Monday, July 30, 2018

The First Half

I don't think there's any doubting that I love pregnancy and childbirth.  I mean, of course, not all of it, but most of it!  This time around, I wanted to document the days more, in the event that it's my last...because I don't want to forget.  But, here I am at 22 weeks, and this is basically my first post.  Good intentions.  Bad follow through.

I don't want to forget...

...the emotions that come with seeing that faint, faint line.  This time around, I was in our guest bathroom, cleaning up remnants of our third round of a stomach bug (while my husband was in another room, sick), and I thought, what the heck, "why not take a test?"  The previous months had contained more than one chemical pregnancy, so while I was anxious to see that second line, I also was leery of it.  Would it stick this time?  Would it fade away again?  It was darker than that last time, so I had hope!  Three days later, I told Jeremy.

...the back and forth between being so excited and my pants quickly not fitting.  I know, I know.  This is vain.  But, with every pregnancy, regardless of how in or out of shape I've been before, I show a little earlier and get bigger faster.  While, I wouldn't trade any of it for the miracle of another life, the thickness that every single part of my body becomes sometimes gets to me (especially when I know I shouldn't have eaten the Oreos, ha).

...that after about two weeks of knowing I'm carrying a new life, I quickly wonder what I was thinking.  It's so easy to forget about the nausea, food aversions, and just general feeling of yuckiness when you're not in it, but when you are in it, man the minutes creep by!  This time was more difficult than others.  My girl pregnancies have always been, but I was so worried at first that something was wrong. 

...that while I feel huge now, I will look back to this week in a a few weeks and laugh at that feeling.

...the first kicks.  How amazing it is to know they're from teeny tiny life inside...and how much I forget to appreciate that at night when I'm trying to sleep and he/she is trying to do anything but that.

...the beauty of seeing what God created a woman's body to everything stretches and transforms to house this babe, and as frustrated as I get with myself for not looking a certain way, exercising enough or eating right, it's difficult not to walk past a mirror and simultaneously thank God for the blessing.

So, for the next eighteen or so weeks, hopefully I'll document a bit more, remember to count it all a blessing and dream of who this little one will be.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

All Hands on Deck

When we get to brand our new calves in the Spring, everyone wants to help!  I mean, Jeremy and my parents by this point have branded hundreds, but for the few we keep near our house, the kiddos count down the days.

Everyone has a job.  But, I would be lying if I said they didn't also look forward to sitting on the tailgate and eating as many mini Snickers bars as they can, washed down by their Gatorade.  Branding is hard work, you know!

This year, they even rode a bit more.  This is my mom's orphan horse she raised from birth, so you can imagine how close she is to him.  Well, John Paul was pretty upset afterwards when she wouldn't trade him for a piece of candy.  The nerve!
This one is always observing.

So it begins.

 One helped hold.  Another helped brand.  And, another sprayed the Iodine.

My mom has always been the brander, and there isn't anyone better!

Who would have ever thought that when we moved here, this guy had never ridden a horse?!

No drama here.
This one is afraid of every dog she sees...but a giant horse, no big deal.

It's a season of a lot of work for weeks.  I know it's much harder on the ones doing it all than it is on me, but for the few hours we all get to help brand our own, it's magical.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Oh To Be So Bold

I read a book last year, and there were times it was difficult for me to do so.  Aren't the ones that hit close to home always a bit of a gut check?!  Its contents are all in its title, Unoffendable, and I soon realized that there are certain things in my life that make me more defensive than others.  Father Mike Schmitz said there is an easy remedy to being offended.  You can ask yourself a what people are saying about you true?  If it is true, than you really have no reason to be offended.  If it isn't, you don't have a reason either.  Simple, right?


But others, I've realized I'm too sensitive.  I care if I hurt people's feelings.  I care when they hurt mine.  Yet, I try and try to be different...more detached.

Again, sometimes it works.  Sometimes it doesn't.

Fast forward to the point...I just returned from one of the most wonderful vacations with my in-laws ever.  We spent a week on the beach in Florida, and from the sugar-like sand to the unreal color of the water and delicious food, it was perfection...something we had looked forward to for months!

But, before we even landed in the Sunshine State, the comments about the size of my family were rolling in.  And, I've decided, that it's time for me to be a bit more bold.  If others are so forthcoming in their concerns about the soon-to-be seven little people who have nothing to do with them, then maybe it is time their mother stood up a bit more when their existence is deemed a mistake.

Typically I smile and give a little laugh, deep down hurting and yet wanting to make these people understand just how much I love my big family.  But, then I envision those days in college when some of my Protestant friends drilled me on my Catholic faith over and over again to the point that I realized the frustration with not being able to convey why I loved my faith to the point that they may love it, too, usually just resulted in hard feelings and an evening that was anything but fruitful.  So instead, I try to live my life and let its message speak for itself.  Sometimes it does.  And again, other times it doesn't.

So here I am now with a few things to say.

For the person who counts my children loudly while rolling his eyes...I have six.  And, another coming.  And, I might have more later.  I am not sorry for that.  I am only sorry you cannot see the beauty in each human life.

For the man who wanted to give my husband the contact name for his urologist...that is never happening.  He isn't broken, and therefore does not need fixing.

For those worried that I might not remember I have six other children who need a mommy when I announce a seventh coming...being their mommy is what I do, all day long, every day.  I love it, even on the hard days (and there are some really hard ones).  I am healthy, and no I don't know what each day will bring or if a pregnancy will result in a tragedy.  But, none of us do.  So, I will remain open to the will of Someone who is in much greater control of that than I'll ever be.

For the people and their exasperated, "My God!(s)" (sorry, don't know how to annotate that), yes, He is my God, too, and He gave us each of these miracles.  And, with the follow up, "Bless your heart!(s)" -- my heart is is a pretty great place right now.

For those who tell me that it's time to do a little planning, I'm getting a little out of my comfort zone here since you seemed to as well...each one of these seven (and the two lost) were planned, down to the day.  Yes, we know what causes it.  We do have a TV.  We are about as responsible as they come.  And, maybe we plan to a fault.  Maybe a little spontaneity would be good for us....but there again, it may result in something that you apparently think isn't good for you.  So, we'll hold off on that for a bit.

For the friend who called my other friend to engage in a talk of how I might have lost my mind...maybe I have, but I wouldn't have it any other way.  And if you ever want to ask me why we choose to do life this way, I'd be happy to visit.

Honestly, for anyone who decides to crack a joke at our expense (really, is there such thing as "just joking" - or is it always simply an easy way to say what you want to say without bearing the burden of hurting the brunt of the so-called joke)...don't.

Why the comments?  Why the questioning?  Why do you care so much about a family that isn't even your own?  Truly, I would like to know.

We have never asked for help raising these kids.  We've never asked for financial support.  We have not brought seven children into the world to affect anyone else.

Wait, we have.

I have been pregnant over four years and have spent the last eight raising these little gifts in hopes of changing the world.  I want them to be a shining example of life in a culture that often sees theirs as a mistake.  I want the world to see the looks on these babies' faces when a new sibling of theirs comes home from the hospital.  I want those of you who suggest the multiple fixes for their parents' "behavior" to see that there is not a thing that needs fixing.

In being open to life, we are maybe "giving up" what you deem to be a successful life.   But, maybe that definition of success is where everything went wrong.

This last week in Florida may be the only vacation we ever take of its kind.  Because while we love escaping to a new place just as much as anyone else, the truth is...we may not be able to afford it because of all of these kiddos.  We may never meet Mickey in person.  Our kids may not receive the latest gadgets every year from the man in the red suit.  They may not graduate from college or trade school debt-free.  But what if they don't even go?  What if I told you the memories they make with each other, the support they have from six more siblings, and the state of their souls (and ours!) is far more important?  Or what about this...that with each new addition, they are learning to be less demanding, less selfish, and more thankful for the true gifts in this life?

You might not believe it.

We may not have it all.  But, what if we do?

Yes it is difficult.  In fact, raising children is the most difficult thing I have ever done and will ever do (and I've had a doozy or two of a boss in my life).  Their lives right now are completely dependent on me and my husband.  The way we raise them and the examples we set for them form their foundation.  And our goal?  Not to make your life easier by not having to see this crazy family over-populating the Earth (by the way, that's wrong, too), but instead, to do everything in our power to point back and eventually get back to Him.

I know just what a challenge that is.  And, truthfully, I fail miserably at it daily.  But, really, that is all I should care about.

I must work on that.

Because while I wonder why I let this bother me so much at times, deep down I think I know...I would never say something like that to you.  I don't offer my opinion on what might make a stranger's failing marriage work.  I don't scoff at the person who has no children because I think I know better what is good for them.  I don't know what each of you is dealing with daily.  And, frankly, you don't know that about me either.

So, why not build each other up and draw people back into the beauty that can be life?

This is us.  Almost seven now.  Maybe more later.  And, I won't let the world convince them that they are mistakes.  Ever.

Please don't try to do so either.*

*For those of you who have been so very kind about our family, thank you.  I cannot tell you what it does for my soul.  I don't expect those compliments, ever, and that's not why I'm raising these babies either.  But they sure do make the jokes easier to bear.