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Friday, October 30, 2015

CALL FOR REAL MOM'S, REAL STORIES- BREASTFEEDING ON A SCHEDULE

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog
Hey Mamas!!

I want YOUR stories ...

So one of my favorite things about blogging, is sharing real stories with other mamas. I hated when I read other blogs and was doing research and only found "ideal" scenarios (ex: everyone's baby seemed to be sleeping through the night at 6 wo). I wanted to read about real stories.

I've decided to put together a series called "Real Moms, Real Stories" and each time I do it, it will have a different focus. The first two topics produced some absolutely amazing stories and were such a pleasure to share!

The stories can be as short as a paragraph or as long as a book (ok within reason haha). They don't need to be anything fancy, though.


Topic: Breastfeeding on a Schedule

Things you might want to include for this topic:
- Why breastfeeding is important to you
- Why using schedules is important for you and baby
- How you were successful breastfeeding and using schedules together
- Did you start on a schedule or make a switch to using one?
- Did your supply benefit due to implementing a schedule?
- Benefits you see of using schedules
- Was your baby able to sleep through the night while breastfeeding and on a schedule?
- Your experience in general
- Anything else you see fit!

I'd like to get these by Sunday, January 31st.
Please email me the stories:  mamasorganizedchaos@outlook.com
In the subject line, please include "breastfeeding on a schedule"


Please include:  (can also let me know if you'd like to keep it anonymous)
Name:
Baby's Name(s):
Baby's Age(s):
Blog (if you have one):
Picture - just send it as an attachment or in the email itself (readers looooove pictures)

Feel free to get other mom friends involved as well. Just have them email me! Thank you in advance! I am so excited to put this together!

Also if you have any ideas on what the next "Real Moms, Real Stories" topic should be feel free to post those in the comments on this page.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

SHARING OUR WORLD WITH OUR FAMILY- Shutterfly Photos

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog
Like many families these days, my husband and I are several states away from our families. Now that we have a daughter, it has been hard to be so far apart. Her grandparents and aunts and uncles do not get to be a part of her daily life. We all make every effort to visit as frequently as we can, but when you are across the country from one another that can be difficult and expensive.

In an attempt to keep everyone involved in Caroline's life, we have done a few things:

- Created this blog! While a lot of this blog is meant to be informational on Babywise techniques, baby schedules, sleep training and more, it is also meant to be a keepsake for Caroline when she's older, and to involve our family in Caroline's life as much as possible.

- Skype  We try and video call everyone so they can see Caroline in action!

- YouTube videos We try and take as many videos as we can (of all the important milestones) and post them to a YouTube account where our family can view them. This has been one of the favorites I think!

- Photos I love making photo books throughout the year to send as gifts. None of us take the time to print actual photos anymore (I'm guilty of it). So the photo books are a lifesaver to help compile a decent period of time all into one great keepsake! We also plan to get family photos taken each year and actually send out prints of those.


If you love the photo book idea as much as I do, this is your lucky day!!! Stonyfield and Shutterfly have teamed up and are offering an amazing discount!

All you have to do is purchase a 6 pack of yoBaby or yoTot Stonyfield yogurt and you will get to enjoy $20 off at Shutterfly! The discount code is on the package. This offer is valid for each household to use once.  Offer ends February 29, 2016. Click here for more details!



Disclaimer: I am a YoGetter blogger and I am compensated for my time. My opinions are my own. I really do LOVE Stonyfield products! 

Monday, October 26, 2015

FALL BACK WITH BABY- Daylight Savings Time

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

When 7 am suddenly turns into 6 am, your baby doesn't have a clue that they are suddenly supposed to be sleeping in an extra hour. It is still 7 am in their world. Falling back the extra hour, however, can be easier than you think.

Here's how I'd recommend making the change depending on your babies age:

Newborn (1-2 weeks) & Newborn (3-4 weeks): This is probably an easy age to make the "change" since your baby most likely isn't anywhere near a perfect schedule yet. He is still eating every few hours all through the night. Let's say he normally wakes at 5 am and then again at 7 am for food. In your world that just turned into 4 am and 6 am. Go ahead and feed him at 4 am when he wakes. Then feed him when he wakes around 6 am and put him back to sleep. Wake him at 7 am if he is not already awake, and feed him again (even though you just fed him 1 hour before). He'll end up with an extra feeding, but that's completely fine! Continue about your normal day. You'll have your new schedule set up just like that and he probably won't even notice.

Month 2, Month 3 & Month 4: At this age your baby will have a decent schedule set up. You'll want to start making the change about 12 days in advance so you can ease your baby into the change. Start keeping your baby up 5 minutes later each night until he is staying up an extra hour. Your goal is to shift the entire schedule by 5 minutes each day. Let him sleep in an extra 5 minutes as well in the morning. If he sleeps in more than that, let him (that simply means your schedule shift will happen quicker)! Take all the extra time you can and adjust your schedule by the amount of time that he sleeps in. On the first night, your goal is to keep him up 5 extra minutes. In the morning, don't go get him until 5 minutes after his desired wake time. If he normally sleeps until 7 am, don't go in until 7:05 am. Push your schedule out in 5 min increments each day. Repeat daily until you make up the extra hour.

Months 6-9: Use the same concept as above, but using 15 min increments.

Months 10-12: Use the same concept as above, but using 30 min increments.

12 months and up: Adjust by the full hour the night before.


Friday, October 23, 2015

BEDTIME B's

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog
Trying to figure out a bedtime routine?
Keep the "Bedtime B's" in mind! I came across this idea recently, and thought it was a great tool to help plan your bedtime routine.

From my experience, I have two main suggestions to keep in mind:

1. Start your bedtime routine from day 1. Babies learn routines very quickly, and it is a great tool to use to convey your message of "It's bedtime!".

2. Keep the routine short and simple. When it is bedtime, it's bedtime. A quick routine enables this to happen. You don't want to spend your entire evening prepping for bedtime, so start with the quick routine early in baby's life!

Choose what works best for your family, and be consistent. It is also okay if your routine changes slightly as your baby gets older. Check out what we have done with our bedtime routine by clicking here!

Bedtime B's:

Bath- A bath is a great tool to calm a fussy little one. Therefore, it can be a great addition to your nightly routine. I wanted bedtime to be as efficient as possible, so I chose not to incorporate bath into our bedtime routine, however. Again, do what works best for your family. We sometimes bathe Caroline at night, and sometimes bathe her in the morning. We do not bathe her every day, as we don't want her skin to dry out.

Boob/Bottle- Feeding your baby before bed is always a great way to soothe and comfort her. It also makes sure that she is nice and full and ready to sleep (instead of waking in an hour hungry as can be). In the early months you will most likely have this last on your list and baby may even fall asleep while eating. Try to rouse your baby slightly so that she is aware of the fact that you are putting her in the crib. You don't want her to be startled when she wakes. Make sure you get a full feeding as well. As your baby gets older, increase the amount of time between feeding and sleeping (to 30 minutes) so that she doesn't form a sleep association with feeding. This will help tremendously when she wakes in the middle of the night. If you break the association early, she won't need to be fed in order to go back to sleep (unless she's hungry, of course).

Book- Reading is a great thing to incorporate before bedtime. This is a great habit to form early with your little ones. If it seems to excite them too much, however, you can choose to do this either early in the bedtime routine or at some other time during the day. Make sure you are reading your little one's cues.

Bed- This is the goal! Getting a good night's rest is essential for baby, and for Mama and Daddy!

If you are thinking about doing any form of sleep training, check out our sleep training page and frequently asked questions page as well for more tips and tricks.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

POTTY TRAINING CONTINUED

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog
Our potty training journey.... more like our getting used to the potty experience, is well underway!

In month 5, we decided to introduce her to the toilet. With several things, we decided to take the stance of "starting as you mean to go on". We didn't want to train and then retrain later. It was very obvious when she was about to poop, so it was an extremely easy task to simply set her on the toilet for the big moment. She did great with it and things became very predictable. She pooped every morning on the toilet right after or during breakfast.

Then we had an an exciting moment. In month 7, she seemed to be refusing to poop in her diaper! This wasn't the plan (to be officially potty training her this early), but if it was moving in that direction, we were totally okay with that!

Then the regression. She was getting upset when I put her on the toilet, and she was no longer showing me signs of when to put her on. I was missing the moments, and she was going in her diaper again. She seemed to be okay with it, and she was getting frustrated with me putting her on the toilet, so we simply took a break. This was sometime during her 8th or 9th month.

She is now almost 11 months old. We were back to using the toilet for her poops around the start of month 10. Everything was consistent again. So, I decided to also put her on the toilet before any and all diaper changes- just because. Before and after each nap, I would place her on the toilet. To my amazement, she started peeing! Probably about 90% of the time that I place her on the toilet, she pees. She always tries to pee and poop. It is absolutely amazing. I was always wondering how I would know to place her on the toilet since there are no signs of when she's about to pee, and she can't tell me yet. I had no idea that she was going to be smart enough to connect the dots and know that the toilet is for peeing as well! I am so proud of her. Frequent trips to the potty is the tactic we are using now.

Not entirely sure what our next step will be, but I will post an update when we figure that out! In the meantime, she is peeing and pooping in the toilet, as well as her diaper. This is very time consuming, but I think it is worth it. She is well on her way to figuring this whole potty training thing out on her own!


Monday, October 19, 2015

WONDER WEEKS- LEAP 7

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog
It is amazing how much time goes by from one leap to the next. The duration of and between each leap is so lengthy that it almost seems impossible for only one leap to have occurred since I last wrote about leap 6 back in August!

Leap 6 brought a large set of skills to Caroline's world. Her major milestones were sitting up on her own, learning the pincher grasp, pulling up, and assisted walking.

Leap 7 hasn't been quite the whirlwind of events, but it has certainly been an exciting one! Between leap 6 and leap 7, Caroline learned how to crawl, and she has since mastered this skill. She can put her crawl into "turbo"
speed and really kick it into high gear! She is now cruising, climbing, and even going up the stairs on her own. She is fearless. She can even walk with her walking toy and keep her balance on her own. I'd say it won't be long until she's walking, but she seems so content to crawl at the moment that I'm not sure when this next step might occur.

Caroline can now put things away as well. She can put her blocks back into the bucket when I ask her to, and she attempts to put puzzle pieces in the correct location. She puts shapes into the shape sorter (if I show her which shape goes where), and she is loving these new skills.

As far as sleep disturbances, there really haven't been any with this leap. Her schedule has been tweaked here and there just by little bits, and she is being weaned off of nursing without any issues. She goes down for naps just fine, and continues to sleep through the night without issue. Her naps have had periods where they became shorter, and as a result we have two schedules at the moment: the typical 2 nap schedule, and the new 1 nap schedule. She is doing great with both. I anticipate keeping both schedules for awhile until she shows me she's ready for a full transition (most likely closer to the 1 year point).

She seems to understand simple phrases now and is really responding to us so much. She says "Mama" and "Dada" and is attempting to say other words as well. She says "Bye-bye", and tries to say "light" and simple words like "book". If you ask her what a lion says, she roars the cutest roar you'll ever hear.

So hard to believe, but this was the last leap of her infant months! She will be 1 year old shortly after she enters into the 8th leap and becomes a toddler. The time is flying by; the baby times are dwindling quickly. It is amazing and emotional all at the same time. So glad to see her growing up, so sad to leave the snuggles behind. I know they will come again soon, though!





Wednesday, October 14, 2015

OUR FIRST SOLAR BILL

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog




We finally went live with our solar panels on August 1st, 2015! We were so excited about this change and couldn't wait to see our first bill.








Information on installing the panels:

  • Yes, it really was free of charge. We didn't pay solar city 1 cent to install the panels.
  • We are not renting the panels; solar city owns them.
  • We simply pay for all of the energy that we generate on the panels.
  • The one risk of installing the panels: If we sell our house, we have to convince the new buyers to keep the panels and transfer the contract into their name. If they refused for some reason (which we don't anticipate happening because of the cost benefits we would be able to show them), we would have to pay $500 to remove the panels, and another $500 to install the panels at our new house. If solar city doesn't operate at our new location - that's when we'd have an issue. We think the benefit outweighs the risk for us.


How it works:

  • We pay for all energy generated on the panels (at a lower rate than our utility company).
  • If we don't use all of the energy, our utility company is required by state law to purchase the extra energy from us. We would then have a credit with our utility company.
  • If we used more energy than what we generated with our panels, we would pay our utility company at the normal rate for the extra used.


Our bills prior to going solar:
Our bill from the utility company in July was $148.21. We used 961 kWh.
Our bill from the utility company in August was $125.65. We used 835 kWh.

Our first bill after going solar:
We generated 513 kWh on our panels for this billing period. (For the 1st 22 days, half of the roof was not turned on, so this would have almost been double had they caught the mistake earlier).
We used more energy than that, however.

So, we pay money to solar city for what we generated:
Our bill from Solar City in September was $65.79. We generated 513 kWh.

And we also pay our utility company for the extra kWh usage:
Our bill from the utility company in September was $9.10. We used an extra 73 kWh.

Comparison:

  • We used less energy this month. This is partially due to the weather, and partially due to the fact that we are much more aware of our energy usage now.
    • The solar city app allows us to track the energy we use and generate LIVE down to the second. It is absolutely amazing.

Live shot of what we are generating vs using.
If I turn the washing machine on, I literally
see a spike on the graph instantly!
Having access to this has made us
much more aware of our usage.
A look at how the day is going.
I know that the jump in our usage
was due to starting the laundry.


A look at how the month is going.
A full look at the month of August.
You can clearly see when they turned
on the second half of the panels
on the 22nd!



  • We saved money!  


    • If I look at our trends with our utility company, our bill for September would have most likely been around $100. Instead we paid about $75. As mentioned above, we would have generated even more energy had all of the panels been turned on, and our utility company would have ended up providing us with a credit for energy that they had to purchase from us. 


As we move into winter, we will generate less and less energy on the panels. We will still be generating small amounts, however, and saving small amounts of money as a result. We look forward to seeing what next spring and summer holds and hope to build up some nice credit with the utility company for next winter!

I can't say enough good things about going solar. This program really is pretty risk free, and we really didn't pay anything out of pocket. I was skeptical at first because it seemed too good to be true. I met with solar city twice just to make sure. They have been great to work with and my husband and I are very happy we decided to go solar.

If you are interested in going solar, please contact my wonderful sales representative by going to this link. They have a great referral program, so you'll also be helping us out a bit!


Monday, October 12, 2015

YOU ARE BRAVE, CURIOUS, AND FLEXIBLE

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog
Dear Caroline,

Today we changed things up a bit. Instead of going down for your nap at 10 am, we left the house at 9:45 am and headed for some playtime. I knew your sleep would be interrupted, but also knew that you'd have a good time. I knew it would be worth trying and suspected you could handle the change.

Every Thursday, there is a church in the area that provides an open gym for play. They have hula hoops and balls to play with, and tunnels to crawl through. This was our first time going. You were tired, since it was normally your nap time, but you jumped right in and had a blast. We met a few of your friends there. You stayed near me most of the time, but did venture off slightly here and there.

I grabbed one of the tunnels and put it in front of you. I went to the other side and called your name. "Caroline!" You looked through the tunnel at me and smiled- such a big smile! You went right in the tunnel and crawled to Mama. I was so proud! You were being so brave!


You had a blast at playtime today. We stayed for a little over an hour and then headed home for lunch. My goal was to try and feed you, and then put you down for a nice long nap. I wanted you to be able to sleep good and not wake up hungry. On the drive home you fell asleep. I did everything I could to keep you awake, but you were exhausted. We got home and I talked to you and sat you on the floor. You looked at me and then just put your head down on the floor and went back to sleep. You would have stayed like this for your entire nap- poor thing! I gave in and put you in your crib. You slept for an hour and a half and then woke for lunch.



When it came time for your second nap today, you weren't having it. So.... Daddy and I drove you up to Frederick. We figured the nice long drive would put you to sleep. It did, but not until we were almost there! We decided to have dinner at Sonic. There was a nice grassy area, so we got out a blanket and made a picnic out of it. You ate tater tots and sat there like a big girl- focused on your food.

We drove home and sang to the radio. I think you listen and enjoy it when Daddy and I sing. We sing to every song. I know one day you are going to sing along with us! We arrived at home and got you out of the car. You pointed at trees and cars and anything you could find. You were so curious as you always are. We let you look around and then took you inside and played some more. Eventually, we put you to bed.

It was such an amazing day. Every day is amazing now that you are around. We do things like picnic at Sonic. We have so much joy in our lives because of you. We could sit and watch you for hours- and we do :) Thank you for being so amazing, so brave (I still can't believe you went through the tunnel on the first try), so curious, and so flexible.

Love,
Mama

Friday, October 9, 2015

SENSORY ACTIVITY #2 - ENJOYING THE FALL WEATHER

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog
Fall. I love everything about it. The bees are calmed down from their crazy nesting season, the weather is perfect and incredibly enjoyable, the breeze is delightful, I get to break out my boots and scarves, and it is simply a beautiful sight (until the leaves all fall down).

While I was once cooped up inside a classroom teaching, I now have the freedom to teach outside! Luckily, my daughter loves to be outside exploring. If she is ever restless or bored, I simply take her outside. She could sit calmly for hours and just take it all in. She feels the texture of the grass, tastes the grass and leaves, feels the breeze against her skin, listens to the cars pass by, and learns so much. She sometimes crawls off on her own and is perfectly content to explore.

Yesterday, we went out and did just this. She started by inspecting her stroller from all angles. She found every screw, every strap and buckle. She touched the wheels and got her hands dirty. She then moved on and started picking up leaves. If they got stuck to her hands, she had to figure out how to get them off before continuing in her adventure. She wandered off across the path and tried to get into the ivy. We then walked around the pond and stood at the fence looking out on the water. She crawled under the benches, found gum stuck to the ground (found out it was difficult to pick up), tried to do some climbing, and waved to the people walking by.

This is such a great way to entertain a baby or a toddler, and there is so much learning that can be done outside! While Caroline isn't old enough yet for much other than doing her own exploring, I am so glad that we have started this as a regular activity in her life at such a young age. She really enjoys it, and as she gets older we will incorporate even more learning. We will do scavenger hunts and focus on more specific learning concepts such as comparing a soft, green leaf to that of a dry, crunchy leaf (as explained in this awesome blog post).

We were outside doing our exploring for a good hour and half. She is only 10 months old, but she was happy and content. She could have continued this activity for longer, but it was getting to be nap time, so we headed home. We always have such an amazing time on these adventures, and plan to do as many as possible before the winter comes! Although, that being said, we will be out in the winter snow exploring as well!






Wednesday, October 7, 2015

BABY SCHEDULES UPDATED!

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog
The schedule pages don't show up on the home page as a post when I make them live, so I wanted to remind everyone that I am updating the schedules page every month!

As Caroline finishes a month, I write the schedule for the month that has just been completed and update the baby schedules page

Each page has information on the following:

1. Quick info
  • Cycle length
  • # of cycles
  • Wake time
  • Nap time
  • MOTN
2. Schedule 
3. Solid food schedule and specifics
4. Wake time (info on activities, toys, etc.)
5. Nap time (length and if there were any disruptions this month)
6. Nighttime sleeping ( MOTN wakings, how well she's putting herself to sleep, length of sleep, etc.)
7. My personal experience (summary)

Caroline is now in month 10, so schedules for months 1-9 are all posted! Check them out and feel free to leave your schedules in the comments! It is always helpful for readers to have multiple schedules to look at. Thanks in advance!




STAIR MASTER

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog
Saturday, October 3rd. Caroline is 10 months and 1 week old. Since she has been crawling (for the past month), she has spent a lot of time at the bottom of the stairs. She crawls over to the first stair, stands up and often brings a toy or maybe a sock to play with. She lifts her leg in an attempt to climb the stair, but has never been successful. On this day, however, she apparently decided she knew how to climb stairs- and boy did she know how!

I leave the baby gate open. She can't climb the stairs, so there hasn't been a reason to close it yet.
On this day, she crawled over to the stairs as she normally does. I was actually keeping a close eye on her, because the night before daddy had helped her get her knees up onto the first stair and sit on it. I had a feeling she was going to try and do it again. So, I watched and listened to her as I made breakfast in the kitchen.

I was putting cream cheese on my bagel. I turned to look at her and she was still standing there. I turned back to finish spreading the cream cheese, heard some movement. By the time I could turn my head back around she was gone. "Holy sh*t, where is she!?!", I thought as I ran over to the stairs. I was expecting to see that she'd gone into the living room, but my gut told me to go to the stairs.

She was halfway up the stairs already! I could not believe my eyes. She was climbing so fast, and so well. Two knees up, and then she'd stand to her feet. She'd reach for the next stair, two knees up, two feet up, and repeat. I stayed close by just in case. She didn't need me. To my amazement, she just kept going. All the way up.



I've often said, that I feel like she waits to try something until she already knows how to do it. She watches and learns, takes it all in, and then decides to put her learning into practice. It is absolutely amazing to see. I compare it to when I was a teenager. My sister was learning how to drive 4 years before me. I sat in the car as she practiced. I watched and learned. I listened to my dad's comments and advice. When it came to be my turn I already knew how and just had to get a feel for it. This is what Caroline seems to do on a regular basis. I love that she seems so calculated with her learning.

So, she knows how to climb stairs now! Just like that. Overnight, she's mastered the skill! I immediately started showing her how to go down the stairs. Feet first, belly down. It is still confusing to her, but she'll get it soon enough. In the meantime, she is doing lots of climbing. Just yesterday, she climbed up onto the dishwasher door. OOOOH, Caroline....


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

PARENTING IS EASY...

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog
I had the pleasure of receiving an advance copy of the book,"Parenting is Easy: You're Probably Just Doing It Wrong" by Sara Given. She took typical stock photos of babies, parenting, breastfeeding, etc. that one might find in a magazine or in an advertisement, and has turned them into a hilarious book. It was definitely an enjoyable page turner! I took a few of my favorite pages and decided to show the reality compared to that of the stock photo. Enjoy!







Stock photo:




Reality: 

Normal people don't sit in fields of flowers to breastfeed, and there is no chance that your hair can stay down and not get pulled, yanked and ripped out of your head. Don't forget you'll get slapped, fingers up your nose, your eye poked at, and your nipple isn't safe from a good bite.




Stock photo:



Reality:

Baby is either attached to you at the hip, crying for you, or completely quiet- that concerning quiet where she is obviously destroying something.




Stock photo:



Reality:

I never have time to take the pictures that really show the reality. The entire plate of food that seems to get thrown on the floor, or the hands full of yogurt. Just know that in any moment, this plate miiiight just be empty with it's contents on the floor... It's always a possibility!







Disclaimer: I am a YoGetter blogger and I am compensated for my time. My opinions are my own. I really do LOVE Stonyfield products! 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Real Moms, Real Stories- BIRTH STORIES #9

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog
Mama: Katrina Villegas
Baby:  Caroline
This is my story. I had possible cholestasis and ended up with a planned induction.




Our pregnancy was as planned as it gets. We had tried for 1.5 years to get pregnant. Along the way I had an HSG, an exploratory laparoscopy, 2 months of clomid cycles, and then 2 cycles at a fertility clinic. Our first full treatment with gonadotropin injections, a trigger shot, and an IUI was successful! Feel free to read about our full journey here. In March of 2014, we were finally pregnant! Skip forward to October 2014, and things started to get interesting.

Around 30 weeks, I started feeling intense vaginal pressure. I could hardly walk without the pain feeling unbearable. I was on my feet all day teaching, so things were getting progressively worse and fast. One Thursday afternoon, I made the call to go in and see my doctor. They ordered an ultrasound where I found out that my cervix was measuring short- in other words, it was thinning and was about 50% effaced if I remember correctly. They ordered me to bed rest immediately, since it was too early for baby to arrive just yet. I remember the day vividly. My heart broke, because I had a field trip with my IB chemistry students the next day that I was not going to be able to attend. I made arrangements at work and wrapped my mind around being home on bed rest so early on. I focused on keeping Caroline inside of me until at least 35 weeks- that was the goal.

To add yet another wrench to the plans, my skin started feeling very itchy. I casually mentioned this to my OB not thinking anything of it- just listing my long list of pregnancy symptoms to her when she asked. Little did I know, itchiness is a symptom of cholestasis. Cholestasis is a liver disease that can happen during pregnancy and can be fatal to your baby. So, all of the sudden things got a bit more serious. They ordered blood-work, which came back borderline. They were unable to officially say if I had cholestasis or not. I saw a specialized team for my ultrasounds and they kept an eye on me weekly from that point on.

It's a bit of a blur at this point, but I'd been to the hospital a couple of times having contractions in recent weeks. They had put me on procardia to stop the contractions. Week 35 arrived. We'd made it to our goal of 35 weeks and Caroline was staying put for now. I was released from bed rest but told to take it easy. I also stopped the procardia at that point. My weekly visits to get ultrasounds were measuring the length of my cervix and very focused on how "itchy" my skin was feeling. They were relying heavily on my itchiness symptom to make their decision on if I truly had cholestasis. If I did, I was going to have to have a scheduled induction right at 37 weeks for her safety. Talk about pressure. You know how when people talk about being itchy, you suddenly feel itchy? It was so hard for me to figure out how itchy I truly was. Was it bothersome enough that it was cholestasis, or was it just a slight itch and all was fine? I didn't want to make the wrong call, and end up inducing my baby too early. There are, of course, risks to inductions at 37 weeks and I was having such a hard time that the decision seemed to be on my shoulders.

I think the doctor sensed the fear in my eyes and my reluctance to make the decision. He calmed me down, asked me one more time if I was itchy. I was, so told him yes. He made the decision for me. I was going to be induced at 37 weeks- which was in two days. He left the room. My mom was with me, luckily. I made it to the parking lot and called my husband only to tear up immediately. It had suddenly hit me how fast everything was moving and I still wasn't sure if we'd made the right call.

My OB called a few minutes later and asked me to stop by. She checked my cervix and said that I was actually already dilated to 4 cm! I was shocked! She was going to send me home, but I think the look on my face told her I had other plans. I was nervous to be 4 cm dilated already, and 45 minutes away from the hospital. She said that it was alright to go ahead and go down there. I called my husband again and told him to come home and get me.

We headed down to the hospital. I was not having contractions, and I was not progressing, so they sent me home. After all of the checks on my cervix, when I was home, I was bleeding a lot and having contractions. We went in again that night because I had started feeling regular contractions. We were again sent home. The next day I had lost several blood clots and was getting nervous. The contractions seemed to be more intense. I called my doctor and he told us to go back in. We went back to the hospital. I was told I was still 3-4 cm and not making progress. Since I had a scheduled induction the following day, however, they decided to keep me overnight.

Wednesday finally rolled around. I don't remember the exact sequence of events, but at some point they broke my water and then started me on pitocin. I knew I wanted an epidural so I requested that the anesthesiologist stop by. When he did, I was so glad. The pitocin had kicked in and the contractions were much more intense- nothing too painful, but I knew I didn't want to find out how severe they were going to get! I told the anesthesiologist that I wanted as light of an epidural as he could give me. I wanted him to take the edge off, but I did not want to be completely numb. He did this perfectly. When it came time to push, I could feel the contractions just enough that I knew when it was time. I was telling my OB when I was ready. I started pushing at 2:50 pm and Caroline was born at 3:57 pm.

They placed Caroline on my chest and my mom got to cut the cord. They took Caroline over to clean her up and Daddy went with her. I watched Caroline as they stitched me up (I had a second degree tear). I didn't tear until the last push. I saw and felt it happen! I watched as my husband became a dad. He cried and smiled and fell in love. He talked to her while she was getting cleaned up, and Caroline turned her head to his voice. She reached out for him and grabbed his finger. She knew his voice. Such a beautiful moment that I will never forget.


The nurses then informed me that I wasn't done. They had already pulled the placenta out of me, but they had to make sure that they got all of the remaining blood and clots out as well. They pushed so hard on my stomach, even my husband cringed. I remember feeling like it was worse than the pressure I felt when Caroline was actually coming out. No one really warns you about this part of the process!

We did skin to skin as immediately as possible. I held Caroline on my chest and loved every minute of it. We also tried breastfeeding as soon we could. Caroline was happy and healthy. Her bilirubin levels were borderline, so we ended up having to stay one extra night in the pediatric wing, while they put Caroline under blue lights. This was the hardest night of our lives, but Caroline pushed through. Daddy was our superhero that night. He took care of me as best he could, and allowed me to try and get some rest in between my 2 hour attempts at pumping and breastfeeding, and he syringe fed Caroline to help supplement and get her weight up so that we could all go home.

I had such an amazing experience. I loved every minute of the actual process of giving birth. The anesthesiologist honored my requests perfectly, and I was not in any pain- even though I could feel what was happening. I ended up requesting a mirror (something I didn't think I wanted), and I watched as Caroline made her appearance into the world. I pushed extra times when they would allow me to, and was able to tell the doctor when I needed to start pushing before she could even tell on the monitor. I felt so strong in that hour and seven minutes. I hope my next experience goes as well as the first did!

Caroline Villegas 7 lbs 4 oz, 20 inches, born at 3:57 pm with Dr. Poshni and Nurse Asra

My advice to the first time mom out there- Make a decision on if you want an epidural. Other than that... you can't make too many plans. Find a doctor that you trust so you can follow their lead. Have your bag packed, your car seat installed, and be ready to go with the flow. Enjoy the process because it truly is amazing. Don't feel the need to prove anything- get the drugs if you want them! ;)