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Countdown to Delivery: Angel's Story

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5 weeks, 1/18/01 6 weeks, 1/24/01 9 weeks, 2/15/01 10 weeks, 2/22/01
12 weeks, 3/8/01 14 weeks, 3/22/01 15 weeks, 3/29/01 16 weeks, 4/4/01
17 weeks, 4/12/01 18 weeks, 4/19/01 19 weeks, 4/28/01 20 weeks, 5/6/01
21 weeks-ish, 5/13/01 22 weeks, 5/17/01 23 weeks, 5/24/01 24 weeks, 5/30/01
26 weeks, 6/14/01 27 weeks+, 6/23/01 28 weeks+, 6/30/01 30 weeks, 7/12/01
31 weeks, 7/19/01 32 weeks (-1 day), 7/25/01 33 weeks, 8/2/01 34 weeks (-1 day), 8/8/01
35 weeks, 8/9/01 36 weeks, 8/23/01 37 weeks, 8/30/01 Delivery Day!

5 weeks, January 18, 2001: I'm a week late and I had a positive pregnancy test. Considering that I've had false-positives for the past two cycles and we've been trying to conceive for over a year, I'm afraid to be excited. Sharing details of your most intimate marital moments with the OB/GYN and his nurses is really embarrassing. It's important to tell him when (in your cycle) you (ahem) "do it" and how often, but you need to draw the line at where, duration, positions, and photographic illustrations.

This past November, I was three or so days late and received a false positive urine test at home, the next day I went to my general doctor for a blood test and received a false positive result from a urine test. Since the test was positive, my doctor decided to not do the urine test. A week later, I went in for a visit to my OB/GYN, Dr. F. The day before, I started bleeding pretty badly. After some blood tests and an emergency ultrasound, Dr. F believed that I was never pregnant to begin with. (This was better for me to handle because I just couldn't bear the thought of having another miscarriage.)

So today, I called Dr. F's office and told the nurse, "Well, it's happening again! I had another positive pregnancy test." She recommended that I wait a week and then come in for a visit ... just in case. Hoo boy, this next week will be a long one.

6 weeks-ish, January 24, 2001: For the past few days, I kept wondering if my breasts were sore from pregnancy or just from late PMS, or if it was just in my head. I wondered if my slight nausea was "something else." Well, today I found out that I was *really* pregnant. Dr. F. confirmed the pregnancy with a urine test and on Friday he backed it up with a blood test. He also ran a slew of other blood tests because I had a late miscarriage (I was 13-15 weeks along) back in 1997, my age (over 35), and my recent infertility.

Dr. F lectured me at length about my age and how this pregnancy would be harder on me. My due date was calculated to be September 20, 2001, but Dr. F doubted he would let me go past that date. My first (Ashley, 1991) and third (Nicky, 1996) kids were born a week early and my middle child (Josh, 1993) was born right on the due date. You know, I've never felt "old" before until I received that talk. Almost every sentence began with, "Women your age ..." and ended with something not very pleasant. Lordy, Lordy. Where's my walker and fiber tablets?

When we told the kids, they were really excited. Ashley brought us back down to earth when she said, "Hey! I'll be 20 when this baby is 10!" Gulp. Ashley and Josh want a baby sister and Nicky wants a baby brudder saying, "I fink we need anudder mean boy here!"

The stinker.

One of those blood tests Dr. F ordered, the anti-nuclear auto-immune (ANA) titer/test, came back slightly positive. Normal results are anywhere from 1:0 to 1:70, and my result was 1:80. Dr. F said this test was a non-specific test that helps doctors diagnose auto immune problems such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, and arthritis, and he wasn't overly concerned, he said he'd test me again in a month.

Using the Internet, I went on a search mission and found all kinds of horror stories about the ANA titer. The odd thing was that I didn't have any other symptoms related to auto immune problems. I decided to hand it over to God - why worry about something I have no control over?

On Saturday the 10th, we met with our realtor (Nancy) and put our house for sale. She said houses in our neighborhood take (on average) 70 days to sell. Armed with this information, Paul (my hubby) and I decided to go ahead and put the house on the market so that we would be able to move by the time school was out at the end of May.

9 weeks, February 15, 2001: We painted, cleaned, and yesterday (14th) showed the house for the first time. I had to help with Nicky's Valentine party at the church so I had something to do while these folks and their realtor checked out my home. Nancy called me about two hours or so into the party (it was a three-hour white-knuckled ball-of-joy with four and five year olds, Lord help me), and said that the realtor showing the house thought these folks would make an offer on our home. The buyer liked it so much that she wanted her husband to drive down and view the house, so Nancy urged me to take my time before returning home. I was excited, but come on! How many houses (a) get sold to the first people to view the house and (b) get sold within DAYS of being on the market?

Well, these potential buyers looked and thought and looked and thought. They were at my house for over three hours. I felt like a neighborhood stalker because I had to keep driving around in circles. I wondered if our cat showed off for them by unraveling the toilet paper, coughing up a hairball on the middle of the kitchen floor, or exhibiting his clear-the-room ability after scratching in his litter box for fifteen long minutes.

As far as my pregnancy goes, I've had some nausea, but I keep wondering if I'm really pregnant. I suspiciously eye my belly over and over looking for any miniscule increase in size. I see a faint line running down from my belly button - they call that the "linea negra" or something. I'm beginning to get excited.

10 weeks, February 22, 2001: Today's my birthday! Big 37. Woo. Anyway, yesterday I visited Dr. F and believe it or not, he heard a heartbeat! I am so relieved! I haven't gained any weight, and Dr. F assured me that this pregnancy will be OK.

They took more blood and apparently my test result from the ANA titer was worse, it was 1:640. Whoof. This is frightening. With a result that high, something has to be terribly wrong. Dr. F wants me to visit with a rheumatologist, but he mentioned several times that things are probably OK - a woman's body undergoes all kinds of strange stuff during pregnancy.

On top of everything else, for the past week, I've been cleaning my house constantly, felt like I needed to hurl, showing the house, and hanging out in the church parking lot while strange people stomp through my house and terrorize my cat.

The good news? Those first folks that viewed our house made us an offer, we made a counter-offer and - ta da! We sold our house.

The bad news? Uh, we haven't even started LOOKING for a house to buy yet. Gulp. This week, Nancy took Nicky and I to view a couple of houses. One of the houses was so awful, I swear I got flea bites from it! Another house was promising, but the price was a wee bit high. Nancy suggested that Paul look at it ... and I thought what-the-heck, so tomorrow she is going to take the both of us to look at it. It's a four bedroom and two bath rustic home on some acreage.

Boy the timing is getting bad! Soccer season is starting this week and I'm coaching Ashley's 9-10 year old team, and co-coaching Josh's 5-6 year old team with Paul. How am I going to do this?

I've decided that my toothpaste has a horrible taste. Yes, I've used the same brand of toothpaste for years, but suddenly it tastes awful. Perhaps because it's a gel? Hmm. I made Paul pick me up some new flavored toothpaste (a paste?) on his way home from work. What a sweet hubby I have.

12 weeks, March 8, 2001: Paul ended up falling in love with that rustic house, and the second time I viewed it, I liked it even more. We made an offer, the owner counter-offered, and boom - we're under contract. Gosh, things are going so fast! We're supposed to close on both houses March 23rd and move shortly thereafter.

The paste toothpaste worked, however, I have been so nauseated that I just can't cook supper. Last weekend, Paul had to dress the chicken because the thought/smell/look of raw chicken turned my stomach. Paul and I have just decided that he will pick up some kind of fast food until I stop feeling so yucky. A couple of nights this week, I couldn't eat supper until the kids had baths - that "little kid stink" drove me out of the dining room. Ugh.

I think this baby is a girl; I was really sick with Ashley and not as sick with the boys.

Today I visited the rheumatologist, Dr. A-S. She took my history and made the comment that she didn't think I had any symptoms of horrible auto immune problems. She was concerned with my history of hives (I had a nice patch of them over my chest and arms as I sat there in the examining room). I laughed and said, "Can you blame me for having a hives outbreak? I'm selling a house, buying a house, coaching two soccer teams, I have programming deadlines, and oh, I'm pregnant too."

Dr. A-S decided to monitor my blood through monthly tests (Dr. F's office will draw the blood, perform the tests, and then forward her the results). She also theorized that my positive ANA test could be due to my nervous hives - I may have always had a positive ANA result, but I just never knew it because I never had the test before. She went over some of the blood tests and cautioned that if any of the blood work came back positive, she'd have to possibly put me on aspirin to thin my blood, or put me on bed rest, or even induce the pregnancy if I was close to my due date. Onward and upward.

14 weeks, March 22, 2001: God, please help me make it through this week!

This morning as I was rushing around trying to get Nicky ready and get myself ready to go to visit Dr. F, Nancy called and said the buyer's mortgage company ordered another appraisal and the Evil Appraiser People will arrive at my home within the hour. I totally freaked out. 80% of my belongings are in boxes, the carpet is dirty from muddy soccer fields, and the bathrooms have splattered mirrors and large toothpaste sculptures. Apparently when you sell a house, you give up certain privileges like visiting the doctor on time, living in your home, etc. I asked nicely (in between heaving sobs) if the Evil Appraiser People could give me more than 20 minutes notice. Apparently not, they had already started appraising the outside of my home when I tried to pull out of my driveway. I was on the receiving end of a couple of dirty looks when I asked them to let me out.

"You need us to move our car?" they asked.

Uh no, I'll just sprout wings on this here mini van and FLY over! Geesh, what butt munchers.

Paul met us at Dr. F's office and we got to hear the wonderful sound of the baby's heart beating. He asked Dr. F if there was more than one heartbeat - hah! Twins - now there would be something for me to write about!

The itching from my hives has been unbearable and it has been keeping me up at night; so Dr. F prescribed some Zyrtec for me.

Soccer season has been good to my younger team - they are winning and losing. Josh is a maniac and he averages about three to five goals a game [insert Proud Mommy Moment here]. My older team hasn't won a game yet. My younger team (5-6 year olds) is all boys and my older team is all girls. Paul said, "Honey, they're all girls, you can't expect to win."

He is such a turd. Yes, we can win! These girls really have potential and I adore being their coach. Being female has nothing to do with how we play the game.

Speaking of soccer, the YMCA called me today to tell me that not only does Josh have a double-header this Saturday, but Ashley's team has one as well. Paul and I decided to put Nicky on Josh's team because there's only five kids on the team. He's a bit young (4), but we think he'll be OK - with Mommy and Daddy being his coaches and all. Gosh, can anything ELSE happen this week?

Friday, March 23: We closed on the houses today while Paul's mom kept the kids at our house. Our appointment to close on our house (the one we're selling) was at 11am, but the buyer decided to take a 30 minute lunch break making us, Nancy, and our attorney wait until they returned. Nice, huh? We closed on that house and afterward we met with the seller of the house we were buying and closed on that house. He is a really nice man and the two of us hit it off immediately because he is a programmer like I am. I can't believe it's finally over and we have a new house!

Saturday, March 24: Josh had a 9am game and a 10am game, winning the first game plus winning the second game by forfeit (the other team didn't show). Ashley had an 11:30am game and a 12:30pm game - both were AWESOME! We lost the first game (coached by a local sportscaster) by two goals, and we won the second game! Woo hoo! And get this: my little princess scored the winning goal! This team has really shaped up to be a gaggle of the most "alpha" females I've seen!

Sunday, March 25: Moving day! While the kids and I slept late, Paul loaded/unloaded our U-Haul truck a couple of times. The kids and I arrived at our new home around noon and my friend Yvonne met us here and helped us clean and unpack. It was so cold today; Ashley and Josh helped Paul unload the truck and I froze because we turned off the heat due to having the front door open so much. Paul wouldn't let me do any lifting so I cleaned and listened to the race. Paul moved everything but the big stuff - gosh, I can't believe it! We spent our last night at our old house tonight.

Monday, March 26: Yvonne came over again and helped us clean and unpack again in the morning. She was so helpful! In the afternoon, my brother-in-law and my sister helped us move the big stuff.

Tuesday, March 27: Our first night in our new house was uneventful, amazingly enough. The kids slept in their own rooms and didn't cry! I slept well and awoke to blue birds chirping. I cancelled practices this week because there are no games (Spring Break). Thank goodness. It's rained almost all week and the cable people have yet to show. I may drop my bored children off at their offices and let the cable company see what fun I've been having.

15 weeks, March 29, 2001: All I seem to want to eat is fruit. Meat is gross, milk is nasty, and vegetables? Oh gag.

The cable folks said that they couldn't hook up the cable for another week because a cable had to be run underground, plus we can only find one of our two telephone lines. I have some mutant bugs to fix at work and with only one phone line, dialing in will be close to impossible. The telephone folks said it would be up to two weeks before they could come and separate our data line from our telephone line. Apparently cable and telephone providers can't be bothered with routine maintenance and actually SERVING their customers.

Luckily, my boss knew of someone and had him come out and separate and run the lines. Internet access, here I come!

16 weeks, April 4, 2001: Things are still really hectic and I can't find anything!

My sweet wonderful loving adorable husband bought me a new computer and new printer/scanner/fax/copier/potato chopper. I don't know which has been worse, moving to a new home or moving files to a new computer!

On Wednesday, I chaperoned a field trip for Nicky's class thus trapping me alone in my mini van with five 4- and 5-year-olds screaming, hitting, and whining. The trip was only a 20 or 30 minute ride, but it felt like an eternity. We rode a passenger train. When I returned home, I gave Nicky blocks, Hot Wheels, and several videos and I conked out for an hour or so. The morning sickness is just about gone, but the fatigue is horrible.

I called Dr. A-S's office (for about 100 times - their people skills really stink), and got my test results. The test for hives (uticaria or some other fancy name like that) came back positive (duh) and Dr. A-S wants to talk with an allergist from UAB (University of Alabama at Birmingham) before she speaks with me. I'll try to hold my breath.

I felt the baby kick this week!

Saturday, April 7: Ashley's team only lost by one goal, and Ashley scored!

17 (or so) weeks, April 12, 2001: Yesterday Paul and I went to Nicky's Easter party. He got all kinds of goodies and found lots of eggs.

I think the folks that manufacture Metamucil should be forced to drink orange-flavored watery sand. Here I am nauseated, yet I have to get "fiber enhancement" (ahem) so that my butt doesn't explode. Pregnancy is so glamorous. At least I don't have hurt-a-roids.

Wednesday, April 18: I went on yet another field trip with Nicky's class. This time I had an adult with me and only two children in my van. We visited Baker's Farm in Harpersville, Alabama. The kids went on a hayride, planted sunflowers, shucked and shelled corn, fed animals, petted animals, and got to eat lunch in the loft. Boy am I glad that my morning sickness is gone! I never could have eaten my turkey sandwich while the earthy aroma of dung hung in the air.

18 weeks, April 19, 2001: Today I had my ultrasound, and no, we didn't find out if the baby is boy or girl (I still think this baby is a girl). When I showed up for the ultrasound, I had a full bladder just like they instructed me. Well, after about 20 minutes, my eyes were watering and I mentioned to the receptionist that I was about to float away. She frowned at me, looked down her nose, and then gave me permission to pee "just a little".

An hour later (and several more dirty looks and half-peeing), I finally got back to the little dark room. The Ultrasound Lady apologized profusely (they some how lost my paperwork). My due date of September 20th was confirmed and the baby looked really healthy.

I finally gained some weight! I weigh 129 - three pounds heavier! Of course, this could be due to the Metamucil.

Friday, April 27: Tonight at practice, the girls were so grouchy. They had 4-H camp this week and I guess they were just tired. I had to really hold my tongue because all of these hormones floating around make me feel a bit like I have a multiple personality disorder.

Toward the end of practice, one of my players collided with another player and fell on her wrist, fracturing it! I've coached soccer since 1997 and this is the first time one of my kids suffered a broken bone, bless her heart.

19 weeks, April 28, 2001: Boy my belly is growing! I am actually starting to look pregnant instead of the had-too-many-beans-look. I'm also getting leg cramps at night - time to eat bananas.

Speaking of fruit, I've found if I eat an apple or two a day (or plum, or peach), I don't need to take the Metamucil! Woo hoo!

Ashley's team lost their game on Saturday 0 to 3 because no one would run. The other team was all (very large) boys and this intimidated them. I wonder if the use of an electric cattle prod would motivate them to run after they kick the ball? Hmm.

My younger team won their game 6 to 1 and [insert another Proud Mommy Moment here] Josh scored five goals and Nicky scored his first goal!

I think my belly has doubled in size in just the past week and the baby (Alexandra? Jacob?) really kicks a lot after I eat strawberries.

Oreos are wonderful. Not only are they good by themselves, but crushed up in ice cream, dunked in coffee, slathered with peanut butter, and topped with a pickle they make a wonderful hors'd'whatever. I've contemplated adding Oreos to my salad, and hmm, I wonder if Oreos would be good with pintos?

Tuesday, May 1: We had a semi-tragedy today. One of our pond goldfish, Tiger, met his maker. I peeked in the fish pond and noticed that Tiger wasn't moving and was caught under some tubing. Just yesterday Tiger was swimming around thinking those little happy fishie thoughts. Tiger belongs to Ashley ("Aubie" belongs to Josh, and "Goldie" belongs to Nicky), so I prepared a tender thoughtful way to break the awful news to her when she arrived home from school. (I thought Nicky would be upset - his first loss and all - but all he wanted to do was to (ugh) touch the deceased fishy).

Well, when Ashley and Josh arrived from school, I huddled them together and gently told them that sweet Tiger was needed in Fishy Heaven, so he is no longer with us. Josh made a yucky face and said, "Ew, is he dead?"

I put my arm around his shoulder and said, "Yes, baby."

"Can I touch him?"

I swallowed hard as my morning sickness suddenly resurfaced, and I told him, "No."

During all of this Ashley was really quiet with her eyes glued to her shoes. Suddenly she looked up at me, and I thought oh-no-here-it-comes. She asked, "Can I feed Tiger to Spanky [our cat]?"

Uh ... no. What a tender moment.

Oh yuck and here I thought I was over my nausea. Ugh, gag. When Paul got home, we drained the pool, cleaned it out, and then gave Tiger a proper Christian Fish Burial. Unfortunately, Tiger is too big to flush, so using dirt and shovels is what we had to do. It was quite funny, and I'll probably have to write a story about it! [I did! Click
here to read it!]

20 weeks, May 6, 2001: Soccer practices this week went well, I am just so dog-gone tired in the evening. It's hard to be a perky go-get-em soccer coach when you are tired and slightly nauseated (from dead fish). Saturday, Josh and Nicky won their 10am game with Josh scoring 2 of the 3 goals, and Ashley's team tied their 12pm game 2 to 2, with Ashley scoring one of the goals. It was so hot, and the games totally wore me out. I was a bit dizzy after the second game, but I think that was due to the heat (oh, and me jumping up and down screaming, "Run! Run!" didn't help either.)

At 4pm, Ashley's junior girl scout troop arrived and in the next four hours we: made homemade pizzas, jumped on the trampoline, learned how to do research on the Internet, jumped on the trampoline, terrorized the two remaining pond fish, ate pizza, made homemade ice cream, giggled, kicked soccer balls, screamed, ate homemade ice cream, swatted bugs, and earned several badges. They had a ball. Me too, but daggum, I'm am absolutely worn out.

Today, I'm just going to enjoy a delicate frosty glass or two of Orange Metamucil and mourn the fact that Tony Stewart won the race last night (and laugh at Gord-o and Wallace's bickering). The baby was really active today - I think all of yesterday's activities must've lulled him (her?) to sleep.

21 Weeks-ish, May 13, 2001: I can't get over how active this baby is! My belly is just slightly big, but you can see the baby rolling around.

This week I got some scary news from my rheumatologist, Dr. A-S (it's about time she called me back - I've been calling them every week or so since the middle of March). Dr. A-S said that all of my tests looked fine except that my platelet count was borderline. I asked if it could have anything to do with my low iron level (hemacrit?), and she said that it was different. She wanted to re-test me again as soon as possible. I go in for my monthly visit to my OB next week, so they'll re-test me then.

Next, I did something dumb. I go surfing on the Internet and look for "platelet count" - wow! It scared me to death! I found all kinds of frightening things like a low platelet count can mean cancer, leukemia, tendency to vote liberal, and all kinds of other horrible ailments. Finally, I called my OB's office and they told me that my platelet count was 209,000 and it wasn't low according to them (they use the 100k - 500k range). I found out that different doctor's offices use different rules when it comes to this test. Apparently, Dr. A-S's office must use the 200,000 - 400,000 range. Platelets are produced by the bone marrow and processed and removed by the spleen when they are damaged or old. A normal platelet count ranges between 150,000 and 350,000. Platelet counts under 50,000 put a patient at risk of severe bleeding. Bottom line: this is probably not a big deal and is probably due to just being pregnant. I'm so glad I called - they really calmed me down.

This Saturday was fun! It was the last soccer games of the season. Josh and Nick's game was close - it ended up a tie 2 to 2 with Josh making the tying goal late in the fourth quarter. Whew! I love to watch close games! Nicky really got after the ball too - he got the ball down field several times but stopped short of the goal. I'm proud of my boys!

Ashley's game was a couple of hours later at noon, and it was awesome. We played the other Alabaster team, the Cougars, and we wanted to win so badly! The Cougars have beaten us twice this year, but we won one game by a forfeit (which really didn't matter as far as we were concerned). This last game really defined our season. My girls were PUMPED! Both teams were score-less the first half; we were playing great and passing the ball. The Cougars only shot on our goal once! I'm glad because I had two girls out, and I had to put Ashley in as goalie one quarter.

Right after the third quarter started, thunder boomed in the distance and the referee didn't know what to do. After some discussion, we decided to play until we saw lightning. Well, we began the third quarter again and HOLY COW - Ashley scored! Everyone was on their feet screaming for Ashley and jumping up and down. I had to stop myself because I almost wet my pants! (Oy, the glamour of being pregnant.) Several of the girls jumped on Ashley in celebration - I adored seeing that beautiful triumphant smile on her face. I'll never forget it.

We began playing again and the girls were out for "blood" so-to-speak, playing aggressively and running like crazy. After another couple of minutes, a fat streak of lightning split the sky with a loud crack. The ref called the game and WE WON! What a way to end the season!!!! Words cannot describe the joy and pride I felt (and still feel) about my 9 and 10 year old team and especially my daughter. J

Last night when I was tucking the kids in bed, they started asking questions about the baby in my tummy. I told them that my belly was going to get so big that my belly button was going to stick out! This concerned Josh, triggering deep thoughts on his part. He asked, "If your belly gets so big your belly button sticks out, then why doesn't Daddy's belly button stick out?" Heh. I didn't quite know how to answer that one.

Today I awoke to cards, flowers, and a home-cooked fantasy including biscuits, gravy, grits, eggs, sausage, and bacon. This afternoon we went to Peach Park in Clanton, Alabama and ate homemade ice cream and bought lots of fruit. Later, the kids donned their wax lips and hammed it up for the camera.

Being with my family is Mother's Day present enough. I'm so blessed to have the job of mothering - if it weren't for these kids, I wouldn't be "Mom"!

Wednesday, May 16: Today I visited Dr. F for my monthly OB appointment. I've gained 5 pounds; 8 pounds total so far - according to me, and 5 pounds so far according to Dr. F - why don't doctors take into consideration the amount of clothing you are wearing when you weigh? Anyway, everything looked great and the baby (girl?) had a strong heartbeat.

22 Weeks, May 17, 2001: Today at Wal-Mart, Nicky and I met Paul so that we could grab a few things - like underwear for me, Oreos, clothes detergent, you know, essential stuff. It was here that I discovered something horrible - I'm a kept woman. Gasp. (Read the story here!)

Picking through the clear plastic packages of panties, I found my brand and my size, but .... what kind? There were bikinis, briefs, high-cut briefs, high-cut bikinis, thongs, bikini-briefs, and several other flavors. I yelled over to Paul, "Hey, honey? Which type of underwear do you usually buy for me?"

The lady next to me perusing the 38-DD bras started giggling, and whispered, "I need a man, like that, ayyup."

Paul eyed over the packages and plucked a size 8 brief from the rack. "Since you're pregnant, you better go with an 8 instead of a 7, hon," he replied as he pushed the buggy toward the children's department. Oh dear.

This evening, we had the end-of-season soccer parties at the YMCA. It was a swim party and the kids (both mine and the kids on my teams) had a blast. Much to my surprise, my 9-10 year old team gave me a BABY SHOWER! I was totally shocked and teary-eyed. I received all kinds of stuff, and at the end all of the girls gave me a huge group hug. How sweet!

A couple of the dads offered to help me coach in the fall since the baby is due right at the onset of soccer season. The program director teased me saying that she was going to have an ambulance on the soccer field just in case I went into labor during a game or practice. How funny, can you imagine?

Friday, May 18: I got a call from the rheumatologist's office regarding my test results - believe it or not - I didn't have to wait three months! They said that my platelet count is back to normal and my clotting factor looks better. (WHAT?!) No, they never mentioned any problem with my clotting factor before, and I decided not to even ask! This doctor has scared me too many times over the past several months, so I'm not going to worry about it.

Also on Friday, Ashley went on a field trip to Alabama's state capital in Montgomery, Alabama, and she had a ball. After picking her up from school at 5:30pm, we went to eat at a catfish restaurant named "Whiskers". During supper, she went on and on telling us about the Senate, the House, and other landmarks. Paul asked her, "Did you see Siegelman?" (He's our governor.)

She grinned and said, "No. But I was ready to tell him what you said."

I interrupted and foolishly asked, "Uh, what were you supposed to say to our prestigious governor of Alabama?"

"That he's a dufus. Right Daddy?" Paul grinned at me. Oh. OK. Well, that's about it for this week!

23 Weeks-ish, May 24, 2001: Today was the last day of school for Ashley and Josh.

Friday, May 25: I spent all day today breaking up fights between the three kids - this unrequited sibling love is something else!

This week I have experienced quite a few Braxton-Hicks contractions and the dreaded "saddle soreness" has started. The soreness is worse on my left side (where I have a "varicosity" - how pleasant). Fortunately, after I lie down (not just put my feet up, but actually LIE down) for ten minutes or so, the soreness goes away.

The baby is just absolutely wild. You can actually see my belly move when s/he kicks. One night I was lying on the couch and the baby started his/her acrobats. All three kids ran over and put their hands on my belly - I wish that we'd taken a picture!

Just like the other three pregnancies, the majority of the kicking is on my right side. Sometimes I wonder if this child is really an octopus! I haven't noticed the baby having hiccups yet.

Wednesday, May 30: Today Paul endured his 40th birthday. I say "endured" because he started having appendicitis-like symptoms after we all went to eat at Whiskers for his birthday dinner. He was up and down all night long and when we almost decided to go to the emergency room, his pain somewhat subsided.

24 Weeks, May 31, 2001: Paul visited his doctor and found out his ailment was either a nasty intestinal infection called diverticulitis or a mild case of appendicitis. He wasn't too amused at my flatulence jokes and doesn't ever want to eat at Whiskers again. Go figure.

My ankles can because they've started swelling - not bad - just a bit in the evenings. The weather has been so nice, I imagine when the temperature starts getting into the 90s I'll start swelling up like Ted Kennedy after an all-nighter at Hooter's.

Sunday, June 3: Wow, I can't believe it's June already! The kids (and I) survived their first week home from school - there was no bloodshed and no calls to 911. By Friday, the kids were only slightly arguing instead of screaming, smacking, tattling, and of course participating in the I'm-not-playing-with-you-because-you-won't-play-with-me torture. The one day that they were really quiet and seemingly getting along well, I found out that they were having a water balloon fight in the boys' bedroom. Ah! Crazy! You'd think they'd know that water balloons go outside, but noooo.

The baby now gets the hiccups. It's so neat! It's not neat when s/he burrows into my bladder - ouch. I'm carrying this baby much lower than I carried my other three, and how the baby can get any lower, I just don't know. I'm going to have to wear one of those baby-holder-upper-thingies under my belly. On my left side, I've developed a "catch" at the sacroiliac joint and certain positions when walking, squatting, or turning really hurts. (Keeping a good posture helps.) Thankfully, it isn't an ache, but more of a sharp pain when I hit it wrong. Oh joy. This summer's gonna be a hoot. Hand me some Tylenol and a heating pad.

Cravings? Watermelon of course and dipping those daggum Oreos in my morning coffee. I can eat half a watermelon at a sitting and then pee every three minutes for the next four hours. No watermelon after 4pm for me! I have got to quit buying Oreos - my butt is HUGE! Well, at least it offsets my growing stomach. Yeah. No wonder my back hurts.

26 Weeks, June 14, 2001: Last week I broke the chain on my toilet, rendering it un-flushable (well, unless you submerged your hand into that icky toilet tank water to pull the little thingie up). Oh, the horror. For four days I had to hike upstairs every ten minutes or so to take care of my bidness. I put my foot down (or should I say, put my "butt" down) and refused to go upstairs to pee at night (all forty times I usually have to go), are you kidding? Finally Paul replaced the broken chain and I was so happy that I almost had a bronze bust made of him with the inscription "Da Man" under it to commemorate this high achievement.

Today, I had a check up with my OB, Dr. F. He gave me some exercises to strengthen my back muscles, explaining that the stronger these muscles are the less likely the pain. Of course, he threw in the comment that sciatica usually gets worse as the pregnancy progresses. Oh joy.

Also during the visit, I had my gestational diabetes test (glucola) which was negative. Yaay! My iron level was a bit low - 33.6 (whatever that means), but that's normal. And I weigh 140 - I've gained SIX (gasp) pounds in the past four weeks. Whoo boy. Apparently lying around on a heating pad doesn't burn many calories (and woofin' down those bags of Oreos can't help either!). Ahem. This puts me at 11 pounds total (according to my doctor).

Sunday, June 16: That "catch" in my back that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago has gotten worse and I found out that it is something called sciatica. A nerve is compressed on my left side and the bottom of my foot tingles - talk about pain! It's more painful than watching Newt Gingrich argue with Jessie Jackson about family values. What helps? So far I've found that:

  1. Sleeping on my side with a pillow between my knees makes the pain less intense at night, plus helps me sleep better.
  2. During the day when the pain gets bad, I lie down on my heating pad (set on low) with a pillow under my knees for 20 to 30 minutes. Boy, I've just about run out of reading material! Barnesandnoble.com is my friend.
  3. Wearing shoes with good support seems to help.
  4. Maintaining a good posture and not hunching my shoulders and pooching out my belly really has helped - but it's really hard to do.
  5. Wearing a maternity belt. It is this really attractive elastic strap that you Velcro around your lower abdomen to take the pressure of your massive belly off of your back.
  6. Making these daggum lazy kids help out more around the house! The less I have to bend over, the better!
  7. Whining, grunting, and sucking air loudly through my teeth has absolutely NO effect on family members here.

The good news about this sciatica thang is that I have something other than constipation to discuss with my OB; how refreshing!

Y'all can be proud, today I've cut back on my Oreos (and Chips A'hoy, and peanuts) substituting watermelon and peaches (with the occasional pickle) instead. Dr. F said that walking is good exercise - especially if I keep my posture right; he also added the "but walking will make you saddle sore" comment, too. Sigh. So I'm going to try to walk on my treadmill everyday (not a lot, but some). Why the treadmill? Are you kidding? It's 90º out there with 110% humidity, and mosquitoes and chiggers are lining up waiting on me to feed them! Uh, no thanks. Sure, I could use bug spray, but I don't wanna.

Hopefully the next time I update this diary, I'll brag about how my back pain is just a memory. We'll see!

Wednesday, June 20: Yeah, yeah. OK, so I didn't get on the treadmill - go ahead and laugh. However, I have been doing my back-strengthening exercises and my sciatica has pretty much gone away. The bad news is that all I want to do is eat bad stuff. I try to imagine this non-fat yogurt as a Milky Way bar. Uh, sure.

Today, I took Ashley and Josh for well-child visits and to meet our new pediatrician, Dr. J. Our old pediatrician (we used for almost 10 years) retired. While we were waiting on Dr. J to enter the room, Josh began doing his new trick - underarm farts. He has practiced so hard! He proudly performs to the awe and astonishment of his siblings (who can't quite get the pitch, tone, and intensity as perfect as Josh can). I wish I could figure out how to record the sound and y'all could hear it! Well, maybe not. Anyway, Dr. J walked in and Josh immediately stopped making his music and Ashley and I started giggling.

"Why don't you show Dr. J your new trick, Josh?" I asked.

Josh turned bright red (he had just met Dr. J, remember) and he violently shook his head "NO."

Having no clue what we were talking about, Dr. J said, "Oh, c'mon, I won't laugh!"

"Ooooh, yes you will! It's a really NEAT trick!" I added.

Feeling embarrassment and pressure plus the urge to show off his music, Josh quickly slid his hand under his arm and ripped off three perfectly-tuned little toot sounds, "Rrrppptt, rrppptt, rppppppt!"

Dr. J's face turned red and at first he didn't know what to say. He recovered well, saying, "Uh, wow! Hey! I can't even do that!"

Josh proudly nodded and said, "Yeah, I know. Only me and Mommy can do it at my house."

I haven't blushed that red in a looooooong time. Oy.

27 Weeks+, June 23, 2001: On Saturday, we drove down to the next county and picked blueberries. Gosh, I've never seen berries that fat! Afterward, Paul installed the Sony Playstation™ and "instructed" the kids how to use the NASCAR race.

Sunday, June 24: Today we went to the YMCA pool and I actually wore my maternity bathing suit. It's navy blue with this white bib-like thingie in the front. I think I asked Paul four or so times if I looked fat or pregnant - I was afraid that someone was going to call Sea World and tell them that Baby Shamu was beached at the YMCA in Central Alabama.

Also at the pool, as we were getting ready to leave, Josh began playing his music again - which was really loud since his underarm was damp. I got somewhat embarrassed because the man lying next to us was reading the Bible and I feared he was a Conservative Baptist and that he didn't appreciate fart noises on the Lord's day. I nudged Josh to stop, and then Nicky practically hollered, "Ah ha! Josh FARTED!"

Right as I reached over to pinch him to quiet him down, Paul bellowed, "Y'all just SHADDUP RIGHT NOW!"

I don't know who embarrassed me the most - Josh's noise, Nicky saying "fart" really loud, or Paul screaming at the boys. I grabbed my towel and declared to the listening audience, "I'm leaving. I don't know who you people are, but I wish you'd stay away from me!"

Monday, June 25: This morning I had a vision of a chilled bowl filled with creamy chocolate-y, and delicious Mayfield's™ Chocolate ice cream and I made a passing comment (or twelve) about how "good" the ice cream would be on these hot and humid days. Well, tonight my sweet hubby bought me some! (Great, there go my hips.)

Today I signed all three kids up for swim lessons at the YMCA in hopes that when we visit Georgia next week, I won't have to jump in the *cement pond to save them. [*This cement pond is a really large pond filled with spring water and fish with cement around the edges that my Aunt Wanda owns in Red Clay, Georgia.]

Tuesday, June 26: On the way home from swim lessons this evening, I just HAD to have a Milky Way to satisfy my craving for the chocolate-covered nougat caramel bar, so I stopped by the gas station to get me a candy bar (Milky Way - yum) that I had been craving for a week. I dropped five or six candy bars on the counter, fished out a five spot to pay, and looked expectantly at the clerk. Noting that my purchase was an odd one, he looked up from my scattered candy bars to my pregnant belly, and then up at my face. He grinned widely at me. I shrugged and said, "It's awful when I get a craving - I have to share with the entire family."

When I got home, I found that Paul bought me a 5-pound bag of M&Ms and a huge package of Milky Ways ... just because. Good Lord, I'm gonna be bigger than a barn. Why can't I crave lettuce or pickles or water or something? Maybe I really should get on that treadmill.

28 Weeks-ish, June 30, 2001: Today was Ashley's 10th birthday - wow! I can't believe it! My family from Georgia came to visit and we met other family members at the Olive Garden. Amazingly enough, no one commented on my huge butt and we didn't have to widen any doorways for me to fit through. Ashley had a great birthday supper and received a bunch of gifts.

Tuesday, July 3: I visited my rheumatologist, Dr. A-S for a check up. Bottom line: everything is great!  Dr. A-S asked a lot of questions about my hives, pregnancy problems (my sciatica), and my previous surgeries for carpal tunnel.

Due to my back problems, she recommended that I buy some shoes with better support than these Keds I wear all the time.  My choices are either some butt-ugly sandals called "Clark's" or some good sneakers.  The only sneakers I have are high tops and with my feet starting to swell, Dr. A-S felt that the sandals would do me better.  Do you have any idea how much Clark's sandals cost? Over a hundred bucks! These sandals are UGLY.  I know, I know...."But Angela!  This is the style now!"

Give me a break.  This 70's resurgence of bell bottoms, clogs, and these awful sandals make me want to puke. The styles of the 70's need to stay dead, as far as I'm concerned.

After thinking about it, I think I would rather invest in some good walking sneakers. They'll come in really handy when we visit the amusement park in a couple of weeks. Gosh, if I have to buy these retro-ugly sandals, next I'll have to buy some v-neck velour maternity shirts and maternity bell bottoms with little peace signs embroidered on the butt pockets. And after that, I'll have to get a pet rock and listen to Paul's disco CDs as I do the Hustle around the house. Tsk. Sorry, I digress.

I have no complications - the blood work is great, my back pain has pretty much gone away, and life is good. I am to continue to have blood drawn monthly to monitor my platelet count, iron level, and other little cooties hanging out in my body. My next appointment with her is November 12th. She said that she wanted to see how my immune system recovered after the pregnancy. I'm more concerned with how my sanity will survive after the pregnancy. J

Wednesday, July 4: We had a fun July 4th swimming at the YMCA, visiting the local park and the craft vendors, then grilling out chicken, shooting off fireworks, and watching the fireworks display at the park.

Saturday, July 7: Today we finished up swimming lessons (all three passed!), swam at the YMCA (the kids really enjoyed swimming with Paul), and then went to the Galleria to buy me some shoes. After looking at those Clarks shoes at several department stores, we decided to go to an athletic shoe store and buy me some plain vanilla Reebok® walking shoes. I figured that these would be the best buy with soccer season, football season, girl scouts, and endless trips to the nursery in the fall. Afterward, we pigged out at a local Mexican restaurant, La Fiesta. The baby was on my bladder and I think I had to visit the bathroom about four or five times while we were there!

Monday, July 9: The heat is just AWFUL! I worked on some programming bugs and around lunchtime I took the kids to the Y's pool. I could only last an hour and a half before my fingers started tingling and swelling up. I don't know if it was the heat or tiredness, but I had a TON of B-H (Braxton-Hicks) contractions this evening. Some were really intense, but not painful. They took my breath away.

I'm back to craving watermelon again. Gosh, I can't get enough. Today I started walking a quarter mile to a half-mile on the treadmill. I'm so proud.

I don't think I like the name Alexandra any more - I like "Rachel". Rachel Faith? I like Rachel Grace, but Paul doesn't like the name Grace. Hmm.

30 Weeks, July 12, 2001: Today I had my 30-week appointment with Dr. F. I loaded all three kids in the van and we headed to the doctor's office. The waiting room was quite crowded - there were about 10-15 people in there as opposed to the normal 3 to 6. The kids and I settled into the corner on a bench and to keep Nicky out of trouble, I whispered and pointed across the room, "Look at that sweet little itty bitty baby over there! Isn't it precious?"

He looked over in the direction that I was pointing and loudly said, "It looks like she's having twins!"

I disagreed, "No honey, there's only one baby in the carrier."

The lady sitting next to Nicky laughed and said, "Uh, I think he's referring to me and my belly ... I'm not having twins."

Grinning, I tried to explain that this lady was just 'more pregnant' than me - I was 7 months along and she was probably 8 or 9 months along. Well, this embarrassed Nicky and he got petulant and kicked the crap out of Josh (sitting next to him). Shocked, Josh reached over and pinched Nicky and soon it was a free-for-all with Ashley giving a blow-by-blow.

I separated them and sent them out in the hall so that they could look out the window (we were 7 stories up). Several minutes later, the nurse called my name. I stood up and said, "Hold on, I need to get Sybil, Damian, and Lucifer from out in the hall." Most everyone in the waiting room started laughing. Hmm, did I make a joke? J

Right as we reached the patient room, Paul showed up - yay! What wonderful timing! The kids were really interested (and grossed out) that I had to pee in a cup. I can only imagine what thoughts crossed their young minds ... I just hope that if they ever play doctor, they won't pee in a cup and then perform "tests" on it. Eww.

I weigh 143 - a weight gain of 3 pounds from last time, putting my total weight gain at 14 pounds (according to me it's 17 pounds). I guess that's not too bad for 30 weeks. I asked if all these B-H contractions were normal, and Dr. F said that B-H contractions usually get more intense (tight, painful, etc.) and frequent with each subsequent pregnancy and that this was normal. He also said that with fourth and fifth pregnancies, the wall of the uterus is thinner making me feel the baby's kicks more. I asked him if it was possible for the baby to turn breech while I was in the transition phase of labor (like I did with Nicky and it resulted in a c-section), and he said, "Possibly." It's like my uterus is this old stretched out bag and the baby has tons of room for somersaults and stuff - yes even when the cervix is dilated 8cm or so.

Dr. F said that he wanted to get another ultrasound for size and position in four weeks. This freaked me out because with my previous three pregnancies, I only had one ultrasound (at 20 weeks). Paul said that since this pregnancy is a bit higher risk, it's probably why Dr. F wanted the ultrasound.

Ashley heard the word "ultrasound" and she has been constantly nagging us to find out if this baby is a boy or a girl. Part of me wants to find out because I know that Josh and Ashley might be really disappointed if the baby is a boy, but we've made it this far not knowing!

Friday, July 13: I didn't sleep well at all last night. I admit I'm being paranoid because the last time Dr. F ordered a "special" ultrasound, I found out the baby had died (my miscarriage in July 1997). I tossed and turned - all I could think about was the health of this baby. I prayed and prayed, and as an answer to my prayers, I was reassured all through the night by the baby squirming, kicking, and having the hiccups.

At 3:30am, I had to get up - I was starving! My stomach was growling like crazy and I was afraid that the loud noises were going to wake Paul. I had a small snack, and returned to bed about 4:30am.

So you can guess how perky I might feel this morning - talk about a mood! I'm especially surly because WE RAN OUT OF WATERMELON! Someone hold me.

Tuesday, July 17: Dr. A-S's office called and said my blood tests all looked normal. Wonderful! This morning I put out some last-minute fires for work and by lunch, I packed the kids up and drove to my sister, Sherri's house. She loaded her stuff (and her son, CJ) in my van and we headed to Georgia. The three-hour drive went by quickly because none of the four kids fought (well, there wasn't any bloodshed and no shooting flames). We arrived at my parents' house about suppertime and enjoyed a wonderful ham dinner followed by a scrumptious chocolate cake (thanks, Mae!). We finally settled in for the night at midnight - I was soooo tired!

Wednesday, July 18: Man, I'm exhausted. Sherri and CJ slept down at our other sister, Traci's house (next door). Nicky slept on the floor, Ash on the couch, and Billy-Bronco-Josh and I slept on a futon. I was kicked in the head, tummy, leg, back, and side all night long. Finally at 5am, I gave up and got out of bed. All day today, I was really saddle-sore and limping. I got Paul to call Dr. F's office to see if there was anything I could take (Advil, Motrin, a loaded shotgun?) for this pain and the answer was ... Tylenol. Woo. Needless to say, I hobbled all day. L

In the early afternoon, Sherri and I took the kids down to the cement pond for a swim. I sat in the shade swelling and complaining while Sherri got in that cold spring water and played with the kids. After swimming, we headed back to the house, put on bug spray and went fishing with Daddy and Traci. I was so tired that I bribed Nicky with ice cream so that he and I could go back to the house.

We grilled out hotdogs and hamburgers for supper and watched the three boys (Josh 7-years-old, CJ 5-years-old, and Nicky 4-years-old) try to kill one another in a wrestle-to-the-death contest. That's one thing I really missed about my home - our playroom was in another part of the house and I didn't have to watch the boys shoving, groping, and then crying when the play got too tough. It reminded me of those family get-togethers when there would only be one chocolate cake and most all the females had PMS. It was downright frightening.

Tonight I slept on the futon alone! None of the kids argued with me about it - they wanted me to get rest so that I would stop being so grouchy.

31 Weeks, Thursday, July 19, 2001: Paul arrived at 10:30am! THANK-YEW JESUS! By now, I was contemplating packing my pillows and sleeping out in the shed with the tractor, hoes, and field mice. I must admit, I did sleep a lot better last night.

I had an enormous craving for chocolate ice cream and barbecue potato chips today. You can just guess what the kids and I had for lunch - chocolate ice cream and barbecue potato chips. Next time, I'm going to take my chips and ice cream and hide in a closet.

Today we picked beans, corn, and taters, and then we went to the cement pond swimming again. Afterward, we dined on fresh garden veggies and grilled trout (from our fishing expedition Wednesday). Roger, Sherri's husband arrived right after supper - I think Sherri was shouting out some praises of her own! Wah-hoo! The men have arrived! Now they can take care of these daggum kids!

The baby had a ton of hiccups today. S/he gets really mad when s/he gets the hiccups - kicking, rolling, and punching like crazy. My belly button is starting to stick out. Eww!

We went to bed early - I got to sleep alone again - ha ha! I love this newly found fear of Momma my kids have! The baby had a bunch of hiccups today.

Friday, July 20: We got up, ate a late breakfast and left for Lake Winnepesaukah. We arrived at 12:30pm and only after a couple of rides it started pouring down rain! The rides closed down until the rain let up about 30 minutes later. Everyone had a blast riding the rides in between the intermittent showers. Being pregnant, I only rode the ladies' room toilets and the antique car (Ashley drove) - I really missed riding the Cannonball Rollercoaster and the Tilt-a-whirl! We played some arcade games and Josh and Paul won some fairly large prizes - big stuffed Scooby Doos!

The kids wanted to ride the Pirate ship and Traci and I immediately tried to talk them out of it. Last year, Traci and I rode with the kids on this ride and it made us really nauseated. Daddy and Sherri brushed us off and took Ashley and Josh (Nick and CJ were too short) on the ride. Needless to say, Traci and I got to say I-told-you-so-neener-neener to Daddy and Sherri when they staggered off the ride all green-faced. Luckily, someone had Tums antacids and that helped them ... a little. Not long afterward, about 5pm, we left.

With the rainy weather, the temperature wasn't too hot and I wasn't hurting too badly. I wore my maternity belt while we were at Lake Winnie and after five hours of walking around, I didn't have any back pain. Sure, I was worn out - all of those trips to the ladies room was tiring!

We grilled out steaks for supper and once again watched the boys wrestle and cry. God, please help me.

Saturday, July 21: My dear husband is a shop-a-holic. Since my parents' house is just a few miles south of Dalton, Georgia (home of the outlet malls and carpet capital of the world), Paul just had to go shopping this morning. I "let" him go on one condition - he had to bring me back something. Sure enough, he came back in about an hour with two pair of Bass® shoes and a big bag of homemade chocolate for me. The kids dug into MY bag of chocolate, but all I was interested in was ... watermelon.

Once again, we headed out to the cement pond to swim. I spent most of my time in the bathroom voiding the fifty pounds of watermelon that I consumed. Much to my horror, Paul allowed Ashley and Josh to jump off the high dive. I don't know if it was hormones or what, but I actually wept and prayed when Josh jumped off the diving board (12-ish feet above the water) into 14 or so feet of spring water. When his head appeared above the water line, I thanked God and turned my back to the cement pond. I just couldn't watch.

Sherri and her family left in the early afternoon, and a bit later Paul ran up to Dalton and picked up pizza from a wonderful little pizzeria named Gondolier's. It was wonderful! We rented and watched the movie Castaway and had a rather sedate night. The boys decided not to participate in wrestling tonight. Oh yes, God is good, y'all.

Sunday, July 22: After a pretty decent night's sleep and a glorious breakfast of bacon, sausage, eggs, biscuits, gravy, grits, and fresh tomatoes, we left for Alabamer. We had a wonderful visit, but every single one of us was ready to come home. I imagine Mother and Daddy were pretty happy to get us (and the mini-wrestlers) out of their house!

32 Weeks, Wednesday, July 25, 2001: (OK, well, it's 32 weeks minus one day!) I had my 32-week appointment with Dr. F today and unfortunately Paul couldn't meet me to help with the kids. By a true act of God, the kids behaved! There was no bloodshed, shooting flames, or broken bones or furniture. I was totally stunned.

Anyway, I've gained two pounds putting me at 145 - 16 total (19 pounds total according to me - why don't doctors take into consideration the weight of clothing, shoes, underwear, skin, etc.?), and my belly measures 32cm. When we were listening to the baby's heartbeat, the baby kept moving and kicking the speaker. Man, I can't get over how much this baby moves around!

I had a ton of questions, and here is a list of what I found out:

  • With my previous c-section, I was forced to endure a barbaric morphine pump that dispensed morphine manually every six minutes. Other than being a pain in the butt, I had an allergic reaction to the morphine requiring that I take an antihistamine. Dr. F said that if I had to have another c-section, he would most definitely avoid the morphine - he would try some other drug in a pump.
  • I've been really concerned with childcare during labor. If I have a quick labor, I fear Paul would miss the birth due to watching kids in the waiting room. We don't have a babysitter (are you kidding - we have no life) and many of my family members are inaccessible. I found out the hospital offers a (very expensive) daytime babysitting service. Ah well, things will work out - they always do.
  • On the opposite side of the coin, if my labor isn't too crazy I found out that my kids could have short visits with me in the LDR (labor and delivery room).
  • My first labor was 18-ish hours (small break in membranes - then inducement), second was 11-ish hours (natural dilation with artificial rupture of membranes at 9cm), and third was 4-ish hours (artificial rupture of membranes at 3cm, then natural dilation). I worried: could this next labor possibly be less than 4 hours? Chances are this labor would be more like the last, around 4-ish hours.
  • If my water breaks, I should have time to shower and pack before heading to the hospital unless the fluid isn't greenish/brownish colored.
  • Dr. F said that they do not vaginally deliver breech babies. I wondered what the chances were that I'd have another baby turn breech while I'm in labor. Dr. F said that what happened to me when Nicky was born is really rare and he doubted that it would happen again. I am an excellent candidate for a vaginal delivery. He promised that he'd do all he could to keep from having another c-section.
  • Lastly, I wondered what other doctors helped him out during off-hours besides Dr. M because I wanted to make sure I met these doctors before I delivered. I don't want to have a stranger delivering my baby. There are several other OB/GYNs helping Dr. F, but he said that he was going to deliver my baby.

Now here's where the appointment got interesting. Dr. F said that due to my age (remember I'm an old fart, now) and my flaky ANA test results, he himself wanted to handle my delivery. He was not going to allow me to go to my due date, September 20th, but wanted to try to deliver my baby approximately ten days early (give or take two days - depending on the "condition" of my cervix). So now we're looking at D-Day being September 10th by inducement.

I'm partly excited because we've narrowed the delivery date down to a certain window of time (September 7 through 12) and I know that I'll definitely need the smaller, newborn-sized disposable diapers. I doubt my baby will be over six pounds being delivered so early. In addition to this, with the delivery date being "set" and an inducement being planned, childcare will be easier dealt with. Whew!

On my next visit (August 8th) I will have an ultrasound to see the position and size of the baby. Josh and Ashley are absolutely rabid to find out what "flavor" the baby is. I imagine that it will be hard NOT to see what the sex is on a big 34-week fetus!

Friday, July 27: Today was Daddy's birthday, happy birthday, Leo! I haven't been able to sleep very well since my appointment last Wednesday. I've been worried about the early delivery and everything that could go wrong.

I had to work a good eight hours building a flat personnel file for a deadline today. Ouch - sitting is just as bad as standing is on my varicose vein. Complain, complain, and complain! The end of pregnancy is such a pain!

I don't think I like "Jacob Alexander" for a name any more. Jacob William has a better ring to it, also, I'm beginning to think "Rachel Faith" sounds funny. This naming stuff is driving me nuts. It's weird that we definitely like the names Rachel and Jacob due to the fact that in the Bible, *Rachel was married to **Jacob. (*Remember she was the mom to Joseph the coat-of-many-colors dude - for more about Rachel, read Genesis 29-30.) (**Jacob was a stinker and somewhat of a Momma's boy; he stole his twin brother, Esau's birthright from their dad, Isaac. There's a ton more about Jacob - more flattering stuff, I might add! Read about it in these passages: Genesis 29-30, Genesis 37:18-28, Genesis 38-47, and Romans 9:13.)

Saturday, July 28: We met Paul's *family (*mom, dad, brother, sister and her family) for a late lunch at a wonderful country cookin' place called Lloyd's. Luckily, I got to sit at the end of the table far away from all six kids (aged 4 to 12), therefore my heartburn didn't kick in until after the meal. Afterward, we shopped for baby stuff at Burlington Coat factory - man, they have a ton of baby stuff. We got a playpen and Pooh Bear decorations for the nursery, plus we found netting to put over the playpen for when soccer/football season starts. Tonight we put up the decorations and I packed a diaper bag with baby stuff to take to the hospital. Gosh, those newborn diapers are so little! This is really happening - we're having a baby! It all still seems like a dream. The kids argued (they'll argue over anything) about: who will get to hold the baby first, who will get to rock the baby, etc. Paul and I laughed - we know that after the first week or so goes by, the kids will be too caught up in school, soccer, football, etc. to care!

Sunday, July 29: I didn't sleep well last night - the pain from my lover-ly varicose vein kept me up last night and all day today it has ached. I'm really concerned because I haven't written anything for my SouthernAngel readers and some of them are starting to unsubscribe from my list. Don't leave y'all! I have all of these great ideas and experiences to write about, but the pain from my varicose vein has been keeping me away from sitting in front of the computer. After I've sit here programming for a few hours, I don't want/feel like sitting here any longer. Maybe I can lean back in Paul's recliner and use my laptop. Hmm. I have a bunch of funny ideas to write about, but getting them from my head to a file on my computer is the problem!

The baby is still really active. I thought by 32 weeks s/he would squirm instead of kick-boxing/aerobics. I had a bunch of B-H contractions today - more than usual. This might be due to my fatigue. The baby had the hiccups twice today and I could tell that s/he is head-down because the hiccups were down low. I hope this baby stays head-down and doesn't turn breech!

Today while watching the Winston Cup race (and cheering on Junior), I teased the kids by saying that if the baby is a boy, I'm going to name it Junior. Nicky was all serious and said, "I want you to name him Bobby Labonte and change my name to Terry Labonte." Uh, right.

33 Weeks, Thursday, August 2, 2001: This saddle soreness is AWFUL! When I sit it hurts, when I walk it hurts, and when I stand it hurts. The only thing that doesn't hurt is lying down. I imagine the weight will start piling on if all I do is lie around. Sigh. I'm going to have to MAKE myself walk on the treadmill. Today I discovered (when I took the kids to the YMCA's pool) that if I stand in the pool for a while, I don't have any pain! I tried sitting in a cool bath last night, but it didn't do the same thing. I wonder if the YMCA would let me move in so that I could stay in the pool all the time. Hmm.

Today I had to take off my wedding ring - my fingers are getting too swollen to wear it any more. I hope no one thinks I'm this hugely pregnant mom of three that's trolling for men by not wearing a wedding band. Yeah, sure!

The Constipation Fairy has been visiting me again - oh joy. I'm hoping that massive doses of watermelon, peaches, and lots of water will make her visit with someone else. I've forgotten how pleasant the end of pregnancy can be.

This week, I've rediscovered how wonderful Oreo Blizzards from Dairy Queen are - unfortunately, so have the kids. They seem to have the same "cravings" that I do: they've eaten every Oreo, pickle, M&M, peach, and scrap of hoarded watermelon in my house! The stinkers.

Monday, August 6: Tropical Storm Barry is making his way through Alabama and I have had a TON of Braxton-Hicks contractions - I wonder if it's the low pressure that's making them more frequent. It feels like I'm getting a really tight hug around my belly - my face begins to feel hot and I just want to stop what I'm doing and breathe really slow.

Today I finally got the boys' hair buzzed, and I took Ashley by the YMCA to model their new soccer uniforms for this fall.

Tuesday, August 7: It's still rainy and I'm still having a bunch of B-H contractions. I swear I think this baby is lower! This evening while taking a bath, it hurt just sitting in the tub trying to shave my legs. My saddle soreness has reached a new threshold of pain. Paul said he'd try to find me a pad to sit on in the tub. [Insert hysterical laugh here.] Speaking of shaving my legs - oh, now THERE's a treat. I can't reach the outsides of my ankles or the back of my thighs and it is just physically impossible for me to shave my legs in the shower. I may have to just shower (not take a tub bath) and go for the Bohemian look by letting the leg hair grow long on my ankles and backs of my thighs. Heck, if leather pants, chartreuse polyester shirts with wide lapels, and hip-hugging bellbottoms are back in, then daggum, the hairy leg look is sure to follow! Eww!

34 Weeks (-1 day), Wednesday, August 8, 2001: I woke up saddle sore this morning - ugh. I hate that. The B-H contractions have eased off - I only had a couple of them this morning before I headed to the doctor's office. The ultrasound was so neat! The baby looked like a baby - not an alien! The baby's head was right on top of my bladder - resting there just as comfortable (to the baby) as can be. No wonder I have to pee all the time! We still don't know what flavor this baby is - I told Ultrasound Lady that if she saw the sex to not point it out to us! The kids started arguing over what the baby was (what's new - little farts'll argue over a rock), but they really enjoyed seeing the baby's face, heart beating, fingers, toes, ribs, legs, arms, and head. Ultrasound Lady pointed out the brain and Paul commented, "Oh cool! At least this one has a brain!" Unfortunately, the sarcasm was lost on the kids. The baby measured about 4.5 pounds.

While Paul watched the kids, I had my 34-week visit with Dr. F. I've gained 1.5 pounds (146.5 - 20.5 pounds total so far). My blood pressure was 100/70 and I think I heard Dr. F say that my belly measured right at 34cm. When I mentioned the increased pelvic pressure that I've been having over the past couple of days, Dr. F told me it's probably due to the c-section scar. Scar tissue doesn't expand as well as regular uterine tissue, but the good news is that it will soon stretch out even with the uterine tissue and the pelvic pressure should ease up some what.

In previous weeks, I had been walking on the treadmill and was generally more active that I have been in the past week. With the saddle soreness (from sitting, standing, eating Oreos, walking, breathing, etc.), all I feel like doing is lying around. He said that at this stage of the pregnancy it wouldn't hurt anything to not get any exercise. Now, if I could only get my kids and hubby to just feed me grapes (watermelon?), rub my feet, and fan me, then life would be perfect. Heh. Yeah right. Just a bit ago, I begged the kids to let me rest to recuperate from the day's activities at the hospital and right when I drifted off to sleep, Nicky screeched from the bathroom, "MOM-MUH! Come wipe my BUTT!"


I go back in two weeks for my next visit and this time he will do a pelvic on me. Wow - it's really getting close now! This afternoon when Ashley, Josh, and I were viewing the ultrasound video, there was a small part where we think we saw between the baby's legs. Now, I could be wrong, but it looked like there was no penis meaning that it's a girl. OK, I'll admit it could've been the foot bones (the feet were crossed right over the baby's purty parts), but I wonder! Paul told me last night that he just knew that it was a boy. I've felt all along that it's a girl. Hmm. Rachel Faith (Rachel Grace?) or Jacob William? I'm really excited - I can't wait!

Sunday, August 12: Today we went to the wonderful world of Wal-Mart for our weekly discount needs and last minute things for school. The supply aisles were picked cleaner than Oprah's plate after an all-you-can-eat buffet at the Colonel's [Kentucky Fried Chicken]. Luckily, the only "school" supplies we needed were of the underwear variety. What kind of mom would I be sending my kids to school in worn and stained undies? I also had a new experience today: I bought Ashley her first bra. I don't know what saddened me more - the fact that she is now old enough to need one or the fact that she is just one cup size smaller than me.

The baby now squirms and is big enough to kick me in the ribs. I can tell that s/he is in the head down position because the kicks, punches, pats, and blows occur from below my right breast down to a bit below my right hip bone. The absolute WORST is when the baby rolls his/her head. I have to totally stop what I'm doing, cross my legs, grunt, and hope that I don't wet myself.

Wednesday, August 15: Last night, I had to sneeze. Well, normally this little bodily function isn't usually TOO bad because I press my legs together (to keep from wetting myself) and hunch over (to keep from pulling a tummy ligament). Unfortunately, I was lying on the bed propped up on all of my pillows real comfy-like and the urge to sneeze hit with such force that all I could do was lie back and let 'er rip. I ended up pulling a muscle right where my diaphragm is! OW! I reckon I'm lucky, Daddy actually cracked a rib sneezing one time.

Sleep is getting to be one of those things that I remember fondly. Like the time (before kids) when Paul and I slept until noon on Saturdays or when constipation was an illness suffered by "old" folks or when my worst bill due was that pesky $10 a month to Sears, Roebuck, and Company. All of my tossing and turning is keeping Paul up too so he's about as friendly as a pregnant woman when she runs out of Oreos.

35 Weeks, Thursday, August 9, 2001: Nothing really remarkable except the fact that I've misplaced my feet. I know they're down there - I feel them swelling - but I just can't seem to see them when I'm standing. Or reach them when I'm try to shave my legs, or reach them when I'm sitting and trying to tie my shoes. Every now and then, my kids will point out my feet to me in a loving way, "Wow Mom! You don't have any ankles!" Or, "Gosh! How'd your ankles get so fat?!"

Saturday, August 18: It was a hot summer day! Paul and I took the kids to the YMCA pool and got to watch everyone watch my belly. It was quite fascinating. Either they were thinking, "Wow! Lookit that, George! I ain't never seen a whale up close!" Or, "Eww! Is that her belly button sticking up through her bathing suit? Ugh, there oughta be a law - how disgusting! She should put a band-aid over it or something!" Thankfully, a large thundershower arrived and we left, thus saving the YMCA patrons from further eye damage. Gee, I hope we can go to the pool tomorrow!

Sunday, August 19: Today was my younger sister's birthday - Happy Birthday Traci!

We didn't make it to the pool today, oh darn. Since I got up at 4:30am, I was tired and growled at any family member that came near me (unless they offered me watermelon). Therefore, I spent most of my day propped up on pillows complaining about my aching back, tingling fingers, swollen ankles, puffy face, frequency of urination, pelvic pain, and the cable reception in our bedroom. For some odd reason, my dear husband and kids spent most of their time outside today. How odd!

Monday, August 20th: This morning Nicky's soon-to-be *5K (*5 year-old kindergarten from a Baptist church) teacher came by the house for an in-home visit. The purpose of the visit is for her to get to know the kids and parents. She admitted that this was her first visit (she is fresh out of college and was really nervous).  

Nicky wouldn't speak to her for nuthin' - no eye contact - nuthin'.

Right when she was leaving, Nicky ripped off his shirt and made that endearing underarm poot noise (that Josh can so eloquently and tunefully perform) for his teacher. Yes, I just about died - I think my face is *still* red.  He wouldn't speak to her, but he could make a fart noise with his armpit. She practically SPRINTED for her car. Poor thang. Paul and I are so proud. Wish I'd taped it.

36 Weeks, Thursday, August 23, 2001: I am totally worn out. Nicky and I got to Dr. F's office a bit after 9am for my 36-week visit. After waiting a while, one of the nurses watched Nicky while I had my exam ... yup ... it was one of those exams. I've gained four pounds, putting my total weight gain at 24 pounds (according to Dr. F, 21 pounds), and I measured 36cm. I'm a fingertip dilated, 50% effaced, and the baby is floating around -2 station. He is still sticking with inducing me about 10 days early - depending on my cervix. In other words, if my cervix is ready earlier, he'll induce earlier - else he'll probably induce on/around September 10.

Also, he said he wanted me to start having a non-stress test (NST) every week to make sure the baby is fairing well. [I think the name "Non-Stress Test" is inaccurate because when you hear that you're having one (and you don't know what one is), you immediately get stressed!]

What's an NST? They place a couple of monitors on your belly and wait on Baby to kick, jab, poke, roll, squirm, or dance the Watusi. When Baby moves, his/her heart rate should accelerate to 160 beats or higher. Failure to do so results in a non-reactive test meaning that Baby isn't doing too well. This test takes a minimum of 20-30 minutes but can last as long as 2 to 3 hours (if Baby decides to be lazy and not move around).

So, Nicky and I headed over to the Antepartum Testing portion of the hospital and the nurse hooked my belly up. Every time I felt the baby move I had to push this little button to mark the movement(s). I had a really fun time monitoring the baby's movements while keeping Nicky from resetting the machine, pulling wires, raising and lowering the hospital bed, calling the nurse, and play acting (loudly) with his Batman, "Aaaarrrhhh!!! I'm falling! I fell into the poot water! Ahh! You made me poot!" ("Poot" is his latest favorite word, by the way.)

Fortunately, the baby moved quite a bit and his/her heart rate made it up to 170 most every time s/he moved. I even had a nice long B-H contraction too (thankfully Nicky wasn't jumping on the bed at that moment), and the baby's heart rate handled the contraction well.

After that fun, Nicky and I walked over to the Open Heart Unit and visited my Aunt Ruth (who had bypass surgery earlier in the week). Nicky wasn't allowed in the unit (they must've had hidden cameras in that Antepartum Testing room and saw what a sweetie he was), so he waited at the nurse station while I poked my head in, gave her homemade cards from the kids, and said, "Hi."

Hopefully next week when I go in for my NST and 37-week visit, Paul will come with us so that Nicky can share his love and attention. Thank yew Jesus!

Sunday, August 26: All I do is drink water and pee, drink water and pee, drink water and pee, and drink water and pee. Why do I drink all that water? It helps with the swelling and it eases the (whispering) constipation. I try not to drink water too close to bedtime, but right at bedtime, it's like my body just "knows" it's bedtime so I get really thirsty. I'll brush my teeth and look longingly at the faucet. My mouth waters and I think, "Oooh, that cold cold wet delicious water. Oh gosh, I'm so thirsty." And 9 times out of 10, I gulp down a couple of glasses ... and then pee and pee and pee all night long. Sigh.

Now if you'll excuse me, I must go to the restroom.

Tuesday, August 28: Tonight as I was serving supper (when else?), I made a comment that the baby had the hiccups. Nicky (ah the curiosity of the males in my home) asked, "Does the baby poot in your belly too?"

"What a good question!" I said, "Baby doesn't really have any air inside so Baby can't really poot like you poot."

He furrowed his brow and then asked, "Does the baby hold his nose the whole time he's in your belly?"

I giggled and then explained to him about how the umbilical cord worked, but in the back of my mind I got this mental image of an ultrasound screen showing the baby holding his nose.

I've been having a bunch of Braxton-Hicks contractions and the saddle soreness getting worse. I wonder if the baby has dropped any?

37 Weeks, Thursday, August 30, 2001: Today was Nicky's fifth birthday! I can't believe my "baby" is five! Okay, for the results of my exam(s) today:

  • My NST was great; the baby rolled and kicked like crazy. His/her heartbeat sounded like a horse galloping and s/he is thriving well.
  • I've gained 3 pounds - 27 total.
  • I'm 1cm dilated, 80% effaced, soft cervix (posterior), and the baby is at -1 station. That's quite a bit of change from last week!

Dr. F said that if I don't go into labor next week, he'll see me for one more appointment and on that day, he'll schedule my inducement for the following week. He didn't specify a day, but I bet it will be the 10th or the 11th.

I asked if I would have to have an epidural before the inducement due to the Pitocin (a drug that causes contractions), and he said that he liked to avoid giving Pitocin to women who previously had c-sections, but sometimes it's warranted. He wants to make sure my cervix is ready and just break my water to induce me. He made the comment that since this is my fourth delivery and since my cervix has been changing so rapidly, I'll have a really quick labor and probably not even need an epidural. Gulp. I don't know if I'm *that* brave! I just wanted to put off getting the epidural until I was hurting as much as I was when I had to watch the recounts last winter. Oooh, that was PAIN!

It's going to be an interesting week coming up, that's for sure!

Friday, August 31: I was horribly tired today and I've noticed that these Braxton-Hicks contractions are starting to have a bit of pain associated with them. Ouch!

Saturday, September 1: My in-laws came over for a short visit to celebrate Nicky's birthday. We had sandwiches, chips, cake, and ice cream. I thought the visit would really make me tired, but it didn't. I had a really nice time. Of course, there were six kids aged 11 and under running amok, but I think my ignore-them-until-you-see-blood-or-smell-smoke gene was working over time! Tonight I had the same old BH contractions and I was really saddle sore.

D-Day! Sunday, September 2, 2001: At 4am, I woke up, went to pee and found blood on my underwear and in the potty. I was still having non-painful (and irregular) BH contractions, but the blood freaked me out. I never had any kind of bloody show/discharge with the other three, so I called the doctor on call (Dr. C) and he said to come on in to the hospital.  

Paul woke the kids and I took a quick shower - don't ask why. It's this strange feminine need to feel clean when we know there will be 52 people looking at our nether parts.

Anyway, all five of us got to Labor and Delivery @ 5am and found that I was only slightly dilated more than Thursday and apparently the blood was my mucus plug (it was brown with the other three!). I was sent home (embarrassed and in tears) at 8:30am with strict instructions to come back if the contractions got less than 10 minutes apart or if the pain from the contractions was more than I could handle. I decided then that when I *do* go back to the hospital, I WOULD NOT be sent back home! My contractions will be really close together and the pain will be BAD.

Right about the time we arrived home, my own mother and dad arrived from Georgia. Now the pressure was REALLY on to have this baby soon! Mother was actually on her way out for a week-long cruise when I called her this morning.

I tried to stay on my feet as much as possible and I got on the treadmill and walked miles. Around 4pm, the contractions began to have "teeth" (OUCH), but they were right about 9 minutes apart. Every time I'd have a contraction, I'd lean against something (wall, couch, etc.) and breathe slowly. Ashley followed me around like a little lost puppy and when I'd stop and breathe deeply and slowly, she'd ask me, "Are you having a contraction?"

Duh. "Yes honey ... <pause to breathe> ... Mommy is hurting & <pause to breathe> & give me a minute."

After the contraction, she'd always ask, "Did that hurt?"

Yup, God gave me the strength to keep from ripping her sweet head off.

Around 5pm, the pain went up a few notches and the timing went from 9 minutes to 5 minutes. I felt a bad need to take a bath and to HURRY! Paul was at the store buying Lord-knows-what and when he got home at 5:30, I demanded that he shower because I had a strange feeling that we needed to get to the hospital soon. I called Dr. C at 6pm and reported my progress, and he said to come back.

Paul and I arrived at the hospital at 7:15pm and the nurse found me to be 5-6cm dilated. Woo hoo! I'm not going back home! I'm going to have a baby tonight!

Around 7:45, Dr. C arrived, examined me, and said I was 6cm and broke my water (without warning me) and I immediately asked for an epidural because I am notorious for going "fast" when my water is broken.  I had to wait until I received an entire bag of IV fluid - I don't know why, but they said I had to have it before the epidural.

About 8:15, the IV bag was empty and I was having contractions one on top of the other. I finally received my epidural.  When you receive an epidural, you must curl into a ball while they stick a huge needle in your back. Just imagine having some of the worse pain in your life from contractions and they politely ask you to be still. I pondered grabbing all of those wires and inflicting bodily damage to them.  They were gracious to not touch me while I had a contraction and sobbed into the shoulder of the nurse.

Right after the epidural, I leaned back anticipating the glorious joy of pain relief that normally comes immediately receiving an epidural, but I found that I was in even MORE pain!  Especially down on my perineal area. "What's wrong?  I'm dying here!  The pain is BAD!"  I actually had trouble breathing because I was hurting so badly. From the previous epidurals, I knew that the pain should go away not get worse!

Well, the nurse checked me and found that I was fully dilated, 100% effaced, and the baby was at +2 station, so I was ready to push. Ah ha! So THAT'S where the pain was coming from! Good God! I dilated from 6 to 10 in 20 or so minutes? Yeow!

Since I could still feel about 70% of the pain, the nurse told me that pushing would make me feel better, so with the next contraction, I pushed while my cheerleader nurse slowly counted to ten. Paul helped me hold my legs and pull my head to my chest. The contraction was still going, so I pushed twice more.

In the little mirror, I could see this black thing emerging and I asked what it was. "It's the head!" Oh my gosh! In the brief minute or two between contractions, I pointed to the mirror and asked the nurse how she could look at something that ugly every day. She said that she didn't see it as ugly - I reckon that's a good attitude for a labor and delivery nurse!

On the next contraction, I pushed three more times, and the nurse told me to stop pushing and wait on the doctor.  I wanted her to lean a bit closer to me so that I could rip off an appendage (or two).

"Excuuuuuuuse me!?!??!" So I panted for a couple of moments during the next contraction while the doctor put on his little green outfit, welder's mask, and grinned at me.

He sat down, got into the "catcher's" position, and said I could start pushing again. On that next push, my baby entered the breathing world.  

"It's a BOY!" The nurse and doctor yelled at the same time.

I can't believe it! Wow, THREE sons!

I had no episiotomy, but a 2nd degree tear on the location where I had a previous episiotomy. My back and bottom are sore and the cramps are horrendous, as they will be when you have four kids.  

Jacob William weighed in at 5 pounds 11 ounces, head circumference was 12 inches, and he was 19 inches tall. His apgar was 8 then 9 - not bad for a 37.2-week gestation baby!

God has blessed me abundantly. Words escape me and big fat tears burn my eyes when I look into his tiny face. I can't believe that Jacob's finally here.

Epilogue: The other kids are thrilled - they fight over holding Jacob. Hah - it won't be long until they'll be complaining about him!

It's been an interesting week. Ashley, Josh, and Nick were amazed that we could name the baby anything we wanted. They were really amazed when they found out how I planned to feed the baby - the boys were TOTALLY grossed out! "Eww! You're feedin' it with your BOOBIE?!!?!?!"

Ah yes, this from two booger-eating connoisseurs.

Speaking of breast-feeding, I had to go back to the hospital on Thursday (9/6) for a consultation with a lactation nurse. Apparently since Jacob was three weeks early, he is a "lazy" nurser. He had lost a lot of weight and now weighs as much as a 5-pound bag of sugar. In addition to this, we discovered that I have gone up TWO cup sizes this past week due to breast-feeding (I only went up one with my previous three). Paul was amazed, he told me, "Daggum, I have NEVER seen your boobs this big!"

I never had trouble nursing my other three, but now for a couple of weeks I must use:

  • a nipple shield (to help Jake latch on better),
  • an electric pump (to help establish my milk supply), and
  • occasionally a supplemental feeding system (a syringe and tiny tubing to assist Jake in getting enough to eat).

Dang! All I need is a sword and a catchy name and I could be the next super hero or something.

Four children, Ashley, Joshua, Nicolas, and Jacob were given to me and each one holds a special place in my heart. My home will definitely be filled with chaos in the coming days, but it will not lack in thankfulness and love!

Keep smiling!

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