Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Plane Ride Home

I was dreading the plane ride back to Dallas. I knew my mom could help me get through security, but no one was flying home with me. It would just be me, an 11 week-old and a 3 year-old. An 11 week-old that’s been having daily blowouts, I might add. I was really nervous about gate checking Emily’s car seat and stroller, and nervous about bathroom breaks. All in all, it went really well. But should anyone else decide they want to travel with two small children, here’s what I did.

First, I bought the Safeguard Go car seat for Megan. It works for kids 20+ pounds that are 1 year or older. It’s a 5-point car seat until 60lbs, and then a backless booster from 60-100lbs. It folds into a little bag and is lightweight. I love it. I checked the seat in its bag with the rest of our luggage. It would have been easy to carry on the plane and throw in the overhead bin, but I really didn’t need one more thing to carry, so we just checked it normally.

Next, I brought the Snap ‘n Go stroller for Emily and put her infant seat on it, then threw the base for the seat into the basket of the stroller. Emily was either in the sling or in her car seat in the stroller while we went through the airport. Megan is good at staying close, so she just walked next to me (although I did entertain the idea of bringing the Sit ‘n Stand stroller so Megan could ride, but that stroller is just bigger than I wanted to deal with – I love it, though!). Since you have to take everyone’s shoes and jackets off at security, and take babies out of slings and such, and collapse strollers, my mom got a pass to help me through security. (I would like to take this time to note that American Airlines always tells us they can’t give security passes. They say it’s an FAA regulation. Alaska Airlines, on the other hand, is nice and understanding and gives them out, because they understand getting through security with small children is ridiculously difficult. So, clearly, it is not an FAA regulation. And it really annoys me every time American says it is.)

I brought a giant diaper bag backpack, and Megan brought her own little carry on. So, we had two carry-ons, the sling, the stroller, infant car seat and base going through the airport. It sounds like a ton, but it was manageable, even on my own. Although, I was worried about how to get the stroller, car seat and base collapsed and gate checked, because I didn’t want to check them with the luggage. I ended up snapping the infant car seat to the base and balancing it on top of the stroller. I put Emily in her sling, then just needed one hand to take the carseat off the stroller and to collapse the stroller. It was easier than I thought.

The plane ride itself went really well, too. Now, I won’t kid myself and think it will always be like this. I know Emily was at the easiest age to travel with. But still, it went well, and I would (and will!) do it again. Emily ate and slept and pooped, of course, because that’s what babies do. The first time she pooped, Megan wanted to stay in her seat and watch her DVD. Fine. So I walked back with Emily to change her in the bathroom, and Megan stayed put. I got Emily changed, but when I was walking back to my seat, saw Megan heading the other direction. She had taken off her headphones, paused her movie, unbuckled her seatbelt, and gotten up on her own. My big girl! I caught up with her, and she said she had to go potty. Oh boy, here it comes. All three of us were headed to the teeny tiny airplane bathroom. And when we got in, Megan insisted I go potty first. So, with Emily in the sling, and Megan just in front of me, I crouched down and went. (I will take this time to note that when traveling with small children, always wear sweats or some sort of pant that comes off without buttoning, so that if your child is in the Bjorn or sling, you can easily pull your pants up or down with one hand.) Then I got up and moved aside so Megan could go. It worked, although none of us could have been too much bigger! Oh, and 20 minutes after we got back to our seat, Megan had to go again. Good times. But, it was doable. We got through it. I have no desire to attempt to travel with more children than my two, but I can do it with two. Thank goodness!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

They were hiding where?

We’re in Seattle now, having fun playing with family. I was raised here, and in many ways, it still feels like home. My parents are here, my sister and her family, my aunt and uncle, cousins, and several friends from high school with whom I still keep in touch. My sister has two kids – a 7 year-old girl, Lauren, and a 5 year-old boy, Mason. Megan and Mason are the best of friends. This week, they’ve particularly enjoyed playing hide-and-seek. Of course, their version of hiding is putting their hands over their eyes, while not really leaving the room, so they’re pretty easy to find, but it’s still cute. We keep finding them in random rooms, crouching on the floor, rear ends in the air, squealing their sweet little kid squeals.

Last night, they were playing hide-and-seek in my parents’ laundry room, which is just off the family room where the rest of us were talking. They got very quiet, so I figured I’d better check on them. I looked in the laundry room, and saw the dryer door open. I looked in the dryer, and there were Megan and Mason, hands over their eyes, giggling. In the dryer! The both of them! I yelled to my sister to come see and grabbed my camera, all the while telling the kids how bad an idea it was to be in the dryer and how they should never, ever go in there again. But really, it was a little funny and cute. Neither of them could have turned it on, but still – not a good place to play. And believe me, my sister and I hammered that into their heads. They won’t be playing in the dryer anymore.

I’m still glad I have a picture of it, though.

Monday, July 28, 2008

My first flight with two kids.

Recently, I attempted my first flight with two children. It sounds brave and bold, but the truth is, my sister flew down first to help me fly back up, so I really can’t be commended. But as well as the flight itself went, I really have to share our pre-flight tales of woe.

First of all, my sister flew down on a Saturday morning, from Seattle to Dallas. She was supposed to arrive around 2:00pm, but at about 1:30, a giant thunderstorm rolled in. So instead of landing in Dallas, she landed in San Antonio. Not good. It should be said that my sister has had some really bad weather when she visited me. The first time she came, it snowed, and I couldn’t even pick her up from the airport, so she ended up taking Super Shuttle, which was not a good experience for her. Another time, it iced. And another time, there were thunderstorms, and she was stuck at the airport – with her toddler – for 6 hours before just coming back to our house and trying again the next day. So the fact that she landed in San Antonio was really not good for her opinion of Dallas. She finally got her around 6:30pm. Oops.

Our flight Sunday morning was scheduled to leave at 7:00am. We live pretty close to the airport, so leaving the house at 5:45am gave us plenty of time to get to our flight. But even leaving at 5:45am means getting up awfully early, including waking the kids up. Megan was so excited for a trip, though, the second we woke her up, she was wide awake and her usual chatty self. My husband checked the flight just before we left the house, and said, “You know, it’s weird. The flight from Seattle here looks like it returned to Seattle and hasn’t left there yet, but your flight is still on time. You’d think they’d need the plane from that flight for your flight.” Weird indeed. But perhaps they were using a different plane, and since our flight was still showing on time, and it was just an hour and a half before departure, surely everything was fine.

So we get to the airport to check our bags, and had the following exchange.
Agent: The flight is probably going to leave here around 8:30am. There was a mechanical issue, so it hasn’t left Seattle yet. [Note: It’s now 6:15am.]
Me: But if it hasn’t left Seattle yet, there’s no way it will leave here at 8:30. It’s a four hour flight here!
Agent: But there’s a two hour time difference! [Seriously, this is what she said. As if a four hour flight suddenly becomes a two hour flight because of a time change.]
Me: [giving up, since logic clearly escapes her] What happened with the previous plane?
Agent: It took off and was a quarter of the way here, but there was a mechanical issue so it had to return to Seattle. Then, they had to take everyone AND THEIR STUFF [she emphasized this, as if they typically leave the “stuff” and only take the people] off the plane and rebook everyone onto the new plane they got.

So many issues here, most of which I noted above. But they got a new plane. There’s no rebooking! You just give people the same seats on a different aircraft! She just wasn’t the brightest bulb. The good news was, she allowed us to use upgrade certificates to sit in first class, and she shouldn’t have since we were on mileage tickets. Hey, I wasn’t complaining!

Oh, and the flight? It was easy peasy. Emily ate while we took off, slept for 3 hours, pooped a few times, ate again, and we were there. My sister sat by Megan, who watched movies the whole time and made one bathroom trip. Getting through security wasn’t the most fun thing I’ve ever done, but with two adults, it was manageable. And I’m pumped that the flight itself was good! Now I just hope the flight home isn’t the opposite!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Who knew? I'm a drug addict.

I want a new drug
One that won't hurt my head
One that won't make my mouth too dry
Or make my eyes too red

One that won't make me nervous
Wondering what to do
One that makes me feel like I feel when I'm with you
When I'm alone with you

Okay, it's not what you think. New research has found that a new Mom's pleasure receptors in the brain (typically associated with food, sex and drug addiction) are activated at seeing your own child smile. Your baby's smiles are a natural high! I remember telling my friends how tired I was after having my little ones (I've got more than one hence the "addict" part) but just a little smile from one of them and I would completely forget my exhaustion, be elated and gain energy to keep going despite lack of sleep or any real rest. Guess I wasn't lying.

Let me share one of my baby high experiences with you. My firstborn had 'colic' -- which turned out to be severe food allergies though we didn't know it at the time -- and I remember the nights of no sleep for many months with no idea of why my baby was hurting and still having to go to work the next morning. Ugh! Luckily for me, my DH was able to work from home during that tough time so I knew she was in the best of care. But in the midst of all that heartache, my dearest daughter had the best disposition and I always said it was her smiles that gave me the strength to make it through each day and night. Clearly, that was not a subjective feeling but quite literally, based in this research, her dear precious smiles did make me feel better and heal me in more ways than I knew then. Motherhood and nature are amazing.

After the news a while back about proven post-partum memory loss for at least 1 year, it is nice to have science 'prove' the nice things of becoming a mom, too. After all, we moms always knew them and felt them but somehow having science quantify and qualify it with data for the world adds a different type of 'cred' to it.

I'm actually visiting my (not so) little sister with her bundle of joy which while not the same as having my own is about as close I will ever get to having a darling angel without giving birth myself. I am here to tell you fellow Moms... those smiles work even if you are not the birth mom. I think it is the mom in your heart that sets it off. I am off to get my baby high with my most handsome little nephew... ahh.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Changing the World

I have had several favorite quotes throughout my life - my current favorite came from one of my business partners and I have shamelessly stolen it from her for my own use:

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."

- Ghandi

It's so incredibly profound, and yet so simple. It reminds me of my goals, and reminds me to act today, not tomorrow, and it IS up to me to change the world.

I printed it out in fancy font & borders and all other nonsense, and posted it in my office above my big whiteboard, so it catches my eye all day long and helps keep me a little more focused.

Feel free to shamlessly steal it from me, too.

Friday, July 18, 2008

God bless the sling.

When Emily was about a month old, we attended a baby shower at a friend’s house. I meant to bring my Baby Bjorn, just in case she’d hang out in it, but left it at home. But while at the shower, my friend offered her sling to me to use during the night. It was awesome. Emily slept the whole evening. At the end of the night, my friend told me to keep the sling, as her kids have outgrown it. God bless her, and God bless the sling.

I have learned how to wear Emily in it in a few positions – laying down, and sitting. She falls asleep in both. And she sleeps well. And, I can breastfeed without anyone knowing what I’m doing. Emily has this knack for knowing exactly when I’m about to eat, and making sure I don’t get a hot meal. I literally picked up my fork last night, stuck it in a piece of salad, and she woke up and started crying. Awesome. So, I’ve been putting her in the sling and feeding her while I eat, because it gives me a free hand, and I can feed her either at home or in public without anyone knowing. And while breastfeeding in public should be fine, I’m just a little too modest to do it. But the sling makes it easy. I fed her tonight while eating dinner, and my dad had no idea. He said, “Has she just been asleep this whole time?!” and I had to tell him that no, she hadn’t – she’d been eating nonstop for 30 minutes. It’s a gift, I think.

Anyway, I use that sling every day. It was perfect when she was a newborn with hardly any head control, and perfect now that she has more control and likes to look around a bit. She’s comfortable, I’m pretty comfortable, and I can eat, pick up toys, vacuum, you name it. It’s also how I kept Emily on the plane. It was easy to wear her through the airport, and she ate and slept peacefully on the plane.

So, God bless the sling. It’s a beautiful invention.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Evening News Rating - 'R'

I try to monitor what my kids watch on TV. I make sure the shows have a good mix of fun and information. So it would make sense that we would want to include the local, national and world news in that mix. After all, knowledge is key to raising socially responsible and involved citizens, right? So how do you explain the news to a 7 year old when it starts off with the war with the happy story about release of hostages after years of imprisonment. These are truths that I don't want to expose her delicate psyche to yet. Still, that is what is in the news these days.
So I have stopped watching the evening news on the television in our home. We get our news online where I can control what the kids hear -- I read it to them or have them read specific stories. I go to sites like which tries to deliver the positive side of the news. Its focus may not tell you what is happening in the Iraqi War but it will tell you the human side the world with a more local news feel to it. If the world was filled with all the bad, negative things we hear on the usual evening news then I would be hesitant to set foot out of my front door. So how could our children ever feel secure or safe? Am I too protective of them? Am I taking the easy way out? Or is it alright at such a young age?

I hope I am still enabling them to grow to be involved and active citizens of our great country. I'm not sure (are we ever as parents?) but I am doing what I think is right by them.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Worst Advice Ever For A Pregnant Woman

Well, word to the wise around here...don't drink the water. It seems we're all pregnant, or just gave birth, or are attending to new arrivals in extended family. So while we were already all moms, launching a company for moms...we're now all enjoying another trip through motherhood. Which got me thinking about the months I have ahead of me and how I'll handle them the second time around with a lot more things on my plate. One thing I won't do? Fall prey again to this man (or one like him). Enjoy the chuckle at my expense as I relate to you the worst advice I have received while pregnant. (And please - send good thoughts my way that this entry will retain the Worst Advice title once this pregnancy is over.)

When I was about 6 months pregnant, a man whom I did not know at work cornered me in the break room to give me advice about what to do when I had my baby. Few things immediately come to mind, don't they?

1. Hormones & baby advice don't play well together.

2. Hormones & baby advice from a stranger really don't play well together.

3. Hormones & baby advice from a stranger who is a man - well, them's just fightin' words all 'round.

He was an older man, and had bad breath, but that's not important to the story (though it would have probably played a prominent role if I was still in 1st trimester all-day sickness mode). He had me cornered for about 45 minutes talking to me about febrile seizures and how they're perfectly normal and I shouldn't freak out at all when it happens and no need to go to the hospital or anything. My baby will eventually outgrow them, so I need to just be calm about it and boy aren't I glad he knows all about it and can save me the stress, right? No problem, he just sees it as his duty to help out others when he can.


Let's pause for a moment and consider the ramifications of talking to a 1st time pregnant lady with borderline obsessive-compulsive tendencies with most definitely a Type A++ personality about Things That Will Go Wrong.

Okay, first? He owes my employer a heck of a lot of payroll dollars for all the time over the next few months I spent frantically googling "febrile seizures", and long distance charges for me to read aloud articles to my friends and get their opinions. (and later - maybe some of my pediatrician's salary for having to talk to me repeatedly about it. Would love to see my secret chart from those first 6 months.)

Second? Total liar. Febrile Seizures are not normal! Sure, they may not be an indicator of dire diseases or anything, but they ARE far from normal.

Third? Total jerk. Seriously. I ended up moving across country before I had my febrile-seizure-free baby, but if I still lived there I think I'd wait for him some night in the parking lot and just...I don't know...kick him in the shins or something. It's been almost 5 years now and I still think about doing this a lot. I do have some vacation, no, no.

In any case, that really took the cake for me on the bad advice thing. I will never forgive that man. My hairdresser I forgave after the bangs grew out, but the febrile-seizures?? Nah - I'll be lugging that story around forever.

And PS - the best advice? That good enough is, really, good enough.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

My Birth Story

Since Megan was a breach baby and I had a c-section with her, I knew all along I would have one with this baby as well. And honestly, that was fine by me. I am perfectly happy having c-sections! My doctor was good enough to schedule a 7am c-section, which I have learned is a very wise thing. I pity those that have afternoon c-sections, because I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink after midnight. I’ve been chugging drinks like I live on the Equator, so the thought of not drinking for 7 hours had me all twitchy. I can’t imagine being awake all day and not getting to eat or drink!

The night before my c-section, we told Megan what would happen the next day. We explained that we wouldn’t be home when she woke up, but that we’d be at the hospital. She’d get to come to the hospital after she woke up and meet her baby sister. My mom stayed with Megan while we were in the hospital, so she was there for Megan when she got up. It was really weird knowing that the next morning, we’d have another family member. It also meant we had to decide on a name, because we really would have a baby the next day! So, we talked a bit more and decided.

We were told to get to the hospital at 5am. So, I woke up at about 4:15 so I could shower, dry my hair, and put a little makeup on (hey! I was going to have pictures taken that day!). We got to the hospital right at 5, and went to a prep room. I basically got monitored for awhile, got two bags of IV fluid, got to take a shot of this very odd-tasting thing (I forget the name, but oh, I was so glad to drink anything, even if it tasted bad!), got asked a ton of questions and laid around for a bit. At 6:45, I walked to the OR while my husband got into his sterile gear. They gave me the spinal (such a weird feeling when that starts taking effect!), brought Jay in, started the surgery, and at 7:07am, Emily Marie was born. She had a strong scream (the pediatrician later told us she had the “loudest scream in the nursery” – lucky us!) and was clearly not pleased. I love that sound, though. There’s so much life in those first cries, and it’s so comforting to hear. It made me all teary. Of course, they weighed her in the OR, and she was a whopping 9lbs 8oz. Considering I measured a few weeks behind for my entire pregnancy, I was NOT expecting such a big baby! But there she was, all pink and plump and healthy. And pissed.

Megan was a premie, so we saw her briefly in the OR, then she went to the NICU to be suctioned. We saw her a few hours later. But Emily was full-term, so my husband got to hold her in the OR, and the nurses took a picture of the three of us there, in all of our gear with our new little baby. Emily was wheeled to the recovery room with me, where she promptly latched on and started nursing. It took a lot of work to get Megan to nurse, so having Emily latch right away like that was so exciting! She hung out with us in recovery for a bit, and then went to the nursery for her bath.

Not long after I moved to my hospital room, Emily joined us, as did Megan and my mom. Megan was excited to hold Emily, and was so sweet with her. She held her gently and just looked at her. She loved to sit in my hospital bed with me while I held Emily.

Emily is great. She lost a full pound in the hospital, but is gaining again and doing perfectly well. She nurses well, and we never had to supplement with her like we did with Megan. So far, she sleeps a lot and, with the exception of when she gets hungry, she doesn’t cry too often. I fully realize this will likely not continue to be the case, but just let me enjoy it for now, ok?

I’m great, too. I wanted to avoid pain meds if I could, and I did. I just needed ibuprofen for the discomfort, but really, I wasn’t in too much pain. I feel like I recovered so much faster with pain meds, too. I’m home and mobile and so, so happy to have a healthy baby at home, and a smaller belly!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Parents vs. Peds

Ever feel like gearing up with war paint as you head into an appointment with your pediatrician? Have you read numerous articles on the topic? Talked to every mom you know in person and some more via mesage boards?

All this so that you can gain the strength to stand up to your pediatrician and do for your child what you feel is the best care?? I recall this struggle with my second child -- my dearest son. He was a slow talker who had many ear infections as an infant. My gut or "Momtuition" told me something was off. I kept asking the doctor about it but he waved it aside at the 12 month visit and again at 18 month visit. At the next visit, after I got this information from a fellow mom, I insisted on getting a free evaluation (as offered by the state via the Early Childhood Intervention or ECI in Texas). They came and evaluated him with significant development delays!

I had a friend whose pediatrician decided her son had attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The diagnosis never quite sat right with her - her momtuition was warning her. When none of the meds worked, she went to get a second opinion and a third. Finally the fourth doctor listened to her and her son is now getting therapy - not meds - for being on the autism spectrum. He is improving everyday and doing great.

I do not believe my pediatricians blindly, they are people who may know about medicine but they don't know your child. You do. What I learned is, as a Mom, I need to trust my gut - my Momtuition - when it comes to my kids, first and foremost.

It is still hard for me to talk about this topic because I didn't push as hard as I should have in my son's case when my gut told me otherwise and we are still feeling the effects of that. My only advice to Moms (new and experienced) everywhere is trust your Mom instinct, your Momtuition. It will not let you or your child down. Be a fool for your child's welfare. Let them mark you as "difficult" in their secret doctor charts. All that doesn't matter if you have your healthy child by your side. Because in a world filled with what-ifs, most of which lead to dark places, it is your job, MOM, to take the least treacherous path and be your child's warrior along the way to making him/her an independent, capable adult. Fight on, dear Mom-rior.

Since early intervention and therapy are the best weapons we have for developmental delays, here are a couple resources that list typical developmental milestones to watch for in your child: