Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I Am Not Low-Tech

I Am Not Low-Tech ||  Family, Love, and Fairy Tales
Photo: "iPad2" by IntelFreePress CC by 2.0 added text
A recent New York Times article titled "Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent" quoted Jobs as saying, regarding his kids use of the iPad, “They haven’t used it...we limit how much technology our kids use at home.”  This article was published on September 10, 2014, but this conversation between Jobs and the author happened in 2010, just as the first iPad was released.  Since this article was published, I have seen numerous bloggers take this Jobs quote and run with it.  "Jobs didn't even let his kids use the iPad and you shouldn't either!"  "Steve Jobs banned his children from using an iPad." Or, my personal favorite, "Steve Jobs didn't want his kids to get addicted to Apple gadgets."  Now, I don't know about you, but I did not see anything about banning the iPad, or technology addiction anywhere in that Jobs quote.  He said he limits their use of technology, as all good parents should do, in my opinion.  At the time, of course his kids hadn't used the iPad yet, it was brand new!  I loved the visionary that Steve Jobs was, but I'm not certain even he knew the limitless possibilities the iPad would hold.  

The iPad can be a learning device.  My son was just a baby when the iPad was first released.  He learned the names of animals and their sounds from the "Pet the Animals" app. "Adam Learns Shapes and Colors" taught him his shapes and colors in a fun and exciting way.  "Elmo Loves ABCs" and "Endless Alphabet" helped him learn the letters and their sounds.  Just last week I posted about how Tally Tots Counting helped my son learn how to count to 30...he's up to 100 now!  As he gets older, my son is learning the art of storytelling through "Puppet Pals" and "Toontastic."  Even "Angry Birds" and "Cut the Rope" teaches problem solving.  The numerous books stored on the iPad allows stories to be read to him anytime he wants.  The iPad can be a learning device, and should be used that way.  

The iPad does not hinder creativity.  Steve Jobs was not wrong when he said he limits his kids use of technology.  Yes, my son has an iPad, but he does not play with it all hours of the day.  Sometimes a week or more will go by when he hasn't used it.  Despite having an iPad (or 2 or 3!) in the house, my son still has the greatest imagination of any kid I've known.  He loves dressing up in his superhero costumes, he loves playing outside, he loves playing with playdough, and drawing, coloring, and painting.  Just this weekend he and his Daddy and his Grammy had an elaborate sidewalk chalk map complete with pictures and a story drawn on the driveway.  As parents it is our job to foster our kids' creativity, and not allow the iPad to hinder it in any way.  

I am not a low-tech parent.  Anyone who knows me, knows I am a techy.  I absolutely love technology and all the knew ways of learning that come along with it.  We put our phones away during dinner, we have conversations about our day, we read actual books, we rarely turn the television on during the week, but we are not a low-tech household.  The iPad allows us to FaceTime with our family members out of state, and gives Daddy the opportunity to read us books when he's out of town.  

We limit technology, but we also embrace it.  

Monday, September 29, 2014

Must-Have Monday-Baby Toys

 Must-Have Baby Toys || Family, Love, & Fairy Tales 

If you've been reading for know, the last week or so I've been writing...then you know I have a five-month-old baby girl.  For todays Must Have Monday, I've decided to write about the five must-have baby toys for a 4-6 month old.

1.  Jumperoo.  They come in all shapes and sizes with various toys, but the premise is the same.  It's a safe place to put the baby and let her jump to her little heart's content.  They can be very pricey, although I just found the Fisher-Price Rainforest Jumperoo is on sale today for $69 on Amazon!  They're regularly $99, so this is a great deal!  That being said, I bought mine through a local selling wall on Facebook.  I just couldn't justify spending $99 (or more!) on one, especially when we only have one income currently.  So, unless Nana or Grammy is going to buy you one, I suggest checking out a local selling wall or a yard sale--just don't forget the rules! :)

2.  Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes.  My son loved this so much that I buy it for every single baby shower I attend.  It's like quiet-down crack for babies!  I even have a picture of him and my niece, who was probably seven at the time, laying on the couch just completely mesmerized by the thing.  This may be a little excessive, but we even have two.  One for the diaper bag, and one for the house.

3.  Manhattan Toy Winkel Rattle and Sensory Teether Activity Toy.  It's a rattle and teether, all rolled into one.  Smart, because let's face it, everything that baby plays goes directly in the mouth.

4. Vulli So'Pure Teether, Sophie the Giraffe.  First of all, she is absolutely adorable!  Second of all, baby loves, loves, loves to chomp down on those little horns and knobby knees.  The Sophie we have does not have the handles, but I would really recommend getting one that does.  It makes it a lot easier for baby to hang on to.

5. Taggies Little Taggies Blanket.  These were around when my son was a baby, and to be honest, I thought they were just a gimmick.  I would have never spent the money to buy him a blanket with a bunch of tags sewed to it.  Well, Baby C received one as a gift, and I would venture to say it is probably her favorite plaything.  Since then, I have seen a Kindergarten friend of my son carrying hers around and another friend of mine says her three-year-old still sleeps with her Taggie every night.  So, maybe twenty-five bucks for a silly blanket is a little excessive, but if the lovey will last her several years, it's worth it in my book.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.  

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Rules for Yard Sale Attendees

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Photo: "Garage Sale" by Accretion Disc CC by 2.0 - added text
Are yard sales regional?  They are huge in Ohio.  They take so much work to set up and tear down that you have to really have a lot of good stuff to sell in order to make it worthwhile.  It helps if you have multiple families to sell and work the yard sale too.  More sellers=more stuff=more traffic=more money!  But this is not a post about how to sell at a yard sale.  Although I did make quite a bit of moolah this weekend, I don't consider myself an expert on that at all.  I can consider myself an expert on how one should behave at a yard sale.  What I might consider common sense to most people, rules clearly need to be laid out for others.  So, here goes.

1.  Wear shoes.  Just because my sale is in my garage does not mean I want you walking around barefoot in it.  The same goes for shirts and pants, too.  This might be a stretch, but if it's not allowed in Wal-Mart, it's probably inappropriate in the general public as well.

2.  No smoking.  I don't care if you choose to kill yourself in the privacy of your own home, but please don't take me and my kids down with you.

3.  "I brake for yard sales" is a joke.  You should not stop in the middle of the street to "browse" or park in the neighbor's driveway.  Oh, and that bright yellow thing in front of the house is a hydrant.  The fire department frowns upon parking in front of those too.

4.  I'll make a deal with you, but I won't let you steal from me.  This is not an open-air market in Cancun.  If a baby walker is priced $25 and a Baby Bjorn is priced $15, I'm not going to give you both items for $25.  If I tell you "no" more than twice, stop asking.  It's not going to change, and now all you're doing is annoying me.

Sadly, I'm speaking from experience here.  Have anything to add?  I will happily post a sequel, you know, to help all mankind.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Favorite App Friday-TallyTots Counting

I am not one to buy paid apps. I'm a cheap-o that way.  But when my son was having trouble learning to count above ten, my friend who is a first-grade teacher told me about this app.  Her daughter is about 7 months younger than my son and was counting to 30.  She said it was nothing she was teaching her, she learned from the app!  I had to buy it.  Sure enough, within a week, my son was counting to 30.  It actually will help your child learn how to count to 100!  There is also a catchy tune, but fair warning, it will get stuck in your head!  Each number has a different counting game attached to it.  TallyTots Counting is only $2.99 and well worth every penny.
click image for iTunes store
The app is also available in the Amazon app store for the same price:

(affiliate link)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The DOL's Lead on Leave

Have you seen this video yet?  

The United States is the ONLY industrialized nation without paid maternity leave.  The Department of Labor has a new campaign to take the #leadonleave and encourage employers to offer paid maternity leave.  

I don't get paid maternity leave at my job.  As you know, I am a teacher.  My employer will grant you six weeks of maternity leave, but you have to use your sick days if you want to be paid.  They will ONLY pay you for six weeks of leave, even if you have more.  My first child was planned accordingly.  I had him in July and the first day back to school for teachers was the day he turned six weeks old.  I would've been able to take an additional six weeks of leave (due to FMLA), but I would've had to take that time unpaid even though my summer pay is for the work I do during the school year.  Doesn't make much sense does it?  My second child was born in April and I was able to use four weeks of my (paid) sick leave and have the rest of the summer off with her (paid), had I chosen to go back this school year.  I can't complain because I know there are many women out there who get no maternity leave.  My example just shows the discrepancy between businesses in America.  

Paid maternity leave should be a given in this country.  A mother should have time to bond with her baby without having to worry about how they are going to pay the bills.  The University of Maryland found that a longer maternity leave significantly lowers the risk of postpartum depression.  According to the study, "the more leave time from work that a woman takes after giving birth-up to six months-the better protected she will be from experiencing post-partum depression."  (  In my opinion, a father should get paid paternity leave as well.  One study found that a "lack of paternal involvement was a significant predictor of the intensity of the depressive symptoms of the mothers."  (  

I breastfed both of my children.  I had to start pumping almost immediately with my son just to be able to store enough milk for my return to work.  I also pumped the entire school year.  It was very stressful trying to figure out where I was going to pump that day.  I was only able to pump once a day during my 30 minute lunch.  A hands-free bra was a lifesaver, but figuring out where to pump, get my lunch, get set up, start pumping, eat, put myself back together, store the milk, and give the parts a quick rinse ate up every second of those 30 minutes.  Teachers don't have the luxury of taking a break whenever they start feeling full, if you know what I mean.  And, if you've ever breastfed, you know that stress is not good for a nursing mother.  I was fortunate enough to have a good milk supply, but I can definitely imagine how difficult it would be for someone to continue pumping if they didn't have a good supply and had to go through that every single day.  With five years between my babies, my school changed quite a bit, and one of the main things I was worried about (when I thought I was going to go back this school year) was even finding a place to pump.  One of the two offices I had used before was turned into a bathroom and the second was an office for an outside preschool company.  Neither were good pumping locations anymore.  There was literally no room in my school.  Pumping in my classroom would not have been an option either, as the classroom is used by students when there is indoor recess.  Just thinking about it gave me stress.  Luckily I don't have to worry about it now, and my "horns" are now very rarely used.  

I guess I've kind of gotten away from my point.  If companies were to give paid maternity leave, mothers would be more bonded to their babies, they would have an excellent start to a breastfeeding relationship and be more encouraged to continue once they do go back to work, children would be healthier, and instances of postpartum depression would perhaps be lessened.  Healthy children and lower instances of postpartum depression would equal less time off from work for the mother once they do return.  I would imagine a company offering paid maternity leave would also have higher retention rates.  To me, it sounds like a win-win.  What do you think?  It's time to take the #leadonleave.  

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What We're Reading Wednesday-Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young

What We're Reading Wednesday photo Screenshot2014-09-22at34012PM.png 
Reading is very important to me and my family.  I am a reading teacher, and it's pretty hard to escape from reading if you live in my house.  Thanks to Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, even my husband has become a reader.  I don't have reading "rules" in my house.  As long as you're reading, I don't care if it's a magazine, comic book, on an electronic device, or just a good old-fashioned book.  I feel the same about my students' reading habits as well.

That being said, I try to direct my son's reading choices away from superheroes every once in a while.  That is how we found Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young.  I had never seen this Caldecott award winner before, but it was on display at the library and I decided to pick it up.  (Anyone else hear Melissa Gorga's song..."on display, on display, on display..." No? Yes, I admit I'm a RHONJ fan).  Anyways, I chose the book only for the Caldecott sticker on the cover.  Who says you can't judge a book by it's cover?  For those of you who don't know, the Caldecott Medal is awarded to books for outstanding illustrations.  I absolutely love picture books; they're not just for little kids, you know!

click to find book on Amazon
Seven Blind Mice follows seven mice who find a Something by their pond.  The mice (all different colors-great for children learning colors), each go to explore the Something to determine what it is.  Six mice each explore a different part of the Something, leading them to believe it is all different things (a snake, a cliff, a rope, etc.)  The seventh mouse explores the whole of the Something and finally determines what it actually is.  Young children will love this book because they quickly realize what the Something is and they want the mice to figure it out too.  Older children and adults (like me!) will love this book because of the lesson it teaches.  That being said, my little smarty-pants five-year-old figured out the moral of the story when asked.

I highly recommend Seven Blind Mice for children and adults alike!

If you're also a reader, please follow me on goodreads!
Rachel's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Homemade Baby Food?

I have forayed into the world of homemade baby food.  I'm not one of those "crunchy" moms.  Yes, I breastfeed, and yes I babywear, but that's about as "crunchy" as I get.  I don't even like to cook.  So why homemade baby food?  The answer is simple.  It's easy and it's cheap.  Probably not what you wanted to hear right?  Sure, I want the best for my baby.  But do I really think Gerber is that bad?  No.  I fed my oldest Gerber.  He survived.  I've seen and heard people talk about preservatives and added sugar in baby food.  Well, the food I gave my son had two ingredients: carrots (or whatever I was feeding him) and water.  That's it.  I thought about making baby food for my son, but I was also working at the time and decided I wanted to spend my weekends actually playing with him instead of making him food.  Things are a lot different this time around.  For one, I'm home with my daughter all day every day.  If I spend a couple hours on a weekend making baby food, it's a welcome break.  And it gives my husband and son time to play with her.  Also, we're on a strict budget.  Losing half your income is not easy.  It's something we chose, but it's still not easy.  If I can save our family some money by making her foods, then I'm going to do it!

Because the AAP has researched and now suggests that you do not feed baby solid foods until 6 months of age, I'm waiting to start baby C on solids for another month.  (See:  But, I decided this weekend to dive into the making of baby food because we went to the Apple Orchard!  How fun is that?  We brought home 20 pounds of apples!  And let me tell you, 20 lbs of apples is a whole lotta apples!  We made an apple crisp.  By we, I mean my husband...I don't like to cook remember?  Then we decided to make applesauce.  I made a batch for the big people in our family (with brown sugar!), and a batch for the baby (just apples and water-sorry baby!).  I just realized writing this that I might be a crock pot hoarder, because we have three, but it came in really handy when making the two separate batches of applesauce!

For the big-people applesauce, I followed the recipe from The Pioneer Woman, but I used a crock pot instead.  I peeled and cored ten apples, cut them into slices, threw them in the crock pot with a tablespoon of lemon juice, a cup of water, 1/2 cup of light brown sugar, and a teaspoon of cinnamon.  Six hours later with the help of a slotted spoon, I had the most delicious applesauce.

For the baby applesauce, I double checked Wholesome Baby Food first , just to make sure I knew what I was doing, and I threw five apples in the crock pot (peeled and cored) with a 1/2 cup of water and let it sit on low for about six hours as well.  When it was done, I didn't even need to puree it, I just let it cool for a bit and put it into ice cube trays to freeze in 1 oz portions.  Once frozen, I placed the cubes into a freezer bag, ready for baby when she's a bit older.  For the record, the baby applesauce version was just as good as the big-people version, so if you're watching your sugar intake I can recommend the sugar-free recipe in good faith :)

How about you?  Anyone make their own baby food?  The Wholesome Baby Food site is a great resource and I highly recommend you check it out.

Homemade Applesauce-Family, Love, & Fairy Tales Blog
Photo: Malus "Gala" by Steschke CC-by-sa-2.0-de 

Monday, September 22, 2014

My Top 5 Favorite Baby Items

Must Have Baby Items||Family, Love, & Fairy Tales Blog
Handmade Butterfly Mobile by ButterflyOrbs CC BY 2.0  (added text)
If you've been reading, you've probably noticed some pretty heavy posts these last few days.  I wanted to get my story out there and to raise awareness.  If my story saves one life or empowers one person to stand up to their doctors, then I'll feel as if I made a difference.  Now, on to some fun stuff!

There are SO MANY baby items on the market right now.  Some you know you need; clothes, diapers, bottles, etc.  Others are fancier, and the question remains, "Do I really need this?"  Here are my top five baby items that you really do need!

1.  Baby Carrier.  I have two, a Maya Wrap Ring Sling and an ERGO Baby Carrier .  The ring sling is the easiest, by far, to use right now.  It's great for walking my son to the bus stop, or quick trips into the store when I don't feel like unloading the stroller.  I like the Ergo for longer trips.  I feel much more hands-free than I do with the ring sling (For some reason I always feel like I need one hand on baby when she's in the ring sling).  The downside to this type of carrier is that it's not designed to be used until your baby is more than 12 lbs.  You can buy a separate infant insert for smaller babies, which I did, knowing I make small babies.  The infant insert is a heavy swaddle, which was great in spring...not so great in the heat of the summer.  My baby is just over 13 lbs right now, but she is short so she still needs the pillow that comes with the insert.  It's definitely more comfortable, and I do prefer it for longer walks, but it's not very convenient having to carry around the little pillow for her to sit on.  Baby loves both carriers...anything that gets her closer to mommy! :)

2.  Snap 'n Go Stroller.  This was a baby item I thought was such a silly thing.  I have a carrier to wear baby in situations where the bulkier stroller is not convenient.  Why do I need a stroller to hold the infant car seat?  Wrong.  It is so convenient.  Countless times I've planned on just putting her in the ring sling to go into the store, but when I arrive she's asleep.  And we all know the rule--never wake a sleeping baby.  No worries, I'll just transfer the ever-so-peaceful baby sleeping in the comfort of her car seat into the Snap 'n Go.  The ease of the Snap 'n Go will allow me to keep her in the heavy infant seat much longer, probably until the limits of the seat.

3.  Muslin Swaddle Blanket.  I discovered these with my son and when I was pregnant with my daughter I knew she needed her own "cold blanky" as my son calls his.  We prefer the Aden & Anais brand, but they sell other brands at a lesser cost at the big box retailers.  We have the 47"x47" blankets, which are big enough to grow with the child.  My five-year-old still sleeps with his.  The fabric is designed to keep baby warm in the winter and cool in the summer.  They are just the right size for a perfect swaddle and lightweight enough to feel safe having it in the crib with baby.

4.  Infant Tub with thermometer.  Funny story.  We didn't originally register for this with our first.  We quickly learned it was going to be much easier to bathe our tiny baby in the sink than the big bathtub.  Our second day home, I sent my husband to Babies R Us.  In a daze from complete lack of sleep, he fills his cart with our needs and goes to the checkout before realizing he had walked off with someone else's cart.  He did eventually make it back home with the bathtub.  We really like the one we have with the thermometer because you can make sure the water is the perfect temperature.  It also is designed to let the dirty water run out while the clean water runs in.  Take it from me, it really is much easier to bathe baby in the kitchen sink rather than bending over the bathtub.  Baby girl is almost five months and we have just recently stopped using it.  It was a sad day.

5.  Pack 'n Play.  By far, this is the baby item that we have gotten the most use out of between the two kids.  Ours was purchased over five years ago, and they have improved so much!  Ours is just a simple pack & play with a bassinet and changing table attachment.  They make them now with a "newborn napper" attachment, which looks really comfy for baby!  We actually have two pack & plays and while our babies are small, we use one upstairs in our bedroom and one downstairs in the living room.  It's nice to have a place to change baby's diapers and for her to nap on our main living floor.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links*

Sunday, September 21, 2014

HELLP Syndrome-My Story (Part Three)

HELLP Syndrome-My Story photo HELLPbutton-1.jpg 
I remained in the hospital for 8 days following the birth of my daughter.  My blood pressure would not regulate, my blood platelets continued to be extremely low (in the toilet, as Nurse Beth told me), and my liver enzymes were extremely high.  They drew my blood every six hours, day and night.  Not good for a new mom trying to recover!  If I wasn't awakened to get blood drawn, I was awakened to feed my baby.  Because I was on the high-risk floor, my baby was in the nursery on the floor above me.  For security reasons, we had to call a nurse to bring our baby to us anytime we wanted her.  Sometimes we had to wait 30-45 minutes because of short-staffing.  Not at all convenient to a nursing mother.

At one point I was on three different medications in an attempt to keep my blood pressure down.  I was on 300 mg of labetalol twice a day, HDCL (a water pill), and procardia.  Even on all of those medications, my blood pressure would often spike (anything 150 or above) and I had to be given a shot of hydralazine in my IV.  This would almost instantly bring my blood pressure down, but also make me very weak and lightheaded.  Also due to my unstable blood pressure, and coming off the magnesium drip, I continued to suffer from headaches.  I was seen by a cardiologist, and due to my distrust in my OB/GYN, I asked the cardiologist to please take control of my medication and dosage.  This was the first, best decision I made to take control of my health.  I was given an echocardiogram, and by the grace of God, I had nothing wrong with my heart.

Due to the massive headaches and the dangerously high blood pressure, I was also seen by a neurologist.  I was given an MRI and an MRA, and learned that I had suffered from several acute strokes.  When my neurologist gave me the news, I instantly broke down in tears and kept thinking about how all of this could've been so much worse.  What I angrily told my husband came rushing back to me, "If I stroke out and die, make sure you sue the pants off that doctor."  All that time I knew something was wrong with me, but I didn't trust myself enough to listen.  By nothing other than divine intervention, I have no residual effects from the strokes.  I asked the neurologist if the massive headache on Wednesday, the day I called the ambulance, was when I had the stroke.  She said no.  She said I was having strokes up to TWO WEEKS prior to the test.  She said that I was probably having them even further back, but the tests will only show two weeks back.  The neuro nurse practitioner told me that she had only seen two cases like mine, and the other one didn't turn out so well.  Again, tears.  I don't think my family and I can thank God enough for his protection over me and our precious little girl.  When our pastor came to visit, I told her that clearly God has big plans for our baby girl.  She said, "For you, too."

Because our baby girl was healthy, they eventually released her from the hospital on Wednesday, April 30.  I was so worried they were going to send her home, but they told me she could stay in my room and they would provide all of the supplies, so long as I had another adult in the room with me.  What a weight off my shoulders!  My husband and I were so bonded throughout this ordeal, and I don't think we've ever been closer than we were then.  We celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary in June and I asked what his favorite moment of our last nine years were and we both said, oddly enough, our time together in the hospital.  Nothing tests your vows and commitment to one another like a health crisis, and my husband passed with flying colors!

On Thursday, exactly one week after our baby was born, the doctor rounding from my OB/GYN's office came in and said she was going to release me.  I also want to note here, that I had not seen MY OB/GYN since we learned of the strokes three days prior.  I was shocked.  My blood pressure had been spiking all throughout the night.  It was 158/110 at 7:00 am, and she wanted to send me home?  Tears, again.  And I'm not a crier!  I expressed my concerns and frustrations to my nurses, who by the way, are my heroes in all of this!  I loved every single one of them.  Nurse Jen said, "Don't worry, with these high readings, we are NOT sending you home today.  We will fight with the doctors."  The neuro nurse practitioner eventually came in and said, "We are definitely not releasing you today."

After 24 hours of a stabilized blood pressure, I was eventually released by ALL of my doctors.  I came home on the three blood pressure medications, and I'm happy to report I'm down to only one now.  I still take the labetalol twice a day, which I think will continue for some time now.  I am so comfortable with my cardiologist, who continues to oversee my care.  Amid much anxiety, I went to my six-week postpartum check-up with my OB/GYN, but I will never return to that office again.  When she entered the room during my check-up, she had the nerve to say "Well, there's the little trouble-maker" about my baby.  My husband, always the sarcastic one, said he controlled himself enough to keep from saying, "Really? I was thinking the same thing about you!"

As I've stated in my previous posts, the biggest lesson I've learned throughout all of this ordeal is to be your own advocate.  If you know something is wrong, speak up for yourself!  Only you know how you are feeling and if you don't feel like you're getting the answers you need or want, ask for 2nd, 3rd, or 4th opinions!  It was so engrained in me to just accept what the doctors were telling me that I actually questioned calling my cardiologist when I felt I needed my medications adjusted.  Please, if you feel like you are having symptoms of HELLP, address it with your doctors.  Learn from my story.  Be your own advocate!

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

HELLP Syndrome-My Story (Part Two)

HELLP Syndrome-My Story photo HELLPbutton-1.jpg
Yesterday I posted about my experiences with high blood pressure in pregnancy and HELLP Syndrome.  Today I will be writing my birth story.

Even though my doctor did not put me on bed rest, I put myself on a modified version, because I just didn't feel like my blood pressure was at a safe level.  I still took my son to school, and we did a few activities on spring break, but I truly wasn't feeling well enough to do much of anything anyways.  I felt so guilty for being in bed during my son's last days as an only child.  On April 23, I woke up feeling very sick to my stomach.  My blood pressure was very high all day, but at this point, it was nothing new.  I chose to stay in bed all day.  I had very bad stomach cramps, that I didn't think were contractions, but my son was delivered so quickly (less than three hours) that I wasn't even sure I knew or remembered what real contractions were like.  I told my husband that I thought we needed to go to the hospital.  He was in the middle of digging baby stuff out of the basement and really didn't want to go in unless I absolutely felt it was necessary.  I couldn't get ahold of my mom to come get T, so I just decided to wait it out.  A little while later, I got up to use the restroom and I was completely overcome with what I can only describe as the worst headache of my entire life.  A headache I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.  It started at the base of my neck and worked its way up all the way around my head.  It was truly unlike anything I've ever experienced before.  I knew we needed to go in immediately.  We finally got ahold of my mom who was walking at our nearby recreation center and she came over right away.  She convinced me that we needed to call 911.  When the EMTs arrived at my house, they took my blood pressure and it was 167/105.  I literally could not open my eyes due to the headache, but I could hear everything going on around me.  My son kept coming over and rubbing my back.  I knew I was in a bad situation and I was so scared that I was going to leave him without a mother.  I was trying so hard to keep it together for him.

My husband followed us to the hospital.  They took me in through the ER, but I was sent immediately up to Labor & Delivery.  I was hooked up to monitors and IVs were attempted.  I say attempted because I can't even count how many times I was poked and in so many different places before they finally got a good one in my right hand.  Blood work was done, and I can remember hearing the doctor on call say, "Yes, it's HELLP, we need to deliver her immediately."  I knew they were talking about me.  I didn't even know what HELLP was, but I knew there was no way that my baby was staying inside me.  She came in to talk to me and told me they were going to take me to a room and start me on a pitocin drip and break my water.  I asked if the baby was ok, and they said yes, she's perfect.

At 8:00 pm, I was started on pitocin.  I was never asked if I wanted an epidural, but I didn't want one either.  I had a natural birth with my son and was looking forward to another.  Though, this obviously, was going to be a much different experience.  I was given nubain for my headache, which also took the edge off of the contractions.  I was also put on a magnesium drip to prevent seizures.  When I was dilated enough, they broke my water, and at 3:56 am on April 24, I delivered my small, but healthy baby girl.  I was 37 weeks at delivery and she weighed 5lbs 7oz and was 18.5" long.  I was able to do skin-to-skin with her and immediately breastfed her, which was very important to me.  She latched on like a pro!  After a couple of hours, they took her to the nursery and I got some rest.  Shortly after they moved me to the high-risk floor for postpartum recovery.  I had to stay on a magnesium drip for 24 hours following delivery.  I can't imagine too many things worse than being on magnesium.  I had to have a catheter because I wasn't allowed to walk, I couldn't eat, and I could only drink clear fluids.  The nursery brought the baby to me every three hours to breastfeed, but my husband had to help me hold her because I was so weak.  Other than my parents bringing my son, we requested no visitors.  This was probably the best decision we made.  It was very quiet and peaceful.

My blood pressure did not immediately drop after delivery, nor did my blood work go back to normal.  From what I understand, this is something unusual of HELLP syndrome.  Typically the cure for pre-eclampsia and HELLP is delivery.  Evidently, I was somewhat of an anomaly.  I will write about my postpartum experiences tomorrow.  Again, the reason I am writing this blog is to raise awareness.  Please share with anyone who might benefit from hearing my story!

Friday, September 19, 2014


A great way to follow your favorite blogs and to make sure that you don't miss a post is to use the feedburner Bloglovin'.  Follow my blog with Bloglovin by clicking the link!

HELLP Syndrome-My Story (Part One)

 HELLP Syndrome-My Story||Family, Love, & Fairy Tales Blog
In my first blog post, I mentioned that I had a complicated pregnancy. One of the main reasons for starting this blog is to tell my story.  I think it is so important to raise awareness about HELLP syndrome.  Although ultimately my outcome and prognosis is good, things could have been very different for me had I been aware.

HELLP stands for Hemolysis, ELevated liver enzymes, and Low Platelets.  Most women have heard of pre-eclampsia.  The way HELLP has been described to me is that it is a much-worse version of pre-eclampsia.

From the very beginning of my pregnancy, I could tell it was different.  I thought perhaps my mother-in-law was right and I was having a girl.  I also know that no two pregnancies are alike, so I didn't think much of it at first.  Almost immediately, my migraines had flared up.  I've had migraines since I was a young child, and I have always been able to manage them well.  I guess you could say that I was used to them (about as used to a migraine as you can get!)  These pregnancy migraines were some of the worst headaches I've ever had.  Nothing would take them away.  I talked with my doctor, and she prescribed me fioricet, which is basically a caffeine pill.  She told me to take that with a Coke whenever a migraine was triggered.  This didn't touch the migraines.  Eventually, from about 20 weeks on, I started to get a massage every two weeks.  This definitely helped.

In March I randomly decided to check my blood pressure.  I developed pre-eclampsia the day I delivered my son, and though my doctor assured me that pre-eclampsia does not happen in second pregnancies, something told me to start monitoring my blood pressure.  My blood pressure was high when I started monitoring it.  When I say high, I'm talking in the 140s/90s.  My doctor told me to lay on my left side and check again. It always went back down when laying on my left side.  One weekend in March, I was feeling particularly sick to my stomach and I checked my blood pressure again.  This time it was in the 150s/90s.  Knowing what my doctor would say, I stayed in bed on my left side as much as I could that weekend.  On Monday morning, I brought my monitor to school with me and checked it at lunch.  This time it was 155/93.  I called the office and they told me to come in.  When I arrived at the office, they took my blood pressure (manually) and I was told it was normal.  They did not ask to see my blood pressure readings from over the weekend and told me my 25-minute drive to the office must have lowered my blood pressure.

On Sunday, March 30, I woke up with very bad stomach pains.  I thought I had a stomach virus, because I had everything that accompanied a stomach virus.  On Thursday, I still was not feeling well and my stomach cramps were so bad I was worried something was wrong with the baby.  My doctor's office instructed me to go to Labor & Delivery.  When I arrived, my blood pressure was elevated.  Once again, they had me lay on my left side.  They L&D doctor on call determined I was dehydrated and instructed me to drink Gatorade.  This is when I truly believe the HELLP symptoms had begun.  No blood tests were done that day, and since I showed no protein in my urine, they were not concerned about pre-eclampsia.

All throughout the month of April, my blood pressure continued to stay elevated.  Yet, every time I was in the office, the technician told me it was great.  When I arrived home from school on April 11, I was not feeling well and my blood pressure was 146/100.  I laid on my left side for an hour and took it again and it was still very high.  At this point, my doctor's office had made me feel like I was crazy.   I think even my husband was beginning to question my sanity because the doctor continually told me there was nothing wrong.  I recall saying to him at one point, "Well, if I stroke out and die, make sure you sue the hell out of that doctor."  Even though I knew my blood pressure was dangerously high, I didn't know whether I should be seen or not.  I called my insurance company's nurse line and she told me that I needed to be seen immediately.  Once again, we trekked to Labor & Delivery.  My blood pressure was 162/100 when I arrived.  This time, they did do blood work which showed high uric acid.  My urine was once again showing no protein.  They sent me home to do a 24-hour urine collection, and told me to stay in bed the rest of the weekend.  When I went back on Sunday, they tested the 24-hour collection and it once again showed no protein.  The blood work did continue to show high uric acid.  My doctor's office doctor-on-call in the L&D triage told me to continue bed rest and follow-up with my doctor the next morning.  She said she would make sure to let my doctor know first thing in the morning.

My blood pressure was so high (152/97) the following morning that I did not feel comfortable driving myself to my doctor appointment. My mom accompanied me to my appointment.  Once again, when I arrived to my doctor's office, my blood pressure was taken (manually) and I was told it was normal.  This didn't make sense and once again I felt like I was crazy.  I used two different monitors, so I knew it wasn't my monitor!   My doctor was not aware that I was seen in the hospital the previous weekend.  She said that since I was not spilling protein, I was not at risk for pre-eclampsia.  I requested for her to check my blood pressure again and she told me that her technician usually takes blood pressure readings on the high side, so she was not concerned.  Hindsight is 20/20, but my mom says she wishes she would've marched out to the car right then and taken my blood pressure with her monitor to show the doctor.  I truly believe my doctor thought I was just wanting off of work.  I admit, it was a very rough school year, but I was planning on starting my maternity leave in four days anyways.  She told me that I did not need to be on bed rest, but wrote me a note to start my maternity leave immediately.

Little did I know that this was just the beginning of my problems.  After months of feeling like nobody was taking me seriously, and honestly feeling like I was a crazy person (my entire family and many friends had heard me saying this numerous times), I started to believe that I was.  The biggest lesson that I have learned throughout all of this is to listen to your body.  Trust yourself.  If you believe something is not right, and you're not getting the answers that you want, find a new doctor.

Stay tuned tomorrow for part two, and please share my story with anyone who could benefit from hearing it.

Thursday, September 18, 2014


Thanks for joining me in my little space on the 'net.  I have had a fairly successful teacher blog for the last few years and I've finally decided to take the leap and create a life/family blog.  Mostly because I have taken a leave of absence from teaching this year, and I want to chronicle my journey.   I had a new baby in April and she is my reason for the time off; but I also had quite a complicated pregnancy and I want to raise awareness about that as well.  In addition to my five-month-old, I also have a five-year-old little boy.  He started Kindergarten this year!  In our district, Kindergarteners go to school all day every day.  I'm a little sad that I can't spend my time off with both my kiddies, but my son is most definitely ready for the challenge of Kindergarten.  And I'm not kidding when I say Kindergarten is a challenge!  Have you seen the Common Core?  I will say, though, that my son has learned more in the first five weeks of school than I could've ever taught him at home!  Yes, I'm a teacher.  But I teach fourth grade.  Kindergarten teachers have all my praise and respect!

I look forward to sharing more of my journey as a mommy to an infant and a Kindergartener.  I am also a self-proclaimed Disney-holic, so I would love to share my thoughts and tips on Disney travel.  Lastly, because you can take the teacher out of the classroom, but not the teacher out of the teacher, I will be sharing some of my favorite children's books and activities.


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