Thursday, February 28, 2013

Communication Through Babywearing

Right now we're up north visiting my family. One of the things that I really like to do, when we get a chance, is to go to Savers with my mom to hunt for some deals. 

Just had to share my awesome find! A pair of Tiny Toms for little Michael for $6!

My mom, my sister-in-law and I (with little Riley in tow, wrapped up in a carrier) were looking around and I saw a family (mom, dad, older daughter and little toddler) and we smiled at each other as I noticed them looking at Riley. The family was Hispanic and since I don't speak any Spanish, all we could really do was smile at each other. The mom was pointing at Riley (who was in a wrap), then would look at her son and say "baby", then point back at Riley. We just kept smiling at each other, when she unfolded what looked like a long, thin blanket. picked up her son, put him on her back and wrapped the fabric around him. She had wrapped him up in a Rebozo! I was smiling so much! I couldn't believe it! Even though we couldn't understand a word that the other one said, other than, "baby", we could still communicate and share a moment, all because of babywearing!

Little Riley in his wrap at Savers.
This wasn't the woman at Savers...just a picture from internet. Credit HERE. I just wanted to show the style in which her toddler was wrapped.

I love babywearing!


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: 3 Months Old

Riley's Birth Story

Today Riley is 3 months old. Three wonderful months have flown by and I have loved staring into his little blue eyes, holding his tiny, precious hands, smelling his sweet little head, nursing him for both nourishment and comfort and I smile every time I watch Michael kiss his brother, talk to him or try to teach him how to do something. It is just lovely.

Riley James Hull was born November 27th at 11:47pm. It was a surprisingly fast birth and I am so thankful for this amazing experience. Here is Riley's birth story:

Before I was even pregnant with Riley, I knew I wanted a natural, non-hospital birth. We even went to the birthing center before I was pregnant to meet the midwives and talk with them about what births were like there. I knew right away that this was where I wanted to have my baby. I felt like I was at home with these women - I felt like I was a part of their family. 

This was taken the day before I had Riley!

My "due date" for Riley was November 25th. That day came and went and...nothing. I wasn't having any contractions, other than some mild Braxton Hicks and overall, I was still feeling really good. I went in to my midwifes office on the morning of November 27th. My midwife asked me if I was having any contractions. I told her that I wasn't really having anything consistent and that my contractions were coming every 15-30 min and that they were hardly noticeable. I wasn't even sure if they were anything more than Braxton Hicks. She talked with us about some natural ways to bring on labor and then she wanted to check me to see how far dilated I was. Suddenly, she had a surprised look on her face and said, "You're 6, maybe even 7 cm dilated! You don't need to do any of those things I just mentioned to bring on labor!" I was in shock! How could I already be more than half-way dilated?! I started feeling giddy and excited! My midwife was certain that we would be having our baby that day or the next. 

Since we lived about an hour away from the midwives office, the midwives were concerned about us driving back home. They had a quick "midwife huddle" and decided that it would be best if we stayed in the area for the night and into the next day. (Thankfully I have an aunt that lived 15 min away!) They also wanted me to start wearing a constricting band around my stomach, since they could tell that there was so much room for our little baby to move up out of the pelvic area. They wanted to make sure that he was head down and engaged in the pelvic area. We dashed home to grab some overnight things, we kissed Michael (who had his Gramma to watch him! Yay!) and told him that he would be meeting his baby brother soon! 

We got to my aunt's house and I was just too excited to relax! I decided to put on my belly band once we got there to get baby ready! We were so blessed to be able to spend time with my aunt and so thankful for her opening up her home to us. We were enjoying dinner with her, when I started to notice that my contractions were picking up and seemed to be getting stronger. I kept timing them and during dinner they went from 30 minutes apart, to 15 minutes, to 9 to 7 to 5 and then they fluctuated between 5-3 minutes apart and they were getting strong! I kept staring at my phone while hubby and my aunt were talking - 5 minutes? 3 minutes? Is this for real? 

I quietly mentioned to my hubby that my contractions were starting to get really strong and that they were only 3-5 minutes apart. I was starting to feel uncomfortable and I couldn't really sit anymore. Walking was best and when contractions came, I would lean over the counter and rock back and forth. I asked hubby if he thought we should call my doula and midwife or not, because you know, I didn't want to bother them if it was a false alarm! Haha! Hubby assured me that this was not a false alarm! He said that since I was almost 7cm dilated at our morning appointment and not feeling any contractions, that by now, he was sure that it was time to start making phone calls! He was so sweet to call the doula and the midwife for me and let them know that this was happening!

We got to the midwifes office about 8:45pm and my contractions were coming pretty quickly, but I could still talk through them as I rocked back and forth. The midwife and her 2 assistants and hubby and I were chatting and laughing and getting things ready. Pretty quickly I started feeling like things were getting more serious and I asked if I could sit on the birthing ball. I sat in front of the bed and leaned toward hubby and rocked back and forth, while hubby rubbed my back. By this point, I was definitely concentrating on my breathing! Hubby put on some music through the iPod dock and we were rocking, breathing, swaying and focused. All of a sudden, I knew I had to throw up. I thought, "This is it! This is the transition!" I told hubby, "I have to throw up" and then, I turned to the toilet in the room and did just that. Lovely, I know, but I felt so much better afterwards. Our doula was perfect - she just kept bringing me coconut water and getting whatever we needed. It was so reassuring to know that we had a steady, constant person there to help us in whatever way we needed her. 

I had gone back to the birthing ball and was swaying back and forth on it, when all of a sudden, it felt like my whole body was on alert and every nerve and fiber of my being told my brain, "It's time to push!" I was so amazed! I know people have said that you just know when it is time to push, but I wasn't really sure how that would play out. It was such a strong force! I just knew! This is it - this baby is coming! I told hubby, "I feel like pushing...NOW!" He and my midwife helped get me onto the bed. My midwife reassured me that everything was going perfectly and whenever I felt like pushing, I could go ahead and push. She also asked if I wanted to get in the tub, since I had talked to her before about having a water birth. I told her, if we have time for that, I would love to try it! Her assistants quickly started filling the tub. I tried pushing a few times as I felt my body contracting. I kept asking my midwife if I was doing everything ok. She reassured me that I was doing great and however I felt like pushing, was just fine.

Soon the tub was full and the midwife and one of the assistants helped me over. Just as I got off the bed, my water broke! I exclaimed,"I'm so sorry!" They laughed and said that I had nothing to be sorry about! I can't help myself- I don't like feeling like I've made more work for someone or inconvenienced them. The tub was nice. It felt awkward to find just the right spot though. I just wasn't sure where the best position would be. I finally settled into a semi-squatting position and was facing the corner where hubby was sitting. He was sitting on the back edge of the tub with his feet in the water. I would hold onto his legs for support as I was pushing and he kept rubbing my back. At first I felt like I should sit a certain way and that how I was sitting wasn't "the right way". I had a hard time getting away from how I thought things were "supposed to be". I finally realized that my body was doing just what it needed to do and if that was squatting in the tub, facing my husband, then that was what I needed. I knew he could support me and be strong for me, I knew that no matter what happened, he would love me. I think that he was definitely a constant source of strength and love for me, so facing him was the natural response from my body. 

Feeling everything was so different than my first birth with little Michael! I had an epidural and didn't feel a thing. I just pushed when the nurses told me to push. So, in some ways, although I had already had a baby, it was almost like having my first baby. It seemed like even though I had watched a bazillion videos of natural births and read so many of the stories from Ina May Gaskin, it was still such a new and unique experience to me. At the same time I was in awe, I also felt a sense of shock at how I could really feel little Riley moving into the birth canal. It was unbelievable and painful - definitely more intense and painful than I was expecting. It seemed like I could feel him move forward as I was pushing and then feel him move right back when the contraction was over. I almost felt like it was: one step forward, two steps back. Was this baby ever coming out!? 
At this point, I was just in communion/conversation with God. I'm not saying I was having a long, drawn out conversation, it was more that I was calling out and expressing feelings. This was painful and hard. It hurt. It hurt more than I thought it would. Everything had started happening so fast that I felt like I couldn't catch my breath or have a chance to rest. I prayed for rest and I prayed for strength. I prayed that Riley would be born quickly! I am so thankful that I felt that God could understand my feelings and pain and it was like we were having a conversation, even though there were no words uttered. 

One thing I was worried about before I went into labor was making sound. I had seen so many videos of women moaning through contractions. I had felt really self conscious about doing that. So, I really appreciated that during our Bradley Method class, that our teacher encouraged us to watch so many birth videos, so that I could become more comfortable with making sounds during labor. It really helped me and when it came time to push, I didn't think twice about making any sounds. I definitely think that it helped put some extra "oomph" in force into my pushes.

It seemed like over an hour had gone by when my midwife finally told me that Riley's head was right there. She said that if I wanted to, I could reach down and touch his head. I never thought I would do that (heck, if you had asked me if I would have had a water birth 3 years ago I would have thought you were crazy!), but I reached down and I felt his soft, sweet little head! Oh my gosh! It gave me that extra boost I needed! I felt excitement and determination well up inside me and I knew I could do it! About the same time, I also felt Riley kicking! Oh my gosh, I couldn't believe it! I looked down at my belly and said, "Riley, stop kicking mama! I'm doing my best!" Haha! I pushed and pushed as hard as I could and he was out! My midwife guided him toward me and I was able to pull Riley up and out of the water and hold him! Oh wow! I was exhausted, but the pain and all that hard work just faded away. I just had tunnel vision for my new little boy. Hubby got into the tub with me (with his clothes on!) and we held Riley together. He was so calm! He didn't even cry for a few minutes. My sweet little Riley was born at 11:47pm on November 27th after 45 minutes of pushing.

A few minutes went by, when I heard something that pulled me back to reality. I heard our midwife tell my hubby that they needed to move me out of the tub to the bed. I knew that they had told us that they would only ask that if there was something they were concerned about. The midwife and her assistants helped me to the bed and got me, little Riley and hubby all settled, warmed and dry. 

My midwife let us know that we could relax and that I should try to nurse Riley when he seemed interested. She also mentioned that there was more bleeding than they liked to see. They checked to see if I had torn, but I only had a slight tear...or more of a "rug-burn" as my midwife called it. Riley had his hand up by his that just added a bit extra that had to fit on the way out. (Riley actually still loves to put his hand up by his head) It seemed that I had started to hemorrhage (possibly because my placenta came out almost immediately after Riley was born,?). The midwife and her assistants did an amazing job of being calm and letting us just be and enjoy Riley. After a bit, they gave me a shot of pitocin and a little bit later, they decided to start me on a saline drip to get some fluids back in. I was worried that I would have to be transferred to the hospital! That was the last thing I wanted! I was so thankful for the midwifes sense of calm. It helped me to relax and know that they had everything under control. Eventually, the bleeding did stop, but by then I was so lightheaded that I ended up needing more IV's of saline. My doula kept bringing coconut water and protein and fruit snacks - it was so nice to be taken care of!

Riley nursed and I couldn't have been happier! We even took a nap together and got time to ourselves to just enjoy our newest little boy! Finally, about an hour and a half after Riley was born, hubby got to cut the umbilical cord. I am so, so, so glad that we got to wait until the cord was done pulsing and all the blood transferred to Riley! Hubby went with little Riley and the midwife as he got measured and weighed. He was 8lbs 15 oz. and he was 21" long! I was in shock! I had an almost 9lb baby! Woah!

We got to rest and recover until we were ready. About 4:00am, I was able to get up and walk around. I was feeling so much better and we were ready to go home. We were packed up into our car, gave hugs to the midwife and assistants and we headed home. We were home and in our own bed by 5:30 in the morning. It was amazing! I loved going home to my own bed! It was so restful and in the morning, we got to have little Michael come in to meet his new baby brother! It was so special and wonderful! I stayed in bed for 2 days and after that, I started getting up and about and recovery actually went along pretty quickly!

Riley's birth was amazing. It was so much more intense (and painful) than I thought it was going to be. I went from not feeling anything to being in transition and feeling every single moment that Riley moved down the birth canal and made his way out into the world. It was hard work. I am so thankful for the experience and hubby and I already know that we would do it again this way. We loved the midwifes and the care that they gave us. We loved giving birth to Riley in a tub at the birthing center. It was an amazing way to connect with my little boy. It feels empowering and it was beautiful. We have truly been blessed with a happy, healthy little boy!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Why Ivy Bridge College of Tiffin University is a Great Choice for Moms Going Back to School (+Giveaway!)

The opportunity for parents to pursue a degree online can help to advance careers, increase income, secure your future in your chosen career and set a positive example for your children. I definitely witnessed this as I grew up. When I was in grade school, my dad went back to college. He had a job and a family and choosing to pursue a degree online was a lot of work. I remember sitting in our living room watching his papers print out and stretch out across the floor and piling up at the other end of the room (way back then, our printer printed paper that was connected and you had to tear the perforated sheets apart!). My dad was only able to get his business degree because of a long distance program. Growing up, I saw how much that degree helped my dad. He was able to really advance in his career and the financial benefits were such a blessing to our family. Even though I was little, I really got a sense for how important furthering your education is. A college degree can open so many doors for your career.

I feel extremely blessed to be able to stay home with my two little boys. Since becoming a parent, I have given thought to going back to school one day. (What would happen if I needed to go back to work? Or, when our boys are in school, would I go back to work?) Although I do have a college degree in Advertising, I haven’t worked in so long that if I wanted to pursue a career, I would need to do something to refresh my education and get back up to speed in the advertising world.

What’s a mom to do? Going to a physical college campus takes time, effort and a lot of money. Those are things that many moms don’t have any extra of. Ivy Bridge College (IBC) is committed to Moms - 50% of their students are moms! They understand that moms need flexibility and convenience when it comes to their education, while also being able to continue to work or stay at home to raise their children. “IBC is designed for students to earn their associate’s degree and then seamlessly transfer to over 150 “name brand” partner schools…” Pursuing an associates degree online through Ivy Bridge College is a great option for moms who either want to work on getting a degree or continuing in their education to advancing their career.  One of the many advantages of IBC is that “An advanced education at Ivy Bridge is about 1/3 of what it costs to attend other private universities, giving Moms the ability to graduate from a recognized four-year school while saving money.”  Another huge bonus for moms wanting to continue their education is that IBC offers “unparalleled services to support student success, including personalized mentoring through weekly meetings with Success Coaches, individualized free tutoring, regular academic advising and career counseling, and exclusively for Moms, a private online community.” At IBC, students have the ability to earn a college degree in as little as 17 months. For moms, the online program that Ivy Bridge College offers is a wonderful way to  let moms pursue the education they need to advance their career, all while still having the freedom to work or take care of your kids! Growing up, I saw firsthand how continuing your education and getting the college degree that you need can really advance your career and secure your future and finances. Going to college isn’t always the easy choice, but it is so worth it and at IBC they do all they can to help moms succeed. 

You can check out the Ivy Bridge College website or call their toll free number (855-300-7106) to learn more!

Ivy Bridge College would like to offer two of my readers a $1,000 tuition discount each on classes at Ivy Bridge College! *Note: Although my post emphasized how an online education could benefit moms, winners are not required to be mothers or female.*

Eligibility Statement: To be eligible for the $1,000 discount off tuition at Ivy Bridge College (IBC), the qualifying individuals will need to be degree seeking, enrolled in IBC a minimum of part-time, and new to IBC (specifically, not someone who has already applied to, enrolled in, or requested information from IBC before February 11, 2013). Limit one per person. Offer expires September 1, 2013.”

***Entrants must be 18+ years old. Open US residents who meet the above mentioned criteria. One entry per household. The winner has 24 hours to respond before another winner is chosen.***
Giveaway will end Monday, February 26 at 12:01am EST.

Entries go in the Rafflecopter form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

“I participated in a campaign on behalf of Ivy Bridge College. I received a promotional item as a thank-you for participating and a discount on classes at Ivy Bridge College.”

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Books We Love

We love, love, love reading books as a family. We have "daytime" books and "night time" books ...and little Michael doesn't like those two genres to mix! I was looking through our "night time" books the other day and since Valentines Day had just passed, I really noticed how many books we had that talked about love! We have more books than you could shake a stick at and I think it is wonderful that little Michael and Riley have such an extensive "library" to choose from as they grow up. I really like having a good variety of books that talk about feelings and emotions. I think it is good for little Michael to read about different ways to express and talk about his feelings and also to hear us talk about all the ways that we love him. While we have lots and lots of books that top our lists of "must-reads", I thought I would narrow it down and share some of my absolute favorites.

Here are our 6 favorite books about love: 

1. I Love You Stinky Face by Lisa Mccourt
I got this book at my baby shower when I was pregnant with little Michael. We started reading it as part of his bedtime routine when he was 4 months old or so and read it every single night for over a year. It was actually kind of sad when he asked to read a new book! I read it so many times that I still have it memorized! I just love that it reassures little hearts that mommy (and daddy) love him no matter what, no matter how he acts or what he does - our love will always be bigger.

2.  I Love You, Little One by Nancy Tafuri
This is such a sweet book! The book has different little animals asking their mama if she loves them and the different animal mamas reassure their little ones that they will keep them safe and that they will love them "forever and ever and always." One of the sweetest things is that hubby replaces "mama" with "daddy" every time he reads it. It just melts my heart when little Michael will help to finish the "forever and ever and always" sentence! 

3. Guess How Much I Love Love You by Sam McBratney
I really like that this is a book about a daddy and his little one (somehow I feel like there are more books about mommy's and their little ones). When I was pregnant with Riley, I could barely make it through this book without getting all choked up! I'm sure little Michael had no idea why I could barely choke out the last line, “I love you to the moon and back.” It is such a beautiful story about how much bigger a parents love is for their little one! 

4. I Love You, Every Little Bit by John Butler
Little Michael loves saying "Every little bit" very emphatically! It's so cute to hear him say that! It is such a sweet little story about all the different features that parents love about their little ones! What parent doesn't love their little ones bellies and toes and their nose!

5. How Do I Love You? by Marion Dane Bauer
Oh gosh! How can you not get all mushy over this book! Little Michael really likes listening to this book and I think he is really listening to all the different ways that he is loved. The last line is so perfect too - "...I love all that you will be, and everything you are." *Sigh* It's so true!

 6. I Love You Through and Through by Bernadette Rossetti Shustak
Little Michael loves saying the title of this book too! I really, really like that it doesn't just emphasize the physical things that we love about our little man (toes, nose, fingers and hair!) but also we love his emotions (whether he is happy, sad or mad). These books are such a perfect way to end our day with little Michael - reassuring him of our love for him and helping to describe all the different ways that he makes our heart happy and so full of warm fuzzies! Oh Michael and Riley, how we love you!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Free OS Diaper + Double Reward Points from Diaper Junction for Valentines Day!

Roses are Red
Violets are Blue
Diaper Junction has a great deal for You!

Diaper Junction has a pretty awesome deal in honor of Valentines Day today. Think of it as their little Valentine to you! When you spend $49 or more at Diaper Junction, you will earn double reward points and get a free one size pocket diaper! On top of that, when you spend $49 or more, you qualify for free shipping! 

Happy Fluffy Valentines Day and have fun shopping!

*Note: This post contains affiliate links. I try my best to only recommend products and sites that I think my readers will enjoy.*

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Tea Collection Sale

 I'm so excited to share with you that from now through 2/14, Tea Collection is offering 15% off sitewide with promo code GOTHERE15. Shop the hottest spring looks inspired by Tea Collection's travels to South Africa or take an additional 15% off already reduced sale items. 

 I love their new collection that has been inspired by South Africa! Some of my favorites are the Elephant Sunrise Tee and the Giraffe Romper!

Hurry, don't miss your chance to shop this great sale from Tea! Happy Shopping!