the baby was low enough that I didn’t have any trouble knowing where to push.

She was out in under 15 minutes of pushing. Gwendolyn was born at 4:25am on July 15. My water had broken at around 11pm. She was the most vernix covered baby I have ever seen. She looked like she was covered with a layer of frosting, almost completely white. Gwendolyn nursed vigorously right away. They didn’t take her to examine her fully or measure her for almost an hour. She just stayed right on my chest. She looked so tiny to us, but when they weighed her she was 8 pounds, 1 ounce, and she was 20 inches long.

I hadn’t been looking to have a magical, natural birth this time around, especially when we were so sure I would end up having a c-section. But this birth was everything I could have hoped for. I loved my hospital and doctor, I felt secure and cared for every step of the way. Jay was by my side. Our baby was born fairly quickly and was completely healthy.

7 Quick Takes 2014 vol. 1



Yes, yes, it’s been a while. What else is new? I’m really good at making promises and starting series that never finish, but one of my goals this year is to get back into blogging by doing 7 Quick takes each week through March. Let’s see if I can do it!

1. Best Christmas Present! And my new tool for blogging. Jay got me a pretty one of these:



Yes it is an older, refurbished Mac, but we got it speeded up and ready to go and I have an AMAZING pink skin for it zooming towards me as we speak. I have fantasies of sneaking of to Starbucks or the library to do some uninterrupted blogging or other writing one of these days.

2. But that means I need to buckle down and get control of my device-time. I’ve been reading at both Hands Free Mama and Orange Rhino and I need to be a better, more present parent this year (and forever after…). So if you have been trying to call me and haven’t gotten through, try the home phone. I’m leaving my cell phone in my purse or put away more often these days.

3.  But that doesn’t mean I’m not so tempted to go and hide, to play some stupid game on my phone to just tune out the world for a while. I still am tempted, and I still give in. Triple Town and Dots are my current faves. They calm down my introverted mind and let it just idle for a bit. I don’t think that is wrong, I just think I need to work on how much it happened. And I probably need to find some other ways to chill for a bit.

4. Like Spirograph! We got one for Max for Christmas and I have to say it’s my favorite toy. Not his, unfortunately. But it is more difficult than I remembered. A couple times we have just plopped down at the table and played with the colors and shapes for a while. It’s so zen… when you aren’t stuck with one of the bent wheels that makes you mess up every 5 seconds. Ah, the problems of a fallen world. I bet Adam and Eve didn’t have that problem.


5. Paisley (oldest daughter) got a promotion! She will be counter manager for Chanel cosmetics in a week or so. I am so excited for her, she deserves the upgrade in her career and, well, I can’t wait to get some of the makeup!!!

6. I’m tired. I have been posting my journey to better health on my Mommy’s Diet blog, and I’ve made some progress. But I’m still just so stinking tired all the time. Doctors look at me like I’m crazy if I tell them that. They say, “Well, you have 9 kids, what do you expect?” or “You’re just getting older.” But I still think something is not quite right. I’ll keep looking for the answers.

7. 2013 was not a bad year. It had some bad moments in it, and switching schools or the kids was kind of hard – both in the time management and the emotional aspects of it. But this is the first year in a while when I didn’t feel like heaving a huge sigh of relief that it was over. That is a pretty good feeling, I have to say. I hope 2014 will be at least as good!

A Little Victory

Major victory today: the scene: me, overtired, PMSy and coming down with a cold, sinuses about to burst. I had to go to Walgreens and pick up pictures for my daughter. Class project, no avoiding it. I thought, this is it. This is when I will really cave in and get something.

But when I went in… I just made a straight line to the picture counter, got my stuff, paid and then a straight line out the door. I don’t even know how that happened, I was so sure I couldn’t withstand temptation when I felt so tired and weak. But when I left, I felt a little like a champion in that little fight. And that was way better than some candy bar.

It made it easier then tonight when I has to wait an extra hour and a half for dinner while I took kid #7 to ballet. There were vending machines there, but I didn’t even look their direction.

I know the Walgreens trip would have been much harder if I had to walk down aisles and really shop. But for today, I’m happy with how I did.

Day 5 – C25K version 3.0

My legs were feeling much better by this morning, so I put on workout clothes, thinking that after I took the kids to school I would do the BBWW again – glutton for punishment that I am. But the kids were doing so great getting ready for school, and the day was only going to get hotter, so I went for a quick run.  Since I haven’t gone in a while I did C25K week 2, and that was enough to get me moving but still be relatively easy.  I didn’t have time to finish the whole workout, but I did 24 minutes that I wouldn’t have done if I didn’t just head out the door.

My diet today was difficult. This was a day that I could eat a horse… hopefully the last day of PMS. So again, I indulged – with limits. My drug of choice today was popcorn, with extra butter and salt. I still technically came in under calories, but there was a TON of sodium in my day and I ate all the calories I exercised off. Still, that is better than not exercising and going over.

Today and the last few days have been so hard. It is like slogging through mud. There is no novelty about changing my food intake any more. I’ve done this too many times. And the results won’t show for a while, so I am constantly fighting the temptation to just give in and binge. So while I have talked a lot in these first few days of this 66 day challenge about indulging with this or that, I really am focusing on limiting those indulgences or slightly redirecting them to something a little less damaging. I have to believe that small changes will help. And that as I make small changes and those become normal, then I can make small changes from that point, and so on. I do not do well with cold turkey complete change. One baby step after another.

With the exercise too… I feel like kind of a wimp when 10 squats made me limp for four days, or when I see friends on facebook who run 6 miles on a light running day, and I ran 1.7. But I have to start somewhere. I can’t run 6 miles yet. So my choice is either to run 1.7 and work my way up, as slowly as need be, or to not do it at all. And I don’t want to not do it at all.

Because I have a secret to tell you.

I really want one of those 26.2 stickers for my car someday. I want it bad!

Day 2 – Not Quite Paleo

64 to go.

I think I’m going to have to work my way back into Paleo. Since I fail quit have setbacks so often I am really afraid of taking on too much too soon. So today I ate Paleo-ish. At least until I am fully paleo, I will need to track my calories.

One thing I realized the other day, when I am craving something, that feeling in the moment is so very strong. I always think that feeling is much stronger than the regret that I will feel later.

But you know what? It never is. The regret is always bigger.

That craving feeling is really good at making me forget what regret feels like, though, so I am trying to remember that feeling, and when I can’t to at least remember that it is a bigger feeling that wanting something sweet.

Today – I walked 2.6 miles at a moderate pace. I am so sore from my meager attempt at the BBWW yesterday.

I ate pretty much on plan, with some GF crackers with lunch and a little bit of brown rice at dinner – those took me away from the Paleo idea. I did eat completely GF today. Yay!

Then I went to Target. I always get myself a treat when I go to Target, and I’m afraid this night was no exception. Knowing my calorie intake worked against me this time, because I knew I was still really low. So yes. I ate candy. (Rolo!) And I regretted it after. (Good reminder!) And I forgave myself, because I also bought ice cream for the family, but I made sure it was a kind I don’t particularly like so I won’t be overwhelmed by it.

Even with a treat my total calories was 1630.

I did okay today. I am in the middle of PMS, so I could have done a whole lot worse.

Follow up on Imperfect (last Sunday’s post): I did call the doctor, and went in on Thursday. I have some testing ahead of me – blood draw and ultrasound to start with. I only walked that 2.6 miles this week, but another school started and getting into the schedule and all its conflicts kept me guessing all week. I’ll post my new weekly goals tomorrow.

Alone Time or Junk Time?


I began this blog some years ago because I felt constantly unsettled, pulled in all directions, and like chaos followed me around like a shadow. I was in a state that I didn’t want to live in our drag my family through. Starting a word study of “peace” in the Bible and Catechism helped me a great deal, but I eventually let it slide like so many other projects I have started.

With the advent of baby number nine, and my oldest child well into her 20’s, and all the developmental stages in between always accounted for my life has taken forms of chaos I never dreamed possible. And yet somehow I know that constant inner turmoil is not what God has in mind for me. Surely, “our hearts are restless until they rest in You” must mean that there can be some relief from restlessness.

So I have been reevaluating lately, asking myself what exactly it is that I am longing for. My hope is that I can help my husband and children to have a haven of peace in our home. There is enough chaos out in the world – our home should be an oasis from that. But I have trouble doing that if I have no inner peace to give them. Thus this peace study; my own search, via Bible and Catechism study, for peace. To draw closer to God and find the Peace He holds especially for His own children, and only then can I communicate that to my family.

How on earth does a mother of nine find peace?

A standard answer here is that she needs some time to herself. Yes, this is true. But honestly? I get a lot of time to myself, probably too much. I take that time away from my family. And while this “indulging myself a little bit” is supposed to bring me peace and allow me to give of myself to my family some more – it never does. It leaves me feeling a little more drained and a little more overwhelmed when I have to step out of my cocoon and rejoin family life. I think that the problem is that I have not been using that time very wisely. (Time management was never my strong suit!) I need to take time for myself, but I need to do things with it that are actually going to help me towards my goal of having a peaceful, loving family life, being a good wife, and most importantly being closer to God.

Well, doesn’t that just sound like more work? Don’t I already have enough to do? I thought I was supposed to get a break from work!!!

Think of it this way – If you were starving… just ravenously hungry, junk food would fill up your stomach. You might even grow accustomed to it and like it a whole lot. But it always leaves you craving something else, some real nourishment.

I have been “recharging myself” with junk time. Minutes that never amount to anything and that I will never get back, What I really need is real nourishing time. I need time to pray and study scripture, I need time to exercise (my body is a temple – a temple in disrepair, but a temple nonetheless), and I need time to plan how to run my home. There is always going to be time for fun – and being with friends or bonding with family over a game or some shopping is certainly very important – but if I don’t do the very basic things then my time with friends and family is bogged down by my number one peace thief: nagging thoughts.

Nagging thoughts are all those things you should have done. The phone calls you procrastinated, the gift you should have purchased, balancing the checkbook. You ate too many cookies, you wasted time on this or that. Yeah, I have done it all and more. And at 2AM, when my eyes pop open and rest evades me I wonder why I didn’t just take a few minutes to do the things I should have done yesterday. And there are tons of good reasons. Usually it is just because I got distracted and forgot. But sometimes I just avoid things and then they follow me around, pecking at my brain until I give in and do them.

I have been watching people lately. I know some people who I consider to be peaceful people and who have homes that are peaceful and restful places to be. And you know what I noticed about most of them? When something needs to be done, they just do it. They seem to understand something that has taken me my whole lifetime (so far) to grasp: it is just much less trouble to do what needs to be done now, instead of waiting until later when other jobs have piled up on top of it and not only will it take you twice as long, but you have spent all kinds of energy letting it nag at you in the mean time.

This post in long and rambly and if you have gotten this far, I hope it was worth it! Here it is in bullet points:

  • Time to myself should be fruitful, nourishing time, not junk time.
  • I need to stay on task and do things when they need to be done.
  • While these things sound neither peaceful nor restful, I think they will result in both.

Originally posted 8/2008, revised for number of children.

My Morning

Since early last summer, I have been waking up early. Well, with all these kids, I have been getting up early for years, but this year I made it an intentional time of bible study and prayer, as well as planning my day so I could act on it instead of falling into a pattern of reacting to whatever life threw at me. It’s an idea I have tried many times in the past, but the book Maximize Your Mornings helped me find a way to make it work this time. Summer was easy. I set my alarm and even if the kids woke up, they could just play while I had my time with God and planned my day.

When school started I tried to have my time at nap time. But since real nap time is a rarity around here, that fell flat quickly. Morning was chaos, since the baby would wake up as soon as I got out of bed. Finally, desperate to find the time, I asked my husband if, when he didn’t have to work super early, he could handle the kids until 6am. He was happy to help!

When I first read Maximize Your Mornings, I dismissed it as something that just wouldn’t work for me. She just had no idea what my life was like. But slowly, I was able to integrate some her ideas into my day in my own way. I changed some things, because nobody else’s plan is going to completely fit someone else’s life. My plan probably won’t fit yours. But that is not a reason not to try something. Maybe you do far more than I do, and my plan looks like preschool to you… no matter, we are all on this path, trying to grow closer to the heart of our Lord.

Here is how my morning goes (or tries to):
5:20am – My alarm goes off, I put my thermometer in my mouth and head to the bathroom. I get my coffee, say my morning offering, and sit down at the table with coffee, notebook, kindle, and bible.
5:30 – I’m all set. I start my bible study, depending on the day I am working either on the Sunday readings or a topical bible study. Read, underline, pray, make some notes… I try to fill one half sheet of paper with notes, using some worksheets I made to keep me on track:  SOAP/Topical Half Page .
5:50 or so – Planning time. I check my Weekly Overview and fill out my Daily Page. I put my daily page up on my clipboard on the wall, so I can read it and check things off through the day.
6am – Start getting the kids up are ready for school. I aim to get my shower in between 6 and 6:30, but it depends on how much help the kids need at this time.

One thing this plan hinges on is that I have filled out my weekly overview ahead of time, so my planning time in the morning doesn’t involve really doing the planning so much as reviewing it. I fill out my weekly overview on Fridays for the upcoming week. I confess that I am addicted to that little piece of paper. There are always mornings that, as I do my planning, I know that something is going to have to change – I might need to schedule a doctor appointment and not know when we will get in for example, but when I plan, I know to leave plenty of space for possibilities.

And then it is busy, busy, busy the rest of the day. But having this time in the morning gives me a little more resilience to make it through and helps me to keep my focus on God and making my work a prayer.

I’ll tell you more about what I do with my bible study worksheets in another post. I’m also working on a page to list all these resources and others I use as well.

New Baby: Reset

Back again after pregnancy and baby, just getting started but wanted to get my weights in to finish out the year. Heh, last time I posted I was a month away from getting pregnant.

Began this pregnancy with these stats:
2/1/09 weight: 148
Bust: 38
Waist: 32
Arm: 11
Hips: 42
Belly: 38.5
Thigh: 23

At 1 week postpartum:
Weight: 170
Bust: 43
Waist: 38
Hips: 44.5

2 weeks postpartum:
Weight: 162.5
Bust: 40.5
Waist 35.5
Belly: 42.5
Hips: 43


I am grouchy and don’t feel much like writing. But I did stay under 1500 cal today – Go Me!

It is amazing how full I feel when I eat a high fiber meal, I can hardly believe I came in under calories today when I felt so full after dinner.