Friday, February 26, 2010

My Birthing Story

For a while I have wanted to put pen to paper, or in this instance fingers to keyboard, to chronicle the experience I had with the birth of my first, and currently only, child.

I had a relatively good pregnancy with the occasional anxiety here and there due to some situations that occurred during the pregnancy. All in all, I felt good. I looked good, ate well, and gained the minimum required weight for a healthy pregnancy. And, Sarah often kicked like a banshee.

After having watched videos and taken birthing and breastfeeding classes to ready myself for baby I was as ready as I was going to be for the arrival of my precious bundle.

Several times during the week of my due date I experienced Braxton Hicks contractions, and likely was in early labor, but did not progress to full blown labor. Therefore, my doctor suggested that I be induced at 41 weeks. My cervix at this point still had not dilated and I often joked that the shop was still closed. It appeared that Sarah was way too comfy and just not ready to come out.

So, on a Monday afternoon I felt like I was getting ready to go to a hotel or on a trip preparing to go to the hospital for an induction. We took last photos of my pregnant belly, played with our precious kitty, and off to the hospital we went. It felt weird. I knew I was ready but this became real. The next time we would come home it would be with baby in arm.

Once settled in my birthing room, which was really nice and calming, and my iPod stereo was set up and photos placed out for comfort, I was ready to get started. It was in that moment I had no idea at all what to really expect and how to exactly get started. It was as if what ever I read in the books just left my brain.

Once I was induced with the medication it was a matter of waiting and seeing what would happen next, and when. I will emphasize that I am no martyr especially when it comes to medication and birth. I communicated in my birth plan and with the medical team that I would be ready for an epidural when the time was right.

It became the following morning and still Sarah was not ready to come out. I also still was not dilated at this time. However, the contractions started to come on fast and furious. I would clench onto the bed post a number of times thinking I was doing well thinking, hey, maybe this isn't so bad. Yeah right. I looked into my husband's eyes and saw that he was concerned for my comfort and even seemed like he felt helpless.

Every hour a nurse would come in and ask if I wanted an epidural. Finally, when the pain became what seemed unbearable with contractions coming ever more frequently, I gave in.

I know why now people do drugs. This stuff was good, really good. While still fully alert and with the epidural the contractions continued and I couldn't believe that I did not feel pain. Then, I often had to ask the doctor to top me off with more medication as the pain became more frequent. It seemed like I was doing this a lot.

I started to dilate, but very slowly. So slowly in fact that the epidural wore off and I needed to get another one. The actual injection into the spinal column really was not fun, really painful in fact. But, I felt I was in great hands with the doctor. I even joked after the injection went in that he must get proposed marriage to often by women in pain gaining relief by his touch, and certainly with the medication. I even joked about it in my thank you card to him weeks after Sarah's birth. And, yes, my husband was in the room when I proposed. He got a good laugh out of it too.

At this point I was dilated, with contractions coming every one to three minutes and only became seven centimeters dilated. Nothing was changing except the pain. And, the anticipation of what pushing a baby out was going to be like started to get me concerned. I was thinking how on earth am I ever going to be able to do this. Well, it turns out I didn't get to find out.

About an hour before Sarah was born via emergency cesarean section I spiked a fever and the doctor's were not sure why. They were not sure if there was an infection in my body or in Sarah's. She needed to come out. At that point my doctor asked me to make the choice. I thought to myself, "I didn't read about c-sections. I passed over that stuff in the books thinking that it wasn’t supposed to happen like this.” My doctor asked if I wanted to wait a little while longer and see if I dilate further but all I wanted was to get my baby out safe and soon.

With my mother in the room as well, her having survived two heart attacks during my pregnancy, I was actually concerned about her health too and fear of her having another heart attack while this process was underway. It seemed that nobody was making any decisions. I shouted at my mom and said “please tell me you are going to be okay and know that I will be fine and Sarah will be here soon.”

Then I yelled "let's do the c-section and get my daughter out, please." I wasn’t sure that waiting was going to change much. Also, I was so doped up on drugs from the two epidurals, crying so hard watching the fear in my husband's eyes. It's strange. I was worried about everyone else including Sarah, but not myself. It was truly my first selfless act for my child and she hadn’t even been born yet.

Strangely, there was some relief in thinking that I didn't need to push her out and just wanted her out so badly knowing she was okay. Therefore, I was willing to sacrifice the emotional and awakening experience of a vaginal delivery to protect her, which clearly was much more important.

In the operating room as I was being prepped, I was completely out of it. I could feel, I couldn't feel. I could feel. I was so afraid staring at the door telling them they couldn't start until my husband was by my side. I needed him there with me to hold my hold and tell me everything was going to be okay. The doctor told me that they had to prep me first before Daniel could come in. Daniel later told me that he was never more scared in his entire life then when he saw me on the table and the fear in my eyes as well.

I had a wonderful team of experts on my side and an amazing anesthesiologist, who I earlier proposed marriage to in good conscience. He kept asking, as he was pushing in yet more medication for the surgery, if I could feel my legs and other parts of my body. All I could think of what that I wasn't sure what I could feel and said it was fine. I just wanted Sarah out of my body and healthy. I just wanted to hear her cry and be told she was okay. I was willing to suffer great amounts of pain just to know she was alive, breathing and pinking up.

While all this was happening I insisted that my iPod be brought in the operating room as I had my relaxing classical music playlist all set to comfort me. Too bad the volume was too low and I struggled to hear it. Nonetheless, my husband later told me that there were many people in the room and much hustle and bustle was going on. I was in and out of consciousness during the delivery anxious waiting for them to make the first cut. I had no idea at all what to expect. All I felt was pressure. At one point he told me that the acoustic version of Ave Maria came on the iPod and that the room went silent. He then said that some of the staff started to sing and hum the lyrics to the chorus of this classic. Then, when that was done everyone was ready to get started.

When he told me this all I could think of what that G-d entered the room at this point and knew everything would be okay. Shortly thereafter Sarah was born. I don't remember seeing her but do remember hearing Daniel tell the doctor her name when asked.

It turns out that while I have pretty good sized hips my pelvis was not big enough for my nearly eight pound bundle to come out. And, I could have pushed and pushed and she would have remained stuck. So, despite my fears and anxieties the c-section was the right choice as Sarah is here, and healthy.

Unfortunately, I did not get the luxury to hold Sarah until the following day nearly 11 hours after her birth as she needed to be whisked off to the neonatal intensive care unit more so as a precautionary measure since I had a fever and the cause was still unknown. The great news was that her Apgar scores were the highest.

While in recovery crying my eyes out and having sent my family home because it was late and everyone was tired, I laid there listening to other new mothers and families with their babies in the same room. The pain hurt so much not to see Sarah. I really don’t think that mother’s without their babies should be in the same recovery room as mothers with their babies. The physical and emotional pain was a lot to cope with.

I insisted to my husband that if I could not feed Sarah her first that he be the first to give her milk even if from a bottle. And, off he went with a kiss to my forehead and a tear in his eye. He knew in his heart, which he later told me, was that I should have been the one to feed her first. He felt so bad.

The following day I was able to see Sarah for the first time and all I could do was cry with joy and thank G-d that she was here, and that she was healthy. She also had a really healthy cry sometimes waking the smaller, sometimes premature babies in the NICU. I held Sarah and stared at her for what felt like hours. I couldn't believe what we had just been through but was thanking my lucky stars that she was now in our lives.

For days Sarah needed to remain in the NICU, again as precaution. During this time instead of nursing her on my breast I became one with a hospital grade breast pump. Not exactly what I had in mind. And, as new mothers learn, you don't have much milk coming out in the first few days except colostrum, the golden milk. I pumped hard and I pumped often to get out this special nutrition proud to get even a millimeter and maybe sometimes more. It didn't seem like much and I wanted to do more. While Sarah stayed in the NICU most of the time I was in the hospital they did enable me to take her to a breast feeding class a handful of times. This saved both of us. I was now able to bond with my baby.

I am happy to report that this process helped me get on track, and with the help of a lactation consultant as well at my home. I nursed Sarah for 13 months and feel proud of this accomplishment.

G-d has granted me the most incredible blessing in the world and her name is Sarah. She is my pride and joy and I love her with all my heart. Despite a challenging delivery and not so wonderful hospital experience, other than the great doctors and nurses who stood by my side, along with my husband and family, helped me through this process.

I am thankful, appreciative and blessed.

Monday, February 22, 2010

ABCs and Elmo P

As Sarah has been reciting her alphabet more and more lately I have started to notice something rather cute and humorous while she is doing it.

It appears that when she speaks her letters in order, and gets to the letters L, M, N, O, P it appears that she sort of says them so quickly, jumbles them together, and kind of rushes through them that it sounds more like the words "Elmo P" than the letters in order.

It likely didn't help that I couldn't stop laughing at this that Sarah started doing it on purpose and now says her alphabet with this funny twist. She now giggles and chuckles when she gets to this part waiting to say Elmo P.

I have to say it is pretty awesome watching and listening to her learn her letters. On her laptop, for example, she has been successful at choosing the letter on the keyboard of what she sees on the screen and then saying it allowed.

What can I say? Sarah loves Elmo so now he's part of her alphabet for sure.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

This Mother’s POV with “The View”

Today, I got news that I have been chosen as a Brand Ambassador for ABC television's The View. I am very excited and think it’s very cool.

You may be wondering. What is this and what does it mean?

It appears that my passion for the show, and my influence amongst other moms through my role online via this blog, Twitter, Facebook and other social media portals, I am now part of this unique and valuable team to continue to help offering insights and perspectives on behalf of Mom's everywhere, in addition to what I am offering here on my blog.

I will say the coolest part of this opportunity is that I have a chance to help provide direct feedback to the marketing team at The View. So, you know I will be looking to you as well for your feedback and requests so we can collectively share our needs, perspectives and interests for future programming to address our parenting questions, wants and needs, and to become regular watchers whether it be at home during the day, or like me, on the DVR, or Tivo at night or when ever free time can be carved away.

Considering the nature of The View, and why I like watching it, is that it's funny, entertaining and sometimes self-deprecating. It can be a great forum for moms to come and learn about the day's news, sometimes weaved in with parenting topics that help us to embrace parenting, learning how to be more effective and also learn when to give ourselves a break.

Thank you for being my followers, sharing your points of view, directing your friends to my site and being a part of this special, growing community.

My goal for 2010 is to definitely carve more time in my already crazy and busy schedule to further broaden and expand my site for you. Please continue to visit, share your opinions and thoughts and spread the word. I truly appreciate your feedback for this site in which I am so passionate about. It gives me great joy to help others and be open to you by sharing my experiences, and important parenting news.

This blog has and continues to be an eye-opening experience, one that has been extremely cathartic, a great stress reliever, a fun experience, and one that is humbling as well. I am glad that we are on this ride together.

Thank You!!!

“I am a participant in a Mom Central campaign for ABC Daytime and will receive a tote bag or other The View branded items to facilitate my review.”

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lessons Children Teach Us

It's often been said that our children can teach us lessons.

There have been many instances with my daughter Sarah where she truly shows me what it's like to be a kid with no fear, pure interest and constant play. When it snows, which she loves, she wants to walk every where and cover as much snow with her boots as possible. If there is not much snow on the ground, she will find it and walk right into it. For her, the higher and steeper the snow, the better it is to play. And for her, the more fun it is.

The same goes for puddles. I know, I know. We all know a kid loves a good puddle to jump in. But really, watching your own dive in and really get in a good splash and watch them giggle is priceless, and fun to watch. Guess what. It's fun as an adult too. Jumping in the puddles with her just made her, and me, laugh harder.

Our children teach us many lessons on a regular basis. For me, Sarah has taught me much about incredibly unconditional love, patience, understanding and trust, amongst many, many others. On a more fun note, her biggest lesson has been about play. She truly is a happy child who loves life and loves to play and get messy, as many of you have seen from past photos on this blog, or from knowing her. She sometimes plays with reckless abandon, which makes me nervous. Other times, her play is so pure you can't help but want to be involved as much as possible.

This week at the gym after lifting weights I decided instead of hopping on a treadmill or the elliptical machine, which I don't really like anyway, I found an open room with a mirror, raised the volume on my headphones and danced for just about an hour. I had fun with no parameters, no boundaries...just pure unadulterated play.

So, the fun lesson this week from my little one to you is...play. Play much. Play often. Dance. Jump in a puddle. Fall in the snow. Throw a snowball. Sing in the rain. Just have fun when you can. Make requests of you and others -- reasonable and unreasonable -- and the outcomes can be tremendously rewarding.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Playtime Options Don't Have to Be Costly

This weekend Sarah experienced for the first time a children's museum. It was a most awesome experience for all involved. While we are pooped from the experience it was so well worth in more ways than one. It didn't cost much at all, in fact.

When these types of venues can often be costly it's hard to want to commit to something especially with a little one when you are not sure yet how they will react to or embrace it. It would kind of stink if you plunked down well over $30 just to enter plus drive a decent distance to get to the location, etc. to find that your child doesn't want to have anything to do the place or isn't old enough to understand or appreciate it.

We were very fortunate to find that some venues, like Children's Museum's, Zoo's, etc. have days and times when the rate for entrance is either reduced or even in some cases FREE. These are the perfect times to take your little tyke for a test run with out breaking the bank.

After making a donation to the museum upon arrival, which we were not required to do, be wanted to do, Sarah then jumped right in head first -- literally and figuratively. She was so excited and it was the kind of place where you don't really have to hold her hand (much) and she can roam and move around easily.

She had a ball and we laughed so hard. We also met friends there too with their little one Sarah's age and had such a great time all around.

The funniest experience, and there were many, was when Sarah played with the water exhibit. Let's just say that it was completely expected that she would be doused in water soon after she arrived. It's good that I came with two back-up outfits for this very reason. I couldn't help but share this hilarious photo of Sarah getting drenched and having such a great time doing it.

So, don't be deterred by great venues to take your kids too that might often seem somewhat costly or out of reach. Consider options where there are chances to save some money too. I am so thankful that these types of opportunities are out there. Now we know that Sarah will enjoy places like this and look forward to exposing her to more and more of them as she grows.

Consider all your options and what's available and explore about with your little one.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Children and Music

As a member of Twitter Moms I came across a post from a fellow mom asking for points of view on how important we believe musical education is for children, specifically around elementary school age. As a mother of a two year old and based on the memories of my childhood including a love of music and dance I can certainly speak from my perspective. This Twitter mom also asked what we felt were some benefits of exposing our children to singing and instruments.

Here is my point of view.

Music is a significantly integral part of a children's development especially from such a young age. I started with nursery rhymes from the very beginning with my daughter Sarah including singing and toys including rattles that made sounds. Leading into toddlerhood I desperately tried exposing Sarah to other types of music as I could only take so much of the nursery rhymes. I tried other music at the start but she only responded to the kid’s music.

Through conversations I had with educators including teachers at Sarah’s school, I learned that the rhymes are critical to a child's growth and development. It helps with their memory when words rhyme and also when there is repetition.

As a result, I became a bit more understanding and accepting of the constant playing of kid's music at home and on the go.

Now that Sarah is two years old I am happy to say that in addition to nursery rhymes, which we still have streaming through our house and car on a regular basis, intertwined with that is classical and jazz, and music from young children's movies like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and The Wizard of Oz. Daddy decided to add some of his favorites into our “Children’s Music” playlist on the iPod and, voila, a growth in music appreciation for different genres has been established.

There are even musicians who sing songs that are great for little ears that somewhat sound like children's music and are great adult listening songs as well. For example, Singing in the Rain by Gene Kelly and Miracle by Renee and Jeremy are some of our favorites that Sarah enjoys to listen to as well.

We also have many instruments in our home both Sarah’s and ours that we use regularly. I have come to realize that you don't have to be great. You don't even have to be good. You just have to want to have fun. I barely play enough cords on the guitar but manage to get a rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Old MacDonald. Thanks Auntie Mandy for writing up simple cords for me to play. I am still not that good on guitar but Sarah seems to enjoy it. So, I encourage you try it as well.

On a separate note, while I am a proud and loud shower singer, the truth is I really stink. My husband doesn’t think I am terrible but what I hear doesn’t sound like music. Nonetheless, I have been told that no matter how bad we think we may sound as singers our children hear otherwise. They hear something beautiful and wonderful, and familiar.

So sing, sing loud and sing often with your little ones.

I support and agree that music is a great part of a child's life and hope to keep exposing my daughter to it throughout her life, while I still have some say and guidance.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Children and TV Time

I wrote a blog on my site back in October 2009 about young children and television and still stand strong that children should have limited time in front of the television, especially at such a young age, and especially before the age of two.

Now, before the criticism kicks in, I will openly admit that I have exposed my daughter to television mostly when she was and is not feeling well, during breathing/nebulizer treatments, and sometimes in the mornings when I need to get ready for work. But, I will also say that I do try to limit the amount of television Sarah watches as she has a much better time imagining and creating on her own, and with family and friends.

Our children can still develop a quality relationship and friendship with the wonderful characters we see on television or in movies even without watching them. Our house if filled with stuffed animals of all different kinds. For example, some of the Sesame Street gang became instant friends with Sarah once she started playing and talking with them. She especially loves reading to them. Elmo is my personal favorite, not so much from my past, but because of his fun, bold, red color and adorably cute voice. I felt he became hard to resist. It appears Sarah felt the same way.

There are many wonderful characters on television and in the movies that can become our children's favorites and comforts. Reading to our children about them and listening to music are other great ways to expose them to the power of these lovable creatures that have come into the homes of many.

For example, when Sarah hears the I Love You song sung by Barney she instantly comes up to me and hugs me. While I don't like Barney, Sarah seems to, and who could resist a hug from their little one. I like that Sarah has made a connection with this big purple dinosaur that involves her connecting with others especially when she's affected by his music.

Sing, dance, read, listen to music and color with crayons, markers and paint these special characters with children. These are all great ways for them to become connected and build friendships with new friends all year round and for years to come.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Often Forgetting Something?

Over the past two years since my daughter's birth I have left way too many cups, bowls, clothes, toys, teething rings, thermoses, and more, at the homes of friends and family. I used to think that it was pregnancy brain that made me this forgetful, and I still think it is. And, I am not pregnant.

The interesting thing is that I seem to most often leave Sarah's things behind. In writing this it sounds terrible but then think about it. When I arrive at someone's house, food and beverages likely need to go in the fridge. In the past if Sarah spit up, a clothing change was necessary and likely involved having to clean the item and hang it up in the bathroom. In other instances, most recently, Sarah would be playing with a toy and leave it on a window sill without my knowing about it until we were on our way home.

Recently, we went to a friend's party, and when it became warm inside I took off one of Sarah's clothing layers. Let's just say that onesie is likely too small for Sarah to wear now and; therefore, not something I have rushed back to claim.

I know what you are thinking. Write notes to remind myself. Tell people to remind me. I have done all of this. I go through post-it notes and pieces of paper a lot. I tape notes to my door handles or stroller as reminders. I have gotten better but now I just laugh when something is left behind. I go to great lengths to try and not forget anything.

Especially when I go to my sister or mom's house, where I pretty much can spread out everywhere, it's definitely likely something will be forgotten or go missing at their homes. When it's time to leave everyone makes sure now that I have everything before I leave. I am starting to think I need to keep a check list of all that comes into someone's house (ridiculous) that is Sarah's and check it off before leaving to make sure all is in tow.

I envy parents who don't feel they need to pack the kitchen sink when they travel outside their home with their children. I often feel it's necessary to bring reinforcements wherever we go, especially for car trips, however long they may be so that Sarah is not watching TV or videos but instead playing, developing and growing.

So, when favorite blankets, stuffed animals, toys, trains, crayons, books and food and beverages come for out-of-the house excursions, I just need to find a system to keep better track so that they all come home with us on the return.

The good thing is that the only things that get left behind, on occasion now, are just things. No big deal. This is something that has now just become something funny to talk about and conversation worthy to laugh about amongst friends and family.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Rethink the Greeting Card

Greeting cards can be some what costly even when you find them at affordable retailers.

With so many occasions to acknowledge over the course of a year I started a trend in our household, one I hope I can keep up with, one that I am encouraging my child to take a big part in, and one I hope won't make me nuts.

We make individual, personalized "Sarah Original" greeting cards with paper of various colors, coloring book pages, paper plates along with either crayons, paint, stamp pads, stickers and glue-on things (e.g., pom poms, hearts, googly eyes).

While I do enjoy getting greeting cards, I have also come to realize that I sometimes don't often keep them except when they come from my husband, daughter and pet (yes, my precious kitty gives me mommy day and birthday cards). I sometimes keep other really funny or genuine cards from friends and family. I suspect that this is possibly the case with many others especially when space is somewhat limited. My mom might be the exception to this as she holds on to most of what we send her, and especially now Sarah’s art projects and cards.

Before Sarah was born, greeting cards were a typical mode of appreciation and recognition sent by us to family and friends for all occasions. Since her birth and when Sarah was able to start becoming involved in art projects (e.g., foot prints, hand prints, painting masterpieces) we would send these special creations in lieu of actual greeting cards. The reception from family and friends was overwhelming. They loved these keepsakes and treasured them.

There are certainly ways to save money on greeting cards as some retailers have good deals. I have found that these personalized masterpieces from little, and growing hands (and sometimes feet) tend to be that much more appreciated by those who have received them. Again, I am only speaking from my own experience.

As a result, we now have a wall in our home that has become somewhat like an art gallery with paintings and colored drawings that Sarah has made waiting, being admired, for the right moment, and the right person, for them to be sent to as a special acknowledgement of an upcoming occasion.

While coloring paper, crayons, markers and paints, and other craft supplies do cost money, there are places to get inexpensive tools that are fun to do with your child. The best part is that arts and crafts are great for our children's development and they can be fun too.

Please know that doing art projects with kids is not for everyone. My husband will be the first to admit that he tends to avoid doing them with Sarah, more so with painting because she really, really gets into it, if you know what I mean. Let's just say many times following painting experiences a bath follows including a wiping down of walls, floors or possibly furniture. He tends to stick to crayons and coloring books with her.

As much as I want for Sarah to have freedom while she paints I have now started to put her in her booster seat with straps so that there is less running around and less stress on my part too.

So, consider your options when considering what type of cards to send to friends and family. If you are crafty, or want to be, and want to dip into fun exploration and adventure with your child, go for it. There is no right or wrong. These personalized cards are keepsakes and sweet expectations by those who receive them. And, watching the joy on our children's faces while they make these cherished crafts is many times a priceless experience.

Have fun being creative.

Halloween Candy for the Troops

While we all recover from over indulging in too much candy during Halloween, still the candy is in our homes staring at us willing us to...