Thursday, November 20, 2014

Preparing For A VBAC

I hate that I am even writing this post, because quite frankly, having a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), should be a non-issue by now. I should no more be faced with choosing whether to labor this time than I did before my cesarean. Sadly, that is not the case. I knew before even getting pregnant that finding a care provider, hassling with insurance, and making decisions would be an uphill battle from the very beginning. The reality is that VBAC moms do have more work to do than other pregnant mamas. More decisions to make, more healing to do, more battles to win.
Before I get any further, let's get the disclaimers out of the way. I am not a doctor or a midwife. I have no medical or professional training. I'm just a highly motivated, incredibly educated, well-researched, and very determined mama who wants to birth on her own terms. Please do not take anything you read here as valid advice (and while I don't always trust what an obstetrician has to say, you should definitely always ask questions of YOUR own care provider). I hope this post inspires you, answers questions for you, or offers in some way a snippet of support on your own journey. It's also important to note that just because I've decided this is what is right for me, it might not be right for you. As long as women and families are being offered choices and are educating themselves about the risks and rewards of labor, any way that each of us chooses to birth is okay. But if you don't know your options, then you don't have any.

As many of my family, friends, and readers know, our birth experience with Benjamin was traumatic and stressful. Our hoped-for natural delivery in a hospital with a nurse midwife turned into a timed, fear-riddled, unnecessary intervention-filled labor that resulted in a pushed cesarean from a condescending and unknown doctor. I was exhausted, numb to my lips, puking, and terrified. The first hours of my son are forever lost to a sea of drugs and sleep. Breastfeeding was hard (but we persevered), recovery was incredibly difficult after a major surgery, and I suffered from high anxiety and post partum depression. It was everything a new mother and family should not have to suffer through. Instead of welcoming our sweet baby home with joy, it was a miserable experience that still brings on tears and feelings of sadness. It was a painful day. It wasn't beautiful. But those are the moments that force us to grow into new people. I've gained so much from Ben's birth, and sometimes I don't think I would even trade the experience. It has forced me to be better, to be stronger, to know women, to love my son in ways I had to search hard for. It's pushed me to become educated about birth, about the way our bodies are designed, and how nature intends the mother-child relationship to develop. I can now look at my cesarean and feel blessed by the experience; the gap that bridged between my husband and I, the way I love him harder. The way I had to fight to love my son and be grateful for the traumatic way he entered the world-because he's here and I would suffer through that a million times again if it meant it was the only way he could be mine.

I'm not going to inundate this post with research, statistics, and facts. I just want to talk about my feelings and what I'm personally doing to prepare for my VBAC. Our backgrounds are probably different. Maybe you had a very necessary and life saving cesarean for which you are grateful. Maybe your cesarean was peaceful, with a doctor who cared about your needs and it was a wonderful experience! This also isn't to say that many women don't have alarming vaginal births, because I know many mamas who have. But VBAC moms have a label...we come with a 'story' about how/why we had the cesarean, with our surgery report/notes, and pray the provider we want will also want us and take the 'risk' of accepting us as a patient. I don't know your circumstances, so I can only speak for myself here.

For me, preparing my mind has been the most important. For me, the mind is where everything lives. Our bodies usually do what our minds tell them to. Getting physically prepared is important too, of course, but the mind controls everything. It's where the doubts, the fears, the excitement, and the hurt all live.  On my pregnancy journey, I've focused mostly on healing any lingering trauma that resides in my head.  There was never any doubt that I would 100% pursue a vaginal birth. My uterine scar is tough, it is healed. I have zero fear that it will 'rupture'. My body was made to do this, and it will.
| The Mind, The Emotions |
The mind is the greatest and most powerful tool you have before and during labor. Sometimes we just need to get out of our own way and allow our bodies to do the work they are designed to do. Giving up control (super hard for people like me), is a process that must be practiced. 
  1. Read, read, read. Read books. Read well-documented and footnoted articles. Read positive birth stories written by women who have had successful vbacs. (The Thinking Woman's Guide to Better Birth and Ina May's Guide to Childbirth are two my favorite books that normalize birth).
  2. Surround yourself with supportive, positive people. Sometimes we have well-meaning people in our lives who love and care about us, but their fears and worries are negative energy. Don't share your heart and spend your time trying to change their mind. Focus on the people who are 100% behind you. I know this sounds rude, but I often times won't even engage with people who are uneducated about this topic or truly care about having a quality conversation...if someone is only being judgmental, passive aggressive, or pushing their own opinions on me, I tune them out. This experience isn't about anyone but me and my family. 
  3. Join a support group. I was fortunate enough to find a local cesarean group that meets once a month and it was paramount in my healing. Online groups are incredible too. Search for a local ICAN chapter. 
  4. Journal, draw, write, scribble. How does your creative mind work? Our subconscious allows our thoughts and true feelings to come when we do so in a creative, un-forced way. I keep a journal by my bed and as I read things, talk to people, or spend meditative time with myself, I always come out with thoughts I need to write down. I write down good dreams, ideas, epiphanies. I had this beautiful dream one night when I was 15 weeks pregnant...I could reach down and feel a baby girl's thick head of hair as I breathed and pushed her out, and I gently raised her to my chest. I woke up in tears...having never experienced anything like that in 'real life', it was so profound to me. I wrote it down and I go back to it all the time. If I read something in a book that speaks to me, I write it down. If I have a fear, I write it down, or talk to my husband, or call my doula.
  5. Connect with other women who have walked in your shoes, for they know your heart better than anyone else. 
  6. For the sake of focusing on the positive, do not avoid the painful. You have to walk down that path. I thought I had worked through most of my issues, but I still have doubts/fears that come up all the time. I meet them head-on and work through them, because avoiding truthful emotions and pain is foolish. Some recent things that have come up for me..."I'm too big to have a natural birth...why didn't I work out harder and lose more weight? Maybe my body can't do this." I recognized right away how detrimental that would be to my visualization of birth. I met with my friend Katy (a birth doula) and she helped talk me through those emotions, reminding me that I'm not big, women of all sizes birth babies, and I AM healthy. I just needed to see myself that way (and sometimes we need someone else to tell us that).
  7. Reflect very hard on your past birth experience, and think about the things that made you feel truly unsafe and un-valued as a mother. Talk to your care provider about these so they know what triggers you might be facing, and maybe where you need more care and love during your labor. A lot of us have trauma. A lot of us were treated poorly. I have a lot of 'flashback issues' that have come up throughout this pregnancy, and my midwife couldn't be more caring and amazing throughout it all.
  8. Speaking of care providers. Interview them. Find them. Connect with them. Do not allow yourself to be boxed into who cares for you and where you birth based on insurance/finances if you can allow it. My husband and I saved to pay for our birth out of pocket so that I had the freedom to choose. It's sad it has to be that way, but it is. WHO you are putting your life/baby/experience with and WHERE you give birth matter more than almost anything, especially for VBAC moms. Ask good questions and take note of any 'red flags' that come up where you feel your provider isn't truly being pro-vbac. Remember this is YOUR body, YOUR baby, YOUR birth experience...no one can tell you what you can/can't do, or scare you with fear tactics, or give you misleading information for their own agenda. Find someone who truly wants this for you and believes in shared decision making. Find someone who believes that birth is a natural, normal process and will treat you the same as any other pregnant mama. Also, hire a doula. A good one. Our doula has been to literally thousands of births, and that experience is invaluable to me.
  9. Practice relaxation techniques. Train your mind. I'm really enjoying Hypnobirthing this time around. It has a lot of great suggestions for laying down and doing visualizations that help with releasing that control. 
  10. Positive affirmations. Oh I know it sounds cheesy as hell, but write them down and tape them up somewhere. I have 5 affirmations taped to my bathroom mirror, and I read them every day. These should be personal to you. Some examples include:
    • I am a strong and capable woman. I trust my instincts to know what I need for my labor.
    • My body is not broken. I can do this.
    • I am deserving of a peaceful birth.
|The Body, The Physical |
You are growing an entire human inside your body. All of the blood, cells, bones, muscles. Nutrition for yourself and your baby is SO important during pregnancy. Staying physically active helps maintain muscle strength, decreases the risk of high weight gain, and helps our bodies cope with the physical changes of the body during pregnancy. I remember washing our car when I was pregnant with Ben and my sweet elderly neighbor came running out, telling me I should be back inside with my feet up. Gone are the days, ladies. Lying inside with my feet up is not the way I am going to achieve pushing out a baby. 
  1. I gained 65 pounds during my first pregnancy. (!!!) It took me nearly 18 months to lose that weight, and beside the fact that I had a major surgery, my recovery was rough and I didn't feel good. This time, I'm all about workin' on my fitness. While I don't believe that a 'number' should define us, my goal weight is 30 pounds this time (set by myself). I'm doing really great this time around. I'm working out 4-5 times a week (45 minutes of cardio), modified weight lifting, workout videos, lots of squats, stretching, and daily walks. My legs feel strong, my endurance feels high, and I love sweating it out for me and my baby. 
  2. Eat well. Eat whole, real foods. Pack in that nutrition and stay away from processed crap and sugar. Sometimes I fail at this (in fact just last week I ate all of the chocolate things, and there was that one time I begged my husband to get me a taco from Jack in the Box at midnight), but overall, I am confident with the nutrients I am feeding my baby. It makes a difference...trust me...between my two pregnancies, I notice the huge impact my diet has played. 
  3. Get some good body care! This time I'm seeing a chiropractor who works mainly with pregnant women. My pelvis and hips were all wacky, people. I'm going every couple of weeks, and she will come assist with the birth if positioning becomes a problem during labor. I'm also starting up bi-weekly prenatal massage for overall relaxation and well-being. Usually insurance covers these types of care, but if not, find a way to make it work. You will feel so much better. 
  4. Take time to relax. I take a nice bath a few times a week. I light candles, I think about my baby, I let my muscles relax and my mind release all the stressful stuff. 
  5. Don't sit around. This is much easier this pregnancy because I'm not teaching (sitting grading papers, sitting driving, sitting at the computer, etc). I'm on my hands and knees with my toddler, we are outside playing, outside walking, etc. Sitting and leaning back promotes poor positioning of baby in the womb. 
  6. Use vitamins as a supplement to a good diet. I'm currently taking a whole-foods prenatal vitamin 3x a day, a DHA supplement, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and a probiotic every day. 
  7. Ask your midwife or OB other ways you can support your body. Now that I'm in the third trimester, I'm drinking red raspberry leaf tea every day. I will take Evening Primrose Oil as we near the end, and also do spinning babies positioning if need be. It might all help, it might not, but I feel better doing it. :) 
I pray and hope and wish with every fiber in my being that this birth experience goes well. I know now that things don't always go as planned, but I have a supportive team of people with me who I trust. Something might come up before I hit full-term that derails our plans. These things are all out of my hands. I know I am doing everything (mentally and physically) that I have CONTROL over to help make this a successful birth, and I can't ask more of myself than that.

I love women. I love supporting women, being real with women, and opening up my heart with vulnerable honesty. If you're struggling, I want to be here for you. We do not have to agree and have the same philosophies about anything, because that's not what matters. Email me, comment, share. And please take the time (if you have it) to read back through the past two years of my life. There are big stories, emotions, healing, advice all bundled up in this blog. Please use it.

We are all created differently, and sometimes what works for one of us doesn't work for the other. Please share here what has helped you. How do you view birth? Have you had a successful VBAC?
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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Hello, Third Trimester

Woah! That came up quick! Third trimester, here we are! We've graduated on up to bi-weekly appointments with the midwife and it really feels like the last trimester is going to zoom by! I've started making my 'list' of things to really get focused on, including practicing my hypnobirthing, chiro care, etc. With the holidays approaching January will be here before we know it!

I know I said I would try to move on from bathroom selfies, but really they are the most practical way of capturing this bump. So here you go...at least this time I moved to a different bathroom to change up the view. I'm also wearing the same dress I wore in some of my pregnancy updates with Ben, so I call that a major re-use win!


There isn't terribly much to report about since my last pregnancy update. I'm still working out 4-5 times a week, eating fairly well (no sugars, processed foods, a lot of smoothies), and sleeping fairly poorly. I'm still amazed at the differences between my pregnancies in overall health, but mostly the differences between the babies! With Ben I would often find myself worried because he didn't move around too much, but this little girl never stops moving! I'm scared, people. Quiet little introvert brother might have a wild extrovert sister! Baby E is also on my bladder allllll the time. I do drink a lot of water but I feel like she is bounces and punching it all the time. Ah, the joys of pregnancy.

Our flight to North Carolina really did a number on my low back/hips, and I've had some wicked nerve pain that has been troubling me big time. I'm hoping next week that general area starts to feel better because it's a pain in the ass, literally. I went to see my chiro and had a massage last week and neither of those were very helpful, so hoping that with regular walking and continued body care will work itself out.
I feel like I've really 'popped' this week and am starting to feel much more pregnant than I have been. I'm certainly not comparing my baby to any fruits this time around, but as far as I know she (my uterus) is measuring right on track and my weight gain is excellent. I had my glucose test this week but won't know the results of that for a few days. Other than that, nothing new to report. I still adore the care I am receiving and am getting so much positive support and feedback from my midwife and her assistant at each and every visit.

In other, non-pregnancy related news, my laptop 'crashed' and with it I lost every precious photo and memory I've ever captured. Memories with my dad, newborn photos of my son, family vacations. Devastated is not quite the right word for it. Please everyone-don't make my mistake and assume this will never happen to you...back up your data!! We are looking into hard drive repair, but the initial estimates we are getting are around $700-$2400. I'm currently using my husband's big dinosaur computer for blogging. Alright, I hear my little man waking up and need to dash.

Next update's goal: bump photos not taken in the bathroom.

Pregnancy goals: continue meal planning healthy eats, exercising, and taking time each day to practice relaxation and get off my feet.
And in case you all needed a reminder of this sweetness....(I wonder if his sister will look like him? I can't wait to find out!)





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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Flying With a Toddler

Almost exactly a year ago we took our son to Maui and had a vacation with friends when he was 13 months old (I'm not sure exactly what we were thinking, but we did it). I wrote a post about how we navigated flying with a baby (click here to read), but a few things have changed since then! For one thing, Ben is now two years old, and there is a big difference between a 'baby' and a 'toddler.' This trip also included a layover/plane change, longer travel time, cross-country travel, unfortunate traveling hours due to the airline changing our flight times, and heading toward the East, which is always harder on a kid's sleep system. Roadblocks be damned, I was going to make this as successful and stress-free as possible.

After spending hours on the phone with the airline because they split my husband, toddler, and I up throughout the plane into different seats, changed our flight times, and would do nothing to accommodate us unless we wanted to pay a $3,000 change fee, I spent some good time crying. Seriously, on the flight home we had to wake our son up at 3:30 a.m. east coast time, and it was a full 12 hour day of traveling. My husband and I decided no matter what happened, we would do our best to go with the flow to keep Ben happy, and stay positive and keep each other uplifted. I really often wish I were a more relaxed person, but my anxiety about traveling on this trip was unusually high. So let me just say how grateful I am that my husband is easy going, and our son is a rock star who constantly surprises me.

Here's how we made flying and traveling with a toddler (mostly) stress-free, tear-free, and meltdown-free.
  • We chose to carry everything on, so I made detailed pack lists of what should go in each bag to be the most easily accessible. We also had to bring our car seat with us. We decided that my husband would carry the car seat (like a backpack), and roll the two carry-on bags, while I would be responsible for carrying Ben in the carrier, along with the diaper/activity bag and my purse. It was good to know ahead of time who would be doing what. 

  • Ben needed his own ticket and seat this time, which was actually really nice. He has a passport which I brought for his I.D. getting through security. I kept Ben in the carrier going through both airport security screenings without any issue. When I'm pregnant, I always decline going through the detectors, and the security agents were all really kind and accommodating. 

  • I packed a lot of homemade snacks for the flight going to North Carolina (muffins, PB&J, grapes, crackers and squeezable hummus, bananas, etc). My theory is that you can never have too much food around when you're pregnant, have a toddler, or are stuck on an airplane for hours on end. On the way home we bought our breakfast at the airport.

  • I went to Target a couple of days before we left with a small budget and a list of things to bring on the plane for our son. I think it's REALLY important that you buy/bring things you know that YOUR child is interested in at the time of travel. It makes a big difference. Buying new, little, cheap things is really worth it because toddlers are fascinated with anything new. And you want them fascinated, not squirming around in your face. 
    • I brought a coloring book, sticker books (HUGE for my son), small puzzles, little tractors, new books, our portable DVD player with new shows (he loves Leap Frog and Bob the Builder), and his lovey. 
    • On the way home, I went out with my sister-in-law and got a few 'new' repeat items like sticker books. 

  • My son is not potty trained, and those 'changing tables' on planes are made for newborns. Changing a poopy diaper with half of my son's body hanging off the table wasn't fun, but we made it work. We use overnight diapers while traveling because they absorb more in the event you can't change a diaper at normal times. Also take a moment and try and visualize a pregnant woman and a 2 year old in that tiny ass bathroom. I put clean diapers, baggies, and wipes in a small wet bag, and put that in our bigger activity bag. This is the one we use and I love it (this will also be my new 'diaper bag' for both kids when baby arrives). 
  • Ben is a crib napper and did NOT nap during any of the plane rides or travel times (which would have been nice), but we didn't push or enforce sleep on him. He did sack out in the carrier on my back when we got back home in Seattle, which surprised us all! When he gets really tired he's one of those kids who gets silly and weird, thank goodness. He is really good at doing focused activities and did really amazing on all of the plane rides. Zero cries and zero meltdowns. I changed activities every so often, walked to the bathroom with him, and saved my 'heavy hitters' for the end of the flights (whichever 'thing' your child will love most, be it a show/movie, stickers, etc). I tried to stick to his 'regular' meal times but with time changes and traveling we mostly fed him whatever/whenever. 
  • I carried him through the airports (we invested in the Toddler Tula carrer, which was an excellent idea!), unless we had time to spare and then one of us walked around with him (he was a huge fan of moving walkways). 
  • My husband and I kind of split up Ben duties, letting the other one nap/read/watch the in-flight movie, which worked out really nice. 
  • Remember that other passengers are usually really nice and accommodating. We had a lot of people compliment us on what a nice toddler we have, so it's always great to defy the whole 'kid on an airplane' stereotype too! But on the other hand, try and not worry too much about what other people think if your kid is having a tough time. 
Phew. No more flights in our future. Our guy did so good traveling, but the first day at our family's house in North Carolina was rough, as the time change really screwed with his sleep. Coming home was easier on his system (even though daylight savings contributed to the schedule being out of whack), but I think we will be staying in our time zone for a while. :) The effort, stress, and traveling is ALWAYS worth it to spend time with family, and I'm really glad we went, no matter what inconveniences were thrown our way.  Ben and his cousin Trin haven't seen each other since Ben was a drooling blob of newborn and Trin was barely crawling. It had been TWO YEARS, which is way too long. 

What's the best toddler travel advice you've ever had?? 

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And for those of you here just to gaze upon vacation photos...

We played in the leaves, walked around the neighborhood, and went to a fabulous park where the kids went down huge slides and climbed stairs. We took Trin and Ben to a trunk-or-treat on base at Fort Bragg, they did puzzles together, and Ben spent a lot of time evading his sweet cousin's hugs and kisses. There was an afternoon of children's museum and bakery fun, and a lot of quality time around the table together.

Friday, October 24, 2014

A Day In the Life With Our Toddler

It has been quite a while since I've done a "Day In the Life Of" post (I did one when Ben was about 7 months old, (that sure is a trip down memory lane!) and another one almost exactly one year later when Ben was about 19 months old). I really enjoy going back and reading these, and I think they will be something really special for us later on. I also love reading how other people organize and operate their days because it really gives mothers a new perspective and understanding about how working moms, moms of multiples, moms of one, stay at home moms, work form home moms, etc, spend their days. I just read my friend Whitney's post about the day in the life of a working mom, and I was so exhausted and at the same time amazed at the sacrifices she is making for her family. Even though it's highly dependent on our children's ages, our perspectives, and life situations, I'm sure my day seems 'easy' to a lot of working moms or moms with three children. :)

In the spirit of things, I wanted to document this snippet of time because in about three months our lives are about to be rocked again by baby girl, and our routines will definitely be changing. There are certainly days now when I feel like I'm surviving in the trenches...days where Ben has lots of tantrums, wants to be held constantly, I never pee without a toddler and a dog staring at me, and nothing gets accomplished other than meeting the needs of other people. Days where being a stay at home mom is really boring and the hours drag on like the never ending story. Afternoons where I count down the minutes until my husband gets home (single parents...shout out and fist bump to you!) There are seasons of motherhood where my hormones, Ben's emotions, our highs and lows oscillate and change hugely...two months ago was rough, but now we are going through a really fun time. I feel like the toddler years are really my jam, and while Ben was an adorable infant, I'm happy to see him growing into a young boy. No matter the day, I like to feel joyful, and overall, we are thriving and happy, and feel like every day just gets more and more fun with our boy. I miss working, but I'm still thankful every single day I get to be here with him...through all of the amazing, the boring, the exhausting, the fun, the lonely, the overwhelming, the joyful, and the confusing moments.

Most of our weekdays are somewhat the same. I try and do 3-4 social activities with him a week, and at least 1-2 days at home in a relaxed environment. Weekends are of course a whole different ballgame, since daddy is home and we are usually out doing fun activities or the guys are doing guy stuff together. Like most mamas, I often worry I'm not doing 'enough' or the 'right things'...I let other people get in my head about why he isn't in preschool, daycare, a co-op, or starting homeschool activities. My thoughts on this are that he is only two years old, and for US, being home with his mama at this point in his life is right where he needs to be. We do a lot of learning activities together, we read a lot of books, and we go outside to explore the world. I know I needn't worry because Ben is super smart, and loving, and even though he is a shy child, he is growing in his social nature. This time with my baby(s) is so sacred and special to me and I'm soaking it up before life changes again.

We are not huge clock-watchers, but toddlers do thrive on consistency/routine and we aim for the same general times each day with variation for flexibility. This was just a random Tuesday in October.
***
Butt Crack of Dawn: My husband wakes up, and I get up with him today (this does NOT happen every day...trust me), and I make him a breakfast shake before sending him on his way. I go back to bed and read for a little bit and doze off and on before my alarm goes off, but baby girl is rolling and jabbing me and sleep was minimal.
7:00: I wake up to get showered and dressed (yoga pants and a hoodie), and then make the bed. I go let the dog out and wait forever for him to find the perfect place to do his business (thinking about how great it will be to finally have that fence built so I can just let his wandering heart out free). I feed him and leave him in the laundry room so he doesn't drive me nuts.
7:30: I hear Ben jabbering on the monitor and go in to get him up. I can always hear him saying "That Mama!!" before I open the door. My favorite part of the day is going into his room and seeing him standing at the edge of his crib with a huge smile on his face, so so happy to see me. I lift him up and he gives me two huge hugs and a big wet kiss (he's realllly into long kisses these days). He will tell me if he's "All wet" because he soaked through his diaper/jammies or not, but thankfully today he's dry so I don't have to change the sheets. We snuggle on the couch and read a few books about tractors, farm animals, and ocean creatures together. It's such a cozy, rainy morning and I try to be really intentional about remembering all these little moments...his voice, his morning eyes and hair, the weight of his body resting on mine, his enthusiasm for what we are reading about. I need to clip his nails, and usually he's agreeable about this but today he said "Nooooooooo". So I put a 10 minute Bob the Builder clip on my phone and he happily agreed to let me clip his nails. I let him finish watching that while I start breakfast.
8:00: I put on The Civil Wars radio station on pandora and start to make breakfast, which is usually a variation of eggs, oatmeal, or fruit (I never make separate meals and we always eat the same thing). Today however we had some old bread so I made French Toast. I use eggs, cinnamon, chia seeds for the mix and top the toast with butter (even pure organic maple syrup makes me too buzzed). Ben also gets some frozen blueberries (kid won't eat a fresh blueberry to save his soul, but frozen blueberries are his jam), and banana. When his movie clip is over he says "All Done" and asks for a "Train moooomie!" I tell him no and he has a fake whiney fit for about 30 seconds and moves on to reading more books before coming over to my legs to ask 'up pease!!' because he likes to sit on the counter and help me cook. I tell him 'no' since I'm all done and he has a mini fit and then heads over to his chair at the table and climbs in for breakfast.
8:40: We finish our breakfast together and Ben gets down and has free/independent playtime while I clean up the kitchen and put in some laundry. Independent playtime is really important to us, because it fosters a lot of creative and imaginative play, and allows Ben to grow in confidence alone without his mom hovering nearby being a constant source of entertainment. I used to do IP as a more structured time, but as Ben has gotten older it just fits loosely into the day whenever it works. Ben plays with a puzzle and some cars while I make muffins for our playdate today. He then comes over to help me unload the dishwasher, which can take forever because he likes to say the name of each item before giving it to me to put away, one at a time...but he loves it and it's good for him to help. He's also really into organizing and moving around our furniture right now (?) and pushes one of our end tables around in circles before terrorizing the dog and playing with a piece of plastic. Safety first here around here. Also, yes, our dog needs a bath.
9:00: I ask Ben if he had his morning poop but he keeps telling me, "No pooot! Just pee. Pee." He normally always poops after breakfast, but apparently not today. We go to his room to get a clean diaper and get dressed out of his jammies. He picks out his tractor shirt and wants to wear socks so his feet "not cold!" Let's be honest, 'getting dressed' is really only a borderline upgrade from pajamas since he is wearing sweatpants. But hey, he's comfy.
9:30: Today is our weekly playdate with friends, and it's our day to host. Our friends arrive, but since it's raining and Lena has her newborn, we stayed inside and chatted on the couch while the kids played. Ben and his friend Gabe both love trains and spent time driving trains on the track, and doing puzzles on the floor. Our boys love love love muffins and it's almost a thing we do now at playdates (plus a nursing mom and a pregnant mom love muffins too!) :) I love play time with friends because it really helps the morning go by faster and I get quality friend/adult interaction (oh and it's good for Ben too). Days when we don't have playdates Ben and I usually run errands, try library story time, or stay home and do play-doh, read books, practice colors and counting, build things, play outside, etc (fill that toddler tank!) 
11:30: Our friends leave and I get ready to make Ben some lunch. I pull out leftovers from last night (turkey spaghetti and steamed vegetables) and heat some of that up for us to share. Easy lunch day.
11:45: We eat lunch at the table together. He's really into putting "Peppa, not salt," on all of his food right now. When he's done, I let him know he has about 30 minutes of playtime before night night/nap. I sit at the computer and finish my lunch and read a few blogs.
12:00-12:20: I clean up the kitchen while Ben plays and poops before nap (he's a predictable pooper, that kid...well, except for this morning).
12:25: Ben helps clean up toys and then runs to his room to read books and get ready for nap. I change him, close his blinds, he grabs his "Bebe" (stinky blue guy) from his crib and we read one book together.
12:30: Ben climbs up to his crib, I put him in and he gives me a kiss. He says 'night night,' 'no crying, mama!' I tell him I love him and leave the room after turning on his sound machine. He jabbers and talks (it's hard to understand him through the monitor, but I think he's talking about his daddy) for about 15 minutes before falling asleep.
12:30-2:45: I take our dog out for a quick walk in the yard and come back inside and continue working on sorting through the baby boy clothes project I started yesterday. I'm sorting out things I want to keep, just in case of a hypothetical third child, things that baby girl can re-use/wear, and things that are going into bags to be sold in lots. I also move the laundry around and fold a few things that are piled up on the bed. I check my email and respond to a Craiglist post (don't people ask the weirdest questions!?), and confirm a guest teaching job in November.
2:55 Ben wakes up and I get him a snack of hummus and apple slices, and a cup of milk. He does puzzles next to me on the couch (have you noticed he really loves puzzles right now?) Ben asks to do a puzzle probably 20 times a day. I'm not exaggerating. He's GOOD at it too. He doesn't need much help and he loves to do it on his own, saying "Not quite!" when a piece doesn't fit, telling himself "Good job Ben!" when he finishes, and then dumps it out to start again. After snack and puzzle, he then runs off to find my chap stick and spends about 20 minutes applying some generous doses of that to his lips (and to my cheeks as well). He plays with his tractor on the floor for a while, and I decide since it isn't raining we need to get our outdoor time in and get him ready for that.
3:20: I change his diaper, put on his shoes/jacket/grab the dog, etc, and we head outdoors. We walk down the road to the mailbox and back, and spend some time at our garden bins pulling out my old tomato plants and watching some potato bugs in the dirt. Ben finds one last ripe tomato and thinks it's hilarious to play chase with our dog (since the dog wants the tomato)...he says it's "for Daddy, not mama, not Jet Jet!" and carries it around the rest of the afternoon. We head out back to his play set where he spends a lot of time watching a caterpillar, playing with the rain water that accumulated in a bin, and climbing up into his fort and sliding down. I even make a valiant effort at being a good dog owner today by playing fetch!
4:30: It started getting really windy and cold so we headed inside and we heard daddy's truck coming down the road (early today, yay!) Ben takes him the tomato and gives daddy big hugs and kisses. We sit down on the couch together and chat about how our days went and what we did. Ben is sitting on the floor doing his puzzle again.
5:00: I get up to start dinner while the boys go downstairs to the daylight basement to run around and play.
5:45: We sit down to eat dinner together. Ben gets in trouble once because he puts a bunch of pepper in his water and deliberately dumps it on his dinner. He mostly finishes eating it anyway and then is excused. Justin starts to clean up the kitchen while I make his lunch for tomorrow and set up the Vitamix for him to make his breakfast shake when he gets up. I give Ben some magnets and a cookie sheet to play with and this occupies him for quite some time.
6:30: Family time, we sit together and the guys build some towers with blocks. They also play with the poor neglected dog and then chase one another around the house while I have some tea. Okay maybe it wasn't family time per say since I mostly watched the activities and relaxed. :-)
7:00: Ben helps clean up all of his toys and the guys head off to start bath time. I vacuum up all the dog hair (a daily chore), sweep in the kitchen, and take the garbage out.
7:30: Ben comes to say 'night night' and give me kisses. I change into workout clothes and go downstairs and do a 30 minute Total Body Cardio workout video (21DayFix) and then 35 minutes of spin on the bike. Plus, I want to finish watching the latest Vampire Diaries (don't judge me), and I always feel less guilty if I do this while exercising. Justin joins me around 7:45 after putting Ben to bed (bless that man...every night he does bedtime) and he lifts some weights and jogs for 30 minutes.
9:00: We take quick showers and climb in bed together to watch our favorite show, Castle. We don't have hulu+ or cable, so we are always a week behind on shows we enjoy and have to wait the next day after a new one airs to watch the one from the week before. It's almost sad how much I look forward to Tuesday nights.

Just another beautiful, ordinary day in the Laughery household. Thankful for our blessings and health everyday.
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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Baby Bump: 25 Weeks

We need to stop meeting in the bathroom like this. Maybe next update I'll have something better to show than bathroom mirror selfies. Sigh. Okay, these posts really should be called mama updates. Baby is just kickin' it in the womb....sleeping, rolling around, and getting fed a constant stream of nutrients.

Emotionally, I just can't state enough how amazing I feel this pregnancy! There is zero fear or apprehension. I have such a greater sense of perspective and peace of what's to come, and that feels amazing. I'm not battling or fighting doctors and insurance companies, I am fully aware and trusting of my body, and we have such an amazing support team. I couldn't ask for anything more. I've been reading, journaling, and only letting positive thoughts in and sharing my heart with authentic people.

I mentioned in my fitness post last week that I made some changes to my diet in regard to sugar and carbs, and I have an exercise routine in full-gear again. Physically I'm feeling much better than I did a few weeks ago, and I feel so great after a workout. I'm going through the 21Day Fix workouts again (modifying where need be), and my goal is to hit 15-20 miles a week on the treadmill, + weight lifting. I'm still not sleeping very well, with all the pee wake-ups and husband-snoring, but I figure that must be nature's way of slowly acclimating my body to getting less sleep again. :) A couple times a week I lay down and take a nap when Ben is napping, but I'm just a horrid napper. My husband can fall asleep in 30 seconds and wake up perky 10 minutes later. Me? It takes me forever to fall asleep, and  I'm a cranky nap waker-upper. Don't cross me. I'm groggy and grouchy and sluggish. I think it runs in the family because my Dad is the same way...no one really wants to be around either of us when we wake up from naps. I can't decide if taking naps really helps my energy/brain power at all, or if it's better to power through until bedtime. I'm also working out during most nap days and/or in the evenings...I just can't decide how best to spend my time!
I've found myself getting so excited about this little girl's nursery! Our little Laughery babies actually do sleep in their own cribs/rooms pretty early on, so I think having a special space for baby is important for us. With Ben, we lived in our tiny trailer and there wasn't much room (literally) for creative inspiration in his nursery, so it's been so much fun decorating for baby E! Up until last weekend, her room still had a huge pile of baby boy clothes in boxes, an air mattress, a crib sitting in a box, and a ton of Ben's books all over the place. I got my rear in gear and did some serious cleaning and organizing. Justin even got the crib put together. We had semi-hoped that Ben would be ready to transition out of his crib before baby came, but he hasn't shown the slightest inkling of climbing out or needing a change, so we will happily keep him there as long as he needs. In our old trailer we had built in dressers, and so we've also had to invest in a dresser/changing table (I say 'we' but really I mean my parents gifted us that, thanks ma and pa!). Anyway, I'm really excited to share photos of this nursery when it all comes together.

Other than my daily eating habits, exercising, decorating the nursery, thinking about potty training Ben, taking care of Ben, meal-planning, keeping the house clean, etc (okay you get the idea...mind of a mom). So other than all of that, I've been really meditating and thinking about labor and birth, and those early days with a newborn. With Ben, those days were rough...rough rough rough rough rough. I'm praying for a different birth outcome for starters (but keeping ourselves flexible to change if need be) and brainstorming ways to make this transition to two children 'easier' on our family. I've also started thinking about newborn sleep habits/routines, getting the breast pump out of storage, and building up a new cloth diaper stash. I'm just really really excited to have another new baby in the house who we will grow to love and cherish. I can't wait to see who she is.

The next baby bump date will probably be happening in the third trimester. THIRD TRIMESTER. What!? How did that happen? I have my glucose test coming up, so I'll be sure to report back about that joyful experience too. :)

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