38 weeks | Baby #4

Last possible comparison of all four pregnancies, since Truman was born right at 38w0d (because of induction with pre-eclampsia)!

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So, this photo comparison really stressed me out for awhile today.  I ended up tossing the original, and took the above current picture tonight instead of using the one I took this morning. It just seemed like my belly looked SO SMALL and I started feeling a little panicky, like, 'Maybe everyone is right, I'm really too small and this baby is having a growth restriction or something.' Which is ridiculous and not at all 'zen' like I'm intending to be, but still. It was a very real concern for me this morning. Now the above picture doesn't seem so starkly different this time compared to the others. I mean, I'm carrying differently all four times (I actually think this belly looks more like Cecelia's than anything!) but I certainly don't think this baby is 5 pounds while my others were 7-8, you know? Just goes to show that my belly is definitely bigger in the evenings, or he's settled down lower as the day goes on.

It also goes to show that I'm a head case, in case you weren't already keenly aware of this fact. Yes, the end of pregnancy 'crazies' have entered. Watch out.

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I've also been a little bit obsessed with birth stories this past week, listening to The Birth Hour podcast every day, and looking up 'positive' stories online. I also watched The Business Of Being Born again, on Netflix, knowing that it really knocks hospital births and also features a birth go 'wrong', with a breech baby coming at 34 weeks and needing a C-section. That baby had a growth restriction, which is probably why I was concerned with that issue today, I guess. I've come to realize that no matter how many 'positive' birth stories I read/hear, there are still going to be scary things that happen along the way. One of the stories on the podcast was great, but even just having her mention that she knew of two full-term babies dying in utero 'from being overdue' was enough to make me panicky. Yes, horrible things can happen at the end of pregnancy, during birth, and immediately after...and beyond. But I still get to choose my thoughts and have to let go of the fears. Deep breaths.

Despite all of that mumbo jumbo, my Hypnobabies tracks have been super helpful and I really like the Fear Clearing Session the best, plus the Visualizing Your Birth track is amazing. It's still incredibly challenging to stay awake during the tracks but it is possible;) Aside from some heavy worries creeping into my mind, I'm mostly feeling super excited for labor and delivery. The sense of dread that arrives, knowing what I'm up against, hasn't hit me yet. Perspective can be a beautiful thing when it comes to motherhood---subsequent children have reaped the benefits of me being more laid back, more 'this too shall pass,' and less 'OMG, is it going to be this hard FOREVER?' But aside from perspective on motherhood, I now have perspective on birth itself. I haven't had 'bad' births by any means, but they have all been fairly riddled with anxiety and worries over what could go wrong. When the first killer contraction hit with subsequent labors, I vividly remember being like, 'Nope, I hate this, I cannot do it again.' This time I want to hold onto the perspective that I can and I will have to do it again. The intensity of labor will be a microsecond in the big picture of my life. Temporary and worth it.

I can't control how or when it all goes down but I can absolutely control my thoughts. I will tell myself that it's going to be a beautiful, peaceful, quick birth. And that I deserve that! It really is one of the most magical moments imaginable, isn't it? As mothers, we get to bring another human being into this world, from inside our bodies. It's seriously indescribable and gets me all emotional just thinking about it....yes, even the fourth time around. What a privilege. Man, it's hard to wrap my head around giving birth SO FREAKING SOON.

Veins are out of control.
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Anyway. OB appointment on Friday went well. Baby measures on track (but again, I'm wondering if the uterus measurement is really that accurate), I'm up two more pounds, BP is good, and I'm still 1cm dilated but now 70% effaced. Looking back at other pregnancies, I was totally closed and not effaced with Truman's induction, was closed but 50% effaced two days before Cecelia was born, and was 1.5-2 cm and 50% effaced with Porter the week before he was finally born. I wasn't even going to have her check me on Friday but figured, 'what the heck?'. Internals don't really bother me and I don't think it means much either way, but it's nice to know SOMETHING is happening down there.

Side note: I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about how I should do an excel spreadsheet comparing my four pregnancies in various categories. #Loser

This is how my belly looks when I wake up in the morning. CRAZY compact and lumpy, and yes I've been sleeping in a sports bra and shorts lately. I'm a heater, can't help it.
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We had a good discussion about induction this time: I told my OB I really want to avoid Pitocin if at all possible. She didn't bat an eye and said, 'Of course, that's not a problem, as long as you aren't more than one week overdue.' She said if I hit my due date we will discuss a date for induction a week later, and honestly---as much as I hate Pitocin, I think going past 41 weeks with my fourth baby sounds just as horrible;) I feel like if I DO surpass my due date, I could probably convince my OB to just break my water instead of using pit to start an induction. I mean, both breaking my water and starting Pitocin are game-changers for me. Once my water breaks (happened naturally, pretty early on in labor for both Truman and CC, my OB broke it for Porter at around 4cm) the contractions get crazy intense. And of course, Pitocin with both boys meant that the contractions were right on top of each other, very intense, and sometimes would piggy back without a break. If I have any shot of remaining calm, peaceful, and in control it has to be without Pitocin, it just has to! So I'm visualizing a birth similar to Cecelia: no pitocin needed, no artificial breaking of my waters, really pretty quick overall (I went from a 2-10cm in 3 hours). BUT, I want less anxiety and want to remain mentally in control the entire time, without the pivotal freak-out moment.

And as far as the epidural goes, the more I contemplate, the more I think I can probably convince myself to just forgo the wretched 'waiting' period from the time when I decide I need it and the time I actually get it. Not to mention sitting still while the anesthesiologist places the gigantic needle is THE WORST, and the last two of three epidurals I've had really did not help that much. I just read back over my birth stories for Cecelia and Porter and noted that by the time I got both of those epidurals, I was already at an 8cm and really didn't think they helped with pain management all that much. SO AGAIN, perhaps I can just skip the agonizing wait, sitting still, and then being disappointed by the continued pain of labor with an epidural and go without? The key here is time: if I can progress quickly, I have confidence I can just plow through without the drugs. If things are happening slowly (please, God, no!) then I know it will be really rough to stay focused.

Lots of rambling in this post already, huh? It's like a stream of consciousness, 100% focused on birth. Yay? Yikes.

This week at work I noticed myself wrapping things up, to prepare for maternity leave. I still plan to work until my due date (at least?) but it's nice to know that as I walk out of the building, everything is pretty much in order in case I'm not back there until October. Having typical thoughts about my water breaking at work (the horror!), or as I'm driving home for the day. It's wild to think I will be there maybe ten more days, max!

Nesting is in FULL FORCE this week. I am super proud to say that the basement is now officially organized and everything for the baby has been sorted/washed/set out and ready to go. The attic is also completely bare, ready for one more haul to the dumpster or recycling. I found a Mamaroo swing on Craigslist and picked it up this week, which is something that's been on my list since....forever? Really wish I didn't sell ours but I'm glad I found another one online;) The baby's adorable coming home outfit arrived, my mom sent me a new mother's necklace with all four names on it (!!) and my hospital bag is basically ready to go.

Taking it to the next level, I scrubbed our shower tile while listening to a podcast this week. I cleaned toilets and our kitchen sink, which I tend to label as 'semi-deep cleaning' and something that I definitely don't do every week. I'm definitely feeling like this baby cannot come home to a filthy house and also, I have a feeling my standards for what 'clean' really is will change vastly after this child arrives. It will have to change or I might go crazy, so might as well get everything up to par now while I can!

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ALSO, we officially broke ground on the house construction this week. We are now have two giant holes in the backyard with the beginnings of 'footings' for cement and soon-to-be support poles. Also a digger and a Bobcat are hanging out in our backyard, which means the kids are in heaven (one nearly three-year-old in particular). It's been fun to watch the transformation happen and we are pumped that it's finally a real thing: we are doing a big addition on our house! It's going to be wild and we cannot wait.

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Overall, I'd say that I'm feeling 'too good' for being 38 weeks pregnant. But I have great energy until about 5pm when I just cash out. Then my patience for the children's shenanigans is at an all time low. We are also just adjusting to their summer schedules and different dynamics now that all three are home, and it's been fine but a little bit brutal. The whining and the arguing and the lack of listening (all past 5pm, mind you) has me near my breaking point many evenings. Nate was gone for bedtime a few times this past week and so Saturday I declared I needed some mommy alone time. I got a manicure and pedicure all alone and it was glorious! I plan to do a pre-natal massage next weekend and really really want to chop off my hair, but I know my stylist will try to talk me out of it right now.

I've been eating ice cream almost every night and fully enjoying it, but otherwise food is pretty meh. Baby loves ice cream, though, and who am I to say 'no'? He's super active after I eat and mostly in the evenings, but I'm also having a lot more BH contractions throughout the day. Nothing painful but definitely noticeable several times every day. I'm thinking one of these evenings the BH will turn into the real deal and we will have a baby with us by morning, but I know it could theoretically happen during the day, too.

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My gut tells me I have a few more weeks of being pregnant and could very well be overdue again. I'm not sure why I think that, Nate is totally adamant that I won't go past my due date but we will see. I'm feeling all of the feels though, you guys. Truman is just ecstatic and keeps kissing my belly, saying he cannot wait to meet his baby brother, and is predicting that I will have him early just because he's so impatient to meet this kid. Cecelia is extra sensitive lately, too, saying she loves me and loves the baby, and can't wait to hold him. Porter has been sweet in his own way, speaking to my belly and asking if today is the day he's going to come out.

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We are soaking in as much family time as we can! It's such a special time in our lives and I know it's the calm before the storm in a way. I don't feel like I've hit the wall with this pregnancy and can't really let myself think about it being the LAST last time I'll feel a baby kicking inside of me. It's all so surreal and bittersweet, but mostly sweet;)

End of rambling! Longest weekly post ever.

37 weeks | Baby #4

Full term! WOAH!

Dressed up for our date night this past weekend, otherwise you know my hair would not be down/makeup on/black dress worn on a weekend. No way.
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I'm going to make this pretty short and sweet, and will likely forget a lot of extremely important information in the process. ;)

OB appointment went well, and I'm dilated 1cm and 50% effaced. So literally exactly where I was with Porter's pregnancy at this time and he was overdue and induced (means nothing). My OB still said, 'You can have this baby tomorrow now, you're full term!' She also noted my varicose veins in my groin and legs and assured me they should go away after the 'tumor' comes out. ;) Baby is head down, HR was 150, he's moving like a mad man and my bladder is barely hanging on these days. The pressure down there is insane and I've had several zingers to the cervix/groin that make my legs feel like they might collapse. Still with Braxton Hicks and I even downloaded a contraction timer app this week, when they were coming every 5 minutes for a solid hour. I stopped timing them because they were not painful and I feel like I'm not actually going to go early this time, and sure enough---they must have stopped because I'm still pregnant.

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I'm up 30 pounds but food is not my favorite anymore. I get full so freaking fast, but am craving all fruits and popsicles. I've been drinking a lot of water, La Croix, and even root beer this week to beat the heat and stay hydrated. Plus, I've been taking a daily nap whenever possible and I'm not mad about it. Reading back through old 37 week posts with the other kids makes me chuckle--I was all bent out of shape about NEEDING to nap 'three times per week' and still feeling tired. This time? Give me all of the naps, I do not care about losing productive time. It's the only option many days, even if it's just a 30 minute power nap!

Getting off the couch is becoming rather comical and if I drop something on the floor I prefer to pick it up with my monkey toes if at all possible. I'm not sleeping the best because I just can't seem to get comfortable, definitely have to pee at least once in the middle of the night, and because Porter still likes to wake up and screams for me for fun. I don't know anymore, I just cannot with him.

Non-materity tankini is probably going to be forever ruined but I don't have a lot of options for pool wear. I did wear a regular bikini once but the amount of veins on my very-white belly seemed offensive.
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Biggest accomplishment of the week is that we finally moved all of the bins and storage items from the attic to the basement, to get ready for the house renovation! This thrills me like nothing else because it's something I've wanted to do for about four months now but I just cannot carry all of the heavy items myself. Don't get me wrong, I've been putting in plenty of hours in the attic, organizing and purging and taking things to Goodwill. I even carried down four giant hanging wardrobes from the attic to the basement before proclaiming, 'THAT'S IT, NO MORE HEAVY LIFTING!' Nate and his dad made approximately 20304 trips up and down alllllllll of the flights of stairs in our house to help with this project, and now I just have a little more organizing to do in our storage area of the basement. YES.

Ugly pictures but must commemorate:
The attic now, basically empty compared to before!
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And the unfinished side of the basement now, busting at the seams but still organized. These are all kids' clothing bins. Absurd.
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Also, my mom and Memaw bought the baby quite a few new items on Amazon--diapers, sleepers, swaddles, a pacifier. He is SET and it's so much fun to wash and hang all of his stuff in Porter's closet! I even pulled out a bag and started throwing a few things into it as a 'hospital bag', creating a real list for items that need to be in there this week. I faxed the order for a new breast pump to a company and we have the co-sleeper folded up, but ready to go in our bedroom. All of this means one thing: we are having a baby SOON and we are almost ready for him to arrive. GAH!!!!

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Supposedly we are breaking ground on the house tomorrow, which is why we did the whole attic to basement purge this weekend. But also, we have a matter of weeks before this child comes no matter what and it's time to really focus on the to-do list, right? I've also decided that when we have a nursery to decorate in about six-ish months, I want to do a black and white and geometric print theme for our cool dude. My mom is requesting a theme so she can make him a quilt, like she's done for the other kids, and it's all going to come together so nicely....when we can actually decorate the new bedroom! I'm nesting in a big way over here and loving every second of it.

Also, we've just been having an awesome summer thus far. Splash pads...
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Ice cream dates...
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Water balloons...
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Sweetness between siblings...
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These two dudes went to the US Open and had a freaking ball;)
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The pool! .... we love it all!
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I kind of cannot believe I have a few weeks left at work. The more I think about it, the more I'm thinking I might just be done after my due date even if I haven't had the baby yet. My due date is a Saturday and I don't know that I'll really want to be at work that Monday morning if he's still cooking away. I'm doing great at work right now and am very thankful for the air conditioning, real bathroom, and comfy desk chair compared to treating patients out in the field. I'm feeling like I'm really hitting my groove with my new job, which is unfortunate since I'll be gone for 12 weeks. We will see if I can jump right back into it when I return, or what! My mom just bought plane tickets to arrive on my due date and leave on Porter's birthday, hoping to catch the birth and meet this little man as soon as he comes out...but of course we know that might not happen. I'm so excited for her to come though and hope the timing works out.

My focus this week has been on visualizing the birth, positive affirmations, and listening to my Hypnobabies tracks without falling asleep. It's so hard to stay awake but I managed to do it a few times. I'm really excited about this birth although it feels very abstract, like it's not actually going to happen in a few more weeks. But it is. I know it will. But it seems impossible.

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Favorite comment: "What is this, baby number one? Two? Three?" (Me: 'Keep going'). "OH WOW, number four? You look great for having four kids." What a back handed compliment, right? Like, 'I expected you to look very haggard and tired but you don't look too horrible, I guess.' I mean, I haven't birthed the fourth yet, so my haggard-ness is bound to come. I've had a few people say that I'm finally getting 'big' but most still say 'you are SO SMALL'. I'm really glad my uterus measures right on track at each appointment so that I can be assured other people's opinions on my belly don't mean a whole lot.

Nate and I celebrated our tenth anniversary a few weeks late this year. Tony and Lois took the kids for a sleepover while we went out to dinner, walked around downtown, and woke to a quiet house the next morning. We ate breakfast here, did some organizing, and then went out for coffee. An excellent way to spent our tenth anniversary, even if it wasn't fancy or wild. Plus, Fathers Day weekend with Nate and Tony, and texting my dad was also successful.

TEN YEARS, baby!! My how things have changed and truly, how much happier we are right now compared to our wedding day.
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So I'm full term, feeling quite pregnant but happy and content to keep him cooking awhile longer, and I'm in disbelief that I will have this baby in my arms really freaking soon. I'm going to miss pregnancy when it's over, guys. It's just so special to have him all to myself, to marvel at how my body knows how to grow this child, to feel (and watch!) him kicking from the inside, imaging who this little character will be on the outside. The anticipation is still quite magical at this point, and watching all three kids get so excited to meet their brother is something I'll never forget. I know I'm incredibly lucky to feel good at 37 weeks pregnant and I certainly hope that continues until the end!

And with that, I'll head into the week with a clear mind and gratefulness for all that we have in this life. Yes, end of pregnancy emotions are all over the place, it's true.

36 weeks | Baby #4

It's my golden week of pregnancy, when my weekly count matches my age. Hilarious to think that with Truman, week 28 was golden. Oh, how far we have come!

36 weeks, all four times: carrying differently every pregnancy!
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Also, surpassed the 'one month' mark this week. Four more weeks seems ridiculously soon, right??

My weekly OB appointments have begun, and yesterday was a good one. I'd been having a lot more Braxton Hicks all day before the appointment, even just sitting in my desk chair, so it was nice to have a check up and NOT go into labor after a strange 'practice contraction' day like that.

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I declined an internal exam because it's too early to get my mind set on any progress. Perhaps next week I'll cave? But baby boy measured well, heart rate was 152 and he was actively kicking the doppler the entire time. I lost two pounds somehow (?) which brings me back down to 28 total and my BP remains normal. Hallelujah!

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Also, I finally told my OB that I'm listening to the Hypnobabies tracks and she is 110% behind me here. I don't know why I was nervous to tell her that I'm trying to stay mentally prepared, to be focused with positive thoughts, so that I don't completely lose my sh*t during labor. I mean, she's had four kids of her own and three of those were without epidurals---so she's a pretty 'natural' OB and totally gets it. Also, she's delivered 2/3 of my kids so she knows that this certainly cannot hurt to try!

She said, 'I love it, I love that---I wish more of my patients would listen to those tracks!' And I reiterated that I'm not saying I *won't* get an epidural, but I despise that time frame between deciding I need an epidural and waiting for it to arrive/take affect. It's the WORST. If I can ride the waves and eliminate the fear and anxiety that comes with labor, remembering that every contraction brings me closer to holding my baby, I will be able to embrace this final labor and delivery for all that it's worth. In envisioning it happening quickly, peacefully, but it will no doubt be intense;)

Baby boy has dropped if my bladder has anything to say about it. I seriously think I pee nearly every hour now, which is absurd and annoying, but I'm also trying to force down the fluids more than ever with this summer heat wave we're experiencing. When I drink more, and have to pee more, it seems like I have more BH contractions, just because there is so much pressure down there! I can feel him punching my bladder and cervix and definitely feel the 'lightening' sensation that I can breathe easier and have more room up top now. Oh, and did I mention that I have some wicked varicose veins in my legs and groin this time around? Really hoping those go away after birth, some are pretty gnarly but not painful so I won't complain too much.

Still not feeling very hungry lately, but I'm trying to eat a lot of protein along with my massive fluid intake. Also, have discovered the best ice cream known to man: Ben and Jerry's 'The Tonight Dough'. I need you to stop what you are doing right now and seriously consider going to the store if you've never tried it. Nate introduced me to this flavor, as a true ice cream lover, and I have come around to the idea of having several bowls per week. SEVERAL. Because this stuff is mind blowing, for real, and I don't usually love ice cream like my husband does.

It's fun to see how different my belly looks in the morning versus the evening hours. When I wake up he's super high and pointy, just floating around and giving my bladder/cervix lots of space. Then by about 4pm he's a bowling ball between my legs. I can't stop rubbing my belly to feel various appendages jut out at me and he's an acrobat that prefers my belly button for a punching bag. We all love to watch the Belly Show and frequently discuss what type of little person he's going to be. The kids (ahem, Porter) also gave me their cold this week and now I feel like my sinuses are going to pop out of my cheek bones, but I'm definitely better than I was a few days ago. Being sick when very pregnant in the summer is the opposite of fun but I'm glad it wasn't anything too bad. And I'm very thankful for Kleenex but can't wait until I can take Ibuprofen again.

Porter has been randomly asking when the baby will come out, tells me that he loves his little brother, and wants to hold him. He also asked me when the baby will start talking and frequently refers to himself as a baby, but whatever. Cecelia and Truman love to feel my belly jump and are practically giddy when they talk about this baby being born. They both had their last day of school yesterday, so it's feeling even more real when we discuss this baby's birthday happening 'this summer'. It's summer! And it is going to happen pretty freaking soon!!

I will not cry, I will not cry. BUT COME ON.
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First day//last day. Bah!
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So proud of this guy, who will be in Second Grade in a blink.
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And this little lady rocked her first year of school, she's ready for Senior Kindergarten!
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As if that's not enough to get me right in the feels, Truman lost his seventh tooth this week. AND I helped the kids in his class put together a sweet 'thank you' book for their teacher, which made her cry when we gave it to her, which made EVERYONE cry.
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And this girl and I cannot get enough of popsicles, so there's that.
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I finally started working on my list of things to buy for this baby. It's nothing major, but I added a bunch of new sleepers (some with magnetic closures, what??), swaddle sacks, a new Wubbanub pacifier, some diapers, and Aden and Anais blankets to my Amazon cart the other day. ALSO, I felt the urge to treat this fourth baby to a 'real' going home outfit from Etsy. Personalized, freaking adorable baby onesie, leggings, and a hat? YES. Not his name but the real deal will announce it. Hopefully it arrives in time as it can take 3 weeks to ship!

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The other thing on my list is to figure out what breast pump to use, then order new parts and bottles and storage bags. I have two pumps right now, one Hygeia from 2010 (!) and one Medela from medical insurance with Porter. Both have seen better days and when looking into ordering new tubing and parts, I realized that I can probably get a brand new pump with my insurance again! So I'm going down that path this time and feeling like it's a major check mark to have a working breast pump and all of the supplies ready to go. Pretty sure I had my pump and all parts ready by 20 weeks in the past, but who is counting?

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Another boy will soon be a part of this crew. Sigh.
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So, I'm just hot and tired but not nearly as d-o-n-e as I was with Porter. Even with Cecelia, I was timing some concerning contractions at 36 weeks and was worried about her making an early appearance. I was navigating the waters of high blood pressure and intermittent bed rest with Truman, and I had no idea he would be in our arms just two weeks later.

All things considered, I'm hitting my golden week feeling grateful and really pretty good! I hope it continues and plan to enjoy this part of summer when baby is still on the inside;)

35 weeks | Baby #4

Grand old milestone: 35/35! Thirty-five weeks down, thirty-five more days to go. Since it's now June, I can officially say that I'm having a baby next month. Holy.Moly.

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Let me just tell you, I'm feeling every bit of 35 weeks all of a sudden. Baby boy has had a growth spurt, I gained almost 6 pounds in two weeks, my belly feels like it might actually explode, and the temps have risen from the 60s to 88 degrees as a high today. No, Gracias. Just no. Too hot. My toes are currently swollen and I was worried I couldn't get my ring off tonight. I'm tired because of all that plus solo parenting both days this weekend, while Nate was at a continuing education course.

Heat + 35 weeks pregnant + 3 existing children + absence of parenting partner = rather cranky mom, but proud to make it through in one piece!

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My belly is huge and heavy by the evening hours, it feels pretty light and airy in the mornings though. The top of my stomach where it meets with my ribs is still REALLY sensitive and feels stretched to capacity. The amount of veins on my stomach are astonishing and I keep looking for stretch marks, so far no dice but there's plenty of time! I also feel like he's really low all of a sudden, like my bladder is his favorite pillow that he constantly rams his head into over and over again. Peeing all of the time. Not comfortable to sit for very long, or stand for very long. Most comfortable laying on my side which is not the best daytime activity. ;)

Biggest boy, littlest boy :)
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I had an OB appointment on Friday where baby measured on track, my eyes bulged at the weight gain (but my doctor didn't even mention it), BP still good, and baby's heart rate was 149. I go every Friday until he is here which is seriously cray. She said she might check me next time at 36 weeks and I told her that I've been having a lot more Braxton Hicks (non painful) contractions. She said as long as there aren't more than six in an hour, it's probably okay but I still need to 'chill out' a little bit. I haven't timed anything but I'm pretty sure the tightening of my entire uterus does happen at least 4-5 times in an hour, regardless of what I'm doing (sitting at my desk!). She said after 37 weeks, it's not a big deal but I don't want to ignore signs of possible early labor when he'd be premature right now.

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So in two more weeks, I can let 'er rip? ;) My OB is very 'by the books' as you can see. I do NOT think I'm going to have the kid early, and these practice contractions happened with Porter even earlier than now and meant nothing. I'm still in the mindset of making it to the bitter end with this pregnancy but the summer heat wave does have me feeling a little more deflated, like OMG...can I really do this without passing out at 7pm every night?

I think I can, I think I can...

This weekend felt rather productive in the 'prepare for this baby' front. I finally went up into the attic, pulled down all of the NB and 0-3 month clothes, plus the swaddles, more crib sheets, Boppy pillow and covers and washed it allllllll. I folded it and put it in Porter's dresser, nicely arranged. Also, I went through the other dressers and closets in our bedrooms and did a huge purge. Officially putting sweaters away and paring down my own wardrobe into what truly works for this belly makes me very happy. And now I have a solid list of what baby boy actually NEEDS before he is born.

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Newborn diapers, new bottles, new pump parts, a few pacifiers, some velcro swaddles, a few NB and 0-3 zip up sleepers and we should really be set. That's not too bad, right? It was really fun to see what I kept for sentimental value with the boy baby clothes, and it seems like I did hold onto several key pieces. Like this 'favorite' sleeper of Truman's, which we bought when I was pregnant with him over seven years ago. HOW!!??

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Non-pregnancy news: we might break ground on the addition this week! Also, last week of school for our bigs, fastest school year ever. Hard to believe that I'm going to be at home, with a new baby and the three kids, during a big home renovation in a matter of WEEKS. But we are so excited for it all, this summer is going to be a memorable one!

I can't wait to sit outside (in the shade), with the baby on my chest, while watching the 3 big kids run around in the backyard (sidestepping nails and construction, but whatever).
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Headed into the final stretch, still in disbelief but I suppose it's feeling a little more real at the same time.


Cecelia is FIVE!

Our girl turned five over Memorial Day weekend, and it was a celebration that spanned a few weeks this time around. Today I want to complete the birthday tradition by writing all about our little lady, attempting to capture a personality bigger than words could ever describe. I'm going to do my best anyway!

Time flies when you're raising a tenacious daughter, yo.
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I love comparisons so much that I actually remembered to get this shot, yet again. The newborn picture still ranks up there as one of my all-time favorites, as it was the day we brought her home from the hospital and Nate caught that grin on camera somehow! My baby girl is growing up before our eyes, wahhhhhh!
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When people hear that I'm having our third boy and Cecelia will remain our only girl, many of them comment that she is so lucky to have three brothers to watch over her as she grows up. But honestly? Cecelia is the toughest of the bunch and I see her watching out for her brothers instead! I mean, she's going to have a heck of a time dating anybody in the future, because with three brothers and a dad to protect her, I don't think many guys will stand a chance;) But still, sister proves to be extremely independent, confident, and still quite strong-willed. She is simply one of a kind and being our only daughter, she really puts us through the emotional rollercoaster more than the boys do. Even Porter at age two doesn't hold a candle to Cecelia's range of emotions, which is saying a lot!

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Cecelia's feelings do get hurt if someone doesn't want to play with her, or if her brothers mess with her things. There is still a substantial amount of pouting and whining with her, but she's always been verbal enough to express her emotions. Sometimes she just needs reminding that we can talk about our feelings instead of stomping off in a huff, pouting while tripping over a lower lip. Also, she is sort of a bear in the mornings and right before bed, which is also when she tends to get a severe injury (i.e. paper cut, bumped knee) that will cause major tears. So yes, she is tough, except when she just isn't. ;) It's much, much, MUCH better than age three though and I have high hopes for age five being her best year ever.

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The biggest thing that's happened this year for our girl is starting Junior Kindergarten. She goes to the same school as Truman all five days per week, for about 2.5 hours each day. Cecelia has seriously blown us away in school this year, showing us that she is freaking smart, incredibly kind to others, includes new friends in her play, listens well to authority, and understands/follows the rules. I'm not sure why we always thought, 'Yeah, Truman loves school and his teachers love him....but just wait until they experience Cecelia!' We just assumed that she would be more of a wild child in school and possibly more difficult to teach, but we were wrong on that guess. Her teachers love Cecelia and sing her praises for being a great kid (which we already knew, but it's always nice to have that fact confirmed).

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CC can now write her name and has even started sounding out some words on paper, stringing together the first sentences. Drawing is Cecelia's favorite hobby, and our house is proof of this skill with hundreds of post-it notes and scrap papers full of stick figures, hearts, letters, and sweet Cecelia-artwork. I love when she runs up to me, multiple times every day, saying, 'this is for you, mom, it's a picture of us together playing.' Her stick people have gained details and I think her favorite thing to draw must be our family. She'll also go to town with coloring books and has a passion for glitter pens (all things that sparkle, really), so right now she's been drawing with those pens instead of my favorite thin sharpie markers that she used to steal from me all of the time.

She can be a teacher, but is the teacher peeing and pooping? Probably.
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She REALLY loved our family trip to Chicago over spring break, here is a picture of CC and I sharing our bed together in the hotel room
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SUPER into fingernails on her stick figures...
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Besides drawing, writing, and coloring, Cecelia is actually learning to read a little bit! Most of the words she recognizes are by sight but she has definitely sounded out a few words with minimal help from us. Her teacher sends home 'bag books' that we read together, with Cecelia pointing to the pictures first, then pointing to each word, and then piecing it all together. This boggles my mind and makes us so proud.

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Cecelia is obsessed with being outside and now that our weather is finally changing for the best, you can find her digging in the dirt for worms and bugs. Yes, this girl is a tomboy when it comes to getting dirty, grabbing slugs and nightcrawlers, and especially rollie polies. We have a collection of random cups full of dirt and (usually dead) bugs that will sit right outside of our back door, welcoming all of our guests with the aftermath of Cecelia's digging escapades.

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Daddy's girl as much as she is mommy's little lady.
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But for as tough and dirty as this little lady can get, she is still quite girlie. She adores all stick-on jewels, glitter, stick-on earrings, necklaces, tiaras, dress up princess outfits, skirts that twirl, and getting her nails done with me. ;) We've gotten a few 'pedicures' together and it's seriously so much fun to pamper ourselves every now and then. She is incredibly obsessed with Shopkins lately, and I still don't really understand their purpose....other than to drive mothers crazy by getting lost all over the house because they are SO SMALL and strange. Also, baby dolls are still her jam, and she's started getting into legos. Well, she makes Truman build her some lego creations so that her Shopkins have houses and beds. Her previous obsession with chapsticks seems to be dwindling now, replaced only by the absurd number of Shopkins in this house.

Oh, we know.
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That one time I agreed to hand write all of her Shopkins onto a master list...
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She's also super close to riding her bike without training wheels and I'm sure by the end of this summer she will be rolling on two wheels. This is about a year earlier than Truman's accomplishment of ditching the training wheels! She is also amazing on the monkey bars and has upper body strength that surpasses mine in a heartbeat. Again, pretty sure Truman couldn't do monkey bars for another year or two but this little lady does not play around with monkey bars. She took a gymnastics class for several weeks in the fall, and then a weekly dance class from September through April. Both of these classes were a hit for our girl but she loved dance most of all. I mean, she's pretty long and lean so it was a little harder for her to whip that stringy body around on a bar, but it was more her style to do ballet and tap.

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Speaking of the superficial, Cecelia is shockingly tall and thin (or maybe not so shockingly so);) I don't have official stats but she can wear a 5T or sometimes an XS in tops, fitted bottoms will be too short if 4T but to baggy if larger. Her feet are a size 12 already which is sort of gargantuan. And she is officially 39.3 pounds and SO CLOSE to hitting that 40# recommendation for a booster seat! Life will be much easier with a booster because the five point harness is super annoying for her, since the straps always hurt her (tall) shoulders.

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She remains our best eater and will happily down salmon, burgers, spinach salads, carrots, eggs, and trail mix. Lots of protein for our girl! Her favorite meal is probably butter noodles and sometimes she turns up her nose at things like cheese pizza and chicken nuggets, like her five year old palate is beyond the usual kid stuff. Cecelia also hates raisins in things randomly, so oatmeal or some granola bars are just OUT. She will always, always, always, ask me to share my can of La Croix, will always ask for more butter on her bread, and has a wicked sweet tooth shared by all in this family. We have recently discovered our love for baking together, and we prefer to stick to cookies, banana breads, brownies, and cupcakes. She's the best little helper with this, although her brothers will happily lick our batter if we let them.

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I cut Cecelia's long, curly hair earlier this year when it became extremely difficult to manage. She actually asked me to cut her hair for several weeks and finally one night we just went for it in the bathtub. She was SO EXCITED to have shorter hair and I'm in awe with how fast it's already grown. It's so much easier to comb through now that it's shorter and luckily the curls didn't disappear as everyone warned. We still have to do a lot of hairline braids to keep her hair out of her face, but headbands and ponytails also work for this lady.

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Cecelia sleeps really well at night, still sharing a room with Truman on his bottom bunk. We've talked a lot about her having her own room once our addition is done and it's pretty exciting to think about containing all of her art supplies within her own room, storing her own books in there, and possibly painting her walls pink with lots of girlie touches. She's trying to convince me that her entire room must be decorated with Shopkins and I'm holding strong with the idea of pink walls but no cartoon characters;)

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Bedtime is usually around 7:30-8 and she doesn't have a problem sleeping until 7am, when the kids can watch their digital clock and exit their rooms if they are awake. She goes hard all day and definitely does not nap anymore. I've shared a bed with her a few times when we travel and she's just the best bed buddy---she curls up and barely moves all night long, unlike both of her brothers that prefer to thrash about all night long.

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Cecelia's relationship with her brothers is something else entirely. She and Truman can be best of friends, happily drawing together, running around on the playground together, or giggling about some inside joke. It's been so sweet to see them walking to school together and I love hearing about how they see each other during the school day, and reportedly they always wave and acknowledge their sibling. OR they can be pushing each other's buttons like none other, and it's usually Cecelia who ends up in tear over these battles of wills. I'd say she and her big brother get along 80% of the time though, and I love that Truman is so compassionate towards his little sister and hope it continues indefinitely.

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Then there's the relationship between Cecelia and Porter, where she gets to call the shots and be 'mother hen' to her little brother. He eats it up, most of the time, and I will catch her literally telling him what to say, word-by-word, as they play. And he does it!! Example: "Porter, say, 'Don't go into that room, Thomas!!'" (Without hesitation he will repeat her) "' Don't go into that room, Thomas!'"

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He calls her 'grandma' more often than not because they have some weird game where she's his grandma and he has to do as she says. They actually have a language all of their own, because I realized the other day they were calling dandelions 'pooty poos' as if the two terms were interchangeable. Porter WILL push the limits with 'grandma' though, and she gets super frustrated with him if he's not willing to follow her lead. But she adores Porter, and many times she requests to read to him, tuck him in at night, and will give him kisses as we do his bedtime routine together. She's an excellent little mommy and I know she will be a wonderful helper with her next baby brother!

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She still wants to be a fairy when she grows up and hopes to grow her wings very soon. During her yearly birthday interview (below) she mentions this. I love her innocence and don't ever want to tell her that she can't actually be a fairy, nor can she grow wings. Anything is possible?

Her first 'friends' birthday party was this year and we had it at Michaels Arts and Crafts. It was the 'pretty princess' theme, lead by a staff member (not by me!), where they did three crafts as a group. It was pretty hilarious and she freaking loved it. I made her a Shopkins cake, as requested, and both the cake itself and the frosting had to be pink. Her actual birthday was spent with donuts, the day after included presents from her family and store-bought Shopkins cupcakes, and the first day back to school after the holiday weekend included brownies as her school treat for her friends. She really benefitted from us spreading out her special day across several weeks this year!

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I'll wrap it up here, with her birthday interview at the end of this post. But I will just say this: Cecelia is still our cherished rainbow baby, full of so much potential and so much sassy sweetness. I can barely remember a day before Cecelia was on this earth and we are so grateful she's ours. We so enjoy watching her grow and can't wait to see what is in store for this special human being.

Love you, little lady.
xo
Mommy

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