Thursday, November 09, 2017


My birthday is this weekend.  I will be 40.  At one time, forty seemed to me to be quite old, but now it just seems rather normal.  I remember talking to people about exercise when I was in my 20s and telling them, "I just want to stay in shape so I can play basketball with my kids when I'm forty."  Forty seemed a world away and rather abstract.  And now it's here.

My life isn't exactly what I pictured. While I'm in great shape and even took to running half marathons in my 30s, I don't play basketball with my kids because none of them particularly likes that sport.   My kids are great people, but they're also normal kids who talk back to their parents at times and tease their younger siblings.  Having lots of kids has been more wonderful than I imagined, but also a lot harder than I ever expected it to be.  My marriage is strong and healthy and I'm blessed with a husband who is as committed to our faith and family as I am.  But we also have a normal marriage where we don't prioritize different aspects of life the same way and we don't always see eye to eye.

At the beginning of the year, I knew this birthday was coming up and I wanted to set some goals for my 40th.  Fitness seemed the obvious choice so I set quite a few goals as a way to be "Fit by 40."  I wanted to improve my 5K time, break 60 minutes in a 10K, and run 2 half marathons and a triathlon, plus tackle my sweet tooth and lose the rest of the weight I gained with Benji. I started January off with a no sugar challenge.  I made it, barely, though for some reason I didn't understand at first, the last two weeks were ten times harder than the first two.  Come February, I figured out why my hormones craved sugar so much, and I settled in for a different kind of marathon, the nine-month-long kind.

Part of me wishes I had some grand achievement to show for my 40th year.  I wish I had run more miles than ever before and hit my goal weight.  But then I remember:  I do have something pretty amazing I worked on all year! I wouldn't trade any other accomplishment for the one I hold in my arms right now.

My body spent most of the year making this little miracle:

And that is better than any kind of trophy I might have earned.  Goals are great, but it's wonderful at times to have them interrupted by more important things.  I weigh more now than I hoped to at this birthday, but it was for a good cause.  And I have a whole year to change my "Fit by 40" goal to a "Fit at 40" one.  I'm thinking maybe it's time to run my second marathon?

And while no other goal can really compare to getting Gideon here, I did have a few other new experiences this year I am proud of:

1.  I learned how to swim and ran my first triathlon. I spent more hours training for the triathlon than I ever did for one of my halfs, and I did it while pregnant and dealing with morning sickness, so I'm very proud of that accomplishment.

2.  Last November, I decided to learn Portuguese.  I am far from fluent, but I am very proud of the progress I made.  I have completed every lesson Duolingo has and later this month, I should hit a 365 day streak!  I need to figure out the next step

3.  I took six months of piano lessons, practiced daily, and got much more competent, just in time to be asked to play for Relief Society.

4.  In April, my husband and I celebrated our 20th anniversary.  
We were blessed to enjoy a nice cruise to the Bahamas and explored the Florida Keys, never thinking that six months later, they would be devastated by a hurricane.

5.  This year, I marked the transition to being a mom of an adult child.  Lillian turned 18, graduated from high school, and then headed off to college. I don't claim credit for the amazing person she has become, but the fact that she is such a great person gives me confidence that the rest of the kids will figure it out, too.

This past year has been one of my best and my happiest.  I am so content with my life and what I've been able to accomplish in my 40 years.  

Happy Birthday to me!

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Halloween 2017 ~ Wordless Wednesday

Cami dressed up as something different for every event:  She was a witch, a monkey, a fairy, and a pirate!

Toddlers are the absolute best on Halloween.  They start out having no idea what is going on and then quickly realize everyone is handing them out free candy just for being cute!  It's delightful to watch.

Friday, November 03, 2017

The Last ~ Gideon's Birth Story

It has been a few happy, lovely, exhausting weeks since Gideon joined us. He is a sweet baby, but especially this last week, he's been a bit more fussy than my other babies.  He fights sleep and once he is asleep, doesn't settle into it for long.  Up until a few nights ago, he was up every two hours to eat at night, like clockwork -- 12, 2, 4, 6 most nights.  We tried giving him a bottle of formula two nights in a row just to see if that would help.  It did, sort of.  Both nights, he slept 3 hours at first, then woke up every 2 after that.  I decided that extra hour of sleep wasn't worth the hassle of the bottle, so we're back to exclusively nursing.  He still slept 3 hours last night, then woke up every two after that.  At least he is consistent.  And the nice thing about breastfeeding is I can pull him into bed with me and feed him while we both drift back to sleep.

I'm getting a nap every day, so life is still manageable, and I'm trying to soak up every moment with this little one.  This is the last time I will have a little tiny baby of my own, so I'm not feeling any guilt for taking the time to just hold him and let the rest of life slow down.  I don't want to miss any of this.

Many times in the past few weeks, I have marveled and thanked God for the richness of my life and my blessings.  Eleven souls entrusted to my care.  Eleven delightful, fun, challenging, amazing people that I get to spend my life with. I love the stage of life that I'm at.  My oldest is off to college and starting on all sorts of adventures, and has turned into such a wonderful girl.  My other kids are good, smart, faithful and thoughtful kids.  I gave up long ago on trying to be perfect (5 kids in 5 years will do that for you) and I also gave up on thinking that everything my kids did or didn't do was because of my parenting.  Kids come with their own personalities and challenges.  They are more like seeds that grow into what they are predestined to become, as long as you don't mess up too badly, than they are like clay ready to be molded into the shape you want them to take.  Watching my seedlings grow and become beautiful, unique plants despite my many mistakes and weaknesses helps me to relax.  It's not quite "que sera, sera," but I do realize I wasted a lot of time in my early years of parenting borrowing worry from the future rather than enjoying the day and dealing with the troubles as they come.

So, while I've become that cliched older mom who wants to tell all the younger ones, "They grow so fast!  Enjoy them while they're young!", I'm also a new mom who gets to take my own advice.  I'm enjoying (almost) every minute with this perfect new baby.

Gideon Maxwell

Gideon was our hardest baby to name. We've debated for months over what to name him. Early on, My husband and I both loved the name Gideon, but after I looked up the meaning and realized it meant "destroyer" or "hewer," I thought maybe we should consider something else.  I've had enough destructive toddlers! But nothing else seemed to fit. Finally, after reading again the accounts of Gideon in the Book of Mormon and especially of Gideon's leadership in the Bible, it felt right. We will have to teach him to be the destroyer of evil and to have the faith of the ancient Gideon -- to be willing to stand up against a multitude with a handful of men. His middle name was chosen in honor of Elder Neal A. Maxwell, and I love the balance it brings to his name. I hope he will be a spokesman for good throughout his life, and "Maxwell" means "great spring."
My last day of pregnancy. My ribs were painfully cutting into my belly, making me very sore on the right side and just so excited to NOT BE PREGNANT anymore!


The short version is I was induced on a Tuesday morning and 3 hours and 15 minutes and one push later, I had a perfect baby boy in my arms.

Tuesday morning, October 10th, was my scheduled induction (my due date was the 15th). My husband dropped me off at 6:30 in the morning to get checked in, then joined me later in the morning (we've learned that it takes forever for things to get checked in and for things to get going, so it doesn't make sense for both of us to deal with the boring stuff). My mother-in-law came and stayed with our kids from Tuesday until Thursday. 

One last picture of that belly!  I'm already forgetting how uncomfortable it was.

The induction went almost as smoothly as my others. I've had mostly good nurses in the past, but one or two has been condescending and hasn't listened very well.  So I asked for Alicia, the same nurse I had last time, and she was there and was great.  She had a male nursing student with her, a young guy who was on his second time in labor and delivery.  He reminded me of my son Joey, who wants to do something in the medical field and is doing an internship at the hospital this fall. 

My favorite anesthesiologist, Dr. L, was not there, so I had a Dr. M instead.  All of my epidurals with Dr. L -- 7 out of the 9 epidurals -- have gone well, with the only side effect of half my face going temporarily numb during Joey's birth (at least, I think it was during Joey's).  The ones he hasn't done haven't been so great. So maybe I shouldn't have been so confident this time.  But more on that later.

At 7:45, they started the pitocin at level 8 and contractions began about 8 minutes apart. I started labor at a 5 and 70% effaced. I got an epidural around 8:30, and Dr. G came at 9 to break my water. Joey stopped by for a few minutes after his internship at the hospital ended and then headed to the rest of his classes. 

Joey took this picture -- I so prefer wearing my own shirt rather than some stupid hospital gown.
DH had a five-minute work commitment in another town at 9:30 that he had not been able to reschedule.  We figured things would be fine and he'd be back in time for the rest of the birth (we're kind of chill about this whole birth thing by now), so he left a little before 9 and missed the worst part.  Right after I got the epidural, my blood pressure started to get low. For about forty minutes, it would start to go down and I would feel very light-headed and ill.  It was pretty miserable. Then the nurse would administer some ephedrine and I'd start to feel fine for a few minutes only to have the cycle begin again. I had the same reaction with Benji's birth, only that time, they had to reverse the epidural, which hadn't taken anyway. This time, at least I got the benefit of the epidural. And thankfully, I was feeling just fine again by around 10.

While DH was gone, they kept the pitocin at a low level so he'd have time to come back. My contractions stayed around 8 minutes apart but got more intense. At 10:20, with DH back, they moved the pitocin to level 12. At 10:45, I was complete and Dr. G. was called. She came a few minutes later and with just one push, Gideon was born at 11:03. They placed him on my chest and he proceeded to pee on me.  "Destroyer" indeed.  ;)

He weighed 7 lbs 12 ounces, tying with Benji for second place in our family's line-up of weights. Cami was the heaviest at all of  7-13. He was 19.5 inches long and just perfect. I had a small tear (as usual) and got a few stitches.

Gideon took to nursing right away. Unlike most of my babies, who seem a little overwhelmed by all the new experiences and only nurse for about fifteen minutes after birth, he nursed for a good hour, which is probably why my milk came in later that same day rather than two days later.

Gideon has a full head of hair that's somewhere between brown and blonde, and the cutest little face and button nose. He's got a pleasant personality and is easy to soothe (or at least he was the first few weeks; he's becoming a bit more challenging of late). 


I've recorded the details of Gideon's birth, but it's harder to capture the beautiful, tender feelings I experienced both during the pregnancy and his birth and presence here. I'm so grateful for the blessings of the gospel and the privilege it is to know something of this child's character and the need we have for him in our family. His birth was a soul-filling, beautiful experience for me and though I've been through birth and know what to expect from my body, it does not ever become routine.

Aaron gave me a blessing on Monday, promising me that the birth would go well and that my health and the baby's health would be strong. The blessing also confirmed what we have been pretty sure about, that this is the last birth we will have. I have reflected many times since then on the way God has kept his promises to me and to my family through the last twenty years of marriage and through eleven babies. When I was engaged, I was told in a blessing that my body would be healthy and able to bear the "many, many souls" who would be born to us. Despite other health challenges, my pregnancies have always been healthy, my births smooth and full-term, and my body has held up well to all of it, stretch marks and loose skin aside. I have always recovered quickly physically after birth, been able to nurse, and have no health problems caused by my many pregnancies. I feel greatly and humbly blessed.

I feel a great sense of completion, that I have been carried through so many years of child-bearing and child-rearing. It feels wonderful to mark an end to the pregnancy part of that task and to look forward to getting back in shape and then staying that way. 

Our family feels whole and complete, that we are all here now with no one missing.

And I can't tell you how much I feel like shouting "Hallelujah!" as I gather up all my maternity clothes and know I never have to wear them again! :)

Meeting Baby Gideon

My hospital has changed its procedures and instead of taking the baby to the nursery after an hour for a bath, they keep mom and baby together and do the bath in the recovery room a few hours after birth. I like that change. I spent most of the time in the hospital just holding Gideon and enjoying these moments that are so fleeting. I plan to savor every moment of the next few months.

Joey came over right after school and was the first sibling to hold Gideon. Lillian came over an hour after him, then DH brought all the rest of the kids (Joey was working by then) and Grandma before taking them to Pizza Pie Cafe that night. Everyone is in love with Gideon and got a short turn to hold him. I wasn't sure how much Benji understood of what I'd told him about a baby coming, but he had taken to patting my belly the last week and saying "Baby, baby," so I think he got some of it. And his reaction to Gideon was adorable. He couldn't stop saying, "Baby! Baby!" and he was delighted with every little move of Gideon's. As each child took their turn, starting with Cami and moving up to Michael, Benji sat right next to them and stared in delight at his little brother. "Baby! Baby!" I'm so happy that Benji has his little brother here now. 

Tender Moments

I wish I were better at remembering to take videos.  Here are a few I got at the hospital and our first day home.  

My Other Birth Stories are Here


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