The Many Faces of Labor

It was about 3:45 in the morning. I could not tell you whether the moon was shining, or if the stars were bright. I was behind several feet of concrete, in the birth wing of the hospital were a ray of sunshine had just been born. #10 finally arrived.

#10, all bundled up

#10, all bundled up

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A Public Interview

With such a large family, we tend to attract a lot of undesired attention in public. Granted, our flock of children crossing the road will stop traffic like a line of yellow ducklings. But unlike the ducklings, we do not usually get the “oh sooo cute” reaction. I would say the majority of opinions range from flabbergasted, to disapproving.Crossing the street Continue reading

Good and Bad News from Last Year

So… it has been a while. I understand rumors began to sprout up about our mysterious disappearance from the blog. Let me put your mind at ease. We have not boarded a ship bound for adventures unknown. Nor have we been driven into hiding by distrustful parts of the government determined to regulate family size. And while an idyllic cabin hidden away by year round snowcapped mountains may be appealing, the forever un-melting snow would send me looking for more temperate weather. In short, we are still where we have always been. But for reasons I will explain, I have been unable to approach the blog. Continue reading

Heart Shaped Holes

For nearly ten years, I have received by-the-minute-up-dates about the children from Wife. I’ve always known, whether I wanted to know or not, when a child cut their first tooth, when they first rolled over, and when they did whatever came next. I’ve been the first Wife told for so long, that I had started to think of it as an inconvenient right of mine. And so, I would attempt to show the appropriate amount of excitement, while feeling little of it. Wife was never fooled.

Little Baby Boy

Little Baby Boy

After eight children, I felt I had a good idea of the flow of our babies’ development. And the other night, when the baby was about two weeks old, I realized that Wife had not yet announced that his umbilical cord had fallen off. I inquired when she thought it would happen. She responded, “Oh, it fell off days ago.”

I was shocked. What happened? Why wasn’t I told? When did I get taken off the Need-To-Know List!

How did I come to this?

How did I come to this?

Wife then said that the children had all gotten very excited when she told them.

The kids knew before me?

            She said that they all “oohed” and “awed” very nicely. They peered into the empty belly-button. They squealed with pleasure. I think someone even asked if they could keep the umbilical cord. (Don’t get grossed out. Wife wouldn’t allow that.) The girls were especially excited. Wife found in her little court of young ladies, all the enthusiasm over the baby that she felt herself.

I, on the other hand, with all my external indifference, had worked myself out of a job. That was unexpected!

I’ve heard it said before that nature has a way of filling in the gaps, or that God provides whatever is needed. So, He gave Wife daughters first, to give her the help she would need.  In our four girls, she found little hands to make her work lighter. Either with meals, cleaning their younger siblings, or house work, they are their mother’s big helpers. As they are growing into young ladies, they are also becoming lifetime companions for one another, as well as for their mother.

While part of me misses the attention that our girls are now getting from Wife, I am happy to see the job done properly. After all, it’s never good to try and force a square peg into a heart shaped hole.

Little hearts of love.

Little hearts of love.

It Never Gets Old

It never gets oldThe world is once again a better place. #8 has made his way into it with chubby cheeks, long fingers, and an extra helping of hair. Arriving overdue, he was a great relief to Wife as well as the event of the year, to anyone who is important that is. The entire household is just as happy about the new baby as ever.

I can see how a person might think that after seven children, the eighth would be old news. But, what I can tell them is that each birth is just as exciting and tremendous as the first. Granted, I enjoy a better understanding of what is happening and how best to lend a hand, but that doesn’t take anything away from experience.

Wife and the baby are sleeping, and in the silence I have a small moment to recollect. No matter which child I pick out of the group, I remember their birth; what was precious, what was scary, what happened in general. With each little one something more is added to me. I am a little richer. I am a little poorer. I am a little more understanding. I am a little more just. I am a little more blessed. I am more greatly loved.

Looking over my little toe heads I believe I have an understanding, however minor, as to why God puts up with us. From Adam and Eve on, mankind has mostly been filled with shortcomings. But we have within all of us the redeeming quality of love.

And now I look onto the fresh little face, nearly hidden by wrapped blankets, with that flat nose that all babies have. He will learn from his parents as well as his siblings. He will learn from his brother how to empty the pots and pans out of the cupboards. He’ll pick up how to wrestle in the front room and get in everyone’s way. He’s sure to learn from his sisters how to loath cleaning the kitchen. He’s likely become a master at evading his mother when she wants help with the laundry.  And he will learn from us all how to love.

The world is certainly a better place.The world is a better place

Ready to Catch the Prize

Wife is now nine months pregnant. She’s almost at the finish line. Any day now we will meet the new baby, #8. The excitement is building like that of a child waiting to take a final swing at the piñata. The prize is so close, almost out.

Watch your step!

Watch your step!

Wife is looking forward to be able to see her toes again. She has wondered if they have changed at all during the growth of the baby. Of course toes are not the only ones lost under the expanse of her belly. The children’s toys might as well be buried landmines to her feet. The explosions caused by those toys can be most devastating to both Wife and whosever the toy might belong to. Wife has nearly stopped entering their rooms due the hazards that her pregnant belly hides.

She is also tired of losing children beneath her childbearing ledge. #7 has become almost as much of a nuisance as the toys are. He’s like a footstool rushing forward to head her off and trip her up. Wife in turn resorts to her dancing years with a kind of skip-waddle-hop to avoid the onslaught.

No matter where I go, they're always half a step in front of me

No matter where I go, they’re always half a step in front of me

#6 performed his hiding with a more head-on-approach. While Wife was distracted at the refrigerator he slipped under her with the stealth of a cat. However his plot was soon discovered when Wife opened the fridge door and it became familiar with #6’s forehead. Yes, the children will also be glad to see their mother loose her pregnant belly.

I do look at Wife at times and think to myself that she really does resemble a piñata. Swaying to and fro, an enormous prize bundled up inside, a line of children waiting expectantly; except all the beating is done on the inside. The very prize is working his way out into waiting arms. We can’t wait to catch him.

Post from Wife: Happy Father’s Day!

Our Father in Heaven, I thank you for my Daddy. He was there to  raise me, protect me, and guide me all through my childhood and even into motherhood. He played a major role in guiding me to the father of my children. His example of sacrifice and faithfulness caused me to search for a man with the same virtues. I am also thankful for the father who raised my husband, and helped to mold him into the man he is today. Thank you Father of all Creation, for placing me where I am with these generous men who strive to provide for their families in all aspects of life.

In honor of this Father’s Day, I wish to share with you all, the joyous moments of each of our children’s births, making my husband a father each time.

Daddy with #1

Birth of #1 and my husband as a father.

Daddy with #2 (and #1)

Father of 2.

Daddy with #3

Naps with #3

Daddy with #4

Proud Daddy with #4.

Daddy with #5 (and 1st son!)

Finally a SON! #5

Daddy with #6

#6 rocking with his Daddy.

Daddy with #7

A very tired pair… Napping with #7.

Baby Blankets

It seems to me that parents who have a small family must miss out on much of the evolution of parenting. For instance, the receiving blanket; with the first two children Wife always had fresh blankets in her diaper bag, in her purse, in the car, at her mother’s house, in my mother’s house, in her jacket pocket, and sometimes even in my back-pocket (got very uncomfortable to sit down). When the child spat-up on a blanket, it was swiftly whisked away and a new one took its place with such speed and precision that bystanders were shocked and amazed. The washing machine was constantly rumbling with receiving blankets tumbling inside. Our laundry line was a fluttering white and pink flag.

However with time, and a few more children, the inevitable reality of laundry set in, it had to stop! Sometime between the third and fourth child Wife and I discovered that the blanket had two sides, and four corners. And with an origami like skill known only to the learned parent, we could reuse a single receiving blanket up to… umpteen times. The laundry decreased.

Now, whatever is clean and at hand becomes a spit-up-rag. We have gotten so used to baby messes that we hardly even notice them any more. The other day I was burping the baby and he spat-up all over my shoulder, down my back, and onto the carpet. I had hardly begun looking for something to clean myself up with before Wife swooped in from nowhere. She was armed not with a receiving blanket, nor a towel, or even a clean t-shirt, but with baby-wipes. In no time at all both baby #7 and myself were all clean.

So that’s where we’ve gone to. From freshly pressed receiving blankets to the mom’s “clean-all” baby-wipes. I wonder what will happen next.

Passing the Torch

Now that #7 has been born, it is time for the torch to be passed on. The name “baby” has been handed down from #6 to #7. And I believe the transition has moved pretty smoothly; after all, we’ve done it five times before. The only real trouble is getting use to #6’s name.

What usually happens is, “#1, bring me the baby… ah I mean… get that one. Just grab him and drag him here. No, put the baby back first.”

But after only a little time I get much better, and his name blends into the existing conglomeration of names. #6 in a sense, becomes another State in my Union, another letter in my alphabet, another penny in my ever-growing jar of coins (I should really take care of that sometime). And just like the States or the alphabet, to get to the last one you gotta start at the beginning.

When I begin to yell at the little man for something he has done, I have to start with the name of our eldest and work my way down. Often, I forget what he has done by the time I reach his name.

On a side note, I have lately noticed the children scatter when I start yelling names. I think their strategy is to be out of hearing range by the time I get to their name. As the eldest of my family, that never occurred to me. Poor #1, she doesn’t have a chance.

While on the other hand, #6 seems to be adapting quite well to the loss of his babyhood. After only two weeks he has stopped trying to poke out the baby’s eyes. And I have caught #6 stalking the baby only once; granted, I am not home during the day (kinda makes me wonder what happens while I’m at work).

Ninja Baby, not so subtle, yet ever so lethal

But when I am home, I always give the little boy (#6) the customary lap sitting time allotted to him for the smooth transition of power. And he will sit quietly while he ponders world domination; OR he will rotate his head three hundred and sixty degrees, leap a foot off my lap from a sitting position, and throw his bottle all over the place. And that hurts if it hits ya.

See how easily the baby power transfers from one child to another? All that is needed is a loving and vigilant set of parents.

Now if you would excuse me, it is my turn to stand watch over the baby (#7).

Labor and Delivery

It never fails to amaze me just how doctors and hospitals are never on time for anything. Just wait and see.

Wife was scheduled to start her labor in the hospital at 7:00am; that means in the morning. Now, the hospital would not admit her until 12:00pm; that is in the afternoon. And the doctor could not get there to start labor until 3:00pm. With service like this I understand why so many people die in the hospital.

But the fun did not stop there. Before the doctor was in, the first nurse attempted to hook Wife up to an IV. Four holes on two different arms later she called on a second nurse. Two more holes later they called to the top anesthesiologist.

A little oriental man came into the room and began babbling as he took up Wife’s right arm. He talked about how thick her skin was, how hard it was for the needles to poke through, how her blood veins collapsed, how he was writing a book about it, how he was just joking, how much it was going to hurt, how, no, it’s all done. And then he left.

We then waited, Wife, her mother, her sister, and myself. So you guess who was the third wheel, I couldn’t figure it out.

When the doctor finally arrived, I thought I heard angels singing. When he pulled out the sonogram machine and confirmed the baby went sideways again, the singing stopped. COME ON! He already turned the kid twice, what is he doing? Back flips? Well, that’s why we went in to have the baby.

At about 3:00 pm the nurse started giving Wife the drug to induce labor. At about 4:00pm she stopped when they thought the baby had turned again. And then we waited until around 8:00pm. When the doctor came back and rechecked, guess what, everything was fine, back on the drugs. Then, I waited.

When my wife has an epidural there is not a lot of coaching for me to do. At that point I kinda feel like watching paint dry, not a lot to do, and not allowed to leave, God forbid!

The night did not progress, it crawled.

Around 11:00pm Wife was dilated to 3.

Around midnight she was at 4.

Around 1:00am she was back to 3.

Around 5:00am she was convinced she was never ever going to have this baby and he was going to live within her for the rest of her natural life on God’s green earth. She was at a 5.

At 9:00am she was at a 5.

At 11:30am she was at a 5.

At 12:30 the nurse said, “I’m going to get the doctor right now.” Then she muttered to herself, “I hope I can catch him before he starts that c-section.”

“Well, where is she?” I asked.

“Oh, she’s fully dilated.”

I jumped onto the phone to call my mom and have her, “get the kids down here right now.” They missed the birth by a half hour. My wife, my mother-in-law, my sister-in-law and myself were the only family to witness the brand new baby boy turn colors three times.

Baby #7. All clean and dry.