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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Pregnancy Truths No One Talks About

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

I am currently in a group on Facebook that is full of pregnant moms. They are all due around the same time that I was due with April Rey. Someone recently posed a question to the moms, and the answers had us all CRACKING up! I had to share, because the reality is that these are pregnancy truths. They don't get talked about often, because well they are embarrassing, but they happen to ALL of us and are completely normal. Are we missing anything from this list?

The question:

For fun...what's an unexpected, embarrassing, weird, or "I didn't even know that was a thing!" pregnancy symptom you are experiencing this pregnancy or in a past pregnancy?

The hilariously true answers:

"I discovered the other day I have a varicose vein...on my vulva! 😳 Yep, it's a thing. I had no idea. It doesn't hurt, but is super weird. I read that they can actually cause greater "sensation," so we'll see about that, lol!"

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.

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.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

April Rey's Birth Story

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

Day 1 of our induction process included taking a pill (mifepristone) that would basically stop the pregnancy from continuing. My understanding is that it stops the pregnancy hormones and essentially primes your body for the second step of actually inducing to give birth. I took this pill on Monday 8/7/17.

On day 2 of our induction process, I went to the hospital to be induced (8/8/17). Our induction was supposed to happen at 11:00am. Instead, due to the labor and delivery department being busy, we were pushed out. It was a looooong day of just waiting around at the hospital. Our induction was started at around 6pm. This part of the process involved a vaginal insert (misoprostol) that would cause my uterus to contract and allow me to deliver April Rey.

They put about 4 or 5 pills into my cervix. This was definitely an uncomfortable process. I also, of course, was hooked up to an IV for fluids. In addition to this, because of my antiphospholipid syndrome that I've had to continue doing injections for, they also injected me with heparin to prevent any blood clots.

The doctors explained to us that this would be a long slow process. Their plan was to check me every 3 hours and see if I was dilating. They'd continue the misoprostol inserts every 3 hours as well. I was instructed to stay flat in bed so the inserts would not fall out.

I'm not exactly sure when the pain started, but it seemed to happen pretty quickly. The contractions were very intense (worse than anything that I remember with my first pregnancy). I had originally been told that I wouldn't be able to have an epidural until around midnight (due to the heparin injection I'd been given), and I was wondering how on earth I was going to make it that long.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A Note From My Mom About Leaving the Hospital

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

The following is a written by my mom, Jeanine Palmieri. I will remember this moment forever. It was the hardest walk of my life. I felt like it took a lifetime to get to our car. I felt like I was on display, except I'd then look around and realize no one was looking at me. Everyone had their own agendas, and their own places to be. And then the balloons, and the teddy bear that was rushed passed us to congratulate someone on their baby girl... I will always remember...

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

April Rey- The Girl Who Changed My Life // A Note From Our Photographer

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

The following is a note that our amazing photographer posted to Facebook to help share April's story. Jenny (our photographer) was such a gift to us in this moment of tragedy. She came into our lives as an incredibly kind and selfless stranger, and she'll forever remain in a special place in our hearts. I have a feeling we'll be headed out to see her again for any future family photographs! Jenny's gift is going to last us a lifetime and bring so much peace and love to our home. We are forever grateful. 

April Rey // The girl who changed my life

There are things you will experience in life where words will fall short of explaining or describing the impact it had on your life.

Rewind to a few weeks ago. There was a post in a local photography group I am in looking for a particular and touching request. The other photographer was no longer able to provide her time to do photographs for a family near and dear to her heart. She was moving, and was trying to fill her spot for them because she cared for them very deeply.

The family was going to be induced on 8/8, and their daughter, April Rey would enter the world. They wanted her birth captured, and their time with her following the birth.

She was asking if anyone local was a volunteer with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (NILMDTS) and if they could be available to help out with this request. I was not affiliated with NILMDTS, and had only shot one birth, but I was interested in being able to capture this special time for the family, and let her know I would love to speak with them about it.

I was put in contact with The Villegas family, and I felt connected to them on such a deep level, I knew that I would do anything in my power to be there for them.

It was unknown how long they would have April Rey with them following her delivery, so they wanted every second captured that they could.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Induction Day 1- Trisomy 13

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog
Well, while Tuesday 8/8 is our official scheduled time for our induction, Monday was a bigger day than I'd expected...

I had appointments starting at 9:15 and lasting for a couple of hours. I knew it was an important day, but I don't think I realized how emotional it really would be.

At 9:15 I met with the fetal therapy group that I'd seen before.

As I sat in the waiting room, I was surrounded my moms to be. They were all in their 3rd trimester and had smiles on their faces. I wanted to hide as the tears silently fell down my face. I kept myself together enough to stay quiet and wipe the tears away, hoping no one would see my pain. Then the doctor came to get me, and I fell apart. I knew what was to come, and I could not hold myself together.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

April's Birth & Death Announcement 8/8/17

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

Our beautiful, strong April Rey was such a fighter. She joined us on her own terms on 8/8 at 11:22pm. She was alive and so peaceful in my arms. She held my hand tightly and squeezed. She was peaceful and happy for the few minutes that she was alive (she passed at 11:33pm) and was in no pain. She somehow filled me with calmness and joy and I held her as long as I could. I was so happy to meet my little girl, and she kept me so strong that I didn't even shed a tear while she was in my arms. She was amazing and perfect and we miss her so much already. I go to do something and I can hardly breathe when I realize that she can't physically be with us. Our moments with her were precious and we'll always cherish them.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Why Joining A Mom's Club Was One of the Best Decisions I've Made

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

This post originally appeared at the Team Cartwright blog, on June 8, 2017.

Oh my gosh I fought this so hard. I did NOT want to join a mom's club. I thought the idea of paying for friends was so silly. I thought I'd be able to make friends. I thought I'd be able to find mom friends naturally. I tried and I tried hard. I was disappointed again and again, and I finally broke down and tried my local mom's group. It's been almost a year, and I am really glad I gave it a shot.

Here's the thing- mom life can be lonely. Despite the fact that I have a 2.5 year old that talks nonstop, it's still a lonely job at times with minimal adult interaction. And, if your husband is as busy as mine, adult time can't always be counted on from that front, either.

We spent the first 1.5 years going out by ourselves, just the two of us. I'd make it a point to talk to other moms that were at events with babies around the same age as Caroline. I'd even go so far as to exchange numbers and Facebook accounts so we could get together another time. I'd schedule playdates, and 90% of the time the moms would either cancel, be no shows, or show up way late with no respect for my time. It was a disappointing process and I felt so much like I was dating again...and who wants to do that!? It's hard, so hard to find friends. It's also hard to do everything alone. It's lonely, even with your child in tow.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Helpful Things to Say to a Parent Walking This Path- Grief & Trisomy 13

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog
There are 4 types of people I've encountered during this terrible moment of grief:

1. The people that don't know what to say, so they choose to not say anything at all.

2. The people that don't know what to say, but they reach out and admit that, in order to still show their support.

3. The people that say unhelpful things.

4. The people that know just what to say.
Sometimes people ask me what is helpful- what they can do to help, or what they can say to help. The truth is I had no idea. I had to learn from the people listed in #4 above... because until those people showed up and said helpful things, I didn't know what would be helpful!

I think the majority of people are in categories 1 and 2. A very small percent live in the last two categories, and most in #3 don't mean to say unhelpful things- I do believe that most have good intentions. The people in category #4 truly amaze me. I try to point out their gift when I see it, because it's truly something special that we can all learn from!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

One Week Until Induction Day

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog
I've been quiet on the blog recently... just taking everything in, and well there honestly hasn't been much to write on. There hasn't been any new news, other than an actual date set for our induction- August 8, 2017. Yesterday I realized it was one week away. I have one week left to spend with April. One week left to feel her kicks. One week left to talk to her and enjoy her presence.

One week left.

I walked around in a fog yesterday. I felt upset at the world, and annoyed with every little thing. I went out at one point by myself, and the world just seemed to spin around me. It was the same feeling that I'd felt when I was at Hopkins taking in all of the information they'd presented to us. I remember walking into the lunch area and everything seemed to be a blur around us. My heart raced, and the tears came instantly. People moved about busily, not knowing that our world felt like it was falling apart. I had to stop walking in what felt like utter chaos and catch my breath. Yesterday was the same. As I walked around in stores, I couldn't make sense of anything going on around me. I was just in a daze and feeling like I was in slow motion compared to everyone around me.

Monday, July 31, 2017

When Would You Step in and Correct Another Parent?

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog


Hi, MOC readers! It's Kim from Team Cartwright.  Katrina has been kind enough to let me borrow her blog for a moment to talk about something I have been mulling over for a while.  Like all moms I'm trying to figure this parenting thing out as I go, and I really want to know what others are thinking on this.  So thank you, Katrina!

Have you ever seen a parent do something that you know you have read is technically not safe, but doesn't seem like it is an actual immediate threat?  Like, it's not a good idea to do it, but realistically you wonder if it is the end of the world?  Plus so many other parents do it.  When you see it happening do you go up to that parent and say something?  Or do you mind your own business, figuring that parent has the right to make their own decisions?

Sorry, is this confusing?  I'll just get specific.  Now before I do I of course want to point out that I am not judging.  I am not looking to shame parents, and I am certainly not trying to appear better than anyone else.  I make plenty of mistakes and have done things I maybe (probably)  should be judged for.  This is a situation that I am really wondering about.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Sometimes a Tribe You Never Knew Existed Shows Up and Holds You Up

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog
Anyone reading this blog knows that I'm a huge advocate of Babywise techniques. I have used the ideas on scheduling and incorporating eat, wake, sleep cycles, I've used a lot of the discipline techniques from the Babywise books, and even incorporated some of their potty training suggestions, along with many other things from the books. I find them to be an invaluable resource. And, even more so... I find Babywise Mamas to be an amazing support system. Not ONCE in any of the Babywise Facebook groups that I am in have I ever seen a negative or judgmental matter the topic. Be it car seats, grapes, or sleep training. Not once. I find the Babywise community of moms to be refreshing in their openness and supportiveness. And, once again they blew me away.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Trisomy 13- The Story of Addison Faith

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog
It was May 31st, 2015, when I first took a pregnancy test after weeks of nausea. At this time I was a single mom to two kids and working long hours as a registered nurse. The pregnancy test came back positive and I immediately broke down to tears. I struggled with the fact of having three kids and was pressured by the father to not carry this pregnancy to term. I decided to contact a local Pregnancy Resource to verify my results and obtain an ultrasound. 

I went in and took another pregnancy test and I knew the result would once again say I was pregnant. I set up an ultrasound for the next week, all the while I couldn’t tell anyone I was pregnant. I don’t think I could ever prepare myself for that ultrasound. I couldn’t see the screen to start the ultrasound, but did remember the lady performing the ultrasound staring hard at the screen. She asked me if I was ready for it and of course I said I was. “It’s twins!” she said. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Swimboree 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: Swimboree

Beginner Water Survival: 3 Months to 36 Months with Parent
(4 Children Max, Parent-assisted class)

"Building on our Tadpole skills, little ones begin their water survival skills through a structured program of songs, games and fun. Your instructor will work one-on-one with you and your child. Students must meet Tadpole goals in order to enroll in Swimboree."

Caroline did 2 lessons in the Tadpole class, and it was clear she needed to move up. Aside from being my stubborn little girl with regards to going underwater, she'd mastered the goals easily. And, when it comes to going underwater...she'll do it, she just prefers not to. But like with anything, she listens and goes along with the flow. So, she's now been at the Swimboree level since the end of June, and she's doing great. We see progression each week. 

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

The Lesson

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Our Visit to Hopkins Fetal Therapy Group

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

Yesterday was our appointment with the Fetal Therapy group at Johns Hopkins Hospital. We met with their genetic counselor, and then had an ultrasound done and met with two fetal specialists. There wasn't a ton of new information, but I did walk away from the appointment feeling good about our direction, and I am soooo pleased to say that April will be able to have her body donated to science!!!

One of my biggest weights was lifted off when I found out this news. After talking with the genetic counselor, it is going to be extremely simple to have her body donated to Hopkins. She's going to look into specific studies, and if that doesn't pan out, she said she'll easily be able to find med students that are interested in this specific condition. We'll be able to donate her body for them to learn from, do a practice autopsy on, etc. In addition to that, she mentioned the possibility of having a team of students come in and observe the induction, and have the chance to see her as well, in order to further their education on trisomy 13. This was the point in the appointment when I just burst into tears. I am so happy that this can happen so easily. Thank goodness we live near such a wonderful teaching hospital!

Friday, July 21, 2017

In Honor of April Rey- A Donation That Can Save Lives

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

When we learned of April Rey's condition, our first thought was that her life could serve a purpose by helping others. Unfortunately, we quickly learned that she was not eligible for organ donation.

Our next thought was that we'd love to donate her body to science. We've hit some roadblocks with this, but are still actively pursuing this as an option. Donating her body to science of any level- whether it is high end research or a first year medical student who needs to practice, would bring us great joy.

This morning I woke and realized that we can do even more than this...

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Trisomy 13- April Rey's 17 Week Anatomy Scan

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog
Today we had our anatomy scan. This appointment has been scheduled for awhile- long before we even knew that April had trisomy 13. I wasn't sure what to expect, honestly. April's ultrasounds have looked beautiful thus far, and as I've discussed previously, trisomy 13 babies often don't show abnormalities on ultrasounds- especially at this early gestational age.

I figured we'd continue to see good ultrasounds for awhile longer. I was so very wrong...

Today, we started seeing significant defects on her ultrasound images, and also received our final amniocentesis report.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Fun at the Grocery Store with Our Toddler (2.5 Years Old)

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog
I've been writing sooo much about April Rey and our trisomy 13 journey. This post is a nice little break from the sadness in our worlds right now. The truth is that Caroline brings us so much joy, even in such a time of grief.  It's moments like these, that we get to just be in the moment and enjoy our beautiful little girl.

It was after dinner, and one of those rushed grocery store trips that was relatively last minute, but needed. We needed to stock up on fruit, milk, yogurt, cereal- the basics.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Why Breastfed Babies are at a Higher Risk for Iron Deficiency, & What to do About it

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

This post originally appeared at on May 11, 2017.

When it comes to feeding your baby solid foods, there is one very important mineral to keep in mind- iron. Babies are actually born with a backup of iron stores. These iron stores supply iron to your little one for approximately the first 6 months of life, until they are depleted around that age. So, what does this mean exactly? It means you need to get iron into your baby so they don't get deficient.

The next question is if the baby is breastfed or formula fed.

Formula fed babies are getting the iron they need from the formula they are drinking. Most formulas are iron-fortified. This means you don't have to worry about iron deficiency as much (depending on how much formula you are feeding your baby).

Breastfed babies, on the other hand, do not get enough iron from breast milk. Breast milk actually contains very little iron. As a result, breast fed babies actually need some form of supplementation to get the iron that they need, otherwise they are at risk for being deficient. So, at 6 months of age, it is no longer safe to 100% breastfeed your baby. There has to be supplementation somewhere.

Most parents are thinking about starting solid foods somewhere between the age of 4-6 months, with the trend now being to start at 6 months. My only caution with this, is that many babies don't take to solid foods quickly, so if you are breastfeeding your baby and only start introducing solid foods at 6 months, there needs to be a quick turnaround on acceptance of the food, and a high focus on iron intake, in order to be sure your little one is getting enough. As with everything, every choice you make needs to consider everything that is right for your little one. The recommendation to start at 6 months is only part of the big picture to keep in mind.

The next question, is where do you focus in order to increase iron intake? 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Moms, Stop Apologizing

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog
Moms, Stop Apologizing

“Sorry for the lack of make-up and mom bun.”

“Please look past the mess on the floor.”

“Don’t mind the spit-up in my hair.”

“Sorry I have a sink full of dishes at the moment.”

“Excuse the toilet that hasn’t been scrubbed in a couple of days.”

Whether it’s a picture that is posted to social media, or a friend coming over to our house, women do nothing but apologize for being REAL. For not having all the time in the world. For being US. For being YOU. For being a MOM.

BFBN Week (Guest Post)- How To Teach Your Children Self-Control

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

It's Babywise Friendly Blog Network week! See below for our full schedule this week (8 AMAZING posts on Babywise series topics that are not schedule or sleep related). Today we are hearing from Emily on "How To Teach Your Children Self-Control". This is one of my favorite techniques to use!

"When you begin to see those early signs that your kids are going to lose it physically or verbally, instruct them to fold their hands and work on getting some self-control. That is all you need to do. Teaching your child that self-control begins with the folding of her hands is a wonderfully concrete way for her to understand calmness. Her eyes focus on those peaceful hands lying still in her lap, and soon physical and verbal self-control is achieved."

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Trisomy 13- My Worst Fear That I HATE Admitting

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

There are a lot of people following this journey with us, and I am so very thankful that everyone is allowing me to write what is in my heart without judgement. All of the responses on my FB page and on the blog have been supportive. I think most that read these posts realize that until you walk the path, you have no idea how you'd feel, and so there's been this outpouring of love and sympathy as a result. I so appreciate that. I appreciate being able to write a post like the one today, and feel secure that people will rally with me, not against me. These feelings are things that I truly hate admitting to myself, much less the entire world. But I'm terrified to feel this way partly because I feel so alone. So if this post reaches someone else that is feeling alone, then it is worth publishing. 

The option to carry to term is out there. I could meet April Rey. She might be alive and we could have a few moments together before she dies. I know we wouldn't take any life saving measures. We'd let her go peacefully if we decided on this option. I have a hard time leaning toward this option because of my worst fears, however.

First, there are the "what ifs" that we think of that make me WANT to carry to term and find out....

What if she is the miracle child with nothing wrong. What if she proved all these tests to be wrong and was a normal healthy baby? It's probably less than a one in a million chance, but what if...?

Then there are my WORST FEARS...

What if she is in pain?

And the one I hate to admit but it's there....

BFBN Week (Guest Post)- Temper Tantrums and the Happy Heart Rug

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

It's Babywise Friendly Blog Network week! See below for our full schedule this week (8 AMAZING posts on Babywise series topics that are not schedule or sleep related). Today we are hearing from Carrie on "Temper Tantrums and the Happy Heart Rug".

"The book "Toddler Wise" specifically addresses Temper Tantrums in the "Toddler Topic Pool" chapter. It states that "how [a child] controls and expresses his emotions is far more important than the fact he merely controls or expresses himself...... A temper tantrum is a coping mechanism occurring because an individual has not learned how to correctly manage disappointment." This is so important to us because we believe that part of raising adults is teaching our kids that they are responsible for their own emotions and they have a choice and control over how they handle them. "

BFBN Week (Guest Post)- Self-Control is a Base Virtue

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

It's Babywise Friendly Blog Network week! See below for our full schedule this week (8 AMAZING posts on Babywise series topics that are not schedule or sleep related). Today we are hearing from Cole on "Self-Control is a Base Virtue".

If there is one character trait that I think is most worth focusing on with little children (at least of the ages mine are), I believe it self-control. Self-control is the ability to manage and restrict the expression of one's emotions and desires, and it is most definitely NOT an attribute we are born possessing. It must be taught and practiced over and over, day in and day out.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Trisomy 13- Getting More Information & Our Plan Moving Forward

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog
With a full trisomy 13 diagnosis, and almost 100% of April Rey's cells representing the chromosomal abnormality, it seems like a straight forward diagnosis. And, for the most part it is. Trisomy 13 is a fatal condition that typically involves severe intellectual disabilities along with physical defects and most major organs impacted. It's devastating.

Many parents have NO idea that their child has this condition until they are born. It doesn't always show up on ultrasounds. And without any indication on an ultrasound, or any high risk factors being flagged, there's no reason to do DNA testing, or diagnostic tests like an amniocentesis.

We very well could have been in this situation. I am 33 years old, so not to the age of 35 where they start recommending additional testing. Our ultrasound images so far (at 15 weeks) look beautiful.

If you've been following this journey with us, you've heard why we were tested, but just a quick recap:

How to Give Instructions to Your Toddler & Achieve Successful Results

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog
It's Babywise Friendly Blog Network week! See below for our full schedule this week (8 AMAZING posts on Babywise series topics that are not schedule or sleep related). Today is my post on "How to Give Instructions to Your Toddler & Achieve Successful Results"...

It may be of surprise to many, but the Babywise theory by Gary Ezzo, is actually so much more than schedules and sleep recommendations. Not only that, the Babywise series has recommendations that extend into the teenage years! I haven't personally read the the older books yet, but I've read Babywise, Babywise II, PreToddlerwise, Toddlerwise, Preschoolwise, and Childwise. I am always amazed to see all that is packed into these books. From discipline to potty training, mealtime recommendations to family dynamics- the books really cover so much! 

I always find it interesting to see how well our parenting style really fits in with many aspects of these books. We'll come up with something to incorporate into our parenting, and then I'll re-read one of these books for more ideas, only to find that many of our favorite ideas are also recommendations in these books. I then read the section again, and find even more ways to expand on the idea that we've been incorporating already. Just goes to show that Babywise is a great fit for my family!

One of our favorite techniques with our daughter, is something we use when asking her to do something or giving instructions.

We require two things: