Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Please vote!

If you like my blog, please take a few seconds to click on the Top Baby Blogs box below to vote! Then click on the owl on the left to complete your vote. The votes reset tonight so it's really important that you vote! You can vote once a day. Thank you so much!
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Advice for new mommies

I know so many women who are pregnant right now and I want to squeal with delight every time I see their beautiful bellies!  I am so thrilled that they get to experience all of the joys of a new baby. There are so many amazing "firsts" and I have to admit I'm just the tiniest bit jealous!

I know that every new mom gets about a million pieces of advice about every aspect of having a new baby, but here are some things I found most valuable.

Trust you instincts:

You are a mother now. No matter what anyone says, you know your baby best so don't let anyone talk down to you. You may need to fight for your baby at some point, don't be afraid to do so. The night before we were supposed to leave the hospital, Grace would not not stop screaming. The screams were mixed with coughs that we had not heard before. Mike and I could sense that something just wasn't right. After only 3 days we knew her cries enough to recognize that something was wrong. Mike took her temperature at about 3 AM, and sure enough she had a fever of 102 degrees. I paged the nurse and he quickly unswaddled her and rocked her to try and calm her down. The nurse took her sweet time getting to our room and started to lecture us about unswaddling her. She said she probably had a small fever because we had her in just a diaper and a light onesie and that was a mistake many new parents made. We were of course freaking out that our newborn had such a high temp and kept telling her that something was wrong. She kept dismissing our concerns, but said that she would take her to the nursery to get her checked out. Sure enough, she spent 2 days in the NICU on IV antibiotics due to a chest infection. We knew something was wrong and we were right. Trust your instincts and don't be afraid to fight for your child.

This was taken the night she was admitted to the NICU. The poor baby could not stop crying.

Ask for help:

This was the hardest one for me. When we first got pregnant, I didn't even want anyone to come stay with us the first few days because I wanted to do everything ourselves! I wanted Grace to room in with us at the hospital. I wasn't going to be one of those moms who just sent their baby to be cared for by the nurses. I would be super mom! As I got closer to delivery, I rethought my decision about having my parents come stay with us. They stayed for a week and a half. They cleaned, cooked and helped Mike take care of me and Grace following the c-section. While we were in the hospital, there were several nights when I called the nurses to take Grace for a few hours so that we could get some rest. We were exhausted. She was fine and the few extra hours of sleep kept us sane in those early days!

Then with all of my health problems throughout the year, I had to humble myself and ask people to come stay with us for extended periods of time. For 2 weeks, I couldn't even lift Grace and so many people gladly came to help.  I hope that none of you have to deal with the extreme situations that we did this year, but even in normal circumstances, there is nothing wrong with asking someone to watch your baby while you have a few hours to yourself. You will be a better mother for it.

And finally, be flexible:

"The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry" ~Robert Burns

I had such great plans for the first year of Grace's life. We would have an easy, fast birth and return home quickly. I would stay home and keep my house clean. I would learn to cook and would be able to get so much done while she napped. Mike would be able to take days off so that we could spend time together as a family and we would have an easy, fun year.

I'm such an idealist...

Instead I had a c-section, my appendix and my gallbladder removed, and a heart attack. Mike had to take all of his time off to take care of me and Grace. She was colicky and is an extremely clingy child. I have a hard time finding time to eat or shower much less keep my house clean and cook.

This year did not go as planned. But you know what? It was an amazing year. We are all happy and Grace won't remember that I don't make the most amazing organic meals for her or that out house might be a little dustier than I would like. It's great to make plans. But don't freak out when they don't go perfectly. Accept it, move on and enjoy the ride. Because it goes very very fast. Before long you will have a toddler on your hands and you will be the woman looking at the pregnant mommies feeling that pang of jealousy!

I'm linking up to Growing Up Geeky's Toddle Along Tuesday today!

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Heat wave in January

Normally in January, you can find me complaining about the nasty weather. I don't like snow or ice at all. I find that I generally tend to be cold blooded. I spend most of winter bundled up and am still often completely freezing.

But this winter has been unusually warm. And I'm excited to say that here in KC it was a balmy 65ish degrees today. So some of my mom friends and I decided to get the kids out of the house and visit the zoo. It was such a pretty day and I have never seen the animals so active! We watched the rhinos for about 15 minutes because they were playing so much. I've never seen rhinos play, but this mom and baby kept chasing each other! The baby would try to charge the mom. Then they would touch noses and the mom would "push" the baby all over the enclosure. It was hilarious to watch!

The mom pushing the baby around! Photo stolen from my friend Megan!

We tried to get the girls to ride the carousel, but Grace wanted nothing to do with it! She cried the moment I tried to put her on the horse. I guess we will try again later in the year!

 This weather is making me yearn for summer. I can't wait for hot weather so that we can get in the pool again. I love summer clothes and I've already been searching for swimsuits for Grace! Here are a few of my favorites so far:

All from Baby Gap. I think the first one might be the winner because Grace is so fair we need something to cover her arms!
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Friday, January 27, 2012

My child, the finger sucker

Do you ever feel like your taking one step forward and ten steps back? That is totally how I feel these past few weeks. We've been fighting colds, stomach bugs, and teething. We're all running on very little sleep. Grace's 4th molar started coming through this week and it has made her so grumpy! She refuses to sleep longer than an hour at a time at night and she's only been napping for about half an hour total each day. It's getting old pretty quick, but I just have to remember it's a phase and it will be over soon (I hope!)

In the midst of all of this, I have spent a great deal of my time cuddling with Grace and letting her suck on my finger. She has never taken a pacifier. We tried. At 7 weeks old, I spent 45 minutes trying to put a pacifier into her mouth while she screamed at me every time I tried. Finally I gave up and just gave her my finger and she contentedly when to sleep. I lost a battle of wills to my 7 week old. Little did I know, it would be the first of many! So much of our last year has been spent looking like this:

She uses my finger to soothe herself and now she is old enough to grab it and stick it in her mouth whenever she wants. If I don't, she starts getting upset. Now, before I had Grace, if someone else explained this situation to me, I would have said: "well, don't give it to her, she'll live without it!" But the mom in me keeps thinking and hoping that eventually she'll just grow out of it.

However, over the past few weeks I've been slowly coming to the decision that it's going to have to stop soon. She has all of her front teeth and they are sharp! She doesn't intentionally mean to bite me, but often when she is about to fall asleep, she clenches down hard. My fingers are all bruised and she has broken skin on more than one of them. I don't think my poor fingers can stand it anymore. Plus, I don't want a 4 year old sucking on my finger.

I know this is about the age where people start taking away pacifiers, so it's probably about time to stop letting her suck on my finger too. But how do I go about it? A pacifier is a physical object that you can put away so they can't see it. Grace will just try to grab my finger and I will have to keep taking it away. Any suggestions?

It is not going to be a fun process but I think it's going to have to happen sooner than later. God help us. The tantrums will probably be epic.
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Photography Deal!

Kansas City fiends, the deal I posted yesterday for a Valentine's Day mini session from Lisa B. Photography just got even sweeter! If you book today (1/25), Lisa will give you 20% off your mini session!! That's a $20 savings! Just email her at lisabphotography@comcast.net and mention my blog to book your session and get this special rate!
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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Grace's 1 year pics and a KC photography deal!

I am so excited to share this post with you! A few days after Grace's 1st birthday, we had Lisa of Lisa B Photography, come over to do Grace's pictures. Lisa did Grace's newborn pictures a year ago and I was so happy to have her do the 1 year shots as well!

I give Lisa a ton of credit for these wonderful shots because Grace was being a classic 1 year old. She did not want to sit down or look at the camera. She basically tried to eat all of the props and then pretty much refused to eat the smash cake. You would never know that looking at these shots.

My favorite. Just Wow. This will be going on our wall, I think it is canvas worthy!

I love that she captured Grace's personality! She has so many funny faces :) It looks like she was singing!

Sweet girl

She really wanted to push that candy jar around the floor! This is a classic Grace face.
Another favorite!

Where did my baby go?? These were some of the shots of Grace that Lisa took last year at this time:

Ok excuse me while I go cry now! She's changed so much.

Anyway, I wanted to share with all of my Kansas City friends that Lisa is offering a special Valentine's Day Mini Session this Saturday, January 28th from 10 AM to 5 PM.

For $100 you get:
- a 20 minute session

- 10 high resolution images on disk with the reproduction rights release

- a digital valentine (included on disk) to print out and share with friends and family!

- an assortment of props to choose from! This is optional, the shoot can be theme free if you would like!

The turn around time for the disk will only be 1 week!

This is such a great deal for professional photography. Lisa is great at capturing a child's presonality on film! Unlike a department store studio, Lisa provides edited photos with the reproduction rights release so you can print them wherever and whenever you like.

If you are interested in signing up for a Valentine's Day mini session, check out mini session event page here for more info. Make sure to leave her a comment letting her know which time you would like to book!

Also, be sure to "like" Lisa B. Photography's Facebook page! Her rates for full sessions are very reasonable so be sure to book her for you child's next birthday, your new baby, or for family photos!
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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Broken Heart Syndrome and Pregnancy

I feel bad that it took 6 days to get Grace's 1 year post done. I started it the day after her birthday but didn't really have time to complete it due to family being in town. Monday, Grace and I slept until 11:30 AM because we were both so exhausted from her birthday weekend. We spent the rest of the day recovering and I planned on getting back to my normal blogging schedule on Tuesday. Well, as you can probably tell, that didn't happen.

I debated about sharing this. But I think writing it out will help me process it, so here goes:

Several months ago, I decided that it would be best to speak to an OB about my medical history in regards to any future pregnancies that I might have. No, I'm not pregnant. But we would like to have another child in the future and I'd like to know what to expect. If you are new to my blog, I had a heart attack and was diagnosed with Broken Heart syndrome in October of 2011. Read more about it here. Two important things to note about my syndrome.

First: My heart is completely healed. I have no side effects from my attack and I feel completely fine. People are shocked by how quickly I recovered and I often forget that I had a heart attack less than 3 months ago.
Second: My syndrome is rare. Well, rare might be the wrong word. It is not frequently diagnosed because it is still a fairly new diagnosis in the US. It has been studied in Japan for years, but US doctors are now only starting to research it. Most of the people who have it are post-menopausal women. So for me, at my age, it is rare. Due to this, there is absolutely no information out there about how pregnancy affects Broken Heart patients.

So, when I called my OBs office to make an appointment, I was immediately referred to a high risk OB. The normal OBs won't touch you when they hear the words cardiomyapathy (heart attack) and pulmonary edema. I'm pretty saddened by this because I loved my OB. So I made an appointment with the high risk OB. I expected to go in there and discuss what the plans would be if and when I did get pregnant again. ie the frequency of appointments, what to expect at said appointments, what the delivery process would be (I assumed another c-section would be required but I wanted to check)  and what hospital I would deliver at because the hospital I delivered Grace at is small. Yes, I like to plan ahead and know what I'm getting myself into. That is not what I got. At all.

There was no discussion about plans. No conversation about how my body might be affected and what I might need to watch out for. Instead, he quickly told me that he recommended that we don't have any more children. That pregnancy forces the heart to work much harder than normal and with my history, this could cause problems. That the reoccurance rate of attacks in Broken Heart patients is 15-25%. That cardiomyapathy patients face a 50% mortality rate during future pregnancies and that I could risk losing permanent heart function or even death during pregnancy and labor leaving my husband to care for 2 children. That if I started losing heart function during the pregnancy they would recommend that I terminate the pregnancy immediately (I about lost it here, that really really bothered me.) So to avoid all of this, I should make an appointment for a tubal ligation for me or a vasectomy for my husband as soon as possible since my cardiologist told me I'm no longer allowed to take birth control. I had Grace with me and he kept mentioning how I should be happy to have her and that I was lucky to have one child before all of this happened. And that was the end of it. Have a good day and call us if you have any questions. I quickly gathered up everything and almost ran out of the office. I made it to the car before I burst into tears.

And I cried the rest of the day. I was devestated. Not once had I thought that we might not be able to have another child. I'm only 28 years old. This man had just taken my dreams for a bigger family and a sibling for Grace and dismissed them with a smile. I didn't know what to think or say and I couldn't repeat what he had said to anyone with bursting into tears.

I spent Wednesday numb. Trying to process everything and work through it all in my head. When I finally got a hold of myself enough to start thinking about everything, I realized how misguided most everything he had said was. I am not a "normal" cardiomyapathy patient. My tests prove that I am perfectly healthy and my risks will be totally different than that of someone who had a full blown heart attack leaving tears and damage. All of the statistics he was quoting don't apply to me. Also, I have done a lot of research about Broken Heart syndrome and no where have I read the reoccurance rate being 15-25%. Most articles, including the most recent studies from Johns Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic quote it as being somewhere between 5-10%. In my head, that's a big difference.

So, where does that leave me? We decided we need to get a second opinion. We are going to go to meet with another high risk OB at a bigger hospital who hopefully will have more knowledge about Broken Heart. I will not knowingly go into a pregnancy that puts myself or the baby at high risk. However, a close family friend of ours who happens to be a doctor, put it well tonight when he said "every pregnancy entails risk, but you are healthy, your heart is fine. No OB is going to advise you to get pregnant because you are an unknown." I hate going into things blindly. Not knowing what I'm getting myself into. So we'll see what the second opinion turns out to be. And then we'll go from there.

It has been an emotional, crazy week and I think we're finally getting things back to normal. It will be a while before we go to the next high risk OB visit and I'm ok with that. For right now, I'll enjoy my time with Grace! So my blogging schedule should return to normal this week!

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Friday, January 20, 2012

1 Year Old


I've tried writing this several times and had to stop. I just can't seem to find the words to summarize how amazing this past year has been. I sit here watching you play, remembering how tiny you were the first time I held you. You were so helpless and small and now you're walking towards me thrusting your snack container at me because you want more cheerios. How is it possible that you've changed so much in just one short year?

Your daddy likes to make fun of me because I have cried so much about your turning one, but I really can't believe it. You are now officially a toddler. You are your own little person now with a unique personality and try as I might, I very rarely can get you to do what I want. For example, I was trying to get you to sit still to to take pictures and instead this happened:

Yes, she's giving me this face on purpose
 Or this happens:

Playing with the curtains is fun mom! She decided it was time to play peek a boo
It is nearly impossible to get you to sit still now. We had a professional photographer come today and you wore us all out!
  • We  won't go in for your pediatricians visit until early February, so I don't know your exact stats but I think you're still around 20 lbs and you're very tall! Your 18 month clothes are baggy on you but the 12 month pants are way too short.
  • Your hair is growing out and I was finally able to put in your first pigtails. They lasted for about an hour. You don't like bows in your hair or anything on your head and you quickly pull off anything I try to put on you.
  • You are still as talkative as ever, but your favorite word is still dada. You actually started saying mama this month but I don't think you're associating it with me yet. 
  • You took your first steps this month! You're getting braver and braver about walking and two nights ago you walked half way across the dining room. You're actually starting to prefer walking over crawling for short distances!
  • Your molars on the left side are slowly making their appearance. As of today, you have 11 teeth, but I think #12 will be making it's way through any day now.
  • You eat anything and everything. I feel like I feed you all day long!
  • You still love your ladybug and sleep with it every night. 
  • You love to give kisses, click your tongue and blow raspberries. Daddy has taught you to blow raspberries on people's skin, which you think is the funniest thing in the world. If we ask you if something is a hat, you put it on your head. Doesn't matter what you're holding, it goes on your head.
Yep, it's a hat
  •  You're sleeping through the night regularly and are taking to whole milk with no problems. 
  • You love to "sing" whenever you hear music and when we ask you to dance you bop up and down! 
  • We still don't know exactly what color your eyes are. I thought they were blue but they are now looking more steel grey and they look different every day.
  • You love books and your new favorite toys are puzzles! You love to push the pieces around on the floor and are even trying to fit the pieces back into the puzzle. 
  •  You are so strong willed and we have progressed to the age of tantrums. You are testing us a lot and you cry when you don't get what you want. 
I took away the Christmas ornament she was trying to eat
    Even with the tantrums and the never ending energy, you are the sweetest girl ever. You love to snuggle with daddy and I. You love your puppies and your grandparents. You love to laugh and make people smile. I could go on and on about all of the amazing, adorable things you do. I am so glad I am your mommy. We are so lucky to have you and I thank God for you every day. I can't wait to see what the next year brings! Don't forget that no matter how big you get, you will always be my baby and we will always love you.


    Mommy and Daddy

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    Tuesday, January 17, 2012

    Grace's 1st Birthday Very Hungry Caterpillar party

    This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase from any of the links I make a small amount.

    We had Grace's 1st Birthday party at our house on Saturday and it went so well! Tons of family and friends showed up to help us celebrate the occasion and Grace had a great time. I decided to use The Very Hungry Caterpillar as the theme because it is one of her favorite books and I love its bright color palette!

    The invitation:

    Very Hungry Caterpillar party

    The cake:

    I made it myself and it turned out much cuter than I even hoped! The top tier was chocolate and the bottom was white. It is covered with white fondant and the border is done with gumballs. The caterpillar and butterfly are both made with fondant.

    The decorations:
    Very Hungry Caterpillar party
    Monthly Photos Caterpillar

    Very Hungry Caterpillar party
    Banner and Balloon Caterpillar- I made the banner using my Cricut machine
    Very Hungry Caterpillar party
    Food table, we kept it simple!
    Very Hungry Caterpillar party

    Very Hungry Caterpillar party
    I loved these food signs

    We hadn't let Grace have any sweets during her first year, so we weren't sure how she would react to her cake. Let's just say, she loved it.

    What is this Mom?

    I'll try a bite

    Face first!

    It's my cake, don't take it away!

    And this was the final product. She was covered in icing.
    I had two outfits for her luckily, one pre-cake and one after cake. I love both and I really wish we had better pictures of her in them.
    Very Hungry Caterpillar party
    Very Hungry Caterpillar party

     Grace's Aunt Ashley made her several beautiful bows and I absolutely fell in love with this caterpillar one:

    Very Hungry Caterpillar party
    It was a great party and I'm so happy with the way it turned out!

    Wrapping Paper and hats: Target
    Invitation and Food Signs: Polkadots and Puppies
    Very Hungry Caterpillar Dress: Bugs and Beez Boutique
    Butterfly Onesie: Leo & Lyla
    Photography: My mom and my friend Julie took great photos for me!
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