Monday, December 24, 2012

Using a gym bag as a diaper bag... the ultimate re-purpose

One thing I will never understand is the idea of the designer diaper bag! Nothing like throwing used burp rags, and poop-exploded onesies into a $300 dollar coach bag. Plus, lets be honost you'd rather have your hubby carry the bag but the massive diamond studded man purse just isn't a good look on him. So, here is my solution. GYM BAG!!!

I used a small gym bag for our 20 month old. It has a shoulder strap to be worn as a messenger bag or zip out straps to become a backpack, which works great for hanging on the stroller handles. The fabric is tough and versatile, easily washable and the bag zips all the way closed. There is a place for a water bottle which doubles as a sippy cup holder and pockets for storing diapers, cream, wipes etc.

Here are some pics of my bag

One other feature that makes an amazing diaper bag feature...
shoe side pocket!!! shut the front door.... a place to shove all the dirty baby crap in the bag that keeps it isolated and is easy to clean. AMAZING.

My friend has two kids under 2yrs and was recently carrying 3 diaper bags!!! Seriously. She had one for each kid since they have different needs and because her boys are messy she had a third bag that she  used to throw the dirty crap in.

I bought her this bag as a present.

It's amazing. What a simple thought for re purposing. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

DIY pattern for surgical scrub or chemo hat

Women's Pixie Scrub Hat with 2 tone

 After lots of searching I could never find a pattern/guide to making scrub caps so after much trial and error I have a pattern and decided that I was going to make a guide for other people to use! I understand that there are a million ways to make hats but this is just something I'm putting out there for anyone who's interested :)

I have added drawings with more directions to try and clarify things. I am clearly not an artist.. haha


5/8 yard of fabric (main color)
6 inch strip of fabric (contrast color)
5 inches of 1/2inch elastic
basic sewing equipment (thread, pins, needles, iron)


-Begin by pre-washing/drying and ironing your fabric

-Draw a pattern for the top of the hat, This is a standard 12x12 piece of scrapbook paper drawn out in a "toilet seat" shape, this picture was taken as an angle but it is 12x12

**Note: If you have a lot of hair or a bun that sticks far off your head make this part of the pattern longer and wider

Cut your pattern and place it on your fabric (I have used some old remnant fabric to give a better idea of the places that will be cut later) Sorry this pic is a little blurry but you get the idea...

(see drawing under photos for better reference)
 Once the top is cut out you want to fold the fabric "hot dog" style leaving enough overlap to cut out tails

fold the fabric "hamburger" style

Get ready to cut out the body of the hat 
NOTE** be sure that the material is folded correctly so that this comes out as 1 piece 

line up the background color against the hat using the center line as a guide, then fold over (hotdog), pin and sew the, background into place from the backside of the fabric

Then trim the excess 

sew the other side of the contrast color on

 Now you fabric should all be 1 piece. 

Fold the fabric in half "hot dog" style at the center line so you are looking at the inside and sew around the fabric to create a tube (this means don't sew the edges of the ties yet)

Using the holes left in the ends of the ties flip the fabric inside out so that you are looking at what you want to be the outside of the hat.

Iron the fabric so that the seams are nicely presses along the edges
Now grab the top piece and begin pinning it to the body piece starting at the center

This is what it should look like when it is pinned

 Sew the 2 pieces together and sew the ends of the ties so there are no longer any holes

Cut a piece of elastic a little shorter than the gap you have to fill 

Sew the elastic to the edges to tack it in place

 Fold the excess material over the elastic and using your hands to stretch the band sew in a zig zag stitch over the elastic and material

And that's all there is to it

Monday, November 26, 2012

I will always be a NICU mama

18 months after my daughter was born, I still grieve for the piece of our relationship that I feel like I forever lost...

But, before I get to that, I must first express how grateful I am that my daughter is now a healthy happy toddler.

This was not always the case... Born 7 weeks early, I remember meeting her for the first time. She was just laying there, her tiny body covered in tubes. Her face smothered with a mask pushing air into her lungs as she struggled to breathe on her own. I remember feeling so helpless, I had been a mother for no less than 2 hours and I had already failed my daughter. I failed to do the one thing that should have been easy. She should have been safe, growing in my belly for almost two more months. But instead, she was here, struggling, in pain.

Then the real darkness set in for me... I was discharged from the hospital. Kicked out, given the boot. Sent home to an empty nursery. This is a feeling that I really feel no one who hasn't experienced this could ever understand. I kept putting my hand on my belly as I had done quite a bit when I was pregnant, only to realize it was now empty, just fat and stretch marks remained as reminders that just two days earlier my sweet baby girl was still safe in there. I could swear that I could still feel her kick sometimes.

Being a NICU mommy is part of who I am. I did not get to bond with my daughter until she came home. And by then she didn't even feel like mine. The should be happy ending to the whole nightmare turned out to be as difficult as the beginning.

I love my baby girl so much but it really took a year to feel like she even belonged to us. Every day we grow and learn together. But, I will never forget the first 27 days of our journey!

People keep asking me if we are planning to have any more kids.

Whenever I even think about going through that again my heart breaks.
I answer "I'm not sure." And I inevitably get some sort of lecture about why I shouldn't wait, how my daughter will be lonely, or some other bs..

Maybe I'll just start answering "its none of your business." I am supposed to wait at least 2 years anyways given the problems I had during my pregnancy, never mind that I had a uterine tumor after my pregnancy. My body was clearly not build for pregnancy. I am so lucky that I was able to cheat biology just enough to have one child. It nearly killed me both physically and emotionally. I'm just not sure I'm ready to do it all again.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Cleaning cloth diapers in He washer

I will start out by saying I have an unhealthy obsession with laundry! i love doing laundry and trying new things. After reading every tip an truck I could find online I have come up with my own method that uses only natural detergent and gets them clean and smelling great!

1- run a rinse only cycle - no soap (on my washer there is a 'rinse+spin' cycle but you can set the washer to 'no spin')

the purpose of this cycle is to get the diapers wet. HE washers use less water than traditional washers and diapers are absorbent... Both good things but not together. This will allow your washer to add the correct amount of water to avoid soap buildup while washing. If you diapers pre soak in a wet pail before washing you can skip this step.

2- Now it's wash time! I use Charlie's Soap Laundry Powder, a natural soda soap with coconut oil. (I bought it on amazon for cheap! You only need a tablespoon maximum and it won't leave buildup that will cause diapers to resist water and leak) My washer has a 'sanitize' cycle that I use for diapers. But use the hottest/longest cycle your machine has. Most HE washers will have a recommended cycle for diapers on their website or in the manual. I add an extra rinse cycle just to be sure all the soap gets washed off but this is less important if you want to skip it.

-soap: most diaper manufacturers will recommend certain soaps and it may void your warranty if you use something else! Compare soaps, look up the ingredients, the commercial "free" soaps often use lard and brighteners which will affect your diapers.

-fabric softener- DO NOT USE traditional fabric softeners!!! This will build up and cause your diapers to wick water and leak! Instead you can use plain white vinegar. Just put a little bit like 1/4 cup or so in the softener dispenser so it will come out in the rinse cycle. Be sure to add an extra rinse cycle if you use vinegar or the smell will be strong.

* they will still have a hint of vinegar smell, I have tried adding it to the first rinse before washing and that helps but I'm not sure it makes them any softer.

3- drying
-hang dry whenever possible! Outside is the best because the sunlight will help keep them white and soft. But living in Seattle, I know that this is not always possible.
-using the dryer- I put everything in (covers, inserts, liners, wet bags) and set the dryer on extra low and run it for 30 minutes. Then I take out anything with PUL in it (covers, wet bags) and I lay out anything that is not totally dry. The inserts and prefolds I run for a second 30-40 minute cycle on high.

* do not dry your all in ones, pocket diapers, wet bags, covers, or anything with PUL on high because this could melt the plastic coating and cause them to leak.

* do not use dryer sheets this will cause buildup and leakage. If you need to prevent static use a wool dryer ball

Troubleshooting section-

-"stripping" your diapers, this term refers to removing any buildup you may have on your diapers. Some people do this once a month, some do it only if they have issues with leaking, some people never need it.
-The best way that I have read to do this does not work in a front load washer, I repeat, DO NOT do this with your front load washer. Maybe you have a friend or mom who still has a traditional washer you can use. Put a table spoon of dawn dish soap in a washer full of water, add diapers, set washer to agitate until all of the bubbles stop, then wash as usual.
- only have access to front loader, no problem there are solutions for you too. Use oxy clean. Put the oxy clean in the drum with the diapers, DO NOT add it with the soap. Wash as normal!

- Hard water. I live in an area where we have very soft water and do not get buildup but if you use well water or live in an area with hard water you should add a water softener to avoid yellow stains.

A note about the diapers I use. I mainly use fuzzibunz pocket diapers lined with a microfiber insert and doubled with either thirsties hemp inserts or a cotton prefold. I also use hemp CDI soaker pad for night time. But I also use cloth prefolds with a bummis cover on occasion. I use a hanging dry pail for dirty diapers and wash diapers every 1-2 days

I hope these tips and tricks help!!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A baby that doesn't feel like mine

I visited Alexa every day that she was in the NICU, a grand total of 27 days. Although to some of the mommies of micro preemies and preemies with other serious health issues this may not seem like that long, but for me it was a lifetime. That many more days feeling distant, apart, and strangely detached from her. The nurses really only wanted us to hold her during feeding time, once every 3 hours, for about 20 minutes. So we would come to the hospital for at least 2 feedings a day. Usually spending about six hours there, sitting on the couch, watching her sleep in her incubator, and later, her crib.

During my OB rotation in nursing school I never understood those women that demanded their babies be immediately handed to them, still dripping with blood and birth goo, cord still dangling, to be held skin to skin and begin the bond. To be quite frank I thought it was horrendous, I mean for God sake wipe the thing off or something first. But as I sat there in the NICU, looking as this little baby from across the room I just felt like she belonged to someone else. I had not bonded with her at all, I felt like she was stolen from me, held captive. I hardly even saw my baby after she was born, a split second, then the window was shut. I got to hold this baby, my baby, for less than an hour a day and that's only when my husband or family didn't want to sneak in on the chance. She was tied to the wall by an entourage of tubes and monitors. You couldn't go further than the rocking chair by her crib.

When we were not at the hospital my husband and I lived pretty normally, like we had no baby at all. My husband was laid off at the time, and I was on maternity leave, so there we were baby less parents. Oh yeah and I kept pumping.

Another way a new mom bonds with her baby is through breastfeeding. My baby wad being fed breast milk with added formula for extra calories to help her gain weight via a tube through her nose. So that was out of the question. Everything that you read encourages what they call "kangaroo care" or "skin to skin" holding of your baby but whenever we tried that there seemed to be a problem. The nurses would ONLY let me hold her during feeding times and she had horrible reflux. This being said it took a long time to get her pj's on and off with all the monitors she had and they did not want her to be moved around after her feeding or she would spit it up. So the closest I ever really got was being able to unswaddle her and hold her pjs to skin, still for 20 minutes or less, once every three hours.

The baby I was looking at was not my own. She belonged to someone else. Some one else was meeting all of her needs and I was useless to her. Just another face, just another visitor.

Did that really happen, did I have a baby?

The labor itself went so fast. It was relatively comfortable compared to what I expected. I progressed from 4-10 cm in 10 minutes after I got an epidural, then I was rushed to the operating room. Although the plan had been a vaginal birth from the beginning and my OB was onboard we agreed that I would have the baby in the OR so they could pass her through this this little window, which looks exactly like a McDonalds drive thru, I swear, I'll post a pic, directly into the NICU when she was born.

After just a couple of minutes of pushing the baby came. "The little gray alien," as my husband calls her. She was very cyanotic, blue, when she was born. She cried and breathed shortly thereafter. The doctor held her up for a split second and that was it. My husband was escorted to the NICU to be with the baby while I sat in an OR finishing giving birth. It was so quiet, so lonely, no one would say anything about how she was doing even though they could see through the window. Her crying had stopped, I knew that much and I heard a bunch of people yelling, then someone shut the window.

I was wheeled back into my L&D room, still alone, and the nurse handed me the tv remote and my call button and left. I sat there for a split second, trying to figure out what the hell just happend. Watch tv, are you kidding me? I have no idea if my baby is alive or dead, I know she was fighting. I called the nurse right back when I realized that our families and a couple close friends were in the waiting room and asked for them to be brought in. No one had even bothered to tell them I had the baby yet. We called them to come to the hospital when my water broke but that was less than an hour ago so they were not expecting me to be all done and settled back in my room.

The NICU ARNP on call that night came to talk to me after not to long and told me about what was going on with the baby. My husband was still by her side and although she was requiring some help breathing, she looked pretty good.

I was able to see her after about and hour. Once my legs worked well enough to get up and use the restroom. They wheeled me over to the NICU and there she was. Perfect and beautiful, covered in monitors, I could hardly see her past her snorkel (CPAP) breathing machine, but I was able to touch her hands. All I remember feeling is guilt. I felt so guilty that she was supposed to still be safely in my belly growing and developing for another almost two months, but instead she was here, not able to breathe on her own, struggling to keep herself alive. That was supposed to be my job, to cook her in my belly until she was safely ready to be born. I cried. I had failed her.

My new job as a full time incubator

At 27 weeks with all of the complications I was officially demoted to human incubation status, or as some people call it, bedrest. My new full time job was to lay on the couch or in bed on my left side, drink 2 gallons of water per day, take pills every four hours, shower every two days, two doctors appointments per week, and keep the baby in my belly. For those who know me, I am not a stationary person, not at all. Before I got pregnant I worked two jobs, one just for fun and extra spending money, went to school working on my masters degree, and trained for and ran half marathons. So bedrest was close enough to a death sentence for me as a firing squad.

This bedrest was of course only at home when I wasn't in active labor. I was hospitalized 4 times during my bedrest, usually staying for between 3 days and a week getting hard core drugs pumped through me to stop active labor. My body was like a ticking time bomb, trying as hard as possible to evict my daughter.

Every week they told me, I was doing a great job, just try to make it another week. Yeah like I can control that.

At 33 weeks I was more than 4cm dilated and went into the hospital on mothers day with severe back pain. The doctor who examined me said the bag of water was hanging out, this was it, my baby would be born today.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

When life gives you.... whatever the f it wants, my background story

Last year I got pregnant. That is where my journey here begins... well to be fair it began when I got pregnant before over and over again but I couldn't seem to carry fast the first couple weeks, but I'm sure I'll reflect back to that someday. Anyways, my pregnancy was seemingly doomed from the beginning.  So  after a year of trying, I though for sure I was pregnant but after spending a small fortune on pregnancy tests I was frustrated by the fact that I was like 3 weeks late now but not pregnant so I went to the doctor. She took a urine sample and shocker, it came back negative. I tried to protest the urine test there because after I asked if it was more accurate than the home ones she told me no. But I reluctantly peed on yet another stick. She did take blood to check too and that came back positive. I didn't tell anyone but my husband for many weeks and I tried really hard to emotionally separate myself from the idea that this positive would turn into an actual baby. I had been disappointed before so from the beginning my armor was up. From the first day, rather than celebrate, I began to lay down the bricks building a wall between me and my future daughter.

 Although the "morning" sickness reminded me constantly that I was pregnant, I still told myself that it wasn't going to last. By the way what idiot named it morning sickness. I was so sick, all day, all night, at work, at home, I could hardly peel myself of the couch for nearly 12 weeks. It didn't make it any better that at my first midwives appointment at about 10 weeks they couldn't hear the heart on doppler. She didn't look any further and said it was ok and normal but I was pissed. I was convinced that I was being sent home to incubate a dead baby for 2 more weeks until my first ultrasound. By this time most of our family and friends knew we were pregnant. They kept asking me if I was excited and I would try to smile and say yes but they could see right through it. More bricks...

My 12 week ultrasound was amazing. To my surprise there was a baby there. It even looked like a baby, and I got to watch her dance roll and move on the screen. It was beautiful, she was beautiful, she was there, a real baby with a heartbeat! By that point my morning sickness was starting to let up and I was settling into this whole pregnancy thing and though that things were going pretty good.

I was not showing at 20 weeks. My midwife constantly reassured me that my fundus was in the right spot and the baby was still growing well. I just looked/felt fat. None of my clothes fit. Not the pre-pregnancy stuff or the maternity stuff. At my 18 week US we found out the gender and could not be more thrilled. Could it be? Was I finally starting to take down my wall?

I was having a lot of contractions the following week and went into the midwife to be seen. She assured me things looked good and the monitor did not show anything to worry about but she did a cervical exam just to be safe and found that my cervix wasn't right. I was only 20 weeks, this shouldn't happen until 35-40 weeks. She sent me to a specialist for a special kind of ultrasound to measure the length of my cervix. They could not get me in for a couple days so I waited. I was sure something was wrong. On the day of the appointment my husband had to work so I went by myself. I sat in the seat as the tech put a giant plastic condom on a freaky looking anal probe and informed me that this ultrasound is going to be done from the inside. She begins the exam talking me through it, things are looking good, she's making conversation, takes a couple of measurements, then says, that can't be right, re takes measurements, then doesn't say another word for the rest of the exam. She leaves me for what feels like eternity while I sit there and prepare for the worst.

The doctor came in with news and two new diagnoses incompetent cervix, and polyhydramnios. The first means that my cervix is not holding up to the demands of pregnancy and it is critically "thinning." The way mine measured at that point the doctor told me that I would not make it to my due date. The new goal for me would be 35 weeks. I was destined for medications, bedrest, weekly ultrasounds, and possible fetal loss. The other diagnosis meant that I had more amniotic fluid than was normal. Babies drink the amniotic fluid for nutrients and then they excrete into it to make more so your fluid leves should remain fairly constant. They had no reason that they could see as to why I had so much. They gave me statistics about what could cause this, since I already aced my glucose test that ruled out the most likely culprit. That left idiopathic (we have know idea why) or serious genetic or structural disease not previosly seen on US (about 10% chance). But the other problem was that all of this excess fluid was filling up my uterus putting even more pressure on my fragile cervix. So I went home with a book full of pamphlets about these new changes and I was ordered to take it easy for now. All I heard was high risk for fetal loss and 1 in 10 chance of severe genetic disease. I couldn't rush fast enough to begin building that wall again.

I continued to go for weekly ultrasounds and my cervix got worse and worse. Then at one appointment she did a cervical check. I was dilated 1cm at 27 weeks. She wanted me to go to the birth center for some medicine. Meanwhile she hooked me to the monitor just to see what was going on. I was having contractions every 3 minutes. This could be it, I was in labor.