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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.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

"You Just Have The One [Child]?"

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

Caroline had her preschool orientation today. The children played, they interacted, and they met the teachers. The parents talked with other parents, and had a chance to talk with the teachers. As I looked around the room, I realized I was the only parent playing with the children. The other parents were chatting with one another. I had talked to a couple of the moms, but kept getting pulled back in as Caroline called my name.

Of the two moms I'd already had a chance to talk with, one was super chatty and friendly, and the other seemed to not want to talk when I'd attempted. So, I decided to sit down next to the chatty mom and tried to stay in the background so Caroline would interact with her new classmates more instead of just with me. As we started talking, this mom asked me a typical question. She asked me a question that is standard for a situation like this when you are meeting another parent. As parents, we ask if this will be their child's first time in preschool, and if they have any other children. It's normal as a topic of conversation.

I hadn't prepared myself for this moment. I should have known it was coming today. I should have known that for the first time since April was born (and died), I'd be asked the question of how many children I have. I should have known to expect this. But I hadn't thought about it and I was caught off guard.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Dear April Rey - (From Auntie Maria and Uncle Adolfo)

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

Dear April Rey,

We decided to plant a small grove in a national forest for you. Nature is beautiful and we often find it helps us through hard things. When we are in nature and it's quiet and we are surrounded by living things, we often think about the people we miss and love. We think of you many times throughout our days but we feel particularly close to you when we are outside and quiet. "In the green of the the smell of the the clouds floating the top of a the sound crickets make at the end of the day...'You are loved. You are loved. You are loved' they all say."

Friday, August 25, 2017

I Didn't Come Home With a Baby, But I Still Gave Birth

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

I was so tangled up in the emotions of our situation and trying to prepare myself mentally for what was about to happen with April Rey, that I didn't bother to think about the physical toll of giving birth. I didn't bother to think about what I'd go through after. I'd given birth before, so I knew what to expect, but it was honestly the furthest thing from my mind.

I didn't come home with a baby, but I still gave birth.

Gosh, it's brutal to even write that sentence.

Every physical reminder that my body gave me about the fact that I'd just given birth, felt like I was running into a wall of emotional pain.

I bled. It's normal after giving birth. But every pad I had to change, was a brutal reminder that I didn't have a baby to hold.

I ached. My back was sore from where the epidural had been placed, my uterus was contracting back to it's normal size. I ached all over. During labor, my whole body had been shaking in pain, as well as from the high fever I'd had. So now, every muscle hurt as my body tried to heal itself. Every chance I got to lay down and rest, I felt the sting of pain rush through my body- the pain of wanting to not be able to lay down because my baby was crying or needing to be fed. I wasn't supposed to be able to rest like this. Not now. I was supposed to be rocking and feeding a crying baby, with sleepless nights. I was supposed to be in the throws of having a newborn, but I wasn't. I was resting.

Then was the big blow.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Seahorse Level- British Swim School

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.

Level: Seahorse

Beginner Water Survival: 18 Months to 36 Months
(4 Children Max)

"The instructor works one-on-one with each child following the same structure and emphasis on water survival as the Swimboree class. While the child is in the water, parents sit on the pool deck and actively participate in their child’s lesson. Students must meet Swimboree goals in order to enroll in Seahorse."

Caroline is moving through the swim levels quickly and it's been super impressive to watch. Her one hold up at the swimboree level, really seemed to be having me in the pool with her. She follows instructions well when I'm working with her, but then really preferred to work with me. She'd tolerate working with the instructor, but since I was right there, she defaulted to wanting Mama and giving in to some of her fears while I was around. We took the plunge and did a trial class of the next level (Seahorse). She rocked it and did absolutely amazing! I was thrilled to see her do so well. 3 classes into it now, and she's really thriving and getting her skills down!

A look at all of their programs can be found at here. 

The Lesson

Monday, August 21, 2017

After The Fact- How We Feel About Our Decision to Induce Early and Terminate the Pregnancy

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

If you're in this position of having a baby with a diagnosis of trisomy 13, you might be wondering if we are content with our decision to induce early. Would we do anything differently? Do we regret inducing early? It's the hardest decision we've ever made, and it's probably the hardest decision you will ever make if you are going through this as well. It's not a decision that any parent takes lightly. Joe and I considered all of our options so carefully. At the end of the day, we decided on terminating the pregnancy, while still honoring April Rey's life in a special way.

Will we always wonder about who April Rey would have been?


Do we regret the decision that we made to induce?

Friday, August 18, 2017

A Tattoo in Honor of April Rey

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog
I knew immediately upon finding out April's diagnosis, that I was going to get a tattoo designed in her honor. When I looked up "memorial tattoos", however, I have to say I was not fond of the results in searches. Everything was so morbid...just sporting a name, birth and death dates, wings, footprints, crosses, etc. I knew I wanted to be reminded of April's life. I wanted the tattoo to remind me to celebrate her life. April's life may have been only minutes, but it was an amazing life that has and will continue to impact SO MANY others. I wanted to capture that, and I also wanted the tattoo to be a beautiful piece of artwork.