Catching Up!

I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve posted.. 20 days!! 20!!!!

To be honest my friends, I have been so entirely overwhelmed and tired.  So I thought I would just tell you all a little about what’s been going on in my life these last (almost) 3 weeks.

Little G is due in 7 weeks now.  It doesn’t even seem possible!  So any time in the next 3-7 weeks (I’m personally hoping for somewhere around 5), I will finally get to hold her.  It’s been a long road, and I’ve been very tired, sore, and the whole lot of it these last few weeks.  You know the deal, especially repeat mamas.. things stretch and ache and hurt even sooner every time!  But I’m keeping my chin up, and only complaining occasionally!  Her room is nearly ready.  We painted it once and the color is entirely wrong, so that’s hopefully getting fixed this week.  And then all of the baby items have to come out of the attic.. that will be next week.

D1 and D2 are loving preschool this year.  They are so incredibly tired when they come home, but they’re having a blast while they’re there and I couldn’t ask for a better school to send them too!  They’re very excited about the upcoming arrival of their sister and have been telling everyone all about her.  WIth the cooler weather, they’ve actually been even more active, which has been a challenge being stuck in the house most days.  D1 has actually been asking when it will snow so that he can throw a snowball at daddy.. please kid, give it a few more weeks at least!

The last few weeks, and next few weeks, have been some of my busiest ever in my career.  We have so many new fun and exciting things coming up.  It’s been craziness some days, but that’s a good thing.  In the midst of it all, I’ve been working with the people who will be replacing me while I’m on maternity leave, so some days it’s double duty.

And my books.  I felt the need to take a little break from writing to actually do some reading.  I absolutely love to read and I read quite a few books over the last few weeks.  I feel refreshed and I may even share some reviews with you on the ones I read!  My taste is all over the place with what I like, but I may even do a book review or two in the coming weeks!

So that’s really about all.. when I’m not chasing a toddler or working, I’ve been attempting to relax as much as possible.  Of course, now that I’ve had a little break, you can expect a multitude of posts coming from me in the next few days and weeks!

Life With Toddlers and Preschoolers

Life gets crazy sometimes, or at least mine does.  A toddler and a preschooler running around, and another baby on the way very soon, combined with work and life in general- it just gets crazy.  We’ve all read the funny posts about “how to enjoy your morning coffee in 73 steps with a toddler,” or how frivolous it sometimes can be to attempt to clean your house with a toddler (I recall something relating it to eating Oreos while brushing your teeth).  While all of these are true, and often hilarious, I truly hope that it is all what we as mothers, as parents, expected before having our children.  I knew that my house would be messier than I would like and my back would ache quite often, and while I can’t say that these things excite me, I am content with the small bumps along the way because I am raising smart, healthy, happy children.

But there a few things that I never thought would be so hard to keep up with, most of them so obvious that it’s comical, and I wanted to share those!

  • LAUNDRY.  I am aware that there are days each person in my house wears 2+ outfits (pajamas, clothes, sometimes replaced by different clothes after school or work).. but I am telling you that my laundry gets together and has laundry babies.  Because there’s just no other explanation for the amount of laundry we produce on a daily.. weekly.. monthly basis!  Not only have the clothes themselves grown (obviously my 3 year old isn’t still wearing tiny newborn clothes), but they just must be multiplying..
  • Other Laundry.  On top of the clothes, there are all of the things you never thought of when there were just the two of you.  Sure, maybe once a week you had to wash sheets or towels.. how about every 3 days?  Not only do the clothes grow as the children grow, but so do the size of their bed sheets and towels!  (I won’t complain about the extra 2 loads of laundry I do every week for diapers, because it is more convenient than running out for a box of them!)
  • Feeding the children.  Some days, I feel like they never stop eating.  There was a day a few weeks ago, that by noon, I actually thought “I have no idea what else to feed you because you’ve eaten everything I know of that you like!”  There are often screams of “I’m hungry!!!” without the real need for a scream.. kids can truly be bottomless pits when it comes to food if they’re going through a growth spurt!
  • Hygenie.  I’m not talking the early days of “I can’t remember when I last showered,” but the things like- I could have sworn I cut those talons you call fingernails just 2 days ago and they’re already out of control!  Also, “find where I hid my toothbrush” is a beloved game played often by my children, how about yours!?
  • Batteries.  Why does every toy need a battery, or five?  And the fun ones are never AA, they’re always C.. or AAA.. or something ridiculous like that.  When one goes, they all go.  We’ve started buying stock at Sam’s Club, and then pretending things are just entirely broken when it’s too much to replace the batteries in the fifth toy of the day.

What do you think fellow supermom, what is stressful or difficult or exhausting about being a parent that you hadn’t thought about before having kids?

How I Met Your Father

I think I always wondered how I would meet my husband. Would it be a high school sweetheart? Someone I knew most of my life? Would it be in college, or after- someone in my career field?

It turns out that it was in college, but almost at the end.. a few weeks before the end to be exact. But let me back up a little..

Entering into my last year or so of college, my class and lab schedule was demanding. I was a Biology major, taking courses in organic chemistry, calculus, immunology, and the like. I had worked as a waitress since high school, but it was difficult finding a restaurant that would keep me on money-making shifts with such a limited availability. So I began working as a promotional model for various companies. The money was great, anywhere from $18-$25 per hour! It was enough to support me through the final chapters of my college career, and it was extremely flexible, with short 2-4 hour shifts.

One of my regular promotional shifts was a Sunday from 1-3pm at a liquor store. I was taking 19 credits over the summer, my last semester, and it was one of the only times I could fit into my grueling classwork schedule. There was a fairly steady flow of people through the store, especially for a summer in Happy Valley. In walked 2 guys and a girl, all my age. I offered them a sample of the products I had on the table and there were a few other words of exchange. The man standing to my right was a complete stranger to me, but I was hoping he wouldn’t be for long. As we all chatted, it turned out that the other man was a friend of my roommates and we talked a little more before they all proceeded to fulfill their shopping lists.

I immediately texted my friend and asked her if she could find out who her friend’s “cute friend” was. She said she would be seeing them tonight and would do her best to find out a little more about him (most notably of course- if he was single).

That evening, as I was watching boring summer Sunday night TV and working on some homework, I received a phone call from my friend. Only it wasn’t her, it was the “cute friend” calling from her phone. Turns out that he indeed was single, and was inquiring about me as well.

The next few weeks involved many dates and homemade dinners by each of us. We were still both broke college kids, but we were ok with that. It’s easy to say that “the rest is history,” because it really was that easy. We hit it off quickly and I always say- we didn’t have to force anything to work; we just fit into each other’s lives so seamlessly. A few months later we were engaged, and we were married a little over a year after that.

This summer marked 6 years since that fateful day, when I went to work hoping for the day to pass quickly, but instead met the man of my dreams. Just 6 short years, with a wedding, a house, and (soon to be) 3 children; and too many beautiful memories to ever count.

Car Seat Safety

I have a bit of an obsession with car seat safety.  It’s bad enough that a close friend and I sometimes share stories about patrolling friends, family, and even strangers- telling them about their car seat mistakes.  But it really is an issue.  According to “Road injuries are the leading cause of preventable deaths and injuries to children in the United States. Correctly used child safety seats can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71 percent.”  For full details on how to correctly install a seat and for a car seat checkpoint near you, check out the website.

I wanted to share some of the most common car seat mistakes I have seen with my readers.  Many parents are unaware that these things are wrong, and so I highly recommend visiting a car seat checkpoint next time there is one in your area!

  • Incorrect placement of shoulder straps.  For a rear facing child, the straps should be level with or below the child’s shoulders.  For a front facing child, the straps should be level with or above the child’s shoulders.
  • Chest clip placement.  This clip is to be level with the child’s armpits.
  • Tightness of straps.  Most children are not tight enough in their seats.  Trust me, it does NOT make them uncomfortable, and it’s absolutely worth their safety.  The website talks about the pinch test.
  • Movement of the base.  The general rule is that the car seat should move no more than 1 inch in any direction if it is installed properly.  Truthfully, ours don’t move at all.  If it’s moving more than 1 inch, the LATCH straps should be tightened.
  • Placement of carrying handle on infant seats while in the vehicle.  Believe it or not, some infant seats (that detach from their base) are made to me used in transit with the carrying handle up, while others or not.  Check your user manual for direction- I was shocked when I found out that my handle for my Graco seat was to be put down and not left up while in transit!
  • Jackets, blankets, and other items.  The only thing that should be between your baby/child and the carseat straps is their clothing.  Jackets, blankets, and infant seat inserts (you know the ones I’m talking about- they look like a boot to cover the baby and foot of the car seat) are all a BIG NO.  We always stuffed lots of blankets in and around the boys with they were in their infant seats, and I have sewn a car seat cover for the one on the way since she’s going to be born in the middle of cold weather.  When going to and from the car/house, we use heavy blankets on the kids.  *We do use thin jackets on the boys now, which is probably frowned upon as well, but we are without other options if we are to keep them warm.  But no puffy coats!!*

So what do you think supermom, are you guilty of any of these mistakes?  Or is there something I’ve missed that compels you to speak up when it comes to car seat safety?

Toddlers and Television

I’ve never been a huge fan of television.  From the time I was a kid, I don’t remember watching many cartoons; if I watched a show, it was before bed with my grandparents and it was always Bewitched, I Dream of Jeanie, or Green Acres.  Perhaps not the best kids shows in the world, but I was lucky if I made in 5 minutes in before falling asleep.  I never had shows that I watched on a regular basis until after I graduated college.

Now, I wasn’t naive enough before becoming a parent to think that my kids would never watch television.  But I did know that they wouldn’t be watching any adult shows and that they wouldn’t watch a lot of television.  I will admit that they watch more than I had originally hoped, which was 20 minutes 3 times a week.  Right now, the kids watch about 20 minutes of television in the morning, right when they wake up, to keep them from having massive meltdowns while I prepare their breakfast; and another 20 minutes in the afternoon if they’ve had a particularly bad day (overly tired from playing, fighting a lot, the list goes on).

 As far as what I allow the kids to watch- PBS only, and of those shows, I am still particular.  I aim for shows that are truly educational, or shows that effectively teach something.  Our top shows are:

  • Peg + Cat: This is a math show about a girl and her cat and their adventures.  There are some things I dislike about this show (the attitude of the “teenagers” for example), but overall the pros outweigh the cons on this one.  They do every type of math, and teach ideas such as “bigger vs smaller.”  It’s probably D1’s favorite.
  • Super WHY!  This is a reading show and both of the kids have learned from watching this.  Not only letter recognition, but phonics, rhyming.. this might be my top show for them to watch!
  • Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Based on Mister Rogers Neighborhood, this show teaches manners and all types of lessons perfect for preschoolers.  The songs are catchy too- we used their potty song when the boys were learning, and the clean up song is sung multiple times every day in our house.  D2 really loves Daniel, and recently mom Tiger had a baby, which is really great for us right now!
  • Dinosaur Train:  A family of dinosaurs travel throughout times to meet and learn about different types of dinosaurs.  I wasn’t aware that a 2 and 3 year old could distinguish between and so clearly say so many different dinosaurs.
  • Cat In The Hat:  Every day Nick and Sally go on a new “adventure” to learn something with the cat.  The funny part about this one is that, from a parents point of view, it’s obvious that their mother thinks the cat is made up when she agrees to let them go on these adventures.  Nonetheless, I can’t even begin to list the things I’ve learned from this show.  This summer, every earthworm the kids found was named “Diggery” and transferred to our garden to help it grow, “just like in cat!”

I don’t think it would be possible to list all of the shows I would never allow the kids to watch (I can tell you at the top of that list is Sponge Bob Square Pants.. just NO, for a thousand reasons).  And we do allow some Disney movies, mostly in the car when we are on long trips- Cars, Cars 2 and unfortunately Frozen are their favorites.  

It may not offer for a lot of variety in their viewing, but honestly- with the small amount of screen time they have, I don’t think they really mind.  I can’t say that I think the kids would watch much more television if they were allowed.  They’re active and have wonderful imaginations.  While they do gain something from the shows they are allowed to watch, I have to say that books are always better ;)

Medication During Birth

Birthing my babies is probably one of my favorite things to talk about (as you’ll notice in D1’s birth story, as well as D2’s).  I promise it’s not just because I am currently expecting; it’s just that I love to talk about how my little ones came into this world, everything from pregnancy to their birth to coming home and- ok I love to talk about my kids!  And I love to hear other people’s stories as well!

I recently shared my thoughts on induction; being that I was induced with my first and not my second, I felt that I had a great experience to share.  At the end of that post, I mentioned that I wanted to soon share my thoughts on medication during birth, or a “natural birth.”  I don’t like using the term “natural” birth because I feel that it gives a bad impression, and I feel that in the end- however baby arrives safely in this world, as long as mom is happy and healthy, that is what matters in the end.

My reasons were so varied for wanting a medication free birth, that I’ll share those with you:

  • FEAR.  Yep, fear.  I was 100% terrified of the idea of someone sticking anything anywhere in my spinal column.  Not to mention the side effects- not being able to move, potential problems when placing the epidural, potential problems after birth.  I am pretty “pro” medication (vaccinations and the like), so if the idea of a medical intervention scared me after what I had learned, I decided it was best to be avoided at all costs.
  • History.  My medical history has provided me with quite a lot of pain.  I’ve suffered from debilitating cramps and bleeding since I was only 13 years old; they have been so bad at times that I have passed out from the pain.  I figured that if I could handle that type of pain, labor and delivery would be a little easier on me.
  • Family/friend experience.  I spoke with many MANY women about their l&d experiences, and came up with the notion that it really isn’t that bad.  My grandmothers and mother spoke with me at length about their birth stories; and I spoke with women who had experienced a birth with and without medication- the without won out every single time for them in their experiences!  Not just with ease, but with recovery, and overall experience.
  • Progression of labor.  Since I was going in for an induction with my first, I knew that there was a chance it could end in a cesarean section- that’s just a fact.  So I wanted to avoid any other unnecessary measures that may delay my labor progressing and end in a section.
  • Side effects.  After my first, having received a half dose of IV pain medication during my first labor, I knew I never wanted to feel that way again.  Not only did it not relieve any of my pain, but it made my violently ill (which was honestly partially due to labor itself, but certainly not entirely).  It made me sleepy and even more irritable.  Not something you need to be while in labor!

When I laid it all out on the table to my husband (labor coach extraordinaire) and doctor, we discussed what this would mean.  With my first, I wrote in my birth plan that I intended to have an intervention free labor, as far as was possible.  I made it clear that I was by no means intending to have an epidural, and hopefully no other medication; however, that if I changed my mind at any point, I would absolutely request an intervention- IV medication as a first option, epidural as a second.  Basically, I didn’t want to be a closed minded bullhead about the fact that labor hurts very much, and induction hurts even more.  I had never experienced labor or delivery, and wasn’t about to suffer through something if it was that bad.

But guess what.. it wasn’t that bad.  It hurt, sure.  Would I want to do it every day?  NO.  But my labor with my first was short, 5 1/2 hours from the moment the pitocin was started to he was delivered.  My second labor was a bit longer, about 8 hours; but since it was spontaneous, it was pretty chill and not all that intense (until the end).

What got me through each moment, each contraction when I felt I couldn’t carry on any longer- was that at the end of this all, I got to meet my baby.  That was the thought the kept me going.  That, and my amazing husband, who should seriously consider a career switch and coach other women through this process.  He was kind, patient, encouraging.  As was my doctor.  That woman and the nurses in my room throughout my labor and deliveries- they were amazing.

I wanted to share some of what I think are the greatest benefits to having a medication free birth if it’s something you’re able to do:

  • Being able to move during labor.  I even opted for a hep lock instead of an IV for my second since I was planning to go medication free.  This meant that I could walk the halls, use the restroom, turn over in my bed any way I pleased.  No medication basically meant no restrictions until the end phase of labor.. no one wants to be walking around then ;)
  • The high.  Once my first was born, I felt incredible.  I was still a bit foggy from the pain medication, but overall, I felt wonderful.  With my second, I could’ve touched the moon.
  • Being able to move!  Once my placenta was delivered and bleeding stopped, I was able to cuddle with my little ones.  And then I had to pee.  It was no trouble to get comfortable in my bed or walk to the bathroom to pee, and SHOWER after delivery.
  • Feeling ok- down there.  This one may just be me.  After D1’s labor, I was a little swollen, which I blame on the induction.  But I experienced no tearing with my births, and I (at least in part) attribute this to being able to direct and control pushing 100% during delivery (and again in part to my physician being the amazing woman she is).
  • An alert, but calm baby!  D1 cried for about 45 minutes after he was delivered, which I accepted as the norm.  But when D2 was placed on my chest, he sputtered a little and coughed, and just chilled out while he stared at me.  He never cried, not even once (until he was hungry later).  I was incredibly worried, until someone told me that it was totally normal for a medication free birth.

So there you have it.  The reasons, at least most of the ones I can think of at the moment, on why I think you too should consider going medication free.  Give it a try.. you can always change your mind ;)

Did you opt for a medication free birth?  Tell me why!