Feature Mama of the Month

The Moment We Knew He Was Ours

Mamas transform into their role in incredibly different ways. Where some carry and deliver their child, others have a more intense journey that involves other obstacles. This was the case for Ondrea and Dan Stachel. The couple, who live in Minnetonka, MN, were married in 2012. Ondrea told me that she feels unique in that she’s never had an internal desire to carry a baby and give birth, although she was open to it. She had, however, always wanted to adopt. The couple settled on a plan: to first try for a child naturally and then adopt a child. However, as many Mamas know, it doesn’t always work out the way you plan. The two tried for a couple years and after being unsuccessful, determined it was time to begin the adoption process.

They began their research in late 2015 to determine what adoption entails. They compiled a list of adoption agencies in the Twin Cities. Their list came from Google searches and recommendations from friends who had gone through the process. Next, they met with a few different agencies. Ondrea commented, “Each agency has a slightly different approach to how they operate. In the end, it came down to a numbers game. One agency we met with typically does 3-5 placements per year and the agency we chose does upwards of 60. Another important factor to consider is the relationship with the staff at the agency as you end up spending a ton of time with them. They are your trusted guide through the process. We made our decision: Wellspring Adoption Agency (aka Adoption Minnesota).”

Ondrea shared that once you’ve selected the agency you’re going to work with, the paperwork begins and the initial check is written. In addition to page after page of paperwork, you also sign up to take classes at the agency, schedule the home study, visit the government center to get fingerprinted, and create a profile to showcase yourself. An adoptive parent counselor is assigned to you and acts as your representation throughout the process. Your counselor is also the person who’s designated with the task of questioning: your financial health, relationship status with your spouse, family, and friends, what type of preparation you’ve done to become a parent, what are you looking for in a child, what types of things (i.e. mental illness, boy vs girl, age, race, etc.) you are or aren’t willing to accept both for child and the birth parent, the list goes on and on. She expressed, “Although this was grueling, we were excited and optimistic about building our family through adoption. We learned that our attitude towards adoption was unique. Through stories shared in classes we learned most other couples had experienced some type of loss which is what brought them to this decision. This was a very bittersweet process for them.”

“From the day we chose the agency to the time we had dotted our I’s and crossed our T’s and were approved to be “in the book” was six months.” Each profile goes into a three ring binder. This book is sorted in chronological order from oldest to newest. Additionally, your profile goes on their website in the same order, top to bottom. Birth moms can find families via the website or within the book when they visit the office.

Once approval is granted to be in the book, life transitions back to some state of normalcy and the waiting game begins. “You know how great the two of you are, which naturally means everyone else does too and you won’t be waiting long for a call about a potential baby. But then days go by. Weeks go by. Months go by– until one day you get your first call and any feeling of doubt that may have surfaced, disappears. This is your chance to shine and prove to the birth mother why YOU are the best parents they could choose for their baby.” Ondrea and Dan experienced this type of call five times. “After the first couple didn’t pan out, our attitude toward the calls shifted into that of a business transaction: here are the facts and we will get excited if, and only if, it becomes a reality. Actively removing our emotion from that step numbed any pain we might experience due to rejection or letdown.”

The fourth call the couple received was the Wednesday before Christmas. The baby was born and Ondrea and Dan were asked to get ready to drive to Bemidji, MN (about a 5-hour drive from where they live). The birth mother had screened 3 different families. She had gone to the hospital after birthing the baby in her bathtub at home as she had not known she was pregnant! The couple thought this was their light, and what perfect timing because this news was in the wake of two of their close friends passing away too young. Sadly, for them, they got a text later that night… the mother had chosen another couple.  This devastation was hard on them, but in the end they knew that particular baby was meant for another couple. “As hard as it is to not be the chosen couple, you are happy for the other family because they have been waiting like you have. This is their time.”

More time passed and their profile was up for renewal. They felt like, “If we don’t get picked, in the end, we will be ok.” The couple had made their decision not to renew their profile. However, shortly after, they received a blessed call: a couple who was making the choice to put their child up for adoption had looked through every [single] profile and Ondrea and Dan were the only couple they were interested in talking to. They wanted to talk immediately so they had a phone conversation the same day they found out about them and decided to meet for dinner a couple days later. Ondrea and Dan prepared for, as Ondrea put it, “…sort of like a first date!” She teared up as she described the birth mother as… incredible, selfless, and knew that she wouldn’t be able to give her son the life he deserved.

By the end of dinner, the couple asked Ondrea and Dan if they wanted to have their baby. This is unique in that it almost never happens this way; typically, the birth mother will go back to the counselor and they will relay the news. The stars had aligned for the couple who had waited so long. Ondrea shared that, “Our counselor called and said, I have some good news! They chose you!” Ondrea beamed, “We already knew, they told us at dinner!”  

Once you’re chosen, a new round of paperwork and planning begins. You work through details such as: who names the baby, who’s allowed at the hospital, when you pick up the baby, will there be future contact between the birth parents and the child, everything you can imagine. Lawyers are hired and you start preparing your home and your life for the new addition.

In the few months leading up to the birth, the birth mom provided Dan and Ondrea with updates. One of those updates was that she was being induced on Thursday, August 9. On August 12, 2018 after what Ondrea described as the longest weekend of their lives, their son, Owen Neil Stachel was born. Healthy, safe, and ready to meet his new parents. Their first interaction with their son was via Facetime and, “it was a beautiful moment we’ll remember forever.” Dan and Ondrea got to pick up their son from North Memorial in Robbinsdale, MN upon discharge to take him to his new home.

The new parents could see the finality of their adoption journey in sight. They were able to, as any adoptive parent, take the baby from the hospital on a temporary custody order. The next step is for the birth mother to sign her rights away. This is a) not something that can be done within 72 hours of the birth and b) must be done at the adoption agency with the counselor, lawyer, notary, and witnesses present. Once she signs her rights away, the state of MN gives her an additional 10 days to change her mind. Beyond that, there is a home visit for the new parents and a court date to finalize the adoption. They were ready to be the deserving parents they had waited so long to be.

On December 13, 2019 Dan, Ondrea, and Owen, along with family and friends, attended the adoption finalization hearing where Owen was pronounced their child. A new birth certificate was issued listing them as the parents, and the original put into a protected file.

Ondrea had this to share about her experience, This experience – our experience – was incredible. We feel so blessed–Everyday. We often ask, How are we so lucky? Not only is he adorable, but he is ours. He was, without question, born for us! I honestly believe that everything happens for a reason. Everything we do and experience makes us better people and having all those calls before him made us stronger and better prepared to be the BEST parents we can be for him.

It’s often hard to wrap our heads around What’s mean to be, will be, but Ondrea & Dan’s story proves just that. Sometimes as Mamas, we try and control so much of what’s in front of us. I was reminded, from this amazing couple’s journey, that sometimes it’s ok to sit back and be patient. I just might learn something while I wait 🙂

XO,
Linds

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My Mama Blogs

The Thing No One Told Me Before I Had Kids

Did anyone else think, after they had kids, that it was easier navigating the new baby than it was to manage your marriage? I remember thinking… Holy smokes, what is going on? I feel like I hardly know him anymore. When I look back and think about why that is, it makes sense. And if someone had sat me down beforehand and given me some advice on what to look for, what to watch for, I feel like I would have been better prepared. I mean, they have baby showers to give you all the gifts for the new baby, and many Mamas give you advice on feedings, diapering, labor and delivery, and so on. Maybe we should start adding in a Marriage-Before-Baby shower. And there, the guests can give you gift cards for date nights and advice on how to coexist together once baby arrives. Not a bad idea, right?

I could have read a thousand baby books, blogs, and listened to every piece of advice given from other Mamas about raising tiny humans. But what I never read a lot of, and what I wish I had more of, was what to expect when you have a baby–between you and your spouse. Now, please don’t get me wrong. I love my husband oh-so-much and am so very thankful for his role as a Daddy, provider in our family, and as my partner. However, our marriage has taken many twists and turns along the way as we have navigated how to be parents and still be husband and wife. It is hard!

Ross and I have been together for ten years this year and are celebrating our five year wedding anniversary November 27, as well! I remember back to the days when we first started dating…  Ahhhh–we were young and flying by the seat of our pants: going to Vegas on a whim, taking beach vacations with friends, exploring new restaurants, and going on dates. Life was so grand.

And it is even more grand now–the love we have for each other has multiplied exponentially since we had Julia & Brooks. But I would be lying if I said it wasn’t hard… A lot of the time. No one ever talks about this before you have kids. People always talked about how marriage was hard, and I remember hearing my Mama say that growing up. But when you have kids, it becomes a different kind of hard. You not only have the same struggles you did before kids, you add in another layer of territory to navigate.

When I think about the logical shift that occurs, it’s something like this in my head:

I met my husband… we fell in love. We spent every waking hour thinking about each other… loving one another…taking care of one another. We built a home together. We lean on each other for everything.

And then we had kids. And suddenly it looks something like this:

My husband and I welcomed children into this world. They spend every waking hour needing us. We love them so much, and they need us to take care of them. They lean on us for everything. 

The logical shift has now taken the focus off our marriage and on to the kids. No longer is my attention solely on Ross. Now it’s spread [as equally as possible] across three people. Well, technically four if I include myself. No wonder marriage gets hard. What was always the only priority has now taken a backseat. And no books or pep talks could have prepared me for this shift. I feel like I could have left out the letter F in that word and it still would have made sense 😉

It’s been three years on March 29 since we welcomed Julia into this world. And through those three years, our marriage has had some rocky spots. And it’s been trying because for me, being a Mama came naturally–as I suspect it comes for most. But what didn’t come naturally for me, was not being able to properly communicate what I needed, and in turn, not properly receiving the communication I was getting from my husband. And in the same sense, it was hard because there was no longer this equal distribution of love toward one another–now it was spread in a new directions.

I think at the end of the day, I wish someone would have talked to me beforehand, about how hard it can be on your marriage, once you have kids. Not every relationship is a one size fits all, and I’m certain there are a lot of couples who nail it right on the head the first time. We didn’t nail it on the head right away, and that’s ok with me.

So. What have I learned now that I wish I would have known then?

  1. It is not impossible to make your marriage a priority. GET OUT of your house and do something together. The kids will be fine–even the brand new baby. You think they need you? They do! But… Grandma, Grandpa, Aunts, Uncles, Friends… they all LOVE a good baby fix and will smother that baby and those kids with so much attention that they will forget you’re gone. Make this a priority.
  2. Plan your date nights in advance. I make sure to do at least two date nights a month. I book out someone to watch the kids–whether it be Grandparents or relatives–we have been lucky in this way, that we don’t have to reach outside our family circle. However, we have high school sitters in our contacts should we need them. I reached out to other couples who have kids our age and we now have a network to use! And branching off that… schedule your first weekend or trip away as soon as possible. Ross and I went to Vegas in October without the kids, and we reconnected immediately. One-on-one time is truly a gift for your marriage!
  3. Make your kids’ bedtime earlier rather than later. Or, at least early enough so you and your spouse have an hour or so alone every night. You need time to unwind… connect, visit, and be alone. Get into a routine and stick with it. We don’t have bedtime struggles and it’s a breeze [almost] every night. Bath, jammies, snuggles, books, prayers, bed. Shut the door and we’re done. Ross and I are left with time to ourselves to watch a show and talk about things. Or just be silent in the same space. Ahhhh… Zen.
  4. Mama guilt doesn’t have to weigh you down. I make sure to do things for myself throughout the month. My husband is perfectly capable of managing the kids on his own while I run kid-free errands, get my nails done, or have dinner with the girls. In fact, in he says, in these exact words, I run a tight ship. My point being, don’t doubt your spouse. He will be great! We usually bottle up this feeling that he won’t be able to manage while we’re gone, and that’s just not the case at all. Give him credit–he helped make these kids, too.
  5. Establish routines and responsibilities between the two of you. And when you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Part of the reason I was so resentful at first was because I would wish things to be done in my head but never verbalize it. I have had to really wrap my head around being verbal about what I want help with. I was afraid of asking for help, and the consequence of that was far more strung out than it would have been had I just gotten it out!

These are just a few of the ideas I found that I wish someone would have told me before we had kids. I know a lot of Mamas within the Band of Mamas who would be happy to share other words of wisdom as well! Ross and I have a long way to go and so many more years of parenting and marriage ahead of us. I know there will be rough times, and I’m hopeful the happy ones will always be close behind. In the meantime, we still need to nurture our marriage just like we nurture the kids. After all, we’re all growing together, so why wouldn’t we 🙂

XO,

Linds

 

My Mama Blogs

Anyone Else’s Kids do Weird Stuff?

I know you’ve felt it. You’ve stared adoringly at your explorative little toddler and gazed upon how smart she has become. You’ve given her high-fives and hugs and complimented her on how amazing she is. And then the moment hits you when you feel confused. You’re even disgusted. That same girl, as she was watching Daddy plow the snow into gigantic fluffy mounds, licked the beautiful picture window. Just, why?

Where do they learn this stuff? I could write a book about all of the weird sh%t my kids do. And I wonder how on God’s beautiful earth did they decide it was a good decision at the time! Well… I love my kids. And they are smart. But they do really weird stuff. Here are a few of the ones I rounded up for the sake of some Friday funnies!

  • We’ll be casually strolling through Target, and I look away for ONE second. And there she is. My precious Julia–the one I adore and am completely enamored with, has her mouth over the handle bar and is LICKING it. And I tell her that’s icky and to stop. But then she doesn’t stop and just keeps licking it. I used to think stroller covers were a waste of money. But then when Brooks did it too, I gave myself a second kick in the arse for not buying one.
  • Speaking of licking. Has your kid ever licked your face? Like, “Give Mama a kiss goodnight!” and instead, I get a sloppy, wet, puppy-like kiss anywhere from my neck to my forehead. Or all in one sweep. Sick.
  • Oh and your purse? You’ll find any number of things in there even though your kid has their own 9,000 baskets, shelves, or bags to put stuff in. One time I opened it up and felt as if I were staring into the eyes of Chucky himself. A tiny little Barbie doll boy placed oh-so-carefully face up in my purse on my way to work. Like we need anymore distractions on the roads in MN this year!
  • And your floor! Don’t forget to sweep. Or vacuum often. Because if you don’t, your kid will find a 9-month old Cheerio and eat it. Or maybe it’s a handful of pine needles at Christmas time. And then they look at you with that look of distain in their eye as they pull clumps of sappy needles out of their mouths and aren’t sure what to do with the remnants. So obviously they put them in your hand.

  • You’re thinking, Oh, I’ve seen that look before. Oh, yes! It’s at dinnertime when your toddler takes a big ol’ bite of something juicy. And they decide mid-bite that they don’t like it. So in super slow mo, they carefully tongue out their food whilst staring you straight in the eyeballs. It doesn’t fall into their lap, but into your hand. And they say, “That’s icky…” [anyone who read the blog last Friday may have gotten a laugh at the re-mention of the word EYEBALL instead of eye… ]

  • Violent, hormonal-like mood swings. ‘Nuff said? Like literally one minute Julia will be saying as she nuzzles in my neck, “I love you so much Mama…” and then within .1 seconds, she is glaring at me and saying, “You DON’T love me” in a sinister voice. Ahem! Sister say what?
  • You’ve heard parents say how terrifying it is when their kid shows up in their room in the middle of the night. But you don’t understand the horror until it actually happens to you. Any other time she does anything Julia is stomping and running and creating a raucous. But in the middle of the night, she has transformed into a stealthy, tip-toeing ninja who has come to frighten what’s left of any sleep.
  • They prefer to do everything without pants on. Like your taxes.
  • Why is Mama’s belly button the funniest thing ever? Both kids thoroughly enjoy sticking their fingers in there and laughing so hard. Although so strange, I just go with it because their laughs are hilarious. I’m hoping they grow out of this!
  • I have always been a picker. And I’ve inflicted this terrible habit on Julia. But it’s not just that she enjoys picking the skin off her own lips, toenails, or fingernails, she wants to pick the skin off my lips or fingernails or toenails. “Oooooh Mama lemme get that” Ew.
  • They become obsessed with weird toys for random lengths of time. These gloves were a gift from a friend after Julia was born. Our friend put her hubs in charge of getting the gift, and this is what he picked. The creepiest gloves ever that are accompanied by a book. If it’s not those gloves, maybe [preferably] it’s a dolly. Or a particular piece of Mama’s Tupperware. Or right now, the kids are bickering over whether or not the other can have the Barbie dollhouse broom. It’s approx. 2 inches long. For the love of all that is good, find something else to play with!
  • They drink bath water. I had to ditch the cups tonight during bath because Brooks just kept downing soapy water. I tried to offer a sippy cup with water because duh, maybe he’s thirsty! But no. He just wants the bath water. And then he figured out a way to suck water out of a rubber duck. Gross.
  • They get oddly angry when you tell them to smile at photos. Even if they’re at an Easter Egg hunt with their best friends and having the time of their life.

Kids are so strange! Yes, imaginations run wild. But you have to wonder why people say The apple didn’t fall too far from that tree. They have to learn things from somewhere–even the weird stuff.

If you feel inclined, please, please share some funny things your kids do in the comments today! I can’t be the only one!

XO, 

Linds
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My Mama Blogs

10 Things I Didn’t Know About Pregnancy, Labor & Delivery, or the Aftermath

Creating human life is a trip, am I right? You and your spouse literally experience the miracle of conception and watch as you generate a life out of nothing but love [and the act of it!].

And then you’re pregnant for the first time. And holy smokes, did you look at every Mama different from that point forward. You thought becoming a Mama was amazing, but then it’s a million times more magical than you ever thought possible once you’re growing this life inside you.

And then you’re approaching your due date. And you’ve read some books about What to Expect when You’re Expectingbut your labor and delivery story is different than you thought it would be… Or maybe it went exactly as planned. Mine was shockingly different both times and neither time what I expected.

And then you have the baby. And the weird stuff just keeps coming. You thought it was smooth sailing from here forward and your body was just going to bounce back to normal. And then it doesn’t. It’s now a jelly blob where your tiny miracle was hanging out for 9 months. Oh and your cute belly button ring you got when you were 18? It now looks like an upside-down smiley face.

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It’s all just one giant learning experience and the wildest ride you’ve ever been on and the end is nowhere in sight. I had to reflect on some of the insanity that occurred with my journey, so here is a list of 10 things that I learned from [my] Pregnancy, Labor/Delivery, and the Aftermath. Make sure you pee before you read it! And… please NO judging. However, if you look at me differently or laugh when you see me, I’ll know why.

  1. You’ve heard of swelling. But did you know that your vagina can actually swell, too? I laughed when my coworker told me she had [for lack of a technical, medical term] “Cheeseburger Crotch,” but then I had it when I was pregnant with Brooks… and it feels like you’ve rammed your va-jay into a bicycle bar. Or your hands? Did you know your hands can swell up and cause tendinitis that can literally throb up your entire arm and with this, your hands are completely numb day in and day out until weeks after you have the baby? Yes. It can happen.  And when you get farther along you might also experience “Lightning Crotch” where it feels as if daggers are stabbing your lady parts while you’re doing practically anything.
  2. Oh! And did you know that your body may create extra skin tags? Like anywhere? And by anywhere I mean everywhere. Armpits: Check. Under the boob? Check. I got one on my butt[hole]. That’s right, Mamas. The HOLE. At my 30-week appointment my doctor grabbed a mirror so I could see, and then made sure to point it out to Ross. They were both down there just looking at it. My OB said he could remove it when the baby came out because the epidural would numb the area. Please, please, get rid of it.
  3. AND! Did you know that when you’re pregnant your body can cause your salivary glands to work in overdrive and cause you to drool more? I know this because I drooled in my husbands eyeball while we were [ahem!] having fun together in the bedroom. Typing this is as embarrassing as when it happened. I Googled it and sure enough, it’s a super fun thing that can happen during pregnancy.

4. Before the baby comes, some women lose their mucus plug; it might fall out on to the floor, and you might be so disgusted when you see it. I was utterly shocked at the alien baby that fell out on to the rug when I stepped out of the shower.

5. Johnny Cash sang about the Burning Ring of Fire, but did you know that there is something called “The Ring of Fire” when you’re delivering your babe? It’s when the head is crowning and it feels as if someone has taken a blow torch to your pelvic bones. The epidural is localized to relieve the pain of contractions but not the pain associated with delivery. I had no idea how badly this would hurt.

6. While you’re laboring, many hospitals encourage and offer massage and acupuncture. That’s right! You can get these things included to help breathe through the pain of your labor.

7. Did you know that with a vaginal birth, the doctor may not be able to remove [above] said skin tag because you’ve developed hemorrhoids so badly that they have completely engulfed the skin tag? So now you not only have loose skin from a skin tag that got stretched out, but also golf ball sized ‘roids on your butt[hole]. Yep. That can happen! And yes. It’s still there. The doctor suggested I wait until we were for sure done having kids. Until then…

8. After you’ve had the baby, did you know that the nurses will push on your uterus numerous times a day, and that it hurts really badly? They’ll sweeten their jabs with an 800 mg dose of Ibuprofen–take it. It’s like when your brother stabs a bruise on your leg while saying, “Is that a bruise?” Ouch.

9. After you’ve had a baby, you will continue to bleed and shed clots for some time afterward. Totally normal. And gross. Buy pads of all sizes, and make sure to take the really huge ones from the hospital! I asked the nurse for a few extra pairs of the disposable undies, too. They are gigantic but I’d rather mess those ones up than my nice ones!

10. And finally… all of these things are so monumentally worth it that you forget about the pain almost immediately. That’s right. The pains with pregnancy shift to labor pains, and then labor pains shift to delivery pains, and then delivery pains shift to postpartum pains, and so on! And then eventually all those pains are then somehow morphed into the emotional work that comes into raising tiny humans. It’s glorious. God had a plan to help Mamas forget the pain of child birth so we could put all of our newfound energy into shaping children.

I knew that this blog would open up doors for sharing, and hopefully this wasn’t too much! But hey, it’s like, if you can’t share this stuff with the Internet, who can you share it with? 😉 You’ll always find me trying to find the positive in most situations, even if it’s for a good laugh (at my expense).

And on a final note, if you aren’t in on the Band of Mamas Facebook group or don’t like/follow the blog on social media… please, please make this a priority! It’s such an amazing community of women and in particular, amazing Mamas who have gone through this type of stuff.

XO,

Linds

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Feature Mama of the Month

Heart Strong Mama

The Rocky Mountains create the most beautiful backdrop for this heart strong journey. Born and raised in Minnesota, Heather Siegel met her husband Andy and the two settled in Lone Tree, Colorado. Both Heather & Andy work for energy companies in downtown Denver. The two fell in love and next in their plan was to have kids. They had a healthy and beautiful baby girl, Alanna, and shortly after, Heather got pregnant with their second child. Everything was moving along according to plan. The 20 week ultrasound was near perfect; however, as she moved into week 25, the doctors found that the baby was significantly small. They scheduled an ultrasound where the tech looked in depth at the heart and specifically, one of the valves. The doctors concluded that they would monitor for IUGR, a growth restriction, and that one of the heart valves would need to be examined by the high-risk doctors.
As with any of these conclusions, the wait began–it was only Tuesday and they would have to wait until Friday. The suspense was warranted, though, because the doctors found something wrong with the baby’s heart. Children’s Hospital in Denver would give the official diagnosis the following Monday. And until then, as Mamas do, Heather began questioning: What could be wrong? She shared, “We went in on Monday and they informed us that the baby’s condition was called Ebstein’s Anomaly, which is a congenital heart defect of the tricuspid valve. We went into this thinking our baby was totally healthy and now here we are with all these unknowns. The doctor was hopeful that our baby would not need surgery right away, but her heart was also showing signs of dependence on an extra duct in the heart called the PDA, which all fetuses have but closes after birth. Our cardiologist was worried that once it closed after she was born, our baby wouldn’t be able to pump enough blood to her lungs without it. We would have to wait and see.”

Heather and Andy spent the rest of her pregnancy visiting the doctor at minimum 2-4 times a week: Non-stress tests on Tuesday, ultrasound tests on Friday, high-risk doctors, and Children’s Cardiology. They were worried about the heart but also her growth restriction. She had moved from the tenth percentile down to the first, and they had learned that 14% of these IUGR babies don’t make it past 37 weeks. The cardiologists wanted the baby (whom they named Natalie) to grow and stay in as long as possible; but because they didn’t want to take unnecessary risks, the team scheduled an induction for 37 weeks. What seemed routine became a long, drawn out process which ultimately led to the baby’s heart rate dropping and they had to do a c-section. Heather remembered, “That was scary. It turned out the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck. Once they got her out, they assessed her, quick brought her over to me so I could look at her for a minute, and then whisked her down to the CICU at Children’s.”

A rough four weeks began with staying in the hospital, sleeping in the recliner, and waiting. It turned out Natalie was dependent on this PDA and would eventually need surgery, but she would need to get bigger first. Despite Heather’s attempts, nursing was difficult amidst the cords and fragility of sweet little Natalie, whose weight had dropped down to four lbs. Being this small makes this heart surgery more risky. They decided to wait one more week to let her grow. Heather said, “I was on the verge of breaking down and losing it.“I was pleading with the doctors to try letting her PDA close one more time. To everyone’s surprise, she finally was able to do it on the third and final attempt! We were able to go home. It was a miracle. She was able experience the outdoors for the first time and we were so happy. We knew that surgery would be in our future, but we were finally able to bring our family home.”

Going home, though, was hard. Heather shared, “The surgery just loomed over us. We got in touch with Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, which has one of the best surgeons in the world for Ebstein’s Anomaly. He was sure they could do the the Glenn Procedure–they would take one of the main veins, detach it from the heart, and go directly to the lungs. He thought he might also be able to repair her tricuspid valve, but that Natalie would need to be at least 13 lbs and near 6 months old.” Heather was pumping around the clock and learning how to feed a cardiac baby–they can only eat for 30 minutes at a time because beyond that timeframe they burn more than they take in. With all of these stressors came postpartum depression for this strong Mama. She reflected that she would break down sobbing because of the constant pressure of Natalie’s life being in her hands. She sought medical support and began taking medication to help with the stress and anxiety she felt.

Ultimately, Heather and Andy’s hard work and dedication to help little Natalie grow, paid off. Miraculously, around five months her heart started working better! In turn, she was able to push off surgery until she turned two! They felt fortunate to have made it to this point, but with this came a wave of bad news. Their sweet firstborn, Alanna, had the same heart defect. Both girls have Ebstein’s Anomaly and an ASD, which is a hole between the top two chambers of the heart. This news hit them hard knowing that another surgery would be in their future while Natalie’s surgery was right in front of them.

The family packed up and went to Minnesota and the doctors at Mayo Clinic scheduled her surgery. With this came the anxiety and fears leading up to it. They did all of the pre-op stuff and Heather laughed as she remembered, “Fasting with a two year old is so much fun! We cuddled up the night before and just loved on her. We went in first thing in the morning and of course… surgery was delayed! She was just a little cranky from being so hungry. In turn, I also remember thinking, You know these surgeons are so good at their job, but there is still that small chance that this is the last time I see my child aliveThey had to saw open her sternum, stop her heart, put it on bypass, and basically redesign the right side of her heart. Six hours went by and we waited. Andy and I both remember feeling this strange, overwhelming sense of calm, though. We could feel people praying for us and for Natalie.”

The doctors successfully repaired her valve using the Cone Procedure, rerouted the blood flow from her heart to her lungs using the Glenn procedure, and performed a partial ASD closure – made the hole between the top two chambers of her heart smaller. She was only in the hospital for 4 days after the surgery, which Heather remarked, “… was insane! Our long road to this surgery had finally met its end. Natalie was discharged from the hospital and you would never know. That same day of release she was running in the backyard of my parents’ home in Minnesota, jumping on furniture, and scaring me to death—I mean, she just had heart surgery!”

This amazing Mama had a few parting words. “It was hard not having any family in Colorado when we found out all of this information. I was so thankful that the surgery was in Minnesota so we could have support. Long distance support is great, but being near those people just helps so much more. When Alanna has her surgery, we know how many people we have to lean on! I feel like it’s going to be more challenging with her being an older child who is completely aware of what is happening and will have real fears. But we will deal with that when we get there. I’ve seen a lot of families go through so much worse than us. I can’t tell you how many Ebstein families I’m connected to on Facebook who have lost their babies. It’s so heartbreaking, and that’s just Ebstein’s Anomaly. There are so many heart defects that take so many lives. It’s a different world with so many struggles. We really are the lucky ones!”

What a beautiful and encouraging story that shines light into such a heart strong journey! Band of Mamas sends best wishes to any of these cardiac kids and families facing the struggles, procedures, or even surgery in their future. 

XO,

Linds

This post contains advertisements and by clicking the link, I may receive a commission but at no cost to you. See my full disclosure form HERE


Mama Advice

Sleep, Baby, Sleep

Babies are so beautiful when they first come home. They sleep the majority of the day while you are able to catch up on some rest yourself. They require very little, other than feeding and changing and snuggling and loving.

But then one day they start sleeping a little less. And you can tell they are starting to get their days and nights figured out. And now, what do I do? I can’t possibly function if baby is up all night and then I’m supposed to be awake all day! 

One of my strengths has been teaching my children to sleep through the night. Julia was sleeping 12-13 hours by 3 months, and Brooks, Mama’s little charmer, since 10 weeks. That’s right–through the night. This means no feeding or changing or wake-ups. This means I was able to go back to work at 12 weeks and get a full 8-9 hours of sleep. I not only read a few books I will share some tidbits from, I also got advice from other Mamas.

The two books I read and highly recommend:

Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp: https://amzn.to/2BoyF3o

Harvey Karp, Pediatrician and magic maker, is a fabulous resource for a logical approach to soothing your child and ultimately helping him or her catch many hours of sleep. In turn, you shall sleep, too! He bases his theory on the 5 S’s: Swaddle, Side/Stomach, Shhh, Swinging, and Suck. Check him out on Dr. Phil here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_64-LbhT3M. Using this combination of moves turns on your child’s calming reflex. Karp began to notice patterns between babies and started to see how easy it can be to calm a babe using these strategies. This is one of those books that as you read it, you find yourself nodding and thinking… This makes sense

Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg:   https://amzn.to/2BoAptd

I consider this woman my lifesaver on so many accounts. She not only details different types of babies, she also goes into great detail on how to connect with all types as well. I got this book after Julia was a few months old, and let me tell you… after Brooks was born, this book was the BEST tool for our whole family. She also teaches you how to “undo” different bad habits (like rocking baby to sleep), help baby sleep soundly, and lastly [and most importantly] create space in your day for “You time.” That’s right. You want to shower? Read this book! You want to take a nap? You’ll learn how to create this time. To anyone out there, this book is the one you should give to a new Mama.

Create your Own Routine

Above all, I think it’s safe to say that you and your family will get into your own routine. It doesn’t really matter what you do, it just matters that you create a routine and stick to it. One thing Tracy says in her book is “Start as you mean to go on.” And by this, you need to establish baby’s schedule as soon as you are able. When Brooks was 8 weeks old he had his days and nights figured out, so I began his nighttime routine at 6:00: bath time, jammies, and “night time milk” with a little extra to stuff him full. He went to bed tightly swaddled, laid on his back, sound machine on, and a kiss goodnight no later than 6:30. He would stir [awake] for a few minutes and then he would be out. I wanted bed time by 6:30 to ensure that when I went back to work he could get a solid 12 hours of sleep. I had a few friends read a few other books about helping their child get on a routine, and they turned themselves upside down trying to do what the book was suggesting… do what is right for YOU. If you are losing your mind trying to do it, it’s probably not right or not the right time. Don’t lose your mind over it. 

I enforced the “Dream Feed” at 10:30 for a few weeks. I would give him a 2-4 oz bottle of milk without undoing his swaddle or turning the light on. This would give him enough milk to hold him through the night until our wake time, which is at 6:00. (Ross and I both work and we are out the door by 6:45 everyday). I gradually crept up the time slot by small increments and after about 2 weeks he was sound asleep all night long and no longer needed that dream feed bottle. If he woke earlier than that, I would use the pacifier until he realized he could do it on his own. 

Aside from creating a routine that works for your family, I also have a few products I’m certain contributed to their fabulous sleeping habits.

  1. The First Years Sound Machine: ($19) I discovered this sound machine after Julia was born and used it with Brooks. It is HANDS DOWN the best one I have seen or tried. The soft light feature is the perfect illumination for doing a diaper change mid-sleep without having babe adjust to the light. It can be used with batteries or plugged in!
  2. Halo Fleece Sleepsack: ($22) I had a few of these and used them with both kids. You can make the wrap really tight to keep babe’s arms tight to their body.
  3. Rock and Play Sleeper: ($50-$90) I swear by this as a place to help baby distinguish between naps and nighttime sleep. It’s easy to transport, it keeps baby elevated after daytime feeds, and is just a cozy little spot to snooze.   
  4. Julia was still in the crib, so I placed this Lifenest mattress in the Pack and Play; it worked like a charm! Brooks is swaddled tight in a fleece sleepsack to stay warm in the MN winter.
    Ubimed Lifenest Mattress: ($78) Although this isn’t a necessity… I truly believe this was a contributing factor in two things. One: my kids both have very nice, round heads. Second: It creates a sort of womb-like feeling and they lie peacefully on their backs. It goes right atop the normal crib mattress, and I took it out as soon as babes began to roll from back to tummy. 
  5. Aden & Anais Muslin Swaddle Blankets: ($27) Are… incredible. They are a fabulously large size, stretchy enough to wrap babe so very tight, and also stylish! I used these for naps during the day.

Sleep is a magical thing. We all need it, we all want our kids to sleep, yet it’s a struggle for so many new parents. My Mama advice for today is not to write off what advice other Mamas [or the paid experts] may give you about helping your kid sleep.  Don’t dismiss it right away–Oh, that won’t work for us… You’re right! It might not work. BUT. You won’t know until you try

I hope you found some helpful tips about sleep here today! If you would like any other advice about how I did this or have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me; I would love to help you catch some zzzzzzs.

XO, 

Lindsay

This post contains advertisements and by clicking the link, I may receive a commission but at no cost to you. See my full disclosure form HERE

Feature Mama of the Month

“It’s a Very Millie Christmas”

As you drive north on Highway 7 through Anoka, MN, the city starts to fade and the roads become windier. Just through Ramsey, you’ll arrive in Oak Grove. Although it’s considered “country” to most, married couple Daine & Greta Randall think they’re still too close to the city. These two, who met and fell in love at a young age, got married in 2013. The couple enjoys taking camping trips in their camper, visiting state parks, and rescuing adorable pups. Daine, a civil engineer in the oil and gas field, also enjoys woodworking and creating beautiful furniture as a hobby. She, a dedicated and bubbly elementary school teacher, knew at a young age that she was destined to become a Mama someday. Daine & Greta knew right away they wanted to have a family, and although they didn’t “try” to conceive, they weren’t stopping anything from happening from the very beginning.

However, time progressed and the couple continued to see negative pregnancy tests month after month. Her doctors suggested ovulation kits and assumed there was no reason they wouldn’t get pregnant naturally–after all, she was healthy and young! So, they moved forward with the ovulation kits and decided to try for a while longer. Time passed and after another year she was watching her cycle and trying to time things, all to no avail. Greta & Daine went in and moved forward with an HSG (Hysterosalpingogram) procedure. This procedure is used to determine whether the fallopian tubes are open; they inject a dye into the cervix and use an x-ray to examine. Greta’s results showed that her tubes were, in fact, open. Similarly, Daine also had testing done at this point, and his tests came back normal as well. The couple was diagnosed with “unexplained infertility.” There seemed to be no biological reason why the two were unable to conceive. Greta reflected, “I’ve always wanted to be a mom and when it became a reality that I might not be… was devastating. You get married and get pregnant. That’s what it supposed to happen.”

They were referred to a local clinic and moved forward with three IUI procedures and three timed cycles with the trigger shot. After six attempts they were still not pregnant. At this point in the story Greta paused to share that, “The frustration and emotion behind all of this and the stress it puts on your marriage is hard. Every cycle you’re so hopeful and you’re so excited because you think this time will be the one that will work. The negative pregnancy tests month after month after month are wearing…” The two decided to take a break from the process because, as Greta put it, is so taxing.

When they decided to pick up the process again, she felt like the clinic was not matching her expectations, or perhaps there was another approach they should be trying. She did some research and the couple moved clinics. Upon reviewing their history, the new clinic suggested that because the IUI and timed cycles weren’t working, they should move forward with IVF. After a lot of consideration, they moved forward with it all–injections, monitoring, surgery for the egg retrieval, and the overall process to get ready for it was really intense.

Everything went well from a medical standpoint; Greta responded well to the drug she was using–Lupron. The process is setup to grow as many eggs as you can so when they are retrieved, the more eggs there are, the more embryos that can possibly be created. Her body over-responded to the medication and ended up with 31 eggs. This might sound like a positive thing– to over-create eggs; however, this OHSS (Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome) created a problem. They would not be able to do the transfer because her body was so sick. She recalled, “It was super emotional because you have been through this whole process and you’re excited to do the transfer but you have to wait six more weeks.” So, after their several years wait, they were finally ready for the first transfer. And to their dismay, it didn’t work.

Greta felt, sadly, Oh my gosh, how could it not work? “You get to a point where you think this HAS to work because this is the last step if we ever want to have a baby. It was so crushing… we’ve been through so much to get here… this is hard.” She remembers feeling so sad that even the happy things–like being with friends, going out and doing social things with other couples, it just didn’t sound at all like something she wanted to do. It was difficult to hear of anyone being pregnant. “Of course you’re happy for people, but you just don’t want to hear about it, and it’s a really dark place to be…” She remembered, “getting the paperwork and staring at the $30,000 bill. And the whole time you’re reminding yourself that this might not work. Just because there are embryos doesn’t mean there is a baby… this isn’t a guarantee.”

So then, they waited again. The next procedure would have to wait another six weeks. With this comes more injections to get your body ready. Her doctor also suggested a uterine scratch; the idea behind this procedure is that it ultimately forces the uterus to “heal” and rebuild itself and give it a fresh surface for the transfer. Daine and Greta discussed with their doctor, the desire to implant two embryos in the next try. They weighed the pros and cons and decided that they were willing to accept any and all challenges if that meant they would be pregnant. So in December of 2017, they implanted two embryos. And their Christmas wish came true! On December 15 they found out they were pregnant with twins.

Their joy, though, was quickly hit with the sadness that came with their first ultrasound. Baby A had a very strong heartbeat; however, Baby B’s was weak. The ultrasound tech went to get another machine and Greta recalled, “The room got so quiet. You could sense something wasn’t right…” Baby B had a faint heartbeat but it wasn’t strong. The doctors decided to monitor closely. Soon after, at the 7-8 week ultrasound, the couple discovered that Baby B had not survived. Greta remembers thinking, “The things that go with that are you’re so happy and overwhelmed that you’re finally pregnant–that high is so extreme; but then losing one is incredibly hard to deal with because it’s such an opposite emotion. We were finally going to have a baby and we lost one at the same time. We decided that this was meant to be and God gave us this baby… as hard as it was, we tried not to overthink it because, we have this baby.”

Greta shared how much she loved being pregnant. She was one of those beaming Mamas who rarely had a complaint. They decided to wait until the baby was born to find out the gender. Other than some swelling and an early induction due to high blood pressure, Greta and Daine welcomed their beautiful little Millie Jeanne Randall on August 5 at 5:39 AM via C-section. She was 6.9 lbs & 19” long. A tiny little miracle.

This Mama was the first to reach out to me and want to share her story. I can’t even express how much I was just in awe of her and her desire to want to connect her experience with so many others who are going through these same motions. She shared through some tears (me, too, on so many different occasions throughout our interview), “This time of year can be hard. It’s hard in general, but this time of year… Christmas was so hard. You are trying so hard and yet you’re not pregnant. I love Christmas and these last few years I didn’t want any part of it. Shopping, going out, nothing… you want this one gift and there’s nothing you can do to get it. My hope is that someone reads this and if they’re going through this, that they feel validated–it’s ok to feel those things. It’s not an easy journey. It’s a dark place to be and you feel frustrated, mad, and alone. But you’re not. And the more we continue to talk about this as a society, the more accepting we are and can help one another. So many couples experience some form of infertility and you think, Oh, that won’t be me. But then it is, and once you start talking you find this network of people who are there with you, too. I’m not trying to knock people who haven’t been through it, but it’s not the same. You can try to be empathetic… but having people who are in your shoes, is different.”

To close, Greta shared that she would love to be an open and willing ear to any Mamas out there struggling with infertility. If you would like to get in touch with Greta please comment below. To anyone going through this experience this Christmas, you are not alone. I am just one small part of this gigantic Band of Mamas we’re forming; there are people out there who would love to be there for you!

XO,
Linds

This post contains advertisements and by clicking the link, I may receive a commission but at no cost to you. See my full disclosure form HERE


My Mama Blogs

That Moment When they Aren’t a Baby Anymore.


It’s happened. I remember a few weeks ago when I was changing Brooks’ diaper… that he sort of arched his back and tried to squirm away from me. I kindly tickled him, turned him over, and he acquiesced. But then… just this week, he didn’t acquiesce. Instead, he squirmed and wriggled and tried to get away from me while slamming his pudgy little hands on the ground and grunting at me. “Ahem. Say what?”

What happened to my sweet little baby? Can anyone relate? That very moment when you realize Oh Snap! He’s not a little baby anymore! is so humbling. You had your first kid and you realized they weren’t perfect in a similar fashion. But then the second kid comes around and you think, again, so naively, They’re going to be the sweetest! They’re going to be different! And then they aren’t. And you are slapped in the face with reality and it comes in the form of a kick to the stomach or whack to the face.

IMG_8925And then though, miraculously, you’re home with food poisoning. (Ok this was literally me on Sunday after Thanksgiving.) You’re strung out on the couch while Daddy does dinner, dishes, and puts kids to bed. And your toddler, you know–the one who’s been bossing you around like it’s her job? She’s rubbing your forehead, giving you hugs and kisses, and singing you songs. She’s saying “Mama you’re not feeling so much?” And you remember those moments where she once squirmed from you when you tried to change her diaper.

You remember the time she fitted in the kitchen and threw a stuffed animal in the air at the tender age of 14 months. You think back to yesterday when she sat on the floor in your car and refused to get in her carseat before work. But then… this precise moment happens and all those bad ones are erased. You look at her and think to yourself: She’s listening. She’s watching. She’s learning from me. And your heart melts into a thousand pieces and you awe and marvel at her. Because you know that she learned it from you. And then you look at him and you think: Someday I’ll say the same things about you, too.

IMG_8817
These are Julia’s best friends!

I know those unfortunate and trying moments will continue to come and test my patience and sanity. But I also know that this had to have been part of God’s plan when he created children. That they would test us, yet in turn they would learn the notably awesome qualities we teach them as well: Kindness, Love, Respect, Tenderness, and Sensitivity–the list goes on. And then we would look at ourselves and remember that we are their models and to continue to demonstrate these qualities as often as humanly possible–particularly when they make mistakes. I know that IMG_8731they still love me when I make mistakes, so it’s only fair to show that in return.

And in those moments, where you see those qualities shine through, hug them. Tell them how proud it makes you to see them demonstrate those qualities. Remind them you’ll continue to do the same for them when they are sick. That you’ll be there to support them no matter what. Because even in those moments where you realize they aren’t babies anymore and they’re going to test your patience in new and unprecedented ways, just around the corner is that unexpected affection and sweetness that erases those bad moments away. I promise.

XO,

Linds

This post contains advertisements and by clicking the link, I may receive a commission but at no cost to you. See my full disclosure form HERE

My Mama Blogs

My Favorite Kid Foods

Let’s get one thing straight. I was the Mama who, on my first go round, made homemade baby food from organic fruits and vegetables, used grass-fed beef stock to flavor food, and didn’t introduce sweets until Jules’ first birthday. On my second go round, Brooks was eating real table food by 9 months, has had sweets, and tons of processed food. I’m not even going to say Oops. I’m going to admit that I’m totally seeing things at face value. I used to wonder “Why would I do things differently the second time around?” But now I understand.

I am a self-admitted different Mama this time around. And I’m ok with it. I love my kids equally even though I have done things differently. Because I’m cooking for two little ones and essentially, our family, I’m trying to minimize options and keep it simple at mealtime! I want to share my favorite [processed] foods that my kids approve 😃

1. Carrot Veggie Fries (several flavors!)

2. Italian Style Veggies

3. Kodiak Cakes Waffles *disclaimer… these technically have to be “made” but it’s something fun Julia and I do together. So I count this as processed, easy, and a win! This mix can also be used to make muffins. We have done apple flavored muffins that were to die for!

4. GoGo Squeeze Food Pouches

5. Oikos Triple Zero Yogurt

6. Happy Family Baby Teethers

7. Annie’s Organic Bunny Snacks

8. Organic Sun Maid Raisins

9. Simply Balanced Organic Juice Boxes

10. Simply Smart Organic Chicken Breast Strips (my kids’ fav!)

11. Pirate’s Booty Aged White Cheddar Puffs

12. Annie’s Mac & Cheese

I’m also a fan of having a variety of things in the freezer to grab and serve on the fly. Here are some of my kids’ favorites in the name of saving time when it comes to meals!


30419977_10101379530218346_1815504213513821847_oFrozen French Toast

1. Make a big batch of French Toast and keep it in a Reusable Freezer bag in the freezer. I make a whole loaf at a time, and it’s the perfect go-to on the weekends.

You will need:

  • A loaf of healthy wheat bread (I use Arnold 12-Grain)
  • 12 eggs
  • Milk (1/2 cup maybe, I eye it)
  • Splash of vanilla
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon
  • I get out my large electric skillet and brown them up. Let them cool, throw them in a gallon freezer bag, and voila! Breakfast is ready. I throw them in the toaster when I pull them out. Delicious and toddler approved 👍🏽 serve with apple sauce, almond butter, or peanut butter for the babes and a bit of almond butter or syrup for the older kids!

Shredded Chicken

2. I make shredded chicken every few months and then put it in separate freezer bags. I use it for various things– quesadillas, pasta, and tacos!

You will need:

  • Buy a family pack of boneless, skinless chicken thighs.
  • Get your crockpot out!
  • Spray the pot and put your thighs in there. I salt and pepper each side.
  • Add a little chicken broth or water to the pot.
  • Turn on low for 8 hours.
  • Shred with a fork when you get home, drain the liquid, and put the meat in freezer bags!

Frozen “Pouches” IMG_2289

3. I do like to make some frozen grab and go food pouches with random fresh fruits and veggies in them. Before Julia was born I purchased these reusable pouches (linked below) that are BPA free and freezer safe. They were a great investment and saved me a ton of time! And money 😉

You will need:

  • Reusable food pouches or freezer safe food containers.
  • A variety of fresh fruits. My go-to selections are Fuji Apples, Blueberries, and Bananas.
  • A variety of fresh veggies. My go-to selections are Sweet Potatoes (I boil them first and then let them cool), Spinach, & Carrots.
  • I do different varieties of the above fruits and veggies, add some fresh, unflavored Greek Yogurt to add some thickening consistency. I sprinkle a little cinnamon, a spoonful of Almond Butter, and blend together!
  • I fill the pouches, label and date them, and throw them in the freezer. If we’re using them during the week I will take them out and let them thaw in the fridge and then use them within a few days. They are perfect for a grab and go in the summer because they are a healthy, cool treat!

Do you have any helpful tips for managing baby and toddler food and snacks? Please feel free to comment below! Be sure to join us in the Band of Mamas Facebook group and Instagram feed for other notifications for stories, ideas, and tips!

Cheers to happy babes & toddlers with lots of good food to eat!

XO,

Linds

This post contains advertisements and by clicking the link, I may receive a commission but at no cost to you. See my full disclosure form HERE

My Mama Blogs

Small Business Saturday


According to Forbes “50% of the working population (120 million individuals) work in a small business” and help contribute to our economy in significant ways. Small Business Saturday is upon us and these companies depend on consumers to help keep their businesses flourishing.

A small business can range from any number of things: a company with fewer than 500 employees, a home-based marketing company with one sole owner, or even a direct sales company seller, like a Mama you know. Many of these Mamas are working full time, while also trying to earn extra income selling products many of us already use: makeup like Younique, dish rags and home products like Norwex, energy drinks and nutritious shakes like Shakeology, or even an online wholesale company like Amway.  These people are earning a living for their families by selling you products to use in your home.

Small Business Saturday is a fantastic way to shop this holiday season! Here are a few suggestions–both local and across that US, that Band of Mamas loves!

  1. Beautycounter has many direct-sales reps who would love to support your movement to safer beauty. Shop clean and small! I highly recommend the Balancing Oil & the charcoal cleansing bar! Screen Shot 2018-11-24 at 10.54.42 AM.png
  2. Taj Salon & Spa not only has a high end salon & spa with amazingly talented stylists, but a Boutique to visit after your services are over.
  3. Heights Bakery is a quaint little bakery on Central Ave. in Fridley; don’t be fooled by its outdoor appearance, their bakery items are to die for!
  4. The Coffee Shop NE has a delicious drink called the Mangler… if you’re looking for a non-alcoholic buzz, try this one with a shot of white chocolate! You can also purchase little souvenir gifts or paintings here, as well.
  5. Lauriebelle’s located in the small town of Tea, SD, is an incredibly cute, chic, and affordable boutique! Shop online now for some seriously cute new releases!
  6. Parkway Pizza has several locations in the Minneapolis area, and we frequent theProcessed with VSCO with c3 preset NE location on Johnson St. Try my favorite concoction: regular crust with sausage (their sausage is insanely delicious), banana peppers, and basil. It will change your life!
  7. Jenson’s & I Appeal in downtown Anoka, MN. Ok. To be honest, I was always jealous of my friends who got to shop here. It’s been a while since I’ve gone in, but it’s the 41396127_10101498287018766_3307291320917164032_nmost chic and trendy clothing store around! Be sure to check out all their departments from teens, kids, to women!
  8. Eagle’s Nest in New Brighton, MN is the best indoor play place for the kids! When it’s cold or raining, take your kids here to burn off some energy!
  9. Rodney K Press has cute children’s books and some home decor for sale as well!
  10. Nickel & Suede lightweight leather earrings are seriously my favorite. I get compliments on them all the time! Their earring of the month is only $18 dollars and the perfect gift for any Mama in your life!

If you’re like me, you like to support those around you in any way possible. So if you’re out shopping today, or even from the comfort of your home, consider supporting a small business on this beautiful Saturday! And if you’re feeling extra supportive, share your favorite blog online to the people in your network 😉

Happy shopping, Mamas!

XO,

Linds

This post contains advertisements and by clicking the link, I may receive a commission but at no cost to you. See my full disclosure form HERE

My Mama Blogs

Stocking Stuffer Mania

Band of Mamas is always looking for ways to simplify just about everything: shopping lists, holiday planning, in-home organization, you name it!

One of my best friends gave me the idea for Christmas and birthdays to buy, “Something you Want, Something you Need, Something to Wear, Something to Read” for each member of the family. This has helped my husband and me stay in line and to keep us from spending overboard.

In the meantime, Julia and I sat down and looked up stocking stuffer gifts for the whole family because those are universal! Take a peek at some of the ideas for people in every age group at $25 or less. I consider a lot of these could also be a “Santa” gift on Christmas morning, too. Every family does it differently–we have some various small things in the stockings like chapstick, candy, socks, etc… and then one fun Santa gift. Hopefully you can find something cute from one of these lists! Happy Shopping, Mamas!

For Mama:

  1. Bombas Ankle Socks ($12)
  2. Glass Nail File & Case ($10)
  3. It’s a 10 Miracle Leave In Hair Product ($12)
  4. Popsocket Collapsable Grip & Stand ($10)
  5. Wooden Oil Diffuser ($15)
  6. Acure Brightening Fask Mask ($8)
  7. Silicone Face Mask Brush ($5)
  8. Nickel & Suede Leather Earrings ($18)
  9. Thread Wallet: Meadow ($15)
  10. Hydro Flask 12 oz. Water Bottle ($22)

For Dad:

  1. Bombas Ankle Socks ($12)
  2. Yeti Coffee Mug ($25)
  3. Wide Angle Lens for iPhone ($22)
  4. Round Ice Cube Trays ($14)
  5. No-Fog Shower Mirror ($13)
  6. Kona Grill Brush [SAFE] ($20)
  7. Jelly Wireless Mouse ($18)
  8. Olber iPhone & iWatch Charging Station ($18)
  9. Thread Wallet: Vertical Card Holder ($20)
  10. Hydro Flask 12 oz. Water Bottle ($22)

Teens:

  1. Thread Wallet Vertical Card Holder ($15)
  2. Arteck Backlit Bluetooth Keyboard ($19)
  3. Pura Vida Moon Bracelet ($15)
  4. Nickel & Suede Leather Earrings ($18)
  5. Bombas Ankle Socks ($12)
  6. Popsocket Collapsable Grip & Stand ($10)
  7. Wide Angle Lens for iPhone ($17)
  8. Sota Clothing Water Bottle $15)
  9. Glass Nail File & Case ($10)
  10. Sota Tortoise Sunglasses ($15)

Toddler  (Boy/Girl):

  1. Crayola Magic Light Brush ($13)
  2. Velcro Catch Game ($10)
  3. Wooden Shape Puzzle ($8)
  4. 6-in1 Card Game Set ($7)
  5. Playdough ($8)
  6. Giraffe’s Can’t Dance Book ($5)
  7. Sidewalk Chalk ($3)
  8. Cartoon Matryoshka Animals ($19)
  9. Dinosaur Plush Pillow ($9)
  10. Princess Poppy Water Bottle ($7)

Gift Cards for All:

    1. Caribou or Starbucks (hello, delicious coffee)
    2. Jimmy Johns or Subway
    3. iTunes
    4. Amazon
    5. Target

XO, Linds

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My Mama Blogs

Gift Ideas for Mama & Dad

I’m always looking for new ideas in the way of gifts. Ross is really hard to buy for because he generally only wants Fishing Gift Cards. [LAME!]

So, I spent some time scouring blogs and Instagram feeds to gather some fresh new ideas for Mama & Daddy for Christmas this year. There are items in various price points. Hopefully you can gather some ideas before Black Friday mania!

For Mama

Gift Card Ideas (MN Local Only)

Taj Salon & Spa

Black Sheep Pizza

Upstairs Circus DIY & Bar

Sovereign Estate Winery


For Dad

Gift Card Ideas (MN Local Only)

Thorne Brothers Custom Rod & Tackle

10k Brewery

Top Golf

Pig Ate My Pizza

**notes items we already own and love!

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My Mama Blogs

The Outdoorsman’s Wife

Where are my hunting and fishing widow-Mamas? You’re out there holding the fort down while your husband is chasing fish and deer around. Similarly, we’re chasing the kids!

I am all for hobbies, doing things you love, and supporting your spouse. But… I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t hard sometimes. I miss Ross while he’s away. It’s hard doing all of the parenting by myself and keeping the kids occupied while also taking my own break from work. But I do know that recharging the batteries [figuratively and literally–in the boat ;)] is important. I grew up in a family of hunters and fishermen. A vivid memory from my childhood includes my brother Erik and me with our faces painted camouflage while whispering in a duck blind in Osakis, MN.

One weekend this summer though, when Ross left, I don’t think it was on the best of terms. This happens sometimes… anyone else? I was probably feeling resentful because I didn’t want him to go. Sometimes I get jealous of the time away… and not so much that I want time away, but that I wish I was more appreciated during that time. These are all things Ross and I have had to work through with two children and a home and work and family and our relationship. It’s a continued work in progress.

I love my husband, and I fully support his love of fishing. Sometimes though, for me, there are things I just wish I could say out loud but never do. For whatever reason, it is easier for me to write them out instead.

So to all the outdoorsmans’ wives out there… this one’s for you!
 

“Ode to the Outdoorsman”

Your bags are stuffed. Your truck is packed.

Your rods are lined with lures and perfectly stacked.

You’ve plotted your points and graphed out your spots.

You’ve planned your trip out, your lines without knots.

 

You’ve polished your rifle and zeroed in your scope.

You’ve put your stands up and have begun to hope.

Will this be the year the 4X4 runs by?

Or will you head out again because your luck ran dry?

 

Another weekend has arrived, where you will be away.

But the children here will need Mama to stay.

When you say goodbye, say thank you to your wife.

She holds down the fort, so your dreams come to life.

 

While you’re away, chasing that big one,

She’s at home with your daughter and son.

She’s thinking of you, hoping it’s relaxing.

She’s managing it all, but it’s certainly taxing.

 

When you say goodbye, hug her with meaning.

Look at her and thank her for this time you are needing.

You might think she should do it, but it’s really not her thing.

Instead when you get back, it’s extra love you must bring.

 

Call her often and text her to check in.

Remind her you are grateful for the time you’ve been given.

She can do it without complaining, she can do it without tears.

Remind her you appreciate her still, after all these years.

 

She’s feeding and changing and cleaning and cooking.

She’s counting the minutes ’til you’re back home and looking

To help make up for the time that was lost.

To whisper sweet nothings and show extra love without cost.

 

Before you go, please remember all of this.

Enjoy your time. Do your thing. But know it’s you we will miss.

We know you’ll be thinking of us as you’re free,

So send us your love until it’s home you will be.

XO,

Linds

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Mama Advice, My Mama Blogs

Type A Scheduling in Action

Anyone who knows me knows a few certain things. 1: I am super detailed. For instance, this summer I threw my best friend a bachelorette img_2249party. I color-coded an Excel spreadsheet so beautifully even a stranger could discern what each person was supposed to do. 2: I love to plan things out. I may drive my husband (friends, family, what have you!) up a wall when I do this, but I don’t enjoy flying by the seat of my pants anymore. With two kids who are little and require constant supervision, I need the stability of creating a schedule. 3: I thrive on organization. My closets and cupboards are neatly organized with baskets and bins to keep things easy to access. The last thing I need in the middle of the night is to know where the extra thermometer ear lenses are. Ok. I get it. This sounds so lame! But really, I think I take my kids’ temps multiple times a week in the winter.

And… I would say this to his face, so it’s ok to say that my husband is one of those guys who’s like…

“Linds? Where did you put my fishing mask?”

Me: “It’s in the closet in the basket on the right.”

Ross: “You’re always moving my stuff. It’s not there.”

Me: [walking upstairs to point it out because it might not be in plain site, but rather, underneath an item in that very basket.] “It is here. Right here, in this basket. You just had to lift this other mask. Clean. Washed. Right where it should be when laundry is put away…” Maybe not in those exact words, but have you recalled a conversation like this with someone in your home? Being organized helps me manage everyone else’s belongings in my house, too 🙂

There are a few things that Type A behavior supports.

First, my kids are predictable. They have the same routine in the morning, afternoon, and evening/bedtime. They both sleep for 11-12+ hours every night and very seldom do they deter from this. On the weekends I am more flexible with bedtime and nap-time for our toddler, but I try my hardest to stay close to it. No one likes a child who is exhausted,
including themselves! Because they are so predictable, it’s very easy for me to recognize when they are sick. This is helpful to me!

Second, being a scheduler also helps our after work/end of day transition period more manageable. When I get home from work, our meals are already planned so we aren’t scrambling around trying to get dinner ready while the kids are experiencing their end of day crash. *Stay tuned for a post dedicated to “End of Day Kid Crash” in a few weeks!* I typically try and do most of my grocery pickup on a weekend morning and meal prep for the week on Sunday afternoons. This saves incredible amounts of time.

Screen Shot 2018-09-25 at 12.45.02 PMThird, planning ahead of time also makes me feel grounded. This life we live, in 2018… is fast. My kids are young, and we haven’t even hit “Sports Age” yet. Just two, full-time working parents raising young children is busy enough. Throw in extended family time, date nights, or playdates, and time flies. When I have a schedule planned out, I can see what our time looks like and make sure we have downtime to just Be. To just relax and watch a movie. Catch up on sleep. Snuggle on the couch. Cramming too much into our lives causes time to fly by too fast. I recently saw this meme and thought… Has there ever been a truer statement? 

Kids thrive on routines, so why shouldn’t adults? I’ve shared a few things if you’re looking for more organization in your life. Some of these things have helped me manage my time!

  • Plan out your meals by the month. By doing this I not only have variety in our meals, I can ensure I stick within a financial budget and don’t end up at the store twice a week. On Sunday I go to the store and buy what we need–either for one week or two, depending on how many fresh items we need. I usually end up going once a week, but the off week is a quick trip for milk or bananas, not a full cart of food. I recently discovered the app Mindful MenuIf you’re looking for a way to maximize your grocery cart and time, check this out!
  • Use online shopping and delivery or pickup services. This saves exponential amounts of time! There are two that I use frequently and have found to be amazing: HyVee (my favorite!) and Walmart. They both have an online app where you pre-select your groceries. They shop, bag, and put them in your car– all you have to do is drive up. Walmart is always free for standard grocery pickup, and if you spend $100 or more, HyVee is free. By doing this, I save myself hours of shopping and hauling.

  • Create a routine that works for your family. It honestly doesn’t matter what you choose. You will pick the best “times” for everything according to your family’s needs. We fell into a nice routine with Julia and then when Brooks was born we naturally followed the same steps. The kids know exactly what’s coming and expect it. There are no surprises and then on a night when we are up later (with cousins, at the cabin, for example), the kids can handle it and enjoy a special treat.
  • Create Clear Expectations for your kids in terms of bedtime and sleep–pick a bedtime and keep it. My kids go to bed every night, with very little from Ross or me. They don’t get out of their bed, they don’t cry, and bedtime doesn’t take long. I tuck Julia in, we read a book, say our prayers, and it’s hug and kiss goodnight. Since Brooks has been 6 weeks, he’s been sleeping through the night with nothing other than a hug and kiss, his sleep sack, and his pacifier. I’ll share my secrets about sleep training in a blog to come!
  • Determine Spousal Roles as early as possible when kids are born. Figure out what it is you can’t live without doing yourself, and do those things without resentment. I owned all the bottle washing and pump parts since day one. It was hard for me because I really would have liked to put down the bottle brush, but I didn’t trust Ross to get them clean enough! So instead, while I do the dishes, he tends to the kids after dinner so that I can finish cleaning up uninterrupted! When Brooks started his nighttime routine, Ross and I talked and decided I’d tackle Brooks while he tackled Julia’s routine. Win Win for all! Each kid gets one on one time, which is an added bonus.


People thrive on predictability and are generally more successful when we aren’t throwing curve balls on the daily. Keep it simple for yourself and your family. You will thank yourself later for keeping your kids on a schedule.

I will probably write more about my crazy Type A organizational habits and scheduling in many blogs to come! I am happy to help people in need, as well. So if there’s something in your life you’d like help with, please reach out!

XO,

Linds

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My Mama Blogs

Why am I so Two-Faced?

My handsome and fun little Brooks is 10 months old today. Born on Christmas night, he will IMG_7839forever be my favorite Christmas present. And today marks the day that my husband and I will take our first trip away from our babies. I can’t wait to get away from all of the stress of work, home craziness, and responsibilities. Having said that, why am I sad? There are a few reasons I have in mind.

The first: Yesterday I posted on Instagram & Facebook about how I reached the end of my exclusive pumping journey this week. We made it 10 whole months! Holy cow! Add up the hours, product, and washing, and you’ve got some serious emotions running through this Mama. Sad. Grateful. Worried. Happy. Proud. Lucky. Ecstatic. If I’m lucky my Type A personality will sometimes think about logic, so we kicked those emotions to the curb this morning and put some concrete numbers to this whole thing. This means that I’ve spent:

IMG_8169Approximately 2 hours a day (4x/day, 30 minutes each–setup, pump, disassemble ;)) for 300 days. That’s 600 hours of pumping! 

Approximately 80 oz. a day output between pumps (oversupply). That’s 24,000 ounces of breastmilk!  

Approximately 30 minutes a day washing bottles, pump parts, and sanitizing. That’s 150 hours of cleaning! 

Mamas! This math is not made up. It’s real. And it’s tangible. So why on earth am I feeling sad about allimg_1960 of this time that I’ve spent when now I have this newfound freedom? I’m so two-faced! I like to believe it’s because we are Mamas are just so willing to do whatever it takes for our kids. No matter the length of time or the stretch in our nipples. I’m sorry. I had to go there. I am not going to miss watching my nipples be pulled through those shields. I still remember the very first time they were sucked through the shield so fiercely. First, I was like Ouch! And then I chanted and prayed, Dear Lord, please don’t let them stay this way

This week, aside from all of the craziness with the “end of an era” pumping, I also got this super crazy, weird, eye inflammation. I looked like Cyclops at work, and my students were so filterlessly pointing out that my eye looked horrible. So between parent-teacher conferences this week after work, I also had to throw in an eye doctor visit. I text my husband while I was waiting: “I’m on the verge of tears right now. This is not how I wanted to spend tonight.” I felt so incredibly guilty for being at the eye doctor instead of snuggling my kids and soaking up their hugs before our trip this week. I knew deep down though, that I needed to take care of myself. But it’s so hard…

I’m learning though, that being two-faced is not always a bad thing. It just shows the many sides that we have once we become Mamas and experience all of these new feelings. I know that when I’m gone, my heart longs to be with my kids. I can’t wait to get back to them, let them know how much I love them, and be there for them. But I need to work on the other side of things–enjoying that time away and being in the present in that moment. Because I think those moments are what make up for that lost time and make us be better, refreshed, and rejuvenated when we return.


So I’m going to own this newfound side of me. I’m flaunting my two-faced, full-of-freedom-behind right on to that plane with my husband, and I’m going to enjoy every second of our trip. And if I catch myself feeling any twinge of guilt or longing, I’m going to reflect on the math I just shared with you. Those hours… I can’t ever get back, but they were worth it. And the hours away from my kids on this vacation, well, I can’t get back either. So it seems that logic would say I should enjoy every hard earned minute while I’m away.

XO,

Linds
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Mama Advice

“Managing Unlimited Photos”

My Mama and Dad were recently bought out by the city in which they were living. They packed up all their belongings and headed out. Soon after, the city headed in and bulldozed 20+ years of hard work. With this were so many memories, moments, and love shared both within their business (which was next door!) and their home.

With moving comes that moment where you must touch every single thing you own. YouIMG_0812 make a personal decision: Is it coming with or going away? Through each move my Mama managed to keep every single photo ever taken in our family and toted along several storage bins, boxes, and containers. Recently, she gave me a standard-sized suitcase with all of my photos from growing up. Want 5 pictures of the same mountain? I probably have them. Oh you mean you don’t need 95 action shots of your failed elementary volleyball career? Or the backyard dance routine for the dance team you didn’t make? Seriously though, probably one of my more embarrassing moments of all time. My friend and I were the only two girls who tried out that didn’t make it. Out of like, let’s just round [down] to 50. In all hilarity, it has been so fun perusing through the pile and reflecting back on old memories.

I’ve come across several ideas to help manage photos in today’s snapshot world. With such instantaneous access at our fingertips and unlimited photo storage space on our phones and mobile devices, how are we supposed to keep track of them all? Without photo books laying around, how will my kids be able to enjoy holding an old, faded picture and feel the nostalgia of seeing the smile on their face when they rode their first bike?


Here are a few things I’ve stumbled upon to help organize these photos!

  1. Choose a date that works for you to upload your photos [from your phone] to your computer. Not only is this good backup, it helps free up space on your phone. I do this once every few months and just “clean house.” Yes of course I still keep a handful of my favorites on there to scroll through, but chances are you can also find them elsewhere (Facebook, Instagram, etc.).
  2. Choose an online site that works for you to organize the photos into folders. I use both Google Drive | Photos (for Band of Mamas photos) and Shutterfly.
  3. I currently placed an order with Wall Pics to give our stairway a “lift” and am in love with how easy, simple, and fun this was! This company creates stickable photo tiles for your walls. No nail holes, hammering, or chipping paint? Yes, please! I went on their site, chose 3 photos, chose the size, and submitted my order. They were

    shipped directly to my door shortly after. On the back you’ll find 4 peel off stickers and you just put them on your wall, and Voila! You have a new look. I would have spent significantly more money finding the time to select frames, print photos, hammer in the wall, etc. As a Mama with two wee ones, this is the kind of stuff I’m talking about to save time! And because they understand, Wall Pics is giving Band of Mamas followers 12% off your first order. Just enter bandofmamas12 upon checkout!

  4. One of my co-workers gave me an awesome idea: she creates a book on Shutterfly each year and it’s categorized by month. She adds in fun things the kids say, things they did, trips they took, or things they learned. So rather than doing a scrapbook or baby book of sorts, this is a neatly organized and perfectly aligned, printed book. Shutterfly is always giving out discount codes, so watch for them and you can get your books for cheap!
  5. Visit the site Chatbooks. They will connect directly to your Facebook and Instagram photos. You can go through your pictures, select, and upload. They put them in a cute little book and mail to your home. I recently did this to grab my favorite IG pictures of Julia. I got a code for $5 off my first order for signing up for their email subscription. All for $20 (+ shipping); I’ll be sure to share the experience when I receive it!
  6. I wouldn’t be a “cusp” Millenial if I didn’t think it was still cool to print out actual photos and put them in a book. My Mama will drop off a handful here and there and I just put them in there. Julia LOVES to look through “pitchees” and find all the people she knows. My Mama is the one who goes to Walgreens and prints out photos at the kiosk 🙂
  7. Explore new apps for photos for both editing and shooting. I recently downloaded the photo app Nomo. It’s highlighted feature is that it puts a 90-second delay to show your photo after you take it. This way you don’t end up with 50 crazy shots, but it forces you to think back to the good old days of really posing for photos to get the very best one.
  8. Despite the scowls and scuffs of online haters and trolls, love up on your Facebook timeline and your Instagram posts! My goodness, they date it, store it, and let you share it with all your favorite people. Take advantage! Our parents never had anything like that, and if they did, I wouldn’t have a gigantic suitcase in my basement full of pictures I don’t know what to do with! Thanks, Mama 😉

Managing photos today is so different than long ago! We don’t have bins and totes full of actual photos. But what fun is it if they are all stuck on our little phones? I LOVE going into people’s homes and seeing their smiling families doing whatever it is they love–right there on the wall where we can see it.

Do you have any fun ideas to share on how to keep up with photos in today’s snapshot world? If so, I’d love to read your comments below and share with the Band of Mamas!

Happy snapping!

XO,

Linds

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Feature Mama of the Month

“Layers of Maternal Power”

As she opens her journal, Jessica Garbacz recalls why she wrote in it in the first place. She never wanted to forget the details surrounding an event that would change her life forever. She pages back to the beginning, in May of 2017. She was happily going to her 10 week ultrasound. She and her husband Ben were excited to welcome their third child into their family of four. She had two healthy pregnancies with both of her children; her son Landon (5) and his sister Olivia (3), are adventurous tikes who love the outdoors, swimming at the cabin, and riding the four-wheeler around their neighborhood. Their beautiful home is set outside the city on a large lot with beautiful foliage, a fun play set for the kids, and an incredible view. 

Jessica began the story by sharing that although she had heard a healthy heartbeat at her 10 week ultrasound, she remembers feeling scared because she had some spotting on the morning of her 16.5 week routine appointment. “I did have a little spotting with one of my previous pregnancies, but both of those were healthy all throughout, so I tried not to worry about it. However, I was worried about the fact that I had stopped gaining any weight after the initial few pounds I had put on. This worried me. I asked my Mom and sister to say a prayer for me before my appointment.”

At her appointment, her doctor was unable to locate the baby’s heartbeat. This doctor, whom she had seen with her previous pregnancies, was safe, reassuring, and caring. She got the ultrasound machine and Jessica recalls a distinct look of fear on her face–a look she could never forget. The doctor saw that the baby was curled up and would not allow for a check. She was sent to the large ultrasound room, where the technician was also unable to detect movement or heartbeat. Her tears began instantly, as she realized the baby was no longer alive.

“Why is this happening? What could I have done differently? What did I do wrong?” Were just a few of the questions stirring amidst Jessica’s mind. She called her husband who was in shock and “never expects these kinds of things.” She cried as the doctor explained that it was nothing she did or nothing she could have prevented. These things just happen and each reason is different from one Mama to the next. She was heartbroken.

The doctor explained that because the baby was so far along, she was unable to schedule a D&C and Jessica would have to deliver the baby. They discussed some scenarios of what to expect. She and Ben would come to the hospital on Thursday morning and she would be induced to deliver the baby there at the hospital. Because of its size, she would only need to be dilated to [approximately] a four in order for the baby to pass through. Jessica described to me the pain of that day. How so many questions continued to float through her mind, yet she was forced to make decisions like, “Should we bury the baby and have a ceremony? Should we cremate the baby and spread its ashes?” amongst other things. She tried to stay busy as she prepared for the next day.

That night she felt contractions starting. “They were sort of like period cramps–mild, but I could tell they were getting stronger.” She knew she didn’t want to end up in a situation at home, so she and Ben headed into the hospital. Upon arrival, her cervix was still closed. Although having contractions, the hospital suggested they go home and rest and come back in the morning when she was scheduled to be induced.

Her kids were at their grandparents house overnight, so Ben and Jessica were able to sleep that evening. When she woke up early the next morning she felt fluid coming out of her. As she walked to the bathroom, she could feel the baby coming out. She remembers, “I screamed, ‘Ben!’ so loud. I was able to grab a towel and catch the baby between my legs. Ben came in and was panicked and wasn’t sure what to do, so he called the hospital. The hospital instructed us to call the paramedics; I was crying and had to sit on the floor with the baby between my legs, still attached to the cord. There was so much blood everywhere and we weren’t allowed to cut or clamp the cord because we didn’t have the right tools, and I could have bled out. The cord didn’t look like a normal baby cord–it was only about a foot long and was so thin. I was shaking and crying, while still contracting.”

Shortly after, there were ten new people in their home to help. From paramedics, to firemen, they were able to help Jessica cut the cord and place her baby boy safely on her chest. She remembers making a joke while she was breathing during one of the checks, “I haven’t been able to brush my teeth yet, I’m sorry!” and was able to have a laugh. What a positive attitude, if even for a moment. She told me how every person in her home that morning was so incredibly caring, and one of the paramedics even shared with her that she also lost a baby at 13 weeks. The paramedic offered her a pain pill for the contractions, but she declined. She shared, “I remember thinking that I wanted to feel all the pain of what happened because of the incredible guilt I felt for losing him.”

Jessica and her baby boy were taken to the hospital by ambulance where she was admitted. The paramedic was able to convince her to take the pain medication to help her relax. She hadn’t passed the placenta yet, so the doctor encouraged her to try and go to the bathroom. Once there, Jessica delivered the placenta. It would later be tested for infections or problems that may have caused this devastating loss, but the results showed no significant information.

She told this story with such strength. Jessica and Ben, after a lot of consideration, decided to have a graveside ceremony and burial for the baby at their church. And to keep his memory in their hearts, their family created a memorial in their yard. A beautiful blooming blueberry bush, a blue solar light, and a rock that says, Believe. 19702355_10110135204705460_3951151919244713176_n

Mamas are such amazing beings. To show such love and care while grieving the loss of this little human being, Jessica unfolded another layer of her maternal powers. She said, “I definitely experienced the stages of grief: shock, anger, sadness, and finally acceptance. I believed that everything happens for a reason before, but I wasn’t ready to think about that yet when this first happened. Initially I blamed myself for the loss and questioned, questioned, questioned. After several months I came to accept that everything happens for a reason, that this baby wasn’t mean to be born alive on Earth, and that God has a plan. Having faith in these beliefs has helped me heal and allowed me to forgive myself and give myself grace. I still wonder what happened sometimes and still think about the baby often, but I am more at peace with not knowing and I do not feel guilty. I am at peace with what has happened.”

What an amazing Mama. I am proud to call her one of my longest and most beautiful friends–Inside and out. 💜

Xo,

Linds

In memory of: Baby Garbacz. A little boy weighing 1.23 oz. and 13 cm long 💙 June 8, 2017

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Mama Advice

Choosing Healthy(-ier) Products

In today’s world, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of choices we have to sift through when we’re choosing products to use in our homes. Should I buy organic? Or all natural? Should I buy Non-GMO? These are just a few of the questions that circle my mind when deciding which products to buy.

Several of my very good Mama friends and I have been sharing information and findings on how to make an easy transition into a healthier home. There’s never a better time (than now!) to start making changes. However, if we just up and threw everything away and started over, it would be really expensive. I have slowly been making improvements and would like to share a few helpful tips.

First, choose an area of your home that you would like to start. I began with my kids’ bath products and diaper creams/oils. Their sensitive and new skin deserves the img_0343utmost care and sensitive choices to help keep it soft, smooth, and free from rashes or other skin conditions. We are currently using Honest Company shampoo and body wash along with Beautycounter sunscreen, diaper cream, and baby soothing oil.

Second, I highly suggest you download two different apps:

1. EWGs Healthy Living | Skin Deep

2. Think Dirty

Between these two apps, you will be able to do several things: search food, beauty, and home cleaning products you’re currently using and see how they rate on a toxicity scale (the higher the number, the worse the product is for you), scan barcodes while you’reimg_0340 shopping in the store to see how they rate, give you a list of safer alternatives, and help educate you on chemicals that are used and how they can affect you. For instance, I had been using Neutrogena Grapefruit wash for many many years. I wanted to see how it rated; it scored an 8/10. This was disheartening. I loved the way it made my face feel but felt defeated and knew I could find something safer. Skin Deep suggested the product line Acure, which I absolutely love. I’m currently using the Brilliantly Brightening facial scrub and Seriously Soothing facial cleanser. Win! As part of my nighttime regimen I use Beautycounter Overnight Resurfacing Peel followed up with the Brightening Facial Oil (I am obsessed with this combination 😊).

Third, I am a huge fan of Norwex. If you haven’t used their products yet, I highly suggest img_0540 starting with a set of Kitchen Cloths. They have “BacLock, an antibacterial agent for self-cleansing purposes only. The agent is solely designed to inhibit odor from bacteria, mold and/or mildew growth within the product.” (Norwex 2018) The microfibers serve as an antibacterial holder and scoop up any other germs and messes on your surfaces– and you only use water. Aside from those miraculous rags, my absolute favorite product of theirs is the Window Cloth. I have endless smudges on my windows and storm doors from pudgy toddler hands and fingers. This rag only uses water and magically leaves the windows streak free … no Windex needed in my home anymore! 🙌🏻 I also make some of my own cleaning products using Vinegar and DoTerra Essential oils. In particular, my floor cleaning spray includes Vinegar, Water, and Lemon/Wild Orange essential oils. I use a regular microfiber cloth mop that I throw in the washing machine when I’m done.

Fourth, I mentioned DoTerra essential oils. There are other brands Mamas use, such as: Young Living, Rocky Mountain Oils, and Plant Therapy. I have not used the other brands, but am certain they are wonderful. This summer I got really sick img_0342and had debilitating headaches. Because I’m pumping [breastmilk] I am limited to what I can take. So, instead of popping Excedrin, I have been rubbing peppermint oil on my neck like it’s my job. Within minutes I feel sweet relief. Another constant flow in my diffuser is their proprietary blend, On Guard, which is a clove smelling wonder that helps purify the air I breathe while sick. Bug bites on kids? A little coconut oil and a drop of lavender will do the trick; no itches, no scratching, no scabs. Yes, please! I highly recommend choosing a brand and having a few go-tos on hand. Although I have many different oils, I would say that my most frequently used are: Lavender, Peppermint, and On Guard.

Lastly, remember that it’s a long journey to creating a safer home. It can be really scary once you start reading about the things that are in the products we use. It’s a journey that can begin with a few changes here and there and ultimately help improve overall health and safety in your family’s life. I am learning a lot and I’m considering it a marathon–not a sprint. My home is by no means an entirely safe or chemical-free home just yet. However, I know that it’s something that I can do, for both my family and me! And as I’m learning more and finding out more information, one of the biggest components for me, is that it doesn’t have to be expensive. A lot of safe products are reasonably priced (or cheaper!). And if you’re like me, you have a lot of questions and like to find answers. So, please remember that there are many Mamas within the Band of Mamas who have knowledge of this topic that would love to help. If you have questions, comments, or thoughts to share, please reach out!

Cheers to happy, healthy, and safer homes 😘

XO,

Linds
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My Mama Blogs

Postpartum Pitfalls

Becoming a Mama is one of the most amazing gifts we women get to experience. It’s a precious bond that no man will ever know. We get to help create, nurture, and keep this growing child until he or she is born. Before you know it, it’s time and the baby is coming. You’ve read some of the best material to understand your newborn. You’ve meticulously lined diapers in perfect stacks on the changing table. This little human is the luckiest baby because of all the preparing you’ve done. When you leave the hospital, it’s likely they will discuss and warn about the potential “Baby Blues.” So, you check OUT from the hospital and head home with your newborn. And then, wham! After the labor, delivery, and newborn high wear off, Postpartum hormones check IN.  Your postpartum checkup isn’t for 5-6 weeks, so what’s a Mama to do in the meantime?

In the meantime, let’s think back– way back. When women gave birth long ago they were likely surrounded by a nuclear family. Relatives, family, and friends were within arms reach at all times. They say it takes a village, and it does. Except, where’s my Screen Shot 2018-07-11 at 10.04.30 PMvillage? It’s 2018 and I live away from my parents, in-laws, and siblings. So now it’s me and my husband, and we’ve never done this whole parenting thing before, and I have no village in my house to help me navigate all of the emotions I’m having. How on earth am I supposed to tend to my house, wifely duties, be a new mom, and manage my intense hormonal shifts? This sounds insane! And quite frankly, I had out of body experiences where I wondered what on God’s green earth I was upset about.

I’m six months out from my second postpartum experience so I have a few fresh tips to make the transition into the postpartum hormone highway easier for you!

1. Find your village. They might be a drive away, but figure out who that is and don’t be afraid to reach out to them. It’s likely someone who has been there and would love to talk with you and comfort you as you cope with the huge shift your body and mind 🙂 is making after baby arrives.

2. Remember that there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Again, it’s likely someone has changed diapers, helped feed and burp a baby, or can easily tidy up your home while you and baby rest. Although hard because we want to do it, let someone help you. This includes lactation consultants. These professionals are simply amazing.

3. Have your go-tos on speed dial. I’m fortunate to have a few go tos and these poor souls had a dumping of hormonal hiccups after my kids were born. Your husband or partner, although amazing, will never truly understand what you’re going through. While he can help support you, the only people who get it [inside & out!] are other Mamas. See a couple of these real-life text messages below.

 

4. Speaking of him, talk to your husband or partner– out loud. Don’t just think it or will it in your mind. Say it. Own it. Although we Mamas show off our superhuman powers as our bodies transform and do magical things during labor and delivery, our husbands are still humans with normal powers, and when we get home from the hospital they are still unable to read our minds. But guess what: they want to help you. They want you to be well and avoid these baby blues as much as possible! Sometimes this means stepping out of our comfort zone and telling them what we need. Hugs. Coffee. Offer to take the babe so I can take a snooze. Hugs. Kisses. Affirmations. Hugs. Compliments. All of the above and at the same time. It’s ok to be honest with what you want and need!

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This was a “Tough Day”

5. Keep a journal of your feelings. I have call logs, pictures, and texts to look back on to identify where my tough days were. When the day passes, I propel my strength and use it to have another good day! Consider a daily affirmation that you can count on to lift your spirits. Better yet, have it on your coffee cup! 😘

6. The Postpartum Hormonal Highway starts with an incredible high. Like the highest high of your life. But then once the newness wears off and you start to feel the dips in your overall demeanor, your sleep starts to suffer, and you’re trying to learn how to care for this new, helpless human, you feel sad because you think you should be happier and you should know exactly what to do… This is normal. It is ok. Talk to another Mama and share how you’re feeling.

7. Take 15 minutes a day to practice any form of self-care you can. Yoga. Coffee break. x-all-the-y-meme-generator-soak-up-all-the-vitamin-d-6dbe75 Take a walk and get some Vitamin D. Call a friend. Take a bath. Read a new book. Watch funny videos on Instagram of that cute little Mila Stauffer. Start a blog. [Ok maybe this is just me 🧐]

8. Search your local area for groups of new Mamas. I have several friends who have joined these groups and found them to be very beneficial (ie: Moms Meet Up, or through Amma).

9. Find refuge in the Bible. It is an endless opportunity to get lost in spiritual guidance; through His word, you can find peace in knowing that you’re not alone and that God has a beautiful plan for you as a Mama. Remember: he has known your journey all along! I also love this daily devotional: Prayer, Praise, and Promises

10. See your doctor early if it’s becoming too much. Your feelings are important for the well being of your family. If you’re not well, your family will not be either, so let your partner know that it’s time to see the professionals. This is ok, Mama! I intentionally kept this post light-hearted. However, postpartum depression, anxiety, and other related things are real, very serious, and should not be taken lightly.

It’s hard navigating all of the emotions, challenges, learning, and patience it takes when you bring your new child home. Aside from that, you’re also supposed to take care of yourself. Yikes! It sounds like a lot on our plates. So, one day at a time, Mamas. You can do this. And if you need any encouragement, I’m just one part of the Band of Mamas. Reach out and we can help each other!

Xo,

Linds
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My Mama Blogs

“Two Years and Two Tubes”

Over the course of her first year, our daughter Julia had just about every illness, rash, or symptom around. From dozens of ear infections, HFMD, Strep Throat, to Influenza, this poor child was running the gamut of childhood sickness. Countless doctor visits, numerous days taken off work, and caring for a child who’s constantly sick is exhausting. After her seventh ear infection and fluid that would not drain, we opted toScreen Shot 2018-07-11 at 8.42.57 PM see the specialist who determined tubes were necessary; to her, normal conversation sounded as if she were under water. After she turned one, she had her tubes put in. 

I try not to compare myself to other parents and the struggles they endure, because I believe it’s ok for me to be scared. I was. I was terrified of her being put under (even the light amount of anesthesia they use made me nervous; after all, she’s only one!). She is my firstborn Screen Shot 2018-07-11 at 8.43.10 PMand the thought of her having surgery is a big deal. My husband and I were both there for her and the process was so fast and easy. Our E.N.T.was awesome.

Fast forward now and we’re pregnant with our second child-due December 21. Our daughter continues to have issues with her ears so we return to the specialist. He uses a procedure to go in and unclog her tubes. They literally strap her down in what can only be described as a straightjacket and use a probe while I push down her head so she can’t move. I am fighting back tears because she is screaming in absolute terror. It is over in less than two minutes. I remind myself how strong I need to be as a Mama andimg_7995-1how resilient our children are. She gets a sucker for being brave! And Me? I get the horror of pinning her down haunting my dreams 😉.

This saves us enough time to make it to November, where it is determined that she needs another set of tubes and an adenoidectomy because the current tubes had already pushed themselves out. We are close to hitting our deductible this year (woohoo!), and with our impending labor and delivery costs, we opt to have her surgery before the end of the year. The doctor is available on December 28! But now, what if I have the baby on that day?

Our son arrives on Christmas [2017], and we are home by Wednesday. Julia’s surgery is on Thursday morning. Looking back, I think someone should have checked on me mentally, because I don’t know what we (by we I mean I, because my husband is so easy going and effortlessly chill in these situations!) were thinking. Our in-laws come with us so they can take care of our newborn, Brooks so Ross and I can care for Julia. This surgery requires full anesthesia, which, in reality, is already scary. Now throw in 48-hour postpartum hormones and you have a giant puddle of Mama tears! I had a cracked nipple from a bad latch, I was so tired, and I was really unsure how to “Be”.

As we sat on the hospital bed while they prepped her for surgery, I looked at my beautiful daughter and held her tight. Again, I was scared. I had a brand new child in the other room, and I had my first child here, awaiting her second surgery of the year. The nurses came in with big smiles on their faces and let us know it’s time. As they reached for her, I lost it. We are talking full on, ugly sobbing. The nurse said, “It’s ok honey, we’re going to take good care of her!” to which my reply was, “I just had a baby on Mondayyyyy and now you’re taking my other baby awayyyyy…” [I have no other choice but to use several of the letter Y to demonstrate my complete and utter inability to speak as a human being in this hospital room]. The nurse hugged me and replied, “Oh my gosh you poor thing! No wonder you’re a wreck!” My husband ushers me along and tells them, “It’s OK, I’ve got it,” and they take her away.  He is my calm when I’m amidst a Mama storm.

Within an hour, she is awake and coming out of her sleep. The doctor informs us that her ears were very sick; in fact, he says he didn’t know how sick and has rarely seen anything like it. He opted to use a new, high powered gel during surgery, called Otipiro which is a concentrated gel to help clear severe infections in the middle ear.  She was his first patient to use it, so he asks if we would share our experience with other parents. We are thrilled to share this new medication which ultimately helped heal her ears. We have been infection, fluid, and free from ear pain for 6 months! 
She’s a rockstar! And through this rollercoaster of emotions, challenges, appointments, and surgeries, she continues to demonstrate her childhood resilience as a two-year-old with two sets of tubes. Thank you Lord for kind, warm, intelligent nurses and doctors to help take care of our sick children so we Mamas can squeeze them tight as they heal!

And a special note to any of you Mamas out there with kids who are sick, disabled, in the hospital for any reason whatsoever, I would love to be able to send as many hugs and love as possible. You are amazing, and your strength is unmatched <3

XO,

Linds

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Feature Mama of the Month

“My Favorite Christmas Gift”

It’s Christmas morning, 2017, and my husband, Ross and I are opening presents with our daughter, Julia. I am 4 days overdue, have been having contractions all through the night, and feel a slight pop. I run to the bathroom and told Ross I was pretty sure (or was it pee?) my water broke. We headed to my in-laws for Christmas Day celebrations and prime rib but made a pitstop at the hospital. They tested the fluid and the nurse turns to me and says, “Honey, we’re gonna have us a Christmas baby!” I am instantly overjoyed and filled with tears. The doctors and nurses were particularly joyous and upbeat on this frigid Christmas morning, and I was incredibly thankful for their happy and smiling faces… especially when I told the nurse that all I’d eaten that morning were several (so many) Reese’s Pieces Christmas Tree candies and a handful of assorted fun sized candy bars. Oh, Christmas stocking stuffers, how I love you!

I am admitted around 11AM. They let me do about 90 speed laps around the hospital floor, and I continued to dilate to a 3-4. But then, just like with my first delivery, it slows. The doctors say I need Pitocin to help get things moving. My daughter Julia and I were both treated for Chorioamnionitis, which is an infection of the uterus from water being broken too long. You are more prone to get this again if you’ve had it once, so our nurse said they would be cautious of checking cervix progress throughout the day because of it.

IMG_7812Ross and I spent Christmas Day together alone in our labor room, save a few visitors who joined us for some of the Vikings game. SKOL! Around 6 PM the doctor decided it was time to break my water, as I had a high, slow leak. Within minutes I went from little pain to gut-wrenching “Pit” contractions, which are irregular, extremely intense, and to state the obvious, oh so painful. They had been cranking up the Pitocin all day, so once my water broke my body caught up instantly. I was keeled over within minutes, and I opted for my epidural immediately 🙂 By 8 PM I was free from pain from the waist down. But then when I moved to turn after the first hour, I reached down to push myself up and had no strength or feeling in my left arm. Then it started to creep up; I was blinking at my husband and couldn’t feel the left side of my face. Because I was laying so flat, the epidural had continued on down [up] as far as it could go. Yikes! All senses and feeling slowly return, and around 10:45 PM my nurse informs me that I’m dilated to a 7 and she’ll return back around midnight to do another check.

I look at my husband, and I look at her. I ask her, “Are you sure we are waiting ‘til midnight? I am feeling a lot of pressure.” We are listening to Motown on Pandora and I can feel the baby coming. She checks me. I am at a 10. A new nurse comes and checks and says, “Oh yes, you’re at a +2… if you need to push, you can start!” Within minutes I can feel the head coming out, but not the rest of his body. I am in my second round of 3 pushes while pulling back my legs behind the knees, a nurse is pushing on my stomach, and now I feel my doctor frantically pulling… I don’t know what’s happening, but all of the sudden his body emerges and he is shown to me but gone in an instant. He is grayish-blue, not making any noise, and not breathing.  My husband looks confused and scared but sort of smiling as he says, “It’s a Boy.” My doctor turns to the nurse and says, “Not every day I use that maneuver.” I am silent because I don’t know what he’s talking about and I do not have a baby in my arms.

IMG_3552In short, this is referred to as a rapid descent. My son was literally spun downwards and through the canal so quickly that his body became entangled in the cord like an oxen yoke–around his body and neck. His head came out but the rest of his body was trapped inside with the cord preventing him from delivery. When this happens and the shoulders are stuck the medical term used is called Shoulder Dystocia. I didn’t know until later (reading over my notes!) that the doctor used a procedure called McRoberts Maneuver. This gives the doctor flexibility to push out an arm or shoulder, clamp and cut the cord while the baby is still in, and pull the baby out safely. It is referred to as “One of the most anxiety provoking emergencies encountered by physicians practicing maternity care” (LINK). Shoulder Dystocia, which can cause broken clavicles and permanent nerve damage, is an emergency situation (and a more rare occurrence) because the cord supply is essentially cutoff and the baby can die. 

IMG_3551The nurses brought him to life. We heard him cry, and then we cried. Watching my husband ask frantically, “Why isn’t he breathing?” while my amazing nurse, Katie is gently stroking my arm and telling me that he, “Came down really fast, and he’s just in shock from it, but he’s going to be OK…” was absolutely terrifying. But then, the glorious moment arrives where he is safely placed in my arms. He is still blue and shaking. He has a bloody eye from the pressure of his descent, a bruise on his face from the clamp, and scratches on his little body from the scissors. He is born at 11:32 PM on Christmas night, 2017. He is 8.12 lbs and 21.5” long. He looks grumpy, but he is beautiful and strong.

26172558_10101277375876466_4211163548701629571_oWe named him Brooks, and his middle name is Allen after my Dad’s middle name. We were exhausted but feeling an overwhelming sense of relief because he was safe. We have a son, and now our little family of three has become four. Sharing this story makes me proud and so thankful. It reminds me that God continually watches out for me and my family even when I am faced with challenges and lose sight. And on His birthday, we were gifted our sweet son Brooks. <3

XO,

Linds

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My Mama Blogs

Happy Father’s Day

God created man

To be the head of the home.

To be a provider.

To be the example until his children are grown.

Then God created his partner- Mama. img_8405

Together they can do anything.

Together they nurture their young.

Together they keep their children safe under their wing.

These littles are created in Mama, but your face is the first they will see.

From this day forward you shape them into who they will be.

You called it in the hospital, boy or girl!

And at that moment you became their whole world.

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What would the world be without Dad?

There would be no you. No me. No us.

But Mama gets the most attention,

And Dads are also worth the fuss.

When Dad plays with the kids, his attention is theirs.

He laughs, tickles, and shows love without care.

It might drive Mama crazy that the dishes aren’t done,

But how can one complain when you see their hearts have been won?

 

They scream and run to the door when Daddy gets home.

They jump, wrestle, and through the home they are flown.

He teaches and explains in a different kind of way.

They listen, and learn, and show when they say,

“I love you Daddy. “

Your hard work goes unnoticed, too often I’m afraid. img_9828

And it’s equally as important for this home we have made.

So on this day, Father’s Day, we can say thank you for you.

We appreciate you and our love for you is endless. This much is true!

Happy Father’s Day to all the amazing Dads out there. A special shout out to my Husband Ross, my Dad Wayne, and my Father in Law Tim. We can’t do it without you.

XO,

Linds


This post contains advertisements and by clicking the link, I may receive a commission but at no cost to you. See my full disclosure form HERE

Feature Mama of the Month

“Once, Twice, Three Times a Driveway Baby”

After the 1980 Men’s Hockey Team defeated the Russians in the Olympics, a movie was made to tell their story: Miracle on Ice. They overcame the impossible and were our nation’s heroes. Herb Brooks’ famous speech and their story will still be told for years to come. Parents Nicole and Kyle Howard can relate. Their daughter Lakelyn was born on the ice on a blustery and snowy Minnesota January night.

From sixth grade through high school, from college to careers, Nicole and Kyle lived apart, and their distance spanned from Nevada to Colorado and back to Minnesota. The two rekindled an old flame back in the Midwest on New Year’s Eve in 2013, and they were married four years later on a beautiful spring day. They conceived their daughter on their honeymoon in Hawaii right after the wedding.

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Nicole had been married previously and had two healthy and quick deliveries.  Her sons, Marek (7) and Owen (5) were outgoing, spirited, and excited to have a new sister. She recalls that “With my son Marek’s birth we had been sent home to labor further, but in the car en route back home my contractions had become excruciating; we turned around and were finally admitted.” Her healthy baby boy was born shortly after. Two years later she goes into labor with her second child, Owen,  and I can only describe from an outside perspective, that she’s the woman who just sits up and coughs and the baby comes out. My, what a Mama!

Nicole shares, “Our daughter was due January 19, 2018.  My OB reminded me that often26169686_1960592684202750_5674133732949229133_n with the third child, they come quicker…” Nicole and her husband spent time decorating the nursery, sharing holidays with family, and anxiously awaited their daughter’s arrival while wasting no time or sparing any details.

“Our doctor said that if I feel any contractions that I shouldn’t wait this time around. We had moved to a smaller town outside the city and the hospital was a little drive away, so our bags were packed and we were ready whenever she was. I carried her very low and was dilated to a 3-4 for a few weeks. We had one scare on Christmas where I thought I was in labor, but it was only Braxton Hicks contractions. My first two came early, so I figured she would, too. We were right.”

Around 10:30 PM on January 10, 2018, Nicole’s contractions started. She paced around and did a few things around the house trying to decide if they were real or if they would subside. At around midnight she pads to the shower trying to relieve some of the pain and is certain she is in labor. She wakes Kyle, asks him to get the car ready, and in the meantime, calls her brother to ask him to come to the house immediately as the baby is coming and he should be here for the sleeping boys.

“I walked outside wondering what Kyle was doing, all while deciding what I should do. I had the urge to poop, and I knew I wouldn’t make it to the house, so I quickly went outside the garage and just as I pulled my pants down, my water broke— like Hollywood movie style! Now at this point, I was praying and trying to remember the book I was reading and reminding myself that many women have natural births. I repeated, ‘I can do this, everything is O.K.’ I focused my attention on trying to remain calm for Kyle’s sake, too. The contractions had put me in active labor, and I was resisting the urge to push, all while telling Kyle, ‘There’s not enough time, we are not going to make it, we need to call for help!’”


 

“He is unsure what to do; I am on all fours, he is grabbing blankets for me to lay on, and he called 911. He is on the phone with them, and I am breathing through contractions and continue to tell him ‘The baby is coming!’ He has a flashlight in his mouth, a phone to his ear, and just like that, out she comes and slides right into his arms like he’s catching a football. The operator instructs him to tie off the cord, to which he grabs a shiny new hockey skate lace from his truck. She was born on the ice in the driveway at home, Up North Style. Our hero, her Daddy, delivered our precious baby girl.” She recalls telling friends and family, ‘All I could think was, Oh What a Night! I can’t believe this just happened!’ The ambulance arrived shortly after and we are taken to the hospital. Our daughter Lakelyn Ann was 7.1 lbs: healthy, safe, and beautiful.” 

Nicole and Kyle shared their news with a circle of friends–one who happens to be a morning anchor for the Rochester, MN ABC 6 News Team. Read the full story HERE. They featured her story on the news, and then it spread to the local Minneapolis news station, too. Kyle donned his “State of Hockey” sweatshirt as he tended to his own Miracle on Ice. What a glorious and beautiful grand entrance to the world, Miss Lakelyn Ann Howard. Nicole and Kyle’s story, like the hockey team’s, will be told for many years to come. Way to go, Mama!

XO,

Linds

Mama Advice

“10 Things A Mama Needs”

In my past life I think I was a salesman. I find myself habitually projecting products on my friends and family that I fall in love with. I value the opinions of others Mamas and I could talk all things Mama, all day. However, this entry isn’t about my kids or my husband… it’s about Me. I sat down and came up with 10 things I can’t live without For Mamas only!

IMG_94551. Califa Farms Cold Brew delicious mocha flavored coffee.  Served on ice, this java is the perfect treat in the summer months!

2. Beauty Counter Dewskin Tinted Moisturizer is my go-to every day for all over tint and protection. It has SPF 20, is safe for my skin, and leaves me with a beautiful dewy glow! You can shop with my beautiful Mama friend, Christina Rymer.

3. Apple iWatch and iPhone Charging Station is the perfectly sleek way to keep all my cords in check. My coworker sold me on this, and now I can’t imagine life without it.  We have a tiny galley kitchen so this is necessary. 🙌🏻

4. Lightweight Leather Earrings by Nickel & Suede. I get compliments all the time. I love supporting this company, too, because it’s a fellow One Little Momma blogger that I follow.

5. Thirty-one Tote is perfect for beach days, play dates, or the farmers market! I have the Large size one and it can fit everything in it.

6. Popsocket Collapsable Grip & Stand for my iPhone. I read in bed at night or sometimes work on the blog and this makes holding the phone manageable without dropping it on my face!

7. Costco 2-Day Delivery 🙌🏻 if you spend $75 you get free shipping… Sold! Some of my repeat items are: Kirkland Organic Grains Granola, toilet paper, laundry detergent, dish soap, paper towels, and so much more. I love that I don’t have to haul that stuff to and from the store to home. Right to my door, instead ✅

8. Soft Hair Ties that don’t rip out my postpartum shedding hair! These are the best.

IMG_96099. Beauty Counter Sunscreen is delicious-smelling and safe for my skin & the kids’. I love the deodorant style applicator & they just came out with a new spray as well.

10. DoTerra Essential Oils are my favorite brand. I use them for everything and thoroughly enjoy reading how they can improve my health & my family’s in a safe and natural way! I learned a ton from this book Complete Guide to Essential Oils & Aromatherapy

Stay tuned for more posts that will look into some of these products in depth! If you have any great products or services that Mamas shouldn’t go without, please share in the comment section below. I’d love to hear what else I need to make my summer better than it already looks!

XO,

Linds


This post contains advertisements and by clicking the link, I may receive a commission but at no cost to you. See my full disclosure form HERE

Baby after Inducing Labor
Mama Advice, My Mama Blogs

Inducing Labor: How do I Know if it is Right for Me?

The Ins and Outs of Inducing Labor

Many Mamas enter their pregnancy journey with a plan in mind on how she wants her blessed little bundle to enter this world. Epidural? Natural? Water birth? Or C-Section? What if I have to be induced? Many Mamas hear the word Induced and immediately want dismiss it. However, it is important to know why inducing labor may be necessary. I found it helpful to educate myself on what this process entails, why doctors suggest it, and what Mamas should consider if it’s being discussed.

I was Induced with Both my Kids

To begin, with my first labor experience, my doctor put us on the schedule for an induction at 41 weeks. My doctor felt that because of Julia’s size and the shape of my pelvic bones, that this could be helpful in delivering a large baby. They did an ultrasound at 38 weeks and she was measuring 2 weeks ahead. However, when it was Go-Day, my body just wasn’t ready yet. My cervix wasn’t dilated enough when they began the induction, and Pitocin was ramping up the contractions but I did not progress. I tried the bouncy ball, dancing, squats, you name it. These things combined made for a long day. I finally reached the level needed for the doctor to break my water and from that point forward, labor progressed as it should have.

Sadly, the day of laboring caused the start of Chorioamnionitis(“chorio”), which is an infection of the uterus. In my case, this set because my water had been broken for an extended period of time. I had an intense, high fever, painful body aches, blood pressure problems, and the moment Julia came out, she was whisked away to start antibiotics in the NICU. As they say, Hindsight is 20-20. Looking back, I wish I would have waited a little longer–even a few more days, to see if I could go into labor on my own. In the end, it all worked out alright, and I learned a lot.

Medically Inducing Labor

Medically Inducing labor means that your doctor will intervene using a medication called Pitocin. This will help start or speed up contractions to help labor progress. What many people don’t know, is that Pitocin is actually the synthetic version of Oxytocin, which is the same hormone our bodies produce to begin contracting the uterus. For their own reasons, many women are against the use of Pitocin. However, these are a few of the reasons why women are induced and therefore need it.

Your blood pressure is too high.

There are a number of reasons why high blood pressure can be dangerous for Mama and baby. For some further reading on this topic, visit the Mayo Clinic website. Generally, your doctor will schedule an induction at or around 37 weeks if this is the case. Some women have great experiences with this process because they are dilated enough where the Pitocin helps. Conversely, other Mamas may need to use additional procedures like a balloon catheter to help the cervix dilate, or even use synthetic prostaglandins to ripen the cervix. They will do a ton of monitoring throughout, including closely monitoring the baby and using a variety of medications to keep blood pressure at a healthy level.

Your water may break before labor begins.

This is what happened to me with my son Brooks. Imagine a little pin prick on the top of aLindsay is about to be induced with Brooks balloon filled with water. My water had only trickled out a few little spots. After 7 hours of trying to progress labor on my own by walking, dancing, squatting, bouncing on the ball, and lunging (it was Christmas Day and I was trying to make the best of it!), it hadn’t progressed enough. The doctors needed to intervene with Pitocin and induce labor. Brooks and I were more susceptible to contract chorio again. In this case, I was dilated enough that the Pitocin did its magic. Thankfully, it got me far enough for the doctor to fully break my water, as I had a “fore-bag.” ** Cue immediate, intense labor as soon as this happened.

You’ve reached two weeks beyond your due date.

If labor hasn’t begun on its own or you are not showing any signs of progressing, this may be necessary for the health of Mama and baby. Of course, you still have the choice to wait, but your doctor may suggest this as a precautionary measure. You may have an in office procedure done where the doctor will strip the membranes. This means the doctor will sweep a circular motion inside the cervix between the thin membranes of the amniotic sac. This procedure works to induce labor for many Mamas! It did not, however work for me–the doctor did it twice with Julia and once with Brooks.

Your body needs help controlling bleeding after delivery.

Although you’re not inducing the beginning stage of labor, this will help contract the uterus after delivering the placenta by controlling the bleeding. It helps squeeze down on the exposed blood vessels. I follow Megan King Edmond’s blog and she shared how the doctors used this with labor with her twins.

Inducing Labor as an Election

Conversely, an Elected Induction means that there is no medical reason to get the baby out. Having made it to 41 weeks, I can see the desire for this because I was SO ready to meet her. However, doctors now days (even since 2016 when Julia was born) are pulling away from elected inductions. For obvious reasons, there are many things that can go wrong if your body is not ready to deliver baby and inducing labor using Pitocin or other means.

The Bishop Score

So, what do Mamas need to have in order to qualify for an Elected Induction? Your doctor will (or should!) perform what’s called the Bishop Score test in order to see if your body is ready to deliver baby safely. In order to qualify, the doctor will look for:

  1. The cervix dilation. You need to be dilated to a certain centimeter in order to “score” in this category.
  2. How thin, shortened, or effaced your cervix is.
  3. How far the baby’s head is positioned in the pelvis.
  4. Where the cervix is in relation to baby’s head.
  5. The ripeness or softness of the cervix–soft is better.


So How do I Know What’s Right for Me?

In closing, whatever your choice is will feel right to you. Being induced might be on the table for you whether you’re a first time Mama or a Mama a few times around. Additionally, if you’re at those end of term appointments and you’re not dilating, not progressing, or not showing any signs of laboring on your own, it may be best to wait it out. Trust me, I know it’s tough to wait, wait, wait… My unsolicited advice is to let the baby stay in as long as you can. I was gigantic by the time I was 41 weeks, but it truly is a mind over matter thing! Remain positive and use those extra days as a last minute chance to rest, go on dates with your spouse, or nest.

In the meantime, you can reread this POST from last week about Hypnobirth. After all, no matter what’s on the table when the day comes, this was an extremely helpful story about preparing your mind and body for baby’s birthday.

XO,

Linds

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Feature Mama of the Month

Hypnobirthing: A MN Mama’s Decision for a Natural Birth

There are those Mamas who are comfortable in the decisions they make, no matter what the cost. Christina Rymer, a long time friend and woman warrior, graciously shared how she birthed her children naturally using Hypnobirthing.

To begin, she and her husband Marcus got married in 2014 in the Wisconsin summer heat. Soon after, they decided it was time to start thinking about growing their family. In 2015 they were pregnant with their first child. Christina knew that natural birth was her plan and, “there wasn’t another way I was going to do it. It was just the best thing for me. When I set out during my pregnancy, one of the biggest things was that I wanted my birth story to be calm. I wanted to move through the stages of birthing with control.”

Choosing the Hypnobirthing Method

Natural birth has so many routes to choose from; for this Mama, she chose the hypnobirthing method. Christina shared how hard it is when you talk about birthing naturally because responses and reactions are sometimes judgmental–like, Why wouldn’t you get the epidural? Or It’s OK if you can’t do it. She shared, “I don’t look at anyone that chooses other methods as being weak. This is what was right for me; yes, it was difficult and took a lot of preparation and thought, but I had a team of support, a husband that was there, and friends who supported that. With that, I was also prepared to listen to my doctors if this wasn’t the right way.”

Christina found the book Hypnobirthing Home Study Course Manual: Step by step guide to an easy, natural, and pain free birth and immediately downloaded it. She said, “It resonated with what I was after with wanting a calm, simple birth while still having control. It is about believing in yourself and that your body was set out to do this. Additionally, it walks you through all the stages of labor.”

Most nights you would find her reading and relaying information Marcus, who was on board and ready to support her because he knew she had this. She didn’t spend time looking at what could have gone wrong. Instead, she set out that this was what it was and that was her mentality–this is the core of Hypnobirthing–visualization, deep meditation, and mindfulness. Christina reminded herself everyday of her strength and also put up inspirational quotes on her bathroom mirror. Each day she did a lot of mental preparing and picturing.

What is Hypnobirthing Anyways?

She described it as, “Hypnobirthing is like hypnotizing yourself during labor so you can withstand the pain.” With a laugh, she said, “I don’t know that I was ever successful in that, but I was able to manage myself through the pain through different breathing and visualizing. I would also listen to meditations during labor on my headphones.” The book talks about how all women have different stories and that so long ago women had these villages to guide them through these things.

Finding Dr. Jessica

In addition to those preparations, Christina attributes much of her success to finding her chiropractor, Dr. Jessica, at Lake Pointe Chiropractic and Wellness in Minneapolis, MN. She remembers having tears of joy leaving her office for the first time; she had found the missing piece. As she learned more about what was happening with her body throughout pregnancy, labor, and delivery, Dr. Jessica explained that her pelvis was very twisted, and she would help make the birth canal straight and adjust anything that would be in the way from the baby making its way down the birth canal safely. 

Hypnobirth During Labor

All of these things combined led to the special moment when everything began. They had been playing Bingo at the bowling alley and then Christina shared, “I labored through the evening at home and used my bathtub and bouncing ball. Marcus was there by my side through it all. I remember thinking that watching someone go through it is so different than being that person. Marcus’ job was to keep the heating pad on me leading up to contractions–I experienced waves of chills during that stage of labor. Then he would hold tennis balls on my lower back because I had back labor.”

Furthermore, “With the hypnobirthing method I really had to visualize; every contraction was pushing the baby down. I focused on that. It is so important to be able to relax during your contractions. Not doing that can make your labor slow down. I was lucky enough to be able to go into labor on my own. Then when it was time, we decided to head to the hospital.”

She remembered, “We wrote our birth plan, and I remember the nurse looking at it and being entirely supportive. Part of my plan let was to let them know that I was open to anything. I know that they are the experts; they were so helpful. There was a moment when things got intense, so they brought me a tube of lavender and told me to breathe the smell in and out. That really helped me refocus.”

It’s Time to Push

In the meantime, Christina recalled, “I had a moment where I really wanted to push. Immediately the nurse said, after examining, ‘If you push right now you will rupture.’ I remember thinking, It’s OK… I can stop myself right now. I took a step back and listened. You are not fully dilated. You are able to control yourself. I dug deep and was able to get through three more strong, fast contractions. There were really intense moments, and I was able to work through them using the confidence and control in addition to the hypnobirthing techniques I had practiced.

Coincidentally, she had heard that when you feel like you can’t do it anymore, it has to be close to over. She was able to get to that point and was still able to push, and then their beautiful daughter Charlize Grace entered the world. Christina felt, “… that it was probably the craziest thing I’ve ever experienced… all of the sudden, your body is instantly relieved of all the pain you were in.” Two years later she was able to have her son, Connelly Nels, after once again using the Hypnobirthing method, chiropractic care, and her support team. With a very similar story, but much quicker, he entered the world naturally. 

Mama’s Parting Words

Looking back, she said, “I don’t know what it would have been like if either birth had gone another way–like if things didn’t go as I had planned. If things wouldn’t have gone that way, would I have been sad or upset or down? There were obstacles for sure, but overall, they were both a wonderful experience.”

For this reason, Christina had this to share in recapping her experience: “No matter how your baby enters, you are a badass. You carried a baby, grew organs, and grew a beautiful heart inside you. For a few weeks after Charlize was born, I wanted the world to pause and just Be. I thought, Can we just take a moment and awe at how amazing this is? We should celebrate this because it is an absolute miracle… all of it is. I just think sometimes we take it for granted–we take the amazement out of it, but we need to celebrate it. Allow yourself this joy and these moments of pause and celebration.”

Further Reading

If you like reading about natural birth stories, be sure to check out another Mama’s story about birthing her baby in the driveway at home in the middle of a blustery January night! You can reread that story HERE

XO,

Linds

This post contains advertisements and by clicking the link, I may receive a commission but at no cost to you. See my full disclosure form HERE

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