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

Friday, February 7, 2014

9 & 10 month favorites

9 & 10 month favorites

1. Leapfrog My Discovery House. This has been one of Camden's favorite toys to play with for some time now! His favorite part is the refrigerator door that opens and closes (in fact, this is the toy that I referred to in this post). When it's on the "opposites" setting it says "open" and "closed" accordingly when he moves the fridge door. It's helped him recognize those words when we repeat them as he opens and closes other things. This is a really fun toy for curious minds and busy hands! 

2. The First Years Take & Toss Cup. Camden has always been great at taking a bottle but it took a little more effort to find a sippy cup that he liked. One of my best friends sent us a pack of these for Christmas and Camden loved them! So much so that they've become our go-to sippy cup. They do leak and the cover pops off on occasion when Cam inevitably throws it on the floor when he's done sipping off it, haha. But overall they're great cups at a great price. They ended being "gateway" cups for us (for lack of a better way to describe them)- they were the first sippy he'd really take but since then he has taken to a few others as well.

3. Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Crawl Around Car. This toy was a Christmas gift from one of Camden's Uncles/Aunts, and boy does he love it! There's so much to do with this car! There are different settings, shapes, lights, music, and so much more. Camden loves changing the "radio" and opening and closing the door (over and over again!). He also enjoys standing inside the car, walking forward, and ramming into other toys with it, hahaha! He's such a boy. This is definitely one of his favorite toys right now.

4. Playskool Poppin Park Elefun Popper. Another favorite toy, for sure! This was a Christmas gift from Grammy and Grampy. Camden wasn't too sure about it at first but he's taken to it lately. He loves pressing the button to turn it on then standing up and pushing it around while he walks. I feel like I spend most of our playtime chasing down the balls around the living room at least Camden enjoys the entertainment! 

5. V-Tech Musical Bubbles Octopus. Camden is a total water baby. He looooves bath time (or as we call it, splish splash time!). He has tons of rubber duckies and other various bath toys but this is the favorite. He loves trying to catch the bubbles while they float through the air! We like that it's completely waterproof because it has been pulled right off the side of the tub more than once. I wish the music was a little louder but overall we love this toy. 

6. Jake and the Neverland Pirates Play-a-Sound Book. We've been reading Camden books since he was in my belly so it's no surprise that he still loves listening to them. These days he's completely captivated by this book! Every time he grabs it we have to read it at least 2-3 times through. He likes turning the pages and helping me press the buttons to play the sound. I don't know if it's just because he loves Jake and the Neverland Pirates, or because he likes the sounds, or his love for being read to, but this book always puts a smile on his cute little face! 

7. Mickey Mouse Floor Puzzle (I couldn't find a link to the exact one Camden has but that one is similar). This was a Christmas gift from another Uncle and it was a favorite from the minute he opened it! It's made out of a thick foam so obviously Camden loves to chew on it. He doesn't know how to put puzzles together yet but he has a lot of fun tearing it apart after someone puts it together for him. He'll crawl around holding onto a piece, which is exactly what he did all of Christmas morning. 

8. Munchkin Snack Catchers. Best snack cups ever! They keep his little finger foods contained but still allow him to get some without our help. These were another item that Camden didn't like at first but now that he has the hang of it they're a favorite. We mostly use them when we're out running errands so that he has a snack to occupy him without spilling it everywhere. Although he has learned that if he sticks a few fingers inside the lid and flips it upside down he can spill the snacks out. Yeah, he's a clever one. Stinker. But these cups are great nonetheless! 

9. Jake and the Neverland Pirates "Yo Ho Matey" CD & 10. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse CD. Camden loves.loves.loves music!! Basically any music. He'll sing along and dance whenever music comes on. Whether it's a TV show theme song or the country radio station, he loves listening to music. These two CDs in particular are favorites, though! We bought the Mickey Mouse CD before we took our road trip to PA back in October; the Jake CD was another Christmas gift from an Uncle. We keep these in the car and play them pretty much all the time (yes, I know all the songs by heart and frequently catch myself singing or humming them. Mom life, haha). They're a lifesaver when Camden has a I-do-not-want-to-be-in-my-carseat-anymore meltdown, which happens all too often these days now that he's mobile. 

As always, this list could go on and on and on... But these are a few items that get used all the time around here! Camden is at such a fun, playful age now. He's learning and discovering new things everyday! It's incredibly neat to watch him develop. We spend a lot of time crawling around the floor playing together these days. I love it! He has such a great attention span for a baby. He'll play with one toy for awhile before going after something else. He also enjoys getting his sticky fingers on anything that isn't one of his toys, so I could really include cell phones, glasses, Ada's DS case, Unkie Fwog's lunchbox, empty water bottles, hand towels, and basically anything else within his reach on this list ;] He's into everything these days! Typical kid, right? It's fun though! He keeps me on my toes. And I wouldn't have it any other way! 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Perspective

Yesterday morning I was eating my usual protein waffle for breakfast while Camden ate played with his scrambled egg and cheese. He usually loves eggs and cheese but he was disinterested in eating even a single bite of it. After a few minutes he began to fuss so I scooped up the egg, put it back in his bowl, put the cover on it, and took Camden out of his highchair. I told him that he could play for a few minutes while I finished my food, placing him on the floor beside me and setting his bowl down on the table next to my plate. No sooner did his little body touch the floor than he stood up and reached for his bowl. I thought to myself, "of course, now that I put it away he wants it" as he managed to pull it off the tabletop. The bowl fell to the ground and Camden anxiously picked it up. He tried to remove the cover, unsuccessfully, so I pulled it off for him, certain that the egg was heading straight for the floor. Much to my surprise, Camden grabbed a piece of his food and quickly stuck it in his mouth. He then proceeded to snatch the cover out of my hand and place it back atop the bowl. I gave him a smile and said "closed". He then smiled in return, pulled the cover off, looked at me as I said "open", and grabbed another bite of his egg. At this point I caught on to what he was doing. Instead of putting him back in his highchair and attempting to feed him that way again, I joined him on the floor and continued holding his bowl. The sequence continued- take cover off bowl, "open", grab bite of food, eat, put cover on bowl, "closed". We sat on the floor together repeating this pattern until his bowl was nearly empty.

As I watched my precious boy cover and uncover his bowl I recalled a bit of parenting advice that I heard long before I was even pregnant with Camden. The advice was simple- "get behind the eyes of your child". I couldn't tell you exactly when or where I heard it, only that it resonated with me and was brought to my remembrance during this seemingly unrelated event yesterday morning. You see, my initial reaction to Camden wanting his food only after it was cleaned up and placed (supposedly) out of his reach was aggravation. "Yeah yeah, I had you sitting in your highchair with the food right in front of you and you wanted nothing to do with it. Now that I've cleaned it up and gone back to eating my own breakfast you're suddenly interested in eating your food. That figures." I'm not proud to admit that, but it is what it is- I'm far from perfect and my patience runs low at times. It wasn't until I got down on Camden's level (literally in this situation) and tried to see the situation from his perspective that I understood what was going on. My boy is high-needs. He needs a lot of attention, touch, play, nurturing, basically a little bit more of everything. In this situation, he was trying to tell me that he needed my full attention and that he wanted me to help him work on a fine motor skill he's been perfecting recently. (He's taken to opening and closing a door on one specific toy he loves. The toy says "open" and "closed" accordingly, hence my choice of words instead of "cover" and "uncover". He doesn't tend to spend very long playing with one toy at a time but this one is a different story. Whenever he plays with this toy I can see him concentrate on opening and closing the little door, grasping it gently with his pincers, and moving it slowly back and forth. I know it probably doesn't sound like much but I'm certain it's a big deal to him. He'll play with it for awhile, opening and closing the door repeatedly.) That morning with his bowl and cover I could tell (or should I say, my mommy-intuition could sense) that something greater than a battle of wills over eating breakfast was going on. Camden watched me cover his bowl and must've thought it looked like a good way to practice his new skill. Had I not paused and decided to get behind the eyes of my child, I would have missed this excellent opportunity to foster his learning.

I've been replaying this event in my head since it happened. If I simply told someone else this story it probably wouldn't sound like anything special. "Okay, cool, you sat on the floor while your kid played with his bowl, cover, and food. Great story." Right? But to me it was so much more. As I've pondered this event and thought of the importance of seeing the world through Camden's eyes, the Lord brought a Scripture verse to my heart:

"The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love." Psalm 145:8

Isn't that a beautiful picture of our Heavenly Father? Gracious, compassionate, patient and loving. Essentially, God is parenthood perfected; He is the perfect Father. As a parent, I strive to demonstrate these qualities towards my son. I want to be gracious, compassionate, patient, and loving towards Camden. I want to be conformed into the image of my perfect Heavenly Father in order to demonstrate Him to Camden. I want to reflect my God in such a way that Camden will get just a small glimpse of how perfect his Heavenly Father is. Does that make sense? If I am not gracious, compassionate, patient, and loving, how will Camden understand that God is all of these things perfected? I do not want to cloud his perception of God because I, as his mother, do not demonstrate these qualities towards my son. I believe that it is my duty to try to be the best mother I can be, by the grace of God. And I think a vital element in doing so is taking the time to change my perspective by getting behind Camden's eyes. Our perception shapes our reaction. That is to say, how we view any given situation determines how we respond to it. If I view a situation as threatening I am going to respond in a way that will protect me (and Camden, if he is with me).

Apply this to parenting: if I had viewed our breakfast situation as a mere annoyance and refused to let Camden have his bowl back, that learning opportunity would have been squelched and Camden most likely would have ended up very frustrated. Instead, by changing my perspective I was able to recognize the potential in the situation and use it in such a way as to help Camden hone his skill, all while bonding with him and giving him another chance to eat his food. Wouldn't you agree that a change in perspective brought a much better outcome in that situation? Only after I checked my frustration (slow to anger) was I able to happily engage in a learning event in Camden's life.

How often must God do that for us? We see the world very differently than God does, obviously. We are fallen, sinful, vastly imperfect human beings. However, because God is so gracious, compassionate, patient, and loving, He takes the time to look into our hearts and minds. Instead of striking us down whenever our perspective does not match His (which, lets face it, would be most of the time), He lovingly guides us. God, in His perfection, understands exactly what we are going through. He knows how we think, feel and act. He knows what it's like to be human, as He created humanity and allowed His Son to live among us as a human. God knows our struggles. He knows our weaknesses. He knows that our perspective is not perfect, as His is. Yet, He does not hold that against us. Rather, as our perfect Father, He gets behind our eyes and opens them to His truth. He fathers us. And He does so perfectly.

As earthly parents our perspective is more complete than that of our children. We see and understand things that they do not or cannot. Oftentimes we see the entire picture when they see only one frame. We can see the outcome of a situation that they do not grasp. We know that touching a hot burner will lead to a painful burn whereas our children might be overcome with curiosity and the desire to explore the unknown without knowledge of the potential harm. That's where our job of changing perspective comes in. We need to recognize how our kids see something and guide their perception while teaching and protecting them. Seeing the world through the eyes of a child is not only challenging but also enlightening. They have a lot to teach us, as we attempt to teach them. Seeing the world through their eyes will bring about a whole new facet of understanding our children as individuals. When we see things as they see them we are better equipped to understand and respond to their needs. It's a win-win situation, really. But in order to do so successfully we need to follow God's example. Don't berate the inevitable childhood mistakes inappropriately (show grace). Attempt to understand how your child thinks/feels about a situation (be compassionate). Take the time to change your perspective without losing your temper (be patient). And most importantly, do all things out of love (be a loving parent). If we take the time to model God's example to our children not only will they grow and thrive but so will we!

I so desperately want to mirror God's perfect example of grace, compassion, patience, and love to Camden! As a sinful human my imitation will be flawed at best. Yet, by the grace of God, I am given the privilege to try, everyday, to be the best mother that I can be. I know this is a heavy topic and much easier said (or blogged about) than done. I know that it's extremely challenging to pause and get behind the eyes of your child before reacting. I know. Thank God that He continues to be gracious, compassionate, patient, and loving towards us as we strive to be these things towards our children! With His help, may we change our perspective and be the very best parents possible!