Thursday, December 13, 2012

I like my mother-in-law

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I came across this article in my Parenting magazine and I thought I'd share it here.  I know so many people that are always complaining about their in-laws complete with an eye roll and exasperated sigh, that I found it refreshing that someone actually wrote about liking her mother-in-law (although not at first).  I can't say that I've ever gotten naked in front of my mother-in-law besides an ocassional boob show while breastfeeding my littles, but I do love my mother-in-law and feel very lucky to have her in my life.  I'm thankful that she raised her youngest son to be the man he is today and I plan on learning her techniques as I raise my own son to be a gentleman.  She has loads of experience having had four boys who are all wonderful men and like the author, I did marry her youngest son.

The article

We struggle with a language barrier, but it's getting better as I learn more Spanish (along with my daughter) and she learns more English.  My mother-in-law can usually understand me quite well, but has a hard time responding back in English and it's the opposite for me.  I often wonder if we'd be closer if I was fluent and I make a pact in my head to be better at learning her language.  My sisters-in-law are great about translating when they are around and my mother-in-law and I have formed our own way of communicating about the Littles since she is our daycare provider, but I hope to one day be able to pick her up and go on a shopping trip and carry a conversation without any awkward silence.  I want to be there when she shares her recipes with my daughter (her only granddaughter thus far) and teaches her how to work the grinding machine for her famous pasteles.  I'm hopeful that when these days come and I understand what she's muttering about me under her breathe, I still love her as much as I do now!

When A.R. and I told my mother-in-law that we were getting married she broke down in tears.  I thought it was because of me (you know I'm a far cry from the traditional Puerto Rican girl I'm sure she envisioned for her youngest son), but I was oh so wrong.  She loves me as a daughter and as I watch my own little ones grow up I'm fairly certain when each of them tell me they are getting married, I'll cry, too.  She's told my husband many times that I'm a great mother and she's proud of how we raise our children and the fact I make my own baby food and nurse them until they wean- just like she did- that I don't freak out over the little things and I fully believe in the five second rule despite what Myth Busters says.  Thank you, Isa.  Thank you for raising my husband into the man he is today.  Thank you for giving me piece of mind and loving my Littles as your own while I go off to work.  Thank you for accepting me as part of your family and including my family into your circle of trust (ah-hem, Meet the Fockers reference there!).  I hope there are more daughters-in-law out there that realize what a great friend and confidante a mother-in-law can be and learn to love her like I have you.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hypnobirthing

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I have now become a horrible blogger. :(  I fear that I will have even more trouble keeping up in the near future as E becomes more and more mobile.  He is a roly poly boy now.  Play mats and foam squares for the floor are pretty pointless, but we still make an attempt at using them at least for now.  I had wanted to post ages ago (like right after he was born 5 1/2 months ago) about my experience with hypnobirthing, but never got the chance to put my thoughts into coherent sentences.  I think now is as good a time as any to finally post about it.

It's been important to me to at least try for as natural a birth as possible with each of my children with the hopes of going med free.  I hold nothing against the drugs as I've had three epidurals and various other medications while giving birth and my children are perfectly fine happy and healthy with no ill effects.  I think I want to do it for me, to prove that I can work with my unborn wee one and my body and just do it.  I know it's also better for baby and my own recovery to avoid as many drugs as possible while pregnant.  That said, I have yet to have a completely med free birth, but it isn't for lack of trying.  With my first I was young and naive and thought Lamaze would work.  You know the breathing- "Hee. Hee. Hoo. Hee. Hee. Hoo." you see on movies?!  Ya, that doesn't work, at least for me.  When I was pregnant with M I read The Bradley Method of birthing and would've loved to take the 12 week course on it, but alas A.R. had graduate school classes back then and I discovered the classes when I was already too far along to sign up.  I did read the book and practice the exercises at home and I used several of the labor positions and techniques, but ultimately ended up with an epidural after the Pitocin kicked in full force.  Towards the final days of my pregnancy with M, I heard about Hypnobirthing and really wanted to give it a shot when/if I got pregnant again.

When I found out I was pregnant with E, I looked into Hypnobirthing courses (not to be confused with Hypnobabies which is different and a self study course) and found that the hospital I birth at actually offered a course with a certified instructor.  I signed up for the course in early April 2012 for my June 5th due date as I wanted time to practice the techniques after the class before I gave birth.  I never did tell A.R. exactly how much the course cost (about $250), but I think it was worth every penny and he never would've agreed to it had he known.  The first day I practically had to drag A.R. with me, but we soon found we both really enjoyed it and actually looked forward to the next week's course and doing our homework.  We were both a little sad when the five weeks of courses was over.  On the last day of class our teacher even had a little birthday party for all the babies.  The class size was small- just five couples, including us.  The beginning of class we spent watching various hypnobirth videos and techniques, then we'd discuss that day's lesson, and then spend the last half hour or so practicing various positions/breathing techniques and go over a hypnobirth track on the radio.  It was so incredibly relaxing and even the Dad's were encouraged to partake in the hypnosis exercises.  A.R. actually started snoring during one of them!!

Our course fee also included tons of handouts from our teacher, the book, and two CDs with hypno tracks on them.  You can buy additional tracks online as well.  Every night as I laid down to go to bed I'd put my head phones in and listen to one of the tracks.  Falling asleep during them was perfectly fine and a good sign that I was able to relax using them.  Soon after our class began, I was discouraged to find out I had gestational diabetes and polyhydramnios (too much amniotic fluid) and would most likely not be allowed to go all the way to 40 weeks which could mean having to endure an induction.  I knew that, for me, induction would mean Pitocin and having had that awful drug my previous two births, I knew I wouldn't be able to go natural if I had to get it.  I spoke with our hypnobirth instructor several times about her experience with hypno moms with gestational diabetes and it was certainly encouraging.  When the time came and I did end up having to schedule an induction date (add in an aging placenta to my list if issues) at 39 weeks 1 day, I phoned her once again to get her recommendation for a good accupuncturist to try to see if I could self induce labor.  My attempts were futile, so it looked like I would have to get Pitocin once again since my polyhydramnios and E being so high up still rendered breaking my water too dangerous (risk of cord prolapse) as a means to start labor "naturally".

I didn't give up on hypnobirthing despite the induction and I'm so glad I didn't.  I wrote a Birth Plan based off the guide in our hypnobirthing book and my fabulous nurse was excellent in advocating all aspects of it for us throughout my labor.  I did have to get Pitocin, but was able to labor a good 7 hours drug free.  They never asked what my pain level was and let me move into various positions (while still hooked to a monitor) every hour or so as I desired.  I couldn't get into the shower, unfortunately, as E wouldn't stay on the monitor.  I was able to alternate between bed, rocking chair, and birthing ball and even use some of the Bradley positions and techniques I had learned while pregnant with M.  I was pain free for all of the first 7 hours and things only intensified when my water was broken.  I was able to put my headphones on and listen to my hypno tracks for 3 hours through the intense Pit contractions before I knew that I just couldn't handle anymore unless I was close to the end.  After a quick cervix check it was clear I still had awhile to go (I was 3cm), so I decided I needed the epidural.  Within minutes of it being administered, I was fast asleep...just three hours of intense labor had exhausted me.  I didn't feel like a failure, I knew I went (pain) med free for a lot longer than I have with any of my other births and I gave it an honest effort considering the Pit contractions were off the chart and I was close to the maximum Pit dosage possible (in the end I was on a dosage of 18, max is 21). In the end, I went from 4cm dilated to 10 in less than 40 minutes, but that was still another three hours after my epidural was administered.  I never would have had enough strength to push him out enduring the intense pain of Pit that long.  In the end, my epidural failed because I progressed so quickly that I did end up feeling everything below the belt during E's birth.  I also used a mirror (HIGHLY recommend this!) and got to watch my son be born.  He's the first of my babies, I've seen born and I will, for sure, use a mirror again. 

When we have our next little one, I'll definitely use Hypnobirthing again to help me during labor and I highly recommend it if you are considering it.  I know nothing about Hypnobabies, but I prefer the classroom setting to learn the method versus reading it myself and doing self study.  I think you get a lot more out of it.  I also truly feel that if I had a natural labor with no Pitocin, I could go med free using the hypnobirthing techniques as I was doing fine before the Pitocin kicked in.  I have faith in my body and my baby that we could have done it, but the Pit was just too much. 

Monday, October 08, 2012

A New Color of the Rainbow

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I'll admit it with no shame and only slight embarrassment: my hair is not it's natural color and it hasn't been for a long, long time.  I used to just get highlights back in my late teens, early twenties just to do something a little different and add some style to my usual nape of the neck pony tail (I rarely wear my hair down as when it gets in my face it drives me CRAZY).  Well, now I dye it out of necessity as I have a few grays sprinkled in with my dark brown natural color.  I don't remember exactly when the first gray appeared, but it was probably a year or two ago right around time time miss M was born.  Coincidence?!  Maybe.  I think the first one I noticed was really before I conceived her, but they sure did multiply a lot quicker (so it seemed) after she was born!

I've always spent a small fortune to get my hair done as I was too chicken to attempt it myself and risk needing to visit a "real" hair stylist in a rush to fix whatever orange or blue hue I had given myself by accident.  I wanted to give it a shot at least once myself as I knew it would save us quite a bit of money and with two kids and my reduced schedule at work our budget is a little tighter than it used to be.  I don't really need highlights in the summer as I get them naturally when outside, so I figured I could attempt an all over semi-permanent color for my first attempt at home hair dying.

Before: please excuse scary morning face post newborn
I polled some on-line friends of mine, clipped some coupons, and headed off to CVS to buy my first hair dye.  I opted to be conservative and stuck close to my natural dark brown color.  Clairol Natural Instincts happened to be on sale and with my coupon I scored two boxes for $5.99 including a travel size Pantene color stay shampoo (which happens to be the shampoo I use daily)!  I could dye my hair for about 94% less than what I normally spend (excluding tip).  Holy crap.  I figured I'd need two boxes as my hair is shoulder length and I'm glad I got both.  I probably didn't need the full second box, but I definitely needed more than one.

Waiting for the dye to work
I skipped the skin test risking a potential allergic reaction, wrapped an old dark towel around my shoulders, applied vaseline on the tips of my ears and all around my hair line (a trick a friend told me about to keep the dye off my skin), prayed my two Littles stayed asleep, put on the gloves that came with the kit, and got to work.  It was quick and easy to apply and the wait for the dye to work wasn't bad at all.  Thankfully, my Littles both slept through the entire experiment and I hopped into the shower to rinse all the dye out and apply the conditioner included in the kit (it smelled of sweet coconut- Mmmm!).  I hopped out of the shower and was instantly pleased with the result.  It looked natural, covered my grays, and actually looked good.  I will say that for a few days my hair did feel dryer than usual, but I applied the conditioner that came with my kit for a week and a half until I ran out and it really seemed to help with that.
After
It was definitely a million times easier than expected and I'll definitely do it again and maybe even be brave enough to experiment with a different shade of brown.  I also think next time I'll dye it first and then get a hair cut as I think it'll help with the dryness by getting a trim after the color.  Please excuse the horrid self portraits....it was after a few late night(s) with a newborn that I attempted this back in August. :)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

God Bless Baby E

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On August 12th our sweet Baby E was baptized at our church by our favorite priest.  He slept through the first half of the ceremony and woke up in time for the baptism.  When the priest poured the water he looked at us with a look that said, "IwanttocrybutyousayitsoksoI'mjustgonnadomypoutylippucker" and handled it like a champ.  We are thrilled to congratulate JD and IR as his loving Godparents.  We know you'll do your best to look out for our little guy and teach him the ways of the world and set excellent Christian examples.  We know he'll love you both in return.  On a side note, isn't his little suit adorable?!  Boys DO have cute clothes available. :)

Loving Godparents




The baptism with Father Moran. He officiated our wedding and did my 1st communion & confirmation.





His top bottom wouldn't stay. Can you tell by the broad shoulder look?!  This kid is SOLID.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Meeting Great Grammie

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This post is long over due.  Heck, any post at this point is long over due.  I think of so many things I'd love to share on my blog and by the time I get a second to post I think it's too late and nobody will care.  Since this is also sort of a diary for me to look back on, I'm going to share this family moment with you all even though it happened a couple of months ago on July 7th.  There is just something about my little ones meeting their Great Grammie for the first time that makes me smile.  Not just a superficial one, but deep down inside my heart.  We are so very lucky she is still with us at the amazing age of 93 (and still walks 2 miles every day!).  Without further adieu, I'll let the picture do the talking...she was in awe of her first Great Grandson (as are we).  M took great delight in introducing them and showing "Gate Gammie" all about "baby Ebin".









Monday, September 10, 2012

Four years and counting...

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Just married! 9-6-2008
This is yet another post that is also a bit late/delayed, but for good cause.  Late posts = me spending time with my family and little ones who are growing oh too fast for my liking.  In my defense, our celebration of this event isn't until this weekend as it had to be a bit delayed due to our adorable littlest nephew's birthday festivities so maybe I'm not late in this post after all.
So young! April 2006- the weekend we became exclusive
March 8th, 2006 was the day I first laid eyes on this handsome man and my first thought as I rode down the escalator and saw him pacing nervously in the lobby of the company where we both work (still), was that his picture didn't do him justice.  We met on a blind date and my friend had supplied me a photo of him from his brother's recent wedding.  I didn't think our meeting would ever take place.  He asked me out via email as he was too shy to call me...he'd seen my photo (one specifically chosen and pre-approved by both of my friends doing the match making, of course) as well and wasn't going to ask me out as he thought I was "cute" and would say no.  I guess he saw me once on the elevator where we work shortly after my friends started pestering him about me and that changed his mind as I seemed "normal" (HA! The irony.).  I think he was spying on me before making a decision.  Certainly, that was an unfair advantage.  Anyhow, he asked me out and the day of our lunch date came along with a last minute cancellation via email that he just couldn't get away for our lunch because he had a funeral to go to.  Right.  Like I haven't heard that excuse before.  I figured he'd spotted me in person in the midst of the thousands of other people we work with in our building and that was the end of it.
Shortly after we were engaged in 2007. Wine tasting on Long Island
To my surprise, he rescheduled for the following week apologizing profusely and I was actually excited at the prospect of meeting someone new as online dating had been a waste for me.  Of course now it was my turn to throw a curve ball.  I got sick.  Miserable and disgusting with a Z-pac prescription to boot sick.  I had to cancel as I could barely get out of bed.  He thought I spotted him at work and was no longer interested.  Flash forward once again and we decided to give it one last shot and if this didn't work well, then, we just weren't meant to be.  March 8th dawned and we were both happy and healthy and alive.  As I rode down the elevator to meet him I spotted him instantly.  He was pacing back and forth nervously and then in a moment he stopped and looked up and saw me.  I can't explain exactly why, but in that instant I knew we were both in trouble.  The butterflies in the pit of your stomach, take my breathe away just by a simple glance kind of trouble.  We exchanged nervous smiles and his first words came out, "You must be Heather." Two hours later, we came back from our first lunch.  I didn't think he'd call me again as I couldn't shut up the whole two hours.  I could hear myself talking and was trying to stop but my friends told me he was shy and I'd have to keep the conversation going.  Crap.  I'm shy, too, yet I managed to talk non-stop.  Much to my surprise he did call me back.  In fact, he even emailed me that afternoon to say he had a wonderful time at our lunch and hoped we could go out one evening really soon.  Thank God there's a man on this planet who doesn't wait the customary three days to call again.  My heart skipped a few beats.
Waiting for baby M! 2009
Flash forward almost six and a half years and we are celebrating our 4th wedding anniversary.  It's been an incredible four years with the man I first saw nervously pacing back and forth on that brisk March day.  We have traveled to far away places, adopted pets and lost others, built a house together, doubled our family size, laughed, cried, danced, tickled, argued over whether the box was half full or half empty, and most of all: we've loved.  Our journey this far has been incredible and I look forward to our journey in the years to come and where it will lead us.  A.R. completes me and I, him.  We are so blessed to have each other and our little family of four.
One of my favorites from our honeymoon.  Barcelona, Spain 2008


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Baby Product Raves- The 2nd Time Around

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We didn't buy much for baby E having purchased all large items in gender neutrals when we were waiting for M's arrival, but we did get a few new things I'd like to rave about. Of course I also will share some of the old faithful products I've used and loved with both little ones.

New Items:
These are the items we have bought (or borrowed) for our second go round at this thing called parenting.  I am 100% satisfied with all of these and consider them keepers should we have another little one.

Graco Pack n Play with newborn napper ~
The newborn napper has been invaluable since Day 1 as once again we have a little one that doesn't like the baby swing.  I really wish I had one when M was a newborn.  He love(s) snuggling in it and still likes it now at almost 3mo even though he's about to outgrow it.  Our previous pack 'n play was also a Graco, but two of the corner supports broke (one from being in the luggage area of a cruise ship and the other because I fell on it).  We also use the changer attachment on it daily.  I have yet to use the bassinet portion or drop the mattress and use it as a regular play pen, but those days will come all too quickly.

The newborn napper
Beco Gemini baby carrier~
Both A.R. and I have carried him easily and comfortably (read: no back aches) in the Beco Gemini and once he's bigger it is designed to face baby out for short periods if he should prefer to look around more.  I've also used it many times to wrangle our 2 year old while nursing E at the same time.  It's truly been a life saver for us.  Also, E hates his infant carseat for long periods of time, so we often put him in the carrier for shopping outings.  I just need to buy the strap covers as he's starting to chew on the shoulder straps of the carrier which is common and okay...the company even mentions it on their website.
E in the Beco Gemini when he was an itty bitty
Diaper wipe warmer~
Okay, this was a splurge and is not by any means a necessity, but I know our little guy appreciates a warm wipe on his tushy during middle of the night diaper changes.  I appreciate the warm wipes as they limit the built in sprinkler system that comes with a baby boy...no shocking cold wipe (from the A/C) on his tushy = no sprinkler action.  The Babies R Us brand is sufficient.  Nothing fancy necessary.  It even has a little light on it that has helped us during late night changes.

Snug-a-bunny swing (borrowed from a friend as M HATED the swing we got)~
E actually still isn't sold on the swing completely, but on the rare occasion he does tolerate it this swing can occupy him for a good twenty minutes.  He likes the mobile and soft fabric.  Of course he also decided to have one of his first diaper blowouts all over the white seat.  Luckily, Oxiclean got it out and it didn't stain.  We like it enough (and so does he) that we sold our old swing on Craig's List.

Old Faithfuls:
These items have been our go-to products for both little ones.  They've been put to the test for two babies and passed with flying colors.

Carter's Vibrating bouncy seat~
Our little ones seriously live in this thing until they outgrow it.  It's perfect in the kitchen while I'm pumping, cooking, or cleaning.  I even take it into the bathroom when I'm showering if I have to.  The vibrating feature is the best I've seen and the batteries last forever.  The mobile is also great for them to stare at and bat at once they are old enough to work on eye and hand coordination.  E has never slept in it (M napped in it frequently), but it does help occupy him and he loves to sit in it while we eat and look around.

Davinci Parker nursery furniture~
Our furniture all came from Babies R Us, but I believe Target and other online stores also carry this line now.  We love it and have gotten great use out of the changing table, dresser, and crib.  The crib is on baby number 2 and has had the mattress set at all levels and was converted to a toddler bed for six months before becoming a crib once again.  All pieces have held up well so far to the abusing from two little ones.

Moby wrap~
I know I could sew one now for a heck of a lot cheaper than I bought mine, but alas I bought it while pregnant with M and have used it with both babies.  It is a life saver in the early days with a newborn when they are still squishy and want to be on you close and snug.  E doesn't like it as much now (almost 3mo), but I hope to keep trying new carries with it, so I can use it with him longer than I did with M.  She only tolerated it in the newborn stage.  Even though my little ones outgrow it quickly (they don't like the restrictive feeling of being carried in it once they are past the newborn stage), I know other moms use it well into the first year and beyond with great success.  I would still buy (or make) another if mine should need replacing.
Boppy~
I LOVE my Boppy.  I used it everyday for 19 months while I nursed M and I've used it everyday since E's birthday so far.  I even borrowed my friend's Boppy so I have one upstairs and downstairs.  I have various covers and a waterproof cover for it.  I consider this a MUST if you are a nursing mom.  I will say that I've heard some nursing moms prefer the competition pillow called Breastfriend, but I never tried it as I didn't want to be strapped into a pillow.  My Boppy is my best friend and will be until the day E weans himself.  Also, it isn't just for breastfeeding!  E loves tummy time on it while he hates tummy time on the floor.

City Select stroller~
If I could marry a stroller and be bonded to it for life, it would be to my City Select.  It is just as good as a double stroller as it was as a single.  I cannot rave about it enough.  The adaptor works great with our Graco infant seat and I've had M in various positions in her seat on the frame at the same time with no issues.  The storage basket is the best part of it.  It holds so much (I've gone grocery shopping with just this stroller!) and then some.  We also bought a cup holder/storage attachment that snaps on.  I think the only complaint I have is the bruises I keep giving myself on my legs folding it up.  That isn't the stroller's fault, but my clumsy nature.  Plus, I bruise easy.  We also discovered the second time around that taking the seat off to fold it and put in the car is million times easier than leaving it on.  DOH!  I can say that with the canopy on M's seat and the infant seat in the top position, we do have to be careful when we click in E's seat as sometimes the canopy on the stroller seat gets in the way.  Otherwise, it is pure love.  We scored ours on sale one Black Friday from the site in the link above and I got the second seat and adaptor on sale from Amazon a year later.

Summer Infant tub~
Originally, we had a collapsible infant tub with M, but it leaked something awful and we quickly ditched it to buy this tub.  It's still amazing the second time around and E has never once cried during bath time.  He loves it and my back loves the base that snaps on the tub to make it easier to reach when it's in your adult tub.  The base later can be used as a step stool.

Columbia diaper bag~
It's man enough for A.R. and large enough to carry what we need for toddler and newborn.  It lasted through Miss M and I think we might be retiring it after E as sadly the cooler section has come unstitched slightly.  I think I can fix it for now with my trusty sewing skills.  Plus, I've been tainted seeing the Skip Hop diaper bag videos and how they attach to strollers.  I will say we were clueless about diaper bags before E was born and didn't even register for one.  A shower guest (thank you Nilda!) gave us this bag stuffed with goodies and we were in love.  A.R. liked it because it wasn't pink (we have it in black) or girly and I liked it because it was practical.

Medela PISA metro bag breast pump~
I have to admit that should I have to buy another pump someday I probably would lean away from a Medela and go with either an Ameda or a Hygeia.  That said, I do also have to admit that my PISA has carried me faithfully through two little ones so far.  I was part of the recall back in 2010 and had my original pump replaced, but alas this pump does it's job and it does it well so far the second time around.  It isn't light or exactly quiet but it works and gives me peace of mind.  I would consider a Freestyle if I were to buy another Medela just because lugging the PISA back and forth to work is a PITA (large and heavy).  I do like the look of the bag itself and I bought this pump because it wasn't attached to the bag...I wanted a pump I could go anywhere with and that wasn't tied down to a bag.  I do think the bag will last through another year of pumping at work, but only time will tell with that.

Lansinoh Lanolin~
Lather on from the first nursing onward and you'll never regret it.  I actually didn't even finish the tube I bought for this go round as I only needed the soothing lanolin for about a week postpartum.  Either way, this is my go to nipple cream and always will be.

Summer Infant Video monitor~
We have an older model of the monitor in the link above, so our handheld doesn't have video on it, but I'd still spend the money on a video monitor all over again.  We have two stories in our house and this monitor has given us such peace of mind.  I love that I can look at baby sleeping before going to bed each night and not have to physically go into the nursery and risk waking baby.  We have the camera mounted on a wall in our nursery.  My only complaint would be that the batteries last such a short time on the hand held monitor that we usually just keep it plugged in.

Activity mat~
I don't believe the one we have is still sold in stores, but there are several that replicate it exactly (just in a different theme).  E and M both LOVED this mat and it's gotten great use with both of them.


My random mom thoughts on other "must have" baby items that maybe aren't such a necessity...

Many moms swear by special swaddle blankets (i.e. Swaddlemes) and sleep sacks, but we've never purchased either nor used them. I find them over priced and unnecessary. We swaddled both babies using regular blankets or the receiving blankets we got from the hospital and it worked just fine at no extra expense for the short time they actually liked the swaddle. Of course both of our little ones weren't swaddled past a week old. They HATED it!

After the swaddle days, I just dress them in sleepers to sleep and cover with a regular blanket at night (which E always kicks off- just like his Dad!). M never was mobile in her sleep until almost a year old and E isn't mobile yet, so I have yet to worry about a blanket being a danger to them while sleeping. If E moves a lot in his sleep I'd reconsider using a blanket, but I wouldn't feel right with him in a sleep sack at that point either.

We also don't use noise machines as we want them to get used to the regular noises of the household. Each child does have a CD player with radio in their room to play lullabies or light music on if we want it.  I also don't own a diaper caddie (a small re-purposed basket works great downstairs and sits between our family room and kitchen), the letters spelling out my little one's name above the crib, and crib mobile.  We have a Bumbo, but use it sparingly (and yes, safely- before the recent recall that adds a seat belt and new warning label to it).  I wouldn't consider it a necessity.  We have the beloved Seahorse many moms rave about, but I also wouldn't consider it a must have...E and M could go either way with it.  M was never attached to hers and it NEVER put her to sleep.  She'd stay awake staring at it.  E likes to look at his, but isn't yet in his crib with it.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

What's Cooking In Our Kitchen

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What's been cooking in our kitchen?  Not food! Unless you count Dream Dinners meals and freezer meals I prepped while pregnant with E. What we've been doing (FINALLY) is some decorating and personalizing.

A few months ago we bought some tile from Lowe's to do a back splash and at long last A.R. was able to install it. It took him pretty much three-four hours for each wall/section he did on five different days with all the cuts he had to make around the outlets, but it came out fabulous and we both love it.

In addition, I sewed some sheer curtains for our solarium off the eat-in portion of our kitchen and then went on the hunt for some red curtains to coordinate with our red couch in our adjacent family room. I couldn't find fabric I liked to sew the curtains myself, so we ended buying them from JC Penny. These pictures don't have the top swag up yet as I still have to order them, but I like the look so far with the pale yellow walls and it ties in well with our adjacent family room.
Horrible lighting, but you get the idea...pale yellow walls, sheers, and majestic red curtains
I was very particular about the tie backs I got as I don't really like the long tasseled kind, I didn't want to screw hooks in the wall, and we wanted to be sure to still let some light in. I found these tie backs (see picture) from Ann & Hope and absolutely love them. I just hope my kids don't figure out how to remove them and use the pin as weapons on each other! ;)

I LOVE how our kitchen, casual dining area, and solarium turned out. It actually feels more like "our" home now with our personal touch.

Our next project is putting up a mantle and fireplace surround in our family room. A.R. wants to hide the cords from the television behind the mantle and in the wall. We hope to have that done before E's baptism party on the twelfth. We shall see! We have all the supplies now to do it except the insulation for the wires, so it's possible.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bubbles!!

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M is currently infatuated with bubbles (what toddler isn't?!), so I wanted to find a homemade recipe that worked so I wouldn't have to spend a fortune on bubble stuff. I found and tested this recipe using corn starch and it worked. It does get better with age like the recipe says. The detergent also makes a difference. I originally made it with Palmolive, but blue Joy worked better.

Homemade bubble solution (from suite101.com):

Ingredients:

1/2 gallon of water
1/2 cup dishwashing liquid (Joy or Dawn works best.)
1/4 cup glycerine, corn syrup, or one package (about 1/4 ounce) of unflavored gelatin.

Directions:

Mix ingredients together in a wide container.
If using immediately, try not to agitate the solution. Foamy solution does not make the best bubbles. If the solution become too foamy, wait for it to settle.
Find straws, tea strainers, funnels, sieves, etc. for making bubbles. Dip these in the bubble solution.
Blow or wave bubbles into the air.
Store any leftover solution in a a closable container. The bubble solution will get better with age.

Operation Garden 2012

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If you've followed my blog awhile you're probably wondering why there hasn't been a garden post yet this year (or not??). We've done a huge vegetable garden in our yard since we moved here back in 2008. This year we had every intention of planting again only half the square footage we normally do. It just never happened because I was too hugely pregnant to get down and dirty and since we don't have our own tiller yet we couldn't justify the cost (and hassle) of renting one for a smaller spot this year.

A.R. does most of the early hard labor tilling the land, so I wouldn't have had to do a ton early on except start seedlings and show him how to plant them. With a new baby due in June I knew my time would be limited to weed and maintain the garden, though, and A.R. doesn't have the patience for weeding. Plus, after our horrible squash bug infestation last year I did some reading and the best way to kill them naturally is to not plant for a season so the eggs die. Since we feed veggies from our garden to our kids not using chemicals is key to us.
We both still really wanted something home grown this year and on a recent trip to Home Depot we decided we didn't have to give it all up. A Topsy Turvy or two hung on our porch would work perfectly! This spring, operation garden 2012 started on our porch. M and A.R. set up our Topsy Turvies together with some serious father-daughter bonding and we also bought a strawberry planter as well. We hope to transplant the strawberries to our yard at the end of the season.
We planted two tomato plants in the Topsy Turvies and they are growing awesome so far. At last count we had just over a half dozen tomatoes growing, but they have yet to ripen. I hope they do soon as we haven't had a home grown tomato since our first summer here. Last year they just didn't grow well and the year before our state had horrible tomato blight and they rotted before ripening. I can't wait to have my first tomato and mayo sandwich this summer!! :)

Next year, I hope our "real" garden will return full swing. We have great plans for it including edging part of it using raspberry and blueberry bushes as a natural fence.

Friday, June 22, 2012

It's a BOY!!

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On June 5th at 1:24am we welcomed our son, Evan, and our family of three became four. He weighed 8lb 4oz and was 20" long (at least that's the length the hospital used- just ten days later at the pedi he was 21 1/4" and she checked twice to be sure! There's no way he grew an inch and a quarter in 10 days.). His Apgars were 8 and 9 and he is just perfect with his tiny nose, long fingers, fuzzy baby hair, and cute little lips.
The adjustment to two kids has been pretty smooth to the point where we keep waiting for the crap to hit the fan and all hell to break loose. We heard lots of horror stories about how tough the transition would be so we were leery at first, but so far so good. To be honest the adjustment from no kids to one was harder for us. This time around we knew what to expect, my milk came in before I left the hospital (which made a huge difference on night #1 at home- i.e. crying hungry baby vs. sleeping happy baby) and maybe we're just used to the sleep deprivation at this point. Yes, E is up in the night and yes, we're tired, but it's nothing like when M came home. Plus, we now have the added bonus of seeing our sweet girl become an awesome big sister. I can't begin to describe how incredibly happy and fulfilled I feel being a mom of two.  I feel so incredibly blessed to have our little family.

Now, the part you've been waiting for...the birth story. I'll do a summary by time first and then type all the nitty gritty details for those who aren't afraid of a little TMI. :) My induction due to gestational diabetes, polyhydramnios, and aging placenta began on June 4th.


Summary by time:
~1pm Pitocin started. Admitted at 2cm 50% effaced, -3 station. Was already having sporadic contractions on my own. Labored for 7 hours this way using Hypnobirthing techniques.
~8pm My OB broke my water at which point I was 2-3cm and 80% effaced.
~9pm AWFUL Pitocin contractions with little break between and some double peaks. At a solid 3cm. Internal monitor placed on baby because he wouldn't stay on the strip and I needed to move around to work through contractions.
~9:40pm Oh sweet relief from epidural. Pitocin was at a 15 (max dose is 21- I wouldn't get above an 18 dosage).
~Just before 11pm had break through pains all over my belly. Rolled to other side and it helped maybe for 30-45 minutes. 4cm dilated


June 5th:
~12am Felt EXTREME pain every contraction in pelvis and pubic area.  Epi boosted. Still 4cm. 
~12:30am Pain worse, epi  boost did nothing. Anesthesia called to my room to check epidural. Now 8cm. Resident and OB called to room as I was progressing quickly. 
~12:40am Felt pressure to push in addition to contractions.  Checked and fully dilated. At the same time Anesthesia arrived to my room to check failed epidural, but it would be too late. 
~1:00am Started pushing.
~1:24am Evan was born!


Bottom line: My epidural failed as I progressed too quickly in the end.  I went from 4cm to complete in 40 minutes.  I felt the entire birth, but it was sure worth it!  The hospital, my OB, and staff were great in working with me so that I could attempt as much of a hypnobirth as I could with the circumstances of the induction.
Long version for those who want the nitty gritty details and aren't scared of a little TMI:
We arrived at the hospital on Monday, June 4th, at 11:30am to begin the induction process and it took a little while to get the orders from my OB and get me hooked up to the IVs.  I discussed my options on how I was to be induced.  I asked for my water to be broken before doing Pitocin in the hopes my body would take over on its own and I could avoid drugs.  This wasn't an option for me as I had polyhydramnios and the baby was still high and the risk of cord prolapse was too great.  Cervadil also wasn't an option since my cervix was already dilated, soft, effaced, and favorable.  Pitocin it was, but at least I asked.  The resident came in and did a quick ultrasound to make sure baby was still head down and then we waited for the IVs to get things rolling.  The first IV didn't take in my left hand, so a different nurse tried again in my right arm.  Pitocin and antibiotics were started.  I was Strep B positive and had to get antibiotics every few hours throughout my labor.
The next seven hours were fairly uneventful as I labored along.  I could feel contractions right away and was contracting every few minutes the entire time using my hypnobirthing techniques to work through the more difficult contractions.  I was able to smile, nap, laugh, talk, watch TV, move around the room, go to the bathroom, and play on my phone (I even read some of Fifty Shades of Grey on iBook on my phone!) throughout this time.  I labored for awhile in the rocking chair, on the birthing ball, and various positions in bed.  Our sweet boy was stubborn and wouldn't stay on the monitor, so our nurse kept having me rotate in and out of bed so she could make sure he was handling the Pitocin okay.  My nurse during this time (until 11pm) was fabulous.  I can't remember her name other than it was unique and not one I'd heard before.  She respected my birth plan or what was left of it and didn't say certain key words ("pain", "hurt", asking me to rate it on a scale, etc.), she kept our room lights dimmed, and when things got more intense she spoke with A.R. instead of interrupting my concentration.  The most annoying thing during this time period was the blood pressure checks- that cuff HURT!- and what felt like constant glucose checks.  At 7:30 my OB came by wanting to break my water so that I got a bit more uncomfortable as my Pitocin dosage was already at a 15 and increasing, but I was still comfortable and not really dilating, just effacing.  I knew that once my water was broken things would get intense, so I procrastinated for about a half hour to prepare myself mentally, got my hypnobirth music and headphones ready, and then gave the okay.
At 8pm my OB broke my water and it felt like she was digging for my brains from my nether region. At this point I was 2-3cm and 80% effaced.  A.R. held my hand through it thank goodness.  Then the flood gates opened and fluid kept coming and coming and coming.  They had me cough a few times (easy to do with my cold) and it would just keep pouring out.  Then, I'd move or have another contraction and I'd flood the bed again.  I knew I had a lot of fluid thanks to the polyhydramnios, but holy cow it felt like it was never going to stop.  My OB checked to make sure no cord prolapsed and we were left to keep laboring on.  Both my nurse and the resident kept saying they had never seen so much fluid even from a polyhydramnios patient.  Just when my nurse thought she could leave, I'd have another huge gush and have a puddle on the towel and she'd have to clean me up again.  I had so much fluid that even the towels they used couldn't keep up and I'd be in a puddle.  SO GROSS!!  Almost immediately the contractions became much more intense and I went into the zone with my hypnobirthing tracks.  E moved once again off the monitors being the Houdini that he was and after a little while the nurse came back to ask if they could do an internal monitor so I could still move around like I wanted.  I quickly gave the okay and an internal monitor was placed and I was already at a solid 3cm at 9pm.  At this point I was laboring sitting up during each contraction, but was on my back in bed between them.  I asked to get back on the birthing ball after the monitor was placed.
The birthing ball wasn't helping at all, so I resorted to standing and leaning over the bed and swaying back and forth while A.R. put counter pressure on both of my hips and squeezed them during contractions.  I knew pretty quickly with no break between contractions and double peaks and only being 3cm, that I wouldn't be able to labor like this for long and I asked for the epidural.  I was very disappointed, but remember telling A.R. I was no hero and that the Pit contractions were just too strong.  At 9:40 anesthesia arrived and started their whole legal mumbo jumbo about getting an epidural and she kept pausing during contractions.  I finally just told her to keep talking and that I was listening and she laughed.  I got set up for the procedure and was told I have great spaces in my spine.  Definitely not a compliment I've heard before, that's for sure!  I got slow relief once the epidural was in and immediately laid back down and fell fast asleep.  I was exhausted from the 8 hours and 40 minutes of labor I had already gone through.  I woke up around 11pm feeling some break through pain all over my belly with contractions and the nurse had me switch sides to see if the epidural would redistribute and help.  It did for awhile and I was able to snooze a little more, but was soon woken up once again with break through pain.  This time the pain was below the belt all along my pelvis and mostly in my pubic bone.
I asked the nurse about it and she checked me to see if I had dilated anymore and I was now at 4cm and since I still had a ways to go she tried boosting my epidural.  Twenty minutes later the pain was worse.  Much worse.  A resident came in and said if by 12:30 it wasn't better to call my nurse again.  It wasn't better, it was unbearable.  I was in tears with every contraction and nearly breaking two of A.R.'s fingers as he let me squeeze them during each contraction.  The nurse checked to see if she could boost my epidural again (she couldn't) and called anesthesia.  I started saying something was wrong.  I felt like my pubic bone was being sawed in two with each contraction and was convinced the baby's head was too big and stuck.  I was literally thinking to myself that I'd be okay with them just cutting the baby out at this point it hurt so bad. The nurse thought I might be progressing quickly all of a sudden, so she asked to check me and sure enough I was now 8cm and +1 station.  I was feeling the baby descend through the pelvis super quickly and had dilated 4cm in a half hour.  The nurse called once again for anesthesia, but warned me I might be progressing too quickly and that it may not be in time, but encouraged me that I could do this.  I was holding my breathe during contractions and hyperventilating a bit, so my nurse and Alexi helped me to remember my breathing techniques and during contractions I would squeeze Alexi's hand, cry, and sometimes even pound his thigh with my other fist as I laid on my left side.  I kept asking how could I be fine and sleeping one minute and writhing in pain the next and Chris just explained that sometimes if you progress really quickly the epidural can't keep up and fails, but she was encouraging and said I could do it and she'd help me through it.
In the meantime, the nurse had called for a table to be set up to prep for delivery and asked that my OB be called to the floor.  The nurse's station paged my room and asked why she wanted the OB.  Nobody believed I was progressing that quickly except my nurse, Chris!  When the resident arrived to set up the table she asked again why they wanted the OB already and my nurse said I just went from 4cm to 8 and +1 station in 30 minutes and it wouldn't be long now.   As the nurse and resident left my room for a second to check on anesthesia again, I began to feel the pressure in my tailbone area and bum.  I knew this sensation from my other births and told the nurse when she walked back in.  The resident asked if she could check me again and sure enough she said there was no cervix at 1am.  A.R. and I looked at each other thinking "oh shit!" that it meant I was going backwards and I was about to just ask them to knock me out and cut the baby out (vulgar, I know!).  Chris (our nurse) laughed and said nope, you're complete and ready to push.  The baby's head is already right there.  I asked to lie on my other side thinking maybe it would help spread the epidural better to my below the belt region (it didn't) and as I laid there I started pushing on my own.  Our awesome nurse helped hold my leg as I pushed on my side and called one last time for anesthesia.  Right then anesthesia walked in along with my fabulous OB.  He did boost my epidural dose as my OB and nurse helped me lie back on my back and prep the bed for delivery as they could already see the baby's head.
A.R. asked the nurse if the boost was going to work since we could already see the baby and my nurse (trying to hide it from me) shook her head no.  It was too late.  I just progressed 6cm (from 4-10) and the baby completely descended in 40 minutes.  She kept saying how crazy fast that it was!  When I saw her shake her head no, I just said "oh crap".  I guess I was getting my "natural" birth on Pitocin contractions.  She had turned off my Pitocin drip when she saw I was 8cm to let my body handle things.  I asked for a mirror so I could watch the birth this time and it really helped to see what the pushing did.  Pushing did help relieve the pain in my pelvis and pubic bone, but holy hell it hurt every where else.  I started to feel a burning sensation as things stretched out when I pushed and started cheating only doing it halfway.  My OB noticed and said to push harder, but to rest for a minute.  I told her it burned like a mother (that ring of fire you hear moms who birth naturally talk about) and it felt like I was going to split into two.  I was scared of tearing even though she was rubbing oil and massaging the area to help.  Everyone laughed and said that burning was good, the baby would crown soon and I had to push through it.  My nurse reminded me that as soon as I pushed through it, I'd get instant relief when the baby was born.  That ring of fire is no joke!
The next contraction I gave it all I had.  I pushed twice (my nurses and doctors were great in letting me follow my body's cues like the hypnobirth method follows- there was no counting or coaching, I did it on my own as I felt the contractions) and after the second push I was about to give up and wait for the next contraction when I decided in my head to give it one last go.  I pushed a third time with the same contraction and from what appeared to be a sliver of baby's head maybe an index finger in width and length soon popped out a baby head and I watched as my son was born.  It was breath taking and amazing.  As soon as his body was born my OB moved him and I saw it was a boy and told A.R. with tears in my eyes.  We had a son!  He cried right away and was immediately placed on my chest where we gazed into each other's eyes, I checked his hands and stroked his face/head/cheek, and bonded.  We did delayed cord cutting and A.R. got to cut the cord.  He was surprised at how tough it was, but was thrilled he got to do it this time (he couldn't with M as the doctor did it before she was even fully born because it was strangling her).  Oh the joy that was in the room...it was toxic.  M had a brother.  We had a son.  A little while after A.R. cut the cord they took our sweet E and weighed him and I kept saying how little he was and that he looked nothing like M as a newborn.  The doctors laughed at me when I said he was little.  For them, he was a big newborn but compared to my 2 year old he was tiny!  E actually weighed 2 oz less than M at birth, but he was also a week early.
While they were weighing and cleaning up E, I glimpsed in the mirror one last time only to see the damage post birth.  I won't do that again!  I had a small one degree tear requiring one stitch (YAY for no episiotomy this time) and a small lateral tear adjacent to my urethra requiring 4-5 stitches.  My OB moved the mirror before I got the stitches thank goodness.  I actually felt the stitches being threaded through me and asked if that was normal.  After that I got a local to numb me up and I was handed back my sweet burrito baby. :)  A.R. hadn't even gotten to hold him yet, so I asked him if he wanted a turn and I fell in love with my husband all over again as I watched him hold our tiny new baby.  There is just something about watching the man you love hold such a tiny bundle as he kisses and whispers things in the baby's ear only they can hear.  Once we were left alone, I nursed E for the first time as A.R. called his mom to tell her that her newest grandchild was here.  We were totally mean and didn't say the baby's sex until she came to the hospital later that afternoon with M.  She was so excited to welcome her 6th grandson.  M is still the princess of the family...the only girl in a sea of boys, but she wears her crown well!  I called my parents to tell them the happy news and then we just stared at our boy in awe and waited to be moved to our postpartum room.  It started to sink in that we have a son AND a daughter.  Holy cow!
I definitely recommend hypnobirthing to all moms to be looking for a natural birth option and I will do another post about it.  I will be using it again for our next little one (yup, we are crazy and already talking about a third baby to complete our family) and praying that I won't need an induction or Pitocin.   Also, I will for sure use a mirror again.  Watching my son be born was something I will never forget and I wish, I wish I could have had it on video (our hospital doesn't allow it)- no it wouldn't show my goods just the moment itself in meeting our child.  It is a miracle and beautiful to see your child born and I only wish I had asked for a mirror for M's birth.  Since E's birth my gestational diabetes appears to be completely gone.  I won't know for sure until I do another glucose test 6-12 weeks postpartum.  I have to go to the lab and do a 2-hour glucose test and drink that gross orange cola again.  BLECH!  E has been okay since birth as well.  His first blood sugar was normal, but his second was too low.  He did have to have an ounce of formula in the nursery to raise it back up, but has been fine since.  I'm annoyed he had to have the formula and they didn't let him try to nurse again first.  I just tell myself it's better safe than sorry and the important thing is he is fine and they did feed it to him via dropper versus an artificial nipple.

Happy birthday sweet Evan!  We are so incredibly blessed to be able to welcome you to our family.  And now what you've been waiting for....PICTURES!