A Week, Briefly (Waking Up?)

Baby L continues to be the focus of our family time and energy.  The good news is that he grew 1.5 lbs in one week once we began bottle feeding him.  The bad news is that in spite of every effort on our part to help him nurse he continues to be incapable of nursing adequately.  In fact, after over 30 minutes of what looked like a productive nursing session at the breastfeeding support clinic, he only ingested 4 ml of milk--that's less than a teaspoon.

E14 thought he looked particularly cute in this pensive moment.
I am learning to be at peace with the fact that our boy is happy when he's offered a bottle, and he's frustrated, tense and angry when he's at the breast.  My emotions seem to mirror his exactly, so bottle-feeding it is . . .

Unless some well-meaning friend or family member calls me with yet another tip for how to get baby back to the breast.  Then I am filled with doubt and worry. 

I am learning how to cope with 'round-the-clock pumping sessions.  As I learn, I am becoming more capable of noticing and caring for other family members.  This week I read a few stories to I3 and H5 while I was hooked to the breast pump.  For me, this is a triumph.  I hope to be able to learn how to be ever more productive and attentive in these otherwise draining times of the day.

"Look at me!  I'm a goat!"
The other 7 kids have continued to have and use copious amounts of free time to the best of their ability . . .

which can be very interesting sometimes.
 The oldest ones read novels day in and day out.

H5 got out the camera again and again which means we have pictures of . . .

random lego creations . . .

sibling body parts . . .

extreme close ups . . .
and window screens (in an effort to photograph the snow outside).

One day this week, all of the kitchen stools received identities.

And Baby L was loved and played with constantly.

H5 and I managed to sneak in a reading practice session one quiet afternoon.  The time spent together fed both of our souls.

We're also trying to get some exercise in spite of the really low temperatures, snow, and ice that have been the norm this week.

Wednesday was our Explorer's Club field trip.  Dad took the kids to the meeting at an urban nature center.

Birds were the focus of the day, and A7 fell particularly in love with the raptors.  She brought home a free pamphlet and carefully took it apart so she could hang up the photos on her bedroom wall.  She was cunning enough to hang them in such a way that the articles were still readable, and now every time I tuck her in or check on her she shares a new fact she's learned.  H5 does what A7 does, so she's learning, too.

Dance rehearsals were cancelled due to illness, but that night Dad took the oldest 4 girls to the opera.  Our local opera house offers $5 tickets to educational groups on the night of their dress rehearsal.  The road conditions were of the white-knuckle variety, but Dad and the girls made it there and back safely and were able to enjoy the production of Silent Night.

I had a good long talk with an old friend who has also dealt with a baby who couldn't nurse; she gave me advice about how to get my milk supply back up (I'm only making about a third of what he needs) and how to cope with homeschooling for now.  I'm following her advice which means we're watching lots of documentaries as a family.  I reserved at the library about 75 documentaries on all sorts of subjects, and every day we're watching one or two together--old favorites like Planet Earth and Blue Planet and new-to-us favorites like Spellbound and Knut.  A couple of Great Courses DVD sets are waiting for us to try (one on opera, one on European art).  The girls and I are also enjoying more Jane Austen movies--Emma and Sense and Sensibility so far.

The Daddy/daughter dance at church was postponed, so we had a quiet night together on Friday night, but today is filled with activity--soccer practice, a dinner with cousins (provided the roads are safe), and a date with the sketch artist who is drawing a family portrait for us:

This is the preliminary rough draft he sent for our approval.  Today's session will help him finalize details, colors, and help him make any needed changes. 
I really like it!!!!!!

Lastly, inspired by another blogger, I've offered prizes for kids who work independently on schoolwork.  I've promised to be available each day for questions and to check their work, but I have not been able to figure out how to pick back up with a working school schedule of the variety we're used to.  I'm going to make a checklist for myself of things that I really want/need to get done and a tentative schedule that works around my pumping schedule. 

Dad goes back to work next week, so it's time for me to square my shoulders and press forward with faith.


  1. It is good to read your update! These newborn days are such adjustments, aren't they? You would think after one or two or six children that it would be easy but each child truly is a unique individual. You are in my prayers daily!

    1. I know, you would think it would get easier instead of harder!!! I appreciate your prayers, and you are in mine in return as you make your way through these early days of a new pregnancy.

  2. You are doing an amazing job! Thank you for keeping us updated!

    1. Thanks for your words of encouragement. They mean a great deal to me.

  3. Hang in there!! Pumping is tough, I think tougher than nursing...I admire your commitment.

    1. I think it's tougher than nursing, too, mostly because instead of holding baby I have to find someone else to hold him while I hook myself up to a machine. Baby's eating schedule and my pumping schedule can't match up, and that makes for difficulties. I feel like giving up all of the time, but something in me isn't ready to give up yet. :) Thanks for your encouraging words!!

  4. I love the picture of the bangle glasses and the sketch. So fun. I know this is a hard time. I also know that things will work out and you will be just fine. Your baby L is beautiful and loved. And you are doing the work you need to do. Good job.


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