Thursday, January 28, 2016

Dawn Publications Spring 2016 Releases

             Hey folks! It's time for a sneak preview of Dawn Publications' 2016 Spring releases! If you've not seen any of my past previews, Dawn Pub specializes in providing nature books for children on topics such as farm life, ecosystems, plant life, and much more, all in a way that makes learning fun and interesting for young children! Even better, there are always resources at the back of the books for extended learning at home or in the classroom, as well as resources on their website.

Over on the Farm

I love the Over on the... series, especially since they're geared towards younger kids and Myka is only three, so I was excited to see that not only was there a new book in the series coming out this spring, but it was about one of my and Myka's favorite subjects: farm animals! As always, Marianne Berkes does a wonderful job with the rhymes, making them both memorable and easy for the children to relate to. I thought it was funny there are suggested hand/body movements to do along with the animals in the story at the end of the book because I found myself doing some of them while reading this with Myka before we even came across it in the back!

Aside from the hand movements, I really liked that there were suggestions for expanded comprehension/learning broken down into different groups, such as language arts, math, science, etc. Plus, a lot of them are suitable for kids as young as preschool-aged, so we should be able to do some of the activities next year!

Green Bean! Green Bean!

Grean Bean! Green Bean! is the perfect book to welcome spring! All about the events a green bean can face during the growing season, this is another book from Dawn Pub that makes learning about plant life cycles fun and engaging! Intended for ages 4-10, this would be a great book to include in a lesson on gardening, plant science, and more.

I liked the repetition in this book as it seems to make the story flow more easily and will help children remember it better. It would make a fun read-aloud book! Plus, it's not wordy and to the point, which I think helps kids stay focused for longer and get a better understanding on the story in the process.

As a family, we all love being outdoors and planting lots of different veggies, herbs, and fruits. We also started on a nature-based preschool homeschool curriculum last year with our three year old. Needless to say, I can't wait to include a print copy of Green Bean! Green Bean! into our gardening lesson!

Wild Ones: Observing City Critters

Wild Ones is a fun tale of a curious dog discovering interesting critters throughout his city neighborhood. Children (and you!) may be surprised by the diversity of wildlife to be found in urban areas, from opossums to hawks, beavers to foxes.

There were two things that interested me in this book right away: the premise of the story and Cathy Morrison's artwork. (I know, I know. I just can't say enough good things about her illustrations. They're so colorful and lifelike. I'm glad she illustrates many of Dawn Pubs' books!) I love the premise of this book because oftentimes the natural aspects of cities get overlooked, leading both kids and adults to believe they can't connect with nature if they live in a city, which is not true! Wild Ones will serve as a great starting point to teach children who live in urban areas that they can indeed observe wildlife close to home, even in the city!

            All of the above titles are now available for purchase on Dawn Publications' website. Happy reading and get out there and enjoy nature with the children in your life today! :)

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

This Week in Photos-1/27

            Hey folks! It's been an exciting week around here. We had a baby! So I'm dubbing this week's post as "Baby Fever".

First full day at home with big sister. My mom kept Myka for about a week, so that was nice!

Wordless Wednesday Hop

Monday, January 25, 2016

Ripley's Birth Story

             Hey folks! As some of you may have heard, Baby Starfish finally arrived! Ripley Mae was born via unmedicated VBAC Friday, January 15, 2016 at 10:35pm. (The day after my birthday!) She weighed in at 8lbs 15oz and was 19 ¼ in. long. I love a good birth story plus, I'm hoping to inspire/encourage some moms out there who may be thinking about or planning a VBAC so, without further ado, I give you Ripley's birth story!

             Being the antsy (in this case, read: worry-wort) person that I am and wanting desperately to avoid a repeat c-section, I had been doing some things at home to hopefully help get my body ready for birth after my 36 week appointment. (That was the only time I got checked and was barely 1cm and 50% effaced.) I got an exercise ball and did that a fair amount, continued my prenatal yoga, started drinking more red raspberry leaf tea, did “naughty things” a few times, yard work and walks, when able, and I'm sure there are more things I'm forgetting. Pretty much everything but eating certain foods. (Although I did start eating my beloved curry rice again. Yum!)
             Naturally, since my body hates me, it was like the more/longer I continued doing some of those “natural labor inducing remedies”, the more it felt like it wasn't working. In other words, even the fake, Braxton Hicks contractions stopped. The Monday and Tuesday before I had Ripley, Myka and I stayed with my parents because 1) My mom was driving me nuts about worrying I would go into labor while my husband was at work (It's about an hour to his work and we live in the boonies. Lol) and 2) I was getting really bored being at home more often than I'm used to. Since nothing seemed to be working, I decided to resign myself to relaxing because I have also heard the more relaxed you are, the more likely you are to go into labor.
             So, I was lazy and sat around the whole time we were there. My due date came and went on that Tuesday, January 12th. No surprise there. We headed home Wednesday and I noticed I was feeling a lot crampier “down there” than usual on the way home. I'd been having minor cramps on and off for about a month. I assumed it was just my cervix doing it's thing to get ready. I couldn't help but get my hopes up a little that day since it was noticeably more...uncomfortable?
             I woke up Thursday, January 14th, which happened to be my birthday, and was disappointed that the cramping had gone away. I was a hot mess that day, especially after going to my doctor's appointment. My fluid level was borderline high at the growth scan the week before, so the doctor scheduled another “fluid check” and non-stress test for the following Tuesday. I was a hot mess when I got home. I was so tired of being pregnant, worrying about Ripley coming on her own, and really, REALLY tired of doctors and what I felt unnecessary interventions/tests/screenings.
             I slept like crap that night, even worse than usual, if that's even possible. I think I only got a few hours of sleep between just not being able to get comfortable at all and probably worrying too damn much. When I did wake up Friday, I noticed the cramping was back and considerably more bothersome than it had been even a couple of days ago. Woo hoo! Never thought I would be so happy about period-like cramps! Lol
             I had a few things I wanted to get down around the house, so Myka “helped” me clean the toilets, put dishes away, and a few other little things, I think. I decided to take a bath around 2 and try to relax, especially since a certain 3 year old was too engrossed in her movie to want to get in with me. Lol I was kind of glad she ended up changing her mind and got in anyways after a bit because I could not get comfortable with the cramps. It felt like I was actually starting to have contractions, so I downloaded a contraction app on my phone. They were only coming about every 30 minutes, so I wasn't too concerned.

             After we both got done in the bath/shower, I made Myka lay down around 3:30 to take a nap. I put a movie in, sat down, and literally 10 minutes later started having stronger, regular contractions. Much to my surprise, I had 3 within a little less than 30 minutes, but I continued timing them for a whole hour. Again much to my surprise, they were already about 6-8 minutes apart. Since the doctor said to call if they were between 5 and 10 minutes apart, I called my husband, who had just gotten off work, and told him to skip stopping at the grocery store on the way home just to be safe. I also let my mom know that she would probably have to meet us at the hospital to get Myka that night instead of meeting Saturday like we had planned! Lol
             I tried to finish gathering up all of the last minute things we would need for the hospital while I waited for John to get home. Not gonna lie: I was freaking out a little bit because I hadn't expected everything to happen so fast! Luckily, he got home a little faster than usual, we had to wake poor Myka up, who was sick and hadn't had a good nap because of all the coughing, and left for the hospital around 6:20pm. I had been reading WAY too much on the Babycenter Community and this whole time I was still worried that I was over-reacting and wasn't in real labor...until right before we left I used the bathroom and saw that I was losing my mucous plug. I told John, “I guess I'm not crazy after all.” lol
             Our hospital is also over an hour away, so I was kind of surprised we got there faster than usual considering it was misty and people were driving like they had never driven when it's wet out before. You know. My mom got there a few minutes before us, so we sent Myka on her merry way and got inside around 7:20pm. On the way, my contractions had gotten to be closer to 5 minutes apart. By the time they finally checked me in triage I was dilated to 4/5cm.
             Probably about an hour later when they checked me in my room I was at a 6. Probably another hour, give or take, later I was at 8. At some point during this nonsense I agreed to have my water broken because the doctor “didn't want my labor to stall”. HA! I knew that wasn't going to happen, but I had heard some people say the pain of contractions isn't as bad afterwards. Also false...At least for me.
             Anyhow, the last time they checked me they said I was at 9/10...and my body promptly started pushing as soon as she was done checking me! It kind of freaked me out, actually, because, well, I wasn't expecting it and wasn't really sure what to expect since I had an epidural with Myka while pushing and didn't really feel the urge to push with her, even though I did so for over 3 hours. Oh yah. Did I mention I had absolutely no pain medicine? Yes, I actually planned on skipping it because I'm crazy. Do I recommend skipping the epidural or spinal block? Ask me again later...
             All in all, I think I pushed for roughly half an hour. It didn't even feel that long because everything happened so fast. In fact, silly me, was all prepared this time around and had burned some music onto cd's, brought the exercise ball, a back massager, and had not one but TWO birth plans made out: a short version and long one. All that stayed in the car and never made it's way inside the hospital until after the fact. Anyways, back to the gritty stuff...
             Like I said, my body was literally doing the whole pushing thing on its own. I had nothing to do with it. I told John when he said something later about not having the epidural so my body could feel the cues to push that, “I didn't have the cue to push. My body was doing it whether I wanted to or not. I felt like I was possessed.” lol I probably sounded possessed too...or at least like a wild animal. I sure felt like it. Lol
             I finally got to a point between contractions to where I tried sitting up to see if that would help with the pain, even though I was already pushing. When I had my next contraction I promptly shook my head and laid back down because there was a lot of pressure down there. After a few more pushes I could feel her head working its way down. For whatever reason, they couldn't find my on-call doctor even though I had already seen him, so they had to page another one from a different practice who was also there to come in. Her head was already partially, if not all the way, out by the time he got in the room. They told me to stop pushing for a second at one point. Ha! Again, I told John I totally understood the women now who said they couldn't stop pushing. You really can't. It's out of your control.
             Anyways, after 2 or 3 more pushes she was out! The whole thing was totally crazy! She did swallow a little bit of meconium, but other than that the whole experience was pretty much everything I had hoped for...and having a healthy baby too, of course. :) They didn't have to spend too much time getting the yucky stuff out of her stomach and lungs, and they promptly gave her to me when they were done. Oh. She came out so fast too that I ended up with a partial 3rd degree tear, but it honestly hasn't bothered me that much, especially from what I have heard from other people who have had tears. 

 Ripley left, Myka right

             I am still in awe/shock of how quickly it all went. I was afraid I wouldn't know when I was in labor for sure and that it would be super slow since I didn't have pitocin this time. Boy was I wrong! I only labored for 7 hours altogether! (It's probably a good thing too, otherwise I might have changed my mind about the drugs. ;) Not going to lie: I asked my husband a few times at the hospital why I thought it was a good idea to go without. Lol)
             I also can't get over how much of a better experience it was than Myka's birth, mostly due to hospital policy and staff. I had to constantly ask for her to be in my room. They actually encouraged people to keep their baby's in their rooms as much as possible where I had Ripley, which I did except one night where I only had the nurse bring her in for nursing. (I didn't sleep at all the night after I had her or any during the day. I really needed the rest.) I wasn't allowed to walk around the halls at all with Myka or put our clothes on her. I got to do both with Ripley.
             The staff at the hospital here were WONDERFUL about encouraging breastfeeding. Besides having an actual breastfeeding consultant, the nurses helped as much as possible too. They didn't even have a consultant in Arkansas and the lady who did try to “help” basically said, “just keep trying this or this” and that was it, basically shrugging her shoulders and walking away. The lady here spent a good half an hour with us, I believe. She even gave me some goodies to help Ripley latch on because my nipples are kind of uncooperative, surprise, surprise.
             Even though I have the tear, I didn't opt for any narcotics afterwards because I really didn't feel like I needed them. So, by the next day I didn't even have to have the line in for an IV any more, which I was happy about. I loved being able to get up and about sooner and not being hooked up to a bunch of stuff. I think the nurses thought I was crazy, though, because I didn't even want the naproxen half the time they offered it. I kept telling them as long as I didn't sit too long the tear didn't bother me. Lol We were watching a bunch of X-Men movies the other day and I told John that maybe I am part Wolverine and just heal really fast. Lol

             As long as this is, I feel like I'm forgetting some things I wanted to mention because I am already sleep deprived. Lol I am just so glad I got to experience at least one natural birth because I have always wanted to and this may or may not be our last baby after all. ;) I was actually kind of gloating afterward. I even looked at my husband a few times and said, “I did it!” (Please don't feel like I'm belittling you or something either if you have had a c-section or have never had a vaginal birth. Like I said, I had a c-section with my first daughter. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do!)
             Oh. Speaking of gloating...The doctor who happened to be on call the weekend I had Ripley? The same one who felt the need to mention it to me two appointments in a row that I had the least likely chance of success for a VBAC according to my “previous birth scenario”. :P Stick that in your pipe and smoke it!

             If you've stuck around this long, thanks so much for reading till the end. I'd love to hear your birth stories as well in the comments or even an email! Stay tuned for a new baby update “segment” coming soon called “Life With a Newborn” where I'll be brutally honest about how things are going physically, mentally, and emotionally for me with a new baby AND an active 3 year old!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Feeling Good During Pregnancy

             Hey folks! Unless you're one of those freaks of nature who comes by good genes or athleticism naturally (I think I mean that lovingly ;) ), I think most of us who have been or are pregnant can agree that pregnancy makes you feel rough, especially in the 3rd trimester. For some, it can also be a rather stressful time for one reason or another. With that being said, I'd like to share with you a few of my new favorite things to help reduce stress and relieve sore muscles during pregnancy!
             First, I feel like it should be noted that I am definitely NOT one of those lucky enough to be born with a fast metabolism or interest in working out. I usually prefer doing work outdoors and going for hikes, but that hasn't exactly been an option lately with the weather. Also, I'm built like a hobbit: short and pudgy. So, if you're thinking something along the lines of, “But I was out of shape to begin with. How can I possibly start working out now that I'm pregnant?” take this cliche from one hobbit to another: If I can do it, you can do it! These are all low-impact things you can do. (Plus only one of them is actually “exercise”, if you ask me!)
  1. Yoga
    Of the prenatal variety, of course. I've already posted once about starting a prenatal yoga routine, so I'll keep this short, but this has been a real life-saver. I was in desperate need of a natural stress reliever, and this fit the bill. It has also helped with sore muscles immensely, especially my back and neck/shoulders! Any time I feel tense/sore, I do one of the routines from the DVD below, which I highly recommend. (I've tried a few others and this is my favorite by far because it's very laid back/slow and low impact, perfect for someone who has never done yoga before!)
         Yoga for Your Pregnancy

  1. Prenatal Aerobics
    To be honest, I'm sure there are other great prenatal workouts out there, but I've only tried Denise Austin's Fit & Firm Pregnancy. I actually got this and a yoga DVD from a Facebook yard sale group for $5. (woo hoo!) I mostly just wanted the yoga DVD and ended up hating it and loving this one, go figure! I've not done the toning workout yet (which are conveniently broken down into trimesters), but the cardio one was fun! She keeps you moving constantly, but I was surprised to find I wasn't out of breath. Again, even if you're not used to exercising, give this one a try, at least! 

  1. Exercise Ball
    Ok, so I actually got one of these when I was 36 weeks pregnant in hopes of thinning my cervix out more and to use during labor. However, there are exercises you can do with it throughout pregnancy. After a quick search, I found these two links below that I think you will find helpful as you can pick and choose what's right for you.
    Exercise balls are good for stretching your upper body/back, strengthening your legs, and helping with your posture and balance during pregnancy. I've also read that doing pelvic circles, tilts, and bouncing gently can help thin the cervix and get baby's head into the right position for birth, so that's what I've been doing. :D
         Pregnancy Exercise Ball Workouts (Google image search)

         Pregnancy Charts (Pinterest board with more exercise ball workouts for pregnancy. Includes some other interesting pregnancy info too!)

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional or certified yoga or exercise instructor. As such, any information or advice herein should not be taken as professional medical advice. Always consult your physician before starting a new exercise program, especially during pregnancy. Mixed Bag Mama is not liable for any injury or harm that may come from the use of the above information. Listen to your body and discontinue any type of activity if it causes you discomfort or pain.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Baby Update/Pregnancy Rant

             So...some of you may have noticed I haven't really done many baby updates. Some of you may not even know I'm pregnant! It's not that I haven't enjoyed this pregnancy (well, “enjoyed” may not be the right word), but for awhile there I either A) didn't have anything exciting to report or B) I did have something to report, but was too pissed off and irritated about it to talk about. Now that I'm 38 weeks pregnant and (hopefully) ready to pop any day now, I think I've cooled off enough to talk about it.
             The main reason I haven't been doing any baby updates is because, according to their glucola tests, I was labeled as having gestational diabetes. I was already worried enough about preparing for a VBAC. Like I needed anything else to stress me out. Every time I even thought about anything related to supposedly having gestational diabetes I could feel my blood pressure rising, so, I decided not to write about it until I could do so without being too snarky. ;)
             You're probably wondering why I say “supposedly have GD”, right? Short answer: I don't trust doctors much to begin with and I think their test sucks and there isn't really a problem. I can't help but think, “Of course my blood sugar is high. You just gave me some fake, chemical sugar and made me sit around for an hour on top of already sitting in the car for over an hour on the way to the doctor's!” Just saying. Plus my original one hour test number was not that much higher than “what is normal”.
             I won't get into all of the shenanigans that ensued, but fast forward a month, give or take, and we (John and I) notice that it's not so much what I eat that affects my blood sugar readings as it is whether I have been doing anything on my feet. Literally anything. Just washing dishes and, say, cleaning the toilets, seemed to help keep my numbers in the “doctor acceptable” range. (For the record, whenever my readings were high, it was usually less than 10 points over and from eating or drinking things that I knew would probably make it high anyways.)
             Things are better now, for the most part. I've been a good enough girl that I got my doctors to let me go down to two readings a day, which was my goal once I found out I was going to have to check my blood sugar daily and realized I wasn't going to be able to convince them to let me not do it period. (One can dream, right?) I had the group strep B test a couple of weeks ago and tested positive, so, while it's not a big deal, I'm having to come to terms with the fact that I will definitely have to be hooked up to an IV constantly while in labor, which I was also hoping to avoid. :/
             Bottom line, though, baby's heartbeat has been great and she's been measuring exactly where she should be according to the unnecessary (imo) ultrasounds (due to the GD) and that's all that really matters. Fluid levels are fine too despite my belly measuring way bigger than it should be for awhile now. I have two theories on that, but I'll keep those to myself. ;)
             As far as the whole gestational diabetes/wanting to have a VBAC combination, the doctors are “letting me” wait to go into labor on my own for longer now since my glucose readings have been good. Yay! Since they can't/don't induce VBAC patients, the previous c-section is also actually working in my favor because otherwise they would want to induce me earlier because of the GD. It is literally the first time I have ever been glad I had a c-section with Myka! 

 38 Weeks! I think I look pretty damn good considering. ;)
             So, for purely selfish reasons of wanting to avoid another c-section as much as possible, I'm really hoping this baby decides to come out on her own sometime soon. I really have no problem waiting for her, but I can't help but think of that ticking clock in the back of my mind. (I hate being rushed for anything. :P) I am 38 weeks as of 12/29, so she shouldn't have any problems if she decides to come now. I've been somewhat keeping up with my prenatal yoga (mostly because it makes me less sore!) and using my exercise ball diligently to hopefully finish effacing my cervix to get this party started! I've started drinking my raspberry leaf tea again too in hopes that will help with that also. Baby Starfish's head has been pretty low for a few weeks now (can you see her head bulging in the pictures?), so I'd like to take that as a good sign.
             Well, I think that about wraps it up. Sorry this turned out so long. In case you couldn't tell, I've had a lot of things on my mind. ;) Have any of you had less than perfect pregnancies or tried for a VBAC? I'd love to hear your stories!

Update: Good news and bad news: Good news is, I talked to my doctor about the IV and needing antibiotics and he said they will actually use a heparin lock and only hook me up when needed. Yay! Bad news is, I thought they forgot or changed their mind about me having another growth scan at 38 weeks since they didn't schedule me for one at my 38 week appointment last week. As it turns out, the ultrasound tech was just on vacation so I have to have one tomorrow. :/ I was really hoping this stubborn kid would get out before then!