Field Trip


Hayride with all five kids

We went on a field trip last week to a local produce farm. We were able to go inside an observation hive (which was great – the kids got to see the bees much closer than they can here at home!) and beaver lodges. They also learned about pumpkin and strawberry life cycles. It was a lot of fun.

The kids also got to take pumpkins home with them. Caleb announced he wants his made into pie.

Luke’s Birth Story

My first time blogging in a year, and I come to type out my birth story….I never even mentioned here that God had sent us another little blessing….

This time around we had some confusion with my due date. We weren’t quite sure when it should be, so my midwife sent me for an ultrasound for dating. The date we came up with was about a week sooner than by my closest calculation, so we went with that. It was July 15th.

As usual, the Braxton Hicks contractions started for me mid-pregnancy. The first part of the pregnancy was pretty good, I pretty much just felt great. The third trimester brought with it a massive fibromyalgia flare, that seemed to last the entire rest of the pregnancy.

July 15th came and went. I was very frustrated and miserable. I had many episodes of strong contractions that week, but no other signs of labor being any time soon.

At my appointment on the 15th, my midwife Christine decided not to schedule an appointment for the next week. We figured if I needed one, we could schedule it at the last minute.

That Saturday (the 20th – which was the date I’d been going by from my own calculations), I noticed shortly after getting up that I’d been having regular contractions for a while. They weren’t unbearable, but were pretty regular. We had a youth meeting at church that afternoon, but I figured I’d just go, and come home if things picked up too much.

By the time I sat through the first part of the service, I was absolutely miserable. The contractions weren’t completely regular, but were strong enough that I had to breathe through them. I texted my midwife, who told me she thought I should head home and take a nap….that way I could get some rest and see if they’d stop.

We left the van at church for a friend to drive the kids home (we had taken two cars) and headed home. I laid down…and the contractions almost stopped. I was so frustrated because this had happened several times over the past couple weeks.

That evening, after the kids got back home, the contractions started again. This time they were more intense, and were nice and regular. I called Christine and she and her assistant headed over.

Once they got here, the contractions had spaced out again. She checked me, and I was only dilated to about a 4. I could have cried. After all the contractions I’d had, I was really hoping to be farther than that. We walked up and down the street trying to get things going, but it didn’t work. Christine checked me again, and found that there hadn’t been any change at all. She told me to go to bed and rest, and that maybe things would start back up again by morning. She and her assistant left around 1 am. I was so discouraged.

I did sleep, somewhat. I fell right to sleep, but even stronger contractions were waking me up….but they were so far apart that they seemed worthless.

Morning came and we headed off to church. I was so upset to even be going because I had so hoped to be holding the baby by then. But the services were wonderful and just what I needed. Looking back, I’m glad I went, even though I’d wanted to have had the baby by then.

When I went to bed that night, again the very strong contractions were waking me every so often, but they were so far apart still that I just dismissed them.

They started getting closer together as the night went on, and by 3 am I woke Stephen up to have him start timing the contractions. They still weren’t terribly close, but were so intense that I figured it was finally the real thing.

By 4 am I couldn’t stay in bed any longer, and I called Christine not long after that. The boys woke up right around 6, and Christine and her assistant Nicole both got here shortly after that.

By the time they got here, I noticed that the contractions were spacing out again, so we went for a walk. I could have cried. I was so afraid things would stop again, even though the contractions were so intense I was convinced this really was labor.

Stephen called his mom to tell her I was in labor, and she decided to come over to get the kids. That hadn’t been our original plan, but it worked out very well. A little while after Mom left with the kids, Christine decided to check my progress. She got this funny look on her face, and said, “You’re not going to believe this, but you’re dilated to an 8.” She was right – I couldn’t believe it. After the contractions had been so far apart, I was shocked to have made that much progress already.

After that we just waited. Christine told me later that she’s seen other labors where the mom is distracted for whatever reason, and labor stalls. All along, I thought I wanted the kids here while I was in labor, but apparently that wasn’t the best option after all.

I wanted to get in the birth pool, but the contractions were still only about 5 minutes apart, so Christine suggested I wait a bit longer. We filled the pool, and we waited. Finally the contractions got closer together and more intense. After having had Esther in the pool, all I wanted was to be in the pool this time, for the pain relief. I was willing to wait though, to avoid having things slow down once I got in the pool.

Then I noticed I was feeling a bit “pushy” during some of the contractions…..and they were close enough together that I was allowed to get in the pool. What relief!

The nice thing about the pool is in between contractions seems to be almost completely pain free. For me, it is, anyway.

It was some time after 10 when I got in the pool.

The week before, Stephen had listed some goats on Craigslist that we were trying to sell. One lady wanted to come get them, but wasn’t able to come until Monday morning between 10 and 11. Now, here it was, Monday morning, after 10, and I was about to deliver. She had never given Stephen her phone number, and had an hour and a half drive here. I was kind of hoping that she’d get lost on the way, so that I could deliver before she arrived. That didn’t exactly happen.

After a couple contractions in the pool, Christine told me I could try pushing to see how it felt. With my other labors, I hated pushing. This time, it felt really good to push – like I finally had something productive to do. I tried pushing a couple contractions, and then Christine told me she needed to check me again.

So far, my water had not broken. I was so close to delivering that we decided she would break my water to help me deliver. She told me later that the water was so hard to break that she wasn’t sure how much longer I would have been in labor if she hadn’t broken it.

Right about then, we heard a car pull in the drive. I figured it’d be a while yet so told Stephen to quick go outside and sell the goats and get back in the house.

Two contractions later and I realized how wrong I’d been. I told Christine I thought it would be awful if I delivered the baby while Stephen was a few feet outside.

Nicole went running for the door, yelling for Stephen to get inside immediately. He got in the house and Luke was born almost immediately. After his head was out, I heard them talking about checking the cord since Luke had the cord wrapped around his neck. One more push and Christine was handing me my baby.

I just sat there, looking at him, enjoying having this precious little one in my arms. I told Stephen I didn’t mind if he went back outside to finish up with the goats (we could still hear the lady in the drive at her car). At that point I just wanted her gone so we could enjoy our newest little one.

Stephen was only outside for a few moments, and when he came back in he was able to cut the cord. I delivered the placenta really quickly too, and they helped me into the bed. What relief. I couldn’t wait to take a nap!

After Luke nursed for a while, they did the newborn assessment. I had been saying all along that I thought he would be at least 9 pounds 4 ounces…..and he weighed in at 9 pounds 5 ounces. He was 21 inches long, and was born at 11:00 am.

It was a really strange labor, and the most rested I have ever felt while in labor. It was so peaceful and laid back. From start to finish it was 8 hours long, but that didn’t really seem that long once it was over.

I felt so good afterward. I just felt like I’d been exercising for 8 hours straight, but it was a “I’ve been working” tired, not a “I’m in so much pain” tired.

Stephen is amazing too. When I was napping after having the baby, he was in the kitchen canning tomatoes. What a guy. I know he was tired too.

I still can’t decide who Luke looks like. He just looks like Luke. He has the same olive coloring that Anna has, and looks a good bit like the baby pictures I have of her. But he looks different enough too that I’m curious to see what he looks like as he gets older.

It was a fantastic home water birth experience. I have a wonderful midwife (and her assistant too!). The whole thing was absolutely wonderful.

Now Luke is a week and a half old. He doesn’t sleep much at night unless it’s on me, but I know that phase will pass soon enough. He nurses like a champ and is gaining weight very well. At his first visit to the doctor on Tuesday, he weighed 9 lb 6 oz – he passed his birth weight at one week.

The big kids all love on Luke constantly. Esther took a little while to warm up to him, but now she’s constantly at my side, talking to Luke and patting his head and tummy.

I am so blessed.

Lots of bees

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We have nine beehives now – isn’t that amazing?  Things got insanely busy after my last post about them and I never posted an update.

A couple of our hives have swarmed since then, which gave us opportunity to practice some creative swarm catching techniques.  When they land 50 feet up in a tree, creativity somehow becomes necessary.  😉

It has been amazing to watch as God has sent us so many colonies this year.  We have nine right now, and a client of Stephen’s wants him to come trap a colony out of his garage soon too.

Gardening

Things have been so fun around here. We got a greenhouse!

Ok, I’m probably the only one as excited about it as I am, but that’s ok. I’ve wanted one for a long time. When this one went on sale, we bought it pretty quickly – it was a steal! It was VERY hard to figure out the instructions, but we finally got it done.

We’ve also been adding some square foot gardens. They’re not done, but they look good so far.

This is my herb garden. We’re trying some new herbs and I’m excited to see how they do over the summer.

The one in the back is the kids’ garden. It’s not done either, but they’re really excited that they get to have their own box!

A swarm found us

Today was such an adventure. A swarm of honeybees landed in a tree right by our house, not 20 feet outside our door. Since we didn’t have to go anywhere, I was able to take a LOT of pictures.


In the tree (about 10 feet up)


A closer look


Stephen climbing up to cut the branch the swarm is on


Hi Mom!


Finding the queen


The queen (can’t really see her here, but she’s in there)


Marching into the box


There were so many bees!


They were everywhere!


About three hours later, most of the bees were in the hive


A view with the observation window open


While most of the bees went right into the top bar hive, there was still a fairly large clump of bees in the bushes. They fell there when the branch was first cut. From their behavior, we’re not sure if there’s a second queen in there or if they just never joined the first group. We’ve heard of swarms with more than one queen, so we’re hoping that’s the case here. Stephen set a 5 frame nuc there with bait inside to see what they’d do, and by dusk, they were marching right into that hive just like they did the top bar hive. We’ll know more tomorrow when it’s light out again and Stephen can go into the hive.

We have had three traditional Langstroh hives. Stephen has been experimenting with one of them, trying to see if the bees in it will move into a top bar hive. It’s been fascinating to watch, but that’s another post for another day. We also have a full size top bar hive, but haven’t had a chance to use it until now. We were waiting to either buy a package of bees or catch a swarm. . .and here God sent us a swarm.

It was a very interesting afternoon, to say the least. I even suited up and went out to take pictures. I got some neat video too but can’t seem to find the program on my computer I always used to edit video with. . .so until I find something, the videos will have to wait.

We’ve been praying for a swarm call, but this was even better. We didn’t have to go anywhere!