Berries, Thoughts

rachel marie bartos


My fifth labor, which may have set a record for the world’s slowest labor, began at some point during the first week of October. My “due date” of September 24 had come and gone, as expected but not intended. “This labor is going to be so quick and easy,” my in-laws said. It wasn’t. “It’s always nice to have one baby that comes on their due date,” my mom told me. This one didn’t. “She’ll be born right at 40 weeks,” my naturopathic chiropractor predicted. She wasn’t. I thought the labor would be similar to Eva’s. Nope.

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Berries, Planning, Thoughts

third trimester update: berry #5

OVERALL: what started as smooth sailing became a wild ride by the end of this trimester. As covid-19 restrictions started loosening over the summer, we jumped at the chance to travel more before the postpartum slowdown. In the beginning of July (the start of my third trimester), I celebrated my birthday with a 17m bike ride on the Virginia Creeper Trail, and later that month, we daytripped down to Congaree National Park in Columbia SC. August took us north to Shenandoah National Park and west to the Bartos reunion in Fairfield Glade TN. In September, we joined my family at Holden Beach NC for a few days. By the time we got back from the beach, I was ready to stay home for the next six months or so! I like traveling but I started to feel like I didn’t have enough time at home to get ready for the baby. In between trips I got our birth supplies together, started acupuncture to turn our breech baby head down (it only took 1 session!), made a bunch of freezer meals with my sisters, and sorted through all of our baby girl clothes (what’s left of them, after the wear & tear from three previous girls).

Around 35 weeks I started having almost constant cramping and pressure, from how low baby berry was (that’s a good thing, but still uncomfortable). We had 2 pretty big scares with a round of intense contractions, one at Mammoth Cave National Park in KY (literally wandering in a giant cave wondering if we would have the baby in there), and the other at Holden Beach (thinking I was going to give birth in a Homeway rental house)! Both times everything ended up being fine, but we decided “wildberry” is a pretty accurate nickname for this little one who keeps proving to us that number 5 can still be surprising! Continue reading “third trimester update: berry #5”

Berries, Greg & Morgan, Married Life

july date: virginia creeper trail

IMG_6772For my 34th birthday this year I wanted to accomplish something. I spotted the Virginia Creeper Trail on a list of fun things to do within 3 hours of Charlotte, and I knew that was it. After a ton of persuasion (read: none), Gregory agreed to drive me to Damascus VA and ride the trail with me. We researched all the details and made a plan to leave our berries with my parents on Sunday, July 5 while we ran out of town for a quick getaway/mini babymoon. Continue reading “july date: virginia creeper trail”

Berries, Greg & Morgan, Married Life, Thoughts

june date: brownies & berry names

In June, we ventured out to a real restaurant (with white tablecloths and wait staff). We have a long-standing tradition, which started when I was pregnant with either Sophia or Zoe, of going to the Bonefish Grill in Matthews and sharing a flourless chocolate brownie à la mode while choosing a name for our new berry. Over the years, and multiple berries, we’ve built up a bunch of rules for this date. No other serious baby name discussions are permitted beforehand, and we each make a secret list of favorite names to bring. Once we sit down, the lists are formally passed back and forth. Greg crosses out his least favorite name from my list, while I do the same with his list, and then we compare. This repeats until there are only 1-2 names left on each list, and then we brainstorm various combinations, looking for the “perfect” sounding one. Greg double checks name meanings online while I mull over nicknames, family relationships, name associations, and more ethereal considerations. In the end, we usually come away with our joint favorite name, plus a good backup, and then wait until we see the child to finalize our choice! Except for Aaron Henry, when we didn’t have a backup and just knew all along that he would be Aaron Henry. Continue reading “june date: brownies & berry names”


second trimester update: berry #5

OVERALL: an eventful, and fairly energetic, three months. The first few weeks of April we continued the floor repair project – had all of our furniture moved out, carpet and existing flooring pulled up, and new hardwoods put down. At the same time we celebrated Pesach, the week of Unleavened Bread, and the feast of First Fruits (the resurrection)! We refinanced our mortgage, replaced our oven, and renovated our sunroom. We took our first family camping trip + an impromptu getaway to Asheville for Mother’s Day. At the end of May, we started a new season of Sunday swims at my parents’ house, as well as a round of birthdays and holidays. I am so thankful to be feeling good and keeping up with everything going on. Although I don’t really like the feeling of getting bigger & slower, it’s been a comfortable trimester without any aches or pains so I can’t complain. Even the fifth time around, it’s still such a miracle to be growing this little life! Continue reading “second trimester update: berry #5”

Berries, Thoughts

first trimester update: berry #5

OVERALL: a fairly textbook pregnancy for me so far. Like every other time, I felt fantastic until 6 weeks along. Weeks 6-12 were filled with all-day nausea, super early bedtimes, and a few frozen mac & cheese dinners. But at the same time I also went waterfall hunting in the NC mountains, flew up to DC for my sister’s birthday, hosted friends for the weekend, and celebrated Purim + my 9th anniversary. Life doesn’t stop for a fifth pregnancy (or a fifth baby)! I started to feel better and more like my normal self by 13 weeks, which was perfect timing for a giant construction project at our house (we replaced our entire downstairs floor after having a water leak in the kitchen). We had a few weeks of daily visits from contractors, living on our plywood subfloor, and needing to keep the berries out of the house. I’ve found that tough situations are a great chance to get closer to God and recognize the blessings around us! Continue reading “first trimester update: berry #5”

2020 Berry Adventures, Bartos family, Berries, Greg & Morgan

berry adventure #4

Date: April 19, 2020
Difficulty: 7 (out of 10)

This month’s berry adventure was one of our more interesting ones. To begin with, we were under a stay-at-home mandate for the entire month. Although outdoor activity is allowed according to the governor’s order, all of our local and state parks are closed. This made it hard to find a good challenge.

We sat down to figure it out last weekend, realizing that April was more than halfway over. One of the promising ideas on our 2020 list was a lookout tower hike, since those are usually standalone, not part of a park or any official location. Most of these towers are almost 4 hours away, which we ruled out as being too far for this month. Continue reading “berry adventure #4”

Bartos family, Berries

bartos party of 7

There’s a new berry in town! Well, she’s on her way. We are all so excited to meet our sweet surprise girl, even Eva.

As my grandfather asked me directly, was this planned? The answer is yes and no. After Eva was born, Greg and I agreed we were open to another child. The way I thought about it was that I had room in my heart for another one. To our surprise, the year 2019 came and went, filled with dozens of state park trips but no pregnancy. At the end of the year, it was a good surrender point to give up any ideas or plans we had for our family and wholeheartedly commit our path to the Lord. After the state park challenge and our first international trip in 2019, it was easier for me to picture always having a family of six, leaving the baby phase behind. We entered the new year ready to continue our family travel, moving on to national parks and bigger trips. Two weeks later I was staring at a positive pregnancy test. Surprise!

So here we are, expecting our third fall baby. This one is due almost exactly on Zoe’s original due date at the end of September (Zoe, of course, wasn’t born for another three weeks). I think it’s hilarious that we will have four girls and a boy because my parents have exactly the same mix. What are the odds??

Being pregnant during the COVID-19 pandemic has been interesting so far. I chose to get a very early ultrasound (14 weeks) because the independent ultrasound offices in our area were closing. I ended up driving out to Gastonia right before the NC statewide stay-at-home mandate took effect!

I had my first prenatal checkup last week and everything looks good. I’m praying she continues to grow strong and healthy, for God’s protection over our family, and especially for strength & patience during my fifth pregnancy!



berry spartan race

Sophia, Zoe, and Henry competed in their first Spartan race this weekend. According to them, it was their first and last Spartan race, although now that we’ve had a few days to bounce back, they’re starting to joke about doing another one. Time will tell.

We left Sunday morning for Mill Spring, NC. It felt exactly like going on a state park day trip, except that we had extra clothes, extra shoes, blankets, and towels. We got to the Tryon International Equestrian Center around 9am and had plenty of time to find registration, chat with my cousins (Bethany & Jonathan Stelzl were volunteering at the race), watch Greg climb the Goliath wall and get a free t-shirt, and explore the area before our start time at 10.30am. Continue reading “berry spartan race”

Bartos family, Berries, Planning

passports for kids: a quick & easy guide

We submitted passport applications for all four of our children this week. Our next adventure is on the horizon: we came up with the idea to “reward” the kids for their amazing work on our state park goal with a trip to Canada! Our first international trip will be to attend a little friend’s bat mitzvah in Ontario this November. It’s a surprise for the berries, so don’t tell them! I’m hoping we can pack up and leave in the morning as if it’s a normal park trip, but then we keep going… all day… (ha)

The passport process can be a little overwhelming, not to mention costly. We learned a few things along the way, which I’ll outline here as a resource for other families. Continue reading “passports for kids: a quick & easy guide”