Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Leila, You're Almost 9 Months and This Is My First Blog Post About You

Your second vacation in September 2012 to Disneyland
13 Days old
Embassy Suites Resort September 2012
Leila my beautiful baby girl where do I begin?You came into our lives as a wonderful surprise and since you've been here darling you've certainly made all of us so happy and completed our little family.  You are always full of smiles and laughter. You love your brother so much and you just light up every time he comes into the room and talks to you. You squeal with delight and flap your little arms excitedly. He talks to you in this hilarious, high-pitched voice (Trying to mimic mommy) saying, "Hi pretty girl! Who's the pretty girl? " and various other sweet sayings. You also love when your Daddy comes home and scoops you up into a big hug. "Da!DA!" You give him your yummiest, slobbery kisses and he makes you laugh. After we have all had our fun with you- playing pat-a-cake, army crawling after your brother's legos, reading books, and  singing songs then you are ready to snuggle up to Mommy and have some of your milk. "Ma!Ma!"And these days, drinking Mommy's milk is probably your most favorite place to be.
Leila you are the baby that everyone stops to compliment whenever we take you out. "What a beautiful baby!" they all say. "Look at those cheeks! How precious!"
We all love your cheeks! We think they are one of your best features too! So yummy, puffy and soft! Mommy can't get enough kisses on those cheeks of yours every single day.

June 2, 2012
Only about 2 hours old

Leila we are all so excited to know who you are and who you will become.
Love, Mommy

6 months-ish

Monday, August 27, 2012

Leila's Birth Day Video

Click Here and Enjoy!

Thank you to my amazing husband for creating my dream newborn video!!! Oh and my dream newborn too! :)

Monday, May 21, 2012


Baby Girl,
Your half of the closet is organized, (the other half is still your brother's toy closet) your tiny little cloth diapers are all washed and ready, swaddling blankets folded, hospital bags in car, your car seat is ready, mommy got her pedicure, Daddy got his whopping cough vaccine, your brother painted you a picture with heart stickers, there's food in the freezer, my hypno-birthing soundtrack is loaded on my ipod, the video and two cameras are fully charged and my power labor drink-coconut water is also fully stocked in the car. :)
We are all so excited for your arrival! Everyday I get text messages, Facebook messages and an occasional phone call from a dinosaur asking if you are ready to come yet :)
Only two major unfinished tasks are still in the works: Deciding on your name, (this has been a hard one!) and securing someone to photograph your birth.
Waiting for the other shoe to drop because you already have so says the midwife and my bladder,
Your Mommy

trying to work out some pelvic pain-38 weeks

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


belli painting at 36 weeks

It's been a wonderful but long day. I'm in my 36th week and having a lot more back pain, pelvic pain and much more frequent Braxton Hicks contractions lately. Loss of appetite, (unless it's fruit or I didn't have to  cook it), extreme exhaustion with hour long afternoon naps instead of prepping dinner, flaking on playdates and appointments because I just don't feel like it but then deciding that a 7pm trip to Target is absolutely necessary because I must have the perfect nursing bra before she arrives. Dangerous online shopping habits have begun and the completion of thank you cards has not.

amazing gifts from the baby shower my church gave me!

Then there are the extreme highs where I nest psychotically pulling weeds, planting flowers, organizing closets, finishing the nursery decor, washing baby's things, convincing my husband that hiking in the hills during the afternoon heat will really be ok for me, grocery shop online, work on an artsy baby project with Aiden, dust my plantation shutters, feeling that it's imperative that I master that lullaby on the piano before she arrives, (even though she can already hear my painful practicing process in the womb) and threaten to mow the lawn myself if my overworked husband doesn't take care of it soon. Got to mail that package to our family in Colorado, solidify a name for baby girl,  need to catch up Aiden on his vaccines, put the hospital bag in the car, complete that blog memory post about how cool Aiden is lately, find a date to do last minute maternity family pictures, make a belli cast, fill out that overdue hospital paperwork, get birth ball blown up, and through everything try to make time every day to spend quality time with my precious son during our last days just him and I. It is a whirlwind game of rushing around to get things accomplished before she arrives and at the same time trying desperately to slow down and throughly enjoy these last few days of our family of three.  I am trying to be more mindful in my parenting with my son these days, taking extra time and savoring more moments than usual trying to keep a strong patience level even though all the discomforts are overwhelming at times. Listening to some of his music from our recent music together class can produce nostalgic tears while I get overly sentimental of the fun times we had together in that class loosing ourselves in the fun together and realizing we don't do that often enough... A drastic change in our family dynamics is upon us soon and it will never be the same again. We are so very excited and so extremely blessed about the upcoming arrival of our little angel joining our family of three making us four. Making us complete. We cannot wait to meet her and love her. And with an incomplete "To Do" list or not, we are ready and waiting.

Monday, April 23, 2012

My Naturally Minded Birth Plan- 2012 Edition

*Disclaimer-  This is a post about birthing which will most likely use words like vagina, nipples, cervix and the rupturing of membranes. It may get ugly. :) If this is not your cup of tea than skip on over to the previous post about toys or perhaps you could browse my right-sidebar index for a yummy recipe? :) I'll see you on the other side. For the rest of you, enjoy as I spew my super duper hippie birthing beliefs on the public. :) Your welcome.

I have developed this plan of how my ideal birth would go based on my previous experience of a drug-free, natural birth. It is also based on my own research on natural birthing, (meaning completely drug-free and vaginal in my mind) through books such as, Ina May's Guide To Childbirth, Birth Matters, and Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin.  I also read and loved Birthing From Within by Pam England CNM, MA and Rob Horowitz PHD. The Birth Book by Dr. Sears was another good one.  Supernatural Childbirth by Jackie Mize opened my eyes to the spiritual side of giving birth and experiencing the promises of God concerning conception and delivery. I watched some eye-opening and extremely informative documentaries such as Pregnant in America, The Business of Being Born, and the new More Business of Being Born. These were just some of my most favorite books and documentaries on the subject of birthing naturally and each one gave me newfound knowledge about my body and more confidence in realizing that I could do this without the use of drugs which would, hands down be the safest way for my child to come into this world. This plan is just a plan though and I am well aware that at any time a medical complication could arise and it could be totally thrown out the window. Or maybe my body will stop progressing the way it's supposed to and I will be forced to re-evaluate my plan.  I am prepping my idealistic mind to be ok with that and in the end just be completely grateful for the safe birth of a healthy baby girl. Some of my requests may seem pretty far out in left field or just plain high-maintenance but let me remind you that while most women in the U.S. choose an epidural, (In 2006 a national survey called, "Listening To Mothers" was conducted and found that 75% of women had epidurals compared to 14% of women who choose an unmedicated birth.) I am planning not to have one due to all the dangers and possible side effects of epidurals. If you haven't already done your own research on epidurals I strongly suggest you explore both sides throughly before going into your own birthing experience. So, in lieu of drugs these natural coping mechanisms are vital to reach my goals in labor.
 My first birthing experience was completely transforming. An extreme rite of passage into the tough but rewarding work of motherhood. I went in with complete confidence and a strong desire to do this without drugs no matter how intense the pain was because I learned that my body was designed to handle it. I went through it in complete shock at how horrifically painful it really was, with questions in my hormonally overloaded mind if I could really and truly come out alive. I came out of it in completely humbled because throughout my labor I prayed for the strength I needed to get though it drug- free and I had actually received it. It was one of the most powerful examples of the ask and you will receive from God that I had ever experienced. I had given myself the reward of knowing I could in fact be strong, truly strong in myself despite other feelings of vulnerability in other areas of life. In the end, the most important goal was met-a healthy baby boy was placed into my arms for me to fall head over heels in love with.
There were, however a few things that made my labor and delivery more difficult than it had to be due to the unnecessary interventions of doctors and nurses. There was an unexplained order for me to begin pushing at only 8 centimeters, (You are only supposed to begin pushing when you are a 10 and/or when your body has the natural urge to bear down and push.) and a scary vacumme suction device used on my Aiden's little head to assist in getting him out of me. I still shudder when I think of that.   In revising my former birth plan from my experience in 2009, I hope to have an even better experience this time around. My plan is based on the positives of my former experience such as learning the powers of my own body while taken into a sacred space in my own strength I never even touched on in the past. It is also based on the negatives of my previous birth such as finding out firsthand how hospital policies and medical procedures can truly disrupt the whole natural process of some of the magical phenomenons of the birthing process. I have learned that one of the most important aspects of achieving a natural birth is trusting your body that God has specifically designed to be perfectly capable of giving birth without the assistance of this culturally- inspired trend of using drugs, IV's, and episiotomies. It is also about honoring your body's natural processes and becoming well versed in them through research though it's sad that some things aren't common knowledge. It is all about realizing that birthing isn't a medical emergency that must always take place in a hospital setting, (Unless you have a high-risk pregnancy or a medical emergency at the time of your birth.) If my own insurance covered me to give birth in a free-standing birthing center with a midwife, that would be my ideal place. And just to dream for a minute, if money were not an issue at all then I would fly to Tennessee to give birth under the care of Ina May Gaskin herself, (the most accomplished midwife in the world with much safer birthing outcomes and statistics than any hospital) at The Farm Midwifery Center where I could labor outside in the forest near a little stream if my heart desired or in a birthing tub where I would be most relaxed. If for example my baby was breech, there would be no insurance/hospital policy saying that I had to have a risky C-Section because the midwives there, (and most midwives anywhere) would know the age-old techniques of delivering a breech baby safely and vaginally. If I wanted to eat or drink during labor, I could without the worrisome hospital nurses giving me reasons why I shouldn't when clearly my body needs the nourishment to get through labor. This is a place where the natural processes of a women's body would be honored and not disrupted by hospital policies.
Back to real life, my Kaiser insurance and onto the realities of hospital birthing. I am hoping that my Doctor, midwife and labor nurses will take some time to read over my wishes and help make this birth the safest for my baby and the most comfortable for myself it can be this time around!

our baby belli's about 2 weeks ago! (Currently I'm 35 weeks pregnant!)

Laura's Plan
   As long as the baby and I are heathy, I would like to go at least 10 to 14 days over my due date before inducing labor.
      I would like to discuss laboring at home as long as possible.
      I trust that my practitioner will seek out my opinion concerning all of the issues directly affecting my birth before deviating from my plan.
      If I go past my due date and the baby and I are fine, I prefer to go into labor naturally rather than be induced.
      During a vaginal exam, I prefer at no time to have my membranes broken unless there is an emergency situation.
      I prefer to have minimal internal exams.
      If I am less than five centimeters dilated, I would like the option of going home.
      If induction becomes necessary, I would like to try natural induction techniques first (with the guidance of my practitioner).
These are the natural induction techniques I would like to try:
      Breast stimulation
      Castor oil
      Sexual intercourse
If Medical induction becomes necessary, I prefer to try:
      Rupturing membranes
If my water breaks before I go into labor, I would like to:
      wait 6 hours before being induced.
      Upon arrival at the hospital, I prefer to have my partner with me at all times.
      Please, no residents or students attending my birth.
I request the following people to be present during my labor and/or 2nd stage labor:
      My Partner: Tim Bishop
      Possibly a doula
      I prefer to give birth in a birthing room.
      I prefer to give birth in room with a shower and/or bath.
If birth equipment is available, I would like to use:
      A birthing bed.
      A birthing ball.
      A birthing tub/pool/shower.
      A birthing stool.
Miscellaneous environmental requests:
      I would like to have dimmed lights.
      I would like control over the thermostat in my birthing room. For my last birth I had it at a comfortable 52 degrees no joke. (They don't call it labor for nothing!) Bring your winter coats nurses!
      I will need multiple ice-packs.
      I would like for people entering the room to speak very softly and keep whispering to a minimum as I will need full, undistracted concentration once I have shifted from my logical left-brain into my primitive birthing-brain, (right- brain). Please speak softly to me and slowly, using simple phrases to avoid disrupting my labor-trance and concentration.
      I would like to play music.
      I would like to wear my own clothes during labor and delivery or be naked if I prefer it at the time
      I would like to have my birth photographed.
      I would like to have my birth filmed/videotaped.
      I would like to wear my glasses or contact lenses unless removal becomes medically necessary.
      I would like to have no restrictions on food or fluids during my labor.
      I prefer to have no IV.
      Please do not offer me pain medications. Instead, offer me the encouragement I need to get through this labor drug-free. On that note- I would prefer to only work with labor nurses who themselves have had a drug-free, vaginal birth if they are available at the time. I've found that their labor techniques and assistance are the most helpful to me. 
I am prepared to try to handle pain with these natural and alternative methods:
      Breathing techniques.
      Distraction techniques.
      Deep (or guided) relaxation.
Other considerations :
      Ultimately, I want to be able to walk around and move as I wish while in labor.
      Ultimately, I would like to feel unrestricted in accessing any sounds of chanting, grunting, or moaning during labor.
      Please keep my door always closed during labor.
The Big Push:
      Even if I am at 10 cm and the midwife or Dr. feels it is time to start pushing, I prefer to honor the natural signals of my body and wait until I have the natural urge to push. I learned from my previous birth, (which was disrupted by my doctor who forced me to start pushing at only 8 centimeters) that pushing just because you are 10 centimeters, but without the urge to bear down, will be less effective and more tiring. " Without vaginal examinations telling them they should be pushing, women will continue laboring until the urge arises." - Birthing From Within p.139
      If pushing for more than several hours, I am open to medical intervention in 2nd stage labor.
I would like to be encouraged to try the following different positions for labor:
      Classic semi-recline.
      Hands and knees.
      Standing upright.
      Side Lying.
      Whatever feels right at the time
      I prefer not to have an episiotomy.
To help prevent tearing, my husband or doula may apply olive oil to my perineum and check out this link on giving a proper perineal massage instead of an episiotomy. 
Other labor considerations:
      No stirrups please unless I'm having a medical emergency.
      If intervention is needed for an assisted vaginal birth, I prefer vaccume suction
      I would like my partner to catch my baby, (if he is ready and willing at the time)
      I prefer to have the lights dimmed for delivery or, if it is daylight, to access only natural light.
After Baby is Born:
      Delay cord clamping until it stops pulsing.
       No Vitamin K and Hep B vaccines
       As long as my baby is healthy, I would like my baby placed immediately on my abdomen           following the birth.
      Please put my baby skin-to-skin on my abdomen with a warm blanket over it.
      Please delay all essential routine procedures, (for the first hour) on my baby until after the bonding and breastfeeding period (i.e., bathing).
       I will be bringing a supply of cloth diapers to the hospital with me. Please only use these on my baby from the very first time she is diapered. I also will provide a sanitary wet bag in which to place all the soiled diapers for laundering when we return home. 
      In the event of a medical emergency where a C-Section is necessary:
      My partner(s) is(are) to be present at all times during the c-section.
      Ideally, I would like to remain conscious during the procedure.
      I would like the baby to be shown to me immediately after it's born.
      I would like to have contact with the baby as soon as it is possible in the delivery room.
      We would like to photograph or film the operation as the baby comes out.
      If possible, please discuss anesthesia options with me (including morphine options).
      I prefer a low transverse incision on my abdomen and uterus and the double layer stitching method for stitching me back up. 
      If my baby is healthy, I would like to hold my baby and nurse it immediately in recovery.
      I would like to sign any waivers necessary to permit me to be with my baby in recovery.
      As long as my baby is healthy, I would like my partner to be the babys constant source of attention until I am free to bond with it (i.e., holding, skin-to-skin contact, etc.).
      Please discuss with me what I can expect to feel immediately following the procedure.
      Please discuss my post-operative pain medication options with me before or immediately following the procedure.
      Please allow my partner to cut the umbilical cord if he desires.
      I would prefer for the placenta to be born spontaneously without the use of pitocin, and/or manual extraction and please don't try to show it to me I'm not interested. :)
      If the baby has any problems, I would like my partner to be present with the baby at all times, if possible.
      I would like to have routine newborn procedures delayed until bonding and breastfeeding have occurred.
      I would like all newborn routine procedures to be performed in my presence.
Administration of Eyedrops:
      I would like my baby to be administered eyedrops after the bonding period if necessary.
      I prefer any immunizations be postponed to a later time.
Bathing Baby:
      Please bathe my baby after we have had time to bond with it.
      I would like him circumcised.
Other circumcision options:
      Please use a local anesthetic.
      Routine PKU Testing right away.
      My baby is to be exclusively breastfed.
      I would like to see a lactation consultant as soon as possible for further recommendations and guidance.
Do not offer my baby the following without my consent:
      Any artificial nipples.
      Sugar water.
If my baby's health is in jeopardy, I would like:
      To be transported with my baby if possible.
      My partner to go with the baby.
      To breastfeed or express my milk for my baby.
      To have no time restrictions with my baby.
      To have as much bodily contact with my baby as possible.
      To be offered a room at the hospital for the duration of my baby's stay (within reason).
I would like my in-hospital routine to be:
      Rooming in with my baby.
Other hospital preferences:
      I prefer a private room.
      I prefer to have my partner stay with me for the duration of my hospital stay.
      I want privacy during my stay and for my guests to limit the time they are visiting me.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Our Toy System

Recently, I had a few other mommies over to my house for the first time for a craft group for kids that I lead.
Upon entering my house, one of the first things one lady said was, "Are you kidding me? " And I thought, "Now what did I do?"
She went on, "Tell me your house isn't always this neat and organized?" I smiled and said, "Well most of the time it is, but only because I'm super anal and hate any sort of clutter lying around..."
"But where are all his toys? I mean, are these all that he has?" she asked pointing to my 8-cubby hole Ikea shelve in the family/playroom.
"Oh no, " I replied, "I will show you his toy closet, we just rotate toys on a weekly basis."
I saw the enlightenment on their faces. It's a simple system really and keeps my house clutter free while also teaching my son how to pick up after himself, respect for his toys, gives him a sense of order and excitement for each new week when "new" toys are brought out. I adopted this system from a few Montessori classrooms I have worked in during my pre-school teaching years and I will never look back. I am certain that this is a great system for our family and keeps everyone happy.

The main rule is that the only amount of toys allowed out at one time must fit in an organized way in one of the 6 cubby holes on the shelf. (Books and the musical instruments have top toy priority in our home so they remain on the shelf forever.) :) Four of the cubbies are used for four toys of Aiden's choice and the two top left cubbies are saved for games, puzzles and learning toys such as the wooden patterning beads pictured here. I think it's important for there to be a variety of toys available at all times to children as you would find in any quality pre-school classroom. Toys like his legos, cars, or garbage truck just let him use his imagination. Books for obvious reasons, musical instruments for creative expression, and one motor skill enhancing toy set like the Lakeshore ball and ring set for more interactive play when other kids come over. There is a space for art with construction paper, markers and crayons always available, (and not always supervised which surprisingly enough has never resulted in crayoned walls as I explained the rules of where we color and where we don't extensively.) At the beginning of each week, (usually on Monday nights) I take most of the toys off the shelf and replace them with "new" toys from his toy closet where everything is kept in categorical clear plastic bins on a big shelf system.
Art/ block area

Each basket has a theme

Some who are not used to such a system may think that this can't be enough things to keep a three year old happy all week but I'm here to tell you that it does. If you observe children, do they really play with more than 6 different toys at one time? No way, they usually focus on one at a time and then move onto the next. Plus if mommy is involved then the attention life-span of the toy of the moment is drastically lengthened and the learning toys and games are truly being put to use. Most experts on child-rearing agree that by a certain age kids need order and a schedule in their day. It doesn't have to be the same each day but there should be some sort of rhythm to all the chaos of life. Same goes for their things. There needs to be a home for everything when you ask them to pick up their toys but more importantly not an overwhelming amount of stuff lying around so that cleaning up the play space seems like an insurmountable task to a young child. This will just result in YOU picking up all the mess and robbing the child of learning how to do things for himself. 
When I see play spaces with an overwhelming amount of toys, I see children who are stepping on their books or toys in order to get to another toy and not learning the important lesson of treating one's things with respect and care. I see a very mindless and scattered approach to play in which the child takes out one toy and begins to play with it then quickly gets distracted by another toy nearby and leaves the first toy in the dust without putting it back where it belongs and without ever appreciating it fully. Suddenly the entire room is filled with the mess of a ton of toys pulled off their shelves, scattered around that have not really been played with and the space is chaos. Then the child gets bored with it all and doesn't know what to do. Free space equals more creativity with toys in my mind. So it's very important to provide this to kids so that they have the clarity of their minds to be creative with their things instead of rushing around from one thing to the next. "Tis a gift to be simple..." (Why not throw in an old choir lyric for good measure?) :)
Hopefully with our new addition to our little family we can still somewhat keep up the organization of the toys but I'm sure it will be much harder as we will have a whole new ballgame of more girly toys to add to the collection...and eventually one more big item like a play kitchen. 
As for the ladies of my craft group, they asked me to maybe do a little group presentation on organizing your home to the entire mother's group but since I'd rather have all my teeth pulled without drugs than speak in public, I told them I'd do a blog post instead. :)