Pregnancy After a Stillbirth

 

PregnancyAfteraStillbirth

We Have Good News!

Today I am 9 weeks and 3 days pregnant with our 7th child.  I am due some time in September 2018, and our children are so excited to welcome another member to the the crew.  My husband is positively giddy over the prospect of becoming a father again, and his service dog has become my shadow and wants to lay on me all the time.

Unfortunately this is not our 7th living child.  January 22nd, 2017 I delivered a precious boy, sleeping.  He had gone to be with Jesus on January 18th, and measured the exact gestational age he was on that day, which confirmed that he had died the same day.

What Does Confirmation of Pregnancy Look Like After Loss?

I can say that people are more likely to be excited for, and with you, as a large family mom for this new little one.  There is something about loss that gives people a greater perspective regarding the fragility of life, and it makes new life that much more precious.  Is everyone going happy?  Unfortunately, there are always going to be people who think you are doing too much, or too much too fast, the choice is yours and your husband’s.

Some call these precious souls “rainbow babies” because they consider the previous loss akin to a rainstorm, and these are the bright promises at the end.  I use the term to explain our situation to others, but I don’t feel that our loss was a storm, it was merely a season in our parenting journey and now we have someone who is a part of our family that left us very early.

I was scared to take a pregnancy test this time.  It had been nearly a year, which has never happened in our marriage.  There were multiple times that I was certain I was expecting again, because we choose not to prevent pregnancy, but each time I was not.  My twin sister is the one who ultimately gave me the pep-talk I needed to finally take the test.  She said, “If you test, what are the options?”  Well, either I am or I am not.  So pointed, and so simple, but my brain needed the directness of that statement to snap me out of my fear and look at the situation.

One day before our 6th child, McLeod’s, 1st Still-Birthday I took the test in a grocery store bathroom on the way to church.  It instantly turned positive, and this grieving momma felt the weight of that grief fall off of her shoulders, to be replaced by unimaginable joy and excitement.  I just kept saying, “Thank you Lord!’, over and over and cried.  We were going to have another baby!

My Plans

I am still relatively early, but this baby is going to be celebrated every chance we get.  I have never been much of a selfie person, but I love pictures of myself pregnant because I want all of our children to know that they were wanted and cherished.  It is the single most regretful thing from our McLeod’s pregnancy that I do not have any pictures of me pregnant with him.  I had caved to the pressure of potential judgement by others, when I should have just done what I felt in my heart, and celebrate my baby anyway.

This time I take weekly pictures of my belly growth, which after as many babies as I have had happens much earlier than if you are on your second or third child.  I already have to wear larger skirts to feel comfortable, and I share my excitement with anyone who will listen.

My children were present when our son’s death was discovered, and they are keenly aware that life can end at any time.  We speak life into this pregnancy, but we also talk openly as a family when the fear of another loss creeps up in conversation because acknowledging our children’s awareness of this part of life cements the grieving process we have been on for the last year since his death for them.  We know where he is, and we know God loves all of us greatly in spite of the pain of losing him.

Please share in our excitement, and anticipation of a new baby sometime in September 2018.

 

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The 5 Steps to Menu Planning

1. Find your Medium

I look at menu planning as my monthly craft project, because if it has to be done I should enjoy something about it.  With any craft project you need to decide what you have to work with, your medium.  Pen and paper?  Word document?  An app?

It can be as complex as you want.  I have done a little of everything.  Sometimes pretty is nice, but it is not something I have to do.

2. How Many Days are you Cooking?

My weekly cooking routine is centered around leftover days.  I plan two entire days in the week where I get a break from cooking anything from scratch, my refrigerator and my wallet thank me a lot for this.  No science experiments growing in plastic containers, and less food waste.

For our family these days are planned on Sunday and Wednesday.  Then, my job is to decide if there is a chance we may be eating out (not likely with two Celiacs), or if we need to be out of town.    Most of the time I am planning for 5 days of cooking per week, or 20 days per month.  I do either weekly and monthly cooking, depending on our schedule.

3. How Many Meals are you Planning for?

I plan breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for each day I will be cooking.  Many plan just dinners and wing it on the other meals, but I find that lack of planning to be chaotic with the size of our family, and I usually end up lost and frustrated.

I plan one snack for a day for all the family members, usually an afternoon time is when it is eaten.  Sometimes we do popcorn for movie night or dessert, both are an after dinner event.

In one week I need to plan 15 meals and 7 snacks, and for one month I plan for 90 meals and 30 snacks.

4. Find your Food

I use both cookbooks (my favorties are Trim Healthy Mama, Trim Health Mama Cookbook, and Trim Healthy Table)  and Pinterest for recipes.  Our family follows the Trim Healthy Mama way of eating, along with our dietary restrictions of Celiac Disease and Lactose Intolerance.  We also have to use recipes that feed at least 8 people, sometimes we have to double or quadruple them.

We have several meals that are favorites, but we do not have a schedule for those.  We also do not do “Taco Tuesdays” or “Meatless Mondays” as themes.  My husband really enjoys variety in recipes, but we do plan a soup every day for lunch to help with time constraints and packing in the veggies for the kids.  Soup is a great sensory experience for those with sensory processing disorder too.

5. Make a List

Once you have picked your meals and snacks, make a list.  I go through meal by meal and see how many pound of chicken breast, and ground meat.  How many cups of milk, and cans of veggies.  For fresh produce I start with just enough to get us through a week, and then if I buy more it is with the intention of doing a meal prep day so that it won’t go bad before it is cooked.

Guess, what?  You did it!  Not too hard, and it can be adapted for any number of people.

~  Blessings to you ~   

Nicole

 

 

How do we do birthdays in our large family?

I used to think, before I was a mother, that I needed to put my children into activities so that they could socialize and make friends, which end up being the children we would invite to birthday parties.  But, we tried that a couple times.  Inviting everyone who our oldest child played with at church, or any other activities we went to, only to be turned down or stood up on the big day.

My eyes have been opened.  We, now, take a page from some other large families that I have come across, and keep the party a family affair.

When the child reaches five years old or so we plan our family fun day, or outing, on the same day we are going to be celebrating and they get to pick the activity.  Two of our children have allergies to gluten and dairy, so attending birthday parties anywhere is extremely difficult, and potentially dangerous, and many children wouldn’t want to eat the cake or other desserts we choose to indulge in when they find out the ingredient list.  So, family parties work for us in many ways.

Decorating

I took my current ideas on decorating for a party from one of my favorite bloggers, Jamerril Stewart, and make use of my dollar store or Walmart.

I take the birthday child with me, or consult them about what they like at the moment, and we go pick out their decorations.  Party hats, streamers, balloons and other fun things are gathered.  Then, I set them up before the kids get up on the big day.  With our oldest daughter I made a streamer wall hanging from her bedroom door, this year, to greet her when she woke up, she thought that was really fun.

Teaching Children to Honor Others

This weekend our youngest child is going to be two.  I was watching a vlog last week and noticed that the children were giving gifts they had made or bought to the one who’s birthday it was.  This idea really resonates with me, because parties have become so much about what the guests will get to bring home in their goodie bags, instead of how they will honor the birthday kid.

So, this momma took the four oldest to the dollar store without the little one, and they each picked out a gift for their sister.  We also picked wrapping paper, with a group plan to have a wrapping party in my room before the big day.

It was a bit of a disaster, really.  The six and five year old did not understand that we were not picking out toys for them, and meltdowns ensued once they did.  But, they rallied quickly and I believe this will be an important routine in our family to cultivate an understanding of how to honor someone other than themselves.

Birthdays, Large Family Style

What Nobody Tells You About Losing a Child

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“Nicole, don’t freak out, don’t freak out….” this went over and over in my head while the doctor looked so diligently for any signs of life in our unborn child. My seven year old, excited about seeing his sibling, and very used to ultrasounds, pointed out, “Mommy, there’s no heartbeat.” The OB looked at me, grabbed my hand and mouthed, “I’m so sorry.”

We lost our 6th child, and 3rd son, in January 2017. He was still born at 16 weeks gestation, with no other complications noted before then. I went into the office for a routine examination, with my five other children surrounding me in the ultrasound room, and my husband away training his service dog in another state.

What nobody tells you about losing a child

Somebody has been where you are.  Many are desperate to give you hope in a time where they may have felt none.  I am fortunate to have met these people since the death, and birth of my son.  My OB shared her loss with me when she confirmed that our child had indeed passed on to heaven, after my second ultrasound of that day.  She cried with me in the delivery room when I told her the miracle I know God performed for me in starting my labor before the day I was set for induction.

What are you testifying of?

The most painful circumstances of our lives are where people see our true faith. By word and action, we give testament to where our hearts are. What are you testifying of? Acceptance, love, hope, mercy, grace? You can show all of these things, even in the dark times. The gospel of Jesus is revealed through our lives. That we can believe that God is merciful even to death and that anything that can be a blessing if we choose to see it that way.

I have purposely shared my thoughts regarding this time in our lives on my social media, and taken every opportunity that presents itself to share our son’s life story face-to-face. I have shown the pictures I have of our son with those who cared to see them. I am not ashamed of his story, or my part in it. I know that he was meant to be and that God loves him and me more than his life.

Dear Mom…

I know that you may not be ready yet to hear this, but I want to let you know that you will move on. It doesn’t diminish your love for your child to live. Don’t camp in the land of grief. Go ahead, cry, yell, scream. God can handle any emotion that you feel, and he will still love you, but please find your blessing in all of this and celebrate the life your child had. God doesn’t waste life; your child was here for a purpose. He, or she, was fashioned with all the intricacy and care of any other that has ever been created, by a creator that died to know him intimately and personally for all eternity. Eternity just began very quickly by comparison.

Dear Friends and Family…

This weekend is Mother’s Day.  She may not feel like celebrating anything, but if she does do it, and go for the gold!

Being a mother is far more than giving birth, taking that child home, or even carrying a child in your body.  It is a choice to love someone that God placed in your life.  When they arrive and when they leave is not important in regards this title.  Honor her for the mother she is right now, hurting and healing, but a mother.