High Five for Friday

Friday again?  When you aren’t blogging every day Friday rolls around pretty quickly.  (Someday I will get back to a consistent blogging schedule.  Someday.  Like when I’m brushing my hair consistently and there aren’t cobwebs hanging from the bench in my foyer.  You just wish I were kidding…)

On that lovely note, here are my five things today:

1.  Monday I had a really rough day.  Hudson had had two nights in a row where he did not sleep well at all and then he wouldn’t take long enough nap during the day for me to nap, too.  I was exhausted.  I asked Michael if he would pull Hudson duty for a little while that evening so I could have a break.  Being the wonderful husband and father that he is of course he said yes, so after one of Hudson’s feedings I escaped upstairs to take a bath.  We’ve lived in this house for a year and a half and I’ve never used the bathtub…I’ve always preferred showers over baths.  But Monday it just sounded like the perfect thing.  I was able to soak and read a magazine and have some prayer time and it was wonderful.  I think I may try to work a bath in every week because it was wonderfully relaxing and rejuvenating.

Not meaning to get so off track here, but I just have to take a moment and say that I think single mothers must be super women.  I’m serious.  So many times since Hudson has been born I’ve thought of the single moms that I know.  This is a hard job for sure, but I always know that if it gets too overwhelming I have Michael there to step in and give me a break.  I can’t imagine needing a break or feeling that exhaustion and knowing there is no one there but me.  So any single mom readers that I have, you are awesome and don’t you forget it.

2.  I am so excited about Hudson’s first Easter.  I know he is way too little to understand what is going on, but I’m still really looking forward to it.  We’re just getting him some little baby toys and books for his Easter basket that we would have bought anyway, but I guess since it’s our first holiday (Valentine’s Day doesn’t count…we were still definitely in post-baby fog) it’s more special.  We’ll also get to see some family that hasn’t met Hudson yet so that will be fun.

3.  A productive day these days for me is getting two whole things done around the house.  It’s such a change from the engergizer bunny I used to be who could get tons of cleaning, crafting, and other projects done.  Now my days are spent feeding, rocking, and snuggling Hudson.  I am not complaining at all.  I love my job.  It’s just very different.  All that to say that I got two “projects” done this week that I’ve been wanting to do: I made homemade body wash and homemade baby wipe solution.  Both were so incredibly easy and quick; gathering the supplies was the most time consuming part.

The body wash is wonderful.  I was a little skeptical but it lathers nicely and cleans great.  I haven’t used the wipe solution yet.  Once we start cloth diapering (that was on my goal list for this week and it hasn’t happened yet but we still have two days so maybe I’ll get that started still) we are also going to use cloth wipes.  Since I haven’t started that yet I haven’t used the wipe solution, but I can say that it smells great!

4.  On the note of productive days…my old cleaning routine was to clean the whole house once a week.  It usually took two to three hours and at the end I’d have a sparkling clean house.  When I was working I would do the cleaning on Saturday or Sunday, when I wasn’t working then I’d try to do it on a weekday so that the weekends were free.  I also did all the laundry back to back to back on cleaning day.

Well, I no longer have blocks of two to three hours.  I’m lucky to get one full hour these days since Hudson takes pretty short naps.  Soooooo I’m having to change my mindset from getting the whole house clean at one time to one where I do a little bit each day to maintain the cleanliness.  This is totally new to me but fortunately Pinterest has a bajillion cleaning schedules like that so I’ve been looking at those and trying to get my game plan together.

Do you have a cleaning schedule?  If so, do you prefer to do one room per day (i.e. the bedroom, the kitchen, the living room) or do you prefer to do one thing per day (vacuum, dust, sweep, etc. no matter which room it’s in)?

Right now I’m leaning toward one thing per day so that I don’t have to get the vacuum out multiple times each day that I clean a room with carpet or the duster each day to dust each room.

Hudson is being particularly unpleasant fussy today and I’ve been trying to get this post written for hours.  I’m tired of writing a few sentences here and there so yeah, I’m only writing four things today.  Sorry if this greatly offends you.

Photo Apr 07, 12 13 56 PM

Enjoy your weekend everyone!

Linking up with Lauren

High Five for Friday

Helllooooooo Friday  Wanna know why I’m happy today?

1.  SLEEP!  Yes, it has finally returned.  Tuesday night Hudson slept 7 hours (10:30-5:30) and Wednesday night he slept 8.5 (!!!) hours (11-7:30).  I woke up at 6:45 and didn’t know what on earth to do with myself.  And then last night he fell asleep at 9pm.  We kept expecting him to wake up to eat one more time before bed but he keep sleeping so we finally laid him down…and he slept until 5;30 this morning!  Another 8.5 hours!  I suspect he’s in a growth spurt because in addition to the sudden increase in sleep he’s also wanting to constantly eat during the day the last few days.  I sure hope the great sleep continues after the growth spurt is over!

2.  My neck is better.  Wednesday morning I leaned over to set my glasses on my bedside table and I felt my neck catch.  It was unbelievably painful; so much so that I was afraid Michael would have to come home from work to help me with Hudson.  The spot that was injured (I’m guessing) swelled up and I looked like I had a humpback (lovely).  A little heat, a little ice, a lot of my essential oils, and Michael rubbing it helped.  The pain was much better in 24 hours and almost completely gone in 48.  I still have a little soreness if I turn my head too far but it’s way, way better than it was!

Being hurt is one thing.  Being hurt with a baby that needs to be held and changed and fed is so much more difficult.  I now understand what people mean when they say “moms don’t have time to get sick!”.  I’m just so thankful that it didn’t last long.

3.  I’m going clothes shopping today.  On the one hand I’m not excited about that at all because I’d much rather be able to fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes and I know the sizes I’ll have to get today will be disheartening.  But on the other hand it will be so nice to have some clothes that actually fit right now.  I won’t buy much since I hope to lose my pregnancy weight soon but for now I’m tired of wearing my ill-fitting maternity clothes and I need some other options.

4.  Speaking of losing weight, this week I finally got back to healthy eating.  Since Hudson was born I’ve eaten tons of fast food and junk and such.  I’m finally feeling like I have it together enough to focus on some of the other things in life besides feeding, changing, and rocking a baby.  I’m not dieting or anything, just trying to make better choices.  Splurging was fun for a while but it’s really nice to be back to eating good healthy food that makes me feel better.

5.  It’s time to mix up more laundry soap.  Sounds like a strange thing to make me happy, but I’m mostly excited by how long the first batch of laundry I mixed lasted us.  Wanna guess?

20 months.  Yes, TWENTY months…almost 2 years!  Amazing.

Oh and not only that, guess how much that cost…

$20.00!  That’s $1 per month for our laundry soap.  Double amazing.

homemade laundry soap ingredients

When I first decided to make our own laundry detergent we were living in our apartment and did not have the space for the liquid that seem to be popular (and have to be stored in 5 gallon buckets).  I finally found a recipe for powered detergent on Pinterest and gave it a try.  Like I said, the supplies cost $20.  The hardest part was grating the bars of soap (talk about an arm workout) and then all you have to do is mix it together.  We stored it in one of those big clear plastic containers that cheese puffs or pretzels come in (you can see ours here).

We do about five loads of laundry a week and this container lasted us twenty months (I told a few people 2.5 years the other day but when I went back and checked it was really only 20 months…so sorry about that!).  Of course now that we have Hudson (who creates significantly more laundry for being such a small person) it won’t last quite as long.  This time I bought different soap and I bought my ingredients at Kroger (a little more expensive), so my total cost was about $33.00.  But still…that’s a pretty good price for the amount you get!

What are you happy about today?

 

Linking up with Lauren

so what’s the deal with essential oils anyway?

Young Living essential oils premium starter kit distributor 1612080.jpg

I’ve posted a few things on Facebook and Pinterest recently about essential oils and as a result I’ve had a lot of questions about what they are and how I’m using them.  I thought I’d go ahead and address that here to (hopefully) answer everyone’s questions.

I really didn’t know much, if anything, about essential oils (EOs) until just a few months ago.  I mean, I’d heard of them and knew there were some like lemon and lavender and peppermint.  I knew that lavender and lemon were popular to use while cleaning.  I had even thought I’d added an essential oil to my homemade cleaner when I first made it a few years ago (fyi, the scented oils at Walmart in the candle section are not EOs and don’t really offer anything to your cleaning products other than a scent…don’t make that mistake like me).  A friend of mine who is kind of crunchy, hippie-ish like me and who gives me lots of little tips and such had also mentioned EOs on several occasions, many time when we were talking about baby-related items.

So a few months ago I decided to track down some essential oils.  I’d heard great things; I really wanted to have them to add to my homemade cleaners (in place of the fake-ola scented oils I used the first time) and I was planning to use them to make some homemade hand soap and baby wipe solution.  I didn’t really know where to buy them so I posted on a local Facebook group to see where in town I could get some.  I had a ton of people comment and the one thing I kept seeing over and over was that I should order them from Young Living.

I started talking with one of the ladies who’d suggested Young Living and then started doing some research of my own.  The more I talked to her and the more I researched the more amazed I became about these oils.  Supposedly, according to everything I was reading, they could be used for way more than making household products.  They could also be used for tons and tons of health issues.

One of the options when you sign up as a wholesale customer with Young Living (you can either buy straight from their website and pay retail or you can sign up to be a wholesale customer and get them at a significant discount) is to get what they call the Premium Starter Kit.  It comes with eleven essential oils, a diffuser, and some other small samples.  The oils are what they call Everyday Oils – the oils that are most popular, most versatile, and that you’d want to use on a regular basis.  I was a little conflicted about the cost but finally just decided to use some of my Christmas money and give it a try…it they turned out to be as great as everyone says then they’d be totally worth it!

I was so excited to receive my oils in the mail and it couldn’t have come at a better time.  As you know if you’ve been reading for a while, I had a lot of back pain during pregnancy.  My oils came on a Thursday and that day my back had really flared up and was hurting badly.  Unfortunately my chiropractor was only open Monday thru Thursday and I couldn’t go Thursday afternoon so I was going to have to wait until the following Monday and just deal with the pain over the weekend.  Ouch.

But I had heard that Valor and Panaway (two of the oils in the Starter Kit) were great for back pain so when I got home Thursday afternoon I ripped open the package and applied those two right away.  I applied them again Thursday night and then Friday morning before work.

Y’all.  My back pain was gone.

Now you know I’m pretty natural and what I lovingly refer to as “crunchy”.  I’m into organic food and making my own soap and natural childbirth and all that jazz.  I avoid taking medicine and I tend to lean toward more alternative medicine options.  However, I’m still a total skeptic.  I thought chiropractic care was total witch doctor stuff until I started going and saw such improvements.  I thought reflexology was a hoax until I had that done and absolutely could see a correlation between the feet and the rest of the body.  So even though alternative medicine keeps proving to me that it’s the real deal, I was still skeptical about these “voodoo-witch-doctor-y-medicine-man essential oils”.

Well color me converted….

I could not believe that in less than 24 hours, three applications of oils could do what chiropractic care had only been able to help with.  That discovery alone is worth the price of the oils, in my opinion.

Something else that I’d dealt with during pregnancy that you might remember was snoring.  As in, one night Michael actually got up and checked out our window because he was certain that there was a motorcycle in our front yard….then he realized that was just me snoring!  Prior to pregnancy I only snored when my nose was stopped up, but the added weight gain plus the way pregnancy hormones loosen up your ligaments and stuff to prepare for birth was making me saw logs.

I’d read that Valor applied to the bottom of the big toe helped with snoring.  So I tried it.

Not one time after I started using Valor every night did Michael wake up to me snoring.  I can’t say I stopped completely because no one was awake to hear me, but I was no longer disturbing his sleep like I had been every.single.night.

Very shortly afterward Mr. Hudson made his appearance and learning about my oils took a bit of a back burner.  In hindsight, I so wish I had discovered them just a few months earlier.  I think they would have been fantastic during pregnancy (since I was avoiding taking any medicine during that time) as well as during labor and recovering afterward.   I did use them some during those times, but not to their fullest potential because I hadn’t really had enough time to experiment and figure out what oils to use for what issues.

Some other things I’ve also used them for:
- I had a horrible rash on my inner thighs after my labor due to my legs staying constantly wet for so long with all the amniotic fluid and such.  I used lavender on it two or three times in the hospital while we were recovering and it cleared up within two days.
- I used some Gentle Baby Hudson’s diaper rash and it improved significantly overnight.
- I’ve had three infected hangnails over the past few months and each time applying Thieves, lavender, and/or Purification (I kind of alternate them) dried up the infection within a few days.
- I rarely get headaches (usually only when a sinus infection is coming on), but the lack of sleep with a new baby has caused some fatigue headaches.  Peppermint and M-Grain (a blend specifically for migranes) have knocked them out in about 30 minutes.
- Thieves is an EO blend that is amazing for killing germs.  We’ve used that one a lot since Hudson was born to try to keep him from getting sick.
- I woke up one day last week with a zit, one of those painful ones that is just a bump under the skin that hasn’t come out quite yet.  I applied Purification twice during the day and by the end of the day the zit was gone!

I actually had most of this post typed up Wednesday to post on Thursday but I could tell I was starting to get a cold/sinus infection and I really wanted to try out my oils and see if they made a difference so I could add those results to this post.  Spoiler alert: they did!

Just about every year around this time I get some sort of sinus junk that usually results in me losing my voice.  I can always tell when I’m about to get sick – I get a headache and feel very tired.  Well…with having a new baby and being up in the middle of the night two or three times a night, headaches and feeling tired are kind of commonplace these days.  So I didn’t catch it quite as early this time.  Wednesday it progressed on to a sore throat, sinus pressure in my face, my ears were hurting a little, and a little bit of a rasp in my voice.  My protocol previously has been to start taking Benadryl at the first sign and sleep extra.  Sleeping extra is out of the picture right now and I really wanted to avoid Benadryl.  I started using a variety of my oils Wednesday night before bed.  I still felt pretty crummy in the middle of the night when I got up to feed Hudson but Thursday morning I was feeling markedly better.  I continued oiling throughout the day Thursday and by Friday morning I felt completely better with the exception of a little runny/stopped up nose.  I had less than 48 hours of a runny and mildly congested nose and then that was gone too.  Oils for the win!

And those are just a few of the things that have worked for me in the few short months I’ve been using them.  I’ve heard incredible stories from others about how they have successfully used EOs to fade stretch marks (I’m excited to try that!), clear up acne, to get pregnant, for weight loss, to manage their kid’s ADD/ADHD without medicine, to heal eczema, to reverse autistic tendencies, to regulate blood sugar and get rid of diabetes, and so much more.  I am constantly amazed at how the oils are working for people.

So yeah, this skeptic is now a believer.

Young Living essential oils on the go

I even got a cute little carrying case so I can carry some of my favorites in my purse/diaper bag.  And since I got my initial starter kit I’ve placed two more orders or oils because I just love them so.

Now that I’ve seen what they can do I want to share them with everyone!  Michael laughs at me because any time he (or anyone else) mention various and sundry ailments I’m like “I have an oil for that!”.  You know how when you find a product you love that you just want to tell everyone about it….that’s how I feel about oils!

I don’t claim to know everything.  You’re welcome to ask me things and I’ll try to find the answers, but I’ll also go ahead and direct you to some of my favorite resources.  This is a great website that really helped me as I was trying to learn about oils.  Here’s a look at nine of the Everyday Oils and this video is very beneficial if you have the time and want to learn more about for what the oils can be used (there’s also a good explanation about what EOs actually are).  This and this Facebook group have some interesting testimonies and info as well (apologies for the horrible grammar I just used there).  This blogger blogged for 31 days about Young Living essential oils – there is a ton of information there!  And of course we can’t leave out Pinterest.

One random note that I didn’t know and wish I had before I got my oils…they don’t smell like candles.  Some smell better than others to me, but they are not the delicious, artificial candle-y scents.  They smell very much like a spa/massage place, which isn’t necessarily bad, just not what I expected.

Disclaimer: I only endorse Young Living oils.  My research has brought me to the conclusion that these are the best – they are a reputable company, they don’t put additives or fillers in their oils, and they have a commitment to producing quality products.

So…

What do you know about essential oils?  Do you already use them?  Had you even heard of them before?

Did this answer some of your questions?  If not, let me know in the comments or shoot me a message and I’ll try to help you out!

Are you interested in getting some oils?  Let me help you out!  When you sign up with YL you get your oils at a wholesale price.  You can be a distributor if you want, meaning you can make a little money by sharing about the oils, but that is not required.  Honestly, when I signed up I only did it so I could get the wholesale price for my own oils.  I am not a salesperson and I’ve always said I’ll never sell anything.  But people have started asking about oils and I’ve seen how wonderful they are and I want to share that with others.  If I happen to make a little extra income that’s an added bonus, but if not that’s ok too.

But anyway, if you think you might want to become a distributor as well or just try out some oils, let me know.  I’d love, LOVE to get you started on your journey to better health.

(oh and in case you’re confused…you DO NOT have to sell Young Living in order to use their oils.  That is totally optional.  Nor do you have to pay an annual fee like at Sam’s Club or Costco.  You don’t have to order a certain amount or number of times.)

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.

Oh, and don’t forget to come join My Chocolate Moments on Facebook so that you can keep up with my essential oils journey…as well as all the rest of my shenanigans.

high five for Friday

It’s been a looooonnngg time since I did a High Five for Friday post!  I’m just now emerging from the post-baby fog where I hardly knew my own name, much less what day of the week it was.  Tell me I’m not alone in that…

Here’s what I’m high five-ing this week.

1.  I cleaned my house.  I know, so earth-shattering.  But some parts of our house haven’t been cleaned since before Hudson was born and he’s almost two months old *ducks head in shame*.  I’ve been basically worthless in the cleaning department since I’m more in the baby-holding-milk-making department right now, but we’re finally starting to get into a routine.  Most of the time as soon I as get ready to clean Hudson wakes up from his nap so I only get part of a room done.  Yesterday though he took several great naps and I was able to get the house mostly cleaned.  We (well, Michael and mom actually) have been keeping up with the day-to-day things (dishes, kitchen, bathrooms, etc.) but I’ve let a lot slide.  It felt great to get some of the less important things done (like dusting our bedroom…some big ‘ole dust bunnies had accumulated in two months!).

2.  I got in some new essential oils that I ordered.  It’s like Christmas when they come!  And they came just in time to help me knock out an impending sinus infection so it was perfect timing.

Young Living essential oils

3.  During one of Hudson’s naps I got to mix up some of my “potions” (pain cream, diaper rash cream, lotion, etc.).  I had a good time doing something not so baby related for a change.

mixtures made with Young Living essential oils

4.  I had a big Mommy-win this week: I took Hudson out shopping by myself for the first time.  We went to Hobby Lobby (PSA: Hobby Lobby’s carts are too small to fit a carseat inside.  I learned that the hard way and had to haul that huge carseat all over the store.  Next time I’ll wear him in my baby carrier!), Target, the mall (just in and out of Dillard’s), and then we ran by Michael’s work so his coworkers could meet Hudson.  That was a HUGE trip out for us and I was so proud.  He did great, too; slept nearly the whole time.

shoppingThis was actually a different day when we went to Kroger – Michael had one cart for the groceries and I just followed him around pushing Hudson in a different cart.  I don’t know what I’ll do when I need to get groceries on my own…there is not room for a baby and groceries in the cart!  I think I’ll wear him so the buggy is free.

5.  I finally got around to setting up a Facebook page for my blog.  I’ve been meaning to for a while and just never made time (it took, like, 5 whole minutes…what a procrastinator).  Have you liked it yet?  You totally should…all the cool kids are doing it ;).  (go here)

Bonus: I get to love on this sweet boy all day every day and nothing could make me happier.  (Did you really think I’d write a whole post without random Hudson pictures….?)

HudsonLinking up with Lauren

My Chocolate Moments is on Facebook

Guess what…I finally created a Facebook fan page for My Chocolate Moments!  About time I entered the 21st century, huh?

You may have noticed that I’m not blogging nearly as much as I used to.  Or maybe you didn’t notice and I’m not as missed as I thought.  Sad.

Anyhow…

There’s a sweet little guy in my life who is making blogging a little more difficult (and less of a priority) these days.  Having two hands free (not to mention a chunk of time long enough to get my thoughts organized) is hard, but boy can I wear out my iphone during those long nursing sessions!  I thought I’d start a Facebook page so I can stay connected to my readers.  At least then I can post some short statuses (status’? stati?) and pictures until I have time to write more rambling wordy posts.

Photo Mar 16, 9 05 55 AMHudson is more excited about this than he seems.  Promise.

Photo Mar 19, 3 36 49 PMActually this is what he has been doing the whole time I’ve been working on the new page…sacked out in his Moby Wrap.

Will you join me?  Look over there on your right.  No, your other right.  (just kidding…I know you all know right from left, right?).  See where it says “Join Me on Facebook“?  Click there to go to my Facebook page.  Make sure to “Like” it so you can stay updated with new posts and other fun stuff.

I’m looking forward to it!

breast may be best but it definitely isn’t easiest – our breastfeeding journey

BFAR

Disclaimer: This post is about breastfeeding.  There will be words like breast, nipple, etc.    If that freaks you out, stop reading now.  But don’t worry, there are no pictures.  I never thought I’d ever write about something so personal, but as I’ve struggled through this journey I’ve talked to so many people who have also had difficulties and I want to share my story so that others can use it to learn or for encouragement.  If you are bothered by that then stop reading now!  Everyone else, read on…

Breast milk is the perfect food for baby.  It’s natural and the way God designed babies to eat.  I think we can all agree that “breast is best”.  However, breastfeeding is not easy.  Or at least, it wasn’t easy for me.  It was very, very hard.  And as I’ve talked to others it seems like many, many people struggle with breastfeeding.

You think you’re sweet little baby will be born, you’ll pull him or her to your breast, they’ll latch on and start eating, and all will be well in the world.  I mean, you read the books, you went to two breastfeeding classes.  You got this!  Right?  Wrong.

I was one of the lucky ones that had a fairly easy pregnancy…but I think I’m paying for it now with a ridiculously long and hard labor and a breastfeeding nightmare.  Here’s our story:

My senior year of high school (2005) I had a breast reduction.  My doctor told me that I may or may not be able to breastfeed – his prediction was that I’d have a 50/50 chance.  At 18 breastfeeding wasn’t really something I was thinking about so I took note of the information and decided it wasn’t that big of a deal.

Fast forward eight years.  Breastfeeding is definitely on my radar now.  Over the years I’ve become much more “crunchy” – we eat mostly natural and organic foods, I try to avoid most medicine, I went with a natural childbirth.  Of course it makes sense for me to breastfeed.  I knew going into my pregnancy that breastfeeding might not be possible for me, but I was sure enough going to give it my very best effort and pray that I’d be one of the lucky ones who were able to breastfeed after a reduction (BFAR).

Please know I do not regret my reduction.  It completely improved my quality of life.  If I had to go back and do it over again, knowing what I know now, I think I’d still get the reduction.

During pregnancy I started researching to try to find out what my breastfeeding odds were.  There really wasn’t a lot of information on BFAR, but I did find one book that I bought and read.  I found a little information online, but again, not that much.  I contacted my doctor’s office and was told that the type of surgery I had was the one that would give me the most hope of breastfeeding.  When my reduction was done the doctor left my nipple attached to as many of the ducts and nerves as possible (rather than cutting the nipple and areola completely off and reattaching it later).  I also spoke to a lactation consultant who felt I had a very good chance – the surgery was eight years ago, I had feeling in the majority of my breasts, and my breasts and nipples had changed with pregnancy (signs that they realized I was pregnant and were getting ready to make milk).  I also started leaking a little colostrum in the last few weeks of pregnancy.

So I went into my delivery cautiously hopeful that I would be able to breastfeed.  I figured from the research that I’d done that I would be able to at least breastfeed some, with the possibility that I’d have to also supplement if I didn’t make enough milk.  But I really, really hoped that I’d be able to exclusively breastfeed.  I mean, I even stopped at the store for brown sugar and made lactation cookies while in labor…I was going to do everything I could to make that happen!

That was also one of my main reasons for wanting to have a natural childbirth.  I knew that having drugs in labor would mean there would be drugs in Hudson’s system, and sometimes the medicated babies are sleepy and have a harder time breastfeeding.  I wanted to give us the best possible start, so I opted to go unmedicated (other than that small bit of Pitocin right at the very end, which I don’t think negatively affected his alertness).

Seconds after Hudson was born they placed him on my chest to do skin-to-skin.  After a few minutes the nurses sat me up and helped me get Hudson to breastfeed for the first time.  We fumbled around but finally got latched and Hudson “nursed” (if you can call it that) for maybe a minute.  But I’d read that babies really aren’t that hungry the first day and mostly just sleep so I wasn’t too worried.

Our plan all along had been for Hudson to room in with us, something that “they” all say is very important in order to establish a breastfeeding relationship.  However, at our hospital either mom or dad has to be awake at all times when baby is in the room, I guess to make sure no baddies come in and snatch him.  After we finally got settled into our room and our families left around midnight, we were exhausted.  We tried to sleep in shifts so that we could keep Hudson with us but after a 32 hour labor and running on no sleep in two days, we just couldn’t do it.  I tried taking the first shift but couldn’t stay awake.  We called the nursery and asked them to take Hudson.  It was definitely the right decision because I don’t think we could have safely stayed awake and cared for him.  They were wonderful – they put a big sign on his bassinet that said “no pacifier” and they brought him back to me in the middle of the night so I could feed him.  I didn’t worry that they were going to give him a paci or a bottle to make him stop crying.  We were able to get some much needed sleep, too.

The next day he didn’t eat much and mostly just slept, which is apparently pretty typical for newborns.  Several nursery nurses were wonderful and helped me try to get him latched.  We didn’t have tons of luck, though.  My nipples had totally flattened out so there wasn’t much for him to latch on to, but they said that was very normal – the fluids from labor had caused my nipples to flatten out but they should go back to normal soon.  In the meantime they gave me a set of breast shells; these dome-like things that you wear between feedings that help to pull your nipple out so that baby will have something to latch on to.

That afternoon I requested to meet with a lactation consultant.  She was pretty helpful trying to teach me how to get a good latch.  However, she said I needed to use a nipple shield until he could latch on well himself.  I really didn’t want to use an artificial nipple because I was afraid that would cause nipple confusion later, or that he would get so dependent on the shield that he would never latch on my nipple.  It was also very hard for me to use and he never really got a good latch with it either, so I quit using it pretty quickly.

I didn’t mention the breast reduction at first, but when it came up awhile into the consultation the LC totally changed her demeanor.  She went from casually helping me as she would any mom to acting like that was a huge game changer and that my chances of breastfeeding had just tanked.  She went on and on about how I probably wouldn’t have enough milk and instructed us to rent a hospital grade breast pump, like, yesterday.  She said I needed to start pumping after every feeding to build up my supply.  So Michael went and picked up a rental pump right away.

I was really discouraged after she left.  I know I shouldn’t have let her get to me, but I guess the postpartum hormones had me out of whack.  I was very shook up and not at all confident in my abilities to breastfeed.

The rest of that day and the next the nurses were great – not only did they continue helping me with my latch when it was time for Hudson to eat, they also helped me set up my pump, told me how to store the milk and wash the pump, and even sterilized the pump parts for me.  It took me awhile after my meeting with the lactation consultant, but my confidence returned and I was even more determined to breastfeed.

We went home Saturday evening, and sometime over night my milk came in.  However, Hudson just wasn’t all that interested in eating.  I had always heard “never wake a sleeping baby” so I just let him sleep as much as he wanted and wasn’t waking him up for feedings.  I didn’t realize that was a bad idea and that he wasn’t eating enough.  We knew his jaundice numbers were high (although no one would tell us what they actually meant) but I didn’t know that I needed to be feeding him as much as I could to flush that jaundice out.  I did pump occasionally during those first few days but not very frequently.

On Monday we went in for a routine check up with the pediatrician and shortly after getting back home got a call that we needed to go back to the hospital immediately because his bilirubin numbers were so high.  Our pediatrician started saying thing about supplementing with formula and doing an IV in order to flush him out, as well as putting him under the bilirubin lights.  I was so upset and did not want to give him any formula.  On our way to the hospital we stopped at Babies R Us and bought a couple of bottles that were supposed to be most like the breast (to prevent nipple confusion) and I took the milk that I had pumped so far.  I really wanted to get a supplemental nursing system, which you wear around our neck and a thin tube goes to your nipple – that way the baby is still latched on to you and you don’t have to use a bottle.  However, we couldn’t find one in town fast enough.

When we got to the hospital I made it clear that I wanted to breastfeed first, then if we had to supplement I wanted to supplement with my pumped breast milk before we used formula.  They brought a pack of formula to our room anyway and left it but I was determined not to use it.

Shortly after we got there, two of the nurses came in to check on me and noticed that the tops of my breasts were very red.  I had briefly noticed it before but thought it was from where Hudson had been laying on my chest and made my skin hot.  One of the nurses really freaked out about how that was an indication of clogged ducts and that I was on my way to having mastitis.  She just really kept going on about how had I not noticed? and it would be really, really bad to get mastitis.

I know what mastitis is and what clogged ducts are, and even that I’m more at risk for clogged ducts because of my surgery (if a duct was cut during surgery and doesn’t go all the way to the nipple then the milk that is made in that duct will have no where to go and get blocked).  However, my milk had come in just barely over 24 hours earlier.  I didn’t realize the blocked ducts and/or mastitis could manifest so very quickly.  I didn’t appreciate being treated like an idiot (however that seemed to be the running theme during much of our hospital experience, but that’s not the point here…).  I am glad that the nurses noticed so we could take care of it before it got too bad.  There were so many lumps that it seemed like I was just one big clogged duct.  I also had some brown scabby-ish things on my nipples that apparently were cracked nipples.

Our night nurse was fantastic.  She truly went above and beyond her duties as our nurse.  Every single time it was time to feed Hudson she would come to our room and help me get him latched on. Then after I fed him I would pump, and while I pumped she and Michael would massage the hard lumps my breasts (think deep tissue painful massage, not nice relaxing massage).  By the time we went home the next evening most of the lumps were gone and the redness had gone away.

We tried feeding Hudson a bottle of pumped milk when we first got readmitted but he refused.  I had requested a supplemental nursing system that I could wear to supplement him while I nursed him (the milk runs out of a bottle into a thin tube, you run the tube down to your nipple so that when the baby latches they get the nipple and the tube in their mouth), but they said they didn’t have any and couldn’t get one for me.  The nurse brought us some syringes and we used that to squirt little bits of pumped milk into his mouth after he had nursed for a while.  You can read more about our whole jaundice experience here, but the short story is that we never had to use the formula.  Between my nursing, the syringe with the pumped milk, and the IV they gave him, we were able to flush him out enough to get the numbers down and go home.

Before we left, I requested to meet with a lactation consultant because things were just not going as well as they should and I figured while I was at the hospital I might as well get some help.  One of the LC’s (not the one I had met with during our post-partum stay) came to meet with me.  I was very disappointed because the first thing she told us to do was to give Hudson a bottle.  Granted, she did teach Michael how to feed him the bottle in a way that would best prevent nipple confusion, but I was very surprised that someone who you would think would do everything possible to promote breastfeeding was having us turn to the bottle first!  She assured us that he would still breastfeed, even though he was going to be getting a bottle now, but that the number one priority was to get the jaundice under control and let my cracked nipples heal.  I agreed that we needed to deal with the jaundice and nipple issues, but I just don’t think we needed to jump on the bottle so very quickly.

After she left, I sat on the edge of the bed and pumped with tears pouring down my face while Michael fed Hudson his first bottle.  It’s not that I didn’t want Michael to get to feed him, and we completely planned on introducing a bottle after a month or so when breastfeeding was established, but to have it pushed on us and to not get to do it in our own time was really hard for me.  Yet again I felt like I’d failed my baby, that I wasn’t “good enough” to feed him enough milk.

We got to go home Tuesday evening and I continued to try to nurse and then we’d give a bottle with a very small amount of pumped milk afterward if he still seemed hungry.  It was a huge struggle though because he’d just scream and scream when I’d try to get him to latch.  I wasn’t sure if it was a bad latch or he couldn’t get the milk out or what, but it definitely wasn’t working for us.  I was concerned that maybe he had a lip tie but after some more investigating it seemed like that wasn’t an issue (I was almost hoping it was because that is something fixable).  There were a few times that I was just so very exhausted that I couldn’t face fighting him again to get him to latch, so I’d have Michael give him a little bit more in a bottle or with a syringe.  It was very frustrating because I was pumping plenty after each feeding, so I knew the milk was in there, he just wasn’t doing a very good job getting it out!

Thursday morning (when he was one week old) we went back to see our pediatrician.  Hudson’s bilirubin levels were fine and he was almost back to his birth weight so she seemed pleased.  She just said she wanted him to be back at birth weight by his two week visit.

I contacted another lactation consultant – this one wasn’t associated with the hospital.  She even comes to your house which was amazing!  I was so tried of hauling Hudson to the doctor that it was nice to have someone come to you.  Anyway, she came out Friday morning and did a weighed feeding where she weighed him before I fed him and again after so we could see about how much milk he was getting.  From that feeding we guessed that he was getting about an ounce and a half, but he probably needed to be getting about two ounces.  She said we still needed to supplement, but she recommended getting rid of the bottle and syringes completely (exactly what I would expect a LC to recommend…unlike what I experienced in the hospital!).  She gave us a supplemental nursing system and showed us how to use that so I could supplement but still keep him at the breast.

Basically, he was just a lazy little nurser.  He took forever and kept falling asleep.  The LC said that he would get better as he got older, we just had to keep working with him.  She said he also had probably gotten used to getting so little milk that we needed to re-teach him what it felt like to get a full feeding using the SNS and then hopefully he’d wake up and realize that he needed to do a little work in order to keep his tummy full.  Also, him sucking at the breast (even if the milk was coming through the SNS instead of me) would stimulate my breasts to produce more.  She helped me with my latch and had me start taking some supplements (fenugreek and alfalfa) to try to boost my supply a little bit to make it easier for him to get the milk out.

For the next few days we nursed, pumped, and supplemented.  The LC wanted me to feed him every two hours, meaning two hours from the start of one feeding to the start of the next.  We tried to keep the feeding sessions to under an hour, but they usually lasted longer than that and then I had to pump (usually about ten-ish minutes) after he finished.  All in all, it ended up being about an hour and a half spent nursing and then getting a very short 30 minute break before starting over again.  I could only get about one thing done per break (shower or hair dried or eat a meal…).  Using the supplementer was way harder than I thought it was going to be.  Getting him latched was hard enough, getting him to latch and get a tiny tube in his mouth was a nightmare.  We’d have to latch over and over again each feeding just to get a semi-decent latch.  It was all so difficult.  Not to mention very painful.  The nights were horrible because as soon as we got to sleep it was time to get up and feed him again.

Back when we took our Bradley classes we had a discussion question about what could dad do to be involved with baby since they can’t really help with breastfeeding.  I look back and laugh now because Michael was so very involved with breastfeed.  He had to be – it took multiple hands to hold the supplementer and get Hudson latched (man, that sounds so easy when I type it…when you’re doing it in person it’s so much more complicated!).  Not to mentioned pump parts to be washed, milk to be stored, the SNS to be set up at each feeding, and the moral support.  Breastfeeding was definitely a team effort for a while there and it took me, Michael, and Mom working around the clock to make it happen.  We all slept very little those first few weeks.

The LC came back on Wednesday of the next week.  Hudson hadn’t lost any weight but he hadn’t gained any either.  She did another weighed feeding and that time he only got a half an ounce from me – less than our first weighed feeding!  I was so disappointed.  She told us to just keep doing what we were doing and supplement a little more.

She left her baby scale with us so that we could do weighed feedings each time and see how much he was getting from me and then supplement with my pumped milk whatever we needed to get him up to that two ounce mark.

It was nice having the baby scale so I could see exactly how much he was getting, but it was also very disappointing because he would nurse for a while and then when we weighed him he would have only gotten 4 mL or maybe 9 mL.  Guys, an ounce is about 30 mL so we’re talking a negligible amount of milk here.  Yet I was pumping and able to get enough pumped milk for him to drink.  I just couldn’t understand why he wasn’t extracting the milk on his own!  He would sit there and suck and suck but obviously nothing was coming out.

That next day, right at the two week mark since he’d been born, was my low point.  I was so frustrated and ready to give up.  Everyone had said, “give it two weeks, it gets better after two weeks”.  It had been two weeks and things weren’t getting better at all.  I had been struggling and struggling with that SNS and the pump, thinking we we’d get to ditch them soon only to find out he was getting next to nothing from me when he nursed.  I was beyond exhausted since I was getting almost no sleep.  I felt like I wasn’t getting to enjoy my sweet boy at all because I spent an hour or so fighting him to try to get him to latch and then to stay awake to suck, then I had to hand him off to someone else so I could pump and maybe get one small thing done then it was time to fight him all over again.  Instead of gazing at my precious boy’s face and oohing and aahing over how adorable he was, we were struggling and I just felt frustrated all the time.

That same night in the middle of the night I dumped a full pumped ounce in my lap.  I completely lost it and cried hysterically.  Dumping pumped milk is always upsetting from what I hear, but I was so very tried and discouraged that it was magnified.  I was just barely keeping up with him by pumping enough at one session to give him at the next to make it a full two ounce feeding, so to lose an ounce was devastating.

I felt guilty because I couldn’t really have people over to visit.  I felt like people thought I was being selfish by not having visitor, but reality was I just couldn’t.  It stressed me out more than anything to try to think about timing a visit in that perfect little 30 minute window when he wasn’t eating or I wasn’t pumping.  I’m sure they understood but that guilt and fear weighed on me on top of all the other issues.

I had a wonderful support system between Michael and my mom there with me, as well as friends who I texted and Facebook messaged almost constantly.  However, at this point they could all see how horrible this was, and while no one was telling me to quit I think they were all supportive of me quitting if that was what I wanted to do and would have completely understood.  It really was a nightmare and I was pretty miserable.

However, I’m a bit stubborn (some might say stupid) and just couldn’t give up yet.  I kept pushing on.  My LC really encouraged me to try to give it just one more week until he was three weeks old so I decided I could probably make it until then.

The next day things actually started to look up a little.  We finally figured out the SNS, so even though I was still having to pump and supplement, at least I wasn’t having to fight to get him latched with the SNS each time.  It only took three or four tries each time to get him latched (believe me, that was a big improvement).

I also contacted a friend of mine who had mentioned that she made an herbal tincture that really helped milk production.  I honestly thought I was doing okay on milk since I was pumping enough, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to increase it some and maybe if I had a little extra milk it would be easier for my lazy guy to get out.

Over the next few days I continued feeding, weighing, pumping, and supplementing.  And watching the Olympics.  Honestly, if it hadn’t been for the Winter Olympics I think I would have gone crazy.  I’m not even a sports fan but it gave me something to do, and since I was sitting in my recliner nursing nearly all day every day I needed a distraction to keep me busy and take my mind off the pain.  I also Googled a lot.  Probably more than in my whole entire life up to that point, but I was constantly trying to figure out what on earth with going on with my little guy.

That Sunday, when Hudson was two and a half weeks old, I got the tincture from my friend.  I took my first dose that night.

wow.

WOW.

That was it.  That was what I needed.  For whatever reason the lactation cookies, the fenugreek, the barley tea, the alfalfa…none of it had made a significant increase in my milk.  But this tincture definitely did.

That very next morning, less than 24 hours after taking my first dose, Hudson went from getting about half an ounce from me at a feeding to a full ounce.  The next day, after my second dose, he was getting two ounces from me at a feeding!  TWO OUNCES!  Apparently it was a milk production issue even though it didn’t seem like that was the problem at the time.

From that point on (the second day of taking the tincture) I didn’t have to pump or supplement a single time.  I kept weighing him before and after feedings just to make sure, but after a while it was apparent that he was getting all he needed from me.  That was a huge, HUGE relief!

I am so, SOOOO glad that I stuck with it a few more days (although I really wish I had known that “magic” tincture was going to make such a difference because I would have gotten it much earlier).

The big problem of him not getting enough milk was solved, but we still weren’t having a easy time.  Breastfeeding was so very painful.  Because of the pain in my nipples I thought we had thrush and started using gentian violet to treat it.  After some more reading I decided that probably wasn’t the problem, but went ahead and finished the four day treatment just in case so I could rule it out.

purple mouthpurple mouth from the thrush treatment

It hurt every time he latched.  It hurt while he nursed.  It hurt when he wasn’t nursing.  After going my whole pregnancy with almost no medicine (two Tums the whole pregnancy) and delivering a baby with no pain medication, I now found myself popping ibuprofen right and left.  I hated that (I really don’t like to take medicine), but that was the only way I could keep feeding him without crying in pain time after time.

His latch wasn’t great and he was crimping my nipple while he ate.  Literally my nipple had a crease in it  after each feeding like when you bite down on the end of a straw.  I tried working with his latch but something just wasn’t working.

In addition to that, and most painful of all, were the vasospasms.  Vasospasms are when the blood vessels clamp down and restrict blood flow to a specific area…in my case, my nipples.  They would blanch white and the pain was horrible.  From what I read, that is common among people who’ve had breast surgeries.  Also from what I read there really isn’t any treatment other than giving it time (in most people’s cases it went away after several months, yes months) or taking blood pressure medicine which I really, really wanted to avoid.

And on top of everything else were the gas issues.  I think he’d gotten so used to sucking and sucking and no milk coming out that when the milk did start flowing he didn’t know how to deal with it.  He would gulp and choke while he was nursing and I could actually hear the milk gurgling around in his stomach.  That made him really gassy and in pain.  He also started spitting up quite a bit more.  For a week or so I was concerned about oversupply, overactive letdown, acid reflux, food allergy, and/or foremilk-hindmilk imbalance, but things have worked themselves out and I think he just needed an adjustment period.

I took him to the chiropractor to try to help with the latch issues and the gas problems.  We had him adjusted four days in a row and it did seem to help some.  A friend once told us that when you have a baby all scientific reasoning goes out the window – instead of changing one thing at a time and watching to see how that changes things, you just change all kinds of things at once and try everything you can think of.  That is definitely the truth!  We started probiotics for both him and me, we used gas drops and gripe water, we used the Windi (this weird thing that you put in their bottom to help release the gas…it works but it’s kind of gross!), we did tummy massages, you name it, we did it.

He will be eight weeks old on Thursday.  He no longer crimps my nipples.  The vasospasms are much more rare now and he no longer gulps and chokes when he eats.  It is still hurts sometimes when he latches but I have no idea why. I’m hoping that the pain, like all the other issues we’ve dealt with, will correct itself with time.  In light of all the other things we’ve dealt with, that latch pain isn’t really a big deal.  At least he’s not starving, we’re done in 45 minutes or less, and there are no more pumps or supplementers to deal with.

We did it.  We are exclusively breastfeeding.  In spite of a breast reduction, flat nipples, jaundice, clogged ducts, cracked nipples, a lazy eater, low supply, a bad latch, and painful vasospasms, we made it.  And I couldn’t be more proud.  I can now go places or have people over and know that if he gets hungry it’s no big deal.  I can feed him now anytime, anywhere.

So….

That turned out to be a much longer post than I intended (and could have been even longer but I started condensing some details there at the end).  I’m not even sure what the point is other than for me just to write my memories down.  I tried to get this written as soon as I could so I could remember everything, but even just a few weeks out it all seems so hazy.  Some of that I’m sure is because of how sleep deprived I was.  Some of it is probably my body’s way of making me forget the horribleness of it all.

I guess I should try to find some moral or something to my story.  If I could give one piece of advice it would be this: find yourself a really good lactation consultant and a good support system.  I am sure that we would not still be breastfeeding today if it hadn’t been for the LC who worked so hard to get us breastfeeding.  Getting in touch with a LC who could provide me with the SNS, do the weighed feedings, and let me know that others have been in the same place as me made all the difference in the world.  And having Michael and my mom there to basically take care of everything else so that I could do nothing but nurse, nurse, nurse was a lifesaver.

I know this really wasn’t an encouraging story.  I mean, yes, it does have a happy ending but seven nightmarish weeks of breastfeeding is not something anyone wants to deal with.  Please don’t let this deter you from breastfeeding, I’m pretty sure my experience wasn’t the norm.  But understand that if you do struggle that others have been there and there are people out there who can help you.  And know that I won’t judge you in the least if you give up and switch to formula.  I was so close to that point and I completely understand why many people give up breastfeeding.  It is really, really hard.

Breastfeeding was my Mount Everest.  My marathon.  It was something that I felt so very passionate about and was going to do absolutely everything I could to make it happen.  It turned out being much harder than I anticipated but I persevered on and we did it.  I couldn’t be more proud.

Photo Mar 18, 8 33 49 AMmy sweet boy growing big thanks to Mommy’s milk

40 (ish) weeks of belly pictures

Taking my belly pictures week by week was fun, but you just don’t notice the changes since they happen so gradually.  When I look back at the pictures from the beginning of my pregnancy it’s amazing how much I changed!  I put my pictures together in a collage so I can have them all in one place.

week by week collageIt’s funny to me how big I thought I was back when my belly first popped out, or even at 28, 29ish weeks.  I just thought I had a big belly – ha!

Here’s a fun comparison from my first belly picture to my last:

4 weeks vs 39 weeksI remember when we took that first picture, the day after we found out I was pregnant, that I thought “Look at how my belly sticks out!  I already look pregnant!”.  Oh my, I look back now and just wish my belly was that small!  Maybe someday…

What fun this journey has been!  It’s so nice now to be able to bend down, to not have the back pain, to have more than five items of clothing that fit, to not waddle, and to change positions quickly…and yet, I kind of miss my pregnant belly.  It was wonderful to feel him moving and kicking inside me, knowing that my body was growing a little human.

It’s pretty amazing to hold that little human in my arms now :).

Hudson’s birth story

our Bradley method birth story

*warning: some personal, semi-graphic details ahead.  If you are male, related to me, or otherwise think you might never be able to look at me the same, now may be a good time to stop reading…I’ll go ahead and tell you the punch line – Hudson was born after 32 hours of labor*

As you know if you’ve been reading my blog, my plan was to have a natural childbirth.  We attended childbirth classes to learn the Bradley method of natural childbirth.  Before birth I was fascinated by other people’s natural childbirth stories, especially because it gave me an idea of what to expect.  Judging from the amount of people who have asked to hear Hudson’s birth story, it seems like many of you like to read them, too.  Like I mentioned, I’m going to go into some detail.  Nothing too graphic, but there are things I’d have liked to know ahead of time so I want to include those as well.

One other thing, my labor was atypical.  There were several strange things that happened that I think don’t happen normally, so please don’t let my experience scare you away!

It starts with my water breaking in the middle of school and ends a long, 32 hours later.  Thirty-two hours of labor makes for one long blog post, so grab a snack…this is going to take a while.

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You know how it’s always really dramatic when someone’s water breaks in a movie, but you never hear about things like that in real life?  Well, here’s a real life example for you…

Wednesday, January 22 started out as any other day.  I was 38 weeks and 6 days along, and not at all expecting to go into labor.  I had only been dilated 1 cm at my last appointment, and I hadn’t felt any contractions (that I could tell).  I felt just a little crampy that morning, like mild period cramps.  I’d heard before that some people felt crampy before they started labor so I took tiny note of it, but figured it meant nothing.  I also had a few of what I assumed might be Braxton Hicks contractions, just very mild tightening of my belly.  Not uncomfortable and hardly noticable.

At 11:30 I was in the library teaching my 5th graders.  On this particular day, “teaching” them meant they were sitting in the library classroom listening to/watching an e-book.  I was sitting in the back of the classroom in a chair with the kids in the last row.  

As I was sitting there, I felt a little bubble of liquid.  I assumed it was a little pee escaping as, unfortunately, sometimes randomly happens during pregnancy.  However, that little bubble of “pee” quickly picked up speed and went running down my legs.  I sat there in shock as it just kept running and running.  Then I finally picked up my phone and texted our school nurse and said “Come fast my water just broke I think”.  Next I texted both Michael and our doula to tell them that I thought my water had broken.

As I was sitting there waiting for Ashley (our nurse) to come help me and hoping that the kids wouldn’t notice anything amiss, I felt two more big gushes of water.  A minute or so later Ashley comes into the library and I heard her call my name.  She didn’t know we were in the classroom and she called my name again.  I finally called out to her so she would know where to find me.  Of course that made the kids all turn and look so I just tried to wave them off and get them to turn back to their book.

I told Ashley that I thought my water had broken and that I was sitting in it and didn’t know what to do.  Obviously there really wasn’t anything she could do, I just needed some moral support I guess.  I sent her to get our guidance counselor because I knew I needed someone to watch my class.  Then I got up and grabbed the chair I’d been sitting in and backed out of the classroom, dragging the chair with me.

When I say my water gushed, I mean there was a puddle on the floor and my shoes were filled and sloshed when I walked.  As one of the 5th graders described it to her teacher later, “her water broke and it was like she pee-pee’d in the floor!” (so much for them not noticing, huh?).  Gross, I know.

From the time my water broke until I left school, the timeline is a little bit of a blur because I was so shocked.  I remember sloshing around in my wet shoes logging off the computers, packing up my lunch and my belongings, locking my office, and talking to a few teachers who came by after hearing the news.  I felt like a bit of a spectacle!  I called Michael because he hadn’t answered my text.  He didn’t answer my call so I called his work phone and told him that my water had broken and I would meet him at home.  He said he knew when he saw my number on his work phone that it was go time…I never call his work number unless it’s an emergency.

Everyone around me was freaking out that I needed to go to the hospital or that I shouldn’t drive myself home, but I was pretty much calm.  I just felt like I still had plenty of time (boy did I ever…)  I did have Ashley pull my van around front so I wouldn’t have to walk so far, and someone else helped me carry my belongings to the car.

When I got to the car, I was SO thankful for the “in case I go into labor and I’m not at home” bag that I had put in the car a few weeks ago.  I bought some of those puppy pee pads and stuck them in my labor bag – I laid one in my seat and another on the floorboard under my feet.  I’m so glad I was able to protect my leather seats!  I hopped in the car and off I went!

I called my mom on the way home to tell her what happened, and then called Michael to give him more details.  On the way home I finally figured out that I was having contractions.  I only knew because I would notice a new gush of water after a tiny belly tightening…so I figured that the belly tightening was a contraction.  Again, very thankful for the pee pads that caught the water (I had at least two, if not more contractions on the way home).

When I got home Michael came out to the garage to help me in.  Thus started the “Michael cleans up way more of my bodily fluids than he ever expected before age 80” theme of the next 30ish hours.  He helped me to the bathroom so I could shower off and while I was showering he cleaned up the trail of amniotic fluid that was following me around as well as dumping out my fluid-filled shoes and washing them off for me.

After I showered, I changed into some dry clothes and another favorite weird-but-necessary labor purchase: Depends.  I’d actually bought them for after delivery to help with bleeding, but I ended up using a bunch of them during labor because your water just keeps on breaking, and all evening long I kept a pretty steady flow.  Having the Depends to catch them was great – I could just throw them away when I got wet and not have it running all down my legs.

Seriously, if you’re pregnant, just go ahead and buy some puppy pee pads and Depends.  Use the self check out if you need to, but just do it.

At this point, I was not in any pain and I totally planned to ride out the next few hours at home until labor got hard enough for me to go to the hospital.  However, since my water had broken we knew we needed to call the doctor.  They said I should come on in to the hospital to get checked, so we went ahead and packed up all the bags (don’t worry, my “what to take to the hospital” list will be coming up in a later post…) just in case they kept us.  To the hospital we go!

IMG_9073Last belly picture – 38 weeks, 6 days; about to head to the hospital

IMG_3053on our way to the hospital – last picture as a family of two!

When we got to the hospital around 1:30 they put us in a room and a nurse came in.

A little back story: a coworker’s wife had just delivered a baby at the same hospital maybe a week or two earlier.  She’d had a horrible experience with a particular nurse doing a cervical check that resulted in an emergency C-section because of hemorrhaging.  He warned me about her so I’d know just in case.

Well, who do you suppose walked in?

I just about had a heart attack on the bed there.  I was trying to silently communicate to Michael that this was THE nurse, but he thought her name was something else so he didn’t get it right at first.

She was actually pretty nice and asked me a million questions (most which we had already filled out in our pre-registration paperwork but had to go through and answer again…so what was the point of pre-registering?).  She hooked me up to the monitor (just two strips that velcro around your belly – one to monitor your contractions, the other to monitor baby’s heart rate).  She also had to check the fluid to make sure it was amniotic fluid.  I let her do that (it was non-invasive, just touch a litmus-type strip to my leg), but I declined the cervical check she wanted to do.  It was in my birth plan to limit cervical checks anyway, so it wasn’t too strange of a request.  I didn’t want to be rude and say “you almost killed my friend, you can’t touch me!”, although I would have if it’d come down to that, but I tried to find tactful ways to keep her hands off.

I told her a few times that we’d really like to talk to our doctor because I wanted to go home until labor really picked up, so they paged my doctor and we waited for him to get there.  When he got there he wanted to do a cervical check to make sure the umbilical cord hadn’t fallen down in front of my cervix and I let him (I trust him much more than the nurse!).  I was only dilated to 2cm.  He had us do an ultrasound to make sure Hudson was turned head-down.  Everything checked out, so they let us go home with the orders to come back at 9pm to get monitored again, and then again at 6am.  If nothing had happened by 6am, he said they would start me on an antibiotic so that I wouldn’t get an infection from my water being broken for so long.

We left the hospital around 3:00.  I called my chiropractor from the hospital and cancelled my 3:30 appointment.  Although, in hindsight I think I should have kept it…I could have used a last minute adjustment!

On the way home we stopped and ran some errands.  I wanted to make a batch of lactation cookies to take with us, but I was out of brown sugar so we stopped at Kroger for sugar.  I had a package to mail to the Gaines’ so we dropped that off at the post office, and then we took some returns to Babies R Us.  It was funny at Babies R Us because the lady behind us was wearing a mask over her mouth.  She must have thought that worried me because she said “It must be coming up soon!  Don’t worry, I’m not sick, I’ve had chemo so I have to wear this mask to keep the germs away from me, but I’m not contagious”.  I just smiled and said I wasn’t concerned but inside was thinking, if only she knew I was actually laboring away right in front of her.

When we got home I went to work making my lactation cookies, running a load of laundry to wash my amniotic fluid soaked clothes, and taking pictures of Hudson’s nursery.  I had just finished the last part of the nursery (the lamp) the night before and I really wanted to get that post done.  I already had most of the writing done, I just needed to add in the pictures.  I also washed some dishes and tidied up a little bit.  While I puttered around, Michael paid some bills and got some of his things done.  I also found out that my friend who was planning to come be my doula couldn’t make it due to the weather conditions where she lives.  So Michael and I were on our own!  (He was a fantastic birth coach, by the way)

Not that you can plan these things, but I’d hoped that I’d go into labor, be able to labor at home privately, then go to the hospital and *surprise!* baby is here!  I just didn’t really want everyone in the world to know and be waiting for news.  Well…when your water breaks at school and news travels fast, that kind of shoots a hole in those plans.

Several people from school were commenting on my Facebook page and of course everyone could see that and started asking questions.  So I went ahead and just posted an update on Facebook letting everyone know what was going on and asking for prayers.  I figured it was better to get accurate information out there than have everyone sitting around speculating.  So much for laboring quietly though…

Once I had all my little housekeeping chores done, I got down to business trying to get labor started.  I really didn’t want to be induced and knew that if my labor didn’t progress fast enough that my doctor would start pushing for an induction.  So I started sucking on Dum -Dums (there is a pressure point on the top of your mouth that can help start labor…using a sucker is a good way to press it), walking circles around our house (it was way too cold to go outside), having Michael massage another pressure point on my ankle, using my breast pump, and using essential oils that were recommended to help speed up labor.

Around 7:00 pm I finally started feeling some actual contractions.  They weren’t hard yet and I couldn’t tell a clear start or stop time, but at least I could tell I was having them.  I walked around in circles in mild labor until time to go back to the hospital at 9:00pm.

At the hospital they put us in another room and put the monitoring bands on me.  By that point I was actually having to focus and relax during contractions.  They weren’t horrible, but they required my focus.  The nurse ran the monitor for a while and said everything looked fine and we could go home.  We were starving for supper, so we ordered a pizza to pick up on the way.  We got to Domino’s and Michael went in to get our pizza.  As he was in the restaurant, I got a call from the hospital – it was the nurse saying that some of the other nurses had looked at Hudson’s heart rate strip and were a little concerned.  They wanted me to turn around and come back.  So back we went.

We each ate a slice of pizza in the car and then threw the pizza away in the trash on our way back in.  What a bummer to throw away a fresh, hot pizza…but didn’t want to stink up the car if we were there for a while!  We went back to labor and delivery for the third time that day, they strapped on the fetal monitor, and I laid there for a good long time while they monitored us.  They did another cervical check and I was 4 to 5 cm dilated.  My contractions were intense and painful and required lots of focus and relaxation.  Most of the time the nurses would wait until the contraction was over to ask questions or do anything, but this one nurse just chattered away at me during one until finally I said “shhhh shhh shhhh” really loud at her.  I felt rude, but I really needed the quiet.  I was very shaky while we were there; my whole body shook uncontrollably like I was cold.  The nurse called them labor shakes but I’m thinking they were the beginning of transition.

Everything checked out fine and they let us go home, with the plan that if nothing had happened by 6am I had to come back to the hospital no matter what.  We left the hospital around midnight.

When we got home we both got ready to bed hoping I might be able to sleep through the contractions (yeah, right) and Michael sat his alarm for 5:00 for us to get up and go to the hospital.  No sooner had we flipped the covers off and Michael climbed into bed did the contractions hit hard.  From everything we learned in our Bradley class, transition hit soon after.

Transition is the part of labor that is the most intense, where most people want to give up.  It doesn’t usually last long and if you can make it through that then you’re good to go.  I am fairly certain that this was my transition, with the exception that usually transition signals that you are close to the end and I definitely was not close to the end.  I still had many hours to go.

But during this time, which was about twenty minutes long, I showed many signs of transition.  My contractions were long and very close together.  I knelt on the bed draped over my birth ball and rocked side to side.  At one point I got really nauseated and told Michael I was going to throw up but I never did.  He says I also kept saying “Make it stop”.  I was so focused that I didn’t even realize he had gotten the car ready for us to go to the hospital.  Another traditional transition-thing is the loss of modesty.  I fit this as well; when it was finally time to get dressed to go to the hospital, I just slipped a dress over my head and put my coat and shoes on – no bra, no leggings.  My dress wasn’t that short, but somehow I must not have pulled it down far enough because it was as short as my coat and I walked into the hospital like that in the freezing weather and didn’t even notice or care.

Fun fact for my own memories…on the way to the hospital the check engine light came on the van.  Michael didn’t tell me until later, of course, but I know he was sweating it the whole way there!

We got to the hospital right at 2:00am.  The nurses checked me and I was dilated to 6 or 7 cm.  They inserted my hep-loc and just left us be to labor away.  From 2:00am until 11:00am I labored, trying to relax through my contrations.  When we got there at 2:00, Michael and I both thought that we’d have a baby in our arms by 6 or 7 am, since things had moved so fast previously.  That was unfortunately not to be.  At 5:00ish am I had to get an antibiotic since my water had been broken for  over 18 hours.

Honestly, the contractions themselves weren’t too bad.  They were intense but not painful.  What was painful, however, was this horrible hip pain that I had.  It was right in my hip flexor area and it was so incredibly painful.  It was hard to relax during the contractions because of that.  I had Michael applying pressure with a tennis ball on my back to try to counteract the hip pain and it helped some, but not enough.  I think if it weren’t for the hip pain, labor would have been much, much easier.  I don’t know if Hudson was turned weird and hung on my hip, or if he was pressing on a nerve, but something in there was messed up.  I prayed and prayed for a release from the pain.

At 8:00 am Michael encouraged me to try rocking my hips to help with the hip pain.  I knelt on all fours on the bed and swayed from side to side, then stood up and leaned on Michael and swayed.  Finally, finally the hip pain subsided, so that must have shifted whatever it was causing the pain.  I just wish I had known to do that hours earlier!

Michael was such a trooper.  He wiped amniotic fluid off my legs countless times when I would change positions and it would come leaking out.  Having a full bladder makes contractions even worse but it hurt too bad to sit on the toilet to pee.  He laid down a pee pad on the floor and helped me hover to pee on the floor.  He dealt with more bodily fluids than he ever expected to this side of eighty years old.

At 11:00 I had finally dilated to 1o cm and was given the go ahead to push when I felt like it.  It actually felt good to push through the contractions – like I was doing something productive.  I alternated between squatting on the end of the bed using a squat bar and leaning back on the bed and lifting my legs into the “classic” squat position but putting my feet on the squat bar and pushing against it.  However, my contractions just didn’t seem to be doing anything.  They were pretty far apart and the pushing wasn’t that intense.  We were even able to take little cat naps between contractions.  I labored like that for hours with no progress.  My doctor started getting concerned and really wanted to give me Pitocin but I kept trying to hold him off, thinking things would progress on their own.  After a while I did allow them to send some saline and glucose water through my IV to try to help if dehydration was the problem.  Apparently that wasn’t it because the extra IV didn’t do anything.

 sleeping during contractionssleeping in between contractions

Oh and for those of you who are afraid you’ll poop on the delivery room table…yeah, well you probably will so get over it.  And it may not just be at the end.  I mean, hopefully you won’t push for nearly 8 hours like I did, but if you push for a while, you will probably push some poop out.  And pee on yourself.  Because that pushing you do to get baby out is the same method that eliminates waste.  And the nurses aren’t in the room with you all the time so your champion husband may have to help clean you up after pushes.  I’m just sayin’.

Let me tell you, I have no dignity left after childbirth.  It is gross and messy and primal and at the time you just don’t care.

Anyway, my doctor was getting really worried after I’d been in labor so long.  He was afraid that if we waited any longer, Hudson’s head would swell and not be able to get out of my birth canal and we’d have to do a C-section.  Michael was worried that I’d be too exhausted to push him out when the time came, so he was encouraging me to get a little help.  Finally, at 5:30pm I consented to a little Pitocin to try to kick things into gear.

We started small, just 2 ml per hour.  Every twenty minutes they bumped it up – 4 ml per hour, then 6 ml, and then 8 ml.  I’m not sure that the bump up to 8 ml was necessary.  My contractions were intense and hurt and I really had to bear down when I pushed.  I think my doctor, once he got the go ahead with the Pitcoin, really wanted Hudson out of there as soon as possible.  He sent the nurse in for one more bump up to 10 ml per hour.  That was really the only thing I had a problem with in my labor is how much Pitocin they shot through me in such a short amount of time.  That stuff is strong!

My contractions were coming less than a minute apart and I pushed like there was no tomorrow.  The nurses came in and started getting things ready.  The turned me on my side and had me put one leg up in the stirrup to push for a little bit rather than on my back in the classic pushing position.  At this point, Hudson was still turned sideways or face up, and they really wanted to get him turned face down for delivery.  That position must have worked because within a few pushes I felt a strange pressure then release and they said he had turned.

After that things moved very fast.  They turned me back over and my doctor came in – he said I was just a few good pushes away.  He said he was going to help me out some so he put his fingers in and kind of held me open (I’m sorry, I know that’s way too much information, but I wish I had known some of these things).  I assume to kind of stretch things out so I didn’t tear.  It hurt like nothing I’ve ever felt before and for the first time I started screaming.  I screamed bloody murder, just like you see on tv, all through that contraction and kept yelling for my doctor to stop.  After that contraction my doctor tried to calm me down and told me that he didn’t mind my yelling but that he really needed me to direct my breath into my pushing instead of using it to yell.  The next few contractions (I really don’t know how many, maybe three or four?) I held my breath and pushed instead of screaming.  It was so very hard.  The pain was indescribable.  My doctor was yelling “good, good, good” and Michael was counting in my right ear and the nurse was saying other nonsense in my left year.  It was chaotic.

During one contraction I remember my doctor said, “He has a lot of hair” and I yelled “He better, as much heartburn as I’ve had!”.

At 7:55, Hudson Michael was born.  When he finally came out I felt his head emerge and then the rest of his body just kind of slid out.  I didn’t have to push any after his head popped out.  I had kept my eyes closed during most of the last bit of labor because I was so focused and overwhelmed so it took me a second to realize he was here and I needed to open my eyes.  The doctor held Hudson up so I could see him and he was all purple-y and bloody and gross and perfect.  He was absolutely the most amazing thing I’d ever seen.

My doctor clamped the cord and Michael cut it.  They laid Hudson on my chest and the pain was worth it.  I promise.  People say that you forget the pain; I’m going to have to say nope.  Not anytime soon.  Not after 32 long hours.  However, the pain is totally worth it when you hear that first cry and see your baby.  He came out crying but as soon as they laid him on my chest, he stopped.  Like he knew I was his mommy and that everything was okay now that I was holding him.  It was the most amazing experience of my life.

In our birthing class we watched some videos of natural childbirth.  I was so intrigued by the fact that these women were nearly silent during the pushing (not screaming like on tv, or like I did during that one contraction), but as soon as their babies were born they babbled nonsense like they were on drugs.  I thought they seemed so ridiculous.

Well, add me to the list of ridiculous people (fortunately I’m not caught on tape) because I did the same thing as soon as Hudson was born.  I kept saying “That’s my baby, that’s my baby!” over and over again and then just said all kinds of silly things as they laid him on my chest.

My doctor pushed on my stomach and stuff to help me deliver the placenta (it kind of just came sliding out, it didn’t hurt like I thought it might).  I had one interior tear; I don’t know how large or what degree or anything.  He stitched me up and of course, since I didn’t have an epidural I could feel it.  I think he used some numbing stuff but I could still feel them.  But honestly, all the stuff that happened after was a blur because I was so focused on Hudson.

They let us lay there for a while and then they took Hudson across the room to be weighed and measured.  Michael got to go with him and take pictures.  They wiped him off with a towel and then brought him back to me so we could do skin-to-skin for a little while.  They administered his Vitamin K shot and his eye goop while he was laying there on me.  He did so good and didn’t even cry.  Michael got some cookies out of our snack bag and I ate several (this was the first I’d eaten since 10pm the night before, except for one tiny granola bar that I snuck during labor while the nurses were out of the room).

IMG_90826 pounds, 14 ounces; 19 and 1/4 inches long

After a while they took him to get his bath and took me to our post-partum room.  Michael got to carry him to the nursery to get his bath and then stand behind the glass with our parents and watch.

IMG_3068

first bath

The nurses wheeled me to our room, helped me clean up, and showed me how to take care of my stitches.  I still had my IV in, so I couldn’t really change clothes but they did put me in a clean gown.  They had to go over some care procedures about pain medicine, my IV, how they would come check my stomach, etc.  I got in the bed and waited for my boys to get back.  I was so shaky and nauseated and felt absolutely awful.  No wonder, after 32 hours of labor!  I texted Gina and she said to drink some orange juice.  Duh!  That’s a Bradley thing that we learned in class.  I never really understood why everyone drank oj after labor, but we had packed some anyway.  It was in a cooler in the car so after Michael got back I sent him out to get it.

Michael came back a little later, but the nurse wouldn’t bring Hudson in from his bath until they had gone over some procedures and such with us (hospital policy on him rooming in, who was allowed to transport him, etc.).  I know they have to do that, but I was about to jump out of my skin to see my baby.  They finally finished and brought him in and we were able to start our life as a little family of three.

IMG_9089So happy to have this little guy in my arms!

IMG_3075drinking our Bradley orange juice

_____________________________________________________

Time is so strange when you’re in labor.  I used to hear people say that they pushed for two hours and think “Oh man, I would die.  That sounds so awful!”.  Well, I pushed for eight but it wasn’t eight straight hours of excruciating pain (just about 20 minutes of that…), so it didn’t seem that terrible.

Trust me, it felt like a long time, but then at the same time, it went by much faster than I expected.  32 hours of labor is so long.  I’ve had three friends recently who have been induced and all three of them had much quicker labors than me.  So much for natural childbirth being faster since there are no drugs to slow things down!  But I think the time passed much faster for me than for the people outside of the labor room.  Several people mentioned how worried they were since my water had broken Wednesday and they still hadn’t heard anything on Thursday.  I just had a weird, slow labor, that’s all!

I hope I haven’t scared you away from natural childbirth.  I really think I had an unusual experience that is much worse than most people’s.  Obviously I don’t have anything to compare it to, but I’m pretty sure I’d still choose natural over medicated.

I’m praying that my next labor is much shorter though!

People have asked me if I got to have the birth I wanted.  Well, yes and no.  My ideal would have been to labor easily and quietly at home, wait until the contractions get more intense and then head to hospital, be ready to push when I get there, and push him out with little pain in a very short amount of time.  Obviously that didn’t happen.

However, I was able to have a completely natural childbirth with no epidural.  I only needed Pitocin for the last hour and a half of labor.   I am not one bit disappointed in my birth, and I feel like it was a true natural, Bradley method birth.

Besides, at the end of the day we had a healthy baby, healthy momma, and that’s what matters.

IMG_3064

an ode to my car

Ok, not really an ode, because Ode : A poem in which a person expresses a strong feeling of love or respect for something or someone (why yes, I did have to go to Merriam-Webster.com to look that up) and this is certainly not poetry.

But anyway…

Before I completely transition to being a minivan mom (got the minivan…waiting on the mom part – any day now!), I wanted to reminisce upon my one and only car that has served me so well these past 8.5 years.

1997 Toyota Camry

Toyota Camry 1997The deal in my house growing up was that whatever car money you came up with my parents would match that, plus you have to pay your own insurance and gas.  When I turned 16 I didn’t have near enough money saved up for a car, so I just borrowed my mom’s van when I needed it and kept on saving.  The summer before I left for college (2005) I finally had enough saved up: $2,500, which, once they met that amount, would give me $5,000 for a car.

We started looking around for something suitable.  One afternoon my dad called saying that he had stopped by a dealership on his way home from work and found one he thought I would like.  Another woman was looking at the car, but didn’t think she was going to have enough credit to buy it, so he told me to hurry up and get there in case she had to pass.  Mom and I jumped in the car and drove over to Madison.

We got there, I test-drove the 1997 Toyota Camry you see in the pictures above, and when the woman was unable to purchase it we marched inside and wrote a check for $5,000 (give or take).  I was so proud.

Let me tell you, have I gotten my money’s worth!  It’s not the most glamorous of cars.  It’s probably one of the most generic cars out there (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked up to an identical Camry in a parking lot, stuck my keys in the door, and tried to get in…before realizing that wasn’t my car).  The clicker hasn’t worked in years (and back in college I was way too cheap to pay the $80 to get it fixed), the leather seats are cracked, the trunk lock doesn’t work so you can’t open it from the outside, and the tint is peeling horribly off the back window…just to name a few.

But for a 16 year old car it’s in pretty good shape, and for the past 8.5 years is has been a workhorse.

Having to work for my car and pay for a lot of it myself taught me to be very appreciative and take good care of it.  And having paid for the whole thing upfront really made me appreciate not ever having a car payment.  The summer after my freshman year of college I got my first job working at a daycare.  Almost every penny I made that summer went to purchasing a new set of tires.

Since I bought my car in 2005, we’ve put over 100,000 miles on it.  It had 122,439 miles on it when I bought it.  Back in August we hit the “100,000 miles driven” mark:

222,439Fun fact: I knew that I was approaching the 100,000 mark as we headed to Springfield for the day.  Unfortunately my pregnancy brain caused me to leave my slip of paper with the exact number written on it at home and of course I didn’t have the number memorized.  Michael knew it was important to me so for 30 miles he held his camera there and took a picture at every.single.mile.marker until we were confident we had passed the mark.  Then when we got home I was able to have the “right” picture.  He is so great.

Speaking of Michael, he is the main reason my car has run as well and as long as it has.  He does almost all the maintenance on it himself and takes great care of it.  Working on cars was not really something he did much before we were married, but he taught himself a lot over the past few years.  In fact, he even has a YouTube channel where he posts videos about car repairs…apparently lots of people are trying to figure out how to work on their Camry’s as well, because those car videos get a lot of hits!

I bought the car right after Michael had his wisdom teeth taken out.  I drove it to his house to show him and he got in it, sat there, inspected some stuff, rev’d the engine…and was so doped up on meds after his surgery that he doesn’t remember any of that!  He wasn’t super happy with my car choice – he comes from an American-made car only family and so buying a Toyota was a no-no.  However, after a few years (once we got married and he started driving it some), he came around and really liked it.  Especially the good gas mileage part.

But never fear, the Camry is still with us.  We decided to keep it rather than trade it in when we bought my van.  Michael also has an older vehicle, a 1999 GMC Sierra pickup that’s probably in worse shape than the Camry.  So now I drive the van and he alternates between the car and the truck.  Keeping the car gave us another option for a vehicle with a carseat (no carseat in the truck because it doesn’t have a backseat) and that gives us a backup in case one is having problems.  With our “older fleet” (as Michael calls it), this is a pretty likely occurrence (in fact, the day after we bought the van both headlights in the Camry went out…).  Plus when you’re used to having a pick up truck around, it’s hard to imagine not having one at all – even if you don’t drive it all the time they are just so handy to have for hauling and stuff!

I thought I’d be all sentimental and sad about not driving my car anymore, but to be honest it hasn’t been hard at all!  I guess it helps that we didn’t sell it – I think I would have been a little sad to see it go completely.  But after that first day I drove the van to work, I haven’t looked back once (amazing, given my misgivings about vans!).  In fact, it was probably almost two months before I even got back in the Camry, and then I realized how low and uncomfortable the seats were compared to my van!

If you made it this far, you deserve a high five!  This is one of those posts that I write just for my own memories some day, not to try to entertain my readers (sorry, I just don’t know how many of you care about the story of my car!).

project elephant part 2

We had another productive weekend and got a few more things marked off our to-do list…eating that elephant one bite at a time!  Here’s what we’ve gotten done:

1. I finished Hudson’s baby quilt

navy and green baby quilt

 

You can see more details about the quilt here

2. I made an adorable turkey wreath.

turkey wreathI saw the wreath on Pinterest but there were no instructions so I just made it up myself.  It wasn’t hard at all!  Basically I just wrapped part of a wreath form (the white ones in the styrofoam section at Hobby Lobby) with brown yarn, then cut strips of red, orange, and yellow tulle to tie around the rest of the wreath for feathers (I ended up using almost 1.5 yard of each color).  The eyes are white styrofoam balls from Hobby Lobby with Sharpie’d pupils.  The beak and wattle (is that what that thing is called?) are felt.  Tying all the tulle was time consuming, but overall this was a super easy project…you could easily finish it while watching a favorite tv show or two.

3. I slipcovered our ottoman

orange slipcovered ottoman

In an effort to un-beige our living room without having to buy all new furniture or paint the whole downstairs, I decided to make a slipcover for the ottoman.  I thought that would give us one less beige piece of furniture and add a little more color to the room.  For some reason I really wanted an orange ottoman with a pattern – that is hard to find my friends!  I finally found this fabric at Hobby Lobby and think it is perfect!  This project was nearly an elephant in and of itself.  This was by far one of my hardest sewing projects yet and required much more time than I anticipated, a lot of stress, and even a few tears.  But all in all, I’m happy with how it turned out.  Just don’t look too closely so that you don’t see all the flaws!  I drew inspiration from several tutorials, but this one was the one I mainly used (in case you want to make one, too, I used cotton duck fabric and needed 3.5 yards).

orange swirl slipcovered ottomanPardon the mess and the huge pile of pillows I need to figure out what to do with (but hey, that’s what project elephant is all about, right? celebrating the little successes even when the whole thing isn’t finished).  Here’s the ottoman along with the new rug.  I really like it!

You might remember from when I showed you the rug the first time that there used to be a coffee table in front of the couch and the ottoman used to be pushed in that corner, almost like another small couch/chair.  What I’ve decided to do (for now) is to put the coffee table in the attic and just use the ottoman right now.  The main reason being because it was getting crowded in there, but also because every little kid that comes over tries to climb on the iron parts of the coffee table and gets their limbs stuck.  I know we could teach Hudson not to do that (plus that’s a long way down the road), but I’m afraid every time one of my friends comes over with their little one that it would be an issue.  So for now, we’re going to see how we like it without a coffee table at all.

That empty corner where the ottoman used to be is bugging me, but in just a few weeks I’ll put up the Christmas tree there and then once we take the tree down we’ll use that corner for Hudson’s play pen, swing, toys, etc., so I won’t have to live with it empty for long.

That’s what I got done this weekend – what about you?

Linking up with Abbie

five days five ways | project elephant

You can see my first round of Project Elephant projects here.