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Friday, May 24, 2019

Our Essentials for Baby Sleep


We have never been able to traditionally sleep train our children. We are not against it, we just have ended up creating our own mash up of tools and methods that work for our babies. So whether you're sleep training, co-sleeping, winging it, or something in between, I think the key is just knowing our own babies and doing whatever is best for them, ourselves and our families.

Here are few things that have been essential for us, because sometimes you're on the hunt for solutions and you just need some ideas. :)


My Kiddos

Joslynne
 has never been a good sleeper. She has been busy, adventurous, and known exactly what she wants from the beginning. As a baby, she napped for 15-30 minutes at the most and not making up for it with extra naps or sleeping in! Cue the mom tears! She woke up manyyy times a night, not just to eat, but to hang out for hours on end.

She was my champion nurser (who breastfed until 17 months) which made her clingy and not great at self soothing. She required rocking to sleep at the least EVERY. SINGLE. nap and at bedtime. Most times it was more like bouncing than rocking. You know the babies that require you to walk around bouncing them and scream the second you try to sit down? Ya, that's my child. Wes always said we had to do a work out to put her to bed because she really did fall asleep the easiest if we did actual squats with her! After we spent 20-30 minutes getting her to drift off, the saddest part was when she would wake up during the transfer to the crib. Once the movement stopped, no matter how carefully or quietly the transfer was made, if she was still, she was awake.

 You may be wondering why we didn't let her cry it out. Well, we tried. I would 100% be an advocate of her learning self soothe-- if she would do it. That girl would just keep crying...for hours! She has the will power of an....I don't even know, but she wasn't about to throw in the towel! At some point we all gotta sleep, so bouncing/squatting/rocking it was.

We calculated that in her first 7 months of life not only did we never sleep through the night, not one time, but I spent a total of 57 entire nights awake if you string all the hours together. :( I apologize for anything I said, did, or looked like during those months. By all means that kiddo is WORTH it, and she is our world, but reinforcements were a must.

Elaina
Thank you Jesus this baby can be placed in her bed without rocking! My legs aren't quite as toned, but I'll survive. ;)She has always been a champ at falling asleep on her own. In fact, rocking keeps her awake because she thinks its social time. The biggest challenge with this babe has been her flat out refusal to breastfeed. So, that means making bottles at all hours of the night. It's really ok, but our current hurdle is getting her to sleep through the night and stop waking up for her late night snack bottle. ;)


Essentials for Baby

Crib Vibrator


Since Joslynne woke up during the transfer from bouncing to the crib, this crib vibrator saved our lives. It just goes under the crib mattress. It vibrates the mattress for 30 minutes and gradually turns off on its own! We use it on top of the mattress too sometimes. Th vibrator helps soothe baby to sleep as well. We turn it on for Elaina too when she's feeling stubborn and crying it out is dragging on. You can find the one we have here.


Essential Oils

When Joslynne's naps were maxing out at a whopping 30 minutes, I was ready to try anything to help her sleep better! We've all heard about essential oils, and I didn't quite understand what they are used for. But, when I heard a friend talking about them supporting and helping with a good night's sleep in kid's and adults, I decided to look into it. I borrowed enough oils to make a sleep roller for Josy and we have seen such a difference! Now we have our own oils and love rolling the sleepy rollers on the bottoms of our kids' feet before naps and at bedtime.

Oils need to be diluted for babies according to their ages, but here's what we put in our "Dreamy Baby" roller:

Dreamy Baby Roller 
*Lavender
*Cedarwood
*Roman Chamomile
Peace and Calming
Drop in a 10 ml glass roller bottle and top off with fractionated coconut oil

*I don't use any oils on my baby's skin prior to 3 months. These are the first 3 I add when we start out out. We do just lavender first, then add a drop of each slowly. Starting with less is always best with littles! More about dilution ratios here

We also love diffusing in our babies' bedrooms an hour before bed time. I love this diffuser because you can set it to run for one hour. I fill it up and run it for an hour at a time several nights in a row before filling it again.


Dreamy Baby Diffuser blend
2 Drop Lavender
1 Drop Peace and Calming
1 Drop Cedarwood

One thing we just started this week is also putting Elaina's body lotion on before bed when we put PJ's on instead of in the mornings. The Young Living Seedlings baby lotion has great calming oils like lavender in it! It's been great so far!

More about Young Living Essential Oils and Products Here. Feel free to message me if you have questions or would like more info too!

White Noise

I accidentally discovered that vacuum noise works wonders for soothing Joslynne when she fell asleep ON HER OWN while I was vacuuming! I literally started turning on the vacuum if she wouldn't fall asleep. Then Wes thought surely there are vacuum videos on youtube! There actually are a few of someone literally recorded themselves vacuuming. Haha! But, there is also one that is just the noise and runs for 8 hours with no ads. That has been our go-to. We just turn it on a kindle in our baby's room at bedtime. I know there are sound machines out there, but having a tablet for our kids serves other purposes. So, it's been great for us!

The video we use is here.

Being careful with Youtube around kiddos is very important these days. We take precautions like:

Making sure the video has no ads and we've played it all the way through many times
Placing the tablet away from the baby so she can't see it
Turning off Auto Play
Using a video monitor at all times so we can hear and see what's going on in the nursery.

Blackout/Whiteout Curtains

Complete darkness is essential for helping babies fall asleep, because it helps them release Melatonin faster. That the hormone that regulates our sleep. Blackout curtains are a huge help in giving baby a dark environment no matter what time of day it is. I used to think the only light blocking curtains sold were heavy looking and dark colored. Then, we discovered blackout (sometimes called whiteout curtains) with white lining! They are thick and completely lined to block out light just like black lined ones! But, they fit a light/happy/cheery baby nursery theme a little better than dark colored curtains.

I found these gorgeous curtains by Pillowfort from Target!

Sleep Sack

I've been living under a rock,  but it took me a while to realize I could try a sleep sack to help with the transition from swaddling. It seems like babies sleep better and longer if they feel cozy and snuggled up. Obviously, we can't just put blankets over them in the crib, so a sleep sack is like a little sleeping bag with arm holes. It's a safe way to keep baby warm and cozy even while he or she flips and turns during the night! This is the one we have. :)


Essentials for Toddlers

Background Noise

Just like the vacuum white noise, Joslynne likes soothing music to fall asleep even as a toddler. We find that it helps her wind down to play classical music. We've found a video that shows coral reef fish swimming and it's put to classical music. Cue the kindle again!

For this, we made sure its not too entertaining to keep her awake, and it turns off after a time. Same safety rules apply here too! This video has no ads. :)

Essential Oils

Like I shared above, we use oils for our toddler similarly to what we do for babies. Our "Toddler Dreamy" roller just has more oils since they can handle more by 2 years old.

Dreamy Toddler Roller
 Lavender
Cedarwood
Roman Chamomile
Peace and Calming
Frankinsense
Orange
Drop in a 10 ml glass roller bottle and top off with fractionated coconut oil

We turn on the diffuser in Joslynne's room one hour before bed time too!

Dreamy Toddler Diffuser blend
2 Drop Lavender
2 Drop Peace and Calming
2 Drops Orange
1 Drop Cedarwood
1 Drop Frankinsense

"OK to Wake" Clock

We already established our girl is a go getter, so naturally also an early riser. It was getting hard to start the morning with 2 kiddos with Joslynne up at a different time every morning ready to start adventuring! We bought her an OK to Wake Alarm Clock and set it for 7 am. If she wakes up before then, she knows she needs to play in her room and wait to ask for milk, snacks, etc. until the green light turns on. She loves it and calls it her "bug". Sure enough, the second it turns from yellow to green, that girl is upstairs ready to go! It just helps me situate a few things in the morning before there are lots of requests flooding my way. ;) The consistency has helped Joslynne actually sleep until the same time most days now too!

There is a nap mode too and she never wakes up before 2 hours has passed now! HALLELUJAH!

Routine

My little one is all about knowing what to expect. She functions so well with routines and explanations of what's coming next. It may seem obvious, but I've found that telling her what we are doing after her nap or something exciting about the next day helps her be ready and willing for bedtime.

She also loves doing the same little routine every night before bed and each afternoon before nap time.

Where to sleep

This obviously has to be within reason, but one of the things that helped Joslynne sleep longer is letting her nap where she wants to. It has to be away from the noise of the house, but she slept twice as long when I let her nap in our room instead of the crib. (Once she could safely crawl out of my bed). She also asked one day to start sleeping in her big girl bed, and I was afraid she would be up all night if we jumped into it. But, she slept through the night better than she had been in the crib! I guess she was just ready to be a big girl!

Newborn photos by: Misty D. Photography

There's no wrong answer here. It's great to listen to other people's ideas, but in the end, just listen to your mama sense and do what works for your family and your little ones. We just tried new things until our babies started snoozing! Oh, and grace, and caffeine. Give yourself lottttts of grace and caffeine as needed. ;)

This post contains amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn from these links. All opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Elaina Brielle: Birth Story

Elaina's beautiful newborn photos were taken by Misty D. Photography

















Elaina is 9 months old, so it was high time I record her birth story before I start forgetting details! 

By the middle of August, at 37 week appointment, I was a beached whale-- swollen, hot, couldn't move, and who knew your stomach could get so sweaty? The idea of 3 more weeks of pregnancy made me cry. Literally cry. (Who said anything about being reasonable at this point?) I was so happy when my doctor said we could try membrane stripping to get the ball rolling. I was already dilated to 3 cm. 

After Joslynne was 9 days late, and I had a nearly 24 hour induction, all I wanted was to go into labor on my own. On time as well would just be amazing! ;)  On August 18, Saturday, I was almost 38 weeks and started having contractions. Maybe the membrane stripping worked! Wes was doing yard work, and I was making a meal for my friend who just had a baby. I was anxious to join her in the postpartum club. :) I tried to keep going about my business and not get my hopes up, but you know that's impossible. All I could think about was this could be the day! The contractions were only 3-4 minutes apart. They were so mild though, I didn't know what to think. I've only felt active labor contractions on Pitocin, so I didn't know what to expect from natural contractions. I tried laying down but they didn't stop. We live an hour away from the hospital, and I just kept thinking, what if they get closer together and intense suddenly. We would still have to drop Joslynne off somewhere too. We wanted to be logical and practical, but all we wanted was for this to be it. Strange, I know, but I have this desire to experience that "this is it, let's go now" moment. I didn't get that with Jos. I think I just wanted to prove to myself that my body could go into labor on its own.  

So yes, we jumped the gun and went in.  At the hospital, I was 3 cm and 70% effaced, and we were told if I dilated a whole centimeter in 2 hours they would keep us there. I would be lying if I said I didn't do some squats and lunges at that point. ;) We walked about 1000 circles around labor and delivery with contractions still 3-4 min apart the whole time. Come on baby! DROP! Then came the sad moment when I had only dilated to 3.5! By that point, we were just grumpy that we stayed up all night for nothing. We went home and contractions completely stopped. Yes, it was a pathetic trying to hope something into reality scenario, but you live and you learn. Take away...I am impatient. Sleep that night would've been a better plan. ;)

I had next to 0 contractions on Sunday and Monday. On Tuesday, I had an appointment and Wes's mom came over to watch Joslynne. I put our bags in the car holding on to a twinge of hope, but I was sure I'd be right back. I even told Joslynne I would be home after her nap when she cried as I left.  My doctor was so surprised I was still pregnant after the weekend false alarm. She was so sweet to be understanding and not make me feel dramatic for the whole thing. ;) She asked me if I was still feeling a good amount of movement from the baby. I had been a little uneasy because there seemed to be a pretty big decrease in her movement. I totally expected to hear the typical "Oh well that's probably just because she's getting bigger and it's hard to move in there" response. I appreciate my OB's listening ear and how seriously she takes each question and concern Wes and I have! We LOVE her! We checked the amniotic fluid level and did a non stress test just to see. Wes and I figured it was just a precaution and everything would be normal, so Wes went back to work just down the street.  I had a very low amount of fluid and Elaina was "unresponsive" during the test. Unresponsive means that although her hear rate was "fine" she didn't have the 2 accelerations above a certain rate they like to see in a 20 minute period. 

My doctor peeked back in and said "I think today is just the day to have this baby!" She told me to call Wes back and head to the Labor and Delivery right away. I was like "can I eat lunch quick?" And she said "no, as in right now!" I called Wes, and he was just about to have a smoked rib lunch with his team, so he also asked "can I eat lunch first?" Poor guy, he totally could've eaten first, the hospital was uneventful for the first couple hours! So we were hungry, but also very excited that this was it! :)

My whole goal of going into labor on my own....was slipping away by the minute. I agreed with my doctor on this change of plans, it just didn't feel right to wait after that non stress test. My new goal, was to be able to move around during contractions even on Pitocin. When I had Joslynne, being stuck in the bed with the ever sliding belly bands was a nightmare! When you finally get comfortable during a contraction and the monitor slides off so the nurse has to come move you to fix it is like a cruel form of torture. Luckily, Francesca was best nurse ever, and set me up with wireless fetal monitoring so I could move around. We had do go to internal monitoring after all later on, but it was a great effort! ;)

The first few hours at the hospital were pretty uneventful. We texted our friends and family, got set up with Pitocin, talked to the OB about the plan. I even reorganized my wallet? Haha! (See? Totally could've eaten lunch :P) When contractions started at about 3:30pm, Elaina started having heart decelerations during each one. Obviously that made us nervous.  Our nurse called the doctor and pretty much just told us, they are monitoring and if it gets worse and becomes an emergency, they would do a c section right away. It was made clear that if that was the case, I would have to be put under anesthesia unless I already had an epidural. Of course I wanted to be awake for my baby's birth, but since it was unknown, I decided I'd rather risk it than start labor with an epidural and be stuck to the bed. Especially, since pain hadn't really started yet. It was nerve racking, and nurses kept saying things like "she's just a little mad in there" or "she just really wants to come out." We couldn't tell if they were trying to keep us calm or if it really was no big deal. Thankfully, the decelerations stopped after about an hour. 

The contractions were increasing steadily, but I was still only dilated to 4 cm at 6pm. The OB doctor on call came in to break my water at that point, and commented on how little amniotic fluid I had! I was so thankful we decided to do this that night instead of going home and wondering if our baby was ok.  We switched to internal monitoring at this point. I had a panic moment when, after a while the screen showing the heart rate just stopped! After the decelerations earlier, I was mortified. But, it turned out that the end of the monitor attached to Elaina just fell off. AHH! I guess I really do just move too much during labor. 

Contractions started getting much more intense and Wes was so sweet and helpful. He became a pro at applying counter pressure. He not only is the best cheerleader and supporter, but he also has a way of making me laugh in these situations and taking my mind off the pain. It makes nurses nervous though when my contractions go nuts on screen while I'm in tears laughing at my husband. :P At 9:45 pm I was so excited to find out how much I was dilated. The amount of work the last few hours were, it felt like I had to be far! I was dilated 5.5 cm. So annoying!  A little bit of background, I labored with Joslynne on Pitcocin for 10 hours with no epidural all night only to find out I progressed 1 cm. By morning, I was exhausted, still had all day to go, and ended up with a fever by the time I started pushing.  I had regretted not resting while I could. Since this time seemed like it might be Deja Vu, I was sure we were in for a long night again. I decided to get an epidural and sleep so I could go into pushing with more strength.

The time between asking for an epidural and the anesthesiologist showing up feels like at least 5 days! I know it should be the opposite, but relief being so close yet so far away, makes me lose focus and want to throw in the towel. Remember, we already established, I'm impatient. ;) Not like you have a choice, contractions come whether you're ready or not. The epidural was finally administered and I laid down and started shaking uncontrollably. I guess that's fairly normal, but shaking during contractions before any pain relief kicked in was a little crazy. Then, all the sudden I had a GIANT sharp pain and immediately threw up. We are almost positive that whole moment was caused by Elaina turning from sunny side up to face down. I was instantly dilated to 10cm! YAAAAS! Her being sunny side up was probably what made me dilate so slowly all evening. 

I felt much better after that, but started having the urge to push. Our nurse told me I had to hold on for 15 minutes until the doctor arrived! That was 10:45 pm. My OB looking she was just yanked out of deep sleep and was like "Phew, the way things were going, I thought we had all night!" Haha! I started pushing at 11 and our Elaina Brielle was born at 11:37! She was stuck for a few minutes with shoulder dystocia, but the doctor got her released quickly and in my arms! 

After the few nerve racking moments earlier in the day, I was just so thankful to have her in my arms and healthy! She was absolutely perfect Apparently, I was unable to birth the placenta on my own, but all that meant to me was more skin on skin time with my babe while the doctor and nurses took care of me. ;) I spent that time staring at her and sending my mom and sister selfies with our new girl! She started breastfeeding right away, which I will always remember, because that was one of the only days this little girl actually wanted to breastfeed! (More about out breastfeeding story Here)

I'll tell ya, starting and finishing labor all in the same day is wayyyyy easier than spanning to days. Also, no fever makes pushing a much better experience. Just adding to the many things we were thankful for! Our baby girl had arrived and we were so thrilled!

We got to our recovery room at 2 am and I was STARVING! I ate both the meals the nurse brought for Wes and I! Oops, sorry babe. (Don't worry, he got food.) ;)  While I was inhaling food Wes said "is it just me, or is it raining on us in here?!" It turns out that the older rooms of the hospital form condensation that drips from the ceiling if the air conditioning is on too high! We looked up and the ceiling was COVERED with water dripping down everywhere! We were trying to contact a nurse, find a spot to put Elaina that wasn't dripping, and I couldn't walk yet. We were so exhausted and out of it! The hospital staff was amazing and took care of it right away. But, it was one of those oddly intense moments that looking back now is ridiculous--kind of like watching an adult struggle to swim in a foot deep kiddy pool. :P 

Elaina was 7lbs 13oz and 20 inches long and we fell absolutely in love with her! Knowing Elaina makes it hard to believe there ever was a world without her in it. She has so much joy and the biggest smile that brightens our day everyday.  It could not be more perfect that her name means "bright, shining light"! Wes, I admit your name idea is a winner. She's everything we could've prayed for and more. We praise God for the incredible blessing you are baby girl! 

*As you may know, Elaina was a Bili Baby and had a little 3 week journey with jaundice. You can read more about that here and here if your curious. Some friends have asked if she's totally fine now, and yes, Elaina is perfectly happy and healthy!




Tuesday, February 26, 2019

I put my phone down, and here's what happened




This is something that's been going on behind the scenes in my life for a while. It has been huge for me, so I just wanted to share!

The internet has been a great resource to communicate, find inspiration, life hacks and solutions, to make my art business profitable, and creative outlet. However, there's also a lot of noise to navigate through. It all started to feel like somewhat of a creative inhibitor and I just felt a nudge to take a pause. So, I put my phone down. And didn't pick it back up except for certain times of the day.


I felt happy. Like happiest I've been in a really long time.

I saw more of my baby's smiles. 

My toddler started behaving better.

I played with my babies more.

My husband and i became a better team.

I started actually enjoying my home, decor rather than feeling discontent and needing more.

I suddenly loved my clothes, and knew what to wear. 

My house stayed cleaner and more organized.

I started meeting my goals.

I slept better.

I found time to spend with God.

I felt confident, valuable, and capable.

I started to exercise regularly.

I stopped stress snacking because I started dealing with the stress.

I had more time.

I became more productive.

I had more creative ideas.

I had a direction.

We established a routine.


I know it seems crazy that so much could change just from less time looking at a screen. But, mindlessly scrolling is not just a time suck. Along with its ideas and encouragments, the internet and social media bring constant peer pressure, comparison, unwarranted advice, and differing opinions into our hearts and minds. Its a lot to process. But since we usually scroll the internet when we are tired or looking for a break,  we don't process it all. We end up just filling our minds with an overload of information. It's been amazing to see what a taking a break and filling time, heart, and mind with truth, more real moments, and the people in front of me has done!


 Don't get me wrong, I love that we can find a community of like minded friends here. And, I'm not going anywhere. ;) It's just something I felt the need to monitor in my life.