We're only four weeks away from holding our baby boy in our arms. My last pregnancy update before he arrives!
For the first time in 10 years through 6 healthy pregnancies, I finally had maternity photos taken! Barring some divine intervention, I am certain this is the last time I will be pregnant, and so marks the end of a 10 year season of growing babies in my body and nurturing them with my body.
It has been the most amazing season of my life - so I wanted to be sure I had some photos to document it. I hired our favorite photographer (check her out at Brooke Steinicke Photography or on Instagram) and she came over to the house and created this magic.
My journey to motherhood had a rocky start, with unexplained infertility and two miscarriages (one of twins) between Bethany and Gabe. The desire of my heart was to have a large family - and through trials God taught me to trust him and provided beyond my wildest dreams. I often have to pinch myself to make sure it's all real - raising these amazing kids with the man that I love - and I am grateful every day for our life together.
I can't wait to hold our baby boy in our arms. To watch his siblings meet him & fall in love, and to have our family complete. I have an overwhelming peace about ending this season and entering a new one - which I believe is a complete and total gift from the Lord. I was concerned I would never "feel done" like so many women do, because I love the baby phase. But now I feel it, I understand and am grateful. So, I'll give one last pregnancy update before this little guy arrives!
Feeling so great
I am feeling so much better during this pregnancy than I did with pregnancies 4 and 5. At my most recent appointment I even told my OB that I felt way too good to be 36 weeks pregnant! LOL! I have felt next to no pain or discomfort, and many of the symptoms that emerged in previous pregnancies have not caught up to me yet (most notably round ligament pain and painful varicose veins in unpleasant places). My nausea lasted only 13 weeks instead of 20, and I just feel so grateful that it has been such a smooth 9 months.
I've gained about the same amount of weight that I have during every pregnancy - and I feel healthy and strong. I am even sleeping through the night (which usually by now I am not)! The most difficult daily activity for me is walking up and down the stairs! haha!
I've tried to be very intentional about limiting how much I lift my other kids (mostly Keilah) and Bethany has been the most amazing little helper in that area. She is so sweet and will bring Keilah downstairs, lift her into the high chair and car seat, etc. I really think being more cautious in that area has helped me feel so good for so long - plus just the gift of a good pregnancy from the Lord.
I am so so nervous about giving birth this time around. Every time I talk about it with Ritch I get that feeling in my stomach that you get before a big race (know what I mean)? Even Ritch remarked that I mention how nervous I am much more often than in previous pregnancies. I don't really know why - but talking about it makes me feel a little better. My OB is the best doctor in the world, and I mentioned it to her and she took some time to chat through it with me. Maybe it's just because I've had 5 natural, wonderful births I'm afraid it's "my turn" for a really difficult one? Or maybe it's just because I'm not 25 anymore? 😉
I just keep having flashbacks to my other births. Nothing dramatic, just the intensity of labor, pushing, etc. The moment when the baby is being born is the most nerve-wracking (in my opinion) and I've relived all 5 of those moments many times. I remember when it was go-time with Mara my OB walked in and asked how I was doing, I just replied, "I'm scared!"
My doctor repeatedly reminds me that the best predictor of future success when it comes to your health is past performance. She said that since I've had 5 wonderful births I shouldn't expect anything different this time around. I do relax when I think about being in her hands - because I trust her wholeheartedly and know that no matter what happens she is the best doctor I could ask for!
So for now we just pray every day for a healthy baby and smooth delivery. Sweet Keilah makes sure we don't forget it too! Before every meal the kids shout out prayer requests and Keilah always smiles and yells, "BABY!"
Preparing for labor
My philosophy is that you "prepare for labor" your entire pregnancy. Staying active, nourishing your body with healthy foods, and getting as much rest as you can all help prepare you for bringing your sweet baby into this world.
However, around 35 weeks I start preparing my body for labor in a few very intentional ways that are best when done towards the end of pregnancy. I drink copious amounts of raspberry leaf tea and take evening primrose oil. I also eat dates (in the form of these date energy balls).
Research shows that these things help reduce labor time and the need for interventions by toning and strengthening the uterus and encouraging cervical softening/dilation - so I figure why not give them a whirl.
I'm a huge advocate for exercising up until the very end of pregnancy. At this stage for me it means mostly long walks and modified workout videos (Fitness blender is my favorite). Giving birth is the most intense physical experience you will ever have in your life - "training" for it by exercising helps the process go smoothly.
Truth be told, I never took a birthing class. I just read this book: Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way and have had 5 wonderful, natural labors (and hoping for #6)! I heed the advice of working with your body instead of against it. Don't resist hard contractions and tense up - they are what bring your baby into the world. I tell myself I can do anything for 24 (or 36, or 48) hours and prepare myself for the beauty and difficulty of birth mentally more than anything else.
That being said, it’s important to remember that the ultimate goal of labor and delivery is a healthy baby and a healthy mom (not a specific type of delivery). As long as those two things happen nothing else matters. However, you need to have an idea of how you'd wish to approach birth in an ideal scenario - and be open to change as things progress.
The last month or so of pregnancy I notice a huge shift in the types of foods I want to eat. My stomach is unsettled due to the return of nausea (which I think is due to nerves and hormonal shifts) so I mostly crave bland carbs - kind of like in the first trimester. Lots of fresh bread, oatmeal, etc. My ice cream cravings have subsided and been replaced by protein-style burgers and cheese fries! Which I've indulged in once or twice.
One reason I am excited to be having a boy is that Ritch and I have a handful of boy names we love. We think we have narrowed it down to one - but like to keep it to ourselves until our baby is born!
I went for it and decided to decorate our baby boy's nursery. I went with a woodland/mountain theme and so far I LOVE it. Still waiting on a few things to arrive, but I'm excited! I will definitely share some photos on Instagram and in my January moments post once it's completed.
I've been organizing and purging various closets in our house which always feels so great. I washed and put away the first round of baby boy clothes (yay) and packed my hospital bag! Don't forget to check out my baby registry list. I've kept it up to date and revamped it during this pregnancy!
I've purchased a few new items for my last trip down baby lane. I got this Uppa Baby Car Seat from a friend, and she found the stroller it clicks into (Uppa Baby Cruz) on a yard sale page for $25!!! I cleaned all the pieces and it looks totally brand new. I am so crazy excited after using a sub-par carseat for my last 5 babies (which I threw away after Keilah because I was so done with it haha).
I also bought a new glider/rocker that is significantly more comfortable, and a whole bunch of fresh baby boy clothes - because Gabe was born in the summer and this baby is going to be born in the dead of winter! LOL!
In my hospital bag
I take a pretty minimalistic approach to our visit to the hospital. We try to stay for only 24 hours - and leave as soon as they'll release us. I don't care much what I look like (bring on the hospital gowns hahaha) and only pack the essentials. My list of “necessities” is not long or involved. After having 5 kids I have learned what I need, what I always forget (contact solution). So here’s the list of what is currently in my bag (that is packed and ready to go), in case it’s helpful for you!
- Belly Bandit- I have worn my belly bandit for a solid month after giving birth to each of my babies. I put it on as soon as I get transferred from labor and delivery and wear it nonstop for weeks. It helps hold everything in and gives great back support.
- Toiletries. I always take a shower before we head home, and I can’t sleep without washing my face. So I pack face care products, shampoo, conditioner, contact case & solution, and deodorant.
- Clothes for baby. I like to bring an outfit or two for the baby - and definitely one to bring him home in.
- Phone Charger. Just in case!
- Glasses. Self-explanatory!
- Pajamas/change of clothes. I typically stay in the hospital garb (disposable sock slippers and all) until the bleeding reduces and I get to shower (because I don’t want to ruin my clothes)! But I like to bring something warm to wear and a change of clothes to wear home.
- Camera. I pack my DSLR just in case I have a minute to take some pics (or Ritch).
- Snacks. For whatever reason, nothing tastes better to me than the crummy turkey sandwich from the hospital cafeteria after giving birth! LOL! However, I do like to have some snacks (and chocolate) in my bag just in case.
- Gifts for my other kids. Ever since we brought Gabe home, we've made sure to have gifts "from the new baby" to the other kids. It's always candy (haha) and we come home and tell the kids that their new sibling picked out their favorite treat to say, "Hi, nice to meet you!" 😉
My other kids
About 3 weeks before my due date I start preparing my kids for what to expect when I go into labor. Obviously K has no idea what's really going on, but we remind our other kids that most likely, one morning they will wake up and Mommy and Daddy won't be here (I've always gone into labor in the night). Someone else will be watching them (most likely my mom - who will fly in to stay for a while shortly before my due date) and we explain that they need to be extra good for that person! This time they won't be able to visit the hospital - but we always FaceTime them as soon as we can post-delivery.
Sweet Keilah has no idea how much this little guy is going to rock her world. She does the cutest thing, and it goes like this: She points to my belly and says, "Hold it, baby." And I say, "You can hold the baby when he is born, but for now he has to stay inside my belly." And then she says, "Open!" and when I say no she asks, "Why?"
I explain that he still needs to grow, but that he'll be born soon. Then she declares, "Hold it, baby, snack." She is set on giving him a snack when he is born! LOL!
Bethany's birthday is the day after my due date, so we're both hoping that he is born a few days early to avoid them having to share a birthday. We could tell him his birthday is a different day for years before he needs to know the truth - hahaha - but we like to make their birthdays special and I'd prefer that they each have their own day!
She turns 10 this year, which means it's her first year having a friend birthday party. I'm nervous to plan something so close to my due date, but we're having it as soon as we can after the holidays so it's very likely it'll be too early for me to go into labor. B is a rockstar when it comes to the babies. She loves holding them so much and I know she's going to be an amazing big sister to this little guy.
Gabe has come around and seems excited to welcome another boy into the family. He's sick of having to be the dog when the girls play house - HAHA - and is looking forward to having a brother to wrestle and fight with (eventually). He is such a sweet and tender-hearted boy, I know he's going to love his brother so much.
One Sunday, in church, Gabe was sitting next to me and saw the baby kick and my belly move. He thought it was so cool and still talks about it. I think that made it real for him.
Mara & Naomi
These two will be the most unaffected by the change of a new baby. They're still young enough where they will be excited to hold him, but not care too much. Naomi loves touching my belly and feeling him move around, and she probably talks to him more than any of the other kids.
Like I said before, I'm nervous about labor and delivery. But I know it will come and go, we'll hold our sweet baby boy in our arms and all will be forgotten (hence, why we have 6 kids LOL)!
I am also struggling with wondering how I will love another baby as much as I love these 5. I'm already outnumbered and feel like I don't have enough hours in a day to show them just how supremely loved they all are - and now adding another one to the mix who will consume a lot of my energy is a little scary. However I've had these feelings every time - and the second I hold my baby in my arms and watch the other kids embrace him I am 10000% certain all those fears will be washed away and we will wonder how we ever felt whole as a family without him.
I feel excited and nervous about meeting him. Will he be a chill baby (yes Lord, let it be so LOL), or give us a run for our money like Gabe did? Will he look like Gabe or more like one of his sisters?
I forgot what it's like to have a baby BOY - since my most recent three sweet babies have been girls. And while I'm so excited to add another boy to our family, I am feeling so many emotions about not having any more sweet baby girls. I love the pretty dresses, bows, hair put up into a sprout, etc. etc. I recently just went through a bunch of baby girl clothes that Keilah grew out of and had a good cry. Four of my kids have worn some of these items, and they elicit so many wonderful memories. I've started a "save forever" bin of baby stuff (that I've told myself I will keep to one bin only haha) and organized the rest so I can hopefully give it to a new momma in our church who has their first baby girl.
I know the next few weeks are going to fly by with Christmas and New Year's and Bethany's birthday party...and then poof we'll be in the "any day now" phase of pregnancy as we await his arrival. So I'm just trying to soak in these last 4 weeks and enjoy them to the fullest.
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