Sunday, December 18, 2011

What do Staci's test results mean?

From the articles I have found on the internet, the IgG antibodies test is simply a screening test. It does not mean that Staci definitely has these allergies. The main point of contention I have, is that while it's true these tests are not fool-proof, they have a pretty high correlation with allergic symptoms. This article states that IgG antibodies to wheat gliadin have a 91% correlation with a positive diagnosis of Celiac's Disease (CD). I found this to be particularly alarming. Then, I read another article that basically says there's a high amount of false positives with this test, but it doesn't state what it considers to be a 'high rate' of false positives.

After receiving Staci's results, I wasn't able to get in to speak with our doctor for almost a week. Let me say this here---> that was a completely crappy thing to do to a mom. You cannot tell someone their 2.5 year old is allergic to everything they are eating and then leave them high and dry for a week. I doubt any doctors read this, but in the event that you do, please take a few minutes out of your day to call your patients when they receive news like this! By the time I saw my doctor the next week, I had convinced myself that Staci, her dad, her grandfather, and a few other people in our lives all had CD.

Based on this one test, we have the option of removing gluten, dairy and eggs from our diets (peanuts have already been removed) for a few months and then doing the blood tests again. This will allow her gut to heal and see if she is following the diet effectively. If the test results came back normal, we would be advised to slowly reintroduce these potential allergens and see how she does. My issue with this is that if Staci does, in fact, have CD, wheat and gluten could never be re-introduced. The tests for CD will not be accurate if you have removed gluten from your diet, so I feel an extreme urgency to find out if CD could be the culprit behind all of Staci's allergies.

IF Staci does have CD, it could be what is causing her other allergies (dairy and eggs). In other words, once her body heals, we may be able to have yogurt, butter, oooh and ice cream again! It is less likely she will outgrow her peanut allergy, but that is less concerning to me.

So, since gluten intolerance and CD run in families, Max and I both had our blood drawn this week as well. We should have those results hopefully before the end of the year. I also had some more blood work done on Staci (which was awful) and we should have those results next week. At this point I don't know what I'm hoping for, but it will be nice to have some answers.

I could go through the 15 other if/then situations running through my head, but for now with Staci we are doing our best to be gluten/egg/dairy/peanut free and will cross the next bridge when we come to it. I will update the blog with her (and our!) results as I receive them.

My kid is allergic to everything

Ok, maybe not EVERYTHING. But honestly? Pretty darn close. Let's start at the beginning.

As a little baby, Staci was a huge spitter. By which I mean, she spit up ALL the time. There was never a feeding after which she did not spit up, so much so I would change my shirt and her outfit no less than 4 times a day. Her spitup finally started to decrease around 7 months old, but even then was pretty severe. I read many places that some babies were just spitters and that she probably wasn't spitting up as much (volume-wise) as it appeared. Looking back, she probably spit up anywhere from 1/2oz-1oz after each feeding. That is probably why I had such an oversupply with her. She never had a problem gaining or growing, and never expressed any discomfort from the spitting so I just figured she loved to nurse and was eating too much, coupled with my super fast let-down reflex causing her to swallow more air than the average breastfed baby. I could never notice any sort of pattern to foods I ate that didn't agree with her because the spitting was so frequent. She didn't seem to have any problems with gas and her stooling patterns were normal to that of a breastfed baby.

There was one food, however, in particular that I could not consume. Chocolate notciably increased her spit up. In fact, if I ate chocolate she did not spit up. She projectile vomited her entire feeding. So, as much as it stunk, I gave up chocolate for the first 10 or 11 months of our nursing relationship. At that point, she had started to eat some solids and I tried it little by little, and she seemed to do ok with it.

Starting solids with her was an adventure. I chose to follow baby led weaning and added in some purees here and there. I quickly learned purees were not good for her, because she would always puke when I put her down for her nap. I just thought it was her normal spitting up, but now I think her stomach just wasn't mature enough to handle the solid foods. She didn't get teeth until she was 13 months old, and that is one of the most reliable signs a baby is ready for solid foods. Basically, I think she just wasn't really ready for solids until then.

Around 8 months old, I let her have a small piece of cheese. She proceeded to rub it all over her face in an effort to get it into her mouth. In a matter of minutes, her face broke out in hives and her eye nearly swelled shut. I watched her carefully for any signs of breathing trouble but no signs appeared. We had an appointment with the chiropractor that afternoon. I remember driving the entire 25 minute trip with my hand touching her, to make sure she was breathing ok and not showing signs of distress. Our wonderful chiropractors gave her some homeopathic remedy for the type of allergic reaction she was having and I do think it helped. From that point on, every time I tried any kind of dairy with her (yogurt, cheese, cow's milk, even goat's milk) she would either puke immediately, or in the event she refused to eat it, would get all snotty and crazy and upset. I thought she was just being stubborn about the yogurt b/c 'people who can't have dairy can still have yogurt'. That may be true for many who are lactose intolerant, but as you will see below, her allergies are to milk protiens.

Finally, around 16 months old, I was eating yogurt and granola (one of the only things that sounded good when I was in the early stages of pregnancy) and she wanted to try it. I hadn't given her any dairy in a while so I let her try it. She did fine! I was so psyched! As things progressed, yogurt became one of her favorite foods. I also found that I could add milk and cheese in small amounts to recipes like meatloaf or meatballs with no immediate or noticable reactions.

Around the same time, she tried peanut butter for the first time. I let her have a small bite of a peanut butter cracker I was eating and she immediately started crying and drooling like crazy. I just figured she wasn't ready for peanuts yet. I let her try it a few more times and every time, no matter how small the bite of peanut butter, she would always cry and/or spit up. As she got older, this turned more violent. I only tried peanuts about 4 times before I realized she absolutely could not have them. I thought I'd wait until she was 2 or so. The Easter before she turned 2 she ate some peanut butter in a piece of candy at a family event before I even knew what had happened. Her reaction was so immediate and so violent I haven't given her any since. She puked 4 times from one small piece of candy. I just kept thinking she would outgrow this reaction as she had seemed to with dairy, which is why I kept reintroducing it. I learned my lesson that Easter.

While all of this is going on, Staci had a rash come and go frequently. At first I thought it was yeast. We cloth diaper so I thought it kept coming back because the yeast was living in the diapers. It was so bad it bled on more than a few occasions. I took her for a second opinion and was told it was bacterial. Each time, the rash cleared up with treatment, so I just figured it was something we would have to battle with her. It didn't seem to matter if we were using disposables or cloth, so we kept using our cloth. And typically, it would be bad for a few days and then fine for weeks at a time. Now, I think it *could* be dermatitis herpetiformis, which is a rash that is associated with celiac's disease. It might not be. Maybe it really is recurrant yeast and eczema. Skin rashes are very difficult to diagnose. The next time we see it we are getting it biopsied to find out for sure.

The most recent time her rash flared, it was extremely dry, almost felt scabby. It covered her entire bottom. She also has keratosis pilaris-like bumps all over the backs of her arms, her legs, and the back of her hips. I took her to the Dr, and asked if we could get some allergy testing done. Our family Dr did a IgG food panel, and we found she has strong reactions to all dairy, eggs, gluten and peanuts.

All gluten, wheat and peanut reactions were in the IV-V range. What do these results mean? I'm going to go more in depth in the next post on what these results mean and what the next step for us is.

I also had some muscle testing done at the chiropractor and she determined Staci had a vitamin E deficiency. She said it seemed more like a deficiency than a toxicity, and gave us some homeopathic supplements (inflammatone) as well as a fish oil supplement. Staci's skin does seem to be doing better with these supplements, but that is not surprising to me as fish oil is really wonderful for your skin. Also, when something or somethings were so obviously affecting my child and her well being, I knew I needed some more concrete, science based testing done.

My head is still spinning a week and a half after we received these test results. More on what they mean and what our next step is in the next post!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Conversation with Staci

Conversation between Max and Staci:

Max: what Tv show did you watch today?

Staci: Curious George!

Max: what other TV show did you watch today?

Staci: the man in the yellow hat!

Max: What's the man in the yellow hat's name?

Staci: Yellow. (proceeds to make her elephant noises)

Happy 9 months Olivia!

I took a little hiatus from blogging but Olivia's milestone has brought me out of hibernation. This month, miss Olivia turned nine months old!! She is crawling all over the place and is impossible to keep still. She wouldn't even sit for her nine month picture! At her nine month well visit, she was 20lbs and 1.5oz, and 29 inches long. 75% for weight and 90% for height.

Dear Olivia,
  At nine months old you are so much fun to have around. You now have 4 teeth, and must be getting more soon because everything you can get your hands on goes immediately into your mouth. You are pulling up and cruising and have already learned how to turn on the TV. You are doing amazingly well with solid foods and will transition to the food your big sister and parents are eating very soon. For now, some of your favorite snacks are apple slices, grapes (peeled and sliced small), veggies from soup like squash and carrots, cheerios, chex, bananas, and avocado smashed on a rice cake. Oh and Baby Mum-mums. You like to eat--and I don't blame you one bit! 
  I love your little laugh. I can't help but laugh along with you when you really get going. Your big sister is probably the person you find the most hilarious, with Mommy and Daddy coming in at a close second. Sneezes and peekaboo are usually safe bets for laughter, but you also like the occasional tickle or belly kisses. Doing 'belly bumps' with Staci are so hilarious you cannot contain yourself, so Mommy makes sure we do those at least once a day!

--You take 2 naps a day, usually around 1.5-2 hours each.
--You are far from sleeping through the night.
--You are still nursing frequently, probably 9-10 times in a 24 hour period, but rarely for more than 5 minutes at time.
--Your favorite toy is anything your sister is playing with. Funny enough, HER favorite toy is anything you are playing with. Funny how that works, even at 9 months old!
--You moved to 9-12mo and 12mo clothing at 8 months old
--With your new pulling up skills, you are now especially interested in the toilet. Yay.

We love you, Olivia! Keep growing big and strong. You light up our lives with so much laughter and love.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Happy 6 months Olivia!

How is it possible six months have passed since you were born? I just finished watching the video your aunt Mandy made, revelling in the memories of your sweet newborn self. At six months old, you are
- Getting up on all fours, rocking back and forth, and scooting yourself along. You are not crawling or army crawling yet, but you will be soon!
--In size medium diapers
--You moved to 6-9mo and 9 mo clothing at 5 months. some of your sleepers are already too short.
--You learned to shake your head, "no". you don't use it to actually say 'no', but you will imitate me sometimes and it's pretty cute.
--You are a great napper! You take 2 1.5-2.5 hour naps per day. You still wake frequently at night, but Mommy hasn't done much to discourage that so maybe we'll start working on that soon. 
--You've already been on your first vacation
--You've had your first taste of solid food.  I have tried giving you butternut squash a few times. The faces you make when I manage to get any in your mouth are hilarious! I don't think you're a big fan, but avocado and sweet potato fries are next!
Here is a video of you at 6 months and 1 week old, taken on 9/11/11 Look at you go!!



Thanks for choosing me to be your mom. You are so beautiful and I love watching you grow!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Staci's first haircut!

Yesterday was a landmark day at our house! Staci got her first hair cut. I took her to Cookie Cutters because I was afraid she wouldn't sit in a regular barber's chair.



Instead, she sat on a duck and got to watch Dora the Explorer. The hair-cutting lasted 5-7 minutes. She got a little nervous and tearful about half way through, but recovered quickly.





The stylist put her hair up in a cute little bun.














When all was said and done, she did great and got to go down the slide before we left!











Before:


After:


And now I have a small baggie with a few locks of hair from  her first cut. Something to go in her memory box for sure!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Reading skills!

Staci is 2 and has started showing some pre-reading readiness, such as memorizing her books, identifying all the letters of the alphabet, and can even write a few of the letters (sort of). If you are familiar with The Very Hungry Caterpillar, I think you will be impressed with her skills here

Thursday, June 30, 2011

GIGGLES!!

What is it they say? Every time a baby laughs a fairy gets her wings? Well I can certainly see why.

PBS Kids in the Park

A couple of weeks ago, we packed up the girls and headed downtown to take a stroll down



We stopped to bounce a bit

And go down the slide...

Met up with a good friend to see Arthur

and stopped to give Clifford the Big Red Dog a hi-five!

Of course no party is complete without a bounce house...

...and Staci even managed to get on her feet once or twice!


Friday, June 3, 2011

Staci-isms Part III

'I self'--I want to do it myself

'Tyno'--tylenol.  You are finally getting some more teeth and have asked for 'tyno' the last 3 nights in a row at bedtime.  Once your daddy and I realized you weren't just asking for it because it tastes like candy, I gave you some.

Monkah--Monster. Today, you turned around and saw your shadow and exclaimed, "Monkah!!"  you ran over to me and said, "Scarey!"  :( so I guess you're afraid of  your shadow but it is really cute!

Knowing your colors--We have a book that's all about colors, and at the end of the book there's a page with multiple swatches of different colors for you to identify.  You will point at the swatches of color and exclaim, "Green, Blue, Purple, Green!! haHA!"(you clap for yourself) None of them are correct. 

Today, we counted Olivia's fingers and toes together, and when your daddy came home I asked you how many toes Olivia had.  Apparently, she only has two. (in fact, you answered, "Two, two, two," while pretending to count your own toes).

Your favorite thing to watch on TV is Avatar.  This is you pretending to water-bend. I <3 you.

You also have some serious moves.  This is you dancing:



I love this age.  You are so stinkin' cute!

Sisters

Staci and Olivia--
  I hope you know how special it is that you have each other.  I hope you become good friends as you grow.  I know there will be times, many times, where you won't get along.  But please, keep in mind that you share an amazing bond, one that no one can ever take away from you.  This is just the beginning:

I love how it appears Olivia is almost as big as Staci here...




Happy 3 months Olivia!

Dear Olivia,
  You will be 3 months old tomorrow!  It is simply amazing how fast you are growing.  You've been in 3-6 and 6mo clothing for 3 weeks now, and you are even in 6-9mo sleepers in a couple of brands.  You've grown out of the 'newborn' size diapers I made (my pattern had 'tiny newborn' and 'newborn' sizes) and are officially into the 'smalls'.  At your two month appointment, you were 13lbs5.5oz and 24.5 inches long. If you keep up with your 97th percentile heighth, you may end up nearly 6 feet tall. 
--you are cooing and smiling at us non-stop. 
--I got a giggle out of you for the first time last week, all because I 'booped' your nose. so cute!
--you still love to be carried in the moby wrap or ring sling and fall asleep almost instantly
--you still wake to nurse a few times during the night most nights
--In order to fall asleep, you need to be walked around or nursed and rocked simultaneously. 
--Your sister can always make you smile
--You are not a fan of your carseat.  Car trips, even short ones, are excruciating for all of us.
--You love your playmat! It's so much fun to watch you bat toys around and kick the sides of the arc and get the music and lights display going. 
--If I hold you up in front of me and talk to you, you immediately start talking back to me.  It's almost as if you're saying, "I've been waiting ALL DAY for you to ask me about this, Mommy!" Bestill my heart.
--You are still sleeping in Mommy and Daddy's room, and will be for quite some time I have a feeling.  Mommy loves having you so close.

This is what your cooing is like right now:



I love you so much, Olivia.  I can't wait to see your little personality emerge!

The baby gear you need (you just don't know it yet) part II

Since I last wrote about baby carriers, I thought the next area of focus for baby necessities should be where you can put the baby down. I am a huge fan of babywearing, but you do have to put the baby down eventually, so you can, ya know, pee. or shower. or have some time where no one is touching you.  'No Touch Time' is something I was not familiar with before becoming a Stay-At-Home-Mom--but it is something I crave regularly.

For newborns:



Some kind of playmat, preferably one with motion activated music and lights display.  There are a zillion different ones, choose one you like.  (or better yet, find one on Craig's list for cheap--or borrow from a friend for free!) If the actual mat has colorful and interesting pictures that is also a great place to do tummy time.  
A portable swing or bouncy seat.  Most people I know had/have both a swing and a bouncy, but I don't think you need both to start with.  Find one you can easily transport around the house.  When you have a newborn, it's great to bring a swing or bouncy into the bathroom with you so you can take a shower.  If you get one of the expensive (and BIG) swings with all the bells and whistles, you can't take it with you.  Most babies prefer either a swing or bouncy, so start with one and if your baby doesn't like it, try the other.
Infant:


Graco Bumper JumperA doorway jumper--significantly cheaper than a jumparoo, takes up less space, and you can move it around the house to wherever you are.  I can't wait to get this out for Olivia!  She'll be ready for it in about another month.

An exersaucer-like activity center.  This is another one of those things where there are a million to choose from, but they are all basically the same.  It's great for working on reaching for toys and grasping.  It's also a great place to put your newly mobile baby if you need to leave the room for a minute, so you're sure they don't end up slurping drano while you put the laundry in the dryer. (First time moms probably think I'm kidding.  I'm so not.)

As baby grows, more and more baby things accumulate in your house until you have totally lost your 'cool' status and your living room floor looks like a Babies'R'Us showroom.  These are the few things I did find absolutely essential for the newborn and infant stages.  What did you find useful? What did I miss?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The baby gear you need (you just don't know it yet)

I recently found out quite a few of my friends are expecting--and it got me thinking--What baby gear items have I found truly essential to survival, and which ones could I live without?  I orignally began this post thinking it would be a relatively short list of the things I've loved and used the most, but instead it's become a post about babywearing.  So, instead, I'm going to do a series of shorter posts each with their own theme.  Today's theme is babywearing, something I've discussed before.  My babywearing essentials:

1) A Moby Wrap.  By far the most universal, cost effective, and comfortable baby carrier on the market.  You can use this carrier from birth on up to 35 lbs, which means I could still carry Staci in it if I wanted to (ahem, if she'd let me).  A wrap style carrier like the Moby, Sleepy, or Maya wrap is the best type of carrier for a newborn--HANDS DOWN.  Put a fussy, tired baby in a moby wrap, walk them around for a few minutes and VOILA!!  Happy, sleeping baby on your chest. You can use one of the straps to anchor their head to you and it becomes completely hands free.  *con*--it is hot and takes *forever* to put on.  OK, only about 30-45 seconds, but when you have a screaming baby, 30-45 seconds is a REALLY long time!

photo credit: www.wallababy.com
2) A *well made* ring sling, like a wallababy ring sling.  Nowhere near as hot as the moby!! I recently used a ring sling that, in my opinion, was NOT made well. Carrying a 14 pound newborn in it was nothing short of excruciating.  When buying baby carriers, as with so many other things, *you get what you pay for*. A baby carrier is NOT the place to skimp or cut corners, peeps.  Why do you need a ring sling AND a Moby wrap you ask?  The answer is simple--they each have their place.  The Moby wrap is GREAT for long carries, but it does have some cons.  I love the ring sling b/c I can throw it in the diaper bag, toss it over my shoulder and have the baby in it in about 3.2 seconds.  It's great for walking in and out of the gym with, b/c carrying an infant seat and keeping a toddler from running into the street is next to impossible.  Also, I'm not messing with a 6-foot-long piece of fabric.  If I had to choose between a moby and a ring sling, I'd choose the moby, but honestly, YOU. NEED. BOTH. Other than quick trips and that it folds up small enough for the diaper bag, a ring sling is awesome for a hip carry--and especially the safety carry.  I used to use it while cooking dinner with Staci on (well, behind really) my hip and it is fabulous for that!! ring sling cons--They have a pretty steep learning curve.  You need to give it 10-15 good tries before you are really comfortable with it, but allow yourself to be a beginner and just keep adjusting it until you find what's comfortable.  Trust yourself, and your baby.  Another con is that they are not as comfortable as a moby wrap or soft structured carrier.  A ring sling only goes over one shoulder, so the weight is not as evenly distributed as it is with other carriers.  This gets me thinking--a ring sling tutorial (and perhaps my first Vlog) is coming to explain more about this!


3) An Ergo baby carrier. One of my favorite things about this carrier is the learning curve--there is practically no learning curve at all.  You just can't get it wrong with this thing, and it's SO comfortable.  In this picture, Staci is about 4 months old, and you can see she is JUST big enough to not need the infant insert.  This carrier can be used as a front carrier, back carrier, or side/hip carrier. Honestly, I hate the side/hip carry on the Ergo.  It is useless because one of your arms is left behind the baby and virtually unusable, and the straps dig into the muscles on the side of your neck/shoulder.  it isn't comfortable AT ALL. Want a hip carry? Use your ring sling! However, the front and back carries are awesome.  Why do you need this carrier as well? You can't use a Moby Wrap for back carries (well, you CAN, but IMO you just shouldn't)  and a ring sling doesn't lend itself to back carries, either. There are a few other soft structured carriers similar to the Ergo that also get great reviews, but I haven't tried them. Check out the babywearer for more info, reviews, and other baby carrier craziness.

**a note on babywearing--there are rules for baby-wearing safety.  Make sure you know them**

I'm sure if I had more baby carriers, I'd have reasons for why I like those specific carriers for different tasks.  These are the 3 I have, and I use them all almost daily. I know it sounds extreme, but now that I have two babies, carrying one hands free is a necessity. I'd never get a single thing done without my baby carriers!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Staci-isms, take 2

Dear Anastasia,
  Because I see this blog as a sort of digi-scrapbook for me to keep all the things I want to remember so I can tell you about them when you're older, here are a few funny things you are doing and saying right now.

You now sit still long enough for me to paint your toenails. You actually held out your foot for me to do these.  You didn't sit still long enough for it to dry, but I had to document the occasion none-the-less.

Fwiggy-- I don't know why you call a big hug a fwiggy, perhaps it's how you say squeeze. But Fwiggy is the damned cutest name for a hug ever thought up by a toddler

We-we-a--Olivia--and I crack up every time because it sounds like you're calling your little sister a wee-wee

Ham-- Green Eggs and Ham.  you often will call books by their last name in the title-- 'who' (horten hears a) 'needs' (what baby), etc.

I see you--you will hide behind something and say, "I see you!" and then pop out the other side and say, "see me!". so. cute.

Dad-eye--what you call Daddy. 

Mommy--I have finally gone from Mama to Mommy. and I love it.

Job-ah--you frequently add an extra syllable to the end of a word. If we praise you and say, "Good Job!" you clap and say, "Job-ah!"

Ninah--What you call Shania

You have also started potty learning--and I have to say you are doing much better than I expected, much earlier than I expected. I'm so proud of you!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Photo Book




I finally am doing something with all the beautiful photos Mandy has taken.  Many here are done by her.  Here is a book of the first 6 months of Staci's life.  More to come, I am determined to get caught ALL the way up to Olivia!

Monday, April 18, 2011

My top ten tips for two under two

I know I am far from the first person to have two babies under two years of age.  For those of you who are parents of an only child or not parents yet, this might not make sense to you at all.  It might seem easy to take care of two young children all day (and all night).  It might look like I have it pulled together.  I'm going to let you in on a little secret: I don't.  However, I have learned a lot over the past six weeks and I thought I might share some of my knowledge--so here goes.  My top ten tips for two under two:
10)  Accept help when it's offered.  DO NOT TRY TO BE SUPERWOMAN.  It will only make you crazy.
9)  Wear your (newest) baby.  You will need the extra hands.
8) Don't be afraid to use the television as a babysitter in the short term.  We love PBS 'round these parts.
7) Eat your Wheaties.  Seriously, don't forget to feed YOURSELF. It's really easy to do when you've fed 3 mouths before your own sees so much as a crumb.  Usually it takes us 2 hours to get the morning routine completed.  Thank you PBS for your help.
6) Sleep when you can.  You will learn to survive on far less than you ever thought you could.  It's different than it was in college--you're not as young as you were.  You're also a lot less hungover.  So it evens out.
5) Take a deep breath and count to 10, and when that doesn't work, shut yourself in the hall closet and don't come out until you're certain you're not going to smack your toddler from here to South Africa.  Kidding aside, use your anger management skills.
4) Have a glass of wine.  Before noon if you have to.
3) Try not to take your frustrations out on your spouse.  I mean, I certainly would NEVER do this, but asking, "What's WRONG with you? WHY can't you FOLLOW SIMPLE INSTRUCTIONS???" and storming off never goes over well. 
2)  Keep your expectations low--of yourself, of your toddler, and of your sweet new little baby.  This is a huge adjustment, and you need to give yourselves time to adapt.  'Simple' tasks like grocery shopping will take you all morning from start to finish. And you will be pooped. And you will have probably cleaned up 4 poops.  Having 2 under 2 really is pooptastic. (so sorry, I could not resist)
And finally, my number one tip for surviving having 2 kids under 2 is=
1) Don't forget to ENJOY this wonderful, happy, amazing, chaotic, crazy time in your life.  It's a blur of diaper changes, poop explosions, huge toddler emotions, never ending laundry, your highest highs and your lowest lows.  Being a parent isn't easy.  But it is pretty fantastic.

Friday, April 15, 2011

On Staci's 2nd birthday...




oh man. I tried so many times to get her to show off for the camera.  This was literally the best one I got.   Gotta love 2 year olds!!

Olivia is 6 weeks old!

one month, 4 days
Dear Olivia,

You are six weeks old today! Time has been flying by; amazingly, it is flying even faster than it did with your big sister.  You are growing so big every day and starting to become less of a newborn and more an infant every time I look at you. 

Right now as I type, you are sleeping soundly on my chest.  I absolutely love this age.  I love your snuggles and the way you will sleep in my arms.  I love to put you in the Moby Wrap and play with your big sister AND get to snuggle you at the satme time.  I love the noises you, like all newborns, make.  Little snorts and squeaks make my heart go pitter patter. 

You are distinguishing yourself from your sister already.  She loved her pacifier; I can't get you to take one.  She never had a problem taking a bottle; you have refused three times now.  One thing is for certain--as of right now, you are a mama's girl and I couldn't be happier about that!  Your big sis is a Daddy's girl--and I want you to know, Mommy needs a partner in crime, too. 
6 weeks old

--At birth, you were 7lbs, 9oz and 2 days later you were down to 7lbs3oz.  By 1 week, you were already 8lbs.  (That's a successful nursing relationship right there)
--You outgrew the tiny newborn diapers I made for you at 4 weeks old
--At 5 weeks old, you outgrew every last piece of 'newborn' sized clothing.  Mommy is not putting it away yet because she can't handle the thought of potentially never getting it out again.
--You nurse about every 2 hours during the day, but are giving us 4 and 5 hour stretches at night which is wonderful and perfect for your age.
--You hate riding in the car.  And, as I mentioned above, you won't take a pacifier.  Insert expletives here.
--You don't like to be put down. Ever.


--Every time I go to get your sister up in the morning or from her naps, the first thing out of her mouth is, "Baby!!"  She loves you so. much. I can't wait to see you two play together.

I love you so much and I absolutely can't wait for all the fun we will have together as a family as you grow up. Just don't grow too fast!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Happy Birthday Anastasia

Dear Anastasia,
I absolutely love the little girl you are becoming, and the personality you are developing. We had your birthday party yesterday, and you were surrounded by family and friends. I was so impressed by your willingness to share your toys, even your brand new ones. You are so beautiful, both inside and out and you make my heart absolutely melt! Your wore the most beautiful dress and allowed us to keep a flower in your hair for much of the party.
--you are moving into size 2T clothes
--your hair is getting *so* long and both your grandmothers (as well as many of Mommy's friends) have commented on it with a 'when are you going to cut that mop?' tone. I can't bring myself to cut it yet, soon though. probably.
--You are unbelievably sweet and gentle with your baby sister. I can't wait for her to be a little bigger so you two can play together. She loves you so much already, and it's obvious you love her, too.
--Your favorite TV show is The Cat in the Hat, with Avatar coming in a close second.
--Your favorite food is the turkey sloppy joes I make--I hide sweet potato, butternut squash and carrots in them. shhhh! don't tell your daddy!
--You still only have 10 teeth. top four, bottom two, and your first four molars. I'm honestly starting to wonder if you have any more teeth.
--You and Bella are best friends. Whenever you get together you run around in circles and jump up and down for the first 10 minutes--you can't contain your excitement!
--You are your daddy's girl. He is your favorite person (and I think the feeling is mutual). It's so fun to watch you two together--whether you are just reading stories or rough-housing, it's obvious you are both having a blast.
--The first thing you say when I get you up in the morning and from your naps is, "baby!"  Melts my heart every time.
 --You know almost all of your letters, and we're working on the sounds they make.



It has been so much fun to watch you grow from a tiny baby into a little girl.  I can't wait to see what delights you as you enter your third year here with us. 
Memories of your babyhood with be with me forever.  The days of rocking you to sleep and nursing you are gone, but I will always cherish the time I had with you as a baby, and I look forward to our new relationship as it evolves.  I love you. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

newborn photos!

As you all know, my very good friend Mandy is a fabulous photographer serving the north side Indianapolis and surrounding areas.  She has been so generous with her work and taken beautiful maternity, birth, and now newborn photos of Olivia (not to mention Staci's milestones and some family shots along the way!).  I might be a bit biased since we are such good friends, but I also think her work speaks for itself.  This is a shot of Olivia at 7 days old.  I will cherish these photos forever!  You can see the rest of the 'sneak peek' here.

I have the best husband, seriously.

I just wanted to take a moment and thank my husband publicly for his amazing dad status.  He has spent the last 10 days caring for Staci and taking no breaks, while also helping me with Olivia--and taking care of me!  All the while he has been using nap time and sleep time to finish up his modules (kind of like take home tests) so that he can get his ASA (Associate of the Society of Actuaries).  And now that he only has one question left, he is looking into getting our house refinanced (because selling isn't going so well) so that we can save even more money.  He handles all of Staci's diaper changes and most middle of the night changes for Olivia so all I have to do is get set up to nurse.  Oh, and this morning?  He brought me doughnuts.  My knight in shining armor ;)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The story of Olivia's birth

On 3/3/2011, I woke up around 6AM with contractions. They weren’t very strong or close together, but I was having them and they were more intense than the Braxton hicks I had been having before. Anastasia and I went about our day, but I took it easy just in case I did start to go into labor. We just snuggled and watched a lot of TV and read books. I sat on the exercise ball and rocked my hips back and forth in an effort to try to get labor going. 

When Max got home from work, we ran a few quick errands and I noticed I was having stronger contractions and they were coming less than 10 minutes apart, and by 10pm they were coming closer to 7 minutes apart. I was having to concentrate through them so I knew at that point labor had finally begun.

It was bedtime, so that is what we did. I sat up and counted contractions and dealt with them on my own. I knew what little sleep Max would get that night would be crucial. I think I was able to snooze in between for a little while, and about 1 I got up and started using different positions like the exercise ball. Around 3am I woke Max up because I really needed the help dealing with them. He started filling the birth tub and helped me through contractions.

A little after 4, Anastasia woke up and we realized we needed help. It was time to call in the reinforcements. He called my mom and she grabbed her things and was here within the hour. All throughout the night I had been texting with my midwife back and forth, and she decided to come around 4:30 and actually beat my mom here. She got her things set up while Max and I labored, and then left us to labor in the dark and quiet. This was one of my favorite things about the labor, there was very little distraction compared to the hospital and I felt completely comfortable in my own home.
By 6, contractions were coming 2-3 minutes apart but they just weren’t getting any longer or increasing in intensity. I called Mandy because I figured the baby would be here by around 10. I was wrong. The majority of my contractions were between 40-60 seconds. It was a slow, easy labor up until this point, but I was still very tired nonetheless and ready for things to progress further so I could hold my baby and be done with this whole labor business. I was having severe back labor and my midwife was convinced Olivia was posterior (she was right). She made some suggestions to help intensify the contractions so we could get the baby out. At this point I still had not seen any bloody show or mucus plug, and my bag of water was still intact.

By now, our entire birthing party had arrived—my mom, midwife, doula, and photographer. Staci thought it was a big party! I continued to labor but things just didn’t seem to be progressing like they had with Staci. I used some of the techniques the midwife suggested and really started to feel a change in the contractions. I walked around, swayed, hung on Max for contractions, walked up and down stairs, sat on the couch and got a foot rub with jasmine oil (nice!! But those contractions sucked LOL) and after a little while went upstairs to our bedroom.

I was really surprised by how hungry and thirsty I was the whole time. I would have been completely miserable at the hospital. I ate and drank through the whole thing and there’s no way I could have labored for so long without that fuel.

Finally, by 10:30, I was starting to get really frustrated. I was exhausted and I felt like things were not progressing the way they should. I finally had my midwife check me to see where we were. I was convinced I was hardly dilated, but thank goodness I was wrong. Midwife said I was 8cms and felt to see what Olivia’s head was doing. She was coming down posterior and in a full military presentation—which means that instead of tucking her chin to her chest she was holding her head straight up, and the widest part of her head was presenting instead of the smallest (crown). The midwife pressed against her head to try to get her to reposition, and also allowed more fluid to fill in the bag so it would put a little more pressure on my cervix in order to get to 10. This whole experience was really terrible pain wise but I’m glad she did it. As soon as I got up I started feeling pressure in my bottom with the very next contraction.

At this point I was teary and upset that I didn’t have a baby yet, and felt so bad for everyone in the birth party that it was taking sooooo long. Per my midwife’s orders, I found the positions that hurt the most and used them for every contraction. Not something I wanted to do at ALL but I was motivated to get Olivia out so I could be done, and I definitely think this helped tremendously. I hung on Max and put one leg up on the bedframe to try and change the opening of the pelvis and help Olivia come down. I walked up and down the stairs sideways as well—but this was really awful pain-wise and even though I wanted the baby out, I could only tolerate that one time.

Shortly after doing the stairs, I began to grunt and push very slightly with contractions. I got back in the birth tub, but found that the contractions I had there I didn’t want to push with. So, I got back out and leaned over the outside of it while I squatted. The urge to push came immediately with the next contraction. The midwife suggested I get into more of a full squat instead of leaning forward—so I was upright and the pushing was even more intense. After just a few of those contractions, I felt Olivia coming down. FINALLY, my water broke and she started to crown. It is lucky she was crowning so soon after my water broke, there was a little meconium so I was in a hurry to get her out so she wouldn’t breathe in any of that. Just a couple of pushes later her head was out, and her shoulders and body were out with the very next push. Olivia was born at 12:35pm on March 4th, 2011.
I was SO happy to finally be done!! Max caught her as she quite literally flew out, and I heard her cry for the first time. He handed her to me and after snapping a couple of pics, Mandy ran out to tell everyone, “She’s here!”. It was so amazing to get to hold her immediately after her birth. She was completely covered in vernix—so sticky and waxy and weird but I really did not care! Because my water didn’t break until she was coming out, I was losing both amniotic fluid and blood at the same time, but my midwife thought it was ALL blood. She immediately administered a shot of pitocin and something else to stop bleeding (can’t remember what she called it) and also had her ammonia thing for me to smell in case I passed out. I knew instinctually it wasn’t as bad as I could tell she thought it was—I did not feel woozy or shaky or weird like I would if I really were losing too much blood.
The placenta was delivered very shortly after the birth, and we noticed how short and thin the umbilical cord was. This is when we figured out why the labor was the way it was. Olivia spent the whole time stretching out the cord so she could come out without ripping the placenta off the wall of my uterus. We do think that is what happened in the end, but I think my body had already started to clamp down on those blood vessels. Also, this is why it hurt so much when she came out as opposed to having Staci, which didn’t hurt hardly at all. I was pushing out a baby who was bringing her placenta with her.

After examining the placenta, my midwife realized what she thought had been all blood was really also a lot of fluid, and my blood loss was within normal limits. Also, it had a subculate lobe, which may mean there was another baby there in the very beginning. I think it’s really cool that you can tell that just from looking at the placenta. 

One of the best things about having the homebirth was getting into the herb bath shortly after the birth. The herbs were very soothing and helped fight swelling. It also smelled wonderful! I brought Olivia in with me and the midwife showed me how to hold her in it. I cradled her head in my hands, careful to keep her ears out of the water. The rest of her body floated and she adjusted herself—like a little mini instinctual chiropractic adjustment. It was SO cool to watch! My hour old baby was a pro at maneuvering herself in water—fancy that.

While I finished soaking, they weighed Olivia and did all her measurements. Her head was 14”, 20.75” long, 7lbs9oz.

Big sister Staci is adjusting beautifully and loving her little sister. We are on cloud nine!

Olivia is here!!

On March 4th, 2011 at 12:35pm, Olivia Charlotte was born.  She weighed in at 7lbs 9oz and was 20 and 3/4 inches long.  She came to us after a long labor and I had to work to get her to come out--but it was worth it!!  Mandy took some beautiful photographs of the labor and birth, and put together this amazing slideshow for us.  Stay tuned for the birth story!



Monday, February 21, 2011

A 'sprinkle' for Olivia

I am not sure I've mentioned it on here, but I seriously have the best friends!  There is a group of girlfriends I get together with about every month or so if we can, and enjoy just having girl time with.  We have done freezer meal exchanges, dinner parties, cocktail parties--you name it.  I love each and every one of these girls and if you are reading this going, "hey we are friends why aren't I in on this?" just message me--and you will be! These girls are funny, smart, easy going, and did I mention gorgeous? well you are about to see in the pics.  They threw me a sprinkle--kind of like a shower but a smaller scale since this is my second baby.  There really isn't a whole lot we need but I did want to spend some girl time just celebrating the end of my pregnancy and the fact that Olivia is going to be here soon! 

Mandy hosted (and took some awesome pics!!) and I just can't thank everyone enough.  I feel so special, blessed, and loved. 


Cake pops by Nicole--you can check out her blog here 


opening gifts, got some of the cutest cards, clothes, bows, and other baby stuff ever!




a picture of a picture--one of my gifts from Mandy (not to mention maternity, birth and newborn pictures... this girl is too generous I kid you not!)  This is a mounted print and I can't decide where to hang it--I love it!





Angela has a diaper cake business, but she knows I cloth diaper.  She came up with a 'baby cake' just for me!!  Check out Smiling Girl Designs for any diaper cake needs--she now ships anywhere in the country :)  Isn't this adorable?  This 'cake' had a hooded towel, a bunch of onesies, a couple sleep'n'plays, 2 receiving blankets, washcloths, and a swaddle blanket.  All of it is ADORABLE! I didn't want to take it apart but I'm so glad I did!  now everything is washed and folded and put away.  Can you tell I'm nesting? just a smidge? :)

Me and Mandy.  Bff's since high school.  12 years now.  That makes me feel old (cuz the mom of two thing wasn't doing that already!)

Me and my Momma--isn't she pretty?  and you can really see here how gigantic I am getting.  big. as. a. house.  I previously thought Olivia would be in the seven pound range.  Now I'm thinking more like sevenTEEN ;)


The girl's night crew!  So many beautiful girls!


teehee!  it looks like she's kissing Olivia but she's just talking to her and telling her to come out!! This totally cracks me up, though :)