Friday, November 21, 2008

But how can you meet all your child's needs.....

if you have to care for so many children?  This is a good question!

First of all, and most importantly, I can not possibly meet all my child's needs, even if I had only one!  That's God's job!  If I could do that, my child wouldn't need God!

Secondly, do our children "need" all the things that the typical American family deems necessary?  Does every child "need" to be involved in organized sports?  Music lessons?  Have their own bedroom?  "Quality Time" with parents?  Lots of toys/music/electronic devices?  New clothes?  A bath every night?  A hot breakfast every morning?

I see childrens' needs as very basic - a roof over their heads, clothes, healthy food, and a loving home.  They need parents who are willing to take the time to answer questions, teach them to be responsible people, teach them about their world, and provide for their social needs.

Social needs....that's a big one!  What are my child's social needs?  My child needs to learn to function in society - this includes our family, friends, and our world.  Will my child learn politeness, compassion, patience and such by spending a majority of the day with other children?  Maybe, but most likely not.  Most children are just as in need of training in social graces as my child.  I believe that children will learn best if they are around those who model the characteristics I desire them to have!  In some cases, that is other children, but in most, it's adults...their father and mother!  Does this have to be done one on one?  No, this is modeled in everyday life - at the table, in the car, during school time, during play time.  Just being home with my children provides ample situations for teaching and instructing them - making use of the situations as they arise!

So, we keep things as simple as possible, and I try to be available as much as possible for my kids - to answer questions, to teach them right and wrong, to comfort them when they are hurting.  I am not perfect, but with God's help, it's very doable!

Also, a biggy in large families, is the concept of training our older children to become good parents and spouses.  Having little ones to care for, under my authority and supervision, is an excellent way to accomplish this!  My older children have watched me parent and care for them, so they are taught to care for their siblings (with in reason of course) likewise!  This also meets the needs of my children, both young and old  Most families with 4 or fewer children, are usually all close in age, so they are all young adults at the same time.  This provides few opportunites to learn to care for babies and toddlers.  But in our family, all the kids learn to change diapers, feed a baby, sooth a crying toddler, potty train children, and so much more!

A really big thing that I see in large families is the concept of sharing the work load!  I for one, wasn't forced to train my children to do chores until I had 5 children!  Through the years we've worked to teach the children to do things around the house that they are capable of.  This starts when they are toddlers - they are big kid helpers - they can also get diapers for momma, carry things, get things, and so forth.  Then when they turn 5 years old they start getting bigger jobs - like making their bed, tidying their bedroom,  setting the table, putting away a specific kind of toy (like wedgits or legos).  When they turn 7 they get "big kid jobs" - like tidying one room everyday with an older sibling, clearing the table, unloading the dishwasher.  When they turn 10 they learn to do their own laundry and begin to lean skills that will make them dependable for childcare once they reach the legal age for baby sitting (12 yo's can care for chidren under the age of 6),  Lastly, when they are 13 they are old enough to be a team leader - we have teams for doing kitchen duties - a counter team, a table team, and a dishwasher team!  We also share meal preparation.  Starting as mom's helperat age 8, they progress to making meals more on their own around age 10 - two meals a week for each child and the mom doesn't have to cook unless she wants too! So when my children get married, all of them will be capable of doing all types of housework and cooking and baking!  This will make the transition to marriage so much easier than it is for most adults!

And finally, providing for their physical needs - food, clothing and shelter.  God is our provider, but He usually doesn't provide well in advance. We've never had a savings account, and usually there's a bit more month than money, but we've always had what we needed.  This might mean baking out own bread or living without some things to make ends meet, but this can be very good for our children - to make due with what you have and learn to be satisfied with it!

So, can I meet all the needs of my children when I have so many?  No!  But I can, with God's help and the help of my family, friends, and church community, provide a loving environment that will, Lord willing, produce an adult well prepared to make a difference in their world!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Today went well...

Esther's appointment this morning went smoothly - she weighed in at 10 lbs 11 oz - so she's gaining nicely!  She's also gained another 1/4 inch in length!  I also got a few errands in, but one didn't go so well.

My laptop started randomly restarting with a blue screen error message last August, but by then it was my only way to stay up with the business while on bedrest, and then once we were staying in the hospital it was my only link with the "real world".  So not I decided it was time to take it in to get fixed.  But, unlike in the past when they would run a quick diagnostic and get back to me later in the day, he said it would sit there for 4 - 5 days before they could get to it.  And no, they couldn't
put me "in line" and have me bring it in when they could get to it.  I can't afford to be without it for that long without major work moving stuff to another computer.  So I brought it back home and I'll try to get myself switched over the Jessica's work computer and then bring in my laptop for repairs on Monday and leave it until they can get to it - hopefully the week of Thanksgiving will be slower in the computer world!  I certainly hope so!

Then I went home, pumped, had lunch and the headed back to Bellingham with Jessica.  Her surgery went well, and was faster than expected because they were not able to put the rod into the bone today - they had warned me that it might take two separate appointments if there wasn't enough bone when the tooth was removed.  So she'll wait 2 months while her body builds in some bone where the tooth was removed, and then she'll have a second procedure to implant the rod.  I'm actuallly relieved as the implant is more painful than the tooth extraction, so at least that will be after the holidays and hopefully things with Esther will have settled down as well by then!

We got home late in the afternoon, and pumped, fed Esther, had dinner, and watched some Christian Music videos with the kids - some were really cool, and others you end up wondering what in the world was Christian about that song???

Then it was time for bed, thus I started putting Esther to bed, getting the kids settled down, going back in twice to quiet the girls, then pumping, and now I'm blogging before giving Esther her meds, preparing her feeds for th erest of the night, and then finally going to bed!  It's now 10:44 and my day started at 6:30 - long day!

I did save the best news for last - Esther took 70 of her 75 ccs of her evening feeding last night, and again tonight she took 65 ccs - both times it took her over an hour, but since I was just sitting around holding her and she was awake, I just kept trying and she kept taking little bits!

Another milestone, she actually breastfed this afternoon - with the help of a breast shield, but she did it!  I was pumping and she was awake and hungry, so I switch the pump to work on just one side and worked with her on the other - it took a little work, but she finally got going and hung in there for about 10 minutes, getting milk from me all the time!  Woohoo!!  There's hope for us!

Good night on that good note  - off to settle Dayton down, as he "can't sleep in my bed"!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Prayer requests for Thursday and Friday

I got a great photo of Esther just before we left for church Sunday, but first I thought a few of photos from her birth and first day in the hospital to show how far she came in 8 weeks  today might be great! This is the only photo we have of her at home - just after this photo was taken we started to realize that she wasn't "pinking up" and we just weren't too concerned about photos at that point. She was quite "blue" in this photo, and from there she actually got darker - more of a dusky purple by the time she left for the hospital - that was a really scary time for all of us! This is how she looked when I arrived at the hospital - one very sick little baby. But she was pink - and that surprised me - I thought she'd still be blue for some reason!
And here she is, looking like a princess in her finest! She was only half awake, so she looks a little groggy yet! Today marks the last of my "stay at home and schedule my day as I want to" days for this week. Thursday morning I have an appointment for Esther, and then back home for a couple of hours, and then back to Bellingham to take Jessica to the oral surgion.  Yes, if my year hasn't been hard enough, I also have two kids who need oral surgery! Jessica had a tooth that needed a crown last summer, but when they took off the temporary to put on the new crown, the entire tooth broke off at the roots!  So we were face with a choice of a bridge or an implant - both are about the same money wise, but the implant was recommended since it's her molar and she's so young. So tomorrow she's having the surgery to implant a metal thing into her jaw bone.  Once it has healed (3 - 4 months!  Ack!), then they will put a new crown/fake tooth on the rod and it will look like it's her own tooth and if all goes well, it will be permanent. Please pray that she will not be worried about the outcome, that the procedure will "take" and not have to be repeated or abandoned.  Please also pray that I will be able to get along over the next while (I really have no idea how many days she'll be under the weather from this) as I care for her and also lose her help around here! I also found out today that Jonathan's teeth have moved faster than expected and he is now ready for his surgery - he had a baby tooth that wouldn't fall out on it's own, and that caused the permanent tooth to remain in his "cheek" above his molars.  So he had to get braces to make the opening large enough, and now they need to apply a "brace" to that tooth with a chain attached, and then the chain will be attached to the wire from his braces and it will pull the tooth down and into place!  Ouch!  Great timing - Jessica right before Thanksgiving, and my hunch is that Jonathan's will be just before Christmas!  Happy Holidays anyone??? Also, neither of these procedures (or any of the orthodontist work on my three kids who needed it for medical reasons, and not cosmetic) is covered by any of our insurance, so I'd love it if you could pray that God will provide a way to pay for all this.  We were able to get financing for Jessica's procedure, but I sure hate to borrow money for things like this! Friday, two women are coming over to work with me to set up and access programs for Esther - they are from the health department and the birth to 3 program.  I'm sure they are wonderful women and they are coming to help me, but I just can't help being a little worried.  Anytime I think of someone associated with government coming into my home, I get a little frazzled!  Not the I have anything to hide, it's just that I do have a much larger family than most, and I just don't know what to expect.  In general people are either positive about a large family, or very negative.  Pray that I can have peace about this, and that the kids will be great while they are here!  I'd really appreciate it! Due to scheduling problems, Esther's trip to Children's for her echo-cardiogram won't be until the Tuesday after Thanksgiving - I'm relieved as my schedule between now and thanksgiving is anything but open! Also, on Monday, Dayton is having some major dental work done - under light sedation.  He had this done in September, and he was very upset afterward and had several hours of almost constant crying.  This time it shouldn't be as bad (he had his top 4 front teeth pulled last time), but I am intimidated with the thought of going through this again, this time with Esther to care for, and possibly Jessica as well!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

She's learned to smile!

No pictures yet, they are too fast for that, but she has definitely learned to smile!    She's smiled at my friend, Sally, her daddy, Rachel, and of course me!  Jessica is definitely bummed that Esther hasn't given her a smile yet, and she's been trying so hard to get her to smile!!  And it's such a cute smile - she even has at least 1 dimple!

With Esther having Down Syndrome, I have no idea what her learning curve will be, but I'm so encouraged that she's smiling already!  I was talking with her pediatrician about this just last week, when I asked her when she thinks that Esther might start smiling, and she said that as with  most babies, it can vary a lot.  I commented that "yeah, with my normal kids..." and she just about laughed/coughed or something like that - she said "you can say that about your kids, but I can't!" and we both laughed!  She has to call it "typically developing children" and "special needs".  I was going to say that even with my "other" children, they smiled anywhere from week one, to waiting until 8 weeks to grant me a smile!  So she's right in there with Reuben and Dayton as far as learning to smile!

I do know that Down syndrome children have a different growth chart - they usually have a smaller adult stature than average, and they typically grow slower.  She's doing great so far - I weighed her again this morning and she's gained 3 ounces in 3 days!  Yeah!  She's getting down right chubby in her legs and arms!  And what a budda belly!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

6 1/2 weeks old and doing great!

Esther weighed in at 9 lbs 12 oz on Monday - that's over 1 1/2 pounds since she came home, and 2 pounds above birth weight!  We even passed the test early this morning - she pulled out her feeding tube around 4 am.  I heard her wrestling around in bed and she sounded snuffly, so I looked at her and there was her feeding tube, lying next to her!  With Daryl's help, I got the tube back in - and even in the other nostril that wasn't passable when she was at St Joseph's (I figured I'd give it a try so her cheek could have a break and her nostril should have grown a little - that and I suspect she had some irritation in that nostril from the suctioning that was done at her birth and during the first few days).  Yeah!!!   It was actually pretty easy!

Here's what I call her princess pic - this blanket from her Auntie Lisa is fit for a princess, that's for sure:

Thanks Auntie Lisa for such a nice gift - we'll show off the outfit later! In this photo she's showing off how she fits in a 3 - 6 mo outfit that Sandy gave her (thanks Sandy for all the nice gifts you gave Esther and I!).

She is doing great at taking a bottle too - she;s using a new bottle I found at Target - it mimics breastfeeding - and she's doing good with it.  She's averaging 25 ccs per feeding from the bottle during the day now!

Here she is sporting a Snap-EZ Preemie Newborn Pocket Diaper - I couldn't believe they fit her, but they do so she's been wearing them off and on (most of her stash is smalls):

Today Esther was awake so much - she only took a couple of naps! I think that means that she's doing great - sleepy means working hard just to breath!

During one of her little naps, I had to take this photo - this is my viewpoint when she's cuddled up to me and sleeping....melted my heart!

(notice no tubing or tape on this cheek now (it's hiding on the other side!)

I know many of you are still praying for Esther, and we so appreciate it as she's definitely not out of the woods yet. As we all know, it's flu and cold season and either of those could land Esther right back in the hospital.

We ask for your prayers for protection over Esther that our family won't bring any bugs home to her, and that when she goes to Children's for a cardiology check up on Monday, and to her pediatrician's office on Wednesday, that she won't pick up anything at either place!

And lastly, many of you let me know that Esther's photo of her new dress wasn't showing up. Thanks! I've repaired the link (it was missing a period of all things!), so you'll have to scroll down to see her beautiful dress (which she's been trying to wear every day this week! LOL!).