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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Baby Margaret - Two Month update

I cannot get over how absolutely darling she looks in this two month old photo! It's funny that I'm publishing this post now, which I plan to do with all of her other month updates - just to have them preserved here and I can also print them to put in her baby book. I know it's weird since this was drafted LAST YEAR and I am just getting to it... but, that's why it's my blog and not yours! Everyday she seems to develop more of her personality and here are just a few highlights from the past month - the Ovia Parenting app and looking through my Photos definitely helped job my memory here:

  • Learned to recognize M and my face
  • Repeated us saying 'Oooh' and 'Ahhh' and other vowel sounds
  • She could lift her head up 45 degrees
  • Responded to her rattles, bell, crinkle paper
  • Open and closed her fists
  • Pushed down with legs when placed against a hard surface, later on the same month she would bear weight on legs when we held her arms.
  • Reached for her mobile and dangling toys if we held them above her.
  • Grasped and shook hand toys
  • Followed with her eyes and her head of objects moving closer and then further away. Later on she would look and focus at things in the distance (like people coming in the front door or entering a room).
  • Brought both hands together
  • Imitated facial expressions, sounds, movements.
  • Sleeping through the night - well, over 6 hours straight
  • Lifted head up 90 degrees from tummy
  • Following objects (esp a favorite toy) 180 degrees
  • Loves putting things in her mouth to explore them!
  • We started to give her pumped breast milk by bottle around 4/17 as she kept wanting to feed for like an hour+ on each side (I had an oversupply due to my prescription medicine).
  • Around May 1 we assumed she was hopefully around 8.5 pounds at that point (such a tiny girl weight-wise!)
  • 9+ diapers a day of both wet and dirty ones - hadn't started cloth diapers yet.
  • On 5/23 we had her 2 months old appointment with the Pediatrician. She had MCVA's HC at 15"/50%ile, L at 22.5" of 56%ile, weight at 9 lbs 3.5 ounces in the 8%ile. When we had bottle feedings Ped. said 4-4.5 oz at each was fine. She gave 4 shots.
  • I started pumping before going to bed at night, storing 1-2 bottles in the fridge for M to give her if she woke up overnight, so I could sleep fully and try to stay as healthy as I could mentally and emotionally - a HUGE supportive gesture from my husband!
  • Her favorite toy is probably her Teddy Kompaniet rabbit rattle that was in her first Easter basket! Also sold in the USA at Baby's First Gifts in Lexington, VA. Her Steiff bear is a close second - she talks to him a lot in her babble which is so sweet.
  • She is still trying to figure out who Lily is (our dog) and she adores the ceiling fans and thinks they are people.

What fun advances did you baby's show at this age?

This is Us inspired post on home fire safety

This post contains affiliate links which are click-through images and in-text links.

Fire safety in the home is incredibly important. And when you become parents, it's no longer about just you, there are innocent parties you need to make plans for, your children. The NBC hit show This is Us made my husband and I as first time parents of our little family come to the realization that while we have some idea and plans in the event of a fire in our household, we needed to do more to really prepare ourselves in the event of an emergency. As if Motherhood and Fatherhood weren't more overwhelming, the potential for any disaster can either cause great anxiety and procrastination (due to fear and denial) or you can embrace this potential disaster as a chance to really embrace what you can control - preparedness - for the better.

Besides crying over the emotions in the song tied to this scene, it also made me think about different home appliances I had maybe "inherited" from family members since we purchased our home in 2009. The bread machine that had sat dormant in a basement for 10 years, the plug in electric insect lantern ("zapper") with the slightly sketchy cords, the nice stand up vacuum that had been my great-grandmother's with a lifetime warranty (brand I will not name) that ran great but did have a weird belt issue that had us retire it to the attic, even some inherited older surge protectors. I realized these are all risks. Maybe small ones, maybe not ones I will lose sleep over... but maybe things that if we went to Lowes or an outdoors/home goods shop I should consider replacing for good.

This scene gave me goosebumps. I grew up in a historic, old Folk Victorian-style farmhouse. From post-Civil War but it had 3 chimneys and 5 fireplaces/heat stoves (a couple had been walled in). The fireplaces could be finicky. We had 2 chimney fires that I can recall as a child in that farmhouse - keep your chimneys clean and have them inspected regularly! We lived 4.6 miles or 11 minutes from our main fire station - I think we were mostly lucky with both fires due to the fact that we had a standing seam metal roof. Anyway, it always made me aware of fires and fire risks. So when we purchased our house, the first thing we did was replace all of the batteries in our smoke/carbon monoxide detectors, and we also bought backup plug in monoxide detectors (pictured below). Also buy a huge package of batteries and either set an alarm on your cell phone or calendar alert OR have Alexa/etc remind you to replace the batteries every SIX months.

In our home each bedroom has a fire escape ladder, fire extinguisher and a fire blanket. We have a fireproof waterproof safe with our documents inside in a fireproof document bag. We have 2 fire extinguishers in our lower level (one by our fireplace as we enjoy using candles - responsibly!) and one in the kitchen. Another fire blanket is in the kitchen if something comes up. Unplug counter appliances before going to bed for the night. Another kitchen tip is to have some oversized pot lids you can use to smother fires if needed. Ironically, though we live in a more rural location (Goochland) than where I grew up (Rockbridge), we have a brand-new state-of-the-art fire department only 2 miles or 4 minutes away (they existed previously for a long time but didn't have the facilities they deserved until now)! That said, we never want to be unprepared. The ladder goes over the window sill and helps people safely escape from that room. The fire blankets can put out a fire quickly if it isn't too big, otherwise the fire extinguisher can help if used properly. Other tips you can see that they used in This Is Us - while it can make the air in your room stuffy (which is why a floor stand fan or ceiling fan in a bedroom is highly recommended) sleeping with your bedroom door closed can literally save your life and prevent excessive smoke inhalation. Having doors to bedrooms closed overnight can give you precious minutes of safety.

Safe fire extinguisher use - learn the phrase PASS:
  • Pull the pin. Hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you, and release the locking mechanism.
  • Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
  • Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
  • Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side.

Do you have a wood burning fireplace or a gas propane fireplace? A wood burning fireplace means you should keep yourself awake late enough when burning a wood fire to properly put out the fire. Keeping a METAL bucket full of sand and a small spray bottle of water by your fireplace can save your entire family's life to properly put out the embers and COOL THE ASHES. Yes, I am saying that you should dirty up your in-home wood burning fireplace by treating it like a campfire. Smokey the Bear knows his stuff. That's why you have a shovel in your fireplace set right? To dispose of your ashes! Wouldn't it be better to have a messy COOLED fireplace that you clean up the next day or so instead of waking up to the lower level of your home, or worse, the main door to the outside of your house on fire because you dumped embers in a plastic bucket next to your front door before heading up to bed? Get a metal bucket.

Another tip: CLEAN your clothes dryer vent/filter between each laundry load. It adds a couple minutes but prevents build-up in the vent/pipe (the outside end you should clean as well, and keep it from being blocked by landscaping... our holly bush is a little bit one-sided but its on the house side so no one knows!). Maybe if you buy a home you could even be more fire aware and replace the metal duct when you move in so you know it isn't full of sneaky pockets of fire-friendly lint!

'If a Fire Starts' by the Red Cross:
  • Know how to safely operate a fire extinguisher
  • Remember to GET OUT, STAY OUT and CALL 9-1-1 or your local emergency phone number.
  • Yell "Fire!" several times and go outside right away. If you live in a building with elevators, use the stairs. Leave all your things where they are and save yourself.
  • If closed doors or handles are warm or smoke blocks your primary escape route, use your second way out. Never open doors that are warm to the touch.
  • If you must escape through smoke, get low and go under the smoke to your exit. Close doors behind you.
  • If smoke, heat or flames block your exit routes, stay in the room with doors closed. Place a wet towel under the door and call the fire department or 9-1-1. Open a window and wave a brightly colored cloth or flashlight to signal for help.
  • Once you are outside, go to your meeting place and then send one person to call the fire department. If you cannot get to your meeting place, follow your family emergency communication plan.

Learn more fire safety from the Red Cross here. Learn more fire safety from the National Fire Protection Association ("NFPA") here. I know this post wasn't typical for me, but I hope you appreciated it! Here's a link with all of the items featured shoppable from Do you have any safety tips - whether for fires or in general, to share?

This is Us inspired post on home fire safety

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.