The Vanderhorst Family

The Vanderhorst Family

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Become as a Little Child

I was reading my scriptures a couple days ago and come across a famous scripture mastery (Mosiah 3:19). At the end of the scripture it says we need to put off the natural man and "becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love..." I actually laughed out loud when I read that. Not because I don't want to be submissive or meek or humble or patient or full of love, but because all of these attribute apparently exist in children...they exist in my little toddler, Andrew. They exist in my little baby, Hailey. And I thought "hmmm...I don't know if submissive is a word I would use to describe Andrew...children are submissive? Especially to their parents?" and "Hailey is supposed to be patient? Children are patient?"

I decided for the past couple of days to really observe my children and see how each of these attributes exist in each of them, and what I can learn from them. I've also pondering and studying this principle the past couple of days and now I better understand what it is this scripture is saying. I've been amazed at what my children have taught me.

Let's start with Andrew:

I think there is nothing more "natural man" than a toddler who still can't fully express himself, yet has a lot of emotions that he needs to get out. I think he's been getting frustrated that he understands a lot, but can't say a lot. It's like a missionary who can understand the foreign language of his mission, but can't yet communicate back to his investigators--how frustrating would that be!

But here is what I've learned from Andrew. He is the most forgiving child I've ever met. He never holds a grudge against me for taking away a toy, or a grudge against Hailey for accidentally scratching him with her little nails. Sure, he throws an impressive tantrum at first, but it's not like he is mad at me for the rest of the day, and he doesn't lash out at Hailey for an accident. After he's over it, he's over it and moves on. How often have I held a grudge? Yes, I can be more like my little boy and forgive and move on.

He is incredibly meek and humble. He is very willing to learn, and loves reading books with me. He points to things in his book and I say what those things are, and he is willing to recognize that he has things to learn and is eager to work on them with me. How often to I think I don't have anything more to learn? Am I as humble as I need to be--especially when the Lord is trying to teach me something?

Andrew is also full of love and has the gift of empathy. If Hailey is crying, he is usually the first one to respond by running over and putting her binky in her mouth. If I'm clipping my finger nails, he comes over and starts yelling at me because he things it hurts me (he hates having his nails clipped). Am I full of love and do I try to empathize with those around me?

Next is Hailey:

Hailey smiles at everyone! She is a very social baby and is not stranger shy. She can brighten anyone's day by smiling at them. How often do I look people in the eye, smile, and say hi? Can I be nicer to strangers around me?

She wants to look at either me or Grant as she's falling asleep and cries out for someone when she first gets up. Girl cannot fall asleep on her own yet. As long as she can see either me or Grant, she will fall asleep. Of course, all babies cry for someone when they first wake up. How often do I make sure that I check in with my Heavenly Father before I go to sleep? When I say my prayers in the morning, do I cry out to Him and depend on Him, or do I forget to rely on him and go about my day without him by my side?

Children come with their challenges--Andrew throws tantrums over small things (like any normal toddler), and if Hailey is mad she will most definitely make sure you hear about it (like any normal baby). But I've noticed that I've been happier and more patient with my children as I've tried to learn from them and noticed the positive qualities that they possess.

When you become a parent, you think about all the things you need and want to teach your children, but don't forget about all the things they can teach you. You'll be surprised at what you find :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tribute to Working Moms

This morning I "woke up" and felt like I got run over by a dump truck.

I got about 90 minutes of solid sleep last night. The other 6-ish hours were spent laying on the floor next to Andrew's crib holding his hand, because that's the only way he would sleep. I went back and forth between his crib and Hailey's pack-n'-play in our bedroom, because she was having a rough night too. At one point I was holding Hailey and nursing her while sitting on the floor and holding Andrew's hand as he slept. 

I'm sure my zombie-like appearance this morning was amusing and somewhat terrifying to my sweet husband, who took the kids while I could get a few more minutes of sleep while he got ready for work. Then at 9 am, both the kids and I were about to lose it, so we all laid down for about an hour nap. 

That's when it hit me--what the heck do working moms do when they don't get sleep the night before?! 

I mean, I guess you could take a sick day every once in a while, but those nights that you're up with the children seriously all night come way more often than any amount of PTO. 

I thought to myself how grateful I was that I didn't have to rush in the morning to get ready for work while trying to feed children and get them dressed for the day. I'm grateful that it's 2 pm and no one judges me for still being in my PJ's without any makeup on. 

I can take a nap during the day while my kids rest, while working moms push through the tiredness and continue at their jobs.

When do working moms:

~Find time to take their kids to doctor's appointments? I can never get Andrew scheduled for a Saturday appointment, so they would have to leave work early to get their kids to appointments.
~Find time to clean apartments/houses? Or not even time, just energy! Being a wife and mom is my full-time job, but doing those things on top of a job? How!
~Find time to grocery shop?
~Find time to unwind?
~Find time to cook?

The list could go on.

In the midst of all the mommy wars that seem to go around the internet about who is more busy or who's job is more noble and one-upping each other, blah blah blah, I just wanted to write a post from me, as a SAHM (stay-at-home mom--took me forever to figure out that acronym), to all you working moms. Seriously, I really admire how well you keep your kids and families together, and how you never stop working (whether it's at home or in a professional setting). I know us SAHMs stay plenty busy too (so please, no mommy wars here!), but I just wanted to take a moment to appreciate all the women that get 90 minutes of solid sleep, and then put on their makeup and do their hair and go out into the world and appear presentable and functioning without the chance to get a nap in during the day. Or catch up on laundry. Or clean. Or cook. Or grocery shop. To all you women, I salute you! 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

My Journey with Postpartum Anxiety

As I've been going through this experience I've had a really strong impression that I needed to share my experiences. Not so much because I have a lot of advice to offer, but more-so because I feel like this topic among new moms is very hush hush, which actually makes this situation worse for anyone who struggles with it.

How often do we ask a new mom how she's doing or how she likes being a mom, and she replies with "I'm doing good! I LOVE being a mom!" Of course, this is probably an accurate statement. But then the conversation often moves on to her baby and how cute he/she is or how well they are sleeping or eating or whatever, and the mom could really be thinking "Um, I know I'm supposed to love being a mom, but this has been REALLY HARD!" 

Postpartum anxiety is a very real hardship that many moms face, yet it is hardly ever talked about because moms feel like they need to bounce back to normal.

That pressure to bounce back to normal life is totally how I felt when Andrew was born. First of all, I was a first-time mom so I didn't really know what to expect as far as postpartum emotions go, and second of all, I had to return to work within 6 weeks while finishing up grades for the term ending that next week, answering emails or phone-calls of students or parents freaking out, all while my son was struggling in the NICU for 3 weeks. I had no choice but to suck it up and just go into survival mode and do what I had to do. I often look back on that time and think "How on earth did Grant and I get through that?" We were both exhausted and trying to just push through the end of the school year that I didn't really have time to process any emotions or really deal with them. It wasn't until Andrew was about 4 months old when I had time to breath, look back, and think "Wow! That was really hard!" But I don't really remember feeling super anxious or depressed during that time simply because I kind of blocked out all those emotions.

With Hailey it has been quite a different experience. The postpartum anxiety hit me the minute we dropped Andrew off and I headed to the hospital. Seriously, I would be in labor and get tears in my eyes and look at Grant and say "I hope Andrew is ok! Do you think he misses us? Do you think he's doing ok without either of us there?!" I never feel this way when I leave him with a babysitter, but my emotions were already jumping all over the place and Hailey wasn't even out yet. OF COURSE HE WAS FINE! I learned afterwards that he was just his charming self, cooperated just great, and wasn't ever really sad. He did JUST FINE without me there :) But in my mind this was a very real concern of mine. That little incident was just the beginning. The following is a list of only some of the things that I worried about in the course of my anxiety (I can actually laugh about some of these now)

1. Breastfeeding. To my credit, I did have a few hardships going against me, but really, those first 2 days in the hospital I worried constantly about whether or not I'd be able to make breastfeeding work this time around.
2. SIDS. Oh my gosh. I was up every 20 minutes for about a week straight just making sure that Hailey was still alive. She had no reason to die from SIDS! We always put her on her back, I was swaddling her, she had a binky, we've been nursing, there is nothing else in her pack-n-play bassinet except a fitted sheet, we have good air circulation, blah blah blah. She's fine. She's been fine. She will be fine. And yet I still thought every single night that I would wake up 10 hours later to find her dead in the bassinet next to our bed. It was awful. It was a really vicious cycle though because that same week Hailey wasn't sleeping very well at night anyways, so the more tired I would get the more tired I got the more anxious I got, and then the less sleep I got because I would be getting up to make sure she was still alive. There were a couple times when I would jump out of bed and frantically look around the apartment trying to find Hailey, and the whole time she was right next to our bed. It was seriously horrible. 
3. I had a dream once that my mom got cancer and died a week later, and also had a dream that Grant didn't want to be married to me anymore. My anxiety even creeped into my subconscious!
4. I was worried that Grant would get shot on the metro on his way home from work.
5. I was worried someone would come take Andrew and Hailey while I'd be walking out to the car with them.
6. I was worried that someone would come and shoot me in front of Andrew and Hailey while walking out to the car.
7. I was worried that I would drop Hailey when I would carry her around the apartment.
8. I ALWAYS worried about all these random, horrible things that would happen to either Andrew or Hailey. Really, they were kind of ridiculous scenarios, but in my mind everything was a real threat to their safety.

(As a side note, I think numbers 4, 5, and 6 were also heightened by watching WAY too much Law and Order).

These are just a FEW things I worried about--I was constantly anxious about something. I would be on the verge of tears a lot of days, and Grant could tell I was not happy. Many times I would be beside myself with angst and fear.

I realized a couple weeks ago that something REALLY needed to change. I started taking practical steps to take care of myself. 

~I tried to get a nap in every day. Sometimes this wasn't always possible because one of the kids would be up, but as soon as both kids were asleep, it was time for bed. I had to leave my apartment a mess, dinner unmade, and clothes unfolded, but I knew that I needed to get some sleep or else I would be anxious about everything.
~I made sure I ate and drank enough water. This might sound selfish, but I made sure that I got food before I fed Andrew or Hailey. I felt like I couldn't properly take care of them unless I took care of myself as well, and I knew it wouldn't happen unless I got fed first.
~I tried to shower or take a bath every day. I hardly did my hair or makeup, but bathing or showering was one way that I was able to relax. 
~Opening up and talking about it. I reached out to my mom and mother-in-law, my sister-in-laws, and friends in my ward to see if they struggled with the same things and things that helped them. I also talked to Grant a lot about it. Even though he's never been there before, I still felt like I wanted to talk to him about my concerns. Grant was always so good to hear me out, and the thing he did that was most helpful is he just listened to my concerns and also validated them, and then would reassure me. He didn't try to reason with me or laugh at me (though I'm sure he wanted to when I told him about things that made me anxious), and he never told me I was off my rocker (even though I felt like I was). He just held me, listened to me, validated my emotions, and reassured me. It was the most helpful thing any person could do.
~Tomorrow is the first day that I'll be able to exercise, and I have NO DOUBT that will help! To quote Legally Blonde "Exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins make you happy! Happy people just don't kill their husbands (or in this case worry they will get shot on the metro)...they just don't." 

Taking these practical steps was really helpful, but it wasn't until last Sunday that I really felt a lot of peace come to me.

It was fast and testimony meeting in our ward, and our Bishop shared a scripture from the New Testament. It's in Luke 10:38-42 and it says "Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her."

Tears streamed down my face as I realized that I was being like Martha. I had good intentions (like I'm sure Martha did. If the Savior were in my home I'd be cleaning and serving too!), but I realized that I only had a limited amount of worry to go around, and I was spending it worrying about things that were insignificant or incredibly improbable. I began focusing more on those things that mattered most: spending time with my children, making sure they knew I loved them, and connecting with the Lord every day through prayer and scripture study. I could feel Heavenly Father's love during that sacrament meeting as I knew that everything would be ok. 

Don't get me wrong, I still will sometimes check to make sure Hailey is breathing and I still take plenty of precautions, but it's getting better. I know there is always an option to get medication as well, but for right now I will continue what I've been doing because it seems to be working. If you're struggling with postpartum anxiety, know that you're not alone, you're not crazy, and there are people who are willing to listen and help.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tongue-tie/lip-tie/high-pallet/short tongue issues

If you are pregnant or nursing right now and still having difficulties, this is something you'll definitely want to read.

Tongue-tie/Lip-tie/High-pallet/Short tongue is a pretty common problem for many breastfeeding moms, and yet for some reason, the majority if the medical field (or even those in the lactation field) do not know about this issue, or often shrug it off as something that you and your baby will "grow out of." After dealing with my own frustrations with both of my kids, and hearing friends and close family members deal with the same thing, I wanted to write a blog post about this to raise awareness of these issues and to give support to those struggling with this, because chances are they aren't finding much support anywhere else.

What is it?

If you hear any of those phrases, it can mean a few different things. Either your kid has a tongue-tie, or their upper or lower lips are tied. This means there is a tendon that is connecting the lips to the gums, or that there is a tendon right below the tongue that attaches the tongue to the bottom of the mouth. See pictures below:

This is a tongue-tie

This is an upper-lip tie. Notice how if that is not cut back that it can cause a gap between the upper two teeth once they come in.


How to tell if your child is lip or tongue tied?

Make sure your baby is lying on their back. To check a lip-tie, see if the center of either lip resists moving out (or flanging out). You can also move your finger along both the top and the bottom gums to see if you can feel the frenum attached.

For a tongue-tie, you can lift the baby's tongue up to see if there is a frenum attached, or move you finger below the tongue to see of the frenum is attached. You can also put your finger in their mouth to see what their sucking motions are like. If they are able to consistently have a good, deep "suck suck suck suck suck" motion, then you're probably ok. If you notice that they do a "suck suck chomp, suck suck chomp" motion, then they are having a hard time always moving their tongue completely out of their mouth because it is tied back.

What are the effects of tongue or lip-tie?

There are a few--if left untreated, a severe enough case of tongue or lip-tie can effect the way the teeth come in once your baby gets teeth, and it can also cause some speech impediment issues.

The biggest effect though is on nursing. Here are some ways that it can effect both mother and baby:

~cracked, blistered, bleeding nipples
~clogged ducts
~discomfort while nursing (there will be some discomfort for the first 2 weeks of nursing. After that you should not be feeling pain while nursing except for maybe the first 30 seconds if that).
~decrease in milk supply

~reflux or colic
~difficulty latching
~chomping on nipples
~poor weight gain
~makes clicking noise while sucking
~excessive drooling
~choking on milk or popping off the breast to gasp for air

You and your baby may not have every single symptom, and a few of these symptoms (especially in baby) are just symptoms of being a baby.

What can be done?

There is a procedure that can be done called a frenectomy. Most offices use a laser to cut the tie, but some offices use scissors. It is important to note that after the procedure is done you need to massage the area where the procedure was done for about a week after to make sure the frenum does not reconnect.

Until you can have the procedure done, these are some things that helped:

~Whenever I nursed, I used a football hold. I read somewhere that this position was easier for kids with a tongue or lip tie, and although it was still painful, at least the pain was manageable.
~I recommend pumping once a day. This helps make sure that your milk supply stays up, it can give your nipples a break from being chomped on, and the chances of mastitis decrease because you are draining your breasts at least once a day. This is not a professional recommendation (since I'm not a lactation consultant and they tell you to not pump the first 6 weeks), but I'm telling you, I would have died if I didn't pump once a day. I KNOW my milk supply would have decreased and I know that I was reducing the chances of an infection by making sure my breasts were drained at least once a day. And don't worry about nipple confusion. If your baby is full-term, they are usually able to go between bottles and breast pretty easily.

Most people that do this are either oral surgeons or pediatric dentists. Here are just a few tips from my own experience:

If the office says they need to sedate your infant, they obviously have no idea what they are doing. This procedure does NOT require sedation for such a young person, and to be honest there aren't a lot of nerves on the frenum at that age, so it does not hurt your child in any way.

There is a scale for how severe a lip or tongue tie is. The scale is from 1-4, where 4 is the most severe. In the eyes of the academic community, a 4 is no question--they would do the procedure. A 3 would be a recommendation. A 2 or a 1 they usually leave alone. Usually if your child has a severity of a 1 or 2, it shouldn't have a huge effect on your ability to nurse.

I'm usually not an advocate for "patient is always right" mentality, but in this case, I most definitely am. The reason?

For whatever their reasons, the medical community gives very little support to mothers who deal with this issue. Many brush it off by saying that "your baby will grow out of it." This is a half truth: your baby will grow out if it AS LONG AS THE PROBLEM IS FIXED! A high pallet will be fixed by breastfeeding, but only after a frenectomy is performed.

Also, the medical community seems to really only care about how your baby is doing. This past week I took my daughter in to be examined, and the oral surgeon said that she didn't seem to be struggling because she was gaining weight just fine. It's true, she has been gaining weight just fine, but she still has a shallow latch which makes it incredibly difficult and painful for me to nurse.

I don't understand why they are such butt-heads about this procedure, but they totally are. It takes them 2 seconds, they are making money off of it, and it will make your life easier to nurse. I really don't see what the big deal is.

Hailey was both tongue and lip-tied, but her tongue-tie wasn't as severe (even I thought it didn't need to be snipped. Andrew on the other hand had a really severe tongue-tie, and once it snipped it made feeding for him so much easier).

Hailey's lip tie was more severe though. The thing that kills me is I really had to convince them to cut it. They didn't want to because she was gaining weight just fine and they weren't convinced that it would help. It was 2 male oral surgeons, so they brought in a female oral surgeon for another opinion. She said the same thing. I asked her if she was a mom, to which she replied yes. I then asked her if she breastfed, and if so if it hurt her. She said it did for the first week or so, but that it was normal. Finally I told her that it is NOT normal for me to still be in pain when my daughter is a month old. She shrugged it off and said that she would grow out of it. I just thought to myself "oh really?! Tell that to my sore and cracked nipples!" I finally determined the only way to convince her was to show her my nipples. I did, and she said "Oh! Ya that definitely is not normal! I can't promise the us cutting the lip will help, but we'll go ahead and do it just to see." Guys, I had to show this woman my nipples to convince her how bad it was! And guess what--it totally worked. Hailey is doing great! Her latch is much deeper now because she can flange her lips out like she should, and I've noticed that she's more relaxed when she eats and not swallowing as much air.

If you are still in pain after the first few weeks of nursing, you may want to look at the tongue and upper lip. If you see something (it's pretty obvious to tell if it's tied), then for heaven's sake get it snipped! You may have to do some convincing, but this is one case where I believe the patient is right. No one knows how painful nursing is but you. Stick your ground, get the frenectomy done, and I promise it will help!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Hailey's Birth Story

Going into this pregnancy, I was really determined to go naturally, and was really hoping that I could avoid pitocin at all costs. Those of you who've been on pitocin can understand why--the contractions are always super close together (even during early labor), so you don't really get a chance to recover in between contractions when they get more intense. 
However, I wasn't anticipating all the complications that came along with this pregnancy. The many labor scares that we had started to take an emotional toll on me, especially because Grant was always at work when they happened, so I usually had to go to the hospital by myself. That, along with the side effects of the progesterone shots made me very anxious to be done with this pregnancy. 
At first, my plan was to wait 10 days past my due-date to be induced, just to see if things would start naturally. Around 37 weeks though, I hadn't felt Hailey move around for a few hours, so I went to the hospital to see what was going on. She was fine, but after doing an ultrasound, the doctors saw that the chord was wrapped around her neck. She was already head-down, but the doctors thought they knew which direction to turn her to get the cord unwrapped (especially since it was only wrapped once). They determined that they would try to turn her around 360 degrees and see if they could unwrap it. If not, we needed to start thinking about the possibility of doing a C-section, especially since she hadn't moved for a while. They really didn't want to do this, especially since I was 37 weeks and they were wanting me to go to 39 weeks if at all possible. After having 2 grown-men resident doctors pushing with all of their force on my stomach, and with the guidance of my OBGYN looking at the ultrasound while they were pushing her around, they were able to get the cord unwrapped. While relieved, that was also the straw that broke the camel's back. Emotionally, I couldn't handle the scares anymore, and just wanted to be done with this pregnancy and have Hailey here. I asked the doctor's when we could schedule an induction, and they said at 39 weeks, so we set it for that Wednesday. After setting it up, my doctor said that all of her patients that have had progesterone shots have always made it to their due-date, but they have all had to have scheduled c-sections. I was the first of her patients to not have a scheduled c-section, but she said her guess was I'd probably go past my due date, and end up having to be induced anyways. Part of me thought it'd be cool to make history with her and see when my body would go into labor on it's own, but with pitocin sounding like the inevitable, I decided to just go at 39 weeks instead. There were also lots of small reasons why we decided to schedule Hailey's birth: being far from family, setting up childcare for Andrew, Grant's hour-long commute from work, and all the pregnancy scares we had leading up to her birth, we thought it was best for our family to have a not-so-dramatic labor.

On Tuesday night, the 15th, Grant and I went into the hospital. We were going to spend the night there as they put some medicine on my cervix to try to dilate and efface it before we started on pitocin. They also started me on the antibiotics for group B strep. At this point, I was dilated to a 1, 50% effaced, and Hailey was at a -3 (still way up in the birth canal). I was able to sleep most of the night, except for when they gave me the antibiotics for the group B strep. They put it through the IV every 4 hours, and it stung SO bad! To be honest, up until the end of my labor, this was the worst part about labor. I dreaded getting those antibiotics because it hurt my arm SO BAD! I was always so relieved when it would be over. Anywho, sorry for the digression.

Wednesday morning at 8 am they checked me again...and nothing changed! I was a little discouraged, but still confident that I could do this naturally--even with pitocin. My labor with Andrew was really fast because I was on pitocin with him, so I figured that this would be fast as well. 

By Noon, my contractions were still very managable, and I was only dilated to a 2, still 50% effaced, but Hailey was now at a -1, so at least she was moving down the canal. At this point, they decided to rupture my membranes, and this is when the fun really started. By 1 pm, my contractions were active labor contractions and were starting to get uncomfortable. By 3 pm, I was dying. My doctor came in around 3:30 pm and said she wanted to check me. Keep in mind, we didn't get to bed until like 1 am, and being interrupted all the time in the middle of the night made it so we didn't get much sleep. I was so tired and so hungry, and all I wanted to do was take a nap and eat jello. I looked up at Grant and just said "If I'm not dilated to a 5, I'm getting the epidural." After going 7.5 hours on pitocin and feeling like nothing was happening, I was kind of done. My doctor checked me, and I was at a 4, dilated 60%, and Hailey was at a 0 position. I just said "OK, I want the epidural." At about 4:15 pm (45 minutes later), the epidural was placed, and I had dilated to a 5. It was the kind where you could still move your legs, and they said it would take about 15-30 minutes to kick in. 
I knew I could handle that, but the downside was I couldn't get out of bed and be in a position where I could best handle the contractions. At this point, I seriously thought I was going to die. With each contraction, I remember looking up at Grant with tears in my eyes and just asking "Why hasn't the epidural kicked in yet?" I was so frustrated because my epidural with Andrew kicked in immediately, and I was just tired and hungry. What made it even more frustrating was the nurse kept asking me with each contraction what my pain level was on a scale of 1-10. She probably thought I was being super dramatic because I told her that the pain was actually getting worse! She just kept saying "You've handled the contractions this far, you can keep doing it." I kept thinking to myself "How is the pain getting worse?! When is this stupid epidural going to kick in?! I'm telling you, these contractions are bad! I can't do this!" Looking back, I felt kind of like a crazy person. I wasn't trying to be dramatic, but I couldn't lie either and say that the epidural was kicking in because it wasn't! I was starting to get frustrated and lose focus.
They called in the anesthesiologist to see what they could do. With each contraction they asked me if I was still in pain, which I screamed yes! Around 4:50 pm, they finally gave me a huge dose of the epidural medicine, and right after I just looked up at Grant and said "I really feel like I need to push." I could feel the nurse behind me just roll her eyes and she said "We just checked you a half hour ago and you were at a 5." I again said that I needed to push, so they checked me, and with astonishment said "You're dilated to a 10 and Hailey is at a +1." I think everyone then realized why I was in so much pain. I had just gone from a 5 to a 10 in 45 minutes, and with an epidural that takes 15-30 minutes to kick in, no wonder I kept saying the pain was getting worse! I felt much more validated :) Also, my lower back was starting to hurt a ton, so they knew that she was really coming down. I think since things were going so fast that the epidural had a hard time keeping up. So at this point, I was complete and could start pushing. The only problem was, my epidural had kicked in, and since they gave me an extra big dose, my legs felt really heavy. I just laughed to myself, and thought "Well, by the books I got an epidural, but that was the most intense, painful 45 minutes of my life. I don't think want to experience 'natural' childbirth." 
Right after they said she was at a +1, I felt Hailey come barreling down the birth canal. I let out a huge grunt and said "Uh, I really need to push. She's coming." The residents told me to not push yet because my doctor was on her way and they didn't want to catch Hailey. They checked me and said "oh, ya she's at a +3 now." 

We started pushing around 5:15 after my doctor got in the room. We tried for about 10 minutes with me laying on my back, but not much was happening. My doctor came in and felt that Hailey's face was up and to the right, so we needed to try to turn her around to have her face-down. I pushed for a few minutes laying on both my left and right side, and then she was finally face-down. With a few more pushes, Hailey's head started to come out. My doctor said the head was half-way out and said "Do you want to feel her head?" I reached down and felt a little head with a LOT of hair! Grant and I just looked at each other and smiled. A few minutes later (at 6:17 pm), our sweet girl was out! Grant and I just looked at each other, both of us with tears in our eyes, as we heard Hailey start crying. They gave her to me directly, and Grant got to cut the umbilical cord. It was so wonderful to be able to do skin-to-skin with her immediately. 
I need to give props to Grant. You know, I didn't think it was possible to love this man more than the day I married him, but then we had Andrew. And then I thought "ok, no way could I love Grant more than I do now." And then we had Hailey. The longer I'm married to him and the more we go through together, the more my love grows for him. Grant was a huge support and cheerleader during labor, and I know that I wouldn't have been able to get through those last 45 intense minutes without him by my side. He encouraged me, supported me, and was just there for me. While I was in the hospital, he took care of everything at home, and took wonderful care of Andrew. I came home from the hospital on Friday night to a clean apartment (even vacuumed!). And on top of all this, Grant took care of finding us a new car this week because our old car almost died a couple days before Hailey was born, but through many prayers has gotten us through this week. Grant is my rock and my best friend, and I'm so grateful I married him.

The next couple days were really difficult for me because it was just Hailey and I in the hospital, and Grant and Andrew at home. Of course they would come visit, but it was hard to not be together as a family. Now that we are home though things feel so right! We are all adjusting to having another little one around. Andrew always smiles at Hailey, but has also been acting incredibly weird towards me. He doesn't like to be around me much anymore, and prefers Grant. I don't know if it's because Grant has been his sole care-taker the past couple days, or if Andrew is mad that I'm taking care of another kid. He's also sick and teething, so that has something to do with it I'm sure. I know things will get in a good routine in a couple months. I'm so grateful for my dear, sweet little kids.

I've had a couple people ask what I'll do in the future with my labor and deliveries. Knowing that with each pregnancy I'll have to get progesterone shots, I'll most likely have to be induced every labor as well. I told Grant that with the rest, I will just get the epidural the same time they start the pitocin, so that way we'll have PLENTY of time for it to kick in :) And I'll just relax, take a nap, and eat as much jello as I want.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Being a Mormon doesn't equal blind obedience: Setting the record straight

I've been keeping my mouth shut about everything that has been going on with recent excommunications from the LDS church. I don't feel like someone else's excommunication is any of my business. I respect anyone's desire to find answers to questions (because I've had to do the same thing in my own life), while also disagreeing with their approach in finding those answers.

But that's not what this blog post is about (so please, let's not make it about that). 

What has been bothering me are some of the comments that have come from supporters of these excommunicated members (such as Kate Kelly), that in a nutshell say that those members who stay in the church are unquestioning, blind followers of the LDS Church leaders. Essentially, we have no brains and cannot think for ourselves. Below is just an example of a comment (one of many, unfortunately) that I recently saw on an article:

"The Mormon Church is losing members at a historically high rate (LDS Church leader Marlin Jensen), and that rate is increasing. This is being referred to as the 'great Mormon brain drain', as the thoughtful, tech savvy, critical thinkers in the church are those leaving in the highest numbers, leaving the unquestioning, faithful followers behind. While many outside the church may view this as a negative trend, it is highly likely that Mormon church leaders sees this as a positive demographic change, leaving them with a much more unquestioning and obedient group of followers."




Here are my 2 main issues with this line of thinking: 

1) It's a low blow and a slap in the face to insult someone's intelligence, simply because they hold true to what they've been taught, and I find it highly unlikely that the leaders of the church fear intelligence and simply want "brain drained" followers.

2) Just because someone is still active in their religion doesn't mean that they haven't had to wrestle with questions, search long and hard to find answers, and in all honesty, still might have unanswered questions.

Let me address this first point:

In Doctrine and Covenants 130:18-19 it states: "Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come." God is encouraging us to gain intelligence of all forms, not just spiritual intelligence. He rejoices when we excel in secular understanding and seek to further our minds. 

In this sense, I do not believe that the LDS Church leaders are thrilled that members are leaving the church--in fact I know that they are deeply saddened and hope for those members to return. I do not believe they want their members to be blind followers either, and they are lovers of intelligence. Look at the occupations of the apostles before their call: We have a renowned physician, a VP and treasurer in major companies, a Utah Supreme Court member, successful businessmen (a couple of which graduated from ivy-league schools), a nuclear engineer, a couple former presidents of a university, a couple lawyers...need I say more? I think they understand the value and importance of intelligence, both secular and spiritual, and absolutely are NOT threatened by it. They have no reason to be.

Just from my own personal experience, I have always found myself surrounded by intelligent people in the church--whether it was growing up in Colorado, going to school in Utah, or living on the East Coast. Currently in my ward, I am surrounded by a bunch of lawyers, accountants, politicians (in both parties, mind you), physicians, etc. Oh ya, and before you think that's just the men in my ward, think again. There are women in my ward who work as accountants, lawyers, one works for the national board of education, one graduated from Oxford with a PHD in Biochemistry...and no, they aren't the minority either. We actually have a lot of women in my ward who work (and guess what, no one judges them either! And they don't judge us stay-at-home moms! I know, it's pretty great) I have genuinely found that my gospel discussions with these people have strengthened my testimony. I look forward to church every week because these hard-working, successful people, look at the gospel in a way that I wouldn't think of. I don't believe you have to be a working professional to have a great mind either. I have enjoyed discussions (gospel or otherwise) with many women in my ward, and really value their opinions and voices. I love going to play-group and talking with the other moms there, and they always have sage wisdom and advice for whatever I'm dealing with at that time, be it mommy issues or anything else. 

I have found being around intelligent people to enhance my testimony and understanding of the gospel.

This leads me to my second point: 

Everyone in the church has questions that they try to find answers to. EVERYONE. EVERYONE! No one is an exception to this. EVERYONE at some point or another will have questions about some gospel principle, something that happened in church history, something about the LDS temple ceremony, something. And guess what--that's ok! Questions are encouraged! 

Personally, I had a few questions about the temple ceremony after I received my endowments a few years ago. That doesn't mean I was doubting my testimony, but I remember having countless conversations with my family, my husband, other women in my ward, saying countless prayers, and reading a lot about the temple. I became a temple worker about 6 months after Grant and I were married, and I really took advantage of that opportunity to be able to ask the temple president questions, other temple workers questions, and gain more understanding for myself. I went through this process for about 2 years. My answers to questions never came as one great big revelation, but I began to see piece by piece. It really was like the scripture 2 Nephi 28:30 "I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little." I'm not saying I have a thorough knowledge of the temple ceremony and everything that goes on in the temple (far from it). I learn something new every single time I go to the temple. 

But isn't that how you gain knowledge in any subject? As a math teacher, I would never expect my students to understand everything there is to know about math all at once. Or if a kid came and said "I want you to tell me right now everything there is to know about math" that would be impossible! Likewise, I can't expect to know everything about the gospel all at once. It takes time. A lifetime in fact. A lifetime of asking questions, of pondering, of reading the scriptures, having gospel discussions, etc. 

This came as a shock to some of my math students, but I remember the very first day of class I said "Even though I'm a math teacher and am prepared to teach you what you need to know, you should know that I'm not perfect, I don't know or understand everything about math, and you will most likely teach me a few things about math that I didn't know." And boy did that come true! I was amazed to see my students think about math in a way that I never had before, and I have a 4 year degree! I got to the point in my mathematics understanding that I have a limited understanding, and that I will never ever understand everything in math (at least not in this life). But that doesn't stop me from asking questions, seeking to gain answers, and moving forward in my understand. Ya, it's a little frustrating when I come upon a concept that I know I'll never understand, but I hold to the knowledge that I DO have. 

And that's ok! Isn't that what the plan of salvation is about? This earth-life is just a snippit of our journey back to Heavenly Father, and we will continue learning in the life after this. But we can't gain understanding unless we ask questions and then do the nitty-gritty to seek answers, and those answers may take a lifetime to come. 

I will respect the decisions of those who decide to leave the church because that is a very personal decision and none of my business, but please return the respect. Just because someone stays active in the church does NOT mean they haven't asked their own questions, gone through their own struggles, are not intelligent, and are following blindly. It's ok to ask questions, it's encouraged to ask questions, and while I'm sad that members are leaving the church, I don't feel like the church is left with a bunch of blind followers and unquestioning minions.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

35 Week Update

How Far Along: 35 weeks! This is uncharted territory for me!
Size of Baby: According to, Hailey is 18 inches and about 5.25 pounds.
Maternity Clothes: Of course! I'm carrying Hailey super low like I did with Andrew, so whenever I wear anything besides leggings or skirts I have to wear my belly-band, but to be honest that doesn't happen too often. The belly-band is just one more layer that I don't want to deal with in this blazing Virginia Summer heat!
Movement: All the time! Thankfully I'm carrying her pretty low, which keeps her out of my rib-cage for the most part, but sometimes she still likes to give me a little jab in the ribs ;)
Sleep:When I can. Andrew gets up around 6 or 6:15 every day, so that's not so fun, but he usually takes pretty good naps so I've been able to catch up on sleep during the day. But it's been at the cost of my apartment being a complete mess all the time and dinner rarely made...
What I miss: Hmmmm, I won't get into specifics because that would take up about 2 pages of typing. I will simply say that I'm anxious for next Thursday because I will officially be 36.5 weeks and will be taken off any and all restrictions (which has taken a bigger emotional toll on me than I thought it'd be), as well as any and all medication, which means that all the symptoms that go along with these medications will be gone as well. Don't get me wrong, I'm very grateful for modern medicine and for the restrictions that have been put on me that has allowed me to keep Hailey cooking for so long, but I'm definitely looking forward to functioning like a normal person again.
Cravings:Vanilla ice-cream with strawberries and chocolate sauce. I have one big bowl every night. This started about 2 or 3 weeks ago and if I could, I would just eat it all the time, but I contain myself until after dinner :) I think Grant and I have purchased more ice-cream in the past few weeks than we have our entire marriage haha.
Aversions: Nothing really--I just can't eat very large meals because there isn't a whole lot of room left in my stomach to put it in :)
Symptoms:  Just symptoms from my medication that I've been taking, but that will all be done and gone next week!
Best Moment: Where do I start?! I've had quite a few best moments. Grant is officially back in town for the rest of my pregnancy, so that's a huge relief! Making it past 34 weeks when Andrew was born was wonderful. I have everything ready to go for the hospital and for whoever watches Andrew when Hailey comes, so we're pretty much all set to go. Once next Thursday comes then I'll be ready to go at any moment and ready to meet our sweet baby girl :) It'll be here before we know it!

35 week belly shot

Sunday, May 4, 2014

29 Weeks

I told Grant the other day that instead of having pregnancy be in trimesters, it should be in quarters. I don't know if this is because I grew up in a family of boys who liked watching sports, and most sports have quarters, so that's what makes sense to me, or if it's because I'm a math person and 40 is not divisible by 3, which kind of bothers me. Maybe it's just the fact that each trimester seems to last FOREVER, so saying that you're in your 3rd quarter or 4th quarter of pregnancy makes it seem to go by faster. Who knows!  I'm going to try to start a revolution though. So, technically, I am at the beginning of my third trimester, but I'm really just one week away from my 4th quarter. See? Sounds much better for some reason :)
How Far Along: 29 weeks.
Size of Baby: According to, Hailey is 15 inches and about 2.5 pounds.
Maternity Clothes: Yep! Wearing looser shirts, leggings, I wear a lot of maxi skirts/dresses, and if I'm feeling particularly brave, then I'll wear jeans with my belly band.
Movement: Hailey is popping all over the place. Her head is also down pretty low (just like her brother), so whenever she gets the hiccups (which happens pretty often), my lower abdomen has a mini-earthquake. The other night when I was laying down to bed, I asked Grant if he thought I drank some gripe water that it would help Hailey's hiccups go away so I could get some sleep. I didn't try it, but I'd be very curious ;)
Sleep: Has been good! My tutoring schedule has slowed down a little bit which allows me to take more naps during the day instead of tutoring during those times, and I am still able to sleep through the night without having to use the restroom. I'm sure that will change soon though.
What I miss:With it being the beginning of Summertime, I really miss being able to wear my normal clothes, and not having to layer so much. Virginia summers are pretty humid and hot, so any extra layer is not a lot of fun. Remind me next time we have a kid to not plan it so I'll be 9 months pregnant in the middle of July--I am NOT looking forward to that!
Cravings: Nothing really, and I'm not as hungry as I used to be. As Hailey grows, there isn't a whole lot of room for anything else, so my appetite has decreased a lot actually.
Aversions: Nothing really--I'm pretty much back to normal!
Symptoms:  Hmmmm, nothing that I can really think of. I mean, you have the typical symptoms of your lower back hurting every once in a while, or your feet being achy, but nothing horrible or out of the ordinary. 
Best Moment: I had a couple best moments. The first one was switching OBGYN providers. I know, it's a pretty bold move to switch so late in my pregnancy, but the old practice I went to was just too big and I didn't really like the doctors there, or the hospital that they delivered at. I switched to a much smaller practice, and I love the hospital that they deliver at. So that was best moment #1! The second best moment is when Grant and I had a chance to go do sealings at the DC temple. Just being in the temple was wonderful, but listening to the words of the sealings (especially of children to their parents) made me so grateful to have Hailey and Andrew in my life, and remembering that I can be with them forever. It was really sweet to be able to sit in the Celestial Room and have Hailey kicking up a storm while we were in there. I only wish Andrew could've been there with us too. The older I get, the more grateful I am that families can be together forever, and the more significant that is to me. Just a cute story about the girl who watched Andrew while we went tot he temple: So we were gone for about 3 hours, and he was asleep for 2 of those hours, so he really only spent 1 hour with this girl while we were gone. When we came home he was happy to see us, and as the babysitter was leaving, he looked at her walking out of the door and started crying! Talk about social butterfly! This kid gets pretty attached to other people--it's really cute!
 Here's the current 29 week belly-shot!

Grant takes the meaning of "belly-shot" to a whole new level :)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

We made it to 24 weeks!

This might not seem like a huge deal to some people, but in the words of Phil Dunphey from Modern Family, "This is actually kind of a grande deal." Read on if you want to know why...
How Far Along: 24 weeks and 3 days.
Size of Baby: According to, Hailey is 12 inches and about 1.3 pounds.
Maternity Clothes: Yep! Wear the belly band all the time, but mostly I'm wearing maxi-skirts. Much more comfortable!
Movement: Hailey isn't spazzing as much as she used to. It's more gentle kicks and rolls and somersaults. Although, I can always count in her to start kicking the heartbeat monitor whenever my home-health nurse checks her heartbeat. Girl likes her space ;)
Sleep: Yep! Andrew was on this horrible habit of waking up at 5 am every day for about a month. It was awful, and we tried everything. Crying it out, putting him to bed earlier, putting him to bed later, adjusting his nap schedule, EVERYTHING! Finally this past week he decided to go back to 6:30. I feel like a new woman. At least he took good naps during the day, so I always got in at least one nap.
What I miss: So, my OB actually suggested that I get in a light walk/cardio 20 minutes each day. It's not as much exercise as I did with Andrew, but I'm grateful  that I can get up and move around a bit more.
Cravings: Nothing really, just super hungry all the time.
Aversions: Again, nothing really. Sometimes if something is too saucy or if I have too much salad dressing on my salad then that can cause problems, but nothing too big.
Symptoms:  So lately my ankles have been swelling up. Lovely, right? I'm drinking a ton of water and make sure to put my feet up as much as I can, but it doesn't really seem to help. Oh well, it's just the side effects of the progesterone shots :) But it's worth it!
Best Moment:Making it to 24 weeks. Let me explain why this is such a big deal. The day after we found out Hailey was a girl, we had another scare as my body started going into labor yet again. They put me on an IV because apparently I was dehydrated (despite the fact that I had been drinking 100 oz of water each day), and they gave me an extra progesterone shot. After being monitored for 3 hours, the contractions slowed down and became irregular and far apart again, so they sent me home. My OBGYN could tell that I was frustrated because I had been taking it easy and drinking enough water, and also getting these progesterone shots weekly. She told me that as long as I could make it to 24 weeks that there was a good chance that Hailey would be able to survive outside the womb. Obviously we are shooting for 37 weeks, but as long as I made it to 24 weeks, we wouldn't have to worry about Hailey not being able to survive outside the womb. She'd obviously have to spend a lot of time in the NICU, but the chances of us losing her were slim. Since that scare 4 weeks ago, things have been going really well. No more scares, the contractions have stayed irregular, and Hailey is looking healthy. The 20 minutes of walking/cardio is really helping with my energy level and oddly enough, it is keeping the contractions irregular (totally counter-intuitive, but hey! It's working!). I'm feeling more and more confident that we can keep Hailey cooking until 37 weeks. I'm sure some of my friends who have gone past their due dates want to give me a swift punch to the face for saying this, but I will cry out of happiness if I make it to 41 weeks. I know, I would be so huge and uncomfortable, but I would so much rather go over by a week or two, than under by a month or 2. We shall see :)