Mommy Soup

How soup for 7 really works.

Kindle vs Books: a lesson in the economics of a family of 7

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day about books. She’s a fellow mom, though she only has 1 child. Her daughter is 8 and has recently fallen into the magical world of books. I was really excited for her.

You see, I love books. Always have. I grew up surrounded by books. I’m an adult and my dad still sends me books in the mail. My mom gives me a new book every time I see her (once a week). My kids have their own epic bookcase. With my own vast empire of literature, I offered to loan my friend some books for her daughter.

“No, we bought her a Kindle. It’ll save money in the long run. You should really get your kids some!”

I just stared at her blankly for a few minutes.  How on earth would a Kindle save me money? It made me realize something I’ve been mulling over for awhile: a “good deal” for a family with 1 or 2 kids is really expensive for a big family.

Let’s do the Kindle math. I have 5 kids. And a husband. Oh, and me. 7 people. Do you know how much 7 Kindles cost? $1400. Plus the cost of each book I download. Ach!

Okay, imagine I only buy for the people who can currently read. That’s still 4…plus 3 jealous and frustrated kids who don’t have a new toy. Still not a good deal.

Maybe I’m just old, but I love books. Not just reading, but the feel of books. The physical sensation of turning a page. I have a smartphone, so I know how awesome digital things can be. I’m actually writing this from my phone while I nurse and snuggle the baby. See? I’m not anti technology. I just don’t want a Kindle.

I want my kids to grow up holding books. They have Innotabs that they play with, but they don’t read on them. We read together. When my 2 year old “reads” to herself, I don’t have to worry about her breaking a $200 piece of equipment. Dropping her Dr. Suess book isn’t even all that loud. How many times would I have to replace those things?

Maybe a Kindle is a good fit for a small family. Or maybe someone who lives in a small apartment. Not so much for me. My $5 paperbacks will last through 7 people and always have a place in my home.

Plus, without bookcases, where would I put all the stuff I don’t want my kids to touch?

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The birth of Theron

My 5th pregnancy was just as easy and uneventful as the other 4. The birth not so much. Everything about my last baby has been unexpected, starting with her entrance into the world.

I woke up at 6:30 to pre for the millionth time. When I got to the bathroom, I was losing my mucus plug. Ewww! 5 kids and that had never happened to me. I also had a small leak of amniotic fluid. My contractions were pretty much non existent, so I decided to wash my face, braid my hair, and get dressed. My older 3 kids woke up and I sent them off to get dressed.

My husband and 4th baby woke up at 7:30. Ant took one look at me and was suddenly very awake. “Why is your hair braided already?” Because my water is leaking and I’m in early labor. “Shit! Do we need to go to the hospital? What does this mean?” Chill out! It means I’ll have the baby in the neixt 24 hours. Can you play mom for me?

So, he got up and got the kids breakfast while I hung out on the upstairs couch. My contractions were getting stronger, but I still felt like it’d be a few more hours. Dimitrios needed to get to preschool, though we had already called in sick for Persephone. Even with my other labors being so fast, I didn’t think this baby would come before noon. Plenty of time to get D to school before going to a hospital, right? Of course!

Ant and the kids kissed me good bye. Hilariously, Ant’s last words to me were, “Don’t have the baby until I get back.” I rolled my eyes at him. They were leaving at just after 8 and I figured they’d be back around 9. Cool! Some me time before another baby is attached to me.

Yeah, not so much.

My contractions started coming faster. They still weren’t that hard, but 1 minute contractions every 2 or 3 minutes is a little intense. If nothing else, they were making my couch uncomfortable. No problem! I’ll just throw some chucks from the emergency birthing kit on the floor and lay there.

I was totally comfy…but I’d left the lights on. The bulbs were driving me crazy. No joke, I spent 45 minutes (though I didn’t know it was that long) thinking to myself, “Stupid lights. I swear, after this next contraction, I’m going to get up and turn those stupid things off.” It didn’t occur to me that contractions so strong I can’t get off the floor are probably not a good sign.

Finally, I had a contraction strong enough that it made me grunt. Apparently, that grunt was a push! I was laying on my side and that grunt caused my water to explode all over my legs.

Shit.

As you’ve now seen in my last 2 births, breaking water means eminent delivery. I grabbed my phone to check the time. 9:03. Well, I better clean up this mess. I sat up to clean the fluids and had another contraction. Again, it was hard enough to make me grunt. Suddenly, there was a lot of pressure. I reached down and felt the baby’s head just inside me.

Double shit.

I grabbed some more chucks and threw them around me as quick as I could. I could feel another contraction coming. Sitting on my knees on my bedroom floor, I grunted into another contraction. Out came a head. I reached down to what should have been the back of the baby’s head…and stuck both my thumbs into eyes. I pulled my hands back up to my face and actually said out loud, “Oh, damn!”

Yeah…this baby was not only coming while I was at home alone, but was also coming out sunny side up.  I had about 2 minutes to center myself before I felt another contraction building.  I took a big breath and reached down.  Out came a big ass baby directly into my waiting hands.  I wrapped her in the closest thing I could grab…a chuck.  Yeah. not the fanciest thing to wrap a new baby in but I was kinda in shock.

Wait…I should probably make sure the baby I’ve been calling “Mini Moose” is really a boy.  I mean, I’ve always been right about my baby gender guesses, but I should confirm.  Nope…that is not a boy!  Holy crap!  I have another girl!

Laying on the floor, I grabbed my phone so I’d know my new daughter’s time of birth.  9:08.  Wow, that was much faster than I expected!  Hmm…I wonder where my husband is.  I should call him.

Here’s how the conversation went:

Ant: Hello?

Me:  Hi!  Where are you?

Ant:  I’m at the gate.  Are you okay?

Me:  I’m great.  You have another daughter.

Ant:  …Wait, what?

Me:  Theron is a girl.  She was born a few minutes ago.

Ant:  I…um…are you okay?

Me:  Really, I’m great.  I’m gonna need your help when you get home, though.

Ant:  Uh…okay…I’m pulling in the driveway right now.

Me:  Cool!  See ya soon.

Yeah, I have no idea why I was so calm.  I mean, I just gave birth alone on my floor.  The baby is wrapped in a piddle pad in my arms and still attached to me.

The front door opened and my oldest, Persephone, came bounding up the stairs.  I think Ant had tried to “warn” her that I’d given birth, but my inquisitive daughter just wanted to see.  “Hi, mom!”  Hi, honey. (Mind you, I’m still laying on the floor surrounded by the aftermath of birth)  “Did you have Mini Moose?”  Yes, honey.  Can you go get daddy?  “Sure, Mommy…Daddy!  Mommy had Mini Moose and needs you!”  Thanks, sweetie.

Poor Ant came in the room in total task mode.  “What do you need me to do?”  Well, I’m gonna need you to wash your hands and put on some gloves.  And grab those scissors.  “Okay, I’m on it.”  Cool.  I’m gonna deliver the placenta and I’ll need you to clamp and cut the cord and then take the baby while I clean up.  “Um…okay.”

Seriously.  That’s exactly how it went.  It didn’t hit poor Ant until a few hours later.  He cut the cord and took Theron to meet one brother and her sisters and I got up and cleaned up the mess I’d made pushing out a baby.  Then, I got myself all situated on that upstairs couch to snuggle skin to skin with my new baby.

I think it took 30 minutes before Ant reminded me that I should call my mom and sister to tell them I had the baby.  Those conversations were pretty funny and included things like, “Wait, where are you?” and “Have you called 911 yet?”

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The birth of Calandra

I started emailing midwives the day after my positive pregnancy test.  The midwife I picked was really hands off, which I loved.  To be honest, I didn’t want to be monitored at all.  I would have been perfectly happy doing it all on my own.

I was really secretive about my whole pregnancy.  I gave vague due dates and didn’t find out the baby’s sex.  I learned a lot about how to monitor and take care of myself with little confirmations at each midwife appointment.

July 20 is my sister’s birthday.  I didn’t want my kids to share birthdays with any other family so I didn’t want to go into labor then.  Before I went to bed that night (still no signs of labor), I said to my belly, “Okay, you can come out tomorrow if you want.”  It was supposed to be a joke.  At 3:30am, I got up for one of those million nightly bathroom trips that pregnant women have.  Hilariously enough, I was reading a friend’s blog post about the birth of her latest son (we were about 2 weeks apart).  After getting up to pee 3 times in 10 minutes and not peeing, I started to remember the birth of Lucius.

At 4am, it occurred to me that I should wake up my husband.  I hate bugging people and didn’t want to call anyone yet, but the guy was totally going to be in the way if I didn’t wake him up.  Together, we prepped the bed.  You know…waterproof barrier, sheets I never liked, that kinda stuff.  Finally, we called my midwife.

I’m not really sure of times after that, or what anyone else was doing.  I went Zen and began meditating through each contraction because that is what works for me.  I do know that my midwife, her midwife friend, and a midwife in training/photographer arrived at some point.  Oh, and Ant had the good sense to finally call my mom and sister.  Everyone just let me hang out on my bed and do my thing.

Hilarious side note:  People ask me where my kids were during my homebirth.  Uh, they were home with me!  Persephone and Dimitrios were down the hall in their rooms.  Lucius still slept in our room  (having recently moved from bed sharing to his own crib) and slept through all of this.  I had been preparing them to be there for labor by watching lots of labor videos and telling them what to expect.  They were excited to be a part of it.  Dimitrios always sleeps in and Persephone and Lucius were always up at 6 (back then).

My mom must have gotten there around 6, because I know that Lucius woke up them.  I wanted to snuggle with him, but my husband sent him downstairs with my mom to eat breakfast.  Around that time, I started getting the urge to get comfy and my water broke.  After flipping all over the place (I was very agile for a pregnant lady), I decided to get on my knees and look out the window.  I’m still not sure why that seemed like a good idea, but I like looking at trees.

Persephone came to my bedroom door around that time.  “Mommy, what are you doing?”  Um, I’m going to push out the baby.  “Oh, okay.  Can I go downstairs and have breakfast with Nani?”  Sure.

I love that girl.

I didn’t push.  I want that to be clear.  I never pushed with Calandra.  She came totally on her own through the force of my contractions.  One contraction pushed her head out.  The next one pushed her whole body out into the waiting hands of my husband and myself.  Yeah, we caught our own baby.  I pulled her into my arms, fell over on my side, and said, “Hi!”

There’s something really cool about not only catching your own baby, but being the one to announce, “She’s a girl!”  Maybe I’m a control freak, but I like being the one to do it all.

The midwives cleaned up everything for me (a major bonus) and left me to bond with my baby before they weighed her.  I was excited to show the kids their new sister, but they were too busy playing with my mom.  In fact, they all came upstairs to meet her…and were more excited about going to preschool that day.  I have been told, however, that they took the record for best share day with their story of mommy giving birth that morning before school.  🙂

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The birth of Lucius

I spent most of my pregnancy with Lucius avoiding doctors and tests.  I didn’t see the reason for most of the tests they wanted to run and my new OB treated me like an idiot.  At one point, he actually responded to a question of mine with, “Look, I’ve delivered more babies than you have, so just do what I tell you.”  I was so irritated that I actually snapped back at him (because my brain to mouth filter broke), “You’re a man, so all you’ve ever done is catch a baby.  I’ve delivered more children that you ever will.”  That was the end of that.  I saw him 3 times during my whole pregnancy.

At 39 weeks (I wouldn’t let them change my due date this time), the OB told me I’d be induced at 40 weeks because that was long enough.  I said, “Okay” and never went back.  I checked my own blood pressure and monitored fetal movement on my own after that and was really excited when I hit 40 weeks.  Everyone around me started to freak out, but I felt really calm.  I kept saying, “He can stay in there as long as he wants.  I’m good.”  I loved going “overdue” because I finally felt ready.  And feeling ready for the whole thing made a huge difference.  I even started making jokes (sorta) about just giving birth in the shower on my own.

Other people were not so okay with me going over.   2 days before I hit 41 weeks, my mom and sister decided we should all go to the zoo.  My mom, Lyra (my sister), Persephone, Dimitrios, and I all went to the zoo, where Lyra and my mom let me push a fully stocked double stroller around.  If you’ve never been to the Oakland Zoo, let me describe the most obvious feature to a 40+ week pregnant woman: it’s on a cliff with paths at 45 degree angles everywhere.  I had mild contractions all day and Lyra and Mom joked about how they were going to walk this baby out of me.  I felt fine when we finally got home, though I was a little tired.  We all went to bed and slept deeply and happily.

The next morning, I woke up having to go to the bathroom really bad.  I started complaining to my husband about how he shouldn’t have let me eat so much bean dip the night before.  After about 30 minutes, he told me we should call my mom over to watch the kids and go to the hospital.  Why?  “Because you’ve been complaining about the bean dip every 7 minutes for the last half hour.”  I’m not in labor, dude!  And even if I was, this has to be super early labor.  I don’t want to hang around a hospital all day.

20 minutes later, my mom shows up.  Yeah, he called her behind my back.  “Let’s just go for a trial run.  It’ll be fun!”  Okay, let me make the kids’ breakfast first.  y mom looked at me like I had 3 heads.  The 2 of them pretty much shoe horned me out the door.

The hospital was about 30 minutes away, and the car ride made me realize that I was in labor.  It still didn’t feel like I was that far along, but I was having contractions every 3-5 minutes.  They didn’t hurt, but I couldn’t walk very well through them by the time we got to the hospital.  Poor Ant was pretty much sure I was going to deliver the baby while we were walking and and yelled at the security guard, “3rd baby in 3 years!”  Poor security guard freaked out and ran to get a wheel chair.  I have to admit, I was pretty embarrassed that no one would let me wake.  We rode up the elevator with another couple in labor.  The poor woman was leaned against the wall, wailing through contractions.  When we got to L&D, I insisted they take her first.  Apparently, I didn’t even look like I was in labor.

Here comes the funny part…

The only way we could get any one’s attention (after the wailing woman) was for Ant to yell “This is her 3rd baby in 3 years and she’s 41 weeks!”  Suddenly, I’m being rushed into triage so they can check me.  I could still hear the wailing woman.  They had to yell her measurements over her screaming so I got to hear it (2cm). There I am, cool as a cucumber.  The attending nurse checked me and turned pale…

“Has your water broken?” No.  “Are you sure?”  This is my 3rd kid.  I know what it feels like to have my water break.  Why?  “Do you have any urge to push?”  No.  My contractions aren’t even that hard.  Why?  “Ummm…because you’re 10cm and the head is right there.”  Oh, shit!  Really?  “We need to move this bed to a room right away.”  No, I can walk there.  “No, you really can’t.”  Sure I can.  (It took Ant pointing out that I wasn’t wearing pants for me to agree to be wheeled to a room).

Once in a labor room, I was making jokes with all the nurses.  The midwife actually said to me, “You’re making this look too easy.”  It was pretty funny.  After about 30 minutes there, I started to have “real” contractions.  They still weren’t more than I could handle, but it was defiantly labor now.  I flipped around in the  bed for awhile trying to get comfy before my water broke.  The midwife let me pick what position I wanted to be in to push.  10 minutes of pushing/letting my body push and she let Ant help catch our son and put him in my arms.  Lucius weighed 1 ounce less than Dimitrios had and my chart reflects what is officially considered 1 hour of labor (the time from when I got to the hospital to when Lucius was born) with no medical interventions.  They never even bothered to try and give me an IV because the midwife and I agreed that there was no point.

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I went home the next day after refusing pretty much everything they offered me (except food) with a happy little boob-baby.  Seriously, he ate so much after he was born that my milk came in in less than 12 hours.  We called him snake bite because of the way he would lunge for my boob.

His big brother and big sister were overjoyed to have him.  It was the beginning of a small obsession with babies for the 2 of them.  Persephone was 8 days away from her 3rd birthday and Dimitrios was about 1 1/2.

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A Small Disclaimer Before I go Further

After Dimitrios, I took a much more hands-off method to pregnancy and medical stuff.  As I grew more comfortable with motherhood, I learned to trust my own instincts.  I’m not saying that everyone should follow the same path as me.  This is what has worked for me and my family.  I’m an advocate for knowing all the options and choosing what’s right for you.  Just because I don’t do things the standard way doesn’t mean that I think less of those who do.  I’ve been majorly attacked in forums in the past for my opinions because people tend to think that I’m implying that they’re choices are wrong because they aren’t the same as mine.  That is not how I feel at all.  Just felt like I should say that before we get any further into this because Lucius is where things start to majorly veer off from the mainstream.

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The birth of Dimitrios

Before I get into the birth of my second child, I need to add a little something to Persephone’s birth.  When my water spontaneously broke, the doctors thought I was 39 weeks.  You see, at my ultrasound, they had measured her legs and moved my due date accordingly.  Turns out, I make babies with long legs.  When she was born, they decided that they were wrong (and that I had been right all along) and that I was only 37 weeks along.  My OBGYN also made the decision right then that she would have me induced before 40 weeks with any other kids I had because they would be too big.  Needless to say, my 6 week follow up with her was the last time I ever saw her…

Flash forward to my “41 week” appointment with my new OB.  She understands that I’m really only 39 weeks, but decides to have me induced anyway because I’ve been having prodormal labor for 2 weeks, my baby is “big enough,” and she can sneak me in because my chart has me at 41 weeks.  I agree to it because I’m being sent to the most pro-natural birth hospital in the state.  I mean, on any given day, they have 4x more midwives on duty in L & D than OBs.  When I get there, the midwife on duty checks me and suggests I go for a walk.  An hour of walking (I didn’t feel any pain), and I was at 4cm.

This is when she lays it all out for me.  “On your chart, it says you were sent here for an induction.  You’re obviously laboring just fine on your own, but I have to do something since we’re supposed to be inducing you.  I don’t want to give you pitocin, so will you let me break your water?”  Uh, okay.  “You’re going to feel some serious labor pains after this, but it probably won’t last long.”  Okay…

15 minutes later…

SWEET BABY JESUS!!!!!! OOOOWWWWWWWW!!!!!  I’M DYING!!!!!!

Yeah, going from zero to full blown labor is bone jarring to say the least.  After an hour of that, I only had the cognitive ability to press the nurse call button and scream, “Epidural!” when she answered.  I didn’t know it then, but my midwife created as many road blocks as possible to me getting an epidural because she had faith in me doing it on my own.  After all, I had come in saying I wanted a natural birth and she had already been in my corner for that.  She saunters in and decides to have a conversation with me instead of drugging me.

“So, you want an epidural?”  Yes.  “Well, you haven’t had enough fluids yet.” Wait, what?  “We need to get you an IV first, then you’ll have to wait for a full bag of water first.”  Am I being punked?  No?  Okay, do whatever.

45 minutes later, the midwife comes in with the anesthesiologist.  She asks me if I still want an epidural.  I’m pretty sure I just whimpered and nodded.  “Let me check you first.  You might not need it.”  Kill me!  “Oh, you’re about 9cm.  You really don’t need it.”  DRUG ME!  “um, okay.”  I sat up and instantly felt the urge to push.  When I said that, the midwife kinda shrugged.  20 minutes of the anesthesiologist poking at my back, and my midwife told me to lay back down so she could check me again.

“Well, his head is right here and you can push if you want.”  Wait, am I supposed to be able to feel all that?  Because I can.  “Well, I told you that you didn’t need an epidural.  Would you like a mirror so you can watch your baby come out?”  What!?!?!  No!!!  “Really?  Oh, well.  Go ahead and push when you’re ready.”  Okay…

Around the second push, I looked down and there was a mirror.   ARRGHHHHHH!!!!!  I don’t want to do this.  I want to go home.  With a baby crowning, I actually tried to get out of the bed because I just wanted to go home.  Apparently, this is a normal reaction but in 5 births its the only time I ever felt that way.  My body felt completely alien and foreign.  Completely beyond my control.  And I was scared.  Terrified.  Seeing that head coming out of me had pushed me over the edge.

“SHAINA!”  What?  “PUSH!”  Okay.  And out came my Dimitrios.  After 2 1/2 hours of labor, a false epidural, and 15 minutes of pushing, I had given birth to a child more than a pound bigger than my first.

The next day, my midwife came to my room and apologized for yelling at me.  “I just knew that you could do it but were losing focus.”  She was the first medical professional to ever say to me that I was made to birth and that I’d be fine if I just did what my body wanted.  That was a pretty huge moment for me.  From then on, I would trust my body before a stranger.

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The birth of Persephone

I figured I’d write a quick post while my kids are (mostly) distracted by breakfast and Panic! At the Disco.

My husband’s best friend just became a dad a few days ago and its got me reflecting on my children’s births.  With 5 kids, I’ve obviously been through a few deliveries but I’ll be the first to admit that it doesn’t make me an expert.  I’m lucky enough that my body does really well with pregnancy and labor, making for very uncomplicated births.  My most complicated (and traumatic) delivery was my 1st.  It was that delivery that made me question the entire birthing industry (because that’s what it has become).

Persephone, my oldest child, was born at 37 weeks.  My water spontaneously broke before I felt any real contractions.  It was kinda like a movie.  From water breaking to baby out, I labored for 12 hours.  I had wanted to go natural, but everyone (my mom, my sister, my doctor, my husband…) said I wouldn’t be able to handle it.  I ended up getting an epidural…which made my blood pressure and O2 levels drop and sent Persephone’s heart rate down.  In all the pictures of me for the last few hours of my labor, I look like something is very wrong.  When Persephone was born after 20 minutes of pushing, she was blue and they took her away.  I had to sit there alone for 10 minutes (because everyone left me and rushed to her) before I heard her cry.  It was the longest 10 minutes of my life.

After all that, the doctor stitched up a minor tear and congratulated me on a textbook labor and delivery.  After being taken to recovery, I was left alone with a new baby thinking to myself, “If that was textbook, I don’t think I ever want to do this again.”  I got an infection from the internal monitor they clipped on Persephone and had to stay in the hospital on an IV for 4 days.  I was so shell shocked by the experience and I think that was part of the reason that nursing her was so unsuccessful.  I only lasted for 3 months with her, though that was certainly better than nothing.

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This is me and Persephone.  She was 5 days old and we had been home from the hospital for 1 day.

My kids are done eating now and we’re off for a hike.  Next time, I’ll tell you about the birth of baby #2.

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Hello world!

It’s official!  I have a blog.  Now, what on earth I’m going to talk about, I have no idea.  I guess I’ll start with telling you a little about myself.  My name is Shaina and I’m a 28 year old mother of 5 children.  I met my husband in front of a 7-11 (giggle).  We’ve been together almost 8 years and married for almost 7.  Yes, he is the father of all 5 kids (a really annoying question I get asked a lot).  To clear up a few more questions strangers often ask…

Yes, I know what causes pregnancy.

No, none of them are twins.

Yes, I would like more kids.

Yes, my hands are full.

No, I’m not Mormon or Catholic.

No, I’m not on state aid of any kind.

Yes, my kids are remarkably well behaved.

No, I wasn’t a teen mom.

Oh, and I’m educated…I gots me some fancy learning.

Well, now that those have been cleared up…I’m also a super crafty person.  If it can be sewn, I can probably sew it.  I like to bake but hate cooking (which works out well because my husband is an exceptional cook).  I am currently homeschooling and unschooling my kids, which is more fun than I ever imagined.  I cloth diaper, sell cloth diapers, make my own soaps, and gave birth to my last 2 kids at home.  In fact, the last one was born completely unassisted and alone at home, but that’s for another post.

I’m not sure what else you’d like to know, but feel free to ask me.  I’m just starting out on the blog world and could use some direction.

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