5.31.2014

My Claire Bear

i do not have any idea when this little girl started looking so grown up, but goodness gracious, this girl is beautiful! i've been dying to photograph here is this precious dress i bought for here a few months ago. i am so happy with how these photos came out. i also can't believe my baby girl is already nineteen months old and will be two years in a matter of months.


she was chasing after a bird. the only way i could get her to stop running was to ask her to show me where the bird was and snap snap snap away!

i gave her a rock to hold because she 1. loves rocks and 2.would stay still for maybe two seconds in order for me to meter her and shoot a semi-decent photograph. This one is one of my favorites. Ever!

i am not entirely sure why she was looking at her feet but gosh, i love this photograph. it is so innocent and sweet and completely unstaged.

another sweet photo of her observing her environment. the next-door neighbor's dog was barking and i used that opportunity to my advantage. i kept asking her questions about where the dog was and what noise dog makes... and so on. she was engaged enough to stay in one spot long enough for me to capture this gem.

i hope to be able to get some nice photographs of teddy and claire together sometime in the very near future.

5.18.2014

Postpartum: the second time around

Before having Claire, one of the most freighting thing about having a baby was the aftermath. I was freaked out after hearing horror stories from women and couldnt help be feel super anxious about what was to come.

After having Claire, I felt thankful for such an easy recovery. I had a second degree tear from her delivery and ended up with a few stitches. Of course it was uncomfortable, but it wasn't nearly as horrible as I had imagined. I think the worst part of recovery was the exhaustion.

You can read her birth story here.

If it wasn't exhausting enough going through such a long induction without any pain medicine, I ended up delivering at 12:32 am. Of course both sides of our families were still at the hospital, waiting for that little princess to make her grand appearance. So, after the nurses got my room cleaned up decent, everyone came in to see her. By that time, it was at least 1 am. After they left, I got to shower and finally got transferred to our recovery room... around 4 am.

Family shower up bright and early the next day to see our precious girl. Not that I blame them, but holy crap I was tired and couldn't rest with people coming in and out all day. I also remember my arms being so weak and sore from pushing, that I could just barely lift Claire out of her bassinet at the hospital.

When we were released from the hospital, I was still exhausted and weak weak weak!

Luckily, my mom had been holding down the fort at our house and "babysitting" our dog. We came home and she stayed a while to help us since Matt was still having a lot of trouble with his broken arm. (you can read about that nightmare here)

Each day, my arms got a little stronger. I very slowly regained my energy.

Claire took to breastfeeding really well, but I still was very sore for a few weeks. I realize I had an easy journey compared to some, but hot dang those first few weeks were rough!

This time around, everything was infinitely easier.

I am positive the fast and easy labor was a big factor in my recovery. Three pushes and BOOM! There was my boy.


I did tear again, but only the scar tissue from Claire's delivery so that was pretty easy to deal with. I wasn't nearly as tired (even though I didn't sleep the night before he was born) because he was born late morning. Nursing has been super easy this time around. I think I was only sore for 3 or 4 days. Waahoo!

I was lucky to only gain 12 pounds, all of which I lost within 3 days after delivery. Since then, I've been able to lose an additional 15 pounds. I'm at 5.5 weeks postpartum and I feel great (aside from being worn out from multiple nighttime feeding and a teething, miserable toddler)! I really need to work on getting rid of the jelly belly I have accumulated as a result of two children, and toning up my non-existing butt.. that I used to have!

I feel so blessed to have two healthy children!



























5.16.2014

I'm sooo going there.

I've been debating whether or not to write this post. And today, I finally decided to go for it.

First and foremost. What I'm going to "say" is not meant to attack anyone who has a differing viewpoint.

Second, I am not looking for anyone's opinion and I really, really am not going to debate anyone if they think I'm crazy or ignorant. I am neither of those and if you say I am, so be it. I don't judge people for making the decisions they make, so do not judge me. If you do, please don't bother telling me. It won't matter and your comments will not change my mind.

With that being said, I also want to add that the only reason I decided to write this is due to the overwhelming number of stories I've been reading regarding injured children. I am also writing this because I feel like I need to. I feel the need to share what I've learned because I don't think enough people question our society and the "norm".

Okay, there.

Off I go...

When I was pregnant with Claire, my mother and I had a serious chat about vaccines. We discussed what I was going to do once Claire was born. At the time, there wasn't any question whether I was going to vaccinate her. That's what I'm supposed to do, right? Isn't that what everyone does?

The conversation started after I read an article in Parenting magazine that scared the crap out of me. It basically said that if you don't vaccinate your children then you're basically signing them up for a laundry list of terrible infectious diseases. It criticized parents who chose not to vaccinate their children and blamed those parents for the the rise of pertussis and other diseases. I felt like I was making the right choice because I didn't want my precious daughter to get sick. I certainly didn't want her to get sick if there was something I could do to prevent it (by immunizing her).

If you have been reading my blog for a while, then you know how much time I spent researching natural labor/delivery methods while I was pregnant. During that research, I stumbled across an article about the Hepatitis B vaccine. Along with the vitamin K shot and eye ointment, the Hep B was one of the things on the "normal after-birth routine". After reading that article, I started to question whether it was necessary for my one day old to get the shot. I mean, she wasn't going to be sharing needles or having sex, so why should she need it?

Because it's routine?  Naah. That's not a good enough of a reason for my to give her a shot of something I don't think she needs.

That's when I opened Pandora's Box. Well, kind of like that.

That's when I began reading and researching and questioning the vaccines our children get.

I still hadn't decided whether or not Claire was going to immunized with all, some, or none of the recommended vaccines on the CDC's schedule. I did, however, decide that she wasn't going to get the Hep B vaccine.

After she was born, I had to sign a waiver that I declined the vaccine before I could even leave the hospital. I felt confident in my decision and no one made me feel inferior.

Once we got home, I started thoroughly researching everything that surrounds vaccines. I read peer-reviewed articles and vaccine package inserts. I watched several documentaries. I read medical studies and personal stories of vaccine-injured parents. I researched the diseases themselves- how you contract them, the risks associated with contracting them, and their prominence in the states.

Matt and I spent many hours discussing whether or not to vaccinate Claire, and in the end we decided to opt out.

When Claire went to her two-month well-visit, I expected her doctor to try to talk us into vaccinating her. He didn't though. He didn't even bat an eye. What I did find surprising was when his nurse quietly said to me "You're smart for waiting, and I wish more people would wait".

Ummm... seriously?!

I was floored. But in a good way. I thought we would walk out feeling belittled for making the unpopular choice to delay vaccinating our baby. It only made me feel that much more confident in our decision. Not that I needed anyone's approval to make it feel valid.

To be completely honest, the biggest reason we decided to delay them had more to do with my gut-feeling, not because of everything I had read. Or maybe I had that feeling due to the startling information I had read in the previous months. Either way, it was what it was.

Claire hasn't been vaccinated. Not a single one.

She's now 19 months old and hasn't had more than a fever. The three fevers she did experience were due to some extreme teething. Seems like she always gets 4 teeth in at a time... poor kid.

She's never had an ear infection. She has never had a cough. I've never had to clean up vomit.

Now, I must say that she doesn't go to daycare, so maybe that helps a little. However, this girl chews on her shoes, eats off tables when we are out to dinner. She drops things at church and puts them in her mouth, and even sucks/chews on the pews. Apparently shes never going to stop putting things in her mouth... kinda like a bad dog ;)

She managed to remain unscathed when I had the flu last year. She beat off the stomach flu that nana and papa brought to our house while I was in the hospital with Teddy... daddy ended up with it though.

I can't help but feel like our choice to skip vaccines have helped her. Her little (but strong) immune system has never been suppressed so it's always been building stronger and stronger.

Naturally, we have also decided to decline all vaccines for Teddy too.

Matt and I originally discussed delaying them until Claire and Teddy (and any of our future children) were ready to go to school, but after my continuous research, we have decided against them indefinitely.

Along with a healthy diet and exercise, I think we will be able to raise healthy children with strong immune systems. If the kids end up with an illness, I fell modern medicine will be able to help them get through it and give them permanent and natural immunity.

Here are some very powerful and eye-opening stats about vaccines that you may not know:
* Most of the children who get pertussis are those who have been vaccinated.  (read this)

*The risks associated with vaccinating your child are greater than the chance of him/her actually getting the disease itself.

* The DTaP package insert lists autism and SIDS as an adverse reaction (page 11, third paragraph):
"Adverse events reported during post-approval use of Tripedia vaccine include idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, SIDS, anaphylactic reaction, cellulitis, autism, convulsion/grand mal convulsion, encephalopathy, hypotonia, neuropathy, somnolence and apnea. Events were included in this list because of the seriousness or frequency of reporting."

* While the VAERS recieves 30,000 reports annually, the FDA estimates that only 20% of reactions are reported.

The following graph shows the amount of money that has been paid as a result of vaccine injury claims. The money awarded comes out of an account set aside for people that will be injured by vaccines. The money comes from taxes imposed on vaccines themselves. More info here.


This one breaks down the claims by vaccines. It also shows the number of injuries and deaths reported. The sad thing is that
source
This chart speaks for itself and needs no explanation.
source
How some of the ingredient in vaccines can effect the body


Here are some very informational websites/documentaries that we utilized to make our decision.
The Greater Good (video/documentary)
Silent Epidemic: The Untold Story of Vaccines (video/documentary)
Gianelloni Family (blog, with tons of links)
Vaccine Ingredient List
How "Vaccine Court" works

When it all boils down, you have to do what you think is best for your child(ren). Basically, you have to go with your gut, and that's what I did. But please, please, please, be informed.

4.24.2014

Meet Theodore Leo

After being induced with Claire, I had really high hopes of being able to go into labor on my own with Teddy. While Claire's labor and delivery (read about it here) was an amazingly, beautiful experience, it was incredibly intense due to the Pitocin.

This is very lengthy! Sorry in advance.

The day before
Claire and I drove to my 39 week appointment on Wednesday afternoon, all by ourselves. Typically Matt would come with us but he has been on steady daylights and couldn't make it to this appointment. To be honest, I wasn't worried about it at all. I had a feeling that I was going to go past my due date, just like I did with Claire.

I thought it would be a good idea to put Claire in her stroller while we were in the doctor's office. She's a busy body and since I was going to have my midwife sweep my membranes, I thought it was the smartest thing to do.

We checked in and headed to the bathroom to give my urine sample. Claire had a couple little snacks and watched some Tom and Jerry while we waited to be called back. After about ten minutes the nurse called us back and started our check-up.

To my surprise, my blood pressure was high. Like 160/100 high. WHOA! How on earth could it be so high? I wasn't feeling stressed at all. As a matter of fact, I felt pretty great. I told the nurse how Jen was going to be sweeping my membranes and she laughed and said, "Really? She did another patient's yesterday and she delivered this morning!"

After hearing  that, I was officially looking forward to my procedure! I immediately started praying it would help get my body ready to go into labor by itself.

After the nurse left, my midwife came in. She started the appointment off by sweeping my membranes. Wow. It was painful. I remember it being uncomfortable when she preformed it last time ( when I was 40 weeks pregnant with Claire) but holy cow! Oww weeee! She told me I was only 1 cm and that my cervix was really posterior. Hence the reason it hurt so bad. She said I was softening up nicely but didn't think I was going to be going into labor anytime soon.

SHOOT! Not what I wanted to hear! I mean, I was ready to be done with this pregnancy. It's been a very healthy pregnancy but I was just ready to meet my little guy.

We discussed my blood pressure and she was a little concerned. My urine wasn't showing any traces of protein, so that was good. She wanted the nurse to check it again before we headed over to labor/delivery for a NST. So my midwife left and the nurse came back in. My blood pressure came down a titch, but was still too high for comfort.

I got dressed and made the two minute trip down the road to the hospital. We registered and headed up to maternity. They got me hooked up to the monitors immediately. Since I couldn't chase Claire around the room, she chilled out in her stroller and played, ate, and chattered away.
 
Teddy looked fantastic! Thank God! My blood pressure, on the other hand, did not. It was still high. My midwife and I were hoping that after I settled down a little, it would come down, but it wasn't and I was starting to get a little nervous. They took me off the monitors so I could give another urine sample, along with some bloodwork.

Claire and I played while we waited. By this time it was 3:30. My first appointment started at 1:15. Claire had only had an hour nap and neither of us had eaten lunch. I called the nurse and she brought us some graham crackers. So we snacked on those while we waited for my results to come back.

Bloodwork came back just fine. Urine. Um, not so much. In the two hours since I gave my first sample in the doctors office, protein started to accumulate in my urine. Not a good sign.

After a little wait, my midwife showed up and discussed that I would most likely be staying the night and being induced in the morning. She was sure that this was all a sign of pre-eclampsia. She left us alone while she called the ob and came back with the official news: I was going to be induced. I called Matt and he left work. He had to stop at home and shower and pick up my bags. I called my mother who immediately left work and headed straight to the hospital (a 3 hour drive).

Damn!

As much as I wanted to meet this little guy, I was not looking forward to the induction itself. The good news was that I wasn't going to get the pitocin until the following morning. The plan was to have cervidil inserted and then start the pitocin in the am if my cervix did what it was supposed to do (soften and dilate). If not, another round of cervidil would be given and then pitocin would be started 12 hours afterwards.

Okay, seriously, I was frightened. I mean, I.was.scared. I was afraid I wouldn't respond to either rounds of cervidil and that the pitocin wouldn't work and then I would end up with a c-section. Surgery scares the crap out of me.
Anyways, Claire and I were moved to a delivery suite, the room where my darling Teddy bear was going to be born (hopefully). Nurses came in and went through all my paperwork, got my hep-loc placed, and went through the plan again. After we were "settled" Claire wrecked havoc by squealing and giggling and scattering all her toys around the room (thank God I brought her "hospital toy bag" with us).

It was about 6:15 when Matt finally arrived. I was exhausted. Claire had been such a good little girl, especially given the circumstances, but she is busy and she hadn't had a good meal since breakfast. Not to mention the fact that she was gettig tired.

My midwife came in around 6:30 and inserted the cervidil. I had to lay flat on my back for 2 hours in order for it to comform to my body. It was dreadful. My lower back had hurt for so long and that 2 hours on my back was hell. After that, I would be able to get up and move around as normal. I had to have this in for 12 hours. She told me that 2/10 women go into labor after cervidil is placed, and that 2 out of the remaining 8 usually had to have another one. She wished me well and told me to have the nurses call if I needed anything. She said she'd be back in the morning to take it out and see how I progressed.

My mom arrived around 7:30 and hung out a while before taking Claire home. Matt and I sat and talked about what the next day was going to bring. I told him my fears and he eased them, like always. He ordered some pizza and we sat in our room and ate as parents of one for the last time.

I decided to take a hot bath so I could get myself calm and relaxed because I knew I needed lots of rest for the day to come. The nurse came in and started my bath. After ten minutes or so she came back to check on it when she noticed the water was a yellowish-brown. Umm... no thanks! She immediately switched my room and got the other bath started for me. No discolored water this time!

Shortly after I got out, my mom called and asked to speak to Matt. Uh oh. That couldn't be good. Come to find out, the tank on the back of our downstairs toilet had cracked and there was water all over our downstairs hallway, closet, and down into our laundry room.

Fantastic!

I assured Matt that I would be fine and told him that he should go home and help my mom clean up and get some rest himself. He did as I asked... happy wife, happy life ;)

I settled down and watched a little tv. I snacked on some graham crackers and ginger ale. I finally passed out around 11:30.

My nurse came in to check on Teddy's heart rate around 2:30. I had been able to fall asleep all the other times she came in but I noticed a couple of contractions and I made myself stay awake to see if they were consistent. They were just little contractions, but stronger than the Braxton hicks that I've been experiencing for weeks on end. It seemed to me like they were semi-regular and when I realized that, I couldn't sleep. No way!

Could it be true?! Could my body be going into labor?! It seemed too good to be true. I watched the hours go by. I was running on adrenaline and while I knew it wouldn't last forever, I couldn't ignore what was going on with my body. I was far too excited and nervous and anxious. I wanted to get out of bed and start walking the halls. I knew I couldn't because I had to be monitored at all times while the cervidil was still intact.

At 6, my nurse came in and removed the cervidil. She confirmed that my contractions were definitely following a pattern and that they were getting regular and stronger. She measured me and said she thought I was 1.5 cm. She expressed that my cervix had come forward and that it was nice and soft. Looks like the medicine did it's job. Waahoo!

I had to lay down and be monitored for 20 minutes but after that I was allowed to get up and move around. First, I called Matt and told him what was going on and that he had better get his butt in gear. Knowing my midwife would be there soon, I got a quick shower and waited for the two of them to arrive. I got my ipad out and started jamming and bouncing on the medicine ball. I was determined to get this labor on the road.


And so it begins
My midwife arrived around 7:15 and I asked her if we could skip the Pitocin (because I felt like I was progressing beautifully on my own). She happily obliged. While I bounced, two of us talked for a while.

Goodness I love that woman!!

Matt arrived shortly after and after talking, we decided to check my progress. From 6:00 to 8:00, I had dilated (from 1.5 cm) to almost 4 cm! I was thrilled.

She asked me if I wanted her to break my water. She told me that she thought it would help get things moving along and since I wanted to avoid Pitocin, I agreed. After that interesting event (omg, it felt like I was peeing myself) my midwife left to see her patients at her office. My contractions got noticeably stronger almost immediately.

I continued to bounce on the ball. I loved having the upbeat music- it helped me focus. I concentrated on each and every contraction. In between them, I texted friends and family and that took my mind off the impending wave.

It was when I started to get really uncomfortable and had to focus my breathing, that I decided to hop in the tub. Laboring in the tub is incredible. It's relaxing and helped me focus on my body. During each contraction, Matt held the hand-held shower head on my belly button and it relieved a lot of the discomfort. I started to get over heated so I got out. The nurse came in to check lil man's heart and my blood pressure. Teddy looked great and my blood pressure was super high.

I had to get into bed for twenty minutes so she could get a trace of his heart rate. She thought that laying down may help my blood pressure. Once again, baby bear looked fantastic! However, my blood pressure wasn't. She let me get back in the tub. This time, I sat width wise in the tub (instead of length-wise). I rested my head on the back and slouched down indian-style to keep my pelvis as open as possible.

Through each contraction, Matt was there telling me how amazing I was doing, all while holding the shower head on my belly button.  He is such an amazing birth doula!

Believe me when I say that this labor was the most incredible experience in my entire life. I mean, I could actually feel my precious baby move through the birth canal. It was unbelievable. Absolutely amazing.

I continued telling myself that my baby was coming into the world and each contraction brought me closer to meeting him. I told myself that my body is strong and it knows exactly what it is doing. Birth affirmations, anyone? I breathed in slowly through my nose and out slowly through my mouth. Pushing/breathing the pain away with each exhale.

It was about 10:30 when my midwife came back in to check on me. I was getting super strong contractions, but nothing like I had experienced with Claire's labor. She had me hop out of the tub and she checked me once more. I had asked the nurse to run me a new bath because it was getting kinda funky. If you've had a baby before, you know what I'm talking about.

I was 6-7 cms this time. I felt slightly disappointed and very nervous because I knew that transition was coming and I knew it was the hardest part of labor. They had me lay down for 10 minutes to get another trace on Teddy. Being on my back was terrible. It was this position that brought back labor, something that is far more painful (in my opinion) than any contraction. My midwife said she had 3 more patients to see and that she would be back in about 45 minutes. She left and I got out of bed and started heading back to the tub.

At this point, the contractions had intensified by one thousand and I was trying to figure out how to be most comfortable during each one. Once I made it to the bathroom, I leaned over onto a little chair and held onto it's handles and squatted as far down as I could... though my knees were barely bent. I did this for 3 or 4 contractions.

I remember my nurse standing in my room, doing something... I don't know what. But I screamed. Oh no! OMG! I HAVE TO PUSH! I grunted and cried. I groaned and my body pushed instinctively, all on it's own.

My nurse told me to try to hold back my pushes and she ran out the door to call my midwife. I stood in the bathroom and moaned and tried to hold my body back from doing the most natural thing it knows. I wasn't able to control myself each time. I have absolutely no idea how my midwife got to the hospital so quickly. She seriously must have sprinted from her office, which is about a block down the street from the hospital. I think she may have only been gone twenty minutes. She checked me while I was standing up and said I was complete, only a small lip of cervix left. She had me make my way out to the bed. She let me push a couple times standing up while they got all everything set up.

I really, really didn't want to get into that bed. I think it was because I was afraid of pushing. I pushed for two hours with Claire and I really feared that it was going to happen this time around.

Despite my fears, I got myself into bed and with the next contraction, I pushed. Not a great one, but I pushed. Next one came and I pushed as hard as I could have pushed. And I could not stop pushing. Matt looked at me and told me to breath. I didn't want to let it go. I felt him coming and I just wanted him out. My midwife and nurse told me to take a break and breath, and that they could see his head.

The next contraction came and I pushed with all my might. I remember screaming and then hearing him cry.

At exactly 11:30 am, my beautiful Theodore entered the outside world! Happy Birthday baby boy! Oh yeah, happy birthday to me too! Yes, we share a birthday!!

He was placed on my chest, where he stayed for the next half hour. Matt cut the cord after it stopped pulsating. I delivered the placenta (on my own this time). I had to have a few stitches and I felt each and everyone of them! Owww weeeeee!


After trying to nurse him, I gave Matt a chance to hold our new son. The nurse noticed he was making a funny noise so she took him to the nursery to check on him. He seemed to be doing fine, so she brought him back to our room.

In the meantime my in-laws arrived with Miss Claire. She was absolutely amazed when she saw her little brother. She knew his name and immediately gave him a kiss. It made me cry. Seriously, it was the sweetest moment in my life.

She weighed and measured him. Mr. Theodore weighed 8 pounds and 5 ounces and was 21.25 inches long. What a big boy!

He was still showing some signs of distressed breathing, so my nurse took him back to the nursery. I was able to take a nap when everyone went to lunch. My parents and aunt arrived and we all went to see my little man. It was hard seeing him in the nursery and not be able to hold him. I wanted to hold him and nurse him and get to know him. But I couldn't. He had to be left alone to rest. I cried. A lot.

After an x-ray and a thorough check-up with the pediatrician, he was able to come back to his momma. He finally nursed and we've been in heaven since.


 


 

11.16.2013

a holiday challenge

i'm not talking about a diet challenge. i'm talking about a give-your-heart type of challenge.

since matt and i got married, we vowed to always give at christmastime. not to one another, but to someone less fortunate. this will be our seventh year of giving. typically, we choose two kiddos from the angel tree at our post office- we've always picked a boy and a girl. we go shopping, bring the goods home and wrap them up. on a special date, we deliver the gifts to a designated drop-off location. it's the best feeling ever.

sadly, last year, we didn't do any and i feel terrible about it. we were in a rough spot due to matt's injury and work situation and we didn't feel like we were in the position to do it. but now, when i think about it, we could have done something. after all, something is better than nothing.

this year will be different. we will be giving to three little ones. one for each one of us. if that means we don't buy as much for claire, that's a-okay. she has everything she needs plus so much more.

when you work in the school district, you see a lot of children in sad positions. so many of the student's clothes are tattered, dirty, and too small for their growing bodies. it breaks my heart. i tend to see a lot in the school i work in and it's something i will ever get used to.

so, friends, i challenge you to give. give to someone less fortunate this season. wether you donate time, money, food to a pantry, or gifts to a local charity {or the toys for tots}. do something. please. there are so many children who deserve to have a warm meal and something under their tree on christmas morning. you can make that happen.