My command center

command center

Here is my command center in my kitchen.  I had a serious problem with the massive amounts of paperwork my children were bringing home, plus bills, catalogs, other to-do’s etc.  I finished this about a year ago, and it has helped tremendously (as long as I don’t start letting things pile up.)  🙂

It includes:

Buffet/Cabinet – My grandma bought this for me at a yard sale.  It is my favorite piece of furniture in my home.  It’s cute and a bit whimsical, but also very functional and roomy.  I use the two bottom drawers for my kids’ special artwork.  I keep  a glass container for pens, pencils, scissors, and tape and another container for change and small lost items (stray game pieces, buttons, etc.) on top.

Magnet board – This was another yard sale find, but the frame before had a “farmish” motif. (roosters, apples, etc.)   Not my style.  I purchased a sample size paint container and a foam brush.  It only took a few minutes to paint over.  I let it dry overnight, and my dear hubby hung it up.  The left side has a magnetic calendar, and the right side has a magnetic clips for receipts and coupons and also serves as a revolving board for invitations, school events, photos, etc.

Dry erase sticker – I’m not very handy and love it when I can hang things up without using tools.  This is just a dry erase decal from the Martha Stewart line at Staples.  Peel and Stick!  We write down house projects, car repairs, and other reminders here.

Hanging File Folder – Also from the Martha Stewart line at Staples.  I spent a lot of time evaluating various hanging trays, but they are all so ugly and too “officey.”  This one is very simple and modern.  It’s almost a cardboard type material and sticks to the wall with heavy duty push pins.  I use it as my “pending” folder.  I keep things I need to reference or that I will need soon here.

Key ring/Cell phone tower – Wall hanging key ring and cell phone charger with room for my hubby’s wallet.  I keep checks, stamps, and address labels here for quick bill paying.

Basket – I am always losing track of library books, movie rentals, and things that need returning.  It all goes in this basket now so I can see and quickly grab what needs to be returned.

Here is what I try to do daily.  I stop at the garbage can/recycling in on my way with the mail.  I probably get rid of 75% of what’s in hands.  If there’s a bill to pay, I grab a check, stamp, and address label, write it out, and have one of the kids take it to the mailbox.  (I receive all my household bills through email and pay them online, so the only bills I usually get are medical bills.) Invitations and thank-you notes go on the magnet board.  Any other to-do’s or pending items go in the hanging file folder. I don’t use many coupons, but I put them in my binder or on the magnet board.  When the kids come home from school, most papers go into the recycling bin.  I sign off anything they need and have them put it right back in their homework folders.  Anything I want to keep goes in the bottom drawers of buffet.

It’s not a perfect system.  I do let things stack up sometimes, but it only takes a few minutes to get back on track.  It has been very useful overall.  I’m not sure how I was functioning without it…..Oh wait, I wasn’t.

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A better NICU experience

A better NICU experience

As someone who had a NICU baby and was repeatedly “removed from the nursery” with rudeness, sarcasm, and belittlement, this gives me hope that others in our situation can receive better care.  Yes, my baby needed medical care, and I am very grateful for it.  But she also needed us; our voices, our touch, our strength.  Love heals too.

We forgot.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why we as mothers don’t advocate for our births.   Here are my thoughts:

Women are the peacekeepers. The ones who remind everyone to call grandma on her birthday. The ones who try to resolve conflict between our children and siblings; the ones who send thank-you’s to great aunts to avoid hurt feelings.  We plan parties, meals, and holidays.  We hold the world together by holding our families together.

Guess what we also are, though? Warriors. We work hard, whether employed or not.  We spend endless days and nights caring for those who can’t care for themselves. We fight fiercely when our families are threatened. We stand up to bullying of our children. We would take a bullet in a heartbeat for someone we love.

Somewhere along the way, we got mixed up about birth.   We thought we were supposed to be the peacekeepers. We thought it was okay to have providers shove things inside us without asking. We decided we need not be “heroes” during birth, but that we should be strapped to machines and submissive to all demands. We let the fear control our ideas and opinions about how and where our babies enter this world.

We were supposed to be warriors.   We should be the first ones to respect our bodies as beautifully created to carry, birth, and feed our young. We need to know it, believe it, respect it and demand respect for it. We forgot that perhaps part of holding the world together starts with holding our births together.

A birth story – My good friend, Briana’s third baby girl.

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We got pregnant with baby number 3 in November 2011. I remember taking the pregnancy test and then reading a magazine on my bed while I waited for the results. Mike came upstairs and asked me what the results were and I honestly hadn’t even been thinking about it. He went into the bathroom and I heard “Oh man”. I thought he was just being a smart-ass so I went in there ready to smack him when I saw the “pregnant” on the test. Wow. We were about to become parents of 3.

Pregnancy was pretty easy. Not really any morning sickness. Slow weight gain. Lots of baby movement. Lots of heartburn. I ate tums every day and guzzled milk out of the jug. I knew I wanted to have a different birthing experience than the last one and since Mercy’s was so quick, I decided I wanted to try a natural birth. My friend Nicole had 2 of her kids naturally and after talking to her and doing some research online, I found a HypnoBirthing instructor and signed Mike and myself up for classes.
It was a 5 week course, one night a week for 3 hours. We got a book, a CD with the “Rainbow Relaxation” and a binder that had some scripts to help us get into a relaxed state. Taking the classes encouraged me to stick with it and I listened to the Rainbow Relaxation every night to fall asleep. I don’t know what the script said after 5 minutes because I was always asleep. I was told this was ok, that I was still getting the benefits of the script even if I was asleep. I found music at the library and burned it onto my computer and Mike’s old iPod. I was “ready” to have a baby naturally.
My original due date was August 3, 2012. We had 2 possible dates of conception, and I guess the 4 days in between but I was positive that my charting was accurate and we were going to have a baby on the 3rd. When we went in for the first appointment, Dr. Kirkman said baby was measuring about a week bigger to they changed my due date to July 30th. In my heart, I knew the baby was coming in August.
When we went for the 20 week ultrasound the tech asked us what our guesses were. Mike said “It’s a girl” and he was right. We were going to have THREE GIRLS! Mike claims I owe him a new gun. Originally we had planned on naming our baby Justice so we’d have Grace, Mercy and Justice. A few weeks after we found out it was a girl, Mike said he didn’t like that name. He didn’t want to be trapped in a theme with our kid’s names. So we spend the day thinking of new names. He like Imogen. I liked Adelaide. Grace like Rockface and Post Office. That night at Palm Sunday Mass, during the reading, the mentioned the town of Bethany. I pointed it out to Mike and he looked at me and nodded. We had picked our baby’s name.
The rest of the pregnancy went fine. I was working as a manager at Beehive Grill and got busted a few times hauling kegs around. I didn’t slow down, just like I didn’t with the other pregnancies. I had Braxton Hicks contractions basically the whole time, but nothing that worried me. My last day of work was July 21st. My boss was afraid I’d go early, so I used up my vacation time so I could rest and nest the week before I was due. This time around I didn’t try to induce myself at all. I did mow the lawn a few times, but that didn’t do anything.
I was positive my water was going to break at home. I kept waiting and waiting. On the 30th I stuck around the house with the girls waiting for signs of labor, but I barely had any contractions. I had my next appointment on the 31st with Dr. Blackett. Dr. Kirkman was out of town (AGAIN!) and if the baby came that week then I was told either Norda or Blackett would deliver. She looked over our birth plan and approved it (it was already signed by Dr. Kirkman so I’m glad we had a second approval). At that appointment I was dilated to 3 cm and 90% effaced. She asked if I wanted my membranes stripped but I declined and decided to wait it out. My next appointment was on Monday with Kirkman if baby hadn’t come sooner.
At home I lounged around. Had a few mild contractions but nothing too worrysome. Around 5:30 I started having some painful contractions. I didn’t remember contractions hurting like that. I laid on the couch and would breathe through them (about 20-30 min apart). Mike asked if he should take the girls to Jamie’s but I was certain the baby wasn’t coming until Friday so I said no. Then he went to the store for dinner for the kids. Around 7:00 I asked him to start writing down the times of my contractions so we could have a better judgement. They were about 15-20 min apart. I had some bloody show which I figured was from being checked earlier that day. I went upstairs to listen to my relaxation stuff and relax in a warm bath. It helped a little. Contractions were staying about 10-20 min apart.
At 10:00 I told Mike I thought he should take the girls to Jamie’s. That way we weren’t taking them in the middle of the night if something happened and if nothing happened then they would have fun with a sleepover. I got back in the bath while he took them. When he got back, I wandered around the living room, rocking out the contractions while leaning over the couch. My water hadn’t broken yet so I didn’t think I was in actual labor. Mike asked if I wanted to go upstairs and do some scripts and relax. We went through a few and it was around 11:30. My contractions has slowed to every 20 min so I suggested we just get some sleep and see what happens. He downloaded an app on his phone and would press the start button every time I told him. I fell asleep between each contraction but they were staying pretty steady at 15-20 minutes.
At 1:00 I got up to pee and had a contraction. Then 5 minutes later another one. I went downstairs to rock it out on the couch again and had another one. The 5 minutes in between lasted for about 30 minutes before I yelled up to Mike that it was time to go. We grabbed the stuff and headed into hospital. I only had 1 or 2 contractions in the car and I didn’t even swear 🙂
Got to the hospital and to our room around 1:45. I explained I didn’t want to be hooked up to monitors or an IV and they were ok with that. I got a hep-lock (IV Port with no IV) incase of an emergency and changed into my gown. They took a base monitor of my contractions and baby’s heartbeat. Laying on the bed while being monitored sucked. The contractions were extremely intense and not being able to move made it worse. When they were done, they checked me (4 cm) and let me move around. The birthing ball was great. I do remember telling myself I couldn’t do it. I was going to wuss out.
The nurse left us alone for about 45 minutes and I listened to my iPod and rocked on the ball. When she came back, I got hooked up to monitor again and I was checked again and at a 5.
When I got back on the ball, Mike read a script and did light touch massage on my back. This was the most relaxed I had been. The contractions were do-able and I felt like I had more control over this. Then I had to get back on the monitor. That interruption made it hard to get back in the zone and I elected to stay on the monitor for a bit. The next contraction she checked me again and I was at 7 cm. Contractions were steady between 10-15 minutes apart. It was a little before 4:00 am. I broke down and started crying. I didn’t know how I was going to make it and I told Mike I needed drugs. I know he was disappointed in me but the pain was the most intense thing I had ever been through. Those who say kidney stones are worse than birth (and I used to say that) are wrong. I’d rather have 15 kidney stones than a contraction.
The nurse came back and I told her I wanted an epidural. She called the doctor. While I waited, she gave me fentinal for some immediate relief. It helped a little. The doc gave me the epidural while I was laying down on my side, in the fetal position. Both previous epidurals were done while I was sitting up and hunched over. I started feeling slight numbness on my legs. The next contraction came and the nurse broke my water (didn’t happen at home, go figure). It had meconium in it which meant no baby to chest. They’d have to suction her and check her vitals. I was sad, but wanted to make sure she was healthy. Next contraction still hurt. I hit the button for more drugs. Next contraction came and it still hurt. Doc came back in and gave me more drugs. Something wasn’t right. My legs weren’t as numb as they had been with the previous deliveries. Basically I got an epidural for nothing since it didn’t work. When she came back in to check on me, she had called the doc. It wasn’t Norda. It was Dr. Fowers. This scared me since he had delivered Grace and I felt like we got pressured into things because we didn’t know the options. I was also nervous about getting an episiotomy since he gave me one with Grace without asking me. I’d rather tear naturally than be cut. He came in with the nurse  and when I had the next contraction, it didn’t stop hurting. The baby had dropped and was crowning. I was ready to push. Well, my body was. I wasn’t numb enough and scared out of my mind.
I remember the most intense pressure and pain I had ever had in my life. They told me to grab my legs and push, but I guess I grabbed Mike and was freaking out. I screamed “Get this baby out of me!” My nurse told me to breathe and Mike told me to breathe. When I finally did, and pushed, the baby came right away. One push and she was there at 4:59 am. The relief I felt at that moment was incredible. I can only imagine how amazing it would have been to have Bethany put right to my chest but they had to suction her and clean her. Her umbilical cord was also tied in a knot. Thankfully it was a loose knot and probably happened during the drop into the birth canal or late in the 3rd trimester. The doctor was in my way of seeing the baby, and I guess I said “Give me my baby” at some point. I had so much adrenaline coursing through me, I was shaking. I had to wait about 15 minutes to hold her. It was the longest 15 minutes of my life.
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I was expecting a 10 lb baby but she surprised us and was only 5 lbs 15 oz and 19” long. Such a tiny thing! Thankfully the meconium got cleaned out and she was perfectly healthy. From the point of “intense” contractions until delivery was about 12 hours. I only spent 4 of those laboring in the hospital. Not the birth plan we had envisioned, but I couldn’t have asked for a healthier or more perfect baby. Bethany Lynn arrived August 1st, 2012 (I was right…she came in August!) She is definitely my baby.