Links to Amazon are affiliate links*


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.
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.

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. 
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

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!

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...

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.

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.

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? 

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.

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."

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....

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. "

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.

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:

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:
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...

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.'

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."
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.

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."

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."

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.

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 necessarily the end of the world if our child had Down Syndrome (depends on each case as to how devastating it is). 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 afternoon 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?"

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.

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.

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

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...