Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Great Baby Food Debate.

Now that all of our babies are either at or nearing four months, I thought I'd ask my fellow mommies opinions on cereal. When are you planning to start your little sweetie on solids? Are you starting with cereal, or just going to mashed up solids? Are you going with store-bought or homemade?

I'm reallllllllly leaning towards putting off solids until six months. I love breastfeeding, and Ava has no complaints either, particularly now that I've given up dairy, so I don't see why I can't continue to exclusively breastfeed until she's at least six months.

Here are some of the benefits, and the argument for postponing solids until at least six months of age, per Kelly Mom, an absolutely terrific source of information for the breastfeeding mother:

Delaying solids gives baby greater protection from illness.
Although babies continue to receive many immunities from breastmilk for as long as they nurse, the greatest immunity occurs while a baby is exclusively breastfed. Breastmilk contains 50+ known immune factors, and probably many more that are still unknown. One study has shown that babies who were exclusively breastfed for 4+ months had 40% fewer ear infections than breastfed babies whose diets were supplemented with other foods. The probability of respiratory illness occurring at any time during childhood is significantly reduced if the child is fed exclusively breast milk for at least 15 weeks and no solid foods are introduced during this time. Many other studies have also linked the degree of exclusivity of breastfeeding to enhanced health benefits.

Delaying solids gives baby's digestive system time to mature.
If solids are started before a baby's system is ready to handle them, they are poorly digested and may cause unpleasant reactions (digestive upset, gas, constipation, etc.). Protein digestion is incomplete in infancy. Gastric acid and pepsin are secreted at birth and increase toward adult values over the following 3 to 4 months. The pancreatic enzyme amylase does not reach adequate levels for digestion of starches until around 6 months, and carbohydrate enzymes such as maltase, isomaltase, and sucrase do not reach adult levels until around 7 months. Young infants also have low levels of lipase and bile salts, so fat digestion does not reach adult levels until 6-9 months.

Delaying solids decreases the risk of food allergies.
It is well documented that prolonged exclusive breastfeeding results in a lower incidence of food allergies. From birth until somewhere between four and six months of age, babies possess what is often referred to as an "open gut." This means that the spaces between the cells of the small intestines will readily allow intact macromolecules, including whole proteins and pathogens, to pass directly into the bloodstream. This is great for your breastfed baby as it allows beneficial antibodies in breastmilk to pass more directly into baby's bloodstream, but it also means that large proteins from other foods (which may predispose baby to allergies) and disease-causing pathogens can pass right through, too. During baby's first 4-6 months, while the gut is still "open," antibodies from breastmilk coat baby's digestive tract and provide passive immunity, reducing the likelihood of illness and allergic reactions before gut closure occurs. Baby starts producing these antibodies on his own at around 6 months, and gut closure should have occurred by this time also.

Delaying solids helps to protect baby from iron-deficiency anemia.
The introduction of iron supplements and iron-fortified foods, particularly during the first six months, reduces the efficiency of baby's iron absorption. Healthy, full-term infants who are breastfed exclusively for periods of 6-9 months have been shown to maintain normal hemoglobin values and normal iron stores. In one study, the researchers concluded that babies who were exclusively breastfed for 7 months (and were not give iron supplements or iron-fortified cereals) had significantly higher hemoglobin levels at one year than breastfed babies who received solid foods earlier than seven months. The researchers found no cases of anemia within the first year in babies breastfed exclusively for seven months and concluded that breastfeeding exclusively for seven months reduces the risk of anemia.

Delaying solids helps to protect baby from future obesity.
The early introduction of solids is associated with increased body fat and weight in childhood.

Delaying solids helps mom to maintain her milk supply.
Studies have shown that for a young baby solids replace milk in a baby's diet - they do not add to baby's total intake. The more solids that baby eats, the less milk he takes from mom, and less milk taken from mom means less milk production. Babies who eat lots of solids or who start solids early tend to wean prematurely.

Delaying solids helps to space babies.
Breastfeeding is most effective in preventing pregnancy when your baby is exclusively breastfed and all of his nutritional and sucking needs are satisfied at the breast.

Delaying solids makes starting solids easier.
Babies who start solids later can feed themselves and are not as likely to have allergic reactions to foods.

All of these seem like valid arguments to me, not to mention that continuing to exclusively breastfeed is:

*convenient (no cereal to mix, meals to be home for, etc)
*a great way to use up extra calories!

As far as the baby food goes, I think I've mentioned before that I intend to make Ava's baby food at home...anyone else planning to do this? Anyone with experience with this that can suggest some helpful resources?

Mother's Milk Bank.

You know how I feel about my milk, friends. Pure and simple, it's liquid gold. There is little as valuable around this household, and surely nothing as valuable in our freezer (nope - not even the tequila that's begging me to make a 'rita right now!).

So when I realized I might not be able to use it, seeing as how it's from my dairy days, I wanted to cry. Well, first I wanted to scream, and THEN I wanted to cry. This is coming from the same woman who will literally tap every last drop from the collection containers to make sure that absolutely NONE is wasted, and I know you breastfeeding mamas out there feel me on this.

Anyhow, not wanting to be wasteful and feeling more charitable than usual lately, I decided that if Ava couldn't use it, another baby should get to, and I put a call in to the Mother's Milk Bank of Austin. If you don't have a local Milk Bank, it basically is a storage center where those mothers with surplus milk can take their excess, and mothers with sick or premature infants that are in need of breastmilk and cannot get it from their mother for whatever reason can take a prescription and get milk for their infant. It's a beautiful premise, is it not? It's 100% sanctioned by the health department, with all donors being screened for diseases and such, and just a great way to help out if you can. Not to mention how much it would hurt my heart to pour that milk down the drain. I grimace just thinking of it. Anyways, I left a message with the milk bank indicating my interest in donating, and got to counting the ounces in our freezer. You have to make an initial donation of 150 ounces, which sounds like a ton to me, so I wanted to make sure that I was able.

Are you ready for this?? I have over 300 ounces of breastmilk in there, and this is as of two weeks ago!!!! Holy cow! No, literally, I am a dairy cow. Geeeeeez. I guess my supply issues are gone, and my milk hoarding has paid off. Woooo-hoooooo.

Back to the milk bank. The director, a nice (ish) woman named Kara called me back, and went through some screening questions with me. I was just about to be cleared for donation, feeling quite good about myself, when she asked me if I took any prescription medications on a daily basis. Why, yes, I told her. I suffered from severe PPD initially and continue to take my Zoloft on a regular basis. I thought nothing of it, seeing as how it's breastfeeding compatible and my lactation consultant said it was 100% fine for Ava, but apparently the Milk Bank has stricter standards.

Yep, they turned my milk away. And while I shouldn't have taken it so personally, it really bothered me. Seriously? You have so many donors that you're turning perfectly good milk away? Milk I slaved over pumping!? How dare they. Furthermore, the woman had the audacity to say that perhaps I could stop taking the Zoloft and then donate? Um, clearly she's never dealt with PPD.

I was looking for a mother or single father to donate to personally, but it turns out that the frozen milk does NOT make Ava sick. Isn't that crazy? I'm not sure if freezing it neutralizes the enzymes that makes her little baby tummy sick, but either way, something about the frozen milk doesn't provoke the same reaction. Whew!

Productive Weekend!

*Meant to be published Sunday night - oops!!*

Hello, friends. You still reading?! Sorry I've been absent, but we've been SO busy this weekend. Doing what, you ask? Let me fill you in.

Despite our house being a mere three years old and purchased new, there are some repairs/renovations we're wanting to do in the upcoming year or two. First and foremost, we don't have ceiling fans. Don't ask me how I failed to notice this, because frankly I'm not entirely sure, but seriously - what kind of builder doesn't add ceiling fans? We have marble bathrooms, and no fans? I digress. Anyhow, this weekend started our first ceiling fan installation project. I'll let you know when it's finished - haha. We're also wanting to plant 10 or so bushes along the back fence since it's wrought iron to give ourselves some privacy, and to stop the neighborhood kids from messing with our dog. I'm a kid lover and all that jazz, but the neighborhood kids leave a little something to be desired.

I'm also starting some new painting projects, including a serving tray to match the downstairs remote caddy I recently finished, and a garbage pail for Ava's room that isn't totally ugly, plain and stinky!

What else? I got my highlights touched up, for one thing. My hair has been looking...well, pretty terrible. I hadn't had it done since right before Ava was born, so we're talking about four months of growth on my highlights. Not a nice look for anyone. D was awesome and brought Ava by the salon so she could meet the nice folks at Avant - I've been getting my hair done there for almost EIGHT years. Whoa - they've got to witness me growing up, and so naturally they all wanted to meet our little bundle. She LOVED it in there - apparently she had a sixth sense alerting her to how much fun can be had at the salon in her future, since she was all smiles.

I've also done a little shopping, since my wardrobe could use a bit of updating. I'm pretty sure the only clothing I've bought since before this time last year has been for Ava. Holy moly.

We've also managed to squeeze in a trip to Lowe's, an oil change, weekly grocery shopping, and my favorite - a trip to Build-A-Bear to make Ava's Christening bear. She turned out great! I've been trying to get her baptism on the books now for weeks and months, but due to our Reverend's retirement, and then surgery, and then rehab, it's been continuously pushed back. Now it's looking like we're going to get to move forward with it, so I've been planning the details, guest list, place, time, etc, and making sure my Christening gown from 25 years ago (!!!) will fit, since my Christening was at 6 weeks, not 4 months! Here's a sneak peek:

She more or less picked the bear herself. There was one I had my eye on going in to the store, but she just kept staring at this one, and who am I to say no to this face:

Here's another couple pictures for your troubles:


4 Months!!!!

Happy four months, Ava!!! And, to top it off, it's been exactly one year to the day that we found out about you, little A. I could not be happier and mroe delighted about your arrival, and what a wonderful, precious, sweet little baby girl you are. I love you more and more every single day.

This morning was Ava's four month appointment, complete with six vaccines (though only two sticks thanks to the 5-in-1 shot!) Whew! I still hate her having to get them, mainly because they won't let me hold her. I'm so insanely allergic to the DTaP that they won't chance her moving and them sticking me instead, since that type of mistake could easily kill me. Still, I wish I could hold my sweet baby. Luckily, she barely cried at all - such a brave little monkey!

Ava is weighing in at 14lbs, 10oz! That puts her in the 75%!! Whoa - you go girl! Apparently me giving up dairy has really helped her grow :) She's also a whopping 26 inches long, putting her in the 95% on height, and between the 10-25% on weight for height. Someone's going to be tall and thin - lucky!

At four months, Ava:
*wears some 0-3 months, some 3-6 months. All pants are 3-6 months thanks to those long, lithe legs!
*Loves her hands, and is increasingly coordinated. She is getting so good at putting her own paci back in - she can do it about 80% of the time! So proud!
*Has found her feet, and is falling rapidly in love with them! She likes to grab onto them and clap them together...probably because we play pat-a-cake with her feet rather than her hands.
*Loves books! She pays such close attention when I read to her - she's very observant.
*Is so very smiley and happy - what a sweet baby girl!
*Has started shrieking...sometimes joyfully, sometimes when she wants my attention or doesn't like how she's laying, etc... Not sure how I feel about this one!
*Is very vocal, and getting good with basic consonant sounds. My money is on her saying "mama" first!
*Arches her back when she doesn't like something - namely her car seat :( This makes me sad, esp. when she has to be in it anyways. Sorry, baby A!

It seems as though Ava is having some allergies these days, which makes me sad. The doc, bless him, gave us dimetapp with an antihistamine (not the cough syrup) to give to her to see if it alleviates her symptoms. With D's allergies what they are, this shouldn't surprise anyone...

This Saturday, May 1st, will be Ava's baptism! It was really touch and go, but a time opened up and we can use the church and I am SO excited. I cannot wait to see her in my Christening gown, and to baptize her into my faith :)

Happy Wednesday, all!

Monday, April 26, 2010

UPDATE: March for Babies Team, "Austin New Mommies & Friends" Created!

With the help of fellow local Austin blogger Butterbean, we've created a team for the walk, entitled "Austin New Mommies & Friends" Please feel free to join up if you're in the area for the May 8th walk, or donate here

THANK YOU!!! So far we've raised $85! Your donation is completely tax deductible and secure :)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

March for Babies.

I recently was asked to write an article about a charity I thought other mothers would have a particular interest in. While there are many wonderful and worthwhile causes relating to babies and children, the March of Dimes is particularly dear to my heart, having worked with premature triplets my senior year of college. I have worked with many preemies since, and volunteered in the NICU at the Children's Hospital of Austin as well. You can read the article here.

Always being one to "practice what I preach", I signed up for the walk myself. It will take place in Austin, Texas on Saturday, May 8th, at 9:30AM, and I will be there, Ava in the stroller, ready to go and teach my daughter (it's NEVER too early to start setting a good example) about giving back to those less fortunate.

While I'm not a huge fan of soliciting things (besides readers for my articles - ha!), I have included a link at the top of my blog (not sure why it's cut off - any suggestions?!) to allow my readers to donate if they feel so inclined :)

If you have a walk in your area, you should participate! It's a wonderful way to further research to ensure that one day, all babies will be born healthy and at term. God knows Ava had no intention of vacating without a little help.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

New Feature!

OK, ladies - help me out by visiting my Gather RSS Feed to check out the newest articles I post :) It's right under my twitter button (which reminds me if you're not following me, add me and I'll follow you back!)!

You're Joking, Right?!

*Warning: Long, rambling vent to ensue. Consider yourself forewarned.*

Today has NOT gone according to plan.

Last night I worked late, having sent Ava home with D for the night (which went well I'm happy to report!), and realized quickly upon waking that we had forgotten to switch A's carseat base back into my car. UGH. When I texted him to this extent, he asked me this dumbass ridiculous question:

Can't you just strap the carseat in and rig the seatbelt around it and come pick it up from me??

Note to self: Think long and hard before leaving Ava with her father unsupervised again.

Um, no? I believe in cutting corners here and there, and don't always follow the rules. I take chances more often than your average girl. I've been known to hightail it over the median and off the highway when stuck in horrible traffic. I DO NOT, however, take chances when it comes to Ava. Ever. PERIOD. Next time, buddy, for your own personal safety while you sleep, don't be an idiot and just bring me back the damn car seat base. Or better yet, switch it back when I ask you the first time, and we won't be in this predicament. Grrr..

What did I do instead, since D was being a lazy ass didn't want to drive home on his lunch break? I dug out the original travel system his co-worker had given us, and got to work installing it. With a crying, cranky, needs-to-nap baby on my hip. In the rain. While trying to hold an umbrella. You know, with that third hand I don't have.

Having successfully managed this seemingly impossible feat, I felt the need to do some celebratory shopping. Technically what I really wanted was to eat my feelings, but unfortunately my feelings only crave dairy, so I settled for a run to Target. I've been in the market for some new make-up, as well as some post-baby clothes, so off we went. All was almost right again with the world until lo and behold, I couldn't get the g-d car seat out of the base. I'm sure right now you're thinking, You're joking, right? No friends, sadly I am not. The rain continued to come down, and I continued to get soaked while attempting to dislodge the damn thing from it's base, all the while fighting back tears. Hey - it was a rough morning. I was feeling emotional, OK?!

Finally I got the damn thing out, just in time to only have about twenty-five minutes left until I had to be checked out and back in the car to head to work. That would've been OK, though. I can work with twenty-five minutes. Or at least I could have, had the lady in the dressing room not banned my cart from the family fitting room, therefore ensuring I'd need that third (and fourth, and fifth) hand again in order to haul A's carrier, her enormous diaper bag, and all 8 things I wanted to quickly try on into the room, while sopping wet and wearing an off-white (and now clearly see-through) shirt. I'm not the best planner.

I hustled to toss garment after garment over my head, trying my best not to catch the reflection of my undressed self in the harsh flourescent-lit dressing room mirror. I finally settled on a few items, threw my clothes back on and headed out to check out and get back to business. I noticed the cashier giving me strange looks, but I figured it was the typical judgmental stares I get from older women who notice my a.)baby face, b.) baby, and c.)lack of a wedding ring, and held my tongue, not wanting to get into a heated debate about who the hell she thought she was while in a hurry to not be late for the 123908129038th time since Ava was born. It was only when I got back into my car and looked in the rear view mirror that I noticed how ridiculous I looked. I must've smudged my make-up and managed to get make my hair even more disheveled than it originally was, since I looked simply comical. No wonder she was staring!

Thankfully, it's almost Friday!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

13 Years From Now..

...Ava will be a teenager. And while that scares me for obvious reasons, the biggest is this:

That's right. Justin. Bieber. AKA Satan incarnate. Earlier I caught myself singing that g-d "Baby" song that I despise so much and heard on some random morning talk show...damn it. The worst part about it? Ava had the hugest grin on her face. Ay ay ay.

This is so what I get for making my mom blast Mandy Moore and LFO and Evan & Jaren on the carpool to drill team. Sorry, mom. At least Hannah Montana was after my generation!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

This Past Weekend...

OK - here I am. Above this you'll find my very favorite picture of Ava I've taken! I have about five whole minutes to myself and just enough energy to post briefly, so I'll leave you with mostly pictures so I can go pass out!

This weekend went well - Ava did GREAT traveling for the first time. She slept the entire way down in the car, and didn't even wake up when we moved her from car seat to travel bassinet. The only hitch was at 4AM when she woke up and didn't know where the heck she was - she freaked for a second, way too distracted to nurse, but quickly recovered. Any by quickly, I mean we both finally fell back to sleep at 6:30. Wah wah.

The visit with the grandparents went well. We did a bit of shopping, and miracle of miracles, we found a second Kitty Bear! YAY! I'd been searching high and low, scouring the internet to no avail, and there in this teensy tiny town's JCPenney was a back-up KB. Hallelujah! Other than our shopping trip and lunch at a local Mexican restaurant (Have you ever tried to order dairy-free from a Mexican restaurant...uh, major fail. Let's just say I snacked all afternoon...), it was a very low-key weekend. I napped Saturday, and sat around reading and getting a bit of writing done.

Sunday we went to visit D's best friend from high school and his wife. They just had a baby last month, though his due date was technically this past weekend. Check out pics of the kiddos together - Weston makes Ava look like gigantababy! Seeing how much she's grown from birth (he's a little bigger in the picture than she was at birth!) makes me proud of my awesome milk :)

"It's OK little buddy - don't be scared!"

Daddies & Babies - adorable!

Ava even slept the majority of the way home, too, despite it being daytime as opposed to bedtime. It was lovely for D and I to get to spend three and a half hours each way just talking and joking and catching up. Sadly, that's the closest we've come to a date since Ava was born.

OK, off to bed. I'm so insanely tired that a few minutes ago I actually had to ask D if I had just gotten up to go to the bathroom a few minutes before, or if I had just thought about it. Unfortunately he was so tired he couldn't remember. That's a pretty good indicator that it's bedtime :)

One last thing - Anyone needing ideas for things to do with older kiddos for Earth Day, click here

Busy Bee!

I don't have time just yet to pay proper attention to my blog, despite not having posted in four days (!!!), but if YOU lovely ladies have time, come visit me over at at any time to see what I'm writing about these days, or just click here!

I'm working over twenty-two hours before tomorrow night at 10PM, so I may or may not have time to catch you all up on the exciting happenings from our trip to the grandparents this weekend! Either way, I'll be back soon (I doubt anyone is really on the edge of their seats waiting, though - haha!)!!

In the meantime, as a thank you for checking in with me, here are some cutie-pie pics of my snugglebug! Forgive the small size and poor quality - these are from my phone!

I'm pretty proud of that last one - guess who can put their own paci back in (sometimes)?! Yep. That's my big girl!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Exciting New Arrivals!

We've had some new arrivals to the household lately, and I just can't help but share them with you all:

First up, Ava's new convertible car seat. We won't be using it for a while still, but I love it. It'll get her through until she's ready for a booster!

Next, our new jogging stroller!

Last, and definitely least (haha), Ava's first swimsuit!

We were really fortunate in that the swimsuit was the only thing that we've actually purchased. The others were things the D's passed on to us, saving us hundreds of dollars! THANK YOU!!!!!!

On a related note, we got another exciting arrival this week - a present from Rene & Baby Jack and we LOVE it!!! Check it out:

BABY LEGS!!! Ava was so excited to put them on, she didn't even bother to match them to her outfit - haha! Matching pictures to come. Thank you!!! Have little Jack check the mail next week :)

More updates to come, seeing as how Ava learned a cool new thing this week, but no time to tell you about it now because we are leaving for D's parents in an hour, and I have a billion things left to do and no hands to do them with.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Dare to Ditch Dairy.

I've mentioned a few times in passing about Ava's tendency to poo through outfit upon outfit, but I don't think I've let on the seriousness of how bad it really is. Last Thursday, we went through four outfits. FOUR. I've had to toss plenty of good outfits in the trash, and many more have been saved only by the magic of Shout! At first I thought we were just dealing with a laundry issue, but after last Thursday's record-setting outfit-changing, I started to think it was more than that. While breastfed newborns are notorious for frequent, loose stools, three-month-olds are not. In fact, all the literature I've read keeps telling me that she should be going less frequently without it being cause for concern, and I keep thinking to myself, Any day now...

Anyhow, back to last week. While it wasn't necessarily planned (more due to my mastitis, lack of appetite, and sheer coincidence), I ended up abstaining from dairy for the better part of the weekend, and shockingly enough, no poo. Not just no watery, gross, spilling-out-the-sides poo, but none at all. In fact, she didn't poo again until Sunday! That night, though, I ate a bowl of cereal, and sure thing - Ava had loose, watery poo again the next morning. That's when I started to take notice. Again, I abstained from dairy briefly, and again, the accidents stopped. Last night I had two bowls of cereal (I just can't live without that Special K Chocolatey Delight!), and this morning, we had a poo crisis! Not only did it spill out of her diaper, but it shot out the bottom of her pants legs, and ALL OVER our carpet. Holy crap (parden the pun!).

On top of that, Ava is small. Not unusually, abnormally small, but compared to other babies her age and other babies we know who were born around the same time, she's pounds lighter, weighing in at just slightly over 13 pounds. Definitely not statistically significant, but it does lead me to wonder if her slower weight gain has been due to her frequent poo diapers?

Moral of this long, drawn-out story centering on poo (ick!)? I have to give up dairy, at least until I can narrow it down and pinpoint what exactly it is that's making her sick.

This leads me now to a desperate plea for help. I am, above all, a picky eater. Soy milk makes me gag, as do the other milk alternatives. I eat meat, though in small quantities and not red meat. I like a wide array of fruits and veggies, thankfully, but am having a really difficult time coming up with things I can eat that a.)don't contain dairy, and b.)don't totally gross me out.

Help! Any and all suggestions, recipes, ideas you want to send my way - I will welcome with open arms! I am trying to use this opportunity to broaden my horizons (and taste buds), but have no clue where to start!

I'll be back tomorrow with some updates I've been meaning to post - apparently when I convinced myself that taking on a second job (my new writing gig) wouldn't be much of an additional burden since I'd be working from home, I was crazy. It's day two, and I've been feeling way overwhelmed. I'm hoping that once I no longer have to work late everyday it'll be more manageable!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

And We're Live...

Ok, folks. My first article is up. Not that impressive I'll admit, but this is turning out to be a different type of assignment than I was expecting. Instead of writing about my own life, or my own baby, I'm being asked instead to cover news pertaining to moms and families and celebrity mamas. More of a reporter-style type thing...but I figured, eh, I'll give it a try.

Check out my first brief blurb here

AND my second, third, and fourth!

Also, as much as I didn't want to, I had to start up a twitter account in order to be able to more successfully do my writing gig. Follow me at @brijtaylor. Comment with your usernames so I can follow you back :)

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Story of the Baby That Almost Wasn't.

My post yesterday, as well as the general time of year, got me thinking pretty hard about the events of last year. I have debated a post similar to this for a while now, and still am uncertain about if telling this story to you all is the right thing. I realize that some of you may be offended by this story, and for that I do apologize. I do not mean to upset anyone, challenge anyone's beliefs, or stir up controversy. The only thing I want to do here is tell the truth, in hopes that by doing so, I can help someone else. Please, please do not chastise me or comment/send emails with pro-life messages. I 100% respect the opinions of others on this matter, and ask that you respect mine as well. I hope that I do not lose any readers due to this post, but recognize that some people feel very strongly about things. I will not, however, let that keep me from telling my story, as this blog is nothing if not my honest account of pregnancy and motherhood. Ok, here goes.

It was April 28th, 2009. I was on my way home from babysitting, heart racing, palms sweating. My period was nearly a week late, and for someone on the pill, this is unusual. It had been late on and off lately (a sure sign, I would later learn, that your hormonal birth control was failing to do it's job!), so I shouldn't have been as concerned as I was, but driving home, pregnancy test in purse, I just knew. I was pregnant.

I got home and raced upstairs, spouting a quick hello to D where he sat on the couch, watching ESPN. I made some small talk and then excused myself to the bathroom, not being able to wait a second longer to confirm what I already knew in my heart. Sure enough, not 30 seconds later, a faint second line appeared.

"Uh, you have to come in here right now," I told him, appearing in the doorway, tears pouring down my cheek. Even then, through the fear of the unknown, the tears were hopeful. They were fearful as well, but there was joy there.

It's obvious by my blog title alone that we weren't planning to become parents just yet. D and I are not married, though we've lived together nearly two years, and have been together nearly three. In all of my childhood fantasies, the big, white dress always came first. And I wanted a big fairy tale wedding. I did. But the most predominant of all my childhood fantasies? Becoming a mother. I had wanted to be a mother as long as I could remember. I played elaborately with my baby dolls, sometimes creating families of nine or more children, all with beautiful little girl names like Gabriella, Isabella, Dominique. Never was I the parent of a little boy in my fantasies, strangely enough. I attribute this to being so close with my mother growing up, but all I ever wanted out of life was to have a daughter.

Flash back to April 28. D didn't think we were ready. What would his parents say? How would we afford this? What would this do to our relationship? I quickly found myself driving around Austin in my car, unable to be near him at home. I called my mother, as I so often do when I find myself needing advice. I told her I was pregnant, and that I would be keeping the baby. That was the only thing I knew for sure.

Somehow over the course of the next few days, amidst doctor's appointments and working long hours, I lost this certainty. Whether it was the stark contrast of our reactions, or my own fear of the possibility of going it alone, I can't say for sure. All I know is that where I once felt certain, unwavering resolve, I started to weaken. Did I want to lose D? Could we afford this? Would I be sacrificing my fairy tale ending? (It pains me now to admit these things - to admit that I was so concerned with having a life lived in a certain order.)

Once my pregnancy was confirmed, I felt even more lost. My family was supportive; excited, even. There was no negativity about my unwed, pregnant status to them. It's not like D had been a one-night stand. Hell, we'd even talked about getting married (abstractly, not date-setting chats) in the months prior, so it wasn't like we weren't serious. We lived together, owned a home, were doing well enough financially. I had recently paid off every cent of credit card debt, and he maintains a zero balance, so we had that on our side. So why weren't we ready, I would ask myself? It quickly turned us against one another, with no one being in the right.

I scheduled an appointment with my would-be OBGYN, Dr. R, for May 15th, when I would be 7 weeks pregnant. It was early, yes, but I wanted to see the baby. Wanted to hear the heartbeat. To be entirely truthful, I wanted him to see it with his own eyes, to make him/her real to him. I thought that there was no way if he heard that tiny heartbeat he wouldn't want to go on this journey with me. Fearing that I was wrong, though, I scheduled a second appointment for the next day. An appointment to terminate the pregnancy, given that he didn't come around. It wasn't to placate him, or to save our relationship, just so we're clear. I just thought that if we couldn't get on the same page about this, that I would never be able to forgive him. That it would be over for us. And I was terrified to go it alone.

May 15th, 2009. We heard the baby's heartbeat. It was 120, right on target. I cried. D looked terrified, but was kind and supportive. We left the appointment feeling just as confused as before. Knowing that I had mere hours to make a decision, I prayed and prayed and prayed. I had made the appointment to terminate always reminding myself that I could cancel at any time. It didn't mean I had to go through with it. This was the only thought that could console me. I cried, and cried, and cried. I couldn't eat, could barely sleep, and spent the days between April 28th and May 15th in a state of hysteria. I cried inconsolably, while D tried to comfort me. I wouldn't let him. How could I? And then, I thought about it long and hard. I stayed in bed the rest of the day, alternately weeping and allowing myself to imagine both situations. And I asked myself, What if this is my baby girl? What if later in life, not having had this baby, I ended up with a family other than the one I have now, other than the one I am supposed to have? I felt so strongly the baby was a girl from the very first second I knew, and I couldn't give that up. I couldn't give up being a mother. My first Mother's Day came and went, tearfully, as I pondered what to do. And I remembered what I'd always known to be true. To trust your heart. What was the very first thing I felt (besides fear) when I saw those two lines? Love. I felt love, and excitement, and joy. Yes, I was terrified and panicked and uncertain. But I felt love, and I couldn't let it go. I had faith that I could do this, with or without him, and I picked myself up out of bed and walked out of our room.

"I'm keeping the baby," I told him, with the most resolve I'd ever felt. "And I'm cancelling my appointment for tomorrow." And then I broke down in tears.

As it turned out, the baby is a girl. The baby is Ava. D came around, and we're so much stronger for what we endured together. Our friends rallied, our families were supportive (mine immediately, his later), and together we've come out of this situation ahead of where we'd be had Ava never graced us with her presence.

I pass the clinic I had scheduled my appointment at every single day. It's right off the main highway in Austin, and stands between my home and my job. There has never been a single day that I've passed without thanking God for stepping in and showing me the way to turn. Even now, sitting her typing this nearly a year later, I cannot contain my tears. I am so indebted to Him for giving Ava to me.

Why am I telling you this? When I was in the middle of those few weeks - the darkest period in my entire life - I felt alone. I felt like no one could relate (despite how silly that sounds), that no one understood. Even once my decision was made, I would sometimes peruse the BBC boards when they'd ask the question, "If your pregnancy was unplanned, did you consider termination?" Across the board, the answer was no. I don't mean to call anyone out, but I would always think to myself, Liars. I knew I wasn't the only one who weighed my options, struggling to do the right thing for myself, my unborn child, my family and my future. But it seems that once you've resolved to keep the baby, you forget what it's like to struggle with that decision, and this made me feel alone. And if someone ever reads this, and feels less alone, I'll have done my part to help.

My story has a happy ending. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I did the right thing. In one agonizing decision, I got everything I ever wanted out of life. Ava is everything I have ever dreamed of and more. However, I have always been and will always remain pro-choice, as I believe a woman has the right to choose and that every baby should be wanted. I will say, though, if you have even a shadow of a doubt that termination is the wrong decision for you, it may very well be. There are organizations to help you, people who will rally to support you, and those who are willing to talk (and listen). I would happily offer an unbiased ear to anyone in my situation.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

One Year.

Dear Ava,

Though we weren't yet aware of your presence on this day last year, you were here, and I am SO incredibly thankful. This has been the best year of my entire life, and it's only the beginning, kiddo. I cannot wait to see what the years to come will bring!



Dear God,

I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge your part in this great adventure of ours. Thank you so much for entrusting me with your littlest (and yet, ironically, biggest) blessing. Thank you for delivering her to us safely, and for keeping her alive and breathing each and every night. Thank you for your guidance on this path, and I ask you to please continue to provide direction to us on how to be the parents Ava deserves - the parent you are to us. Please, Lord, keep our baby safe and alive, and our family together.

Happy one year of living, Ava!

I'm Alive!

At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, I am happy (and surprised) to announce that I am reemerging alive on the other side of the worst case of mastitis the world has ever seen (No, the doctor didn't confirm that. It's just a suspicion of mine...).

Friday was definitely the worst. It came on quick, with me jamming The Strokes en route to work Friday at 7AM, and practically incapacitated by 11:30AM. I left work at that point, calling D to meet me at home and take over baby-duty, and headed to my pharmacy to pick up my prescription. I figured that once I got my antibiotics, I'd be in the fast lane to recovery, which in many ways turned out to be true. It was just actually getting the antibiotics that proved difficult.

As I've mentioned before, my doctor's office closes at noon on Friday. Naturally, while pregnant, all my crises (including my car accident) took place on Friday. Around 11AM. Why it should surprise me, then, that this would happen late Friday morning, I don't know. Anyway, I called the doctor around 10AM, and his nurse assured me that she'd call in the prescription right away so that it would be ready for pickup when I arrived at HEB. Well, as it turns out, she FORGOT. Yep. The office closed up, the nurses went home, and my prescription remained...nonexistent. Seeing as how I was feeling sicker by the moment, and my fever was over 103 at this point, I had a complete meltdown in the pharmacy drive-thru and then drove home to suffer in my pajamas. Being almost completely incapable of functioning between the fever, chills, and body aches (not to mention my incredibly sore and swollen right breast), I handed the task of reaching the on-call doctor and picking up my prescription to D. Thankfully, he delivered around 3PM, just as my fever was rounding up on 104. I immediately took the first of over 50 pills I get to take in the next two weeks (four a day!), something for pain, and passed out for several hours.

That was definitely the worst of it, since those little blue pills kicked in quickly, but whoa Nelly! Friday was a terrible day. I guess I should also mention that due to the pain coursing through my body, we canceled our trip to D's parents. I just couldn't sit in the car for over three hours each way and spend a weekend trying to participate and being in someone else's home/bed/area. I like to be in my own space generally, but WAY moreso when I'm sick.

I'm still not feeling 100% - maybe 70%? - but I'm definitely on the mend. The antibiotics are messing with my stomach a bit, but hey, I'll take that over how I felt Friday anyday!

A was off a bit the past two days, but I'm thinking it was because the dynamic in our household had shifted. Mom was actually getting some decent rest and taking (gasp!) naps, while dad had taken over the majority of baby duty. It was a welcome break, though I missed hanging out with my baby all day! Considering I just finished making a pork roast, yellow rice and black beans, along with cleaning up the house and finishing up laundry, I'd say we're making the shift back to our household norm - haha.

Alright - I have a deadline to meet for this whole new writing gig, and don't want to have to put off my first piece. That wouldn't look very good now, would it?

BTW - I have a few posts in mind this week that will be asking for some input from those who've been there or even the thoughts of those who haven't yet but have opinions! Please leave a comment with any advice you may have!

Friday, April 9, 2010


So you know how last week I was pretty certain I was on the verge of mastitis? Turns out that was NOTHING compared to being in the full-on throes of it. I'm not sure how it happened, since I felt fine yesterday. To be honest, I felt fine at 7AM when I arrived at work. But by 8:30? I thought I was dying. I mean, literally would not have been surprised if all of my organs just bailed and left me where I laid on the ground next to A and S to expire.

Therefore, despite having over six hours left in my day, and having already been up for five, I am going home. Yes, I still have cat food to purchase for this weekend, and bags to pack before we head out of town after A's bath, and laundry to do, clothes to fold, a catbox to clean, a baby to nurse, etc, but I cannot do anything until I have the antibiotics my doctor is currently calling in and a nap.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

We Interrupt The Previously Scheduled Programming For An Announcement!

I wanted to wait until I knew for sure before posting, but I have some very exciting news!! Baby number two? Oh, hecccccccccccck no. More like I got offered a great opportunity to be on a mom/parenting blog team for Gather, a website similar to Facebook but still up-and-coming. I am SO excited! I have always wanted to write for a living, and while this is just consulting work and would be similar to what I do now on my blog but without all the pictures, etc., it's still me being paid to write. A-ma-zing!

As a result, I'll definitely be curious to know what types of things you all would be interested in reading about. So far I'm planning some posts on breastfeeding (troubleshooting, anecdotes, etc.), sleep, and, after this weekend, traveling with baby. I'm not quite sure exactly how this is all going to work just yet - I have a conference call tomorrow morning with a woman in the corporate office in Boston - but I'll be sure to fill you all in when I know more. I'm so excited for this opportunity and hope you all will read along! A link will be provided when I launch, of course :)

Going To Grandma & Grandpa's.

It's that time again where I hope and pray someone is out there reading this and can offer me some suggestions/advice/reassurance on this issue...

First up - our first trip out of town this weekend. So far we've lucked out, and had grandparents come visit US. Baller. Now, however, it's time to repay the favor, so we'll be heading down to Houston (well, Houston-ish. Houston is really just a sneaky label for about a trillion suburbs) for the weekend to celebrate Ava's Uncle Matt's 18th birthday, as well as her grandma's upcoming birthday and a belated Easter. In case that's not enough to fit into two days away, we also are going to be visiting D's best friend from high school's new baby, Weston, who arrived four weeks early on March 12th. Welcome to the world, little buddy (and Ava's betrothed, according to D). We'll see. I'm secretly holding out for Kingston Stefani-Rossdale, but more on that another day.

Anyhow, seeing as this is our first trip away from home, and Ava's second time EVER leaving the city limits, I'm relying on all of you lovelies to tell me what on Earth I'm going to need to pack. I have a list started, but I will inevitably get halfway there and remember about thirty things I've overlooked. Here's what we have so far:

Pack N Play
Breast Pump
5-6 Outfits(thanks to a tendency towards explosive diapers!)
3-4 Sleepers (ditto)
Ellie (her little stuffed elephant in all her pictures)
Kitty Bear (KB henceforth..)
Polka Dot Blankie for Tummy Time
Bottle (just in case)
Travel Bouncer
The Kitchen Sink?!??
First Aid Kit (nail clippers, medicines, nasal aspirator, etc.) - great suggestion, Rene!
Bath Supplies - travel size if you have them :)
Burp Clothes

This list looks entirely too short - suggest away!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Daddy Love.

How could he ever think she doesn't simply adore him??

*It is SO much easier to get her to smile on camera from afar! Otherwise she becomes enamored with the camera and gets all serious.

Ava's New Toybox.

Lookie what I made over the weekend :)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Grouchapotamus, Meet Your New Best Friend.

Last week was rough. I had to work longer hours, which threw Ava entirely off schedule and made for a lonnnnnng few days. She doesn't nap well at work now that she's not a fan of sleeping in her car seat, and so I really count on a long morning nap to get us through. Long story short - she wasn't getting much of a morning or afternoon nap, and it was making her Princess Crankypants!

To remedy this (*fingers crossed!!!!*), we picked up a second bouncer this weekend in order to have one to take to work. I tried the swing last week, to no avail:

Have you ever seen a baby that had the ticked off look down quite so well?!

She also wasn't feeling the whole wake up early thing:

Again with the grouchy face!

The new bouncer, though, seems to have solved our problem*:


Other cute recent pics:

Guess who's learned how to keep their own paci in?! Praise Jesus!

My little Longhorn, learning to grasp with her hands :)

Remember back in August when I won a onesie? Here it is...

Pictures of Ava's new toybox to follow :)

*And by solved, I mean she's no longer giving the sourpuss and she's sleeping at least somewhat :)

Recent Adventures in Mommyhood...

Being a mom is, by far, the best thing ever. That being said, motherhood definitely brings with it some, ahem, moments.

Take Friday for example. I had to be up super early, and ended up getting dressed in the dark. I had bought a new button-up shirt the day before, but had neglected to try it on in store seeing as how I had a stroller with a three-month-old, a three-year-old and the world's largest diaper bag all attached to my body somehow. Not a scene one wants to maneuver into a dressing room, ya know? Anyhow, I threw on my new shirt and a pair of shorts, and then went about my business before A got up to nurse. Then I loaded her up and into the carseat, and off we went ahead of schedule so that we'd have time to stop and gas the car. Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong. The guy at the gas station (why oh WHY do gas stations that make you go inside to pay still exist?!) was being particularly nice to me, but naively, I just thought he was a nice guy trying to brighten my day. HA! What I realized when I got to work and stepped into the flourescent lights of the bathroom is that my shirt was entirely see through. That wouldn't have been that big of a deal, seeing that my nursing bra leaves just about everything to the imagination, but I had forgotten to latch it after nursing A. Holy moly.

Then there was yet another humiliating moment yesterday. At church. On Easter for crying out loud. Could there have possibly been more people in one building at one time to witness said incident? Anyway, Ava was sitting on my lap, intensely captivated by the light fixtures on the ceiling, when I felt my lap get warm. Apparently her diaper didn't feel like doing it's job, and decided to bunch up in such a way that when Ava peed, it ran out the side, leaving her diaper practically dry, and my lap extremely wet. To make matters worse, this happened directly prior to lining up for communion, so I got to take communion looking like I peed myself. Fantastic.

There is a lot that motherhood has taught me in these past few months, but one of the most important and critical lessons? Laughing at yourself :)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Hoppy Easter!

Sorry - couldn't resist the juvenile title ;)

I hope everyone had an absolutely lovely day! Happy 1st Easter to all the mommies and daddies and babies! If there is one thing I've learned so far, it's how much more wonderful holidays are with a little one! Actually, to be completely honest, it's how to function on significantly less sleep, but I digress.

Our day was wonderful, starting out with a beautiful and jovial church service and ending with a nice backyard BBQ and some strawberry shortcake! Oh, sweets, how I missed you. My stomach, however? Not so much. I won't be gorging myself again anytime soon...

The Easter Bunny stopped by as well, and so we went on a hunt for Ava's basket. In our family, it's tradition to hide the Easter basket, and that sneaky little Easter Bunny must've been eavesdropping on us yesterday because he hid Ava's basket in the little toybox I had just made for her!

Even better, he brought her some Peter Cottontail and Benjamin Bunny books, bunny ears, sunglasses, a bunny squeak toy and her very own stuffed Easter Bunny. What a nice guy! We can't wait for him to visit again next year!

Friday, April 2, 2010

You've Got Mail.

This is a pretty cool project a friend forwarded me:

Why Not Send Me Some Real Mail?

When is the last time you sat and wrote a letter or mailed a postcard? Have you ever stuck a stamp on some random thing and dropped it in a mailbox?

Many of you have already begun sending things to me and they have been amazing.

If you have not, I encourage you to embrace the time-honored tradition of handwritten, mailed correspondence and mail something to a little project I call:
You've Got Mail.

Send whatever you wish through the mail. This mailed menagerie can consist of illustrated cards, letters or just stick some stamps to some random object you like or find ironic.

It is really simple to participate.

Just sit down, spend a few minutes writing a card or note, and drop it in a mailbox.

The more artful examples of mail received will be shown in an exhibition at the end of the year.

Keep Those Cards and Letters Coming:

Your Pal Carl
P.O. Box 10401
Austin, Texas 78766

I would be honored to hear from you.

Always thinking,

Your Pal Carl

Here's our letter:

Dear Carl,

My name is Ava. I'm just three-months-old - too little to write a letter or draw a picture on my own - so my momm is transcribing for me so that I can have a neat keepsake and also help the post office - I'm a very civic-minded baby, you see.

Are you enjoying this lovely weather we've been having? I sure am! I love sunshine and warm breezes. I also love pacifiers, my lovie, my mommy & daddy, and boobies. I'm sure you can relate, at least to that last one.

I hope you have a lovely Easter. I'm not sure what Easter is, but my mom sure seems excited about it. I swear, if she puts those bunny ears on me and then blinds me with her camera's flash one more time, I'm going on a sleep strike (That's how I get my point across, you see!).

Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Beautiful Blogger.

Teresa over at The Vogelgesangs has nominated me as a Beautiful Blogger - what an honor :) I am supposed to tell you five things about myself and then nominate 5 blogger friends to do the same. So, here we go:

1.) I ALSO want to be a stay-at-home mom!!

2.) I eat apples the way habitual smokers smoke. Constantly, one after another. I just cannot get enough. Particularly of the honeycrisp variety.

3.) If I cannot ultimately be a SAHM, I would love to either be a private yoga teacher, or a caterer. I'm a bit of a foodie, and love everything about cooking from shopping local markets to assembling it on the plate. My ultimate dream (before I realized I hated chemistry) was to be an OBGYN.

4.) I'm considering going to nursing school, but am too big of a wuss to apply for fear that I wouldn't be able to handle working, going to school and being a mom.

5.) I don't like dogs. I know that's inhumane, and it's not like I'm a puppy-kicker or anything, but they just don't appeal to me.

Oh, and I'm a liberal through and through. I believe in health care reform, equal rights, gay marriage, you name it. I'm left of the left.

And, my 5 nominees are:

-Emily over at Emily & Drew

-Ashlie at The Souders' Saga

-Rene at It's a Boy!

-Elizabeth at Confessions From A Working Mom

-Jennifer at Baby McCants

Like Free Stuff?

Look no further!! Here are some current giveaways (and blogs!) well worth hopping over to:

First up, head over to Confessions From A Working Mom for a week's worth of giveaways during Elizabeth's Blog Birthday Bash!

While you're there, check out some of her great posts - she's living proof of all that women are capable of!

Next, head over to Honey B to enter to win the flip flops below (and for other great reading)!

Last but not least, do you know of any mothers of multiples that could use a helping hand? Head over to Thoughts Of A Woman to help her unload some of her twins' preemie clothing, etc.

Good luck all!

Oh, and..

...I'm Briana. Nice to meet you.

Things I've Meant To Say...

I keep meaning to write some follow-ups, and then, being a new mom with mush for a brain, I forget.

*First off, a very overdue thank you to everyone who commented and/or emailed advice about switching Ava to her crib! I think we're still gonna wait a bit - probably until 4 or 5 months when she's past the greatest SIDS risk - and then make the switch. With everyone's input and reassurance, I feel more confident it's doable, so THANK YOU!

*Second, I am VERY surprised and excited to report that when Lent ends this Sunday, I'll have gone the entire Lenten season without sweets. You heard me. No cupcakes, cookies, brownies, donuts, muffins, etc since February 16th. And you know what? I DO crave them less, and the cravings are less intense. This week has been hard, with all the Easter candy EVERYWHERE I GO, but even still, it's easier than ever before to wait it out :) I've also lost three pounds, although that may just be normal day-to-day variation, but hey - I'll take it!

*Third, my first in (hopefully) a series of races is Saturday at 8AM (yikes!), when I'll be running in the Austin State Hospital Bunny Run. Wish me luck! I haven't been training nearly like I should have due to an old knee injury that I discovered my first time out, but I feel confident I can wing it. I may be a little misguided on this one...It's timed, so I'll let you know how I do this weekend!

*Also, just to be clear, I in no way think that parents that let their children watch TV/DVDs/etc are terrible parents. It was just my own personal commentary on feeling guilty about letting Baby Einsteins babysit while I had ten minutes of much needed personal time :)

Hope everyone is having a great Thursday so far! We tried to go see the Easter Bunny at Barton Creek Square, but unfortunately the Easter Bunny charges $15 for ONE measly 3x5 (plus a border) photo, and that's just highway robbery! I'm feeling certain we can find a cheaper/free Easter Bunny elsewhere, so that's our new mission! If anyone in the area knows of one, please let me know - I desperately want to get a keepsake photo for her first Easter!
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