July 2009


We had our own miracle here yesterday.

I’ve been having a lot of pressure and contractions, and finally a lot of crampiness yesterday and finally went in for an ultrasound….. To find that my cervix is STILL 4.1. It’s slightly shorter than it was but not by a lot which was a big surprise and great news. But that wasn’t good enough. The complete previa has moved and it’s now only marginal previa.

So let me explain HOW big of a deal it is. Because it seems like every pregnant woman I know is climbing out of the woodwork to let me it’s no big deal, their previa moved too, lol.

It’s a VERY big deal.

Miraculously so.

And this is why: A pretty good number of women get previa. It’s not uncommon at all. I’ve had it three times now. The first time was marginal. The second was low lying. This one was complete. Most women will have marginal (on the edge or lip of the cervix) or low lying (very close to the cervix.) A few women will have complete previa where it covers the complete cervix. And fewer still will have complete previa where it’s fully centered over the cervix. The last category has the smallest chance of it moving. Now. Let’s say you have ten women with previa in a room. Out of those ten women, NINE of them will have their previa move. This is why there are pregnant women relating their stories saying, “Well, I had previa and it moved.” That tenth one is usually someone with a complete previa. But that’s not all. Previa generally moves in the late second trimester, or early, or mid third trimester. It’s almost always moved by 34-35 weeks. As the uterus grows much larger and stretches, the placenta takes a natural trip along the wall and further and further away from the placenta. And in the worst case scenario, and they still have the placenta at delivery? Well, you do a c-section and it’s done.

In OUR scenario, we didn’t have ’til 34 weeks. Our obstetrician wouldn’t take the risk of a hemorrhage and place the cerclage we need in place for our incompetent cervix. We NEEDED that placenta out of there no later than 20 weeks. Sooner (like NOW) would have been better. But because the uterus is relatively small at this stage and not growing rapidly, it doesn’t tend to move yet. At 12 weeks I had a complete, fully centered, placenta previa. And I had been told no stitch. With all the contractions lately and the amount of pressure, we felt like the baby had been given a death sentence.

More than that, we were worried about me as well. An incompetent cervix dilates to a very large degree (6-8 in my case) pretty much totally painlessly and without any warning. In our last two deliveries I dilated to 8 without any unusually strong contractions. The fear here is that when my cervix starts to dilate, we’d start to hemorrhage. It was, honestly, a pretty frightening proposition.

IT MOVED.

I no longer have complete previa. I only barely have marginal previa. My dr. still will not do the cerclage. However, he will refer me to a perinatologist in a larger university hospital so it can be done. I get the referral on Monday.

My God? He’s a BIG God. He didn’t do a little miracle. This one was one of those monster miracles… The REALLY big kind. If this placenta had moved at 26 weeks… 28 weeks… 34 weeks… Well, it wouldn’t have been that unusual. But to move in THREE weeks. THREE WEEKS!!! And do you know how far along I am? 15 weeks 4 days. That’s it. We’re not talking about a stretching uterus. We’re talking about the placenta – as one friend put it – growing legs, pickin’ up, and relocating. 🙂 LOL

And I’d like to say I withstood this with grace and I can’t. I can say some days I was strong through Him. And some days I was very, very weak, especially thinking about Hannah’s death, which was pretty ugly. Everyone, please, say a thank you to God today in your prayers for me. It looks like in December/January I might just have a baby to hold.

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First, thank you all so very much for your prayers.  I am so sure they have helped and ARE helping.

Now a praise.

Where I was sure there were NO options, there has opened a window for a couple.  My current OB has said he will not give progesterone until Week 22.   It’s been very stressful here lately and I’ve not been sleeping well as contractions began Tuesday early AM (around 3:00) and they’ve just been consistent for the last couple days.  It has been exhausting, not because they’re painful or even uncomfortable, but being 15w 4 d pregnant and having contractions and a cervix that dilates painlessly?  You feel like a walking time bomb.

So I called for the progesterone injections to start.  And that was when I found out that my OB won’t start them until week 22.  I found an ACOG (American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology) Opinion (#419 if you’re looking) that shows a study that has had significant impact on preterm labor using progesterone beginning in weeks 16-20.  It IS experimental.  We’re requesting a referrral to a further away university hospital where they do perform experimental work.

Moreover, last night I “happened” upon a study that has nothing to do with incompetent cervixes.  It had to do with previa.  It appears in 1993, and again about 10 years later, they did studies trying to find out if by placing a lower McDonald’s stitch ( a type of cerclage) in the cervix if they could better the rates of infant mortality and mother’s health in at risk previa patients.

The conclusion was that there was no effect.  But did you catch the important part?   They were placing cerclages in previa patients!  Moreover I then “happened” across to an Incompetent Cervix support forum – NEVER knew it existed!!!  And there was a post on there (a few actually in the Search engine) talking about previa and IC.   Several women had had a cerclage placed WITH partial or low lying previa and at least one had had it placed successfully with total previa.

Today I’m calling the OB and requesting an appointment.  I’ll need a referral to the university hospital.  I’ve already put in my request for a specific doctor specializing in preterm delivery and placenta issues.  I’m praying for a couple things – that doors would be opened, that I have the grace to pull through this.

I’m not going to kid you.  I’ve had a rough couple days and I started bawling on my poor husband’s shoulder yesterday before work in the morning… I just really don’t know that  I can hold a baby while she dies again….  Nothing about it was fast, or painless, or peaceful.  It was tragic & awful and I just don’t want to lose this little one.

So I’m asking for continued prayers please.  I firmly (FIRMLY) believe the Lord is active in even the smallest aspects of our lives, every single day.  There is not anything He does not know, including this little one He has so generously loaned us.  I pray His will be done in our lives and that His peace and grace shine through no matter the outcome.

I have to admit there are an awful lot of good ideas in Tapestry.  Day 2 (and about 4 weeks of setting up) and I can see why so many people love it!  Marcia must have one of those amazing creative minds I hear about. 🙂

We made these cards today for geography and she also has games planned for them.  She made templates to fill out on the back.  We made them in PrintShop (just a cheapy version bought many eons ago from Ebay) and used the U.S. map found on each state page in Wikipedia.  For the state outline we used this site:  State Outlines and just blocked out the name of the state on the index card.  On the back he’ll fill in all of the state’s information.  They can be used in games or as flashcards, but what a great way to learn all the states and capitals! I especially liked the site listed above because there is a red star where the capital is on each blank map.

Example: South Carolina

Example: South Carolina

Have I mentioned to you that I’m loving Tapestry of Grace?  For the person who is deadset against textbooks and wants their children “on the same page” I would almost think it was written JUST for me.  The problem is that by the time I’d write my own curriculum I was too worn out to do all the creative things I could find ideas for on the internet.

I feel like the walking spokesperson for Tapestry of Grace at this point, but I promise I’m using a paid for version, lol.  And the OLD version to boot.  You can do Tapestry on a dime… Well, er, maybe a quarter.  And, yes, we’ve had to tweak it.  But I’m using a curriculum I’m thrilled with to no end.

By the way, we took her suggestion and we’re also making President cards this year.  Christian truly enjoyed filling out the card and reading the information yesterday.  Gasp! It almost didn’t feel like school work.  And to have something really tangible to show for the effort is really neat.  Plus it’s easy to store… And we all know I’m a little beserk about that.

We were talking on another board about the sheer MASS of comments we get from people.  It’s true.  You can’t take seven children and a pregnant Mama out in public and not get comments.  Sometimes they’re sweet & encouraging.  More often they reflect a worldly point of view.  Other times they are less subtle and sometimes downright rude.   We’ve gotten used to it.

It’s not a thing that is easy to get used to if you don’t have thick skin or laugh things off easily.  Being told you’re certifiable at least three times a week can be a bit overwhelming.   But you know?  I’ve come to agree with them.  We MUST be crazy!  I found flair on Facebook that I LOVE.  It fits me so well and I’m thinking I need a bumper sticker, lol.

Not CrazyPerfect, right?  I love it.  Honestly, I’ve been admitting it lately.  I’ve heard I’m either SuperMom or crazy.  I’ll ‘fess up to crazy.  For the first time in fourteen years we’re looking at not having children after this pregnancy, for medical reasons obviously.  And I tell you, flat out, gracefulness of tongue gone?  It sucks.

As absolutely overwhelming as it may be to be bombarded by comments about your family EVERY time you go to the grocery store, Wal-Mart, post office, library, doctor’s office, it’s STILL better than the alternative of not having a large family.  We have family members that have struggled with fertility.  I’m sure they’d gladly put up with the comments for a baby.  People just know not what they do.

Remember, please, young mamas of many, the world sees things from a wordly point of view.  They cannot be expected to acknowledge God’s goodness… They don’t understand.  They can’t see children for what they really are… Blessings.

So, I’m told I’m crazy.  I nod.  Yup, probably.  My reality is pretty different from the world’s.   It takes a special kind of crazy to have a big family and we’re okay with it. I’ll take crazy, I don’t mind. I’ll take the chaos and the hard work too. Someday our houses will be quiet and everything will be clean and there won’t be babies leaving smudgy prints on everything. And I don’t know about you, but I’m not looking forward to that day.

And honestly? They just don’t understand what they’re missing out on. Pity them.

On an entirely different note, and altogether more pleasant, today was our first official day of school.  It felt good!  We had a great first day!

1st Day Group Photo

1st Day Group Photo

We had a great time.  I admit I took a nap today!  I had to stay up ’til one finishing the jumpers and the skirts to make it a REAL, top-notch, official first day, lol.   You’ve never seen girls so grateful for a uniform, lol.  But SO much fun.  It’s going well, the fileboxes were a hit and we had no problem keeping busy.  I’m off to make supper so we can call it a success and put up our feet.

Drat.   I have Heart of Dakota.  It should be said I LIKE it!

But, for whatever reason, and I can’t even put my finger on it, I’m not using it this year………..  We’ll see how this goes.

Follow along if you’d like.  If you have a child’s bible (and my favorite is by Catherine Vos) we’ll be using what I have on hand and links from the internet for right now.

Week 1 – Creation

Monday

Reading:
Leading Little Ones to God Ch. 15
Memorization:
Introduce Verse – Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth.”
We are memorizing the books of the Old Testament right now.  We use Wee Sing’s version of memorizing the books and I freely admit I sing it to myself everytime I need to find something.

Coloring:
This site has cute coloring pages for Creation.

Alphabet:
Sing the ABC’s
And, finally introduce the letter A.  We used the templates from DLTK, printed on cardstock, cut out, and laminated for our corkboard.   And matching coloring page for the letter A.

Tuesday

Reading:
Review yesterday
Chapter 16 – and page 14 from The New Bible in Pictures

Memorization:
Same verse

Coloring:
More creation coloring pages.
Alphabet:
Sing the ABC’s
Play-Doh for an activity today…. Allow free play but also making the letter “A” out of play-doh.

Wednesday

Reading
Ch. 17 & T.N.B – p. 18

Memorization:
Same

Activity:
Nature Study followed by drawing.  Label the drawing for little ones.

Alphabet:
Coloring Page

Sing the ABC’s
Play Eric Carle’s The ABC Game – this is a new game for us (Target) so I’ll see how I like it.  It’s specifically for ages 3 and up.  Review to follow.

Thursday

Reading
pp. 24-26 in  Bible for Little Eyes

Memorization:
Same as above

Activity:
Noah coloring page

OR
Noah’s Ark Sequencing Cards
Noah’s Ark game

Alphabet:

Sing the ABC’s
Cut and Paste Activity
to follow the A is for Alligator.

Friday

Read:
pp. 28-30 in Little Eyes

Memorization:
Same as above.

Activity:
Netflix – Noah movie   (Yes, I know.  GASP!  You can’t believe I’m using the t.v., Fridays are my light days and I’m abusing the privilege of Netflix.)

Alphabet:
Sing the ABC’s
Refrigerator letters – find the “A” uppercase and lowercase.

Finally, I’m not a fan of a huge BLOCK of preschool activity.  Essentially this is set up to do this:
Introduce the Bible concept, sing a song, read the reading.  Move to the table, do the associated activity with the Bible reading.  After naptime, during snack is a good time to sing the ABC’s and then give them the alphabet activity before their outside time.  It’s a nice transition.

That’s it! Week 1 done.  And thankfully?  Ana did her lesson plans this weekend as well.  Christian and I will do his as he learns to write his own daily lesson plans.  And I’ll do Lizzie’s later today.

I’ve given the recommendation MANY times that preschool (and kindergarten for that matter) is utterly unnecessary.

And I believe it.  I think the average child in the average home is going to pick up the skills he or she needs to successfully begin formal schooling somewhere between the ages of 6-8.  I’ve seen it work well.

That said?  If I don’t keep our little ones busy, they’ll keep themselves busy, and they are FAR, FAR more creative than I am.  For example, I know I would NEVER think of fingerpainting in toothpaste on the  walls.  I know I would NEVER think of making an animal “trap” out of all of Daddy’s zip strips from his garage.  I know I would NEVER think of making a fishing pole from PVC & fishing bobbers and for that extra special, can’t resist, secret fishing tip, stuff part of a jar of very nasty catfish bait into the PVC.  These are things I simply wouldn’t think of.  And yet, somehow, these are only RECENT examples of what my bright & beautiful preschoolers have done.  We are never bored.  And I am often sidetracked.

And honestly?  I just want to spend time with my littles.  It’s imperative I sit down with my almost 6yo and my almost 8yo and work on phonics.  We sit together as they practice handwriting.  They need help with math manipulatives.  I simply must sit down with my 10yo and 13yo each day and teach their math, discuss their writing, or read them their dictation.  There’s just no way around it.  The baby will fuss for me and just wants Mama, so she will be held and loved and snuggled.  But an almost 3yo and a 4yo?  The creative genius in them will keep them busy for HOURS.  They are both fairly content children and as long as they’ve been fed, semi-clothed, and given free reign, they’ll run amuck, playing, singing, jumping from things, amusing themselves all day long.  I’d prefer it be a wee bit more structured and a tiny bit less chaotic. 😉

Preschool gives me the excuse I need to sit down with them for a bit, put my feet up, and ENJOY them.  Preschoolers are easy to enjoy.  Happy children are fun to spend time with…  And children are happiest with something productive to do, lots of exercise, healthy food, and a routine.  There’s a reason routine works so well with these little ones… They know what “comes next.”  They can’t tell time yet, but it’s comforting for them to know we do chores, then breakfast, then Mama will sit down with you and read for a bit, then we’ll go outside.  They learn that everything has a place, that they are useful, needed little people in this family.

Our AM schedule looks something like this:

Breakfast
Chores  (sometimes we reverse breakfast and chores)
Family Bible Time
Preschool – Reading, Singing, Talking
Arts & Crafts at the table
Snack
Outdoors for an hour
Indoors – Potty & Wash Hands
Free or Structured Indoor Play
Lunch
Clean-up
Read-Aloud
Nap

And I’m sure you’re wondering what in the world the big kids are doing in all this.  Well, they’re busy.  If you can teach them in the AM before the littles get up this generally works out best.  They also know they should probably wait ’til I’m available to them for questions.  I’m available during Arts & Crafts, Outdoor play,  Clean-Up time,  and Snack.  Obviously they are with us for Family Bible Time.  And just as you’d tell a child on a standardized test, if you don’t know something, go to the next thing and then come back to it.  Essentially that’s how this works.  My oldest two children are quite independent learners and good readers and so it simplifies much of what I have to do.  The most difficult one to balance is, of course, Elizabeth, because she’s not quite on the level of a completely independent learner or reader!  And that isn’t terribly surprising at age 7.   But you’ll find you have time…   We work in concentrated blocks, much of it during naptimes when littles are down.

I can say that most of my day pivots on something important.  The first is tomato – staking.  If a child is tomato staked, they never get the opportunity to draw on the walls, get the catfish bait, OR grab Daddy’s zip strips.  I’ve become very lazy at this lately as I prepare for our new school year, and honestly?  Most of the summer.  I feel like *I* took the whole summer off as well, and that’s just NOT a good thing.  You can learn about this vital & biblical concept here, at Raising Godly Tomatoes.  The concept is very simple.  Keep your children WITH you.  If your children are out of earshot, you can’t correct their attitude or what comes out of their mouth.  If they are out of eyesight, you can’t correct their atttitudes or their actions.

Let’s pretend a child misspells the word CAT.  He spells it KAT.  When he writes it, he writes it K-A-T.  When he hears it, he visualizes K-A-T.  Nothing has led him to believe that KAT isn’t correct and without you to make the correction and to further train him in the correct spelling by reinforcement, this child will continue in his wrong belief and behaviour.

Let me add some caveats here.  Have you ever watched the Dog Whisperer?  An amazing man.  He excels at what he does because he understands pack behaviour and he knows what he can expect in behaviour and he trains to the EXPECTATION.   The problem with parenting is very few people know what type of standards to expect from their children these days.  OR they are unreasonable.  An oddity I’ve noticed is over 1/2 of his cases, the problem behaviour is fixed by the owner’s giving appropriate affection, a routine,  and lots of exercise.  I can’t emphasize enough the impact exercise has on these dogs.

Now, don’t get huffy, I’m not calling your toddler a dog.  But I’m saying we have higher expectations of an 8 week old puppy than we do of our 3 year olds.  And I certainly know MY Abigail is smarter than Legend, and he’s a German Shepherd, lol.   Children need GOOD food.  This will get rid of most of your convenient foods, Mom.  They need REAL food.  They do not need food additives, preservatives, food coloring, or most things that come out of a box.  They don’t need refined flour, refined sugar, or no-calorie sweeteners.  They need REAL food.  I’d suggest you I.L.L the book by Dr. Sears, The Family Nutrition Book.  Look, Dr. Sears, I like some of his books.  Others, not so much.  But when you start learning about whole foods, the books people recommend are OVERWHELMING.  You’re going to start reading books where you need to milk your cow, grind your wheat, grow your own food organically, make your own yogurt, and ferment kombucha.  And WHAT is kombucha?  And, are you kidding?  It’s just too much.  This is a GREAT introduction to real food.  You THINK what you’ve been buying at the grocery store is real food, but you’d be surprised.  Most of the nutrition in the checkout line is synthetic and our body just doesn’t know what to do with it.  Don’t look at the label – buy the stuff without a label…. Produce.  And don’t even get me started on bread!

Next thing – EXERCISE.   I am not saying introduce your 4yo to pilates.  I’m not advocating a treadmill for the 5yo.  I’m saying GET OUTSIDE!  Get them plenty of fresh air, let them yell, let them climb, let them jump and run.  If you do NOT do this things, you are asking for what you get….  I am a FIRM believer that children can and should be taught to sit and sit quietly, but just as every year has a season, every child should have a healthy time to play and run and get out physical energy.  THIS IS ESPECIALLY TRUE IF YOU HAVE BOYS!  Oh, I’ve had people argue that point, but I’ve got 2 boys and they are entirely (ENTIRELY) different.  They were made to work.  They were created for physical exertion.  And they desperately NEED to get out the physical energy.  Also, it is an important sidenote that this will also destroy the Mom Guilt factor when you require them to sit still and be quiet and you’ll be a better trainer and more consistent.

Now, let’s get to the bottom line.

I know what you’re thinking.  I BARELY get done the minimum.  How in the world do I work all this in?

I can almost guarantee if you have untrained preschoolers and toddlers, a huge percentage of your time, more than realize is, in the words of FlyLady, spent “putting out fires.”  In other words, you’re inefficient.

Oh I’m NOT saying you’re not busy!!  Quite the opposite.  I’m saying you’re busy with busy-work and not with what needs to be done.

For example, let’s say you have to make lunch, and in the meantime, Little Junior dumps out the legos, and the play-doh, and tosses the pillows and blankets on the floor in a mini-fort.  After lunch, you have to clean all that up.  If you had had Junior WITH you helping make lunch, none of it would have happened and after lunch you could have read aloud or gotten something else done.   Let’s say your Little Monster, er… Junior doesn’t take “rest” times or naps.  Instead he goes upstairs and you spend the next hour yelling at him to lie down or cleaning up whatever mess he made.  Please, close your eyes and dream with me for a moment….  At 12:30 you tell Junior it’s naptime.  You read to him, kiss him, tuck him in.  In ten minutes, Junior is sleeping and will continue to do so for about 1-2 hours.  And you can concentrate on what you need to do.   Let’s even say Junior isn’t a sleeper…. That’s fine.  My 5yo isn’t a sleeper either.  She has a choice.  She may either quietly look at books or she can sleep.  What she can’t do is get out of her bed, fuss, wake up her little sister in the same room, or in general move for 1.5 hours.  She’s been given a choice – books or sleep.  She may make either choice.

So you’re thinking, “Must be nice…”  And I’m telling you YYYYYYYYEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSS!  I deeply appreciate what I’ve got.  But please don’t kid yourselves that it came easy.  Ah, no!  The reason why I appreciate it so much is because I had the little terror that wouldn’t nap and would destroy her room and I’d yell upstairs, and occasionally flip out. 😛  And her name was Ana.  And she was awful.  And I only had TWO children and I got less done at naptime than I do now with all of them.

So, how do you train for something like that?  First you exhaust them.  You feed them well.  You create a routine.  And you be CONSISTENT.  You tuck Junior in and you wait, like a cat… Because you know he’s going to do something.  And then you pounce.  🙂  Okay, it’s slightly LESS dramatic than that, but the truth is, correcting behaviour isn’t about waiting until you can’t ignore it.  It’s about catching it right away and correcting it immediately.   It’s setting clear expectations in YOUR head and then training them to it.   It is REASONABLE to expect a five year old to rest or read.  We stop with naptimes when they have graduated to learning phonics.  Then they are expected to do Phonics with me and then quietly look at books.  If I find they are not old enough to do this, they revert back to naptime.  This includes whispering.  I LOVE my naptimes and I will not give them up.  I refuse.  It’s a hard and fast and necessary rule to making our house work smoothly… Or at least as smoothly as it does, lol.

After nap?  Snack, activity, lots of outdoor time.  Our afternoons are FAR less structured than our mornings.  But they cannot have lower expectations for behaviour.

Our chore charts turned out beautifully by the way.  I think I gave the inspiration link on these a couple posts ago.  The “check-off” pictures attach via velcro.  A hint?  Buy the velcro dots at somewhere OTHER than the fabric store… They were expensive!

The chore charts were made from Googled images and Excel, very simple.  We also made Activity cards to go into each child’s folder.  The activity cards – again Googled images and Excel.  We cut them out, laminated them, and all was well.

I’ll add pictures in the next post as I can’t get the camera to work right now.

You’ll have to be patient.  I was up at the crack of dawn this morning, working like Cinderella.

I’ll show pictures as soon as I can.  In the meantime, enjoy the links to matching hairbands.  These are cute little spin on the traditional cloth hairbands we’ve made to match the girls many times.  I thought the first was particularly clever.

Easy Ribbon Headband by Altered Cloth

The Kinder &  Gentler  Headband by mmmcrafts

Sadly, I don’t actually put this links here for you, but for me.  Ever since the switch over to Mozilla I can’t find where I’m storing my links. 😛

I’ll have pictures of all the projects soon enough.  Some are (hopefully) really cute sewn items.  Others are for our preschool & chore charts that I think you’ll enjoy.

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