38 Weeks Pregnancy Update + Essential Oil Birth Kit

38 Weeks Pregnancy Pic

38 weeks, 38 weeks…  The baby could come at any time and being so close to my due date, I’m getting pretty anxious.  Anxious about the birth and his arrival!  My darling sister was able to capture a few photos in a maternity photo session in the woods behind my home.  Isn’t she quite the talented photographer?!  How grateful and blessed I am to have a sister with an amazing eye, who is so gifted at taking pictures, and willing to spend her precious time taking these photos!

38 Weeks Pregnancy Pics Blessings Abound Mommy

This past week has had its ups and downs.  Most days I feel great and can’t be any better, which means the baby will most likely stay put for awhile.  I’m not complaining as it gives me extra time to double make sure I’m ready for when he makes his entrance into our world.  The last couple days I’ve felt tired and needed naps to survive through the day.  After a busy weekend at the homeschooling conference, I needed a chance to recoup a bit.  I felt some contractions during both days of the conference, but nothing regular or that progressed.  It’s my body’s way of getting ready for the real thing and not take it for granted that I have all the time in the world to make sure all my things are together.

I decided to rewash the fabric coverings over the bassinet as my 3 year old daughter, Patience, loves putting her fingers all over it and peering into it as if she expects to see the baby in there.  She put some smudges on it and I’m sure they would have been fine, but I couldn’t help myself to strip it down and rewash it.  I also chose this time to repack my birth center bag and everything is packed with the exception of the items I’ll have to pack last minute like my toothbrush, toiletries, diffuser, cell phone, camera, refrigerated snacks/drinks, etc.

birth center bag blessings abound mommy

In my birth center bag, I packed my swimsuit top as I plan on attempting another water birth, 2 Hot Mama Gowns (a Hospital/Birthing Center friendly gown made out of 100% organic cotton with special panels for nursing), a couple pair of socks, a pair of slippers, hair tie, my going home outfit (a small maternity shirt and comfy lounge pants), a baby outfit (newborn gown, hat, socks), newborn diapers and wipes, baby blanket, baby swaddling blanket, lip balm, Larabars, organic applesauce in pouches, trail mix, and homemade baby shampoo/wash.  I really don’t need to pack much since I go home the same day that I give birth.  One of the many perks of delivering at a birth center with a midwife!

My two oldest daughters (who are 11 and almost 7 years old) want to be at the birth so I have packed a few books and extra snacks for them.  My mother in law plans to make it to the birth as well so she’ll be on hand to keep an eye on them and keep them occupied and entertained while they wait for the exciting moment to arrive.  This will be my oldest daughter’s second time watching her sibling be born.  I think they are more excited than I am about the baby’s birth as they ask constantly if I feel like I’m going to have the baby on a daily basis.

doterra essential oil birth kit blessings abound mommy

I’ve also finalized my birth center bag with my essential oil birth kit.  I’ve included Balance and wild orange for diffusing during the birth to help keep me focused.  I have Serenity for after the birth to promote peace and calmness.  I put together a roller bottle with lavender and white fir to massage over my abdomen for after birth pains.  I’m bringing clary sage and myrrh in the event of stalled contractions to rub on the inside of my ankles, peppermint in case baby isn’t in the right position during labor, and helichrysum to put on my back and abdomen to help reduce the chances of hemorrhaging too much.  I don’t tear or get hemorrhoids or usually go through back labor during birth so I decided not to pack those oils for those types of conditions.

I didn’t forget to pack doTERRA essential oils for the baby too!  I’m packing frankincense for the baby’s crown and spine as protection and assisting with bonding, myrrh for his umbilical cord to help seal tissue and protect all systems, Balance for the bottoms of his feet to ground him, and melissa on the bottoms of his feet for DNA repair during the birth.  When I get home, I plan to also be rubbing some geranium and lemon essential oils on the bottoms of his feet to help reduce the chance of jaundice.

Starting my 39th week, I’m going to be applying a reduce bleeding essential oil blend to my inner ankles and back daily in hopes that it will combat against hemorrhaging from the birth.  I tend to hemorrhage a lot during birth and come close to a blood transfusion twice.  I’ve had friends tell me this has worked for them so I’m very excited to try it out this time!  The reduce bleeding blend contains essential oils such as clary sage, helichrysum, cypress, white fir, geranium, and ylang ylang.  I’m also upping my intake of red raspberry leaf tea and other herbs to help tone my uterus, which can help to reduce hemorrhaging too.  Please pray for me and wish me luck that these measures will work!

Gatorade Alternative Labor Blessings Abound Mommy

When I first go into labor, I plan on making my own “laborade” to take with me and packing snacks like yogurt to take with us.  I had done a test trial on an alternative sports drink that a sports nutritionist uses for Olympic and professional athletes to make sure I could stand the taste of it.  It’s made with freshly squeezed orange juice, maple syrup, sea salt, and water.  I did add some ElectroMix (an electrolyte mixture made by Alacer Corp. who makes EmergenC) to ensure that I would get all the potassium, sodium, etc. to get me through a long labor as I tend to have marathon labors.  Like a friend said, God makes some of us sprinters and some of us marathon runners!  I also plan on bringing a jug of a raspberry leaf tea blend to drink in between the “laborade” as well.

So now, I wake up every day wondering if today’s the day I’ll be meeting my newest little guy.  I’ve had 3 of my children go past their estimated due date, one that came on her second estimated due date, and one that made it one week early from her estimated due date so it really can go either way.  In the meantime, I’m giving extra attention and snuggles to my current baby as her time as my baby will be almost up!  Hopefully, my next update will be introducing you to our newest blessing, Valor Samuel Joseph Renner and our birth story at Mat-Su Midwifery!

30 Week Pregnancy Update- The Nesting Begins

30 Week Pregnancy Belly Alaska Blessings Abound Mommy

I’m happy to report that everything is looking on upswing and now it’s countdown time!  10 more weeks, more or less, until baby Samuel will make his appearance.  At my 30 week midwife appointment at Mat-Su Midwifery, I learned that I have gained a total of 28 lbs so far and measuring right on track for 30 weeks.  The baby’s heartbeat was in the 120s, so he was calm and mellow throughout my appointment.  Samuel is still head down, but in posterior position (his back is aligned with my back), so that means I’ll have to encourage him to move and turn his back towards my belly.  Good thing I have a little while to get him turn around!

I’ll be ensure to take extra measures to get him to spin around.  Things like laying on my left side, doing the cat yoga pose, and if needed, peppermint essential oil to help him move.  One of my friends who recently had a baby shared with me her success with using peppermint essential oil during her birth to move her baby into a better position for birth.  I’m not too worried about it though as like I said previously, he has quite a bit of time left to get where he needs to be before birth.

I’m feeling pretty energetic and motivated, as long as I get a restful night of sleep.  Sometimes, there’s a down side to being such a light a sleeper.  Every little noise that I hear throughout the night is enough to wake me from my slumber.  Just the other day, I had the gumption to prepare and assemble 30+ freezer meals.  My sister is a Wildtree Rep and I can’t believe how fast and easy they were to do in one night!  It took me 4 hours to complete, which I started right after the kids’ bedtime at 8:00 pm.  I am so giddy to not have to worry about what’s for dinner for the next month or so!

I’ll be ensuring I do an extra set of meals every month until Samuel’s birth so I won’t have to cook much during the first month.  In the first week of April, I’ll be also freezing breakfast items and lunches like soup that are simple to freeze and reheat. I’ve been into health drinks too. Natural fruit juice is one of the healthiest things you can ever consume – healthy for you = healthy for the baby. This made the masticating juicer an excellent investment for me. You know, this mama doesn’t want to starve when this baby arrives and I sure feel famished all day long when I’m nursing a wee little babe.  I definitely have an enormous appetite nursing compared to when I’m pregnant and with 5 other little ones to feed and homeschool, it will be nice not worry how to get everyone’s belly filled during that first crucial month of bonding with baby!

Nesting seems to be settling in and this week’s plan of attack is rearranging and reorganizing my bedroom to accommodate the baby’s bassinet and belongings for the first three months or so of his life.  I’ve put together my birthing essential oils kit with the essential oils I’ll be using during labor and his birth and I will also be working on packing most of my birthing bag.  The only things I’m going to leave until later to pack in the birthing bag will be last minute things like toiletries and snacks.

Hopefully, the weather will cooperate and I’ll be able to get in our shed soon to dig out my older son’s clothes and bedding from when he was a baby.  I don’t feel like trekking out there in the cold to find them and bring them in.  Is it just me or does anyone else get sentimental about pulling out your children’s outgrown clothes to put on a new baby?  I tear up just thinking about it!  How the time has passed us quickly and it will be such a tender moment to see those baby clothes on Samuel that were once worn by my 8 year old son, Ethan, as a baby.

I’m praying that the rest of this last stretch in pregnancy will go smoothly and I’ll feel great up until the end.  I’ll be continuing my two week check ups at the midwifery, which only seems to speed things up and make me realize how close I really am to holding this baby in my arms!  How I can wait, but can’t wait at the same time!

26 Weeks Pregnancy Update + Gender Reveal

26 Week Belly Pic Blessings Abound Mommy

Here I am at 26 weeks!  Yes, me in all my glory.  LOL!  Now, I know what you’re thinking… I look great, right?  To tell the truth, yes, I don’t look half bad at this stage, but compared to my previous pregnancies, this is the biggest I’ve ever been at 6 months.  My Mom still keeps insisting there’s another one in there and that the ultrasound tech missed the other baby.  Being my 8th pregnancy, I can expect to blossom much more than the rest of my pregnancies….  Especially since I’m carrying a home for my BOY!

Baby Samuel

I know.  I’ve missed a lot of updates.  If you don’t keep up with me on Facebook, you may not know that we did find out the gender of the baby.   My husband was so adamant that we were going to leave it a surprise, but when I had my ultrasound, I could definitely tell that I was seeing something vastly different than most of the previous ultrasounds we’ve had.  I had the ultrasound tech write up the gender in a card that I was planning on giving my mother in love in the event my husband wanted to change his mind at revealing the gender.

As I was driving home with my 8 year old son, Ethan (who was the only one with me during the ultrasound), I called my husband over the Bluetooth speakers in our van to give him an update.  I let him know that I was pretty certain that I knew the gender of our baby without looking at the card.  He couldn’t stand the suspense so he insisted my son open the card and read it aloud.  My son retrieved the card from its envelope and as he started to read it, his eyes got big with excitement and he shouted out, “Boy!”  He was so excited he even dropped the card!

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He finally has his baby brother on the way after all this time.  He has been talking nonstop about his baby brother and how he finally has a bed buddy and how he can’t wait to share his toys with him and show him what being a boy is all about.  It really does melt my heart and we’re over the moon that Ethan will have the brother he’s been praying and wishing for all this time.  We are naming the baby Samuel Joseph.  My husband has been set on Samuel for the last few babies and Joseph is a tribute to his grandfathers since they both share Joseph as a middle name.

We also found out at the ultrasound that I wasn’t as far along as I thought, which was no surprise.  At every ultrasound I’ve ever had, we’ve always moved the due date back by at least a week.  That puts my due date around April 30th, but I’m hoping he follows the pattern of most my other pregnancies and makes a late appearance so he can have a May birthday.  With so many kids, I like to double up on birthdays whenever possible and if he’s born in May, he’ll get to share a birthday with his sister, Liberty.  We will see as this has been my highest maintenance pregnancy yet and I’ve already had my fair share of bed rest this early on.

The sole reason I had my ultrasound around 18 weeks was because I had woken up with back and abdomen pain and had quite a bit of bright red bleeding.  The ultrasound tech, nurse practitioner, and midwives couldn’t determine the cause and that was the first time I was on bed rest this pregnancy.  With that and many other symptoms since, I’ve been told to take it easy this pregnancy.  I already am experiencing on many days the feeling as if he’s going to fall right out of me, which is making these last few months I have left a little more challenging.

At my 25 week appointment, I found out the baby’s head is already low in my pelvis and with the cramps, backaches, and a bit of spotting, that I might be in danger of preterm labor.  I took a swab test that will determine if things are headed in that direction.  If it’s negative, then I’ll have to continue to lay low, not lift anything heavy, and constantly lift up my pelvis with pillows to try and get him to move up.  If it’s positive, I will be on strict bed rest, most likely until the end the of my pregnancy.

Two days later, I got the news that it was negative!!!  You can’t imagine how thrilled I was to hear that!  While it’s still challenging not to overdo it with 5 children, I’m so thankful I won’t have to spend the next 3 months on complete bed rest.  I’ve got to take it easy and somehow cajole this little guy up and off my cervix so we won’t have a repeat of scares and worries and reduce the chance he’ll come early.

I also took the 1 hour glucose test since diabetes runs really strong on both sides of my family and both my Mom and sister had gestational diabetes with their pregnancies.  I failed the 1 hour last time and had to do the 3 hour, which I barely passed.  Luckily, I passed the 1 hour this time!  *happy dance*  While I don’t mind drinking the sugary drink so much, I can’t stand getting my blood drawn.

Well, I’m almost to the third trimester so I have most of this pregnancy in the bag!    The last few days, I’ve been in less pain so I’m hoping all the pelvic propping I’ve been doing has moved him upwards.  I won’t know for sure until my next midwife appointment in early February.  In the meantime, saying prayers and thinking positive thoughts!

Family Hike At Lazy Mountain Trail

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Summer has passed us by and our family hasn’t had much of a chance to get outdoors before the cooler weather sets in for good.  My sister in law happened to mention on Facebook that she was taking her kids to hike Lazy Mountain and we decided to join her since it wouldn’t be long before fall makes its full appearance in Alaska.  The Lazy Mountain Trail is located at the west slope of Lazy Mountain, a little outside of Palmer, Alaska.  It’s a 5 mile hike round trip and is moderate to difficult to hike.

Lazy Mountain Hike Alaska Mom Crew

Our good friend, Elsie, accompanied us with her six children.  It was a perfect day for hiking, not too cool and not too hot.  My husband feared that it would rain and we packed rain gear just in case, but we didn’t end up needing the rain gear after all.

Lazy Mountain Hike Alaska Kids

We took 11 children total with us whose ages ranged from 6 years to 15 years old.  I took my three oldest children with me (Elizabeth, Ethan, and Liberty) since I wasn’t sure if my 4 year old, Molly, would do well on the hike and I knew for a fact that my 2 year old, Patience, would want to be carried the whole time.

Lazy Mountain Hike Alaska Kids 3

At the start of the trail, it’s pretty strenuous and steep.  The trail was muddy and slick and the shoes I thought would work well for the hike were disappointing and had no traction.  I managed to slip many times and some of the most challenging spots of the trails had makeshift wooden steps that helped out A LOT!

Lazy Mountain Hike Alaska Kids 4

I would say the most difficult portion of the hike is the first half of the trail.  Once you reach the first picnic table and get out of the tree line, the trail is much more mellow and dry.  Many people turn back once they get to the picnic table, not realizing that it gets much easier after that.  It’s such a shame too because there’s true beauty awaiting the top of Lazy Mountain.

Lazy Mountain Hike Alaska Kids 8

We were warned towards the beginning of our hike that there was a sighting of a black bear cub in a tree. Thankfully, we never did see the cub on our hike, but my sister in law did happen to spot moose in a valley close to us.

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The kids had a blast foraging for berries and filling their tummies with watermelon berries, blueberries, raspberries, and crow berries along the way.  If we were in the business of picking berries, we would have had quite the berry picking crew and would have come home with buckets full of berries.

Lazy Mountain Hike Alaska Kids 5

Lazy Mountain Hike Alaska Kids 6

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Every so often we would stop for a breather and take in the scenery all around us.  The view was getting more beautiful the closer we got to the top.   It was neat to see the Matanuska Valley from tippy tops of the mountain.  What a glorious and breathtaking sight it was to behold!

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This was the part of the hike where “mommy panic” sets in and my heart starts beating rapidly.  The top is pretty steep and I almost cringed at every step my kids made on this narrow way to the top and back.  Like a friend on Facebook said, “The name of the mountain is pretty deceptive.”

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We made it to the top (3000 feet high) in roughly 4 hours!  The kids were all such troopers the entire way!  It was a great accomplishment for us since we hadn’t done that much hiking all summer long.  Our trip down only took us a couple hours and by that time, my body was definitely feeling the wear and tear from the difficult hike.  My body aches were no match for a warm soak in the tub and some Deep Blue Rub from doTERRA.  It felt so good to exercise and get those muscles working!

A couple of the kids suffered from some minor blisters on the back of their heels and it reinforced to me just how tough these little guys are.  Like I told someone awhile back, they could rival adults when it comes to hiking and often prove themselves on Alaska’s trails and backcountry.  They can’t wait to hike Lazy Mountain again and what a beautiful memory we made with them, our family, and some of our dearest friends in God’s majestic creation!

Dip Netting In The Kenai River

This past July, it was time to fill our empty freezers with a year’s worth of salmon.  Thankfully, as Alaskan residents, we are able to take advantage of subsistence fishing.  Our family usually dip nets in the Chitina River, but this year I decided to tag along with my Mom and try the Kenai River for the first time.

Salmon Dip Netting Kenai River 1

When we went out on our first trip down to Kenai, Alaska, it was pouring rain the entire time.  I didn’t mind it so much as it was fairly warm out and was wearing layers underneath my rain gear and waders.  Now, it had been a few years since I have actually dip netted salmon due to having babies and all so it took all the strength I could muster to keep the net in the water and scoop up the salmon into the boat.

Salmon Dip Netting Kenai River 2

We started out on the water at 6:30 am that morning and didn’t get out of the boat until close to 2 pm with only a banana and yogurt in my tummy.  I did try to eat a Larabar while we were on the river to help with my low blood sugar, but it didn’t settle well with my stomach.  By 2 pm, it was time to switch my spot on the boat with my sister since we could only feasibly fit a few people on the Archilles rubber boat at the same time and someone would have to keep an eye on her children while she was out.

Salmon Dip Netting Kenai River 3

By the time they got back to shore around 6 pm that night, we had only 62 salmon.  Split among our three families, it was roughly 20 salmon each, way less than our limit.  My brother in law was too tired to go back out and we had two damaged nets so we never did go back out during that trip like we originally had planned.  Even with only 20 salmon to add to our freezer, we were still thankful for the provision the Lord has provided our families with!

Salmon Dip Netting Kenai River 4

We thought that it would be our only dip netting trip of the season since we are extremely busy with getting our start up company going.  Not even a week later, my Mom announced that my Dad and her were headed back down.  Since salmon is a big staple in our year round meals, we made the time to join them for a last attempt to fill our freezers with salmon.

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This time, my husband was able to make it down with us!  We haven’t been out together alone in ages so it was wonderful to be spending some one on one time together.  I was so thankful that my best friend and love was able to accompany me on this salmon dip netting trip!

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For hours, we experienced some slow times.  My Mom would rest in between the rare times fish would swim into our nets.  We were almost concerned she’d fall asleep right there!

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My Dad kept being optimistic that we would soon get a big school of salmon in and we wouldn’t be going home disappointed.  The day was nice so it was much more relaxing than the previous trip where we were caught in the rain pretty much the entire time.

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Disappointed we were not!  Not too long after the dry spell, the salmon were coming in!  When they first came running through the river, our boat was the only one netting them left and right.  The other fishermen were wondering what we were doing different.  Then it seemed the whole river was full of salmon and I didn’t spot a boat in the water that wasn’t pulling in salmon!  There was so much action that to be efficient, my Mom and I were pulling in the fish while my husband and Dad would tag team to get them out of the nets and clip their tails.

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It didn’t take long to fill our cooler and our boat!  It was hard to walk around the slimy salmon by the time we caught our limits.  We were so overjoyed that we wouldn’t be going home empty handed or short of our limit.  We thanked the Lord for the bounty we received and how it would nourish our family’s bodies all year long!

We are so excited of all the salmon dishes we’ll be able to partake in, not to mention making some fresh, smoked salmon!!!  We will definitely be heading down here again next year!!!

Wordless Wednesday: Enjoying Our Last Summer Days At The Park

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve participated in WW.  Between helping my husband with our start up business and catching up with my kids, I haven’t had much time to share as much.  As Summer is quickly ending, we have been making several trips to different parks in our area before fall arrives with its crisp, cool air and gold leaves.  The picture below shows my kids at Lucas Park in Palmer, Alaska, enjoying one of my most favorite things I liked to do at the park as a child.

Kids Park Alaska Blessings Abound Mommy

You have NO idea how much I’ve missed this cute bunch!  I declare I’m not fit to be a working mother.  The few months I’ve had without them were miserable and now I’m making the most of their time back at home.  I am officially a full time mother again and look forward to the homeschooling year ahead!

Happy WW!  Leave your links below so I can stop by and visit!

Wordless Wednesday: Naughty Puppy

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Do you see this guilty expression on her face?  That’s because she knows the couches and chairs are off limits!063Aha, naughty, naughty pup!  That cute face will only work for so long…

Molly Bella Blessings Abound Mommy

It’s amazing how quick she’s found her way into our hearts and has become part of the family, naughtiness aside. Winking smile

Happy WW!  Leave your links below and I’ll stop by!

Wordless Wednesday: Cousins At Christmas

Renner Cousins Christmas 2011 Alaska Blessings Abound Mommy

One of the most important and cherished during the Christmas season is spending time with family.  My girls just adore their cousin, Faith, and couldn’t be happier celebrating Christmas with their beloved cousin.  The only thing that would make this photo more special would be adding their other female cousins (Kayla and Sophia) as well as their baby sister, Patience.  Such a sweet moment in time that I’m going to frame for my daughter, Liberty, who considers her cousin Faith to be her bff!

Happy WW!  Leave your links below so I can stop by and visit!