Taming the Tantrums

Picture of child on swing with quote "Let me love you a little more, before you're not little anymore" from Taming the Tantrums

I have a three-year-old and a four-year-old. I know my share fair share of tantrums. I’m no expert, but I feel like I am slowly learning about taming the tantrums. Some days it still feels like one tantrum after another, other days are much better.

My youngest daughter can be especially challenging at times. Last week, we were shopping at the mall, both girls had to go to the bathroom. So the three of us girls went together. Maggie has a thing with wet clothing, she can’t wear anything with even a drop of liquid on it. She thought her pants got wet (which they did) and refused to put them on, in a public bathroom. She was tired and ended up having a HUGE meltdown which ended in her hitting me and trying to bite me. We both left the bathroom in tears. It is definitely not my proudest moment as a mom.

I wrote a post a while ago about How to Stop Arguing with your Toddler and while that works well during the meltdowns, I was desperate for something to tame the tantrums… in a dream world, something to make them disappear altogether. I dream of a tantrum fairy who just flutters in and takes the tantrums before they even start. But, she’s three, so I know that’s not going to happen!

How many of you have heard something along the lines of you can’t give anything without filling up your own cup first? I have learned this to be especially true in two ways during this season in life.

Filling My Cup

Taming the Tantrums with verse from Romans 15:13

I know each and every day, I need my strength to deal with whatever life throws my way. I need my cup to be full, I need Jesus!

The last month or so, I’ve been getting up earlier than my kiddos so I can spend some time in the Word and prayer. I find that time I spend with Jesus is so refreshing, it fills my cup so to say. My day seems to go MUCH better when I take those first moments of my day to be filled with the Lord. It improves my mood as well, which makes me a better mom.

I am NOT a morning person. I would sleep till noon if I could, but I know I need this time. Some mornings, I just want to crawl back into bed. I’ve put my phone with my alarm on the other side of the room so I have to get up!!

Filling Her Cup

How does this relate to my daughter and taming the tantrums? The key is time. I notice on the days I spend focused, one on one time with her, the better she acts. When I fill her cup, she’s in a better mood.

I’m not saying this as a quick fix. It isn’t. It’s hard some days to want to invest that one on one time with her, especially when she’s being so miserable. But I know how much she needs this.

Taming the Tantrums picture of girl on swing with quote "Let me love you a little more, before you're not little anymore"

Her favourite thing right now is being pushed on the swing. She will ask everyone and anyone to push her. She loves going high, asking over and over to push her higher and higher than ever. It’s pretty cute. How hard is it for me to take 15-20 minutes out of my day to go and push her in the swing?

I recently started reading the book “Whole Brain Child” by Dan Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson. I love that it talks about connecting with the child to the right and left sides of the brain. But again, a lot of it was what to do during the tantrum. I find spending quality time with her bites the tantrums in the bud taming the tantrums before they start happening.

Taming the Tantrums

Time is the way to tame the tantrums. Spending time with God tames my tantrums, and spending time with my daughter tames her tantrums. I need that time with God to be able to spend the time with Maggie; otherwise, I have nothing to give.

What are some ways you spend time to fill your own cup? How do you fill your kids’ cups? I’d love to hear!!

Child screaming with caption Taming the Tantrum

Never Forget an Important Date

Have you ever forgotten someone’s birthday? Or an important anniversary? I shared in my Newsletter in April that I completely forgot my 5 year old nephews birthday this year! He turned 5 in February. Granted February was a hectic month for us as we moved, but I still felt awful for forgetting it. I remembered a system my parents (and pretty much every one of my Aunts and Uncles had growing up) to never forget an important date.

How to Never Forget an Important Date Again

I grew up in a good Dutch family. We’re all a little stubborn and a little frugal (that’s the nice way to say cheap! But serious, I do love a good deal!) We went to church together on Sundays and ate supper together every night. And we had a birthday & anniversary calendar hanging in our house. For some reason, most Dutch people hang it in their bathroom, but ours was always in the kitchen. I looked it up on stuffdutchpeoplelike.com and it’s because it’s a place we go to every day and spend some alone time (unless you have toddlers, then it’s not alone time!) to peruse the calendar and see what important dates are coming up!

Birthday & Anniversary Calendar

I’ve had a couple of them since I’ve moved out many years ago, but never one that I really liked. So, I created my own! It was pretty easy to do once I figured out how to do it on Canva, but it took me about a month to finally get it all looking the way I wanted! It looks so lovely now hanging in my bathroom and I don’t plan to EVER forget another birthday or anniversary! You can purchase the calendar on my Etsy shop and print it out for yourself. Seriously, it’s a life saver!

Never Forget an Important Date graphic

She Dreams by Tiffany Bluhm

She Dreams by Tiffany Bluhm book cover

A Book Review of “She Dreams” by Tiffany Bluhm

When I was little I was a daydreamer. Even into my teens and early twenties you would often find me off in my own world. I had dreams of being an Olympic athlete, being a neurosurgeon, traveling and getting married and becoming a mother. While I’ve never won a gold medal at the Olympics or cut into someone’s head, I am living my dream as a wife and mother.

She Dreams by Tiffany Bluhm book cover

But when did we stop dreaming? I’m talking big God size dreams. In this book “She Dreams” Tiffany looks more into this and encourages us to dream again.

This post may contain affiliate links. Through no added cost to you, I may receive a small commission. I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review and opinion. For full details, please see our Disclosure Statement.

Why Don’t I dream?

Isn’t it easy as Mother’s to get bogged down with the nitty-gritty of everyday life? Our days seem mundane with laundry, grocery shopping, dishes, making meals, driving kids around… you get my point. I don’t dream like I used to. I have ideas and things I’d like to do, but not those big dreams of “I can do anything!” But not Olympic size dreams anymore.

She dreams quote

Even with this blog, I have goals I’ve set and things I’d like to accomplish, but where is that big pie in the sky dream of what this blog can be?

Maybe I don’t want to say out loud what I’d really like to do with this blog for fear of “jinxing” myself. Maybe I’m afraid to fail or afraid to succeed. I do have big dreams for this blog, but I’m scared to admit it. I’m probably afraid because I’ve had big dreams before only to see them crumble before me. But, that doesn’t mean God isn’t with me through it all.

“If I don’t let my past stay exactly where it belongs, which is behind me, then I can perpetuate the cycle of defeat and feel inadequate to move forward toward my God-sized dream.”

Moses Dreams

Tiffany uses the story of Moses to encourage us to dream big and bold. We all run into roadblocks and discouragements along the way, but God is with us and working through all of those hard times.

“God doesn’t always work in the way that seems the best to us. If God does not lead you along the shortest path to your goal, don’t complain or resist. Follow Him willingly and trust Him to lead you safely around unseen obstacles. He can see the end of your journey from the beginning, and he knows the safest and best route.”

“Some of us feel we don’t know how things will work out, therefore, we shouldn’t give it a go.”

I’ve never read the story of Moses as a story of a dreamer. So it was really interesting to look at the story of the Exodus from a different perspective. To be honest, I did find it a bit hard to follow where Tiffany was going through parts of the story, but the overall theme is the same and inspiring… She Dreams.

She Dreams

I would definitely recommend this book to everyone. It’s so important for us to dream again. I’ve been challenged to let myself dream again. I know you would be inspired by this book too. You can get it here from Amazon, or you can also enter to win a free book here through a Rafflecopter giveaway. You only have until May 14th, 2019 to enter this draw, so enter soon! **Draw is now closed**

She Dreams book tour give away image

More for Mom – Living your Whole and Holy Life by Kristin Funston ~ A Book Review

More For Moms ~ Livivng Your Whole and Holy Life by Kristin Funston book cover

So I just finished reading Kristin Funston’s book More for Mom- Living Your Whole and Holy Life (you can get it on Amazon here) and boy did I enjoy it!! This is a must read for any mom. You really feel like you get to know Kristin, having a cup of coffee or tea together, as she walks through the book with you.

More For Moms ~ Livivng Your Whole and Holy Life by Kristin Funston book cover

This post may contain affiliate links. Through no added cost to you, I may receive a small commission. I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. You can get more information from our disclosure statement.

Whole & Holy

As you read through this book, Kristen really has a focus on us “work-hard” moms being whole and holy. This concept of being whole and holy is brought up in pretty much every chapter. Of course, we can only have this through Christ and Kristen weaves that into the book with many scripture references.

I was reminded of a lot that Alisa Keeton had to say in The Wellness Revelation which I read last month. Having a whole life, living wholeheartedly; this is what Christ desires for us.

Revelation Wellness By Alisa Keeton

“We need our brains to create muscle memory of what whole and holy thoughts feel like.”

“According to Psalm 24:1, God has claimed the world and everything in it. Let’s stop letting the world claim us and remember who we belong to.”

More for Mom Friendships

I have to admit, Chapter 4 was a very convicting chapter for me to read. Since I became a Mom, I feel like I’ve let a lot of my friendships slide. I haven’t made a great effort in being a friend, constantly putting my family first.

“To have a friend we have to be a friend. To have relationship, we have to give relationship. All types of relationships. This is what we are called to do in Christ.”

Kristen talks about how we steal other people’s joy or peace or happiness when we aren’t a friend. We steal their peace when they’re scrambling to look for someone to watch their kids and we don’t offer until the last moment. We steal their joy or happiness of having fellowship when we don’t make emotional space for them.

Guilty, guilty, guilty.

I’ve been convicted to be more open to people in general; convicted to be a better friend to the friends I already have.

My hope and prayer is that you all know I am here as a friend for you. I don’t just blog for myself. I blog for you; to connect with you, encourage you and journey with you in faith, family and motherhood.

Fasting

I was reminded again of how fasting is so good for both our physical and spiritual selves. I wrote a post, 6 Things I Learned Fasting when I did a fast while I was reading The Wellness Revelation and was amazed at some of the lessons I learned. These were not the lessons I thought I’d learn from fasting, but I was rejuvenated physically and spiritually.

Kristin reminds of the importance of fasting and that it’s something we aught to be doing. I need to be doing another fast! I hope you will join me, if you feel led to of course! Let me know how it goes!

So much More for Mom

There is so much more I could talk about with this book! From praying scripture to dreaming big again, Kristin covers it all. But, I want you to read it and experience yourself, so I’m going to finish off here. Let me leave with this quote from the book:

“I think the good moms are the ones who follow their dreams, work hard at whatever they do, love their people well, and give Jesus all the credit and glory along the way. These are the moms who are doing the thing day in and day out and doing it well.”

About the Author

With a passion for writing, Kristin Funston encourages women in a way that is relatable and practical, with a healthy dose of humor. She has a master’s degree in Communication Studies from Mexico State University. Kristin is a member and employee of Hope Presbyterian Church and works as the Marriage and Family Coordinator and a leader in the women’s ministry. She is also a regular contributor to multiple blogs including The Better Mom, City Moms blog, TODAY Parenting and Scary Mommy. Funston resides outside of Memphis, TN with her husband and three daughters.


Head shot of Kristin Funston, author of More for Mom ~ Living Your Whole and Holy Life

Let me know what you think of the book, be sure to pick it up here! Happy reading!

6 Things I Learned Fasting

6 Things I learned Fasting

I’ve been doing a new wellness program called The Wellness Revelation (more on that in another post!) The other week was about bondage and how we are often slaves to our food. We don’t eat to fuel, we eat to try to fill a void. Anyway, we were challenged to fast. I’ve never done an actual fast before and I didn’t think I was going to do one this time either. I just thought “I don’t feel called to this.” Well, I was wrong. Throughout the week, many signs pointed to me fasting. Here are the 6 things I learned Fasting.

So, I decided to go ahead and do it and see what God wanted to show me! It seems fitting seeing as I’ve been working through writing my devotional on the book of Esther. The first few chapters of the book are full of praying and fasting. **Sign up here to get on the list to receive your very own copy of my 5 Day Esther Devotional for FREE**

Free Book of Esther Devotional Sign up

Things I learned while fasting

1. It’s hard to do with kids! I wasn’t eating, but my kids still had to eat! They aren’t quite old enough to fend for themselves. Smelling their food was so tempting! I almost caved a couple times. The chicken nuggets they had for lunch smelled so good! I almost gave in and broke my fast to eat one, but God helped me resist temptation.

2. I realized how much I eat just because I think I “deserve” it. A cookie here, sure I earned it doing all that laundry. I went for a walk today, I can have those chips! Or I made it through another day and the girls are safely in bed, I’d love some chocolate, thank you!

I almost ate that chicken nugget because it had been a long morning with sick kids spent at the walk in clinic. I earned that nugget. Often, I use food as a reward for myself.

3. I am blessed to be tempted by food. One thing the book said about fasting was to consider those in developing countries who have no food. They don’t know where their next meal is coming from. As I smelled those delicious nuggets, I realized just how lucky I am to be tempted to eat the food. So many people don’t have food to be tempted by!

4. I prayed, a lot. Not just for the strength to not eat the nugget, but also for people and situations around me. I prayed for my kids while they were eating breakfast and I was sipping water and tea. I prayed for the poor as I realized how lucky we are to have so much food. When I was tempted to eat something, my mind would shift to God and why I was fasting and prompt me to have a conversation with him. It was really nice.

6 Things I Learned Fasting- praying in sunset

5. I am able to resist temptation. Sure giving in would have been easier, but I am able to say no. Before, I would be craving and just say “oh what the heck, I can just eat it!” Those add up and I didn’t even realize how much I was eating in a day. Now that I know I went a whole day saying “No,” I know I can say no to even the small things everyday. It might seem like a small thing, but for me, it was a big thing to work through.

6. At the end of the day I really thought I’d be stuffing my face with food because I was so hungry. But I didn’t. I was hungry, but not like I thought I would be. I learned that it really is Christ who sustains me and not food. Food is good and necessary to fuel our bodies, but it is Christ who gives us real life!

If you’ve ever thought of fasting, I challenge you to give it a try. I really did feel dependent and very close to God that day. Pray about it and if God puts it on your heart, don’t be afraid to try it. If you do, let me know how it went and what you learned! I’d love to hear it!!

6 Things I learned Fasting

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What are You Worth?

My kids are sick… both of them, but especially Lily. She’s got a chest infection and is on antibiotics and an inhaler. Last night as I was laying in bed, trying to fall asleep, listening to her cough, I was just overcome with how much I wanted to just take it away from her. I would take the cough and sniffles in a heart beat for her. That’s how much I love and value her, that’s how much she’s worth to me. What are you worth?

I was at church a few weeks ago, and the worship leader was talking about what our value is. Value is usually determined by how much someone is willing pay for an item. There are somethings I’ll spend a little more money on (I’m usually pretty frugal) because I value them more. Like I said, I highly value my daughter, my family in general. I would do anything for them. So, what are you worth?

Ultimate Sacrifice

You are worth so much, Christ paid His life for you!! His actual, physical life. And not just any death, a humiliating death on the cross. He literally took our place and gave his life for us. That’s how much you are worth to Him!

"But God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" Romans 5:8

When Lily was born (check out her preemie story here) I was struck by just how big of a sacrifice this is. There I was, lying naked for all to see. I had my arms stretched out for IV’s and blood pressure cuffs. I was literally about to sacrifice my body for my daughter. In the next couple minutes they would start cutting me open to get my daughter out and save both of our lives. I know, it’s not an exact analogy, but that’s what was going on in my head as I was laying there. This was the biggest sacrifice I’ve ever made for someone.

And Christ’s sacrifice for us is so much more! I hope and pray you know how much He loves you and how much you are worth to Him. I pray that He is the one you look to when you are trying to figure out what your worth is. If you’re feeling down on yourself, feeling like you can’t keep up or live up to expectations, remember your worth! Remember what Christ paid for you and live in light of that! You are so loved and treasured.

Moving Forward

I wonder what our lives would look like if we really believed how much we are worth. We can have so much confidence and self worth in Christ. If we knew or understood how much Christ paid for us, I think we would all just live in so much more joy and happiness and thanksgiving! I want to live like that! And I can because of Christ’s sacrifice!

"Man does not know its value, nor is it found in the land of the living." Job 28:13

What are your thoughts on this? How do you think your life would look if you truly knew how much Christ thinks you are worth and valued? Would it look different?

What are You Worth?
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4 Dangers of Being too Busy

Have you ever took on too much? Said yes to too many things or too many people? That’s what I did this month. Maybe I got a little too gung-ho about it being a New Year with a new start. I said I’d participate in 3 book clubs, made some big goals and plans for my blog including writing a devotional on the book of Esther (stay tuned to sign up for that in the next few weeks!!), took on a pretty difficult crochet project and decided to do a new wellness program. Oh yeah… and as if that’s not enough, we’re moving next month!! Busyness!! But there are many dangers of taking on too much! Here are my top 4 Dangers of being too busy.

4 Dangers of Being too Busy

1. Burnout

I’ve been there… I’ve reached the end of myself and burnt out. I know God wants us to reach the end of ourselves in order for Him to do His work, but there’s a difference to surrendering that and working ourselves dead to the bone. I’ve seen others go through burn out as well and it’s tough. Sometimes, we have to make really hard decisions to take care of ourselves and avoid burning out.

When we first decided it was time for my Dad to move into a nursing home (due to his Dementia and Parkinson’s Disease) my mom was nearing burn out. She was his full time care giver and he required 24/7 care. That’s a lot for one person to do. My siblings and I tried to help as much as we could, but she was with him the most, so most of it fell on her plate. It was time for him to go into a care home, but it was still a hard decision. It was the right decision, and I believe it helped my mom avoid burnout.

Girl with hands on face by computer- 4 Dangers of Being too Busy.

2. Exhaustion/Insomnia

Staying up late to finish up a project, getting up early to get a head start. Burning the candle at both ends. It’s a dangerous thing! Sleep is so important to our health. Our bodies need that time to rest and be restored. Here’s a WebMD article outlining 9 Surprising Benefits of Sleep. Hello decreased hunger! That alone is worth it for me (I can be a bit of a stress eater.) I know too, at least for me, when I have a lot to do, my mind races at night. Rather than getting a good nights sleep, I’m planning out my schedule for the next day, or thinking about all the things that could possibly go wrong, or trying to remember what that guy on that TV shows name was. My mind will do anything but sleep when it’s overworked and overtired! It’s a never ending cycle of tiredness!

3. Short Temper

When I have too much to do, the people around me who mean the most to me get the worst of me. I’m either so tired (see #2 on the list) or so consumed by what I have to do, that heaven forbid you interrupt me! Even if you are my 3 year old daughter asking me to play with you. I get short tempered and I yell more than I like or want to. Not just my kids, but my husband doesn’t get the best of me either. I’m so busy trying to complete everything on my to-do list that I end up with no time for him. It’s not fair to anyone, and it just makes me feel guilty in the end (which is another thing I’ll be thinking about at night now!)

4. Paralysis

I don’t mean physically, although I’m sure with enough stress you probably could become paralyzed. I mean when you sit there looking at all the things you want to accomplish and you just don’t know where to start! It’s easy to get so overwhelmed by everything that you never really get anything done! Fear can also be our worst enemy in these situations. It can be so paralyzing. Fear that we won’t be good enough if we don’t accomplish what we set out to do, fear of what others think about us, fear of failure, even fear of success. These are all things that can paralyze us and leave us completely ineffective. So, instead of getting a few things crossed off your list, you get nothing done.

Scrabble letters spelling out Fear

So, I know I need to watch myself. I know I need to get my sleep and say no once in a while. I hate when I say yes to something only to realize I can’t actually do it. I’ve had to drop 2 of the book clubs I was reading with just to avoid burning out.

What are somethings you do to avoid the dangers of being too busy? What do you do when you reach a level of busyness that is too much for you?

4 Dangers of being too busy

I’m so honoured to share that this post was featured on the Salt & Light link up!!

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Finding Joy in Cleaning Up

Joy

This year, I chose the word “JOY” as my word of the year ( Word of the Year 2019.) Well, it’s only a week in and I feel like the word is jumping out all over the place! Seriously, I’m seeing it everywhere; books I’m reading, shows I’m watching, random Facebook posts. It’s EVERYWHERE!! It’s like God said “Ok, you chose to word Joy, now I’m going to show it to you all over the place!! But, finding joy in cleaning up was not something I expected!

My Top 2019 Resolution- Word of the Year is Joy

Tidying Up with Marie Kondo

Recently, I started watching the Netflix series “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.” What an eye opener! The very first episode the husband is more bothered by the clutter and mess than the wife. The thing that keeps coming up in the show is, when looking at items of clothing, or collectables, or books, to ask yourself “Does it spark Joy?”

My husband and I have different expectations when it comes to being clean and tidy. It’s opposite of the “typical” gender roles. Pete likes things much more clean and organized than I would do for myself. Believe me, we’ve had our fair share of fights over the state of the kitchen (he’s usually right, but don’t tell him that!!) I just honestly sometimes don’t notice how chaotic it’s gotten, I guess I got used to it living on my own before we got married. And sometimes at the end of the day running after 2 toddlers, dishes are the LAST thing I want to do! Pete has told me multiple times, that getting rid of clutter would help decrease some of my stress. I always just sort of brushed it off. Honestly, until I watched this Netflix show, I never really understood how much it stressed him out.

In that first episode, the husband says that his family is not getting the best of him because he’s always stressed out about the clutter. Wow. I feel like I’ve been putting Pete through the same thing.

Finding Joy in Cleaning Up

We are moving next month into a smaller place than we have now. Now is the PERFECT time to start de-cluttering and finding joy in it at the same time (seeing as Joy is my word of the year!) Yesterday, I went through the majority of my clothes. Each item I looked at and asked if it brought me joy. I have a garbage bag to bring to the thrift store. There were things I was just holding on to for no real reason! If the only items I have in my closet are things that bring me joy, I’ll be able to feel joyful in what I’m wearing every day rather than being overwhelmed by choices and not knowing what to wear. The next thing I want to tackle is books!

Finding Joy in Cleaning - mopping the kitchen

I never considered how keeping a tidy, uncluttered house would bring joy to our family. But, I can see it now. Sparking joy in my husband and having him less stressed will help me in finding joy in tidying up. Bringing him joy brings me joy! Not having as much “stuff” makes it easier to keep things clean. So, unless something brings me joy, why keep it? We have a coffee table downstairs that was my family’s when I was growing up, so I have a sentimental attachment. I asked myself last night, does it bring me joy? Not really.. I told Pete to sell it!

Marie Kondo

This lady is amazing! She even has her own YouTube channel with tons of tips including how to properly fold your laundry. I’ve been doing it wrong all along! the amount of room I saved in my drawers yesterday was amazing. And I can see everything without having to pull everything out. That brings me joy!

She also has a book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. I’ve downloaded it as an audio book and can’t wait to start listening to it!

I’d love for you to join me on this journey of finding joy in cleaning up. You can help keep me accountable! Does having a tidy house bring you joy? Are you less stressed out with a clean place to live?

Finding Joy in Cleaning Up - organized pantry
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Word of the Year 2019

My Top 2019 Resolution- Word of the Year is Joy

New Years Resolutions

Do you set New Years Resolutions? I’m not a big resolution setting person, but I’m going to share my Word of the Year 2019 with you today!

I used to work in a few different gyms. January 1st was always the busiest day of the entire year. I would always laugh. What made January 1st different than any other day of the year? Why do we wait until a new year to set a resolution? By the 3rd week of January things would always die down and the majority of people started would quit coming in. So I’ve always found resolutions kind of silly because no one really keeps them!

Last year, I decided to make a bit of a resolution. I resolved to make God more prominent in my life and to actually believe in Him and what He says. 2018 was another rough year for us and I was really finding myself worrying and doubting too much and not believing God was who He said He was. So I started making conscious decisions to believe in Him and choose to trust Him.

I also really want to make sure my girls know who Christ is and how much He loves them. If I’m doubting and worrying so much, what does that show them? They can choose when they are older what they believe, but I at least want them to know Christ and be able to model my faith in Him to them.

What is a Word of the Year

So that brings me to this year! What is my top 2019 resolution? I have heard a lot of people lately talking about choosing a word for the year. The website My One Word describes choosing a word as “My One Word” is an experiment designed to move you beyond this cycle. The challenge is simple: lose the long list of changes you want to make this year and instead pick ONE WORD.” So this year, for my word of the year 2019, I have chosen JOY.

“Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

Choose Joy

I wrote about Joy as part of my Advent series. Week 2: The Secret to Joy this Christmas. Joy is something I feel has been lacking in my life recently. I find myself being grumpy a lot more than being joyful, yelling at my kids a lot more than I’d like to, not appreciating my husband as much as I should. I find myself focusing more on circumstances than on the One who walks through it all with me.

“You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Psalm 16:11

So, this year I am choosing joy. I am choosing Christ and the joy He brings. I already have the joy within me as a fruit of His spirit, now I just need to let that overflow into my life rather than looking elsewhere.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22 & 23

“A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

So what is your word for 2019? What are you choosing this year? I’d love to hear from you and we can keep each other accountable!!

Word of the Year 2019

Happy New Year from my family to yours! Thank you for sharing so much of 2018 with me and I look forward to all 2019 has in store.

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Obsessed with Picture Perfect

Fall is here and that means Pumpkin patch season!! I love going to our local pumpkin patch to get pumpkins and pick apples. I’ve been twice in the last week! As long as it isn’t raining, I’m game to go! Shopping local is awesome and I love to support local. Plus, the fruit always tastes better and lasts longer as it’s straight from the farm! It’s also a great season for taking pictures. But, I wonder lately if we are becoming to obsessed with picture perfect.

Pumpkins in obsessed with picture perfect

Field Trip to the Pumpkin Patch

The other day I was on a field trip with Lily. I was struck by how many people were snapping photos after photo after photo of their kids. It seemed they were doing this rather than just enjoying the time with their kid. Moms were stuck behind their cameras or cell phones. They were moving their kids around and telling them to sit still to get the perfect picture. Kids were fidgeting and trying to run away making moms more and more impatient.

Girl running through trees in Obsessed with Picture perfect

Obsessed with Picture Perfect

Are we so obsessed with picture perfect in today’s world trying to get the perfect image to put on our social media? Do we take pictures rather than spending these special moments making memories with our loved ones? We’re so concerned about portraying our perfect life on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Sometimes I think we forget to enjoy the time we get to spend with our kids. I’ll admit, I’m guilty of it too. As soon as I snap a cute picture of the girls I start thinking about how I can put it on social media. If I don’t like the picture, there is no chance I’m posting it! We “airbrush” our lives to make them look how we want rather than actually connecting to people on a human level. We no longer relate to others in our struggles and weakness, joys and strengths.

Authenticity

God wants us to be authentic. It’s sad really how disconnected our world is becoming. There are more and more ways to connect with others, but is having a device in our hands or in front of us really connecting with people?

Beautiful girl in flower field with Obsessed with Picture perfect

When Christ died for us, He did it so He can have a relationship with us; and we can have one with Him. God is all about relationships, that’s why He’s 3 in 1, that’s why He created us in the first place. He wants us all to live in relationships. His greatest commandment is to Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31. There is nothing more important to God and there should be nothing more important to us.

I pray that as I snap pictures my images won’t be more important to me then the subjects I’m taking pictures of!

Lily and I on her field trip to the pumpking patch in Obsessed with Picture perfect

Overcoming Mom Guilt

This is the time of year my “Mom Guilt” kicks into high gear. It’s almost Lily’s birthday, she’ll be 4 next week. I still can’t believe that, but it’s true! You can read all about her miracle birth story in my post My Preemie Miracle. Each year, I feel like I’m getting better at overcoming mom guilt that I feel this time of year.

Picture of me holding my preemie miracle in Overcoming Mom Guilt
First time holding my precious baby girl!

Lily’s Birth

4 days before Lily was born, I was in the ER with severe upper right abdominal pain. It was my third time in the ER in the 6 and a half months I was pregnant. I had gallstones and the way Lily was sitting in my tummy was causing them to be pushed out. Talk about pain! I was 13 weeks pregnant when it first happened and I was sure I was miscarrying. The pain was unimaginable. Thankfully it was just gallstones and not the baby!

Anyway, when I got to the ER that third time, they did the standard tests of temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. My blood pressure was through the roof… I remember seeing 184/something. When I was in at 19 weeks, the nurses had told me that after 20 weeks any woman who comes into the ER with stomach pain automatically gets sent up to the maternity ward. Even though I was almost 29 weeks, I was not. I was kept in the ER. That was my first mistake.

I knew they had said that to me on my last visit, but everyone just kept putting my high blood pressure off as being from the pain. I should have pushed to go up to the maternity ward. Both of my sisters also had early deliveries due to preeclampsia (Don’t know what Preeclampsia is? Read my post: What is Preeclampsia?) Not 11 weeks early, but still early. I should have known better knowing the symptoms of preeclampsia. I wasn’t having some of the more common symptoms, such as headache and vision problems, so I guess I just ignored it.

The “What ifs” of Overcoming Mom Guilt

There are so many “what ifs” that run through my head! What if my preeclampsia was caught earlier? Would they have been able to keep Lily in longer? What if I didn’t have a routine prenatal appointment 4 days later when it was finally caught? What if I had a seizure or a stroke? I was at home by myself for those 4 days. Anything could have happened in those hours Pete was at work. What if, what if, what if…

Woman with head in her hands with heading Overcoming Mom Guilt

What if’s cause guilt. We second guess what we did. We think of all the ways we could have done things better. We strive to be perfectionists (at least I do!) and when something doesn’t go perfectly as planned, we heap on the guilt. I believe we are harder on ourselves than we are on anyone else. We need to learn to have some compassion for ourselves as well.

So, how do we overcome Mom Guilt? Thanksgiving.

I am Grateful printed on heart in Overcoming Mom Guilt

Thanksgiving overcomes Mom Guilt

I am thankful Lily is a lively, active, smart and challenging. She is a completely typical 4-year-old! Thankfully nothing happened in those 4 days between when I was in the ER and when Lily was born. Thankfully I had that doctors appointment set up already four days later. I am thankful for Lily’s safe delivery as well as for my safety that day.

I am thankful for our time in the NICU, I really am. It’s not how I would have planned things to go, but we were so blessed by our time there by seeing our family and friends come around and support us. We felt God right there with us. We were completely confident He would provide for us no matter what the outcome was.

Ours was the best possible outcome, but I know there are others who do not get that. But there is always something to be thankful for. There is always something other than guilt that we can focus on and be thankful for; even if it is just the fact that God is walking through this time in our life with us. He will never leave us or forsake us and for this reason, we can be strong and courageous (Deuteronomy 31:6).

So, if you are feeling Mom guilt today, think about all the things you are thankful for. Write them down! Start a gratitude journal! Tell them to someone! Tell them to God! The more we are thankful for, the less we feel guilty for. Overcoming Mom Guilt is possible!

Reflections of a NICU Mom

September is NICU awareness month. Before I had Lily I had only heard of a few people who had spent time in the NICU with their babies. But you never fully understand it until you go through it yourself. Its hard to explain the roller coaster of emotions that you go through when you’re there. Its a real contradiction; you’re excited yet terrified, happy yet sad, heartbroken yet thankful. Looking back now almost 4 years later, I still don’t know if I’ve fully come to terms with what happened. But here are some of my reflections of being a NICU Mom.

My little angel in her incubator in Reflections of a NICU Mom

Reflections of a NICU Mom

The birth of your child is supposed to be an exciting time for everyone. When you are told your baby is going to be born prematurely, everything changes. We weren’t ready for her to come, emotionally or physically. We had literally just gotten her crib the day before she was born. It wasn’t even put together yet. Her nursery was no where near being done. I was supposed to have another 3 months to get ready. But she was coming whether we wanted to or not. We were both in danger, so she had to come out then (read my post about our Preemie Miracle ) 

My husband and I with our daughter in reflections of a NICU Mom

NICU Mourning Period

I missed out on a lot of things I thought I would experience when having a baby. Like missing out on labour and having a “normal” vaginal birth. I didn’t even get to be the first one to see Lily. Multiple doctors and nurses met her before I did. My husband saw her and spent time with her before I did. Even my parents and my sister could go and visit her before I was allowed out of the maternity ward. It was tough. Those are all things I would say I needed to grieve during our time in the NICU. It’s OK to mourn things not going the way you expected, as long as you don’t let the grief take over. I think it’s an important part of the healing process.

Starting the Healing Process

You see, it’s not just the baby who needs help, support and healing… it’s the parents too. Of course the baby is the primary focus, but our emotional health as new parents is important to. You can’t be a good parent if you can’t take care of yourself first. I had to learn this the hard way by leaving my daughter at the hospital overnight to go home and get a shower and a good nights sleep in my own bed. It was heart wrenching to leave her there. I had to learn this by taking the time to go for a walk or get a tea to drink even though my Mom guilt made me think I needed to be in Lily’s room 24/7.

The only way I was able to do this was that I knew she had the BEST care possible. She was exactly where she needed to be. We had the most well equipped baby sitters ever, our NICU nurses and doctors. I can’t even begin to express the appreciation I have for these women and men. They would leave their families for 12-24 hours at a time to come and take care of my baby, would talk me through all the medical jargon and explain to me in plain English what was going on and what the plan for her was; they explained all the beeps and lights on the machines Lily was hooked up to, they made me feel like a person… a normal person. Not just a zombie who was going through the motions (even though I felt like it at times!)

Finally Feeling like a NICU Mom

To be honest, I didn’t really feel like a real mother until Lily started breast feeding around 2 months old. I pumped religiously before that so she could still have my milk, but there was so little else I felt like I could do. The nurses let us change her diaper in the isolette and we bathed her, but that’s about all we could do other than cuddling her (I sure did enjoy the snuggles though! She does not like to cuddle anymore… maybe I used them all up while she was in the hospital). When I finally got to nurse her it was something only I could do for her. No one else, only me… her Mother. It is one of my most special memories, something I cherish as my reflections of a NICU Mom.

Me holding my preemie in Reflections of a NICU Mom

Peace that Passes Understanding

The whole time we were there, even the day she was born, I was scared but I had this deep sense of peace. I knew that no matter what happened, we would be OK. We would just deal with whatever our new normal was. Whether she needs glasses from being a preemie, or is diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, or needs heart surgery because of the hole in her heart… all I can say is I know God was with us walking every step of the way in our NICU journey. That’s the only explanation I can come up with!

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~Phillippians 4:7

xoxo

Caroline

My preemie baby with reflections of a NICU Mom

Read more related articles about our NICU journey:

A Day in the Life of a NICU Momma

Must Haves for Bringing Home a Preemie

Getting through a NICU stay

My Preemie Miracle

What is Preeclampsia

3 Words to Stop Arguing with your Toddler

It’s been a long, hot, smokey summer here in BC. Our province has literally been on fire and the smoke has basically taken over. I’ve lived in BC pretty much all of my 36 years and I have NEVER experienced smokey air like this. For those of you with toddlers, you know what staying inside for multiple days means… lots of whining, arguing and tantrums. But, through this experience, I have learned there are 3 words to use to stop arguing with your toddler.

Forced to Stay Indoors

The air quality has been so bad, we’ve been forced to stay inside on many occasions. I’m still a little cautious with Lily’s lungs because of her being so premature (read that story here ) She’s at a higher risk for asthma and other breathing problems because she was born with underdeveloped lungs.

3 words to stop arguing with your toddler. Image of smoky Vancouver An Image of Vancouver in the smoke from CTV News Vancouver (https://bc.ctvnews.ca/dramatic-difference-vancouver-skyline-transformed-by-smoke-1.2456182)

My girls need to burn (bad word choice, no pun intended) off energy and they LOVE being outside. There’s only so much energy they can burn off while playing inside. There’s less room, so they’re in each others space more, which leads to more arguing. It’s an endless cycle some days.

Bedtime is the worst here in our house. The girls still have pent up energy and try to get it all out before going to sleep. Getting them ready for bed is exhausting. I started to feel like I was just yelling at them all the time and they didn’t listen anyway. I’d end up with 2 streakers running down the hallway while I threatened “don’t make me get Daddy up here!!” Some nights Pete would just have it with the screaming and arguing and talking back he’d come up anyway. They usually smarten up a bit when Daddy’s around.

One night I was at my wits end! We’d been stuck inside for 2 or 3 days. Our only outings had been grocery shopping and to PetSmart to get them out and see the fish (they love the fish!) I was on the floor, close to tears, after fighting with them for what seemed like FOREVER over which pajamas to wear and then actually putting those pajamas on. They just would not listen.

3 words to stop arguing with your toddler, angry child

The 3 Words to Stop Arguing with your Toddler

I couldn’t help but think to myself “this is not working…” I took a moment just to take a breath and regain some composure. Then I looked at Lily and I said “Hey Lily, you know what? I LOVE YOU!” Then I looked at Maggie and said “Hey Maggie, you know what? I LOVE YOU!” I think they were a little shocked at first! I brought them both over for a little hug and snuggle and from them on, the whole getting ready for bed routine went a lot smoother.

I don’t know if it was me taking a moment to gather myself and remind myself that I love them, or if it was me reminding them that I love them. Maybe I’d been yelling too much for too long and they’d tuned me out. But those 3 simple words made such a difference to our night. I’ve tried it a couple other times when we’re having a tough time dealing with big emotions.

Rather than yelling or getting upset, I stop and tell them I love them. It doesn’t mean they don’t get a time out or have to say sorry for their actions. There are still consequences. But it really just resets the whole situation. It reminds them that I am doing this because I love them, not out of spite, or being mean or just because I feel like it.

I Love Them

I love them and I want them to know right from wrong, and I want them to learn to be kind to each other and others. I love them and I want them to know whining is not going to get them what they want in life and that sometimes they’re going to have to work really hard to get what they want. Again, I love them and I want them to be able to share with others and make friends. I love them and I want them to learn to be responsible and work hard at whatever tasks they are given.

What are some ways you deal with whinny, overtired toddlers? How do you and your family cope with big emotions and tantrums?

3 words to stop arguing with your toddler. I love you

Related article:Loving discipline

Holidays 2018

 

Sorry I’ve been a little MIA lately! Pete took 2 weeks off of work and we had a GREAT little vacation with our family. Here are some highlights of our Holidays 2018!

Camping

We went for 3 nights and 4 days camping at Rolley Lake just outside of Mission, BC. It was fantastic! Gorgeous campsite; great little beach by the lake; awesome weather! You can read all about it here!

Also check out my Ultimate Family Camping Checklist downloadable PDF

Click here for your FREE PDF

Road Trip

Every year at the end of July, my sister and brother in law in Enderby host a big family birthday bash for my 2 nephews. My oldest nephew, Ethan’s, birthday is July 27th and his younger brother, Myles’, birthday is July 30th. So it works out well to do them all together. This year Ethan turned 18 and Myles turned 10, so it was kinda a big year for them both!

We had just got home from camping, so rather than camp out in my sister’s yard like we have in the past, we decided to book a hotel. It’s a good 5 1/2 hour trip from our place, so we left fairly early on the Saturday and made it there mid afternoon. Everything went well, other than 1 minor puking incident for Maggie, not such a fun part of our holiday 2018. She gets car sick and I hadn’t brought any Gravol along 🙁 Poor kiddo… she was fine and fell asleep after she puked! On the way home we took some Gravol from my sister so we could avoid another incident!

We stopped in Merritt for supper at my other sister’s house. So, the girls got to see all of their cousins that weekend! They had so much fun. Their big cousins are so good with them and the girls just love playing with them all, they look up to them a ton.

Holidays 2018 picture of 8 out of 11 cousins eating ice cream cake
8 of 11 cousins enjoying some birthday ice cream cake!

Birchwood Dairy

If you are in or around the Abbotsford, BC area this summer (or any summer!) be sure to check out Birchwood Dairy! They have some of the best ice cream in town! Plus, they have a petting zoo area with cows, ponies, goats and sheep that the girls just loved. We bought a bag of apples and celery for $0.50 and the girls went to town feeding all the animals. They especially liked feeding the baby goats and the ponies. There’s also a playground with swings and a slide and some really cool old cars, trucks and tractors to look at. You can watch the farmers milk the cows in the parlor from 3:30-5:30pm as well, so we caught some of that on our way out. It was Pete’s first time seeing a milking parlor too!

Holidays 2018 Birchwood Dairy

Toronto Blue Jays

The Jays were playing in Seattle this past weekend. so we left the girls with my Mom and Pete and I made the trip down there. It was a long weekend and I think half of BC was heading down to see the Jays play, so we had a 2 hour wait at the border! I think that’s the longest I’ve ever had to wait. If you’re familiar with Abbotsford and the Sumas border crossing, we were stopped by Costco already! We hit up the Seattle Premium Outlet Mall on the way down there. Of course, we only left with things for the girls! Pretty typical once you become a parent!!

When we got to Seattle, we parked near the stadium and just walked around for a bit and took in the atmosphere. Everywhere you turned there were more and more Blue Jay fans! We met fans from Calgary, Campbell River, Victoria and Cranbrook.

Pete’s been to couple Jays home games in Toronto and he said it totally felt like a home game there. It was a sea of Blue Jays blue when you looked out at the stadium. We got to see an awesome game. We saw some great pitching from Marco Estrada, a home run by Aledys Diaz and to top it all off a streaker ran onto the field in the 9th inning. Pretty hilarious, but apparently he’s paying quite a hefty price. You can get fined up to $5000 and spend a night in jail. Turns out this guy was from Ireland too and is possibly facing deportation back there! I hope it was all worth it for him!

Holidays 2018 photo collage of trip to Seattle Mariners vs Toronto Blue Jays

Abbotsford Agrifair

We wrapped up our holidays by heading out to the Abbotsford Agrifair. Abbotsford has this fair every year to showcase some of the Agriculture in our city. We’ve taken the girls before, but I think this is the first year they really started to appreciate it. The RCMP Musical Ride was there, so we watched a bit of that. It’s so amazing what they can do with those horses! So beautiful!! It was scorching hot there with no shade, so we didn’t stay for the whole thing.

After that, Maggie wanted to go look at every single animal. After a brief meltdown by the Lego display, we went and had a snack and headed into the barns. It was pretty neat seeing all the cows, chickens, goats and horses. You can’t go to the fair without Mini-donuts, so we had that for a snack and then went back home for supper. It was hot, but the girls enjoyed it!!

Holidays 2018 Abbotsford Agrifair Lily and Maggie posing as a flower and bee
Our little flower and honey bee!!

So, that’s our holiday recap!! What have you all been up to so far this summer? Any great places to recommend?

love,

Caroline

Sick Toddlers 101

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Yesterday I had the “fun” job of being Mommy to a sick little girl. I got puked on 4 times, did 3 loads of laundry (there’s another one waiting to be done in the bath tub, I just haven’t gotten around to it yet) and enjoyed some serious snuggles. There is nothing worse than seeing one of your little ones sick. You just want to take all the hurt and grossness on yourself so they can feel better. But, unfortunately it happens and we Mommy’s get to deal with it! So, here we go with Sick Toddler 101! Here are some tips to help get through these not so pleasant times.

My poor little sicko

1. Have your medicine cabinet stocked!! I had to run and take Maggie with me to the drug store yesterday just to pick up a few things. The whole time I was there I was thinking “please, don’t throw up!” Thankfully, she didn’t; but if I had already had those things at home, we wouldn’t have had a problem. Here are some things I like to keep handy.

  • Pedialyte Popsicles: don’t even bother with the liquid. It’s disgusting… I tasted it. It’s like sweetened salt and vinegar water. I don’t blame kids for not drinking it. Stick to the popsicles, I find kids tolerate them a lot better. These are great for keeping them hydrated even while throwing up or having diarrhea.
  • Kids Gravol: I prefer the liquid because I know my kids won’t take anything else. I also don’t mind the side effect of drowsiness, because it helps them sleep.
  • Children’s Acetaminophen (Tylenol): Great for bringing down fevers! We have a history of bleeding disorders in our family, so I tend not to keep (Ibuprofen) Advil products in the house (they act as a blood thinner). My kids love the grape flavour! When Lily was younger, she used to tell me she had ouchy teeth just so she could get some Tylenol!
  • Benadryl: Again, I use the liquid, but either works really. I know this isn’t really for throwing up, but I always keep some on hand just in case of any allergic reaction. My nephew has a severe nut allergy, and you just don’t know what kids are allergic to these days; medication, bee stings… the list goes on. It’s a good thing to have on hand!

2. Lots of toast and saltine crackers! Anything that’s easy on the stomach to eat. My husband decided to give Maggie some KFC chicken for supper last night… she threw it up all over ME about 1/2 an hour later! Stick to bland foods!!

3. Be prepared to be puked on and do lots of laundry. It’s inevitably going to happen. I didn’t even really get dressed yesterday. I knew I’d be thrown up on. Like I said, I did 3 loads of laundry yesterday and another one is waiting to go. It sucks, but it’s only for a short time (hopefully!!)

Laundry, laundry, laundry

4. Bath time: After Maggie threw up all over me one time yesterday afternoon, I just stripped us both down and jumped in the tub. We got all washed up and playing with the toys in the bath was the happiest I saw her all day.

Bath time

5. Netflix and snuggles: They’re tired… when I’m sick I know I just want to veg and watch TV. We generally don’t watch a ton of TV, but when they just want to snuggle I’ll throw on a show for them. My kids personal favourite right now is Paw Patrol!

6. Put a towel over their bed sheet!: I thought I was pretty genius thinking of this one last night! It only took me changing Maggie’s bed 3 times in the middle of the night!! I took a towel and I tucked it in over her bed sheet where she usually has her head. This way, when she threw up, I only had to take the towel off to be washed instead of stripping the whole bed! Genius, right?!?

What are some things you do to survive when you have sick kids?

Typical NICU day~ A day in the life of a NICU Momma

I know everyone’s experience in the NICU is very different, but I wanted to share what a typical day looked like for us. These were the days when Lily didn’t have any specialist appointments or procedures scheduled. We were very thankful to live only about 5 minutes from the hospital she was at so we could get there quickly if needed. I was also able to go home at night and get a somewhat decent sleep (other than getting up every 3 hours to pump! Not fun!!) So, here’s what a day normally looked like:

8-9am ~ Arrive at hospital to be in time for rounds. Some days rounds would take forever, depending where they decided to start on the ward and how many really sick babies there were in the NICU at the time. New babies would also take a bit longer. So some days rounds were right at 9, other days they wouldn’t get to us until the afternoon. I would miss rounds some days, but I really tried my best to be there so I could hear first hand what the plans etc. were for Lily. I liked to be able to talk to the Doctors. They were really good at explaining treatments and care plans to us. The nurses were also great for translating some things into plain English!! (I learned a lot of new medical terminology during our hospital stay! Ask me what Periventricular Leukomalacia is)

 

8am ~ Change Lily’s diaper/take her temp/feed/pump/cuddle time!! I’d cuddle with Lily for as long as possible. Usually a few hours. This was my happy place <3

Snuggling my little princess

11am ~ Repeat!

12pm ~ Lunch time. I’d go have lunch at the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Surrey Memorial Hospital most days. That place was a God send!! It was so nice to chat with other parents who were there. We could all relate to what the other families were going through! It was a nice little “break” from the hospital. I’ve been so blessed to have maintained friendships with some of the parents I met there.

1pm ~ Run home to walk the dog. Do a few things at home, mostly getting the nursery ready! Or shop for Christmas presents (Lily was born in October, but in the hospital until December ~ here’s her story) The odd day I’d get in a nap, but that didn’t happen often. I would usually miss the 2pm feeding time for Lily, but the nurses would always take care of that. They either did the tube feed when she still had her NG (nasogastric- tube from nose to stomach) tube in or give her a bottle when she was able to take oral feeds. Even when I started breast feeding, Lily would take a bottle, so that was kind of nice. Especially when we got home and my husband could take some feeds!

3pm ~ Hubby, Pete, would get home from work and shower quickly.

4pm ~ We’d usually get back to the hospital around 4pm. Pete would often get his cuddle time in then. He worked super early, so he found if he waited until after supper to have his cuddles, he’d be so tired he didn’t enjoy it as much.

5pm ~ Change Lily’s diaper/take her temp/feed/pump. Pete would go to Ronald McDonald house and get our dinner ready. I am so thankful for a husband who cooks and so grateful for all the people who provided us with meals while Lily was in the hospital. We had a steady stream of meals from friends, family and our church. It was so great to have one less thing to think of.

6pm ~ Eat dinner. We’d usually try to be back in Lily’s room around 7pm

8pm ~ Change Lily’s diaper/take her temp/feed/pump. Quite often I would cuddle Lily again for a while.

9pm ~ Head for home. 4am wake up comes early for Pete!

So, I was usually at the hospital for over 12 hours. Once Lily started breast feeding on demand I stayed overnight in her room at the hospital (all the rooms in our NICU were private), there was a couch that pulled out into a bed. It was actually decently comfortable too! I did that for probably the last 3 weeks before she came home.

I thought that being in the hospital I would have all this free time, like I’d be able to crochet and read. People would bring me magazines, but I hardly got around to touching them. Seriously, living on a 3 hour feeding schedule, plus having to pump after each feed, I had very little free time! A whole feeding/pumping session would take over an hour. Then we had to do it again 2 hours later! I got so used to this schedule, it’s like I did it in my sleep some days (and I probably did some days I was so tired!)

What is Preeclampsia?

I learned something new today… yesterday was World Preeclampsia Awareness Day! I wish I had known about it yesterday. This is a cause very dear to my heart and life. Both of my older sisters had preeclampsia in their pregnancies. My nieces were born about 4 weeks early because of it. I knew I was at a high risk, and was closely monitored throughout my pregnancies. I developed it in my first pregnancy at 29 weeks and had to give birth to my daughter via c-section that night as we were both in serious danger (you can read Lily’s amazing story here). My second pregnancy we made it to 35 weeks before running into problems again!

SO, WHAT IS PREECLAMPSIA?

According to the Preeclampsia Foundation Canada website (http://www.preeclampsiacanada.ca/) preeclampsia is:

“a disorder that occurs only during pregnancy and the postpartum period and affects both the mother and the unborn baby. It is a rapidly progressive condition characterized by high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine. Swelling, sudden weight gain, headaches and changes in vision are important symptoms; however, some women with rapidly advancing disease report few symptoms.

Typically, preeclampsia occurs after 20 weeks gestation (in the late 2nd or 3rd trimesters or middle to late pregnancy) and up to six weeks postpartum (after delivery), though in rare cases it can occur earlier than 20 weeks. Proper prenatal care is essential to diagnose and manage preeclampsia.”

I was one of the ones who had few symptoms. I had noticed some spots of light in my vision, but it wasn’t too bad. Knowing I had an appointment with my doctor coming up, I just waited. When we look at pictures from just before Lily’s birth, you can definitely see that I’m looking a little swollen. But that’s not something you really notice looking at yourself in the mirror day to day. Obviously, looking back, I probably should have gone in earlier, but hindsight is 20/20, right? Thankfully we have our 2 healthy, happy girls.

Lily in the NICU

SIGNS & SYMPTOMS

  • High blood pressure
  • Highs levels of protein in the urine
  • Very severe headaches
  • Blurring in vision (or any alteration)
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Upper right side abdominal pain
  • Sudden onset of swelling or weight gain
  • Less urination than usual

Here is a great graphic from the Preeclampsia Foundation Canada that goes into more detail.

If you want more information, or have any questions, please feel free to send me a message or drop a comment below and I’ll respond as soon as I can. There is a lot more information on the Preeclampsia Foundation Canada (http://www.preeclampsiacanada.ca/). You can also donate to some of their life-saving research.

Here is their mandate:

  • Educate, support and empower women – and their friends and loved ones – on the warning signs, long term consequences and medical understanding, including their need to get timely care.
  • Increase public awareness.
  • Fund research in Canada.

Here is what they do with monies donated (You can donate directly through this link)

 

[social_warfare]

My Preemie Miracle

This is the incredible story of my preemie miracle (I may or may not be a little biased!)

Not today, God, please not today!

This is what was going through my head on the afternoon of October 16, 2014. Here I was lying in a hospital bed at Langley Memorial hospital hooked up to a fetal heart monitor, blood pressure monitor, IV and a catheter.

I had gone in for a scheduled prenatal visit with my Doctor that morning at 10:30am. But something wasn’t right. The nurse took my blood pressure twice and told me it was a little on the high side so she’d get the doctor to take another look at it. When he came in, he took my blood pressure again; it was high and they’d found protein in my urine. He sent me to the hospital for further tests. It didn’t really worry me too much.

So, I phoned my husband and told him not to come, it was just a couple tests and I’d call him if anything changed. They got me in pretty quickly and hooked me up to all the monitors. The OB came in and started telling me about preeclampsia and premature birth. We were only 29 weeks pregnant! It was completely shocking! I called my husband and said “You need to come now.”

By this time, magnesium was coursing through my veins to prevent having a seizure (risk of preeclampsia). They had started me on blood pressure medication to try getting my blood pressure down and gave me a steroid shot to help develop baby’s lungs in case she needed to be delivered that day.  A transfer was being set up for me as Langley was not equipped to handle such a premature birth.

At about 3:00pm that afternoon, they arranged a transfer by ambulance to Surrey Memorial hospital who had a bigger NICU. I saw countless doctors and was under 24 hour surveillance by a nurse to make sure I didn’t seize. We had no idea what to expect. What’s the survival rate of a 29 week baby? Does she have to be born today? Finally, a Neonatologist come in to talk to us. She had one of her own kids at 30 weeks. It was so comforting to hear her tell us about how her daughter is thriving now. She told us there was about a 95% survival rate at 29 weeks. To have her talk to us as both a doctor and a mother who had been through exactly what we were going through was a big relief. Our baby was going to be born that night.

They prepped me for surgery and wheeled me into the operating room. I don’t even know how many nurses and doctors were in the room. Pete and I knew next to nothing about C-sections. It was one of the scariest moments of our lives. The epidural terrified me, but the anesthesiologist told me it wasn’t much worse than getting an IV. He lied, but it wasn’t quite as bad as I expected. My husband was escorted into the room as I started to lose feeling in my body. Having a C-section is the most surreal experience! I felt pulling and the doctors moving things around, but no pain. I also felt the most unconditional love I have ever felt in my life. Here I was, literally giving myself up for my daughter. There is no greater love than that!

See my post 5 tips for C-section Momma’s for some great recovery tips after having a C-section.

At 11:38pm our beautiful baby girl, Lily Ann Hultgren, came into this world and whisked away with the neonatal team. She weighed only 991 grams (2lbs 3oz). My husband went with her to the NICU; I wouldn’t be able to meet her until 24 hours later as I was still on the Magnesium and needed to be under a nurse’s watchful eye. I finally met Lily the next night around midnight. She was so tiny and precious; I was scared to even touch her, I thought for sure she would break!

They warned us the NICU would be a roller coaster ride and they were right! We had many ups; first time holding her, first bath, first experience breast feeding. And we had some pretty big downs as well. One night Lily stopped breathing completely and all the doctors and nurses were called in to come help her. Again, a true miracle she survived. They still don’t know what happened.

Looking back, none of this could have been done without the support of all the staff in the NICU. They are truly miracle workers!

We took Lily home on Christmas Eve 2014 after 69 long days in hospital. It was the best Christmas present we could have ever received, truly my preemie miracle!

My beautiful preemie miracle is now 3 1/2 years old!
My beautiful baby girl now at 3 1/2 years old

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5 Tips for C-Section Momma’s

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Looking for some tips for c-section Momma’s? Whether it’s for yourself or someone you know, I have 5 tips for c-section Momma’s to help you heal quickly and healthy in order to be the best Mom for your baby.

A very good childhood friend of mine had her first baby a few days ago. She ended up having a c-section after 3 courageous hours of pushing. It took me right back to the days of my 2 c-sections. I remember laying there on the table, not knowing quite what to expect, scared and excited all at the same time. My 2 cesareans were very different, the first was an emergency at 29 weeks and the second was much more expected as we had one scheduled (she still decided to come 3 weeks early though!)

Anyway… here are my 5 Tips for C-section Momma’s:

Top 5 Tips for C-section Momma's

1.Listen to your body/Don’t push it: 

As I said, my 2 c-sections were very different and I recovered from them very differently. Lily was hard and it took me a long time to recover. The whole thing was traumatizing as she was 11 weeks early and we didn’t know what would happen with our baby, if she’d be healthy or even survive. I really had to take my time recovering, I was in a lot of pain and my hubby pushed me around the hospital in a wheelchair for probably 10 days after. With Maggie, I bounced back WAY quicker. I thought it would be harder as I had a toddler to care for too now, and we have a billion stairs in our house, but I just listened to the way my body felt and I was lifting my toddler within a couple days of having my second.

2. Ask for and Accept help:

This is a hard one for most of us. We all want to be considered super-mom even though we’ve just had a baby and gone through major surgery. I had to swallow some of that pride and accept a lot of help, especially when Lily was in the hospital. I couldn’t drive for a few weeks, so I had to ask for rides to the hospital. My Aunt and my Mom cleaned my apartment before we were bringing Lily home. Our church community and friends brought us meals to eat at the hospital (we were beyond blessed by the Ronald McDonald family room at Surrey Memorial Hospital). My husband was actually between jobs when Maggie was born, so he helped A LOT. He pretty much did everything with Lily the first few weeks, so I could concentrate on taking care of Maggie. Don’t let your pride get in the way!

3. Keep your Follow-up Appointments

I know… you’ve had your baby and everything is done now (besides raising him or her to become a decent adult!) Wrong! There’s a reason follow up appointments are scheduled, especially after c-sections. There’s the risk of infection at the incision site. And did you know there’s something called postpartum preeclampsia (I had preeclampsia before Lily was born which is why she came so early… read her story here ) With preeclampsia, your blood pressure goes way up and your organs, starting with your kidneys start shutting down (you can read more about it in my post What is Preeclampsia). You are at a real risk of seizures. I’m not trying to scare anyone, but if you have that you probably would want to get it checked out.

4. SLEEP

You know what they say… sleep when the baby is sleeping. Well, do it! Our body does a lot of healing when we’re at rest. If you have other kids running around, ask for someone to watch them for a while so you can rest (see #2). Again, I was so lucky Pete was home after we had Maggie. I pretty much slept whenever she did (she was a horrible sleeper, so I took whatever I could get!)

In the NICU with Lily, the nurses encouraged me to go home and sleep in my own bed. Leaving your baby behind at the hospital is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do and I wanted so badly to stay with her 24/7, but they were right. Even though I was up at home every 3 hours to pump, I got a much better sleep in my own bed then I would have on the couch in Lily’s hospital room.

5. Enjoy all the Newborn Snuggles

Seriously, who doesn’t love the smell of newborns?!? They are just so tiny and yummy! The only reason I want another baby is to smell that smell and have all the snuggles! No more babies here though… I just have to steal other people’s! The NICU encourages lots of skin to skin with your baby as studies have shown it to help improve the outcomes of premature babies. I don’t know if there are any studies on it, but I think it helps the Momma heal as well! It’s good for your soul.

I just want to end off by saying, you are no less of a mother because you had a C-section. I know there is a grieving period when your birthing plan does not go as planned (does it ever?) but, you did what was best for your baby and that is what being a Momma is all about. You sacrificed your body to be cut open for your little one to be born. How does that make you any less or a warrior mom?

Love,

  Caroline

 

 

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