The Birth of Lorelei Charys

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Lorelei Charys was born 3 weeks early on Monday January, 11, 2016 at 3:19 PM. The pregnancy that I had with Lorelei was very different from the pregnancy with Warren. We decided to not find out the gender of baby #2 before delivery, we wanted to leave it a surprise since we found out with our first baby.

The pregnancy with Lorelei, as I mentioned above, was much more difficult than the pregnancy with Warren. I was nauseated the entire pregnancy and I had horrible heartburn. I was also completing my final semester of nursing school and preparing to take the nursing board exam. I weighed much less this pregnancy and had half the energy. You could blame either of these facts on my needing to chase around a toddler when I wasn’t at school or work. Below is a picture of me 20 weeks pregnant with Warren on the left and 20 weeks with Lorelei on the right.

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Towards my 35th week of pregnancy with baby #2 I began having a lot of braxton-hicks contractions. I was completing my nursing preceptorship on the labor and delivery unit , so I wasn’t too worried about going into early labor. Everyone said that I would likely go early because it seemed like the baby had no room to grow.

I managed to graduate nursing school on December 21st, 2016 and take and pass my nursing boards on January 6th, 2016. I took my sister Annie with me since I had to make a 2 hour out of town drive to get to the testing site. That Friday I went in for my 36 week appointment and found out that I was 2 cm dilated and 25% effaced. I didn’t really think anything of it and I figured that I would still have a few more weeks to go before the real thing started. I was wrong.

That weekend I began to have stronger braxton-hicks contractions. They lasted all day Friday and Friday night into Saturday. They tapered off on Sunday and Monday. Monday night at about 2:30 AM I woke up with strong and painful contractions and I believed that my bag of water had a leak in it, like it did with Warren. Tom had just woken up to go to the bathroom, which was an odd time for him to wake up. It’s like his body knew that something was up.

I tried to go back to sleep but was unfortunately unable to. I woke Tom up and told him that I might be in labor. At this point I was still skeptical. My goal was to not go into the hospital until absolutely necessary so that I could try for a natural medication free labor and delivery. At that time, Tom and I both got up and started packing our hospital bag while I was having contractions. I took a shower, got dressed, and put makeup on. I then texted my sister Lauren who is a doula and told her what was going on. Warren hadn’t woken up yet, so we had time to get things ready.

I spent a few more hours laboring at home with both of my sisters present. Warren was my little buddy and did a really good job while I was having contractions. He didn’t seem phased at all. Around 8:30 AM I decided to call the WIC department at the hospital to tell them what was going on. The lactation consultant said that I should come in since my water had likely broken. There is a risk for infection if the baby is not delivered within 24 hours after the water breaks.

My sister Annie picked me up some Starbucks and we packed up Warren’s things that he would need to stay overnight at Nana and Boppa’s house. The crazy thing is that my mom had just undergone a colonoscopy and was told that she could not be responsible for Warren until the next day. Thankfully, my sisters Lauren and Annie were able to stay with Warren at my parent’s house until my dad got home.

Tom and I then grabbed our things and headed to the hospital. I was still actively contracting but not convinced that I was in active labor.

When we got to the hospital I was taken to room 304 where we met our nurse Julie. Julie was absolutely wonderful. The doctor wanted to start me on an IV right away, but I asked if we could hold of until after I was checked to see if I was actually in labor. The doctor came in and checked my status and told me, much to my surprise, that I was already dilated to 7-8 cm. My bag of water did have a leak in it but it was not completely ruptured. The doctor said that it was bulging and she didn’t think it would be long before I delivered. She also told me that if I wanted an epidural I should get one soon because I might not have time later.

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I really wanted to try for the natural labor so I decided to wait on the epidural. I called my sisters and told them that they could come to the hospital and I let my parents know that this was the real thing.

The doctor came back in to check my progress and decided to fully rupture my bag of water. After she did this I somehow managed to decrease to 5-6 cm in dilation. I had never heard of that happening before, so I was a bit disappointed. I continued to labor in my hospital room. The next time the doctor checked me I hadn’t progressed. She decided that she wanted to start me on a small dose of Pitocin to see if that would speed things up. I absolutely despise Pitocin. I had made myself a promise that if I ever needed to get Pitocin again I would get an epidural. Pitocin stinks, period.

I am very strong-willed and chose to wait on the epidural. Once that Pitocin hit my veins I became very uncomfortable. I tried breathing through contractions, but it was no longer possible. I ended up getting the epidural, much to my dismay. In the end I was glad that I did.

Things progressed very quickly after getting the epidural and increasing the Pitocin amount. It seemed like it was only 20-30 minutes between getting the epidural and delivering Lorelei. We aren’t sure on the exact time, but it was crazy fast. All of the sudden it was time to push.

I was experiencing a lot of pressure and some pretty intense back pain. The epidural worked much better than it had with Warren, but I still had about a tennis ball sized area on my back where I felt everything. I started pushing and Lorelei’s head came out really fast. The doctor then yelled for help.

Lorelei was stuck and had shoulder dystocia. I did some reading up on shoulder dystocia after her birth and found out that it is one of the most anxiety provoking situations in labor for doctor’s and nurses. Complications range from post delivery hemorrhage, 4th degree tears, hypoxia of the newborn, and other complications for the newborn. The scariest complication is death to the mother or infant. At the time I didn’t know any of these complications and I tried to stay calm.

A handful of nurses rushed into the room, I knew all of them from completing my preceptorship with them just a few weeks prior. Julie began pushing on my stomach as hard as she could and the doctor attempted to manually turn Lorelei. I had to stop pushing during this time, which is very hard. Thankfully, she was out in less than 5 minutes of pushing when I was able to resume.

The doctor put her on my chest, Julie announced that it was a girl, and the nurses took her away quickly to monitor her. Tom was able to cut the cord and the nurses brought Lorelei back to me. Being a nurse who recently worked on the labor and delivery unit, I was aware of complications to watch for in a newborn. Lorelei began to start grunting and having sternal retractions. These are signs of respiratory distress. I told Julie what was happening and she took Lorelei for monitoring.

The pediatrician was called and Lorelei had to be taken to the nursery for further monitoring. Praise God, Lorelei ended up being just fine and was able to come back to our room within the hour. She had to be hooked up to a heart monitor and oxygen saturation monitor for awhile, but before bed she was able to take it off.

The pediatrician contributed Lorelei’s respiratory distress to her early arrival and her shoulder dystocia. He termed it transient tachypnea of the newborn. In the end Lorelei was just fine and was able to go home within the normal time frame.

Lorelei Charys came into this world on her own time with a little bit of drama. I expected this much with how the pregnancy went with her went. She weighed 6# 11 oz. and measured 19.5 inches in length. We are so in love and thankful to God that she came when she did, and that she is healthy and strong. Welcome to the world sweet, strong, brave girl!

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Cloth Diapering 101

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CLOTH DIAPERING 101

Does the thought of cloth diapering scare you or gross you out? If it does, you need to learn some important facts that might just change your mind.

Cloth diapering is not what it used to be when our grandparents cloth diapered our parents. We no longer use those funny rubber pants, and diaper pins are a thing of the past.

What many people consider to be the biggest benefit of cloth diapering is the cost savings. You can cloth diaper a child from birth to potty training for right around $100-$500, depending on the system you use. The use of disposables from birth to potty training costs approximately $2,000 per child. This means that if you cloth diaper, you can save up to $2,000 per child. You can also reuse and resell cloth diapers, whereas disposables are a onetime use only.

Not only are the cost savings spectacular, but when you use cloth diapers you eliminate mass quantities of waste.

Did you know that when a disposable diaper gets solid waste in it you are supposed to flush it down the toilet and not just throw it away? Read the fine-print on the back of a disposable box and see for yourself. Solid waste in a disposable diaper takes approximately 500 years to breakdown. The chemicals in the disposable diaper preserve the waste.

Those chemicals in the disposable diaper can be harmful to your baby. When you switch to cloth diapering, you remove a vast majority of chemicals that are exposed to your baby. Disposable diapers contain chemicals such as dioxin, sodium polyacrylate, dyes, fragrances, plastics, toluene, xylene, and more.

Benefits of Cloth Diapering:

  • Save Money
  • Reduce Waste
  • Better the Environment
  • Reduce Chemical Exposure
  • Save Water

When you take a look at all of the options for cloth diapering, you may become a bit overwhelmed. I will explain the cheapest way to cloth diaper and also give you all of the other available options.

The cheapest way to cloth diaper will be using reusable waterproof covers and flour sack towels or prefolds/flats. When you use reusable waterproof covers you can reuse them throughout the day, as long as they are not visibly soiled. You will want to have approximately 6-8 reusable covers at a cost of $8-$17/diaper. Flour sack towels can be purchased at Walmart and come in packs of 5 for right around $5. You will want to have 15-30 flour sack towels, prefolds, or flats so that you can go at least two days between washes. Prefolds will cost a bit more, but require less folding and are more absorbent. Flats are similar to flour sack towels but will also cost more.

You can choose to fold your flour sack towels, prefolds, or flats and simply lay them in the diaper. You can also fasten them with a Snappi (rubber cloth diaper fastener with no pins). For newborns-6 months of age I recommend fastening with a Snappi to keep in those extra big messes. I also recommend using a reusable microfleece liner to wick away moisture from baby’s skin.

Other Options:

  • All in One
  • All in Two
  • Pocket
  • Fitted
  • Wool

What exactly do you need to get started cloth diapering? I have put together a list of essentials and also included some other items that you do not necessarily need but may want to consider getting.

Cloth Diaper Essentials:

  • 15-30 cloth inserts
  • 6-8 reusable waterproof covers
  • Diaper pail and liner
  • 2 Snappis
  • 15-30 microfleece liners
  • Tide powder detergent
  • Borax
  • Place to hang diapers to dry

Other Accessories:

  • Diaper sprayer
  • Cloth wipes
  • Essential oils
  • Travel size wet bags
  • Coconut oil
  • Nighttime cloth diapers
  • Other diaper styles
  • Wool dryer balls
  • Disposable liners

Washing Cloth diapers is easier than you might think. If you have a washer and a dryer you can simply treat your diapers like another load of laundry. If you do not have a washer and a dryer, cloth diapers can be washed by hand in the tub or sink. There is also an alternative to laundry machines called the Wonder Wash.

Wash Routine:

Wash on heavy setting in cold water with ½ cup Borax (you want enough water in the washer so the diaper to water ratio makes a stew appearance)

Wash on heavy setting in hot water with ½ cup Borax and a full scoop of Tide powder

Line dry inside or outside, or dry in the dryer on low or no-heat setting. Do not put waterproof covers in the dryer, always hang those up to dry.

What do you do with the diapers in-between washes and how long can you leave diapers before they need to be washed? Diapers can be stored in open pails with a diaper liner. You can use any type of garbage can you like. Diapers should be washed at least every 3 days, but most people will wash every other day. Solids should be knocked into the toilet before the diaper is stored in the diaper pail. If a diaper is very messy, it can be dunked and swished in the toilet while flushing to get rid of waste. A diaper sprayer can also be purchased and hooked up directly to the toilet for spraying off really messy diapers.

Another great fact about cloth diapering is that the poop of a breastfed baby is water-soluble. What does this mean? This means that exclusively breastfed babies do not need to have their dirty diapers rinsed off before throwing them in the wash. The water will break up the water-soluble poop and disintegrate it. This is a huge benefit of breastfeeding and cloth diapering.

Cloth diapers should never have a bad smell to them, especially after washing. If your cloth diapers smell in any way, it is likely that you are not washing them correctly. Inadequately washed cloth diapers can cause problems, like ammonia build up and diaper rash. Cloth diapered babies are actually less likely to get a diaper rash as compared to babies who use disposables.

Tough stains can be removed from cloth diapers by laying wet diapers out in the sun to dry. The sun naturally destroys stains. You can even “sun” your diapers in the winter months.

Why I Chose My Family Over My Career

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Today I made the decision to put my family, and my dear son, before my career. This decision wasn’t hard for me, but at the same time, it also wasn’t something that I could just brush off.

To give a little background on my situation, I have been going to college for just around 7 years. I have a degree in Health Care Administration with a business minor and I am finishing up my degree in Nursing. I have wanted to be a nurse for as long as I can remember. I feel like nursing is something that I am being called to do.

I took a semester off of nursing school so that I could deliver my son and spend the first few months of his life devoted to him. I made the incredibly difficult decision to go back to school this fall. I have 3 semesters left in the nursing program, and I know that I need to finish. I am so close, I cannot simply give up now. At the same time, I do not want to miss any moments with my son or future children.

Since I am finishing up my degree, I thought that it would be a good idea to put some feelers out and see what the job market looks like. I applied for a job as a Health Unit Coordinator/CNA at the hospital in my town. The position is on the OB floor. My dream job is to be a labor and delivery nurse, so I knew that I had to apply for the position.

Before I applied for this position, my husband and I had decided that I would stay home, raise our children, and not go back to work until all of our kids were in school. I didn’t think I would hear anything back about the position because OB jobs are difficult to get. Surprisingly, I did hear back and I got a phone interview. One hour after the phone interview, they called me back and wanted to set up an in-person interview with the hiring director. I accepted the interview.

I spent the rest of the night feeling completely lost and torn. This job would be a great opportunity to get my foot in the door and gain experience working in OB. The job would also mean that I would need to be away from my son 3 extra days a week, on top of school. My heart was so heavy at the thought of being away from my son more than I needed to be.

I believe that I have been called to be a nurse, but above all, I have been called to be a wife and a mother. I am the one who is supposed to raise my children and be their main caretaker. I am the one who is supposed to be there for them when they are sick and need extra snuggles. I want to be there when they take their first steps. I want to teach them everything that I know about life and the Lord and Savior. It is my responsibility to nurture and protect my children. I am a mom, and to me that is so much more than just a title.

I know that it will not always be easy to be a stay at home mom, but I know that I am making the right decision. I will always put my family before my career, even if that means giving up an opportunity to pursue my dream job. No job is worth more than being present in my son’s, and future children’s, lives.

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The Case for Children

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Children are a blessing from God. “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” -Psalm 127:3-5 ESV

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If children are such a blessing from the Lord, why do we judge others who have a lot of children? Why do we, as a society, tend to look down on families who have children close together? These questions have recently been weighing on my heart and I felt that I needed to address them.

I just found out that one of my friends is pregnant with her second child. Her first child is around 8 months old and she is now around 10 weeks pregnant. When I learned of this news my heart was happy and I felt much joy for their expanding family. Unfortunately, not everyone sees children as a blessing, especially when they are so close together.

People may think, why would they do something like that? Why would they want to have another baby so soon? Shouldn’t they try and space out their children a little more? In my opinion, no. As the above scripture states, “children are a blessing from the Lord.” We should celebrate the life of every child.

There are so many families in the world who want desperately to have a child of their own, yet we place judgement on those who choose to have many children. Why is this? Why is our society so concerned with what other families do or do not do? If the Lord decides to bless you with children, you should be happy and thankful.

It saddens me that so many people see children as a burden or a financial responsibility that isn’t worth the investment. There is no reason that people should feel ashamed for wanting to have a lot of children. I understand that there is a natural limit to the number of children a family should have, but this should be decided by God, not by society. Do I think that families should try to have a cheaper by the dozen kind of family, no, but I do believe that they should trust God in his provision on the amount of children that they will have the privilege to raise. If God’s plan for your family is to have 7 children each within a year of each other, than so be it. Will it be hard?, yes, will it be demanding?, most definitely, but will it be rewarding?, without a doubt.

We need to start looking at children in the way that God intended them to be viewed. I once read a quote that went something like this, “children are a sign from the Lord that the world is meant to continue.” I want people to stop judging others, and instead, celebrate life.

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But Won’t My Baby Choke? All About Baby-Led Weaning

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A lot of people have been curious about how we have decided to go about introducing solid foods to Warren. I thought it would be a good idea for me to write a blog post so that I can explain what we are doing, and hopefully help more parents learn about baby-led weaning.

Baby-led weaning is all about letting your child be the leader in introducing solid foods. Food becomes a form of play and experimentation. You watch for certain cues that let you know that your child is ready to explore solids. The baby-led weaning method recommends starting solids around 6 months of age, but if your child shows readiness to start exploring foods before 6 months, go for it. Every baby is different. You need to make sure that you watch for true signs of readiness.

False signs of readiness:
waking at night
weight gain slowing slightly
watching parent’s eat
making lip-smacking noises
not going straight to sleep after milk feedings
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True signs of readiness:
baby can sit up with little to no support
baby can reach out and grab things and take them to his/her mouth quickly and accurately
baby is gnawing on toys and making chewing movements
baby starts to put food into his/her mouth himself/herself

Warren started to show true signs of readiness around 4 months of age. Pediatricians don’t recommend starting solid foods before 6 months of age, but with baby-led weaning you are not making the switch from breastfeeding/formula feeding to solid food, you are simply letting your baby explore different tastes, textures, and sensations. You give your child the chance to learn that food is good and that food can satisfy their hunger. It takes awhile before your baby will ingest any food.

Since Warren started to show true signs of readiness relatively early, we let him have small pieces of whatever we were eating to “chew” on around 4 and 1/2 months of age. He didn’t actually “eat” anything until a few days ago. I am still exclusively breastfeeding Warren, but I am giving him the opportunity to explore food at his own pace. When he gets closer to the 6 month mark, we will start offering foods more frequently. Right now I offer Warren anything that I am eating, except for foods that aren’t recommended for babies. I let him grab the food himself and put it in his mouth if he wants to. I never force Warren to put anything in his mouth.

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Foods to avoid:
whole nuts or other foods that are choking hazards
salt
sugar
foods with additives or artificial sweeteners
raw honey
raw bran and bran products
peanut butter and other products containing nuts
tuna (high in mercury)
animal milk
sweetened drinks
caffeine

Your baby can have anything that you are eating, other than the foods that are unsuitable for your baby (see list above). Make sure to offer a balanced selection of foods and give your child the chance to choose what they want to eat. If you are concerned about any foods in particular, or if you have a history of food allergies in your family, introduce these foods slowly and monitor how your child reacts. Most babies who do baby-led weaning will avoid foods that later on in life they end up being allergic to.

Foods that Warren has tried:
Tomato
Strawberry
Cucumber
Banana
Avocado
Green beans
Peas
Nectarine
Pancake
Carrots (raw and cooked slightly)

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It is very important that you let your child explore foods on their own. Breastfeeding provides all of the nutrients that your baby needs. Your baby does not need any other food to get the essentials that help them grow, until they are closer to the one year mark. Food should be used as a compliment to breastfeeding, it should not replace it. If you go about introducing solids with the mindset that your baby is already getting all of the nutrition that they need from breast milk (assuming you are breastfeeding exclusively, formula-fed babies will be different), you will not look at food the same way.

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Mealtimes will not become a battle because you won’t be trying to force your child to eat something that they don’t want or need. Parent’s who do baby-led weaning tend to feel more relaxed about the feeding process because they have the reassurance that breast milk will provide the essentials. Use food for learning and exploration, not for providing nutrition. As your baby grows, food will slowly become more of an important part of your baby’s diet. Your baby will transition from exclusively breastfeeding, to exploring foods while exclusively breastfeeding, to actually eating foods while continuing breastfeeding, to finally weaning off of breastfeeding and using foods as the single source of nourishment. The key is to let your child make the transition when they are ready.

Another concern that many people have confronted me about is their fear of choking. Almost every single person who asks me about baby-led weaning says to me, “but what if your/my baby chokes,” or “won’t your/my baby choke?” Much to everyone’s surprise, babies who do baby-led weaning are actually less likely to “choke” on food or have issues with choking in the future. These babies become more confident eaters who know how to handle their food in a safe way. They learn that if they put too much food in their mouth, it will make them feel uncomfortable and they will need to cough or gag to get it out.

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Gagging and choking are related, but they are two different things. Here are some excerpts from the book “Baby-Led Weaning” by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett:

“BLW doesn’t make choking any more likely than spoon-feeding – and may even make it less likely.”

“Often worries about choking are based on seeing babies gagging on food and confusing this with choking: these two mechanisms are related, but they are not the same thing. Gagging is a retching movement that pushes food away from the airway if it is too big to be swallowed. The gag reflex may well be a key part of babies’ learning how to manage food safely. When a baby has triggered this reflex a few times, by putting too much food into his mouth or pushing it too far back, he learns not to do it. He will simply outgrow the tendency to gag.”

“Being allowed to explore food before it goes into their mouth teaches babies important lessons about what’s chewable and what isn’t. The relationship between what we feel with one part of our body and what we sense with another is something that can only be learned through experience. So, for a baby, feeling a piece of food in his hand and then putting it in his mouth helps him to judge how easy different sized pieces of food are to chew and to move around with his tongue. This may be an important safety feature, preventing him later from putting pieces which are too big to be chewed into his mouth. Learning from the beginning how to deal with foods with different textures may also make babies less likely to choke.”

You can purchase this book on Amazon. I would highly recommend it for anyone who wants to try baby-led weaning. The book really breaks down everything and explains the method in an easily understandable manner.
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When preparing foods for your baby with baby-led weaning, you want to focus on making the foods easy for baby to grab and put into their mouth. You want to avoid foods that baby can choke on, such as whole nuts. A good idea is to cut any food that you are eating into “finger-like” shapes so that baby can grab them and still have some food available to put in their mouth. Never force the baby to put anything into their mouth or eat anything that they do not want to eat. You want them to develop a healthy relationship with food.

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Babies who are introduced to solids through baby-led weaning tend to have fewer issues with choking, be less picky eaters, be more adventurous with foods, and do not usually have fears associated with foods.

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Imagine Every Baby in Cloth

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As most of you already know, I have made the switch to cloth diapers. Not only are cloth diapers great for your baby and the environment, they are also absolutely adorable, easy to use, and will save you a ton of money! In order to fund my new cloth diaper addiction and spread awareness about the awesomeness of cloth, I have become a consultant for Imagine brand diapers! If you are interested in learning about cloth diapers, how you can get started, or you want to purchase your own stash, please contact me and I can help you get started. You can also use the link below to purchase diapers through me!

Please use this link to purchase diapers: http://www.imaginebabyproducts.com/?AffId=448

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Imagine has great diapering options for super affordable prices. They offer diaper covers in various colors: indigo, marigold, snow, raspberry, flutter (butterflies), emerald, rawr (dinosaur) and trumpet (elephant). You can purchase covers on sale for $8.95 right now. Other options are All in ones (AIOs), All in twos (AI2s), pockets, and fitteds. Every option is very affordable. Please see my last post on cloth diapers for a break down of the different types of cloth diapers, or email me at hoeftam@gmail.com for more information on the different types of cloth diapers. 🙂