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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:

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Trisomy 13- Why Would I Ever Consider Not Fighting the Fight?

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog
Before anyone reads this post, I want to make something very clear. I have no judgement of those that chose or are choosing to fight the fight. This post is no reflection on anyone else's decision or pathway. This post is just my raw emotions right now in the moment. It's indicative of our pathway- the one that's right for our family. Often tone and intent get lost in written words, so I just want to be clear that I have no ill intentions with this post, nor any judgement of parents that have fought the hard fight with their beautiful trisomy children. And I know that many will be turned off by this post, but I feel the need to post it. Why? Because it's real. It's my real thoughts, my real emotions, raw and uncut. And there are other moms out there that are feeling this way. I want them to know they are not alone. 

In my efforts to better understand trisomy 13 from the perspective of parents that have chosen to fight the fight and keep their little ones alive... I posed a question to a Facebook community of trisomy families.

My question was very specific...

BFBN Week (Guest Post)- 5 Ways to Teach Children Kindness

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 Caitlin on "5 Ways to Teach Children Kindness".

Chapter Four of On Becoming Childwise says 'We know you want to instill honesty, empathy, compassion, kindness, gentleness, respect, honor, and self-control in your children.  This is not a wish list from never-never land.  It is a reasonable goal for your children.  But they are not born with these virtues.  They're cultivated.  It is the duty of the parents to put character into their children and not sit back and hope good character emerges naturally.  It won't.'

BFBN Week (Guest Post)- Intentional Parenting: How Our Beliefs and Goals Shape Our Parenting Decisions

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 Kim on "Intentional Parenting: How Our Beliefs and Goals Shape Our Parenting Decisions".

Both goals and beliefs are important in raising our children.  Beliefs are our intrinsic values.  These are things like what we view as right or wrong.  What do we place importance on and give respect to?  Things like honesty, compassion, kindness- these are beliefs.  Goals are what we want to achieve.  These are results that come from action.  Do you want your child to go to a certain college or enter a certain profession?  Do you hope your child is a vegetarian?  These two ideas- beliefs and goals- do overlap a lot, especially in the big things we want for our kids.  I think it is safe to say most parents want to raise happy, successful adults.  These fall into both belief and goal categories, so we need to be looking at both as we parent."

Monday, July 10, 2017

Genetic Counselor Questions Asked and Answered

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog
Bright and early this morning, I called to make an appointment with the genetic counselor. I wanted to make sure we got in today, as we had questions upon questions just nagging at us. When the genetic counselor returned my phone call, I knew she'd be the right person to walk me through this. Her background is in molecular biology. She is a geneticist that is also a counselor (obvious from her title, but comforting to hear her expertise was the science part). I gave her a heads up as to everything I wanted to discuss in our meeting, and I told her I wanted it given to me straight. No sugar coating. I wanted everything upfront, and I wanted the data. I wanted the facts. I wanted the science.

We presented her with our questions, and she even brought out a science book and was showing us chromosomes. She did an excellent job and it was comforting to know the data.

BFBN Week (Guest Post)- How to Solve the "Wise in Their Own Eyes" Problem

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 Natasha on "How to Solve the 'Wise in Their Own Eyes' Problem".

In chapter 4 of On Becoming Preschool Wise, Ezzo and Bucknam warn "against creating the false impression in the mind of a child that she is able to do anything, say anything, and go anywhere without parents guidance or approval."  Such a child "is a child who has been granted too many freedoms of self-governance too early."  When children are given too many choices or given too much freedom to make decisions, it can lead to a problem referred to as wise in their own eyes.  "Children who are wise in their own eyes will tend to go places they should not go and say things they should not say."

BFBN Week (Guest Post) - How to Correct Your Preteen

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 Valerie on "How to Correct Your Preteen".

"As soon as your child enters the age for a preteen, the way you correct or discipline that child starts to shift a bit. You both can feel things changing, but neither of you are quite sure how that should be, much less how it will be. A child in the middle years age-range certainly knows a lot more about how to behave than a two year old. Just because your preteen knows more than she did when she was younger does not mean she knows everything. She will still do things she shouldn't and will still need to be corrected. A middle-years child very much still needs to be taught, encouraged, and disciplined to learn how to grow into a wise, moral, and responsible person."

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Trisomy 13 - The Day After Our Heartbreaking News

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

First of all I want to thank EVERYONE for your messages, comments, and positive thoughts. The outpouring of love and support from friends, family, and blog readers was and continues to be indescribable. Know that even if I haven't had time to respond directly to you, that your message was read, and is in my heart. All of your words have been as uplifting as they can be. So, thank you.

Our journey is far from over, and I am still stunned at our news with so many questions and so many thoughts. In time, my questions will be answered, and we'll have our plan in place. For now, I sit in limbo just taking it all in and figuring out how to move forward.

I guess I never officially announced it on the blog, but here are my words from yesterday that were posted to Facebook that many of you saw:

"I don't know how to say this, and I'm not ready to really, but I know there are so many of you waiting on the news.

April Rey was diagnosed with trisomy 13 today. We've shed more tears than I can count, we've talked to our families, and we've told Caroline.

At the beginning of next week we start the process of talking with a genetic counselor, and learning about our options. This is a fatal condition, so it's just a matter of when, really.

We are discussing ways to honor April Rey, and will continue to update everyone as we know more details. Thank you for thinking of April today. Thank you for your love and support. My husband and I have the honor of being parents to two wonderful daughters. Caroline is already an amazing big sister. We will always keep April alive in our hearts."

We chose to do the amniocentesis procedure, because it is a diagnostic test. It takes all uncertainty and doubt out of the equation. The amnio confirmed that April Rey does in fact have trisomy 13. So, while her body still looks perfect on an ultrasound, her fetal cells indicate that that is not the case.

From my understanding, the ultrasound does not always show abnormalities this early in a pregnancy (we are 15 weeks). It is possible that the abnormalities would be seen as we progress, and it is possible that we would not see any defects until April Rey is born. This is the part that is incredibly hard for me. I know the science behind the amnio is correct. I know it's right. But, my baby girl looks perfect. She moves and wiggles, and her fingers and toes and brain and heart all look fine on the screen. My heart is having a hard time accepting that this perfect baby has such a devastating chromosomal abnormality.

On Monday I'll receive a phone call from a genetic counselor. I am not sure if I'll be told to schedule an appointment, or if my questions and options get discussed on the phone. I was too distraught when the doctor told me the news to find out that detail. I just know I'll receive the phone call. And I know I have so many questions.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Baby V #2 Update 15 Weeks- The Longest Wait of Our Lives

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

Yesterday we learned the sex of the baby! We also got some potentially devastating news and are waiting for a diagnosis....
A couple of weeks ago we did the nuchal translucency test that looks for chromosomal abnormalities. We were told that our ultrasound looked beautiful with no concerns, but that the blood work came back with an increased risk for Down Syndrome (1 in 77 chance). Everything with regards to trisomy 13 and 18 came back fine.

The perinatologist recommended doing a DNA test (noninvasive) to get more information. I was not at all concerned about Down Syndrome. One, I knew it was still highly unlikely, and two, I knew it wasn't the end of the world if our child had Down Syndrome. It was going to be ok either way. I agreed to the test, however, because it was the next logical step for more information, and more information is always more knowledge. My husband and I agreed we should move forward with it. We were also super excited to find out the sex of the baby early.

The test was supposed to take 1 week. Well, a week and a half went by, and no news. I was starting to feel like something was wrong. Yesterday evening I got the phone call. It was Wednesday, July 5th at 5 pm. The doctor's words became a bit of a blur as I took in potentially devastating news. I contained most of my tears until I'd hung up the phone, and then I exploded with sadness and shock. The tears came faster than I could manage. Caroline (2.5) jumped into my arms and kept saying "Oh Mama, it's ok. It's Ok, Mama. What's wrong, Mama?"

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Teaching My Toddler (and myself) to Own Her Boundaries

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog
Teaching My Toddler (and myself) to Own Her Boundaries

I don’t like that.
Please don’t touch me.
Please don’t take things from me.
I wasn’t done with that.
You can have a turn when I’m done.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Ways We've Incorporated Volunteering into Our Lives- With a Toddler

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

As a stay at home mom, I would LOVE to be doing volunteer activities. Not only do I have the time, I'd love to be exposing my daughter to the world of volunteering, and teaching her all of the valuable life lessons that come along with it. Unfortunately, with a toddler in tow, there are very few volunteer activities that I can do. Most opportunities have age limits, and when it comes down to it, I'd need my hands toddler free to get the work done. We have had luck finding a few things to do, however.

1. I've asked Caroline to volunteer her time for a good cause
On two separate occasions, we've taken the time to donate to local pediatric units at our hospitals. The first time, Caroline was young, but old enough to understand. We collected donations through the use of this blog, added in funds ourselves, and went shopping. Ordering items online would have been super easy, but I wanted Caroline to see the process. We went shopping the good old fashioned way, and Caroline helped find all of the items on the wishlist provided by the hospital. We then delivered the items as a family to the hospital.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Caroline's 3rd July 4th and Fireworks

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

It's weird to say- this was Caroline's 3rd July 4th celebration. Time is just flying by. Each time has had it's own special memories...

7/4/15- Caroline's first time, and our first time trying to watch fireworks at Joe's course. No fireworks were ever seen (Mama was totally disappointed), but we still had a great time chowing down on bean dip and chips. Caroline was about 8 months old and she loved being out at night for the first time, and loved the food!

7/4/16- It rained all day! We were thrilled because that meant Daddy got to come home from work and spend the day with us. We headed up to Frederick for the country stage music and fireworks. As we were driving I found out the (rain or shine) festivities were all cancelled! We had everything loaded up in the car with nowhere to go. Oh well! We went to the parking lot in Germantown where we'd able to view fireworks later (if they also weren't cancelled). We had HOURS to wait. It was something crazy like 5 pm. We hung out at a playground, and cranked up our car radio, and had a picnic in the rain. Such good memories. The fireworks did happen and Caroline really could have cared less about them LOL!

7/1/17- Caroline's 3rd 4th of July celebration

Monday, July 3, 2017

Calm Down Bin- Making Progress on the Screams (2.5 Years Old)

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog
We have been awake for less than 2 hours today, and already we've had 2 screaming fits. The good news, if you're keeping track, is that as of a few days ago her fits were 1 hour long and just solid full of screams. That is no longer the case. Her fits still involve screams. They are even perhaps more frequent now, but they are short. They are manageable. But they are tiring. Mama's tired.

Two days in a row now, Caroline has refused to brush her teeth. "No thank you", she says. I explain that it wasn't a question, and that she needs to listen to Mama and go to the bathroom to brush her teeth. "No thanks", she says. At least she's polite?! LOL I ask her what's going to happen if she doesn't go brush her teeth. She can clearly state that she knows the consequence- the toy(s) that she's currently playing with will get taken away until tomorrow. She knows this, and still refuses to go.

So, I then give her a choice. She can either calmly walk into the bathroom and keep her toys to play with, or I can bring her to the bathroom and she can lose her toys until tomorrow. "NO NO NO!" she yells. And so I bring her to the bathroom and brush her teeth (all while having to hold her up because she's refusing to stand on her stool). When we're done, I take her to her room and have her pick up her toys and give them to me to store away for the next day. Then the screaming starts.

Her fits are either a result of her... 

Friday, June 30, 2017

Keeping It Real- Screams From My 2.5 Year Old

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

This is the keeping it real post for this month LOL! While my daughter is amazing, often very mature for her age, and seemingly an easy child that likes to please....she has her moments, and lots of them. Not everything is peachy perfect in our world, even though it may appear that way at times when you read a blog about how caring and patient my daughter is. That's just one snapshot. Those are all true things, but she's 2.5. She has plenty of 2.5 year old moments...

Today my daughter screamed for 1 hour. 1 full hour. Why? She'd asked me to change her from a dress into a shirt. "Sure," I said, as I did the dishes after breakfast, "just go get the shirt that you want to change into, please". All out screaming ensued. Screams are a new addition to her repertoire lately. Caroline is very emotional, strong willed, and stubborn. She's also very mature and knows all of the methods that she has available to her to help calm down.

I immediately tried to stop the screams before they were escalated. I reminded her that I said "YES" to her question and tried to focus on the positive. "You do it!", she yelled at me. I reminded her that she needed to talk nicely, and that I was going to help her as soon as she got the shirt that she wanted. I tried to get her excited about picking her shirt out. The screams intensified. I then reminded her that if she wanted help calming down, I was there for her, or if she wanted to continue screaming that she'd need to go to her room. I reminded her of all of her options to calm down, and offered a hug. She continued screaming, so I took her to her room to calm down. I stood outside of her door for about 30 minutes, all the while reminding her that once she was calm, I'd come in. I reminded her again of all of the ways to help calm herself down, and I offered her hugs. There was no break in the screams, and no acceptance of my hugs.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Breakfast Math- A Preschool Math Activity

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog
Today I have the pleasure of sharing with you a preschool math activity! It is always a goal of mine to keep STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math) enjoyable and easy for parents to incorporate into their daily activities. This activity is brought to us by They have TONS of activities for all ages on their site. This particular activity is practicing fractions, and I see a lot of opportunity with just this one activity!

Don't worry, if your toddler is too young for fractions, I have some great ideas listed on the bottom of this post as to how you can adjust this activity to learn about counting, addition, subtraction, and even make fractions super easy for a young toddler as well!

Breakfast Math

Waffles and berries make for a great way to help your child learn her fractions. It’s fun, easy and best of all, super delicious! Get your little one's brain going in the morning as you show her how yummy math can be. 

What You Need:

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Thank You For Being So Selfless and So Compassionate

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

Dear Caroline,

Thank you for being so strong. Thank you for being so compassionate. Thank you for taking care of me. This pregnancy has not been the easiest on me, but you always notice and show me your love.

Two nights ago we got home from a fun family dinner out. I was nauseous the entire drive home, and when we got home, the walk into the house made things so much worse. It was a little past your bedtime. Daddy took Moose outside and went to get him dinner. I was going to get you ready for bed. I took a moment downstairs and had some water, then climbed the stairs with you and made it into the bathroom to brush your teeth. It was all downhill from there.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Car Seat Options When Flying to Your Travel Destination

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog
Car Seat Options When Flying to Your Travel Destination
If you are traveling with a baby or toddler this summer, it is inevitable you’ll need a car seat at your destination. This then poses the question– do you check the car seat on the plane with your other baggage, or do you buy your child a ticket and put the car seat on the plane? Or is there another option?
Before you make the decision on whether to check the car seat or bring it on-board, there are a few options to keep in mind:

Friday, June 23, 2017

Baby V #2 Bump Update- 13 Weeks

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog
This adorable and active baby in my belly is now the size of a peach! About 2 weeks ago, I swore I could feel the baby move, but knew it was super early. The feelings were much different than gas pains, or bubbles... they were little thumps- little flicks. The first time I felt it was when Caroline touched my belly and said "Hi baby!". I figured I was imagining things since I was only 11 weeks. Well those thumps have only gotten stronger. I only feel them at night when I'm super still, and rarely at that, but they are definitely there. The other night we stayed up past Caroline's bedtime listening to music and singing. We had such a great family time, and Baby V #2 was joining in with lots of dancing inside of mama! So much fun to feel. I can't wait for my husband and Caroline to be able to feel it as well.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

BFBN: Getting to Know the Babywise Friendly Blog Network Mamas

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

Today I'd like to take a moment to officially introduce the Babywise Friendly Blog Network. I've been writing with these wonderful ladies for 1.5 years now, and it has been an amazing experience. All of these mamas have used Babywise principles and all have their own unique take on it. Our goal is to share our experiences with parents across the world, and I think we are doing a phenomenal job at that! It's wonderful to be a part of!

Not sure what Babywise is? Check out this post!

You'll find that we are all a bit different in how we parent. Yes we all use Babywise, but when it comes to everything else, we cover the parental spectrum. From formula to breastfeeding, cloth diapering to disposables, spanking to a hands off approach- you'll find it all here. One of the things I love the most about this group is that we can all write on the same topic, and all be open minded and nonjudgmental of other methods.

The BFBN has a combined total of 8 moms and 26 children at the moment! Yes you read that correctly! I am the only mom with 1 child! All 7 of the other moms have 3 or 4 children, and we have 3 twin moms!!! Not to mention we have 2 more on the way (one of those being my second child, and one mom has an adoption in process).

Sunday, June 18, 2017

To My Husband This Father's Day, 2017

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

To my husband this Father's day, 2017. 

If I could plan the perfect day for you, here's what we'd do:

We'd let you sleep in as long as possible (although we both know you never would). 

I'd make a big breakfast with eggs, potatoes and bacon (although we both know you'd make it better). 

We'd take Caroline and Moose somewhere to play. They could splash in the creek together, and we could enjoy our family time.

We'd make it home in time for a nice big lunch. We'd make the best sandwiches ever- piled high on fresh bread, and we'd have potato salad, fruit, and chips.

Caroline would go down for her nap after lunch, just about the time golf coverage was getting going.

You'd get to sit and relax and WATCH golf!

Caroline would get up from her nap, and watch with us. She'd ask questions and you'd love teaching her about the wonderful game of golf.

We'd barbecue hamburgers and have corn on the cob, while watching golf.

Caroline would get to stay up late to see the final putt at 18.

If it didn't go to playoff and end too late, we'd go out for ice cream at coldstone.

At some point during the day we'd give you your homemade card and present (which will probably always be pictures or something our child(ren) made for you). 

It would be the perfect day that you so deserve.

Your day won't look like this, however. Instead...

Friday, June 16, 2017

Friday Finds: Swimsuits that Make Summer EASY for Mama

Mama's Organized Chaos: A Babywise Blog

So I don't know about you, but during the summer, with my 2.5 year old, I plan on spending as much time in the pool and in water as possible. She just loves the water, and wants to go as much as possible.

We spend time at our community pool, we go to a free fountain nearby, and she's just begun swim lessons with British Swim School. We also frequently go to creeks to splash and explore.

All of this water, means wearing a swimsuit pretty frequently.

There are 2 problems with the typical swimsuit that I used to wear:

1. When holding a toddler or baby in the pool, their hands are everywhere. I am constantly worried about my swimsuit keeping me covered when there are little hands pulling it off (even if those little hands don't mean to). That is the last thing I want to worry about when I'm trying to enjoy pool time with my daughter.