Welcome Baby Alice!

Alice Jayne Wiscombe
February 21, 2017; 12:13am
7lbs, 7oz; 21.5″

It’s been a week now since baby Alice joined our family and this 8 kids thing is no joke!  I think it’ll take a few weeks before I start figuring out how to balance the basics of mothering this brood, getting essential homeschool stuff done, digging my house out from under the mess and blogging.

With each baby comes the necessity of streamlining tasks, rebalancing priorities and relegating the unessential to the sideline.  It’s HARD, I already know this.  In my perfectly controlled world, I’d give my housework as much attention as my own self care but sometimes you just have to focus on the very essentials: feeding yourself and your kids, giving them love and making sure you stay sane.  Everything else can learn to wait.

If you caught my FB Live video about Alice’s birth then you already know the drama behind her big world entry!  Birth never ceases to amaze me, and as much as I’ve loved my peaceful, uncomplicated home births, I can very acutely see God’s hand in the others as well, and this birth was no exception.

My technical “due date” was February 9th, but I always go late so I wasn’t terribly surprised when 41 weeks came and went.  The whole weekend before she was born, I was in really easy early labor and even went to bed with some strong regular contractions once or twice, but they always went away sometime during the night.  By Monday (President’s Day) I was getting really frustrated and was tired of being pregnant.  It was also Luke’s last day home before the start of a new week and I just didn’t have the energy to take care of kids by myself the next day.

I decided to take castor oil that morning (despite hating it the last time I took it!  Desperate times…) and it started working several hours after that.  At about 4pm, Luke and I decided to go for a walk around the neighborhood to get things moving.  I only made it about 100 yards from my front door, however, before I felt a gush of fluid.  I was hoping it was amniotic fluid but when I looked down, I realized it was bright red blood.

My midwife suggested we go to OB triage at the hospital to get checked out and after hours of waiting around (and a reassuring peek at a healthy, happy baby), we finally got to see a doctor.  I’d never seen this OB before but I immediately liked him.  Even after I experienced more bleeding in traige, he said that they still weren’t sure what it was but that he’d work with me on getting the birth I wanted.

At this point I really didn’t feel good about going home (and neither did my midwife who assured me that if the bleeding continued, we’d just end up right back at the hospital) and so I chose to stay and be gently induced in order to keep an eye on the bleeding and the baby.

We used a combination of a foley bulb and breaking my bag of waters to get things going. All this time, we continued to see bleeding and finally surmised that there was probably a placental abruption going on (in other words, the placenta was starting to pull away from the uterine wall).  The dangers of this are twofold: excessive bleeding for mom and the potential loss of oxygen to the baby.  We talked briefly about a c-section, but given my history of a past cesarean and all those VBACS, we decided to try everything we could to avoid surgery.  The OB said that as long as baby’s heartbeat looked good, we’d be OK in continuing with a vaginal delivery.

Once my water broke, however, things started moving fast.  The bleeding kept coming and my contractions got really hard.  Within about a half hour I was really working through labor, and during one particularly intense contraction, things got really weird.  My midwife said the baby’s heartrate dropped really low and they moved me onto my side.  Right then there was a HUGE gush of blood, I started to feel weak, and my vision went snowy…I didn’t even really have the mental capacity to work out what was happening, but my blood pressure had plummeted (at one point it was down to 55/25!).  I lost consciousness briefly but they gave me some O2 and I came back pretty quickly.  I clung to that oxygen like crazy, because it was the only thing that made me feel like I wasn’t going to die!

Another 15 minutes or so of contractions and I started feeling “pushy”.   I got on my hands and knees and let myself start pushing her down; then once I felt baby’s head crowning I just went crazy pushing because I knew I didn’t have the energy for more than one push!  After just a few moments, out she came, bright red and wailing like crazy.

They started cleaning me up and handed me the baby and she was so beautiful!  But I wasn’t out of the woods yet.  I was so, SO tired that it was hard to even hold her.  The doctor went to town trying to get my placenta out because I was still bleeding heavily and that was almost as painful as labor!  Once that was out, they gave me something to stop the bleeding and made sure I was getting plenty of fluids.

At one point, while I was holding the baby, all of a sudden everyone was calling my name.  I opened my eyes and everyone was staring at me and the nurse was holding my baby.  I was really confused about that since I didn’t remember handing Alice over, but then I realized I’d passed out again and almost dropped her!  Other than low BP and exhaustion, the other side effect of the hemorrhaging was cold.  I was so, SO cold.  As they were cleaning me up, I just started shivering so hard I could barely talk.  At that point they decided I needed blood and put in an order for 2 units.

Once I had the first unit in me, I felt like a new person.  I had energy to talk and hold the baby and generally be so glad that everything worked out as well as it did!  I’m so grateful that we didn’t end up with a cesarean (I’m not sure how anyone recovers from surgery with a whole passel of little ones at home!) but even more grateful that Alice tolerated labor, that it was a quick labor and most of all that I followed my intuition and didn’t go back home to have her.

A lot of people think it’s strange and even dangerous to have a baby at home…but my decision to do so is always accompanied by lots of prayer and listening.  The interesting thing about this birth is that even though I originally felt good about a homebirth, as the time got closer and closer, I started to feel some vague misgivings.  Every time I’d look over at the birth tub in my living room I’d get anxious.  I thought it was because of Marilyn’s birth (the pushing part of her labor was HARD!) and so I did more hypnobirthing and meditation and prayer…and yet the nervousness didn’t go away.  I didn’t feel fully at ease until we checked into the hospital.  At that point, even though there was a chance my baby could be in danger, I felt totally comfortable with the resources there and knew that the outcome would be a good one.

Birth is usually the first important experience we undergo as mothers and we are completely entitled to receiving revelation (or intuition or whatever you want to call it) for ourselves and our babies.  Being a mom is often a scary road, but we’re never completely alone!  The moment when a new life comes into the world is truly a special one, and I’m so grateful I’ve been able to experience it over and over again.

If You Love Them, Leave Them

Getting away from the kids and house can do wonders for any mom’s soul.
If you need a recharge, chances are good maybe you need an escape!


If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw that I recently spent a few days in sunny, colorful Palm Springs for Altitude Summit (also known as Alt), a conference for creative entrepreneurs and bloggers.  I’d been looking forward to mixing, mingling and learning from other amazing creatives at this conference for almost a year…but it was only a couple months ago that I realized I’d be 38+ weeks pregnant at the time!

I decided to take the risk and make the four hour drive with some friends (including another very pregnant blogger) and I’m so glad I did!  You all know how passionate I am about taking time for yourself as a mom and homemaker and even though this was technically a “business” trip, it was just what I needed to recharge.

Moms spend their days pouring their hearts and souls into their children’s lives and their homes, it’s only right that we take time for ourselves sometimes.  Whether that comes in the form of a weekly art class, a lunch date with friends or a weekend away with the hubs, the important thing is that we never forget to take care of ourselves first and foremost.

I’ve found that I love being productive during my alone time by working on my blog or creating something of beauty.  At Alt, I met and saw women (and a couple brave men!) who were sheer powerhouses in their businesses and creative ventures.  Stylish fashion bloggers, savvy PR and marketing managers, creative Instagram moguls, you name it!  They were all in the business of kicking butt and taking names.

Every one of these women had taken something they were passionate about and turned it into a a fulfilling career that they were pursuing regardless of all the other obligations hanging over their heads.

While I’ll always consider the time invested in my children and husband the best use of my time, I remind myself regularly that by developing my own talents, hobbies and interests, I’m becoming a better mother and wife to those I love.  And I’m confident that our eventual transition into the “empty nester” phase of life will be a lot less jarring if we’re already pursuing some of our own passions.

What do you do to make yourself feel recharged and ready to take on the tasks of motherhood?

Mom Goals for the New Year

Becoming a better mom is always one of my goals…give your kids this free survey to see how they think you’re doing!

Happy New Year!

I just love new beginnings and fresh starts…plus buying pretty new planners doesn’t hurt things either!

Since lots of my new goals this year have to do with being a better mom, I started thinking about what exactly that means.  Although I have my own ideas of how to measure my “success” as a mom, this year I want to focus on being the mom my kids need and want me to be.

Now if I gave them the option, I’m sure they’d tell me that a GOOD mom would feed them candy for breakfast and let them watch TV all day long.  So instead, I’ve created a simple little 10 question survey to get some specific ideas of what my kids think I can improve upon this year.

I’m hoping that this ends up being a fun little activity you can do with your kids to get a little insight into how their cute minds work.  I DON’T want it to end up being just a guilt-inducing exercise!  We all know we’re not perfect, but most of the time our kids think we’re pretty great.

You can download the survey HERE.

Feel free to print off copies or just have a little one on one chat with each kid and jot down their answers.

Have a great start to 2017 and I’d love to hear what cute, funny things your kids come up with!

Traveling with Kids: You Can Do It!

With a little preparation (and a good attitude) anyone can enjoy a family vacation, even with lots of little kids!

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This year my awesome mother-in-law suggested we all fly to Montana to visit Luke’s oldest sister and have a nice, cold, festive Thanksgiving! We said yes, of course, and the kids were brimming with excitement for weeks!

I, on the other hand, began to feel the vague misgivings of a potential looming disaster.  To say I felt uneasy about the logistics of getting 7 kids through airport security and a flight without meltdowns would be putting it lightly.  Also, I was 7 months pregnant.  You understand my hesitation.

In the end, the flight TO Montana was a dream; everyone was so excited, they were angels!  The flight back was, ah, well…not as successful.  I mentioned to Luke afterwards that overall I’d describe that second flight as “less than painful than 2 root canals”, and he agreed.   Take that as you will.

I wanted to share some of my favorite tips for surviving travel with the whole family!  Or even just a handful of the family.  Or even just ONE tyrannic toddler.  Read on for some ideas that really can make or break the trip…

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  1. If staying in a hotel or rental property (vs. staying with relatives) pack toys, food and baby feeding supplies.My big kids love a pack of cards or some books; a couple of action figures, pocket-sized dolls or matchbox cars work well for the younger crowd.   We prefer to stay in rooms with a kitchenette if possible and always buy some snacks and cereal to tide kids over between meals.  Make feeding time for the baby or toddler easier by packing the special spoons, sippy cups and bibs that you usually use at home.  And check out this portable booster seat!  Genius.
  2. Make sure you’ll have everything necessary to keep the littles happy at bedtime: a portable crib, pacifier(s!), favorite blanket and white noise machine (we love this one but sometimes even use a white noise app on our phones!) are our favorite tools for a peaceful nighttime routine, even in a strange place.  Think about your own child’s evening habits and make sure you can replicate them as closely as possible while on vacation.Finding a dark, quiet place for a baby or toddler to sleep can be the trickiest step.  My ideal place to set up a portable crib is in a large walk-in closet!  I’ve also had success putting a crib between the decorative and blackout layers of curtains in a hotel room, shielding baby from both the morning sun and the TV or hotel room lights.  I even once put a infant to sleep on a thick blanket in an empty bathtub!  We turned on the bathroom exhaust fan and closed the door and she slept like a dream.  (This only works with very little babies who are non-mobile, obviously!)
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3.  Be sure to pack well for your children, without going overboard.  This can be hard to do but I generally pack something like this:
Kids ages 7+: 1 shirt, pair socks and pair underwear per day and 1 pair of pants for every other day
Kids ages 2-6: 1 full outfit (shirt, pants, socks, underwear) per day PLUS 1 extra outfit
Kids ages 2 and under: Same as above but bring TWO extra outfits

Obviously this can be adjusted depending on how long you stay, whether or not you have access to a washing machine and the likelihood of your children ruining outfits (muddy or snowy places, etc).  And don’t forget to pack each day’s clothes up together by taking everything your kid will need for 1 day and then rolling it all up tightly.   Then there’s no rummaging around suitcases looking for stuff!

4.  Lastly, if you’re going to be flying with your crew, don’t be tempted to overpack!  There are a few essentials you want to have with you, but the less crap you have to haul through security and 4 miles to your gate (which, when traveling with kids, will always be the furthest one possible, obviously) the better!

Here are my essentials: Drinks and snacks (especially if your airline doesn’t provide much, and nowadays most don’t!), a new toy, coloring book (with attached markers/crayons if possible!), movie or games on a device (don’t forget headphones and a splitter if needed), and a book for older children who can read.  My hands-down best trick for keeping kids happy this trip?  A giant bag of little suckers.  I’ve learned to let go of my control freakish tendencies when traveling and just give the kids whatever keeps them happy….within reason.
Also check out this post for my favorite household items to entertain squirmy toddlers on a plane!

Comment below with any other tried and true tips you have for making family vacay fun and easy!

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Loving the difficult child

Despite our best intentions as mothers, some kids go through really tough phases.  If you find yourself struggling to show love to a certain little one, you’re not alone!

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When I first became a mom, I remember just kind of assuming that not only did moms always love their kids, but they always liked being around them, no matter what!  It wasn’t until Liam became a naughty toddler that I saw just a glimpse of the other side of motherhood: the challenge of loving a difficult child.

Now, in the grand scheme of things, our family has had it pretty easy: no kids with special needs or major health issues, no diagnosed behavioral or mental health problems. And yet, I’ve found myself struggling to show love to some of my kids when they’ve exhibited less than lovable behavior.  That’s not an easy thing to admit as a mom…but if you’ve ever felt this way, you’re not alone!

After Liam’s naughty preschool years, my first real struggle with this came with our older twin, the fiery redheaded Vivian (in fact I often blame her spunkiness on that wild hair!).  She has pushed me beyond the limits of my patience more times than I can count.  She has a mind of her own and when determined, she simply cannot be convinced otherwise.  In fact, if she had been my first child, I might have seriously questioned my mothering abilities!

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Vivian’s now getting considerably more mature and easy to reason with- but she’s still a spicy little one. Finn has now become my more challenging child, and sometimes it just breaks my heart that I spend all day dealing with his outbursts instead of enjoying his cute face and personality.  

It’s also extremely frustrating to parent these difficult children in public. For example, I’ve learned that Finn’s meltdowns are best diffused with humor or distraction but when we’re out in public, I feel pressured to scold him when he acts naughty.  It’s a struggle to remain calm and collected when strangers are staring and judging you and your screaming child!

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In the end, I try to remember a few important things when I’m dealing with a child in a naughty phase:

1. Separating the child from the behavior is one of the most powerful ways of continuing to love our sweet kids, even when they’re driving us completely crazy.

Our kids are good people who sometimes struggle with bad behavior.  Just as our mistakes as adults don’t define us, kids are also allowed to throw fits and melt down without being classified as “bad”.

2.  Keeping my cool as a mom goes a long way in helping my children overcome their emotional outbursts.  When children are dealing with a lot of crazy emotions and frustrations, it’s important for their grown up to stay calm and rational (when anyone figures out how to do this while a toddler is kicking you and screaming he hates you, let me know, eh??).

3.  Showing more love is always helpful.  I know how hard it is to give compassion to a child who’s hurting others or pushing your buttons, but I believe this is what we all need the most!

Hang in there moms! And, next time you see another mom at the grocery store pushing a screaming child around in a cart with a maniacal look on her face, just give her a fist bump and maybe slip her kid some candy.

When you just wanna quit

Have you ever just wanted to throw in the towel on motherhood?  There’s nothing wrong with you, I promise!

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(Quick and dirty vlog version of this post at the end!)

I wanted to quit being a mom today.  I know that sounds drastic and melodramatic, but heaven help me –  I.  Was.  Done.
Done with the tantrums, the fights, the nagging, the complaining, the sassiness; it just all came to a head in a filthy house with an overtired mom who wanted to storm out and never look back.

I really hope other moms don’t have days like this regularly, but my suspicion is that we all do.  The benefits of being a mom can sometimes be so great that it makes me want to cry great big joyous, grateful tears.

There are brief moments here and there where I look at my kids and I just wanna squeeze them all in a death grip of love and happiness!  But the majority of days (lately) have been so hard that I’m a lot closer to bursting into the other kind of tears.

The hardest part about motherhood is that we’re supposed be so darn grateful for it all the time.  I know there are accountants and lawyers and firemen and secretaries who walk around hating their jobs…but if you ever say (or even think) that being a mom just might kinda suck, then you must be an evil, terrible person. (BAD! Bad, naughty you!!)

If I feel frustrated about all my kids driving me insane, then guilt sets in because so many sweet women would do anything to have just one baby.  Maybe those of you with 1 or 2 kids feel like you can’t complain because you don’t have a huge family.  We stay-at-home moms might feel bad for wishing we had more time when those of you who work feel like no one will ever understand how busy your days are.

The fact is, motherhood is freaking hard no matter what it looks like.  You and your feelings of frustration, stress and being overwhelmed are always valid.  We always have a right to our feelings, no matter how unpleasant they may be.

Not only is it OK to feel these things, it’s OK to tell someone.  We should all have a non-judgmental friend or family member who we confide in when we’re at our wits’ end.

Lest anyone be duped into thinking my mothering attempts are all sunshine and roses, let the entirety of the internet hereby know now and forevermore: most days I have no idea what the crap I’m doing.

Our real work as mothers is pretty scary stuff.  It lies in loving, teaching and molding our children to be the best people they can be.  Even in the best circumstances, that’s a terrifying job.  Add in a household to run, a marriage to work on, maybe another job to perform, not to mention special needs, educating our kids, community obligations…it all just seems completely impossible to juggle all those balls.   It’s a wonder any of us want to become moms in the first place! (I suspect newborn squishiness is to blame.)

I try to remember in these moments of self-doubt, that my kids are part of my family for a reason.  I believe that every mom has something (actually oodles of things!) she can give her children that no one else can.  I also feel really strongly that every child can teach his parents lessons that we’d otherwise never be able to learn on our own.

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Sometimes I’m positive that even my very, very best will never be enough.  That my “good” mothering is sub-par to everyone else’s in the whole entire world, and that I will fail my children and they will never reach the potential they could (and/or they will potentially become creepy criminal weirdos who lurk in bushes and spy on people.  Ew.).  But, you know what I’ve realized lately?  Our mothering effort is completely independent of our children’s performance.

Let me just say that again…Our EFFORT as mothers is completely independent of how our children PERFORM.

Your toddler screaming and throwing toys through the aisles of Target does not make you a bad mom.   Your preteen saying he hates you and slamming a door in your face doesn’t make you a bad mom.
Your teenager getting into drugs or porn or hanging out with terrible friends does NOT make you a bad mom!
And even if, heaven forbid, our sweet innocent babies grow up to be serial killers or evil dictators or any number of awful things, all of the sacrifices we made as mothers would still be valid.  They would still COUNT.  You would still be a good person, even if your child chose not to be.

That’s a really, really hard thing to think about.  That no matter how hard we work as moms, we cannot choose our children’s destinies and we can’t keep them from harm or evil.  All we can do is love them.

And so, we do.  We love them with everything we’ve got. And we try to remember, amidst all the poop and the pb&j’s and the puberty, that we ARE good mothers.  Because good mothers show their love through service.  We might never throw a Pinterest-worthy party, or do our hair in time for preschool drop-off or be able to respond calmly when a kid says mean things, but we will keep loving.

Because loving is what moms do best.

The Pros and Cons of a Big Family

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Not a lot of people know exactly what their future family will look like when they’re still single…or even within the first few years of marriage.  But Luke and I always knew we wanted a large family and we’re pretty tickled pink that we’ve been able to make this dream happen!  Of course, having almost 8 children isn’t your typical success dream, like owning your own home or traveling the world.  It’s not filled with beautifully decorated rooms or fancy European food…and the hours are atrocious.  But it really IS wonderful!

Here’s just a peek into the good, the bad and the ridiculous of parenting a sports-team-sized crew!

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Click read more…

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My First Vlog: Finding Time for Mom!

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Aaaagh!  I’m so excited for my very first video post today!  It’s all about taking time for you moms to do whatever it is that YOU feel passionate about!

If you like it, I would LOVE you forever if you’d subscribe to my YouTube channel, give me a thumbs up and/or comment there or here!

I’d also love to know what sorts of motherhood, sewing or style tips you’d like to see in the future.  I can’t wait to get some fun sewing tutorials filmed!

Thanks so much, guys!!

XOXO

 

DIY Diaper Caddy: Simplify Motherhood

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SuperAbsorbent #CollectiveBias

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Hey mamas!  Today’s post is all about simplifying life as a busy, crazy insane mom….specifically, diaper time!  Plus a super easy sewing tutorial!  Click read more below!

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You’re Not a Good Mom…You’re a GREAT One

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I’ve got a deep(ish) motherhood post for you today, because so much mom-stuff has been on my mind lately.  These posts can get really wordy though, and so I’m excited to be working on some brand spanking new videos for the blog!  I can’t wait to share more mom-musings and DIY tutorials via video because they’re just so much fun! (But also so, SO much work…yikes!).  Here’s hoping they’ll be ready soon!

Before our France trip last month, I’d found myself turning into a pretty mean mom: there was lots of yelling, impatience, frustration and I was really slow to appreciate my kids.  We all get this way sometimes, and for me as a full-time SAHM (especially one who doesn’t send her kids to school…believe me, there are days I WISH I did – haha!) it can be really difficult to pull myself out of that funk.  Summers are especially hard on us here in Phoenix cause it’s so darn HOT and everyone’s cranky and miserable and stuck inside with too much screen time; i. e. recipe for disaster.

Then Luke and I took a 10 day trip away from everyone and I came back with a fresh perspective.  Life didn’t get any easier (coming back to real life is always an adjustment, especially after a selfish vacay where you only take care of yourself!), but I noticed that my mindset had shifted, just the tiniest bit.

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