Tuesday, April 15, 2014

April in Pictures

April is being WONDERFUL here in New Hampshire. Lovely. Warm, windy, cool, sunny, cloudy, rainy, just delightful. Finally, after months of weather that only allowed short trips outside, it's all day, every day outside play. We get school done by 10am, hit the gym quick so Mommy doesn't lose her mind, then the rest is done here and there while we play.

Oh it's nice.



(Neighbor ducks who LOVE our yard because we have lots of running water.)

We added four little Rouen ducks to our flock. They are basically domesticated mallards who don't migrate and can't really fly. The babies are INSANELY cute, and we are hopeful that at least one of them will be a female for the eggs. But we are enjoying their extreme excitablity. They are SO SO SO cute.


See? ADORABLE!

My garden is blossoming a bit in a tiny little green house of sorts. I can't wait until the frost danger is past and we can put them in the ground!





My chicken-ladies are hard-workers turning soil, looking for anything that wriggles. They DO NOT appreciate the neighbor ducks and run those giant cowards off at any given opportunity.



My goodness. This little girl wants to be outside just as much as her brothers. Since she can't be out without supervision, LESS gets done inside the house. But truly, when she brings me her little tiny boots and begs for "owsigh" I can NOT say no.



What happens when we takes "selfies":


We are awesome like that.

April: Keep up the good work.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Oliver, who is now FIVE



Oliver, my funny boy had his birthday today. So, as we are wont to do, we celebrated a bit yesterday with a trip to the bowling alley. It was ALLLLL he wanted to do.



We have learned that here in New Hampshire (and perhaps all of New England), traditional bowling with large balls of varying weight, and pins that are fatter on bottom than on top (you know, normal bowling) simply DOES NOT EXIST.



Instead, everywhere has "candlestick bowling". There are ten skinny, uniform-shaped pins, and little balls, that all weigh about 5 pounds. That is your only option. Then everyone gets THREE tries per frame. It was a blast and super weird from what we were used to. But the smaller balls were perfect for the kids.





Even Miriam loved it and had a hard time when it wasn't her turn.



We did the traditional birthday celebrating today. A few presents.





It is hard when it's not your birthday.



Throughout the day, Oliver kept saying "thank you" for his birthday gifts. That was super cute.



Oliver wanted to pancakes for dinner, so Derek whipped them up easy peasy.


Then today, he wanted a bowling cake. (WHY bowling? I excepted "chocolate" or "strawberry" and he says "BOWLING". It's Oliver. I should have known.)





Happy Birthday to Oliver.

At five years old he:
is skinny. He is ALWAYS hungry.
is smart and excited to learn.
loves to "do school" and play outside.
loves playing dress-up.
loves "dip" of all kinds.
screeches like a banshee when his brothers cross him.
learning to be helpful.

We are grateful for him and that he is in our family!


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Mud Season

Spring is coming, it is! It is!!

I can see dead,  brown grass in my yard, and MUD IS EVERYWHERE.

It's Mud Season here in New England. We live on a dirt road and drive a white van. It's DISGUSTING.

This mud is a metaphor for my life, I tell you.




I'll take the mud right now, see? I'll accept it because while it's gross and ugly and cold and wet, it's BETTER THAN SNOW, better than it was.

And, mud means eventually, things will grow. Things will START to blossom.

Mud season will not last long. I'm sure of it.

And when it's over...

It'll be spring.


Friday, March 21, 2014

This Post is Lame. Don't Read It.

Everything is lame. 

LAME. 

I've tried to blog repeatedly the last weeks only to find that EVERYTHING IS LAME. 

For example: I go to the gym 5 days a week. Yet, I LOOK EXACTLY THE SAME. 

LAME. 

Spring started yesterday. 

AND IT WAS SNOWING THIS AFTERNOON. 

LAME. 

Meals refuse to cook themselves. 

LAME. 

My children are all "Lord of the Friggin' Flies" up in here. 

LAME. 

LAME. 

LAME. 

This blog post is LAME. 

The picture I wanted to post, I can't figure out how to get onto this blog post, despite this being my 834th post. 

LAME. 

Happy Friday? 

LAME! 


Monday, March 3, 2014

An Update

Hello there.
There is very little to report here on our hill. It's forever winter. At least February is finally over.

Overall, we're just pushing through, waiting for Spring.

And in it all, I'm learning to be me again. I'm finding joy in little things again. Breathing is getting easier. Sometimes it's not. But most of the time it is.

After dealing with continuous physical difficulties for weeks, it seems that after heavy-duty antibiotics the infection I picked up somewhere in all of this has cleared.

I'm hungry again. It was weird, not feeling hunger for ever so long.

I sleep better too. I don't dream as much as I used to. I almost never seem to anymore, at least not like I used to, able to remember.

My heart is scarring over. I won't stay it is healing. Healing doesn't feel even remotely accurate. I'll take the scar.

Life does and will go on. For that I am grateful. I don't want to rush through my life at all, but I am grateful for even just the month that has passed since we lost George. A month means we survived a whole month.

I joined a gym.

Ugh.

But after two failed pregnancies in the last year, I've picked up fifteen unwanted pounds and the gym offered childcare for ALL my kids which means I don't have to get up at 4am to workout. I guess I'll exercise a bit to make it worth it. I want to be strong again. I'm so physically weak it's embarassing. So, the gym is good, I guess.

Derek is so busy, which is good. He does good work. I'm proud of him.

The kids are learning. We slowed school down a bit in the last month for obvious reasons, but we're getting back into a routine.

Life is good. It really is. God is good. I've felt that more than ever before in my life recently. I'm less afraid. I am trusting more. I'm waiting. I'm trying to choose the right. I'm grateful.

We are blessed.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Not Much To Say...

I've clicked over to blogger several times over the last days, but realized I have NOTHING to say, click away after staring at the blank page for a while.

It's snowing. It's always snowing.

We have no running water, our well is broken apparently?

The kids are a bit stir-crazy. We are all a bit stir-crazy.

So much of the time, I have to fight the urge to run away. But then again, it's snowing, and I can't get out of my driveway even if I wanted to.

Warm, sunshine, green grass... would that be too much to ask?

We rehomed the goats last week. I couldn't take the stress of their constant escape attempts. They destroyed the chicken run, and as a result left many sharp loose wires sticking everywhere. This did not stop them climbing on it, and were going to hurt themselves. Additionally, with no forage available, they would escape and then CHEW ON MY HOUSE. Add to that my serious physical limitations right now, as in, I can barely lift Ezra, 50 bs of food was just NOT possible. Derek isn't home enough to care for them, and it's not fair to ask my kids to do it all.

So, the goats got a new home. I LOVED my goats, but honestly, I am relieved. They went to a lovely little farm, and I know they'll be safe and happy. Maybe in a few years when we're more able to build a safe, electrocuted (seriously) goat run, we'll try again. The benefits were wonderful, but not outweighing the cost at this point.

We learn everyday I suppose.

I'm trying to be positive, to look to my blessings, to be thankful, to more fully rely on God. Some moments are easier than others. I'm in a holding pattern most days. I just try to survive.


Sunday, February 9, 2014

To Re-enter Real Life

This past week we were blessed with the help of my sweet mother-in-law and my sister. I have never been so physically out of commission in my life, so the help was 100% necessary. It was humbling and difficult to accept the help that they so happily and freely gave.

Now they've headed home, and real life is demanding that I return to it. I feel the weight and pressure of schedule and routine pressing down on me. In a way, it's terrifying, suddenly being thrust back into life as it was before.

Before it all fell apart.

At the same time, it's good to start to act like life is normal. I'll go through the motions, I'll cook and clean, educate and soothe, fold laundry, wash dishes, chase goats and children, and act like everything is okay.

Because in so many ways, it IS okay. I'm here, slowly returning physically to where I was (feeling 50% is a victory!), we are so abundantly blessed that I can't even list the gifts we've been given. My children are healthy, vibrant, demanding, inquisitive, smart and stinky, and I love them with everything I have. Derek is here for me, and we're here for each other, and we're going to just keep on going.

In the ways that it isn't okay, how my body is still healing and makes me so mad to be limited, in the way that my heart aches, and my lungs won't draw deep breaths, in the tears that fall at the slightest provocation, in the way I miss George so much that I think my heart might actually be bleeding and my soul is longing for my baby, I'll just have to accept, embrace and allow, because resistance is useless. There is no way out of this.

I am trusting in my Father that through the Savior, when it seems to overcome me, that I'll be made stronger than myself. Every time I start to despair, I just pray, pray that God will be with me. At one point last week, I was in bed, thinking I might die, and just prayed that Jesus would come and sit with me for a while. And He did. He will. He does.

Christ knows how I feel because He felt it. He felt it, and begged God to let the cup pass from Him, but also accepted it so miraculously that I can ask Him for comfort. Through His perfect and complete knowledge of my pain, comfort comes in warmth and love and a numbing feeling of "You can do this because I'm here" so strong that I can not doubt.

No, this cup will not pass, it can not, but I am never alone.

And I'll just have to hold on to that.







Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Birth

I had a baby on Saturday.

And now I hurt so much that I feel like I can't breathe.

But I have to write him down, record him now right this minute before I start to forget a bit because the hurt is making me. I have to push it out and get it down because he was born. And he deserves a birth story.

***
I started spotting a bit. It was NOTHING, tiny, pink, benign. Derek and I had engaged in some *ahem* activities that night, and spotting after is very normal in pregnancy. I spotted in Miriam and Ezra's pregnancies without serious consequence.

A call to the midwives assured me further EVERYTHING was fine. Take it easy of course (YEAH RIGHT) but it was all okay.

A few days later, in doing my normal, daily regime of life, I hoisted a fifty pound bag of goat food a few yards, and two 40 lb bags of wood pellets around, to burn in our wood pellet stove.

Then the spotting which had almost disappeared entirely, turned a bit heavier, to blood. I panicked. What was going on? It was getting better. I thought it was almost gone, I didn't even think about NOT lifting those bags, I was just doing my normal stuff.

Another call to the midwives. "It's very normal."
"Bedrest to heal whatever blood vessels you've broken."
"It's okay to wait and see. It might be the placenta covering the cervix. We'll schedule a level II ultrasound when you come in on Thursday."

"It's all probably fine."

"What if it isn't?" I demanded.

"You can go to the ER if you're truly worried and you don't want to wait," she said kindly.

HA, We have medical insurance but unlike most people it only covers 70% of an ER visit. A place they'd charge me $1000 just to walk in the door. I wasn't bleeding much, just a bit and I'm no rookie.

So we'd wait. Fine.

And yet I didn't sleep at all that night. I kept getting up and getting ready to go, praying that if it was an emergency or that I really needed to go, Heavenly Father would tell me to GO so I'd know it was worth our tax return to have an ultrasound. It seemed ridiculous to run off to a place where people die to just have an ultrasound when I just needed to wait a few days for my appointment.

By morning nothing dramatic had happened, I'd never gotten the impression that I needed to go. Derek took off work, and I frustratedly directed traffic from the couch.

By Friday night the bleeding had slowed even more, CLEARLY going away. Oh what a relief. I'd just take it really easy until Thursday. Everything was fine. I'd been feeling little whisper kicks. Our baby was going to be fine. We'd have a baby in July.

***
I couldn't sleep much after 4am on Saturday morning. My stomach was hurting so badly. I tossed and turned trying to find a position that would help the pain. Finally, I gave up and just lay in a bit of agony. "That's it, it  has to be the dairy!" I concluded. "No more dairy!"

Derek made breakfast burritos for the crew before basketball. I ate, hoping it would maybe ease the pain.  They all dashed off to the van after ready to play ball. My stomach wasn't letting up. It hurt.

No spotting.

I sat on the couch explaining the pain to Derek who was concerned but agreed. Maybe it's the dairy. The kids were making the van rock back and forth with excitement.

"I'll be right out," I said. "I have to get my boots."

I felt two weird pops in my abdomen, right side, and then the pain lessened. AH. Gas pains! That explained the doubling-over sensation I was experiencing. I stood up, grateful for relief.

And immediately felt blood spilling everywhere, over every inch of my legs. I gasped in shock, surprise, panic.

"Derek!" I called in wild panic. "Derek, there is blood, everywhere! I...have to go to the ER!"

I rushed up to our bathroom, to see what in the hell was going on. It didn't make sense. It must have been one of the hematomas I knew existed. Those usually just BURST and scared you but then the drama was over. Dr. Google had said that was normal, and the baby was usually fine.

Blood. So much.

Derek stood outside the bathroom door while I gasped in horror and panic. In mere seconds I decided,  to get dressed and go with Derek to basketball, The kids were waiting, Derek is the head coach, no other arrangements could be made for 10 little kids on ten minutes notice. I'd call the midwives at basketball, and then after, he could drop me off at the ER.

So, I grabbed a towel to sit on, the bleeding almost completely stopped, making me again think it had just been a hematoma that burst. Maybe I wouldn't need the ER.

By the time I got to the van though, the pain was back, worse, hurting so much I couldn't really talk through it.

"You go to basketball. I'll go to the ER in the little car. Get a babysitter after basketball. Meet me at the ER later." I demanded. And oh my poor sweet husband, fear and worry showing on his face, agreed only because I gave him the look of death, and said, "Those kids need to go to basketball. NOW." I could feel blood again, starting to gush, and did not want my kids to see.

He peeled away, and after a quick call to the midwives so they'd send the ER my records and tell them I was coming, ("You're going right now, right?" she asked. "You're already on your way?") I was off.

***
The closest hospital is 30 minutes away.

By the time I got to the end of our street, any hope of anything was gone. "Please Heavenly Father, just let me get there. I can not do this in a car, please oh please let me get there," I prayed over and over.

I drove and drove, each wave of pain sending more blood rushing around me. The towel would be far from enough.

It took far too long to realize I was in labor. Contractions a minute apart, lasting a minute, every time, sending blood away from me, away from my baby.

I was going to die.

But every time I thought about pulling over and calling 911, I realized it would take them so much longer to get to me than if I just kept going. I had no choice. I had to keep going.

"Please God, just let me get there. I need to just get there, and I'll be okay. I don't want to die in this car. My kids need me, please God just let me get there," I prayed over and over, breathing and bleeding and driving.

I parked in handicap parking outside the ER, bursting from my car between the painful contractions, soaked and dripping blood, panic and embarrassment over what I must look like, pushed aside, as I yelled at the security guard coming over that I needed help. "Please do not give me at ticket!" I screamed as I ran for the door.

When you show up looking like a murder victim from the waist down, begging for help, they take you right back to a room.

***
In the room, I was surrounded by people, "Take off your clothes, put this on, go in here, let's clean you up a bit, see what is happening," kind voices said as I bent over in pain, blood pulsing to the floor. Somehow, I'll never know how, I did all they asked, and even had time to feel embarrassed that my socks didn't match, as I stripped them off.

"How many weeks are you?"

"Fifteen. Almost sixteen!" I answered.

"You drove yourself here?"

In moments, I was in a bed, ivs were going in, multiple ones. "How much blood would you say you lost at home?" someone asked. "A cup? More?"

"A cup, sure," I nodded, as other things were stuck places, on my chest, my arms, my wrists. A doctor came in, he was nice. I don't remember his name. He was the ER doc.

Nothing but kindness came from his as he very quickly looked inside and said, "You probably already know this, but with this kind of bleeding it's going to be a miscarriage."

Oh boy did I know.

"You're going to need a transfusion," the doctor said. "We'll check, but do you know your blood type?"

"A positive," I answered. A blood transfusion? Great. I was going to die.

In another few minutes, the OB covering the ER came in, the room cleared a bit. She sat down, and looked. I don't remember her name. She was lovely though. A nurse stayed with me, people brought in more tubes, more needles, more I don't even know what.

"I'm so sorry," the doctor said, "But your baby is coming out now." She was so kind. And I knew it was over.

Time ceased. I just felt tugging and the familiar release that comes when a baby is born. No one said anything for a minute, Someone whisked the baby away, and I was still bleeding.

"Call the OR," the ob directed a nurse. "She's lost a liter."

A liter? That sounded like a lot.

Where was the baby?

"Is it a boy or a girl?" I asked the nurse. "Please tell me."

"Do you want to see it?" she asked gently. It. It? My baby?

"Yes, please," I asked.

The ob left to call the OR to tell them we were coming. The placenta was not going to detach, she theorized, "We need to do a d&c. I'll be right back." I could still feel blood pouring out of me.

The nurse with my baby showed me briefly the tiny body, but took it (IT??) away, and immediately brought HIM back to me, wrapped in a wash cloth.

"It was a boy," she said so gently I thought my heart would shatter. "Here HE is," and she laid him on my chest.

He was a boy. He was tiny, with fingers and toes, and ears and eyes, and a tiny nose. He was my son. And he was real.

He is real.

"Oh baby," I choked. "What happened, little one? What happened?"

I didn't get to hold him long because there was still so much bleeding, and prepping. Soon, I left him behind to go to the OR, the doctor assuring me that the d&c was more than necessary, and would help me avoid a blood transfusion.

I sent a hurried text to my sister, asking her to call my parents.

And I knew Derek was on his way.

***
The OR staff was kind and efficient. A nurse who's whole face I never saw behind her mask, held me by the shoulder and said, "I lost a baby at 20 weeks. You don't know it now, but you're going to be okay."

The anesthesiologist wished I hadn't eaten breakfast but assured me that with an intubation, and stomach pump, and a bunch more meds, the risk of my dying of aspiration was small. She was concise and clear, and

I thought, "Oh, I really don't want to do this. Dying now would be really the worst." She listed off the risks of the anesthesia quickly but patiently. I asked a couple of questions, demanded I not feel a thing, and then we went.

Surreal.

An OR. More drugs, more things beeping, more blood.

I was not going to die. I had to go home to my kids. I made sure they would find Derek and bring him to me when he got there. I don't remember a single thing after breathing into a plastic smelling face mask for a few minutes. The ceiling then... nothing.

***
"Morgan!" someone yelled from so far away. I gasped, choked, coughed, tried to find which way was up out of the water. I couldn't breathe.

"Morgan!" the voice called again. Oh! He wanted me to breathe. Well, I was trying, but I couldn't remember how.

I coughed, I wheezed, I remembered how to draw air in, and filled my lungs. Oh wow, my throat hurt.

 I wasn't dead.

Thank God. I wasn't dead.

It took a bit to realize, it was over. I felt people moving around, trying to do who knows what, and my eyes were heavy. I was so tired.

Today could not be real. That's all there was to it. Today was not real.

They finally, after making sure I was awake enough, brought me Derek. My man, my rock. He was here. I could cry because he was here.

"It was a boy," I cried and we cried and I just couldn't believe it was real.
***

And now?

I can't sleep.

I ache so much and hurt so bad that sleeping is a nice idea in theory but terrible in practice. I wake up from an hour or two and realize it all still hurts. My body is battered, and my heart is broken, and I can't deal with it.

I miss my baby. I miss him so much I can't believe I'm still breathing.

He is real. He is our son, and he is gone.

And I don't know what to do with that.

I've miscarried twice before, I know how it goes. But this is not the same as the early losses.

This was a birth. And a death.

Our baby, our sixth child and our fifth son was born on Saturday.

February 1st, 2014

We didn't get to keep him.

And we miss him.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Life on the Farm, and Hope




















Winter is streaky this year, freezing, thawing, freezing, snowing on TOP of the sheets of ice. I'm trying not to be completely offended by the entire season, but frankly it isn't going well.

The ice has caused the gate to the goats to get stuck and break, so now I have to suck in my ever-expanding belly along with my marshmallow puffy coat in order to squeeze in to feed those menaces. Additionally, they are BORED and also offended by the weather, and escape at every given opportunity. Since they free range in the warm weather, the fact that they are loose would be less of an issue except that the lack of forage when they escape has led them to chewing on my house. This is unacceptable.

But, the bright side is, regardless of the bitter cold, freezing cold snowy days, our little chicken ladies keep on laying. I'm very grateful. We've seen a bit of a drop, somedays only getting one or two eggs, but many days we get four or five. With five chickens I'd call that success. Getting them in the house before they freeze is a challenge though.

So, our little farm life isn't without it's worries or fears. I worry every night when I see how low the temp will drop, even bringing all the birds in one night when the temps were way below zero. The goats were fine, a nice thick layer of bedding and another, along with their spongy, wooly winter coats kept them comfortable. But, I stress and worry. We have had a bout of some sort of respiratory virus with both the girls, but they got over it fine, and are not worse for the wear.

It's a funny life we're choosing here. I think about undoing it all the time. Maybe I don't REALLY want to do this. Maybe the stress and worry is too much. Maybe my heart just can't take it.

I come in from chasing a wily, house-chewing goat back in her pen AGAIN and declare to Derek that THIS TIME I mean it, sell the damn goats on Craigslist!

But I don't mean it.

 I have a tendency to pull away from strong emotions, to distance myself from things that hurt or might hurt (I'm human) and I know that our little farm is a breeding ground for heartbreak, just like it is for good things.



But then I find myself at the farm store, reaching for books like these, bringing them home, and dreaming of spring when I can plant, then summer when I can chase goats from my strawberries, and hope for the future, for the new life that is promised.

So, life on this micro-farm is changing, growing, expanding. We'll plant and toil and chase and hope.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Basketball!

So. Months ago, I decided that perhaps we ought to expose our boys to you know, like sports and stuff. They do swimming lessons, karate and dance, but that's kind of it. They've never been on a soccer team, a baseball team, a hockey team... well, you get the point.

The thing is, Derek is like talented with sports. He can like catch balls when they come kind of close to him, and he can often throw it back to someone else with impressive accuracy. When given a basketball hoop and a ball, he frequently makes it into the hoop for a like a touchdown or something.

Me? HAHAHAHAH! I played t-ball in first grade and struck out because that's how I roll. In t-ball. Okay, technically I didn't strike out, but I did get out ALLLLL the time because I would throw the bat in my haste and glee at HITTING the ball and getting to run the bases. It took approximately 24 times of me getting called out before it occurred to anyone that maybe I didn't know the RULES of the game.

That was the end of my team-sports-career.

So. Team sports don't automatically occur to me as a thing to do.

I'm also entirely non-competitive. You wanna win? Oh my gosh I hope you do! I have no interest. Like. Uh. None.

So. Anyway, I realized that our four boys and a girl who all have half of their DNA given to them kindly by a man who DOES like sports, suddenly, I was painfully aware of the disservice I was doing my children.

I signed them up, that very day, for basketball in the winter. When asked upon registration, if I wanted to be a coach (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA) I signed Derek up instead.

Fast forward four months, and we have DEREK the COACH,  TWO officially registered basketball players (because it doesn't start until age 6) and three others who are chomping at the bit to play too. Seriously, I gently suggested to Ezra that he not go with Daddy, Henry and Spencer because he wasn't technically on the team, and he cried. So... yeah, I get to go to basketball every Saturday to let the littles play too. Even Miriam is insanely in love with the sport.

It's BIZARRE. It's weird to be the only one in the family who isn't like totally insane for the game. I'm all, "Yeah, it's pretty cool. It's all right."

WEIRD.

Anyway. For your viewing pleasure, BASKETBALL:

DRILLS! (And Oliver's head)



Wishin' and hopin'. Poor guy wants to be ON THE TEAM.



Spencer, the blur



Oliver preferred wearing the whistle and being a coach.



Random adorableness. :)

So, yeah, um. GO TEAM? (I am SO bad at this!)

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