Thursday, October 13, 2016

Henry's Great Outdoors Neutral Nursery

I had the itch to get Henry's nursery finished 3 months before his due date. I'm glad we did because he came 2 months early and his nursery probably never would've been finished. This is Finn's old room, next to ours. Guess where Finn is now? In the basement, in his big boy room. So far away from his mom, ***tears. He actually likes it down there, it's dark, cool and away from his crying brother. So ya, he's not too upset about the move.
For Henry's nursery, I wanted the colors to be neutral and earthy. And I wanted to have an outdoor theme, big surprise. We went with a National Parks, great outdoors theme. We recycled some of Finn's things like the dresser, book shelf, crib and wall moose mount. Details below:

crib: Amazon
chair: World Market
Rug: Urban Outfitters
book shelf: Ikea
Wolf book ends: DesignAtelierArticle
Moose wall mount: Z Gallerie
National Parks Prints: Anderson Design Group
Crystal Mobile: Urban Outfitters
National Parks Map: handmade, inspiration here
Pom Wall Hanging: Handmade
Ottoman: Handmade
Dresser: Ikea
Changing Pad cover: handmade
Salt Lamp: Amazon
Blanket: Handmade, fabric purchased from Spoonflower

Monday, June 13, 2016

Henry Wilder: A Birth Story

Henry Wilder came into this world with a bang. He wasn't expected for 8 more weeks but something in me knew he wanted out well before I was even showing pre term labor signs. He was very active since I could feel him in my belly at 16 weeks along. Constantly moving, flipping, kicking and wiggling. Hence his middle name "Wilder." He was just ready to come and nothing and nobody could stop him.

Disclaimer: if womanly fluids, blood/gunk or labor talk isn't your jam then you may want to pass on this read.

This story starts on the Sunday before I went into full blown labor. I was 31.5 weeks along and woke up with some bleeding and was a little concerned but not too much, I just thought it was my mucus plug passing. I've heard you can lose it well before you go into labor so I just went about my day. The next morning at 4 am I started to feel some mild contractions. I had been having braxton hicks contractions that were fairly regular since around 20 weeks so I instantly knew these were different when I could feel they were stronger and much lower in my uterus. Then I passed a blood clot and the worry set it much more. I called my doctor and he said to come in so we went to labor and delivery, they checked me and I was already at 3 cm and 50% effaced. After a long discussion we decided it would be best to start me on steroids to help develop the baby's lungs in case he came early and they also started me on a drug called indocin to help stop the labor temporarily for 48 hours to get both doses of the steroid. The great thing is they monitored Henry the whole time and his heart rate was always so strong, it was never a concern which was a huge relief. I stayed in the hospital for 2 days and the contractions stopped and the bleeding mostly stopped as well so they sent me home and told me to take it easy.  My doctor gave me a prescription called Terbutaline and told me to start taking it if my contractions picked up again. Things were looking good for a couple days until I woke up again on Friday morning at 32 weeks along with regular mild contractions. I read about Terbutaline and felt very uneasy about taking it but I took a dose anyway and started having very strange reactions. I decided it wasn't good for me or Henry to be taking it so that was my last dose. It didn't work anyway because by that evening we knew we needed to go to the hospital.

We arrived at the hospital around 8:00 pm back in the exact same triage room I was in only 4 days earlier. It seemed like deja vu and I remember thinking, I just can't go on doing this for 2 more months, I really felt he was just supposed to come. I don't remember being afraid, maybe a little worried but I felt that Henry was so strong and he'd pull through just fine. So they checked me and I was already at a 6 and about 80% effaced. He was coming for sure now! They gave me another drug to help stall labor a bit because every day he stays in there would be a little more time to grow. That drug did not work either, he had a mind of his own. While we were in triage a nurse from the NICU came down to talk with us about what we will expect with having a baby this early. We knew 100% he'd have a nice lengthy stay in the NICU and we had to mentally prepare for that. I honestly couldn't remember a single thing that nurse told us, it was all a little shocking at that point.

 At around midnight I was still at 6 cm and they set me up to labor in one of the labor and delivery rooms. I knew without a doubt I wanted to have an unmedicated birth. No pain meds, no epidural, nothing. I had a not so wonderful experience with pain meds when I had Finn and I vowed never again. For the first 2 hours or so I had regular contractions and they were strong but not too painful at that point so Noah and I tried to get a little shut eye. By about 2 am they were coming on a bit stronger, but still not terribly uncomfortable. The wonderful thing about going natural is you don't have to have a catheter and you can drink as much water as you want. The downside is you have to pee a lot so I had to get up, unhook from the machines and go pee every half an hour or so. I woke Noah up to help me and sat down on the pot and looked at Noah's face, it turned white and he said "I think your water just broke." I in turn said "no way, I just really had to pee." Well Noah was right because the nurse came to check me right after and my water had indeed broken and I was about 7-8 cm dilated. The contractions were getting much stronger now and I spent the rest of my time laboring on the birthing ball rocking from side to side and hunching over onto the bed during the contractions. The funny thing is in between contractions it was like no bid deal, I was cracking jokes and Noah would make some snide remark and we'd chuckle. But during those contractions it was crunch time, I had to focus and breathe. I didn't do a lot of preparation for a natural labor but I had practiced a few relaxation and breathing techniques and those came in handy. I really focused on relaxing my whole body during contractions and visualized my birth canal opening so the baby could come down. Also the horse lips were my go to, try tensing your body while doing horse lips, not possible. Noah was a great birth coach, I forced him to read some books about birthing and coaching and I'm glad I did because he was a huge help in getting me to focus and cheer me on. By about 3:30 I was going through transition and this was the hardest but the shortest part of it all. The contractions were right on top of each other and they were very strong and uncomfortable but I powered through and then the nurse checked me and I was at a 9! She said since the baby was so small I could start pushing if I wanted to. I started getting the shakes really bad, I'm not sure if it was nerves, adrenaline or what but I was shaking uncontrollably to the point of annoyance. I think I even said at once point "this is way annoying" and the nurse and doctor just laughed.

Just before 4 am they wheeled me into the operating room (I had to deliver in the operating room because they have a window that goes right into the NICU to pass the baby through.) I remember it being very white and sterile, not the most idyllic place to bring your baby into the world but whatever, I just wanted him out that this point. My doctor wasn't able to make it but the doctor on call was so great. She was so sweet and attentive and I'm glad it was her that helped bring Henry into the world. I pushed for what seemed like forever but was only a few minutes. Pushing was hard, I don't think my body was ready to push yet since I wasn't fully dilated. I never felt the urge to push I just went for it and I think next time (if there is a next time) I want to take it slow and steady and let me body tell me when it's time to push because the whole thing seemed somewhat forced. His heart rate had been super awesome this whole time but I think it started to dip down just a bit and that's why they were so antsy about me pushing. Like I said it was hard but it was so awesome being able to feel him come down. I didn't get to feel that with Finn because of the epidural and I felt bummed afterward, like I didn't get to experience the whole birth or something. I know I sound way hippie but I like to feel in control of everything that's going on with my body. I felt little Henry's head crown and that's when I felt the ring of fire that everyone talks about. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be but there was definitely some stinging. The thing is it was all so quick I didn't even have time to process the pain. I do remember saying while I was pushing that I couldn't do it. But everyone was so encouraging and told me to keep pushing and he was almost there. Another couple pushes and at 4:05 am he was out! He started crying instantly and was such a little firecracker. I got to see him and touch him really quick, Noah cut the cord and then he was off to the NICU. They let Noah come back right away and be with him which was a huge relief to me. He was 4 pounds 3 ounces and 16.5 inches long and was so beautiful, even covered in vernix. I delivered the placenta and the doctor took a look at it and noticed a small tear which must have caused the bleeding. I'm not sure if this is why I went into preterm labor but it's a possibility. The second he was out, my body instantly felt relief and I was back to chatting and joking right there in the operating room. I felt like a million bucks, something that took me weeks to feel after Finn. I had heard that you feel so much better right after if you give birth naturally but I was really surprised at how awesome I felt. I was up and walking around 10 minutes after and I felt emotionally and mentally all there which was a big difference from last time as well. Also I didn't tear or need an episiotomy which I was so relieved with, probably because he was so tiny. So all in all regarding the whole natural unmedicated birth, I'm 100% on board and would do it again in a heartbeat. It was all so worth it!

Before I went up to my room they took me to the NICU so I could see my precious boy. He was already hooked up to all the monitors and in his little incubator. He never needed oxygen and was breathing room air since the beginning which is so huge for a 32 weeker. We were so happy but not all that surprised cause again, he's such a strong kid and we knew it before he even arrived. I spent a day in the hospital and we decided that I felt good enough to go, so we packed up and went home, but not for too long because our precious boy had to stay so we went back later that day to visit him. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do to leave my baby boy there. But I know he needs to grow and develop more. I never in a million years thought I'd have a baby in the NICU and it has been quite the learning experience for me. I've had to learn to be more patient, because I mean nobody wants to leave their baby at the hospital for weeks I'm sure. I've had to learn to ask and accept help from others, I may just be the most independent, self sufficient person I know but with Henry being in the NICU I've had to let all that go and ask for help with Finn so I can go be with Henry for a few hours a day. It's been hard but I think it's good for me. And most of all I learned once again that God is in control, he has a plan for everyone and this is part of His plan. We want to be in control so badly and think we have everything planned and mapped out but then something like this will happen and it's a tugging reminder that we just have to let go and let Him work in our lives the way He sees fit.

We love our Henry boy so much and can already see such a sweet little personality in him. He's so calm and gentle, all the NICU nurses love him because he's so easy going. We go over every day and help change his diapers, take his temperature, do skin to skin and practice nursing. My favorite part of my day is when I get to snuggle my boy for a couple hours. He instantly nuzzles in and sleeps on my chest. We've taken Finn to see his little brother a few times and it's so fun to see them together. I don't think Finn really understands at this point but I think once we get Henry home, Finn will be able to feel the different dynamics and I'm sure he'll catch on and bond with his baby brother. So overall Henry's doing so great, he's growing and tolerating his feedings so well. We just can't wait to get him home with us.

It's surreal to me that I have two boys now. We just love them both so much, they both are so special in their own way and I can feel their little spirits so strong. I don't know why God has entrusted us to be their parents but I truly feel honored.

. . . . .

Friday, May 6, 2016

Finn + Bump Update

It's been a long time since I've updated on Finn so I think we're due. He just turned 4 and I honestly can't believe I have a 4 year old. These last 4 years have gone by quickly yet I look back at his first year of life and it feels like a lifetime ago. I've been dwelling on that first year a lot lately, maybe because we're about to welcome a new baby into the world or maybe because of his birthday, who knows. That first year was hard, really hard. Doctor and specialist visits a few times a week, endless crying (on both our ends), and constant fear and questioning. It seems like once we hit that year mark things started to smooth out and we caught our breath, thank goodness. The crying spells stopped, after countless amounts of tests we didn't find anything out so the testing stopped, and we stopped doubting and living in fear. We decided to let Finn be Finn and just love the heck out of him, and that made all the difference in the world.

At the beginning of this year it seems like the fear started to settle in again. We have been worrying a lot about his weight after a few doctors mentioned he's extremely underweight and there has been a lot of talk of a feeding tube (G tube). The tube would be surgically placed in his belly and he would get liquid supplements a few times a day along with eating orally. We have been going back and forth wondering if this is the right thing for Finn and us. Many parents say it's really not a big deal and it's actually a huge lifesaver but for whatever reason we just haven't felt good about it for Finn and for us. We got so scared we upped his daily calorie intake, pumping him full of high caloric foods. Finn got so sick. He stopped eating and refused anything we gave him. He seemed miserable all the time and started having meltdowns (flashbacks to his first year of life, eek!) He had always been such an incredible eater up until now so this really scared us. Hence, more fear.

After weeks and weeks of this battle I'd had enough. One night at 2 am as I was putting Finn down to bed (ya, still a wacky sleep schedule at this point) I broke down. I had a long, tearful chat with Finn and with God about how we were done. We were done living in fear, it's just not us and it's not what God wants for us. I felt like I wasn't me, I was never fearful when it came to Finn and his "condition", I've always been so accepting of everything. I wanted to feel like myself again and I wanted my good eater, happy boy Finn back. The next morning I felt so much better. I fed him a normal breakfast, free of 500 calories of dairy and peanut butter, and within the next few days things started to get back to normal. I felt like a could breathe again and I got my happy boy back. Sigh of relief.

Finn's weight is still something we are aware of we are just focusing on it in a different way. After visiting multiple nutritionists and dieticians we came to the conclusion with their help that Finn is very much ok. A feeding tube is not necessary at this point and we just need to be thoughtful of the things we put into his body to help him get all the nutrition he needs. Another sigh of relief.

This whole ordeal taught me a lot. First and foremost I need to trust my instincts. Noah and I know what's best for Finn because we are with him everyday. God has instilled in us a special radar so we know what Finn needs and doesn't need (most of the time). And because he's non-verbal this really comes in handy and we NEED TO USE IT. Doctors are wonderful and we have some pretty incredible ones in our corner that we're so grateful for, but we have to use our discernment along with their advice.

Once that was all over we decided to tackle the sleep issue. He hasn't slept well in over three years so I bought a book titled "Sleep and Your Special Needs Child." One thing they stress a lot in the book is routine. So we started enforcing a strict bedtime routine for Finn and let me tell you, he's been sleeping like a dream, knock on wood, please please please don't jinx it. This has been going on for over 2 weeks now so we're crossing our fingers it sticks.  It's been an answer to our prayers, especially with a new baby coming in 2 months. We need our sleeeeeep!

So other than all that Finn has been doing great. We've kicked therapy into overdrive and started taking him to Shriner's Hospital and we have an incredible therapist there who has been teaching us so many wonderful things to help Finn with his strength. He's standing so great, with our help of course and he's loving all his equipment. We also have been taking him to a holistic doctor and they have given us some natural supplements to clean out his gut and keep his brain healthy. He has been a new kid! He's so aware of his surroundings, looking around and taking everything in. He's babbling nonstop and saying new words and sounds like dada. He smiles at us now and is just overall a happy guy. Not everyday is perfect but he has so many more good days than bad at this point.

Also school is going so great. I was so so so scared and almost didn't put him in preschool. But now I'm thinking it's the best thing ever. He goes twice a week for a couple of hours, he gets all his therapies there and they keep him super active. It's a mixed class with special needs kids and regular kids and it brings tears to my eyes when I see the other kids interact with Finn. They just love him and accept him for exactly who he is. And his teachers and therapists are so wonderful with him. It's been such an amazing experience.

We haven't done much more testing at this point. We thought about doing some genetic testing last year but decided to hold off since insurance wouldn't cover it. Finn's auntie Ruth raised some money for him last year when she ran the Boston Marathon and we were thinking of using that money to do the testing but decided against it since we could use it for much more important things like equipment, a wheelchair and specialists that aren't covered under insurance. Also a huge thank you to everyone who donated last year, we are truly grateful.

This is already a very long post but I figure it doesn't happen often and I should get it all down now. If you're still reading you're seriously a trooper, hats off to you!

So, baby number two. Yes it finally happened and unplanned too by the way. But now that it's happened I'm really happy about it, it's just time you know? I've been so much more in tune with this baby and pregnancy for some reason. Maybe because he's the second so I kind of know what I'm getting myself into and I can relax a little more. But I've just really felt a connection with him and I've been thinking a lot about how I want to bring him into the world. I'm really excited to give birth to him and see him for the first time.

I hate to say this but I feel like we were somewhat robbed of the new baby experience with Finn. We had a lot of issues from the get go and I really struggled with baby blues and coming off of the epidural and pain meds. We're shooting for no meds or interventions this time around (for my sanity) and hopefully it pans out. We loved Finn obviously but he was our first child and he had special needs unbeknownst to us at the time. It was just a real struggle and took a while to bond with him. Now we can't get enough of him and feel like we might eat him at times, he's just so darn sweet and amazing.

The thought of having another child with special needs like Finn has come up. Because Finn doesn't have a diagnosis we don't really know if his condition is genetic. But if it is we have a 1 in 4 chance of having another like him. To be honest we don't dwell on it a lot. Whatever happens will happen and I really feel at peace with it. From the beginning of my pregnancy I was never really worried about it so that must be a good sign right?

It's probably about time I wrap this up, hopefully I'm better at updating especially once the baby comes. Mostly for my sake, to have these experiences and thoughts in a place where I can go back to read and dwell on them. My pregnancy hormones have made me very contemplative and deep. It's funny actually, and so unlike me. But we'll roll with it.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Loretta: Travel Trailer Reno

A few months back Noah and I were discussing things we can and can't do with Finn. Because of his disabilities, we are limited with the kinds of activities we can do with him. As he gets older it will probably become even more difficult. One thing we can and love to do with Finn is travel. But because traveling can get expensive we thought a little camper might be a good investment so we can take Finn on adventures without spending all the money on hotels and lodging. After a few weeks of stalking Craigslist we finally found the perfect little 13 foot Scotsman trailer from 1975. The moment I saw her I was in love. We named her Loretta after the sweet little old lady we bought her from. I wasn't there for the trailer purchase but she told Noah story after story about her family's adventures in this little trailer. We can't wait to add to those adventures.

She was in rough shape when we first got her. The exterior isn't terrible so we will probably wait until next spring to dive into sprucing that up. The interior was super outdated and dingy but her bones were strong and in pretty decent shape. And I might add, the whole trailer had a sunflower theme, clearly 70's right? It all had to go. Here's the low down of the updates and renovations:

  • We started out with replacing the ceiling. It had some water damage and was old and brittle. 
  • We then repainted the walls and ceiling white (Great White Way at Lowe's) to give it a nice clean feeling.
  • We also repainted the kitchen and storage cabinets white.
  • The floors were a greenish vinyl and we covered them with a vinyl wood plank flooring from Home Depot, it's inexpensive but looks like laminate and is super resilient, perfect for a camper! We used Traffic master allure in Dark Walnut
  • For the front walls we wanted to add some wood paneling as an accent wall, we threw around a lot of ideas to do this but ended up using the same vinyl plank flooring we used on the floors except did a lighter wood color, called Pacific Pine. I am super happy with how it turned out. Real wood would have been super bulky and heavy but these thin planks went up super easy and it looks real and natural.
  • For the kitchen we wanted to keep it simple and clean. We used peel and stick subway wall tile (Smart Tiles purchased from for the backsplash which was super easy and looks like real subway tiles. 
  • We replaced the drawer knobs in the kitchen with some simple mid-century brass pull handles, purchased from Etsy.
  • The sink, stove and hood were a dark green and we spray painted them with Rustoleum High Heat enamel spray in copper, I absolutely love the copper look.
  • We kept putting off the counters because we didn't know what to do with them. We finally decided to do a cement overlay. We followed this tutorial and I love how it turned out, super clean, modern and industrial. 
  • The seat cushions I was totally dreading. I was not feeling sewing all those covers so I didn't. We bought new pads from Home Depot and I recovered them with an upholstery fabric from (got a great deal). We got a thin board backing to put behind the foam pad then wrapped the fabric around (kinda like wrapping a present) and then stapled the fabric to the wood backing. I don't think it will last forever but by the time they're worn out I'll probably be ready to change the fabric anyway. 
  • For the final details: southwest pillows were purchased on Ebay, Squirrel pillow from Ikea, and skull head pillow from Home Depot. The long body pillow I made from a southwest style saddle blanket. I made the furry seat pads on the two ends of the couch from fur fabric and cushions from Ikea. We put up pull shades purchased from Ikea. The wall shelves are actually Ikea's spice racks we stained and then put in faux greenery. The rug on the back wall is from Urban Outfitters. The floor rug is from Ikea ($3.99!!!) We purchased the deer head, vintage first aid kit and Pendleton hat from Ebay. Lighting is from Home Depot.

It took us about 2 months to renovate little Loretta. We (mostly Noah) put so much time and effort into updating her in a way that felt like us. We mixed a lot of different styles but we love how it turned out and it feels like our mini home. We can't wait to take her out and make many memories with our little family. And most of all we hope this is something we will be able to share with Finn for many years to come.