Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Expose: Portrait Studios Ripping Off Parents

Look at this hip, cool father with his baby girl.
You could pay only $3.99 for it at Target
or go to another portrait studio
and pay seven times that amount.

A friend of mine took her baby to get her portraits done every month for her baby's first year of life. She displayed them in her living room and I always loved to see how her baby changed each month. It was such a cool memory to have of her child. A baby changes so much the first year of life and it is amazing to see it in professional portraits. I did the same thing, but I had to learn the hard way. Don't make the same mistake I did.

First, I went to Kiddie Kandids, which is slang for "I am gonna rip off parents for mediocre Anne Geddes like pictures." Who do they think they are fooling? I spent over $200 on a few pictures. I handed over my credit card and they handed back some crappy portraits they printed on their machine right in the store. They were all dark and I even had to take some of them back because the ink smudged off in the bag. Come on. We know it cost them a total of $10 bucks or less to print up the pictures. We know because it is only a few cents for us to print up our pictures at the local Costco. Why would it cost them anymore? It is ridiculous to mark up a product that much.

Month 2 I went to Target Portrait Studios. A little better. I spent a little over $100. I knew I couldn't spend that much on pictures every month or I was gonna go broke, so I went to my friend and asked her how she afforded such amazing pictures every month. She e-mailed me the coupons she uses at Target Portrait Studios. This deal is amazing. First, no sitting fee. Second, additional sheets are only $3.99 a sheet including the 10x14. And you get a free 8x10. The rest of Audrey's first year portraits cost me $30-$60 bucks a month. I understand they need to mark up the pictures a little bit, but this was a lot more reasonable. When I went to Target to get Audrey's 18 month pictures (she gets her professional portrait every 6 months now), they gave me free online access to my prints. I was able to upload them to my facebook and share them through e-mail. It is genius on their part because friends and family can buy prints directly from them if they want. They probably make even more money doing that. Target will try to sale you something they call portrait enhancements. Don't fall for it. They take a picture of your baby holding a fake rose and put in a cheesy border with a saying like, "Stop and smell the roses." Totally nerdy! Then try to sale it to you for $30. Just get the basic print for $3.99.

So I moved a couple hours away since Luke was born. There is no Target portrait studio near where we live now (not all Target's have them), so I made an appointment at my local Walmart for Luke and Audrey's portraits. I thought they would be similarly priced and I found a coupon for 20 percent off my entire purchase. Ugh. I got ripped off again. I got 15 sheets for like $140 bucks (with my stupid coupon). I think it will be worth driving a couple hours to Target because I don't feel like being ripped off again. My mother in-law said when we were kids and we went to the portrait studio, they would develop all the film from your shoot and whatever you didn't buy they would shred right in front of you. Painful, right? This was a different time. It was understandable that portraits cost a little more. They were working with film. Now anyone can buy a fancy camera and get amazing pictures. If these studios want to survive they better start to figure out that people are just gonna take their own professional portraits and blow them up and graphically design them with fancy borders. We don't need to pay hundreds of dollars for fancy pictures anymore. Here is the link to the Target coupon. If you are going to go to a studio to get your Christmas pictures, go to the Target Portrait Studios. It is worth it.


Today's Mom

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Amazing Booger Sucker

So, Luke and Audrey have been sick non-stop. Right before Luke was born Audrey did two rounds of antibiotics and then she got a cold a couple of weeks ago and then Luke got a cold. Then Audrey got the flu and Luke got the flu. This week Audrey has a cold again and of course gave her germies to Luke. It is a constant battle of the colds. Well if you have children you know how hard it is to get that snot out with aspirator. Grody. They hate it because you are sucking it out and it doesn't even get that much out. Then you can rinse it, but who knows how gross it is on the inside of that thing. You are probably putting germs right back inside your kid.

All this to say I found an amazing baby product to help those nasty colds. It is a battery powered nasal aspirator. It sucks the snot out like a vacuum and it even has a little viewing window. Gross, I know, but at least you can see what you are getting out. We love it. Audrey hated it at first and would run away crying. Now she knows it helps her feel better. Only 20 bucks at Walgreens in the baby section.

Just wanted to share this must have item since I have been using it a lot this week.


Today's Mom

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Baby Story- Luke Edition

Let me start by saying I am a nice patient. I am cool, calm, and collected during labor. I am super sweet and nice to all my nurses and doctors. I even bring them all goody bags with cool little pins and candy. I consider myself a pretty calm person in stressful situations and my husband is the same way. So, why do I keep having these miserable hospital experiences?

Well I guess it is just that. I truly believe that women should NOT give birth in hospitals. I wish I would have coughed up the extra money and had Audrey at a birthing center. Hospitals are great for sick people, but labor is not a sickness. It is a natural process. A hospital room is the opposite of natural.

I was not able to go to a birth center this time because I had an unnecessary cesarean section with my first child. Birth centers do not accept VBAC patients because of the small chance of the uterus rupturing during child birth. There is a small chance it can happen, but if it does the baby has to be taken out immediately or mother and baby can die in minutes. I understood that part, but I do not understand why so many hospitals ban VBAC's. Hospitals can do a cesarean section in five minutes, so why don't more hospitals perform them? I mean if they love doing surgeries, they should welcome a woman who is trying to do a VBAC since there is a chance they are gonna need one anyway.

Well let me get to the story. I was due September 20th. Well that day came and went and I never went in to labor with Luke. I had a doctor's appointment 10 days later and she sent me to get fetal monitoring at the hospital. Well during the ultra-sound they found that my placenta was mature and that Luke was running out of fluid. Luke was head down, but he was still floating. He wasn't ready to make his appearance. I was also only a centimeter dilated. Most women do not even go to the hospital until they are 4-5 centimeters dilated. I knew I was going in to this situation with a lot going against me already, but to my surprise the hospital was really supportive of my VBAC. I went in to labor naturally while I was waiting to be admitted. My contractions were about five minutes a part. They let me walk around, squat, go potty, dance with my hubby. They checked on me a lot because I kept taking my fetal monitor off, but I thought it was going super well, but then my contractions stopped. No surprise. I had been having false labor for about a month before. I thought this could be fake again. Low and behold they put me on petossin instead of making me have a ceserean. My doctor told me that they would not induce labor because of the risk of uterine rupture, but my doula told me that if petossin is used right it does not make the contractions any stronger than they would have been naturally. My contractions started getting closer together and a little more painful. I still did not have to do my patterned breathing, so I knew this was still pretty early. Then that cursed fetal monitor went off. All of the sudden the doctor, intern (he looked like J.D. from Scrubs), and two nurses came in looking panicky. They said the babies heartbeat was dropping with each contraction and the needed to turn down the petossin. I was bummed. Everything was going so great for an all hospital birth, but part of me knew this wasn't going to happen. Luke was still showing a lowered heart rate after they turned down the petossin and the doctor said I needed to have a Cesarean section. I cried a little, but tried not to show my disappointment. I joked about being in the hospital longer and I get more disability insurance. The thing was I wasn't scared of the Cesarean. I had done it before. I knew what to expect. I really wanted to experience something I had never experienced before. Now I can never do that. Two Cesarean sections means no more VBAC's. Midwifes are not legally allowed to take on a previous Cesarean because of the small chance of uterine rupture and I am a little scared of that too. If we decide to have more children it will be a scheduled Cesarean section. I will know the date and even the time.

They had to give me a shot to stop my contractions. They were increasing in strength on their own, even without petossin and I just wanted to get this over with. I had been in labor for twelve hours and I was only 3 centimeters dilated. I remember them taking forever to get to me. I found out later some lady kept pulling out her epidural, so they were waiting on the anesthesiologist. I was ready to meet my little guy. We had waited for so long to meet him.

They finally wheeled me in to the operation room. They didn't let Philip come in again, even though we both heard them say that he could on the tour. They said he had to wait until I was prepped for surgery. Phil asked, "Are you okay with this?" and I said a little teary eyed, "I got a spinal without you before, I will do it again." Honestly, I wanted Phil to tell me how huge the needle was that they were putting in my back. The hospital I delivered at is a teaching hospital, so they narrate everything to each other, so I knew exactly what they were doing every step of the way. I sat sideways on the operating table and the anesthesiologist prepped me for the spinal. I had to hold my shoulders and back in a weird angle. I held my nurses arms. She narrated everything she was doing. She said, "Injecting, injecting, swishing swishing." I felt a tingly sensation come over me and it felt good, but artificial. They helped me lay down because it works that fast. I never take pain medication, even for headaches, so I get numb fast.

When they laid me back I started seeing stars and I felt like I was gonna pass out. I told them I was gonna pass out and they injected my IV with something and elevated my head. I felt fine after that. I did not want to be passed out for my son's birth. Philip came in and held my hand. They were loosely strapped down. Last time they taped my boobs. They didn't do that this time. Phil narrated everything to me. He did good not making to many grossed out faces. It looks like a horribly violent horror movie. I told Phil that I felt some pressure and he looked at me and said, "Oh baby, if you could see what they are doing to you." Within seconds after the pressure Luke was born. The doctor said, "He is hungry, he is sucking my finger." Phil stood up and said, "He is here. He has a lot of dark hair." We cried and hugged. They held him up for us to see over the curtain. He was adorable. He looked smaller than Audrey and he was very bloody, but the last hospital did not hold Audrey up for me to see, so I was happy I got to see him before they whisked him off to the transitional nursery. They didn't let Philip go to the nursery, but they said they would call him in a couple of minutes. Phil and I talked while they stitched me up. It felt good to have someone to talk to. We kept getting updates about Luke, so I wasn't too worried about his health. He was 8lbs, 3 ounces. Over a pound smaller than Audrey, but still bigger than most. I remember thinking, I could have delivered him naturally. My mother delivered my sister naturally at 10 pounds, 2 ounces, so I knew I could have done it. He was 19 inches long and he scored an 8/9 apgar. They called for Phil and I told him to take care of our son.

As they finished stitching me up I thought about my baby boy. A mother who gives birth naturally actually releases a hormone that is kinda like a love drug. You only release this hormone if you give birth naturally. Women who give birth medicated or surgically do not release this hormone. It didn't matter though. I felt connected to him. He was my son. I had a son. I couldn't imagine feeling more love in my heart, yet I only saw him for a couple of seconds.

How can you not believe there is a God? After going through pregnancy twice and giving birth twice it is amazing to see that this little person was created from the love of a father and a mother. I guess it comes down to this. I was extremely disappointed in both my birthing experiences because of the over intervention of the hospital, but it did not take away my sense of pride about being a mother. Nothing can break that.

Like I said, I thought about this as they finished putting me back together. I had my bonding with my son, by myself (in a room full of medical people). They wheeled me to recovery and I got to see Phil hold his son. It looked like he had his own bonding experience as well. After Luke was born the hospital overly intervened again causing Luke to have a Nuemo Thorax which is like a collapsed lung. I am glad I got those two little moments with my son because he was admitted to the NICU shortly after he was born. I didn't get to see him again for 4 hours. I didn't get to hold him for 18 hours and I didn't get to breastfeed him for almost 2 days. Phil and I had to yet again, fight more battles against a hospital, but isn't that a big part of being a mother and father. You know what is best for your child, even though others try to tell you what is best, deep down, you know. Luke spent 4 days in the NICU and I refused to leave the hospital without him. I am going to save that story for another blog.

Cherish your birthing experience, no matter how it happens. In the end you will have a little bundle of amazingness. I do recommend, if you are healthy, and have had no pregnancy complications, to labor at home as long as possible or give birth in a birthing center, you can always be transferred to a hospital later. That is the only regret I have about my birth story. I am still a proud mother, but if I can help even one future mother with my stories, all this hospital stuff will be worth it.


Today's Mom

Monday, October 18, 2010

Co-Sleeping Times Two

I have written my thoughts on co-sleeping in a previous post, but a friend of mine who also co-sleeps is having a baby soon, so she is in the same boat as me. I wanted to give my thoughts and ideas on co-sleeping when you have two children.

So let me explain what situation I am in right at this moment. My 2 week old son is nursing right now. My toddler is on the other side cuddling with me and watching a movie on my television and we are in my bed. I am able to comfort both my babies and write a blog. I love it.

Audrey co-slept with my husband and
I until we bought our house. She was 21 months old. We did her room up all nice and pink. We got a way cool castle themed princess bed. Audrey and I always sing songs before we go to sleep, so I would cuddle her in her bed and sing until she fell asleep and then I would sneak out. The first couple of nights she would only make it until 4 in the morning and then she would climb in to bed with us. We would not make a big deal out of it and would let her climb in with us. We didn't give up though. We kept putting her to sleep in her bed to start. After about three weeks she was sleeping in her bed all through the night. We got her a night light and showed her how to come to our bed if she needed to. I think by not making a big deal out of where she slept she learned to sleep in her own bed. Sometimes she also likes to fall asleep on her Elmo couch in the living room and that is fine too! She has learned to sleep on her own. Luke came two and half weeks ago and he is already sleeping through the night thanks to my co-sleeper. I love the co-sleeper. Audrey wouldn't sleep in it. Luke sleeps in it when Audrey wants to cuddle. I do not want Audrey to roll over on him or anything, but I don't want her to resent the baby either and make her think she is not allowed in our bed anymore. So I do not make a big deal out of it. We just put Luke in the co-sleeper when Audrey wants to cuddle with us. So far Audrey has only wanted to sleep with us twice in two and half weeks and we just made sure Luke was in his bed. The co-sleeper attaches to your bed, so your baby is right there. If you have a higher bed you can buy the leg extensions that raise the bed higher. The baby senses you right there. You can even have your arm on them when you are sleeping. I know it helps me sleep better. I would be getting up 10 times a night to breastfeed and check on their breathing if I didn't have it. Honestly I think that is why Luke is already sleeping through the night. It is wonderful. I love co-sleeping with my children, but I think it is important that Luke gets his special time with Mommy and Daddy just like Audrey had. I think she is doing a great job being independent because she co-slept with us. She knows Mommy and Daddy are always here for her.

I have to post my second birth story. Lots to tell. Lots to blog about. Talk to ya soon.


Today's Mom

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Desperate Times Call For Desparate Measures

So, my chubby cheeked, smiling little baby boy (3-D ultrasound) was due on September 20th, 2010. That was an adjusted due date from September 4th, 2010. Well it is now September 28th, 2010 and my little boy still has not arrived, so I got desperate. I don't really believe there is a way to start labor (I am a bit of a skeptic), but I do not want to be pregnant another day. Plus, I am going to the doctor tomorrow and they are hesitate to induce a VBAC because of the risk of uterine rupture and I do not want a scheduled c-section. NO WAY!!! Today I woke up after a night of intense false labor and decided to look up all the ways you could naturally induce labor. I am doing them all until he decides to come. So here is what we have done so far. Some of them are a little PG-13.

1. Sex - (no further comments)
2. The BIG O times 5 - This is because I read on the internet a woman's O can dilate a woman up to 2 centimeters. I figure, do this five times in one day and I am dilated to 10 with no labor. Wishful thinking I know, but I am desperate.
3. Nipple stimulation - Obviously this goes with the previous 2, but I also used my new breastpump from my Mooma (Mom). The Medela freestyle (completely hands free). I even got some milk in the fridge for my little guy.
4. Swinging in a swing - More painful then you may think for a 41 week pregnant lady.
5. Walking - I walked laps around the park I swung at. Audrey had so much fun on the swings and slides while I walked some laps. I also walked at Big Lots in the air conditioning for awhile. I had a lot of contractions walking.
6. Galloping - I needed a more supportive bra. This was pretty uncomfortable.
7. Slamming a Coke - I haven't had a real coke in like 9 months, so this was particularly fun for me.
8. Spicy food - Ate some hot salsa, green chili, and some spicy Mexican rice and an enchilada. Yum. That may not taste so good coming out though.
9. Ice cream - The goal is relaxation with this one. You won't start labor until you are relaxed.
10. Eating at a restaurant - Also the goal is relaxation with this one. Grandlunds in Yucaipa was truly amazing. Yum!
11. Driving down a bumpy road - This definitely brought on some contractions.
12. Massage - Again this is for relaxation. A lot of day spas offer pregnancy massages. WOW! This was incredibly amazing.
13. Change in altitude - My husband is such a good father. He has been attending a nurturing father's class in Big Bear for the last 4 weeks. I heard a lot of women try to sneak in a last minute trip to Big Bear Mountain before they go in to labor and then end up coming down the mountain in labor. So, I hitched a ride to Big Bear to see if I could jump start my labor.
14. Pineapple - Weird, but worth a try.
15. Squatting - You can actually feel the baby settle in to place with this one.
16. Running up the stairs - I did this a couple times, plus I work in a classroom upstairs, this is intense and exhausting, but has to be doing something, if not just getting me heartbeat going.
17. Talk to your baby - I told him that it was time to come out and meet everyone. So many people already love him and we are so excited to be his parents. He kicked and pushed his foot out so I could feel it through my skin. It is a pretty big foot for a newborn.

It is now early the next morning. No baby yet. I can not believe I am 9 days past my due date. Audrey was only 8 days late and I went in to labor at 7 days late, so at least I knew the end was near. According to my mother in-law, my husband was actually 4 weeks late (they even did a test outside the womb to determine this). Doctors do not let babies go that late anymore because the placenta gets old. My mom said that both my sister and I were two weeks late. I guess we are just a late family. Well, I am gonna try more stuff today. Wish me luck in meeting my little man.


Today's Mom

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Baby Story - Audrey Edition

Since I am about to give birth anytime, I am contemplating my first birth experience a lot. I wish I had this amazing birth story to tell, but I was very disappointed with my birth experience with Audrey. Thank goodness I got an amazing bundle of pure cuteness out of it or I would have been pretty depressed. I think one can learn from our experience though. We had everything planned, but it still did not turn out the way it should have. I don't think it ever turns out the way you want it too, but my experience was just one fiasco after another.

I started feeling contractions late Sunday, October 26th, 2008. They were real irregular, but like nothing I had ever felt before. I knew this was the start of something real. I didn't sleep well that night and I tried to let my hubbo sleep since I knew he would be up for a long time. My contractions were irregular enough that I was able to sleep a little until the morning. Since I was a week past my due date, I had to get fetal monitoring every 3 days at the doctor's office. Phil and I went in for the appointment in the morning and I was having contractions on the fetal monitor. The nurse told us to keep timing them and go to the hospital when they were closer together. We went to Souplantation for lunch and I was still feeling irregular contractions. It was so frustrating because I felt like my body was not following the rules. The contractions were painful, but not timing correctly. I didn't know if it was real or not. My husband followed me around with the timer to see if they were getting closer together, but they weren't following a pattern. We went home and walked around outside. I would have to stop and sway because the pain was getting worse. I gad a birthing ball at home and I would sit on it for relief. The contractions started getting closer together and a little more intense. We played a game, Settlers of Catan (I still won). I kept having to stop between turns and moan in pain and breathe through my contractions. We watched some episodes of Friends. I took a bath.

I was getting freaked out, so I called my doula (which also happens to be my mother in-law) and cried and said I wanted her to come. She came as soon as she could and reminded me how to do my breathing exercises. The plan was to stay home until I was so dilated that I couldn't take any pain medication, but the pain was excruciating and I kept doubting myself and my body. My doula tried to check how dilated I was, but that was unsuccessful. She said we should probably head to the hospital.

I remember that drive was excruciating. I was having contractions every five minutes and they were very intense. Luckily it was 2:30 in the morning, so there was no traffic.
We arrived at Saint Mary's Medical Center in Long Beach, CA. Ugh. Why did I ever give birth there? We didn't know how horrible it would be at this hospital. We went through the emergency room and they wheeled me to labor and delivery. They told me I had to check in at triage and wait for a delivery room to open up. Then they told me that my husband could not wait with me in triage. He had to wait in the waiting room. When we took the hospital tour they told us we would be in triage like 15 minutes tops, so we didn't think it would be a big deal. Boy, were we wrong. They made me labor on my back for 4 hours in active labor. I was dilated to 4, so it was real labor, and I was feeling it pretty hard core. The nurse decided to put my IV in during a contraction. That wasn't fun. She had to stick me a couple of times before it worked. There were two other woman in triage. They were quiet and probably trying to rest. I know one of them wasn't in labor because I overheard. I don't think they got much rest because my contractions were three minutes a part and I was moaning and groaning. I was sick of laying on my back, so I decided to tell them I had to use the restroom. Oh, that was sweet relief. I stayed in there swaying, squatting, and rocking until someone else knocked on the door. It felt so good to stand up. I felt like I could handle it when I was standing up. They made me lay back down, but I kept telling them I had to use the restroom. They kept telling me they were updating my husband, but I later found out they were not. The nurse caught on and told me she would get a bedpan if I had to get up again because I needed to be hooked up to the fetal monitor. So, needless to say my blood pressure shot up. I was stressed. I couldn't believe this hospital wouldn't let me have my coach to help me through active labor.

Finally, a room opened up and they wheeled me in. My doula and my hubby arrived and I felt so much better. I calmed down a lot. I had my own space. The nurse insisted I stay hooked up to everything, but I had a little more freedom and I kept getting up and going to the bathroom again. I was now dilated to 5/6 and I would hug Phil during each contraction to get me through the pain. The nurse shift changed over and I got an amazing nurse named Geneva. She really helped my mood too. Unfortunatly, the doctor's changed shifts too. The doctor was running late and he called in to check in on his laboring ladies and ordered magnisium to lower my blood pressure. He wasn't there to ask questions about it, but he wanted me to go on it because my blood pressure was high in triage. This medicine goes in to your IV and is real nasty, you have to stay on it for 24 hours after delivery. I guess it prevents seizures. You have to lay in bed and get a cathiter, which in turn slows down labor. It was about 8:00 in the morning on October 28th, 2008. I had only been at the hospital for 5 and half hours. I only had been in the labor and delivery room for an hour and was finally calming down and this doctor wanted me to go on this medicine without me even talking to him. My doula told me that my blood pressure was not high enough to need this medicine, so I declined it until the doctor got there. I had to sign something that said I was rejecting the doctor's advice. Finally, the doctor arrived at like 9:00 and came in and immediatly started yellling at me and my husband. "I am the doctor, and you young people come in with unrealistic expectations of what you want. I don't know who you took birthing classes from (my doula who was in the room), but they should have told you to listen to your doctor. You could kill yourself and your baby." I was so out of it and I was like, is this guy really yelling at me during my labor. Yes, he was. So I went on the magnisium and yes it was nasty stuff. I started itching all over and I had to lay in my bed. Then they took my nurse Geneva away for an emergency c-section and I got this really cranky nurse who came in and checked me without telling me. Then, she went to put my cathiter in, during a contraction and I rested my knee on her chest and she pushed my leg away and cursed and left the room. Am I in hell or what? Then the doctor came back in and said, "I don't think her contractions are that strong, so I we are going to put an internal monitor. A lot of women don't have a very high pain tolerance, so the internal monitor will tell us if her contractions are strong." Can you believe this guy. So I think someone told Geneva to come back and take care of me and Geneva put in the internal monitor in and the cathiter. My contractions were peaking off the monitor and I was doing my patterned breathing, but laboring on my back was becoming too hard. I had so many things hanging out of me and I couldn't move to get comfortable. I was itchy from the medicine. I also had to have a special antibiotic because I tested positive for some kind of infection I could pass to the baby. Then the doctor came in and looked at my contractions and said, "Oh I guess you are having real contractions." I wanted to punch him in the face, but I didn't have the strength. He decided to break my bag of waters finally. He said this would help me progress. I was a little nervous as he grabbed the hook tool to do it, but it felt good when he released the pressure. It was followed with stress though. Apparently Audrey had her first poop in my womb and they were going to have to irrigate that. Great, another thing to hang out of me. So, yes, I had the internal monitor, the cathiter, and the irrigation system hanging out and I freaked out. I grabbed Phil's shirt and said the password for pain medicine. I said, "I don't want an epidural. I just need a little something to ease the pain." The doctor said, "You should just get an epidural because you are probably going to end up with a c-section anyway." I ignored him. Geneva immediately came in with a syringe of Stadol and the second she injected it into my IV, I felt better. I could still feel the contractions, but I didn't feel itchy and I didn't feel pain from the other things hanging out of me and I could focus on getting through the contractions which is what I wanted. So it was about noon on October 28th and I guess Dr. Evil needed to go on lunch break or something because he came in and said, "We need to do a ceserean." You are not progressing very fast and your blood pressure is still high (obviously this hospital made it high), and we need to get the baby out. My doula was thinking about just walking us out. She couldn't believe this hospital was being so ridiculous, but we have and HMO. HMO's are awesome in some ways. I did not pay a single penny for pre-natal care, not even a co-pay. The hospital was free. If we walked out and delivered the baby in the car the insurance may not pay for the time we did spend in the hospital because we went against medical advice. I looked at my husband and said, "I just want it to be over." I was 8cm dialted.

So, I was prepped for surgery and they rolled me to the operating room and I was in transition. The Stadol had warn off and I was shaking. It was horrible. They told my husband he had to wait in the other room while I got the spinal. I cried to Geneva and told her she needed to stay with me the whole time. She reassured me she would. The contractions were on top of eachother and I didn't know how I was going to stay still for the huge needle they were about to put in my spine. I took a deep breathe and wrapped my arms around Geneva and closed my eyes tight and felt nothing from the neck down immediately. Sweet relief. They helped me lay on my back and started taping my arms down and putting everything in to place and I felt like I was going to throw up. They gave me a bowl. This hospital was really good at c-sections. They were a well-oiled machine. I felt like they knew what they were doing. I just tried to think of my sweet baby girl. Finally, they let my husband back in with his cute little scrubs. I told him to tell me everything. He said, "They already cut you open." I was like, "What?" I was really numb. I thought I would feel pressure or something. My husband does not like medical stuff. He gets woozy at the sight of blood, but he watched for me. He told me when her head popped up. "Hello world." She had a lot of dark hair. They pulled her out and I heard her cry right away. Good set of lungs. She was here. Of course they didn't show me her or anything, they whisked her over to clean her and cut the umbilical cord (husband did cut it, even though he said he wasn't). Phil was snapping pictures like crazy and I just cried happy tears. There was my girl. I was a Mommy, finally. They bundled her all up and brought her over to me. My arms were strapped down and I couldn't touch her, but the nurse let me give her a kiss and then they whisked her out of the room again. "Stay with her, don't let her out of your sight. I will see you in a little bit," I told my husband. He kissed me and followed the nurse.

So that is where the story should end, right? I am a Mom and everything is okay. No, it just gets worse. They stitched me up and wheeled me to recovery where I thought my husband and baby would be. No! They told me to rest and I could see my baby when I was stable. "I was too excited to rest." I wanted to hold my baby. So four hours pass and I keep asking, "When can I see my baby." Finally I get to see my husband. He looks tired and worn out. Apparently, they took Audrey to the nursery and weighed her (9lbs, 4oz) and measured her (22 inches) and stuck her in a warmer. Phil wanted to hold her, but this crazy nurse told him, "At this hospital Dad's aren't important, the baby isn't even important, only the Mom's. You are just going to have to wait. She is not allowed to see the baby for 24 hours and you are not allowed to touch her until her Mom has held her." Well my husband is pretty pushy, so he wouldn't take that for an answer. My doula started knocking on doors of adminstration until she talked to someone with power. They let Philip in the nursery and he couldn't hold Audrey, he could only touch her through the warmer while the nurse berated him and yelled at him for who knows what. We got it all on video. She pushed him and stuck her finger in his face. Ugh. I was still in recovery waiting for someone to tell me something. Then my mom and my mother in-law came in and told me that the hospital said I couldn't breastfeed because of the medicine I was on. My mother in-law is also a lactation specialist, so she talked to some higher ups at the hospital and they said they would bring the baby in to see me. I couldn't believe the mess wasn't over. I just wanted to go home. I felt fine. The only thing stressing me was this hospital. Audrey scored an 8/9 apgar and they stuck her in a warmer. I was so mad.

All my stress melted away when they wheeled in my baby girl. I got to hold her and kiss her big cheeks and I breastfed her for the first time. I really didn't care what they said. They tried to tell me that my husband couldn't stay the night because I had to stay in recovery for 24 hours and I said, "You need to find away for him to stay." He was not leaving me in this place. They found a labor and delivery room we could stay the night in. That first night was magical. I remember Phil and I took turns holding her and soothing her. She was quite high strung. When we got her home she was not a fussy baby, but I think she sensed the stress in this hospital. She was a pro at breastfeeding from the start. No latch problems or anything. I stayed up half the night watching her sleep. At one point she stopped eating and crying and looked up at me with her big eyes and studied me. I told her, "I am your Mommy." She stared at me for awhile. I couldn't believe I was finally a Mommy.
So after 24 hours they finally took me off magnesium and wheeled me to a VIP post-pardon room. I think they thought we were going to sue them. As they wheeled me through labor and delivery I saw pregnant Mom's filling out paperwork and I wanted to scream, "Get out of here while you can." I didn't though. Everyone oohed and ahhed over Audrey. She was a beauty. There of course were more incidences during my 3 night stay, but in the end I think we changed things a little. The head of labor and delivery really seemed receptive to our comments. One nurse that took care of me in post pardon said that she was so proud of me for breastfeeding through all the stress and she was trying to start a breastfeeding program at the hospital because they really push formula. I hoped we made a difference in some little way.

I guess the lesson to be learned is that you really need to do your research when making a hospital and birthing plan. It is hard to explain because we went on the tour and asked all the right questions. I made a birth plan and showed it to my doctor before hand and took his notes and changed things. My advice is to stay out of the hospital as long as you possibly can. It is scary because you don't want to deliver your baby by yourself, but if you want a natural labor, that is my advice. It also important to look for certain warning signs during the tour. The lady that gave the tour was not very knowledgeable and she just said "Yes" to everything instead of really checking for us. I also went should of known from how I was treated when I had to go in for fetal monitoring. It wasn't exactly a friendly place. I just was not aware how much a hospital can make or break your birth experience. Trust your body. You will know when it is time to go to the hospital.

I hope to be posting an amazing story about our birth experience very soon.


Today's Mom

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Pregnant with a Toddler

In a weird way it is almost easier to have a job than to stay home with a toddler when you are pregnant. I worked most of my pregnancy and my daughter stays home with my husband. This summer I have been able to stay home with her and my husband, and yes, she is more exhausting than a full-time job. Daddy is my superhero. He always lets me rest when I come home from work, even though it is exhausting to parent a toddler (pregnant or not). I have some tips to getting that needed rest with your needy toddler while you are pregnant. Oh, and an just for clarification I am pregnant with a baby in my womb and I live with a toddler. Daddy made me clarify.

It is crazy because in a week or two I am not going to be pregnant with a toddler anymore. I am going to be the mother of a newborn and a toddler. Honestly, I am a little nervous about becoming a parent of two children, but I guess we will see if I have any advice to give in a month or two. Now for the tips while you are pregnant.

1. Take a bath with your toddler. Audrey and I will take baths together. She rubs the shaving cream on my legs. We play with her toys and I get to soak my soar muscles in the tub.

2. Have Daddy babysit and go get a spa pedicure. I got a lot more massages the first time around. Mostly because Daddy now gives Mommy a lot of breaks because he is parenting a toddler now as well. So, I had Daddy babysit and I went to the nail salon and got the super ultra spa pedicure for $40.00. I told them I was pregnant and I think they gave me extra special treatment. I went to the Nail Spa in Cerritos, CA. You sit in a massage chair and then they massage your legs and feet like three times. It is heavenly for those tender feet and ankles.

3. Take a nap while the toddler is napping. How much are you really going to get done while your baby is sleeping? It is worth a couple missed chores to keep your strength up. I always try to nap when she naps. Yeah, the house is a bit messier, but I am a lot less cranky.

4. Let them watch some educational DVD's. I know you are not suppose to let them watch DVD's and television until they are over 2, but those psychologists and researchers have obviously never been pregnant with a toddler before. Sometimes I just need to relax and kick my feet up and Audrey really likes her shows. Of course you need to limit the time (maybe one a day), but I show them to her guilt free. Audrey loves
My Baby Can Read, Elmo's World, Word World, Sid the Science Kid, and Baby Signs.

That's all I got for now, but I may have more tips for you later. I kinda have prego brain at 38 weeks pregnant.


Today's Mom

Friday, August 27, 2010

Going Against the Norm: Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding in Laughlin, NV.
Breastfeeding at the beach.

Breastfeeding on the Amtrak.

Breastfeeding with a breastfeeding friend.

Breastfeeding in line at Disneyland.

Breastfeeding at the hospital.

Do these pictures make you uncomfortable? I am not exposed, but I am breastfeeding in public. It is very easy to breastfeed in public without exposing yourself, even without a blanket.

A fellow breastfeeding friend brought a recent news story to my attention about a Mom that was asked to leave a Cost Plus World Market in Orange County because she was breastfeeding her child in public. I knew I didn't like that stupid store.

When I was pregnant with my first daughter I was pretty scared about breastfeeding, but I made up my mind that no matter what I was going to deal with the pain and discomfort of breastfeeding to feed my child. If I made the mature decision to have a baby, then I better be ready to deal with the discomfort of breastfeeding my child. I committed before I had my baby that I was going to exclusively breastfeed for at least 6 months. If only the pain and discomfort was my only obstacle in breastfeeding my daughter. It all started at the hospital. I literally had a nurse tell me, "You had a c-section, so your milk won't come in for awhile and you need to bottle-feed." My mother-in law (a nurse and lactation specialist) put them in their place, but I couldn't believe the power of the formula companies in hospitals. You know what I am talking about. The doctor's office gives you free diaper bags and formula samples. The hospital gave me free bottles filled with formula, a free diaper bag, and car seat filled with coupons and advertisements for formula. When I was breastfeeding at the hospital with my daughter the lactation nurse didn't come to help me for two days. That is plenty of time for a new mom to give up.

I was reading a breastfeeding medical journal and I read an abstract about how formula companies provide the growth charts for pediatrician's offices. The journal stated that formula fed babies gain weight faster then breastfed babies at first, then it tapers off. They also have bigger heads then breastfed babies. The breastfed baby catches up after 2-4 months. So doctors tell their Mom's you aren't producing enough milk and then make them supplement formula when it is all a BIG HUGE SCAM! Sound like big tobacco to you?
My mother in law also told me that breastfeeding organizations tried to put out public service announcements about the dangers of formula feeding. The formula companies wouldn't let them ever be aired on television. That is how much power formula companies have.

One more conspiracy theory! Why does WIC give money to Mom's for formula, but not to Mom's that have chosen to breastfeed. I don't want our tax dollars supporting formula companies. I don't want a single penny to go to them. If a Mom is unable to breastfeed (which is very rare), or if a Mom adopts a baby, they need to give money to breast milk banks to feed their babies. Keep your free diaper bag formula companies.

I am not even breastfeeding anymore, but I will be again very shortly. I breastfeed in public. I am not the hippy mom that pulls her boob out for the whole world to see, but it is impossible to not breastfeed in public and it is my right to do so. There are California Civil Codes in relation to breastfeeding, so check them out. California Civil Code 43.3 protects a mother's right to feed her child in public. I am outraged by the weirdness with breastfeeding in America. I don't care if you choose to formula-feed your baby, that is your prerogative, but don't mess with mother's who make the braver, the harder, the less comfortable choice to breastfeed their children. I am not going to lie to you, breastfeeding is a lot of hard work. In the end I wouldn't trade the 17 months I breastfed my daughter for anything. See my other blogs about breastfeeding for those thoughts. Power to you breastfeeding Mama's. Don't give up!


Today's Mom

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Homeless with a Toddler

For the last 6 and half months my husband, toddler daughter, and I lived in hotels waiting for our house to close escrow. We gave notice at our tiny two bedroom apartment too early and then we fell out of escrow. Oh, and did I mention I found out I was pregnant the week we had to move all our stuff in to a storage unit? (three storage units actually). A lot of people thought we were crazy, but in the end it paid off because we got our house!!! It is amazing. It even has a fruit orchard. It is amazing how God works things out. Believe me, I thought it wasn't gonna work out more than once. Audrey was 14 months old when we moved into various hotel rooms. She is now 21 months old when we finally moved into our house. We made it in time to get ready for Luke (our son, due in September). Needless to say, my husband and I are experts at traveling with a toddler. It is really cool that hotel rooms are pretty child proof. Bring in a bag of toys and you have yourself a portable bedroom. Blackout curtains work great for tired, cranky, toddlers. In fact, now that we are in a house without blackout curtains, Audrey wakes up at the crack of dawn. It is really cool that someone cleans up after your toddler's mess. Poopy diapers, crumbs on the floor, messy towels on the floor are all cleaned up after a visit to the grocery store. My husband had a whole nap time system for when the maid came to clean. He would take Audrey in the car for her daily nap while the maid cleaned the room. Looking back on this experience after it's all said and done I realize that it was worth all the moving around because I am sitting here in my huge living room in my huge house. If we were not patient or willing to be flexible we would not have been able to be here. I think my daughter is very flexible with different situations because of this out-of-the-ordinary experience. She knows how to have a different schedule without having a meltdown. We can travel anywhere and she is fine with it. I love seeing her in her new pink princess bedroom because it reminds me of how as a family we worked together and made this house happen together. We were all patient and it paid off. In the end, my point is that every child needs a little bump in their schedule. I think Audrey will now always be ready for new experiences and traveling to new places. I am glad we don't have to do this anymore, but looking back it was a great experience.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Hippie Parents

A friend of mine referred to my laid back parenting style as, "hippy." I guess in some ways I am pretty laid back about parenting. Let me give you the context. We were eating at a restaurant on the patio. No one else was eating on the patio, but our group. My 21 month old daughter refuses to sit in a high chair very long anymore, so we don't even bother. She sits in a chair now. My husband and I let her get down and climb and run around as long as she is not bothering anyone. I have been out with friends who spend their whole meal fighting with their kid to sit down and be quiet. What is the point of even going out if you are going to make it miserable for your child the entire meal? My daughter let us sit and talk for over an hour in the beautiful sunshine and she was completely happy. So here are my tips for a successful sit down meal with a toddler.

1. Go to a loud restaurant. My daughter is a loud talker, so if the restaurant is louder then her no one will mind her lack of volume control. Also if your toddler does decide to have a melt-down in the middle of dinner no one will be able to hear.
2. Get one of those large corner booths if possible. I let my daughter run around on them and it keeps her entertained for awhile.
3. Always bring back-up. My daughter loves to look at books and she loves to color. Make sure if it is gonna be a long dinner that you have entertainment for your child. I also keep one of those mini-Magna Doodles in her diaper bag. Those things are amazing.

I look at my "hippiness" as a positive thing. I am not a hippy about everything, but there are some things a mom should just not have to stress about. Going out to eat every once in awhile should be fun for all (including your child).


Today's Mom