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Monday, October 16, 2017

All of Our Car Seat Choices and Recommendations (From Infant to Booster)

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog
We did it- we just bought the last car seat that will ever go into my car for Caroline! She's been in the infant seat, a convertible seat, and now is in a combination car seat that will go from a 5 point harness, to a high back booster, to a backless booster.

Car seats are so intimidating to us. Figuring out which ones to purchase (what features we want to have, how much we want to spend, and how easy the installation is going to be) is always daunting. We've been very happy with our choices, however, so I wanted to take a moment to share our thoughts.

Here you'll find a list of all of the car seats we've purchased, along with my reviews of these seats and our impression after having used them:

1. Infant car seat

Our choice: Chicco Key Fit 30

Reasoning: We based this decision on 2 factors:

Friday, October 13, 2017

A Tree for April

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

I don't cry as often. I smile more. Yesterday the tears came so hard, though. I envisioned this moment as a celebration of April's life. I'd known for awhile that it was coming. I never thought I'd cry. But as I drove, the tears showed up. I was crying before it even began. And then a friend spoke. And my heart exploded. The tears flooded my face, and I could hardly find the words. The simple words to just say "thank you".

Before April was born, an amazing group of women came together to support me through this difficult time. The moms club that I am a part of- they were already planning a special tribute to April. When they mentioned their plan to me, my heart was so full of joy. They were wanting to plant a tree in April's honor. They gave me the opportunity to weigh in on the type of tree and the location. They were planning on having our children paint rocks to put at the base of the tree. It was perfect.

Two months after April's birth, this tree was planted. And the day was perfect.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

BFBN (Guest Post): The Feelings Game: A Strategy For Managing Big Feelings

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

Today we have the honor of a guest post from Carrie over at Wiley Adventures. Caroline has a lot of BIG feelings, and is a super passionate, and sensitive child. Carrie has a lot of experience with this, so she's sharing one of her best tactics today to help with these feelings!

We have a LOT of big feelings in our house. A lot. (If you know us personally you're nodding or laughing.... you know.) All six of us I would classify as "Big Feelers". Not only do we feel all the things, but we are pretty skilled in expressing those feelings.

I got broken in really well with my first-born in learning to parent a big feeler. Laura Kate, my oldest was very verbally advanced and could appropriately tell me how she felt, by age 2. But 2 year olds don't know what to do with big feelings, at least not constructively. By the time she turned three, I started to feel a little bit of a loss of how to help her manage her feelings. I was talking to my mom about it one day and she helped me come up with "The Feelings Game".

Here's how it works...

Friday, October 6, 2017

Our Toddler's Anxiety Around Other Children

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

One morning, as I was picking Caroline up from school, her teacher asked me to stay behind and talk once everyone had left. She assured me that it was no big deal, just something she wanted to mention, but of course, my heart sank. I should have realized this talk was coming. I should have known it would be an issue, but I hadn't even thought of it.

Caroline is a star student in the classroom. She listens to directions well, she's well behaved and focused. She learns fast, and she even practices her new skills at home. When it's playtime at school, however, she's having a hard time.

Her teacher informed me that when they go out to the playground, instead of running around and having fun playing, Caroline is sitting by herself and is quite upset.

The minute her teacher said this was happening, I knew why, and I knew I should have seen it coming...

Monday, October 2, 2017

Almost 3 (34 Months) Update

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog
Caroline is 2 short months away from turning 3. THREE! WHOA! I can't believe our baby is turning 3 soon. As I read the schedule update we wrote for her 2.5 year update, I was brought to tears. Caroline was so excited to be a big sister. She's now become that big sister, yet didn't get to bring her baby sister home, or play with her. My heart hurts for her so much. She asks me all of the time if we are going to have another baby soon. She's also told me that she doesn't want to die, and that she misses her sister. My Mama heartstrings are a mess! I hate that she has had to go through something so hard, at such a young age. She takes care of me when I'm sad, and we take care of her when she's sad. We all went through something so difficult, but we all came out stronger on the other side- especially Caroline. 

She has a new favorite song already Unforgettable, by Thomas Rhett. In this song, one of the lines is "We jumped in...right off the deep end". Never do they mention that they are jumping into water. Obviously that's implied. I was so impressed that Caroline caught onto that! One day as the song started, she said "Mama it's the water song!". I was confused at first, and she explained that it's the song that they "jump in". I'm always blown away by her when I least expect it!

Caroline is in LOVE with Trolls. She would watch the movie daily if we let her. She is also starting to sing (finally some legit singing), and sings to the soundtrack! She recites so many lines from this movie. Again, super impressive to us!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Toddler Sleep Disruptions During A Family Crisis

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

A small miracle happened tonight. Caroline went to sleep WITHOUT calling us a million times, crying, or screaming! A month and a half ago, I would have never guessed that our perfect Babywise baby, our awesome sleeper, was going to go through such a tough time when it came to bed. She's been putting herself to sleep since she was sleep trained at 4 months old, and we've only had minor hiccups since- maybe a couple of days, or a week here and there of setbacks, but nothing like this...

Tonight I celebrated getting my daughter back for our usual smooth bedtime routine. But for the last month and half, we've been struggling. So badly...

Rewind a month and a half:

We were in the two weeks leading up to Caroline's little sister being born. We knew she was going to die (she had trisomy 13). Emotions were high (to say the least). We did the best we could to explain to Caroline that her sister would not be coming home. She asked questions, and we all started our grieving process together as a family. We were devastated.

This is when the bedtime issues started.

Then April (Caroline's little sister) was born and died.

The bedtime issues worsened dramatically.

Now, 45 days after her death, we've seen our FIRST night with no tears, no calling for us, no screaming. And yes you read that right... 45 consecutive days of screaming and crying. It's been brutal. Not to mention it's on top of grief. Lots and lots of grief.

The Sleep Disruption (What's happening)

Monday, September 25, 2017

British Swim School- An Interview with Caroline's Instructor

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

In exchange for an honest review on this blog, British Swim School of Central MD has provided my family with free swim lessons. All opinions and thoughts are my own.

Caroline is still rocking her purple swim cap at the Seahorse  level with British Swim School. She's been at this level now since the beginning of August (two months). She's so very close to mastering the skills that I discussed in this original introduction to the Seahorse  level. Caroline can jump into the water, twist herself around with very minimal assistance, and then do her starfish (back float) unassisted for a few seconds. Ms Christine holds her head and talks her through keeping her chin back, arms out, belly up, and legs out. She'll let go of Caroline for a few seconds, and Caroline can maintain the float! We are working towards a goal of 10-20 seconds on her own. She has the skill down, so once she gains the confidence, she'll be running with it!

This month, I actually want to take a moment, however, to highlight Caroline's AMAZING instructor- Ms. Christine! Ms Christine has been Caroline's instructor now for the last two levels, and she is absolutely amazing. Caroline trusts her, and so do I! It is very visible how comfortable she is with children. She keeps the class entertaining, while challenging the children at the perfect level. She remembers each child's strengths and creates individual challenges based on their skill level within the class. She sings songs, and she just has a great relationship with the children. Christine was gracious enough to answer a few interview questions so we could get to know her better. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

I Felt Like My Daughter Was a Part of a Cruel Social Experiment

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

Dear Caroline,

A glass wall stood between us. Your father and I were in the main waiting room, and you'd made your way to the sectioned off room that had a children's movie playing. There were two older children in the room. Once inside, you chose a chair and sat quietly watching the movie.

The mom of the two other children came walking out talking with the specialist she'd just seen for an appointment. They called the older girl out of the room and told her she could pick a prize from the treasure chest for being so patient. They handed her a bin. The girl chose to bring this bin of toys back into the video room as she made her selection. The little boy was told he could get one after his older sister had chosen as well.

No one spoke to you.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Just A Little Critter Collection - Why You Shouldn't Buy This Book

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

If you read my recent post about the behavioral disruptions and screaming fits that we are working on with Caroline, you know that we are really trying to get back on track with her. We are trying everything. Everything has included everything from punishments, to ignoring the behavior, reward systems, and talks. We've seen a lot of progress lately with Caroline, but I wanted to stay on top of things and stay ahead of the game. In my attempt to do this, I thought I would add to our book collection. Caroline loves books, so books that talk about behaviors are always a good addition to our library.

I found a cute little collection called "Just a Little Critter Collection". In this book there are 7 stories:

Just for You; Just Go to Bed; All by Myself; I Was So Mad; When I Get Bigger; Just a Mess; and I Just Forgot

The topics all sounded great and like things we would benefit from reading. When the book arrived in the mail, I had it sitting out on my desk, and hadn't read it ahead of time. Caroline spotted it, and she'd done so good with her new "rest time" that I decided to reward her by giving her this new book.

BIG MISTAKE. I should have read this book ahead of time. I can't think of a single children's book that I'd label as horrible. This book earns that title, however. Since I can honestly say this book is horrible and I wish I hadn't read it to my daughter, I thought I'd spare other parents from purchasing this and making the same mistake...

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Sleep and Behavioral Disruptions- Making a Big Change to Get Back on Track

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

The last month and a half has been full of changes in our house, and all of these changes, combined with Caroline's age, has made for the perfect storm.

Caroline is passionate. She is emotional. She is sensitive. Caroline is very aware of other people's feelings and what is going on around her. She is smart, and she is kind. She is extremely well behaved, and likes to please. She is polite. She is expressive and very good at communicating. Caroline is strong-willed- and not just a little bit. A lot.

In the weeks leading up to April's birth and death, Caroline had a lot of questions. We kept her in the loop and answered as truthfully as we could. We kept things simple so she'd understand the best she could. And the same was true after April's death.

For two solid weeks after April's death, Caroline had screaming fits every day, multiple times a day. These fits would last hours at a time. The fits weren't entirely new, but they used to be rare occurrences, and they were suddenly happening multiple times a day.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

On the Sideline of Grief

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

Today is BFBN blog swap day! We have a fabulous guest post from Team Cartwright on what to do if you are on the sideline of grief. Kimberly speaks from her experience walking along side my journey with April Rey. 

Life isn't fair.  We all know that.  Bad people get away with things they shouldn't.  Good people suffer unnecessarily.  Tragedy happens for no reason whatsoever, just chance.  Life is beautiful, but sometimes it is just hard.  It's hard enough when something unspeakable happens to us.  Then there are the times when life throws something at our friends or family, something tragic, something just so sad.  Something we can't fix.  You find yourself in a jumble of feelings, scared, unsure what to do or what to say, and just at a loss.  What do you do when you find yourself standing on the sideline of grief?

This is what I was left wondering when my friend Katrina shared April Rey's story with us.  I was so excited for her when she announced her pregnancy.  She was so happy.  Then when the news started rolling in that there were concerns, then fears, then the sad truth of the situation.  Technically this had nothing to do with me.  I mean, I live across the country from Katrina.  We have never even met in person.  But I do consider her a friend, and I was hurting for her and her family.  There was more than that though.  I felt guilty and helpless.  I knew I wanted to help, but I wasn't sure how.  I think there are a few key points to focus on.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Pro-life or Pro-choice? Did April's Story Make You Change Your View? Think About New Circumstances?

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

So, I don't usually get political on here. I am far from a political person. However... there are politics involved in my family's recent decision, and I'm curious how it's affected your view, if at all.

For those of you that aren't aware, I'll just do a quick overview of our recent decision. When I was 15 weeks pregnant, we found out our daughter had full trisomy 13 (a devastating and terminal condition). She was not eligible for organ donation. We knew we would not do any life saving measures and that we'd let her go peacefully. To avoid our baby being in any pain, we chose to induce at 20 weeks and terminate the pregnancy. She was alive for a few short minutes, and in no pain at all. I encourage you to read our full story here.

I've always been pro choice. I believe that it is a woman's right to decide. I will be the first to admit, I never even considered a situation like the above. I considered things like a woman's health being impacted by pregnancy, a young girl getting pregnant and the impacts on her life, financial situations, and rape. But I didn't consider a situation where the baby had a condition that was terminal (or what medical professionals would consider "incompatible with life"). It just hadn't crossed my mind. So, my guess is that this situation may have been overlooked by others as well.

Monday, September 11, 2017

One of My Daughters Doesn't Get to Grow Up, and the Other is Growing Up So Fast

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog
Caroline has been going to "school" since she was 6 months old. I enrolled her in a mother's day out program early, so that she could have a few hours a week getting used to life without mama around, and I could get a few things done. She's been taking it all in stride ever since. It was 2 years ago that I first left her at "school". Fast forward to today and she's been to 3 different schools, she runs in and hardly says goodbye, and she's graduated to doing activities on her own- no more mommy and me classes are in sight. My baby has grown up so quickly.

2 years ago I cried as I dropped her off for the first time.
She attended two mother's day out programs in consecutive years. Then, this summer we switched her over to a 2 day pre-k program. She's continuing with pre-k this school year and she's simply thriving.

I picked her up from school yesterday, and the teacher told me that she is incredibly well behaved for her age. She listens to instructions well and is such a delight to have in class. She earned a sticker each day in class this week. Such a proud mama moment.

Last month, she graduated to a new swim class level- where I'm no longer in the pool with her! My heart is so full as I watch her. She's focused, she's determined, and she's so patient. She sits on the side of the pool, watches and waits for her turn. I can see her mind going as she listens to instructions and always does her best.

Today it really hit me though. Today was her first gymnastics class all on her own. I've been taking her to gymnastics for over a year now (she started when she was 1.5 years old). We've had the same class every week, with the same instructor. Today she walked in on her own. New instructor. New kids in class. No mama. The class is for 3 and 4 year olds. She's not 3 until November, but her previous instructor agreed that it was time for her to move up. I knew she'd do great.

My heart was heavy on this day (one month after April's birth and death). I knew I was extra emotional. But as I watched Caroline walk into class on her own, it really all hit me. I teared up and watched through the windows. One of my daughters doesn't get to grow up, and the other is growing up so fast. 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Trisomy 13- The Story of Eden Lynne

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

The following story was sent to me by a first time mom. She found me through this blog, and as it turns out we gave birth to our daughters only one day apart. We walked this journey at the same time, yet didn't connect until after the fact. I feel a special closeness to Sarah and am forever grateful that we've been able to connect. Sarah had to say goodbye to her firstborn exactly one month ago today. Today I am honored to share her story. Eden Lynne is a very special girl with an amazing mother.

We found out we were expecting on April 4th, which was amazing because we had just experienced a miscarriage with our first pregnancy a month before. We were so happy, everything was falling into place. The timing would be perfect, have a winter baby and then start building our house in the spring. However, for some reason our perfect plans would be completely changed in a few short months.

On July 5th (my nephew’s first birthday!) I woke up after only a few hours of sleep (I am a night shift labor and delivery nurse and had been at work until 5am), to go to a dental appointment for a routine cleaning. I remember texting my sister asking her if I needed to let the hygienist know that I was pregnant to avoid getting x-rays. I remember being nervous when I actually told the hygienist because my husband and I had decided to wait until after our anatomy scan to announce our pregnancy (we had told our parents, a few family members, and a couple of close friends all of whom were extremely excited for us). At this point I was 16 weeks and 3 days.

After my teeth cleaning I was able to go home and take a quick nap before heading to my routine OB appointment. This was the first appointment my husband didn't take off work to go with me. I didn’t think he needed to since all that was going to happen at this appointment was check my vitals and a doppler of the heartbeat.

My appointment was with one of the midwives that I work with, she asked how I was doing and then proceeded to doppler for the heartbeat. I told her how excited we were because we were going to a 3D ultrasound that Friday and we were going to find out the gender of the baby. She had told me before she even started that she always had troubles finding the heartbeat at 16 weeks, so when she was unable to find the heartbeat I wasn’t nervous. Plus I had borrowed the doppler at work the night before and found the heartbeat myself. The midwife went to get another doppler, but still had issues finding the heartbeat. She told me that I would just have to get a quick ultrasound to make sure everything was ok.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Dear April Rey- Today Marks One Month

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

Dear April Rey,

Today marks one month. One month since you were born. One month since you took your first breath. One month since you held my hand. One month since I've held you in my arms. One month since you took your last breath. One month.

One month ago, my heart grew- just as it did when Caroline was born. A mother's heart grows and holds immense amounts of love every time she has a child born. I didn't lose a piece of my heart one month ago, but rather I gained a piece.