Monday, October 20, 2014

Getting the most out of your Babies R Us Registry

Because I have several friends who are pregnant and I wanted to share my experience:

Babies R Us is one of the best places to register because they offer lots of incentives to new parents.

The first thing you need to do is create a Babies R Us registry.  You can do this in a store or online, but if you register in the store you get a free bag of samples.  If you do register online, stop by your local store and let them know that you started your registry online and see if they will give you the free gift after the fact.  My local store was happy to give the the free gift.  It was full of sample and coupons.

When I opened my registry in January 2014 there was a registry incentive that gave me 10% of the value purchased from my registry, after my baby was born, maxing out at $200.  They great thing is that you can put anything on your registry and it doesnt matter if you buy the item or if the item is purchased as a gift.  I was able to earn $173 in store credit!  I received my credit via email about 2 months after my baby was  born.   Babies R Us has made this incentive program even better since I originally signed up.  Now they have a program called "Endless Earnings."  You can earn 10% back on your registry, but there is no longer a limit!

There is another program offered by Babies R Us called Rewards R Us.  This is a free rewards program and once registered, you earn 1 point for every $1 spend in Babies R Us or Toys R Us.  After earning 125 points, you get a $5 off coupon.  You can also link your rewards number to your registry so that you can earn points from items purchased off your registry by people who would not nomally have access to your rewards number.  By being a rewards member you will also get special coupons in the mail and email.

A month or so before your due date you will receive a registry completion coupon in the mail.  This coupon can be used 1 time and gives you a discount off anything on your registry.  This coupon is normally for 10% off, but I have heard of some people receiving up to 20% off.

On the day you close out your registry make sure to sign up for a Babies R Us credit card.  On the day you sign up for the card you get a 15% off coupon.  This coupon is only good for one day.  You do have to put something on the card, but you can pay it off right then if you want.

What makes Babies R Us so amazing is that you can stack your coupons!  The day I closed out my registry I had my 10% registry coupon, my 15% off credit card application coupon, $60 in rewards point coupons, a 20% off furniture coupon (one of my special rewards program discounts), a 20% off one item coupon (from my special rewards member mailing), several merchandise coupons (ie. lanolish, pampers, little tummies, playtex, etc).  They also price matched my breast pump.  For an extra bang for our buck, we scheduled our trip around the Babies R Us sales doing so we went when our stroller was marked down $50 off.

Now some of my coupons said not to combine or online only, but I went to the registry desk and they staff was more than happy to override any issue and give me the best deal possible.

Also, the website says items have to be on your registry for a certain period of time before you can use the registry completion on them, but this is not true!  When you go to close out your registry ask the registry desk for a scanner and add things as you go.  Anything on your registry when you reach the registry will get the discount!

When when finalized our purchase, we saved almost 50% off our purchases!  I also got additional rewards points to be able to use on a future purchase!

*Note this is not a sponsored post.  This is truly based on my experience.  I had a great experience at my local store, but I cannot promise that all Babies R Us stores are this helpful.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Pregnancy, Labor, and a newborn: Surprises, lessons learned, and favorites


My pregnancy was pretty mild, but there are a few things that either I read and didnt really grasp the fully or no one told me.  Everyone mentions the heartburn (which I only had a couple of days) and the cravings, and the waddling, but no one warned me I would swell up like a balloon, be unable to go to the bathroom for week(s) at a time, or be so exhausted that getting through the day was a chore. Everyone said that I would feel pregnant forever and it actually seemed to go by really fast with the exception of the last month. No one warned me that I would miss being pregnant when it was actually over though.

The Hospital, Labor, and Delivery

I over packed for the hospital, but I dont regret packing anything.  The items I packed and didnt use were: make-up (powder, eye shadow, and blush), extra clothes, and books.  I think if my labor hadnt been so intense I might have used these things.  I could not get out of bed on my own (without excruciating pain) until the day I left, which was 4 days post-postpartum.  Because of this I never changed clothes or put on makeup.  I also spent most of my time napping when I wasnt nursing, since I was taking pain medication that made me drowsy.  If I hadnt been so sleepy, I would have read the books I brought with me.

I regret that I didnt brush my hair after delivery for the few pictures our family took of us.  I feel like I would like the pictures so much better if someone would have brushed my hair (I did labor for 20 hours!).  I also wish we would have taken more photos.  I feel like I was in shock most of my labor and so I was distant from much of the experience with the exception of the pain.  I wish we had learned more about how our hospital handled labor, because we were surprised (and a bit dismayed) that my husband had to do so much of the work.

I had read mixed comments about the mesh panties and pads that the hospital would give me for postpartum bleeding.  They were fine at the hospital because I stayed in bed the whole time.  However, once I was home I started using Depends and I would 100% recommend them over the hospital pads or regular pads.  Had I been more mobile in the hospital, I would have preferred using the Depends there too.

The First Month as a Mom and Life with a Newborn

Sleep, Nurse, Sleep, Nurse, Sleep, Nurse.

During the first two weeks I wanted to be alone with my husband and baby.  While most people complied with my wishes, there were some who didnt.  Being alone during the first week was ideal.  I felt horrible and we didnt have a routine.  I was still in a lot of pain and taking pain medication for the first week or so we were home.  Also during the couple of weeks it really hurt to sit, walk, and use the bathroom.  In fact, going to the bathroom normally involved screaming from pain.  In hindsight, I came home from the hospital with a bladder infection that was probably the cause of a portion of the pain, but I know a lot of it was a result of my 2nd degree tear.  In fact, I am now 6 weeks postpartum and going to the bathroom is still uncomfortable, although rarely painful now.  Why did no one warn me that post birth pain would last so long?

Breastfeeding really hurt for the first 2 or 3 weeks, but after that the pain was mostly gone.  The gel soothe pads were a must have for the first few weeks!  I tried Lanolish, Medela, and Motherlove nipple creams.  Beware, nipple creams do NOT help with the pain (which I was mislead on).  They do help with keeping them from being dry and cracked.  Lanolish was my least favorite and Motherlove was my favorite, although I wish it came in a squeeze tube instead of a pot.  FYI: nipple cream stains!  No one warned me about this and my nursing tanks are ruined!  I am so glad I bought my nursing bras and tanks early!  They have been a lifesaver and I cant imagine nursing without them.

Sleep when you can!  Some days I feel like I sleep all day, but its in 1 hour incriments (at best).  You never feel rested an nursing takes a lot of energy!  Dont feel bad!  If your baby is taken care of and happy, sleep when she sleeps!  Dont worry about chores!  If I manage a load of dishes or laundry a day, then I feel accomplished!

1st Month Favorites

Diapers: Pampers Swaddlers for Newborn and Huggies Snugglers for Size 1 (I like the Pampers diapers, but right now Pampers size 1 are too big in the legs).  I tried Honest Company diapers and I liked the way they fit and they are super cute, but the lack of wetness indicator is a huge detractor.

Wipes: Water Wipes, Lanolish Wipes, and Burts Bees Wipes.  (We tried Huggies Pure and Natural and hate them.  My husband says the are too dry and while I dont think thats the case, I think they stink terribly!)

Pacifiers: Mam and Soothie (Mam pacifiers were the only ones I found that came in a Newborn size, in addition to the 0-3 month size that is the standard starter size in most pacifier brands.  Soothies really didnt start working for us until 4 or 5 weeks).  We also love the Paciplushies!  I prefer them to the Wubbanub because I can change out the pacifier and wash them easier.

Bassinet: I didnt think we would really use one, but it has come in handy, especially since it has wheels and can be moved around the house.

Mittens: Luvable Friends (these are the only ones we found that had a tight enough wrist band to stay on infant hands)

Sleepers: Faded Glory, Children's Place, and Kissy Kissy ( Faded Glory and Children's Place brands zip instead of button and I prefer the zippers because they seem to fit slimmer and they are quicker to get on and off)

Gowns: I hated the Carters gowns, but all other gowns I found worked well for us.  The Carters brand gowns were to narrow (and we have a skinny baby). Gowns that button up the front are hands down better than the ones that pull over the head!

Swaddlers: Woombies are hands down my favorites.  I love the Aden and Anis swaddle blankets, because they are soft and versatile, but I Genevieve seems to wiggle out of a blanket swaddle at night.  I have tried a few velcro swaddles and havent found one I like yet.

Blankets: Carters and Aden + Anis

Soothing Toy: Fisher Price Snugapuppy Bouncer

Lotion: Shea Moisture Baby Unsented and Honest Company

Diaper Bag: Jujube BFF (although I am finding that I over pack and I think I would like to try the Jujube Be Prepared).  I also love the Jujube accessories: Be Quick and Pacipod. I love the Initials Inc Stash and Dash as an overnight/travel bag/diaper bag/car bag.

Nursing Bras/Tanks: Bravado Simple Embrace Nursing Bra, Anita 5051 Nursing Bra, and Cantaloop Nursing Tank (This tank is long like a tunic.  I wish it was shorter, but it is the only nursing tank that goes up to a J cup), and Simple Wishes Hands-free Pumping Bra (I have a very large cup size and these are the only ones I found that worked for me)

Car Seat Cover: I wasnt originally going to buy one of these, but the first time I tried to go to the grocery store it rained and my decision changed fast!  There are lots of cheap versions of these, but the cheap ones dont fasten.  I love the one I ordered from SooShabbyChic on Etsy.

Apps and Websites: ThisLife (for photos) and Baby Connect for tracking feedings, diapers, and meds.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Genevieve's First Month - Babybook Snapshots

Genevieve had a busy first month!  She loves her Paci Plushie and playing with her tongue.  She has learned to smile.  We took our first family road trip (Florida) and Genevieve got to wear a bathing suit and experience the ocean and sand.  She is in the 30% for weight and 80% for height.  Breastfeeding has been hard, but I am glad that I am doing it for her!  She has surprised us  by staying in newborn size clothes for most of her first month!  Our go-to diaper is Pampers Sungglers in size 1.  We have tried pampers and huggies wipes, but prefer the Honest Company brand.  She sleeps in her bassinet beside our bed, but will move to her crib when she outgrows the bassinet. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Genevieve's Birth Story

Baby's Name: Genevieve Estelle
Sex: Female
Date of birth: 08/06/14
Original due date: 08/05
Delivered at: Baptist of Little Rock, AR
Weeks pregnant: 40w 1 day
Baby's weight: 7lbs 6 oz
Baby's height: 20 inches

In labor and just arriving at the hospital
I went in for my 40 week appointment on 8/5 at 4pm. I was at 2" cm, 60% effaced, and -2 station. Hardly any change from previous weeks.  The doctor did a membrane sweep and told me that it might help me start progressing.  The procedure was very painful! After we left the office we went to Bed Bath and beyond and Home Depot to pick up a few things while we were still in town ( we live an hour away). After we finished our errands we went to eat dinner at the Macaroni Grill for dinner.

The waiter made a huge deal out of it  being my due date. Michael ordered drinks and I went to the bathroom….and it happened.  My water broke! I was so shocked! Everything I read said that my water breaking before labor started was not likely to happen. I walked back to my table (Michael said I had an odd look on my face) and told him I thought my water broke.  He asked if I was sure and I replied "no." This all happened as the waiter returned with our drinks. He saw our expressions and looked at Michael who “replied her water broke. " Michael left the waiter a tip and we rushed back to the hospital.

We went straight to triage who confirmed that my water had broken and I had progressed to 3 cm, 80% effaced,  and -1 position. I progressed quickly,  but the baby didn't finish dropping until the morning of 8/6.

I delivered on 8/6 after 20 hrs of labor and 4 hours of pushing. She sat at my tailbone/pubic bone for 3 hours of the pushing phase. I ended up with a 2nd degree tear.  During hard labor we had one nurse and one student nurse (her first delivery) in the room with us.  The doctor came in during the last 15 minutes or so.  Michael had to assist the nurses during the pushing phase by holding me in the different laboring positions ( I labored on my back, side, and on all fours). I ended up nauseous and sick through much of my hard labor.  In fact, I dry vomited several times.  It is so hard to hold your breath and push when you are vomiting! .

After Genevieve was born, I didnt want to hold her at first because I was still shaking hard from the labor and I was afraid that I would jerk and drop her since I could feel the stitches they were giving me to repair my tear.  When she arrived she was grey and purple from all the vernex and birth goo, but once she was wiped off she was a perfect little baby!  They examined her next to my bed and I had Michael go with her to take some pictures.  She scored an 8/8 on her APGAR test.

Michael and I spent the first hour after delivery bonding and staring in aw at our new baby girl.  After about an hour we welcomed our family in to see her.  She was surrounded with her grandparents (My parents and step-parents and my mother-in-law) and her Aunt Adri. Later her great-grandmother, Meme, stopped by too.

I did have an epidural, but I dont feel like it was really working during the last 2 hours or so. By the time she was born I had full sensation back in my legs.

My first meal after delivery was a gluten free sandwich and cupcake from the Dempsey Bakery that my dear friend Renee brought to me.  It was so sweet and so appreciated.  I was so hungry, I swear I could have eaten 10 sandwiches and I basically inhaled the one I had!

For the first 2 days I had a catheter because I was so swollen nothing would come out of my urethra.  

On Friday I was discharged, but was told Genevieve needed to stay because her bilirubin had gone up from 11.8m to 12.4. Of course they released me after the pharmacy closed and I was told I could stay in my room since my baby was still a patient,  but I would no longer receive meds, postpartum supplies or nursing care. Michael didnt feel like he could drive to another pharmacy since I couldnt get out of bed without help.

They were supposed to put Genevieve under light therapy Friday night, but never did since the on call doctor didnt submit orders. Saturday at 1pm she was finally discharged by the new on call doctor, who said we never should have been kept since her levels were only minimally high and told us to follow up with our pedestrian on Monday.  So we were at the hospital for a whole extra day and I was a whole day in pain for no reason. When we were discharged Genevieve's weight had dropped to 6lbs 15oz and when we went to the doctor on Monday (2 days later) her weight was already back up to 7lbs 4 1/2 oz! Her jaundice was under control by Wednesday, 4 days after we were discharged.

Overall our birth experience was not what I expected, although I will admit, that I didnt really know what to expect.  We came prepared with a birth plan, but even though we attended all the birth related classes the hospital offered, we werent really prepared.  I think that my birth experience was colored by the shock of going into labor, since we didnt expect to go into labor on her due date.  Although we had many unexpected experiences, we were so glad that we were able to finally meet our little girl.  Our hearts are so full of love and joy at her arrival.

Just Born

One day old

Friday, August 1, 2014

The First Trimester

My husband and I had been trying to conceive for 13 months when we got our big news and believe me after 13 months that positive test was a huge surprise and a shock.  In fact, I took 2 tests before I could believe it.

I didnt have any symptoms other than a late cycle and cramping, but since we had been trying and using temping, charting, and an ovulation monitor, I figured it wouldnt hurt to test.  I took the test (First Response) and was so nervous.  Then I was in shock and had to take a 2nd test to prove to myself that it wasnt just a false test!  Based on my estimated due date of August 5, 2014 (although by my calculations its actually August 7, 2014) I was 4 weeks and 5 days pregnant when we got our positive test result.  Michael wasnt home when I took the tests, so I laid out a shirt I bought him that said "Daddy est. 2014" and the positive tests on the bed for him to see when he got home.  When he got home I told him I had a present for him in the bedroom.  He saw what I had laid out and started crying and hugging me and asking "are you sure."  It was such a surreal moment.

We had our first doctor's appointment on December 18th (7 weeks 1 day) and our first ultrasound was scheduled for January 9th (10 weeks 2 days).  Michael wanted to tell everyone right away, but being a Librarian and reading too much for my own good, I was scared to tell.  I managed to convince him to wait until Christmas to share our news.  It drove him crazy, but he agreed to wait.
8 Weeks (Belly is 40")

9 Weeks

My first obvious symptom was hormonal anger which started at 5 weeks, but didnt last long.  I quickly went out and bought the books What to Expect When You're Expecting, My Pregnancy Week to Week, Baby Bargains, and Baby 411.  I started feeling nausea and bought a pregnancy journal, What to Expect Pregnancy Journal and Organizer, at 6 weeks. We told my mother-in-law our news on December 24th with a picture fram and she was thrilled with the news.  I told my mother and Meme on Christmas day, also with picture frames.  We werent able to follow through with our normal Christmas tradition of going to see my dad's parents and family since we were in the process of organizing funerals for both of my sister-in-laws, but my dad and step-mother came by before they left to see my grandparents.  They were both thrilled.  My step-mom's jaw dropped and my dad cried. It was wonderful.  We sent announcement picture frame gifts with them to pass on to my grandparents, since we couldnt be there when they celebrated Christmas.

I experienced the most extreme of my nausea between 7 and 9 weeks, but I didnt actually get sick.  The nausea was only better when I was eating and I let myself get hungry the nausea came back in full force.  The only smells that really bothered me were chicken and our dog's pill pockets.  I didnt have any serious cravings, but melon was definately on the top of my "want" list.

I bought the first of my maternity clothes in January because my skin was super sensitive and I couldnt stand anything to be snug and the button trick to make your pants fit better never worked for me.  In fact, I hated the belly band too.

At our first ultrasound at 10 weeks, we didnt get to hear the heartbeat, but we were told it was beating at 162 bpm and much to my husband's disappointment the scan showed one baby, not two (he was hoping for twins).

Not long after our first ultrasound we received the first bill from our OB.  I was really surprised, but they want us to pay the full balance before the baby arrives!  I guess on the plus side, its one less thing we have to worry about after the fact.

On January 24th I made a huge decision.  I took off my wedding bands because I was already swelling and I was afraid they would get stuck.  I feel so naked without my rings on and I am always rubbing my hand expecting to find them.

By week 13 (the end of the first trimester) I had gained 4lbs and my belly had grown 2 inches.  I was craving lemonade and melon and my biggest symptom was constipation.  We also decided on our nursery theme: Nautical / Ocean.
11 Weeks

13 Weeks
Swollen Hands at 12 weeks

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Gluten Free Goodness is Trial and Error #2

Gluten free products are hit and miss for tasre and texture and living in a small town makes finding good gluten free products even harder.

Hodgson Mills Muffins: I tried the apple cinnamon version.  They have a good texture and are pretty goid, but denser than non-gf brands. I did add extra cinnamon to my muffins.

Glutino White Bread: good, but better toasted. In fact, toasted I couldnt tell it was any different from non-gf bread.

Schar White Bread, Hamburger buns, and Hot Dogs: Really good bread. Hot dog and hamburger buns are some of the best gluten free options I have found. 

Zena's Gluten Free Chocolate Chip cookies: I did not like these at all. The texture is good, but they have an odd aftertaste.

Enjoylife  Sunbutter Chewy Crunch bars: terrible texture and flavor. I couldnt even choke down a second bite.

King Arthur Muffin Mix: I added blueberries.  I think these would have been great,  but I used too many berries and I think it threw the texture off. I bought anotger box and I expect my 2nd attempt will have better results.

Glutino Table Crackers: amazing substitute for saltines! Love these crackers!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Nursery Organization (Chest and Dresser/Changing Table)

I plan to post a full blog on our nursery design, description, product information, and the amazing job my husband did making my vision come to life.  However, since I am still waiting on a few things to arrive (they should be here by the first of next week) and I really want to put something together, I am going to go ahead and write this post about my attempt to organize the nursery.  I am aware that once Genevieve arrives, things will probably change, but this is at least a good start.

Furniture: Crib, Chest, and Double Dresser from the Baby Cache Montana collection in Driftwood Purchased at Babies R Us, Baskets inside double dresser purchased from Dollar Tree, Aqua decorative drawers with starfish purchased at Home Goods, Diaper Caddy in Coral and Grey (size XL)purchased on Etsy from Yoon1206greene.


Top Drawer
This drawer has burp cloths, receiving blankets, and bibs.  I need to get a few more burp cloths at this point.  The embroidered burp cloths were a gift, so Im not sure who made  them, but I do believe the were purchased from Etsy.

Second Drawer
This drawer has changing pad covers, mattress pads, sheet savers, sheets, pack n play sheets, cradle sheets, and bassinet sheets.  My husband built my cradle and the mattress is made of foam core and not a standard size.  I ordered the sheets for it from Birdshaveflowers.

Third Drawer
This drawer is stuffed full of blankets!  The blankets on the right side were made by my Great Grandmother for me when I was a baby.

Fourth Drawer
This drawer has only two blankets in it because they are both super plush and large.  The top one in this photo was made for me by my grandmother and given to me at my baby shower.

Double Dresser / Changing Table (I havent put the changing pad on it yet)
The following pictures start with the top of the dresser and then move on the drawers in order from left to right.

Starfish Drawer Tower
I had trouble decided what to do with this drawer tower, but its so pretty and I really love it. Right now the top drawer is empty, but I think I will put alcohol pads in it.  The 2nd drawer has cotton pads.  The 3rd drawer has baby q-tips.  The 4th has small binder clips.  These may seem odd, but right now I am using them to clip socks together in matches.  Most of her socks have patterns on them and they are so small that if I fold them I cant see the design.  This may become more trouble than its worth, but its my current solution.

Misc. Plastic Bins
These bins are really random, but right now they are holding things that I couldnt decide where else to put.  In the first basket I have a sample surface cleaner from Honest Company, a few pens, a notepad, and some hand sanitizer.  The smaller basket in the corner has baby coupons in it.

Diaper Caddy

I ordered this diaper caddy from Etsy and the fabric perfectly matches my crib bedding.  In the left side I have tissues, nursing pads, and pacifiers. The middle section has baby wipes, baby lotion (Shea Moisture), and diaper rash cream (Aquaphor).  The last section has 20 newborn diapers in it. 

First Drawer

This drawer contains baby hats, mittens, headbands, hairbows, tights, diaper covers, 0-6 month socks (back), and newborn socks (front).

Second Drawer
This drawer has travel wipes, extra diaper disposal bags, Nose Frieda, Boogie Wipes, baby meds, non-latex gloves (I figure if we end up wanting to use diaper cream in a tub instead of a squeeze tube, I wont want to contaminate the jar), baby grooming supplies, pacifiers, and extra diapers.

Third Drawer

This drawer had newborn sleepers and gowns on the left and 0-3 month sleepers on the right.

Fourth Drawer

The left side of this drawer has newborn pants and onesies and the right side has 0-3 onesies and pants. 

Fifth Drawer
This drawer is an oddball.  Right now it has items that I cant hang in the closet, but that Genevieve wont be using for several months.  It has larger socks, a bottle leash, a large size sleep sack, onsies and hats for 6 months and older.

Sixth Drawer
I wanted to put these items in the chest, but I ran out of room.  On the left side are my muslin swaddle blankets and on the right side is my Woombies and swaddle wraps that fasten closed.

Our Birth Plan

We will be delivering Genevieve in Little Rock at Baptist Hospital, which is about an hour from our home.  This makes me nervous and probably has me over preparing for her arrival. I have attended all the classes my hospital offers and I have read several pregnancy and labor related books.  I feel like having a written plan will make me more comfortable about the process, and even though I know that my plan is only a guide to be used and cannot be guaranteed by my medical professionals, it still makes me feel better to have all my thoughts in one place.

Our Birth Plan

The Graves Family Birth Plan 

Mother-to-be: Ashley Kendall Graves 
Partner: William Michael Graves 
Due Date: August 5, 2014 
Practitioner: Jenny Gregory  
Baby's Name: Genevieve Estelle Graves

Hello, Michael and I have been together for 5 years and we are excited and nervous to be welcoming our first child, Genevieve Estelle, into the world. We live with 3 dogs who have been our babies up until this point, so we hope they adjust well. 

I am a Librarian and Michael is an Engineer, so by nature we both like information. We would prefer to be given all the information possible about every step in the labor and birth process. We consider ourselves fairly well informed, as we have attended the hospital classes and read several books, but please assume we want to know more! 

I have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis for which I take .150 mcg of Synthroid and I eat a gluten free diet. 

For the most part we want the standard treatment provided by the hospital, but we do want to be included in the decision making processes. There are a few things that we do have options on, and while we know that the health and safety of our daughter may cause changes in our plan, we would appreciate consideration of our preferences. 

Key Points: 

1.) My husband and I want to be the only non-medical persons present at the birth, visitors are welcome during labor and after delivery. 

2.) We want at least an hour to bond with our daughter after delivery, and after that we are willing to have guests again. 

3.) Please preform all medical interventions (shots, tests, etc) as soon as possible to ease our minds and prevent interruptions in our bonding. 

4.) My husband wishes to cut the cord, but other than that, neither one of us wishes to watch the delivery happen (ie. no mirrors). 

5.) Please wipe off our daughter before handing her to us, after the delivery. 

6.) We plan to breastfeed, so please do not give our daughter formula or other supplements without asking us first. 

7.) We are non-smokers and do not wish our baby to be exposed to the by-products of smoking. We ask that any smoker wash their hands after each cigarette and that they brush their teeth as well. We have purchased several toothbrushes and toothbrush cases to provide to all those who may need them (we know this is an odd request). 

8.) We have brought our own toiletry products for our daughter and we wish them to be used over the products provided by the hospital (lotion, wash, and wipes).  
9.) We plan to donate the baby's cord blood through the Cord Blood Bank of Arkansas and we have the collection kit with us.

First Stage (Labor):

* Clear fluids.
* Ice chips.
* Please offer me pain medication, as soon as possible.
* Regular Epidural 
Second Stage (Birth):

* I would prefer to tear than have an episiotomy, but please use compresses, massage and positioning. * Cord Blood Donation * No mirror
Baby Care:

* Prefer partner to cut the cord. * Immediate medical treatments * Breast feeding only
* No formula or glucose water 
Other Baby Care Requests:

* Use the toiletry products we brought with us * Brush teeth and wash hands after tobacco use
Medical Needs: Ashley has Hashimoto's and takes .150 mcg of Synthroid and eats a gluten free diet.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Most Amazing French Toast Ever...According to my husband

Amazing Gluten Free French Toast


6 slices of your favorite gluten free bread (we use Hearty Italian from the Dempsey Bakery)
1/2 stick of butter

1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
3 beaten large eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar (more if you want it sweeter)

1.) lay bread out in a large casserole dish and pour 1/2 the batter over the bread.  Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.  Flip the bread over and soak for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.
2.) heat a couple of pads of butter in a flat skillet on Medium heat and cook bread until brown on one side.  Flip bread and brown on second side.
3.) continue with steps 1 and 2 until all bread is cooked.

Enjoy with syrup 

The Hearty Italian bread soaks up the mixture without getting gummy and cooks firm on the outside and soft in the middle.  I have not tried this recipe with other gluten free breads, but I suspect that the denser nature of gluten free bread is what allows this french toast to have such a great texture after it is cooked.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Trying to Conceive and getting pregnant

For many people who knew me when I was younger this post may seem odd.  I never wanted children.  Throughout puberty and adulthood I had been pretty steadfast in my belief that I didnt want children.  I was afraid that I was too selfish or that I would be a bad parent or that I couldnt be enough for my children.  Then I meet my husband.  Children were the line he drew in the sand of our relationship.  I needed to come to terms with my feelings and it was hard.  I love my husband and I know he loves me.  I struggled for a long time before I finally decided that it wasnt that I had changed, but that my life had turned a corner I never thought it would.

It wasnt that I didnt want children, I just never thought I would be in a place in my life where children would fit or that I would be in a relationship stable enough to support children.  I never thought I would want to be married before I met my husband, but after meeting him I quickly knew that I wanted to marry him.  That I wanted to spend my life with him.  Learning that I wanted children so dearly, was just another part of this journey in self discovery.....

My husband and I got married on October 6, 2012 after having been together since 2009.  We did everything backwards to the traditional relationship milestones: 1.) date, 2.) buy a house, 3.) raise a child (we got custody of our 16 year old nephew), 4.) get engaged, 5.) get married.   We loved our life in rural Arkansas with our 3 dogs (2 are ours and 1 we are fostering for my brother in law).

When we got married I was 29 and my husband was 30.  We knew that we wanted a family and we knew that we weren't getting any younger.  Most of our friends and relatives our age have had kids for many years now.  I told Michael that if we had more than one child that I wanted them to be about 3 years apart.

 Knowing that I didnt want to be giving birth and raising an infant after age 40 (in an ideal situation) and that in a perfect world, we didnt know how long it would take us to conceive a child, we started trying to get pregnant right away.  I quit taking my birth control pills a few days into our honeymoon.

I am a librarian, and what do librarian's do?  We research.  So that is what I did.  I found and read message boards, I learned about ovulation cycles and basal body temperature.  I read What to Expect Before You are Expecting and several other books and articles.

On our 1 year anniversary we still hadnt managed to get pregnant.  I have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, so I had my Endocrinologist run extra labs to see if there was anything thyroid related preventing us from getting pregnant.  He found nothing he felt was causing our infertility.

I have always been curvy and big chested and have heard my whole life about my "child bearing hips" and I couldnt get pregnant.  Yes, I know there are people who struggle for years with infertility.  I know several and I know my struggle was no where near the trial that they had been facing, but I still felt inadequate.

We made an appointment with a fertility specialist in October  that was scheduled for December, but after learning that my insurance would only cover the most basic testing once per lifetime made us reconsider our options.  We choice to cancel the appointment and keep trying on our own until my annual exam at the end of January.  We decided that if we still hadnt conceived by then we would ask the doctor for her recommendations.

As it so happens we got a positive pregnancy test on December 1st (15 cycles of ttc)!  I was so nervous and excited.  I took two tests to be sure.  Michael wasnt home when I found out, but months earlier I had bought a super cute t-shirt that said "Daddy est. 2014."  I put this t-shirt out on the bed along with my two positive tests and when he got home I told him to come into the bedroom because I had a present for him.

He was so shocked and so excited.  He hugged me and asked "are you sure?"  He wanted to shout the news from the roof tops, but I asked that he wait.  I wanted to tell our families at Christmas and I wanted to wait til the end of the first trimester to tell work (I live in a small town, so once one person knows the whole world knows).

We met with a nurse at my OB/GYN clinic on December 18th which was basically just blood work and we meet with the doctor on January 9th.

This blog entry will post to the public on January 22nd, and their might be a few follow up posts that go hand in hand with this one that will post around that time too.  After that point, all blog entries about my pregnancy will be posted the same day I write them.  I am so excited for this journey!