My name is Kristen. I am a wife, daughter, sister, and mom to four amazing children. I have two girls and two boys, tie game, everyone wins, no more playing! All my youth and early adult years I always knew that I would one day be a mom. I’m the oldest of nine children and being in that position of a lineup of so many kids, I learned alot about what a mom does. Especially since I got to play second-mom quite often. When my husband and I were in the earliest years of our marriage, my youngest brother, who was about 8, came up to me one day and knowingfully told me that, “I know why you don’t have any kids yet. Mom had them all for you”. I laughed, but looked him straight in the eyes and told him he was probably right. We got married two weeks after I graduated from high school. I was only 18 and knew that I wasn’t ready to have kids. I honestly was ready for a break from taking care of little kids. I had done it for most of my life and was, simply put, sick to death of it! So we waited. Neighbors of my parents started to worry about us and even went so far to ask my mom if they needed to pray for me so I could get pregnant. At first I think it bothered my mom, she even questioned my a few times, but after awhile she would look at them knowingly and tell them that I just wasn’t ready yet and when it was time to have children I would certainly do it. I wanted to get to know my husband, spend money on whatever I wanted to, travel to different and sometimes exotic locations, stay up late and sleep in to make up for it. All the things I knew we wouldn’t be able to do once we started bringing kids into our lives. Jon was ready before I was to have kids. Probably a couple of years earlier than I was, he mentioned how nice it would be to have kids and bring it up every now and then, but he also knew not to push it and that when I was ready I’d be the first one to jump into bed and say “let’s do this”!

So we waited seven years and then I just knew inside that it was time to start having a baby. I knew exactly how many kids I wanted – two. I knew how far apart in age they needed to be – three years. I knew I didn’t want just one kid because I refuse to raise an only (loney) child. Three kids and you’ll always have an odd-man-out whenever you need to team up for something. Four was just too many and I knew there was no way I could handle four. So the magic number for me was two. One for each hand, or one for each parent, depending on the situation. Initially everything played out perfect. After a perfectly amazing and easy pregnancy and delivery, we had our first child, Talyce, a beautiful daughter, and things were great. I slipped into mommy mode without a blink. All my “training” from my younger years had paid off. I didn’t overreact to little things that first-time moms do. Like baby screaming when you put her down for a second and immediately picking her up completely forgetting to do whatever it was you put her down for. Not me, I knew babies scream and I knew that they would eventually stop or I would finish what I needed to do and pick her up again. Unless it was something serious, there was no reason to freak out. I actually had her pediatrician tell me there was no way I was a first-time mom because I was way to calm. I took it as a compliment.

Three years later, and right on demand, our second child, Gale, a son, was born. After I had Talyce, I told people that if pregnancy was as easy as it was carrying and delivering her, I could easily do it again. I should have kept my mouth shut! Three months into the pregnancy I started having Braxton Hicks contractions that didn’t stop until after I delivered him. I started dialating at five months and in my seventh month, during the week of Talyce’s birthday, I was put on bedrest for two weeks! I was extremely upset that I couldn’t make her birthday cake and decorate like I wanted to for her birthday, but thank heaven for family that came over and took direction from me. The party was a success and Gale stayed put and kept cooking. The day after the doctor released me from bedrest and told me that if I went into labor from that day on they wouldn’t stop me, I decided to hike up to Donught Falls to try to walk the baby out. I was done being pregnant and uncomfortable and just wanted him out. The walk, the bouncy car ride, and several hours later I was in the maternity ward excited to be in labor and ready to push. Apparently the nurses had other ideas. One shot in the butt with morphine, the contractions stopped and I was sent home. Ugh!

Looking back it was probably a blessing that I didn’t have Gale early because 10 days before he was born, Talyce came down with appendicitis and had to have an emergency appendectomy. She was just barely three years old and didn’t want to be away from her mommy at all. So I stayed in the little hospital bed with her and my enormous contracting belly for three days. The nurses who watched over Talyce would see me grimmace at a contraction and never hesitated to remind me that they didn’t deliver babies in their facility, they only cared for sick children, so I needed to make sure not to go into labor there. Fortunately children heal quickly and before we knew it we were dressed and ready to leave the hospital and I was so very ready to go have a baby that now seemed like he was going to stay in the oven forever.

A week before his due date, I went to my OB and she stripped my membrane. Now I’m not going to go into detail about what that is exactly, but I will tell you it’s extremely uncomfortable and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else considering it. When she was done she told me she would be completely surprised if I didn’t show up in the maternity ward before bedtime. We’ll let me tell you, I surprised her! I went in the next week for a followup and told her she’d let me down with her high expectations. Her solution? Strip the membrane again, but this time be more aggressive about it. Oh my heck! I knew better to say no, but my legs were already up in the stirrups in the check-me-out position and I was to huge to move quickly, so as soon as she said it, she was done doing it! I was in pain. My contractions were stronger and I was sure we were going straight to the hospital after that visit. Boy was I wrong, again. After I got in the car with Jon, the pain subsided and again we found ourselves driving home. I was furious! His due date was the next day and for a kid who really seemed like he wanted out with all the Braxton Hicks contractions and making me dialate way to early, he wasn’t going anywhere. Until late that night, when I woke up in a sweat, panting and counting contractions. I knew it was time and I knew there was no way that when we got there that anyone with a syringe of morphine was allowed anywhere near me. I was having that baby!

I was right, and in the early hours of the morning Gale came into the world blue and choking on fluid. It was scary to have them suction his lungs repeatedly. To hear the gasps for air through gurgles of fluid, but once they cleared it all out he was a wailer and it sounded great! He was a stiffer baby than Talyce had been. I had to entice him to eat, and he never stayed latched on to pacify. When he was done eating, he spit that nipple out and turned his head away. He didn’t really cuddle, but loved to play with a longer piece of hair I had braided by my neck. He always seemed to need something soft to twist and play with in his hands. He would watch his sister do things and we would hold and talk to him, but he seemed to lose interest easily and was fine and happy sitting in a chair buy himself staring at nothing.

Two years later I had the surprise of my life when I went to see the doctor and found out I was pregnant again. This wasn’t in my plans at all. We had the two kids I had adamantly said we were only going to have, but here we were, having another one. I was actually terrified to tell my husband because I was afraid what his reaction would be. Putting it kindly, he was upset. We talked for awhile and decided it was meant to be so we moved on and I started going through all the changes that pregancy does to a woman. I hoped that this pregnancy would be easy, like my first, but I was wrong once again. At three months I started having Braxton Hicks and dialating again. I had serious cramping and this time I hemmorhaged in my fifth month, placing me again on bedrest. Three months before he was born I was exposed to Fifths Disease and had to have 13 weekly ultrasounds to make sure he was developing properly and make sure he hadn’t died. If he survived through all that there was still a chance that he could be still born. Needless to say, it was a very difficult time for us. But when he was born there were no problems and he came out just fine. Only he didn’t cry. After I had Gale I suffered from post-pardum depression so I was on Prozac to help me cope. The nurse told me that quite often “Prozac babies” don’t cry, they’re just very mellow. That was David. He just stared around taking in his surroundings as calm as could be. When he finally did cry 14 hours after his birth, all I could do was laugh and video tape it. The nurses probably thought I was crazy.

Since we now had three children and my thought processes wouldn’t allow for that, we began making plans for our fourth child. This would be our final child and we decided that we needed to take medical measures to ensure that a fifth one didn’t happen. Three years after David’s birth, and another terrible pregnancy, our final daughter, Caroleta, came into the world. Pink, perfect and loud. She had flaming red hair and a personality to match. We knew from the first moment we met her that she would definitely give us a run for our money.

Talyce was thrilled to have a sister! She told us that once, while I was pregnant, she had prayed to the wishing star to give her a sister so obviously prayer works. Gale and David were okay with having a new baby around, but they didn’t really have much to do with her. They were happy in their own little worlds.

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