Top 5 Breastfeeding Tips

me & Isis!
I don’t take breastfeeding pictures, so here’s a pic of me & Isis!
I’m only 7 1/2 months into breastfeeding my first child, but it’s gone pretty well, so I have a few tips to offer. I was going to share 10 tips, but after sorting through my thoughts, I found I only have 5! Also, I am not a doctor & I am not an expert. Definitely talk to your doctor or other experts about breastfeeding. I can just offer what has worked or been true for me.
1. Work for full feedings from the start
I believe there is great benefit to making sure your baby gets a full feeding each time they eat. This helps to make sure they get the nutrient-dense hindmilk that is released at the end of the feeding and it also makes sure that they are emptying your breast, thus promoting more milk production! Also – it can help them be able to go longer between feedings because they were full. Definitely a benefit later when they can go longer. In the beginning, though, you’ll be feeding every couple hours around the clock no matter what.
2. Study up!
There are lots of great online resources with info on breastfeeding! Kellymom & La Leche League are probably the best ones! Just make sure that you make some effort to get informed on latching techniques & other info. It’s also great to find places you can go when you have questions – which you absolutely will have – when you start!
3. Don’t stress if things don’t go according to plan
While I definitely recommend learning what you can (see #2), it’s also important to remember that things aren’t always going to go the way you expect. Sometimes milk doesn’t come in. Sometimes the baby has trouble latching on. Sometimes it’s more painful than you expected. Be prepared to just do the best you can. Know who you can call – La Leche League, the lactation consultants at your hospital, a friend who had success with breastfeeding, etc.
4. Don’t freak out about green poop
Basically, don’t assume that what you are eating is affecting the baby negatively. This is something I had to calm down about from the beginning. I heard stuff from several different people related to what I’m eating & how it could affect Isis – don’t eat cheese, don’t eat spicy foods, don’t eat broccoli, stay away from chocolate! I felt so stressed & worried about what was in everything I was eating in the beginning. When I finally talked to my doctor about it, he said that these are all old-fashioned views that have been disproved for most women in more recent years. Apparently, it’s actually rare for the food you eat to affect the baby negatively unless you or your husband have a major food allergy. Be looking for frothy poop & blood in the poop, but as long as it’s not frothy, any color of the fall leaves is ok except red.(Again, I am NOT a doctor. If you really think your baby is having an allergic reaction to something you ate, go with your instinct & call your doctor! You won’t ever regret finding out for sure.)
5. Be aware of the normal breastfeeding problems
By “normal” problems, I mean cracked nipples, plugged ducts, mastitis, etc. Even a mom who is successfully breastfeeding can have these issues. I didn’t study enough about this. Things I learned were that breastmilk is actually a treatment for cracked nipples. Seriously, it’s crazy how that works! If you notice that your breast is hurting, it could be a plugged duct, but if your breast is tender & pink or red or purple, GO TO THE DOCTOR. This is just something I didn’t really know much about, but I got mastitis when Isis was 4 weeks old. I’m going to write a separate post about this in particular, but basically – pink or red, go to the doctor. Maybe you’ll avoid a 101+ degree fever & feeling like you have a really bad flu for 3 days.
What worked for you when breastfeeding?
What tips would you add to this list?
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Isis’ Big Debut!

This is my kick-off post for my week of birth stories written by guest bloggers! I wrote my original birth story earlier this year. I also published the following story to Unexpectant, but I wanted to post it here as well. Please come back each day this week to read more birth stories from This Mom Loves, The Planet Pink, Nine More Months, Common Sense Dancing & Sporty Mama Says!

23 - sleeping isis 2

9am New Years Day & I awake to a contraction. I had been having Braxton Hicks for weeks, but this felt different, stronger. I felt another one a few minutes later & started timing how far apart they were soon after that. They stayed consistent at every 6 minutes or so. I told Lewis that I thought it was possible I was in labor. Since we had been dealing with some contractions for a while, neither of us were too quick to believe it really was labor. It seemed like God just wanted to tease us, so we decided not to get excited until we were sure.

I spent the morning laying in bed with Lewis, watching Cops. I ate lunch around noon & started to notice that my contractions were getting stronger & were coming about 4 minutes apart. There were a few that I had to focus a little more to get through, but still nothing too bad. I could’ve done this part all day. I watched some Buffy episodes on TV, which was awesome! It was New Year’s Slay on Logo & I enjoyed it for a while, but I eventually needed a little more help getting through the contractions. I don’t remember exactly when I started communicating with my nurse-midwife through text message, but it was somewhere in this time. I told her what was going on & just kept her updated every hour or so. I wanted to stay home as long as I could because I was most comfortable in my own familiar space.

Trying to explain contraction pain is so hard. For me, it felt sort-of like a wrenching menstrual cramp. They were really low. Mine would slowly come on & then slowly go back down. I focused a lot on my breathing. In & out, in & out. I did a lot of visualizing Isis moving down & out, down & out. Every contraction was her moving one tiny step closer to me. I had to think about it like that or I’d lose focus & just think about pain. I did my best to never think of it as pain. It was life, it was movement, it was her making her way out.

I ended up taking a bath & that helped a lot with the pain. Somehow being able to float a little bit helped take the pressure off the other parts of my body like my back & just focus it in my uterus. When I wasn’t laying against something, there wasn’t extra pressure. It was all just belly.

When I got out of the tub, my contractions were about 2-3 minutes apart. Lewis had been with me from the time I got in the bath, so he was helping me get through things. We tried having me do different positions, like sitting on a birthing ball, on my hands & knees, laying on my side & standing. I eventually got to the point where I felt like I probably wanted to go to the hospital & Lewis was definitely on board because he was feeling like he couldn’t do much to help me. I was nervous to go to the hospital because I thought that the intensity of actually being there would slow down my labor, but we packed everything in the car & headed on our way. I told the nurse-midwife we were going, so she called ahead & told them I wanted a natural birth, no IV, no pain medication, labor tub, nurse who was ok with natural birth, etc. I at least felt comfortable that I was going somewhere that was prepared for me.

Luckily, we were able to get the only labor room with a tub in the hospital. It was at least twice the size of mine at home & was so awesome because I could submerge my entire body in there & still not lay on the bottom. I could just float. This helped my contractions immensely! Looking back on it, I’m not sure I could’ve done a natural labor for as long as I did without the tub.

I was monitored intermittently for 20 minutes of every hour. They also used a small heart monitor wrapped in a plastic bag to listen to her heartbeat while I was in the water. My best friend, Diana, was there with us. For the next several hours, it was me, Lewis, Diana & the labor nurse. I had told the nurse-midwife that she was ok to stay home until I was ready for her. She wasn’t even on call, but was graciously coming in anyway to deliver my baby. She was ready to come in when I wanted, but I knew I wasn’t dilating really quickly & I felt comfortable with our process of going back & forth from the tub to a birthing ball to be monitored.

I was almost completely effaced when I got to the hospital, but I was only 4 cm dilated. As I continued on with labor, I dilated about 1 cm every hour & a half to 2 hours. After a few hours, the nurse noticed that things were slowing down a little & she told me it’d probably be good to go walk around the halls to speed things along. So I put on the little mesh underwear they give you with a big pad – I had no idea you start to bleed a little when delivery gets close – & we went for a walk in the halls. Every 30-45 seconds, I’d have to stop & hold on to Lewis while I had a contraction. I was the only one in the hall, although I knew there were other women in the room in labor, but my nurse told me they were all hooked up to IV’s & epidurals. Even though I was definitely in pain, I was happy that I was able to walk around to speed things up. I liked being able to do what I wanted as long as Isis & I were both doing good.

Shortly after the walk, they checked me again & I was 7 1/2 cm. The contractions started to get stronger & closer together & the nurse offered to call my nurse-midwife to come in to break my water & speed things along. We said we were ready. Up until this point, I had been confident & felt good about everything that was going on. It wasn’t easy & the contractions were a lot harder than I probably make it sound when I’m talking about it, but I was still happy & confident with the way things were going.

Once my water was broken, a lot of that changed. Everything got a lot more intense. The nurse-midwife described it as having no more cushion, so the contractions felt a lot harder. This is definitely true. They started coming faster & felt a lot stronger. It was a lot of things at once. I was clearly in transition, I had no more cushion from the water & I got to the point where I had to stop talking at all, even between contractions. I went inward, focusing on her moving down & out, down & out. I’ve heard that the majority of labor happens in your brain & I found that to be so true for me. When things got hard like this, I focused all my energy on “breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out.” It was a conscious effort to not think about pain & put it on something else. It took every ounce of my energy to just keep my mind where I wanted it & not lose control.

The nurse-midwife told me to make noise. She said that a lot of times it helps to let out a groan or a growl or a yell or whatever while in the contraction. I didn’t want to do that because I just didn’t see the point & I thought it seemed embarrassing, but as soon as I finally started doing it, things started moving along. I started feeling a desire to push at the end of every contraction. Not a lot, but a little. Everything in my body wanted that baby out. I was breathing out & groaning out & pushing out. I was ready for her to be out.

I pushed on the birthing ball & I pushed while sitting on the toilet. When I was sitting on the toilet, I looked down & noticed that there was brighter red blood coming out & I got scared. I didn’t realize that this was normal. That’s one moment where I almost lost it. I looked at Lewis & then I saw myself in the mirror & I thought in my head, “I’ve made a huge mistake…” but I wouldn’t say anything out loud. I knew if I said it out loud, I would lose control, lose focus. I closed my eyes & focused on Isis – moving down & out, down & out.

Finally I got back on the bed & the nurse-midwife checked me one last time & ended up having to push the lip of my cervix back so that Isis’ head could get through. That one single thing was more painful in that moment than anything before or after. Even pushing Isis out wasn’t as painful as when she did that. I’m not sure what makes that so much more painful. Maybe it’s the fact that the baby is already making its way down or that you could be in the middle of a contraction when she does it, but either way, Lewis had to literally hold me on the bed because I was in so much pain. Still, I never said a word. I groaned, I cried, but I was thinking in my head, “down & out, down & out, breathe, breathe, breathe.”

Then came pushing & I remember very little of what was going on around me. I know Lewis & Diana were having to help me curl my body up to push her out because I was completely exhausted. I know that 2 other nurses came in right before she came out to do all the prep stuff to her right after she is here. I know that Diana stood at my head. I know that I couldn’t tell the difference between her still being in the birth canal & her crowning.

But I remember exactly what it was like when she came out. 6:06am January 2 – It was an instant, a second & she was there. Within the same second she was placed on my bare chest & we looked at each other. I was completely overwhelmed with what I had just done, with the fact that she was here, with what was coming up, with what I had to do now. I was exhausted & I was scared, but I was home. This girl was going to change everything. She was brand new & I had sacrificed to get her here. Real love always requires sacrifice. For me, that sacrifice began with 9 months of pregnancy & a 21 hour, medication-free, painful labor. She was born through sweat, tears, blood, but also hope, excitement, joy. She gave so much more in that moment than had been taken from me through labor.

My body knew what it was doing. It was bringing her to me. Breathing in, breathing out, pushing down, pushing out, moving second by second, to my arms. Looking back, I wouldn’t do it any other way. Although it is the hardest single thing I’ve ever done in my life, it was also the most rewarding by far.

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How to Easily use Cloth Diapers

diaper

I have heard several of the issues with cloth diapers & I think people have valid concerns. It is definitely either something you’re interested in or something you know just isn’t for you. For those of you who think you may be interested, but are trying to figure out exactly how it works, I’ve decided to share our set-up! I’ve found them to be easier than I expected & even more user-friendly than I had originally thought! I thought about splitting this post into separate posts so it’d be shorter, but I’ve just left it all as one thing.

baby

First of all, we use GroBaby, although they are now re-launched as GroVia. I will refer to them from now on as GroVia since that is their new official name. We just don’t have any of the new kind yet, but after this video I shared the other day, we are absolutely going to buy a couple! One of the things I really liked about GroVia is that they can be used when the babies are really small. We started Isis on cloth once her umbilical cord stump fell off, so at about 2 weeks. She was about 7 lbs at this point.

baby
(Didn’t like these fitted ones – the WHOLE thing got wet – including the part that goes around her thighs & everything)

I tried several different kinds of cloth diapers (fitted w/ covers, pocket diapers, folded with covers, etc) and I found that I’m not a cloth diaper girl in general, I’m a one-size kind of girl – specifically GroVia. So my first piece of advice is study, study, study & figure out which kind is going to work for you. I’ll also say, you probably won’t know for sure until you put one on your baby & see what it does. I thought the fitted ones with covers were so cute until I used them. You also may find you like one kind for daytime & a different kind for night. I’ve liked GroVia for both, so you just have to find what works for you.

diaper pail open

We use a 30 gallon white trash can from Wal-Mart with PlanetWise diaper pail liner. The thing I like about the PlanetWise diaper pail liner is that it has elastic around the top, so it holds great in the can. I have another brand that has a drawstring at the top & I hated it. It also has a much more flimsy feel than the PlanetWise. When I looked around in reviews, PlanetWise was raved about & I have found myself to have similar reviews.

small planetwise

If we are out all day, we use the larger (can’t remember if it’s medium or large) PlanetWise wet bag, which holds anywhere from 5+ diapers – depending on if you do shells & soakers or just soakers.

cloth wipes

We use regular Huggies wipes usually, but I have found that a plain, dry cloth wipe does much better with the poop. I’ll get everything cleared off & then I’ll use one regular Huggies wipe to actually clean everything before putting on a new diaper. Some use cloth wipes with a wipes warmer & some solution, but I found buying the wipes was just easier. The cloth wipes we have were actually made by my mom. She bought a couple of flannel receiving blankets & cut them into squares & just sewed around the sides.

diaper sprayer

I cannot say enough about my diaper sprayer. The idea of dunking the poop diapers really grossed me out. (See, I can do cloth, but only a specific way – that’s why this is the easy version of cloth diapers!) We got a BumGenius diaper sprayer which attaches to the water line going into your toilet. You just spray off the poo into the toilet & throw the diaper into the diaper pail. No mess, no touching poop. It does take a couple of times to get used to spraying it the right way so that it doesn’t shoot poop all over the place, but once you get it, you’re golden.
cloth diaper
I read a million different ways to wash cloth, but I ended up just washing on Hot with an extra rinse. I use 1 scoop of Tiny Bubbles detergent. Make sure that no matter how many you are washing, you set the water level to the highest setting. This will help prevent detergent buildup. I didn’t do this at first & Isis got a lot of diaper rash. As soon as I started washing with the highest setting of water (& after I stripped the detergent buildup off the diapers) she hasn’t gotten diaper rash at all. I wash every 2-3 days. It was more like every other day when she was smaller & pooping around the clock, but as the poo has slowed down, so has the washing. But I never go longer than every 3rd day.
IMG_1989
I dry the soakers in the dryer on medium heat. It takes about 1.5 cycles because they absorb so much moisture. I hang the shells to dry. They normally end up just being draped over the chairs in the kitchen overnight, but we also try to go to Lew’s parent’s house occasionally & hang everything in the sun. This bleached all the stains out in 1 day!!! So if you have your own house, I highly recommend just drying everything on a clothes line if you can. It bleaches stains & dries them naturally! The shells only take about 2 hours to try if they’re hanging.
cloth diaper 1
Our babysitter is wonderful & hasn’t had any complaints about our cloth diapers. I don’t expect anyone but me & Lewis to wash our diapers or use our diaper sprayer. If the sitter is at our house, I tell her to just put the dirty diaper on a rug in the bathroom & when I get home, I spray it off if it’s poo & throw it in the diaper pail. If she’s out, I give her the large PlanetWise bag & tell her to just throw everything in there & I take care of it all when I get home. As far as she is concerned, she doesn’t do much more than she would with a disposable. Rather than throwing the diaper in the trash, she throws it either in the wet bag or in the floor of the bathroom.
Anything you’d add to this list?
What works for you with cloth diapers?
Any other cloth diaper questions I can answer?
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Dear Baby: Analyzed! … 31DBBB Day 4

dear baby logo

Today’s task for the Problogger 31DBBB challenge is to analyze a top blog in your niche. I am pretty much in love with the Dear Baby blog. She writes about her new baby, Everly & all of their experiences as first time parents! She started this blog as a separate place from her personal blog where she could chronicle her pregnancy. She loves all things vintage, her hubby Brent & she is clearly enamored with being a new mom. I think it would be impossible to not get excited about having kids after reading her blog! It just puts a smile on your face.
She doesn’t talk about anything controversial really – nothing political related to babies. She shares her experience & her perspective, but she is clear to be respectful & kind when it comes to the fact that others could have different perspectives on babies & parenting. I believe her most powerful asset is her writing style. It’s so natural & poetic & it just flows perfectly. Even longer posts are incredibly easy to read. You can tell she is in love with life & I find that inspiring. I can tell that people love reading about her vintage finds & I’m sure everyone loves her Letters to Everly.
Her design is really simple. She has everything down to the bare essentials & it works perfectly. She only offers Twitter & RSS as subscription options, although she is a Tumblr blog, so you can easily follow if you use Tumblr. I don’t see any advertisements on her blog, so I’m not sure if she even does any monetization. She does reviews & giveaways & is getting things for free to review. According to Alexa, her blog is rising in users & pageviews. She usually posts at least once per day.
Things I think I can learn from Dear Baby:
Post great pictures: Her pictures are so beautiful & edited really well, but they have a unique feel to them.
Use my unique voice: It is never a good idea to copy anyone’s voice from their blog, but I think one of the things that draws people to Dear Baby is that they can tell who she is from her writing. You can identify with her & you can tell that she is being authentic.
Be genuine: Another thing I think people really love about her blog is that you don’t feel like she’s faking anything. You feel like she is who she is & she’s just sharing it with the world.
Find joy in life: There is nothing more attractive in a blogger or a person in general than someone who finds the beauty & joy in their life. Each life is unique, so we can all find the things that make our lives wonderful.
Be simple: I don’t have to use a lot of words or a lot of pictures or a lot of stuff to share something great with my readers. Sometimes less is more.
I’m really looking forward to seeing who you all chose to analyze! 
I love finding new great blogs to read!!
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Top 10 Pregnancy Tips…31DBBB

pregnancy

1. Drink tons of water.
This helps with so many things when you’re pregnant. It’s great for the baby, it helps alleviate a lot of the side effects of pregnancy. It keeps you from being dehydrated (which, during pregnancy, leads to headaches, nausea, cramps & dizziness). It can relieve some morning sickness, heartburn & indigestion. It helps prevent UTIs, which are common during pregnancy. It also helps ease constipation, hemorrhoids & swelling.
2. Have your man (or someone) rub your legs every night.
I swear by this one. Leg cramps are so common during pregnancy, possibly because of lactic acid buildup among other things. If you get your legs rubbed each night, it releases the lactic acid buildup & can help keep you from having leg cramps. Plus it feels great & helps to relax you! I only got 2 leg cramps through my entire pregnancy & they both happened in the middle of the night on nights when my husband didn’t rub my legs.
3. Don’t eat just to eat.
So many women say, “Oh I’m just gonna eat when I’m pregnant! It’s the only time I can eat whatever I want & not worry about it!” And that’s definitely true if you don’t care if you gain 60 pounds. While eating a lot is not the only reason women gain a lot of weight during pregnancy – every woman’s body is going to do something different – eating healthy & balanced meals will definitely give you a better chance of keeping things under control. It also provides the best nutrients for your baby. And you are eating for 2, but the second person in there doesn’t weigh very much & only needs an extra 300 calories once you are 4 months pregnant. That’s like a bag of chips (although chips wouldn’t be very healthy).
4. Stay active.
This may look different for each woman. The more active you were before pregnancy, the more active you can be during pregnancy. If you weren’t used to running a mile a day before, no need to start now. Just stay as active as you can & obviously talk to your doctor. They’ll tell you what’s best for your body & baby.
5. Buy cute maternity clothes.
With stores like Forever 21 offering maternity clothes now, it’s easy to buy them cheap & cute. Don’t care about cheap, check out A Pea in the Pod! In my opinion, you’re going to feel huge at some point during this thing – better to have some cute clothes to make you feel a little better!
6. Know who you can talk to.
Who is going to give you great advice or listen to you whine about feeling awful or huge or answer your ridiculous questions about whether or not your baby will come out with 2 heads? Just know who you can trust & who will make you feel calm & confident & not make you more stressed. Also, make sure you choose a doctor who makes you comfortable. Choosing someone who isn’t going to make you feel comfortable during the labor & delivery experience will automatically put you at a disadvantage.
7. Wash your hands.
Keep away the germs – try not to get sick! I was 6 months pregnant & doing a practicum during flu season in a Kindergarten classroom. I washed my hands all the time & I didn’t get sick! There’s not much you can take if you do get sick, so I recommend avoiding it. I got bad allergies & it was annoyingly awful because I couldn’t take much at all.
8. Study up on labor techniques.
No matter how you plan on doing things during labor & delivery, you never know what will happen. Even if you want an epidural ASAP, your version of ASAP & the anesthesiologist’s version of ASAP may be 2 different things. I also have 2 friends for whom the epidural only worked on one side of their body & 1 friend who had to wait for the anesthesiologist to get done with 2 other women before coming to them. So no matter what, it’s good to have some labor techniques in mind just in case & to get you through until you get the medication! Or in my case, to get you through the whole labor & delivery.
9. Take naps if you can.
This isn’t possible for everyone because of work or already having kids around the house or any multitude of other reasons, but if possible for yourself, take naps. They rejuvenate you & give you much needed rest! If there’s any time in your life when your body is working overtime & you’re going to need some sleep, it’s during pregnancy!
10. Eat breakfast.
I found that the days I didn’t eat breakfast, I got really light-headed really early. This was true at any time of day. I had to go from 3 regular meals a day to about 5 small meals. If I got too hungry, I got really dizzy & light-headed. Your body is working so hard, it needs that energy! So if you aren’t a breakfast eater – which I wasn’t before pregnancy – become one now.
What are your pregnancy tips?
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Introducing…the BFF

Continuing with the Blog Bash over at Not Your Average Teen, Brittany has asked us to write a post with the theme of “rekindle” to bring back some memories of our high school years. I thought for a while about what I would want to share. I have some really wonderful & some really horrible memories from high school. Don’t we all? But I decided that the most important thing I could share about high school (aside from meeting my husband senior year) is to share with you about my best friend Diana.
(By the way – these pictures are not placed to match the specific events I’m talking about necessarily. I just picked out best pics! They are in chronological order, though.) 

junior year
Me on the far left & Diana on the far right – Junior Year of HS

It was Freshman year of high school & she had been a homeschooler up until this grade. She was new to this type of school environment to begin with. We went to a private Christian school that I had attended already for 3 years before this. Diana was growing out her bangs & decided to wear a headband every day. She was super cute, but for some reason this larger man-shaped girl decided she was going to break Diana’s headband & proceeded to tell everyone in our English class that she was going to do it. Diana hadn’t gotten to class yet, but I overheard all this gloating. So when Diana entered the room & sat down, I picked up my stuff & sat beside her & decided right there that we were going to be friends. Nobody was going to be breaking her headband on my watch!

senior year
Me in the middle & Diana on the right – Senior year of HS

Well, continue through the next couple of years & Diana was there through good & bad. I remember spending the night at her house countless times, chatting about boys & life & the future as we fell asleep. I remember shopping & laughing & talking & eating. We loved McDonald’s fries. I went to cheer/dance competitions with Diana & her family. I rode my bike to her house when things at my house got crazy.

florida
Me & Diana in Florida after graduation

Everything got really fun when she got her Purple Toyota Tacoma for her 16th birthday! It was ON then! We had a “Junior Year Mix” that included fabulous rap songs like “What’s Your Fantasy” by Ludacris. Oh we were cool. We dyed my hair on a regular basis – I was very adventurous with hair color. We were pretty adventurous in general – for a couple of private school girls. I remember getting in her truck after school, taking off our solid color school uniform polos to reveal our super cute tees underneath & then rolling down the windows & jamming our mix.

nashville

We got closer as time went on. We were there for each other through a varying degree of rough situations. I fed her chocolate pudding when she had her wisdom teeth removed & she held my hand when my world fell apart. I’ve held her hand several times when her world did the same. I’ve always known I could count on her & I’ve always tried to be a friend she can depend on.

After high school, we took a trip to Florida to stay in my grandfather’s condo & we bid farewell to our high school years. That December, we moved in together in my grandmother’s old house. We were perfect roommates. We went different directions in a lot of ways in college, but the bond between us never faltered. We lived together, but we didn’t hang out in the same circles, but whenever we were together, things picked up right where they left off.

shower

The year we turned 20, we both got married & she had her first baby girl. She was 8 months pregnant in my wedding, but she still served as my matron of honor. We started weekly dinners at this point to make sure that we could maintain our friendship through the craziness of marriage, kids, jobs, etc. After she had her second baby girl when we were 22, our weekly dinners turned to Saturday lunches & shopping trips. Those continue even now.

As time has gone on, our relationship has grown & changed & I feel closer to her now than I’ve ever felt to a friend in my life. To have someone you can count on – who sees your darkest secrets & is willing to stand next to you anyway – is a gift I don’t even know I’ll ever fully comprehend. No one besides Lewis has ever shown the degree of loyalty & companionship that she has shown me. I see her as family. Her girls are practically cousins to Isis & Diana is the same as an aunt. She was there when I delivered Isis & she will be there when I delivery any future children.

eclipse

She is an important part of my life & that relationship started in high school. I know so many people lose touch with their high school friends or their high school boyfriends, and although I have definitely moved past the high school stage, my best friend has grown up with me & my boyfriend became my husband. I am now going on 6 years of marriage with Lewis & more than 12 years of friendship with Diana.

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Welcome to the Blog Bash!!

I follow Brittany at Not Your Average Teen & the title says it all – if I were doing what she is at 18, I would be good to go! She is so organized in terms of blogging & so dedicated to her readers & her community & I am just amazed at what she can do at 18! If you haven’t checked out her blog, please do!
She is hosting a Blog Bash!! If you’re interested in joining, go to her site! You can link up an intro post just like this one & then check out some other great blogs!!
cam baby
So here’s a little about me: I’m a 25 year old wife & first-time mother of Isis Ruby! She is 6 months old & an absolute delight! I grew up in an average sized city & attended public elementary school & private middle & high school. I graduated high school in 2002.
cam high school
I was not an average teen in some ways, I guess, considering I got my first tattoo at 17 & attended my Senior Prom with pink hair. Pretty fabulous…or not.
wedding
I met my husband in the second half of my senior year of high school & the second half of his senior year of college & although we had a rocky start – I seriously knew from our first conversation that I would marry him & at 17, I was NOT ready – we started dating 6 months later & were married 2 years after that in October 2004.
last supper
He was in a Christian metal-core band called The 95 Theses (long story behind it, maybe I’ll share it one day). His band grew fairly large for a local band & they ended up going on tour in the summer of 2006. We both quit our jobs & spent several months traveling around the country.
tour
I basically lived in a van with 5 boys. It was actually pretty awesome! I am still incredibly happy that we did this & I wish it could’ve lasted longer, but with money & the desire for some sort of family & a future, we came back home & both went back to school. My husband already had a BS in Chemistry & now also has his MBA. I will graduate in December with a BA in Elementary Education.
pregnant
We started trying for a baby in August 2008. After 8 months of trying, we finally found out we were pregnant in April 2009. Isis was born January 2, 2010 through a completely natural birth. I didn’t even have an IV, which I mention only because that’s what everyone seems to think is so crazy. Believe me, that was not the craziest part of that experience for me!
isis is here
Either way, she was a beautiful, healthy girl & I’m enjoying staying at home for right now, but also looking forward to teaching in the future. I start my student teaching in August 2010.
mom & isis
I’m a breastfeeding, cloth diapering, make my own baby food kind of mom, but I also have had great success with scheduling, particularly Babywise. While some moms have issues or questions about the benefits of scheduling, I am for allowing moms to do what works for their family & considering my daughter is 6 months & weighs about 19 lbs, sleeps 12 hours at night & about 4 hours each day in naps, I would say that what we are doing is working. But I love learning from other moms & hearing about their experiences. I have friends who have completely different viewpoints than mine who also have healthy, well-fed & well-rested babies! Being a mom is a hard job, but it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I am so blessed by the experience!
I’m also supposed to answer these 5 questions to share a little about me as a blogger:
1. Why do you blog?
I blog to build community with other moms. We all learn through our experiences & I love hearing from other  moms. I have specific strategies that have worked for me, but every baby is different & I may find that I have to switch up some of my strategies with my next baby. I will greatly value the advice from many of the moms with similar of different views from mine as I continue on this journey of motherhood. I also blog to have an outlet & to keep track of my Isis’ (& any future children’s) life – like a digital baby book! I also would love for this to be a source of a little extra income if I was ever blessed enough for that to happen. Right now I do make a little money from my blog – enough to pay for my & my husband’s date nights!
2. What do you blog about?
I blog a lot about being a mom & things I’ve learned through this experience. I also blog about blogging & tips or tricks I’ve picked up through my experience with this as well. I also blog about tv, movies, books, other forms of media or entertainment. As being a mom is not the only aspect of me or my personality, I find myself diving into different topics that come up for me in general.
3. What do you find to be the biggest reward you get from blogging?
The community. Definitely. There are several bloggers I know by name now who comment & visit my blog as well as send me emails with advice or tips they’ve learned. I find this so rewarding because it expands my circle of experts & people to go to for advice on a number of things.
4. How long have you been blogging?
I have been blogging on my mom blog since May 2009, but I’ve been blogging in general since January 2007 & for the first time ever I’m going to share the link on here to my other blog. But please don’t judge it too harshly. I don’t keep up with it now as often as I should & I didn’t make as much of an effort to be really professional on that one. It was more of a fun, post whatever I want kind of blog. I didn’t make an effort to socialize or meet people or get comments or followers. It was really just for me. Either way – here it is: Ingenue Perspective
5. Let’s hear the story behind your blog title
Well, that comes from how I got my title for my first blog – Ingenue Perspective. I always loved the idea of the ingenue – the young, naive girl becoming a woman. I also loved the 1920’s ingenue actresses. I just always loved the word ingenue really. I had a friend who worked with me in January 2007 who was helping me come up with a cool title for my blog. I knew I wanted ingenue in there because I always identified with this description of a woman. He actually just randomly threw out “Ingenue Perspective” so that it could be all about my thoughts & the world as I saw it. I LOVED that! Then when I found out I was pregnant, I just expanded that to be Ingenue Mom because it was still me, but it was specifically my “mom” thoughts.
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A True, Authentic Mom

pregnancyI’ve been following Heather over at Theta Mom for a while now. I love her willingness to share the ups & downs of motherhood & her sincere desire to build a community of moms who are sharing & learning from each other. Her blog is turning One this week & to share in that celebration, she asked her readers to draft a post about their experience as a mom – their reasoning behind why they are what she calls a “Theta” – the true, authentic mom.
As I started diving back into my memories over the past year or so that I’ve known I was going to be & then became a mom, I found several reasons why I think I’m a true, authentic mom. For one, anyone who knows me in real life knows that I tend to make my own way. I’m not like anybody I know & it took  me years to realize that & be okay with it. I used to spend a lot of time trying to fit in with the crowd. In high school, I was lucky to finally find a group of friends who were very authentic & who accepted me for who I was & were okay with the fact that I would geek out over Buffy orNewsies or a smorgasbord of other fabulously nerdy obsessions. As the years passed, I had to be okay with the fact that I talk a lot & I get really excited about stupid things & I cry at great movies & I have a strange, sarcastic sense of humor. I’m not the girl that laughs hysterically at slapstick comedy. I’m the girl who can’t get enough of Michael Cera’s awkward nerdy humor. And that’s ok. I can’t get tan even if I try, so I’ve had to accept my practically see-through pale skin. I hate when I have blonde hair. I just don’t fit into anybody’s category of traditional or classic anything. I speak my mind when I have something to say & I sometimes say the wrong thing. I’ve stuck my foot in my mouth more times than I can count. I constantly find myself leaving some gathering of friends thinking, “should I have said that?” or “should I have talked about that?” But as I get older, I’ve just started to realize, that was me being myself & if I can’t be authentic around those people, then I don’t need to waste my time.
It’s been a liberating experience for me as I’ve grown into an adult. It’s been an even more liberating one as I’ve become a mom. Never before have I had such a strong need to buck up & be a real woman, a real wife, a real mother. I want my daughter to see strength & integrity in her mother. I may not be perfect, but I’m the same person in all circumstances. I am willing to admit my flaws & lay bare my insecurities because I know that I’m constantly on a path toward becoming the woman I know I need to be & the woman God wants me to be. That path is hard & full of potholes sometimes, but it’s the right path & I’m proud to be walking it. And I want my daughter to see that. I want her to know that it’s okay to not fit in the “popular” crowd. I want her to know that some of my favorite people & some of the most sincere & genuine people I know are also some of the strangest, most intense, out-of-the-box people in my life. They are also the people who have made mistakes, picked their head up & kept walking. They are people with strengthbecause it takes real strength to be authentic in this world.
I find it interesting that Theta mom uses the word authentic in particular. I think this is probably why I was drawn to her blog in the first place. I am constantly telling people that one of the traits I value above others is authenticity. I talk about this a lot when it comes to Christianity. I don’t trust Christians who act like they have something to hide – Christians who act one way at church & a different way at home. It severely contradicts everything I have studied about Christ & makes me very uncomfortable. I value authenticity. If this means you admit your flaws & own up to your mistakes, then that’s what it means. Really, that’s what it should mean, because we all have those flaws & we all make those mistakes. In friends, I always look for authenticity; people who are true to themselves & true to me. I have friends who have nothing to hide, who admit their shortcomings & accept me with mine.
So as a mother, being authentic has meant searching out the things that fit my family & the things that I believe are best for my daughter & then sticking with these things no matter what others may say. It means figuring out who I am & living that way so that my daughter sees a mother with character. It means making a commitment to her dad which is even stronger than the one we made when we got married – I will raise a child with him & accept the difficulties that brings in addition to the normal difficulties of marriage. It means being honest with her in the future & exhibiting authority, but also grace. It means constantly striving toward that goal of the woman, wife, mother that God wants me to be. It means holding myself to a high standard. It means evaluating every decision with integrity, conviction & love. It means being willing to say “this is me; take it or leave it” & then being okay if they leave it, because I cannot conform to someone else’s definition of a good mother or friend or Christian or wife or person. God made me a mother & I believe that by looking to Him & by partnering with my husband, we will be true, authentic parents. And I believe by doing this, we have a better chance of raising a true, authentic child.

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Having a Baby Without Maternity Insurance

4 - room number

This is not a post that I looked forward to writing, but after my experience, I thought it would be important to share. I have found through conversation & just searching around online that I am definitely not the only one with this problem. I also want to say that my blog is not a place where I feel the need to discuss or debate political issues. This is not a post endorsing or contesting the new health care plan, but, I do believe there is a problem with some (many?) aspects of our health care system. I do not offer a solution to that problem, but I will offer some tips as to how we were able to lower our prenatal & delivery costs during pregnancy with no maternity coverage. 
I do have health insurance through a popular company and have held it on my own – not through an employer – for almost 5 years. When I applied for the plan, I requested the plan with maternity coverage & received an approval letter. I never received any letter stating that the plan I was approved for was different than the plan I applied for. I was never notified that I did not have maternity coverage. Therefore, we started trying to get pregnant, got pregnant, & found out when we received the bill for our first prenatal appointment & ultrasound that I had no maternity coverage. I later found out that in my state, a woman on a plan alone without a spouse or a child is not eligible for maternity coverage until after she has a baby. (Um, what?!?!?)
Anyway, that is all background info, basically, we had to find a way to pay for prenatal care, ultrasounds, lab work, labor & delivery, hospital costs, etc. without maternity coverage. Here’s how we did it:
1 – We used a nurse-midwife rather than an OB-gyn
My nurse-midwife works in a practice with 3 other nurse-midwives & 2 OB’s. If there was an emergency or a problem during labor or delivery, an OB was always available to help. This is a personal preference for a woman & definitely depends upon your specific circumstances. High risk pregnancies or women who already know they will want scheduled c-sections would definitely want an OB from the get-go. But either way, a nurse-midwife is cheaper. This is not why I chose a nurse-midwife, but it was an added bonus when I found out that I had no maternity coverage.
2 – Everyone offers HUGE discounts
From the doctor delivering your baby to the labs to the hospitals, everyone offers at least 40% off if you have no maternity coverage. Our hospital gave us 50% off & some of our labs ended up being 60% off. There are also options based on your income that you can apply for. I have a friend whose hospital bills were free because of her income status.
3 – Repayment plans charge no interest
I’m not sure if this is true everywhere or just in my area, but all the repayment options for all our bills were offered with no added interest. We could have paid them off over the coming year if we wanted. We ended up paying most things off within 3 months of her birth, but that was because I got a little help from family when we finally told them what we were dealing with.
4 – Everything costs extra money
This was one thing I wasn’t completely aware of. I mean, obviously you would expect everything costs extra money, but we didn’t realize how MUCH until we received our bills. I did not use an IV or an epidural or any medication at all during my labor, so that was all an added bonus. An epidural at my local hospital has a starting price of $800. I had to get a shot after my daughter was born that cost $450. Sending your baby to the nursery during the night while you are sleeping costs $700 PER NIGHT. (Again, these are all our charges. Check with your hospital for amounts where you are.) Anything that you don’t want to pay for, you can opt out of (if medically safe & healthy). Keep the baby in the room with you at night, try to go unmedicated during labor. All of these are ways you can save money, but obviously you need to weigh your cost-benefit analysis and decide what is worth it to you. For a lot of women, the $800+ for an epidural is a small price to pay for the comfort & benefit of a more painless delivery. I would just check in advance about any costs you are questioning.
5 – Additional insurance
This is something that I didn’t actually have, but I know others who did and it can help. Additional insurance providers like Aflac will many times have short-term care sort of plans where 2 days in a hospital for any reason can qualify you for a specific payout. Check with these insurance providers if you have that insurance.
6 – Medical Card
This is another thing we did not qualify for due to income, but I have several friends who have had the benefit of using a medical card during their care. If you are a lower-income or no-income family & qualify for this, you & your baby can have coverage throughout pregnancy & for a certain amount of time post-partum. Check with your local Health Department or Community Action to find out how to apply for a medical card.

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5 Ways to Calm Those Baby Fears!

baby

I have found myself so full of fear at times since knowing Isis was even a possibility. While trying to get pregnant, I was scared that I wouldn’t be fertile. During early pregnancy, I was scared of a miscarriage. During later pregnancy, I was scared of something being wrong. During labor, I was scared of a c-section. When she was a newborn, I was scared of SIDS. Now that she’s 5 months old, I’m scared of her choking on something or of me falling down the stairs while I’m carrying her or any multitude of things that could hurt her! When a little life is your responsibility, I feel like the fears can just be overwhelming at times! I was reading on Mixed Mama Project & Erin was talking about her fears during pregnancy & they sounded so similar to mine! Melissa at Dear Baby also talked about some of her fears2010/06/5-ways-to-calm-those-baby-fears during the early days with Everly & it hit home to me as well.
Last night, I found myself lying in bed, unable to fall asleep because I was scared of the possibility of her choking on food at some point & me not knowing what to do! I mean, we just started her on rice cereal 5 days ago!! We aren’t even close to the foods she could choke on. Just always looking ahead to the possibility of problems in the future, I guess. Cameron – time to get a grip. I decided to come up with my suggestions to myself for how to calm these baby fears!
1 – Give it to God
This one is so much harder than it sounds. If you don’t believe in God, you’ve got to just let it go & tell yourself that you can only control so much. I find myself repeating this verse: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” -2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT) I also find myself reading Psalm 139:16 (NLT) “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” God has been preparing for Isis’ life even before I was.
2 – Talk to a Friend
I’ve found so much comfort from talking to other friends who are moms who have been through the exact same thing. Getting advice about how they got control of their fears or just hearing that I’m not alone in being afraid has been really helpful. Although the overwhelming consensus is that the fears never really go away. I think it’s only natural to always be aware of the bad things that could happen, but you have to learn to prepare & move on – just doing what you can & letting go of the rest.
3 – Prepare!
You can only do so much & then it’s out of your hands. When I was pregnant, I tried to just eat right & stay active & be as relaxed as possible. I took all the proper vitamins & drank lots of water. In the newborn stage, her bed had tight, fitted sheets & she was placed on her back to sleep. Now that she’s older, I’m just aware of what’s going on around her & I plan on finding a baby CPR class for the choking fear. I can only do what I can do.
4 – Identify & Face the Fear
Maybe this is the morbid one & my friend Diana said this is the trick she’s had to use a lot. Say you are afraid that your child could choke. Well, okay, let’s walk through it. Say they choke & you can’t see the food in their throat: then you need to perform the Baby Heimlich maneuver. Haven’t been trained? YouTube is a great source for some videos. Say they choke & you can see the food in their throat: swipe your finger from one side to another to move the blockage – don’t push it back further down the throat. Say you can’t get the food: immediately seek help, calling 911 if possible. Okay, I’ve identified the fear & worked through my possible options if something were to happen. You can do this with any fear. You work through exactly what you would plan on doing before it happened. This way you are not dominated by the fear – you are able to take control of it & know your plan of action if something were to occur.
5 – RELAX
Last night when I couldn’t sleep, I went through all the above things (except talking to a friend of course because it was late). Once I’d done everything I could do, I just took a few deep breaths & told myself to relax. She is perfectly safe in her crib right now, sleeping soundly. Nothing she can choke on, nothing that can hurt her. Time for me to sleep. Take a bubble bath, read a book, watch a movie, just relax & remember to enjoy your life as a parent!!
What fears are you facing right now?
How do you calm your fears?
Any other advice besides what I listed above?

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