Monday, October 17, 2016

Dear soon-to-be mom of two...

Dear soon-to-be mom of two...

It feels like just yesterday I was in your shoes. I remember sitting on the living room floor, looking at my big pregnant belly and playing with my firstborn. I remember feeling anxious about the future and, honestly, a bit sad. Sad because the days of just the two of us were quickly dwindling. My son, the baby who made me a mother, wasn't going to be my only child for much longer. And as excited as I was to welcome a baby girl into our family, I was also sad to leave behind the season of just me and my son. He was my sidekick; we went everywhere and did everything together. My days (and nights) revolved around this boy. He was my world, and I was his. But our world was about to change drastically.

I constantly wondered what life was going to look like once our sweet baby arrived. I would picture various scenarios of life with two throughout our daily activities. I'd think about snuggling both my little darlings in the morning. I'd daydream about nursing the baby while reading books to my son. I'd feel nervous at the thought of grocery shopping or running errands alone with both kids. I'd picture family dinners, sibling baths, and an inevitably exhausting bedtime routine. I would watch my son sleep, his little arms wrapped around my belly, and I would get lost in thought. As beautiful as all these mental images appeared, I knew the transition wouldn't be easy and probably wouldn't be pretty. Waves of guilt would crash over me. Guilt over the fact that I would no longer be able to give my son my undivided attention all day long. Guilt that life as he knew it would never be the same. And then there was the guilt over feeling this way, and the fact that the baby wouldn't get a season of being my only.

Some days, it felt like all too much to bear. I would cry and hold my boy a little tighter. I made every effort to soak up every day I had with my son before my daughter was born. I'd make mental notes of all the special little things we held between us. I also took plenty of physical pictures of this precious season. Life went on and brought us closer and closer to baby's arrival.

I still vividly remember the morning I woke up in labor with my daughter. My little sidekick had found his way into my bed, per usual. I snuggled him while I timed my contractions for an hour. Once I wasn't comfortable laying down anymore, I quietly made my way out of the room to labor on my birthing ball. Fast forward a couple hours and it was time to head to the hospital. I went in the bedroom to kiss my son goodbye, when he woke and asked what was going on. I cried. A lot. I hugged him so tight, and explained that his sister was coming. In my head, I apologized to him for the major change that was about to rock his world. Out loud, I told him how much I loved him and that he was going to be the best big brother. Saying goodbye to my son to leave for the hospital was so much harder than I expected. I knew he would be in good hands with my parents but I also knew that he didn't fully grasp what was coming. I was in this heart-wrenching limbo of being over the moon excited to meet baby girl, yet utterly devastated to say goodbye to this season of just me and my son. Plus, all the hormones that come along with labor didn't help, ha.

Labor went wonderfully and just four (painfully long yet short) hours after being admitted, our sweet baby girl was in my arms. She was here! And with her came an amazing excitement over this new season of life.

I remember telling my husband that I wanted him to be holding the baby when our son came to meet her. I had read somewhere that it's less shocking for the older child if the baby isn't in mom's arms. So we made sure my arms were free to hug and love on our boy before we introduced him to his new baby sister. I'll never forget the look on his face when he got to meet and hold the baby. He was surprised, excited, and proud all at once. He touched her little face and repeatedly kissed her head. He grasped her tiny hand in his and smiled. He talked to her and told her who he was. It was such a beautifully special moment! And in that moment, my heart found peace and a new level of love that I didn't know was possible. Yes, our world just got flipped upside down. But the view from here was pretty spectacular.

While it's true that nothing can ever really prepare you for having a baby, there's something to be said for having a second baby. You know a bit more about what to expect. You're more confident in your abilities as a momma. Yet, there's this huge unknown of what life will look like with two. Can I just take a moment and assure you, it's amazing. It's exhausting, challenging, and sometimes overwhelming. But it fills your heart with so much love, you feel as though you could burst.

And you know what? The transition to two went more smoothly than I expected. We had (and continue to have) our rough days. It's hardest when both kids need me at the same time and I have to decide which need gets met first when they can't be met simultaneously. But I have the privilege of watching two unique and beautiful souls grow up and bond with each other. My son can make my daughter smile and laugh like no one else. My daughter calls her brother "bubba" and he smiles everyone he hears it. They have a special sibling love that I pray grows as they do. No, it's not always easy but that's motherhood. The important thing to remember is that every season brings its own kind of beautiful.

We still find time to be just me and my son. We have little dates and we do special activities when sister naps alone. Our family dynamic has changed but my relationship with my son has remained mostly the same. I have to work a little harder for the one-on-one time with him, but it's worth it. He's become the most fantastic helper. He takes pride in his role as big brother. It's been really neat to see him grow and change since the addition of our daughter. He's no longer my baby or my one and only, but he's still momma's boy and we still share a strong bond.

So, soon-to-be mom of two, enjoy the time you have left with your one and only. Sit on the floor and play. Memorize your firstborn right now in this moment. And know that the new baby joining your family is going to bring a brand new dimension of love. It will all work out and you'll be amazed at how full your heart can be. ❤️

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Essential Oils & Childbirth - My Experince

My birth plan with Annabelle was the same as with Camden. I wanted to have a natural, non-medicated, hands-off birth. Having birthed Camden this way, I knew what to expect (pending no complications or surprises) but this time around I had a new weapon in my arsenal- essential oils! I'm relatively new to the world of essential oils so I'm still learning about them. However, I fell in love with them from the first use and knew that I wanted to incorporate them into my birth with Annabelle. 

I began researching essential oils and childbirth during my second trimester. Most of my sources were lovely blogs filled with stories of personal birthing experiences. I loved reading all of these stories and using their insight to compose my list of oils to include in my hospital bag! I tried to choose oils that I already had or ones that weren't too expensive to add to my collection. 

I put together my little bag of oily goodness late in my third trimester. I kept them all together (in my hospital bag) for easy access and gave my husband a detailed list of which oils to use when, where, and for what. Here's the breakdown:

Lavender. This is one of my favorite oils! I packed a small bottle (undiluted) to use in my diffuser throughout my labor. We started diffusing it as soon as we got into our room. At one point I remember the doctor coming in our room to check on me and saying that the atmosphere felt so calm! Thank you, lavender! 

Peppermint. I remembered getting incredibly nauseous during my labor with Camden so I packed peppermint oil specifically in case that happened again. Sure enough, right as I was getting ready to push, I got super nauseous. Jacob grabbed the peppermint oil and held it under my nose for me to smell. Instantly, my nausea disappeared! 

PanAway roller (diluted with fractionated coconut oil). PanAway is an awesome oil for helping relieve pain and discomfort. Obviously this was a no-brainier to bring along! I could've used it undiluted but I know that my skin is extra sensitive during pregnancy so I chose to dilute it in a roller bottle. Jacob applied this to my back and hips throughout my labor. It definitely help to lessen the pain during contractions! 

Stress Away roller (diluted in fractionated coconut oil). Stress Away is my favorite essential oil blend! It smells wonderful and really helps in those moments of stress! I tend to tense up when I'm stressed out or in pain so I wanted this oil to help me relax. Jacob rolled it on my wrists throughout my labor so that I could smell it whenever I wanted, which was basically nonstop, haha. 

Valor. I was lucky enough to have a very sweet member of an oily group I belong to gift me a bottle of Valor to use during my labor! I got it in the mail a couple days before I had Annabelle, so I tucked it into my hospital bag with the rest of my stash. I wanted this oil specifically for pushing. If you read either of my birth stories, you know that I hate pushing. I was terrified of it with Camden and couldn't seem to shake that fear with Annabelle. Valor promotes feelings of bravery so I knew I needed it in my oily arsenal! Jacob started diffusing Valor as I was hitting 10cm and put a drop on my chest when I was getting ready to push. I truly believe that this oil helped save me from a c-section. Annabelle was face up and presented face first (meaning her little face was the first thing coming out). Because of all the stress and strain, she was very purple as her face presented. There was a sense of urgency, being that we didn't know if something else was causing her discoloration (such as lack of oxygen). The doctors had me pushing nonstop, with and without contractions. I was scared and seriously pushing with all my might. I knew if I wasn't be able to get her out quickly, we could have an emergency c-section on our hands. I remember feeling confident as I pushed, knowing that I could get her out if I just kept going. And even though I didn't end up being one of those women who births their baby with a push or two, it took me less than half the time to birth Annabelle as it did Camden (less than 30 minutes compared to 1.25hrs). I truly think that Valor gave me the extra boost I needed to push so fervently with Annabelle. And now whenever my husband and I smell Valor we're instantly reminded of Annabelle's birth. That scent will always have a strong association for us, and we love it. 

Frankincense. I brought a few drops of Frankincense to anoint Annabelle after her birth. This oil has a multitude of benefits, including healing and brain growth. We didn't dilute the oil but we did apply the drop to my finger before rubbing it on her forehead. 

Gentle Baby. This lovely essential oil blend smells like baby powder and I love it! I made a diaper rash balm for Annabelle using Gentle Baby and coconut oil (which, by the way, has successfully prevented any diaper rashes so far!). I brought the whole bottle to diffuse some after Annabelle's birth. We diffused a combination of this and lavender during most of our stay in the hospital. This oil can also be applied to mom and baby for bonding. 

(I also packed a dropper bottle of fractionated coconut oil in case I decided to dilute any of the straight oils I brought.)

I was already a lover of essential oils and incorporating them into my birthing experience just intensified that love! They truly helped me make it through my natural labor with Annabelle. I was very thankful to have each one I packed and I would certainly recommend them for any momma who wants to have an unmedicated birth! 

On a totally related note, I wanted to mention that Clary Sage essential oil helped me get my labor going. I had Jacob massage it into my ankles on Saturday night, after I had been having prodromal labor all week and strong contractions throughout that day. I walked on the elliptical for half an hour after he applied it, then went to bed. I woke up in true labor around 3am! 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Annabelle's Birth Story

Annabelle's Birth Story

I had been having prodromal labor throughout the week leading up to Annabelle's due date. I would have contractions that got decently strong and close together and then they would stop, usually when I went to bed. There were a couple days when I really thought I was in early labor, consistently having contractions 10-12 minutes apart for hours. It felt just like early labor with Camden. There were even two nights when they got down to 5-6 minutes apart! But, without fail, the contractions would slow down and eventually stop altogether when I went to bed. So when I went to bed with contractions on Saturday night, I didn't think they would last (after all, I had been having contractions steadily throughout the day but they weren't getting longer, stronger, and closer together). In an attempt to encourage labor, I had Jake massage my ankles with clary sage essential oil and then I spent half an hour on the elliptical before I went to bed. When I woke up at 3:30am to contractions that were too strong to sleep through, I felt like this was it! I stayed in bed, trying to rest while I timed them at 8-9 minutes apart for an hour. At that point, I decided to get up, have a snack, and sit on my exercise ball to see if that brought them on stronger. By 6:30am my contractions were down to 5-6 minutes apart and too strong for me to really walk and talk through. I called my doctor's office and woke up Jake. I was told to head to the hospital to be checked so we took our time, got things together, and got ready to go. I had a little breakdown at this point- I felt really sad to be leaving Camden (even though I knew he was in good hands with my parents), and just overwhelmed about the huge change happening! I gave Cam lots of kisses and we were on our way. My contractions were coming every 4 minutes at this point, and felt really awful sitting in the car. We got to the hospital around 7:30am, checked in, and were brought right into a triage room. I had my cervix checked- at this point and found out that I was 90% effaced and 6cm dilated! (That was huge progress considering I was "more than 1cm" on Friday morning when I had a prenatal appointment and got my membranes stripped). We were officially admitted at 8:50am, got into our room and things progressed quickly! I had an IV of penicillin (since I tested GBS+ again) my contractions were strong and close together; Jake was my superhero at this point, helping me get comfortable and reminding me to take deep breaths through each contraction. We worked so well together, it was perfect. I wanted to have another natural, unmedicated birth so it helped a lot to have Jake there to apply counter pressure and help me find good positions for working through the pain. He also remembered to use the various essential oils I packed to help with different aspects of my labor. I spent a lot of time laboring on all fours, hoping to encourage Annabelle to move from face front to face back (the doctor told us she was facing forward when she checked my cervix). My contractions got really close together after I spent some time in a hot shower, so we decided to be checked again. I was at 8cm with a bulging amniotic sac so we decided to have the doctor rupture my waters. That got me right up to 9cm and made my contractions extremely intense... At this point, it felt like my contractions were right on top of each other, with double-peaks. It was certainly intense and I started to really struggle getting through them. I kept moving and finding different positions that helped me work through the pain. I labored through maybe 10 more contractions and felt ready to push. The doctor came back to check me and told me that I had a small anterior lip and needed to work through a few more contractions before I could start pushing. It was really tough to be in that limbo where my body felt ready to push but I had to wait. Those contractions were the hardest ones to work through, but it was only a couple before the doctor checked again and said that baby's head was already moving over the lip so I was good to start pushing. Now, I've got to say, I don't like pushing. I know a lot of woman say it's so good to be able to do something with the contractions, and obviously at that point you know baby is almost in your arms which is amazing... But pushing hurts like crazy and scares me. Jake diffused some Valor essential oil and applied some to my chest to help me with that apprehension. Pushing was much harder with Annabelle than it was with Camden. And we found out why pretty quickly- baby girl was face up and presenting face first! They had me push from a reclined position, then moved me to my left side. It felt better to push from my side (laying on my back was the most painful position throughout my labor), but Annabelle's heart rate dropped a bit in that position so I was moved to my back again. I pushed for a few contractions that way then moved to my right side. I had bad nausea at this point and thought I was going to throw up. Jake gave me some peppermint essential oil to smell and that helped quell the nausea and stopped me from throwing up. I think it was at this point that my oxygen level tanked and they put an oxygen mask on me. The smell of the mask made my nausea worse and I tried to take it off but the concerned look on Jake's face told me that I needed it. I started to make some good progress on my right side, so they moved me to my back to get ready for delivery. Even though it hurt the most, I made the best progress on my back. I remember the doctor saying that they could see Annabelle's eyes around this time! All of the doctors/nurses in the room seemed kind of excited about her face-first presentation but there was also a sense of urgency. Everyone kept telling me to push harder and I was struggling to push any harder than I already was! I literally pushed so hard that I ruptured a bunch of blood vessels around my eyes (Jake told me to relax my face but I couldn't even process it at that point). At the end, I was pushing nonstop even without contractions. It was brutal but after about 30 minutes of pushing, at 12:50pm, our baby girl arrived! Her face was extremely purple from bruising and her eyes were very swollen, but she was immediately placed on my chest and scored an 8 on her first APGAR (she scored 9 on her second). All things considered, she handled birth very well! I was able to hold Annabelle skin-to-skin for about an hour and a half, and it was amazing. She nursed and snuggled and made the cutest little squeaky newborn noises. It was instant love! When I finally let the nurse take baby girl, she weighed in at 6lbs 11oz and measured 18.5 inches long (exactly 1oz and 1 inch less than Camden at birth). I also faired well with the birth. The doctor told me afterwards that a face-first birth is very rare, and she was impressed that we were able to make it happen naturally without any tearing. I felt like I was tearing wide open pushing so it was a relief to find out I didn't tear at all! Throughout our time in the hospital, Annabelle was the talk of the nurses and doctors. We even had a few ask if we recorded the birth so they could see her facial presentation (no, we didn't). Our little girl is certainly a rarity between that and being born on her actual due date! We had a sign that said "my face is bruised" taped to her bassinet so no one would panic over her purpleish hue. The bruise has been fading well, and now the only concern is her bilirubin level as her body works to break down the healing bruise. Her level hasn't gone too high but it's still being monitored regularly by her pediatrician. Other than that, we are both perfectly healthy! I'm so unbelievably thrilled that we had another amazing, natural birthing experience! During my pregnancy I prayed for another natural birth, just faster. And that prayer was certainly answered! Annabelle was born just four hours after we were admitted! From the time I was first awake with contractions to her being in arms was a little over 9 hours. Amazing. (I labored for about 15 hours with Camden, 11 of that being in the hospital and 1.25hrs spent pushing). Annabelle's birth was much more intense but I'm so happy with how it all turned out! We're head over heels in love with our baby girl! She's the perfect addition to our family. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Let Grace Abound

Let Grace Abound

"For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law but under grace." 
Romans 6:14

Ahh, grace. What a beautiful gift! Grace sets us free. Grace redeems us, in all our unworthiness. Grace beings reconciliation and eternal life. 

If you've ever read or studied the Old Testament, you've seen a bleak picture of hopelessness. Man has fallen into sin and depravity, separating all of humanity from God. To bridge the gap, God offers The Law. He gives man a clear set of rules and regulations by which to live. Breaking The Law meant punishment and exile. Man knew what to do, yet, due to sin nature, they failed to obey. Repeatedly. The Old Testament is full of stories of God reaching out to His people, redeeming them, and then them going on to rebel against God and bring judgment upon themselves. Over and again. Opportunity, redemption, rebellion, exile. It's truly a sad and hopeless cycle, if you think about it. The strict laws and consequences were meant to keep God's people in obedient submission. Yet, thanks to sin, they constantly rebelled and widened the gap between God and man. 

Then comes the New Testament! After showing humanity that they could not be holy on their own, God offers the Ultimate Sacrifice to bring reconciliation once and for all. God sends His own son to die for the sins of humanity and, through His death and resurrection, usher in a new way of living in relationship with God! Gone are the days of living under The Law! God replaces rigid guidelines with grace. Amazing grace! 

What does this mean? Instead of being subjected to living under The Law of the Old Testament we, as New Testament believers, are offered a gentler alternative. We are offered reconciliation with God, through His gracious gift of Jesus Christ. Rather than struggling to adhere to The Law, we are redeemed by the blood of Christ! Grace has saved us from inevitable death (that is, eternal separation from God). Jesus has paid our debt. 

Now, we are still called to obey God's commands. However, we have a constant companion in the Holy Spirit to do so. We are not asked to obey by our own power; for indeed the Old Testament has shown us that man's power is not enough to truly bring reconciliation between God and man. Rather than being bound under The Law we are now set free by grace!

The image we see of God in the Old Testament is one of an unreachable, strict Father. Yet this side of God's character was shown to prove the point that we could not reconcile ourselves. In the New Testament we see God as gracious and patient. He knew that The Law would not redeem us. That is why His perfect plan all along was the sacrifice of His Son. Grace was always God's plan; through Christ that plan was fulfilled once and for all. 

What does this mean to us, as parents? I believe it means that we have a beautiful model to follow, and that is one of grace-based parenting. Oftentimes the model that is shown to us by "parenting experts" is reflective of God's Old Testament character. It is a parenting style based on punishment rather than grace. But aren't we dead to The Law, that is the Old Testament way of living? Aren't we ourselves saved by grace? If we have been shown such grace despite all our shortcomings, don't our children deserve to be shown grace as well? 

I'm not saying that children should not be disciplined, corrected or guided. The point I'm trying to make is that we should parent on a basis of grace. Not punishment. Grace meets us where we are and helps us to overcome the things we struggle with. Isn't that what we want for our children? That's certainty what I want for mine!

As parents, we are our children's first glimpse of God. Do we want them to believe that He is rigid, unforgiving, and ready to punish us the second we make a mistake? Or do we want them to see that God is slow to anger, full of forgiveness, and abounding in love and grace? If we are to be an example of God for our children then we also should show grace in all situations. 

Ironically, the only way we can show this kind of grace to our children is by the grace of God Himself working in our lives! (A little caveat here: we must also remember to show grace to ourselves! No parent is perfect. We all make mistakes. What matters is that we learn from those mistakes and move past them.) As we receive, so shall we give. As He fills, we empty. As He continually bestows grace to us, let us likewise bestow grace to our children. Let grace abound, in and through us. Amen. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Ultrasound & Gender Reveal

We had our anatomical ultrasound yesterday morning and found out that we are having a GIRL!!! <3

I had a feeling we might be having a girl this time around but I wasn't as certain as I was with Camden. Also, ever since we told Camden that he was going to be a big brother he insisted that he was getting a baby sister. Anytime we asked him "what's in mommy's belly?", he would reply "baby sister!". We tried to convince him that it might be a baby brother but he would hear nothing of it! Haha. I guess he had some big brother intuition going on ;) So I think that made me think girl even more, so I wasn't entirely sure if it was Cam's little voice in my head or my own intuition. Either way, I'm thrilled that we're having a girl!!

Our ultrasound was awesome. Jacob was able to take the day off from work to go with me, super thankful for that! Baby girl was transverse in my uterus- laying side to side. We got a lot of great views of her profile right away, then we saw her heart (with four perfect chambers), her abdomen, arms, legs... The technician said she couldn't get a clear enough view to tell us the gender initially but that she would keep looking as the scan continued. A couple minutes later, she said "and it looks like you're having a baby girl!" I was so shocked at first! We didn't find out Camden's gender until the end of our ultrasound so we were both surprised to know so quickly. The technician told us that she was confident that baby's anatomy was a girl, which is reassuring! I was so happy and excited that I cried a bit at that point. I just couldn't believe that we were being blessed with a little girl!! In all honesty, when we first found out that I was pregnant I was slightly terrified by the thought of having a girl. The boy mom life is all I know, so it scared me to think of having a girl and it all being so brand new again. But as my pregnancy went on and I thought about it more, I realized how amazing it would be to have a daughter! Every baby/child is different so it would all be new again in a way no matter what. There are so many things I'll be able to share with this little girl that I won't be able to experience with Camden. I think it will be really awesome to be able to have all the fun and experiences of having both a son and a daughter! Gosh, I feel overwhelmingly blessed just thinking about it! We have a beautiful, perfect little boy and now God is blessing us with a beautiful, perfect little girl! It's amazing. Amazing.

Back to the ultrasound- everything looked perfect! The technician said she got great views of everything she needed to see and that there were no markers for any special needs or complications. Baby girl cooperated so well, and even wiggled quite a bit for us. She had her little feet pressed against the top of my uterus most of the time, but would occasionally kick them around, giving up perfect pictures of her adorable little feet! She had her hands up by her face a lot, too, which reminded me of Camden in all of his ultrasounds! She measured right on track for my due date of February 7th so that will be staying the same. I was a little surprised to hear that! I thought for sure it would get bumped back to somewhere between February 12-14, but I guess not! Although part of me is still hoping for a Valentine's Day baby! I think that would be a cool birthday for a little girl ;) But our due date is set for February 7, 2016 so we'll see!

Now on to the gender reveal part... I knew that I wanted to do a little something special to share the gender news with our friends and family. I had tons of ideas and it was tough to chose which one to do! But Jake and I both liked the idea of having Camden holding a pink or blue balloon to make the announcement. We had one of each color filled and took the pictures on Monday so that we would be ready to share as soon as we personally told our parents and a couple close friends first. Camden cooperated great for the picture-taking, offering plenty of smiles and assuring me, yet again, that he was getting a baby sister, haha. I edited the pictures and we were set to go! Now for our parents, we wanted to do something else special. Jake had the idea to fill two separate bags with pink things and blue things, ship a set to his parents, and have them open the correct bag once we knew the gender. This way, they had both bags set to open and, again, nothing to do but find out once we knew. Timing didn't work for them to all open together via Skype or FaceTime, but we were able to share the experience with each set of parents individually. My mom was at home watching Camden and my dad was at work, so we had the two of them Skype while my mom opened the bag. As I expected, my mom totally flipped out with excitement as soon as she saw the pink! It was a fun, exciting moment that I wish I had thought to record. Next, we Skyped with Jake's parents a couple hours later when they were both free. They were able to open their bag together, which was nice. My mother-in-law also screamed with excitement when she saw the pink! They asked if we were serious and we assured them that they were getting a granddaughter! It was a really fun and special way to share our big news with the grandparents. As far as sharing it with the rest of the world, we used the picture above to post to Facebook and Instagram.

Even as I've typed up this blog, it still seems so surreal to me. I'm still in shock that we're having a girl! I already love this little lady so much and I can't wait to meet her in a few short months. I know that Camden is going to be the sweetest big brother, and I'm pretty sure my heart is going to explode when I see the two of them together! Ahhh, I'm blessed beyond measure! Bring on all the pink things! :D

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Baby Hildreth #2!

I'm baaaack! It's been nearly a year since my last blog post (oops) but I'm hoping to get better at blogging more often. Hopefully. We'll see ;)

Right now I am about 17 weeks pregnant with baby Hildreth #2! We found out that we were expecting again on June 2nd. We had the pregnancy confirmed with a blood draw on June 4th that had my hCG at 83. I requested an immediate blood test because we lost two pregnancies early on this year (January 23rd & April 4th) and I was worried that my levels might be low. But everything came back right on track and we've been doing great so far! My doctor set my due date at February 7, 2016. I think it'll get moved closer to Valentine's Day after my anatomical ultrasound (my due date got bumped back 8 days with Cam) but we'll see. Now that we have that all out in the open, I want to recap this pregnancy so far...

My first trimester had me in a constant state of nausea and exhaustion. I had some off-and-on morning all-day sickness with Camden but nothing too bad. This pregnancy was similar but the nausea lasted longer throughout each day. It was never terrible (no throwing up, thank goodness) but it made it tough to eat much or workout regularly. Plus, being pregnant with a toddler to chase around is a whole new game! Haha. Camden keeps me quite busy! But I took advantage of nap time to sleep while he slept. Thank goodness for naps! I also had a terrible aversion to meat and veggies (go figure, since that's usually the majority of my diet) for most of my first trimester. Just looking at raw meat that I planned to cook for dinner made my stomach turn, forget about attempting to touch it! I couldn't. Poor Jacob ended up coming home from work and cooking dinner or pretending to be happy with breakfast food for dinner for quite a few weeks, haha. I lived off of scrambled eggs, dry cereal, and fruit. It was rough but I'm glad to be past that phase.

So far, the second trimester has been amazing! I have my appetite and energy back, and I've been feeling little flutters of movement since about 15 weeks! I've felt a few stronger movements, possibly very early kicks in the past week, too. I forgot how incredible it is to feel baby move around in there! It's one of the coolest feelings ever. I love it. Ironically, as my energy has spiked Camden has decided that he doesn't nap anymore (wahhh!). I was seriously hoping to get a few months of overlapping naps from Cam & baby but it looks like that was just wishful thinking. Oh well. We've been reconfiguring our schedule and making it work. Now that he isn't napping, he joins me for my afternoon workout! That's probably my favorite part of this whole no-nap thing ;). I've been doing a mix of 21 Day Fix and PiYo so far during this pregnancy. I'm starting to modify a few moves here and there, and I occasionally have to pause to do something for Camden or catch my breath, but I'm doing my best every day. I feel so much better when I workout regularly, pregnant or not. And I fully believe that staying active during my pregnancy with Camden helped me to have a great birthing experience. Squats help with labor, ya know! So I plan to do as much as I can (with my doctor's permission, of course) for as long as I can.

That's all I can think of for the major highlights so far! The next big highlight is on the 15th when we (should) find out the gender! I'm super excited and anxious to know! I have a guess but since I was right with Camden I'm opting not to share my opinion this time around ;). I can't wait to see our little belly baby in just 13 days! Hopefully baby cooperates so we can announce the gender later that day. I'll try to post more regular updates but I'm not sure I'll be able to do weekly ones like I did with Cam (sorry, baby #2!). If you want to see more updates and bump shots, feel free to follow me on Instagram (@fitmommalifestyle). Thanks for taking the time to read and follow along on this new baby journey! <3

P.S. I'm also in the process of giving the blog a makeover so bear with me while it looks wonky! Haha.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

What Parents of High-Needs Babies Wish Other People Understood

I wrote this blog post months and months ago, but never actually posted it. This comes deep from my heart. Since having Camden, Jacob and I have received a lot of negative input and judgment from others over our son. Camden is unique: he isn't the typical easy-going baby. Contrarily, he has high needs and a very persistent personality. This was obvious to us from our very first night home with him. Most people do not understand what it is like to have a baby like Camden. Truthfully, I don't think you can fully understand what it's like to raise a high-needs baby unless you've done so yourself. So take this as an open letter to anyone who does not have personal experience raising a high-needs baby. Please read it and please, please stop judging and condemning those of us who are doing the best we can to raise our high-needs children.

(Keep in mind- I refer to high-needs babies throughout this post but high-needs babies grow into high-needs children, so this rings true for children as well as babies with this personality)

What Parents of High-Needs Babies Wish Other People Understood:

1. We're not lying. There is such a thing as a high-needs baby. More than once I have had someone scoff at me when I mention that my son is high-needs. I've had people tell me there's no such thing as high-needs babies. Take it from those of us who know first hand, there certainly is! High-needs (or "spirited" as they're also called) babies are more intense, sensitive, perceptive, and expressive than easy-going babies/children. They require a little bit more from their parents- more patience, more attention, more time, more explaining, more touch, more interaction, more gentleness, more understanding. High-needs babies have a very distinct personality. They typically do not settle well, they're very sensitive to day-to-day routines and are therefore upset by changes, they enjoy being held/carried/worn a lot, they are more easily bothered and frustrated by things, they have very keen senses, and they do not hesitate to express themselves whether out of happiness or displeasure. A wonderful resource for understanding the unique characteristics of high-needs children is this article by renowned pediatrician Dr. Sears. Believe us, high-needs babies do indeed exist! All adults do not have the same personality and disposition, do they? The same is true for babies; each is unique and some more intense than others.

2. We're not bad parents. A high-needs child is not a reflection of poor parenting. This fact goes hand-in-hand with point #1. Just as I've had people tell me that there's no such thing as a high-needs baby, I've also had people tell me that my baby isn't high-needs, I'm just a bad parent and can't handle my child. Not only is this comment rude and hurtful, it is extremely ignorant. While it is true that children reflect their parenting as they grow older, a high-needs baby is born with this disposition. I knew that Camden was of this nature within his first week of life outside my womb. He was very sensitive to lights, cold wipes, being swaddled, and nursing. He has needed so much more from me since he was born. My parenting did not make him this way. Rather, my parenting has adapted to the needs of my child. That is to say, it is not my parenting that has dictated my child's personality but my child's personality that has dictated my parenting. I know my child well enough to know that if I take him out on errands and we are not home at nap time, he will not simply settle down and fall asleep wherever he is but rather will grow agitated and fussy over the fact that he is not in his usual sleep environment for nap time. While parents of easy-going babies can, and often do, force their children to adapt to their own lifestyle, parents of high-needs babies must learn to build their days around the needs of their child. Which leads me to my third point.

3. Our babies aren't spoiled. High-needs babies are not spoiled. A parent of an easy-going child may look at my previous point and say that I'm simply spoiling my child by adapting to him rather than making him adapt to me. Part of this is due to my commitment to attachment parenting but it is also largely due to the nature of my child. I know that if Camden is out at the grocery store with me and nap time rolls around he is going to get tired, cranky, and quite fussy. He will protest the fact that I have disrupted our usual daily routine. He will not simply lean over and fall asleep in the carriage, as an easy-going baby will do. His high-needs personality means he is more sensitive to his environment and will have a very difficult time settling down outside of the norm that he expects. This does not mean he is spoiled. It means that he is perceptive and sensitive and thrives within the boundaries of an expected routine. Rather than force my child to be frustrated and uncomfortable, I have decided that it is best for both of us to work around his needs. Similarly, I know that Camden enjoys being held, worn and carried. He thrives in that closeness. Some would say that I am spoiling my child by holding him so much. However, I believe that I am meeting my child's need for closeness while building a trusting bond between us. I don't think it's possible to spoil a baby by holding him too much! Especially not my high-needs baby.

4. We aren't being antisocial. Any outing, especially far from home, is more tricky with a high-needs baby. As you may have gathered from above, outings must be planned around the needs and expectations of a high-needs baby. Just because your baby or your friend's baby can make a 12-hour car ride just fine does not mean every baby is the same way. For instance, Camden hates being in his carseat and stopped sleeping in the car at 10 months old (now at nearly 18 months old he will occasionally fall asleep in the car if he is tired enough). It doesn't matter if we're in the car for 10 minutes or 2 hours, Camden does not like it and is not afraid to express his displeasure. This makes any trip tricky to plan. Everyone knows that going somewhere with a baby or child requires more planning to begin with, right? Imagine that plus a little bit more and you have an outing with a high-needs child. I'm not saying it's impossible to go anywhere or do anything with a high-needs baby. What I'm saying is that it requires much more planning and flexibility, especially during the early years. Quite frankly, any long trip with Camden is much more frustration and work than it is worth. I would rather postpone long trips until Camden is older than subject him to the inevitable displeasure such a trip will mean for him. Traveling and high-needs babies simply do not mix well. I can say that outings have become a little easier as Camden has aged. However, he still hates long car rides and doesn't do well having his daily routine disrupted.

5. Our babies aren't negative. High-needs babies are not "difficult" or "bad". Please, do not call our high-needs children difficult or bad. Sure, they can be challenging as they require so much more. But "difficult" and "bad" are very negative words to attach to such a wonderfully rare personality. In my opinion, calling my high-needs baby difficult is just as rude as if I were to call your easy-going baby boring. I do not view Camden's needs as something negative. Rather, I see them as a part of what makes him the amazing boy he is. As such, I wouldn't change his high-needs personality for the world! Which leads me to my final point.

6. We wouldn't change our babies. Being high-needs is not a bad thing. It really isn't. You might be reading this, whether you have children or not, and thinking "gosh, this high-needs stuff sounds like a real pain!" There are days that are more challenging than others, but that's a fact of life when you're a parent. Truth is, for every bit of "more" that you pour into a high-needs child, you get just as much in return. Camden has been ahead of the curve in every major milestone (minus cutting teeth, but that has nothing to do with his own abilities). He started rolling over at two months old, was starting to army crawl by five months, standing and cruising by 9 months, and walking by 10 months. This is not unusual for high-needs babies! They often develop and master skills faster. Their personalities make them more in-tune to their surroundings. Their natural perception leads to many questions which in turn leads to more learning. High-needs children also empathize better with others, due to their sensitive nature. (I think this world could use more empathy, don't you?). So while it is true that a high-needs baby or child is more challenging, they are exponentially worth every ounce of "more" we can give them.

Hopefully this post has given you some insight into life with a high-needs baby or child!

(Please note that this isn't meant to be an attack on parents with easy-going babies. We're all doing the best we can raising our children! This post is simply meant to help those without high-needs babies to understand what life with a high-needs baby is like.)

This is an excellent resource for more information about high-needs babies:
Dr. Sears | High Needs Baby