Friday, May 24, 2013

a new normal

i have only a minute to write as a tylenol pm is calling my name. this is my second night home, out of too many to count, and i am anxious. because it is hard to be away from rowan at all but especially today since she has had a shift in her mood and is suddenly sad and confused more then not. her mood has been such a double edged sword - when she was all smiles and never stopped laughing, i was worried that she had something going on as part of the injury to her brain and now that she has stopped that i am constantly searching for what is making her sad in the moment, grasping at the times she wants to share her giggles.

at her team meeting this thursday (a weekly occurrence) we got the date june sixth as discharge, could be longer, could be shorter. she continues to progress but everyday is a reminder that we still have a long road ahead, one filled with long outpatient therapy days and taking care of three babies at home. i say baby not in a bad way, but it really is honestly, like it is the good old rowan stuck in a six month olds body, finger sucking and all.

i counted the days on the calendar the other day, seventeen weeks till kindergarten. it is a blessing that we have so much time to prepare but it is also something constantly on my mind. my nerves were settled when i talked to the in house teacher and rowans psychologist about how no matter what rowan would go to her normal school and be in her normal class, it is just totally up in the air, in God's hands, what kind of support she will need going forward.

each day is a new day as we settle into a new normal. this weekend my aunt is taking over for me at the hospital so that tim and i can work on getting the house ready for rowan to come home. that includes installing some gates, taking apart her bed to put just her mattress on the floor, etc etc. my life with a special needs kid begins now - it isn't anything like i expected, in fact i surprised myself how seamlessly i slipped into this new role, she won't be special needs for ever but it is in fact the path we are currently walking.

again we are so thankful for all of the support and prayers, i just don't even know where my family would be without them. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

to everyone

i can't even begin to express my gratitude for the support that my family has received these last couple of weeks and continues to receive. all of the prayers and thoughts and help and flowers and cards, each one has played a different role in healing rowan, in uplifting our family, and reminding us how not alone in this we are.

i apologize that i don't respond to every instagram, facebook, and twitter comment - daily my head spins circles around rowan and her schedules and meds and doctors and progress. just know that i read every one and literally feel all of the love wrap around my daughter and i.

tomorrow will be day three at the children's hospital rehab unit. it has been an adjustment changing from hospital to hospital but i am blown away by her therapy team and how they come in knowing just how to talk to rowan and help her so that she is happy, feels comfortable, and continues to have progress - it is such a blessing that we live so close to a facility like this and can use it.

my sister set up a facebook page that she tries to update daily, after sending me fifty texts asking for one, haha. but, i do most of my updating on instagram lately with fun photos to document rowan's daily going ons so she has something to look back on, because our guess is she won't remember a lot of this, which is good news.

rowan is otherwise totally healthy, we have just begun the long road of healing her brain injury and guiding her through gaining back what was forgotten motor skill wise. it is so promising to see that despite her inability to do a lot, she still does a lot - we were playing ipad games today and she could do everything it asked perfectly. "touch the fruit that starts with o" no problem! "touch the triangle" she got it!

continued prayers for my little blonde and our family are always appreciated. each night rowan and i specifically pray for her talking to come back and we pray for her team to have patience and guidance for getting rowan thought this bump in the road. thank you again for everything you all have done!

Monday, May 13, 2013

things go awry sometimes

this has to be a nightmare right? a constant horrifying loop where i am living in a hospital, my daughter was on a ventilator thirty-six hours ago,and we have a long road of recovery ahead of us. i can't even go into too much detail about things right now, even just thinking on it for long breaks my heart all over again. how did we get here? how did rota-virus turn into this current brain impairment?

long story short rowan suffered from a infection that shut down her motor skills - things got very bad before they started to get better. today, she is improving in strides but it is as they always say, "one step forward two steps back..." and that has been the hardest part about this whole thing. this morning we were going home in a few days and by the afternoon we were looking at a transfer to seattle children's and three weeks of inpatient rehab and therapy (this is worst case scenario so for all intents and purposes, let's just go about thinking rowan, being the fire cracker she is, will kick this things butt and be the "good" case results).

don't take your kids health for granted - rowan is sad and constantly twists and fidgets in a bed that causes her discomfort because some kid spread rota-virus on something rowan touched...

we got off the vent on friday, moved out of the icu saturday, smiled and ate on sunday, got our ivs and wires out, laughed and talked in our sleep and walked with support on monday. tuesday is going to kick butt, i know it. i can't even begin to thank everyone who has had rowan in their thoughts and prayers. i have literally felt each one wrapped around her and our family. the kindness from our friends near and far has brought tears to my eyes and the same time providing me with hope is easily one of my saddest moments.

i told a friend that i usually have difficulty relying on others, taking so much - but one thing this whole experience is teaching me and that is sometimes you just have to hand "it" all over. i am not sure i would be surviving without the revolving door of those to listen to me vent and see me cry that bring me coffee and snuggle my kids when i can't.

eventually i'll talk more about her diagnosis and the whole story, because what is happening is rare enough, if i can settle even one mamas heart then it is worth reliving it, but i am not there yet. for now we look at everything she has over come so far, today i made rowan giggle and then i ugly cried tears of joy for an hour after. when rowan's friend came to visit and she realized who it was, she smiled. then today during PT she walked assisted. life is good in its own way.

she isn't talking but i am not discouraged, she isn't using her hands a ton but seeing some movement return to them gives me so much hope for a quick recovery. we love the nurses here and tim and i laugh about the, younger then us, resident who is really going fond of rowan. she plays possum with the doctors, letting them believe that she can do less then we see her do all day long. i am glad in the midst of everything going on, the confusion she must be feeling in her head, that she still has a sense of humor.

tim is taken a lot of time of work and if your a single income family then you know what that will mean for us. i try not to think about that too much right now - i'd live in a one room apartment as long as it was filled with rowan's laughter again. mri, ct, spinal tap are all things i am nervous to see listed on a bill but so trivial and unimportant in the moment. i miss my little kids and they miss me. robin's and my nursing relationship will never be the same and that makes me sad like you will never know.

my brain is fried, my weight is down, my texts are full of errors but i have hope in healing and faith in His hands over my daughter. keep us in your prayers - for healing, for peace, for guidance  for answers, for rowan to be herself again.


All the Advice I Have to Give about Babywearing

As a baby-wearing mom of four, I loved reading Lili Kalish Gersch expert opinion on the subject. She hits the nail on the head with all of her great advice, tips, and recommendations. Baby-wearing can be a daunting experience with all of the different options and price tags. Today, the industry is booming, and information is easily available when you are ready to chose a carrier.

In my case, some people collect handbags, but I collect baby carriers and my personal favorites depend on who I am carrying and what we'll be doing. I love our easy to use soft-structured carrier for my chunky six-month-old son and a ring sling in a hip carry position with my thirty-five pound toddler Stella.

Read and print out the entire Crib Sheet about babywearing now.

Why Should I Wear My Baby? Have you heard of the fourth trimester? Basically, it is the notion that after spending forty weeks snuggly inside of the womb, the first three months on the outside is an adjustment period for both mom and baby.  One of the best ways to provide those extra snuggles and loving is to wear your baby close. If you ask my husband, he'll tell you that he likes baby-wearing because, “stroller are a pain” and “it sure beats chasing the toddler around a busy space.” Said perfectly, I agree that baby-wearing doesn't have to be all or nothing, even if you are attachment parenting. Do what works for you, if it is more convenient to grab the stroller or use the cart at the grocery store then that is totally fine too!

Where Can I Get One? The good news is that baby carriers are quickly becoming a favorite when it comes to planning a list of must haves. This has sparked the industry to really take off – making many options available in types and costs. Secretly, my favorite places to hunt down a coveted carrier is Craigslist, swap groups, or by putting a “in search of” out into the social universe. I agree that Amazon, Ebay, and sometimes Target have a good variety, but when I have friends looking for more affordable options, I always point them to Etsy.  You would be so surprised by how many mamas have created some amazing carriers of all types!
Choosing A Carrier: I would give the same recommendations as Lili Kalish Gersch! A soft stretchy wrap is best for infancy.  While a soft-structured carrier is a great “one fits all” option, I always like to bring up the forgotten ring sling. The ring sling is comfortable, almost always affordable, offers so many carry options, is my favorite to breastfeed in (all that extra fabric hanging down is a built in cover!), and comes in some fun color and fabric options. Recently I also discovered that the infant insert that is available for purchase works with many types of carriers aside from the one it is marketed with. I used mine in a mei tai and conversion wrap as well. Can't afford the insert? Don't let anyone fool you, a rolled up blanket works just as well in most cases!
How Can I Do This? I couldn't agree more with Lili - “Knowing is half the battle.” Manuals are your best friend and these days you can easily look them up online. More complicated carrier with many position options usually come with a DVD, and if it didn't, then YouTube will most likely have an abundance of visual tutorials for you. Sometimes when we are at a playdate, a mama will pull out her carrier and ask for advice or for someone to check if she is using it right. So, don't be afraid to ask your “expert” friends too!

Safely And Comfortably Baby-Wearing: 
I agree with Lili, there is a right and wrong way to wear your baby so just remember these few tips and you should be okay!
  • Close enough to kiss.
  • Never with their head resting on their chest.
  • Knees higher then butt!
  • Head well supported.
  • Absolutely no fabric covering baby's face.
Baby-wearing is meant to mimic the way we hold our babies. When you scoop your newborn up they will automatically pull their legs up into a “frog” position, which is most natural and comfortable to them. Avoid a carrier that cannot offer this position to your baby - often called “crotch danglers” - because these carriers can possibly lead to hip, leg, and spine problems.
My Baby Hates It! I love Lili's take: “Babies smell fear.” They totally do! My son doesn't always love being worn or quits loving it after just a little while. The best thing you can do is to keep moving forward. Play with your carrier around the house for a dress rehearsal before you rely on it out and about. Try all the positions at home along with your baby. One thing I know for sure is that babies are fickle; one week, my son loves this carrier and the next week, he loves the one he hated a month ago.  This is why it is really nice to have an option or two on hand.
Before You Buy! The best advice that I can pass along is to try before you buy! Thankfully, with a rise in interest in baby-wearing, a lot of baby boutiques offer the opportunity to do just that. Borrow a baby, bring your toddler... or if you're in a pinch... bring a sack of sugar and get a good feel for how the weight will be distributed on your particular body type. Then think, is it easy to operate? Can I buckle this with one hand? Does it have pockets for extra pacifiers? The worst thing you can do is hand over a hundred plus dollars and then hate the carrier you choose.

Check with your community recreation department or birth center too. I know my doula offers classes where you can get a hands on approach to learning about all the carriers out there, how to use them safely, and try some on before the class is over. I have even had luck finding comparison charts just like the ones we use when we chose a new cellphone!

What is your favorite carrier? Or what one would you love to get your hands on to try?

This post is part of the Absolute Beginners editorial series, made possible by Pampers and BlogHer. Our advertisers do not produce or approve editorial content.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Prayers for Rowan

In case you've noticed all the posts on social media, or if you haven't here's an update.  Rowan was taken to the hospital for dehydration from being sick by her dad a few days ago, only to find out she had Rotavirus.  Rotavirus can sometimes cause neurological problems and that's what we've been seeing happen to Rowan.  She was going downhill very fast, and the Rotavirus was causing Meningitis.  A breathing tube was put in for fear of her lungs failing next, so she is currently not breathing on her own.  There was a fear that she was having seizures, though that was disproved by an EEG which is really good news.  She was transferred from Kadlec  Hospital in the Tri-Cities to Mary Bridge Childrens' Hospital in Tacoma and is receiving excellent care, and everyone is very optimistic about the outcome. 

She has been stable and relaxed for the last 15 hours or so, though she is still heavily sedated.  She has been trying to open her eyes and breathe on her own.  They are hopeful that they will be able to remove the breathing tube later on today.  Thankyou for you continued prayers, love, and support, she is feeling every bit of it.  We have set up a Facebook page for more frequent updates, Prayers for Rowan, and if you are able to help Rowan's family financially a fund has been set up to donate, Donation Link.  

-Katie (Melissa's sister)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

week twenty-six

Monday, May 6, 2013

things we love: needlehead crafts on etsy + a giveaway!

i think i am in love with a baby shoe, if that is possible... 

i really don't think that is gets much more adorable then the "jayne" soft soled baby shoes from needlehead crafts on etsy. when these tiny little guys showed up in our mailbox i just couldn't get over how soft the leather was and how well made each one was.

you can customize the ribbon color, choosing from eight different colors and specify if you would like wool lining for colder temps. these little shoes fit feet 4" to 8" giving you the chance to keep your little one in these soft and scrumptious shoes through preschool. want a pair for you? she makes adult sizes too!

did you know that pediatricians actually recommend that babies under two wear soft soled shoes (or go barefoot) for proper foot and muscular development? too ridged of a shoe can cause issues with cartilage shaping that can lead to more issues down the road. the "jayne" shoe is a perfect answer to this! it is so flexible but made of a soft moose-hide bottom that prevents slips and allows your little one to easily grip the ground with their toes.

megan offers some of the most gorgeous, hand-made, leather work that i have ever seen. from baby to adult shoes + clothing, it is unexpected clothing and shoes for all! i can't get over how adorable her studio is - a special space to create and spend time with her daughter. a little bit about the shop:
"This shop is where I present my best work to the world. As a stay-at-home mom, I can't be running around town spreading the word! I need an outlet where I can share my creations with those who are interested without leaving the house.

Most of my days are spent in my home studio, with my daughter playing nearby. I love to explore a variety of textiles and it is not uncommon to find leather scraps, wool yarn, yardage of quilting cotton, up-cycled sweaters and beads on my work table. Wait, that's what's on my table right now...

I'm a jack-of-all-trades type of person and no hand craft escapes me. Therefore, you will find all sorts of techniques and materials used to create the items I've listed in my shop. In fact, I pride myself on incorporating as many different mediums as possible in my work."
-Megan Woods
i just can't keep these shoes a secret anymore! i have teamed up with megan and needlehead crafts to give away pair of baby sized jaynes to one of my readers - check out how to enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, May 3, 2013

month six

half of a year old, when did we get here? six months is easily one of my favorite ages - they are still your tiny baby but they are playing and laughing and responding to life around them.

again, this month has been a lot like last month but totally different at the same time. we're a little closer to sitting up but robin doesn't really seem to care for it too much, he would rather be standing or jumping on your lap. this kid never  stops  moving. he is still rolling a ton, but just from back to stomach which is so strange since at the very beginning he started with stomach to back. i guess he forgot...

we are officially doing solids! i think by now he has tried a little bit of it all with no major aversions to anything. he loves those mums and happy tots puffs and is getting pretty good at transferring them from his chubby hands into his mouth. our next goal is the cup!

we are still waking up once a night but are working on breaking that habit as we speak. i figured out it isn't because he is hungry so we are trying other tactics to sooth him back to sleep then just going straight to nursing, so far so good. robin has really been noticing the cat lately, he immediately sees him when he comes into the room and if he walks by (which he likes to taunt robin) then robin reaches out and tries to grab him. tim thinks it is hilarious to hold the cat down while robin goes to town patting him on the head, rubbing his face and drool all over his back, and pulling the occasional whisker. this month, rowan is robin's favorite. she can make him laugh with silly faces and is getting really good at giving him a bottle. i love that i can trust her to send her in to entertain him in the mornings or look after him while i shower.

he hates being in the car or being worn if we are somewhere like the park. he got his first pair of sunglasses but takes them off immediately - at least he'll wear a hat! growing teeth has been a pain in our butt, they are so close, they have to be! then just when i think for sure he'll wake up with one...nothing! he is only semi attached to his paci and demands it to fall asleep but could care less the rest of the day.

we are full on into twelve month clothing - my six month old is the size of a one year old! bigger then some even! at his check-up this week his doctor said based on his growth that robin will be about 6'2" which is way taller then tim or i! tallness runs in my family, it just skipped me. still blonde hair and still blue eyes and lately everywhere we go someone stops us to mention how much robin looks JUST like tim. what do you think?

i love love love this age! robin is so fun and i can even see tim getting into more of a groove with him now that he reacts to things more and more of his personality is starting to show. i can't wait to see what the next six month brings!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

i am officially begging!

you guys! i am seriously blown away with how generous everyone has been up to this point - i am so close to my march of dimes fundraising goal! but, i'm not there yet! with sixteen days left until the bloggers for babies team walks, i still have $198 to go and my team $1,460. on facebook and twitter i have been challenging everyone to give up their starbucks for one day and donate - you can spare just $5 today can't you?

don't forget about the amazing giveaway i have going on to say thank you for helping out my team! for every $5 you donate you are entered to win one of three awesome and thoughtfully put together prize packs, check out all the awesomeness below:

mama memoirs: i need a job

you know, other then the one where i oversee the growth and development of these four little people...

being a stay at home mom is not usually glamorous - it is being sick with a sinus cold and stomach bug on the day your husband starts his second job that keeps him away all the live long day. it is getting sick seconds after you notice the macaroni has forty-seven seconds left to cook, throwing your baby in the highchair and putting the toddler in charge of tiny mum piece distribution and praying no one touches the now probably boiling over pot of lunch. being a stay at home mom means getting really good at tuning out some of the seven thousand questions that are simultaneously asked by your toddler and preschooler. it is getting really good at taking fast showers and praying that your five year old babysitter actually watches the baby.

it's not glamorous, but it is amazing - i just have to vent, you know? because i love my kids like whoa but i have been needing a major reset or refresh or five minutes alone. lately my wants have taken such a backseat i don't even know if i am allowed to have them anymore. being a parent is giving your all to your family - but it isn't losing all of who you are and i think that line has blurred for me.

when talking about mother's day the other evening with my husband, after being asked what i wanted, i responded with, "twenty-four hours alone." i was instantly picturing a white fluffy hotel room bed, a tv that was at a normal volume (not one that wouldn't wake my sleeping bed hog, i.e the baby), room service, and the best part...silence. i wanted to be alone with my thoughts. tim said this was selfish - i think he was kidding, but proceeded with, "it's mother's day, you're suppose to spend it with those that made you a mother." picture my best blank stare, mouth open face - was he kidding me right now?

for nine years, that is roughly 3,285 days that have been spent with those that made me a mom so this year for mother's day i am calling a time out and taking a day for me. i am totally in a parenting rut and i think my kids are catching on and taking advantage. because that is what they do right? they smell weakness and attack. white flag...

i hate to write complain-y posts but that is what mama memoirs is about, no? finding community and support in seasons we are all deep in together?

i title this "i need a job" but i really just need more me time. for awhile i was making a girls night happen at least once a month and i felt like such a better mom when i was getting that constant reset. a chance to shake off the ups and downs of the past whatever amount of days and start over with renewed perspective. those flittered out eventually and have been resenting myself for not making more effort on behalf of my sanity. recently i talked with some of my other favorite blogger mamas about starting regular stay cations, i am determined to make this a real thing, my brain feels relaxed just thinking about it!

what do you do to reset and be a better mom? is it as simple as a hour long pedicure or do you dream of fluffy hotel rooms where the only sounds are you instagram-ing all of your alone time?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

things we love: kiwi crate!

there is nothing like having a secret weapon stashed for when the day isn't going as planned. well that was us last week, a really hard parenting week for me and one of sassiness and boredom for the girls. that was when i remembered the kiwi crate that had been generously sent by the company for the girls to try out. i knew from the second we opened it and they marveled at their own personal kid scissors that this was going to be a fun activity! i think it is safe to say that we are kiwi craters for life...

the crate that they received was all about the famers market - we got to decorate aprons and sew our own stuffed fruits and vegetables. we got two sets of everything, a add on you can chose for siblings when you order your crate, so there was no fighting or arguing over supplies, just tons of opportunity for fun! their aprons had pockets for holding some paper money that was sent along, stella's current obsession and rowan kept busy listing off all the things we could use the left over supplies for, smart girl! the crate kept them busy for a better part of the afternoon and they had so much fun that i heard very little complaining when it was time to head to nap.

while the kids were immersed in the activities i took advantage of tons of teaching moments that came along with our crate. we counted, identified colors, talked about their fruit and veggies and worked on spelling their names. we practiced our cutting, tracing + freehand art, worked on dexterity through the sewing, and mama worked on her patience because while the steps were so easy that stella breezed through them i still had to remind myself to let her learn on her own and she did totally great.

i also love how each activity shares the back story of who designed it on the instruction cards, thought up by parents themselves who know how to think like a kid and therefor pick out great activities that aren't only fun but a good learning opportunity. it also doesn't just stop at the activities included in the box, they give you tips and tricks to keep going, like turning your crate into a shopping basket for your vegetables when shopping at your pretend farmers market.

needless to say we loved playing with our kiwi crate! on the website you can chose to buy single crates of the theme you want or sign up for a subscription or even gift one too. you can also stock up on great quality arts and crafts supplies or get some fun diy ideas for at home with your little ones based on their ages or interests. this little green box come directly to you, free shipping, for just under twenty dollars a month! the fun and learning inside is almost invaluable so i would say that is a really great deal. you can even sign up for a year long subscription and get one of the months free!

explore kiwi crate's blog for up to date information and ideas. keep in touch via facebook or twitter to share what you are doing with your crate and be part of a great community of families.

do you get a monthly kiwi crate? i can't wait to get our next one - the kids will flip!

use the code LOVEMOM from now until may 12th for 25% off your first box and $5 to spend in the shop! enjoy!