Thursday, March 31, 2011

Keeping a positive attitude

“How was your day today?” I’d ask.

“Bad. Really bad. First, M. wouldn’t play with me. And then J. took my Barbie. And then….” H. would reply.

After about a month I started getting concerned. I noticed that my four-year-old H. was really focusing on the negatives of her day. This despite the good things that happened.

“Did anything nice happen to you today?” I asked.

“Yes. I got to eat cake. But then it was a bad day because S. wasn’t nice to me.”

Hmmmm… normally upbeat daughter was quickly turning into a pessimist. I started asking the teachers for more specifics on what H. had done that day and started focusing on those.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Don’t Ruin My Ridiculously Rigid Routine, or You’ll Get a Texas Sized Tantrum!

I often wondered if obsessive compulsive disorder is hereditary. A few weeks ago I got solid confirmation that it is. My mother taught me that being on time is a direct reflection of your character. She instilled it in me so much so that I am at least 15 minutes early for everything. I am so early, in fact, that when I think I am running late, I am still early. I have probably wasted a good 10% to 20% of my life on being absurdly early. Though it drives my husband crazy, it is actually a comfort to my 5 year old who craves a strict routine. She has been on such an inflexible timetable from the moment that she was born I can set my clock by when she eats, sleeps, wakes and even poops. Every second of her day is so normal and routine that I have inadvertently caused her to stress out when there are tiny breaks in her daily schedule. Yes, I admit that my timely obsession has carried over to my poor offspring.

Before recent events, everything was normal and regular, predictable. That is just how I like it. However, my kindergartner came home from school with a very important note several weeks ago. Her class was finishing up a section on Texas state history. As a reward for their scholarly feat, they would soon celebrate with a kindergarten rodeo, complete with a stick horse race. We spent several hours one Sunday fashioning a stick horse out of an old paint extender, scrap fabric and a feather boa. We splurged a little on a straw hat, handkerchief and some pink boots. We were ready days in advance for this once-in-a-lifetime event. In classic, hereditary fashion, my child began to remind me (4 days ahead of time) that she could not wear her usual pony tail or Princess Leia buns because her hat would not fit right with her hair that way. She obsessed over this every day, explaining that she needed braids that were flat on her head, “like they are not even there, Momma” she would say.

 “You mean French braids” I would reply.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ah babies

I’ve had to laugh in the last week how my sister-in-law having a baby has impacted me. I’m certainly not trying to make that event about me, but in this case others seem to be doing so.

Case in point, my nephew was delivered by C-Section at 12:21 on a Sunday morning. By the time we saw him and got home from the hospital it was 4 a.m. By 8 a.m. I was up and after a few texts with the new dad I was at the hospital by 10ish to help out. On my way home at 3 p.m. I’d already been asked point blank by my mother whether seeing and holding my nephew made me more anxious to have one of my own. I’m pretty sure a few looks from my mother-in-law and other relatives were insinuating the same question, in a nice way of course. In the days since, friends at work, many of whom have little ones of their own, have cast knowing glances in my direction as well.

I must say it has amused me.

Monday, March 28, 2011

News flash: Pregnancy is TEN months

I'm starting to notice there are a lot of repeat conversations during pregnancy, especially when it becomes apparent that there's something at least the size of a volleyball in your belly.

Everywhere I go, a barrage of three questions ensues:

How far along are you? Is it a boy or a girl? Do you have a name picked out?

But something odd tends to happen when I tell people how far along I am: they automatically tell me how much time I have left. And without exception, they are a full month short.  It happened just this morning in the elevator:

"How far along are you?"

"Eight months."

"How exciting! Just one month left!"

Multiply that conversation times 100. At the gas station, the mall, restaurants, movie name it.

Friday, March 25, 2011

How to tell

So the age-old question remains…when should one tell their family and friends that they are pregnant, and once that is determined, how?  Some people feel that it is necessary to wait until they have gone to the doctor and seen the heartbeat before telling. The idea behind this is that the risk for miscarriage goes way down once the heartbeat is seen.  Many people do not want the heartache of telling all of their friends and then having to go back and tell them that they had a miscarriage. It is also neat to announce the pregnancy with a sonogram picture.

There are other people that tell just as soon as they find out that they are pregnant. The suspense is too much for them and what I have heard is that these people want their friends and family involved in the beginning stages regardless of whether or not something happens. The idea is that the support will be great if something were to happen. This is me. I like to tell early because I just can’t stand to keep the news to myself!!! Besides, if something were to happen to the pregnancy, I would want my friends and family surrounding me with prayers and comfort.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Impossible Explanations

Six months ago we welcomed our daughter, Emory, into the world. My husband, Josh, and I were recently discussing all the changes that come with having a second child. As we were talking, the realization of the love that we felt for our children seemed unexplainable. The talk spiraled from there, and we started thinking of other things baby-related that we couldn’t understand. We determined that there are some things about having a baby that are just impossible to explain. For instance:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Got Sleep?

When my husband and I shared the news that we were having a baby, we were immediately bombarded with advice from every angle. One of the most valuable pieces of advice we could have ever received was, “Rest up because a baby means lots of sleepless nights.” No truer words have been spoken. But, as it turns out, sleepless nights don’t just occur during infancy.

Within the first few weeks of bringing our daughter home, we found it very important to establish a sleep, eat and play schedule and to adhere to it no matter the situation. This practice proved to be successful in helping her to learn her appropriate bedtime. For many years afterward, we lived in bliss. Don’t get me wrong, we have been awakened from our sleep on numerous occasions. The sound of crying or the tugging of our bed sheets because of an upset stomach is all too familiar. A large portion of those nights were due to inexperience. After all, how could we have known that chocolate milk after 5 p.m. could cause a midnight eruption?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Countdown to 1

I had a rude awakening the other day when the hubs sent me a baby's development-type email for our Sammo.

This particular email was talking about birthday party ideas. What??? Birthday parties? Not for MY baby! Not YET! But then I looked at the calendar...ooooh my...there are only 5 weeks until my baby turns one?!? After hugging myself and rocking for a bit, I got to thinking, how DOES one plan a birthday party for someone who really won't remember it?

I'm not a fan of the budget-busting, crazy-themed parties that seem to be the rage today, and especially not for my BABY. I don't want to overwhelm him and set us up for a mid-party meltdown.

Monday, March 21, 2011

It didn’t happen like this in the movies!

First things first. I’m a dad! Baby Elliot Stephen Echols arrived on 3/3/11 at 2:06 p.m. He weighed 7 pounds 8 ounces and measured 20.75” long. Mom and baby are doing awesome. Even though it has only been a couple of weeks, I can’t explain what an amazing feeling it is to be a parent.

But enough of all that sentimental stuff. I want to focus on how we got to that delivery room and how that experience was nothing like what I was expecting. It all started on the evening of March 1.

The closer Lauren got to her due date, we finally decided, “OK, it’s party time.”Party time to us means take-out food and mass quantities of TV. We’d done so good eating healthy during pregnancy that when we got to the home stretch, we decided it was time to kick back and enjoy it.

After work on March 1st we pigged out on wings and French fries and watched a movie at home. All day on the 2nd I was really paying for that greasy food and enjoyed a, dull but omnipresent stomach ache. On my way home from work I got the familiar “what do you want to pick up for dinner” phone call from my sweet wife. I informed her of my stomach ache and said that I planned to go easy and stick with cereal for dinner. I figured that was best path to me not having to down the other half of the Maalox bottle I’d opened the night before. She said she had a taste for Chinese food and called in an order to our favorite place. Like the great husband I can be, I stopped in and picked up her dinner.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Sunday rituals

What does Sunday mean to you? I must say that we have recently made our faith our priority. In the hurry of life I think there are times it can be pushed to the side or excuses can be created when it comes to church and worship. Our family has not been immune to that but I think we have finally gotten to a really good place-and every Sunday we are in church. If we happen to be out of town, we catch up on the service by watching it on the church website. Have to love the technology of modern day.

It’s more about just attending church, though. It’s a day for us to spend together with God in mind and a message to consider and absorb. A day I try very hard to have all of my “chores” done like grading papers or buying groceries and just spend it together. When I started to reflect on our revived priority of faith I realized I marked Sunday as not just an important day for worship, but for family.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Welcoming Baby Wells!

September 1, 2010 is a day that changed me forever. That was the day we welcomed our first child, Wells, into this world.  It was 4:14 p.m. that day to be exact. Baby Wells weighed 6 pounds and 8 ounces and was 19 1/4 inches long.

As I look back at that day, a few highlights stand out:

We arrived to the hospital on August 31 and checked in at 6 p.m. We had a decent night sleep, as good as you can when you are anticipating meeting your sweet baby the next day!

At 6:30 a.m. on September 1, the nurses came in and started our pitocin drip! That got things kind of moving, but not as quick as my OB would have liked. She came in around 9 a.m. and broke my water. That was the worst pain I felt the whole day. It was worse than any contractions I had. When you are on 1.5 cm dilated and they break your water, it does not feel great. But, Dr. Wiley was right that it would get things moving - and boy did it.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

So now what?

One of the perks (if there really is such a thing, other than a baby) of having an apparently huge baby is you get more sonograms, more chances to see your baby as doctors figure out exactly how giant your giant baby is.

That, in fact, is how Tom and I found ourselves sitting once again in our perinatologist's office last week, watching our little one on a screen once again. The last time we saw this doctor, he had proclaimed me too healthy and the baby "too awesome" to need to see him again. But that was before it became obvious that this child would be large. But last Thursday was the day of reckoning - the day we'd find out exactly how big this baby is.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Are you tired of waiting for your due date?

I remember as a pregnant woman, I prayed to go into labor early.  It’s just one of the things we do as pregnant women.  It’s uncomfortable, to say the least, during that last month of pregnancy.  You can’t sleep; have to go to the bathroom all the time; your feet and hands are swollen and you feel the largest you have ever felt in your life.

But as a nurse for the past 40 years I know those last few weeks are critical, albeit uncomfortable.

Why is that? With the fewest words – It’s best for the health of your baby, not to mention your health.  Babies born too early may have more health problems at birth and later in life than babies born full term.  Labor is an important process for a baby’s health.  For example, labor signals the baby’s lung cells to shift from being fluid producing cells to fluid absorbing cells.

Monday, March 14, 2011

My joys during early pregnancy

If you are like me, once you find out you are expecting, you head into the first few weeks of pregnancy totally blissed out with the knowledge you are going to have a baby – and knowledge of little else. It’s glorious – those first few days!! I am the first of my friends to do the whole kid thing, so no one was there to warn me of all the other “joys” the first few weeks bring too. I’d like to share my experiences so that if others face the same they won’t feel so surprised at what the pregnancy books don’t tell you!

1. Almost immediately, I experienced an explosion of growth in the bust region. It’s like Christmas!! However, this comes with a price: TENDERNESS and PAIN. As they say, no pain, no gain, right, so hold on, because this ride’s just getting started! This phenomenon began for me even before I was able to get a positive home pregnancy test – so get ready!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Party planning offers life lessons

T.’s birthday is around the corner. We’re at a point where we can’t get away with not throwing a party for him anymore. (We got away with that as much as possible over the last couple of years.) And I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but those things are getting ridiculously expensive. To be fair, I tried to throw a party at home once, and it ended up costing me the same as if I had Chuck E. Cheese host it. Add in the stress of getting everything ready--Lesson Learned. No more do-it-yourself kid birthday parties.

I remember when a birthday party consisted of a cake and pin-the-tail on the donkey. Or in my case, a barbecue at a local park and a piñata tied to a tree. Birthday parties are not what they used to be. So I prefer to hire out.

After much discussion, T. settled on a scavenger hunt party at a local rec center. I gave him three choices, told him how many people he could invite to each, and then helped him determine the list. He made the wise choice—more people for less glitz. I was quite proud when he didn’t make the connection that more people could equal more gifts. He just wants to hang out with his friends. Gifts are icing on the cake, so to speak.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

What’s happening to me?!

Realizing a woman goes through some interesting changes (mentally and physically) while pregnant, I’d like to be candid and share a few anecdotes that highlight some memorable pregnancy moments.

Let me begin by saying that I’ve always been one to take time and pride in my appearance – clothing, shoes, the way my hair was styled. Well, lately, it’s been a totally different situation. For the past few months, I’ve been cherishing every moment of sleep; because at night, I seem to get little of it – from restroom breaks, night sweats, along with the constant acrobatics from the little one growing in my belly – going to bed is a challenge. So, as long as my clothes match, I’m good.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Looking forward, looking back

I never pegged myself as a genealogy nerd, but shortly before our wedding, I found myself interested in where I came from. I futzed around here and there, looking at family trees online, but never got really serious about it. I had more important things on my mind, like whether or not we had enough glasses for drinks and keeping track of who hadn't sent in an RSVP.

But recently, I started looking again. Part of my sudden keen re-interest in my family tree has a lot to do with the fact that I'm at the winding down point in my pregnancy. Showers are done, the nursery is finished, and I'm supposed to be resting after work, feet up. I've never been good at just sitting and watching TV, so pulling out the laptop and looking around on a genealogy website seemed like a fairly harmless activity.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Posh look without the posh price tag

I was listening to the radio last week and heard that, according to certain sources, Victoria Beckham is indeed living up to her “Posh” name and spending £150,000 (about $240,000) on the nursery for her fourth child (reportedly a girl) due this summer.

How sad, I thought, that a sweet little baby is going to sleep and play all alone in a gingerbread cottage behind their mansion. After all, with that amount of money, surely Posh Spice is building a small house.

On the other hand, maybe I shouldn’t be too quick to criticize this expectant mom. After all, I very clearly remember my own nesting period. My daughter is almost four now, but I remember the sleepless nights during pregnancy, when she would kick me awake at 3 a.m. and I would go to the computer and spend the next few hours pouring over pictures of bedding.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Confessions of an Aunt-to-Be

I’m getting antsy. I admit it.

I’m ready to be an aunt. I would imagine I’m not as antsy as my sister-in-law since she’s dealing with the joys  that come along with being 34+ weeks pregnant, but antsy nonetheless.

It’s funny because you would think I’d be used to it by now with countless friends having babies this past year (Yes, I really have lost count there have been so many). I’ve nervously waited for status updates on Facebook and sent pleading messages to new dads to post even just one photo of the newest member of the family and eagerly gone and met newborn after newborn in the past year. But the home stretch of the third trimester hasn’t seemed SO long for those friends.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Why I'm glad my parents listened

autumn in Indiana
According to my dad, when I was 14 years old I said something that changed the fate of my family forever. 

Now, as an adult and a parent, this story kind of baffles me.

My dad has been in the newspaper business his entire career, which translated into a bit of a nomadic lifestyle for my mom, two older brothers and me. We’d lived in Fort Wayne, IN, Houston, TX, Alton, IL -- for a while it was a running joke in our family that once two years’ time had passed it was time to pick up and move.  Journalists tend to jump from publication to publication for a variety of reasons, but mostly for better opportunities, and my dad always seemed to be on the headhunters’ call list.

We finally planted roots in a small Indiana city near South Bend and stayed for seven years, the longest we’d lived in any one city since I’d been alive. We’d laugh about dodging that two-year bullet, that cursed deadline, and there seemed to be an unspoken understanding that meant we’d found home. My dad still got the headhunter calls every once in a while, but somehow they weren’t able to lure us away from the happy little Midwestern life we were creating there.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Taking time to experience nature

At last, it seems the icy days of winter have come to an end, and we welcome the springtime with wide, open arms! Spring weather is perfect for outdoor activities and introducing your little ones – or any of your loved ones, for that matter – to the beauty that is nature.

There’s nothing like a trip to the tranquil Japanese Gardens in Fort Worth to replenish your soul’s need for nature and balance. On a lovely Sunday afternoon, my husband and I took the kids for the first time. Dylan (3 years old) was absolutely delighted with the giant Koi in the garden’s many ponds and took an immediate liking to feeding them. (Note - if you go, don’t forget to pack quarters!).

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Pregnancy and dreams

I’m sitting in the hospital bed holding our newborn baby girl. My dad is seated next to me. A visitor walks in and says “Oh, how precious! What’s her name?” My dad replies back “Emory Jade.” I tell him in a frustrated tone, “Dad, we haven’t committed to that name yet. Please stop telling people.” A second person walks in and the same scenario repeats. Then a third.

I awoke from my strange dream and shared it with my husband, Josh. After some thought, we decided to look up the name Jade and found it meant “belonging to God,” which fit a Bible verse Josh wanted to put in the nursery. With that it was settled: the name that came to me in a dream became our daughter’s name. -- Julie Swink, Sr. Marketing Specialist.

Many moms come into the OB/GYN office with stories of profound dreams or nightmares during pregnancy.

During the recent ice and snow storms, I had the opportunity to research this tough question because I felt like I didn’t have a good enough answer to provide. My patients deserve the best from me and I wanted to be able to share an answer with them that had more “meat on its bones.” 

What did I find? I found that yes, hormones in pregnancy can increase dream activity. But the real question my patients were asking was, “Do they MEAN anything?” (Great stuff.)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Then she turned...

Have you heard the phrase that tells you that two is bad, three is worse, and when they turn four, everything is better?  I heard that so many times when Rachel was two years old and throwing her strong-willed temper tantrums.  Well, that was so.not.true. with us!

Everything, since birth, has been a power struggle for Rachel.  She came out not wanting to breathe and that was a sure sign that she was basically going to do what she wanted to do!  She was a really good baby but refused to breast feed.  When she turned 18 months old, the terrible two’s began!  She was such a challenge and that was the time that I found out I was pregnant with my second daughter.  I asked my husband what we were thinking!