This blog contains affiliate links and compensated ads on the left and right sidebars. Affiliate links and compensated ads means I receive compensation for link and ad clicks. Every sponsored post on this blog will have its own disclosure at the beginning of the post. I appreciate the support and hope this information is clear. Thank you.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

2018 - my journey

Originally wrote this on my Facebook page - but wanted to share it here -
Happy New Year!!

I started the WorthyStyle blog on Google’s Blogspot platform in 2008. Previously, I had blogged since 1999/2000 on Livejournal, MySpace, and so many other places online. I’ve always loved sharing my interests, recipes, music obsessions, and fun stories with others since I was in middle school. It’s just helped me decompress, and I’ve never felt stressed by any form of competition in it. I’m sure that’s why my voice has always come across naturally to readers. I guess part of this natural voice in writing comes from writing poetry and being yearbook editor in high school - another part of this likely comes from being a member of the Gen X. I know many might think, wait, you’re from the mid 1980s. But in all honesty with two Gen X siblings who are firmly Gen X, my being the baby sibling meant I wanted to be like my older brother and half-sister - regardless of the age difference! - and technology being embraced in our home was a huge part of that. My Dad made sure we had the earliest forms of computer and internet - which helped me keep up with pen pals around the world, exchange students and roommates from around the world during boarding school, as well as international cabin mates and counselors from summer camp.

So here we are with the start of 2018. I’ve celebrated my five year wedding anniversary with my husband (Oct. 2017), I’m now the mother of a teething crawling 9-month old baby approaching her first birthday in March, and I’m ready to get back into blogging regularly! I miss the outlet - I’ve had fun on Twitter and Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook - but the option to write long form posts has been missed on a more frequent basis. Our baby doesn’t really nap - which is a big part of why blogging has dropped off - and I’ve missed you all! More soon - and feel free to comment.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Baby Margaret - One Month

This post contains affiliate links.

So in April Miss Margaret turned one month old and what a whirlwind that first month was for us all as a new family. One of the things we did was I basically "went to bed" for two weeks. Other than the required appointments for Margaret, I didn't leave the house. Here's some of my thoughts that I typed out and saved as draft before finally posting... in September. Amazing how things have changed...

After delivering Margaret (and enjoying our peaceful 2 hours of skin-to-skin and a few sweet attempts for her to feed from me, they moved us into the recovery wing of the L&D at Martha Jefferson. It was a beautiful few days with a view of Carter Mountain and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Margaret was with us the entire time except that first night when a sweet nurse said she was going to "give her a bath" and "bring her right back" and she was sympathetic to the fact that I hadn't slept in 2 days so Mike and I got a blissful 5 hours of sleep. Outside of the amazing staff, I really wanted to leave the hospital as soon as possible... the hospital bed was really uncomfortable (as I felt relatively fine, just sore and mentally all over the map) with the bar that folds the bed riding into my back... and the nursing staff was absolutely amazing... but their frequent bursts of coming in and out would coincide with being right when Margaret and I had gone to sleep which was honestly incredibly jarring. My parents came to visit and my Mom would be joining us at our home the day of discharge. There was some drama about my discharge but thankfully that was remedied and so M and I were able to take Margaret home by around 2pm on Friday, March 24. Starting with discharge day, I used the Notes app on my iPhone to log in feedings (which side, how long) and diapers (type of diaper) - this has proven to be SO helpful when the Pediatrician asks questions at appointments!

So M took a month off from work, and my Mom stayed with us for two full weeks and then came back and stayed with us for another week at around Week 4 and 5. (One of those, "Thanks Mom, we're good now." to "JK Mom PLZ COME BACK HALLLPPPPP"). I had been on a cooking frenzy before the baby arrived and so I had split pea soup, chicken tortilla soup, chili, lasagna and a bunch of frozen stuff ready to go in our deep freezer.

I really cannot recall a whole bunch of our days but I know I was bad about sleeping as I like to read to defuse and relax before bed. I struggled to sleep as Margaret struggled to sleep in her HALO Bassinest. We had ordered a new bed/frame and the metal basic one kept creaking and making noises which kept bothering poor Margaret! Then we made the mistake of introducing her crib to her during one very early naptime and that was it. She probably would have loved the Bassinest if we hadn't shared with her the glorious roominess of the crib. That said, the Bassinest was great for AM naps and when we needed to run to the restroom. Our long waisted and long-legged baby girl liked having stretch out room! So... sadly... M took the night shift (he handles shorter sleep shifts than I) and moved into the nursery with the twin size bed and the crib while I stayed in the master to sleep nice and long overnight. This helped my mental health and prevented post-partum depression, I am fairly certain. That solid sleep almost every night made a MASSIVE difference.

Because Margaret was discharged at the adorable but light weight of 6 pounds, 1 ounce, we had to see our pediatrician a little bit more frequently than is typical. On Friday the 25th the pediatrician weighed her at 6 pounds 1 ounce. On Tuesday March 28th, the lactation consultant was really proud of us for trying to increase my ability to feed (nips couldn't do it alone, so I had been pumping to keep supply up and Margaret took a spoon okay, but nipple shields were our saving grace. Nips were starting to look a bit worse for wear (and not in the good way) and I had been drinking a little bit of milkmaid tea to keep things going in the early first days due to the feeding issue. Anyway, Caycee the LC told us that (1) my latch was awesome... so clearly it was the nips themselves not a latch issue and (2) Margaret had gained more than 1 ounce a day since our previous appointment which was amazing! So on 3/28/17 Margaret weighed 6 pounds 5 ounces. On the 30th (Thursday) the umbilical cord stump came off - which honestly was GREAT as that thing was both fascinating from a science standpoint but also really weird? and inconvenient location (in the postpartum life). So that was a big development that day, haha!

We gave Margaret her first bath on Friday, March 31:

Heading into April was such a blur! Margaret typically had me feeding her around midnight, then 4ish AM then 7/8AM, 10AM, 2/3PM, 4PM, 6/7PM, 8PM, 10PM, 11PM. Sometimes it was for an hour at a time (both sides). Due to my PCOS, my Doctor has had me stay on Metformin as I breastfeed. Staying on this medication has prevented me from losing supply. It has been such a relief to feed Margaret as needed and while it's been tiresome her output and growth (head circumference and length have always changed the most over weight gain) have been great so I haven't cared over wanting our girl to thrive! (Don't get me wrong, I definitely on occasion would say "already?!" as I was tired and adjusting and dealing with hormones!) Her two week appointment on Wednesday April 5th was great, too. We started Margaret on Vitamin D drops and she didn't fight us too hard on them. She continued to gain weight while I exclusively breastfed. I would pump and put them in our deep freezer... eventually enabling me to donate some milk when I could. During her second bath ever she peed on me as I pulled her out to wrap her in a towel. That was hysterical and happy for me... better than poop, right? When we got to one month of age, we started her on a bottle. We did this typically only as her last feeding for the night and/or when I would leave to have some "mommy free time." At her one month appointment she was already up to 8 pounds and 22".

Some get real thoughts:
1. If I hadn't had an amazing nurse (Nancy!) during delivery, I probably wouldn't have had such an amazing gluten free dinner of chicken caesar salad and 2 servings of french fries. She was my hero in making sure I got the right nourishment to recover my body. Each AM I had like 3 hard boiled eggs, too, just to make sure I had plenty of protein! Make sure your nurse helps you feed solids again ASAP during recovery. It's so important and it will totally help your mood, too!

2. The nurse who has the honor of helping you go from wheelchair to bed or bed to wheelchair to toilet is a G-D saint. Then there is your postpartum lady bits ensemble to ease pain - the mesh panties are a real thing, as are kinda stretchy biker shorts, ice pads, Dermoplast spray around your parts, witch hazel pre-moistened pads (the ones for hemorrhoids are heaven all over the lower half), adult diapers (that are like underwear so actually perfect under your sweats/yoga pants) and that isn't including the pain killers and stool softeners. NEVER turn away the stool softeners. Seriously.

3. Don't go up and down stairs. Just don't. I missed that part on our paperwork until like 2+ weeks later and it didn't help with my postpartum bleeding. At least I know this information for next time. Hopefully by that point we will have a main level master bedroom or something slightly more convenient?

4. Nothing is supposed to make sense and life shouldn't feel normal. Don't put on appearances. Truly. Just try to relax your mind and don't be afraid to cry and be whatever or whoever you need to be as your mind/body/self heals.

5. Nipple shields are not something to be ashamed of. Some of us are just not built to breastfeed without them as we're not equipped with adjustable nipples like other women. And that's ok. She's still getting your milk, dammit, so who cares!? No shame, baby gets fed through the shield which is great, nips are only happy when you pump, and you figure it all out!

6. Amazon Prime is SO helpful. So are local shops that may have classes or provide advice. We really were grateful I over prepared as we honestly think it was why I didn't have that typical postpartum anxiety. If you love to read and are a fan of learning the good and the bad without getting wrapped up in hypotheticals, you may be like me and always have options A, B, C, D, E, F etc. etc.!

I hope if anyone reading this post has any questions, they know I am happy to answer anything at all! I'm an open book on my experiences.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

James Addison Jones I: strict discipline - thrift and generosity

{this post continues with the text of Minnie B. Jones Ussery, who wrote this in 1960} Previous posts here.

Strict Discipline

But my father's efforts to rear his large family in his religious beliefs and customs were not as easy as Bishop Harrell portrayed and Berryman recalled. I remember several times after family prayer Dad felt he had to whip one or several of us for giggling (my big offense) or otherwise being irreverent. If the use of punishment following our devotions ever seemed incongruous to him, he never gave any indication of such.

For my father controlled his large family as a patriarchy, using corporal punishment whenever he thought necessary. This was the only way possible for him, considering the size of our family as well as his own background. I realize now, too, that he had to maintain control over his children very firmly, because of the deaths of our mothers, and the number of housekeepers and mothers in the home. For to him to have done differently would easily have led to the flouting of all authority in the home. He demanded, expected, and was given obedience and respect by each of us, followed by love, as we came to understand him and his deep love and concern for us.

We were expected to do our duties assigned to us, to get our school work done promptly and on our own initiative, to be prompt at meals and eat what was served, to attend family prayer every night and all church services, to be courteous and respectful to our parents and all our elders, to be kind to and considerate of our servants, and to treat one another kindly. These and many other things were expected of us, and usually we did them. Although Dad seldom was demonstrative in his love for us (after we passed the baby stage) he almost as seldom used any physical punishment. We dreaded this so much that we preferred to do what was expected of us. Also, we were aware that he tried to treat us all equally (except for short periods when Emma Renn and Charles* were favored as small youngsters), as he understood it.

*WWJA note: these were two of her three youngest half-siblings

Self-Reliance and Responsibility

I cannot recall my father being overindulgent with any of us, unless it was to the youngest ones in the family in his later years. I believe he realized that any overindulgence on his part would actually hinder the development of self reliance and independence in us. He put each boy of his, when he became thirteen or fourteen years old, on one of his local jobs during the summer months, to serve as a water boy. He hoped that this would help to develop self-reliance in them, as well as expose them to a fundamental knowledge of the construction work and acquaintance with the working men and their life.

Although several servants were employed in our home, Dad expected all of us to share, as we grew older, in the responsibilities of the home. During most of the time, the boys were responsible for the yard... for cutting up discarded lumber into stove wood (we always had a large wood range as well as a gas stove), and for the care of the automobiles, while my sisters and I had duties inside the home. Besides the daily care of my clothes and room, I was expected home immediately after school to supervise my younger brothers and sisters at play. I also had the full responsibility for Robert* at night for many years, for he was not quite two and one-half years old when Dad took his third wife. But my main weekly job, and one that I hated but held for years, was the family darning. As this was in an era when children wore long stockings, knees were frequently torn in them and the darning required was large. In fact, it usually took me all of every Saturday morning and frequently it required more time than that.

*WWJA note: Minnie was 12 when her half-brother Robert was born in 1918. Robert's mother, Emma Lockart Renn, died on March 4, 1919 of pneumonia after contracting the Spanish flu while nursing some of her 11 stepchildren and children who had the flu. Baby Robert was only 8 months old.

For several years I was trusted with several responsibilities that pleased me. One was the annual ritual of filling the stockings of the younger children on Christmas Eve. As the stockings were hung in each bedroom, I had to stay up quite late and be a very quiet Santa's helper.

Another duty I liked and was proud to be trusted with, was a big responsibility, but I believe I carried it all through high school, at least. It was the job of determining what school books in the house could be used another year and what school books needed to be bought, and then to purchase them. My estimates had to match the cost of the books to the penny, and I was careful to figure correctly. Dad was quick to praise good work but equally as quick to notice when we (or anyone else) did not come up to his expectations. To have lost Dad's faith in my ability would have been a major catastrophe to me. I feel sure the rest of the family valued his good opinion as much as I did.

Thrift and Generosity

Another quality my father tried to instill in his children was the habit of thrift. Many a time I heard him say, "A penny saved is a penny earned". He practiced what he preached in this, for he was always careful in little things, such as cutting off unnecessary lights, and keeping track of every penny spent. I recall during one period of his life that he and Miss Maude made every effort to get to the early show at the theater (by 6 p.m.) in order not to have to pay the higher price charged for the night shows, although he could easily have afforded to do so. He was generous in supporting all church and welfare causes and helping those in need, but he hated to see money wasted and he did not believe in indulging every whim of his children. I can recall when I was young that it was a treat to get the privilege
of paying the grocery bill each month, because of the little bag of candy the grocer always gave.

Dad's system of teaching us thrift was unique. Although he probably never realized it, he must have been the originator of the "Christmas Club" savings plan, for he saved "our allowances" for us from one Christmas to the next. While every Saturday we received "an allowance", it was not ours to spend on ourselves. He put each allowance in a job pay-envelope, and placed this on each plate before dinner, the noon meal. The amount each received was based on age and the work he did. I believe the most I ever got was fifty or sixty cents a week, even while I was in high school.*

*WWJA note: $.50 in 1920 (when Minnie would have been 14) is equivalent to $6.34 in 2017 inflation calculator. My Mom and Dad gave me a $5/week allowance until I was 18! So that must be a Jones family trend. However, we were able to use it as we wanted.

As soon as Dad finished dinner, he took up all the envelopes, usually unopened, and locked them up in his closet "for us". Except for birthdays, and for very special reasons, we knew better than to request any of "our allowances" to spend. Dad followed this system strictly while I was living at home, but I noticed as the younger children began to grow up that he became more lenient in permitting them some money to spend for things they wanted.

While we rarely had any "spending money" of our own to buy things for ourselves, we did have the pleasure of giving to each other on birthdays and at Christmas. These were all great occasions in our home and ones we all cherish. I suspect the traditions we learned to love then are being carried on in most of our homes today. But I also believe we have given our children too much. We never received any toys, books, games, or gifts of any kind except on these occasions, at graduations, or when very ill. I can recall that oranges, which we take for granted today, were a special treat then, as we had them only at Christmas time.

Besides thrift, I would say we also learned many other things by Dad's system, such as the pleasure of giving to others, the value of special celebrations of birthdays, Easter, and Christmas in the family, and also the knowledge of what our money would and would not buy.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Margaret's Birth Story: Part II

So as I explained in my previous post... Margaret is a few months old now... and I feel like it's a good time to get back to blogging. I hope you'll enjoy reading these posts - I want to continue to be writing honest and realistic memories and reflections about my pregnancy, my birth story for her, and my adjustments to life as a Mom! So sometimes I may share more than is typical... but due to my honesty following our struggle for me to become pregnant... get over it! This blog is my space and I want to be a resource for anyone else who may have questions or want to know if others had their experience. Love.


In my last post, I talked about the long almost 24 hours of labor I had while at home and our checking into the birthing suite at Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville. After checking in, Mike and I had our bags placed and started doing some settling in. I wanted to get an idea of the layout of the space, not knowing how long I would be in the hospital for this second leg of our journey before Margaret's arrival. The biggest thing for me was I wanted to continue to do as little medical interventions as possible (as was safe) for this labor, since it was my first. To not be redundant, I'm going to post again the photos of the hospital's birthing suite:

Since I wasn't 100% sure what the Obstetrician had planned, I decided to walk around and really familiarize myself with the space between contractions before the nurses arrived to learn my game plan. I figured out what light switches went to what light fixture, opened all of the cabinets, found all of the comfort items - Martha Jefferson's labor and delivery rooms have all kinds of birthing balls, bars, chairs, stools, rocker, etc. etc. In the top photo you can see my hospital bed and the time - 10:50:22 on Tues. March 21. My only complaint was how uncomfortable these hospital beds were. Especially after enjoying laboring at home in my own bed and our living room couches. That said the labor and delivery beds were comfier than the postpartum rooms (the folding metal bar underneath the mattress was uncomfortable as I'm long-waisted so it hit me in the worst spots). Anyway, these rooms are really comfortable and roomy otherwise. The couch to the right of my bed was actually a futon Mike slept on, with drawers underneath for storage. Behind the painting on the wall was medical equipment hidden away. The chair between my bed and the futon/couch was a rocker. The tub was a massive tub Mike and I could fit in - but I opted out of it only because it had stalled my labor the day before - but with a nurse monitoring you I would do it in a second for our next child and highly recommend it! Lots of storage in the bathroom on both the counters and the shelves. We had brought an essential oil diffuser, essential oils, some body oil and muscle lotion, LED candles to keep the lights low in the room, a Bluetooth speaker for music, and the like for the room to feel better. I changed into the delivery gown I had purchased ahead of time to wear during the process.

When our the nurses on duty came in, they asked if we happened to have a birth plan on us. And yes, in fact we did. It was a huge amount of relief for us that they cared enough to make that one of the first things which they discussed with us. There were only 3 or 4 other couples on the wing. I was coming in at the tail end of a nursing shift so I had one nurse for a few hours, but then our second nurse was with us for the duration. The nurse made notes on the birth plan as she asked us for clarification (or ranking of specific items) and they told us it was posted at the nurses station for the staff to review. A lot of my tension went away with that dialogue! Apparently the majority of laboring mothers enter the hospital, ask for the drugs, and delivery is a quick turnaround. I was an unusual case in that way, and so there was a nursing student on duty that we granted permission to observe. She was really helpful - grabbing popsicles, drinks, timing contractions, helping Michael walk me around the wing, etc. etc.

When our OB came in, the first one of VERY few hiccups came up. It turned out when she came in that I was only 2-3 cm dilated. All of my OB appts leading up to labor had been fingertip and 1cm dilation. That was SO FRUSTRATING. I had been leaking all day and to learn that there was little development after a whole DAY blew our minds. That was when we decided to slightly adapt our birth plan. I was receptive to having some slight intervention, so our OB on duty gave me the teensiest slice of a Cytotec pill (oral not vaginal) - I would say fingernail size so maybe 1/6 of a full dose. This pill brought back contraction regularity and I tried to rest. Really, Mike rested and I just lay there bored out of my mind. I was truly exhausted but knew I might only do a natural(ish) labor once so I just had my heightened awareness and creeped around online without people knowing I was in labor. I had done research online, so I knew then and know now that Cytotec is used off-label for this purpose often. I was glad to have been aware of this information. Make sure you do your own research, too! In future pregnancies, I plan to decline it, as it truly did nothing to speed up my labor or dilate me more.

When the next OB shift change came around for my practice, my nurse was motivated to have the baby before she left for the day (not for pressure, just out of enthusiasm for our birth plan). Margaret's heartbeat was consistently strong, I was feeling strong and just really tired, and I was continuing to go to the restroom regularly, so the OB was incredibly supportive of my sticking with my birth plan until I personally felt otherwise. My nurse was a rockstar (her name is Nancy, and is a former Bradley instructor). We did all of the Bradley Method tips and tricks for labor. I was up and down, swiveling my hips, using the medicine ball, squatting, pelvic rocking, half laying on the labor peanut ball, walking around the wing, deep breaths, bearing down and timing of the contractions. Nancy was using her fists (and so was Michael!) to knead into my tailbone and all around that area of my pelvis. Mike was giving me all kinds of massage to help me mask the pain. I got up every 45-60 minutes to go to the restroom. So after about 17 hours (such a long time) after getting the Cytotec dose, I was at 8cm (during a contraction dilated). Yes, other than the sliver of Cytotec, I'd had no other drugs to help the labor along.

At this point I was at my wits end. I had not really slept in almost 2 days. My body was in agony. I was bawling my eyes out as I had neglected to ask my doctor for something for my caffeine headache - don't forget to pinpoint your symptoms everyone!! I remember sobbing into the pillow thinking, "I'm not able to push yet... but I've been basically pushing for 15+ hours... I don't think I can do this anymore." I wasn't giving up in a morbid sense, but I knew my body well enough, and lets just say I was a REALLY active and healthy pregnant person, so I knew I was approaching a place where I didn't have 100% control of my mental, emotional, psychological self. I needed to pat myself on the back for trying for so hard. Michael and nurse Nancy gave me about a half hour to really collect my thoughts and come to the decision. I asked Michael difficult questions (had he ever seen me this way, what did my face and eyes look like to him at this point) and I asked Nancy difficult questions too (if I was your daughter what kind of advice or gentle input would you give) and since I felt myself slipping I finally adapted my birth plan by giving them my code word - which Michael and Nancy asked for TWICE to make sure I was sure. I wasn't giving up was the main thing. And I wanted to be as aware as I could be postpartum. My labor had stalled but not in a dangerous way, it just was stalling (we learned later) due to my hymenal ring being intact. But my BODY and MIND was stalling by hitting a wall. I really had done a marathon with my body and my mind and I finally asked for all the comfort measures. I had the Fentanyl, an epidural, and Pitocin at around 3:30 p.m. to open and ripen my body from the 8cm I had done naturally to the full 10 cm. My only big freak out was the epidural making me afraid that I would possibly be paralyzed. I had a contraction while he was putting in my line which was terrifying but thankfully M was facing me on the other side of the bed to keep me steady. The Fentanyl helped me nap, briefly, for the first time in almost 24 hours. Everything came together in just 2 hours once I had given the green light for the comfort measures. These amendments did mean I had to have a monitor on, IV line, and couldn't really leave the bed, but that was okay by me at that point. I just melted into the bed and tried to relax. It was fun feeling the contractions progress without the pain. I distinctly remember saying to Nancy or Mike, "WOW is that a contraction? I hope that was a contraction because that was SO POWERFUL."

At around 4:45 or so, Nancy had me practice the Bradley method of a push. She then put my legs up in the stirrups and turned on the overhead light. She called a nurse over and said, "hmm, well you are definitely ready." She also said something along the lines of, "Hmmm, now what is that ring like thing?!" which was very funny (more on that later). The nurses agreed I was in the right place to push... only problem was finding an available OB from my practice! The OB from my practice on duty was in an emergency C-section. The next one coming on duty was leisurely making his way to the hospital. I was ready to push and the nurse at the nurses station yelled, "STOP PUSHING" at everyone in my room. It was very funny. I say "leisurely" as my OB's office is a mere 1 mile or less away, so it would only take minutes for him to arrive. Nurse Nancy told Michael "Hey! You have got to see this (pointing between my legs)" and he actually looked! This action made me screech as we had agreed he wouldn't look to keep that mystery alive in our marriage. Looking back he says, "I saw her hair. Plain as day, the top of her head! It wasn't gross. Just amazing." The OB strolled in and Michael and I were SO EXCITED. Everything was ready to go and laid out. The OB started making small talk. The nurses gave him a MAJOR look and he turned, looked between my legs and realized it was GO TIME. It was all very funny, truly, I was laughing as I was comfortable and knew I was meeting Margaret in just moments. My OB was between my knees, I was ready to go, and I pushed once. He said the baby's ears or something was caught on my hymenal ring, so he broke the ring and she naturally moved out. She was crying already and in full color once he broke the ring. He let me put my hands under her shoulders (at her armpits) and I pulled her with the last push putting her directly onto my naked chest. Yes, I pulled Margaret out with my own bare hands.

I was astounded. I was relieved. I was excited. I was crying. There were no words for how incredible I felt and how wonderful it all was. I felt so strong. The tiredness was gone. It was euphoric. Margaret was born on Wednesday, March 22 at 5:49 p.m. 6 pounds, 8 ounces. The past four months have been incredible.